on Revelation 13 :12
And he exercised all the power of the first beast before him - In the preceding verse the two-horned beast was represented as rising out of the earth, that is, obtaining gradually more and more influence in the civil affairs of the Latin world. Here he it represented as having obtained the direction and management of all the power of the first beast or secular Latin empire before him, ενωπιον αυτου, in his presence. That the Romish hierarchy has had the extensive power here spoken of, is evident from history; for the civil power was in subjection to the ecclesiastical. The parochial clergy, one of the horns of the second beast, have had great secular jurisdiction over the whole Latin world. Two-thirds of the estates of Germany were given by the three Othos, who succeeded each other, to ecclesiastics; and in the other Latin monarchies the parochial clergy possessed great temporal power. Yet extraordinary as the power of the secular clergy was in all parts of the Latin world, it was but feeble when compared with that of the monastic orders which constituted another horn of the beast. The mendicant friars, the most considerable of the regular clergy, first made their appearance in the early part of the thirteenth century. These friars were divided by Gregory X., in a general council which he assembled at Lyons in 1272, into the four following societies or denominations, viz., the Dominicans, the Franciscans, the Carmelites, and the Hermits of St. Augustine. "As the pontiffs," observes Mosheim, "allowed these four mendicant orders the liberty of travelling wherever they thought proper, of conversing with persons of all ranks, of instructing the youth and the multitude wherever they went; and as these monks exhibited, in their outward appearance and manner of life, more striking marks of gravity and holiness than were observable in the other monastic societies; they arose all at once to the very summit of fame, and were regarded with the utmost esteem and veneration throughout all the countries of Europe. The enthusiastic attachment to these sanctimonious beggars went so far that, as we learn from the most authentic records, several cities were divided, or cantoned out, into four parts, with a view to these four orders; the first part was assigned to the Dominicans, the second to the Franciscans, the third to the Carmelites, and the fourth to the Augustinians. The people were unwilling to receive the sacraments from any other hands than those of the mendicants, to whose churches they crowded to perform their devotions while living, and were extremely desirous to deposit there also their remains after death; all which occasioned grievous complaints among the ordinary priests, to whom the cure of souls was committed, and who considered themselves as the spiritual guides of the multitude. Nor did the influence and credit of the mendicants end here: for we find in the history of this (thirteenth century) and the succeeding ages, that they were employed, not only in spiritual matters, but also in temporal and political affairs of the greatest consequence; in composing the differences of princes, concluding treaties of peace, concerting alliances, presiding in cabinet councils, governing courts, levying taxes, and other occupations not only remote from, but absolutely inconsistent with, the monastic character and profession. We must not, however, imagine that all the mendicant friars attained to the same degree of reputation and authority; for the power of the Dominicans and Franciscans surpassed greatly that of the two other orders, and rendered them singularly conspicuous in the eyes of the world. During three centuries these two fraternities governed, with an almost universal and absolute sway, both state and Church, filled the most eminent posts, ecclesiastical and civil; taught in the universities and churches with an authority before which all opposition was silent; and maintained the pretended majesty and prerogatives of the Roman pontiffs against kings, princes, bishops, and heretics, with incredible ardour and equal success. The Dominicans and Franciscans were, before the Reformation, what the Jesuits have been since that happy and glorious period, the very soul of the hierarchy, the engines of state, the secret springs of all the motions of the one and the other, and the authors and directors of every great and important event in the religious and political world." Thus the Romish hierarchy has exercised all the power of the first beast in his sight, both temporal and spiritual, and therefore, with such astonishing influence as this over secular princes, it was no difficult matter for him to cause: -
The earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed - That is, he causes the whole Latin world to submit to the authority of the Latin empire, with the revived western empire at its head, persuading them that such submission is beneficial to their spiritual interests, and absolutely necessary for their salvation. Here it is observable that both beasts have dominion over the same earth; for it is expressly said that the second beast causeth The Earth and them that dwelt therein, to worship the first beast; therefore it is, as Bishop Newton and others have observed, imperium in imperio, "an empire within an empire." We have, consequently, the fullest evidence that the two beasts consist in the division of the great Latin empire, by the usurpation of the Latin clergy, into two distinct empires, the one secular, the other spiritual, and both united in one antichristian design, viz., to diffuse their most abominable system of idolatry over the whole earth, and to extend the sphere of their domination. Here we have also an illustration of that remarkable passage in Revelation 16:10, the kingdom of the beasts, i.e., the kingdom of the Latin kingdom; which is apparently a solecism, but in reality expressed with wonderful precision. The fifth vial is poured out upon the throne of the beast, and His Kingdom is darkened, i.e., the Latin kingdom in subjection to the Latin kingdom or the secular Latin empire.
on Revelation 13 :12
And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him - The same amount of power; the same kind of power. This shows a remarkable relationship between these two beasts; and proves that it was intended to refer to the same power substantially, though manifested in a different form. In the fulfillment of this, we should naturally look for some government whose authority extended far, and which was absolute and arrogant in its character, for this is the power attributed to the first beast. See the notes on Revelation 13:2-4, Revelation 13:7-8. This description had a remarkable fulfillment in the papacy, considered as a spiritual dominion. The relation to the secular power is the same as would be indicated by these two beasts; the dominion was as widespread; the authority was as absolute and arrogant. In fact, on these points they have been identical. The one has sustained the other; either one would long since have fallen if it had not been upheld by the other. The papacy, considered as a spiritual domination, was in fact a new power starting up in the same place as the old Roman dominion, to give life to that as it was tending to decay, and to continue its ascendency over the world. These two things, the secular and the spiritual power, constituting the papacy in the proper sense of the term, are in fact but the continuance or the prolongation of the old Roman dominion - the fourth kingdom of Daniel - united so as to constitute in reality but one kingdom, and yet so distinct in their origin, and in their manifestations, as to be capable of separate contemplation and description, and thus properly represented by the two "beasts" that were shown in vision to John.
And causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast - That is, to respect, to reverence, to honor. The word "worship" here refers to civil respect, and not to religious adoration. See the notes on Revelation 13:4. The meaning here, according to the interpretation proposed all along in this chapter, is, that the papacy, considered in its religious influence, or as a spiritual power - represented by the second beast - secured for the civil or secular power - represented by the first beast - the homage of the world. It was the means of keeping up that dominion, and of giving it its ascendency among the nations of the earth. The truth of this, as an historical fact, is well known. The Roman civil power would have long ago lost all its influence and been unknown, if it had not been for the papacy; and, in fact, all the influence which it has had since the irruption of the northern barbarians, and the changes which their invasion produced, can be traced to that new power which arose in the form of the papacy - represented in Daniel Dan 7:8 by the "little horn." That new power gave life and energy to the declining influence of Rome, and brought the world again to respect and honor its authority.
Whose deadly wound was healed - See the notes on Revelation 13:3. That is, was healed by the influence of this new power represented by the second beast. A state of things occurred, on the rise of that new power, as if a wound in the head, otherwise fatal, was healed. The striking applicability of this to the decaying Roman power - smitten as with a deadly wound by the blows inflicted by the northern hordes, and by internal dissensions - will occur to every one. It was as if a healing process had been imparted by some life-giving power, and, as a consequence, the Roman dominion - the prolongation of Daniel's fourth kingdom - has continued to the present time. Other kingdoms passed away - the Assyrian, the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Macedonian; Rome alone, of all the ancient empires, has prolonged its power over men. In all changes elsewhere, an influence has gone forth from the seven-hilled city as wide and as fearful as it was in the brightest days of the republic, the triumvirate, or the empire, and a large part of the world still listens reverently to the mandates which issue from the seat which so long gave law to mankind. The fact that it is so is to be traced solely to the influence of that power represented here by the second beast that appeared in vision to John - the papacy.
on Revelation 13 :12