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it then, that it should be placed at the head of the events given in this general division of the Revelation. But the figure in our text includes also the new and spiritual birth of all the seed of Christ, as the children and succession of the church. They are "born again;” and noted as born of the church. Paul speaks of Jerusalem (the church) as being “the mother of us all.' Isaiah speaks of Zion (the church) as travailing, and her children being born. Paul says, “My little children, for whom I travail in birth again, till Christ be formed in you.' See also Isa. xxvi. 17, 19, among the parent texts of this rich figure. The Psalmist says, “Of Zion it shall be said, this man was born in her.' "The Lord shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there." The new birth of the children of Christ rests on the literal birth of the Saviour. Both then may be included in the figure in the text.—Both are out of the course of nature; both are by special promise. The birth of Isaac (given by special divine promise) was a type both of the birth of Christ, and of the new birth of the seed of Christ, the seed of the church, as might be shown from express divine testimony, and as the church well know. All were by promise, and by special divine intervention. The literal birth of Christ was an earnest of the new birth of his chosen. Christ was the true spiritual seed of Abraham: and in him believers are "the seed of Abraham, and heirs according to the promise.” Most fitly then, does the birth in our text exhibit both of these events. As Christ was to rule all nations with his rod of iron, so he engages that his spiritual seed shall do the same, Rev. ii. 26, 27; "He that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessel of a potter shall they be broken to shivers; even as I received of my Father:" alluding to Ps. ii. 8, 9, where the Father officially gives this same power to Christ. Christ here puts the honor of it on his people, and thus unites them to him as they are found united in the text. Jesus Christ was, while an infant, in a mystical sense caught up to the throne of God, in his infallible protection from the rage
of Satan in Herod. The same clause of the text had a literal fulfilment in Christ when he ascended to heaven, and literally took the throne of the universe. And the spiritual seed of the church are also mystically caught up to the throne of God in the infallible protection which God affords them in his covenant and providence.
Some have expressed an opinion that the man-child in the text alluded to Constantine, who was the instrument of the revolution in the Roman empire from paganism to Christianity, in the fourth century. But this is to degrade the sacred passage. It may be a fact however, that the passage may have received a kind of illustration in the case of Constantine; as it did also in Martin Luther, and many other men-children of the church, or eminent instruments of good to her. Such were men-children of the church indeed! and they were remarkably protected against the shafts of the enemy, as though caught up to the throne of God. And it was a fact, that after the revolution in the empire, the church was protected by its strong arm from further persecution from paganism. A son of the church sat on the throne of the empire; and persecuting pagans were put down. But this clause of the text has a meaning infinitely more noble, in that Christ is on the throne of heaven; and his church in her succession is under Almighty protection in every age.
Ver. 6. And the woman fed into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
The devil, finding himself confounded in the subversion of his beloved paganism, and the establishment of Christianity in the empire, began ere-long to exhibit his deep management in getting up another power most hostile to the kingdom of Christ;—another persecuting power, but under the Christian name. The Man of Sin arose, “whose coming was after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders; and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish.” The true church was then, at the rise of the papal beast, driven to her wilderness state of 1260 years. This is the same depression, and for the same period, with that of the two witnesses prophesying in sackcloth, in the first division of the Revelation, chap. xi. 3. The ancient church in Israel was made to sojourn in the wilderness of Arabia a painful season, before they could enter Canaan, that type of good things to come. This seems to have been a kind of prelude to the wilderness state of the church in our text, and to that in verse 14, which precedes her millennial glory. But, in this her depressed state, God would not fail nor forsake her. Even in this state of exile, she should not
fail of being upheld and protected. The history of the true followers of Christ through the dark ages, and under the insults and persecutions of the papal see, gives the exact description of this wilderness state of the church. And her supports in that depressed state give the true sense of the clause, “that they should feed her there!”
History furnishes the fact, that the line of the true followers of Christ was indeed preserved, for a great course of centuries, in a kind of literal wilderness, in the valleys of Piedmont and Dauphiny, where the churches of the Albigenses and Waldenses were, for a very long time, the keepers of the pure doctrines of grace. Here was a kind of literal fulfilment of the text, united with a mystical fulfilment of it in the depressions of the true followers of the Lamb during much of the long period noted. This view may facilitate the exposition of the next flight of the wo
in verse 14, where she is borne on eagles' wings to another wilderness.
Ver. 7. And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought, and bis angels,
8. And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9. And the great dragon was cast out, 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.
We have here the war between Satan and his legions on the one hand; and Jesus Christ and his followers on the other. The seat of this war is represented as high in the visible region of the air. This position is a fit emblem of the professed church of Christ on earth. It here denotes that this war of the devil was carried on against Christ in a church, and by a people that bore his name, and were utterly hostile to him. This was the case indeed in the papal church. This church carried on a continual war against Christ in his two witnesses, who in the text are noted as the angels of Michael, a name of Christ, importing one like God, and meaning God in humanity. These true followers of Christ, the corrupt antichristian church of Rome persecuted as heretics, and put to most cruel deaths very many thousands of them. For many ages this
battle progressed with great fury on the part of the dragon in the papal church. He caused this mother of harlots and abominations of the earth to be drunken with the blood of the saints, and (with her two horns of a lamb) to speak like a dragon; Satan caused this impious Man of Sin to "exalt himself above all that is called God, or is worshipped. So that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God!”-claiming to be “his holiness," perfect, and infallible! Well may such a war be represented as carried on in a region high in the visible heavens. This war was long and terrible through the dark ages.
But the time of the devil's defeat arrived; the time for the commencement of that series of divine judgments which should issue in the total destruction of the papal delusion. The dragon should no longer be found reigning undisturbedly over the kings of the earth, in that hateful papal system. He should no longer hold his position as among the stars of heaven. This falling of the dragon from heaven took place in the Reformation, in the sixteenth century, by the instrumentality of Martin Luther, and his associate reformers. The papal system was then stripped of its gaudy hypocritical attire, and was exhibited to the world as a corrupt, blasphemous, and most abominable system of the wicked
This was a fall of Satan indeed. And it was most fitly prefigured by the falling headlony of a great red dragon, and of his hosts of minor dragons, from an exalted height in the visible heaven to the earth! This infernal enemy of the people of God is here called “the old serpent,” in allusion to the serpent which the devil entered in paradise to deceive the mother of the human race. He is called the devil, to tell precisely who he is, and that he is the accuser. He is called “ Satan,” as being an enemy. And it is added, “who deceiveth the whole world,” to warn man of his fatal influence to delude and to ruin. This fatal influence of delusion he has been permitted of God to exercise in all ages hitherto, to the eternal ruin of by far the greater part of the human family, deceiving the whole world. Most potent spirit of delusion! having multiform wiles, suited to all meridians, ages, climes, and circumstances of men! “Fly from this fell deceiver's snares: O sons of Adam, fly!”
Ver. 10. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, 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.
11. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
12. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Wo to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea ! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
The spirits of the just made perfect in glory, and the saints on earth, on this occasion, gave glory to God in the highest. Their souls unitedly leaped for joy, that the papal masterpiece of the devil's imposition was at length detected in its filthy abomi tions !--and that, as fa the Reformation prevailed, it had fallen into its merited contempt! The devil had here, by his first-born son, the pope, and by all the clan of his subordinate papal authorities, accused the true followers of Christ,-accused them day and night before God, of being guilty of great impiety in their rejection of the blasphemies and mummeries of popery
The two witnesses were indeed thus accused continually, and for ages. But the Protestants had here obtained a glorious victory over them, and over Satan, by their reliance on Jesus Christ; and their prayers, and bold persevering testimonies borne for Christ, even at the peril of their lives. In this they had prevailed. Such prayers and testimonies shall never be in vain. If the answer to their prayers tarry long; wait for it: for at the end it shall speak, and will not lie! All the holy family, in heaven and earth, were called upon to rejoice on the occasion;a very different improvement from what was made in the courts of Satan and the papal court. A wo is now heard, denounced against “the inhabiters of the earth, and of
because of the rage of the wicked one. This address is made to the unbelieving & mass of mankind, whether in continents or isles. For the rage of Satan, and his new inventions of mischief, would be in proportion to the greatness of his defeat; and to his perceptions of the shortness of his remaining time to do mischief on earth. He would, thenceforth, redouble his furious exertions. And this was found to be in fact the case, as the abomina