Page images

foon corrupted it, and perfecuted those who had preserved its principles untainted; infomuch that it might be queftioned whether their favour was not as hurtful to the Church of Christ as their enmity.

And he adds, that as the power of the Roman Emperors declined, that of the Roman Pontiffs increased; and that it may, with equal juftice, be faid of the latter, as of the former, that they caft down the truth to the ground, and practifed and profpered.

But notwithstanding all this is very ingenious, and obferved with much penetration; and there are certainly fuch characters marked in the description of this dreadful Power, (which should harafs the Jews and the fervants of God in the Eaft,) as have a moft. aftonishing fimilarity, in fome points, to the characters of that other Power which fhouldharafs the people of God and the Church in the Weft: yet nevertheless it cannot but be obvious to every confiderate reader, how much embarraffed this excellent Writer is, to reconcile fome obvious difficulties, if all the outlines of the emblematical figure be minutely and properly attended to; and to account for certain parts of the prophecy, which are even



more ftriking than the reft: and how unable he is to do fo (confiftently with his own explanation) in a fatisfactory manner.

The circumftances which embarrass him, and the particularities in this part of the prophecy, which render it not truly and accurately applicable to the Roman empire, are:

First, That the Roman power and dominion had already been prefigured, in a former part of Daniel's vifion, by the emblem of a diftinct great and furious beast, ch. vii. ver. 7 and 8 and if this prefent interpretation of Bishop Newton's is to be admitted, it is here again represented, in a very different manner, under the image only of a little born of quite another beaft; whilft the original emblem is forgotten, and departed from entirely.

Secondly. And, in the next place, it is not only described by a new and different image, a little horn; but that horn appertains in reality to, and is part of, the emblem, (the He-Goat,) which related to a very different and diftinct empire. And it is hardly a fufficient folution of this difficulty, or a fatisfactory anfwer to the objection that may obviously be made, to fay that the Romans are bere defcribed only with refpect to THAT power

power which they had in the Eaft, when they conquered part of the dominions which had belonged to the Grecian empire, that was originally prefigured by the He-Goat.

Thirdly. If this Little Horn is an emblem of any Roman dominion whatever, it renders totally nugatory and useless the emblem of the other little born, which had been defcribed, ch, vii. ver. 8, as arifing on the head of the fourth great and dreadful beaft, representing the Roman empire; before which little born three of the first borns of that beaft were plucked up by the roots. And it introduces much embarrassment, by confounding these two images together; and deftroys that clearnefs and perfpicuity, for which this whole wonderful prophecy is otherwife fo remarkable in all its parts.

Fourthly. The character given of the be ginning of this formidable power; that it should be by means of a king of fierce counte nance, and understanding dark fentences; does little agrce with that of the Roman power, which exifted without any king at all at that 469. time; and was Republican, or rather Ariftocratical, during the conquefts in the Eaft ; and was compofed of a people concerning


whom it could by no means be faid, during that period, that they understood dark fentences, or were famed for any fuch kind of fcience. And it is furely by no means a fatisfactory folution of this difficulty, to fay merely that the Roman power was politic and artful.

Fifthly. That other part of the description; that his power should be mighty, but not by his own power; is explained in a manner that is liable to much objection, when Bishop Newton fays, in commenting upon these words," that the Roman empire, as a horn, ❝or kingdom of the goat, was not mighty by "its own power; was not ftrong by virtue "of the goat; but drew its nourishment and "ftrength from Rome and Italy. There

[ocr errors]

grew the trunk and body of the tree, though "the branches extended over Greece, Afia,

Syria, and Egypt." For fuch a fort of ex-. planation as this borders too nearly upon a quibble; and makes the Romans, as thus defcribed, fometimes to be themselves, and fometimes not themselves.

For all thefe reafons, therefore, I cannot but be perfuaded that there is fome mistake

in this interpretation ;--and that we ought to fearch for another explanation :-conceiving, rather, that the possibility of applying so much of the defcription to the Roman power arises merely from the fimilarity that exists between the two great Adverfaries and Impugners of the truth; the one in the East, and the other in the Weft: which two Antichrifts (if that word is to be allowed to be made ufe of on this occafion, or indeed at all,) were prefigured by the two little horns; the one on that dreadful beaft, the fourth beaft, which was an emblem of the Roman power; the other on the He-Goat, an emblem of the Grecian empire.

Before, however, we proceed to investigate 470, what may perhaps appear to be the truer mode of interpretation, I muft just observe, that although Sir Ifaac Newton had entertained the fame ideas as Bishop Newton afterwards did, concerning the Roman power in the Eaft being that which was prefigured by the little horn of the He-Goat; yet he made, moreover, one very fingular observation, the concluding part of which may ferve as a clue to help us to develope the whole matter rightly.


« PreviousContinue »