« PreviousContinue »
the external court, which shews that Christ, the antitype of all the sacrifices, was to be exhibited to the view of all men, that they might believe on him and be saved. On the outside of this court of the altar was the large court, accessible to all the congregation of Israel. These two courts of the priests and the people, typify the whole visible church, all the professors of the essential doctrines of the church of God, whether ministers or people: not, perhaps, as distinguished from the spiritual and invisible church, but as including it among the external and visible members. Besides these divisions, without the temple was the court into which the Gentiles were permitted to enter. This division seems to be emblematical of those, who, though Christians in name, and pretending to worship God and tread his courts, were in character wicked idolaters. These might properly be styled Gentiles, as their idolatrous worship of saints, angels, and images, would resemble the demon worship of the heathens. These were to be left out, as unworthy to be measured, or taken any account of, in the visible church of God. The part of the temple therefore to be measured, were the two courts of the priests and the people, including also, perhaps, the sanctuary or holy place. But it is evident that the distinction here to be made was a political and not a spiritual distinction. The separation of spiritual Christians from merely nominal professors, must be reserved for Jesus, the final judge and searcher of men's hearts. In the measured church there will be found many who have only a name to live while they are dead, and who will finally be classed with hypocrites and unbelievers. On the other hand, in the court of the Gentiles there may be found some spiritual worshippers, who renouncing their idolatry and cleaving to Christ, will be saved by him with an everlasting salvation. The outer court, given to the Gentiles, or professors of Christianity, forsaking the pure Gospel and prac
tising idolatry, undoubtedly denotes the papal church : of Rome. These mystical Gentiles were to tread under the visible church of God, which is now typi fied by another emblem, and called “ the holy city," for forty-two prophetic months, or twelve hundred and sixty years.
This is the first time in this Revelation in which the celebrated period of twelve hundred and sixty prophetic days, symbolizing so many years, is mentioned. But as this period will be frequently referred to in subsequent passages of the book, and as the proper understanding of it is one of the principal keys of the prophecies it contains, as well as of the predictions of the prophet Daniel, it may not be improper here to notice the different places where it is mentioned. This prophetic period first occurs in Dan. vii. 25, where it is said that the little horn, which came up among the ten horns of the fourth beast, should“ wear out the saints of the Most “ High, and they should be given into his hand, “ until a time, and times, and the dividing of time.” The little horn is universally admitted to be Popery: the period during which the saints are to be given up into his hands is for a year, and two years, and half a year ; or three years and a half, consisting of forty-two months, which, reckoning by the general computation of thirty days to a month, make twelve hundred and sixty prophetic days. This mysterious period is again mentioned in Dan. xii. 7, where it is said by Him that liveth for ever and ever, that “ it “ shall be for a time, times, and an half,” to the end of the wonders predicted. This period includes the same twelve hundred and sixty prophetic days, and is to be calculated from the time when the King before prophesied of should begin to scatter the holy people, until that scattering should be finished. The imposture of Mahomed and the papal usurpation began about the same period, and formed a twofold attack upon the Church under the direction of the
devil and his angels; but at the end of the twelve hundred and sixty years, it is to be accomplished and come to its termination. In the book of Revelation, this period first occurs in the passage now under consideration; where it is predicted that the papal hierarchy is to tread under foot the true Church, or the holy city, for forty-two months. In the following verse, which will more particularly be considered presently, it is said “ the witnesses should “ prophesy twelve hundred and sixty days clothed in “ sackcloth.” In chap. xii. 6, the woman who typifies the true church“ fled into the wilderness, “ where she hath a place prepared of God, that they “ should feed her there twelve hundred and sixty “ days.” In ver. 14 of the same chapter, the woman flies into the wilderness, and “ she is nourished “ for a time, and times, and half a time, from the “ face of the serpent”-the same period of three years and a half, or twelve hundred and sixty days. And, finally, in chap. xiii. 5, it is said, “ power was “ given unto the beast for forty and two months.” Now, each of these mysterious numbers, when reduced to its integral parts, contains twelve hundred and sixty days; and they all synchronize or refer to the same period of time, the duration of which is twelve hundred and sixty years. In prophetic language a day is the symbol of a year. It has been asserted that the former symbolizes the latter, because both are measured by the revolutions of the same planet, the earth—the day by its diurnal, and the year by its annual revolution: and, as the former is the less, it becomes the symbol of the latter, which is the greater. But the Scripture itself more than once informs us that a day, in prophetic language, signifies a year *. Hence a week is the symbol of seven years; and the celebrated prophecy of seventy weeks, in Daniel, is universally admitted, both by
Jewish and Christian interpreters, to signify a period of four hundred and ninety years.
With respect to the commencement of this term of twelve hundred and sixty years, it undoubtedly, . will not be known with certainty till it comes to its conclusion. If we could fix upon the former, we should exactly know the latter; but this would not be consistent with that mysterious but wise obscurity which always, in some measure, rests upon prophecies till their fulfilment has been accomplished. There is, therefore, a degree of presumption in fixing positively upon the dates of prophecies before facts have determined their completion. Till the event, therefore, shall explain the matter, the commencement of this period must necessarily be involved in some uncertainty. It is, however, evident, that it must be placed subsequent to the four first trumpets, the last of which brought us to the subversion of the western empire, A.D. 566. But, in the opinion of most commentators, the beginning of these years cannot well be fixed earlier than the first woe trumpet, when Mahomedism commenced, and when the Pope became universal bishop; nor later than the year 756, when he was fully established as a temporal prince. As, however, the antichristian tyranny of Popery did not arise in one year, but was evidently gradual, may not its fall be expected in the same manner? Perhaps, therefore, the beginning of the rise and fall of the papal Antichrist, and the completion of them, are both at the distance of twelve hundred and sixty years from each other. Thus, in more than one way, the Babylonish captivity lasted seventy years. Subject to this concession and explanation, the measuring of the temple and the consigning of the holy city to the Gentiles, to be trodden under foot for forty-two months; or, in other words, the commencement of the period of twelve hundred and sixty years, may be fixed as synchronizing with the sounding of the first woe trumpet,