Revelation of John 13* A wild beast rises out of the sea, to whom the dragon giveshis power. (1-10) Another beast, which has two horns like alamb, but speaks as a dragon. (11-15) It obliges all to worshipits image, and receive its mark, as persons devoted to it.(16-18)1-10 The apostle, standing on the shore, saw a savage beastrise out of the sea; a tyrannical, idolatrous, persecutingpower, springing up out of the troubles which took place. It wasa frightful monster! It appears to mean that worldly, oppressingdominion, which for many ages, even from the times of theBabylonish captivity, had been hostile to the church. The firstbeast then began to oppress and persecute the righteous forrighteousness' sake, but they suffered most under the fourthbeast of Daniel, (the Roman empire,) which has afflicted thesaints with many cruel persecutions. The source of its power wasthe dragon. It was set up by the devil, and supported by him.The wounding the head may be the abolishing pagan idolatry; andthe healing of the wound, introducing popish idolatry, the samein substance, only in a new dress, but which as effectuallyanswers the devil's design. The world admired its power, policyand success. They paid honour and subjection to the devil andhis instruments. It exercised infernal power and policy,requiring men to render that honour to creatures which belongsto God alone. Yet the devil's power and success are limited.Christ has a chosen remnant, redeemed by his blood, recorded inhis book, sealed by his Spirit; and though the devil andantichrist may overcome the body, and take away the naturallife, they cannot conquer the soul, nor prevail with truebelievers to forsake their Saviour, and join his enemies.Perseverance in the faith of the gospel and true worship of God,in this great hour of trial and temptation, which would deceiveall but the elect, is the character of those registered in thebook of life. This powerful motive and encouragement toconstancy, is the great design of the whole Revelation. 11-18 Those who understand the first beast to denote a worldlypower, take the second to be also a persecuting and assumedpower, which acts under the disguise of religion, and of charityto the souls of men. It is a spiritual dominion, professing tobe derived from Christ, and exercised at first in a gentlemanner, but soon spake like the dragon. Its speech betrayed it;for it gives forth those false doctrines and cruel decrees,which show it to belong to the dragon, and not to the Lamb. Itexercised all the power of the former beast. It pursues the samedesign, to draw men from worshipping the true God, and tosubject the souls of men to the will and control of men. Thesecond beast has carried on its designs, by methods whereby menshould be deceived to worship the former beast, in the newshape, or likeness made for it. By lying wonders, pretendedmiracles. And by severe censures. Also by allowing none to enjoynatural or civil rights, who will not worship that beast whichis the image of the pagan beast. It is made a qualification forbuying and selling, as well as for places of profit and trust,that they oblige themselves to use all their interest, power,and endeavour, to forward the dominion of the beast, which ismeant by receiving his mark. To make an image to the beast,whose deadly wound was healed, would be to give form and powerto his worship, or to require obedience to his commands. Toworship the image of the beast, implies being subject to thosethings which stamp the character of the picture, and render itthe image of the beast. The number of the beast is given, so asto show the infinite wisdom of God, and to exercise the wisdomof men. The number is the number of a man, computed after theusual manner among men, and it is 666. What or who is intendedby this, remains a mystery. To almost every religious disputethis number has yet been applied, and it may reasonably bedoubted whether the meaning has yet been discovered. But he whohas wisdom and understanding, will see that all the enemies ofGod are numbered and marked out for destruction; that the termof their power will soon expire, and that all nations shallsubmit to our King of righteousness and peace.
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