(AR) - The Book of the Apocalypse Revealed, Uncovering the Secrets That Were Foretold There and Have Lain Hidden until Now

AR 799

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799. For thy great men* were the merchants* of the earth signifies that the higher ones in the ecclesiastical hierarchy are such, because by various arbitrary rights, left to them in the statutes of the order, they traffic and make profit. By "the great men" are meant the higher ones in their ecclesiastical hierarchy, who are called cardinals, bishops, and primates; who are called "merchants" because they make gain by the holy things of the church, as by merchandise (n. 771, 783); here, who by various and even arbitrary rights, left to them in the statutes of the order, traffic and make profit. Why this is said is manifest from what precedes, for this is a consequence of them. In what precedes, it is said that "there shall not be heard anymore in Babylon the voice of harpers, of musicians, of pipers and of trumpeters"; that "there shall not be there an artificer of any art"; "the voice of the mill shall not be heard there"; "the light of a lamp shall not be there"; neither "the voice of bridegroom and of bride"; by which is signified that in Babylon there is not any affection of spiritual truth, nor any understanding of it and thought thence; nor any search after and investigation of it, nor enlightenment and perception of it, and thence there is no conjunction of good and truth, which makes the church; see above (n. 792-794, 796, 797). The reason that they have not these, is because the higher ones in the order also traffic and make gain, and thus set an example to the lower ones. This therefore is why it is said, "For thy great men* were the merchants of the earth."
[2] But someone perhaps may say, "What are those arbitrary rights, which can be called tradings?" They are not their annual revenues and stipends, but they are dispensations from the authority of the keys; which are, that they remit sins, even enormous ones, and thereby release from temporal punishment; that by intercessions with the pope, they get power for contracting matrimonies within the prohibited degrees, and for separating them within degrees not prohibited; and do it themselves without intercession by toleration; by granting the privileges which are within their jurisdiction; by ordinations of ministers, and confirmations; by general and particular gratuities from the monasteries; by the appropriation of revenues from other sources which belong by right to others; and by many other means. These, and not their annual revenues, if they were content with them, cause that they have no affection of thought, investigation, and perception of spiritual truth, and no conjunction of truth and good, because they are the gains of the unjust mammon; and the unjust perpetually lust for natural wealth, and are averse to spiritual riches which are Divine truths from the Word.
[3] From this it may now be evident, that by "because thy great men* were the merchants of the earth," is signified that the higher ones in their ecclesiastical hierarchy are such, because by various and even arbitrary rights, left to them in the statutes of the order, they traffic and make profit. Something further shall be said here concerning dispensation by the authority of the keys, over crimes, even enormous ones, by which they not only liberate the guilty from eternal punishments, but even from temporal punishments; and if they do not liberate them, they still protect by asylums. Who does not see that this does not belong to ecclesiastical jurisdiction, but to civil jurisdiction; and that it is to extend their dominion over everything secular, and to destroy the public security; also that by this authority still reserved to them, they are in the power of bringing back their former despotic domination over all tribunals established by kings, and thus over the judges, even the highest; which also they would do, if they did not fear withdrawal? This is meant in Daniel by:
The fourth beast coming up out of the sea will think to change times and right (Dan. 7:25).
* The clause, "Thy great ones were the merchants of the earth," in the text of the chapter and in the Greek is reversed, "Thy merchants were the great ones of the earth."


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