« PreviousContinue »
tinomianism, must be reckoned among the number. “ Broad is the way that leadeth unto destruction, “ and many there be that go in thereat." Are we in the “ narrow way that leadeth unto life?”. We belong to a Church which has been the glory of Protestantism; but shall we be found amongst those who are its true and spiritual worshippers? If not, what will our external privileges advantage us ?The witnesses spoken of in this prediction, have hitherto prophesied in sackcloth, and will continue to do so to the end of the twelve hundred and sixty years. They have been generally a despised people: they were peculiarly so till the Reformation was established ; and are still so, in some measure and degree. But it is a signal honour to bear a faithful and courageous testimony for Christ and his truth.If we are found among the witnesses for Jesus, we shall be as green olive-trees in the “house of our “ God, and as lights shining in a dark place.” But this honour cannot be obtained without Christian fortitude, self-denial, faith, and patience.- It would be safer to face a battery of cannon, than to injure those whom God loves; for he will spoil those that spoil them.-Happy are they who are the followers of Jesus. He will preserve them as the apple of his eye; and it shall be well with them in life, in death, and for ever.
Chap. xi. 7–12. And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them and kill them. 8. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. 9. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. 10. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. il. And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. 12. And they heard a great voice from heaven
saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.
The death and resurrection of the witnesses is an event respecting which commentators are divided, as much as upon any prediction in the whole book of the Revelation. Many able and eminent men suppose this mystical death and resurrection to be past; while others, equally able and eminent, imagine it to be still future. Great difficulties and objections have arisen in my own mind to every hypothesis that considers these events as already past; and this is one strong argument among many others, which inclines me decidedly to believe that the fulfilment of the prophecy is yet future. The predictions of Scripture are universally admitted to be obscure and hard to be understood anterior to their accomplishment; after which they become so lucid and plain, that “ he who runs may read.”-In considering this prediction, I shall first give a general outline of its contents, and then mention a few of the opinions that have prevailed respecting its fulfilment.
In regard to the period of the accomplishment of this prophecy, the prediction itself is ambiguous in the phrase with which it commences; and, therefore, the time can only be demonstrated by the event.
When the witnesses “ shall have finished” their testimony, the beast that cometh out of the bottomless pit shall fight against them and kill them. The verb in the Greek signifies to finish, to perform, to accomplish, to go over. The tense in which the word occurs is the aorist or indefinite, which, in some measure, is ambiguous and uncertain. The words translated, “ when they shall have finished," may perhaps be rendered, “ when they shall be forming, accomplishing, or going over their testi
mony. Admitting this translation, the event may be past. But if the words be rendered, which in my opinion they may in stricter propriety and more literally, when they shall be finishing; or (as in our translation) when they shall have finished, or accomplished, their testimony; then the event must be yet future. In this case, it is evident that the fulfilment of the prophecy must take place at the termination, or nearly at the termination, of the twelve hundred and sixty years. The agent who destroys these witnesses, is the beast that arises out of the bottomless pit, that is, the Roman empire, probably, in its last form. But whether the beast will effect its purpose by the papacy or by infidelity, is uncertain. This general and successful attack of the beast upon the witnesses (if it be yet future), may be conducted under another form, and by other instruments and means than those by which he has made his former assaults. Papal persecutor's were often concealed infidels; and infidels, concealed under that or any other mask, may equally answer the prediction, if they form a part of the secular Roman empire: for this is the power which is to slay the witnesses, whether the event be considered past or future.— The witnesses are to be killed, and their dead bodies are to lie in the great city “ which “ spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also
our Lord was crucified.” The slaughter of the witnesses cannot refer to the martyrdom or death of individuals, but must denote their being silenced or crushed as witnessing bodies. The great city, in the street of which the dead bodies of the witnesses shall lie unburied, does not mean either Rome or Jerusalem literally, but Jerusalem mystically, that is, the professing church, or rather, the antichristian church, as prossessed by the Gentiles; it therefore means Rome, not as a city, nor as a secular and political empire ; but Rome as the antichristian church, where our Lord was crucified, and which was a Sodom for its lewdness, an Egypt for its tyranny and cruelty to the people of God, and a Jerusalem for its malignant hatred to Christ. Our Lord personally was crucified at Jerusalem, by the authority indeed of the Roman empire, when Jerusalem was one of its provinces; but the Romish church has continually crucified him afresh in his people. The dead bodies of the witnesses are to lie in the great city unburied: being silenced and politically slain, they will be treated with the utmost indignity and reproach, as those who are denied the ordinary rites of burial. At the same time, their enemies will use the customary methods of mutual rejoicing and congratulation, on an event which they deem so joyful. Supposing they had extirpated a race of men who alarmed and disquieted their minds, and being no longer tormented with their testimony, they will rejoice, make merry, and send gifts one to another. But the triumphing of these wicked men will be short; for, after three days and a half, prophetically computed, the witnesses shall rise again from the dead, to the great terror and consternation of their insulting murderers. That is, the Lord will again raise up a competent number of witnesses, to stand up for his pure Gospel, to the astonishment and dread of its opposers, who hoped it was finally extirpated. These witnesses shall be called by a voice from heaven, to ascend up thither, which they will accordingly do to the infinite surprise and fruitless rage of their enemies, who