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And he said unto me, Take it and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth as sweet as honey."
This angel, it will be seen, is very much like the symbolic representation of Christ, given in the beginning, and must be that angel of Christ who was sent by Christ to signify to John the things which he received from his father. His symbolic dress is glorious, and he seems to attend John to the very last of the book after this, and, as he represents himself finally as one from earth, we may have some faint notions of the glory of the saints in heaven. As the first book of seals was a prophetic book, so this little book must be one also; and as it is open, it professes to contain an exposition of the events before related, by the seals and trumpets, down to the seventh trumpet, for it is introduced just at the sounding of the seventh trumpet. We introduce it here, so as not to interrupt the regular chronology of the trumpets by an episode. We shall take up the contents of this little book in regular order. It contains a vision of the temple and Gentiles; and one of two witnesses; one of a woman and twelve stars; one of a seven headed dragon; one of a seven headed beast; and one of a two horned beast.
HOLY CITY AND THE GENTILES-CHURCH AND STATE UNION.
"And there was given me a reed, like unto a rod, and the angel (the one that had the little book) stood, saying, Rise, measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple, leave out, and measure it not; for it is given
unto the Gentiles, and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months."
1. The Measuring.-To measure any thing, is symbolically equivalent to sealing it; as in Zech. ii. 2, to measure Jerusalem is equivalent to taking charge of it. It here plainly means that God would take special care of the temple, and altar, and worshipers, and that he would not take care of the outer court.
2. The Temple.-The temple is here plainly used as a symbol. It is figuratively used by Paul to represent the church, but by the prophets it represents the civil power. Jeremiah twice speaks of the "vengeance of God's temple" going forth to destroy Babylon, and as such destruction could not go forth from the church proper, the temple must stand for the civil power of Israel. Again, it is said, that in the last days, the fallen tabernacle of David, or Israel's civil power, or nationality, shall be restored, and, as the temple and tabernacle are convertible terms, the temple, in prophecy, is used as symbolic of the government of Israel. That this is its sense here, is further obvious, from the fact that another symbol is conjointly used, which clearly stands for the church, and as Israel, on account of dual nature, is always represented by two figures, so it is here; and one refers to the civil polity, and the other to the spiritual.
3. The Altar and the Worshipers.-The altar is used not only as an instrument of worship, but as a sanctuary, or place of refuge. It was surrounded by the court of Israel, and of the priests who brought their sacrifices to it, to be offered; and as the worshipers are represented as worshiping in the altar, it must, by synecdoche, represent the court of Israel, a part of the court being put for the whole. The worshipers, therefore, properly represent the organic church, and the altar their
religious system of faith and worship, or religion. This distinction between the church government and religion, is elsewhere clearly noticed among the symbols, as also the distinction between the church government, and the civil government of Israel.
4. "The Court without the Altar."-That is, the court outside of the court of Israel, in the temple, which was separated from it by a partition wall. In this court the Gentiles were allowed to worship, and their worship was considered inferior in character to that of Israel. As no altar was in it, it must stand for the church of the Gentiles, or for an impure church. This view is confirmed by the fact, that it was not measured or cared for by God.
5. The Holy City.-This, as a figure, represents the church, but as Jerusalem was called Ariel, that is, the double city, or two lions of God, and as the capital of Israel is put for the Jewish nation, by synecdoche, it must, as a symbol, represent the Christian Ariel.
6. The Gentiles were to tread the Ariel of God under foot for forty-two months.-As the Jerusalem here mentioned is not the literal Jerusalem, but the Christian Jerusalem, or Ariel of God, those who tread it down must be spiritual Gentiles.
7. Forty-two months.-These months amount to 529,984 days, or 1451 years and 17 days, and also to 1243 years and 277 days. As the true Israel of God was trodden down by spiritual Gentiles, from the days of church and state union till the rise of the United States, the 42 months must be the exact measure of the period between these two epochs. The length of this period, therefore, is the number of days between the 19th of June, 325, and July 4th, 1776; for church and state union began on the former date, and began to end glori ously at the latter. The length of this period is exactly
529,984 days, and thus it coincides exactly with the first length of the 42 months. Again; church and state union was completed, under Justinian, about 532 A. D. Now, from October 1st of this year, to July 4th, 1776, is just equal to the other length of the 42 months, or 1243 years 277 days. It is, however, obvious that the church of God is still trodden down in Europe; so that there must be another length of the 42 months to be fulfilled. That length ends as early as 1865 or 1878, but perhaps much earlier. (See discovery.)
THE TWO WITNESSES-CHRISTIANITY DEPRESSED.
"And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three score days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks, standing before the God of the earth.”
1. Two witnesses, two candlesticks, and two olive trees. These represent the same thing as Jerusalem, the double city; and the text refers, by implication expressed in the word "my," to Jerusalem, as the two witnesses; and as it is called by Isaiah, "Ariel," or the double city, it is the proper antecedent referred to as "my two witnesses." The two olive trees, mentioned by Zechariah, (fourth chap.) and their interpretation as the two anointed ones, plainly coincide with these two olive trees, for the text of Zechariah mentions two candlesticks, with seven branches, and seven bowls, and the two olive trees as standing together, and representing, doubly, the two anointed ones. These two anointed ones plainly represented the dual Israel or Ariel of God. The dual
character of God's law, and of man's nature as a spiritual and social creature; the necessary two kinds of government springing from them; the dual character of the Hebrew government; and the perpetual representation of this duality by figurative terms; and its perpetual recurrence in symbols applicable to the people of God, is full evidence that the two witnesses represent the dual character of the people of God, and can represent nothing else.
They were to prophesy in sackcloth.”---The word prophet signifies a predictor, but means a teacher of religious obligation as often as it does any thing else. The prophecy of the witnesses must have been the teaching "the word of God, and the testimony they held." They were to teach in sackcloth. The ancient prophets were mostly clothed thus, and it was the habit of mourning and great humiliation. They were to be trodden down by the Gentiles. As the Gentiles destroyed and trampled upon the literal Jerusalem, the symbolic meaning of the term must be spiritual Gentiles, or unclean persons of a religious character. It was bad enough to be trodden down by the real Gentile, but to be trampled upon by spiritual Gentiles was to be wounded in the house of their friends, and was cause of double grief and humility. If we now look at God's people, ever since the unhallowed and incestuous marriage of church and state, we find that the truly pious have been obliged to suffer the greatest indignities, and to change the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, and lay aside the oil of joy for mourning, and beauty for ashes.
3. They were to prophecy for 1260 days, which are equivalent to 1451 years, or 529,984 days, and to 1243 years, 277 days. These begin and end with the 42 months, and partly await fulfillment.