תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

Christ to be David; because they came in the same

power,” and fulfilled the offices assigned by prophecy to their respective prototypes. By the scarlet splendour of the harlot, who is seated upon the beast and directs his steps, he is so covered and disguised; by her abominable cup the kings and nations of the earth, who should oppose his reign, are so intoxicated; that he is suffered to come up unknown, unacknowledged; and, directed and abetted by the harlot, to exercise all his former oppression. He is the same, though he does not appear such: “ He was, and is “not, though he is *.” Yet, the admiration and worship with which the beast is honoured in this his disguise, though general, is not universal. The sealed Christians, whose names are written in the book of Life, though few in number, are awake to their duty; discover the deceit; reject the cup of the harlot, and the mark of the beast; abjure the idolatrous worship required; and many of them sacrifice their lives in the cause of Truth.

* These words of the angel, describing the beast, “ He was, and “is not,” &c. appear to me in no wise applicable to the tyranny seated at Rome at the time of the vision, when the angel spake them. This was the time of the Emperor Domitian, when a cruel persecution raged against the Church, when Saint John himself was actually suffering banishment in Patmos, “ for the word of God and the testi“mony of Jesus.” Such a time can in no wise agree with the representation, that the beast " was, and is nol.” It is therefore probable that the time in which the beast is said to have been, and not to be, &c., is the time when he ariseth again after his wound, to exercise dominion under the direction of the harlot. This time was not arrived when Saint John saw the vision in Patmos: but though future in this sense, it was present in another, as belonging to the vision then under exhibition : for, the beast was then present in exhibition before Saint John, and in the act of re-ascending to power. This will appear more probable to those who read forward from this passage to the end of the 8th verse, where the admiration of the inhabitants of the earth is spoken of as future; and yet this admiration is fixed upon the same object,--the beast which was, and is not, &c.

lot,

Ver. 9. Herein is the mind having wisdom.] By comparing this expression with similar passages *, it will appear to contain a call to the observant Christian, engaging him to attend diligently to the marks (xupery palce) of the beast and harlot, which are now announced by the angel, in order to assist the detection of them when they shall appear. In the first place, we are informed, that the seven heads of the beasts are so many mountains, on which the woman, who directs the power of the beast, is seated. But mountains have been found to signify eminent seats, high stations, of power t. But, in ver. 1. of this chapter, the woman is said also to be seated“ on many waters :" And these were ascertained, by the explanation of the angel, to signify “people, and multitudes, and nations, and languages I.” Thus presiding over these nations, she is afterwards said, in plainer language, “ to “ have dominion over the kings of the earth.” From a comparison of these passages, it will therefore appear, that the seven mountains express that widely extended power and dominion, which this re-ascending beast was to exercise under the direction of the harlot.

But these seven mountains, by the interpretation of the angel, appear to have an additional signification ;-" they are also seven kings; five of them have “ fallen ; and one of them is; the other is not yet

come; and when he is come, he must remain a little ; " and the wild-beast which was, and is not, even he " is the eighth, and is of the seven.”

I quote this passage, to shew what we are to expect under the name of kings. For the beast himself, upon his revival, is to be one of the kings: therefore, from what he is known to be, some conjecture may be formed of the nature of the rest, who are here styled kings. Now, it has been clearly seen that the seven-headed beast is a tyrannical and oppressive power; and in particular, that power which formed the Roman domination, which is still the same beast, under whatever form of government it may be exercised. But this power, though it may be administered by a king, cannot itself be literally a king, that is, a man exercising supreme authority. So in the interpretation of the word king, as used in this passage, we must look for some other meaning; for such as may not exclude the beast from bearing it. In this research, we obtain assistance from the eighth chapter of the prophecy of Daniel ; where, by comparing verse 17, with verse 23, it appears, that the word kings is used to signify kingdoms, or forms of government. The beast before us has seven heads; seven mountains; seven seats of eminent power ; seven kingdoms, or forms of government; yet not all existing at the same time, but suceeding to each other. For, five of them are represented to have fallen; one, the sixth, to be then existing; another, the seventh, to be not yet come; and after a short continuance to be succeeded by an eighth and last; even by the whole beast himself, representing such a kingdom, or form of government. In attempting to point out these seven kingdoms, or forms of government, it will be useful to begin with the sixth; with that which was existing at the time when the angel described them. This was the power imperial; for at that time one man,

* Ch. xiii. 10, 18. xiv. 12.
+ See notes, ch. i. 4. viii. 8.

† Ver. 15.

passage,

Domitian,

[ocr errors]

Domitian, under the title of Emperor, exercised the supreme authority, uttering oppressive edicts against the Christian Church. But can we trace back the forms of government, which succeeded each other under the Roman domination, so that they may fairly appear five, preceding the imperial form ? Kingly, Consular, Decemviral, are confessedly three distinct forms of government, established by three separate revolutions. And the balance of power, continually changing, and verging at one time in favour of the patrician or aristocratic, at another of the plebeian or democratic scale, have probably produced two other distinct forms of government. Such indeed we find recorded in the Roman history, as exercised under Dictators, and Military Tribunes *. These appear to be the five heads, which were fallen, at the time when the angel spake. The sixth or imperial head, was then existing ; and continued to exist till the year 475 ; when it terminated with Augustulus, the last emperor. To this imperial form succeeded the government set up by the Gothic conquerors, when, after a short time, a magistrate, with the title of Exarch, presided in Rome.

But in the dark ages, which were now commencing, the beast begins again

He had disappeared under the auspices of Constantine; now he revives; and the civil power of the empire passes into hands in which it becomes idolatrous, blasphemous, tyrannical, and oppressive to true Religion. This was the time when the false

to appear.

These, as Bp. Newton observes, are the five forms of government antecedent to the imperial form, enumerated and distinguished as such “ by those who should best know, the two greatest Roman “ Historians, Livy and Tacitus.” Livii lib. vi. 1. Tacit. Annal. lib. i. sub initio.

prophet

prophet of the xiiith chapter began to exalt the power of the beast : when the harlot directed the reins and exhibited him as an object of terror and admiration. Thus he became the eighth form of government: and in this form, he exceeded all his predecessors in cruel and exterminating warfare against the saints. The popes, and their agents in the corrupt church, made use of the civil power of the kings to persecute and destroy those who dared to profess a creed or worship, other than they had authorized. Having, uttered their decrees against such persons, they delivered them to the secular arm, which at their instigation was ready to apply the fire and faggot. From the time that the reigning powers of Europe were willing to enforce the decrees of persecution at the call of a corrupt, domineering religion, is to be dated the reign of the beast, as an eighth head. It is not, strictly speaking, a head of the beast; for the heads were seven; and were all fallen; but it is the revival of a tyrannical, persecuting power in their place. It is a form still more beastly, subsisting after the seven heads were gone. It is the whole beast, or the perfect image of him, revived, by the false prophet, by the harlot.

Ver. 12. And the ten horns which thou didst see, are ten kings; &c.] This beast, like that in the viitli chapter of Daniel, has ten horns; which are also explained to represent ten kings or kingdoms. They are not described as having existence in the early days of the beast's power; but as succeeding to a share of dominion with him afterwards, “one and “ the same hour;" that is, during a space of time, the commencement and duration of which seem not to be determined, But the warfare in which they are

to

« הקודםהמשך »