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But alas, it is there added, (verse 13,) And when the dragon saw that he was cast out unto the earth, he perseculed the woman, who brought forth the man child. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water, as a flood, after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman; and the earth opened her mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his moth. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make wur with the remnant of her seed, who kept the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. Mr. Faber supposes, and I think it is very evident, that the casting out of the dragon from heaven to earth, was fulfilled at the time of the reformation under Luther. Consequently, the new attack of the dragon upon the Church must be sometime subsequent to the reformation; viz. after his prime instru. ment, the Imperial head of the Roman Beast, is revived. But this new attack produces a second flight of the Church into the wilderness. She had fed into the wilderness at the commencement of the war in heaven, verse 6; or upon her being delivered into the hands of the Papal Power, for 1260 years. But after the reformation, and the devil was thus cast out of the Papal heaven, by the discovery of the abominations of that system, and before he had prepared his new engine of persecution, the Church had in some good degree returned from her wilderness state. The Lamb had appeared on mount Zion, or in the Protestant Church, and with him vast muliitudes, with their Father's names on their forcheads; worshipping God in the purity of ihe Protestant religion, in opposition to the idolatries of Papal Rome. When lo! the woman is again driven into the wilderness, by the new attack of the dragon in Antichrist, for a time, times and half a time; i. e. for the short residue of his noted term: It cannot now mean for the whole of this term. For 1260 years were the term of her depression, at the time of her first flight, many centuries before. Her being now to remain in the wilderness 1260 years, must of course mean, the short remaining part of the 1260 years. And the days of this remaining part, Christ will for the elect's sake cause to be short: Otherwise, no flush could be saved. He will alleviate the distress, by causing the earıh to help the woman. When they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help. The extreme sufferings of the Church
' may not continue more than three days and an half; i. e. three years and an half. The Captain of her salvation will interpose, and lighten the rest of the way with the cloud of his gracious presence, the wonders of his Providence, till her deliverance shall be complete. Floods of rage, mischief and violence, poured forth against the Church, as from the mouth of the old ser. pent, will be providentially swallowed up. Unexpected events, probably from earthly, or political views, will counteract the mischief aimed against the cause of Christ. And the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a stand. ard against the flood of the enemy. Upon this the dragon, in vexation and rage, goes to make war with the remnant of the woman's seed; or with some distant branch of the Church. Some new and powerful attack is undertaken. Probably this will be fulfilled in the furious coalition led by Antichrist against the cor verted Jews in the Holy Land; which will prepare the way for the battle of the great day. Thus in the xiith chapter of Revelation, appear to be clearly predicted great trials to the Church, under the reign of Antichrist.
Do the preceding passages furnish a clew to the events in Rev. xi, 7, relative to the slaying of the two witnesses? The striking coincidence, between the former and the latter, has forced a conviction on my mind, which I cannot relate without sensible concern. Alas! I had long hoped, that the slaying of the witnesses was a past event. I well knew that some good men are of opinion that it is still future. But others have in this differed from them; and have indulged the pleasing hope, that all the peculiarly fiery trials of the Church are past; and that she is henceforth to enjoy greater and greater de. grees of prosperity, till she reaches her millennial glory. I had fondly embraced this opinion; and was pleased when I found arguments adduced in favor of it. May the king of Zion mercifully grant, (if it accord with his holy plan,) that this may yet prove to be the case! But attention to the subject has constrained me to doubt of the correctness of the sentiment, that the slaying of the witnesses is a past event. I have turned to the arguments of those, who view it thus; and I cannot on the whole feel satisfied with them, or deem them conclusive. May the friends of Zion examine the subject with devout attention!
And when they (the two witnesses) shall have finished their testimouy, the Beast that ascendeth out of the botlomless pit, shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. 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. And they of the people and kindreds and longues and nations shall see their dead bodies, three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.*
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 dwell · on the earth. 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, who saw them. 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.
Upon the question, Who are the witnesses? much has been said. Some have supposed them to be the
* The witnesses lie dead three days and an half, probably meaning three years and an half. Was not this event prefigured by the abominable desolation made upon the Jewish Church by the typical Antiochus? Bp. ton observes, that “the desolation of the temple and the taking away of the daily sacrifice by Appollonius (the commissioner of Antiochus) continued three years and an half.” Vol. i, p. 310.
two Testaments. This appears irrational. We find no other instance, in which either of the Testaments is personified, or represented as God's witness. Bp. Newton thought the two witnesses to represent the few faithful followers of Christ through the 1260 years. Mr. Faber thinks them to mean the twofold Church of the Old and New Testaments. Some have supposed them to mean a Christian magistracy and ministry. Pool's continuators understood by them the faithful Gospel ministry. They observe that Christ first sent out his ministers two and two; and note, that the embassadors of Christ are called witnesses, in many sacred passages. “And ye are witnesses of these things.” “And
ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.” These were the last words spoken by Christ on earth. Addressing his ministers, (after having told them before, Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world,) he now, the moment he ascended, tells them, they shall be his witnesses unto the utermost parts of the earth. Accordingly we abun. dantly find them afterward so denominated. “One must be ordained to be a witness with us of the resurrection.” “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are all witnesses.” “Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us."* Does not the clause, “I will give power unto my two witnesses," imply that they are persons known by this appellation? But who are so well known by this appellation, as the true ministers of Christ? The prophesying of the wit. nesses, Dr. Lowman observes, “signifies persons full of the Spirit of God; preaching God's word, and bearing witness to the truth.”+ The witnesses are called, the two prophets who tormented them that dwell on the earth. But who else answer so well to this description, as do the faithful preachers of the Gospel? “These (says the Revelator) are the two olive trees."
* See also Acts üi, 15, and iv, 33, and v, 32, and x, 39, and xxii, 15, and xxvi, 16; 1 Peter v, i. t On Rev. p. 109.
+ Rev. xi, 10.
This relates to Zech. iv, 3, 11, 14. The two olive trees there (one on each side of the candlestick) are supposed to have been Joshua and Zerubbabel, who unitedly prefigured Christ; and who Pool supposes prefigured also the embassadors of Christ. These (said the angel to Zechariah) are the two anointed ones (sons of oil, Heb.) that stand by the Lord of the whole earth. The gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit are represented by an anointing with oil. And the ascension-gifts of Christ to his embassadors, for the work of the ministry, and for the edifying of the body of Christ, render it fit for them to be called, olive trees, or sons of oil. Thus reference appears to be had, in the witnesses, more immediately to the ministers of Christ.
But the witnesses are also the two candlesticks. candlestick is a noted emblem of the Church. The seven candlesticks which thou sawest, are the seven Churches.* Doubtless the true members of Christ are not to be excluded from constituting the witnesses. They are cordially united in the same cause with their pastors. And though special reference is had to the latter, in the description of the witnesses, yet all the true Church are to be viewed as included.
But why are the witnesses said to be two? Reply. Two witnesses constitute a complete testimony. At the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. Two were essential to the scriptural validity of a testimony. See Deut. xix, 15; and Matt. xviii, 16. And God never left himself without a com- . petent testimony from his followers among men. In the darkest times his number of witnesses was indeed small, but always competent. Our Lord first sent out his disciples two and two. Many are of the opinion, that two elders were ordained over each primitive Church. Under the Old Testament Moses and Aaron were sent for the deliverance of Israel from Egypt. Zerubbabel and Joshua were found united in after days. The prophets Elijah and Elisha were found in company
* Rev. i, 20.