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same Empire from its first rise to its final dissolution, when viewed chronologically.
As Daniel beheld all the four symbolical wildbeasts of his vision, and therefore of course the last or Roman beast, come up from the troubled waters of the great sea or (in unfigured language) out of the midst of nations agitated by war and revolution: so John, in a similar manner, beheld the seven-headed and ten-horned beast of his vision, which answers to the ten-horned beast of Daniel, rise up out of the same allegorical sea of violence and bloodshed %.
This circumstance appears to have been so carefully mentioned by the latter prophet, partly as a note by which the two wild-beasts might be identified, and partly as a mark by which the chronological duration of the apocalyptic beast might be ascertained.
1. With respect to the first object which St. John had in view when he mentioned this circumstance, the fact of the apocalyptic wild-beast's emergence from the sea constitutes a very decisive note by which he
be identified with the ten-horned beast of Daniel.
As each of these beasts is decorated with ten horns ; and as each is said to tyrannise over the saints, through the agency of a second well-defined Power, during the same period of three prophetic
times and a half or 42 months or 1260 days : so to each is assigned the very same origin ; for each is declared to have come up from the waters of the troubled sea.
Such various points of coincidence cannot belong to two different and unconnected symbols : jointly, therefore, they establish, beyond a possibility of dispute, the identity of the two ten-horned wildbeasts.
2. But the second and chief object, which St. John had in view when he mentioned the emergence of the apocalyptic wild-beast from the sea, was to give us a decisive mark by which his chronological continuance might be ascertained; a matter, nevertheless, respecting which a gross error has been very generally prevalent.
The emergence of the ten-horned wild-beast, which Daniel beheld, can only denote, as all commentators agree, the rise of the Roman Empire under its martial founder Romulus. Hence, by every rule of consistent interpretation, the exactly similar emergence of the self-same ten-horned wildbeast, which St. John beheld, must denote the selfsame circumstance also. But, if, in the emergence of the ten-horned wild-beast, St. John beheld the rise of the Roman Empire under Romulus; then the symbol before us must chronologically denote the Roman Empire, from its earliest rise to its final dissolution.
(1.) Accordingly, the construction of the symbol itself imperiously requires this arrangement; and
absolutely forbids us to fix the emergence of the ten-horned beast to the commencement of the latter 1260 years, though the present vision treats of his exploits only during the lapse of that period. : The configuration of the symbol, compounded as it is of the Babylonian lion and the Medo-Persian bear and the Macedonian leopard, demonstrates it to represent the Roman Empire as extending to its utmost limits. But the Empire had attained those limits considerably before the commencement of the latter 1260 years. Therefore the emergence, beheld by St. John, must plainly be anterior to the commencement of that period.
Nor is this the only proof of the point in question. The ten-horned wild-beast of the Apocalypse is declared to have seven heads : and the interpreting angel assures St. John, that, at the time when the Apostle flourished, five of those heads had already fallen, and that one was then in actual existence. Hence it is clear, that the wild-beast must have emerged from the sea long before the birth of St. John, and consequently much more long before the commencement of the latter 1260 years.
(2.) The very reason, indeed, of the thing is abundantly sufficient to decide the matter.
If the ten-horned beast of the Apocalypse be the Roman Empire, as all are agreed, it is utterly im. possible to shew, how that Empire, with all its seven successive heads and with all its ten contem
poraneous horns, could have emerged from the great allegorical sea of bloodshed and violence at the commencement of the latter 1260 years. The parallel vision of Daniel unequivocally teaches us, what we are to understand by the emergence of the Roman beast from the sea: no one ever doubted, that by that emergence was meant the rise of the Roman Empire. Clearly, then, the emergence beheld by St. John, which by no ingenuity can be made to synchronise with the commencement of the latter 1260 years, must be the very emergence beheld by Daniel. But, in that case, St. John, like Daniel, will have hieroglyphically beheld the rise of the Roman Empire under Romulus : and, consequently, the symbol, which he employs, will represent the Roman Empire from first to last; though, in the present vision, he treats only of its exploits during the latter 1260 years and on the platform of its western division.
(3.) The common erroneous notion, that the emergence of the wild-beast beheld by St. John is to be placed either at or about the commencement of the 1260 years, seems to have arisen from a vague and hasty assumption, that the emergence in question must have been seen by him prophetically or prospectively. But it is clear, that he could not have seen the rise of the Empire under Romulus prophetically. Whence it was concluded, that the emergence, which he beheld, could not be the long prior rise of the Empire under Romulus; but that it must be some rise of whatever unintelligible nature, which took place at or about the commencement of the 1260 years.
Now the whole of this inconclusive reasoning is obviously built upon the tacit assumption, that nothing save prophetic matter can be introduced into a prophetic vision. Whence it seems to have been hastily argued, that the emergence of the Roman beast which Daniel beheld may justly be deemed the rise of the Empire under Romulus, because Daniel could behold that rise prospectively; but that the emergence of the same Roman beast which St. John beheld cannot justly be deemed the rise of the Empire under Romulus, because St, John could not have beheld that rise prospectively,
I know not, that such an argument has ever been directly propounded : but I suspect, that it tacitly forms the basis of the common opinion relative to the chronological epoch of the emergence beheld by St. John.
Be this, however, as it may, the circumstance of the Apostle's living posterior to the rise of the Roman Empire under Romulus is no reason why he should not retrospectively behold it at the commencement even of a prophetic vision. For what was the case with Daniel ? Did he in truth behold, as many seem to have taken for granted, the rise of the Roman Empire prospectively, when he beheld the emergence of its symbol from the troubled sea ? Nothing of the sort: he beheld it retrospectively, just as I contend that St. John beheld it.