Page images

came the universal language in the western part, where the scene of John's vision chiefly lay.-- It is also the language used in all the services of that church which this beast was to support; and thus the names of the French kings have been written in their communications with the Pope, in public inscriptions, and on coins.

Thus, though other tyrannies may have some of the features of this beast, yet that of the French monarchy only possessed them all; and, if I am not deceived, there is every proof which can be expected, proof which amounts much nearer to a demonstration than is usual on such suh. jects, that the French monarchy was the second beast which came up out of the earth. And though I would guard against rash confidence, I feel an irresistible persuasion that this is the truth. And if it be, and the time be come for its destruction, the consequences which are united with it are to the last degree interesting, both to the church and to mankind at large; and could my feeble voice be heard amidst the din of war, and the noise of party contentions, I would say, " Take heed-be wise refrain from these men, and let them alone; for if this counsel, or this work, bé of men, it will come to nought; but, if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it, lest haply ye be found to fight against God*,” in struggling to support that which he has decreed to fall. Should it provę so, however enraged your malice, or however mighty your power, “ He will make your wrath to praise him, and dash you to pieces as a potter's vesselt -Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty ; just and true are thy ways?

--All nations shall come and worship before thee, for thy judgments are made manifest!

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

HAVING endearoured to prove that Louis XIV. OF

the tyranny of the French monarchy, as perfected by that unequalled despot, was represented to John in his vision of the second beast; the second Inquiry respects the two witnesses in Rev. xi. - This inquiry involves in it four questions. 1. Who are the witnesses ? 2. Who is to slay them, and where are their dead bodies to lie unburied? 3. What length of time is intended by the three days and a half, during which their dead bodies are to lie in the street of the great city? 4. What will be the consequences attending their resurrection?

1. Who are these two witnesses ? Rev. xi. S. I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophecy a thousand two hundred and threescore days clothed in sackcloth. The most prevailing opinion is, that the faithful ministers of the gospel, and all those who bear testimony against the errors and usurpations of Antichrist, are intended, and that the number two is mentioned in allusion to the law of Moses, which required two witnesses, at least, to make a testimony valid. Bishop Lloyd supposes them to be the Waldenses and Albigenses, the eauly witnesses in France and its vicinity, against the corruptions of Popery. Dr. More explains it of unpolluted priests and faithful magistrates. But I have long thought that, by these witnesses, the spirit of prophecy intended the witnesses for gospel truth agaiust the spiritual dominations and corrupt errors of the Papal apostacy; and all those who bear witness for civil liberty against the tyrannies and oppressions of those princes and governors, whose passions have enslaved mankind, and desolated the earth. The number of these witnesses has in general been but small; yet, though they have prophesied in sackcloth, God, in his good providence, has always preserved to mankind a succession of both descriptions. Even wise and good men have not, perhaps, sufficiently considered the worth and importance of the witnesses of the latter description, in fulfilling the great designs of God's goodness towards men; and hence they have almost always

interpreted this prophecy as relating to the state of religion only; as if the civil and political state of men were held in "little consideration by the Lord of the whole earth. But can any man shew a good reason why the Hampdens, Sydneys, Lockes, and Hoadleys, may not be considered as God's witnesses in their exertions in the cause of civil liberty, though it may be esteemed an inferior capacity, as well as those who have been employed in the defence of pure religion only? Both have wrought in the cause of God, and both have prophesied in sackcloth.

If we candidly consider the matter, the fourth verse seems to confirm the foregoing ideas. And although what is said in the fifth and sixth verses is more obscure, yet, as far as I can understand them, they are not inapplicable to either of these characters. Ver. 4. These are. the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks, standing before the God of the whole earth. We have long been used to affix to these two beautiful tropes, olive trees and candlesticks, the idea of saints; but this is by no means essential, for they necessarily imply no more than excellence in that character which is sustained, whether religious or civil. Allusion is here made to the emblems under which Joshua and Zerubbabel were represented to the prophet Zechariah (chap. iv. 11-14.); one of whom was employed in reestablishing (after the captivity, and in a time of religious and civil persecution) the religious, and the other the civil polity of the Jews. And what have the champions, in all ages, and in all countries, who have combated tyrants in the cause of liberty and justice, as well as the advocates for the uncorrupted truth of Jesus been, but golden candlesticks, whose lights havé illuminated this dark world, and which have at once made conspicuous the rights of men, and the enormities of oppressors—the truth of Jesus, and the impieties of Antichrist? And but for the zeal of both these, in their different characters, being kept burning, by that oil of benevolence towards man, and love to the truth of God's word, which the olive trees represent, the earth had been involved in universal darkness, and the triumphs of oppression and error had been complete *.

* Mr. Faber, in his Dissertation, vol. ii. p. 7577, has animadverted on this opinion relative to the two witnesses. He understands the two witnesses to signify two churches, the pre-christian and the postchristian churches, or the church before the advent of our Lord, and the church after his advent. He contends that the first received political

What follows is still more highly figurative. Ver. 5,6. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their

life in the years 1530, 1531, 1535, and 1537, hy the formal association of the Protestant German princes in the league of Smalkalde, and were killed at the battle of Mulburg, April 24, 1547, but resuscitated after three years and a half by the victory obtained over the duke of Mecklenburg in 1550, at Magdeburg, and ascended to heaven at the peace ratified at Passau in 1552. But where is it that the prophecy gives countenance to all this? No where. Whatever, or whoever, may be signified by the two witnesses, yet it is certain that the life which the beast is represented as taking away appears to have been the very same life which they had possessed during the whole term of their prophesy. ing in sackcloih; that life by which they had power given them to prophesy, by which they stood before the God of the earth, and by which they denounced the judgments of God against their enemies, represented by fire proceeding out of their mouth, &c. Now, they certainly could not do all this without some sort of life, and it is this life which, in the symbolical style, the beast is represented as taking away; that is, he silenced them; he made it forfeiture of goods, liberty and life, to propagate their doctrine, or to torment those who dwelt upon the earth by opposing their corruptions and tyrannies, whether by preaching or writing, or by any other means. This is what has been called and very properly, I think, their political death. Before this was accomplished they had possessed political and civil rights, in a greater or less degree, in common with the other subjects of the papistical monarchs, and had continued to maintain their testimony through successive ages; and though not without great opposition and much suffering, yet they lived ; they were not utterly suppressed and silenced. And is Mr. Faber prepared to maintain, that the witnesses no where possessed that political life, which the beast took away, but in the countries of the elector of Saxony, the prince of Hesse, and of the other princes of the league of Smalkalde, and that the predicted slaying did not extend far beyond these very narrow limits? Where are the confessors and martyrs of Saxony, of Hesse, &c. to be found, whose sufferings and numbers are to be compared with those of Bohemia, Silesia, Moravia, the Austrias, &c. who expired in 1620? or with those of France, who received their deathblow in 1685*? or with those of Hungary, who were also crushed to death by Leopold I. in the same year? or with the immortal heroes of Savoy, Piedmont, and the other territories of the duke of Savoy, who received their death-wound from the ordinance of Victor Amadeus II. and which bears date January 31, 1686? Truly, the witness-bearers of Smalkalde shrink into nothing in the presence of this multitude which no man can number, and all their glory is but as a taper when exposed to the blaze of the meridian sun! Let all the honours which are due to the confederates of Sinalkalde be scrupulously paid; but let us not because our systein may have made these our favourites-be guilty of transferring to them the glories which belong to others.

Who, or what, the two witnesses exactly are, is not said, nor is it easy

* I shall here intreat the reader of The Destiny of the German Empire to core rect an omission of the press, by interlining at line 2 from bottom, at p. 91, arter parliament, Decemler 22, 1085, and by marking this as a parenthesis freu Louis XIV, line 4. Without which the passage is not sense,

inouth, and devoureth their enemies. And if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have

to determine.

They may be churches, or they may not: time and future light only will be able to ascertain this with certainty. That two individuals are not intended, but two successive bodies of men, is pretty clear;

and as it cannot be proved that olive trees and candlesticks must signify Christian churches ; and since the allusion is, undeniably, to Joshua and Zerubbabel, the one a priest and the other a civil magistrate, the presumption is, that they are meant to symbolize two successive bodies of men, the one sustaining a religious character, and the other a civil one. But whether they be exactly what I have supposed them, namely, the advocates for religious truth and civil liberty, I will not be positive: yet, I think I am not very far from what is intended.

The second objection to my idea of the witnesses signifying the adva cates for religious truth and civil liberty, is drawn from the character of the revolutionists in France. The witnesses plainly represent a body

of men eminent for Christian piety: and as their death means their political extinction, so their resurrection means their political revival. " How then can the pious witnesses be said to be raised up again to a

political life by an event, which threw the ruins of the French governki ment into the hands of a set of the vilest and most unprincipled miscreants that ever disgraced any age or country? According to the " prophet, the self-same body of men, that were politically slain, were

politically to revive. Mr. Bicheno surely cannot in sober seriousness " affirm, that the martyrs of the revocation of the edict of Nantz revived. “ in the persons of those blessed advocates for religious truth and civil “ liberty, the demagogues of the infidel republic.There is some weight in this objection; but it rather affects some circumstances in my representation of the matter than the principle of interpretation adopted. It was early in the French revolution that I first wrote on this subject, when the imagination was warm with sanguine expectation, and I may have expressed myself, in some respects, in an objectionable manner. These miscreants have doubtless very much disappointed the hopes of thousands wiser than myself; and it cannot be supposed that the cutthroats and villains who have mingled in the French revolution, and who have thrust themselves forward in the calainitous scene-as if on purpose to disgrace both the cause of liberty and of religious reformation-are the genuine witnesses, either for religious truth or civil liberty, But all this being allowed, yet the principle of interpretation for which I contend is not at all affected.

As to the transcendent piety which Mr. Faber seems to think so essential to all the witnesses, I have this to say, I think they will have full as much piety as half the confederates of Smalkalde had-even Maurice himself;—but, I by no means think that such eminent piety is essential to the character of those whom God in his wisdom may see fit to use as his instruments in the dispensations of his providence, and whom he may dignity with the titles of his witnesses, the saints, his servants, his sanctified ones, his anointed, &c. as most are apt to imagine. These titles are conferred on them more on account of the work in which they are employed, than on account of their cwn personal moral character. I think, however, that by the witnesses we are to understand what may be called good men in their several capacities, and not the most vile and unprincipled miscreants of infidel France, as Mr. Faber seems to insi

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »