Page images

KAI ATTOKAλV‡IAÇ. (Eph. i. 18.) Hence we may collect, not only that we are invited by the present passage to interest ourselves in the development of the mystery contained in it, but also encouraged by other passages to attempt it.

The object of investigation is "the number of the beast," by the means of calculation. Ynpoc calculus, lapillus; and thus Inpil, signifies to count, calculate, or sum up. Ψηφίζει την δαπανην, (Luke xiv. 28.) where knowledge of the expenditure is sought for by such computation.

The beast, whose number is to be sought, is, as we have shown before, the first beast, whose image is the object of idolatrous worship. And his number seems to be either identified, or nearly connected with his mark (ro xapayμa); and his name, (ver. 17.') This connexion will be seen more clearly by referring to ch. xiv. 11; where the severest punishments are inflicted upon "those who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name." Again, ch. xv. 2, where the faithful servants of Christ are described as having "gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name." In none of these similar passages is there any mention of the second beast or false prophet, and consequently, they who have sought an explanation of the enigma, by attributing the mysterious number to him, have been led into error.


With respect to the methods of interpretation hitherto employed, the first instance that occurs is

1 Observe, in this verse, that the first n, (or,) which appears in the received translation, is not to be found in the best MSS., and is expunged by Griesbach.

The xapayua, or mark, appears to be the name of the beast, expressed in Greek letters, as used either in their literal or numerical acceptation.

that of Irenæus, who, by the assortment of the letters of the Greek alphabet, used numerically, obtained the names of Λατεινος, Ευανθος and Τειταν. He preferred the first of these, but had little or no reliance upon it. His object must have been the idolatrous Roman or Latin empire. Bishop Newton, and many others among the commentators, have adopted this word as involving the discovery required, applying it to the Latin church and the papal hierarchy.

But this mode of calculation has fallen into discredit, by the fact, resulting from experience, that there is no end to the multitude of names which may be composed by such fabrications; and that not only the antichristian chiefs, but the most eminent of our reformers may be, and have been thus designated by their adversaries.

Archdeacon Wrangham has the merit of displaying in a very small compass, a learned and critical view of many attempts in the ancient languages, and by various modes of calculation, to devise names applicable to the mystery of the number of the beast. The facility with which these adaptations are made, has occasioned an infinite number of them. "Scarcely," says he, " has a single controversy started up, in which this accommodating

Iren. adv. Hær. v. 30.

2 The numeral letters are thus assorted by them:

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

number (666) may not be ranged on either side." And we may add, that none of them afford that satisfactory conviction which attends the perfect discovery of an hidden mystery. There is wanting that flash of illumination, that lively sense of having passed from darkness to light, which so delightfully affects us upon the solution of a well-formed enigma. It may therefore be reasonably doubted, whether the true mode of calculation has yet been discovered.

However, the learned Archdeacon has not yet thought proper to relinquish entirely the mode of computation practised by Irenæus, and has presented us with the word Arоorarns, thus acquired. This term will refer equally to the two great apostasies in the East and in the West. But it will be thought too general in its meaning, as is evident from its liability to perversion, by opponents in controversy. The Romanists, for instance, apply this opprobious term to the Reformers, as apostates from their true Catholic Church.



The Lamb on Mount Sion.

CHAP. XIV. ver. 1-5.

1 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.

2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers, harping with their harps:

3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.

4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb.

5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.

THE twelfth and thirteenth chapters have justly engaged a very large share of our attention, from the conviction of the difficulty and importance of their subject. We shall now be enabled to proceed with less hesitation. The language is less enigmatical, and more assimilated to the usual style of holy Scripture besides, it is generally allowed that the subject now before us involves the reformation of religion in the sixteenth century, and the continuation of it to our own times, a course of events fully

exposed in history, and easily compared with the symbols presumed to predict it. But, on the other hand, it must be considered, that this is only a part of the great work of reformation. It is the part intermediate between the secession of the pure and persecuted Christians, during the increasing corruptions of the hierarchal Church, and that which must take place in the progress of future events. The early part of this first period is not without its difficulties, from defects in the history expected to illustrate it. But these difficulties are increased, when we look forward to that more extensive part of the Reformation, so wanted, so ardently desired-which is yet to come. Here we have no history, but must depend principally on the general assurances of divine prophecy, and be very sparing of conjecture, which has been proved to be so fallacious in the hands of some ingenious writers. We must proceed with caution, as it was our endeavour in the eleventh chapter, containing the prophecy of the witnesses; separating, as discreetly as we can, the symbols already fulfilled, from those reserved for a future completion. Mede and Vitringa, two very able commentators, have ventured in some instances upon this dubious ground, with more confidence than I have dared to assume, and may be consulted with perhaps some advantage by the curious inquirer.

Ver. 1-4. The Lamb--on mount Sion, and with him, &c.] The seventh trumpet had already sounded, and a general view of its blissful effects, in restoring the kingdom to the Messiah and his followers, had been afforded. (Ch. xi. 15.) The conflict is now to be expected: but before the battle takes place, the battle array is to be viewed. The enemies of Christ and of his Church, the dragon, the beast, the false prophet, have been exhibited in the

« PreviousContinue »