B. I am here again Bro. A., anxious as ever to enjoy whatever light may be due the church; I know that you believe the word of God to be a lamp, whose oil is the spirit, which sheds its light upon the path of the just as fast as the light is due, in order that at each step we may not be in darkness. Have you seen anything fresh or new lately?
A. God's word is "new every morning and fresh every evening." In this respect it differs from all other books and, undoubtedly it is a fountain of living waters (truths) from the fact that it contains special dispensational truths, as well as general truth. Thus it is a great storehouse from which the Lord's servants are to bring forth "things new and old," that the household of faith may have meat in due season." I seem to see in a clearer light than ever before, the present condition of the nominal church and its future. We talked some of this subject at a previous interview, when we considered the text—"Babylon is fallen." The subject in general and the Bible teaching concerning it, seems daily to open up more clearly. I think too, that it is—the meat due here. Many saints in "Babylon" are ignorant of the fact, and therefore do not obey the call—"Come out from her my people, so that you may have no fellowship with her sins and that you receive not of her plagues." Would this subject be agreeable to you this evening?
B. It would, and profitable too I hope. I was much interested in our last conversation on The Antichrist and its picture in Rev. 12.
A. The first ten verses of this chapter describe the Papal—Roman dominion. It is the Leopard; its spots showing mixture, or church and empire combined. It receives its power &c., from the "Dragon" (Pagan Rome.) Let me here explain that in symbol, "Heavens," signify the higher or ruling powers, "Earth," represents the people obedient to those ruling powers. When the Dragon gave its place to Papacy, it (Papacy) became "the heavens" and those who were obedient to it (the church) were "the earth." "The sea" represents the general masses of the world, without religious restraints.
The "Leopard" arose from the sea—from among the masses of the people—received its power and dominion etc. "And the whole earth wondered after the beast." And they did homage to the Dragon (Paganism) because he gave the authority to the Beast. And they worshiped the Beast saying: Who is like to the Beast? Thus we see that the people honored both the empire and the ecclesiastical or church power, finally concluding that the Beast (ecclesiastical power) was the stronger, and saying—"Who is able to make war (to contend) with the Beast. The "blasphemies and the great swelling words" of this power, we talked of at our last interview. Its time for speaking is not limited; it still speaks, but not so its time for acting. It had "power to act forty and two months." This is the same period referred to in chap. 12 as "twelve hundred and sixty days," and three and a half times (3-1/2 years) extending from A.D. 538 to 1798, when its "power to act" or put to death seems to have ceased.
Vs. 11. "And I saw another wild beast, ascending from the earth." If the previous beast was an ecclesiastical power, this beast called another would also be an ecclesiastical, or church power. As the first beast had ten horns, or powers, which gave to it their support, strength and protection, so this beast has "two horns." The first beast received a deadly wound from the sword. (Vs. 14.) The sword is the word of God and Papacy received such a wound during the reformation. The preaching of the word of God by Luther, Zwingle and others, showing it to be the "mystery of iniquity," "The man of Sin," "The Antichrist," &c., took away much of its power and almost took its life.
A. I think it does. As Papacy became a beast by the union of church and empire, so with Protestantism. It is not called a beast until it unites with the empires represented by the two horns—two powers, England and Germany. Notice that this beast does not come out of the Sea (the irreligious masses) but from the "Earth" (the people who had been obedient to Papacy). It has not the fierce, aggressive character of the "Leopard," but "two horns like a lamb." It used its horns only as a means of defence and protection.
A. By no means, the two beasts are being contrasted. We have already been told what were the claims of the Leopard or Papal ecclesiasticism, how it spake great swelling words and blasphemies, how it claimed the right to "rule all nations with a rod of iron" by virtue of its other claim that it was "The kingdom of God." Protestantism, though it associated itself with earthly empire and became a beast made no such boast. It spake no such swelling words and made no such pretentious claims. It does not speak as the dragon, as a dragon—Its claims are the same as any civil or dragon power.
B. O I see! I thought that its speaking as a dragon, would indicate that it was worse than Papacy but I see that it really marks it as being better and is the distinguishing feature between it and "The man of Sin." It does seem that the Spirit clothed the matter in such symbols as would be difficult or impossible to understand until it should become meat due to the church.
B. That is the Protestant Beast [the state churches of England and Germany.] was able to exert as much influence and power as Papacy could by its greater claims. But what is meant by "in his presence?"
"And he makes The Earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast whose mortal wound was healed." Papacy's wound began [R64 : page 1] to heal from the time the Reformation Church united to worldly empires, for how could the Reformers any longer use the Sword of the Spirit against Papacy as a church—state organization when they themselves were the same.
And not only did this cause them to cease to wound and injure Papacy, but when they justified their own church and empire organization and demanded for it the respect and reverence of the people, they virtually caused all, both papists and protestants to worship, respect and honor the Papal Church. To such an extent is this true, that to-day the Papal Church is recognized among christians as one of the churches of Christ, instead of, in its true character as the "Antichrist," that the Lord recognizes as "The Abomination of the Earth." The utterance of early reformers against this church, if made to-day would be denounced by both christians and the world.
Vs. 13. "And he does great signs [R64 : page 2] so that fire he makes to come down from heaven to the earth in the presence of men." Remember that both beasts are now, in "heaven," or in authority. The second beast displays its power over "the earth," or those who are under its authority by occasionally sending down fire [symbol of judgment and punishments] upon them—declaring certain judgments and punishments upon those who oppose it—heretics. Such fire was sent down upon the Dissenters—Baptists, Puritans and others.
Vs. 14. "And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by the signs which it was given him to do in the presence of the beast." Those who dwell on the earth (not "the earth" itself—i.e. the people who acknowledge and obey these two beasts) probably refers to independent christians not allied to worldly organizations. These were deceived by the pretentious claims of divine right and appointment etc.
They claim as the Papal church did and does that they are the only church of Christ and that none but their ministers and bishops have right to preach since they and the Roman Catholic clergy alone are rightly "ordained of God." They claim that the right to ordain (set apart and install in office) was originally possessed only by the Apostles, who through "laying on of hands," conferred the gifts of the Spirit. This last we know is true, but they also claim that those so ordained, could, in ordaining others, confer the same spiritual gifts and powers. This was probably first promulgated to give power and seeming authority to the clergy, and to create between them and the balance of the church, a gulf of awe so wide that few would dare leap over. Thus priest-craft obtained a mighty hold upon the minds of the people. It is the carrying out of this same principle that sanctions the teaching, that none are qualified to understand the Bible aright except those consecrated by the imposition of holy orders by the Apostolic succession. This claim of both beasts we deny, and assert that the laying on of hands by all the Bishops and Popes, could not add to the spiritual gifts of any, saint or sinner. We challenge both churches to produce a single case in which "the gifts of the Spirit" (as they are explained in 1 Cor.) ever followed the ordination of their ministers.
It was in this way that the second beast deceived or led into error (bondage) the various independent companies of protestant christians, telling them ("those who dwell on the earth") to make an image to the (first) beast, who has the wound of the sword and lives."
B. We understand then that these two churches, the church of England and the church of Germany by their claims and organizations similar to Papacy, said to smaller companies of Independent Protestant Christians by example etc.: You will also find it necessary to have an ecclesiastical fence to separate your clergy from the common people of the church, that their utterances, by seeming authority may have the greater weight, even as the word of God with the people—thus preventing the exercise of individual thought and study.
A. Yes, they demonstrated to them that they required an organized government &c., of the clergy over the common people like to Papacy in form, in fact an "Image of that beast." This each denomination, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist and legion besides, did, as they gained power, i.e. While they denounced priest-craft and advocated individual study of the Bible, yet, they claimed the authority of their clergy to interpret the scriptures. And while they freely placed the Bible in the hands of the people, they handed them along with it, the catechism and creed of the church. They concede the right of the individual to be a member of the church and to study the word if they will agree to believe neither more nor less than the clergy who formed the creed. Strange liberty! Thus each denomination did make an image; but there is a sense in which they have all united to make one grand image, the one referred to in this fourteenth verse.
B. I notice that the Sinaitic MSS. adds the word also in this verse—"That they also should make an image."—Would not this seem to indicate that Protestantism as represented in this beast, is an image of the first beast also?
A. Yes, the thought is there even without the word also, since they are both beasts, but also, does add to the force. Well, they took the advice of example and did organize such an image. In London, Aug. 19th, 1846, there assembled representatives of all the leading protestant denominations of Europe and America, who there organized under the name—"Evangelical Alliance." That was a church organization in many respects similar in form ("an image") to Papacy. Its design is to increase the power and authority of Protestantism, just as the formation of the Leopard beast was the result of a desire to increase the power and authority of Papacy.
A. The union of believers is one of the things for which we long and pray, but it is brought about, not by the organization of societies, but by the Holy Spirit. It is a union of hearts bound together by the golden chord of truth; not a union of church societies bound by creeds.
If the Evangelical Alliance were the coming together of christians, saying—We realize that there is "One Lord, one faith, one baptism," and that all truth is in harmony, and therefore, as we who profess to be God's children differ widely on various subjects and our various creeds in many particulars contradict each other, we desire to lay aside all written creeds and we unite in this manner as christians, with no rule nor creed but the Bible. We will henceforth strive to be taught of God and seek to come to harmony in the understanding of His word.
I say if this were the object, I could rejoice at such an organization. But it is not; no, each denomination stands as firmly as ever by its creed. And this Alliance is designed only as a protection to those creeds. The Alliance has a creed of nine articles, and none can be considered as within the pale of Orthodoxy, except by subscribing to this creed. It is, I repeat, an organization in form and purpose, similar to Papacy and is here properly termed the "Image of the beast."
Vs. 15. "And it was given him to give breath to 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."—That is, the Protestant beast gave vital power and authority to the image (The united sects—Evangelical Alliance). It has done this by joining with them in the organization. The church of England and the church of Germany were both represented at several of the late meetings of the Alliance. This is contrary to the Spirit of their creeds, as all know who are conversant with them. The English and German churches each claim, as the Papal has always done, that theirs is THE CHURCH founded by the Apostles and that their ministers and bishops have the special unction for teaching by the "laying on of hands," or what is known as ordination and Apostolic succession. These claim that the Papacy was an apostacy from their church, and that the various other denominations are schisms from their church and heretical, in that they hold doctrines differing from theirs.
And even the Papal Church went so far as to acknowledge the Image, for during the session (in Europe) two months since, she sent her GREETINGS to the "Evangelical Alliance." The recognition by these beasts gives force and power to the image, so that it can command the reverence of all; and woe be to the one who dares refuse to worship "Orthodoxy." He is symbolically "killed"—cut off, as a heretic, and is no longer recognized as a Christian.
Vs. 16. "And he causes all, the little and great, and the rich and the poor, and the freemen and the bondmen, that they should give themselves a mark on the right hand or in their forehead;" i.e., the Image causes all who would be its followers and worshipers to commit themselves either by a public profession (mark in forehead), or by giving able support with their might, power and means (mark in right hand). A mark is a seal or sign of allegiance.
A. In many ways. For instance: Papacy established the clerical hierarchy, who lord it over God's heritage instead of serving their brethren as Jesus explained—"One is your Master and all ye are brethren," and as Paul said—"We are to speak the [R65 : page 2] truth in love and grow up into Him in all things who is the head, even Christ; from whom the whole body fitly joined together (not by creeds of men, but by love begotten by the one Spirit of truth) and compacted by that which every joint supplieth (every joint is every member, not the clergy only) making increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." Thus coming "to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God." Eph. 4.
As Papacy established the priesthood over the church, so Protestantism has established almost the same, and there is no opportunity for the body to edify itself, every joint taking part. True, there is a seeming show of liberty at prayer meetings, &c., but it is only upon the surface, for the ordained pastor is to watch zealously lest anything contrary to the teachings of his church should be expressed, and if so to silence the audacious member at once, for the church creed is the rule, not the Word of God. If this is not sufficient, they must have a sort of church trial and excommunicate him ["kill him"]. The trial, by the way, gives evidence of another likeness to the beast, namely, the exaltation of the teachings of the organization above the Word of God, for all such are tried according to "the authorities" of their church.
Another mark is the ordination or apostolic succession. This is claimed by Methodists and others, who go through the same form of consecrating their ministers as do the Episcopal and Roman Catholic churches, and without scriptural authority.
A. O yes! What I object to is the idea held, that some supernatural power and wisdom is conveyed, and that it is particular that the blessing come in a direct descent from the first Apostles. Another prominent mark of the beast copied
by the image is the honoring of the special class, the clergy, with special honors and titles. They are known as Revs., Divines, etc., but Jesus, the divine, said: "Ye call me Lord and Master, and ye say well, for so I am." "Be not ye called Rabbi, neither be ye called Masters, for one is your Master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren (Matt. 23:8). These titles are assumptions fashioned after those of Papacy.
When the various denominations began their existence, more full of the spirit of Christ, they claimed no such high-sounding titles. The Reformers were not known as Rev.__________, D.D., &c., but as John Knox, Martin Luther, John Wesley, &c. Unpretentious, like Jesus and the Apostles, they were intent upon serving God and therefore became the servants (ministers) of the church. These had marks of God's approval, and as a result, their ministry was wonderfully blest. But now the clergy are far from being servants, they are Lords. They have itching ears, loving the approval of men. As pride and worldliness have come in, vital godliness and power have gradually departed.
For the very same reason they are losing all power to expound the Word of God—the gift of teaching—because "God abhoreth the proud but giveth grace (favor) to the humble." The early reformers were humble, and God led them into much knowledge of His Word, and although we are much farther along "the path of the just," and the servants should have more light and bring things new as well as old from the Word, yet we find ministers of all denominations ready to confess their ignorance of the Word. They appeal for their information back to the early reformers, and thus confess that they have less light than they. Pride always has hindered growth in grace and does now." "How can ye believe who receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor which cometh from God, only?" That their light should grow dim and their spiritual life become dwarfed is the natural result of their joining the image and subscribing to creeds made in the fifteenth century, which, like the iron shoe of China, will not admit of any growth. It is a shoe a little larger than Papacy put upon its followers but of the same sort.
The word baptize is not a translated word, but a transferred Greek word, and means to dip, immerse, wash, as is abundantly proven by its use in hundreds of instances in profane Greek literature. Its use in scripture seems also to teach the same thing, as well as the admitted fact that all Christians for nearly three centuries practiced immersion. The Church of Rome (the only one which has a history) admits that the word signifies, to immerse, and that it was so practiced by early Christians, but claims that SHE changed it. She claims that she, through her head, the Pope, (the vicar of Christ), had authority to change any ordinance. This is in harmony with the spirit of Papacy as illustrated in the quotation at our last meeting from Pope Martin: "Wherefore no marvel if it be in my power to change time and times, to alter and abrogate laws, to dispense with all things, yea, with the precepts of Christ." Can you wonder that I should feel aggrieved to see fellow Christians ignore the precepts of Christ and exalt instead the teachings of men, claiming that it makes no difference?
B. Certainly if these are marks of the beast, it is time that all Christians should realize it. Also, that all who are worshiping any church organization should be warned. "See thou do it not." These are thy fellow servants. "Worship God." Rev. 22:9.
A. The image worship is hindering hundreds from seeing the beauties of the Word of God. They may perhaps glance at it and for a moment think for themselves, but that is all. The church discipline is so strict and they reverence it so much that a look or frown is sufficient to warn them that independent thought is a dangerous thing and must not be indulged in, lest they be regarded as infidels. Would that all could see that these local organizations called churches are not THE CHURCH, but that the Church of God includes all Christians, all whose names are written in Heaven, and that when these local organizations attempt to come between them as children, and God their Father, or to put their creed instead of the Word of God, their assumed authority is not to be recognized, nor tolerated; and that it is our duty to rebuke it as sinful.
Vs. 17. "So that no one may be able to buy or sell unless he who has the mark, the name of the beast, or the number of his name." The buying and selling here are doubtless symbolic, and refer to trading, or exchanging of spiritual things—truths. None are recognized as having a right to teach or preach unless they have these marks; i.e., he must have a theological examination to see whether he bears all the marks and reverences the authority of the image. He must either be a part of the beast itself, or of the number of his name—many denominations.