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merely to reduce the eight heads to seven according to an arbitrary system of our own invention: we must attend to the express words of the prophecy, otherwise we in fact do nothing. Now the prophecy declares, that the eighth head should be one of the preceding seven: but Mr. Mede, on the contrary, makes the supposed seventh head to be one of the preceding six; and the supposed eighth head, which the prophet had declared should be one of the preceding seven, he makes to be quite distinct from every one of those seven. According to the prophecy, we are first to pitch upon seven distinct heads, and then discover an eighth head which shall be the same as one of those seven: according to Mr. Mede, we are to amalgamate the sixth and the seventh heads, and then discover an eighth which shall not be the same as any of those seven. On these grounds, I think the plan of that eminent expositor untenable.
(2.) Mr. Sharpe supposes the seventh head to be the three Gothic kingdoms that succeeded the imperial sixth head in the supreme government of Rome, and the eighth head to be the Papacy
This scheme is objectionable in every point of view. Three successive kingdoms cannot reasonably be esteemed one head. And, even if this were no objection, others would immediately arise. The kingly head was the first of the heads of the beast: consequently Mr. Sharpe's scheme, admitting for
Appendix to three tracts. p. 28.--Inquiry into the Description of Babylon. p. 8, 9.
a moment these three kingdoms to be a head, amalgamates the seventh head with the first, as that of Mr. Mede amalgamated the seventh head with the sixth. Such being the case, every objection, that has been made to Mr. Mede's scheme, applies with equal force to that of Mr. Sharpe. The eighth head, according to both these plans, instead of being one of the seven, is perfectly distinct from them all. So again: the three kingdoms, which Mr. Sharpe supposes to constitute the seventh head of the beast, are three of his ten original horns. If then they be three horns of the beast, it is surely impossible that they should likewise, and that in the self-same capacity, be one of his heads *.
(3.) Bp. Newton thinks, that the Exarchate of Ravenna is the seventh head, and that the Papacy is the eighth head f.
It is almost superfluous to observe, that, if the three horns jointly cannot be the seventh head of the beast, no one of them can separately. Forbes supposes, that the kingdom of the Ostrogoths is the seventh head (See Pol. Synop. in loc.); in which opinion Fleming agrecs with him (Apoc. Key. p. 16.). But why should this kingdom be pitched upon in preference to that of the Heruli and that of the Lombards? The objection will equally apply to any scheme that should fix upon either of the other two kingdoms in preference to the two that must necessarily be excluded and every other objection, that has been made to Mr. Sharpe's scheme, will moreover apply with equal force to all schemes similar to that of Forbes. I have already complained, that I have not been able to discover what three Gothic kingdoms Mr. Sharpe alludes to, from the circumstance of his limiting their joint duration to no more than 70 years.
+ Dissert. on Rev, xvii.
This supposition is in some respects even more objectionable than the two preceding ones.-In the first place, it does not consist with his Lordship's own sentiments respecting the Roman beast. In a former dissertation he had maintained (erroneously indeed I am persuaded), that the Exarchate was one of the ten horns of the beast: now he represents it, as his seventh head. But the self-same power cannot, in the self-same capacity, be esteemed at once both a horn and a head of the same beast-In the second place, no modification of language will warrant us in admitting, that, while the independent Roman Emperor of Constantinople is the sixth head, his mere dependant lieutenant, the Exarch of Ravenna, is the seventh head for this would be to place, upon the very same footing, a sovereign and his viceroy, the fountain of authority and the commissioned governor of a province *-In the third place, the seventh head, whatever it be, must be the same as the eighth head; the two forming jointly one double septimo-octave head: for, unless this be the case, the beast will really have eight heads, instead of only seven; the very contrary of which is expressly asserted by the prophet, who, in order to shew us how the beast has only seven heads, declares that the eighth is one of the preceding seven. But the Bishop never supposes the Exarch of Ra
"the Exarchs of Ravenna, the representatives in peace "and war of the Emperor of the Romans." Hist. of Decline and Fall. vol. vii. p. 398.
renna to be the eighth head, for that supposition
eighth head Hence it is
would of course be untenable: the therefore he makes to be the Pope. manifest, that, upon his Lordship's scheme, the beast has actually eight heads, instead of having only seven namely 1. Kings; 2. Consuls; 3. Dictators; 4. Decemvirs; 5. Military Tribunes; 6. Emperors; 7. Exarchs; and 8. Popes. The prophet however explicitly declares, that the eighth head is one of the preceding seven, and that the beast has but seven heads: with which then of his supposed seven predecessors can the Pope be identified? Of this natural objection the Bishop seems to be aware; and accordingly he endeavours to parry it, but in a manner to me at least not at all satisfactory, even allowing (what I am by no means disposed to allow) that the Pope may be justly considered the last head of the secular beast in his character of king of kings*. "But possibly you may hesitate, whether this," namely the Exarchate of Ravenna, "is properly a new "form of government, Rome being still subject. "to the imperial power, by being subject to the "Greek Emperor's deputy the Exarch of Ra
venna: and, according as you determine this point, the beast, that was, and is not (was, "while idolatrous; and was not, while not idola"trous,) will appear to be the seventh or eighth.
I have already shewn how entirely unsupported such an opinion is by the testimony of history.
"If you reckon this a new form of government, "the beast that now is is the eighth; if you do "not reckon this a new form of government, the "beast is of the seven: but, whether he be the "seventh or eighth, he is the last form of govern
ment, and goeth into perdition." To this statement the answer is sufficiently easy. St. John first enumerates seven distinct heads, and then introduces an eighth, teaching us that the beast has nevertheless no more than seven heads, for the eighth is of the seven. If then the beast has seven distinct heads at the rise of the eighth, and yet notwithstanding the rise of the eighth has no more than seven, that eighth must in some sense be the same as one of the seven. But, upon Bp. Newton's plan it is not the same as any one of the seven : and, in order to get quit of the supposed seventh head the Exarchate, so that the beast by the addition of the Papacy may still have no more than seven, he sometimes considers the Exarchate as a head, and sometimes as not a head*.
(4.) Some commentators, probably aware of the difficulties here enumerated, difficulties which unavoidably arise from the separation of the seventh and eighth heads, have adopted the mode of exposition which I believe to be the true one; namely, that the two heads are one power existing in a twofold capacity: but unfortunately they have, for the
Mr. Lowman's interpretation is exactly the same as Bp. Newton's, and is consequently liable to the very same objections.