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THE VISION OF THE FOUR GREAT WILD-BEASTS
IN the first year of Belshazzar when the Babylonian Empire was now drawing near to its subversion, and about 48 years after Nebuchadnezzar had seen the vision of the metallic image, Daniel dreamed the prophetic dream of the four great wild-beasts'. . While he slept in the night, he beheld the sea agitated by the four winds of heaven: and out of the tempestuous deep came up four great wildbeasts, mutually differing from each other. Respecting this hieroglyphical picture which was exhibited to the imagination of the sleeping prophet, I need scarcely remark, that, according to the unvaried usage of symbolical phraseology, the sea denotes a nation or nations in a state of revolution or warfare; while the four great wild-beasts typify four idolatrous Empires, which arose (as Bishop Newton well expresses the sense of the present imagery) out of the wars and commotions of the world. As little need I set myself to prove, what is allowed by all commentators, that the four wildbeasts of Daniel's prophetic dream correspond with the four metals of Nebuchadnezzar's prophetic vision; or, in other words, that they represent those
* Dan. vii.
The second beast ascended from the sea in the year before Christ 784: when, out of the ruins of the great Assyrian Empire which was dismembered at the latter end of the ninth century before the Christian era, the independent kingdom of Persia sprang up under Caiumuras the founder of the Pishdadian dynasty'.
The third beast ascended from the sea about the year before Christ 763: when the kingdom of Macedon seems to have been founded either by Caranus or by Perdiccas”.
The fourth beast ascended from the sea, in the year before Christ 753 according to Varro, or in the year before Christ 748 according to Fabius Pic
Pentateuch, which shrinks not from the test of the severest examination. See my Origin of Pagan Idol. book vi. chap. 2. § V. ‘The precise commencement of the Persian Empire will be discussed at large hereafter. See below, book iii. chap. 3. § III. 1. (1) 2. * On this point, there is such utter uncertainty, that I have speculatively put down the year 763 before Christ, as the mean, between the alleged commencement of the reign of Caranus and the alleged commencement of the reign of Perdiccas, according to the tables of Petavius. Some writers make Caranus the founder of the kingdom of Macedon: others, Perdiccas. Petavius, in the arrangement of his chronological table, places a whole century between them: and Sir Isaac Newton supposes them to have been contemporaries. Perhaps the most probable conjecture is, that the kingdom began to assume the aspect of a kingdom and to lose that of a petty marauding principality about the middle of the eighth century before Christ, or that the kingdom was in a course of formation from the year 3900 to the year 4001 of the Julian period.
tor: when the kingdom of Rome was founded by Romulus'. It is worthy of observation, since it tends additionally to shew the strict accuracy and concinnity, with which the four Empires, in the vision of the image, are represented as jointly constituting a single great compound Empire: it is worthy, I say, of observation, that all the four Empires were founded by one and the same powerful family; so that the ten Gothic kingdoms of western Europe are not more properly viewed in the East as the collective Empire of the Franks, than the four great Empires might be viewed as the single collective Empire of the Cuthim or Chusas or Scuthae as they are variously denominated by the Hebrews and the Hindoos and the Greeks”. I. The description of the first wild-beast is, that it resembled a lion, but that it had the wings of an eagle; that, while it was soaring aloft in undisputed sovereignty, its wings, by which it was lifted up from the earth, were plucked; that, notwithstanding the downfall produced by this deplumation, it afterward became erect upon its feet like a man, or appeared in the menacing attitude of what in heraldry is called a lion rampant ; and that finally,
* Sir Isaac Newton, on the principle of a reduced estimate of the reigns of the seven Roman kings, would fix the foundation of Rome to the course of the 38th Olympiad or to some time between the years before Christ 631 and 627. See Chronol. Amend. p. 38, 51–55, 128–130.
* See my Origin of Pagan Idol, bookvi, chap. 2, 4, 5.
however its bestial character might predominate and prevail, a man's heart, as contradistinguished from a beast's heart, was in some extraordinary manner given to it when its imperial career was well nigh completed. As I have never yet met with a satisfactory explanation of the curious history involved in this hieroglyphic, and as in fact no satisfactory explanation can be given without a previous inquiry into events of the most remote antiquity; I shall here, in consequence of my happening to have been undesignedly led to an investigation of those matters, endeavour to supply the deficiency. In absolute strictness of speech, the hieroglyphic of the winged lion is not prophetic; for all the events, which it shadows out with so much minutemess, had occurred prior to the time when Daniel beheld the vision of the four beasts: but, though the present hieroglyphic be properly no more than a prologue or introduction to what is really prophetic, it does not on that account the less demand a careful exposition. The eagle-winged lion, as all are agreed, is the Babylonic or Assyrian Empire: but here expositors usually stop short with some common-place observation, that the lion is the king of beasts and that the eagle is the king of birds; an observation, which throws not the smallest light upon the diversified circumstances, exhibited by the different conditions of the hieroglyphic. 1. In the vision as displayed to Daniel, the lion,