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We are thus brought to a conclusion of the history of the beast and of the false prophet, with their forces; but some further details of the result of this great contest are to be found in the three first verses of the next chapter; on which account, the division of the chapters in this place appears to have been injudicious. The allied forces just defeated, were called together by the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. The final destruction of the two last we have learned: they are cast alive into a lake of unquenchable fire. As alive, the evil disposition and tendency of these two elements may remain for ever in action; but being cast alive unto a lake or furnace of sulphureous flames, (§ 440,) the fiery trial to which they are exposed must be equally eternal. These errors may be said to remain in existence, but they are so under the continual and perpetual counteracting influence of the trying element destined for ever to manifest their fallacy. The subordinate auxiliary principles of error can hardly be said to remain; their pretensions are entirely consumed; and if there be any evidence of their former existence, it is only such as is afforded by the whitened bones of slaughtered armies which have been bleaching for ages on the field, once the scene of bloody contention. We naturally ask, however, what becomes of the third party to this unholy conspiracy, and for a reply to our inquiries, are obliged to wait the developments of another chapter.
§ 442. The first part of this chapter should have been set off separately, as describing a choral scene having both a retrospective and a prospective allusion. Retrospective, as regards the destruction of the harlot city or system; and prospective, as relates to the result of the important conflicts detailed in the subsequent narrative: results presumed to have been contemplated by the chorus, especially in the ascriptions of praise to Jehovah, on account of his sovereignty; for this sovereignty could hardly be said to be manifested while two rebellious armies remained unconquered. Time, however, is not to be taken into consideration; and accordingly, the events
occurs, Can these dry bones live? Can one so utterly destitute of merit or righteousness have any hope of eternal life?
When we contemplate the same being adopted of God, and clothed with the imputed merits of the Son of God, or, which is the same thing, with the imputed righteousness of God himself, we discern the possibility of giving life (eternal life) to that which was entirely dead by nature. The sinner being raised to a new position of life by an operation of sovereign grace, bone comes to its bone, the strength of divine merit is substituted for the weakness of the man; and the covering of divine imputed perfection substituted for man's unworthiness, in like manner clothes these dry bones with flesh.
hereafter detailed are to be viewed as occurring simultaneously with the destruction of Babylon.
The order of development may require an exhibition of the fallacy of the system of error before its opposite truth can be unfolded. For this reason, perhaps, no hint is given in the Apocalypse of the existence of the bride or Lamb's wife, until the final destruction of the harlot has been announced; as if this event were a necessary prelude to the manifestation of the union of the Lamb with his betrothed. It may, indeed, be considered an essential part of the preparation for the appearance of the bride, as at a marriage feast.
Having been brought to this point, (the preparation for the bridal feast,) the thread of the narrative is broken off as far as it pertains to this figure, and we are taken back to that portion of the narration in which an account is given of the counter-preparations made by the beast and kings of the earth to oppose the will of the Most High, in this same manifestation of truth. Here we have the opportunity of knowing more of the character of these hostile powers, and of the nature of their opposition, by the description given of the champion destined to overcome them.
There can be no doubt of the identity of the Lamb of God with the Word of God, but there appears to be a peculiar meaning in the manner in which the same divine power is spoken of under different appellations, according as it is brought to act against different objects. The Lamb is represented to be the antagonist of the ten horns, (legal elements ;) while the Word is the opponent of the beast, (the spirit of error,) with his auxiliaries. The chief weapon of the Word, (the interpreter of his will,) is the sharp sword out of his mouth-the sword of the Spirit; the chief agent of the beast is the false prophet, (the two-horned beast like a lamb ;)—the difference between these two instruments corresponding with that between a spiritual or true construction of divine revelation, and a carnal or false interpretation of it. The Word of God exhibits his vesture dipped in blood, and appeals to the work of atonement to which his garments bear testimony; the beast may be supposed to appeal to the image of himself, (self-righteousness,) fabricated at the instance of the false prophet. The Word displays his multitude of diadems, and urges the claims of divine sovereignty; the beast relies upon the power of his ten horns, and points to the diadems with which they are crowned, as the argument for their supremacy. The Word is sustained by the white horse, (his own perfect righteousness ;) the beast has no support but his vain pretensions, his leopard skin, his bear's feet, and his lion's mouth. The Word, in its manifestation, is attended by an exhibition of the elements of divine perfection; the beast summons to his aid all that earth can furnish of pretended human merit. The Word bears upon his vesture, and upon his thigh, the all-powerful name of King of
kings, Jehovah of hosts; the beast opens his mouth in blasphemy against God, and against his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell therein. The result of the collision is known; the beast and the false prophet are taken and cast alive into the lake of unquenchable fire.
It is plain that this contest between the Word of God and the beast must be something different from that necessarily taking place between the elements of the law (divine justice) on the one side, and the element of propitiation (the Lamb, or divine mercy) on the other The last pertains to the work of Christ itself; the other to the manifestation of that work—the placing of that work in its true light, and destroying the errors opposed to a right understanding of it.
We are still at a loss for a better appellation of the beast than that already given him, (self;) but we feel no hesitation in affirming, that man, when relying upon his own merit, and when asserting his own sufficiency to secure his eternal salvation, places himself in the position of this blasphemous animal. He is virtually guilty of all that is described in the conduct of the beast. So, that construction of the written word of divine revelation which induces the assumption of this attitude on the part of the creature, (man,) must richly deserve the appellation of a false prophet—a false interpreter of the will of the Most High. The fallacious character of such an interpretation must be the more obvious in proportion as it induces the formation in the mind of man of an imaginary goodness or merit, to which he may impute, as to an efficient cause, even his eternal happiness, and which, consequently, becomes in his mind an object of worship; the subject of this error, who would start perhaps with abhorrence at the idea of a worship of himself, being actually deluded into a practical worship of his own fancied merit or righteousness.
We can imagine no cure for this delusion, no remedy for the error, that of a perfect development of the revealed word of God in its true spiritual sense, and the constant, perpetual, never-ending application of it; such a test alone being capable of purifying every element of doctrine submitted to its action, like a refiner's fire, and like the fire which is to burn as an oven, (furnace.) To a test of this character, we have seen the element represented by the beast finally subjected; and in this result we may said to behold the fulfilment of the prediction of the fate attending the eighth king, (Rev. xvii. 11 :) " And the beast that was and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition." The beast taken in this conflict with the Word, must be the same beast as that spoken of in the seventeenth chapter of the book; and the being cast alive into the lake burning with fire and brimstone, must certainly be equivalent to going into perdition.
The whole of this illustration is probably applicable to some general
development of truth, and consequent general destruction of false doctrine, taking place in the Christian world at a certain period yet to come; but whether this be so or not, every Christian disciple-and the revelation is addressed particularly to such-in examining his own views, and calling to mind his own doctrinal experience, as he has advanced in the knowledge of the gospel, must perceive himself to have within his own mind a kingdom like that of the beast; a certain principle or disposition within his heart ever ready to claim the merit of his own salvation—to urge his dependence upon his own strength or works; and in doing so to appeal to the continued requisitions of the law.
Every such disciple must perceive, too, that while there is in man a natural disposition to vainglory and self-dependence, a certain misconstruction of the language of the sacred Scripture may strengthen him in this delusion; in which respect he may be said also to be influenced by the false prophet within him. How far this influence has extended every one may judge by comparing the state of his own mind in matters of faith with the effect said to be produced by the intervention of the ten-horned beast. Does he regard himself as, in effect, the source to which he is to be indebted for his own eternal happiness? Does he create in his own mind an image of his own goodness, or holiness, or righteousness? Does he look to this as to the efficient cause of his future well-being? Are the actions of his life, or the sentiments of his heart characterized by the mark of selfishness? What is the chief motive of his conduct? Is it his own glory that he has in view, or the glory of his God? Is he actuated by a regard for his own interest in his religious conduct, or is gratitude (love) to God in return for his great salvation the moving principle of his actions? According to the result of this examination he may ascertain whether the kingdom of the beast, or the kingdom of God, be within him-whether his views are influenced by the false prophet, or by the sharp sword proceeding from the mouth of divine wisdom.
CONFINED. THE FIRST
MENT. THE BOOK OF
Vs. 1-3. And I saw an angel come
down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great clain in his haud. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him,
that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed
a little season.
Καὶ εἶδον ἄγγελον καταβαίνοντα ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, ἔχοντα τὴν κλεῖν τῆς ἀβύσσου καὶ ἅλυσιν μεγάλην ἐπὶ τὴν χεῖρα αὑτοῦ. Καὶ ἐκράτησε τὸν δράκοντα, τὸν ὄφιν τὸν ἐρχαῖον, ὅς ἐστι διάβολος καὶ σατανᾶς, καὶ ἔδησεν αὐτὸν χίλια ἔτη, καὶ ἔβαλεν αὐτὸν εἰς τὴν ἄβυσσον, καὶ ἔκλεισε καὶ ἐσφράγι σεν ἐπάνω αὐτοῦ, ἵνα μὴ πλανήσῃ ἔτι τὰ ἔθνη, ἄχρι τελεσθῇ τὰ χίλια ἔτη· καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα δεῖ αὐτὸν λυθῆναι μικρὸν χρόνον.
§ 443. AND I saw,' &c.-Setting aside the division of chapters, we are here to imagine the apostle witnessing the termination of the great battle, in which the KING OF KINGS is so signally victorious; the enemies of the WORD, (the beast and false prophet, with all their forces,) having been entirely overthrown. There is no pause in the narrative. The succession of events is as rapid as thought, or rather, the incidents themselves are contemporaneous; one event being involved in or growing out of another. The destruction of the mercenary or mixed system, the overthrow of the kingdom of self, the exhibition of the fallacies of scriptural misconstruction, all contribute to manifest the fate attending the accuser, as it is now about to be described.
The scene is unchanged-heaven is still opened the smoking ruins of Babylon, and the devastation of the battle-field are still in view; while a further development of truth (another angel) exhibits another result of the
Having the key of the bottomless pit.'-As the keys of the kingdom of heaven are the means of unlocking or developing the mysteries of that kingdom, ($37,) so the key of the bottomless pit, as before suggested, ($207,) are the means of developing or opening the mystery of the abyss. On a former occasion, Rev. ix. 1, this key was used for the purpose of exhibiting the destructive principles emanating from the system represented