Page images
PDF
EPUB

tinued as a Christian state under the same sixth head; and that under the same sixth head likewise it revived, and once more came into existence as a beust. In the year 313 then, when Constantine published his famous edict for the advancement of Christianity, the beast was wounded to death in his sixth head; and, in the year 606, when he delivered the saints into the hand of an idolatrous spiritual tyrant, his deadly wound was healed, he became a living anti-evangelical power, and he completely resumed all the bestial functions of bis former pagan character. The space therefore between the year 313 and the year 606 is the space of time, during which the beast was dead, or, as St. Jolin otherwise expresses it, was not*. In the course of the latter part of this intermediate period, he was gradually reviving through the increasing prevalence of individual apostasy, until at length in the year 606 he was perfectly restored to life by the establishment of national apostasy.

This interpretation of the death and revival of the Roman beast under his sixth head will be found to be the only one that accords with the general

[ocr errors]

I have been informed by a friend who has paid much attention to the subject of prophecy (the Rev. T. White), that this very interpretation of the death and revival of the beast was given many years ago by Dr. Henry More. He says, that the beast was slain under his sixth head by ceasing to be idolatrous, and that he revived by relapsing a second time into idolatry, I have never bad an opportunity of reading the Mystery of Iniquity, but I feel myself considerably strengthened in my opinion by the sanction of so able a writer,

tenor

tenor- of symbolical language. : In Daniel's vision of the four beasts we read, that the Roman beast is to be slain * at the end of the 1260 years, but that the lives of the other beasts are to be prolonged for a season and a time, though their dominion be taken away. Now, since the triumphant reign of the saints upon earth is to succeed to the death of the Roman beast, I know not what warrant there is for imagining that all governnient within the precincts of the Roman empire is utterly to be at an end.

It seems more reasonable to suppose, that a happy evangelical order of things will succeed to the present distracted Popish state of the Roman world. Such being the case, the death of the beast must evidently mean, not the annihilation of all lawful Christian government, not a Jacobinical subversion of the powers that be upon the lawless

* St. John predicts his destruction in somewhat different terms. Instead of saying that he should be slain, he represents him as being cast alire into hell. The discrepancy however is more apparent than real. Daniel briefly describes the subver. sion of his bestial power, and intimates that his body should be given to the burning flame : St. John describes at large the manner in which the apostate faction will be overthrown, and, the future punishment of those that were members of the beast by receiving his mark and worshipping his image. Though the beast shall begin to be slain when the 1260 days shall have expired, and though a new and happy order of things will succeed to his destruction, that destruction will not be accomplished without a dreadful slaughter of his adherents; “ there * shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was

a nation even to that same time. Compare Dan. vii. 11, 26. xii. 1. with Rev. xix. 11-21.

principles

principles of the frantic fifth-monarchy men in the sixteenth century; but the utter destruction of those detestable maxims and doctrines which constitute his bestiality, which are his very life, which are interwoven even with his existence as a beast, without the profession of which he would not be a beast. This is yet further manifest from the predicted fate of the other beasts. Their lives, or bestial principles, are to be prolonged during the period of the Millennium; though their dominion, or power of injuring the Church is to be taken away, while the Roman beast is to be slain ; his principles are to be utterly destroyed, never more to revive; and with the destruction of those principles the dominion of his little horn is to be finally taken away; for all, both governors and governed, will form one congregation of faithful worshippers, one great empire of the saints of the Most High *. Accordingly we find, that the beasts whose lives were prolonged, in other words, the nations, which shall adhere to the vanities of the Gentiles, make a grand attack at the close of the Millennium upon the Church : but, their dominion being now taken away, they entirely fail of success,

, and are consigned to the same punishment as those that professed and taught the apostate principles of the Roman beast t-The conclusion to be drawn from the preceding view of Daniel's prophecy is this. Since the final death of the Roman beast, there

* Dan. vii. 11, 26.

Rev. XX. 8, 9, 10.

mentioned,

mentioned, means the destruction of his principles, and since the prolongation of the lives of the other beasts means the prolonged existence of their principles; the first death of the Roman beast under his sixth head, mentioned by St. John, must mean (arguing at least from analogy) the destruction of his idolatrous tyranny by the sword of the Spirit, while his revival by the healing of his deadly wound must in a similar manner signify the renewed ers istence of his idolatrous tyranny. This interpretation is yet further confirmed by the declaration, that the beast in his revived or papally-idolatrous state, and under his last head, should go into perdition, or be utterly destroyed. " A beast, in the “ prophetic style,” says Bp. Newton, as we before observed, is a tyrannical idolatrous empire: " and the Roman empire was idolatrous under the heathen Emperors; and then ceased to be so for

some time under the Christian Emperors; and " then became idolatrous again under the Roman

Pontiffs, and so hath continued ever since. It * is the same idolatrous power revived again, but

only in another form; and all the corrupt part of “ mankind, whose names are not inrolled as good “ citizens in the registers of heaven, are pleased " at the revival of it: but in this last form it shall

go into perdition; it shall not, as it did before,

cease for a time, and revive again, but shall be destroyed for ever *.

Bp. Newton's Dissert. on Rey. xvii.

i. In this passage Bp. Newton gives what I believe to be the true explanation of the existence, the non-existence, and the re-existence of the Roman beast. All that his Lordship has said upon the subject is excellent, and immediately to the purpose: my wonder therefore is, that, after haying adopted so judicious and consistent a mode of exposition, he should so completely have departed from it in what he says relative to the death and revival of the beast under his sirth head. In explaining this part of the prophecy, instead of strictly maintaining the analogy of syinbolical language and adhering to the plan of exposition which he himself lays down, he suddenly adopts an entirely new system, and supposes the death of the beast under his sirth head to mean the subversion of the Western empire, and his revival to mean the rise of the Carlovingian empire. The sixth

heud,says he, was as it were wounded to “ death, when the Roman empire was overturned

by the northern nations, and an end was put to " the very name of Emperor in Momyllus Au

gustulus : or rather, as the government of the “ Gothic kings was much the same as that of the

Emperors, with only a change of the name, this " head was more effectually wounded to death, " when Rome was reduced to a poor dukedom, " and made tributary to the Exarchate of Ra

venna-But not only one of his heads was as it were wounded to death, but his deadly wound was healed. If it was the sixth head which was

“ wounded,

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »