« AnteriorContinuar »
And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman: and the earth opened her mouth ; and swallowed up the flood, which the dragon cast out of his mouth'.
Still following the same plan which I have hitherto done, I shall begin with ascertaining the abstract import of this passage, and I shall then seek for the accomplishment of it in the page of history.
1. After the commencement of the latter 1260 years, Satan is described as warring in heaven with the angels of Michael : but the scene is now shifted from heaven to earth ; and a new persecution takes place, no longer in the former, but on the latter. This persecution, however, not being carried on within heaven or the visible Western Church, must plainly be something of an essentially different nature from the war which preceded it. The woman is as much hated by Satan as ever she was : but, from a change in the temper of the times, he has discovered, that heaven or the Western Church is no longer a convenient military position; he has found, that sincere religion must be attacked on some other ground than that of heresy. Hence, perceiving himself cast out of heaven by the force of public opinion, he now takes his station upon the earth or the territorial Latin Empire : and, from that post, he begins a new attack upon the faithful, conducted on principles altogether different from those of his ancient ecclesiastical war.
face of the serpent. Ye have seen, what I did unto the Egyptians; and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. Exod. xix. 4.
· Rev. xii. 12-16.
The scene, as I have recently observed, was shifted from heaven to earth about the latter end of the seventeenth century; when the second woe was brought to its termination, and when the third woe might now be expected quickly to succeed it. Accordingly, in allusion to this third woe, a loud voice from heaven prophetically exclaims: Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and the sea, for the devil is come down unto you. The earth or the territorial Roman Empire, and the sea or the greatest nation of the Roman world in a state of effervescent revolution, were eminently to be the stage of the third woe?: and, agreeably to this anticipation of it, when the third woe, which comprehends the seven vials, actually comes into operation, we find that the two first of the vials are poured out upon the
very earth and the very sea, to which Satan descended when he was ejected from the mystical heaven
Since, then, the earth denotes the territorial Roman Empire, and since the sea denotes the greatest nation of the Roman world in a state of revolu
Rev. xi. 14. ? For the grounds, on which the sea is pronounced to be the greatest nation of the Roman world, see below book vi. chap. 4. § II.
* Rev. xvi. 1-3. See below book vi. chap. 4. V I. II.
tionary effervescence"; it will follow, that, when Satan quitted the mystical heaven, he took his station upon the secular Roman Empire in general but particularly upon the greatest nation of that Empire which under the third woe is destined to be convulsed by revolution. This is the new ground, which he selects for his new attack upou the woman ; an attack of an essentially different nature from the war which he had hitherto waged in heaven or the Western Church. He casts out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. But the earth helps the woman, by swallowing up the flood which the dragon had vomited forth.
A flood is a large body of men in motion or in active operation. Thus it, sometimes, means an army of hostile invaders; while, at other times, it means a combination or conspiracy of wicked men. In the former sense, it is used by Daniel, when, speaking of the overthrow of the Hebrew Commonwealth by the invading army of the Romans, he says;
The end thereof shall be with a flood': in the latter sense, it is used by David, when, speaking of his deliverance from the hand of his virulent domestic enemies, he says; The floods of ungodly men made me afraid”. To the like purpose it is employed by Isaiah; When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of
I Dan. ix. 26.
the Lord shall lift up a standard against him?: upon which passage it is well remarked by Cruden, that the violent assaults and sudden incursions of the devil and his instruments against the Church are compared to a flood.
The literal import, therefore, of the hieroglyphics, employed in the present clause of the prophecy, will be this.
When Satan, at the close of the seventeenth century, quitted the Western Church, the old station whence he had been accustomed to attack the faithful on the plea of heresy; he chose, for his new military position, the secular Roman Empire and especially the greatest nation of that Empire which under the third woe is destined to be convulsed by revolution. Here he vomits forth a conspiracy of wicked men; through the agency of which he hopes to sweep away the collective body of sound believers, so that their place should no more be found. But, contrary to his expectations, the secular Roman Empire absorbs, as dry sand absorbs water, the impious members of the conspiracy; so that, by means of this assistance, the collective body of sound believers remains firm in its original position, maugre the allegorical flood which beats upon it.
2. Such is the abstract import of the clause : let us now apply the prediction to history.
Prophetic symbols can only describe the predo
with the duration of the two former woes, vomited forth, against the symbolical woman, a noisome flood of infidels and atheists and anarchists, in the hope that he might cause her to be carried away by the inundation'. At the commencement of the third woe-trumpet, which (as we shall presently see) began to sound in the year 1789, the deluge of the ungodly was rapidly mounting to its permitted height: and it threatened to carry away, in wild indiscriminate confusion, every thing sacred and venerable, every thing salutary and dignified, every thing wise, every thing lovely, every thing that adorns this life, every thing that fits us for a better life. The spirit of the great predicted Antichrist, who should be known by his denial of the Father and the Son, was now palpably abroad in the world'. Scarcely had the seventh angel begun to sound, and scarcely had the third woe commenced, when
'If my computation of the prophetic three times and a half be accurate, Satan's short season of permitted mischief, after his allegorical descent from heaven to earth, extends, from the year
697, to the year 1865; thus comprising a term of no more than 168 years : but his long season of permitted misch while the figurative heaven was the stage of his machinations, extended, from the year 604 when the first woe commenced, to the year
1697 when the second woe passed away : thus comprising a term of no less than 1093 years.
On this principle it is, that Satan is said to have only a short time after his descent from heaven to earth : for, at the end of this short time, his allegorical binding takes place. Rev. XX. 1-3.
• See above book i. chap. 5.