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Constantine's removal of the seat of
govern ment from Rome to Byzantium, may be the signification of the two legs of iron ; for though the imperial power was on the decline at that time, and progressively more and more so, as we descend downwards towards the feet of the image, yet the dominions conquered by his predecessors and himself were still preserved together and entite, or nearly so, by the terror of the roman name, and by the remainder of that iron strength which the Barbarians were not yet able to cope with. But after this, its sun of glory hastily verged towards to the place appointed for its setting. The debased and degraded period of the FEET commenced. It was no longer of solid iron, but an ill compounded incoherent mass, of the remaining iron filled out with » IRY CLAY ; and shortly afterwards ensued the division into ten toes, or the kingdoms of the beast now newly risen out of the
* Rev, xiii. 1. This coincidence between the TEN TOES of the image, in its last stage of weakness and adulteration, and the actual division of the empire (exactly at that period of time) into ten kingdoms of principal nute, is so very remarkable a cir cumstance, that like a land-mark at sea, it is pointed out in Daniel's prophecy of the four beasts (ch. vii.) under the em. blem of ten horns upon the head of the last beast. And again by StrJohn under the same emblem. Rev. xii. 3.-xiii. 1. See Newton on the Prophecies, vol. iv. in loc.--for the different accounts given by various interpreters of these ten papal kingdoms,
Arrived now at that period of time when the several kingdoms of Europe, were established, upon the basis of the Roman empire overthrown in Augustulus, and by the admixture of miry clay new modelled and continued on in a different form, (being now the BEAST which lived again after his wound unto death, and together with his IMAGE making up one league and confederacy of antichristianism,)--a more important and interesting scene opens upon us, and the holy prophet, concise as his narrative is, yet scatters some hints which may lead to a probable conjecture of what is meant by the clay so intimately combined with the original iron as to form one body with it, to the great weakening of its power of resistance, against the force that was (in due time) to be applied for its breaking
in pieces, in order to the building up of the kingdom of Christ, of which there shall be no end but with the consummation of all things.
Daniel's brief sketch of the Roman empire under the
emblem of the legs of a great image, in chap second, illustrated by himself in three following visions In chap. seventh, by the fourth beast and his little horn.— In chap eighth by the king of fierce countea nance.--In chap eleventh by the king the great defender of Mahuzzim. --The substance of these four representations given collectively by St. John in his two beasts and their image. The false mi. racle of commanding fire to come down from heaven, compared with a true one of the witnesses, The character of the same antichristian chief, as drawn by David, conformably to the prophecies which followed after, and to historical truth.
THE vision of the great image, revealed in a prophetic dream to a heathen king, from the time of whose reign the days of its wonderful and great revolutions take their commencement, could not be expounded to him from the customary resources of art and delusion, because the communications necessary for the diviners to work upon were with-held : an irresistible restraint having been laid upon the powers of darkness, by the strong hand of Omnipotence. The interpretation was therefore given in such a manner, as to shew clearly from whence the information was derived, and that it was ultimately designed for the comfort and instruction of the servants of God in all ages to come. The prophet of the true God alone was able to restore the evanescent traces of the image originally impressed, and to give the interpretation, in which the fates of the church in the LATTER DAYS were to be unfolded. This is done in a concise and rapid sketch of the prophetic history, which like the first outline of an historical painting passes over the whole design with a few masterly touches, leaving the intermediate objects to be filled in at leisure, and the parts too faintly drawn in this first design to be brought forward by successive additions, a bolder projection of the light and shade, and a suitable disposition of the colouring tints,