« ElőzőTovább »
such death*. The death of the witnesses therefore denotes their ceasing to be witnesses: and, since this death is manifestly a violent one, since they are said to have been slain by the beast; the import of the prediction is, that the power symbolized by the beast should forcibly cause the witnesses to desist from bearing their testimony, thus inflicting upon them what may be termed a theological death.
2. The next point to be considered is the time when they are slain. This time is said to be, when they are drawing near to the close of their prophesying, but before the sounding of the seventh trumpett. Now to such a chronological description, I conceive the remarkable era of the reformation to answer very exactly, as I shall presently point out at large.
*"Mori ea notione dicitur, qui in quocunque statu con"stitutus, sive Politico sive Ecclesiastico, seu quovis alio, "desinit esse quod fuit; unde et occidit qui tali morte
quemquam afficit" (Mede's Comment. Apoc. in myst. duor. test.). This excellent definition of Mr. Mede's shews the propriety of the distinction which I have made between the death of the third part of men or the Roman community, and the death of the Roman beast. Death in both cases signifies the causing them to cease to be what they were before. Hence the death of a community is the causing a community to cease from existing as a community; and the death of a beast is the causing a beast or idolatrous empire to cease from existing as a beast or idolatrous empire.
† See Rev. xi. 7—12, 15.
To this era I have already thought myself warranted in peculiarly referring the second persecution of the men of understanding, which Daniel describes as taking place previous to the revelation of the atheistical king; and to this era I now think myself equally warranted in looking for an accomplishment of the present prophecy.
3. The third point to be considered is the foe, by whom they are slain. He is styled the beast of the bottomless pit: and this beast will be found upon examination, to be the first beast of the Apocalypse, or the beast with seven heads and ten horns*. In short, as it shall be fully shewn hereafter, he is the same as Daniel's fourth beast, or the Roman Empire and he slays the witnesses by the instrumentality of his last head.
* Compare Rev. xi. 7. with Rev. xiii. 1. and xvii. 7, 8. Or to speak more accurately his septimo-octave head. "The seven heads are seven kings-The beast, that was, and " is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven" (Rev} xvii. 9, 10, 11.). Thus it appears, that St. John identifies even the whole beast with his last head, on account of the vast power which this last head was destined at its first rise to possess: consequently, when he asserts, that the beast should make war upon the witnesses, since the chronology of the prophecy shows that the beast should do this under his last head, and since St. John identifies the beast with his last head, it is manifest that this war was to be undertaken by the last head of the beast. The same remark applies to the last war of the beast, the false prophet, and the kings of the earth, against the Lumb. The beast
we can understand therefore the import of the prediction relative to the death of the witnesses, which is to take place towards the close of the 1260 years, and under the second woe-trumpet, we must learn what form of Roman government is intended by the last head of the beast. This matter however must be reserved for future discussion, when the whole character of the beast is considered at large. For the present then, in order that the thread of the prophecy relative to the witnesses may be preserved unbroken, I must be allowed to assume, that this last head is not the Papacy, as Mr. Mede and Bp. Newton suppose, but the line of the Gothic Emperors of the West; the first of whom was Charlemagne, and whose representative, at the time of the Reformation was Charles the fifth. These matters being premised, let us proceed to consult history.
In the years 1530, 1531, 1535, and 1537, the protestant German princes associated themselves together, for the defence of their religion, in what was called the league of Smalcalde. This formidable combination roused the jealousy of the Emperor and the Pope; nor were the proceedings of the council of Trent less calculated to excite the fears of the confederates. The deposition and
here, as in the former instance, means the last head of the beast; - and the kings of the earth or Roman empire, those sovereigns who are in communion with the false prophet. This subject will be fully discussed hereafter.
excommunication of the Archbishop of Cologne, on the avowed ground of the countenance which he had given to the Lutherans, brought affairs however more rapidly to a crisis than Charles had intended. "By a long series of artifice and fallacy, he had gained so much time, that his measures, though not altogether ripe for exe"cution, were in great forwardness. The Pope, by his proceedings against the Elector of Cologne, as well as by the decrees of the council, "had precipitated matters into such a situation,
as rendered a breach between the Emperor and "the protestants almost unavoidable. Charles "had therefore no choice left him, but either to "take part with them in overturning what the see of Rome had determined, or to support the "authority of the church openly by force of ' arms. Nor did the Pope think it enough to "have brought the Emperor under a necessity "of acting; he pressed him to begin his ope"rations immediately, and to carry them on "with such vigour as could not fail of securing "success t.'
Both parties had recourse to arms; but the policy of the Emperor prevailed over the disunion of the protestants. At the close of the year 1546, "the confederacy, lately so powerful as to shake "the imperial throne, fell to pieces, and was "dissolved in the space of a few weeks; hardly
* See Rev. xiii. 11.'
Robertson's Hist. of Charles V. vol. iii. p. 67.
any member of that formidable combination "now remaining in arms, but the Elector of Saxony and the Landgrave of Hesse, to whom
the Emperor, having from the beginning "marked them out as victims of his vengeance, "was at no pains to offer terms of reconcilia "tion*."
He was prevented however from attacking them immediately by a dread of the hostile intentions of the French king; but the death of his rival, on the last day of March 1547, shortly left him at liberty to prosecute his scheme of crushing the Reformation. As soon as he heard of Francis's demise, he began his march against the Elector; and, on the 24th of April, totally routed and took him prisoner, in the decisive battle of Muhlberg. The Landgrave was now left alone to maintain the protestant cause; but ere long he likewise was compelled to submit, and by a dishonourable stratagem was seized and confined by the Emperor.
Thus was the Smalcaldic league completely broken; but as yet the witnesses were not slain, or compelled to desist from bearing their testimony. Though Charles had signed a treaty with the Pope, in which the extirpation of heresy was explicitly declared to be the object of the war, he "still endeavoured to persuade the Germans "that he had no design to abridge their religious
* Robertson's Hist. of Charles V. vol. iii. p. 101, 102.