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Having taken this view of “ the great harlot,* who, like the little horn of Daniel, is seen seated among the ten kings or kingdoms, into which the latter end of the Roman beast, the western part of the Roman empire, was divideil; who sitteth supreme over many nations, directing the civil power, corrupting by idolatry and impure religion, and rioting in the blood of Saints and Martyrs; whose mystical name is Babylon, the mother of harlots, and of the abominations of the earth; who, though she corrupt and intoxicate the rulers of the western nations, is at length deserted and destroyed by them; who is, lastly, that great city which had dominion, at the time of the vision, over the kings of the earth ;-we shall find little difficulty in applying it to history.
Rome, seated on seven mountains, and ruling over the kings of the earth, is clearly the scene on which the harlot acts her part. This is the city called by the fathers of the Church, in nearly the same expression, την βασιλευσαν πολιν, την πολιν βασιλιδα *. It has been observed, that on an ancient coin, Rome is symbolically represented as a woman seated on a lion f. And this picture of her was so well known, and found to be so consonant to this prophecy, that the fathers, froin Tertullian to Augustine, generally understood Roine to be designated under the emblem of this harlot Modern interpreters could do no
* See Euseb. Hist. Eccl. lib. ii. c. 13.-She is Babylon ; Saint Peter, as it were, by the direction of the same Holy Spirit, fixes this title upon her. See 1 Pet. v. 13. with the notes of Whitby ; also Euseb. Hist. Eccl. lib. ii. c. 15. with the note of Valesius upon the passage.
+ Vitringa, p. 757. I Babylon, apud Joannem nostrum, Romanæ urbis figura .est, proindè et magna, et regno superbæ, et sanctorum debellatricis. Tertull. adv. Jud. p.217. 5
otherwise than follow them. All are generally agreed, that this prophecy is of Rome. But a question arises ; whether this city, so designated, be the pagan and imperial, or the modern and ecclesiastical Rome. The writers of the church of Rome have contended that she is the former : and they have received considerable assistance from certain Protestant divines; from Grotius and Hammond. But the attentive reader, perusing the comments of those learned writers, will find great deficiency of correspondence between the symbols, and the objects in history which they have supposed them to represent. Pagan Rome became Christian, before the beast, as exhibited in this vision, was completed in his seven forms of government, and had divided his power among the ten kings. Pagan Rome did not beguile and corrupt, but compel and destroy. She permitted, as Bishop Newton observes, the conquered nations to continue the religion of their ancestors. Instead of corrupting others, she was herself corrupted by foreign superstitions. The Babylon of the Apocalypse is a church, or religious society : for she stands opposed to the New Jerusalem. She is a corrupt church, opposed to the pure one; and this cannot be said of Pagan Rome. So, the harlot on the beast stands also contrasted to the woman in the wilderness. They are both of them Churches; but one of them is an apostate church; not the modest, pure, suffering Church, which was seen in the wilderness; but that proud, gaudy, drunken, bloody, corrupted, and corrupting society, whose antitype can be found no. where in history but in the papal hierarchy. Pagan Rome therefore, though seated on the beast, can, by no just interpretation, be deemed the harlot. Besides, P P 2
the beast, on which Pagan Rome was seated, is not the identical beast on which we lave seen the harlot
. It is indeed the Roman empire ; but not in that
period, which has been clearly discriminated in the t beast carrying the barlot. This is the Roman empire
in its last stage; when it appears divided into ten toes *; into ten kingdoms. No such division is seen in history while Rome continued pagan. It is that period of the beast, when having received an appa: rently mortal wound, by Christianity having become the religion of the empire, he is again restored to life; and adding the sanctions of religious, to civil power, domineers over the pure Christian Church.
This interpretation is not new : it is that, in which almost all the Protestant commentators have concurred. If I have added any thing to the evidence by which it is established, it is by pointing out the difference of the beasts, represented in the saith and xviith chapters; the one extending his dominion over the whole Roman empire, eastern as well as western ; the other confined to the western dominion, and its ten kingiloms; tlie former producing the lamb-like beast, the false prophet, or antichrist entire, that is, having two horns, one springing forth in the Mahometan or eastern, the other in the papal or western, apostacy; the latter, being a part of the former, bears only one horn of Anticlırist, yet that the most eminent. For, the western horn of Antichrist, appearing in the very centre of that part of the world, which bore' the Christian name ; which styled itself the Catholic Church; which denied the title of Christian to any who should dare to dissent from its decrces; required a more particular description. That
description has been now examined ; and the cliaracters presented to view, can apparently accord with no other than papal Rome. The false prophet, as represented with his two horns, may appear to bear as strong a resemblance to the Mahometan, as to the pa. pal apostacy *: but this horn or branch now represented under the symbol of the harlot, belongs exclusively to the papal usurpation.
The arguments which are used by the Roinanists to evade this application of the prophecy, are of little weight. Those produced by some eminent Protestants, by Grotius and Hammond, have been frequently and most satisfactorily refuted : nor do there remain at this time any which may seem to require notice, excepting that, which has been triumphantly advanced by Bossuet, the eloquent Bishop of Meaux.The woman (say's he) must of necessity represent pagan, and not Christian Rome; for, to accord with the former, she is properly named as a harlot; but to agree with the latter, she should have been called a faithless spouse, an adulteress t:- To this objection Bishop Hurd, with equal acuteness has answered, that the term adulteress could not be applied to Babylon, which had never entered into marriage contract with the Deity. And yet Babylon, he observes, on account of her enormous idolatry, was the fittest of all types to represent the corrupt Roman church. But the answer does not yet appear to take away the force of the objection. It scems necessary to shew, that the term Harlor is here applied to PAPAL ROME
* Indeed it very strongly expresses both : see notes on ch, xii. p. 298.
+ L'Apocalypse, &c. par Messire J. B. Bossuet, Evêque de Nieaux.
with strict propriéty, and according to the just analogy of Scriptural language : and that the name of adulteress would not be more proper. And this, as I conceive, it is not difficult to shew : for, we can produce other churches, which had undoubtedly as fair a claim, as the church of Rome can pretend, to be called the betrothed, the espoused of God; which yet upon their apostacy, or idolatrous defection, have, in the language of Scripture, been denominated harlots. Such were the churches of Judah, and of the ten tribes in Samaria, whose legitimate claim to the title of the betrothed, or espoused, will not be disputed. These churches were undeniably in that very situa
tion, in which the Bishop of Meaux represents the +
Church of Rome to be, when he asserts that on account of that situation, the name of harlot, and of Babylon cannot with propriety be applied to her. And yet in Scripture, these churches are denominated harlots, when idolatry is laid to their charge. Their crime is called whoredom and fornication, very seldom adultery *. And thus, that term which, in the mouth of Divine Wisdom, was properly applied to the espoused Churches of Judah and of Israel, when rebellious and apostate, is certainly applied with equal propriety to the Church Christian, when she appears in the same character; when she is convicted of the same crime. And a reason
And a reason may be assigned, why such apostate Churches are described in Scriptural language under the name of harlots, rather than of adulteresses. When they forsake God, he disowns them; they are no longer esteemed as married; they are considered as put away,” by that great Being who
. See Isaiah i. 21; lxiv. 5–8; Ixii. 4. 5. Jer, iii, throughout; xxi, 32. xvi. throughout; Ezek, xvii. Hos. i.