« PreviousContinue »
reaching 30, and the second 75 days, beyond the 1260 days, when all the wonders were to be finished, and therefore among the other wonders the pollution of the sanctuary,) it is plain, that, between the setting up of the abomination and the incipient cleansing of the sanctuary, there were to be precisely 1260 days ; in other words, the date of the setting up of the abomination, and the date of the 1260 days, is the same.
This being the case, it seems almost necessarily to follow, that the tyranny of the little horn of the Roman beast will continue the very same length of time as the tyranny of the desolating transgression connected with the little korn of the Macedonian beast ; for we are specially informed, that the saints should be delivered into the hand of the papal little horn during the space of three times and a half, or 1260 prophetic days : and, since the tyranny of each is apparently to finish at the end of the same 1260 days, the tyranny of each must in that case begin at the commencement of the same 1260 days. Hence, in the very year that the already existing papal little horn was to commence its tyrannical career of 1260 days, the desolating transgression connected with the little horn of the he-goat, which was shortly to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot, was first to be set up. Bp. Newton accordingly very justly observes from these premises which certainly seem to be undeniable, that, whatever power be meant by the last mentioned ubomination of desolution, that power
prevail for the space of 1260 years ; let it be Mohammedism, or let it be
power. The 1260 days then of the desolating transgression connected with the he-goat's little horn are precisely the same period as the 1260 days during which the saints were to be given into the hand of the fourth beast's little horn : consequently they are the same period also as the 48 months, during which the ten horned beast was to flour
* The abomination of desolation "may with equal justice be applied to tbe Mobammedans invading and desolating Christendom, and converting the cburches into mosques : and this latter event seemeth to have been particularly intended in this passage. (Dan. xii. 11.) If this interpretation be true, the religion of Mobammed will prevail in tbe East the space of 1260 gears," Dissert. XVII.
ish in his revived state. Thus it appears, that the beast was to revive at the very time when the saints were given into the hand of his little horn. Whence we must almost necessarily conclude, that the revival of the beast is so closely connected with the giving of the saints into the hand of the little horn, that in some sense or another he revived by committing the sin of thus giving the saints into the hand of his little horn. Here therefore it will be proper to consider the meaning of this revival.
" A beast," as it is most truly remarked by Bp. Newa ton, and as I have very fully stated in a preceding chapter, “ A beast, in the prophetic style, is a tyrannical idolatrous empire : the kingdom of God and of Christ is never represented under the image of a beast.” This being the case, an empire is said to continue in existence as a beast, so long as it is a tyrannically idolatrous empire : when it puts away its idolatry and tyranny, and turns to the God of heaven, the beast, or those qualities whereby the empire was a beast, ceases to exist, though the empire itself may still remain as a body politic of faithful worshippers : and, when it resumes its tyranny and idolatry, though they may not perhaps bear precisely the same names as its old tyranny and idolatry, it then revives, it then once more recommences its existence in its original character of a beast. To this description the character of the ten horned or Roman beast exactly answers. That empire was originally a beast by its profession of paganism : it ceased to be a beast by its embracing Christianity under Constantine: and it once more became a beast by its setting up a catholic spiritual tyrant, and by its persecuting at his instigation all, who refused to own his supremacy, and to embrace his new idolatry. On these grounds, St. John informs us, that the ten-horned or Roman beast “was, and is not, and yet is.” It was, while in its original pagan state : it is not, while in its Christian state under Constantine: it is, while supporting papal tyranny and idolatry. In this last of its three states, St. John beheld it rise from the sea of Gothic invasion : and in this last state it is to practise prosperously, as he carefully informs us, 42 months, or 1260 days. The same duration is assigned to the tyrannical reign of its own little horn, or the Papacy ; and for this plain reason; the empire revived, or once more became a beast, by giving up the saints into the hand of its little horn : and this it assuredly did, not by encreasing the territorial possessions of the horn (for partial temporal dominion does not confer the power of general persecution,) but by conferring upon him spiritual supremacy. Precisely at the time then when the papal horn was declared to be universal bishop and supreme head of the Church, the saints were given up into his hand. He then first acquired the power of general persecution. Though he might not immediately begin to exercise that power by wearing out the saints of the Most High, it was then undoubtedly first conferred upon him.
The true key then to fixing the date of the 1260 years is that furnished us by the prophet himself. We have neither to concern ourselves with the rise of the papal horn abstractedly, nor yet with its attaining to the summit of its temporal power : we have simply to inquire when the saints were first given up into his hand, and when the old pagan beast revived by setting up a catholic spiritual idolatrous tyrant in the Church.
In the West, the year 604 beheld the death of Gregory the Great, Bishop of Rome. The pontificate of this good man, for I cannot but consider him as a good man tinctured as his piety was with the growing superstition of the age, * was remarkable for his protestation against universal episcopacy by whomsoever assumed, and for his censure of the idolatrous veneration of images then creeping fast into the Church. Great as the power of the Roman archiepiscopal see then was, the sentiments of Gregory on the important question of catholic supremacy are worthy of our particular attention, inasmuch as
See the testimony born to his virtues even by Mr. Gibbon, though he feebly attempts to ridicule his piety on account of the superstition with which it was undoubtedly alloyed. (Hist. of Decline and Fall, Vol. viii. p. 168, 169.) It may not be improper here to observe, that mucb real piety may subsist, both along with the will-worship of superstition, provided it grow not to such a height as utterly to choke the good seed of the word; and along with the eccentric roveries of entbusiasm, provided they do not exchange their harmlessly ridiculous cast of countenance for the Satyr's mask of avowed licentiousness and open profaneness. But the co-existence of religion and infidelity is impossible: a religious infidel is a contradiction in terms.
they differ so very essentially from those of his successors. “ I speak it confidently,” says he, “ that, whosoever calleth himself universal bishop, or desireth to be so called, in the pride of his heart he doth forerun Antichrist.”* Accordingly, when the Bishop of Constantinople accepted this presumptuous title, which in his case was a mere title never acted upon, the observation made by Gregory respecting it was, “ By this pride of his what thing else is signified, but that the time of Antichrist is now at hand ?”+ Respecting the introduction of images into churches, which proved at length the fruitful source of popish demonolatry, Gregory's conduct shews indeed, that his judgment in that particular was erroneous ; but effectually demonstrates nevertheless, that he expressly reprobated the idolatrous veneration of saints and angels. Serenus of Marseilles, finding that some of the people had begun to adore the images which were originally placed in the churches merely as memorials, very wisely broke them in pieces : but this laudable action of his gave so much offence to the superstitious part of his congregation, that many of them withdrew from his communion. Gregory, hearing of the unhappy dissension, wrote to Serenus, advising him to conciliate the affections of his people by permitting them to retain their images, which might (he observed) be considered as a sort of instructive books for the illiterate ; but, at the same time, along with this permission to caution them most seriously against paying the least adoration to them. Events have shewn, that the Bishop of Marseilles judged more wisely than Gregory : but it is evident, that image-wor
Ergo fidenter dico, quod quisquis se universalem sacerdotem vocat, vel vocari desiderat, in elatione sua Antichristum præ currit. Lib. vi. Epist. 30. cited by Bp. Newton.) The accuracy of this declaration of Gregory is not unworthy of our notice. He does not say, that the person, who assumes the title of Universal Bishop, is Antichrist bimself; but only that he is the precursor of Anticbrist. Gregory then conjectured, and he conjectured rightly, that the assumption of universel episcopacy was the leading badge of the commencement of the little born's tyranny : but, not attending to the prediction that this tyranny should continue 1260 years, he fancied that the reign of Antichrist was close at hand. Hence he both wrote, preached, and (we may add) lived, under the firm persuasion that the end of the world was fast approaching.
+ Ex hac ejus superbia quid aliud, nisi propinqua jam esse Antichristi tempora, designatur ? Lib. iv. Epist. 34, cited by Bp. Newton.
ship had not in his time been formally established by the authority of the Roman pontiff.
Gregory was succeeded by Sabinianus, whose short pontificate was remarkable only for rapine and extortion, for a systematic grinding of the faces of the poor, and for mean abuse of the memory of his liberal predecessor. But, though the individual Sabinianus was a wicked man, the saints were not as yet formally delivered into the hand of the little horn, nor was idolatry as yet openly established in the Church : consequently the 1260 days had not then commenced, nor had the Roman beast reviv. ed by publicly relapsing into the abominations of paganism.
Upon the death of Sabinianus, Boniface the third ascended the papal throne, in the beginning of the year 606: and one of his first acts, an act which took place in this very year 606, was to procure from the tyrannical usurper Phocas a grant of the title of Universal Bishop and Supreme Head of the Church; the identical title, which Gregory only a few years before, and that in the lifetime of Boniface himself, had stigmatized as a badge of the precursor of Antichrist.*
* Bp. Newton's Dissert.-Milner's Eccles. Hist.-Bowyer's Lives of the Popes. The account, which Cardinal Baronius gives of this grant, is interesting, because it tallies so exactly with the prophecy. In the spirit of a true Papist he maintains, that de jure the Pope was always the universal bishop, and that Phocas did not so much confer upon him what he did not possess already, as sanction by his imperial authority the undoubted right of the Pope, thus constituting him universal bisbop de facto as well as de jure. Now what is this, but, in the language of the prophet, giving the saints into bis band; that is to say, decreeing him by imperial authority to be a spiritual sovereign over all Christians, or (as they are constantly termed in the New Testament) saints? “ Anno Christi 606 to, indictione nona, decimo quinto calendas Martias, ex diacono Pontifex Romanus creatus est Bonifacius ejus nominis tertius.--Quo tempore intercesserunt quædam odiorum fomenta inter eumdem Phocam imperato. rem atque Cyriacum patriarcham Constantinopolitanum.-Hinc igitur in Cyriacum Phocas exacerbatus in ejus odium imperiali edicto sancivit, nomen Universclis decere Romanam tantummodo ecclesiam, tanquam quæ caput esset omnium ecclesiarum ; solique convenire Romano Pontifici, non autem episcopo Constantinopolitano qua sibi illud usurpare præsumeret. Quod quidem hunc Bonifacium Papam tertium ab imperatore Phoca obtinuisse, cum Anastasius bibliothecarius, tum Paulus Diaconus (De gest. Longobard. L. 4.) tradunt-Sed, quod ad Phocæ edictum attinet, haud eo quidem ipse (quod garriunt novatores) hoc tribuit privilegium ecclesiæ Romanæ, ut in catholica primatum ageret ; hunc enim jam ipsam habuisse, semperque exercuisse, ab ipso sui principio, non solum super omnes alios patriarchas orientales, sed et multo magis super omnium novissimum Constantinopolitanum, quam plurimis est superius locis latissimè demonstratum : nec in eo fuit aliquando cum episcopis Constantinopolitanis controversia, quippe qui numquam eumdem primatum in dubium revocârunt; sed in eo tantum, quod ipsi nuper titulum sibi Ecumenici usurpassent