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tation, of marking a political dominion with the characteristic of seven heads and ten horns, ch. xvii., and of attaching the same characteristic to a spirit, ch. xii. This is such a total reversal of all the principles of hieroglyphic writing, that on this ground alone Satan cannot be held to be designed.
In the fourth place, if Satan is meant, then one of the principal actors in the book is generic, itself sufficiently inconceivable, and comprehends other two actors under it, namely, the beast and the whore, for these must be understood to act under the influence of Satan. Of such a comprehension, which if Satan is the Spirit must exist, there is not the slightest trace in the book. The Dragon, the Beast, and the Whore, the three actors, appear of perfectly equal standing. There is no intimation that the Dragou leads the two latter on, or that he holds any pre-eminence over them, such as that which Satan must be conceived to hold relatively to two political powers acting under his influence. Such a relationship must have been expressed had the Dragon been intended to represent Satan the Spirit; and the nondevelopment of it is evidence to the contrary. At the same time the relationships actually developed between the three symbols, are precisely such as are correspondent with the application of them to the Roman Empire, Papacy, and the Church. It is plainly contrary to the true relation of things, to represent Satan on the same level and in alliance as the Dragon is represented, ch. xvi. 13, 14, with two political powers. Again, the Dragon, the Beast and the False
prophet, (or the Whore,) are described as gathering their forces to a final battle, ch. xvi. 14. But if the Dragon be Satan, the Spirit, the representation made is inept, for the Dragon is contradistinguished from the other two, and yet being Satan, he necessarily comprehends them both. The representation of the prophet is thus made to contain the absurdity which would lie in the statement, were any one foolish enough to make it, “ Germany, Austria, and Prussia levied war against France,” which is a statement plainly absurd. The interpreter is not at liberty to attach a meaning to the work he is deciphering, which makes it speak a language that is inept and ridiculous.
In the fifth place, if Satan is to be taken literally and the Dragon symbolically, the language and the allegory in which the prophecy is couched are at once destroyed. The language is annihilated by the subversion of its fundamental law that it is symbolical; if it is partly literal and partly symbolical, it is destroyed as a vehicle of intelligible communication, since there is nothing in it to determine what is literal and what is symbolic. It is destroyed in another respect, likewise ; for a foreign element a spiritual one is introduced in it, which unfastens it from the mooring it has in the symbolic language of the Old Testament. The lexicon which it has is thus committed to the flames, and the book of universal nature is opened up to expound a few simple hieroglyphic signs, which thus become the sport of imagination, but cease to exist as definite and intelligible
signs. The same blow inflicts on the allegory's unity a fatal stab, so that the life of the prophecy is taken in one and the same assault. These are consequences so disastrous that the interpreter is no more at liberty to apply an interpretation which incurs them, than the physician is licensed to administer a poison.
Sixthly and lastly; the true interpretation of the symbol is given in Scripture itself, which applies it to the Roman Empire. Two predictions of Zechariah not only authorize but necessitate the application of the symbol to the Roman dominion; a third points out the Imperial to be that division of it with which Satan is associated. This association is made in that very language in which the prophet writes, and its authority, accordingly, in fixing the sense of the symbol, is in itself sufficient, while in the absence of every other it is absolute.
There is thus nothing in this celebrated passage which has been made the war-cry of commentators for ages in their onslaught on the sense of the prophecy, to conflict with the interpretation in ch. xvii. It gives no key whatever to the sense; it expresses a mystery; but this mystery is solved in another part of Scripture. Instead of a key, this passage literally taken is a firebrand, which is more consistently in the hand of the enemy than the ally. It is in truth a firebrand which, when applied to the temple, wraps it in a desperate cloud of smoke, besmirches its pillars, and conceals its proportions from view. The true key is to be found in Zechariah. The authority hence derived, attaches to this symbol of the prophecy the
same strictly political sense which all the other symbols in it bear. This authority speaks the language of the angel which is the language of truth. Out of Zechariah, then, there breaks forth a light from the divine source of light, in the radiance of which the prophetic temple reveals itself in the proportions of exquisite symmetry, of inagnificent but classical beauty. It contains within it an oracle that speaks forth the destiny of Man, of Empires, and of Nations, but not of Satan.
THE DOUBLE ALLEGORY IN ITS SECOND AND REAL SENSE,
OR PLAN AND DESIGN OF THE REVELATION.
We understand, or, at least, we believe we understand now the first representation which the Revelation makes. It is a very essential point. This first representation contains two allegories instead of one, or two versions of the prophecy instead of one, as it has hitherto been holden to contain. It has been seen that this twofold representation is a law of symbolic prophecy, which law we are bound to believe the Revelation follows. It has been seen farther that when it is applied to the prophecy, a plan arises for it which is at once extremely simple and extremely beautiful-in itself evidence of the double version. It has been seen that the plan of the prophet is to give a short first version containing a synopsis or table of contents to a longer, full, and complete version. This second version he delivers in the seventh or perfect seal; the one version he, or, to speak more correctly, the Spirit of God, divides from the other by silence in heaven about the space of half an hour”-a clear and palpable expression of the division, which has such an effect, and which can have no other.