« VorigeDoorgaan »
these claims been properly respected, it had never entered the minds of the rulers of any nation that all the people within certain geographical boundaries, should be compelled to worship God in a given way!
The blasphemies of this beast are directed not only against the 66 name," but against "the tabernacle of God, and them that dwell in heaven," or his celestial attendants. The very saints and angels before the throne are by him represented as rebels against God, by receiving that homage which is due to him, and participating in their abominations. The church of God on earth, relatively considered, or as being his "tabernacle," possesses a sacred character. If any man destroy or defile it, as Antiochus did that of the Jews, him will God destroy. What then must be the guilt contracted by those persecuting powers who, under the pretence of extirpating heresy, have reproached the living God, and done every thing in their power to drive the religion of the Bible out of the world!
The time allotted for the continuance of this beast is" forty and two months." A day being here put for a year, it is the same period as the "thousand two hundred and threescore days" in which the witnesses were to prophesy in sackcloth, and the woman to continue in the wilderness.
The war which it was " given him to make with the saints," is the same as that which he is said to have made against the witnesses. Chap. xi. 7. It is that continued series of persecutions which during that part of the 1260 years which has already elapsed, he has been carrying on against the followers of Christ.
As the beast had assumed the place of God, so the multitude consented to treat him as the sovereign lord of conscience, and to be of that religion which he required. In describing this unworthy compliance, however, the Holy Spirit takes care to except "those whose names were written in the Lamb's book of life;" thus branding the idolaters with the black mark of reprobation. Such language wears a terrible aspect towards those who enter into the abominations of antichrist, and persevere therein; but a pleasing one towards the chosen of God, who in the worst of times maintain their allegiance to Christ. Ver. 8.
The account of this secular beast, (which from its character of supporting the popish hierarchy may be denominated papal,) here closes with a few words by way of solemn warning." 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 faith of the saints." The persecutor shall soon be persecuted, and the destroyer destroyed; and this not only in the world to come, but even in this world Meanwhile, let the saints know that this is the season for the trial of their patience, and of their faith; the one to bear up under the persecutions of their enemies, and the other to keep in view the crown of life before them. Ver. 9, 10.
THE THIRD GENERAL DESCRIPTION, CONTINUED; OR, THE BEAST
WITH TWO HORNS LIKE A LAMB.
And I beheld another beast, coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. 12 And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein, to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. 13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
14. And deceiveth them that dunell 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. 15 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.
The former of these beasts we have considered as designed to symbolize the Roman empire under its last head, or that secular government which, in connexion with the ten horos or kingdoms of Europe, supported popery through all its foul and bloody deeds ; but here arises another beast, diverse from the former, yet acting in concert with him. Daniel, when describing the fourth or Ro. man beast, speaks of a little horn which should grow up as it were
а insensibly among the ten horns, and displace three of them. John says nothing of this little horn of Daniel, and Daniel is equally
silent about this second beast of John: but from the character given to them both, they appear to be one and the same, namely, that ecclesiastical power which was to co-exist with the secular, and both assist and be assisted by it.
This beast is described as "rising out of the earth," in which particular it is distinguished from the other, which "rose out of the sea." For a beast to rise out of the sea is for an empire to rise out of the perturbed state of things in the world, and such was the empire before described: but for one to rise out of the earth is for a power to grow up insensibly, like a weed in a garden, out of the established order of things. Such was popery..
"And he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon." This perfectly answers to that affectation of Christian meekness, accompanied in reality by the spirit and doctrine of the wicked one. On one occasion it can be the servant of servants; on another the deposer of kings, and disposer of empires.
"He exerciseth all the power of the first beast, before, or in the sight of him ;" "He is (says Bishop NEWTON) the prime minister, adviser, and mover, of the first or secular beast. He holdeth imperium in imperio, an empire within an empire; claimeth a temporal authority as well as a spiritual; hath not only the principal direction of the temporal powers, but often engageth them in his service, and enforceth his canons and decrees with the sword of the civil magistrate.
"He causeth men to worship the first beast." As the secular authority invested the ecclesiastical with power and riches and honours, so in return, the ecclesiastical, by consenting that Christianity should become an engine of state policy, and conscience itself be subjected to its interests, transferred that homage to man which was due only to the eternal God. It is this ecclesiastical influence that has constituted the European nations a continuation of the old Roman empire. It is the only bond which for ages has held them together, so as to render them one great antichristian beast. Ver. 12.
He is next described by his pretended miracles. He doeth great wonders, so that he maketh (or seemeth to make) "fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, and de