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accession of Constantine, had afflicted the saints with many bloody persecutions. Now, under this beast of the Apocalypse (including his false prophet or minister), we seem to behold that same oppressive and persecuting power renewed, and continued for ages, with some variety of exhibition; even through the long period of twelve-hundred-and-sixty years, after the Roman empire had becoine divided into its ten horns, or kingdoms.
Ver. 2. And the dragon gave him his power; &c.] The dominion exercised by this beast is unjust, tyrannical, oppressive, diabolical. It is not a power legally administered, for the good of the subject; for, such“ power “ is ordained of God;" the magistrate duly exercising such a power, is pronounced to be “a minister of good,
· bearing not the sword in vain." The Christian Religion gives a heavenly sanction to such lenient and beneficial power : but the authority of the beast is founded on another sanction; on that of the dragon or satan, who converts legal government into arbitrary oppression. When the legislative and executive powers act from the impulse of worldly and diabolical passions, this dire usurpation and tyranny will appear. .
But it is the work of Christianity, by introducing other motives: of government, to repress these enormities, and finally, by the intervention of Heavenly aid, to extirpate them. Yet, during the long period of 1260 years, not yet ended, the power of the beast becomes more serocious and destructive, by receiving the apparent sanctions of Religion, as the world has experienced under the papal and mahometan superstitions.
Ver. 3. And one of his heads, as having been smitten unto death, and his deadly wound was healed.]
The beast, like the dragon, from whom he receives his power, has seven heads; which are explained to be so many mountains, or strong-holds, the seats and supports of his oppressive dominion * The dragon, and they who held the reins of worldly power under him, had many such. Such had been ancient Babylon; such was Rome, spiritually called Babylon f. One of these heads, or chief supports of tyrannical power, had received a mortal wound; and yet, to the surprise of the world, and the exultation of the wicked, the beast survives the blow.
During the three first centuries of the Christian times, the fourth beast of Daniel, the Roman monarchy, had violently persecuted the Church. He was then in full vigour and dominion. And when did he seem to decline in strength? when to appear no longer beastly? when to remit his persecuting ferocity? when to receive an apparent mortal wound? At the accession of Constantine, the first Christian emperor; whose laws, enacted for the establishment, protection, and propagation of the Christian Religion, seemed at that time to have inflicted a mortal wound on the beast. He was smitten on his Roman, his principal head; and his death appeared certain t. But the Christian leaders seizing, too eagerly, the power and riches of the world, and ensnared in the temptation, contributed most effectually to heal the deadly wound of the beast; they restored him again to life and to power; to a
* See note, ch. viii. 8. + 1 Pet. v. 13.
| See the opinions of those times in Euseb. Eccl. Hist. lib. x; also Vit. Constant. lib. ii. cap. xix. xlii. xlvi, &c.; where, upon the death of the dragon, (for so Maximin and Maxentius and the fues of the Church are called,) a long peace and virtuous enjoyment is promised to Chris. tians.
power tenfold more dangerous than before, when a corrupt administration of civil tyranny began to be supported and abetted by ecclesiastical authority. Under which new form, he became an object of wonder, and of worship to the deluded inhabitants of the world. But this effect will be considered more at large, when we have taken the additional beast, called the false prophet, into view. It will be useful at this time to compare the deadly wound of the beast in this passage (which wound turns out to be not deadly) with his existence, and his non-existence, both predicated of him at the same period, in ch. xvii.
CHAPTER xvii. , 3. Και μιαν εκ των κεφαλών
εκ των κεφαλών 8. Το θηριον, και ειδες, ην, και εκ αυε ως έσφαγμενον εις θανα- έσι, -- και θαυμασοναι τον και η πληγη το θαναζε οι καλοικάλες επι της γης, αυτά εθεραπευθη και έθαυ- ων και γέγραπlαι τα ονομαζα μασεν ολη η γή οπισω τα επι το βιβλιον της ζωης απο
κα]αβολής κοσμε, βλεπουλων 8. Και προσκυνήσεσιν αυτον παν- θηριον, ότι ην, και εκ
τες οι κατοικείες επι της γης, (καιπερ εςιν, ων και γέγραπlαι το ονομα εν
και παρεσαι, των βιβλιω της ζωης τε αρνια και ωαρίσιν τε έσφαγμενα απο καλαζο
There is manifest resemblance in the two passages. The persons, who admire and worship the beast, are the sume; they who dwell on earth,” the whole earth, or that part whose names are not written in the book of life:—and the object of admiration is the same, namely the beast, who in the notes, ch. xvii, is shewn to be the same. And the cause of admiration is at least nearly the same. . In the one, the beast receives a deadly
* There are these three readings, see note to ch. xvii. S.
blow, yet does not die; in the other, he was, and is not, and yet he is, or shall be again *.
Ver. 4. And they worshipped the dragon, because he had given the power to the beast ; and they worshipped the beast.] The beast succeeds to the dragon, who, in verse 2, gives him “his power, and his throne, and
great authority.” Accordingly, he promotes the interests of his master, and the worship of him in the world. This beast is joined by another beast, whom we shall proceed to consider; and by the ministry of the latter beast, not only the dragon, but the first beast also, becomes an object of worship to the inhabitants of the earth. To worship the dragon, i. e. the devil, is to do what our Lord refused, when satan tempted him with the offer of worldly greatness; when, shewing to him “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory “ of them; all these things,” saith he, “will I give “thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship met.” Whoever, to attain worldly eminence, relinquishes his trust in God, and deviates from the path of the Divine laws, withdraws his allegiance from God, and tranfers it unto the devil.–And this aliegiance may also be transferred to the agents of the devil; to the powers of this world, who promote his infernal interests in opposition to that heavenly kingdom, which we daily pray for, and which we are bound daily to promote.
Ib. Tho is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?) The battle to be fought with the beast, who proclaims and enforces idolatry, is of a spiritual nature. They who, giving up their faith in God, worship after the ordinances of the beast, ar
* See more on this subject, in notes, ch. xvii. S.
Matt, iv, 8, 9. 1 See note, ch. 1.7.
overcome by him : but every faithful Christian, who adheres “to the word of the Testimony, loving not his “ life, even unto death, overcomes him by the blood " of the Lamb*.”
Ver. 5. Blasphemies.] These shall be considered when we take into view the assistant beast and false prophet, who enabled the first beast to blaspheme to the utmost excess. See note below, ch. xiii. 5. 6. 7.
Ib. Power [to continue in action] forty-two months.] Iloiyoul, applied to time, signifies to continue, as in Acts xv. 33; xx. 3; to continue, during this period, in his evil practices against the Church,
This being the last time in which the period of forty-two months is mentioned, presents us with the proper occasion for taking it into more minute consideration, together with the other concurrent periods of the same duration.
There are three of these periods mentioned in the Apocalypse; and it has been already shewn that they contain the same duration of timet. This will appear still more evident, by the following scheme: