1. And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
2. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion; and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
3. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
4. And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?
5. 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.
6. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
7. And it was given unto him to make, war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
8. And all that dwell upon 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.
9. If any man have an ear, let him hear.
10. He 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.
Vs. 1-10.—This chapter may be considered as an explication or commentary upon the seventh chapter of Daniel’s prophecy, and a farther elucidation of what is revealed under different symbols in the two preceding chapters; and no one can have an intelligent understanding of its contents without a competent knowledge of the symbols employed in those chapters. Here the Holy Spirit has given a most graphic, intelligible and comprehensive exhibition of the complex power which the dragon employs, to persecute and slay the witnessing servants of Christ. Hitherto the devil has conducted the war against the saints through the agency of the beast of the pit, (Ch. xi. 7,) and those allies called “his angels:” (Ch. xii. 7:) but there has been a vail of obscurity hanging over these agencies. Who the beast and other allies of the dragon are, it is the very design of this chapter to disclose, with greater precision and clearness than heretofore. In a word, we have here the full portrait of THE GREAT ANTICHRIST. The distinct features and component parts of this complex and diabolical system of hostility to the Lord and his Anointed, are presented in detail for our inspection. And it is a fact, that by a competent knowledge of this hostile combination, the suffering saints of God have been hitherto enabled to direct their testimony with intelligence and efficacy against their appropriate objects. And although the developments of providence in past centuries, and those transpiring in our own generation, are calculated to shed light upon this and collateral prophecies; yet the gross conceptions of the illiterate in the contemplation of prophetic symbols on the one hand, and the reckless disregard of Scripture rules and usage by the learned on the other, have greatly contributed to the present lamentable ignorance and culpable indifference of most Christians. For people cannot feel an interest in that of which they are ignorant. But to be “willingly ignorant” of that which may and ought to be known, is one of the characteristic sins of a generation of impenitent and profane “scoffers.” (2 Pet. iii. 3, 5.) On the other hand, all who humbly and earnestly desire to know the mind of God for their direction in faith and holiness, shall assuredly, obtain the necessary instruction. (Dan. vii. 16; viii. 15; John xvi. 13; I Cor. xiv. 38.)
In these first ten verses are contained the characteristics of that beast whose origin is given, Ch. xi. 7. There we had no particular description of this personage; only he was the agent by whom the witnesses were opposed in open warfare, and by whom they were finally killed. Now we have a more full account of his origin, character, achievements and duration. This personage is denominated a “beast.” So are designated other characters, who are very different from this, (Ch. iv. 6.) In that place we intimated that the authorized version is imperfect; and that either “living creatures” or simply “animals,” which latter we prefer, is that which the reader is to understand from the original word. Not only are the “four animals” different in origin, nature and agency from the “beast;” but in all these respects they are morally opposite. This is a ravenous beast; a beast of prey. Elsewhere the word is translated a “wild beast,” a “venomous beast,” a “viper.” (Acts x. 12; xxviii. 4.) This beast is the same which appeared in vision to the prophet Daniel, (Ch. vii. 3.) Of the four great beasts which that prophet saw, this is the last. All the preceding are described by their resemblance to some known animals, but each as ferocious,—“a lion, bear, leopard.” The fourth is a nondescript; there is no species in the animal kingdom that can represent it; only it was “diverse from all the beasts that were before it,” (v. 7.) These four beasts represent “four kings,” (v. 17,) that is, “kingdoms,” (v. 23,) or dynasties. Now all interpreters agree that these four dynasties are the . same as those symbolized in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, (Ch. ii. 31—43.) The different parts of the image answer to the four beasts, and these again are the symbols of the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Grecian and Roman empires. Thus far, all sober expositors are agreed. Also, there is a like agreement that John’s first beast identifies with Daniel’s fourth,—the Roman empire. This is obvious from the general description by both prophets,—“having seven heads and ten horns. (Dan. vii. 7; Rev. xiii. 1.)
The origin of this beast is threefold,—“out of the sea,” (v. 1,) “out of the bottomless pit,” (Ch. xi 7; xvii. 8,) and “out of the earth.” Dan. vii. 17.) Out of the sea of the commotions arising from the incursions of the northern barbarians, by whom the Roman empire was dismembered. “The ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise.” (Dan. vii. 24.) This is the result of revolution,—“the sea.” The Roman empire, especially as nominally Christian, is thus characterized as being “earthly, sensual, devilish,” a suitable agent of the dragon.
The fact of the ten horns of the beast, now wearing crowns, proves that the time to which the prophecy refers, is that which followed the division of the empire into ten kingdoms. These ten heads of the beast have a double significance,—seven different forms of government, and seven mountains, afterwards to be more fully explained, (Ch. xvii. 9, 10.) The “name of blasphemy” may indicate “eternal city, mistress of the world.”—Of this characteristic of the beast, other examples will be discovered hereafter.
Daniel was solicitous to “know the truth (interpretation) of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others,” (Ch. vii. 19.) Although “diverse from all the others” in geographical extent and destructive power, this fourth beast combined in one all the ravenous propensities of the three predecessors, but in reverse order. The “leopard, bear and lion of Daniel,” by which Grecian, Persian and Chaldean dynasties were symbolized, are all comprised in John’s beast of the sea,—the antichristian Roman empire. Since this beast of the sea embodies all the voracious properties of the three persecuting powers which went before it; this may be a suitable place briefly to review the sufferings inflicted by them upon the saints, that we may know what the witnesses were taught to expect at the hands of this monstrous enemy.—”Israel is a scattered sheep, the lions have driven him away: first, the king of Assyria hath devoured him, and last, this Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones.—The violence done to me and to my flesh, be upon Babylon, shall the inhabitant of Zion say; and, My blood upon the inhabitants. of Chaldea, shall Jerusalem say.” (Jer. l. 17; li. 35.)—“Haman, the son Hammedatha, the Agagite, the Jews’ enemy, thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone.”—“If it please the king, let it be written that they (the whole people) may be destroyed; and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver,—to bring it into the king’s treasuries.”—“Behold also the gallows, fifty cubits high, which Haman had made for Mordecai, who had spoken good for the king, standeth in the house of Haman. Then the king said, Hang him thereon.” (Esth. iii. 1, 9; vii. 9.) Such were the crimes and such the punishments of the enemies of God’s people in Babylon and Persia, as already matter of inspired history: and had we equally full and authentic records of the punishments as we have of the cruelties of Antiochus and other successors of Alexander the Great, the king of Greece, we would see, as in the other cases, “the just reward of the wicked.” Of all these idolatrous, tyrannical and persecuting powers, which the Divine Spirit represented by beasts of prey, it was foretold that they were to be removed in succession and with violence. This fourth beast, “dreadful and terrible and strong exceedingly, was to devour and break in pieces, and stamp the residue with the feet of it.” (Dan, vii. 7.) Moreover, while it is predicted of them that “they had their dominion taken away,” it is also added,—“yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time,” (v. 12;) That is, though their distinct and successive dominions were severally swept from the earth, yet their lives,—the diabolical principles by which they had been actuated survived; and these passed, by a kind of transmigration, into the body of the fourth beast. This transition of animating principles or imperial policy of inveterate hostility to the kingdom of God, we think, is plainly indicated by the three features of this beast of the sea, the “leopard, bear and lion.” If these three “slew their thousands,” this monster has slain his ten thousands” of the saints; and the remnant of the woman’s seed are yet to be ‘“slain as they were,” (Ch. vi. 11.)
“The dragon gave him his power,”—physical force, “his seat” or throne,—his right to reign, “and great authority,”—dominion—by the voice of the people. Thus, it is obvious that the seven—headed, ten—horned beast is the first, and the oldest, among the combined enemies of the Christian church; all of whose origin is from the dragon, the abyss or bottomless pit. The writers of the church of Rome, while forced to acknowledge that this beast is emblematical of the Roman empire, still insist that pagan Rome is intended. It is sufficient in opposition to this false interpretation to observe, that the beast appears to John with crowns, not upon his heads, but upon his horns, denoting the actual division of the empire into ten kingdoms: an event which did not transpire till after the empire had become nominally Christian under the reign of Constantine the Great. The reign of this emperor and his successors, by their largesses fostered the luxurious propensities of the Christian ministry, and so contributed to prepare the way for the rise of the next enemy in this antichristian confederacy against the witnesses.—The “head wounded unto death is the sixth. John says expressly, elsewhere, “five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come,” (Ch. xvii. 10.) The “five fallen” were, kings, consuls, dictators, deceivers, and military tribunes. All these forms of civil government had passed before the time of the apostle. The one existing in his time, was the sixth head,—the emperors; by one of whom the apostle was now subjected to banishment in the desert isle of Patmos. This wound is supposed by some to be the change from paganism to Christianity in the empire. No; this view is many ways erroneous: but it is enough to remark that the Roman empire, according to both prophets, Daniel and John, is to continue bestial under all changes, during the whole period of 1260 years. The deadly wound was inflicted by the northern invaders who overturned the empire, and, for the time, extinguished the very name of emperor in the person of Augustulus. After the division of the western member of the empire had been subdivided among the victorious leaders of the invaders from the north, and the people of that section supposed the beast slain, the throne of Constantinople continued to be occupied by the representative of the empire. In the popular apprehension the imperial head of the beast seemed to be utterly cut off by the sword of Odoacer,—“wounded by a sword:” but the several kingdoms into which the empire was divided, in process of time became united in the bonds of an apostate faith. The imperial name and dignity were revived in the person of the emperor of Germany, Charlemagne, in 800; and by the wars among the horns of the beast, the title of emperor has been claimed alternately by Germany, Austria and France, down to our own time. These dissensions and rivalries among the sovereigns of Europe,—the mystic horns of the beast, were foreshadowed in the Babylonish monarch’s dream:—“the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly broken,—they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay,” (Dan. ii. 42, 43.) And doubtless these internal commotions among the common enemies of the saints of God, have tended, in divine mercy, to divert their attention occasionally from the witnesses. While they have been made the instruments of mutual punishment, the Lord’s people have been “hid in the day of his fierce anger.” (Zeph. ii. 8.)
At what time the sixth head of the beast disappeared and the seventh became developed, is not clearly marked in the Apocalypse, and it is of comparatively little importance, since .the latter is to “continue a short space,” (Ch. xvii. 10.) The central fact is the continuance of the beast a definite time under all the heads,—1260 years. Under all the forms of government through which the empire passed, it continued bestial and was the object of popular admiration. “All the world wondered after the beast.” The populace made court to, fawned upon, followed in the train, or formed the retinue of the beast. We are to limit the phrase, “all the world,” for not all the inhabitants are to be understood, but such only as professed allegiance to the existing imperial dominion; and among those within the beast’s territorial jurisdiction, the witnesses still stood to their protest against his impious claims.—But from admiration and loyalty, the servile multi—rude break forth into adoration, addressing the dragon and the beast in such language as is proper to God only. (Ps. lxxxix. 6.) The shouts of the rabble on Herod’s birthday may illustrate the conduct of these votaries of the beast and dragon. (Acts xii. 22.) The poor ignorant and deluded subject; in rendering homage to the beast, did homage to the devil, from whom the power was derived. Such is the degradation to which man is reduced by blind obedience to despotic power, whether civil or ecclesiastical. He glories in the chains which bind him!—And this is the actual and voluntary condition of the great majority of the population of Christendom at the present hour. There has been, indeed, within the current century, an effort by the masses of people to assert their natural and civil rights, to regain the exercise of the elective franchise; but in selecting candidates to bear rule over them, they generally prefer such as are, like the majority of themselves,—“aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise,” Hence, “vile men are exalted, the wicked bear rule, and the people mourn.” (Ps. xii 8; Prov. xxix. 2.)—The “blasphemies”. uttered by this beast are all those royal prerogatives claimed by the several crowned horns or civil sovereigns who have established idolatry and superstition within their respective dominions. The “blasphemous headship” over the church of Christ, as viewed and designated by his persecuted disciples in the British empire, may tend to illustrate this part of the beast’s history. King Henry VIII. of England, upon renouncing the civil and ecclesiastical headship of the Pope, proceeded to usurp an ecclesiastical headship within his own dominions; and all his royal successors till the present day have asserted a similar dominion over the faith of the Lord’s people. As an “inherent right of the crown, the sovereign of Britain, male or female, is declared to be “supreme judge in all causes, as well ecclesiastical as civil!” The rest of the horns are no less blasphemous in their haughty pretensions. History attests that the martyrs of Jesus denounced these encroachments on the prerogatives of Christ, and the intrinsic power of his church, as “Erastian supremacies,—blasphemous supremacies.” Most expositors tell us that the blasphemies are chargeable to the Pope or to the Romish church. But this interpretation confounds this beast of the sea with the apostate church of Rome; and indeed this confounding of symbols and consequent mistaking of objects in actual history, are the primary errors of expositors in nearly all their attempts at expounding the Apocalypse. This first beast of John, and fourth of Daniel, however, is wholly secular or civil; and clearly distinguished by both inspired prophets, from the other agents of the dragon, as we shall find in the subsequent part of this chapter. This beast “blasphemes the name of God” by compelling men to worship idols and images, enacting penal statutes and issuing bloody edicts to force their consciences. He “blasphemes his tabernacle,” when stigmatizing the assemblies of God’s worshipping people as “traitorous conspiracies, rendezvouses of rebellion,”—“and them that dwell in heaven,” he blasphemes by calling them “incendiaries, fanatics, enthusiasts, rebels and traitors;” for all these terms of reproach are well authenticated in history, as heaped upon the faithful and heroic servants of Christ. Those who suppose that the phrase “them that dwell in heaven,” means saints departed and angels as worshipped by papists in obedience to the Romish church, make two mistakes, the one, that ecclesiastical power is here intended, whereas we have already shown that the power is civil; the other, that the word “heaven” is to be taken in a literal sense, contrary to the symbolic structure of the whole context. All history, so far as authentic, teaches that the civil powers throughout Christendom, attempt to coerce by penal inflictions the consciences of all who refuse obedience to their commands, no less than the church of Rome. Even constitutional guarantees of liberty of conscience have never secured the witnesses from the savage rage of the beast or any of his infuriated: horns. Witness the history of the bloody house of the Stuarts of Britain. In vain did the victims of papal and prelatic cruelty plead, in their just defence in the seventeenth century, the constitution and laws of their native land! Those who have done violence to the law of God, will always disregard human enactments which stand in the way of their ambitious schemes. Their own laws will be treated as ropes of sand, as Samson’s withs, and the blood of saints as water. Such is persecution.—The seventh verse, expressing the beast’s victory over the saints and the extent of his power, is explanatory of Ch. xi. 7, 9; and the time of his continuance, (v. 5,) is the same as the treading under foot of the city, (Ch. xi. 2,) so that we are assured of the agreement in time between the events here and those of the first part of the eleventh chapter. Also, the parties here presented are the same as in the two preceding chapters, only they are exhibited in different aspects by appropriate symbols.—The worshippers of the beast include all under his dominion except those: “whose names were written in the book of life.”—This book is different both from the sealed book, (Ch. 5;) and also from the open book, (Ch. 10.) It is the register, as it were, of the names of all whom the Father gave to the Son, to be by him brought to glory. (John xvii. 2; Heb. ii. 10; Rev. xx. 12, 15.) During the whole reign of the beast, these are preserved, having been “sealed unto the day of redemption.” In the seventh chapter we had the angels employed in holding the four winds of the earth, till these servants of God were sealed in their foreheads, before the first alarm should be given by the trumpets. The book of life contained their names from the foundation,—before the foundation of the world. (Eph. i. 4.) They were in time “sealed with that Holy spirit of promise,” so that it was impossible to deceive them; either by lying wonders or the serpent’s sophistry (Eph. i. 13; Matt. xxiv. 24.) The Lamb may be said to be “slain from the foundation of the world” in the purpose of God, (2 Tim. i. 9,) in sacrifice, (Gen, iv. 4,) in the ceremonial law and prophecy. (Matt. xi. 13,) and in the efficacy of his satisfaction rendered to divine justice, for which the Father gave him credit from the fall of man. (Rom. iii. 25.)—So many erroneous views have been taken, and false interpretations given of this chapter in particular, as of the Apocalypse in general, that the Divine Spirit calls special attention here to the rise, reign and ruin of the beast of the sea, The prophetic description of this beast in an especial manner is of such importance to instruct, and thereby sustain and comfort, the suffering disciples of Christ, that he causes his servant John to pause, as it were, and allow the reader to reflect. Indeed, wherever a note of attention is thus given, we may be sure that something “hid from the wise and prudent” is intended. Accordingly, it were endless to follow the vagaries of even learned men dealing out their “private interpretations” of this chapter. Yet the understanding of its general outlines was at the bottom of the Reformation by Luther, his colleagues and successors. Elsewhere, however, we may take occasion to notice how vague, and inadequate, and bold, were some of their conceptions; all going to show the seasonableness of the solemn admonition,—“If any man have an ear, let him hear.”—The beast is to be treated as he dealt with the victims of his cruelty. He is justly doomed to captivity and death. “The beast was taken and—cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone,” (Ch. xix. 20.) “Tophet is ordained of old.” It was used by the prophets as a figure of hell. (Is. xxx. 33.) To this place, whence there is no redemption, this monstrous beast was to be consigned, as predicted by the prophet Daniel, (vii: 11,)—“The beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame.” In the protracted contest of 1260 years with this imperial power, “the patience and the faith of the saints were exemplified. Faith and patience would be more severely tried in this case than in any other; as the period of persecution was to be of much longer continuance than any that had preceded since the beginning of the world. (Heb. vi 12.)
11. 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.
V. 11.—John “beheld another beast,”—therefore not the same, as many expositors strangely suppose. No one can have an intelligent understanding of this chapter unless he views the beast of the sea and the beast of the earth as perfectly distinct. As the former arose out of a revolutionary state of society, and was consequently more clearly marked in history, so the latter grew “up out of the earth” more quietly. and gradually, like a spear of grass,—we “know not how.” As this second beast of the Apocalypse is to act a prominent part in the scenery afterwards pre—sensed in vision to the apostle, and a correspondent part in actual history, and as it is called by different names and appeals under different aspects, it is necessary that its character be closely inspected, so that its identity may be clearly ascertained. The description here given is very minute. One thing is very obvious,—that this beast of the earth is the confederate, the ally, and the accomplice of the beast of the sea. They act in concert. They had been thus represented in vision to Darnel. In the seventh chapter of that prophecy we have the beast of the sea, as here, With his “ten horns,” (v. 7.) While the prophet narrowly “considered the horns, behold, there came up among them another little horn,” (v. 8.) It has been already shown that these horns represent the kingdoms into which the Roman empire was divided, (v. 24.) Among these horns, kings: (v. 24,) or kingdoms, “another shall rise after them,”—“among them,” yet in the order of time,—“after them,” Thus it appears that Daniel’s fourth beast had eleven horns; but the eleventh is called “another which came up;” to distinguish it from the ten, (v. 20.) “He shall be diverse from the first,” (v. 24.) It is thus evident that the last horn,—the eleventh, is as really a horn of the beast, as the other ten; and of course this horn, “little” at its rise, but in time becoming “more stout than his fellows,” is the willing accomplice in crime of that beast whose horn it is. “The same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them,” (V. 21.)—“He had two horns like a lamb.” He professed to be gentle and innocent as a lamb,—to be the vicegerent of the “Lamb of God.” He claimed. only a spiritual jurisdiction. As it is natural that a lamb should have: only two horns, so the symbol is agreeable to nature. But this lamb “spake as a dragon;” and that was contrary to nature. No two animals in creation are in their respective natures more diverse or opposite than a lamb and a beast of prey. These two antagonistic natures combined, indicate the crafty and cruel policy of this beast; of the earth. Daniel mentions the “little horn” of the civil beast; but says nothing of the “two horned beast.” On the other hand, John speaks plainly of this beast of the earth, but omits any mention of the “little horn.” But the “beast of the earth” and the “little horn” sustain the same relation to the first beast, the “beast of the sea”—the Roman empire; therefore the “two-horned beast of the earth” and the “little horn” are identical; and this identity is confirmed by the additional name “false prophet,” given to the beast of the earth in Ch. xix. 20. His alliance and co—operation with the civil beast is precisely the same as in this chapter. He “wrought miracles before him,” that is,—in his interest. Some interpreters have mistaken this “false prophet, as a symbol of Mahometanism. The facts of, history demonstrate the fallacy of this interpretation; for the delusions of Mahomet never had, and they have not now, any affinity with the idolatries of the Latin Roman empire. But these two beasts of the sea and of the earth are obviously in the closest sympathy, having a common interest.
12. 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, whose deadly wound was healed.
V. 12.—The second beast “exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him,”—in his presence, or under his sanction and powerful protection. Thus the state, or empire, lays the church under obligation, and of course expects a reciprocity of kind offices. This is effected by the beast of the earth “causing the earth—to worship the first beast.” By force and craft this is accomplished. By his, “two horns” of power, the regular and secular orders of the hierarchy, as from the mouth of a “dragon,” he enjoins “submission to the (civil) powers that be.” But besides the horns of power, that is, ecclesiastical authority, this beast of the earth, in order more effectually to enforce his commands to worship the first or civil beast, resorts to “great wonders,—miracles,” (vs. 13, 14,)—“lying wonders;” (2 Thess. ii. 9,) for Paul and John agree in their description of the same diabolical agency.” As Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses,—magicians doing so with their enchantments,”—“beguiling unstable souls,” so this second beast “maketh fire to come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of (credulous) men.” (2 Tim. iii. 8; Exod. viii 22; Acts viii. 9—11.) The venal ministry of the heathenized church, (Ch. xi. 2,) inculcate passive obedience to the beast of the sea, as to the “ordinance of God;” to “resist” which, subjects the recusant to “damnation” (Rom. xiii. 2.) Here, then, we behold the counterfeits of the two great ordinances of church and state, against which it is the special duty and arduous work of the two witnesses to contend for, 1260 years. This “false prophet,” who ‘‘spake as a dragon, and made fire to come down from heaven,” to authenticate his divine mission, may represent the bulls, anathemas, interdicts, encyclical letters, which emanate from Rome, together with the less terrifying mandates of her coadjutors,—“daughters.”
13. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth, in the sight of men,
14. 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; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
15. And he had power to give life unto 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.
16. 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 foreheads:
17. And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
Vs. 18, 17.—This lamb—like beast of the earth devises another agency, by which to subserve his own diabolical interest, as well as that of the “first beast.” He causes to be made “an image” to or of the beast of the sea. Of images in general, as objects of idolatrous worship, we are warranted to say,—they are dead and dumb idols; (Ch. ix. 20; Jer. x. 14:) but this one is altogether different. And it is surprising to find learned expositors fixing upon the superstitious use of the cross by the papists, as exemplifying this symbol. The Holy Spirit, as if to guard all readers against such misapprehension, declares explicitly, that this image has “life, speaks,” and acts. The only point in which this image resembles others is, that it is to be worshipped but of all others we are assured that they “cannot do evil,” (Jer. x. 5,) This image has such “life,” (breath,) and power as to cause the death of such, as refuse to worship itself. Three agents are to be noticed and clearly distinguished here,—the ten—horned beast of the sea, the two—horned beast of the earth, and the image of the beast. At the instance of the second beast, an image is made; not to or of himself, but to, and also of, the first beast. Now, as the beasts put forth their power by their horns, so this ecclesiastical beast of the earth makes the image by his horns. In short, history explains the symbols. The Roman clergy,—the horns, the cardinals, create the Pope; and, in their own ceremonial and language,—quem creant, adorant, “whom they create, they adore;” like all other idolaters. Thus, the Pope becomes the “man of sin, sitting in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God,” (2 Thess. ii. 4.) The Pope is the most perfect image of the Roman emperor; claiming the same universal dominion, the same titles and prerogatives, in the same city: but the Pope and the emperor never identify. They are always distinct. Two authoritative measures are to be specially noticed in this connexion; one by the beast of the earth, the other by the image of the beast of the sea. The image demands worship under pain of death. All heretics are judged worthy of death. All are required by the second beast to receive the mark of the first or civil beast. The penalty in this case is privation of civil and political privileges,—to “buy or sell,” It is to be noticed here that the “mark” is imposed by the authority of the ecclesiastical power, the two horned beast. As there is liability to mistake as to which of the two beasts the “mark” refers, and as this mistake is in fact generally made by expositors, the apostle John has been directed, as in the case of the image, to be peculiarly explicit, that all may know it to be the mark of the first beast. (See Chs. xv. 2; xix. 20; xx. 4.) But it will be asked,—What are we to understand by the “mark?” This question is easily answered from history. The heathen idolater gloried in his devotion to his imaginary god; as the ivy leaf was the token of the worshippers of Bacchus soldiers bore the initials of the names of their commanders; and slaves, of their masters. These characters were impressed on the foreheads or other part of the persons of individuals. The general idea suggested by the “mark” was subjection or property. In short, the mark of the beast signifies open and avowed allegiance to antichristian or immoral civil power, when in the “forehead;” and active co—operation with the same, when in the “hand.” It is at once a pitiable and culpable error, to suppose, as many preposterously do, that this “mark of the beast” is popery! And as the “mark” is the recognised badge of loyalty to civil rule, of course the prohibition to “buy or sell,” must signify civil disabilities,—disfranchisement. Men who suffer, necessarily feel. Christ’s witnesses, as they only have the scriptural conception of the rights of man. have long been familiar with the deprivation of their rights, both civil and ecclesiastical. The moral evils incorporated in the constitutions of church and state, throughout all the streets of mystic Babylon, have effectually excluded the two witnesses, and left them in the “wilderness.” Here is their destined “place,” and here they are to be “nourished from the face of the serpent” for 1260 years. Christ’s promise,—“I will not leave you comfortless,” (orphans,) is all along verified in their soul—satisfying experience.—This will appear in the next chapter.
18. 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 six hundred threescore and six.
V. 18.—“The name of the beast,” since the time of Ireneus, the disciple of Polycarp, who was cotemporary with the apostle John, is understood to be Lateinos, or Lateinus; for it is well known to scholars, that classical usage justifies the orthography of this word. However learned men may indulge their fancy, and sport with this mystic and sacred name and number, no other word fills up all the conditions required by the inspired writer. Latinus is the proper name of the “first beast,” the Latin empire: it is the name common to the whole population of the empire, the Latins: it is the name of the founder of the empire, Latinus; and it contains the number, 666. The probability that this word contains the requisite name and number, amounts almost to a certainty. The unlearned reader may be easily taught to understand how to “count the number of the beast.” Of course, the apostle John accommodated his expressions to the custom of his own age. Well, even children soon learn to number or count by the use of Roman letters of the alphabet. They know that the letter I. stands for one; V. for five, etc. Now, in the apostolic age, the Jews, Greeks and Romans, were accustomed to express numbers by the use of the letters of their respective alphabets. This we suppose to be the only rational and probable method of solving the mystery.
In this chapter we have the fullest exhibition of the great antichristian confederacy, spoken of by prophets and apostles, including the “man of sin, to be revealed in his time.” The component parts of that complex moral person called “Antichrist,” are here graphically portrayed. The three most prominent features are the two beasts of the sea and of the earth, with the image of the first; or, a tyrannical empire, an apostate church, and the Pope. To suppose that the Antichrist is a power or moral person distinct from these,—a “wilful, infidel or a theistical king,” is a mere chimera framed in a learned brain, disordered by antichristian politics. The chief, if not the only ostensible ground of such hypothesis is the language of our apostle, (1 John ii. 22.) “He is Antichrist that denieth the Father and the Son.” The sound of the words of Scripture is too often mistaken for the sense. This is a notable example. From the words of our Divine Redeemer,—“My Father is greater than I, Socinians infer the essential inferiority of the Son to the Father. So in the preceding instance. The inference is, that the Antichrist is to be known by a doctrinal denial of deity. But the very name of this enemy of all righteousness, Antichrist, demonstrates his recognition of the existence and office of our Saviour. For why should he oppose a nonentity? All scholars are aware that the primary meaning of anti, is substitution, (Matt. xx. 28.) Antichrist usurps Christ’s place in church and state, that he may more successfully oppose his interest. There is no mystery to the intelligent Christian in the declaration, that men too often “profess that they know God, but in works deny him.” This explains the fact of Antichrist’s denying the Father and the Son. Usurping the prerogatives of the Mediator is a practical denial of him,—of his authority, and by consequence, of the Father who sent him. “He that acknowledgeth the Son,” in this sense, “hath the Father also; while it is equally true, in the same sense,—“whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father.” (1 John ii. 2—3.) Hence it is not true that the Pope is the Antichrist of prophecy, nor the church of Rome, nor both combined; but Daniel’s ten—horned beast,—John’s seven—headed, ten—horned beast, which are the same: Daniel’s little horn and John’s beast of the earth, which are the same; together with the image of the first beast the Saracenic locusts and Euphratean horsemen;—all these go to the composition of the Antichrist, they “eastern and western Antichrist,” so identified and familiarly designated by the martyrs and witnesses of Jesus for hundreds of years. The great family of nations, called “the nations of this world,” (Chap. xi. 15;) in unholy alliance with a gentile church; (Ch. xi. 2;) these combined, constitute the Antichrist. They “will not have this man to reign over them.” Against this combination it is the appointed business,—the life of the two witnesses, to prophesy for a definite period of 42 months, 1260 days, time, times and a half; all indicating the same duration, 1260 natural years. All this time the witnesses are alive and active, but in an obscure and depressed condition, wearing sackcloth in the wilderness, “not reckoned, (not reckoning themselves,) among the nations.” (Num. xxiii. 9; Dan. vii. 22, 27; Rev. xx. 4.) Such is the condition of the saints, and such the powerful combination against them, as symbolically represented in the 11th, 12th and 13th chapters of the Apocalypse. And in this prolonged and eventful conflict we may with Moses, “turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.” (Exod. iii. 3.) The Lord was in the bush, and “greater is he that is in them than he that is in the world.” (1 John iv. 4.) This will appear in the following chapter.