606. Verse 17. And that no one could buy or sell if he hath not the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name, signifies that it is not lawful for anyone to teach from the Word, nor consequently to be inaugurated into the priesthood, honored with the laurel of a mastership, invested with the doctor's cap, and called orthodox, unless he acknowledges that doctrine, and swears to the belief and the love of it, or to that which is in agreement, or to that which does not disagree with it. By buying and selling is signified to procure knowledges for one's self, here such as belong to that doctrine, and to teach them, as will appear presently. By "a mark" is signified the acknowledgment as a Reformed Christian, and confession that he is so (n. 605); by "the name of the beast" is signified the quality of the doctrine, by "name" the quality (n. 81, 122, 165, 584), and by "the beast" is signified the doctrine received by the laity, thus by the general body (n. 567); and as it is said, "or the name of the beast," that which is in agreement with it and its quality is signified; by "number" is signified the quality of a thing (n. 448); and because it is said, "or the number of his name," that which does not disagree with it and its quality is signified. It is so said, because the doctrine which is signified by the dragon and his beast, varies in the different kingdoms in which the Reformed are; but it is the same as to this chief or head of doctrine, THAT FAITH WITHOUT THE WORKS OF THE LAW JUSTIFIES AND SAVES. That "to buy and sell" signifies to procure knowledges, and teach them, in like manner "to merchandise," "trade," and "gain" appears from the following passages:
Everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no silver, come ye, buy and eat; yea come, buy wine and milk without silver and without price (Isa. 55:1).
Ye have sold yourselves for nought, therefore ye shall not be redeemed by silver (Isa. 52:3).
With thy wisdom and with thy intelligence thou hast made for thyself wealth; and by the multitude of wisdom and by thy traffic thou hast multiplied for thyself wealth (Ezek. 28:4-5).
Since by "Tyre" is signified the church as to the knowledges of good and truth, therefore it is said of Tyre:
All the ships of the sea were for trading thy merchandise; Tarshish was thy merchant in silver; Javan, Tubal, and Meshech, they were thy merchants, they gave thy merchandise with the soul of man. Syria was thy merchant in chrysophasus; thy wealth, thy traffic, thy merchandise, they that carry on thy merchandise, shall fall into the heart of the seas in the day of thy fall (Ezek. 27:1 to the end).
Howl, ye ships of Tarshish, for Tyre is laid waste, whose merchants are princes, and whose traffickers are the honored of the earth (Isa. 23:1-8).
The same is meant by trading, in the Lord's parable:
Of the man who travelled abroad, and gave his servants talents, that they might trade with them and gain (Matt. 25:14-30).
And of the other, who gave his servant ten pounds to trade with (Luke 19:12-26).
And of the treasure hid in a field; which when a man found, he hid, and sold all that he had and bought the field (Matt. 13:44).
And of him that sought beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one precious one, sold all and bought it (Matt. 13:45-46).
Such have thy merchants been from thy youth; they wandered everyone from his quarter, none shall save thee (Isa. 47:15; besides many other passages).