« PreviousContinue »
and an half. Now as all these times exactly agree, it may be considered safe to conclude that the time that the Gentiles were to tread the holy city under foot, the time of the two witnesses prophecying in sackcloth, the time of their dead bodies lying in the street of the great City, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, and not permitted to be put in graves and the time of the woman in the wilderness are all one and the same time, which is one thousand two hundred and sixty years. The 7th verse of the 11. Chapter posibly may be so understood as to render those times more confused. It is there said. "And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and shall kill them". If we understand their finishing their testimony to signify their having completed the time of their prophecying in sackcloth, it will suppose that this time closes when we have supposed it begins. But it is not necessary to understand the 7th verse in this way, but that these two witnesses have, in the face of the world, declared their testimony, which provokes the beast to make war against them. They being overcome by the beast and killed, signifies the obscurity into which the spirit of the law and the spirit of prophecy were driven by the doctrine of antichrist. Prophecying was declared to be at an end and the spirit of the law which is life was converted into death. The scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, which without the spirit of the law and the spirit of prophecy are a dead letter, are the two bodies of the two witnesses which are not put in graves, that is, the antichristian church has kept the letter of these Testaments, but have denied the spirit of them. And this is what is meant by their prophecying cloathed with sackcloth; for this dead letter remaining on them, obscures their light. The powers ascribed to the two witnesses in the 5th and 6th verses are those which were exercised by Moses and Elias or Elijah. "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." The wonders wrought by Moses in the land of Egypt and those wrought by the Prophet Elijah are remarkably similar to those above quoted. St. James says chap. v. 17, "Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it rained not on the earth by
the space of three years and six months." It is worthy of notice that the time spoken of here should be the same as in Revela, tions before noticed. Though it seems enough has been said to satisfy the mind that we are right in our opinion of the two witnesses, yet it may be edifying to notice some more divine pictures in this mystery. The particulars related in 1 Kings xvii. are worthy of notice. It seems that Elijah banished himself from the presence of Ahab, because he had shut heaven that neither dew nor rain should come upon the earth, for which Ahab was displeased with him.
The reign of Ahab may represent the reign of the beast in Revelations, the drought in the land of Israel for the space of three years and six months, exactly suits to the time of antichrist's reign described in Revelations; and the exilement of the Prophet may signify the death of the two witnesses as we have before seen. The poor distressed widow to whom the Lord sent the Prophet, is a just figure of the woman in the 12th of Rev. who fled into the wilderness. Her son may signify Christ. His sickness which was so sore that no breath was left in him, may represent the lifeless state in which Christ has appeared through the reign of antichrist. His being restored to life and to his mother by the Prophet, represents the bringing forth of Christ in the spirit of life and glory, by the testimony of the Prophets, to the everlasting joy of Zion, who will then say of the spirit of prophecy, as the rejoicing mother said to Elijah, "Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth." Rev. xi. 11, 12, "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. 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."
Perhaps the time of the fulfilment of this scripture is in the present day; tho' I think it immaterial as to fixing the precise time of the beginning of the three days and an half. The matter of fact is now very evident, that those Scriptures which according as antichrist has explained them, have been a dead letter and a ministration of death, are now, and have been for some time, rising by the spirit of God and manifesting the signs of life. As fast as this work advances, the enemies of the ministrations of life are filled with fear. And if we may judge from the exertions which are made, it is by no means improper to say
that their fear is GREAT. In obedience to a call from heaven, these two witnesses, being quickened by the spirit of life from God, ascend up to heaven in a cloud, in sight of their enemies. The CLOUD in which these two annointed ones ascend up to heaven, is the CLOUD OF WITNESSES which come forth to convince mankind of the truth of the ministration of life. The heaven to which they ascend is the sublime regions of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the power of his glory, by which the beast, or man of sin is to be consumed, as with the breath of his mouth, and the brightness of his coming.
See the 7th verse of the 10th of Rev. " But in the days of the voice of the seventh Angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God shall be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets." The sounding of the seventh Angel, succeeds the ascension of the two witnesses." See chap. xi. 15, "And the seventh Angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever." This scene opens the mysteries of the prophets and of them who have spoken of the glory of the redeemer, which our eyes long to see, even the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, that he may reign for ever and ever.
For the encouragement of the few, who appear like a little cloud, in the testimony of the ministration of life, proclaiming; with great voices in heaven, that the kingdom of this world belong to Christ Jesus, let them remember the sudden increase of the type. See 1 Kings xviii. 44 "And it came to pass, at the seventh time, that he said, behold there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand." 45, " And it came to pass, in the mean while, that the heavens were black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain."
The universal reign of Christ Jesus, brought about and effected through the instrumentality of the two witnesses as has been illustrated, very beautifully accords with the words of the blessed Saviour, recorded in Mat. xxii. 37-40, "Jesus said unto him, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
When the true spirit of the law and the prophets, as by Christ himself explained, shall have fully and completely quickened the
scriptures to the understanding of Zion's watchmen, then they will see eye to eye, and they will be the ministers of PEACE. No wrath nor condemnation will then be proclaimed for Gospel. She who hath been persecuted will come up from the willerness, perfumed with the frankincense of those merchants who deal in the merchandize and revenue of the wisdom of God. He that testifieth these things, saith, surely I come quickly : Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus."
THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD.
THE subject of the resurrection of the dead requires that we investigate it with great caution. The safest method is to keep close to the divine word, speculative opinions being of no profit. The mode in which the blessed Saviour managed an argument on this subject, with the Sadducees, who denied the resurrection, may be revived as our example, as he confined himself to the scriptures and the power of God. His argument being sufficient co confound and put those learned opponents to silence, may by he blessing of God, give the candid inquirer divine light on the subject.
The Sadducees were disposed to rest the argument on the Scriptures, and stated a case for Christ to manage agreeably to what Moses had commanded. The case they stated was of seven brethren, who, agreeably to what Moses commanded, married one woman. Their question was, whose wife this woman should be in the resurrection? The Saviour did not endeavour to draw the minds of his opponents from the Scriptures, out answers them as follows. See St. Mat. xxii. 29-32, “Jesus answered and said unto them, ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels of God in heaven. But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, sayng, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the livEng." The force of this argument, which completely silenced he Sadducees, is this, 1st. You acknowledge that God spake to Moses, and by Moses to the people. 2d. Notwithstanding you are believers in Moses by profession, you are ignorant of the sentiments found in his writings, and it would even seem that
you never read Moses so as to know whether he supported the doctrine of the resurrection or not. 3d. When God spake to Moses, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, can you reasonably suppose that there were not, at that time, such beings of God, as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? You will acknowledge that it is self-evident fact, that God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.
We here see that to allow the above argument to be good, we must allow Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were alive unto God, at the time when God said to Moses, I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. And also we must allow that in granting this fact, we consent to the doctrine of the resurrection as taught by Christ himself.
In the scripture where St. Luke mentions this dispute between Christ and the Sadducees, Christ concludes his answer by saying, "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living, FOR ALL LIVE UNTO HIM." In this addition to the text quoted from Matthew, there is no other SENTIMENT expressed than what is expressed without it; it is however, more definite in the idea, that as it is with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in respect to the resurrection, so it is with all mankind. Taught of Jesus, St. Paul corroborates the above sentiment in a number of passages. See Rom. xiv. 7, 8, 9, « For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord; whether we live, therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living." It may be well to notice here, that the risen Saviour is Lord of those who are dead, as it respects this animal life, but that those who are thus dead, live unto God, in the sense which Christ argued the resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is a fact on which the truth of the Gospel, as preached by Christ and his Apostles, as also by the Prophets, evidently rests.
In due season Christ foretold his death and resurrection to his twelve disciples, so that when those things should take place, they might be the more prepared to believe and be confirmed in them. See Mat. xx., 17, 18, 19, " And Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him; and the