Blessing of faithfulness.


323 May it please Him who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, to grant to us, of His great mercy, the faithfulness, and the reward, of that Church', of the seven in Asia, to which the promise was graciously given,—“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown ?.

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? Rev. ii. 10, 11.


Rev. xiii. 5.

“ And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things

and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.”

THERE is nothing more remarkable in the visions of sacred Prophecy than the manner in which, without any appearance of design, one vision unfolds more fully what had been dimly sketched in the preceding, or completes the view of that of which only the first germ and origin had been discovered before. We have had occasion to notice this in the book of Daniel, particularly in regard to Nebuchadnezzar's vision of the image, and Daniel's of the four beasts : and we have a not less striking instance in the vision before us, as compared with that which last engaged our attention, and in which was described the prophetic ministry of the two witnesses.

We saw there how the end of their appointed ministry, when now it had been carried on through the appointed period of “a thousand two hundred and threescore days," was to be this,—“the beast that ascendeth out of the abyss shall make war

| Preached Jan. 5, 1845.

Opening of a new Vision.

325 against them, and overcome them and kill them.” Nothing had as yet been said concerning this tyrannical and persecuting power: it was reserved for the vision on which we are now to enter, to describe it fully, and to mark definitively the place which it was to occupy in the history of the Church's warfare. It might appear, indeed, at first sight from the opening of the vision which is unfolded in the twelfth chapter, as if it were altogether a new scene that is there revealed :but we find, ere long, that it is designed to exhibit to us fully and clearly the agents of evil whose deeds of malice and cruelty had but been partially discovered before. And, in order to describe“ in all its parts, and to enable us the better to understand the conflict, by ascertaining the combatants, the Holy Spirit begins the figurative history,” as it would seem, “from the earliest times of the Church; and past events are represented in the same allegory which is continued to foretel those which are to come ?."

“And there appeared,” says St. John, “a great wonder,”—or “sign:—in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.” By the general

” consent of interpreters the Woman here described represents the Church of God, arrayed with heavenly glory; no earthly material being borrowed to clothe or adorn her, but the luminaries of heaven, the sun and the moon, and the twelve stars. The imagery thus employed may remind us of that which we find in Joseph's vision *; the twelve stars, in particular, representing, it would seem, as there, the heads of the chosen family, the one Church of God, answering

? Woodhouse, Annotations, σημείον. pp. 243, 244.

4 Gen. xxxvii. 9.

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326 The Church travailing in birth. [LECT. to whom were the appointed heads and rulers of the new and spiritual family of His true Israel, “ the twelve apostles of the Lamb 5."

“ And she being with child, cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.” And such, indeed, was the condition of the Church from the time when to the first mother of our race-of that great family of God's creation which was in due time to “ be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God 9,”—was given the promise of the future “seed ”—of Him on whom were to be fixed from thenceforth the eager anticipations and hopes of the faithful. And so the prophet Micah, having pointed to the favoured city out of which He should come forth that was “to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth were from of old, from everlasting,” goes on to say, “ Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth? “And we know," saith the apostle, “ that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now 8.” And that which follows in the vision before us seems to show that the birth here spoken of is, in its primary and proper sense, none other than that of the promised Seed of the Woman, concerning whom it had been said to the serpent, the author of her temptation, the worker of her fall, and of ruin to her race, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; he shall bruise thy

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Rev. xxi. 14. Cf. Ruperti splendidissimi dinumerantur.” Comm. in loc. “In capite hujus He refers to Joseph's dream. mulieris corona stellarum duo- Op. t. ii. p. 557. decim conspicitur, quia in initio 6 Rom. viii. 21. nascentis Ecclesiæ, itemque in

7 Mic. v. 3. initio renascentis ejusdem, duo- 8 Rom. viii. 22. decim Apostoli notissimi ac

“There ap

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The Serpent, her enemy.

head, and thou shalt bruise his heel 9."
peared,” says St. John, “another sign in heaven;
and behold, a great red ”—or “fiery-coloured –
dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and
seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew,"
—or rather, “ draweth 2-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 3.

The identity of the dragon here described with the great enemy of man can hardly be mistaken, when, a few verses after, we find him expressly designated as “that old serpent, called the devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world 4;" and in the twentieth chapter we find mention made again of “ the dragon, that old serpent, which is the devil and Satan 5.” His seven heads and ten horns would denote universal dominion ; such as he claimed to possess when he showed to our Blessed Lord, in the hour of His temptation, “all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them,” and “said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it 6.” And our Blessed Lord Himself, when speaking of His final conflict with that Evil One, designates him, on more than one occasion, as “the prince of this world ?;" and St. Paul in like manner styles him “the god of this world 5,” and speaks elsewhere of “principalities and powers," -- not “flesh and blood,” but invisible,


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9 Gen. iii. 15.


σύρει. 3 Rev. xii. 3,

Chap. xx. 2. 6 Luke iv. 6.

7 John xii. 31; xiv. 30 ; xvi. 11.

4. 4 Ver. 9.

8 2 Cor. iv. 4.

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