« AnteriorContinuar »
Christian church over her, and the wound she received from them.
It is said of that head of the empire that shall be next after the sixth head, and next before Antichrist, and that is not reckoned as properly one of the number of the heads of the beast, that when it comes, it shall continue a short space, chap. xvii. 10. By which we may well understand, at least, that it shall be one of the shortest in its continuance, of the successive heads. But the government seated at Ravenna, in the hands of the Goths, or of the deputies of the Greek emperors, (which Mr. Lowman supposes to be meant by this head) continued, as Mr. Lowman himself takes notice, very near 300 years. And if so, its continuance was one of the longest of the heads mentioned.
And besides, if the government that Rome was under, from the time that Augustulus abdicated, to the time when the Pope was confirmed in his temporal dominion, was meant by that seventh head that was to be between the imperial head and the pa pal, there would doubtless have been two different heads mentioned, instead of one, between the emperor and the Pope ; viz. First, the Gothic princes, which reigned near an hundred years : Secondly, the Exarchs of Ravenna, which governed for about 185 years. The Gothic kingdom was much more properly a distinct government from the imperial, than the Exarchate of Ravenna. For during the Exarchate, Rome was under the government of the emperor, as much as it was in Constantine's time.
In Rev. xvii. 12, it is said, the “ ten horns are ten kings, which are to receive power as kings one hour with the beast, or (as Mr. Lowman says it ought to have been translated) “ the same hour or point of time with the beast." This will not allow the time when Antichrist first receives power as king, to be so late as Mr Lowman supposes. This division of the empire into many kingdoms, denoted by the number ten, was about the year 456, after Gensericus had taken the city of Rome : But Mr. Lowman places the beginning of the reign of Antichrist in the year 756, which is 300 years later. I know, such an expression as in one hour, or the same hour,
may allow some latitude ; but surely not such a latitude as this. This is a much longer time,,than it was from the time of the vision to Constantine ; much longer than the space of all the first six seals ; longer than it was from Christs' ascen. sion to Constantine ; and near as long as the time of all the reigns of the heathen emperors put together, from Augustus Cæsar to Constantine. An hour is every where, in the other places in this book of Revelation, used to signify a very short time ; as may be seen in places cited in the margin.* And the expression, the same hour, every where else in the Bible, intends near the same point of time. The phrase one hour is used several times in the next chapter, speaking of the downfall of Antichrist : And each time, evidently signifies a very short space of time. And there is no reason why we should not understand the same phrase in the same sense, when it is used here concerning the rise of Antichrist.
Mr. Lowman greatly insists upon il, that what is spoken as continuing 1260 days, is not so much any spiritual authority or ecclesiastical power of the Pope, over the nations of Christendom, as his temporal government and dominion in that individual city of Rome ; and therefore to determine when these 1260 days or years began, and when they will end, we must consider when the Pope first received this his temporal pow. er over this city of Rome, and the neighboring regions, called St. Peter's Patrimony. But I can see no good reason for this. Indeed it is strange, if it be so. God has been pleased in these revelations and prophecies, which he has given for the benefit of his church in general, to speak much concerning an Antichristian power that should arise, that should persecute the saints, and scatter the power of the holy people, and be an occasion of great affliction to the church of Christ ; and in these revelations, in both old Testament and new, has declar. ed, and often repeated it, that his dominion shall continue so long, and no longer; and for the comfort of his church in
* Rev. xviii. 10, 17, 19. Chap. xi. 3.....iii. 10.....viii. 3.....ix. 15.....xiv. 7.-t Dan. iii. 6..... iv. 33. v. 5. Mat. viii. 13.....X. 19. Luke vii, 21..... xii. 12.....XX. 19.....Xxiv, 33. John iv. 53. Acts xvi. 18, 33.....xxii, 13. Rev. xi. 13. -Verse 10, 17, 19.
general, Christ hath sworn with great solemnity, that the continuance of this persecuting power shall be thus limited ; Dan. xii. 7.
Now it would be strange, if in all this the thing principally intended is not that dominion of this Antichristian power that chiefly concerns the church of Christ in general, but merely his temporal dominion over one province in Italy, called St. Peter's patrimony. Doubtless that dominion of Antichrist which the prophecies insist upon and describe, is the dominion whose duration and limits those prophecies declare. But the dominion of Antichrist which the prophecies insist upon and describe, is not any dominion over a particular province in Italy, but the dominion by which he succeeds the four great monarchies of the world ; Dan. yii. The dominion by which he succeeds the dragon in his power, throne and great authority; Rev. xiii. 2. The dominion in which he has power given him over all kindreds, tongues and nations ; ver. 7. The dominion by which the great whore site on many waters ; (chap. xvii. 1.) which the angel explains to be peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues ; (ver. 15) and the dominion in which he reigns over the ten kings, into which the Roman empire is di. vided ; Rev. xii. 1, and xvii. 3, 12, 13. The beast that had ten horns, is not the city of Rome and the neighboring region, but the Roman empire ; they are the horns or the kings, not of the city, but of the empire. If we consider what is expressed in the passages themselves, which speak of the three years and half of Antichrist, they will lead us to understand something very diverse from the duration of his temporal dominion over St. Peter's patrimony. In Dan. vii. 25, the time, times and an half, of the little horn, is expressly the continuance of time wherein it shall be given to him to change times and laws, and wear out the saints of the Most High : And in chap. xii. 7, it is spoken of as the time of his scattering the power of the holy people : In Rev. xi. 2, the forty and two months is spoken of as the time of Antichrist's treading under foot the court of the temple and the holy city ; i. e. the external or visible Christian church abroad in the world, or the nations of Christendom. In ver. 3, the twelve hundred and sixty days
of Antichrist are spoken of as the time of the witnesses prophe. sying in sackcloth ; and in chap. xii. 6, and 14. the time of the qvoman's being in the wilderness, which was through the great power that Antichrist had over the Christian world, and not his small temporal dominion in Italy.
It is true, some regard is had in the prophecies to the city of Rome, the city built on seven hills : Which, being the fountain of all rule and authority in the Roman monarchy, and the capital city of the empire, from wher.ce the whole empire was denominated, and the place where the head of the empire usually resided, was properly made use of by the angel, Rev. xvii. 9, 18, to shew what empire Antichrist should rule over, and what city he should usually reside in. And this is all that can be meant by the words of the angel; and not that those streets and walls, and that very ground, were such main and essential things in what the prophecy intended by the beast ; that when Antichrist's dominion began in that place, then the beast ceases. For if so, then it will follow, that the beast had his head wounded to death a second time, and ceased to be, when the Popes resided at Avignon in France, for the best part of a century; when not only the Popes did not reside at Rome, nor in any part of St. Peter's patrimony, nor any part of Italy ; but some of them were neither Romans, nor Italians. Though the angel says of the great whore, Rev. xvii. 18. “ The woman which thou sawest, is that great city which reigns over the kings of the earth : Yet by the city, in this case, is not meant so much what was contained within those Roman walls, as the Roman empire ; as is evident by chap. xi. 8. “ And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt." Here, by the great city, neither Mr. Lowman himself, nor I suppose any other Protestant interpreter, understands the city of Rome, strictly speaking, but the Roman monarchy.
And though it be true, as Mr. Lowman observes, the Pope's ecclesiastical monarchy, and power, and influence, through Christendom, was greatly established and advanced by Pepin's making him a temporal prince over the exarchate of Ravenna ; yet, I would ask, whether the Pope's power and influence in
the world, and his ability to disturb the quiet of the nations of Christendom, and (as it is expressed in Daniel) to change times and laws, and to carry his own designs, in the various countries and kingdoms of Europe, was not greater before Pepin, than it is now, and has been for a long time? And yet Mr. Lowman supposes that now is properly the time of Antichrist's reign, that the twelve hundred and sixty years of his reign continues, and will continue for about two hundred and seventy years longer ; though his power be now so small, and has been declining ever since the reformation, and still declines continually.
One thing that Mr. Lowman supposes confirms his opinion of so late a beginning of the twelve hundred and sixty years of the reign of the beast, is the order of the several periods of this prophecy, and the manner of their succeeding one another.
As to his particular scheme of the seven periods, so dịvided and limited, and so obviously ranked in such order, and following one another in such direct and continued succession, and each ending in a state of peace, safety and happiness to the church of God, it seems to me to be more ingenious than solid, and that many things might be said to demonstrate it not to be founded in the truth of things, and the real design of the divine Author of this prophecy. But now to enter into a particular and full examination of it, would be to lengthen out this discourse far beyond its proper limits. I would only observe (which directly concerns my present purpose) that to make out this scheme, Mr. Lowman supposes that the fifthand sixth trumpets, that bring on the two first woes, and the whole 9th chapter of the Revelation, altogether respects the Saracens. But it appears to me not very credible that the Saracens should have so much said of them in this prophecy, as to have a whole chapter taken up about them, and not a word in the whole prophecy be said about the Turks, who immediately succeeded them in the same religion, and pro
For though it be true, that the reign of Othman, or Ottoman, who began what they call the Ottoman empire, was a long time after this; yet the Turks