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B. W. Johnson
Vision of the Ages (1881)



The Open Temple.--The New Vision.--The Crowned Woman.--The Red Dragon.--The Man
Child.--The War in Heaven.--The Flight into the Wilderness.--The Sea Monster.--The
Seven Heads.--The Deadly Wound Healed.--The Forty-two Months.

      The book of Revelation divides itself into two parts. There are two series of visions, one giving the fate of the world and ending with chapter 11:18; the other beginning with the next verse and extending to the close of the book. The first series has brought us to the fall of the great city of sin, the triumph of Christ, and the general Judgment; the second begins with the infancy of the Church and traces its career and struggles until the New Jerusalem is revealed from heaven. While the object of the second series is to outline the history of the true Church, at the same time it necessarily reveals the history and fate of a false Church, a great apostasy, which shall be the mightiest [231] enemy of the truth. It is unfortunate that the last verse of the eleventh chapter has not been attached to the next chapter where it properly belongs, as it is the beginning of


      The reader will observe that the language with which the first series opens in Rev. 4:1, is quite similar to the opening words of the verse that begins the second series. "I saw a door opened in heaven" is the opening sentence of the prophecy, chap. 4:1, language which implies that the secrets of heaven are to be revealed. In chap. 11:19, it is said that "The temple of God was opened in heaven." Even the Ark of the Testament in its most secret place is brought to view. There is to be a revelation of facts connected with the temple of God. We have already shown that the reference is, not to the Jewish temple which no longer existed, but to the spiritual temple, the Church of Jesus Christ. Its door is opened; its history is foretold; the visions now beheld, will relate to its fortunes, sorrows, trials, triumphs.

      "And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: and she being with child, cried, travailing in birth, and pained, to be delivered."--12:1, 2.

      After the announcement that it is the door of the temple that is now opened, the vision [232] sweeps onward and the facts of history are portrayed in the symbols beheld by the apostle through the opened portals. His attention is fixed upon a great wonder. There appears in heaven a beautiful woman, clothed with the sun, standing upon the moon, and crowned with twelve stars. Let us pause before we proceed further, to inquire what this may mean?

      A woman is used as a symbol many times in the Scriptures. "Say you to the daughter of Zion, behold thy salvation cometh." (Isa. 62:11.) Here the reference is to the Church. Again Paul, Gal. 4:31 says, "Ye are not the children of the bond woman, but of the free woman." All are agreed that here the free woman represents the Church. Again, Rev. 21:2, John sees the New Jerusalem descending adorned as a bride to meet her husband. The bride, the Lamb's wife, here and in the ninth verse, indeed in every place spoken of, is the Church. Once more; Paul speaks of Jerusalem, the mother of us all, alluding again to the Church. This symbol, then, is a, common one to represent the Church, and we are justified in declaring that to be its meaning in this passage. Indeed, in the verse preceding, we have the Church named under the designation of the temple of God.

      This woman is clothed with the sun, shines [233] with sunlight, the light of the Sun of Righteousness, whence cometh all her glory. Let Christ, her light be taken away, and she who is as fair as the moon, as clear as the sun, is changed into darkness. The woman stands upon the moon. I suppose this refers to the Jewish, the shadowy dispensation, to Moses and his law. Their light is all reflected light. Unless flooded with the rays of the Sun of Righteousness the Old Testament would cease to shine. Upon this old dispensation, the Church following it in time and superior in excellence, stands not as upon a foundation, but as following in succession.

      Twelve stars were in the diadem that rested upon her brow. It is so evident that this refers to the twelve apostles, inspired by Christ to carry on his work, establish the Church and give it laws, that I need only to refer to the explanation.

      The Apostle not only notes the attire of the woman, but speaks of her peculiar condition. She is about to become a mother. We may be assured that this would not have been noted if it had no significance. Again we must let the Scripture explain its own meaning. "As soon as Zion travailed she brought forth children." (Isa. 66:8.) The travail of Zion causeth an increase. The condition asks our attention to a [234] Church in sorrow a suffering Church, but out of whose suffering there cometh an increase of the saints. It is a period when the saints are multiplied in the midst of persecution.

      The symbolism points us to a period when the Church is pure. She shines brightly with the light of the Sun of Righteousness. There is no spot to dim the lustre of her garments. The twelve apostles are the only stars. She has no uninspired leaders whose light has dimmed that of Christ and his apostles. But, in this time of purity there is sorrow. The Church cries out with pain. Saints are imprisoned, tortured, martyrs die, but amid the pain and flames of death, exhibit such constancy, such devotion, such moral grandeur, that the blood of martyrs becomes the seed of the Church.

      "And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born."--12:3, 4.

      The Apostle also sees


      with seven heads and ten horns. Seven crowns are upon his heads. With his tail he draws one-third part of the stars of heaven. He is the [235] woman's enemy. He stands waiting, ready to devour her offspring.

      I shall more fully describe in a subsequent chapter the meaning of the various marks of the dragon. The dragon, the seven heads, the ten horns, are named several times in the book of Revelation, and are also described in the seventh chapter of Daniel. In all these places they describes the same baneful power. The proofs that they represent various features of the Romish sway, of Pagan Rome, followed by spiritual Rome, are complete, and will be laid before the reader ere we close this series.

      But there is another power behind these manifestations, a power that, assuming various forms, has animated both heathen and Papal Rome. That power is named in the ninth verse. The great dragon is the old serpent, called the devil and Satan. He is the source of all the opposition that has ever sprung up against the Church. He can transform himself into an angel of light. He can take the form of a church to compass his ends, or he can incite secular authority to the persecution of the true Church.

      At this time, the period already indicated in the history of the Church, he assumes the form of Rome, of imperial Rome, the seven-hilled city, for says the Apostle, Rev. 17:9, "the seven [236] heads are seven mountains." This, then, is the period when the Church is sweeping on with a mighty increase; when imperial Rome seeks to check that mighty growth; when Diocletian decrees the utter abolition of the Christian name; when Maxentius, the competitor of Constantine for the empire, vowed to Jupiter that if he would give him success, he would exterminate Christianity from the face of the earth. It is a period of mighty conflict, of a stern grapple between the moral resistance of the Church and the murderous legions of Rome. It is the period when the dragon, red, bloody, mighty, seeks to destroy the offspring of the woman, the saints, from the earth.


      "And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne."--12:5.

      If the reader will turn to the seventeenth verse he will learn that the remnant of the woman's seed is "those who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." The offspring of the woman, the "woman's seed," then refers to the saints. It is they that the dragon seeks to destroy. But how shall they rule the nations with a rod of iron? It is usually supposed that this [237] denotes the sternness of the dominion, but the use of the same expression elsewhere shows that it refers rather to the completeness, strength and universal prevalence of their sway. An iron rod, or sceptre, is one that can not be broken. In chap. 19:15, it is declared that the Word of God shall rule the nations with a rod of iron. This is accomplished through the saints. They shall yet possess the earth. Every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess. The kingdoms of the earth shall become the kingdoms of the Lord and his Christ. The man child, the woman's seed, the saints, shall have a complete, an undisputed, a resistless dominion. They shall rule with an iron sceptre. But the man child is caught up to heaven. What means this? It means that the saints, protected by God, shall have a glorious exaltation. There was a signal fulfilment of this promise in the complete triumph of Christianity over Paganism. Before the end of the fourth century the long struggle of the dragon to devour the offspring of the woman was over. Paganism was utterly overthrown. Christianity was the acknowledged religion of the civilized world. In this mighty change, the exaltation of a suffering, down-trodden, bleeding Church, to a sway over the civilized world, we witness the seed of woman lifted to the skies. [238]

      When, in A. D. 325 Paganism had fallen, the old Pagan temples were converted into Christian churches, the Lordsday was observed by law throughout the Roman world and Christianity the recognized, protected and prevalent religion, this symbolism was fulfilled. We have this glorious conflict and triumph depicted by the symbolism of a conflict in heaven.


      And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she bath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and three score days. And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him."--12:6-9.

      The flight of the woman into the wilderness I will consider in connection with verse 14 which refers to the same event. In the order of time this flight occurs after the events related in verses 7-14. These verses describe a conflict which John saw in heaven, the overthrow of the dragon and the song of victory sung in heaven. If we will remember that the dragon is a symbol of bloody Pagan Rome, and the woman of the Church, it will be easy to explain the passage.

      John had seen the woman in heaven and [239] then the dragon appeared before her ready to devour her offspring. Then he beholds a champion of the woman appear who assails the dragon. This is Michael, the "Great Prince," the Archangel, described in Daniel as the guardian of the people of God, supposed by many to be the Lord. The dragon is vanquished in the conflict and is cast down from heaven.

      This symbolism indicates the defeat of the dragon in his attempt. He is not only vanquished, but humiliated, "cast down." The first mighty attempt of Satan to "abolish the Christian name from the earth," signally fails. We have already written enough to show the reader that this represents the facts of history. Pagan Rome, the dragon, struck at the heart of the Church. Blood flowed in rivers, the blood of the saints, but the grandeur of their lives and the heroism of their deaths struck fear and conviction to the hearts of their enemies. Each martyr called forth an army who were ready to die for Christ. God exalted the man child, caught it to his bosom, protected it, and Pagan Rome went down. The dragon prevailed not. Baffled, he is cast to the earth.

      We have next the songs of triumph sung in heaven. "Now is come salvation and strength and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ. For the accuser of our brethren is [240] cast down, which accused them before God day and night." Then the means by which this mighty triumph has been won is disclosed. "They overcame him by the blood of Christ, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death." They were ready to die for the Master.

      Did the dragon, under the form of Pagan Rome, assail the Church? Every reader knows that it made repeated, determined and bloody attempts to destroy the faith of Christ. Did it meet with defeat in this effort? The bleeding, mourning, suffering, crying Church grew stronger and stronger. The dragon prevailed not. Was the dragon cast down? At last, Pagan Rome, vanquished in the struggle, went down. Paganism fell to rise no more. Was this followed by a triumph of the Christian religion? The persecuted faith become the religion of the civilized world. What was the means by which this triumph was won? Not the might of arms, not the subtlety of human wisdom; "they overcame by the blood of Christ and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto death."

      The first great struggle between the woman and the dragon ended with the triumph of Christianity. There is to be another. The [241] first is seen in heaven. The next great conflict is to be


      "And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent."--12:13, 14.

      The dragon, cast down, continues the contest. It is transferred to earth. This indicates some great change in the nature of the struggle. We are told that he persecuted the woman that brought forth the child. And there was given her two wings as of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, to her place, and be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. Let us seek what this language implies:

      1. The Church shall be assailed, after its triumph over Pagan Rome in some way.

      2. The true Church shall be persecuted, and the dragon (verse 15) shall seek to overwhelm her.

      3. The true Church shall flee into the wilderness a place where men will not see her, into obscurity. This implies that she shall cease to be visible to men. She will yet exist, but in a form that men will not recognize her.

      4. This period of obscurity shall continue [242] through a time, times, and half a time. In Daniel the word time is used to denote a year. The period here is a time, or one year, times, or two years, and one-half a time, or one-half year. The whole is three and one-half years. This, reduced to days, is 1260 days. As a day is a symbol of a year, this period is 1260 years. In the fifth verse it is presented as 1260 days.

      What are the facts of history? Did Rome make an effort under a new form to destroy the Church? Did the true Church disappear from human view in a visible form?

      1. I hardly need to reply that after Pagan Rome fell, gradually the Church of Rome adopted Pagan ideas and rites, and usurped universal dominion. We do have a new and long continued persecution of all who do not consent to receive the mark of the beast.

      2. Did the true Church disappear? An Apostate Church is visible, but for a long time the true Church is hidden from view. It exists in the hearts of those who love the Lord. It is hidden among the rocks and in the caves, behind the family walls, in true hearts, but in public it is not seen upon the earth. It is vain to seek it. It is in the wilderness. Any church which is visible during this period can not be the true Church.

      3. How long does it remain in the [243] wilderness? The period has already been indicated as 1260 days, or years. In the last chapter I said that this period of time is named no less than five times. I also urged that it began during the persecuting reign of Justinian, in A. D. 533, when the Pope was styled the Lord of the Church. For 1260 years from that period the persecuted Church remains in the wilderness. The period ends about the beginning of the nineteenth century, and to this last epoch we may look for the re-appearance of the visible Church, or in other words, the Church will reappear about the beginning of the nineteenth century in a form that will prove its identity with the Church of the apostolic ages.

      4. During this period of the true saints, the dragon, through the temporal power of Papal Rome, makes war upon the seed of the woman, the true worshipers.

      In the twelfth chapter there appears a monster with seven heads and ten horns. He is the deadly enemy of the woman and her offspring. The result of his first conflict is disaster to himself. The divine help given to the woman overcomes the dragon, and he prevails not, but is cast down to earth.

      John, in the same chapter, beholds another conflict. The defeated dragon changes the scene of combat. On earth he wages a war of [244] "persecution" which results in the exile of the woman to the wilderness for a period of 1260 years, there in silence and obscurity to be nourished of God until the time appointed for her to come forth. We have pointed out the fulfilment of this portion of the vision in the establishment of the Papal power and in its persecution of the true worshipers; a persecution that results in the apparent disappearance of the true Church from the earth. Though not visible to the eye of the historian during this period, yet the true Church, fed of God, survives in the hearts of hidden and persecuted saints. The period of her exile began about 533, in the reign of Justinian, and ends about the beginning of the nineteenth century. Before the end of the period, the Divine measure, the reed of the apostles, was used to measure the temple, altar and worshipers, and, as the result, over three-fourths of a century ago, the true Church began to appear, as a visible body, once more in the world.

      In the thirteenth chapter, there again appears a monster with seven heads and ten horns, which it will now be our purpose to show to be a symbol of


      The fourth beast of Daniel's vision (Dan. 7) is a ten-horned monster. The dragon who [245] assails the woman in Rev. 12, has seven heads and ten horns. Here again, in chapter XIII. appears a beast with the same characteristics. In Rev. 17, there is recorded a vision of a harlot who sat upon a scarlet beast of seven heads and ten horns. I believe that all the best commentators, Catholic as well as Protestant, are agreed in the opinion that these various monsters are all symbols of the same mighty power, and all, with one consent, admit that power to be ROME. Here, however, there is a divergence. Romanists contend that the reference is to Pagan Rome alone, and that Papal Rome is not signified. This involves them in a labyrinth of difficulties, from which there is no deliverance unless we throw aside religious prejudice, let the Word as illustrated by history interpret itself, and accept the evident meaning. The reader will see that these monsters, all represent Rome, the enemy of the saints, the persecutor of the true faith, under the different phases of her existence. As Pagan Rome she is a persecutor; as a temporal power professing to be Christian but apostate, she is still a persecutor; as a spiritual power, true to her character for 1800 years, she still makes war upon the saints. Let us now turn to


      "And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise [246] 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. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority."--13:1, 2.

      As John stood upon the sands of the sea he saw a wild beast ascending out of the sea. I ask first, what is the significance of this fact? It might refer to the geographical seat of the Roman dominion. As John stood upon Patmos, if he were to turn his eyes towards Rome he would look over a wide waste of waters. Rome, seated on a peninsula, stretching from Europe nearly to Africa, and dividing the sea into two parts, was situated in the very midst of the Mediterranean. But I suppose that the term is used rather in its symbolical meaning.

      The ever restless, constantly changing, billowy, stormy sea, is used as a symbol of commotion. Out of a period of commotion, disturbance, change, spiritual Rome will establish her temporal dominion. Every student of history knows that never was a prediction more signally fulfilled. I have already described the sweep of the northern barbarians from their homes in the dark forests of Germany, the snows of Scandinavia, and the wilds of the [247] East, upon the fair provinces of the Roman empire. I have alluded to the utter overthrow of Rome and Roman civilization, and to the establishment throughout the West of new nations with new modes of life. I have not spoken, however, of the fierce contests over the spoils of conquest that sprung up among the victors; how Frank and Saxon dyed the soil of France and Germany with blood; how Celt and Saxon strove for 150 years for the dominion of England; how Greek strove with barbarian for the mastery of Italy; how, at last, the Lombard went down before the iron legions of Pepin and Charlemagne; how the Pope, who during all these commotions had industriously strengthened his hands, was recognized by Charlemagne as the rightful ruler of the earth; how the great conqueror was honored by the "vicegerent of God," and crowned by the Pope as "Emperor of the Romans;" or how, in addition to his recognition as the disposer of crowns and kingdoms, he was endowed by Pepin and Charlemagne with the fairest Italian provinces they had wrested from the Lombards. It was in the mighty period of commotion that overthrew the old civilization, ended ancient history, produced the Middle Ages and the chaos from whence there gradually arose modern nations and civilization, that the Popes, little [248] by little, almost imperceptibly created their wonderful dominion.


      I will defer a particular examination of the ten horns until we consider the scarlet beast upon which the woman sat, described in chapter XVII. and will now pass that feature with the statement that the horn is an emblem of power which here represents ten European kingdoms by which the Papacy exercised dominion over men. I ask the reader to now direct his attention to the seven heads of the monster. Let John himself explain what this symbol means. Turn to chapter XVII. "The seven heads are seven mountains upon which the woman sitteth." The woman is the scarlet lady, the harlot, the Apostate Church. She sits on seven hills or mountains. Rome has passed into history as the "seven-hilled city," from the seven mountains or hills upon which she stood. No feature of Rome has been made more familiar by her poets and historians than her seven hills, usually called by them, mountains. These were Mt. Aventine, Mt. Capitaline, Mt. Palatine, Mt. Esquiline, the Cæian mount, the Quirinal and Viminal. We might quote from Horace, Ovid and Livy, as well as the Church Fathers, Tertullian and Jerome, all [249] of whom speak of the seven-hilled city. The last-named writer who was born A. D. 342, in an epistle to a Christian lady, a resident of Rome, urges her to "Read what is written in the Apocalypse of the seven hills.

      But the seven heads are also seven kings. (Rev. 17:10.) They not only symbolize the seven hills of Rome, but also seven kings, or kingdoms, or governments, for the original term may signify either of the three. It evidently means the last. These were not contemporaneous, but follow each other. "Five are fallen, and one is (in existence at the time John wrote), and the other is not yet come, and when he cometh he must continue a short space" (v. 10). Five of these kings, or forms of government, had passed away in the year 96, one was in existence at that time, one was yet to come and should continue for a short time. They therefore follow each other and evidently refer to the governments, or rather to the forms of government that ruled, at the various stages of its history, the Roman dominion. Let us see whether the facts correspond with the hypothesis. The first form of the Roman government was kingly. The first king was Romulus; the last was Tarquin the Proud. There were seven kings in all. This is form of government No. 1. The kingly power was [250] overthrown by the elder Brutus and, instead of kings, two consuls, elected annually, were made the chief magistrates of Rome. The second form was therefore consular, or Republican, with two chief magistrates, the usual form of government to the time of Julius Cæsar.

      In the course of Roman history the State was subjected to great disasters, and crises came when it seemed that its last hour was at hand. The limitations of the consular government did not meet the demands of the hour; all laws were suspended, and one man was invested with dictatorial powers. The third form is the Dictatorial. At a later period the down-trodden common people of Rome who had long been struggling for liberty, at last succeeded in humbling the proud patrician, or aristocratic party, and putting the government into the hands of their own order. Under this arrangement the chief magistrates were the Tribunes of the people, invested with the same powers as the ancient consuls. The fourth form is that of consular Tribunes. Amid the commotions through which Rome passed for a period, the powers of senate, consuls, and tribunes, were suspended, and the absolute government was invested in ten men, superior to all laws. The fifth form is the government of Decemvirs.

      These had all passed before John wrote, "Five [251] are fallen and one is." What form of government existed in A. D. 96?

      The mighty convulsions that had begun in the time of Julius Cæsar, had finally ended in the establishment of an empire under Augustus Cæsar, who reigned when Christ was born. From thence there followed a long line of emperors, or Cæsars. It was the Emperor Domitian who sent John to Patmos. The sixth head was therefore the imperial. We have, then, (1) kings, (2) consuls, (3) dictators, (4) tribunes, (5) decemvirs, (6) "One that now is," or existed when John was writing on Patmos, viz., emperors. It has been found that the sixth did actually exist in John's time. It is declared in Rev. 17:10 "that one is not yet come." Another still was in the future at the time John wrote. After the fall of the empire there was revived a government of Rome and the contiguous territories. The rulers received the titles of Dukes of Rome and Exarchs of Ravenna. Their dominion began A. D. 566. Gibbon, speaking of this form of government, which was yet in the future when John was living, says:

      "Eighteen exarchs were invested with the full remains of civil, military, and even of ecclesiastical power. Their immediate jurisdiction, which was afterwards consecrated its the patrimony of St. Peter (States of the Church), extended over the modern Romagna. The Duchy of Rome appears to have included the Tuscan, Latin, and Sabine conquests of the first four hundred years of the city."--Gibbon, Vol. 3, p. 202.

      It has been needful for us to consider this passage in connection with Rev. 17. In order to complete, the subject of the heads, I will here discuss an eighth head, which is described as follows: "And the beast that was and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth to perdition."--17:11. There is then an eighth head yet to appear after the seventh; another form of government that is to combine the features of the seven. There can be no mistake in declaring that the eighth, the beast, is the Papal government, which, like ancient Rome, arising from a small dominion, at last grasped the government of the nations, and in addition claimed, in the right of the Pope as a temporal prince, the absolute rule of all Central Italy, extending from sea to sea, under the designation of the "States of the Church."

      I think that all unprejudiced readers will now be prepared to admit that the seven-headed monster certainly symbolizes Rome, but this will appear yet more clearly, when a closer examination has been made of the ten horns, which will be deferred until chap. XVII. is reached.

      Let us proceed to examine the other features of the beast. It is truly a monster, uniting the features of the pitiless, blood-thirsty leopard, the mighty feet and claws of the bear, and the [253] rapacious and deadly mouth of the lion. To this monster, a composite creature, combining many attributes, the dragon gives his power. The dragon, "that old serpent called the devil and Satan," had first appeared as the deadly, organized enemy of the Church, under the form of the persecuting power of Pagan Rome, as we found in our examination of the twelfth chapter. The power of the dragon of Pagan Rome is now yielded to the sea monster. He also yielded his seat and great authority. He gave up the seven-hilled city itself, his former throne, to the now power, which should henceforth rule from Rome as the capital of its dominion. It is also a fact of history that "the great authority," grasped by the Papacy, could never have been gained had it not occupied the seven-hilled city, the "seat" of the dragon, and succeeded to its dominion over the nations.

      "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."--13:3.

      The heads have been found to mean governments or forms of dominion. The mortal wound inflicted would apparently put an end to the dominion. This evidently symbolizes some mighty shock that the secular authority would receive, and would seem to be sufficient to bring it to an end. The imperial head did receive [254] such a wound. In A. D. 476, the last of the Roman Emperors of the West was hurled from his throne, and Italy became the prey of contending barbarian hordes. It would seem as though the fate of Rome was forever sealed. Nineveh fell, but it was to rise no more. Babylon fell before the armies of Cyrus, and after a few generations it became the abode of "doleful creatures." Tyre fell, and on the bare rock, which was once the seat of a mighty city, "the fisherman spreads his nets." Carthage fell, and a century after the exiled Marius sat among its ruins, musing upon the fickleness of earthly fortunes, and returned the answer to the Roman officers who ordered him from the coast: "Go, tell your masters that you have seen Marius sitting among the ruins of Carthage." Other cities have fallen and lost their glory, their dominion, their existence, and have been converted into heaps of ruins, where wild beasts have lurked, serpents hidden, and desert winds howled; but in the case of Rome, the deadly wound was healed.

      Mysteriously, wonderfully, the captive city, by the development of a new power, binds her conquerors in the chains of superstition, and by establishing a spiritual dominion over the souls of men, she yet succeeds in holding the secular authority over a vast portion of the world. [255] The means by which the deadly wound was healed is clearly pointed out, not only in history, but also in the latter portion of this chapter. It is the two-horned beast, "like a lamb, and with a voice like a dragon," "which commanded all the earth to make an image of the beast that had the deadly wound and lived," and then "gave breath to the image of the beast" (vs. 14, 15).

      "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."--13:5.

      This beast had a mouth given unto it that spoke "great blasphemies." Upon its heads were written (v. 1) the names of blasphemy. It is evidently a blasphemous power. Blasphemy is not simply profanity, but the claim of divine or undue power by a human. The Savior was condemned to die by the Jewish Sanhedrim, for affirming that he was the Son of God. They found him guilty of blasphemy. Has the beast claimed divine attributes? It claims to be "The vicar of Christ," "The King of kings and Lord of lords." It has claimed the power of legislation for the people of God, the power to forgive the sins of men, or to anathematize them to eternal perdition. It has long claimed that the decisions of its councils were as infallible as the voice of God, and in our own [256] generation it has decreed that the Pope of Rome, "sitting as God in the temple of God," speaks with the infallible voice of the eternal God. If these facts do not constitute blasphemy, it is a crime beyond the compass of the human will. This power of the beast is to be exercised for a period of


      We have found that this period of 1260 days, or 1260 years, since a day is the symbol of a year, has been several times mentioned. The "Holy City," the true Church is trodden down by the Gentiles for forty-two months; the two witnesses prophesy in sackcloth for one thousand two hundred and three-score days; the woman, or the true Church, is driven by the dragon into the wilderness for twelve hundred and sixty days, and the beast exercises power for forty-two months, which is the same period once more. There can be no doubt that the treading down of the Holy City, the two witnesses in sackcloth, the flight and sojourn of the Church in the wilderness, and the power of the beast, all take place during the same period, begin at the same time, are different parts of the same history, and end at the same epoch. I have decided these to begin in the reign of Justinian, when the Bishop of Rome was pronounced ruler of the Church, and when [257] the secular power becomes the servant of a tyrannical and ambitious ecclesiastic, and is employed to force all to submit to his dominion. From that period there can be no doubt that Rome, either indirectly or directly, becomes the secular ruler of the West.

      We have found that this period of 1260 years would end about the beginning of the nineteenth century. At the end of that time there is certainly an exaltation of the two witnesses, a return of the Church from the wilderness. Is there also a fatal shock to the temporal power of Rome? In 1798 Napoleon Bonaparte effected the conquest of Italy, and the Pope, a prisoner, was a supplicant at his feet. In 1804, he ordered the Pope, who was now his puppet, to come to France to crown him emperor of the French. In 1805, he assumed the title of King of Italy. During the years of his power be ruled the Pope with an iron hand, broke up the old European system, emancipated the nations from the terror of Rome, and when he fell, the temporal authority of Rome had received a fatal wound. The influence of the Pope in the politics of the world was broken, and although the States of the Church were for a time placed in his hands, it was impossible for him to hold them in the new Europe that had been created. Shorn of his sceptre as [258] a temporal prince, the Pope now locks himself within the walls of the Vatican, and gazes forth upon a Rome that is the, capital of a restored Italy, and in which Protestant church bells are ringing. These mighty changes which have gone on through three-quarters of a century, were all precipitated when the young General of the Directory, in 1798, scaled the Alps and descended on the plains of Italy.

      "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."--13:7.

      Another fact in the history of the beast is given. It shall make war upon the saints and for a season shall overcome them. After what has been said, it is needless that I should long dwell upon the pitiless, bloodthirsty, and persecuting character of Rome. From the reign of Justinian, when, according to Gibbon, the "Catholic soldiers burned the conventicles with their congregations," down through the awful crusades against the Protestants of the Cevennes and Alps, the massacre of Bartholomew, the autos da fe of the Inquisition, to the murders of Barletta in the States of the Church, in our own memory, her history has been stained with blood. Some historians have roughly estimated that the persecuting hands of Rome have been reddened by the blood of [259] 50,000,000 saints, but I rather believe that no man can estimate the number.

      "And overcome them." The Church was driven into the wilderness for 1260 years. During many generations Rome carried her work with a high hand, and was "drunken with the blood of the saints." But the day of retribution shall surely come, for he who leads the saints "into captivity shall be led captive, and he who slays with the sword shall himself be slain with the sword" (v. 10). The day of retribution will surely come, yet for many centuries Rome lorded it over "all kindreds, tongues and nations" of the civilized world (v. 7).

      The first ten verses of chapter XIII. describes the seven-headed and ten-horned beast which arose out of the sea. The rest of the chapter describes another beast, different, yet allied to the first. The second arises from the earth. Dean Alford remarks that both the beasts are alike as to genus. The original term denotes that they are both ravaging powers, hostile to God and his fold. The second, arising from the earth, grows up with the history and progress of man. It is subsidiary to the first and exists in order to preserve the existence of the first and to subserve its ends. It is described as follows:

      "And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; [260] and he had two horns, like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. 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."--13:11, 12.

      John sees this second monster coming up out of the earth, a beast that lifts two horns like a lamb and a voice like the voice of a dragon. I ask the reader to closely examine the connection described as existing between the ten-horned and the two-horned beast. The latter (1) exercises the power of the first beast before him, (2) causeth the earth to worship the first beast, (3) says to the earth that it should make an image of the first beast (v. 14), (4) gives life unto the image of the first beast, and (5) causes those who will not worship the image to be slain (v. 15). These statements show that there exists a close connection between the two and that the last is the supporter and restorer of the first. We have found the first to be a symbolical representation of the temporal power of Rome. What great facts of history are foreshadowed by the appearance, work and characteristics of the second beast? I believe that all judicious Protestant commentators are agreed that it can represent nothing but the


      The Romish dominion, ever since its full development, has been of a two-fold nature. [261] The Papacy has claimed to be the Vicar of Christ and therefore the rightful spiritual ruler of men, but it has gone further, and claimed also the temporal rule of the world. I have in my library a copy of the Missale Romanum; authoritative directions to Romish priests for the conduct of their ritual. My copy was published in Italy by the authority of the Popes of Rome, bearing their stamp upon the title page. On the title page, sitting in the shadow of St. Peter's Cathedral, a figure designed to represent the first of the Popes holds in one hand the sword of temporal empire, and in the other the keys of spiritual dominion. The unblushing claim put forth in this official and authoritative work simply represents what Rome has asserted during all the period of her dominion. Why did the Spaniards at the, time of the discovery of America obtain a grant of the lands discovered? Because the Pope claimed the disposal of the territories of the earth. Why was Brazil settled and possessed by Portuguese? Because the Pope granted to them the lands east of a certain meridian. Why was Charlemagne crowned by the Pope, Emperor of the Romans? Because the Pope claimed the disposal of the imperial crown. Indeed, no fact stands forth in greater prominence during a long period of more than a thousand years, [262] than the usurped rule of the kingdoms of the earth by the Roman potentate. He claimed the right to make and to unmake kings; all crowns were placed upon royal heads by his own hands or by those of his bishops; rulers were dethroned, subjects incited to rebellion, provinces taken from one ruler and bestowed upon another, and all the rulers of the Catholic world made to swear obedience to the Pope as their liege lord. Other kingdoms rise and fall but the one great, standing fact of mediæval history is the mighty, resistless, unscrupulous, all-pervading, continuous dominion of Rome. All history bears witness, therefore, to the two-fold nature of the Papal power, and it is fitting that these two powers, which acted together, one of which sustained the other, should be represented by two symbols. I will now ask the reader to study closely the characteristics of the second beast, and to ascertain whether they correspond with the nature of the spiritual power. And first, let it be noted that the beast is


      I suppose that no symbol could better represent the true character of the Romish Church. It claims to represent the Lamb of God and to have him for its heavenly head. When it suits its purposes it puts forth the gentle traits of [263] the lamb. In Protestant countries where it seeks to make an impression, Sisters of Charity and Morey do a holy work. When it can best serve its ends by such a course, the claws and fangs of the leopard are clothed in velvet, and the pitiless boast appears as a gentle lamb.

      But the beast spake as a dragon. It can hardly be necessary to state that symbolism could choose no language more appropriate to represent the harsh, arrogant utterances of Rome when she puts forth her power, or asserts her authority. Whoever has heard the harsh orders of the priest to his flock, has heard the dragon's voice. How appropriately this language describes the bulls of Popes, or the fulminations of anathemas and excommunications against their enemies! When Popes have proclaimed crusades against Protestants, authorized inquisitions, or celebrated Te Deums over such massacres as that of St. Bartholomew, it is impossible not to recognize the voice of the same old dragon that, under the form of Pagan Rome, warred against the Woman and the man child, and sought to abolish from the earth the Christian name. The next important fact stated is that the second beast exercises all the power of the first before him. He not only enjoys the same power as the first, but exercises it in the same place. They act in [264] harmony. There is a close connection. They are allied; indeed are different manifestations of the same power. This is shown in the facts that follow.

      The second beast causeth the earth to worship the first beast. The spiritual power of Rome is exercised before, or in the presence of, the temporal power. They have dwelt together and it is the spiritual power, that has made those that dwell upon the earth regard and pay homage to the temporal. The mighty dominion swayed by the Popes over the kingdoms of Europe, until within a recent period, could never have been secured had it not been for their spiritual rule. They worked upon the superstitions of men. They sat as God in the temple of God, and an ignorant and deluded race believed that to resist them was to secure eternal damnation. If an earthly ruler refused to heed their mandates his subjects were absolved from allegiance and bidden to depose him. If they refused the whole kingdom was laid under interdict, the churches were closed, religious rites were suspended, the dead were not buried in the consecrated grounds, and a superstitious population soon demanded deliverance by submission. By such processes the Emperor of Germany, who had sought to rule his own country, was compelled 800 years ago, [265] to kiss the toe of Gregory VII., after waiting three days barefooted at the door of his palace for admission. By the same policy, John, King of England, who had dared disobedience to a Papal mandate, was in A. D. 1213, forced by Innocent III., to humbly bow and to consent to hold the English throne as a vassal of the Pope of Rome. By the exercise of this spiritual power Rome was made again the mistress of the world, and the kings of the earth held their kingdoms as her subject provinces.

      "And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which be 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."--18:13-14.

      The means by which this dominion over the souls of men was obtained and maintained is next pointed out. The second beast did great wonders, pretended to perform miracles, and thus "deceived them that dwell upon the earth." Rome has claimed the possession of miraculous power in all ages, and no fact of history is better established than that she has continually resorted to lying miracles. The Romish traditions are full of wonders; the lives of the saints placed in the hands of the Romish laity for their religious reading, are a tissue of [266] miracles. The Breviary is the religious book which is used as a substitute for the Bible. I give a specimen of some of its legends. St. Francis Xavier turned enough of salt water into fresh to save the lives of five hundred travelers who were perishing with thirst. The surplus was sent over the world and performed miraculous cures. St. Raymond laid his cloak upon the sea and sailed upon it, as a boat, 150 miles in six hours. The dying St. Juliana could not swallow when the priest came to offer her the consecrated wafer. He laid it on her stomach and it immediately disappeared from view. Upon such stuff the Catholic masses are fed. These false miracles are no less common in our own time than in earlier ages. In Italy the statue of the Virgin Mary was made to weep by a trick of the priests; at Naples, yearly, a reddish solid in a vial, said to be the blood of St. Januarius, liquefies in the presence of the awe-struck throng, and another conjurer's trick is pronounced a miracle. At the grotto of Lourdes, the Virgin Mary is said to have frequently appeared within a few years, and a whole budget of miracles is reported. Hardly a month passes that the Catholic papers do not record Romish miracles.

      The object of these false miracles is indicated in the latter part of the fourteenth verse. It [267] said "to those who dwell upon the earth, that they should make an image to the beast that had the wound by a sword and did live."

      "And be 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."--13:15.

      The sword had overthrown the Roman Empire. To all human appearance the sway of Rome over the world was gone forever, but the second beast, the spiritual power, by its sorceries and its power over the superstitions of men, succeeded in restoring that dominion, and within three or four centuries of the fall of Rome she had again grasped the empire of the world. The "image" of the old temporal dominion was established. It was not the old temporal dominion in its ancient form, but it had the likeness of that old power. The Pope, a spiritual ruler, restored "the image," and established a likeness of the power of imperial Rome, by usurping the rule of kings of the earth as his own vassals.

      The image was not a mere likeness. The image had life. The second beast gave it life. The spiritual power made the restored temporal power of Rome a stern reality. This living image, endowed with life by the second beast, had power to speak and slay those who [268] would not do it homage. There can be no doubt as to what this means, nor as to the facts of history. The dragonnades of southern France, the relentless wars waged upon the Huguenots, the 18,000 victims of the inquisition in Holland, and the cruel wars of Alva for the extermination of the Protestants, the persecution conducted by Bloody Mary in England, all demonstrate how those were put to death who would not worship the image of the beast. The Pope has demanded implicit obedience to his temporal as well as spiritual demands, and, in the days of his power, those who refused him homage, brought down the terrors of both temporal and eternal ruin.

      "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: 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." 13:16, 17.

      It is next stated that he caused a mark to be placed upon the right hand or foreheads of all his subjects. The mark of the beast is some stamp or sign, by which all its worshipers should be known. In ancient days slaves were sometime's branded as cattle are in our own age. The brand or mark of the beast would be some indelible sign which would designate with certainty those who were subject to his [269] authority. A mark in the hand is supposed by some to represent the practice, while a mark in the forehead indicates the profession of life. It is remarkable, however, that a mark on the forehead converts a person into a Roman Catholic, and without this mark none are regarded as heirs of salvation. If the little infant should die without this mark it has no chance of salvation, but if the priest makes upon its forehead the sign of the cross with water, it is safe forever. Jesuit priests upon fields of battle have gone around among wounded and dying savages who had never heard of Christ, and made this sign, the mark of the beast, upon the foreheads of the dying Pagans and thus converted them into good Catholics and heirs of eternal bliss. In Mexico and Peru, Pagan natives, doomed to execution, have had this mark made upon them by zealous priests, the language and meaning of which the unhappy victims could not understand, and whose object they could not know, then, (as soon as baptized?) were sent out to die as converted Christians. That mark makes the infant, the heathen, the infidel, all subjects of Rome.

      I fear, too, that Protestant Pedobaptists, though they do not design it, are unwittingly following in the footsteps of Rome, and imitating the mark of the beast. [270]

      It is next stated that traffic was forbidden to all but the servants of the beast, It has been common for Catholics to be forbidden to patronize those who were not loyal to the Pope. At least three councils are named, those of Tours, of Constance and the Lateran, which have expressly forbidden business intercourse with heretics.


      Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; for his number is six hundred, three score and six."--13:18.

      The seventeenth verse speaks of the name of the beast. It has, then, a name. It also speaks of the number of its name. Its name, then, is some number. We wish to discover its name, and if we can learn the number we will find its name. Is it possible to do this?

      "Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast." This language shows that it is not a simple matter. It requires an exercise of the powers of the human understanding--nay, it requires learning--in order to solve the problem. But the apostle gives a clue that will help us through the difficulty. "The number of the beast," that is, the "number of its name," is the number of a man, and that number is six hundred and sixty-six. It is, then, plain that the [271] number six hundred and sixty-six, is the number of the name of the beast, and this is a man's name. Six hundred and sixty-six is English. John did not write in English, hence those words in English will not give the word we seek. 666 are the Arab characters for the numbers, but they were unknown until many hundred years after John wrote, and hence afford no help. John wrote in the Greek language for readers who understood that tongue. The number is evidently, then, to be expressed in Greek characters. The Greeks did not express numbers by figures, but by letters, just as among the Romans, X stood for ten and C for one hundred. Six hundred and sixty-six could be expressed by spelling out the words in the Greek language, or by using the letters which were symbols for various quantities. Let us try the latter method:

  30 == L
  1 == a
  300 == t
  5 == e
  10 == i
  50 == n
  70 == o
  200 == s
  666 == Lateinos.

      And what is this name? The number of a man; the Greek method of spelling the name [272] of Latinus, the reputed founder of the Latin race. But what more is it? Rome is the ancient capital of the Latins. The Romans were a Latin race and spoke the Latin language. The Romish Church is continually officially called the Latin Church, to distinguish it from the Greek Church, the other branch of the great ancient schism; the Catholic sacred books are written in the Latin tongue; the worship is conducted in every country in the Latin alone, and when a Catholic council convenes, all its conferences are conducted in the tongue of the ancient Latins. There is, then, a Latin Church whose official and sacred speech is the Latin language, which has for its seat the ancient Latin capital. That Church is the great Apostate Church, upon whose head the names of blasphemy have been written, which has claimed universal dominion upon the earth, and has slain the saints of the Most High. Its name is the number of the beast, and that name, Lateinos, the name or number of a man, is 666.

      This is so wonderful that there is no possibility of error. The Papacy, beyond possibility of doubt, is the beast. To the learned reader I would say, that I have used the English letters for the name, Lateinos, rather than the Greek, as I am writing for an English audience. [273]

[VOTA 231-273]

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B. W. Johnson
Vision of the Ages (1881)