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Christian faith and patience put to the test with un
exampled severity.--The true time of the death of the witnesses. The restoration of the Jews, in what manner it becomes one of the plagues of popery.—The valley of decision,-fatal to the antichristian powers.--Prophetic picture of Christ, in his wars against the Beast.—He conquers by sufferings.- Savage proclamation for the extermination of the witnesses, is reversed upon their enemies.-The seventh vial. -The BEAST and FALSE PROPHET broken,-and snared-and taken. -Their fearful end,
WHEN these things come to pass, it is obvious to suppose that it will be a season of very severe trial of the faith and constancy of all that profess the genuine doctrine of Jesus Christ; and it will, in all probability, be indeed the hottest period of the long perpetuated war, that the BEAST has waged against Christ and his saints. There is therefore a very particular warning of this given from the mouth of the blessed Jesus bimself, as there had been a similar notice before given at two former periods of persecution, to put the true christians upon
their guard, and remind them of their Lord's solemn cautions in the gospel : “ he that will save his life,” by sinful compliances, shall lose the life eternal; and he that will bazard his life in this world, for Christ's sake and the gospel's, shall secure the better and ever-enduring life of his soul, and “ what shall a man give in exchange for his soul,” if forfeited and lost, by unfaithfulness in the time of trial?
The proclamation made by the Holy Spirit on these two former occasions,* was—" Here is the faith and patience of the saints !” which certainly implied that on these occasions, God would give many eminent examples to the world of the truth and power of christian principles; and that it would then behove those, who should be thus singled out for sufferings of so dreadful a nature, to look well to themselves, that they should not shrink back from the frightful conflict with death, in a form of such complicated horror. But the warning given here against this last struggle for life and victory, is couched in terms still more awful and alarming; and which seem to forebode a great and lamentable défection at this time from the cause of truth and beaven, through the overpowering force of the temptation, and the frequency of the example of this weakness, in characters from which better things might have been hoped. Even in ordinary cases," when iniquity shall abound the love of many will wax cold;" but here the difficultics to be overcome, and the dangers to be encountered, will be such as demand greater fortitude and faith than on any former occasion, The antichristian enmity being more rancorous and cruel, and the powers of the persecutors greater, and exerted to the uttermost to extirpate the gospel and its heretical partizans together,
* Rev. xii, 1C, and xiv. 12.
This seems to be the true time of the death of the witnesses, ** a prophecy which contains many particulars towards the concluding part of it, that have never yet been fulfilled, and cannot be accomplished until “ they shall bave finished their testimony,” which was to continue as long as the reign of antichrist, that is, 12бо
This dreadful persecution, for the greater efficacy of it, will break out with little immediate warning or expectation of it beforehand; which seems to be the meaning of our Saviour's words in this place.—“ Bebold, I come as a thief. Blessed is be that watcheth, and keepeth bis garments, lest be walk naked, and they see bis shame.” The only notice of it will be the warning here given in this
prophecy, and coming from the mouth of Christ himself, it must be deemed of the utmost importance, and the occasion for it very great, since no words can press upon us in more affecting terms, a vigilant and resolute firmness
* Sce Section vii. p, 202.
in abiding by the strict line of our duty, let the consequences be what they will.
It was for this reason that this divine prophecy was written, and a blessing pronounced upon all them who read and reflect seriously upon it, as “a light shining in a dark place," and a sure interpreter of the signs of the times, in critical periods of peculiar danger to our souls, from the insidious attempts of the enemies of Christ and his saints. And as it was in the plagues of EGYPT, so it will again be in those upon GREAT BABYLON. " He that feared the word of the Lord amongst the servants of Pharoah, made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses. And he that regarded not the word of the Lord, left his servants and his cattle in the field.” To true christians, the existing symptoms of the near approach of this afflictive time, ought to be a sufficient motive to fortify their souls with that celestial armour of faith and patience, which Christ will supply in answer to their prayers; lest through neglect they walk naked, -renounce their God and their conscience,