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something like it) is the blasphemous beast, setting up a kingdom in the human heart, or establishing a system of faith in opposition to JEHOVAH, and sustained in this rebellious action by what we may term a literal or carnal construction of the written word of revelation. For if we suppose every man's self to be his own saviour, we do in effect elevate man to the position supposed to be assumed by the beast, or to be given to him by the false prophet.
We have not, however, yet found the name of man here supposed. Our remarks, therefore, must be taken as they are intended, merely as suggestions, and our judgment of the designation to be given to the ten-horned beast must be still suspended ; except, indeed, that he may be safely identified, we think, with the man of sin of Paul, and the Antichrist or spirit of error of John.
The apostle John in his first epistle (1 John ii. 18–22) speaks of many Antichrists, and gives us (ch. iv. 1-6) marks or tokens by which they may be discerned. From all these it appears that by the term Antichrist he means the spirit of an anti-evangelical doctrine ; and he alludes especially to the spirit of error, as something intimately connected with that of Antichrist which should come, and perhaps as identic with it. The spirit of error, zò aveữua rñs ahorns, or spirit of delusion or deception, must nearly resemble in its action the false prophet or two-horned beast of Revelation; the term which as a substantive is rendered by error in the epistle, being the same as that which as a verb is applied to the deception of the false prophet in the Apocalypse. This suggests to us the probability that the same mystery of iniquity which is spoken of in the epistles of both apostles as the action of one spirit of delusion, may be represented in the Apocalypse by the action of three several figures: the first beast, the false prophet, and the harlot. So the first beast with seven heads, taking seven for a sign of totality, ($ 9,) may represent all Antichrists, or false Christs; the blasphemous element of self-exaltation, self-justification, or self-redemption exhibiting itself in a variety of forms.
The action of the second beast or false prophet in his misinterpretation of Scripture, it will be perceived, corresponds very nearly with that ascribed to the tail of the dragon, (273,) in dragging the stars of heaven down to earth, and so far coinciding with the scriptural definition of a false interpreter: The prophet that speaketh lies, he is the tail. In other words, the two-horned beast from the earth and the tail of the dragon are identic ; the last probably, like the tails of the Euphratean horse and those of the scorpion-locusts, carrying with it the sting of the serpent ; the false interpretation tending to bring the disciple back to his position under the law, and exposing him to the sting of death.
We have thus gone through with the description of the first and second beast in the full exercise of their powers; and here the narrative leaves them for the present. We are to suppose this exercise of power to continue for the period designated in the fifth verse of the chapter, forty-two months, whatever is to be understood by that period as an apocalyptic term of time. Our attention will hereafter be called to the termination of their power, and the character of their end.
$317. In the preceding remarks we have supposed the first beast spoken of in this chapter to represent the element or principle of SELF; but this, as we wish it to be understood, is only by way of approximation, to give a facility to the illustration of our views; as, in a mathematical demonstration by algebraic process, a letter, æ for example, is assumed as the sum or answer sought for. The appellation does not exactly meet our wishes, and, as already intimated, we are not yet sufficiently advanced in the history of these two extraordinary animals to give a decided opinion respecting them; and perhaps the time has not yet arrived when a perfect development of their characters is to be expected. The discovery of the name of the ten-horned beast would, perhaps, involve an entire exposition of the spirit of error, of which we suppose this beast to be the moving principle-such an exposition of error, involving an equally entire exposition of truth ; which last is to be expected, we apprehend, only at the epoch spoken of as the day of the Lord : of course, till that time the name of the beast must remain amongst the hidden things, then only to be brought to light, (1 Cor. iv. 5.)
At present, in respect to the first beast, we content ourselves with reverting to some of the particulars before commented upon, by way of fixing in our minds the stage of development at which we have arrived, prior to the change of scene taking place at the commencement of the next chapter.
of the second beast, there are some peculiarities mentioned in this chapter which are not again adverted to, and which it appears necessary to enlarge upon more fully here, that our meaning may be better understood.
The first beast emanates from the element of wrath or of legal apprehension, (the sea.) We do not mean to say that self originates from that element; but we think that this principle obtains its exaltation, or is made to appear the author of its own salvation, by that apprehension of the wrath of divine justice which originates from the supposition that the sinner is to work out his own salvation, as under the law, by his own merits,—to justify and redeem himself by works of righteousness, which he has done; the terrors of the law misapplied leading the disciple into the delusive effort of going about to justify or to redeem himself, and thereby virtually causing a blasphemous exaltation of self. Accordingly, the seven heads of the beast represent seven pretensions, or, as a figure of totality, all the pretensions of self ; being opposites, perhaps, of the seven spirits before the throne, and the seven horns and seven eyes of the Lamb. So the beast employs the ten horns, or powers of the law, the decalogue being put for the whole law, the power wielded in asserting the prerogative of self. Not that there is any thing in the law, in its own nature, to countenance this exaltation of self: on the contrary, the law lawfully used convinces of sin ; but it is the illegal use of the law,—the pretension that it is to be fulfilled by man, which causes it to appear to be a weapon or power of self. So these horns of the beast are crowned with diadems, and not the heads, because the attribute of sovereignty claimed by self, is supposed to be derived from the operation of the law; the real power being in the law represented by the horns, and not in the pretensions represented by the heads. It is accordingly these last which bear the name of blasphemy, as they in effect assume for self an equality with God.
The first beast had a leopard skin, appearing in a spotted raiment, an opposite of the white linen or righteousness of the saints, without spot ;self being arrayed in a garment of salvation not entirely of its own merits, but of a mixed character, (hypocritically ;) as the deluded disciple, professing to depend upon Christ alone, claims, notwithstanding, to be arrayed partly in his own merit, and partly in that of his Saviour. For we suppose the blasphemous principle represented by the beast to be something exhibiting itself in the Christian church, nominally such—something resting its claims upon a perversion of gospel revelation ; not a thing entirely irrespective of it. Not that self is in its own nature an amalgam ; for if it appeared in its true character the colour of its array would be entirely the opposite of white; but apocalyptically, when revealed, its pretensions have this spotted or mixed appearance; this mixture at the same time being of a blasphemous character, because any pretension even of the partial efficiency of man's righteousness in the process of salvation, is virtually a division of the glory of that salvation with Him, who has declared that He will not divide this glory with another.
Armed as this monster self is with the powers of the law, he utters the denunciations of justice with the voice or mouth of the lion, possessing at the same time the power, and occupying the position, and discharging the functions, of the legal accuser.
Taking all these features into consideration, we suppose the beast to represent an opposite of Christ, the Lamb without spot; something substituting itself in the place of him who was God manifest in the flesh; as a disciple claiming to be saved by virtue of his own righteousness, and his own holiness, although professedly a Christian, in effect places himself in his own heart or mind in the position of his divine Redeemer.
$ 318. The construction above adopted appears to be confirmed by the consideration that the beast not only appeared with seven heads, or seven blasphemous pretensions, but also that one of these heads, especially, appeared as having been slain in sacrifice, and again restored to life ; which characteristic of the head is afterwards identified with the whole beast; showing that one of his blasphemous pretensions consisted in the assumption of an equality with Him who died for our sins, and was raised for our justification,—who declares himself in the vision to have been dead, and yet to be alive for evermore, (Rev. i. 18.) This beast professes to have performed the same propitiatory work ;—like Christ, or rather instead of Christ, having more than satisfied the demands of infinite justice; on which account it seems to have been wondered after by all the world, with the admiring interrogative, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him ?—implying a belief in the power of the beast, by virtue of this slaughtered and resuscitated head, to overcome the accuser ;* for we are not to suppose the world cognitive of the fact, that the beast derives his
power from the accuser: this is a mystery known only to those who see as John saw, in spirit, and in a heavenly position. The world supposes the beast to be its champion in the contest with the dragon; as he who confides in his own righteousness looks upon his own self as the object of trust in the great work of legal justification ; not considering that this self, from the very position which it occupies, must be an agent or instrument of the element
* We do not propose to point out decidedly the signification to be attached to this wounded head; but we suppose, for illustration, that, of seven heads or leading principles in the process of self-exaltation, the element of repentance or penitence, erro. neously contemplated, may be considered the more than sufficient atonement offered by the beast; the apparent triumphant sufficiency of this element being that which excites the wonder of the world, and which gives the error its currency in human estimation.
There may be a variety of ways in which this element is exhibited, from the selfinflicted flagellations of the hermit of the desert, to the more refined mental self-mortification of those who, in later times and in more enlightened regions, go mourning all their days. The error being the same in all, if this exercise of mind or body be put for propitiation, or be substituted as an object of faith or trust, in place of the atonement of Christ. The world we may say has been carried away with the same false estimate of the power of this element of man's righteousness, from the time when the wilds of Africa bore testimony to the well-meant but mistaken seclusion of early Christians, to the present day, when the sombre, subdued aspect of the devotee tells of the atoning sacrifice he is endeavouring to work out for himself by his own voluntary humiliation, mental or corporeal.—(Vid. Col. ii. 23.)
of accusation. With these assumptions and pretensions self is enabled to overcome the elements of gospel truth, (the saints or holy ones,) for a cer tain season ; and all on the earth, with a certain exception only, are said to worship him. So we may say, almost literally, that the error of self-righteousness or of self-dependence, in the matter of salvation, is the predominant error of mankind; man, almost universally, making himself in effect the object of his own adoration. The representation, however, in the present case, we suppose to be confined to the predominance of the error in contemplation especially in the visible Christian church, symbolized by the seven churches ; to which churches the whole revelation is inscribed, and for the edification of which the vision is committed to writing: “For what have I to do,” says Paul, “ with them that are without—them that are without God judgeth,” 1 Cor. v. 12, 13.
This predominance of self we suppose to be something of a universal character in the visible church—something arising from, or sanctioned by, a misconstruction or misinterpretation of divine revelation, and of course to be found where that revelation is found. As we may say, those who have never seen the Scriptures can know nothing of the misconstruction to which they are liable: as it is also where Christ is preached that Antichrists make their appearance. The man of sin seating himself in the temple of God; not taking up his abode where there is no such temple: the tares growing amongst the wheat, not in a field by themselves; so, wherever the visible church of Christ is to be found, there the spirit of error will also be found insinuating itself in a greater or less degree; and this we are not to confine to any particular sect, or denomination of Christianity.
$319. Although from a perusal of the first part of this chapter the tenhorned beast appears to exercise his power and authority, as of himself and by his own acts; yet, by comparing this account with that given in the latter part of the chapter of the second beast, it is evident that all that is done by the first is through the agency of the second. It is the two-horned beast which causeth the first beast to be worshipped; it is by the delusion or deception practised by the second beast, that all the world is led to wonder after the first beast, that the saints or holy ones are overcome, that an image of the first beast is created as an object of adoration, and that all are caused to be subservient to the first beast.
This second beast has two horns, and these two horns we suppose to be two powers by which he acts,—the instruments with which he performs his wonders, and by which all his functions are discharged. As we take the ten horns of the first beast to represent the decalogue—the whole law constituting his power—so we suppose the two horns of the second beast to be two doctrinal powers; and as these two horns are said to be like those of a lamb, or of the lamb, we suppose them to represent two leading doctrines,