« PreviousContinue »
« And the seventh angel sounded; and there “ were great voices in heaven, saying, The king“ doms of this world are become the kingdoms of * our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign " for ever and ever. And the four ànd twenty < elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell “ upon their faces, and worshipped God; saying, “ We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, c which art, and wast; and art to come; because is thou hast taken to thee thy great power;
and is hast reigned. And the nations were angry, and “ thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that
they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and to them that fear thy name, “ small and great ; and shouldest destroy them
which destroy the earth. And the temple of “ God was opened in heaven, and there was seen " in his temple the ark of his testament: and there
were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, “ and an earthquake, and great hail." dedit
The prophet, reservinga more full account of the several important events which were to take place under this woe for the pouring out of the seven last plagues and the chapters subordinately connected with them, gives us here a general preliminary statement of them. For the consolation of the afflicted Church he inverts the order of their accomplishment, placing the triumphant establishment of the kingdom of Christ, before God's assumption to himself of his great power; before the time of
his wrath; before his destruction of those that destroyed the earth; before the day of the anger of the nations; before the last earthquake, which was to divide the great city into three parts and to overthrow the cities of the nations; and before great Babylon came in remembrance before God. Anticipating the final triumph of Christianity and the commencement of the Millennium, he eagerly looks forward to that blessed period when the kingdoms of this world should become the kingdoms of our Lord; and afterwards, as it were reluctantly, touches upon the calamities which yet remained to be fulfilled under the seven vials. The propriety of this interpretation of the passage will be evident, if we consider that the seventh trumpet was to introduce the third great woe which surely cannot be the conversion of the world to Christ, and if we reflect that all the seven vials of the last plagues yet remain to be poured out ere the triumphant reign of the Messiah commences *. Thus it appears,
that the eleventh chapter of the Apocalypse, or the first of the little book, extends through the whole period of the 1260 years. The three remaining chapters of the little book do the same: for all the four, in point of chronology, run parallel to each other; and jointly give us a complete history of the western Apostasy, and of all who are concerned with it whether actively or passively.
* See Mede's Works, B. 5. Summary View of the Apoc. p. 920—Bp. Newton's Dissert. on Rev. xi, in loc.-Sir Isaqo Newton's Observ. on the Apoc. Chap. ii. p. 254.
Concerning the war of the dragon with the woman.
The main-spring of the Apostasy is the great red dragon, or, as the Apostle himself informis us, the devil. It was this grand deceiver of the whole world, that actuated the two-horned beast, and that employed at his instigation the ten-horned beast, to trample under foot the Gospel of Christ. Hence St. John thinks it necessary to dedicate one whole chapter of the little book to the full elucidation of his wiles.
“ And there appeared a great wonder in hea" ven; a woman clothed with the Sun, and the 6. Moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown “ of twelve stars. And she being with child cried, “ travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. “ And there appeared another wonder in heaven; - and behold a great red dragon, 'having seven 66 heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon
his “ heads. And his tail drew the third part of the “ stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth : “ and the dragon stood before the woman which “ was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child « as soon as it was born. And she brought forth
a man-child, who was to rule all nations with “ a rod of iron: and her child was caught up “ unto God, and to his throne. And the woman K 3
“ fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place. "prepared of God, that they should feed her 6 there a thousand two hundred and threescore
The excellent Bp. Newton appears to me to have failed in no part of his commentary upon the Apocalyse so much as in that on the present chapter. Although he had before very justly · stated, that the little book described the calamities of the western church, and as such was with good reason made a separate and distinct prophecy : and although the little book itself repeatedly declares, that it relates to the history of the great Apostasy of 1260. years, which seems to have commenced in the year 606: yet he now supposes, in direct contradiction to his former statement, that the chief part, or I may rather say the whole, of this allowed chapter of the little book is occupied by matters entirely anterior, and therefore altogether foreign, to the history of the great Apostasy. In short, he makes the present chapter chronologically precede. both the last and the following chapter, which he rightly esteems synchronical. Thus, he conjectures, that the red dragon, which persecutes the symbolical woman or the Church, is pagan Ronie; and that he is styled the red dragon, because “ purple or scarlet was the distinguishing " colour of the Roman emperors, consuls, and
generals :" that the man-child is primarily the mystic Christ, for whom the Roman dragon laid snares to destroy him in his infancy, as Pharaoh,
did of old for the male children of the Hebrews; but that Constantine however, the first Christian emperor,
“ was here more particularly intended, « for whose life the dragon Galerius laid many “ snares, though he providentially escaped them “ all; and, notwithstanding all opposition, was “ caught up unto the throne of God, was not
only secured by the divine protection, but was « advanced to the imperial throne; called the “ throne of God; for there is no power but of “God; the powers, that be, are ordained of God.” Agreeably to this system, his Lordship thinks that the war between Michael and the dragon, mentioned in the succeeding verses, is the struggle between Christianity and Paganism ; and that the fall of the dragon from heaven is the final overthrow of idolatry. In a similar manner, the wrath of the dragon after he is cast down to the earth is the attempt to restore paganism in the reign of Julian, and the discord excited in the Church by the followers of Arius : and the flood, which he vomited forth from his mouth, signifies the irruption of the northern barbariuns, whom Stilicho, prime minister of the Emperor Honorius, invited into the Roman empire, The Bishop however, being perfectly aware that the woman's recess into the wilderness during the space of 1260 days, stood in direct opposition to his scheme, maintains, that this is said merely by way of prolepsis, or anticipation; and that she did not flee into the wilderness at this time, but several years after,