« הקודםהמשך »
When these events shall have taken place, the second 'woe will have passed, and the period approached of the third. The expositions which interpreters have given of this passage
various. Most regard it as long since fulfilled, and in events that have very little correspondence with the symbol. The attempts of Grotius, Dr. Hammond, Eichhorn, and Rosenmuller, to find its counterpart in the events of the Jewish war under Vespasian or Hadrian, are marked, like their construction of preceding symbols, with a violation not only of all likelihood, but of possibility. Most of the events which they allege as fulfilments, were not only many centuries earlier than the second woe, and preceded the revelation itself a considerable period, but are wholly against analogy. According to Eichhorn, the witnesses were antichristian high priests, not believers, and the earthquake a slaughter, not a political revolution ; agents and events which those symbols have no adaptation to represent.
Mr. Brightman's theory that the Scriptures are the witnesses, and the decree of the council of Trent declaring the Vulgate translation authoritative in preference to the Greek and Hebrew originals, their slaughter, is also against analogy, as living beings are symbols of intelligent agents only, never of inanimate objects.
Mr. Daubuz expounds the finishing of their testimony by the witnesses, as merely their testifying, and regards it as denoting as much the commencement of their testimony as its completion. Mr. Mede, Mr. Cuninghame, Mr. Elliott, and others, also interpret it as expressing only an approach towards the completion of their prophecy, not its absolute termination. It is the peculiar office, however, of the verb, to finish, to distinguish the completion of an act from its progress or commencement; as it is the office of the verb, to begin, to express its commencement, in distinction from its progress, or completion. It is applied, accordingly, like that verb, to periods of time, as well as to physical motions and voluntary agencies; and it is as flagrant a violation of its meaning to represent an action or period as finished before it has reached its end, as it is to exhibit a period or agency as commenced before it has begun. It is indeed applied to the several parts of complex actions as they are successively completed, but only in the sense of termination, not of progress. An architect is said to have finished the foundations of a building, its walls, its entrances, its ornaments, but only as they are severally completed. He is not said to have finished the structure, till all its parts are absolutely completed. All those applications of the symbol
therefore, which assume that the witnesses were slain, before their testimony was completed, are in contradiction to the most unequivocal representations of the passage.
Those writers also interpret the death of the witnesses as merely a compulsory silence, on the ground that it is a symbol It is not however a departure from the law of symbolization that death is in this instance used as a representative of itself, inasmuch as there is no condition of life that can properly symbolize it. What reason can be given that the souls of the martyrs of the fifth seal symbolize themselves, except that other beings are inadequate to represent them, and would, if employed, lead to misapprehension ? But finally, as death when exhibited as an agent and a destroyer, as under the fourth seal, symbolizes destroyers of spiritual life, so, if used as a symbol of something besides itself, when exhibited as an effect, it must undoubtedly by the same law of analogy represent a spiritual death, not a constrained silence, to which it sustains no resemblance. To assume therefore that it is here used, like an ordinary symbol, as the representative of an event of some different but resembling species, involves the assumption that the death of the witnesses is a spiritual death, which is to contradict the whole representation of the passage.
Mr. Stuart, assuming that symbols have no meaning but such as is evolved by the laws of philology, maintains that the twelve hundred and sixty days are to be taken as denoting twelve hundred and sixty literal days, not as representatives of twelve hundred and sixty larger periods ; and alleges as proof of it, that designations of time are used in the Scriptures in unsymbolic prophecies and simple historical narratives, to denote lhe periods which they literally express. But that is to assume that symbols have no representative significance, and is to take therefore from the things written in the book their whole prophetic meaning. If symbols are not employed as representatives, what is their office? Why are they used? Why are two of those of the first vision expounded by the Son of God himself as representatives of agents of a different species ; a star of the messenger of a church; a candlestick of a church itself? Why did the interpreting angel assign a representative meaning to the symbols of the seventeenth chapter? And finally, if able to verify his assumption, why did not Mr. Stuart, as his rule of interpretation required, show that agents, like the seven-headed dragon, the ten-horned wild beast, and the locusts and horsemen, appeared in the scenes in Judea to which he refers those
symbols, and acted there the parts ascribed to them in the prophecy?
The assumption that to finish a testimony of twelve hundred and sixty days is simply to testify during those days as they successively pass, led Mr. Daubuz to regard the three and a half days that are to intervene between the slaughter and resurrection of the witnesses, as denoting the same period as the twelve hundred and sixty days. But that is to exhibit them as dead through the whole period, and represent them therefore as wholly precluded from uttering a testimony. It is, moreover, to treat the most important terms of the prophecy as without any demonstrable meaning, and exhibit all attempts at its solution as hope. less and absurd. What better reason can be given for extending three days and a half to twelve hundred and sixty, than for reducing twelve hundred and sixty to three and a half ?
But the events which commentators have alleged as the slaughter and resurrection of the witnesses, have as little coincidence with the conditions of the symbol, as those expositions of its subordinate parts have with the laws of interpretation. They are represented as having been accomplished in the persecution of the Waldenses in the thirteenth century, and of the Bohemians in the fifteenth; in the defeat and depression of the German Protestants in their war with Charles V. ; in the dispersion and return of the Vaudois in the seventeenth century; and in the persecution of the French Protestants at the revocation of the edict of Nantes. But none of those events have any of the requisite correspondences with the symbols. They were all anterior to the close of the twelve hundred and sixty days. If the death be interpreted of the literal slaughter of the people of God, whether as martyrs or soldiers, then they are obviously misapplications, inasmuch as there was no literal resurrection of the slaughtered, and assumption to heaven; as there must be if the death be literal. If the death which the symbol denotes be not literal, but symbolic, then those alleged fulfilments are as obviously misapplications, inasmuch as it is a spiritual death that is the counterpart of a literal, not a constrained silence, as they allege, which bears to it no analogy whatever.
The Waldenses, the Bohemians, the German Protestants, the French Protestants, and the Vaudois, attempted to defend themselves with the sword, and were slain chiefly as soldiers, not as martyrs. It was eminently so with the German Protestants.
. But it is exhibited as the characteristic of the witnesses that they defend themselves only by that which proceeds out of their mouth-their testimony for God. Those therefore who fell of those nations on the battle-field, fell not in the relation of witnesses, but as soldiers simply and subjects of civil rulers.
They who fought against the emperor were not universally dissentients from the apostate church. Maurice himself, the chief author of their final victory, though professedly a Protestant, was obviously prompted supremely, as was Albert of Brandenburg and many others, doubtless, by political motives ; while the soldiers on the side of the Protestants were drawn like other armies promiscuously from the subjects of the princes who united in that war, without consideration whether they were Protestants or Catholics. They cannot in any sense, therefore, be regarded universally as witnesses for God."
There was nothing in either of those alleged accomplishments of the prophecy that answers to a refusal of burial to the slain, to their assumption to heaven, to a great earthquake consequent on that assumption, nor to the fall of a tenth of the city. The secession of England from the dominion of the pope, which is exhibited by Mr. Cuninghame and Mr. Elliott as the fall of the city, has none of the requisite characteristics. It was not consequent on the recovery by the German Protestants of the religious liberty lost in the war with the emperor, but preceded it in its first act near twenty years. It was not consequent on a revolution of the civil government. No such revolution took place. It was not a fall of the English hierarchy from its station as nationalized. That hierarchy did not by that secession cease to be established, nor did it incur by it the reputation of an apostate with the Protestants of the other nations.
Nor had the English revolution of 1688, which Mr. Faber regards as denoted by the earthquake and fall of a tenth of the city, any of the requisite characteristics. That revolution took place anterior to the reconquest of their valleys, and recovery of their ancient privileges by the Vallenses, not subsequently. The earthquake and fall of the city are represented as caused by the assumption of the witnesses. But no connection whatever subsisted between the reconquest of their country by the Vallenses and the English revolution. The church was not thrown from its station as nationalized by that revolution, but instead became
Henry VIII. was declared head of the English church in 1531 ; the payment of annates prohibited in 1532; and appeals to Rome in 1533. The final renunciation of the pope's authority took place March 20th, 1534. Burnet's Hist. Reformation, book ii. The Protestants of Germany were defeated, and the Elector of Saxony taken prisoner April 24th, 1547. Sleidani Hist. lib. xix. f. 307.
more intimately connected with the government, and more firmly established as a civil institution.
Finally, neither of those events was followed speedily by the temination of the empire of the Turks over the regions conquered by them from the idolatrous Christians, nor by the seventh trumpet. Six hundred years have passed since the crusade against the Waldenses ; four hundred and more since the martyrdom of Huss and Jerome and the war on the Bohemians. Three hundred years and more have passed since the secession of England; nearly three hundred since the defeat of the Protestant armies, and a hundred and fifty since the accession of William and Mary. Yet the Turks still maintain their empire, and are still a woe. The supposition that they ceased to be such when they reached the limit of their conquests, and began to decline, is wholly unauthorized. It implies that they are a woe to those nations only whom they threaten, but do not conquer ; not to those whom they vanquish and rule with an iron rod from age to age. Though after the close of the seventeenth century they were less the objects of fear to the European states, they yet continued and still continue no less a scourge to the vast body of nominal Christians under their dominion in Greece, Asia Minor, Syria, Armenia, Egypt, and the isles of the Mediterranean. And their empire is likely still to subsist. It has indeed greatly declined, yet scarcely more than Spain, which was at that period the most powerful of the ten kingdoms, and which, however sunk to decay, is doubtless to survive to the seventh trumpet. Of the long space from the Reformation, the first hundred and fifty years were marked by as frequent, as vast, and as cruel persecutions of the people of God, as any former period for many ages. The proportion of true witnesses to the apostate church, was far greater than at any former period, and the soil of every kingdom in Europe dyed with their blood. It is to disregard all the characteristics of the prophecy, therefore, to exhibit those remote and wholly dissimilar events as its fulfilment.
It is to contradict the representation of the tenth chapter also, that the servants of God should, after the Reformation, be again called to witness for him before peoples and nations, and tongues, and many kings. As their testimony during the twelve hundred and sixty days is to be finished before their slaughter, if their slaughter took place at the Reformation, their testimony must have been finished before or at the commencement of that event, and could not therefore be renewed at a subsequent period. Indeed what treatment of the sacred word can be more