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A great earthquake.]
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.
11 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 them which saw them,
12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.
13 And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the 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.
14 The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.
15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world
[Great joy in heuven. are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
16 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,"
17 Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.
18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.
19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail. (T)
witnesses would be found far more nu
These two witnesses are compared to the "two olive trees," and the two candlesticks, or rather lamps, exhibited to the prophet Zechariah (chap. iv. 2, &c.; see our Notes and Exposition); the object of which is, to show from whence these witnesses are to be supplied with wisdom and grace to fulfil their respective duties. What follows, with respect to their power over fire and water, must be explained in reference to the miraculous powers of Moses and Elijah; but as applied to the witnesses generally, must refer only to their "effectual fervent prayer," which, as St. James teaches us, could open and shut the heavens, and call down rain or lightning from above. (James v. 17, 18.) We must be guarded, however, against the supposition that any
of these holy men were actuated by personal animosity or revenge. They were warmed with holy fire, and bedewed with heavenly grace.
(T) Ver. 8-19. The death and resurrection of the witnesses.-We are here told that when the witnesses shall have finished, or shall be about to finish their testimony, a certain ravenous beast from the bottomless pit (of whom we shall hear more hereafter) shall make war against them, and overcome them, and kill them. These, like all the Lord's servants, are "immortal till their work is done;" and then they enter into rest, though it is often by the vehicle of a fiery chariot.
Not only are these witnesses slain, but their dead bodies are suffered to lie unburied, and are treated with the utmost
Ver. 13. A tenth part-i. e. one of the ten kingdoms mentioned in chap. xiii, 1.-Were slain of men seven thousand.-Marg. "seven thousand
names of men;" i. e. persons of note or consequence. Ver. 16. Sat before God on their seats.-Greek, "Thrones," as in chap. iv. 4.
contempt; their enemies carousing and making merry over them, until after three days (or years) and a half they obtain a triumphant resurrection, and ascend to glory. And now the scene is wonderfully reversed; many of their enemies are slain, and the rest, affrighted, repent and give glory to God.
But the question which now presents itself is, Have these witnesses been already slain, and when? or, if not, When may the event be expected? Many events have been pointed out by expositors and divines which have been a partial slaying of the wituesses, and have corresponded with the period of three years and a half; but they have been partial, and not followed with that state of triumph and felicity which the prediction leads us to expect, especially as it contains an evident allusion to the resurrection and ascension of our Lord himself. Of these events the following are the most considerable:-1. The Session of the Council of Constance, by which John Huss and Jerom of Prague were burnt; this lasted from November 1414 to April 1418, and greatly contributed to forward the Reformation in Germany. The sanguinary reign of our Queen Mary, which lasted from February 1555 to November 1588, and was followed by the Reformation under Queen Elizabeth.-The Popish reign of our James II. lasted from February 1685 to November 1688; and from the revocation of the edict of Nantz, in October 1685, to the coronation of our William III., in April 1689, which provided an asylum for many of the persecuted French Protestants, was nearly the same period. Other similar events have been remarked, but that which excited by far the greatest interest is the French Revolution, near the close of the last century; and which was, in fact, foretold from this very passage.
The Rev. Dr. Thos. Goodwin, sometime President of Magdalen College, Oxford, and afterwards one of the ejected ministers, wrote his exposition of the Apocalypse in 1639, but it was not published till 1683,
which was soon after his decease. Commenting on verse 13 of this chapter, by "the tenth part of the city" be understands the kingdom of France, and by the slaying of "7000 men," or (as the margin reads) "names of men," he understands "men of title, office, and dignity," who, for having killed the witnesses, themselves are to be killed; "haply," says he, “by being bereft of their names and titles, which are to be rooted out for ever."
Rev. Peter Jurieu, a French Protestant divine, within four years after the publication of the above, viz. in 1687, explains the above quoted text as follows:-There shall be an earthquake, i.e. a great emotion and trouble in the world, and in the Antichristian kingdom. In this emotion & tenth part of the city shall fall: that is, a tenth part of the Antichristian kingdom shall be taken away from it. ...... Now what is this tenth part of the city which shall fall? In my opinion, we cannot doubt that it is France. .... This does not signify that the French monarchy shall be ruined it may be humbled; but, in all appearance, Providence does design a great elevation for her afterwards. ...... Afterward it must build its greatness on the ruins of the Papal empire." M. Jurieu goes on to state his expectation that the death of these witnesses had a particular relation to that kingdom (France) as the street of the Papal city. The witnesses (says he) must remain dead upon this street, and upon it they must be raised again." On the earthquake and the slaying of 7000 names of men, he gives an exposition similar to Dr. Goodwin, only, instead of secular titles, he supposes it may be the ecclesiastical orders of monks and friars that will be destroyed.
Rev. Mr. Fleming, Minister of the Scots Church in Loudon in the beginning of the 18th century, is still more particular and express, and fixes this great revolution to the year 1794: but as his chief observations are founded on the pouring out the vials (ch. xvi.), we shall till then defer our extract from this writer; in the mean
CHAP. XII. Ver. 1. A great wonder.-Margin, "sign." So verse 3. Meaning, properly, a type
or symbol of Christianity, or the Christian church. Ver. 2. And pained.-Doddr. " in agony,"
time, we beg leave to observe, that we should be extremely cautious in offering expositions upon prophecies unfulfilled; since, though several of the above conjectures seem to have been remarkably fulfilled, it is plain that none of them were completely so; for none of them have issued in that state of permanent reform and triumph which is predicted.
Had the late Revolution in France produced a reform also, and had true religion since flourished in that country, we suppose there are few expositors who would not have considered that event as a complete fulfilment of the prediction. But the failure here leads us to look farther for its accomplishment, though it appears to us not at all improbable that France may still be one of the next kingdoms that shall desert the Pope. The Scriptures are now freely circulating there, and "a godly seed" is being disseminated through the country, which, we hope, may hereafter glorify God. Indeed, France, and especially the South of it, has always produced a full proportion of witnesses, not only to the truth, but also to the power of the gospel: and, at the same time, we know that there are still popish monks and priests enough to kindle a fire of persecution, if God should so permit. And as it is not clear that the 1260 days of the witnesses, or of the beast, are yet fulfilled, we may reasonably fear that a farther " fiery trial" may still await the church, though we have every reason to believe it will be a short one; and are well assured it will end in the triumph of Christianity. That the death and resurrection of the witnesses is not yet fully accomplished, was the opinion, not only of Dr. Gill, and the old commentators, but also of Archdeacon Woodhouse; who, though he applies the great earthquake to the great agitations which took place in Europe about the time of the Reformation, and the fall of a tenth part of the city to the secession of the Protestant nations from Rome; yet, in the close of this chapter, hesitates, " upon a calm review" of what he has written, whe. ther he may not be mistaken. "All the
symbols of the prophecy, especially in the latter part (he says), will not be found to be fulfilled so completely in the history which we exhibit, as should reasonably be expected. "And, therefore (adds Dr. W.), I am inclined to agree with Bishop Newton, that the final conflict of the beast with the witnesses may be yet to come. The 1260 years .... are not yet elapsed; and in a prophecy, of which parts only are yet fulfilled, there must remain difficulties." Mr. Fuller, also, who agreed with the Archdeacon in applying this portion of prophecy to the Reformation, and some more recent events, in the conclusion of his work, hesitates whether he may not have gone too far. Speaking (in 1814) of these very recent events, he says-"These tides in human affairs may be permitted, as by a flux and reflux of the ocean, to wash away those things which it is the purpose of heaven to destroy. The Antichristian power may rise and fall repeatedly, before it falls to rise no more. Popery must be what it always has been, a persecuting enemy of true religion, or nothing. The preponderating powers of Europe, by restoring its authority, and recommending it to exercise a liberal government, suited to the times, have done all, perhaps, that was in their power towards lengthening out its tranquillity: but it is in vain. We would have healed Babylon, they may say, but she is not healed."
This hesitation in interpreting the Scriptures (as it may be called), may be condemned by the ardent spirits of modern prophets; but is, perhaps, the best proof both of reverence to the Scriptures, and of modesty and humility in the expositors: "But fools rush in where angels fear to tread."
We are now told (ver. 14), "The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly." The seventh trumpet then sounds, and occasions at once joy in heaven, and vengeance upon earth. These intimations of the interest which the blessed inhabitants of heaven take in the
Ver. 3. A great red dragon.-The redness here is properly that of fire. A dragon is properly an enor.
mous serpent, such as we have mentioned in our Exposition of chap. xiii. 4.
The woman flies]
of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down,
[into the wilderness,
which accused them before our God day and night.
11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
12 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them, Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unte you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
17 And the dragon was wrath with
EXPOSITION-Chap. XI. Continued.
affairs of Christ's kingdom on earth (of which there are several in this book), appear to us to imply, that they are not kept in ignorance of its progress. And if there is joy in the presence of the angels of God "over one sinner that repenteth," as our Lord assures us (Luke xv. 7, 10), we need not wonder at the joy enkindled among them by the proclamation of the Millennium. On this subject, however, we shall not enlarge here, as we shall have it repeat
edly before us in the next and following chapters. In the mean time, we agree with Mr. Lowman and Mr. Fuller, that the judgment here spoken of (ver. 18) is not the last judgment, or " the consummation of all things;" but "manifestly refers to the avenging of the martyrs, by the judg ments to be inflicted on the Papal power under the seven vials, antecedent to the Millennium."
Ver. 5. A man child.-Doddr. "a masculine son," which is literal And her child, &c.-Some place these words to the end of verse 6, in a parenthesis,
Ver. 6. Fled into the Wilderness.-By a wilderderness, in Scripture, is always meant a place barren, and destitute of human food. See Isa. xli. 19,
20; Ezek. xx. 35; Hos. ii. 14, 15.
Ver. 14. Two wings of a great eagle.-To be borne on eagles' wings, implies divine miraculous deli verance. See Exod. xix. 4; Isa. xl. 31, &c.
Ver. 15. Water as a flood.-Dodds. and Woods. "like a river."
And the dragon makes]
the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which
[war with her seéd.
keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (U)
(U) Ver. 1-17. The woman clothed with the sun, and the great red dragon.-Dr. Doddridge (and, we think, properly) prefixes to this chapter the last verse of the preceding, which, therefore, we did not notice in that place. We have before repeatedly observed, that there are in many of these visions allusions to the scenery of the Jewish temple, and this is one of the most remarkable instances. The holy of holies is now laid open to the apostle's view, and the ark of the covenant appears, with the usual awful tokens of the divine presence; but in the foreground of this scene behold, a pregnant woman, and that woman clothed in glory. She is clothed, according to Bishop Newton, by being invested with the rays of Jesus Christ, the sun of righteousness; having "the moon"-the Jewish new moons and festivals, as well as all sublunary things-" under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars" -an emblem of her being under the light and guidance of the twelve apostles.
This woman, the commentators seem universally agreed, must represent the Christian church, according to the practice of the ancients, who commonly depicted empires, nations, and cities, under the feminine form, with proper and distinguishing emblems. This woman, we are farther told, was pregnant-was taken in labour, and in much agony "brought forth a man (or masculine) child." Before this woman also appeared a great red (or scarlet) dragon, representing Satan himself as the demon of Pagan tyranny and persecution. When we are told his tail drew down a third part of the stars of heaven," it may probably allude to his seduction of that part of the heavenly host" who kept not their first estate," for he was a liar and a tempter from the beginning; or it may refer to those stars of the Christian church below, which he had seduced into error and worldly ambition; for we know from other Scriptures, he lieth in wait, "seeking whom he may devour." His object now was to devour this new-born child: but there is an eye in heaven that never sleeps; and in this critical moment, when the dragon was feasting his eyes with the hopes of prey, it was suddenly caught to heaven. But who was this masculine child? Archdeacon Woodhouse interprets this of our Saviour himself; and Bishop Newton supposes that Constantine might be in
tended; but, with Lowman and Fuller, we rather refer it to the seed of the church, mentioned in the close of the chapter. "It was this seed (says the latter expositor) that the dragon aimed, by persecution and corruption, to destroy. This child was born to rule; not, however, at present: for if so, there had been no need of his being caught up to the throne of God, nor for his mother's flying into the wilderness for 1260 years. It is at the end of that period that the man child, or the seed of the church, shall rule; and this accords with Daniel vii. 27, "The kingdom and dominion shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High."
As to the woman, a place had also been prepared for her. The child (like young Joash, in the time of Athaliah, 2 Kings xi. 2, 3) was secured in the temple opened in heaven; but the woman had a refuge proIvided in the wilderness, or desert, as was the case with Elijah; and the wings of a great eagle (as mentioned in ver. 14) were given her, to facilitate her escape. The time of her seclusion was also commensurate with that of the prophecying of the witnesses, and of their mourning. While the witnesses were persecuted, the church must needs" weep in secret places."
God will, however, take part with them; and the dragon is not only deprived of his prey, but cast down from heaven in discomfiture and disgrace. Michael and his host are sent to engage with Satan and his angels, in which there is doubtless an allusion to Dau. x. 13, &c. xii. 1; where Michael is described as fighting the battles of the Lord, and of his church.
If the great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, intend, as we conceive it does, the demon of Paganism under the old Roman empire, his waiting to destroy the new-born child of Christianity must represent his watchful cruelty during the ten Pagan persecutions. After this, when he was cast out of heaven, and Paganism was subdued under the establishment of Christianity, he raged the more: first, in attempting to revive the old system of idolatry under Julian the apostate; and, afterwards, in corrupting the Christian church itself by heretical doctrines and secular ambition, until at length the same spirit animated and inspired the Papal monster; the woman (i. e. the true church), who had hidden herself as well as she could hitherto, was now upborne, as upon