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Yastly been applied by Bp. Lloyd and Mr. Whiston to the persecution of the Piedmontese protestants, which commenced at the latter end of the year 1686, and terminated in June 1690. But here again the very same objectiuns occur : the prophets never had political life in Piedmont ; and the persecution was carried on against them by their sovereign the Duke of Savoy, not by the beast under his last head.
Bp. Newton, like Jurieu, thinks, that the war of the beast against the two witnesses is to be the last persecution of the Church. Were this opinion well founded, it would alone completely overthrow my application of the prophecy to the history of the league of Smalcalde ; because both the revocation of the edict of Nantz, and the persecution of the Piedmontese, were posterior to the protestant war in Germany. But in truth no such thing is even hinted at by St. John : indeed, if it were, he would contradict himself. He begins with
He begins with informing us, that the witnesses should prophesy the whole of the 1260 years, clothed in sackcloth. He next predicts their war with the beast. And he lastly notes the sounding of the seventh trumpet. It is plain therefore, that their war with the beast was to take place before the sounding of the seventh trumpet : yet, since the greatest
Y means a natural year, or a month of natural years ; in other words, whether it means
year or 30 years. Mr. Bicheno himself allows however, that the 1260 days are 1260
years. If then tbe 1260 days, during which the witnesses prophesy be 1260 natural years ; we must, I think, necessarily conclude, unless we make St. John guilty of a most singular inconsistency, that the three days and a balf, during which they lie dead, are three natural years and a half likewise. All that Mr. Bicheno says, respecting what he terms the decorum of symbols, seems to me a mere gratuitous assumption. Had the apostle meant to intimate, that the witnesses should continue in a state of political death during 105 years, I can discover no symbolical impropriety in his saying that their dead bodies sbould lie unburied 105 days. Ezekiel, we know, represents the long political death of the bouse of Israel under the imagery of dead bodies lying so long unburied ibat noihing remained of them but dry bones : wby then should Mr. Bicheno think it so grievous an impropriety, that the apostle should have said, that the dead bodies of the witnesses lay unburied 105 days, if he had intended 105 years? The truth is, that he meant to express, not 105 years, but simply three years and a half--4. But, even if none of these objections existed, still his scheme would not hold good, even upon his own principles. Let tbe second apocalyptic beast be what it may, it is not that beast which slays the witnesses, as Mr. Bicheno supposes, but the first or ten-horned beast. The reader will find this position amply proved in the course of a few pages, when I consider Mr. Galloway's hypothesis, who makes the very same mistake as Mr. Bicheno in fancying that the witnesses are slain by the second apocalyptic beast, though he supposes that beast to be republican France. In truth, the beast has just as little relation to France under the one government, as to France under the otber. Sigus of the times. Part 1. p. 17--97.
part of the seventh trumpet synchronizes with the last period of the 1260 years, some of the witnesses, long after the war of their German brethren with the beast, had still to continue prophesying in sackcloth, or in a state of persecution, during the greatest part of the time that the seventh trumpet was sounding ; that is to say, during the pouring out of its first six vials : whence it is manifest, that the war of the beast cannot be the last persecution ; because, if it were, the witnesses would cease to prophesy in sackcloth, even before the sounding of the seventh trumpet, and consequently would not continue to prophesy in sackcloth during the whole space of the 1260 years. The fact is, the witnesses were to be slain and to lie exposed only in one particular street of the city, not in every street of it. In this single street the whole scene of their war with the beast is laid : there they are slain ; there they revive ; and there they ascend to heaven. It will follow therefore, that the establishment of protestantism in Germany, the cradle of the reformation, does not exempt other protestants from still continuing in a persecuted state during the whole of the 1260 years. The war with the beast is a particular, not a general, persecution : and the context of the whole prophecy amply shews, that it was not to be the last particular persecution, though it might be the last in protestant Germany.*
I am only aware of two objections, which can be made to my application of this prediction to the Smalcaldic league.
1. The first objection is, why this persecution should be particularly noticed more than many others of at least equal, if not greater, magnitude and importance. I answer, that, independent of its undoubted importance, it is a perfect unique in the history of the 1260 years. The French and Bohemian protestants have been stimulated to rebellion by the persecutions of their rulers; the Waldenses have been cruelly harassed formerly ; and the Savoyards have been no less cruelly treated in more
• It is probable, that, although there may not be precisely another persecution of protestantism there will be a war undertaken partly at least for the express purpose of utterly crushing it. I have already more than once hinted at tbis boly war: I shall hereafter state at large what may be collected from prophecy upon the subject.
modern times : but in all these events there are no sufficient inarks of discrimination ; they are spoken of in the general under the phrase of the witnesses prophesying in sackcloth. On the contrary, in the Smalcaldic league, we behold a regular association of lawful sovereigns to maintain the religion of themselves and their subjects against foreign oppression : we behold a complete religious war between independent princes : we behold a religious war attended with every one of the predicted circumstances. The 30 years, war, and the actions of Gustavus of Sweden, may indeed be considered as a sort of religious war between protestants and papists; but it possesses none of the determinate features of the Smalcaldic league, nor does it answer in any circumstantial. points to the prediction. Hence I assert, that the Smal caldic league was worthy of a place in prophecy, because it is a perfect unique in the history of the 1260 years : and I moreover assert, that no other persecutions were of a sufficiently definite nature to be otherwise described, than under the general phrase of the witnesses prophesying in sackcloth.
2. The second objection is, that the war of the beast against the witnesses was to take place when they were drawing near to the end of their testimony; whereas the protestants were defeated in Germany in the year 1547, which is already near three centuries ago. This objection however will not appear of any great weight, when the whole duration of the Apostacy is considered ; for three centuries are either a long or a short period according to the number with which they are compared. The Apostacy of 1260 years most probably commenced, as we have seen, in 606: consequently, in the year 1547, the witnesses had prophesied upwards of ninc centuries, or very near three quarters of their whole testimony. The remaining period therefore was short in comparison with that which preceded it.*
* It may also be added, that, since the firm establishment of the Reformation, the sufferings of the witnesses have been very greatly mitigated ; insomuch that what they have endured during the last quarter of the period of tbeir prophesying in sackcloth is not to be compared with their troubles during the three first quarters of it. Would that we were more sensible of the great mercy of God in being allowed
It is a trite observation, that one error generally prepares the way for another. This is the case with Mr. Galloway's interpretation of the prophecy respecting the two witnesses. He assumes as proved, that the two witnesses are the two Testaments; and that their enemy, the beast of the bottomless pit, is the same as the second apocalyptic beast, or the beast of the earth, which he conceives to be the powers of atheism established by revolutionary France." From these premises he concludes, that the three days and a half, during which the witnesses were to lie dead, are the same as the time and times and dividing of time, during which the saints were to be worn out by the little horn of the fourth beast : and consequently, since the little horn, as well as the beast of the earth, is, upon his hypothesis, revolutionary France, that Daniel and St. John allude to one and the same event ; namely, the suppression of Christianity in France, during the space of three years and a half: I have already shewn the erroneousness of this conjecture, so far as the little horn is concerned ; I shall now point out, that it is equally erroneous in the case of the present prophecy.
Mr. Galloway supposes, that the two witnesses are the two Testaments. We have seen, on the contrary, that they are not the two Testaments, but the protestant confessors, the spiritual children of the two-fold church of Christ. Now the revolutionary fanaticism of France was not directed against the protestants exclusively, but against all who professed the Christian religion : the supposed completion therefore does not accord with the prophecy in this particular.
Mr. Galloway further supposes, that the beast of the bottomless pit, who slew the witnesses, is the same as the second apocalyptic beast, or the two-horned beast of the curth ; and that this two-horned beast of the earth is revolutionary France. Waving at present the discussion of the last of these points, I shall only now observe, that the beast of the bottomless pit, who slew the witnesses, is certainly not the two-horned beast of the earth, but the to enjoy the undisturbed exercise of our religion ; for what are we better than our fathers, that the Almighty should shew himself thus gracious to us?
ten-horned beast of the sea :* consequently Mr. Galloway's interpretation will not hold good even upon his own hypothesis. He has largely endeavoured to prove, that the ten-horned beast is the Papacy, t and that the two-horned beast is revolutionary France : but, whatever power the ten-horned beast may be, he is evidently the same as the beast of the bottomless pit : whence it would follow, even according to Mr. Galloway's own plan, that the two witnesses were slain by the pupul beast not by the atheistical one : therefore his exposition of the whole prophecy must be radically faulty. This will yet further appear, when I have proved, as I trust I shall be able to prove, that neither the one, nor the other, of the two apocalyptic beasts, is revolutionary France.
" And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain seven thousand names of men : and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe is past ; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly."
Before any satisfactory interpretation can be given of this passage, it will be necessary to ascertain the meaning of the word hour which occurs in it: for, upon that, and upon the circumstance of the earthquake being the last event of note under the second woe-trumpet, the hinge of the whole exposition turns.
A year, a month, and a day, are all definite terms, conveying only one single idea : but an hour is not so ;
* Let the reader only compare together the following texts, and he will be suificiently convinced of the truth of my assertion.
“ The beast, that ascendetb out of the bottomless pit, shall make war against them." Rev. xi, 7.
“ And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, haying seven beads and ten borns.” Rev. xiii. 1.
“ I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten orns. The beast, that thou sawest, was, and is not, and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit." Rev. xvii. 7, 8.
It appears then, that, in one text, the seven-beaded and ten-borned beast is said to arise out of the sea ; and, in another text, to ascend out of the bottomless pit : whence it is a palpable truth, that the beast of the sea, and the beast of tbe bottomless pit, are the self-same ten-borned and seven-beaded beast. Not that I conceive tbe sea and tbe bottomless pit to mean precisely the same thing; the history of the rise of the Saracenis locusts sufficiently confutes such an opinion : but I apprehend, that the sea typifies the natural origin of the beast ; and the bottomless pit, his spiritual origin.
† Comment. p. 159_Proph. History of the Church of Rome, passin.