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353 Franks to Rome, in the year 800, but “of the age itself.” “Up to that instant nothing but chaos."
” he says, “had prevailed among the tribes that had overturned
Rome and its empire.” “Europe, or rather its embryo, was struggling, nevertheless, and travailing, though with abortive efforts, to emerge from this state. ... The fragments of those mighty structures,—aqueducts, towns, bridges, highways, the ruins of marble cities, villas, and temples,
amongst which they pastured their flocks and herds, disposed their ambuscades in war, or pursued the pleasures of the chase, all these memorials were haunted, even for them, with certain vague imaginings, perhaps of admiration and wonder, concerning the order of things to which they had belonged. The same might be said of the relics of Roman society, and of its shattered institutions. The very name of the empire, the recollections of this grand and glorious society, agitated the memories of men. ... Even the conquerors, themselves, were attached to similar reminiscences by their most darling passions. The image of its greatness,” the same writer continues, “was often brought before their excited imaginations, while they listened to the bards, who were wont to celebrate, amidst the carousal, the achievements and the prowess of their sires, who had figured in its wars, in its triumphs, but, above all, in its destruction. The consequence was inevitable. By thus frequently contemplating the image of this august order of things,”—I am still continuing the quotation,-“their understandings, rude as they were, could not fail to be struck with the glaring defects and inferiority of their own condition. They became sensible, that, belonging to the empire among the ruins of which they found them
354 Empire of the West revived. (LECT. selves, there was a something which they had need to imitate, to reproduce. Hence the effect of that stroke of policy which revived the Empire of the West. On the barbarian world its effect was magical. Those dull instincts and imaginings, so abortive hitherto, and so wide of any definite aim, became, on the instant, so many powerful and concordant rudiments of stability. The idea, the project, that had been harassing the breasts of all, like a nightmare vision, but which no one had power to realize, was recognized and hailed by all with acclamations, the moment it was presented to them, in the person of their mighty hero, “crowned of God, the great and pacific emperor of the Romans.'
“From that hour,” says the same writer, “the barbarian tribes acquired a new relation,—one that attached them all, simultaneously, to a grand idea of general and permanent association. This,” he observes, “ was the beginning of modern Europe;" and “such were the advantages which the Providence, that had already turned to so much account whatever belonged to the pagan empire of Rome, knew how to derive from its very name, and the shadow of its former greatness 5.” Doubtless, indeed, every tongue of man must own that the whole course of events in the world's history, in its relation to the Church of God, has been overruled and ordered, in a marvellous manner, throughout, by His Allwise and Almighty Providence, and most signally in the present instance; but the visions of Prophecy, which so wonderfully teach this lesson, have at the same time assigned to the different agencies which have been the unconscious instruments of that
“Rome as it was under Paganism,” &c., vol. ii. pp. 320.325-7.
355 Divine Providence, a place in the great drama, and stamped upon them a character, far different, oftentimes, from that which human discernment might have given them; and have exhibited, behind the veil of earthly things, principles and agents of the world unseen. And, be it recollected, it was the question of the worship of images in the Christian Church, as is observed by the historian of Rome's Decline and Fall, that “produced the revolt of Italy, the temporal power of the Popes, and the restoration of the Roman Empire in the West 6.”
The relations between the spiritual and temporal powers, bound together as they were so strangely, and interwoven so closely, in the system of Papal Europe, may perhaps be traced in the further description of the agency revealed in the vision. “ And he had power to give life”-or more literally “breath ?to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he caused all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads : and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name 8."
The persecuting character of the Church of Rome is, unhappily, too notorious to need pointing out: and, though she wielded not the sword with her own hand, nor gave directly from herself the command for the execution of her sentence; yet would she give her victims over to the secular power, and make kings and princes inflict the punishment which she pronounced
6 Gibbon, chap. 49, init.
8 Rev. xiii. 15–17.
[LECT. on the guilty. And among the instances of the infliction, by temporal sovereigns, of penalties of the very kind specified in the prophecy, reference has been made by expositors to that which is recorded of the Norman Conqueror, " that he would not permit any one under his power to buy or sell any thing, whom he found disobedient to the apostolic see
But in regard to this whole portion of the prophecy, and especially the image of the wild beast, its compulsory worship, its mark, and name, and number, there is a difficulty and a mystery, the existence of which is sufficiently proved by the diversity of interpretations proposed by expositors; and which would lead us to the conclusion that it is reserved for the still unrevealed future, in the destinies, perhaps, of modern Europe, perhaps of the East as well as the West, to remove the obscurity which envelopes the vision.
And with regard particularly to the mystic number, — declared to be a mystery by the Inspired Authority which hath propounded it for the thoughtful consideration of “him that hath understanding,”—amidst the variety of conjectures which have been offered, (some regarding it as a chronological date, others, and those the greater number, as composing a word, or title,) I know nothing better than to repeat the cautions of Irenæus, the disciple of Polycarp, the disciple of St. John, reproving those who hastily endeavoured to interpret it, and saying that it is safer to await the event of the prophecy,
Roger de Hoveden, quoted interpret one of the two horns (from Usher, de Success. Eccles. of the second beast as refercap. 7. sect. _7) by Vitringa, ring to an Eastern Antichrist, Daubuz, and Bp. Newton. Mahometanism.
i Dean Woodhouse would
xi.] Full development of Antichrist. 357 than to attempt to conjecture and divine the import of the name? I may add, however, that if a preference is to be given to any one interpretation, rather than another, especially of those which have sanction from Antiquity, the strongest claim, perhaps, may be asserted in behalf of one of those which Irenæus has enumerated, and which (though himself, it would seem, inclining rather to a different one) he thinks to be very probable, as being the name of the last of the four empires, the Latin.. But all seems uncertain conjecture.
If now, in reviewing the interpretation which has been thus faintly sketched out, or partially illustrated, and comparing the vision before us with that of the four beasts in the book of Daniel, it should seem that the principal power here represented, combining as it does the symbols of all the four in Daniel, must have a more comprehensive interpretation ; and that it must prefigure some dominion of secular tyranny and pseudo-Christianity, exceeding, if not in magnitude, at least in craft and cruelty, any that the world has yet seen; such a conclusion will but be in accordance with that which has been already suggested, that all that has hitherto been put forth in Christendom, of Antichristian pride and persecution, has been rather the precursor
'Ασφαλέστερον ούν και ακιν- έχοντα των αυτών αριθμών, ποίον δυνότερον, το περιμένειν την εξ αυτών φορέσει ο ερχόμενος,
ó , έκβασιν της προφητείας, ή το (nrnOngerai. Contra Hæres. καταστοχάζεσθαι, και καταμαν- lib. v. cap. 30. 3. τεύεσθαι ονόματος τυχόν δε επί 3 Vid. Note, Appendix. So πολλών ονομάτων ευρεθήναι also Hippolytus, who, followδυναμένου του αυτού αριθμού, ing Irenæus, seems more deet nihilominus quidem erit hæc cidedly to incline to this intereadem questio. Ει γάρ πολλά pretation. De Antichristo, cap έστι τα ευρισκόμενα οι όματα, 50. See Note.