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would Himself have at once appeared on the scene and put an end to this present state of things. However, it was not so; and, the earth having received into her bosom the heathenism of the dragon, must necessarily be compelled at last to cast it forth ; but the poison having been imbibed, it must be allowed to work itself out, and in so doing gave rise to the great apostasy.
By the waters that the dragon cast forth out of his mouth, we must, I think, understand the barbaric hosts, the tribes of heathen that on all sides came pouring on like a great deluge over the Roman earth when once the barriers of that formerly great empire were destroyed. Heathenism is, to a certain extent, the domain of the dragon; and it would seem, therefore, that one reason for the frequent and often astounding appearances of the barbaric hosts that oppressed the Roman world was, that by their agency the Church of Christ might be swept away.
There cannot, I think, be a doubt that many, if not all, of the socalled festivals and customs of all the churches of Christendom are of heathen origin ; and it is a singular fact that the names of the days of the week are all heathen. Sunday, for instance, is the day of the sun, or of Baal or Moloch; for all these are different forms of worship of the same god, as is, I think, now conclusively established. Easter is supposed by many to be a corruption of the word Astarte, and the very hot-cross buns we use at that time are probably a vestige of the old custom of baking cakes and offering them to the goddess spoken of in Jer. vii. 18, as the “ Queen of heaven." We have now to witness the result of the earth having helped the
The beast here seen to rise up out of the sea, seems to be a compound of the four great beasts in the vision of Daniel, which arise out of the sea ; and this beast, I therefore consider with Alford, to represent the great World Power as assuming different shapes and appearances, according to circumstances. One of the heads of the beast was wounded to death, by which is perhaps meant that one form of this great power was utterly put down; and most likely this means that the Roman Empire was quite destroyed by the irruptions of the barbarians; but at the same time it was marvellously healed ; i.e., in spite of this, the Roman Empire still existed, though in a somewhat different form ; for we know that this was actually the case, and that, notwithstanding the different appearance it presented, the world of the middle ages was substantially the Roman Empire. It is indeed still so; for at present all the European States (except perhaps Russia) are continued on the same lines, so to speak, as the old Roman Empire. The Roman law is still the basis of government, and old Roman customs still survive, at least in their spirit. The Latin language is also still to us the language of science, and is in many, if not most parts, the basis, or substratum, of modern languages. The Roman Empire, in fact, still exists, though it is now divided into several States.
The fact of the Apostle's attention being specially directed to the deadly wound that had been healed, seems to me a further proof that it was under this particular head of the beast that the apostasy would attain its full development. It could scarcely occur under any of the other heads; for we are subsequently told that five of these were fallen, and one was still to come; and I think, therefore, we are justified in supposing that the time at which the vision is now arrived relates to that of the new form of the Roman Empire ; that is, to the middle ages as distinct from the time of the old Roman Empire on the one hand, and to that of modern society on the other.
The seer next beholds another beast coming up out of the earth, and he has two horns like a lamb, and he speaks as a dragon. The fact that this beast arises out of the earth, proves, I think, that he represents the outcome of the poison in the system produced when the earth opened her mouth and swallowed the water cast out of the serpent's mouth. The poison having been imbibed, disease necessarily supervenes; and, as is the case with all diseases, the process of casting it off is attended with more or less of suffering and pain ; and in this case the disorder produced and the corresponding suffering, are alike dreadful. The evil, whatever it be that is
, typified, comes out of the earth (the professing Church). It does not, like the first beast, arise from the sea, but it really exhibits the deadly poison of the serpent, working in connection with the Church. I incline myself to take Alford's view of this two-horned beast, viz., that while the first beast represents the Pagan, or earthly persecuting power, the second represents the sacerdotal persecuting power.
“He exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him.” The word “ before ” does not mean before in time, but is literally, s “ in his presence; " i.e., the first beast was looking on approving, and apparently assisting and encouraging. The world power and the ecclesiastical power were acting together; and when that is the case they are wonderfully like Simeon and Levi, and "instruments of cruelty are in their habitation." When the ecclesiastical and the secular power unite, who can withstand them? They then become a ghastly mockery of the “ kings and priests” who are finally to rule; but they also become a type, as it were, of the irresistible power that will hereafter be wielded by the saints; in so far as they show us what enormous influence the priesthood has when united with the royal favour. Thus our Lord could say, when in His person the two were united, “ All power is given to Me in heaven and in earth."
“They should make an image to the beast." Though, doubtless, by the word “image” is meant that the jurisdiction and power of the first beast should be revived under another form, yet there seems to me to be also, and perhaps chiefly, a reference to Nebuchadnezzar's image. Both in the Greek of the Revelation
and in the Septuagint the word for image is sikūv, and there are many reasons which seem to show that the image set up by Nebuchadnezzar was a type of this “image of the beast.” For, referring to the account in the Book of Daniel, we find that Nebuchadnezzar had set up a golden image, which all peoples, nations and languages were to worship. Precisely similar is the language of the Apocalypse, as to all peoples and nations worshipping this image, except those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life, just as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, refused to worship Nebuchadnezzar's image. There is, doubtless, much truth in the supposition that Nebuchadnezzar had been struck with Daniel's interpretation of his first dream, and it had been working in his mind, until he conceived that, as he was "this head of gold,” he would set up a golden image of himself, and cause all his subjects to worship it. There was, perhaps, also in his mind a distorted and unauthorised idea that by so doing he was in some way or other, honouring the God of Daniel. Just so in the Romish and other churches : there has been set up an image of the external power of the Roman Empire, and the false idea has been entertained that, by worshipping this "image," the world would be speedily brought into subjection to God.
But beyond this, it is very remarkable that the number of the beast was 666, and this image of Nebuchadnezzar was a multiple of six cubits in every dimension. It is impossible to suppose that there is not some connection between the two sets of figures. Again, exactly as Nebuchadnezzar threatened those who would not worship that they should be cast into a “ burning fiery furnace,"
“ so has the ecclesiastical power threatened those who would not conform to the Church that they should also be cast into the “burning fiery furnace ” of hell. That this and this alone has been the great support of the hierarchy everywhere, it is needless and impossible to deny; and I incline to think that this doctrine is one of the marks of the two-horned beast.
“And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand or in their foreheads, and that no man might buy or sell save he that had the mark of the beast." In other words, the power of this beast, acting in conjunction with the power bestowed by the dragon, was such, that those who did not in some way acknowledge this power, were debarred from all the pleasures of civilised life, and were completely isolated from their fellow-creatures; and, therefore, necessarily exposed to great misery, if not to actual persecution. How completely this is a mark of ecclesiastical power it is unnecessary to state, for all history proves that priestly power is, and must be, cruel and intolerant. Undoubtedly during the long night of the middle ages, the world was completely prostrate beneath the awful sway of this beast from the earth ; though, through the mercy of God, many were enabled to escape and flee into the wilderness from its power.
In the rise of Mahommedanism, a refuge began to be afforded to the people of God; for, wherever the followers of Mahomet appeared, there, at least, they had comparative peace, inasmuch as they were permitted to exist on payment of tribute. So far as appears, cruel as were often the Mahommedan conquerors, they were a decided improvement on the Christian persecuting body. In Spain, for
, instance, I think I trace the merciful over-ruling providence of God in permitting so large a part of that country to be so long under the rule of the Caliphs; for it was not till they were removed that the Inquisition, the most fearful institution ever established by man, could arise to power. In the Eastern church, again, no institution similar to the Inquisition existed during the power of Islam. It was only where Catholicism had uninterrupted sway that the two-horned beast was permitted to show its true character.
Whether there be any distinction between the mark of the beast, the name of the beast, or the number of his name, I cannot determine ; nor have I any explanation to give of the number 666, other
I than that it alludes to the image of Nebuchadnezzar. Among many suppositions on this point, one seems to me to have some truth in it, viz., χριστιάνοι ξενοι σταύρω (χξστ) “ Christians strangers to the cross.' However, all explanations are more or less unsatisfactory. I incline to think that, while there may be distinctions between the mark of the beast, the name of the beast, and the number of his name, they all in reality point to different forms of the same falsehood, viz., that the Lord was now the ruler of the world, and that the Church was His representative. This is not true : Our Lord has not taken to Himself His great power, and reigned ; and, therefore, all attempts to set up the kingdom without the King must, of necessity, fail. “ Arise ye and depart, for this is not your rest,” are still the words spoken to the servants of Christ; and they were never encouraged by our Lord to hope for any real peace until His return. In all cases the worship of the beast implies more or less of worship of physical force, as a means of procuring the submission of the world; and it is precisely this that God will not let us use.
GOSPEL MIRACLES AND THE JEWS.
No. II. WHEN
HEN this theistic nation, the Jews, were brought face to face
with the alleged miracles of Jesus, they did not suppose them the result of Satanic agency, but ascribed them to Divine power, albeit the most influential and learned among them were sadly perplexed to account how it could possibly be that Divine power should be put forth in apparent attestation of one who was, in their eyes, a blasphemer of God.
Accordingly, Mill's inferences from what he supposes to have been the popular idea of Satanic agency on miracle, are contradicted by fact. He tells us that, among the Jews in Christ's time, no one
thought it worth while to contradict" any of His alleged miracles or those of His apostles, and that it was believed that they all might be quite true, and yet their truth “proved nothing ” in His favour. If it were supposed that Satanic power was equal to that of God in the working of miracles, Mill's inferences would be almost, if not altogether, justified. If it were not supposed equal, then those inferences could not be logically drawn. In fact, they
“No one,” Mr. Mill tells us, in the time of Christ, “thought it worth while to contradict any alleged miracle" of his (237). There was never a more unfounded statement! It is indeed a most remarkable fact that, with one exception, no one ever did deny any alleged miracle of Christ. This fact is allowed by Mill. Of all the works of Christ, claimed by Him as miracles attesting His Divine mission, not one was attempted to be denied in His day ! The blind received their sight, the lame walked, the lepers were cleansed, and the deaf heard, the dead were raised up, and every imaginable malady healed by a touch or a word, and not one voice was raised among the innumerable spectators, comprising every rank and calling and shade of opinion among a very intelligent nation, that a single one of those works had not been wrought when and where and how it was asserted by the friends of Christ to have been wrought. That is certainly a most wonderful fact. How is it to be accounted for ?
Not, beyond any question, on the ground that “no one thought it worth while to contradict.” The greatest, the most powerful, the most learned, the acutest parties in the Jewish nation, did “ think it worth while” to contradict the miracles of Christ. These parties, with their headquurters in Jerusalem, had ramifications in every town and village where the works of Christ were wrought. There was never a people more inter-connected than the Jewish people, and especially their religious and ruling classes, in the days of Christ. The Pharisee and Sadducee, and Scribe and Lawyer had their eyes open everywhere, and their ears ready to catch every sound and whisper. These powerful parties did think it worth their while to contradict the miracles of Christ, for they examined them narrowly for this very purpose.
There was never a closer scrutiny in any case than that of the Pharisees into the cure of the blind man, as related in John ix. They examined himself, his acquaintances, his parents, to see if by any possibility they could deny the reality of a work that they felt, if true, to be a work of God. It was certainly not from indifference, but from their inability, that they did not “contradict” this miracle. Again, on the reported raising of Lazarus, so far were the Jews from thinking it not worth while to contradict it that the chief