And this beast exercised all the authority of the first beast and caused the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose mortal wound had been healed.
The Book of Revelation presents us with a view of the conflict between the varied kingdoms of this world and the undivided kingdom of our God and of his Christ, and it uniformly declares to us this one consolatory truth, that these kingdoms shall become submissive to his kingdom. These kingdoms present themselves in the great world drama as various powers standing more or less in active opposition to the dominion of Christ over the life of men - in opposition to truth, to righteousness, and to God. "Another beast" arises, not from the sea, but "coming up out of the earth;" not from the world, in its heaving, disordered, tumultuous state, but from the solid earth - from the world in its settled order. It is not the power of rude violence, but as it were of meekness. "He had two horns like unto a lamb" - a smaller measure of power than pertains to the true Lamb, and smaller than is found on the seven-headed beast. But the character is complex. The speech is "as a dragon." It is foul, hellish, Satanic. He doeth great signs. "He deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by reason of the signs." The beast is distinguished by speech. This may indicate a connection with the intellectual and moral, not the physical or even the political, world. Is it a representation of the vast intellectual powers of the world if, and when, inspired by the evil spirit? Is it "wisdom" - the wisdom of this world in its opposition to the wisdom that cometh down from above? It has elements of the world, for it is of the beast; it has elements of the fiend, for it partakes of the quality of the dragon; it is a spirit of error, for it is a false prophet. But it is not merely error, for it is animated by an evil spirit. It is worldly wisdom, the tongue set on fire of hell - the human mind in its opposition to God. "Intellectual weapons which have united with external violence to attack the new principle which had begun to manifest itself in the life of mankind" (Neander). "He doeth great wonders" (see Matthew 24:24
). Here are all "signs and Dying wonders," by which men are deceived who cleave not to the truth. Perhaps visible signs, prestiges, prodigies, wonders, soothsayers, witchcraft, and fraud of a barbarous age; and then, as times change, the pretended wonders of the intellect. "It would seem like a new heathendom sinking down again to the deification of nature and humanity." It maketh an image. Often in heathen Roman times was the image of the beast set up, and the alternative lay between martyrdom and apostasy. But not only in imperial Roman times, or papal or Protestant persecuting times, but in times of proud philosophical, materialistic, atheistic, earthly wisdom that stands in opposition to God; and that is none the less exclusive towards men that accept it not. Proud, anti-Godlike, anti-Christlike wisdom persecutes to the death. The profession of the simple Christian faith is a sign for exclusion and proscription. Intellectual pride laughs in its sleeve at the simplicity of Christ. Here the Church is to learn -
I. THE EXCEEDINGLY VARIED CHARACTER OF THE ENEMIES OF THE TRUTH. Every spirit not of God will oppose the true.
II. THE NECESSITY FOR WATCHFULNESS AGAINST THE MOST SPECIOUS OPPONENTS.
III. THE EXTREMELY DANGEROUS CHARACTER OF EVERY SPIRIT THAT IS OF THE EARTH, OR THAT PARTAKES OF THE NATURE OF THE BEAST.
IV. THE NECESSITY FOR PURITY, FIDELITY, AND PATIENCE. Purity
(1) of doctrine, and
(2) of life.
(1) to the Word, and
(2) to convictions, and
(3) to the indications of Divine providence.
(1) in maintaining the reproach and profession of Christ, and
(2) in enduring the severities of rude persecution or the proud rejection of a self-wise world. - R.G.
Another beast coming up out of the earth.
The antichrist, though an individual, is not alone. He not only has the ten sovereignties working into his hand with all "their power and strength," but he has a more intimate and more potent companion, hardly less remarkable than himself, duplicating his power, and without whom he could not be what he is. This second beast has "two horns like a lamb." Horns are the symbols of power; but these horns have no diadems, and are like the horns of a gentle domestic animal. Political sovereignty, war, conquest, and the strength of military rule are therefore out of the question here. This beast is a spiritual teacher, and not a king or warrior. His power has a certain softness and domesticity about it, which is sharply distinguished from the great, regal horns of the first beast, although in reality of the same wild beast order, and belonging to the same dragon brood. What, then, are we to understand by these two lamblike horns or the twofold power of this beast? Taking the whole history of all religions, true and false, from the beginning until now, and searching for the elements of their hold on men's minds, their power, it will be found to reside in two things, which, in the absence of better terms, we may call naturalism and supernaturalism, that is, the presence of revelations, or what are accepted as revelations, from the superior powers, and held to be Divine and binding; or conclusions of natural conscience and reason, deemed sacredly obligatory because believed to be good and true. It is difficult to conceive on what other foundation a religion can rest; and analysis will show that on one or the other of these, or on both combined, all religions do rest, and must rest. Here is the seat of their strength, their power, whether true or false, the horns by which they push their way to dominion over the hearts and lives of men. They are just two, and no more. As a religionist, therefore, this beast-prophet could have but two horns. But he has two horns, and hence both the two only powers in a religion; therefore he is at once a naturalist and a supernaturalist — a scientist and a spiritualist — a rationalist, yet asserting power above ordinary nature and in command of nature. In other words, he claims to be the bearer of the sum total of the universal wisdom, in which all reason and all revelation are fused into one great system, claimed to be the ultimatum of all truth, the sublime and absolute universeology. And professing to have everything natural and supernatural thus solved and crystallised as the one eternal and perfect wisdom, he must necessarily present himself as the one absolute apostle and teacher of all that ought to command the thought, faith, and obedience of man. The same helps to a right idea of the further particular concerning this beast, to wit, that, though having but the two horns like a lamb, he yet speaks like a dragon. He is lamb-like in that he proposes to occupy only the mild, domestic, and inoffensive position of spiritual adviser. What more gentle and innocent than the counselling of people how to live and act for the securement of their happiness! But the words are like the dragon, in that such professions and claims are in fact the assumption of absolute dominion over the minds, souls, consciences, and hearts of men to bind them irrevocably, and to compel them to think and act only as he who makes them shall dictate and prescribe. Only to the eternal God belongs such a power; and when claimed by a creature is, indeed, the speech of the devil, the spirit of hell usurping the place and prerogatives of the Holy Ghost. Hence, also, in so far as this beast is able to maintain and enforce these prophetic claims, "he exerciseth all the authority of the first beast." There is no more complete or exalted dominion under the sun than such a sway over the intellect and will of universal humanity. The first beast, in all his imperial power, has no greater authority than the common acknowledgment of such claims would give. When this is exercised all the authority of the first beast is exercised. But the first beast is quite willing that his hellish consociate should assert and press these claims; for the two are but different persons in the same infernal trinity, the second witnessing to the first as the Spirit witnesseth to the Son. And a most efficient minister does this false prophet prove to be. Eight times it is written of him that "he causeth." First, we have the statement that "he causeth the earth and those that dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose stroke of death was healed." They are induced to accept the beast as the deity, and to worship him as God. It seems like a fable. But, with all the weird strangeness of the record, the literal realisation of it is neither impossible nor improbable. There is nothing in it to which depraved human nature is not competent, and even predisposed and prone. The King of Parthia, kneeling before Nero, said to him, "You are my god, and I am come to adore you as I adore the sun. My destiny is to be determined by your supreme will," to which Nero replied, "I make you King of Armenia, that the whole universe may know it belongs to me to give or to take away crowns." It may be said that these were ancient, pagan, and benighted times, and that such abominations can never again be palmed upon mankind. But they were the times which produced our classics. The same has also occurred in later days with far less reason or apology, and among those who claimed to be the most advanced and enlightened of mortals. How was it in the comparatively recent period of the French Revolution? How was it with those world-renowned savants, whose boast was to dethrone the King of heaven as well as the monarchs of the earth? Did they not sing halleluias to the busts of Marat and Lepelletier, not only in the streets of Paris and Brest, but in many of the churches all over France? How came it that Robespierre was named and celebrated as a divinity, a superhuman being, "The New Messiah!" Can we blot out what Alison and Lacretelle and Thiers have written, that "Marat was universally deified," that the churches received his statues as objects of sacred regard, and that a new worship was everywhere set up in their honour? Is it to be ignored how the foremost men of the nation, in state ceremony, conveyed a woman in grand procession to the Cathedral of Notre Dame, unveiled and kissed her before the high altar as the Goddess of Reason, and exhorted the multitude to cease trembling before the powerless thunders of the God of their fears, and "sacrifice only to such as this"?
He spake as a dragon
The words remind us of the description given by our Lord of those false teachers who "come in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves."
Not as the former beast-the mouth of a lion, and "speaking great things" — but rather with subtlety and feigned persuasion, as the old serpent in paradise. "For he would not be like a lamb," says Tichonius, "if he spake openly; he feigns Christianity."
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