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a man; and his number is six hundred “ three score and six.”
The prophet, in the last verse, asserts that the beast should have not only a mark and a name, but that the name should contain a number by which he should be known ! and here he gives the exact and particular number, and expressly informs us that “it is the number of a man;" leaving us to find out by this hint a proper man, whose name contains the number 666. But at the same time he reminds us that the discovery will be difficult, and require much search and deep consideration : for, says he, here is roisdom ! let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast.” Now wherein does the difficulty consist? It is, as I humbly apprehend, in this; that it is not the name of every man, that can possibly be a distinguishing mark of a beast or nation. There are so many men in the world, whose names contain the number, that the distinction would be lost in the multitude. Besides, the names of men in private life, however their names might contain the number, could not bear a similitude or proper reference to a nation, so as to make it a symbol of a nation. To remove these difficulties, we must not only find out a man, the numerical letters of whose name contain the exact number of the beast; but he must be a man, who, in his political character and office, represents a nation, and by whose name a nation is known. It has therefore, for
cibly been impressed on my mind, that we must search for the man whose name contains the number, among the kings and princes of the earth. In this opinion I am almost alone ; for many learned and pious commentators, the Protestant more especially, unmindful of the hint given by the prophet, have believed that they saw all the marks of the beast verified in the church of Rome. Pursuing this error, and forgetting that the number must be the number or name of a man, they found two Greek and Hebrew words denoting the Latin, or Roman nation, the numerical letters of which amounted to 666, and thence conceived that the number must refer to the church of Rome. To this circumstance they have added, that the church has “ latinized in every thing,” in all her ecclesiastical forms and ceremonies; which they think conclusive.
To show that these arguments are by no means well founded, I might content myself with refuting them by the concession of the authors of them, and the express declaration of the prophet; for they themselves freely acknowledge, that the first beast which John
saw rise up out of the sea,” is the real type of the church of Rome ; and the prophet positively asserts, that the beast which he « saw come up out of the earth," was “ another*,' and not the same which he saw rise up out of the sea; “ that this other beast shall exercise
Chap. xiii. 2.
all the power of the first beast” for the church of Rome), before him, and “ do miracles in his sight;" and that the number of this other beast is 666. Now if the “ beast of the sea." be the church of Rome, and the other, the “ beast of the earth," be a different beast, whose name or number is 666, and who shall “ do miracles in the sight of the other beast," it is impossible, in the nature of things, that the types of the “ beast of the earth,” and particularly his number, should be intended by the Spirit of truth as designations of the church of Rome.
But as this error has been continued down from Irenæus to the learned Bishop Newton, and led commentators into a variety of others, it cannot be improper to give the arguments, upon which it has been founded, particular consideration, the more especially as the refutation of error often leads to the discovery of truth.
1. The words which Irenæus and his followers have fixed on, the numerical letters of which amount to the number of the beast, are “ Lateinos and Romith ;" the first Greek, and the other Hebrew. And they contend it must be some Greek or Hebrew word. I confess I see no reason whatever to support this conclusion, but many against it, and many which lead me to believe, that the number of the beast was to be fulfilled in a Latin word. These I shall submit to the candid consideration of the reader.
The Grecian empire, long before the prophet wrote, had, in the course of Divine Provi dence, been destroyed, and its language soon after became a dead language, and the Hebrews were no longer an independent people, but scattered over the earth ; and their dialect was soon to be changed from its former purity into a jargon of words professedly mystical, and only understood by themselves. These events, we must conclude, could not be unknown to the Spirit of truth, which unfolded the mystery to the prophet; and that it would not direct him to refer to a word, by which the great and infalliable mark of the beast was to be made known to mankind, in a language which should be obsolete ; or in a language, if not lost, so changed and corrupted, as scarcely to leave a trace of the original, and only understood by one people, and that too a people every where suppressed, despised, and of less influence in the world than any other distinct part of mankind ; because a general manifestation of the power “ typified by the word” was one great purpose of the prophecy; and that could not be well made by a word in a language either obsolete, or little known.
2. It is, besides, well known that ever since the building of the tower of Babel, and the consequent dispersion of mankind, the dialects of nations have been almost as numerous and various as the nations themselves, continually changing, and in time lost; so that now scarceJy any two understand the language of each other. Had the number of the beast been referred to a word of any of the numerous modern languages, besides the difficulty of knowing in which to search for it, it would be impossible for it to become generally known, should it ever be found. On this account it was certainly necessary that the language, in which “ the number or name" of the Power foretold was to be discovered, should be so preserved, as to be generally understood by the nations, who should in any respect be affected or injured by it; and particularly by the Pope and his people, “ before whom and in whose sight,” it was to “ work miracles." For these reasons, it seems to have been the will of ALMIGHTY GOD, that, in the course of his providence, the Latin language, after having been, in a manner, lost even in Italy, its parent country, upwards of a thousand years, should again be revived by the council of Trent, in the sixteenth century ; that this Papal council should pass a decree, that the Latin translation of the Bible, a book intended to be read by all nations, should be the only authentic version : that the church of Rome should afterwards “ latinize in every thing,” as our commentators phrase it; in all her canons, decretals, bulls, prayers, hymns, and the entire service of the church throughout the amazing extent of her influence; that her jesuits, monks, priests, and friars, should be sent, as they have been, among the nations of the four quarters of the globe; that, while propagating her idolatrous doctrines in Latin