Imágenes de páginas

in the world. Her chief glory and support is Christ. Her system of religion is that which was taught by the twelve apostles. The Jewish dispensation was preparatory to the Christian, and was accomplished and abrogated by the death of Christ, that great event which opened up the Christian dispensation. The heathen Roman emperors did not attempt to corrupt the church of Christ in her doctrines, precepts, worship or discipline: But they carried on the most violent and bloody, persecutions against individual Christians, her children, as has been shewn under seals 2d, 3d, and 4th, in chap. 6th.

In the reign of Constantine the Great, and of several succeeding emperors, many of the ministers of religion were induced to admit into what might then have been called the church of Rome, rather than the church of Christ, doctrines, modes of worship and rules of conduct and discipline, which were borrowed from heathen theology, and from civil governments. The Christian church had many votaries, notwithstanding all the dangers to which they were exposed. To this day she hath many votaries, who are all known to God, who worship him in spirit and in truth, who enjoy communion with him, who respect his authority and laws, and are protected and defended by him. Though, in some fense, they are invisible to men, they are all known to God. He sees fome to be

Christians Christians whom men do not believe to be such. He knows that some are not Christians, whom many men believe to be Christians. Probably he sees fome Christians in churches or societies, in which some men think there are few or perhaps none; and he fees fome not to be Christians in churches or focieties, where some men think they are almost all Christians. The time is not yet come, when this child of the woman shall rule the nations with a rod of iron. It is still at a confi. derable distance. The exact time shall appear, as we proceed in this book.

When the predicted time shall come, we have the best reason to expect, that the event predicted shall also take place.

Verse 6th. And the woman fled into the wilderness where she hạth a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand and two hundred and threescore days.

Having told us in the preceding verse in what situation the child was placed until the time should come when he should rule the nations with a rod of iron; John tells us in this verse in what situation the woman is placed for that period of time. She fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared of God where she should be fed for 1260

prophetic prophetic days; that is, as explained in chap. xi. 1, 2. 1243 folar years. When these 1243 years shall commence, and consequently when they shall end, shall appear from the commentary on verse 14th, and shall be still farther cleared up on chapter xiii.

During this period, the church is said to be in the wilderness, in an obfcure and distressful fituation. During that period, she hath no place prepared of men. There is no visible established church, in which nothing is to be found except what exactly accords to the constitution of the Christian church as it is delineated in the bible, and in which none can be found except those who are real Chrutians.

But she hath a place prepared of God. He stands in no need of human establishments to preserve his church in the world, nor to transmit his ordinances from one age or country to another. He hath effectually provided for the existence of his church in the world ; and he perfectly knows all those scattered individuals every where who entertain just views of the Christian church, and who are her real votaries.

Even in this wilderness state, she shall be fed. Christians, even in the worst times, shall receive as much spiritual food as shall support them in their faith. Every thing considered, the preservation of the church of Christ during this period thali be so

extraordinary extraordinary and so much beyond the natural ten dency of oruinary means, that it may well be compared to the miraculous feeding of the Israelites with manna in the wilderness.

Verses 7th, 8th, 9th.-And there was war in heaven ; Michael and his angels fought against the Dragon, and the Dragon fought and his angels : and prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great Dragon was cast out, that old ferpent, called the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world : he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Before the woman fled into the wilderness, there was war in heaven between Michael and the Dragon. Michael signifies Jesus Christ. In Daniel chap. x. 13,-21. Michael is represented as contending for, and standing by the servants of God. From the description given of the conduct of Michael in these passages and also in this verse, it is evident that such is the signification of this fymbolical name.

The very meaning of the word also suggests this interpretation. It is a Hebrew word, which in that language signifies “He who is God.” But Jesus Christ is God. The parties in this war VOL. II.



were, on the one fide, Michael and his angels ; and on the other, the dragon and his angels. On the one side were Christ and all true Christians; and on the other were the Devil and all those men who had embraced, and attempted to support and propagate those errors in religion which came originally from the Devil, and to the propagation of which he tempts men.

This war was in heaven, the Christian church. In it the Devil and his angels were defeated, banished from heaven, (the Christian church), and cast down to the earth, the Roman empire. The plain meaning of this symbolical representation is, that by the secret temptations of the Devil, through their fondness for pre-eminence, external pomp and riches, many members of the Christian church should take the most effectual method to corrupt the purity and fimplicity of the gospel : that on the other hand, many other members of that church, through faith in Christ, a sacred reffpect for his authority, and the influence of his grace, mould adhere so closely to the divine purity and fimplicity of the gospel, that no worldly honours, preferments, or emoluments should make them adopt or approve the corruptions introduced by the other members; that the former should adhere to their corruptions, and the latter to the simplicity of the gospel so firmly, that they should separate from and no more hold religious commu


[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »