The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 84
The Mystery of the Great Harlot
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.