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Jesus Christ has been published by the translation and circulation of the word of God, how different the scene! Now, we can hardly find a Roman Catholic who will pre tend that heaven is purchased by infliction of bodily torture, by doing penance, or by a monastic seclusion from the world; neither do we see them selling indulgences, and promising the holders pardon for the most abominable crimes. And but rarely do we hear the infallibility of the mother, or holy Catholic church, advanced from pulpit or press. Why this mighty change in public sentiment? Because the reign of grace is not withheld; the two witnesses are no longer clothed in sackcloth; 6 Michael has stood up, that standeth for the children of thy people.” And the “angel is flying through the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth.” “And have power over the waters to turn them to blood.” By waters, we understand people; and by blood, wars. This text has been amply fulfilled in the wars of Europe, fighting for religious tenets and ecclesiastical power, claiming their prerogatives from the two witnesses, and wresting and perverting the word of God to their own destruction. « And from thence come wars, tumults, fightings," because they understand not." And to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.” In Old Testament times, it was the word of God, through Moses and Aaron, that smote Egypt with the ten plagues, and through Joshua the Canaanites. So, in New Testament times, the seven last plagues, and the three woes, are denounced against the anti-Christian beast, who dwells on and has great power over the earth. “As often as they will," meaning as often as they have prophesied of them, so often will the plagues be sent. Not one jot or tittle of the word of God will fail.
7th verse, “ And when they shall have finished their testimony," that is, when the 1260 years are about fulfilled, the “beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit;" this beast is the same as the little horn, Papal Rome, and is said to ascend out of the bottomless pit, because it is founded on error. The principles taught by this beast were first Paganism, and ended in Deism, which are not built on the word of God; and, therefore, have no foundation, and may truly be said to be “bottomless." “ Shall make war against them.” The governments, under the authority of Papal Rome, shall en deavor to exterminate the “two witnesses,” the word of God. “And shall overcome them, and kill them;" have power over them, pass laws or edicts against them, and, by this means, destroy their usefulness, life, and activity. For where the Scriptures are not read, and believed in, they become a dead letter; but when read, and believed, " they are spirit, they are life,” John vi. 63.
8th verse, “And their dead bodies shall lie in the streets of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.” This verse teaches us, that the word of God would be made a dead letter, by the authority of one of the principal kingdoms out of one of the ten into which the Roman government was divided, and that they would be guilty of the same sins that Sodom and Egypt were guilty of; and, also, of crucifying our Lord, that is, in a spiritual sense. This will apply to France in particular. France, previous to, and in the French revolution, was guilty of Sodomitish sins; she also had held in bondage, like Egypt, the people of God; and, in France, Christ had been crucified afresh in his people, on St. Bartholomew's eve, A. D. 1572, when 50,000 Huguenots were murdered in one night. The people of God are called Christ's spiritual body, 1 Peter ii. 5, Col. i. 24.
9th verse, “ And they of the people, and kindreds, and tongues, shall see their dead bodies three days and a half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves." This decree, or edict, should be generally known among all nations; and although they could not prevent the witnesses from lying in the streets of the great city three years and a half, yet the nations about them would prevent the Scriptures from being buried, or put out of sight.
i0th verse, “ And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another, because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt upon the earth.” We learn by this text that the nation, who would suppress the reading of the word of God, would make great rejoicings upon this occasion, and congratulate each other upon the destruction of the Bible, as they would suppose, for this reason, because the doctrine and precepts of the Bible would be hateful and disagreeable to them.
11th verse, “And after three days and a half, years, the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.” After the Bible would be dormant three years and a half, God would so order in his provi. dence, that they would again be permitted to be read and enjoyed as usual, and the Bible would again stand upon its own foundation, or merits, and would again have their bearing on the hopes and fears of mankind, and the governments of the world, and their enemies would see it and tremble.
12th verse, “And they 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.” This verse shows us that many voices would unite in calling for a general spread of the Bible through the world, and that the Bible would be exalted among the nations, and great multitudes of them circulated, and the enemies of the word of God could not prevent it. Here we have a plain and distinct prophecy of the Bible societies.
13th verse, “ And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men [names or titles) seven thousand, and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.” At the same hour the witnesses would be slain, there would be a great revolution, and one of the ten kingdoms, which had given their power and support to the Papal beast, would fall; and seven thousand names, or titles of nobility, in chnrch and state, would be destroyed; and this revolution would produce great fear among the nations, and some would acknowledge that the word was fulfilling, and God was producing these wonderful events. Here we again see exactly depicted the French revolution, and its efe fects; and we cannot but see that the whole of this prophecy has been literally fulfilled.
In the beginning of the sixth century, about A. D. 538, Justinian, emperor of Constantinople, in his controversy with the Arians, and other schismatics in the Greek church, constituted the bishop of Rome head over all others, both in the western and eastern churches, who, by his authority, suppressed the reading of the Bible by laymen, pretending that they could not read and understand without the assistance of the clergy. About this time, too, the Latin language ceased to be spoken in Italy, and the Greek and Latin both became dead languages. The Bible at that time not being written or translated into any other languages in Europe, it became an easy task for the bishop to obscure the doctrine and discipline of the word of God, so far as suited his convenience, and to obtain universal power over the minds and consciences of men, and clothe the Scriptures in sackcloth. If, then, the Scriptures were first clothed in sackcloth in A. D. 538, and were to prophesy 1260 years in this situation, their prophecy would end in 1798. About the close of the eighteenth century, in consequence of the abominable corruptions of the church of Rome being exposed to public view, the men of the world began to treat revelation as a fiction, and religion as priestcraft; and instead of searching for the pillar and ground of the truth, “their imaginations became vain, and their foolish minds were darkened." They declared war against the Bible, the “two witnesses," which war became general all over Europe and America. Some of the most eminent and principal writers in this controversy were in France, the principal kingdom among the ten, into which Rome had been divided at the close of the fifth century; and so successful were these writers, that almost the whole nation of the French became Deists, or Atheists, in a short time. This na. tion had long been guilty of the abominations of the anti-Christian beast, the sins of Sodom and Egypt, and the persecution of those who protested against her national corruptions: the slaying of the witnesses; their lying in a dead state three years and a half in the street
of the great city; the revolution spoken of in this prophecy — all happened in the French revolution, between the years 1793 and 1798. A decree was passed by the council and directory of France, prohibiting the Bible to be read in public, in any of the chapels in France, and Bibles were gathered in heaps, and bonfires were made of them, and great rejoicings were had all over the kingdom at the downfall of priestcraft, as they called it; and particularly at Lyons, where the Scriptures were publicly dragged through the streets, with circumstances of the greatest contempt, and other things transacted in the exultation of their triumph, which are too shocking to narrate. Let it suffice, then, to say, that after three years and a half the Bible was again permitted to be read, and religion had free toleration in France; and what is equally as remarkable, is, that the same year & few individuals in London established what has since been styled the Bible society, which has been instrumental in sending Bibles among all nations, and of translating them into more than 150 languages since that period; and almost all the writers, who acknowledge the Bible to be the two witnesses, do agree that the events, prophesied of in this passage, were literally accomplished in the French revolution. Now, the Bible is more than restored to its former state in society ; it is exalted, and every person can have, and read, and examine for themselves into its sacred truths. It is also a fact, that the progress of the Bible society has exceeded the most sanguine expectations of its advocates; and the Atheists and Deists of our day appear to be perfectly confounded at these events. Instead now of declaring open war against the Bible, they make pretence at least of drawing their rules of morality from this blessed book; and the man who should now undertake to write down the word of God, would be considered either a madman, or a fool. One thing more: In the French Revolution, the names or titles of men were abolished; and it is said by some writers, that, in the long list of titled nobility, and the great catalogue of priestly orders, there were seven thousand destroyed at once. Well might the remnant be affrighted, and give glory to the God of heaven!