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preaching or expounding*. The prophesying therefore of the two witnesses is nothing more than their zealous avowal of the principles of the Gospel; their shutting of heaven, so that it rain not in the days of their prophecy, is the shutting up the temple or spiritual Church, so that the dew of God's word and spirit should not descend upon the apostate inhabitants of the Roman earth †; and their power of smiting the earth with diverse plagues means, that all the various plagues, denounced in the Apocalypse, blood, slaughter, and desolation, should, in the course of God's just judgments, be the consequence of men's slighting the warning voice of his two mystical prophets. Not that it was their wish to shut up heaven, or to call down
* See the whole of 1 Corinth. xiv. upon which Mr. Cruden very justly remarks, "This term (prophesying) is used by St. "Paul for explaining Scripture, preaching, or speaking to the "Church in public." See also 1 Corinth. xi. 4, 5—1 Thess. v, 20 (which the margin of the Bible refers to 1 Corinth. xiv.), and Rom. xii. 6. The use of the word in this sense probably originated from the frequent appeals made by the primitive teachers to the prophets who had prophesied of Christ. See Acts ii. 14-37. iii. 18. iv. 10-13, 25—28. vii. 2—54. xxiv. 14. xxvi. 6—27. and xxviii. 23. See also the grounds of our Lord's own discourse with the two disciples at Emmaus. Luke xxiv. 25, 26, 27. and his subsequent address to the eleven and those that were with them. Ver. 44, 45, 46.
+ Rain," says Sir Isaac Newton, "if not immoderate, and
dew, and living water, are put for the graces and doctrines of "the Spirit; and the defect of rain, for spiritual barrenness.” Observ. on Dan. and Rev. p. 19.
the vengeance of the Almighty upon earth; their desire was to preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins: the fire of God's wrath would never have proceeded out of their mouth; they never would have had occasion to denounce his righteous indignation against sin; if they of the Apostasy would have reformed themselves, instead of hurting or persecuting the two witnesses. When it is said therefore, that they have power to shut heaven, to turn the waters into blood, to smite the earth with plagues, and to dart from their mouth consuming fire; these expressions must all be understood, not in a causal, but in a consequential, sense for the commission, given to the two figurative prophets, is, in point of its proper mode of interpretation, exactly analogous to the charge which God delivered to Isaiah: "Make the heart of this people "fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear "with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed *." In perfect strictness of speech, Isaiah was no more able to inflict the plague of spiritual stupidity; than the two prophets of the Apocalypse were, that of spiritual barrenness and natural calamities. Both the passages must be explained exactly upon the same principle: the judgments, which these prophets were severally impowered to inflict, were not
* Isaiah vi. 10.
caused by them as active agents, but were the consequence of their ministry being slighted. In this sense we are authorised by inspired authority to interpret the charge given to Isaiah*: consequently, by a parity of reasoning, we are at liberty to explain the powers committed to the two apocalyptic prophets, in a similar manner †.
It is not unworthy of remark, that the two witnesses are described as having only one mouth. This circumstance at once shews that they are mystical, not literal, characters; and serves to demonstrate the propriety of the foregoing explanation. The pre-Christian and the post-Christian Church, forming jointly the Church general, have but one mouth, testifying and declaring the same simple road to salvation through the alone sacrifice of Christ. In the strictly scriptural words of the Anglican church already cited," although the an"cient patriarchs were not named Christian men, "yet was it a Christian faith that they had; for they looked for all benefits of God the Father, through the merits of his Son Jesu Christ, as we do now. This difference is between them and us, that they looked when Christ should
*See Matt. xiii. 15. and Acts xxviii. 27.
It is very justly remarked by Bp. Newton, when commenting upon this very passage, that "in Scripture language "the prophets are often said to do those things, which they * declare and foretell.”,
Rev. xi. 5.
"come, and we be in the time when he is "come *""
"And, when they shall draw near to the "close of their testimonyt, the beast, that "ascendeth out of the bottomless pit, shall "make war against them, and shall overcome "them, and kill them. And their dead bodies "shall lie in the broad street of the great city, "which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And ·
of the people and kindreds and tongues
The same sound doctrine is set forth in the article; "The "Old Testament is not contrary to the New: for both in the "Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to man
kind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man, being both God and man." Thus have the two witnesses only one mouth, with which they unanimously protest against the host of mediators venerated by them of the Apostasy.
+ Such is cerainly the proper translation of the Aorist TEλEOWOI. The subjunctive mood of the first Aorist generally bears a kind of future signification: and the context amply shews, that such must be its meaning in the present instance. The witnesses were to prophesy during the whole 1260 years, which are commensurate with the two first woe-trumpets and the greatest part of the third. At the time of this event, they were only under the second woe-trumpet (See Rev. xi. 7-12. and 14, 15.): consequently they could not have finished their testimony, as our translation erroneously represents them to have done; because they were to continue prophesying to the very end of the 1260 years. "Cum finituri sint testimonium suum (sic enim olav TEλowσ vertendum, non de præterito, cum finierint). Mede's Comment. Apoc. in loc.
and nations shall see their dead bodies "three days and a half, and shall not suffer their "dead bodies to be put in graves. 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 on the earth. And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God "entered into them; and they stood upon their
feet and great fear fell upon them which saw "them. And they heard a great voice from hea
ven, saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and "their enemies beheld them."
Prophecy, as it might be naturally expected, dwells only upon great and prominent circumstances; were it otherwise constructed, the whole world could not contain the volumes, which it occupy. We must inquire therefore, what circumstance in the history of the two witnesses is of a sufficiently definite nature, that is to say, differs sufficiently from all other persecutions which they underwent, to occasion so very peculiar a mention of it.
1. In prosecuting this inquiry, the first point necessary to be considered is the nature of the death, which the two witnesses are represented as undergoing. In the language of prophecy, to die signifies to cease to be whatever a person was before