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ers, and even themselves, with emblems figurative of the objects of their veneration. These marks, consisting frequently of letters or numbers, having sometimes a literal and sometimes an enigmatical meaning, were impressed on the right hand or the forehead.1 In the instance under consideration, the expression may have been used, according to scriptural custom, figuratively, not literally. Under the Mahometan oppression indeed, there was literally a mark of oppressive distinction between Christians and their favoured fellow-subjects, in the colour of their turban or girdle ; nor were the former permitted to ride on horses or even mules, but on asses only, and in the attitude of women. And if the papal power has not inflicted generally such literal mark of distinction on those estranged from her worship, it may be observed, that her marks, in a figurative sense, are constantly applied to her servants. They are called catholics, in contradistinction to heretics; and the tests of the mass, and of baptism, by Romish priests, together with five more ceremonies pronounced sacramental, stamp them of the class to which they belong. One of these, extreme unction, they are supposed to carry with them through the grave, as a passport to the gate of heaven.
But it is most to our present purpose to observe, that the interdiction from the natural privilege of
1 These badges of servitude are of great antiquity. There is allusion to them in Exod. xiii. 9, and Deut. vi. 8. Such a mark was inflicted on the conquered Jews by Ptolemy Philadelphus, (Maccabees.) Irenæus relates, that the Gnostics were accustomed to mark their disciples. The believers in Mahomet, and the infidels, are to be marked respectively, previously to their appearance at the last day. (Sale’s Koran, p. 105.) In Hindostan, some casts continue to be marked in the forehead.— Voyage of F. Paolino da San Bartolomeo.
2 Gibbon, Hist. Decline and Fall, chap. li.
buying and selling, has been literally enforced by the Church of Rome, upon those whom she has denounced heretics, and at those times when she found herself able to support such odious edicts. The council of Lateran, under Pope Alexander III.; the synod of Tours, under the same Pope; and the bull of Pope Martin V. after the council of Constance; and many of the edicts against the Waldenses of Piemont, are instances of the fulfilment of this part of the prophecy. Most of these documents are appealed to by Usher, Mede, Vitringa, Daubuz, &c. and are given in an abstracted form by Bishop Newton. 1
It appears then that the image was erected as the representative of that tyrannical power which, under the type of the first, or ten-horned beast, had persecuted the people of God under the Old Testament, and the primitive Christians under the gospel dispensation. It has been shown also, that this power so directed, seemed to be extinct, in this its persecuting character, under Constantine the Great, and his Christian successors; but that nevertheless, it gradually re-appeared. It did not re-appear altogether in its primitive shape, as the first wild beast, but in a new form and representation, namely the image. For, though the likeness to the original was strongly marked and preserved, yet the manner in which it was made, with the addition of some materials, occasioned an accession of character. It was devised by the ecclesiastical power, which sought
1 These enormities took place principally in the twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, when papal encroachments were at their greatest extent. Bishop Taylor, in his valuable work on the liberty of prophesying, has shown the difficulty of supporting such attempts on the natural liberty of man. See also Mosheim s Eccl. Hist. cent. xiii.; and Jortin's Remarks on Eccl. Hist. vol. v. 72, 138, &c. &c.
and obtained an union with the secular authorities; and the people, professed Christians, were seduced and deluded by false miracles to erect and worship it.
Added to these was another advantage in the times, succeeding to those of the three first centuries, which made the image of the beast more successful in opposing the growth of pure Christianity than his persecuting prototype had been. The Christian world, no longer united by their common sufferings under persecution, divided into sects, and forgetful of Christian unity and forbearance, made their appeal to the sword, in support of their conflicting heresies. The crime at this period most prevalent among the Christians, was that of forsaking the pure word of God for the inventions of men, as aptly described by the prophet; My people have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns, broken cisterns, which can hold no water." (Jer. ii. 13.) “The quibbling philosophy of Greece, mixed with the Eastern, and these with Christian nations, begat that spirit of controversial accuracy and dogmatism, which divided Christianity into a thousand sects, and prepared the way for the Mahometan and papal superstitions.” They might have been aptly addressed in the language of St. Paul, “ O foolish Galatians ! who hath bewitched you? are ye so foolish, having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect in the flesh ? Stand fast in the liberty, wherewith Christ has made us free ; and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” (Gal. iii. 143, v. 1.) Here was a lesson recorded in the Scriptures, and calculated to restrain the steps of the heretical, had they been disposed to give au
1 See Sale's Koran; preliminary discourse, pp. 42, 44, 45, 51 ; Sir William Jones, in the Asiatic Researches, vol. i; Ricaut's Ottoman Empire; Prideaux pref. to Life of Mahomet,
dience to it. They sinned in disregarding it; and from inflamed passions or cold indifference to true religion, became the vile, instruments of Satan's agents, and proceeded to sanctify and idolise tyrannical usurpations and contemptible superstitions, in opposition to Christian freedom, purity, and peace.
Taking advantage of this turbid and degenerate state of the Church, Mahomet and the popes established their respective apostasies ;' and thus from the combination of the dragon, or ancient serpent, with the first and second wild beasts, or secular and hierarchal powers, arose that spiritual and temporal despotism, which, under the emblem of the image, has inflicted so much calamity on the Christian world.
THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST.
The consideration of this article has been kept back, and assigned to this its present place, because I felt it out of my power to pursue it with the same hope of success as those that have gone before. For I must still confess, as I did in my former work, my inability to solve this enigma. However, for the use of those students who may be inclined to enter upon this investigation, a few preliminary observations may be serviceable.
18. wdę 'n oopla kotiv.] The word wdę, is applied in a similar sense and reference in ch. xiii. 10; xiv. 12. And copia is used in some passages of Scripture to express that gift of the Holy Spirit, which conveys a more perfect understanding of the mysteries of the gospel. In particular, δωη υμιν (ο θεος) πνευμα σοφιας Kai apokalubraç. (Eph. i. 18.) Hence we may collect, not only that we are invited by the present passage to interest ourselves in the development of the mystery contained in it, but also encouraged by other passages to attempt it.
1 Apertus hic, opertus ille, duo maxima antiqui serpentis organa, quibus usus est in labefactandis Ecclesiis Apostolorum operâ fundatis. Usher. de ecclesiarum successione, p. 18.
The object of investigation is “ the number of the beast,” by the means of calculation. Ynpos calcu
Ψηφος lus, lapillus ; and thus ynpitw, signifies to count, calculate, or sum up. Ψηφιζει την δαπανην, (Luke xiv. 28.) where knowledge of the expenditure is sought for by such computation.
The beast, whose number is to be sought, is, as we have shown before, the first beast, whose image is the object of idolatrous worship. And his number seems to be either identified, or nearly connected with his mark (to xapayua); and his name, (ver. 17.) This connexion will be seen more clearly by referring to ch. xiv. 11; where the severest punishments are inflicted upon
“ those who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
Again, ch. xv. 2, where the faithful servants of Christ are described as having gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark,' and over the number of his name.'
In none of these similar passages is there any mention of the second beast or false prophet, and consequently, they who have sought an explanation of the enigma, by attributing the mysterious number to him, have been led into error.
With respect to the methods of interpretation hitherto employed, the first instance that occurs is
1 Observe, in this verse, that the first n, (or,) which appears in the received translation, is not to be found in the best MSS., and is expunged by Griesbach.
? The xapayua, or mark, appears to be the name of the beast, expressed in Greek letters, as used either in their literal or numerical acceptation.