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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 Six hundred threescore and six." This second beast is the spiritual Latin empire, or the Roman hierarchy, or body of the clergy regular and secular, denoted by its two horns; with which its pretended miracles, image worship, mark of the cross, excommunications from secular privileges, and name agree. The latter, whether we take Aareivos, Lateinos, or , Romiith, or n Aarıvn Baoλɛia, the Latin kingdom,' equally amounts to 666.*
The state of the church in the wilderness, and the reformation from, and fall of Popery, Rev. xv. This chapter contains a vision of the true ' church, in the wilderness,' during the period of the domination of the Beast and its image, and the emblematical representations of the progressive reformation from popery. The first angel (v. 6, 7.) probably refers to the dawning of the reformation in the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries, particularly to the Waldenses and Albigenses; the second, (ver. 8.), to the Bohemians, with John Huss and Jerome of Prague, in the 15th century; and the third, to Luther and his coadjutors, who protested against popery as a damnable religion. But the voices of these angels not having due influence and effect, the judgments of God, as here represented, will overtake the beast and its adherents. These, as well as the events in the following chapter, evidently appear to be still future.*
(§ 7.) The pouring out of the seven vials of the wrath of God, comprehended under the seventh trumpet, Rev. xvi. This chapter introduces the seven vials, all of which are comprehended under the seventh trumpet, as the seven trumpets were included under the seventh seal; for they contain 'the seven last plagues,' in which is filled up the wrath of God,' on the persecuting idolatrous power.-Not only the concinnity of this prophecy requires this order, but if these plagues be not the last woe, it is no where described; while the many fruitless attempts made to explain them, plainly shew that the hand of time must be the interpreter.*
The vision of the great whore, Rev. xvii. "And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication." Whoredom in Scripture frequently denotes idolatry; and how many kings and nations has Papal Rome intoxicated with the wine of her fornications!' By the most subtle insinuations and politic management, she has obtained and preserved her ascendancy; attaching them to her usurped authority in blind submission, inducing them to conform to her idolatries, and intoxicating and maddening multitudes, by their zeal for that church, to murder their unoffending neighbours by tens of thousands !* "So he carried me away
in the spirit into the wilderness." The desolate state of the true church of Christ.* "And I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns." Doubtless the church of Rome, as she sits upon, or rules over the beast, which is the Latin empire, or the temporal power by which she is supported.* "And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication." Purple and scarlet are the distinguishing colours of popes and cardinals as well as of emperors and senators; and who can find adequate language to describe the pride, splendour, and magnificence of the church of Rome !* 66 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth." Her religion is a mystery of iniquity;' and her very title of the Roman Catholic,' or universal church,' entitles her to the name of 'Mystery, Babylon the Great.' It is asserted by several writers of good authority, that before the Reformation, the word MYSTERY was written in letters of gold on the front of the Pope's mitre.* "And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns. The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is." The Roman empire was the beast, or idolatrous persecuting power, when under the Pagan emperors; it ceased to be so, when it became Christian; and became so again under the Roman pontiffs, and shall go into perdition." "And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition." The seven kings are seven forms of government, which subsisted among the Romans. The 'five fallen' are kings, consuls, dictators, decemvirs, and military tribunes; the sixth, the one that is,' is the power of the Cæsars, or emperors; and the seventh is probably the exarch of Ravenna, or the dukedom of Rome. If this be reckoned a distinct form of government, then the beast is the eighth,' but if it be deemed too inconsiderable to be reckoned a distinct head, he is of the seven;' but whether the seventh or eighth, he is the last form of government in that idolatrous empire, and 'goeth into perdition.' * "And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten
• Comprehensive Bible, Note in loco.
but receive power as kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations and tongues. And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled." The ten horns, which the angel explained of 'ten kings,' or kingdoms, and which once exalted and supported her ecclesiastical tyrranny, will hate, desolate, strip, and devour her. They will be the principal instruments in the destruction of popery, and the ruin of Rome itself.* "And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth." The city which, at the time of the vision, reigned over the kings of the earth,' was undoubtedly Rome; and, from its foundation, it has, in different ways accomplished this object to the present time.*
§2. The remaining prophecies respecting the fall of the Mystical Babylon, (ch. xviii.) which is in effect the same as the destruction of the Great Whore; the Marriage supper of the Lamb, and the vision of the Word of God, (ch. xix.); the Millennium, the loosing of Satan, the destruction of Gog and Magog, and the last resurrection, (ch. xx.); the description of the New heaven and New earth, and the heavenly Jerusalem, (ch. xxi. xxii.) being all future, do not here require a more specific notice; and I would close this section, and this work, by the following observations on the Book of Revelation. Concerning this book, Dr. Priestley (no mean judge of Biblical subjects, where his own peculiar creed was not concerned) has declared, 'I think it impossible for any intelligent and candid person to peruse this Book without being struck, in the most forcible manner, with the peculiar dignity and sublimity of its composition, superior to that of any other writing whatever; so as to be convinced, that, considering the age in which it appeared, none but a person divinely inspired could have written it. These prophecies are also written in such a manner as to satisfy us, that the events announced to us were really foreseen; being described in such a manner as no person, writing without that knowledge, could have done. This requires such a mixture of clearness and obscurity, as has never yet been imitated by any forgers of prophecy whatever. Forgeries, written of course after the events, have always been too plain. It is only in the Scriptures, and especially in the Book of Daniel, and this of the Revelation, that we find this happy mixture of clearness and obscurity in the accounts of future events.' The obscurity of this
prophecy, which has been urged against its genuineness, necessarily results from the highly figurative and symbolical language in which it is delivered, and is, in fact, a strong internal proof of its authenticity and divine original: For it is a part of this prophecy,' as Sir Isaac Newton justly remarks, 'that it should not be understood before the last age of the world; and therefore it makes for the credit of the prophecy that it is not yet understood. The folly of interpreters has been, to foretell times and things by this prophecy, as if God designed to make them prophets. By this rashness, they have not only exposed themselves, but brought the prophecy also into contempt. The design of God was much otherwise. He gave this, and the prophecies of the Old Testament, not to gratify men's curiosities by enabling them to foreknow things, but that, after that they were fulfilled, they might be interpreted by the event; and his own Providence, not the interpreters, be then manifested thereby to the world. For the event of things, predicted many ages before, will then be a convincing argument that the world is governed by Providence. For, as the few and obscure prophecies concerning Christ's first coming were for setting up the Christian religion, which all nations have since corrupted; so the many and clear prophecies concerning the things to be done at Christ's second coming, are not only for predicting, but also for effecting a recovery and re-establishment of the long-lost truth, and setting up a kingdom wherein dwells righteousness. The event will prove the Apocalypse; and this prophecy, thus proved and understood, will open the old prophets; and all together will make known the true religion, and establish it. There is already so much of the prophecy fulfilled, that as many as will take pains in this study, may see sufficient instances of God's promise but then, the signal revolutions predicted by all the holy prophets, will at once both turn men's eyes upon considering the predictions, and plainly interpret them. Till then we must content ourselves with what hath been already fulfilled.' And, as Mr. Weston observes, 'if we were in possession of a complete and particular history of Asia, not only of great events, without person or place, names or dates, but of the exactest biography, geography, topography, and chronology, we might, perhaps, still be able to explain and appropriate more circumstances recorded in the Revelation, under the emperors of the East and the West, and in Arabia, Persia, Tartary, and Asia, the seat of the most important revolutions with which the history of Christianity has ever been interwoven and closely connected.' History is the great interpreter of prophecy. Prophecy is, as I may say,' observes Bp. Newton, history anticipated and contrasted; history is prophecy accomplished and dilated; and the prophecies of Scripture contain the fate of the most considerable nations, and the substance of the most memorable transactions in the world, from the earliest to the latest times. Daniel and St. John, with regard to those latter times, are more copious and particular than the other prophets. They exhibit a series and succession of the most impor
tant events, from the first of the four great empires to the consummation of all things. Their prophecies may really be said to be a summary of the history of the world; and the history of the world is the best comment upon their prophecies. ... and the more you know of ancient and modern times, and the farther you search into the truth of history, the more you will be satisfied of the truth of prophecy.' The Revelation was designed to supply the place of that continued succession of prophets, which demonstrated the continued providence of God to the patriarchal and Jewish churches. The majority of commentators on the Apocalypse,' says Mr. Townsend, 'generally acted on these principles of interpretation. They discover in this Book certain predictions of events which were fulfilled soon after they were announced; they trace in the history of later years various coincidences, which so fully agree with various parts of the Apocalypse, that they are justly entitled to consider them as the fulfilment of its prophecies; and, by thus tracing the one God of Revelation through the clouds of the dark ages, through the storms of revolutions and wars, through the mighty convulsions which, at various periods, have agitated the world, their interpretations, even when they are most contradictory, when they venture to speculate concerning the future, are founded on so much undoubted truth, that they have materially confirmed the wavering faith of thousands. Clouds and darkness must cover the brightness of the throne of God, till it shall please him to enable us to bear the brighter beams of his glory. In the meantime, we trace his footsteps in the sea of the Gentile world, his path in the mighty waters of the ambitious and clashing passions of man. We rejoice to anticipate the day when the bondage of Rome, which would perpetuate the intellectual and spiritual slavery of man, shall be overthrown, and the day-spring of united knowledge and holiness bless the world.'*
• Comprehensive Bible, Concluding Remarks on the Book of Revelation.