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seem to have felt like those who witnessed the crucifixion of the Saviour; when the earth shook by a preternatural earthquake, and a thick veil was spread over the face of the sun at noonday, they were filled with terror, and smote upon their breasts. In like manner, the inhabitants of this city were affrighted. But when it is said that they gave glory to the God of heaven, the expression cannot be understood as if they had honoured him by the exercise of a holy filial awe of his judgments; for in this case they would have fled from it, as Lot did from Sodom, or as any person would be inclined to do from a place which was threatened to be swallowed up by an earthquake. If they had been only a remnant, as they are called in the translation, we would have been inclined to adopt the ordinary interpretation. But as the word properly signifies those that remained, we must conceive of them as comprehending all that continued in fellowship with the Roman church, after this mystical shock was felt. And we cannot conceive of their glorifying God, otherwise than in the same passive way in which wicked men are said to glorify him, when they are filled with terror at his judgments.
Rev. xi. 7–13. And when they shall have finished their testi
In our last Lecture we endeavoured to explain the figures of this prophecy, and shall now attempt to point out their application and references. But as no part of the book of the Revelation has been applied to a greater variety of events than the slaying of the witnesses, it could not serve any valuable purpose to combat, or even to specify all the numerous and contradictory opinions which have been stated upon this subject. It will be sufficient for our present purpose that we briefly review the three following periods, as it is to the events of one or other of them, that the greatest number of interpreters have applied the subject of this prediction. Some have referred it to the time of the Reformation from Popery ;some to the events of our own times ;--and there are not a few who consider the slaying of the witnesses as an event which is still future.
We begin with the last of these opinions, by remarking, that there is no reason why we should torment ourselves with fears respecting the Protestant church, or our own personal safety, as if the slaying of the witnesses were still future. It has been generally supposed, that society will be in a very convulsed state at the time of the final subversion of the Antichristian kingdom. It is likewise extremely probable, that in that age Antichrist will attempt to make dreadful havock among the witnesses. Knowing that his time is short, with more ardour of spirit than in any former period of his history, he may attempt to be avenged upon all those that are at war with his interests. Like a beast of prey that has been mortally wounded, he may attempt to destroy whatever comes within his reach.
And indeed till Popery is completely subverted, Protestants can never reckon themselves secure against the dark and bloody designs, or open assaults of Papists. But though multitudes may fall by the agonizing throes of this dying and cruel adversary, that slaughter cannot be understood of the slaying of the witnesses predicted in this chapter.
The following reasons may be urged against this application of the prophecy.-1st, The slaying predicted in these verses takes place when only a tenth part of the city falls, but the other when the whole city is to be levelled with the dust. It is therefore impossible that they can refer to the same event. 2d, This slaying is contemporary with the first blast of the seventh trumpet, but the other with its dying sound. And unless we were to suppose, that the period of this trumpet was to be so short, that it would no sooner begin than it would terminate, it is impossible that this slaying can synchronise with the murders and slaughters, which may be realized in the closing scenes of the seventh trumpet.-3d, This slaying takes place when the witnesses are only approaching towards a more perfect and finished state of their testimony; but the other when the grand designs of their testimony against Antichrist have been gained.
• About the time in which the Lectures upon the Revelation were finished, Dr M•Leod's valuable work was received, and along with it Mr Fuller's Discourses on the Apocalypse. In transcribing for the press, I shall freely avail myself of their assistance ; and though I am happy to find such a coincidence of sentiment, between the Notes for the pulpit and what these writers have published, on many of the points wherein I have differed from the general current of interpreters, yet I cannot agree with them in every particular. Dr M‘Leod supposes, that this prophecy of the slaying of the witnesses has not yet been accomplished ; and that it will not be fulfilled but in the last struggles of the Antichristian state, My reasons for discarding this opinion are stated above ; but as it strengthens an opinion to shew the weakness of the arguments by which it is controverted, and as there is reason to suppose, that the Doctor has adduced the strongest that could be urged in behalf of his theory,—I shall here adduce them in his own words, which the reader may compare with those on the other side of the question, and determine between them.
1st, " The death of the witnesses is yet to come, says he, because they are now neither dead, nor arisen from the dead.'-(M'Leod's Lectures, p. 336. Pais. ley Ed.) This argument militates against the application of the prophecy to the events of modern times, but not against its application to events which were long prior to the French Revolution. What though they be neither dead nor rising in
As this prophecy cannot be understood of some event that is still future, I shall now consider its application to the events the present day, the conclusion does not necessarily follow, that they neither died nor arose in a former period ?
2d, . We consider the event as future, because these witnesses have not as yet employed, in prophesying, the whole time unto which they have been called ; and it is not until then that they are slain.'—(Ibid. p. 337.) To shew that the witnesses are not slain till the close of the 1260 years, he deduces his argument from the contested expression, when they shall have finished their testimony. His words are, · It is when they shall have finished, at the end of 1260 years, their testimony, they shall be killed. Whether we render the words in ver. 7., when they shall be finishing, or, when they shall have finished, is a matter of no consequence. The idea in either case, carries us where the whole history of the witnesses leads us, to the termination of the period.' But few persons will concur in this opinion, that these different ways of translating the original expression are of the same import. There is certainly a wide difference between a progressive and a finished state of a testimony. According to the first translation, the witnesses were only carrying forward their testimony towards a more finished and perfect state of it; but accord. ing to the second, it had attained all that perfection which it ever will acquire ; and a very long interval might take place between this twofold state of their testimony. Till, therefore, the first translation is shewn to be improper, the conclu. sion cannot follow, that it is at the close of the 1260 years, and not till then, that the witnesses are to be slain.
3d, “ From the nature of the work of bearing testimony against Antichristian misrule in church and commonwealth, it is evident, that it is still incomplete ; and hence also it appears, that they who carry on the work are not yet dead, (Ibid. p. 339.) This argument assumes it as a principle, that so long as any part of Antichristian misrule, either in church or state, has not been particularly testified against, the testimony of the witnesses must be considered as incomplete, and their work of bearing testimony not finished ; and till this shall take place, they cannot be slain. If this idea be admitted, I do not see in what age of the world they ever can be slain. Antichristianism is such a mystery of iniquity, it is impossible fully to understand it. The particulars of this system are so numerous, that it is impossible to specify the whole ; and therefore equally impossible to emit a specific testimony against every particular evil included in the system of Antichristianism. The testimony of the church can contain only general truths. To give every inference and deduction from these a distinct place in her testimony, would make it as voluminous as the testimony of the Greek church, which it would require more than a life-time to read once over. It would also be the means of setting the members of the church at variance among themselves. Persons may agree upon general truths, who would not concur in opinion upon the shades of difference that an acute mind might discern upon the subordinate parts, or all the different deductions from them. This idea was well attended to in the first period of Reformation, in compiling the Old Scots Confession; and in the second also, when the Westminster Confession was compiled. It has been too little attended to in later times ; and in attempting to give every thing a place in their public standards, they have increased them to such a bulk, that few have leisure to peruse them, and few are able to express a judicious adherence to them. The shades of difference are sometimes so small, that it is impossible that any one can see them; and hence sects and parties become every day more numerous,
4th, “That the death of the witnesses has not, as yet, come to pass, appears from the fact, that it is caused by the last great struggle of the beast against the saints.' '(Ibid. p. 341.) But with what propriety can this be represented as the last war with the beast, when after this slaying or warfare is finished, nine-tenths
of modern times.- The French Revolution is such a remarkable event in the history of society, almost every person supposes
that it must have had a place in prophecy; and many suppose that the prophecy before us ought to be applied to it. The deposition of the king, and the abolishing of all titles of nobility, they conceive to be the slaying of the names of men. The interdict that was laid upon the observance of the Christian Sabbath, the shutting up for some time of all the places of public worship in Paris, and particularly the insurrections and murders, in which 24,000 of the Popish clergy perished, while a far greater number fled from that distracted country, where the rulers did not seem inclined to leave one of them alive, --they conceive to be the slaying of the witnesses ; and the revolution which preceded them, they consider as the earthquake of this prophecy.-Since that unhappy æra, the murders that have been committed in France, are almost without a parallel in the history of the world. Between the beginning of 1792 and the close of 1795, a period of only four years, there were put to death, by the guillotine, and other methods of execution, to the amount of one hundred and fifty thousand persons, in the city of Paris alone.* Independent of those who fell in battle, the public executions, and private murders and assassinations, with. in the limits of the French territory, were considerably above a million of human beings. In this dreadful carnage, men of name and rank, and the ministers of the church of Rome, suffered in a greater proportion than other classes of the inhabit. ants.—But what has all this to do with the slaying of the witnesses ? Unless it be pleaded that Popery is the only true religion, Popish priests the only true prophets, and the members of the church of Rome the only true witnesses; it cannot with any shadow of propriety be argued, that those scenes of blood which have deluged and disgraced that unhappy country, were the slaying of the witnesses. The earthquake described in this
of the city are still standing ? So long as a single street of this city is peopled with inhabitants, they will shew a spirit of hostility against the witnesses.
• Kett. on Proph. v. II. p. 242.