« AnteriorContinuar »
This the apostle clearly ascertains in the passage which has been given.
Thus, four of the apostles have in their Epistles strikingly ascertained the rise of the terrible Power, and in. Auence of infidelity in the last days.
Antichrist predicted in Revelation XIIth Chapter. In this chapter the church of Christ is symbolized by a woman away in the aerial heavens, clothed with the sun; the moon under her feet; and on her head a crown of twelve stars. The desires and exertions of the Church for the propagation of the Gospel and the salvation of men, are represented by the woman's travailing in child-birth, and being pained to be delivered. The devil is symbolized by a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns on his heads; and his tail drawing a third part of the stars, and casting them to the ground. And his rage against the cause of Christ is represented by his standing before the woman, to devour her son as soon as it was born.* The eventual safety of the suc. cession of the Church, is represented by the child's being born; and being caught up to the throne of God. The devil now persecutes the church; upon which she flies into the wilderness for 1260 years. From what follows in the chapter, we learn, as it is thought, that the war of the devil against Christ was carried on, through the dark ages of Popery, in the symbolical heaven of the Papal church. The devil fought under the standard of Religion, in the corruptions and persecntions in that wicked system. But at the time of the reformation under Luther, the devil was cast out of this symbolical heaven, by the exposure of the abominations of Popery, to the symbolical earth; or where he commenced a system of Infidelity, and of direct oppo. sition to the Protestant cause. This new system of opposition the devil is represented as instigating with
*This may be in allusion to Pharaoh's destroying the male infants in Israel. Exod. i, 22; Isa. li, 9; and Ezek. xxix, 2, 3.
great rage. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and o the sea: for the devil is come down unto you having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. The inhabiters of the earth and of the sea, being contrasted with the heaven of the Church, or a zealous profession of Religion, must mean the great mass of Infidels, scoffers, and non-professors. For these bear a similar relation to the church of Christ, to that which the earth bears to the heavens. And they are likewise denominated inhabiters of the sea. The great mass of the people of this character are said to be like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. * The sea is repeatedly used to symbolize the mass of God's enemies, who are marked out for judgment.t And their peculiar state of revolution and effervescence, at the time of the devil's coming down to them, may well entitle them to the appellation of the inhabiters of the sea. In Luke xxi, 25, The sea and the waves roaring, are expressions of similar import, and relate to the same period. The infernal Power will now bring into the most furious operation his new and master-engine against the Church, because he learns that the Kingdom of Christ is at the doors. The Church is therefore represented as again fleeing into the wilderness. And floods of delusions, of wicked agents and impostors, of falsehoods and abuse, of national rage, armies, and bloody violence, will be excited, as though belched forth against the cause of Christ out of the mouth of the old serpent, like an overwhelming torrent: Insomuch, that nothing can save the cause of Christ from destruction, but signal interpositions of Providence, in counter. acring those violent measures, and confounding the enemy; like the earth's opening her mouth, and swallowing up floods of water. All this implies the rise of a terrible Antichristian Power, at that period; who by himself and his agents, shall be the instruments of these tremendous operations. For though the devil is represented as being the mover of these scenes of oppo
Isa. Ivii, 20.
+ Sce Rev, viii, 8, and xvi, 3; also xvii, 1, 15.
sition and violence, yet his being symbolized by a great red dragon, of seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads, indicates that his operations will be through a Power of this description. By the dragon, (says an expositor) “we understand the devil in the heathen emperors of Rome."* Satan's operations against the Christian church, when she was first travailing in birth for the propagation of the Gospel through his dominions in heathen lands, was by the instrumentality of bloody Pagan Rome. And his last, violent operations against the Church, previous to the Millennium, and while she is again peculiarly struggling to propagate the Gospel through heathen lands, t will be through the instrumentality of Infidel Rome, under her last head. And both these states of Rome, (or Rome Pagan, and Rome Infidel, under her last head,) are unitedly symbolized, Rev. xii, 1–11, by a beast of seven heads and ten horns. And Rome Infidel, under her last head, is symbolized, Rev. 17th chapter, by a scarlet Beast of seven heads, and ten horns. The devil therefore, the malignant manager of these beasts, and who gives to them his power, and seat, and great authority, though he be an invisible agent, is represented as having the body of a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns on his heads. The reason of which no doubt is, that his most violent, and mischievous operations were to be through a Power of this symbolical description; the revival, and last reign of which, were to fulfil the predictions concerning the Antichrist of the last times.
This Power of the last days, we learn in this chapter, is to receive great providential checks. The earth is to open her mouth, and swallow up his floods. . The same thing we find in various other figures. In Dan. ii, the feet and toes of the great image, (symbolizing the last part of the Roman Power, and that part which is destroyed by the coming of Christ, at the bat. tle of the great day,) are part of iron, and part of clay: Or, that furious kingdom of the last days "shall be
* Pool on Rev. xiii, 1.
See Rev. xiv, 6, 7, 8.
partly strong, and partly broken.” The prophet upon the same event informs, that “the Lord shall create upon mount Zion and upon all her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day; and the shining of a Alaming fire by night; for upon all the glory shall be a defence." Another prophet represents God as camping round about his house, (the church) because of the coming and going of the enemy. And the psalmist expresses the same idea, when he says, of God's coming down to save the meek of the earth, “Surely, the wrath of man shall praise thee, and the remainder of that wrath shalt thou restrain." All this implies an annoying Power, a terrible enemy to the Church, at that day: The same, that is implied in this twelfth chapter of the Revelation.
The Roman, Papal, and Antichristian Beasts. · In order to find the terrible Power under consideration among the prophetic Beasts, we will examine three portions of Scripture, in which those Beasts, which relate to Rome, are found. Although references are re. peatedly had to some of these Beasts, we find a full description of them given only in three passages; Dan. vii, and Rev. xiii, and xvii. In each of these passages, it is remarkable, that we find two distinct powers given; the Roman empire; and the Papal hierarchy. The two are not blended; but given and kept distinct, in each passage,
In Dan. vii, 7, we find the Roman empire symbolized by a great Beast strong and terrible, (rising out of the sea, verse 2,) with great iron teeth; and with ten horns. The explanation is given, verses 23 and 24. None doubt of its application to the Roman empire. In a little horn of this Beast is symbolized the Papal hierarchy. (verse 8.) And it is to be noted, that this Beast, as distinct from the little horn, is in existence, when the Ancient of days appears; or the battle of the great day commences. This Roman Beast is the great dominant power then destroyed. Verse 11, I beheld
then, because of the voice of the great words, which the horn spake; I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. Here is in existence the Roman Beast, as distinct from Popery, and predominant, when they are destroyed. Let this idea be remembered. It will aid our forming a correct view of Antichrist. In the 13th of Rev. we find this subject resumed; and the same two powers, the empire, and the hierarchy, distinctly given in a stili clearer view. In verse 1, the empire is presented under the same symbol, as in Daniel; a Beast rising out of the sea; but with some additional appendages; and more particularly described. The description of this Beast given in Daniel relates more peculiarly to the deeds and circumstances of the Beast in the former part of his existence: And the description given in Rev. xiii, may relate especially to those of the last part of his existence; or just before his destruction. The genera of the different parts of the Beast are now given. His body is like a leopard; or like the Macedonian empire. His feet are as the feet of a bear; or like the Medo-Persian empire. And his mouth is as the mouth of a lion; or like the Babylonian empire. The meaning is, all the terrors of the preceding empires concentre in this one. This beast has seven heads, and ten horns. On his horns are ten crowns; and on his heads the name of plasphemy. And he received from the dragon, (the devil) his power, and seat, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as is were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed. His sixth, or his imperial head was wounded to death A. D. 320, in the revolution from Rome Pa. gan, to Rome Christian, under the reign of Constantine. *
But this imperial, deadly wounded head is, *As a beast, in the symbolic language of prophecy, is a great power, hostile to the cause of Christ; so the wounding to death of such a beast may be effected by a revolution in such an einpire, from Paganism to Christianity; as well as by its being ut. terly destroyed Such a revolution took place in Rome, in 320; or, according to some, in 323; and others 317. Soon after the tenth most bloody persecution in Pagan Rome, under Dioclesian, Constantinę, upon the death of his father Constantius, be