Revelation of John 17

CHAPTER XVII.

The judgment of the great whore, which sits on many waters,

1, 2.

Her description, name, and conduct, 3-6.

The angel explains the mystery of the woman, of the beast, &c.,

7-18.

This chapter is, on several accounts, very important, and

particularly as it appears to explain several of the most

remarkable symbols in the book. The same author who has written so

largely on the twelfth and thirteenth chapters, has also obliged

me with his interpretation of this chapter. Not pretending to

explain these things myself, I insert this as the most elaborate

and learned exposition I have yet seen, leaving my readers at

perfect liberty to reject it, and adopt any other mode of

interpretation which they please. God alone knows all the secrets

of his own wisdom.

NOTES ON CHAP. XVII., BY J. E. C.

Verse 1. And there came one of the seven angels which had the

seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I

will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth

upon many waters] That idolatrous worship is frequently

represented in Scripture under the character of a whore or

whoredom, is evident from numerous passages which it is

unnecessary to quote. See 1Ch 5:25; Eze 16:1-63; 23:1-49, &c.

The woman mentioned here is called a great whore, to denote her

excessive depravity, and the artful nature of her idolatry. She is

also represented as sitting upon many waters, to show the vast

extent of her influence. See Clarke on Re 17:13.

Verse 2. With whom the kings of the earth have committed

fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk

with the wine of her fornication.] What an awful picture this is

of the state of the religion of the world in subjection to this

whore! Kings have committed spiritual fornication with her, and

their subjects have drunk deep, dreadfully deep, into the doctrine

of her abominable errors.

Verse 3. So he carried me away in the spirit into the

wilderness] This wilderness into which the apostle was carried

is the desolate state of the true Church of Christ, in one of the

wings of the once mighty Roman empire. It was a truly awful sight,

a terrible desert, a waste howling wilderness; for when he came

hither he:-

Saw a woman sit upon a scarlet-coloured beast, full of names of

blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.] No doubt can now be

entertained that this woman is the Latin Church, for she sits upon

the beast with seven heads and ten horns, which has been already

proved to be the Latin empire, because this empire alone contains

the number 666. See Clarke on Re 13:18. This is a representation of

the Latin Church in her highest state of antichristian prosperity, for

she SITS UPON the scarlet coloured beast, a striking emblem of her

complete domination over the secular Latin empire. The state of

the Latin Church from the commencement of the fourteenth century

to the time of the Reformation may be considered that which

corresponds to this prophetic description in the most literal and

extensive sense of the words; for during this period she was at

her highest pitch of worldly grandeur and temporal authority. The

beast is full of names of blasphemy; and it is well known that the

nations, in support of the Latin or Romish Church, have abounded

in blasphemous appellations, and have not blushed to attribute to

themselves and to their Church the most sacred titles, not only

blaspheming by the improper use of sacred names, but even by

applying to its bishop those names which alone belong to God; for

God hath expressly declared that he will not give his glory to

another, neither his praise to graven images.

Verse 4. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour,

and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls, having a

golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her

fornication] This strikingly represents the most pompous and

costly manner in which the Latin Church has held forth to the

nations the rites and ceremonies of its idolatrous and corrupt

worship.

Verse 5. And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery,

Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots, and Abominations of the

Earth.] This inscription being written upon her forehead is

intended to show that she is not ashamed of her doctrines, but

publicly professes and glories in them before the nations: she has

indeed a whore's forehead, she has refused to be ashamed. The

inscription upon her forehead is exactly the portraiture of the

Latin Church. This Church is, as Bishop Newton well expresses it,

A MYSTERY of iniquity. This woman is also called Babylon the

Great; she is the exact antitype of the ancient Babylon in her

idolatry and cruelty, but the ancient city called Babylon is only

a drawing of her in miniature. This is indeed Babylon THE GREAT.

"She affects the style and title of our HOLY MOTHER, the CHURCH;

but she is, in truth, the mother of harlots and abominations of

the earth."

Verse 6. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the

saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw

her, I wondered with great admiration.] How exactly the cruelties

exercised by the Latin Church against all it has denominated

heretics correspond with this description, the reader need not be

informed.

Verse 7. And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou

marvel! I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the

beast that carried her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.]

The apostle was greatly astonished, as well he might be, at the

woman's being drunk with the blood of the saints, when the beast

which carried her abounded with sacred appellations, such as holy,

most holy, most Christian, sacred, most sacred. The angel

undertakes to explain to St. John the vision which had excited in

him so great astonishment; and the explication is of such great

importance, that, had it not been given, the mystery of the dragon

and the beast could never have been satisfactorily explained in

all its particulars. The angel begins with saying:-

Verse 8. The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall

ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition] The beast

is the Latin kingdom; (ηλατινηβασιλεια;) consequently the beast

was, that is, was in existence previously to the time of St. John;

(for Latinus was the first king of the Latins, and Numitor the

last;) is not now, because the Latin nation has ceased long ago to

be an independent power, and is now under the dominion of the

Romans; but shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, that is, the

Latin kingdom, the antichristian power, or that which ascendeth

out of the abyss or bottomless pit, is yet in futurity. But it is

added:-

And they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names there

not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world,

when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.] By

the earth is here meant the Latin world; therefore the meaning is,

that all who dwell in the Latin world shall adhere to the

idolatrous and blasphemous religion of the Latin Church, which is

supported by the Latin empire, except those who abide by the

sacred Scriptures, receiving them as the only rule of faith and

practice. These believe in the true Sacrifice, and keep themselves

unspotted from the corruption that is in the world. But the

inhabitants of the Latin world, under the dominion of the Romish

religion, shall wonder when they behold the beast, or Latin

empire; that is, as Lord Napier remarks, "shall have in great

admiration, reverence, and estimation, this great monarchie." They

shall wonder at it, by considering it the most sacred empire in

the world, that in which God peculiarly delights; but those that

so wonder have not their names written in the book of life, but

are such as prefer councils to Divine revelation, and take their

religion from missals, rituals, and legends, instead of the sacred

oracles: hence they are corrupt and idolatrous, and no idolater

hath inheritance in the kingdom of God. In the preceding part of

the verse the beast is considered in three states, as that which

was, and is not, and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit;

here a fourth is introduced, and yet is. This is added to show

that, though the Latins were subjugated by the Romans,

nevertheless the Romans themselves were Latins; for Romulus the

founder of their monarchy, was a Latin; consequently that

denominated in St. John's days the Roman empire was, in reality,

the Latin kingdom; for the very language of the empire was the

Latin, and the Greek writers, who lived in the time of the Roman

empire, expressly tell us that those formerly called Latins are

now named Romans. The meaning of the whole verse is therefore as

follows: The corrupt part of mankind shall have in great

admiration the Latin empire yet in futurity, which has already

been, but is now extinct, the Romans having conquered it; and yet

is still in being; for, though the Latin nation has been

subjugated, its conquerors are themselves Latins. But it may be

objected against the interpretation here given, that these phrases

are spoken of the beast upon which the apostle saw the woman, or

Latin Church, sit; for the angel says, The beast that THOU SAWEST

was, and is not, &c.; what reference, therefore, can the Latin

empire, which supports the Latin Church, have to the Latin kingdom

which subsisted before St. John's time, or to the Roman empire

which might properly be so denominated! This objection has very

great weight at first sight, and cannot be answered satisfactorily

till the angel's explanation of the heads and horns of the beast

have been examined; therefore it is added:-

Verse 9. Here is the mind which hath wisdom.] It was said

before, Re 13:18,

Here is wisdom. Let him that hath A MIND, or understanding,

(νουν,) count the number of the beast. Wisdom, therefore, here

means a correct view of what is intended by the number 666;

consequently the parallel passage, Here is THE MIND which hath

WISDOM, is a declaration that the number of the beast must first

be understood, before the angel's interpretation of the vision

concerning the whore and the beast can admit of a satisfactory

explanation.

The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman

sitteth.] This verse has been almost universally considered to

allude to the seven hills upon which Rome originally stood. But it

has been objected that modern Rome is not thus situated, and that,

consequently, pagan Rome is intended in the prophecy. This is

certainly a very formidable objection against the generally

received opinion among Protestants, that papal Rome is the city

meant by the woman sitting upon seven mountains. It has been

already shown that the woman here mentioned is an emblem of the

Latin Church in her highest state of antichristian prosperity; and

therefore the city of Rome, seated upon seven mountains, is not at

all designed in the prophecy. In order to understand this

scripture aright, the word mountains must be taken in a figurative

and not a literal sense, as in Re 6:14; 16:20. See also

Isa 2:2, 14; Jer 51:25; Da 2:35, &c.; in which it is

unequivocally the emblem of great and mighty power. The mountains

upon which the woman sitteth must be, therefore, seven great

powers; and as the mountains are heads of the beast, they must be

the seven GREATEST eminences of the Latin world. As no other power

was acknowledged at the head of the Latin empire but that of

Germany, how can it be said that the beast has seven heads? This

question can only be solved by the feudal constitution of the late

Germanic league, the history of which is briefly as follows: At

first kings alone granted fiefs. They granted them to laymen only,

and to such only who were free; and the vassal had no power to

alienate them. Every freeman, and particularly the feudal tenants,

were subject to the obligation of military duty, and appointed to

guard their sovereign's life, member, mind, and right honour. Soon

after, or perhaps a little before, the extinction of the

Carlovingian dynasty in France, by the accession of the Capetian

line, and in Germany by the accession of the house of Saxony,

fiefs, which had been entirely at the disposal of the sovereign,

became hereditary. Even the offices of duke, count, margrave, &c.,

were transmitted in the course of hereditary descent; and not long

after, the right of primogeniture was universally established. The

crown vassals usurped the sovereign property of the land, with

civil and military authority over the inhabitants. The possession

thus usurped they granted out to their immediate tenants; and

these granted them over to others in like manner. Thus the

principal vassals gradually obtained every royal prerogative; they

promulgated laws, exercised the power of life and death, coined

money, fixed the standard of weights and measures, granted

safeguards, entertained a military force, and imposed taxes, with

every right supposed to be annexed to royalty. In their titles

they styled themselves dukes, &c., Dei gratis, by the grace of

God; a prerogative avowedly confined to sovereign power. It was

even admitted that, if the king refused to do the lord justice,

the lord might make war upon him. The tenants, in their turn, made

themselves independent of their vassal lords, by which was

introduced an ulterior state of vassalage. The king was called the

sovereign lord, his immediate vassal was called the suzereign, and

the tenants holding of him were called the arrere vassals. See

Butler's Revolutions of the Germanic Empire, pp. 54-66. Thus the

power of the emperors of Germany, which was so very considerable

in the ninth century, was gradually diminished by the means of the

feudal system; and during the anarchy of the long interregnum,

occasioned by the interference of the popes in the election of the

emperors, (from 1256 to 1273,) the imperial power was reduced

almost to nothing. Rudolph of Hapsburg, the founder of the house

of Austria, was at length elected emperor, because his territories

and influence were so inconsiderable as to excite no jealously in

the German princes, who were willing to preserve the forms of

constitution, the power and vigour of which they had destroyed.

See Robertson's Introduction to his History of Charles V. Before

the dissolution of the empire in 1806, Germany "presented a

complex association of principalities more or less powerful, and

more or less connected with a nominal sovereignty in the emperor,

as its supreme feudal chief." "There were about three hundred

princes of the empire, each sovereign in his own country, who

might enter into alliances, and pursue by all political measures

his own private interest, as other sovereigns do; for if even an

imperial war were declared he might remain neuter, if the safety

of the empire were not at stake. Here then was an empire of a

construction, without exception, the most singular and intricate

that ever appeared in the world; for the emperor was only the

chief of the Germanic confederation." Germany was, therefore,

speaking in the figurative language of Scripture, a country

abounding in hills, or containing an immense number of distinct

principalities. But the different German states (as has been

before observed) did not each possess an equal share of power and

influence; some were more eminent than others. Among them were

also a few which might, with the greatest propriety, be

denominated mountains, or states possessing a very high degree of

political importance. But the seven mountains on which the woman

sits must have their elevations above all the other eminences in

the whole Latin world; consequently, they can be no other than the

SEVEN ELECTORATES of the German empire. These were, indeed,

mountains of vast eminence; for in their sovereigns was vested the

sole poorer of electing the head of the empire. But this was not

all; for besides the power of electing an emperor, the electors

had a right to capitulate with the new head of the empire, to

dictate the conditions on which he was to reign, and to depose him

if he broke those conditions. They actually deposed Adolphus of

Nassau in 1298, and Wenceslaus in 1400. They were sovereign and

independent princes in their respective dominions, had the

privilegium de non appellando illimitatum, that of making war,

coining, and exercising every act of sovereignty; they formed a

separate college in the diet of the empire, and had among

themselves a particular covenant or league called Kur verein; they

had precedence of all the other princes of the empire, and even

ranked with kings. The heads of the beast understood in this way,

is one of the finest emblems of the German constitution which can

possibly be conceived; for as the Roman empire of Germany had the

precedence of all the other monarchies of which the Latin empire

was composed, the seven mountains very fitly denote the seven

PRINCIPAL powers of what has been named the holy Roman empire. And

also, as each electorate, by virtue of its union with the Germanic

body, was more powerful than any other Roman Catholic state of

Europe not so united; so was each electorate, in the most proper

sense of the word, one of the highest elevations in the Latin

world. The time when the seven electorates of the empire were

first instituted is very uncertain. The most probable opinion

appears to be that which places their origin some time in the

thirteenth century. The uncertainty, however, in this respect,

does not in the least weaken the evidence of the mountains being

the seven electorates, but rather confirms it; for, as we have

already observed, the representation of the woman sitting upon the

beast is a figure of the Latin Church in the period of her

greatest authority, spiritual and temporal; this we know did not

take place before the commencement of the fourteenth century, a

period subsequent to the institution of the seven electorates.

Therefore the woman sits upon the seven mountains, or the German

empire in its elective aristocratical state; she is said to sit

upon them, to denote that she has the whole German empire under

her direction and authority, and also that it is her chief support

and strength. Supported by Germany, she is under no apprehension

of being successfully opposed by any other power: she sits upon

the seven mountains, therefore she is higher than the seven

highest eminences of the Latin world; she must therefore have the

secular Latin empire under her complete subjection. But this state

of eminence did not continue above two or three centuries; the

visible declension of the papal power in the fourteenth and

fifteenth centuries, occasioned partly by the removal of the papal

see from Rome to Avignon, and more particularly by the great

schism from 1377 to 1417, though considered one of the remote

causes of the Reformation, was at first the means of merely

transferring the supreme power from the pope to a general council,

while the dominion of the Latin Church remained much the same. At

the council of Constance, March 30, 1415, it was decreed "that the

synod being lawfully assembled in the name of the Holy Ghost,

which constituted the general council, and represented the whole

Catholic Church militant, had its power immediately from Jesus

Christ; and that every person, of whatsoever state or dignity,

EVEN THE POPE HIMSELF is obliged to obey it in what concerns the

faith, the extirpation of schism, and the general reformation of

the Church in its head and members." The council of Basil of 1432

decreed "that every one of whatever dignity or condition, NOT

EXCEPTING THE POPE HIMSELF, who shall refuse to obey the

ordinances and decrees of this general council, or any other,

shall be put under penance, and punished. It is also declared that

the pope has no power to dissolve the general council without the

consent and decree of the assembly." See the third tome of Du

Pin's Ecclesiastical History. But what gave the death blow to the

temporal sovereignty of the Latin Church was the light of the

glorious reformation which first broke out in Germany in 1517, and

in a very few years gained its way, not only over several of the

great principalities in Germany, but was also made the established

religion of other popish countries. Consequently, in the sixteenth

century, the woman no longer sat upon the seven mountains, the

electorates not only having refused to be ruled by her, but some

of them having also despised and abandoned her doctrines. The

changes, therefore, which were made in the seventeenth,

eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, in the number of the

electorates, will not affect in the least the interpretation of

the seven mountains already given. The seven electors were the

archbishops of Mentz, Cologne, and Triers, the count palatine of

the Rhine, the duke of Saxony, the marquis of Brandenburgh, and

the king of Bohemia. But the heads of the beast have a double

signification; for the angel says:-

Verse 10. And there are seven kings] καιβασιλειςεπταεισιν

They are also seven kings. Before, it was said, they are seven

mountains; here, they are also seven kings, which is a

demonstration that kingdoms are not here meant by mountains: and

this is a farther argument that the seven electorates are

represented by seven mountains, for though the sovereigns of these

states ranked with kings, they were not kings: that is to say,

they were not absolute and sole lords of the territories they

possessed, independently of the emperor, for their states formed a

part of the Germanic body. But the seven heads of the beast are

also seven kings, that is to say, the Latin empire has had seven

supreme forms of government; for king is used in the prophetical

writings for any supreme governor of a state or people, as is

evident from De 33:5, where Moses is called a king. Of these

seven kings, or supreme forms of Latin government, the angel

informs St. John:-

Five are fallen, and one is] It is well known that the first

form of Latin government was that of kings, which continued after

the death of Latinus 428 years, till the building of Rome, B.C.

753. After Numitor's decease the Albans or Latins instituted the

form of a republic, and were governed by dictators. We have only

the names of two, viz., Cluilius and Metius Fufetius or Suffetius;

but as the dictatorship continued at least eighty-eight years,

there might have been others, though their names and actions are

unknown. In the year before Christ 665 Alba, the metropolis of the

Latin nation, was destroyed by Tullus Hostilius, the third king of

the Romans, and the inhabitants carried to Rome. This put an end

to the monarchical republic of the Latins; and the Latins elected

two annual magistrates, whom Licinius calls dictators, but who are

called praetors by other writers. This form of government

continued till the time of P. Decius Mus, the Roman consul; for

Festus, in his fourteenth book, informs us "that the Albans

enjoyed prosperity till the time of King Tullus; but that, Alba

being then destroyed, the consuls, till the time of P. Decius Mus,

held a consultation with the Latins at the head of Ferentina, and

the empire was governed by the council of both nations." The Latin

nation was entirely subjugated by the Romans B.C. 336, which put

an end to the government by praetors, after it had continued

upwards of three hundred years. The Latins from this time ceased

to be a nation, as it respects the name; therefore the three forms

of government already mentioned were those which the Latins had

during that period which the angel speaks of, when he says, The

beast which thou sawest WAS. But as five heads, or forms of

government, had fallen before St. John's time, it is evident that

the two other forms of government which had fallen must be among

those of the Romans; first, because though the Latin nation so

called, was deprived of all authority by the Romans, yet the Latin

power continued to exist, for the very conquerors of the Latin

nation were Latins; and, consequently the Latins, though a

conquered people, continued to have a LATIN government. Secondly,

the angel expressly says, when speaking to St. John, that one is,

that is, the sixth head, or Latin form of government, was then in

existence; which could be no other than the imperial power, this

being the only independent form of Latin government in the

apostolic age. It therefore necessarily follows, that the Roman

forms of government by which Latium was ruled must be the

remaining heads of the beast. Before the subjugation of the Latins

by the Romans four of the Roman or draconic forms of government

had fallen, the regal power, the dictatorship, the decemvirate,

and the consular power of the military tribunes, the last of which

was abolished about 366 years before the commencement of the

Christian era; none of these, therefore, ruled over the WHOLE

Latin nation. But as the Latins were finally subdued about 336

B.C., the consular government of the Romans, which was then the

supreme power in the state, must be the fourth head of the beast.

This form of government continued, with very little interruption,

till the rising up of the triumvirate, the fifth head of the

beast, B.C. 43. The dictatorship of Sylla and Julius Caesar could

not be considered a new head of the beast, as the Latins had

already been ruled by it in the persons of Cluilius and Fufetius.

The sixth head of the beast, or that which existed in the time of

St. John, was consequently, as we have already proved, the

imperial power of the heathen Caesars, or the seventh draconic

form of government.

And the other is not yet come] Bishop Newton considers the Roman

dutchy, under the eastern emperor's lieutenant, the exarch of

Ravenna, the seventh head of the beast. But this cannot be the

form of government signified by the seventh head, for a head of

the beast as we have already shown, is a supreme, independent form

of Latin government; consequently the Roman dutchy cannot be the

seventh head, as it was dependent upon the exarchate of Ravenna;

and the exarchate cannot be the head, as it was itself in

subjection to the Greek empire. The Rev. G. Faber has ascertained

the truth exactly in denominating the Carlovingian patriciate the

seventh head of the beast. That this was a supreme, independent

form of government, is evident from history. Gibbon, in speaking

of the patriciate, observes that "the decrees of the senate and

people successively invested Charles Martel and his posterity with

the honours of patrician of Rome. The leaders of a powerful nation

would have disdained a servile title and subordinate office; but

the reign of the Greek emperors was suspended, and in the vacancy

of the empire they derived a more glorious commission from the

pope and the republic. The Roman ambassadors presented these

patricians with the keys of the shrine of St. Peter as a pledge

and symbol of sovereignty, and with a holy banner, which it was

their right and duty to unfurl in defense of the Church and city.

In the time of Charles Martel and of Pepin, the interposition of

the Lombard kingdom covered the freedom, while it threatened the

safety of Rome; and the patriciate represented only the title, the

service, the alliance, of these distant protectors. The power and

policy of Charlemagne annihilated an enemy, and imposed a master.

In his first visit to the capital he was received with all the

honours which had formerly been paid to the exarch, the

representative of the emperor; and these honours obtained some new

decorations from the joy and gratitude of Pope Adrian I. In the

portico Adrian expected him at the head of his clergy; they

embraced as friends and equals; but in their march to the altar,

the king, or patrician, assumed the right hand of the pope. Nor

was the Frank content with these vain and empty demonstrations of

respect. In the twenty-six years that elapsed between the conquest

of Lombardy and his imperial coronation, Rome, which had been

delivered by the sword, was subject, as his own, to the sceptre of

Charlemagne. The people swore allegiance to his person and family,

in his name money was coined and justice was administered, and the

election of the popes was examined and confirmed by his authority.

Except an original and self-inherent claim of sovereignty, there

was not any prerogative remaining which the title of emperor could

add to the patrician of Rome." The seven heads of the beast are

therefore the following: The regal power, the dictatorship, the

power of the praetors, the consulate, the triumvirate, the

imperial power, and the patriciate.

And when he cometh, he must continue a short space.] The seventh

form of government was only to remain a short time, which was

actually the case; for from its first rise to independent power to

its utter extinction, there passed only about forty-five years, a

short time in comparison to the duration of several of the

preceding forms of government; for the primitive regal government

continued at least four hundred and twenty-eight years, the

dictatorship was in power about eighty-eight years, the power of

the praetors was in being for upwards of three hundred years, the

consulate lasted about two hundred and eighty years, and the

imperial power continued upwards of five hundred years.

Verse 11. And the beast, that was, and is not, even he is the

eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.] That is to

say, the Latin kingdom that has already been, but is now no longer

nominally in existence, shall immediately follow the dissolution

of the seventh form of Latin government; and this dominion is

called ογδοος, an eighth, because it succeeds to the seventh. Yet

it is not an eighth head of the beast, because the beast has only

seven heads; for to constitute a new head of the beast the form

of government must not only differ in nature, but also in name.

This head of the beast is, therefore, εκτωνεπτα, ONE of the

seven. Consequently the form of government represented by this

head is the restoration of one of the preceding seven. The

restored head can be therefore no other than the regal state of

the Latins, or in other words the Latin kingdom, (ηλατινη

βασιλεια,) which followed the patriciate or seventh head of Latin

government. But the beast in his eighth state, or under his first

head restored, goeth into perdition. No other form of Latin

government shall succeed; but the beast in his last or

antichristian condition shall be taken together with the false

prophet that wrought miracles in his sight, "and cast alive into a

lake of fire burning with brimstone."

It is observable that the eighth Latin power is called by the

angel the beast, and also one of his heads. This apparent

discordance arises from the double signification of the heads, for

if we take the beast upon which the woman sits to be merely a

representation of that secular power which supports the Latin

Church, then the seven heads will represent the seven electorates

of the Germanic empire; but if by the beast we understand the

general Latin empire from first to last, then what is, according

to the angel's first interpretation of the heads, called the

beast, is in this case only one of his heads.

See Clarke on Re 17:18.

Verse 12. And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings,

which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings

one hour with the beast.] The meaning of horns has already been

defined when speaking of those of the dragon. The meaning is

therefore as follows: Though the Latin empire be now in existence,

the ten horns refer to ten Latin kingdoms yet in futurity, and

consequently they have received no dominion AS YET; for that part

of the Latin domination now in power is the sixth head, or

imperial government of the heathen Caesars. But the ten states of

the Latins receive dominion as monarchies μιανωραν, one time, (as

it may be properly translated,) i.e., at the same time with the

beast, or that which ascendeth out of the bottomless pit;

consequently, the Latin empire here intended is the one which was

in futurity in the apostolic age.

Verse 13. These have one mind, and shall give their power and

strength unto the beast.] Therefore the ten horns must constitute

the principal strength of the Latin empire; that is to say, this

empire is to be composed of the dominions of ten monarchs

independent of each other in every other sense except in their

implicit obedience to the Latin Church. The beast in this and the

preceding verse is distinguished from its horns, as the WHOLE

Latin empire is distinguished in history from its constituent

powers. See Clarke on Re 17:16.

Verse 14. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall

overcome them; for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and

they that are with him are called, and chosen, and, faithful.] The

ten powers of the beast must compose the secular kingdom of

antichrist, for they make war with the Lamb, who is Christ Jesus.

This is perfectly true of all popish states, for they have

constantly opposed, as long as they have had any secular power,

the progress of pure Christianity. They make war with the Lamb by

persecuting his followers; but the Lamb shall overcome them, for

he is the Lord of lords, and King of kings-all lords have their

authority from him, and no king can reign without him; therefore

the ten Latin kings are God's ministers to execute his vengeance

upon the idolatrous nations. But when these antichristian

monarchies have executed the Divine purpose, those that are with

the Lamb-the called, the chosen, and the faithful, those who have

kept THE TRUTH in the love of it, shall prevail against all their

adversaries, because their battles are fought by the Lamb, who is

their God and Deliverer. See Re 19:19, 20.

Verse 15. And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest,

where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations,

and tongues.] "So many words," Bishop Newton observes, "in the

plural number, fitly denote the great extensiveness of her power

and jurisdiction. She herself glories in the title of the Catholic

Church, and exults in the number of her votaries as a certain

proof of the true religion. Cardinal Bellarmin's first note of the

true Church is, the very name of the Catholic Church; and his

fourth note is, amplitude, or multitude, and variety of believers;

for the truly Catholic Church, says he, ought not only to

comprehend all ages, but likewise all places, all nations, all

kinds of men."

Verse 16. And the ten horns which thou sowest upon the beast,

these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked,

and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.] Here is a clue

to lead us to the right interpretation of the horns of the beast.

It is said the TEN horns shall hate the whore; by which is

evidently meant, when connected with what follows, that the whole

of the ten kingdoms in the interest of the Latin Church shall

finally despise her doctrines, be reformed from popery, assist in

depriving her of all influence and in exposing her follies, and in

the end consign her to utter destruction. From this it follows

that no Roman Catholic power which did not exist so late as the

Reformation can be numbered among the horns of the beast; the

horns must, therefore, be found among the great states of Europe

at the commencement of the Reformation. These were exactly ten,

viz., France, Spain, England, Scotland, The Empire, Sweden,

Denmark, Poland, Hungary, and Portugal. In these were comprehended

most of the minor states not styled monarchies, and which, from

their first rise to the period of the Reformation, had been

subdued by one or more of the ten grand Roman Catholic powers

already named. Consequently, these ten constituted the power and

strength of the beast; and each minor state is considered a part

of that monarchy under the authority of which it was finally

reduced previously to the Reformation.

But it may be asked, How could the empire, which was the revived

head of the beast, have been at the same time one of its horns?

The answer is as follows: Horns of an animal, in the language of

prophecy, represent the powers of which that empire or kingdom

symbolized by the animal is composed. Thus the angel, in his

interpretation of Daniel's vision of the ram and he-goat expressly

informs us that "the ram with two horns are the kings of Media and

Persia." One of the horns of the ram, therefore, represented the

kingdom of Media, and the other the kingdom of Persia; and their

union in one animal denoted the united kingdom of Media and

Persia, viz., the Medo-Persian empire. In like manner the beast

with ten horns denotes that the empire represented by the beast is

composed of ten distinct powers, and the ten horns being united in

one beast very appropriately show that the monarchies symbolized

by these horns are united together to form one empire; for we have

already shown, in Clarke's notes on "Re 13:1", that

a beast is the symbol of an empire. Therefore, as the horns of

an animal, agreeably to the angel's explanation, (and we can have

no higher authority,) represent all the powers of which that

domination symbolized by the animal is composed, the Roman empire

of Germany, as one of those monarchies which gave their power and

strength to the Latin empire, must consequently have been A HORN

of the beast. But the Germanic empire was not only a LATIN power,

but at the same time was acknowledged by all Europe to have

precedency of all the others. Therefore, as it is not possible

to express these two circumstances by one symbol, it necessarily

follows, from the nature of symbolical language, that what has

been named the holy Roman empire must have a double

representation. Hence the empire, as one of the powers of the

Latin monarchy, was a horn of the beast, and in having precedency

of all the others was its revived head. See a similar explanation

of the tail of the dragon in Clarke's notes on "Re 12:4".

Verse 17. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will,

and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the

words of God shall be fulfilled.] Let no one imagine that these

ten Latin kingdoms, because they support an idolatrous worship,

have been raised up merely by the power of man or the chances of

war. No kingdom or state can exist without the will of God;

therefore let the inhabitants of the world tremble when they see a

wicked monarchy rise to power, and let them consider that it is

raised up by the Lord to execute his vengeance upon the idolatries

and profligacies of the times. It is said of the kings in

communion with the Church of Rome, that God hath put in their

hearts to fulfil his will. How is this Divine will accomplished?

In the most awful and afflictive manner! In causing ten Latin

kings to unite their dominions into one mighty empire for the

defence of the Latin Church. Here is a dreadful dispensation of

Jehovah; but it is such as the nations have most righteously

deserved, because when they had the truth they lived not according

to its most holy requisitions, but loved darkness rather than

light, because their deeds were evil. Therefore hath "the Lord

sent them strong delusion that they should believe a lie, that

they might all be damned who believe not the truth, but have

pleasure in unrighteousness." But this deplorable state of the

world is not perpetual, it can only continue till every word of

God is fulfilled upon his enemies; and when this time arrives,

(which will be that of Christ's second advent,) then shall the Son

of God slay that wicked "with the spirit of his mouth, and shall

consume him with the brightness of HIS COMING."

Verse 18. And the woman which thou sawest is that great city,

which reigneth over the kings of the earth.] It has already been

shown that the woman sitting upon the seven-headed beast is a

representation of the Latin Church; here we have the greatest

assurance that it is so, because the woman is called a city, which

is a much plainer emblem of a Church, as the word is used

unequivocally in this sense in so many parts of Scripture that we

cannot well mistake its meaning. See Re 3:12; 11:2; 21:10; 22:19;

and also Ps 46:4; 87:3; Heb 12:22, &c. The

woman therefore must be the Latin Church; and as the apostle saw

her sitting upon the beast, this must signify that ηεχουσα

βασιλειαν, she hath A KINGDOM over the kings of the earth, i.e.,

over the kings of the Latin world, for that this is the meaning of

earth has been shown before in numerous instances. That KINGDOM

which the woman has over the kings of the Latin world, or secular

Latin empire, or in other words THE KINGDOM of the Latin Church,

is the numbered Latin kingdom or Romish hierarchy.

See Clarke on Re 13:18. The woman is also called

a GREAT city, to denote the very great extent of her

jurisdiction; for she has comprehended within her walls the

subjects of the mighty dominations of France, Spain, England,

Scotland, The Empire, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Hungary, and

Portugal. What an extensive city was this! Surely such as to

justify the prophetic denomination, that GREAT city.

HAVING now gone through the whole of the angel's interpretation

of St. John's vision of a whore sitting upon the seven-headed and

ten-horned beast, it will be essentially necessary to examine a

little more attentively the eighth verse of this chapter.

Re 17:8 It has already been shown that the phrases,

was, is not, shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and yet is,

refer to the Latin kingdom which existed before the building of

Rome, to the Roman empire in the time of St. John, and to the

Latin empire which was in futurity in the apostolic age. But as

the words was, is not, &c., are spoken of the beast upon which the

apostle saw the woman, or Latin Church, sit; how can it be said of

this beast that it had an existence before the date of the

Apocalypse, when the woman whom it carried was not in being till

long after this period? And what connection has the Latin empire

of the middle ages with that which derived its name from Latinus,

king of the Aborigines, and was subjugated by the ancient Romans;

or even with that which existed in the time of the apostle? The

answer is as follows: St. John saw the beast upon which the woman

sat with all his seven heads and ten horns. Consequently, as the

angel expressly says that five of these seven heads had already

fallen in the time of the vision, it therefore necessarily follows

that the apostle must have seen that part of the Latin empire

represented by the seven-headed beast which had already been under

the emblem of five heads. Therefore the woman sat upon the beast

that WAS. But it is plain from the angel's interpretation that the

whole of the seven heads fell, before the beast upon which the

woman sat arose; and yet the woman is represented as sitting upon

the seven-headed beast to denote, as we have before observed, that

it is the Latin kingdom in its last estate, or under one of its

heads restored, which is the secular kingdom of antichrist. The

beast is also said not to have any existence in the time of the

vision; from which it is evident that the monarchy of the Latins,

and not that of the Romans, is here intended; because the latter

was in the time of the vision. Again, the beast which St. John

saw had not ascended out of the bottomless pit in his time;

consequently the whole seven heads and ten horns were in futurity,

for all these heads and horns rose up out of the abyss at the same

time with the beast. How is this apparent contradiction

reconciled? In the most plain and satisfactory manner, by means of

the angel's double interpretation of the heads; for if the seven

heads be taken in the sense of seven mountains, (head in the

Scripture style being a symbol of precedency as well as

supremacy,) then the beast with all its heads and horns was

altogether in futurity in the apostle's time, for the seven heads

are the seven electorates of the German empire, and the ten horns

the ten monarchies in the interest of the Latin Church. Finally,

the beast is said to exist in the time of the vision; therefore

the Roman empire, which governed the world, must be here alluded

to; and consequently the phrase and yet is is a proof that, as the

beast is the Latin kingdom, and this beast is said to have an

existence in the time of the apostle, the empire of the Caesars,

though generally known by the name of the Roman, is in a very

proper sense the Latin kingdom, as the Latin was the language

which prevailed in it. Hence the seven-headed and ten-horned beast

is at once the representation of the ancient Latin power, of the

Roman empire which succeeded it, and of the Latin empire which

supports the Latin Church. Here is then the connection of the

ancient Latin and Roman powers with that upon which the woman

sits. She sits upon the beast that was and is not, because three

of his heads represent the three forms of government which the

ancient Latins had before they were subjugated by the Romans,

viz., the regal power, the dictatorship, and the power of the

praetors. She sits upon the beast which SHALL ASCEND out of the

bottomless pit, because all his seven heads, taken in the sense of

mountains were in futurity in the apostolic age. She sits upon the

beast that yet is, because four of his heads represent four forms

of government of the Roman or Latin empire now in existence, viz.,

the consulate, the triumvirate, the imperial power, and the

patriciate. It is hence evident that the beast, in the largest

acceptation of this term, is a symbol of the Latin power in

general, from its commencement in Latinus to the end of time; his

seven heads denoting seven kings or supreme forms of Latin

government, during this period, king or kingdom, as we have

already observed, being a general term in the prophetical writings

for any kind of supreme governor or government, no matter by what

particular name such may have been designated among men. Thus the

Latin power from the time of Latinus to the death of Numitor was

the beast under the dominion of his first head; from the death of

Numitor to the destruction of Alba it was the beast under the

dominion of his second head; from the destruction of Alba to the

final subjugation of the Latins by the Romans the beast under the

dominion of his third head. And as the four Roman forms of

government which were subsequent to the final conquest of the

Latins, were also Latin dominations, the Latin power under these

forms of government was the beast under the dominion of his

fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh heads. The beast of the

bottomless pit, which followed the fall of all the heads of the

sea beast or general Latin empire, is, according to the angel's

interpretation, ογδοος, (βασιλευς,) an EIGHTH king, i.e., an

eighth species of Latin power, or, in other words, a supreme form

of Latin government essentially differing from all the foregoing;

yet, as it is nominally the same with one of the preceding seven,

it is not accounted an eighth head of the beast. The first beast

of Re 13:1 is a description of the

eighth or last condition of the GENERAL Latin empire, and is

said to arise εκτηςθαλασσης, out of the sea, because the heads

are there taken in a double sense, sea being a general term to

express the origin of every great empire which is raised up by the

sword; but when (as in Re 17:11) one of the heads of the sea

beast (viz., that secular power which is still in being, and has

supported the Latin Church for more than a thousand years) is

peculiarly styled The Beast, the Holy Ghost, speaking of this

secular Latin empire exclusively, declares it to be εκτης

αβυσσου, FROM the bottomless pit.

JOHN EDWARD CLARKE.

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