Two Major Women in History
The church, or congregation of the redeemed, is described in scripture as a woman. Likewise the congregation of the lost is described as a woman. These two women are discussed in the scriptures, particularly in the Book of Revelation. Every person is part of one or the other of these two women.
Apocalyptic Descriptions of The Two Women
"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: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered...And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. 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...And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. 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. 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. 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. 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." (Rev. 12: 1, 2, 5, 6, 15-17)
Wrote Seiss (in his book on the Apocalypse)
"In the passage which we are now to consider (Rev. 12), we have the picture of a marvellous Woman, clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars, and she herself agitated and agonizing with the anxieties of parturition. This, the Apostle tells us is a sign, semeion, a word which he here uses for the first time in the Apocalypse, and which serves to show that the apparition is not simply a "wonder," as our version has it, but a wonder intended to bring before us something beyond itself. I have repeatedly remarked, that when the Scriptures use figures or symbols, or speak in a way not intended to be taken literally, like all serious writings they always give intimation of it, in one way or another. The text is a case in point. What is described, is said to be a sign, a representation or picture of something else—a symbol. And the fact that we are here told that this is a sign, goes far to prove that the Apocalypse in general is to be taken literally, except where indication to the contrary is given. It would be quite superfluous to tell us that this thing is a sign, and that certain things mean certain other things, except upon the assumption that whatever is not so labelled is to be taken just as it reads, a woman for a woman, a star for a star, a mountain for a mountain, and so on. But, whatever else is literal in this book, the case of this woman is not; for the Apostle says it is a sign—a picture—a symbol of something else, which is the true subject of contemplation. He further tells us that it is "a great sign." In itself it was something very imposing and sublime to the eye which beheld it. But the greatness cannot be well understood, except with reference to the thing signified. It was a great sign as indicating something great, remarkable, momentous. The whole picture is itself so marvellous and extraordinary as to necessitate the idea of something of the greatest excellence, conspicuity, and importance. And when it is yet added, that the sign is a "great" one, that to which it refers must needs be of the utmost consequence and consideration, and no trifling object or ordinary event can be admitted as fulfilling the majesty of such a picture."
"A more important question is that respecting the object intended to be symbolized by this Woman. Who is she, and what are we to understand by her? The answers returned by expositors are not in all cases the same.
Some are disposed to consider it the picture of the Virgin Mary giving birth to the blessed Saviour. Even Professor Stuart says, that no attentive reader can help thinking of the birth of Christ and the massacre of Bethlehem. But, much as we may think of it, and howsoever included, this cannot be the proper subject. If the Apostle had believed it a representative of Mary, he doubtless would have said so; neither is it congruous thus mysteriously to give us the picture of one woman so superlatively exalted, in order to denote another woman so poor and lowly as Mary at the birth of our Lord. Nor was Mary ever clad and adorned as here set forth. She has also long since passed away from the earth, while this woman continues even until after the sounding of the last trumpet. When Christ was caught up to God, this Apocalypse was not yet written, nor for half a century after, whereas it was said at the time of the writing that it referred to things then still future.
Others think that it means the City of Jerusalem. It has been said that there are only two women spoken of in this book, and that as the one is "that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth," so the other is that city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. But it is as foreign to all Scripture diction, as it is contrary to the nature of things, for a material earthly city to take wings and fly away to the wilderness, and after 1260 days to return again.
A more common view, in which there is a more general agreement, is, that this woman somehow represents the Church, the body of God's professed people. It belongs to the ordinary Scripture imagery to speak of the Church under the figure of a woman, a spouse, a mother. We read of "the Daughter of Zion" as a personification of this kind under the Old Testament, and Paul speaks of the spiritual Jerusalem as "the mother of us all." The Canticles, which certainly are to be taken in a mystic sense, show how familiar such conceptions were to the Jews; and the same sort of language is everywhere employed, in one form or another, in the New Testament. And when we contemplate all the splendid particulars respecting this woman, how she is assailed by Satan, and the destiny of the offspring she bears, there is hardly any room left for a doubt, that it is the collective body of the Church or people of God that we are to see in this picture.
But what Church, or the Church of what particular dispensation or era, or the Church in what particular aspect, is not so generally agreed. Some say it is the Old Testament Church, others that it is the Christian Church of the early centuries persecuted by the heathen, agonizing for converts, and finally bringing forth the Emperor Constantino; others, that it is tbe Latin Church of a later period; and others still, that it refers to the Church in yet other times, or the Church in general, without undertaking to find any one particular fulfilment for it.
In trying to come to a definite conclusion where there is so much irreconcilable diversity, it is necessary to bear in mind that we are here dealing with consummations. The Apocalypse is the Book and revealer of consummations; and the seventh trumpet, under which this sign appears, above all, refers to the times and scenes in which everything runs to its final completion and end, and appears in its terminal culmination. It is the climax of the great judgment period, when all that has gone before comes to its full, and is finally disposed of. It would therefore harmonize best with the time, and with the character of the connected administrations, that any picture of the Church here introduced should embrace it in its largest fulness, aa made up through all ages and dispensations, and as related to the great consummating events pertaining to the end.
So, then, I have been led to view and interpret this wonderful sign. It does not refer to the Jewish Church exclusively; for that, apart from the Christian, never, to the same degree, possessed the majesty and glory which pertain to this woman. It is not the Christian Church exclusively; for the man-child who is to rule the nations with the rod of iron must necessarily include the Lord Jesus as its Lord and head; but he was born before the Christian Church, as such, had an existence. But the Church of the Old Testament and that of the New, are, after all, not so alien to each other. There is still an inner oneness between them never to be overlooked, which makes one a necessary part of the other, and which constitutes them the one" Church of God, notwithstanding the differences of dispensations and outward form. Christian believers are children of faithful Abraham, and brethren of the ancient prophets, who were not perfect without us. Changes of external order and administration have occurred, and will perhaps occur again when the present age is consummated, but it is still the same Church of the living God. There has really been but one Church on earth, existing through all times and under all economies. And so we have here, as the symbol of it, this one glorious woman, in whom all its highest excellences and chief characteristics are summed up from the beginning even unto the great consummation, at which point, and with reference to the great occurrences of that time, it is here brought to our contemplation. It is the one only Church of God on earth, though its several parts have existed in succession—even the same which was patriarchal hefore Moses, Jewish before Christ, and Christian since Christ, here aggregately exhibited, that we may at one and the same view see it in its fulness, and particularly with reference to what is to happen it under the seventh and last trumpet.
It is wonderful also what a profound and complete view of the Church, in all its deepest peculiarities, excellences, office, and prospects, is here given in one single picture, at once as simple as it is sublime.
1. We have here the image of a woman. Woman was made out of Adam. A deep sleep fell upon him for the purpose, and out of that sleep woman came into being. From a rib out of his side was she builded. There was but one made, and Adam had none other. She was brought unto the man, and accepted and loved as bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, and made oue with him in the closest of all earthly relations. This is not only history, but also parable and prophecy. Paul is very particular to tell us that it is "a mystery," a sacred revelation set in historic facts, to show the character and relations of the Church. Adam was "the figure of Him that was to come." Christ is "the Second Adam." And the wife of the Second Adam is the Church, made out of Him by the hand and Spirit of God from that deep sleep of His for the sins of the world. It is but one, and beside it there is none other. It is Christ himself begotten in His people, and joined to Him in holy compact, service, fellowship, and love, so deep and close as to be really organic; for "we are members of his body, and of his flesh, and of his bones"—one with him as the branches with the vine—sharing each other's characteristics, estates, and destiny. And to say nothing of the feminine qualities as distinguished from the masculine, there is here the profoundest reason for the representation of the Church in the figure of a woman,—a pure, beautiful, sublime, and perfect woman. The Church is the woman, in her creation from the second Adam, in her naming after Christ, and in her receptivity, love, maternity, trusting dependence, beauty, and willing obedience. She is the betrothed of the Lord, His Bride, His Queen, partaker of His inmost love, and all His estate and kingdom, having her joy in Him and His in her. Nor is there another image known to man which more richly and truly sets forth that mystic body, which we recognize and identify in every age as the Church or people of God.
2. This woman is in the way of motherhood. This is the characteristic of the Church in every period of its existence, and with special reference to what is to be fulfilled when the last trumpet shall Bound. She ever bears in her body the maturing germs of a mighty birth awaited in the future. There is one individual outward figure, but that figure incloses and carries within it an invisible seed, the royal sous of a royal sire. As seen and known to us, the Church is the assembly of God's called and chosen people, manifest in the fellowship and profession of the rites and signs of revealed religion. This assembly, however, embraces two classes, the truly elect and regenerate, whom God has begotten as His own children, and in whom the Church has its life-character as the congregation of saints, but along with them many nominal outward members, who are not God's children in living reality. It is quite manifest, to those who look, that not all are saints who profess Christianity and observe its rites; but who are the true members is not certainly known to us, but to God only. There is, therefore, a visible and an invisible Church—one woman, but compassing a hidden seed to be revealed hereafter. The invisible Church lies within the visible, and there is begotten, nourished, and borne, till the time comes for it to be brought forth. The visible Church is truly the Church, because the elect are in it, only it embraces some who are not of the elect. In it alone are God's true people to be found. There are the means and instruments through which saints are begotten and nurtured, and the Church collected, and its offices and administrations tilled. Though it has many who are not really what they profess, and are not of the inner household of faith, it does not cease to be the true Church of God and the only mother of saints on that account. Their profession still is right, and the word and sacraments which they handle are still God's appointed means of grace and salvation. And it is the Church as one glorious whole, outward and inward, visible and invisible, that we are to see in this magnificent woman.
3. This woman is magnificently arrayed. It is sometimes decried as a woman's weakness that she is fond of beautiful attire, and has an irrepressible instinct for personal adornment. It is not a weakness, but an instrument of power. It is part of her God-given nature, as the original type and representative of the Church. She may abuse it, and fall into many silly mistakes and sins by reason of it, but it becomes her, and belongs to her proper womanliness to be as beautiful as possible, and to be as beautifully and appropriately arrayed as she honestly can. She owes it to herself, to her sex, to her husband, and to society. A slattern is a monstrosity to the Divine ideal. The Church is the truest and heavenliest woman, and she is splendidly arrayed. She is "clothed with the sun."
Of course, no mere creature, or any number of creatures, can be literally dressed with the sun. That sublime luminary cannot be worn as a garment. It is only a pictorial representation, which is to be figuratively understood. But it is a gorgeous and most expressive figure.
The sun is the fairest and most brilliant thing our eyes have ever seen. It is the great orb of brightness. To be clothed with it, one would needs be clothed with light. And so it is with the Church and the people of God. Jesus says, they are "the children of light" (Luke 16 :8). It is the office and end of all God's merciful appointments " to turn men from darkness to light" (Acts 26: 18). Of those whom the Apostles enrolled as members of the Church of Christ, it is written, "Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord" (Eph. 5: 8). The Church has ever been an illuminated body. Its children are not of darkness, but of the day. God, who caused the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined into their hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of His own glory. They " walk in the light." They wear it about them as a garment. If there be any light in the Divine revelations, they have it as their constant possession. If there bo any teaching and illumination of the Holy Ghost, they enjoy it. They are an instructed people, illuminated from on high. They are the truly wise. They have the true philosophy of things, and are. the widest awake to the highest truth and wisdom. While others grope.in darkness, they are arrayed in light.
The sun is at the same time the great lightgiver. It radiates brightness as well as possesses it. Light streams forth from it as the illuminator of this whole sublunary world. And to be clothed with the sun, one must necessarily be a glorious dispenser of illumination. And such is the Church. Its members and ministers have been the brightest lights of the ages. It is the pillar and ground of the truth—the golden candlestick of God amid the abounding and otherwise sunless darkness of this alien world. It is constituted and ordained for the teaching of the nations, and the bearing of the light of heaven to the benighted souls of men. People can learn the way of truth only through its testimony and confession. Christ hath said of His people, "Ye are the light of the world" (Matt. 5 : 14). By them it is that the knowledge and joy of salvation are carried over the earth, and ministered unto the dwellers in darkness and the shadow of death. They are the dispensers of the light of God. It is a great and wonderful endowment and office; but this treasure hath the Lord given to His Church. Oh, that His people may know and realize it!
The sun is likewise an orb of great excellence and purity. Nothing can diminish its glory, or taint its rays. To be clothed with it, is to be clothed with unsullied excellency. And so it is with the Church. It may have shabby members, but they are not really of it. Whatever may be the native corruption of men, or their entanglement with the errors and vices of an ungodly world, in becoming God's people they are washed, they are sanctified, they are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. They are the purest and holiest of the race. They are the flower of mankind. They are the jewels of the Lord of hosts. They are saints, having put on the Lord Jesus Christ, who is "the Sun of Righteousness."
Light is the garment of God. It is the symbol of His own nature. And as all true people of Ilis are "partakers of the divine nature," being begotten unto Him from above, they enter also into the same clothing. The Church is robed with the sun.
4. This woman is victorious in her position. She has "the moon under her feet." Needless is the perplexity which men have felt in ascertaining what we are here to understand by the moon. As the sun is the king of day, so the moon is the empress of night; and hence a fit picture of the kingdom of darkness. And as to be clothed with the one is to be "light in the Lord," a glorious lightbearer to the world, a possessor of great excellence and purity; so to tread the moon under foot is the image of victory over the powers of darkness, whether of nature, or aught else. And this is a blessed characteristic and honor of the Church. All her true members are conquerors. Not all have yet come to the final triumph. This is not a picture of the Church triumphant, for the woman is still the subject of persecution, compelled to fly into the wilderness for her life. But even now, all who have come to real standing and membership in the household of faith, must needs have gained certain victories, and attained to the character of conquerors. By whatever Divine helps and gratuities it has been achieved, they have vanquished their native ignorance and hatred of God. They have subdued their prejudices, and brought their bodies and passions under the sway of another and better dominion and discipline. They have risen in rebellion against the old bondage, and have conquered it, and broken away from it, and by stern resolve through the grace of God have entered upon the field of self-mastery and independence. With some the battle still rages, and " there remaineth yet much land to be possessed." But they have not warred in vain. Some glorious vantage-grounds have been won. They have conquered so far, that if they will only stand firm, their final triumph is sure. On fields once held by Satan, they have succeeded in planting the banners of Jehovah. And from the heights they have already gained, they see the victory from afar, and realize it even now. The moon is under their feet.
5. Still further: this woman is royal in rank and dignity. Regal gems glitter about her brow. There is "on her head a crown"—a crown "of stars,"— stars to the sacred number of completeness,— "twelve stars." Whatever the particular allusion may be, whether to patriarchs, or tribes, or apostles, or all of these, or to the totality of her teaching agency, there flashes forth from this the unmistakable idea of kinghood and authority; yea, of celestial royalty and dominion. And this too is one of the sublime possessions of the Church. Christians are "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood." (1 Peter 2 : 9.) By anticipation at least, all who are washed from their sins in the blood of Jesus, are "Kings and priests unto God." (Rev. 1: 6.) All who are called by the Gospel, are called to royal place and dignity, and in so far as they have made that calling sure, whatever be their earthly estate or place, they are anointed and sealed as lords and princes of the eternal realm. They are joint heirs with Him to whom all power in heaven and earth is given. Time only is needed to instate them in immortal thrones. Crowns are theirs and the glory of imperishable empire.
6. Aud she is in travail to bring forth. She is persecuted; but these are not so much pains of persecution. The pains of persecution come upon her from without; this anguish is from within. Persecution proceeds from the wicked, for the purpose of destruction; this agony proceeds from a treasure of heavenly sons, and is a travail to produce. Persecution has its spring in hell's malignity; this agonizing has its origin in the love, and faith, and hope of a pious maternity.
Friends and Brethren: There is a grand and glorious birthday on hand when once the seventh trumpet begins to sound,—a birthday foreshadowed by the seizing away from earth of Enoch and Elijah, and forepledged by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave, and his sublime ascension to the right hand of the Father,—a birthday which Paul had in his eye when he wrote, "The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall bo raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." (1 Cor. 15 : 52.) To that all the promises point.
For this present we are in heaviness and tribulation. Heaven is not in this world. Our inheritance is beyond, and only the resurrection can bring us to the full fruition of it. In the day of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God shall be finished, and His saints come to that for which they look, and long, and cry out, in all these years of waiting. Think, then, what a time that will be when once the object of all these prayers, sufferings, and endeavors has at last been reached! What, indeed, is all the glorious light, and victory, and royalty, and joy of faith and hope we now possess, compared with the fulness of joy which shall come with that glad consummation!
"And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns." (Rev. 17: 1-7)
On The Woman (Babylon) of Revelation 17, Seiss writes:
"The subject itself is one of great prominence in the Apocalypse, as in all the prophecies; but it has proven about as difficult as it is conspicuous. On none of the current methods of treating this Book is it possible to come to any clear, consistent, and satisfying conclusions with regard to it. The body of preterist expositors have found themselves necessitated to take Great Babylon as meaning the city, the church, or the ecclesiastical system of Rome, not so much because the features of the record call for it, or really admit of it, when fairly dealt with, but because unable on their theory to do any better. That Rome and the Romish system are involved, may readily be admitted; but that this is all, and that the sudden fall of Great Babylon is simply the fall of Romanism, or the utter destruction of the city of Rome, must be emphatically denied, if the inspired portraiture is to stand as it is written. If we cannot find more solid ground than that on which the Rome theory rests we must needs consign the whole subject to the department of doubt and uncertainty, and let all these tremendous foreshowings pass for nothing. Unite with me, then, dear friends, in praying God to open our understandings, that we may not fail to take in what He really intends that His people should see in these sacred visions.
The first thing which strikes me in the study of this subject, is one which I have nowhere seen duly noticed, namely: the evident correlation and contrast between the Woman here pictured and another Woman described in the twelfth chapter. There, " a great sign was seen in the heaven, a Woman?' here, it is remarked, " he bore me away in spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a Woman."
Both these Women are mothers; the first "brought forth a son, a male [neuter, embracing either sex], who is to rule all the nations;" the second " is the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth." Both are splendidly dressed ; the first is " clothed with the sun." Her raiment is light from heaven. The second is " clothed in purple, and scarlet, decked with gold,' and precious stone, and pearls." All her ornaments are from below, made up of things out of the earth and the sea. Both are very influential in their position; the first has " the moon," the empress of night, the powers of darkness, " under her feet;" the second " hath rule, or kiugdom, upon the kings of the earth." Both are sufferers; against the first is the Dragon, who stands watching to devour her child, and persecutes and pursues her, and drives her into the wilderness, and sends out a river to overwhelm her, and is at war with all her seed that he can find; against the second are the ten kings, who ultimately hate her, and make her desolate and naked, and eat her flesh, and burn her with fire, whilst God in His strength judgeth her, and visits her with plague, death, and utter destruction. Both are very conspicuous, and fill a large space in the history of the world, and in all the administrations of divine providence and judgment. That they are counterparts of each other there can hardly be a reasonable doubt. The one is a pure woman, the other is a harlot. The first is hated by the powers on earth, the second is loved, flattered, and caressed by them. "Where the one has sway, things are heavenly; where the other lives, it is "wilderness." The one produces masculine nobility, which is ultimately caught away to God and to His throne; the other produces effeminate impurity, which calls down the fierceness of the divine wrath. The one is sustained and helped by celestial wings; the other is supported and carried by the Dragon power,—the Beast with the seven heads and ten horns. The one has a crown of twelve stars, wearing the patriarchs and apostles as her royal diadem ; the other has upon her forehead the name of the greatest destroyer and oppressor of the holy people, and is drunken with " the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all that have been slain upon the earth." The one finally comes out in a heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, made up of imperishable jewels, and arrayed in all the glory of God and the Lamb; the other finally comes out in a city of this world's superlative admiration, which suddenly goes down forever under the intense wrath of Heaven, and becomes the habitation of demons, and a hold of every unclean spirit.
These two Women, thus related, and set over one against the other as opposites and rivals, must necessarily be interpreted in the same way. As Antichrist corresponds to Christ as a rival and antagonist of Christ, so Great Babylon corresponds to the Woman that bears the Man-child, as her rival and antagonist.
By recalling, therefore, who and what is meant by the first Woman, we will be in position to understand who aud what is meant by the second.
Beyond question, the sun-clad Woman is God's great symbol of the visible Church,—the Lamb's Wife,—the bone of His bone, and flesh of His flesh, fashioned out of His rifted side as the Second Adam, who fell into the deep sleep of death for that purpose. As Methodius taught, " The woman seen in heaven, clothed with the sun, and adorned with a crown of twelve stars, is, in the highest and strictest sense, our Mother. The prophets, considering what is spoken of her, call her Jerusalem, at other times The Bride, the Mount Sion, the Temple and Tabernacle of God." She is not the church of any one period or dispensation, but the entire Universal Church of all time, as Victorinus, the earliest commentator on this Book, held and affirmed, saying: " The Woman clothed with the sun, having the moon under her feet, is the Church of the Patriarchs, and of the Prophets, and of the holy Apostles "—that is, the Church from the days of Adam and Eve on to the last victory over the worship, name, and mark, of the final Antichrist. What then can this rival Woman be but the organized Antichurch, the psendochurch, the Bride made out of Satan, the universal body and congregation of false-believers and false-worshippers ? As Christ has had a visible Church in all time, embodying the wisdom and spirit of heaven, aud maintaining the confession of His truth and worship, so has the Devil had a corresponding following in all time, embodying the sensual and devilish wisdom and spirit, and maintaining the profession and teaching of Satan's lies. And as the first Woman denotes the one, so the second Woman denotes the other. The proofs of this will appear as we consider the particulars of the case."
"A still further representation of the Church is supplied in the third Decan of this sign. This is the picture of a beautiful woman, with fetters upon her wrists and ankles, and fastened down so as to be unable to rise. This woman in the Decan is the same as the Fishes in the sign. The change of the image argues no change in the subject. The Church is often a woman, and oftener than it is a net full of fishes; but it is both—sometimes the one, and sometimes the other—in the representations of the Scriptures. Besides, in some of the ancient planispheres these Fishes were pictured with the heads of women, thus identifying them with the woman."
Greek mythology calls this woman Andromeda (andro-medo), man-ruler, but with what idea, or for what reason, does not appear in the myths. The name is perhaps derived from some ancient designation of similar significance, which has no meaning in the Greek fables, but which covers a most important and inspiring biblical representation respecting the Church. Here we discover the true Andromeda—the mystic woman called and appointed to rule and guardianship over men. When Peter wished to know what he and his fellowdisciples should have by way of compensation for having forsaken everything for Christ, the blessed Master said: "Ye which have followed Me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matt. 19:28). Hence Paul spoke to the Corinthians as of a well-understood fact, "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?" (i Cor. 6: 2). Hence the enraptured John ascribes everlasting glory and dominion to the divine Christ, not only for washing us from our sins in His own blood, but that He "hath made us kings and priests unto God" (Rev. i : 5, 6). The true people of God, the real Church, are the elect kings of the future ages. Even now already they are embodiments and bearers of the heavenly kingdom and dominion upon earth. Through them the word goes forth for the governing of men, and the regulation of their hearts and lives, and the bringing of them under a new spiritual dominion, so that none ever come to forgiveness and glory except as they come into submission to the truth and the teachings of the Church. The great All-Ruler has so united the Church to himself, and so embodied himself in it, that by its word, testimonies, and ordinances He rules, governs, tutors, and guards men, and brings them under His saving dominion. The Prophets, Apostles, Confessors, Pastors, and Teachers which He has raised up in the Chuich, with those associated with them in the fellowship of the same faith and work, are the true kings and guardians of men, who have been ruling from their spiritual thrones for all these ages, and will continue to rule more and more for ever as the spiritual and eternal kingdom is more and more revealed and enforced. Most significantly, therefore, may the Church be called Andromeda; and the fact that the mystic woman in this constellation is so called, with no other known reason for it, goes far to identify her as verily intended to be a prophetic picture of the Church, which she truly represents beyond anything else that has ever been in fable or in fact.
But this woman is in chains, bound hand and foot. The names in the sign mean the Broken-down, the Weak, the Afflicted, the Chained. The fables say that she was the daughter of Cepheus and Cassiopeia, promised to her uncle Phineus in marriage, when Neptune sent a flood and a sea-monster to ravage the country in answer to the resentful clamors of his favorite nymphs against Cassiopeia, because she boasted herself fairer than Juno and the Nereides. Nor would the incensed god be pacified until, at the instance of Jupiter Ammon, the beautiful Andromeda was exposed to the sea-monster, chained to a rock near Joppa in Palestine, and left to be devoured. But Perseus, on returning from the conquest of the Gorgons, rescued her and made her his bride.
Here, then, was a case of malignant jealousy and persecution resulting in the disability, exposure, and intended destruction of an innocent person. And thus, again, we have a striking picture of the unfavorable side of the Church's condition in this world. Jealous rivals hate her and clamor against her. The world-powers in their selfishness fail to protect her, and lend themselves for her exposure and destruction. Innocently she is made to suffer. Though a lovely and influential princess, she is hindered by personal disabilities and bonds. It will not be so always. The time will come when those bonds shall be broken and that exposure ended. There is One engaged in a war with the powers of darkness and the children of hell who will presently come this way to rescue and deliver the fair maiden and to make her His glorious bride. But for the present affliction and hardship are appointed to her. She cannot move as she would, or enjoy what pertains to her royal character, her innocence, and her beauty. She is bound to the hard, and ponderous rock of this earthly life. Born to reign with her redeeming Lord, Apostles can only wish that she did reign, that they might reign with her. She is within the sacred territory, but it is as yet a place of captivity and bonds. She never can be truly herself in this mortal life. Nor is she completely free from the oppressive Phineus until the victorious Perseus comes. The whole picture is true to the life, and shows with what profound prophetic foresight and knowledge the makers of these signs were endowed.
Ill-favor Of The Church
Among the ancients the Zodiacal Pisces was considered the most unfavorable of all the signs. The astrological calendars describe its influences as malignant, and interpret its emblems as indicative of violence and death. The Syrians and the Egyptians largely abstained from the eating of fish, from the dread and abhorrence which they associated with the Fishes in the Zodiac. In the hieroglyphics of Egypt the fish is the symbol of odiousness, dislike, and hatred. And this, too, falls in exactly with our interpretation. The earthly condition and fortunes of the Church are nothing but unfavorable and repulsive to the tastes and likes of carnal and self-seeking man. The restraints and disabilities which go along with it are what the world hates, derides, and rebels against. These Bands that bind the Fishes together, and hold them with bridles of heavenly command and control, and enclose them with meshes beyond which they cannot pass, are what unsanctified humanity disdains as humiliation and reckons as adversity to the proper joy and good of life. Though people can sustain no charges against the Church, and cannot deny her princely beauty, yet to take sides with her is to them nothing but flood, drowning, and devastation to what they most cherish and admire. Let her be chained, disabled, exposed and devoured, if need be, only so that they are exempt from association with her! Let her suffer, and let her be given to death and destruction, the more and the sooner the better if they only can thereby have the greater freedom for their likes, passions, and enjoyments uncurbed and unrestrained! This is the feeling and this the spirit which have obtained toward the Church in all the ages. And the dislike of men to this sign is but the filling out of the picture in the stars as I have been expounding it. It is another link in the chain of evidence that we have here a divine symbol of the Church in its earthly estate and career. The coincidences, to say the least, are very marvellous. To say that the Church has been formed from and to the signs, as French infidelity would have it, is in the highest degree absurd. The Church has not accepted humiliation, disability, contempt, hatred, and oppression from the world just to conform herself to the indications connected with Pisces; and yet her condition today, as in all other time, is precisely that which this sign represents, and has been representing on the face of the sky for all these four or five thousand years. The sign has in no sense or degree conditioned the Church, and yet it truly represents the estate of the Church in all generations. To what other conclusion, then, can we come than that the sign in its place, and the whole system of signs of which it forms a conspicuous part, is from that good and infallible prescience which knows the course and end of all things from the beginning? Let those doubt it who will; for my own part, I have no doubt upon the subject."