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against them, and overcome them, and kill them. This implies an utter extirpation of every visible appearance of real religion throughout the whole Roman empire, or, as it is expressed, the great city. The prophecy then declares the general rejoicing and triumph which will be manifested by all ranks of ungodly persons on the occasion. That the time of these events taking place will be just before the most destructive and fatal wars—wars of a similar nature to those above described in the seventh chapter—is clear from its being placed at the ceasing of the sixth trumpet, and just before the sounding of the seventh, when it is declared that the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ.'
“ The next allusion to this persecution is in the 14th chapter of Revelation, where a succession of events is recorded as to happen at the time when the servants of God are sealed in their foreheads for deliverance, as above noticed. For the 144,000 of that chapter appear to be here brought forward again, at the close of Popery and the Papal nations, (which are prophesied in the 13th chapter,) for the express purpose of showing that the period of time of both chapters is the same; i. e., the events of the 7th and 14th chapters.
“ The first of this succession of events was to be the preaching of the Gospel in every part of the world. The second distinguishing event, identifying this period, was to be the announcement that should be made to the world, of the fall of Babylon.' And this is what many persons now living have done, and are still doing. "The hour of his judgment was come.'
“ After this announcement of coming judgment, then comes the persecution. It is in this place announced
by a fearful warning given to the church, and a strong exhortation to stand firm in the fiery trial. Of such a magnitude and intensity will be this trial, that it is emphatically said of it, as if no other trial could ever be compared to it, Here is the patience of the saints; here are they that keep the commandments of Jesus.' It is the tribulation, the great one,' before spoken of. And, as if it were a blessing, under such accumulated sufferings as will then be experienced, to depart out of the world, it is added, · Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord from henceforth.'
“ The next thing which calls for our consideration is, By whom, or by what particular instrumentality, shall this persecution be effected? In the account of the two witnesses it is said that it will be by the beast out of the bottomless pit;' and in the 17th of Revelation we are told that this beast from the bottomless pit is the last revolutionary head of the ten kingdoms, which is to appear at the end of the 1260 years. From the introduction of the phrase "bottomless pit,' (from which abyss it is likewise said Mahommedanism proceeded,) I gather that the moving principle comes directly from hell, and shows itself in a form of absolute Infidelity and Atheism-a total rejection of Christ, and perfect hatred of the Holy Scriptures ;-something, in fact, like that which appeared in France, during what was called the “Reign of Terror,' from 1793 to 1796. And I need not remind my readers how prevalent this awful spirit is throughout western Europe, our own country not in the least excepted.
“But in this war against the Lamb, although the actors and agents will, according to the above explanation, bę pure infidels, yet it appears but too evident, from other considerations, which I will now bring forward, that they
will be goaded on by Papal Rome ; and, in fact, that the persecution will result from the ascendancy which Popery shall once more be permitted to gain.
That is to say, at this most eventful period of time at the end of the 1260 years . . . St. John saw this woman, or that 'great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth,' intoxicated with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.' Now the intensity of this symbol rests on the fact, that this whore' has not at all times, any more than other habitual drunkards, been in this state of intoxication. Indeed, she is now represented by the world, and, alas ! by too many of the professing church, to be now so sober as to have lost her taste for blood; and hence, in the face of the strongest facts that are adduced to the contrary, do we see so much apathy and indifference, and even complacency, displayed in the view of her widely extending influence! We cannot expect the people of the world to believe the Divine testimony, and take warning thereby ; but upon every one of the people of God surely this admonition of the Holy Spirit cannot be lost : ' He that hath ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.'" *
The two witnesses seem to be clearly pointed out as the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, on account of their primary, superior, and standing testimony to the truth of God. “ Mr. Brightman," it is said, “is one of the earliest who took this view :" Mr. Thorpe has taken the same view, and Mr. Frere and Mr. Irving have considered them to be the two Testaments or Covenants only, as contained in the Scriptures.
There can be no doubt of a direct reference in this prophecy to that of Zech. iv. The prophet beheld" a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof; and two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof." The candlestick all of gold seems to indicate the true church of God; as in Ps. xlv. 13, the clothing of the king's daughter, or church, is of “wrought gold;" signifying, it may be supposed, the salvation which Christ has wrought out for her; and the seven lamps are the seven churches of Asia.* The two-olive trees, one on the right, and the other on the left side of the candlestick, we suppose to be the two Testaments or Covenants, and which are called," the anointed ones,” (Heb. "sons of oil,") i. e., the media, or conveyances of grace and inspiration. Then the angel declares that these two olive branches empty out of themselves through the two golden pipes, (Heb.“ the gold,") or, perhaps," the oil of the gold,” apparently into the golden bowl. This points out the spirituality of the true church of Christ, whose graces are supplied through the medium of the Scriptures, and which
* “In Rev. 1. 20, there are seven candlesticks, answering to each of the seven Gentile communities mentioned in the two following chapters. In Zech. iv, there is but one candlestick, or lamp-sconce, but it has seven lamps upon it. The number seven, signifying fulness, and completeness, is regarded in both instances; and it is remarkable that the figure described by the position of these churches, if it be outlined describes the branches of a candlestick of not an unusual shape; Sardis being the centre, Pergamos and Laodicea being at the two extreme verges of the ellipsis which they form, and the other four churches at nearly regular distances within : thus"
Brooks' Elem, p. 461.
bear constant testimony or witness to the truth. testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." See Matt. xxiv. 14, and Rev. XXII. 20. The two candlesticks of Rev. xi. 4, we think, mean the two churches, Jewish and Christian, which are represented by the Old and New Testaments. See Revelation XI. 5. The two witnesses “
power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth ;" but they have, also, “power given them to shut heaven," or withhold its influences from unbelievers, and idolaters,—unto whom they are "a savour of death unto death." Likewise, injury done to the cause of Christ, of whom “the Scriptures testify,” is repelled or obviated by corresponding judgments. The spiritual influence derived through the Scriptures being nationally rejected, persecution succeeds; but this will most effectually serve to reproduce and sustain vital religion.
Verses 6, 7. These have power to shut heaven, &c. There has been no rain ;-no general nor national guidance of the Holy Spirit vouchsafed during the long period of their testimony, because governments have superseded the dictates of Revelation by worldly or Machiavellian maxims. Thus, all attempts to establish true religion and good government on such a basis have been attended only by wars and bloodshed, and all the further judgments which the Almighty has so often inflicted. And when the days of their testimony, (now so widely diffusing,) shall be accomplished, their national influence will be totally extinguished by the hostile power above-mentioned, whose aim has uniformly been to suppress or annihilate them.
* For a view of the chronological or prophetic dates, we refer the reader to the observations in Supplement No. X.