« PreviousContinue »
HRONOLOGY is juftly reckoned one of the eyes of hiftory. Prophecy is the history of events, previous to their accomplishment; and therefore has its chronological calendar annexed. The time of the most remarkable events is fixed; and this has a twofold effect, in eftablishing the faith and patience of the people of God.
God. Before the accomplishment, they are not to doubt of the completion, nor be impatient in waiting for it, because the time appointed is not yet come. Of every scripture-prophecy it may be faid, "The vifion is for an appointed time, "at the end it shall speak, and not lie." After the accomplishment, the time being found to coincide with the circumftances foretold, will afford additional evidence to the rational mind of the divine original of the prophecy.
But though prophecy has its calendar, difficulties will occur in the application of it. Numbers are used fometimes in a myftic fenfe, fometimes in their ordinary meaning. The circumstances of any event predicted may go a great way to discover in what sense they are to be received; but the event itself, when accomplished, can alone determine their meaning with abfolute certainty. If we did know with abfolute certainty the precife meaning, whether myftic or literal, of each number ufed in prophetic defcription, fuch knowledge would enable us to difcover the relative fituation of events; that is, the difference of time betwixt one.event and another; yet ftill it would be difficult to adjust them to the ordinary computation of time; that is, to fhew in what particular year of the Chrif tian æra, this or that event fhall be accom
plifhed. But if any one event in the feries can be with certainty reduced to the years of the common computation, fo may every other.
Time in which the Reign of Antichrift began.
ONE event is fo important, that it engroffes a great part of the prophecies which regard the latter days. I mean the kingdom of Antichrift; and many of the calculations used in them are dated from the commencement of his reign. Though it is no longer a question with Protestants who have directed their attention to the prophecies, who Antichrift is, yet various opinions are still held with refpect to the beginning of his kingdom.
Some date the beginning of Antichrift's kingdom from the Bishop of Rome's apoftacy in articles of faith; others from his affuming the title of Oecumenical Patriarch; but others, and I think with greater propriety, from the period
(1) From these observations, the candid reader will fee that the principles laid down refpecting the dates of events, are not to be confidered as dogmatical affertions, but as probable conjectures. I do not imagine that the dates are equally clear with the events.
in which he attained the temporal sovereignty. My reafons for adopting this opinion, are these:
1. The little horn representing Antichrift is faid to continue "a time and times, and the dividing of time," (Dan. vii. 25.); that is, three years and a half, as it is explained Rev. xii. 6.-14. Now, whether thefe years be taken for natural or prophetic years, they fignify the duration of a temporal kingdom or civil dominion; for the ten horns mentioned in the fame reprefentation, certainly fignify kingdoms, or diftinct territories of the Roman empire; the fitness of the emblem therefore requires that the little horn be a kingdom or diftinct territory of the fame empire. Again it is by understanding it thus, that we learn why it is called a little horn, while it had" a mouth that spoke great things." In point of territory, the Bishop of Rome is but a petty prince; but the time has been, when he caufed every crowned head in Europe to tremble on his throne. Farther, three horns were pluck
ed up by the roots, to make room for the little horn. Thefe, according to the beft interpreters, are the Dutchy of Rome, the Exarchate of Ravenna, and the kingdom of the Lombards. Now these were overturned to establish the pope's temporal dominion. All the circumftançes of the defcription, therefore, fhew that Antichrift
tichrift is termed a horn, on account of his temporal fovereignty; that the continuance of the little horn is, in other words, the duration of that fovereignty; which period must commence with the time in which the Bishop of Rome acquired it, and not before.
2. I argue from Revelation xiii. 5. where it is faid of Antichrift, that "power was given "him to continue forty and two months.” Forty-two months are precifely three years and a half. But who is faid to continue for that time? You will find from the context, it is the seventh or laft head of the beaft, representing the Roman empire. Now the Bishop of Rome could not, with ftrict propriety, be termed the head of the Roman empire, while Rome and its territory were fubject to any other prince, either the Emperor, Exarch, King of the Goths or Lombards; during all that period, the Bishop of Rome was but second in authority; but when he stept into the throne of the Cæfars, he may be justly reckoned the head of the empire. is from that period, therefore, the prophecy be. gins to reckon the forty-two months of his reign.
3. The time of Antichrist's appearance is fixed, Revelation xiii. 18. "Herein is wisdom.