« AnteriorContinuar »
can witness the open rejection of God's precious Word and the vilest profanation of his holy name without uttering a word of protest; but let any one say a word against their church, and instantly they are aroused to the highest pitch of indignation. Beast-worshipers!
The Protestant era has witnessed many wonderful reformations in which the true fire of God fell upon waiting souls, but this initial work of the Spirit has in each instance been employed as an excuse for taking the next step-making an image; and thousands of honest souls, lacking better light, have been induced to submit to such human organization. Those of this number who were truly saved, however, always loved and adored their Lord more than the human church to which they were attached, and consequently they should not be regarded as beast-worshipers. They are the ones whom the Lord denominates his people when the voice calls them out of Babylon (chap. 18:4).
The second beast also exhibits the characteristics of a persecuting power, and in this respect it is similar to the ten-horned beast. The early history of Protestantism shows that at that time the principle of religious intolerance brought over from Romanism manifested itself in the actual putting to death of numerous dissenters. Thus, we find Calvin, at Geneva, consenting to the burning of Servetus because of a difference in relig
ious views. At a convention in Torgau, in 1574, the Lutherans established the real presence of Christ in the eucharist and then instigated the Elector of Saxony to seize, imprison, and banish those who differed from them in sentiment, as a result of which Peucer suffered ten years of the severest imprisonment and Crellius was put to death. The Protestant Council of Zurich condemned Felix Mantz to be drowned because he insisted that infant sprinkling was not baptism. In England the “Bloody Six Articles” of Henry VIII are a silent testimony to the intolerant spirit of that age, when the royal reformer dragged dissenters forth to execution. Witness also the twelve years' imprisonment of John Bunyan and hundreds of others confined in jails throughout the country; the persecution of the Quakers; the relentless opposition to the Covenanters of Scotland, who were hunted and destroyed like beasts because they insisted on their right to worship God in their own way. It was this intolerant spirit that drove the Puritans to the inhospitable shores of America, where they might have the free privilege of worshiping God according to the dictates of their own conscience.
It is possible that the persecuting principle ascribed to the two-horned beast may include both the literal and the ecclesiastical cutting off, reference being made directly to the spirit of intolerance which manifested itself first in literal
slaughter and later in an unwarranted ecclesiastical exclusiveness.
The “number of the beast” alludes to his pretentious claims and is probably a symbol of division. The definite number 666 is said to be also the number of a man, and since the pope is the most important man connected with the papal system, it is natural to identify him with the individual referred to. Paul doubtless pointed out the pope particularly as the “man of sin,” “the son of perdition” (2 Thess. 2:3). In former ages, before the modern system of notation was introduced, the only method of denoting numbers was by employing the letters of the alphabet, certain letters having the power of number as well as of sound. We still employ the same system for certain purposes. The number of a name was simply the number denoted by the several letters of that name.
The pope has a special title. He wears in jeweled letters upon his mitre the inscription, Vicarius Filii Dei— Vicar of the Son of God. Taking from his name all the letters that the Latins used for numerals, we have just 666.
The era of modern sects is also covered in other places in Revelation, for the ecclesiastical history of the Christian dispensation is described under different parallel series of symbolism. In the other series, however, the symbols representing Protestantism stand so closely connected with
predictions of the last reformation that I shall not attempt to enumerate them in this chapter, but shall consider them briefly in connection with those symbols describing the great final religious movement toward which all the prophetic lines of truth converge and which forms the special subject of the present work.
THE LAST REFORMATION The scene changes, and again we have the picture of God's chosen people set in bright relief against the dark background of Protestantism and the still darker shades of papal apostasy. .
“And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on Mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four The 144,000 thousand, having his Father's on Mount Zion name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: and they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the first-fruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God” (Rev. 14: 1-5).
What a contrast with the beast powers described in the preceding chapter of the Revelation! This redeemed company is on Mount Zion, not hidden