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Written by J.H. Fisher   


Chapter VI—A Clothed Woman

"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." Rev. 12:1.

Here is one of the most beautiful and lovely figures of the bible. If we speak of the church as a house, we talk about it being built. But here it is as a woman, and how now can we talk of it as having been built? It may be Jesus took a rib out of the best part of the Moses system and made it a woman. She is a beautiful woman because she has been cleansed by Jesus, and then clothed by Him, till she is the most beautiful thing to him and us under the sky. She is in the same heaven that these twin witnesses was found in. Not around the throne of God, for she afterwards fled into the wilderness and the old serpent followed her there, yet he was cast out of heaven and his angels with him. She was first in the Jewish heaven, and then in the gospel heaven where she is today.

The church of Jesus as an organization, was set up by him when he called out the twelve and "ordained twelve that they should be with him, anti that he might send them forth to preach, to have power to heal sickness, and to cast out devils." Mk. 3:14-15. To these he gave the commandments to go and preach the gospel, first to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and afterward, to all nations. To these he gave the law of his kingdom, and the discipline, the ordinances, and the gospel doctrine that they were to continue in till the end of time. He clothed her with righteousness, first personally, as they were born again, and then collectively, as a woman, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and as terrible as an army with banners. In her collective capacity, she is to have the good light of the eternal spirit of God, the Father, and God the Son as it proceeds from them, bringing to her all the holy fruits of the eternal covenant of grace ordered in all things and sure. These are to be to her a diadem or crown of love, peace and honor, that marks her as a different institution from all and any that the wisest man in the world has ever set up. Jesus set his love on her from all eternity, and never can change from it in the least nor desire to. She is fixed in his unchangeable affections for good, and forever.

This holy woman was clothed with the sun, moon and stars. All her clothes came from a clean source. Not from the earth, but from above. Beautiful rich clothes that can never wear out. Cheap clothes wear out so quickly. The clothes Jesus gave his bride can never wear out, they are of an eternal texture. Never can get dirty. Righteousness of Christ. Her clothes will stay clean as long as Christ is her righteousness. Jesus said to the Jews and to his disciples, "Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." They had no righteousness from Jesus, but were going about trying to establish their own righteousness, which was mixed with sin and unworthiness, and was like filthy rags, and this prevented them from coming into the holy presence of the holy Almighty King of Salem. "The kings daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought to the king in raiment of needle work." Ps. 45.

This church is not only clothed with the righteousness of Christ, but clothed with Christ. He is indeed the sun by which she is clothed. Imputed righteousness, and also the imparted righteousness of Jesus. Is in his righteousness, his righteousness is in her. Like the bird that flies, the air is in the bird and around the bird. If there is no air in the bird, he will fall to the ground, and if there is no air around him he will fall to the ground. So it is with the church of Jesus. She must have the blessed Christ in her, and she must have the Christ of eternity around her or she can not stand. With his life as her life, and his strength as her strength, she can stand all the fiery darts of Satan. Neither can the gates of hell prevail against her, for she is above all the institutions of the earth. She is the city set on a hill that shall stand forever and the gates of hell shall not prevail against her, nor overcome her. Moon is under her feet. That is she is raised above all the beauty and glory that is in the moon, (law). She is not only above the law, but she has a better righteousness, and a better light (Sun). When the moon gives us sweet light at night we rejoice, but when the glorious sun comes up and drives away all the darkness and frost and cold, and we are warmed up, we rejoice the more.

Twelve Stars. This woman had a crown, or diadem of twelve stars. This was a beautiful ornament, the Bridegroom had placed there for her further comfort. This was the twelve gifts of the apostles. She was to keep her stars as jewels that were given her by her husband. When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. All the gifts are from him. "He set some in the church, first apostles."

The gift of apostles as a shining ornament is still with the church, but not the men that bore the gift. I mean that the true as men have passed on to their reward. The teaching and trusting to the work of her husband, and his works, and not to her own works is a sign as to who is the woman today. She is clothed with his righteousness, and not her own. She is above law and does not look to the works of the law for salvation or deliverance. Then too she is to be known by holding to the doctrine of the apostles and rejecting the doctrine of men.

"And she being with child, cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered." v. 2.

Who is this child? Now all the commentators, I have read, tell us that this woman stands for the church. Most all Old School Baptists hold that the woman is the church. Now if that is so, then how are we to conceive of the church being the natural mother of a natural child?

This is not to be looked at as a personal woman, nor is this birth a natural birth, nor is this child to be seen as a natural child. But there is something in it like a woman, and also like a child birth, and in some sense a child. I admit that the child was Jesus Christ, but not as a little babe in natural birth. Jesus was born, naturally from a natural woman, and indeed was once a sure enough baby, but the virgin Mary was not the twelve apostles, and as a collective body, they are this woman. So we see at once that the birth here is not a natural birth. What then is it? Christ himself called the church his mother, sister, brother. "He that doeth the will of by Father, which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and my sister, and my mother."

But let me now give a text of scripture where Jesus actually calls the apostles His mother as He assumes the =ttitude of a weak, helpless babe. "Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye inquire among yourselves of that I said, a little while, and ye shall not see me, and again, a little while, and ye shall see me? Verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice; and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. "A woman when she is in travail, hath sorrow, because her hour is come, but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more her anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world." Now watch the Saviour's application of his own language. "And ye now therefore have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you." Now their joy some day was to be full. "Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name; ask, and ye shall receive, that your JOY may be full." John 16:19-24. We see this figure is complete, because Jesus, took on himself the form of a servant and became weak as other men, and submissive to his slayers, and in the sorrow of his people he was taken from them, and laid in the grave, and from the womb of the eternal covenant, and the grave on earth he was raised by the power of God, and indeed was caught up to God and his throne without waiting thirty three years.

"And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth, and the dragon stood before the woman, which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and his throne." Rev. 12:3-4-5.

This awful beast is nothing but the Herod government backed up by the Roman Empire, and having these crowns of worldly honor, that rose out of the nations of corruption and bloodshed.

The dragon persecuted the woman. The dragon wanted the woman to marry him, but she was the wife of a true husband and she abhorred the very idea. She is the true church of Jesus. Think of a woman being compelled to marry a man that she despises.

Alboin, who was king of the ancient Lombards, killed the king of the Gepidae, whose name was Cunimund, forced his beautiful daughter to marry him, and drink wine with him from a cup made from the skull of her father. She watched her opportunity to get him murdered. It was awful to be compelled to marry the man that had murdered her father. So the church of the Lord Jesus could not go with the dragon, as the worldly churches of Babylon do. But mystery Babylon, did finally marry this awful beast, and accepted his support, and thus we see the woman riding on the beast. Under Moses, both the beast and the woman were to be killed. The true church of Jesus loathes the enemy of her husband.

"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 a half time, from the face of the serpent." Rev. 12:14. These two wings represent to me the principles of hope and faith, by which a suffering few that had the true candlestick, and would rather die than to follow and worship with the beast, was directed under prayer for help to gather in the Alps mountains, away back from the center of population and live as best they could in their cheap way, and be allowed to hold their little meetings in peace, and God providentially provided for them both naturally and spiritually, and they grew and multiplied in these valleys.

A few times in life I have tried to pray that God would let me see his lovely bride, that I might get a view of that loveliness that Jesus has put upon her, and be charmed at the exquisite sweetness of the bride. "She that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners." Of course I would love to see the holy face of the King, that is much brighter than the noonday sun, but I know I would fall dead, the holy apostle John fell dead, but was revived, but I am too sinful.

In my mind sometimes I can see the little bunch, whose lives are threatened; starting out through the woods, with their little effects loaded on a pack horse and them walking along with the loads on their backs, and at night camping on the grounds, daring not to sing a song of thanks, lest they be heard in the distance by an enemy. Their hearts bleeding with sorrow that they must leave loved ones behind never to see them again. Some were not willing to go. All their property taken from them and left behind. Wondering what the future will hold in store for them, and going on meeting some strangers and afraid to talk to them, not knowing who is a friend and who is an enemy. How I do wish I could have traveled and camped with them, and partook of the glory that as true, obedient, persecuted believers they had, the diamonds of grace in their hearts, and the ornaments of Christ's righteousness upon them. I can hear in my heart the Lord Jesus saying to them, "How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights! "How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices! Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb, honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon." Songs, 4, 9, 10, 11.

How the pure divine love of the true Bridegroom burns with holy sweetness toward his bride that by sweet true faith in him turns from idolatry to him and looks to him for her support and protection, food and raiment. I can hear him in my mind saying to her for comfort, "There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number. My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bear her." Songs. The Lord speaking of the first love of ancient Israel, said: "Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold thy time, was the time of love, and ! spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness; yea, I swear unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God, and thou becamest mine, then washed I thee with water! yea, I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil. I clothed thee also with broided work, and shod thee with badgers skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk. I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck. And I put a jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thy head. Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broided work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, anti oil; and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom. And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty, for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I put upon thee, saith the Lord God." Paul said to the church something that I have thought I felt while writing this book: "For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy; for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." O how the bowels of the perfect holy husband burn for his lovely bride when the bitter enemy rises to scold her or to persecute her, strike her or to put insult and pains and hurts upon her, to make her life miserable. What would a faithful honorable husband do to the enemy that would dare to try to hurt or insult or kill his wife? O thou holy blessed Christ, thou art more prompt to resent the injuries to your bride than any man can be to resent any hurt to his beloved wife. What must I say of that man that dares to lift his voice to misrepresent and persecute his dear church just to gratify his fleshly ambition? "Will not God avenge his own elect that cry unto him daily?"

The dear old church of Jesus fled into the mountains just before Jerusalem was destroyed. Then when Rome began to rise in her support of false religion, there was a time of hiding out from the powers of persecution. She is to be nourished for a time and times and a half time from this old serpent power, that helps these bishops to set up the power of the main Bishop at Rome, that developed into popery. Popery is that mother of harlots and abominations of the earth, for she instigated the laws that the old beast used to kill and destroy the sheep of Christ.

Just before I take up the war in heaven, I want to say more about the two witnesses and the sun clothed woman. The two witnesses were to prophesy one thousand two hundred and three days clothed in sackcloth. This no doubt refers to the dark ages of the burning of the poor people at the stake about religion. Ignorance covered the earth, because the jealous Catholics were suspicious of any one that had any learning, as they were so ignorant and too lazy to study to keep up with things. What about a lazy preacher that does not know much and is jealous of any one that is a student and trying to learn all he can so that he may teach others, and drive away some of this darkness and smoke that ignorant and dominating men try to force on the people. But the candlesticks and the sun, moon and stars as used in and around this woman show more light, learning, instruction. Get the facts, learn the truth and dispel the darkness. God made the sun and moon and the stars and then elevated them above all smoke and clouds and dust and influence of the world. So Jesus elevates his church and his ministry and his candlestick and his called preachers so that they are above the dirty enemies that would drag them to the earth, and these different enemies are enemies to each other and to everything that is good and uplifting. What a dirty set they are. They are not held up in the gospel heavens for they are the avowed enemies to that. They can not be a friend to that which they are fighting and persecuting. Instead of being up in the heavens they are of the beast and serpents that growl, and whine and bark and howl. They are not satisfied and for that reason they keep up this hateful, snarling and produce hate instead of love, spite instead of peace, anger instead of joy.

This woman has two wings like a great eagle given to her so she can fly. These are faith and hope, with these she gets by this old serpent with his hissing and frothing at the mouth. You see she is flying in the air and therefore above the mud and dirt and slush that the serpent crawls around in seeking something to devour. So dear children of God let us rise above all this low dirty, filthy work of persecution and set our minds on peace, love and heaven.

The woman was clothed with the sun, moon, and stars. These were all to give off light. Some things are all the time giving off what they receive. What about this outfit that always receives and never gives off anything? The dead sea is salty, because it constantly is receiving the waters of the rivers and not giving off any. But the sea of Galilee receives the waters of the river Jordan and then lets it run right on through, thus giving off what it receives. It is fresh water. The trees receive the rain and sunshine and gives off fruit. The growing crops do the same. But what about a child of God that has received the grace and regeneration of the Lord, and yet never lets off anything but disobedience, filthy talk, or stirs up strife, and confusion, and lets no light shine. The hog eats the acorns but never looks up to set where they come from. Where do our blessings come from? The sun, moon and the stars give off light all the time, or else we would not know where they are. It is so dark about some folks that you can not tell where they are. The Lord came walking in the garden and said to Adam, "Where art thou?" It would take an awful loud call to locate some of God's people that are hid in the garden. "Let your light so shine." This does not belong to yon if you have no light. The sun lets off light and warmth, and yet does not lose any, nor gets any smaller. God's people get smaller by not letting their light shine. In order to let the light shine there must be a coming together in his name Let me show you the Candlestick. "That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven." "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Matt. 18:19-20. Wherever and whenever this thing occurs there sure is the sweet, pure, blushing, cooing church of the eternal Son of God. There he resides in peace and power and love and deliverance. Here is liberty, for where the spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. Here is heaven on earth.

"I have been there,  and still would go;
'Tis like a little heaven below."

Some writers mention a second fleeing to the mountains, because of the 14th verse of this chapter. They speak of this as taking place about 600 A. D., because popery there assumed her full role in Gregory the first. If the first fleeing to the wilderness commences in 325, then it would end in 1585. This is my idea in the main. Around 1585 is the time when toleration began among the nations. Rome had about lost her hold over the temporal things of the governments. These things had been stripped from her by the kings of the earth that had become so jealous of her getting all the filthy lucre into her own treasury. This caused the big split off from Rome. It was the times of 1585-1589 that Charles V was brought from his great war in Germany and had to sign a treaty that was unfavorable to popery. So he abdicated his throne. Prince of Orange and Phillip Sidney fought the pope's armies. The Edict of Nantes gave great hope to the struggling Protestants and Baptists. The government of England saw some light, and thousands and thousands fled there and made London the largest city of the world, and she still holds the palm. If the hind feet of the second beast stand in San Francisco, his front feet will be in London. If you pinch that dog's tail in San Francisco he will bark in London, for while his hind feet are in one place his mouth may be ten thousand miles somewhere else. The beast is where the money center of the world is. This is in New York and London. But now we come to the war in heaven.


WAR IN HEAVEN

"And there was war in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven. And that great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the devil and satan, which deceiveth the whole world; he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." Rev. 12:7-8-9.

Now here is a wonder sure enough that there should be war in heaven. Is this around God's throne in eternal glory? Does the family of God in heaven have rows and fusses like wicked people do here on earth? I deny it. This heaven is the same heaven that the radiant woman was in, and that the two witnesses and the red dragon was seen in.

This heaven is none other than, first, the Jewish heaven, the system of Moses, and secondly, the gospel heaven that Jesus Christ threw the devil out of that the true gospel may be seen in its beauty, and that the true system of discipline that rejects the unregenerate as a generation of vipers, and as hay wood and stubble, briars and thorns; it should be cast out, burned up. Let me prove that the Jewish commonwealth was called heaven.

"Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak, and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. My doctrine shall drop as the rain," etc. Here we see that Moses called this system the heaven and the earth, this is that to which his message is sent. God does not send a message and yet fail to tell to whom he sends his message. But who is this earth to which the message of Moses is sent? This earth represents civil government. Church and state were united under Moses, and therefore he was to teach them both their duties as citizens as well as saints. Earth and heaven then means church and state. So Moses must preach to both. The spiritual part is as much higher than the other as the heavens are higher above the earth.

We see also that the great prophets made the same distinction that Moses did. "Hear O heavens; give ear, O earth, for the Lord hath spoken." Isa. 1:2. Here now is that heaven that the old devil roosted in. Judas was in both of these heavens, but during the war he was finally thrown out. Jesus is this Michael. The devil from various standpoints is seen in this matter. John the Baptist was one of the angels that fought with Michael. John preached the doctrine that has ever been held as distinctive by the Old School Baptists. A regenerated membership has been the preaching of all true ministers from the days of John the Baptist to this day, and will be to the end of time. Regeneration was not a prerequisite to membership in the covenant of Moses. The devil could have valid membership in that covenant. But regeneration is a prerequisite to gospel church membership. So the devils had to be cast from these gospel heavens, and be cast into the earth. Jesus cast out some devils and then the seventy returned and told how the devils were subject unto them, then Jesus said: "I beheld satan as lightning fall from heaven." Here we see that old serpent truly cast out of heaven and all his angels with him. Here is the angels gathering the tares up and casting them out of the field, so that the wheat may grow.

As John was preaching on the banks of the Jordan, he said, "Now also the axe is laid at the root of the trees, and every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire." Why Judas was left for a little while, I do not know, but I do know that he was due to go, for he was a devil, a traitor, and a thief according to the bible even from before he went in with the disciples. But he was cast out in due time that the glorious kingdom might be radiated with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and ornamented with a crown of twelve stars. I really believe that the twelfth man was Paul, who was not a whit behind the chiefest apostle.

Now when the devil begins to show his reign in a bunch, he will either go quick or else the Lord is not in that bunch. He has to be cast out and all his kind with him. They are earthly sensual and devilish.

So now we read: "And I heard a loud voice saying in heareth, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ, for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night." Rev. 12:10. The accuser is a persecutor, and is in with the old persecutor, that has ever made it his business to accuse our brethren day and night. I am afraid of a man that puts in his time accusing some one all the time or even a good part of his time. That has always been the tactics from the garden of Eden, and from Cain and King Saul to this day and age. If the preacher of the gospel of the grace of God in its straight simplicity leaves it to have its normal effect, it will repel the wicked and draw true believers to it. So in this way we do rejoice that we are not to receive the devil into our ranks and therein we are to rejoice. The enemy is thus left out and each one to go to his own place. A little further on in this twelfth chapter, he says again, "rejoice ye heavens.'' Yes rejoice ye little flocks, and ye that are gathered together in his name, for there the tree of life blooms, the spiritual true land of Canaan is found with all the Canaanites cast out and the land turned over to the children of Abraham. "For if ye be Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." Gal. 3:29.

"Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, and to the sea; for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time." Rev. 12:12. Now just as sure as the heavens represent the true churches of Jesus, then to me it is quite plain that the earth and sea represent corrupt temporal governments, earth, and sea, stands for Babylon. Sea means confusion, and when used in a symbolic sense it seems to me to point to Babylon. And when church and state was united, we see that earth stood for and represented the temporal government of the Jews. So now the devil's territory is in Babylon and in the governments of this old wicked world. But the gospel heavens now represent the church of Jesus. Satan reigns and has full sway in all these Babylon churches that are filled with and dominated by idolatry and hate and persecution. How carefully we should follow the exhortations that Jesus gave to the seven churches if we expect to have the candlestick.

How was this red dragon in heaven? This way, Herod belonged to the Jewish nation, and claimed to be a Jew and appeared to live by the Jewish law of Moses. Therefore could be said to be in this heaven. The Jewish covenant did not require regeneration as a necessary qualification for membership, but only circumcision, which may in some sense point to regeneration, which in the gospel is required before church membership. This old dragon was full of bloodshed as shown by his color (red). "His tail drew a third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth." Rev. 12: 4. What was this tail? It was the false teachers that were encouraged by Herod the king. Let me give you the head and tail of this beast, and then you ought to be able to locate the red beast.

"The ancient and honorable he is the head; and the prophet that teaches lies he is the tail." Isa. 9:15. The head of this Jewish government was Moses, and he was the ancient and honorable. This covenant was very ancient, and in that day it was honorable. But now in the days of this woman clothed with the sun, he has come to his end (tail), and it is made up of prophets that teach lies, and by this tail he draws away many of the stars, ministers of God, that ride low in these heavens. They are so low in their manner of living, the alligator sweeps them off their feet and they fall into the water. This is the way the tail draws away a part of the stars, and casts them down into the worldly things that do not belong to the house of God. This dragon also stood before the woman to destroy her child as soon as it was born. But her child was preserved by the hand of Jehovah, and the guards fell back as dead men, when Jesus rose from the grave, and they could not get at this man child, Jesus.

Now what became of this woman? "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 three score days." Rev. 12:6. When did this twelve hundred and sixty years begin? This is the difficult question, and should be approached with caution and much prayer. I feel very weak here, for ! am quite sure that almost the whole tenor of the Revelation turns on this point. After the council of Nice, in 325 A. D., the Catholics put in their time fighting and killing the Arians, as they were the ones the fight was against, and on account of which that council was called. As soon as that matter began to subside, the persecutions began in a stronger way towards those who had nothing to do with popery. The two witnesses began to flee for some relief. Those who especially held to the faith more clearly, and whom the Holy Spirit was directing in a special way, as the hand of the loving Bridegroom, began to withdraw into more quiet places, back where the world would not notice them. They were so much absorbed by the kind loving caresses of this blessed husband, she could say, "O my dove, thou art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely." Songs 2:14. The true and most devoted spiritual worshippers of Jesus in whom was the greatest light, and with whom was the true candlestick, withdrew from the gaze of a corrupt public, and in Jesus they found a loving holy embrace that was blessed and lovely to the poor persecuted children of grace. Jesus delighted in them as they turned from all worldly trust and put their trust and love and prayer toward him in this awful hour of deep opposition, the like of which was never felt by them before, they fled from the serpent, they also fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before them, and this bride could not worship the tyrannical beast. She would say in the spirit of the poet:

"I loathe ye in my bosom,
I scorn ye with mine eye,
I'll taunt you with my latest breath,
And fight you till I die.
"I ne'er will ask you quarter,
I'll never be your slave,
But I'll swim the sea of slaughter,
Till I sink beneath the wave."

"And when the dragon saw that he was cast into the earth, he persecuted the woman that 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, from the face of the serpent." Rev. 12:13-14.

Here now is some of the most remarkable language in all the bible. Where and what is her place that is prepared for her? Sir Samuel Moreland says that "the Piedmont valleys seemed to be a place where the All Wise Creator had from the beginning designed as a cabinet, where to put an inestimable jewel, or in which to reserve many thousand souls, which should not bow the knee before Baal." The historian, Mr. Jones, says, "Several of the Piedmont valleys are described by our geographers as being remarkably rich and fruitful as fertile and pleasant as any part of Italy. In the mountains are mines of gold, silver, brass and iron; the rivers abound with exquisite fish; the forests and the fields with game; while the soil yields everything necessary to human life, abundance of corn, rice, wine, fruits, hemp, and cattle." This is no doubt the very prepared place that God intended that his little flock should be hid away from the persecuting beast of Rome.

As the Roman government began to get so strong, these people would no doubt have been run out by the king of France, but the king needed them as they were his best citizens and tax payers, and were a quiet people and molested no one. When Constantine came to the throne of the Roman Empire, A. D. 318, he proclaimed liberty to all the citizens, but he soon found a lot of preachers that were not satisfied unless they had a little more power, so they raised a great big fuss about the trinity of God. That is as to whether Jesus was simply a good human being or was he also the divine equal of the Father. Thus the awful fuss started and raged for years.

Then the popular party at the city of Rome began to tell the other preachers what they must preach and believe or else they must be tied up and whipped at the stake and finally burned if they will not give up their views. Here now is the lamb and the wolf. Watch for the persecutor as he gains the power. God's people saw that they must find some distant place where they may not be disturbed in the worship of the Lord, so this place in the great mountains of Italy and France was where they began to travel to, move to, like many came from England once to get away from the persecutions in England. About this time the great capitol of the Roman world was moved to Constantinople, or what was then known as Byzantium, but the name was changed to Constantinople, in honor of its founder and first ruler of Rome that allowed christian liberty, but he did not long stay in this mind till he turned his wrath against those that did not explain the bible to suit his main preachers who wanted to be seen in the eye of the world.

Constantine was so busy building his new city that he did not bother about religion much. This too put him further from the hiding place of the Waldenses. But the contentions about religion were waxing hotter all the time till the great division at Rome came up. Cornelius was a leader in idolatry that was coming into the church, and Novatian firmly opposed it and this led to a great division that spread over the world, like the split about the New School Baptists. Cornelius got a great majority, and soon the other party had to get further or be burnt at the stake. This persecution was awful and it was miserable to give up home, friends, and all that was dear to get out at night and travel in disguise, and if caught there was no hope. How can people support such a persecuting religion?

After a while the pope's officers began to slip into the valleys and go back and make reports as to what kind of people are these Waldenses? They had heard terrible reports of their filthy ways of living, that they just had one eye in the middle of their heads, and that their throats were black, and that they cooked and ate their babies frequently. But this was finally proven, even by their persecutors, to be lying slanders.

This dragon is the government of the Roman empire that not only persecuted the christians, but overthrew the Jewish nation at Jerusalem and carried them to remotest parts of the earth. There never has been but just a little while at a time that the Roman government has not been persecuting the saints. It has persecuted both Jews and christians alike. It was the great iron beast in Daniel's prophecy that, "was diverse from all others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, break in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet." Daniel 7:19.

This terrible beast became the great Red Dragon of the twelfth chapter of Revelation, that persecuted the woman that brought forth the man child, and she fled from him into the wilderness. But he kept on persecuting her. "When the dragon saw that he was cast into the earth, he persecuted the woman that was clothed with the sun." Old Herod began his persecution of the disciples of Jesus, and took John and had his head cut off, just to please a woman whom John taught could not be of the kingdom that Jesus was here setting up. The chaff is to be blown out and cast into the fire and to be burnt up with unquenchable fire." It can not remain with the wheat when the thresher is doing its normal and God ordained work. The trash is to be blown out.

The dragon as a dog that is enraged because he is not allowed in the house, watches his opportunity to fight the children as he catches any of them where he can get at them. John rejected the generation of vipers because they did not bring forth fruits meet for repentance. They were not regenerated and therefore had no place in the kingdom of Jesus, and his word has no place in them. Thus we see more clearly that the Lord Jesus called out his church from the world and they are not of the world, and neither does the world hear them.

When the world sees that we must require evidence of regeneration they do not like us for they feel to be as good as anybody. Really they think they are better than the followers of the Lamb, for they do not have enough of the true light to see themselves as poor wretched sinners. The great history of the persecutions of God's people runs through the entire book of Revelation, for they have ever been a persecuted people. By this very thing you are to know them. You never saw a clove persecuting a hawk, never. It is the hawk, the wolf that proves its nature and life work by its fruits--works. That is the most direct way in which to tell them. Are we so blind that we have reached a time and place in history that we can not apply this test ? Who now is the persecutor? Let us beware how we misrepresent what the other fellow says, anti put on it a far fetched meaning that the other had no idea of presenting. This is seen in debaters sometimes. Trying to put some extreme thought in the other person's remarks that the other was as far from believing as the one that was pressing the extreme idea on the other, and making it appear that this is just what the other fellow holds. Newspapers are doing just this if they misrepresent another's views, anti at the same time refuse to allow the fellow that is misrepresented to even explain himself in said paper. Such paper will sooner or later be turned against the party that keeps up this course. Its a bad spirit. Let us turn from it and use the paper to say kind things and tender things. "Harsh words stir up strife."

Once upon a time a man found something in the road smaller than a mouse, and began to beat it with a club. As he beat it, it began to get larger. He got him a rail and began to try to beat it out and down so as to get it smaller, anti still it got larger and larger. He kept beating it till it got so large in the road that it was something like an elephant and obstructed the travel. Finally an old man came along and asked this fighting man to quit beating on said object and lay his rail down. This was done and the object began to get smaller and smaller and finally crawled off in the grass and gave no more trouble. The name of the object that this man was beating on was strife. Let us for Christ's sake learn a great lesson.

"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." Rev. 12:15, 16.

Here is the history of the persecutions of the church for hundreds of years. The book of Revelation is condensed history as well as the condensed practical things as taught in the New Testament. High floods of water generally drown people, destroy property, and deluge the country, so that crops are destroyed. So when the popish authorities sent their orders out, it was to destroy the people, and confiscate their property, if they would not give up their religion. These orders to destroy and kill originated with the clergy and the pope, or the ruling bishop at Rome. Now this did not take such a dreadful course till after the rise of the government of Constantine, about 318-25-49. There were what is called the ten persecutions before this but it came from the heathen idolaters, and not from those professing the christian religion. I had rather be in a heathen land and never hear a sermon, nor see a bible, than to be in a christian land and a partaker of ignorance and persecution against other christian people. These floods of water also include her doctrines that are false and wicked and contrary to the doctrine that is taught in the New Testament. These hurled at the followers of Jesus to cause people to hate them, and to get ready to help kill them, so as not to be caught by these floods that are coming from the dragon. The preachers got Constantine to do the killing with his big army. We will come to him as the beast in the next chapter. "The earth helped the woman." The word earth is used to represent civil government quite frequently, but this word is not always used as a figure, but when so used it seems to me to represent temporal government. The different other governments got jealous of certain governments and opposed these laws, or got mad at them from some other reason, opposed the work that the dragon was putting forth to destroy the church of Christ. The successive dukes of Savoy, near the Waldenses did not want to see these Waldenses killed. They were his best citizens. They were prompt to pay their taxes, could be relied on in business matters. They were quiet and peaceable and industrious. This kind of people make a government strong. He generally burnt the orders and bulls that the pope sent him to kill and destroy these people. This part of the government swallowed the flood that the dragon cast out of his mouth. Then too, just about the time that a great inroad was to be made on the Waldenses, something would turn up that the king would be compelled to go against some other enemy that was crowding him on some other part of his territory, so that he would be compelled to hurry over to the other side, and leave off the pursuing of the christians.

Nearly all the wars on the earth since about A. D. 325, have been more or less about religion. The preachers, like they did before the civil war, want to have a say in running the government. This was what brought on the Revolutionary war. Forcing the colonies to pay the salaries of preachers. This brought on the Spanish American war, and the war of 1812, also the war between England and France, and also the Thirty Years war, and the wars with the French Huguenots, the wars of Italy with Germany, and between France were more or less about religion. The wars of King Charles the Fifth with the German Protestants, were to hold up the doctrine of the pope. Also most of the wars of King Phillip the Second. Nearly all the wars of Charles the Great and his father Pepin, were to set up the power of the pope over the Lombards and over the Germans and over Spain. Charles Martel defeated the Mohamedans to protect the Catholics' hold on the western Europe. Justinian sent out Belisarius and Narses the Eunuch, as two of the mightiest generals that ever graced the Roman Empire to set up the doctrine of Constantinople, and they saved western Europe to the Catholics till the Mohammedans took Constantinople in 1453. See Myers History, p. 462. The coming of the Mohamedans give the deadly wound to the beast.

But after the battle of Tours, and the great victory of Charles Martel, the deadly wound was healed. The king of the Franks that gave France its name, whose name was Clovis, fought his wars mostly about religion. When Charles the Fifth started his war with the German Protestants, he was compelled to turn south against the Mohamedans in Spain, as they were making inroads upon him. This kept him off of them for some eight years. Then just as he was getting ready again to go against these Protestants and Baptists, the king of France declared war on him, and this kept him some eight or ten years more.

"Had Charles the Fifth been free from the outset to devote all his energies to the work of suppressing the Lutheran heresies, it is difficult to see what would have saved the reform doctrines within his dominions from total extirpation. But fortunately for the reformers, Charles' attention, during all the first part of his reign, was drawn away from the serious consideration of church questions, by attacks upon his dominions of two of the most powerful monarchs of the times--Francis the First of France, and Suleiman the Magnificent, Sultan of Turkey. Whenever Charles was inclined to proceed to severe measures against the Protestant princes of Germany, the threatening movements of one or both of these enemies, at times acting in concert, and alliances, forced him to postpone his crusade against the heretics for a campaign against foreign foes." Myers, page 531 (1585).

The Baptists had largely fled to Germany and so this opposition by the powers was a flood of waters swallowed up to keep back Charles the Fifth with his big army coming over there and killing them all out. Thus the earth helped the woman. "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." The main headquarters of the beast and his seat were at the city of Rome. The headquarters of the pope was at the city of Rome, and also the great ruler in the finance of the earth, that held the control of the money, lived at the city of Rome. Thus Rome came to be the largest city in the world. How come it to go down? Because the first beast lost his power, and the two-horned beast rose up, with its headquarters at London, more toleration, caused the people by the thousands to leave Rome and the first beast, and go to London, which was the capital for the second beast.

"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. 12:17.

This is the last verse of the twelfth chapter of the book of Revelation, that treats of the Woman that fled into the wilderness. This text shows that the old dragon kept on in war with the true church of Jesus Christ. The friends of the old beast are the enemies of this church and ever will be. Why was the dragon wroth with the woman? Might as well ask, why was Cain mad at his brother Abel? Abel was not doing anything in the world against him. Why not let him alone? Like Joseph's brethren there was an envy there that proves the old satanic principle. "The patriarchs moved with envy sold Joseph into Egypt, but God was with him." This principle has covered the earth with blood; The dragon was wroth with the woman. He commenced persecuting her in the days of Jesus and the apostles. King Herod tried to kill the young child Jesus but God protected Jesus by causing him to flee into Egypt. The lamb always flees from the wolf. Herod and his government was the wolf, and Jesus was the true Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.

Herod kept on pursuing the people of God. He killed John the Baptist, and his government later on killed off some of the apostles. And also crucified the Lord Jesus, and kept up the opposition to the clear old church of Christ right on till the days of Constantine, A. D. 318, and on. But when this great general defeated all his enemies and took control of the great Roman Empire, he proclaimed liberty of worship for all the christians.

This did not look good to the followers of Jesus, and the dear old church of Christ. But this did not continue long, till Constantine began to take sides with a certain faction that had started up a fuss about religious matters anti the persecution went on in a different way. See a so called christian Emperor persecuting one side, joining an overbearing faction. This faction grew very fast as soon as the government began to persecute. The big side got very popular and soon got to be an awful power as we shall see in the next chapter.

The last verse in this chapter gives the interpretation of who this woman is that was clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet. Speaking of the woman, it says: "which keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." This now clearly defines who this peculiar woman is. She has the commandments of Jesus. This is then of course the church and the ministry. Notice also that she has the "Testimony of Jesus." What is this testimony of Jesus? It is nothing more nor less than the pure gospel as preached by Christ and the apostles. These apostles were witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus and the gospel of grace, and they rejected the doctrine of works as being sufficient to save sinners or as bearing any part of this glorious work. It was exclusively the work of Jesus Christ to save sinners and not the work of man. They must be born from above, be born of the Spirit. "By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." Eph. 2:8. Here is the gospel in a nutshell when revealed in its fullness. It is really the work of God and not of man. Salvation came from eternal glory, by the mercy of our covenant keeping God, who saw the end from the beginning, and provided a ransom in the eternal covenant according to the covenant of life and grace before the foundation of the world. Jesus stood as a Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

In the old covenant of Moses there was a little box called the ark of the testimony. This was the main thing for the Jews to keep with them. When they went to war they took this ark with them into the field of battle. If it remained with them, they were always victorious in battle. One could chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight. But if they lost this ark all was lost. The enemy would get the victory over them. This took place when the ark was once captured by the Philistines. It was not only necessary to keep the ark of the testimony, but that they should also keep the commands of God. This is also the case in the gospel. We must have the gospel and also the simple plain commands of Jesus. So then as the old Jews lost the ark and it was given to their enemies. So in disobedience and idolatry, we lose the testimony.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 02 November 2006 )
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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.