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1. Attempt to show what the Bible calls the two witnesses.
II. What we may understand by their being clothed in sackcloth.
III. Their history, prophecy, and time specified.
1. What is the Bible account of the two witnesses ? And, first, What is a witness ? I answer, A witness is a person, or legal instrument, testifying to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, on matters of fact which are supposed to be known no way but through testimony, either oral or written. Oral testimony is given by a person who is sworn to tell the whole truth, as above, and relate what he actually knows, by the medium of his own senses, and no more nor less. The apostles were such witnesses; for they testified to the things which Christ did in public. And when Judas fell by transgreg. sion, Peter informed his brethren that one must be chosen, “ of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning at the baptism of John, unto the same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection." But these could not be the two witnesses ;" for here were twelve. But we learn by this history what a witness must be. He must go in and out; he must know by actual observation, or he could not testify any thing concerning Christ. That was the manner of oral testimony in that day, and so it is at the present. This, then, precludes the idea at once of any men, or set of men, being Christ's witnesses at the present day, or since the days of the apostles. But, says the objector, does not the word of God call all Christians witnesses for Christ? I do not know of any scripture where Christians are called witnesses, except the prophets and apostles, or inspired writers, that is, concerning Christ. They may witness a good profession, or they may witness for themselves, that they believe in Christ or his word; but further they cannot go. They are not witness either to the person of Christ, to his works, death, miracles, or resurrection and ascension; and if there was no other testimony but oral, we should be no better off than the darkest Hindoo or most ignorant Hottentot. But, thanks be to God, he has not left us without a wit ness. There is a better testimony than all Christendom, which is written; and it is this which I hold in my hand; it is the word of God. It tells the truth; " for not one jot or tittle of this word shall fail.” It tells the whole truth, 6 that the man of God may be perfectly furnished to every good work." It tells nothing but the truth; for it is the truth indited by him who cannot lie.
You are well aware, my friends, that written testimony is considered in all courts, under all laws, to be stronger than any oral testimony whatever. For instance, take the last will and testament of any man; if it was written or indited by himself, signed by his own hand, sealed with his own scal, in presence of witnesses chosen by himself, and ratified by his death, no oral testimony can be brought against it; unless the instrument itself shows some con. tradiction or discrepancy, it cannot be destroyed. So it is with these two testaments, revealed, indited, confirmed witnessed, and ratified, by the death of the testator, the Lord Jesus Christ. And although wicked men and devils have endeavored to show some contradiction or dis crepancy in its testimony, it has stood the shock of ages, the wreck of kingdoms, and will stand when these heavens and this earth shall pass away with a great noise and the elements melt with fervent heat; for by this word we must all be judged; by these witnesses we shall be justified or condemned. Christ says, “ Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life ; and they are they which testify of me." The angel tells John, in the next verse following our text, that the two witnesses are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth." The angel, in bis allusion to the two olive trees, quotes the prophet Zechariah, iv. 3, “ And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof." Here the olive trees are used in a figurative sense, and properly denote the “sons of oil,” or the two cherubims which stood over the ark, and spread their wings over the mercy seat. The wings of the cherubims stretched from either side of the house to the centre over the mercy seat, and their faces turned inwards down upon the mercy seat, and the glory of the God of Israel was above the cherubims. These cherubims are a lively type of the Old and New Testament. The signification of cherub is “fulness of knowledge;" so is the word of God, " that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished, perfect in every good work.” They have the whole truth, all we can know about Jesus Christ in this state. They stand on either hand of Christ, one before he came in the flesh, pointing to a Messiah to come, by all its types and shadows; and like the cherub whose wings touched the outer wall of the room and reached to the centre over the mercy seat, so did the Old Testament reach from the creation of the world down to John's preaching in the wilderness, and like the cherub looking down on the mercy seat, it testified of the Messiah. The other cherubim's wings reached from the centre over the mercy seat, and touched the other wall of the room, while his face was turned back upon the mercy seat. So does the New Testament begin at the preaching of John, and reveals all that is necessary for us to know, down to the end of the world. And all the ordinances of the New Testament house look back to the sufferings, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and are to continue until his second coming and end of the world. These cherubims were made of olive trees, and overlaid with pure gold, 1 Kings vi. 23-28. Again: the angel tells Zechariah what the two olive trees are, Zech. iv. 4-6, “So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord ?" (the two olive trees.) 's Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubabel, &c. Here we are plainly told that the two olive trees are the word of the Lord, and the angel tells John, Rev. xi. 4, that “the two witnesses are the two olive trees and the two candlesticks." As candlesticks are the means of light, so is the word of God. Candlesticks are used in Scripture in the same sense as lamps. And David says, “Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Therefore 1 humbly believe that I have fairly and conclusively proved
that the two witnesses are the Old and New Testament And I will,
II. Show what we may understand by the two wit. nesses being clothed in sackcloth.
Sackcloth denotes a state of darkness, as in Rev. vi. 12, " The sun became black as sackcloth of hair;" that is, the sun became dark, invisible, and did not give its light. Just so during the dark ages of papal rule, the word of God was darkened by monkish superstition, bigotry, and ignorance in its sacred principles. It did not give its true light, because the laws, doctrines, and ordinances were changed by the laws of the Latin church; its doctrine was perverted by the introduction of the doce trine of devils and the anti-Christian abominations: its ordinances were so altered as to suit the convenience of carnal men; and it was obscured, because the common people were forbidden to read it, or even to have it in their houses, by the Papal authority. It was hid from the world in a great measure; for the Papal beast, the church of Rome, forbade its translation into any language except the Greek and Latin, which languages ceased to be spoken in the Roman government in the middle of the sixth century. Sackcloth denotes great calamities and troubles, as in the days of Hezekiah, 2 Kings, xix. 1, 2, “ When king Hezekiah heard the threatenings of the king of Assyria,) he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth ;" also, the Ninevites put on sackcloth at the preaching of Jonah, when their city was threatened with a final overthrow. So with the two witnesses ; while they were clothed in sackcloth, it was a time of great calamity and trouble to the people of God; persecution raged without any mitigation in some or all parts of the Roman government, and the church of God, which was fed and nourished by the “two witnesses,” during her residence in the wilderness, was threatened with a final destruction by the Papal armies, the inquisition, and every other means that could be devised by wicked men or devils. But God has preserved his word, through all the persecutions of the Roman power. I shall now,
IIl. Show their history, prophecy, and time specified in the text.
1st. Their history, contained in Rev. xi. 5—13, inclusive. Let me read and explain. 5th verse, “ 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." If any man shall add or take away from the book or revelation of God, “God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city ;” and “God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.” This verse has been verified in our day in the history of deistical France. The rulers of France, in the revolution, proclaimed a war of extermination against the fishermen's Bible, as they were pleased to term it; and within six years they exterminated themselves, the republic, and almost their principles. The kingdom was deluged in blood ; anarchy was the law of the land ; and the judgments denounced by this word were literally accomplished, so that deists themselves stood appalled at the horror and confusion their own principles had brought upon their heavendaring crimes.
6th verse, “ These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy.” Allusion is here had to “ the three years and a half,” in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up, Luke iv. 25, which is the same time the witnesses prophesy clothed in sackcloth, 1260 days, forty-two months, thirty days to a month; that being common time, and this prophetic. The Scriptures are the means which God has made use of to convert sinners from error to truth, from sin to righteousness, and to convey the knowledge of grace, (which in this verse is compared to rain,) to a lost and perishing world. During the reign of anti-Christ, 1260 years, the church in the wilderness, and the two witnesses clothed in sackcloth the same 1260 years, the doctrine of grace in Jesus Christ was but partially taught. Much of the professedly Christian world have been taught that doing penance, purchasing indulgences, obeying the holy Catholic church, or performing some outward act for pardon, would answer them heaven and happiness. But when the Scriptures began to be read and understood, and where the doctrine of grace in