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practice of virtue and religion. Mankind had lost all idea of the true God; and therefore had lived in a blind slavery to the unrestrained gratification of their pride, ambition and lusts, and of course in a dreadful state of perpetual quarrel, discord, and war. Hence arose the four great empires, the Babylonian, Persian, Grecian, and Roman; which were reared in blood, and per-ished in their turns by their own perfidy and wickedness. After the revelation of the will and word of God through his blessed Son, pagan darkness, sin, and misery, fell before it in proportion to its success, and spread in the world. In the fourth century "the fear and love of God, and obedience to his holy word," became propagated by the church in the most parts of the earth; and the excellence and divine operation of it in the hearts of men, became clearly demonstrated. Good faith, peace, and concord prevailed among the nations, and war was comparatively unknown. Of the peaceful and happy state of mankind in that age, historians of the day speak in strains of triumph and joy. The emperor Constantine, to commemorate it, struck a medal with his name on one side, and on the reverse, Beata tranquillitas," the age of blessed tranquility;" and in one of his epistles to the churches he says, "The great power of God is now manifest to all". Lactantius describes it as an age, in which tranquility was restored "throughout the world; the desired light be"came resplendent, and God had wiped away
"the tears* of the afflicted." And Eusebius, in his Ecclesiastical History, speaks of it in the following words of the Psalmist: "Come hith"er, and behold the works of the Lord, what "wonders he hath wrought in the earth: he "maketh war to cease unto the ends of the earth; "he breaketh the bow and cutteth the spear asun"der; he burneth the chariot in the firet." Thus God had mercifully been pleased not only to reveal his will to mankind, but to carry demonstration to their own experience, to their very feelings, of the comfortable effects of submission and obedience. This event the prophet foretold under the sixth seal 200 years before it took place; and here he predicts, that the church of Christ, now embracing within its pale the greater part of mankind, should at a future time, in despite of reason, and the evidence of their own experience, depart from the word of God, and fly into the wilderness; " and the woman fled into "the wilderness," meaning that the church would fall from this happy state, into Mohamedan sensuality, and Papal idolatry.
I have been led to this construction of the word wilderness, because in its literal sense it is a place of disorder, confusion, and darkness, having no path to direct a traveller to his home (and therefore is a proper figure to denote an apostacy from the Gospel of Christ, replete with false doctrines and mystical errors; which tend to bewilder and mislead mankind from the path of truth
Psalm xlvi. 8, 9.
Rev. xxi. 4.
into darkness and sin ;) because I find it in the Scripture made use of as a figure, to denote the polytheism and idolatry of the heathen world; and because it stands confirmed by the events themselves. For it is well known, that in the fifth and sixth centuries, the church gradually departed from the true apostolic faith, into a variety of false doctrines and schisms, and thus became prepared to step into the snares which Satan meditated for her, through his instruments Mohamed and the Pope; and that in the seventh, the church being now divided into the eastern and western, she fled precipitately; or, in a very short period, fell in the East into Mohamedan, and in the West into Papal apostacy; insomuch that the pure Gospel of Christ was scarcely to be found in either hemisphere, and that only in a small remnant. In this "wilderness" of falsehood, fraud, and error, she remained to the time of the Reformation, when she began to make feeble struggles to obtain the light which might enable her, like the prodigal son, to return to her father's house. It is also said in the text, that she fled, "where she hath a place prepared of God;" ordained by God for her punishment, repentance, and purification; where she should be" fed," on bread and water, as it were, or as it is otherwise expressed*, " prophesy in sack"cloth, one thousand two hundred and three"score days." Now if we date the flight of the woman, from the rise of the Mohamedan and
*Chap. xi. 3.
Papal superstition, in the beginning of the seventh century, which their histories clearly prove is the true time (notwithstanding commentators have puzzled themselves so much on the subject,) we have, in a manner, seen the events predicted in this verse evidently fulfilled. For it was in the year 606, that Mohamed in the East, and the Pope in the West, established their apostacies, and began to convert the church to their doctrines; and before the end of that century their superstitions became the predominant religion; and the church a small remnant excepted, was converted either to Mohamedanism or Popery, and has continued, in a great measure, in that dreadful state of ignorance and darkness, more than 1200 synchronic years.
From all the preceding facts, which are well supported by history, it appears evident, that the prophet does not refer either to pagan or imperial Rome by the " dragon." To which I add, that the period of 1260 days here mentioned for the continuance of the church of Christ in its wilderness state, is the same in which the "two "witnesses of God (another type of the church) "were to prophesy in sackcloth" 1260 days*, and the same time is limited for the continuance of the power of the Pope, and the captivity of the church," namely, forty and two months†,' and the same time, for his " treading the holy "city (or the church of Christ) under foot forty and two months." All which prophetic des
* Rev. xi. 3.
Ibid. xiii. 5. 10.
criptions of periods severally amount to 1260 years, and cannot, without great violence to the texts, be applied to any other events, but those of the continuance of the power of Mohamed and the Pope, and their depression of the church.
Ver. 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."
When we set out wrong in the beginning, it often happens that we commit one error after another; and the farther we proceed, we are the more distant from the truth. Thus commentators upon these verses, having before ascribed the dragon to the persecuting pagan emperors, here refer the battle between Michael and the dragon to a war between them and the church. In support of this reference no reason is assigned, because there was none to offer. History gives an account of the heathen persecutions, in all which the church was entirely passive, and suf fered millions of its members to be destroyed, rather than forsake the Gospel of Christ; but none of any war or resistance made by the church, it being at that time a fundamental article of her creed, that all violence was unlawful. And had there been such a war, the contest must have been unequal indeed! The heathen emperors having all the power, and the church only the