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(and such she was in the patriarchal and prophetic times, compared with the idolatrous nations surrounding her,) she is not completė, until she can produce that seed, promised to the woman from the earliest times, which was ordained “ to bruise the serpent's "head.” She is now represented as labouring with this momentous birth. And such was the situation of the Church from the time of Adam, the first man, (to whom the seed was promised,) to that of Christ, the second man,“ the promised seed, " the Lord from “ heaven.", The Scriptural writers express, under the same images, the earnest and unsatisfied desire of the ancient Church to possess the promised seed*.
Ver. 3. Another sign in Heaven.] As the Church of God had been represented by symbols in the two last verses ; so are now her enemies. And first that ancient enemy who assailed her, in the days of our first parents, under the form of a serpent t. For this dragon is expressly asserted to be the same," the “ ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan I." He appears in great worldly power, such as is attributed to him in other parts of Scripture, where he is
+ Gen. iii. The devil, Arabonos being bis name in Greek, Satan in Hebrew. See below, ver. 9. and ch. xxii. 2. This was seen clearly by the most ancient commentators, ο δρακων ο μεγας, κ. τ. λ. ο διαβολος έξι. The same infernal agent seems also to have been specified by Melito Bishop of Sardis one of the seven churches; who, in his work upon the Apocalypse, treated in particular concerning this opposer of the Church. For the title of the book (which is the only part of it now extant) was, wigi Tð Airborg xai tās amoxaduf ea's 'Iwans. Euseb. Hist. Eccl. lib. iv. c. 26. Moreover, in a passage of Theophilus, bishop of Antioch in 168, which is quoted by Lardner as alluding to this passage of the Apocalypse, the Devil is called “Satan, and the Serpent; and the " Dragon." (Cred. Gosp. art. Theophilus.)
* Mich. v. 2, 3. Rom. viii, 22.
called "the Prince of this world, the God of the “world, the Prince of the power of the Air *.” This power is here expressed by (1.) his size, which is great: (2.) his colour, which is fiery + : (3.) lis heads, which are seven ; a large, complete, indefinite number I: and these heads are so many mountains, or lofty seats of strength ý: for, as in ch. v, the seven horns and seven eyes of the Lamb denote his infinite extent of power and of knowledge; so, the seven heads, or mountains, of the dragon express an immense command of worldly power; such as he offered to our invincible Lord il : (4.) his ten horns : for, horns are ever emblematical of strength : and ten, as well as seven, is a large indefinite number, becoming so by a different mode of calculation **
But the use of the number ten in this place, seems to have a fure ther reference, even to those passages of the Apoca. lypse, and of the prophet Daniel, wherein are to be seen just so many kings or kingdoms, inimical to the Church of Christ, and promoting the interests of the adversary. The dragon is to have great sway among the kings of the earth, whom he beguiles by the offer of that worldly power, which was rejected by the Son of God. This interpretation is further confirmed by observing, (5.) that his heads are' crowned with diadems like those of eastern potentates tt. And, lastly,
* John xii. 31. 2 Cor. iv. 4. Eph. ii. 2.
See note, ch. i. 4.
# Matt. iv. 9. 9 See vote, ch. v. 6. ** See note, ch. ii. 4.
+ The diadem was the crown, or mark of kingly power, adorning ibe eastern monarchs. It was commonly a broad fillet, or turban, richly set with jewels. The radiated crown was not worn by the Greek monarchs till about the second century. (Pinkerton on Medals, vol. i. p. 173.)
bis tail, his ignoble and brutish part", drags after him, as with a net t, a third part of the stars of heaven. This may denote the original apostacy of those . angels, who, corrupted by their rebellious leader, kept not their first estate $;” or, it may sig. nify the artful machinations, by which he made the ministers of Religion subservient to his designs Ø ; or, it
may be understood to express both these apostacies; for the arch-fiend has succeeded in accomplishing such rebellions both in heaven and on earth.
Ver. 4. & 5.] Thus arrayed in formidable power, the infernal spirit is prepared for the occasion, “ seek"ing to devour" that offspring who is ordained to “ bruise his head;" but “whose heel,” whose less vital part, he is permitted for a time to attack successfully ll. Such success does not satisfy his destructive rage; he aims at the total overthrow, the utter extinction of the seed, by whom the race of men is to be saved from his envenomed jaws.-For, the malechild now born is evidently our Lord Jesus Christ; who is not only, the only-begotten Son of God, but the first-born of the Church, which is called after his namel; for which right of inheritance it was necessary that he should be a male. To him alone belongs the description, " the great Shepherd of Iss “ rael, who is to rule all the pations with an iron " rod **" This is the Divine Shepherd's crook, dreadful to the enemies of the fold, and to the disobedient of the flock ; but a sure protection to the sheep, “who obey his voice*.” From the whole tenour of Scripture, and from internal evidence taken from the prophecy t, this character and description is that of our Lord, and can belong to none but him. He is now represented to be in imminent danger from the jaws of the dragon ; who, having to contend only, with a helpless woman, and her new-born infant, seems assured of success. And thus did it appear to “ the rulers of the darkness of this world,” when they seized and crucified the Lord of Life. But then, as here represented, he “ was caught up to God and to his throne.” He was raised from the
* See note, sh. ix. 1-12.
1 Jude 6. § See note, ch. i. 16.
Gen. iii. 15. 9. Rom. viii. 29. Col. i. 15, 18. Heb. xii. 23.
** See note, ch. ii. 27. also Mutt. ii. 6. Rev. xix. 15; vii, 17." Isa. xl. 11. Psalm xxiii,
and ascended into heaven, for this very purpose, “to sit upon his throne, at the right hand of God I."
Ver. 6. And the woman fled into the wilderness ; &c.] By referring to Isa. xli. 19, 20; Ezek. xix. 30. xx. 35-39; Hos. ii. 14; it will appear, that the word wilderness denotes a place, bare of sustenance, where food, miraculously given, is necessary for the support of life; but where such miraculous support, united with the correction which is the effect of a desolate and perilous situation, produces admirable fruits of religious improvement. Religion abode with the Israelites, in their tents in the wilderness, during forty years of miraculous preservation. She fled again to the wilderness with the prophet Elijah, was there wiraculously supported, and thence was restored to the land from which she had been driven ý. Thus the Church of Christ, (for after the birth of the promised seed, the woman is become such,) persecuted by the devil and his agents, flees for refuge to obscure retreats; and is there miraculously preserved during the time appointed,—1260 years; which accords exactly with the period of the witnesses, who, in mournful garbs, execute their prophetic office: but of this accordance more will be said elsewhere *. It is sufficient in this place to observe, that by different shocks under the preceding Trumpets, in which Satan is the prime agent, pure Religion had been almost driven out of the world. And during the same centuries, in which she has been seen desolate with the Witnesses t, she had existence only in some retired situations, where with difficulty she kept herself from annihilation, or, to speak more appositely, was miraculously preserved.
* Jolin x, 3. 14. 16.
Acts ii. 30. Heb, viii. 1.
+ Ch. ii. 27 ; vii. 17 ; xix. 15. $ 1 Kings xyii. xyiji.
Ver. 7. And there was war in heaven.] This passage, beginning with verse 7, and ending with verse 14, should be read (as it appears to me) in parenthesis. Reasons will be produced in commenting on the 14th
A transaction, which had happened long before the history related in the present scene, but strongly connected with it, seems to be introduced. And therefore the word éyevɛlo might be translated “ there had been,” being used in the same sense as in Matt. xxviii. 2, where Archbishop Newcome has pointed out the propriety of this translation 1. This parenthesis contains explanatory matter of great importance; and seems to have been exhibited, in a separate scene. For, the conflict between the dragon and the woman in the wilderness is suspended, while the battle in heaven is described ; and is afterwards resumed, exactly where the narration had been broken off. We learn from it, that previously to the conflict with the Church of God upon earth, the same arch
* i Ch. xi, 1-15.
* Note, ch. xiii. 5.
Harm. of Gosp. p. 154.