« PreviousContinue »
& CHAP. XX.
Prophecy of Trumpets concluded—Death and Resurrection of the Two Witnesses-Seventh Trumpet.
Rev. xi. 7 to 19.
Rev. xi. 7 to 12.—" And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people, and kindreds, and tongues, and nations, shall see their dead bodies three days and a half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that 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 a half, the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood
upon 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.”
Assuming that the time of the witnesses prophesying in sackcloth expired in the year 1789, it remains now to trace their death and their resurrection. The wild beast from out of the bottomless pit was to make war against them, and to overcome them, and to kill
them, after they had finished their testimony in sackcloth. This wild beast has not been spoken of before, but, as he is agaio mentioned more particularly in Rev. xvii. it may be more convenient to consider his distinguishing characteristics, in the commentary upon that chapter. The symbol of the bottomless pit has already been explained at page 185, and it is enough to remark here, that the wild beast, according to this feature of the type, must be an atheistical or infidel power; and that, like the king of the Mahometan locusts, he is to be known by his deliberate and public rejection of the Christian religion. An infidel power, which answers this description, has been exhibited by revolutionary France : and, moreover, that kingdom is a broad street of the great Roman city, within the limits of whose territorial empire, the Lord Jesus in afore-time was crucified. Soon after the commencement of the French Revolution, the spirit of infidelity went forth with great power. It should seem as if the idolatries of Popery, and the mummeries of their masses and their image-worship, produced effects of the same description in the latter end of the eighteenth, as in the beginning of the seventh century, when they gave
birth to Mahometanism. In these later times, as before, they brought discredit upon the whole Christian revelation, and thus, the French nation, when it threw off the superstitions of Popery,
running into the opposite extreme, threw off Christianity altogether. In the progress of these transactions, the Churches were shut, and in many places they were pulled down and destroyed : in the latter end of 1793, the keeping of the Sabbath was abolished, and the tenth day was appointed instead of the seventh for a day of rest. All semblance of Christian worship was forbidden, and a profane worship was substituted, in which praise was ascribed, and incense burnt to the human virtues, to reason, and to the memory of departed infidels, who were called the benefactors of mankind.* The two witnesses of God were thus slain by the wild beast of infidelity, that is, by atheistical and revolutionary France, which kingdom is well described as a street, or broad way in the great city of Babylon. Before this time, the witnesses had prophesied in mourning and in bondage; but at length they were put to death-they were killed--they were not allowed to remain as witnesses, bearing testimony any longer. But their bodies were not consigned to the grave, so that their remembrance, and their name should perish from off the land. The Books of God's Testimony were not destroyed, but remained still with the people, and at the expiration of three years and a half, or three and an half prophetical days, they were allowed once more to be seen, and to speak in the churches, in the forms of Christian worship. The atheists and infidels of the day vainly hoped that they had accomplished their purpose, and they congratulated each other on the victory, which reason had obtained over what they termed superstition ; but in the beginning of the year 1797, a change gradually took place. The rulers of France began to think it might tend to make the land quiet, if Christian worship were allowed ; and, in the spring of that year, a committee was appointed to revise the laws relating to public worship, and to its ministers.
*“ By an edict of the Constituent Assembly, there was a general sale of all ecclesiastical property, and every kind of property connected with churches or charities was confiscated. The magnificent church of St. Genevieve at Paris, was changed by the National Assembly into à repository for the remains of their dead men, or rather into a Pagan temple; and as such was aptly distinguished by the name of the Pantheon, with the inscription, 'Aux Grands Hommes, la Patrie reconpoisante,' on the front, according to a proposed decree by the impious Condoreet. To this temple the remains of Voltaire and of Rousseau were conveyed, in solemn and magnificent procession. The bones of Voltaire were placed upon the high altar, and incense was offered ; and the infatuated multitude bowed down before the relics of this arch-enemy to Christ, in silent adoration.”-History the Interpreter of Prophecy, by Henry Kett, B. D. 1799. Vol. ii. p. 232.
This produced an immediate toleration; the laws against the priests were soon annulled, and by a decree of the 15th of July in that year, they were exempted from the restrictions which had been imposed upon them; and they were required merely to promise submission to the government of the French republic. From that time Christian worship
was publicly re-established, and the two witnesses having revived, stood upon their feet as witnesses, in the same manner a's before.
But the day was at hand, when these two witnesses were to assume a more exalted station. They were no longer to remain in sackcloth, and upon the earth, but their voice was to fill the heavens, and they were commanded to ascend thither; which has been most wonderfully fulfilled. The horrors which infidelity had brought upon the fairest portion of Europe, had filled the minds of many with wonder and astonishment, and advocates were raised up to defend the cause of truth, and to stem the torrent of atheism. The Lord having been pleased to bless these labours unto many, with a gracious outpouring of his spirit, the knowledge of vital godliness and the profession of it, in due time gradually extended itself; a higher tone of moral and of religious feeling was at length assumed, both in the press and in the pulpit of Protestant countries; a stimulus was given to Missionary efforts : and reference to the events of the last fiveand-twenty or thirty years, will demonstrate a very general extension, both of religious knowledge and of practical piety in Great Britain, and in other places not subject to Popery.
Soon after the peace of Amiens, that most extraordinary of all modern won