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“ the star which fell from heaven,*" and you
shall write the history of the other hereaf'ter f. And, besides, I am about to unfold to
you a different subject, unconnected with the ' persecutions of those two hierarchies ; namely, the history of a “ beast that shall ascend out of the bottomless pit;" or, as it will presently appear, of an infidel and atheistical power, more hardened, more mischievous, and consummately wicked, than either of the two that rose before it."
The angel having thus briefly anticipated the rise of the two apostacies, the depression of the Gospel by them, and the period of its continuance, proceeds to describe the condition in which it should remain during that period ; and even under the tyranny of the “ beast of the bottomless pit,” which latter should take place a short time before that depression should end.
Ver. 3.-" And I will give power unto “my Two WITNESSES; and they shall pro
phesy one thousand two hundred and three“score days in sackcloth."
It is certainly very necessary to the right explanation of this verse to ascertain, in the first place, who, or what, these two “ witnesses of God” are ; for without it we must still go on in the darkness, and inconsistency of all form
Chap. ix. 1.
# Chap. xii. xiii.
er commentators. Some of them have thought that Enoch and Elias were the two witnesses ;" others, John Huss and Jerome of Prague ; others, Luther and Calvin; and others again, all those men who have been eminent for their piety; and, at the same time, opposers
of the church of Rome*, This variety of opinions is, of itself, a proof of their uncertainty, if not of their error. Indeed none of those men can answer to the metaphorical expression of
“ two witnesses" having one « mouth” (ver. 5.), and prophesying one thousand two hundred and sixty years: for they all differed in opinion respecting one article or other of the doctrine of the Old and New Testaments. Moreover, those men were only teachers, and not prophets, nor ever pretended to the gift of prophecy; and, even had they been prophets they could not have continued to prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty years, according to the express words of the text. Besides, the two witnesses" have power to “shut heuven” (the upper atmosphere), " that it rain not, in the daysof their prophecy, and “ to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will” (ver. 6.). These are powers which, in their full extent, had never yet been conferred by God on any man, or any two men, nor ever pretended to be possessed by any of the persons, marked out by former commentators. Indeed it seems absurd to look
Newton, Dissertations, vol. ii. 235..
for them among the human race, as, according to the settled course of God's providence, the lives of any two men have never, since the date of this prophesy, been extended to one seventh part of the period, during which it is declared, by the voice of truth, they shall continue to prophesy.
Where then shall we find in the world the “ two witnesses” here introduced by the angel? For they must be of great antiquity ; they must be only two in number, and these two must have but one “ mouth," and be the witnesses of God, or of his revealed word and will to mankind. They are, I will venture to pronounce, and can be nothing else, but the two TESTAMENTS, the Old and New. These two holy prophets and oracles of God, alone, among all the variety of things upon the earth, can satisfy and fulfil the figurative description of the text. The angel speaks of them as in being at the time, and well known to the prophet; and why they have not been so to the commentators on the prophecies, is difficult to conceive, as they must have had them constantly in view. Indeed the very name of these books, or witnesses, affords an unerring clue to the discovery. A testament, from the plain definition and common acceptation of the word, is a writing, or record, which testifies and bears witness to the mind and will of man. So that which reveals, and bears witness to the word and will of God, is certainly his witness: and it is worthy of observation, that they are
called, by the voice of truth, coming from God,
my two witnesses.” It may next be asked, what two witnesses has God been graciously pleased, in the course of his providence, to send into this fallen world, to reveal and attest to mankind his divine word, but the Old and New Testament? Is it not by these two sacred and infallible records, one of which is, by many ages, the most ancient in the world a record, a part of which has, in a most miraculous manner, during the course of 3400 years, been preserved amidst the waste of all-devouring time, the ravages of wars, the wrecks of books, and even during the dark ages of Pagan sensuality, of Mohamedan ignorance, and Papal superstition. I ask, is it not by these two holy records alone, that God has been pleased to reveal and attest his righteous and immaculate will to mankind? Have not these “ two witnesses” alone given the clearest testimony of his omnipotence, his infinite wisdom, his justice and mercy? And have not all those divine and exalted attributes of his glory and perfection, been demonstrated by innumerable events foretold and recorded by those two sacred“ witnesses,” even during the Mohamedan and Papal apostacy and darkness?
But had the names of these “ two witnesses” been more mysterious, there are other marks given by the angel, which clearly support this exposition of the text: they are represented, by the angel, as having
mouth*;" to denote that they both, when rightly understood, testify the same sacred truths. And we know that the two Testaments, in this sense, have but one mouth ; that is, form one regular, consistent, uniform history of the will and providence of God: and when not perverted, agree in attesting to mankind the same great and important truths, in which their happiness here, as well as hereafter, is concerned. These “ two witnesses" were, moreover, to continue to “prophesy in sackcloth” 1260 years, during the persecutions and depressions of the Gospel of Christ, by the Gentiles of the court which is without the temple ;' and there have been no two men who have lived so long ; nor any true prophets since John wrote his Revelation, except those two sacred and living oracles, which have and do yet foretel all the important truths needful for mankind to know, that have happened in the world, and shall happen to the end of it; and therefore have rendered all other prophets, and every other kind of holy witness, unnecessary.
Ver. 4." These (witnesses) are the two “ olive-trees, and the two candlesticks stand
ing before the God of the earth.” The literal and natural meaning of this allegorical verse is, that the two Testaments are
* Verse 5.