REVELATION 13 - Persecuting Powers Professedly Christian
1 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.
2 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.
3 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.
4 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?
5 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.
6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
7 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.
8 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.
9 If any man have an ear, let him hear.
10 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.
THE sea is a symbol of “peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” Revelation 17:15. A beast is the Bible symbol of an unrighteous nation, or power, representing sometimes the civil power alone, sometimes the ecclesiastical in connection with the civil. Whenever a beast is seen to come up out of the sea, it denotes that the power arises in a thickly populated territory; and if the winds are represented as blowing upon the sea, as in Daniel 7:2, 3, political commotion, civil strife, and revolution are indicated.
By the dragon of the previous chapter, and the beast first introduced in this, we have the Roman power as a whole brought to view in its two phases, pagan and papal; hence these two symbols have each the seven heads and ten horns. (See on chapter 17:10.)
The seven-headed and ten-horned beast, or, more briefly, the leopard beast, here introduced, symbolizes a power which exercises ecclesiastical as well as civil authority. This point is of sufficient importance to justify the introduction of a few of the conclusive arguments which go to prove it.
The line of prophecy in which this symbol occurs commences with chapter 12. The symbols of earthly governments embraced in the prophecy are, the dragon of chapter 12, and the leopard beast and two-horned beast of chapter 13. The same line of prophecy evidently continues into chapter 14, closing with verse 5 of that chapter. Commencing, therefore, with verse 1 of chapter 12, and ending with verse 5 of chapter 14, we have a line of prophecy distinct and complete in itself.
Each of the powers here introduced is represented as fiercely persecuting the church of God. The scene opens with the church, under the symbol of a woman, anxiously longing for the promise to be fulfilled that the seed of the woman, the Lord of glory, should appear among men. The dragon stood before the woman for the purpose of devouring her child. His evil design is thwarted, and the child is caught up to God and his throne. A period follows in which the church suffers severe oppression from this dragon power. And though in this part of the scene the prophet occasionally glances forward, once even down almost to the end, because all the enemies of the church were to be actuated by the spirit of the dragon, yet in verse 1 of chapter 13 we are carried back to the time when the leopard beast, the successor of the dragon, commences his career. From this power, for the long period of 1260 years, the church suffers war and persecution. Following this period of oppression, the church has another conflict, brief, but sharp and severe, with the two-horned beast. Then comes deliverance; and the prophecy closes with the church brought safely through all her persecutions, and standing victorious with the Lamb on Mount Zion. Thank God for the sure promise of final victory!
The one character which ever appears the same in all these scenes, and whose history is the leading theme through all the prophecy, is the church of God. The other characters are her persecutors, and are introduced simply because they are such. And here, as an introductory inquiry, we raise the question, Who, or what is it that persecutes the true church? — It is a false or apostate church. What is it that is ever warring against true religion? — It is a false and counterfeit religion. Who ever heard of the civil power, merely, of any nation, persecuting the people of God? Governments may war against other governments, to avenge some wrong, real or imaginary, or to acquire territory and extend their power, as nations have often warred against the Jews; but governments do not persecute (mark the word — do not persecute) people on account of their religion, unless under the control of some opposite and hostile system of religion. But the powers introduced in this prophecy, — the dragon, the leopard beast, and the two-horned beast, — are all persecuting powers. They are actuated by rage and enmity against the people and church of God. And this fact is of itself sufficiently conclusive evidence that in each of these powers the ecclesiastical or religious element is the controlling power.
Take the dragon: what does it symbolize? The Roman empire, is the undeniable answer. But this is not enough. No one would be satisfied with this answer and no more. It must be more definite. We then add, The Roman empire in its pagan farm, to which all must also agree. But just as soon as we say pagan, we introduce a religious element; for paganism is one of the hugest systems of counterfeit religion that Satan ever devised. The dragon, then, is so far an ecclesiastical power that the very characteristic by which it is distinguished is a false system of religion. And what made the dragon persecute the church of Christ? — It was because Christianity was prevailing against paganism, sweeping away its superstitions, overturning its idols, and dismantling its temples. The religious element of that power was touched, and persecution was the result.
We now come to the leopard beast of chapter 13. What does that symbolize? The answer still is, The Roman empire. But the dragon symbolized the Roman empire, and why does not the same symbol represent it still? — Ah! there has been a change in the religious character of the empire; and this beast symbolizes Rome in its professedly Christian form. And it is this change of religion, and this alone, which makes a change in the symbol necessary. This beast differs from the dragon only in that he presents a different religious aspect. Hence it would be altogether wrong to affirm that it denotes simply the Roman civil power.
To this beast the dragon gives his seat, his power, and great authority. By what power was pagan Rome succeeded? We all know that it was by papal Rome. It matters not to our present purpose when or by what means this change was effected; the great fact is apparent, and is acknowledged by all, that the next great phase of the Roman empire after its pagan form was its papal. It would not be correct, therefore, to say that pagan Rome gave its seat and power to a form of government merely civil, having no religious element whatever. No stretch of the imagination can conceive of such a transaction. But two phases of empire are here recognized; and in the prophecy, Rome is pagan until Rome is papal. The statement that the dragon gave to the leopard beast his seat and power, is further evidence that the dragon of Revelation 12:3 is not a symbol of Satan personally; for Satan has not abdicated in favor of any other malevolent being; and he has not given up his seat to any earthly power.
But it may be said that it takes the leopard beast and two-horned beast together to constitute the papacy, and hence it is to these that the dragon gives his power, seat, and great authority. But the prophecy does not say so. It is the leopard beast alone with which the dragon has to do. It is to that beast alone that he gives his power, seat, and great authority. It is that beast that has a head that is wounded to death, which is afterward healed; that beast that the whole world wonders after; that beast that receives a mouth speaking blasphemies, and that wears out the saints for 1260 years; and all this before the succeeding power, the two-horned beast, comes upon the stage of action at all. The leopard beast alone, therefore, symbolizes the Roman empire in its papal form, the controlling influence being ecclesiastical.
To show this more fully, we have but to draw a parallel between the little horn of Daniel 7:8, 20, 24, 25, and this power. From this comparison it will appear that the little horn referred to and the leopard beast symbolize the same power; but the little horn is acknowledged on all hands to be a symbol of the papacy. There are six points of identity, as follows: --
1. The little horn was a blasphemous power. “He shall speak great words against the Most High.” Daniel 7:25. The leopard beast of Revelation 13:6 does the same. “He opened his mouth in blasphemy against God.”
2. The little horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them. Daniel 7:21. This beast also (Revelation 13:7) makes war with the saints, and overcomes them.
3. The little horn had a mouth speaking great things. Daniel 7:8, 20. And of this beast we read, Revelation 13:5:
“And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies.”
4. The little horn arose on the cessation of the pagan form of the Roman empire. The beast of Revelation 13:2 arises at the same time; for the dragon, pagan Rome, gives him his power, his seat, and great authority.
5. Power was given to the little horn to continue for a time, times, and the dividing of time, or 1260 years. Daniel 7:25. To this beast also power was given for forty-two months, or 1260 years. Revelation 13:5.
6. At the end of that specified period, the dominion of the little horn was to be taken away. Daniel 7:26. At the end of the same period, the leopard beast was himself to be “led into captivity.” Revelation 13:10. Both these specifications were fulfilled in the captivity and exile of the pope, and the temporary overthrow of the papacy by France in 1798.
Here are points that prove identity; for when we have in prophecy two symbols, as in this instance, representing powers that come upon the stage of action at the same time, occupy the same territory, maintain the same character, do the same work, exist the same length of time, and meet the same fate, those symbols represent the same identical power.
Now all the particulars above specified do apply alike to the little horn, and the leopard beast of chapter 13, showing that these two symbols represent the same power. It is admitted on all hands that the little horn represents the papacy; and he who claims that this leopard beast does not represent the same, must, to be consistent, show that at the same time that the papacy arose, there arose another great power exactly like it, occupying the same territory, bearing the same character, doing the same work, continuing the same length of time, and meeting the same fate, and yet a separate and distinct power; which would be as absurd as it would be impossible.
The head that was wounded to death was the papal head. We are held to this conclusion by the very obvious principle that whatever is spoken in prophecy of the symbol of any government, applies to that government only while it is represented by that symbol. Now Rome is represented by two symbols, the dragon and the leopard beast, because it has presented two phases, the pagan and the papal; and whatever is said of the dragon applies to Rome only in its pagan form, and whatever is said of the leopard beast applies to Rome only in its professedly Christian form. But Rome was pagan in John’s day, who lived under the sixth or imperial head. This shows us at once that six of the heads, including the imperial, belong to the dragon; and if it was any one of these heads which was wounded to death, then it was one of the heads of the dragon, or one of the forms of government that belonged to Rome in its pagan form, and not one of the heads of the beast; and John should have said, I saw one of the heads of the dragon wounded to death. But he says that it was one of the heads of the beast that was wounded to death. In other words, this wound fell upon some form of government that existed in the Roman empire after its change, from paganism to Christianity. But after this change, there was but one head, and that was the papal. Thus it is placed beyond controversy that it was none other than the papal head that was wounded to death, and his deadly wound was healed. This wounding is the same as the going into captivity. Revelation 13:10. It was inflicted when the pope was taken prisoner by Berthier, the French general, and the papal government was for a time abolished, in 1798. Stripped of his power, both civil and ecclesiastical, the captive pope, Pius VI, died in exile at Valence in France, Aug. 29, 1799. But the deadly wound was healed when the papacy was re-established, though with a diminution of its former power, by the election of a new pope, March 14, 1800. (See Bower’s History of the Popes, pp. 404-428; Croly on the Apocalypse, London edition, p. 251.)
This beast opens his mouth in blasphemy against God to blaspheme his name. (See mention under Daniel 7:25 of the presumptuous titles assumed by the popes.)
He blasphemes the tabernacle in heaven by turning the attention of his subjects to his own throne and palace instead of to the tabernacle of God; by turning their attention away from the city of God, Jerusalem above, and pointing them to Rome as the eternal city; and he blasphemes them that dwell in heaven by assuming to exercise the power of forgiving sins, and so turning away the minds of men from the mediatorial work of Christ and his heavenly assistants in the sanctuary above.
By verse 10 we are again referred to the events of 1798, when that power that had for 1260 years led the saints of God into captivity, was led into captivity itself, as already noticed.
11 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.
12 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.
13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
14 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.
15 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.
16 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:
17 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.
These verses bring to view the third great symbol in the line of prophecy we are examining, usually denominated the two-horned beast. We inquire for its application. The dragon, pagan Rome, and the leopard beast, papal Rome, present before us great organizations standing as the representatives of two great systems of false religion. Analogy would seem to require that the remaining symbol, the two-horned beast, have a similar application, and find its fulfillment in some nationality which is the representative of still another great system of religion. But the only remaining system which is exercising a controlling influence in the world to-day is Protestantism.
Abstractly considered, paganism embraces all heathen lands, containing more than half the population of the globe. Catholicism, which may perhaps be considered as embracing the religion of the Greek Church, so nearly identical with it, belongs to nations which compose a great portion of Christendom. Mohammedanism is an effete system, which has ceased to be any important factor in the world’s progress. Moreover, it seems to have received enough prophetic attention in Daniel 11 and Revelation 9. But Protestantism is the religion of nations which constitute the vanguard of the world in liberty, enlightenment, progress, and power.
If, then, Protestantism is the religion to which we are to look, to what nationality, as the representative of that religion, does the prophecy have application? There are notable Protestant nations in Europe; but for reasons which will hereafter appear, the symbol cannot apply to any of these. A careful investigation has led to the conclusion that it does apply to Protestant America, or the government of the United States. We trust the reader will now feel impatient for some of the reasons for such an application, and will carefully consider the evidence by which it is supported.
1. Probabilities Considered. — Are there any reasons why we should expect that our own government would be mentioned in prophecy? On what conditions have other nations found a place in the prophetic record? — First, if they have acted any prominent part in the world’s history; and secondly, and above all, if they have had jurisdiction over, or maintained any relations with, the people of God. In the records of the Bible and of secular history, we find data from which to deduce this rule respecting the prophetic mention of earthly governments; namely, whenever the relations of God’s people to any nation are such that a true history of the former, which is the object of all revelation, could not be given without a notice of the latter, such nation is mentioned in prophecy. And all these conditions are certainly fulfilled in our government. No nation has ever attracted more attention, excited more profound wonder, or given promise of greater eminence or influence. And certainly here, if anywhere on the globe, are to be found a strong array of Christians, such as are the salt of the earth and the light of the world, whose history could not be written without mention of that government under which they live and enjoy their liberty.
And the conviction has fastened itself upon many minds that the hand of Providence has been conspicuously manifest in the rise and progress of this nation.
Governor Pownal, an English statesman, in 1780, while our Revolution was in progress, predicted that this country would become independent, and that a civilizing activity, beyond what Europe could ever know, would animate it; and that its commercial and naval power would be found in every quarter of the globe. He then speaks of the probable establishment of this country as a free and sovereign power as --
“A revolution that has stronger marks of divine interposition superseding the ordinary course of human affairs, than any other event which this world has experienced.”
De Tocqueville, a French writer, speaking of the separation of the United States from England, says: --
“It might seem their folly, but was really their fate; or rather, the providence of God, who has doubtless a work for them to do in which the massive materiality of the English character would have been too ponderous a dead-weight upon their progress.”
Geo. Alfred Townsend, speaking of the misfortunes that have attended the other governments on this continent (New World and Old, p. 635), says: --
“The history of the United States was separated by a beneficent Providence far from the wild and cruel history of the rest of the continent.”
Such considerations as these are calculated to arouse in every mind a strong expectation that this government will be found to have some part to act in the carrying out of God’s providential purposes in this world, and that somewhere it will be spoken of in the prophetic word.
2. The Chronology of This Power. — At what period in this world’s history is the rise of this power placed in the prophecy? On this point, the foundation for the conclusions at which we must arrive is already laid in the facts elicited in reference to the preceding or leopard beast. It was at the time when this beast went into captivity, or was killed (politically) with the sword (verse 10), or (which we suppose to be the same thing) had one of its heads wounded to death (verse 3), that John saw the two-horned beast coming up. If the leopard beast, as we have conclusively proved, signifies the papacy, and the going into captivity met its fulfillment in the temporary overthrow of the popedom by the French in 1798, then we have the time definitely specified when we are to look for the rise of this power. The expression “coming up” must signify that the power to which it applies was but newly organized, and was then just rising into prominence and influence. The power represented by this symbol must, then, be some power which in 1798 stood in this position before the world.
And in what condition stood the United States of America at that time? Macmillan and Co., the London publishers, in announcing their Statesman’s Year Book for 1867, make an interesting statement of the changes that took place among the leading nations of the world, during the half century between the years 1817 and 1867. They say: --
“The half century has extinguished three kingdoms, one grand duchy, eight duchies, four principalities, one electorate, and four republics. Three new kingdoms have arisen, and one kingdom has been transformed into an empire. There are now forty-one states in Europe against fifty-nine which existed in 1817. Not less remarkable is the territorial extension of the superior states in the world. Russia has annexed 567,364 square miles; the United States, 1,968,009; France, 4,620; Prussia, 29,781; Sardinia, expanding into Italy, has increased by 83,041; the Indian empire has been augmented by 431,616. The principal states that have lost territory are Turkey, Mexico, Austria, Denmark, and the Netherlands.”
In their bearing upon the prophecy before us, these statements are worthy the particular attention of the reader. During the half century named, twenty-one governments disappeared altogether, and only three new ones arose. Five lost in territory instead of gaining. Only five besides the United States added to their domain, and the one which did the most in this direction, added only a little over half a million of square miles; while the United States added nearly two million square miles. Thus the American government added over fourteen hundred thousand square miles of territory, during the fifty years named, more than any other single nation, and over eight hundred thousand more than were added, during that time, by all the other nations of the earth put together. Can any one doubt what nation was emphatically “coming up” during the period covered by these statistics? Certainly it must be admitted that the United States is the only power that meets the specification of the prophecy on this point of chronology.
Mr. Wesley, in his notes on Revelation 14, written in 1754, says of the two-horned beast: --
“He has not yet come, though he cannot be far off; for he is to appear at the end of the forty-two months of the first beast.”
3. Age of This Power. — There is good evidence to show that the government symbolized by the two-horned beast is introduced into prophecy in the early part of its career; that is, when first brought to view, a youthful power. John’s words are, “And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb.” Why does not John simply say, “He had two horns”? Why does he add, “like a lamb”? It must be for the purpose of denoting the character of this beast, showing that it is not only of a very innocent and harmless demeanor, ostensibly, but also that it is a very youthful power; for the horns of a lamb are horns that have but just begun to grow.
Bear in mind that by the preceding argument on chronology, our gaze is fixed to the year 1798; and the power symbolized was then a youthful power, according to the present argument. Question: What notable power was at that time coming into prominence, but still in its youth? England was not, nor was France, nor Russia, nor any European power. For a young and rising power at that epoch, we are obliged to turn our eyes to the New World. But as soon as we turn them to this continent, they rest inevitably upon this country as the power in question. No other power this side of the ocean is entitled to any mention in comparison with it.
4. Location of the Two-horned Beast. — A single declaration of the prophecy is sufficient to guide us to important and correct conclusions on this point. John calls it “another beast.” It is a symbol in addition to, and different from, the papal beast which the prophet had just had under consideration; that is, it symbolizes a power separate and distinct from that which is denoted by the preceding beast. This which John calls “another beast” is certainly no part of the first beast; and the power symbolized by it is likewise no part of that which is intended by that beast. This is fatal to the claim of those, who, to avoid the application of this symbol to our own government, say that it denotes some phase of the papacy; for in that case it would be a part of the preceding, or leopard beast.
If this is “another” beast, it must be found in some locality not covered by any other symbols. Let us, then, take a brief survey of those symbols found in the word of God, which represent earthly governments. These are found chiefly, if not entirely, in the books of Daniel and the Revelation. In Daniel 2, a symbol is introduced in the form of a great image, consisting of four parts, — gold, silver, brass, and iron, — which is finally dashed to atoms, and a great mountain, taking its place, fills the whole earth. In Daniel 7, we find a lion, a bear, a leopard, and a great and terrible nondescript beast, which, after passing through a new and remarkable phase, goes into the lake of fire. In Daniel 8, we have a ram, a he-goat, and a horn, little at first, but waxing exceeding great. In Revelation 9, we have locusts like unto horses. In Revelation 12, we have a great red dragon. In Revelation 13, we have a blasphemous leopard beast, and a beast with two horns like a lamb. In Revelation 17, we have a scarlet-colored beast, upon which a woman sits, holding in her hand a golden cup full of filthiness and abomination.
What governments and what powers are represented by all these? Do any of them symbolize the United States? Some of them certainly represent earthly kingdoms, for so the prophecies themselves expressly inform us; and in the application of nearly all of them there is. quite a uniform agreement among expositors. The four parts of the great image of Daniel 2 represent four kingdoms, — Babylon, or Chaldea, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. The lion of the seventh chapter also represents Babylon; the bear, Medo-Persia; the leopard, Grecia; and the great and terrible beast, Rome. The horn with human eyes and mouth, which appears in the second phase of this beast, represents the papacy, and covers its history down to the time when it was temporarily overthrown by the French in 1798. In Daniel 8, likewise, the ram represents Medo-Persia; the he-goat, Grecia; and the little horn, Rome. All these have a very clear and definite application to the governments named; none of them thus far can have any reference to the United States.
The symbols brought to view in Revelation 9, all are agreed in applying to the Saracens and Turks. The dragon of Revelation 12 is the acknowledged symbol of pagan Rome. The leopard beast of chapter 13 can be shown to be identical with the eleventh horn of the fourth beast of Daniel 7, and hence to symbolize the papacy. The scarlet beast and woman of Revelation 17 as evidently apply also to Rome under pagan and papal rule, the symbols having especial reference to the distinction between the civil power and the ecclesiastical, the one being represented by the beast, the other by the woman seated thereon.
There is one symbol left, and that is the two-horned beast of Revelation 13. On this there is more difference of opinion; and before seeking for an application, let us look at the ground covered by those already examined. Babylon and Medo-Persia covered all the civilized portion of Asia. Greece covered Eastern Europe, including Russia. Rome, with the ten kingdoms into which it was divided, as represented by the ten toes of the image, the ten horns of the fourth beast of Daniel 7, the ten horns of the dragon of Revelation 12, and the ten horns of the leopard beast of Revelation 13, covered all Western Europe. (See Map of the Four Kingdoms, facing page 64.) In other words, all the Eastern Hemisphere known to history and civilization, is absorbed by the symbols already examined, respecting the application of which there is scarcely any room for doubt.
But there is a mighty nation in the Western Hemisphere, worthy, as we have seen, of being mentioned in prophecy, which is not yet brought in; and there is one symbol remaining, the application of which has not yet been made. All the symbols but one are applied, and all the available portions of the Eastern Hemisphere are covered by the applications. Of all the symbols mentioned, one alone, the two-horned beast of Revelation 13, is left; and of all the countries of the earth respecting which any reason exists why they should be mentioned in prophecy, one alone, the United States government, remains. Do the two-horned beast and the United States belong together? If they do, then all the symbols find an application, and all the ground is covered. If they do not, it follows, first, that the United States is not represented in prophecy; and secondly, that the symbol of the two-horned beast finds no government to which it can apply. But the first of these suppositions is not probable, and the second is not possible.
But one conclusion can be drawn from these arguments, and that is that the two-horned beast must be located in the Western Hemisphere, and that it symbolizes the United States.
Another consideration pointing to the locality of this power is drawn from the fact that John saw it arising from the earth. If the sea, from which the leopard beast arose (Revelation 13:1), denotes peoples, nations, and multitudes (Revelation 17:15), the earth would suggest, by contrast, a new and previously unoccupied territory.
Being thus excluded from Eastern continents, and impressed with the idea of looking to territory not previously known to civilization, we turn of necessity to the Western Hemisphere.
5. The Manner of Its Rise. — The manner in which the two-horned beast was seen coming up shows, equally with its location, age, and chronology that it is a symbol of the United States. John says he saw the beast coming up “out of the earth.” And this expression must have been designedly used to point out the contrast between the rise of this beast and that of other national prophetic symbols. The four beasts of Daniel 7 and the leopard beast of Revelation 13 all arose out of the sea. New nations generally arise by overthrowing other nations, and taking their place. But no other nation was overturned in order to make room for the United States, and the struggle for its independence was already fifteen years in the past when it came into the field of prophecy. The prophet saw only peace.
The word which is used in verse 11, to describe the manner in which this beast comes up, is very expressive. It is ἀναβαῖνον (anabainon), one of the prominent definitions of which is, “To grow or spring up as a plant.” And it is a remarkable fact that this very figure has been chosen by political writers, without any reference to the prophecy, as the one conveying the best idea of the manner in which this government has arisen. Mr. G. A. Townsend, in his work entitled The New World Compared with the Old, page 635, says: --
“In this web of islands — the West Indies — began the life of both [North and South] Americas. There Columbus saw land; there Spain began her baneful and brilliant Western empire; thence Cortez departed for Mexico, De Soto for the Mississippi, Balboa for the Pacific, and Pizarro for Peru. The history of the United States was separated by a beneficent Providence far from this wild and cruel history of the rest of the continent, and like a silent seed we grew into empire; while empire itself, beginning in the South, was swept by so interminable a hurricane that what of its history we can ascertain is read by the very lightnings that devastated it. The growth of English America may be likened to a series of lyrics sung by separate singers, which, coalescing, at last make a vigorous chorus, and this, attracting many from afar, swells and is prolonged, until presently it assumes the dignity and proportions of epic song.”
A writer in the Dublin Nation, about the year 1850, spoke of the United States as a wonderful empire which was “emerging,” and “amid the silence of the earth daily adding to its power and pride.”
In Martyn’s History of the Great Reformation, Vol. IV, p. 238, is an extract from an oration delivered by Edward Everett on the English exiles who founded this government, in which he says: --
“Did they look for a retired spot, inoffensive from its obscurity, safe in its remoteness from the haunts of despots where the little church of Leyden might enjoy freedom of conscience? Behold the mighty regions over which, in peaceful conquest — victoria sine clade — they have borne the banners of the cross.”
Will the reader now look at these expressions side by side, — “coming up out of the earth,” “emerging amid the silence of the earth,” “like a silent seed we grew into empire,” “mighty regions” secured by “peaceful conquest.” The first is from the prophet, stating what would be when the two-horned beast should arise; the others are from political writers, telling what has been in the history of our own government. Can any one fail to see that the last three are exactly synonymous with the first, and that they record a complete accomplishment of the prediction?
Another inquiry naturally follows: Has the United States “come up” in a manner to meet the specifications of the prophecy? Let us see. A short time before the great Reformation in the days of Martin Luther, not four hundred years ago, this Western Hemisphere was discovered. The Reformation awoke the nations, that were fast fettered in the galling bonds of superstition, to the fact that it is the heaven-born right of every man to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience. But rulers are loth to lose their power, and religious intolerance still oppressed the people. Under these circumstances, a body of religious heroes at length determined to seek in the wilds of America that measure of civil and religious freedom which they so much desired. In pursuance of their noble purpose, one hundred of these voluntary exiles landed from the Mayflower, on the coast of New England, Dec. 22, 1620. “Here,” says Martyn, “New England was born,” and this was “its first baby cry, — a prayer and a thanksgiving to the Lord.”
Another permanent English settlement was made at Jamestown, Va., in 1607. In process of time, other settlements were made and colonies organized, which were all subject to the English crown till the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776.
The population of these colonies, according to the United States Magazine of August, 1855, amounted in 1701 to 262,000; in 1749, to 1,046,000; in 1775, to 2,803,000. Then commenced the struggle of the American colonies for independence. In 1776, they declared themselves a free and independent nation. In 1777, delegates from the thirteen original States, — New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, — in Congress assembled, adopted Articles of Confederation. In 1783, the war of the Revolution closed with a treaty of peace with Great Britain, whereby the independence of the United States was acknowledged, and territory ceded to the extent of 815,615 square miles. In 1787, the Constitution was framed, and ratified by the foregoing thirteen States; and on the 1st of March, 1789, it went into effect. Then the American ship of state was fairly launched, with less than one million square miles of territory, and about three million souls. Thus are we brought to the year 1798, when this government is introduced into prophecy. And now, passing over a little more than a hundred years, to the last decade of the nineteenth century, the territory of the United States government has expanded to 3,678,392 square miles, and its population has increased to about 70,000,000 people. Its growth in all industrial pursuits, agricultural productions, cattle raising, newspapers, schools, production of the precious metals, and wealth of all kinds which pertain to a civilized people, has been equally remarkable, and furnishes an ample basis for the application of the prophecy.
6. Character of the Government Symbolized by the Two-horned Beast. — Under this division of the subject we find still further evidence that the symbol represents the United States government. In describing this power, John says that it had “two horns like a lamb.” The horns of a lamb indicate, first, youthfulness, and secondly, innocence and gentleness. As a power which has but recently arisen, the United States answers to the symbol admirably in respect to age; while no other power, as has already been proved, can be found to do this. And considered as an index of power and character, it can be decided what constitutes the two horns of the government, if it can be ascertained what is the secret of its strength and power, and what reveals its apparent character, or constitutes its outward profession. The Hon. J. A. Bingham gives us the clue to the whole matter when he states that the object of those who first sought these shores was to found “what the world had not seen for ages; viz., a church without a pope, and a state without a king.” Expressed in other words, this would be a government in which the ecclesiastical should be separate from the civil power, and civil and religious liberty reign supreme.
It needs no argument to show, and even the statement is unnecessary, that this is precisely the profession of the American government. Article IV, sec. 4 of the Constitution of the United States, reads: “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government.” Article VI: “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” The first amendment of the Constitution (Art. I) begins as follows: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” These articles profess the amplest guarantee of civil and religious liberty, the entire and perpetual separation of church and state; and what better symbols of them could be given than “two horns like a lamb”? In what other country can be found a condition of things which would meet so completely this feature of the symbol?
7. A Republican Government. — The two-horned beast symbolizes a nation with a republican form of government. This is shown by the absence of crowns both upon its head and its horns. A crown is an appropriate symbol of a kingly or monarchical form of government; and the absence of crowns, as in this case, would suggest a government in which the power is not vested in any such ruling member, but is, per consequence, lodged in the hands of the people.
But this is not the most conclusive proof that the nation here symbolized is republican in its form of government. From verse 14 we learn that appeal is made to the people when any national action is to be performed: “Saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast,” etc. Were the government a monarchy, national questions would hardly be submitted in this unqualified manner, to the people; and the fact that appeal is here made to the people shows that the form of the government is such that the power is vested in their hands; and this is emphatically the case in the United States government, but not in any other government to which any one could reasonably think of applying this symbol. This is another strong link in the chain of evidence that this symbol must apply to the United States of America.
8. A Protestant Nation. — The two-horned beast also symbolizes a government which is Protestant in religion, or which, at least, is a non-Catholic power. It has been shown that the preceding beast symbolized the papacy; and of the two-horned beast we read that he causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast. But in all Catholic countries, the people voluntarily worship the beast, or obey the dictates of Catholicism, without being “caused,” or compelled, to do so by the government. The fact that the people of this government do not render this worship till caused to do so by the civil power, shows that the religion they entertain is not Catholicism. As an almost inevitable consequence, it follows that it is Protestantism; for these are the only two religions of any consequence in Christendom. The United States is a Protestant nation, and meets the requirements of the prophecy admirably in this respect. Thus again the prophecy points directly to this government.
9. The Dragon Voice. — After contemplating all the good features presented in this symbol, it is with pain we read that “he spake as a dragon.” Before entering upon a discussion of this topic, let us look at the points already established. It has been shown, --
(1.) That the government symbolized by the two-horned beast must be some government distinct from the powers of the Old World, whether civil or ecclesiastical.
(2.) That it must arise in the Western Hemisphere.
(3.) That it must be seen assuming a position of prominence and influence about the year 1798.
(4.) That it must rise in a peaceful and quiet manner, not augmenting its power, as other nations have done, by aggressive wars and successful conquests.
(5.) That its progress must be so rapid as to strike the beholder with as much wonder as would the perceptible growth of an animal before his eyes.
(6.) That it must be republican in its form of government.
(7.) That it must be Protestant in its religion.
(8.) That it must exhibit before the world, as an index of its character and the elements of its government, two great principles which are in themselves perfectly just, innocent, and lamblike.
(9.) That it must perform its work in the present century, or this side of 1798.
And we have seen that of these nine specifications, it can be said: first, that they are all perfectly met in the history of the United States thus far; and secondly, that they are not met in the history of any other government on the face of the earth. It is therefore impossible to apply the symbol of Revelation 13:11 to any other government but that of the United States.
But after describing the lamblike appearance of this symbol, the prophet immediately adds this, “And he spake as a dragon.” The dragon, the first link in this chain of prophecy, was a relentless persecutor of the church of God. The leopard beast, which follows, was likewise a persecuting power, grinding out for 1260 years the lives of millions of the followers of Christ. The third actor in the scene, the two-horned beast, speaks like the first, and thus shows himself to be a dragon at heart; “for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh,” and in the heart, actions are conceived. This, then, like the others, is to be a persecuting power; and the reason that any of them are mentioned in prophecy, is simply because they are persecuting powers. And if the United States is the power intended by this symbol which speaks as a dragon, it follows that this government is to enact unjust and oppressive laws against the religious profession and practice of some of its subjects.
Nor is this so improbable an event as might at first appear. We must remember that in the last days the vast majority of the people of the most favored lands are to relapse into the low moral condition described in such scriptures as Matthew 24:12; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; 2 Peter 3:3, 4; Luke 17:26-30; 18:8; and it is from such that those who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12.
Evil is also threatening from another quarter. Roman Catholicism which has grown strong through immigration, has fixed its rapacious eyes on the United States, determined to bring this government under its power. Votes rule here, and Romanism controls an immense suffrage, which it carefully manipulates to its own ends. With such a weapon in its hands, its power for evil is almost unlimited; for multitudes of unscrupulous politicians, who under their country’s pay, labor not for their country’s good but for their own selfish aggrandizement, stand ready to help any party carry out any scheme, no matter how wicked, if that party will keep them in office.
And in the Protestant churches there is that which threatens to lead to equally serious evils. Wealth, pride, selfishness, love of display, and worldliness in general, are fostering a spirit of religious aristocracy fatal to godliness and true piety. But above all the creed-power is binding — perhaps it may be said, has bound — the churches as in iron bands. Charles Beecher’s celebrated sermon on creeds arraigns the whole church polity of Protestantism as ruinous in this respect to religious liberty. Though uttered many years ago, it is still growing more true each day. He says: --
“Our best, most humble, most devoted servants of Christ are fostering in their midst what will one day, not long hence, show itself to be the spawn of the dragon. They shrink from any rude word against creeds with the same sensitiveness with which those holy fathers would have shrunk from a rude word against the rising veneration of saints and martyrs which they were fostering. ... The Protestant evangelical denominations have so tied up one another’s hands, and their own, that, between them all, a man cannot become a preacher at all, anywhere, without accepting some book besides the Bible. ... There is nothing imaginary in the statement that the creed-power is now beginning to prohibit the Bible as really as Rome did, though in a subtler way.”
In addition to this, we have Spiritualism, infidelity, socialism, free love, and trades unions, or labor against capital, and communism, — all assiduously spreading their principles among the masses. These are the very principles that worked among the people, as the exciting cause, just prior to the terrible French Revolution of 1783-1800. Human nature is the same in all ages, and like causes will surely produce like effects.
10. Great Wonders. — In that part of the prediction which sets forth the work of the two-horned beast, we read that “he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.” In this specification we have still further proof that the United States is the government represented by the two-horned beast. That we are living in an age of wonders, none deny. (See on Daniel 12:4, remarks on the wonderful achievements of the present age, and two plates of vignettes illustrating some of the leading triumphs of scientific and inventive skill.)
But this prophecy is not fulfilled in the great advancement in knowledge, the discoveries and inventions, so notable at the present time; for the wonders to which the prophet had reference are evidently wrought for the purpose of deceiving the people, as we read in verse 14: “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.” This identifies the two-horned beast with the false prophet of Revelation 19:20; for this false prophet is the power that works miracles before the beast, “with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshiped his image,” — the identical work of the two-horned beast. We can now ascertain by what means the miracles in question are wrought; for Revelation 16:13, 14 speaks of spirits of devils working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of the great day of God Almighty; and these miracle-working spirits go forth out of the mouths of certain powers, one of which is this very false prophet, or two-horned beast.
The Saviour, predicting events to occur just before his second coming, says, “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” Here, again, are wonders foretold, wrought for the purpose of deception, so powerful, that, were it possible, even the very elect would be deceived by them.
Thus we have a prophecy (and there are many others) setting forth the development, in the last days, of a wonderworking power, manifested to a startling and unprecedented degree in the interest of falsehood and error. The earthly government with which it was to be especially connected is that represented by the two-horned beast, or false prophet. The agency lying back of the outward manifestations was to be Satanic, the spirit of devils. The prophecy calls for such a work as this in America at the present time. Do we behold anything like it? Read the answer in the lamentation of the prophet: “Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the Devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” Stand aghast, O earth! tremble, ye people, but be not deceived! The huge specter of evil confronts us, as the prophet declared. Satan is loosed. From the depth of Tartarus myriads of demons swarm over the land. The prince of darkness manifests himself as never before, and throwing over his work a would-be heavenly garb, he calls it — Spiritualism.
(1.) Does Spiritualism, then, bear these marks of Satanic agency?
a. The spirits which communicate, claim to be the spirits of our departed friends. But the Bible, in the most explicit terms, assures us that the dead are wholly inactive and unconscious till the resurrection; that the dead know not anything (Ecclesiastes 9:5); that every operation of the mind has ceased (Psalms 146:4); that every emotion of the heart is suspended (Ecclesiastes 9:6); and that there is neither work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, where they lie. Ecclesiastes 9:10. Whatever intelligence, therefore, comes to us professing to be one of our dead friends, comes claiming to be what, from the word of God, we know he is not. But angels of God do not lie; therefore these are not the good angels. Spirits of devils will lie; this is their work; and these are the credentials which at the very outset they hand us.
b. The doctrines which they teach are also directly contrary to the Bible. They deny God. They deny Christ. They deny the atonement. They deny the Bible. They deny the existence of sin, and all distinction between right and wrong. They deny the sacredness of the marriage covenant; and, interspersing their utterances with blasphemies against God and his Son, and everything that is lovely, and good, and pure, they give the freest license to every propensity to sin, and to every carnal and fleshly lust. Tell us not that these things, openly taught under the garb of religion, and backed up by supernatural sights and sounds, are anything less than Satan’s masterpiece. For proof that these charges are none too severe, see Spiritualism a Subject of Prophecy, containing quotations from their own writings. (Review and Herald Publishing House, Battle Creek, Mich.)
(2.) Spiritualism answers accurately to the prophecy in the exhibition of great signs and wonders. Among its many achievements, these may be mentioned. Various articles have been transported from place to place by spirits alone; beautiful music has been produced independently of human agency, with and without the aid of visible instruments; many well-attested cases of healing have been presented; persons have been carried through the air by the spirits in the presence of many others; tables have been suspended in the air with several persons upon them; and, finally, spirits have presented themselves in bodily form, and talked with an audible voice.
(3.) Spiritualism answers to the prophecy in that it had its origin in the United States, thus connecting its wonders with the work of the two-horned beast. Commencing in Hydesville, N. Y., in the family of Mr. John D. Fox, in the latter part of March, 1848, it spread with incredible rapidity through all the world. A letter to the writer from a leading Spiritualist publisher, December, 1895, claims five million believers in the United States, and fifty million throughout the world. Of those who have become its devotees, Judge Edmonds said, as long ago as 1853: --
“Besides the undistinguished multitude, there are many now of high standing and talent ranked among them, — doctors, lawyers, and clergymen in great numbers, a Protestant bishop, the learned and reverend president of a college, judges of our higher courts, members of Congress, foreign ambassadors, and ex-members of the United States Senate.”
The foregoing statement was written many years ago; and from that time to this the work of the spirits has been steadily progressing, and spreading among all classes of people.
One reason why it is now difficult to estimate the number of those who might properly be denominated Spiritualists, is that the more prominent and respectable of the adherents of this movement are drawing under cover the obnoxious and immoral features of the system, heretofore so prominent, and assuming a Christian garb. By this move they bring themselves and a multitude of church-members upon common ground, where there is no distinction between them in fact, though there still may be in name; the latter still remaining with their various denominations.
A little work by Hudson Tuttle, What is Spiritualism? p. 6, gives a list of twenty-two emperors, queens, princes, and members of the nobility, who have, through Spiritualism sought counsel in their affairs, or favored and supported its claims. It is thus preparing to fulfill Revelation 16:14, and gather the nations to the battle of the great day.
11. An Image to the Beast. — Closely associated with this working of miracles is the erection of an image to the beast. The prophet thus connects the two in verse 14: “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.” The deception accomplished by the working of the miracles prepares the way for compliance with this demand for the formation of an image to the beast.
To understand what would be an image of the papacy, we must first gain some definite idea of what constitutes the papacy itself. The full development of the beast, or the establishment of papal supremacy, dates from the famous letter of Justinian, which was made effective in A. D. 538, constituting the pope the head of the church and the corrector of heretics. The papacy was a church clothed with civil power, — an ecclesiastical body having authority to punish all dissenters with confiscation of goods, imprisonment, torture, and death. What would be an image of the papacy? — Another ecclesiastical establishment clothed with similar power. How could such an image be formed in the United States? Let the Protestant churches be clothed with power to define and punish heresy, to enforce their dogmas under the pains and penalties of the civil law, and should we not have an exact representation of the papacy during the days of its supremacy?
It may be objected that whereas the papal church was comparatively a unit, and hence could act in harmony in all its departments in enforcing its dogmas, the Protestant church is so divided as to be unable to agree in regard to what doctrines shall be made imperative on the people. The answer is, There are certain points which they hold in common, and which are sufficient to form a basis of co-operation. Chief among these may be mentioned the doctrine of the conscious state of the dead and the immortality of the soul, which is both the foundation and superstructure of Spiritualism; and also the doctrine that the first day of the week is the Christian Sabbath.
Let, now, an ecclesiastical organization be formed by these churches; let the government legalize such organization, and give it power (a power which it will not have till the government does grant it) to enforce upon the people the dogmas which the different denominations can all adopt as the basis of union, and what do we have? — Just what the prophecy represents, — an image to the papal beast, endowed with life by the two-horned beast, to speak and act with power.
And are there any indications of such a movement? The preliminary question — that of the grand union of all the churches — is now profoundly agitating the religious world.
Chas. Beecher, in his sermon at the dedication of the Second Presbyterian church, Ft. Wayne, Ind., Feb. 22, 1846, before referred to, said: --
“Thus are the ministry of the evangelical Protestant denominations not only formed all the way up under a tremendous pressure of merely human fear, but they live, and move, and breathe in a state of things radically corrupt, and appealing every hour to every baser element of their nature to hush up the truth, and bow the knee to the power of apostasy. Was not this the way things went with Rome? Are we not living her life over again? And what do we see just ahead? — Another general council! a world’s convention! evangelical alliance, and universal creed!”
The Banner of Light of July 30, 1864, said: --
“A system will be unfolded sooner or later that will embrace in its folds church and state; for the object of the two should be one and the same.”
The Church Advocate, in March, 1870, speaking of the formation of an “Independent American Catholic Church,” a movement now agitated in this country, said: --
“There is evidently some secret power at work, which may be preparing the world for great events in the near future.”
A Mr. Havens, in a speech delivered in New York a few years ago, said: --
“For my own part, I wait to see the day when a Luther shall spring up in this country, who shall found a great American Catholic Church, instead of a great Roman Catholic Church; and who shall teach men that they can be good Catholics without professing allegiance to a pontiff on the other side of the Atlantic.”
In favor of this union, or rather, confederacy, of churches, journals are published, and speakers are pleading to-day. Thus there are indications that at no distant day such a church will be seen, not, indeed, raised up through the instrumentality of a Luther, but rather through the operation of the same spirit that inspired a Fernando Nunez or a Torquemada. This being done, another instalment of the prophecy will be accomplished, and the image will be formed. And inasmuch as the United States is the only country where such a move can be looked for, and as events are here openly tending to such a result, the evidence is hereby still further strengthened that the prophecy applies to this government.
12. The Mark of the Beast. — The two-horned beast enforces upon its subjects the mark of the first beast. We have now in the prophecy three agents introduced, which we must carefully distinguish from one another to avoid confusion.
(1.) The papal beast. This power is designated as “the beast,” “the first beast,” “the beast which had the wound by a sword, and did live,” and “the beast whose deadly wound was healed.” These expressions all refer to the same power; and wherever they occur in this prophecy, they have exclusive reference to the papacy.
(2.) The two-horned beast. This power, after its introduction in verse 11 of chapter 13, is represented through the remainder of the prophecy by the pronoun he; and wherever this pronoun occurs, down to the 17th verse (with possibly the exception of the 16th verse, which perhaps may refer to the image), it refers invariably to the two-horned beast.
(3.) The image of the beast. This is, every time, with the possible, but not probable exception just stated, called the image; so that there is no danger of confounding this with any other agent.
The acts ascribed to the image are, speaking, and enforcing the worship of itself under the penalty of death; and this is the only enactment which the prophecy mentions as enforced under the death penalty.
The mark of the beast is enforced by the two-horned beast, either directly or through the image. The penalty attached to a refusal to receive this mark is a forfeiture of all social privileges, a deprivation of the right to buy and sell. The mark is the mark of the papal beast. Against this worship of the beast and his image, and the reception of his mark, the third angel’s message of Revelation 14:9-12 is a most solemn and thrilling warning.
This, then, is the issue, which, according to this prophecy, we are soon to be called upon to meet; namely, human organizations, controlled and inspired by the spirit of the dragon, are to command men to do those acts which are in reality the worshiping of an apostate religious power and the receiving of his mark; and if they refuse to do this, they lose the rights of citizenship, and become outlaws in the land; and they must do that which constitutes the worship of the image of the beast, or forfeit their lives. On the other hand, God sends forth a message a little before the fearful crisis is upon us, as we shall see under chapter 14:9-12, declaring that all who do any of these things “shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation.” He who refuses to comply with these demands of earthly powers exposes himself to the severest penalties which human beings can inflict; and he who does comply, exposes himself to the most terrible threatenings of divine wrath to be found in the word of God. The question whether they will obey God or man is to be decided by the people of the present age, under the heaviest pressure, from either side, that has ever been brought to bear upon any generation.
The worship of the beast and his image, and the reception of his mark, must be something that involves the greatest offense that can be committed against God, to call down so severe a denunciation of wrath against it. This is a work, as has already been shown, which takes place in the last days; and as God has given us in his word most abundant evidence to show when we are in the last days, that no one need be overtaken by the day of the Lord as by a thief, so, likewise, it must be that he has given us the means whereby we may determine what the receiving of the mark of the beast is, which he has so strongly condemned, that we may avoid the fearful penalty so sure to follow the commission of this act. God does not so trifle with human hopes and human destinies as to denounce a most fearful doom against a certain sin, and then place it out of our power to understand what that sin is, so that we have no means of guarding against it.
We therefore now call attention to the very important inquiry, What constitutes the mark of the beast? The figure of a mark is borrowed from an ancient custom. Bishop Newton (Dissertations on the Prophecies, Vol. III, p. 241) says: --
“It was customary among the ancients for servants to receive the mark of their master, and soldiers of their general, and those who were devoted to any particular deity, of the particular deity to whom they were devoted. These marks were usually impressed on their right hand or on their forehead, and consisted of some hieroglyphic character, or of the name expressed in vulgar letters, or of the name disguised in numerical letters, according to the fancy of the imposer.”
Prideaux says that Ptolemy Philopater ordered all the Jews who applied to be enrolled as citizens of Alexandria to have the form of an ivy leaf (the badge of his god, Bacchus) impressed upon them with a hot iron, under pain of death. (Prideaux’s Connection, Vol. II, p. 78.)
The word used for mark in this prophecy is χάραγμα (charagma), and is defined to mean, “a graving, sculpture; a mark cut in or stamped.” It occurs nine times in the New Testament, and with the single exception of Acts 17:29, refers every time to the mark of the beast. We are not, of course, to understand in this symbolic prophecy that a literal mark is intended; but the giving of the literal mark, as practiced in ancient times, is used as a figure to illustrate certain acts that will be performed in the fulfillment of this prophecy. And from the literal mark as formerly employed, we learn something of its meaning as used in the prophecy; for between the symbol and the thing symbolized there must be some resemblance. The mark, as literally used, signified that the person receiving it was the servant of, acknowledged the authority of, or professed allegiance to, the person whose mark he bore. So the mark of the beast, or of the papacy, must be some act or profession by which the authority of that power is acknowledged. What is it?
It would naturally be looked for in some of the special characteristics of the papal power. Daniel, describing that power under the symbol of a little horn, speaks of it as waging a special warfare against God, wearing out the saints of the Most High, and thinking to change times and laws. The prophet expressly specifies on this point: “He shall think to change times and laws.” These laws must certainly be the laws of the Most High. To apply it to human laws, and make the prophecy read, “And he shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change human laws,” would be doing evident violence to the language of the prophet. But apply it to the laws of God, and let it read, “And he shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and laws of the Most High,” and all is consistent and forcible. The Hebrew has דָּת (dath), law, and the Septuagint reads, νόμος (nomos) in the singular, “the law,” which more directly suggests the law of God. The papacy has been able to do more than merely “think” to change human laws. It has changed them at pleasure. It has annulled the decrees of kings and emperors, and absolved subjects from allegiance to their rightful sovereigns. It has thrust its long arm into the affairs of nations, and brought rulers to its feet in the most abject humility. But the prophet beholds greater acts of presumption than these. He sees it endeavor to do what it was not able to do, but could only think to do; he sees it attempt an act which no man, nor any combination of men, can ever accomplish; and that is, to change the law of the Most High. Bear this in mind while we look at the testimony of another sacred writer on this very point.
The apostle Paul speaks of the same power in 2 Thessalonians 2; and he describes it, in the person of the pope, as “the man of sin,” and as “sitting as God in the temple of God” (that is, the church), and as exalting himself “above all that is called God, or that is worshiped.” According to this, the pope sets himself up as the one for all the church to look to for authority, in the place of God. And now we ask the reader to ponder carefully the question how he can exalt himself above God. Search through the whole range of human devices, go to the extent of human effort; by what plan, by what move, by what claim, could this usurper exalt himself above God? He might institute any number of ceremonies, he might prescribe any form of worship, he might exhibit any degree of power; but so long as God had requirements which the people felt bound to regard in preference to his own, so long he would not be above God. He might enact a law, and teach the people that they were under as great obligations to that as to the law of God; then he would only make himself equal with God. But he is to do more than this; he is to attempt to raise himself above him. Then he must promulgate a law which conflicts with the law of God, and demand obedience to his own law in preference to God’s law. There is no other possible way in which he could place himself in the position assigned in the prophecy. But this is simply to change the law of God; and if he can cause this change to be adopted by the people in the place of the original enactment, then he, the law-changer, is above God, the law-maker. And this is the very work that Daniel said he should think to do.
Such a work as this, then, the papacy must accomplish according to the prophecy; and the prophecy cannot fail. And when this is done, what do the people of the world have? They have two laws demanding obedience, — one, the law of God as originally enacted by him, an embodiment of his will, and expressing his claims upon his creatures; the other, a revised edition of that law, emanating from the pope of Rome, and expressing his will. And how is it to be determined which of these powers the people honor and worship? — It is determined by the law which they keep. If they keep the law of God as given by him, they worship and obey God. If they keep the law as changed by the papacy, they worship that power. But further: the prophecy does not say that the little horn, the papacy, should set aside the law of God, and give one entirely different. This would not be to change the law, but simply to give a new one. He was only to attempt a change, so that the law that comes from God, and the law that comes from the papacy, are precisely alike, excepting the change which the papacy has made in the former. They have many points in common. But none of the precepts which they contain in common can distinguish a person as the worshiper of either power in preference to the other. If God’s law says, “Thou shalt not kill,” and the law as given by the papacy says the same, no one can tell by a person’s observance of that precept whether he designed to obey God rather than the pope, or the pope rather than God. But when a precept that has been changed is the subject of action, then whoever observes that precept as originally given by God, is thereby distinguished as a worshiper of God; and he who keeps it as changed is thereby marked as a follower of the power that made the change. In no other way can the two classes of worshipers be distinguished. From this conclusion, no candid mind can dissent; but in this conclusion we have a general answer to the question, “What constitutes the mark of the beast?” and that answer is simply this: The mark of the beast is the change which the beast has attempted to make in the law of God.
We now inquire what that change is. By the law of God, we mean the moral law, the only law in the universe of immutable and perpetual obligation, — the law of which Webster says, defining the term according to the sense in which it is almost universally used in Christendom, “The moral law is summarily contained in the decalogue, written by the finger of God on two tables of stone, and delivered to Moses on Mount Sinai.”
If now the reader will compare the ten commandments as found in Roman Catholic catechisms with those commandments as found in the Bible, he will see in the catechisms — we mean those portions specially devoted to instruction — that the second commandment is left out, that the tenth is divided into two to make up the lack caused by leaving out the second, and keep good the number ten, and that the fourth commandment (called the third in their enumeration) is made to enjoin the observance of Sunday as the Sabbath, and prescribe that the day shall be spent in hearing mass devoutly, attending vespers, and reading moral and pious books. Here are several variations from the decalogue as found in the Bible. Which of them, if any, constitutes the change of the law intended in the prophecy? or are they all included in that change? Let it be borne in mind, that, according to the prophecy, he was to think to change times and laws. This plainly conveys the idea of intention and design, and makes these qualities essential to the change in question. But respecting the omission of the second commandment, Catholics argue that it is included in the first, and hence should not be numbered as a separate commandment; and on the tenth they claim that there is so plain a distinction of ideas as to require two commandments; so they make the coveting of a neighbor’s wife the ninth command, and the coveting of his goods the tenth.
In all this they claim that they are giving the commandments exactly as God intended to have them understood; so, while we may regard them as errors in their interpretation of the commandments, we cannot set them down as intentional changes. Not so, however, with the fourth commandment. Respecting this commandment, they do not claim that their version is like that given by God. They expressly claim a change here, and also that the change has been made by the church. A few quotations from standard Catholic works will make this matter plain. In a work entitled, Treatise of Thirty Controversies, we find these words: --
“The word of God commandeth the seventh day to be the Sabbath of our Lord, and to be kept holy; you [Protestants], without any precept of Scripture, change it to the first day of the week, only authorized by our traditions. Divers English Puritans oppose, against this point, that the observation of the first day is proved out of Scripture, where it is said, the first day of the week. Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Revelation 1:10. Have they not spun a fair thread in quoting these places? If we should produce no better for purgatory and prayers for the dead, invocation of the saints, and the like, they might have good cause, indeed, to laugh us to scorn; for where was it written that these were Sabbath days in which those meetings were kept? or where is it ordained they should be always observed? or, which is the sum of all, where is it decreed that the observation of the first day should abrogate, or abolish, the sanctifying of the seventh day, which God commanded everlastingly to be kept holy? Not one of these is expressed in the written word of God.”
In the Catechism of the Christian Religion, by Stephen Keenan (Boston, Patrick Donahoe, 1857), p. 206, on the subject of the third (fourth) commandment, we find these questions and answers: --
“Ques. What does God ordain by this commandment?
“Ans. He ordains that we sanctify, in a special manner, this day on which he rested from the labor of creation.
“Q. What is this day of rest?
“A. The seventh day of the week, or Saturday; for he employed six days in creation, and rested on the seventh. Genesis 2:2; Hebrews 4:1; etc.
“Q. Is it, then, Saturday we should sanctify, in order to obey the ordinance of God?
“A. During the old law, Saturday was the day sanctified; but the church, instructed by Jesus Christ, and directed by the Spirit of God, has substituted Sunday for Saturday; so now we sanctify the first, not the seventh day. Sunday means, and now is, the day of the Lord.”
In the Catholic Christian Instructed (J. P. Kenedy, New York, 1884), p. 202 we read: --
“Ques. What warrant have you for keeping the Sunday preferable to the ancient Sabbath, which was the Saturday?
“Ans. We have for it the authority of the Catholic Church, and apostolic tradition.
“Q. Does the Scripture anywhere command the Sunday to be kept for the Sabbath?
“A. The Scripture commands us to hear the church (Matthew 18:17; Luke 10:16), and to hold fast the traditions of the apostles. 2 Thessalonians 2:15. But the Scriptures do not in particular mention this change of the Sabbath.”
In the Doctrinal Catechism (Kenedy, New York), p. 174, we find further testimony to the same point: --
“Ques. Have you any other way of proving that the church has power to institute festivals of precept?
“Ans. Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her — she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday, the seventh day, a change for which there is no Scriptural authority.”
In Abridgment of Christian Doctrine (Kenedy, New York), p. 58, we find this testimony: --
“Ques. How prove you that the church hath power to command feasts and holy days?
“Ans. By the very act of changing the Sabbath into Sunday, which Protestants allow of; and therefore they fondly contradict themselves by keeping Sunday strictly, and breaking most other feasts commanded by the same church.
“Q. How prove you that?
“A. Because by keeping Sunday they acknowledge the church’s power to ordain feasts, and to command them under sin.”
And finally, W. Lockhart, late B. A. of Oxford, in the Toronto (Catholic) Mirror, offered the following “challenge” to all the Protestants of Ireland, — a challenge as well calculated for this latitude as that. He says: --
“I do therefore solemnly challenge the Protestants of Ireland to prove, by plain texts of Scripture, these questions concerning the obligations of the Christian Sabbath: (1) That Christians may work on Saturday, the old seventh day; (2) that they are bound to keep holy the first day, namely, Sunday; (3) that they are not bound to keep holy the seventh day also.”
This is what the papal power claims to have done respecting the fourth commandment. Catholics plainly acknowledge that there is no Scriptural authority for the change they have made, but that it rests wholly upon the authority of the church; and they claim it as a token, or mark, of the authority of that church; the “very act of changing the Sabbath into Sunday” being set forth as proof of its power in this respect. For further testimony on this point, the reader is referred to a tract published at the Review Office, Battle Creek, Mich., entitled Who Changed the Sabbath? in which are also extracts from Catholic writers refuting the arguments usually relied upon to prove the Sunday Sabbath, and showing that its only authority is the Catholic Church.
“But,” says one, “I supposed that Christ changed the Sabbath.” A great many suppose so, and it is natural that they should; for they have been so taught. And while we have no words of denunciation to utter against any such persons for so believing, we would have them at once understand that it is, in reality, one of the most enormous of errors. We would therefore remind such persons that, according to the prophecy, the only change ever to be made in the law of God, was to be made by the little horn of Daniel 7, the man of sin of 2 Thessalonians 2; and the only change that has been made in it, is the change of the Sabbath. Now, if Christ made this change, he filled the office of the blasphemous power spoken of by both Daniel and Paul, — a conclusion sufficiently hideous to drive any Christian from the view which leads thereto.
Why should any one labor to prove that Christ changed the Sabbath? Whoever does this is performing a thankless task. The pope will not thank him; for if it is proved that Christ wrought this change, then the pope is robbed of his badge of authority and power. And no truly enlightened Protestant will thank him; for if he succeeds, he only shows that the papacy has not done the work which it was predicted that it should do, and so that the prophecy has failed, and the Scriptures are unreliable. The matter would better stand as the prophecy has it, and the claim which the pope unwittingly puts forth would better be granted. When a person is charged with any work, and that person steps forth and confesses that he has done the work, that is usually considered sufficient to settle the matter. So, when the prophecy affirms that a certain power shall change the law of God, and in due time that very power arises, does the work foretold, and then openly claims that he has done it, what need have we of further evidence? The world should not forget that the great apostasy foretold by Paul has taken place; that the man of sin for long ages held almost a monopoly of Christian teaching in the world; that the mystery of iniquity has cast the darkness of its shadow and the errors of its doctrines over almost all Christendom; and that out of this era of error and darkness and corruption, the theology of our day has come. Would it, then, be anything strange if there were yet some relics of popery to be discarded ere the reformation will be complete? A. Campbell (Baptism, p. 15), speaking of the different Protestant sects, says: --
“All of them retain in their bosom, — in their ecclesiastical organizations, worship, doctrines, and observances, — various relics of popery. They are at best a reformation of popery, and only reformations in part. The doctrines and traditions of men yet impair the power and progress of the gospel in their hands.”
The nature of the change which the little horn has attempted to effect in the law of God is worthy of notice. True to his purpose to exalt himself above God, he undertakes to change that commandment which, of all others, is the fundamental commandment of the law, the one which makes known who the lawgiver is, and contains his signature of royalty. The fourth commandment does this; no other one does. Four others, it is true, contain the word God, and three of them the word Lord, also. But who is this Lord God of whom they speak? Without the fourth commandment, it is impossible to tell; for idolaters of every grade apply these terms to the multitudinous objects of their adoration. With the fourth commandment to point out the Author of the decalogue, the claims of every false god are annulled at one stroke; for the God who here demands our worship is not any created being, but the One who created all things. The maker of the earth and sea, the sun, and moon, and all the starry host, the upholder and governor of the universe, is the One who claims, and who, from his position, has a right to claim, our supreme regard in preference to every other object. The commandment which makes known these facts is therefore the very one we might suppose that power which designed to exalt itself above God would undertake to change. God gave the Sabbath as a memorial of himself, a weekly reminder to the sons of men of his work in creating the heavens and the earth, a great barrier against atheism and idolatry. It is the signature and seal of the law. This the papacy has torn from its place, and erected in its stead, on its own authority, another institution, designed to serve another purpose.
This change of the fourth commandment must therefore be the change to which the prophecy points, and Sunday-keeping must be the mark of the beast! Some who have long been taught to regard this institution with reverence will perhaps start back with little less than feelings of horror at this conclusion. We have not space, nor is this, perhaps, the place, to enter into an extended argument on the Sabbath question, and an exposition of the origin and nature of the observance of the first day of the week. Let us submit this one proposition: If the seventh day is still the Sabbath enjoined in the fourth commandment; if the observance of the first day of the week has no foundation whatever in the Scriptures; if this observance has been brought in as a Christian institution, and designedly put in place of the Sabbath of the decalogue by that power which is symbolized by the beast, and placed there as a badge and token of its power to legislate for the church, — is it not inevitably the mark of the beast? The answer must be in the affirmative. But these hypotheses are all certainties.
It will be said again, Then all Sunday-keepers have the mark of the beast; then all the good of past ages who kept this day had the mark of the beast; then Luther, Whitefield, the Wesleys, and all who have done a good and noble work of reformation, had the mark of the beast; then all the blessings that have been poured upon the reformed churches have been poured upon those who had the mark of the beast; and all Christians of the present day who are keeping Sunday as the Sabbath, have the mark of the beast. We answer, Not so! And we are sorry to say that some professedly religious teachers, though many times corrected, persist in misrepresenting us on this point. We have never so held; we have never so taught. Our premises lead to no such conclusions. Give ear: The mark and worship of the beast are enforced by the two-horned beast. The receiving of the mark of the beast is a specific act which the two-horned beast is to cause to be done. The third message of Revelation 14 is a warning mercifully sent out in advance to prepare the people for the coming danger. There can therefore be no worship of the beast, nor reception of his mark, such as the prophecy contemplates till it is enforced by the two-horned beast. We have seen intention was essential to the change which the papacy has made in the law of God, to constitute it the mark of that power; so intention is necessary in the adoption of that change to make it, on the part of any individual, the reception of that mark. In other words, a person must adopt the change knowing it to be the work of the beast, and receive it on the authority of that power, in opposition to the requirement of God.
But how is it with those mentioned above, who have kept Sunday in the past, and the majority of those who are keeping it to-day? Do they keep it as an institution of the papacy? — No. Have they decided between this and the Sabbath of our Lord, understanding the claims of each? — No. On what ground have they kept it, and on what do they still keep it? — They suppose they are keeping a commandment of God. Have such the mark of the beast? — By no means. Their course is attributable to an error unwittingly received from the Church of Rome, not to an act of worship rendered to it.
But how is it to be in the future? The church which is to be prepared for the second coming of Christ must be entirely free from papal errors and corruptions. A reform must hence be made on the Sabbath question. The third angel proclaims the commandments of God, leading men to the true in the place of the counterfeit. The dragon is stirred, and so controls the wicked governments of the earth that all the authority of human power shall be exerted to enforce the claims of the man of sin. Then the issue is fairly before the people. They are required to keep, on the one hand, the true Sabbath; on the other, a counterfeit. For refusing to keep the true, the message threatens the unmingled wrath of God; for refusing the false, earthly governments threaten them with persecution and death. With this issue before the people, what does he do who yields to the human requirement? — He virtually says to God, I know your claims, but I will not heed them. I know that the power I am required to worship is anti-Christian, but I yield to it to save my life. I renounce your allegiance, and bow to the usurper. The beast is henceforth the object of my adoration; under his banner, in opposition to your authority, I henceforth array myself; to him, in defiance of your claims, I henceforth yield the obedience of my heart and life.
Such is the spirit which will actuate the hearts of the beast-worshipers, — a spirit which insults the God of the universe to his face, and is prevented only by lack of power from overthrowing his government and annihilating his throne. Is it any wonder that Jehovah denounces against so Heaven-daring a course the most terrible threatening that his word contains?
13. The Closing Work. — We have now seen what would properly constitute an image to the beast, such as the two-horned beast is to erect, and also the probability that such an image will soon be perfected in this country; and we have also learned what constitutes the mark of the beast, which is to be enforced upon all the people. An ecclesiastical organization composed of a greater or less number of the different sects of our land, with some degree of coalition also between these bodies and Roman Catholicism, together with the promulgation and enforcement of a general Sunday-Sabbath law, would fulfill what the prophecy sets forth in reference to the image and the mark of the beast; and these movements, or their exact equivalent, the prophecy calls for. The line of argument leading to these conclusions is so direct and well-defined that there is no avoiding them. They are a clear and logical sequence from the premises given us.
When the application of Revelation 13:11-17 to the United States was first made, as early as the year 1850, these positions respecting a union of the churches and a grand Sunday movement were taken. But at that time no sign appeared above or beneath, at home or abroad, — no token was seen, no indication existed, that such an issue would ever be made. But there was the prophecy, and that must stand. The United States government had given abundant evidence, by its location, the time of its rise, the manner of its rise, and its apparent character, that it was the power symbolized by the two-horned beast. There could be no mistake in the conclusion that it was the very nation intended by that symbol. This being so, it must take the course and perform the acts foretold. But here were predictions which could be fulfilled by nothing less than the above-named movement respecting church and state, and the enforcement of the papal Sabbath as a mark of the beast.
To take the position at that time that this government was to pursue such a policy and engage in such a work, without any apparent probability in its favor, was no small act of faith. On the other hand, to deny or ignore it, while admitting the application of the symbol to this government, would not be in accordance with either Scripture or logic. The only course for the humble, confiding student of prophecy to pursue in such cases is to take the light as it is given, and believe the prophecy in all its parts. So the stand was boldly taken; and open proclamation has been made from that day to this, that such a work would be seen in the United States. With every review of the argument, new features of strength have been discovered in the application; and amid a storm of scornful incredulity we have watched the progress of events, and awaited the hour of fulfilment.
Meanwhile, Spiritualism has astonished the world with its terrible progress, and shown itself to be the wonder-working element which was to exist in connection with this power. This has mightily strengthened the force of the application. And now, within a few years past, what have we further seen? — No less than the commencement of that very movement respecting the formation of the image, and the enactment of Sunday laws, which we have so long expected, and which is to complete the prophecy and close the scene.
Reference has already been made to the movement to secure a union of the churches for the purpose of adding strength and influence to ecclesiastical movements in certain directions. And now a class of men is suddenly springing up all over the land whose souls are absorbed with the cognate idea of Sunday reform, and who have dedicated themselves, heads, hands, and pockets, to the carrying forward of this kindred movement. Organizations called Sabbath Committees have been formed in various places, and have labored zealously, by means of books, tracts, speeches, and sermons, to create a strong public sentiment in behalf of Sunday. Making slow progress through moral suasion, they seek a shorter path to the accomplishment of their purposes through political power. And why not? Christianity has become popular, and her professed adherents are numerous. Why not avail themselves of the power of the ballot to secure their ends? Rev. J. S. Smart (Methodist), in a published sermon on the Political Duties of Christian Men and Ministers, expresses a leading sentiment on this question, when he says: --
“I claim that we have, and ought to have, just as much concern in the government of this country as any other men. ... We are the mass of the people. Virtue in this country is not weak; her ranks are strong in numbers, and invincible from the righteousness of her cause, — invincible if united. Let not her ranks be broken by party names.”
In accordance with the logical development of these feelings, an association has been formed, now called “The National Reform Association,” which has for its object the securing of legal enactments for religious institutions, by means of such an amendment to the national Constitution as shall “place all Christian laws, institutions, and usages of the government on an undeniable legal basis in the fundamental law of the land.” Here is the germ of religious revolution, the entering wedge of church and state.
This movement originated at Xenia, Ohio, in February, 1863, in a convention composed of eleven different religious denominations, who assembled for prayer and conference.
To be sure the leaders in this movement disclaim vehemently any such purpose as a union of church and state; but a sentence now and then escapes them which reveals more than they intended. Thus, in the Pittsburgh Convention, Dr. Stevenson said: --
“Through the immense largesses it receives from corrupt politicians, the Roman Catholic Church is, practically, the established church of the city of New York. These favors are granted under the guise of a seeming friendliness to religion. We propose to put the substance for the shadow, — to drive out the counterfeit by the completer substitution of the true.”
There are several guess-roads through which we may look for the intent of this language; but inasmuch as they all arrive at one conclusion, this conclusion is neither ambiguous nor doubtful; it is simply that the Protestant Church shall become really established, as the Roman Catholic now is practically. This is confirmed by the very next sentence, which reads: --
“What we propose is nothing of a sectarian character. It will give no branch of American Christians any advantage over any other.”
Professor Blanchard undertakes to give a definition of what they mean by a “union of church and state,” as follows: --
“But union of church and state is the selection by the nation of one church, the endowment of such a church, the appointment of its officers, and the oversight of its doctrines. For such a union, none of us plead. To such a union, we are all of us opposed.”
The reader is requested to mark this well. Here is given a definition of a union of church and state, such as no one expects or fears; such in fact, as is not possible in the existing state of the churches, and then a special plea is set up that they are opposed to a union of church and state! To such an impossible combination as they describe, they may safely write themselves opposed; but to a union of church and state in the popular sense of the phrase, — a union, not of one church, but of all the churches recognized as orthodox, or evangelical, — a union not giving the state power to elect church officers nor to take the oversight of church doctrines, but giving the churches the privilege of enforcing, by civil laws, institutions and usages of religion, according to the faith of the churches, or to the construction put upon those institutions and usages by the churches, — to such a union, we say, they are not opposed. They are essentially and practically, despite their professions, open advocates of a union of church and state.
We are not alone in this view of the subject. Mr. G. A. Townsend (New World and Old, p. 212) says: --
“Church and state has several times crept into American politics, as in the contentions over the Bible in the public schools, the anti-Catholic party of 1844, etc. Our people have been wise enough heretofore to respect the clergy in all religious questions, and to entertain a wholesome jealousy of them in politics. The latest politico-theological movement [italics ours] is to insert the name of the Deity in the Constitution.”
The Christian Union, January, 1871, said: --
“If the proposed amendment is anything more than a bit of sentimental cant, it is to have a legal effect. It is to alter the status of the non-Christian citizen before the law. It is to affect the legal oaths and instruments, the matrimonial contracts, the sumptuary laws, etc., etc., of the country. This would be an outrage on natural right.”
The Janesville (Wis.) Gazette, at the close of an article on the proposed amendment, speaks thus of the effect of the movement, should it succeed: --
“But, independent of the question as to what extent we are a Christian nation, it may well be doubted whether, if the gentlemen who are agitating this question should succeed, they would not do society a very great injury Such measures are but the initiatory steps which ultimately lead to restrictions of religious freedom, and to commit the government to measures which are as foreign to its powers and purposes as would be its action if it should undertake to determine a disputed question of theology.”
The Weekly Alta Californian, of San Francisco, March 12, 1870, said: --
“The parties who have been recently holding a convention for the somewhat novel purpose of procuring an amendment to the Constitution of the United States recognizing the Deity, do not fairly state the case when they assert that it is the right of a Christian people to govern themselves in a Christian manner. If we are not governing ourselves in a Christian manner, how shall the doings of our government be designated? The fact is, that the movement is one to bring about in this country that union of church and state which all other nations are trying to dissolve.”
The Champlain Journal, speaking of incorporating the religious principle into the Constitution, and its effect upon the Jews, said: --
“However slight, it is the entering wedge of church and state. If we may cut off ever so few persons from the right of citizenship on account of difference of religious belief, then with equal justice and propriety may a majority at any time dictate the adoption of still further articles of belief, until our Constitution is but a text-book of a sect, beneath whose tyrannical sway all liberty of religious opinion will be crushed.”
Petitions and remonstrances are both being circulated with activity; and shrewd observers, who have watched the movement with a jealous eye, and heretofore hoped it would amount to nothing, now confess that it “is formidable.” No movement of equal magnitude of purpose has ever sprung up and become strong, and secured favor so rapidly as this. Indeed, none of equal magnitude has ever been sprung upon the American mind, as this aims to remodel the whole framework of our government, and give to it a strong religious cast, — a thing which the framers of our Constitution were careful to exclude from it. They not only ask that the Bible, God, and Christ shall be recognized in the Constitution, but that it shall indicate this as “a Christian nation, and place all Christian laws, institutions, and usages of the government, on an undeniable legal basis in the fundamental law of the nation.”
Of course, appropriate legislation will be required to carry such amendments into effect, and somebody will have to decide what are “Christian laws and institutions.” From what we learn of such movements in the past in other countries, and of the temper of the churches of this country, and of human nature when it has power suddenly conferred upon it, we look for no good from this movement. From a lengthy article in the Lansing (Mich.) State Republican in reference to the Cincinnati Convention, held in 1872, we take the following extract: --
“Now there are hundreds and thousands of moral and professedly Christian people in this nation to-day who do not recognize the doctrine of the Trinity, — do not recognize Jesus Christ the same as God. And there are hundreds and thousands of men and women who do not recognize the Bible as the revelation of God. The attempt to make any such amendment to the Constitution would be regarded by a large minority, perhaps a majority, of our nation as a palpable violation of liberty of conscience. Thousands of men, if called upon to vote for such an amendment, would hesitate to vote against God, although they might not believe that the amendment is necessary or that it is right; and such men would either vote affirmatively or not at all. In every case, such an amendment would be likely to receive an affirmative vote which would by no means indicate the true sentiment of the people. And the same rule would hold good in relation to the adoption of such an amendment by Congress or by the legislatures of three quarters of the States. Men who make politics a trade would hesitate to record their names against the proposed Constitutional Amendment, advocated by the leaders of the great religious denominations of the land, and endorsed by such men as Bishop Simpson, Bishop McIlvaine, Bishop Eastburn, President Finney, Professor Lewis, Professor Seelye, Bishop Huntington, Bishop Kerfoot, Dr. Patterson, Dr. Cuyler, and many other divines who are the representative men of their respective denominations.”
Among the first bills to be presented to the United States Congress on its assembling in December, 1895, was this same religious amendment of the Constitution. This shows the unmitigated persistence with which this matter is to be pressed.
Not only the representative men of the churches are pledged to this movement, but governors, judges, and many of the most eminent men of the land, are working for it. Who doubts the power of the “representative men of the denominations” to rally the strength of their denominations to sustain this work at their call? We utter no prophecy of the future; it is not needed. Events transpire in these days faster than our minds are prepared to grasp them. Let us heed the admonition to “watch !” and, with reliance upon Go. d, prepare for “those things which are coming on the earth.”
But it may be asked how the Sunday question is to be affected by the proposed Constitutional Amendment. Answer: The object, or, to say the least, one object of this amendment, is to put the Sunday institution on a legal basis, and compel its observance by the arm of the law. At the national convention held in Philadelphia, Jan. 18, 19, 1871, the following resolution was among the first offered by the business committee: --
“Resolved, That, in view of the controlling power of the Constitution in shaping State as well as national policy, it is of immediate importance to public morals and to social order, to secure such an amendment as will indicate that this is a Christian nation, and place all Christian laws, institutions, and usages in our government on an undeniable legal basis in the fundamental law of the nation, specially those which secure a proper oath, and which protect society against blasphemy, Sabbath-breaking, and polygamy.”
By Sabbath-breaking is meant nothing else but Sundaybreaking. In a convention of the friends of Sunday, assembled Nov. 29, 1870, in New Concord, Ohio, one of the speakers is reported to have said: “The question [of Sunday observance] is closely connected with the National Reform Movement; for until the government comes to know God and honor his law, we need not expect to restrain Sabbath-breaking corporations.” Here, again, the idea of the legal enforcement of Sunday observance stands foremost; and the same principle would apply equally to individuals.
Once more: the Philadelphia Press of Dec. 5, 1870, stated that some congressmen arrived in Washington by Sunday trains, December 4, on which the Christian Statesman commented as follows (we give italics as we find them): --
“1. Not one of those men who thus violated the Sabbath is fit to hold any official position in a Christian nation....
“2. The sin of these congressmen is a national sin, because the nation hath not said to them in the Constitution, the supreme rule for our public servants, ‘We charge you to serve us in accordance with the higher law of God.’ These Sabbath-breaking railroads, moreover, are corporations created by the state, and amenable to it. The state is responsible to God for the conduct of these creatures which it calls into being. It is bound, therefore, to restrain them from this as from other crimes, and any violation of the Sabbath by any corporation should work immediate forfeiture of its charter. And the Constitution of the United States, with which all State legislation is required to be in harmony, should be of such a character as to prevent any State from tolerating such infractions of fundamental moral law.
“3. Give us in the national Constitution the simple acknowledgment of the law of God as the supreme law of nations, and all the results indicated in this note will ultimately be secured. Let no one say that the movement does not contemplate sufficiently practical ends.”
No less significant is the fact that the Sunday agitation is appearing in other countries simultaneously with the Sunday movement in America. Who can explain the fact that Sunday seems everywhere coming to the front, except on the ground that we have reached the time pointed out in prophecy when such a movement should be seen? The Chester (Eng.) Chronicle of July 9, 1881, reported a meeting of three thousand persons in Liverpool in favor of closing all public houses on Sunday. The Christian Statesman of July 22, 1880, gave information from England to the effect that a “Working-man’s Lord’s-day Rest Association” had been formed there, and that two of England’s prime ministers, Beaconsfield and Gladstone, had given their voice against the opening of museums, etc., on Sunday. The same policy is enforced by some, at least, of the English in their dependencies. One of the first acts of the Marquis of Ripon, who was made viceroy of India in 1880, was, according to the Christian Weekly, to issue an order forbidding official work of any kind on Sunday.
In France the question is also agitated. The senate having occasion to consider some proposed changes in the Sunday laws, an eminent senator, M. Barthélemy Saint Hilaire, according to the French journal, Le Christianisme au 19e Siècle, of June 11, 1880, opened the eyes of his hearers by clear argument showing that the seventh day, and not the first day, is the Sabbath of the Bible.
In Switzerland and Germany also this question is before the people. In the latter country, according to the New York Independent, a meeting was held a few years ago, numbering some five thousand persons, to encourage a more strict observance of Sunday. Many of these were socialists.
Austria also shares in the general movement. A New York paper, in January, 1883, published this item: --
“A telegram from Vienna, Austria, says: ‘A meeting of 3000 workmen was held to-day, at which a resolution was passed protesting against Sunday work. A resolution was also passed in favor of legal prohibition of newspaper and other work on that day.’”
There is a local Sabbath [Sunday] Committee in many of the great cities, and an International Sabbath [Sunday] Association to secure the co-operation of other nations. This Association has its headquarters in Washington, D. C.
Another organization, called The American Sabbath Union, has come into existence to forward the movement in behalf of Sunday observance; and other reform organizations have swung into the same line. Notable among these is the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, which has great strength in the United States, and many auxiliaries in other lands, as well. This organization, having at first in view the one specific object of temperance reform, has now added to its declared intention, the enthroning of Christ in American politics, in order to secure, in this land, a theocracy, and the better observance of the Sunday. In this theocracy, of course, if established, theological leaders would be the interpreters of Christ’s will, and their decisions be enforced upon the people by the civil law. And what would this be but the papacy over again, well called in the prophecy “an image” of that beast?
What these National Reformers desire and design to secure in their campaign, is expressed by one of the secretaries of said association, F. M. Foster, in the Christian Statesman, October, 1892. He says: --
“But one danger lies in this: The church does not speak as a church. The American Sabbath Union has done a good work. The denominations have spoken. But the Christian organized church has not officially gone to Washington and spoken. The work there has been largely turned over to associations. But the voice of God, authoritative, official, is through his church. Should there not be joint action of the denominations in this? They should, it would appear, appoint a joint committee to speak for God; and properly and courageously done, there can follow but the very best results.... Much is lost by the church failing officially to speak at the right time, and in the right place. No association is clothed with this authority. They are individual and social; but the church is divine. She can, and ought to, utter the voice of God in the halls of Congress, as an organized church.”
The italics are as we find them; but other declarations in the foregoing extract, are equally deserving of emphasis. It may well be questioned whether any more arrogant and pompous words were uttered previous to the setting up of the papacy itself. What they complain that they lack, they of course intend to have. And look at the picture: The church (that is the different denominations, confederating on dogmas held in common, and represented by a “joint committee,” — a central authority) is divine, and woe unto all dissenters from the authority of a divine church! So said Rome in its palmiest days of dungeons, stakes, and blood; so she would say to-day had she the power; and so apostatized Protestantism will say when it gets the power! And this “joint committee” is to “speak for God,” “utter the voice of God” (a second vicegerent of the Most High, now claimed as a monopoly by the pope), and authoritatively and officially, lay upon Congress the commands of God, for it to perform! Such are the dark schemes for which these men are now working. Alas! that the realization of them should now stand as an attainable prospect before their eyes! Did ever Rome ask for more? And when these would-be spokesmen for God secure their object, will it not be, we still ask, Rome over again in a Protestant garb — a very image of the beast itself?
Another most significant and alarming step toward the accomplishment of these evil designs, is the position taken by the great “Christian Endeavor” movement, which has risen to a membership of millions within a few years, and is a common channel through which all denominations can work. The political functions of this great body are centered in a “Christian Citizenship League,” which boasts that it will have branches in every State, county, city, village, and hamlet, in the United States, and see to it that only Christian men are put into office. What remarkable “conversions” will then take place! How politicians will become “Christians,” and the “millennium” hasten on! At the great Christian Endeavor convention, held in Boston, Mass., July 10-15, 1895, W. H. McMillan, as given in the published Proceedings, p. 19, said: --
“Here is a power that is going to wrest the control of affairs from the hands of political demagogues, and place it in the hands of Him who is King over all, and rules the world in righteousness. Our political leaders have been counting the saloon vote, the illiterate vote, and the stay-at-home vote, and all other elements that have hitherto entered into their canvassings of probabilities; but they have not yet learned to count the Christian Endeavor vote. I want to serve notice on them now that the time is drawing near when they will discover that a political revolution has occurred, and they will be found coming home from Washington and our State capitals without a job.”
These sentiments were cheered to the echo in the convention; and it is not difficult to foresee the effect they will have; for they were intended for that class of men among whom they “will do the most good,” that is, the body of average politicians, who when threatened with a boycott, become the most abject sycophants on the face of the earth.
All this, however, would be of no avail, if those who are really patriots at heart would awake to this danger before they find themselves committed to movements, the effects of which they did not foresee, and if the two houses of Congress would stand true to the Constitution which they are sworn to maintain; for this movement means nothing less than a subversion of that noble instrument.
But alas! Congress has already turned its back on its sacred trust to fawn upon the church influence so rapidly rising. When the managers of the World’s Fair of 1893, in Chicago, asked Congress for an appropriation in their behalf, churchmen brought their influence to bear upon the national legislators, and induced them to make it a condition of the gift that the gates of the Fair be closed on Sunday. In carrying this point a most remarkable scene occurred. A senator called for a Bible and caused the clerk to read the fourth commandment of the decalogue; whereupon grave statesmen argued, and at length by vote decided, that the day enjoined by that commandment as the Sabbath, is Sunday!
This was legislating upon a religious question, which the Constitution expressly forbids. (See Amendment I.) It broke down the barriers against the union of church and state, and opened the flood-gates for all the evils that invariably accompany such a union. The religious-amendment clergy hailed the event as a great triumph, and now openly boast that they have Congress in their hands, and can compel it to do their bidding. How far away, then, is that “image,” the coming of which the Scriptures have foretold? The outlines of every element necessary for its erection are clearly developed; all the agents sufficient for an assault upon the bulwarks of American liberty are being rapidly enrolled and drilled; the outposts have already been carried; and as these pages go to press, the leaders of this fatal revolution are again clamoring around the citadel of the nation’s strength. It needs but another step to turn the nation entirely from its high commission as the conservator of the principles of the gospel; that is, to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s,” and lead it to form and foster a religious tyranny which will fetter the consciences of men, and crush out soul liberty among the people. And this tyranny will be as much more wicked than any that has gone before it, as men have now more light, and the experience of all the past to guide them.
What the practical working of these changes will be is already made apparent. On the statute-books of most of the States of the American Union, are found Sunday laws; and as the agitation in behalf of the seventh day increases, religious zealots are not slow to use these laws to put the machinery of persecution in operation. Observers of the seventh day manifest no defiance of these laws, in laboring on Sunday, as the higher law of God gives them an unalienable right to do; and they studiously refrain from disturbing others, or in any way infringing upon their rights, by boisterous or offensive labor. Yet it is construed to be “disturbance,” if they are even seen anywhere at work, or even if it is known that they are at work anywhere, though unseen or unheard. If no other way appears for detection, they are searched out by ministers or church-members, or the police acting under their direction. Then follow arrest, conviction, and penalty by fine, imprisonment, or the chain-gang. Up to Jan. 1, 1896, ninety arrests of this kind had been made, some of them under circumstances of great oppression and cruelty, and prisoners had served an aggregate of nearly fifteen hundred days in jail and chain-gangs. And from the windows of some of these jails these very seventh-day keepers, who were there confined in “durance vile,” for not resting on Sunday, could behold on Sundays train-loads of workmen going to their labor, picnickers to their frolic, hunters to their game, and railroad cars to their traffic. But these, it is to be observed, were not keepers of the seventh day. National Reformers, years ago, professed to smile at the apprehensions of those who keep the seventh day, that their work would result in persecution. Now they only smile a little more grimly and call for stricter laws — for the seventh-day people.
Most of the State governments have in their constitutions, or in their adopted “Bill of Rights,” provisions guaranteeing the fullest religious liberty; and the inconsistency of legislating on religious questions, under these circumstances, is at once seen; while the treachery of oppressing people for opinion’s sake, in such lands, is keenly felt. Every conceivable invention is therefore resorted to, to make it appear that it is not religious persecution at all, but only the question of obedience to civil law. One of these inventions is that Sunday is only a civil institution, and its enforcement only a police regulation, a civil requirement necessary for the public good. But this is impossible; for every one knows that Sunday in its origin, history, and very nature, is a religious institution. No claims in its behalf would ever have been heard of, but for its religious basis. Hence any enactment to enforce it by pains and penalties is religious legislation and religious oppression.
But if there is a law for it, should not that law be obeyed until repealed? Every law that does not trench upon the domain of conscience, if it becomes unacceptable to the people, should nevertheless be obeyed, till it can be changed or repealed. But Sunday laws interfere with the conscience of the observer of another day, and for that reason cannot “bear upon all alike.” And no true Christian can make his obedience to God depend upon the permission of his fellow men. It may be said again, In a country like the United States, do not majorities rule? and must not their decisions be obeyed? And the answer again is, Yes, in everything but questions of conscience, but never there. “Render... unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.” Men may legislate to guard the mutual rights of all members of society, but no further; and in this they will never infringe upon the rights of any one’s conscience; for a “good” conscience (1 Peter 3:21) will never invade the rights of others, like the polygamy of the Mormons, or the human sacrifices of the heathen.
The founders of the American republic never intended that any trouble should arise, through the laws of the land, over any question of conscience; but they permitted the evil principle of religious laws to remain in their political structure, a principle sure to spring to life at the first opportunity. In the further development of religious truth, it is now found that these laws forbid men to render obedience to what the Bible requires of them, and thus conflict with their unalienable rights. Such laws, therefore, the Christian cannot regard, and the government, to be true to its professed principles, should wipe them off the statute-books wherever found. But this the religio-political clergy will not permit; and the nation is doomed; for it will thus put itself in line with the religious despotisms of the past; and the cry will go up from God’s suffering children, “It is time for thee, Lord, to work: for they have made void thy law.” Psalms 119:126.
And this work is not confined to America. In Switzerland, by an iniquitous application of a so-called “Factory Law,” in behalf of Sunday, the authorities have closed the large printing establishment of the Seventh-day Adventists, although state troops drill, and target practice is performed, on Sunday, with all the accompaniments of such exercises, in the campus immediately in front of the building. This has been repeated in London, where the office of a Seventh-day Adventist paper, The Present Truth, has been closed by the English authorities, on the same grounds.
While, according to the prophecy, the “image” can be looked for only in the United States, the worship of the beast will prevail in other countries also; for all the world is to wonder after the beast.
Some one may now say, As you expect this movement to carry, you must look for a period of religious persecution in the United States; nay, more, you must take the position that all the saints of God are to be put to death; for the image is to cause that all who will not worship it shall be killed.
A period of persecution has been, for about fifty years expected and predicted. It has now begun and is thus demonstrating the correctness of the application of the prophecy as set forth in this work; but it does not by any means follow that all, and we do not think that even many, will be put to death, though a decree to that effect will be promulgated; for, as the prophet elsewhere declares, God does not abandon his people to defeat in this dire conflict, but grants them a complete victory over the beast, his image, his mark, and the number of his name. Revelation 15:2. We further read respecting this earthly power, that he causeth all to receive a mark in their right hand or in their foreheads; yet chapter 20:4 speaks of the people of God as those who do not receive the mark, nor worship the image. If, then, he could “cause” all to receive the mark, and yet all not actually receive it, in like manner his causing all to be put to death who will not worship the image does not necessarily signify that their lives are actually to be taken.
But how can this be? Answer: It evidently comes under that rule of interpretation in accordance with which verbs of action sometimes signify merely the will and endeavor to do the action in question, and not the actual performance of the thing specified. The late George Bush, Professor of Hebrew and Oriental Literature in New York City University, makes this matter plain. In his notes on Exodus 7:11 he says: --
“It is a canon of interpretation of frequent use in the exposition of the sacred writings that verbs of action sometimes signify merely the will and endeavor to do the action in question. Thus in Ezekiel 24:13: ‘I have purified thee, and thou wast not purged;’ i. e., I have endeavored, used means, been at pains, to purify thee. John 5:44: ‘How can ye believe which receive honor one of another;’ i. e., endeavor to receive. Romans 2:4: ‘The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance;’ i. e., endeavors, or tends, to lead thee. Amos 9:3: ‘Though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea;’ i. e., though they aim to be hid. 1 Corinthians 10:33: ‘I please all men;’ i. e., endeavor to please. Galatians 5:4: ‘Whosoever of you are justified by the law;’ i. e., seek or endeavor to be justified. Psalms 69:4: ‘They that destroy me are mighty;’ i. e., that endeavor to destroy me; English, ‘That would destroy me.’ Acts 7:26: ‘And set them at one again:’ i. e., wished and endeavored, English, ‘Would have set them.’”
So in the passage before us. He causes all to receive a mark, and all who will not worship the image to be killed; that is, he wills, purposes, and endeavors to do this. He makes such an enactment, passes such a law, but is not able to execute it; for God interposes in behalf of his people; and then those who have kept the word of Christ’s patience are kept from falling in this hour of temptation, according to Revelation 3:10; then those who have made God their refuge are kept from all evil, and no plague comes nigh their dwelling, according to Psalms 91:9, 10; then all who are found written in the book are delivered, according to Daniel 12:1; and, being victors over the beast and his image, they are redeemed from among men, and raise a song of triumph before the throne of God, according to Revelation 14:2-4.
The objector may further say, You are altogether too credulous in supposing that the masses of our people, many of whom are either indifferent or wholly opposed to the claims of religion, can be so far brought to favor the religious observance of Sunday that a general law can be promulgated in its behalf.
We answer, The prophecy must be fulfilled, and if the prophecy requires such a revolution, it will be accomplished.
To receive the mark of the beast in the forehead, is, we understand, to give the assent of the mind and judgment to his authority in the adoption of that institution which constitutes the mark. By parity of reasoning, to receive it in the hand would be to signify allegiance by some outward act.
18 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.
The Number of his Name. — The number of the beast, says the prophecy, “is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six” (666). This number, some attempt to find in the word Lateinos, the “Latin” kingdom. Thus they make, by what rule we do not understand, L stand for 30; A, for 1; T, for 300; E, for 5; I, for 10; N, for 50; O, for 70; and S, for 200; which numbers, added together, make 666. Deriving the number from the name in this manner, must be regarded as rather conjectural than otherwise, seeing that names making just that number can be found to almost any extent. We think we discover, however, a serious objection to the name here suggested. The number, says the prophecy, is the number of a man; and if it is to be derived from a name or title, the natural conclusion would be that it must be the name or title of some particular man. But in this we have the name of a people, or kingdom, not of “a man,” as the prophecy says.
The most plausible name we have ever seen suggested as containing the number of the beast, is the title which the pope applies to himself, and allows others to apply to him. That title is this: Vicarius Filii Dei, “Vicegerent of the Son of God.” Taking the letters out of this title which the Latins used as numerals, and giving them their numerical value, we have just 666. Thus we have V, 5; I, 1; C, 100 (a and r not used as numerals); I, 1; U (formerly the same as V), 5; (s and f not used as numerals); I, 1; L, 50; I, 1; I, 1; D, 500; (e not used as a numeral); I, 1. Adding these numbers together, we have just 666.
The following extract on this point is from a work entitled The Reformation, bearing the date of 1832: --
“‘Mrs. A.,’ said Miss Emmons, ‘I saw a very curious fact the other day; I have dwelt upon it much, and will mention it. A person, lately, was witnessing a ceremony of the Romish Church As the pope passed him in the procession, splendidly dressed in his pontifical robes, the gentleman’s eye rested on these full, blazing letters in front of his miter: “VICARIUS FILII DEI,” the Vicar of the Son of God. His thoughts, with the rapidity of lightning, reverted to Revelation 13:18.’ ‘Will you turn to it?’ said Mrs. A. Alice opened the New Testament, and read: ‘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.’ She paused, and Miss Emmons said, ‘He took out his pencil, and marking the numerical letters of the inscription on his tablet, it stood 666.”
Here we have indeed the number of a man, even the “man of sin;” and it is a little singular, perhaps providential, that he should select a title which shows the blasphemous character of the beast, and then cause it to be inscribed upon his miter, as if to brand himself with the number 666. The foregoing extract doubtless refers to a particular pope on a particular occasion. Other popes might not wear the title emblazoned on the miter, as there stated. But this does not affect the application at all; for the popes all assume to be the “Vicar of Christ” (see Standard Dictionary under “vicar”) and the Latin words given above, are the words which express that title, in the form “vicar of the Son of God;” and their numerical value is 666.
Thus closes chapter 13, leaving the people of God with the powers of earth in deadly array against them, and the decrees of death and banishment from society out upon them, for their adherence to the truth. Spiritualism will be, at the time specified, performing its most imposing wonders, deceiving all the world except the elect. Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12. This will be the “hour of temptation,” or trial, which is to come, as the closing test, upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth as mentioned in Revelation 3:10. What is the issue of this conflict? This important inquiry is not left unanswered. The first five verses of the following chapter, which should have been numbered as a part of this, complete the chain of this prophecy, and reveal the glorious triumph of the champions of the truth.