"And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."
With much fear and trembling, we venture to write such views as we have on the subject proposed for our consideration; not however, because we must necessarily cross and controvert the expositions which have been given by the learned and the great who have been admired by the literary and religious world, nor yet because we are conscious that our views will subject us to the reproach and ridicule of ungodly men; but because the subject is deep and mysterious, as well as grand and sublime. We have never attempted to explain the dark imagery presented in the visions of John upon the Isle of Patmos without feeling an unusual sense of our littleness, while amazed at the awful grandeur therein embodied. No amount of study, no application of the intellectual powers of the human mind can ever approximate a solution of the things set forth in the vision, any farther than they are opened to our understanding by him who alone of all in heaven or on earth was able to take the book, and open the seals thereof.
Before entering upon the immediate subject of the text, we call the attention of our readers to the demonstration in this book of the Omniscient wisdom and irrevocable purposes of Almighty God, both of which we are compelled to admit, or failing to admit, we must reject the whole book of Revelation as a heaven-inspired record of the truth of God. Were it possible that any event in the future, however distant or complicated, was hidden from the Omniscience of Jehovah, this vision could not be relied on as setting forth things which should certainly come to pass in the precise and exact order indicated by the striking figures which John saw, and interpretations given him by the angel of the Lord. And were not the whole chain of events foreshadowed in this book, absolutely ordained by him who has declared the end from the beginning, saying, "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure," it could not have been with certainty declared hundreds of years in advance, what should, or what should not come to pass.
Let the reader then decide at once whether he will reject this book as a revelation from God - as its name and title claims - or admit that God has settled in his purpose and decrees, unalterably and forever, all the events which are here declared should be fulfilled both in the history of the church and people of God, and in the development of the man of sin, the son of perdition, that wicked, whose coming is after the working of Satan - with all signs and lying wonders, and all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish. The exact limits set to every development of anti-christ, whether, as the great red dragon; the beast that rose out of the sea; the beast that rose out of the earth; the image of the beast; the scarlet colored beast; the mistress of abominations on whose forehead is indelibly written, Mystery, Babylon the great, the Mother of Harlots and abominations of the earth, assigning to each of these characters their exact rise, career, duration, and final overthrow. Showing with the minutest accuracy exactly when and to what extent they should annoy, worry, persecute, or slaughter the saints of God; and by what signal displays of Almighty power God would preserve his church in the face of all the combined powers of wicked men and devils, and curb, restrain, and finally destroy all the elements of opposition, and finally bring his bride elect in triumph to the skies. How exceedingly limited are the views of those who hold that God's purpose and decrees, his wisdom, government and ordination, embrace only the good actions of men; when it is expressly written, "There is none that doeth good; no, not one." How truly it is written, "The fool hath said, There is no God." We cannot admit his being and deny that he reigns in the armies of heaven and over all the inhabitants of earth. If his government and foreordination does not set bounds to the wicked actions of men and devils - how shall we read our text? Almost two thousand years ago God gave this very revelation to Jesus Christ, as Head of the church, to show unto his servants, and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John; and commanded John to write it in a book for the use of his churches. The text does not read as though the things declared were unsettled, unfixed, or uncertain. The immutable God by his angel signifies to John, (see Chapter 1:1,2) "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Is it possible to deny the foreordination of God and admit the truth of this text? Or is it possible to deny the truth of this text without making him a liar who sent and signified it to John?
First - In offering some remarks on the text we propose to notice briefly the character or thing that shall be worshiped.
Second - The people and their locality who shall worship him.
Third - The clearly implied reservation of a remnant according to the election of grace, who shall not worship him.
Fourth - The obvious reason why they shall not worship him; their names being written in the Book of Life, etc.
Fifth - Some testimony of the Lamb - his Book of Life, and in what sense the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world.
First - The character or thing that shall be worshiped. To it the personal pronoun him is applied in our text. The antecedent to this pronoun is unmistakably given in the context, as the beast which John saw rise up out of the sea, when he stood upon the sand of the sea, and which he describes as having seven heads, and ten horns. Thus far his description is similar to that of the great red dragon mentioned in the preceding chapter, and which gave to this sea-monster his seat and power and great authority. The dragon, however, had his seven crowns upon his heads, but the beast wears them upon his ten horns. And this beast which John saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were like as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion. What an ugly looking monster to be worshiped! Who would suppose his admirers would be so numerous that that devotion to him would ever become so popular in the world? But so it was ordained. They should not only worship him but the same class of worshipers should also worship the dragon which gave power to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him? And there was given him a mouth, speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. 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." Here the words of our text follow: "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him." Him who had seven heads and ten horns, who was like the leopard, the bear, and whose mouth was like that of a lion, him whose lion-like mouth blasphemed God, his Name, his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. Him who made war with and overcame the saints, him whose time was limited to forty and two months. This complicated monster, this amalgamation of all that is brutal, savage, ravenous, carnivorous, and terrible, is the deified idol at whose shrine nations should bow down, and all the tribes of the earth with the exception only of those mentioned in our text shall worship. This mystic beast was used to signify to John one of the multiform phases of the man of sin.
It is supposed that in the classification of the various organized forms of anti-christian power, the dragon is used to denote the Pagan, and this beast to represent the Papal form of organized and legal persecution brought to bear against the church and kingdom of our God and his Christ; and that numerous other striking figures are used in the apocalypse to denote the Mohammedan, the Protestant, and all other prominent forms of opposition to be encountered by the people of the saints of the Most High God. We shall not be able in this article, nor will we be expected to trace out the full analogy of these figures; but we shall adopt the application of the figure of the beast which is to be worshiped so very extensively - as signifying the Papal anti-christ, which succeeded the Pagan dragon, and was inaugurated at Rome, in the seat formerly occupied by the dragon under the Pagan government of that vast empire, and installed in the great power and imperial authority of the dragon, when the first Papal Pontif was elevated as Universal Bishop at or about the year A.D. 606, having forty and two months, according to our context, to continue. These forty and two months agree with the thousand, two hundred and three score days, in which God's two witnesses were to prophesy in sackcloth, according to Rev. 11:3. Allowing thirty days to a month, the forty and two months amount to one thousand two hundred and three score days. And this according to the computation of time signified by Daniel's seventy weeks, and other like figures, give each day to signify one year; and allowing this application of time, and the correctness of historical data that the Papal anti-christ was organized and its forty and two months began at A.D. 606, its termination, together with the slaying of the two winesses, may be expected by A.D. 1866, as 1260 added to 606 will amount to that term. Truly the time seems to be at hand, and the general upheaving of the nations of the earth and more especially the recent stripping of the Pope of his secular power over many mighty nations, favors the conclusion that the Papal supremacy will expire by the end of the next four years. And if we do not greatly mistake current indications, the Civil War now raging in our own beloved country is preparing the way for the slaying of the two witnesses, simultaneously with the downfall of the Papacy in the old world. But -
Secondly - Who are to worship this beast? All who dwell upon the earth, whose names are not written in the Book of Life, etc. From the Roman Empire Papal missionaries were sent forth into all the nations, tribes, and kindreds of the earth and the world wondered after the beast. "All that dwell upon the earth," not only expresses the general spread of Popery into all the nations and tribes of men; but according to the context, those of all classes of the children of men. In the sixteenth verse, we are told that the image of the beast, when it received life, causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, and in their foreheads. And in verse twelve, "He causeth the earth and them that dwell therein to worship the first beast whose deadly wound was healed." The first beast is the one which is spoken of in our text, and is called the first in distinction from the beast which John beheld coming up out of the earth, with two horns like a lamb, which spake as a dragon. But there seems to be something peculiarly expressive in regard to their locality; they dwell upon the earth. The true church of God is throughout this vision represented as dwelling in heaven. Their life, or spiritual vitality is hid with Christ in God. Their conversation is in heaven; for they are risen with Christ. And in the verse immediately preceding our text, they are said to dwell in heaven. But all religionists, whose religion is earthly, sensual, and devilish, are appropriately said to dwell, not in heaven, but on the earth. They are themselves of the earth, earthly, and all the religion originating from their resolutions, wills, and works, has its source or fountain in the earth; and as they live religiously on their earthly doctrines, rites, ceremonies, and performances, they dwell upon the earth. They are not built upon the foundation of the prophets and apostles of the Lord, but upon the earth which is to be consumed. And their dwelling is defended by earthly power, force, and authority. Instead of trusting in the Lord they confide in armies and navies, emperors and kings. And instead of the armor of God and the salvation which God has appointed for walls and bulwarks for his Zion, the weapons of their warfare are carnal. Their munitions are oppression, disfranchisement, confiscation, prisons, dungeons, racks, tortures, gibbets, stakes, flames, and fagots. Their arguments are edicts and decrees, thundered from the thrones of monarchs or from the Sea of Rome. Their dwelling is in every sense upon the earth, and all such dwellers on the earth, whether they be small or great, rich or poor, bond or free, must worship the beast by acknowledging his assumed supremacy, looking to him for pardon of sin, by applying to him his blasphemous titles - His Holiness - Head of the Church - Christ's Vicar, and by according to him the right to represent by his triple crown, that the power of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is vested in him, together with all power on earth, ecclesiastic and civil, and that he is divinely commissioned to reign over the kings of the earth, and to lord it over the heritage of the Lord. But it must not be understood that all who worship this beast are members of the Roman Catholic commission - for this chapter shows conclusively that all who belong to the organization of the second beast, and all embraced in the image of the beast are included as dwelling upon the earth, as having the mark of this beast, and the number of his name. If the beast that rose up out of the sea was Popery, the beast coming up out of the earth must signify the Protestant anti-christ; and the image of the beast which rose out of the sea is set up by Protestantism and presents a fac simile of the original, which we have in striking exactness in the numerous unscriptural religious organizations set up by the various Protestant branches of modern anti-christ for the evangelization of the world, and which claim the right to supervise the constituted governments of the world, and in its insatiable thirst for human blood. Rev. 14:9-11 - The third angel proclaimed the dreadful doom of all the worshipers of the beast, "Saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone, in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
Thirdly - We were to notice the reservation of those whose names are written in the book of life. In the next chapter we are told that these, instead of dwelling upon the earth, stood with the Lamb upon Mount Sion. That the number of them was an hundred and forty and four thousand, and beside these, as we are elsewhere told was an innumerable company which no man can number which were redeemed out of every kindred and tribe and nation. These have the seal of God the Father written in their foreheads. These all sang the new song, which no man could learn but those which were redeemed from the earth. That is, from where they once dwelt with others on the earth; but they are redeemed from the earth and then they learn to sing the new song before the throne. We have a copy of this song in Rev. 15:3. It is called the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, "Saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints," etc. While all the worshipers of the beast sing great and marvelous are the works of men, the powers of men, the agency of men, and the efficiency of the institutions of men for the redemption of the world; while they worship the beast, the works of their own hands, and glory in their shame, they cry, "Who is like unto the beast: who is able to make war with the beast." But they can never learn to appreciate the great and marvelous works of the Lord God Almighty, nor to acknowledge the justice and truth of the ways of the King of saints. Those whom God has redeemed from the earth, who are taught of God thus to sing and ascribe all power and majesty to God, are further described by, 'These are they which were not deified with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth: These were redeemed from among men, etc. We cannot sustain this character, and yet worship the beast and carry his mark. If we follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth, we shall not run ahead and ask him to follow with his approbation and blessing what we have devised, invented or done. These are they that follow him in the regeneration; he going before them in that work, and they following after him. When he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and they follow him; but a stranger they will not follow for they know not the voice of strangers. They follow him in the baptismal grave, into the wilderness, in sore temptations and deliverances; they follow him into the sheepfold, by the door, without trying to climb up some other way. They take his yoke on them and learn of him, for he is meek and lowly. They bear his image - imitate his examples - obey his precepts, and depend on him alone as their only Savior, their Prophet, Priest, and King. And as they follow, he leadeth them into green pastures and unto living fountains of water. He leads them in a way they know not, and in paths they have not known; but they have the assurance that all the way he leads them is the right way; for they have learned to sing most sweetly - "Just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints." They are preserved from worshiping the beast, as the Lord's hidden ones were from bowing to Baal in the days of Elijah. "I have reserved seven thousand who have not bowed the knee unto Baal" And Paul, after referring to this reservation, adds, "Even so then at this present time also, there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then it is no more of works," etc. (Rom. 11:5,6) The sovereignty of God is vindicated while he in righteousness discriminates, choosing the delusions of the ungodly, and leaving them in their madness to believe a lie that they all may be damned who have pleasure in unrighteousness and believe not the truth. "But we are bound to give thanks unto God, for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, because he hath from the beginning chosen you unto salvation, through sanctification of the spirit and belief of the truth." (II Thess. 2:11-12) This people the Lord says he has formed for himself, and they shall shew forth his praise. He will put his fear in their heart, that they shall not depart from him; and he will not turn away from them, to do them good. He will never leave them, nor forsake them.
Fourthly - The obvious reason why they shall not worship the beast is that God has chosen them from the beginning unto salvation. He has chosen them in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy and without blame before him in love. "And the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his." Jesus says, "I know my sheep, and am known of mine." And they are registered in the book of life. They are written among the living in Jerusalem. Their walls are continually before the Lord, for he has engraven their name upon the palm of his hands: and lest any hurt them he will keep them night and day. For the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the wicked unto the day of judgment to be punished. The reason why they do not worship the beast, nor wonder after him, nor look to him for salvation, or ascribe any saving power to him, is that God has taught them better. And every one that hath heard and learned of the Father cometh unto Christ, and him that cometh unto Christ he will in no wise cast out. He will raise them up at the last day. They are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed at the last time. In thy Book all my members were written. And none can erase the names of Jesus' members from the book of life of the Lamb. God has predestinated them to be conformed to the image of his Son; and in that image they shall be raised up at the last day. As for them, they shall behold his face in righteousness, and be satisfied when they awake with his likeness.
Lastly - We proposed to offer some further remarks concerning the Lamb - his book of life, and attempt to show in what sense he was slain from the foundation of the world. A most ample and precious cluster of names and titles have been chosen and employed by the Holy Ghost to set forth the person, offices, work, and relations which our Lord Jesus Christ bears towards his people. Perhaps of them all, none is more interesting to the saints than that of the Lamb, the Lamb of God, the Lamb that is in the midst of the Throne, the Lamb that stands upon Mount Sion, etc. As a figure, the lamb is the most harmless, innocent, and meek of all the animal creation. Hence they were frequently used under the Old Testament dispensation to prefigure our divine Redeemer who is holy, harmless, separate from sinners, and higher than the heavens. But in the types, the lambs to be so used must be the firstlings of the flock, for Jesus was in all things to have the preeminence. They must be without blemish, for they were used to point to him who knew no sin; to him who was spotless, innocent, pure, and immaculate. They were used in sacrifice to signify that the Lamb of God was to be offered for the sins of his people. Abraham said unto Isaac that God would provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering. So Jesus is called the Lamb of God, the Lamb which God has provided, and on whom he has laid the iniquity of all his people. His book of life is not a book composed of paper or parchment, which might be consumed by fire, or its records effaced by passing ages, but it is figurative language. As when we wish to make a matter certain, record it; so in the archives of eternity, in the volume of God's book it is written, or in other words, made certain by the irrevocable choice, purpose, promise and decree of the unchangeable God, all the members of Christ's body, his substance, which was not hidden from the eyes of God. The book of life of the Lamb, in the sense in which the words are used in our text, are probably to be understood the same as where they are used in Rev. 22, as a record of those who have been brought into the fellowship of his organized church, in its gospel form. As in the old Jerusalem, a registry was kept, of the names of the living inhabitants of that city, so in the New Jerusalem, or the gospel church, those who are received into fellowship on profession of faith are enrolled among the living in the anti-typical Jerusalem.
As a Lamb, he is spoken of as having been slain from the foundation of the world; that his goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. And all his sufferings, and death, were summed up in the divine mind from everlasting. There is no room to doubt; but we understand the expression here used to mean more particularly that he was set forth in the types and figures used from the foundation of the world, by the figure of the slain Lamb. At the early dawn of the creation Abel saw, by faith, the bleeding, dying Lamb of God, through the figure of the innocent flrstling of his flock, which he offered, and which provoked the wrath of Cain. And from that period forth until the crucffixion of Christ, lambs were used by the patriarchs, and by the Levitical priesthood, to set forth the crucified Redeemer. A remarkable instance is given in the redemption of Israel from the house of bondage, when the Passover was instituted in Egypt; its blood sprinkled upon lintals and door posts of their dwellings, and its flesh roasted with fire and eaten with bitter herbs, only by the Hebrews, on the night of their deliverance. But we will not extend this already lengthy article by referring to all the lambs which were sacrificed from the foundation of the world; but barely remark that in them all the Savior, the Lamb of God, was evidently set forth crucified among them.
John was enabled to identify and bear record, or testimony, of Christ as the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world; which all the blood of victims slain before could not do. By one offering he has perfected forever them that are sanctified. In this case there is remembrance of sin made against them no more; for his blood cleanseth us from all guilt, from all pollution and sin. And Peter admonishes the redeemed saints thus, "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation, received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish, and without spot, who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God." (I Peter 1:18-21)
February 15, 1862.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 5
Pages 129 - 140