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the incestuous Herodias was so deeply wounded by the reproof of John the Baptist, she could think of nothing but revenge. Even the near presence of a saint has sometimes filled his adversaries with terror; hence the exclamation of Ahab upon meeting with Elijah, · Hast thou found me, O mine ene. my?' 1 Kings xxi. 20.-As these prophets were continually reminding the inhabitants of the earth of their abominations and idolatries, and pointing out the fearful tendency of their iniquitous practices, they were a restraint upon their gratifications, and the cause of their feeling much uneasiness and pain. Hence, as they now flattered themselves that they were delivered from these ungracious monitors, they no sooner saw them numbered with the dead, than they were filled with the most extravagant mirth.
But the triumphs of the wicked are of short duration; they are like the crackling of thorns under a pot, noisy and clamorous, but short-lived. Such was the triumph of the adversaries of the witnesses; for we are told in ver. 11., that 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. The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of life, because he has life essentially and necessarily in himself, and because he is the author of life to the souls of his people.—He is called the Spirit of life from God, because he proceedeth from the Father, and because, in all his economical operations, he acts by a power which has been received from him, as the head of that economy.—This living and lifegiving Spirit entered into the witnesses, and then they rose up from the state of death in which they were lying. And as this resurrection took place when their enemies were intoxicated with mirth on occasion of their death, it must have been the more confounding, that it was an event so very unexpected. This resurrection is not meant of bodies, but of the pub. lic cause and interest for which the witnesses had been slain. We have no reason to expect a resurrection of the bodies of martyrs, or of any other set of men, till the day of the general
resurrection. The predicted event is of the same general character with what is described in the 37th chapter of Ezekiel, under the emblem of a resurrection; and also with that which is described in a subsequent part of this book, and is called the first resurrection, chap. xx. 5. It must correspond with the slaying formerly spoken of. That slaying cannot be meant of killing, literally; for as the witnesses are represented as being only two, if both had been actually put to death, the cause of truth would have perished in the earth. As the slaying must be understood figuratively, the resurrection must be understood in the same sense; whatever is meant by the one, something opposite in the condition of the witnesses must be intended by the other. The import of both figures will be best understood by the statement of facts which will be afterwards given, from the history of the period to which we apprehend this prophecy refers.—We therefore proceed to notice what is farther mentioned respecting them, as in
Ver. 12. 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. The word heaven must be understood symbolically; for if it were meant literally, the enemies of truth would have had greater cause of rejoicing than ever, because the translation of both witnesses to the state of glory would have left them without a tormentor upon the earth. As heaven is meant of the church, their ascension must be the figure of some high attainments as an ecclesiastical body. When they stood upon their feet, it was only as individuals among the crowded population of the market-place, where they could hardly be noticed'; but when they ascended into heaven, they rose to a more conspicuous and honourable station. Their resurrection might be the revival of a spirit of attachment to the cause for which they had suffered; and their ascension might be the more luminous, perfect, and regular exhibition of it. In this last state they appeared to act in concert, and to move in one direction, for the same cloud was the vehicle of conveyance for both. Some
have supposed that the cloud is intended to intimate some defect, imperfection, or degree of obscurity, with which their condition would still be attended. Clouds are no doubt the figures of what is dark and distressing; but when they are spoken of in connexion with an ascension, we must conceive of something that is opposed to a scene of affliction. The coming of Christ to the judgment of the world, when he will appear in the grandest displays of his glory, is to be in the clouds; and when he went up into heaven, a cloud, we are told, received him out of the sight of the disciples. Here the figure is manifestly intended to heighten our ideas of their attainments. Like their glorified Master, they ascended in the chariot of a cloud.
As adding to the grandeur of this interesting scene, the whole population of the mystical Sodom and Egypt are represented as gazing with terror at their ascent; their enemies beheld them. This clause is intended to shew how greatly their adversaries were both mortified and alarmed. Nothing is more galling to a proud spirit than the advancement of a rival; and nothing could have vexed the spirits of adversaries more than to see that all the butchery of persecution was lost labour, and that those whom they had put to death were more than ever alive, and were now elevated to a station where they seemed to be beyond the reach of harm ; at the same time they could not fail to be alarmed, lest their violent dealings might be returned upon their own heads. It was with strong and mingled emotions of indignation and terror that they beheld them.
The prophecy is concluded with an account of some very remarkable events, which were contemporaneous with the change of circumstances in the condition of the witnesses, as in ver. 13.; 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 seven thousand : and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.-Concerning the general import of this figure there is scarcely any diversity of opinion, as an
earthquake is invariably taken to denote a revolution. The only point that is necessary to be settled, is the nature of this revolution, whether it be a change of civil policy, or of religious sentiment. The connexion of matter furnishes a very strong presumption in favour of the latter opinion ; for the prophet is here speaking of those things only in which religion is immediately concerned ; and the coincidence of time with the ascension of the witnesses, being in the same hour with that unexpected event, greatly corroborates that opinion. But the matter will appear to be beyond a doubt, when you consider the general character of the society which this earthquake affected; it shook the walls, and threw down a considerable part of the buildings of the mystical city. And as this city is intended of the church of Rome, the earthquake must be intended to symbolize a revolution of religious sentiment among a considerable proportion of those who were in fellowship with her. With whatever changes in political states it might be accompanied, a change of sentiment in matters of religion appears to be the thing immediately intended.
In this violent shock of the symbolical earthquake, a tenth part of the city fell. The word part is a supplement, and is rather unhappily introduced, as it is fitted to impress our minds with the idea, that though the concussion might be felt over the whole city, its ruinous effects would appear only in a certain quarter. Without the supplement it will read thus, And the tenth or tithe of the city fell. The allusion is to that proportion of the produce of the Jewish fields which was allotted for the maintenance of the priests. This you know was collected not from one district only, but from the different fields of the territory of the church. To take the whole from any one region, would not correspond with the idea of tithing. And as the jurisdiction of the mystical city extended over all the districts of the Roman earth, we must conceive of this tithe, as collected from all those regions. In some of them the shock might be more violent, and its effect much more ruinous to the city, than in others; but in all of them it would be more or less sensibly felt, and a change would be produced in the minds, either of a greater or less number of the inhabitants.
It is seldom that a revolution happens without blood, or that an earthquake throws down any part of a populous city, without burying some of the inhabitants among the ruins. It is in allusion to the destruction of human lives, as well as to the destruction and loss of property, we are told, that in this earthquake there were slain of men seven thousand.-When we consider the extent of the city, and the crowded state of its population, we are surprised that the sufferers did not exceed the number of seven thousand. But what is here called seven thousand men, ought to have been rendered seven thousand names of men. If this expression were equivalent to the Hebrew phraseology, men of name, for men of renown, we would then conclude, that the slaughter was to be very considerable; because if seven thousand, who were distinguished by their birth, their station, their talents, or exploits, were to perish in this catastrophe, what multitudes of the lower orders must have been crushed by the fall of the buildings, or swallowed up in the terrible chasms and gulphs which were opened by the shock ? But if John had meant the same thing by names of men, which men of name is intended to signify, it is more than probable that he would have adopted the same phraseology. As we have no other text in Scripture, which contains an expression precisely parallel to the one here used, to put any other interpretation upon it than the literal meaning of the words will bear, would be merely conjectural. We are therefore shut up to understand it according to the literal and obvious meaning of the terms, viz. That in this earthquake destruction was to be brought upon the names, titles, or designations of men.
If the earthquake were meant of some political change, we would conclude that this slaying of names was intended to intimate, that titles of civil rank and distinction were to be abo lished. But as this change was chiefly to affect the Antichristian state, the slaying of these names must be understood of something which was to prove destructive to the names or