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.
Page  98

CHAP. 16. A disquisition concerning other particulars, to which the number 12 is applied in the description of the new Hierusalem, and particularly of the 12 Gates, 12 Tribes, and 12 Angels.

THat this truth may more plainely ap∣peare, it is requisite that something be first said briefly, and in generall of those other particulars, to which the same num∣ber is also to be applied; for (as it is above inti∣mated) all those particulars, to which the num∣ber 12 is applied in the description of the new Hierusalem, must have so many other particu∣lars answerable and opposite to them, in that mysticall Babylon to which the number 25 must be in like manner applicable. Now the number 12 is actually and expresly applied un∣to six severall things, in the description of the new Hierusalem, which are these.

  • 1 Twelve Gates.
  • 2 Twelve Angels at the Gates.
  • 3 Twelve Tribes written on the Gates.
  • 4 Twelve foundations with names written on them.
  • 5 Twelve thousand furlongs, the measure of the City.
  • Page  996 Twelve manner of fruits of the tree of life.

Notwithstanding that there is great difference among Interpreters, what these 6 things are, which are hereso expresly numbred, & descri∣bed, and howthey ought to be applyed to the Church: yet their divers interpretations (ac∣cording to which every man aboundeth in his own sense) are rather helps thē hinderances, for the right discerning and finding out of those things, which in the Romish Hierarchy are an∣swerable unto thē. For which way soever these things are to be understood, and according to what possible probabilitie soever they may be interpreted, there are things in all senses answe∣rable unto them in the Romish Babylon. If these Gates be literally to be understood of the gates of the materiall city Hierusalem; then the ma∣teriall gates of the City of Rome must be answe∣rable unto them. And for a full application, in this sense, it shall be shewed, that as the gates of Hierusalem were 12 in number, so the gates of Rome were 25 in number.

But if those gates be also to be understood in a spirituall sense, which without all question is chiefly intended, and most exactly verified, then these gates must be understood to be the gates of the Church signified by Hierusalem. Now Page  100 the gates of the Catholique Church (which is really and truly the Heavenly Hierusalem, may be said to be 12 divers waies. First, the Apostles themselves may be said to have been the 12 gates of the Church in respect of their faith and doctrine in generall, because by their examples, and by the sincerity and truth of their life and doctrine, all other Christians have been conver∣ted to the true Religion. And in this respect the Cardinals of Rome, who make themselves an∣swerable to the Apostles, and whose originall number was 25, may be also said to have beene the 25 gates of spirituall Babylon; because chief∣ly and originally, by their policy and hypocrisy, in laying the first foundation of Poperie, all o∣ther Papists have been since perswaded, and in∣vited to believe, and to embrace the Heresies and superstitions of the Church of Rome.

But secondly, and in a more particular and proper sense, there may be said to have been 12 gates of the Church, because the administrati∣on of the Sacraments, & especially of Baptisme (which is literally, and properly the gate of the celestiall Hierusalem) was chiefly, & original∣ly a committed unto the 12 Apostles. And in this Page  101 sense it shall be shewed, that as in the first appa∣rent beginning of Christianity, the administra∣tion of Baptisme was originally committed un∣to 12 Apostles in the City of Hierusalem, which is therefore truly called Mater, gremium, & osti∣um omnium Ecclesiarum, the mother, the wombe and the gate of all Churches; so in the first ap∣parent beginning of Popery, the administration of Baptisme was originally committed unto 25 Cardinals in the City of Rome, which city doth also stile her selfe Mater, gremium, & ostium om∣nium Ecclesiarum, the Mother, the wombe, and the gate of all Churches.

Thirdly, these gates of the new Hierusalem seem to have speciall reference to those materi∣all Churches (or to those places which were then answerable to our Churches) wherein the Apostles did usually administer the word & Sacraments while they were in Hierusalem; for, as the Apostles are called gates, because ad∣ministration of the word and Sacraments was performed by them, so Churches may be called gates, because these functions were performed in them. And as Baptisme is truly said to be the gate of the Church, so according to the phrase of the Scriptures, that may be truly said of every particular Church or congregation which Ia∣cobPage  102 once spake of Bethel, Haec est domus Dei, haec*est porta coeli: this is the house of God, this is the gate of heaven. And although those places in Hierusalem, wherein Christians first assembled themselves, were not such as our Churches now are (as neither was Bethel at that time when Jacob called it the gate of Heaven) yet it cannot be imagined, but that there were set congregations, which had some certaine pla∣ces to meet in, and severall Pastors to instruct them: for as the Apostles divided the world as it were by line among themselves, so that one would not meddle within the compasse of an∣others line, so it is to be conceived that the same Apostles, by whose precept or example Parishes and Diocesses in all places began to be erected, first in Cities, and then in Villages, did not con∣fusedly and promiscuously performe all duties & Ecclesiasticall functions among themselves; but that they did divide the City Hierusalem in∣to 12 severall Jurisdictions, Parishes or Divisi∣ons, and that they did in 12 severall places ad∣minister the Sacrament of Baptisme, and doe all other religious duties which are now usually performed in Churches. These places were for the most part large upper roomes; such as that was which the Apostles prepared for our Savi∣our Page  103 Christ to eat the Paschall Lamb in; these in those times were usually called aBasilicae (which name hath been ever since retained, & sheweth the true originall from whence Chri∣stian Churches had their beginning) and these places were in those times really and truly Christian Churches, although, in respect of those which we now have, they were so but onely as it were in semine & origine. Now for∣asmuch as this coelestiall Hierusalem is the type of the Christian Church universall, into which no man can have his entrance & admission, ex∣cept it be by baptisme, which ought alwaies to be performed in some particular Church, or congregation, therefore every particular Church or Congregation, wherein this Sacra∣ment is usually administred, may in this re∣spect (as also in divers others) be truly said to be agate, by which men do usually and ordinari∣ly enter into the spirituall Hierusalem. And be∣cause the first Christian Churches or congrega∣tions, which were at once and the same time instituted, and erected in Hierusalem by the A∣postles, as patterns and platformes to all suc∣ceeding times and Cities, are presumed to have been 12 in number, according to the number of the 12 Apostles: therefore the number of the Page  104 gates of the Christian Church vniversall, accor∣ding to it's first originall and beginning (which time is chiefly aymed at in this whole descrip∣tion) are truly said to be twelve. And this I take chiefly, to be that literall veritie, really and actu∣ally existing in the primitive Church, to which the twelve Gates of the new Hierusalem, have a plaine and evident allusion.

And this is farther cleared, because it follow∣eth in the Text, that these Gates had 12 Angells placed at them, and the names of the twelve Tribes written on them. For first concerning the Angels, it is evident in this book of the Re∣velation that the Ministers of the Gospell are called the Angels of those Churches, which are committed unto them. If therefore these twelve gates be the first christian Churches, then the 12 Angels may fitly be said to be those 12 Pastors, to whom the charge of these twelve Churches was committed. For as touching Angels pro∣perly so called, which are ministring spirits, it is certaine that the dispensation of the Gospell, is not committed unto Angels, but unto men; and that men, and not Angels, have power, and are appointed to baptize, and to excommuni∣cate, that is, to admit in, and to cast out of the Church, and to open, and shut the gates of the Page  105 heavenly Hierusalem. And for this cause it is plainly said in the 2 chap. of the Hebrews, verse 5. that God hath not unto Angells put in subjection the world to come; in which place the world to come, signifieth the renewed estate of the Church under the Gospell.

Secondly, concerning the 12 Tribes, if the Gates be the first 12 Churches, and the Angells the 12 first Pastors, then questionlesse these Tribes, are the 12 first Ecclesiasticall divisions, Titles, Iurisdictions, or Parishes, into which the City and people of Hierusalem, in some sort were, and should in processe of time haue been more perfectly divided, if that City had not been destroyed, nor the Passage of the Gos∣pell hindered. For it is to be considered, that this description of the new Hierusalem, is ap∣plicable to those times, by way of anticipation as it were, and rather in respect of that beauty and perfection, at which the primative Church then aymed, then in respect of that, unto which it had in those times attained. Neverthelesse because it is evident by the Scriptures, that there was so great a number of beleeving Christians in Hierusalem at that time, that every Apostle might have had the charge of neare 500 soules, it cannot therefore with any probability be Page  106 imagined, but that they did distribute, and dis∣pose themselves, and those beleevers, in as de∣cent and convenient order, as those times would permitt, and according to such Divisions, as did not only resemble, the 12 Tribes of the Jsrae∣lites, (which were typicall predictions of the Apostles times) but were also exemplary cau∣ses of the like Ecclesiasticall divisions, namely, of Diocesses, and Parishes, which began im∣mediately after the Apostles times to be erected in other Cityes, and haue been ever since conti∣nued in the Church.