The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 84
The Mystery of the Great Harlot.
We have inquired into the meaning of "the woman clothed with the sun," shown to the Apostle John, as recorded in the 12th chapter of Revelation, and have seen that that woman represents the Church of Christ; we shall now try to find out the meaning of the woman shown to the same Apostle in a succeeding vision, described in chapter xvii. as being "arrayed in purple and scarlet colour." The former woman was described as arrayed in heavenly apparel, and being a virtuous wife to her husband : but the latter appears in great worldly pomp and jewellery, and as a great harlot, thereby signifying that she was once a virtuous wife, but has forsaken her husband and become an abominable whore. As by the first woman a Church was represented; so by the second woman another Church is signified : and the Churches presented are quite different in nature and quality; and as we found out what Church was represented by the woman described in chapter xii., by the marks given her, so we shall, by considering the distinguishing features and surroundings of this woman, ascertain the name of the Church signified and described in chapter xvii.
When the Apostle saw this latter woman, he said, "I wondered with great admiration. And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel ? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns" (Rev. xvii. 6, 7).
By the beast represented here, in connection with the woman sitting upon it, is represented the Roman Empire. It is the same beast, with the same meaning, as described in Daniel vii. 7; and in Revelation xiii. 1, and in the present chapter which we are considering. Though in each of these places it is somewhat differently described, nevertheless it represents in each place the Roman Empire, and, by the various differences in its appearance, is intended to be set forth some special lesson for our guidance and direction; and the very importance of the events represented by these visions should seriously arouse our attention to the matters foreshown; while for our encouragement, we have the promise from a Divine source : "the wise shall understand" (Daniel xii. 10).
To the Prophet Daniel, this vision of the Roman Empire, or the beast (Dan. vii. 7) was only given on a very small scale; though the vision includes all its actions until it shall be utterly destroyed. If this subject had not been further revealed in the book of Revelation there would have been much difficulty in properly understanding it. Now, however, that we have the two revelations, and the subject three times represented, we may compare the one with the other, and by close examination discern and distinguish the various meanings which the vision is intended to teach us, and the instruction it is intended to impart. The two visions in Rev. xiii. and xvii. include a great number of events which were partly hidden from the Prophet Daniel, and only partially revealed, but which are more fully explained and described in Revelation. In order to represent all the events—past, present, and future—it was necessary that the seven heads should be added to the beast, as well as the ten crowns; not upon the heads, but upon the horns; for the ten horns with crowns upon them (Rev. xiii. 1) have a twofold meaning. Whilst the horns represent the ten kingdoms into which the Empire should be divided, the crowns upon those horns represent the ten Kings of these kingdoms, which shall be in power at the same time with that vile King and great blasphemer called "the beast," (Rev. xvii. 12,) who will restore the Roman Empire, of which he will be the Emperor, whilst the other Kings shall still hold their kingly title and honour.
We shall now examine the marks of the beast, as represented in Rev. xvii., to see what they can teach us in connection with the woman, before we go on to examine the marks given of the woman, in order to identify the Church which is represented by her. In taking this course we shall not be so liable to make mistakes, or at any rate none of any great importance. To be certain what Church it is which is represented by the woman is of very great importance, seeing the colour she is represented by—with such an abominable inscription right in her face, upon page 22 her forehead, signifying what a shameless monster she is "Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth." The Church is thus represented to us to be aware of her whoredoms, and not be defiled by her uncleanness; and in order not to make any mistake in identifying her there are most substantial marks given by which she may be known; and for the interpretation of them, as to their meaning, a most trustworthy messenger is sent by our Lori—an angel from heaven, on whose truthful interpretation we may implicitly rely. Every soul is dear to Christ our Lord, who is faithful and true, and will not that any one should be deceived and liable to condemnation, but to be led to repentance and live.
The Beast with Seven Heads and Ten Horns.
In the book of Revelation, chap. xvii., the Roman Empire is represented by a beast, in connection with a woman sitting upon it. This being so, we would caution the reader to be careful not to take the woman and the beast for one object; they are distinct, though closely connected, like the rider and the horse. In this way we must consider the woman and the beast : the beast represents the temporal power, and the woman the ecclesiastical power, of the Roman Empire; and as the horse is the power who carries its rider, but the rider guides and directs the horse to answer his purpose; so the temporal power of the Roman Empire upholds and supports the ecclesiastical power, whilst the latter guides and directs the former for its own intents and purposes, which will be apparent to the reader as we go on. We have examined the marks of the beast before, and found that it indicated the Roman Empire; but in connection with the woman we find it necessary to repeat our examination, in order to ascertain what Church is meant by the woman, so as not to make any mistake in identifying her.
The Roman Empire is represented here by a beast which has seven heads and ten horns, but no crowns upon the horns, as in chap. xiii. We would draw the attention of the reader to the meaning of the seven heads. These heads represent, in chap. xiii., v. 1, seven rulers of the old Roman Empire, before it was divided into ten kingdoms; whereas in chap. xvii. these heads have a twofold meaning-(I) they represent seven rulers of the old Roman Empire, as in chap. xiii.; and also (2) seven mountains, in connection with the woman, as we shall see presently. The ten crowns upon the horns in chapter xiii. represent ten kings, at the time when the Empire is re-established in its visible form, to which formation we have to look forward. But in chapter xvii. these kings, together with their kingdoms of the re-established Empire, are represented by the ten horns upon the beast without crowns, because the kings and kingdoms are taken here together: "And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast" (verse 12). The beast here means the man who re-establishes the Empire. "These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength"—notice, not their kingdoms—"unto the beast" (verse 13). Comparing the passage in Daniel vii. 20, "whose look was move stout than his fellow's," with Rev. xvii. 13, "These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength to the beast," would clearly indicate the manner in which the Empire shall be reformed. It would appear these Kings will unite under one head that great King who shall "obtain the kingdom by flatteries" (Daniel xi. 21). He will make the proposition that there shall be an alliance established between them, in order to strengthen themselves against other mighty powers, under the form of the Roman Empire, in a manner similar to that by which the Germans have been united, to which these Kings will agree. That alliance may Italy commence between France (where, as it would appear, that King shall arise), Spain, and Austria, and the others be drawn in step by step; and ultimately that King called "the beast" to be set up as the Emperor of Rome.
In Revelation xvii., verse 3, the beast is represented as written all over with names of blasphemy; and in chapter xiii, verse l, the names of blasphemy are upon the heads of the beast. The blasphemy thus described refers to the whoreom of the woman whom the beast supports in her abomination, and is thus partaker of her fornification (xvii. 2). But that sort of whoredom will be done away page 23 with, either when the alliance shall be established, or at the time when the then Roman Emperor shall set up his worship (see chap. xii., v. 14 to the end): "And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire." (Rev. xvii. 10.) We wish the reader to notice the difference between the blasphemy of the beast in connection with the woman, and the subsequent blasphemy, which is ascribed in Daniel vii. 8 to the "little horn," and in Rev. xiii. 6 to the wounded bead. The former is carried on in collusion between the temporal and ecclesiastical powers; whereas the latter is the act of the most determined and despotic temporal power.
The Angel who gave the Apostle John the interpretation of the vision, commences with the beast, as follows : "The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; . . . the beast that was, and is not, and yet is" (verse 8). We have had this before. The meaning of "was, and is not, and yet is," is this : The Roman Empire in its shape and form was, as is well known; and there should then be a time when it could be said it is not, which is the present—it has quite disappeared from our view; but it is, nevertheless, in its power, in the ten kingdoms into which it has been divided; and by that power it upholds and supports the woman, represented as sitting upon it. Further, we read, "it shall ascend." (verse 8,)—i.e., it shall be re-established as to its form.
At present it might be compared to a house taken to pieces, of which it could be said "it is," with regard to the materials, ready to be again set up. The heads are added to the beast to show by whom the Empire shall be re-established—viz., by one of the heads of the beast; for the seven heads in this respect represent seven rulers of the Empire before it was divided, five of whom had passed away; the sixth existed when this vision was shown to the Apostle, and the seventh was to come, and continue a short space (verse 10), signifying apparently that he should not rule his full time, as the Empire should become divided. Here we have seven rulers already, representing the seven heads of the beast who ruled the Empire before it became divided. There would, in that case, be no one to reestablish the Empire. But here notice that the Empire is to be re-established by that wounded head—"wounded to death," but his deadly wound was healed again (Rev. xiii. 3). The Angel goes on to say : "The beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is (one) of the seven" (verse 11). How can eight at the same time be seven ? It would appear that, because the Empire was divided under the last ruler, the last one and that one who shall re-establish it in its former condition are to be taken as one; as is represented by the head being wounded to death and the same head being healed again; and of him it is also said that his power shall last "one hour" (Rev. xvii. 12)—signifying a short space, till he shall be destroyed. Wherefore, he who brings it into its visible form again, though the eighth as to number, is nevertheless one of the seven. As if the head wounded to death by the sword (Rev. xiii. 11) was cut in halves, the one half to be added to the last ruler of the Empire, who it is said "shall continue a short space" (Rev. xvii. 10), and the other half to the person who shall re-establish the Empire, of whom it is also said that his power shall bo for "one hour" (verse 12). Or the number, eight, may be illustrated by wight apples of equal size : cutting two of them in halves, throw the two halves of the apples so divided away, and putting the other two halves together, the number, eight, is thus reduced to seven, the eighth apple having become merged in the seventh; like the head being wounded to death by the division of the Empire, and the same head being healed again by another person, though the wounding and the healing are many centuries apart.
It was necessary to be delineated thus, to show the continuance of the Empire during the period when apparently "it is not," on account of the woman, which could thus be more clearly pointed out. and the identity of whom is of very great importance to those who will take warning. It was also necessary to be shown thus in order to identify the Wilful King—the "Man of Sin."
The Empire is at present apparently without a head, or rather with a very large gash cut in its head. Though, however deadly the wound appears to be, it shall assuredly, in the fulfilment of time, be healed again. With God, time is not numbered : everything is present with Him.
A Certain Church, Symbolised as a Woman, Termed a "Great Harlot."
Having seen what is meant by the beast in Revelation xvii., we shall now direct our attention to the woman sitting upon the beast, in order to find out what Church is represented by her. There are only two Churches which can possibly be meant by this woman; let us look at their claims.
One remarkable statement is made with regard to this woman, and that is, that she is a great drunkard; not, however, by some liquor, but "with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus" (verse G). Strange, it may well seem, that this woman should be thirsty after the blood of the saints, which are apparently the best and most useful members of human society. The reason may be found in the fact that Christians have a very delicate taste; when there is poison offered them they refuse to partake of it; and, out of love to their fellowmen, they warn others not to touch it, though it might be offered to them in a golden cup, for it will surely cause their everlasting ruin (verse 4). When she thus gets exposed, with her uncleanness, she gets into a rage, and nothing less than their blood will satisfy her : "Away with them," she cries; "it is not right for them to live;" and, having the temporal power at her command, she drinks Christian blood freely, whilst her thirst never gets quenched, but she longs for more.
Now let us try to find out what Church it is which is so marvellously represented by this woman, and by considering the marks given her we shall be able to recognise her.
We will first consider the Mahomedan or Turkish Church. (1.) She has undoubtedly with her Governments drunk much Christian blood; but we cannot see that in other points she agrees with the description of this woman. The Turkish Church does not sit upon a beast with seven heads and ten horns, as this woman does. Though Turkey is one horn of the beast, and is thus far part of the Roman Empire, its Church is only confined to its own Government, and Persia, Arabia, and India, besides Egypt, which is partly under Turkish rule. It cannot, therefore, be said to sit upon the beast. (2.) The Turkish Church has not her seat, nor does she sit upon seven mountains, as this woman does (verse 9), for Constantinople, the seat and head quarters of the Turkish Church, is not built upon seven mountains. (3.) The Turkish Church, or Constantinople, the seat of the Church, is not, nor ever could be styled "that great city which reigneth over the Kings of the earth (verse 18), as this woman, and the city where she has her seat, is. She is a great whore (verse 5), signifying that she was once a virtuous wife, but has foisaken her husband : the Turkish Church has never changed, hut is exactly what she was originally. For these reasons, we conclude that the Turkish Church cannot possibly be meant.
Indulgences.—The Roman Church teaches that Christ has committed to her Pope, Bishops, and Priests the power of indulgences—or, in other words, the power of discharging from the punishment of sin in this world and in the next; and that these indulgences may be purchased with money. And the fact is well known that indulgences have been purchased for large sums of money, not only for sins that were committed, but for sins about to be committed.
That presumptuous power we declare to be a monstrous blasphemy.
|(2.)||The Worship of the Virgin Mary.—No doubt the most remarkable privilege possible fell to the share of this holy woman. But conceived in the course of the law of nature, as she was. and flesh born from flesh, the same as we are—to hold her up to such surpassing honour as the Church of Rome does, so that she eclipses even Christ himself. "who is God over all. blessed for evermore to ascribe to her such power as to be able to command all that Omnipotence can do, making her equal with God. and thus virtually setting up a fourth person in the Godhead, is nothing less than the most diabolical blasphemy and idolatry.|
|(3.)||The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper.—The Romish Church teaches the superstitious idea that the elements of bread and wine, when consecrated by the priest, are changed into the natural body and blood of Christ. The Council of Trent defines it thus : "Whoever shall deny that in the most holy Sacrament there are truly and really contained the body and blood of Christ, together with his soul and divinity .... let him be accursed." (See Appendix C.)|
Traditions.—The Scriptures, the Romish Church teaches, are insufficient without tradition; that traditions have come down to us, either received by the Apostles from the lips of Christ himself, or transmitted by the same Apostles; that those traditions have come down to us, and relate both to faith and morals, and that they are of equal authority with the word of God; and that they have been preserved in the Romish Church by continued succession, and are to be received with equal piety and veneration as the inspired Word.
We unhesitatingly declare that assertion to be an error of the most dangerous kind, and regard it as nothing less than blasphemy.
Infallibility.—The Pope claims to be the sole head of the Romish Church, the Vicar of Christ, and as such, being invested (by Christ) with absolute power, in the exercise of which he is Infallible.
To claim this prerogative for any finite being is nothing short of blasphemy.
These, and the many superstitious and blasphemous doctrines, teachings, and practices too numerous to describe, the Church of Rome offers in "a golden cup" (Rev. xvii. 4), all in great pomp and outward show, with intent to draw "lovers." The only infallibility the Church of Rome is entitled to claim for her Pope, her Bishops and Priests, and her doctrines and teachings, we submit to be the inscription with God's finger upon her signboard—upon her forehead—"Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth" (v. 5).
The infidel and freethinker may try their skill to explain away the vision shown to the prophet Daniel (chap. vii. 7, 8, 11,) and the angel's explanation of it (verses 23, 24,) concerning the Roman Empire some 3,000 years ago; but as all the previous revelations to Daniel with regard to the rise and the might of the Roman Empire, and also its division into ten kingdoms, have been fulfilled; and here, page 26 in the vision to the Apostle John with reference to the Roman Church, so dearly pointed out, having also been fulfilled, it follows that the as yet unfulfilled portion of the prophecy will in due time also be accomplished. The restoration of the Roman Empire, and all the subsequent events so terribly described in Daniel vii. 25—57, and in the book of Revelation, chapter xiii. and elsewhere, shall taie place in due time, and nothing of it shall fall to the ground, in spite of their infidelity and unbelief.