« AnteriorContinua »
before the battle of the great day, healed; the sense of which healing we shall learn by and by in chapter xvii, where this newly healed head is distinctly symbolized by a new beast, that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit, and goeth into perdition. After this Imperial head is healed, so great and terrible is the event, that we read, chap. xiii, 3, And all the world wondered after the beast. 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?
just judgment of God upon him, for his spite and violence against Christ and his religion. Licinius was now the only em. peror in the east, as was Constantine in the west. The former yet violently persecuted the Christians. A war broke out be. tween Constantine and Licinius. Licinius was worsted, and forced to flee. But recovering, he gave Constantine another most furious battle. Licinius was again defeated; 100,000 men are reported to have been slain.
Licinius was taken prisoner. And not long after, for an attempt against the life of Constantine, he was put to death.
Thus Constantine became emperor of the whose eastern and western empire. He soon after removed the seat of his empire from Rome to Byzantium, which he named Constantinople. new modelled the government of the empire; put the administra. tion into the hands of four prætorian præfects; abolished all the power of Paganism; and established the Christian Religion throughout the empire. And all the power of the persecutors was totally destroyed. Lowman, p. 57.
Here we have the wounding to death of the sixth head of the old Pagan Roman beast. He now ceased to be a beast, in the language of prophecy; the empire became friendly to Chris. tianity. Now was' fulfilled the judgment of the sixth seal, Rev. vi, 12, to the end. And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal; and lo, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became blood. And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a figtree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll, when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every freeman, hid themselves in the dens, and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, Fali on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand.
By worship here is not meant religious homage, but admiration, and perhaps subjection. The days of superstition are then chiefly over; and the days of Infidel. ity will be found to have commenced. And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things, and blas. phemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. This latter passage has perplexed, and, I believe, misled expositors. It has induced them to think, that a power is here intended, different from that, symbolized by the beast in Dan. vii, 7, which has been noted, as representing the Roman empire. In short, it has induced them to believe this first beast in Rev. xii, 1, to be the Papal hierar. chy; because its chronology is supposed to agree with that of the latter; but not with Daniel's Roman beast. But their opinion on this subject I believe, to be a mistake; and that this is the very Roman beast, presented in Daniel, symbolizing the idolarrous empire, from the time it captivated the Church of God, sixty years be. fore Christ, till its final destruction at the battle of the great day. The passage relative to his continuance forty and two months, forms no serious objection to this idea. It does not say, the whole term of his existence is forty and two months; as in the objection is taken for granted. But it relates only to the time of his end. When this terrible beast is presented, as an event most interesting to the Church, the question naturally occurs, How long is this terrible adversary to continue? The correct reply is, the forty and two months; or to the end of that well known term of the residence of the Church in the wilderness. The
passage must be viewed as elliptical; not designed to inform relative to the origin of the beast; nor the whole term of his continuance, but when the Church shall be released from his tyranny. This was the interesting poiiit. And it should be at the end of the forty and two months.
A similar passage we find Rev. xii, 14; which to me confirms the sense of the passage here given. In the former part of this 12th chapter, after the man child is caught up to the throne of God, and at the commencement of the war between Michael and the dragon in the mystical heaven of the Roman church, the true Church Aies into the wilderness, there to remain 1260 years; the exact period given in Dan. vii, 25, for the giving of the saints into the hands of the little horn. After the war in heaven closes, and the dragon, upon the reformation under Luther, was cast out into the earth, he again persecutes the woman. Upon this she again flies into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and an half time, (or 1260 years) from the face of the serpent. Now, can this mean that she was to continue in the wilderness from this time of her second flight 1260 years? This cannot be. It would confound all chronological calculations upon the subject. The 1260 years were the whole term of her continuance in the wilderness. This term commenced many centuries before, at the commencement of Popery; at the time of her first flight; and it was now nearly expired. Yet she is represented as again flying into the wilderness for 1260 years.
The sense must be, she flies back into the wilderness, to remain there the residue of her 1260 years; or to the end of that well known term.
So in the passage under consideration. The Roman beast, with his head, which had once been wound. ed to death, now healed, was to continue forty and two months; i. e. to the end of that well known period. He drives the church, in her second flight, into the wilderness, for 1260 years; i. e. for the short residue of this noted term;-and his own continuance is represented as being for the same term; forty and two months; i. e. for the short residue of this noted term. Then the Church is. to obtain relief; and he, with his false prophet the Papal hierarchy, and his vassal kings, is to go into perdition.
To me it appears a very evident point, that this first beast in Rev. xiii, and the beast in Dan. vii, 7, symbolizing the Roman empire, as distinct from the Papal horn, are one and the same. They have the same origin. Both rise out of the sea; or the convulsed state of the world, just before the time of the coming of Christ in the flesh: And both terminate at the same period. As the beast in Daniel exhibits the Roman empire, from its rise, to its going into perdition; so we should surely expect to find some thing in the Revelation answering to this symbol.
Shall the Papal hierarchy be represented, in the Revelation by a number of different beasts; and the Roman empire, which in Daniel is symbolized by the beast, that arose out of the sea, be represented exclusively by none? Such an idea cannot be admitted. As the empire and the hierarchy are, in Daniel, kept distinct, even to their end; so when we find in both the passages in Revelation where the beasts are noted, (chapters xiii and xvii) two distinct powers, why should we blend them? Why shall we not naturally conclude, that the one answers to the beast in Daniel, and the other to his little horn? We must so conclude. Every objection against it is capable of a fair solution. And the arguments in favor of it are invincible.
The consideration of the remaining part of the account given of this first beast, Revelation xiii, will be deferred, till I come to remark upon the beast in chapter xvii; which is the same with the healed head of the beast just considered; or which is the Roman empire revived under its last head. For the characteristics in both are essentially the same.
A second beast appears, in Rev. xii, from the 11th verse to the end, symbolizing the Romish hierarchy; and answering to the little horn of the Roman beast, Dan. vii, 8. Upon the wounding to death of the sixth, the Imperial head of the Roman beast by Constantine, and while this beast lay dead, an intermediate beast, after some centuries, arose out of the earth; or out of the earthly views of the Romish Christians. He had two horns like a lamb; and he spake as a dragon. Or, his denomination was Christian; but his spirit and views, the same that governed Pagan Rome.
The same infernal agent, that managed the one, managed the other. And this beast grew, till he came to exercise all the power of the first beast before him, now dead, or of Pagan Rome. The lucrative establishments
of Constantine in the Church, it is said by some,) proved a source of corruption to the bishops of Rome. The city of Rome, under their Gothic kingdom, was suffered to maintain the shadow of her own government. The citizens fell into contentions and factions; and often found it convenient to appiy to the bishop of Rome for a decision of their quarrels. This gave him great importance, which he ambitiously improved; till Boniface III. was by the emperor Phocas constituted Universal Bishop.
That bishopric here reached (as it is thought by Pool, Stephens, Faber, and others) the characteristic of the little horn in Daniel, into whose hands the saints were to be delivered for 1260 years.
This Pontifical establishment was utterly hostile to the Church of Christ. She now flees into the wilderness. The Ro. mish bishopric now becomes a new beast, which was to continue to annoy the followers of Christ during the death of the Roman beast. But his system of annoyance and hostility was to be veiled under the most sanctimonious Christian profession. So different was it to be from an open avowal of Paganism; while yet in essence it was no better than the preceding Roman Paganism. This system is therefore represented as an image of the first beast, caused by the Papal beast to be made, and wholly under his management. A solution of the representation may be given by a simple history of facts. The Romish hierarch, in time, procured the establishment of a system of idolatry and superstition, essentially of the same nature, with that antecedently practised in Pagan Rome. One essential feature of the idolatry of Pagan Rome was, paying adoration to deceased heroes and great men; constituting them their mediators with the superior gods; and venerating their statues and images. And the essence of this idolatry the Papal beast caused to be revived. “In the eighth century the worshipping of saints was established by law.”* The names of deceased favorites were not selected, as before, from the names of the