Page images
PDF
EPUB

state and temple, when their faith should be sufficiently confirmed. So the reformed christian, when he shall see the total fall of the mystical Babylon, he may with confidence lift up his head and rejoice, knowing, of a certainty, that his redemption by the second coming of his Lord and master draweth nigh.

Verse 8th. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, (and Jerusalem*) where also our Lord was crucified.

It is remarkable, that throughout the revelation, whenever Rome is intended under any figure, she has the appellation of great, prefixed-as Babylon the great-the great harlot-great city, &c. &c. and by Rome or its figures, the whole empire or state is meant, as it was so usually understood in that day; thus civitas Romæ is translated by civil law writers, "the empire of Rome."†

* May not the words (and Jerusalem) be fairly understood here, and from the whole scope of the verse, seem to have been accidentally omitted in copying-then the city where the witnesses are to be slain and in whose streets they are to lie, is typified by those three remarkable cities, Sodom before the law-Egypt since the law-and Jerusalem under the gospel.— It is evident that Isaiah in i. 10. calls Jerusalem Sodom and Gomorrah, as guilty of equal transgressions.

Hear ye the word of Jehovah, O ye princes of Sodom;
Give ear to the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.
Lowth's Isaiah.

The word city when applied to Rome, means the empire of Rome; as by a person free of the city, is generally under

It may also be noted as a key to the allegory in the text, as well as several others in the revelations, that whatever is remarkable in the plagues of Sodom and Egypt, are applied in this vision to the empire of Rome, and are to be interpreted mystically, and explained thereby.

Although these witnesses shall thus be slain to all human and outward appearance, or these institutions and ordinances be so totally done away and brought into disuse by the conduct of the government of the beast; and contemned and despised by the nation at large, and in every national view, past the probability of ever being brought into practice and observance again, yet their dead bodies shall remain, and that plainly and openly lying in the street-By this is meant these institutions being abolished in practice, and opposed by other institutions and practices adopted in their room, wholly opposed and in contradiction to them; yet there shall be no positive law or formal decree enacted, with fines and penalties expressly destroying them, so as to render those who may persist in the observance of them, obnoxious to these pains and penalties.-But from general and universal practice, and the contrary nature and tendency of those adopted to contravene them, and which please and indulge the taste and temper of the people at large, tending more to gratify and advance the wishes and desires of the populace, they will be

stood, a person free of the empire-Civitas is generally translated empire. Preface to Vatel's Law of Nations.

brought not only to lose every idea of their spiritual use and importance, but will be led to despise and hate them. They will be taught to consider them as oppressive and burthensome; being merely imposed by the evil designs of their enemies, to subject the people to their will and pleasure-Hence it shall generally appear, as if the worship of God, the instructions of his word and an attendance on his ordinances, were wholly abolished; and they will be so considered by the people of that nation.

Mr Daubuz, already mentioned, says, 66 by this figure is shown that the worship of God shall be banished from the capital of corrupted christendom, as well as from its whole jurisdiction, and be there more particularly scorned and profaned. It shows that the persecution of the saints, shall be in those very countries, where, before this period, the church of God was planted; but more particularly in the capital city-Therefore the holy city, being the symbol of the whole christian church, the dead bodies of the saints shall be all over, and be seen upon it dead; and by consequence, that which is the true worship, shall be thought expelled from it and all its territories.-These symbols show an utter desolation and ruin of God's people as a church, and the extinction of the true worship, in the chief and principal parts of these dominions wherein it was established, seeing that it is so in the capital city:*"

* Fol. 518.

By the street of the city we are not to understand, what is generally meant by that expression, for it ought to have been translated, in a distant part of the city, or Roman empire, meaning in one of the provinces formerly belonging to it, or of the kingdoms into which it was divided.

The Roman empire, now become Rome christian, is usually in scripture denominated the spiritual Egypt-Sodom and mystical Babylon;* and in our humble opinion, is also here compared to Jerusalem, on account of her having slain these witnesses of God; and as our Lord was crucified without the city of Jerusalem, which was now a Roman province, so these witnesses must be slain and their dead bodies lie in one of the then provinces or kingdoms into which the empire was to be divided.

But I would not contend about trifles; if a more literal interpretation should be preferred, by confining the words strictly to the tenor of them, then, by the city, either the Roman empire at large may have been prefigured-it being spiritually or mystically called Egypt for its spiritual tyranny-Sodom for its spiritual fornication-Babylon for its spiritual idolatry, and is compared to Jerusalem for the crucifixion of our Lord; or it may be some one great city, in one of the kingdoms famous for its wickedness.

The famous Mr Gibbon, in his 2d vol. of the decline of the Roman empire, fol. 304, says, "the epithet," Babylon," was applied to the city and to the empire of Rome."

Verse 9th. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half; and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.

These people, kindred, tongues and nations are supposed not to be friends of the beast, or enemies of the witnesses; but opposers of the government of the beast, and collected together for and combining in opposition, to him-They are different from and averse to those mentioned in the next verse, who dwell upon the earth, and rejoice over the destruction of the witnesses-By means of their opposition, the government of the beast will be prevented from totally destroying the small portion of the worship and ordinances of God, which now only remain, by positive and penal laws, so as to cover their dead bodies as if put into graves, or absolutely and irrecoverably suppressed and destroyed, by preventing and punishing the private attention of any serious and devout mind, to these witnesses of God.

But this government of the beast will be kept from this last grade of their enmity and hatred to the service of God, by the fear of losing all character and reputation with the nations around them, though in opposition and inimical to them*-But this state of

"The Convention of France had agreed that there should no longer be any other divinity than Reason, and the Country-it had legally established atheism. These absurd decrees created universal indignation among foreign Nations-Danton" (being accused of this, was made the 'scape

« PreviousContinue »