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history a period of this kind, in which the pagan nations of Europe, (or, in prophetic language, of the isles, of the sea,) after being converted to the profession of the Christian name, filled the courts of the Lord's house, and principally composed that body which we call the Christian Church. But these nations did not possess, during many centuries, a primitive faith and pure knowledge. They worshipped in the outer court, at a distance; their views of Divine truth were obscure; they were not admitted to a sight of the Ark of the Covenant, of the precious testimony of the Gospel *
The times, when the Gentiles should flow into the Church, are foretold by all the Prophets ; upon which Saint Paul will be found to comment in Rom. xi. 19. 25. xv. 7–13. But the prophet Daniel has gone so far as to fix the duration of a period, in which, " the “power of the holy people (the Jews) shall be scat"tered ;” in which therefore we may suppose the Gentiles are to possess the Church. “ It shall be " for a time, times, and halft,” which is understood to signify three years and an half : for, a time, in the prophecy of Daniel, signifies a year I. But three years and an half, counted after the eastern computation, amount to forty-two inonths, or 1260 days, which is this very period of the Gentiles .
Ver. 3. And I will give unto my two witnesses.] There is an ellipsis in this place, after the word 'Swow,
* Mosheim, i. $59. 430.
+ Dan, xii. 7. Dan. iv. 25. xi. 13.
It will be seen plainly under note, ch. xii. 14, that the period of 1960 days is exactly the same with the time, tinies, and ball; because they are indiscriminately applied to the selfsame period of history.
which may perhaps be supplied by το Πνευμα μ8, or, as it stands in Acts ii. 17, 18, éto 78. Ilveuuelos us: I will give to my two witnesses a portion of my Holy Spirit. This is the necessary supply to be given, in order to make them prophets. They are here called Witnesses, Mepłupes. Such is the title of those who, having been instructed in the saving truths of the Gospei, are enabled to testify them bcfore the world; and, unawed by the fear of sufferings, to seal the testimony with their blood. Such a witness was our Lord himself* ; such were his Apostles t; and such confessors of the pure faith are promised to the true Church during the period of 1260 years, in which the Gentiles are to tread the courts of the Christian Church in ignorance and impurity. Such witnesses are to appear in small numbers : for, two is the smallest number next to unity: and this number, to bear effectual testimony, was required under the Law £. The office of these witnesses is to be mournful; which is fully implied in their funeral garb of sackcloth g, and the period of their continuing to exercise this office, is the same which we have before noted,---1260 days; that is, 1260 years. But the life of one man will not ordinarily fill above the twentieth part of this space of time: we are there. fore led to expect a succession of such prophets or martyrs, but few in number at one time.
Ver. 4. These are the two olive-trees, and the two lamp-bearers; &c.] The character of these witnesses is further expressed by their being called “the two
* Ch. i. 5; 1 Tiin. vi. 13.
Deut. xvii, 6; 2 Cor. xiii. 1; Matt. xviii. 16.
* olive-trees, and the two lamp-bearers, which stand " before the Lord of the earth.” We have already learned, from infallible authority *, that the auxviai, the lamp-bearers, represent the Churches of Christ. But the seven Churches had forfeited the privilege in this corrupt and idolatrous period. And the newly converted Gentile Churches were not permitted to bear the holy Light: for, they are excluded from the inner temple and the altar, where the tamp-bearers properly stood. The office of bearing the Christian Light, before the Lord of the earth, is therefore committed to the two wilnesses. The true light of the Gospel is exbibited by them, and commands' attention, though seen through mists of surroundiög ignoránce and superstition. They are called also the "two olive-trees.” The olive was a sacred 'plant, permitted to grow up,' even in the temple. This figurative resemblance had been applied before to such prophets, who are described as two olive-trees spontaneously producing the golden (the pure) oil; and, after this description, are said to be “the two « anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole “ earth t." Pure Religion therefore, which is not to be found among the Gentiles at large, who frequent only the outer courts, is to be seen here with the witnesses : for, here is the inner temple ; here are the lamp-bearers; the sacred olives, in the presence of God.
Ver. 5. &; 6.] These witnesses are also to be endued with that power of the prophets, expressed in
* Ch. i. 12.
† Zech. iv. 11-14. These are usually understood to signify Zorobabel and Joshua, the lights and ornaments of the ancient Church altor tbe Babylonish captivity.
Holy Holy Writ; “I will make my word in thy mouth “: fire,” says the Lord to the prophet Jeremiah, “and " this people wood, and it shall consume them*.” They are to prophesy in the power and spirit of Moses and Elijah, at whose command the rain was suspended, and the waters turned into blood t.
Ver. 7. & 8.] But at the time appointed for the period of their prophesying, at the end of the fortytwo months, or 1260 days, the wild-beast, who is to ascend from the great deep, and who is more particularly described afterwards I, shall overcome and slay them; and shall prosecute his victory with such barbarous ferocity, as not to permit to their remains the usual privilege of burial. Their dead bodies, like those of the massacred Jews under Sennacheribs, are to lie exposed in the streets of the great city; of that idolatrous, corrupt communion, of which Sodom, and Ægypt, and Jerusalem in its most degenerate days, stained with the blood of Jesus, were expressive types.
Ver, 9. f. 10.] And the persons who belong to this wicked city, consisting of “ many people, tribes, "and nations,” that is, of the Gentile world, shall behold the dead bodies three days and an half, and rejoice over them, But, at the end of this period, the prophets rise from the dead, by the power of the Spi, rit; and are received into heaven, as their prototype
Elijah, and perhaps Moses, had been before them |. -.' 56.
Hon. ...io To Li b Jer. v. 14. See also Isa. x. 17, xi. 4; Jer, i, 9, 10; Hos, vi, 5; 2 Thess. ii. 3.
+ Exod. vii. 20. James v. 17. Ch. xii. $. Tob. 1.18-24. -5705 The spurious gospel, under the name of Nicodemus, represents w Enöch and Elijab as destined to undergo literally, what is figuratively
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To proceed to the application of this prophecy: we are not to expect a literal accomplishment. For first, that would be contrary to the mode of interpretation, to which we are in general directed by the highest authority ; by our Lord himself and angels, who, in explaining the “ mystery” of the stars, the lamp-bearers *, the wild-beast, his heads, his hornst, teach us to look for a hidden and allegorical meaning. Secondly, such an explication becomes necessary in this particular prophecy : for, the dead bodies are represented as lying " in the streets of the great “ city which is called spiritually Sodom, and Ægypt, “where also their Lord was crucified.” Now it is plainly, in a spiritual sense in which we are to understand the words Sodom, Ægypt, and Jerusalem ;they are used metaphorically. And further, the great city which is called Sodom, Ægypt, and Jerusalem, cannot be all of them, and therefore must be interpreted to signify some great society, or body of men, which is like them all ; resembling those famous communities in the peculiar wickedness of each; and in rebellion to the most high God; for such is the character of them all. As Jerusalem, in its degenerate days, is by the prophets called Sodom and Gomorrah I; so the great city, in which the witnesses prophesy and suffer, is called after the name of all the above mentioned communities, because resembling all. Thirdly; the time of the accomplishment of this
foretold of the witnesses in this part of the Apocalypse. That relation is plaiuly borrowed from this passage. (See Evang. Nicodemi, c. 25.) And some of the Fathers, among whom is Tertullian, seen to have taken up this notion. (Tertullian. de Animâ, sect. 50.) * Ch. i. 2. + Ch. xvii. Isa. i. 9. 10.