An interpretation of the number 666 wherein, not onely the manner, how this number ought to be interpreted, is clearely proved and demonstrated : but it is also shewed [that] this number is an exquisite and perfect character, truly, exactly, and essentially describing that state of government to [which] all other notes of Antichrist doe agree : with all knowne objections solidly and fully answered [that] can be materially made against it
Potter, Francis, 1594-1678.

CHAP. 10. What the counting of the number is. What is meant by the first Beast, the second Beast, and the I∣mage of the Beast mentioned, Revel. 13. That by counting the Beasts number some other num∣ber ought to be found out besides the number 666.

THE words are these in the 13 chap. of the Revel.

Here, is wisdome, let him that hath un∣derstanding count the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is six hundred sixty six.

It is expresly said in these words, that the number 666 must be counted; now after what manner should this number be counted, but, after some such manner, as is commonly used Page  49 among men? And least any man should un∣derstand it of a meerely speculative, or angeli∣call, or of any intricate and unusuall kind of computation, therefore it is added, Numerus enim hominis est, for it is the number of a man, or of Man, that is, as aAlchazar, Coterius,bGas∣per à Melo, and many c others expound it, not onely such a number, but such a computation, and counting, as is knowne unto men, & such as is cōmonly used among them. And that these words were not added to signifie, that Anti∣christ should be a man, and one individuall per∣son, as the Papists would have it, not only Cotte∣riu, but even Alchazar the Jesuite doth very well reason out of the words of the text. His words are these, Constructio illa non aptum videtur red∣dere sensum, sienimideò dictumfuit, [NUMERUS HOMINIS EST] ut Antichristus verus homo fu∣turus Page  50 affirmaretur, connexio literae haec erit; Qui habet sapientiam computet numerum nominis be∣stiae, quia Antichristus erit homo, at{que} adeò nume∣rus eius erit numerus hominis, quae ratio minimè vi∣detur apta. Nam quòd Antichristus sit homo futu∣rus, nil deservit ad hoc, ut computetur, vel non com∣putetur numerus eius. That is, that manner of construction seemes not agreeable to reason; for if it were therefore said, it is the number of a man, that it might be affirmed that Antichrist was a very man, then the coherence, and sense must be this, Let him that hath wisdome, count the number of the name of the beast, because Antichrist shall be a man, & so his number shall be a mans num∣ber. Which kinde of reasoning seemes not at all to be probable; for that Antichrist shall be a man, it conduceth nothing either to the coun∣ting, or to the not counting of his number. Thus much Alchasa in 13 cap. Apoc. By whose words it may be observed, that the evidence of truth made him so bold, as to confute that interpreta∣tion of thse words which most Papists would have generally to be received. And here with all submission to better judgements, J hope I may without offence to any man, set downe curso∣rily, that opinion which I suppose most proba∣ble, concerning the two Beasts, and the image Page  51 of the Beast, mentioned in this 13 cap. of the Re∣velation. I conceive the first Beast with the wounded head, not to be that temporall power of the Roman Emperours, which they have ex∣ercised since the time of Constantine the great: but to be that temporall power of the Roman Emperours, which since that time hath beene usurped by the Popes. For I believe that the Bi∣shop and clergy of Rome shortly after the daies of Constantine the great, did either by his dona∣tion, or by their own usurpation, when the Em∣perour was absent and taken out of the way, hold & usurpe, for a short time at the least, even a temporall principalitie in and over the city of Rome, and the territories adjoyning; and this temporall principalitie, wealth, and riches which the Popes and clergy of Rome then had, was the beginning of their greatnesse. And by this temperall greatnesse, I doe not meane such subordinate Titles, Dignities, and maintenance, as were in those times by Emperours & Kings bestowed upon many other Christian Bishops, but such dominion and principality as is in∣compatible with the ministers of the Gospell, & such as Bellarmine speakes of, when he saith, that the same Ecclesiasticall person may be both an Ecclesiasticall and a temporall Prince. Many Page  52 reasons and a probabilities may be alleaged to prove that the Bishops of Rome had such tem∣porall dominion before the Gothes and Vandals did overrunne Italy. Most Papistsdoe willingly acknowledge it, and it is easily proved against all those that doe acknowledge the donation of Constantine. And although the donation of Constantine be forged in many things, yet not perhaps in all. And if it be wholly forged, yet it is an argument that the Bishops of Rome had possession of some such temporall power in those ancienter times: for why else was it for∣ged, but to prove that their ancesters had right to such things, as it was then undeniable, that they did formerly possesse?

This temporall power and principalitie over the city of Rome, did succeed the government of the Roman Emperours in Rome (who were the sixth head, that was in the time of S. John) and did receive a deadly wound, perhaps part∣ly by some Emperours, and perhaps partly by some seditious tumults of the Citizens, but chiefly by the incursions of the Gothes and Van∣dals, who endeavoured to erect a new forme of goverment in Rome, and did so far effect it, as was necessary for the deadly wounding of the Popes dominion, but yet could not so utterly Page  53 abolish it, but that it revived againe afterwards. This temporall dominion being revived and having the Exarchie of Ravenna, and many o∣ther things added unto it, became formidable to all other temporall Princes, and to the Empe∣rour himselfe, whom I account one of those ten Kings which was to give his power to this Beast. Of this temporall power Funecius speaks where he saith, Ex hoc tempore Papae in Italia do∣mini, subinde quaesiverunt, quo modo potentiam su∣am stabilirent: donèc tandem à Pipino, maximam Italiae partem, quam vi subegerant, dono acceperint. After which time the Bishop & clergy of Rome usurping and enjoying without controlement this temporall principalitie, and being assisted with the obedience of other temporall Princes (some of whom they forced to obey them by their dragon-like power, and some they decea∣ved by working miracles, and by the efficacie of errour) began now to seek out some better title then his own usurpation and the donation of Princes, by which he might now establish himselfe and the Sea of Rome in his temporall principality. And considering that some of his predecssors having mouthes speaking great things, did begin to clay me to themselves uni∣versall Ecclesiasticall jurisdiction over the Page  54 whole world, he resolved that it was his onely way actually to settle such universall Ecclesia∣sticall power on himselfe, as was rather clay∣med then possessed by his predecessors. And seeing that he could have no good title to such an universall Ecclesiasticall power as he aymed at, either as he was a Bishop, or as he was an Archbishop, or as he was a Patriarke, he was therefore necessitated to make the people be∣leeve that he was the Vicar of Christ, and that in this he succeeded S. Peter, who derived from Christ this great authority peculiar to himselfe and his successors. And now having derived this great power to himselfe by authority of the holy Scriptures & by divine right, (as he makes the world believe,) he is now become a Beast having two hornes like the Lambe, that is, two powers both Temporall, and Ecclesiasticall; Ec∣clesiasticall directè, and Temporall indirectè over all kingdomes in the world. First there∣fore, this unlawfull temporall power which the Bishop of Rome first usurped I conceive to be the first Beast whose head was wounded, & I believe that the Bishops of Rome were even in those times, before they usurped any unlawfull Ecclesiasticall power, the Antichrist, not in re∣spect of their Ecclesiasticall or Episcopall pow∣er, Page  55 but in respect of that their unlawfull tempo∣rall power above mentioned. Secondly, I con∣ceive the second Beast mentioned, Revel. 13. 11. to be that unlawfull universall Ecclesiasticall power which these latter times have setled up∣on the Pope; and I believe that he is the Anti∣christ, not as Bishop, or as Archbishop, or Patri∣arch, but as he pretends himselfe to be Pope & Vicar of Christ having such a transcendent Ec∣clesiasticall power as is incommunicable to any other upon earth. This Ecclesiasticall power doth now include in it efficaciter although in∣directè, all that temporall power which the first Beast had, and all other temporall power be∣sides it. And for this reason the second Beast is said to exercise all the power of the first Beast in his presence. For so the Pope continuing still a temporall Prince and Bishop of Rome, hold∣eth now all that temporall power and domi∣nion, by vertue of his unlawfull Ecclesiasticall power, which for divers hundreds of yeares, the Bishops his predecessors were formerly content to hold, onely by the pretended and perhaps forged donations of Constantine and o∣ther Princes.

Now lastly, as touching the Image of the Beast, I suppose that to be the person of the Page  56 Pope for the time being: especially he being considered as he is Vicarius Christi; for in this respect the Cardinals and others his followers doe flatly adore him when he is elected, and doe teach such Adoration to be due unto him. And this worship and adoration which is gi∣ven unto him, although it be not sufficient to* transforme him really and truely into such a Vicar of Christ as they pretend him to be: yet it is sufficient to transforme him really and truely into such an Jmage and such an Idoll as is in the text described. These things J have set downe Obiter, and breifly to shew that these two Beasts, and the Image of the Beast doe all concurre to the making up of that one great Antichrist, whose city, State, and King∣dome are described by the Beasts number, and to shew how unprobable it is that all these things should be meant of one particular man as the papists would have Antichrist to be.

It were an easy thing to confirme the same truth by many testimonies, both of protestants, and papists. But because it is certaine and evi∣dently proved by many learned writers that the great and chiefe Antichrist should not be one person only, but a state of government, or body politick, I will therefore recite here the words Page  57 of Cotterius only, a late writer, who as J con∣ceivereasoneth unanswerably to the same pur∣pose in his commentaries upon the 13 cap. of the Apoc. where he speaketh in these words, Numerus enim hominis est:〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, non〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉quasi hic appellatio hominis Antichristo tri∣bueretur; De bestiâ agitur, cui appellationem bo∣minis competere repugnat; vult igitur Scriptura numerum bestiae ejusdem esse speciei cum nostrate; numeri enim ratio una non est: nos res nostras ad decadum, & centuriarum, & chiliadum, & myria∣dum rationes exigimus, quid ni veró angeli alias nu∣merorum contabulationes sequantur? That is, for it is the number of a man, or of Man, not of this man, or that man, or any particular man, as if the name of a man were here attributed to An∣tichrist. The Prophet speaketh of the Beast, to whom the name and appellation of a man can∣not agree. The meaning therefore is, that this number of the Beast is of the same kinde, that other numbers are, which are used by us, that are men, and inhabitants of this world. For all numbering is not after the same manner; we that are men number our things by tens, & by hundreds, & by thousands, and by tens of thou∣sands; but why may not Angels rank and dis∣pose unities according to other progressions & Page  58 proportions? For as much then, as this number is the number of a man, that is, a number of the same kinde that other numbers are, that are U∣sed by men, therefore we cannot doubt, but the computation, and counting of this number is such a kind of computation, as is usuall among men▪

I aske therefore what it is, to count a num∣ber after the manner of men? And, what literall and grammaticall sense can be given of these words, except they be understood of such a kinde of computation, as is both usuall among men, and proper to numbers only? but there is no other way whereby men usually doe, or properly can be said to count numbers, but by such a kinde of computation, which either is, or is reducible unto one of these following; namely either by Addition, or Substraction, or Multiplication, or Division, or by the extracti∣on of Roots: and therefore it is absolutely ne∣cessary, that the number of the Beast must be counted according to one of these kindes of computation. But in all these kinds of compu∣tation, and in every one of them, the end and scope is, by one or more numbers given, to find out one other number, which was not known nor could be expressed before the computation Page  59 was performed. And hence it followeth neces∣sarily, that if the number of the Beast must be counted, then there must be some other number found out by it, beside the number it selfe, which is named and expressed. And this infe∣rence is so evident, & necessary, that some lear∣ned interpreters (although they aymed not at* any particular application) have by the words of the text, and by their own well grounded conjectures, and great sagacity fore▪ seen, and fore-told, that there was some other number beside the number 666 to be understood in this place, by the number of the Beast. And this may appeare by the words of Rupertus upon this place, where he writeth thus, Hic sapientia est, qui habet intellectum computet, &c. Quid hoc est, quod & numerum praescribit ipse, & tamen dicit, qui hbet sapientiam computet numerum bestiae? qualem numerum? vel quare computet numerum Bestiae? numerus enim, inquit, hominis est, & nu∣merus eius 666▪ quid hoc est quod & numerum prae∣scribit ipse, & tamen dicit, qui habet sapintiam computet numerum Bestiae? Num hoc intendit, ut computando sapientèr hoc totum perquiras, quot in isto numero fint monades, aut certè decades, &c. And a litle after this anxious disquisition about counting this number, he concludes in these Page  60 words, Duos ergo numeros hic intelligi oportet, al∣terum nominis eius, five Dei: alterum Bestiae, five ho∣minis. That is, Two numbers therefore must be understood in this place, one being the num∣ber of the Beasts name, or of God; the other of the Beast, or of man, for Gods number is not the same with mans number. By which words I know not what else can be understood, but this; That the number 666 is not only the num∣ber of the Beasts name, but also the number of God, that is, it is a number which God hath pleased to name, and reveale to men, that by counting of this number, they might finde out that other number, which it pleased not God, expressely to name in this place, but rather my∣stically to conceale, because it is more properly the number of the Beast, then this, which is the number of his name. To these words of Ruper∣tus may be added the like testimony of Pet. Bon∣gus in his booke de numerorum mysteriis, where writing of the same place of Scripture, and of the number 666 he hath the like words, Duos ergo numeros hic intelligi oportet, &c. two num∣bers therefore must here be understood, &c.

Now therefore it being evident, that by counting of this number there ought some o∣ther number to be found out, the next thing to Page  61 be inquired after, is, what kinde of computati∣on ought here to be used. For although it be granted, that this number must be counted, and that it cannot be counted, but that there must some other number be found out by it, yet for as much as numbers may be counted divers wayes, (as is above said) and there may be di∣vers numbers found out by them, a reason may well be demanded, why this counting of the number should be restrained to the extraction of the root only, rather then to any other kinde of computation? To which I might answer, that the example of the opposite number (which is to be counted after this manner) is a sufficient reason; but I doe rather answer that this restriction is not only probable, but abso∣lutely necessary, because there is only one num∣ber named and expressed in the text. For if any other kind of computation had been intended, two numbers at the least ought to have been expressed. For neither Addition, nor Substracti∣on, nor Multiplication, nor Division can be per∣formed, but there must be two numbers at the least given; that by them a third, that is, either a Totum, or a Remainder, or a Product, or a Quotient may be found out; but in the extra∣ction of Roots, one number only ought to be Page  62 expressed whose root is to be extracted: and for this cause it is flatly against the literall, and the grammaticall sense of the words of the text, to understand any other immediate computation or calculation by them. It were an imperfect speech to say, here is wisdome, let him that hath understanding adde the number of the Beast, for it is the number of a man, & his num∣ber is 666, and yet not to declare what number it is to which this should be added. So likewise if it had been said, Let him that hath understan∣ding subtract the number of the Beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666; it would be demanded from what number it should be subtracted: or if it had been said, Here is wisdome, let him that hath understan∣ding multiply the number of the Beast, or di∣vide the number of the Beast, for it is the num∣ber of a man, and his number is 666; who see∣eth not how ambiguous, and imperfect the speech is; because there is no number expressed or intimated by which it should be multiplied or divided? But if it had been said, Here is wis∣dome, let him that hath understanding extract the root of the number of the Beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666, this is an intire and perfect speech of it selfe, and such Page  63 as must of necessity be understood in this place: because there is no other way by which men either properly can, or usually doe count one number onely, but onely by the extraction of the roote of it.