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1. The FIRST, I shall mention, is, That we are to look for Antichrist within the proper limits of the Roman empire.
On this head, there is no controversy among those who acknowledge the authority of the prophet Daniel, and can be none : For that prophet, in his famous vision of the four kingdoms, says expressly, that, among the ten kingdoms into which the fourth, or Roman, shall be divided, ANOTHER shall arise ;* that is, as all interpreters agree, the kingdom of Antichrist. So that this
whatever it be, must have its birth and seat within the compass of the ten kingdoms, that is, of the Roman empire, when, in some future time from the giving of Daniel's prophecy, it should be so divided.
But, to fix the station of the antichristian pow. er more precisely, it is to be observed, that, as the four kingdoms of Daniel, considered in succession to each other, form a prophetic chronology ;t so in another view, they form a prophetic geography,
Dan. vii, 7, 8.— I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast-had ten horns. I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another little horn-Compare with ver. 24 The ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings (or kingdoms) that shall arise : and another shall arise after them.
+ Mede p. 712.
& Sir Isaac Newton p. 31.
being considered, in the eye of prophecy, as co-existent, as still alive, and subsisting together, when the dominion of all, but the last, was taken away.*
In consequence of this idea, which Daniel gives us of his four kingdoms, so much only is to be reckoned into the description of each kingdom, as is peculiar to each; the remainder being part of some other kingdom, still supposed to be in being, to which it properly belongs. Thus, the second, or Persian kingdom, does not take in the nations of Chaldea and Assyria, which make the body of the first kingdom; nor the THIRD, or Grecian kingdom, the countries of Media and Persia, being the body of the second. In like manner, the FOURTH, or Roman kingdom, does not, in the contemplation of the prophet, comprehend those provinces, which make the body of the third, or. Grecian kingdom, but such only as constitute its own body, that is, the provinces on this side of Greece: where, therefore, we are to look for the eleventh, or antichristian kingdom, as being to start up among the ten, into which the Roman kingdom should be divided.
* Dan. vii. 11, 12.--Concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away : yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.
We see, then, that, as Antichrist was to arise within the Roman kingdom, so his station is farther limited to the European part of that kingdom, or to the western empire, properly so called.
This observation (which is not mine, but Sir Isaac Newton's) is the better worth making, because, in fact, the Papal sovereignty never extended farther than the western provinces; at least, could never gain a firm and permanent footing in the countries, which lie east of the Mediterranean sea. But, whether you admit this interpretation, or not, it is still clear that Antichrist was to arise somewhere within the limits of the Roman empire. In what part of that empire he was to make his appearance, we certainly gather from
II. A SECOND prophetical note or character of this power, which is, That his seat and throne was to be the city of Rome itself.
The prophet Daniel acquaints us only that the power we call antichristian, would spring up from among the ruins of the fourth, or Roman kingdom: But St. John, in the Revelations, fixes his residence in the capital city of that kingdom. For, when, in one of his visions, he had been shewn a portentous beast with seven heads and ten horns, and a woman arrayed in purple, riding upon him, an angel is made to interpret this symbolic vision in the following words—The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sitteth—and the ten horns, which thou sawest, are ten kings—and the woman, which thou sawest, is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth. *
Words cannot be more determinate, than these. The woman, that rides this beast, that is, the fourth empire, in its last state of ten horns, or divided into ten kingdoms, is that antichristian power, of which we are now inquiring. She is seated on seven hills, nay, she is that great city, which reigneth (that is, in St. John's time which reigned] over the kingdoms of the earth. Rome, then, is the throne of Antichrist, or is that city, which shall one day be antichristian. There is no possibility of evading the force of these terms.
It hath been said, that Constantinople, too, was situated on seven hills. It may be so: Butt Constantinople did not, in the time of this vision, reign over the kings of the earth. Besides, if its dominion had not been mentioned, the city on the seven hills is so characteristic of Rome, that the name itself could not have pointed it out more plainly: As must be evident to all those, who recollect, what the Latin writers have said on this subject.
* Rev. xvii. 3, 4, 9, 12, 18.
The--septem domini montes-of one* poet
is well known; and seems the abridgment of a still more famous line in anothert
Septem urbs alta jugis, toto quæ præsidet orbi :
To which, St. John's idea of a woman, seated on seven hills, and reigning over the kings of the earth, so exactly corresponds, that one sees no difference between the poet and the prophet; except that the latter personifies his idea, as the genius of the prophetic style required.
But a passage in Virgil is so much to our purpose, that it merits a peculiar attention. This
poet, in the most finished of his works, had been celebrating the praises of a country life, which he makes the source and origin of the Roman greatness.
Hanc olim veteres vitam coluere Sabini ;
* Martial l.iv. ep. 64.
† Propert. l. iii. ix. 57. # Georg. 1. ii. ver. 532.