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by Bp. Newton-The prophecy in question has been applied, for instance, to the council of Constance; which sat about three years and a half, enacted many laws against pretended heretics, and condemned to the flames John Huss and Jerome of Prague. But these two martyrs were only individuals: they cannot with any propriety be termed two candlesticks or two churches: they did not prophesy 1260 years: their death, being a literal one, does not answer to the definition of the death of the witnesses, which is an allegorical one: and, even if bodily death by persecution were intended (which certainly is not intended), still, when once literally slain, they were incapable of revivification; for it is a mere evasion of the plain words of St. John, to say, that they revived in their followers: consequently they cannot be the two apocalyptic witnesses-It has also been applied to the French massacre of the protestants on the eve of St. Bartholomew in the year 1572, and the treaty of Henry the third with the Huguenots con-` cluded on the 14th of May 1576; whereby the Protestants about three years and a half after the massacre, were admitted to the free and open exercise of their religion. But this exposition will in no respect accord with the prophecy, except in the coincidence of the three years and a half: for the protestants, massacred as they were, did not die in the sense of the prophecy; their persecution did not make them cease to be witnesses: and, even if it had done so, still the war would
have been made upon them, not by the beast under his last head, as St. John assures us should be the case, but only by one of his ten horns or the French sovereign-It has likewise been applied by Jurieu to the persecution of the French protestants after the revocation of the edict of Nantz. But this pious author's exposition is not only liable to the same objections as the preceding one, but has since shared the fate of most human prophecies founded upon a divine prophecy. He ventured to foretell, that that should be the last persecution of the Church; that the witnesses should lie dead three years and a half from the year 1685, when the edict was revoked; that the Reformation should then be established by royal authority throughout the kingdom; and that the whole country should renounce Popery, and embrace Protestantism. Events have precluded the necessity of any other confutation *—
*This opinion of Jurieu's has, with some variations, been recently revived by Mr. Bicheno. He asserts, that the two witnesses represent the advocates for religious truth and civil liberty; that the beast, which slays them, is the second apocalyptic beast; that that second beast is the French monarchy from the time of Louis XIV; that the witnesses were slain in the year 1685 by the revocation of the edict of Nantz; that the three days and a half, during which they lay dead, are what he styles three lunar days and a half, in other words, three prophetic months and a half or 105 natural years; and that at the end of these 105 years they revived and stood upon their feet by means of the French revolution in the year 1789.
I think him mistaken, for the following reasons-1. The witnesses,
It has lastly been applied by Bp. Lloyd and Mr. Whiston to the persecution of the Piedmontese protestants,
witnesses, upon the principles of symbolical language, must ba two Churches: the advocates for religious truth and civil liberty are not two churches-2. As the death of the witnesses means their ceasing to be witnesses, so their revival means their But the French prore-assuming the character of witnesses. testants neither ceased to be witnesses in consequence of the revocation of the edict of Nantz; nor, if they had, could they be said to have re-assumed their character by an event, which threw the reins of the French Government into the hands of a set of the most unprincipled miscreants that ever disgraced any age or country. It is true, that some individuals among the French Protestants were compelled to apostatise to Popery; but, so far from this being so generally the case as to warrant our saying that they were figuratively slain as a body, about a million of them gave up their country rather than their religion, and at least 100,000 of them were murdered-3. By asserting that the three days and a half are se many lunar days or months of years, Mr. Bicheno violates both the general analogy of prophetic computation, and in a yet more striking manner the particular analogy of that used in the present prediction. It is first said, that the witnesses are to prophesy 1260 days, and afterwards it is said that they are to lie dead three days and a half. Now we can scarcely suppose, that St. John uses two entirely different modes of computation in the same prophecy; for, in fact, if he did, there could be no certainty in any numerical prediction: it must be left entirely to the arbitrary decision of a commentator to say whether a prophetic day means a natural year, or a month of natural years; in other words, whether it means one year or 30 years. Mr. Bicheno himself allows however, that the 1260 days are 1260 years. If then the 1260 days, during which the witnesses prophesy, be 1260 natural years; we must, I think, necessarily conclude, unless we make St. John guilty of a
protestants, which commenced at the latter end of the year 1686, and terminated in June 1690.
most singular inconsistency, that the three days and a half, during which they lie dead, are three natural years and a half likewise. All that Mr. Bicheno says, respecting what he terms the decorum of symbols, seems to me a mere gratuitous assumption. Had the apostle meant to intimate, that the witnesses should continue in a state of political death during 105 years, I can discover no symbolical impropriety in his saying that their dead bodies should lie unburied 105 days. Ezekiel, we know, represents the long political death of the house of Israel under the imagery of dead bodies lying so long unburied that nothing remained of them but dry bones: why then should Mr. Bicheno think it so great an impropriety, that the apostl should have said, that the dead bodies of the witnesses lay unburied 105 days, if he had intended 105 years ?-4. But, even if none of these objections existed, still his scheme would not hold good, even upon his own principles. Let the second apocalyptic beast be what it may, it is not that beast which slays the witnesses, as Mr. Bicheno supposes, but the first or ten-horned beast. The reader will find this position amply proved in the course of a few pages, when I consider Mr. Galloway's hypothesis, who makes the same mistake as Mr. Bicheno in thinking that the witnesses are slain by the second apocalyptic beast, though he supposes that beast to be republi can France. Signs of the times. Part i. p. 17-37.
This subject is further considered in my answer to Mr. Bicheno. I must confess, that his reply to the preceding strictures does not satisfy me. I still think his hypothesis untenable. He acknowledges, that the beast which slays the witnesses is not the second apocalyptic beast; yet he contends, that the mistake does not affect his argument.
Mr. Butt, like Mr. Bicheno, refers the slaughter of the witnesses to the revocation of the edict of Nantz, though with some variations which certainly make his scheme much less objection
But here again the very same objections occur; the witnesses were never prophetically slain by their persecution in Piedmont; and this persecution was carried on against them by their sovereign the Duke of Savoy, not by the beast under his last head-In short, I cannot find that the witnesses were ever constrained to cease to be witnesses, with every circumstance which the prophecy requires, except at the era of the Smalcaldic league. All other interpretations, to say nothing of minor objections, fail in a point absolutely essential. They represent the witnesses as being slain, when, in the prophetic sense of death, they were not slain.
Bp. Newton, like Jurieu, thinks, that the war of the beast against the two witnesses is to be the last perse
objectionable. He thinks, that the Waldenses and Albigenses are most eminently to be understood by the two witnesses: that the remains of these two ancient churches were slain in April 1685 by the revocation of the edict of Nantz: that they revived in October 1688 by taking refuge in England with the prince of Orange, afterwards William III. and that the great earthquake is the revolution in England. Notes on the Apoc. Part ii.
In addition to the other objections, which may be made to this scheme in common with those of M. Jurieu, and Mr. Bicheno, it may be observed, that Mr. Butt considers the witnesses as being slain in one street of the city, and as reviving in another, admitting for a moment the propriety of esteeming protestant England the tenth part of the great city: whereas St. John certainly represents them, as being slain, as lying dead, and as reviving, in one and the same street; that street in short, which he styles the broad street or forum.