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God, and of his anointed. The twenty-four elders join the heavenly chorus, anticipating the joyful event, even before it is disclosed in prophetical vision. Thus the scene is suddenly removed from earth to heaven ; where the same apparatus, and the same heavenly ministers appear, surrounding the throne of God, as in the fourth chapter.
Ver. 18.] The wrath of the nations, must remind us of the opening of that august prophecy relating to Christ's kingdom, in the 2d Psalm,—" why do the nations so furiously rage, &c.” and of similar expressions in the 110th Psalm.
The received translation expresses that the dead are to be judged at this time : but more than this seems to be intended in the original : for before the great day of final retribution, when the literally dead shall be raised from their graves for judgment, (as in ch. xxii. 12.) another kind of judgment is to be expected,—that by which the inequalities in the distribution of justice, shall be rectified under the reign of Christ's religion upon earth. Kploi TOLS Elveol Enayye del, “ he shall utter judgment to the nations,” was the prophetic designation of our Lord, (Matth, xii. 18.) “All judgment was committed to him by the Father, (John v. 22.) and his right to exercise it took place from his crucifixion (John xii. 31.); but this judgment was suspended for a time, Η κρισις αυτου ηρθη, (Acts viii. 33.) and was not to be exercised in plenitude of power, till the times of the Gentiles should be fulfilled. (Luke xxi. 24.) And this judgment, though not perfected in all its parts before the great and last day, (which is also comprehended under this seventh and last trumpet,) yet is first to be partially displayed in the destruction of the corrupt worldly powers, and the restoration of a purer religion and morality.
“ The time of the dead,” may likewise signify
(in that metaphorical sense in which the word death, &c. is frequently used,) the time when pure religion, dead and buried with the witnesses, shall with them revive and flourish. But no final and certain opinion can be passed on prophecy, before the event shall direct the interpretation.
Ver. 19.] “ The ark of the covenant,"—the sacred coffer so called, because it contained the tables of the covenant into which God had deigned to enter with the ancient church, was deposited in the tabernacle called “ the holiest of all.” (Heb. ix. 1–5.) This interior part of the temple, accessible under the law to none but the high priest, is now opened, and the ark is exhibited to view. Jesus Christ, the only High Priest and Mediator of the new covenant,who had now deposited here his new covenant of mercy, “ the everlasting gospel,"--who had broken down the partition which excluded the Gentiles from its benefits,—who alone could enter the holy of holies, grants the exhibition. As the walls of idolatrous Jericho fell before the ark of the old covenant, so will the corrupt Babylon before the new one: but that which seems more immediately to be signified under this exhibition, is the restoration of the Christian religion in its purity. To the Gentiles, who, the greater part of them, had not yet known this religion in its purity, a view of the ark of the covenant is afforded from the æra of the Reformation.
Vitringa has taken a concise and able view of those interpretations of this prophecy, which have referred the fulfilment of it either to the great and last day of judgment, or to those times preceding our own, when religion, after having been long de
pressed and overclouded, has shone forth again with some heavenly lustre. He has clearly shown the errors of these interpreters, and among them those of Bishop Bossuet and the Romanists; and that the fulfilment is only to be expected in times yet to come in this present world, when the reign of Christ's pure religion shall be extended far beyond any limits that have hitherto contained it, " when the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab. ii. 14.)
The Woman and the Dragon.
1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars :
2 And she being with child, cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
4 And his tail drew 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.
5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule ali nations with a rod of iron : and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent called the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world : he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before God day and night.
11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
12 Therefore, rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, and of the sea; for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
15 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. . 16 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.
17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Ver. 1. And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, &c.] The word onpetov, should be translated a sign or symbol ; for it is used here to signify, not only what is simply wonderful, but particularly so, as expressive of a figurative resemblance; (so, in Matth. xii. 38; xvi. 1-4; Rom. iv. 11.) We have been instructed in this manner, under such resemblances, throughout these prophecies. The sounding of the seventh trumpet has now prepared us to expect a figurative exhibition of that great conflict and victory, by which the Christian Church will at length be placed in security from her enemies. To describe this in all its parts, and to enable us to understand the conflict, by ascertaining
the combatants, the holy Spirit begins the figurative history from the earliest times of the Church; and past events are represented in the same allegory, which is continued to foretell those which are to come.
A woman, in this figurative language, is used to signify a city, a nation, a state, or body politic. This method of representing nations and cities under the symbol of women, was copied from the eastern by the western world. Rome has long been known under this figurative description. And we have Britannia, a woman. Among the Roman coins is one of the Emperor Vespasian, on the reverse of which is a captive woman, hanging her mournful head, and the inscription is Judæa. She is there depictured, as by the master-hand, in Lam. i. 1-4; and in the 137th Psalm, where the daughter of Babylon, and the captive daughter of Jerusalem, are beautifully contrasted. But the woman, the city now represented, is of heavenly origin, " whose builder and maker is God;" of which “ Christ is the corner-stone, the new, the heavenly Jerusalem, the mother of us all.” (Matth. xvi. 18; Gal. iv. 26, 27; 1 Cor. iii. 9, &c.; 2 Cor. v. 1-3, vi. 16; Eph. ii. 19–22, iv. 12, 16; 1 Tim. iii. 15; 1 Pet. ii. 3, 7, 10; Heb. iii. 6, xi. 10, xii. 22; Rev. iii. 12, xxi. 2.) These quotations prove beyond doubt, that she is the Church of Christ, of pure heavenly origin, and placed upon the earth in her infant form, when it pleased God to bless with religion our first parents ; and, when they were expelled from Paradise, to support their hopes, and those of their posterity, by the promise of a Redeemer, the offspring of the woman, who should“ bruise the serpent's head." The imagery which in this apocalyptic vision is seen to decorate her, is grand and sublime. No earthly material is employed to clothe or adorn her; she is
i Ps. xlv. 12; cxxxvii. 8; 2 Kings xix. 21.