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This exposition contains much that is excellent, though I cannot esteem it wholly satisfactory. In the first place, Mr. Lowman assigns the prophecy to its right chronological era; namely, the period of the 1260 years. And, in the next, he adopts the most natural interpretation of the catching up of the man-child to the throne of God; namely, that it signifies the superintending care with which the Almighty for erer guards his faithful people. Yet even this exposition is not free from every objection. The question will still recur, If the birth of the man-child denote the perpetual spiritual birth of Christian converts, why should the woman be represented as bringing him forth immediately before her flight into the wilderness during the 1260 days, rather than at any other era? Did she bear no spiritual children before that era? Has she borne none since ?
It appears to me, that the key to the true interpretation of the prophecy is the acquiring a
right are an allusion to the preservation of Joash, in the time of “ Athaliah's usurpation, when she put to death all the rest of “the royal family (2 Kings xi. 2, 3.). Jehashebah took Joash
the son of Ahaziah, and stole him from among the king's sons “ which were slain— And he was hid in the house of the Lord " six years. He was kept safe in one of the chambers of the “ temple, till he was brought out by Jehoiada the high-priest, “ and restored to the kingdom of David. Thus the true “ worshippers of God shall not all be destroyed by the enemies “ of religion; some, like Joash, shall be kept safe, as if in “ heaven, the true temple, till they shall appear publicly “ with victory over their enemies."
right idea of the woman's parturition: and this, cannot think that either Mr. Mede or Mr. Lowman has acquired. There is a passage in Isaiah, which is almost exactly parallel to the present prediction, and which consequently may teach us how we ought to understand it. Speaking of the mystic daughter of Zion, and foretelling the restoration of the Jews and their final establishment as a nation, Isaiah says, “ Before she travailed, “ she brought forth; before her pain came, she « was delivered of a man-child. Who hath heard “ such a thing? - Who hath seen such things? “ Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one
day, or shall a nation be born at once? for, as “ soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her 66 children *." The birth then of a man-child denotes not regeneration or' a spiritual birth, but the allegorical birth of a community; that is to say, its final and complete establishment as a community. The national birth of the Jews is to be so sudden and unexpected, as to precede in a manner the pains of labour. That of the Christian community, on the contrary, was to follow very severe pains; in other words, the Christian community was not to acquire a full establishment until after many afflictions and persecutions, as Mr. Mede rightly understands the pains of the
* Isaiah lxvi. 7,8. That the restoration of the Jews is here intended, and not the conversion of the Gentiles to Christianity, is shewn in my work on the restoration of Israel and the overa throw of Antichrist.
woman previous to her parturition. The question then is, When did the Christian community acquire so complete an establishment as to answer to the allegory of the man-child being completely born? Since the scene lies within the Roman empire, it may be answered, When Christianity was finally established and when Paganism was authoritatively overthrown. This was not the age of Constantine: for, although the child may be considered as then beginning to be born, Paganism still maintained a divided sway with Christianity; and shortly after the death of Constantine was re-established by Julian. But in the age of Theodosius, at the close of the fourth century, the senate publicly decreed the abolition of Paganism ; and, although some traces of it remained, even until the sixth century, in the remoter provinces, it then received its death blow, and the paramount establishment of Christianity took place.
Scarcely was the child born, when the dragon attempted to devour him, first by setting on foot a very general apostasy from the truth, and afterwards by causing that apostasy to be openly established. Some time previous to the public developement of the apostasy at the commencement of the 1260 years, an individual apostasy had been gradually introduced into the Roman empire. This at length became so extensive, that the dragon is represented as casting down from heaven the third part of the stars. When matters were thus prepared, he openly attacked the woman
and her offspring. The 'saints were delivered into the hand of the little horn, and the man of sin was revealed. But the malice of the dragon was unable wholly to eradicate genuine Christianity. A chosen seed was wonderfully preserved through all the darkness and persecutions of the 1260 years. The mystic child was snatched away from the devouring jaws of the dragon, was caught up to the throne of God, and was placed under the superintending protection of the Almighty; while the woman, the true church, fled into the wilderness *."
These transactions must be considered as forming a brief preface to the main subject of the vision, which, like the other visions of the little book, relates to the persecution of the true Church. by the papal Roman empire under the influence of the devil, during the allotted period of three times and a half or 1260 days.
66 And there was war in heaven: Michael and « his angels fought against the dragon: and the 56
dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed " not; neither was their place found any more in « heaven. And the great dragon was cast ont, that “old serpent, called the devil, and Satan, which « deceiveth the whole world : he was cast out
* For this interpretation of the birth of the man-child, with the exception of a few alterations and additions, I am indebted to a correspondent with whom I have not the pleasure of being personally acquainted, Dr. Okely, of Lower Wike, near Halifax in Yorkshire.
« into the earth, and his angels were cast out « with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in « heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, « and the kingdom of our God, and the power of « his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is « cast down, which accused them before our God
day and night. And they overcame him by the 6. blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their « testimony; and they loved not their lives unto « death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye « that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of “ the earth and the sea ! for the devil is come. “ down unto you, having great wrath, because « he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
“ And, when the dragon saw that he was cast « unto the earth, he still) persecuted the woman “ which brought forth the man-child. (Now to “ the woman were given two wings of a great “ eagle *, that she might fly into the wilderness, “ into her place, where she is nourished for a “ time, and times, and half a time, from the face
* This idea is inanifestly taken from that of Exodus, wherein the sojourn of the Israelites in the wilderness, from the face of the Egyptians, is described precisely in the same manner as the Sojourn of the woman in the spiritual wilderness, from the face of the serpent.
“ Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians; " and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto “ myself” (Exod. xix. 4.). Bp. Newton, agreeably to the plan of interpretation upon which he set out, and which I cannot but think wrong, seems to imagine, that, the eagle being the Roman ensign, the two wings may allude to the Eastern and Western empires,