Page images

A combination of Prophecy with History will fhew. with what perfect exactness this Papal Power of Antichrift is marked out by the Prophets Daniel, St. Paul, and St. John.

To guide our enquiries to the right points of obfervation, St. John has defignated, by certain appropriate allufions and defcriptions, the peculiar nature of this power, the time when it began to manifeft itself to the world, and the feat of its authority and government.

And I flood upon the fand of the Sea, and faw a beaft rife up out of the fea, having feven beads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blafphemy. This wonderful beast with a crown on each horn, and a blafphemous inscription on each of his feven heads, denoted the new form of government that was to be erected in the city of Rome, by the great commotions of the world, after the Imperial Power had been destroyed, and the Empire was divided into ten diftinct and independent fovereignties.


In the myftical defcription which the Apoftle afterwards gives of this beast, it will

Lowman on the Revelations, p. 173.

a Rev. xiii. 1.

• Lowman, p. 191.


greatly affift our enquiries to difcover by a given number, when this Antichriftian power shall arife; and from thence ascertain with more precision what Power is meant by this prophetical reprefentation. Here is wisdom: let him that hath understanding, count the number of the beaft: for it is the number of a man, and his number is fix hundred threescore and fixd. If we compute this number 666 from the time when St. John faw this Prophetic vifion, we fhall find that this new Power was established at the termination of this mystic number of years. St. John was banished to the. ifle of Patmos in the latter part of the reign of Domitian, and returned from thence immediately on his death. Domitian reigned from 81 to 96. Now St. John faw the vision in the isle of Patmos ; and it is generally acknowledged, that the Papacy received the temporal power, and became the beast, in 756.

d Rev. xiii. 18.

• It is very remarkable that this myftic number should fo accurately apply both to the time when the Papal Antichrist established his reign, and the titles he affumed. See note to the Introductory Chapter, vol. i. p. 393. Pyle's Paraphrafe, p. 105. Newton, vol. iii. p. 390. Lowman, p. 194.

[blocks in formation]

The feat of this Power is fixed at Rome. THAT GREAT CITY, which in the times of Pagan idolatry had been the miftrefs of the antient world by the force of her arms, became in more modern ages, by the establishment of her fpiritual laws, fo much exalted in power, as to reign over the kings of the earth. The woman, upon whofe forehead was infcribed Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots, and abominations of the earth, is, according to the explanation of the angel, the city of Rome; for the Seven heads of the beast that carried her are feven mountains on which the woman fitteth, and the woman which thou faweft is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth. Rome is well known to be built upon feven hills; and at the time when this revelation was communicated to St. John, its dominion was extended over all the known world f.


f "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 should 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 ftyle of the Roman Empire, as the Greek Emperors and the Emperors of Germany have severally done. This may give us a good


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

No opportunity could be more favourable for the display of his ambition, his deceit, and his fuperftition, than the unhappy state of the Christian world in the fifth century. The members of the eastern and the western churches were divided into parties, by religious difputes the most unimportant; 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 3.

His temporal dominion arose out of the ruins of the Roman Empire. The change of the feat of government to Conftantinople, and

reason why the city of Rome in this Prophecy is described by its natural fituation, as well as by its government, and why seven heads are interpreted to mean seven mountains, as well as feven kings." Lowman, p. 177.

[blocks in formation]

the dethronement of Momyllus Auguftulus, were events that led immediately to the cftablishment 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 h. "This laft Em

[ocr errors]

peror of the Weft would be lefs entitled," fays Gibboni, "than his more immediate predeceffors to the notice of pofterity, if his reign, which was marked by the extinction of

h Mofheim, vol. i. p. 228.

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 vol. i. c. 2. and he might contribute much more to it, did not the limits of my work 'confine me to particular quotations. Although as a disciple of Voltaire he delighted to afperfe the characters of Chriftians, and reprefented every circumftance to their difadvantage; yet he was compelled as an Hiftorian ta listen to the voice of truth, and not to fupprefs important facts and events. His statements, even partial as they fometimes are, render him a powerful witness against Infidelity, by which he is manifeftly actuated; and in favor of Christianity, which is fo frequently the fubject of his profane farcafms. Not aware of the obvious use that may be made of his reprefentations, like the idle fervant in the parable of the talents, " he is condemned out of his own "mouth."


« PreviousContinue »