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instrumentality of visible powers and human agents: so, in the hieroglyphic, his figure is managed after such a manner, that we may at once learn from it the particular Power and the particular agents which he employs as his external instruments during the chronological term of the present vision. The serpent is described, as having seven heads and ten horns. But these seven heads and ten horns are the heads and horns of a wild-beast, which is fully described in the succeeding vision, and which is allowed by all commentators (however they may differ in subordinate matters) to typify the secular Roman Empire. Hence we may be sure, that the serpent does not represent the evil spirit abstractedly, but the evil spirit acting through the instrumentality of the Roman Empire and particularly through the instrumentality of those ten Gothic horns which sprang up in its Western Division. Now, both the woman, and the dragon complete with his borrowed secular members, are alike placed within the limits of the figurative heaven or within the pale of the visible Church as existing in the Roman Empire. But the visible Church comp hends the two distinct portions of faithful worshippers and unfaithful worshippers. The collective body of faithful worshippers, however, is represented by the woman. Therefore the collective body of unfaithful worshippers must be represented by the borrowed members of the infernal dragon.
Hence we may pronounce, that the dragon in his borrowed members represents the collective body of God's unfaithful worshippers : and, since those borrowed members are the members of the secular Roman Empire, we may further pronounce, that the collective body of God's unfaithful worshippers, during the term of the present vision, is composed of the secular Powers of the Roman Empire, though with a special geographical reference (as before) to its Western Division or to the peculium of the ten horns.
The borrowed members, however, of the dragon are all secular members : and it is impossible to conceive, how these could all be unfaithful worshippers, unless they were provided with and influenced by an unfaithful clergy. Such teachers, accordingly, are set over them: and the corruption of the teachers is directly ascribed to the evil spirit. In the hieroglyphical painting, the tail of the dragon draws along and casts down from heaven to earth a third part of the stars. But, in the figured language of prophecy, stars, when understood ecclesiastically, denote the bishops and pastors of the Church': their fall from heaven to earth signifies, that their apostasy is completed”: and the apocalyptic phrase of THE THIRD PART denotes some one of the three parts, into which the Roman world is divided'. Therefore the present action, ascribed to the dragon, imports, that, through the delusive agency of the evil one, the bishops and pastors of a
See above book i. chap. 1. § II. 1. (2.) · See above book i. chap. 1. § II. 1. (2.) * See above book iv. chap. 5.
third part of the Roman world should be drawn along in the folds of a base superstition, and should at length be seduced into a complete apostasy from the genuine faith of the Gospel. The little book, however, treats, throughout, of the Western Empire or the western third part of the Roman world. Hence we learn, that the apostate bishops and pastors are those, whose sees and cures are geographically situated within the limits of the Western Empire. Such being the case, they are obviously the unfaithful clergy, who influence and direct the borrowed secular members of the dragon throughout the Western Empire and during the allotted term of the present vision.
(4.) The hieroglyphic of the man-child still remains to be interpreted ; and it is by far the most difficult symbol in the prophetic picture : for, if the woman denote the whole collective body of faithful worshippers within the visible Church of the West, and if the dragon in his borrowed members and with the stars which he draws into apostasy denote the whole collective body of unfaithful worshippers within the same visible Church, no additional character within that Church seems left for the man-child to typify. It presents, therefore, a problem of no very easy solution; a problem, in fact, which, so far as application is concerned, can only be resolved by history.
In the symbolical language of the ancient prophets, the birth of a man-child denotes the setting apart of a community from the great general mass
with which it was previously commingled : while the gestation and labour-throes which precede it refer to the difficulties and trials and troubles, of whatsoever description they may be, which precede the setting apart of the community in question. Thus Isaiah employs such imagery to describe the restoration of the Jews from their long dispersion among the Gentiles. At present, that people, though even now forming a distinct community of their own, are yet mixed and blended with the great mass of mankind. But, when the time of their restoration shall arrive, they will be set apart from among all nations, as a previously-existing child is set apart from the womb of his mother : and this setting apart will be effected during a period of unexampled trouble, which is figuratively described as the severe pangs of parturition'.
Such, then, is the abstract import of the birth of a man-child: but, in the present vision, this allegorical phraseology has a special and particular relation to Christ; for the man-child is described, like Christ himself, as one who should rule all nations with a rod of iron”. Hence, according to a very just observation of Mr. Mede, the man-child of the Apocalypse must denote Christ in some senses. But he cannot denote the literal Christ : because such an application is not consistent, either with the established language of Scripture, which invariably represents our Lord as the husband, not as the son, of his Church; or with the chronology of the prediction, for the literal Christ most assuredly was not born at the commencement of the latter 1260 years; or with the usage of the ancient schools of the prophets, as exemplified in the writings of Isaiah. Therefore, as Mr. Mede rightly judges in the abstract, whatever may be thought of his particular application of the hieroglyphic, he must denote the mystical Christ or Christ the head considered in his true and genuine members'. This being the case, if the birth of a man-child denote generally the setting apart of a community, whether civil or ecclesiastical, from the mass with which it was heretofore mingled; and if the manchild of the Apocalypse denote particularly a faithful Christian ecclesiastical community: then it will plainly follow, that the birth of the apocalyptic man-child must denote the setting apart of a faithful Christian ecclesiastical community from the great mass of God's true worshippers ; that, henceforth, safe under the care of an almighty superintending providence, it might bear witness to the Gospel in its corporate or collegiate capacity, while the
' Isaiah lxvi. 7, 8. ? Compare Rev. xii. 5, with Rev. ii. 26, 27. Psalm ii. 8, 9, 3 Comment. Apoc. in loc.
" Comment. Apoc. in loc. The dragon and the man-child seem to be, what Mr. Mede well denominates, counter-elements. As the man-child is the mystical Christ, considered in his true and genuine members : so the dragon is the mystical Satan, acting through his special members, the heads and horns of a mighty corrupt and apostatic Empire.