« PreviousContinue »
reign of Charles the Fifth.* It was the secular government of France, which revoked the edict of Nantz, and extirpated or drove into cruel exile the protestants of that kingdom. It was the secular power of the empire which slew the witnesses. Power was given to the beast over all the nations and kindreds and tongues of the Roman earth; he reigned over them with absolute authority, either through his last head or his ten horns.t
We are next informed that all that dwell on the “ earth shall worship him, whose names are not writ“ ten in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the « foundation of the world.” To worship a creature of any kind, in the language of the New Testament, means the placing our hearts and affections upon it, more than upon God; and to worship the beast, therefore signifies the placing an implicit faith on his dictates in spiritual matters, and obeying them rather than the law of God.
“ If any man have an ear, let him hear. He that “ leadeth into captivity, shall go into captivity : he “ that killeth with the sword, must be killed with the “sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the c. saints."
The emphatic and solemn warning which is given at the beginning of this clause, “ If any man have
an ear, let him ear,” has relation to what is
* This fact, of 50,000 Protestants having been murdered in the Netherlands in the reign of Charles V, I have taken from Fra Paolo Sarpi. But at the moment when these pages are sent to the press, I have not access to his work to cite the particular place where the circumstance is related. For the authorities on which I mention the other facts, see p. 14.
† Faber, in loco.
declared afterwards, that the vengeance of God shall at length overtake this monster, and that he shall go into captivity and perish by the sword, thus coming to an awful end, according to the just law of retaliation. This is to be effected by the seven vials of wrath, the consummation of which will be when the Almighty Word of God shall tread the wine-press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God in the awful day of Armageddon. What is added respecting the faith and patience of the saints, seems to be immediately connected with the preceding clause which declares the manner of the destruction of the beast; and perhaps it is intended to signify, that though the hour of the destruction of the beast will be a time of great triumph to the church of God, yet it will likewise be a season of trial to the faithful, when their faith and patience will in a very particular manner be called into exercise, so as to distinguish those who are true saints from mere professors. In confirmation of which idea, we shall meet with a similar clause in the following chapter of the Apocalypse, relating, as I shall endeavour to show, to the same period ; and it may also be observed, that the solemn warning of our Lord himself, immediately before his coming at the great day of Armageddon, “ Behold I come
as a thief, blessed is he that watcheth and “ keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and
they see his shame," seems to imply that this awful time shall be one of a peculiarly trying nature to true Christians.
THE TWO-HORNED BEAST OF THE EARTH, AND THE
AŅd I beheld another beast coming up out of “ the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb, and “he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the
power of the first beast before him, and causeth “the earth, and them which dwell therein, i to “worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was 66 healed.
And he doeth great wonders, so that he “ maketh fire to come down from heaven on the “ earth in the sight of men; and deceiveth them “ that dwell on the earth, by the means of those “ miracles which he had power to do in the sight of " the beast, saying to them that dwell on the earth, “ That they should make an image to the beast “ which had the wound by a sword, and did live. “ And he had power to give life unto the image of “ the beast, that the image of the beast should both
speak and cause, that as many as would not worship “ the image of the beast should be killed. And he " caused 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, or " the name of the beast, or the number of his
name. Here is wisdom, let him that hath under
standing count the number of the beast; for it is “the number of a man, and his number is six hun“dred threescore and six."*
* Rev. xiii. 11.
The second beast, coming up out of the earth, is evidently an ecclesiastical character, and he is the same personage as is afterwards called the false prophet. His lamb-like horns show that he assumes the appearance of a minister of the Lamb of God; but his speech, like a dragon, discovers him in reality to be a minister of the old serpent. This beast, as Mede and Mr. Faber rightly judge, is the papacy, i.e. the pope and his clergy. This opinion may be confirmed by many other authorities, “The
former beast,” says Dr. Wall, “represents the “secular power of the Roman empire (as it was
now in the ten horns), and this the pontifical.” " The second beast,” says Dr. Cressener, is a succession of ecclesiastical persons having the supreme power in ecclesiastical affairs." *
The first beast arises out of the sea, i. e. out of the multitude of the nations of the Roman world in a state of tumult and confusion; for this is sometimes the symbolical signification of the sea. But the second beast grows up (as it were) silently out of the earth, by degrees and unheeded.
The second beast exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him; by which is intended, not the political authority, though that was often also wielded by priests, but the power which the first beast bad to make war with, and overcome the saints. This power was in fact exercised by the papacy before, or in presence of the secular powers of the Roman empire, i. e. by permission of the several princes, in their dominions, and with their authority. Accordingly we are informed by history, that the papal
* Quoted by the author of Illustrations of Prophecy, p. 66.
power was the chief instigator of the persecutions of the faithful disciples of Christ within the limits of the Roman empire, during the twelve hundred and sixty years.
He causeth the earth to worship the first beast, by giving his support to the tyrannical power of the beast in matters of conscience, History shows that the support of the civil and ecclesiastical authorities to each other during the reign of the papal power was mutual; and in fact, Charlemagne, who in his own person revived the empire of the west, was crowned by the pope, who had a great share, and acted a conspicuous part, in that remarkable transaction, thus causing the inhabitants of the earth to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
" He doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire “ to come down from heaven on the earth," &c. In interpreting the language of this mystical book, we ought never to lose sight of its highly symbolical nature. Fire, in this passage, may denote the fire of persecution, which the pope and his clergy caused to come down from the symbolical heaven, or the civil
government, to destroy their enemies, all who disputed their authority.*
however, * Pope Adrian VI. who succeeded to the Pontificate in the year 1522, while the Reformation was yet in its infancy, was desirous, in order to deprive the Protestants of the powerful arguments which they derived from the corruption of the church, to introduce some reform in the Romish court. On this occasion, many reasons were offered by his counsellors to dissuade him from such an attempt. Cardinal Francis Soderini, bishop of Preneste, made use of the following arguments, which I quote from Paolo Sarpi, the Catholic writer already mentioned : “ Il lui dit nettement qu'il n'y avoit nulle
esperance de confondre ni de dissiper les Lutheriens par la reforma