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that power alfo was given unto him to continue forty and two months: and the holy city the Gentiles fhould tread under foot forty and two months: and the two witneffes fhould prophefy a thousand two hundred and threefcore days clothed in fackcloth: and the woman, the true church of Christ, who fled into the wilderness from perfecution, should be fed and nourished there a thousand two hundred and threefcore days, or as it is otherwife expreffed in the fame chapter, for a time, and times, and half a time. Now all these numbers you will find upon computation to be the fame, and each of them to fignify 1260 years. For a time is a year, and a time and times and the dividing of time, or half a time, are three years and a half, and three years and a half are 42 months, and 42 months are 1260 days, and 1260 days in the Prophetic style are 1260 years. From all these dates and characters it may fairly be concluded, that the time of the church's great affliction and of the reign of Antichrist will be a period of 1260 years "."
The conjectures concerning the exact date of the commencement of this Antichriftian power are so numerous, that it will be prudent
• Newton, vol. iii. p. 395, 396.
to wait for its end before we form a decided opinion. We have however fufficient ground to conclude pofitively, that from whatever remarkable era these prophetical years are dated, the period of their accomplishment cannot be very remote from the prefent times-Fleming "reckons that the Papal head took its rife from that memorable year 606, when Phocas did in a manner devolve the government of the Weft upon Boniface III. by giving him the title of Supreme and universal Bishop; or in 608, when Boniface IV. did first publicly authorize idolatry, by dedicating the Pantheon to the worship of the Virgin Mary, and all faints; but he does not confider his power as established, till fome years afterwards.-By Steps he hath been raised up, and by steps must he be pulled down."-" In the year 666, the myftical number of the beaft, which Irenæus interpreted to mean the Latin Monarchy, Pope Vitalian did firft ordain that all public worship fhould be in Latin"-In 756, or 758, which was 666 years after St. John saw the vision of the beaft, according to the most probable calculation, Pope Paul I. received the exarchate of Ravenna as a donation from Pepin, King of France, and then was his power fully esta blished.-Bishop Newton confiders the year 727 as the most probable era, for the rife of
this power, as the Pope and people of Rome in that year revolted from the Exarch of Ravenna, and shook off their allegiance to the Greek Emperor; and Sigonius obferves, that in 727 "Rome and the Roman dukedom came from the Greeks to the Roman Pontiff"-The Pope then became a little horn, or fecular prince; but his power was not fully established, till he obtained the exarchate of Ravenna from Pepin, in 756, or 758 P. It is very remarkable, that whether we adopt Fleming's mode of calculation, and date the beginning of the 1260 prophetical years from 758, when all agree that the Papacy was fully established as a temporal, as well as fpiritual power; or whether, with Bishop Newton 4, and according to common calculation, we confider "the beginning of the 1260 years of the reign of Antichrist, is to be dated from the year 727, their end will fall near the year 2000 after Chrift; and
The ingenious explication of the seventh and eighth horn of the Beast given in the Letter from the "Layman”. which I have already noticed, appears to receive confirmation from these opinions refpecting the Rife and Eftablish ment of the Papal Antichrift at different periods of time: and displays in a very striking manner, the accuracy of the Prophecies, and the found principles of interpretation, which have directed thefe excellent Commentators in their purfuit after truth.
• Newton, vol. ii. p. 397.
at the end of the 6000th year of the world, when, according to a very early tradition of Jews and Christians, and even of Heathens, great changes and revolutions are expected both in the natural and in the moral world; and there remaineth, according to the words of the Apostle, a fabbatifm, or holy reft to the people of God."
Thus was the Antichriftian power of the Church of Rome defcribed by Daniel, St. Paul, and St. John, at a time when no fuch power exifted, as it was to be in future and diftant ages, in the rife, progress, and establishent of its temporal and spiritual dominion. They pointed out, in a manner ftrictly corref pondent with the whole series of the history of that Church, its departure from the true faith, its errors, ceremonies, pretended miracles and canonizations of martyrs, the greatness of its authority, and the boundless extent of its dominion: they even marked with more appropriate circumstances, its spirit of intolerance and perfecution, its monaftic establishments, the celibacy of its clergy, its impious affumption of a divine power to grant pardons and abfolutions for fin; the departure of the Protestants from its communion, its gradual decline, and its final destruction.
"If in the days of St. Paul and St. John, there were any footsteps of fuch a fort of Power as this in the world; or if there ever had been any fuch power in the world; or if there was then any appearance or probability, that there ever could be any fuch kind of power in the world; much lefs in the TEMPLE OF Church of God; and if there be not now [or very lately was] fuch a Power actually and conSpicuously exercised in the Christian world; and if any picture of this Power, drawn after the EVENT, can now defcribe it more plainly and exactly, than it was originally described in the words of THESE PROPHECIES; THEN, but NOT TILL THEN, may it with fome degree of plaufibleness be fuggefted by an Atheist or a Deift, that these Prophecies are nothing more than enthusiastic imaginations *.
Clarke's Evidences of Natural and Revealed Religion, vol. ii. p. 720.