« PreviousContinue »
century Berengarius of Tours opposed the doctrines of the Romish church, and was charged by its adherents with having corrupted almost all the French, Italians, and English-that early in the twelvth, namely about the year 1110, Peter of Bruis, and after him Henry, taught the same doctrines, for which the first was burnt, and the other died in prison—that in the fourth canon of the Council of Tours, held in the year 1163, it is said, " In the country about Thoulouse there sprang up long ago a dampable heresy, which hy little and little, like a canker, spreading itself to the neighbouring places in Gascoin, hath already infected many other provinces”-that between 1137 and 1180, Languedoc was so full of the disciples of Peter of Bruis, and Henry, that the Archbishop Narbonne, writing to Louis VII. king of France, complains as follows-“ My Lord the king, We are extremely pressed with many calamities, among which there is one that most of all affects us, which is, that the catholic faith is extremely shaken in this our diocess, and St. Peter's boat is so violently tossed by the waves that it is in great danger of sinking !”
From the whole it appears that in the early ages of the papal apostasy, before the introduction of image-worship, transubstantiation, and other gross departures from the faith, the opposition of the faithful would be less decided than in latter times. Other Christian churches, while they preserved their independency, might not go the same lengths as that of Rome; but neither might they at once separate from it, nor probably be clear of a participation in its corruptions. The opposition to it might be expected also to be chiefly from individuals rather than from churches, and appears
to have been the fact. he famous CLAUDE, Bishop of Turin, in the ninth century, thout he preached the doctrine of Christ in great purity, and boldly pposed almost all the errors of popery : yet does not appear to have so separated from the church of Rome as to form independent churches. The principles however which he taught led to this issue, and were acted upon after his death. His preaching and writings contributed greatly to the spread of true religion in the Valleys of Piedmont.
From the fourth to the tenth century but little is said of the Waldenses in bistory : yet as Reynerius, who wrote about the year 1230, speaks of the Vaudois as a sect of the longest standing ;” and as the Council of Tours about 70 years before this, speaks of the same heresy as having "sprung up long ago;" we may conclude even from the acknowledgments of the adversaries that God was not without bis witnesses in those dark ages, Miz. Ton also in the sonnet before quoted, represents the Vaudois, or people of the Valleys, as having " kept God's truth so pure of old, when all our fathers worshipped stocks and stones." He must therefore have considered them as having preserved the purity of Christianity while our Saxon ancestors were yet heathens. After the tenth century, when iniquity was at the full, the oppos was more decided. For 500 years, during the most murderous wars and persecutions, the Petrobrussians, the Paterines, the Waldenses, the Albigenses, the Lollarils, the Wickliffites, loc., maintained their ground. Nor were they contented to bear witness to the truth in their own countries, but employed missionaries to almost all the nations of Europe ; and this notwithstanding each missionary could expect nothing less then martyrdom for his reward!
Nor were their labours unproductive. The numbers who es. poused their principles in the South of France only were such that a crusade of 500,000 men was sent against them. It was by this army of bloody-minded fanatics that the city of Beziers was taken, and the inhabitants without distinction, men, women, and children, to the number of 60,000, were put to the sword!
THE FIRST GENERAL DESCRIPTION CONTINUED : OF THE SLAUGHTER
AND RESURRECTION OF THE WITNESSES, WITH THE
FALLING OF A TEŅTH PART OF THE CITY,
Chap, xi. 7-14.
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 kill them. 8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. 9 And they of the people, and kindreds, and tongues, and nations, shall see their dead bodies three days and an 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 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.
If the testimony of the witnesses be the same as their prophesy. ing in sackcloth, it must continue through the whole of the 1260 years. But it does not appear that the beast at the termination of that period, will be able to overcome and kill them," seeing he himself will then be slain, and his body given to the burning flame. Several commentators therefore have rendered it, while they shall
perform, or be about to finish their testimony, &c. And with this agrees the account which represents the beast and his party at the time of the slaying of the witnesses as being in the plenitude of
The slaughter of the witnesses would not, according to the usual style of the prophecy, denote their being put to death as individuals, but silenced and crushed as witnessing bodies. It was thus, as we have seen, that the Eastern empire and the Greek church as connected with it, were killed by the Turkish horsemen. Chap. ix. 18.
Of tbe beast that shall kill them no mention is made before ; but we shall hear much of him hereafter.
Suffice it at present to it is the same as Daniel's fourth beast, (Chap. vii,) and as that which is described by John, in Chap. xiii. 1.-8. of this book, as having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns :" it is the Roman empire under its last form, as divided into ten independent kingdoms. There he is described as rising out of the sea ; here, out of the abyss, or bottomless pit : the one, as Mr. FABER remarks, may denote his political, and the other his spiritual origin.
The witnesses were to be killed in the great city, which "spirit. vally is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was cry. cibed." We shall have occasion more than once to nocice an antichristian city as opposed to the church of Christ, just as the great harlot is opposed to the bride the Lamb's wife. It will be proper therefore to fix the meaning at the outset. If the prophecy had related to Old Testament times, when God chose a literal city in which to build his temple, a literal city might have been properly opposed to it. When Zion was his dwellingplace, Babylon was its adversary. But as the true church and the gospel is not confined to place, neither is the false church. The New Testament Zion does not consist of material buildings, but is a community scattered among the nations ; and such is the New Testament Babylon. The "great city” therefore means Rome, not in respect of its buildings, nor the inhabitants within its walls, por as a political empire, the symbol of which is the beast; but as the head of the antichristian community. This city, or
community of nations under one ecclesiastical head, was a Sodom for its filthiness, an Egypt for its idolatry and persecution, and a Jerusalem for its malignant hatred of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The dead bodies of the witnesses were to lie in the street of the great city unburied: that is, being silenced and crushed throughout Christendom, they would for a time be treated with the utmost indignity and reproach, as those are who are denied the ordinary decencies of burial. Nor would these indignities bé inflicted by the highest orders only ; but“ peoples, and kindrede, and tongues, and nations," that is, the body of the inhabitants of Christendom, would take a part in them. While insulting the witnesses, they would make mérry on their own account, as being no longer tormented with their testimony.
Such is the description given of the witnesses, and of the treatment which they would receive, both from the ruling powers and the common people. The question is, What are the facts which correspond with it? It is thought by some that both the slaughter and the resurrection of the witnesses are yet to be fulfilled. If so, it is vain to look for corresponding facts in past events. This was the opinion of Bishop Newton, of Dr. Gill, and of other exposi. tors of note. I cannot but consider this as a mistake. lo the Bishop it appears to have been founded on the supposition of the time of the dead that they should be judged, spoken of in ver. 18. referring to the last judgment, or “the consummation of all things ;" but wbich manifestly refers to the avenging of the martyrs by the judgments to be inflicted on the papal power, under the seven vials, antecedent to the Millennium. (Compare Chap. xi. 18, 19. with Chap. xvi. 12-21.) Dr. Gill speaks of the war by wbich the witnesses are slain as being " the last war of the beast:" * but the last war of the beast is that in which he and the false prophet will be taken ; and in which the followers of Christ, instead of being killed, shall be victorious over their enemies. Chap. xix. 20. It is remarkable too, that both the slaughter and resurrection of the witnesses, together with the falling of a tenth
* On Chap. xi 8.
+ See President Edward's on Agreement in Extraordinary Prayer, Part III. p. 100.