« PreviousContinue »
acter of the beast, and then resume it again, to retain it until destroyed, these verses are incorrect.”
But he remembered that seventeen hundred years were passed since the death of St. John, and that Rome did not con. tinue a pagan, bloody city. There was an internission, a time during which she was not the beast, but the meekness of Christian love was visible there. This did not happen to continue ; but when the beast was resumed it did continue. He then felt some curiosity to see what other statements were prophetically made. Verse 9, “ And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the wo. man sitteth.” He was aware of the reason why in ancient days Rome was called the seven hilled city; and he needed no commentator to tell him that the seven eminences on which she was built are there yet. Verse 10, “And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come, and when he cometh he must continue a short space.'
” He had read English law enough to understand what was meant by the expression “ the king never dies.” By the word king they do not mean the man, but the kingly authori. ty. In a monarchy the king and his power are used for each other, or interchangeably. It was not hard for him then to understand how and why the word kings stood for forms of government or successions of rulers. It is not merely on the prophetic page that the word king is found to mean thus, but it is in the book of temporal statutes ; and in the mind of the illiterate peasant, where kings rule, this tenth verse gives an outline of the history of Rome, much abridged, but very bright. Those young persons who wish to become historians, but who complain of their memories, would do well to
recollect this verse ;
so long as they recollect its words, a very striking profile of history will not be for. gotten.. The unbeliever, who was interested with this chapter, and of whom we have been writing, remember. ed very distinctly, as soon
it noticed, that five kings or forms of government had fallen or passed away after the building of that city. Kings were gone, consuls were gone, dictators had passed away, so had decemvirs, and so had military tribunes. But the angel said “ one is.” The emperors reigned whilst John had the vision. But if six had then actually existed, was the angel telling of only two more kinds of govern. ments ? According to his interpretation, were we to look for no more than two in so long a time, when six had already been seen in that city? The answer is only two. And one of these was to be of the seven, and the other was to continue only a short time when it did come. Rome was under the jurisdiction of the Exarchate of Ravenna, but not long. The space was short. Ever since it has been under the rule of the pope.
Verse 11, * And the beast that was and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven and goeth into perdition.” Reader, the pope is a spiritual ruler in Rome, but you have often heard that he has a temporal authority also. He is of the seven, rely upon it. This beast was the Roman government in its last form. That form is papal, for there are no emperors there now. The going into perdition is to follow after a time. The unbeliever began to feel great astonishment that an abridgment of history, contained in so few words, and pointing at cen. turies that were to come when the page was written, reaching so far, and taking place so accurately, had excited no notice in the world. He read the next, verse
12, 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.”. 13, “ These have one mind, and shall give their power
and strength unto the beast.” Reader, you have often heard and spoken of the ten kingdoms of Europe. They did not exist when John wrote, and they were not to begin to exist until the pope should begin to rule, for they were to have their power at one and the same time with the beast, during one and the same hour. If you had lived several hundred years after the death of St. John, and had seen the pope or the eighth power begin to rule in Rome, you might have known then, not merely that ten kingdoms would be made of the fragments of that empire, but that ten should arise of such as would support the pope's authority. It is only the man who has read modern history who can see the full force of these words as he reads them, “ These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.' They did indeed! And in all the changes, revolutions, and overturnings of things in Europe, for more then a thousand years, there still were somewhere near ten powers (horns) who ruled at the same hour with the
pope, and gave him their strength. Reader, it has been common for writers, when about to describe the multitude at large, to take for their emblem a wave of the sea, which rises, and foams, and roars, and sinks away to rise no more. This mode of description they have taken from the holy book. On the page of prophecy it is the figure used uniformly, we believe. Verse 15, “ And he saith unto me, the waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” After the unbeliever had read the 16th
verse, he fell into a train of reflection which, dear reader, it might profit you to imitate. 16, “And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate, and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire." His thoughts were such as follow:
“ These ten horns were, it seems, according to verse 13th, to favour the whore, all of them. But from this other verse, it seems they are, after a time, to begin to hate and to impoverish her. England has long since withheld her revenues. France did not begin to withhold or to impoverish her in any way until she (France) became an infidel nation. But have all the ten, all of them to waste her! So át states. And indeed two more, Spain and Portugal, have already half-broken their bonds of allegiance. These, as France has done, and as Austria and others probably will do, as soon as they discovered that the priests had been teaching nothing but imposture for centuries, not only cast away their old faith, but the Bible along with it! Is not atheism (or sometbing resembling it) the natural outlet or termination of a false Christianity? The work of making desolate and naked has certainly been going on long. It is becoming more and more distinct. Recent events make it still more marked. But how is this? What is this I see, and what is this I hear? “and shall eat her flesh and burn her with fire?” This is to come yet. Will it really be brought to pass ? If eighteen hundred years of events have fitted the prophetic declaration so accurately, it is most likely that the last items also will not fail." Reader, we have said that perhaps you would do well
to meditate thus seriously. We will offer to you one rea. son for this advice. As sure as that burning (described in the 18th Chap. Rev.) ever comes to pass, so certainly some other things will take place which synchronize with it, and which concern you.
There are many things which cannot be very far before us, and which will come unexpectedly upon those who continue contented. ly ignorant of God's book; and they are of pressing import, in the case of those who now live. We know that there are countless thousands, whose ignorance is so extensive and entire, in sacred things, that even a plain verse of the inspired page appears dark to them ; these of course, will think other parts unintelligible to
We can only say to such, begin to practise the precepts; (for these all understand, and they all speak lies to their Creator, who say they do not,) read and read on. If it is dark at first, continue, and accept the aid of a commentary. It will not be long ere you will understand enough (such as the chapter we have read) to make you wish for more.
We must give other instances, showing that we may be reminded of an instructive and beautiful fact, with. out copying or obeying others. We may have pointed out to us, in all the sciences, and in all the branches of earthly knowledge, most precious truth, and be bene. fitted, without asking others to think for us, or imitating improperly their faith and views. But we will first devote a chapter to the history of a reading infidel.