Revelation 13:15 - Clarke's commentary and critical notes on the Bible

Bible Comments

And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed - I would just observe that the Brahmins, by repeating incantations, profess to give eyes and a soul to an image recently made, before it is worshipped; afterwards, being supposed to be the residence of the god or goddess it represents, it has a legal right to worship. On this verse the learned bishop observes: "The influence of the two-horned beast, or corrupted clergy, is farther seen in persuading and inducing mankind to make an image to the beast which had the wound by a sword, and did live. This image and representative of the beast is the pope. He is properly the idol of the Church. He represents in himself the whole power of the beast, and is the head of all authority, temporal as well as spiritual. He is nothing more than a private person, without power and without authority, till the two-horned beast or corrupted clergy, by choosing him pope, give life unto him, and enable him to speak and utter his decrees, and to persecute even to death as many as refuse to submit to him and to worship him. As soon as he is chosen pope he is clothed with the pontifical robes, and crowned and placed upon the altar, and the cardinals come and kiss his feet, which ceremony is called adoration. They first elect and then they worship him, as in the medals of Martin V., where two are represented crowning the pope, and two kneeling before him, with this inscription, Quem creant adorant; 'Whom they create they adore.' He is The Principle of Unity to the Ten Kingdoms of the Beast, and causeth, as far as he is able, all who will not acknowledge his supremacy to be put to death." The great ascendency which the popes have obtained over the kings of the Latin world by means of the Romish hierarchy is sufficiently marked in the history of Europe. As long as the great body of the people were devoted to the Roman Catholic idolatry, it was in vain for the kings of the different Roman Catholic countries to oppose the increasing usurpations of the popes. They ascended, in spite of all opposition, to the highest pinnacle of human greatness; for even the authority of the emperors themselves was established or annulled at their pleasure. The high sounding tone of the popes commenced in Gregory VII., a.d. 1073, commonly known by the name of Hildebrand, who aimed at nothing less than universal empire. He published an anathema against all who received the investiture of a bishopric or abbacy from the hands of a layman, as also against those by whom the investiture should be performed. This measure being opposed by Henry IV., emperor of Germany, the pope deposed him from all power and dignity, regal or imperial. See Corps Diplomatique, tom. i. p. 53. Great numbers of German princes siding with the pope, the emperor found himself under the necessity of going, (in January, 1077), to the bishop of Rome to implore his forgiveness, which was not granted him till he had fasted three days, standing from morning to evening barefooted, and exposed to the inclemency of the weather! In the following century the power of the pope was still farther increased; for on the 23d of September, 1122, the Emperor Henry V. gave up all right of conferring the regalia by the ceremony of the ring and crosier, so that the Chapter s and communities should be at liberty to fill up their own vacancies. In this century the election of the Roman pontiffs was confined by Alexander III. to the college of cardinals. In the thirteenth century the popes (Dr. Mosheim observes) "inculcated that pernicious maxim, that the bishop of Rome is the supreme lord of the universe, and that neither princes nor bishops, civil governors nor ecclesiastical rulers, have any lawful power in Church or state but what they derive from him. To establish their authority both in civil and ecclesiastical matters upon the firmest foundation, they assumed to themselves the power of disposing of the various offices of the Church, whether of a higher or more subordinate nature, and of creating bishops, abbots, and canons, according to their fancy. The first of the pontiffs who usurped such an extravagant extent of authority was Innocent III., (a.d. 1198-1216), whose example was followed by Honorius III., (a.d. 1216), Gregory IX., (a.d. 1227), and several of their successors." Thus the plenitude of the papal power (as it is termed) was not confined to what was spiritual; the Romish bishops "dethroned monarchs, disposed of crowns, absolved subjects from the obedience due to their sovereigns, and laid kingdoms under interdicts. There was not a state in Europe which had not been disquieted by their ambition. There was not a throne which they had not shaken, nor a prince who did not tremble at their presence." The point of time in which the Romish bishops attained their highest elevation of authority was about the commencement of the fourteenth century. Boniface VIII., who was pope at this time, outstripped all his predecessors in the high sounding tone of his public decrees. According to his famous bull Unam Sanctam, published Nov. 16, 1302, "the secular power is but a simple emanation from the ecclesiastical; and the double power of the pope, founded upon Holy Scripture, is even an article of faith. God," said he, "has confided to Saint Peter, and to his successors, two swords, the one spiritual, the other temporal. The first ought to be exercised by the Church itself; and the other, by secular powers for the service of the Church, and according to the will of the pope. The latter, that is to say, the temporal sword, is in subjection to the former, and the temporal authority depends indispensably on the spiritual power which judges it, white God alone can judge the spiritual power. Finally," he adds, "it is necessary to salvation for every human creature to be in subjection to the Roman pontiff." The false prophet Said "to them that dwell upon the earth, that they should make an image to the beast that had the wound by a sword, and did live;" that is, the Romish priesthood Preached Up the pope's supremacy over temporal princes; and, through their astonishing influence on the minds of the people, the bishop of Rome at last became the supreme sovereign of the secular Latin empire, and thus was at the head of all authority, temporal and spiritual.

The papists have in their various superstitions professed to worship God. But they are said, in the unerring words of prophecy, to worship the dragon, beast, and image of the beast, and to blaspheme God; for they received as holy those commandments of men that stand in direct opposition to the sacred Scriptures, and which have been imposed on them by the Romish bishops, aided by the secular powers. "God is a Spirit, and they who worship him must worship him in Spirit and in Truth."

Revelation 13:15

15 And he had power to give lifed unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.