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to inquire into the mystery represented by the temple proper ; the spiritual arrangement of principles by which the worshipper is enabled to come unto God in Christ.-"For in the time of trouble," the Psalmist adds, “he shall hide me in his pavilion ; in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me upon a rock.”—Here are three figures of the same position of safety. To be in the pavilion of God, is to be in Christ; to be in the secret of the tabernacle of God, is to be in Christ ; and to be set upon a rock, is to rest upon Christ as upon a foundation. In this position it is that the disciple is enabled to draw near to God, and to offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy and gratitude, (Ps. xxvii. 4–6.)
It is commonly admitted by all who bear the name of Christ, that he is the only way of access to God; that we must come unto God in his name; that he is the only mediator; but the ordinary apprehension of this privilege is very superficial, and little better than literal. Such as it is, we may compare it to the outer court of the temple. It is subject to great perversion. It is in the possession of the elements of literal construction, as the outer court was given to the Gentiles. The intercession or mediation of Christ, in the ordinary sense, is supposed to be an oral intercession—a pleading as by word of mouth ; while, in a spiritual sense, it must consist in a virtual interyention of his merits-of his imputed righteousness. In the first sense, it is evident that doctrinal views may be admitted inconsistent both with the divinity of Christ and with the truth of salvation through his righteousness alone ; in the last sense, these erroneous principles can find no place, for the virtual intercession or mediation of the merits of Christ involve the truths of his divine nature, and of salvation through his imputed merits alone. Such, we suppose, to be the difference between the temple and the outer court of the temple.
A city or walled town is a place of safety and comfort-a dwelling furnished with the means of shelter, food, and defence. Such is the economy of grace with reference to its immediate object—the salvation of the sinner-"A city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God." A self-righteous plan of salvation, on the contrary, is a city without a foundation, of which man only is the builder and maker. Here, it is said, (Heb. xiii. 14,) we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come ; we have no means of salvation in any merits of our own. As it was said of the wandering Hebrews in the desert, “they found no city to dwell in," In the wilderness of Sinai, as under the threatening of the law, their position was that of the disciple out of Christ, and unprotected by the imputation of his merits. In Christ only, we find a shelter from the wrath to come -a defence from the power of the legal accuser, and the means of obtaining and of sustaining eternal life; out of him our condition is spiritually analogous to that of the people of God during their sojourn in the desert.. This position in Christ, we suppose to be the same as that afforded by the holy city in its proper spiritual sense, that is, the economy of grace. This economy, however, has been misunderstood in proportion as the language of Revelation in respect to it has been literally construed. The new Jerusalem, it is true, has been supposed to be in some way a representation of the mystery of redemption ; but the holy city has been in possession of the Gentiles. The vision of peace has been perverted by self-righteous elements of doctrine; even so much so, that, in the apprehension of many, ihe object of salvation (the community of disciples) has been substituted for the means of salvation, the plan of sovereign grace.
The same erroneous principles have thus perverted the language of Scripture, in respect to the views peculiar to the worship of God, and to the salvation of the sinner. The city and the outer court of the temple have been alike trodden by the Gentiles.
$240. Forty and two months.'- This is the time during which the Gentiles were to have possession of the city ; and it seems to be implied that the gift of the outer court to them was to be of a corresponding duration; the term forty-two months applying to both. This period has been supposed to be equivalent to one of twelve hundred and sixty years, calculating in round numbers thirty days to the month ; and various efforts have been made to assign this term of time, in a literal, chronological sense, to a certain portion of ecclesiastical history; but for the reasons already given ($ 230) we believe time in this literal sense is not to be taken into consideration. With those engaged in contemplating the mysteries of this vision there is time na longer. It is remarkable, however, that the several niystic terms of time, in this and in the following chapters, correspond so nearly with each other, taking the expression time, and times, and half a time, to be synonymous with that of a year, two years, and half a year; a construction now very generally admitted.* These various periods all resulting, in round numbers, in a term of twelve hundred and sixty days.
As already suggested we can only account for this peculiarity, by supposing these various terms of an equal period to be intended to point out a certain parallelism in the predictions severally connected with them.
In applying this mystic scale, we conceive it as reasonable to convert the twelve hundred and sixty days into forty-two months, as to turn the fortytwo months into days; and we feel the same liberty to turn the months, or days, into three and a half years, as we should in changing the years into days. As far as the parallelism of apocalyptic predictions is concerned this distinction may not be important, but it may be of service in throwing light upon other portions of Scripture; by enabling us to compare the figures of this vision with some of the historical relations of the Old
* See Faber and others.
Testament.* At present we confine ourselves to the conclusion that this term of forty-two months is intended only to indicate the coincidence of the treading of the Gentiles, with the prophesying of the two witnesses in sackcloth for twelve hundred and sixty days; and that the two terms are designed to point out this Gentile predominance and prophesying in sackcloth, as coincident with the sojourn of the woman in the wilderness, (Rev. xii. 6 and 14,) and with the power given to the beast, (Rev. xiii. 5.)
In a literal sense, the Holy City was trodden by the Gentiles (the Romans) in the time of the apostles ; and although the possession of it afterwards changed hands, there has been no time for the last eighteen hundred years that it has not been subject to Gentile power. In a spiritual sense it would be equally difficult to say when it was since the days of the crucifixion, that the mysterious truths represented by the outer court, and by the city, have not been perverted in their exhibition by the influence of incorrect doctrinal principles. It is easy to point out twelve hundred and sixty years during which the city of Jerusalem was possessed by Gentiles; but it is not so easy to point out a single hundred years of the Christian era, when it was not in the same predicament. In a literal sense, too, the temple was destroyed in the time of the Emperor Titus, not one stone being left upon another. Not only the outer court, but the temple itself, was in this sense given to the Gentiles; and there can hardly be said to have been a period admitting of discrimination between the temple and the outer court since. We seem to be shut up, therefore, to the conclusion above adopted, that the employment of these terms of time is altogether of a mystical character, designed to direct the attention to a species of synthesis, or combination, or collation of the several representations accompanied with these marks of identity, as so many different features of one picture.
Vs. 3, 4. And I will give (power) unto Και δώσω τοϊς δυσι μάρτυσί μου, και my two witnesses, and they shall pro- προφητεύσουσιν ημέρας χιλίας διακοσίας threescore days, clothed in Eackcloth εξήκοντα περιβεβλημένοι σάκκους. Ούτοι These are the two olive-trees, and the εισιν αι δύο έλαιαι και αι δύο λυχνίαι αι two candlesticks standing before the God ενώπιον του κυρίου της γης έστώτες. . of the earth.
241. I will give unto my two witnesses.'-The word power is not in the original. It would probably be a better rendering to say, I will give
* There is evidently a strong analogy between the history of the children of Israel, from their exodus to their possession of the promised land, and the experience of the Christian diseiple in matters of doctrine, or his progress in faith from his first pereeption of the bondage of the law to his full enjoyment of gospel truth. Our limits, however, will not admit of enlarging upon this illustration at present, except to remark that there may be a like analogy between these three and a half yearterms of the Apocalypse and the three and a half years' drought in the time of the prophet Elijah.
in charge to my two witnesses. This is the part to be given them—the duty assigned them to perform. To give power, simply implies a liberty of exercising the power or not ; but to give in charge, while it implies the gift of power, also leaves no election to the agent, whether to discharge the function assigned or not. Whatever these two witnesses represent, it is something necessarily performing that which God designed should be performed by it.
'My two witnesses ;-or, as it might be rendered, the two witnesses of me. The same mighty angel is still speaking ; the angel whose face was as the sun, a personification of the Son of God. His witnesses, or the witnesses of him, must be such as bear witness to his character and offices, as announced in the gospel. We suppose these to be two elements of divine revelation virtually bearing testimony to the mystery of godliness, as manifested in Jesus Christ.
· And they shall prophesy ;'—that is, interpret the will and purposes God, (§ 69 ;) not so much in the sense of predicting events, as in that of unfolding the designs of God in the work of redemption. The two witnesses are instruments by which these designs are made known—the Old and New Covenants, or Testaments, (81a97x01) not only as they are revealed in the Scriptures, but also as they have been in the divine mind from the beginning; for what is said of them in the subsequent verse seems to imply that they have been and are perpetually before God. The exhibition made of them in the Scriptures may be said to be their prophesying or preaching.
• Twelve hundred and sixty-days clothed in sackcloth.'— That is, apparently, they are to prophesy in sackcloth for this term; besides which, they may have prophesied before this period, or may do so afterwards, in a different garb.
This prophesying in sackcloth is to continue twelve hundred and sixty days, a period when reduced to months, calculating thirty days to the month, corresponding with that during which the city was to be trodden by the Gentiles-showing the coincidence of the two predictions ;-as if it were said, So long as the city is trodden by the Gentiles, so long the prophesying of these witnesses must be in sackcloth. In the nature of the case the one peculiarity involving the other.
Assuming these two witnesses to be the two covenants, or the legal and the gospel dispensations, as revealed in the Scriptures, they may be said to bear testimony of Christ at all times, and in all eternity, existing in the divine mind as they have done from the beginning, and witnessing in their spiritual sense throughout eternity; but they may be said to prophesy in a garb of mourning and humiliation, especially when the language in which they are revealed is so understood as to be that of the law, rather than that of the gospel.
A raiment of sackcloth was, particularly amongst the Hebrews, a sign of mourning for the dead; and spiritually it may represent a mourning on account
of the position of death or condemnation incident to the imputation of sin, as a consequence of a state of subjection to the law.
Jacob put sackcloth upon his loins, when mourning for the supposed death of Joseph, Gen. xxxvii. 34. The people were directed to gird themselves with sackcloth for the death of Abner, 2 Sam. jii. 31 ; and the prophet calls upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem to “Lament, like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth,” Joel i. 8. From this primary use of the material it became a token of mourning generally, and a sign of humilitation and penitence.
Children, as we have before remarked, are figures of righteousnesses or merits. The sinner, brought to a conviction of his entire destitution of merit, mourns as one mourneth for a lost son ; so, in the marriage relation, the husband is the figure of the Redeemer; and those convinced of sin, and without the knowledge of a Saviour, have reason indeed to lament, as a virgin girded in sackcloth for the husband of her youth. In like manner, all who contemplate man only as dead in trespasses and sins, may be compared to mourners for the dead.
$ 242. A literal and legal misconstruction of the language of revelation, both in respect to the old and new dispensations, exhibits the sinner in this state of death. It goes no further—the letter killeth—Christ is spoken of as a Saviour, but he is represented only as a Judge. The gospel is confessedly the glad tidings of salvation, but it is virtually exhibited only as a refinement of the law. Christ is declared to be the way of salvation ; but man is in effect supposed to be dependent for eternal life upon some righteousness, or holiness, or virtue of his own. He is thus, after all that divine mercy has done for him, supposed to be left in the state of the dead; and the testimony of revelation in respect to him appears to be no other than the language of mourning. This must be so, so long as, in the exhibition of the economy of redemption, Christ is not discerned as the Lord our righteousness, and so long as the only ground of the believer's hope is not perceived to be that of sovereign grace. So long as the holy city, the vision of peace, (Jerusalem,) the exhibition of the divine plan of redemption, is in the possession, and subject to the perversion of elements of self-righteousness, so long the language both of the Old and New Testaments will appear to be the language of mourning, and so long both the old and new dispensations, as revealed in the Scriptures, will appear as witnesses indeed of Christ, but witnesses prophesying in sackcloth. The fault is not in the witnesses, or in the two dispensations, or in the Scripture account of them, but it is in that misconstruction of this account which throws over the testimony of these two covenants the garb of mourning ; this misconstruction arising from the influence of self-righteous principles figuratively styled Gentiles, that is, opposites of Jews inwardly.