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


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


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

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Sermon XXVI

13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which had brought forth the man child.

14 But to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might flee into the wilderness, into her place where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.

15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as it were a flood, after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.

16 But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast forth out of his mouth.

17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went and made war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

18 And I stood upon the sea sand.

We had last time (in that which goeth next before in this chapter) the battle between our great prince Michael, and the dragon. The dragon (as we saw) took the foyle, and was overcome, and cast down from heaven to the earth. Also we heard the heavenly and most joyful song of victory. And now S. John sheweth that the dragon for all this doth not give over, but still persueth the woman, and her seed: we must still look for trouble at his hands. When the dragon saw (saith S. John) that he was cast into the earth, he persecuted the woman, which had brought forth the manchild: he being then overcome of the head, setteth upon the body. Yea, knowing further that the salvation of the body is most finally ratified, so that the blessed estate of the woman cannot be shaken in the heavens, he now endeavoureth to root her out of the earth. For his persecuting of the woman, sheweth that his purpose is if he can utterly and wholly to destroy with cruel death all and every one which should be found to profess the name of Christ. He fought by stirring up the high priests, the Pharisees, and other cruel tyrants, to root out the name and memory of Christianity. And considering how few they were in comparison, which embraced the doctrine of the Gospel at that time, while all the Apostles remained in Jerusalem: and weighing on the other side the great multitude, the mighty power and cruel rage of the adversaries, which were stirred up and inflamed by the dragon, it is a very great miracle that the whole company, being almost all in one city, were not of a sudden set upon and cruelly murdered. The dragon purposeth even to spread his net over them all at once, and not to let any one escape. He hath for to effect this his purpose servants & ministers even in great number, armed with power, and burning with furious rage, and which indeed, beginning with Steven, set upon the rest. Why are not all destroyed? why do they not with the like fury run upon all, that they did upon Steven? The Lord doth even miraculously preserve and protect his Apostles and other which abode in Jerusalem and many escape by flight into other places, as ye may see if ye read, Acts 8. This flight and this dispersion, is so speedy and so without let and danger, that he saith here, that to the woman were given two wings of a great Eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness. These be the wings of God's providence and mighty protection, opening and preparing the passage, and the place where his Church should now rest and be harboured and fed in the wilderness, even among the Gentiles. The time of her abode in the wilderness was before numbered by days, as a thousand, two hundred and threescore days, and here he saith, a time, times, and half a time. Touching this time we have spoken before how mythically it is to be taken, and not as the Papists, which apply it unto three years and an half, as years are taken in common use, and so would prove that AntiChrist shall reign but so long. Our Saviour did in his own person preach three years and an half, and therefore some do interpret that that time is used here to signify the whole time that the Church shall be fed in the wilderness of this world. And indeed we saw in the former chapter that the two Prophets do prophecy even so long. So long also he saith there, the holy city shall be trodden under foot of the Gentiles. Then all the time that the Church shall be persecuted & vexed in this world, so long yet she shall be fed. But how is it said that she might fly into the wilderness from the presence of the serpent? It is not the devil in all places of the world? where should any one get from his presence? The Gentiles did worship devils (as S. Paul testifieth saying, The gods of Gentiles are devils, 1. Cor. 10) and the devils had their kingdom over the nations of the world. Alas then, she flyeth from the presence of the devil: but is it not still into the presence of the devil? There be devils plenty before she come, and wheresoever she come, or any of her children, they be even compassed about with armies of devils: and if they had not been there before, is the dragon such a lump that he cannot make haste and speed to overtake her? Can the Church here in earth fly swifter then the devils? For answer to these things, we must note, that the flight of the Church from the presence of the serpent, is not meant that she did or could fly from the presence of the devils, for they always compass the faithful, if we take his presence absolutely: but after a sort she fleeth his presence, when the power of the tyrants and persecutors which he raised up cannot reach unto the Church or overtake her, to murder and kill her. Thus it is then, the devils touching themselves could be with the Church wheresoever she became in the world, and how swiftly soever she fled: but they could not carry the power of the murdering persecutors, and that is here called the presence of the serpent. Then mark: those which fled from Jerusalem, could not fly from Satan's temptations, wheresoever they became: but he could not reach them with the power of the high Priests and princes of the Jews, that presence of his she fled from. Indeed he attempted to pursue her that way, if he could have brought it about, and Saul had letters and authority from the high priests unto Damascus, Acts 9, but he could do little. For now Samaria received the Gospel, shortly after Antioch a great city of the Gentiles had a most famous Church planted in it, and they were the first that were called Christians, as we read, Acts 11:26. Then Paul and Barnabas were sent forth among the Gentiles, and the other Apostles also went forth, and great Churches were planted in all kingdoms almost, in the world. Now what hope could the dragon have to root out the woman from the earth? which way can he now turn him? Is he yet in hope to root out from the earth the whole Church? will he yet endeavour such a thing? That he doth: he is so monstrous great, he hath so often prevailed, and hath so many way, he is so bold that he yet attempteth utterly to rid the earth of her. And mark what S. John saith: And the serpent cast out of his mouth water, as it were a flood, after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. This is a strange thing, and wonderful to be considered, that the dragon, when the woman was fled from his presence, into the large and wide wilderness, cast out of his mouth such abundance of water, as to make a swift and mighty flood that should drown the woman, and utterly sweep her off from the face of the earth. It was said before, that his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth, which sheweth the huge greatness of the monster: and this casting forth a flood out of his mouth sheweth no less: a flood to overflow and run through the great wilderness, and so to overwhelm and drown her wheresoever she were. This greatness of the power of Satan's kingdom causeth him to be so bold, as still to maintain war against the kingdom and power of almighty God. Do not think (beloved) that the devils are weak in power or in practise against the Church: but when ye read such things as this, consider what a most glorious power of God it is which doth vanquish him, and pluck the poor woman out of his jaws. For indeed, though the power of the devil in the kingdoms of this world which be exceeding great, he is a mighty terrible prince, and can command great things, yet compared to our great prince Michael, the Lord Jesus, he is nothing. For our Lord, under whose banner we fight, is the king of kings, and the Lord of hosts, whose power is infinite, and lasteth for ever and ever.

But what should this [flood] be which cometh out of the devil's mouth? Do ye not suppose, that the waters which come forth of his belly, be as sweet and wholesome as the fountain itself out of which they flow? Sweet things no doubt these waters are, even as sweet as the devil himself. But what are they that he would drown the woman withall? Even a flood of all foul heresies, of lies, of reproaches, and slanders, and such like. For he raised up heretics, even monsters, which drew many counterfeit Christians into perdition, and although (as Satan did know) he could not destroy the faith and the salvation of the elect; yet by this means he could bring them all into extreme danger of their lives, for the heretics were such as the very Pagans might loathe to hear of. And then those heresies coming out of his mouth as a part of those waters, yet he persueded that the Gospel bred them. Men cried out that there were no such things before that doctrine came, & that they did by and by spring up with it. The gospel being thus charged and made odious as a most foul doctrine, and such as bred monstrous opinions, all that did profess it were extremely hated, even as men not worthy to be suffered to live upon the earth. Thus were the minds of bloody tyrants stirred up, and persecutions grew hot and bitter. Then were the poor christians even compelled to meet in the nights in caves, and in secret places, & there to have the holy excercises of religion. Upon this Satan took occasion to accuse them of most horrible filthiness: as if they should eat their children, and that men and women meeting together, out were the lights put, & filthiness committed, even adulteries and incests, fathers with their daughters, the brethren with their sisters, and such like.

Then further the heat of persecution being terrible, and sundry revolting, the persecutors hired and procured some of them, to say indeed, that when they were at those meetings of the Christians, there were such filthy things committed, and that they themselves had there committed such things. This gave strength and credit to the slanders, and what think ye was the rage and fury of the heathen? who would not think he did even a good work to destory such? There is now nothing but killing and murdering upon heaps. And yet the danger is further increased: for the wrath of the Lord being kindled for such wickedness committed against his son, against his pure word and Church, he poured forth horrible plagues upon the world: then the subtle serpent did put and suggest into the minds of the infidels, that all those plagues came, because the Gods were angry at the new learning. The Christians were said to be the cause of all those plagues: so that so soon as ever any strange thing fell out, they cried by and by, to have the Christians cast to the lions, which was one of the ways by which they put them to death. Ancient writers which lived in those times, do testify of these things. Then we see how the waters of heresies, of lies, slanders, and reproaches, do rise and swell into a mighty swift stream: So that without the wonderful power of God, providing for the woman even miraculously, how can she but be caried away of the flood? how can she but be rooted out of the earth? Well, the blessed Lord doth indeed provide for her: and delivereth her from being swallowed up of this great flood, of all these stinking waters which issued out of the dragon's belly. For as the Lord hath ratified the salvation of this woman in heaven, and set it so fast that the dragon cannot shake it, so also he preserveth her in the wilderness of this world, until such time as she hath brought forth all her chilldren. The dragon doth cause thousands of her children indeed to be cruelly slain in all places, but he cannot root her out, nor make her barren, but she shall still continue in the world, bring forth and nurse up blessed children to God, even to the day of the general iudgment. Then the devil doth tempt, the devil doth persecute, but he cannot pluck down the Church from heaven from her salvation, nor yet destroy her with bodily death out of this world. These things are fixed and established by God, and it is impossible that they should be altered. But let us see how the woman escaped drowning, for the flood pursueth her into the wildernes. The earth (saith Saint John) helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. Here is a wonderful deliverance, behold and consider.

Our Lord is the Lord of hosts, and hath all creatures both the living and the dead at his commandement to help his Church. For as all things, when he willeth, stand up and fight against the wicked, so also they fight for the defence of the Church when he commandeth them. The earth is the Lord's, and all that is therein: The earth acknowledgeth her Lord, and obeyeth his commandment: the earth doth help the woman. Wonderful is God in his providence: doth the earth help the woman? yea, which of his creatures shall not help his chosen, even willingly when he will have it so? For though it be said that the earth helped the woman, yet we must look up higher, and know that it is the Lord which does it. For the earth doth it but as the Lord's handmaid, and being thereunto by him appointed. Then the holy Ghost doth not use this speech to draw our eyes from God, to seek succour elsewhere: but indeed setteth forth his wonderful power and providence, which commandeth and directeth all creatures to the service of his Church. But now it may be demanded whether this be to be understood of the very earth indeed, even the ground that we tread upon? Nay, ye know that in this book things are to be taken mythically: and as he compareth the heresies, the lies, reproaches, and slanders to a flood of waters cast forth of the dragon's mouth to carry away the woman: So he compareth the drinking & drying up of the same, as if the earth should cleave and swallow up a flood of waters: for there is no way to restrain a great flood, but if the earth open and drink it. This it is then, all the heresies, all the slanders and lies cast forth as a mighty flood to drown the Church, have by the good providence of God even as it were sunk in the earth, and have been swallowed up. The Church remaineth in the world at this day after all those ancient crimes and slanders call forth against her, they being as it were sunk into the earth, and vanished. She is long since justified and cleared from those sole faults which the subtle serpent caused her to be charged withall, and brought into hatred. Great multitudes, even of the wicked have been compelled to confess her innocence, and to praise her. The heresies of all the ancient heretics are even as it were drunk up by the earth. Some indeed Satan raiseth up in all places as fit instruments to renew those former heresies, but cannot prevail to rend & tear all in pieces, and to vex and make havoc as of old. Indeed the errors of popery did overspread almost all in time past, even like a flood; but now, even as if the earth had opened her mouth a great part are sunk, and even the papists themselves confess that they were abuses: and the rest of`their matters can hardly retain credit, no not among a few. For not only the true believers, which in these last times are many, but also multitudes of mere worldlings do see the vanity of popery, and do despise it. And in this high providence of God, even the earth that is the state of wordly things, and worldly men have ministered some help. For when any mighty cruel tyrant, believing the filthy lies and slanders raised against the faithful, purposeth to root them all out, and joineth with other of the same mind: one thing or other riseth up even of and about the earthly state, and holdeth them occupied and buried, so that they cannot perform their desire against the church. Great kings and princes in these latter days have sworn each to other in a cursed league, which yet they call the holy league, that they will join all together, & even destroy from the earth all that profess the holy Gospel, whom they indeed judge to be wicked heretics. Why have they not prevailed? the earth hath opened her mouth, the worldly state hath been such that they never could: but one way or other have had their hands full. The floods of lies, of reproaches, and slanders cast forth by those that worship the beast, against the faithful and holy servants of the Lord, and with which the ears of princes have been filled, and their minds enflamed to wrath and cruelty, and even by this means sunk: Indeed there have been horrible slaughters committed, and many slain in France and other countries, but the dragon is far from drowning the woman with his stinking flood. If ye consider what a few the true professors of the Gospel be, and what wonderful power there is in the world in the hands of them that hate them deadly, and with them rooted out: ye shall be constrained to confess that it is even a great miracle, as if the earth did open her mouth and drink up the floods of the dragon's lies, that the state of kingdoms and earthly things is such, that they cannot according to their desire join together to destroy the woman. And even as the Gospel was through subtilty of the serpent, charged in old times to breed all those monstrous heresies which sprang up: so also at this day the enemies cry out, that our doctrine doth bring forth all the heresies that arise. The Anabaptists, the Libertines, those of the family of love, yea all such execrable monsters, are by the servants of Antichrist, termed as it were the children of those which preach the Gospel! But the falsehood of this approach, and even the earth openeth her mouth and drinketh in the flood of their false accusations. Furthermore it has pleased God in all ages to use the men of this world sundry ways to help his Church: who are even as the earth, in respect of any heavenly thing. Thus we see how the woman doth escape the flood which the dragon casteth out ofhis mouth. The Church then cannot be rooted out from the face of the earth. Let this comfort and stay us when the rage is greatest against the servants of Christ. Ye shall at sometime see such tempests raised by Satan, as if heaven and earth should be mingled together: Ye shall see such power bent against the Gospel, and so great terror, as if all should fall down. Nothing but slaughters, and terrible threatenings: yea so terrible as if fire came out of their mouths even to devour all. Be not then dismayed, nor do not faint: the Gospel cannot be beaten down, the cause of God cannot be overthrown, neither can Satan ever bring to pass by all his sleights and cruel practices, but that there shall ever some stand up boldly to profess, to teach, and to maintain the same.

Now it followeth: Then the dragon was wrath with the woman, and went and made war with the remnant of her seed, &c. What, was he not wrath with her before? Yes, but this is to teach us, that the heat & fury of his wrath still increased. But what is the reason that his wrath thus increaseth? Because his enterprises fail, and that he can by no means have his purpose to destroy the woman, therefore he is more & more enflamed in wrath against her. In this is set before us a right devilish wrath: for he hath no cause to be moved against the woman, but that he cannot hurt nor destroy her. What hath she done to him? he fought to cast her down from eternal blessedness, and took the foyle, and himself was cast to the earth and all his. He laboured then to root her out from the face of the earth, and all the ways which he deviseth fail of bringing his desire to pass: and now he is more & more wrath, that he can no way destroy her. Is not this a mad kind of wrath? as this is in the devil, so shall ye see it evident in many men and women whom he doth work in. If they be once inflamed with burning malice against any man, it carrieth them with a desire to do them all the mischief which they can. It is even meat and drink to them when they can hurt.

Now if they practice and deceive many ways and means, and see nothing will prevail, they cannot hurt those whom they do bitterly hate; that is a wonderful sting, it grieveth them and tormenteth them sore, and even kindleth in them a greater fire of wrath and displeasure, and the heat of their fury burneth hotter within them. For as it is some kind of quenching or slaking the heat and fire of their malice, when they can execute their desire upon those whom they so deadly hate, so the missing of their purpose, kindleth the flame. Let man take heed, for it is a most cursed thing to be like, & to resemble the wicked devils. Such as abound in malice are like the devil, and resemble him exceedingly: If Satan's wrath be kindled, then he will not yet give over. Give over? No, he will never give over until he be quite cast down. For he could not prevail against Christ but was cast down, yet he set upon the church. When he saw one way succeeded not, he fought another: when he could not destroy her out of the heavens, he attempted to root her wholly out of the earth. When he findeth what he can do to afflict her, his wrath is still kindled more and more, and he will do what he can to afflict her. Here is the thing, he cannot do what he will: therefore he will do what he can. His fiery cruel hatred and malice will not suffer him to rest. He will still be devising what harms and mischiefs he can: and therefore it is said, he was wrath with the woman, and went and made war with the remnant of her seed, &c. He is then come down thus low that he can proceed no further, but to make war with the true children of the Church, and that remaineth to all the faithful, and shall remain even to the end of the world. There is no pacifying of this enemy, there is no truce to be made or had with him for so much as one minute of an hour: but it behooveth us to be always armed, and always to stand ready to repell his assaults. Behold here also even as it were the image of the devil in many men (for as the regenerate do bear the image of God their father who hath begotten them in the new and spiritual birth, so the wicked do bear the image of their father the devil) which being overcome with malice that reigneth in them, can never cease nor give over, seeking and devising how to hurt those whom they hate, although they take never so many foyles. If they cannot wreck their anger to the full, they will also assay to do what they can. If they be foyled and foyled again, yea even shamed, and can see no hope to do half so much harm, nor the hundreth part: which they wish: yet they will not give over, but if they can hurt but in a small trifle it shall come. Here is the very image of the devil, where ye see this. Ye will say, it is a great thing which Satan is here said to do, that he warreth against the faithful. He doth wonderfully vex and torment the true Christians here in the world. It is very true, this is a great thing considered in itself: but compared with the other two, this one, that he fought to overthrow the salvation of the church: the other, that he fought to destroy her at once out of the earth; that she might never bring forth any more children to God, it is but a small thing. And so I say, note it in men which burn in malice and wrath, & they can never give over, their devilish mind can never rest, though it be but in small trifles, yet will it shew itself. The reason is evident, Satan the fiery red dragon cannot rest, and he possesseth their mind, therefore they cannot rest, for he thrusteth them forward, and will in no wise let them rest.

lf they have lied, if they have slandered, if they have done injuries other ways, and be convinced, rebuked, & for the time even suffer shame, yet they must on again, he even thrusteth them upon their noses. O woefull and lamentable estate of slavery and bondage, which the servants of Satan are held in, when the fierce dragon filleth them full of his fiery malice, & will have them as restless as himself, even till he bring them together with himself into endless misery. Resist him therefore, beloved, give not place unto him by anger, and wicked enuie: For if he once get hold in them, that is, to fill the heart with malice, he can hardly be cast forth. But let us return now again unto that former point of Satan's making war. He maketh war with the remnant of her seed. Here is that which we are to look for, even continual war with the dragon, and with all the power which he can make: we have him our cruel & fierce enemy. All the true children of the church must make full account of this so long as they live, and stand prepared.

For although he find it (as I said) beyond his reach to root out the mother, yet he will not cease to torment as many of her children as he can, that he may terrify others from embracing the holy faith. We are put in mind of this by Saint Paul, and willed to put on the whole armonr of God, that we may be able to resist, Eph. 6. Here is also to be noted, that Saint John maketh a short description of the right seed, or true children of the woman: for he saith, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. It is but short, but it is a pithy description of the right seed, he noteth two things which both go together in the sound Christians.

They hold the doctrine and faith of Jesus Christ in an open and bold profession, that is one: and walk in obedience to the law of God, that is the other. They profess the Gospel, and will not deny it though it should cost them their lives. And they profess it not with a dead faith, but that lively faith which worketh by love: for he saith, they have the testimony Jesus, and they keep the commandments of God. And this is one chief cause why the dragon doth rage in wrath so sore against them, that they will not with the rest of the world obey and worship him: but cleave to the Lord God in faith and obey his laws. The children of this world also, the ministers of Satan cannot abide them, because their works be good; and they love the light, and they themselves love darkness more than light, because their deeds be evil, John 3:19. Hereupon it followeth, that the dragon shall always have them for to take his part, and most ready to persecute the true children of God, because they cannot but hate, even as he hateth. This much touching the dragon's making war with the remnant of the woman's seed.

It followeth in the text, and I stood upon the sea sand. This short clause maketh a passage unto that which followeth in the next chapter, touching the vision and description of the beast that riseth out of the sea. But whether Saint John saith of himself, I stood upon the sea sand, or whether he saith that the dragon stood upon the sea sand, is the doubt; because the Greek may be intetpreted, either I stood, or he stood. Some expound it, that Saint John in a vision stood upon the sea sand, that he might behold the rising up of the beast. But I take it the more probable, that they dragon stood upon the sea sand, as it were working and framing out of the sea his chief instruments the huge and terrible beast, by whom he warreth against the servants of God. It is not much material whether way we take it, and therefore I will not stay upon it, but will here make an end.