« PreviousContinue »
*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. 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."
It is evident, that these two witnesses are to be contemporary with the great Apostasy, because they are to continue throughout its whole duration of 1260 years*; and it is equally evident, that they are to be hostile to it, because they are represented as prophesying in sackcloth, and as being the peculiar objects of the beasť s fury. They are moreover not to exist at this time, or at that time, but from the very beginning to the very end of the Apostasy: consequently it is manifest, that they cannot be any two mere individuals. The question then is, what they are? Mr. Galloway endeavours to prove them to be the Old and New Testament t. In this conjecture he follows Colter, More, and Napiert:
* I speak of the Apostasy in its dominant state.
t Brief Comment. p. 45 et infra. Mr. Burton fancies the two witnesses to be Daniel and St. John; but, as he does not even attempt to shew in what particulars they answer to the character of lke witnesses, he leaves no room for a regular confutation. Essay on the numbers of Daniel and St. John, p. 241, 242, 246.
See Pol. Synop. in loc. Brightman thinks, that they are the Scriptures, and the congregation of the faithful. Apoc. fol. 169
but such an opinion runs directly counter to a very wholesome rule, which every commentator upon hieroglyphical prophecy ought particularly to attend to: Having once established the definite meaning of a symbol, never afterwards think yourself at liberty to depart from that meaning* The two wilnesses are expressly said by St. John to be the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks, standing before the God of the earth. But both an olive tree, and a candlestick, are equally symbols of a churchf. Consequently the tivo witnesses must be two churches; and therefore cannot be the trvo Testaments. Bp. Newton thinks, that no two particular men, or particular churches, are meant by them: but only that there should be a few faithful servants of God in every age, who should protest against the superstitious corruptions of their times. His Lordship is perfectly right in the spirit, though not quite accurate in the letter, of his interpretation. There is so much precision in all the numbers both of Daniel and St. John, that we ought to be very jealous of þreaking down the barrier of their literal acceptațion : Scripture will ever be found the most
* See the beginning of the Preface to this work. + See the preceding chapter upòn syinbols.
# It was wisely observed by Abp. Secker, that “it doth not sf appear that any of the numbers in Daniel mean uncertainty." His Grace might with equal propriety have extended his remark to St. John, with a very few exceptions which explain themselves. See Rev. vii. 4. and Rev. xxi. 16, 17.
satisfactory expositor of Scripture: and such I apprehend to be the case in the present instance. Throughout the whole Apocalypse the idea of the twofold Church of Christ is accurately preserved: the Church before the advent of our Lord, and the Church after his advent; the Church founded upon the Prophets, and the Church founded upon the Apostles; Jesus Christ himself being equally the corner-stone of both. Accordingly we find, in the very beginning of the Revelation, mention made of twenty-four elders, who are represented as being in heaven, the symbol of the universal Church. Tielve of these, in allusion to the twelve Jervish patriarchs, are representatives of the pre-Christian Church: and the other twelve, in allusion to the twelve Apostles, are representatives of the posl-Christian Church. Whence the mystical number of God's chosen is said to be 144,000; or twelve multiplieil into treelre, and afterwards again multiplied into a thorund, to shew that thie pious constitute an exceeding great multitude. Whence also the symbolical city of the Lamb, or the universal Church triumphunt, is de scribed as a perfect cube of 12,000 furlongs; having twelve gates upon which are written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, and twelve foundations in which are the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb. And whence lastly the faithful are represented as singing the song not only of the Lamb, but likewise of Moses the servant of God. Now, then we recollect, that the prophet begins E 4
the chapter, wherein he treats of the two witnesses, with an account of his measuring the spiritual temple : when we further consider, that St. John's imagery of the two candlesticks, and the two olive trees, is evidently taken from Zechariah's vision of the second temple*; and that he himself describes the twenty-four elders as being in the figurative heaven, or the Church general, in the same manner as the candlesticks and the olive trees were placed in the temple, which is another symbol of the spiritual Church general as contradistinguished from the outer court of mere nominal Christians: when the whole of this is duly weighed, and when the undoubted fact that St. John borrows this set of hieroglyphics from the Jewish temple and its furniture is taken into the account; I think we cannot but come to the conclusion, that the twentyfour elders, the twelve gates, and the twelve foundations of the new Jerusalem, the two olive trees, the two candlestickst, and the two witnesses, all equally signify the spiritual members of the catholic Church, considered as one great whole, though made up of two component parts, Not that any
* Zech. iv. 2, 3, 9, 11-14.
+ It is evident, that the two olive trees are the same as the two candlesticks, and that they are not designed to symbolize four different particulars; because the witnesses, who are only two in number, are said to be typified not merely by the two olive trees, but likewise additionally by the two candlesticks. Whence it will follow, that the one olive tree is the same in point of signification as the one candlestick, and the other as the other.
I have said more on this subject in my answer to Mr. Bicheno,
of the members of the pre-Christian Church literally prophesied during the 1260 years of the great Apostasy : the prophet speaks only of men of a like spirit with themselves, the mystical children of the Church general now for ever united under its illustrious head, those who are Israelites indeed. “ Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises “ made. He saith not, and unto seeds, as of n
many; “ bat as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ “ But, before faith came, we were kept under the “ law, shut up unto the faith which should after“ wards be revealed-Ye are all the children of “God by faith in Christ Jesus- There is neither “ Jew nor Greek, neither bond nor free, there e is neither male nor female : for ye are all one in “ Christ Jesus. And, if ye be Christ's, then are “ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the
Mr. Galloway objects, that the two witnesses cannot be those who protested against the corruptions of Popery during the 1260 years, because they were to prophesy in sackcloth; whereas none of the reformers ever pretended to the gift of prophecy, but contented themselves with being merely preachers of God's word. In making this objection, Mr. Galloway seems to have forgotten, that in the New Testament prophesying is not unfrequently used as a mere synonym of
* Gal, iii. 16, 23, 26, 28, 29.