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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. And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood on 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.” (Rev. xi. 1—12.)
The importance of this vision is alike evidenced by its being accompanied by an angelic interpreter, as was that exhibited to the prophet Zechariah, and with which it forms almost a precise parallel. In the vision of Zechariah the two olivetrees are said to be the two anointed ones that stand by the Lord of the whole earth; in the vision of St. John the two olive-trees are said to be the two witnesses standing before the God of the whole earth. In the vision of Zechariah the olive-trees are described as branching from the golden candlestick, which signified the Lord of the whole earth; in the vision of St. John the olive-trees themselves are called candlesticks, standing before the God of the whole earth. And should the comment we have presumed to offer be esteemed just, the symbol of candlesticks is. as aptly appropriate to those bright luminaries who are conjoined in eternal union with the Father of all lights, and who ever live and reign with him, one God, blessed for evermore, as to the parent source from whence all lights proceed. And that these visions are considered one and the same vision, must be well known to all who have examined our most able commentators on this subject; and cannot, we think, admit of any doubt. Some portions of Bishop Newton's Dissertations on the 11th chapter of the Apocalypse will be here transcribed.
“ By treading under foot the holy city,” he conceives " is meant an era when the church of Christ should in the most indignant manner be trampled upon, and tyrannized over. ‘And I will give power to my two witnesses ;'-at the same time God should raise up some true and faithful witnesses (ver. 3) to preach and protest against those innovations and corruptions of religion. Of these witnesses there should be, though but a small, yet a competent, number; and it was a sufficient reason for making them two witnesses, because that is the number required by the law and approved by the gospel :- In the mouth of two witnesses shall every word be established.' (Deut. xix. 15. Matt. xviii. 16.) And upon former occasions two have often been joined in commission, as Moses and Aaron in Egypt, Elijah and Elisha in the apostacy of the ten tribes, and Zerubbabel and Jeshua after the Babylonish captivity; to whom these witnesses are particularly compared. Our Saviour himself sent forth his disciples two and two, (Luke x. 1,) and it hath been observed also that the principal Reformers have usually appeared as it were in pairs—as the Waldenses and Albigenses, John Huss and Jerome of Prague, Luther and Calvin, Cranmer and Ridley, and their followers. Not that I conceive that
any two particular men, or two particular churches, were intended by this prophecy, but only it was meant, in the general, that there should be some in every age, though but a few in number, who should bear witness to the truth, and declare against the iniquity of their times.
“ A character is then given of these witnesses, and of the power and effect of their preaching. These are the two olive-trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth (ver. 4), that is, they are like Zerubbabel and Jeshua, (Zech. iv.) the great instructors and enlighteners of the church.”*
Now, in this comment two points are discoverable; first, that Bishop Newton considers the vision of Zechariah and the vision of St. John to be one and the same vision ; and, secondly, that he interprets the olive-trees beheld by the prophet to be symbolic of Zerubbabel the governor of Judea, and Joshua the high priest. And we shall now (though in all hurnility) presume to offer some remarks on the foregoing comment.
That by treading under foot the holy city was meant an era when the church of Christ should in the most indignant manner be trampled upon and tyrannized over, appears to us a most just interpretation.--" And I will give power to my two witnesses; at the same time God should raise up some true and faithful witnesses (ver. 3) to preach and protest against those innovations and corruptions of religion. Of these witnesses there should be, though but a small, yet a competent, number.” Assigning the reasons already inserted as to the propriety of the number being two, he then proceeds to specify instances of two having often been joined in commission, as Moses and Aaron in Egypt, &c. &c., and Zerubbabel and Jeshua after the Babylonish captivity; to whom he adds that the two witnesses spoken of in the Revelations are particularly compared. And again, when speaking of the character of these two witnesses, and recording that these were the two olive-trees standing before the God of the earth, he further says, that is, they are like Zerubbabel and Jeshua, the great instructors of the church; thus proving the truth of the premised assertion, namely, that Bishop Newton considered the vision of Zechariah and the vision of St. John to be one and the same vision. For on what other grounds could he assert the two witnesses, whom the angel informed St. John were the two olive-trees standing before the God of the earth, to have been particularly compared to Zerubbabel and Jeshua, and intended to represent men like unto them? Now, by the argument deducible from this comment, these glorious types, the olive-trees and candlesticks spoken of in the Revelations, may with equal justness be considered as depictive of John Huss, Jerome of Prague, Luther and Calvin, Cranmer and Ridley, or any other two persons zealously united together in the defence of religion, as of Zerubbabel and Jeshua; a consideration which we conceive strongly tends to prove this interpretation an erroneous one. Neither can we agree with Dr. Newton in thinking that by the two olive-trees was meant an indefinite number;-" that is, in the general, that there should be some in every age, though but a few in number, who should bear witness to the truth." The vision in which these were displayed was twice repeated, and in each instance explained by a celestial expositor, who differed only in the appellation; denominating those beheld by the prophet, the two anointed ones which stand by the Lord of the whole earth — those beheld by the evangelist, the two witnesses standing before the God of tbe earth; but precisely and distinctly agreeing as to the number being two. Besides, had the olive-trees exhibited to Zechariah been intended to typify Zerubbabel and Jeshua, it is reasonable to suppose that the angel would not have left the prophet, destined to encourage his brethren in the weighty work in which they were engaged, uninformed on a point, elevating him and his coadjutor to such transcendent honour. But totally opposite was the interpretation, in both cases, given by the heavenly interpreters. These convey not the most remote idea of those illustrious types, the olivetrees, depicting any human creature. These, on the contrary, describe them as representative of beings of the highest and most glorious natureas beings conjoined unto, and stationed in contact with, the glorious Source of light, and glorious Source of good; a description wholly inapplicable to Zerubbabel and Jeshua, and which we think none can answer to but God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. Nor do the angelic commen
* Newton on the Prophecies, vol. ii. p. 133-135.