CHAP. IV. The Conclusion of the first part, with a summary recapitulation of the Argu∣ments before used; together with some occasional Observations tending to the clearing of the Prophecy.
TO conclude. I suppose that it will not be denied by any, but that by the seven Heads or Kings are meant, either seven single Kings, with H. Gro∣tius; or an uncertain number of them, with Bellarmin; or lastly, seven several Orders and successions of supream Go∣vernors, according as hath bin before ex∣plained. Since therefore they cannot be understood either of seven single Kings or of an uncertain number of them: they must be interpreted of seven seve∣ral Page 161Orders or Successions of Supream Governors, which can be no other, than those already named, viz. Kings, Consuls, Decemvirs, Tribunes, Dictators, Heathen Emperors, and Popes. The Chri∣stian Emperors, being that other King, not come in St. John's time, (neither any Head of the Blasphemous Beast) who when he came, was to continue but a short time, in respect either of the preceding, or succeeding King, that is, either of the Heathen Emperors that went before them, or the Popes that followed them.
And thus we have clearly shewn, that all the Marks and Characters of the Beast, which St. John saw the Woman sitting on, (according as the Angel has explained them) are most truly, genu∣inely, properly, and reasonably, without any the least constraint or violence, ap∣plicable to the Roman Bishops, from that time wherein the seventh King, the Roman Christian Emperors, came to be destroyed, and the Empire to be divided into ten Horns or smaller Kingdoms. Page 162It must therefore follow of necessity, that the Popes are that Beast under whose conduct, those Horns were to make War with the Lamb, and the Lamb to overcome them: and that the Woman, or City of Rome, sitting upon the Beast under this seventh Head or King, is that great Whore which St. John saw ver. 4, 5, 6. arraied in Purple, and Scar∣let colour, and decked with Gold and Pre∣cious Stone, and Pearls, having a Golden Cup in her hand, full of abominations and filthiness of her Fornication. And upon her Forehead a Name written, MYSTE∣RY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS, AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And whom he saw also drunken with the blood of the Saints, and with the blood of the Martyrs of Jesus.
And now, I hope, it will not be ex∣pected from me, that I should prove by any other Arguments not contained in this Prophecy, That the Kings have, by the procurement and instigation of the Popes, from time to time, made War Page 163against the Lamb, Christ Jesus; or that the City of Rome under the Govern∣ment of the Popes (since they came to be the last Head or King of the Roman Empire) hath bin the Metropolis of Spi∣ritual Fornication or Idolatry, making the Inhabitants of the Earth drunk with the golden Cup of her abominable Super∣stitions, and her self with the Blood of the Saints, and with the Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus; that is, of such as for the Go∣spel's sake have dar'd at any time to re∣prove and censure her Impieties. No; this was none of my design, but it has bin abundantly perform'd already by all those famous Writers, who from the first appearance of the Romish Superstitions, have opposed themselves against them. And it is manifest to all the World how little favour they have had from Rome, who have at any time bin so hardy as to censure her Religion, and condemn it as Idolatrous.
My business therefore was only this; To search out who this Woman was, and who the Beast that carrieth her, accord∣ing Page 164as the Angel has describ'd them in his Interpretation of the Vision, promi∣sing St. John at ver. 7. that he would tell him the Mystery of the Woman, and of the Beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven Heads and ten Horns. Where∣by, I suppose, is meant, that he would give such a description of them, as should sufficiently distinguish them from all o∣ther Beasts and Women in the World. So that what-ever Woman, and what∣ever Beast can be proved to have all those Marks and Characters appertain∣ing to them, whereby the Angel here describes the Woman and the Beast we speak of, must needs be that Woman and that Beast which St. John saw in such unhappy and amazing circumstances as were represented to him in the Vision.
And whereas the Angel tells us at ver. 14. concerning the ten Horns, That they should make War with the Lamb, and that the Lamb should overcome them; and afterwards, That they should hate the Whore, and make her desolate, &c. If we have plainly shewed from all the Cir∣cumstances Page 165whereby the Angel has de∣scribed these Horns, that such and such Kings and Kingdoms are designed by them; it must follow of necessity, upon supposition of the truth of the Prophe∣cy, That such and such Kings and King∣doms should make War with the Lamb, and that the Lamb should overcome them; and that they should hate the Whore, and make her desolate, &c.
As if any Man pretending to the Spi∣rit of Prophecy, should foretel, That the next Emperour of the Turks, who shall be called by the name of Bajazet, and shall have his Residence at Constan∣tinople, shall be a Christian: if hereafter it shall be evidently demonstrated, that such an Emperour is really and truly that next Emperour of the Turks, that is called by the name of Bajazet, and that he has his Residence at Constantinople, either this Prophecy must be false, or else that Emperour must be a Christian. So, in our present case, The Angel tells us that these ten Kings, whom he had before described, shall make War with Page 166the Lamb, &c. If therefore any Man can plainly shew that all the Marks and Characters whereby the Angel has de∣fined them, do really and truly apper∣tain to such and such Kings; it must likewise follow of necessity either that the Prophecy must be false, or that these Kings, to whom these Marks and Cha∣racters do belong, shall war against the Lamb.
And this was all I intended to demon∣strate, namely, Who this Woman, this Beast, and these Horns or Kings should be, of whom such horrid things are spo∣ken by the Angel, and represented in the Vision to St. John. And if any Man can give a better account of them, no doubt he will perform an acceptable piece of service to the Church of Christ.
But though it be not my business to prove the Roman Church guilty of Ido∣latry, and consequently the Opposers of it, Saints (in the sence of this Pro∣phecy) by any Arguments not contain'd in the Prophecy it self; yet notwith∣standing, to make the proof of it more Page 167easie, (so far as is requisit to the verifi∣cation of this Prophecy) and to put the matter almost out of question, I shall add an Observation, which, it may be, has not bin so generally taken notice of; viz. That the Name of her Idolatry is not said to have bin written in the Wo∣man's Heart, where none but God can see it, but in her Forehead, visible and conspicuous to the Eye of Man. Where∣fore we have nothing more to prove against the Church of Rome for the ve∣rification of this Prophecy, but that her outward act of Worship is Idolatrous. Wherefore we only say, (and I think they cannot easily deny it) that they bow, they kiss, they burn Incense, they kneel before their Images, and in that posture of address, they say their Pray∣ers with their Eyes upon their Images, which to the Eye of the Beholder looks as if they said their Prayers to them. Wherefore as to the outward act, they worship them by these addresses. Nay, they confess they do so; nay, they pro∣claim it, they enact it as a Law, they Page 168curse and persecute the opposers of this Worship.
But they add, They worship them with a relative Worship, that is, they in∣tend the worship of their Images to their Prototypes. But whether they do this or no, God only knows. Yet still this Name is written in their Foreheads, That they are Idolaters. They pray to Saints, to Angels, and especially to the Virgin Mary, as frequently, as devoutly to ap∣pearance, with the same postures of Ad∣dress, and with like forms of Prayer, as they do to God. And here they say a∣gain, they worship them with a relative Worship, not as Gods, but as the Friends of God. And we answer them again in like manner as before, that still this name is written in their Foreheads, That they are Idolaters. So that for all their rela∣tive Worship, and their good Intention, this Prophecy of a Name written in the Woman's Forehead, (Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots, and Abominations of the Earth) may be verified in them. For certainly in ap∣pearance Page 169they are as great Idolaters, and promoters of it, as was ever Babylon her self.
Now therefore I shall draw up my Arguments from what I have, as I con∣ceive sufficiently demonstrated, in this Form that here followeth:
The Woman which St. John saw in this Vision, sitting upon the Beast, was to be the Mother of Spiritual Fornica∣tion or Idolatry, and drunken with the Blood of the Saints, and with the Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus.
But the City of Rome having the So∣veraignty of the Roman Empire under the Government of her Bishops, from such time as that Empire came to be divided into ten Kingdoms, is the Wo∣man which St. John saw in this Vision sitting upon the Beast.
Therefore the City of Rome from that time forward was to be the Mother of Spiritual Fornication, or Idolatry, and drunken with the Blood of the Saints, and with the Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus.Page 170
The Beast which St. John saw the Woman sitting on is the seventh and last Head of the Blasphemous Roman Em∣pire.
But the Bishops of Rome, from such time as that Empire came to be divided into ten Kingdoms, are the seventh and last Head of the Blasphemous Roman Empire.
Therefore, the Bishops of Rome from that time forward, are the Beast which St. John saw the Woman sitting on.
The ten Horns which St. John saw upon this Beast, were to make War with the Lamb, and the Lamb to overcome them, and they afterwards to hate the Whore, and make her desolate, &c.
But those ten Kings (with their Suc∣cessors) who have bin already shewn to have shared the Roman Empire a∣mongst them about the Year 456, are the ten Horns which St. John saw upon this Beast.Page 171
Therefore those ten Kings (with their Successors) were to make War with the Lamb, and the Lamb to overcome them, and they afterwards to hate the Whore, and make her desolate, &c.
I had almost forgot the Interpretati∣on which the Angel gives us of the Wa∣ters upon which St. John saw the Whore sitting, ver. 1. These Waters (saith the Angel, ver. 15.) are Peoples, and Mul∣titudes, and Nations, and Tongues; But the meaning of this is both very obvi∣ous, and as applicable to the City of Rome under the Headship and Supre∣macy of her Bishops, as at any other time. For hereby is only signified, that she should then enjoy a kind of Catho∣lick or Universal Headship, not over any one People, Multitude, Tongue, or Nation, but over very many of them,
Only here it may not be amiss to ob∣serve the Scheme and Constitution of the Vision. For the Roman Empire is here represented to St. John by a Wo∣man situate upon seven Heads or Moun∣tains, (as upon an Island) with the Na∣tions Page 172subject to her Jurisdiction, circum∣fus'd like Waters round about her. By which the two constitutive parts of the Roman World, like those of this where∣in we live, are Earth and Water: the Woman dwelling on the one, and her subjects on the other. Which Obser∣vation will be of great use to us here∣after, in the explicating of the xiith and xiiith Chapters, where I must remind the Reader of it.
And now as I have very studiously inquired into the meaning of this My∣stery: So I hope it will not give offence to any Man, that I have thus plainly o∣pened to the World, what hath bin the result of my enquiry. However I a• well satisfied within my own self, that I have done it with an upright Consci∣ence, not out of a desire of Contention, and to aggravate the Differences be∣tween Ʋs and Rome, which are b• too irreconcilable already; but of pro∣moting the Glory of God, and the Sal∣vation of Men's Souls. For I confessi•• have taken but little pleasure in this dis∣quisition, Page 173save only that of finding out the Truth, (as I suppose) and of im∣parting it to others.
And yet, if after all my Labour, it shall be evidently proved that I have erred in the main of my Design, and Bellarmin's or Hugo Grotius's Exposition clearly vindicated, or some other offe∣red that might serve Rome's turn as well, and that confirmed and demonstrated from the undoubted Characters of the Angel's Interpretation and the genuine signification of the Prophetick Types which are made use of in the Vision, ac∣cording as they are constantly, or most usually observ'd to signifie in other Pro∣phecies, and especially in Prophetick Visions and Interpretations like this that we are speaking of: I should be so far from repining at my misadventure, or from envying that Man the glory of his great Performance, that I should ra∣ther further it with all my might, and from my very heart rejoice in that so welcome News, and acceptable piece of service to the Church of God.Page 174
And yet, notwithstanding that we have proved the Bishops of Rome from about the Year 456, to be the last of the seven Heads or Kings of Rome, and of the Roman Empire, and, by conse∣quence, to be the Antichristian Beast de∣scribed in this Vision; as also those ten Kings, with their Successors, who at that time shared the Roman Empire be∣tween them, and became one Kingdom (as it were) again, under the Headship and Supremacy of the Popes, to be the Kings that were to make War with the Lamb; and the City of Rome from that same time to be the Woman here descri∣bed as the most abominable City in the World for her Idolatry, and her per∣secuting of the Saints: We must not therefore rashly hence conclude, that there was never any Christian Bishop of Rome from that time forward, or Chri∣stian King in all the Roman Empire, or that the City of Rome her self hath bin alike polluted with Idolatry all along, and no Salvation to be had in her Com∣munion.Page 175
No, it is enough for the fulfilling of this Prophecy (and we need not make it worse) that her Impieties arrived to the height they now are at, and have bin at these many years, insensibly and by slow degrees; and that it has bin the main design of those ten Kings, with their Successors, to advance the Roman Bishops, together with their Interests and Idolatries, and to assist them with their power and strength against what∣ever stood in opposition to them. For as a wicked person may have some com∣mendable qualities, which sometimes may exert themselves in Christian works, and yet the person be exceeding vici∣ous, as to his habitual course and con∣versation: so doubtless there has bin much good in Rome, before she made her wound incurable; and many inter∣vals of eminent Christians (for ought I know) among her Bishops, and among those Kings and their Successors that confederated with them. According as we may observe in those three Warn∣ings which we find given to them Rev.Page 176xiv. The first was only, That they should fear God, and worship him, &c. Exhort∣ing them to keep themselves from Idols, and to worship God only, ver. 7. The next was a denunciation of the great∣ness of the Fall of Babylon, in not only committing, but propagating her Idola∣tries, ver. 8. But the last was more se∣vere yet, at ver. 9. That if any man wor∣shipped the Beast, and his Image, and re∣ceived his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, (a mystical periphrasis of adhering to him) the same shall drink of the Wine of the Wrath of God, which is powred out without mixture, into the Cup of his Indig∣nation, and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone, &c. By which it seems, that it has not bin always alike dange∣rous to communicate with Rome, and that she did not fall but by degrees: but yet at last, that it should be so dan∣gerous as to be inconsistent with Salva∣tion. And whether that time be not long since come, (as we may fear it is) I leave the Reader to determin.
And now from all that hath bin hi∣therto Page 177said, it is manifest, That Anti∣christ was to be expected soon after the destruction of Rome's Heathen Empe∣rors; for the other King, (viz. the Chri∣stian Emperors) who was to interpose between the Heathen Emperors, and the seventh Head, (the Antichristian King) was to continue but a little while. So that upon the dissolution of the Ro∣man Empire, and the division of it in∣to ten Kingdoms, the Antichristian Beast should presently ascend the Imperial Throne, and shew himself the next Head of Rome, and of the Roman Em∣pire.
And hence we see the reason of that Tradition of the Primitive Church, viz. That the Roman Empire was the thing which hindred the revealing of Anti∣christ. For it was necessary that the Head which then reigned, and the o∣ther King of short continuance, (who is not typified by any Head, because he was not blasphemous) should be first destroyed, before the next (that is, the Antichristian Beast) could possibly suc∣ceed Page 178him. Hence it appears also, That the Seat of Antichrist was to be the City of Rome. And lastly, That the Doctrine that he was to teach, was to commit Idolatry; and that the War he was to make, should be to persecute the Saints. Which will be further yet con∣firmed from the explication of the xiith and xiiith Chapters, which now come to be considered.