Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

deception practised by the false prophet, and so practised we may presume through the instrumentality of his two horns, or doctrinal powers, for he is not represented as possessed of any other weapons or instruments. By this delusion he causes all principles of faith or doctrine opposed to the service of the beast, or not tending to exalt the beast as an object of worship, to appear as dead works : figuratively speaking, he causes them to be killedto appear to be void of spirituality, and inconsistent with the means of eternal life; the action of the false prophet upon the elements of true doctrine, being an opposite of that of the sword of the Spirit upon the 'wounded head of the first beast. As when Moses, the true prophet, the true interpreter of the will of God, performed certain real miracles in the presence of the king of Egypt, the magicians of the king (the false prophets) professed to perform precisely similar miracles ; it being given to them to delude the monarch and his court, that their hearts might be hardened, and that the purpose of God might be fulfilled.

The first monster gives himself out as in the place of God; or is made to appear as God, through the instrumentality of the second beast. The image of this monster we suppose to be the opposite of him who is declared to be the image of God, 2 Cor. iv. 4 ; the image of the invisible God, Col. i. 15; and the brightness of the glory, and the express image of the

person of God, Heb. i. 3. We may define the image of God, spiritually, to be his righteousness, personified in Jesus Christ; in whom dwelt all the fulness (perfection) of the Godhead bodily. On this account, while the disciple is said to bear the image of Christ, 1 Cor. xv. 49, being clothed by imputation with the moral perfection or righteousness of his Redeemer, he is also said to be conformed to the image of this image of God. The disciple thus, in and through Christ, being contemplated as clothed even with the righteousness of God himself-Jehovah our righteousness.

The image of the beast, to be the opposite of this divine perfection, must be the righteousness or pretended perfeetion of man—the righteousness of self ; a conclusion similar to that before reached ($ 310) by a different process. To give life to this image is accordingly to cause this human righteousness to appear to be spiritually the image of God and not of man ; in other words, it is to cause the pretended moral persection of man to be substituted for the real perfection of God. The false prophet, assuming this to be the just interpretation of the written word of revelation, causes all elements of doctrine not subservient to the worship of this image of man's righteousness, to be denounced as inconsistent with the means of eternal life. In like manner, perhaps, the speaking of the image of the beast may be defined to be what might be termed a speaking for itself; the false interpretation placing this element of self-righteousness in such a plausible aspect as to cause it to argue as it were for the reasonableness of its own claims.

This false interpretation, in effect, causes the opposing elements to be killed, but it is through the agency of the image that it does this ; and the effect produced is a result apparently of the appearance of life or of spirituality given to the image. It is given to the false prophet to give spirit to the image of the beast, in order that the image should both speak and cause that the subsequent idolatrous requisitions may appear as of the image and not of the prophet.* Self-righteousness (the image) under the sanction of professed spirituality, arguing its own cause, virtually revives the operation of the law, and thus causes the death, that is, the temporary deadness, of the elements of the gospel—we do not say destruction, because the terms destroy and destroyed imply annihilation. The elements of truth cannot be annihilated ; so, those opposed to the worship of the image, although killed, may be presumed to be subsequently resuscitated. The speaking of the beast, its apparent spirituality, and its action in killing, we are to rernember are things taking place in the sight of men only, not in the sight of God.

Vs. 16, 17. And he causeth all, both Και ποιεί πάντας, τους μικρούς και τους small and great, rich and poor, free and μεγάλους, και τους πλουσίους και τους πτωbond, to receive a mark in their right χούς, και τους ελευθέρους και τους δούhand, or in their foreheads; and that no man [no one] might buy or sell, save he λους, ένα δωσιν αυτοίς χάραγμα επί της that had the mark, or the name of the χειρός αυτών της δεξιάς ή επί το μέτωπον beast, or the number of his name. αυτών και ίνα μή τις δύναται αγοράσαι ή

πωλήσαι, ει μή ο έχων το χάραγμα, το όνομα του θηρίου και τον αριθμόν του ονόματος

αυτού. . $ 313. And he causeth all,' &c. ;-or, and he moveth all.. The Greek verb noiew does not necessarily imply an external compulsion. In this, as well as in the twelfth verse, it is rendered in the Latin version of L. and G. by moveo. He moves the earth and its inhabitants that they should adore the first beast, so he moves them that a certain character or mark should be received by them. The influence of the false prophet, in causing the infliction of the mark, is something taking effect in the element itself, as by spontaneous action ; the officious sycophancy of the subject under the delusion of the false interpreter leading to the ready performance of an act of servility, which the sovereign himself alone might be sup

* As if we might suppose the courtiers of Nebuchadnezzar to have persuaded their monarch, and the people of Babylon, that the golden image of his setting up, itself required the destruction of those refusing to worship it; thus shielding the barbarity of the contemplated persecution under the presence of its being a requisition of the divinity.

[ocr errors]

6

posed hardly to have required : a degree of sycophancy generally the accompaniment of a mercenary and selfish motive of conduct.

* Small and great, rich and poor,' &c.—The enumeration of these different classes may be designed only to give intensity to the term all. Possibly the verse may admit of a further analysis, but it appears sufficient to take these specifications altogether as indicating the peculiarity that, without erception, every principle or element belonging to the kingdom, system, or mystery of the beast, must exhibit the characteristic feature alluded to; the influence producing this exhibition being in all cases that of the false prophet, through the instrumentality of his two horns or most prominent doctrines.

The term rendered mark, ydovyuo, occurs in the New Testament only in the Apocalypse, and is not found at all in the Septuagint. The term zaocztńg, which approaches nearest to it, coming also from the same root, is met with but once in the New Testament, Heb. i. 3, and once in the Septuagint, Lev. xiii. 28. In Hebrews, it is applied to Jesus Christ as the character or express image of the Deity. In Leviticus, it designates a mark (cicatrir) attendant upon a certain stage of leprosy. As the term from which both these words are derived primitively expressed the action of digging a trench around a camp, and was thence applied to the cutting or graving upon stone or metals, the leading idea to be associated with this mark is its almost indelible nature ; at the same time we may presume it to be not merely an arbitrary mark, but some peculiar expression of the leading feature of the thing of which it bears the impression. It may be characteristic of the abject bondage peculiar to the kingdom of the beast, or of the blasphemy with which the principle of self is chargeable; or it may be some prominent feature of selfishness, or of want of gratitude to God, necessarily predominating in all the elements of the doctrinal system of this spirit of error.

We find, from the next chapter, that the one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed ones are seen standing with the Lamb upon the Mount Zion. This mount is part of the earth, and the one hundred and forty-four thousand were inhabitants of the earth at the time of their being sealed, but they cannot be amongst those who bear the mark of the beast. On the contrary, they have the name of the Father of the Lamb in their foreheads, -an opposite of the mark. They are exceptions to the general rule here, as they were before exempt from the action of the four angels, withholding the winds from blowing on the earth. The power and influence of the two beasts extends to all the dwellers upon the earth, but always with this exception.

The seal upon the foreheads of the chosen ones, we have supposed to be something bearing an analogy with the marks of the blood of the paschal lamb upon the door-posts of the houses of the Israelites ; this blood being a figure of the atonement of Christ -a memento of his vicarious interposition. If this seal and the Father's name in the foreheads of the one hundred and forty-four thousand be identic, we may suppose these elements of truth to bear the impress of the new name, JEHOVAH OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS; a name having the same protecting quality as that ascribed to the evidence of the vicarious sufferings of the Redeemer. Both figures or marks representing the same truths-every element of doctrine exhibiting a tendency to inculcate a reliance upon the means of salvation represented by either of them, bears as upon its front the seal of its intimate connection with the plan of sovereign grace. On the other hand, we suppose the mark of the beast to be put for the leading feature of elements of doctrine, of precisely an opposite tendency; the name of the beast being also an opposite of the new name just alluded to. Every element belonging to this system is to bear the mark in one or the other of these particulars.

· In their right hand, or in their foreheads.'-The mark in the right hand may be a characteristic of action or tendency. The mark in the forehead may be a mark of identity. The right hand of man may be taken as an opposite of the right hand of God;—the right hand of God is his righteousness, (Is. xli. 10,) the power by which he saves. The right hand of man

put for man's supposed or pretended righteousness. Every element of doctrine, accordingly, sustaining the principle of man's salvation by bis own merit, bears upon it the mark of the beast. So, as the seal of the Father's name upon the foreheads of the one hundred and forty-four thousand exhibits the identity of the principles thus sealed with the divine word or purpose, the name (perhaps self) in the foreheads of the subjects of the beast, may be supposed to designate the identity of every selfish, and mercenary, and vainglorious principle, with the ruling element setting itself up in the heart of man in the place of Jehovah.

The subjects of the beast are marked in the right hand, as well as in the forehead ; the chosen ones of Jehovah are sealed only in their foreheads. Under the economy of grace, the disciple needs no other power than that of the right hand of his God and Saviour. If he have the mark of identity, or of adoption, it is all that is required. Under the economy of works, man depends upon his own right hand, as well as upon the character of his faith : as it is said, Ps. cxliv. 8, Their right hand (their professed means of deliverance) is a right hand of falsehood. In this state of dependence, we may suppose him to be met with the requisition of the false interpreter, that every element of doctrine belonging to the system of self-justification must bear, as on the right hand, the characteristic of self, self-love, or selfishness.

$ 314. “And that no man (no one) might buy or sell.'—Here it is implied that buying and selling constitute the universal occupation of these

may be

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

dwellers on the earth. All belonging to the kingdom of the beast, high and low, rich and poor, are engaged in trafficall are actuated by the mercenary motive of getting gain. To cut them, or any of them, off from this privilege, is equivalent to depriving them of the rights of citizenship, and even of the means of sustaining life ; still more of the means of accumulating riches either for purposes of ransom, for their immediate gratification, or for promoting their future glory. In like manner, under the influence of the false prophet, no doctrine is deemed efficient in pointing out the way

of eternal life, and of entering into the glory of a future state, unless it bear the mark or stamp of this blasphemous principle in its avowed character, or in its virtual tendency.

We find nothing said of buying or selling, or getting gain, in connection with the New Jerusalem. There all avocations of toil or labour cease, and there (in the economy of grace) no mercenary motive of action finds a place. Babylon on the contrary, as we shall see hereafter, is distinguished for her commercial avocations; and that great city we suppose to be but another figure of the kingdom of this ten-horned beast. The dwellers upon the earth we take to be the elements of a system of which all the principles are of a mercenary character--making a gain of Godliness; every motive of obedience urged upon the disciple being grounded upon calculations of profit and loss, present or future. Consequently, every motive or principle, not bearing this mark of selfishness—not having the glory and interest of self in view—is virtually deprived of its franchise in this system, or kingdom, influenced, as the system is, by the mode of interpreting revelation adopted by, or rather represented by, the false prophet; this influence being part of the deception practised by the second beast, and the means by which from the beginning he causes the dwellers upon the earth to worship the first beast through the image of their own creation.

Save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.'—Here there appears to be three grades or classes of this peculiar characteristic of the beast: the mark, (xipayun,) the name, and the number of the name. Some editions of the Greek, however, omit the first disjunctive particle ń, (or,) so as to leave room to suppose the two last classes or grades to be in apposition to the first;- as if it were said, Save he that had the mark, that is, the name of the beast, or the number of his name; the mark comprehending the other two particulars. So, Rev. xiv. 9, the mark in the forehead or hand seems to be given for name and number, both or either; and Rev. xiv. 11, the mark of his name is spoken of as identifying name and mark. Again, Rev. xv. 2, the mark and the number of the name only are mentioned, leaving us to suppose the mark to be put for the name itself; while, Rev. xvi. 2, xix. 20, and xx. 4, the mark alone is mentioned, apparently, as equivalent to all three of the terms. Unless

« AnteriorContinuar »