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being considered the last head of the secular beast. It is not enough merely to reduce the eight heads to seven according to an arbitrary system of our own invention : we must attend to the express words of the prophecy, otherwise we in fact do nothing. Now the prophecy declares, that the eighth head should be one of the preceding seven : but Mr. Mede, on the contrary, makes the supposed secenth heud to be one of the preceding six ; and the supposed eighth head, which the prophet had declared should be one of the preceding scven, he makes to be quite distinct from every one of those seven. According to the prophecy, we are first to pitch upon seven distinct heads, and then discover an eighth head which shall be the same as one of those seven : according to Mr. Mede, we are to amalgamate the sixth and the seventh heads, and then discover an eighth which shall not be the same as any of those seven. On these grounds, I think the plan of that eminent expositor perfectly untenable.
2. Mr. Sharpe supposes the seventh head to be the three Gothic kingdoms that succeeded the imperial sixth head in the supreme government of Rome, and the eighth head to be the Papacy.*
This scheme is objectionable in every point of view. Three successive kingdoms cannot reasonably be esteemed one head. And, even if this were no objection, others would immediately arise. The kingly head was the first of the heads of the beast : consequently Mr. Sharpe's scheme, admitting for a moment these three kingdoms to be a head, amalgatnates the seventh head with the first, as that of Mr. Mede amalgamated the seventh head with the sixth. Such being the case, every objection, that has been made to Mr. Mede's scheme, applies with equal force to that of Mr. Sharpe. The eighth head, according to both these plans, instead of being one of the seven, is perfectly distinct from them all. So again : the three kingdoms, which Mr. Sharpe supposes to constitute the seventh head of the beast; are three of his ten original horns. If then they be three horns of the beast, it is
* Appendix to three tracts, p. 28-Inquiry into the description of Babylon, p. 8, 9,
surely impossible that they should likewise, and that in the self-same capacity, be one of his heads.*
3. Bp. Newton thinks, that the Exarchate of Ravenna is the seventh head, and that the Papacy is the eighth head.t
This supposition is in some respects even more objectionable than the two preceding ones.- In the first place, it does not consist with his Lordship's own sentiments respecting the Roman beast. In a former dissertation he had maintained (erroneously indeed I am persuaded), that the Exarchate was one of the ten horns of the beast : now he represents it, as his seventh head. But the selfsame power cannot, in the self-same capacity, be esteemed at once both a horn and a head of the same beast-In the second place, no modification of language will warrant us in admitting, that, while the independent Roman Emperor of Constantinople is the sixth head, his mere dependent lieutenant, the Exarch of Ravenna, is the seventh head: for this would be to place, upon the very same footing, a sovereign and his viceroy; the fountain of authority and the commissioned governor of a province IIn the third place, the seventh head, whatever it be, must be the same as the eighth head; the two forming jointly one double septimo-octave head : for, unless this be the case, the beast will really have eight heads, instead of only seven ; the very contrary of which is expressly asserted by the prophet, who, in order to shew us how the beast has only seven heads, declares that the eighth is one of the preceding seven.
But the Bishop never supposes the Exarch of Ravenna to be the eighth heud, for that
* It is almost superfluous to observe, that, if the three horns jointly cannot be the seventh bead of the beast, no one of them can separately. Forbes supposes, that the kingdom of the Ostrogoths is the seventh bead (See Pol. Synop. in loc.), in which opinion Fleming agrees with him. (Apoc. Key, p. 16.) But why should this kingdom be pitched upon in preference to that of the Heruli and that of the Lombards ? The objection will equally apply to any scheme that should fix upon either of the other two kingdoms in preference to ibe two that must necessarily be excluded : and every other objection, that has been made to Mr. Sharpe's scheme, will moreover apply with equal force to all schemes similar to that of Forbes. I have already complained, that I have not been able to discover, what three Gothic kingdoms Mr. Sharpe alludes to, from the circumstance of his limiting their joint duration to no more
+ Dissert. on Rev. xvii. |_"the Exarchs of Ravenna, the representatives in peace and war of the Em. peror of the Romans.” Hist, of Decline and Fall, Vol. vii. p. 398.
than 70 years.
supposition would of course be untenable : the eighth head therefore he makes to be the Pope. Hence it is manifest, that, upon his Lordship's scheme, the beast has actually eight heads, instead of having only seven : namely 1. Kings; 2. Consuls; 3. Dictators ; 4. Decemvirs ; 5. Military Tribunes; 6. Emperors ; 7. Exarchs; and 8. Popes. The prophet however explicitly declares, that the eighth head is one of the preceding seven, and that the beast has but seven heads : with which then of his supposed seven predecessors can the Pope be identified ? Of this natural objection the Bishop seems to be aware ; and accordingly he endeavours to parry it, but in a manner to me at least not at all satisfactory, even allowing (what I am by no means disposed to allow that the Pope may be justly considered the last head of the secular beast in his character of king of kings.* “ But possibly you may hesitate, whether this," namely the Exarchute of Ruvenna, “ is properly a new form of government, Rome being still subject to the imperial power, by being subject to the Greek Emperor's deputy the Exarch of Ravenna : and, according as you determine this point, the beast, that was, and is not, (was, while idolatrous; and was not, while not adolatrous), will appear to be the seventh or eighth. If you reckon this a new form of government, the beast that now is is the eighth; if you do not reckon this a new form of government, the beast is of the seven : but, whether he be the seventh or eighth, he is the last form of government, and goeth into perdition.” To this statement the answer is sufficiently easy. St. John first enumerates seven distinct heads, and then in. troduces an eighth, teaching us that the beast has nevertheless no more than seven heads, for the eighth is of the seven. If then the beast has seven distinct heads at the rise of the eighth, and yet notwithstanding the rise of the eighth has no more than seren, that eighth must in some sense be the same as one of the seven. But, upon Bp. Newton's plan it is not the same as any one of the seren: and, in order to get quit of the supposed seventh head the Exarchate, so that the beast by the addition of the Papa
* I have already shewn how entirely unsupported such an opinion is by the testimony of history.
cy may still have no more than seven, he sometimes considers the Exarchate as a head, and sometimes as not a head.*
4. Some commentators, probably aware of the difficulties here enumerated, difficulties which unavoidably arise from the separation of the seventh and eighth heads, have adopted the mode of exposition which I believe to be the true one ; namely, that the two heads are one power existing in a two-fold capacity : but unfortunately they have for the most part not attended to the very accurate language in which St. John describes the manner of that existence. It is not sufficient to discover a power existing in a two-fold capacity merely : but that power must so exist, that it must cease to be in one capacity, when it begins to be in the other. When the seventh head “ eth, he must continue a short space :” he is not to coexist with the eighth, but he is to give pluce to him. The two heads therefore must be one power existing in a successive two-fold capacity.
All the commentators, of whom I am now speaking, suppose the Pope to be this double or septimo-oclure head. Accordingly some of them fancy, that he is one of the heads in his temporal, and another in his spiritual, capacity; while others conceive, that he is one head as the sovereign of his own dominons, and another as king of the whole worldt-Now, even were such schemes liable to no other objections, it would be sufficient to observe, that these writers seem quite to forget, that the seventh head is represented as preceding the eighth, and as continuing only a short space : whereas both the temporal and the spiritual, both the particular-temporal and the universal-temporal dominion of the Pope, run parallel to each other, and are equally even now in existence, each having continued a long time. I
Mr. Brightman and Mr. Mann of the Charter-house
Mr. Lowman's interpretation is exactly the same as Bp. Newton's, and is consequently liable to the very same objections.
† See Pol. Synop. in loc. I speak as adapting myself to the scheme which I am considering. In strictness of language the universal-temporal dominion of the Pope is neither at present in existence, nor ever was in existence. Thave already very fully shewn, that such dominien, though often claimed, was never allowed.
certainly manage, with by much the greatest dexterity, the supposition that the Pope is the double or septimooctave head.
Mr. Brightman thinks, that the Pupacy arose in its quality of the seventh head, when Constantine removed the seat of empire from Rome; that this short-lived head continued only about a century from the age of Constantine, when it was overwhelmed by the inundation of the Goths and Vandals; and that the Papacy lastly arose in its quality of the eighth head, which was to be one of the seven, when it was established upon the firm basis of temporal power by the grants of Pipin and Charlemagne. Then was healed the deadly wound which the seventh papal head had received from the Gothic sword; and then did that same head, considered as the eighth papal head, rear itself up again with greater vigour than it had ever possessed* -Independent of the impropriety of at all considering the Pope as a heud of the beast, this scheme is in other respects highly objectionable. So far was the Bishop of Rome from becoming a head of the empire, by the secession of Constantine from the ancient capital, that he still continued a mere subject of his sovereign, as much a subject in short as any other bishop: we may therefore safely pronounce, that, during at least a century after the Constantinian age, the period assigned by Nir. Brightman for the continuance of the short-lived seventh head, no new head whatsoever arose. And again : so far was this supposed seventh head from being slain by the Gothic sword, and from reviving afterwards in the capacity of the eighth head, that the incursions of the northern barbarians, as Machiavel most justly observes, contributed more than any circumstance whatsoever to advance the power of the Papacy. They did not slay it; but they nourished it, and gradually gave it strength and consistency.† Thus it appears, that Mr. Brightman's scheme is wholly unsupported by history.
Mr. Mann, on the other hand, conceives, that the
Brightman's Apoc. Apoc. Fol. 273, 274, + See the citations from Machiavel in the 4th chapter of this work. See likewise the citation from Sir Isaac Newton.