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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 rea. der, 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 cor rupting 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 have seen the harlot. It is indeed the Roman empire; but not in that period, which has been clearly discriminated in the beast carrying the harlot. 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 apparently 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 xijith 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 kingdoms; the 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 Antichrist, 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; wbich denied the title of Christian to any who should dare to dissent from its decrees; required a more particular description. That
description has been now examined ; and the characters 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 papal 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 Romanists 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 (says 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 seems necessary to shew, that the term harlor is here applied to PAPAL ROME
Indeed it very strongly expresses both : see notes on ch. xiii. p. 298.
+ L'Apocalypse, &c. par Messire J, B. Bossuet, Evêque de Pleaux,
with strict propriety, and according to the just andlogy 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 situation, 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 may be assigued, 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; Ixiv, 5-8; lxii. 4. 5. Jer, iii, throughout; xxi, 32. xvi. throughout; Ezek. xvii. Hos. ii.
had conferred upon them the title of Spouse. In the language of Scripture, he has “given them a bill of “ divorce *.” Such appears to be the precise case of the idolatrous church of Rome; she forsook her Lord, when she attached herself to the beast and his image; she rebelled and apostatized; and in such a state, if the Holy Spirit were to call her abominations adultery, it would be to own and to honour lier more than she deserves. She is no longer the adulterous wife; she is the divorced castaway, and consequently the harlot. The prophecy tlierefore in this passage, as in all other parts of it, is strictly appli. cable to Papal Rome; to Papal Rome in her high zenith of insolence and dominion, when she had the command of worldly power in the ten European kingdoms ; for it is then more especially that she could be said to ride the beast, and intoxicate the kings. In our days, that proud period of her exaltation is well nigh passed. She now appears in a state of weakness and decline. The kings, the powers of Europe, have begun to “hate her,” to strip ber of her ornaments, and to expose her nakedness and shame t.
See Jer, iii. 8. Isa. I. 1.- This also appears to be the case with Try youzixx ce ’liza Gaja, in this very book of Revelation, ch. ii. 20—93; the term implies, that she is a wife, yet she is said wogresoon, to act the harlot; whilst those who are corrupted by her, are represented as μοιχευονίες μελ' αυτης, as committing adultery with her. + In my
remarks on this chapter, I have not found it necessary to enter into a detail of those numerous particulars, in wbich this prophecy has been found to quadrate with the apostacy and corruptions of the papal church. The reader will find this abundantly supphed by almost all the Protestant commentators. Joseph Mede very ably led tive way, by proving the apostacy of this church, (Mede's Works, p. 623.) and he has been followed by many learned writers, even to our own times; who have with great felicity demonstrated the corruptions of this hierarchy, concording with the symbols of the prophory.