Last Updated on : Thursday, November 20, 2014
|Thirteen Lectures On The Apocalypse|
Revelation Chapter 11
Westward bearing of the events of the fifth and sixth trumpets -- CHAPTER XI transfers the reader to the west -- the measuring of the temple and the altar -- the significance of the measurement -- the outer court that was not to be measured -- meaning of the temple -- Christendom in its relation to the apostolic work -- the treading of the holy city for forty-two months -- the two witnesses and their prophesying -- the two class-antagonists of the Papacy in the course of European history -- their dead bodies -- the exposure of their corpses for three and a half days -- the historic fulfilment -- events in France and throughout the Roman Catholic jurisdiction generally -- why France is so prominent in the matter -- the street of the City -- extent of the City "where our Lord was crucified" -- the joy among the nations at the death of the witnesses -- their resurrection and ascent to power in A.D. 1790 -- the French Revolution -- the Reign of Terror -- earthquake and fall of the tenth of the City -- the third woe cometh quickly -- its nature -- the coming of Christ -- resurrection and overthrow of universal human society -- the setting-up of the kingdom of God.
You will recollect that on Thursday last, our attention was occupied with the events of the fifth and sixth trumpets -- events affecting the
eastern territories of the Roman Empire, and reaching from the uprise of Mahometanism down to the manifestation of the kingdom of God in successorship to the Turkish Empire. Those events principally concern a succession of extraordinary military eruptions from the east: first from the Arabian peninsula (the Saracens), and secondly, 300 years afterwards, from the desert steppes of Turkestan, whence the Moguls victoriously issued in hordes of horsemen subjugating nearly the whole of the civilized world. These events, establishing finally on the ruins of the eastern third of the Roman Empire, the empire of the Turks in Europe, kept our eyes on the east all the time, glancing on the west occasionally, only so far as these eastern events affected it.
To-night, in chapter 11, we shall find ourselves transferred from the east to the west. The fifth and sixth trumpets trace eastern events down to the days of the voice of the seventh angel, or the appointed epoch of the establishment of the kingdom of God. In chapter 11 we are not only transferred to the west, but we are taken backwards in point of time. This is shown by the fact that while chapter 9 brings us down to the end of the second woe and chapter 10 announces there shall be delay no longer in the finishing of the mystery of God, chapter 11 describes events which are concurrent with the second woe and form part of it in point of time, as evidenced by the remark on their accomplishment; "the second woe is past; and behold, the third woe cometh quickly" (11:14). That chapter 11 deals with events in the west is proved by the nature of the events when we come to consider them.
Specific proof is found in the allusion to "the beast" and "the tenth part of the City", both of which are identical with the Roman system, and that only, as we shall see. In the sixth vial, there is the same division between east and west. There is the drying of the Euphrates in the east, and the emanation of the frog-spirit from the west. In the sixth trumpet, we have the Ottoman hordes in the east and ecclesiastical events in the west. In the sixth seal, there is no such sub-division for the simple reason that the sixth seal had to do with the empire of Paganism, which ruled alike the east and the west in a common sway. These features are worthy of notice, as illustrating the historical accuracy of the Apocalypse.
As affecting the west, then, while the political locusts of Arabia and the fiery horsemen of Turkestan were for a thousand years between them over-running the east, John was given "a reed like unto a rod", and he is asked (verse 1) to "rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship
therein." Let us first deal with the measurement. To measure off an area or space is to set it apart for a purpose. The area measured off for the purpose in this case, was the area containing the temple of God and the altar and the worshippers of God. An adjoining area John was told not to measure; "The court which is without the temple, leave out, and measure it not." For what purpose was the temple of God measured off? We are not informed in so many words, but we are plainly informed for all that. The measurement, we are told, was effected by "a reed like to a rod." In this description of the measuring reed, the object of the measurement is unveiled. A rod or rhabdos was the symbol of chastisement because the means of its infliction in youth. "Shall I come to you with a rod?" asks Paul of the Corinthians in a tone of reproof (1 Cor. 4:21); and "He that spareth the rod hateth his son", says Solomon (Prov. 13:24). The temple of God and the altar and the worshippers then were measured off for affliction. The sequel of the chapter bears this out, for we find the Holy City trodden under foot (verse 2), and the saints made successful war against (verse 7). The "court without the temple" was left out of the measurement. The things represented by the outer court were not to be given over to affliction as were the things represented by the temple and the altar. What are these things? This is deserving of our most attentive consideration. It is a question on which we shall find it easy to get a deal of light.
Of course, you require not to be told that the temple and its courts are here used in a symbolic sense, just as the seven candlesticks that stood in the holy place of that temple were used in a symbolic sense at the outstart of the vision. What sense is that, for which we can find any application in the system of things existing in Western Europe? Just one or two New Testament illustrations of the point. First, you have Paul telling Timothy that his object in writing him was "that he might know how he ought to behave himself in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Tim. 3:15). Now, the house of God and the temple of God were interchangeable terms in the description of the edifice erected for Jehovah's [Yahweh's] service in Jerusalem. Paul in effect therefore says that the Church or ecclesia is the temple of God. He plainly says this in writing to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 6:16): "Ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them". Peter makes a similar statement: "As living stones, ye are built up a
spiritual house, an holy priesthood" (1 Peter 2:5).
The use of the temple of God in the Apocalypse to represent the body corporate of the believers in Christ is therefore in harmony with apostolic usage before the Apocalypse was given. So with the altar. Speaking of Christ, Paul says (Heb. 13:10): "We have an altar whereof they have no right to eat that serve the tabernacle" All in the altar, therefore, are all who are in Christ; and when John was commanded to measure off the altar with a rhabdos or rod of affliction, it was an intimation that during the time concerned all in Christ should be subject to adversity. These symbols are all drawn from the Mosaic economy. You need not to be informed that that economy was a divine economy, and in all its mechanical details, a shadow or parable of certain living glorious realities to come.
You will say, what has all this to do with the system of things in Western Europe? A glance at the system will bring the answer. What is that system? Its most general name is "CHRISTENDOM". What is the meaning of this? The dominion of Christ. How came such a character to be claimed for it? Because of the work done by the apostles in the first century, who laid the foundation of the ecclesiastical system of Europe by their miraculously-attested testimony for Christ. Paul writes to "all in Rome called to be saints" -- that is, called to be the temple of God in the Roman habitable. All those who become saints under the apostolic labours in every part of the Roman habitable were constituents of the temple and the altar. Though the apostles died, their work continued, and the generation of believers that went to the grave with them were succeeded by other believers who maintained the integral structure of the temple of God, founded in Europe. True, the work was marred and corrupted by the apostasy of the mass: still, a real work -- a real temple, existed, consisting of the remnant of true believers preserved by God as His witnesses in the midst of the prevailing corruption.
We have already seen that this temple-community as a whole (without discriminating between its false and true elements) prevailed against the Pagan adversary or Satan enthroned at Rome, and displaced him from his seat, and set a scion of its own in his place by the power of the sword -- Constantine, the so-called "first Christian emperor". With such a change in its favour, it would have been natural to suppose that the temple of God was secure of peace and prosperity. The reverse is shown by this measuring
of it off with a rhabdos or rod of affliction. The real temple--the true Church, was to be a down-trodden institution -- the true believers an afflicted class -- notwithstanding an outward form of things apparently in favour of "Christianity".
The exception to this measuring off for affliction was "the court which is without", or "outer court." This court was a part of the temple enclosure, but here it was to be exempt from the lot assigned to the temple itself. It was to be "given to the Gentiles." There is a world of light in this as bearing on the ecclesiastical constitution of things in Europe. Here is a part of the symbolic temple -- "the court which is without" -- given to the Gentiles. Now, considering that the temple is the symbol of the Church of Christ, we are here face to face with a prophecy that an outer court of it was to be occupied by the Gentiles -- those not recognized as Israel; -- and that while the true ecclesia should be subject to affliction and down-treading, that part of the Church occupied by "the Gentiles" should be in prosperity and renown -- not measured off for affliction with the rhabdos. We look at Europe in the past (and in the present, too), and we see a "Church by law established" in various countries, enjoying the support and patronage of the State, and acquiring thereby a respectability so great that to be the meanest ecclesiastic is to have a passport to the highest society. In the light of this prophecy, we can rightly estimate these State communions as they appear before God. They are all parts of the outer court of the spiritual temple -- the court not measured -- not recognized -- given over to the Gentiles. This very prosperity is their condemnation. The friends of Christ are measured off for dishonour and affliction. The rhabdos is their sign for the present.
It is in this chapter plainly foreshown that the occupants of the outer court -- the nominal Christian element of European society -- should obtain the upper hand, and tread down the true and faithful saints who are also symbolically the Holy City: "The Holy City shall they tread under foot forty and two months." Forty and two months are 1,260 days, and stand for the 1,260 years during which it was the appointed lot of the true temple-community to be cast out, prevailed against, and down-trodden by the outer-court party -- the Gentiles to whom the court without was given without rhabdos-measurement. How signally this has been fulfilled the history of Europe testifies. The Gentiles, or outer court party, under ecclesiastical titles (Popes, cardinals, etc.), have enjoyed the emoluments and honours of the State, and have with one accord for ages persecuted and destroyed the true saints on the
charge of heresy. These ecclesiastical Gentiles of the outer court have been allowed to have the upper hand everywhere, and to subject to severe rhabdos-discipline the poor and little flock in whom the Father, by the truth, dwells as in His temple. It is only for a time: the down-treadings limited by the forty-two months which we have the happiness of knowing are now in the past. The era of deliverance is at the door.
But while the 1,260 years were dragging their slow length along, it was necessary that the power of the adversary should be antagonized so as to prevent the total extinction of liberty and light. This was done providentially by the agencies symbolized thus in verse 3: "I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand, two hundred and three score days, clothed in sackcloth There has been a good deal of controversy as to who these two witnesses are. They are further described as "the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth". The three symbols taken together -- witnesses, olive trees, candlesticks -- enable us to identify them. Candlestick we know is used in the first part of the Apocalypse to represent a community -- a church or ecclesia. Therefore the two witnesses must be found in two communities existing in the presence or dominion of the God of the earth, that is, the ecclesiastical ruler of the darkness of the present aion, blasphemously styled "His Holiness the Pope." Olive trees are by Paul employed to represent the two elements standing related to the commonwealth of Israel -- the wild olive and the good olive tree -- Gentile and Jew (see Rom. 11). Consequently, we are justified in seeking in the two witnesses two communities, one having the wild attributes and the other the good, though both standing related in some way to the commonwealth of Israel. Finally, the term witnesses leads us to find in them two classes bearing testimony against the corruptions of the earth, presided over by the God of the earth. This bearing of testimony is a presentation of the truth, and consequently "prophesying" in New Testament phrase.
Now when we look back upon the history of the Papal tyranny, we find that the Papal authority, though supreme, was constantly antagonized by two classes corresponding to those features. They are not distinctly discernible as two classes, but they manifestly co-exist in the one class. As one class, we read of them as heretics. As two classes, the heretics consisted of 1, Themselves, and 2, Their supporters, men who, while repudiating the pretensions of the Papacy, were not subject to the law of Christ, but ready at all times to draw the sword
in defence of civil and religious liberty. Speaking of these, Dr. Thomas says, "Without any treaty of alliance, offensive and defensive, and without any direct mutual understanding, the ages and generations of the past found them (the two co-operative organizations against the Catholic Apostasy of the court) standing side by side in witnessing and prophesying with tormenting effect, against the blasphemies and abominations of them who dwell upon the earth. Each witness had its own speciality. Christ's brethren testified the gospel, and laid before the court the way of salvation . . . and the other, with fire and sword, which was their testimony practically administered, tormented the minions of the oppressor. . . . This was their combined mission. The one was the military arm of the other, and both in combination were the two arms of the Spirit, holding the olive branch in one hand and the flaming sword in the other." For the historic particulars illustrative of these statements, I would refer you to Eureka, Dr. Thomas's wonderful exposition by which we have all been enabled to understand these things.
That this is the right view -- that the two witnesses represent some movement discernible in the history of the European system, and not two persons as some maintain, will appear upon a consideration of one or two points in the chapter we are dwelling upon. "They of the peoples, and kindreds, and tongues, and nations", for example, are said to "see" their dead bodies at a certain stage. It is an international affair therefore. The witnesses were to be found among the nations; for how otherwise could "nations" see them? Then it is said (verse 7), that "when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them." This shows they were a community, for only against a community could war be made. It also shows it was a community to be found in the Roman dominions: for it is "the BEAST" that makes war upon them. We are able to identify this beast with Rome by reason of the particulars afterwards supplied -- viz., "seven heads and ten horns" (Rev. 13:1), explained to mean seven successive sovereignties on the hills of Rome and ten royalties contemporaneous with the Roman dominion (Rev. 17:12); a woman on the back of the beast, the great city reigning over the kings (v. 18) -- viz., Rome in her ecclesiastical relations with all the earth. Consequently in the numerous heretical communities that have in all ages, prior to their extermination by the Beast, antagonized and tormented
the Papal god of the earth; and were finally prevailed against by a determined and energetic coalition of the Pope's friends, in Europe, we find the two witnesses. The one fought the persecutor both in politics and on the field of arms: the other limited their warfare to that contention for the faith which supplied the inspiration of the other. "An arrangement of this sort", says the Dr., "was absolutely necessary for the preservation and protection of the One Body, witnessing for the truth against the worshipping of the demonials and idols in the midst of the nations and before the God of the earth, the weapons of whose warfare were civil disabilities and the infernal tortures of anti-heretical crusades and inquisitions. The One Body, of which Christ is the head, is commanded by him not to avenge itself: not to take any other sword than the sword of the Spirit which is the word of the Deity; not to resist evil; if smitten upon one cheek to turn the other, and many other precepts of which his own individual conduct when in the hands of his enemies was an unmistakable illustration. In view of these commands, how was such a polity to devour its enemies with fire, to turn waters into blood, and to smite the earth with plagues? Manifestly, such a work of death and destruction was incompatible with obedience to such precepts of non-resistance. War and desolation are no part of Christian duty. 'The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all'. This principle faithfully and duly observed by all the Lord's servants in his absence, will prevent them from avenging their own wrongs or lending themselves as instruments in the quarrels of others."
In the history of Papal abomination, we find, then, this double class, bearing testimony against it and opposing it and inflicting upon it disquietude and torment in various ways, reaching often to those connected with war. This providential antagonism -- this infliction upon the adversary of retributive evil, even during the days of his ascendancy, is the thing symbolized by the statement: "If any man will hurt them (the witnesses), fire proceedeth out of their mouth and devoureth their enemies; and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven that it rain not in the days of their prophecy, and have power over waters to turn them into blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will."
They were to prophesy in sackcloth -- (verse 3). This shows they were to be on the losing side, as indeed that which happened at the end of their prophecy shows. Though for a period successfully
antagonizing the god of the earth to the extent designed by Providence and foreshadowed in this symbolism, they were to be on the downward side of things; they were to be of the class to whom it is not given to "laugh now", to be "full now", but to be prevailed against and to mourn and weep. This was illustrated in their final overthrow (verse 7): "When they shall have finished their testimony, the beast ... shall make war upon them and overcome them". This directs attention to the length of their testimony. How long was it to last? Verse 9 supplies the answer: "A thousand, two hundred and threescore days". The Papal Horn of Daniel's fourth beast was to prevail against the saints 1,260 days: but is this the same period? It cannot be, for whereas the power of the Fourth Beast to prevail against the saints ceases at the end of Daniel's 1,260, the beast overcomes them at the end of this period. How are the two periods to be placed then? That of the Papal power we know began A.D. 606-8, and has expired in our generation, as evidenced by the disappearance of the Temporal Power of the Pope; but that other period defines the length of the witnessing of the two prophets -- twelve hundred and sixty years. When did this begin and end? Let us see how the thing works in history. There is a very ready way of reaching the result.
From the overthrow of Paganism in Rome, by the victories of Constantine, "the first Christian emperor", by which the Christian community was lifted from the severest depths of persecution to the highest and serenest regions of imperial favour, to the organized attempt of Church and State to exterminate the heretics in France, was exactly a period of 1,260 years. Thus Constantine ascended the throne A.D. 312: add to this 1,260 and you have 1,572 -- the date of what is known as the massacre of the Huguenots. The question is, do these facts and figures correspond with the requirements of the prophecy? The answer is justifiably in the affirmative. The sackcloth witnessing of the two prophets undoubtedly commenced with the accession of Constantine to the imperial throne. This will seem strange when that event was favourable to the Christians: but the strangeness will cease if we remember that the witnessing was to be directed against authorities professing to be Christians but not truly so, as shown by their representation as Gentile occupants of the outer court, as we have already seen. Now, such a witnessing could not take place while Rome was Pagan. Paganism made no pretence to belong to the temple of God. It
did not stand in the outer court or any other part of the mystical temple: it has no connection with it at all, but opposed and tried to destroy it with the terrible engines of persecution. It required a nominal Christianity to be on the throne before the testimony of the witnesses in the presence of the Gentiles of the outer court could commence. When Christianity did mount the throne, though it did in a certain shape become the favoured religion of the State, yet true Christianity became an outcast. There was a class that did not enjoy the imperial favour, but became as decidedly proscribed and bitterly persecuted as ever the Christians were at the hands of Paganism. Eusebius, who lived at the time, speaking of what happened after Constantine's accession, says: "Again the worshippers of God began to flee: again the open fields, the deserts, forests and mountains received the servants of Christ". On this subject, Dr. Thomas says: "Constantine delighted to style himself 'The Deliverer of the Church'. He was truly the deliverer of the Catholic Church; but he was also the first to inflict persecution and death itself upon those who 'kept the commandments of the Deity and retained the testimony of Jesus Christ' . . . The dissenters from the Catholic Church were afflicted and oppressed. . . . Constantine easily credited the insinuation that the HERETICS, as they were called, who presumed to dispute his opinions or to oppose his commands were guilty of the most absurd and criminal obstinacy . . . Confounded with these so-called heretics as has been the case in all ages since, were those who held the testimony, and therefore the witnesses of Jesus. Not a moment was lost in excluding their pastors and teachers from any share in the rewards and immunities Constantine had so liberally bestowed."
From this time forth, the dissenters maintained a steady testimony and protest against the Established Church. From this time, therefore, it seems reasonable to date the days of their prophecy. As a matter of fact, there are just 1,260 years from Constantine's accession to the massacre of the Huguenots. This massacre was the massacre of a representative class. The Huguenots of France were representative of the witnesses in all "the earth" in which the Pope was god. They were more numerous and powerful there than in any other part of the Papal dominions, and therefore to attack them there, was to aim a blow at them everywhere. The blow aimed at them was terrible. It was not merely the outbreak of a formidable persecution: it was a deliberate attempt to exterminate them, an attempt which was perse-
vered in at intervals for over a hundred years, and which ended in 1685, on the revocation of the edict of Nantes, in the persecution and death of the party for a season.
It strikes one at first as odd that this Apocalyptic tragedy should be identified so prominently with France. But the impression disappears on a full view of all facts. There are two reasons for this prominence of France in the matter. France as the first nation to submit to the Roman See, has always borne the title "the eldest son of the Church" (and what the eldest son does is done for all the family). But the second reason is more emphatic and decisive. The prophecy says, "The dead bodies of the witnesses shall lie in the street of the Great City, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified". Now, first identify "the Great City", and it will be easy to find "the (principal) street". It is not necessary for me to prove to you that the great city of the Apocalypse is Rome. But you say, there is a difficulty here. The passage says Jesus was crucified in the Great City of which it is speaking, and Jesus was not crucified in Rome. The answer is to be found in the fact that in the constitution of the Roman Empire, the City of Rome was finally made co-extensive with the Roman Empire -- that is, Rome was, so to speak, legally stretched out in all directions so as to cover every part of the Roman Empire. The whole empire was the city. This was by the decree of Caracalla many centuries before the death of the witnesses. Now the Great City in this sense reached from Persia in the east to the Atlantic on the west, and in this great city "our Lord was crucified", for Judaea was part of the Roman dominions, and Jesus was crucified within the Roman jurisdiction, by Roman officials, according to Roman forms. As it was a question of the death of the witnesses, there was something appropriate in referring to the fact that the Lord himself was slain within the same jurisdiction -- a jurisdiction only comparable to Sodom and Egypt in its spiritual relations. He was not crucified in the same part of the city, however. The dead bodies of the witnesses were to lie in THE street -- the principal street, thoroughfare, or section of the Great City. As the city is here used for the entire breadth of the Roman dominion, THE street must be the leading political sub-division of that dominion, and therefore France, "the eldest son". We see the same sense in the phrase "THE tenth part of the city" farther on (verse 13), when the overthrow of the French State is the subject of prediction. It is interesting to be informed that this view was entertained by a leading writer
in the witness-community well on in the seventeenth century. Peter Jurieu, a Huguenot pastor, it seems, published a book "The accomplishment of the Scripture prophecies", in which he points out that the Great City is Rome in conjunction with its empire, and that the tenth part of that city was France. You will find an extract from his works in the second volume of Eureka on page 649.
When tidings of the final suppression of the witnesses by fire and sword reached Rome, the Pope was very glad, and held a procession of cardinals in celebration of the event, and appointed a Jubilee, and other public rejoicings. He also ordered a medal to be struck in commemoration of it, of which specimens are extant at the present day, exhibiting an angel with a drawn sword and the forms of a slain crowd lying before him. In this you will recognize the historic parallel to what is stated in verse 10: "They that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another". The medals, etc., also illustrate the meaning of the statement (verse 9) that they would not suffer the dead bodies of the witnesses to be put in graves. To put a thing in the grave symbolically is to bury it out of sight -- forget it. Instead of being thus buried away, the slain witnesses were kept in public view in the way referred to. It was particularly in France that their dead bodies thus lay exposed in the symbolical sense, for there it was a day to be observed as every year came round -- a day in which it was considered "the Church" in 1685 had finally triumphed over its enemies who had plagued it for ages.
How long this exposure lasted is stated in the prophecy, verse 9: "They of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and a half", at the close of which they were to have a resurrection. We should suppose that this meant three years and a half. Those who read public events at the time in the light of the Apocalypse were of this expectation: but history has shown it meant a longer period than this. The interval from the death of the witnesses (in 1685) to their resurrection (1790) was just 105 years. The difficulty is how this period can be compressed into a symbolical number of three and a half days. The solution was suggested at the beginning of the present century by a writer called Bicheno, viz., that the three and a half days were three and a half lunar days, that is, days of the moon instead of the earth. The moon turns upon its axis just once in thirty days, consequently one day of the moon is just thirty times longer than one day upon earth, and would represent thirty
days. Three and a half days of the moon would therefore be 105 earth-days, which, on the day-for-a-year principle, would stand for the 105 years which elapsed between the death and resurrection of the witnesses. In truth, therefore, there is no departure in the case from the ordinary scale of symbolic time -- day for a year; only the days are compressed into a smaller symbol still. Why should this be? Obviously to suit the symbolic circumstances with which the time was connected in the case. The circumstance was the exposure of dead bodies. It would have been contrary to nature to speak of dead bodies being exposed 105 days; it involved no violation of decorum to speak of them as being exposed three and a half days, and these being lunar days, were an accurate measure of the historic time, though this was not perceived till events themselves made it manifest.
"And after three days and a half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. And the same hour there was a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of the names of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven." This was to come to pass at the end of the three and a half lunar days of 105 terrestrial days or years. Add 105 years to A.D. 1685 (the date of the revocation of the edict of Nantes and the final massacre of the Huguenots), and you have 1790. What happened then in harmony with the picture placed before us in the verses I have read? The most awful revolution that ever occurred in the annals of mankind. You should read the history of the French Revolution. You will find events unfolded themselves in the order of the symbols. The spirit of political life re-animated the people who had been ignored and powerless for more than a century. A great voice from heaven, -- that is, a summons from the throne of the tenth of the great city -- a summons from Louis XVI, invited the common people, who had not been publicly recognized since the massacre of the Huguenots, to "come up hither", or come together for the exercise of legislative power in the arrangement of the disordered affairs of the realm. They responded in a cloud, and in such a form therefore as to inspire great fear in the mind of the king, nobles and clergy, who beheld them stand upon their feet. They had not been long assembled when they took possession of
supreme power, disestablished the church, confiscated the estates of the clergy and nobles, imprisoned and decapitated the king, abolished all titles (the seven thousand names of men, spoken of in the original), proclaimed faith in God a superstition -- France no longer a kingdom but a Republic. They also executed thousands by the guillotine, who were in the least suspected of sympathy with the old order of things. Everyone has heard of the Reign of Terror: it is the description applied to these events. The whole population lived in daily fear of their lives. Over a million perished by violence in connection with the events of this terrible earthquake in which also the tenth of the city fell, that is, France as a royalty was overthrown and altogether separated from" the city" of which she was the leading tenth. The noise of her fall made the earth tremble, and sent a thrill throughout civilized life, the vibrations of which are active at the present hour. The leaders of the Revolution, to accomplish their reform, resorted to the terrible expedient of cutting off the heads of all who did not agree with them. The guillotine worked day and night, and heads rolled by the thousand. The slaughter at last came to be so indiscriminate that the guillotine could not work fast enough and its operations were aided by filling leaky ships with people, and sending them out to sea to sink. Such a time of terror was never known in the history of the world.
We read "the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to God". So it came out. In the reaction that set in when people were tired of these dreadful occurrences, a public decree was sanctioned, recognizing the existence of God and a future life, and convoking a national assembly in the Deity's honour. The assembly in honour of "the God of heaven" was held in the presence of thousands -- Robespierre officiating as priest. It all came out in the order of the prophecy.
The effects of that revolution are visible to-day. It has proved the resurrection of liberty in Europe, both political and religious, and the undermining of the position of the Papal tyranny which has gone rapidly downwards ever since, until the Papacy now is only a shadow of its former self. The very development of the truth itself is traceable to the forces set in motion by it: but I won't go into that. If you desire to comprehend these things in their details, I would advise you to read Eureka, in which there is a great mine of instruction.
"The second woe is past, and the third woe cometh quickly." This is the apocalyptic comment on the French Revolution. What is the third woe that comes quickly on the
back of the French Revolution -- that is, "quickly" in the apocalyptic sense -- quickly as compared with the time taken by the first and second woes? The third woe is the seventh trumpet -- for the three last trumpets of the seven are the three woes, as you will recollect (Rev. 8:13). Well, John hears the seventh trumpet, and what are its effects? "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 for ever and ever" (verse 15). Hence, not long in the world's history after the French Revolution, a still greater Revolution is due--viz., the transfer of all kingdoms on earth to Christ at his coming -- a transfer not to be effected without "a time of trouble such as never was when this mighty revolution is announced under the seventh trumpet, John beholds the elders prostrate themselves before God, and give utterance in thanksgiving to a view of the situation which has received our attentive consideration: "Thou hast taken to thee Thy great power, and hast reigned." It is a time of divine actual taking of power in a way not occurrent previous to the seventh trumpet: a time when Christ returns to reign really on the earth. They go on to say, "The nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them that destroy the earth."
Here we have a number of items characteristic of "the end" shortly after the French Revolution. They are divinely specified items. Believers in the word will seriously note them. There is anger among the nations, succeeded by a manifestation of God's wrath against the long-borne-with wickedness of men, the resurrection -- "time of the dead", that is, time for the dead to awake, as Daniel says of this very time: "at that time, many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake" (Dan. 12:2) -- the rewarding of the prophets and the servants of God in general, and the destruction of all who tyrannize over and destroy the earth. We might conclude without further information that these events must involve the appearing of Christ, seeing the Scriptures always associate these events with his coming (2 Tim, 4:1; 1 Thess. 4:13-17; Matt. 16:27). A symbol is introduced expressly to show it: "And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings and voices and thunderings and an
earthquake and great hail." The "temple of God" measured off for down-treading in the beginning of the chapter is here at the end of it, exhibited as established "in heaven" -- in exaltation -- in the sphere of power. The saints glorified appear in their corporate capacity as a manifested power in the earth. The time has come for them to take the sword of judgment, as foreshown in the Scriptures (Dan. 7:22; Psa. 149:5-9; Rev. 2:26-27). But in their midst is One from whom they receive their entire character and position. "In the temple was seen the ark of his testament." In the midst of the saints is one who is the antitypical ark of the covenant, the blood, sprinkled mercy seat. They surround Him in great love and praise and glory, saying, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing, for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred and tongue, and hast made us unto our God kings and priests." To say that this ark was seen at such a time is to intimate the Lord's second appearing in power and great glory, shortly after the second woe. "The lightnings and thunderings and voices and earthquake and great hail" following the opening of the temple in heaven, find their counterpart in the calamitous judgments by which the great revolution of the third woe is effected by Jesus and the saints -- a time of war, convulsions and trouble such as has not yet been witnessed upon earth.
We are enabled by this eleventh chapter of the Apocalypse to see in a certain way where we are now. The French Revolution of 1790 is a distinct landmark. As we think of it in the light of this chapter, and ponder the announcement that the third woe cometh quickly, we are made to feel that we cannot be far off the great consummation upon which our hearts are set. The same conclusion is warranted by many other signs, as we know. We are verging towards that crisis which to the world will bring a season of unparalleled trouble, but to the friends of Christ, the age of blessedness, life, and everlasting joy.
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