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fiend and his angels, had carried on a conflict in heaven. It is the same conflict which is alluded to in Jude 6. & 2 Pet. ii. 4.
In this warfare against heaven, he is defeated, and, with his followers, utterly expelled from the mansions of the blest *. But he is still permitted, for a season, to exhibit his rage on earth. This war in heaven is to be understood in a spiritual sense, as well as the war upon earth. The tempter seduced the spirits above from their happy state of obedience to the divine laws. The leading angel who, in the prophetic language of Scripture, is said to fight against Satan in behalf of the Church, is called Michael; the import of whose name is Who-like-God ? He is by soine commentators represented to be the Messiah himselft. This can scarcely be allowed; but he certainly fights under the banner of Christ; for who can be said to have overcome Satan in heaven, but the Messiah, who, before the foundation of the world, accepted the office by which he was to be overcome ? And as Christ is the head of the Church, not only on earth, but in heaven, whither the power of his creation and of his redemption is said to extend, and where angels and principalities are subjected to him $: so there appear to be two rebellions against his power and name; the one in heaven, the other on earth. Both are comprehended in Milton's sublime poen.
Ver. 14. To the woman were given two wings of the great eagle ; &c.] To be borne on eagle's wings, signifies, (as will appear by consulting Exod. xix. 4.
TOTOOS ex sug:6n, Dan. ii. 35. Rev. xx. ii. + Mede's Discourses. 1 Compare Dan, xii. 1. Luke x, 18. Eph. i. 10; iii. 15. Phil. ä. 10. Col. i. 16. 20.
Isa. xl. 31. Psalm xci. 4.) divine, miraculous deliver
Who can pursue the eagle through the air and take from him what is committed to his charge ? This verse, compared with the sixth, at the end of which the parenthesis is supposed to begin, will be found to contain nearly the self-same information, varied only in expression.
1. “The woman fled into
“ the wilderness :
1. “That she might flee
“ into the wilder
2. “ Where she has there, 2. "To her place,” to con“ a place prepared of
vey her to which she “God :
given to her "two wings of the
great eagle.” 3. “ That they should 3. " Where she is nourish
" there nourish her a " ed there a time and “ thousand two hun
times, and half a and
sixty time, from the predays."
of the serpent.
1. The expression in the first clause is the same, varied only by the use of another mood and tense, rendered necessary by the new context.
2. The second clauses have only this difference, that the miraculous deliverance is pointed out in one, as consisting in the divine security of the place ; in the other, from the divine conveyance to it; both are effected by the same miraculous succour, and in the same place.
3. It has been already shewn *, that the 1260 days, and the time, times, and half, are exactly the same period. Thus, comparing these two passages, we must acknowledge the parenthesis which disjoined them: the history contained in which, being now delivered, we are again bronglit to the same place, whence the narration bad digressed, to the conflict on earth between the dragon and the woman.
Ver. 15. Warcr like a rirer.] Overwhelming calamity is often represented as a torrent, or flood of water, bearing down all before it t, from which, however, the favour of God delivers his servants. Such a flood the adversary now raises against the Church; the floods and waves of worldly power, stirring up the madness of the rulers and of the people, (wirich is expressed by the same imagery, in Psalms lxxxix. 9; Ixv. 7. $) against the cause of true Religion. Such were the persecutions under the heathen emperors; but the whelming torrent did not prevail against the Church of Christ. Remarkable instances occur in history, wherein Christianity, on the point of being utterly annihilated, was delivered by the unexpected interposition of earthly power, and the political movements of eartlily potentates. There is a memorable instance of this in the time of the Diocletian persecution, when the Christian Religion, apparently overwhelmed by its enemies, obtained a wonderful deliverance from the extraordinary proceedings of Constantine ý. Modern history presents many
* Note, ch. xi. 2. + Psalm cesiv. Is. xvi. 12. Jer. xii. 5.
See also Rev. Ivii. 15. where the waters are explained by the angel to signify “people, and inaltitudes, and nations, and lace guages."
Euscb. llist. Eucl. lib. X. C. 1.
such occurrences, as may be seen in Bishop Newton's Dissertation on the Prophecies *. But perhaps these more properly belong to the warfare, which the dragon is to wage against the rest of the offspring of the
And the floods are to be referred to the early persecutions of Christianity, prevented from destroying her by the favour which the Christians enjoyed with all people t.
Ver. 17. The remnant of her offspring.] Christ is the first-born; the first-fruits of the Church $; and first only among brethren g; for to his faithful ser vants he hath given the privilege of being joint-heirs with him. Such are they, “who keep the command“ments of God, and hold the testimony of Jesus ;" Christians in faith and in practice. Against these, during the season permitted to him, the arch-fiend makes war; and this war is now about to be described. He succeeds for a time: but in the end, the Church must prevail. Such was the original designation of Divine Providence by prophecy ;-" thy seed possess
the gate of his enemies : Il” and in ch. vi. 2, the Church goes out conquering, and for to conquer. The time of this warfare, carried on by the dragon against the rest of the offspring of the woman, by the devil and his agents, is to be dated, as it appears to me, from the days of the emperor Constantine; when the arch-enemy, having tried in vain to overwhelm the Church by his torrents of worldly power, began to proceed against hier by a more covert and sure method; began to corrupt her by the splendour and riches, which she was now permitted to enjoy : and
• Vol. iji. Svo edit.
+ Acts ii. 47. Col. i. 15. 1 Cor. xv. 20. Heb. xii. 23.
Rom. viii. 29. # Gen. xxii. 17 ино
thus did he succeed in producing her most successful enemy out of her own bosom. This becomes the subject of the next chapter.
On consulting the writings of the commentators most approved in this country, I find, that by the dragon is generally understood the pagan and persecuting power of Imperial Rome. But, I trust, a few observations will shew the fallacy of this notion.
Where an interpretation is expressly given in the vision, as in ch. i. 20; v. 6, 9; xvii. 7. &c. ; that interpretation must be used as the key to the mystery, in preference to all interpretations suggested by the imagination of man. Now in the 9th verse of this chapter such an interpretation is presented; the dragon is there expressly declared to be “that ancient
serpent,” (agazios, o ci't' apun,) called “ the Devil ; known by the name of Abubonos in the Greek, and of Satan in the llebrew; “ who deceiveth the whole .“ world.” Here are his names, and his acknowledged character. No words can more completely express them. No Roman emperor, nor succession of emperors, can answer to this description. The same dragon appears again in ch. xx. 2. and, as it were, to prevent mistake,) he is there described in the very sume words. But this re-appearance of the same dragon is in a very late period of the Apocalyptic history; long after the expiration of the 1960 days, or years ; and even after the wild-beast and false prophet, (who derive their power from the dragon during th's period,) are come to their end. And the
Ch, xix, 20.