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in the figurative language of Scripture, is said to fight against Satan in behalf of the Church, is called Michael, the import of whose name is who-like-God. By some commentators he is supposed to be the Messiah himself. It is difficult to concede this; but certainly he fights under the banner of Christ, who is the head of the Church, not only on earth, but in heaven, whither the power of his creation and of his redemption is said to extend, and where angels and principalities are subjected to him, (Eph. i. 10; iii. 15; Phil. ii. 10; Col. i. 16—20.) Thus there are two rebellions against his name and power, the one in heaven, the other on earth. Both are comprehended in Milton's sublime

poem. The narration contained in the parenthesis shows us, more expressly than any other passages of scripture, the formidable power of the enemy of mankind, and the divine protection that we may obtain against it.

Ver. 15, 16. And the serpent cast out of his mouth, &c.] Overwhelming calamity is often represented by the sacred writers as a torrent or flood of water, bearing down all before it; from this extreme danger, however, the favour of God delivers his servants. (Ps. cxxiv. ; Isa. xvii. 12; Jer. xii. 5.) Such a flood the adversary now raises against the Church of Christ; the waves and torrents of worldly power, stirring up the madness of the rulers, and of the people against the Lord, and against his anointed. Ps. ii.; Ixxxix. 9, 10; Rev. xvii. 15.) Such were the persecutions under the heathen emperors of Rome, under the last and most formidable of which, (the Dioclesian,) the Christian religion, almost subdued, was wonderfully delivered by earthly resources, first, in the refuge afforded to the harassed Christians by the barbarians, (Euseb. de Vit. Constant.

lib. ii. c. 53.) and at length more signally and effectually by the emperor Constantine himself, being induced to support their interest, in order to strengthen his own against the common enemy; for the princes opposed to him were persecutors of the Christians.

In the western division of the empire allotted to Constantius Chlorus, the Father of Constantine, the Christians obtained an earlier respite from the severities of this persecution than in the other divisions, in consequence of which they had greatly increased in estimation and influence at the time when Constantine succeeded to that throne; (Eusebius de Martyr. Palestin. c. 3;) and being joined by those who had taken shelter among the barbarians, they formed a large, united, and resolute body, which it was the interest of the new emperor, now saluted as such by his army, to conciliate and attach; and an edict in their favour followed this transaction; and a standard of the cross was carried before his victorious army. But whether this conduct of Constantine, which delivered the Christians from apparent destruction, was the result of his political interest only, or of a miraculous vision of a cross, followed by a dream, in which Christ exhorted him to adopt this measure,--whether it was of earthly or heavenly production,-has been a subject of historical debate from that time to this." I will avow myself satisfied on this head, by a perusal of Eusebius's Life of Constantine. written by a Christian bishop, and is professedly a: panegyric, at the beginning of which the writer announces that he will omit the mention of the greater part of his actions, confining his narration to those which lead to piety and virtue. Yet it is very extraordinary, that in this narration we very seldom

| The reader may see it ably and candidly discussed by Mosheim and his learned translator, in his Ecclesiastical History, cent. iv.ch. 1.

• Lib. i. c. xi.

This was

meet with any examples of the emperor's faith in Christ, or of such virtues as are accounted purely Christian, and these only in the latter period of his life. And referring to the edicts, speeches, and letters of the emperor,-a man supposed to have been favoured with personal communication from Christ, -we are surprised at the very rare mention of his Saviour's name, though he frequently magnifies with great piety and zeal, the only supreme God, in opposition to the Pagan deities. So that his religion appears, at the time of his supposed conversion, to be that of Deism, with little or no addition of Christian belief. But, is this consistent with the profession of one who had formed his religion on a miraculous intercourse with the Redeemer? Or, can we suppose otherwise than that he made this profession to be believed by others, though he had no conviction of it himself? This will account for his deferring the sacrament of baptism to the latest period of his life, when it is not improbable that he may have died a convert to the faith. His own words, addressed to the bishops, will show, that before that period, he had not accounted himself a true member of the Church. (Lib. iv. c. 62.) Here is sufficient proof, that the relief of the Christians from the overwhelming violence of imperial persecution, was the result rather of earthly politics, than immediate heavenly interference, and that in this respect, it has fulfilled that part of prophecy now under our consideration. The arch-fiend, thus foiled in his attempts against the Church, renews the war against the remnant of the woman's seed, as will be detailed in the ensuing chapters.

In my exposition of the symbol of the great fiery dragon, of this present chapter, many years ago, I found myself opposed to the interpretation generally received, supported by the most able and learned commentators, and derived from the ingenious Joseph Mede. They understood it to be fulfilled exclusively in the pagan persecuting power of Imperial Rome.

As I had formed my opinion upon the most simple and plain deductions that I could acquire, by comparing this part of the prophecy with itself, and with other similar passages in scripture, and finding that the general opinion could not be maintained under such an examination, I assigned my reasons for dissent. And as I cannot express them in a less compass, or to better effect, I shall here repeat them in the same words :

Where an interpretation is expressly given in the vision, as in ch. i. 20; v. 6,9; xvii. 7, &c.; that interpretation must be used as the key to the mystery, in preference to all interpretations suggested by the imagination of man. Now in the 9th verse of this chapter such an interpretation is presented; the dragon is there expressly declared to be “that ancient serpent,” (apxaloc, o at åpx?,) called “the Devil;” known by the name of Aaßodoç in the Greek, and of Satan in the Hebrew; « who deceiveth the whole world." Here are his names, and his acknowledged character. No words can more completely express them.

No Roman emperor, nor succession of emperors, can answer to this description. The same dragon appears again in ch. xx. 2, and (as it were, to prevent mistake) he is there described in the very same words. But this re-appearance of the same dragon is in a very late period of the apocalyptic history, long after the expiration of the 1260 days, or years, and even after the wild beast and false prophet (who derive their power from the dragon during this period) are come to their end, (ch. xix. 20.) And the dragon is upon the scene long after these times, and continues in action even at the end of another long period, a period of a thousand years, (ch. xx. 7.) He there pursues bis ancient artifices, “ deceiving the nations,” even till his final catastrophe, in ch. xx. 10, when the warfare of the Church is finished. Can this dragon then be an emperor of Rome? or any race or dynasty of emperors? Can he be any other than that ancient and eternal enemy of the Christian Church, who in this, as in all other scriptural accounts, is represented as the original contriver of all the mischief which shall befall it? In this drama, he acts the same consistent part, from beginning to end. He is introduced to early notice, as warring against the Church, (ch. ii. 10, 13;) as possessing a seat, or throne of power, in a great city inimical to the Christians; (ch. ii. 24;) as the author of doctrines corruptive of religion, which are called “ the depths of Satan.” The evils brought on the Church under the trumpets, particularly the third and fifth, are ascribed to him. In the succeeding conflicts, the Church is attacked by his agents; by the wild beast and false prophet, (ch. xiii.) who derive their power from him; and at length he himself is described, as leading the nations against the camp of the saints, (ch. xx. 9.) Nothing appears more plain than the meaning of this symbol. The only appearances which may seem to favour the application of it to Imperial Rome are, the seven crowned heads, and the ten horns of the dragon. But the number seven is expressive of great universality; and although seven heads, or seven mountains, are in another prophecy applied to Rome in a particular sense, which may properly designate that city, yet they have a much more extended and general signification, expressive of the immense influence of Satan in the councils of this world. In a particular sense also, the seven

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