THE "SEVEN HEADS" OF ROME.
The fourth empire is not recognized in prophecy until its conquest of the third empire. Hence any governments it may have had prior to the fall of Syria and Egypt, are no part of the prophetic "seven." Anthony conquered Egypt at about B. C. 30; at which time, and for some time previous, the government of Rome was a triumvirate under three dictators, or consuls; hence we will call this first head, Consular. This head fell when Augustus Cesar, one of the three, declared the empire in B. C. 27. This second, the Imperial head, remained until the empire was broken up by the Goths at about A. D. 476, when the Gothic kings took possession of Rome. This third or Gothic head fell in 538, and Rome was given into the hand of the Papacy, which thus became the fourth head from 538 to 1798; or for 1260 years. Although the power of the popes was only delegated; a power conferred on them at the pleasure of one or more of "these ten kings,' who were to 'agree and give their power and strength unto the beast, until the words of God, the time, times, and a half, were fulfilled;" still the Papal, was the only government having its seat, at Rome, from 538, to 1798. This fourth head was "wounded unto death" (Rev. 13: 3), when, in 1798, a Republic was declared; making the fifth head of Rome. In 1800, papacy was restored, and from that time until September, 1870, was again head of Rome. This restored papacy, however, was not the same as during the 1260 years, it was but an image of its former self; and in the prophecy, is called "the image of the beast." Hence, we will call this the Image head.
During the existence of this sixth head, or from 1800 to 1870, the "judgment" has been executed on the "woman" Rev. 17: 1). That is, the ten horns have hated the harlot, and have made her desolate and naked (ver. 16). They have taken away her dominion, and confiscated her property. In Dan. 7: 26, in referring to the same power as the "little horn," it says, "But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away its dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end." Clearly showing that the judgment was to sit on that power and take away its dominion before the end; after which the execution of that judgment by a gradual consumption, was to follow; all of which has been fulfilled on the papacy since 1798. This sixth head went down in September, 1870; hence, the present government of Rome, that under; Victor Emanuel, is the seventh and last.
We will now make the application of this prophecy in detail.
"Come hither; I will show unto thee the judgment of the great harlot that sitteth upon many waters. . . . So he carried me away in the spirit, into the wilderness; and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns" (vers. 1-3).
John was thus carried in spirit from A. D. 96, down to where "the judgment" was to be executed on the papacy, or from its restoration in 1800, to 1870, during the existence of the sixth head, as the statement in ver. 10, demands; because it is there said, "five are fallen, and one is [the sixth], and the other [the seventh] has not yet come." And after seeing the vision from that standpoint, the angel says to him, "I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads, and the ten horns. The beast [this fourth empire] that thou sawest, was [as a civil power, or beast], and is not [for under the papacy it had become an ecclesiastical organization]; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition."
Vers. 9, 10; "Here is the mind which hath wisdom; the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sitteth. And there are seven kings; five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space."
These seven mountains, like other symbols in this chapter, have a double meaning; 1st. they represent the "seven-hilled city," and thus fix the locality of the seat of the woman as being the same as the seat of the dragon (Rev. 13: 2). They also symbolize governments, or heads of the empire. And while the woman was said to sit upon these seven mountains, which is literally true, she is also said, in the symbol, to sit upon many waters (ver. 1); and upon the beast (ver 3); which in ver. 15, is explained to be "peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues."
Of these seven heads, five had fallen. There can be no mistake about the standpoint of the prophet; it was during the time of the sixth head, and while the judgment was being executed on the woman. And that these ten horns have hated the harlot, and made her "desolate and naked," during this present century, is known to all the world. And also that the sixth head or government of Rome, existed from 1800 to 1870.
From that standpoint, five had fallen; and one had not yet come. The Consular, Imperial, Gothic, Papal, and Republic, had fallen; the sixth, restored papacy, or the 'Image of the beast,'
held the reigns of government; and the seventh, that under Victor Emanuel, had not then come. "And when he cometh, he must continue a short space." This last government has now continued as head of Rome since September, 1870; and to day more than 150 millions Catholics are biding their time, waiting and longing for the auspicious moment when a blow can be struck for its overthrow; vainly hoping for a restoration to Rome of papal sovereignty. While the prophetic symbol demands, not the restoration of papacy or any other government, but the rising of the beast itself, without a head; in other words, the peoples, and nations, or body of the beast without an organized government; as the next verse will show.
Ver. 11. "And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition."
This eighth, is not a head, since the beast had but seven. It is the beast itself; that on which the woman sat; the one having the seven heads and ten horns, as it is to be after its last head has fallen (see vers. 8, 9). "I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast, that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads, and ten horns. The beast that thou sawest, was, and is not." And here, ver. 11, "the beast, that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven." The nations on which the woman sat, have been "of the seven;" and they do compose the body of the beast; and are already taking on a separate existence as the Internations, or peoples of all nations.
The reader cannot fail of seeing our present locality in the world's history; and that we are on the verge of great events. And if he will revert back to near the end of the last century, may judge somewhat of the character of the events which are to follow the fall of this last head of Rome, and the ascension of the beast out of the bottomless pit. "And they that dwell upon the earth shall wonder, [whose names are not written in the book of life, from the foundation of the world,] when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is."
The state of chaos and reign of terror in that demoniac equality, and atheistic liberty, which deluged France in blood, under the Commune; when such monsters as Dupont, Robespierre, and their class, could wield the guillotine and ride the storm, is only a faint picture of the fully developed commune, or headless monster. The beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit and made war on "My two witnesses " [the Old and the New Testament], during the French revolution in 1793-6, (Rev. 11:3, 7), was the infancy of this same Commune, now to be fully organized. The ascension out of the bottomless pit, meaning only a freedom from religious restraint. And the character of com-
ing events can be gathered by what then occurred in France, with this difference, the commune came to the surface in only one of the ten divisions of the empire at that time, and was soon driven back; while now it is to become a universal scourge. And not only are "all the kingdoms of the world that are on the face of the earth, to be thrown down;" but there is to be want of employment, so that there shall be "no hire for man, nor hire for beast" (Zech 8: 10); the natural outcome of this growing want of confidence between man and man.
With ver. 11; where "the beast goeth into perdition," the end is reached. But it will be remembered the prophet was taken in spirit, from the isle of Patmos and the year A. D. 96, down the stream of time to the judgment on the woman, while he was seeing the vision; thus most of it is mentioned as in the past. But in the explanation, it is not so; with that, nearly all is in the future from A. D. 96. "The beast that thou sawest" (ver. 8); [in the vision you have seen]. "The ten horns which thou sawest" &c. (ver. 12). Without recognizing these two standpoints, all is confusion; but if you allow, as the text demands, that the seeing is down the stream of time to where the judgment is executed on the papacy, while the explanation is back at the date of the prophecy, all is harmony.
"The ten horns which thou sawest have received no kingdom as yet [in the year 96, the empire had not been divided], but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb " &c. (vers. 12-14).
Here a rapid survey, even to the end, is again given. After a few centuries the empire was divided, and these ten received power as kings one [hora] hour;" that is a little season; [the same word (hora), is thus rendered in Philem. 15: "He therefore departed for a season]". It was but a very short time after the empire was fully divided into its parts, as all historians are aware, before "these ten kings" did become of one mind, [that is, they all became Catholic], and gave their power and strength to the the [sic] beast. Ver. 15; "The waters which thou sawest, are peoples," &c. Ver. 10; "The ten horns which thou sawest, shall hate the whore, and make her desolate and naked." And who so blind as not to see its present fulfilment? Ver. 17; "For God hath put it into their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God [the 1260 years] shall be fulfilled;" since which they have made her desolate. Ver. 18: "And the woman which thou sawest, is that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth."
Thus the symbol and the explanation arc complete; and our
present locality clearly defined. The fourth empire has come; has been divided into ten parts; been lost, or submerged under "MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS, AND THE ABOMINATlONS OF THE EARTH." And "the beast that thou sawest was, and is not, and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit and go into perdition." The seven heads have come, and the "eighth," the beast itself, without a head, everywhere coming to the surface; as seen in the International Commune, Grangers, labor organizations, &c. extending over all parts of the world. In fact, the body of the people everywhere are being moulded like the potter's clay, and prepared for the death-struggle. And soon the rich men, who have heaped treasures together for the last days, will "weep and howl for their miseries that shall come upon them."
At the partial development of this headless monster near the end of the last century, when the streets of Paris ran with gore; the blood of her rich, her noble, and her beautiful; men looked on with wonder. But now, when "every man's hand shall be against his brother;" and all confidence between man and man shall have forsaken the earth (Micah 7: 1-6); when "the thrones are cast down;" when law and order gives way before the mad passions of the ruthless mob; when want of work and hunger, shall turn good men to demons; when the coming time of trouble shall be fully inaugurated; then indeed "they whose names are not written in the Lamb's book of life, from the foundation of the world, shall wonder, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is."
This time of trouble, already beginning, is to swell to a mighty wave during the coming forty years. Its measure is found by two prophetic periods, one marking its beginning, the other its end; which, for lack of space here, must appear in some future No. I will only say, the seven "times of the Gentiles," or 2,520 years during which Jerusalem was to be trodden down of the four Gentile kingdoms, does not end for forty years from the beginning of the Jewish year commencing April 6th, 1875; as may be seen by adding 2,520 to 606 B.C. the date of the beginning of their captivity, and the treading under foot of Jerusalem. But the kingdom of God is to be set up before the days of the Gentiles end, for "in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom; and it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms" (Dan. 2: 44). And this breaking in pieces, together with the battle of the great day, are some of the events of this forty years of trouble; and synchronize with Rev. 17: 14, "These [ten kings] shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them." And thus the nations will
be "bound for a thousand years" under the real Christ, as the dragon has been, in a very limited sense, under the antichrist.
By compareing Rev, 12: 9, and 20: 1, it will be seen that the "dragon called the Devil, and Satan," are the same in each; and the "angel" of Rev 20: with the great chain, who binds the dragon, represents the army of Christ, who subdue the nations and "rule them with a rod of iron." "To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute upon them the judgment written. This honor hath all his saints" (Ps. 149: 8). "The saints shall judge the world" (1 Cor. 6:2).
The binding of the dragon is a work of time, but will be consummated by the end of this forty years; for there, the "times of the Gentiles" end.