Page images

Let him that hath understanding count the 5. number of the beast : for it is the number of 5 a man ;'and his number is six hundred three 6 score and fix." Most interpreters, from Irenæus downwards, have considered thiş number, as containing the name of the beast in a cypher, which, when decyphered, is Lateinos”, that being the proper dame in Greek of the western Roman empire. I have no objection to this interpretation, as far as it goes; but I apprehend, it is not the whole of the truth. As the seven heads contain a double mystery. Thewing the place of Antichrift's empire, and the time of its erection, fo likewise does the num. ber 666. It shews the place, by giving the name, and fixes the time, by directing us to add to the date of the vision 666 of that kind of number commonly in use among men to cal


(1) In Greek, numbers are marked by the letters of the alphabet, and the name is decyphered thus :

a = 30 :1


[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

culate distant periods, that is years. Now the Apostle received the visioń about the year go', to which, if you add 666, it will bring you down to the year 756; and in that year the Bishop of Rome 'was invested with the rights of a temporal sovereign. With that period, therefore, commenced the forty-two months of his reign.

4. These sentiments are confirmed, when I reflect, that the duration of the temporal sovereignty is a proper subject of prophetic calculation, becaufe it is a notour event. The beginning of it is well known, so must the end. If therefore it measures a period of forty-two



(1) The commonly received opinion is, that the Apocalypse was written in the year 96. But all allow, that the Apostle John was banished to the isle of Patmos by Domitian, who ended his reign and persecution together in the year 96; therefore the presumption is, that the Apoftle received those visions previous to that æra. Mosheim observes from Hegefippus, that Domitian's persecution began in-92, and that the Emperor's chief reafon to perfecute Christians, was a fear that some of the relations of Christ would usurp the empire. If fo, it is reafoņable to suppose, that the Apostle John, the only one then alive who had seen Christ, the beloved disciple likewise, should be the chief object of the tyrant's jealousy, and the first vidim of his rage, from which I think it is probable that hę was banished to Patmos previous to the year 92.

months, the fall of it must carry conviction to every rational mind, in the least acquainted with the transactions of Europe. But if we date, the time of Antichrist's continuance, from the Bifhop of Rome's apoftacy, the commencement of it is not so obvious. It was so gradual in its progress, that the most accurate historian cannot say what is the precise period at which it began. Accordingly, there is a confusion and embarrassment in the interpretations of those who date from that period ; their uncertainty with regard to the commencement, necessarily affecting their views of the completion.

If we date the forty-two months of the beast, from the period in which the Bishop of Rome attained the temporal sovereignty, there will be little difficulty in reducing them to the years of the common computation.

Aistulphus king of the Lombards took Ra. venna, A. D. 752. Being in poffeffion of the Exarchate, he claimed the Dutchy of Rome as a part of it. But the Romans being unwil. ling to acknowledge his claim, or pay tribute, he led his forces against Rome, A. D. 754. The Pope Stephen II. alarmed by the danger, applied to Pepin of France for protection. This Pope, and his predeceffor Zachary, had laid Pepin under considerable obligations fome time before. For when Pepin, who was Mayor of the palace to Childerick, caused his lawful sovereign to be deposed, and had himself


proclaimed in his stead, he applied and obtained from Zachary the fanction of the Roman Oracle to his'usurpation, and Stephen confirmed the deed of his predecessor. In return for these fervices, Pepin led an army into Italy, A.-D. 755; against thë Lombards, conquered Aistulphus, and obliged him by a folemn treaty to renounce the Exarchate, which Pepin bestowed on Ste. phen and his successors in office, under the name of St. Peter's Patrimony. The next year Aistul. phus violated, without remorse, a treaty into which he had entered with reluctance, and led his forces a second time against Rome. Upon this Pepin returned to Italy, and not only obliged Aiftulphus to raise the siege of Rome, but besiegéd him in his turn in Ravenna, and forced him to execute the treaty, by renouncing the Exarchate, which Pepin again delivered over, by a grant to Stephen and his fucceffors in office, laying the charter, together with the keys of the several cities belonging to the Exarchate, with much folemnity, on the altar of St. Peter, A. D. 756'.

[blocks in formation]

(1) Segonius de regno Italiæ, 80. Mizeray's History of France, vol. i. p. 216.


Duration and End of Antichrist's Reign.

HERE the forty-two months of the beast's reign began. But in order to discover where they end, it is necessary to ascertain, whether they are to be taken in a literal sense, for three natural years and a half; or in a mystic fense, putting a day for a year, in which case they amount to 1260 years. The defenders of the beast labour hard to establish the literal sense ; but the following reasons must convince the unprejudiced, that they are to be taken in a mystic fenfe :

1. This mode of calculation was familiar to the whole Jewish nation; for as the law ordained every seventh year to be a year of rest, this naturally led them to reckon time by weeks of years, as well as weeks of days, and by parity of reason a day for a year.

2. This mode of calculation was commonly used by the prophets. Thus, there is an emblematical representation of a siege, (Ezekiel iv. 6.); and God commands the prophet to lie on his fide forty days, to represent forty years ; for (says he) I have appointed thee each day


« PreviousContinue »