« PreviousContinue »
of his temple to have a last word with men ; and let all the earth keep silence before him. And what are the words whose voice striketh dumb the voice of the multitudinous world? “ Fear God, and give glory to him ; for the hour of his judgment is come; and worship him that made heaven and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” (Rev. xiv. 7). You will
What so terrible in these words? The terror is not in the words, but in the tone and temper they are uttered in. They are peremptory, they take no refusal: either gird and obey, or gird and fight against them. It is the last sunnions. The knell is rung. The weird of the world is worded. And man must obey or perish, throw all aside and bide in the dust, abase pride, and enter into the cleft rock of mercy, or perish. That is the terror of it. “It bideth no refusal, it brooketh no delay. There is no doubting of it, no disbelieving of it any more. Arise, obey, or to perdition. To be taken thus aback is what they abide not. To be thus spoken to without any speculation, straight-forward obedience, without parley or condition, without provision or refuge of any sort, to bow the knee and submit to Jesus, to confess to him,- this is the trial of men. It is easy, you will say. The event proveth whether it be easy or no; for after the probation of days is run out, the time needful for dispatching the messengers and delivering the message of the king, and permitting every one to send up his submission, behold they are meditating war against heaven, and mustering their hosts to the battle: they have sought to hell for counsel against heaven, and hell hath undertaken their cause; and the beast from the bottomless pit cometh up, enveloped in smoke, and attended by legions of the locusts of hell, whose spawn when they have married the daughters of men, are horsemen armed with fire and brimstone and smoke, mighty men, men of renown. He cometh up, and the false prophet introduceth him as Lucifer, the son of the morning, the god of this nether world, and the kings of the earth come trooping to his hand; and they set up an image of him to worship, and they quicken it with fire stolen from the heavens, and they prepare to do battle for its honour, against the God of heaven and his Christ, against the Lamb and those that are with him. Such is the consummation of the witnessings of God; such the fruit of the Gospel upon the earth ; such the fell doings of Satan, the triumph of his delusions and deceptions over the sons of men ; such is the acceptation which these words spoken by the witnesses receive. The witnesses
" Fear God;” men reply, 'We will fear no god but the god of reason, whose image is ever before us.' The witnesses say, “ Give glory to God;” men reply, We will give glory to the work of our own hands, and behold, here it is in all its glory.' The witnesses say, “. For the hour of his judgment is
men say, ' The hour of his casting out of the earth is come.' The witnesses say,
" Fear him who inade heaven and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters; men reply, 'We will worship the beast, and him only will we serve.'
But though this be the temper in which the ruling powers of the church and world shall receive the message of salvation, the Lord's end of grace and mercy shall not be defeated, but shall accomplish itself in the gathering of the remnant out of Babylon, which shall overflow with righteousness. The glad sound shall visit every land, and great shall be the gathering of the people unto the standard which the Spirit of the Lord shall
up against the enemy, who cometh in like a flood. Reuben, who was the first-born, marched under a banner bearing the figure of a man; and the banner which our Reuben, the excellence of dignity and the excellence of power, shall lift up, is the man-child, his body, the church, come unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. To this shall the Gentiles seek and his rest shall be glory. God shall have the first word with the nations, and Antichrist shall come after; and the question shall be, Which of the two will you have to rule over you, my son, whose form and measure of blessing you have seen in the witnesses, or the old serpent the devil, whose form and measure of deceiving ye have seen in the beast and the false prophet. Therefore are they called witnesses, because in their mouths and in their works Gód taketh a witness of every man on the face of the earth, before he cometh to judgment. The same generation which heareth and seeth their testimony for God in the Spirit, shall see and hear the testimony of Antichrist for the glory of flesh; and when each hath set forth his cause, Christ in the manchild, and Satan in the beast, the judgment shall sit and the books shall be opened. And the question shall be to every man in the world, “When these came amongst you naked and hungry, when they were cast into prison for my name's sake, and were sick unto death for the afflictions of the world, did you come to their help and succour? Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these, ye did it also unto me. The judgment shall be a real transaction for which great and solemn preparation is made over the wide world, and a true summons lodged in every house and in every heart. No one shall be able to say, I knew not of it, I understood not that it was so near.
Nor shall any one be able to say, “My case was helpless and hopeless; it hath overtaken me like blind fate, God is not righteous :' for verily these witnesses with the everlasting Gospel and with the little book of prophecy shall come to every one, and deal with him concerning his soul. The witness shall not be taken in a corner, because the judgment is not to be done in a corner.
Solemn and sublime shall be the coming on of judgment in the awful
march of these witnesses over the whole earth. Surely as it was in Egypt's evil day, that boon nature turned bitter at the bidding of Moses, and before Samaria's fall, that the heavens withheld both rain and dew at Elijah's prayer, so shall it be in the days of the witnesses, that the elements shall give testimony on whose side the truth is: the air we breathe, the water we drink, the green herb, the fruit trees, and the cattle, we feed on, shall all give witness unto the God whom the witnesses preach. They preach Him, the God " who made the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the fountains of earth," and the heavens by withholding their rain and dew, the earth by refusing her fruits, the sea by ceasing from her roaring, and anon bursting forth with overflowings, and the fountains of water by staying their streams and turning into blood, all at the bidding of the witnesses, shall seal to the truth of the doctrine which the witnesses preach, ever saying, Fear God our Maker; worship Him, O ye sons of men.
My heart longeth to see the fulfilment of all these words in which the Lord hath made me to believe. And I would not spare the time for recording these things, but devote it in prayer unto my God, were it not for the hope that the truth may hereby visit many souls, and kindle prayer upon the altar of many hearts. Oh, my brethren, pray without ceasing, for God will speedily avenge his own elect, though he bear long with them. Cease not to cry that God would set these-watchmen upon the walls of Zion who will not hold their peace, who shall see eye to eye, and sing together with their voice in joy because our redemption draweth nigh. Oh cry out for it, ye children of Zion; give the Lord no rest till he fulfil it; for great, great shall be the harvest of souls in that day. It shall be greater than there shall be room to hold them, and Zion shall enlarge the curtains of her tents, and lengthen her cords and strengthen her stakes. The beast shall be enraged because of the multitude which no man can number, and he shall raise against them fierce persecutions, in the midst of which they shall wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. These converts shall be as the sand of the sea for multitude. They are the harvest, and the witnesses are the sowers of the barvest; and the reapers also ; for the sower and the reaper shall rejoice together. They are the guests gathered from the hedges and the high ways, and the witnesses are the servants, more than the first, who go forth to bid them to the marriage supper
of the Lamb. But the witnesses who stand faithful and true, and are not subverted by the wiles of the dragon who with his tail doth draw down the third part of the stars of heaven, shall be of the bride prepared with robes of righteousness to meet her bridegroom. And among those whom they call, some shall
be wise to redeem their time, and shall fill their vessels with the oil of the Spirit, understanding what the mind of the Lord is, and these shall enter in along with the bride and the bridegroom; but others who were in like manner called and entreated, for we are called with one hope of our calling, shall not prepare themselves, thinking to do it at the time, but they shall not be permitted, and shall be cast back upon the spears and swords of Antichrist, to witness by blood and to be purified in the fires of judgment. To whose help when they cry from the jaws of the lion and the horns of the unicorn, Christ shall come riding on his cherubim, and shall draw them out of many waters. The Lamb and his host of faithful called and chosen ones, who heretofore stood
upon the mount Zion, shall come forth from heaven in battle array against the beast and the false prophet, the kings of the earth and their armies, and then shall he give unto every man according to his deeds: to the merciful he will shew himself merciful, to the upright man he will shew himself upright, to the pure he will shew himself pure, and to the froward he will shew himself froward.
Such is the mystery of the witnesses, as it is figured forth in the angel flying through the midst of heaven to preach the everlasting Gospel unto all nations upon the earth ; but this is only one-third part of their testimony, one note of the song which they sing, the note of mercy. There are two other parts of their message, which are very heavy.
The next concerneth Babylon, the mother of harlots, and of the abominations of the earth, the false church which falling from her heavenly glory and liberty buildeth upon the earth a house of bondage like Egypt and Assyria, for the people of the Lord, and hath the brazen forehead to call it the city of our God. And the
deluded votaries will not believe but that it is so. They will call Babylon Zion, because she was Zion once. They have lost their discrimination, and do think that because they see the priest, and hear the sound of the service, and behold the rich and costly stones of the temple, it is the worship of God in spirit and in truth which therein proceedeth, and so being wedded to their Sabbaths, and their new moons, and their appointed feasts, which God abhorreth, and having forgotten the Lord of the temple, and the Head of the ordinance, they are willing to sink with her, instead of fleeing out of her, and falling away to the Chaldeans, the men skilled in the times and seasons, who have prognosticated her downfall, and are come up against her. They will not go forth of her, they will not allow their captivity; they will not hear of it; and so are they coming to be like the evil figs which cannot be eaten, they are so evil. But as many as will look upon the captive estate of Zion, and see that she is in Babylonish
bondage, and enter into her captivity, and weep over it, and sigh and cry over it, these shall be, like the first ripe figs, firstfruits unto God and the Lamb. But the children of my people are blind, they know not the times, they hear not the voice of the Lord, nor when they hear do they know it, and destruction come upon them unawares from the presence of the Lord. Yet not so sudden but that they shall have a warning, yea and an invitation to the feast, which if they reject, turning, one to his farm, and another to his merchandize, and another to his cieled house, and newly-wedded wife, behold the king shall send forth his armies and destroy them and their wicked city together. “ And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city; because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication ” (Rev. xiv. 8).
This is the second chord of the prophetic harp which the witnesses strike. The first is the Gospel of salvation to every man, through the fear and the worship of the living and true God; the second is the note of downfal to Babylon, that great city which hath corrupted the whole earth with her false religion, her bondage, her fornication. For the world is lying captive in her arms, deceived and seduced by her falsehoods, expecting from her that redemption and glory, which is not to be obtained but by fleeing out of her, and fighting mightily against her, doubling unto her double for all her sins. Blessed is he that afflicteth her as she hath afflicted us, yea happy surely shall he be who taketh her little ones and dasheth them against the rock. If you go to speak to men labouring under the spell of a sorcerer, you must first disenchant them, and having gained their reasonable ear, deliver into it the message of their God. So go the witnesses forth with the word of Babylon's downfal, to the end they may reach the hearts of those whom she hath fattened for the slaughter. Babylon in Christendom, in all its parts, and under all its denominations of Papal, and Protestant, and Dissenter, inasmuch as these are but prisons of the truth of God, houses of bondage to his people. But inasmuch as they are giving birth to a new zeal, a principle of reform, a spirit of change called improvement, new schemes, new ends, and new confederacies, societies of all sorts, speculations of change, and reasonings infinite towards anoiher and improved state of the Christian church, behold it is the germ of Antichrist, the buddings and branchings of infidelity in the church, the hatching of the fiery flying serpent, which proceedeth from the egg of the cockatrice. For I hold it as a simple axiom, that every change in the civil and ecclesiastical state of Christendom, is a change for the worse, however much it may pretend to the contrary. Those who advocate it are abettors of the beast, those who oppose it are abettors of Babylon, let them fight it out; let the