THE BEAST AND HIS IMAGE.
READER:--To properly appreciate the following, you should read and have clearly in mind, the articles in our last issue, (Dec. 1881,) headed: "The Antichrist" and "The Counterfeit of the Kingdom of God."
B. I am here again Bro. A., anxious to pursue the investigation of Revelation Chap. xiii., as you suggested at our last meeting. I have long felt a deep interest in this chapter, and especially because other scriptures refer to the beast and image here described, and say that the overcomers get a victory over the Beast and Image and the number of his name. My difficulty has been that not understanding the significance of these symbols, I could not know whether I had gotten a victory over them or not. I shall give earnest heed and endeavor to weigh your arguments by the Word of God only, and not by the "traditions of the Fathers."
A. That is the only proper way to study Scripture. We should come to it believing that "It (and it alone) is able to make us wise," (2 Tim. 3:15,) and it is this class who shall understand. Daniel said--In the time of the end many shall run to and fro and knowledge shall be increased, and the wise shall understand. To rightly understand how it is that certain parts of truth could be hid from all past ages, and yet be due to be understood by us now, we should remember, that God's Word is a great treasure house in which he has hid in past time, all knowledge needful to his children in all ages. It is a great storehouse from which his servants may bring forth things both new and old--meat in due season for the household of faith. (Matt. 24:45.) It is because this truth is generally overlooked or disregarded, that so many of the Lord's saints go to old musty volumes of the traditions of the Fathers, instead of going to the fountain of living truths--The Bible.
B. When we look at it, this is very dishonoring to the words of Jesus which he puts on a par with himself saying, "Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words...of him also shall the son of man be ashamed when he cometh in the glory of his Father." (Mark 8:38.) It dishonors the Father also, for Jesus said that his spirit would guide us into all truth and show us things to come. (John 16:13.)
A. Let us then commence: I will use the "Emphatic Diaglott" translation as it is so much more clear; then you can have the benefit of both versions.
Let me first lay down a simple rule for interpreting some symbols found in this chapter. Dragon--civil power, Pagan Rome; Heavens--the higher or ruling powers; Earth--the people under, or obedient to the ruling powers (heavens); Sea--the general masses of mankind, not under religious restraint.
The first two verses of this chapter, direct our attention to the Dragon which in the preceding chapterwe found to symbolize the Roman Empire; the same which Daniel saw in vision called the "fourth beast dreadful and terrible" (Dan. 7:7.) This dragon passed its dominion over to a beast which arose out of the sea--a government which came up from among the irreligious masses; in other words the Roman Empire passed under a new rulership--The Leopard Beast--whose mouth was lion like, its body leopard like, and its feet bear like. This beast which came into possession of the Dragon's seat and power, we understand to be Papacy: it corresponds to the "man child" of the preceding chapter. It has certain qualities which resemble the first three beasts of Daniel 7, viz: the Lion, Bear and Leopard--described as representing Babylon, Persia, and Greece. This new Beast then, would combine certain leading characteristics of the preceding empires and unite them in the power of the last--the Roman.
Babylon was celebrated for its splendor and its pride--the Lion the king or ruler of all beasts--so Papacy had a mouth of this sort, i.e., it claimed to be the kingdom over all kingdoms by divine right--the kingdom of God, which was to break in pieces and consume all others--a strong mouth.
The bear's feet suggest another of Papacy's peculiarities as an empire-- viz: persistency. Like the Bear Empire (Medo Persia) which would besiege for years, and even turn a river aside from its channel to accomplish its ends; so Papacy moves cautiously, and gets possession of kingdoms rather by strategy than by battle. This same quality is illustrated in the bear; it hugs its prey to death with its paws.
The body of the Papal beast was like a Leopard. The Leopard was the third beast seen by Daniel--viz: Grecia. Greece was noted as the centre of learning, piety and wisdom (Acts 17:23): so Papacy's chief claim, to be the ruler of all kingdoms, is based on the claim that it is the centre of wisdom, learning and piety. Other peculiarities of the Leopard are its activity, vigilance and secretiveness; so with Papacy. Again, a Leopard is spotted irregularly, so too Papacy's policy varies in various parts of the earth: In enlightened liberal countries it is liberal, in other places it varies in its rulings to suit the circumstances.
This Leopard beast (Ecclesiastical Empire) is given the power, seat, and great authority of the [Dragon] Pagan Roman Empire, and for a time becomes the only representative of that dominion--the various horns (kingdoms) rendering allegiance and support to it.*
The people respected this BEAST because of its peculiarities--leopard body and lion mouth--and they respected the civil power all the more, because it had so honored ecclesiastical authority. The various kingdoms (horns) soon learned that their hold of power over the people was strengthened, rather than weakened by allegiance to Papacy, for Papacy in turn recognized them and commanded the people to recognize those despots as of divine appointment.
Thus it is, that to this day, the rulers of Europe claim to rule by divine right and appointment and their children after them, no matter how incapable. For the same reason the protestant churches of Europe, to gain national favor, protection, and assistance, became State churches and they, as Papacy did, recognize the reigning families as possessed of Divine title to the office, and rulership of the people. [God's Word on the contrary, denounces all the governments of earth, as selfish, oppressive, and beastly, and recognizes only one kingdom as being of God's appointment, viz: the kingdom soon to be established in all the earth--Christ and his saints IN GLORY. (Danl. 7:27. Rev. 11:15. 2 Tim. 2:12.) It is in that kingdom only that the saints have their citizenship--it alone they recognize and for it pray "Thy kingdom COME."
B. But Bro. A., has not the reign of that kingdom in some sense commenced? Do we not add in the same prayer Thine is the kingdom, etc.? (Matt. 5:13, Luke 11:4.)
A. No Brother, this is the time to suffer ignominy with him at the hands of the World, as a test of our worthiness to reign with him when he shall take (use) his great power and reign. It is not until about the close of the Seventh Trumpet's sounding, that the kingdoms of earth become the kingdoms of our Lord and his anointed (body--church). Then you know, we are told they will be angry and his wrath must first come before they are obedient. (Rev. 11:18.) These are so deceived by this false teaching of Papacy, still continued to some extent, by all of the reformation churches, that it naturally [R319 : page 6] makes both people and rulers angry, to intimate that the Devil is the prince of these governments. (Eph. 2:2.) Certainly many of their deeds are worthy of such a diabolical head.
As to your quotation from the Lord's prayer, "Thine is the kingdom, etc.," you should remember that we found that to be an addition made to the original prayer during Papacy's rule. It is lacking in all ancient copies of the N.T. and is properly omitted in the new revision. No Brother, nothing in God's Word countenances the idea that these oppressive governments are God's, nor recognized by him except as parts of evil--to be wiped out by the exaltation of the real Christ, head and body, glorious spiritual beings, to the Ecclesiastical dominion which for several hundred years was counterfeited by Papacy--the chief Antichrist.
But to return to the subject: The people respected the BEAST saying: "Who is able to make war with him? --who would be able to withstand the withering curse of Papacy, the spiritual empire?
"And there was given him a mouth (Lion-like--strong--terrible utterance) speaking great and blasphemous things;" [The utterances we examined at our last interview, as you will recall.--Dec. '81.] "and authority was given him to act forty-two months." (Vs. 5.) This permission we understand to have been--to execute and put to death saints of God, which it called "heretics." These 42 symbolic months, or 1260 days are the same as mentioned in the preceding chapter and also foretold by Daniel (12:7) as 3-1/2 times (years). With the end of those 1260 years, Papacy's power to act--or execute for heresy, ended --1798. There the delusion that none could successfully war or contend with Papacy was shown, when Napoleon in defiance of the curse, took Pope Pius VI. a prisoner to Paris where he died. The dread of this BEAST has not been so great since, and the various horns (kingdoms) which once defended, have made war with the woman. (The dominion has been taken away.) (Rev. 17:16.)
Now we turn back again to see how this BEAST succeeded during its career of power. We read (vs. 6): "And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme his name and his tabernacle, and those who tabernacle in heaven."
This BEAST power was a slur upon God and upon the true coming kingdom. Verses 7 and 8("New Vers." "Diag." rendering poor.) "And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them; and there was given to him authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation." [Papacy's authority as a spiritual empire or "kingdom of God,"--was generally acknowledged.] "And all that dwell on the earth shall worship him--every one whose name hath not been written in the book of life, of the Lamb that hath been slain from the foundation of the world."
The deception of Papacy was so complete that the World was deceived and all the church, except the overcomers, whose names were "written in heaven" were deceived in the same way, and hasted to unite themselves with, and to worship the BEAST, and have it enroll their names on its books. From this has sprung the delusion so common to all Protestants at this day --viz: That their names must be connected with some SUCH earthly church system, or they are not the Lord's saints. But, the important item is, to have our names recorded in the Lamb's book of life--His is the only record of any value.
"If any man hath an ear, let him hear." (Vs. 9.) Only those whose ears had been circumcised--those who had come to a considerable knowledge of God's word and who had the hearing of faith--to respect him and his word, despite the magnificence, success and power of error, would be able to receive the foregoing statements concerning those who were deceived [R319 : page 7] by Papacy: that they were of those unwritten in the true church, of which that was the counterfeit.
"If any one is for captivity, into captivity he goes away; if any one will kill with the sword, with the sword must he be killed. Here is the patient endurance and the faith of the saints." (Vs. 10.)
The Papal system was one of bondage. All who acknowledged its claims must of necessity render implicit obedience, as unto God; for it claimed to be the Kingdom of Heaven; and its head, the Pope, to be God's vicegerent; consequently those who were for, or in favor of such a captivity of individual thought, and who acknowledged the right of that Papal system to limit and define the faith of all, by consenting, became captives.
Many protestant sects have got into the same snare of the devil, and are vainly striving to make a dominion by blending church and state.
On the other hand, there were some who asserted that Papacy was a usurpation of the titles and power of the true head and ruler of the church, and claimed their right to the individual liberty wherewith Christ had made them free. Such used, the "sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God," in the defense of their liberty, and such were put to death by Papacy--it overcame the saints during its 1260 years of power. This was a severe test of true saintship--Would they go into captivity and join in the usurpers ranks, or would they remain faithful to the true king and wait for the kingdom which he promised to establish? Those whose names were written in heaven, stuck to the sword and sealed their testimonies by death.
THE TWO-HORNED BEAST.
"And I saw another wild beast ascending from the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon." (Vs. 11.) If the preceding wild beast represented an ecclesiastical power, as we have just seen, then this beast called another should be understood to represent a similar ecclesiastical or church power.
As the first beast had ten horns, or powers which gave it their strength and protection, so this beast has "two horns" which indicates that two powers or governments will support it.
B. Could this refer to Mohametanism?
A. No, I think not; this revelation was not given to be a general history of the world, but was a revelation given to the church, and relates to matters and things closely related to the church's history. There is no reason, for giving an account of Mohametanism; for the same reason that it would have been useless to give a history of Confucianism, or Buddhism. None of these were christian systems, and though they were all anti-christian, yet they were openly so and not so harmful to real christianity. Papacy on the contrary, is mentioned because it attempted to palm itself off as the kingdom of Christ and to deceive, while really, it was the Dragon or Roman Empire united to an apostacy.
Again, notice that this beast "ascended (came gradually) out of the earth," while the first one came out of the Sea. Now, if our definitions of these symbols be correct--as the coming of Papacy from among the irreligious masses of the Roman empire, was shown by its coming out of the "sea," then the coming of this second beast out of the "earth" should signify that it sprung up among a professedly religious people.
B. I see the force of this: But can it refer to any of the branches of the Protestant churches?
A. I understand that the wounding of the Papal head, (referred to in vs. 3,) by the sword, (vs. 14) refers to the Reformation work, when Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Knox, and others, by advocating the teachings of the Word of God, as opposed to the teachings of Papacy, showed that it was the system referred to in Revelations, and in Paul's writings called the "Mystery of Iniquity"--"Anti-Christ" --"The Man of Sin." They struck so mightily at this Papal head, that the system had well nigh died; but as the cause of the Protest-ants became more popular, the sympathies of some in power came to be exercised on their behalf. Soon various small German kingdoms (princedom's) were found on the side of the Reformers, and lent their sanction to them rather than to Papacy. Soon Belgium, Holland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and others, withdrew all allegiance to their former head and RULER--the Pope; and though not acknowledging Luther, Calvin, or other, as a new head or spiritual emperor, they supported the various Reformation churches with state funds and protection. About this time also, (A.D. 1531) the church in England threw off her allegiance to Rome and became a separate ecclesiastical government. It thus followed exactly the example of Papacy, in blending civil with ecclesiastical power, and made the same person, Henry VIII. and his successors, head of all power.
The effect of this governmental favor upon the teachings of the reformers, can well be imagined. Once they had complained about empire and church being united in Papacy; had shown that the Virgin espoused to Christ awaiting His kingdom, was unfaithful to him (therefore termed a Harlot) when she united with, and leaned for support upon earthly powers. This part of their smiting with the "Sword of the Spirit," soon ceased, as they began to regard the favor and smile of earthly governments upon themselves. They could not consistently condemn in Papacy, what they themselves had come to enjoy and crave. It was their desire (lust) for power, name, and influence, to do a great work, and have many children, that led these daughters of Rome to follow the example of their mother--"Babylon the great, the mother of harlots." (Rev. 17:5.)
But, Brother B., do not forget that we are now talking of church SYSTEMS, and not of all who are under, or bound by, and serving those systems. We believe that the Lord has had dear children in all of these (Papal mother, as well as her daughters), who, in supporting them, verily think they do God service. This is the delusion which induced all but a few to respect the Papal BEAST as the [R320 : page 7] true empire of Christ, instead of waiting for "the Lord from heaven." From that ancient snare and deception of the devil, all the consecrated saints need to be liberated, and nothing but truth can liberate. The coming out of Babylon was commenced by the Reformers; but, as we have seen, their followers made only a brief journey, until to a great extent they fell into the same "snare of the fowler."
B. There are some who have evidently made more progress than those state churches you refer to in Europe. All the churches in U.S. of America are free and unsupported by the government.
A. Yes, knowledge and liberty in general are opponents of religious bondage and bigotry; but in many of these free organizations it is more because they cannot, than that they would not be supported by, and united to, civil power.
B. Well, now I am anxious to find proof of the second--the TWO HORNED BEAST. It cannot be all of those churches, can it? It must be some one church system, just as Papacy was one church system.
A. Exactly, it is one ecclesiastical system; and the two horns show that it is supported, and its authority recognized by two kingdoms.
B. Let me see: the Presbyterian church is the established church of Scotland, but of no other country; that would be but one horn. The Dutch Reformed church is the established church of a number of countries; that would be too many; and the same is true of the Lutheran.
A. Hold on, Bro. B.! You fall into a very natural mistake. Remember that to be simply aided, or supported by the empire does not make a symbolic "BEAST"; no, a BEAST is a government, and to become a symbolic beast, a church must needs become an element in, or part of the government. This was not the case in those you have mentioned. No, there is but one church which this symbol fits perfectly, viz.: The established "Church of England and Ireland." This system, like the Papal, was a blending of church and state-- an ecclesiastical empire.
In the year 1200 England became subject to the Pope. In 1531, owing to a dispute between her king, Henry VIII., and the Pope, England withdrew from allegiance to Papacy. The Convocation of its clergy, called the same year, in its decrees, declared King Henry VIII. to be "The one protector of the English Church, its only and SUPREME LORD; and as far as might be, by the law of Christ, ITS SUPREME HEAD." I quote the very words.
B. I am astonished; why those are the exact sentiments of Papacy; that is exactly the sense in which the Pope is recognized as Christ's Vicegerent. What a glorious representative of Jesus they had in Henry VIII., who, out of six wives, was divorced from two; beheaded two; and by many is supposed to have poisoned one. He was a worthy rival of some of the Popes as an Anti-christian claimant of headship to the church.
B. The reformation movement had not reached England at this time, and certainly it was much needed. The Clerical Convocation which could acknowledge such a head was certainly not far from being as corrupt as Papacy.
The fact that the title, "head of the church," was not an empty honor, may be judged from the historian's words--"At the same time it was ordained that no regard should be paid to censures which the Pope might pass on account of this law, and that Mass should be said and sacraments administered as usual. In 1534 all payments made to the apostolic chamber, and dispensations were abolished; monasteries were subjected to royal government, and exempted from all other; the right to summon Convocations, approve or reject canons [laws or doctrines enacted by the Convocation of clergy] and hear appeals from the Bishops, was vested in the King alone. Though now honored with the title of SUPREME HEAD OF THE CHURCH ON EARTH, Henry contemplated no change in the doctrines of the church; as then held. Indeed, it was not until 30 years or more after these steps, that the Roman Catholics and the Reformers [of the English Church] were looked upon as separate bodies, or had separate ministrations and separate places of worship."
Relative to the establishment of "the Church of England" as separate from the Papal church, another historian says: "Convocation declared that the Pope had no more authority in England, than any other bishop. The act of supremacy was passed, making Henry the head of the church, which act has been described as the epitome of all the measures which had been passed against the encroachments of the spiritual powers [of Rome] within and without the realm; and, as being at once, the symbol of the independence of England, and the declaration that thenceforth the civil magistrate was supreme within the English dominions over church as well as state."
B. I am inclined to think that these matters are very imperfectly understood by people in general. But are the same titles--"Supreme head of the church on earth," etc., still applied to English sovereigns?
A. Yes; and furthermore the crown worn shows the title, for it is surmounted by a cross. And the present "Great Seal of England," besides describing Victoria as the defender of the faith, illustrates it by a picture of the Queen, supported on either side by figures representing Justice and Religion, which sit at her feet. The Queen is shown as holding in her hand a globe (representing the earth), the upper half of which is light colored (representing Christianity), and this surmounted by a cross which in symbol declares her to be the supporter or head of the church universal.
This is the same exactly, as you see in the hands of the Popes in many pictures. It represents as a whole that this head of the church on earth, is the upholder, supporter of the truth.
Now, I need not remark that Jesus never gave this office to any one, but claims it himself; and any others who claim it are usurpers. Paul said: "Christ is the head of the church;" and that we are to "grow up into him in all things, which is the head even Christ." Again he repeats that God "gave Him to be the Head over all things to the church, which is His body." (Eph. 1:22; and 4:15; and 5:23; and Col. 1:18.) It is the church on earth that Paul is speaking of, hence any Pope, Queen, Council, Assembly, Conference, or any other man or company of men, who claim or exercise the powers of the true HEAD--Jesus, are opposing him. And all who support such by influence, presence, or money, are abettors of evil, and supporters of false SYSTEMS.
B. Now let us proceed--I am anxious to see whether this system (the English Church) fills the picture fully. The second BEAST had two horns; what two kingdoms (horns) supported this Church? Surely not Scotland; it has persistently refused its support and recognizes and supports the Presbyterian Church.
A. Don't forget the distinction we noticed between a church supported by a government, as in Scotland, and [R320 : page 8] a church united in the government, as in England--we have seen that it is the latter relationship which constitutes a BEAST.
Now let us see about the two horns: England of course was one of them, and I think I can give you satisfactory evidence that Ireland was the other. History says that in 1537 the Irish Parliament in Dublin "passed the act of supremacy, declaring Henry VIII. SUPREME HEAD OF THE CHURCH, prohibiting intercourse with the court of Rome, and making it treason to refuse the oath of supremacy." Henry VIII. also took the title of King of Ireland." Thus we see that the second horn came up within the brief space of five years after the first.
B. That fits well, indeed. The fact that Ireland was not a powerful horn matters not, for it was stronger than some that supported the Papal beast. I never saw a better case; surely we have, beyond a question, the SECOND BEAST, which has so puzzled all the commentators, though they saw clearly that Papacy was the Leopard. What effect results, from the disestablishment of the Church in Ireland?
A. From 1538 to 1871--333 years --the title of the church was "The Church of England and Ireland," thus recognizing both horns."
On January 1, 1871 (by action of parliament and the consent of the Queen, the head of the church) the Irish Church was disestablished, or that horn cast off. So, too, all of the horns which once supported Papacy have broken off from her; the difference being that in Papacy's case the horns have turned against her, and in the case of the second BEAST it casts off the Irish horn of itself, believing it to be a weakness rather than a strength. And it would not be at all remarkable if the second horn (England) would be separated from this beast (i.e., it would not be surprising if soon the church were to be separated from the state in England.) The "two horns like a lamb," would seem to indicate that this BEAST would be peaceably inclined--not inclined to be aggressive, but merely using the horns for defense.
B. I cannot see how the next part fits--He spake like the Dragon. This would seem to mark its utterances as being worse than Papacy's, which is not true.
A. But notice that it does not say the, but a dragon. We understand this to mean simply that its utterances resembled those of a purely civil (dragon) power, and in its words there would be little, to denote that it is an ecclesiastical government. All know how true this is.
"And all the authority of the first beast [Papacy] he executes in his presence [this shows that the second does not take the place of the first beast, but that they exist contemporaneously], and makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship [respect] [R321 : page 8] the first beast whose mortal wound was healed."
B. I can see, I think, how that verse was fulfilled. The Church of England claimed all the powers and authority which Papacy claimed. It claimed to be THE church; it acknowledged and repudiated some of the corruptions complained of by the reformers, such as the sale of indulgences, transubstantiation, etc., and abandoned those as well as the name Roman, for which they substituted the word HOLY, calling it the original "Holy Catholic Church." It claims the same governmental authority and the same veneration for its decrees as Papacy.*
The systems are based upon errors, and, like a corrupt tree, "cannot bring forth good fruit."
B. Name the principal error.
A. The very basis of both those systems, is their claim to be the "Kingdom of God" in reigning power. That idea once admitted justifies their persecution of individuals and nations, forcing them to submit and bow in obedience. Scripture accords those powers to the "kingdom of God"--when "the kingdom is the Lord's, and he is the Governor among the nations; all the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee." Psa. 22:27,28. He shall "dash them in pieces as a potter's vessel." Psa. 2:9. Unto him every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. (Phil. 2:11.) And if their claim be GOOD, who can object to them for carrying out the scriptural statements?
B. These Anti-christs, to make their claims of kingdom power appear true, had simply to take another step in compelling obedience, backing up their right to do so, by the Scriptures just quoted. And not only was this great evil sanctioned, but their claim once admitted, that the kingdom was established and the reign in progress, those who admitted it were hindered from looking for the true HEAD of the church; to set up the true kingdom under the whole heavens, which SHALL break in pieces present imperfect governments--establish righteousness in the earth and cause every knee to bow and every tongue to confess to the glory of God.
A. Yes, I agree with you; the next verses say, "And he does great signs, so that even fire he makes to come down from heaven to the earth in presence of men." (Vs. 13.) This government, like Papacy's claimed heavenly power, and its denunciations, were regarded as from heaven, judgments or fire being called down upon offenders.
"And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by the signs which it was given him to do in the presence of the [first] BEAST." (Vs. 14.) We make a distinction between the earth and those who dwell on it. As the EARTH symbolizes those obedient to and supporting the BEAST, so "those dwelling on the earth," we understand to mean independent Christians who do not support either of these systems.
THE IMAGE OF THE BEAST.
"Saying to them that dwell on the earth [independent companies of Christians] that they should make an IMAGE TO THE BEAST [Papacy], which had the wound by a sword and did live." She advised this by her example. From the year 1800 to 1846 was a time in which great numbers of new sects arose, whereas before that they were few and prominent. This gave rise to uneasiness among the various older denominations, who wondered whereunto this thing would lead. As the Bible came to be read more and more by the masses, occasional individuals would feel free to preach what they thought it taught, regardless of denominational creeds and the views of older sects. As a consequence Protestants were fast splitting up into fragments. They began to say, By what means shall we check and stop this disposition to individual thought and opinion relative to the teachings of Scripture? They wanted to stop the very thing God desired, viz.: that each individual should be free and independent of restraint, with his faith based, not on the views of others, not on the decisions of councils or presbyteries, nor in the decision of the Pope, nor in the things approved of the HEAD of the English Church, but in the WORD OF GOD.
The question came--How can we restrain these preachers? This was a quandary to all except the Roman and Episcopal Churches, since these both claimed the "Apostolic Succession," and that this by ordination, conferred upon their ministers special power and authority to preach and to administer the "Sacraments"; hence that no others had a right to do so, but were clerical pretenders. Other denominations could not claim this continuation of apostolic power through their preachers, but simply set them apart by prayer, consequently those of one denomination could not object, that the preachers of other denominations, as well as all laymen, were not as truly authorized of God to expound the Scriptures as their own clergy.
But the example of the church of England showed what a prestige she had by reason of the voice of authority with which she commanded a reverence for her clergy and her teachings. This teaching by example was not lost. The various denominations felt a necessity for some common STANDARD OF DOCTRINE which would be supported and upheld by all of them, and thus give prestige to their teachings, and bring the combined influence of all, AGAINST ANY FURTHER ADVANCE IN KNOWLEDGE or the development of any different phase of TRUTH. Thus they would protect themselves by being able to say--The combined opinion of all Protestants is against you; therefore you are HERETICS, and therefore we will shun you, and not call you brethren, but use all our influence against you.
This was done by the formation in 1846, of the "Evangelical Alliance." It was stated to be one of the objects of the Alliance (and we believe the principal one) to "Promote between the different EVANGELICAL denominations, an effective co-operation in the efforts to REPEL COMMON ENEMIES and DANGERS."
B. I do not understand you to oppose the Christians represented in that alliance, but their attempt to muzzle truth, and to prevent the opening up of any other truths buried by Papacy, than those which they had received.
A. Quite right, it is far from my wish to say they purposely combined against the unfolding of truth, nor would I say this of Papists. But I do say, that by their action they were following Papacy's tactics, and that in that Alliance they did make, the-- IMAGE OF THE BEAST.
And they have been in great measure successful. Very few denominations have sprung up since that Alliance put its measuring line upon men's minds, to decide what was, and what was not Evangelical, regardless of whether it be Scriptural or not. It has tended to make a separation clear and distinct between Clergy and Laity, as though they were of different races.
How much the IMAGE resembles the Papal BEAST may be judged from the fact that Papacy acknowledged the image--owned it as a creditable likeness--by the Pope's sending "GREETINGS" to the last meeting of the "Ev. Alliance"--1879. Strange to say the delegates to the Alliance had so far lost sight of the principles and doctrines which led to the protests against the Papal church, (that it was the Harlot church--Anti-Christ and Man of sin, mentioned in Scripture) that they actually felt FLATTERED by the Pontiff's notice, instead of becoming alarmed and examining how and WHY he who is "THE (chief) Antichrist," should feel pleased to greet them as follows. A prominent Presbyterian minister present at the above named meeting, mentioned the "Pope's Greeting" with evident pleasure and satisfaction, to the writer.
A prominent characteristic of the BEAST copied by the image is the honoring of the special class, the clergy, with special honors and titles. They are known as Revs., Divines, etc., but Jesus THE divine, said: "Ye call me Lord and Master, and ye say well, for so I am." "Be not ye called Rabbi, neither be ye called Master, for one is your Master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren" (Matt. 23:8). These titles are assumptions fashioned after those of Papacy.
When the various denominations began their existence, more full of the spirit of Christ they claimed no such high sounding titles. The Reformers were not known as Rev.__________, D.D., &c., but as John Knox, Martin Luther, John Wesley, &c. Unpretentious, like Jesus and the Apostles, they were intent upon serving God and therefore became the servants (ministers) of the church. These had marks of God's approval, and as a result, their ministry was wonderfully blest. But now the clergy are far from being servants, they are Lords. They have itching ears, loving the approval of men. As pride and worldliness have come in, vital godliness and power have gradually departed.
For the very same reason, they are losing all power to expound the Word of God--the gift of teaching--because "God abhoreth the proud but giveth grace (favor) to the humble." The early reformers were humble, and God led them into much knowledge of His Word, and although we are much farther along "the path of the just," and the servants should have [R322 : page 8] more light, yet we find ministers of all denominations ready to confess their ignorance of the Word. They appeal for their information, back to the early reformers, and thus confess that they have less light than they. Pride always has hindered growth in grace and does now. "How can ye believe who receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor which comes from God, only?" That their light should grow dim [R322 : page 9] and their spiritual life become dwarfed is the natural result of their joining the IMAGE and subscribing to creeds made in the fifteenth century, which, like the iron shoe of China, will not admit of any growth. It is a shoe a little larger than Papacy put upon its followers, but of the same sort.
Papacy established the clerical hierarchy, who lord it over God's heritage instead of serving their brethren as Jesus explained--"One is your Master and all ye are brethren," and as Paul said--We are to speak the truth in love and "grow up into Him in all things who is the head, even Christ; from whom the whole body fitly joined together (not by creeds of men, but by love begotten by the one Spirit of truth) and compacted by that which every joint supplieth." (Every joint is every member, not the clergy only.) "Maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." Thus coming "to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God." Eph. 4:15,16.
As Papacy established the priesthood over the church, so Protestantism has established almost the same, and there is no opportunity for the body to edify itself, every joint taking part. True, there is a seeming show of liberty at prayer-meetings, etc., but it is only upon the surface, for the ordained pastor is to watch zealously lest anything contrary to the teachings of his church should be expressed, and if so to silence the audacious member at once, for the church creed is the rule, not the Word of God. If this is not sufficient, they must have a sort of church trial and excommunicate him ["kill him"]. The trial, by the way, gives evidence of another likeness to the beast, namely, the exaltation of the teachings of the organization above the Word of God, for all such are tried according to "the authorities" of their church.
"And it was given him [the two horned beast] to give life to the image of the Beast." (Vs. 15.)
It may not be known to many how much stress was laid upon the "Apostolic succession," which was supposed to be a virtue transmitted through hundreds of years of Papal corruption, by the laying on of the hands of Bishops. This, of course, was vested in the Roman church and also in the English church, on account of its being at first, rather a secession from Papacy, than a reformation.
To many minds, even among the clergy, there was a veneration for that ceremony, which neither Papacy nor the English Church were averse to promoting.
In the introduction of Methodism in the United States much difficulty was experienced because of Mr. John Wesley's superstition on this subject. He would not sanction the giving of the "Sacrament" by any except those ordained by the holy hands of an Episcopal Bishop. Thus up to 1784, Methodists could only partake of the Sacraments from Episcopal ministers (ordained). The independence war tended to make the Methodist preachers independent, and the expediency of taking the authority was discussed. John Wesley heard of this, and applied to the English Church to have at least one Methodist minister ordained for the American Church. Finally, in despair, he did the best he knew how to patch up an "apostolic succession." He with two other ministers (none of them bishops) ordained Thomas Coke to the office of Bishop, and from this sprang the office of Bishop in the M.E. Church.
I relate this only to show the superstition of even so great and good men as the Wesleys, on this subject.
Now, none of these allied sects had the succession except the Episcopal, and its recognition of the Alliance (Image) gave it vitality--breath-- authority, "That the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the IMAGE OF THE BEAST, should be killed." (Vs. 15.)
The worship and the killing are symbolic as well as the Image, and this signifies that all who will not bow to the decrees of the Evangelical Alliance shall be esteemed as heretics, shunned and cast out by all who are ORTHODOX, (?) i.e., all who worship its decrees and agree to believe neither more nor less than is stated in its nine articles of creed. Now the various sects have a sort of backing in this organization, and each may act as the mouthpiece of the Image, in denouncing as heresy, all matter not included in this general creed, and in cutting off or ecclesiastically beheading those who differ. (See Rev. 20:4.)
B. I see, and to be cut off from any one church now, implies dismemberment from all orthodox churches; which implies of course, that you are a heretic, and not at all a son of God.
A. Yes, to all who regard these earthly institutions as the real churches; but to those of us who regard only the heavenly organization, and who look for the smile of the true Head of the church only, and who accept His Word as the only limitation of faith and knowledge; such cannot worship either the BEAST or his IMAGE, after they come to realize it, but will "worship God" only.
IMAGE worship is hindering hundreds from seeing the beauties of the Word of God. They may perhaps glance at it, and for a moment think for themselves, but that is all. The church discipline is so strict, and they reverence it so much, that a look or frown is sufficient to warn them that independent thought is a dangerous thing, and must not be indulged in, lest they be regarded as infidels. Would that all could see that these local organizations called churches are not THE CHURCH, but that the Church of God includes all Christians, all whose names are written in Heaven, and that when these local organizations attempt to come between them as children, and God their Father, or to put their creed instead of the Word of God, their assumed authority is not to be recognized, nor tolerated; and that it is our duty to rebuke it as sinful.
"And he causes all, the little [humble] and the great, the rich and the poor, and the freemen and bondmen, that they should give themselves a mark on their right hand, or on their forehead; so that no one may be able to buy or sell unless he who has the MARK--the name of the beast or the number of his name." (Vss. 16,17.)
All classes of Christians must bow; all must, in some way, give evidence of their support of the Image and consecration to its interests and laws; either a public, open profession of being members of the alliance, and hence supporters (mark in forehead) or at least a giving of some assistance and influence to the principles of Image organization--(the right hand support).
B. How about the buying and selling?
A. That, like the other features, is symbolic: The buying and selling, refers to dealing in spiritual things. None may be recognized as having any right to teach or preach or baptize or administer the emblems of our Lord's death, except those LICENSED to do so by some orthodox member of the Image. And acts of such persons are not counted valid.
B. Truly these things fit together wonderfully; nor should it surprise us that in giving an account of the church and its later times, all three of these great systems should be mentioned thus by our Lord. The English Church system is certainly a BEAST in the same sense as Papacy was, with the different characteristics noted; and the Evangelical Alliance is certainly a perfect IMAGE of it. It is what in politics or business would be termed a "ring"--a religious ring or monopoly, organized to hinder others from going into the work of truth seeking.
A. You will notice that this 17th verse indicates that the name is the mark--the name of the Beast or the number of his name. "The next verse seems to indicate, that this name and number are, in some sense, a secret, and that it will indicate wisdom, or a correct knowledge of the foregoing symbols, if we are able to solve the mystery of the name which is symbolically given as 666." Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding [of the foregoing symbol, prove it by a proper application of the following number] compute the number of the Beast, for it is a man's number [or reckoned after a human manner]; and his number is 666.
"THE NAME OF THE BEAST,
THE NUMBER OF HIS NAME."
B. Have you been able to descipher the name and number? I have heard of many who have tried all sorts of names and applications, but none of them ever seemed reasonable to me.
A. The same has been my difficulty. A little over a year ago I spoke on the subject of this same chapter to the name-less little company of "this way," in Lynn, Mass., and concluded my remarks by telling them that I had never seen a satisfactory explanation of the 666. And, though I thought I had given a correct analysis of the symbols of the chapter, yet I could not claim it to be wisdom, since I could not interpret the number. I suggested, however, that if ours be the correct understanding of the time in which we are living--the "harvest" of the age--and if our general application of these symbols be correct, the number should soon be understood. I urged examination on the subject by all, for the Lord is sometimes pleased to give wisdom through the weakest of his children. "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast ordained praise." [R323 : page 9]
About three months after, I received a long letter from one of the thinking brethren of that place, saying that he thought he had the key; and I think he has; it certainly fits the lock in every particular. I will give it to you very much as he suggested it. His process of reasoning was as follows:
Jesus, who gave this revelation to us (Rev. 1:1), well knew that this symbol could not be understood until about the present time, for the reason that the Image was only made in 1846. Jesus also knew, of course, that English would be the language used by probably four-fifths of his earnest truth-seeking children, in the "time of the end." He knew, also, that not many wise, not many great, not many learned in all languages would be of the chosen "little flock." Moreover, it was his custom to adapt his teachings to the "common people," and of this sort his Jewels have been from, the twelve disciples and since.
Therefore it would appear that the number 666, should be open to the comprehension of us all--we being the ones told to count--as much so as were the other symbolic numbers of Danl. and Rev. Let us try, then, to apply these figures in English.* [This is the first application in English, known to the writer, but the reasonableness of it is obvious.]
Roman Catholic power = 666.
123456 123456 123456
He is in Revelation called a BEAST
Roman Catholic "Beast" = 666.
The system is also called the "woman" (Rev. 17:18)
Roman Catholic "woman" = 666.
She calls herself the
"Holy Catholic Church" = 666.
She is really and truly (Rev. 17:5)
"The Mother of Harlots" = 666.
Thus we see that the number fits the BEAST well.
The second BEAST was anxious to have exactly the same name, and in fact it claimed to have the pre-eminent right to the name--
"Holy Catholic church," = 666.
Other names by which it is often known, are--
"English State Church," = 666.
"The Episcopal Church," = 666.
"Episcopalian Church," = 666.
"The Church of England," = 666.
This application of the number, will doubtless appear to some too simple to be accepted, but thus God ever deals with us--hiding truth under the vail of its own simplicity, so that it may appear to the Greek (worldly wise) foolishness, but unto them which believe (not to those who believe without evidence, but who believe on the strongest kind of evidence --the harmony of His Word) the power of God, and the wisdom of God. (1 Cor. 1:23.)
The Image causes all who claim relationship, or whom it recognizes, as having a right to buy or sell-- teach--to have as a creed, that which shall mark them as having either "the name" of the BEAST, or the "number" of his name--666. Many take the name and in their creeds recite, "I believe in the
"Holy Catholic Church" = 666.
Among those who thus openly mark themselves in their forehead (by their creeds) are Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians and others. But others give a seeming support (mark in their hand) to the general principal by organizing under various sectarian names. After these are blended in the IMAGE, (and no one would be admitted to membership in the Evangelical Alliance, unless he be a member of some such sect), they all are collectively known as the
"Protestant Churches," = 666.Which we see contains the Beast's number.
If we for instance were to organize, though we protest more than all others against the errors of Rome, and [R323 : page 10] also against the errors of the Image and second BEAST, yet we would not be reckoned one of the "Protestant churches," because we would not be recognized as orthodox--They would not count our organization a church.
Should you inquire for our meetings and ask--Is that a protestant church which meets here? the answer would come--Oh, no; they are not Evangelical. They have no creed to mark them, so that the Alliance can decide whether they are an Evangelical Protestant Church or not.
B. This does truly seem wonderful. I can see how some have it in their foreheads, making manifest by their creeds, forms, and titles, that which marks them as being partakers of some of the abominations of system and doctrine, which for centuries has been the mark of the Leopard BEAST.
I can see, too, as I never saw before, that many of the mightiest WORKERS in the nominal church are working for their own section, arm or branch of this Image. I can see how much of what purports to be WORK FOR JESUS, may in reality, be devotion and sacrifice to the building up of a sect, or the carrying out of some humanly imposed burden.
But I think we should always discriminate between the SYSTEMS, and those dear ones, some of whom seem to possess so much of the Spirit of Christ, who are bound by them.
A. I fully agree with you; the distinction should be always remembered. But let me say that I think quite a good many, are still connected with and lending their names and influence to these organizations, which are BEAST marked, who are in heart out of all sympathy with them, and who hate as anti-Christ, every system which would in any sense take the place of the true HEAD of the church; and who will neither worship Conferences, Presbyteries, or Popes, but who "worship God." These, however, are fast becoming aware that membership in the true church, (whose names are written in heaven,) is in no way affected by the disfellowship of the various human organizations, each calling itself the true church. They are learning too, that the true communion of saints and union of hearts, is dependent, not on creeds to bind together as members of ONE BODY, but on love and common interest in the HEAD and in each other, in whom we find the head's spirit of love and obedience to the Father's word.
B. I know that you believe the Jewish Church to have been a picture or shadow of the nominal Gospel Church. Do you find any parallel to this Image worship in the shadow?
A. Yes, Israel was carried captive to Babylon; there an Image was set up, and all were commanded to worship it.
We have heretofore seen that Babylon, to be a type, or shadow of the nominal church. It is for this reason that the name Babylon is applied to it in Revelation. Papacy's was the greatest confusion or mixture of church and world, but all the reforms have been but partial, and the reformed churches are in much of the same confused (Babylon) condition. Papacy was "Babylon the GREAT" (Rev. 17:5), but in the time of "HARVEST" the Lord calls the entire system BABYLON. Here, as in the shadow, the command first comes for all to worship the HEAD of Babylon (Papacy), and afterward an IMAGE was made, and all were commanded to worship it. In the first type, Daniel alone refused to worship any but the true God. (Dan. 6:7.) In the second type there were more-- the three "Israelites indeed," refused to worship the Image. (Dan. 3:18.) So, too, the number of true ones who are not worshiping the Image now, are probably three to one, who did not worship the Beast. For their refusal they were bound and cast into a fiery furnace. So here those who do not worship the IMAGE are bound, hindered, their influence circumscribed, and they are speedily in a "FIERY FURNACE"--of tribulation, either in their families or communities or in their business. In the words of Revelation--they are killed and hindered from buying and selling. But behold, they were unharmed by the fire; it will soon be manifest to all, that they are not bound, and furthermore that there is with them the form of the FOURTH. Yes, the HEAD--the TRUE HEAD is with those who will not bow when all others bow; who heed not the enchanting music of the hour; these are overcomers. (See Dan. 3:6.)
As in the type deliverance came, so in the antitype, deliverance will fully come--the first resurrection glory--to those who have "not worshiped the BEAST, neither his IMAGE, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads or in their hands; and THEY lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years--this is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that have part in the first resurrection." Rev. 20:4-6. [page 10]
B. O, my brother, I realize that the victor, in God's sight, is no half-hearted, no half-consecrated one, but one willing and glad to follow the Word of his God, and trust in it though opposed by all the Scribes, Pharisees, and hypocrites--those who will be tested in their love and respect for God by the strongest attachments, and yet prove themselves faithful by overcoming.
A. Yes, brother--
[R323 : page 10]
Dare to be a Daniel,
Dare to stand alone;
Dare to have your purpose firm,
And dare to make it known."