« PoprzedniaDalej »
christa, and reign together with him, in the last period of the Roman empire, during the 1260 years marked in the Revelation23.' • The kingdom of Christ,' says the bishop of Bristol, was first set up, while the Roman empire was in its full strength with legs of iron. The Roman empire was afterwards divided into Ten lesser kingdoms, the remains of which are subsisting at present. The image is still standing upon his feet and toes of iron and clay :-but the stone will one day smite the image upon the feet and toes, and destroy it utterly24.' Not unsimilar is the language of bp. Chandler. “The kingdom of the mountain,' says the prelate, “shall beat the feet of the monarchical statue to dustas. In truth, the prophet himself does not merely predict, that the feet of this image of monarchy shall be broken in pieces; but he afterwards speaks without a figure, adding by way of explanation, v. 44 ; that all these kingdoms shall be broken in pieces and consumed. To darken the import of such language would be a vain attempt. As the ruin of these Ten Kings appears plainly announced by the voice of prophecy, will not some of the readers of Dr. Gill's Exposition of Daniel, when they peruse his enumeration26 of the countries which they govern, take especial notice of the imperial dominion in Germany, and of the monarchies of Sardinia and Spain ; and be ready to suspect, that the overthrow at least of these tyrannic governments is not removed to any very remote distance ?
It is observed in v. 42, that the Toes of the Feet were part of iron and part of clay; i. e. says Mat. Henry, the Ten Kingdoms differed in point of strength; and in the next verse it is added, whereas thou sawest iron mixt with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men, but they shall not cleave one to another. This, says Mr. Lowth, signifies that these Ten Kingdoms shall be a medley of people of different nations, laws, and customs : and although the kings of the several nations shall try to strengthen themselves by marriage-alliances into one ano. ther's families, yet the different interests which they pursue, will make them often engage in wars with each other.' Before it was otherwise. Antecedently to the dominion and independence of these countries, Pagan Rome formed one firm compact body, governed by the same laws, and acknowleging the same sovereign.
22 In order to understand the Apocalypse, it is of the first importance, that the reader fix in his mind correct ideas of the genuine extent of the antichristian empire, and learn who are the persons who hold within it a high pre-eminence of crimes and power.
23 Vol. II. p. 290. - 24 Vol. I. p. 426.
25 Def. of Christianity, p. 106. The distinction of Mr. Mede, hereafter to be given in his own words, the bishop here adopts.
26 On Dan. vii. 24.
It is,' declares Dr. More, the universal sense of all ecclesiastic writers, that the Fourth Beast is the Roman empire, as both Cornelius a Lapide and Gaspar Sanctius, both of them jesuits, yet do roundly assert7.' "That the Roman empire,' says Dr. Worthingtonas, was to be divided into Ten Kingdoms, was understood from this prophecy, and from Daniel's vision of the Fourth Beast, with Ten Horns, corresponding to it, by many of the ancient fathers”), who lived some centuries before any such division was made, or seemed in the least probable. And that this was the tradition of ecclesiastical writers in general before his time, is testified by St. Jerom 30. To the same purpose speaks Joseph Mede. That the Roman empire was the fourth kingdom of Daniel was believed by the church of Israel both before and in our Saviour's time ; received by the disciples of the apostles, and the whole Christian church for the first 400 years3, without any known contradiction. And I confess, having so good ground in scripture, it is with me tantum non articulus fidei, little less than an article of faith32.'
27 Myst. of Iniq. p. 410.
28 Vol. II. p. 77. 29 Such are Tertullian and Irenæus, Cyril and Arethas., 30 Hieron. in Dan. vii. 31 See this point proved at length in Dr. Cressener's Appendix to his Demonst. of the First Principles of the Prot. Appl. of the Apoc. 32 Vol. II. p. 899. VOL. II.
It is to ch. vii. which contains the parallel vision of the Four symbolic Beasts, that the attention of the reader is now solicited. Here also the same events are predicted, and the monarchies both of Europe and Asia are threatened. After giving a prophetic account of the four first Beasts, Daniel says in v. 7, I was seeing after this in the visions of the night, and behold a fourth Beast formidable and terrible, and strong exceedingly, which had large teeth of iron; it devoured and broke in pieces, and trampled upon the remains with its feet, and it was distinguished from all the Beasts, that were before it, for it had Ten Horns33. • The Ten Toes and the Ten Horns,' says bp. Newton, • were alike fit emblems of the Ten Kingdoms, which arose out of the division of the Roman empire34' The generali. ty of commentators, though they hesitate not to acknowlege, that the Ten Horns signify the modern kingdoms seated in the Western part of the Roman empire, yet, without any reason which I can discover, but a well-founded apprehension of giving offence, think proper to apply all the former descriptive past of the verse to Pagan Rome. But that they are not authorised in this restricted application of it, an unprejudiced inspection of the prophet's own words will be sufficient to shew. The description is alike applicable to the general conduct of the Roman emperors, and to that of the Ten princes who have since ruled over the Western provinces of their empire ; nor could the pro. phet, without departing from his symbol, have pourtrayed it in language more strong and expressive. This emblematic personage had large iron-teeth. Now Dr. Lancaster informs us, that “teeth are frequently used in scripture as the symbols of cruelty, or of a devouring enemy.' Its stamping of the remains or the residue with its feet alludes,' says Mr. Lowth, to the fury of wild beasts, who stamp upon that part of their prey which they cannot devour.' And have not the tyrants of Europe been equally lavish in their expenses; equally violent in their oppressions?
33 This is from the Improved Version of Mr. Wintle. 34 Vol. I. p. 496.
Of the revenues extorted by them from their subjects, have they not wasted much more than they have enjoyed ?
Having treated of the Ten Horns in v. 7 and 8, Da niel immediately subjoins in v. 9 and 10, I beheld till the thrones were cast down3s, and the Ancient of Days did sit, and the judgment was set, i. e. says Mr. Sam. Clark, God ' did judge and punish these tyrannical empires, and delivered his people from their oppression.' In v. 9 the prophet, speaking of the Supreme Being, says, his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels.36 as burning fire; i. e. according to the explication of the same annotator, the Revolutions and dispensations of his providence37' will be very destructive to the wicked.' Daniel adds in v. 11, I was attentive till the Beast was slain, and its body destroyed, and it was delivered up to the burning of fire38. “To kill or slay,' says Dr. Lancaster, ‘is to be explained according to the nature of the subject spoken of;' and ' to kill a kingdom is to destroy utterly the power it had to act as such.' That to burn with fire is an expression of similar import, there has before been occasion to note. In v. 12 the prophet announces, that concerning the rest of the Beasts, they had their dominion taken away. . ' Beasts,' says Jurieu on this passage, 'do certainly denote states and empires; so that it seems as if all sovereign power, i. e. Monarchical, should be taken away39.' The symbols of the prophet are indeed interpret
35 To this clause Poole and Clark, bp. Hall and Dr. Priestley, ascribe without hesitation the obvious sense ; but the Hebrew word, says Calvin, may be translated thronos fuisse vel erectos vel dejectos. The expression, says. Dr. Priestley, clearly implies 'violence in their dissolution.' Fast Serm. for Feb. 28, 1794, p. 6.
36 Grotius observes, that the ancient thrones and sellæ curules had wheels.' Wintle.
37 Agreeably to this bp. Newcome observes, in commenting on the 1st ch. of Ezekiel, that the wheels spoken of by that prophet, are supposed to express the Revolutions of God's providence, which are regular, though they appear intricate.'
38 This is from Mr. Wintle’s Improved Version.
39 Vol. II. p. 382. From a comparison of this passage with p. 379, where he declares, that the millennium will not be a state of anarchy, but that there shall be some to govern, and others to obey,' Jurieu appears to have expected, that Republics would be every where established.
ed for us in this very chapter, as they were apparently communicated to him in his vision by an angelic being. I came near, says Daniel, (v. 16), unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the thing. We are accordingly informed by the angel of the vision, that the Fourth Beast, which had Ten Horns, shall be the Fourth Kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces ; and that the Ten Horns out of this Kingdom are Ten Kings that shall arise4o. And in v. 26 it is added (the angel still speaks), But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end4.
But who are the rest of the Beasts, whose dominion was to be taken away? Let Sir I. Newton inform us. In explaining this passage, he observes, that all the four Beasts are still alive;' and adds, that the nations of Chaldea and Assyria are still the first Beast. Those of Media and Persia are still the second Beast. Those of Macedon, Greece, and Thrace, Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt, are still the third42' Whilst the Hebrew prophet declares,
40 V. 23 and 24,
41 With respect to this verse, cited in a former chapter, it scarcely needs be observed, that it manifestly refers to the Ten Horns, as well as to the little Horn, of the Beast. See Brenius.
42 Obs. on Dan. p. 31. Another interpretation, yet more extensive in its import, is noticed and explained by Mede. The expression, the rest of the Beasts, may, he says (p. 255), be understood as not limitted to the three first symbolic Beasts, but as comprehending the kingdoms of the world in general Vau, rendered in our version, as concerning, he observes may be translated also; • also the rest of the Beasts, &c. As for the word Beasts to be taken here for other kingdoms as well as the Four great ones, it needs make no scruple. For we shall find it so in the next chapter, where it is said of the Medo-Persian Ram (verse 4), that no Beasts might stand before him, that is, no State or Kingdom was able to resist his power: so here may the rest of the Beasts be the States and Kingdoms contemporary with the Fourth Beast.'