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they were nourished with manna from heaven. This divine protection is represented by the eagle's wings, in allusion to several passages of the Old Testament, in which this figure is employed to illustrate the care of God over the ancient church in the desert. "Ye have seen," says God to Moses, "what I did unto Egypt, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you to myself." (Exod. xix. 4.) And Moses, in his eloquent song, declares: "He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness. He led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings; so the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange God with him.” (Deut. xxxiii. 10—12.)
We have not yet arrived at that part of this book in which we shall most naturally be called upon to explain the commencement and the termination of this noted and often repeated period of twelve hundred and sixty years. It will be sufficient on the present occasion to observe what we shall hereafter prove, that the only two probable years for commencing them, and the only two concerning which there is much diversity of sentiments in the students of the holy volume, are the years 606 and 756. If with the majority of commentators, we embrace the former opinion, the church will come out of the wilderness, and the millennium will commence in 1866. If we be led to prefer the latter, it will be deferred till 2016. I speak generally, without entering into those particular inquiries that I shall feel it a duty hereafter to make, when these dates are more explicitly examined before you. At any rate, I doubt not that in this very house, long, very long before, in the course of nature, it can crum
ble into ruins, will the millennial glories of the church be displayed, and a degree of holiness, of knowledge, of sacred joy, be here experienced by crowded congregations, of which we can have little idea while we are still in the wilderness state.
During this period, the vision represented war in heaven, that is, in the external and visible church, as it already has been explained to you. "Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven: and the great dragon was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." Michael has before been mentioned in Dan. xii. 1. and Jude ix. He is one of the principal archangels: I do not suppose there is any probability in the sentiment supported by Horsley, that he is the Redeemer. He contends with the enemy of God, and overcomes him. The general interpretation of this passage I regard as correct; that it refers to the glorious Reformation, when in so many countries, the real cause of Christ triumphed; the heavenly forces were victorious; the power of truth prevailed, notwithstanding the subtle and furious opposition of the prince of darkness: and the dragon, animating the beast, "was cast out of heaven into the earth;" lost his spiritual power over the minds of men, and was made to depend upon his earthly power alone for the maintainance of his ty
There was joy among the glorified on this event: They rejoiced that Satan, "the accuser of the pious," who misrepresented their characters, their actions, their motives; who endeavoured to hinder their usefulness, was cast out. They declare what was the mode whereby this victory was obtained over Satan;
not by human wisdom and power, but " by the blood of the Lamb," through faith in the Redeemer, as the only atoning sacrifice," and by the word of their testimony," through the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, and their open profession of it; and their readiness to lay down their lives in the cause of Jesus, rather than renounce his truths.
But while for this victory all heaven is called upon to rejoice, a wo is pronounced upon the inhabitants of the earth, the carnal and worldly-minded, for the rage of Satan was augmented, because he knew "that he had but a short time :" the period that is to elapse from the reformation in the sixteenth century to the termination of the one thousand two hundred and sixty years being short, in comparison with the time in which he led the nations captive at his plea
He therefore persecuted the woman, the church,and "cast out of his mouth water as a flood after her, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood." This represents the heresies and errors which in so many instances succeeded to the reformation; and which were to be expected among men who had suddenly been brought from that spiritual darkness and slavery, in which they were educated.
But the church was not destroyed; "the earth helped the woman;" the worldly-minded and unholy, from various motives, as in the case of Henry VIII. and a thousand others, aided the triumphs of religion, and rendered the attempts of Satan unavailing.
The dragon, thus disappointed, "went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of
Jesus Christ." This verse probably alludes to the same calamities and furious assaults of Satan, that are to be made on some part of the church at the termination of the one thousand two hundred and sixty years. The event will at once throw light upon this and upon the slaying of the witnesses.
1. While you contemplate the beauty and glory of the church, inquire whether you are living members of it. I do not ask whether you belong to its external communion; you are taught by this chapter, as you are by the whole word of God, that notwithstanding this, you may perish for ever. But has the Sun of Righteousness risen upon your souls, with healing in his wings? Are you clothed with the garments of salvation? Have you that spiritual-mindedness which distinguishes all the real followers of the Redeemer? Is the gospel your crown, and do you obey it? Are you built upon the doctrine of the apostles, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone? Do you respond in your affections and desires to the glorified, and rejoice in the extension of the Saviour's kingdom? Are you individually engaged in the holy warfare with Satan and the enemies of the Saviour? Are his blood, his word, and his Spirit, the weapons on which you rely for success? Happy for you, if this be your character; you are then under the protection of Providence: though not yet caught up to the throne of the Eternal, yet "your life is hid with Christ in God," and can never be wrested from you; Satan may assail you, yet you will ever find that greater is he that is in you, than they that are against you; and you shall at last be brought to share in the victories of Jesus.
2. But ye, who in any manner, by sneers, by re
proaches, by misrepresentations of the pious, endeavour to retard the growth of the Saviour's kingdom, behold in Satan your model. It is he, whom you imitate; it is he whom you delight by your conduct; it is he whose doom you must undergo, and whose fate you must share, if your character and conduct be not changed. Is he so good a master, so kind a friend, that for him you will renounce the God who made you? the Saviour who died for you? Oh ! in time be wise: shake off this disgraceful servitude, and devote yourselves to Him whose kingdom must at last prevail; and who deserves the warmest attachment of your hearts, the uninterrupted service of your lives!