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the error of such an opinion' is at once demonstrated by the fact of Elijah being an evident type of the woman in the present vision : for Elijah, being a faithful prophet during a gloomy season of general idolatry, plainly cannot be the type of an apostate Church, but must on the contrary be the type of that collective body which remained faithful during the dark period of the great demonolatrous Apostasy.
Why then, it may be asked, on the principle of symbolical imagery, is the woman, if an hieroglyphic of the collective body of faithful worshippers throughout the western Empire, represented as fleeing into the wilderness : for the figurative wilderness shadows out a state of extreme spiritual barrenness and ignorance and corruption"?
To answer this question, we need only attend to the joint machinery of the last and the present vision.
The holy city of the one vision, and the heaven of the other vision, are alike the visible Church of the Western Empire. But, when the holy city was trodden down by the Gentiles, and when the heaven was occupied by the apostate borrowed members of the dragon, the visible Western Church became, in the figured language of prophecy, a wilderness. Hence the Babylonic harlot, and the Roman beast which she rides, are said by St. John to be in the wilderness : because the Western Church and the
i See above book i. chap. i. § 11. 5. (2.)
Western Empire, during the latter 1260 years, apostatised into a state of spiritual barrenness and ignorance and corruption '. Now the measured worshippers of the last vision, and the faithful woman of the present vision, are stationed in the very same holy city and in the very same heaven with the unmeasured Gentiles and the 'borrowed members of the dragon : for the temple and the two inner courts are within the inclosure of the holy city; and the place, occupied by the woman, is within the precincts of that very heaven which the dragon occupies. Such being the case, when the holy city and the figurative heaven were transformed, by apostasy, into a barren wilderness; the faithful woman was, of necessity, within the geographical limits of that wilderness, no less than the harlot by whom she was persecuted: though, as we are carefully told, she had a place in it prepared of God himself, where she is duly fed with spiritual food during the period of the latter 1260 years.
Having thus analysed the hieroglyphical imagery, we shall have little difficulty in pointing out the circumstance which it is designed to represent.
Throughout the whole term of the latter 1260 years, while the Church of the Western Empire is transformed by apostasy into a barren wilderness, many individuals within the limits of that figurative wilderness, like the seven thousand men of Israel
who even in the worst of times had not bent their knee to Baal, shall continue to make a profession of the true' faith, and shall be spiritually nourished with food from heaven in the several regions prepared for them.
The existence of such a succession of pious wor. shippers, in the
midst of the apostate Western Church and during the entire period of the middle ages, has been so fully and repeatedly established, that it were plainly superfluous to enter into any laboured discussion of the subject *.
(5.) To complete the examination of this part of the vision, it will be proper to determine another matter; which, though not exactly included within it, is of necessity supposed and presumed by the very terms of the oracle: I mean the period of the woman's allegorical gestation.
The present vision, as we have seen, opens with the parturition of the woman at the commencement of the latter 1260 years. But her parturition implies her previous gestation : for, though the manchild was born or set apart from his mother at the commencement of the 1260 years, he did not then begin to exist ; on the contrary, he had already existed in immediate union with her during the whole preceding term of her figurative pregnancy. Hence, as her parturition occurs at the commencement of the 1260 years, her gestation must be the
'I Kings xix. 18.
See Bishop Newton's Dissert. on Rev. xi.
period which rimmediately precedes the commencement of the 1260 years. :
:: Now, in the economy of nature from which the imagery of the vision is undoubtedly borrowed, the ordinary time of a woman's gestation is 40 weeks or 280 days. Such being the case, since days in prophetic language are years, the allegorical gestation of the woman will constitute a period of 280 natural years.
The parturition, however, of the woman takes place at the commencement of the latter 1260 years: and we have reason to believe, that those 1260 years commenced in the year 604. Would we, therefore, learn the commencement of her gestatory period, we must reckon back 280 years from that epoch. But this retrograde operation will bring us to the year 324. Consequently, if our premises be valid, the year 324 is the epoch at which the period of the woman's gestation must have commenced. It may
be recollected, that, in the vision of the sixth seal, which coincides with the age of Constantine and with the establishment of Christianity as the national religion of the Roman Empire, a remarkable separation is described as taking place in the figurative Israel of God. A certain mystical number out of each of the twelve tribes is said to be sealed, while the great bulk of the nation is left unsealed. Now, by the figurative Israel of that vision, we are doubtless to understand the visible Church of the Roman Empire as it existed in the
days of Constantine. Hence the separation, effected by the shadowy act of sealing, will plainly enough denote a separation of truly spiritual Christians from those who were merely political Christians and from those who were deeply infected by the growing sus perstition of the age". · It may be further recollected, that the successors and continuators of these sealed Israelites appear in the vision of the two witnesses : where they are stationed in the temple and its two inner courts ; and where they are represented, as being measured for the purpose of separating them from the unmeasured. Gentiles of the outer court, who tread down the holy city during the permitted term of 1260 years.
And it may be finally recollected, that the woman of the present vision has been doubly identified, with the sealed Israelites before the commencement of the 1260 years, and with the measured Israelites subsequent to the commencement of that period : so that she corresponds with the former, during the term of her gestation which precedes the 1260 years; while she answers to the latter, after the time of her parturition, and during her recess in the wilderness which commences and coincides with the 1260 years in question.
Now the gestation of the woman, as we have seen, must have commenced in the year 324; or