The beast rising out of the sea with seven heads, ten horns, and ten crowns, Revelation 13:1. His description, power, blasphemy, cruelty, etc., Revelation 13:2-10. The beast coming out of the earth with two horns, deceiving the world by is false miracles, and causing every one to receive his mark in their right hand, Revelation 13:11-17. His number, 666, Revelation 13:18.
And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea - Before we can proceed in the interpretation of this chapter, it will be highly necessary to ascertain the meaning of the prophetic symbol beast, as the want of a proper understanding of this term has probably been one reason why so many discordant hypotheses have been published to the world. In this investigation it is impossible to resort to a higher authority than Scripture, for the Holy Ghost is his own interpreter. What is therefore meant by the term beast in any one prophetic vision, the same species of thing must be represented by the term whenever it is used in a similar manner in any other part of the sacred oracles. Having therefore laid this foundation, the angel's interpretation of the last of Daniel's four beasts need only be produced, an account of which is given in the seventh chapter of this prophet. Daniel being very desirous to "know the truth of the fourth beast which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, and of the ten horns that were on his head," the angel thus interprets the vision: "The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise," etc. In this scripture it is plainly declared that the fourth beast should be the fourth kingdom upon earth; consequently, the four beasts seen by Daniel are four kingdoms: hence the term beast is the prophetic symbol for a kingdom.
As to the nature of the kingdom which is represented by the term beast, we shall obtain no inconsiderable light in examining the most proper meaning of the original word חיה chaiyah. This Hebrew word is translated in the Septuagint by the Greek word θηριον, and both words signify what we term a wild beast; and the latter is the one used by St. John in the Apocalypse. Taking up the Greek word θηριον in this sense, it is fully evident, if a power be represented in the prophetical writings under the notion of a wild beast, that the power so represented must partake of the nature of a wild beast. Hence an earthly belligerent power is evidently designed. And the comparison is peculiarly appropriate; for as several species of wild beasts carry on perpetual warfare with the animal world, so most governments, influenced by ambition, promote discord and depopulation. And, also, as the carnivorous wild beast acquires its strength and magnitude by preying upon the feebler animals; so most earthly monarchies are raised up by the sword, and derive their political consequence from the unsuccessful resistance to the contending nations. The kingdom of God, on the other hand, is represented as "a stone cut out of the mountain without hands;" and is never likened to a beast, because it is not raised up by the sword as all other secular powers are, but sanctifies the persons under its subjection; in which last particular it essentially differs from all other dominations.
This beast is said to rise up out of the sea, in which particular it corresponds with the four beasts of Daniel; the sea is therefore the symbol of a great multitude of nations, as has already been proved; and the meaning is, that every mighty empire is raised upon the ruins of a great number of nations, which it has successfully contended against and incorporated with its dominions. The sea, here, is doubtless the same against the inhabiters of which a wo was denounced, Revelation 12:12; for St. John was standing upon the sand of the sea when the vision changed from the woman and the dragon to that recorded in this chapter. It therefore follows that the kingdom or empire here represented by the beast, is that which sprung up out of the ruins of the Western Roman empire.
Having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns - The beast here described is the Latin empire, which supported the Romish or Latin Church; for it has upon his horns ten crowns, i.e., is an empire composed of ten distinct monarchies in the interest of the Latin Church. See the heads and horns fully explained in the notes on Revelation 17:10 (note), Revelation 17:12 (note), and Revelation 17:16 (note).
As the phrases Latin Church, Latin empire, etc., are not very generally understood at present, and will occur frequently in the course of the notes on this and the 17th chapter, it will not be improper here to explain them. During the period from the division of the Roman empire into those of the east and west, till the final dissolution of the western empire, the subjects of both empires were equally known by the name of Romans. Soon after this event the people of the west lost almost entirely the name of Romans, and were denominated after their respective kingdoms which were established upon the ruins of the western empire. But as the eastern empire escaped the ruin which fell upon the western, the subjects of the former still retained the name of Romans, and called their dominion Ἡ Ῥωμαΐκη βασιλεια, the Roman empire; by which name this monarchy was known among them till its final dissolution in 1453, by Mohammed II., the Turkish sultan. But the subjects of the eastern emperor, ever since the time of Charlemagne or before, (and more particularly in the time of the crusades and subsequently), called the western people, or those under the influence of the Romish Church, Latins, and their Church the Latin Church. And the western people, in return, denominated the eastern Church the Greek Church, and the members of it Greeks. Hence the division of the Christian Church into those of the Greek and Latin. For a confirmation of what has just been said the reader may consult the Byzantine writers, where he will find the appellations Ῥωμαιοι and Λατινοι, Romans and Latins, used in the sense here mentioned in very numerous instances. The members of the Romish Church have not been named Latins by the Greeks alone; this term is also used in the public instruments drawn up by the general popish councils, as may be instanced in the following words, which form a part of a decree of the council of Basil, dated Sept. 26, 1437: Copiosissimam subventionem pro unione Graecorum cums Latinis, "A very great convention for the union of the Greeks with the Latins." Even in the very papal bulls this appellation has been acknowledged, as may be seen in the edict of Pope Eugenius IV., dated Sept. 17, 1437, where in one place mention is made of Ecclesiae Latinorum quaesita unio, "the desired union of the Church of the Latins;" and in another place we read, Nec superesse modum alium prosequendi operis tam pii, et servandi latinae Ecclesiae honoris, "that no means might be left untried of prosecuting so pious a work, and of preserving the honor of the Latin Church." See Corps Diplomatique, tom. iii., pp. 32, 35. In a bull of the same pontiff, dated Sept., 1439, we have Sanctissima Latinorum et Graecorum unio, "the most holy union of the Greeks with the Latins." See Bail's Summa Conciliorum, in loc. By the Latin empire is meant the whole of the powers which support the Latin Church.
And upon his heads the name of blasphemy - Ονουα βλασφημιας· A name of blasphemy. This has been variously understood. Jerome and Prosper give it as their opinion that the name of blasphemy consists in the appellation urbs aeterna, eternal city, applied to Rome; and modern commentators refer it to the idolatrous worship of the Romans and papists. Before we attempt to ascertain the meaning of this passage, it must be first defined what the Holy Spirit means by a name of blasphemy. Blasphemy, in Scripture, signifies impious speaking when applied to God, and injurious speaking when directed against our neighbor. A name of blasphemy is the prostitution of a sacred name to an unholy purpose. This is evident from the 9th verse of the second chapter of the Apocalypse, where God says, "I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan." These wicked men, by calling themselves Jews, blasphemed the name, i.e., used it in an injurious sense; for he Only is a Jew who is one inwardly. Hence the term Jews applied to the synagogue of Satan is a name of blasphemy, i.e. a sacred name blasphemed. A name of blasphemy, or a blasphemous appellation, is said to be upon all the seven heads of the beast. To determine what this name is, the meaning of the seven heads in this place must be ascertained. If the reader refer to the notes on Revelation 17:9-11, he will find that the heads are explained to have a double meaning, viz., that they signify the seven electorates of the German empire, and also seven forms of Latin government. As this is the first place in which the heads of the beast are mentioned with any description, it is reasonable to expect that that signification of the heads which is first in order in the angel's interpretation, Revelation 17:9, must be what is here intended. This is, "the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sitteth;" the name of blasphemy will consequently be found upon the seven electorates of Germany. This, therefore, can be no other than that which was common, not only to the electorates but also to the whole empire of Germany, or that well known one of Sacrum Imperium Romanum, "The Sacred (or Holy) Roman Empire." Here is a sacred appellation blasphemed by its application to the principal power of the beast. No kingdom can properly be called holy but that of Jesus; therefore it would be blasphemy to unite this epithet with any other power. But it must be horridly blasphemous to apply it to the German empire, the grand supporter of antichrist from his very rise to temporal authority. Can that empire be holy which has killed the saints, which has professed and supported with all its might an idolatrous system of worship? It is impossible. Therefore its assumption of sacred or holy (which appellation was originally given to the empire from its being the main support of what is termed the holy catholic Church, the emperor being styled, on this account, Christ's temporal vicar upon earth: see Caesarini Furstenerii Tractatus De Suprematu Principum Germaniae, cc. 31, 32) is, in the highest sense the word can be taken, a name of blasphemy. The name of blasphemy is very properly said to be upon the seven heads of the beast, or seven electorates of the German empire, because the electors are styled Sacri Imperii Principes Electores, Princes, Electors of the Holy Empire; Sacri Romani Imperii Electores, Electors of the Holy Roman Empire.
And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard - This similitude of the beast to a leopard appears to be an allusion to the third beast of Daniel, which is well known to represent the empire of the Greeks. The Latin empire greatly resembled the modern empire of the Greeks; for that the power of the Greeks was still said to be like a leopard, even after its subjugation by the Romans, is evident from Daniel 7:12 : "As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away; yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time." The Latin empire was, in the first place, like to its contemporary, because both adhered to an idolatrous system of worship, professedly Christian, but really antichristian; and it is well known that the Greek and Latin Churches abound in monstrous absurdities. Secondly, Both empires were similar in their opposition to the spread of pure Christianity; though it must be allowed that the Latins far outstripped the Greeks in this particular. Thirdly, Both empires were similar in respect to the civil authority being powerfully depressed by the ecclesiastical; though it must be granted the authority of the Latin Church was more strongly marked, and of much longer continuance. The excommunication of the Greek emperor by the Patriarch Arsenius, and the consequences of that excommunication, afford a remarkable example of the great power of the Greek clergy. But the beast of St. John, though in its general appearance it resembles a leopard, yet differs from it in having feet like those of a bear. The second beast of Daniel was likened to a bear, and there can be no doubt that the kingdom of the Medes and Persians was intended; and it is very properly likened to this animal, because it was one of the most inhuman governments that ever existed, and a bear is the well known Scripture emblem of cruelty. See 2 Samuel 17:8, and Hosea 13:8. Is not cruelty a striking characteristic of the papal Latin empire? Have not the subjects of this empire literally trampled to death all those in their power who would not obey their idolatrous requisitions? In Fox's Book of Martyrs, and other works which treat upon this subject, will be found a melancholy catalogue of the horrid tortures and most lingering deaths which they have obliged great numbers of Christians to suffer. In this sense the feet of the beast were as the feet of a bear. Another particular in which the beast differed from a leopard was, in having a mouth like a lion. "It is," says Dr. More, "like the Babylonish kingdom (the first beast of Daniel, which is likened to a lion) in its cruel decrees against such as will not obey their idolatrous edicts, nor worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Their stubbornness must be punished by a hot fiery furnace; fire and fagot must be prepared for them that will not submit to this new Roman idolatry."
And the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority - It was said of the dragon, in Revelation 12:8, that his place was found no more in heaven; the dragon here cannot therefore be the heathen Roman empire, as this was abolished previously to the rising up of the beast. It must then allude to the restoration of one of the Draconic heads of the beast, as will be seen in the explanation of the following verse, and more fully in the notes on Revelation 17:1-18.
And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death - This is the second and last place where the heads of the beast are mentioned with any description; and therefore the meaning here must be forms of government, as these were noticed last in the angel's double explanation. The head that was wounded to death can be no other than the seventh draconic head, which was the sixth head of the beast, viz., the imperial power; for "this head," as Bishop Newton observes, "was, as it were, wounded to death when the Roman empire was overturned by the northern nations, and an end was put to the very name of emperor in Momyllus Augustulus." It was so wounded that it was wholly improbable that it could ever rise again to considerable power, for the western empire came into the possession of several barbarous nations of independent interests.
And his deadly wound was healed - This was effected by Charlemagne, who with his successors assumed all the marks of the ancient emperors of the west, with the titles of Semper Augustus, Sacred Majesty, First Prince of the Christian World, Temporal Chief of the Christian People, and Rector or Temporal Chief of the Faithful in Germany; Mod. Universal History, vol. xxxii., p. 79. But it is said in Revelation 13:2 that the dragon gave the beast his power, δυναμιν, his armies or military strength; i.e., he employed all his imperial power in defense of the Latin empire, which supported the Latin Church. He also gave his seat, θρονον, literally his throne, to him: that is, his whole empire formed an integral part of the Latin empire, by its conversion to the Roman Catholic faith. He also gave him great authority. This is literally true of the Roman empire of Germany, which, by its great power and influence in the politics of Europe, extended the religion of the empire over the various states and monarchies of Europe, thus incorporating them as it were in one vast empire, by uniting them in one common faith.
And all the world wondered after the beast - Ὁλη ἡ γη· All the earth. As the original word signifies earth, and not world as in our translation, the Latin world, which is the earth of the beast, is here intended; and the meaning of the passage consequently is, that the whole body of the Roman Catholics were affected with great astonishment at the mighty sway of the Latin empire, considering it as a great and holy power.
And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?And they worshipped the dragon - Worshipping the dragon here evidently means the voluntary religious subjection of the members of the Latin Church to the revived western empire, because of the eminent part it has taken in the support of their faith.
And they worshipped the beast - Not only the dragon or revived western empire was worshipped; the beast, the whole Latin empire, is a partaker in the adoration. The manner in which it is worshipped consists in the subjects of it: -
Saying, Who is like unto the beast? - Is it not the only holy power in the universe? Is it possible for any person not a subject of it to be saved?
Who is able to make war with him? - Can any nation successfully fight with it? Is not the Roman empire, which is its principal bulwark, invictissimum, most invincible? Invictissimus, most invincible, was the peculiar attribute of the emperors of Germany. See modern Universal History, vol. xxxii., p. 197.
And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things - That is, There was given to the rulers of the Latin empire, who are the mouth of the beast, (and particularly the Roman emperors of Germany), power to assume great and pompous titles, indicative of their mighty sway over many subjugated countries, (see the imperial instruments of the middle centuries in the Corps Diplomatique), and also to utter against their opponents the most terrible edicts.
And blasphemies - The system of worship supported by the beast is a system of blasphemy, as there will be occasion to show presently.
And power was given unto him to continue forty and two months - As these forty-two months are prophetic, they must mean so many years as there are days contained in them; viz., 1260, each month containing 30 days. The beast, therefore, will continue in existence at least 1260 years; but when the termination of this period will take place is difficult to say, as the beginning cannot be at present indubitably ascertained.
And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name - The Latin empire is here represented as a blasphemous power in three respects. First, he blasphemes the name of God. This has been most notoriously the case with the different popish princes, who continually blaspheme the sacred names of God by using them in their idolatrous worship. The mouth of blasphemy against God cannot be more evident than in the following impious words which form a part of the Golden Bull published by Charles IV. in January, 1356: "But thou, envy, how often hast thou attempted to ruin by division the Christian empire, which God hath founded upon the three cardinal virtues, faith, hope, and charity, as upon a holy and indivisible Trinity, vomiting the old venom of discord among the seven electors, who are the pillars and seven principal members of the holy empire; by the brightness of whom the holy empire ought to be illuminated as by seven torches, the light of which is reinforced by the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit!"
And his tabernacle - Tabernacle is any kind of dwelling place, and in an eminent sense among the Jews was a kind of tent to take up and down as occasion required, which was as it were the palace of the Most High, the dwelling of the God of Israel. It was divided into two partitions, one called the holy place, and the other the most holy place, in the latter of which, before the building of the temple, the ark of the covenant was kept, which was a symbol of God's gracious presence with the Jewish Church. All this the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, in the eighth and ninth chapters, explains to prefigure the human nature of Christ. The beast's blasphemy of the tabernacle of God is, therefore, as Dr. More and others properly observe, his impious doctrine of transubstantiation, in which it is most blasphemously asserted that the substance of the bread and wine in the sacrament is literally converted by the consecration of the priest, into the very body and blood of Jesus Christ! This doctrine was first advanced among the Latins in the tenth century; and in 1215, fully received as an article of the Roman Catholic faith. It is for the pages of ecclesiastical history to record the incredible numbers which have been martyred by the papists for their non-reception of this most unscriptural and antichristian doctrine.
And them that dwell in heaven - By heaven is here meant the throne of God, and not the throne of the beast, because it is against God the beast blasphemes. This must therefore allude to his impious adoration of the saints and angels, whose residence is in heaven. He blasphemes against God by paying that adoration to the celestial inhabitants which belongs to God alone. That this sort of worship has been and still is kept up among the Roman Catholics, their mass book is a sufficient evidence.
And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them - "Who can make any computation," says Bishop Newton, "or even frame any conception, of the numbers of pious Christians who have fallen a sacrifice to the bigotry and cruelty of Rome? Mede upon the place hath observed, from good authorities, that in the war with the Albigenses and Waldenses there perished of these poor creatures in France alone a million. From the first institution of the Jesuits to the year 1580, that is, in little more than thirty years, nine hundred thousand orthodox Christians were slain, and these all by the common executioner. In the space of scarce thirty years the inquisition destroyed, by various kinds of torture, a hundred and fifty thousand Christians. Sanders himself confesses that an innumerable multitude of Lollards and Sacramentarians were burnt throughout all Europe, who yet, he says, were not put to death by the pope and bishops, but by the civil magistrates." The dragon in a new shape, or Roman empire of Germany, acted a very conspicuous part in this nefarious warfare against the remnant of the woman's seed, who kept the commandments of God, and had the testimony of Jesus Christ. See the imperial edict of Frederic II. against heretics, in Limborch's History of the Inquisition.
And power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations - As the book of the Revelation is a prophecy of all that should come upon the Christian world till the end of time, all kindreds, and tongues, and nations, must imply the whole Christian world. That the Latin empire in the course of its reign has had the extensive power here spoken of, is evident from history. It is well known that the profession of Christianity was chiefly confined within the limits of the Greek and Latin empires, till the period of the Reformation. By means of the crusades the Latins extended their empire over several provinces of the Greeks. In 1097 Baldwin extended his conquests over the hills of Armenia and the plain of Mesopotamia, and founded the first principality of the Franks or Latins, which subsisted fifty-four years, beyond the Euphrates. In 1204 the Greeks were expelled from Constantinople by the Latins, who set up an empire there which continued about fifty-seven years. The total overthrow of the Latin states in the east soon followed the recovery of Constantinople by the Greeks; and in 1291 the Latin empire in the east was entirely dissolved. Thus the Latins have had power over the whole world professedly Christian: but it is not said that the whole world was in utter subjection to him, for we read in the following verse: -
And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb - The earth here is the Latin world, as has been observed before in similar cases. The meaning therefore is, that all the corrupt part of mankind who are inhabitants of the Latin world shall submit to the religion of the empire, except, as Bishop Newton expresses it, "those faithful few whose names, as citizens of heaven, were enrolled in the registers of life."
Slain from the foundation of the world - That is, of the Christian world; for this has been shown to be the meaning of all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. The year of the crucifixion is properly the commencement of Christianity, as the apostles then first began to promulgate the religion of Christ with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. But as Jesus Christ was in the Divine purpose appointed from the foundation of the world to redeem man by his blood, he therefore is, in a very eminent sense, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, i.e., from the creation.
If any man have an ear, let him hear.If any man have an ear, let him hear - These words are evidently introduced to impress the reader with the awfulness of what has just been spoken - all shall worship him whose names are not written in the book of life, as well as to fix his attention upon the following words: -
He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity - The Latin empire here spoken of must go into captivity, because it has led into captivity, by not only propagating among the various nations its abominable antichristian system, but also in compelling them to embrace it under the penalty of forfeiting the protection of the empire.
He that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword - The Latin empire must be also broken to pieces by the sword, because it has killed the saints of God. This prophecy will not receive its full accomplishment till the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.
Here is the patience and the faith of the saints - By these words, as Dr. Mitchell observes, "God calls upon his saints to keep in view, under all their persecutions, his retributive justice; there is no violence that has been exercised upon them but what shall be retaliated upon the cruel and persecuting government and governors of the Latin empire."
And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth - As a beast has already been shown to be the symbol of a kingdom or empire, the rising up of this second beast must consequently represent the rising up of another empire. This beast comes up out of the earth; therefore it is totally different from the preceding, which rose up out of the sea. Earth here means the Latin world, for this word has been shown to import this already in several instances; the rising up of the beast out of this earth must, consequently, represent the springing up of some power out of a state of subjection to the Latin empire: therefore the beast, here called another beast, is another Latin empire. This beast is the spiritual Latin empire, or, in other words, the Romish hierarchy; for with no other power can the prophetic description yet to be examined be shown to accord. In the time of Charlemagne the ecclesiastical power was in subjection to the civil, and it continued to be so for a long time after his death; therefore the beast, whose deadly wound was healed, ruled over the whole Latin world, both clergy and laity; these, consequently, constituted but one beast or empire. But the Latin clergy kept continually gaining more and more influence in the civil affairs of the empire, and in the tenth century their authority was greatly increased. In the subsequent centuries the power of the Romish hierarchy ascended even above that of the emperors, and led into captivity the kings of the whole Latin world, as there will be occasion to show in commenting upon the following verses. Thus the Romish hierarchy was at length entirely exempted from the civil power, and constituted another beast, as it became entirely independent of the secular Latin empire. And this beast came up out of the earth; that is, the Latin clergy, which composed a part of the earth or Latin world, raised their authority against that of the secular powers, and in process of time wrested the superintendence of ecclesiastical affairs from the secular princes.
And he had two horns - As the seven-headed beast is represented as having ten horns, which signify so many kingdoms leagued together to support the Latin Church, so the beast which rises out of the earth has also two horns, which must consequently represent two kingdoms; for if horns of a beast mean kingdoms in one part of the Apocalypse, kingdoms must be intended by this symbol whenever it is used in a similar way in any other part of this book. As the second beast is the spiritual Latin empire, the two horns of this beast denote that the empire thus represented is composed of two distinct spiritual powers. These, therefore, can be no other, as Bishop Newton and Faber properly observe, than the two grand independent branches of the Romish hierarchy, viz., the Latin clergy, Regular and Secular. "The first of these comprehends all the various monastic orders, the second comprehends the whole body of parochial clergy." These two grand branches of the hierarchy originally constituted but one dominion, as the monks as well as the other clergy were in subjection to the bishops: but the subjection of the monks to their diocesans became by degrees less apparent; and in process of time, through the influence and authority of the Roman pontiffs, they were entirely exempted from all episcopal jurisdiction, and thus became a spiritual power, entirely independent of that of the secular clergy.
Like a lamb - As lamb, in other parts of the Apocalypse, evidently means Christ, who is the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world, it must have a similar import in this passage; therefore the meaning here is evidently that the two horns of the beast, or the regular and secular clergy, profess to be the ministers of Christ, to be like him in meekness and humility, and to teach nothing that is contrary to godliness. The two-horned beast, or spiritual Latin empire, has in reality the name, and in the eyes of the Latin world the appearance, of a Christian power. But he is only so in appearance, and that alone among his deluded votaries; for when he spake: -
He spake as a dragon - The doctrines of the Romish hierarchy are very similar to those contained in the old heathen worship; for he has introduced "a new species of idolatry, nominally different, but essentially the same, the worship of angels and saints instead of the gods and demi-gods of antiquity."
And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.And he exercised all the power of the first beast before him - In the preceding verse the two-horned beast was represented as rising out of the earth, that is, obtaining gradually more and more influence in the civil affairs of the Latin world. Here he it represented as having obtained the direction and management of all the power of the first beast or secular Latin empire before him, ενωπιον αυτου, in his presence. That the Romish hierarchy has had the extensive power here spoken of, is evident from history; for the civil power was in subjection to the ecclesiastical. The parochial clergy, one of the horns of the second beast, have had great secular jurisdiction over the whole Latin world. Two-thirds of the estates of Germany were given by the three Othos, who succeeded each other, to ecclesiastics; and in the other Latin monarchies the parochial clergy possessed great temporal power. Yet extraordinary as the power of the secular clergy was in all parts of the Latin world, it was but feeble when compared with that of the monastic orders which constituted another horn of the beast. The mendicant friars, the most considerable of the regular clergy, first made their appearance in the early part of the thirteenth century. These friars were divided by Gregory X., in a general council which he assembled at Lyons in 1272, into the four following societies or denominations, viz., the Dominicans, the Franciscans, the Carmelites, and the Hermits of St. Augustine. "As the pontiffs," observes Mosheim, "allowed these four mendicant orders the liberty of travelling wherever they thought proper, of conversing with persons of all ranks, of instructing the youth and the multitude wherever they went; and as these monks exhibited, in their outward appearance and manner of life, more striking marks of gravity and holiness than were observable in the other monastic societies; they arose all at once to the very summit of fame, and were regarded with the utmost esteem and veneration throughout all the countries of Europe. The enthusiastic attachment to these sanctimonious beggars went so far that, as we learn from the most authentic records, several cities were divided, or cantoned out, into four parts, with a view to these four orders; the first part was assigned to the Dominicans, the second to the Franciscans, the third to the Carmelites, and the fourth to the Augustinians. The people were unwilling to receive the sacraments from any other hands than those of the mendicants, to whose churches they crowded to perform their devotions while living, and were extremely desirous to deposit there also their remains after death; all which occasioned grievous complaints among the ordinary priests, to whom the cure of souls was committed, and who considered themselves as the spiritual guides of the multitude. Nor did the influence and credit of the mendicants end here: for we find in the history of this (thirteenth century) and the succeeding ages, that they were employed, not only in spiritual matters, but also in temporal and political affairs of the greatest consequence; in composing the differences of princes, concluding treaties of peace, concerting alliances, presiding in cabinet councils, governing courts, levying taxes, and other occupations not only remote from, but absolutely inconsistent with, the monastic character and profession. We must not, however, imagine that all the mendicant friars attained to the same degree of reputation and authority; for the power of the Dominicans and Franciscans surpassed greatly that of the two other orders, and rendered them singularly conspicuous in the eyes of the world. During three centuries these two fraternities governed, with an almost universal and absolute sway, both state and Church, filled the most eminent posts, ecclesiastical and civil; taught in the universities and churches with an authority before which all opposition was silent; and maintained the pretended majesty and prerogatives of the Roman pontiffs against kings, princes, bishops, and heretics, with incredible ardour and equal success. The Dominicans and Franciscans were, before the Reformation, what the Jesuits have been since that happy and glorious period, the very soul of the hierarchy, the engines of state, the secret springs of all the motions of the one and the other, and the authors and directors of every great and important event in the religious and political world." Thus the Romish hierarchy has exercised all the power of the first beast in his sight, both temporal and spiritual, and therefore, with such astonishing influence as this over secular princes, it was no difficult matter for him to cause: -
The earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed - That is, he causes the whole Latin world to submit to the authority of the Latin empire, with the revived western empire at its head, persuading them that such submission is beneficial to their spiritual interests, and absolutely necessary for their salvation. Here it is observable that both beasts have dominion over the same earth; for it is expressly said that the second beast causeth The Earth and them that dwelt therein, to worship the first beast; therefore it is, as Bishop Newton and others have observed, imperium in imperio, "an empire within an empire." We have, consequently, the fullest evidence that the two beasts consist in the division of the great Latin empire, by the usurpation of the Latin clergy, into two distinct empires, the one secular, the other spiritual, and both united in one antichristian design, viz., to diffuse their most abominable system of idolatry over the whole earth, and to extend the sphere of their domination. Here we have also an illustration of that remarkable passage in Revelation 16:10, the kingdom of the beasts, i.e., the kingdom of the Latin kingdom; which is apparently a solecism, but in reality expressed with wonderful precision. The fifth vial is poured out upon the throne of the beast, and His Kingdom is darkened, i.e., the Latin kingdom in subjection to the Latin kingdom or the secular Latin empire.
And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,And he doeth great wonders - That we may have the greatest assurance possible that the two-horned beast is the spiritual Latin empire, it is called in Revelation 19:20, a passage illustrative of the one now under consideration, the false prophet, "than which," as Bishop Newton observes, "there cannot be a stronger or plainer argument to prove that false doctors or teachers were particularly designed;" for prophet, in the Scripture style, is not unfrequently used for a preacher or expounder of God's word. See 1 Corinthians 14:1-5. It hence follows that the two-horned beast is an empire of false doctors or teachers.
In order to establish the Latin Church upon a foundation that can never fail, the false prophet doth great wonders - he attempts the most wonderful and prodigious exploits, and is crowned with incredible success. He has the art to persuade his followers that the clergy of the Church of Rome are the only true ministers of Christ; that they have such great influence in the court of heaven as to be able not only to forgive sins, but also to grant indulgences in sin, by paying certain stipulated sums. He persuades them too that they can do works of supererogation. He pretends that an incredible number of miracles have been wrought and are still working by the Almighty, as so many evidences of the great sanctity of the Latin Church; and the false prophet has such an astonishing influence over his flock, as to cause them to believe all his fabulous legends and lying wonders. He pretends also (and is believed!) that his power is not confined to this world; that he is able by his prayers to deliver the souls of the deceased from what he calls purgatory, a place which he has fabled to exist for the purification of sinful souls after their departure from this world. His wonderful exploits, in being able to induce men possessed of reasoning faculties to believe his monstrous absurdities, do not end here; he even: -
Maketh fire come down from heaven - in the sight of men - Fire, in Scripture, when it signifies wrath, represents that species of indignation which is attended with the destruction of whatever is the cause of it. Thus the wrath of God is likened to fire, Psalm 18:7, Psalm 18:8; Jeremiah 4:4. Therefore the fire which the false prophet bringeth down from heaven upon the earth, is the fiery indignation which he causes to come down from the heaven or throne of the Latin empire upon all those of the earth or Latin world who rebel against his authority. All this has been fulfilled in the Romish hierarchy; the Latin clergy have denominated all those that oppose their authority heretics, they have instituted tribunals to try the cause of heresy, and all those that would not submit to their idolatry they have condemned to various kinds of tortures and deaths. It is said of the false prophet that he bringeth fire From Heaven upon the earth; that is to say, he will only try the cause of heresy, and pass the sentence of condemnation; he will not suffer an ecclesiastic to execute the sentence of the court; the destroying fire he causeth to come down from the heaven or throne of the Latin empire; secular princes and magistrates must execute the sentence of death upon all that are capitally condemned by the spiritual power. He Maketh fire come down from heaven; he compels secular princes to assist him against heretics; and if any rebel against his authority he immediately puts them under the ban of the anathema, so that they are deprived of their offices, and exposed to the insults and persecution of their brethren. Thus the false prophet deceives the Latin world by the means of those miracles which he had power try do in the sight of the beast. Under the appearance of great sanctity he persuades men to believe all his lying doctrines, and enforces his canons and decretals with the sword of the civil magistrate.
And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.Saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live - The image of the beast must designate a person who represents in himself the whole power of the Latin empire, therefore it cannot be the emperor; for though he was, according to his own account, supremum caput Christianitatis, the supreme head of Christendom, yet he was only the chief of the Germanic confederation, and consequently was only sovereign of the principal power of the Latin empire. The image of the beast must be the supreme ruler of the Latin empire, and as it is through the influence of the false prophet that this image is made for the first beast, this great chief must be an ecclesiastic. Who this is has been ably shown by Bishop Newton in his comment on the following verse.
And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, 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.And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, 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 - I would just observe that the Brahmins, by repeating incantations, profess to give eyes and a soul to an image recently made, before it is worshipped; afterwards, being supposed to be the residence of the god or goddess it represents, it has a legal right to worship. On this verse the learned bishop observes: "The influence of the two-horned beast, or corrupted clergy, is farther seen in persuading and inducing mankind to make an image to the beast which had the wound by a sword, and did live. This image and representative of the beast is the pope. He is properly the idol of the Church. He represents in himself the whole power of the beast, and is the head of all authority, temporal as well as spiritual. He is nothing more than a private person, without power and without authority, till the two-horned beast or corrupted clergy, by choosing him pope, give life unto him, and enable him to speak and utter his decrees, and to persecute even to death as many as refuse to submit to him and to worship him. As soon as he is chosen pope he is clothed with the pontifical robes, and crowned and placed upon the altar, and the cardinals come and kiss his feet, which ceremony is called adoration. They first elect and then they worship him, as in the medals of Martin V., where two are represented crowning the pope, and two kneeling before him, with this inscription, Quem creant adorant; 'Whom they create they adore.' He is The Principle of Unity to the Ten Kingdoms of the Beast, and causeth, as far as he is able, all who will not acknowledge his supremacy to be put to death." The great ascendency which the popes have obtained over the kings of the Latin world by means of the Romish hierarchy is sufficiently marked in the history of Europe. As long as the great body of the people were devoted to the Roman Catholic idolatry, it was in vain for the kings of the different Roman Catholic countries to oppose the increasing usurpations of the popes. They ascended, in spite of all opposition, to the highest pinnacle of human greatness; for even the authority of the emperors themselves was established or annulled at their pleasure. The high sounding tone of the popes commenced in Gregory VII., a.d. 1073, commonly known by the name of Hildebrand, who aimed at nothing less than universal empire. He published an anathema against all who received the investiture of a bishopric or abbacy from the hands of a layman, as also against those by whom the investiture should be performed. This measure being opposed by Henry IV., emperor of Germany, the pope deposed him from all power and dignity, regal or imperial. See Corps Diplomatique, tom. i. p. 53. Great numbers of German princes siding with the pope, the emperor found himself under the necessity of going, (in January, 1077), to the bishop of Rome to implore his forgiveness, which was not granted him till he had fasted three days, standing from morning to evening barefooted, and exposed to the inclemency of the weather! In the following century the power of the pope was still farther increased; for on the 23d of September, 1122, the Emperor Henry V. gave up all right of conferring the regalia by the ceremony of the ring and crosier, so that the chapters and communities should be at liberty to fill up their own vacancies. In this century the election of the Roman pontiffs was confined by Alexander III. to the college of cardinals. In the thirteenth century the popes (Dr. Mosheim observes) "inculcated that pernicious maxim, that the bishop of Rome is the supreme lord of the universe, and that neither princes nor bishops, civil governors nor ecclesiastical rulers, have any lawful power in Church or state but what they derive from him. To establish their authority both in civil and ecclesiastical matters upon the firmest foundation, they assumed to themselves the power of disposing of the various offices of the Church, whether of a higher or more subordinate nature, and of creating bishops, abbots, and canons, according to their fancy. The first of the pontiffs who usurped such an extravagant extent of authority was Innocent III., (a.d. 1198-1216), whose example was followed by Honorius III., (a.d. 1216), Gregory IX., (a.d. 1227), and several of their successors." Thus the plenitude of the papal power (as it is termed) was not confined to what was spiritual; the Romish bishops "dethroned monarchs, disposed of crowns, absolved subjects from the obedience due to their sovereigns, and laid kingdoms under interdicts. There was not a state in Europe which had not been disquieted by their ambition. There was not a throne which they had not shaken, nor a prince who did not tremble at their presence." The point of time in which the Romish bishops attained their highest elevation of authority was about the commencement of the fourteenth century. Boniface VIII., who was pope at this time, outstripped all his predecessors in the high sounding tone of his public decrees. According to his famous bull Unam Sanctam, published Nov. 16, 1302, "the secular power is but a simple emanation from the ecclesiastical; and the double power of the pope, founded upon Holy Scripture, is even an article of faith. God," said he, "has confided to Saint Peter, and to his successors, two swords, the one spiritual, the other temporal. The first ought to be exercised by the Church itself; and the other, by secular powers for the service of the Church, and according to the will of the pope. The latter, that is to say, the temporal sword, is in subjection to the former, and the temporal authority depends indispensably on the spiritual power which judges it, white God alone can judge the spiritual power. Finally," he adds, "it is necessary to salvation for every human creature to be in subjection to the Roman pontiff." The false prophet Said "to them that dwell upon the earth, that they should make an image to the beast that had the wound by a sword, and did live;" that is, the Romish priesthood Preached Up the pope's supremacy over temporal princes; and, through their astonishing influence on the minds of the people, the bishop of Rome at last became the supreme sovereign of the secular Latin empire, and thus was at the head of all authority, temporal and spiritual.
The papists have in their various superstitions professed to worship God. But they are said, in the unerring words of prophecy, to worship the dragon, beast, and image of the beast, and to blaspheme God; for they received as holy those commandments of men that stand in direct opposition to the sacred Scriptures, and which have been imposed on them by the Romish bishops, aided by the secular powers. "God is a Spirit, and they who worship him must worship him in Spirit and in Truth."
And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:And he caused all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark - To ascertain the meaning of the mark which the two-horned beast causes all orders and degrees of men in the Latin world to receive, we need only refer to Revelation 14:11, where the mark imposed by the two-horned beast is called the mark of his name. The name of the beast is the Latin empire: the mark of his name must therefore be his Latin worship: for this very reason, that it is the two-horned beast, or false prophet, who causes all descriptions of persons to receive it. Now it is well known that the continual employment of the Latin clergy is to enforce the Latin idolatry upon their flocks. The mass and offices of the Church, which are in Latin, and contain the sum and substance of their idolatrous worship, are of different kinds, and abound in impious prayers to the Virgin Mary, and the saints and angels. In a word, the Latin worship is the universal badge of distinction of the Latin Church, from all other Churches on the face of the earth; and is therefore the only infallible Mark by which a genuine papist can be distinguished from the rest of mankind. But the two-horned beast causes all to receive this mark: -
In their right hand, or in their foreheads - Right hand in Scripture language, when used figuratively, represents the physical power of the person of whom it is spoken; and when applied to God designates a signal manifestation of Divine power against his enemies, and in behalf of his people. See Psalm 17:7; Psalm 20:6; Psalm 21:8; Psalm 45:3, Psalm 45:4, etc. The reception of the mark in the right hand must therefore mean, that all so receiving it devote the whole powers of their mind and body to the propagation of the Latin worship, and to the eradication of all they denominate heresies out of their Church. But some receive the mark in their foreheads. By any thing being impressed upon the forehead, is meant the public profession of whatever is inscribed or marked upon it. See Revelation 9:4; Revelation 14:1; Revelation 22:4, etc. The mark of the beast being received on the forehead, therefore, means that all those so marked make a public profession of the Latin worship; whereby it is evident to all that they form a part of the Latin Church. Many may be marked in the right hand who are also marked on their foreheads, but it does not follow that those marked on their foreheads are also marked in their right hand; that is to say, it is not every individual that complies with the Latin worship who, to the utmost of his power, endeavors to propagate his religious system. Hence the propriety of the words, "He causeth all - to receive a mark in their right hand, Or in their foreheads."
And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark - "If any," observes Bishop Newton, "dissent from the stated and authorized forms; they are condemned and excommunicated as heretics; and in consequence of that they are no longer suffered to buy or sell; they are interdicted from traffic and commerce, and all the benefits of civil society. So Roger Hoveden relates of William the Conqueror, that he was so dutiful to the pope that he would not permit any one in his power to buy or sell any thing whom he found disobedient to the apostolic see. So the canon of the council of Lateran, under Pope Alexander III., made against the Waldenses and Albigenses, enjoins, upon pain of anathema, that no man presume to entertain or cherish them in his house or land, or exercise traffic with them. The synod of Tours, in France, under the same pope, orders, under the like intermination, that no man should presume to receive or assist them, no, not so much as hold any communion with them, in selling or buying; that, being deprived of the comfort of humanity they may be compelled to repent of the error of their way." In the tenth and eleventh centuries the severity against the excommunicated was carried to so high a pitch, that nobody might come near them, not even their own wives, children, or servants; they forfeited all their natural legal rights and privileges, and were excluded from all kinds of offices. The form of excommunication in the Romish Church is to take lighted torches, throw them upon the ground with curses and anathemas, and trample them out under foot to the ringing of the bells. It is in this and similar ways that the false prophet has terrified the Latin world, and kept it in subjection to the secular and spiritual powers. Those interdicted by the two-horned beast from all offices of civil life are also such as have not: -
The name of the beast, or the number of his name - See on the following verse (note).
Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six - In this verse we have the very name of the beast given under the symbol of the number 666. Before the invention of figures by the Arabs, in the tenth century, letters of the alphabet were used for numbers. The Greeks in the time of Homer, or soon after, are thought by some to have assigned to their letters a numerical value corresponding to their order in the alphabet: thus, α was 1, because the first letter; and ω 24, being the last. It is in this manner that the books of the Iliad and Odyssey are numbered, which have been thus marked by Homer himself, or by some person who lived near his time. A system of representing numbers of great antiquity was used by the Greeks, very much resembling that afterwards adopted by the Romans. This consisted in assigning to the initial letter of the name of the number a value equal to the number. Thus Χ, the initial of χιλια, stood for a thousand; Δ, the initial of δεκα, for ten; Π, the initial of πεντε, for five, etc. Herodotus, the grammarian, is the only writer of antiquity who has noticed this system, and the chronological table of remarkable events on the Arundelian marbles the only work extant in which this method of representing numbers is exhibited. The system now in use cannot be traced to any very ancient source. What can be proved is, that it was in use before the commencement of the Christian era. Numerical letters, denoting the year of the Roman emperor's reign, exist on great numbers of the Egyptian coins, from the time of Augustus Caesar through the succeeding reigns. See Numi Egyptii Imperatorii, a Geo. Zoega, edit. Romans 1787. There are coins extant marked of the 2d, 3d, 14th, 30th, 35th, 38th, 39th, 40th, 41st, and 42d years of Augustus Caesar, with the numerical letters preceded by L or Λ for λυκαβας , year, thus: LΒ, LΓ, LΙΔ, LΛ, LΑΕ, LΛΗ, LΛΘ, LΜ, LΜΑ, and LΜΒ. The following is the Greek alphabet, with the numerical value of each letter affixed, according to the generally received system: -
α - 1 ι - 10 ρ - 100 β - 2 κ - 20 σ - 200 γ - 3 λ - 30 τ - 300 δ - 4 μ - 40 υ - 400 ε - 5 ν - 50 φ - 500 ζ - 7 ξ - 60 χ - 600 η - 8 ο - 70 ψ - 700 θ - 9 π - 80 ω - 80
The method just described of representing numbers or letters of the alphabet, gave rise to a practice among the ancients of representing names also by numbers. Examples of this kind abound in the writings of heathens, Jews, and Christians. Where the practice of counting the number in names or phrases began first to be used, cannot be ascertained; it is sufficient for the illustration of the passage under consideration, if it can be shown to have been in existence in the apostolic age. Seneca, who was contemporary with St. Paul, informs us, in his eighty-eighth epistle, that Apion, the grammarian, maintained Homer to have been the author of the division of his poems of the Iliad and Odyssey into forty-eight books; for a proof of which Apion produces the following argument: that the poet commenced his Iliad with the word μηνιν, that the two first letters, whose sum is 48, might indicate such division. Leonidas of Alexandria, who flourished in the reigns of Nero, Vespasian, etc., carried the practice of computing the number in words so far as to construct equinumeral distichs; that is, epigrams of four lines, whose first hexameter and pentameter contain the same number with the other two. We will only notice two examples; the first is addressed to one of the emperors, the other to Poppaea, the wife of Nero.
Θυει σοι τοδε γραμμα γενεθλιακαισιν εν ὡραις,
Καισαρ, Νειλαιη Μουσα Λεωνιδεω.
Καλλιοπης γαρ ακαπνον αει θυος· εις δε νεωτα
Ην εθελῃς, θυσει τουδε περισσοτερα.
"The muse of Leonidas of the Nile offers up to thee, O Caesar, this writing, at the time of thy nativity; for the sacrifice of Calliope is always without smoke: but in the ensuing year he will offer up, if thou wilt, better things than this."
From the numerical table already given, the preceding epigram may be shown to contain equinumeral distichs, as follows: θυει 424, i.e., θ 9, υ 400, ε 5, ι 10; in all 424: σοι contains 280, i.e., σ 200, ο 70, ι 10. In like manner τοδε will be found to contain 379, γραμμα 185, γενεθλιακαισιν 404, εν 55, ὡραις 1111, Καισαρ 332, Νειλαιη 114, Μουσα 711, Λεωνιδεω 1704. The sum of all these is 5699, the number in the first distich. In the second distich, Καλλιοπης contains 449, γαρ 104, ακαπνον 272, αει 16, θυος 679, εις 215, δε 9, νεωτα 1156, Ην 58, εθελῃς 267, (the subscribed iota being taken into the account), θυσει 624, τουδε 779, περισσοτερα 1071. The sum of all 5699, which is precisely the same with that contained in the first distich.
Ουρανιον μειμημα γενεθλιακαισιν εν ὡραις
Τουτ' απο Νειλογενους δεξο Λεωνιδεω,
Ποππαια, Διος ευνι, Σεβαστιας· ευαδε γαρ σοι
Δωρα, τα και λεκτρων αξια και σοφιης.
"O Poppaea, wife of Jupiter (Nero) Augusta, receive from Leonidas of the Nile a celestial globe on the day of thy nativity; for gifts please thee which are suited to thy imperial dignity and wisdom."
In this epigram each of the distichs contains the number 6422, viz., Ουρανιον 751, (i.e., ο 70, υ 400, ρ 100, α 1, ν 50, ι 10, ο 70, ν 50, the sum of which is 751), μειμημα 144, γενεθλιακαισιν 404, εν 55, ὡραις 1111, τουτ' 1070, απο 151, Νειλογενους 893, δεξο 139, Λεωνιδεω 1704; the sum of all 6422. The numbers corresponding to the words of the second distich are, respectively, 322, 284, 465, 919, 415, 104, 280, 905, 301, 31, 1305, 72, 31, 988; the sum of which is also 6422.
This poet did not restrict himself to the construction of equinumeral distichs. The following is one of his distichs in which the hexameter line is made equal in number to its corresponding pentameter: -
Εἱς προς ἑνα ψηφοισιν ισαζεται, ου δυο δοιοις,
Ου γαρ ετι στεργω την δολιχογραφιην.
"One line is made equal in number to one, not two to two; for I no longer approve of long epigrams."
In this distich the words of the hexameter line contain, respectively, the numbers 215, 450, 56, 1548, 534, 470, 474, and 364; the sum of which is 4111. The numbers corresponding to the words of the pentameter line are, respectively, 470, 104, 315, 1408, 358, and 1456; the sum of which is also 4111. The equinumeral distichs of Leonidas are contained in the second volume of Brunck and Jacob's edition of the Greek Anthology. It appears from ancient records that some of the Greeks in the early part of the second century, if not in the apostolic age, employed themselves in counting the numbers contained in the verses of Homer to find out what two consecutive lines were ισοψηφοι or equinumeral. Aulus Gellius, the grammarian, who lived in the reigns of Hadrian and Antoninus Pius, gives us an account (lib. xiv., cap. 6) of a person who presented him with a book filled with a variety of information collected from numerous sources, of which he was at liberty to avail himself in writing his Attic Nights. Among the subjects treated of in this book, we are informed by Gellius, was that of Homeric equinumeral verses. None of the examples are given by the grammarian; but Labbeus says, in his Bibl. Nov. MSS., p. 284, that the equinumeral verses are marked in the Codex 2216, in the French king's library. Gronovius, in his notes on Gellius, p. 655, has copied what he found in a MS. (No. 1488) upon this subject, viz., two examples out of the Iliad, and one in the Odyssey. The examples in the Iliad are lines 264 and 265 of book vii., each line containing 3508; and lines 306 and 307 of book xix., each containing 2848. The verses in the Odyssey (ω, 110, 111) stated to be equinumeral in the MS. cited by Gronovius have not now this property, owing possibly to some corruption that may have taken place in the lines from frequent transcription.
For other examples of the computation of the number in words or phrases, the reader is referred to the Oneirocritica of Artemidorus, lib. ii. c. 75; lib. iii. c. 34: and lib. iv. c. 26. See also Martiani Minei Felicis Capelhae Africarthaginensis, De Nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii, lib. ii. and vii.; Irenaeus adversus Haereses, lib. i., ii., and v.; Tertullian. de Praescriptionibus Haeret., tom. ii., p. 487; Wirceburgi, 1781; Sibyll. Oracul., lib. i., etc.
Having thus shown that it was a practice in the apostolic age, and subsequently, to count the number in words and phrases, and even in whole verses, it will be evident that what is intended by 666 is, that the Greek name of the beast (for it was in the Greek language that Jesus Christ communicated his revelation to St. John) contains this number. Many names have been proposed from time to time as applicable to the beast, and at the same time containing 666. We will only notice one example, viz., that famous one of Irenaeus, which has been approved of by almost all commentators who have given any sort of tolerable exposition of the Revelation. The word alluded to is Λατεινος, the letters of which have the following numerical values: λ 30, α 1, τ 300, ε 5, ι 10, ν 50, ο 70, ς 200; and if these be added together, the sum will be found to be equivalent to the number of the beast. This word was applied by Irenaeus, who lived in the second century, to the then existing Roman empire; "for," says he, "they are Latins who now reign." Though it is evident, from the notes on the preceding part of this chapter, that the conjecture of Irenaeus respecting the number 666 having some way or other a reference to the empire of the Latins is well founded; yet his production of the word Λατεινος, as containing 666, is not a proof that it has any such reference. Bellarmin the Jesuit objected against Λατεινος being the name intended in the prophecy from its orthography; for, says he, it should be written Λατινος. That the objection of the learned Jesuit has very great force is evident from every Greek writer extant, who has used the Greek word for Latinus, in all of whom it is uniformly found without the dipthong. See Hesiod, Polybius, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Strabo, Plutarch, Dio Cassius, Photius, the Byzantine historians, etc., etc. It hence follows that if the Greek word for Latinus had been intended, the number contained in Λατινος, and not that in Λατεινος, would have been called the number of the beast. We have already observed that the beast is the Latin kingdom or empire; therefore, if this observation be correct, the Greek words signifying the Latin kingdom must have this number. The most concise method of expressing this among the Greeks was as follows, Ἡ Λατινη βασιλεια, which is thus numbered: -
Η equals 8 The Λ equals 30 L α equals 1 A τ equals 300 T ι equals 10 I ν equals 50 N Β equals 2 K α equals 1 I σ equals 200 N ι equals 10 G λ equals 30 D ε equals 5 O ι equals 10 M α equals 1 666
No other kingdom on earth can be found to contain 666. This is then ἡ σοφια, the wisdom or demonstration. A beast is the symbol of a kingdom; The beast has been proved, in the preceding part of this chapter, to be the Latin kingdom; and Ἡ Λατινη βασιλεια, being shown to contain, exclusively, the number 666, is the demonstration.
Having demonstrated that Ἡ Λατινη βασιλεια, The Latin kingdom, is the name of the beast, we must now examine what is intended by the phrase in the 17th verse, the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Bishop Newton supposes that the name of the beast, and the number of his name, mean the same thing; but this opinion is totally irreconcilable with Revelation 15:2, where St. John informs us that he "saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire, and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over the number of his name, stand upon the sea of glass, having the harps of God." In this passage it is evident that the beast, his image, and the number of his name, are perfectly distinct; and therefore no two of them can mean the same thing. Hence what is meant by the name of the beast is entirely different from that intended by the number of his name. But how can this be, when it is expressly declared that the number of the beast is 666, which number is declared to be that of his name? The solution of the whole mystery is as follows: Both beasts of the Apocalypse, we have already shown, have the same appellation; that it to say, the name of the first and second least is equally Ἡ Λατινη βασιλεια, the Latin kingdom; therefore, by the name of the beast is meant the Latin kingdom, and by the number of his name is also meant the Latin kingdom. Hence only one of the beasts is numbered; the name of that which is not numbered is termed the name of the beast, and the numbered Latin empire is denominated the number of his name, or 666, exactly agreeable to an ancient practice already noticed, of representing names by the numbers contained in them. Therefore the meaning of the whole passage is, that those whom the false prophet does not excommunicate, or put out of the pale of his Church, have the mark of the beast, that is, are genuine papists, or such as are actively or passively obedient to his Latin idolatry. Those also escape his ecclesiastical interdicts who have the name of the beast, or the number of his name. By a person having the name of the beast is evidently meant his being a Latin, i.e., in subjection to the Latin empire, and, consequently an individual of the Latin world; therefore those that have the name of the beast, or the number of his name, are those that are subjects of the Latin empire, or of the numbered Latin empire, viz., who are in subjection to the Latin empire, secular or spiritual. All that were in subjection to the secular or spiritual power were not papists in heart; hence the propriety of distinguishing those which have the mark from those which have the name of the beast or the number of his name. But which of the two beasts it is which God has numbered has been not a little contested. That it is the first beast which is numbered has been the prevailing opinion. On this side are Lord Napier, Whiston, Bishop Newton, Faber, and others. Among those that have supposed the second beast to be the one which is numbered are, Dr. Henry More, Pyle, Kershaw, Galloway, Bicheno, Dr. Hales, etc. Drs. Gill and Reader assert that both beasts have the same number, and that the name is Λατεινος. Though it has been demonstrated that the name of the beast is the Latin kingdom, it is impossible from the mere name to say whether it is the Latin empire, Secular or Spiritual; hence the necessity of determining which of the two beasts God has computed. That it is the second beast which is numbered is evident from three different passages in the Apocalypse. The first is in Revelation 13:17, where it is said, "that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name." Here the name of the beast is mentioned before the number of his name, which is a presumptive evidence that the name of the beast refers to the first beast, and the number of his name to the second. The second passage is in Revelation 15:2, where mention is made of "them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over the number of his name." That here styled the beast is evidently the secular Latin empire, for it was to this that the two-horned beast made an image; consequently there can be no doubt that the number of his name, or the numbered Latin empire, is the two-horned beast or false prophet. To feel the full force of this argument, it must be considered that the saints of God are represented as getting the victory over the beast as well as over the number of his name, which is a proof that two distinct antichristian empires are here spoken of, for otherwise it would be tautology. That the two-horned beast is the one which is numbered, is farther evident from a comparison of this passage with Revelation 19:20. In the latter passage the words are: "And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image." Here nothing is said of the number of his name, which is so particularly mentioned in Revelation 15:2, and in that chapter nothing is mentioned of the false prophet, the reason of which can only be, that what is termed in one passage the number of his name, is in its parallel one called the false prophet. Hence the two-horned beast, or false prophet, is also designated by the phrase the number of his name; and consequently it is this beast which is numbered. But what adds the last degree of certainty to this argument is the passage in Revelation 13:18 : "Here is wisdom. Let him that hath a mind count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man: and his number is six hundred threescore and six." Here is the solution of this mystery: let him that hath a mind for investigations of this kind, find out a kingdom which contains precisely the number 666, for this must be infallibly the name of the beast. Ἡ Λατινη βασιλεια, The Latin Kingdom, has exclusively this number. But both beasts are called by this name; which is, therefore, the one that is numbered? It is said the number of the beast is the number of a man; consequently the numbered beast must be A Man, that is, it must be represented elsewhere in the Revelation under this emblem, for in no other sense can an empire be denominated a man. Therefore, it is not the ten-horned beast, for this is uniformly styled The Beast in every part of the Apocalypse where there has been occasion to mention this power. It can therefore be no other than the two-horned beast, or Romish hierarchy; which, on account of its preaching to the world its most antichristian system of doctrines, and calling it Christianity, is likewise named in Revelation 16:13; Revelation 19:20; and Revelation 20:10, The False Prophet.
John Edward Clark.