Russell's view of the Revelation Beasts

by Paulapollos 0 Replies latest jw friends

  • Paulapollos

    Sorry for the long post, but I thought I should post this in as much of it's entirety as practicable, so you could see the context. I was inspired by our new DVD, which caused me to desire to look back to the delightful words of truth published by the faithful slave so long ago. Reading thru the original WT's in the 1870s onwards, I found myself entertained by reading the original explanantion of the Beasts of Revelation, (influenced by so many other religious groups, and attacking the somewhat contemporary Evangelical Alliance) from the Jan 1880 WT, in the form of a dialogue :

    A. The first ten verses of this chapter describe the Papal--Roman
    dominion. It is the Leopard; its spots showing mixture, or
    church and empire combined. It receives its power &c., from the
    "Dragon" (Pagan Rome.) Let me here explain that in symbol,
    "Heavens," signify the higher or ruling powers, "Earth,"
    represents the people obedient to those ruling powers. When the
    Dragon gave its place to Papacy, it (Papacy) became "the
    heavens" and those who were obedient to it (the church) were
    "the earth." "The sea" represents the general masses of the
    world, without religious restraints.
    The "Leopard" arose from the sea--from among the masses of
    the people--received its power and dominion etc. "And the
    whole earth wondered after the beast." And they did homage to
    the Dragon (Paganism) because he gave the authority to the
    Beast. And they worshiped the Beast saying: Who is like to the
    Beast? Thus we see that the people honored both the empire and
    the ecclesiastical or church power, finally concluding that the
    Beast (ecclesiastical power) was the stronger, and saying--"Who
    is able to make war (to contend) with the Beast. The
    "blasphemies and the great swelling words" of this power, we
    talked of at our last interview. Its time for speaking is not
    limited; it still speaks, but not so its time for acting. It had
    "power to act forty and two months." This is the same period
    referred to in chap. 12 as "twelve hundred and sixty days," and
    three and a half times (3-1/2 years) extending from A.D. 538 to
    1798, when its "power to act" or put to death seems to have
    Vs. 11. "And I saw another wild beast, ascending from the
    earth." If the previous beast was an ecclesiastical power, this
    beast called another would also be an ecclesiastical, or church
    power. As the first beast had ten horns, or powers, which gave to
    it their support, strength and protection, so this beast has "two
    horns." The first beast received a deadly wound from the sword.
    (Vs. 14.) The sword is the word of God and Papacy received
    such a wound during the reformation. The preaching of the word
    of God by Luther, Zwingle and others, showing it to be the
    "mystery of iniquity," "The man of Sin," "The Antichrist," &c.,
    took away much of its power and almost took its life.
    B. I see then that the second beast with two horns, you regard as
    another ecclesiastical power arising since the reformation. Can it
    be possible that it refers to or symbolizes Protestantism?
    A. I think it does. As Papacy became a beast by the union of
    church and empire, so with Protestantism. It is not called a beast
    until it unites with the empires represented by the two horns--
    two powers, England and Germany. Notice that this beast does
    not come out of the Sea (the irreligious masses) but from the
    "Earth" (the people who had been obedient to Papacy). It has not
    the fierce, aggressive character of the "Leopard," but "two horns
    like a lamb." It used its horns only as a means of defense and
    B. The next statement that it "spake as a dragon" does not seem
    to fit Protestantism. It would seem to imply that the second beast
    taught the same things as the dragon, i.e. Paganism &c.
    A. By no means, the two beasts are being contrasted. We have
    already been told what were the claims of the Leopard or Papal
    ecclesiasticism, how it spake great swelling words and
    blasphemies, how it claimed the right to "rule all nations with a
    rod of iron" by virtue of its other claim that it was "The kingdom
    of God." Protestantism, though it associated itself with earthly
    empire and became a beast made no such boast. It spake no such
    swelling words and made no such pretentious claims. It does not
    speak as the dragon, as a dragon--Its claims are the same as any
    civil or dragon power.
    B. O I see! I thought that its speaking as a dragon, would
    indicate that it was worse than Papacy but I see that it really
    marks it as being better and is the distinguishing feature between
    it and "The man of Sin." It does seem that the Spirit clothed the
    matter in such symbols as would be difficult or impossible to
    understand until it should become meat due to the church.
    A. Notice further that although the two-horned beast claimed
    less, its greater humility did not operate against it, for "All the
    authority of the first beast he executes in his presence."
    B. That is the Protestant Beast [the state churches of England
    and Germany.] was able to exert as much influence and power
    as Papacy could by its greater claims. But what is meant by "in
    his presence?"
    A. This is thrown in to show us that the rise of the second, did
    not destroy the first one. They continue to exist
    "And he makes The Earth and those who dwell in it to worship
    the first beast whose mortal wound was healed." Papacy's
    wound began
    R64 : page 1
    to heal from the time the Reformation Church united to worldly
    empires, for how could the Reformers any longer use the Sword
    of the Spirit against Papacy as a church-- state organization
    when they themselves were the same.
    And not only did this cause them to cease to wound and injure
    Papacy, but when they justified their own church and empire
    organization and demanded for it the respect and reverence of
    the people, they virtually caused all, both papists and protestants
    to worship, respect and honor the Papal Church. To such an
    extent is this true, that to-day the Papal Church is recognized
    among Christians as one of the churches of Christ, instead of, in
    its true character as the "Antichrist," that the Lord recognizes as
    "The Abomination of the Earth." The utterance of early
    reformers against this church, if made to-day would be
    denounced by both Christians and the world.
    Vs. 13. "And he does great signs
    R64 : page 2
    so that fire he makes to come down from heaven to the earth in
    the presence of men." Remember that both beasts are now, in
    "heaven," or in authority. The second beast displays its power
    over "the earth," or those who are under its authority by
    occasionally sending down fire [symbol of judgment and
    punishments] upon them--declaring certain judgments and
    punishments upon those who oppose it--heretics. Such fire was
    sent down upon the Dissenters-- Baptists, Puritans and others.
    Vs. 14. "And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by the
    signs which it was given him to do in the presence of the beast."
    Those who dwell on the earth (not "the earth" itself--i.e. the
    people who acknowledge and obey these two beasts) probably
    refers to independent Christians not allied to worldly
    organizations. These were deceived by the pretentious claims of
    divine right and appointment etc.
    They claim as the Papal church did and does that they are the
    only church of Christ and that none but their ministers and
    bishops have right to preach since they and the Roman Catholic
    clergy alone are rightly "ordained of God." They claim that the
    right to ordain (set apart and install in office) was originally
    possessed only by the Apostles, who through "laying on of
    hands," conferred the gifts of the Spirit. This last we know is
    true, but they also claim that those so ordained, could, in
    ordaining others, confer the same spiritual gifts and powers.
    This was probably first promulgated to give power and seeming
    authority to the clergy, and to create between them and the
    balance of the church, a gulf of awe so wide that few would dare
    leap over. Thus priest-craft obtained a mighty hold upon the
    minds of the people. It is the carrying out of this same principle
    that sanctions the teaching, that none are qualified to understand
    the Bible aright except those consecrated by the imposition of
    holy orders by the Apostolic succession. This claim of both
    beasts we deny, and assert that the laying on of hands by all the
    Bishops and Popes, could not add to the spiritual gifts of any,
    saint or sinner. We challenge both churches to produce a single
    case in which "the gifts of the Spirit" (as they are explained in 1
    Cor.) ever followed the ordination of their ministers.
    It was in this way that the second beast deceived or led into error
    (bondage) the various independent companies of protestant
    Christians, telling them ("those who dwell on the earth") to
    make an image to the (first) beast, who has the wound of the
    sword and lives."
    B. We understand then that these two churches, the church of
    England and the church of Germany by their claims and
    organizations similar to Papacy, said to smaller companies of
    Independent Protestant Christians by example etc.: You will also
    find it necessary to have an ecclesiastical fence to separate your
    clergy from the common people of the church, that their
    utterances, by seeming authority may have the greater weight,
    even as the word of God with the people--thus preventing the
    exercise of individual thought and study.
    A. Yes, they demonstrated to them that they required an
    organized government &c., of the clergy over the common
    people like to Papacy in form, in fact an "Image of that beast."
    This each denomination, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist and
    legion besides, did, as they gained power, i.e. While they
    denounced priest-craft and advocated individual study of the
    Bible, yet, they claimed the authority of their clergy to interpret
    the scriptures. And while they freely placed the Bible in the
    hands of the people, they handed them along with it, the
    catechism and creed of the church. They concede the right of the
    individual to be a member of the church and to study the word if
    they will agree to believe neither more nor less than the clergy
    who formed the creed. Strange liberty! Thus each denomination
    did make an image; but there is a sense in which they have all
    united to make one grand image, the one referred to in this
    fourteenth verse.
    B. I notice that the Sinaitic MSS. adds the word also in this
    verse-- "That they also should make an image." --Would not this
    seem to indicate that Protestantism as represented in this beast,
    is an image of the first beast also?
    A. Yes, the thought is there even without the word also, since
    they are both beasts, but also, does add to the force. Well, they
    took the advice of example and did organize such an image. In
    London, Aug. 19th, 1846, there assembled representatives of all
    the leading Protestant denominations of Europe and America,
    who there organized under the name--"Evangelical Alliance."
    That was a church organization in many respects similar in form
    ("an image") to Papacy. Its design is to increase the power and
    authority of Protestantism, just as the formation of the Leopard
    beast was the result of a desire to increase the power and
    authority of Papacy.
    B. Surely you do not mean to say that the "Evangelical
    Alliance," which seemingly has been for the cementing of all
    Protestant Christians into one organization is an evil thing.
    A. The union of believers is one of the things for which we long
    and pray, but it is brought about, not by the organization of
    societies, but by the Holy Spirit. It is a union of hearts bound
    together by the golden chord of truth; not a union of church
    societies bound by creeds.

    I suppose the only thing to say is.....the light gets brighter, and later they realised that this entire explanation was wrong, and instead applied from 1914 onwards, contemporary to the current organisation at that time....somewhat like Russell did.......?! Oh dear. Maybe I should stop reading these old WT's.


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