Obrazy na stronie

formation has been completed; it then represents the Roman Empire alone, as existing in its utmost extent, and as comprehending (to speak broadly) the dominions of all its three predecessors. Hence the basis or geography of the Roman Empire is the basis or geography of the image: for all the four Empires were raised upon that tract of country, which, in the days of Trajan, was subject to Rome alone.

To understand the principle of this arrangement, for want of a due attention to which much confusion has arisen in determining the territorial body of that ten-horned beast which makes so conspicuous a figure in the prophecies of Daniel and St. John, we must, under one point of view, observe the tide of imperial domination, as it flowed from the east to the west; while, under another point of view, we may mark the progress of conquest, as it advanced from the west to the east.

(1.) The original basis or platform of the Babylonian Empire was the region of the Euphrates. When that Empire fell, and when it was succeeded by the Persian Empire; the ancient geographical basis still remained: and the only change, which it experienced, was an enlargement or extension.

In a similar manner, when the Persian Empire fell, and when it was succeeded by the Grecian Empire; the old geographical basis was not relinquished it only received a yet further enlargement by the addition of Greece.

The same process was continued upon the ex

tinction of the Grecian Empire : for, when it was succeeded by that of the Romans, the primeval basis, enlarged as it had been by the Persians and the Greeks, was still retained; but its already increased dominions were now finally extended to their utmost limits by the addition of all western Europe.

In the time of Trajan, therefore, the Roman Empire comprehended the dominions of all its three predecessors, and thus became geographically the entire image. The process throughout, until the last Empire began to decline, was that of addition. If, in point of geography, we reckon westward, the golden head first subsisted alone: to the golden head were then added the silver breast and arms : to the silver breast and arms, thus attached to the golden head, were next added the brazen belly and thighs : and, to the brazen belly and thighs, thus joined to the silver breast and arms as the silver breast and arms had been previously joined to the golden head, were finally attached the iron legs terminating in the toes of mingled iron and clay. The giant was now complete in all his members. Consequently, the completed image, when viewed geographically as a whole, is the Roman Empire in its utmost extent, including both its own peculiar dominions in the west and the dominions of the three preceding Empires in the East.

Of this image, thus completed, Nebuchadnezzar himself is the type and mystical head and inspiring


(3.) We may now perceive the true ground, on which Rome, throughout the Apocalypse, is denominated Babylon.

under its aspect of the fourth Empire combining in one mass the gold and the silver and the brass and the iron. I subjoin the historian's account of these oriental acquisitions, which, for a short season, made the Tigris, in its extreme length from north to south, the boundary of the Roman Empire.

The praises of Alexander, transmitted by a succession of poets and historians, had kindled a dangerous emulation in the mind of Trajan. Like him, the Roman Emperor undertook an expedition against the nations of the east : but he lamented with a sigh, that his advanced age scarcely left him any hopes of equalling the renown of the son of Philip. Yet the success of Trajan, however transient, was rapid and specious. The degenerate Parthians, broken by intestine discord, fled before his arms. He descended the river Tigris in triumph, from the mountains of Armenia to the Persian gulph. He enjoyed the honour of being the first, as he was the last, of the Roman generals, who ever navigated that remote sea. His fleets ravaged the coasts of Arabia : and Trajan vainly flattered himself, that he was approaching toward the confines of India. Every day, the astonished Senate received the intelligence of new names and new nations, that acknowledged his sway. They were informed, that the kings of Bosporus, Colchis, Iberia, Albania, Osrhöene, and even the Parthian monarch himself, had accepted their diadems from the hands of the Emperor ; that the independent tribes of the Median and Carduchian hills had implored his protection ; and that the rich countries of Armenia, Mesopotamia, and Assyria, were reduced into the state of provinces. But the death of Trajan soon clouded the splendid prospect : and it was justly to be dreaded, that so many distant nations would throw off the unaccustomed yoke, when they were no longer restrained by the powerful hand which had imposed it. The resignation of all the eastern con

« PoprzedniaDalej »