George Gifford's sermons on Revelation

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The Creation Concept

A Guide to Revelation Part I

A Guide to Revelation Part II


Contents

The two witnesses Part 1

The two witnesses Part 2

The woman of Rev 12 Part 1

The woman of Rev 12 Part 2

The woman of Rev 12 Part 3

Gog and Magog Part 1

Gog and Magog Part 2

George Gifford, sermons on Revelation 12

From:

Sermons vpon the whole booke of the Reuelation

by George Gifford.
Richard Field and Felix Kinston, 1599.
Set forth by George Giffard, Preacher of the Word at Mauldin in Essex.

P. 216-242

[Spelling has been modified]

Sermon XXIV

1 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:

2 And she was with child, and cried travailing in birth, and pained, ready to be delivered.

3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven, behold a great red dragon, having seven heads, and ten horns, and upon his heads seven crowns.

4 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 she had brought it forth.

5 And she brought forth a manchild, which should rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her son was taken up to God and to his throne.

6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand, two hundred, and threescore days.

The second vision of this prophecy, which beginneth at the fourth chapter, and continueth to the end of the eleventh, being finished, we are come now to the third vision, which reacheth to the end of this book, in which there be sundry particular visions. There be in this no new matters (for all things were contained in the book sealed with seven seals, all which seals are opened, and the secrets disclosed, in brief and dark manner) but here we shall have some of the same things, even the chief and principal which has been so briefly, and so darkly uttered in the opening of the seals, more largely and more clearly for our better instruction, painted out. For we shall now see in goodly manner described by a vision, first the Church militant upon earth, under the figure of a woman clothed with the sun, &c. Then is there a description of her chief enemy the devil, who as a most ugly monster doth seek to destroy the blessed seed, and so to devour her also, by dispossessing her of that eternal blessedness, of which she hath the promise. Then next follow the descriptions of the chief and principal instruments, which this monster the dragon, even the devil useth against her, which are described under the figures of a monstrous beast with seven heads and ten horns, and of a beast with two horns like a lamb, whose dominion and tyranny against the Saints are set forth. Then do follow the ruins and utter overthrow of the power of the beasts, and the plagues upon the malignant Church which doth worship them, with the condemnation of them all, that is to say, of both the beasts, and of them that take their part, and of the devil. And lastly a most sweet and comfortable description doth follow of the victory, of the glory, and of the eternal felicity of the true Church, after the final destruction of all her enemies. These things are revealed in sundry particular visions, but may be called all one. But before she come unto this victory and glorious triumph, she must encounter with those huge and ugly forenamed monsters, as we shall see by their description.

Come now to the words: there appeared (saith he) a great wonder in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, &c. Here begins the description of the holy Catholic Church, which is called the Spouse of Christ, the Lamb's wife. And that we may have our minds prepared unto a due regard and reverend estimation of the whole matter, which is here handled: S. John saith, there appeared a great wonder in heaven. We are moved at great wonders, and he telleth that here is a great wonder shewed. Look not then here for common matters, and for such as are but of small moment and little to be regarded: but for such indeed as are to be wondered at for their greatness, and which for our profit and salvation, it standeth us greatly upon for to know. First this being (as none can deny) a description of the Church militant upon earth, here ariseth a question: How is it that she appeareth in heaven, for this woman appeareth in heaven, and the Church militant is upon the earth? The answer is plain and easy enough to this. For we must understand, that her birth is from heaven, she is born of God, her inheritance is in heaven, where she shall reign with Christ in glory, she is but a stranger and a pilgrim, and that for a time upon the earth. This is the cause that she appeareth in vision, not upon the earth, but in heaven. This is a great and a wonderful thing to consider, if we could thoroughly weigh it. But the wonder is far greater in the next words, namely, that the Church appeareth in the person, and under the figure of a woman, and hath such monstrous enemies. How shall a woman stand to fight against such horrible enemies, and prevail? What is a woman to the cruel monster the dragon here painted out? What is a woman to those great monstrous beasts that appear in the next chapter, whom the world wondereth at and worshippeth? How shall she fight against these? how shall she be in safety, or how shall she stand? Is it not a wonder of wonders, that she is not utterly swallowed up, and quite destroyed? She hath indeed one which is on her side to uphold her, who is most mighty and invincible, in power far above all her enemies, otherwise she should be swallowed up & utterly devoured, a thousand thousand times. The most glorious power of God, and of our Lord Jesus Christ, sheweth itself in preserving this feeble woman, and in giving her victory over so mighty enemies. All that have eyes to see, must needs confess that this is a very great wonder indeed. And let us for our instruction learn, that we being but as a weak woman in our selves, all our strength wherewith we be armed and made able to stand against the devil and against Antichrist in the spiritual battle, is from our Lord God. We are kept by faith, 1 Pet. 1:5. Our victory is our faith, 1 John 5:4. Let us also, as S. Paul willeth in his Epistle to the Ephesians, put on the whole armour of God, otherwise we are but as a weak woman before these huge enemies. Then it is said, that this woman is clothed with the Sun, the Moon is under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. Here is goodly attire, this is precious and heavenly decking, far above the rich and costly robes, and princely ornaments of the greatest Queens that ever lived upon the earth. Here is a glorious woman, and full of light: the brightness of God is upon her, she shineth pure and clear, she is clothed with the righteousness, and with the innocence and purity of Jesus Christ, who is the son of righteousness, and therefore he saith, she is clothed with the sun. She treadeth under her feet things mutable and transitory, even the things of this world, which are fitly resembled by the Moon that doth alter & change, which he saith is under her feet. Her affection is upon heavenly things, even upon the glory promised and prepared for her in the world to come, and in respect of the same, she treadeth under her feet, that is, she despiseth and setteth light by all the transitory riches, glory, pomp, and carnal pleasures of this world. She is crowned, for verily she is a great Queen, even the spouse of the king of kings: and her crown is not of gold, or precious stones, or pearls, or of any corruptible thing, such as Kings and Queens do use, but of an heavenly matter even of twelve bright stars: for she shall be crowned with heavenly glory, the light which shall never fail. She is brought to the fruition of this heavenly glory, by the pure shining doctrine of the holy Apostles, and therefore it seemeth the number of twelve is upon her crown. This is a thing also of great wonder, that out of so base and miserable estate, yea even from the bondage of corruption and thraldom of eternal damnation, into which all were cast down, the Lord doth lift up his Church into so exceeding high glory. And here I pray ye all to consider, and to take it as a clear doctrine delivered in this place, that so many as will be the true children of the church, they must put on Christ, they must despise this world, and all the vain pomp and the glory thereof, with all riches and carnal pleasures, and as citizens of the heavenly city, even long after their country: And the word of God, even the doctrine of the Apostles, must be their crown. In the next verse it is said, that the woman was with child, and so near her time to bring forth, as that she was in the pains of her travail to be delivered. Here is a great matter to be noted.

It appeareth plainly by the fifth verse following, that the child which the woman travaileth in pain withall to bring forth, is Christ Jesus the blessed seed of the woman, who was promised as the Saviour that should break the serpent's head. For there it is said of him, that he should rule all nations with a rod of Iron. And who is that but Christ the Saviour? He was promised unto Adam and Eve at the first in paradise, immediately after their fall. This promise was renewed unto the Patriarchs, and unto all the faithful in the time of the law. The whole people of Israel waited for the coming of this Messiah, which should vanquish the devil and death. And albeit he was born but of one member of the Church, that is, of the blessed Virgin Mary, in whose womb only he took his flesh, yet may it be said that the whole Church, even all the elect of God: which were before his coming, even did travail with pain to bring him forth, they had such a longing, they had through faith in the promise so vehement and fervent a desire and expectation of his birth. And therefore he saith, that the woman, that is the whole Church, cried travailing in birth, and was pained, they brought him forth by faith. Thus far Saint John hath proceeded in the description of the woman, which is even now ready to bring forth her Saviour: now he painteth out that ugly foul monster her enemy the devil, as he was resembled and shewed in the vision unto him. And there appeared (saith he) another wonder in heaven, behold a great red dragon, &c. We saw good cause why the woman appeared in heaven, although she be warring upon the earth: but this may seem a strange wonder, that the devil appeareth in heaven. Hath this dragon any thing to do there? hath he the power to enter into the heavens? Is not hell his place? what shall we say to this? I noted unto ye before, that the woman hath her birth from heaven, she is born of God and heaven is her country, there lieth her inheritance. I need not stand to prove these things, for who is it that will doubt of them, or call them into question? Now because the dragon seeketh to cast her quite down from this her high dignity and glorious life, and utterly to deprive and to dispossess her of her heavenly inheritance, he appeareth by vision also in the heaven. It is to teach us, that he persueth her even thither, when he laboureth to cast her down from that dignity. For the whole practice of Satan is, to bring down into condemnation in hell with himself, even all the elect and chosen of God if it were possible. He envieth the felicity of the Church, and would draw her down into perdition, and so we see then why in vision he appeareth in heaven: It is not then that he hath any right, any interest or place in heaven: but that he persueth the woman in some sort thither. He is a most envious, a most hateful and cruel enemy of ours.

And now let us see what manner of one he is, what his disposition, qualities, and properties be. He is resembled by a dragon, which is a beast so fierce and cruel, that he cannot be appeased. We do all abhor it, and even as it were tremble at the name of the dragon: and therefore under this figure is painted out the most savage monster of all, full of dragonly felness. He is said to be a great one, and so the more terrible: for look how much the greater, so much the more terrible is a dragon, huge in greatness, very mighty and strong, and a dragon that is fell. Besides his greatness, his colour doth also beray what is in him: for he is all fiery red. He doth burn, yea he is on a flame as it were with hatred and malice, both against God and man. He is a murderer from the beginning (as our Saviour saith) and abode not in the truth, John 8. His bloody and fiery nature seeketh nothing continually, but to destroy and murder both the souls and the bodies of men. And he doth destroy and swallow up so many as God doth not bless and keep from him.

We see here plainly what the woman is to look for at the hands of such an enemy: and we are continually to crave the blessing and protection of God. Is he any way to be appeased or qualified? Is it good to obey his will? May there be any reconciliation, or any truce so much as for one however had with him? But when as the holy scriptures do teach, that there be great multitudes and armies of devils which do compass us about and seek our endless destruction: How is it that he speaketh here but of one dragon, whom he afterward calleth the devil and Satan? The answer unto this is evident: namely, that this one dragon doth represent the whole kingdom of the devils, even the whole infernal power. If there be an head or a master devil, yet all the rest do join in one. Yea they all of them so join together in malice and mischief, as if they were but one, and not many devils. Their malice, their power, their craftiness, and their endeavours, do all concur. Our Savious teacheth, that Satan's kingdom is not divided, Mat. 12. Then further, this dragon hath seven heads, and ten horns, and upon his heads seven crowns. Here is a wonderful, and I may say, almost dreadful description of his subtlety, of his strength, and of his victories, which by his force and subtleties he hath obtained. He hath seven heads, and mark well what that representeth, for as we use to say commonly of a craftsman, he hath a subtle head: so the perfect number of seven heads here do represent the fulness of his subtleties and crafts. The number of seven is used in the scripture for a perfect number to signify many, and so by these seven heads, are signified the manifold and sundry deep slights and subtleties of this horrible enemy, and as I said, even the fulness of them. He is most ugly and most foul in all things, and yet through sleight he can colour the matters that he dealeth in, so far and with so great cunning as to transform himself into the likeness (as Saint Paul saith) of an angel of light, and make the things seem good which he persuedeth. Without the special wisdom of God therefore to guide us, he should out of doubt deceive all; none, not even the wisest should be able to spy out, and to avoid his subtleties. He hath ten horns: and by horns ye know right well that the Scripture everywhere setteth forth, and resembleth strength, and power, and might. Then it is evident, that besides the manifold and subtleties of this cruel dragon, he is of wonderful force and might: for ten is also a perfect number. They be mighty spirits the devils and full of terrible power: For these ten horns do pretend so much. We all of us do understand this, that strength can do much by itself, and subtlety alone doth often prevail to effect very great matters: what shall we think then, where such exceeding great strength resembled by ten horns, and so manifold subtleties, as his seven heads contain, meet and are joined together? These do indeed concur in this fiery dragon, the fierce and cruel enemy of mankind. And what effects they have wrought, is declared in the next words, when he saith, And upon his heads seven crowns. Who do use to wear crowns I pray you but conquerors, which indeed get the victory and do reign?

Now because the dragon by his subtleties especially hath gotten many victories, and hath seduced the nations of the world, even to worship him instead of God, and so hath brougth them into eternal perdition, he is crowned and hath reigned over them as a king, and as a most mighty conqueror. And because his subtleties have so often prevailed, all his heads are crowned. There is not one head that wanteth a crown. This is that mighty tyrant, whom Saint Paul calleth the god of this world, who blindeth the eyes of the infidels, 2 Cor. 4. And whom the same Apostle calleth principalities, and powers, and even the rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual craftiness in the high places. And Saint Peter calleth him a roaring Lion, Eph. 6; 1 Pet. 1:5. Indeed all his dominion is in falsehood, in lies, in error, in darkness, in superstition, in Idolatry, and in all filthiness of other wicked sins. As his subtlety is very great for to seduce, so is he mighty and strong in the corrupt heart of man to lead unto all these. The light, the truth, the pure word of God indeed do vanquish him: and the spouse of Christ is armed therewith, as with a spiritual sword, Eph. 6. It is a very good thing for us, that the holy ghost doth thus paint him out, even in this terrible manner, even to raise us up from security, that we may seek continually to God, to be preserved by his gracious and mighty protection from this dragon. He destroyeth many thousands, yet maketh them believe he never cometh nigh them: he holdeth them in such blindness and contempt of God's word. He woundeth their souls to death with all abominable sin. He worketh mightily in their hearts so far that they obey his will and so honour him as their God, and yet they do not perceive it. If ye will be wise, be instant with the Lord night and day, and let it be your continual prayer to be delivered from him.

It is said further, that his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and threw them down to the earth. This is a marvelous thing, and which we may indeed greatly wonder at, that this monster the dragon is so huge and so great, that his tail reacheth unto, and doth cast down the third part of the stars of heaven? what is the bigness of the whole body, and what is his strength that hath such a tail? Hereby I take it evident, that dragon representeth the whole body of all the devils. How easily were he able to swallow up the woman, if the mighty power of God did not keep her? What is she in herself compared unto him? Glory, honour, thanks, and praise, be unto the most high God, which is greater and mightier than he, and doth so arm even the least and the weakest of all his chosen, and maketh them so strong, that they vanquish and overcome this monster. And it is a glorious victory, that weak flesh through the power of God is so mighty as to overcome him. But it may be demanded, what is meant by this, that his tail doth draw the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them down to the earth? How is that to be understood? We know it is not to be taken literally, that the devil with a very tail ever drew down the stars themselves of the firmament, which do shine in our bodily eyes: We must then take it mystically, and not as the letter soundeth. And ye see before by Christ's own words, when he saith, the seven stars, are the seven Angels of the seven churches, that by stars are signified preachers of the Gospel, because they must shine to the world with pure doctrine, like stars. A great part of them are by the devil's tail cast down. They seemed which are thus cast down, for a time to shine like the stars of heaven, both by the light of heavenly doctrine, and also of upright conversation: but the devil casting in his tail, that is even tempting them with ambition, with vain glory, with covetousness, and with other fleshly lusts and earthly desires, pulleth them down from their brightness. They become even like the rest of the worldlings, which are called the inhabitants of the earth, which he sheweth when he saith, the dragon doth cast them to the earth. This place doth instruct us all, for this is declared to the end, that we may not be astonished, nor stumble at it as at a strange matter, when we see many learned men, that have zealously preached the gospel, and were famous, that in continuance of time do become even mere worldlings, scarce retaining so much as any little shew either of zeal for to set forth the truth, or yet of godly conversation: all graces do wither in them. This prophecy must needs be true in all ages and times. The dragon fighteth against the woman very fiercely, and although he can not cast down the least of God's elect, for Christ saith, the father that gave them me is stronger than all, and none can take them out of his hands, John 10, yet he prevaileth against multitudes which are in the visible Church, and which did seem for a time to be very good Christians, zealous of good works. And no marvel, for if he draw down with his tail so many learned teachers, and make such havock among them, what heaps of others which are but common professors think ye, he doth overcome? Here is then a very good lesson for all the preachers and ministers of the Gospel, yea even a warning for them (if men will be warned) to take heed, that they be not of those stars which the dragon's tail shall cast down. He striketh in his tail continually among us, and tempteth with covetousness and ambition. It standeth us upon to fear and to tremble, and to depend upon the Lord with humble supplication and prayer. For this place ought to move us to cry continually, Lord Jesus preserve thy ministers: because doubtless, as he prevaileth against many of the teachers, so his tail is walking, and he doth most furiously assault us all: yea we shall all be cast to the earth, if the Lord Jesus so not preserve and keep us.

Then it is said further, that the dragon stood before the woman, which was ready to be delivered, to devour her child, when she had brought it forth. This is a most wicked practice, this is a most dangerous attempt, that he watcheth so narrowly to devour the blessed seed, even the Saviour of the world, so soon as ever he should be born. This was the ready way to overthrow the woman also: for all the health and felicity and salvation of the Church, dependeth wholly and altogether upon the Messiah. If he should fail, all were lost. The time of his birth foretold by Daniel the Prophet was now come. And mark the subtle practice of Satan, who watcheth when, and where he should be born, and stirreth up Herod the king subtly to seek him out by the wise men, Matt. 2, that he might kill him. And when he did not prevail by one means (that is, the wise men being warned of God, returned home another way) he attempted another: for he sent and slew all the young children in Bethelem, and round about in the borders thereof, from two years old and under, thinking by that means to kill Christ among them. O monstrous cruel dragon, which hath the tyrants of the world at his beck to command! For indeed he wrought by such wicked rulers against Christ, and by such  he worketh continually against the whole Church of God. Well, she bringeth forth, and she bringeth forth a manchild, and such an one, as should have all the nations of the earth for his possession, and over whom as a most mighty king, he should reign and rule with an iron scepter. This may in some sort be applied to all the Faithfull, in as much as they shall reign with the Lord Jesus their head, but most fitly it is here to be understood of Christ himself, even as the second Psalm doth shew. This infant is the king of all kings. This babe is he which of old was promised by the Prophets, that with his kingly power was to tread downe Satan and his kingdom, and to deliver the prisoners and captives out of his hands. No marvel therefore, though the dragon seek to devour him so soon as he should he born. But we shall see how he misseth of his purpose, for the child is taken up to God, and to his throne, he is set far above the reach of the dragon, he cannot devour him. After a sort indeed the babe so soon as he was born, was taken up to God, and to his throne, though he remained still upon the earth, when the Lord gave warning to the wise men, not to return back again to Herod, and when he willed Joseph to fly into Egypt, and when by his most mighty arm he kept him continually from all peril, Satan seeking all ways and means for to destroy him. For the preservation of Christ while he was an infant, and likewise while he entered into his office, was as miraculous, as if he had been taken up into heaven, even to the throne of God and kept there. Thus the infant is set in safety from the jaws of this foul greedy dragon, and after his passion he ascended in deed up to the throne of God in heaven: but what becometh of the woman, how shall she do, how is she provided for, or how shall she escape him? We shall see, that she is also well provided for. It is said, that she fled into the wilderness. Behold here how Satan's rage was such, that when he could not devour the child, then he attempted some other way utterly to root out, and to destroy the woman. But she escapeth him also: for she hath power given her to fly away from him into the wilderness. This plainly sheweth what he purposed: for if he fought not utterly to swallow her up, why fled she away from his presence? But what way is this to be understood? what reason is here for us to think that she could thus escape? Are not the devils as swift to fly after, as she was to haste and to remove herself out of their sight? Can flesh and blood make quicker speed than those nimble spirits? I will tell ye, we must understand this flight of the woman from the presence of the dragon; to have been then when the Lord did spread his Church into waste, wide, and wild barren places, as it were into the wilderness. I will shew ye more plainly, how this flight is to be understood. When the Church began to increase after our Sauiour had taught while he lived upon earth, and then his Apostles after his ascention, (and had gathered a right excellent and famous Church) Satan was in a marvelous rag: and that Church being then in a narrow compass, even the most of them that professed Christ in that one city Jerusalem, he attempted as it were to spread his net over them, and to root them out all at once, and so to devour the woman. And therefore as we read, Acts 8. after the stoning of Steven, he raised up a great persecution: and then he had Saul in his camp, as a most cruel persecutor, who thought he should do high service to God, if he could root them out all. The high priests, the princes of the Jews, the Pharisees, & doctors of the law, were all so inflamed in wrath against the Church, that they meant to destroy all that should confess Christ Jesus. And this the dragon led them into by his subtlety, though they did not perceive so much, but seemed to do it in zeal of the law. But how shall we understand this that he saith, the woman fled into the wilderness? What is this wilderness whither she fled from the presence of the dragon? Doubtless, the heathen countries might very well be called, and so they are called in the Prophets, the wilderness. When God separated the Jews to be his only people, and suffered the Gentiles to walk in their own vanities, what could they be but a wilderness? He gave his word to the Israelites by Moses and the Prophets, and so they were planted, and dressed as his vineyard, as the Lord calleth them, Isa. 5. They were, as S. Paul also speaketh, the Lord's husbandry, 1 Cor. 3. There was plowing, and sowing, planting and watering among them, by the Lord's labourers, the priest and prophets: there were some fruits brought forth. The Gentiles in the mean time, even all other the great and mighty nations and kingdoms of the world, lay desolate and barren, even as a wilderness: no dressing there, no tilling, no fruit, but all covered with thornes. Into this wilderness then the woman flyeth from the fury of the dragon. For at the persecution raised, when Steven was stoned, as we read Acts chap. 8. the Disciples were scattered, as ye may there see, into divers nations, and countries of the Gentiles. They were before as it were penned up in a narrow corner in Judea, but now they are scattered and dispersed far and near among the heathen. Thus doth she escape from the dragon. But how durst the woman attempt to fly into the wilderness? how did she know she should be safe there? I answer, that she had the special direction of God: for it is said, where she hath a place prepared of God. The woman then doth nothing by her own strength, nor by her own wit: but by the hand and power of the Lord, and by the special wisdom of his spirit, she flyeth to her place assigned. Those worthy servants of the Lord which fled from Jerusalem, being persecuted there, & preached the Gospel in far countries, did it not rashly, nor of their own head. For (as ye see) God hath prepared her place whither she should fly. But now it might be said, how shall she live in the wilderness? how shall she do for sustenance? If one have never so safe a place for defence in a wilderness, and have nothing to feed upon, what is he the better? There is no tilling or sowing, nor planting, there groweth no corn, there is nothing to be had either for food, or raiment: how then shall the Church do in the wilderness? Mark what followeth, and ye shall understand, that God doth not only prepare a place for her in the wilderness, but it is added, where they should feed her, a thousand, two hundred, and threescore days. Then the Lord God doth also send unto her, and see that she shall lack no food while she is in the desert.

When the great famine was in Israel, in the days of Elias, we read, that the Lord sent the ravens with bread and flesh morning and evening unto Elias, when he lay hid where Ahab should not find him. When the children of Israel came forth of the land of Egypt, they were led in the wilderness forty years, as Moses reporteth. They had neither seed time, nor harvest, and yet they were fed. He fed them from heaven with Manna. And so as the Psalm saith, man did eat the bread of Angels. It was not the bread of the bakers, but the bread of Angels, that is, such as God gave to them by the ministry of Angels. So now the Church flyeth into the wilderness, but God sendeth unto her those which shall feed her, and nourish her plenteously. Now the Lord sendeth forth into all places of the wilderness, even among the rude savage people of the Gentiles, his faithfull ministers, well furnished. Such as our Saviour compareth to house holders that bring forth of their treasures with all store of heavenly, and spiritual food, things new and old, Mat. 13:52. Yea even from among those which fought for the dragon, to destroy the woman, and which caused her to fly into the wilderness, the Lord plucked out one special chosen instrument, even Paul, whom he sent after her, with exceeding abundance and plenty of food to nourish her. Happy are they whom God doth feed, we may safely depend upon him. His store never faileth, and if they be in the wilderness, he will send unto them, he never wanteth means. Heb. 13. And we have his promise, that he will never leave us nor forsake us.

Thus we see how by the providence of almighty God, the woman escapeth the danger of the dragon, and the peril also of famine. The dragon thought utterly to root her out, that she might never after bring forth any children to God: but the Lord doth protect her, and multiplieth her children abundantly in the wilderness. Great multitudes of sons and daughters she bringeth forth, and nourisheth up, among the Gentiles. The dragon and all the cruel tyrants are thus by the wisdom of God disappointed. God doth often turn the fury of his enemies to the enlargement of his Church. Let us not then faint, nor despair when we see all on an uproar against the faithful Christians, and such strength and terror bent, as if all should down, this woman shall never be overcome by the dragon, nor by all that he is able to make. Blessed is she, blessed are all her children. We have now in the last place the time set forth, that is, how long they shall feed her in the wilderness, even a thousand two hundred, and threescore days. This is the same number of days, that he said in the former chapter, his two witnesses should prophecy. Reckoning thirty days to the month, it ariseth unto two and forty months, in which he said, the Gentiles should tread under foot the holy city: and two and forty months make three years and a half. And therefore he saith afterward in this chapter, that the woman fled into the wilderness, unto her place where she is fed, a time, times, and half a time. All these times of days, and months, and years meeting in one, the Papists, as we noted before, will needess understand not mythically, but literally for the space of three years and an half, as we in common use do take years. And thereupon they infer, that Antichrist shall reign but three years and an half: but the Pope hath reigned divers hundred years (say they) and then cannot he be Antichrist. If they will needess take it literally, then let them shew how the Church in all countries of the world, shall for those three years and an half be fed by two men. The Church shall be fed in the wilderness, and the two witnesses shall feed her all that time of three years and an half, for so long they prophecy, and so long the woman is fed in the wilderness. Can two men be in all countries at once? If they will say there shall be more then two, then according to the letter the things are imperfectly set down. For those that prophecy so long, are they which all the while do feed the Church. The two witnesses shall feed her in the wilderness, that is, in all nations of the world, and must needs therefore be more than two. Even so the certain number of days, is put for a number indefinite, even for the whole time that the Church shall be persecuted by the dragon, and not for three years and an half. Let no man think this strange: for can any be so foolish as to imagine, that of every one of the twelve tribes of lsrael there should be saved just twelve thousand? But of this no further.