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months, the fall of it muft carry conviction to every rational mind, in the leaft acquainted withthe tranfactions of Europe. But if we date the time of Antichrift's continuance, from the Bifhop of Rome's apoftacy, the commencement of it is not so obvious. It was fo gradual in its progrefs, that the most accurate hiftorian cannot say what is the precife period at which it began. Accordingly, there is a confufion and embarrassment in the interpretations of those who date from that period; their uncertainty with regard to the commencement, neceffarily affecting their views of the completion.
If we date the forty-two months of the beaft, from the period in which the Bishop of Rome attained the temporal fovereignty, there will be little difficulty in reducing them to the years' of the common computation.
Aiftulphus king of the Lombards took Ravenna, A. D. 752. Being in poffeffion of the Exarchate, he claimed the Dutchy of Rome as a part of it. But the Romans being unwilling to acknowledge his claim, or pay tribute, he led his forces against Rome, A. D. 754. The Pope Stephen II. alarmed by the danger, applied to Pepin of France for protection. This Pope, and his predeceffor Zachary, had laid Pepin under confiderable obligations fome time before.
before. For when Pepin, who was Mayor of the palace to Childerick, caufed his lawful fovereign to be depofed, and had himself proclaimed in his ftead, he applied and obtained from Zachary the fanction of the Roman Oracle to his ufurpation, and Stephen confirmed the deed of his predeceffor. In return for these fervices, Pepin led an army into Italy, A. D. 755, against the Lombards, conquered Aiftulphus, and obliged him by a folemn treaty to renounce the Exarchate, which Pepin bestowed on Stephen and his fucceffors in office, under the name of St. Peter's Patrimony. The next year Aiftulphus violated, without remorse, a treaty into which he had entered with reluctance, and led his forces a fecond time against Rome. Upon this Pepin returned to Italy, and not only obliged Aiftulphus to raise the siege of Rome, but befieged him in his turn in Ravenna, and forced him to execute the treaty, by renouncing the Exarchate, which Pepin again delivered over, by a grant to Stephen and his fucceffors in office, laying the charter, together with the keys of the feveral cities belonging to the Exarchate, with much folemnity, on the altar of St. Peter, A. D. 756'.
(1) Segonius de regno Italia, 80. Mizeray's Hiftory of France, vol. i. p. 216.
Duration and End of Antichrift's Reign.
HERE the forty-two months of the beaft's reign began. But in order to discover where they, end, it is neceffary to afcertain, whether they are to be taken in a literal fenfe, for three natural years and a half; or in a myftic fense, putting a day for a year, in which cafe they amount to 1260 years. The defenders of the beaft labour hard to establish the literal fenfe; but the fol lowing reafons must convince the unprejudiced, that they are to be taken in a mystic sense:
1. This mode of calculation was familiar to the whole Jewish nation; for as the law ordained every seventh year to be a year of reft, this naturally led them to reckon time by weeks of years, as well as weeks of days, and by parity of reafon a day for a year.
2. This mode of calculation was commonly ufed by the prophets. Thus, there is an emblematical representation of a fiege, (Ezekiel iv. 6.); and God commands the prophet to lie on his fide forty days, to reprefent forty years; for (fays he) I have appointed thee each day
for a year. Daniel's prophecy of feventy weeks (chap. ix.) is thus interpreted by Papists as well as Proteftants, and must be fo underftood, to make it agree with the event. Indeed this mode of calculation was fo common with the prophets, that if they mention a week or a year in its ordinary acceptation, it is with a note of diftinction. So Daniel (x. 2.) fays he fafted" three full weeks," or as it is in the original, three weeks of days, to distinguish them from weeks of years; and when Isaiah would diftinguish the natural from the prophetic year, he calls it "the year of an hireling," (xvi. 14. and xxi. 16.)
3. The circumftances of the representation must convince the unprejudiced, that the fortytwo months of the beast are to be understood in a myftic fenfe; for his extenfive dominion, and great authority, could not poffibly be acquired in so short a period as three natural years and a half. It is faid, that “ power was given "him over all kindreds, and tongues, and na"tions. And all that dwell upon the earth "thall worship him, whose names are not writ"ten in the book of life," Rev. xiii. 7, 8. It is impoffible to travel through the several nations of the earth in fo fhort a period, much more to transport armies, and establish an em
pire, as Papifts allege. Shall we have recourfe to that interpretation which implies in it an impoffibility, and reject what is well founded on fcripture authority? Again, the armour with which the prophecies have furnished Antichrift, are falfehood and feigned miracles: "His co"ming is after the working of Satan, with all
power, and figns, and lying wonders, and "with all deceiveablenefs of unrighteoufnefs," 2 Thef. ii. 9. 10. Now thefe take a longer time, in extending his dominion, than force of arms; fo that the period allotted for it, if taken in a literal fenfe, is not fufficient.
I conclude, therefore, that the forty-two months allotted to the reign of Antichrift, ought to be reckoned after the manner of the prophets, a day for a year, making in all 1260 years. So if we add these to 756, the year in which he acquired the temporal fovereignty, they will bring us down to A. D. 2016, as the close of his reign. But in regard the calculation is made by months and days, as well as years, and that thirty days are reckoned to a month, and 360 to a year, it is probable the whole period is reckoned by years of that description; so that the five days and odd hours which the common year has above the prophe