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sea, by the instrumentality of the false prophet, will once more summon all his powers into action, and make most strenuous, and desperate efforts, to regain his lost power and authority ; which may yet prove a fiery ordeal to the Protestant churches in Europe.
And he doth great wonders. The opinion of the learned Faber and other expositors, that heaven in this verse signifies the church, is I think totally 'untenable. For this beast, which they also term the ecclesiastical beast, arose in the Church, exercised his power there, and procured worshippers to the first beast, and all this St. John says, was done on the earth; how now can heaven mean the same thing ? If the earth here signifies the interior continent of the Western Roman empire, which is agreed on all sides, then heaven. must mean the natural heaven, or the atmosphere ; otherwise there would be 110 homogeneity between the figures in the language of the 3postle. Bengelius has seen this mistake, and therefore took the earth here to signify Asia, or a Pagan country, in order to denote a different object from the word heavtal. This erroneous conception has led those eminent authors into another mistake, of believing this prophecy accomplished by those pretended miracles and lying wonders, which the artful and cunning of the Roman clergy, have imposed on the credulous laity of their church. But the wonders of the false prophet in these enlightened days, will be more specious than all those villanous deceptions, and of a wholly distinct, more important and delusive nature. They will consist in strange and miraculous oper: ations, achieved by a hidden knowledge of the secret powers and mysteries of nature, and by the actual co-operation of Satan and his angels, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders ; insomuch that, if it were possible they shall deceive the very elect. II Thess. II, 9. 10. 11. 12. These wonders themselves will probably be no frauds; the deception consists in the object, for which the false
prophet shall perform them, and in ascribing them to the immediate power of the Lord, to exalt the virtue, power & authority of the first beast. All this will not seem improbable to those, who are acquainted with the marvellous phenomena which may be produced by Electricity, Animal-magnetism, Galvanism, the magick arts, and the discoveries which have been made of late in the secret powers of nature. Great discoveries may yet be made, and used to wicked purposes.t
He maketh fire come down. The scriptures declare, that the Lord will suffer Satan to perform miracles for two purposes only; first, to try the faith and love of his people, Deut. XIII, 3.4. and secondly, when he determines to let those fall into strong delusions, who wilfully reject the love of truth, for a considerable time. Math. XXIV, 24. JI Thess. II, 11. In both cases the Lord provides for his people, that their faith may not fail Math. XXIV, 24. Luke XXII, 32. This is our comfort, if we even should be destitude of knowledge suficient to distinguish between the miracles of the Lord, and the wonders of Satan and evil spirits. The false prophet performs many wonders, but in the kind alluded to by this expression, he seems to exert the very utmost of his power.
I cannot conceive that it should surpass the natural power of a spirit, upon the prediction of the false prophet, to collect a mass of particles of light from the surrounding atmosphere, and throw it into a thousand different forms before the eyes of a gazing multitude ; or to make it descend to the earth, in order to astonish and delude a superstitious people. This would appear to be a miracle, though in reality it were no more then the natural effect
+Those who are desirous to satisfy their curiosity on this subject, may read the works of Eckartshausen, Schwedenburg, Falk, Schræpfer, Bæhmer, Stillings Theorie der Geister-K’unde, and particularly the works of Messmer, Wienholt of Bremer, Bockman'of Charlesruhe & Dr. Gmelng of Heilbrunn.
of an invisible cause, in connexion with the false prophet, accomplishing a diabolical design.
Verse 14. And deceivethby those miracles, saying-they should make an image to the beast. The false prophet performs these miracles under the authority, and in the presence of the first beast. This verse developes his deep scheme, and the final aim of his actions. His prin. cipal design is, to induce the inhabitants within the limits of the ancient Roman empire, that they should make an image to the beast. In order to illustrate this point, on which expositors have been much at variance, it is necessary to determine most distinctly, what is meant by the beast; without which we shall not be able to form a correct idea of the nature, and design of his image.
It is perhaps not generally known among Protestants, that those Roman Catholic writers, most intimately acquainted with the spirit and nature of the hierarchy, make a great distinction between the Pope, and the person who fills the Roman chair. This word, Pope, in its first and principal signification, since the days of Gregory VII, signifies the Roman hierarchy, considered as a divine establishment and succession of supreme power and authority on earth in Church and state, and endowed by a superior spirit in all its proceedings, for universal dominion ;-whereas in the second sense of the word, it only signifies the person who fills that chair, considered as the instrument of divine choice after his election. Thus they distinguish between the bishop of Rome, the temporal prince of a territory in Italy, and the Pope ; contend. ing, that though Pious VII may die, yet the Pope can never die. The learned know this to be a modern idea, coeval with the Gregorian succession of the papacy, and never thought of during the first centuries of the Christian era. The papacy then, as established on the Gregorian foundation for supreme power, and universal dominion in Christendom, is the beast of the sea: or that wicked estab.
lishment at Rome, to govern the world solely, as vicegerant and in place of God.
Now the image of the beast can neither be the Pope, the monastic order, the German empire, nor the inquisition, as those learned authors Bp. Newton, Mr. Mede, Whitaker, Sir Isaac Newton and Dr. Young have severally maintained ; for the three last were never worshipped, which is expressly asserted of this image chap. XIV, 9. and the first is the beast itself. Dr. Zouch, and after him Faber, are of opinion, that it signifies image-worship. But this impious worship of saints, images and relics, was established before the end of the seventh century,* and of course many centuries prior to the rise of the second beast; where St. John here takes notice of an image, which was only now brought into existence for the first time, long after the rise of the second beast, after it had already assumed the character of the false prophet, and at the then present time in the course of this prophecy. After considering all that is said concerning this image in the prophecy, it does not appear to refer to any body or society of men, or to any rational being, capable of punishment. For it is neither represented as engaged in the last rebellion, nor as incurring the divine vengeance, like the beast, the false prophet and its worshippers ; but exhibited as wholly passive, and a mere senseless tool of artful imposture, to raise the glory of the first beast. The learned Bengelius has taken this word in its literal sense of a graven image, made either of gold, silver, wood or stone; and I prefer his interpretation to all which I have mentioned. It will most assuredly be an image exhibited somewhere, which will probably be imitated throughout the Roman Catholic community on the globe, by all the abettors of popery. Dan. III, 1. chap. II, 38. This prophecy may probably admit of an increasing comple
* History of the Decline and fall, Vol. IX. p. 114-120. by Gibbon.
tion, of which image-worship may be the prelude, and this image here its consummate accomplishment.
The image is said to be made tw Ingia, to the beast, to be n Errwv tov Inę18, the image of the beast, and try € 1 2016 avrov his image, verse 15. chap. xiv, 9. xv, 2. XVI, 2. XIX, 20.xx, 4. From these passages I conclude, that it will be an image representing the power, virtues and glory of the Gregorian succession of the Papacy; which has canonized so many saints for the adoration of its adherents, and will now manage to be worshipped itself, by the artful imposture of the false prophet, throughout all the countries of his ecclesiastical jurisdiction. It is worthy of remark, that, though the Pope has sainted so many hundred of the abettors of his hierarchy, and decreed their images to be exhibited in the temples of his Church ; yet the fountain head of all canonization has hitherto been left without enjoying the honour of an image. But it will have one now; and this will serve as a test and Shibboleth, to confirm his power, and discover secret hereticks.
The beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did lite. The false prophet mentions the wound himself, being still irritated to think of those disasters ; but he now refers to it with specious arguments, to increase the reputation and establish the pretensions of the beast. This expression also serves to discriminate between the two beasts, and to point out that one, for which this image shall be made. It is the wound explained verse 3, which is here more distinctly expressed than ver. 12.
Verse 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.