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to that same time.” As our Lord himself has expressed it, -" In those days shall be affliction such as was not from the beginning of the creation, which God created, unto this time, neither shall be. And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved; but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.”—“And there shall be signs in the
. sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring, men's hearts failing them for fear and for looking after those things which are coming upon the earth; for the powers of heaven shall be shaken," &c.
How this mighty revolution is to be accomplished, what is meant by the great city dividing, in the midst of the earthquake, into three parts, - the falling of the cities of the nations,- and Babylon's drinking of the cup of the fierceness of wrath, and how these things are connected with the battle of Armageddon, the awful event can, perhaps, alone explain particularly. One thing we perceive under the veil of prophecy : these judgments produce no moral reformation; the sufferers continue blasphemers of God: the work of destruction must, therefore, be entire.
But more is told us respecting this day of wonders, to which it is our duty and privilege to give most diligent heed.
The Judgment of the great Whore and of the mystic
Babylon announced, Chapters xvii. and xviii. Chap. xvii. “ And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come
hither, and I will show unto you the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters, 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 fornications."
The known symbol of an adulteress, or harlot, for an apostate church, will sufficiently prepare us for what we are to expect:
3. “ So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet-coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 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. And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth. 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.”
However plain the fulfilment has made this prediction to the present readers of prophecy, we may well conceive that to St. John it would appear most perplexing. But on this occasion, as was usually vouchsafed to Daniel, an angel is sent to explain the symbol:
7. “ And the angel said to me, Wherefore didst thon marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carrieth her, with seven heads and ten horns. The beast which thou sawest was and is not, and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit and go into perdition."
That is to say, it is the same beast that the apostle had before seen, rising out of the sea, as described in the thirteenth chapter-as we have seen-the revived Roman empire. The beast was not when one of his heads was wounded to death, and was again, when that deadly wound, as there represented, was healed.
All the world, except the elect of God, it was there declared, would worship this revived empire. So it is repeated by the angel in the passage before us :
“ And they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast, that he was, and is not, and yet is."
The very elect are not deceived. It is not possible. But how awful the reflection, that all who are deceived by that religion which the revived Roman empire supports and upholds, are rejected of God, and are not numbered with his people! The angel proceeds:
9. “ And here is the mind that hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.”
This is one circumstance pointed out to the reflecting mind, as denoted by the seven heads; and the known situation of imperial Rome, on its seven celebrated hills, is too plain to be mistaken: we cannot now doubt where we are to look for the dwelling of the “ great whore.” Wonderful, indeed, must it have appeared in the age of St. John, that the apostate church should one day possess, in sovereign state, the capital of the Roman empire, and should, from the seven hills, deal out her spiritual corruptions, to intoxicate and subdue the same world that the legions of the imperial city had conquered with the sword. But now we must shut our eyes, indeed, if we refuse to recognise, in this emblem of the woman
1 For καιπερ εστιν, Griesbach has και παρέσται.
sitting on the scarlet beast, the vaunted apostolical see of Rome —" Mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots," - as the churches in the Roman Catholic communion remarkably express themselves, when they speak of the Romish church -“Rome, MOTHER AND MISTRESS."
But these heads of the beast are intended to be an emblem of something further in the structure of the Roman empire :
10. “ And there are seven kings; five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.”
Kings, as we have seen, denote, in prophetic language, forms of government. The Roman empire was to have seven during the long period of its reign upon earth. “ Five were" already“ fallen” at the era in which St. John wrote the Apocalypse. History has explained these to have been - kings, consuls, dictators, decemvirs, and consular tribunes; one, the sixth head, was at that time in existence, namely, the imperial. The other was not yet come; when he came, he was to continue for a short time:
11. “ And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition."
Expositors have differed in their explanation of this part of the symbol. But so far seems plain; that the revived Roman empire is identified all along, or very nearly so, - from the time of its revival till it goes into perdition with the eighth head; and that this eighth head is not properly a new head, but “ of the seven."
This has been explained: the titular imperial head of the
divided empire, who has existed all the time of the Roman Catholic dynasties, though he possesses not the power and authority of Augustus and the Cæsars, yet is deemed and called their successor: so that he is an emperor as well as they. Thus may he be said to be “ of the seven.”
” What is to be counted as the seventh, on this hypothesis, has created some difficulty: but it has been observed, that Charlemagne, and some of his predecessors, held the sovereign civil authority of Rome, under the title of patrician, before he received that of emperor. This head was to last but a little while. The space of the patrician government was comparatively very short, in respect of the imperial sway: and yet this form of government of the Roman city might be important enough to be numbered, with decemvirs and consular tribunes, among the heads of the beast; and, under Charles at least,—and virtually under the earlier Gothic conquerors of Italy,-- it was certainly an independent sovereign power. As Mr. Gibbon observes : :
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.”
Such was nearly Mr. Faber's original explanation of these symbols; but he has, in his latest publication, adopted a new hypothesis. He makes the revival of the western empire, by Charlemagne, to be the healing of the deadly wound, and the restoring of the sixth head of the beast; which headship, he says, continued till the forced renunciation of the imperial titles by the present Austrian monarch, when a new headship— the seventh-was seen
This “ original and self-in- rors, and, in a manner, acknowherent claim of sovereignty," it ledged till the coronation of Charles. may, however, be objected, was See Gibbon. all this time in the Greek empe