« FöregåendeFortsätt »
portant questions, important indeed! to the farther elucidation of the prophecy.
1. What political power did the prophet intend to designate by "the beast of the bottomless pit?"
2. When, according to the prophesy, was it to" ascend on the earth," out of the bottomless pit?
3. What are we to understand by its "making war against, and overcoming, and killing "the two witnesses of God?"
1. In regard to the first question, the prophet having, under the allegory of " the court without the temple given to the gentiles," foretold the coming of the two monstrous apostacies, the Mohamedan and Papal, proceeds in this, and the following verses, to declare also, that " another" power, which he describes under the figure of a "beast to ascend out of the bottomless pit," should arise in the world; and according to the usage of historians, and particularly the sacred penmen, begins his narration with an account of the origin and birth of The "beast;" or the place whence it should ascend. The prophet Daniel, for instance, saw the "four great beasts," which were the types of the four great empires," come up out of the great sea," while the four winds of heaven strove upon it," to represent that they should be empires, strong and powerful as the whirlwind, formed by the contest of the four cardinal winds; prostrating all before them, and extending their conquests "northward, south
ward, eastward, and westward*." St John in his prophesy of the rise of the Papal hierarchy†, tells us, that, while "standing upon the sand of the sea," he saw a " beast rise up out of the sea," without any intimation that it was agitated, at the time, by the wind, and therefore at a time when it was calm; to denote, that the power foretold should acquire and maintain its authority, not so much by war, as by policy and craft. Moreover, in describing the Mohamedan power, he says, he saw "a star fall from heaven unto the earth," who opened the bottomless pit, and let out a smoke "as the smoke of a great furnace, which dark"ened the sun and the airt;" to represent that the power foretold should pretend, that he obtained his revelation and authority from God; and yet his doctrines should be false and impious, and involve the revealed word of God (or the sun,) and the reason of man (the air,) in complete sensual darkness and ignorance.
So here the same authority foretels, in the comprehensible and forcible trope of "a beast that "shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and kill "the two witnesses of God:" i. e. the rise and establishment of a power, yet more wicked and depraved than all the powers, which had ever been before it upon the earth: a power which should utterly efface from the minds of men, all the truths revealed to mankind by the two Testaments, and establish atheism in their stead:
† Rev. xiii. 1.
* Chap vii. 1, 2.
atheism, the consummation of error, impiety, and' sin!
This literal sense of the text will appear naturalupon duly considering the meaning of the words "the bottomless pit, the place whence the beast "was to ascend." In the literal sense, they convey the idea of an abyss, or a hole of unfathomable depth in the earth; and a place of such darkness, that neither the light of the stars, nor of the moon, nor even of the sun, the great luminary of the world, ever enters. In the allegorical and scriptural sense, they mean a bottomless abyss. of error, ungodliness, and sin; into which neither the light of reason, nor of conscience, nor of the revealed word of God, ever penetrates. It is the region of the "angel of darkness, whose "name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, and in "the Greek Appollyon, THE DESTROYER." It is the proper kingdom of the great "red dragon," that old serpent called the devil and Satan, who deceiveth the whole world," the greatest enemy of God and man†.' In fine, it is the source of all those errors and crimes, which alienate mankind from God their Creator, lead them into all manner of evil, and finally into the depths of EVERLASTING PERDITION. "A beast ascending" out of a place of this horrid description, it must be confessed, is a proper and complete metaphor to illustrate the coming of an atheistical power, that shall conspire against, and "kill the two witnesses of God;" or, as I have said before, extinguish in
* Chap. ix. 11.
+ Chap. xii, 9. xx. 2.
the minds of men all sense and influence of the sacred truths revealed in the Old and New-Testaments: truths, upon the belief and practice of which the order, peace, and happiness of man, evidently depend, both here and hereafter !
It is (as I humbly apprehend, and I mean in its proper place to prove) the same political monster foretold by St. Paul under the descriptive and emphatic tropes of that man of sin, THE "SON OF PERDITION, that wicked, whom the "Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth,' "the mystery of iniquity; a power that shall ex"alt itself above all that is called God, or that is "worshipped." It is to be a power" that will "not receive the love of the truth, that it might "be saved;" but shall come "with all deceivableness of unrighteousness*:" and a power so incorrigible, that God, for this reason, shall "give it over" to such a strong delusion, that it may "believe a lie" (viz. that there is no God,) a lie the most impious, and at the same time palpable and self-evident, that has ever yet been, or can be invented by MEN AND DEVILS UNITED!
Such is the power which the prophet has declared shall come; but where shall we find, in the political world, its true prototype, an unheard of monster, that shall answer, in all its principles and actions, to this description? And find it we must, before we can presume to assert, that the prediction is fulfilled. That there may have been individuals, who, by living in a continued.
* 2 Thess. iii. 3 to 12..
course of sin, have so hardened their hearts, as to deny the existence of God, will not be disputed. But if we search the annals of the world, we shall not find even a private society or sect, much less a civil community and state, which, before our day, has, in the most public manner proclaimed to all the nations around it, that THERE IS NO GOD! and made that position the basis of the constitution of its government: but in our day we not only read of it, but see it with our eyes; and that in a manner so perfectly consonant to all its various prophetic marks, that the unprejudiced infidel himself (if there be such a being) cannot mistake it. It is obviously, that political and atheistical monster, the revolutionary power now ruling the French nation with the most absolute despotism, giving the law to Europe, threatning to dethrone all kings, to overthrow all governments, and social order, to destroy all the principles of morality and religion and opening the flood-gates of their impious and licentious liberty, and their blasphemous and mystical equality, resolving to overwhelm the world, with ATHEISM, ANARCHY, AND RUIN.
To trace the "ascent" of this power from its source, and to unfold all its infernal principles and actions in this place, would be both unnecessary and improper; as many of them are more particularly foretold in the subsequent verses: not to say that it would be inconsistent with the design of these briefexplanations, and require many volumes. There are indeed many dreadful records of these transactions already before the public, and writ