A few brief remarks on "A Letter on Revelation 12"

J. N. Darby.

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My dear brother,

I have read the tract you gave me. I confess to you such reading is an unwelcome task. I do not speak of this tract in particular, but in general of those that are written to maintain particular views, and not to act on souls. I am not blaming - I leave liberty to - those who think it right; but it is a very ungracious task, that of examining a brother's views to see if they are right, instead of learning what one can, and leaving the rest aside. However, as various views are maintained, it may be well to examine them with all patience, that brethren may, on the one hand, judge quietly; and that, on the other, there may not be the uneasiness in the minds of those who think these views wrong, of supposing mistakes current unanswered - a feeling which often produces restlessness of mind; and the fruits of righteousness are sown in peace.

Many points, which seem of importance when undiscussed, dwindle wonderfully when all that is to be said is brought out; for saints, as all men, are apt to be fonder of their own ideas than other reasonable people are of them, when they see the light. On the other hand, the most unfounded have weight with many when unexamined; and are supposed to be unanswerable because they are unanswered - a supposition that it is natural enough their authors should be prone to encourage - a sorrowful ground this for saints to be on, but this does not make what I say untrue.

But to proceed to the examination of the tract, the first paragraph struck me as shewing considerable inattention to the force of phrases in Scripture. The throne of Jesus promised to him that overcomes is spoken of as being to the same effect as the man-child being caught up to God and His throne. Surely there is little or nothing in common between these two passages.

Sitting on the throne of God is never promised to the saints overcoming; nor does catching up seem to me the same thing at all as being seated on Christ's throne as a reward. The man-child was saved from the mouth of the dragon ready to devour it as soon as born; and was caught away, and the woman left to be persecuted. Yet if this interpretation be not right, the whole structure of this chapter, on which the entire argument of the tract is founded, falls with it.

25 I also have a word to say about hope. I am very happy to say that I do believe the hope of the saints is quite independent of the question, "How long will it be before what we are hoping for will be realised?" But, is it independent of it, if it is laboriously sought to be proved that I must not expect it before a certain course of events is accomplished? This seems to make my hope dependent on these events. I do seriously believe our hope to be the bride's hope of the Bridegroom in virtue of the Holy Ghost dwelling in her, and not to be founded on mere prophetic testimony as to events. She is waiting for God's Son from heaven, independent of all events, and ignorant of how long it will be ere He returns. But, if it be a delusion - hoping to see Him before certain events occur - my hope is hardly independent of these events. And, if there seem delay, God is careful to assure us that He is not slack concerning His promise; and this reason and no other is assigned for the seeming long procrastination, that God is not willing that any should perish. This is God's way of treating this subject. It never occurred to the Holy Ghost to say it was all imagination to expect the Lord from heaven until certain earthly events should occur.* If the accomplishment of the hope be dependent on certain events, its effect in the soul cannot be entirely independent of them. Nor do I see, if its moral power be really entirely independent of them, why so much pains is taken to press them as necessarily happening before it arrives. If it be not important to think it near, it seems at any rate to be so to prove that it is not. I do not call this its being "quite independent of the question, How long will it be before it is realised?" I believe it is so. But, if so, why so anxious to prove it cannot yet take place?

{*It may be alleged he does so elsewhere in 2 Thessalonians 2. But I do not hesitate to affirm that he does exactly the contrary, and contrasts the presence of the Lord for the church, and His day for the world, so as to leave the present hope untouched, and set the saint's mind free from all uneasiness as to the day.}

But there is another point which is important, and that is not merely that the thing promised is sure. The Lord considers it important that the saints should be always expecting it as a present thing, and wishing for it as a present thing - I say expecting it as a present thing, uncertain when it will come. Thus He speaks in Luke 12:35-40: "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately . . . . And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants . . . . Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not." And again, verses 43, 44: "Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath." Here surely they are told to be expecting always. Now, would the certainty that it must be two or three thousand years off not affect this state of mind?* I say also, wishing for it as a present thing, as it is written, "The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And . . . He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus," Rev. 22:17, 20.

{*As the letter says, "Nor should we say it at all the less if we were sure his coming would not take place for thousands of years."

26 The certainty, glory, and heavenly character of the hope, most important as it is, is not all. The Lord insists a great deal on a constant expectation of it, uncertain when it will be; a great deal on the tone and character of mind connected with this state of expectation of the Lord, coming and finding us so in our service. Now I do not deny that particular revelations may have been made to individuals, which shewed them that they should depart first, and so far modified their individual apprehensions. And I do not doubt that a saint may have a just and true conviction that his service is not yet finished, and yet be always waiting because he knows not when the Lord may come. But this does not the least affect the general state and expectation of the church. And is there the least analogy between such a particular revelation, and putting a whole train of events on earth as necessarily to happen before the church can expect the Lord?

And, indeed, were I to adopt the system proposed to me, I should not expect the Lord at all until a time when I was able to fix the day of His appearing. And this is what we are told is a sober and true way of expecting Him. I say fix the day, for I cannot expect His coming until the abomination of desolation is set up at Jerusalem, and then I can say, Now in twelve hundred and sixty days the Lord will be here. And this fixing by signs and dates, I am told, is the sober way of waiting. But it is quite clear that it is contrary to the way the Lord Himself has taught me to expect Him. It is clear that if these signs are to be expected for the church, I have nothing to expect till they are fulfilled. I may expect them, and have my mind fixed on them, but not on Christ's coming. And, when one particular one happens, I can name to a day His coming.

27 This is not what Christ has taught me, and therefore I do not receive it. And remark how, in predicting to Peter that he would be cut off - not telling it to the church, but to him - the Lord, by His reply to his enquiry as to John, leaves the church again in this vague expectation. "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" This was soon disseminated; and the rumour spread that he would not die. But the conclusion, like most drawn from Scripture, was very wide in fact, though plausible in reasoning, from what the Lord meant, or had said. There is not, nor can be, faith in a conclusion, because a conclusion is not a revelation.

Note, moreover, that a particular revelation to an individual about his death is the strongest possible proof that the ordinary doctrine of the Lord to the church as to His coming was such, that it could not be expected that such persons should so die before it, and that this ought not to be expected, since it required a special revelation to make them think they would. "I must shortly put off this tabernacle as the Lord hath shewed me." Was it not curious that there should be such a revelation of an individual's death, if the sanctioned [?constant] expectation was, not that they were not to expect it [death], but the Lord's coming in their life-time? Though it was never said positively when. Hence the apostle says: "We which are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord." And this expectation was so vivid that, while he sanctions it by saying "we which are alive," etc., he has to reassure them by explaining that those deceased would be raised first, and enjoy the same coming and glory.

I find then the positive teaching of Scripture quite contrary to the reasoning that it makes no difference. Scripture teaches me otherwise, and I reject the reasoning. I pass over the triumphant argument which was used by the millenarians against the opposers of the personal reign, that if there were certainly a thousand years to come first, we could not be expecting the Lord from heaven.* It appears that this was all a delusion. It served its turn. But, as any rate, it would be more honest now to tell them it was all a mistake.

{*"We should not say it ('a little while') at all the less if we were sure His coming could not take place for thousands of years." There is nothing like saying a thing plainly. But is that the way Scripture speaks?}

28 And now, before I examine the critical explanation of the chapter, let me advert to some other important statements - admissions of truth I would say, though the grounds on which others have affirmed these truths are disputed, as (for so we shall see by and by) those of the champions of this system are contradicted also. And I notice this, because I am sincerely glad, while noticing freely that with which I do not agree, to bring forward that with which I do.

The whole body of the saints treated of in the Revelation are recognised as being quite distinct from what is commonly spoken of as the church. I do not mean that it is stated that they do not form part of the church; but that both classes of sufferers noticed in this book are treated as quite distinct from us - considered perhaps superior; but quite distinct. The book of Revelation does not apply to the church in its present state save in principle. The saints spoken of in it are not the primitive church, nor the church in its fallen state since (save in chapters 2 and 3), but an entirely new class of persons, and a different state of things. It is not stated whether there will be saints of the old or actual class of believers at the same time; but if so, they are not mentioned. Nothing can be more positive or decided than the writer's statement on the subject.

But what is there for us in all this? Nothing, except for the principle of the unity of the body.

Again, "Thus it would appear that the latter part of the Revelation, that is, from chapter 4 to the end is, as far as the history of the saints in the earth is concerned, a history of a certain company of saints, born in the latter end of this dispensation, that is, a short time before Christ comes with His saints to execute judgment," etc., "that this part refers to the closing period of our dispensation - the last few years of it, and that it is all unfulfilled." I do not dwell on its being our dispensation or not now - it is quite a new company which does not yet exist. So that there is nothing for us in it all, save on the principle of the unity of the body.

29 "The primitive church as a body had failed, but in the last part of this book we have the history of a company of saints who do overcome."

"Who this company are, further, time can only shew. They are such as have not been from the beginning hitherto. For their sakes I believe this book of the Revelation was very principally written, to lead them up to their gory bed, though, of course, in principle, it belongs to all who are appointed unto sufferings for Christ's sake and so to all the church."

Further: "The martyrs seen in chapter 20:4, etc., are two parties of martyrs belonging to the company represented by the man-child," etc. We are going to discuss the man-child in a moment; but here we have the two parties of martyrs, besides the church in general and previous martyrs who are clearly to sit on the thrones that were placed, but who are not, as regards the saints in the earth, the immediate object of the Revelation. So that we have the church in general, and two distinct parties of martyrs, to whom, as regards the saints on earth, the Revelation specially belongs in its statements. Having then the distinct common ground, that there are these three classes (namely, the church in general, primitive and fallen; those beheaded for the witness of Jesus, etc.; and those who had not worshipped the beast), let us now enquire as to the detail of these last two classes, as there is no difficulty as to the primitive and fallen church: and indeed these two parties form the subject of the tract.

The author begins by telling us, that the original literally translated would be "those that remain of her seed." Now I humbly suggest that it would not. I am not indeed exactly aware of the difference sought to be established between the remnant "and those that remain," unless it be meant to convey the idea that, some of her seed having been cut off, certain others remain. Otherwise it is a distinction without a difference. At any rate "those that remain" may convey this meaning to a reader who must take on trust that this is a more literal translation. But I would very much caution the unlearned reader against these new translations, unless they are accompanied with reasons which other competent scholars can weigh. I avow broadly here that I have hardly ever found they could be trusted. Now I judge here, that "the remnant of her seed" is much more correct than "those that remain of her seed," so far as there is any difference between them. There is no verb used as in the new translation, nor word answering to "those." It is true that the word translated "remnant," is plural and not singular. But in English, whenever "remnant" is used of what relates to individuals, it has a plural signification. We may say "a remnant of a piece of cloth"; but when I say "some of the men did so and so, and the remnant so and so"; or "one of the men did thus, and the remnant thus"; that would always in English convey the idea of several. If I meant only one, I should say, in the first case, "another"; in the latter case, "the other." But "the remnant" or "the rest" would never be used for one. The translation therefore is perfectly exact. The Greek word used, for sense, may always be translated "others" or "the others." The English idiom would hardly bear "the others of his seed," "the others," in English, being generally used absolutely.*

{*Where the class first mentioned, with which the Greek work 'loipoi' is used has a characteristic force as a class, it generally includes also, I think, the idea of another character. But this depends on its use, and not its meaning.}

30 The writer then takes the man-child as identified with "her seed," and so as a company, but considers "the remnant of her seed" not to be those besides the man-child (which would seem the natural use of the words: inasmuch as this child having been mentioned, the rest of her seed would seem to mean others besides the one who had been spoken of), but the man-child to be a whole company, and those that remain to be part of that company, left after another part have been martyred: to wit, those of verse 11. But first, these are never said to be her seed at all. Nor are they in any way whatever connected with the woman. There is a manifest break between verses 6 and 7, as is clear from this consideration, that the woman flies into the wilderness in verse 6 (up to which, I believe, the account is characteristic more than historical), and she does not flee into the wilderness (v. 14) till after the consequence of what happened in verse 7. Hence it is clear that verse 7 precedes verse 6 in historic time. Now, when it is said the dragon persecuted the woman, it is repeated (v. 13), "which brought forth the man-child"; and, after having again brought her on the scene (only on earth), as mother of this particular child, it is said, when she fled, that the dragon went to make war with the remnant of her seed. I believe the remnant of her seed to be characteristic, and to refer to the woman, intimating the seed was hers; but as far as it relates to any other seed, the only seed of the woman mentioned is the man-child. And any specific reference to verse 11 I believe entirely a mistaken one; though in a very vague general way I should recognise every saint as the woman's seed,* as far as I have any definite notion of what the woman means.

{*And in this sense the remnant of her seed would be connected with those mentioned in verse 2 as a remnant. But this is quite another view of the matter.}

31 But I do not believe the man-child to be properly a company of saints.* I believe the term to be characteristic, and not, so to speak, aggregate. What the woman (whose weakness as on earth, whatever God's counsels were, was afterwards apparent) brought forth was a male son, to be a man of might; a male that was to rule with a rod of iron. The woman was left to be persecuted in her weakness; the one who was to be the mighty holder of the rod of iron was caught up out of the way. This is to me evidently characteristic. That Christ will hold this place is certain from Psalm 2, and that it is given to the church along with Him is clear from the promise to Thyatira. But this only proves their adjunction to Him, without shewing that this man-child is a company,** which seems to me to be entirely unproved; because the expression "remnant of her seed" does not in the smallest way prove that which was mentioned of her seed before to be a company.

{*Still less a company of saints divided into these two parts by the chapter, namely, those of verse 11, and the remnant of her seed.}

{** It is curious to compare the apostle's reasoning in Galatians with the author's in pages 2, 3 - where it is clean contrary on the same word. The only symptom of proof alleged is, that then the remnant of her seed would be also symbolic children representing companies. But it is the author's assumption that the man-child is a symbolic child representing a company. He recognises that some consider it to mean Christ: and, as the apostle reasons in Galatians, therefore them that are His; but merely by a subsequent process of reasoning. I have already said it is characteristic in my judgment. Besides the remnant of her seed is to me a general idea of relationship with the woman. Nor are they necessarily used as a symbol because the other is - no more than the very same word in chapter 19:21, "the remnant were slain," proves that they were all symbols like the beast. There is no force whatever in running one symbol or figure into another where they are not used together. But this is the only argument attempted. Christ as the seed of Abraham, in a certain sense, represents a company. We are Abraham's seed by faith in Him. Do each of us represent a company of Abraham's seed?}

32 I have already said I believe the term more general, and to bring the woman more forward than the previous seed; but, so far as it refers to it, it is to me characteristically, not as a company. At all events the only seed mentioned, and that repeated immediately before, is the man-child. But if this fall, as the proof does to me, entirely, then all the system of the writer as to these two remnants goes with it - as he says "adopting this . . . we come at once to those conclusions." But then, not adopting it (and I think it entirely false, of which every one will judge for himself), all the conclusions fall with it. For all the peculiar views as to these remnants are founded on this - a slender base it seems to me for such important conclusions. But this is not all: I admit the two parties, or remnants, besides the body of the church in general. It is only their character which is in question.

First, "The man-child does not mean Christ." If Christ is to be excluded, it is very singular that this child should be designated by the title which is intrinsically Christ's - a man-child who should rule, etc. This is the way he is to be known. Now this title properly belongs to Christ.

Next, "The brethren mentioned in verses 10 and 11 are those represented by the man-child; a part of whom having been slain," etc. Now the brethren, verses 10 and 11, are spoken of as a distinct and complete class, who had been in a given position previous to the casting down of the accuser, and had overcome therein: not of a whole company, part slain, part left. Nor, indeed, is there anything said of the slaying of the remnant of her seed in the chapter. At any rate the brethren are not a company, partly slain, partly left, but a distinct class definitely described whose case is ended.

This third allegation is sustained by a reason (assumed, as we have seen, without proof) that the remnant of the seed are a part of those represented by the man-child; and that, as we shall see, contrary to the word itself: thus confirming the incorrectness of the whole supposition. Because, if the man-child be caught up before this war against the remnant of the seed, it is clear that this remnant cannot be a part of the man-child, so previously caught up as its final reward. Now what does the word say? The child was caught up to God and His throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness. The order here is pretty plain, I apprehend: that these two events take place on the birth of the male child, He is caught up, and the woman flies. And in the order stated. Now it is upon the woman's fleeing into the wilderness, that the dragon proceeds to persecute the remnant of her seed. Now against this very plain statement of Scripture, what is the reason given why the catching up of the man-child is after the making war with the remnant? Simply that it must be so because the remnant is part of the man-child. Would it not be much safer to conclude that it is not a part, because the scripture places the catching up previous to the woman's flight, and the woman's flight previous to the war with the remnant?

33 But, further, deliverance from the devouring mouth of the dragon is not surely our ultimate destiny, nor catching up to God's throne either. It may be a general idea of glorious security and honour, but it is not what is anywhere presented as our ultimate destiny. As to our sitting on a throne (that is, on Christ's throne as a Son of man), this is an important point, because if so (and I have no doubt of the justness of the objection), the whole system of the writer entirely falls with it. For my own part, I am satisfied that the catching up of the man-child has no kind of reference to any final state at all: whereas it is assumed as the basis of the argument, and then the brethren and the remnant made the different parts which compose it in their previous condition. It seems to me that reading the chapter attentively would refute this. At least the basis of it ought not to be assumed, to wit, that the catching up is the final glory.

The fourth conclusion is a like argument. The remnant are assumed to be a part of the man-child, and therefore he cannot be caught up. The answer is, The scripture says he is. Moreover, the war of the dragon and the persecutions of the beast are assumed to be the same: or at least that the saints of God and the remnant of the woman's seed are the same, and the time spoken of the same. This may be, but it is a great deal to assume without any proof The fifth merely assumes what we have been discussing, and therefore I pass it over.

As to the sixth, I do not understand why it is said that the blood of these saints is mentioned (chapter 17:6; chap. 18:24; chap. 19:2), and that the martyrdom of the first part takes place under her reign, part being under the beast's, when the passages quoted state that the blood of all the saints was found in her.

34 Seventh: I admit fully that the martyrs of the two last classes, though "they are such as have not been from the beginning hitherto," are the brethren of the saints previously at rest. But I would ask why it is said, "hailing the casting out of the accuser through the martyr spirit of those represented by the man-child." There is not a hint of this in the scripture. That, in general, God considers His saints in His judgments is true; but here, the casting out is attributed to another thing entirely - namely, a certain war in heaven, whereon those above rejoice, because a company whom they call their brethren are thus delivered. Where we may remark that there is a company in heaven who can rejoice in this, who call these others their brethren. Moreover, if this were so, it seems strange that what delivered the one, if this were the reason for it, should plunge the remnant into war and persecution at the same time. And why "the morning star of their expectations"? "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," etc. And, let us remember, that this proclamation of strength and power is consequent on the victory over the dragon, by which he was finally cast out of heaven. All the statements made here are really merely figures of speech. Again, twice it is repeated that the souls under the altar were long since martyred. Perhaps so: but there is not a word to rest this on, save the cry, "How long, O Lord?" We are also told, that the answer is given "to make us know that the former must wait for the latter." Wait for what? Not for everything clearly. For white robes were given to them. What they had cried about was vengeance on those on the earth: and they are told they must wait till their brethren were killed.

How "we come at once" to the eighth conclusion I cannot tell. I can only say, I do not see one word of the paragraph borne out by Scripture. They are, it is said, this, and they are that. But in vain I search why. The term virgins is clearly misunderstood. Believing a lie, and guile in the mouth, are hardly the same thing. And I would humbly ask how a remnant at the end are the first-fruits. Though there is nothing for us, in all this, still, the terrors of that day are sought to be inflicted on the soul,* by being told that we should not be unprepared for all this: though I know not why, if there is nothing for us.

{*It is worthy of remark, that wherever the New Testament speaks of latter-day trials and signs, it tells disciples not to be troubled, to lift up their heads, and so on. Let this be compared with the use often made of things with saints.}

35 We are again told that the circumstances of the saints under the former of the persecuting powers were not so bad as under the latter. Scripture, I repeat, tells me that "in her was found the blood of all saints": that "she was drunken" with it. The rest of this page tells us that the chapters of Revelation before this chapter 12 are a preparation, by the display of millennial glories, and the judgment of the ungodly, of these precious ones for their trial. Is this the great object of the Revelation? That it may be so used I will not dispute. But is the church at large not instructed by these millennial glories? "The unnumbered multitude who came out of great tribulation, I consider to be the whole church of God." But why is the word "the" great tribulation, so much insisted on elsewhere, omitted here? But I pass over this.

But I must ask, Why is the woman the new covenant? Is the new covenant to flee into the wilderness, while those who are born of it do not, war being made against them? Or why is the moon (Israel) put under the feet of the new covenant? Or why is the moon Israel? or the crown of stars a heavenly family? There may be some elements of truth in all this, but a system thus arranged (might I not say, previously in the mind, and passages thus adapted to it?) cannot inspire confidence, when they are accompanied by no proof at all. And what is the meaning of the dragon's knowing how to cast down the saints of the heavenly places? The dragon does cast the stars to earth. Is he able to take Christ's saints out of heavenly places? And here, page 3, we find the contradiction too of the order on which all the previous argument of the tract was based; and the plain order of the passage, to which I already adverted, is recognised. The child is caught up, etc. "Next the woman has to flee." But then how is the catching up the final destiny of those who are persecuted after the woman has fled? or how can it take place after their martyrdom?

And again I ask, How do the saints ascribe this victory ("now is come the kingdom") to their brethren in the earth? They had overcome while he was not cast down. That was their victory; and a glorious one it was, to overcome by blood, and testimony when the kingdom was not come; but that is not what is celebrated here. That these saints overcome is clear, or they would not be crowned; but I see nothing at all of a company that overcame. Their brethren overcame; but they are spoken of as all other overcomers. Nor do they cause the accuser to be cast out of heaven. Nor is it said that they cause the beast and the false prophet to be cast into the lake of fire. That dreadful fate happens to them because they are found openly opposing and making war on the Lamb. No doubt they had sadly treated the saints in the way, and thus accumulated guilt on their heads; but the cause of their casting into the lake of fire was their being found in open arms against the Lamb. "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb," is not said of those under the beast. See chapter 15:2.

36 Nor is the difference unimportant. The saints had gotten victory over the accuser through that blood, when he was not cast down. That is very intelligible; nor is any other victory ascribed to them, unless we add victory over the fear of death: nor other instrument of victory besides the blood, but the word of their testimony. All this part of the statement therefore is unfounded too. When it is said that the church's faithfulness casts him out, I am not aware upon what it is founded. Christ's power casts him out; and I am not aware, save what we have already discussed, where its exercise is attributed to the church's faithfulness. I used to hear quoted, "when the Son of man cometh will he find faith on the earth?" The promise to the church of Philadelphia, which is connected with the promise of His coming quickly, is connected with a very different description of the state of the church.

The latter end of this first paragraph of page 10, is very strange. The accuser is cast out only by the flowing of the blood of the saints. No doubt this is avenged therein; but how does this cast him out? Or why has all the blood previously shed not done so? Besides, how is going out used here? Again, if this flowing of blood casts out Satan, how is it he makes it still flow when he is cast out? It is in vain to say, "verse 11, I consider, belongs to the whole company (I might ask, why so?) the others being in the first struggle though not put to death in it": because, according to the writer's system, they are put to death after the accuser is cast out, and that casting out they have obtained by identification with those who were joined with them in casting him out in the first struggle.

37 Lastly, we are told, "the view which counts those not of the church at all who are among the noblest of her sons, or if of the church, that their brethren will be caught up before their martyrdom, thus nipping in the bud the noblest ambition on the earth, namely, that of being of the company of those who, with their lives in their hands, go forth in testimony against earth's chiefest destroyers. This view, I believe, a more careful reading of this book will shew to be utterly without foundation."

Now all this may, forgive me the word, sound very well. But let us search the scripture as to this same period. Are not those who listen to the Lord's words (and I suppose these are the noblest sons of the church, assuming now that it is the church) desired to flee when they see the abomination of desolation, because the time of their testimony against the earth's chiefest destroyer is over? Are the disobedient then, who do not escape from the tribulation through the neglect of Christ's counsel, to be considered as cultivating a noble ambition? They are told to go forth from, not against, this chief destroyer.

But there is another difficulty. The writer refers to Mr. Newton's "Thoughts on the Apocalypse" as giving help on this subject. But a nipping frost sets in from this quarter also; because there we are taught that, during the reign of the beast, Christianity will be removed according to Revelation 12* and Matthew 24 from Judea, and even from the whole scene of his power,** though a few disobedient Christians may be found, and a new testimony, which is not the church's at all, will have been raised up, namely, that of the two witnesses who testify of judgment, not of peace, etc., and cannot give Christian blessings, nor Christian promises. So that the second class, which had the most difficult and so the noblest part, turn out not to have the testimony against earth's chiefest destroyer at all. Their brethren, indeed, Mr. N. will not allow to be caught up; but they are bound to flee, and the testimony is to be decidedly in other hands. I know not whether putting another testimony in other hands on the flight of the remnant be better than the catching up of the saints who may be faithful before the great tribulation; or whether it more encourages the noble ambition of the saints. But of this I am sure, "the more careful reading of the book" cannot sanction, actually nor morally, both these views; perhaps, as I fully believe, neither And let me be forgiven for saying that a more careful, humble reading of the book, with less of a system, would (at least so it seems to me) decide a good deal less and learn a good deal more.

{*See "Thoughts on the Apocalypse," B.W.N., pages 124, 125. The whole subject of the man-child is interpreted entirely otherwise in the same work: see note, page 146.}

{**See "Thoughts on the Apocalypse," B.W.N., pages 148, 149.}

38 I feel the spirit and tone of this tract to be incomparably superior to the others that I have read in support of the same system, but I find the same essential fault: a principle, deduced itself from a train of reasoning that has the support of the system in view, is laid down; and then, assuming this as a basis "we come at once" to a whole train of conclusions, instead of learning from the direct text of the word. And then something is urged that suits the natural and so popular feeling, such as here the noblest ambition of the saints, which I find contradicted in every way the moment I turn to the word. This carries away many. But where? A system takes the place of godly subjection to the word. And alas! this is suited to a decline of spirituality. As this becomes feeble, the exercise of mind, and the play of the mere natural feelings, become a necessary ailment. But to the soul, fresh in its spirituality, the word of God (and oh! how can it be otherwise?) has more sweetness in its least statements (for they come from God) than any indulgence whatever of the mental powers.

I know not what has led the author to publish this tract. For my own part, I desire the freest communication of the brethren's thoughts. It seems to me desirable. They correct and are corrected. There is more confidence and all are helped on. Still, where they are to be published, I cannot help thinking that what one would desire would be, either the fresh, even if imperfect, communication of powerful truths calculated to act by the Holy Ghost on the soul, or the matured result of spiritual enquiry. Such seems fitter to see the public day than every thought that suggests itself. At any rate, it will be owned that that which we publish, we should do so by the guidance of the Spirit of God. If it do not flow from this source, and if it be not done under His direction, it can be but the working of the flesh. I trust I have not erred against this rule in what I now commit to the press. In the particular subject which now occupies attention, I, for my part, desire the fullest publicity of every one's thoughts. Even in human affairs things generally find their level in the long run; and in the things of God surely their level in His sight.

39 I do not feel it necessary to say much on the postscript or last page of this tract. I agree that chapters 12, 13 and 14 are to be kept apart. It is indeed material to the understanding of the book. But I think it will be found that chapters 15 and 16 are a separate part too, "another sign in heaven." I do not see that the announcing the blessing first hinders the chronological order; and, after the general introduction of chapters 4 and 5. I do not see but that all is in orderly narration to the end of chapter 11. I do not exactly understand, however, how there is not particular difficulty in the order of this book, when three chapters in the middle are to be kept apart, the first seal is to be taken last, and the sixth seal, nobody knows why, is later than the seventh seal, and indeed, though in chapter 6, comes after chapter 19:19.* This seems tolerably intricate. Further, what is there about the tares in chapter 14? It may be so, but what proof have we? And, if so, does not the harvest apply to the same sphere of judgment, namely, the earth, as the vintage? But that upsets all Mr. Newton's system, referred to in the same page as affording much help: because, according to him, the harvest of Matthew 13 is of Christendom, outside the earth where the vintage of chapter 14 takes place. Again, is it in order without difficulty to have the great whore destroyed first as a moral system, chapter 17:16, and then as a city, chapter 16:19, and chapter 18? I do not see any very great difficulty in the order of the book myself; but surely it is not putting the first seal last, and the sixth after the seventh, that will render it clear and easy.

{*I do not see any possibility of connecting these two passages, or how chapter 19:19 leaves any room for flight.}

I think also anyone reading attentively Revelation 12 will find its structure not very difficult. Certain mystic characteristic personages are first given: the woman ready to bring forth seen in God's view and purpose as to her; the dragon; then the man-child (he who was to rule) being caught up, the woman is obliged to take the place of weakness on earth and flees to a place prepared of God.

40 Then, verse 7 begins the historical part of the chapter from heaven downwards - the war of Michael with the dragon and his victory over him. The dragon is cast from heaven to earth, and, he finding no more any place in heaven, they who belong to it triumph, and are called upon to triumph; but woe is on the inhabiters of the earth. Then we have the dragon's doings upon earth, in order to shew us specially the woman's place, and, historically, what drove her into the wilderness. She having escaped, the dragon goes to make war with the remnant of her seed, who, as I have said, are characterised as her seed (the dragon making his attack upon them because he was wroth with the woman). I confess I do not see a trace, either of the catching up being the final destiny, the man-child being a company, or the two classes being described afterwards as composing the man-child.

The heavenly history from verses 7-12 inclusive being given, the history on earth of the woman and the dragon is resumed, to wit, the woman who brought forth the man-child.

Regarding the reference to the "Thoughts on the Apocalypse," I think it will be found by an attentive reader, that there is an entire discrepancy, on almost every point, between that work and the "Letter on Revelation 12." But I cannot enter into the detail of the comparison here.