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not what hour the Son of man cometh. Suppose then some of the events described in this prophecy should be of doubtful application, suppose the precise time of the downfall of the beast, the slaying and resurrection of the witnesses, and the beginning of a thousand years happy state of the church, should not be so determined, but it would admit of different calculations; may it not be wise, and therefore fit it should be so? The certainty of those events in a proper time, though that time should not be precisely determined, will answer the greater ends of useful instruction. And if the revelation should go no further than this, it would yet be a revelation, of great benefit and advantage; as the certainty of the day of judgment in its proper time surely is, though of that day and hour knoweth no man."
ANS. 3. Though it is not for us to know the precise time of the fall of Antichrist, yet I humbly conceive that we have no reason to suppose the event principally intended in the prophecies of Antichrist's destruction to be at so great a distance, as Mr. Lowman places it; but have reason to think it to be much nearer. Not that I would set up myself as a person of equal judgment with Mr. Lowman in matters of this nature. As he differs from most others of the most approved expositors of the Apocalypse, in this matter, so I hope it will not appear vanity and presumption in me, to differ from this particular expositor, and to agree with the greater number. And since his opinion stands so much in the way of that great and important affair, to promote which is the very end of this whole discourse, I hope it will not look as though I affected to appear considerable among the interpreters of prophecy, and as a person of skill in these mysterious matters, that I offer some reasons against Mr. Lowman's opinion. It is surely great pity, that it should be received as a thing clear and abundantly confirmed, that the glorious day of Antichrist's fall is at so great a distance (so directly tending to damp and discourage all earnest prayers for, or endeavors after its speedy accomplishment), unless there be good and plain ground for it. I would therefore offer some things to consideration, which I think may justly make us look upon the opinion of this learned interpreter, of this happy event's being at so great a distance, not so certain and indubitable, as to hinder our praying and hoping for its being fulfilled much sooner.
The period of Antichrist's reign, as their author has fixed it, seems to be the main point insisted on in his exposition of the Revelation; which he supposes a great many things in the scheme of prophecies delivered in that book do concur to establish. And indeed it is so with respect to the scheme of interpretation of these prophecies, which he goes into, and finds it requisite to maintain, in order to confirm this point. But there are several things in that scheme, that appear to me justly liable to exception.
Whereas it it represented, Rev. xvii. 10, 11, that there are seven different successive heads of the beast; that five were past, and another was to come, and to continue a short space, that might on some accounts be reckoned a seventh; and that Antichrist was to follow next after this, as the eighth ; but yet the foregoing not being properly one of the heads of the beast, he was properly the seventh; Mr. Lowman does not think with others, that by the seventh that was to continue a short space, which would not be properly one of the heads of the beast, is meant Constantine and the other Christian emperors (for he thinks they are reckoned as properly belonging to the sixth head of the beast); but that hereby is intended the government that Rome was subject to under the Gothic princes, and the exarchate of Ravenna, after the imperial form of government in Rome ceased in Augustulus, until the Pope was invested with his temporal dominion, called St Peter's Patrimony, by Pepin, king of France, in the year
756. And he supposes, that that wounding of one of the heads of the beast with a sword unto death, that we read of chap. xiii. 3, and 14, was not fulfilled in the destruction of the Heathen empire, and the giving the imperial power unto Christians, but in the destruction of the imperial form of government, by the sword of the Goths, in the time of Augustulus. But it seems to me to be very unlikely, that the Spirit of God should reckon Constantine and the Christian emperors as proper members, and belonging to one of the heads, of that monstrous, wild and cruel beast, that is compared to a leopard and a bear, and a devouring lion, and that had a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and that rules by the power and authority of the dragon, or the devil;* which beast is represented in this very 17th chapter, as full of names of blasphemy, and of a bloody color, denoting his exceeding cruelty in persecuting the Christian church. For Constantine, intead of this, was a member of the Christian church, and set by God in the most eminent station in his church; and was honored above all other princes that ever had been in the world, as the great protector of his church, and her deliverer from the persecuting power of that cruel scarlet-colored beast. Mr. Lowman himself styles him a Christian prince, and protector of the Christian religion. God is very careful not to reckon his own people among the Gentiles, the visible subjects of Satan: Num. xxiii. 9, "The people shall not be reckoned among the nations." God will not enrol them with them; if they happen to be among them, he will be careful to set a mark upon them, as a note of distinction, Rev. vii. 3, &c.; when God is reckoning up his own people, he leaves out those that have been noted for idolatry. As among the tribes that were sealed, Rev. viii., those idolatrous tribes of Ephraim and Dan are left out, and in the genealogy of Christ, Matt. i., those princes that were chiefly noted for idolatry, are left out. Much more would God be careful not to reckon his own people, especially such Christian princes as have been the most eminent instruments of overthrowing idolatry, amongst idolaters, and as members and heads of that kingdom that is noted in Scripture as the most notorious and infamous of all, for abominable idolatry, and opposi tion and cruelty to the true worshippers of God. And especially not to reckon them as properly belonging to one of those seven heads of this monarchy, of which very heads it is particularly noted that they had on them the names of blasphemy (Rev. xiii. 1); which Mr. Lowman himself supposes to signify idolatry. It was therefore worthy of God, agreeable to his manner, and what might well be expected, that when he was reckoning up the several successive heads of this beast, and Constantine and his successors came in the way, and there was occasion to mention them, to set a mark, or note of distinction on them, signifying that they did not properly belong to the beast, nor were to be reckoned as belonging to his heads; and therefore are to be skipped over in the reckoning; and Antichrist, though the eighth head of the Roman empire, is to be reckoned the seventh head of the beast. This appears to me abundantly the most just and natural interpretation of Rev. xvii. 10, 11. It is reasonable to suppose that God would take care to make such a note in this prophetical description of this dreadful beast, and not by any means to reckon Constantine as belonging properly to him. If we reckon Constantine as a member of this beast, having seven heads and ten horns, described chap. xvii., and as properly one of his heads, then he was also properly a member of the great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, that warred with the woman, chap. xii. For the seven heads and ten horns of that dragon, are plainly the same with the
* The word Therion signifies a wild savage beast, as Mr. Lowman himself observes, page 127.
seven heads and ten horns of this beast. So that this makes Constantine a visible member of the devil: for we are told expressly of that dragon, ver. 9, that he was" that old serpent, called the devil and Satan." And to suppose that Constantine is reckoned as belonging to one of the heads of that dragon, is to make these prophecies inconsistent with themselves. For here in this 12th chapter we have represented a war between the dragon and the woman cloth ed with the sun; which woman, as all agree, is the church; but Constantine as all do also agree, belonged to the woman, was a member of the Christiar church, and was on that side in the war against the dragon, yea, was the main instrument of that great victory that was obtained over the dragon, there spoken of, ver. 9-12. What an inconsistency therefore is it, to suppose that he was at the same time a member and head of that very dragon which fought with the woman, and yet which Constantine himself fought with, overcame, and gloriously triumphed over! It is not therefore to be wondered at, that God was careful to distinguish Constantine from the proper heads of the beast: it would have been a wonder if he had not. God seems to have been careful to distinguish him, not only in his word, but in his providence, by so ordering it that this Christian emperor should be removed from Rome, the city that God had given up to be the seat of the power of the beast and of its heads, and that he should have the seat of his empire elsewhere.
Constantine was made the instrument of giving a mortal wound to the heathen Roman empire; and giving it a mortal wound in its head, viz., the heathen emperors that were then reigning, Maxentius and Licinius. But more eminent
ly was this glorious change in the empire owing to the power of God's word, the prevalence of the glorious gospel, by which Constantine himself was converted, and so became the instrument of the overthrow of the heathen empire in the east and west. The change that was then brought to pass, is represented as the destruction of the heathen empire, or the old heathen world; and therefore seems to be compared to that dissolution of heaven and earth that shall be at the day of judgment, Rev. vi. 12, to the end. And therefore well might the heathen empire under the head which was then reigning, be represented as wounded to death, chap. xiii. 3. It is much more likely that the wound the beast had by a sword, in his head, spoken of ver. 14, was the wound that the heathen empire had in its head, by that sword that we read of chap. i. 16, and xix. 15, that proceeds out of the mouth of Christ, than the wound that was given to the Christian empire and emperor by the sword of the heathen Goths. It is most likely that this deadly wound was by that sword with which Michael made war with him, and overcame him, and cast him to the earth, chap. xii. 9, and that the deadly wound that was given him, was given him at that very time. It is most likely, that the sword that gave him this deadly wound, after which he strangely revived, as though he rose from the dead, was the same sword with that which is spoken of, as what shall at last utterly destroy him, so that he shall never rise more, chap. xix. 15, 19, 20, 21. This wounding of the head of the beast by the destruction of the heathen empire, and conversion of the emperor to the Christian truth, was a glorious event indeed of divine Providence, worthy to be so much spoken of in prophecy. It is natural to suppose, that the mortal wounding of the head of that savage cruel beast, that is represented as constantly at war with the woman, and persecuting the church of Christ, should be some relief to the Christian church: but on the contrary that wounding to death that Mr. Lowman speaks of, was the victory of the enemies of the Christian church over her, and the wound she received from them.
It is said of that head of the empire that shall be next after the sixth head,
and next before Antichrist, and that is not reckoned as properly one of the number of the heads of the beast, that when it comes, it shall continue a short space, chap. xvii. 10. By which we may well understand, at least, that it shall be one of the shortest in its continuance, of the successive heads. But the government seated at Ravenna, in the hands of the Goths, or of the deputies of the Greek emperors (which Mr. Lowman supposes to be meant by this head), continued, as Mr. Lowman himself takes notice, very near 300 years. And if so, its continuance was one of the longest of the heads mentioned.
And besides, if the government that Rome was under, from the time that Augustulus abdicated, to the when time the Pope was confirmed in his temporal dominion, was meant by that seventh head that was to be between the imperial head and the papal, there would doubtless have been two different heads mentioned, instead of one, between the emperor and the Pope; viz., first, the Gothic princes, which reigned near a hundred years: secondly, the Exarchs of Ravenna, which governed for about 185 years. The Gothic kingdom was much more properly a distinct government from the imperial, than the Exarchate of Ravenna. For during the Exarchate, Rome was under the government of the emperor, as much as it was in Constantine's time.
In Rev. xvii. 12, it is said, the "ten horns are ten kings, which are to receive power as kings one hour with the beast," or (as Mr. Lowman says it ought to have been translated)" the same hour or point of time with the beast." This will not allow the time when Antichrist first receives power as king, to be so late as Mr. Lowman supposes. This division of the empire into many kingdoms, denoted by the number ten, was about the year 456, after Gensericus had taken the city of Rome: but Mr. Lowman places the beginning of the reign of Antichrist in the year 756, which is 300 years later. I know, such an expression as in one hour, or the same hour, may allow some latitude; but surely not such a latitude as this. This is a much longer time, than it was from the time of the vision to Constantine; much longer than the space of all the first six seals; longer than it was from Christ's ascension to Constantine; and near as long as the time of all the reigns of the heathen emperors put together, from Augustus Cæsar to Constantine. An hour is everywhere, in the other places in this book of Revelation, used to signify a very short time; as may be seen in places cited in the margin.* And the expression, the same hour, everywhere else in the Bible, intends near the same point of time. The phrase one hour is used several times in the next chapter, speaking of the downfall of Antichrist:‡ and each time, evidently signifies a very short space of time. And there is no reason why we should not understand the same phrase in the same sense, when it is used here concerning the rise of Antichrist.
Mr. Lowman greatly insists upon it, that what is spoken as containing 1260 days, is not so much any spiritual authority or ecclesiastical power of the Pope, over the nations of Christendom, as his temporal government and dominion in that individual city of Rome; and therefore to determine when these 1260 days or years began, and when they will end, we must consider when the Pope first received this his temporal power over this city of Rome, and the neighboring regions, called St. Peter's Patrimony. But I can see no good reason for this. Indeed it is strange, if it be so. God has been pleased in these revelations and prophecies, which he has given for the benefit of his church in general, to speak much concerning an Antichristian power that should arise, that should perse
* Rev. xviii. 10, 17, 19, chap. xi. 3, iii. 10, viii. 3, ix. 15, xiv. 7.
+ Dan. iii. 6, iv. 33, v. 5,Matt. vii. 13, x. 19, Luke vii. 21, xii. 12, xx. 19, xxiv. 33, John iv. 53, Acts xvi. 18, 33, xxii. 13, Rev. xi. 13. Verses 10, 17, 19.
cute the saints, and scatter the power of the holy people, and be an occasion of great affliction to the church of Christ; and in these revelations, in both Old Testament and New, has declared and often repeated it, that his dominion. shall continue so long, and no longer; and for the comfort of his church in general, Christ hath sworn with great solemnity, that the continuance of this persecuting power shall be thus limited, Dan. xii. 7.
Now it would be strange, if in all this the thing principally intended is not that dominion of this Antichristian power that chiefly concerns the church of Christ in general, but merely his temporal dominion over one province in Italy, called St. Peter's Patrimony. Doubtless that dominion of Antichrist which the prophecies insist upon and describe, is the dominion whose duration and limits those prophecies declare. But the dominion of Antichrist which the prophecies insist upon and describe, is not any dominion over a particular province in Italy, but the dominion by which he succeeds the four great monarchies of the world, Dan. vii. The dominion by which he succeeds the dragon in his power, throne and great authority, Rev. xiii. 2. The dominion in which he has power given him over all kindreds, tongues and nations, ver. 7. The dominion by which the great whore sits on many waters (chap xvii. 1), which the angel explains to be peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues (ver. 15), and the dominion in which he reigns over the ten kings, into which the Roman empire is divided, Rev. xiii. 1, and xvii. 3, 12, 13. The beast that had ten horns, is not the city of Rome and the neighboring region, but the Roman empire; they are the horns or the kings, not of the city, but of the empire. If we consider what is expressed in the passages themselves, which speak of the three years and half of Antichrist, they will lead us to understand something very diverse from the duration of his temporal dominion over St. Peter's patrimony. In Dan. vii. 25, the time, times and a half, of the little horn, is expressly the continuance of time wherein it shall be given to him to change times and laws, and wear out the saints of the Most High; and in chap. xiii. 7, it is spoken of as the time of his scattering the power of the holy people. In Rev. xi. 2, the forty and two months is spoken of as the time of Antichrist's treading under foot the court of the temple, and the holy city; i. e., the external or visible Christian church abroad in the world, or the nations of Christendom. In ver. 3, the twelve hundred and sixty days of Antichrist are spoken of as the time of the witnesses prophesying in sackcloth; and in chap. xii. 6, and 14, the time of the woman's being in the wilderness, which was through the great power that Antichrist had over the Christian world, and not his small temporal dominion in Italy.
It is true, some regard is had in the prophecies to the city of Rome, the city built on seven hills: which, being the fountain of all rule and authority in the Roman monarchy, and the capital city of the empire, from whence the whole empire was denominated, and the place where the head of the empire usually resided, was properly made use of by the angel, Rev. xvii. 9, 18, to show what empire Antichrist should rule over, and what city he should usually reside in. And this is all that can be meant by the words of the angel; and not that those streets and walls, and that very ground, were such main and essential things in what the prophecy intended by the beast; that when Antichrist's dominion began in that place, then the beast ceases. For if so, then it will follow, that the beast had his head wounded to death a second time, and ceased to be, when the Popes resided at Avignon in France, for the best part of a century; when not only the Popes did not reside at Rome, nor in any part of St. Peter's patrimony, nor any part of Italy; but some of them were neither Romans nor Italians. Though the angel says of the great whore, Rev. xvii. 18, "The woman VOL. III.