Revelation of John 13

* A wild beast rises out of the sea, to whom the dragon gives

his power. (1-10) Another beast, which has two horns like a

lamb, but speaks as a dragon. (11-15) It obliges all to worship

its image, and receive its mark, as persons devoted to it.

(16-18)

1-10 The apostle, standing on the shore, saw a savage beast

rise out of the sea; a tyrannical, idolatrous, persecuting

power, springing up out of the troubles which took place. It was

a frightful monster! It appears to mean that worldly, oppressing

dominion, which for many ages, even from the times of the

Babylonish captivity, had been hostile to the church. The first

beast then began to oppress and persecute the righteous for

righteousness' sake, but they suffered most under the fourth

beast of Daniel, (the Roman empire,) which has afflicted the

saints with many cruel persecutions. The source of its power was

the dragon. It was set up by the devil, and supported by him.

The wounding the head may be the abolishing pagan idolatry; and

the healing of the wound, introducing popish idolatry, the same

in substance, only in a new dress, but which as effectually

answers the devil's design. The world admired its power, policy

and success. They paid honour and subjection to the devil and

his instruments. It exercised infernal power and policy,

requiring men to render that honour to creatures which belongs

to God alone. Yet the devil's power and success are limited.

Christ has a chosen remnant, redeemed by his blood, recorded in

his book, sealed by his Spirit; and though the devil and

antichrist may overcome the body, and take away the natural

life, they cannot conquer the soul, nor prevail with true

believers 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 deceive

all but the elect, is the character of those registered in the

book of life. This powerful motive and encouragement to

constancy, is the great design of the whole Revelation.
11-18 Those who understand the first beast to denote a worldly

power, take the second to be also a persecuting and assumed

power, which acts under the disguise of religion, and of charity

to the souls of men. It is a spiritual dominion, professing to

be derived from Christ, and exercised at first in a gentle

manner, 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. It

exercised all the power of the former beast. It pursues the same

design, to draw men from worshipping the true God, and to

subject the souls of men to the will and control of men. The

second beast has carried on its designs, by methods whereby men

should be deceived to worship the former beast, in the new

shape, or likeness made for it. By lying wonders, pretended

miracles. And by severe censures. Also by allowing none to enjoy

natural or civil rights, who will not worship that beast which

is the image of the pagan beast. It is made a qualification for

buying 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 is

meant by receiving his mark. To make an image to the beast,

whose deadly wound was healed, would be to give form and power

to his worship, or to require obedience to his commands. To

worship the image of the beast, implies being subject to those

things which stamp the character of the picture, and render it

the image of the beast. The number of the beast is given, so as

to show the infinite wisdom of God, and to exercise the wisdom

of men. The number is the number of a man, computed after the

usual manner among men, and it is 666. What or who is intended

by this, remains a mystery. To almost every religious dispute

this number has yet been applied, and it may reasonably be

doubted whether the meaning has yet been discovered. But he who

has wisdom and understanding, will see that all the enemies of

God are numbered and marked out for destruction; that the term

of their power will soon expire, and that all nations shall

submit to our King of righteousness and peace.
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