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all paft, before John faw this vifion, 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 fince the year of Chrift 756.
The ten horns are the different kingdoms, which were conquered by the Roman empire, who, during 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 ftrength of fome of the fiercest beasts lies in their horns, or rather as their ftrength is collected and applied to one point by their horns; in the fymbolical language; horns fignify the collected ftrength of one body of men under one head, that is, the power of a kingdom under one king. This fymbol is uniformly used in this fenfe, by all the prophets, particularly by Jeremiah xlviii. 25. by Zechariah i. 18. 19. and by Daniel viii. 20, 21. The last of these paffages I fhall here transcribe, “The ram which thou sawest ha
ving two horns, are the kingdoms of Media and "Perfia, and the rough goat is the king of Greece, VOL. II. B
"and the great horn between his eyes is the first
king." In chap. xvii. 12. John exprefsly fays, "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 fhall be fhewn in our commentary on that verfe.
In this hieroglyphic the crowns are upon the feven heads, and not upon the ten horns, to fignify that during the period to which it relates, Rome fhall be vefted with the only fupreme independent civil power; and that these provinces, though formerly independent kingdoms, and though, in a future period, they fhall again become independent kingdoms, yet during this period fhall be ftripped of their regal power; but still as conquered provinces shall add to the ftrength of Rome. In a fucceeding period thefe conquered provinces fhall become independent kingdoms, and then they are reprefented, as in verfe ift of the next chapter, by ten horns with ten crowns upon them, while there are no crowns upon the feven heads, but only the name of blafphemy. The plain meaning, therefore, of this fign is, that Satan, not immediately, but by the Roman empire, as an inftrument in his hands, fhall attempt to deftroy the church of Chrift. The various attempts, which he fhall make, are particularly described in this chapter, and shall be illustrated as they occur.
This dragon is called great to fignify the great power
power of Rome during the period of this hieroglyphic, and red to fignify the great quantity of the blood of the martyrs, which fhould be fhed in the different perfecutions 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 fo dazzled and charmed by the outward grandeur and magnificence of the many heathen rites, which, at that period, fhould be introduced into the worship of those who should call themselves Chriftians, and fo captivated by the great temporal emoluments of the ministerial office, that they should be caft 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 destroy, not the woman, but only her child, and that fo foon as he fhould be born. The woman fignifies the Chriftian church, as an organised or conftituted church, confifting of a fixed system of doctrine, precepts, worship and difcipline conformable to the facred scriptures of the new teftament. Her child fignifies all those individual Chriftians, who, by their belief and obedience of these, are rendered the real votaries of that church. The B 2 firft
first attempt of the Roman power should be, not to corrupt the Chriftian church, but to kill and destroy individual Chriftians, and thefe it fhould perfecute in a very early period of the church. The church fhould produce a manly race, whom no dangers should intimidate, and no sufferings fhould deprefs. A race, who, at a distant period, fhall fubdue all nations, with a rod of iron, and who, upon the overthrow of the various kingdoms and nations mentioned in prophecy, fhall reign triumphant on the earth.
This prediction of ruling all nations, refers to a period long pofterior to that in which Rome fhould perfecute individual Chriftians, as is evident from the word μe, expreffive of futurity, which is ufed in verse 5th, relative to the time of ruling with a rod of iron. This prediction refers to the same event, and is expreffed almoft in the fame words, with those contained in Pfal. ii. 9. and Rev. xix. 15. We are not to suppose that any of thefe predictions fignify that Chriftians fhall, with armies, fight against, and with relentless cruelty destroy the nations, who oppofe Christianity and her votaries. It is only fignified, that, in the courfe of Divine providence, inftruments fhall be raised up at laft, completely to overthrow all the nations. which oppose the kingdom of Chrift, and that the time shall then come, when Christianity and her votaries fhall reign triumphant. Some of thefe na
tions, as fhall afterwards be fhewn in the proper place, fhall be the rod of iron, by which, in the courfe of providence, others of these nations, and particularly the Roman empire fhall be broken to pieces.
In the mean time, the child was caught up to God and his throne. The child fignifies the fame perfons, who are reprefented in chap. iv. 4. by the four and twenty elders clothed in white raiment feated round about the throne of God, that is true Christians. True Chriftians, during that period fhould make but little figure upon earth, neither they nor their peaceful fyftem of religion fhould appear very likely to fubdue and overcome all nations. As if caught up to the throne of God they fhould, in fome sense, be invisible; because men fhould not be able to fay with abfolute certainty that this or that person is a fon of the church, a real Chriftian; not being able to look directly to the real and internal qualities of the understanding and the heart, which form the Chriftian character; yet, they should all be true worshippers of God, fhould enjoy communion with him, should be his people and fubjects, governed by his law and protected by his power.
The prophecies, contained in these five verses, have been fulfilled, with a most striking exactness, fo far as the times, to which they refer, are yet The Chriftian church hath been erected in