The two-horned beast then is “another beast,” in addition to, and different from, the papal beast which the prophet had just had under consideration; that is, it symbolizes a power separate and distinct from that which is denoted by the preceding beast. This which John calls “another beast” is certainly no part of the first beast; and the power symbolized by it is likewise no part of that which is intended by that beast. This is fatal to the claim of those who, to avoid the application of this symbol to our own government, say that it denotes some phase of the papacy; for in that case it would be a part of the preceding, or leopard beast.
To avoid this difficulty, it is claimed that the two-horned beast represents the religious or ecclesiastical, and the leopard beast the civil, power of Rome under papal rule; that these symbols correspond to the beast and woman in Rev. 17, the one representing the civil power, the other the ecclesiastical. But this claim also falls to the ground just as soon as it is shown that the leopard beast represents the religious as well as the civil element of that power. And nothing is easier than to show this.
Take the first symbol, the dragon. What does it represent? Rome. But this is not enough; for Rome has presented two great phases to the world, and the inquirer wants to know which one is intended by this symbol. The answer then is, Pagan Rome; but just as soon as we add “Pagan,” we introduce a religious element; for paganism is one of the mightiest systems of false religion ever devised by the arch-enemy of truth. It was, then, the religious element in the empire that determined what symbol should be used to represent it; and the dragon represented Rome while under the control of a particular form of religion.
But the time comes when another symbol is introduced upon the scene—the leopard beast arises out of the sea. What power is symbolized by this? The answer is still, Rome. But the dragon symbolized Rome, and why not let that symbol continue to represent it? Whoever attempts to answer this question must say that it is because a change had taken place in the power. What change? Two kinds of changes are conspicuous in the history of Rome: changes in form of government, and a change in religion. But this cannot denote any change in the form of government; for the seven different forms of government that Rome consecutively assumed are represented by the seven heads of the dragon, and the seven heads of the leopard beast. The religious change must therefore be alone denoted by this change of symbols. Paganism and Christianity coalesced, and the mongrel production was the papacy; and this new religion, and this alone, made a change in the symbol necessary. Every candid mind must assent to this; and this assent is an admission of the utter absurdity of trying to limit this symbol to the civil power alone. So far from its representing the civil power alone, it is to the ecclesiastical element that it owes its very existence.