CHAP. 1. The probability of the following interpretation is briefly and generally proposed; that opinion of numerall letters being almost wholly rejected.
AMONGST those many and sundry opinions which divers men of different judgements & apprehensions have utte∣red concerning this num∣ber 666. there is not a∣ny one which either seems more probable, or is more true in it selfe, Page 2 then the opinion of those Interpreters, who well considering that, Oppositorum eadem est ra∣tio, have therefore endeavoured to find out the true interpretation of this number by compa∣ring it with the number144, to which this num∣ber of the beast is evidently opposed. And this ground of theirs, for the manner of the inter∣pretation, is to be esteemed so much the more probable, by how much the lesse successe they found in it. For if this manner of interpretati∣on seemed probable to them, to whom the truth of its application was unknown; how much more would they have stuck unto it, had they but known how many and how great mi∣steries their farther prosecution of it might have revealed both to themselves and others.
As for that opinion concerning the nume∣rall letters of the a name 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, although it have some clearenesse and evidence in respect of the truth of its application, yet it is most uncertain and obscure inrespect of the manner of the in∣terpretation; there being no example in the Scriptures of any number so counted, or any name so characterized▪ & also the words of the text seem plainly to crosse all such interpretati∣ons of any name whatsoever, in that it is ex∣presly said, Let him that hath Ʋnderstanding Page 3 count the number of the beast. It is not said (as it is observed by many) let him count the name of the beast, or the numerall letters in his name: but this manner of speaking is rather pur∣posely avoided by S. John, as Cotterius affirmeth saying, quemadmodum loqui, NOLUISSE Johan∣nem certissimum est. Besides it is observed, that the number of the Beast, and the name of the Beast, are two things plainly distinguished in the text; and therefore it is not likely the coun∣ting of the number, and the counting of the name should be all one; much lesse, that the name ought to be counted, & not the number: whereas they that have understanding are advi∣sed by expresse words of the text to count the number, not the name. Wherefore, although I will not deny but that the holy Ghost may in a second sense (as it were) indirectly and ob∣liquely glance at the name of the Beast by this number; yet that this should be the chiefe and maine mystery which is to be found out by this number, there is no probabilitie at all, as a divers learned Interpreters doe willingly acknow∣ledge.
Page 4But as touching the chiefe and principall meaning, that there may be found out such a kinde of interpretation as may be warranted by an expresse Example in the holy Scriptures; And such an Interpretation, as the precedent & subsequent words of the text, may, not onely seem to admit of, but necessarily to inforce; and such an interpretation, as doth essentially and accurately describe that state of government, to which all other notes of Antichrist agree; there is no way more probable, or more agreeable to reason, nor any way lesse repugnant to the wri∣tings of the chiefest interpreters, then to prose∣cute the grounds already laid by those, who haue indeavoured to finde out the mystery con∣tained in this number, by comparing it with the number 144, to which this number 666, is (as it were) the anti-numerus, & must therefore be interpreted after the same manner, and in the same particulars applyed to the Synagogue of Antichrist, as the number 144 ought to be inter∣preted, and as it is in the Scriptures applied to the Church of Christ.