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the advantage which may be derived from their labors; and then all things are yours. Walk uprightly, and the word, though feebly dispensed, will be mighty through God. "As the rain cometh down from heaven, and returneth not thither again, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater; so shall God's word be that goeth forth out of his mouth. It will not return to him void, but will accomplish that which he pleaseth, and will prosper in the thing whereto he sendeth it."
Now the Lord make his word and his grace abound toward us, that we may always, having all sufficiency in all things, may abound in every good work, and in all Christian hope, comfort and joy.
The Prophecy concerning the two Witnesses ex
REVELATION xi. 3—13.
And I will give power unto my two witnesses and they shall prophecy a thousand two hundred and threescore days clothed in saccloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. And if any man will burt 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. Thefe have power to shut heaven that it rain not in the days of their prophecy; and power over waters to turn them into blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. 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 an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell on 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 an half, the spirit of life from God entered into them; and they stood upon their feet, and great fear fell upon those which And they heard a great voice from heaven, saying unto them, Come up bitber. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies beheld them. And the same bour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: And the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.
THE words now read contain an important period in the grand prophetic scheme of this book, which extends from the time of St. John to the final judgment of the world.
This scheme is naturally divided into seven periods; those of the seals; the trumpets; the vials; the thousand years; in which Satan shall be bound; the short space, in which he shall be let loose again; the geneal resurrection and judgment; and the happy state of the righteous, and the miserable state of the wicked, which follow the judgemnt.
The period of the seven seals shews the state of the Christian church under the heathen Roman empire, and is supposed to end under the reign of Constantine, when the church was relieved from persecution, and brought under the protection of government. The seventh seal has no appropriate events, but only introduces the period of the seven trumpets. This period is supposed to extend from the time of Constantine, to the time, when the Christian church received a new form by the rise and establishment of the papal superstition. This, as an ecclessastical establishment, began about the year 600; but it became a political establishment about 150 years afterward. As the seventh seal introduced the trumpets, so the seventh trumpet introduces the vials.
But before John proceeds to describe the contents of the vials, he gives four distinct representations of the state of the church, from the rise to the downfal of the papal or idolatrous power, which, he says will continue 42 months, or a time, times and half a time, i. e. three and a half years, or 1260 days. These all designate the same space of time; for three and a half years, are 42 months, or 1260 days, according as the length of a year was then reckoned. This space comprehends the whole period of the seven vials.
One of these general representations of the state of the church is the mensuration of the temple of God, and the abandonment of the outer court and the holy city, to be trodden under foot of the Gentiles for 42 months. Another is the prophecying of God's
two witnesses for 1260 days, clothed in sackcloth. The third is the flight of a woman into the wilderness, where she is nourished, and protected from the dragon 1260 days. The other is the rise of a terrible beast out of the sea, which should make war with the saints, and commit great destruction in the earth for the space of 42 months.
These are distinct representations of the same period, which ends in the destruction of the enemies of the church, and in her exaltation and glory.
After John has given these general views of the state of the church, during this period, he goes back, and resumes his subject. He now relates the sounding of the seventh trumpet, which brings on the stage seven angels with their vials, to be poured out in their order. These vials are particular representations of the events, which were to take place, during the period, which he had more generally described. The last vial brings destruction on the great mystical Babylon, and opens the way for the introduction of the happy state of the church.
This is a general view of the scheme of prophecy in this book. An attention to this scheme will help us to understand the book, when we read it.
The words, which I have chosen for the subject of our meditations are one of those general representations of the state of the Christian church from the rise to the destruction of the papal power, containing the space of 1260 prophetic days, or so many literal years.
I design to explain this important description, and then to make some practical observations upon it.
In the verses next preceding those, which I have read, John says, "There was given me a reed like unto a rod. And the angel stood, saying, Rise 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 to the Gentiles: And the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months."
The Christian church is here described by an allusion to the ancient temple, which, besides the sanctuary where the Jews assembled for divine wor ship, had a large exterior court, into which Gentile proselytes were allowed to enter. John's measur ing the inner court, and leaving the outer court unmeasured for the Gentiles, who shall profane this, and tread under foot the holy city, signify to us, that God will preserve for himself a church, in which the purity of faith and worship will be maintained; but that, in some periods, it will consist of a small number only; for the greater part of nominal Christians will apostatize from the truth, and fall into such abominable corruptions, that they may justly be ranked among the heathens.
Yet, in this time of prevailing error and wickedness, God promises, "I will give power to my two witnesses, who shall prophecy a thousand, two hundred, and threescore days, clothed in sackloth."
The two witnesses are they who shall faithfully maintain the truth of religion, and the purity of worship in those degenerate times, and shall boldly testify against the errors and vices, which threaten the extinction of religion.
These witnesses are called prophets, which is a name often given to the ministers of religion; and they are said to prophecy, which is a term used in the New Testament, for preaching the gospel.Ministers are therefore principally intended. as they are to prophecy 1260 prophetic days, or so many literal years, we must understand by them, not two particular men or churches, but a succession of faithful ministers through that long and trying period.
They are called two witnesses to signify, that, though their number, compared with a degenerate world, will be small, yet, it will be sufficient to up