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therton, in Yorkshire, and Mofes Lowman, each of whom has written a treatise on the Apocalypfe; and still nearer our own times, Thomas Newton, late bishop of Bristol, in his Differtations on Prophecies, published in 1767; Samuel Halifax, late Bishop of Glocefter, and Richard Hurd, prefent Bishop of Worcester, in their Sermons at Lincoln's Inn Lectures.


Of the Woman hid in the Wilderness.

A third view of Chrift's faithful followers is


given us in Rev. xii. 6. and 14. "And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath 66 a place prepared of God, that they should "feed her there a thousand two hundred and "threefcore days."-" And to the woman were "given two wings of a great eagle, that she "might fly into the wilderness, into her place; "where fhe is nourished for a time, and times, " and half a time, from the face of the ferpent." The woman reprefents the Church of Chrift, confidered as a community or collective body; as the feed of the woman reprefents the individual members of that community. Her flight to the wilderness is an allufion to the departure of

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of Ifrael out of Egypt. When they were delivered from the oppreffion of Pharaoh, called the great dragon, they were led into the wildernefs, of which God fays, "I have carried thee as on eagles wings, to myself." So the church, after her deliverance from the persecution of the Pagan Raman empire, called the red dragon, fet out for the wilderness; that is, as the vifible church declined from the doctrines and precepts of Chriftianity, the true church of Chrift gradually retired from the view of men, till at length, when the visible church had avowedly fubmitted to the government of Antichrift, the true church of Chrift, confidered as a community, wholly disappeared. She remains in that state 1260 days, and these are the fame in which the witneffes prophecy, and the beast reigns.

The ftate of the church in the wilderness conveys this idea," That the church as a community "or body politic, during the period mention"ed, fhall be invisible in the world," juft as Ifrael, during their abode in the wilderness, had no manner of intercourse with other nations, and therefore as a people were unknown. The church is formed into a community, by ties external and internal, "there is one body and one "Spirit," Eph. iv. 4. The external ties are government, doctrine, and ordinances; "there is

66 one


"one Lord, one faith, one baptifm." The internal tie is the Spirit of God, which animates the great Head of the church, and every real member of his myftical body; fo that " one "God and Father of all, who is above all, is "likewife through all, and in all." Now, in the ftate of the church in the wilderness, the former tie is diffolved, the latter only fubfifts. She is visible in that state as a community, only to the eyes of that God who is "through all, and in "all." This ftate of the church may be confidered on the one hand as a calamity, in as far as she appears no longer with that fpiritual beauty which adorned her during the perfecution fhe experienced from pagan Rome, nor with that outward profperity which he enjoyed upon her deliverance. But on the other hand, it may be confidered as a bleffing, on account of the advantages that refult from it; for "her place " is prepared of God," that is, he has appointed and foretold this ftate; fo that the event correfponding with the prediction, ought to ftrengthen the faith of men, which might otherwise be fhaken by her low condition. Again, she is there "fed of God." As Ifrael, fed in the wilderness by the immediate hand of God, without the ordinary means, learned " that man liveth not by "bread alone, but by every word that proceed"eth out of the mouth of God;" fo the indi

vidual members of the church in the wildernefs, fed by the word and Spirit of God, without the outward ordinances, (which as difpenfed in the visible church were defiled), learned that intimate dependence upon, and converse with the Deity, in which the life and spirit of religion confift. This is a most important leffon; for we fhall find, that the decline and ruin of real religion, among the generality of mankind in every period, arofe from their taking the body for the fpirit. The religion which Noah communicated pure to his posterity, was fome time after loft among the nations. Their zeal in forming and worshipping images, as reprefentations of the Deity, withdrew their attention and affection from the Deity himself. The Jewish church was conftituted pure, and received clearer views of the truth than Noah; but even after they were weaned from image worship, a zealous attachment to thofe outward ordinances which God had enjoined, together with ceremonies of their own invention, made them lofe fight of the spirit of their religion. Hence God reproves them: "To what purpose is the multitude of your fa"crifices unto me, faith the Lord," Ifa. i. 11. The Christian church was formed not only a pure but a fpiritual fociety, fet free from thofe types and fhadows which veiled the truth in


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in the Jewish church, exprefsly told, "That "God is a Spirit, and they that worship him "muft worship him in fpirit and in truth." Yet n twithstanding thefe advantages, the fpirit of religion began to decline, from an idolatrous veneration for the outward ordinances, which were only the vehicles of it. In procefs. of time, these were multiplied by ceremonies of human invention, till at length they formed that mafs of impieties, puerilities, and abfurdities which conftitutes the Popish worship; a mafs which may be fitly compared to an overgrown body, dreffed out with ornaments of human invention, without one fpark of the vital spirit. Seeing then how prone mankind have been in every age to mistake the body for the fpirit of religion, withdrawing the body or the ordinances of religion for a feafon, muft appear a mean worthy of divine wifdom to counteract the diforder. Another advantage refulting from the ftate of the church in the wildernefs is, that "fhe


is fafe from the face of the ferpent." The grand adverfary reprefented by the ferpent, first directed his fury against the progress of the gofpel, left Chriftianity fhould be fpread in the world, and exerted for this end the force of the civil and military government, by his deputies the Pagan Roman Emperors. But in process of time, a regenerate fon of the church, Conftan



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