of Antiochus, to which the character and circumstances ascribed to the power of the Little Horn are even much more applicable : and this kingdom, he says, was the Roman.

The Romans were a new and different power among the four preceding horns; they rose from small beginnings to an exceeding great empire ; they first subdued Macedon and Greece, the capital kingdom of the Goat; and from thence spread and enlarged their conquests over the rest : and the time of their final dominion and usurpations agrees better than that of Antiochus with the time mentioned in the prophecy, viz. the latter part of the kingdom of the four great horns.

The Romans, he further says, (having first subdued Macedon and Greece,) inherited, by the will of Attalus, the kingdom of Pergamus, which was the remains of the kingdom of Lysimachus; and afterwards they converted into a province the kingdom of Syria, and lastly the kingdom of Egypt.

When the Romans stood up, also, the transgressions were come to the full; very abominable iniquities (which he enumerates) being practised amongst the Jews, even with


regard to the high priesthood, and with rea gard to religion.

The Romans, moreover, waxed exceeding great towards the fouth, towards the east, and towards the pleafant land, even within the territories of the Goat. They made provinces of Egypt in the fouth, of Syria in the east, and of Judea.

The Romans alfo took away the daily facrifice, and deftroyed the temple at Jerufalem, and put an end to the government of the Jews.

The Romans also, in one sense of the word, ftood up against the Prince of princes, the Meffiah; because, although it was in confequence of the malice of the Jews, and of their 467. prosecution, yet it was by the Supreme poiver of the Romans, that Our Bleffed Lord (when humbled in the flesh) was put to death.

After making these obfervations, the Bishop proceeds to give still another turn to the metaphorical emblem: endeavouring to fhew, in the most forcible manner, that the Romans not only crucified our Saviour, and were perfecu tors of his difciples; but that, moreover, embracing the Chriftian religion, they then very foon


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

foon corrupted it, and perfecuted those who had preferved its principles untainted; infomuch that it might be queftioned whether their favour was not as hurtful to the Church of Christ as their enmity.

And he adds, that as the power of the Roman Emperors declined, that of the Roman Pontiffs increased; and that it may, with equal juftice, be faid of the latter, as of the former, that they caft down the truth to the ground, and practised and profpered.

But notwithstanding all this is very ingenious, and obferved with much penetration; and there are certainly fuch characters marked in the description of this dreadful Power, (which should harass the Jews and the fervants of God in the Eaft,) as have a most aftonishing fimilarity, in fome points, to the

characters of that other Power which fhouldharafs the people of God and the Church in the Weft: yet nevertheless it cannot but be obvious to every confiderate reader, how much embarraffed this excellent Writer is, to reconcile fome obvious difficulties, if all the outlines of the emblematical figure be minutely. and properly attended to; and to account for certain parts of the prophecy, which are even



more ftriking than the reft: and how unable he is to do fo (confiftently with his own explanation) in a fatisfactory manner.

The circumftances which embarrass him, and the particularities in this part of the prophecy, which render it not truly and accurately applicable to the Roman empire, are:

First, That the Roman power and dominion had already been prefigured, in a former part of Daniel's vifion, by the emblem of a diftinct great and furious beaft, ch. vii. ver. 7 and 8 and if this prefent interpretation of Bishop Newton's is to be admitted, it is here again represented, in a very different manner, under the image only of a little born of quite another beaft; whilft the original emblem is forgotten, and departed from entirely.

Secondly. And, in the next place, it is not only described by a new and different image, a little horn; but that horn appertains in reality to, and is part of, the emblem, (the He-Goat,) which related to a very different and diftinct empire. And it is hardly a fufficient folution of this difficulty, or a fatisfactory anfwer to the objection that may obviously be made, to fay that the Romans are bere defcribed only with refpect to THAT power

power which they had in the East, when they conquered part of the dominions which had belonged to the Grecian empire, that was originally prefigured by the He-Goat.

Thirdly. If this Little Horn is an emblem of any Roman dominion whatever, it renders totally nugatory and useless the emblem of the other little horn, which had been described, ch, vii. ver. 8, as arising on the head of the fourth great and dreadful beast, representing the Roman empire ; before which little born three of the first horns of that beast were plucked up by the roots. And it introduces much embarrassment, by confounding these two images together; and destroys that clearness and perfpicuity, for which this whole wonderful prophecy is otherwise so remarkable in all its parts.

Fourthly. The character given of the beginning of this formidable power ; that it should be by means of a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences ; does little agree

with that of the Roman power, which existed without any king at all at that 469. time; and was Republican, or rather Aristocratical, during the conquests in the East; and was composed of a people concerning

« VorigeDoorgaan »