« PreviousContinue »
in 1789.* Thus, in that country, from whence the ligut of reformation first issued, and where there were more faithful witnesses against the Papal apostacy than in any other nation of the world; and from whose number and influence, and toe laws in their favour, the old persecuting power was greatly reduced; there, the uncontrouled reign of Antichrist was restored.
Ver. 13, 14. And he doth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth, in the sight of men, and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast. No one can suppose that these are mira. cles in the strictest sense of the word. Nor does the ori. ginal word Eyuelce, rendered wonders in ver. 19. and niracles in ver. 14. necessarily signify those acts which are supernatural. Our lexicographers translate the word signum, miraculum, argumentum, indicium, vexillum, simulachrum, a sign, miracle, argument, &c. And the Hebrew word, which in the Greek version of the Old Testament is rendered by this, has the same sort of latitude. Though this is the word generally used to denote proper miracles, yet it is as often used in other senses. But let it be observed, that its meaning generally includes in it the idea of an argument, that which persuades, convinces, brings over to a purpose and confirms. In Gen, i, 14. it means that the sun and moon are to be for the regulation of time; in Gen. xvii. 11. and Rom. iv. 11. circumcision is thus spoken of, though evidently neither a miracle nor wonder, but merely a token or memento; in Exod. jii. 12. and in a multitude of other places, it means nothing more than a token or evidence; in Isa. viii. is. and Luke ii. 34. it means an object of derision; in Jer. x. 2. those comets and meteors, and other phenomena of nature are intended, at which weak and superstitious minds were terrified; in Deut. xxviii. 46. it means those calamities which should
* With an ediet for authorising a loan of 450,000,000 of livres, which the king proposed to the parliament on the 7th of Nov. 1787, he also proposed another for the re-establishment of the protestants in all their civil rights, as what could not be refused them. “This law," as said M, Rabant in the Constituent Assembly, “more celebrated than just, pre« scribes the forms of registering their birtlis, marriages and deaths; it “ permits them, in consequence to enjoy civil property, and to exercise “ their professions, and this is all.” Thus they were now permitted to exercise their professions and trades, and that their children should be no longer illegitimate. To this, and no more, amounts that vast liberality, of which the advocates of the old regime have made such a boast.
excite astonishment, and be a lesson to teach men to fear God; in Psal. lxxiv. 4. it may signify the standards of the enemy, or perhaps those warlike engines with which they battered down, burnt and destroyed the sacred building; in Ezek. xxxix. 15. this word means nothing more than a stick or a stone set up as a mark to point out the place where lay a dead man's bone; in Matth. xxvi. 18. a deceitful kiss.
It appears to me that this figurative representation of the exploits of this beast, designs nothing more than those violent means and seducing arts which this tyrant (or succession of tyrants) was to use, as so many arguments, to bring men into his measures, and to frighten them into submission to his impositions. His great wonders were his alarming edicts; and the fire which he made to come down from heaven on the earth, in the sight of men, signifies, in the hieroglyphic and highly figurative language of prophecy, the thunder of excommunication which he sent forth against those who refused to acknowledge his autho. rity in religion, and the war and destruction which he carried on against all those who stood out against Popery; pretending (as all tyrants ever have done) to have authority from Heaven for all these abominations. Every iota of this agrees with the practices and pretensions of Louis XIV. and of the other monarchs of France.
And he commanded that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword and did live. i. e. This tyranical government caused a system of dominion over conscience, a system of persecution to be established, which was the image of the first Papal beast; for although it was not so extensive a'tyranny, as that exercised by the Pope, being confined to one kingdom, yet it was the similitude of it. The ecclesiastical tyranny here established was peculiar; it was at once independent, and yet in support of the tyranny of the Papal beast. In all the other kingdoms where Popery prevails, the spiritual power is exercised by the Pope; heretics, as they are called, are accused, tried, and condemned in his courts, by virtue of laws. issuing from him, and by his ministers. The kings are only his executioners. But it became otherwise in France.*
*“ France,” says M. Soulavie, in his account of the liberties of the Gallican church, in his Memoirs of the Reign of Louis XVI,“ more than
any other European nation, had so effectually circumscribed the actie “ vity of the first orders of the state, that the pope, who was their es“ tablished chief out of the kingdom, had not, according to our Gallicaa
And Louis XIV. (more than any of his predecessors) from the plenitude of his own power, issued edicts, erected courts, and appointed officers for the punishment of his Protestant subjects. Thus, by virtue of powers derived from the king, and not from the Pope, the Protestants were accused, pursued, tried, condemned, and executed. This was a tyranny, perfect in its kind, and unknown in other countries; the similitude of the beast which had the wound by a sword and did live—the beast of Rome. And he had pouer to give life to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. He gave new vigour to the dying Papacy in France, and power to the Popish party to issue their mandates, and command apostacy, on pain of death.
Thus far, I think, the likeness is perfect; and allowing Louis XIV. or the French tyranny, brought to perfection by him, to be the object of the vision, it appears easy to be understood; but on every other hypothesis, which I have seen, it is encumbered with inexplicable difficulties. Dr. Doddridge says, “ What the image of the beast is, distinct from the beast itself, I confess I know not.”
This part of our inquiry, upon which matters of no small importance are suspended, will, I hope, be attentively considered; as likewise whatsoever concerns this second beast, and the conformity of the tyrannic proceed. “ liberties, the least political influence within the realm. France was " the only country in all Europe, that, without separating herself from “ the head of the church, bad preserved towards him a liberty truly re6 publican, equally distant from the independance of protestant nations, us and from the absolute submission of those of the sonth; such as Por
tugal, Spain, Naples, Austria, &c. When we wished to disobey the pope legally, we appealed to a future council; and no decrees relative
to discipline were admitted, until their agreement with our laws had “ been proved, insomuch that those of the council of Trent, as far as
they related to discipline, were never received in the kingdom. The * clergy of France, the parliaments, and all the orders of the state, were
so much attached to the liberties of our church, that the whole “ nation was constantly upon the watch against the zeal of the court of " Rome. The popes themselves respected the liberties of the Gallican “ church to such a degree, as to have no connection with the clergy but
through the medium, and with the concurrence, of government; while our bishops, on their part also, avoided a correspondence in indiffer
ent affairs with the church of Rome, otherwise than through the chan“ nel of the ministers of the king's household, or the minister for foreign “ affairs. The revolution is the only occasion on which, for many ages past, the
pope has had a direct communication with the clergy, despoil" ed, irritated, persecuted by the tiers-état.”
ings of the French government, to the character and conduct here predicted. The fact here contended for, being proved, we have a master key to unlock a great part of the prophecies before us, particularly that in chap. xvi. 2. where the first vial is poured out upon two descriptions of men; upon them who have the mark of the beast, Pa. pists; and upon those who only worship or serve his image, those Protestants who yield assistance to the Antichristian party in France,
And he caused all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their forehead, and that no man might buy or sell save he that had the mark,* or the number of his name. There is certainly a difficulty in so understanding this part of the description, as to give a perspicuous explanation. It was intended, that it should be enveloped in considerable obscurity. I make no grcat pretensions to critical acumen, but it appears to me that here are two conditions represented as requisite to the enjoyment of the lowest rights of citizens, unlimited submission to the authority of the church, the Pope, and his clergy; and passive obedience to the despotism of this second beast. Where these were refused, no man might buy or sell. With this description the tcruel laws of Louis XIV. respecting the freedom of companies and handicraft trades, by which the Protestants were hindered from earning bread for their families, perfectly agree.
To exclude mankind from any of their civil rights, for their adherence to matters of conscience, and to gratify à party, that that party, in return, may support the views of ambitious men, is of the dragon and the beast; but that, to please the priesthood, and strengthen despotism, a man, for being a dissenter from the established sect, should be excluded from acting as a custom-house officer, a stage-coachman, or a waggoner, was a most wanton exercise of Antichristian power indeed; and this was the
It was customary to mark'slaves and soldiers with some impression on the hand or forehead, that it might be known to what master or cominander they belonged; and it was a practice also with devout idolaters, to mark themselves with the signature of the god they worshipped. The name was sometimes expressed by letters, and at others by the number which the numerical letters in their name amounted to, as we shall see in the 18th verse. To these customs there is bere an allusion, . + Claude's Complaints of the Protestants, p. 53.
exact case in the matter under consideration; for not only Louis, but Mazarine, his minister, and the other petty despots about the throne, found their account in these proceedings. In this manner did they get rid of a body of men who were dangerous enemies to their schemes of ambition. The court gratified the priests, and, in return; the priests supported court measures, and helped Louis, not only to get rid of these friends to liberty and justice, but also to crush the Parliaments, which till now possessed considerable power.
But how shall we count the number of the name of the beast? No man might buy or sell save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom, let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666. Not to specify particularly what others have said about this number. The following way of calculating it agrees perfectly with the French monarchy, and particularly with the times of Louis XIV. by whom it was brought to perfect maturity as a beastly persecuting power. The number of the beast, in allusion to the custom just noticed-is the number of a man, or of a man's name. Louis has been, from the earliest ages of the French monarchy, a prevailing name among its sovereigns, and nothing could be more natural, therefore-agreeable to the style of this Book, than to distinguish it by the amount of the numeral letters contained in that name, which as written in Latin, give 666. Thus,
But it may be asked, Why is the Latin language referred to rather than either the Hebrew, the Greek, or French? For these reasons. At the time this prediction was given, the Latin was the most general language in the Roman empire; and after the empire was divided, it be