« AnteriorContinuar »
Christians. That the Othmans, wherever they have had any power, have in general abolished the public ministry of the word among the people professing Christianity, is well known. But they have also cast down the place of his (Christ's) sanctuary. Among the Jews sanctuary often meant the place wherein their public worship was performed. See Ps. lxxiii. 17. Therefore as Jewish things were a type of Christian, sanctuary must mean the places appointed for public worship among those denominated Christians; and consequently the meaning of the prophecy is, that the Othmans would not only suspend the public worship of Christ, but also either destroy the different religious edifices, or appropriate them to his own abominable superstition. That this has been exactly the case is verified by history, a great number of Christian churches having been converted into Mohammedan mosques.
“ And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression,” that is, a military power was given by God to the Othmans to prevent the resumption of the daily sacrifice or public worship among the Greeks; and the reason of this awful dispensation of Jehovah is immediately given; the Othmans obtained this great ascendancy over the Christian worship in the east, " by reason of transgression,” that is to say, on account of the great idolatries which had been repeatedly, and for a very long season, practised among the Greeks.
“ And it cast down the truth to the ground," that is, the Othmans, with all their might, have en
deavoured to extinguish every particle of Christian worship, by rendering the civil affairs of the Greeks very desperate in order to induce them to apostatize from their religion, and embrace Mohammedanism. “ And it practised,” that is, the Othmans practised every subtilty which was calculated to advance the Mohammedan superstition, and depress the Christian worship; "and prospered” in their undertakings, because of the great transgressions of God's people.
The angel, in his interpretation of the vision, says, “ His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power.” This has been differently understood by commentators in their application of it to Antiochus Epiphanes, all which Bishop Newton has ably refuted. The bishop's opinion, therefore, shall only be examined in this place. He remarks, that “this part of the prophecy, as well as the rest, can no where be so justly and properly applied, as to the Romans. With them it quadrates exactly, and with none of the other horns or kingdoms of the goat. The strength of the other kingdom's consisted in themselves, and had its foundation in some part of the goat; but the Roman empire, as a horn or kingdom of the goat, was not mighty by its own power, was not strong by virtue of the goat, but drew its nourishment and strength from Rome and Italy. There grew the trunk and body of the tree, though the branches extended over Greece, Asia, Syria, and Egypt.” This opinion, at first view, may appear very plausible to many; but
a close examination will appear not to have the least weight. In the first place it would be perfectly absurd to denominate the conquering nation a horn of the power which it has subdued, unless it could be proved that it originally rose up out of
But this was not the case with the Roman empire; for it first sprung up in Latium, a district of Italy, and from that spot spread itself over the whole known world; consequently, the goat was rather a horn of the Romans, than the Romans a horn of the goat. Secondly, admitting that the Roman power might be called a horn of the goat, it could by no means be styled a little horn at the time when it conquered Greece; as its power was then far greater than any one of the four kingdoms into which the empire of Alexander was divided. Thirdly, the Roman empire was mighty by its own power, that is to say, the Romans fought their own battles with the subjects of their own nation; and it is absurd to say that “his own power" must mean his power as a horn or kingdom of the goat. If the little horn signifies the Roman empire, his own power must mean the power of the Roman empire, and, the sense of the whole passage will be, The power of the Romans was mighty, but not by means of their own power; a conclusion which is totally unsupported by history, as the contrary is well known to have been the fact, for the Romans are well known to have been the finest soldiers and bravest men of their time, and consequently to have constituted the strength of the Roman empire
But though the Romans will not answer the prophetic description, “ His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power,” yet it corresponds to the Othmans in the most exact and singular manner. The great body of the military forces of the Turks were composed of Greek captives whom they educated in the art of war from their childhood, and thus became the main, and in some cases the only strength of the Othman empire. Knolles's account of the Othman government, and the constitution of the Turkish military force, is here quoted, as it is the best comment I know upon
the words of the prophecy: “ The Othoman government in this his so great an empire is altogether like the government of the master over his slave, and indeed meer tyrannical; for the Great Sultan is so absolute a lord of all things within the compass of his empire, that all his subjects and people, be they never so great, to call themselves his slaves and not his subjects; neither hath any man power over himself, much less is he lord of the house wherein he dwelleth, or of the land which he tilleth, except some few families in Constantinople, to whom some few such things were by way of reward, and upon especial favour given by Mahomet the Second, at such time as he won the same. Neither is any man in that empire so great, or yet so far in favour with the Great Sultan as that he can assure himself of his life, much less of his present fortune or state longer than it pleaseth the sultan In which so absolute a sovereignty (by
any freeborn people not to be endured) the tyrant preserveth himself by two most especial means; first by taking off all arms from his natural sube jects; and then by putting the same and all things else concerning the state and government thereof into the hands of the apostata, or renegade Christians, whom for the most part every third, fourth, or fifth year, (or oftner, if his need so require) he taketh in their childhood, from their miserable parents, as his tenths or tribute children; whereby he gaineth two great commodities : First, for that in so doing he spoileth the provinces he most feareth, of the flower, sinews, and strength of the people, choice being still made of the strongest youths, and fittest for war; then, for that with these, as with his own creatures, he armeth himself, and by them assureth his state; for they, in their childhood, taken from their parents laps, and delivered in charge to one or other appointed for that purpose, quickly, and before they are aware, become Mahometans; and so no more acknowledging father or mother, depend wholly on the Great Sultan; who, to make use of them, both feeds them and fosters them, at whose hands only they look for all things, and whom alone they thank for all. Of which fry, so taken from their Christian parents, (the only seminary of his wars;) some become horsemen, some footmen, and so in time the greatest commanders of his state and empire, next unto himself; the natural Turks, in the mean time, giving themselves wholly unto the trade of merchandize, and other