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the earth with plagues, and to dart from their mouth consuming fire; these expressions must all be understood, not in a causal, but in a consequential, sense : for the commission, given to the two figurative prophets, is, in point of its proper mode of interpretation, exactly analogous to the charge which God delivered to Isaiah : “ Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes ; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed."* In perfect strictness of speech, Isaiah was no more able to inflict the plague of spiritual stupidity ; than the two prophets of the Apocalypse were, that of spiritual barrenness and natural calamities. Both the passages must be explained exactly upon the same principle : the judgments, which these prophets were severally impowered to inflict, were not caused by them as active agents, but were the consequence of their ministry being slighted. In this sense we are authorised by inspired authority to interpret the charge given to Isaiah :f consequently, by a parity of reasoning, we are at liberty to explain the powers, committed to the two apocalyptic prophets, in a similar manner. I
It is not unworthy of remark, that the two witnesses are described as having only one mouth.Ş This circumstance at once shews that they are mystical, not literal, characters ; and serves to demonstrate the propriety of the foregoing explanation. The pre-Christian and the post-Christian Church, forming jointly the Church general, have but one mouth, testifying and declaring the same simple road to salvation through the alone sacrifice of Christ. In the strictly scriptural words of the Anglican church already cited," although the ancient patriarchs were not named Christian men, yet was it a Christian faith that they had ; for they looked for all benefits of God the Father, through the merits of his Son Jesus Christ, as we do now. This difference is
* Isaiah vi. 10.
+ See Matt. xiii. 15. and Acts xxviii. 27. . It is very justly remarked by Bp. Newton, when commenting upon this very passage, that " in Scripture language the prophets are often said to do those things, which they declare and foretell."
$ Rev. xi. 5.
between them and us, that they looked when Christ should come, and we be in the time when he is come."*
“ And, when they shall draw near to the close of their testimony,t the beast, that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit, shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in a 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 tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and a 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 dwelt on the earth. An
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. 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.”
Prophecy, as it might be naturally expected, dwells only upon great and prominent circumstances ; were it otherwise constructed, the whole world could not contain the voluines, which it would occupy. We must consider therefore, what circumstance in the history of the two witnesses, which occurred before the sounding of the seventh trumpet, † is of a sufficiently definite nature to occasion this very peculiar mention of it.
The same sound doctrine is set forth in the article; “ The Old Testament is not contrary to the New : for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man, being both God and man.” Thus have the two witnesses only one mouth, with which they unanimously protest against the host of mediators venerated by them of the Apostacy.
+ Such is certainly the proper translation of the Aorist Tracow. The subjunctive mood of the first Aorist generally bears a kind of future signification : and the context amply shews, that such must be its meaning in the present instance. The witnesses were to prophesy during the wbole 1260 years, which are commensurate with the two first woe-trumpets and the greatest part of the third. At the time of this event, they were only under the second woe-trumpet : (See Rev. xi. 7-12. and 14, 15.) consequently they could not bave finished their testimony, as our translation erro. neously represents them to have done ; because they were to continue propbesying to the very end of the 1260 years. “ Cum finituri sint testimonium suum (sic enim olav 7:2:00-1 vertendum, non de præterito, cum finierint.) Mede's Comment. Apoc. in loc.
See Rev. xi. 7-12, 15.
Before the prophets can be capable of experiencing political death, the only death to which a community is liable, they must receive political life.* This never was the case previous to the time of the Reformation ; therefore the prophets cannot have been slain before the Reformation. Many years indeed antecedent to that era, they had continued prophesying in sackcloth ; many years was the sad narrative of their persecutions written within and without with lamentations, and mourning, and woe: as yet huwever they were not slain, for as yet they were incapable of a political death. But at the Reformation they first received in Germany political life : t consequently at the Reformation they first became liable to political death. I To this era 1 have already thought myself warranted in peculiarly referring the second persecution of the men of understanding, which Daniel describes as taking place previous to the revelation of the atheistical king ; and io this era l now think myself equally warranted in looking for an accomplishment of the present prophecy.
The foe, that slays the witnesses, is styled the beast of the bottomless pit : and this beast will be found, upon
* Hence St. John predicts, in a similar manner, tbe subversion of the Eastern empire, under the image of the third part of men being killed by the Eupbratean borsemen ; baving previously informed us, that ibe Saracenic locusts should not be allowed to kill the men who had not the seal of God in their foreheads, but only to terment them, because their commission extended no further than to barass the Roman empire. See the preceding remarks upon these prophecies.
+ They were not established as a church in England till the accession of Edward the sixth in the year 1547; at which period their cause had already been espoused by the Elector of Saxony, and other German sovereigns. These princes associated themselves into what was called the league of Smalcalde, in the years 1530, 1531, 1585, and 1537; and in that city first called themselves protestants. Then it was that the witnesses received political life. “ Mori ea notione dicitur qui in quo cunque statu constitutus, sive Politico sive Ecclesiastico, seu quovis alio, desinit esse quod fuit ; unde et occidit qui tali morte quemquam afficit.” (Mede's Comment. Apoc. in myst. duor. test.) This excellent definition of Mr. Mede's shews the propriety of the distinction which I have made between the death of the third part of mon or the Roman community, and the d:ath of the Roman beast. Death in both cases signifies the causing them to cease to be what they were before. Hence the deatb of a community is the causing a community to cease from existing as a community; and ibe death of a beast is the causing a beast or idolatrous empire to cease from existing as a beast or idolatrous empire.
The allegory, here used by St. John, was very familiar to the Hebrew prophets. They frequently predict the restoration of the Israelites from their present scattered state, their state of political deatb, under the image of a resurrection from the dead. Let the reader peruse Ezekiel xxxvii, and he will acquire a very clear conception of the principle on which the apocalyptic prediction, relative to the death and revival of the two witnesses, is founded.
examination, to be the first beast of the Apocalypse, or the beast with seven heads and ten horns. * In short, as it shall be fully shewn hereafter, he is the same as Daniel's fourth best, or the Roman Empire : and he slays the witnesses by the instrumentality of his last head.t Before we can understand therefore the import of the prediction relative to the death of the witnesses, which is to take place towards the close of the 1260 yeurs, and under the second woe-trumpet, we must learn what form of Roman government is intended by the last head of the beast. This matter however must be reserved for future discussion, when the whole character of the beast is considered at large. For the present then, in order that the thread of the prophecy relative to the witnesses may be preserved unbroken, I must be allowed to assume, that this last head is not the Papacy, as Mr. Mede and Bp. Newton suppose, but the line of the Gothic Emperors of the West; the first of whom was Charlemagne, and whose representative, at the time of the Reformation was Charles the fifth.
Now, upon consulting history, we shall find, that the witnesses first received political life in the years 1530, 1531, 1535, and 1537, by the formal association of the protestant German princes in the league of Smalcalde : and that shortly afterwards the Roman beast under his last head, and at the instigation of his colleague the two horned ecclesiastical beust, I began to make open war upon them with a view to crush the Reformution in the bud. Infinite Wisdom determined to try, “ the patience
Compare Rev. xi. 7. with Rev. xüï. 1. and xvii. 7, 8. † Or to speak more accurately bis septimo-octave bead. “The seven heads are seven kings The beast, that was, and is not even he is the eighth, and is of the seven.” (Rev. xvii. 9, 10, 11.) Thus it appears, that St. John identifies even the wbole beast with bis last bead, on account of the vast power which this last bead was destined at its first rise to possess : consequently, when he asserts, that the beast should make war upon the witnesses, since the chronology of the prophecy shews that the beast should do this under bis last bead, and since St. John identifies the beast with bis last bead, it is manifest that this war was to be undertaken by the last bead of the beast. The same remark applies to the last war of the beast, the false prophet, and the kings of the earth, against tbe Lamb. Tbe beast here, as in the former instance, means tbe last bead of the beast ; and the kings of the eartb or Roman empire, tbsse sovereigns who are in communion with the false prophet. This subject will be fully discussed hereafter.
See Rev. xi. 11.
and faith of the saints,” by making him for a short season completely successful in his projects. On the 24th* of April 1547, he totally routed the protestants in the battle of Mulburg : in consequence of which defeat their two great champions, who had given them political life, the Elector of Saxony, and the Landgrave of Hesse, were compelled to submit to the Emperor on terms of absolute discretion.
The prophets were now politically dead ; but they were not long to continue so: whence it is said, that they lay unburied. The place, where their dead bodies were thus exposed, was a street of the great city, “spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.” The excellent Bp. Newton, and the learned Mr. Mann of the Charter House whom he tes, needlessly perplex themselves with elaborately shewing, how the city of Rome may be said to be the city where our Lord was crucified : whence they conclude, that, whenever this prophecy is accomplished, the dead bodies of the prophets will lie unburied in some literal street of the literal great city ; “ some conspicuous place within the jurisdiction of Rome," as the Bishop expresses himself.
The great city however, the mystic Babylon, which throughout the Apocalypse is represented in constaut and direct opposition to the holy city, or the Church, is certainly not the city, but the empire of Rome : † whence u street of this great city is a kingdom or province of the empire, considered as a whole ; and a tenth part of the city, as mentioned in the thirteenth verse of the present chapter, is not a tenth part of the literal city of Rome, but a tenth part of the Roman empire, and consequently is precisely equivalent to one of the ten horns or kingdoms of the beast. This being the case, there is no need to seek for a spiritual sense, in which our Lord may be said to have been crucified in the great city : he literally suffered within its precincts; for he was put to death in Palestine, at
* Brightman says, the 22d of April. + The temporal Babylon is the temporal empire of Rome ; the spiritual Babylon is ile spiritual empire of the Roman Pontif.