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of September, was employed by the revolutionary committee, municipalities, and atheistical priests throughout the republic, in seizing upon, imprisoning, and putting these martyrs to the most cruel deaths; and in transporting the small remainder to foreign parts. Nor was this horrid business accomplished till the latter end of September 1792. From that epoch to the latter end of March 1796, no trace of religion was to be found in Paris. The priests were no more. The churches were converted into places of public festivity and amusement. To them, and the abandoned theatres, the citizens of Paris resorted to hear the name of the most high God profaned; his existence ridiculed, nay denied; and his blessed Son proclaimed and condemned as the most infamous impostor. Thus the essential truths of the two Testaments are said by the prophet to be “killed," or "lie dead" in the "great city;" as that language is called a dead language, when it is no more used to convey our ideas.
Nor are the reasons for fixing the time of the revival of religion in Paris, at the latter end of March 1796, less evident and conclusive. At this time a decree passed for granting to the people, a free toleration of every kind of religion. All former restraints were repealed, and no person was liable to be put to death, or even molested as a fanatic. A number of the clergy, less obnoxious than others, were permitted to return to Paris; others came forth. from their concealment. Public places of wor
ship were opened, the religious met without fear or hindrance, and the substantial truths of the Gospel of Christ were again published, professed, and taught, in the great city," although too much mixed with the Papal superstition. Here then the " two witnesses of God stood again upon their feet;" that is, revived, and were prepared to propagate the doctrines of one Supreme GOD, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and of his eternal Son, the Redeemer of the world.
With respect to the means by which the "dead bodies" of the two witnesses were to be re-animated, the prophet tells us expressly, that it is by the "Spirit of life from God,' which "entered into them." But it may be asked by the infidel, What is this Spirit of life from God, and how did it enter into the dead bodies? Presumptuous wretch! "Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find. "out the Almighty to perfection? It is as "high as heaven! what canst thou do? deep"er than hell! what canst thou know? The measures thereof are longer than the earth "and broader than the seas*." Who can trace out the ways by which the Spirit of life from God created all things from nothing? or conceive the faintest idea of the extent and immensity of its secret, and never ceasing operations and wonderful effects, in the course of his providence, and government of the uni
* Job, xi. 7.
verse? Who can even form an idea of the soul or spirit of man, by which he wills, acts, and rules that little world, the human system? How much less capable are we of perceiving the nature of the infinite power and perfections of "the Spirit of life from God!" "Who can tell of what materials, and by what means, He created the universe, that grand and beautiful system; containing an endless variety of immense bodies; fixing some, by his almighty fiat, immoveably to a spot in endless space, and commanding others to perform their evolutions in destined periods? Who can number the endless variety of beings, residents of those vast orbs; with their regular subordinations, and respective qualities, relations, faculties, and offices? all forming together one regular chain of existence, from the First Cause, the most high God, down to man one infinite and incomprehensible system of order, beauty, and harmony? Or who can conceive the ceaseless operations and influences, by which the Spirit of life from God" animates and preserves the whole, and the infinite variety of its parts, in the most perfect unison and harmony? Let the infidel tremble at this awful and irrefragable truth, that there is such a spirit, and that millions of objects, which daily offer themselves to the intellectual view of man, clearly demonstrate it, beyond all possibility of rational doubt; besides the conclusive evidence of the revealed word of God. And should that" Spirit of life" withdraw its in
terposition and assistance for a moment, in all probability, the great fabric of nature would tumble into ruin, if not into annihilation.
This "Spirit from God," the prophet, however, affirms, shall" enter into the dead bo"dies of the two witnesses, and they shall stand "upon their feet." The evident sense of which is, that in the course of his divine providence and administration of events, the depressing restraints upon the exercise of the great truths of the two Testaments shall be taken off; and the people again possess full liberty of regulating their moral duties by them. This has literally come to pass; for the republic has been compelled, by an invisible power, amidst the greatest uproar and anarchy in their council, to annul those edicts which abolished the worship of God, and to decree the toleration of all religion. Compelled, I say, because this decree was passed by the revolutionary council, in the very teeth of their great and favourite project, the subversion not only of the Christian religion, but of all religion, and the establishment of atheism in its stead. It was passed when it was impossible for them to act from any pious motive.
One observation more remains to be made on this verse: it farther predicts, that "great fear shall fall upon them," who shall see the witnesses" stand upon their feet." We cannot suppose that this fear was to fall upon the strictly religious: they could now no longer be afraid of being deemed fanatics, and put to death.--
They had great reason to rejoice at the liberty allowed for the public exercise of their religion, and to believe that the truths founded on the wisdom and righteousness of God, would in time triumph over the errors and audacity of atheism. No; it was to fall on them that "saw" the revival of the "dead bodies" of the two witnesses, which they themselves had "killed;" and who, after having lately rejoic-ed at that event, never expected they would rise again on the atheistical apostates, who had denied the existence of that God, by whose Spirit the two witnesses had been revived. It was natural for these abandoned men now to believe, or at least to "fear," that truth, in the field of fair contest, would overcome falsehood. Moreover, they saw, or thought they saw, in the decree of toleration, the hand of an offended God, the exaltation of his divine truths, and the downfall of atheism, and with consciences panic-struck at the attrocity of their principles and actions, they became like the corrupt Felix, who, when he heard of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, trembled*;" or like those demons of Atheism, Voltaire and his colleagues, whose consciences, in the hour of death, tortured their never-dying souls with the dread of never-dying misery.
I have thus briefly brought down from an early period, the prophetic history of the church
Acts. xxiv. 25.