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solely and exclusively, with the exception of a short introductory preface, to the events of the

1260

heaven under the third trumpet he elsewhere supposes to be Attila. If heaven denote Italy, how did Attila fall out of it? So, in the present prophecy, the woman is said to have been in the same heaven with the dragon At what period was the Church exclusively confined to Italy? Again: the whole earth is said to worship the ten horned beast, which according to Mr. Bicheno is the Papacy. Did the provinces of the Roman empire alone venerate the Pope ? - Was his aạthority totally disregarded in heaven or Italy ? -But the seven heads of the dragon are the same as the seven heads of the beast; and the last head of the beast Mr. Bicheno supposes to be the Papacy. . If then the existing head of the dragon be the Papacy, how can the dragon in his present state be the Emperor of Germany? Is the Pope the head of the German empire ? --The thousand years however are only nineteen natural years and a quarter. Such an hypothesis so completely violates the whole analogy of prophetic computation, that it cannot, as appears to me, be tolerated a single moment-Mr. Bicheno asks, Where is the dragon elsewhere used as a symbol of the devil ? Now, even if he were not, it would be amply sufficient, so far as the present prophecy is concerned, to reply, that St. John tells us, no less than seven times, that the dragon is Satan or the devil; and therefore I conclude him to be the devil. But the apocalyptic idea of making the dragon a symbol of the devil is manifestly borrowed from the third chapter of Genesis (see Rev. xii. 9.). It is almost superfluous to observe, that the dragon of the ancients was not the poetical monster of the middle ages, but simply a large serpent.

What St. John beheld, was a great red snake with seven heads and ten horns ; not a creature with four legs and two wings like the fabulous griffin, as the licence of painters is wont ridiculously to represent the apocalyptic dragon--This leads me to notice the opinion, that the Roman empire while pagan was only the

dragon;

1260 years. That such is the case, will suffici ently appear from the following considerations.

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dragon; but that, when it was converted to Christianity, it became the serpent and the devil. Constantine was certainly not a pattern of primitive piety, and the Church, in his days was by no means $o pure as it had been : yet it is difficult tg conceive, that the empire by embracing even a debased Christianity changed from bad to worse.

Mr. Bicheno defends this scheme of interpretation in his reply to me; but I cannot think that he renders it at all more Satisfactory, though he now maintains that the seven-headed beast does not represent the ecclésiastical tyranny of the Pope exclusively, but the ecclesiastical tyranny of the Pope united with the civil tyranny of the papal governments of Europe. In this opinion I believe him to be no less mistaken than in his for: mer one. But see his reply to me in his Supplement to the Signs of the Times, and my answer to him.

Mr. Lowman does not attempt to give a regular explanation of the prophecy relative to the dragon and the woman ; but he very judiciously confines it to the period of 1260 days, and supposes it exactly to synchronize with the preceding vision of the witnesses, and the succeeding vision of the two beasts. The seven heads and ten horns;" says he; " is a de* scription so exactly agreeable to the description of the beast; ** that it may, I think, be justly understood as a limitation of " the opposition here meant to the times of the beast, or to " that time when the Roman power was represented by ten *6 horns, as well as by seven heads and crowns; or not before “ ten kingdoms were erected by the nations which broke in " upon the Roman empire, and divided it into many indepen* dent governments The representation of the wild beasts “ in this vision (Chap. xiii.) refers to the same times with " the two former visions of the witnesses prophesying in sack* cloth, and the woman flying into the wilderness." Lowmao'x Paraphrase in loc. VOL. II.

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In point of chronology, the four chapters of the little book must run either successive, or parallel to each other; because, unless this be allowed, we shall be involved in the most perplexing confusion and uncertainty of interpretation that can well be imagined. Three of these chapters however, namely, the first, the third, and the fourth*, are acknowledged by Bp. Newton himself to run parallel to each other, all of them equally relating to the events of the 1260 years : yet he conceives the second of the chapters chronologically to precede the third ; and consequently, since the third treats of the same era as the first and fourth, the second must, according to his scheme, precede the first and fourth, no less than the third. Such a mode of interpretation completely destroys the beautiful simplicity with which the little book is arranged. All its chapters, I repeat it, must be either successive or parallel to each other. If then Bp. Newton makes the third chapter succeed the second, he ought likewise to make the second succeed the first, and the fourth the third : instead of which he selects one of the middle chapters of the book, and makes it precede all the others, which he supposes to run parallel to each other. This he does in direct opposition, both to the plain language, and the plain tenor, of the little book. From the mention of the 1260 years in each of its three first chapters t, we can scarcely avoid concluding that they equally treat of the ** Rev. xi. xiii, xiy. + Rev. xi. 2, 3. xii. 6, 14. xiii. 5.

events of that period; and if so, they must be parallel, not successive, to each other. As for the last chapter*, though no such declaration is explicitly made respecting it, yet its contents, as Bp. Newton rightly observes, sufficiently shew, that “ it delineates, by way of opposition, the

state of the true Church during the same period, “ its struggles and contests with the beast, and " the judgments of God upon its enemies." Hence I think it evident, that all the four chapters of the little book run parallel to each other, and treat alike of the events of the 1260 years, with the exception (as I have already observed) of the short introductory preface which ushers in the war between the dragon and the woman.

But it is time to proceed to a discussion of the matters contained in the present chapter.

1. Heaven is the Church general; the same as the holy city, mentioned in the last chapter. Part of it is occupied by the woman, or the spiritual Church of true believers; who, during her sojourn in the wilderness, is the same as the temple and the two witnesses. Another part of it is occupied by the dragon ; and corresponds, during the same period, with the outer court trodden under foot by the Gentiles, and with the great scarlet whore hereafter mentioned by the Apostle as riding triumphantly upon the ten-horned beast.

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2. The woman is the Church of Christ, originally comprehending all professed Christians, but afterwards confined within narrow limits, and driven into the wilderness. She is represented, as being clothed with the Sun; to denote, that her spiritual nakedness is only clothed by the righteousness of Christ: as standing upon the Moon, which, like herself, is a symbol of the Church, to mark, that she shines only with a borrowed light, being naturally a dark opaque body*: and as wearing a crown of twelve stars ; to shew, that, as the Church is a crown of rejoicingt to the Apostles, so the Apostles are the brightest crown of the Church.

3. The dragon, as St. John himself repeatedly teaches us, is the devil. He is represented with seven heads and ten horns, to shew us by whose visible agency he should persecute the woman ; namely, by that of the seven-headed and tenhorned beast mentioned in the next chapter: and he is said to be in heaven, because the empire,

*

Bp. Newton

supposes the moon here to mean the Jewish new moons and festivals as well as all sublunary things : but I cannot find, that this interpretation at all tallies with the general analogy of symbolical language. When the Sun means a temporal sovereign; the Moon, as Sir Isaac Newton very justly observes, and as I have stated in my chapter upon symbols, is

put for the body of the common people, considered as the king's wife:" when the Sun is Christ; the Moon will,"in a similar manner, signify his mystical wife the Church. + 1 Thess. ii. 19.

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