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The sole objection, then, remaining is the absence of the fourth prophetic character-sudden destruction at the second advent: and since this relates to a future event, it resolves itself into the assertion, that the Roman empire is, in the prophetic sense, extinct already. This alone is to outweigh the almost universal consent of interpreters, the connexion of the prophecy, and the striking agreement of all the other features. The following is a correct summary, without omission, of Dr. Todd's reasoning; and the reader will be able to judge how far it warrants his conclusion.
(1). First, he refutes the hypothesis, that the stone becoming a great mountain and filling the earth, denotes the past extension of the Church and spread of the Gospel. This is an easy task, and convicts Mr. Palmer, in his book “On the Church," of an egregious wresting of prophecy. But this confirms the application to the Roman empire, rather than disproves it. In fact, the hypothesis refuted is inconsistent with the common view of the fourth kingdom, instead of forming one of its elements. Most of those who have renounced the Catholic exposition have done so from their attachment to this error, which Dr. Todd has been at the pains to disprove; as Junius, Hayn, and others. This first argument is for, and not against, the common interpretation.
(2). Dr. Todd next endeavours to refute Mede's hy. pothesis, that the stone was cut out at the birth and ascension of Christ, but does not smite the image, or become a mountain, till the second advent. His reasons are these :
First, “Mede's theory deprives expositors of all the advantage they derived from the gradual growth of the stone, as denoting the gradual progress of Christianity." In other words, it loses the great advantage of asserting
what both Mede and Dr. Todd believe to be a demonstrable falsehood!
Secondly, “ It assumes the Roman empire to be still in existence." So that Dr. Todd's reasoning is of this kind. First, the Roman empire is non-existent, therefore Mede's theory is false ; and next, Mede's theory is false, therefore the Roman empire is extinct, and cannot be the fourth kingdom.
Thirdly, “ There is nothing in the prophecy to intimate so long an interval between the cutting out of the stone and its smiting the image." But there is nothing to intimate the reverse : and the objection is clearly futile, in a vision where the image comprehends twentyfive centuries, and yet appears complete before the eye of the prophet from the first.
Fourthly, Mede is charged with giving a different sense to the word “kingdom" (in ver. 4) from that which it bears in the rest of the prophecy. This too is almost entirely erroneous. The kingdom there described is what Mede calls “regnum montis,” which is visible no less than the others; though Mede considers the preparation for its establishment as taking place in the days of the four kingdoms; and this he calls “the kingdom of the stone," rather from the language of the New Testament than from the direct words of the
The refutation of Mede is thus an entire failure. But even if it had been as solid as it is really empty, it could not affect the application of the fourth empire. Rome might equally be the power intended, if the cutting out of the stone were future, as well as its fall on the image. Yet the force of these considerations, Dr. Todd affirms, compels him to renounce the application to Rome, though confirmed by the consent of all ages, and by the obvious agreement of all the other
features of the prophecy. Can loose reasoning and boldness of assertion be carried farther than this ?
(3). After some remarks on ch. vii. the argument is resumed as follows:
“ To the reader of history no fact seems more certain than that the Roman monarchy is extinct. To maintain the contrary is a use of words so far from ordinary apprehension, as to be of itself a sufficient condemnation of any theory that requires it. In such a sense the kingdom of Belshazzar, as well as that of Augustus, might be said to exist to this day.” The objection supplies its own answer.
The head of gold, Dr. Todd allows, is the kingdom of Babylon, that is, “the kingdom of Belshazzar." Yet the vision tells us, in plain terms, that the gold is broken to pieces when the stone smites the image—that is, as Dr. Todd agrees, at a time still future. Therefore, a use of words far remote from Dr. Todd's opinion of what is natural, stands legible and conspicuous on the very face of the passage. If the prophecy clearly speaks of “the kingdom of Belshazzar” as still in existence, it may with equal propriety speak of that of Rome as still bearing rule. The word of God is surely a better expounder of its own style than our private fancies.
But the objection further involves a double suppression of the truth. The prophecy and the history are made to seem at variance, only because one half of the testimony is suppressed in each case. The word of God speaks, it is true, of the fourth kingdom, in its last stage, as a continuance of the same empire; but also describes it as a distinct and revived form, severed from the other by a marked separation-the beast that was, and is not, and is just at hand. In like manner, history teaches us, that although the empire of Charlemagne was distinct from the old empire of Rome, it was still a revival of it in a new form. The very exclamation used
at Charlemagne's coronation seems as if purposely designed to refute Dr. Todd's objection Long life and victory to Charles, the most pious AUGUSTUS, crowned by God the great and pacific EMPEROR OF THE ROMANS.” And Gibbon, the very authority to whom Dr. Todd refers, says, in striking correspondence with the prophecy, “ Europe dates a new era from his RESTORATION of the WESTERN EMPIRE.” In the middle
ages the schools of civil law : resounded with the doctrine that the Roman emperor was the rightful sovereign of the earth, from the rising to the setting sun. trary opinion was condemned, not as an error, but as an heresy, since the Gospel had pronounced, there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.' Nay, Bellarmine, the most able champion of the Romish Church, stakes his whole defence of the Pope, from the charge of being antichrist, on that continued existence of the Roman empire, to which Dr. Todd and Mr. Maitland object so loudly in the Protestant interpretations.
It is curious and instructive to contrast these two opposite lines of defence for the Roman see, chosen with equal confidence by the learned Jesuit and the Anglican divine. Dr. Todd argues thus :- The fourth kingdom, in all its stages till the advent, is one and the same empire. But the Papal empire is quite distinct from that of Augustus ; therefore Rome is not the fourth empire, and the Papacy is not antichristian. Bellarmine secures the same conclusion, but by reversing both the premises. The beast from the sea, or antichrist, he argues, must be quite distinct from the previous stages of the Roman power, as it were a fresh kingdom. But the emperorship is one and the same under Cæsar and the Pope-crowned emperors; and therefore the antichristian stage of Rome is still future. The natural conclusion to be drawn from this singular contrast will be evident without a long comment. The prophecy and the history each of them announces two features in the later stage of the Roman power—its marked unity and yet its striking contrast with the previous stage. Take half of these facts and combine them crosswise, and a special pleader may then exhibit a plausible show of discordance to prove the prophecy misapplied. But the two apologists of the Roman Church unhappily disagree in their selection; and their premises, when combined, establish that very application which each of them, by suppressing half the evidence, has attempted to refute.
(4). One last objection remains.
“ The Romans were remarkable for moderation, toleration, and gentle government of the nations that submitted to their sway. Not the extermination of the conquered, but their civilization and incorporation into the Roman name, was the ultimate end of Roman government. But the fourth kingdom is the very reverse of this picture : extermination shall be the object of its conquests_death and destruction the characteristics of its sway.” * But for some preoccupation (he adds), commentators must have seen the total contrast."
This fresh instance of the boldness with which Dr. Todd flings charges of gross error against wiser and more learned men, rivals all that have gone before. Let us dissect the statement, and its entire groundlessness will appear.
First, “ not extermination, but incorporation into the Roman name, was the end of Roman government." And what else does the prophet teach us, when he says of the fourth beast, “ it shall devour the whole earth ? " How else, but by this process of “devouring," could the incorporation take place? To allege these two things as a contrast is to do violence to common sense.
Next, “ extermination shall be the object of the fourth