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should likewise be the beast that was, and is not : it should, in some sense or another, be the beast that was and is not, although the beast revived under his sixth head; and it should moreover be so powerful at its first rise, that it should in a manner be identified with the whole beast himself, notwithstanding bis ten horns, and his additional little horn mentioned by Daniel.
I know not any better method of ascertaining what power is intended by the last head of the beast, or the last form of Roman government, than simply to follow the current of history from the days of St. John. The sixth or imperial head was flourishing in the height of its glory when the Apostle wrote ; and we know, that the last head had not then arisen, both from the testimony of history, and from the unequivocal declaration thatit
not yet come. Now the first remarkable event, that St. John notices in the history of the sixth heud, is, that it was wounded to death or slain by the stroke of a sword.* Before any attempt can be made to explain this part of the prophecy, we must endeavour to acquire a clear idea in the abstract of what is meant in the language of symbols by a beast's being slain ; for, till this idea be acquired, it will be a vain labour to seek for what we may perhaps fancy to be a corresponding event.
A beast is a tyrannical idolatrous empire. The life of a beast therefore, or the vital principle whereby he is a beast, must necessarily mean his tyranny and idolatry. Consequently the death of a beast must be the very reverse of his life : that is to say, a beast is slain, not when a temporal empire is subverted, but when he ceases to be a beast by abjuring his indolatry and tyranny. So again : as the death of a beast is his abjuration of tyranny and idolatry, the revival of a beast is his relapsing a second time into tyranny and idolatry. In short, the symbolical imagery of a beast being slain, of his continuing dead for a certain space, and of his afterwards coming to life again, is precisely equivalent to the literal prediction respecting the Roman beast, that, as he had been, so he
Rev. xii. 3, 14.
should cease to be, and afterwards should again be.* This being the case, the len-horned beast received his deadly wound, and ceased to be (for these two phrases are only different modes of expressing the same thing,) at the period when Constantine embraced Christianity, and became the protector of the Church : and his deadly wound was healed, and he began again to be (for these two phrases in a similar manner are only different modes of expressing the same thing,) when Phocas set up a spiritual tyrant to wear out the saints, and when the empire relapsed into idolatry. It is specially said, that the sixth head was slain, and that the self-sume sixth head revived: in other words, the beast both received his deadly wound, and had that deadly wound healed so that he “ did live," under one and the same sixth head. The five preceding heads simply fell: they died, as it were, natural deaths, and continued pagan from their first rise to their final fall. But the sixth head was to be slain : it was, like its five predecessors, to be pagan at its first rise, but it was not to continue so: it was to cease to exist as the head of a beast, and was to die a violent death in the height of its strength, its life or bestial principle being taken away from it by the powerful preaching of the word, that sword of the Spirit which is twice in the Apocalypse represented as issuing from the mouth of the Messiah. Not that all temporal authority was to be annihilated throughout its dominions ; but simply its life, or the principle whereby it was the heud of a tyrannical idolatrous empire, was to be taken away. Yet, notwithstanding its being thus slain, it was
* Vide supra Chap. 2. I shall here once more cite Mr. Mede's excellent definition of figurative death. “ Mori ea notione dicitur qui in quocunqne statu constitutus, sive politico sive ecclesiastico, seu quovis alio, desinit esse quod fuit ; unde et occidit qui tali morte quemquam afficit.” When the beast then was wounded to death, he ceased to be what he had been before: but a beast is a tyrannical idolatrous empire : therefore the Romar beast, when slain by the sword, did not experience political subversion (as Bp. Newton supposes,) but simply ceased to be what he had been before, name, ly, a tyrannical idolatrous empire. Mr. Lowman very justly thinks, that the life, the death, and the revival of the beast mean the very same as bis being, bis ceasing to be, and bis being again : but he seems to me greatly to mistake the import of the two sets of phrases, in supposing that they denote the overtbrow of the Roman empire by tbe Gotbs, and the revival of it by the rise of the Papacy. In fact, the Roman empire under its sixtb bead was not overthrown by the Goths; but still continued to subsist under tbat same bead at Constantinople, whithes the seat of government had been transferred long before the loss of the western provinces.
after a certain period to revive: its deadly wound was to be healed : the vital principle of bestiality, which was for a time extinct, was again to be infused into it: it was once more to become the living head of a beast or un empire in direct opposition to the Gospel : and all the world was to go a wondering after the new idolatry of the revived beast, as they had formerly wondered after his old pagan idolatry. Accordingly we learn from history, that the Roman beast was both slain, or ceased to be, under his sixth head ; that the empire continued as a Christian state under the same sixth head; and that under the same sixth head likewise it revived, and once more came into existence as a beast. In the then, when Constantine published his famous edict for the advancement of Christianity, the beast was wounded to death in his sixth head; and, in the year 606, when he delivered the saints into the hand of an idolatrous spiritual tyrant, his deadly wound was healed, he became a living anti-evangelical power, and he completely resumed all the bestial fúrictions of his foriner pagan character. The space therefore between the year 313 and the year 606 is the space of time, during which the beast was dead, or, as St. John otherwise expresses it, was not.*
This interpretation of the death and revival of the Roman beast under his sixth head will be found to be the only one that accords with the general tenor of symbolical language. In Daniel's vision of the four beasts we read, that the Roman beast is to be slaint at the end
f I have been informed by a friend who has paid much attention to the subject of prophecy (the Rev. T. White,) that this very interpretation of the death and revival of the beast was given many years ago by Dr. Henry More. He says, that the beast was slain under his sixtb bead by ceasing to be idolatrous, and that he revived by relapsing a second time into idolatry. I have never had an opportunity of reading the Mystery of Iniquity, but I feel myself considerably strengthened in my opinion by the sanction of so able a writer.
* St. John predicts his destruction in somewhat different terms. Instead of saying that be should be slain, he represents him as being cast alive into bell. The discrepancy however is more apparent than real. Daniel briefly describes the subversion of his power, and intimates that his body should be given to the burning flame: St. John describes at large the manner in which the apostate faction will be overthrown, and the future punishment of those that were members of the beast by receiving his mark and worshipping bis image. Though the beast shall begin to be slain when tbe 1260 days shall have expired, and though a new and happy order of things will succeed
of the 1260 years, but that the lives of the other beasts are to be prolonged for a season and a time, though their dominion be taken away. Now, since the triumphant reign of the saints upon earth is to succeed to the death of the Roman beast, I know not what warrant there is for imagining that all government within the precincts of the Roman empire is utterly to be at an end. It seems more reasonable to suppose, that a happy evangelical order of things will succeed to the present distracted Popish state of the Roman world. Such being the case, the death of the beast must evidently mean, not the annihilation of all lawful Christian government, not a Jacobinical subversion of the powers that be upon the lawless principles of the frantic fifth-monarchy men in the sixteenth century; but the utter destruction of those detestable maxims and doctrines which constitute his best. iality, which are his very life, which are interwoven even with his existence as a beast, without the profession of which he would not be a beust. This is yet further manifest from the predicted fate of the other beasts Their lives, or bestial principles, are to be prolonged during the period of the Millennium ; though their dominion, or power of injuring the Church is to be taken away: while the Roman beast is to be sluin ; his principles are to be. utterly destroyed, never more to revive ; and with the destruction of those principles the dominion of his little horn is to be finally taken away ; for all, both governors and governed, will form one congregation of faithful worshippers, one great empire of the saints of the Most High.* Accordingly we find, that the beasts whose lives were prolonged, in other words, the nations which shall adhere to the vanities of the Gentiles, make a grand attack at the close of the Millennium upon the Church: but, their dominion being now taken away, they entirely fail of success, and are consigned to the same punishment as those that professed and taught the apos
to his destruction, that destruction will not be accomplished without a dreadful slaughter of his adherents ; " there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time." Compare Dan, vii. 11, 26. xii. I, with Rev. xix. 11-21.
* Dan, vii. 11, 26.
tate principles of the Roman beast*_The conclusion to be drawn from the preceding view of Daniel's prophecy is this. Since the final death of the Roman beast, there mentioned, means the destruction of his principles, and since the prolongation of the lives of the other beasts, means the prolonged existence of their principles ; the first death of the Roman beust under his sixth heud, mentioned by Št. John, must mean (arguing at least from analogy) the destruction of his idolatrous tyranny by the sword of the Spirit, while his revival by the healing of his deudly wound must in a similar mannen signify the renewed existence of his idolatrous tyranny. This interpretation is yet further confirmed by the declaration, ihat the beast in his revived or papally-idolatrous state, and under his last heud, should go into perdition, or be utterly destroyed. A beast, in the prophetic style, as we before observed, is a tyrannical idolatrous empire : and the Roman empire was idolatrous under the heuthen Emperors; and then ceased to be so for some time under the Christian Emperors; and then became idolatrous again under the Roman Pontiffs, and so hath continued ever since. It is the same idolatrous power revived again, but only in another form ; and all the corrupt part of mankind, whose names are not inrolled as good citizens in the registers of heaven, are pleased at the revival of it: but in this last form it shall go into perdition ; it shall not, as it did before, cease for a time, and revive again, but shall be destroyed for ever.'
I have made this citation with great pleasure from the writings of Bp. Newton, as containing what I believe to be the true explanation of the existence, the non-existence, and the re-existence, of the Roman beast. All, that his Lordship has said upon this subject, is excellent, and inmediately to the purpose : my wonder therefore is, that, after having adopted so judicious and consistent a mode of exposition, he should so completely have departed from it in what he says relative to the death and revival of the beast under his sixth head. In explaining this part of the prophecy, instead of strictly maintaining the anal
• Rev. II. 8, 9, 10.
7 Bp. Newton's Dissert. on Rev. xvii.