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beast. When paganism was overthrown, the beast, in one of its heads was, “as it were, wounded to death ;” but when Christianity became so corrupted as to be paganized, “ the deadly wound was healed.”
Chap. xiii. 1-16.
Another beast “rose out of the earth, with two horns like a lamb, but who spake as a dragon”—denoting the hierarchy, or false church itself, which is cotemporary, and all along acts in concert with the first or secular beast
Chap. xiii. 11-18.
During the ravages of these beasts, and in opposition to them and their followers, appears “a Lamb standing upon Mount Sion, and with him 144,000, having his Father's name written in their foreheads. Their victory over antichristian error and corruption at the Reformation, is signified by “the voice of many waters, like thunder, and of harpers, harping with their harps.” The spirit lately excited to carry the gospel to the heathen, is thought to be denoted by the evangelical “ angel.” The diminution and approaching dissolution of the antichristian power, is represented by “another angel following, and saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen!" And the danger of symbolizing and tampering with antichristianism is suggested by the solemn warnings of " a third angel.” Then follows that of which the signal only had been given in the cry of the second angel-namely, the overthrow of Babylon, which is denoted by a harvest and a vintage
Three general descriptions having been given, each of which carried us to the end of the 1260 years, the series of the prophecy, from the time of the sounding of the seventh, or third woe-trumpet, is now resumed. This trumpet wears a two-fold aspect: it is partly a woe-trumpet, and partly what may be called a jubilee-trumpet. In the first view, the SEVEN VIALS are a subdivision of it in the last, it comprehends the Millennium, and all that follows to the end of the prophecy Chap. XV.
The sounding of the seventh angel is the signal for the commencement of the pouring out of the vials, and is supposed to have taken place within the last five and twenty years. The vials are interpreted on the principle of their resemblance to the trumpets-namely, the first, poured out on the “ earth,” is supposed to denote the late wars on the continent between France and the other continental powers; the second, poured upon the “sea,” the wars carrying on in the maritime nations of Spain and Portugal; the third, poured upon the rivers and foun
tains of water," the wars which, if the principle here adopted be just, will ere long befall Italy and Savoy, the countries where was shed in shocking profusion the blood of the Waldenses; the fourth, poured upon the “sun,” the oppression of the supreme government to which the antichristian church will be subjected at the time; the fifth, poured on “ the seat of the beast,” such judgments as will either drive him from his den, or render him very miserable in it; the sixth, poured on “Euphra. tes,” and producing the battle of “ Armageddon,” partly the overthrow of the Turkish empire, and partly the temporal ruin of the adherents of popery; the seventh, poured into the “air,” the overthrow of the spiritual power of popery, and of every other species of false religion.
The three following chapters are considered as Notes of IUustration, containing more particular accounts of several subjects which have been already introduced. In the first of them, (Chap. xvii.) the false church is described under the opprobrious name of the great whore," and the powers which support her, under that of “ a beast with seven heads and ten horns." This beast, namely, the Roman empire, “was, and is not, and yet is.” When it was pagan, it existed with all its beastly properties; when it became Christian, it was supposed to have lost them, and to be a beast no longer; but by the corruptions introduced into Christianity, and which were supported by it, the beast still continued
The “ seven heads” of the beast have a two-fold application. First, they are said to be “seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth;" referring to the seven hills on which Rome, when in its full extent, is well known to have stood, and so pointing out the seat of the hierarchy. They are also said to be “seven kings,” that is, governments, under which the empire had subsisted, did subsist, and would subsist hereafter. The forms under which it had subsisted, but which were passed away at the time of the commencement of the prophecy, were Kings, Consuls, Dictators, Decemvirs, and Military Tribunes ; the form under which it then subsisted was that of Emperors; and that which was as yet to come, and to continue a short space,” was the government which succeeded the overthrow of the Emperors, and continued under various changes for about 300 years, till the days of Charlemagne; when a government was established which combined all the nations of Europe in support of the antichristian hierarchy. This short-lived intermediate power might on some accounts be considered as the “ seventh” head of the beast, and as such be distinguished from its last head, which in this view would be the
"eighth :" but upon the whole, it was rather to be considered as belonging to that in which it terminated, and which in this view would be "of the seven."
The "ten horns” are the kingdoms of Europe, which till the Reformation all united with the empire in supporting the harlot; but which, have already begun, and will go on to hate her, to eat her flesh, and to burn her with fire
The second of these Notes of Illustration (contained in the 18th and the first eight verses of the 19th chapter) is a sacred ode, sent, as it were from heaven, to be suug at the overthrow of the antichristian church, in which are celebrated not only the "fall of Babylon," but "the marriage of the Lamb;" that is, not only the termination of the reign of the beast, but the introduction of the Millennial reign of Christ, which shall follow upon it Chap. xviii. xix. 1~~8.
The third and last of these Notes (which begins at the 9th verse of the 19th chapter) describes the actual accomplishment of the fall of Babylon, which the foregoing ode had anticipated. He whose name is the Word of God goes forth "riding upon a white horse,” (the appropriate symbol for the success of the gospel,) joined by his faithful followers.This provokes the adherents of the beast and of the false prophet, who, gathering together their forces to oppose them, perish in the attempt. Chap. xix. 9-21.
As the overthrow of the antichristian hierarchy was celebrated in the preceding ode, under the symbol of "the fall of Babylon," prior to its actual accomplishment; so was the Millennium under that of "the marriage-supper of the Lamb." This glorious period is now introduced as actually taking place. The "beast and the false prophet," or the secular and ecclesiastical powers being fallen, the Dragon himself is next seized and thrust into a state of confinement.—“Thrones" `may denote stations of importance both in the world and in the church, which will now be filled by righteous men: thus "the kingdom is given to the people of the saints of the Most High;" and as the public mind will favour it, righteousness will every where prevail; corruptions, oppressions, wars, tumults, and rebellions, will cease from the earth, and all nations feel towards each other as children of the same family.-Now "judgment" is given to the martyrs, inasmuch as the cause for which they were slain is vindicated, and their memory honoured; while "the
rest," or the remnant of the antichristian party, who escaped from the battle in which their leaders were "taken," will be as dead men till the thousand years are ended. To them this glorious period will be a burial, but to the other a "resurrection."
After the Millennium, Satan is loosed for a little season, and makes one more desperate effort to corrupt the world, and to destroy the church. This brings on the general conflagration-the resurrection of the dead -and the last judgment Chap. xx.
After this appear "the new heavens and the new earth" spoken of by Peter, "wherein dwelleth righteousness." The world, purified from sin and its effects, becomes the everlasting abode of the righteous, who having been raised from the dead, are immortal.—The whole animate and inanimate creation, in so far as it has been "made subject to the vanity" of subserving the cause of evil, is emancipated, and possessed that for which it has "travailed in pain," from the fall of man until now.-No more shall the earth be polluted and desolated by a succession of beasts ; but lo, "the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them, and be their God.
CONCLUSION. The present the period of the vials; or that space of time which begins with the sounding of the seventh trumpet, and ends in the Millennium.-The termination of the 1260 years probably uncertain.-A time of persecution to be previously expected.—Great success will attend the preaching of the gospel before the Millennium.-Aspect of the present times.-The Millennial glory.-Concluding reflections on the recent changes in Europe.