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THE MEDIEVAL PERIOD The fact of history pertaining to the true church which Paul described as a “falling away” is represented by the Revelator by the symbol of the woman fleeing into the wilderness. The other fact mentioned by Paul pertaining to the rise and development of the man of sin is represented in the visions of the Revelation as follows:
“And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads The ten-horned and ten horns, and upon his horns leopard-beast ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshiped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshiped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? and there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. If any man have an ear, let him hear. He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints” (Rev. 13: 1-10).
From the nature of the symbol employed, we should naturally infer that a persecuting, tyrannical kingdom or empire is meant. That such an application of the term “beast,” when used in connection with prophetic symbols, is correct, is shown by a reference to the interpretation given concerning the fourth beast of Daniel's vision. “The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon the earth” (Dan. 7:23). We have already shown conclusively that by the dragon was meant the pagan Roman Empire, and the same heads and horns are apparently ascribed to this leopardbeast, the only difference being that the crownsa symbol of sovereignty-have been transferred from the heads to the horns. This substantial agreement with the facts of history makes certain the identification of this beast with the revised
western Roman Empire under the papal form, the sovereignty being vested in the ten minor kingdoms until they chose to "give their power and strength unto the beast” (Rev. 17:13).
The symbol of a beast considered merely as a beast, could not, in the nature of the case, signify anything more than a temporal kingdom or political empire. It will be noticed, however, that this particular prophetic symbol is more than a beast; for, combined with his beastly nature, there are certain characteristics which unmistakably belong to the department of human life-a mouth speaking great things; power to magnify himself against the God of heaven, to set himself up as an object of worship, to single out the saints of God and kill them, etc. This combination of symbols from the two departments-animal life and human life-points us with absolute certainty to the political-religious system of Rome.
Every historian knows that pagan Rome was succeeded by papal Rome. The transfer is expressed thus: “And the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority” (verse 2). The rising papacy succeeded to the power and authority formerly exercised by pagan Rome; and when the political capital was removed to Constantinople, the pope was left in possession of the ancient seat of empire and government. "The beast” therefore refers to Rome either as a political power or as an ecclesiastical power, the context determining whether the political or the ecclesiastical phase is meant in a given instance. It will be observed, however, that the leading actions ascribed to this beast are derived from its human characteristics, pointing unerringly to the papacy for its fulfilment.
This beast the world admired. “And they worshiped the dragon which gave power unto the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?” The expression “worshiped the dragon” shows that reference is made to the dragon, not as a political power, but as a religious power. This worship of the dragon by those who worshiped the beast which succeeded the dragon was fulfilled by the perpetuation under the papacy of the rites and ceremonies of paganism. Roman Catholicism is a strange amalgamation of Judaism, Christianity, and heathenism. The part derived from paganism occupies such a prominent place in Roman Catholic practise and worship that we can not fail to observe its close resemblance to, if not absolute identity with, heathenism. Just to mention a few points:
1. The high priest of the pagan religion was called Pontifex Maximus, and he claimed spiritual and temporal authority over men. The pope of Rome borrowed the title and made the same claims, even being clad in the same attire.
2. The heathen wore scapulars, medals, and
images for personal protection. Romanists wear the same things for the same purpose.
3. Pagans, by an official process called deification, raised men, after their death, to a dignified position and accorded them special honors and worship. Papists, by a similar process called canonization, exalt men after their death to the dignity of saints and then offer up prayers to them.
4. Papists' adoration of idols and images was also borrowed direct from the heathen; for all such practises were absolutely forbidden by the Mosaic law and had no place in primitive Christianity.
5. Their religious orders of monks and nuns were also in imitation of the vestal virgins of antiquity.
The beast is described as a blasphemous power. Adam Clarke has stated that “blasphemy, in Scripture, signifies impious speaking, when applied to God; and injurious speaking, when directed against our neighbor.” A name of blasphemy would therefore properly signify the prostitution of a sacred name to an unholy purpose. An example of this kind is given in Rev. 2:9, where we read, "I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagog of Satan.” In this case certain wicked men blasphemed the name by calling themselves Jews, since according to Scripture ‘he only is a