Page images
PDF
EPUB

when this revelation was communicated to St. John, its dominion was extended over all the known world.

Furnished with these plain directions by the Apostle, we proceed to trace the gradual rife and progrefs, decline and fall of the Man of Sin, as prefented to our view by history and the course of present events.

No opportunity could be more favourable for the difplay of his ambition, his deceit, and his fuperftition, than the unhappy state of the Chriftian world in the fifth century. The members of the eastern and the western churches were divided into parties, by religious difputes the most un

"It seems intended by the angel's interpretation that we should confider the city of Rome as marked out in this Prophecy for the feat of government to prevent mistakes, that we fhould not understand this Prophecy of an empire or government in any other place than the city of Rome, though it should take the name and style of the Roman Empire, as the Greek Emperors and the Emperors of Germany have severally done. This may give us a good reason why the city of Rome in this Prophecy is described by its natural fituation, as well as by its government, and why feven heads are interpreted to mean seven mountains, as well as feven kings." Lowman, p. 177.

B 3

important;

important; in confequence of which, they perfecuted each other with the greatest animofity and rancour. They were erroneous in faith, and degenerate in practice; and their credulity and ignorance fully prepared them for the reception of him, whofe coming was after the working of Satan, with all power, and figns, and lying wonders &.

His temporal dominion arofe out of the ruins of the Roman Empire. The change of the feat of government to Constantinople, and the dethronement of Momyllus Auguftulus, were events that led immediately to the establishment of a new Power. Auguftulus was depofed by Odoacer, King of the Heruli, in the year 476, who thus gave the deadly wound to the western Empire". "This laft Emperor of the West would be less entitled," fays Gibbon,

"than

2 Theff. ii. 9. 1 Mofheim, vol. i. p. 228. i Gibbon, vol. iii. p. 494. 4to. Edit. After the example of Mr. Whitaker in his excellent View of the Prophecies, I fhall introduce into this and the following Chapter, several striking paffages from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, which fhow the completion of Prophecy. Gibbon has already rendered great fervice to this fubject, as may be seen by referring to

" than his more immediate predeceffors to the notice of posterity, if his reign, which was marked by the extinction of the Ro man Empire in the Weft, did not leave a memorable era in the hiftory of mankind." Such was indeed the cafe, for thus the beaft was wounded-be that letteth was taken out of the way; and few obftacles remained to retard the full developement of the Man of Sin. Theodoric, the fucceffor, of Auguftulus, by removing the feat of Empire to Ravenna, took from Rome all its dig, nity-her fenate and confuls were abolifhed, and he was reduced to the level of the other cities of Italy.

vol. i. c. 2. and he might contribute much more to it, did not the limits of my work confine me to particulaṛ quotations. Although as a difciple of Voltaire he delighted to afperfe the characters of Chriftians, and represented every circumstance to their disadvantage; yet he was compelled as an Hiftorian to liften to the voice of truth, and not to fupprefs important facts and events. His ftatements, even partial as they fometimes are, render him a powerful witness against Infidelity, by which he is manifeftly actuated; and in favour of Christianity, which is fo frequently the subject of his profane farcasms. Not aware of the obvious use that may be made of his representations, like the idle fervant in the parable of the talents, "he is condemned out of his own mouth."

During

B 4

[ocr errors]

During a period of 200 years, Italy was unequally divided between the kingdom of the Lombards, and the exarchate of Ravenna. The offices and profeffions, which the jealoufy of Conftantine had separated, were united by the indulgence of Juftinian; and eighteen fucceffive Exarchs were invested, in the decline of the Empire, with the full remains of civil, of military, and even of ecclefiaftical power. Their immediate jurifdiction, which was afterwards confecrated as the patrimony of St. Peter, extended over the modern Romagna, the marfhes or valleys of Ferrara and Commachio, five maritime cities, from Rimini to Ancona; and a fecond, inland Pentapolis, between the Adriatic coaft and the hills of the Apennine. Three fubordinate provinces of Rome, of Venice, and of Naples, which were divided by hostile lands from the palace of Ravenna, acknowledged, both in peace and war, the fupremacy of the Exarch. The dutchy of Rome appears to have included the Tufcan, Sabine, and Latian conquefts, of the first 400 years of the city; and the limits may be distinctly traced along the coaft, from Civita Vecchia, to Terracina, and

1

with the course of the Tyber from Ameria and Narni to the of Oftia *." port

"Rome was oppreffed by the iron fceptre of the Exarchs; and a Greek, perhaps an eunuch, infulted with impunity the ruins of the Capitol."-" On the map of Italy, the measure of the exarchate occupies a very inadequate fpace; but it included an ample proportion of wealth, industry, and population. The most faithful and valuable subjects escaped from the Barbarian yoke, and the banners of Pavia and Verona, of Milan and Padua, were displayed in their respective quarters, by the new inhabitants of Ravenna, The remainder of Italy was poffeffed by the Lombards '.”

[ocr errors]

د.

"The Bishops of Italy and the adjacent iflands acknowledged the Roman pontiff (Gregory the Great) as their special metropolitan. Even the existence, the union, or the translation of epifcopal feats, was decided by his abfolute difcretion; and his fuccefsful inroads into the provinces of Greece, of Spain, and of Gaul, might.

* Gibbon, vol. iv. p. 443.

Gibbon, vol. iv. p. 444, 445.

coun

« PreviousContinue »