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woman previous to her parturition. The question then is, When did the Christian community acquire so complete an establishment as to answer to the allegory of the man-child being completely born? Since the scene lies within the Roman empire, it may be answered, When Christianity was finally established and when Paganism was authoritatively overthrown. This was not the age of Constantine: for, although the child may be considered as then beginning to be born, Paganism still maintained a divided sway with Christianity; and shortly after the death of Constantine was re-established by Julian. But in the age of Theodosius, at the close of the fourth century, the senate publicly decreed the abolition of Paganism; and, although some traces of it remained, even until the sixth century, in the remoter provinces, it then received its death blow, and the paramount establishment of Christianity took place.
Scarcely was the child born, when the dragon attempted to devour him, first by setting on foot a very general apostasy from the truth, and afterwards by causing that apostasy to be openly established. Some time previous to the public developement of the apostasy at the commencement of the 1260 years, an individual apostasy had been gradually introduced into the Roman empire. This at length became so extensive, that the dragon is represented as casting down from heaven the third part of the stars. When matters were thus prepared, he openly attacked the woman
and her offspring. The 'saints were (lelivered into the hand of the little horn, and the man of sin was revealed. But the malice of the dragon was unable wholly to eradicate genuine Christianity. A chosen seed was wonderfully preserved through all the darkness and persecutions of the 1260 years. The mystic child was snatched away from the devouring jaws of the dragon, was caught up to the throne of God, and was placed under the superintending protection of the Almighty ; while the woman, the true church, fled into the wilderness *
These transactions must be considered as forming a brief preface to the main subject of the vision, which, like the other visions of the little book, relates to the persecution of the true Church by the papal Roman empire under the influence of the devil, during the allotted period of three times and a half or 1260 days.
56 And there was war in heaven: Michael and “ his angels fought against the dragon: and the cs
dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed
not; neither was their place found any more in « heaven. And the great dragon was cast ont, that " old serpent, called the devil, and Satan, which « deceiveth the whole world : he was cast out “ into the earth, and his angels were cast out « with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in « heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, u and the kingdom of our God, and the power of « his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is « cast down, which accused them before our God “ day and night. And they overcame him by the « blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their “ testimony; and they loved not their lives unto « death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye 6 that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of “ the earth and the sea ! for the devil is come “ down unto you, having great wrath, because
* For this interpretation of the birth of the man-child, with the exception of a few alterations and additions, I am indebted to à correspondent with whom I have not the pleasure of being personally acquainted, Dr. Okely, of Lower Wike, near Halifax in Yorkshire.
he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
“ And, when the dragon saw that he was cast a unto the earth, he (still) persecuted the woman “ which brought forth the man-child. (Now to « the woman were given two wings of a great e eagle *, that she might fly into the wilderness, “ into her place, where she is nourished for a " time, and times, and half a time, from the face
* This idea is inanifestly taken from that of Exodus, wherein the sojourn of the Israelites in the wilderness, from the face of the Egyptians, is described precisely in the same manner as the Sojourn of the woman in the spiritual wilderness, from the face of the serpent.
“ Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians; " and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto “ myself” (Exod. xix. 4.). Bp. Newton, agreeably to the plan of interpretation upon which he set out, and which I cannot but think wrong, seems to imagine, that, the eagle being the Roman ensign, the two wings may allude to the Eastern and Western empires.
“ of the serpent.) And the serpent cast out of his « mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he
might cause her to be carried away of the flood. " And the earth helped the woman; and the earth
opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood “ which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And “ the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went o to make war with the remnant of her seed, which
keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
Throughout the whole of the present prophecy, we cannot too attentively keep in mind, that the dragon is neither the Roman empire nor the Pope, although the instigator of them both, but simply the devil: for this clear discrimination of character, which the Apostle anxiously as it were insists upon, will alone lead us to a right understanding of what is meant by his fall from heaven to earth. So long as Satan found an apostate Church a convenient engine for persecuting the faithful followers of Christ, just so long he continued in it: but, when the age of superstition and ecclesiastical tyranny was past; when the papal thunders were. no longer regarded; and when he found, that the two witnesses ascended up into heaven, not only in Germany, but in Britain, Sweden, and Denmark, in despite of all his attempts to prevent them: then it became time for him to quit his ancient station, and to seek some more convenient battery against the symbolical woman.
Driven from heaven or the Church, and finding that he could no longer execute his gigantic plans of mischief through the instrumentality of the Papacy, he next took his stand upon the earth, and again renewed his attacks upon the woman and her mystic offspring with more virulence than ever. Not but that he still retained his influence over the apostatical heaven, and over many of those stars whom hix long fostered superstition had cast down to the ground: but the Roman church was henceforth only an inferior consideration with him : like a worn out instrument, its blows were not now attended with their former effects: a new station must be assumed, whence in an age of literatura and refinement the woman and the remnant of her seed might be assailed with a greater probability of victory. This station, we learn from the prophet, was the earth, or the secular Roman - empire. Satan, no longer arrayed like an angel of light, like a minister of the Church of Christ, now assumed the garb of humanity, liberality, candour, and philosophy: and prepared to vomit forth from the dark dens of atheism and infidelity that flood, with which he hoped to carry away his enemy.
Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo. From this general statement, I shall descend to particulars. The war between Michael and the dragon does not, I apprehend, relate exclusively to the war between the witnesses and the beast, mentioned in the preceding chapter, although it doubtless comprehends it as a part of one great whole. The difference between them is sufficiently