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of Christ to the present time, by which, if there be any truth in history, or in that which has come to pass before our eyes, it appears, beyond contradiction, that the following great and important events have been foretold near 2000 years; and either since fulfilled, or are fulfilling at this moment; namely,
1. That, notwithstanding the opposition and dreadful persecutions of the heathen world, the church of Christ should propagate its doctrines for a time, and " go forth conquering, and to conquer*."
2. That, after this, certain great apostacies from the church of Christ itself should rise in the world, which should corrupt, weaken, and depress that church 1260 years.
3. That, during the predominancy of those apostacies, the truth of the Old and New Testaments, or the "two witnesses of God," on which the church was founded, should have little weight or influence on the morals and conduct of mankind, and should remain in that inert and obscure condition, during that period. of 1260 years.
4. That, notwithstanding the long continuance and superior agency and influence of those apostacies, and of the languishing state of the Gospel of Christ, it should be supported by the power and providence of God, and should not utterly be lost in the world§.
5. That, towards the latter end of the 1260
*Rev. vi. throughout.
Ibid ver. 3.
+ Rev. xi. 2
§ Ibid. ver. 5, 6,
years, a most depraved, formidable, and destructive despotism should "ascend" out of one particular nation, more consummately wicked than any of the preceding enemies of Christianity.
6. That this political monster should, within its own jurisdiction, prohibit, and utterly abolish all the sacred principles and precepts recommended to the obedience and observation of mankind by the two Testaments, those "two witnesses of God."
7. That this abolition of the Christian religion should continue exactly three years and an half, and no longer*.
8. That at the end of three years and an half, all restraint on the profession, propagation, and practice of the revealed word of God should be taken off, and an universal toleration of religious opinion be allowed to the peoplet.
Such are the general truths foretold in the latter end of the first century; and I have stated the events which clearly correspond with, confirm, and, with wonderful accuracy, fulfil them events so extremely improbable, new, and extraordinary, that, had they been literally predicted and explained, and thereby clearly understood at the time, the human understanding would have rejected them, as fabulous impossibilities. They are events, therefore, which nothing but omniscience could foresee,
Ibid. ver. 9, 10.
† Rev. xi. 11.
nothing but infinite power could bring to pass, nor any thing short of a God of incomprehensible wisdom and perfection could foretel. Consequently they are events which demonstrate beyond the reach of all rational doubt, THE ETERNAL EXISTENCE OF ONE SUPREME God, THE GREAT I AM, who created, sustains, and governs the world; and who, in his boundless mercy, and according to his own divine pleasure, has offered the means of salvation to fallen man, through his blessed Son, and the truths of his divine will revealed by his "two witnesses," the Old and the New Testaments.
I have thus submitted to the candid consideration of the reader, an exposition of the first eleven verses of the eleventh chapter of the Revelation, explaining each important type and trope into its natural and literal sense, and refering it to its proper event. In an explication of the prophecies, a right understanding of the figurative expressions is the principal clue to the events intended to be marked out by them; and the events actually come to pass are as necessary to a perfect understanding of the sense of the relative types. If the event be not come to pass, it follows, that all is darkness and uncertainty. This is the case in respect to the remainder of this chapter. It points to future events, in the unfolding of which there being nothing to guide us, they are only known to Him, with whom "one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one
day* ;" and whose omniscience extends to all things past, present, and to come. Yet a few humble and general conjectures on the subsequent verses, will not, I trust, be deemed presumptuous, as they may throw a light upon the main subject.
Ver. 12." And they (the two witnesses) "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."
The prophet, having now foretold, in this and former visions, the opposition and persecutions of Pagan Rome, the Mohamedan and Papal apostacies, and revolutionary France, with the several periods during which the persecutions should continue (persecutions which, from the tenour of the subsequent part of the Revelation, are all that the true church of Christ is to suffer); proceeds briefly to allude to her complete reformation and final redemption in the kingdom of Christ; of which he treats at large in the fourteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth chapters. Here he figuratively represents God, who had thus delivered the church from her enemies, as inviting her to "come up to heavent;" that is, to reform her life and manners, by doubling her diligence in searching the Scriptures, for the plain and true
* St. Pet. iii. 6.
Rev. xviii. 4.
meaning of his holy word, by avoiding all mystical constructions, and false doctrines with which she had been seduced and bewildered; and all quarrel and contention respecting them: on the contrary, to unite with charity and brotherly kindness, in one simple, pure, and practical system of virtue, piety, and holiness, founded on the revealed will of God; that so she may be prepared to enter into the kingdom of Christ, her Redeemer: a kingdom which was to be set up and established by God himself, "an everlasting kingdom," and to stand for ever*.'
I have been led to put this construction upon the text, by considering, that the word "heaven," not only in the common acceptation, but in many parts of Scripture, is used to denote the state or mansions of the blessed, in the kingdom of Christ †. And here we are told, that "a great voice," the voice of God himself, who shall set up this kingdom," calls upon the "two witnesses," or the church, to ascend up to heaven; and it is said that it shall ascend accordingly; that is, it shall be prepared, purified, and reformed, both in doctrine and practice; or, as the prophet describes it in another place ‡, "make herself ready," to enter the kingdom of Christ upon earth. But when this blessed reformation of the church is to be fully completed, when she shall entirely have laid aside Mohamedan sensuality, and
* Daniel, ii. 44. vii. 27. † St. Matt. v. 12. viii. 11. xyiii. 1. Rev. xix. 11.