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Daniel saw his vision of the four great beasts about the year before Christ 555 : but Rome was founded, according to Varro, in the year before Christ 753; or, according to Fabius Pictor, in the year before Christ 748 ; or, even according to Sir Isaac New. ton's reduced analogical computation of the reigns of the seven Roman kings, about the year before Christ 627. Hence, whatever may be the true era of Rome's foundation, Daniel, if we reckon from the time when he saw the vision of the four beasts, must have beheld the rise of the Roman beast retrospectively, though he viewed his exploits during the latter 1260 years prospectively. But, if the circumstance of retrospectiveness be no solid reason, why the emergence of the ten-horned beast, as beheld by Daniel, should not denote the rise of the Roman Empire under Romulus: then neither can it be any solid reason, why the emergence of the same ten-horned beast, as beheld by St. John, should not equally denote the first rise of the same Empire. In truth, this retrospection, though in absolute strictness it forms no part of the present prophetic vision, was plainly required by historical decorum : for the narrative of the Apostle were in. complete and defective, if so important a symbol had been brought upon the stage without the least intimation whence it originated.
The Roman beast does, indeed, rise a second time from the abyss or from the sea under his eighth king, who is one of his preceding seven kings: but this second rise, which takes place after his political extinction by the mortal wound' inflicted upon his seventh head, is very clearly distinguished from the rise, which St. John beheld at the commencement of the present vision. For the second rise succeeds the death of the short-lived seventh head, and immediately precedes the final destruction of the beast: whereas the rise, which St. John beheld at the commencement of the prešent vision, precedes the whole period of the 42 prophetic months, and is therefore many ages prior to his final irremediable destruction 1
III. Having now shewn that the ten-horned wild-beast of the Apocalypse is the Roman Empire in its greatest geographical extent and in its entire chronological duration, I proceed to consider the seven heads by which the portent is so conspicuously distinguished.
1. In the symbol itself, the Apostle beholds all the seven heads existing together; nor perhaps was it possible for the hieroglyphic to be any other wise constructed: but, from the verbal interpretation of it, we learn, that, although the seven forms of supreme government, represented by the seven heads, may, after a certain manner, have been partially synchronical ; yet, from their respective chronological rise to their respective chronological fall, they were not perfectly so: for, in the time of St. John, five had already fallen, one was then in actual existence, and another was still future.
Compare Rev. xvii. 8, 11, with xiii. 1, 5.
On this point, it will be necessary to acquire some clear ideas : because, otherwise, in consequence of the many political variations which occurred in the frame of the Roman Commonwealth, we shall find it difficult to make out a statement altogether satisfactory
By any given nation any particular form of government may be adopted. Now that particular form may be succeeded by another form, without the first form itself becoming absolutely extinct; because, at any future period, the first form may be readopted; and it may thus take place of the form, which had previously taken place of it. But, if the first form be so followed by another form, that it never is readopted : then, of course, it becomes absolutely extinct; or, in the language of prophecy, then it is irrecoverably fallen.
According to the first supposition, then, a form of government is not extinguished by the mere circumstance of its being for a season laid aside. In such a case, it only remains in abeyance, or lies in a dormant state of temporary quiescence. Consequently, under this aspect, two or more forms of government may be viewed as existing synchronically; though one only, at once, can be in a state of active operation.
But, when, according to the second supposition, a form falls to rise no more; then it ceases to exist synchronically with the dominant or active form, even in a state of temporary quiescence. Agreeably to such principles, if a bestial symbol
be constructed to represent this condition of affairs, we may suppose, that one head of the animal, thus hieroglyphically employed, will appear to be awake, while certain other heads will seem to be asleep: and we may further suppose, still on the same principles, that, after sundry vicissitudes of activity and quiescence, this head and that head will appear to sink into a state of absolute death; until at length, to a spectator at some given period, three or four or five of the heads will appear to be hanging down irrecoverably dead or extinct.
Such being the case, if the symbol were constructed with seven heads for the purpose of representing an Empire which had subsisted or which might subsist under seven different forms of go. vernment, it is obvious, that, when all the heads should have fallen into a state of death, the Empire itself must be viewed as politically extinct : for; otherwise, the symbol would exhibit the strange zoological anomaly of an animal continuing to live, though all its heads were dead and insensible.
This view of the matter will be found perfectly applicable to the Roman Empire, as exhibited to us under the symbol of a wild-beast with seven heads.
The Consulate might be succeeded by the Dictatorship; and the Dietatorship, by the Consulate: the Decemvirate and the Military Tribuneship might respectively occupy the place of the Consulate; and the Consulate, awaking from its temporary quiescence, might again become the ruling head of the Commonwealth : but no one of those heads can be deemed extinct, until it had finally and irrevocably fallen. Now the Apostle informs us, that, in his day, precisely five out of the seven heads had thus irrevocably fallen or had thus become finally extinct. Two only, therefore, could have appeared to him alive at the epoch when he beheld the symbol: the one, awake, and actually ruling; the other, asleep, not having as yet by the lapse of time been brought into a state of dominant activity. Time, however, rolls on : and the ruling head of his day irrecoverably falls in its turn. No head now remains alive, save the seventh ; which forthwith awakes or rises up to a condition of active dominance. But this last head, which is to continue only a short space, instead of falling into simple extinction or instead of dying what we may call a natural death, is violently slain by a stroke of the sword. What, then, is the result of such a catastrophè? Clearly, all the seven heads being now daed, the wild-beast himself must die : or the Empire, represented by the wild-beast, must sink, having no longer a supreme dominant government, into a state of political non-entity.
Accordingly we find, that this death, or (as the interpreting angel literally terms it) this state of political non-existence, is distinctly mentioned and announced in the prophecy : but, at the same time, the revival or the political reëxistence of the Empire is no less distinctly foretold; and that circumstance is foretold, we may observe, exactly on the