1. And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten diadems, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. 2. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet like a bear’s, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion; and the dragon gave him his power, and his throne, and great authority. 3. And I saw one of his heads as if wounded to death; and the stroke of his death was healed; and the whole earth wondered after the beast. 4. And they adored the dragon, which gave authority to the beast; and they adored the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to fight with him?
5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and there was given unto him authority to work forty-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 there was given him authority over every tribe and tongue and nation. 8. And all that dwell on the earth shall adore Him whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. 9. If anyone hath an ear let him hear.
10 If anyone shall lead into captivity he shall go into captivity, if anyone shall kill with the sword, he must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. 11. And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon. 12. And he exerciseth all the authority of the first beast before him, and he causeth the earth and them that dwell therein to adore the first beast, whose stroke of his death was healed. 13. And he doeth great signs, so that he also maketh fire to come down from heaven unto the earth before men. 14. And he seduceth them that dwell upon the earth, on account of the signs which were given for him to do before the beast; saying to them that dwell upon the earth, that they should make an image to the beast which hath the stroke of the sword and did live.
15 And it was given unto him to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast may both speak, and cause that as many as do not adore the image of the beast should be killed. 16. And he causeth all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free and the bond, that he should give them a mark upon their right hand, and upon their foreheads. 17. And that no one could buy or sell, if he hath not the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. 18. Here is wisdom. He that hath intelligence let him count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred sixty-six.
In this chapter the dragon continues to be treated of, and the doctrine and faith which is meant by it is described; what its quality is with the laity, and afterwards what its quality is with the clergy: by “the beast coming up out of the sea,” that doctrine and faith with the laity is described (verses 1-10); and by “the beast out of the earth,” the same with the clergy (verses 11-17): lastly, concerning the falsification of the truth of the Word by the latter (verse 18).
Verse 1. “And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea”
The laity in the churches of the Reformed, who are principled in the doctrine and faith of the dragon concerning God and salvation:
“Having seven heads”
Insanity arising from mere falsities:
“And ten horns”
“And upon his horns ten diadems”
The power of falsifying many truths of the Word:
“And upon his heads the name of blasphemy”
Denial of the Lord’s Divine Human, and doctrine of the church not drawn from the Word, but from self-derived intelligence.
Verse 2. “And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard”
A heresy destructive of the church because derived from truths of the Word falsified:
“And his feet like a bear’s”
Full of fallacies from the literal sense of the Word read but not understood:
“And his mouth as the mouth of a lion”
Reasonings from falsities as if from truths:
“And the dragon gave him his power, and his throne, and great authority”
This heresy prevails and reigns in consequence of its reception by the laity.
Verse 3. “And I saw one of his heads as if wounded to death”
The doctrine of faith alone does not accord with the Word, in which works are so often enjoined:
“And the stroke of his death was healed”
The remedy applied on this account:
“And the whole earth wondered after the beast”
Then this doctrine and faith was gladly received.
Verse 4. “And they adored the dragon which gave authority to the beast”
The acknowledgment that it is such as is laid down by the leaders and teachers, who have established its authority on the reception they have procured for it among the community at large:
“And they adored the beast”
The acknowledgment on the part of the community that it is holy truth:
“Saying, who is like unto the beast? Who is able to fight with him?”
The excellence of that doctrine, because it cannot be contradicted by anyone.
Verse 5. “And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies”
That it teaches what is evil and false:
“And there was given unto him authority to work forty-two months”
The liberty of teaching and doing the evils and falsities of that doctrine, even to the end of that church and the beginning of the new.
Verse 6. “And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name”
Their sayings, which are scandals against the essential Divinity and Divine Human of the Lord, and at the same time against everything relating to the church derived from the Word, whereby the Lord is worshiped:
“And his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven”
Scandals against the Lord’s celestial kingdom and against heaven.
Verse 7. “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints and to overcome them,”
They have impugned the Divine truths of the Word, and cast them down to the ground:
“And there was given him authority over every tribe and tongue and nation”
Consequent dominion over all things of the church, both as to its doctrine and as to its life.
Verse 8. “And all that dwell on the earth shall adore him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb”
All acknowledged that heretical doctrine as holy in the church, except those who believed in the Lord:
“Slain from the foundation of the world”
The Lord’s Divine Human not acknowledged from the first establishment of the church.
Verse 9. “If anyone hath an ear let him hear”
They should attend to this who desire to attain wisdom.
Verse 10. “If anyone shall lead into captivity he shall go into captivity”
He who by means of this heretical doctrine misleads others from believing well and living well, will himself be drawn into hell by his own evils and falsities:
“If anyone shall kill with the sword he must be killed with the sword”
He who by means of falsities destroys the soul of another, is himself destroyed by falsities, and perishes:
“Here is the patience and the faith of the saints”
The man of the Lord’s New Church, by temptations from such things, is explored as to the quality of his life and faith.
Verse 11. “And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth”
The clergy who are principled in the doctrine and faith of the dragon concerning God and salvation:
“And he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon”
What they say, teach, and write is from the Word, as though it were the Lord’s Divine truth, and yet it is truth falsified.
Verse 12. “And he exerciseth all the authority of the first beast before him”
They confirmed these tenets, which thence derive their authority:
“And he causeth the earth and them that dwell therein to adore the first beast whose stroke of his death was healed”
From their being received by the community at large, it is established and confirmed that they ought to be acknowledged and held sacred in the church.
Verse 13. “And he doeth great signs”
Testifications that the things they teach are true, although they are false:
“So that he also maketh fire to come down from heaven unto the earth before men”
Attestations that their falsities are truths.
Verse 14. “And he seduceth them that dwell upon the earth, on account of the signs, which were given him to do before the beast”
By their testifications and attestations they lead the men of the church into errors:
“Saying to them that dwell upon the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which hath the stroke of a sword and did live”
They induce the men of the church to receive for doctrine, that faith is the only medium of salvation, for the reasons already mentioned.
Verse 15. “And it was given unto him to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast may both speak”
It was permitted them to confirm that doctrine by means of the Word, whereby it does as it were receive life when it is taught:
“And cause that as many as do not adore the image of the beast should be killed”
They denounce damnation against those who do not acknowledge their doctrine of faith to be the holy doctrine of the church.
Verse 16. “And he causeth all, both the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free and the bond”
All in that church, whatsoever may be their condition, learning, and intelligence:
“That he should give them a mark in their right hand or in their foreheads”
No one is acknowledged to be a Reformed Christian unless he receives that doctrine in faith and love.
Verse 17. “And that no one could buy or sell, if he hath not the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name”
It is not lawful for anyone to teach from the Word, unless he acknowledges it, and swears to the belief and love thereof, or to something which amounts to the same.
Verse 18. “Here is wisdom”
It is the part of a wise man, from what had been said and explained in this chapter, to see and understand the nature of the doctrine and faith of the clergy respecting God and salvation:
“He that hath intelligence let him count the number of the beast”
He who is in illumination from the Lord, may know the nature and quality of the proofs they produce from the Word in confirmation of that doctrine and faith:
“For it is the number of a man”
The quality of the Word and thence of the church:
“And his number is six hundred sixty-six”
This quality, that all the truth of the Word is falsified by them.
Author: Emanuel Swedenborg (Apocalypse Revealed)
THE BEAST WHOSE DEADLY WOUND WAS HEALED;
AND THE BEAST WHICH DID WONDERS,
AND MADE FIRE COME DOWN FROM HEAVEN.
And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority. And 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 (Rev. xiii. 2, 3).
IN our previous discourse we dwelt with reverential delight on the sublime scene of the woman clothed with the sun, the glorious symbol of the true Church of God. The office of the Church to be a mother, by whom heavenly sons and daughters arise, born again, to be nursed, fed, trained, and strengthened, is full of interest and importance. Jerusalem, said the Apostle, which is above, is free, which is the mother of us all (Gal. iv. 26).
How tender should the Church be to be worthy of this appellation, mother. Her holy enterprise in the world is to announce to all the children of men: Ye must be born again. Ye have in you angelic seed. You are intended for heaven. Become babes in Christ; feed on the sincere milk of the Word, until you can take strong meat, and grow to the full stature of a man–likenesses of the Divine Man, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The seed of this woman, all born of her, are described in the last verse of the 12th chapter as those Who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. In the 14th chapter, 12th verse, there is a similar description: Here is the patience of the saints; here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
It is the sacred duty of the Church to teach gently to young souls that the commandments of God are not grievous. They are the ways of pleasantness, the paths of peace. To sustain the weak, to cheer the weary, to encourage the brave; to be a light to all, to sustain righteousness in the various walks of human life, to hold up a model of life that will brink out all that is noblest and best in man, that will instruct him, make him a man–that is, an angel, and throw a radiance over lifes end, which will illuminate the pathway to heaven, these are the functions of this wife of the Lamb–the woman clothed with the sun.
The dragon stood opposed to the woman, ready to devour her man-child as soon as he was born, and therefore he represents a system opposed to keeping the commandments of God as necessary to salvation–opposed to THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS, as given in this Divine Book–that is, to be adored as the All in all–King of kings and Lord of Lords (Rev. xix. 16).
The description of the seed of the woman, as represented to be those who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus, is the definition of the essentials of true religion.
To have in heart and mind the testimony of Jesus, and to keep the commandments of God, are the substance of all that is necessary for happiness and for heaven. How simple this is, and how complete.
True Christians are always the same. They have the testimony of Jesus, and keep the commandments of God. But what is the testimony of Jesus? It is elsewhere called the faith of Jesus. It may be understood as the testimony concerning Jesus, and thus be in harmony with the saying of the angel: The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (chap. xix. 10). Or it may be understood as the testimony of Jesus to the truth respecting Himself.
Faith is the gift of God to earnest hearts who seek it. He who obtains the inward testimony of Jesus will have the right testimony. He who obtains the faith of Jesus from Jesus will have the right faith.
Sincere inquirers will come, like the Greeks who addressed Philip, and say, Sir, we would see Jesus. Earnest souls seek God in such wise that they can comprehend with the mind, and love Him with the whole heart.
The seed of the woman, the sons of the kingdom, have the testimony of Jesus, which is the spirit of prophecy. What is, then, the spirit of prophecy? It is that Jehovah, our Redeemer would come into the world for mans deliverance. As for our Redeemer, Jehovah of Hosts is His name, the God of the whole earth shall He be called (Isa. liv. 6). Thou, O Jehovah, art our Father, our Redeemer, Thy name is from everlasting (Isa. xliii. 11). I, even I, am Jehovah, and beside Me there is no Savior (Isa. xliii. 11). I am the Lord thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no God but Me; for there is no Savior beside Me (Hos. xiii. 4). I will ransom them from the power of the grave (hell). I will redeem them from death (v. 14).
This is the testimony of Jesus. He is the all-sufficient and only sufficient Savior. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning; and the End, the First and the Last: Who is, Who was, and Who is to come, the Almighty (Rev. i. 8).
But if the testimony of Jesus is that He is the only God, All in all, then it follows that every Divine blessing will come to the soul that prays to Him, cleaves to Him, and abides in Him.
The delicious rapture that enters the heart which thus trusts, is expressed in the tender words of Bernard:
O hope of every contrite heart!
O joy of all the meek!
To those who fall, how kind Thou art–
How good to those who seek!
But what to those who find? Ah, this
No tongue nor pen can shew:
The love of Jesus, what it is,
NONE BUT THE LOVED ONES KNOW.
When the Church became wealthy and proud, its spirit was entirely altered, and became the spirit of pre-eminence, of bigotry, quarrel, persecution, war, and desolation.
Who should be greatest was the ambitious desire of these nominal Christians; not who should be least, who should be most obedient, humblest, and best. Such Christianity became, and such far too largely it still remains.
This is the spirit of the dragon, that old serpent, the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world. The serpent means the spirit of selfishness, the desire to be greatest, self-seeking–the universal curse.
In a single individual, it is his serpent, and it is what our Savior desires to give us power to subdue. I give you power, He said, to tread upon the serpents and scorpions, and all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you (Luke x. 18). The Pharisees were marked and obstinate instances of self-seeking, and the Lord Jesus denounced them in the awful words: Ye serpents, how can ye escape the damnation of hell (Matt. xxiii. 33). The old serpent, the Devil and Satan, means selfishness in the mass, as it has troubled the whole world in every age, taking sometimes one form, and sometimes another, but always the enemy of the kingdom of God. The head of the serpent is the collection of the selfish in the inner universe, called hell, whose power the Savior came to crush (Gen. iii. 15).
The dragon, which stood ready to oppose and persecute the woman and her child, represents a system of religion opposed to the supreme Divinity of the Lord Jesus, and the life of keeping Gods commandments.
It is a system essentially selfish, hard, and bitter–dragon-like, It is very clever in its own esteem. It has seven heads, and much power, from familiarity with Divine truth; ten hems, and seven crowns upon its heads; much Divine wisdom, to give it plausibility and attract success.
It means a system apparently religious, but so warped that people are led to believe they can be saved, and go to heaven without change of heart, and without a virtuous life.
It makes three Gods, but calls them three persons, instead of the One God, the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. It makes the work of redemption a transaction amongst these persons. The First Divine Person, according to it, is infinitely wrathful, denouncing the most horrible and everlasting miseries for the slightest offence; the Second, infinitely merciful, and ready to suffer the most terrible punishments to save the meanest sinner from the wrath of the First. Religion is made, in substance, to consist in learning the terrors of the First Divine Person, and believing in the mercy of the Second; thus, in a change in God, not a change in man–God being pacified, and the sinner escaping punishment.
Thus the unity of God in the person of the Lord Jesus, in Whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, is opposed in the dragon system, by the declaration that in God there are Three Divine Persons, each of whom is God and Lord by Himself. One of these is a grim, awful, and vindictive Judge; the other is Mercy itself, the Infinite Sufferer.
The keeping of the commandments of God is opposed by the declaration that no one can keep the commandments; that they were never intended to be kept; and that a person who has broken persistently every one until his lifes end can enter heaven triumphantly, if he will believe what he is told to believe.
The death of the Lord Jesus, the manifestation of His love for every man–for Christ tasted death for every manGod was in Christ reconciling us to Himself, to redeem us from dead works, and enable us to live in Him–is opposed by the assurance that Christ died to redeem us from the wrath of God; and being saved from that wrath, we are quite right without any works at all–saved by that faith ALONE.
A third part of the bright sayings of the Bible–those stars for the heart of which St. Peter speaks, the stars of heaven that shine over us with bright radiance, to teach us the life of goodness, are cast down by the dragons tail (verse 4) and contemned as wholly needless; faith alone–faith, without any works–being all-sufficient. Others of the dragon class maintain that not only are good works not necessary for salvation, but even faith is unessential too, for the Divine Persons settled among them, before the foundation of the world, infallibly who should be saved, without any reference to character at all; occasioning Burns to write
O Thou, what in the heavens dost dwell,
What, as it pleases best Thyself,
Sends one to heaven, and ten to hell,
A for Thy glory,
And not for any good or ill
They’ve done afore Thee.
The dragon casting out of his mouth water as a flood, indicates that it means a system sending out torrents of false persuasions, the floods of ungodly men (Ps. xviii. 4), to oppose and destroy the true Church, the bride and wife of the Lamb.
The dragon is an old symbol, representing a specious system of intellectual falsity, a serpent with wings, its essence being selfishness, but soaring up, and professing to be sacred and elevated; having a name that it lived, but being dead; intelligence and learning, but no heavenly love, or real virtue in life.
Egypt stood in this respect in the time of the prophet Ezekiel. Hence we read, I am against thee, Pharaoh, king of Egypt, the great DRAGON, that lieth in the midst of his rivers, which hath said, My river is my own, and I have made it for myself (xxix. 3).
The tendency to this self-derived intelligence, and neglect of the all-important virtues of meekness, love and goodness, is in every man; hence the indispensable duty of the genuine Christian is to subdue the DRAGON in himself. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and the adder (the asp); the young lion and the DRAGON thou shall trample under foot. Because he hath set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known My name (Ps. xci. 13, 14).
The dragon system was manifest in the Pharisee state which the Lord came into the world to condemn and to change. Hence it is written: When God shall come, the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land, springs of water: in the HABITATIONS OF DRAGONS, where each lay, shall be grass, with reeds and rushes. And a highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness: the unclean shall not pass over it (Isa. xxxv. 7, 8).
The dragon system views with grim complacency the multitudes of the lost which there must be, if its little shibboleth is really the Divine test for heaven. The hundreds of millions of Roman Catholics, the hundreds of millions of Mahommedans, the still more numerous hundreds of millions of China and India, have no chance of salvation, if none go to heaven but those who believe that the death of our Lord was the penalty of wrath, exacted by another Divine Person, and not the suffering of LOVE, to bear and to bless.
The dragon is sure that none can go to heaven but those who enter by his little back-door.
All others, including all little children, who cannot have this faith, must without doubt perish everlastingly. How can such a libel on the God of unchangeable love be true?
But another strange form is brought to view, in the beast to whom the dragon gave his power, his seat, and his authority.
The dragon represents the system in its theoretical or doctrinal form. This other beast portrays the society it produces, in its practical character.
This beast, was like a leopard, with feet as the, feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion. 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.
Can anything, more accurately describe the condition of society, as it has too long existed, under a religion of salvation by faith only–not a religion of an imperative good life–than the resemblance to a spotted beast? The leopard is a fair-looking animal, with a dangerous and malignant temper.
It is not the Papal state of the Church that is described by this beast, but the state produced by the Reformation, when the Word was set free indeed; but was again paralyzed by salvation being lade to depend upon believing one false dogma, instead of believing in surrendering heart and life to carry out the blessed will of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Hear how Wesley describes this condition of the Church: What is the condition of the Reformed Churches? It is certain that they were reformed in their opinions, as well as their modes of worship. But is not this all? Were either their tempers or lives reformed? Not at all…. Without this, how exquisitely trifling was the reformation of opinions, and rites, and ceremonies! Now, let anyone survey the state of Christianity in the reformed parts of Switzerland–in Germany, or France–in Sweden, Denmark, Holland–in Great Britain and Ireland. How little are any of these reformed countries better than heathen nations! Oh no, we must confess, with sorrow and shame, that we are far beneath them.
We are better now than when he wrote; but even now, look at society as it is!
How fair is life, especially early life! What cheerful, bright and happy ways are all around us! What wondrous gifts and faculties the goodness of the Divine Maker has implanted in the human family! The germs of heavenly dispositions, which form the groundwork of all that is amiable, and the amenities of education and polite society.
How agreeable and how beautiful is a polished home, with the society of intelligent and affectionate friends!
What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving, how express and admirable! In action, how like an angel! In apprehension, how like a god!–the beauty of the world.
Amidst the elegances of society, how attractive and charming is modern life! If, however, true and genuine religion be not present, it is spotted and checkered like the skin of the leopard; nor is it wanting in the malignant temper of that beautiful and dangerous beast.
They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of His children; they are a perverse and crooked generation (Deut. xxxii. 5).
The good manners of the worldling are not pure white, but only the lighter part of the leopards skin, while there are plenty of black spots in the errors and follies even of respectable life. And then, the malignancy of scandal, the readiness with which characters are made to suffer, the delight with which envy pours out its gall, and the domestic evils of social life–what are they but the bitter inflictions of the leopards bite?
How true of modern worldly society, not of the world of God, is Moore’s description:
The world is all a fleeting show,
For mans illusion given;
The smiles of joy, the tears of woe,
Deceitful shine, deceitful flow:
There’s nothing true but heaven.
The leopard, then, describes the condition of society in which religion has no more redeeming power than that of salvation by faith alone.
Notice the curious circumstance that the CROWNS are on the heads of the dragon, but they are on the horns of the beast (verse 1).
With the inventors of this dogma, the crowns are placed on the head. They deem the scheme of salvation involved in their plan in all its parts profoundly wise. Granting the foundation that God is an infinitely selfish being, and cares only for His own glory, the rest follows. He would be infinitely wrathful against the least deviation from His command, dreadful in His punishment. Selfish people easily coincide with these views.
They think that God is such a one as themselves, and what they would do if they were all-powerful, they believe God has done. The falsity is in the base. God is not selfish. God is love. The foundations being all wrong, seven heads are a mass of folly, thinking itself wise.
The people, however, whose instincts, implanted by Divine love, lead them often to most unselfish and generous efforts for others, and where the love of fathers and mothers give intimations of Divine love, tenderness, and mercy, do not readily admit the authority of the system of faith alone. Only by Scripture, largely used, are they led to adopt it. Texts in abundance are supplied, but all with a warp, and the people attribute authority and sovereignty to these. They put the crowns on the horns, and they wonder, and are content with this checkered and spotted system, though they are amazed that it is not a greater blessing than it is.
Then, the feet are a bears feet. The bear is a clumsy brute, and enjoys the dimness of gloomy forests and the obscurity of caves. He represents persons who are occupied only with the shades of earth-life, and grub, and scrape, and toil for the gains of earthly pelf and power. Every work of a man ought to be something useful, from a heavenly motive. He should act from justice and judgment alike in the halls of legislation and in the workshop of the mechanic. Whether ye eat or whether ye drink, says an Apostle, do it all for the glory of God.
The feet of society are what it stands upon–the daily duties of life; and when these are performed from heavenly principles, the feet are human feet. Man, by creation, is man as to his feet. They are beautifully arched, that he may look up, around, and adore. But when there is no concern for anything but earth and time, hugging inordinate gains for sensual ends, the feet are bears feet–poor paws, that can perform no noble work.
What is a man,
If his chief good and market of his time
Be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more.
Society, when there is no religion of life, is justly described by this leopard with bears feet.
In boasting, however, it has a mouth like the mouth of a lion. We talk of our Christianity, of our civilization, of our philosophy, of our wondrous advancement; yet when we look at the frauds that abound, at our too general domestic miseries, at the numerous inmates of our prisons, at the victims of intemperance, how much there is to blush at and lament!
Yet the mouth is the mouth of a lion challenging attention, and boasting that it is the pink of perfection, and the glory of the world. Protestantism may rightfully claim thousands of distinguished men and women, the very salt of the earth. It may claim also its marked position as the student of the Bible, the reverent guardian and diffuser of the Word of God; but how is it that the proportion of criminality and vice is as great as in non-Protestant and heathen lands?
Has not that fatal doctrine of salvation without works something to do with it? Is not this the head that has a deadly wound? What can be more contradictory to Scripture than that a man has nothing to do in working out his salvation. The Scriptures are literally full, from Genesis to Revelation, of the necessity of working righteousness and doing good. If thou doest well, it was said to Cain, shalt thou not be accepted, and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at thy door (Gen. iv. 7). Why call ye Me Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say? (Luke vi. 46).
The enormous mistake of supposing that because Paul taught that works done as Jews then did them were not wanted in Christianity; that therefore REAL GOOD WORKS are not required, ESSENTIAL AND INDISPENSABLE, by religion, has inflicted a deadly wound. Paul, in preaching the righteousness of faith, is really at one with James, who states so distinctly that faith without works is dead (James ii. 20). Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works (v. 18).
The palpable opposition of the doctrine of justification by faith only, to this constant demand for true obedience to God by a life of good works, has been felt by good men always. That head was wounded to death.
Religious men have been led, however, to wonder after the beast; but far better is it become part of the seed of the woman, even while she is in the wilderness of rejection among the few. God nourishes her there with His inward blessings, feeds her, and guards her, saying, as in days of old, Fear not, little Rock, it is your Fathers good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
Lord, let me with Truths banner be,
Where’er it is unfurled:
Better be right with two or three,
Than wrong with all the world.
The mouth speaking great things, blasphemies against God, His name, and His tabernacle, are the sad misrepresentations of God and His commandments–often unconscious of their mischievous character–which are the result of the system of salvation by faith alone. These we need not particularize. In the meantime, the, Divine laws go on. Causes produce their effects. They who mentally captivate others to falsity, make themselves slaves also. They who lead others to sin by evil maxims, become themselves victims also (Rev. xiii. 10). The patience and faith of the saints are often sorely tried, but they wait and work, and all that is good comes round at last.
The other beast that came to the support of the beast whose deadly wound was healed, and caused the earth to worship the first beast, represents the clergy who support and give popularity to the system. They are elsewhere called false prophets (Rev. xvi. 13). Their power in relation to God and man is represented by their two horns, and their pious belief that they are magnifying the Savior. When they are teaching that man has nothing to do, is expressed by their being like a lamb. The image means the DOCTRINE thus taught.
Their great zeal and earnestness are meant by making fire come down out of heaven, and their success by the great wonders he performed. Their causing to be killed such as would not worship the beast means their condemnation to spiritual death of those who do not admit their system.
Its prevalence in the Church is expressed by the mark made upon all, small and great, rich and poor, and bond and free, so that no one should take part in the business of the Church unless he was under the influence of the system, consciously having the mark, or at least acting in the spirit, having the name and being aware of the quality of this system of salvation, without reference to the life of keeping Gods commandments. The complete threefold falsity of making good works of no avail in religion is expressed by three sixes–six hundred and sixty-six.
Six, or three multiplied by two, in the spiritual meaning of numbers, signifies what is completely true, represented by three, united to what is good; signified by two. The six days of labor, the six water-pots, according to the purification of the Jews, in which water was turned into wine, and the six leaves of shew-bread on each side of the sacred table, represent such completeness. Here it is completeness in the opposite respect, completely false conjoined to what is evil, because it is of a system striving to destroy the woman clothed with the sun and her seed.
Its occurring three times means that to make obedience to the Divine commandments of no account is completely false and evil in relation to LOVE, to FAITH, and to WORKS; or to the WILL, the INTELLECT, and the LIFE. Without a man does the works of religion, he cannot love God or his neighbor, he cannot believe God, who commands them, and he cannot be doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with his God.
They have no rest day nor night who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name (Rev. xiv. 11).
Is not unrest the plague of the present day? When will men feel that a religion that leaves self-love rankling in the heart cannot give rest? Not building on the only true foundation, there is the unrest of ambition and discontent in the present–unrest from unfitness for and ignorance of the future. Only from contentedness in the Lord Jesus, the God of love and wisdom, can rest and peace come. In Me, He said, ye shall have peace.
Let us have full FAITH that following Him in the regeneration will subdue everything draconic and beastly, and make us FIT TO LIVE, possessing a present heaven, and therefore fit to die.
Here is the patience of the saints; here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the FAITH of Jesus.
O precious boon! O gift divine!
Beyond all earthly bliss;
My soul, this treasure may be thine
The Lord will give His peace.
Author: JONATHAN BAYLEY—– THE MAGNIFICENT SCENES IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION (1878)