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Which was remarkably the case, in the dark times of popery : but since the reformation, the number of those appearing on the side of true religion, has been far from being so small. The visible church of Christ has been vastly large, in comparison of what it was before: the number of Protestants has sometimes been thought nearly equal to that of the Papists; and doubtless the number of true saints has been far greater than before.
4. It seems to be signified in prophecy, that after the reformation Antichrist should never prevail against the church of Christ any more, as he had done before. I cannot but think, that whoever reads and well considers what the learned Mr. Lowman has written on the five first vials, Rev. xvi., in his late exposition on the Revelation, must think it to be very manifest, that what is said ver. 10, of the pouring out of the fifth vial on the throne of the beast (for so it is in the original), is a prophecy of the reformation. Then the vial of God's wrath was poured out on the throne of the beast, i. e., according to the language of Scripture, on his authority and dominion, greatly to weaken and diminish it, both in extent and degree. But when this is represented in the prophecy, then it is added, and his kingdoin was full of darkness, and they gnawed their tongues for pain. If we consider what is commonly intended by such like phrases in the Scripture, I think we shall be naturally, and as it were necessarily led to understand those words thus : their policy, by which heretofore they have prevailed, shall now fail them; their authority shall be weakened, and their dominion greatly diminished, and all their craft and subtilty shall not avail them to maintain and support the throne of the beast, or ever again to extend his authority so far as it had been before extended, and to recover what it lost; but all their crafty devices to this end shall be attended with vexatious, tormenting disappointment; they that have the management of the affairs of the beast's kingdom, shall henceforward grope as in the dark, and stumble and be confounded in their purposes, plots and enterprises ; formerly their policy was greatly successful, was as a light to guide them to their ends, but now their kingdom shall be full of darkness, and their wisdom shall fail them in all their devices to subdue, and again to bring under the church of God.
The Scripture takes notice of the great policy and subtilty of the powers that support this kingdom, Dan. vii. 8: " And behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man.” So it is said of Antiochus Epiphanes, that great type of Antichrist, Dan. viii. 23," A king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up." Verse 25, “ And through his policy also, shall he cause craft to prosper in his hand." This understanding and policy is the light of this kingdom, as true wisdoın is the light of the spiritual Jerusalem. And therefore when this light fails, then may the kingdom of this spiritual Egypt be said to be full of darkness. God henceforward will defend his people from these mystical Egyptians, as he defended Israel of old from Pharaoh and his host, when pursuing after them, by placing a cloud and darkness in their way, and so not suffering them to come nigh. So he will protect his church from the men of that city that is spiritually called Sodom, as Lot's house, wherein were the angels, was defended from the men of Sodom, by their being smitten with darkness or blindness, so that they wearied themselves to find the door: and as God defended the city in which was Elisha the prophet and witness of the Lord, from the Syrians, when they compassed it about with horses and chariots and a great host to apprehend him, by smiting them with blindness. The Scripture teaches us, that God is wont in this way to defend his church and people from their crafty and powerful enemies : Job v. 11, &c., “ To set up on laigh those that be low, that those which mourn may be exalted to safety: he disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise : he taketh the wise in their own craftiness, and the counsel of the
froward is carried headlong: they meet with darkness in the daytime, and grope - in the noonday as in the night : but he saveth the poor from the sword, from their mouth, and from the hand of the mighty. Psal. xxxv. 4, 6, “ Let them be confounded and put to shame, that seek after my soul : let them be turned back, and brought to confusion, that devise my hurt.-Let their way be dark and slippery."
Such defence of God's Protestant church, and disappointment and confusion of all the subtle devices, deep laid schemes, and furious attempts of their Antichristian enemies, to bring them under and root them out, and their seeing them still maintaining their ground, and subsisting in an independency on them, in spite of all that they do, makes them as it were gnash their teeth, and bite their tongues for mere rage and vexation ; agreeably to Psal. cxii. 9, 10, “ His righteousness endureth forever, his horn shall be exalted with honor: the wicked shall see it and be grieved, and gnash with his teeth and melt away: the desire of the wicked shall perish.”
Hitherto this prophecy has been very signally fulfilled ; since the reformation, the kingdom of Antichrist has been remarkably filled with dakness in this respect. Innumerable have been the crafty devices, and great attempts of the church of Rome, wherein they have exerted their utmost policy and power, to recover their lost dominions, and again to subjugate the Protestant nations, and subdue the northern heresy, as they call it. They have wearied themselves in these endeavors for more than two hundred years past. But have hitherto been disappointed; and have often been strangely confounded. When their matters seemed to be brought to a ripeness, and they triumphed as though their point was gained, their joy and triumph was suddenly turned into vexation and torment. How many have been their politic and powerful attempts against the Protestant interest in our nation, in particular ! And how wonderfully has God disappointed them from time to time! And as God has hitherto so remarkably fulfilled his word in defending his Protestant church from Antichrist, so I think we have ground to trust in him, that he will defend it to the end.
5. The hypothesis of those that suppose the slaying of the witnesses is a thing that yet remains to be fulfilled, makes the prophecies of the Revelation to be inconsistent one with another. According to their hypothesis, that battle Rev. xi. 7, wherein the beast makes war with the witnesses, and overcomes them, and kills them, is the last and greatest conflict between Antichrist and the church of Christ, that is to precede the utter overthrow of the Antichristian kingdom. And they must suppose so; for they suppose, that immediately after the sufferings the church shall endure in that war, she shall arise, and as it were ascend into heaven ; i. e., as they interpret it, the church shall be directly advanced to her latter day rest, prosperity and glory. And consequently, this conflict must be the same with that great battle between Antichrist and the church, that is described chap. xvi. 13, to the end, and more largely chap. xix. 11, to the end. For that which is described in these places, is most evidently and indisputably the greatest and last battle or conflict that shall be between the church and her Antichristian enemies; on which the utter downfall of Antichrist, and the church's advancement to her latter day glory, shall be iminediately consequent. And so the earthquake that attends the resurrection of the witnesses, chap. xi. 13, must be the same with that great earthquake that is described, chap. xvi. 18. And the falling of the tenth part of the city must be the same with that terrible and utter destruction of Antichrist's kingdom, chap. xvi. 17, to the end.
But these things cannot be. The battle chap. xi. 7, cannot be the same with that last and great battle between the church and Antichrist described, chapters xvi. and xix. For the things that are said of one and the other, and their issue, are in no wise consistent. In that battle, chap. xi., the church of God conflicts with her enemies in sorrow, sackcloth and blood: but in the other the matter is represented exceedingly otherwise; the church goes forth to fight with Antichrist, not in sackcloth and blood, but clothed in white raiment, Christ himself before them, as their captain, going forth in great pomp and magnificence, upon a white horse, and on his head many crowns,
and on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of kings, and Lord of lords; and the saints that follow so glorious a Leader to this great battle, follow him on white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, in garments of strength, joy, glory and triumph ; in the same kind of raiment, that the saints appear in, when they are represented as triumphing with Christ, with palms in their hands, chap. vii. 9. “And the issue of the latter of these conflicts, is quite the reverse of the former. In that battle, chap. xi. 7,“ The beast makes war with the witnesses, and overcomes them and kills them.” The same is foretold, Dan. vii. 21," I bebeld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them.” And Rev. xii. 7, “ And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them.” But in the issue of that last and great battle, which the church shall have with her Antichristian enemies, the church shall overcome them, and kill them: Rev. xvii. 14, “ These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them; for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings; and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful,” compared with chapter xix. 16, and following verses, and chap. xvi. 16, 17. In the conflict that the beast shall have with the witnesses, the “ beast kills them and their dead bodies lie unburied;" as though they were to be meat for the beasts of the earth, and fowls of heaven : but in that last great battle, it is represented that Christ and his church shall slay their enemies, and give their dead bodies to be meat for the fowls of heaven," chap. xix. 17, to the end. There is no manner of appearance, in the descriptions that are given of that last great battle, of any advantages gained in it, by the enemies of the church, before they themselves are overcome; but all appearance of the contrary. Besure the descriptions in the 16th and 19th chapters of the Revelation, will by no means allow of such an advantage, as the overcoming of God's people, and slaying them, and their lying dead for some time, and unburied, that their dead bodies may be for their enemies to abuse, and trample on, and make sport with. In chap. xvi., we read of their being gathered together against the church, a mighty host, into the place called Armageddon; and then the first thing we hear of, is the pouring out of the seventh vial of God's wrath, and a voice saying, It is done. And so in the 19th chapter, we have an account of “ the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, being gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army." And then the next thing we hear of, is, that “ the beast is taken, and with him the false prophet; and that these are both cast alive into the lake of fire; and that the remnant of the vast army are slain, and all the fowls filled with their flesh. The issue of the conflict of the beast with the witnesses is the triumph of the church's enemies over God's people, looking on them as entirely vanquished, and their interest utterly ruined, past all possibility of recovery: they that dwell on the earth shall see the dead bodies of the saints lying in the streets of the great city, and shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and send gifts one to another. But the issue of that great and last battle is quite the reverse; it is the church's triumph over her enemies as being utterly and forever destroyed.
Here if any one shall say, that the ascension of the witnesses into heaven in the sight of their enemies, may, as has more generally been supposed, signify the church's last victory and triumph over her Antichristian enemies, and final deliverance from them, and yet the battle between Antichrist and the witnesses, spoken of Rev. xi. 7, wherein the witnesses are slain, may not be the same with that last and greatest battle between Antichrist and the church, chap. xvi. and xix., that immediately precedes and issues in the church's final victory and deliverance; there may be two great battles, soon following one another, though both are not mentioned in the same place; one, a conflict wherein Antichrist prevails against the witnesses, and overcomes them, and kills them, and another, that great battle described chap. xvi. and xix., after the witnesses' resurrection, before their ascension into heaven, wherein they shall prevail and overcome their enemies, and kill them: I say if any one shall say thus, they will say that which the prophecies give no reason for, nor allow any room to suppose. That last battle between the church and Antichrist, wherein Christ and his people obtain a complete victory, is evidently one of the greatest and most remarkable events foretold in all the Apocalypse : and there is no one thing, unless it be the consummation of all things, in the two last chapters, that is described in so solemn and august a manner. And the description shows that it is an event which, with its circumstances, must take up much time. There is vast preparation made for it by the church's enemies: the devils, in order to stir men up, and gather them together, to this battle of that great day of God Almighty, go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to propagate various kinds of delusions, far and wide, all over the world; which undoubtedly must take up many years' time ; chap. xvi. 13, 14. And then great preparation is made in the church of God, to make opposition; chap. xix. 11-17. Now can any reasonably suppose, that in what is represented, chap. xi., of a great conflict between Antichrist and God's people, wherein the latter are overcome and slain, and lie dead three days (or three years) and a half, and their enemies triumphing over them, but God's people rising again from the dead in the midst of this triumph of their enemies, and ascending into heaven, while their enemies stand astonished and amazed spectators—that the manner of the description leaves fair room for us to suppose, that after this resurrection of God's people, they continue long before they ascend, to encounter with Antichrist in a new conflict, wherein their enemies after long time to prepare, should engage with them with vastly greater preparation, strength, and violence than before, and should wage war with them with the mightiest army that ever was gathered against the church, and in the greatest battle that ever was fought ?
And besides, the witnesses ascending into heaven in the sight of their enemies, spoken of chap. xi., cannot be the same with the church's gaining a gloriQus ascendant over her enemies, in her final victory over Antichrist, spoken of chap. xvi. and xix., because the descriptions of the events that attend the one and the other do by no means answer each other. For, observe, it is said that when the witnesses arose, and stood on their feet, and ascended into heaven, the same hour there was a great earthquake : but this does not seem to answer to what is described chap. xiv. 18, " And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings, and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.” It is said that at the time of the first earthquake, chap. xi. 13, “The tenth part of the city fell :" but how far does this fall short of what is described, as attending the great earthquake! Chap. xvi. 19, 20, “And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell; and great Babylon came into remembrance before God, to give
unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath; and every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.” It is said of the earthquake, chap. xi., “ And in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: but how far is this from answering the slaughter described chap. xix. 17, &c., which is represented as a general slaughter of the kings, captains, mighty men, horses, and armies of the earth, and of the whole world; so that all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, as far as the sun shines, are filled with the flesh of the dead carcases, it being the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great! Compare chap. xvi. 14. Who can think, that this great slaughter that is thus represented, should in chap. xi. be only called a slaying seven thousand men?
If we read this very eleventh chapter through, we shall see that the falling of the tenth part of the city, and the witnesses rising and ascending into heaven, are entirely distinct from the final destruction of Antichrist, and that advancement of the church to her latter day glory, that is consequent upon it. The judgments here spoken of, as executed on God's enemies, are under another wo; and the benefits bestowed on the church, are under another trumpet. For immediately after the account of the rising and ascending of the witnesses, and the tenth part of the city's falling, and the slaying of the seven thousand men, and the affrighting of the rest, and their giving glory to the God of heaven, follow these words in the 14th and 15th verses, “ The second wo is past; and behold the third wo cometh quickly. And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” And in the following verses, we have an account of the praises sung to God on this occasion. And then in the last verse, we have a brief hint of that same earthquake, and that great hail, and those thunders, and lightnings, and voices, that we have an account of in the latter part of chap. xvi. So that the earthquake mentioned in the last verse of chap. xi. is that great earthquake that attends the last great conflict of the church and her enemies; and not that mentioned ver. 13.
The three woes are the woes of God on Antichrist and his subjects; and the third and last of them evidently signifies the terrible judgments of God on Antichrist, by which God's wrath upon him shall be fulfiled in his utter destruction : but the calamities on Antichrist spoken of as attending the rising and ascending of the witnesses, such as the falling of the tenth part of the city, and slaying seven thousand men, do not belong to this last wo, and therefore do not signify the final destruction of Antichrist: for the words of ver. 14, will by no means allow of such a supposition; for there, immediately after giving an account of these calamities, it is added, “The second wo is past; and behold the third wo cometh quickly :" making a most plain and express distinction between these calamities that had already been mentioned, and especially these that were just then mentioned in the very last words, and the calamities that belong to the third wo, that yet remain to be mentioned: for by being passed, the prophet is to be understood no otherwise than passed in the declaration and representation; it was not past in any other respect : it is as much as to say, Thus an account has been given of the calamities upon Antichrist that belong to the second wo; now I proceed to give an account of those dispensations of Providence that belong to the third and last wo, which shall prove Antichrist's final destruction, and end in the kingdoms of this world becoming the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ.
What was fulfilled in the reformation, well answers the representation made