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And now about the blank page of 1882 ? What shall be written on it? How much of the vile trail of the old serpent shall defile it? How much of the light of God shall make it beautiful? Surely if men thought that the making of history is in their own hands, they would do their best to make it reflect the generous, the true, and the good. Efforts to diffuse divine principles through human society, are the noblest in which the servants of Christ can engage, and we hope that the year of grace upon which we have entered will prove illustrious in this respect. Meantime we can but pray for the theophany, the coming of the LIGHT which will chase all darkness from the world and make it supremely glorious :
O LIGHT of men!
Mind is thine angel; genius, the boon
Which thy right hand has granted; thought, a ray
Return, O LIGHT! return to this thy world
How glorious then, when every mental power,
Shall bear her priceless treasures to thy throne,
Of unexampled honour; unbelief,
Impurity, ashamed, pollute no more
NOTES ON THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST.
THE BEAST FROM THE SEA.
NEW series of visions now commences, a series apparently intended to fill in and complete the prophecy relating to the Apostasy, the outlines only of which had already been traced. The vision commences with what is described as a great sign or wonder; and, under the figure of a woman clothed with the sun, we are shown what was to be the state or condition of the Church during the apostasy. Previous to this, however, we are shown how it was that the apostasy arose; and the vision accordingly goes back to the commencement of the Christian era. We see the Church "clothed with the sun," here apparently typical either of Truth, or of Him who is the Truth. It is better, perhaps, to take the sun as representing the former, inasmuch as the Lord Jesus is represented immediately afterwards as the "child who was to rule all nations." The "twelve stars," with which the woman is crowned, represent the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and they correspond with the twelve foundations of the Holy City (Rev. xxi. 14).
"The woman cries out, in pain to be delivered; " showing us that all the steps of the deliverance of the human race are, and must be, accompanied with pain, and that we must "through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God." Confronting the woman now appears a great red dragon "-red being the emblem of war and bloodshed-and, from this and other indications, there can be little doubt that the great adversary of mankind is alluded. to. This dragon is shown as having seven crowned heads and ten horns; and, consequently, we infer that the great empires of the world are, to a certain extent, given over to the dragon, or that, at least, he exercises great influence over them. He is permitted by God, for wise and righteous reasons, to possess a certain, and that often a very real power; and, indeed, our Lord Himself distinctly calls him, "the prince of this world."
"And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth." Here we have, I think, the cause of the great strength and wondrous vitality of the apostasy. Here, alas! we have the secret of the marvellous power of the so-called Church
of Christ during the long night that supervened after the death of the apostles. This casting down of the third part of the stars of heaven, I regard as a fact of the greatest possible importance, and one which should never for a moment be lost sight of, when we take an enlarged view of the history of the professing Church. It was these stars of heaven that, when thus cast down to the earth, did the greatest part of the mischief that awaited the Church. Without their aid, things could never have gone to anything like the length they did, nor could the light of the city set upon a hill have been so utterly darkened as it was. In Rev. ix. 1, we read of " a star that had fallen from heaven" (for this is the correct rendering), opening the pit of the abyss and letting loose the locusts; and in chap. viii. 10, we read of another "great star" that fell from heaven and made the waters bitter. Their being "the third part of the stars of heaven," would seem to connect them in some way with the fact of the third part of the sea, and of living creatures, &c., upon whom the plagues fell, being so often spoken of. The great damage done to the churches by these stars arose from the fact that they were stars; i.e., they were sincere, devout followers of God, who had been deceived by the lies of the serpent; for, be it observed, that it was by the tail of the dragon that they were cast down ; i.e., by the false teaching of the adversary they were led astray. "The prophet that speaketh lies he is the tail." It is in consequence of this that, in the words of the late Mr. Dunn, "Truth and error have been so inextricably woven together that only Divine power can now separate them." These stars, then, I think, are the so-called fathers of the Church, and to them I am satisfied that, as Isaac Taylor proves, all the abominations of the Papacy were in embryo in the early Church; and there can be no doubt that many, if not all, of the so-called fathers embraced them completely.
As confirming the view I have taken on this momentous point, I may be allowed to quote from a very able and powerfully written article in "Sunday Morning," by Mr. Cecil, on this subject. He says: "Nevertheless, the aberration would not have been so fatal and malignant as it was, and of so hydra-headed a vitality, if many sincere and earnest souls had not passionately followed it as truth from heaven. To these the old adversary came again as he had come to their Master, and as an angel of light urged the same temptations, and urged them with calamitous success. The kingdoms of the world and the glory of them were to be theirs; theirs, in trust, for their Lord till He should come, if only they would forget that their Master had said, 'My kingdom is not of this world.' They did forget it; turned their backs on the old, dark days of persecution, obscurity and shame, and toiled up with assured countenance to the heights of power and often more than kingly greatness, to find when they reached them that they had left all that was distinctive of their Christianity, of the shade and of the valley, of Olivet and of Calvary, hopelessly behind. On
this sad discovery not a few turned back; and, in the gloom of monasteries, in deserts and caves of the earth, self-persecuted, selftormented, sought again the Saviour they had lost. And who shall doubt that many found Him? But the fruitful mischiefs of their first error and their last, have shown themselves without failure or break of harvest from their day to ours, and are still far from being worked out after a lapse of nearly nineteen hundred years."
In this manner, therefore, were these stars cast down from heaven, and became, with the best intentions and really conscientious motives, the sources of evil to the Church. Their error was similar, no doubt, to that of St. Paul when he persecuted the Church; and we may readily believe that they obtained mercy because they did it ignorantly; but for all that, there must have been a point where they, more or less, consciously allowed themselves to be deceived.
A most instructive instance of the marvellous manner in which some of the noblest and finest minds are led astray is, I conceive, shown in the case of Cardinal Newman. Speaking of the Primitive Christians, he says: "These had no edifying rites, no various ceremonies, no rich music, no high cathedrals, no mystic vestments, no solemn altars, no stone or marble, or metals or jewels, or costly woods or fine linen, to signify outwardly and to honour duly the heavenly temple in which we stand and serve. The temple of these days was a spiritual temple, made up of living stones; a temple, as I may say, composed of souls; a temple with God for its light and Christ for the high priest; with wings of angels for its arches, with saints and teachers for its pillars, and with worshippers for its pavement. This temple, which has been on earth ever since Christ was preached, is invisible, and gains nothing in perfection by possessing visible tokens." All this is very beautiful and very true. O si sic omnia. But now follows, as I believe, the error and the mistake. "For though heaven and earth had hitherto been separate, God's gracious purpose was to make them one, and that by making earth like heaven. Lo! in omen of the future, even in His cradle the rich and wise of the earth seek Christ with gold and frankincense and myrrh as an offering. Pass a few generations, and the whole face of things is changed: the earth is covered with His temples as it has been for ages. Rivers and mines pay tribute of their richest jewels; forests are searched for their choicest woods; all that is rarest or most wonderful in nature and art has become consecrated to Him. The invisible temple has become visible. The kingdoms of the world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ. The temple has sanctified the gold; the glory of Lebanon has been given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon."
Is this indeed so? The kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ? If so, whence all the cruelties, the wrongs, the injustice unpunished and unrepented of
that we still see? Surely it is a mockery to speak of the earth as being now in any real sense the kingdom of Christ.
The man-child who was caught up to God and His throne cannot be any other than Christ, who, at His resurrection, was seated on the right hand of God. With His ascension into heaven, it is manifest that results of infinite magnitude and blessedness commence; one of the first of these results being that Satan was now cast down to the earth, and, in consequence thereof, Jesus Christ is now the Lord of earth and heaven, and rules in the midst among His enemies. On this, follow great rejoicings in heaven, because the accuser of the brethren is cast out, which "accuseth them before our God day and night." Whether this means, in accordance with a very old tradition, that Satan had been originally the angel to whom the kingship of this world was entrusted by God, and through whose rebellion the earth came into the chaotic state in which we see it in Gen. i. 2, it is impossible to say; but it does certainly seem to imply that the position of Satan is a very extraordinary one, and that until the resurrection of Christ he had great power. "I beheld Satan, as lightning, fall from heaven," are the words of our Lord; and, therefore, we must conclude that Satan has not now the same power for evil, at least in the heavenly place, that he once had. At the same time, the words, "Woe to the earth and to the sea," seem unquestionably to imply that now all the power of the enemy would be concentrated in the attack on the Christian Church, and that a time of great persecution and suffering must necessarily ensue.
"To the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might flee into the wilderness into a place prepared of God." The woman ought undoubtedly to have relied on the Divine protection and remained in the wilderness; i.e., she ought to have kept in the position of concealment, and even of humiliation, which had been assigned to her, but unhappily she did not; at least it is certain that the professing Church did not. It may possibly be that she did not trust sufficiently to the Divine protection; but it is not quite clear to me whether she is the same woman who is afterwards seated on the beast, or whether her place and appearance had been usurped by a stranger. The last seems the most probable supposition.
"The earth helped the woman." Here again we have a further development of the apostasy. The professing Christian Church received into its bosom the waters-the heathen world-and, by meeting heathenism half-way, prepared the way for the advent of the two-horned beast. True it is that for the moment the enemy is baffled, but it is equally true that, "as the village and town became nominally Christian, practical heathenism retired to work more silently into the system." The late Mr. Dunn considered that had it been otherwise, had the earth not helped the woman, and the latter been destroyed or devoured by the dragon, the Redeemer