Last Updated on : Saturday, November 22, 2014
DOWNLOAD EUREKA volumes in PDF: Eureka downloads page
AN EXPOSITION OF THE APOCALYPSE
The Earth helped the Woman
26. "The Earth Helped the Woman."
"And the Serpent cast out of his mouth after the Woman water as a flood, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood.
16. And the earth ran with help for 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 enraged against the woman, and went away to wage war with the remnants of her seed who keep the commandments of the Deity, and hold the testimony of the anointed Jesus" - Verses 15-17.
The Dragon, the Serpent, the Diabolos, and the Satan, in this twelfth chapter, are all terms expressive of the political, or civil, military, and spiritual, "enmity" in organized activity against the woman and her seed. When the political Organization that seeks her destruction is wholly pagan, then it is represented as "a Great Fiery Red Dragon" -ver. 3: if still pagan, but not wholly so in all departments of the state, then it is no longer the "great fiery red dragon," but simply the Diabolos, as in ver. 12; and if no longer pagan, but a subtle and seductive power, wise in its own conceit, and invested with supreme authority, it is indicated by "the Serpent" and "the Dragon," as in ver. 15,16. This identity is established by the testimony concerning the flood of water, which states that it issued both from the mouth of the Serpent and the mouth of the Dragon: now the flood being one, not two, the Serpent and the Dragon in the verses at the head of this section must represent the same power.
But the Dragon and his angels were cast out of the political heaven, or Roman government, "and their place was found no more in the heaven;" nevertheless, in the last four verses of this chapter we find the Dragon in power, and exercising it vengefully for 1260 years against the woman, and making war with the remnants of her seed. How is this? It was the pagan constitution of power enthroned in Rome and Italy that was cast out, and has reappeared no more to this day. But after the battles of Adrianople and Chrysopolis all power over the Roman Habitable came to be vested in Constantine. He was the sole imperial bishop of the Dragon empire; which, by the revolution he had consummated, was transformed from the Pagan Dragon, into the Catholic Dragon, dominion. It is this Catholic Serpent and Dragon that figures in the concluding verses of this chapter, as well as in the thirteenth and twentieth chapters of the Apocalypse, which has no more to do with the Great Fiery Red Dragon after ch. 12:13.
The throne of the Pagan Dragon was Rome; but when the Dragon-power came to be vested in Constantinople he established a New Polity in a New Capital, which after himself he styled, the City of Constantine, or Constantinople. In the period in which the woman became a fugitive, Constantinople, previously called Byzantium, became the capital of the Roman world. It has retained its sovereign rank over 1540 years. Its founder ascribed his resolution of building it to the infallible and eternal decrees of Divine Wisdom; and in one of his laws, he declares that it was in obedience to the commands of God, that he laid the everlasting foundations of Constantinople. His choice of Byzantium for a city is said, by contemporary writers, to have been owing to a vision which appeared to him while he slept within the walls of that city. Its tutelar genius, a venerable woman sinking under the weight of years and infirmities, was suddenly transformed into a blooming female, whom his own hands adorned with all the symbols of imperial greatness. The emperor awoke, interpreted the auspicious omen, and obeyed, without hesitation, the supposed will of heaven. On the day on which the foundation of the city was laid, Constantine on foot, with a lance in his hand, traced out the boundary of the destined capital. It was of great extent, which his assistants observing, ventured to remark, that he had already exceeded the most ample measure of a great city. "I shall still advance," replied Constantine, "till he, the invisible guide who marches before me, thinks proper to stop." Whether or not the emperor did see the vision of his dream, it is a fact as already sh6wn, that this twelfth chapter was generally supposed by anti-pagans of that day to refer to the events of the life of Constantine. Hence, it is more than probable that the dream he professes to have had was not a vision of his own, but a fiction into which he introduced the two women of this chapter, the one distressed, inferior, and persecuted, the other blooming and decorated with the sun, the moon and the stars, the symbols of imperial greatness, with which "his own hands adorned her;" and for whom he determined, dream or no dream, to found a new capital.
'Water as a flood" is said to have been cast Out of the Serpent's mouth after the woman to sweep her away. Water flowing like a river indicates an army or body of men in motion. That water symbolises people is evident from Apoc. 17:15. Hence, when the water is in motion the people are moving; when it flows like a river the body of people moves In a certain direction; when the river overflows its banks, the army crosses its frontiers and invades another nation; when the water sweeps along like a flood, the army subdues and carries all before it; but when the earth opens and absorbs the flood, then the operations of the army are spent without effecting its purpose; and if the water of the river be dried up, as in Apoc. 16:12, the power and independence of the people represented are destroyed. Some of these definitions are strikingly illustrated in Isaiah 8:7: "Behold," says the prophet, "Yahweh bringeth up upon them (the Jews) the waters of the river, the strong and mighty; even the king of Assyria and all his force. And he shall rise above all his channels, and shall go over all his banks; and he shall pass through Judah, overflowing and spreading; even to the neck shall he reach; and the extension of his wings (the wings of his army) shall be over the full breadth of thy land, 0 Immanuel!" The kingdom of Assyria was divided from that of Israel by the Euphrates, termed in Scripture "the river," and "the great river." Hence, it came to symbolize his power; so that when he invaded Israel, the waters of his river are said to have swelled over their banks, and flooded their country to so great an extent as to rise "to the neck," or capital, but without submerging it; so that it would be an overflowing invasion, which would recede without finally subjecting the nation.
The Mouth of the Serpent or Dragon is symbolical of the words, utterances and commands, proceeding from the power called Serpent or Dragon. The commands of a power are expressed or made audible and effective by the reigning administration of public affairs; and which holds a similar relation to the power that the mouth does to the brain of a man. Hence, "the Mouth of the Dragon, the Mouth of the Beast, and the Mouth of the False Prophet," are the governments of the powers signified by these symbols.
The Serpent and Dragon are said to have cast water as a flood out of their Mouth; that is, an army of pursuers was sent forth by order of the catholic government of Constantinople and Rome, to sweep the fugitive woman from among the living. The execution of this decree of extermination might have been successful, had not "the earth ran with help for the woman, and opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood." The Common Version says, "the earth helped the woman. "This is not incorrect; but it is not as exact as it might be, and as the events represented justify. The word boetheo, signifies properly, "to run to the aid of those who cry for help." The woman in her flight was pursued, or persecuted by power, which caused her in her sufferings to cry aloud. Her cries fell upon the ears of the earthiest of earthborns, who ran to and fro dealing the most terrific vengeance upon her foes. The ferocious purpose of the catholic power encountering this most unexpected resistance was defeated; the earth swallowed up the wrath which expended itself upon it, and the woman was saved.
Such, then, is the meaning, or "mystery," of the form of words pre-sented in the prophecy. The Catholic Dragon, or Man of Sin power, in-corporate in the unbaptized episcopal emperor, Constantine, and in the ignorant and superstitious ecclesiastics whom he had associated with himself in synodical session, was the effluent pursuer of the woman, who rejected the traditions and commands of the tribunal which had arraigned and condemned her, and all her seed, as odious and pestilent heretics. Having lost their cause at Rome and Arles, the Anti-catholic Donatists had appealed for the last time to Constantine himself, who in A.D. 316, examined the whole affair at Milan, in the presence of the contending parties. The issue, as might be expected from the character of the judges, was not more favorable to the Donatists than the decisions of the previous councils, which were confirmed by the sentence he pronounced. Condemned by the Bishop of Rome, and by that bishop's imperial master, "this perverse sect," as they are styled by Mosheim, are said to have loaded the emperor with "the bitterest reproaches," and complained that Osius, bishop of Cordova, who was honored with his friendship, and was intimately connected with Caecilianus, had, by corrupt insinuations, engaged him to pronounce an unrighteous sentence. "Perhaps their complaint," says Gibbon, "was not without foundation, that the credulity of the emperor had been abused by the insidious arts of his favorite, Osius. The influence of falsehood and corruption might procure the condemnation of the innocent or aggravate the sentence of the guilty." Be this as it may, "the Dragon, the old serpent, incited to great wrathfulness by these irritating trials, which disturbed the serenity of the party in power, deprived the anti-catholic Donatists of their churches in Africa, drove their bishops into exile, and carried his resentment so far as to put some of them to death. This was the commence-ment of the Catholic Dragon's wrath against the woman, and of the war he waged against the remnants of her seed (verse 7). The immediate effect of these violent measures, were desperate commotions and tumults in Africa, as the Donatists were exceedingly influential and numerous in that wing of the great eagle. But these insurrections were regarded by them with the utmost detestation and abhorrence; and, therefore, though a persecuted people, we are not to attribute these popular uprisings in their defense to a spirit of recrimination in them against their "christian" oppressors. The Donatists Remnant had fled "into the wilderness" of Getulia that they might be "out of sight of the Serpent" - of "the first Christian emperor" and his catholic myrmidons, who had seized their property, exiled their teachers, and put some to death. Upon this, the Spirit of Deity stirred up the indignation of "the Earth"
- of those who, though neither catholics nor Donatists, had spirit enough to defend the oppressed against imperial and ecclesiastical tyranny, and that in their own irregular and violent way. This situation of affairs may be illustrated by the following supposition. Thus, Christadelphians where known are in very bad odor with "every name and denomination," against which they protest as the Anti-christian "Harlots and Abominations of the Earth." Suppose these were to lay aside all their animosities and strifes, and to combine to suppress and exterminate them with fire and sword; would not the "infidels," who have predilection for no sect, oppose force to force in their defence? There can be no doubt of it; and, though Christadeiphians deprecate, and would discountenance all violence in their behalf, the infidels, as in the first French Revolution, would make the quarrel with the oppressor their own; and the most horrible cruelties would probably be perpetrated upon the enemy under the pretence of assisting them. To a certain extent, such an event occurred in the epoch of the American revolution, when the infidel leaders of revolt against British tyranny in church and State, interposed between the episcopal church and the Baptists and other sects it was oppressing, and proclaimed an equality of rights for sects of every name. But they were not content with proclamations; they drew the sword, and watered the earth with blood for seven years, to establish it. Shall we charge the Baptists and Quakers of that day with appealing to the arbitrament of arms against the Established Church of England, because they, in common with others, obtained exemption from future whippings and incarcerations on account of their religious principles, by the triumph of revolutionary unbelievers? Even supposing that many Baptists and Quakers were found in the ranks of the insurgents, as no doubt there were, should we, therefore, condemn the Baptist and Quaker bodies as baptized in human gore? A community is not to be condemned as a murderer of its species, because of the delinquency of some of its adherents; if so, then most of the apostolic churches would have to be condemned as anti-christian. The case, however, is entirely altered where a sect, as the Catholic Anglo-Episcopal, in ts corporate capacity, condemns, imprisons, and puts to death as heretics, those who assert the imprescriptible and inalienable right of judging what is truth for themselves. Here the murder of "heretics" so-called, is the crime of the whole body; which, as in the case of individuals, will sooner or later suffer the just penalty of the Divine law. The case of the Donatists is parallel to our supposition. The indignation of the people was roused, and in the language of the prophecy, "the Earth ran with help to the Woman." The emperor and his party were alarmed, and Constantine endeavored by embassies and negotiations to allay the disturbances, but without effect.
Who are represented by "the Earth" in the period of the woman's flight into, or towards, the wilderness, will readily appear from the fol-owing account. The persecution of the servants and brethren of Christ by the Catholic Serpent at this juncture was acquiring strength, the flame of discord gathered force daily, and seemed to portend the approaching horrors of civil war. To prevent this, Constantine, having tried in vain every other method of accommodation, abrogated at last, by the advice of the governors of Africa, the laws he had enacted against the Donatists, and allowed to the people the full liberty of adhering to that party which they in their minds preferred. This state of tranquillity, which did not long continue, was brought about by a horrible confederacy of desperate ruffians who passed under the name of CIRCUMCELLIONS. These bands were composed of a set of furious, fearless and bloody men, formed of the rough and savage peasantry of the Numidian and Mauritanian villages, who were semi-pagans, and had been imperfectly reduced under the authority of the Roman laws. "This outrageous multitude," says Mosheim, "whom no prospect of sufferings could terrify, and who, upon urgent occasions, faced death itself with the most audacious temerity, contributed to render the sect of the Donatists (whose cause they espoused) an object of the utmost abhorrence (to the Catholics) though it cannot be proved, by any records of undoubted authority that the bishops of that faction (those at least who had any reputation for piety and virtue) either approved the proceedings or stirred up the violence of this odious rabble." This was truly "the unterrified," and unterrifiable, "democracy." This may be styled the spontaneous soldiery of the Donatists, extemporized by the urgency of their distress. These Circumcellions never failed to take up arms to defend them against their enemies. The imperial officers were usually sustained by a military force in the execution of the wrath of the Catholic Dragon, which issued like a sweeping flood from its Mouth; but it did not carry the woman away. It was sometimes successfully repelled. The blood of some Donatist teachers which had been shed by the imperialists, in-flamed the Circumeellions with an eager desire of revenge. By their own cruelty and rashness, the ministers of persecution sometimes provoked their fate; and the guilt of an accidental tumult precipitated them into despair and rebellion. The leaders of the Circumcellions assumed the title of CAPTAINS OF THE SAINTS. Their principal weapon, as they were in-differently provided with swords and spears, was a huge and weighty club, which they termed AN ISRAELITE; and the well-known sound of "Praise be to God," which they used as their war-cry, diffused consternation over the unarmed provinces of Africa. At first, their depredations were covered with the plea of necessity; but they soon exceeded the measure of subsistence, indulging without control their intemperance and avarice; burned the villages they had pillaged, and, in defiance of the Roman legions, reigned the licentious tyrants of the open country. The occupations of husbandry, and the administration of justice, were interrupted; and as the Circumcellions pretended to re- store the primitive equality of mankind, and to reform the abuses of civil society, they opened a secure asylum for slaves and debtors and all other refugees, who fled to their standard in crowds from their pursuers; or in the language of the prophecy, "the Earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood." When they were not resisted, they usually contented themselves with plunder, but the slightest opposition provoked them to acts of violence and murder; and some catholic priests, who had signalized their zeal, were tortured with the most refined and wanton barbarity. They engaged, and sometimes defeated, the provincial legions of the Dragon; and in the sanguinary action of Bagai, when the troops of Constans were sent against the Donatists, as a flood from the Dragon's Mouth, the Circumcellions attacked in open field, but with unsuccessful valor, an advanced guard of the imperial cavalry. Those who were taken prisoners died without a murmur, either by the-sword, the axe, or the fire; and the measures of retaliation were multiplied in rapid proportion, which aggravated the horrors of rebellion, and excluded the hope of mutual forgiveness.
Such disorders are the natural effects of religious tyranny; but the rage of the Circumcellions was enflamed by a frenzy of a very extraordinary kind. Many of them were possessed with a horror of life, and the desire of martyrdom; and they deemed it of little moment by what means, or by what hands, they perished, if their conduct was sanctified by "the intention of devoting themselves to the glory of the true faith." Such was "the Earth," and such the manner in which she "opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the Catholic Dragon cast out of his mouth," in voluntary defence of the woman's seed in the African wing of the Great Eagle.
But the defensive operation of "the Earth" was not restricted to the African provinces of the empire. The peasantry of Paphlagonia was inspired by the same spirit. During the reign of Constantius, son and successor of Constantine, when the catholic Trinitarians and catholic Arians unsheathed the sword of the flesh against one another to arbitrate the rights of Homoousion and Homojousion (*) to the claim of orthodoxy, the Novatians, another remnant of the woman's anti-catholic seed, became obnoxious to the Arian emperor and patriarch of Constantinople. The latter distinguished pietist, whose name was Macedonius, being informed that a large district of Paphlagonia was almost entirely inhabited by the Novatians, resolved in fiery excess of zeal, either to convert them to Arian catholicity, or to exterminate them; and as he distrusted on this occasion the efficacy of an ecclesiastical mission, he determined to vomit forth a legionary flood to sweep them from the earth. To this end, he ordered a body of four thousand legionaries to march against these unoffending dissenters, and to reduce the territory of Mantinium under his patriarchal authority. "The Serpent cast out of his mouth water like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood." But the armed flood did not accomplish the purpose of the Constantinopolitan government. It was foreshown in the prophecy that it should not succeed; for it was Providentially arranged that the flood should be ineffectually expended upon the earth, as it is written, "the earth ran with help for the woman, and opened her mouth, and drank up the flood which the Dragon cast out of his mouth." And so it came to pass; for the Paphlagonian peasants, animated by despair and religious fury, boldly encountered the invaders of their country; and though many of them were slain, the Serpent's legions were vanquished by an irregular multitude armed only with scythes and axes; and except a few that escaped by flight, thousands of soldiers were left dead upon the field of battle. The Emperor Julian, who succeeded Constantius, an apostate from this sanguinary catholicism to paganism, speaking of his predecessor's reign, in his fifty-third epistle, says, "many were imprisoned and persecuted and driven into exile. Whole troops of those who were styled 'heretics,' were massacred, particularly at Cyzicus and Samosata. In Paphlagonia, Bithynia, Galatia, and many other provinces, towns and villages were laid waste and utterly destroyed."
After the death of Constantine, in the division of his empire between his three sons, Italy and Africa were allotted to Constans. He sent Macanus and Paulus into Africa to heal, if possible, this "deplorable schism," as Mosheim terms it; and to engage the Donatists to conclude a peace. The efforts of Constans to induce them to coalesce with the catholic church were strenuous, but ineffectual. Force and corruption were the royal arguments employed for their conversion by these imperial commissioners. The chief bishop among the Donatists opposed all these methods of reconciliation with the utmost vehemence; and his example was followed by the rest of his brethren. The idea was odious to them of a coalition with those, who in the Diocletian persecution and distress, in order to avoid martyrdom, had delivered up the Holy Scriptures, the best gift of the Deity to man. This zeal for the word was a remarkable characteristic of the Woman's Seed. It underlaid the whole controversy between the Catholics and Dissenters of the period. The Catholics very lightly esteemed the Scriptures; and were daily with-drawing the people's attention from them more and more, until at length they came to legislate against the use of them by "the laity" at all. Not so their opponents, with whom the sacred writings have always been a tower of strength against their enemies. To the fugitive woman was Providentially committed the custody of the Divine Oracles; for it is the remnants of her seed which are testified to have held the testimony of the anointed Jesus, which is to be found only in the Holy Scriptures. No wonder, therefore, that these worthy and excellent people turned a deaf ear to every overture of reconciliation with the word-neglecting adherents of the tyrannical church of Constans. The cruelties of Macanus and Paulus only exasperated "the earth", and widened the breach. The Circumcellions, provoked by their arbitrary proceedings, wreaked their vengeance on the persecutors of the Donatists by assassinations and massacres executed with unrelenting fury. "The Dragon was wroth with the woman," when he saw his projects baffled. He, therefore sent Macanus against them with "a flood". The Earth encountered the flood in the battle of Bagnia, A.D. 345, in which, however, the Circumcellions were defeated. This "servant of God," as Gratus, bishop of Carthage styled Macanus, now gave vent to the fury and rage of the Dragon, and indulged in crimes of deeper dye than he had yet perpetrated before victory. There was now no safety for the woman but in flight. Optatus of Milevi, a contemporary writer, whose testimony, Mosheim says, is beyond exception in this matter, informs us that a few of the Donatists submitted; "the greatest part of them saved themselves by flight;" numbers were sent into banishment. Among them were DONATUS, whom they called "the Great," on account of his learning and virtue; and many of them were punished with the utmost severity. "During these troubles," says Dr. Mosheim, "which continued nearly thirteen years, several steps were taken against the Donatists, which the equitable and impartial will be at a loss to reconcile with the dictates of humanity and justice; nor indeed do the catholics themselves deny the truth of this assertion."
The following passage from a Donatist writer would seem to indicate that they discerned the apocalyptic sign of their time. In treating of the suffering of Marculus, he says, "Behold suddenly the polluted flood of the Macarian persecution burst forth from the tyrannical church of king Constans, and two beasts being sent to Africa from thence, to wit, Macarius and Paulus, a most horrible and cruel ecclesiastical war was proclaimed, that a christian people should be compelled by the naked swords of soldiers, by the standards of Serpents or Dragons (draconum proesentibus signis) and by the blasts of trumpets, to unite with Traditors!" Compare this passage with the 15th and 16th verses of this chapter. How striking the resemblance! The Donatists, doubtless, discerned that "the polluted flood of the Macarian persecution which burst forth from the tyrannical church of king' Constans," was the "water like a flood the serpent or dragon cast out of his Mouth.', From this, and other instances, I doubt not, that among the woman's seed there have been in all ages some who were able to discern the apocalyptic signs specially pertaining to the times in which they lived. They might not have been able to expound the apocalypse as a whole, but they could discern sufficient to answer the question. "Watchman, what of the night?" Let us be thankful, that the believer of the truth is also able, at this crisis of the woman's history, to discern the signs of these times; so that when the Ancient of Days comes in as a thief upon an intoxicated and insane generation like ours, he will find us with our lamps trimmed and our lights brightly burning, ready to go out to meet Him.
"And the Dragon was enraged against the woman". These calamities triumphed over them until A.D. 361, when the "earthquake" of Apoc. 8:5, placed the anti-catholic nephew of Constantine, "Julian the Apostate," so called, upon the Constantinopolitan throne of the Roman world. This imperial pagan proved more humane and merciful to the Donatists than his "christian" (?) predecessors. He permitted them to return to their country, and restored them to the enjoyment of their former liberty. This revolution so far renewed their vigor, that they recruited their wasted ranks by bringing over, in a short time, the majority of the provincials to their interests. Gratian published several edicts against them, and in A. D. 377, deprived them of their houses of assembly, and prohibited all their meetings public and private. But the fury of the Circumcellions, and the apprehension of intestine tumults, prevented the vigorous execution of these laws. This appears from the numerous conventicles they possessed in Africa towards the conclusion of this fourth century ,to which were attached not less than four hundred bishops. About this time a celebrated, or rather, notorious ecclesiastic entered the lists against them. This was that veritable saint of the Serpent calendar, equally glorified by Greek, Latin, and Protestant, historically known as St. Augustine, bishop of Hippo. He attacked them in every way; and as he was a hot-headed and active spirit, he animated against them the whole antichristian world with its imperial court. "The catholic bishops of Africa," says Mosheim, "animated by the exhortations, and conducted by the counsels of this zealous prelate, exerted themselves with the utmost vigor in the destruction of those seditious sectaries (the Earth-assisted Woman) whom they justly looked upon, not only as troublesome to the (catholic) church by their obstinacy (as he calls her faithfulness to "the testimony of the anointed Jesus") but as a nuisance to the State (or Dragon) by the brutal soldiery ("the earth") which they employed in their cause (though on p.124,(*) viii. he says, "the Donatists regarded the Circumcellions with the utmost detestation and abhorrence"). Accordingly, deputies were sent, A.D. 404, from the council of Carthage to the emperor Honorius to request that the laws enacted against heretics by the preceding emperors might have force against the Donatists, who denied that they belonged to the heretical tribe also to desire that bounds might be set to the barbarous fury of the Circumcellions." In acceding to this request, the Dragon-emperor imposed a fine upon all the Donatists who refused to return into the bosom of the catholic church, and sent their bishops and teachers into banishment. In A.D. 405, new and severer laws were enacted against them under the title of Acts of Uniformity; and as the lay magistrates (the earth) were too tardy in the execution of vengeance for "christian priests," the council of Carthage, A.D. 407, sent deputies a second time to the emperor, desiring that certain persons might be appointed to execute the new edicts with vigor and impartiality, in other words, without mercy. This was granted also. But the Donatists, though much shaken by these repeated assaults of the Dragon, were still "nourished" and fed" by the Providence of the Deity. Their strength revived A.D. 408, aftet Stilico had been put to death by the order of Honoriits; and gained an accession of vigor the following year, in which the emperor published a law in favor of liberty of conscience, and prohibited all compulsion in matters of religion. This law, however, was not of long continuance. There is nothing the catholic clergy detest so much as liberty to think, speak, and act, contrary to their traditions. This has been characteristic of them in all ages. It is a characteristic of the craft of all orders, though times and circumstances repress its manifestation when things are not convenient or propitious. Liberty to discuss freely the demerits of the Traditorial Church was terribly annoying to those who justified the delivering up of the Holy Scriptures to be burned as the redemption price of their nondeliverance. These word-despising catholic traitors would let the Dragon government have no rest until the edict of toleration was repealed; and the blood of the Witnesses of Jesus was caused to flow afresh. The law was therefore abrogated at the earnest and repeated solicitation of the council of bishops which met at Carthage, A.D. 419; and Marcellinus, the tribune, was sent by Honorius into Africa with a flood
of legionaries effluent of the Dragon's Mouth. Full power was given to him to sweep the woman away; and so to bring to a conclusion, or to extinguish, the testimony of these faithful witnesses against that DIABOLICAL AND SATANIC APOSTASY, blasphemously styled "the Holy Apostolic Catholic Church." Who can but be penetrated with disgust and horror at the villainous and execrable cruelty of the clergy of this and after ages! It was evident that the emperor was reluctant to persecute the Donatists. But, though an emperor, he doubtless had reason to fear, lest in shielding the lives of the innocent, he might forfeit his own at the bidding of his episcopal allies. Nothing but extermination seems to have satisfied these hissing serpents and dragon-speaking priests. How thankful ought we to be, that the Deity has put it into the heart of "the Earth," to open her mouth against the execution of sanguinary vengeance upon the believers and advocates of the truth by the generation of vipers whose vested interests are opposed to it.
Marcellinus, by imperial commission, instituted a judicial investigation at Carthage. The trial lasted three days, and, as might be expected, judgment was given in favor of the dominant clergy. The catholic bishops present were 286; and those of the Donatists 279. The latter, like Paul, appealed to the emperor, but without any favorable result. The terrors of this persecution caused many to apostatize to the catholics; while the severest penalties were inflicted on those who continued to "obey the commandments of the Deity, and to hold the testimony of the anointed Jesus." Fines, banishment, and confiscation of goods, were the ordinary punishments visited upon the Donatists; and says Mosheim, "the 'pain of death was inflicted upon such as surpassed the rest in perverseness, and were the seditious ringleaders of that stubborn faction." Some avoided these penalties by flight, and others by concealing themselves; and the malice of their enemies has not failed to blacken their memories by imputing to them the crime of suicide In the meantime, the Circumcellion-Earth again "ran with help for the woman," and interposed between her and her oppressors to ward off the execution of the sentence against her seed. They ran up and down through the African wing of the Great Eagle in the most outrageous manner, committing acts of great cruelty upon the catholics, and defending themselves by force of arms.
But, while the remnant of the woman's seed, which, in those
trying times, "kept the commandments of the Deity, and
held the testimony of the anointed Jesus," were thus
witnessing unto death, and by their witnessing, tormenting
them that dwelt upon the Catholic terrene, they had a powerful
and influential intercessor within the veil, whose eyes beheld
the ferocious wickedness of the Roman Serpent, and whose ears
were not inattentive to their prayers. It is not difficult
to conceive, that these prayers would be many, earnest and
fervent; for, having faith in God and in his word, they would
know that deliverance could come from Him alone. He had placed
them in the African Wing of the Great Eagle, to testify against
the Laodicean Apostasy in Church and State. This was a dangerous
mission, but it had to be done, and faithfully performed until
there should be no catholic power there to witness against.
This was their hope; but of the time when it should be broken
in Africa, and they delivered, they had no knowledge. All
they could do then was to "offer much incense upon the
golden altar before the throne" (Apoc. 8:3) - pray much, "contend
earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints," and
patiently wait for an answer to their earnest supplications,
which would "ascend before the Deity out of the hand" of
the incense-bearing angel of His presence.
"But the wounds", says Mosheim, "which this sect had received from the vigorous execution of the imperial laws, were so deep, that though it began to revive and multiply by the assistance of the Vandals, it could never regain its former strength and luster." They continued to enjoy the sweets of freedom as long as the Vandals reigned in Africa. These formidable barbarians were the Deity's messengers of wrath to punish the Trinitarian Catholics of the African Wing for the serpent ferocity with which they tormented his faithful witnesses. The scene, however, was greatly changed when the empire of the Vandals was overturned by the forces of Justinian, A.D. 534. Then, now nearly 1335 years ago, the African Wing was reannexed to the body of the Great Eagle, and the Donatist section of the Witnesses was brought into contact and collision again with the "Dragon, the old Serpent." They still continued a separate body, and not only retained their testimony, but toward the conclusion of the sixth century, and particularly from A.D. 591, defended their principles with renewed vigor, and were bold enough to proclaim the gospel publicly in the ears of the Romoousian Serpents themselves. Gregory, bishop of Rome, opposed these efforts with all the spirit and assiduity of the Antichrist, and tried various methods of putting them down; or, as Mosheim expresses it, "of depressing this faction which was pluming its wings anew, and aiming at the revival of those lamentable divisions which it had formerly excited in the church." From this time, however, they do not appear to have attracted the notice of ecclesiastics. The early subjection of Africa to the Mohammedans, will account for this. The mission of the Witnesses was not against Mohammedanism; but against Homoousian Blasphemy. When this was eradicated by the Saracens, the witnessing of the woman's seed was no longer required in Africa. As the Vandals favored Homoiousianism, which was the creed of Genseric, it is highly probable that they were from this time confounded with the Arians. The names of Arians and Manichaeans , although originally employed to designate sectaries of the class the apostle terms "false teachers privily bringing in damnable heresies" (2 Peter 2:1), they were afterwards used by the ignorant and malicious to distinguish the inhabitants of the mountains and valleys of the other wing of the Great Eagle, in after times known by the general terms Albigenses and Waldenses. In fact, all who repudiated the Bishop of Rome after he had been created a god by the Dragon-power, as the Antichrist, were denounced as Manichaeans, though they held nothing in common with those semi-pagans. Odious names imposed upon "heretics," so called, by catholic doctors and councils rarely expressed the truth concerning them. It is the Serpent's policy to call good things which are obnoxious to him and his sect by bad names. To bestow names expressive of the reality would be to speak the truth; and the highest authority has declared "that there is no truth in him" (John 8:44). Not being ignorant of this device, we are not to be hoodwinked by the foul names and hard speeches bestowed upon alleged "heretics" by popes, inquisitors, monks and doctors of "the church." These all being ignorant of what constitutes a saint, are more likely to style him an Arian or Manichaean(*), or by any other name that prejudice or malice may invent, than by one that truly and Scripturally represents him. "The saints of the Highest Ones" have been denounced as "heretics" by the ruling faction ever since the woman fled into the wilderness; and will doubtless continue to be until the times of the down-treading of the Holy City shall be fulfilled.
Thus, then, while the eleventh chapter exhibits the sackcloth witnessing of the woman's seed "before the god of the earth" for the truth of "the God of heaven" in the Alpine Wing of the Great Eagle (verses 4-13); this twelfth chapter, verses 14-17, represents her obedient and faithful remnant and protectors at war with the Serpent and Dragon of Constantinople and Rome, in the African Wing more especially, and before the Bishop of Rome was developed by the authority of the Constantinopolitan Serpent into the Supreme Pontiff of Antichristendom, apocalyptically styled "the god of the earth; and by Daniel, "a foreign god, a god of guardians, acknowledged by the king who does according to his will; a god whom his pagan ancestors did not know." The twelfth chapter concludes at the epoch in which history loses all trace of a people, whose testimony against the superstition by law established kept the African Wing of the Catholic Empire in an excited and tumult-uous condition to the great annoyance of all privileged bishops, priests, and deacons, who sought peace and comfort in high places for three hundred years. This brings us down to A.D. 612; or about five years after the Dragon had confirmed the gift of all heretics into the hand of the Bishop of Rome, who had been "acknowledged" by Justinian as a god over all the spiritual affairs of his empire, A.D. 533.
When the witnessing remnant had accomplished its mission against the Apostasy in Africa, the power of their oppressor, the Catholic Church, was broken there by the Saracens, as predicted in Apoc. 9:1-11. "The common granary of Rome and mankind" as the fertile and highly cultivated province is styled by Gibbon, was appropriated by the followers of Mohammed, who have possessed it, (Algiers excepted, and since A.D. 1830 occupied by the French) from Tangier to Tripoli, unto this day. Thus had been blotted out from the arena of their power and glory, the people who had become "drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus" (Apoc. 17:6); a fate richly deserved, and one which awaits the same class of superstitious savages in all of the other wing and body of the Great Eagle.
But the reader is not to suppose that the ferocity of the Catholic Dragon was confined to the seven fertile and populous provinces of the African Wing. All dissentients who protested against the imperial superstition in other provinces suffered as well as the Donatists. I have already referred to the case of the Novatians in Paphlagonia. By whatever name reproached, "the Serpent cast water, like a flood, out of his mouth after" them all. They were cast down, but not destroyed; persecuted and tormented in every way, yet not exterminated; for, says Mosheim, in speaking of "the heresies" of the 9th century, "the sects that had sprung up in the early ages of the church subsisted still with little change in their situation or circumstances;" and it may be added, that the saints of the Holy City and the witnesses of Jesus against the Laodicean Catholic Apostasy, have always existed under names imposed upon them, and holding views falsely attributed to them, by the malignity of their enemies, to the present day.