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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 I; and first only among brethren g; for to his faithful servants 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 “shall possess the gate of his enemies :l” 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 her by a more covert and sure method; began to corrupt her by the splendour and riches, which she was now permitted to enjoy : and thus did he succeed in producing her most successful enemy out of her own bosom. This becomes the subject of the next chapter.
* Vol. iii. 8vo edit. p. 217.
† Acts ii. 47. Col. i. 15. I Cor. xv. 20. Heb. xii. 23.
Rom. viii. 29. Gen. xxii. 17. HH 2
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,” (d'ęzcz105, et agan,) called “the Devil;" known by the name of Axboros in the Greek, and of Satan in the Hebrew ; " 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 same 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 1260 days, or years; and even after the wild-beast and false
pro• phet, (who derive their power from the dragon during this period,) are come to their end*. And the
* Ch, xix. 20.
dragon is upon the scene long after these times and continues in action even at the end of another Wong period, a period of a thousand years *. pursues his ancient artifices,
deceiving the nations, even till his final catastrophe, in ch. xx. 10, when the warfare of the Church is finished. Can this dragon then be an emperor of Rome? or any race or dynasty of emperors ? Can he be any other than that ancient and eternal enemy of the Christian Church, who in this, as in all other Scriptural accounts, is represented as the original contriver of all the mischief which shall befall it ? In this drama, he acts the same consistent part, from beginning to end. He is introduced to early notice, as warring against the Churcht; as possessing a seat, or throne of power, in a great city inimical to the Christianst; as the author of doctrines corruptive of Religion, which are called " the depths of Satan.” The evils brought on the Church under the Trumpets, particularly the third and fifth, are ascribed to him.
In the suco ceeding conflicts, the Church is attacked by his agents; by the wild-beast and false prophet s, who derive their power from him; and at length he himself is described, as leading the nations against the camp of the Saints ll. Nothing appears more plain than the meaning of this symbol.
The only appearances which may seem to favour the application of it to Imperial Rome are, the seven crowned heads, and the ten horns of the dragon. But the number seven is of great universality: and although seven heads, or seven mountains, are in another prophecy
* Ch. xx. 7.
1 Ch. ii. 24.
+ Ch. ii. 10. 13. || Ch. xx. 9,
в сь, xiii.
applied applied to Rome in a particular sense, which may properly designate that city; yet, they have a much more extended and general signification, expressive of the immense influence of Satan in the councils of this world. In a particular sense also, the seven mountains and ten horns of the latter Roman empire are fitly attributed to Satan, because during the period of 1260 years, and perhaps beyond it, he makes use of the Roman empire, its capital city, and ten kings or kingdoms, as the instruments of his successful at: tack on the Christian Church. Joseph Mede, when he had no favourite hypothesis immediately in view, clearly saw and acknowledged the obvious interpretation of this symbol; and, in one of his learned sermons, has justly described the parties engaged in this spiritual conflict: 1. Satan, and his angels ; 2. the woman and her seed. If the Roman emperors are at all concerned in this warfare, it is only as subministrant agents of this arch-enemy of the Church, The dragon therefore appears to me, as he did to Venerable Bede, eleven centuries ago, to be “ Dia; " bolus, potentiâ terreni regni armatus t." The worldly agents, whom he principally employs to carry on the warfare thus begun, will be described in the ensuing chapter.
* Mede's Works, p. 236. + Bedæ Com. in loc. ;-" the Devil, armed with the power of worldly dominion."
The Wild-beast from the Sea.
CHAP. xii. 1-11. 18Και εσάθης επί την 18 And I was stationed 1 And I stood upon the
άμμος της θαλάσ- on the sand of the sea. sand of the sea, and 1 σης. Και είδον έκ της 1 And I saw a wild-beast saw a beast rise up out θαλάσσης θηρίονα
rising up out of the of the sea, having seven ναβαίνον, έχον κέρα
sea, having ten horns heads and ten horns, τα δέκα και κεφαλάς and seven heads, and and
his horns Επία και επί των κε
upon his ten horns ten crowns, and upon ρώτων αυτε δέκα diadems, and upon his
his heads the name of διαδήμαία, και επί heads names of blas- 2 blasphemy. And the τας κεφαλάς αυτά 2 phemy. And the wild
beast which I saw was όνομαλα βλασφημί- beast, which I saw,
like unto a leopard, 2 ας. Και το θηρίον και like a leopard; and
and his feet were as είδον, ήν όμοιον παρ
his fect as those of a the feet of a bear, and δάλει, και οι πόδες bear; and his mouth his mouth as the mouth αυτά ως άρκία, και το
as the mouth of a lion: of a lion; and the draτόμα αυτά ως σόμα and the dragon gave
gon gave him his powλέον και έδωκεν
him his power, and his er, and his seat, and αυτω δράκων την
throne, and great au- 3 great authority. And δύναμιν αυτέ, και 3 thority. And I saw
I saw one of his heads, τον θρόνον αυτ8, και
one of his heads as as it were wounded to εξεσίαν μεγάλην.
having been smitten death; and his deadly 3 Και μίαν εκ των unto death, and his wound healed: : κεφαλών αυτά ως deadly wound
and all the world wonεσφαγμένην εις θά
healed. And the whole dered after the beast. ναλον και η πληγή earth wondered after 4 And they worshipped το θανάτε αυτε
4 the wild-beast. And the dragon which gave έθεραπεύθη και έθαυthey worshipped the
power untu the beast: μάσει όλη η γη
dragon, because he had and they worshipped όπίσω τα θηρία.
given the power to the the beast, saying, Who 4 Και προσεκύνησαν
beast, and they wor- is like unto the beast? το δράκουλι, ότι έδωshipped the beast, say
who is able to make κεν την ξεσίαν τω
ing; "Who is like 5 war with him? And