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poured out until these years hare elapsed. It follows that the dominion in question must be found existing at a period at least later than the fourteenth century of the Christian era. The kings or kingdoms which were subject to it, are in the end to turn upon it, and further its dissolution. There can be no doubt that the Roman Papacy, as a temporal power, prefigured by the Beast itself, and also by its eighth and last head, assuming supreme temporal authority, and the Papacy as the head of the Romish Church, prefigured by the Whore, assuming supreme spiritual power over the Roman-European kingdoms, are represented together in one compound symbol. The symbolical portraiture is meaningless with every other application.
But the above interpretation avails for the Two Beasts in ch. xiii., because the symbols in both places are synonymous in sense; one of the symbols, the Beast, is identical, while the Whore is represented by the thoroughly correspondent symbol of the Twohorned Beast. The same interpretation is valid also for the main characteristics of the Dragon, because it likewise has Seven Heads and Ten Horns. The Dragon, on the same grounds, must also be concluded to be a Roman dominion. But it precedes the Papacy at its seat, which is Rome, for the Beast entered into the abandoned seat of the Dragon, ch. xii. 2, and it is contemporaneous with it, for it persecutes the woman for the same 1260 years as the Beast makes war on the saints, ch. xii. 14; ch. xiii. 5, while it outlives it, for it is destroyed subsequently to the
Beast and the False Prophet, ch. xx. 10. The Dragon, then, can plainly alone represent the Roman Empire, as this empire existed first of all in Italy, which it was forced to abandon and resign to the Papacy, as referred to, ch. xiii. 2, and as this empire existed thereafter in Germany in the form of the so-called Holy Roman Empire. This change of its locality is particularly described in a special vision, ch. xii. 7– 17, under the symbolic imagery of the casting of the Dragon out of heaven upon the earth-the heaven naturally and necessarily in regard to this political power symbolizing metropolitan Italy, and the earth naturally representing provincial Germany. The same mighty and disastrous eclipse of power and descent from lofty position, is unquestionably represented by the judgment of the fourth trumpet, ch. viii. 12, and alluded to as above, ch. xii. 2. Now the Dragon, Beast, and Whore, or Two-horned Beast or False Prophet, the three last terms being synonymous designations, comprehend the three enemies of the Conqueror on the White Horse. But these are all his enemies. Accordingly, the main features of the plan or plot of the allegory are discernible from this interpretation.
But a very important lesson is to be drawn from this specimen-interpretation, as it may be properly considered, afforded by the angel, besides the particular information which it yields. It teaches by an express example that political significations alone are to be put upon the symbols. The angel does this, and it can hardly be doubted that he does
it as an example to be followed, since there is not a single hint given to pursue a different course. It is certain, at least, that those who apply the prophecy to events strictly of a political character, in the manner of the interpreting angel, walk by a precedent established in the book itself.
But if unity of conception is admitted to be an essential principle of the allegory, then the disclosure here made of the second sense, with an entirely political reference, necessarily involves the conclusion that the whole prophecy is political. It cannot, according to a fundamental law of the allegory, deliver any predictions except on the political field, for the reason that it has uttered predictions once upon this field.
These considerations would undoubtedly have weighed with the great majority of commentators, had it not been that a supposed counter-interpretation appeared to authorize them to pursue a different course from that which is here so clearly pointed out. But the very idea of a counter-interpretation casts a strong suspicion on the validity of its claim to its being ranked as an interpretation at all, and we shall presently see that this claim is wholly groundless.
Besides this lengthened explanation furnished by the angel, there are others in the book of minor importance and of a less definite character, all of which, however, speak the same langnage in regard to the main subject developed in the prophecy.
The value of this interpretation is very great. It is clear and definite in the highest degree, and it pours
a beam of light upon the central mysteries of the prophecy, showing us distinctly who the three enemies are that wrestle with the Conqueror on the White Horse. It is well known who this Conqueror is ; it is well known from this interpretation who his three enemies are. We know, accordingly, what the four actors are in the plot of the prophecy, which plot is a contest of a victor with three antagonists, whom the former overcomes and destroys by casting into a lake of fire. The interpretation lifts the allegoric mask from the three antagonists of the Conqueror, and it unveils three of the actors in the plot of the allegory. It accordingly furnishes a most important key to the interpretation of the whole prophecy.
But the most important value perhaps which it possesses is the rule laid down by it applicable to all the remanent symbolical imagery of the book, of which no formal interpretation is rendered. This is to apply it to events that transpire on the political
The precedent established by the angel may justly be held to have all the force of a law, which, if it be not impiety, is, at least, an outrage on common sense to set aside. Here is a book partially interpreted. Common sense decides that the partial interpretation is a guide to the whole. The rule which is here laid down, although not by precept but by example, is only in unison with that which all the other interpretations rendered in Scripture afford, so that it rests on the basis of well-established precedent. At the same time it stands in harmony with every thing that is to be learned from the book of Revelation
itself. Still the distinct confirmation in respect of this book, the enunciation in itself of a principle which prevails in other symbolical prophecies, is a matter of no small moment. It chalks out for the interpreter, by the authority of a special announcement, that compact and definite field for the application of the hieroglyphics, with which alone they are competent to grapple, and within the limited bounds of which he himself cannot make any very extensive wanderings. It, at the same time, points out to him the same field as that which has been occupied by the other symbolical prophecies, which are thus made to contribute their light to clear up the mysteries of the Revelation.