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sitteth on the throne, shall dwell over them.” The martyrs are placed in the presence of their God, to whom they offer constant homage and adoration: and he will dwell over them, by infusing the joy of beatitude into their souls, and being their liberal Lord and gracious governor for ever. Lastly,
V. 16. “ They shall no more hunger and thirst, neither shall the sun fall on them, nor any heat.
V. 17. “For the Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, shall rule* them, and shall lead them to the fountains of the waters of life, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." Their afflictions and hardships aro now all over. They are now promised to be no more subject to the torments or sufferings they have undergone, either from hunger or thirst, or from the sun or any heat falling upon them, that is, from any sort of fire, natural or artificial; many of them having probably been famished to death, others burned, and others. shot. On the contrary, their bodies after the general resurrection will enjoy a most pure and perpetual feast, in being fed by the Lamb and refreshed by the most pleasant living waters, in such manner as is suitable to their glorified state. Before, St. John sail.; they are before the throne of God, &c. to indicate the happiness of their souls immediately after their passage to the other life : But here he says: they shall no more hunger and thirst, &c. to denote the future period after the general resurrection, when their bodies which were associated in the hardships, will likewise enjoy their share of beatitude, Furthermore, one may here observe the - suppression of the word “and,” which is so constantly repeated through the Apocalypse. In verse the 15th was expressed the beatitude of the soul, and in verse ihe 16th that of the body: the disparity of these two beatitudes could not well · admit of the conjunctive particle and, while the terms of soul and body were not expressed.—And God will wipe away their tears of sorrow: by filling them with the abundance of the sweetest joy and most perfect happiness for all tternity. * On the expiration of the forty-five days above-mentioned,
Antichrist having collected together all the forces, assembled by the three evil spirits who " had gone forth unto the king of the whole earth to gather them to battle against the great day of the Almighty God," Apoc. xvi. 14, he encamps them in the valley of Josaphat, between Jerusalem and Mount Olivet, and pitches his own tent on that mountain. He had
* In the Greek, “shall feed them."
probably been forewamed by the Christians, that this would be the theatre of his destruction, and therefore he chooses it in defiance of heaven. That this will be really the place, we seem to learn, first, from St. John, who, after the words just above cited, adds: “ And he shall gather them together, into a place, which in Hebrew is called Armagedon.” Apoc. xvi. 16. The word Armagedon is interpreted the mountain of fruits, which may indicate the mountain of Olives. The same is pointed out by the prophet Daniel, who speaks thus : “ And he shall fix his tabernacle Apadno between the seas, upon a glorious and holy mountain ; and he shall.come even to the top thereof, and none shall help him,” xi. 45. Antichrist will fix his tabernacle Apadno, that is, his magnificent tent, called Apadno, upon a mountain, viz. Mount Olivet, which has been made glorious and holy by the Ascension and other sacred transactions of our Saviour, and stands between the Mediterranean and Dead Seas. There he will arrogantly fix his standard, but none will be able to help him against the power of the Almighty.
We have likewise in the prophet Joel, not only express mention of the same place of encampment, but also a remarkable description of the assembling of this army and its impending fate.
Chap. iii. 1. “ For behold,” says the Lord, “ in these days and in that time when I shall bring back the captivity of Judea and Jerusalem.
V. 2. “I will gather together all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Josaphat.”* The Almighty then says that, soon after he shall have brought back the Jews from their captivity, an event we have before related, he will collect all nations into the valley of Josaphat, the place insinuated by St. John and Daniel.—The Almighty continues to speak,
V. 2. “And I will plead with them there for my people and my inheritance Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and have parted my land.
V. 3. “And they have cast lots unto my people: and the boy they have put in stews, and the girl they have sold for wine that they might drink," &c. &c.: The Almighty will there plead with them or reprove them for the injuries they have done to his people the Christians, and to his inheritance the Israelites, during the tyranny of the Antichristian
Josaphat signifies the judgment of the Lord.
V. 10. “And the wicked shall deal wickedly, and none of the wicked shall understand, but the learned shall understand." The wicked therefore will make no advantage of the times, but will continue to be wicked, through hardress of heart; nor will they understand, through their own wilful blindness, the incaning of those scourges and trials sent upon mankind: whereas the learned, who are truly virtuous and instructed in these prophecies, will understand the reason of the divine judgments, and will turn them to their own profit, and to the gaining of an immortal crown.
Notwithstanding the dreadful aspect, under which appears Antichrist's persecution according to the preceding account, we should not however be dejected or dismayed.Confidence in the mercies and providence of God should allay our fears and support our fortitude. That all bountiful Being, in his severest judgments, never forgets mercy; and when he sends trials, he furnishes assistance proportioned to the exigencies. We have already seen that the archangel Michael will come, by the order of God, to the defence of the Christians, and will check the exorbitant power of Satan. Besides, we are assured that boisterous storm will not last beyond three years and a half. But the principal support in these extreme distresses will be, the abundant graces infused by the Almighty into the hearts of the faithful, which will inspire them with the most heroic fortitude and invincible constancy. These dispositions will also be nourished and animated by the incessant preaching of the ministers of God, who will be enabled to enforce their exhortations with many shining miracles. Among these apostolic labourers, Henoch and Elias will signalize their zeal. By such means not only the faithful will be supported, but many conversions made. The Church therefore at this period, though in appearance so much oppressed, will shine more glorious than in any former age, by the number of Christian champions, who will not fear to make open profession of their faith, will baffle by their invincible fortitude all Antichrist's arts and tɔrments, and will soar in triumph to heaven with the crown of martyrdom.
It would seem that as the Christians will be fully instructed in the prophecies relating to the time, some of them, perhaps under their torments, will admonish Antichrist of his impending fate; in a similar manner as the above-mentioned king Antiochus was forewarned, by three of the seven Machabees whom he put to death, of the divine vengeance that would soon overtake him. The fifth of them, in his tortures, said to
Antiochus: “ Whereas thou hast power among men, though thou art corruptible, thou dost what thou wilt: but think not that our nation is forsaken by God. But stay patiently a while, and thou shalt see his great power, in what manner he will torment thee and thy seed.” 2 Mach. vii. 16, 17. Antichrist raging with fury at hearing from the expiring Christians the supreme decree which dooms him with all his men to be slain by Jesus Christ and his celestial army of saints, he resolves upon the most daring and most impious scheme, that ever entered the heart of man, and which, by the concur. rence of Satan and his false prophet, he puts in execution.
Chap. xvi. 13. “And I saw," says St. John, “ from the mouth of the dragon, and from the mouth of the beast, and from the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs.
V. 14. “For they are the spirits of devils working signs, and they go forth unto the kings of the whole earth* to gather them to battle against the great day of the Almighty God." The dragon or Satan, the beast or Antichrist, and the false prophet, send forth, each of them, an unclean spirit or devil. These they depute to all the kings and potentates, to all the great and little states of the earth, to gather them to battle against the great day of the Almighty God, that is, to engage them to assemble their troops and join Antichrist, who has determined to encounter with the omnipotent God, by whom they will on that great day be crushed and utterly destroyed. What audacious temerity, surely, the advice of Satan, to dare challenge the Almighty to battle! But what wonder that those proud angels who had rebelled against their God in heaven, should now excite mankind to a similar impiety? These three ambassadors, spirits of devils, conceal themselves under human shapes, and, like frogs, which are amphibious, proceed both by land and sea to every state on the continents and in the islands, and by their power of working signs or wonders, impose upon the princes, and prevail with them to embark in the mad design of their great master Antichrist.
The earth was now reeking every where with the blood of Christian victims. The persecution raged with the utmost violence, and daily swept away multitudes. The pastors especially are picked out for slaughter, being more obnoxious on account of their zeal, in opposing Antichrist, in animating the Christians, and fortifying them under their conflicts. And this
* In the Greek, "the kings of the earth and of the whole inhabited world.”
is exhibited to us with strong colours by the prophet Jeremy: “Howl, ye shepherds," says he, “and cry: and sprinkle yourselves with ashes, ye leaders of the flock: for the days of your slaughter and dispersion are accomplished, and you shall fall like precious vessels. And the shepherds shall have no way to flee, nor the leaders of the flock to save themselves," xxv. 34, 35. But this persecution was to be distinguished in a particular manner by the martyrdom of the two great messengers of Christ, his two witnesses, Henoch and Elias. Their Saviour and master had assigned them 1260 days, or three years and a half, to prophecy or to perform the function of his special ministers; during which time he screened them from all attempts of Antichrist and other enemies. But that period being now elapsed, he withdraws that special protection from them, and requires that they shall finish their work by sealing it with their blood. He therefore delivers them over into the power of Antichrist.
Chap. xi. 7. “And when they (the two witnesses) shall have finished their testimony," says St. John, “the beast, that ascendeth out of the abyss, shall make war against them, and shall overcome them and kill them.” Henoch and Elias then having finished their testimony, or time appointed them to give testimony to Christ by their preaching, they are to be put to death by order of Antichrist, who is impelled to it by Satan, the beast that ascendeth out of the abyss, or bottomless pit.
V. 8. “And their bodies shall lie in the streets of the great city, which is called, spiritually, Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord also was crucified." Their dead bodies lie exposed in the streets of the great city, which is Jerusalem, as appears by what is added, where their Lord was crucified; and our Saviour had said: “it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.” Luke xiii. 33. Jerusalem is styled, spiritually or mystically, Sodom and Egypt: Sodom, because, as that city was burned by fire from heaven for its iniquities, so was Jerusalem doomed by heaven to be burned by the Romans in consequence of its crucifying its Lord. Jerusalem is also styled Egypt, in allusion to the persecutions the Jews suffered under the Pharaohs in Egypt, and which they will suffer in a more severe manner at Jerusalem under Antichrist.
V. 9. “And they of the tribes, and peoples, and tongues, and nations, shall see their bodies for three days and a half: and they shall not suffer their bodies to be laid in sepulchres.
V. 10. “And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice