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be the ultimate consequence of this struggle between christianity and popery, perpetuated for 1260 years, and terminating at last in the resurrection of the witnesses, or the victory of Christ over Antichrist, when “the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever. Bishop Newton observes, “St John is here rapt and hurried away as it were to a view of the happy millennium, without considering the steps preceding and conducting to it.” The two last verses contain a brief account of the events which are to follow even to the end of the world. “ The anger of the nations," under Gog and Magog, related at length, chap. xx. 7, &c.—and the judgments of God upon that. atheistical crew, chap. xx. 9, and Ezek. xxxix. 1,-and the general judgment, Rev. xx. 12, &c.
The prophet having thus entered upon the history of the western church, goes back in chap. xii. to give an account of the establishment of christianity as the religion of the em
pire, after a long struggle against paganism, and its victory over it, by the christian emperor Constantine the great being called to the throne; which happened about the year
of Christ 313
” The light
The christian church is here represented as a woman cloathed with the sun. of the gospel, when compared with the darkness of heathenism, might well deserve such an emblematical device, notwithstanding the, corruptions which then began to creep into the faith and worship of the church; for it is the contrast between the religion abolished and that now established in its room, that is here attended to. “ The moon under her feet” is an emblem of the Mosaic oeconomy, upon
which the foundations of the church were laid : * and the heaven which is here the scene of these wonders, is the roman empire in its whole extent at that time, the contest for superiority between the two religions being carried on in every part, as well as in the capital city. The Dragon, as appears from the dçscription of
* Eph. il 22.2.22 11 mal... * The description of Ovid applies to Rome in both the cir. cumstances which he mentions, 'equally under the rule of the popę, as it did under that of the pagan emperors.
him, as“ being red, and having seven beads and ten borns, and seven crowns upon his beads; represents the roman imperial power; red, or purple, being the colour worn only by the emperors of Rome pagan, as it has since been the distinguishing colour of the masters of papal Rome. Mystically, it expresses in both cases the bloody persecutions Rome hath carried on against the true church of Christ, first as a pagan persecutor, and next as an antichristian. The seven beads are the seven mountains on which Rome was built.* The ten horns are the ten kingdoms into which the empire was to be divided, when it became a papal persecutòr; and the seven crowns shew that the division had not yet at this juncture
Sed quæ de septem totum circumspicit orbem
“ Rome from her seven hills the globe commands,
The seat of empire, and the PLACE OF GODS." They have still gods of wood and stone there now, as heretofore. * Bishop Newton reckons up the different forms of government which successively prevailed at Rome thus,—KINGS, CONSULS, DICTATORS, DECEMVIRS, MILITARY
taken place, the imperial or sixth form of government still subsisting, * and the seventh being not yet come. “ And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth. (Ver. 4.) This may signify the great number of christian bishops which were ejected from their sees, and sent into banisiment, or suffered martyrdom, during these contests in the imperial heaven, from which at length, by the succession of Constantine, the pagan dragon was himself cast down. (ver. 9.)+ The period under contemplation was certainly a very important crisis, and worthy of this particular notice by the spirit of prophecy. It was the violent and bloody struggle between paganism, for the continued possession of the temples of the gods and the imperial throne which it had hitherto enjoyed, and christianity for that establishment to which it now aspir
TRIBUNES with consular authority ;-(these five from Livy and Tacitus; the CÆSARS were the sixth, the Popes the seventh.
† The dragon described in Rev xii. 3, and the beast in Rev. xiii, 1; are manifestly the same ; and, as Bishop Newton ob serves, was beyond all doubt designed to represent the roman empire, as both ancients and moderns, papists and protestants are agreed." The only point in dispute is, whether pagan or papal Rone be meant; which must be determined by the chce racter and actions ascribed to the beast:
The word dragon or serpent is also used in this place and in the prophets hieroglyphically, to represent the malice and agency of "ibe OLD SERPENT, called the devil and satan," á yzd.susvos e Conc, szi o razavãs, (Rev. xii. 9, Cen: iii14 :)
as being at the bottom of all this persecution of religion by Rome, in both her states, pagan and antichristian. Thus in Psalm xci, 13, the prophet says of Christ“ The lion and the dragon shalt thou tread under thy feet," --alluding to the ultimate triumph of true religion over the savage force of persecution and the malice of hell ; which was once fulfilled by the conversion of the empire from paganism to christianity, the great event celebrated in this chapter (Rev. xii.), and will be again, by its conversion from popery to the gospel. (Rev, xviii.)
To this conquest to be achieved by Christ, Isaiah (xxvii. 1,) alludes," In that day the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent; even leviathan that crooked serpent ; and he shall slay the dragon that
; is in the sea”-or which silteth on many waters, (Rev, xvii. 15,)-or riseth up out of the sea, (Rev, xii1,) as St John ex
The DRAGON is therefore an emblem of a tyrannical persecuting enemy of the church; and, as such, is applied to PHAROAH, (Isa, li. 9, Ezek. xxix. 3,) as here to the pagan emperors
of Rome and their antichristian successors, and ultia mately to Satan himself.