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The account of this fourth empire in Nebuchadnezzar's dream is simply, that it should be as strong as iron, and break in pieces and bruise the three preceding empires ; but that it should afterwards be divided into ten kingdoms, answering to the ten toes of the image, which, like a mixture of clay and iron, should not be equally powerful, but partly strong, and partly weak : that the sovereigns of these different kingdoms should be perpetually contracting matrimonial alliances with each other, but that nevertheless they should not cobere togetber the better on that account;* for, although one or two of the kingdoms might be thus united together under a single government, 1 yet that the principle of adhesion should be so completely destroyed, that there never should be a fifth universal monarchy like the four preceding ones : on the contrary, that the only fifth empire should be of a spirituai nature, which was to break in pieces and consume all the other kingdoms, and stand, itself, for ever.
To see how exactly the whole of this prophecy has been accomplished, excepting the last particular which is still future, we need only read the modern history of Europe.
The account of the fourth empire, in the second prophecy of Daniel, varies from that, in the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, only by the introduction of another power, not mentioned before among the ten sovereigns, which is termed a little horn. The description given of this eleventh power is, that it came up among the other ten horns : that three of the first horns were plucked up before it : that it had eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things : that its look was more stout than its fellows : and that it “made war upon the saints, and prevailed against them, until the Ancient of days came,
" Whereas thou sawest iron mingled with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men : but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.” (Dan. ii. 43.) The interpretation of this passage, which I have adopted, seems to me by much the most simple and natural. (See Bp. Newton's Dissert. in loc.)
+ The empire of Charlemagne forms a seeming exception to this statement : but, as we shall hereafter see, tbat empire is predicted under the symbol of the last bead of the great Roman beast, a bead that should be commensurate with the wbole beast. After the death of Charlemagne, his vast dominions soon fell asunder, and the Roman empire again returned to its divided state.
and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High, and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom." Upon Daniel's inquiring the meaning of this symbol, he is informed by the interpreting angel, that it represents a power, which was to rise up behind the ten kings, and was to subdue or depress three of them : that it was, in some respect or another, to be different from all the rest of the kings : that it was to speak great words by the side of the Most High: that it was to wear out or persecute the saints of the Most High: that it was to change times and laws : and that it was to continue in the possession of a tyrannical authority until a time, and times, and the dividing of time, or three prophetic years and a half ; in other words, till the commencement of the time of the end, which ushers in the reign of the saints or the apocalyptic millennium : for, since the little horn was to prevail both to the beginning of this reign of the suints, and to the end of the three years and a half, it is manifest, that, when the three years and a half end, the reign of the saints will be about beginning.* Exactly at the same time, the Roman beast, or the fourth great empire, from among whose ten horns the little horn was to arise, will be slain ; and that on account of the sin which he has contracted by tolerating and sanctioning the great words spoken by his little horn :f for the Roman beast in his revived state, and his little tyrannical horn, are each to continue in power during the very same period of three years and a half or 42 months ; consequently they are to begin and end their career together.
At the termination then of this period, the fourth beast and his little horn will be utterly destroyed, and given to the burning flame ; and the triumphant reign of Christ, or the kingdom of the mountain, will commence.l But the three other beasts, namely the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, and the Macedonian, which were all idolatrous beasts as contradistinguished from an apostatically idolatrous one, although their dominion or their power of oppressing the Church be taken away, will have their lves or idolatrous principles prolonged for a season and a time: that is, prolonged, after the utter destruction of the revived fourth beast and his apostatical principles, and consequently during the reign of the saints ; which, as we have seen, is to commence at the death of the fourth beast.
* Compare Dan. vii-21, 22 with Ver. 25, 26.
+ “I beheld then, because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake ; I beheld, even till the beast was slain.” Dan, vii. 11.
| This revived state of tbe Roman beast is expressly mentioned by St. John, though not particularly noticed by Daniel. (See Rev. xiii. 1. and xvii-8, 11.) The subject of his revival will be resumed hereafter.
S Dan. vii. 25- Rev. xiii. 5.
If I may here repeat, what I have already observed, that, after the expiration of the 1260 gears, God's controversy with the nations, in the course of which the beast
The lives however of the three beasts are only to be prolonged for a season. Unreclaimed by the glorious manifestations of God in favour of his millennian Church, they will still persevere in their idolatry; and, at the close of the thousand years, will arrive at such a pitch of daring impiety, as to make an open attack even upon the beloved city. But fire from the Lord will consume them; and the Church of Christ will be finally translated from earth to heaven.
No doubt has been entertained by most commentators upon the prophecies, that Daniel's fourth beast is the Roman empire ;t nor by most protestant commentators, that the ten horns of the beast are the ten independent kingdoms into which that empire was finally divided. But there has not been quite the same unity of opinion, at least not of late, respecting either the character of the little horn, or the three kings whom it was to subdue. and his little born will be destroyed, will occupy a period of at least 30 years : consequently, in absolute strictness of speech, they will not be destroyed precisely at the end of the 1260 years ; but only the judgments of God will then begin to go forth against them.
• Compare Dan. vii. 13. with Rev. IX. Both St. John and Ezekiel agree in calling the nations, which will continue unreclaimed during the Millennium, Gog and Magog. See Ezek. xxxvü. and xxxix.
+" All ancient writers, both Jewish and Christian, agree with Jerome in explaining the fourth kingdom to be the Roman. Porphyry, who was a heathen, was the first who broached the other opinion ; which, though it hath been maintained since by some of the moderns, is yet not only destitute of the authority, but is even contrary to the authority, of both scripture and history. It is a just observation of Mr. Mede, who was as able and consummate a judge as any of these matters : The Roman empire to be the fourth kingdom of Daniel, was believed by the Church of Israel both bea fore and in our Saviour's time ; received by the disciples of the Apostles, and the whole Cbristian Cburcb, for the first 300 years, without any known contradiction. And I confess, baving so good ground in Scripture, it is with me tantum non articulus fidci, little less tban an artiche of faith.” Bp. Newton's Dissert. in loc.
Mr. Kett supposes, that the history of the little horn of the fourth beust is “ an epitome of the whole history of Antichrist ;'** who, according to his scheme, is a triple monster, compounded of Popery, Mohammedism, and Infidelity.† Hence he conjectures, that the little horn of the he-gouti is nearly allied to the little horn of the fourth beast, and in some measure even the same: for, as the eastern little horn is upon his plan primarily Mohammedism, and ultimately Infidelity : so the western little horn is primarily Popery, and ultimately Infidelity likewise. Nay it is even more : for, if I rightly understand Mr. Kett, it is also to include Mohammedism : inasmuch as Daniel's account of it " is to be considered as an epitome of the whole history of Antichrist,” that is, of Antichrist in every one of the three forms which Mr. Kett ascribes to him. “In the main points of opposition to Christ,” says he, "and of persecution of his servants, ull the branches of Antichrist must necessarily agree ; but the marks, which distinguish these confederate powers from each other, appear to me very strongly discriminated in these different visions of Daniel. All foretell the power of Antichrist, and contain allusions perhaps to all the different forms of that power : but each vision seems to describe one of these forms with peculiar distinctness, while it points to some circumstances which strongly characterize that power, which was to arise the last ; and, if we rightly conjecture, will prevail the most, and which are not easily appropriated to either of the other. The symbol of a little horn is applicable to Antichrist in the beginnings of all its forms, Papal, Mohammedan, and Infidel
. The power of Antichrist is still the little horn : but, as exerted in Greece and the East,
* Hist. the Interp. Vol. 1. p. 340. + Ibid. p. 309. Dan. viii. 9. § I have not been able clearly to discover, which of the three visions Mr. Kett supposes to describe with peculiar distinctness the infidel Antichrist. According to his plan, the little born of the fourth beast is primarily tbe Papacy, secondarily Mobammedism, and ultimately Infidelity : (Hist. the Inter. of Proph. Vol. 1. p. 378 et infra) the little born of the be-goat or the third beast is primarily Mohammedism, and ultimately Infidelity : (Ibid. p. 355 et infra) and tbe king, predicted in Daniel's last vision, is both the Papacy, in which case his antagonists, the king of the South, and the king of the North, are the Saracens and tbe Turks : (Ibid. p. 368.) and he is likewise a double type of Antichrist. (Ibid.) In tbe table of contents indeed prefixed to his second volume, he speaks of the little born of the fourth beast as being solely the infidel power ; but the table itself by no means quadrates with the contents of either volume,
it is described as the little horn of the he-goat or the third empire, and this even to the present hour ; for the seat of the Mohammedan empire is Grecia, or what was called the Greek empire. As exerted in Italy and the West, it is described as the little horn of the fourth beast, or the fourth empire. But it is remarkable, that in those predictions, which the angel expressly declares will be accomplished towards the end of the appointed time, this distinction of East and West seems to be lost, both in this of the Ram and the He-Goat, and in the following vision, (which I conceive intended particularly to describe the Mohammedan and Papal powers,) and Antichrist appears with all the subtlety and fury and universally extended tyranny, with which we find him delineated in the Revelation under the symbol of the second beast, and which corresponds with the little horn in the vision of the four beasts, which is to be considered as an epitome of the whole history of Antichrist.* And this circumstance, I apprehend, intimates the general apostacy and persecution which is to take place under the infidel power, which was to succeed the violence of the two former, and be an instrument of punishment to their adherents, and of trial to the church of Christ.”+
What the three horns or kingdoms are which the prophet beheld plucked up before the little horn, Mr. Kett does not himself attempt to decide ; but, agreeably to his supposition, that this little horn is a symbol of Antichrist in all his three forms, he seems to think that every one of these three forms will respectively depress three kingdoms. "When we considered the vision of the beasts, and the little horn which rose among or after the ten horns, it was observed, that this vision probably contained a description of the whole of Antichrist. The distinct pictures, which we have since seen of the Mohammedan and papal forms of this power, appear to confirm this idea. “And, when we reflect upon the superior solemnity of the conclusion of this first vision, it will, I
Mr. Kett means, that the little born, not the vision of the four beasts, is the epitome of the whole history of Antichrist. “This account of the little born," says he, “I consider as an epitome of the whole history of Antichrist,” Vel. 1. p. 340.
+ Hist. the Interp. of Proph. Vol. 1. p. 347.