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St. John beheld the vision, was the Imperial. Hence it will plainly follow, that the Imperial form is the sixth head of the symbolical wild beast: and hence it will likewise follow, that its five predecessors, namely Kings, Consuls, Dictators, Decemvirs, and Consular Tribunes, as they are enumerated by the Roman historians themselves, are those five heads which had previously fallen *.
I. Six heads then of the wild beast are identified with perfect facility; but it is not equally easy to ascertain the last; for, since it was future, when the apostle wrote, there may be a danger of mistaking for it a power with which in reality it has no connection; nor of course can it be certainly known, until it has actually arisen.
The difficulty is increased by a very remarkable peculiarity, which St. John ascribes to it. the seventh head shall arise, it must continue but a short time and, after it has disappeared, an eighth form of government is to spring up, which yet is to be the same as one of the preceding seven forms; so that the wild beast shall in reality have no more than seven heads, though, so far as chronological succession is concerned, the Roman Empire shall be under the domination of eight forms of govern
While the last of these reigns paramount, the hieroglyphical wild beast, we are told, "goeth into perdition:" and his utter destruction, as we are
Liv. Hist. Rom. lib. vi. c. 1. Tacit. Annal. lib. i. in init.
afterwards taught, is effected in the great battle of Armageddon; when he sinks to rise no more, fighting at the head of a powerful confederacy of vassal sovereigns *.
II. Justly indignant at the tyranny exercised by the Roman pontiff, and perceiving that his seat was no other than the imperial city itself, protestant commentators long agreed in pronouncing, that the Papacy was that last head of the wild beast which was future at the time when the prophecy was delivered. They differed indeed as to the arrangement of the short-lived seventh form, but they were unanimous in determining the eighth to be the Papacy.
This interpretation however is radically faulty even in its very principle, to say nothing of the necessary incongruities which it produces in the arrangement of the seventh form. The wild beast represents a secular empire: and its six first heads all represent secular forms of government. Analogy therefore requires, that the last head should also represent a secular form of government; otherwise the homogeneity of the symbol is plainly violated †. But,
* Rev. xvii. 10, 11. Compare xvi. 13—16. and xix. 11–21. The necessity of our strict adherence to homogeneity, in the interpretation of the seventh and eighth forms of Roman government, strongly appears from the language of Daniel respecting the eleventh horn of his fourth beast; which, like the seven-headed beast of the Apocalypse, undoubtedly represents the Roman Empire.
whatever sway the Papacy might bear in spirituals, it most assuredly was never the secular head of the Roman Empire; in the same manner as Kings, Consuls, Dictators, Decemvirs, Consular Tribunes, and Emperors, were successively its secular heads.
St. John gives us no reason to suppose, that the predicted seventh and eighth forms of Roman government would differ from their predecessors, save as one secular polity may differ from another secular polity; that is to say, save as one of their predecessors differed from another of their predecessors. Hence we have no right to conclude, that the seventh and eighth forms will differ from their six predecessors, more than those six predecessors mutually differed from each other: in other words, we are required to suppose, that all the eight agree in being secular forms, though they may or rather must (for otherwise there could not be eight distinct forms) disagree in their political constitution.
But the mode, in which Daniel speaks of the eleventh horn is the very opposite to that which is adopted by St. John. As if aware, that any reasonable commentator would conclude the eleventh little horn to be the same in kind with the ten larger horns, however inferior it might be in magnitude: he carefully informs us, that it "shall be DIVERSE from the first;" and he plainly points out the ground of its diversity, by saying, that "it had eyes like the eyes of a man," or (as Sir Isaac Newton excellently remarks) that it was an episcopus or an overlooker or a seer or a bishop. Dan. vii. 24, 8.
Yet, notwithstanding this marked difference in the language of the two prophets, and notwithstanding the place of the ittle horn in Daniel is so manifestly occupied by the false prophet or the harlot in St. John; the error of identifying the little horn of Daniel's beast and the last head of St. John's beast has been almost universal among protestant expositors.
Therefore the Papacy cannot be intended by the last form of Roman government *.
III. Thus convinced that in this particular protestant interpretation has been radically erroneous, I was led to seek in history for the rise of a Roman form of government, which should answer to the successive seventh and eighth kings viewed as jointly constituting the single seventh head: and this I supposed myself to find in the short-lived Carlovingian Patriciate soon merging in the Carlovingian Emperorship.
Bp. Newton, who adopted the usual protestant opinion that the last form of Roman government was the Papacy, and who yet could not refrain from seeing (what history so clearly evinces) that the Carlovingian Emperorship was one of the seven heads, maintains, that that Emperorship is but the Augustan Emperorship revived: so that the Augustan Emperorship in Italy, the Constantinian Emperorship in Greece, and the Carlovingian Emperorship in the Western Empire, constitute jointly that, single sixth or Imperial head of the wild beast, which in the days of St. John had recently begun to exist †.
To this I objected the political dissimilarity between the Carlovingian Emperorship and the Augustan Emperorship: whence I argued, that, while they were the same in name, each individual prince
* See this point fully established above chap. x. sect. 3. + Newton's Dissert. on the Proph. Dissert. xxv. vol. iii. p. 211.
of the two lines being styled alike Emperor of the Romans, they were different in constitution; so that, notwithstanding the identity of title, they might be viewed as two distinct heads.
Having thus arranged the prophetic last form of Roman government, and having observed that it was of an ambulatory nature because it had passed from the kingdom of France to the kingdom of Germany; I argued, that, when the title of Roman Emperor was formally abdicated by the chief of the house of Austria, the last form of government did but return to France where it had previously existed under the administration of the Carlovingian princes. Hence I supposed it to follow, that, ever since the seventh day of August in the year 1806 when the Austrian archduke renounced the title of Emperor of the Romans; the military chief of the French Empire, then nearly identified with the old Western Empire, had been the representative of the last head of the Roman wild beast *.
1. I was long without perceiving any objection to this arrangement: but, in the autumn of the year 1815, an intelligent friend started a difficulty, which had been overlooked both by myself and by those numerous persons who have honoured my work with objurgatory criticism. The difficulty was this.
To constitute a prince, during the middle and modern ages, a proper representative of what I denominated the feudal Carlovingian head; he must
* See above chap. x. sect. 3.