Page images
PDF
EPUB

faces and worship God. Tbis heavenly chorus is not introduced on ordinary occasions. Things must therefore be pending of deep interest to the church of God. By the matter of the song we may learn something of what they are. Corresponding with the twofold aspect of the seventh trumpet, those who have destroyed the eartb are to be destroyed, and those who have suffered for Christ are to be rewarded.

The character under which the Most High is praised, “ The Lord God Almighty, who is, and was, and is to come," seems to imply that he could have suppressed the power of his enemies at any time ; that though for wise reasons he had not for ages past exerted his strength, yet now he was about to “take unto him his great power, and to reign;”. and that all this is the result of his immutable counsels.

The 6 anger" of the nations had been great both against God and his servants, opposing him, and persecuting them with unrelenting cruelty : but now his wrath is come ; now the blood of the martyrs of past ages shall be avenged ;* now their labours and sufferings shall produce their effects ; from the seed which had been sown during a succession of centuries in tears and blood, a harvest of joy will spring up; finally, those who by persecutions, corruptions, and unjust wars, have destroyed the earth, shall now be themselves destroyed.

Under the image of opening the heavenly temple, seems to be set forth the glorious state of the church when these judgments shall be executed upon her enemies. As the temple was polluted and shut up under certain idolatrous reigns, and opened in times of reformation, so the gospel temple has been treated under the reign of antichrist, and so it shall be restored at or towards the end of the 1260 years.

- The ark of the testament being seen," implies the removal of the vail; and as it was not to be seen in the second temple, but unly in the first, its being seen here would seem to denote the restoration of pure primitive Christianity, as

* Chap. xviii, 20.

it was taught, believed, and practised, when the gospel temple was first erected." The lightning, voices, thunderings, earthquake, and hail," are the same things which are described under the seventh vial. Chap. xvi. 18—21. Both refer to the same events; only this is general, and that more particular : and as there the language seems to refer to the efficacy of the gospel, and of the spiritual judgments on those who reject it, purifying the moral atmosphere of the world, such appears to be its meaning bere.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

DISCOURSE XVI.

THE SECOND GENERAL DESCRIPTION : OR, THE GREAT RED DRAGON,

AND THE WOMAN FLYING INTO THE WILDERNESS..

Chap. xii, 1–6.

The first general description, it has been observed, took up the apostasy at the time when things were so matured that the Catholic church was ordered to be left out of God's temple, as not belonging to it : but this appears to trace it to its origin. Here we go back to an early period of history ; possibly as far as to the fourth century, and to the times of some of the first trumpets. At a time when the church was in danger of being lost in superstition and worldly conformity, it was natural for the faithful to feel anxious for the cause of Christ. For their encouragement, the church is described in vision as bearing a seed which should be preserved by the special care of heaven, through all these evil times, and become in the end victorious over the whole earth. Such appears to be the scope of this second general description. Vol. VI.

19

1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven ; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon 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 all 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 wil. derness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.

Prior to the introduction of antichristian corruptions, the church is described as a woman clothed with the sun, and having the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars ;"> denoting the plenitude of gospel light which compassed her as a garment; her superiority to the Jewish dispensation ; and, in consequence of her adherence to the doctrine and examples of the apostles, her triumph over ten successive persecutions.

The woman is said to be “ with child, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered ;” denoting, it may be, the earnest desires of the true church after the increase of believers. Such has always been its character. Worldly men, who have taken upon them the Christian name, have invariably been employed in compassing selfish objects. But true Christians have at all times been distin. guished by a desire to extend the kingdom of Christ.

The following description, by EUSEBIUS, of the labours of the immediate successors of the apostles, is doubtless applicable to the church so long as it adhered to their doctrine and example. " They built up those churches the foundations of which were laid by the apostles, promoting greatly the doctrine of the gospel, and scattering the salutary seed of the kingdom of heaven at large over the whole world.---Travelling abroad, they performed the work of evangelists to those who as yet had not heard the word

« PreviousContinue »