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must allude to the drought, occasioned on the idolatrous Israel by the prayers of Elijah. And their turning water to blood; and their smiting the earth with all plagues, as oft as they will, must allude to the plagues on Egypt, inflicted by the instrumentality of Moses in behalf of the liberation of the chosen tribes. The holy oracles honour the saints, in their afflictions from the wicked world, with the possession of a power like this, for their defence. But the true sense is,-God does these, or similar works of judgment, in answer to their prayers for Zion's salvation; and in vindication of the Christian cause. We accordingly find such language as the following, in the Holy Scriptures, relative to the honour and power of the people of God: "Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hands, to execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishment upon the people; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute upon them the judgments written; this honour have all the saints." In one of the prophets, the church, in these last days, is directed to make a new threshing instrument, having teeth, to thresh the nations, and beat them small as powder, that the wind may carry them all away! A great meaning is contained in such figures, which the wicked world will too late discover, to their cost, for all their pride and malice against the cause of Christ on earth. The wicked queen Mary had learned a little of this sentiment, when she felt that she would rather have ten thousand men in arms against her than the prayers of John Knox! Such figures must be viewed as alluding, not to any malevolent vindictive spirit in Christians; but to the influence of their holy intercessions with God in behalf of his cause, and the fulfilment of his word for Zion's salvation. They both allude to, and confirm the fact, that "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." They hint to us what all the effectual fervent prayers of the followers of Christ will avail, when put in operation in behalf of Zion's afflicted cause, and pleading for the fulfilment of God's word in the protection of his churches on earth. They know, feel, and rejoice, that vengeance belongeth unto God, and not to them; and they plead with God to build up his own cause in his own way. God then, in his own time and way, performs his work, "his strange work”
of judgment, in behalf of his own kingdom of salvation, in which his children adoringly acquiesce; and he condescends to ascribe the event to them, inasmuch as he does it in their behalf, and in answer to their prayers for his own glory. And thus he says, "All things are yours." "All things shall work together for good to them that love God." And he adds, as Rev. ii. 27; "He that overcometh and keepeth my words unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessel of a potter shall they be broken to shivers; even as I received of my Father." (See Psalm ii. 8, 9.) This commission was given to Christ; and he thus gives it to his faithful children;—not to be the efficient cause of judgments, as he is; but to have the honour of being one object of his judgments; as interceding for his cause; and as having fellowship with him in his methods of judgment, and of grace.
We learn how we are to esteem the religion of the papal system; unmeasurable iniquity and abomination! The same we learn in 2 Thess. ii." Whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders; and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness. And for this cause shall God send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness;" "who opposeth himself above all that is called God, or worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God," in his blasphemous self exaltations. See the abominations of this character of popery in the second beast, in Rev. xiii. 11, to end; and as personified by the woman, Rev. xvii. 1-5. We have here "Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots, and abominations of the earth,""drunken with the blood of the saints,"-defiling kings of the earth; and rendering the millions of her deluded votaries drunk with the wine of her filthiness!—dashing out in her purple, and scarlet, gold, precious stones, and pearls; holding her golden cup filled with unmeasurable abomination, and filthiness. This scheme is the most fatal delusion ;—"the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death." No fellowship is to be held with her. "Come out of her, my people: be not partakers of her sins; that ye receive not of her plagues." Wretched is
the nation, or part of a nation, where this polluting system shall prevail, or be thought well of! Where it touches, it will defile and ruin. It will gender infidelity; and lead on to the battle of the great day. "I beheld then, because of the voice of the great words which the horn (popery) spake, I beheld till the beast (the atheistical system produced from it) was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame;" "cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented for ever."
May we have our lot with the two witnesses. In order for this, we must possess their character, make and maintain their faithful prayers, and thus wait on the Lord. Things with the two witnesses, and their enemies, will be found ripening to a crisis. The only safety of true Christians will be in living near to God. Then will their prayers bring down for them all needed aid from Heaven; and their cause will, in due time, ascend thither, and their enemies will with despairing eyes behold them. Do we then, belong to the true witnesses? To what do we bear witness? Do we truly support the doctrines of grace?— the duties which God demands of men?-the gospel motives of salvation? Is this our faithful witness; while many turn their ears from the truth, and are turned to fables? Is our witness borne for Christ truly practical, as well as evangelical? Is it in the exercise of the new heart which God gives?" Created in Christ unto good works; truly born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God?—having the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost given unto us?-beholding the glory of God as he is in himself, and being changed into the same image by the Spirit of the Lord? Do we carefully avoid the spirit and conduct of such as turn into crooked ways; who cry lo, here; or lo, there; and cannot endure sound doctrine? Do we stand and inquire for the old path, the good way of salvation, where the new-born have gone, denying themselves, taking up the cross, and following Christ? Do we thus in spirit and practice hold forth the word of life, as children of the light, and of the day? Are the enemies themselves constrained to take knowledge of us that we have thus been with Jesus Christ, and have truly learned of him? Decide these questions in the affirmative; and
the immunities and salvation of the two witnesses will be ours. Their people will be our people; and their God our God!
(The Slaying of the Witnesses.)
Ver. 7. 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.
8. 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.
9. And they of the people, and kindreds, and tongues, and nations, shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
10. 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.
We have here an event of deep interest; to find the sense and the period of which, now claims our attention. I have been of the number of those who fondly hope that this solemn event is past: but on further inquiry, I have been led to doubt of the correctness of this, and finally to apprehend that it is yet future. Various events have been presented to the public as the slaying of the witnesses; most of which may be seen in Bishop Newton on the prophecies; (vol. ii. page 226-9,) which will not here be adduced. That noted writer gave his own full belief that
the event was then still future. One writer has given his opinion that the event took place in the revolution in France of 1789, when atheism did to some extent triumph on the papal earth, and furious attempts were made to banish Christianity from the world. Probably more may be said in favour of that event's being the slaying of the witnesses, than in favour of any other past event. But, could the few Protestants who were then slain or silenced in France, be entitled to the appellation of the witnesses of Christ on earth? It must be difficult to admit this. Where did the rejoicing of all nations and tongues, which we are assured takes place on the slaying of the witnesses, occur upon the events of that revolution? The state of the nations on the Roman earth, at that time, formed an exact contrast with this. All, except the infidels of illuminism, were terrified at the events of that revolution, and trembled for their own existence: so far were they from "rejoicing, and sending gifts one to another!"
Nothing took place at that time, after three years and a half, which could amount to the resurrection of the witnesses, and their ascension to heaven in the sight of their enemies. I shall now state some difficulties which appear in the way of viewing this event as past.
1. The time given for the slaying of the witnesses, seems to show it to be now future. They were to prophesy, clothed in sackcloth, 1260 years; and it is "when they shall have finished their testimony," that they are slain. But the close of the 1260 years brings. us to the destruction of the beast from the bottomless pit; as has been shown from Dan. xii. 6, 7, where the oath of the Angel (Christ) that the close of the time, times, and a half (1260 years), brings the end of the wonders, or the destruction of the wilful power there described; which has been shown to be the same with the beast from the bottomless pit which slays the witnesses, and its destruction the same with the seventh vial, or the battle of the great day of God. This event then, is at the close of the 1260 years; and the slaying of the witnesses is at the close of the 1260 years; and the same period being ascribed to each of these events, shows them to be at least very nearly at the same period. And hence, as the end of these wonders, or the battle of the great day of God, is now future (being subsequent to the restoration