« PreviousContinue »
the antichristian kingdom. And they must suppose so; for they suppose that immediately after the sufferings the church shall endure in that war, she shall arise, and as it were ascend into heaven; i. e, as they interpret it, the church shall be directly advanced to her latter-day rest, prosperity and glory. And consequently, this conflict must be the same with that great battle
between antichrist and the church, described chap. xvi. 13. to the end, and more largely chap. xix. 11. to the end. For that which is described in these places, is most indisputably the greatest and last conflict between the church and her antichristian enemies; on which the utter downfall of antichrist, and the church's advancement to her latter-day glory, shall be immediately consequent. And so the earthquake that attends the resurrection of the witnesses, chap. xi. 13, must be the same with that great earthquake described, chap. xvi. 18. And the falling of the tenth part of the city must be the same with that terrible and utter destruction of antichrist's kingdom, chap. xvi. 17, to the end.
But these things cannot be. The battle, chap. xi. 7, cannot be the same with that last and great battle between the church and antichrist, described, chap. xvi. and xix. For the things that are said of one and the other, and their issue, are in no wise consistent. In that battle, chap. xi. the church of God
conflicts with her enemies in sorrow, sackcloth, and blood : • but in the other the matter is represented exceedingly other
wise; the church goes forth to fight with antichrist, not in sackcloth and blood, but clothed in white raiment, Christ himself before them, as their captain, going forth in great pomp and magnificence, upon a white horse, and on his head many crowns, and on his vesture, and on his thigh a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. And the saints who follow so glorious a leader to this great battle, follow him on " white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean," in garments of strength, joy, glory and triumph; in the same kind of raiment, that the saints appear in, when they are represented as triumphing with Christ, with palms in their hands, chap. vii. 9. And the issue of the latter of these conflicts, is quite the reverse of the former, In the battle, chap. xi. 7. “ The beast makes war with the witnesses, and overcomes them and kills them :" the same is foretold, Dan. vii. 21. “I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them.” And Rev. xii. 7. “ And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them.” But in the issue of that last and great battle, which the church shall have with her anti-christian enemies, the church shall overcome them and kill them ; Rev. xvii. 14. " These shall make war with the lamb, and the lamb shall overcome them; for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings; and they that are with him, are called and chosen and faithful.*
In the conflict that the beasts shall have with the witnesses, the beast kills them, and their dead bodies lie unburied; as though they were to be meat for the beasts of the earth, and fowls of heaven: but in that last battle, it is represented that christ and his church "shall slay their enemies, and give their dead bodies to be meat for the fowls of heaven." (Chap. xix 17, &c.) There is no appearance, in the descriptions given of that last great battle, of any advantages gained in it by the enemies of the church, before they themselves are overcome; but all appearance of the contrary. The descriptions in the xvi. and xix. chapters of the Revelation will by no means allow of such an advantage, as overcoming God's people, and slaying them ; their lying dead for some time, and unburied, that their dead bodies may be for their enemies to abuse, trample on, and make sport with. In chap. xvi. we read of their being gathered together against the church, a mighty host, into the place called Armageddon ; and then the first thing we hear of, is, the pouring out of the seventh vial of God's wrath, and a voice saying, “it is done.” And so in the xix. chap we have an account of the “ beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, being gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army." And then the next thing we hear of, is, that the beast is taken, and with him the false prophet: and that these are both cast alive into the lake of fire ; and that the remnant of their vast army are slain, and all the fowls filled with their flesh.” The issue of the conflict of the beast with the witnesses, in the triumph of the church's enemies over God's people, looking on them as entirely vanquished, and their interest utterly ruined, past all recovery; "they that dwell on the earth shall see the dead bodies of the saints lying in the streets of the great city, and shall rejoice over them,and make merry,and send gifts one to another," But the issue of that great and last battle is quite the reverse; it is the church's triumph over her enemies, as being utterly and for ever destroyed,
* Compared with Chap. xix. 16, and following verses, and Chap. xvi. 16, 17.
| Here if any one shall say, thaé the ascension of the witnesses into heaven in the sight of their enemies, may, as has more generally been supposed, signify the church's last victory and triumph over her antichristian enemies, and final de liverance from them-and yet the vattle between antichrist and the witnesses, spoken of, Rev. xi. 7. wherein the witnesses are slain, may not be the same with that last and greatest battle between antichrist and the church, chap. xvi. and xix. which immediately precedes and issues in the church's final victory and deliverance-they will say that which the prophecies give no reason, nor allow any room to suppose. That last battle between the church and antichrist wherein Christ and his people obtain a complete victory, is evidently one of the greatest and most remarkable events foretold in all the Apocalypse: and there is no one thing, unless it be the consummation of all things, in the two last chapters, that is described in so
Upon the whole, I think there appears to be no reason from the prophecy concerning the two witnesses, Rev. xi. to expect
solemn and august a manner. And the description shews that it is an event which with its circumstances must take up much time. There is vast preparation made for it by the church's enemies : the devils in order to stir men up, and gather them together, to this battle of that great day of God Almighty, go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to propagate various kinds of delusions, far and wide all over the world ; which undoubtedly, must take up many years' time; chap. xvi. 13, 14. And then great preparation is made in the church of God, to make opposition ; chap. xix. 11–17. Now can any reasonably suppose, in what is represented, chap si. of a great conflict between antichrist and God's people-wherein the lat er are overcome and slain, lie dead three days (or three years)and a half, their enemies triumphing over them; but yet, rising again from the dead in the midst of this triumph of iheir enemies, and ascending into heaven, while the encmies stand astonished and amazed spectators-that before they ascend they continue long to encounter with antichrist in a new conflict? For, is it not plain that herein their enemies, after long time to prepare, should engage with them with vastly greater preparations, strength and violence than before, and should wage war with them with the mightiest army that ever was gathered against the church, and in the greatest battle that ever was fought?
Besides the witnesses ascending into heaven in the sight of their enemies, spoken of chap. xi. cannot be the same with the church's gaining a glorious ascendant over her enemies, in her final victory over antichrist, spoken
of chap. xvi. xix. because the descriptions of the events by no means answer each other. For, observe, it is said that when the witnesses arose, and stood on their feet, and ascended into heaven, the same hour there was a great earthquake ; but this does not seem to answer to what it described, chap. xvi. 18. And there were voices, and thunders and lightnings, and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake and so great. It is said, that, at the time of the first earthquake, (chap. xi. 13.)
The tenth part of the city fell :” but how far does this fall short of what is described, as attending the great earthquake? (chap. xv. 19, 20.) "And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell; and great Babylon came into remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath ; and every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.” It is said of the earthquake, chap. xi. "And in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand :” but how far is this from answering the slaughter described, chap. xix. 17, &c. ? For that is represented as a general slaughter of the kings, captains, mighty men, horses and armies of the earth, and of the whole world : so that all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, as far as the sun shines, are filled with the flesh of the dead carcasses, it being the “flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.” (Compare chap, xvi. 14.) Who can think that this great slaughter thus represented, should in chap. xi. be only called a "slaying seven thousand men ?"
If we read this very eleventh chapter through, we shall see that the falling of the tenth part of the city, and the witnesses arising and ascending into heaven, are entirely distinct from the final destruction of antichrist, and that advancement of the church to her latter day glory, that is consequent upon it. The judgments here spoken of, as executed on God's enemies, are under another woe"; and the benefits bestowed on the church are under another trumpet. For immediately after the account of the rising and ascending of the witnesses, the tenth part of the city falling, and the slaying of the seven thousand men, the affrighting of the rest, and their giving glory to the God of heaven, follow these words (ver. 14, 15.) * The second woe is past ; and behold the third woe cometh quickly and the soventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever.” And in the following verses we have an account of the praises sung to God on this occasion And then in that last verse, we have a brief
hint of that same earthquake, the great hail, and those thunders, lightnings and voices that we have an account of in the latter part of chap. xvi. So that the earthquake mentioned in the last verse of chap. xi
. is that great earthquake that attends the last great conflict of the church and her enemies; and not that mentioned ver. 13. ΤΟΥ. 111.
any such general and terrible destruction of the church of Christ, before the utter downfall of antichrist, as some have supposed;
The three woes, are the woes of God on antichrist and his subjects; and the last of them evidently signifies the terrible judgments of God on antichrist, by which God's wrath upon him shall be fulfilled in his utter destruction. But the calamities on antichrist, attending the rising and ascending of the witnessessuch as the falling of the tenth part of the city and slaying seven thousand men--do not belong to this last woe, and therefore do not signify the final destruction of antichrist. For the words of ver. 14, will by no means allow of such a supposition; for there, immediately after giving an account of these calamities, it is added, “ the second oe is past; and behold the third woe cometh quickly : making a most plain and express distinction between the calamities which had already been just mentioned, and those which belong to the third woe, that yet remains to be mentioned. For by being passed, the prophet is to be understood no otherwise, than passed in the declaration and representation; as much as to say, thus an account has been given of the calamities apon antichrist that belong to the second woe; now I proceed to give an account of those dispensations of providence that belong to the third and last woe, which shall prove antichrist's final destruction, and end in the kingdoms of this world becoming the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.
What was fufilled in the Reformation, well answers the representation made concerning the witnesses. Rev. xi. 11, 12. “Of the spirit of life from God entering into them, and their standing on their feet, and ascending up to heaven in the sight of their enemies. A little before the reformation, the state of the church of God and of true religion, was lowest of all, and nearest to utter extinction.Antichrist had, after great and long struggles, prevailed against the Waldenses, Albigenses, and Bohemians. The war with the Albigenses seems especially to be intended by the war of the beast with the witnesses spoken of ver. 7. These witnesses to the truth, were the most numerous and considerable, and were those that most tormented the church of Rome. And the war that was maintained against them, was by far the greatest that ever antichrist had against any of the professors of the truth before the reformation; and was properly the war of the beast. It was the Pope that proclaimed the war, that raised the soldiers by his emissaries and priests, preaching the cross, gathering innumerable multitudes of pilgrims from all parts of Christendom, and raising one Croisade after another, which were conducted and managed by the Pope's legates. It was the Pope that paid the soldiers with pardons, indulgences, promises of paradise, and such like trumpery. When antichrist had gradually prevailed against these witnesses, with much difficulty and long continued violent struggling, and after innumerable vexations, disasters, and disappointments, the church of God, in the time of Luther and other reformers, revives on a sudden, in a wonderful manner, when such an event was least expected, to the surprise and amazement of their antichristian enemies, and appears in such strength, that the reformed are able to stand on their own legs, and to withstand all the power and rage of the church of Rome. Presently after this revival, the people of God are set on high, having the civil magistrate in many countries on their side, and henceforward have the power of many potent princes engaged for their protection. And this, in sight of their enemies, and greatly to their grief and vexation : who, though from time to time they exert their utmost, never are able to prevail against them any more, as they had done in former wars. Oftentimes in scripture, God's church dwelling in safety, out of the reach of their enemies, is repiesented by their dwelling on high, or being set on high, as Psalm lix. 1. Ixix. 29. xci. 14. cvii. 41. Prov. xxix.25. Isai. xxxiii. 16. The children of Israel, in their deliverance out of Egypt from their cruel task-masters, who would fain have brought them into bondage again, were said to be carried on eagle's wings, which flies away towards heaven; so that the Egyptians could not come at them; and they were protected by the cloud that went with them; as the witnesses are said to be caught up to heaven in a cloud. Compare this with Isai. iv. 5. “ And the Lord will create upon every dwelling-place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for upon all the glory shall be a defence."
but good reason to determine the contrary. It is true, there is abundant evidence in scripture, that there is yet remaining a
I shall not pretend to explain the mystery of the three days and a half of the witnesses lying dead, or to determine the precise duration signified by that mystical representation. Possibly no particular measure of time may be intended by it; and yet it may not be without significancy.* As no particular number of persons is intended by the two witnesses, but in general it intends a small, yet a sufficient number—for less than two witnesses was not sufficient--so, perhaps, no particular duration of that low state of the church before the reformation, may be intended by three days and a half. But in general it may be hereby signified, that this time of the triumphing of the wicked, and extremity of God's church, should be but short. Possibly three days and a half may be mentioned, because that is the ut. most space of time that a dead body can be ordinarily supposed to lie without putrefaction ; signifying that at this time the church should be brought to the very brink of utter ruin, yet should be preserved, and made to revive again. And half a day may be mentioned to signify the particular care of Providence in exactly determining this time of his church's extremity. And probably there may be some reference to the three times (or three years) and an half of the witnesses prophesying in sackcloth ; the more apparently to shew the disproportion between the time of the church's welfare, and the'time of her enemies' victory and triumph. The time of the church's affliction and conflict may be long, and in the issue she may be overcome; but the time of this victory shall be but short in comparison with the other, but as a day to a year. She may as it were be killed, and lie dead, till she comes to the very brink of utter and hopeless ruin; yet God will not suffer her to see corruption. But at that very time when her enemies expected that she should putrefy, she shall arisc; and be set on high, out of their reach, greatly to their astonishment.
The grand objection against all this, is, that it is said, “The witnesses should prophecy twelve hundred and sixty days clothed in sackcloth; and when they have finished their testimony, the beast should make war against them, and kill them,” &c. And it seems manifest, that after this they are no longer in sackcloth; for henceforward they are in an exalted state in heaven: therefore, seeing the time of their wearing sackcloth, is twelve hundred and sixty days, 'which is the time of the continuance of antichrist; hence their being slain and rising again, must be at the conclusion of this period, and so at the end of antichrist's reign.
In answer to which I would say, that we can justly infer no more from this prophecy than this, viz. That the twelve hundred and sixty days is the proper time of the church's trouble and bondage, or being clothed in sackcloth ; because it is the appointed time of the reign of antichrist. But this does not hinder, but that God, out of his great compassion to his church, should in some respect shorten the days, and grant that she should in some measure, anticipate the appointed great deliverance that should be at the end of those days. This he has in fact done at the reformation; whereby the church has had a great degree of restoration granted, from the darkness and power of antichrist, before her
proper time, which is at the end of the twelve hundred and sixty days. Thus the church of Christ through the tender mercies of her father and Redeemer, in some respects anticipates her deli. verance from her sorrows and sackcloth : as many parts of the church are hereby brought from under the dominion of the antichristian powers, into a state of power and liberty; though in other respects the church may be said to continue in sackcloth, and in the wilderness, till the end of the days; many parts of it still remaining under grievous persecution.
What we render, “When they shall have finished their testimony,” Mr. Lowman, (from Mr. Daubuz) renders “While they shall perform their testimo
* Mr. Lowman, in the preface to his paraphrase on the Revelation, page 8, observes as follows: “Prophetic numbers do not always express a determinate duration or space of time, any more than they always express a certain number. Prophecy, I acknowledge, uses numbers sometimes as other expressions, in a figurative meaning, as symbols and hieroglyphics. Thus the number seven, sometimes does not denote the precise number seven : but figuratively denotes perfection, or a full and complete number: and the number ten, sometimes does not mean precisely ten in number, but many in general, or a considerable number,”