« PreviousContinue »
intend to load the Popes of Rome with all the crimes, all" the abominations of the earth ?”
That the prophet could not mean merely to describe the Papal power, by the "great whore," or any other appellation, I have before considered, appears to me very evident, from the regular and perspicuous manner, in which he treats this important subject throughout the Revelation. He foretels the events in the same order of time, in which they were to come to pass. He always finishes the history of one period of events, and of one Power, before he proceeds to the next in succession, never mentioning a subsequent one before the antecedent. He began his prophetic history of the rise of the church of Christ in general, through pagan opposition, with its victory over it*. In the next chapter describes the fall of pagan Rome; then the rise of Mohamed and the Othman empire, and their dreadful persecutions of the church in the East. He then passes to the history of the church in the West, and having given us a summary view of the great outlines of itt, proceeds, in the next chapter, to take a summary view also of his new subject. In the first part of the following chapters, he foretells therise and exploits of the Papal church, and in the latter part of it, the coming of the atheistical power of France. Hitherto his history had been confined to the contests of the church and her enemies. But the subsequent parts of the Re
* Chap. vi. vii. &c. &c. in order.
velation relate to the final destruction of her adversaries, her complete triumph over them, and her eternal redemption. Moreover, according to his usual method of beginning a new subject, he takes in his proem, a brief view of the great events of which it was to be composed*; and, again, in the chapter which follows†, in a series of events, he details the manner in which the destruction was to be poured out successively, or, at determined periods, upon all the opponents and enemies of the church. Under the "first vial of the wrath of God," he foretells the judgments that should be poured out on revolutionary France; under the second vial, on Papal Rome; under the third, upon Papal Germany; under the fourth, upon the king and people of France; under the fifth, upon the republic and people of France, in her atheistical state; and under the sixth, upon the Othman empire, or Mohamedan apostacy. After this we read no more of the powers of Paganism, Mohamedanism, Papacy, or Atheism, acting in their separate capacities, and of their distinct operations against the church of Christ; but, on the contrary, we find that the prophet, under the "seventh vial," begins the history of a new future power, and grand confederacy of all of them together, for the purpose of the utter destruction of the truth, and the word of God. This subject he introduces in the last verses of the sixteenth chapter.
Now all the great events I have recited, ex
cepting the three last, have come to pass, in the exact order of time, they were foretold by the prophet. Hence we may rationally conclude, that the three last also, though future events, will come to pass in the same order; who then ought to doubt the pretentions of the prophet, to his having written the whole of the Revelation, in a clear chronological order? Can it be supposed, that, after having foretold the rise and exploits of the Papal church, in the first part of the thirteenth chapter, and that of the atheistical power of France, in the latter part of the same chapter; after having foretold the fall of the first under the "third vial," and of the second under the " fifth;" and after having entered upon the new subject of the history of a grand confederacy, which is to take place after the fall of the powers of atheism, and Mohamedanism, in the sixteenth chapter; and, in short, treated of all the preceding events in chronological order, and with historical perspicuity, he should, in the seventeenth chapter, depart from that order, and violate that perspicuity, by beginning it with a new historical description of the Papal church; a church, the rise and fall of which he had already recorded? The supposition appears to me absurd in the extreme. It would be, to suppose, that the prophet, while guided by the spirit of infallible wisdom and truth, could commit an egregious and palpable anamoly, an evident anachronism, an unnecessary repetition of the history of a Power, which he had completely written before.
Besides, the signs given by the prophet, in this
seventeenth chapter, when rightly understood, will neither apply to, nor are they descriptive of, the church of Rome. With what propriety does the emphatic name of "THE great whore" apply to that power, when Paganism, Mohamedanism, and Atheism, are much greater "whores" in the scriptural sense, or a much greater, and more impure, deviation from the word of God? With what propriety can it be said of Papal Rome, that "the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her;" and that all nations have drunk of the "wine of the wrath of her fornication,” when the kings and nations of Europe only (and not all of them) have adopted her idolatry, and been concerned in her fornication? when the immense Chinese nations have uniformly rejected her attempts to seduce them, and when none of the nations of Asia, Africa, or North America, have been corrupted by her doctrines?
Nor will the allegory of " a woman sitting up"on a scarlet-coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy," apply to the Papal church. That some of the Papal tenets are blasphemous, I am ready to confess, and therefore the prophet, in his "history of that church, describes it by a "beast "having seven heads, and upon his heads the
name of blasphemy," in the singular number. But this beast is described as being full of the names of blasphemy; and, if full, it can hold no more. It must, to answer to the name, have been guilty of every kind of blasphemy, from the lowest up to the highest, even to atheism, the sum total of every species of blasphemy. Now this
is not the case with the church of Rome: she acknowledges the existence of God, the mission of Christ, and the agency of the Holy Ghost. A real and studious inquirer after truth, acquainted with the doctrines of Paganism, of Mohamedanism, and of the Atheistical power of France, could not be led to think of Rome by this description. Nor will the name " Mystery" apply, with propriety, to the Papal church, when we consider, that the doctrines and tenets of Mohamedanism and Atheism are by far more extensive and incomprehensible mysteries than those of Popery. The name "Babylon the Great," truly interpreted, is "the great city," or body of people, consisting of a mixture of different nations, professing different, and those erroneous, principles of religion, and, therefore, a great city of anarchy and confusion. And this was the case of Chaldean Babylon of old, before its fall: it was a confused mixture of all the then idolatrous nations, and thence derived its name. But this will by no means describe the Papal church, which, although it consists of different nations, yet all her members profess the same erroneous principles, the same kind of idolatry. So that there is no mixture of doctrines, no confusion in her worship, which there must be, in order to apply the name to her, with any degree of propriety.
Again, the appellative expression, "the mother "of harlots, and abominations of the earth," will, with still less propriety, apply to Papal Rome. A "harlot," in the scriptural sense, is a power that seduces men, from their duty to God, into