The interpretation which has been given in the text of the strongest terms in the apostle's language respecting the antichrist, by understanding them of a virtual, in contradistinction to a formal and avowed assumption of blasphemous prerogatives, is so much in accordance with the general style of prophecy, and so plainly demanded by the connection, that we cannot refrain from expressing our wonder, at finding interpreters of note still pressing the opposite view. Their doing so must be regarded as another instance of that tendency to literalism, which has wrought such confusion in the prophetical field, and which, at particular points, returns upon some, who in general have attained to a correct discernment of the characteristics of prophecy.
The practice of describing things by their real, as opposed to their professed or apparent character, is one that peculiarly distinguishes the Apocalyptic imagery.
Thus the worldly kingdoms, both in Daniel and the Revelation, are represented as beasts -- not that they actually were, or gave themselves out to be such, but because they pursued a course which partook largely of the bestial nature; they were, one might say, virtual beasts. And the false, seductive power designated Babylon, the mother of harlots and abominations, we may be sure, was not going to proclaim her own shame by declaring herself to be what those epithets import.
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