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THE THIRD GENERAL DESCRIPTION, CONTINUED; OR, THE BEAST
WITH TWO HORNS LIKE A LAMB.
Chap. xiii, 11-18.
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. 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. 13 And he doeth great wonders, so that ke 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 beust 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.
The former of these beasts we have considered as designed to symbolize the Roman empire under its last head, or that secular government which, in connexion with the ten horns or kingdoms of Europe, supported popery through all its foul and bloody deeds; but here arises another beast, diverse from the former, yet acting in concert with him. Daniel, when describing the fourth or Ro. man beast, speaks of a little horn which should grow up as it were. insensibly among the ten horns, and displace three of them. Joba says nothing of this little horn of Daniel, and Daniel is equally
silent about this second beast of John : but from the character given to them both, they appear to be one and the same, namely, that ecclesiastical power which was to co-exist with the secular, and both assist and be assisted by it.
This beast is described as “ rising out of the earth," in which particular it is distinguished from the other, which " rose out of the sea." For a beast to rise out of the sea is for an empire to rise out of the perturbed state of things in the world, and such was the empire before described : but for one to rise out of the earth is for a power to grow up insensibly, like a weed in a garden, out of the established order of things. Such was popery.
“And he bad two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon.” This perfectly answers to that affectation of Christian meekness, accompanied in reality by the spirit and doctrine of the wicked
On one occasion it can be the servant of servants ; on another the deposer of kings, and disposer of empires.
“He exerciseth all the power of the first beast, before, or in the sight of him ;" "He is (says Bishop NEWTON) the prime minister, adviser, and mover, of the first or secular beast. He holdeth imperium in imperio, an empire within an empire; claimeth a temporal authority as well as a spiritual ; bath not only the principal direction of the temporal powers, but often engagelh them in his service, and enforceth his canons and decrees with the sword of the civil magistrate.
65 He causetb men to worship the first beast." As the secular authority invested the ecclesiastical with power and riches and honours, so in return, the ecclesiastical, by consenting that Christianity should become an engine of state policy, and conscience itself be subjected to its interests, transferred that bomage to man which was due only to the eternal God. It is this ecclesiastical influence tbat bas constituted the European nations a continuation of the old Roman empire. It is the only bond which for ages bas held them together, so as to render them one great antichristian beast. Ver. 12.
He is next described by his pretended miracles. He doeth great wonders, so that he maketh (or seemeth to make) “ fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, and de
ceiveth them that dwell on the earth by means of those miracles which he bad power to do in the sight of the beast.” of his character answers to what was foretold by the apostle of the man of sin that he should come with “signs and lyitig wonders.” All these impositions of " the false prophet," as he is elsewhere called, * being wrought in the sight of the first beast, and in that of the people, were to ingratiate himself with them, and to persuade them that he was, as is said of the sorcerer, great power of God.” While therefore he was professing to honour magistracy, he was labouring to subject it to himself.
To show his devotion to the secular beast, he directs the people to make an image to him ; which being done, he after his manner endues it with life, and speech, and great authority : but all is “ deceit ;" for the object is not to exalt the secular beast, but himself.
This making of an image to the beast seems to allude to the heathen practice of making images to the deities. The gods tbemselves were supposed to be invisible. The same deity had images made to him in divers places. The design of making an image to a god would be to acknowledge bim as their deity, and to give a visibility and an establishment to his worship. To" make at image to the beast whose deadly wound was healed” would therefore be to give visibility and authority to his worship; or to require implicit obedience to his commands in whose reign paganism was revived under the name of Catholic Christianity! It is as guarantee of this system that the first beast is designated by the healing of his deadly wound, and that the second beast exerts all his influence, in bis favour.
It has been observed that while the secular beast is said to make war upon the saints, the ecclesiastical is only said to“ cuuse them to be killed.” The Council of Lateran decreed not to put heretics to death, but to deliver them over to the secular power to he killed ! " The inquisitors, (says BURNET,) on this occasion, with a disgusting affectation of lamb-like meekness, are wont to
beseech the civil magistrates to show mercy to those whom they themselves have given op to be consigned to the flames !" Ver. 15.
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 mun might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. 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.
Such was to be the growing influence of this last beast, that be could " cause” all ranks and degrees of men to enlist under the banners of the first, to receive like soldiers his mark and number, and so to be aiding and assisting in the execution of his measures. Such has actually been the conduct of the Roman hierarchy ; 80 that the common rights of men have been suspended on condition of their receiving the papal badge. Such, in fine, is the nature of the alliance established by this system between the ecclesiastical and the secular powers each plays into the other's hands : the church consents that religion shall be an engine of state policy, and in return the state supports the church in all her corrupt proceedings.
Respecting the “ mark” and the "name" of the beast, it is opposed, I conceive, to the seat of God on the foreheads of his servants. Chap. vii. And as the seal and name of God on the forehead appear to be the same (Compare Chap. vii. 3. with Chap. xiv. 1.); so may the mark and the name of the beast. Both are thought to allude to the ancient practice of marking servants and soldiers with their owner's name, in their forehead or in their band.
I cannot pretend to be certain what is meant by the “ name of the beast." It may be observed, however, that as the beast bere evidently means the secular, and not the ecclesiastical power,
there is a name given to him in the prophecy. He is called, The beast that was, and is not, and yet is (Chap. xvii. 8, 11.); the meaning of which I conceive to be, The government that existed in all its beastly properties as pagan, that appeared to bave lost them as Christian, but that in supporting a corrupted Christianity resumed them. In other words, it is paganism revived under the form of Catholic Christianity. Now as the names are signs of character, to have this name or mark of the beast would be the same thing as being openly of this character, or religion,
As to the "pumber of his name,” I have nothing to offer which is fully satisfactory to my own mind. It is something which requires "wisdom and understanding to count it;" and yet by its being " the number of a man," it would seem not to surpass human comprehension. It may be a name whose numerals amount to 666, as the Greek word hatesvos, or other words in which this number has been found: but as this appears to be merely conjecture, I leave it undecided.