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pressed and overclouded, has shone forth again with some heavenly lustre. He has clearly shown the errors of these interpreters, and among them those of Bishop Bossuet and the Romanists; and that the fulfilment is only to be expected in times yet to come in this present world, when the reign of Christ's pure religion shall be extended far beyond any limits that have hitherto contained it, “ when the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab. ii. 14.)
The Woman and the Dragon.
1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and
her head a crown of twelve stars :
2 And she being with child, cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule ali nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent 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.
10 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 God day and night.
11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
12 Therefore, rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, and of the sea; for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
14 And 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 of the serpent.
15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Ver. 1. And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, &c.] The word onuslov,
σημειον, should be translated a sign or symbol ; for it is used here to signify, not only what is simply wonderful, but particularly so, as expressive of a figurative resemblance; (so, in Matth. xii. 38; xvi. 1-4; Rom. iv. 11.) We have been instructed in this manner, under such resemblances, throughout these prophecies. The sounding of the seventh trumpet has now
. prepared us to expect a figurative exhibition of that great conflict and victory, by which the Christian Church will at length be placed in security from her enemies. To describe this in all its parts, and to enable us to understand the conflict, by ascertaining
the combatants, the holy Spirit begins the figurative history from the earliest times of the Church; and past events are represented in the same allegory, which is continued to foretell those which are to come.
A woman, in this figurative language, is used to signify a city, a nation, a state, or body politic. This method of representing nations and cities under the symbol of women, was copied from the eastern by the western world. Rome has long been known under this figurative description. And we have Britannia, a woman. Among the Roman coins is one of the Emperor Vespasian, on the reverse of which is a captive woman, hanging her mournful head, and the inscription is Judæa. She is there depictured, as by the master-hand, in Lam. i. 1-4; and in the 137th Psalm, where the daughter of Babylon, and the captive daughter of Jerusalem, are beautifully contrasted. But the woman, the city now represented, is of heavenly origin,
« whose builder and maker is God;" of which “ Christ is the corner-stone, the new, the heavenly Jerusalem, the mother of us all.” (Matth. xvi. 18; Gal. iv. 26, 27; 1 Cor. iii. 9, &c. ; 2 Cor. v. 1-3, vi. 16; Eph. ii. 19-22, iv. 12, 16; 1 Tim. iii. 15; 1 Pet. ii. 3, 7, 10; Heb. iii. 6, xi. 10, xii. 22; Rev. iii. 12, xxi. 2.) These quotations prove beyond doubt, that she is the Church of Christ, of pure heavenly origin, and placed upon the earth in her infant form, when it pleased God to bless with religion our first parents ; and, when they were expelled from Paradise, to support their hopes, and those of their posterity, by the promise of a Redeemer, the offspring of the woman, who should“ bruise the serpent's head.”
“ The imagery which in this apocalyptic vision is seen to decorate her, is grand and sublime. No earthly material is employed to clothe or adorn her; she is
1 Ps. xlv. 12; cxxxvii. 8; 2 Kings xix. 21.
arrayed in pure and heavenly light.' And thus splendid she will again appear, when she has regained her native purity, and is freed from the assaults of her enemies, and the corruptions of a sinful world. (Rev. xxi.)
There is but little difference of opinion upon the explanation of this part of the prophecy : almost all the commentators agree, that the woman represents the Church of Christ. Methodius, who wrote about the year 290, thus applies it. ?
Ver. 2. And she being with child, cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.] 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 imagery, the earnest and unsatisfied desire of the ancient Church, to possess this promised blessing. (Mich. v. 2, 3; Rom. viii. 22.)
Ver.3,4,5. And there appeared another wonder (or sign) in heaven; and behold a great red (Truppos, fire-coloured) dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven i See Psalm civ. 2; where the Almighty is poetically represented
clothing himself with light, as it were with a garment.” 2 Vitringa observes, that Launæus, Cocceius, and other foreign interpreters, suppose her to be the church of the Old Testament: this interpretation he combats, and endeavours to show that it is that of the New Testament which she represents. But according to the most judicious divines, these form but one church, one and the same, of which Christ was the head from the beginning, when he was declared the successful supporter of the Church against her inveterate enemy.
crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman, which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man-child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron : and her child was caught up to God and to his throne.] To this description of the fire-coloured dragon, if we add the view afforded of him in the ninth verse of this chapter, (where he is said to be “ that old, or ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceiveth the whole world,”) we cannot entertain a doubt of his identity. The Devil (Alaßodos) is the Greek name, as Satan is the Hebrew one, of that arch-enemy of true religion and of mankind, who, under the form of a serpent, deceived our first parents, (Gen. iii.) and, from that time to this, has been but too successful in deceiving their posterity. His seven heads, with crowns (or diadems) upon them, and his ten horns, express a prodigious quantity of worldly power and elevation, such as he in vain offered to our pure and virtuous Lord in the day of his temptation. This agrees with other passages of Scripture, in which he is called “ the Prince of this
αρχη. ? The ancient interpreters, Methodius, followed by Arethas and Primasius, understood by the woman i ekkAnoia, by the dragon, ó Alafoloç. And. Cæsar, com. in locum.
3 See ch. vi. 4, and the notes. It must be observed, that the dragon has seven heads and ten horns, the same as the wild beast, his minister, to whom he delegates his power. But there is this difference, he has seven crowns on his seven heads, the beast has ten crowns on his ten horns, but horns are kings or kingdoms. (Dan. vii. 24.) This imports, that it was during the continuance and administration of the two beasts, that the governing power was divided among the kings. The power of the dragon, before he was joined by these associates, is of a more general description, extensive as the inhabitants of the earth, and exercised long before and long after the appearance of the wild beasts.