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an inner and outer court. The inner court joined the door of the large covered building; and was for the priests. The altar for burnt offerings was here placed. And the outer court was for the accommodation of the common people of Israel in public worship. They were not permitted to enter the inner court, the court of the priests, unless individually, and when offering their sacrifices.
To the second temple, a third court was added, called the court of the gentiles, and designed for gentile worshippers. This gentile court was accounted holy in no other sense, than as a part of the holy city Jerusalem. In the large covered building of the temple, was contained the Holy of Holies; and various sacred emblems. This whole pile of buildings was called the temple: and it was an emblem of both the human body of Christ; and of his visible church on earth. The latter are hence known as the temple of God; as well as his chosen generation, his royal priesthood, his holy nation, his peculiar people, to offer up special sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
In our text, the temple, comprising the great covered building, and the two courts first built, was to be measured. But the outer court, the court of the Gentiles, was to be left out of the measurement. This court was now presented as an emblem of the apostate and corrupt church of the Romanists, which could no longer endure the measurement of gospel rule. This had become unmeasurably corrupt. In the first formation of the ancient tabernacle, Moses was admonished to make all things after the pattern showed him in the mount. By this rule must the church and her concerns be formed; and then she can endure the measurement of the oracles of truth. But that great court of the gentile church, which for 1260 years should torture the true witnesses of Christ, should have no measurement of evangelical truth attempted upon it. It should be viewed and treated as fatally and utterly corrupt! That part of the prosessed city of God should be trodden under the feet of Gentilism, forty and two months. We here learn that at the commencement of the noted 1260 years (the same as the forty and two months), the papal church became utterly
abominable, and was of God utterly rejected.* “ The holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months !" a phrase borrowed perhaps from the words of our Saviour, “ Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the gentiles, until the time of the gentiles be fulfilled.” If the enemies of the church of Christ were to hold Palestine as a realm no better than grossly pagan, till about the close of the noted 1260 years; the immeasurable iniquity of the papal power would hold that vast territory of Christendom, which was within its power, in a state no less degraded and hateful.
Ver. 3. And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
4. These are the two olive-trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
Much has been said by writers on the question, who are the two witnesses ? The different views which have been given, will not be here noted, on this, nor on many other questions in this book. Such a process would so
* As the 1260 years stand as a notable period in the prophecies ; a few remarks for illustration shall here be given. This period we find in Dan. vii. 25 ; “ a time, times, and dividing of times.” Dan. xii. 7; “time, times, and an half.” Our text,“
forty and two months.” Verse 3; "a thousand two hundred and threescore days." Chap. xii. 6, and verse 14; “ a time, times, and a half lime." These all mean the same period—1260 years. By a time, is meant, a year : times, two years : and half a time, half a year. These make the forty and two months. And all the different expressions of the period, reckoning (as did the ancients) 360 days to a year, give 1260 years. God said to Moses, Num. xiv. 34; “ After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, ye shall bear your iniquity, even forty years. In Ezek. iv. the prophet was ordered to lie on his side forty days, as a sign to the people. God said, “ I have appointed thee each day for a year.” This, therefore, became one mode of reckoning prophetic time ;-a day for a year. And Daniel, chap. ix. 24; in predicting the time of the coming of Christ, hence graduated the period, giving seventy weeks for four hundred and ninety years. All prophetic time is not necessarily thus reckoned. But sorne is manifestly thus reckoned.
incumber those lectures, that it will not be attempted : it would serve only to perplex. On this question, and on other points generally, I shall take the liberty to give that sense, whether ever before given or not, which, after my best consideration of the subject, shall appear best to accord with Inspiration, the analogy of things, and historic facts.
The two witnesses will be here considered as an appellation given to all the true people of God, during the period noted. They are those who can truly endure the measurement of the word of God, as the antecedent texts decide; those who belong to the mystical temple and body of Christ. The description of them may have a special allusion to the true ambassadors of Christ; yet not to exclude his common members. The phrase, “my two witnesses, seems to imply that some beings are peculiarly known by this appellation. Who then are, in fact, best known by it? The ambassadors of Christ are thus. “ Ye are my witnesses,” said Christ to them. 6 Ye are witnesses of these things.” “ And ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and unto the utmost parts of the earth.” Those words our Lord addressed to his ministers, just before he ascended ; having given them their commission, and promised to be with them always, even unto the end of the world. Here then, are men known, in the word of God, as Christ's witnesses; as also in the following passages : “ This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we (the apostles) are all witnesses.” Again : 6. Whom God raised from the dead, whereof we are witnesses." 66 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection." “And we are his witnesses of these things, and so is also the Holy Ghost.” " And we are witnesses of all these things, which God did.” Ananias said to Paul, “For thou shalt be his witness unto all men. “ The elders among you I exhort, who am also an elder and a witness.” Who, or what, besides the ambassadors of Christ, can claim such a number of inspired testimonies direct to the purpose? In ten passages they are thus denominated. The witnesses prophesy, or preach,“ in the days of their prophecy!" To whom besides does this so fitly apply, as to the ministers of the gospel ? The witnesses are noted as “the two prophets; that tor
ment them that dwell on the earth.” What other prophets torment them that dwell on the face of the earth? These are the two olive-trees," Zech. iv. 3, 11, 14; standing one on each side of the candlestick ; and are explained as being Joshua, and Zerubbabel; who unitedly prefigured Christ as our Priest and King. Of them the angel said to Zechariah, “these are the two anointed ones (Hebrew, sons of oil), that stand before the Lord of the whole earth." But who, on earth, are more fitly called anointed ones, sons of oil, standing before the Lord of the whole earth, than the ambassadors of Christ? These are the same with the four living creatures, in this mystical book, who stand between God and the mystical elders,-common members of the church.
But, although the descriptions of the witnesses have thus a striking allusion to the ministersof Zion; they do not refer exclusively to them. For the witnesses are also the two candlesticks, in the text. But a candlestick is a noted emblem of the whole church of Christ,—ministers, and common brethren. See Rev. i. 20; and ii. 1, where Christ assures us that the seven stars are the angels (pastors) of the seven churches; and the seven candlesticks are the seven churches : and where our Lord thus distinguishes between these two classes of men; treats them as in a close connexion. " These things saith He that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand; who walketh in the midst of his seven golden candlesticks.” True ministers and Christians all unite in bearing their testimony for Christ. It is testified of the church, including her ministers, as follows; “The Spirit, and the bride say, come.” Thus the preachers of righteousness, and all their lay-brethren, form this whole,-the two witnesses.
But why is their number noted as two? Whether the duality of the two branches just noted, forms any part of the reason, I will leave. Pastors and churches form but one, and the two witnesses, in fact, form but one general testimony for God. Various Biblical considerations, as well as historic facts, favour the idea of a duality of the witnesses of Christ. There must be two witnesses to constitute a legal testimony. See Deut. xix. 15; and Matt. xviii. 16; 1 Tim. v. 19; where two are noted as necessary to warrant conviction. And in the most trying
times of the dark ages, God never left his cause without ample witnesses; though their number was often small. In the sacred oracles, we find Moses and Aaron must be associated, to operate as the witnesses of God; Elijah and Elisha; Joshua and Zerubbabel ; the disciples must be sent out two and two ! And something like a duality seems to have been furnished, to bless the church of the faithful, in the dark ages, and after; as John Huss and Jerome of Prague ; Luther and Calvin; Cranmer and Ridley; the Waldenses and Albigenses. These dualities seem to favour this idea of a duality in the witnesses. In the present time, the church in America, and the church in Great Britain, form the essential two, in commencing and supporting the flight of the missionary angel. And the church of the Jews, and of the gentiles will be the final means of the conversion of the world, after the battle of the great day shall sweep Antichrist into perdition, and shall leave a remnant over the earth to be brought into the fold of Christ. If these reasons be not fully satisfactory ; the sovereignty of God is sufficient; “Even so, Father : for so it seemed good in thy sight.”
Ver. 5. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies; and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.
6. These 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.
We have here a striking allusion to the powerful efficacy of holy Christian prayer. It fails not to engage the omnipotence of God in behalf of the persecuted church. “ And shall not God avenge his own elect who cry unto him day and night, though he bear long with them? I tell you, he will avenge them speedily.” The witnesses destroying their enemies with fire from heaven, seems an allusion to Elijah's calling down fire from Heaven to consume the captains and their fifties, who were sent by the wicked Ahab to take him: as also their having power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy,