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18 Here is wisdom.
to show more definitely what power he meant, by a process which would furnish positive information to those who could understand. But peculiar wisdom was required; none but him who had understanding could "count the number." Count the number. What number? Ans. "The number of his name;" ver. 17. See also chap. xv. 2, where we find proof that the beast referred to was not the twohorned beast, but the principal, the one with ten horns, whose image the people worshipped. And what was meant by "the number of his name?" Everybody knows, that previously to the invention of figures, in the tenth century, the letters of the alphabet had been used as numerals. It was so among the Hebrews, the Greeks, the Romans, and we suppose many other nations. Proofs of this are abundant. Let the common reader look at the 119th Psalm, and he will find the sections of it numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, &c., by the use of the Hebrew letters Aleph, (A, or 1,) Beth, (B, or 2,) Gimel, (3,) Daleth, (4,) &c. A similar system of numeration has just been introduced into the army of the United States; and instead of marking the companies of a regiment 1, 2, 3, 4, &c., they are called company A, company B, &c. We will suppose then, for the sake of an illustration, that all the letters of our alphabet have a numerical value, thus,
A 1 G 7 M 40 S 100
R 90 X 600
Let him that hath understanding
666. The Christian fathers began right early to find out the secret of the revelator (for they sought to be very precise) by "counting the number of the beast." They forgot the premonition "Here is wisdom;" and "let him [only] that hath understanding count the number of the beast." They brought it out in the following manner. We give the Roman instead of the Greek letters, and use the letters according to the system which then prevailed.
that the letters in the words E Latine When the discovery was made, Basileia, made up the number six hundred and sixty-six, there remained for some time no doubt that The Latin Kingdom [in Greek E Latine Basileia] was the beast. If the reader will look into Adam Clarke's Commentary, he will find that writer was carried utterly away with this idea. But the whole is a fallacy, for this one plain reason, that the same let ters, in a different arrangement, would
Now, spell a man's name as you might, there would be a certain num-spell different words, and yet would ber attached to it. The common have just the same numeral result. name Smith, would be S (100) M (40) It makes no difference into how many I (9) T (200) H (8,) which figures different arrangements you put the being added together would make 357 letters; they always amount to 666. as "the number of his name." ¶ Six This mode of calculation, therefore hundred threescore and six. - That is, has fallen into discredit, from the fact.
count the number of the beast: | for it is the number of a man;
where he does: "The number of the beast, or the number of the name of the beast, stands for the numerical value of the letters that compose his name."
resulting from experience, that there is no end to the multitude of names which may be composed by such fabrications; and that not only the antichristian chiefs, but the most eminent of our reformers may be, and have been thus designated by their adversaries. The Hebrew words for Luther amount to 666, a circumstance which has caused the Catholics to offset against the Protestants the attempts to show that the apocalyptical beast had some connection with the papal church. It is also a remarkable fact, that the Hebrew words for "The Most High, the Lord, the Holy God," amount to precisely 666.
See Calmet's Dictionary, under the word Anti-Christ, where he gives a tabular view of words, or names, the numeral force of which is that number.
We are then thrown back upon our inquiry, what is meant by "the number of his name?" Shall we attempt to answer? The very language forbids; "Here is wisdom;" here lies the secret, which none but those who had an understanding of the revelator's enigma can explain. It is "the number of a man," although it is called "the number of the beast." The number is 666. Whether the revelator used the Hebrew or Greek letters for numerals, those who were instructed in the matter knew. They explained it to others. The number was the key to denote the power referred to. We content ourself with knowing that the Roman Empire in general was intended by the beast with seven heads and ten horns. The name of some eminent opposer of the church, perhaps one of the emperors, was intended by "the number of the beast." But this is conjecture. The Christians at the time knew. We are checked by the admonition, "Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast." We have not that understanding. Cruden explains the matter very wisely, and we shall leave it
Having offered our own opinion, we add to the above, the conjecture of Prof. Stuart, since, if he be correct, it agrees with what we have stated. He says: "Quite recently, however, Prof. Benary, of Berlin, has proposed a more ingenious, and to my mind more satisfactory, explanation of the nodus in question, than any with which I have before met. He regards it as nearly certain, that the letters indicative of the number in question, must be Hebrew letters, although he does not seem to have given a satisfactory reason. The very design however, of partial concealment, seems to be, as I have already hinted, a good reason for the adoption of this method by John. A heathen Greek or Roman would not be likely to divine the writer's meaning, in case the latter designed to make the appeal to Hebrew letters or words; while there were everywhere Jewish Christians in the churches, who could easily unravel it. Benary remarks, that in the Talmud and other Rabbinical writings, the name of Nero [in the Hebrew form] often occurs. This amounts numerically to the number of the beast; for the force of the Hebrew letters added together is 666. Nor is this all. There was another method of writing and pronouncing the name of Nero, approaching nearer to the Roman method. This was the Hebrew letters for Nero Cæsar, which amount numerically to just 616, and thus gives a good ground for the diverse reading which Irenæus found in some codices. This is surely a remarkable coincidence. The same name, pronounced after the Greek and Hebrew analogy, equals numerically the sum of 666, but spoken in the Latin way it amounts to 616, which is the rival reading. Nothing can be more
and his number is Six hundred | threescore and six.
natural and easy then, than to account and sixty-six. What stress is to be in this way for both of the readings laid on this I cannot say. in the codices. The discrepant modes of sounding Nero's name, whether fully in Hebrew, or in an abridged way, gave rise to the different designations of the corresponding numbers. A solution of the various readings, which is so natural and obvious, one is strongly tempted to believe, must have its foundation in truth and reality." So far, in substance, Prof. Stuart. See his Commentary, vol. ii. 457, 458, Excursus iv. The reason why the revelator did not give fully, and without enigma, the name he intended, is easily seen; he did not desire to bring down upon the unoffending church, the pointed indignation of the power intended. If the seven-headed beast intended the Roman secular power, as we think we have clearly shown, then the name of the beast may well be considered the name of the reigning emperor at the time the Apocalypse was written.
Since the above was written, I have received from a friend the following singular paragraph, which he states was copied from an old book, called the "Gospel Treasury," p. 125. The date and authorship of the book were gone. We present the extract as a very striking illustration of the ingenuity which has been displayed in obtaining the beast's number, 666, from the names of eminent dignitaries, or of the places of their power.
"VICARIVS FILII DEI.
* "Sometime ago, an English officer happening to be at Rome, observed on the front of the mitre which the pope wore at one of the solemnities, this inscription: VICARIVS FILII DEI.' It instantly struck him-perhaps this is the number of the beast. He set to work: and when he had selected all the numerals, and added them up, he found, to his great astonishment, that the whole amounted to precisely six hundred
Thus it will be seen, that by taking from the title "Vicarivs Filii Dei," [Vicar of the Son of God,] the letters which are commonly used as numerals, they make up the number of the beast. We attach no importance, however, to the fact, and present it merely for the purpose named, and to show the very singular coincidence of numerals in that title.
Preliminary Considerations. - The chapter before us is by no means an unimportant one. In chapters xii. and xiii. the pagan and secular power of Rome are set forth, the former under the figure of "a great red dragon," xii. 3, the latter under that of the beast that rose up out of the sea, xiii. 1. These two powers, which were the two active powers of the Roman Empire in the persecution of the Christians, being thus introduced to the reader, with that of the false prophet, xiii. 11-17, the revelator proceeds (viz., in chap. xiv., which we are now to examine) to give a general synopsis of the matters that remain to be treated of in the Apocalypse. In chapters xii. and xiii. are described the rise and reign of the persecuting powers of the empire. Chapter xiv. is in favor of the church. It describes the prosperity of the church, notwithstanding the persecutions; and the punishment of the persecutors, and of those_by whom they were sustained. The
effect of what is stated in chap. xiv. was to encourage the Christians. As, in chapters xii. and xiii., the prophecy is of things that were against the church, from henceforth the prophecy is more especially of things that make for the church and against her enemies.
1. A Lamb stood on the mount Sion. - The first five verses of this chapter clearly describe the faith and constancy of the Jewish converts Christianity. They were persecuted somewhat by the Roman power, and hence were introduced in this place by the revelator. The subject matter of these five verses has already been
The subjects treated in the 14th chapter are as follows:
1st. A view of the continued faith-treated of, in the fifth chapter. The fulness of the Jewish converts, the "Lamb" was the "Lamb of God, hundred and forty-four thousand. See who taketh away the sin of the verses 1-5. world" John i. 29; the Lamb that stood in the midst of the elders; Rev. v. 6; the Lamb that was an object of universal worship; v. 8—14; the Lamb that was "slain from the foundation of the world;" Rev. xiii. 8; xvii. 8. This Lamb stood on mount Sion. We are not to understand this of the mount in the literal sense; but of the gospel, which the figure mount Sion is used to designate. Hence Paul said to the Hebrew Christians: "Ye ARE COME unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innu
2d. The preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles, and the judgment of the nations by the power thereof; verses 6, 7.
3d. The fall of Rome, the great seat of persecution in the empire, as Jerusalem had been the seat of persecution in the country of the Jews; ver. 8.
4th. The punishment of the Roman persecutors, and of those who sustained them, as the Jews had been punished; verses 9-11.
and with him a hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.
5th. The blessedness of the Christians, like the blessedness of the Jew-merable company of angels, to the ish converts to Christianity; verses 12, 13.
general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to JESUS the Mediator of the new covenant;" Heb. xii. 22 ¶ With him a hundred forty and four thousand. With the Lamb was the hundred and forty-four thousand, the same body of Christians mentioned in chap. vii. 4: "And I heard the number of them which were sealed; and there were sealed a hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel." These had the Father's name written in their foreheads; and so they are said to be sealed, as the servants of God, in their foreheads. The hundred and forty-four thou
6th. Coming of the Son of man in judgment on the Romans, as he came in judgment on the Jews; ver. 14.
7th. He reaps the harvest of the earth, and his enemies are crushed-24. like grapes trodden in the wine-press; verses 15-20.
The figures here applied to the Romans are the same with those which had been applied to the Jews; Joel iii. 13; Jer. li. 33; Matt. xiii. 39. Such are the subjects treated of in the 14th chapter; and they are, as it were, a table of contents of what remains to be treated of in the Apocalypse. With these preliminary remarks, we proceed to consider the chapter more particularly.
2 And I heard a voice from voice of harpers harping with
3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne,
heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder and I heard the
sand mentioned in vii. 3, were sealed praise offered to God by the Chris. in their foreheads. No one can doubt tians throughout the Roman Empire that it is the same hundred and is described in the same manner: forty-four thousand referred to in both "And I heard as it were the voice of cases. Father's name written in a great multitude, and as the voice their foreheads. The Father's name of many waters, and as the voice of is written in their foreheads as the mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia : most conspicuous part of the body - for the Lord God omnipotent reignthey were not ashamed of their pro- eth;" xix. 6. The description is fession. The worshippers of the beast designed to connect the idea of also had the beast's name on their majesty and authority with the voice foreheads; xiii. 16; xiv. 9; and the of Christ. The voice of a hundred great harlot likewise had an inscrip- and forty-four thousand people singtion on her forehead, xvii. 5, the marking would necessarily be loud. ¶ The of her disgrace. It was a reward voice of harpers harping with their promised to the faithful Christians, harps. Harps had been used in the that "him that overcometh, will I religious worship of the Jews, probamake a pillar in the temple of my biy from the time of the earliest God, and he shall go no more out; existence of that people, for the harp and I will write upon him the name was constructed very early in the of my God, and the name of the city history of the world; Gen. iv. 21. of my God, which is new Jerusalem, David and all Israel played on harps; which cometh down out of heaven 2 Sam. vi. 4. It was an instrufrom my God: and I will write upon ment in universal use among the him my new name;" iii. 12. The Jews; especially in times of triumph, faithful Christians acknowledged, in joy, and religious exultation; Job the most conspicuous manner, their xxi. 12; Psa. xxxiii. 2; xliii. 4'; lvii. allegiance to God. 8; lxxi. 22; Isa. v. 12. In times of sorrow the voice of the harper was not heard; Psa. cxxxvii. 2; Isa. xxiv. 8; Ezk. xxvi. 13; Rev. xviii. 22. The music of the harp formed a very important part of the temple-service. Hence the praise of the Christian church to God, as it was an outbreaking of triumph and joy, is metaphorically described as "the voice of harpers harping with their harps." Thus the elders are represented as having harps, Rev. v. 8, and those also who stood on the sea of glass, xv. 2.
2. Voice from heaven. - This "voice from heaven," was the voice of worship from mount Sion, as of the mingled voices of a hundred and fortyfour thousand persons singing aloud the praise of their God. Mount Sion was heaven. Heaven is the spiritual state produced in the soul by the belief of the gospel. Hence Paul calls the gospel kingdom, the heavenly Jerusalem; and Christians are the general assembly and church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven, that is, on the roll of the church; Heb. xii. 22-24. ¶ As the voice of many waters, &c.—It was like the noise of a cataract, or of great thunder; that is, it was exceedingly loud. So the voice of the Son of man was described; i. 15. The
3. And they sung a new song.That is, the hundred and forty-four thousand did this. All the preparation for singing is described in the preceding verse. They had made ready their harps, and had already