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authority, but implies that heaven and the warriors, so far as the latter constitute the visible church, are the same, which is to confound the mere scene of the conflict with the agents. It implies, also, that the ejection of Satan and his angels from heaven, denotes an excommunication of all the priests whom they represent, from the visible church. But no such universal excommunication of priests from the Catholic church has taken place, or

As in that communion the power of excommunication is held exclusively by the priests themselves, it is not possible that by any process conformable with their canons, an excommunication should be pronounced on every individual of their order.

It is in contradiction also to the prophecy, to exhibit the period of the war as the same as the twelve hundred and sixty years of the woman's residence in seclusion, as the ejection of Satan and his angels from heaven is expressly represented as anterior to her flight into the desert.




And when the dragon saw that he was cast down to the earth, he followed after the woman who brought forth the male child. And two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, that she should fly into the desert, into her place, where she is nourished there a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

And the serpent cast from its mouth, after the woman, water as a river, that it might cause her to be carried away. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank the river which the dragon cast out of its mouth. And the dragon was angry with the woman and went on to make war with the rest of her seed, who keep the commandments of God, and hold the testimony of Jesus.

The dragon who followed the woman, symbolizes the pagan priests and their abettors, who had been defeated in their attempt to maintain their idol-worship, and fallen into the minority. Their following after her, denotes their attempt to join her society by a profession of Christianity.

The serpent that cast from its mouth water, was not the devil who fought with Michael, the symbol of the pagan party, but the monster dragon of seven heads, as is apparent from that act, which is appropriate to an inhabitant of water, but not to an angelic being. It represents the rulers of the Roman empire, therefore, from the elevation of Constantine to the fall of the western dvnasty, and thence, the eastern dynasty to its extinction by the Turks.

The gift to the woman of the wings of an eagle, denotes that aids were granted her in her flight, that were supernatural, and peculiarly suited to bear her above the dangers with which she was threatened by the intrusion of pagans into the church. As the wings were an addition to her body, and became a part of her nature, they denote not an exterior instrument, but a gift that formed a part of herself, and an intellectual and spiritual gift, therefore, knowledge, faith, wisdom, constancy, love, by which she was borne above the torrent of false doctrines, superstitious rites and idolatries, in which the dragon endeavored to ingulf her.

As it is appropriate to a monster dragon, which may be supposed, like behemoth, to draw up Jordan into its mouth, to represent it as ejecting water as a river to bear away the woman, so the means employed by the rulers of the Roman empire, symbolized by the dragon, to destroy the true people of God, must be supposed to be such as were appropriate to their peculiar character as usurpers of his rights, and patrons of superstition and idolatry. And they were doubtless the flood of false doctrines, and superstitious and impious rites, introduced by Constantine and his successors.

The earth which absorbed that flood, denotes the people generally of the empire, who eagerly embraced the religion thus adulterated to their taste, and by their conspicuous and exulting reception of it, occupied the attention of the rulers, and allowed the small body of dissentients to escape from their sight.

Her retreat into her place from the face of the serpent, denotes that the scene of her residence was unknown to the rulers. The anger of the serpent indicates their continued disposition to destroy her, if in their power; while its going on to make war with such of her seed as had not retreated to the desert, denotes that they continued, after her disappearance, to persecute the isolated individuals that from time to time dissented from the corrupt church, and professed the pure faith.

The time, times, and half a time, the period of the woman's


residence in the desert, denotes twelve hundred and sixty years, a time being a year or three hundred and sixty days, times years or seven hundred and twenty days, and half a time one hundred and eighty, which united are twelve hundred and sixty,

These symbols then indicate, that on the usurpation by Constantine and his successors of authority over the church, the pure worshippers began to dissent, withdraw from the public assemblies, and worship apart; that on the nationalization of the church, a crowd of pagans soon entered it; that a vast torrent of corrupt doctrines and rites, was introduced into its faith and worship by the emperors and their subordinates, that threatened to bear away the true people of God, from the impulse of which they were signally protected ; that a body of them retired from the observation of the rulers, into a place where they were sustained through a long period ; and that the rulers continued to wreak their malice on the individuals, who rose from time to time in the empire, and dissented from the popular faith.

These symbolizations had a signal fulfilment in the dissentients from the nationalized church, and the conduct of the rulers towards them, from Constantine through a long succession of ages.

I. On the nationalization of the church by that emperor, a vast body of pagans entered it, and verified the prediction that after being cast to the earth they should follow the woman.

Eusebius asserts, “That two great evils distinguished the reign of Constantine, the violence of profligate and insatiable men, who harassed every condition of life ; and the indescribable hypocrisy of those who entered the church, and deceitfully assumed the Christian name.” And he represents their promiscuous assumption of the new religion, as occasioned in a large degree, by the emperor's treating the mere profession as a satisfactory proof of a genuine conversion.'

It was natural that crowds of the worldly should be drawn to the church, when Christianity became the religion of the court, and a profession of it a passport to office and honor. As he employed it, as he openly avowed, as a means of strengthening the state, and for that reason required all denominations to conform to the establishment, he was naturally inclined to encourage the profession, although no indications appeared of a sincere conviction of its truth. He offered it as a reason in his letter to Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, and to Arius, of his urging them to lay aside their differ and return to peace, that the two great objects at which he aimed in his administration were,

· Eusebii de Vita Const. lib. iv. c. 54.


first, to unite all nations in the profession of the same religion ; and next, to relieve the empire from the evils with which it was oppressed as with a disease; that the first he endeavored to accomplish by persuasion, the other by arms; knowing that if he could produce a unanimity of all the worshippers of God according to his wishes, the administration of the government would then generate changes conformable to their harmonious and pious designs ;' and he asserted that the barbarous nations, who had been turned from idols to the faith by his instrumentality, “paid their worship to God through fear of him."

II. Constantine and his successors introduced a flood of false doctrines, superstitions, and idolatrics, into the church, which were incompatible with a pure worship, and swept all who yielded to their impulse, to the gulf of apostasy. Such were the veneration of the cross, and ascription to it of miraculous powers, the homage of relics, the invocation of saints, the conversion of religion into gorgeous ceremonies, the encouragement of celibacy, and the arrogation of the throne and prerogatives of God by civil and ecclesiastical rulers. These falsehoods, follies, and impieties, introduced or adopted by the emperors, encouraged by their example, sanctioned by their laws, and enforced by the penalties of excommunication, imprisonment, the forfeiture of civil rights, banishment, and death, came armed with an overpowering force to all who were not fortified against them by the special aids of the divine Spirit, and like a resistless torrent, bore away the great mass of the church.

III. There were in the latter part of the fourth century, and in the ages that followed, many who disapproved of the interference of the civil rulers with the church, and rejected the errors, superstitions, and idolatries, with which they debased its doctrines and worship

Even Hosius of Corduba, who had not only approved of the arrogation of authority over the church by Constantine, and counselled him, it is represented, in all the great measures of his administration over it,-in giving it a civil establishment, in summoning the synod of Nicæa, in enforcing its decrees, in the deposition and banishment of the Arian bishops,-and who still regarded the emperor as having the right to assemble councils, and as bound to execute the canons of the orthodox; yet when that power was turned by Constantius against him and his fellow-bishops, who held the faith of Nicæa, and in favor of the

· Eusebii de Vita Const. lib. ij. c. 65.
Sozomeni Hist. Eccl. lib. ii. c. 28.


unprincipled and plotting Arians, remonstrated against it as a most unjustifiable usurpation, and dangerous encroachment on the prerogatives of the hierarchy. When solicited to subscribe the sentence denounced against Athanasius by the synod of Milan, and threatened like all who should refuse to unite in his condemnation with disgrace, chains, exile, and confiscation of goods, he wrote to Constantius : “I became a confessor first in the persecution by your grandfather Maximian, and if you persecute me, am now ready to endure any thing, rather than shed innocent blood, and betray the truth. I do not approve of your writing and threatening such things. Refrain from it. Do not cherish the doctrines of Arius. Do not listen to the eastern bishops, nor trust the partisans of Ursacins and Valens; for what they say they utter not so much out of disapprobation of Athanasius, as to advance their own party.” Why do you still lislen to those detractors, Valens and Ursacius, who have confessed, by penance and in writing, that they were guilty of a calumny?" "But if they complain of violence, and acknowledge it to be unjustifiable, and it is disapproved by you, then refrain from compulsion, and neither write, nor send officers, but release those who are exiled, that that party may not, while you are complaining of violence, commit still greater outrages. For what of that kind was done by Constans? What bishop was exiled ? Who interfered with ecclesiastical decisions ? What courtier of his compelled subscription to an accusation of any one, that the adherents of Valens should talk thus? Refrain then, I beseech you, and remember that you are a mortal ; fear the day of judgment; keep yourself pure in order to it. Do not intrude yourself into ecclesiastical affairs, nor counsel us in regard to them ; but rather learn them from us. God has intrusted to you the empire. He has committed the affairs of the church to us; and as he who usurps your government contravenes the ordinance of God, so beware lest you become obnoxious to a heavier accusation by grasping a jurisdiction over the church."

But his remonstrances were unsuccessful. Though dismissed on that occasion, he was soon recalled from Spain, held in exile a year, and at length at the council of Sirmium in 357, when near his hundredth year, scourged until overcome, he reluctantly assented to the Arian creed.?

Similar sentiments were uttered on the same occasion by Eusebius, bishop of Vercelli, who denounced the emperor to his face as a false Christian, and the bishops of his party as Anti

* Labbei Concil. tom. iii. pp. 243–246. ? Labbei Concil. tom. üï. p. 255.


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