« PreviousContinue »
hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace, but now they are hid from thine eyes; for the days shall come upon thee that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, till the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." Or can we suppose that He, (that is, the Holy Ghost,) who intercedes for saints with unutterable groanings, is unconcerned at these sad, dire events? These therefore may, we think, with strict propriety, be figuratively said to prophesy, or in other words, to behold the fulfilment of these particular prophecies to which this relation alludes, clothed in sackcloth during the sad, distressing period of their accomplishAlthough these are the two olive-trees and candlesticks, the two benign bright luminaries, standing before the God of the whole earth, notwithstanding their transcendent elevation, they are pitiful and merciful, and with deep concern behold the sorrows, which, in their boundless wisdom, they have seen fit should take place upon our globe. But if any man will hurt them, (that is, the cause which they espouse,) fire proceedeth out of their mouths, and devoureth their enemies; and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.
Dr. W.'s comment is as follows: "We learn from the word of God, and the history of the
church in all ages, that God will avenge the blood of his servants, the prophets and preachers of his word, on those who persecute them; its being here said to be done by fire, proceeding out of the mouth of the witnesses, is agreeable to the style of prophecy," (and certainly could not be said of any human being or of churches.) "Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them." (Jer. xxiii. 29. v. 14.) "This prophecy of Jeremiah was not literally fulfilled upon the people of Judah by fire, notwithstanding that all these judgments with which God threatened them by his prophet for their rebellion and idolatry overtook them in the end, in another but no less effectual manner. And as they were not to be destroyed by fire, so neither is it necessary that the persecution of God's servants, the witnesses, should be punished in that particular manner, to fulfil the prediction before us. It is sufficient to that end, if they are punished in any, especially in any remarkable manner; and we have many examples of remarkable judgments inflicted on the persecutors and oppressors of God's people, recorded in Scripture and church history, which are too numerous to be here recorded. Notwithstanding, as the officers of Ahaziah, and their men, who were sent to apprehend Elijah, were consumed by fire in like manner, whereby the prediction will have a more exact and literal accomplishment; and there are grounds to believe that their punishment, their temporal punishment, will be
closed in that manner, when they shall have filled the measure of their iniquity, and that judgment which is prepared for them comes to be put in execution; but whether they shall be destroyed by fire or otherwise, the denunciation is repeated, to denote that vengeance will not fail to overtake them, in one manner or other, sooner or later; most probably in this world, but most certainly in the next."
A literal interpretation is always preferable to a figurative one; and if we are right in concluding the two witnesses (as we have already done the two olive branches revealed to Zechariah,) to be representative of the filial and consoling Deity, in the comment we shall now in all humility presume in continuation to offer, there will be far less reason to have recourse to figurative interpretation, than in that just stated; and if we consider the witnesses as representing the Head of the church in conjunction with its members, it will nearly do away the necessity of any figurative interpretation. If any man will hurt the two olive trees, the two candlesticks, the two anointed luminaries, standing before the God of the whole earth-if any man will hurt the faithful members of Christ's holy church, he hurts, as it were, the apple of his eye. If any man hurts his weakest members, even one little one, who puts his trust in Christ, better, far better would it be for him to have a millstone slung round his obdurate neck, and be cast into the sea. If any man hurt and oppress the glorious cause of Christianity, the glorious religion which they the witnesses have in
troduced on earth, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies.
And unto whom can the power spoken of in the prophecy before us with so much truth be literally applied, as it can unto the faithful and true witness Jesus Christ our Lord? for it is highly improbable, now that the fulfilment of prophecy has superseded the necessity of miraculous interposition, that God, who generally works by secondary causes, should again endue Christ's members with the power of working miracles. It is highly improbable, under the Christian dispensation, that they should be endued with a power like unto Elijah, (which Dr. W.'s comment seems to intimate is not highly improbable ;) for was not the very apostle, unto whom the revelation in question was imparted, himself reproved for requesting such a power? The disciples James. and John said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of." (Luke ix. 54, 55.) Besides, we live under the very period in which the prophecy in question is receiving its fulfilment.
The holy city still continues to be trampled down by Mahometans and infidels; and the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet is not as yet removed from out the holy place. Yet there is no miraculous interposition, no fire from heaven descends, though the faithful and true witness is doubtless, without such means, so ordering all events as to complete its full ac
complishment. But though miraculous interposition is not now employed, Scripture abounds with prophecies, denouncing that at the final consummation of all things, the Lord Jesus Christ will be revealed from heaven in flaming fire, to pour destruction upon them who do not obey his gospel, consuming them with the spirit of his mouth, and destroying them with the brightness of his coming. And we also know, that blasphemy against him who witnesseth of Christ, that is, the Holy Ghost, can never be forgiven, neither in this world or the world to come: therefore, if any man will hurt these blessed witnesses, he must in this manner be killed, and be consigned to eternal death. This recital then again applies to God the Son and God the Holy Ghost; and the description given in the ensuing verse still more powerfully and exclusively answers to these two glorious beings: these, that is, the witnesses, have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy; and have power over waters, to turn them to blood; and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. And who can possess such power except the Trinity, unless God should be pleased to endue his servants upon earth with power from on high again to work by miracle? which, from the reasons we have so very briefly stated, we conceive wholly improbable. Besides, supposing Christ's faithful members were even to be again endued with the power from on high of working miracles during their stay on earth, from whom could they derive their power excepting Deity? And is it not much