The ancient Romans prostrated themselves before images of wood and stone; and Jerome tells us that "by idols were to be understood the images of the dead." In Catholic Rome, worshippers prostrated themselves before images of departed saints. The old Roman Pantheon, which was dedicated by Agrippa "to Jove, and all the gods," was re-consecrated by Pope Boniface IV., about A. D. 610, "to the blessed Virgin and all the saints." As in the old pagan temple, any stranger could find the god of his own country; so in its re-consecrated state, each country could find its patron saint. Other temples were changed and re-consecrated in the same manner. The ancient statue of Jupiter stands now as the statue of St. Peter. The pagans had their vestal virgins; the Papists their nuns.
Dr. Middleton, who visited Rome in 1729, says:
"Nothing, I found, concurred so much with my original intention of conversing with the ancients; or so much helped my imagination, to find myself wandering about in old heathen Rome, as to observe and attend to their religious worship; all whose ceremonies appear plainly to have been copied from the rituals of primitive Paganism: as if handed down by an uninterrupted succession from the priests of old, to the priests of new Rome, whilst each of them readily explained, and called to mind some passages of a classic author, where the same ceremony was described, as transacted in the same form and manner, and in the same place where I now saw it executed before my eyes."—Dowl. Hist. of Rom., p. 114.
Says Mr. Lord:
"After a struggle of more than four centuries, the ecclesiastics of all the hierarchies in the empire were united in one vast organization, with the pontiff as their supreme legislative and judicial head, and a single ecclesiastical government was established over the whole Roman church, after the model of the civil government of the ancient empire under Constantine and his successors. It is, accordingly, denominated by Catholics themselves a monarchy. 'All Catholic doctors agree in this, that the ecclesiastical government committed to men by God is a monarchy.'—Bellarmini de Rom. Pont., lib. i., c. v. Bellarmine devotes his first book 'of the Pontiff' to prove that such is and ought to be its government. 'If the monarchical is the best form of government, as we have shown, and it is certain that the church of God instituted by Christ its head, who is supremely wise, ought to be governed in the best manner, who can deny that its rule ought to be monarchical?'—Ib., i., c. ix., p. 527.
"The canonists are accustomed, accordingly, to denominate the Pope a king.
"The pontiffs were as absolutely the legislative and judicial head of this ecclesiastical kingdom, as the emperors from Constantine to Augustulus were of the civil empire, and imposed whatever laws they pleased on subordinate ecclesiastics and on the church by decrees, in the same manner as those emperors enacted laws by edicts. The decrees, bulls of canonization, sentences, charters, and other legislative and judicial acts of the pontiffs, from Gregory VII., in 1073, to Benedict XIV., in 1757, collected in the Bullarium Magnum, fill nineteen folios. Many others are contained in the decretals and councils.
"They appointed to all ecclesiastical offices throughout the empire, as the Christian emperors appointed to all civil and military offices in their dominions.
"They exacted oaths of fidelity from all whom they advanced to important offices; as the emperors exacted engagements of fidelity from their civil magistrates.
"They established courts in which all violations of their laws were tried, and a tribunal at the capital for the decision of appeals. There were gradations of rank in the hierarchy, like those of the magistrates of the civil empire. The hierarchies, as nationalized by Constantine, were formed in each patriarchate, after the model of the civil government in the provinces. The hierarchy of the western kingdoms, under the Pope, was formed after that pattern; having archbishops or metropolitans at the head of the clergy of each nation, or large district, and bishops, abbots, and a long catalogue of subordinate ranks, under each metropolitan.
"They levied taxes for their support on ecclesiastics and laics.
"They inflicted ecclesiastical penalties on the violators of their laws; exclusion from communion, suspension from office, deposition, excommunication, and a sentence of eternal death."—Exp. of Apoc., pp. 429-432.
These, with many other striking resemblances, demonstrate that the Roman hierarchy, in all its great features, was a counterpart to imperial Rome—an image of, and belonging to, the seven-headed, ten-horned monster, whose deadly wound was healed.
Life was to be given to this image by the two-horned beast. The papal hierarchy is created when its supremacy over other churches is declared and sustained; and the power by which this is done, is that which gives life to it. This was done, according to the following history, by the Eastern empire.
The power of the papacy, symbolized by the image, had been predicted in Daniel under the symbol of "a Little Horn," that came up among the previous "ten horns," before whom "there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things," Dan. 7:8. These horns were thus explained to Daniel: "The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall arise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him." Ib. vs. 23-27.
When Paul spoke of the second coming of Christ, in his first epistle to the Thessalonians, they understood that it was an event then imminent. The apostle, in his second epistle, corrects this impression, by referring to the foregoing prediction in Daniel, which must be previously fulfilled. He assures them that "the day of Christ" "shall not come, except there be" an apostasy, or "a falling away first, and that Man of Sin," or the lawless one, "be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming," 2 Thess. 2:2-8.
The uniform application of these predictions to the Papacy, by Protestant writers, renders it unnecessary to argue this point. That power began early to be manifested, but its full development was "let," i.e., hindered, by the continuance of the Western empire, which had to be taken out of its way. Tertullian, near the close of the second century, in expounding those words, says: "Who can this be but the Roman state, the division of which into ten kingdoms will bring on Antichrist?" And he gives as a reason why the Christians of his time prayed for the Roman empire: that the greatest calamity hanging over the world was retarded by the continuance of it. Cyril of Jerusalem in the fourth century applied the passage in the same manner, and says:
"Thus the predicted Antichrist will come when the times of the Roman empire shall be fulfilled, and the consummation of the world shall approach. Ten kings of the Romans shall arise together, in different places indeed, but they shall reign at the same time. Among these the eleventh is Antichrist, who, by magical and wicked artifice, shall seize the Roman power." A large number of the ancient fathers interpreted this text in the same manner.
In A. D. 257, 1260 years before the time of Luther, Stephen, Bishop of Rome, began to act the pope in good earnest,—excommunicating those who dissented from the doctrines of Rome.
In 312, 1260 years before the massacre of St. Bartholomew in 1572, Constantine became Emperor of Rome, embraced Christianity, and terminated the last and bloodiest of the Pagan persecutions—that of Diocletian, which had continued ten years. Constantine undertook to remodel the church, in conformity to the government of the state, and the unhallowed union of the two resulted in the dignities of patriarchs, exarchs, archbishops, canons, prebendaries, &c., which he endowed with wealth and worldly honors.
While paganism was superseded by Christianity under Constantine, its ceremonies were not suppressed. The senate was still pagan; and "the title, the ensigns, and the prerogatives of Sovereign Pontiff, which had been instituted by Numa, and assumed by Augustus, were accepted, without hesitation, by seven Christian emperors."—Gibbon, v. 2, p. 183. Gratian became emperor, A. D. 376, and was the first who refused the pontifical robe. In 378, he invested Theodosius with the Empire of the East; under their rule paganism was "wholly extirpated," and the senate was suddenly converted.—Ib. That which hindered was thus taken out of the way. In 378, also, Gratian refusing the office, Damasus, the Bishop of Rome, was "declared Pontifix Maximus,"(4) and made "the sole judge in religious matters." All who would not adhere to the religion "professed by the Pontiff Damasus, and by Peter, Bishop of Alexandria," were declared heretics.—Gibbon, v. 2, p. 156. Damasus, by virtue of his power, introduced the worship of the saints, and of Mary, "the mother of God,"—excommunicating those who dissented. Thus the apostasy, by adopting the gods of the heathen, and the name of the heathen pontiff, began to be set up, and the excommunicated church disappeared in the wilderness.
In the ninth century a document was produced, which claimed to be a deed of gift from Constantine to the Pope, dated A. D. 324, ceding him the city of Rome and all Italy, with the crown, the mitre, &c.; but the forgery of this has been fully exposed. With the removal of the capital of the world to Constantinople, the empire began to decline; but the church augmented as fast. A provisional synod at Sardica, in A. D. 344, and a decree of the Emperor Valentinian III., in 445, had acknowledged the Bishop of Rome as the primate of the five patriarchs, and as the last tribunal of appeal from the other bishops; but the edicts of the Pope were often disregarded and opposed, and he continued subject to the civil power till the subversion of the Western empire by Odoacer, King of the Heruli, in A. D. 476.
The ten kingdoms which had arisen on the ruins of the Western empire (p. 169), had nearly all embraced Christianity, corrupted by Arianism. And the barbarians transferred to their Christian instructors, the profound submission and reverence which they were accustomed to yield to the teachers of paganism,—many of the rites and ceremonies of which had been incorporated into the Catholic service. Ecclesiastical courts were established, in which were tried all questions relating to character, office, or property of the clergy; and thus they became nearly independent of the civil judges.
The Heruli, which was the first of the ten horns plucked up, were conquered by the Ostrogoths, in A. D. 493, when all Italy submitted to Theodoric. He fixed his capital at Ravenna, which left the Pope the only Prince of Rome; and the Romans, for protection, were forced to pay more deference to him.
About A. D. 500, two Popes were simultaneously elected, when Theodoric gave the papal chair to Symmachus. Gross crimes being alleged against him by the defeated party, the king summoned a council in A. D. 503 to investigate the charges; and he was acquitted. The other party being dissatisfied, Ennodius, Bishop Ticonum, drew up an apology for the Pope and council, in which, for the first time, the Pope was styled a "Judge in the place of God, and Vicegerent of the Most High;" and "subject to no earthly tribunal." Thus did the Lawless One attempt, "as God," to "sit in the temple of God."
In A. D. 533, Justinian, Emperor at Constantinople, being about to attack the Vandals in Africa, and wishing first to settle the religious disputes of his capital in which he felt a great interest, he submitted the controversy to the primate of Rome. To induce a decision in his own favor, or to give force to it, he acknowledged the Bishop of Rome the Chief of the whole Ecclesiastical body of the empire; and thus addressed him, in a letter sent by two distinguished prelates:—
"Justinian, pious, fortunate, renowned, triumphant emperor, consul, &c., to John, the most holy Archbishop of our city of Rome, and patriarch.
"Rendering honor to the Apostolic chair, and to your Holiness, as has been always and is our wish, and honoring your blessedness as a father; we have hastened to bring to the knowledge of your Holiness all matters relating to the state of the churches. It having been at all times our great desire to preserve the unity of your Apostolic chair, and the constitution of the holy churches of God which has obtained hitherto, and still obtains.
"Therefore we have made no delay in subjecting and uniting to your Holiness all the priests of the whole East.
"For this reason we have thought fit to bring to your notice the present matters of disturbance; though they are manifest and unquestionable, and always firmly held and declared by the whole priesthood according to the doctrine of your Apostolic chair. For we cannot suffer that anything which relates to the state of the Church, however manifest and unquestionable, should be moved, without the knowledge of your Holiness, who are The Head of all the Holy Churches, for in all things, as we have already declared, we are anxious to increase the honor and authority of your Apostolic chair."
Says Dr. Croly:—
"The emperor's letter must have been sent before the 25th of March, 533. For, in his letter of that date to Epiphanius he speaks of its having been already despatched, and repeats his decision, that all affairs touching the church shall be referred to the Pope, 'head of all bishops, and the true and effective corrector of heretics.'
"In the same month of the following year, 534, the Pope returned an answer repeating the language of the emperor, applauding his homage to the See, and adopting the titles of the imperial mandate. He observes that, among the virtues of Justinian, 'one shines as a star, his reverence for the Apostolic chair, to which he has subjected and united all the churches, it being truly the head of all; and was testified by the rules of the fathers, the laws of the princes, and the declarations of the emperor's piety.'
"The authenticity of the title receives unanswerable proof from the edicts in the 'Novellae' of the Justinian code.
"The preamble of the 9th states that 'as the elder Rome was the founder of the laws, so was it not to be questioned that in her was the supremacy of the pontificate.'
"The 131st, on the ecclesiastical titles and privileges, chapter II. states: 'We therefore decree that the most holy Pope of the elder Rome is the first of all the priesthood, and that the most blessed archbishop of Constantinople, the new Rome, shall hold the second rank after the holy Apostolic chair of the elder Rome.'
"The supremacy of the Pope had by those mandates and edicts received the fullest sanction that could be given by the authority of the master of the Roman world. However worthless the motives, the act was done, authentic and unquestionable, sanctioned by all the forms of state, and never abrogated,—the act of the first potentate in the world. If the supremacy over the church of God had been for man to give, it might have been given by the unrivalled sovereignty of Justinian.
"From this era the church of Rome dates the earthly acknowledgment of her claim. Its heavenly authority is referred to the remoter source of the apostles."—Apoc., pp. 14-16, 30, 31.
The war against the Vandals was vigorously prosecuted by Belisarius, Justinian's general, and resulted in their conquest the same year. Thus was the second of the first ten divisions of the empire subjugated: the second horn was plucked up.
Rome was still in possession of an Arian monarch, who was the bitter enemy of the Catholic church. Intelligence of the success of Belisarius in Africa reached the emperor, Dec. 16th, A. D. 533. "Impatient to abolish the temporal and spiritual tyranny of the Vandals, he proceeded, without delay, to the full establishment of the Catholic church."—Gibbon, Harpers' ed., v. 3, p. 67. Belisarius proceeded to the conquest of Italy, which he effected, and marched on to Rome. Only 4000 soldiers were stationed for its defence; and they could not oppose the wishes of the Romans, who voluntarily submitted. Seized with a momentary enthusiasm, "they furiously exclaimed that the apostolic throne should no longer be profaned by the triumph or toleration of Arianism; that the tombs of the Caesars should no longer be trampled on by the savages of the north; and without reflecting that Italy must sink into a province of Constantinople, they fondly hailed the restoration of a Roman emperor as a new era of freedom and prosperity. The deputies of the Pope and clergy, of the senate and people, invited the lieutenant of Justinian to accept their voluntary allegiance, and to enter the city." Thus was "the city, after sixty years' servitude delivered from the yoke of the barbarians," Dec. 10, A. D. 536. And "the Catholics prepared to celebrate, without a rival, the approaching festival of the nativity of Christ."—Ib. p. 80.
In the winter, the Ostrogoths made preparations, and besieged Rome with an army of 150,000 fighting men. Pope Sylverius was suspected of treachery, and on proof that he had communicated with the enemy, he was banished by Belisarius. At the emperor's command, the clergy of Rome proceeded to the choice of a new bishop, and elected "deacon Virgilius, who had purchased the papal throne by a bribe of two hundred pounds of gold."—Ib. p. 85. As he had obtained the papal seat by fraud, it was claimed that he was not the lawful Pope; but in A. D. 538, he was owned as such by the 5th General Council, and the whole Christian world.—See Bowers' Hist. Popes, v. 2, p. 374. In March of this year (538),—after "one year and nine days"—the Ostrogoths raised the siege of Rome, and burned their tents—one-third of their number having perished under its walls. The arms of Justinian triumphed, and the Catholic hierarchy was established. The third horn had been plucked up by the fall of the third of the first ten divisions of Rome.
The Bishop of Constantinople did not submit willingly to the Primacy of Rome. On the death of Justinian, the supremacy of the Pope was utterly denied; and, in A. D. 588, John, Bishop of Constantinople, himself assumed the coveted title of "Universal Bishop." The Roman bishop, Gregory the Great, indignant at this usurpation, denounced him as a "usurper, aiming at supremacy over the whole church," and declared that whoever claims such supremacy "has the pride and character of Antichrist."
Boniface succeeded to the Roman See, and in the following year, A. D. 606, only two years after Gregory's death, applied to Phocas,—who had ascended the throne of Constantinople by the murder of the Emperor Mauritius,—for the same blasphemous title, with the privilege of continuing it to his successors. His request was granted, the Eastern Bishop was forbidden its use, and the Primate of Rome was again acknowledged as "Universal Bishop," and the unrivalled "Head of all the churches." This title has been worn by all the succeeding Popes; "but the highest authority," says Dr. Croly, "among the civilians and annalists of Rome, spurn the idea that Phocas was the founder of the supremacy of Rome. They ascend to Justinian as the only legitimate source, and rightly date the title from the memorable year 533."—Apoc. p. 117.
In A. D. 730, Emperor Leo issued an edict for the destruction of all images used in religious worship. From that time the Pope scorned his authority, and acted in defiance of the emperor's will, who found himself unable to compel the Pope to obey the edict.
The Papacy thus defied all human authority; but did not as yet attempt the exercise of political power.
In A. D. 756, Pepin, the usurper of the crown of France, compelled the King of Lombardy to cede the exarchate of Ravenna to the Pope, "to be forever held and possessed by St. Peter and his lawful successors in the See of Rome." The Pope had now become a temporal prince, and one of the kings of the earth. In A. D. 774, Charlemagne, the successor of Pepin, confirmed the former gift, and in addition, subjugated the Lombards, and annexed a large portion of their kingdom and the Duchy of Rome to the Roman See. In A. D. 817, Louis the Pious, granted "St. Peter's patrimony" to the Pope and his successors, "in their own right, principality, and dominion, unto the end of the world." Hence, as a temporal prince, the Pope wears a triple crown.
In A. D. 800, Charlemagne was solemnly crowned and proclaimed emperor by the Pope, having reduced under his sway nearly the whole of Europe. From this time the Popes claimed superiority to all kings and emperors, received homage from them, and exercised all the rights of sovereignty; but they were nominally dependent on the Emperors of the West till A. D. 1278, when the Emperor Rudolph released the people of the Papal States from all allegiance they might still owe to the imperial crown. This act was confirmed by the electors and princes of the empire. The Popes, in the greatness of their power, crowned and uncrowned kings at their pleasure, absolved subjects from all allegiance to their rulers, excommunicated whoever they would, and compelled secular princes to put to death heretics.
In A. D. 1294, Boniface VIII. became Pope. From his accession Hallam dates the decline of the Papacy, which, for "more than two centuries, had been on throne of the earth, and reigned despot of the world."—Dowling. This was 1260 years from the death of Peter,—the earliest time from which they can date. His bull of excommunication against Philip of France, being disregarded by that monarch, who adroitly made the Pope his prisoner, his rage brought on a fever, which caused his death. Only a few succeeding pontiffs claimed, and none attempted to enforce, the prerogatives exercised by the preceding Popes. For seventy years the successors of Boniface resided at Avignon, in France, and paid great deference to the monarch of that country. After this was the Western schism, which divided the church for forty years,—two rival Popes claiming the mitre, and thundering out their anathemas against each other. These events greatly weakened the Papacy. About this time appeared Wickliffe and Huss, and Jerome of Prague; and still later, in 1517, Martin Luther, in opposition to the Papal pretensions, published his Thesis against Indulgences, 1260 years from the time of the arrogance of Pope Stephen.
In A. D. 1572, 1260 years from the removal of Constantine from Rome to Constantinople, occurred the bloody massacre of St. Bartholomew, when in one day 5000 Protestants were murdered in Paris, and in the same proportion in other parts of France. The persecutions of the Papists continued till near the close of the last century; and as late as November, 1781, a woman was burned alive by the Inquisition in Spain.
In 1793, 1260 years from Justinian's letter to the Pope, the Papal church, with all religion, was entirely suppressed in France. And in 1798, which was the same length of time from the establishment of the papacy, by the conquest of the Ostrogoths,—the plucking up of the last of the three horns in 538, Gen. Berthier entered Rome, compelled the Pope to flee, and terminated the Papal government.
The temporal power was afterwards restored; but in 1848, twelve hundred and sixty years from 588 when John assumed the title of Universal Bishop, the Pope again fled from his throne. Two years subsequently, he was again restored.
"Flacius, in his 'Catalogue of Witnesses,' represented the twelve hundred and sixty days as having commenced in 606;" and Scott, and several others, reckon them from the same epoch.
4. The image had power to speak. It thus filled the office of the "mouth," which was given to the ten-horned beast (v. 5), which synchronizes with the view taken of that appendage, p. 172.
5. It should cause the infliction of death on those who should refuse to worship. The worship it would exact, is doubtless of the kind bestowed on the wild beast, 13:4. The Papal hierarchy claimed to be infallible and invincible, and to have power to bind and loose on earth and in heaven; those who refused to recognize its claims, if incorrigible, were punished with death.
The Image was not to put to death, but would cause them to be killed. The symbolization corresponds with the fulfilment in this particular. The ecclesiastical officials punished rebellious subjects, by delivering them over to the civil arm; which punished heretics according to the will of the Papacy. "Lucius III. and Innocent III. by formal decrees required them to be seized, condemned, and delivered by the civil magistrates, to be capitally punished; and enjoined the princes and magistrates to execute on them the sentences denounced by the canon and civil laws."—Lord's Exp. of Apoc., p. 434. This is substantiated by Bellarmini and other writers. Civil rulers, who refused to enforce the decrees of the councils, were anathematized, excommunicated, and often deprived of their political power. When the Papacy has been reminded of the numbers killed and otherwise punished for alleged heresy, she has replied that the civil power, and not the church, has done this! She, however, has caused the kings of the earth to execute her wishes.
6. The image would cause all to receive the mark of the Beast. A mark is a token of recognition. Slaves, soldiers, and the devotees of various gods, were thus identified on their hands or foreheads, both before and after the time of St. John—slaves by the name of the Emperor on their forehead, and soldiers by his name on their hand. Mr. Elliott proves this by quotations from Valerius, Maximus, AElian, Ambrose, and others. The devotees of particular gods gained admittance to the secret meetings of the worshippers of their respective deity, by a mark by which they identified each other. At the present day the Hindoos are marked on the forehead by the hieroglyphic of the god they are consecrated to.
The mark of the beast, is its name, or the number of its name. The ancients often used numbers to indicate names. "Among the Pagans, the Egyptian mystics spoke of Mercury, or Thouth, under the number 1218, because the Greek letters composing the name Thouth, when estimated according to their numerical value, together made up that number. By others, Jupiter was invoked under the mystical number 717; because the letters of Ἡ ΑΡΧΗ, the beginning, or first origin, which was a characteristic title of the supreme deity worshipped as Jupiter, made up that number: and Apollo under the number 608, as being that of ηυς, or υης, words expressing certain solar attributes. Again, the pseudo-Christian or semi-pagan Gnostics, from St. John's time downwards, affixed to their gems and amulets, of which multitudes remain even to the present day, the mystic word σβρασαξ, or αβραξας, under the idea of some magic virtue attaching to its number 365, as being that of the days of the annual solar circle; and equal moreover with that of Μειθρας, or Mithras, the Magian name for the sun, whom they identified also with Christ. Once more, the Christian fathers themselves fell into the same fancies, and doctrine of mysteriousness in certain verbal numbers. For example, both Barnabas and Clement of Alexandria speak of the virtue of the number 318 as being that of ΙΗΤ the common abbreviation for Jesus crucified; and partly ascribe to its magical virtue the victory which Abraham gained with his 318 servants over the Canaanitish kings. Similarly Tertullian refers the victory of Gideon, with his 300 men, to the circumstance of that being the precise number of Τ, the sign of the cross. In the name of Adam, St. Cyprian discerned a mysterious numeral affinity to certain characteristics in the life and history of the second Adam, Jesus Christ. Irenaeus notes the remarkable number 888 of the name Ιησους, Jesus. And in the pseudo-Sibylline verses, written by Christians about the end, probably, of the second century, and consequently not long after Irenaeus, we find enigmas proposed of precisely the same characters as that in the text;—the number being given, and the name required."—Elliott's Horae Apoc., vol. iii., pp. 204-6.
The "number of the beast" is indicated in the text by the Greek letters "χξς" which were severally used to represent the numbers 600, 60 and 6, making 666. As the name of the beast is equivalent to this number, the letters in it will represent numbers which amount to six hundred threescore and six.
After the division of the Roman empire, the western kingdom adopted for itself the name of the Latin kingdom; and its subdivisions were called the Latin kingdoms. The church connected with those kingdoms was also emphatically called the Latin church. Says Dr. More: "They Latinize everything. Mass, prayers, hymns, litanies, canons, decretals, bulls, are conceived in Latin. The Papal councils speak in Latin. Women pray in Latin. The Scriptures are read in no other language under the Papacy than Latin. In short, all things are Latin." The Council of Trent declared the Latin Vulgate to be the only authentic version of the Scriptures; and their doctors have preferred it to the Hebrew and Greek text, written by prophets and apostles.
This Latin kingdom is the only one that ever corresponded to the characteristics of the beast. And its name—Latinos in the Greek, and Romiith in the Hebrew—is equivalent to the required number.
"The Greek and Hebrew letters composing the words רומיית, Romiith—רמענוש, Romanus—λατεινος, Latinos, each of them making in numerals exactly 666, plainly point out not only his name, and the number of his name, but also the mark of his name; as for example:
in ר ו מ י י ת Romiith; so likewise 400 10 10 40 6 200 = 666 ר מ ע נ ו ש Romanus; and also 300 6 50 70 40 200 = 666 the Greek λ α τ ε ι ν ο ς Latinos, 30 1 300 5 10 50 70 200 = 666.
in each of which the exact mark is contained.
"It therefore evidently appears, that each name is both a mark and a number; a mark, when viewed as made up of so many letters, therefore called the mark of his name; a number, when viewed as made up of so many numerals, then called the number of his name. But when considered merely as a name, derived from Romiith, a Roman, or Romulus, the founder of Rome, a name common among men, it may then be properly called the mark, or number of a man."—Fleming's Rise and Fall of Papacy.
To receive the mark of the beast, would be an acknowledgment of subjection to it. The connection of the beast and its image was so intimate, that submission to the one, was virtual submission to the other. To submit to the rites of the church modelled after the wild beast, to profess its faith, and to honor its authority, would be a reception of its mark. And all persons were compelled to do this, and give evidence of submission to its authority on the peril of their lives.
7. Those who should refuse the mark of the beast, were to be prohibited from buying and selling. The Lateran Council under Pope Alexander II., passed an act forbidding any to harbor heretics in their houses or to trade with them. The Synod of Tours passed a law that no one should assist them, "no, not so much as to exercise commerce with them in selling or buying."(5)—Elliott. In 1179, the third Lateran Council sentenced certain heretics, "their defenders and harborers, to an anathema, and forbid, under an anathema, that any should presume to keep them in their house, or on their lands, sustain them, or transact any business with them."—Lord. "It was just the same fearful penalty of interdict from buying and selling, traffic and intercourse, that had been inculcated long before by the Pagan Dragon's representative Diocletian, against the early Christians."—Elliott.
So exact a correspondence between the wild beast and the Western kingdoms, the two-horned beast and the Eastern empire, and the image to the wild beast and the Roman Hierarchy, makes the symbolization of this chapter very intelligible. These three agencies will severally continue till the end of the world. The latter will be destroyed by the brightness of Christ's coming (2 Thess. 2:8), and the two former will then be taken and "cast alive into the lake of fire," 19:20.
The vision would have been defective without a representation of the end of those who refuse to worship the beast, or its image, or to receive their mark, and who, although warred against and overcome by the beast, should maintain their integrity to Christ. Accordingly the revelator has a view of:
The Redeemed on Mount Zion.
"And I looked, and behold a lamb stood on the mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand, having his name and the name of his Father written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder: and the voice which I heard was like that of harpers playing with their harps: and they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four living beings, and the elders: and no one could learn the song except the hundred and forty-four thousand, who were redeemed from the earth. These are they, who were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they who follow the Lamb wherever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, the first fruit to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth no lie was found for they are faultless."—Rev. 14:1-5.
The Lamb is shown by the connection to be Christ,—here called by one of his metaphorical names.
The Mount Zion, doubtless, symbolizes the place where, in the regeneration, the Lord will reign with his saints—i.e. in the new earth. "The Lord shall reign over them in Mount Zion," Micah 4:7.—"And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred and tongue, and people, and nation, and hast made us kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth," 5:9,10.—"And I saw a new heavens and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away.... And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall, be his people, and God himself shall be with them and be their God," 21:1-3.
The names of Mount Zion, and Jerusalem, were both used to denote the city which the Lord chose above all the goodly places of earth to put his name there. It is proper to designate the heavenly city, the new Jerusalem, by all the names which were applied to the old. The king is to be set upon the holy hill of Zion—"Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof. Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces," Psa. 48:12, 13. "When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in glory," Ib. 102:16. "For the Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest forever; here will I dwell; for I have desired it," Ib. 132:13, 14. "For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; and joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving and the voice of melody.... Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and mourning shall flee away." Isa. 51:3-11. "Awake, awake, put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.... How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, 'Thy God reigneth!' Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye when the Lord shall bring again Zion. Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem." Ib. 52:1-9. "And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord." Ib. 59:20.
The standing of the Lamb on Mount Zion, symbolizes an epoch when Christ shall assume a corresponding relation to his people. He there appears in person; and "when Christ who is your life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory," Col. 3:4. It will not be till he shall have judged "the quick and the dead at his appearing," (2 Tim. 4:1), that "the redeemed from among men" will "follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth."
The 144,000, who are with Christ, correspond with the number which are sealed, "of all the tribes of the children of Israel," (7:4); and they are doubtless the same persons, who, under the sixth seal, are designated, among all denominations of Christians, by the mark of the living God. They are there shown to be the godly, who shall be alive on the earth at Christ's coming and shall then be changed, and, with the risen dead, caught up to meet him in the air.
The sealing process there symbolized, is here shown to be the inscribing of the Father's name on their foreheads. The subjects of the beast and its image, receive its mark; but the children of God and the Lamb, are designated instead, by the name of the Father.
The voice from heaven as the voice of many waters, with the voice of harpers, is the singing of the new song which none but the 144,000 could learn. Those who are translated at Christ's coming, will be favored above all, save two, who will have lived on the earth, insomuch as they will have been redeemed from the earth without being subjected to death.
These sing in the presence of the four living creatures and the elders, who symbolize those who also are redeemed from among men and will reign on the earth, 5:8-10. Consequently those must symbolize the resurrected dead, with whom the 144,000 will be ushered into the Lord's presence, 1 Thess. 4:16, 17. The two bodies of the redeemed, are therefore both represented with the Lord on Mount Zion.
Their not being defiled with women, probably implies that they were not guilty of idolatry, which is represented by that figure, Ezek. 16:15. They had not submitted to the wiles of the woman seated on the scarlet-colored beast, (17:3); had not worshipped the beast or its image (14:9), and had been true to their Divine Sovereign.
They follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. All the redeemed will doubtless thus follow the Lamb, for of all the "great multitude which no man could number, of all nations and kindreds, and people, and tongues," who stood before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed "with white robes, and palms in their hands," (7:9)—it was said: "The Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of water," 7:17.
Those who are redeemed from among men, are called the "first fruits unto God and to the Lamb." They are not necessarily first fruits of the redeemed, to distinguish them from others of the redeemed, but are first fruits of the race: "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures," James 1:18. By his resurrection from the dead, Christ became "the first fruits of them that slept," 1 Cor. 15:20. And at his coming there is to be a "first resurrection" (20:6), when the bodies of the saints will "be fashioned like unto his glorious body" (Phil. 3:21), and thus become the first fruits with their risen Head. Those who come up at the second resurrection will not attain to that beatific state.
They are faultless, and without guile. They are not perfect by reason of any inherent goodness in themselves; for "all we like sheep have gone astray ... and the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all," Isa. 53:6. The redeemed church will be faultless, because its members will be sanctified and cleansed by the blood of Christ. Such will constitute "a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing ... holy and without blemish," Eph. 5:27. While "the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light" of the New Jerusalem, and shall "bring their glory and honor into it," there "shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life," 21:24-27.
"There awaiteth at the end Such a home, and such a Friend, Such a crown, and such a throne, Such a harp of heavenly tone, Such companions, such employ, Such a world of hallowed joy!"—Bunyan.
The Angel of the Everlasting Gospel.
"And I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting good news to preach to those dwelling on the earth, and to every nation, and tribe, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him who made the heaven, and the earth, and the sea, and fountains of water!"—Rev. 14:6, 7.
The era symbolized by the flight of this angel, has been applied, by different writers to the epoch of the Reformation, to that of modern missions, &c. The view here taken, is that it synchronizes with the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles.
The angel flying through the midst of heaven, doubtless symbolizes a body of men conspicuous for their position, energetic in their movements, extensive in their operations, and urgent in their proclamation,—whose teachings correspond with this announcement of the angel.
The message they bear is that of the everlasting gospel ευαγγελιον, (evangelion)—which is, literally, the good news, the glad tidings; that which brings "life and immortality to light," 2 Tim. 1:10. It is a message which foreshadows the resurrection and coming judgment at Christ's appearing; and is therefore called "the gospel of the kingdom," (Matt. 4:23);—the good news of the glorious kingdom of the Son of God.
It is the preaching of the everlasting gospel which is thus symbolized. It is no new gospel; for, "the Scripture foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham,—saying: In thee shall all nations be blessed," Gal. 3:8. And not Abraham alone, but all the fathers "did eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that rock was Christ," 1 Cor. 10:3, 4. Of this gospel the Jewish nation and a few proselytes, were for ages the sole recipients. "Unto them were committed the oracles of God." Rom. 3:2. To them pertained "the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises," Rom. 9:4. But the time had been foretold when the Gentiles should come to their light, and kings to the brightness of their rising, Isa. 60:3.
With the coming of Christ, and his rejection of that nation, the gospel, was no longer to be confined within its former narrow limits. The Savior said to his disciples: "Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world," Matt. 28:19, 20. "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned," Mark 16:15, 16. "Then opened he their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures, and he said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem," Luke 24:45-47.
The fulfilment of those predictions and commands could not be more beautifully and appropriately symbolized, than by an angel flying "in the midst of heaven having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people." It could be no other gospel: for Paul testified: "Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed," Gal. 1:8, 9.
In accordance with the divine command, to preach the gospel to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem, the apostles began their mission; and when the Jews rejected their message, they turned to the Gentiles, and went everywhere preaching the word "according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith," Rom. 16:25, 26.
The first converts to the faith, comprised "Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians," Acts 2:9-12. When the Jews contradicted and blasphemed, "Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles," Acts 13:46. Afterwards Paul, in writing to the Colossians, refers to the gospel as that "which was preached to every creature which is under heaven," Col. 1:23.
This gospel was to be preached to those who dwell on the earth, and also to all nations. The symbolic earth of the Apocalypse, being generally admitted to be the Roman empire under a quiet government, its fulfilment would require an early introduction of the gospel there. Accordingly we find, within thirty years after the crucifixion of Christ, a flourishing church existing in the metropolis of the Roman empire, to which Paul addressed one of his most able letters. In it, he thanks God that their "faith is spoken of throughout all the world," Rom. 1:8. The apostle had then "fully preached the gospel of Christ" from Jerusalem "round about [the coast of the Mediterranean] unto Illyricum," (Rom. 16:19);—a country on the Adriatic, or Gulf of Venice. He afterwards visited Rome, and is supposed to have preached the gospel as far west as Spain. The apostles spread Christianity throughout the Roman empire. Palestine, Syria, Natolia, Greece, the islands of the Mediterranean, Italy, and the northern coast of Africa, contained societies of Christians in the first century. In the second century societies existed, and Christ was worshipped, among the Germans, Spaniards, French, Celts, and Britons, and many other nations in Europe, and almost throughout the whole east. In the fourth century Christianity had become the prevailing religion of the empire.
In later times the gospel which began to be preached at Jerusalem, has been extended to more distant countries, and is still finding its way to every tribe and people that have not before heard its joyful sound. Thus has the light of the gospel nearly encircled the globe, having been, in one age or another, proclaimed in every known country—fulfilling the words of the Saviour: "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come," Matt. 24:14. "And the gospel must first be published among all nations," Mark 13:10. It would not follow from these predictions that it must be preached at the same time to all nations, any more than the light of day shines on all parts of the earth at once: but all must have been illumined by it before the end.
In accordance with this view, those who are finally redeemed to God "out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation" (5:9), are those who will "have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (7:14), in consequence of this universal extension of the gospel.
The command to fear and give glory to God, and to worship the Creator of all things implies that it was to be proclaimed to worshippers of false gods, and was not a mere proclamation addressed to actual Christians. The Gentiles to whom the apostles preached were actual worshippers of such, and needed to be taught the worship of the true God. While Paul was at Athens, his spirit was stirred within him when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. "Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is the Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands," Acts 17:22-24. "Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led," 1 Cor. 12:2. "For they themselves show us of what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God: and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come," 1 Thess. 1:9, 10.
The great motive, to be held forth to induce men to turn from the worship of idols to that of God, was the certainty of the approaching judgment. In accordance with this, the apostles make constant references to it. The Corinthians are exhorted to "come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ," 1 Cor. 1:7, 8. As Paul "reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled," Acts 24:25. He said to the impenitent Romans, that they were "treasuring up to themselves wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God," Rom. 2:5. The first things which were presented in all their teachings were "the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment," Heb. 6:1, 2. Thus "Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints," Jude 14, 15.
As Christ was to judge the world "at his appearing and kingdom" (2 Tim. 4:1), a reference to his coming always involved a consideration of the hour of his judgment; and his appearing was a great incentive to holiness. "For our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ," Phil. 3:20. And "when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory," Col. 3:4. "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?" 1 Thess. 2:19. "To the end he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints," Ib. 3:13. "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord," Ib. 4:14-17. "And to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ," 2 Thess. 1:7, 8.
Not only the apostles, but their successors, in succeeding ages, have constantly made reference to the judgment, as the motive to holiness. Beginning in the days of the apostles, the same gospel has been continued by a succession of men to the present time; and those who are now preaching, or who support those who so preach the everlasting gospel, in connection with the warning of approaching judgment, must be regarded as belonging to the same body of men symbolized by the angel flying in the midst of heaven.
Commencing in the apostolic age, sections of the globe were evangelized—in Asia and Africa, that have never received the gospel since, either under the reformers or by modern missionaries. But beginning with the dispensation of the gospel to the Gentiles, its fulfilment is found in China, in Tartary, in Japan, in Egypt, and Ethiopia, and in lands so remote that no one can say it has not been almost universally promulgated.
The Angel announcing the Fall of Babylon.
"And another angel, a second, followed, saying, She is fallen! Babylon the great is fallen! She made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication!"—Rev. 14:8.
This angel, like the former, must symbolize a body of religious teachers. The former resulted in the spread of Christianity. This announces the fall of a corrupt hierarchy.
Babylon being regarded as a symbol of the Roman church, her fall must be understood to be her loss of power, as mistress of the kings of the earth; and synchronizes with her displacement from her position on the beast, as symbolized in the 17th chapter. The epoch of her fall, and consequently of the flight of this angel, is that of the Reformation, when the corruptions of the Papal See were first exposed, and it was denounced as the Apocalyptic harlot. The argument for this application is given in the exposition of Rev. 18:1, which is a repetition of the symbol here given, p. 300.
The Wrath-denouncing Angel.
"And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any one worship the wild beast and his image, and receive his mark on his forehead, or on his hand, even he will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out unmingled into the cup of his wrath; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascendeth for ever and ever: and they have no rest day or night, who worship the wild beast and his image, and whoever receiveth the mark of his name!"—Rev. 14:9-11.
The cry of this angel synchronizes with the "voice from heaven" (18:4), and follows the discovery of the corruptions of Romanism.—See the exposition of that Scripture, p. 307.
The worship of the beast consisted in a regard for it, equivalent to saying, "Who is like unto the beast? and, Who is able to make war with him?" 13:4. To worship, is to manifest homage and respect. To worship any inferior object, is to bestow on it the confidence and affection which is due only to God. It is to trust in it, as invincible, able to protect, and infallible in judgment. Thus to regard any civil or ecclesiastical organization, is to substitute it for Him, by whom the powers that be are ordained (Rom. 13:1), who giveth the kingdom to whomsoever he will (Dan. 4:17), and by whom alone, kings reign, and princes decree justice, Prov. 8:15.
Whenever any civil or ecclesiastical enactment conflicts with the requisitions of Jehovah, that power is worshipped, which is obeyed in preference to the other: "Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are whom ye obey?" Rom. 6:16. The worship of God is incompatible with obedience to any power which compels a violation of His laws. Due obedience to government is commanded, when no question of conscience is involved. When it is, no forcible resistance to the execution of the law is permitted; but while God is obeyed, the penalty of the law is to be meekly endured.
The early Christians chose death, rather than to deny their Saviour at the command of Jewish Sanhedrim or Roman emperor. When Peter and John were commanded "not to speak at all, nor teach in the name of Jesus," their answer was, "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye; for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard," Acts 4:19, 20. In like manner, the Christians living at the epoch of this angel, were to be similarly tried, which is implied in the command, not to worship.
So soon as the reformers were placed in direct conflict with the Church of Rome, her anathemas were hurled against all who assented not to her mummeries. And the power of the civil arm was also brought into exercise to compel obedience to her commands. Those who maintained their integrity, did so in opposition to the requirements of the church and state; while those who submitted to the state as invincible, or to the church as infallible, extended to the beast or its image that homage and regard which was due to God. They thus acknowledged themselves the servants of him whom they obeyed, and subjected themselves to the wrath of God.
The smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever, and they have no rest, day nor night, who worship the beast and his image. While the righteous enter into rest, the wicked are like the troubled sea which cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt, Isa. 57:20.
The Harvest of the Earth.
"Here is the patience of the saints: here are those who keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, Write, Happy the dead who die in the Lord, from henceforth! Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their toils; and their works go with them. And I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and one was seated on the cloud like the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him seated on the cloud, Thrust forth thy sickle and reap: for the hour is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he, who sat on the cloud, cast his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped."—Rev. 14:12-16.
The announcement that here are they who keep the commandments of God, implies that, at the epoch symbolized, they are to be the subjects of special notice. By the voice from heaven, they are shown to include all of the dead who have died in the Lord; and their being blessed from thenceforth, indicates that they will at that epoch enter upon their eternal reward.
The "rest" of the righteous, is at the advent of Christ:—"To you who are troubled, rest with us when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven," 2 Thess. 1:6. "There remaineth a rest for the people of God," Heb. 4:9.
On hearing the voice from heaven, the revelator looked, and beheld on a cloud "one like the Son of man." In Ezek. 1:26, "the likeness as the appearance of a man," upon "the likeness of the throne," is explained to be "the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord." In Dan. 7:13, "one like the Son of man," who comes to the Ancient of days, is evidently a symbol of Christ. In Rev. 1:13, "one like unto the Son of man," is the one who was alive, was dead, and is alive forevermore. The same symbol repeated, must here also be a representative of Christ.
His position on a cloud, indicates the arrival of the period when he is to be manifested in mid-heaven: "Behold he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him," 1:7. "One like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him," Dan. 7:13, 14. "And they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels, with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other," Matt. 24:30, 31.
The epoch of this manifestation, according to the above, is that of the last trump, the second advent, and the first resurrection. "At the last trump ... the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed," 1 Cor. 15:52. "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air," 1 Thess. 4:16, 17.
His "golden crown" indicates that he is now to take to himself his great power, and to reign, "when the kingdoms of this world become our Lord's and his Christ's," 11:15, 17. Crowns are symbols of sovereignty. As such, they respectively denoted the periods, when the forms of government, symbolized by the heads of the beast (12:3) and its horns (13:1), bore rule. Now the diadem is to be transferred from them, to encircle the brow of earth's rightful Sovereign.
The sharp sickle in his hand, indicates that the time of harvest has arrived; and the act of reaping, the gathering of the harvest. There are two gatherings symbolized, corresponding to the two classes of persons who are to be gathered. "The dead in Christ shall rise first," and will be "caught up to meet the Lord in the air," before the wicked are gathered, 1 Thess. 4:16, 17. "I will come again, and receive you unto myself," said the Saviour, John 14:5. The Lord of the harvest directs its gathering, but effects it by the instrumentality of angels: "He shall send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth, to the uttermost part of heaven," Mark 13:27. When thus gathered, they are caught up to meet the Lord in the air, where the Lord of the harvest sits. This is the separation of the righteous and wicked, who were to "grow together till the harvest," which, says the Saviour, "is the end of the world," Matt. 13:39.
Mr. Lord suggests, that it is inconsistent with the dignity of Christ, to be notified by an angel when to begin his work; and therefore dissents from the application of the symbol to him. It may not, however, be necessary to consider the cry of the angel, as one of command. The angel may be a messenger from the Ancient of days, announcing the epoch of the resurrection. Or he may symbolize a body of men, who will be ardently praying for the return of the nobleman to take his kingdom.
The harvest is spoken of in distinction from the gathering of the vine, and in contrast with it. Men harvest what they prize,—their grain and fruits. They do not harvest briers and thorns. They cut or reap both; but the act of reaping is not expressive of the destiny of what is reaped. This is indicated by the disposition made, and the terms applied; the one is gathered into the garner of the Lord; but the other is given to the consuming fire.
The righteous being caught up to meet the Lord at his coming, the destruction of the wicked, which must precede the regeneration of the earth and descent of the saints, is next symbolized.
The Reaping of the Vine.
"And another angel came out of the temple in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over the fire, and called with a loud shout to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and cut off the clusters of the vine of the earth; for its grapes are ripe. And the angel cast in his sickle into the earth, and cut off the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great wine-press of the wrath of God. And the wine-press was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the wine-press, even to the bridles of the horses, for the distance of one thousand six hundred furlongs."—Rev. 14:17-20.
The wicked also are gathered by the instrumentality of angels: said the Saviour, "As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth," Matt. 13:40-42. In the parable of the tares, the Saviour said, "Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn." Thus the tares were to be gathered first—not before the righteous are gathered, but before the wheat is placed in the garner: the new earth being the garner where the righteous are finally to be gathered, they cannot be placed there till the wicked have been gathered out. "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear," Matt. 13:30, 43.
The disposition of the vine, its being trodden down, and the great presence of blood flowing, symbolize the awful judgments to overtake the wicked, after the escape of the righteous, when they are gathered into bundles and burned. Thus Isaiah prophesied: "Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the wine-vat? I have trodden the wine-press alone: and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury, and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in my heart, and the year of my redeemed is come," Isa. 63:1-4.
Before the destruction of the old world by the deluge, Noah was secure in the ark. Before the destruction of Sodom, Lot is removed to a place of safety. So before the destruction of the vine of the earth, the righteous are caught up to the Lord in the air, where they are symbolized, in the following chapter, as:
The Victors on the Sea of Glass.
"And I saw another sign in heaven, great and wonderful, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for by these, the wrath of God is completed. And I saw as it were a transparent sea mingled with fire; and those who had obtained the victory over the wild beast, and over his image, and over the number of his name, standing on the transparent sea, having harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and wonderful are thy works, O Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, king of nations! Who should not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy; for all nations will come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are manifested." Rev. 15:1-4.
This appears to close the vision commencing with the sixth verse of the 14th chapter, and to be independent of the remaining portion of the 15th chapter.
These "seven angels," in the subsequent vision, discharge the contents of the vials of God's wrath; but the epoch here presented is evidently subsequent to that fulfilment; for the imitation of the "Song of Moses," must follow the infliction of the judgments which call forth that song of rejoicing. They had here completed the wrath of God, the manner of which act is subsequently shown in a separate vision.
The "sea of glass," must represent an elevation above the earth. For those stationed there had gotten the victory over the beast and his image, had escaped the wrath to be poured on those who worshipped those powers (14:9), had been gathered when the harvest of the earth was reaped (14:16), being then caught up to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4:17), and now, the clusters of the vine of the earth having been gathered and cast into the wine-press of the wrath of God (14:19), they rejoice above the fires of earth, witnesses of the manifestations of God's judgments. They have come out of all their tribulations, and evidently synchronize with the palm-bearing multitude (Rev. 7:9), the hundred and forty-four thousand on Mount Zion (14:1), and the multitude in heaven who sing Alleluia over the judgment of the great harlot, 19:1.
"The song of Moses," was that sung by the Israelites when the Egyptians had perished in the waters of the Red Sea, and they were safely encamped on its further shore. The Lord had triumphed gloriously over the enemies of Israel, had buried the horse and his rider in the sea, and was about to plant his people in the mountain of his inheritance,—in the place which he had made for them to dwell in,—in the sanctuary which he had established, Ex. 15:1-21. The analogy requires that when this corresponding song is sung, the ransomed of the Lord shall have correspondingly witnessed the overthrow of the adversaries of Jehovah, and shall themselves have escaped from the perils of the many waters which had threatened to engulf them.
The judgments of God being manifested on the nations of the ungodly, there are none remaining, only "the nations of them which are saved," 21:24. As these will all walk in the light of the new Jerusalem, those on the sea of glass may well sing:
"Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints! Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? For thou only art Holy: For all nations shall come and worship before thee; For thy judgments are made manifest."
In accordance with the foregoing view, this synchronizes with the "new song" sung by those who are redeemed from every nation, kindred, tongue and people (5:9), who are afterwards seen standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion, 14:3.
The Angels with the Seven Vials.
"And after this, I looked, and the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened; and the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure white linen, and girded around the breasts with golden girdles. And one of the four living beings gave to the seven angels, seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed." Rev. 15:5-8.
"And I heard a loud voice out of the temple saying, to the seven angels, Depart, and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth." Rev. 16:1.
"The temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven," must symbolize heaven itself. It corresponds with the tabernacle "after the second veil,"—called "the holiest of all," where the tables of the covenant were deposited by the command of Moses, Heb. 9:1-5. There, the "cherubims of glory" over-shadowed the mercy-seat,—a type of the presence-chamber of the Almighty. Consequently, when it is symbolized as being opened in heaven, the angels who come out are divinely commissioned executors of God's purposes.
The "seven angels," are the ministers of the divine vengeance,—the rectitude of their character and the dignity of their office, being symbolized by their "white robes" and "golden girdles."
The period of time symbolized by the pouring out of the vials, must be anterior to the second advent; for in the analogous instances of God's judgments, he visits his enemies with plagues previous to the deliverance of his children. Thus were the ancient Egyptians visited, before the Israelites escaped from their power, Ex. 5-11.
The deliverance of the vials to the angels by one of the four "living creatures," indicates that the intelligences in the divine presence, which are thus symbolized, are cognizant of God's design, and acquiesce in his purpose to visit the subjects of his wrath with these plagues.
By these being called "the vials of God's wrath," we learn that their infliction is not corrective, but judicial;—that they are not agents of mercy, but of vengeance.
The filling of the temple with the smoke of God's glory, to the exclusion of all persons during the pouring out of the vials, shows that during that period, there will be no intercession with God for him to refrain from the execution of the purposes thus symbolized. They are inevitable; and there will be no supplication for their suspension. When Moses had finished the type of the "Holiest of all," a "cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle," Ex. 40:34, 35. It was only when Moses could enter the tabernacle, that he could there commune with God face to face, Ex. 33:9, 11.
The voice from the temple to the seven angels, shows that the acts commanded are the subjects of divine appointment,—the angels simply designating the commencement of the several judgments.
The First Vial.
"And the first went away, and poured out his bowl on the earth; and there came an evil and sore ulcer on the men who had the mark of the beast, and on those worshipping his image." Rev. 16:2.
The "earth," in the Apocalypse, symbolizes a quiet and settled government (13:11), in distinction from one politically agitated, which is symbolized by waters, 13:1; 17:15.
Those who receive the contents of the first vial, being the worshippers of the "beast" and its "image" (13:15), it is certain that the governments on which it is poured, are subservient to the church of Rome and within the boundaries of the ten kingdoms.
The effect of the vial is "a noisome and grievous sore;" and the only things analogous, are mental maladies. Therefore the results symbolized must be noxious principles and opinions, which fill the mind with rancor and hate,—producing strife, alienation and contention.
The epoch here symbolized, in the very unanimous opinion of most judicious writers, corresponds with the commencement of the agitations which preceded the outbreak of the first French revolution, about A. D. 1785. Commencing in France, and extending with more or less virulence throughout the ten kingdoms, there was excited an intense uneasiness of the people respecting their relation to their rulers. They regarded themselves as insupportably oppressed and degraded, and were exasperated to madness against their respective governments. This, under the next vial, resulted in the overthrow of the French monarchy, and in attempted revolutions in other kingdoms.
The Second Vial.
"And the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea; and it became like the blood of a dead person; and every living creature in the sea died." Rev. 16:8.
The first vial having excited political agitations in previously quiet governments, they are now more fitly symbolized by the "sea" than by the "earth." And on such the second vial is poured.
As the sea symbolizes a people agitated and disquieted, the living things in it, must symbolize those who live on and are sustained by the people. Consequently, the waters becoming blood, and the death of the things living in the waters, symbolize the shedding of the blood of the people, and the slaughter, by them, of their rulers and superiors.
The epoch symbolized, would therefore correspond with the actual outbreak of the French revolution, to which the agitations produced by the previous vial had goaded on the excited people. In their riots and insurrections, history records the destruction of large numbers of the populace; and these exterminated the members of the royal family, and all persons of rank and influence. A million of people, according to Alison, perished in the civil war of La Vendee alone; and thousands of the nobility and persons of distinction were ruthlessly slaughtered throughout France, whose rivers were discolored with the blood of the slain.
The Third Vial.
"And the third poured out his bowl on the rivers and on the fountains of waters; and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Thou, who art, and wast holy, because thou hast inflicted these judgments; for they have poured out the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink: they are worthy! And I heard one from the altar, saying, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments!" Rev. 16:4-7.
Mr. Lord justly remarks that "Rivers and fountains of waters, are to a sea, what smaller exterior communities and nations are to a great central people." As the French nation was the sea, the "rivers and fountains" symbolize contiguous or more remote communities surrounding it. These are said to have become blood, without its being specified that the living things in them perished, as in the sea. Accordingly, while the greater portion of Europe continued, with little interruption, for twenty years from 1792, to be deluged with war and bloodshed, the nobles and rulers of the other nations were not exterminated, as in France.
The nations thus overwhelmed with blood, were those which had sanctioned the shedding of the blood of the saints; consequently their retribution was just.
The Fourth Vial.
"And the fourth angel poured out his vial on the sun; and it was given him to burn men with fire. And men were burned with great heat, and reviled the name of God, who had power over these plagues; and they repented not to give him glory." Rev. 16:8, 9.
The influence of the sun on the earth and sea, is analogous to that of a government on the subjects of its rule. As the right degree of light and heat is conducive to vegetation, and the excessive action of the sun's rays will scorch and destroy; so a genial government is a blessing to the people, while its arbitrary and tyrannical acts are often insupportably oppressive.
With the overthrow of the French monarchy under the second vial, there arose new rulers in France, who usurped despotic powers, and subjected the governed to most oppressive exactions. The rich were impoverished, the nation was robbed, the business of the country was paralyzed, the obnoxious were slain, every species of misery and wickedness abounded, the males were subjected to military conscription, and hundreds of thousands of them were sent to subjugate surrounding nations. The countries they invaded were also devastated, and oppressed, and robbed by impoverishing taxations. These continued, though in a milder form, under the imperial rule, and all parts of the Roman earth felt the scorching effects of the devouring heat of French usurpation. But when Napoleon passed beyond the boundaries of the Roman empire, he was met and driven back by the snow and frost of the Almighty.
Notwithstanding the oppressions to which the people were subjected, and the exactions under which they groaned, they made no recognition of God's sovereignty. They saw not that this chastisement was from Him. They did not deprecate his wrath, nor acknowledge his righteousness, but still continued to be infidels and apostates. They continued to blaspheme the name of God, who had power over these plagues, and repented not to give him glory.
The Fifth Vial.
"And the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the wild beast; and his kingdom was darkened; and they gnawed their tongues through pain, and reviled the God of heaven, because of their pains and their ulcers, and repented not of their deeds" Rev. 16:10, 11.
The beast, here spoken of, is the same seven-headed, ten-horned wild beast that ascended out of the sea (Rev. 13:1), symbolizing the Roman empire in its divided form. Consequently the seat or throne of the beast would be the ruling power which exercised and controlled the government of these kingdoms. Just previous to this epoch, Napoleon had reached the summit of his power; and the subversion of his throne, with the restoration of the Bourbon dynasty in 1814 and 1815, is evidently here symbolized. Napoleon had become the idol of France, which worshipped at the shrine of his glory. With his fall, their sun was stricken from its firmament, and the kingdom was darkened.
The change being effected by foreign arms, the chagrin and mortification of his adherents was natural and expected. They were filled with pain and anguish at this termination of all their hopes. The re-imposition on them of the Bourbon line, revived all their former hatred towards their rulers and sense of oppression, symbolized by the ulcers of the first vial. They continued still a nation of infidels, performing the same works of blasphemy against God; and again and again have they risen in rebellion against their government.
The Sixth Vial.
"And the sixth poured out his bowl on the great river, the Euphrates; and its water was dried up, that the way of the kings from the rising of the sun might be prepared." Rev. 16:12.
This symbol resembles a like prediction respecting ancient Babylon: "A drought is upon her waters, and they shall be dried up," (Jer. 50:38); and "I will dry up her sea, and make her springs dry," Jer. 51:36. Ancient Babylon was situated on the river Euphrates, which contributed to the wealth and greatness of the city, and was a means of its defence. The kings of Media and Persia, from the east of Babylon, subjugated it by diverting from the city the waters of the river, and entering by its unprotected bed. The turning of the waters into other channels, fulfilled the prediction that it should be dried up.
Waters, when used as a symbol, are explained to be "peoples, nations," &c., Rev. 17:15. In the 17th chapter of the Apocalypse, the angel informs the revelator that he will show him "the judgment of the great harlot who sitteth on many waters," (17:1); which implies that he had already seen a vision to that effect. He is then shown a woman on a scarlet-colored beast (v. 3), who is spoken of as sitting "on many waters" (v. 1), and on seven mountains (v. 10), and who is affirmed to be the "great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth," v. 18. Under the seventh vial, the "great city," which is "great Babylon," is divided into three parts (16:19); and the inference is, that the harlot and ancient Babylon are analogous symbols of the same organized agency; and, that the city was here exhibited on the great river Euphrates.
As a woman clothed with sunbeams and crowned with stars (Rev. 12:1), and a city illuminated with the glory of God (Rev. 21:10), are each symbols of the true church, corresponding symbols of opposite moral characteristics are appropriate representatives of a corrupt and apostate church. As Jerusalem was the seat of the ancient church, so was Babylon the seat of her oppressors. The former is addressed as a woman, and told to put on her "beautiful garments," (Isa. 52:1); and Babylon is called the "daughter of the Chaldeans," and "the lady of kingdoms," (Isa. 47:5): so that a woman, and a city of corresponding character, may, interchangeably, symbolize the same object. Consequently, the "Babylon," and the "harlot" of the Apocalypse, both symbolize the corrupt Roman hierarchy.
Ancient Babylon is described as a harlot, and is addressed as one who "dwellest upon many waters, abundant in treasures," (Jer. 51:13); whose end was to come by her waters being dried up, 51:36. That city sustained a relation to the waters on which it was situated, analogous to that held by the Roman Catholic church to the people who support and defend her pretensions. Their alienation and withdrawal from her support, must therefore be symbolized by the drying up of the great river Euphrates, which becomes diverted into other channels. This is now apparently being fulfilled in the marked alienation of feeling from the church of Rome, which is evident throughout the ten kingdoms. During the last twenty years, the hold of that community on the affection of her supporters in Europe, has been constantly becoming weaker and weaker. Infidel principles have been extensively propagated. Her cathedrals have been comparatively deserted; and her existence has been endured more as a matter of expediency than of affection. At the present moment, probably, the mass of the people have little confidence in her pretensions; but it will require a more marked withdrawal from her support than has yet been witnessed, to fulfil, in all its significance, the meaning conveyed in the symbol.
The "kings of the east," whose way is to be thus prepared, are doubtless her enemies, who, having produced the desired alienation from her support, will take advantage of her defenceless position, and hasten her ruin; as the kings of Media and Persia, in like manner, subjugated old Babylon.
Under the operation of the sixth vial, and, according to the fulfilment of the preceding symbols, corresponding with the present time, are to be developed:
The Unclean Spirits.
"And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the wild beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, that go forth to the kings of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty." Rev. 16:13, 14.
The "dragon," "beast," and "false prophet," being regarded as symbols: the first, of the Roman empire previous to its subversion by the northern barbarians; the second of the ten kingdoms which subsequently arose; and the third, of the eastern Roman empire—now the Mohamedan power; the mouths of each, from which the frog-like spirits emerge, are next to be considered.
To the wild beast was given "a mouth, speaking great things and blasphemies," the power of which was "to continue forty and two months," Rev. 13:5. The agreement of this with the corresponding appendages of Daniel's "little horn" (Dan. 7:8), makes it evident that a "mouth" is a symbol of an ecclesiastical organization existing in a political one,—that it symbolizes the agency by which the people are taught, and is representative of ecclesiastics, who are the mouthpiece of the nation in all matters of faith and worship, p. 172.
The religion of Rome imperial, when symbolized by the dragon, was Paganism; that of the ten kingdoms, was the Papacy; and that of the eastern empire, is Mohammedanism. From these three, then, emerge the "unclean spirits." Diverse as their origin appears, they have no marked individual peculiarities. Being alike in their characteristics, they must symbolize some common agency:—a combination of religious teachers, whose views harmonize in a system of belief common to Paganism, Catholicism, and Mohammedanism.
The character of these teachers, is shown by the declaration that "they are the spirits of devils working miracles."
There are two words rendered devils in the New Testament, viz.: δαιμονιον (daimonion) or δαιμων (daimoon), and διαβολος (diabolus). The latter signifies the Devil, or Satan, who is the same as Beelzebub the prince of the demons, Matt. 12:25. He it was by whom Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, (Matt. 4:1-11); who sowed the tares in the field, (Matt, 13:39); and for whom, with his angels, the final punishment for the wicked is prepared, Matt. 25:41.
The word here, is daimoon. It is used, in different forms, sixty-five times by our Lord and his apostles; and on no occasion do they hint that they use the word in a sense different from its then accepted signification; to learn which, recourse must be had to the testimony of the Pagan, Jewish, and Christian writers of those times.(6)
HESIOD taught that, "The spirits of departed mortals become demons when separated from their earthly bodies;" and PLUTARCH, that "The demons of the Greeks were the ghosts and genii of departed men." "All Pagan antiquity affirms," says Dr. CAMPBELL, "that from Titan and Saturn, the poetic progeny of Coelus and Terra, down to AEsculapius, Proteus, and Minos, all their divinities were the ghosts of dead men; and were so regarded by the most erudite of the Pagans themselves."
Among the Pagans, the term demon, as often represented a good as an evil spirit; but among the Jews, it generally, if not universally, denoted an unclean, malign, or wicked spirit. Thus JOSEPHUS says: "Demons are the spirits of wicked men." PHILO says that "The souls of dead men are called demons." "The notion," says Dr. LARDNER, "of demons, or the souls of dead men, having power over living men, was universally prevalent among the heathen of these times [the first two centuries], and believed by many Christians." JUSTIN MARTYR speaks of "those who are seized by the souls of the dead, whom we call demons and madmen." Ignatius quotes the words of Christ to Peter thus: "Handle me and see; for I am not a daimoon asomaton,—a disembodied demon,"—i.e. a spirit without a body.
The foregoing is evidence of the New Testament signification of the word daimoon, here improperly rendered devils,—spirits of which, the frog-like agencies are affirmed to be.
Demon worship is a characteristic of the three religions referred to. As already shown, all Pagans regarded their gods as the ghosts of dead men; and the Bible speaks of them as devils, i.e. demons. Moses says of them, "Even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods," (Deut. 12:31); while the Psalmist affirms that "they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils," Ps. 106:37. "They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up," Deut. 32:17. Jeroboam "ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils," 2 Chron. 11:15. "The things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils; ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils,"—i.e. of demons.
Of the same kind are the gods of the heathen now. In the Youth's Day-Spring, for June, a missionary describing the alarm and grief of the Africans on the Gaboon river, at the near prospect of a death in their village, says: "The room was filled with women, who were weeping in the most piteous manner, and calling on the spirits of their fathers and of others who were dead, and upon all spirits in whom they believe, Ologo, Njembi, Abambo, and Mbwini, to save the man from death. These spirits could not help them, but they knew of none mightier, and so called on them." Mr. White, a Wesleyan missionary, says: "There is a class of people in New Zealand, called Eruku, or priests. These men pretend to have intercourse with departed spirits, ... by which they are able to kill by incantation any person on whom their anger may fall." The Sandwich Islanders, when they found that Christians supposed they worshipped the images of their gods, were much amused, and said "We are not such fools." They used the idol as an aid to fix their minds on their divinity. Some of them supposed their divinity was a spirit residing in their idol.
The Mohammedans, while they recognize God, are also "taught by the Koran to believe the existence of an intermediate order of creatures, which they call Jin, or genii;" some of which are supposed to be good and others bad, and capable of communicating with men, and rewarding or punishing them. The 72d chapter of the Koran consists of a pretended communication from the genii to Mohammed. They are made to say: "There are some among us who are upright, and there are some among us who are otherwise;" and speaking of men: "If they tread in the way of truth, we will surely water them with abundance of rain," i.e. will grant them plenty of good things. Thus they are recognized as dispensers of good. They bear a striking resemblance to the spirits which now pretend to communicate with men! All who are familiar with Arabian romances know how frequently genii, fairies, &c., figure as agents in the execution of wonderful exploits.