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and protection for more than two hundred years before and after Christ, and the event proved the destruction of their nation and place. The Christians, too, had tried the friendship of the same power, under Constantine and succeeding emperors, for little more than two hundred years, beginning A. D. 313, and ending in A. D. 538, as we shall show; which so corrupted the Romish church that she became the anti-Christian abomination, and the true children of God were driven into the wilderness out from her connection with the anti-Christian church, “the city of the nations,” as she is called. But God took care “that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days,” which is 1260 years, from A. D. 538 until 1798, during which time a free toleration of religious rights were not permitted in any of the kingdoms which formerly composed the Roman empire; but God raised up teachers among them, who retained in a good degree the doctrine and purity of the word of God, and practised the ordinances as they were delivered to the saints in the apostles' days: yet but little is known of them for six or seven hundred years.
Verse 7, “And there was war in heaven.” After the prophet John had given us a history of the church, as in the preceding verses, he now goes back to bring up the history of the dragon, the Roman kingdom, and begins his history in the days of Christ and his apostles. “Michael and his angels fought”—Christ and his apostles. See Matt. x. 34, “Think not I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword ” — “against the dragon,” against principalities and powers, and- wickedness in high places. – “And the dragon fought, and his angels,” imperial Rome and worldly men.
Verse 8, “And prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven.” Rome could not prevail against the kingdom of Christ or the gospel; for it differed materially from the Jewish mode of worship; and although Rome in her Pagan state could find easy access into the Jewish sanctuary, because of the similarity of their worship, yet when Christ set up his gospel kingdom they were excluded, for none could enter this kingdom without regeneration, faith, and repentance.
Verse 9, “And the great dragon was cast out.”—Rome Pagan was deprived from having any authority in the gospel kingdom, as Christ says in John xii. 31, “Now shall the prince of this world be cast out”—“that old serpent,”—Rome Pagan is compared to the old serpent because he works deceitfully and deceives the church, (woman,) as the serpent did Eve, the woman in the garden, – “called the devil,” because they devour and persecute with a devilish spirit, — “and Satan,” because satan-like he claims power over all kingdoms of the world — “which deceiveth the whole world.” — This may be said of Rome, for she conquered more nations by deceit and flattery than by fair warfare. — “He was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” This was literally fulfilled when Christ cut off the Jews and all unbelievers ; when he said, “My kingdom is not of this world; ” when he excluded the kingdoms of this earth from participating in the spiritual kingdom which they claimed on account of their authority among men. Verse 10, “And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven,”—many voices in the church under the gospel dispensation, — “Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ.”— This represents the grand chorus of all the saints, when they discover the true principle on which the kingdom of God is built. This was literally true at the day of Pentecost. — “For the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God night and day.” The Romans had, by drawing the Jews into idolatry, caused them to sin against God in all their evening and morning sacrifices. And by these means, they were accused before God, that is, God was angry with them, and destroyed our brethren, the Jews, Verse 11, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb,” — by the blood of atonement, all believers in Christ do finally overcome the powers of darkness and princes of this world,—“ and by the word of their testimony,”—preaching and testimony of the apostles. – “And they loved not their lives unto the death”— suffered martyrdom. This was fulfilled in the death of the apostles and others. Verse 12, “Therefore rejoice ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them.” It was a matter of great joy among the primitive Christians, to be counted worthy to suffer persecution for Christ's sake. “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth,” — those who live under the Roman government-“ and of the sea,” — meaning the principal kingdom among the ten kingdoms. France is generally meant by sea in this prophecy. “For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” The devil means destroyer, and the three woes, and seven last plagues, were all to be sent upon the earth and sea, which denote wars, revolutions, and changing of governments. These things would prevail in the close of this Roman kingdom, and war would be the closing up of the earthly scene of this fourth kingdom which Daniel saw and John has been describing under the figure of the “great red dragon.” Verse 13, “And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth,” — when the Roman government saw they could have no control in the things of Christ's kingdom, they hated the church and the doctrine that taught that Christ's kingdom was not of this world, and they “persecuted the woman that brought forth the man child,” which is the church that had a Savior born unto her, Christ Jesus, the Lord of life and glory. Verse 14, “And to the woman was given two wings of a great eagle,”—by which wings I understand the means God used between the Arian and Papal controversy, at the time of the division of the Greek or eastern church from the west or Roman church, which happened in the reign of Justinian, emperor of the east, about A. D. 538, when the controversy arose concerning the worshipping of departed saints, images, and the infallibility of the church at Rome. In this controversy, many privately withdrew themselves, and settled in the northwest part of Asia and in the north-east part of Europe, and after a number of years colonies were sent by them into Piedmont and valleys of the Alps, where it is supposed the true worship of God was retained during the dark ages of Papal ignorance, bigotry, and superstition. (See Milner's Church History, and Benedict's History of the Baptists.)—“that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place,” — a separation from the world, as says the voice from heaven, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues,” Rev. xviii. 4.—“where she is nourished for a time, times, and half a time,” — fed and nourished by the spirit and word of God 1260 years. “from the face of the serpent”—from the knowledge of Papal Rome. . . Verse 15, “And the serpent cast out of his mouth waters as a flood after the woman,” — waters, in prophecy, means people, Rev. xvii. 15. Therefore I understand this prophecy to have been fulfilled when the Pope, the head of Papal Rome, sent forth his armies and inquisition to subdue the heretics, as he called them, who dwelt in the valleys of the Alps, which was about the beginning of the thirteenth century, - “that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood”— exterminated and destroyed by his armies and inquisition. Verse 16, “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.” This verse was fulfilled in the wars which followed the abovementioned time of persecution, in which the German princes helped their subjects against the armies of the Pope, and destroyed and swallowed up many of the Papal armies, from the thirteenth to the fifteenth century. Or, as some authors have supposed, the waters which the dragon cast out of his mouth was the flood of errors which arose about the time of the French revolution, under the name of Deism, which was calculated to destroy the doctrine of the gospel, as they vainly supposed, backed up by the republican armies of France, and afterwards by the power of Bonaparte, who was finally subdued by the combinations of the kings of the earth. But, as this transaction seems to me to be too
£ate to affect the woman in her exiled state, I have insclined, in my humble opinion, to my first exposition of these texts. Verse 17, “And the dragon was wroth with the wo— man,” — Papal Rome was angry with the true church, – “and went to make war with the remnant of her seed.” This war has not yet come ; for it is evident by the expression “remnant of her seed,” that it means the last of the church “who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” This is the last struggle of this anti-Christian beast, and is described in many places as the last great battle, or the supper of the great God. Such expressions as “and went,” as though this power would go to some place out of their own territory, and “the kings of the east might be prepared,” show that they will go west. I am, therefore, constrained to believe that this battle of the dragon's last power will be in America; and if so, it must be mainly in these United States. It will be a battle on political principles, as we may learn by the passage in Rev. xvi. 13–16, “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet;”—the “uncleanspirits” shows that it is political principles; and, like the frogs in Egypt, it will perwade all the departments of life —the social, civil, and religious. By “dragon,” we must understand the kings of the earth; by the “beast,” Papal principles, or the church of Rome; by the “false prophet,” Mahometan power;—“for they are the spirit of devils, working miracles,”—that is, spirit of deceit, separating friends, dividing kingdoms, states, societies, churches, and families, and crumbling every man-made institution, and levelling to the dust all law, order, and bond of union, which the wisdom of man may have invented, -“which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world.” This shows the universal spread of this fanatical spirit of disorganization, and it will finally lead to “gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” “Behold, I am come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked