From Christ’s resurrection till the fall of Antichrist, is the appointed day of Zion’s troubles. During this space of time, some part or other of the church is under persecution; and great part of the time, the whole church, or at least the generality of God’s people, have been persecuted. For the first three hundred years after Christ, the church was for the most part in a state of great affliction, the object of reproach and persecution; first by the Jews, and then by the heathen.—After this, from the beginning of Constantine’s time, the church had rest and prosperity for a little while; which is represented in Revelation 7:at the beginning, by the angel’s holding the four winds for a little while. But presently after, the church again suffered persecution from the Arians. After that, Antichrist rose, the church was driven away into the wilderness, was kept down in obscurity, contempt, and suffering, for a long time before the Reformation by Luther and others. And since the Reformation, the church’s persecutions have been beyond all that ever were before. And though some parts of God’s church sometimes have had rest, yet to this day, for the most part, the true church is very much kept under by its enemies, and some parts of it under grievous persecution. And so we may expect it will continue till the fall of Antichrist. Then will come the appointed day of the church’s prosperity on earth, the set time in which God will favour Zion, the time when the saints shall not be kept under by wicked men, but wherein they shall reign, as it is said, Revelation 5:10. “And the kingdom shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High,” Daniel 7:27.
The suffering state of the church is in Scripture represented as a state of the church’s travail, (John 16:20, 21. and Revelation 12:1, 2.) striving to bring forth that glory and prosperity which shall be after the fall of Antichrist, and then shall she bring forth her child. This is a long time of the church’s trouble and affliction, though it be but for a little season, in comparison of the eternal prosperity of the church. Hence under the long continuance of this affliction, she cries out, (Revelation 6:10.) How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” And we are told, that “white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow-servants also, and their brethren that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled. 634 “ So, Daniel 12:6. How long shall it be to the end of these wonders.”
It is to be observed, that during the time of these sufferings of the church, the main instrument of their sufferings has been the Roman government. Rome therefore in the New Testament is called Babylon; because, as of old the troubles of the city of Jerusalem were mainly from that adverse city Babylon, so the troubles of the christian church, the spiritual Jerusalem, during the long time of its tribulation, are mainly from Rome. Before the time of Constantine, the troubles of the christian church were from heathen Rome: since that time, its troubles have been mainly from antichristian Rome. And as of old, the captivity of the Jews ceased on the destruction of Babylon, so the time of the trouble of the christian church will cease with the destruction of the church of Rome, that spiritual Babylon.