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shall they set forth; and all the while possess the utmost extent of his power, which they keep slumbering and sleeping under the sackcloth covering of sorrow and reproach, and never deal out, save upon such as would meddle with the liberty of their word and work. And so shall they carry their testimony far and near over the wide world, ministered to of angels, as was Philip and Elias, until their time be fulfilled and their change come; whereupon the beast who cometh up from the bottomless pit, and headeth up and leadeth on all wickedness, shall have power against them to make the snare in which his own feet shall be taken. For as it was with Christ when put to death, that by death he destroyed him that had the power of death, so shall it be with the witnesses, that being slain of Antichrist, the beast from the bottomless pit, they shall arise to his destruction, being invested with all the power of Christ, no longer to suffer and die, but to triumph over all the power of the enemy. Being raised again, their enemies shall behold them, when in the greatness of their power they go forth to tread the nations down as the dust under their feet. They mount up with wings, as eagles, into the cloud of glory; they run to and fro upon the earth on their errands of mercy and of judgment, and are not weary, they walk up and down in their uprightness, setting all things in order for the coming of Christ, and are not faint. They are his witnesses, first, of power manifestly restrained and humbled of mercy and love; then, of death, submitted to for the end of manifesting death, swallowed up in victory; then, of the resurrection holiness and majesty and judgment and government of Christ.
Though this prophesying of the two witnesses hath been of old standing even from the beginning of the ministration of the Spirit after the day of Pentecost, these particular things which they have to do and suffer are reserved until the very end when time shall be about to be no more, and the mystery of God to be ended, and the seventh or last trumpet ready to be blown; and the beast out of the bottomless pit, with the false prophet and all wicked kings, ready to go down into perdition. Just as the prophecy of Joel began to be conspicuously fulfilled at the day of Pentecost, so this prophecy of the two witnesses who trouble the whole earth, is now ready to be conspicuously accomplished. It shall have a ministration as remarkable and a consummation much more glorious than had the prophecy of Joel, whereof it is in truth a complete development. Of what complexion and character their witness shall be is sufficiently declared in different parts of the Apocalypse. It consisteth of the contents of that little book which was bitter in the belly of him that ate it; because it containeth the strange and terrible work of judgment which God is about to pour out upon all flesh, whereof he causeth these witnesses to be the bearers unto“ many people,
and nations, and tongues, and kings.” And forth they fly with it through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, "Woe, woe, woe to the inhabiters of the earth, by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels which are yet to sound.” They are the angels of Michael, who by blood of the Lamb, and word of the testimony, and carrying of their lives in their hand, do cast Satan and his angels forth of the spiritual region of the church, falling thereupon into the earth and the sea, the governments and the people, and stinging them into madness. "Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea, for the devil is come down unto you, having great power, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” Now the bearers of these doleful tidings are men full of mercy and pity, like Jeremiah, like Jesus, and weep and lament as they go, over the deadness, the impenitency and wrecklessness of mankind, making ready to do battle against the bosses of the Almighty's buckler. Therefore are they figured as being clothed in sackcloth all the days of their prophecy. I do pray continually that the Lord would prevail in me and my flock to put an end to levity and laughter, and mirth and enjoyment, and bring us into the fellowship of Christ's sufferings, by making us to drink abundantly of his love. For the love of God being imbibed into the heart of a holy man, doth come forth in streans of sorrow. The heart of Jesus is the fountain head of sorrow. In God it is love, in Jesus it turneth unto sorrow. Flesh is the harp on which God telleth out his sorrow over his lost children. And these witnesses shall be broken-hearted men, they shall mourn like doves, they shall sorrow as over a first-born, they shall weep as Rachael wept in Ramah over her children, and would not be comforted, because they were not. For what is it but God weeping over Israel his first-born, “ How shall I give thee up, Ephraim ? how shall I deliver thee, Israel ? how shall I make thee as Admah ? how shall I set thee as Zeboim ? Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together!" I would I felt more of this in my heart, I would I saw more of it in my brethren ; then surely would the Lord begin to blow his blast of woe: but not until he can get such a mellow heart-subduing, instrument, shall he begin ; for the woe which he expresseth cometh forth from his own agonized bosom. It will cost us much of trouble who utter, and much of pain and fear will it bring to them who hear it, but far more of grief and anguish doth it cost our Savour, who gave his divine life a sacrifice of love for every man. Ah me! to destroy those whom he ransomed at such a price of love. It is terrible for him to think and speak of it; how very terrible for him to do it! Is God of iron, o men! or is he of passive tender love? Look at Jesus, and ye shall know; for what is he but God manifested in the
flesh: look at the witnesses, and ye shall see ; for hereunto are they set, even to tell God's coming judgments with the outburstings of God's own tribulation of heart. Where will the Lord find such men? Surely he must make them for the purpose. And how shall he make them ? By giving them to eat that little book which was in the angel's band. That food celestial, food of Christ's body, words of his Spirit and life shall prepare
and furnish those who eat it for the sorrowful undertaking, and they shall go through with it to the Lord's own contentment, and to the salvation of many people.
Besides this, there is a great deal of their sorrow and suffering which ariseth from the contempt and reproach of men. Jesus doth not feel it beside his high calling, nor beneath his Father's notice to complain of the reproaches and contemptuous usages of men towards him,—the wagging of the head, the song of the drunkard, the mockery of the judges who sat in the gates, the desertion of his friends, and mother's children, and dear neighbours, yea, even of his enemies,-their rage and violence were as spears and sharp swords entering into His soul, which loved and delighted in all men, and for every man did surrender the delights of his Father's bosom, and the glory of the heavenly places. And so these witnesses, who are every one predestinated to be conformed to the image of his sorrow, shall feel, with child-like simplicity and tenderness, every act and word of un
indness and enmity ; for love is exceedingly desirous of love, and ill brooketh, though she patiently beareth, the evil workings of enmity in any man, regarding every man as a brother, a part of herself, near and dear to her as one of the members of her own body. The power of sin hath so benunibed and petrified the fibres of the heart of man, that we know not what man was originally, or is to be when sin shall be purged out of us by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning. In Jesus is man seen, and what a sight of sorrow ! In him man is seen as man ought to be stationed in this world of suffering and sin and death,—where he is the king weeping in his desolate palace, the priest in his desecrated temple, the father in his sick and dying family, the Creator in his marred and corrupted work. Methinks I feel the springings within me of that tide of sorrow which the witnesses shall pour over the earth and the sons of men, whose mirth and merry-making shall be so hindered and broken in upon, their pride so humbled, their ways of working so ashamed, their schemes so dishonoured, and their glory so consumed, that there will be no enduring of it; but if stripes and imprisonments, if spears and swords, if stonings and crucifixion, if wounds and death, could do aught to silence them, they should not be wanting, worked by all the artillery of earth and hell. But all availeth nothing to stay the work or quench the voice of these harbingers of woe; who hold on their doleful way, and lift up their wail
ing from land to land, until the whole earth is weary to bear it. There is no form of contempt, contumely, and indignity which they shall not be exposed to; and being all passive to suffering, as the child for its mother, or the mother for her child, or the lover for the beloved of his soul; think ye, oh think ye! what occasions, what heart-rending occasions, shall arise over all the earth, through all the days of their prophesying, for outpourings of heart's anguish. And then the burdens, the thick-coming woes, the plagues as of Egypt, the famines, the slaughters, and the deaths, brought on by this three-times-annealed temper of scorn and blasphemy to which the world is come, shall strike such deep cords of sorrow in the heart of their Creator, who loveth and longeth over his creatures, and would rather die himself, than that one of the children of men should die. My heart containeth not itself while I write; and the thoughts of my head, as I present the matter, do trouble me very sore ; yea, at times I have seen it before me in such horrors as have made me almost to cry out aloud in the midst of the congregation, Who shall live when God doth thus break the nations with the rod of iron in the hand of the Man-child ?
And as concerneth the substance of their witness, it is threefold, answering to the three voices of the angels which follow one another in this xiv th chapter of the Apocalypse; which bringeth me to my work of interpretation again. I shall soon have finished my testimony to the church in this kind, and shall wait for further instructions and other instruments at the hand of my Master. (Rev. xiv. 6.)
Like all the messengers of God, from Enoch unto these witnesses, they bear the everlasting Gospel of his grace and love to all men, to every creature under heaven, and to them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation and kindred and tongue and people. At length the all-comprehending love of God shall find a tongue able to utter it all in the ears of all people that upon the earth do dwell : from land to land, from shore to shore, from pole to pole, through the heavens speedeth the voice, and into every house it entereth, and in the high places of the earth it soundeth, and swelleth through the valleys, and by the hills is reverberated again, and in the entering in of the gates, and in the chief places of concourse, and in the streets and market-places; in the wilderness and in the solitary place; and every where over the wide habitable world, floweth the mighty river of the voice of our God : it prevaileth over the voice of multitudes; the waves and water-floods are subdued by its mightiness; and the howling winds are hushed before its majesty ; and the cedars of Lebanon are rent by its force; and the hinds of the fields part with their young ones at its terror. Oh! but it is a mighty and a terrible voice which goeth forth from the Lord Most High out of his holy
temple : they stagger and reel before it ; armies melt away, and the kings of the earth tremble, and all nature shrinketh back into her native nothingness at the voice of Him who called her thence into being; and withal it cometh forth to bless, but conscious guilt maketh all nature to tremble, and all flesh to wither: the holiness of it doth scatter the vain-glory and pomp of man; and the goings forth of his pride rush back upon him at the majesty of his Maker; and he is in utter dismay, by reason of bis blood-guiltiness: for “ this is He whom they have crucified afresh,” and whom all the world is risen up to cast out of their mind, and abolish from the memory of all creation. He is gone out of the world,' say they, and let us keep him out; he is gone to the Father, and let him stay there ;' and the false prophet saith, 'He is never to come back again. Therefore govern the earth, oh ye kings and people, how best ye may: take your will, and your way with it; for he is above ineddling in such low and trifling concerns.' And so, with full swing, they proceed to set it in order, according to the common sense of man, casting down and building up, as seemeth best to the natural understanding of the people; and when their proud working is at its height, and the Tower of Babel reared up to heaven's gate, and the blaspheming people ready to shout over the top-stone of it, suddenly the Creator breaks in upon them with his voice; he shoutetń like a giant refreshed with wine ; he scattereth them in the proud devices of their hearts; he driveth back the waters of their folly into their fearful hearts, and they are confounded : they stagger like men drunk; they reel to and fro, they are at their wit's end ; they would fight, but they dare not, their hands find not their strength; they would blaspheme against the heavens, but their tongue cleaveth to the roof of their mouth : the voice, the awful voice, of the Creator, bindeth them in fetters of icy coldness : fear and the snare and the pit takes hold of thee, oh thou inhabitant of the earth. Oh the breaking of the silence ; oh the lifting up of the voice, as when a lion roareth; oh the seven thunders uttering their voices. All this shall God have to do, in order to get an ear for the words which he is about to speak; as on the day when he came down on Sinai, to enter into covenant with the children of Israel; so in this day, when he openeth his last overtures of salvation. He shall get an ear; he will have it : business shall stand still, and bustle shall cease, and armies on the edge of battle shall drop their weapons, and ships upon the occan stay their course, to hear ; for the Lord hath a last word with his creatures, and he will be heard by every one of them : the ear of the deaf shall be open to hear, and the eyes of the blind to behold; yea, disease and death shall stand still, and the raging beast from the bottomless pit, the red dragon, shall crouch back into his den, for God is risen up out
VOL. VI.-NO. II.