« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
ly appears from the words of the text itself, Arise, devour much flesh.
And it raised up itself on one side, or, it raised up one dominion. The Persians were subject to the Medes at the conquest of Babylon, but soon after raised them. selves above them.
And it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it. By these are meant the three kingdoms of the Babylonians, Medes and Persians, which were reduced into one kingdom. They might properly be called ribs, as the conquest of them much strengthened the Persian empire; and they might be said to be between the teeth of the bear, as they were much grinded and oppressed by the Persians.
And they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. This, as we have before observed, was said, to denote the natural cruelty of the Medes and Persians. They are also represented very cruel by the prophet Isaiah, chap. xiii. 18. Cambyses, Ochus, and others of their princes, were, indeed, more like bears than men. Instances of their cruelty abound in almost all the historians who have written of their affairs. Ammianus Marcillinus describes them as being proud, cruel, and exercising the power of life and death over slaves and obscure plebeians.“ They
pull off the skin (says he) from men alive by pieces or 6 altogether; and they have abominable laws, by which, “ for one man's offence, all the neighborhood is de“ stroyed.”
The third kingdom is represented by another beast like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a foul; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. This is the kingdom of the Macedonians or Grecians, who, under the command of Alexander the Great, overcame the Persians, and reigned next after them; and it is fitly compared to a leopard on several accounts. The leopard is remarkable for swiftness; and Alexander and the Macedonians were amazingly swift and rapid in their conquests. The leopard is a spotted animal; and was therefore a proper emblem (according to Bochart) of the different manners of the nations which Alexander commanded, or, (according to Grotius) of the
various manners of Alexander himself, who was sometimes merciful, and sometimes cruel; sometimes temperate, and sometimes drunken; sometimes abstemious, and sometimes incontinent. The leopard (as Bochart observes) is of small stature, but of great courage, so as not to be afraid to engage with the lion and the largest beasts; and so Alexander, a little king in comparison, of small stature too, and with a small army, dared to attack Darius, whose kingdom was extended from the Ægean Sea to the Indies.
The beast had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl. The Babylonian empire was represented with two wings, but this is described with four. For (as St. Jerome saith) nothing could be swifter than the victories of Alexander, who ran through all the countries, from Illyricum and the Adriatic Sea, to the Indian ocean and the river Ganges, not so much fighting as conquering, and in twelve years subjugated part of Europe, and all Asia to himself.
The beast had also four heads; to denote the four kingdoms into which this same third kingdom should be divided, as it was divided, after the death of Alexander, into four kingdoms, Cassander reigning over Macedon and Greece, Lysimachus over Thrace and Bithynia, Ptolemy over Egypt, and Seleucus over Syria.
And dominion was given to it. This (as St. Jerome says) sheweth, that it was not owing to the fortitude of Alexander, but proceeded from the will of the Lord. And, indeed, unless he had been directed, preserved, and assisted by the Supreme Power, how could Alexander with 30,000 men have overcome Darius with 600,000, and, in so short a time, have brought all the countries, from Greece as far as to India, into subjection?
The fourth kingdom is represented by a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible; and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth; it devoured, and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it, and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it. Daniel was particularly desirous to know what this might mean; upon which he was thus answered by the angel, who had explained to him the former part of his vision : The fourth
beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon the earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces, Daniel vii. 19, 23.
This fourth kingdom can be none other than the Roman empire. The fourth beast was so great and horrible, that it was not easy to find an adequate name for it; and the Roman empire was dreadful, and terrible, and strong exceedingly, beyond any of the former kingdoms. It was diverse from all kingdoms, not only in its republican form of government, but likewise in strength and power, and greatness, length of duration, and extent of dominion. It devoured, and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it. It reduced Macedon into a Roman province about 168 years, the kingdom of Pergamus about 133 years, Syria about 65 years, and Egypt about 30 years, before Christ. And besides the remains of the Macedonian empire, it subdued many other provinces and kingdoms; so that it might very justly be said to devour the whole earth, and to tread it down, and break it in pieces; and it became, in a manner, what the Roman writers delighted to call it, namely, the empire of the whole world.
A celebrated Greek writer, who flourished in the reign of Augustus Cæsar, hath a remarkable passage, which is very pertinent towards illustrating the fufilment of this part of the prophecy. In speaking of the great supe. riority of the Roman to all former empires, he saith, “ The Macedonian empire having overturned the force of “ the Persians, in greatness indeed of dominion exceeded “ all the kingdoms which were before it; but yet it did not “ flourish a long time. After the death of Alexander it be
gan to grow worse and worse, and being divided into “ several principalities by his successors, it was weaken“ed by itself, and at last was destroyed by the Romans. “ Notwithstanding its once great power, yet it did not re6 duce all the earth and sea to its obedience. For neither “ did it possess Africa, except that part adjoining to “ Egypt; neither did it subdue all Europe, but only north“ wards it proceeded as far as Thrace, and westwards it “ descended to the Adriatic Sea. But the city of Rome ri ruleth over all the earth, as far as it is inbabited; and só commands all the sea, not only that within the pillars 6 of Hercules, but also the ocean, as far as it is naviga“ ble, having first and alone of all the most celebrated 6 kingdoms, made the east and west the bounds of its em
pire; and its dominion hath continued not a short time, “ but longer than that of any other city or kingdom in o the world."
Another remarkable property of this fourth beast is, that it had ten horns; and, according to the angel's interpretation, the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings, or kingdoms, that shall arise; which was accordingly fulfilled when the Roman empire was divided into ten different states or kingdoms.
But besides these ten horns or kingdoms of the fourth empire, there was to spring up among them another little horn. I considered the horns (saith Daniel) and behold there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns pluckt up by the roots. Daniel was eager to know the meaning of this part of the vision; upon which the angel informed him, that as the ten horns out of this kingdom were ten kings, or kingdoms, that should arise, so likewise that another shall rise after them, and he shall subdue three kings, or kingdoms.
We have already seen that the Roman empire was divided into ten horns or kingdoms; and among them we may, on a proper examination, find another little horn or kingdom, answering in all respects to the character here given. The celebrated Machiavel (in his history of Florence) after having shewn how the Roman empire was broken and divided by the incursions of the northern nations, says, “ About this time the bishops of Rome began to “ take upon them, and to exercise greater authority than “ they had formerly done. At first the successors of St. « Peter were venerable and eminent for their miracles, 6 and the holiness of their lives; and their examples " added daily such numbers to the christian church, that 66 to obviate or remove the confusions which were then in “ the world, many princes turned christians, and the em
peror of Rome being converted among the rest, and 6 quitting Rome, to hold bis residence at Constantinople, “ the Roman empire began to decline, but the church of “ Rome augmented as fast.” He then proceeds to give an account how the Roman empire declined, and the power of the church of Rome increased, first under the Goths, then under the Lombards, and afterwards by the calling in of the Franks.
Here, then, is a little born springing up among the other ten horns. The bishop of Rome was respectable as a bishop long before, but he did not become a horn properly (which is an emblem of strength and power) till he became a temporal prince. He was to rise after the other, that is, behind them; so that the ten kings were not aware of the growing up of the little horn, till it had overpowered them. Three of the first horns (that is, three of the first kings or kingdoms) were to be pluckt up by the roots, and to fall before him. These three are very fully explained both by Mr Mede and Sir Isaac Newton; but, as there is very little variation between them, we shall only quote the words of the latter. “ Kings (saith he) are put * for kingdoms, and therefore the little horn is a little 6. kingdom. It was a horn of the fourth beast, and rooted “ up three of his first horns, and therefore we are to look “ for it among the nations of the Latin empire, after the “ rise of the ten horns.-In the eighth century, by rooting “ up and subduing the exarchate of Ravenna, the king“ dom of the Lombards, and the senate and dukedom of “ Rome, the bishop acquired Peter's patrimony out of “ their dominions; and thereby rose up as a temporal “ prince or king, or horn of the fourth beast.” Again, “ It was certainly by the victory of the see of Rome over “ the Greek emperor, the king of Lombardy, and the 6 senate of Rome, that she acquired Peter's patrimony, “ and rose up to her greatness.”—That this explanation of Sir Isaac Newton's is justly founded will appear from what follows.
First, the exarchate of Ravenna, which of right be. longed to the Greek emperors, and was the capital of their dominions in Italy, having revolted at the instigation of the pope, was unjustly seized by Aistulphus king of the Lombards, who thereupon thought of making him