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III. What shall we say then to the intimation of the prophet, that the witnesses are to be slain by the wild beast that ascendeth out of THE ABYSS: a term, which he uses when he foretells the revival of the wild beast; while, in describing his original rise as seen also by Daniel, he similarly speaks of him as proceeding out of the SEA? It is not, as I have already observed, that I suppose there to be any difference in the meaning of the two terms sea and ABYSS; on the contrary, I believe them to be perfectly synonymous: but there certainly is a difference in the terns themselves; and the argument, founded upon such phraseological difference, was this.
St. John styles the wild beast, at his original rise, THE BEAST FROM THE SEA ; but at his second rise, when he is restored to the functions of vitality, he denominates him THE BEAST Now he asserts, that THE BEAST FROM THE ABYSS is the power, that slays the witnesses. Whence, if he use the phrase in studied contradistinction to the pther phrase, it would follow, that the witnesses are slain by the beast in his revived state, not by the beast in his original state.
But the revived state of the beast is still future. Therefore the death of the Įvitnesses is still future likewise.
1. This argument plainly cannot be confuted, except by denying the premises on which it is founded; that is to say, by denying that St. John, in the prophecy relative to the witnesses, employs the word ABYSS in studied contradistinction to the word SEA : and to such a deniąl we seem to be led by those
FROM THE ABYSS.
counter arguments, which to all appearance demorrstrate so conclusively, that the war of the witnesses must be past.
If those counter arguments then have any force, and if we adhere to the obvious grammatical arrangement of the whole passage, we must suppose, that the apostle, in the prophecy relative to the witnesses, does not employ the word Abyss in any studied contradistinction to the word SEA; as if he meant by such phraseology 'to intimate, that the witnesses would be slain by the beast in his revived state and not by the same beast in his original state of existence: but that, the two words being synonymous and equally denoting the mighty oceanic assemblage of waters, he uses them in every case promiscuously and indifferently.
2. Yet it is possible, that the passage may be so interpreted, as to make the death of the witnesses still future, by ascribing its infliction to the revived Roman beast when he shall have ascended out of the great abyss; and this, without rendering it necessary to withdraw the interpretation which has been given of the second and third woes.
(1.) I have intimated, that the obvious grammatical arrangement of the whole passage requires us to place the death of the witnesses BEFORE the departure of the second woe, and therefore much more BEFORE the commencement of the third woe: whence, if the second woe be past and if the third woe be come, which I suppose to be the case; it will follow, tlaat the death of the witnesses has already occurred.
But, though the obvious grammatical arrangement of the passage requires this conclusion, still it is possible so to view it, that the death of the witnesses shall be esteemed future, notwithstanding the second woe has past, and notwithstanding the third woe is
To accomplish such a purpose, it will be necessary to throw into a parenthesis all that portion of the prophecy, which is delivered from the fourth to the thirteenth verse inclusively. When this is done, we may interpret the parenthetic portion proleptically ; supposing it to be here introduced, not in chronological relation to the subsequently mentioned departure of the second woe and arriral of the third woe, but only with a view to preserve the entire prophecy respecting the two witnesses unbroken and continuous. By such an arrangement therefore, the fourteenth verse will be made immediately to follow the fourth. Whence it will appear, that the second woe is declared to be past, not so soon as the great earthquake shall have overthrown the tenth part of the city, but at some indefinite time after the witnesses shall have commenced their sackcloth prophesying of 1260 days.
According to this possible arrangement, the prophecy will display itself under the following aspect.
Chap. xi. 1. And there was given me a reed 66 like unto a rod : and the angel stood, saying; “ Rise, and measure the temple of God and the " altar and them that worship therein. 2. But the 55 court, which is without the temple, leave out, and “ measure it not: for it is given unto the Gentiles; “ and the holy city shall they tread underfoot forty « and two months. 3. And I will give power unto
my two witnesses; and they shall prophesy a thou« sand two hundred and three score days clothed in " sackcloth. 4. These are the two olive-trees and “ the two candlesticks standing before the God of so the earth.
(5. And, if any man will hurt them, fire pro" ceedeth 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 they have power over the waters “ to turn them into blood, and to smite the earth “ with all plagues as often as they will. 7. And, “ when they shall have finished (or when they shall “ be a finishing) their testimony, the wild beast, that
ascendeth out of THE ABYSS, shall make war
against them, and shall overcome them, and shall " kill them. 8. And their dead bodies shall lie in “ the broad place of the great city, which spiritually " is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord
was crucified. 9. And they of the peoples and “ kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their “ dead bodies three days and a 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 shall make merry, and shall “ send gifts to one another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.
“ 11. And,
" 11. And, after three days and a 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 thein. 13. And " the same hour there was a great earthquake; and " the tenth part of the city fell : and in the earth
quake were slain seven thousand names of men; “ and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory " to the God of heaven.)
14. The second woe is past : behold, the third woe cometh quickly. 15. And the seventh angel " sounded.
(2.) Now, according to such an arrangement of the prophecy, the passing of the second woe does not chronologically follow the great earthquake which overthrows the tenth part of the city, but it occurs at some indefinite time after the witnesses have commenced their sackcloth ministration : and, in favour of this arrangement we may urge no less than two of those nicely connecting links, by which the inspired apostle is wont to chain together designedly parallel though graphically disjoined passages of the Apocalypse.
One of the supposed links I have already noticed, when I made it the basis of an argument in favour of the yet future death of the witnesses.
The beast, that slays those witnesses, is the beast