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Chapter 13

 

Two inquiries concerning the latter times. —1. What durance they are to be of. —Answer. That the times of the Antichristian state are to last forty-two months, or twelve hundred and sixty days. —That hereby cannot be meant three single years and a half, proved by several particulars. —Inquiry 2, When they begin. Answer. That they take their beginning from the mortal wound of the imperial sovereignty of Rome, or the ruin of the Roman empire. —This proved from the Apocalypse and II Thessalonians 2, whereby :That which letteth,” * the Fathers generally understand the Roman empire. —The same further proved from Daniel 7 that by the little horn is meant Antichrist, or the Man of Sin, (and not Antiochus Epiphanes,) was the judgment of the most ancient fathers.

 

          Concerning these times thus found, we will now further inquire, First, What durance they may be of. Secondly, When they take beginning, and by what mark their beginning may be known.

 

          For the first, we will make no question but these are the selfsame times whereof St. John speaks, telling us that the Church should be in the wilderness a time, times, and half a time; the same with those forty-two months wherein St. John’s restored beast should domineer, and play the selfsame reeks which Daniel’s hornish tyrant doth; the same time with those forty-two months during which the Church is trodden down of the

 

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Gentiles: lastly, the same time with 1260 days during which the witnesses of Christ prophecy in sackcloth. For a time, times, and half a time, or a year, two years, and a half, are forty-two month; and forty-two months make 1260 days.

 

          If, therefore, we can find the continuance and beginning of any of these, we have found the continuance and beginning of them all.

 

          For the duration and length of them, they must imply some definite time, because the Scripture follows that use of speech, and useth no number indefinitely, but those which the use of speech had made such, as 7, 10, 1000. But mixed and compound numbers, as these are, viz., 3 ½, 42, 1260, are neither in the Hebrew, nor, I think, in any other tongue, used indefinitely.

 

          Our adversaries would have them literally understood for three single years and a half, as though it were an history and not a prophecy. But, besides the use of prophecy to reckon days for years, I think it would trouble any man to conceive how so many things as should be performed in this time, should be done in three single years and a half. 1. Ten kingdoms founded at the same time with the beast. 2. People, and multitudes of nations and tongues to serve and obey him. 3. To make war with the saints and overcome them. 4. To cause all that dwell upon the earth to worship him. 5. Babylon to ride the beast so long that all nations shall drink of the wine of her fornication, all the kings of the earth commit fornication with her,

 

 

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yea, the merchants and all those that had ships in the sea to grow rich by trading with her. Methinks all these things should ask much more than three years’ work, or four either. To which I add, moreover, that that king, state of government, sovereignty, or seigniory, or what you will, of the beast, under which the whore should ride him, followeth immediately upon a former, which in comparison is said to continue but a short space. Revelation 17: 10. But if the Antichristian state shall continue but three years and a half, literally taken, how short must the time of that foregoing king or sovereignty be, which should occasion the Holy Ghost to insert so singular a note of the difference thereof from that which followed, that it should continue but a short space? Doth not this imply that the next state (wherein the whore should ride the beast) was to continue a long space? Therefore, three years and a half, historically taken, cannot be the time of the Church’s apostasy, and the Antichristian sovereignty of Rome; and if it cannot be taken historically, it must be taken prophetically, every day for a year; and so 1260 days, counted so many years, shows the extent of these Latter Times to be 1260 years.

 

          Now for the second thing proposed, the beginning of these Latter Times; St. John tells us in the Revelation, that his blasphemous beast of forty-two months’ continuance should succeed upon the mortal wound of the Cæsarean or imperial sovereignty of Rome; and Revelation 17: 12, 13, the idolatrous beast which carries the great

 

 

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whore upon his back, should have a plurality of kings start up at the same time with him, who should agree to submit their power and kingdom unto him. And would not he also in the same chapter have us to take notice, that the Antichristian state of the beast which was to come should be the next to that of the Cæsars which then reigned? For the angel there tells him, that the state of the beast wherein the whore should ride him, which then was not in being, but should afterwards ascend out of the bottomless pit and go into perdition, that this state or head of the beast should succeed so immediately upon the sixth state or head, (viz., the Cæsarean then reigning) that howsoever for some respect it might be called an eighth, yet should it in very deed be but the seventh. For how could it be otherwise, when the beast in the vision had but seven heads and no more? —See verses 8, 10, and 11.

 

          Agreeable to this is St. Paul’s epoch, II Thessalonians 2: 7, who tells us, that as soon as the imperial sovereignty of Rome, which then hindered, should be taken out of the way, then should that wicked one be revealed. Thus the Fathers generally expound it. Hence was that custom in the Church, in the most ancient times of it, to pray in their liturgy for the lasting of the Roman Empire; that so Antichrist might be long a-coming. —Tertul. Apol. cap. 32 and 39. Ad. Scap. cap. 2. Upon this ground St. Jerome, when he heard of the taking of Rome by Alaric, the Goth, presently expected the coming of

 

 

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Antichrist. “He who hindered is taken out of the way; and we consider not that Antichrist is at hand.”* —The same in his preface, lib. 8. Comment. in Ezek. “My mind is refreshed, and for the present forgets the woeful calamities that this last age labors with, groaning and travailing in pain, till he who hinders, be taken out of the way, and the feet of the iron statue be broken to pieces by reason of the brittleness of the clay toes. The world goes to ruin, and yet the haughty neck does not bend, &c.” Thus he, “after that the most glorious light in all the world was put out, and the head of the Roman empire was cut off, and so the whole world was destroyed in the destruction of that one city,” —as he elsewhere deplores that woeful calamity, Pref. in lib. 1, Comment. in Ezek.

 

Answerable to that which St. John told us, Daniel’s calendar also informs us, that the hornish tyrant who was to act the Latter Times should then begin to appear, when ten kings should arise in the fourth kingdom. For the ten horns which at the last he espied upon the beast’s head,

 

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and observed a little horn with eyes and a mouth to spring up amongst them, and displant three of them; (chapter 7: 8,) the angel (verse 240 expounds to be ten kings which should arise out of that kingdom, and another (to whit, Antichrist) should arise behind them (so it should be translated as the Septuagint doth*) which should be diverse from the first, (that is, a king of another nature,) and should bring down or humble three kings, and play those reeks which follow in the text. Thus the Fathers universally, and from the utmost antiquity, expound this Scripture. Justin Martyr, Dialog. cum Tryphone, takes it as granted that this Horn is that Man of apostasy, “that would attempt all the mischief imaginable against us Christians.” Irenæus, scholar to Polycarp, l. 5, c. 21, aliis 25, saith The prophet Daniel, eyeing the end of the fourth or last kingdom, that is, those ten kings into whom their kingdom should be divided, and upon whom the Son of perdition should come, [viz. the Little Horn that should domineer and overtop them] saith (chapter 7) that the beast had ten horns growing out of his head, and that there came up among them another little horn, and that before this horn three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots. § Yea, a little

 

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after, he tells us that St. John, in his ten kings which should receive their kingdoms at one hour with the beast, expounds this of Daniel. “What was before prophesied concerning the last times, and the ten kings therein amongst whom the empire that now reigns should be divided, John, the disciple of our Lord, hath more clearly expressed in his Apocalypse, where he tells us what those ten horns were which Daniel saw, viz., Ten kings, which had received no kingdom as yet, but were to receive power as kings one hour with the Beast,” chapter 17: 12. * Nay, St. Jerome, in his Comment upon this seventh chapter of Daniel, will give us to understand that all the ecclesiastical writers delivered this to be the true exposition: for, having there confuted Porphyry, who, to derogate from the divinity of this prophecy, would have it meant of Antiochus Epiphanes, and therefore written when the event was past, he concludeth thus: “Let us therefore affirm, agreeably to the concurrent judgment of all ecclesiastical writers, that in the consummation of the world, when the Roman Empire is to be destroyed, there shall arise ten kings, who shall share the Roman world among themselves, and that an eleventh king (the little horn in Daniel 7) shall arise, who shall subdue three of those ten kings; in which little tyrant Satan shall

 

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dwell entirely and bodily.” * Who these three kings were which this horn displanted to make himself elbow-room, you shall hear more anon. But I will not conceal that I have heard of another exposition, which fits our turn for the beginning of the apostasy no less than that of the Fathers: namely, that by ten kingdoms may be meant the full plurality of the Roman provinces, so much whereof as three is of ten should have the imperial power rooted out of them, and fall under the dominion of the Antichristian Horn, who should act the sovereignty of the Latter Times, or the last sovereignty of that kingdom. Now it is most true that the Pope’s patriarchdom in the west holds just that scantling of the ancient territory of the Roman Empire, which a man may judge by his eyes or compasses in a map: and yet I prefer the other exposition before it.

 

          To come to an issue: it is apparent, by all that hath been said, that these Latter Times, with that wicked sovereignty which should domineer in them, were to take beginning from the wound, the fall, the ruin, the rending in pieces or rooting-up, of the imperial sovereignty of the city of Rome. When that city should cease to be the lap of that sovereignty which the

 

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Cæsars once held over the nations, and many new upstart kings should appear in the place and territory of that once-one empire; then should the apostasy be seen, and the Latter Times, with that Wicked One, make their entrance. Now in what age this fell out, I think no man can be ignorant, who hath but a little skill in history.

 

 

 

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