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plifhed. But if any one event in the feries can be with certainty reduced to the years of the common computation, fo may every other.
Time in which the Reign of Antichrift began.
ONE event is fo important, that it engroffes a great part of the prophecies which regard the latter days. I mean the kingdom of Antichrift; and many of the calculations used in them are dated from the commencement of his reign. Though it is no longer a queftion with Protestants who have directed their attention to the prophecies, who Antichrift is, yet various opinions are still held with respect to the beginning of his kingdom.
Some date the beginning of Antichrift's kingdom from the Bishop of Rome's apoftacy in articles of faith; others from his affuming the title of Oecumenical Patriarch; but others, and I think with greater propriety, from the period
(1) From thefe obfervations, the candid reader will fee that the principles laid down refpecting the dates of events, are not to be confidered as dogmatical affertions, but as probable conjectures. I do not imagine that the dates are equally clear with the events.
in which he attained the temporal fovereignty. My reafons for adopting this opinion, are these:
1. The little horn representing Antichrist is faid to continue "a time and times, and the di"viding of time," (Dan. vii. 25.); that is, three years and a half, as it is explained Rev. xii. 6.-14. Now, whether thefe years be taken for natural or prophetic years, they fignify the duration of a temporal kingdom or civil dominion; for the ten horns mentioned in the fame reprefentation, certainly fignify kingdoms, or diftinct territories of the Roman empire; the fitnefs of the emblem therefore requires that the little horn be a kingdom or diftinct territory of the fame empire. Again it is by understanding it thus, that we learn why it is called a little horn, while it had "a mouth that fpoke great things." In point of territory, the Bishop of Rome is but a petty prince; but the time has been, when he caufed every crowned head in Europe to tremble on his throne. Farther, three horns were plucked up by the roots, to make room for the little horn. Thefe, according to the best interpreters, are the Dutchy of Rome, the Exarchate of Ravenna, and the kingdom of the Lombards. Now these were overturned to establish the pope's temporal dominion. All the circumftances of the defcription, therefore, fhew that Antichrift
tichrift is termed a horn, on account of his temporal fovereignty; that the continuance of the little horn is, in other words, the duration of that fovereignty; which period must commence with the time in which the Bishop of Rome acquired it, and not before.
2. I argue from Revelation xiii. 5. where it is faid of Antichrift, that "power was given him to continue forty and two months." Forty-two months are precifely three years and a half. But who is faid to continue for that time? You will find from the context, it is the feventh or laft head of the beaft, representing the Roman empire. Now the Bishop of Rome could not, with ftrict propriety, be termed the head of the Roman empire, while Rome and its territory were fubject to any other prince, either the Emperor, Exarch, King of the Goths or Lombards; during all that period, the Bishop of Rome was but fecond in authority; but when he ftept into the throne of the Cæfars, he may be justly reckoned the head of the empire. is from that period, therefore, the prophecy be gins to reckon the forty-two months of his reign.
3. The time of Antichrift's appearance is fixed, Revelation xiii. 18. "Herein is wisdom.
"Let him that hath understanding count the "number of the beaft: for it is the number of a man ; and his number is fix hundred three "fcore and fix." Most interpreters, from Irenæus downwards, have confidered this number, as containing the name of the beaft in a cypher, which, when decyphered, is LATEINOS', that being the proper name in Greek of the western Roman empire. I have no objection to this interpretation, as far as it goes; but I apprehend, it is not the whole of the truth. As the feven heads contain a double myftery. fhewing the place of Antichrift's empire, and the time of its erection, so likewise does the number 666. It fhews the place, by giving the name, and fixes the time, by directing us to add to the date of the vision 666 of that kind of number commonly in use among men to calculate
(1) In Greek, numbers are marked by the letters of the alphabet, and the name is decyphered thus:
culate diftant periods, that is years. Now the Apostle received the vision about the year 90', to which, if you add 666, it will bring you down to the year 756; and in that year the Bishop of Rome was invefted with the rights of a temporal sovereign. With that period, therefore, commenced the forty-two months of his reign.
4. These fentiments are confirmed, when I reflect, that the duration of the temporal fovereignty is a proper fubject of prophetic calculation, because it is a notour event. The beginning of it is well known, fo must the end. If therefore it measures a period of forty-two months,
(1) The commonly received opinion is, that the Apocalypfe was written in the year 96. But all allow, that the Apostle John was banished to the isle of Patmos by Domitian, who ended his reign and perfecution together în the year 96; therefore the presumption is, that the Apoftle received those visions previous to that æra. Mofheim obferves from Hegefippus, that Domitian's perfecution began in 92, and that the Emperor's chief reafon to perfecute Christians, was a fear that fome of the relations of Christ would ufurp the empire. If fo, it is reasonable to fuppofe, that the Apoftle John, the only one then alive who had feen Chrift, the beloved difciple likewise, should be the chief object of the tyrant's jealousy, and the first victim of his rage, from which I think it is probable that he was banished to Patmos previous to the year 92.