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mountains and ten horns of the latter Roman empire are fitly attributed to Satan, because during the period of 1260 years, and perhaps beyond it, he makes use of the Roman empire, its capital city, and ten kings or kingdoms, as the instruments of his successful attack on the Christian Church. Joseph Mede, when he had no favourite hypothesis immediately in view, clearly saw and acknowledged the obvious interpretation of this symbol; and, in one of his learned sermons, has justly described the parties engaged in this spiritual conflict : 1. Satan, and his angels ; 2. The woman and her seed. If the Roman emperors are at all concerned in this warfare, it is only as subministrant agents of this archenemy of the Church. The dragon therefore
appears to me, as he did to Venerable Bede, eleven centuries ago, to be “ Diabolus, potentiâ terreni regni armatus.". The worldly agents, whom he principally employs to carry on the warfare thus begun, will be described in the ensuing chapter.
If the ingenious Joseph Mede has thus misled his followers in expounding the symbol of the fiery dragon, we may attribute the error partly to his overlooking the obvious and scriptural meaning, in the search of one which might give greater scope to his invention ; and partly to a desire, which seems constantly to have possessed him, of finding the apocalyptic prophecies fulfilled in the fates of nations, and especially of those of the Roman empire. Another instance of this, and not less glaring, has occurred in this same chapter.
1 Mede's Works, p. 236.
2 Bedæ Com. in loc. ;—" the Devil, armed with the power of worldly dominion."
The holy Child, prophetically destined' to “ have the nations for his inheritance, and the utmost parts of the world for his possession, sitting upon the throne of his Father and in the midst of that throne, and exercising universal rule with an iron or powerful sceptre,” is evidently our Lord Jesus Christ, and can be no other. Mede and Bishop Newton admit it in the proper and primitive sense, (see their comments, ad locum ;) “ But,” says the bishop, “ Christ, who is himself invisible in the heavens, ruleth visibly in Christian magistrates, princes, and emperors.
And “ here Constantine was particularly intended, for whose life the dragon Galerius laid many snares, but he providentially escaped them all,—was caught up to the throne of God, i. e. was advanced to the imperial throne, called the throne of
That our Lord Christ has, or needs any such representative on earth, endued with his vicarial power, will not be allowed by any well-instructed Protestant. Mede calls Constantine the mystical Christ; but gives no proof of his being in any respect typical of the Son of God. The types of Christ had long ago been superseded by the great antitype himself in full and glorious perfection. There is indeed no argument that can justify this deification of Constantine, for such would be his assumption to the throne of God. The argument which Bishop Newton brings forward, that in Rom. xiii. I, “the powers that be are ordained of God,” does not imply any special power or rule conferred on any particular king or emperor, such as Constantine, but a general power granted to all magistrates, provided it be free from abuse.3 Nor does the text admit of
i Ps. ii; Rev. ii. 26, 27; xix. 15. 2 Ad solium Romanum subvéctus.—Mede's Works, p. 494. 3 See Article of Religion, xxxviii. Of the civil magistrates.
such special designation, (Rev. ii. 26, 27,) though quoted with this view; for the power over the nations is given to “ him that overcometh and keepeth my works (says our Lord) unto the end." This is a general description of a faithful and pure Christian, and has been already explained as such in the notes on
passage. The reader also may be referred to chap. vii. 13, and the observations upon it, where he will see the results of the freedom from persecution conferred upon the Christians by the favour of Constantine ; for from that period may be dated those corruptions in the Church, and that relaxation of genuine Christian doctrine and virtue, which opened the way for the antichristian domination, as prophetically symbolized in the subsequent chapters. In these, the conflict between the dragon and the Church of Christ is continued, by the former bringing into view his aiders and abettors. So far as this twelfth chapter, the warfare is carried on without such particular instruments or agents on either side.
The wild Beast from the Sea.
CHAP. xii. ver. 18; xiii, 1-10.
18 And I stood upon the sand of the sea,
| And I saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion:
and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?
5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things, and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.
6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
9 If any man have an ear, let him hear.
10 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 saints.
Ch. xii. ver. 18. And I stood upon the sand of the sea.] Έσταθην, not έσταθη, appears to be the true reading.' The scene is now changed, and the prophet is so stationed as to behold it. It had been removed from the earth and sea, where the angel of the tenth chapter had begun to disclose the fortunes of the Church in the western kingdoms of the Gentiles; it had been removed to heaven, to show the prime Mover of all the warfare. Both the combatants were of heavenly extraction, and had fought in heaven. These conflicts therefore were first described; and the scene was changed to accommodate to them. But the battle, which had been begun in heaven, is now continued on earth ; and is to be brought to its conclusion under the seventh trumpet. Therefore, before the final conflict, wherein
1 See the lect. var. in Griesbacli.
the heavenly leader will again appear, the combatants on earth are also to be exhibited ; first, those who continue the warfare on behalf of the dragon ; then, those who engage on the part of the woman, or Church. Accordingly, the scene is again opened upon earth, and at the brink of the sea; because a formidable agent of the dragon, or satan, is to arise from that quarter. (Ch. xi. 7.)
Ch. xiii. ver. 1. And I saw a wild beast rising up out of the sea.] The sea, in prophetic language, signifies in general, the heathen world;' numerous and powerful armies of the Gentiles, marching against the people of God, are figuratively represented by the stormy waves of the sea. Thus the ascent of the wild beast out of the sea, seems to signify his rise in worldly power, and probably also from the western Gentiles, who are more especially represented under this symbol. The four wild beasts of the prophet Daniel, representing so many successive tyrannies which overran the earth, are described, all of them, as ascending from the sea. There is a very striking resemblance between the wild beast of the Apocalypse and those of this prophet. It will be useful to exhibit them together: and it will be done most effectually in the Greek. The translation of Daniel into that language appears to be very close to the original, as given in Mr. Wintle's version :
Dan. vii. 2-15. Θηρια μεγαλα 'Ανεβαινον εκ της θαλασσης 1. Ως λεαινα"
η στομα λαλουν (orig. a lion.) ) Meyada.
Rev. xiii, 1–18; xix. 20; xx. 4. Θηριον-εξουσιαν μεγαλην. . 'Ανεβαινον εκ της θαλασσης.
“Ως στομα λεοντος. .
1 See note, ch. viii. 7, 8.
? Is. xvii. 12, 13; Psalms Ixv. 7: Ixxxix. 9, 10; xciii, 3, 4; Ezek. xxvi. 3, 7. See also note, ch. i. 14, 15.