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REV. xiii, 18.
Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the num.
ber of the beast; for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred threescore and six.
Tuis test has caused as much speculation as any text in the whole Bible; rivers of ink have been shed to explain its meaning, brains have been addled in trying to find some great mystery which the wisdom of this world, as was supposed, could only discover; and in trying to be wise above what was written, men have lost their balance, and fell into absurdities too ridiculous to mention. Some have searched through all the vocabulary of Greek names, to find one whose numerical letters would make the number 666, and they have been wonderfully blest, for they found a number; but here again there remained a difficulty to surmount, which required as much ingenuity as the foriner; but to remedy the evil, every Greek scholar chose the one his fancy dictated, wrote his book on the number 666, and then died, and his wonderful name died with him; for every wise Greek had his own favorite name. Also, the Latin book-worms, not wishing to be outdone by their Greek brethren, rummaged all the old goatskin parchments and musty books in the cloisters of all the monks in Christendom; and behold, a much greater harvest was the fruit of their labor; for now every Latinus had thrce or more names to his share; and in all this wisdom, all other nations were left without any wisdom, except
what they borrowed from their neighbors, the learned Greeks and Latins. But I hope, my dear hearers, that you have learned that if there is any mystery of God not explained by the Bible, it is not for us to understand. Therefore, in treating upon this subject, I shall endeavor to present the Scripture on the point, and then leave you to judge whether we have light or not.
1. Show what wisdom this is spoken of in the text.
II. Speak of the beast numbered, and show what beast.
III. The number, and what we may understand by it. I. The wisdom spoken of in the text.
1st. Is it the wisdom of men, or of this world ? I answer, No. For Paul says, 1 Cor. ii. 4, 13, “ And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the spirit and of power; that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God. Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect; yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world unto our glory.” Now, if Paul would not preach the wisdom of men or the world, surely the angel would not instruct John to use the wisdom of man or of this world, “ for the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God," 1 Cor. ii. 19. And if Paul said our faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, neither would John have given any thing that depended on the wisdom of men for a foundation of our faith. But Paul has taught us what true wisdom is, by saying, “ Christ, the power of God, and the wisdom of God;" “ But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit, for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” And Paul tells us how we may exercise this wisdom, 1 Cor. ii. 13, “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual." Here, then, my dear hearer, is the great secret of wisdom, to compare spiritual things with spiritual; and then we have the mind and will of the Spirit, and shall not be
very liable to err. Let us, then, follow this rule while we try to explain.
II. The beast numbered in the text. And,
ist. Les us inquire what beast it is. I answer, It is the first beast. See our context, 12th verse, “ And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him;" that is, the beast which John saw come up out of the sea, (the Roman government,) having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and npon his head 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.” By this beast, I understand the same as Daniel's fourth kingdom, the Roman government; by " names of blasphemy,” I understand a mode of worship which would be idolatrous or blasphemous; by the dragon, we must understand the civil power of the same government giving its power to the ecclesiastical beast, whether Pagan or Papal. 3d verse, “ And I saw one of his heads, (of blasphemy, Pagan) as it were, wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed, (by the substitution of the Papal blasphemous head ;) and all the world wondered after the beast."
John then goes on to describe the civil power of this Roman government under this last head, and shows the length of time they would exercise this last power-"forty-two months”
which is the same as Daniel's time, times, and a half, or John's 1260 days, mentioned Rev. xi. 3, xii. 6. His power to make war and overcome the saints is foretold. In the tenth verse he shows us how this civil power should be destroyed, by captivity and the sword; and this was fulfilled in 1798, when the pope was carried a captive into France, and the states of Italy were conquered by the sword of the French army. In the 11th verse he gives us a discovery of the same beast in his ecclesiastical power; Pagan Rome in the first beast, and Papacy in the image beast ; and it will be evident to any one who will examine the chapter carefully, that Jolin was not commanded to number the image bcast - for the civil power of that beast was before
numbered in the 5th verse, -- but the beast which existed before him, which the Papal ecclesiastical beast is an image of, or Daniel's daily sacrifice abomination, (Dan. xii. 11,) the one which Paul said, “ he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.”
In this passage it is evident the apostle alludes to the same power, although he calls it the “ working of Satan." John also gives a similar description in Rev. xii. 9, “ And the dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." But I have another evidence that the beast numbered was Pagan Rome, and I think it must be conclusive testimony, in Rev. xvii. 3. In this chapter one of the seven angels that had the seven vials came to instruct John, and to show him “the judgment of the great whore with whom the kings of the earth had committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication." “So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness, and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet-colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.”
Here the same idolatrous beast, having seven heads and ten horns, is described; the woman sitting upon this beast is the same as Daniel's little horn which came up among the ten horns, and shows plainly that it was that part of Roman power which was prior to the woman, and was of course called the first beast. When John saw this woman on the scarlet-colored beast, he wondered with great admiration, and says, Rev. xvii.7, “ And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns. The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition, and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.” “ 'That was,” Pagan Rome before John saw his vision, “and is not,” yet in
its last stage of Papal Rome, “and yet is,” in the same spirit, for Papal Rome is but an image of Paganism, as says the Apostle, 2 Thess. ii. 6, 7, “ And now ye know what withholdeth, that he may be revealed in his time, for the mystery of iniquity doth already work." And, 1 John ii. 18, “ Little children, it is the last time, and as ye have heard that anti-Christ shall come, even now are there many anti-Christs, whereby we know it is the last time.” And again, Rev. xvii. 9, “ And here is the mind which hath wisdom;" evidently referring. John right back to our text, “ Here is wisdom; let him that hath understanding,” the same as mind in the above quotation. “ The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sitteth, and there are seven kings; five are fallen, one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space, and the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.” These texts explain the whole matter; for it is evident that the beast here alluded to was the seven-headed monster who was then in existence when John wrote, for five of its executive forms of government (of which kings and mountains are figures) had fallen. Republican Rome had five different offices under that particular form of government - her senatorial, tribunate, consular, decemvir, and triumvirate. These were fallen. One is, (that was when John wrote his prophecy,) Imperial, and the other had not yet come, Kingly, which is the same as the ten horns. For when the Western Empire fell, Rome was divided into ten kingdoms, “ And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast." These have one mind, (that is, were all converted to the Catholic faith,) and shall give their power and strength unto the beast, Papal Rome. “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them; for he is Lord of lords and King of kings; and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” And although this beast, whatever form it may assume, whether Pagan or Papal, may for a season tyrannize over and trample on the followers of Christ, through the agency