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Sixth Edition, 1915
By Dr. John Thomas (first edition written 1861)



Chapter 13

Section 2 Subsection 24

The Ascending of the Beast Out of the Earth




The originating and establishing, which constitute the ascending, rising, or coming up of a dominion, are a work of power, conflict, conquest, and of time. The commencement of such a work is preceded by what is now commonly styled a situation; or concurrence of circumstances and agents, which, when a certain impetus is imparted to them impels them in a certain course to results, neither contemplated nor capable of being controlled. This obtains in regard to the ascending of the Two-Horned Beast out of the earth. The circumstances of the time, the questions agitated, and the ambitions of the leading spirits of the day, acting and reacting upon one another, was the situation which originated and ultimately developed the dominion symbolized by Daniel and John respectively.

The Eighth Century had its Roman Question as well as this so called "Enlightened Nineteenth;" and Italy, then as now, was the arena of superstition, papal intrigue, political ambitions and war. Part of it, afterwards absurdly termed "St. Peter's Patrimony," was included in the Exarchate of Ravenna, which belonged to the Eastern Roman Dragon of Constantinople, whose emperor Leo Isauricus, was sovereign of Rome, and therefore master of the Bishop of Rome; but by the decree of Phocas, A.D. 607, or 608, the chief of all the bishops, and Head of all the churches of the Apostasy, which was territorially coextensive with the dominions symbolized by John's Beast of the Earth and Sea. The rest of Italy was occupied by the kingdom of Lombardy, and the rising Republic of Venice. The Bishop of Rome was as little able to protect himself then against these potentates, as he is now against Victor Emmanuel and the Red Republicans; nor was the Emperor of the East able to protect him, if he had been willing, more efficiently than the Austrian of A.D. 1866. He was in a very uncomfortable position, being liable to a change of masters at very short notice; neither of whom were at all congenial to his mind as the Infallible Judge of heretics, and their, to him, perverse abominations. A united Italy, and Rome for its capital, was the cry of the Lombards, or Langebards, (Long Beards) and their warlike kings. These Bearded Revolutionists wanted Rome, but the Eastern emperors did not want to part with it. It was a city of the Dragon dominion, and they intended to keep it; and' to preserve it, or rather deliver it from idolatry and the worship of demonials - ta daimonia kai eidola (ch. 9:20) if they could. They had recovered possession of it when they conquered the Seventh Head therein enthroned; and they had no idea of allowing an Eighth Head to establish itself upon the Seven Hills; much less would they consent, that the Lombard Horn should make it the capital of its dominion. The Bishop of Rome also was opposed to the Long Beards (and he has never liked to see Long Beards about him since, remembering the trouble they gave him in the eighth century; hence, at this day he forbids "his children" to wear beards, inasmuch also as it is the symbol of revolution, and a desire for the possession of Rome to the prejudice of his interests,) as he preferred subjection to a master afar off in Constantinople, than to a prying and troublesome supervisor at hand. He had been in this case under the Gothic kings, when they ruled as the Seventh Head in Rome. But it was by no means to his liking. He would prefer independence of all governments; but as the time had not quite come for that, he would rather be subject to Constantinople, than to the Lombards at the door.

Thus far in this exposition we have seen that Italy, the Heaven of the gods of the Roman system, experienced a variety of fortunes after it lost its ancient masters, and before it fell, as we shall see, into the hands of the founder of the Two-Horned Episcopal dominion. In the sounding of the fourth wind-trumpet it was entirely subdued by the Herulian Goths, who came from the extremity of the Black Sea. They held it for a short time, and were succeeded by the Ostrogoths, or Seventh Head. These acknowledged the Wounded Imperial Head, restricted to the Eastern and Illyrian Thirds, and still reigning in Constantinople, as their superior in rank, but not in jurisdiction. The Seventh Head was at last subdued by Belisarius and Narses, the generals of Justinian, the reigning emperor of the Wounded Sixth Head, who having "plucked up by the roots" the Vandal Horn of the Sea Monster, had the pleasure of uniting Italy and Africa once more to the Eastern Roman, or Greek empire; but not of so healing the Gothic sword-wound as to restore the city Rome to its former imperial rank among the cities of the empire. This pleasure was reserved, as we shall see, for a great conqueror, the influence of whose victories is felt in the constitution of Europe to this day. The Western Empire, which took its rise as a separate State on the death of Theodosius, A. D. 395' was wholly subverted by Odoacer, the king of the Heruli; and Rome, its capital, was now in the middle of the eighth century, a second-rate city, the residence of a mere duke, and an ambitious and turbulent prelate, called the Universal Bishop, and subject to the authority of the Eastern emperor's viceroy, styled the Exarch, whose seat of government was in Ravenna, near the Adriatic, and 117 miles distant from Rome.
Soon after the subversion of the Seventh Ostrogothic Head, a great part of Italy was seized by Alboin, king of the Lombards, who made Pavia the seat of government. Autharis, a successor, embraced the catholic superstition about A.D. 586, in its Arian form, which was highly offensive to the Universal Bishop; who could have no more fellowship with him, than Pius IX. with Victor Emmanuel, the modern king of Lombardy, who lies under the Papal ban of excommunication for coveting his neighbor's goods. Liberty of conscience, so odious to the papal mind, was allowed under all the Lombard kings; and Rotharis was so moderate and indulgent, that during his reign, most cities of Italy had two bishops, one Trinitarian, and the other Arian. But king Grimoald, about A.D. 668, influenced by the bishop of Bergamo, renounced the tenets of Arius. His successors followed his example; so that Arianism was in a short time forsaken by the Lombard nation. Grimoald was succeeded by Luitprand, whose great qualities were in some measure obscured by his unbounded ambition. Not satisfied with the extensive dominions left him by his predecessors, like Victor Emmanuel, he formed the design of making himself sole master of Italy, which, of course, necessitated the conquest of the Exarchate, and the expulsion of the imperial authority from the country.

This project was favored A.D. 726, by the edict of Leo. Isauricus, then emperor of Constantinople, where theological disputes had long mingled with affairs of State. He zealously prohibited the worship of images; ordering all the statues to be broken in pieces, and the paintings in the Trinitarian Bazaars of Guardian Saints, whose worship also was forbidden, to be pulled down and, burnt. The populace, whose devotion extended no further than such objects, and the monks and secular priests interested in supporting the mummery, were so highly provoked at this innovation, that they publicly revolted in many places; and in Italy swore to live and die in defence of their idols. In these times of extreme ignorance and barbarism the dispute about image and picture worship was a very grave and vital question with both Trinitarians and Arians; the solution of which led to very important and mighty results. In view of these, I have thought it would be in place to present the reader, in a condensed form and as a distinct section, what history supplies upon this subject.




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