« PreviousContinue »
by Charlemagne, from whence it passed into Germany, the Popes became possessed of Rome, the old seat of the imperial government.
Ver. 3.–10. And I saw one of his heads, as it were wounded unto death, and his deadly wound was healed : and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things, and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and overcome them, and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell on the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. If any man have an ear let him hear. fle 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 the faith of the saints.
The wound which was given to one of the 'heads of this beast, some have interpreted to be that which the Papacy. received at the Reformation in the sixteenth century ; but this wounding appears to refer not to Papal Rome, but to the wound which imperial Rome received, when it was no longer the seat of government, but became subject to the Exarchate of Ravenna. But though it was thus forsaken by the imperial court, and lost its civil pre-eminence, yet it soon became again the mistress of the world, by assuming a spiritual dominion, in lieu of the temporal one it had lost, and which alteration did not a little astonish mankind; but who, instead of resisting the arrogant claims and profane pretensions of this new power, did not only tamely obey those laws of the emperors, which set the bishop of Rome above all human jurisdiction, but they entered most heartily into all the new superstitions and idolatries of this novel tyranny. Nor was this Papal beast backward in exerting the power which he had acquired from the liberality of the imperial dragon, but quickly enjoined all sorts of abominations, and enforced acquiescence, on pain of death, with all his profane and blasphemous pretensions. Thus encouraged, he went on in his impious career, enjoining not only the worship of
saints and angels, but of images and relics, teaching that he was God's
vicegerent and Christ's vicar on earth; and that, as such, he had power to grant indulgences, and to pardon sins; and thus, by these, and a great many other abominable dogmas, he blasphemed and scandalized the perfections, prerogatives, and laws of God; and dishonoured the memory of them that dwell in heaven, as if they approved of such wicked idolatry and priestly craft.-And not only was this ecclesiastical power exercised at Rome, but over distant and numerous nations, and
has been the slaughter which he has made among those, who, in respect to the divine authority, and the rights of conscience, have rejected his abominable errors, and resisted his arrogant pretensions. The time of the prevalence and prosperity of this corrupt and savage tyranny shall be forty and two months of years, or 1260 years, reckoning, agreeable to the prophetic style, a year for a day; at the end of which period, though ardently supported by a tyranny similar to his own, he shall perish, and as he hath shewed no mercy, so he shall find no mercy..
Ver. 11. And í beheld another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. 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, &c. Dr. Doddridge, in his notes on this passage, observes, “ As I look upon the former to be the Papal power, I am ready, with the best critics I know, to interpret this of the religious orders of the church of Rome. This beast is said to ascend from the earth, whereas the other ascended from the sea, to make the distinction between them the more remarkable : but what other mystery may be suggested, I cannot conjecture.”. Dr. Goodwin understands by the first beast the temporal power which the Pope has received from the kings of the ten Antichristian kingdoms; and by the second beast the spiritual power which the Pope and his clergy claim of binding and loosing, of pardoning sin, and of cursing men to hell. Mr. Lowman supposes it to represent the ecclesiastical princes of Germany, who have been such great supporters of the power of the first beast. Most agree, that although he is thus represented as a distinct beast, yet he rises out of the empire of the first, and is subordinate to him.* But inferior as I am to these learn
* “ It must, in all likelihood, signify some distinct persecuting power,
ed men, I beg leave to propose a conjecture which I think has more weight than at first view we may be willing to admit.
May we not understand, by this second beast Louis XIV. or at least that tyranny which the family of the Capets had exercised, to the great oppression of the Christian church, and to the destruction of mankind? Why might not Louis XIV. or the Capets and their tyranny, or rather the French monarchy, but particularly since the succession of the Capets, and during the persecutions of Louis XIV. be the objects of John's vision, as well as Alexander or Antiochus or any other tyrant, that of Daniel's? Read their political history and private memoirs. If pre-eminence in vice, oppression, and murder, entitle to this distinction, who so abhorrent and vile? Who such enemies to the truth of God, and the happiness of mankind? Their tyranny has been the scourge of France, of Europe, and the world. What cruelties did Louis XIV. especially perpetrate towards his Protestant subjects; and what devastation and woe did he spread over Europe in his cruel wars! Examine the description. 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. Historians have represented Louis XIV. as raising the French monarchy to the pinnacle of glory. And if pride and ambition, persecution and bloodshed, constitute supreme glory, he did so. But, the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God. That which the world admires is considered by inspiration as a savage and hateful beast. O the folly and cruelty of men! they create devourers, as if for the pleasure of witnessing, and celebrating their exploits of blood; and even think it impiety to complain when their own turn arrives to be devoured ! *
of a like nature and kind with the first, supporting and advancing his authority.” Lowman, p. 136, where may be seen the various opinions or this subject.
* Mr. Faber, in the fourth section of the tenth Chapter of his Disser: tation, endeavours to prove that this second beust is a symbol of the catholic empire of the Church of Rome, and censures my application of it to the tyranny of the Capets. Although he has mistaken my meaning in making ine to restrict this tyranny to the Capets since the time of Louis XIV. yet I acknowledge that in former editions of this work, I considered the second beast too much as the symbol of Louis XIV., and perhaps, too much as the tyraniny of France exercised by that race of monarchs; when, possibly, it should rather be considered as a representation of the persecuting monarchy, or power of France. abstracted from every consi
John saw this beast coming up out of the earth. How does this agree particularly with France ? In this m;#tical deration of the dynasty which directed the power of that kingdom. I say perhaps, I formerly considered this second beast too much as representing the persecuting tyranny of France as exercised by that race of monarchs; for, on the most attentive consideration of the subject, it appears to me far from certain (supposing there to be no doubt about this beast's signifying France), at what period of the French history that monarchy, as a persecuting tyranny, might be arrived at such a state of enormity, as to be considered by inspiration as a beust : whether from the first moment of its formation, or not till a thousand years afterwards. All that is necessary either to the illustration of the prophecy, or to the argument which goes to prove that France is intended by it, is, that, at the time of Louis XIV., this tyranny was such, as perfectly and exclusively to agree in every feature with the picture given by St. John: and this I believe tv have been the fact.
If, in the sense of these prophecies, it is not only tyranny and idolatry which constitutes the bestial character of a political power; but, as some suppose, that persecution of the church of God is an essential'attribute; then I have elsewhere, perhaps, said too much, where I have concluded that this beast still lives in the donrineering empire of the French. For though the tyranny of Napoleon should be even greater and worse chan his eneinies represent it; yet, religious persecution makes no part of it. Liberty of conscience was never
so unlimited and general. But, it may.be said, if the second beast represent the French monarchy, then this power must be signified by the false prophet, and it is certain he does not perish till the battle, or war, of Armageddon; and therefore France must still retain its bestial character. Thus I have concluded; but perhaps this conclusion is not warranted by the pres. mises. The French monarchy may still sustain its office as the spokesman of the papal monster, though its beastly character should be no more. But should France at this moment sustain both these characters, get this forms no solid argument against the faet contended for relative to the resurrection of the witnesses in that country: God in his provin dence might yet make use of the Constituent Assembly to effect this, by abolishing the laws which took from them their rights and liberties.
What has been said relative to the uncertainty of the time when the French monarchy assumed its bestial character, is applicable to its pseudo-prophetic ofhce. It seems as though it might with peculiar propriety, be dated from the reign of Pepin; but this is uncertain. Yet this uncertainty no more affects the main fact we contend for, than the uncertainty of the time from whence the 1260 years of the first beasts tyranny are to be dated, affects our conclusions on that subject. There is indeed, a seeming objection which may be suggested against dating the pseudo-prophetic character of the French monarchy from the time of Pepin's interference in favour of the pope, as well as against dating its bestial one from that, or any anterior period; because, they would thus become during the reign of the Carlovingian race, identified with the dragon; but when we recollect the mystic nature of these imaginary beings, and consider that it is not the transactions and extraneous circunstances of a year, or even eighty-seven years in the history of a kingdom which has stood thirteen centuries, which are to be looked to in forming our judgments
book we are, I think, sometimes to understand by the earth, the Roman empire in general, as in chap. xvi, 1. at others some particular part of that empire as opposed to the sea, or maritime parts of it, as in the following verse. In chap. xii. 9, it seems to stand in opposition to the political heaven, or the seat of the imperial government. The connection, or the subject, must determine the sense in which it is used. We inight here consider it as opposed to the symbolical heaven of the Roman empire, and then some province subject to the rule of Rome might be understood. Italy was considered by the ancients as the heaven of the Roman empire, because as the natural heaven stands, and, with its luminaries, rules over and governs the earth, so Italy ruled over and governed the world. “ As heaven," says Artemidorus (lib. ii. c. 73), “ is the abode of gods, so is Italy of kings." By analogy, therefore, the provinces over which the imperial government at Rome ruled, were the earth of that empire. And Gaul, we may remember, was the most considerable of those provinces, and hence was called by way of preeminence, The Province; and hence a part of it, is still called, or was lately called, La Provence. See A New System of the Apocalypse, p. 234, written by a French Protestant in 1685, and printed in London in 1688. But though in this view of the subject, there appears some ground to conclude that France might be signified by the earth in John's vision ; yet it seems more natural, I think, to consider the earth here as standing in opposition to the sea, out of which the first beast rose, and what confirms this idea is, that if we look at a map of the western Roman empire, the scene of the beasts kingdom, and the chief scene of all John's visions, the continental parts of the Prefecture of Gaul may be considered geographically, as the earth of that Empire ; containing, by far, the greatest mass of unbroken land.*
on such subjects, but the great whole ; for on this symbols are, and must generally be founded. However, as it is not necessary, to go beyond the Carlovingian race to prove that France is syłnbolized by the second beast and the false prophet, the objection, if all other things agree, can weigh but little. 6th Edit.
* One of the objections of Mr. Faber, in his Dissertation, chap. x. sect 4. against interpreting the earth out of which this beast rose to signify France is, that the earth, as he says, means throughout the whole Apocalypse the Roman empire. To this I have replied in my Supplement. I believe that it does sometimes mean the Roman empire collectively, or the whole of it, as Rev. xvi. 1, but, as Daubuz and other commenta