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all past, before John saw this vision, as he informs us, chap. xvii, 10. and another, that is, a fixth one, was then in existence. This fixth one was that of the emperors. Domitian, one of these emperors, banished John to the island of Patmos, where the revelation, contained in this book, was made to him.
The fixth or imperial form of government is long ago past; and the seventh, or papal form of civil government, hath continued since the year of Christ 756.
The ten horns are the different kingdoms, which were conquered by the Roman empire, who, dua ring the period of time to which this hieroglyphic refers, were treated as conquered provinces, and were deprived of their regal or independant power. As the strength of fome of the fiercest beasts lies in their horns, or rather as their strength is collected and applied to one point by their horns; in the symbolical language; horns signify the collected strength of one body of men under one head, that is, the power of a kingdom under one king. This symbol is uniformly used in this fense, by all the prophets, particularly by Jeremiah xlviii. 25. by Zechariah i. 18. 19. and by Daniel viii. 20, 21. The last of these passages I shall here transcribe,“ “ The ram which thou fawest ha
Media and “ Persia, and the rough goat is the king of Greece, VOL. II.
" and the great horn between his eyes is the first
king.” In chap. xvii. 12. John expressly says, “ that the ten horns are ten kings, which have re“ ceived no kingdom as yet.” That he is there explaining the very ten horns now under our view shall be shewn in our commentary on that verse.
In this hieroglyphic the crowns are upon the seven heads, and not upon the ten horns, to fignify that during the period to which it relates, Rome shall be vefted with the only supreme independent civil power; and that these provinces, though formerly independent kingdoms, and though, in a future period, they shall again become independent kingdoms, yet during this period fall be stripped of their regal power; but still as conquered provinces shall add to the strength of Rome. In a succeeding period these conquered provinces shall become independent kingdoms, and then they are represented, as in verse ist of the next chapter, by ten horns with ten crowns upon them, while there are no crowns upon the seven heads, but only the name of blafphemy. The plain meaning, therefore, of this sign is, that Satan, not immediately, but by the Roman empire, as an instrument in his hands, shall attempt to destroy the church of Christ. The various attempts, which he shall make, are particularly described in this chapter, and shall be illustrated as they occur. This dragon is called great to fignify the great
power of Rome during the period of this hieroglyphic, and red to signify the great quantity of the blood of the martyrs, which should be shed in the different persecutions carried on by the heathen Roman emperors.
By the influence of the Roman emperors, after they should be called Christian, a great proportion of the ministers of Christ's church, ftiled the stars of heaven, should be so dazzled and charmed by the outward grandeur and magnificence of the many heathen rites, which, at that period, should be introduced into the worship of those who should call themselves Christians, and so captivated by the great temporal emoluments of the ministerial office, that they should be cast unto the earth. They should no longer continue the ministers of Christ's church, but should become the ministers of the church of Rome, which should then be modelled like the kingdoms of this earth.
The Roman empire should first attempt to deftroy, not the woman, but only her child, and that so soon as he should be born. The woman signifies the Christian church, as an organised or constituted church, consisting of a fixed system of doctrine, precepts, worship and discipline conformable to the sacred scriptures of the new testament, Her child fignifies all those individual Christians, who, by their belief and obedience of these, are rendered the real votaries of that church. The B 2
first attempt of the Roman power Mould be, not to corrupt the Christian church, but to kill and destroy individual Christians, and these it should persecute in a very early period of the church. The church should produce a manly race, whom no dangers should intimidate, and no sufferings should depress. A race, who, at a distant period, Thall subdue all nations, with a rod of iron, and who, upon the overthrow of the various kingdoms and nations mentioned in prophecy, shall reign triumphant on the earth.
This prediction of ruling all nations, refers to a period long posterior to that in which Rome should persecute individual Christians, as is evident from the word penna, expressive of futurity, which is used in verse 5th, relative to the time of ruling with a rod of iron. This prediction refers to the same event, and is expressed almost in the same words, with those contained in Plal. ii. 9. and Rev. xix. 15. We are not to suppose that any of these predictions signify that Christians shall, with armies, fight against, and with relentless cruelty destroy the nations, who oppose Christianity and her votaries. It is only signified, that, in the course of Divine providence, instruments shall be raised up at last, completely to overthrow all the nations which oppose the kingdom of Christ, and that the time shall then come, when Christianity and her votaries shall reign triumphant. Some of these nations, as shall afterwards be shewn in the proper place, shall be the rod of iron, by which, in the course of providence, others of these nations, and particularly the Roman empire shall be broken to pieces.
In the mean time, the child was caught up to God and his throne. The child fignifies the same persons, who are represented in chap. iv. 4. by the four and twenty elders clothed in white raiment seated round about the throne of God, that is true Christians. True Christians, during that period should make but little figure upon earth, neither they nor their peaceful system of religion Mould appear very likely to subdue and overcome all nations. As if caught up to the throne of God they should, in some sense, be invisible; because men should not be able to say with absolute certainty that this or that person is a son of the church, a real Christian ; not being able to look directly to the real and internal qualities of the understanding and the heart, which form the Christian character; yet, they should all be true worshippers of God, should enjoy communion with him, should be his people and subjects, governed by his law and protected by his power.
The prophecies, contained in these five verses, have been fulfilled, with a most striking exactness, so far as the times, to which they refer, are yet come. The Christian church hath been erected