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it will still give us no certain information respecting the precise period of Christ's return, which must be some time before this happy era, as He must first “ be revealed in flaming fire, taking vengeance" on His enemies. But at his coming, believers shall be removed from all subsequent troubles, being caught up to meet Him. $I tell you," said the Saviour,“ in that night there shall be two in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.” Luke xvii. 34. In the hope of being fellow-heirs of this blessedness, “the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and the patient waiting for Christ.” 2 Thess. iii. 5. “ Take ye heed, watch and
know not when the time is. For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore ; for
e ye know not when the Master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning ; lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you, I say unto all Watch.” Mark xiii, 33--37. "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning, and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord, when he will return from the wedding ; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching." Luke xii. 35--37. “ Take
” heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch
there. fore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” Luke xxi. 31--35. 6. For yourselves know perfectly, that the day of of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. ...Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” 1 Thess. v. 2, 6. "The end of all things is at hand : be ye therefore sober and watch unto prayer.' 1 Pet. iv. 7. “ Having therefore these promises, dearly
beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 2 Cor. vii. l. “ For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ : Who shall change our vile body, that it may be like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is even able to subdue all things unto himself.” Phil. iii. 20, 21. “And the very
“ God of peace sanctify you wholly: and I pray God your whole spirit, and soul, and body, be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thess. v. 23. "When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe, (because our testimony among you was believed,) in that day.” 2 Thess. i. io. “So that ye come behind in no gift ; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Cor. i. 7,8. “Keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ; which in h's times he shall show, who is he blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.” 1 Tim. vi. 14, 15. “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season: reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine ; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, haying itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things." 2 Tim. iv. 1-5. “ Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God ind our Saviour Jesus Christ.” Titus ï. 13. “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised ;) and let us consider one another, to provoke unto love, and to good works; not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another, and so much the more, as ye see the day ap
proaching ....Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” Heb. x. 23—25, 35--37. “Be patient, therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient: stablish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” James v. 7,8. "And now, little children, abide in him; that when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming." 1 John ii. 28. “He which testifieth these things saith, surely 1 come quickly: Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus." Rev. xxii. 20.
THE TWO WITNESSES.
Rev. xi. 3. “I will give power unto my Two Witnesses, and they shall prophecy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth."
Two different explanations of this prophecy have been given, by opposing interpreters on entirely different principles. The first regards the language as figurative, and seeks its meaning in some historical event which has occurred at some period subsequent to the rise of popery. The second adhering to the literal sense, regards the prophecy as yet unfulfilled, and believes the two witnesses shall be two persons who shall arise and bear testimony for God in a manner altogether peculiar and extraordinary. The former object to the literal interpretation, because, as they conceive, it involves an absurdity. They seem to think that any * Supplementary to the present Edition-By the Rev, I. P. Labagh.
explanation which carries us out of the ordinary course of God's providence, is to be viewed with suspicion; and especially if it savours of the marvellous, should yield to one brought more within the compass of probability. But shall this be adjudged sufficient ground for departing from the literal sense ? Shall it be considered as taxing our credulity too much to believe, for example—that two bona fide saints of a former dispensation shall be commissioned to appear in their own proper bodies to give the world, and especially the church a last solemn warning of the near approach of her Judge and King? With God this is not impossible; then why should it be deemed more remarkable or incredible to us than that many of the saints, after the resurrection of Christ, were called from their graves, and were sent into the holy city to appear unto many as witnesses that the Lamb that had been slain was the Resurrection and the Life? If, then, we are not driven from the literal sense by any absurdity, why depart from it? If any evidence were wanting of the evil of abandoning the plain import of the language, it is furnished by the utter impossibility of determining spiritually who, or what the two witnesses are. Some say the Waldenses and Albigenses; others, the Old and New Testaments,-Baptism and the Lord's Supper. For the “water and blood bear witness on earth.”. i John v. 8. Water in baptism and the cup of the New Testament, in Christ's blood, in the Supper. But the power
of these two witnesses to turn water to blood, shut up heaven, &c., their death, exposure in a particular place, resurrection, ascension, Rev. xi. 6– 12, will scarcely agree with the Waldenses. Testaments, or Sacraments. While we may admit, that these have been, in a certain sense, witnesses for God, as well as meeting houses, Sabbath days, and many other things belonging to Christianity, does it thence follow that the persons spoken of, Rev. xi. 3, will not be literal persons? Who dare say that Christ will not yet prove, by occular demonstration, that if men will not believe Moses and the Prophets, they will not believe, though some rise from the dead.
But it may be inquired, If we reject the spiritual or figurative meaning, and cling to the literal, who then are the two witnesses? In answering so grave a question as this, it behooves us to speak with great modesty; and we would rather submit our view for investigation, than affirm it positively to be the “mind of the Spirit.” Of one thing, however, we feel assured; that the prophecy of Revelation, xi. is an unfulfilled prophecy—that it relates principally to the Jewish people, the scene being laid in the holy land—v. 1. and the usual distinction between that people and the rest of the world, being mentioned in v. 2. Now may not the two witnesses be of that people,—and be sent to them, and confine their labors especially to them? If, as we learn from the prophets, the Jews will be restored to their own land in an unconverted state, and will inhabit it some little time before they “ look on Him whom they have pierced," Zech. xii. 10, then may it well consist with the mercy of the Lord to that people, to send them some of his most distinguished servants to bring them to the faith of the Messiah, and to prepare them to receive their king 66 whose feet shall soon stand on Mount Zion;" for unless their “hearts are turned to their fathers,” they will not be “ able to abide his coming.” And who, of all the ancient servants of God to that people, would be best qualified for this work? There are two of their ancient prophets who are regarded by that people as the greatest and holiest men that ever lived--and who would naturally exercise a greater influence over them than any others that ever lived. Those are Moses and Elias; both eminent for the services they rendered to that people, and both remarkable for the manner in which they closed their lives; God himself, taking charge of their bodies, when called to rest from their labours. May not these be the persons, the very Two Witnesses; The two olive trees; that is, sons of oil, or annointed ones; The two candlesticks, or “burning lights.” “ which stand in the presence of the Lord of the whole earth,” as ministering spirits, ready to depart on any mission in which they may glorify God. If it be asked, why Moses and