1. And there was given me a reed like a staff; and the angel stood near, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God and the altar, and them that adore therein. 2. And the court which is without the temple cast out, and measure it not; for it is given to the Gentiles; and the holy city shall they trample forty-two months. 3. And I will give to My two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. 4. These are the two olive trees, and the two lamp stands, which are standing before the God of the earth. 5. And if anyone will hurt them, fire shall go forth out of their mouth, and shall devour their enemies; and if anyone will hurt them, thus must he be killed.
6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain no rain in the days of their prophecy: and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood; and to smite the earth with every plague, as often as they will. 7. And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that cometh up out of the abyss shall make war with them, and overcome them, and kill them. 8. And their bodies shall be upon the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. 9. And they of the peoples, and tribes, and tongues, and nations, shall see their bodies three days and a half, and shall not permit their bodies to be put into tombs.
10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them and shall be glad, and shall send gifts one to another; because those two prophets tormented them that dwell upon the earth. 11. And after three days and a half, the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them that saw them. 12. And they heard a great voice out of heaven, saying unto them, Come up hither. And they went up into heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them. 13. And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were killed the names of men seven thousand; and the rest were terrified, and gave glory to the God of heaven. 14. The second woe is past; behold, the third woe cometh quickly.
15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of the world are become our Lord’s and His Christ’s, and He shall reign for ages of ages. 16. And the four-and-twenty elders, who sit before God on their thrones, fell upon their faces, and adored God; 17. Saying, We give Thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, who is, and who was, and who is to come, because Thou hast taken Thy great power, and hast entered into the kingdom. 18. And the nations were angry; and Thy anger is come, and the time of judging the dead, and of giving reward to Thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and to them that fear Thy name, the small and the great; and to destroy them that destroy the earth. 19. And the temple of God was opened in heaven; and there was seen in His temple the ark of His covenant; and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunders, and an earthquake, and great hail.
It still treats of the state of the church among the Reformed, as to the quality of those who are interiorly in faith alone, contrary to the two essentials of the New Church, which are that the Lord alone is the God of heaven and earth, and that His Human is Divine; and that men ought to live according to the precepts of the Decalogue. That these two essentials were declared to them (verses 3-6), but that they were totally rejected (verses 7-10). That they were raised up again by the Lord (verses 11, 12). That they who rejected them, perished (verse 13). That the state of the New Church was manifested from the New Heaven (verses. 15-19).
Verse 1. “And there was given me a reed like a staff,”
The faculty and power of knowing and seeing the state of the church in heaven and in the world was given.
“And the angel stood by, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God and the altar, and them that adore in it,”
The Lord’s presence and His command, that he should see and know the state of the church in the New Heaven.
Verse 2. “And the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not,”
The state of the church on earth, such as it is at present, is to be removed, and not known.
“For it is given to the Gentiles,”
Because the state of that church is destroyed and desolated by evils of life.
“And the holy city shall they trample forty-two months,”
It would disperse every truth of the Word, even so that nothing remained.
Verse 3. “And I will give My two witnesses,”
Those who confess and acknowledge in heart that the Lord is the God of heaven and earth, and that His Human is Divine, and who are conjoined to Him by a life according to the precepts of the Decalogue.
“And they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred [and sixty] days,”
These two articles, the acknowledgment of the Lord, and a life according to the commandments of the Decalogue, which are the two essentials of the New Church, are to be taught until the end and the beginning.
“Clothed in sackcloth,”
Mourning in the meantime on account of the nonreception of truth.
“These are the two olive trees, and the two lampstands, which are standing before the God of the earth,”
Love and intelligence, or charity and faith, from the Lord with them.
Verse 5. “And if anyone will hurt them, fire shall go forth out of their mouth, and shall devour their enemies,”
They who wish to destroy these two essentials of the New Church, will perish from infernal love.
“And if anyone will hurt them, he must thus be killed,”
He who condemns them shall in like manner be condemned.
Verse 6. “These have power to shut heaven, that it rain no rain in the days of their prophecy,”
They who turn themselves away from these two essentials cannot receive any truth from heaven.
“And they have power over the waters to turn them into blood,”
They who turn themselves away from them falsify the truths of the Word.
“And to smite the earth with every plague, as often as they will,”
They who would destroy them, will cast themselves into all kinds of evils and falsities, as often as and as far as they do so.
Verse 7. “And when they shall have finished their testimony,”
After the Lord taught those two essentials of the New Church.
“The beast that ascendeth out of the abyss shall make war with them, and overcome them, and kill them,”
Signifies that they who are in the internals of the doctrine of faith alone will reject these two.
Verse 8. “And their bodies shall lie on the street of the great city,”
They are totally rejected.
“Which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt,”
Two infernal loves, which are the love of dominion from the love of self, and the love of rule from the pride of one’s own intelligence, which exist in the church where one God is not acknowledged, and the Lord not worshiped, and where they do not live according to the precepts of the Decalogue.
“Where also our Lord was crucified,”
Non-acknowledgment of the Lord’s Divine Human, and, consequently, a state of rejection.
Verse 9. “And they of the peoples, and tribes, and tongues, and nations, shall see their bodies three days and a half,”
When all they, who, until the end of the present church and the beginning of the New Church, have been and will be in falsities of doctrine and evils of life from faith alone, have heard and shall hear of these two essentials.
“And shall not permit their bodies to be put into tombs,”
They have condemned and will condemn them.
Verse 10. “And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them and be glad,”
The delight of the affection of the heart and soul in the church among those who were in faith alone.
“And shall send gifts one to another,”
Consociation through love and friendship.
“Because these two prophets tormented them that dwell upon the earth,”
These two essentials of the New Church, by reason of their contrariety in the two essentials in the church of the Reformed, are held in contempt, dislike, and aversion.
Verse 11. “And after three days and a half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet,”
These two essentials, during the commencement and progress of the New Church, with those who receive them, will be vivified by the Lord.
“And great fear fell upon them that saw them,”
Commotion of mind and consternation at Divine truths.
Verse 12. “And they heard a great voice from heaven, saying to them, Come up hither,”
These two essentials of the New Church were taken up by the Lord into heaven, from whence they came, and where they are, and the protection of them.
“And they went up into heaven in a cloud,”
The taking them up into heaven, and conjunction there with the Lord by the Divine truth of the Word in its literal sense.
“And their enemies saw them,”
They who are in faith separated from charity heard them, but remained in their own falsities.
Verse 13. “And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell,”
A remarkable change of state which then took place with them, and that they were torn away from heaven, and cast down into hell.
“And in the earthquake were killed the names of men seven thousand,”
All those who confessed faith alone, and therefore made no account of the works of charity, perished.
“And the rest were terrified, and gave glory to the God of heaven,”
They who saw their destruction acknowledged the Lord, and were separated.
Verse 14. “The second woe is past; behold the third woe cometh quickly,”
Lamentation over the perverted state of the church, and then the last lamentation, to be treated of presently.
Verse 15. “And the seventh angel sounded,”
The exploration and manifestation of the state of the church after the consummation, at the coming of the Lord and of His kingdom.
“And there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of the world are become our Lord’s and His Christ’s, and He shall reign for ages of ages,”
Celebrations by the angels, because heaven and the church are become the Lord’s, as they were from the beginning, and because now they belong to His Divine Human, consequently that now, the Lord as to both will reign over heaven and the church to eternity.
Verse 16. “And the four-and-twenty elders, who sit before God on their thrones, fell upon their faces, and adored God,”
The acknowledgment by all the angels of heaven, that the Lord is the God of heaven and earth, and the highest adoration.
Verse 17. “Saying, We give Thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, who is, and who was, and who is to come,”
Confession and glorification by the angels of heaven, that it is the Lord who is, who has life and power from Himself, and who rules all things, because He alone is eternal and infinite.
“That Thou hast taken Thy great power, and hast entered into the kingdom,”
The New Heaven and the New Church, where they acknowledge Him to be the only God.
Verse 18. “And the nations were angry,”
Those who are in faith alone, and thence in evils of life, that they were enraged, and infested those who are against their faith.
“ And Thy anger is come, and the time of judging the dead,”
Their destruction, and the execution of the Last Judgment upon those who have not any spiritual life.
“And of giving reward to Thy servants the prophets, and to the saints,”
The felicity of eternal life to those who are in the truths of doctrine from the Word, and in a life according to them.
“And to them that fear Thy name, small and great,”
Who love the things which relate to the Lord in a lesser and in a greater degree (n. 527). “And to destroy them that destroy the earth,” signifies the casting of those into hell who have destroyed the church.
Verse 19. “And the temple of God was opened in heaven; and there was seen in His temple the ark of His covenant,”
The New Heaven, in which the Lord in His Divine Human is worshiped; and where they live according to the precepts of His Decalogue, which are the two essentials of the New Church, whereby conjunction is effected.
“And there were lightnings, and voices, and thunders, and an earthquake, and great hail,”
The ratiocinations, commotions, and falsifications of good and truth, that ensued in the lower parts.
Author: Emanuel Swedenborg (Apocalypse Revealed)
THE TWO WITNESSES THAT LAY DEAD IN THE STREET,
AND AFTERWARDS LIVE AGAIN.
And after three days and a 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 heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them (Rev. xi. 11, 12).
THERE are two essential principles which are witnesses to their possessor, and to all the world, that he is a genuine Christian these are fervent LOVE TO GOD and CHARITY To MAN. He in whose heart and life these are predominant is a true servant of God. He who has them not is none of His.
These two supreme virtues form the essence of all religion, and therefore we find them referred to by the prophet Zechariah in similar terms to those used in this chapter by the Apostle John. The prophet beheld in vision two olive trees, on the right and on the left side of a golden candlestick, and it is said they are the two anointed ones that stand before the Lord of the whole earth (Zech. iv. 11-14).
One of the Pharisees, who was a lawyer, asked the Redeemer, in the days of His flesh, Which is the great commandment of the law? Jesus said unto Him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
THIS IS THE FIRST AND GREAT COMMANDMENT. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Matt. xxiii. 37-40).
The whole Bible is indeed these two grand principles drawn out like gold into all the varying appliances of human need. At the bottom of history, parable, precept, prophecy, these two are the bases of the entire Word of God.
They are called olive trees, no doubt, from their soothing influences in the heart, being represented by the varied uses of olive oil–softening, healing, and light-supplying.
The olive, as a representative of love, and of those in whom love is predominant, is an ancient symbol in the Word of God. The trees, when they went out to choose a king, it is said, addressed the olive first, and said, Reign thou over us. But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by me they honor God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? (Judges ix. 8, 9).
Here, evidently, the olive stands for celestial affections, which are estimable to God and man.
David says: I am like tine green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever (Ps. iii. 8). Thus describing the heavenly-minded man, upright and loving in himself, and trusting implicitly in his Heavenly Fathers loving kindness.
It was because of this symbolic meaning of the olive that the doors, posts, and cherubim of the oracle of the temple were constructed of olive wood, and the lamps derived their light from olive oil. The substance of true religion is derived from love, and all the light that shines in the good mans soul is evidence, as the Apostle Paul says, that charity rejoiceth in the truth. When the dove, after the Deluge, came back with an olive leaf in its mouth, it was a sign of the commencement of better things.
The two olive trees and the two candlesticks are said in this chapter (v. 4) to stand before the God of the earth, to intimate that the Lord looks at the heart, and judges men not by the appearance outside, but by the presence of heavenly virtues inside; not by specious words or outward fair-seeming do we stand well before the Divine Judge, but He sees the two olive trees when they are there.
The Lord seeth not as man seeth, for man looketh upon the outward appearance (the eyes), but the Lord looketh upon the heart (1 Sam. xvi. 7).
The two olive trees are accompanied by two candlesticks, to intimate that true heavenly love favors light, receives light, and diffuses it. The two olive trees represent the holy affections of love to God and love to man in the good mans heart, diffusing the oil of joy, and the oil of consolation, the sweet healer of human sorrow, and disposing the intellect to acquire and dispense truth around, that truth may lead to virtue, to happiness, and to heaven.
The chief feature, however, in this chapter, by which the two sacred principles meant by the olive trees are designated, is that they are witnesses, and the Lord’s two witnesses My two witnesses, He calls them (v. 3); and this character or witnessing is a very significative and important one. There are times when earnest souls feel cold and doubting as to the genuine character of their spiritual state. The soul is cast down by inward trouble, and tossing doubts come.
If God would speak to me,
And say He was my friend,
How happy I should be–
Oh, how would I attend.
Now love to God and love to our neighbor are Gods witness in the human breast that we are right with Him. These are gifts from our Heavenly Father, for they are godlike. Now if any man have not the spirit of Christ, says the Apostle Paul, he is none of His (Rom. viii. 9).
It will not be indifferent to a thoughtful man whether or not he is indeed living for heaven. The carnal, careless man may pass on heedlessly, without much troubling himself about his eternal future, because, as to his highest interests, he is asleep. But even he will sometimes be rudely awakened by sickness or sorrow, by a friends sudden death, or a wreck of worldly fortune, to ask himself, How do things really stand with me? Am I ready for the dread realities of an eternal scene?
When dancing round in pleasures ring,
Religion may be blinded;
Or, if it gives a random sting,
It may be little minded.
But, oh! when we are tempest-driven,
And conscience but a canker,
A correspondence fixed with heaven,
Is seen a noble anchor.
We love God first, because we are convinced that God loved us.
The evidences of the Lords love to us are so palpable, so multiplied, both in ourselves and in the universe around us, that they are absolutely more than can be numbered.
The heavens declare the glory of God. The earth is full of His riches. The body, with all its gifts and beauties, the fit temple of an Immortal Mind. The senses, that we may enjoy the universe around, and make its grandeurs our everlasting inheritance–the glorious sun, the silvery moon, the ever-changing, ever-beautiful panorama of the magnificent world. Our bodies, in every part human, made to subserve the mental and affectional dualities of a being formed to be wise and good–in the image and likeness of the Divine Maker.
Our skin is formed that we should not be confined to a narrow range, but may seek intelligence everywhere, all over the world. Our fingers are constructed that we can experiment, manipulate, and diffuse knowledge by the pen, as well as perfect and enjoy our handiwork. Our feet even are arched, so that we can stand and enjoy the firmament above, and the innumerable benefits and lovely things around us, and say, My Father made them all.
We have the daily gifts of food, of air, of light and warmth, of being and well-being. But who can describe our mental gifts? What language can portray the wonders of language? Who can describe the powers and possessions of memory, of reason, of imagination, of the realms of art, of literature, of poetry, of mind and feeling?
And all these glorious things are gifts–are gratuitous.
Our only duty is to receive and to enjoy; and ever-increasingly to receive, and ever-increasingly to enjoy.
Our Maker is our Redeemer too; our Savior from sin; the One Who loves us with more than a brothers love, a fathers, or a mothers. How can we do otherwise than love Him? In one word, He is Jesus.
Jesus, in Whom is the Father–Jesus, Who lived on earth for man, died and rose again for man–Who comes softly to the heart, and knocks at the door–He excites more or less of love in every one. Love, sentimental or solid, intermittent and spasmodic, or persistent and dutiful, is excited in every one. It is the same God which worketh all in all; but the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal (1 Cor. xii. 6, 7).
Whether it will endure and increase, and re-mould the whole man, depends upon whether or not it takes the practical form of obedience to the truth–obedience to the commandments of God.
If thou wilt enter into life (that is, into love), said the Savior, keep the commandments (Matt. xix. 17). This is the love of God (said St. John), that we keep His commandments and His commandments are not grievous (1 John v. 3).
Of course, we must have faith in the Lord, and have faith in His commandments, for without faith it is impossible to please God; but it is a faith whose ground is love, and the results are good works, which alone can be agreeable to our Heavenly Father and Savior.
Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say? is still the expostulation of our best Friend.
How clear are the declarations of the Apostle John on this subject. Hereby we know that we do know Him, if we keep His commandments (chap. ii. 3). He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him (1 John ii. 4, 5).
Plainly, then, the love of God, showing itself in doing the Divine will, and obeying His commandments, is the witness that we are in Him, have been new-born of Him, and are His sons and daughters.
At first, our obedience is very imperfect, and surrounded by many fears and imperfections but as we proceed and persevere, bur love becomes stronger; the love of God, from God, becomes perfected in us, and perfect love casts out fear (1 John iv. 18).
This love of God, therefore, is the first witness; and the more we love the more we know that God loves us, and the more we are happy in His love.
Love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God (v. 7). God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him (v. 16).
While our attainments in the heavenly life are feeble and imperfect, our capacity for loving God will be weak and intermittent; but with steady obedience it will increase and expand, until it will form in us an inner heaven–a constant spirit of love, wisdom, joy and peace. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God (Rom. viii. 16).
But there is a second witness. This commandment have we from Him, That he who loveth God loveth his brother also (1 John iv. 21). We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren (1 John iii. 14).
The power of loving is the very jewel of the Christian life. It is not liking, for that depends on susceptibility, taste, subserviency, pleasure, or selfishness. The eagle likes the lamb which it devours. But love is the glowing desire to do good to others, to aid them, and make them happy.
Sympathy is a sweet and hallowed thing. Sympathy softens human life, and imparts and receives innumerable satisfactions. Sympathy heightens joy, and lessens suffering. We yearn for sympathy, and enjoy it as a present comfort. But love is a principle far higher; it is the spirit of promoting another’s good, unalloyed by any selfish aim. Love is the desire to elevate and bless others. It rejoices in another’s joy; it mourns with another’s sorrow. It is self-forgetful. It does good, and lends its powers and efforts to advance the general good, hoping for nothing in return.
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men, was the utterance of the angels of heaven; and in the souls of those men who are becoming angels the two witnesses will ever be suggesting the same sentiments, and they bear witness that the hearts in which they dwell are prepared for heaven. Already there is in them a little heaven.
At the commencement of this chapter, John says an angel addressed him, and said, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court, which is without the temple, leave out, and measure it not, for it is given unto the Gentiles, and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
The temple, the altar, and the worshippers, stand for the Church in heaven, and in the interiors of heavenly-minded men.
They might be measured, for they remained an example of purity, order, and peace. The court means the Church on earth, the external Church, according to frequent scriptural usage. A day in Thy courts is better than a thousand. Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God (Ps. xcii. 13).
The court being given to the Gentiles, measure it not means that the Church upon earth would be desecrated by worldliness. The world would take possession of the Church, and masquerade as a Church. Measure it not. It is not worth while. As a Church it is worthless.
This happened in the days of Constantine, when wealth was poured out for the Church, and especially for the clergy, and the spirit of self-seeking and ostentation became as rife as it was the empire.
This era has often been regarded as a glorious one for the Church, and Constantine as its nursing father. Worldly churchmen have glorified the time, because earthly splendor and pomp were offered and received by its dignitaries; but true judgment pronounces a very different conclusion.
The semi-pagan Constantine’s cruel victory over the entire pagan Maxentius has been trumpeted forth by worldly churchmen as the triumph of Christianity.
Spiritual progress is not advanced by horrible warfares and political intrigues, or the earthly triumph of this party or that. Hear what Wesley truly states as the result of Constantines adhesion, and you will not be astonished that his whole life was stained by murders and other serious crimes, and he deferred baptism until the hour of death, under the vain expectation that the outward ceremony would make him entirely pure; at a time when he could not again lose the spotlessness he imagined to be attained.
The venerable founder of Methodism, in his sermon on the Mystery of Iniquity, says, The whole essence of religion was struck in the fourth century by Constantine the Great, when he called himself a Christian, and poured a flood of riches, honor and power upon the Christians, more especially upon the clergy. Then was fulfilled in the Christian Church what Sallust says of the people of Rome: Sublata imperii amula, non sensim, sed praecipiti cursu, a virtutibus descitum, ad vitia transcursum. Just so. When the fear of persecution was removed, and wealth and honor attended the Christian profession, the Christians did not gradually sink, but rushed headlong into all manner of vices.
Then the mystery of iniquity was no more hid, but stalked abroad in the face of the sun. Then not the golden, but the iron, age of the Church commenced. Then one might truly say–
At once in that unhappy age broke in
All wickedness, and every deadly sin;
Truth, modesty, and love fled far away,
And force and thirst of gold claimed universal sway.
And this is the event which most Christian expositors mention with such triumph; yea, which some of them suppose to be typified in the Revelation by the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven. Rather say it was the coming of Satan and all his legions from the bottomless pit, seeing from that very time he hath set up his throne over the face of the whole earth, and reigned over the Christian as well as the pagan world, without hardly any control.
There can be no doubt by a thoughtful, well-informed mind, that Wesley’s statement is the exact truth.
The world took bodily possession of the Church, and proceeded to perform Church in its way.
First, the Bishop of Rome began striving to make out he was the greatest of bishops, and soon that he was greater than the Emperor of the Roman world.
He continued the conflict amidst quarrels, wars, and animosities, during centuries, swelling up until he claimed to be far above all kings and rulers, and required these to kiss his feet.
The Cardinals were created to perform the part of princes in the Church, spiritual barons to correspond with the temporal barons, and the clergy to be above all secular law. Astounding titles were invented, sinful men styled Holinesses, Eminences, Right Reverend Fathers, while equally astounding millinery was called into vogue, that these followers of the pure, meek, and lowly Jesus might parade themselves in tawdry finery.
In a short time, curious calculations were made as to how much a pope was greater than an emperor, founded upon the assumption that the pope was like the sun, and the emperor like the moon.
One writer, La Close, maintained, after exact calculation, that the papal throne was forty-seven times greater than the empire. A canonist, Laurentius, discovered that the more correct reckoning was that the Pope was one thousand seven hundred and forty-four times greater than kings;
while a third, Bodin, completed the rectification, and reduced it to a caricature, by shewing that, if we believe Ptolemy and the Arabs, the Pope is six thousand six hundred and forty-five and seven-eighth times greater than kings, neither more nor less. * * F. Laurent, LEmprie et la Papaute.
But what has all this to do with the religion of the New Testament, with the Spirit of the Divine Savior? Not a word of all this pretense and parade is to be found in the teachings of the Lord Jesus or His Apostles. The very reverse is taught.
Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you; whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister, and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant, even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister (Matt. xx. 25-28). Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Whoso shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, shall not enter therein.
How, then, had this strange alteration come about? Simply as declared in this chapter; for the Gentiles (worldly, unregenerate men) having taken possession of the externals of the Church, the COURT, trampled the internal Church, THE HOLY CITY, under foot forty and two months.
The periods named are all different forms of three and a half.
Forty and two months (v. 2) are three years and a halt The one thousand two hundred and three-score days (v. 3) are also three rears and a half, and the witnesses are said to come to life again after three days and a half (v. 11). Three and a half, in the spiritual idea, signifies one dispensation, or Church completed-beginning, middle, and end; and a half means the commencement of a new one. When the Church was, as we have seen, corrupted in the time of Constantine, and immersed in Gentile degradation, though good men here and there remained in it, and struggled against its vices and impieties, yet it became less and less a Church, and more and more a SUPERSTITION, to the end, in the last century. The Bernards, the Savanarolas, the Fenelons, the Wickliffes, and the Waldenses, stood against it with all their feeble power, but in vain–the canker spread.
The two witnesses prophesied in faithful souls from time to time, but prophesied in sackcloth–that is, in mourning and lamentation.
Holy affections strove yet to sustain themselves; but, is the increase of iniquity, the more they strove to arrest it the more they excited rage and contempt.
All who strove to inflict death, spiritual death, upon them, inflicted death upon themselves.
They did not intend to kill anyone, but to do them good. The effect, however, of the most perfect love upon enraged and opposing minds is to excite their opposition, even to agony and hate. A comparatively young man whom I once knew, when dying, having lived in hatred of what is good, on his innocent baby being brought to look upon and embrace him, he shrieked, Take the little fiend away!
The Savior Himself, though meekness and goodness embodied, excited the Pharisees and the misled multitude to the most violent passions, which found vent in hateful cries; Crucify Him! crucify Him!
The witnesses have power to shut heaven against all who reject and condemn them–in fact, they are heaven.
For love within itself includes
The source of all beatitudes,
And they who act from love,
Whateer they do, find pleasure still;
Performing thus their Father’s will,
His nameless peace they prove.
But no rain, no heavenly influence, no living water, can descend upon those who reject and hate the two great principles of love to God and love to man. When opposing them, their water will be turned into blood, their truth into falsity; perversion and corruption, and self-inflicted misery, will plague and harass them as long as they oppose.
At the utter end of the Church, when they have finished their testimony, a fearful outbreak of the deadliest evil, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit, shall destroy the two witnesses, so far as they are concerned. They shall reject heavenly affections as at all necessary to salvation, exult over having cast out love to God and charity to their neighbor as at all needful to real Christianity; for if a man will confess himself to belong to their faith, or some tenet they deem essential, even at the hour of death, it will be quite enough. Sola fides. Believe as the Church tells you. FAITH ALONE.
No repentance necessary, no working gut your salvation with fear and trembling; no doing unto others as you would they should do unto you, upon which hangs all the law and the prophets; no craving for more love, and wrestling against your sins in the power of your Savior.
Believe, and all your sins forgiven;
Only believe, and yours is heaven.
Nothing, either great or small,
Jesus did it, did it all,
Long, long ago.
Till to Jesus work yon cling,
By a simple faith,
Doing is a deadly thing;
Doing ends in death.
Cast your deadly doing down,
Down at Jesus feet;
Stand in Him, in Him alone,
Thus the two great essentials of religion have been rejected, slain, lying in the street, as of no concern on the way td heaven, as judgment, truth, and equity were in Isaiahs time. Judgment is turned away backward, and justice stands afar off, for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter (Isaiah lix. 14).
The two witnesses were not even to have graves, as things that were unworthy of resurrection. The ancient idea was that when the body was buried the soul was rising; hence the very old practice of the tolling of a bell at the funeral, implying
Mortals say a man is dead,
Angels, a child is born.
But these were not to have graves, nor resurrection. In due time, however, midnight passes, and a new morning begins. The two witnesses were dead to men, but not to God. No real Church can exist without them. The God of Heaven will not leave the world, or no flesh could be saved. The world would become a den of wild beasts, and universal savagery would end in universal destruction. The remnant of good people here and there prevent that, and in these few the Spirit of the Divine Savior flows again, and gives life to the two witnesses, and animates good souls to proclaim again love to God and love to the neighbor to be the supreme, the essential principle of all religion, the very essence of heaven.
When this truth is announced again by an earnest few, it is undeniable, indisputable–it stands on its feet.
The Divine cloud of witnesses, the whole letter of the Bible, surrounds them and proclaims, On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
What is religion?–tis to love
Our God with all the heart;
In charity with all men prove,
And good to all impart.
In the Old Testament, equally with the New, love is taught as the very ground-work and essence of all salvation.
Because he hath set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known My name. With long life will I satisfy him, and grant him My salvation (Ps. xci. 14-16). The Lord preserveth them that love Him (Ps. cxlv. 20). Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little (Luke vii. 47).
Love believes the promises and the commandments, and hence arises FAITH. With the heart a man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth makes confession unto salvation.
Love and faith, like fire and water, give birth to force, and hence produce good works, heavenly deeds, and heavenly words: FAITH WORKING BY LOVE (Gal. v. 6).
Now the end of the commandment is charity (or love) out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned (1 Tim. i. 5).
Above all things, then, put on charity (or love), which is the bond of perfectness (Coll. iii. 14).
Then let us all in love abound,
And charity pursue;
So shall we soon in heaven be crowned,
And love as angels do.
While those who reject the two witnesses, and persist in phantasies of their own, fall into troubles, and fremors, mental earthquakes, and difficulties, the happy followers of the two witnesses will grow more into the religion of love and life. Love will fill the Church, the state, the business and avocations of the world. Employers will pray from love. Workmen will labor from love. Over them, as an the glad morn before in Bethlehem, the angels song will be heard. The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign for ever and ever (Rev. xi. 15).
Author: JONATHAN BAYLEY—– THE MAGNIFICENT SCENES IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION (1878)