« PreviousContinue »
pendently of it, the whole of the prophecy relating to the Beast and False-prophet can never be satisfactorily explained, I have treated this part of my subject with very considerable detail; what mode of numbering is intended in the prophecy is stated, and numerous examples given in support of it. A great variety of opinions respecting the Apocalyptic number, are also produced that the reader may have in one view the principal part of what has been written upon it from the time of Irenæus to the present period. A calculation of the number of the Beast is also given, which I believe to be the only true meaning of the passage. Upon this I have spent several pages; and have succeeded, as far as I am able to judge, in shewing that the calculation upon which almost the whole of what is contained in the following pages rests as a foundation, is that which is alone designed in the prophecy. That the prophetic description of the Beast may be shewn to agree exactly with the name derived from his number, the thirteenth and seventeenth chapters of the Apocalypse have been examined with considerable detail; and that nothing may be wanting to make this work as perfect as possible, some
observations are added upon the twelfth chapter of the Revelation respecting the Woman and the Dragon; with which the contents of the thirteenth and seventeenth chapters have a very intimate connection. Unwilling to lose this opportunity of elucidating, as far as it is in my power, those prophecies which I believe have been hitherto generally misunderstood, I have entered into a minute examination of Daniel's vision of the Ram and He-goat contained in the eighth chapter of his Prophecy. This portion of the Sacred Writings I am satisfied has been almost wholly misunderstood, as those verses relating to the little horn, have been by ancient commentators supposed to refer to Antiochus Epiphanes; and by moderns either to the Roman empire, or Mohammedanism.
In collecting materials for this work, I have availed myself of every information that I could find in authors upon the same subject, in almost all of whom I have met with something that appeared to me excellent; so that in gathering a little from one, and a little from another, and in numerous instances differing from all, I believe I have, through
the blessing of God, succeeded in removing many of the difficulties that have hitherto lain in the way of commentators, in their various attempts to illustrate the prophecies relating to the Dragon, the Beast, the Falseprophet, and Daniel's vision of the Ram and He-goat.
One principal reason why commentators have so generally failed in their attempts to explain the prophecies contained in Daniel and the Revelation, arises from their misapprehension of many of the symbols with which their subject has been connected; and also in often attaching to the same symbol different ideas; by which very injudicious procedure they have rendered their observations extremely dubious; and darkened rather than elucidated their subject. In the following work I have endeavoured to correct this general error by assigning to each symbol one determinate idea, which I have fixed upon by a comparison of the different passages in the Sacred Oracles where it is used with any explanation; and this idea, without the least variation, I have carried through the whole of this work, for Scripture, all must acknowledge, is the best interpreter of Scripture.
The subject of the following pages occupies but a very small part indeed of Daniel and the Apocalypse; the entire explanation of these books is reserved, according to the express declaration of God, to the time of the