« AnteriorContinuar »
AN INNER CHURCH WITHIN THE RULING WISIBLE CHURCH;
LIKEWISE DESCRIBED UNDER THE SYMBOL OF TWO WITNESSES.
The symbols taken from Jewish worship—The true church enclosed by the providence of God—The visible church paganized, and here called the Gentiles—To be in possession of what is called the outer court 1260 years—The different terms in which this chronological period is represented, and its use—The two witnesses— What the word signifies—The number two explained — Their depressed condition for 1260 years—Described as two olive trees –2echariah's prophecy—The Holy Spirit's agency — The two candlesticks—Marvellous power of the two witnesses—Two such witnesses explained to have eristed for above 1200 years in such a condition—The Albigenses—The Protestant Churches—High privileges of real believers.
THE TRUE CHURCH DESCRIBED AS
AS TWO WITNESSES; AND ITS DEPRESSED
We have not yet reached the announcement of the second woe being past ! Other important disclosures have yet to be made, as connected with that termination, belonging to those future prophecies alluded to at the conclusion of the last chapter; more especially. those which belong to the internal history of the church, and which are now brought forward in anticipation, to show their synchronical conclusion with the fall of the Ottoman empire, or with the ceasing of the sixth trumpet.
They commence in the following language:
“And there was given me a reed, like unto a rod : and the angel stood, saying, Arise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple, leave out, and measure it not: for it is given unto the Gentiles; and the Holy City shall they tread under foot, forty and two months.” (Rev. xi. 1, 2.)
The symbols here employed, are again taken from the visible objects of Jewish worship : the temple of God—the altar—the outer court—and the Holy city; and they are applied to the spiritual worship of the Christian dispensation. The temple of God, thus used, is intended to designate any place where God abides by the indwelling of His Spirit, as he formerly abode, literally, in the literal temple; to which temple, as the place where the visible representation and tokens of the Deity were manifested, the Tribes went up to worship. Being a building thus set apart and consecrated to God, honoured with extraordinary marks of divine favour, containing the ark, the repository of His laws; the Shekinah, or visible cloud; the Urim and Thummim, and the holy fire, and as the seat of public worship, it is here chosen as the most proper symbol of the whole body of his spiritual worshippers. The apostle Paul, speaking of the saints of God, says, they “are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all building, fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple unto the Lord.” Eph. ii., 20, 21: see likewise 1 Cor. iii. 17, and vi. 19: also 2 Cor. vi. 16, where it is said, “Ye are the temple of the living God, as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them.” These collectively constitute the temple which is here signified ; their spiritual worship, the altar; and every individual member is a true worshipper in that one holy temple.
This temple, this altar, and this people, the
apostle was commanded to measure; and the means of doing so were afforded by a measuring rod being put into his hands. By this act it is to be understood that they were to be enclosed by the peculiar providence of God, and secured as his peculiar inheritance and care. The expression, as understood in other places,” involves the idea of separation, implying that a very broad mark of distinction would exist between them and the merely professing church. Hence, in this command, which it is to be noticed is a command from Jesus Christ, “the angel,” the mighty angel of the former chapter, directs the apostle to take no account of the outer court, but to “cast it out, and measure it not.” The outer court of the Jewish temple is that which was denominated the court of the Gentiles, because the Gentile proselytes of the gate, as they were called, were allowed only to worship within the precincts of that court, while they were altogether excluded from entering into the inner court, which was allotted to the genuine Israelites. We are therefore here given to understand, that the visible professing church, throughout the Western Roman empire, for a certain period mentioned, was to be to the true Christian church what the pagan Gentiles of old had been to the Jewish church. The plain meaning of which is, that they should have so far relapsed from the simplicity of the Gospel, as to resemble the ancient idolatry of the heathen ; and they have done so, and still do so. The fact is indeed so palpable, that even Gibbon, although he could neither see nor understand the real temple, or altar, or people of God; yet he could see the true character of the outward visible church. “The Christians of the seventh century,” he says, “had insensibly relapsed into a semblance of paganism; their public and private vows were addressed to the relics and images that disgraced the temples of the East: the throne of the Almighty was darkened by a cloud of martyrs, and saints, and angels, the objects of popular veneration ; and the Corryridian heretics, who flourished in the fruitful soil of Arabia, invested the Virgin Mary with the name and honours of a goddess.” All this is in exact accordance with the lamentable and corrupt state into which the outward church was described to be gradually brought, as explained in the four first seals. And further, the time which is here assigned to its duration is in equally exact accordance with the time which, in Daniel’s vision of the great wild beasts, is assigned to the duration of the papal little horn,-" forty and two months;” making, as before explained, according to the Jewish mode of reckoning, thirty days to a month, 1260 prophetical days, or 1260 literal years. From whence it follows, that these paganized Christians were those nations and peoples who acknowledged the papacy; and that the holy city, which for this long period of time they trampled upon, is the terri
* Ez. xl., xliii. 10, xlvii. 8. IIab. iii. 6. Zech. ii.