« PreviousContinue »
year 455, when Valentinian died, whom he makes to be the last Emperor of the West.* Independent of the confutation which all these opinions respecting the date of the 1260 years have received from the event, independent of its being impossible to shew how the saints were given into the hand of the Pope at any one of those eras, who can avoid observing the palpable contradictoriness of such a scheme? According to Mr. Mede, the little horn began to exist in the year 727: but the saints were given into the hand of that little horn about the year 455 (for that is the date which he seems to prefer): in other words, the saints were given into his hand near three centuries before he began to exist. The scheme of Bp. Newton leads him into the very same contradiction, though he rejects all Mr. Mede’s dates, having seen his theory confuted by the event. He supposes, that the first of the three horns was plucked up in the year 755, when the Pope became master of the Exarchate of Ravenna, and consequently that the little horn then began to exist : yet he is inclined to date the 1260 years from the year 727. Thus he, like Mr. Mede, dates the 1260 years from an era when by his own account the little horn was not yet in existence; and from an era likewise at which it would be impossible to shew how the saints were given up to the little horn, even supposing the little horn had then first begun to exist.
On these grounds I am rather inclined to think, that the little horn typifies, not the temporal, but the spiritual, kingdom of the Pope; that tyrannical ecclesiastical domination, which at first was only a small and harmless kingdom, but which afterwards became a pretended catholic empire, symbolized in the Apocalypse by a two-horned beast rising up out of the earth or Roman empire, as the little horn rises up out of the ten-horned beast. In short I conceive, that the little horn and the two-horned
The reason, why Mr. Mede dates the 1260 years so early, is, because he imagined that the rise of the man of sin was immediately to succeed the downfall of the Wesfern empire, or tbat wbicb letted. The little born indeed began to arise along with the incursions of the northern nations : but it did not become the apostate man of sin till the saints were delivered into its hand. Accordingly we are taught by Daniel to date tbe 1260 years, not from the rise of the little born, but from the commencement of its spiritual catbolic tyranny. See Mede's Apostacy of the latter Times, Part 1, Chap. 14.
Dissert. XXVI, S.
beast represent the very same ecclesiastical power : the one symbolizing that power at its first rise, and describing it as afterwards having a look more stout than its fellows and as influencing the actions of the whole ten-horned beast ;* the other symbolizing it, when it had grown up into a catholic empire by having had the saints delivered into its hand. Hence we find, that Daniel, who, largely describes the little horn, makes no mention of the two-horned beast : while St. John, who as largely describes the two-horned beast styling him a false prophet, makes no mention of the little horn.
I have asserted, that the little horn, at its first rise among the ten other horns, was harmless. This appears both from the prophecy, and from the accomplishment of the prophecy. The little horn was already in existence when the saints were delivered into his hand: but the apostacy of the 1260 days did not commence in its dominant state till the era of their being so delivered : consequently the little horn was already in existence before the beginning of the apostacy : that is to say, it existed as a horn previous to its existence as an apostate horn. The spiritual kingdom of the Pope sprung up after the Empire had become Christian, or during the period of what St. John styles its non-existence as a beast.t When the ancient pagan beast, that had been wounded to death by the preaching of the Gospel, revived, and set up an idolatrous spiritual tyrant in the Church by constituting Boniface the third Universal Bishop; then were the saints delivered into the hand of the little horn ; then did the little horn begin to have a look more stout than his fellows; then did the universal spiritual empire of the Pope commence. This happened in the year 606 : consequently I esteem this year the most probable date of the 1260 days.
The errors, that have arisen from not attending to the plain language of Daniel relative to the date of that period are almost endless. Scarcely any commentator has
“I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake : I beheld even till the beast was slain." Dan. vii. 11.
+ “The beast, that was, and is not, and yet is.” (Rev. xvii. 8.) The death and revival of the Roman beast will be discussed at large hereafter.
paid the least regard to the special badge of the date : on the contrary, most have wearied themselves with seeking for some imaginary period of the rise of the little horn.* Daniel however explicitly informs us, that we are to date the 1260 days from no one era but this : the year, in which the saints were given into the hand of the little horn then already in existence.t Now, the giving the saints into his hand by no means implies, that he immediately began to persecute them, but only that the
power of persecution was then conferred upon him, that he was constituted their universal spiritual superior. Hence it is evident, that, would we know the date in question, we must learn in what year this ecclesiastical power was formally conferred upon the little horn. It certainly can
The falsehood of many of these computations has been already shewn by the event : had the plain language of Daniel been attended to, they would never have been made. See Mede's Works. Book III. Chap. 10.
# I am aware, that Sir Isaac Newton supposes, that it was not the saints who were delivered into the hand of the little born during the 1260 years, but the times and laws. Now it is not only impossible to point out any specific season when the times and laws were delivered formally into his hand, which the passage obviously requires : but such an opinion is totally irreconcileable with the parallel context of the Revelation. Tbe saints, mentioned by Daniel, are manifestly the same as the apocalyptic witnesses and as tbe persecuted Church in the wilderness. But the apocalyptic witnesses were to prophesy in sackcloth, and tbe Church was to flee from the attack of the dragon, each during ibe period of 1260 years : hence it is clear, that the saints, not the times and laws, were to be given into the hand of tbe little born during the very same space of three prepbetic years and a balf. The identity of the numbers sufficiently shews that they refer to the same persons : but the apocalyptic 1260 years refer to the calamitous prophesying of the witnesses and the desolation of the true Cburch; therefore the three times and a balf of Daniel must refer to tbe wearing out of the saints, not surely to the changing of times and laws. In short, the delivering of the saints into the band of the little born during tbree prepbetic years and a balf is clearly the same event, as tbe causing of the witnesses to prophesy in sackcloth by giving the outer court of the temple and the holy city to the gentiles (or those Christians who had relapsed into the idolatrous abominations of gentilism) during 42 months. The degenerate church however, and along with it the faithful witnesses, were then first given into the hand of the little born, when the Pope was declared to be Universal Bishop and Supreme Head of the Church. It is almost superfluous to remind the reader, that three years and a balf, 42 montbs, and 1260 days, are all the same period. (Compare Dan. vii. 25. with Rev. xi. 2, 3. xii. 6, 14. and xiii. 5, 7.) I may properly add, at the conclusion of this note, that, even if Sir Isaac Newton's supposition be adopted, the dates fixed upon by Mr. Mede and Bp. Newton for the commencement of the 1260 years will be equally irreconcileable with their opinion that the Papacy became a horn by the eradication of the three borns. The times and laws could no more be delivered into the hand of the little born previous to the period of its beginning to exist, than the saints could. I write this however not as in the least hesilating respecting what I have said of Sir Isaac's acceptation of the passage in ques. tion. Since the apocalyptic witnesses are manifestly the same as the saints mentioned by Daniel, and since those witnesses were to prophesy in sackcloth 1260 days ; what was delivered into the hand of the little born during the self-same space of three years and a balf must undoubtedly be the saints, not the times and laws. VOL. I.
not be said to have been conferred either by the down, fall of the Western empire, by the revolt of the Pope from the Greek Emperor, or by his acquisition of the Exarchate. In all these events we can discover nothing like any delivering of the saints into his hand. But, when we find, that in the year 606 Pbocas the usurper of the Constantinopolitan throne constituted him Universal Bishop and supreme head of the Church, declaring that in spirituals all the churches were subject to him, we can clearly see that at that particular era the saints were subjected to an imperious master, that they were given into the hand of the little horn now become a great empire. If then the saints were given into his hand at that particular time, (and I know not any more probable* era than this that can be pitched upon for such an event,) the little horn must at that time have been already in existence; but, if we suppose that this symbol denotes the temporal kingdom of the Papacy, that was not as yet in existence, for the Pope had not then either thrown off his allegiance to the Greek Emperor, or acquired the Exarchate of Ravenna. The little horn however, according to the prophecy, was not merely to begin to exist when the saints were given into his hand, but was already to have been in existence an indefinite period of time. Such being the case, it certainly cannot symbolize the temporal kingdom of the Papacy: and, if it do not symbolize its temporal kingdom, I know not what it can symbolize except its spiritual kingdom.
We have seen, that the little horn was to arise previous to the commencement of the Apostacy of 1260 years when the Roman beast revived, and therefore that it was to arise during the time that the beast lay dead. Daniel accordingly teaches us, that it was to come up among the ten first horns into which the Empire should be divided by the incursions of the northern nations. Now the first of these kingdoms, that of the Huns, arose about the
year 356 ; and the last of them, that of the There is another era, which is possible, though (I think) not prebuble ; namely Ibe gear 787, when the supremacy of the Pope was acknowledged by the second council of Nice. This matter will be discussed more largely hereafter; meanwhile I wish it fully to be understood, that I pitch upon the year 606, only as appearing to me the most probable date. The event alone will enable us to attain to absolute certainty.
Lombards, about the year 483 in the north of Germany, and about the year 526 in Hungary. We must look therefore for the gradual rise of the little horn, by which I think we are obliged to understand the spiritual kingdom of the Pope, between the years 356 and 526. As for the temporal kingdom of the Pope, it did not come up among the first ten horns, as Bp. Newton himself allows, who is thence obliged to construct a catalogue of ten kingdoms, not suited to the primitive division of the Empire, but to the eighth century : the temporal kingdom of the Pope therefore cannot be intended by the little horn. But the spiritual kingdom of the Pope arose precisely at this period. In the primitive Church, the authority of the Bishops of Rome extended not beyond their own diocese : precedence only was allowed to them in general councils by reason of the imperial city being their see. This precedence of honour was gradually enlarged into a precedence of authority. Still however no direct right could be claimed, for the Church was not as yet supported by the secular arm. But, after the conversion of the Enpire to Christianity, great privileges were conferred upon the more dignified sees, especially upon that of Rome. Sir Isaac Newton has given a very minute detail of the gradual rise of this spiritual power ; and the first special edict, that he mentions as being made in its favour, bears date either the end of the year 378, or the beginning of the year 379. This edict gives the Church of Rome the right of deciding appeals in all doubtful cases that concerned the western bishoprics. Sir Isaac accordingly dates very properly the commencement of the Pope's spiritual jurisdiction from it. This power however constituted but a very small kingdom compared to that which was afterwards erected upon its foundations. The irruption of the northern tribes which at first seemed likely to involve every thing in ruin and confusion, and the previous transfer of the seat of
government from Rome to Constantinople, jointly contributed to increase the authority of the Roman bishop.
“ While this ecclesiastical dominion was rising up,'. says Sir Isaac, “the northern barbarous nations invaded the Western empire, and founded several kingdoms there: