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17th chapter, as full of names of blasphemy, and of a bloody colour, denoting his cruelty in persecuting the christian church, For Constantine, instead of this, was a member of the christian church, set by God in the most eminent station in his church; and was honoured, above all other princes that ever had been in the world, as the great protector of his church, and her deliverer from the persecuting power of that cruel scarletcoloured beast. Mr. Lowman himself styles him “a christian prince, and protector of the christian religion.” God is very careful not to reckon his own people among the Gentiles, the visible subjects of Satan, Numb. xxiii. 9. " The people shall not be reckoned among the nations.” If they happen to be among them, he will be careful to set a mark upon them, as a note of distinction; Rev. vii. 3, &c. when God is reckoning up his own people, he leaves out those that have been noted for idolatry. As among the tribes that
were sealed, Rev. viii, those idolatrous tribes of Ephraim and Dan are left out, and in the genealogy of Christ, Matt. i. those princes that were chiefly noted for idolatry, are left out. Much more would God be careful not to reckon his own people, especially such christian princes as have been the most eminent instruments of overthrowing idolatry, amongst idolaters; and as members and heads of that kingdom that is noted in scripture as the most notorious and infamous of all, for abominable idolatry, oppo.. sition and cruelty to the true worshippers of God. And especially not to reckon them as properly belonging to one of those seven heads of this monarchy, of which very heads it is particularly noted that they had on them the names of blasphemy : (Rev. xiii. 1.) which Mr. Lowman himself supposes to signify idolatry.
It was therefore worthy of God, agreeable to his manner, and might well be expected, that when he was reckoning up the several successive heads of this beast, and Constantine and his successors came in the way, and there was occasion to mention them, to set a mark, or note of distinction on them, signifying that they did not properly belong to the beast, nor were to be reckoned as belonging to the heads; and therefore are to be skipped over in the reckoning; and antichrist, though the eighth head of the Roman empire, is to be reckoned the seventh head of the beast. This appears to me abundantly the most just and natural interpretation of Rev. xvii. 10, il. It is reasonable to suppose, that God would take care to make such a note in this prophetical description of this dreadful beast, and not by any means to reckon Constantine as belonging properly to him. If we reckon Constantine as a member of this beast having seven heads and ten horns, described chap. xvii. and as properly one of his heads, then he was also properly a member of the great red dragon
with seven heads and ten horns, that warred with the woman, chap. xii.—For the seven heads and ten horns of that dragon, are plainly the same with the seven heads and ten horns of the beast. So that this makes Constantine a visible member of the devil; for we are told expressly of that dragon, ver. 9, that he was " that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan." And to suppose that Constantine is reckoned as belonging to one of the heads of that dragon, is to make these prophecies inconsistent with themselves. For in the 12th chapter, we have represented a war between the dragon and the woman clothed with the sun ; which woman, as all agree, is the church; but Constantine, as all do also agree, belonged to the woman, was a member of the christian church, and was on that side in the war against the dragon ; yea, was the main instrument of that great victory obtained over the dragon, (ver. 9–12.) What an inconsistency therefore is it, to suppose that he was at the same time a member and head of that very dragon, which fought with the woman, and yet which Constantine himself fought with, overcame, and gloriously triumphed over? It is not therefore to be wondered at, that God was careful to distinguish Constantine from the proper heads of the beast: it would have been a wonder if he had not. God seems to have been careful to distinguish him, not only in his word, but in his Providence, by so ordering it that this christian emperor should be'removed from Rome, the city which God had given up to the seat of the power of the beast and of its heads, and that he should have the seat of his empire elsewhere.
Constantine was the instrument of giving a mortal wound to the heathen Roman empire ; and giving it a mortal wound in its head, viz. the heathen emperors then reigning, Maxentius and Licinius. But more eminently was this glorious change in the empire owing to the power of God's word, the prevalence of the glorious gospel, by which Constantine himself was converted, and so became ihe instrument of the overthrow of the heathen empire in the cast and west. The change that was then brought to pass, is represented as the destruction of the heathen empire, or the old heathen world ; and therefore seems to be compared to that dissolution of heaven and earth that shall be at the day of judgment. (Rev. vi. 12, &c.) And therefore well might the heathen empire under the head which was then reigning, be represented as wounded to death, (chap. xiii. 3.) It is much more likely, that the wound the beast had by a sword in his head, (ver. 14.) was the wound the heathen empire had in its head by that sword which (chap. i. 16. and xix. 15.) proceeds out of the mouth of Christ, than the wound that was given to the christian empire and emperor by the sword of the heathen Goths. It is most likely that this deadly wound was by that sword with which Michael made war with him, and overcame him, and cast him to the earth, (chap. xii. 9.) and that the deadly wound was given him at that very time. It is most likely, that the sword which gave him this deadly wound, after which he strangely revived, as though he rose from the dead, was the same sword with that which shall at last utterly destroy him, so that he shall never rise more, (chap. xix. 15, 19, 20, 21.) This wounding of the head of the beast by the destruction of the heathen empire and conversion of the emperor to the christian truth, was a glorious event indeed of divine Providence, worthy to be so much spoken of in prophecy. It is natural to suppose, that the mortal wounding of the head of that savage cruel beast, represented as constantly at war with the woman, and persecuting the church of Christ, should be some relief to the christian church; but on the contrary, that wounding to death, that Mr. LOWMAN speaks of, was the victory of the enemies of the christian church over her, and the wound received from them.
It is said of that head of the empire that shall be next after the sixth head, and next before antichrist, and that is not reckoned as properly one of the number of the heads of the beast, that “when it comes, it shall continue a short space," chap. xvii. 10. By which we may understand, at least, that it shall be one of the shortest, in its continuance, of the successive heads. But the government seated at Ravenna, in the hands of the Goths, or of the deputies of the Greek emperors, (which Mr. LOWMAN supposes to be meant by the head, continued, as Mr. LOWMAN himself takes notice, very near three hundred years. And if so, its continuance was one of the longest of the heads mentioned.
Besides, if the government Rome was under, from the time that Augustulus abdicated to the time when the Pope was con. firmed in his temporal dominion, was meant by the seventh head that was to be between the imperial head and the papal, there would doubtless have been two different heads mentioned, instead of one, between the Emperor and the Pope; viz. First, the Gothic princes, who reigned near one hundred years. Secondly, the Exarchs of Ravenna, who governed for about one hundred and eighty-five years. The Gothic kingdom was much more properly a distinct government from the Imperial, than the Exarchate of Ravenna. For during the Exarchate, Rome was under the government of the Emperor, as much as it was in Constantine's time.
In Rev. xvii. 12, it is said, the “ ten horns are ten kings, which are to receive power as kings one hour with the beast," or (as Mr. LOWMAN says it ought to have been translated) "the same hour or point of time with the beast." This will not allow the time when antichrist first receives power as king, to be so late as Mr. LOWMAN supposes.
This division of the empire into many kingdoms, denoted by the number ten, was about the year four hundred and fifty-six, after Genesericus had taken the city of Rome: but Mr. Lowman places the beginning of the reign of antichrist in the year seven hundred and fifty-six, which is three hundred years later. I know, such an expression as in one hour, or the same hour, may allow_of some latitude: but surely not such a latitude as this. This is a much longer time, than it was from the time of the vision to Constantine; much longer than the space of all the first six seals; longer than it was from Christ's ascension to Constantine; and near as long as thetime of all the reigns of the heathen Emperors put together, from Augustus Cæsar to Constantine. An hour is every where else in this book, used to signify a very short time : as may be seen in places cited in the margin* And the expression, The same hour, every where else in the bible, intends near the same point of timet. The phrase one hour is used several times in the next chapter, speaking of the downfall of antichrist :f and in each evidently ignifies a very short space of time. And there is no reason why we should not understand the same phrase in the same sense, when used here concerning the rise of antichrist.ş
* Rev. xviii. 10, 17, 19. Chap. iii. 3—iii. 10.-viü. 1.-ix. 15.-xiv. 7.
| Dan. jji. 6.- iv. 33.-v.5. Matth. viii. 13. x. 19. Luke vii. 21-xii. 12.19.—xxiv. 33. John iv. 53. Acts xvi. 18, 33.—xxii. 13. Rev, si, 13 Ver. 10,
$ Mr. LOWMAN greatly insists upon it, that what is spoken as continuing one thousand two hundred and sixty days, is not so much any spiritual authority or ecclesiastical power of the Pope over the nations of Christendom, as his temporal government and dominion in that individual city of Rome; and therefore to determine when these one thousand two hundred and sixty days or years began, and when they will end, we must consider when the Pope first received this his temporal power over the city of Rome, and the neighbouring regions, called St. Peter's patrimony. But I can see no good reason for this. Indeed it is strange if it be so. God has been pleased in the revelations and prophecies, which he has given for the benefit of his church in general, to speak much concerning an antichristian power that should persecute the saints, and scalter the power of the holy people, and be an occasion of great affliction lo the church of Christ; and has declared often, that his dominion shall continue so long, and no longer; and for the comfort of his church in general, Christ hath sworn with great solemnity, that the continuance of this persecuting power shall be limited; Dan. xii 7 Now it would be strange, if in all this the thing principally intended is not that dominion of this antichristian power which chiefly concerns the church of Christ in general, bat merely his temporal dominion over one province in Italy, called St. Peter's palrimony. Doubtless, that dominion of antichrist which the prophecies describe, is the dominion whose duration and limits those prophecies declare. But the dominion of antichrist which the prophecies describe, is not any dominion over a particular province in Italy, but the dominion by which he succeeds the four great monarchies of the world; (Dan vii.) the dominion by which he succeeds the dragon in his power, throne and great authority : (Rev. xii. 2.) the dominion in which he has power given him over all kindreds, tong and nations ; (ver. 7.) the dominion by which the great whore sits on many waters ; (chap. xvii. 1.) which the angel explains to be peoples and multitudes and nations and longues ; (ver. 15.) and the dominion in which he reigns orer the len kings, into which the Roman empire is
However, I do not deny that the time when Mr. LOWMAN supposes the reign of the beast began, even the time when
divided ; (Rev, xiii 1. and xvä 3, 12, 13) The beast that had ten horns, is not the city of Rome, and the neighbouring region, but the Roman empire ; they are the horns, or the kings, not of the city, but of the empire. If we consider what is expressed in the passages themselves, which speak of the three years and a half of antichrist, they will lead us to understand something very diverse from the duration of his temporal dominion over St. Peter's patrimony. In Dan. vii. 25 the time, times, and half, of the little horn, is expressly the continuance of time wherein it shall be given to him to change times and laws and wear out the saints of the Most High. and in chap. si 7. it is spoken of as the time of his scattering the power of the holy people. In Rev xi. 2. the forty and two months is spoken of as the time of antichrist's treading under foot the court of the temple and the holy city; i. e. the external and visible christian church abroad in the world, or the nations of Christendom. In ver. 3. the one thousand two hundred and sixty days of antichrist are spoken of as the same time of the witnesses prophesying in sackcloth ; and in chap. xii
. 6, and 14, the time of the woman's being in the wilderness, which was through the great power antichrist had over the christian world, and not his small temporal dominion in Italy.
It is true, some regard is had in the prophecies to the city of Rome, the city built on seven hills : which being the fountain of all rule and authority in the Roman monarchy, and the capital city of the empire, from whence the whole empire was denominated, and the place where the head of the empire usually resided, was properly used by the angel, (Rev. xvii. 9. 18.) to shew what empire antichrist should rule over, and what city he should usually reside in. And this is all that can be meant by the words of the angel ; and not that those streets and walls, were ench main and essential things in what the prophecy intended by the beast; that when antichrist's dominion ceases in that place, then the beast ceases. For, if so, then it will follow, that the beast had his head wounded to death a second time, and ceased to be, when the Popes resided at Avignon in France, for the best part of a century; when not only the Popes did not reside in Rome, nor in any part of St. Peter's patrimony, nor any part of Italy; but some of them were neither Romans nor Italians. Though the angel says of the great whore, Rev. xvii. 18. The woman which thou sawest, is the great city which reigns over the kings of the earth : yet by the city, in this case, is not meant so much what was contained within ihose Roman walls, as the Roman empire ; as is evident by chap. xi. 8. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt. Here, by that great city, neither Mr. Lowman himself
, nor I suppose any other Protestant interpreter, understands the city of Rome, strictly speaking, but the Roman monarchy.
And though it be true, as Mr. Lowman observes, the Pope's ecclesiastical monarchy, power and influence through Christendom, was greatly established and advanced by Pepin making him a temporal prince over the Exarchate of Ravenna ; yet, I would ask, whether the Pope's power and influence in the world, and his ability to disturb the quiet of the nations of Christendom, and (as expressed in Daniel,) to change times and laws, and to carry his own designs, in the various countries and kingdoms of Europe, was not greater before Pepin, than it is now, and has been for a long time? And yet Mr. LowMan supposes that now is properly the time of antichrist's reign, that the 1260 years of his reign continues, and will continue for about 270 years longer; though his power be now so small, and has been declining ever since the reformation, and still declines continually.
One thing, Mr. LowMAN supposes, which confirms his opinion of so late a beginning of the 1260 yoars of the reign of the beast, is the order of the several periods of this prophecy, and the manner of their succeeding one another.
As to his particular scheme of the seven periods, so divided and limited, and so obviously ranked in such order, and following one another in such direct and continual succession, and cach ending in a state of peace, safety and happiness to the church of God, it seems to me to be more ingenious than solid, and that many things might be said to demonstrate it not to be founded in the truth of things, and the real design of the divine author of this prophecy. But not to enter into a particular and full examination of it, I would now only observe, which directly concerns my present purpose, that to make out this scheme, Mr. LOWMAN suppo