THE RESURRECTION OF
from (the mystical Babylon) ROME.
Clearly demonstrated to be accomplished.
Whereby Great encouragement is administered to all Saints, but especially to the Saints in England.
In the handling of a part of the eleventh chapter of the REVELATION.
By M. Cary,
a Minister or Servant of Jesus Christ, and of all his Saints.
PSAL. 126. 1, 2, 3: When the LORD turned again the captivity of Sion: we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing, then said they among the heathen: The LORD hath done great things for them. The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.
Printed by D. M. for Giles Calvert at the black-spread-Eagle
at the west end of Paul's, 1648.
To the Honoured FRANCIS ROƲSE AND Thomas Boon Esquires, Members of the Honourable House of COMMONS in PARLIAMENT.
IT being the great design of God the Father to set up his Son our Lord Jesus Christ, as his King upon the holy hill of Sion, and (though the Heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things, saying, Come let us break their bonds in sunder, and cast away their cords from us) to give him the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession. I say, this being God's design, he hath for the effecting of it, given all power and authority in heaven and in earth into his hand, and accordingly Jesus Christ hath undertaken to execute all God's decrees, which are mentioned in the prophecy of the Book of the Revelation, where we find that God had decreed, that for an appointed term of time, his Church, his Temple, his Saints should be in an afflicted, persecuted, depressed, low condition, and that the Beast, and the Babylonian enemies of his Church should have power to grow great, and to flourish, and to make war against the Saints, and to blaspheme God, and his name, and his Saints, for an appointed time also, and that after that time was expired, that then Jesus Christ should improve that power that was for that end given to him, in giving a glorious deliverance to his Church, and ruining totally the Beast, great Babylon, and all his enemies, That so the kingdom of this world may become his kingdoms, and that in such a manner, as they were not before, even so as all that are in authority, that will not cast their Crowns at his feet, shall be broken in pieces, for he the Lord alone must be exalted in that day; there must be one Lord, and his name one in all the earth. Now as it most clearly appears to me from the divine oracles of the Scripture, having compared the works of God, and his Word together, I have in the ensuing discourse held it forth (for the encouragement of all that wait for the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ for the overthrowing of his enemies, and the deliverance of his people from their persecutions) that the time is already come, wherein the appointed time of the prevailing power of the Beast over the Saints, is come to a period; and accordingly Jesus Christ hath begun to bring down the power of the Beast, and to lift up his Saints out of that low, afflicted, persecuted condition in which they have been, and that in order to the perfecting of these things England is already fallen from the mystical Babylon, Rome.
Now, Honoured Sir, you having been glorious stars, shining with a great deal of splendour in your country both in the publicness of your spirits, and the holiness of your conversations, wherein you have been eminent Examples, and special encouragements unto others, and knowing that it is the desire of your souls to see the Lord Jesus alone advanced, who-ever be thrown down. I have presumed to present this little treatise unto you, not doubting of your ingenuous and favourable acceptance of it. But though I publish it under your name and favour, yet do I not thereby desire you to patronize anything in it (if there should be anything) that is not truth, and for the truth that is in it, I need desire no patron; for great is the truth, and it will prevail. Yet notwithstanding the sons of truth, as far as the truth appears to them in truth will own it, and contend for it, and doubtless so will you. I am
A petitioner to heaven for Sion's, this kingdom's and your prosperity,
TO THE READER.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the eighteenth chapter of Luke, from the first to the eighth verse, from the example of the importunate widow, stirring up his disciples to importunate prayer, he there assures them, That God will surely hear the prayers of his own elect that cry to him day and night, and avenge them of their adversaries; and this he will do for them, though he make them tarry long. And hereby Saints may be assured, That God will hear their frequent importunate prayers, which night and day they have put up against the man of sin, the Beast, and their Babylonian enemies, who have trodden the Saints under feet, and made war against them, and overcome them, and dealt cruelly with them above this twelve hundred years: and that he will at last avenge them on these their enemies. But says our Saviour at the eighth verse, Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on earth? Whereby he implies, That when he cometh, his people shall scarce have faith to believe that he will thus avenge them on their enemies. But when he shall come to do it, it will be beyond their faith. And even thus is it with Saints now, they have scarce faith to believe, that the Lord Jesus hath now begun, and is going on to avenge his own elect on their adversaries, the mystical Babylonians. Now for the strengthening of the faith of Saints concerning this thing, I do present them with this ensuing discourse, wherein as the Lord hath discovered it to me (to the strengthening of my faith concerning the prosperity of Sion henceforward, and giving me great joy and pleasure therein.) I have made it to appear from the Scriptures, That the Lord hath already lifted up his Saints from under the vassalage of their enemies, and hath begun to put the cup of trembling, into the hands of them that afflicted them. Which I desire that all that love, and honour the Lord Jesus may diligently observe.
For the most high God, of whom, and through whom, and to whom are all things, and for whose pleasure they are, and were created, both whose wisdom and knowledge are unfathomable; tells his people of old by the Prophet Isaiah, as we have it in the forty eighth chapter of his prophecy, at the third and the fifth verses, That he declared from the beginning the things he would bring to pass, and that he showed it them before it came to pass: and he gives the reason why he did so, in the fourth and fifth verses, Because (said he) I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass: And, least thou shouldest say, Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image hath commanded them. And therefore the Prophet Isaiah in the forty eighth chapter, and fourteenth verse, he makes a challenge to the nations, and to the people, to assemble themselves, and to show which among them hath declared those things. But there is none to be found among the sons of men that can declare anything: for he maketh the diviners mad, &c. And Isaiah the forty third, and the thirteenth, he saith, Before the day was, I am he, and there is none that can deliver out of mine hands: I will work, and who shall let it. And Isaiah the forty six chapter, and the ninth and tenth verses, I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times, the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure. And yet notwithstanding all this, that people of Israel, who had seen and known, (or might have) all the glorious works of the most high, and observed how he declared things before they came to pass, and had thereby a greater advantage then the heathen, of being convinced of his eternal Power and God-head: Yet were they so vile, as to question it, having in them an enmity to the true God, and chose rather to worship Idols, and deny the Eternal God: As appears in the forty sixth chapter of Isaiah, and therefore at the eighth and ninth verses, he says, Remember this, and show yourselves men, and bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors. Remember the former things of old, for I am GOD, and there is none else, I am GOD, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done; saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure. Remember; as if he had said, and show yourselves men, show yourselves to be rational creatures, and be not as the horse and mule that hath no understanding; but seeing I have declared from ancient times, the things I would do long before they came to pass: saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: And be ye thereby convinced, that I am GOD, and there is none like me. But as then, so now, are there many that are become atheists, denying the true GOD, and JESUS CHRIST, whom he hath sent, whose neck are an iron sinew, and their brow brass, who had they not lost the principles of reason, might by the things of the creation, be convinced of His eternal power and God-head, Romans the first chapter, and the twentieth verse. As also by observing how he declared, what it was his will to bring to pass long ago, and how he hath brought to pass what he so declared. But they have lost even the principles of reason which they once had, by which they might have then been convinced hereof; whereby they are left without excuse, as the Apostle says, Romans the first and the twentieth. But they having lost reason, are now become vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart is darkened; and though they profess themselves to be wise, and are puffed up with self-conceits of wisdom, in their frothy and blasphemous discourses: yet they are become fools, changing the truth of GOD into a lie. And the Apostle gives the reason why GOD hath thus given them over, in the first chapter to the Romans the one and twentieth, and the eight and twentieth verses, Because they did not like to retain GOD in their knowledge, and because that when they knew GOD, they glorified him not as GOD. The like reason he giveth, why them that perish are deceived by the man of sin, as in the second Epistle to the Thessalonians the second chapter, and the tenth verse, Because they received not the love of the truth.
But now, Though atheists, and Papists, deny the Eternal GOD, and observe not his wonderful works, how he declares things long before they come to pass: saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure; and accordingly brings it to pass, because their foolish heart is darkened: yet all his Saints do, and will observe this: For saith the Psalmist, in the hundred and eleventh Psalm, and the second and third verses, The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein. His work is honourable, and glorious, and his righteousness endureth for ever: He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered, &c. The LORD hath made his wonderful works to be remembered among his Saints, though others remember them not, yet his Saints have pleasure in them, and therefore search them out, and they have a promise made to them, That in the observing the wonderful things of the LORD, they shall understand his loving kindness, it runs thus, Who so is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving kindness of the LORD, as Psalm the hundred and third and the forty third verse. Now it being so, let Saints diligently observe the ensuing discourse, wherein it doth appear, That GOD hath brought to pass the things he did fifteen hundred years ago predeclare; which they observing it may tend much to the strengthening of their faith in this, That JESUS CHRIST hath begun, and is going on to avenge them on their enemies. For in the ensuing discourse it will appear, That as JESUS CHRIST did long since reveal to John, how that after the mystical Babylonians had persecuted his Saints a long time, he would raise up his Saints out of their persecuted condition, and bring down those their Babylonian enemies: So he hath already begun to do this thing, even to raise up his Saints, and to bring down their enemies, and that punctually, according to what he did reveal to John.
Now I know there hath been observed by many Saints, many things that GOD revealed to John, which he hath brought to pass. Many of which observations are already in print: but that which I chiefly aim at in this discourse, is that which is not yet printed by any other, and whether any other have yet observed it, I know not; but they are passages so eminently worthy to be observed, in this present time, because they give the Saints such ground of encouragement and consolation, in respect of the happy success that shall be of the very present affairs of this kingdom (how knotty and difficult so ever for the present, or for sometime, yet they may appear to be) as that in love to all Saints I could not but communicate them to them in this way.
But there are two things, which it may be may cause some to retain some unbelieving and doubtful thoughts concerning the happy success of present things, although it be made clear in the following discourse, That the time of Saints being clothed in sackcloth is expired.
First, It may be some cannot receive it, because they look for farther judgements to come upon this kingdom, (wherein outwardly the Saints may suffer also) because of the great provoking sins of this kingdom, as drunkenness, and adulteries, and oaths, and their entering into so many covenants concerning religious things, for which they have no sufficient warrant, now in the times of the Gospel, and the oppressions of the poor, and meaner sort of people, and the great neglect of doing justice generally, &c. Now to these I say, That it is true, that if God should deal with this nation, according to its demerits; then indeed no other could be expected, but an utter desolation of it, that it might either swim in blood, or burn with fire until it were consumed. But
First, I desire you to consider, That God hath a very great number of his dear Saints in this kingdom, in whom he delights, and for whose sake he may, and I had almost said, will spare this kingdom, and spare the cities and towns, and counties where they are for if God would have spared Sodom for ten righteous persons, we have a great ground of hope, that he will spare London, yea all England from a general devastation and desolation, having thousands of righteous persons in London, and in all England a very great number. And how many plots of wicked men, wherein they endeavoured the ruin of this kingdom, hath God blasted? Having such a great number of his precious jewels in it.
And secondly, What though here be in this kingdom, many that are great enemies to Jesus Christ, yet God can by his Covenant of Grace, bring many of them in to the obedience of Christ, and make them of persecutors to become eminent Saints, and call those his people that were not his people: And why should we doubt whether he would do so, since these are the times wherein he hath promised to do so, and hath already begun to do it? But
Thirdly, If it be so, that some are hardened to destruction, and they are never quiet, but still are plotting against the just, to ruin them: yet know they shall not prevail over the Saints, but in opposing them shall ruin themselves, Zech. 12. 3. as appears in the following discourse.
Secondly, Doubtful thoughts may be in others, that yet the Saints may be overcome, because they see they have so many enemies abroad, and at home, and they are speaking great words, and are still plotting against them. To such, I say, Let them suppose that there were none that did dare to make any opposition at all in this kingdom, but that all things went smoothly on, in the hands of those that are carrying it on: and if they could then believe, that indeed God would not have his Saints in this kingdom to be trodden under foot by the Beast any more. Then let them have the same faith to believe it now, as knowing it is as easy with God, to carry on this work over the mountains as over the plains, and he will make the great mountain to become a plain before Zerubbabel, before his people, Zech. 4. 7. He can command those that are preparing war against them to sit still, and proceed no farther, and put a fear upon them; or if they do go on, yet he can make it to come to nothing, and to be the most effectual way to lay them lower, and to raise his people higher.
Now if any particular man would be as sure of safety, as all the witnesses in general are; then if he be a man in any public employment, let him according to his place oppose the Beast, and act for the welfare of all that wish well to Sion, and do justice unto all, from the highest unto the lowest, and be more forward to act for the meanest, then for the highest. Let him suppose the condition of the meanest man that seeks to him for just things to be his own condition, and act for him, as he would be dealt with himself were he in that condition: for thus relieving of the poor and distressed ones, is most acceptable to the Lord of Sabbath, and in so doing, I am confident it will go well with him, however it go with others.
Again, If he be a private man; let him also in his place, wish well to Sion, and oppose the Beast; so shall he also prosper in the prosperity of Sion.
And now Reader, whoever thou art, if thou dost receive any benefit of any kind, by reading the ensuing discourse, whether of encouragement, consolation, information, or quickening, I beseech thee to return all the glory of it to the most High, to whom alone it is due, who for that end made use of so weak an instrument: in whom if thou be a friend to the Lord Jesus Christ, I am
Thy friend to serve thee
Revel. chap. 11. from Verse. 1. to 14.
1. And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.
2. 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.
3. And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
4. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
5. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.
6. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
7. And 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.
8. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
9. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
10. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.
11. And after three days and an 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.
12. 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.
13. And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.
14. The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.
From these verses, I desire as the Lord shall enable me, to declare that which God hath discovered to me: For I hope that it may be as advantageous to others, as it hath been to my own soul.
But though the publication of what appears to me in these verses, be that which I chiefly aim at; yet being pressed in spirit, to give forth some meditations from the Preamble of this Book; which Preamble is contained in the three first verses of the first chapter of this book of the Revelation: I cannot but here insert it, as a Preamble to the following discourse also; though it may be it may not seem in the eyes of some so pertinent.
The three verses are as follows:
1. The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John.
2. Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
3. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein, for the time is at hand.
In these verses is contained these five particulars:
First, The subject matter of this book.
Secondly, The reason of the divulgation of this book.
Thirdly, The instruments of the divulgation of this book.
Fourthly, The fruitfulness of those instruments in the divulging this book.
Fifthly, The pronunciation of a blessing upon the persons that read or hear the words of this book.
The first particular contained in these verses, is the subject matter of this book; and that it expressed in these words, The Revelation of things that must shortly come to pass, The word of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ. From whence this is the Observation.
Observ. 1. That the whole book of the Revelation, is a Revelation, declaration or manifestation of the mind of God, about the things which were to come to pass, shortly after the revealing of it: which Revelation is the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
This point being so evident, and clear in the text, I shall not produce any further proofs of it, because I intend brevity, but immediately proceed to the deductions which flow from it, which are these.
If this book be a revelation or declaration of the mind of God about the things, which were shortly to come to pass: then it is our duty to observe how God hath brought to pass, the things which he did pre-declare he would bring to pass; that so we may glorify God in his omnisciency in fore seeing, and fore-knowledge of all things, and in his omnipotency, in bringing the things to pass which he did foreappoint to bring to pass: that he can do all things, and nothing can hinder him from bringing all things to pass, according to the counsel of his own will. When Saints do most diligently observe the works which God brings to pass, according to what he hath pre-declared in his word; then do they most answer the end, for which God did before reveal these things, which was that he might be admired and magnified by his people, in bringing all things to pass according to his word, showing that he is God alone: for none else can declare things to come, as the eternal God doth. But how can Saints have experience of this, but by comparing his Word and works together? Therefore it is the duty of Saints frequently so to do. So much of the first.
Secondly, Is this book of the Revelation, the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ? then we are hereby informed, That it is warrantable for us to call that which is a revelation of the mind of God, the word of God. We see John calls it so, and why may not we? I the rather speak of this: because some have affirmed, That nothing may be called the Word of God, but Jesus Christ; because it is a title the Scripture gives to him, as John 1. 1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And verse. 14. The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten Son of God, full of grace and truth. And 1 Joh. 5. 7. For there are three that bare record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the holy Ghost, and these three are one. And Revel. 19. 13. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood, and his name is called, The word of God; and the armies that were in heaven followed him upon white horses, &c. But let these know, that though in these places that title, The word of God, is given to Jesus Christ, he being the essential word of God: which is the reason why this title is given to him. Yet that the Spirit of God, gives this title also to the Scripture, to the written word, the word which is the Revelation of the mind of God, as appears here, and in other places, as Jer. 2. 1. Moreover, the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Go and cry in the ears, &c. And verse. 4. Hear ye the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel. And Jer. 7. 2. Stand in the gates of the Lord's house, and proclaim there this word, saying, Hear the word of the Lord all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of host, the God of Israel: amend your ways, &c. And Jer. 14. 1. The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the dearth, &c. And Jer. 30. 1, 2. The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord God of Israel, saying, Write all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book. And several like passages to these we have, as in Ezekiel 6. 1. and 7. 1. and 12. 1. and 16. 1. and Hos. 1. 1. and 4. 1. And the like we have also in Joel, Jonah, Micah, Zechary, and the rest of the Prophets: where it is clear, That that which was the Revelation, or manifestation of the mind of God, concerning the ways in which he would have his people to walk, or the things which he was about to do, whether of bringing a dearth upon a people, or any other judgement; or the doing of them good: This title is given to it; The word of God. So that it is clear that this title may be given to the written Word, the Scripture, both by all the fore-cited places (besides many others that might have been cited to the same effect) and also in the text, where this book of the Revelation, is called the word of God. But I still acknowledge, That Jesus Christ is more eminently the word of God, he being the original of it: for as God doth all things else by Jesus Christ, so he gives out his Word by him, and Jesus Christ gives testimony to it: which is the next instruction arising from the point, and comes now to be spoken of.
Thirdly, Is it so, that this Book of the Revelation is the Word of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ? Then this may inform us, that as this: so all the Scriptures, do as truly come from Jesus Christ, as from God the Father: for he gives testimony to what the Father says. What the Father declares, he witnesses, and testifieth the same; and therefore he is said to be The faithful witness. Rev. 1. 5. And it is said of him, 2 Cor. 1. 20. For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him amen. So much of the first particular, the subject matter of this Book. I come now to the second, which is.
The reason of the divulgation of this Book; and that is contained in these words: Which God gave unto Jesus Christ to show unto his servants. From whence arises this Observation.
Observ. 2. That it is the pleasure of God, to have his servants acquainted with his secrets, and to know what is his mind concerning things to come.
This we see was the reason of the divulgation of this Book: because it was the mind of God to have his servants acquainted with it, a suitable place to this, is that, John 15. 15. Henceforth (saith Jesus Christ) I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doth; but I call you friends: for all things that I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you: and Psalm. 25. 14. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will show them of his covenant. So that it is a clear truth, That it is the pleasure of God to have his servants acquainted with his secrets, and to know his mind, concerning things to come.
It being so, in the first place it teaches Saints to admire, and magnify the love of the Father, that doth express himself so graciously to them, as to afford them that honour to be as his friends, in revealing his secrets to them. It is a remarkable passage, Amos 3. 7. Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secrets unto his servants the prophets. Oh what a high savour is this, that the Lord should engage himself that he will do nothing, but he will reveal it unto his servants! As a tender husband unbosoms himself, and discovers his secrets to his beloved wife, and cannot withhold them from her. So the Lord God doth express his tender love unto his servants, in revealing his secrets to them, and he will do nothing but he will discover it unto them. What cause have Saints now to admire, and extoll that rich Grace of God, that is extended to them herein?
Secondly, Doth the Lord reveal his secrets unto his servants? Then ought they to be diligent observers of what he reveals unto them. Revealed things are said to belong unto us, and if they belong unto us, then it behoves Saints to observe them, and to improve them to those ends for which they are discovered to us; and if we should come short of it, we should demean ourselves very unworthily. When a man reveals his secret unto his dear friend, if his friend should slight him in it, and take no notice of what he discovers to him, he were a very unkind, and a very unworthy friend: But how much more may we be said, to carry ourselves unkindly, and unworthily; if we should slight the love of our God, in revealing his secrets to us, by not being diligent in observing of them? Since it pleases the Lord, to reveal to his servants things to come; it well becomes them to observe them exactly. And so much of the second particular, the reason of the divulgation of this Book.
I come now to the third, which is the instruments of the divulgation of this Book, which is contained in these words: Who sent, and signified it by his angel unto his servant John. So that the angel, and John, were employed as instruments in that work. From whence the Observation is this.
Observ. 3. That though Jesus Christ could reveal immediately to al his servants, all these things revealed in this Book; yet it pleased him to choose rather to do it by instruments.
If it had pleased him, he might have revealed these things to all his people, in all ages since John, immediately by his own Spirit; but he chooses rather to do it by the writings of John: which he preserves and keeps up in a high esteem in the hearts of all his Saints; as his own infallible, and unquestionable truth, and testimony: or else he might have sent a John, or some prophet of his, to have revealed these things by mouth unto his people, in every age, age after age: but he chooses rather to do it by revealing it to John, so many hundreds of years ago; and his writings must be the instruments of revealing these things unto his people; and he might have revealed those things unto John immediately himself, without any other instrument: but he chooses to signify it by his angel to his servant John. So he might teach, and edify, and build up his people immediately; but he chooses rather to do it by instruments, by apostles, and prophets, and evangelists, and pastors, and teachers: which he hath appointed, For the perfecting of the Saints, for the edifying of the body of Christ; till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man, &c. Ephes. 4. 11, 12, 13.
So he might likewise, have revealed himself immediately to all his people of old; but generally it pleased him to make use either of angels, or of his servants the Prophets, to be the instruments of revealing his mind unto his people then. Now the reasons why it pleaseth God, usually to make use of instruments to effect his designs by, may be these.
The first is that which is the reason of all his doings; his own will. He makes use of instruments, because it is his will to make use of instruments: for his will is the reason, and the rule of all his actions.
Secondly, But a subordinate reason to this, may be to show his sovereignty over all his people; therefore he sends them about his work, they being all at his royal command.
As a Prince hath power over all that are in his dominion, saying to this man go, and he goeth, and to another, come, and he cometh, and to another do this, and he doth it: So the great King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, maketh it to appear that he hath all his servants at his beck, by sending of them about several employments.
Thirdly, Another reason why he maketh use of instruments, in revealing and discovering his mind to his people, and building up of his Saints, may be to maintain a communion among Saints: for if God should reveal himself to all alike, then would not his people have such communion one with another, as they have, to the end they may partake one of another's gifts; and therefore doth it please the Lord to make use of instruments, whereas if it pleased him, he could have effected all things immediately, without means or instruments: and since it is so then,
First, It reprehends those that have a low esteem of instruments, and slight and undervalue means, upon this ground: that God can work without instruments, and without means. But let such know, that it is the will of God to make use of instruments, and in slighting instruments, they contradict his will: and as they that slight the King's Officers, do slight the King: So they, in slighting the instruments and means that God hath appointed to work by, do slight God himself, and they do as much as in them lies, endeavour to break the Communion of Saints. And surely whatever the pretences of such persons are, that do neglect means, and slight instruments, this cometh not from the Spirit of God in them; for the Spirit teacheth not to undervalue any means, which God hath appointed to be used. Though it is true, The Spirit teaches us not to idolize means, nor to tie God to work only by means, but to acknowledge that God can, and sometimes doth work without means and instruments; though he doth usually work by means and instruments: and therefore it is as great an evil on the one side, to reject the instruments, or means that God uses to work by, because he hath not absolutely tied himself to them; as on the other side, to idolize means or instruments, because God doth usually work by them.
Therefore in the second place Saints are here exhorted, to have a high esteem of instruments, as being of God's appointment, by whom he will reveal himself to his people, and quicken, and comfort, and build them up upon the true foundation. Since the Lord will make use of instruments, O Saints do not you slight them, least you slight God himself: but esteem them very highly in love, for their works sake. It is the rule of the Apostle, 1 Thes. 5. 12, 13. says the Apostle there, We beseech you brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their works sake. The Apostle knew very well that God could if he had pleased, have built up his people without employing some to labour among them, in the Word, and doctrine, and without the admonitions of men, but these being instruments, and means of God's appointment; He therefore presses the Saints, to esteem very highly of those instruments, for that works sake that God had appointed them unto: for though Paul, and Apollo, and Cephas can do nothing of themselves, yet they are to be highly esteemed, as being instruments in God's hand, by which God will work. And so all the means which God hath appointed for his people to make use of, in which he will be found of them, and in which he will have communion with them, let them prize, and embrace, and make use of, waiting upon God in the use of them, who will be found of them at last, and will make it appear, that they have not sought him in the use of means in vain. Though for a time he seem to be silent towards them, yet at last he that shall come, will come, an I will not tarry.
It is unquestionably the policy of Satan, to take off Saints from using means, that they may be deprived of that comfort, and benefit which otherwise they might obtain in the use of means.
Therefore let all Saints beware of such delusions, whereby they are drawn to dishonour God, in slighting the instruments and means which he hath appointed, and let them be exhorted to embrace means, and make diligent use of them; for they are blessed that so do, as will appear in the handling of the fifth particular. But so much for this third particular, the instruments of the divulgation of this book.
The fourth particular, Is the faithfulness of those instruments in the divulgation of this book, it is expressed in these words: Who bare record of the Word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus, and of all things that he saw. We see that as the angel signified it to John, so John did not fail in recording anything of it, but he bare record of all things that he saw. Whence the Observation is this:
Observ. 4. That when God setteth instruments about a work which he will have done, they must, and they shall effect it.
Jesus Christ will have his secrets declared to his servants, and he employeth John about this work; and John doth it punctually: he bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus, and what, of some things? Nay, of all things which he saw. And this truth is further confirmed, by two pertinent Scriptures, which we have to this effect. One is Amos 3. 8. The Lion hath roared, who will not fear? The Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy? The other is, Acts 4. 20. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. In both these places it appears, that it is not possible for instruments to be silent, nor to sit still, when God hath spoken to them, and given them commission to do his work.
First, Is it so that when God setteth instruments about a work which he will have done, that they must, and shall effect it? Then this informs us of the reason why Saints fear not persecution, nor imprisonment, nor death, but choose rather to suffer them all, then to conceal the truth that is discovered to them, or to desert the work they are called to: for God having stirred up their spirits, and set them about this work, they cannot be silent, and sit still, but shall go on in despite of all opposition, to accomplish the work which God hath appointed them to do. Thus did Luther, and thus have many other Saints done, and many shall do: For if the Lord have spoken they cannot but prophesy, speak the things they have seen and heard: for their light is not given them to hide it under a bushel; but their love to Christ constrains them to hold it forth, and the strength of Christ carries them forth.
Secondly, Since it is so, it serves to encourage Saints, considering that the work that God hath to do shall surely be accomplished, no opposition shall hinder it: for though instruments seem to be never so weak, yet they must, and shall accomplish God's designs. Therefore fear not, the day shall break forth, and the shadows shall fly away, and none of the powers of darkness shall be able to hinder it. But I shall say more to this point in the following discourse; Therefore so much shall suffice to be here spoken of it, and of this fourth particular, the faithfulness of the instruments of divulging this Book.
The fifth particular, Is the pronunciation of a blessing upon the persons that read, or hear the words of this Book. And that we have in these words: Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein; for the time is at hand. From whence arises this Observation.
Observ. 5. That it is a blessed thing, to read and hear the Word of God, and particularly that which is contained in the book of the Revelation, so as to keep it.
This clearly appears in these words: and the Apostle James likewise witnesseth the same, Jam. 1. 25. Be ye doers of the word (saith he at the 22. verse.) and not hearers only deceiving your own selves. Whereas it appears he speaks of the written Word, which men may hear with the ear, and do not. And now at the 15. verse. he says: Who so looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein; he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. What is the man that James saith shall be blessed? It is the man that looketh into the perfect law of liberty, (that is) heareth or readeth the word of God in the Scripture, (which is a perfect law of liberty, spiritual liberty) and heareth or readeth it, not forgetfully, but is a doer of it: This is the blessed man.
Thus it is a clear, That it is a blessed thing to hear and read the Word of God, and particularly that which is contained in the Book of the Revelation, so as to keep it.
Then first, This condemns those that neglect the reading, and the hearing of the word: since it is a blessed thing to read, and hear the Word of God so as to do it.
Now they that do not read it, nor hear it, cannot do it: for says the Apostle, Rom. 10. 14. How shall they believe in him, of whom they have not heard? Implying, That without hearing the Word of God, they cannot believe in God: but if the Apostle had not so said, yet we see it to be true, In that the nations and people to whom the Gospel is not preached, and that do not read it, do altogether continue in unbelief. And so those that are under the darkness of Popery, to whom the word in the purity of it is not preached, and have not liberty to read it, they continue also in a dark and a miserable condition; but among those people where the Word is embraced, and read, and heard there are many brought into the obedience of faith. Nay, in some places of this kingdom where they seldom enjoy a public preacher, yet by reading the Word they are made partakers of the sweet blessing of it. They ought therefore to be sharply reproved for their folly, who neglect the hearing, and reading the Word, and consequently the doing of it, in which they might be blessed.
In the second place, Hence all sorts of people are exhorted to be frequent in reading the Word, for all desire to be blessed, and those that have in any measure been made partakers of the blessing of the Gospel, they cannot but desire more of it; therefore it would be wisdom for all to improve the means of being made blessed, which is hearing, and reading the Word.
If a man that desires a great outward estate, should be persuaded that if there were any way at all for him to attain that estate, it must be such, or such a way, that man would be sure to take that way.
Why this is the case in respect of attaining spiritual blessings; the readiest way that any Soul can take to attain them, is a frequent reading, and hearing of the Word of God, waiting for the coming in of the Spirit in it. O therefore let not men discover that they have a slight esteem of spiritual blessings, and heavenly treasures, by neglecting the means by which they are attained: for if men have a high esteem of gold, and pearls, if they know the means by which they may be attained, they will make use of those means: so according to the esteem we have of spiritual blessings, will be our diligence in improving the means of attaining them.
Object. But it may be someone will say, I have been frequent in hearing and reading the Word, and find it but an empty thing, I hear and am as carnal as before, I read and am as dark, and low as before; and therefore how can it be said that hearing, and reading the Word, is a means of attaining spiritual blessings?
Answ. First, If thou findest to thy apprehension, but little benefit from hearing or reading the Word; yet thou canst not conclude it would be better with thee, if thou didst not read or hear the Word, for there is no ground of hope for thee, when thou neglectest all means of enlivening, comforting, or of heightening the Spirit.
But secondly, Though to thy apprehension thou hast no benefit from reading, or hearing the Word, yet remember, that the Word is compared to seed, Mat. 13. 19. and 1 Pet. 1. 23. Now you know that seed useth to lie hid under the clods for a time, and afterward groweth up: so may the seed of the Word seem to be hid in thee for a time, and yet afterward it may grow up, and bring forth fruit. The Disciples while the Lord Jesus was with them, often heard his word, and he plainly foretold them of his Resurrection, but when their Lord was crucified, though they had so often heard it, yet they seemed to be altogether ignorant of the doctrine of the Resurrection, but afterward it was sweet unto them when the Spirit brought it, with other things to their remembrance. In the 4. of John's Gospel, at the 36, 37, 38. verses, our Saviour tells his Disciples, That both he that soweth, and he that reapeth shall rejoice together, but (says he) herein is that saying true, one soweth, and another reapeth. I have sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour, other men laboured and ye are entered into their labours. Others had sowed the seed of eternal life in the hearts of the people: and therefore he said in the 35, verse. That the fields were already white unto the harvest, but the Disciples were sent to reap the fruit of that seed, that others had laboured in the sowing of: So that one Minister may sow the seed of life, and joy in the hearts of some people, and another may reap it. But the time shall come, that both he that soweth, and he that reapeth shall rejoice together. When the seed is sown the fruit doth not by and by appear, and of this Saints have had experience, that have lain long under the hearing of the Word, frequently attending upon it, and been diligent in reading, and yet have attained to their own apprehensions neither to faith, nor peace, nor joy, nor strength, but have seemed to be as unbelieving, as carnal, and as fleshly as ever, walking heavily for a long time: And that Word which hath been sweet to others that at the same time heard it, hath been as nothing to them. That word which hath raised the heart, and strengthened the faith, and inflamed the love of others, hath seemed to have no effect upon them, and thus some have continued weeks, months, nay years together, and if they have had any reviving, it hath been but as a morning dew; and yet at last when the Fathers appointed time was come, wherein he hath raised them up to joy, and peace in believing, and given them life, vigour and strength, then hath the Spirit brought to their remembrance, the things which they heard many years before, and then have they been wonderfully overcome, and taken with it, and it hath brought forth fruit abundantly in them. Therefore Saints, you that say you find little or no effect, the word hath upon you for the present, be not thereby discouraged, but go on to read and to hear the word still, for it is a means which is often blessed to many.
But thirdly, Is it so, that it is a blessed thing to read and hear the Word, so as to keep it? Then it serves to exhort all, as to hear and read the Word, so to look beyond it, in the frequent hearing and reading of it waiting for the coming in of the Spirit; for the blessing is not pronounced upon the hearers of the Word only, but such as hear it, and keep it, and hear it and do it: and then shalt thou hear the Word so as to keep it, when the Spirit comes along with it: Therefore when thou comest to hear the Word, do not rest upon the bare hearing of the Word, but expect the coming of the Spirit; and that thou mayst thus do, consider that there are frequent presidents in Scripture, That in the hearing of the Word the Spirit hath been given: as you have it, Act. 10. 44. While Peter yet spake these words, the holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the Word. And in the second of the Acts at the 41. verse, we find that there were three thousand souls converted, at the preaching of Peter. And when Philip went down to Samaria, and preached the Word, there were by his preaching many converted, both men, and women, as appears Acts 8. 12. There are several other passages in the Acts to this purpose. And Gal. 3. 2. saith the Apostle, Received you the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by the hearing of faith? Whereby it appears, That the Spirit was received by the hearing of the word of faith, and therefore it is that the Apostle calls the ministry of the Gospel, The ministration of the Spirit, 2 Cor. 3. 8. Therefore let all be encouraged in the hearing of the Word to wait for the Spirit, whereby they may not be forgetful hearers, but doers of the Word, and be blessed in so doing.
Answ. 4. And in the last place it serves to encourage all Saints, to be frequent in reading of, and meditating upon the book of the Revelation; for there is a blessing particularly pronounced upon them that read, or hear, and keep the things that are written therein: therefore let none be discouraged from reading those things that are written in this book, because they are so hard to be understood, and are more dark and mysterious than most places of Scripture. It is true, they are so, but to encourage us to be frequent in reading of it, notwithstanding the mysteriousness of it, the holy Ghost here pronounces a particular blessing to it, which is a special encouragement to incite us to the reading of it. And there is also another encouragement in these words, For the time is at hand. And now if we be desirous to be informed, of the things that concern the present time, then let us look diligently into the book of the Revelation, for this word, The time is at hand, hath held true, and doth, and shall hold true, in all ages, and times, even until the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ, to judge the quick and the dead, when all shall appear before the judgement seat of Christ: for there hath been no age since the delivery of it, in which it might not be said, The time is at hand, that is, The time is come, in which some part or other of it, hath been fulfilling: for at the time when this Revelation was given to John, then was fulfilling that which is spoken concerning the seven Churches; and soon after, that which was to be done in the opening of the seals, began to be fulfilled, which is not yet fully accomplished, and about four hundred year after John's time, began that to be fulfilled, which is spoken of concerning the rising of the beast, and what is revealed concerning the actions of the beast; and the pouring out of the vials upon the beast, hath been since that and now is a fulfilling, and what is spoken concerning the total ruin of the beast, and the happy deliverance of the Saints, and the glorious state of the Church after deliverance, shall be hereafter fulfilled. So that still it might, and now, and hereafter it may be said of the prophecy of this book, The time is at hand: therefore it concerns us to be frequently looking into it, and diligently to observe the things, that are written therein.
And now since the following discourse, is on a part of the book of the Revelation; let these two motives, which here you have to stir you up to the reading of the whole book; as, that it is a blessed thing, and it concerns the present time, incite you to the reading, and the serious consideration of what is herein delivered, concerning the exact accomplishment, of some of the things contained in this book, which comes now to be spoken of.
AN EXPOSITION UPON
Part of the eleventh chapter
OF THE REVELATION.
The Exposition of the first Verse.
And there was given unto me a reed like unto a rod]
In the 21. chapter of this book at the 15. verse, when the holy city was put into a delivered, enlarged, raised condition, there is mention made of a golden reed wherewith it was to be measured. But here is not a golden reed, but a reed like unto a rod, importing, that it is a chastised and afflicted, depressed, low condition into which it was at this time to be put: and that it was indeed so, appears in what follows.
And the angel stood, saying]
This angel, chap. 10. 1. is thus described: And I saw a mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud, and a rain-bow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the Sun, and his feet as pillars of fire. This description resembles that which is given of Jesus Christ, chap. 1. 15, 16. by which it appears, That this angel here spoken of is Jesus Christ. It is indeed the Lord Jesus Christ, that doth order and dispose all things in, and concerning his Church, and all things in the world, and therefore it is, that all power is given unto him, in heaven, and earth, Mat. 28. He is the King of the holy hill of Sion, Psalm. 2. And he must rule the Nations with a rod of iron, and break them in pieces like a Potters vessel, and he must reign until he have put all his enemies under his feet.
Rise and measure]
The Lord Jesus doth not leave his people in the hand of enemies, nor under the rod of the wicked in a careless manner, as if he did not care how much they were given up to the hand of the enemies: no, but they are measured out to affliction, and so far as they are measured out unto it so far shall they be under affliction, and no farther. So God measured Job to affliction, All that he hath is in thy power only upon himself put not forth thine hand, Job 1. 12. and again, Behold, he is in thine hand, but save his life. The wicked shall not go a hair's-breadth beyond the measure. Jesus Christ hath such a tender respect unto all his people in their sufferings, that they shall have no more than need, 1 Pet. 1. 6.
Measure the Temple]
The word Temple in the old Testament, is used only for that House that Solomon built in Jerusalem unto the Lord, which was called the Temple of the Lord; it being the place wherein God was in a special manner present, and wherein he would in a special manner be worshipped. But in the new Testament it is used, first, for the Church, the Saints of God, of which that Temple was a figure: for as God was in a special manner present in that Temple, so he is in a special manner present in his people. And so we have it, 2 Cor. 6. 16. For ye are the temple of the living God, as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. & 1 Cor. 6. 19. What know ye not that your bodies are the Temple of the holy Ghost, which is in you, &c. and thus the word Temple in the new Testament is used for the Saints, as the Temple was a figure of them, as they have a special presence of God in them. Which is likewise spoken of Isa. 66. 1, 2. Thus faith the Lord, the Heaven is my throne, and the Earth is my foot-stool: where is the house that ye build unto me, and where is the place of my rest, for all these things hath my hand made, and all these things have been saith the Lord, but to this man will I look; even unto him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at my word. So that he that is of a poor, and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at the word of God, shall be the house, the Temple of God. As we have it also Isa. 57. 15.
But secondly, The word Temple in the new Testament, as it is used for those in whom there is a special presence of God; so it is used to signify that means by which knowledge, and instruction is given out: as the Temple of old was the place where people were to receive instruction and knowledge. And in this sense it is used, Rev. 21. 22. And I saw no Temple therein, for the Lord God Almighty, and the Lamb are the Temple of it. This is spoken of the new Jerusalem, of that glorious state the Church shall be in, when they shall be all taught of God, from the greatest to the least.
Now the word Temple here in the Text, doth signify these.
First, It signifies the Saints of God, as they are they in whom God in a special manner dwells. And
Secondly, It signifies the ordinances, and means whereby knowledge is dispensed, and instruction is received: for it is the Saints that are as lights in the world, and they both instruct the ignorant, and edify one another, especially when they are congregated, assembled together to worship God, according to his own will, and to prophesy to edify one another.
The Temple of God and the altar, and them that worship therein]
It clearly appears in these words, that the word Temple here, includes the Saints, both as they are an habitation of God through the spirit; and so are his Temple, and as they are being assembled together, the means of instruction and increasing knowledge, and do worship God aright: For least the word Temple should not be full enough to express this, it is added, And the altar (which in the Temple was the place where they worshipped God) and them that worship therein. Not only the place of worship, but the worshippers. So that this takes in all Saints, as they are a Temple, as their assemblies are the place wherein God is worshipped, and instruction is given, and received; and as they are worshippers as Saints worshipping God, and possessing God.
But the Court that is without the Temple]
The Court is said to be without the Temple: as of old the Court was without the Temple, and was a more common place, not so holy as any part of the Temple was; so that the Court here being without the Temple, it is some outside thing, it is no part of the Temple. Now it being apparent that Saints only are the Temple of God, this Court here mentioned, though it seem to be near the Temple, yet is not the Temple, is none of the Saints, but some outside professors, that seem to the outward eye to be near to Saints: as the Court was near to the Temple, yet they are not of that holy place, they are but an outside, they are without the Temple.
But the Court that is without the Temple leave out, or cast out, and measure it not]
Though Jesus Christ have a tender care of his Saints under affliction, and they are measured out to the chastisement appointed to them; yet hath he no such respect unto such as are not his. Though they are professors. Though they seem to be near the Temple, yet if they be not the Temple, though they do profess him, yet if they do not possess him as the Temple doth, they must be left out, cast out of the care of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ will not own that as his, and therefore it must not be measured. For it was the Temple and the altar, and them that worshipped therin, that was measured out to chastisement: So then it was it that was to be given unto the Gentiles by measure; so that this word (for it) may be read thus (for the Temple)
Is given unto the Gentiles]
The word Gentiles in the old Testament, when the Temple was in its glory, was used to express such as were not of the Church of God; for the Israelites only were accounted the Church: & all others were looked upon as strangers to it, such as were afar off: as such as were enemies to the Temple, and would have the Temple ruined and laid waste. But note, though the difference between Jews and Gentiles since the days of the Gospel be taken away, and the Gentiles, as well as the Jews may now be of the Church of God, if they be built upon the Lord Jesus; yet the word Gentiles is here used to express those that were not of the Church, nor of the Temple; but would have the Temple ruined. And as the Babylonians of old had the Temple for a while given unto them: So now Jesus Christ gives his spiritual Temple, into the hands of these Gentiles the mystical Babylonians for a while.
And the holy city] This title, the holy city, we find in Scripture, is first given unto the city of Jerusalem, the city wherein the material Temple was situate, as appears Matth. 37. 3. where it is said at the death of our Saviour, That the graves were opened, and many bodies of the Saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Which city it is evident was the city of Jerusalem. And indeed Jerusalem was then accounted a city more holy then others; because it was the place wherein men ought in a more especial manner to worship God. And therefore says the woman of Samaria, Ye say in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship; And our Saviour doth not contradict this, (for indeed it is out of all contradiction) that Jerusalem had been the place where men ought to worship, for God had placed his name there, and there he would be worshiped; because the Temple was there wherein was his special presence. So that in this respect, Jerusalem was once a more holy city then others.
But when the cause was taken away the effect ceased, when Jerusalem ceased to be the place where men were enjoined to worship God, and God had removed his special presence from the Temple; then Jerusalem was no more holy then another place.
And because that Jerusalem was to cease to be the place of worship, and the holy place; therefore it is that our Saviour, John 4. 21, 23. saith, The hour cometh when ye shall neither in the mountain of Samaria, nor yet at Jerusalem worship the Father; but the true worshippers shall worship the Father in Spirit, and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. As if he had said, Jerusalem shall not be the place of worship, men shall not worship God there, for if men do perform Jerusalem worship, that is, worship with that worship that hath respect to an outward place, it shall be accounted as no worship, no, men shall not worship in Jerusalem, but such as worship the Father must worship him with an inward, spiritual worship, and in truth, that is, in the Son, in the Spirit, and in the Son, and such the Father seeks to worship him, such he is now a seeking out, both of Jews and Gentiles; and such worship is most pleasing unto him. So that Jerusalem had once the title of the holy city. It was once the place wherein God was worshipped, but it is now ceased to be so.
But secondly, This title, The holy city, is given in Scripture unto that city, of which that Jerusalem of old was a figure, and that is, the Saints, and people of God, who are all citizens of the holy city. And therefore Paul writing to the Saints at Ephesus, saith he, Ephes. 2. 19. Ye are no more strangers, and foreigners; but fellow citizens with the Saints, and of the household of God. And that Jerusalem of old was a figure of this Holy city, appears Hebr. 12. 22. and Gal. 4. 26. where the Saints are called by the name of Jerusalem, only they are differenced from the material Jerusalem, in that they are called, The heavenly Jerusalem, and Jerusalem which is above. Now that this Heavenly Jerusalem, which is compacted of Saints, and sanctified ones, and therefore must needs be a Holy city. I say that this spiritual Jerusalem hath this title, The holy city, given to it doth appear, Revel. 21. 2. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem coming down from God out of Heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Who is the spouse, the bride that is adorned for her husband Jesus Christ, but his Saints? They then are the new and heavenly Jerusalem, they are the holy city.
And the holy city shall they (that is the Gentiles fore-spoken of) tread under foot]
To be trodden under foot by an enemy, is the highest kind of insultation of an enemy over a people that possibly can be: for what greater contempt, and scorn, and envy can an enemy express, then by treading, a person or a people, under feet? And yet this is the condition, the Church was put into, which is spoken of in the prophecy of Isaiah, chap. 51. 23. where it was said that those enemies, that afflicted the Saints, said to their souls bow down, that we may go over, and their bodies was laid as the ground, and as the streets to them that went over. And this is the condition which the holy city, the Temple of God, his precious Saints are here also appointed unto, even to be trod under foot, to be depressed, and greatly persecuted, to be bowed down under the feet of their enemies, to be made as the ground, and as the street to them to go over.
Query. But now, before I proceed any further, the Query will be, What those Gentiles are in particular, to whom the Temple, and the holy city was to be given, and by whom they were to be trodden under foot? For as Jerusalem, and the Temple of old were given to the Babylonians in particular: so the question is now, Who the particular enemies are to whom the Temple, and the holy city now are delivered? For though the holy city hath many enemies, yet she is not given to them all.
Answ. I answer, Though in this chapter there be no other description of them, but only this, the Gentiles: yet we have a large description of them, in three several chapters of this prophecy: which descriptions as they lie, I shall here insert.
The first is, Rev. 12. 3. 4. And there appeared another wonder in Heaven, and behold a great red Dragon having seven heads, and ten horns, and seven Crowns upon his heads, and his tail drew a third part of the Stars of Heaven, and did cast them to the earth.
The second place in which the enemies of the Saints, (to whom they are given for a while) are described is, Rev. 13. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. verses, which is as follows. And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a Beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his head the name of blasphemy. And the Beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion, and the dragon gave him his power, and seat, and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death, and his deadly wound was healed, and all the world wondered after the Beast, and they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the Beast, and they worshipped the Beast saying, Who is like unto the Beast? Who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things, and blasphemies, and power was given unto him to continue forty, and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwelt in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the Saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds and tongues, and nations, and all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
The third place where the enemies of the Temple, and the holy city, viz. The Saints are described, is Rev. 17. 3, 4, 5, 6. as it followeth.
And I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured Beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads, and ten horns, and the woman was arrayed in purple, and scarlet colour, and decked with gold, and precious stone, and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand, full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: and upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS, AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the Saints, and with the blood of the Martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her I wondered with great admiration.
Thus now the enemies of the Church, the Temple or holy city, which in the text in hand are only described by this word (the Gentiles) in these passages are more largely characterized.
But these expressions used in these descriptions of these enemies, being for the most part very mysterious: we have these mysteries opened, and unveiled in the 17. chap. from the 7, verse. to the end of the chapter, as it follows.
And the angel said unto me wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the Beast that carrieth her which hath the seven heads, and ten horns. The Beast that thou sawest was, and is not, and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition; and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life, from the foundation of the world, when they behold the Beast that was, and is not, and yet is. And here is the mind which hath wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth, and there are seven kings, five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come: and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. And the Beast that was and is not even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition. And the ten horns which thou sawest, are ten kings which have received no kingdom as yet: but receive power as kings one hour with the Beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the Beast. 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. And he saith unto me the waters which thou sawest, where the Whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the Beast, these shall hate the Whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire, for God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the Beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled. And the woman which thou sawest is that great city which reigneth over the kings of the Earth.
In these words, we have the mystery opened of what is delivered in the 12, 13, and 17. chapters, concerning the Beast, and the Woman, and the Heads, and the Horns, and the many waters: which are all mysterious expressions, and hard to be understood, (as those were, Dan. 7. from the 1, to the 9, ver. until the interpretation was given to Daniel at the 16, verse and so on) but the angel having in this 17, chap. opened these mysteries, now the meaning of them is more apparent: So that,
First, If it be queried, What is the Beast?
We have it answered, verse 8. in these words, The Beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition. Now by comparing this with some passages in the 12, and 13. chapters, we shall plainly see what the Beast is. In the 12. chap. at the 9. verse, the Dragon there mentioned, is said to be, That old serpent called the Devil, and Satan which deceiveth the whole world. And in the 13. chap. at the 1, and 2. verses, it is said, That a Beast did rise up out of the sea, having seven heads, and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the names of blasphemy: and the Beast was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion; and the Dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
So then; The Beast that hath seven heads, and ten horns, and is like unto a leopard, &c. is some wicked one in whom the devil reigns; who hath power, and a seat, and great authority in the earth: which power, and seat, and great authority, was given unto him of the devil. And though that wicked one, that hath that devilish power, and authority, be distinct from the devil; (as he that receives is distinct from him that gives:) yet they are so one, as the devil is said to be in the Beast: for what the Beast is said to do, the devil is said to do: for in the 13. chapter, at the 7, verse. it is the Beast that is said to make war with Saints: but in the 12. chapter, at the 17, verse, the devil is said to do it. And again, they are so one, as the Beast is said to be the devil; and therefore when the angel comes to declare what the Beast is, in the fore-mentioned place, says he, The Beast shall ascend out of the bottomless pit. It is not said he shall receive his authority from him that ascends out of the bottomless pit, (though that be the meaning of it, as before appears:) but he shall ascend out of the bottomless pit; to show the oneness of the devil, and the Beast. Thus the mystery of the Beast is unfolded; and it appears, that the Beast is a wicked one, that hath a devilish power, and authority, and is one with the devil.
This is he of whom it is said, All the world wondered after the Beast; and worshipped the Dragon that gave power unto the Beast; and worshipped the Beast saying, Who is like unto the Beast? Who is able to make war with him? And of whom it was said, That there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things, and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months, &c. As you have it above.
But secondly, If it be queried, What that woman is, that is said chapter 17. 3. to sit upon this Beast?
We have an Answer to this, in the 18, verse of this 17. chapter, in these words: And the woman which thou sawest, is that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth. Now what that great city was, that did then reign over the kings of the earth; though it were not so apparent in several other histories as it is; yet the Scriptures could sufficiently inform us: for it informs us, that tribute was paid to Caesar; Matth. 22. 17. And that because Caesar was he that reigned over the kings of the earth, the Jews said to Pilate, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend. And that Paul appealed to Caesar, as being the highest authority that then was: as appears, Acts 25. 10, 11. Now the place where Caesars royal seat was then, was the city of Rome, as appears in that Paul was sent thither. So that Rome was the city that then reigned over the kings of the earth. And therefore it was that it was accounted such a privilege to be a Roman, Acts 22. 25, 26.
Now since it is clear in Scripture; (and all histories do acknowledge it,) that Rome was the great city that reigned over the kings of the earth; Then it appears, That Rome is that woman that is said to sit upon the Beast. Now this being apparent, it doth appear the more clearly what the Beast is.
It was clear before, That the Beast was a wicked one in whom the Devil reigned, that had received power, and a seat, and great authority from the Devil: but it did not so clearly appear who that wicked one in particular is. But here it appears that it is particularly he upon whom the city of Rome sitteth: he that supports it.
Now it is apparent that it is that wicked one the Pope, that is the support of the cursed city. He it is that bears her up in her pomp, and pride, and filthy abominable, Sodomitical practises. He is the Beast upon which that great whore sitteth. And the city of Rome hath been, and to this day is such a fountain of filthiness, and whoredoms, and all cursed abominations: as this name appears so perspicuously in her forehead, as he that runs may read it, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS, AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And it is apparent, that she is drunken with the blood of Saints, and the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.
But thirdly, If the question be, What the seven heads of the Beast are?
The angel gives an answer to that, at the 9, verse of the 17. chapter. The seven heads are seven mountains upon which the woman sitteth. The woman being the city of Rome; the seven heads of the Beast, are said to be the seven mountains upon which that city was built. And with this Historians agree, and say, that the city of Rome was founded upon seven mountains. Now these may as properly be said to be the seven heads of the Beast; as the ten kings may be said to be his ten horns: as will appear by and by.
Fourthly, If it should be enquired, What the ten horns are, mentioned chap. 12. 3. and 13. 1. & 17. 3?
The angel answers that in the 12. verse of the seventeen chapter, in these words: And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet, but receive power as kings one hour with the Beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power, and strength unto the Beast; these shall make war with the Lamb, &c. In these words the angel unveils this also, and tells us, that those which are mysteriously expressed by the ten horns of the Beast, are the ten kings, which did give up their power, and strength unto the Beast with one consent, & one mind, and thus it came to pass: for when the devil gave the Pope that power, and authority, whereby the Emperor of Rome was subjected to him, then the ten kingdoms that were under Rome, did likewise willingly give up their power to him also; and were subjected to the Beast, and as he, so they also made war with the Lamb the Lord Jesus in his Saints: and so became the ten horns of the Beast, by which he became the more dreadful, and terrible: for he had not been so dreadful, if he had but only had the strength of his seven heads, of that great city that is seated upon seven hills: but having these ten horns also, these ten kingdoms he was become very terrible.
But fifthly, If it should be queried, What the many waters are upon which the woman sitteth, mentioned chap. 17. 1. & 13. 1?
The angel answers that also, in the 15. verse of the 17. chapter, in these words: The waters which thou sawest where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. So that this is not left in the mystery neither; but the angel plainly declares, That by the waters is meant the peoples, and nations, and multitudes, and tongues. And the Whore is said to sit upon them; because they have willingly subjected themselves unto her, to be as it were vassals to her.
Now by this time it appears from these 12, 13, and 17. chapters, what those Gentiles (mentioned in the text, to whom the Temple, and the holy city was given,) are in particular: for it appears that as though the Church of old had many enemies, yet they were particularly given to the Babylonians, the Chaldeans: So now, the Church is particularly given to be trodden under foot of mystical Babylon, Rome, and of that wicked one the Pope, that hath received from the devil, his power, and his seat, and great authority.
Now that these particular enemies did as the text declares, Tread the holy city under foot, appears also in these following passages:
Rev. 12. 13, 14, 15. The Dragon persecuted the Woman, which brought forth a man-child: and to the Woman were given two wings of a great Eagle, that she might flee into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time from the face of the serpent; and the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the Woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. That by the Dragon here mentioned, is meant the Pope who is one with him, appears above.
Now he is here said to persecute the woman, (the Church) that is clothed with the Sun, and the Moon under her feet. And this wicked one persecutes the Church, as she is thereby driven into the wilderness: that is, into a desolate, bewildered, barren, and sad condition; and that, so long as the Beast remains: (for that's the meaning of a time, times, and half a time, as will appear in what follows,) as if it were not possible for the Church to be in any other then a wilderness condition, until the ruin of the Beast, and the fall of Babylon were come. And when he had driven the Church into that desolate wilderness condition, he was not therewith satisfied, but cast out water as a flood after her, that he might cause her to be carried away with the flood. And hath it not been even thus? Did not that scarlet coloured Beast so persecute the holy city, all the Saints of God ever since his first rise, as that they have been in a desolate, sad, wilderness condition ever since? And yet is he not so satisfied, but is sending out of his floods of malice, and fury after the Saints; and would swallow them all up if it were possible.
Again, chapter 12. 17. he is said to be wroth with the woman, and to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the Commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. And chap. 13. 6, 7. And the Beast opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwelt in heaven; and it was given unto him to make war with the Saints, and to overcome them. And hath not that Beast, the Pope punctually done as is here spoken of him, in opening his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name and his Saints? Hath he not said himself was the head of the Church, and that he could forgive sins, with many other blasphemies? And hath not he made war with the Saints, which kept the commandments of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ? Have not they been the only ones with whom he hath made war? The most vilest, and most abominable persons were most nourished by that cursed Beast; and the most precious Saints have been most hated, and hath he not also overcome them? For, for this twelve hundred years he hath so overcome them, as they never had power to rise up against him until of late. Again, chap. 17. 6. the great Whore is said to be drunken with the blood of Saints, and with the blood of the Martyrs of Jesus. And chap. 18. 24. It is again said of Babylon, the city of Rome, the great Whore, That in her was found the blood of Prophets, and of Saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth. And most evident it is, That Rome hath not only made others drunken with the cup of her abominations, and filthiness of her fornications; but is herself drunken with the blood of the Saints, and the blood of the martyrs of Jesus, which she hath taken in greedily, and eagerly, and in her it will be found, when with violence she shall be thrown down, and become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hurtful bird. Thus by this time it appears by whom, and how the holy city hath been trodden under foot.
And the holy city shall they tread under foot, forty and two months.]
It being apparent, what the enemies of the Church are, and that they have trodden the Temple, and holy city under foot. The next thing to be cleared, is the time how long those enemies of the Church were to tread her under foot. And that is here said to be forty and two months. Now what the meaning of this is, will more clearly appear, by comparing it with four other passages in the prophecy of this Book. One is chap. 12. 6. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. A second, chap. 12. 14. And to the woman were given two wings of a great Eagle, that she might flee into the wilderness: into her place; where she is nourished, for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the Serpent. A third, is chap. 11. 3. And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. A fourth, is chap. 13. 5. And there was given unto the Beast, a mouth speaking great things, and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. & it was given unto him to make war, &c.
Now the text speaks of the afflicted condition of the Church, under the expression of being trod under foot: and the first of these passages speaks of the afflicted condition of the Church, under the expression of flying into the wilderness; because of the persecution of her enemies. The second of these passages, speaks likewise of the afflicted condition of the Church, under the same expression as the former, of fleeing into the wilderness. The third of these expressions, speaks of the afflicted condition of the Church, under the expression of being clothed in sack-cloth, and the 4. speaks of the afflicted condition of the Church, under the expression of the Beasts making war with the Saints and overcoming them, and they all speaking the same thing: the affliction of the Church, do also speak of the same time of the continuance of that affliction, with this in the Text. Now in the Text, that time is expressed under the expression of forty and two months. And
In the first of
A thousand two hundred and threescore days.
In the second of
A time, and times, and half a time.
In the third of
A thousand two hundred and threescore days.
In the fourth of
Forty and two months.
Now that these agree in one, appears thus.
In forty and two months, accounting thirty days to a month, there is just a thousand two hundred and threescore days: so that forty and two months, and a thousand two hundred and threescore days, agree in one. Again in three years and a half, we have just forty and two months, accounting twelve months to a year: So that a time, times, and half a time, that is, one year, two years, and half a year, which is three years and a half, agrees with forty and two months. And with a thousand two hundred and threescore days. So that the time the Church was to continue under affliction, to be trodden under foot, was a thousand two hundred & threescore days.
Now as the Prophet Ezekiel was to account a day for a year (Eze. 4, 5, 6.) so this one thousand two hundred and threescore days, is to be accounted a thousand two hundred and threescore years.
So then whereas in the text it is said, that the Church should be trodden under foot forty and two months by the Gentiles; that is particularly, by that wicked one the Pope, and his adherents, the mystical Babylonians: the meaning of that forty two months is, A thousand two hundred and threescore years. And it must of necessity be acknowledged to be so; for the Beast hath trodden the holy city under foot, for above twelve hundred years already.
And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred, and threescore days clothed in sackcloth.]
That this word (my two witnesses) cannot be confined only to two men, that should be the witnesses of Christ Jesus; is most apparent: because they are said to continue so long, as the holy city was to be trodden under foot of the Beast; which is a thousand two hundred and threescore years. Now twelve hundred years, is a term of time which no man ever lived when men lived longest: much less since the flood, therefore since the two witnesses are said to continue twelve hundred and sixty years; they cannot be confined only unto two men, but do include all the Saints, that have been witnesses of the truths of Jesus Christ, ever since the Beast began to persecute the Church: for Jesus Christ during all that time, did never leave himself without witnesses, though for the most part of that time, the number of them were very small, in comparison of the false prophets of the Beast: which may be the reason, why they are here expressed by the smallest of numbers, the number two. But I say, Jesus Christ hath never left himself without witnesses; but hath had some at all times, that have been witnesses of his truths, in opposition to the Beast. And those are they, that are here in the text said to prophesy, a thousand two hundred, and sixty days. Now as this text holds forth, That Jesus Christ hath had witnesses, during all the reign of the Beast, and the persecuted condition of the Church: so other passages in this prophecy confirm it, as chap. 6. 9. I saw under the altar, the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held. These were some that had witnessed, and testified the truths of Christ against the Beast, and sealed their testimony with their blood; for they were slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held. And to show that these were not all that witnessed the truths of Christ, but that Jesus Christ had continually some that were his witnesses, which the beast should continually be slaying; it is said in the 11. verse of that chap. That they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also, and their brethren that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled: So that Christ had a further number of witnesses, which were also to honour him, by laying down their lives for his truth. And chap. 12. 17. The witnesses of Christ, are again mentioned, for it is said, That the Dragon did make war, with them which kept the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. And verse 12. they are said, To overcome the devil, by the blood of the Lamb, (by which all Saints do overcome him) and by the word of their testimony: for they loved not their lives unto the death. Here it appears that the Saints did so witness the truths of Christ; as they counted not their lives dear unto them, but laid them down to seal the truth which they held, which was a means of convincing many of the truth, and thereby they were overcomers of the Beast. And chap. 18. 24. when Babylon came to be thrown down, it is said, That in her was found the blood of Prophets, and of all that were slain upon the earth: whereby it appears, That during all the reign of the Beast, he hath been slaying the Prophets, witnesses, and Saints of Jesus Christ.
Thus by these several passages it is evident, That Christ hath had his witnesses during all the reign of the Beast; and it is apparent that this word, My two witnesses includes all those witnesses of Christ, that have been during all the reign of the Beast: for they have been said to prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore years.
Object. But how could all the witnesses of Christ, be said to prophesy?
I answer, Every Saint in a sense, may be said to be a Prophet. For they are Prophets to whom God discovers his secrets: and there is no true Saints, but the secrets of God are discovered to them, Psal. 15. 14. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will show them his covenant. The truth is, it is the discoveries of God, and of Jesus Christ, and of hidden truths that maketh Saints. If the Lord did not reveal his secrets unto poor souls, it would not be possible for them to be Saints. Now then as soon as the soul is made a Saint, it is made a Prophet: for when the Lord hath revealed himself unto the soul and discovered his secrets to it, made it to see the wonderful things of his law, and caused it to rejoice in the sweet discoveries of his grace, the soul cannot choose but declare them to others. Yea the word is as a fire in its bosom, and it cannot hold it in, according to that rule, When thou art converted strengthen thy brethren. This is ever the sweet temper of a real Saint, he cannot but give vent to the bubblings of Christ upon his heart: and that in opposing gainsayers, contending earnestly for the faith, and in the edifying, exhorting, and comforting of other Saints.
Now that this is prophesying, is most evident in these Scriptures, 1 Cor. 14. 3. He that prophesieth, speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. Now this all Saints in some measure or other can do, and sometimes doth; though some Saints can do it far more excellently then others, yet he that speaketh to edification, exhortation and consolation, though with much weakness, doth as truly prophesy as he that hath greatest abilities. Another Scripture is Act. 15. 32. And Judas and Silas being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them. Here it is evident, That to speak the word of exhortation, and information, to the confirming of Saints in the truth, is to prophesy: for Judas and Silas are said to exhort and confirm the Saints, as they were Prophets. Another passage to this purpose is Revel. 19. 10. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. This passage gives a most clear answer to the question, What is it to prophesy? The angel had said, chap. 18. 24. That in Babylon was found the blood of Prophets, and of Saints. Now here he makes it to appear, what the Prophets were that Rome had slain; namely, they were they that had the testimony of Jesus; for (saith he) The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. So that all Saints that have the testimony of Jesus, have the spirit of prophecy: and so all that were slain for the testimony of Jesus, were they that did prophesy in sackcloth.
I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days clothed in sackcloth.]
Jesus Christ having in the former verse, declared that the holy city should be trodden under foot, which is the afflicted condition of the Church, he doth here declare, what supplies they should have in that condition: in that he says that he would give unto them this gift, that they should prophesy. Though they are to be destitute of outward comforts and outward liberties by the enemies persecuting of them, yet they are to have inward comforts: the Lord will reveal his secrets to them, which shall exceed all outward comforts; they shall have the testimony of Jesus, which is the spirit of prophecy.
I will give unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days.]
That this one thousand two hundred and threescore days, is a thousand two hundred and threescore years, appears above. Where it is evident, that it is the same term of time with that in the former verse, and with that in former passages of this book; and that the meaning of them all, is a thousand two hundred and threescore years, there appears.
Clothed in sackcloth]
While the Church was in the material Babylon, they were in a sad and mourning posture; for they wept and hung their harps on willows, and could not sing the songs of Sion: So the Church now being in mystical Babylon, and insulted over by their enemies, God having for a time given them to be trodden under foot by them, they are in mourning, sad and sable garments; clothed in sackcloth: though they inwardly enjoy the discoveries of the bosom secrets of the Father, the comforts of the Spirit, though they have the Spirit of prophecy: yet they prophesy in sackcloth, their outside, their clothing is sackcloth, to the outward eye they are in a sad posture: and they cannot be otherwise, while they are under the power and tyrany of Babylon.
These are the two olive-trees]
These, that is, these two witnesses, are the two olive-trees. In that they are said to be (the) two olive-trees, it implies it hath reference unto some passage of Scripture, wherein there is a former mention of them. Now the place where they are mentioned, is Zech. 4. so that Zechariah doth prophesy of these two witnesses, under the expression of two olive-trees; and therefore the holy Ghost mentioning the witnesses here, declares, that these are they that are elsewhere called the two olive-trees. Now in that place, Zech. 4. 4. we find that the Prophet doth ask the angel, What these be? And then the angel makes this answer, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying; not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts: Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain, and he shall bring forth the head stone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, Grace unto it. Now this is somewhat a mysterious answer; but thus much appears in it: That though the Saints seem to be little in the eyes of men, and their enemy (whether it be the material Babylon, or the mystical Babylon) seem to be a great mountain, as if it were impossible for the Saints to remove their mountainous enemy: yet they shall be removed out of their way, the great mountain shall become a plain before them; and those Saints that seem to be little, but as an handful to a mountain, they shall when the great mountain is become a plain; again, become a glorious Temple, and when it shall be thus, there shall be shoutings, crying, Grace, Grace unto it. And this appears to be spoken of the two witnesses in the Text; for they have seemed to be small and little, and their enemy a great mountain: but undoubtedly this mountain shall become a plain before them, and they shall again become a glorious Temple, a mountain of holiness, the praise of the whole earth. But the Prophet at the 12 verse, is said again to ask the angel, What the olive-branches are? and receives this further answer: These be the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth: here is another description of them, in which it is most evident, that by the two olive-trees is meant the Saints, Servants and witnesses of Jesus Christ; for this is a plain character of Saints; for first, Saints are anointed ones, and are said to be anointed, 2 Cor. 1. 21. and are said to have received an unction from the holy One, 1 Joh. 2. 20. Again secondly, as Saints are anointed ones, so it is they only that can come into the presence of God; it is they only that can enter into the Holy of Holies, by the new and living way, which Jesus Christ hath made for them.
Now by this time it is clear, That by the two olive-trees, is meant all Saints: for they are anointed ones, and they stand in the presence of God; they then are the two olive-trees, which have prophesied, clothed in sackcloth, and though they have been but as a handful, compared with that great mountain the Beast, so that they could not prevail by might, nor by power, yet by that unction, by that anointing, that Spirit that is upon them they shall prevail.
These are the two olive-trees, and the two Candle-sticks]
These witnesses are also said to be candle-sticks, because all Saints as they are anointed ones, so they are the light of the world, Mat. 5. 14. they are light in the Lord, and they shine as lights amidst a crooked and perverse generation.
These are the two olive-trees, and the two Candlesticks, standing before the God of the earth.]
The wicked (saith the Psalmist) shall not stand in thy presence, neither shall evil dwell with thee. It is indeed only the prerogative of those holy ones, that are washed in the blood of the Lamb, that are unblameable and unreprovable in his sight: and to these doth he hold out the golden scepter of his grace, and these do stand in the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.
And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies.]
The Saints in a sense, are the Judges and Executioners of their enemies. Behold a king, saith the Prophet (Isa. 32. 1) shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment; speaking of the reign of the Lord Jesus, and his Saints ruling with him, so that as he judgeth, so do they; and they pass sentence with him upon their enemies, and therefore is it here said, If any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: That is, that breath of the spirit that proceedeth out of their mouth, in their prayers doth both pronounce the sentence and bring down the fire of wrath upon their enemies. And this is clear, Revel. 8. 3. for there it appears, That when the prayers of all Saints were offered upon the golden altar, that then the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth, and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earth-quake. So that this is the power that Saints have to devour their enemies, and though their enemies be never so high and potent, yet they are not so high, nor so potent, but they can reach them, either to kill or destroy them, or to bind and imprison them. And this is further witnessed unto by the Psalmist, Psalm 149. 6, 7, 8, 9. where speaking of the Saints, says he, Let the high praises of God be in their mouths, and a two-edged sword in their hands, to execute vengeance upon the Gentiles, and punishments upon the people, to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute upon them the judgement written: This honour have all his Saints. Here the Psalmist speaks of executing vengeance upon the Gentiles, and punishments upon the people, of binding kings in chains, and nobles in fetters of iron. Why? Who must do thus? Must it not be some great and mighty potentate? No, but this is to be done by Saints, and that not only by some Saints, but as well by the weakest of Saints, as by the strongest; For this honour have all his Saints. All Saints do execute vengeance upon their enemies; If any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth; from their prayers proceedeth a fire of wrath, and devoureth their enemies.
And if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.]
As a fire proceedeth out of their mouth, that devoured their enemies in general: so if any man will hurt them, he must in the same manner be killed, that is, by the fire that proceedeth out of their mouth.
These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy.]
As the fire mentioned in the former verse, was not material fire, but it was mystically spoken: so the rain here mentioned, is to be mystically understood, as it is in several places of scripture. I will cite but only two places, for they will be sufficient: and in both of them, what is to be understood by water or rain, is declared. As Isa. 44. 3. I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground. Now would we know, what is here meant by water and floods? it follows in the next words, I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring. So that here the Spirit, and the blessings of heaven are expressed by water, and by floods. The other place, is Joh. 3. 38, 39. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. The next verse explains this, This he spake of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive. So that we see what the scripture means by water, when it speaks mystically of it: so that it is in this sense, that the Saints are said here during the prevalency of the Beast, to shut heaven that it rain not: for it cannot be understood of material rain, for that hath been extended to the unjust, as to the just: and if material rain should be withheld, the Saints and witnesses might have as well suffered by the withholding of it, as others: no, it is not the withholding of material rain, but a greater judgement then that: for as the Saints had power to bring a fire of wrath upon their enemies: so to shut up the rain of spiritual blessings, that the floods of the spirit do not descend upon them. But whereas the Saints are like the tree, that is planted by the rivers of water, that is always green and flourishing; their enemies are for want of these waters, as a dry tree that brings forth no fruit, and must be hewn down and cast into the fire.
That it rain not in the days of their prophecy]
We see what the days of their prophecy is, at the third verse, where they are said to prophesy, clothed in sackcloth, a thousand two hundred and threescore days: which hath been showed to be so many years, which is the term of time which the Gentiles, the Beast is to prevail, and the holy city, the Saints are to be trodden under foot; these we see are said to be the days of their prophesying, clothed in sackcloth; not but that they might prophesy after that time is expired: but those were the days of their prophesying in sackcloth, because they are trodden under foot, and they are given to the Beast, the Babylonians, and during these days of their prophesying in sackcloth, they have power to shut heaven, that it rain not spiritual blessings upon their enemies. And hath it not been even thus? Hath not the Beast, and all his adherents been as dry trees, and have they not continued to be so, without ever obtaining a drop of spiritual grace? Have they not been as the dry ground, obdurate and hardened in their hellish ways? insomuch as it is to be admired, that they should so continue without any relenting or returning for so many hundred years, although they have had the Scriptures, and many of them great outward parts and abilities, and the writings of many precious Saints; which are means by which God uses to work; but none of these means could work anything, because they had the Heaven so shut, that none of the waters of the Spirit did descend upon them. Therefore it was that the letter of the Word, and all other advantages could do nothing, for they are all nothing without the Spirit.
And have power over waters, to turn them to blood]
This is another plague distinct from the former (but it is also mystically expressed) therefore these waters, are not those that are said to be shut up from them: for it is not possible for them to be turned into blood: that is, to be made useless, as waters are, when they are turned into blood: but they are those waters which their enemies the Babylonians made use of, instead of the waters of the Spirit: And what were they? It were their canons, and decrees, and constitutions which they gave forth, as equivalent unto the very dictates of the Spirit itself: and they declared them to be of as great authority, and of these waters they made all that did adhere to them to drink: and with these waters they contented themselves, never caring for the waters of the Spirit. Now the Saints had power over these waters, to turn them to blood; which they did by the Spirit of prophesy which they had; whereby they did so hold forth the testimony of Jesus Christ, in the purity of it, as all the Romish doctrines, and Popish canons were turned to blood, rendered useless unto others, and discovered to be corrupt. And this is that which was done by those angels or saints, that poured out the second and third vials. Revel. 16. 3, 4.
And to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.]
How Saints may be said to smite the earth, or earthly men with all plagues, doth in part appear above, where it appears, That they do it by their prayers: for when the prayers of the Saints ascended up before God, then it is said, Revel. 8. 5. That fire was cast upon the earth, or earthly men, and produced dreadful effects; as voices and thundering, and lightnings, and an earthquake. Thus Saints do smite the Earth with all plagues by their prayers. But they do not only smite the Earth by their prayers, but also by their prophesying, and holding forth the testimony of Jesus Christ: for by the earth here spoken of, is peculiarly expressed those earthly men, that in a more especial manner trod the Saints under foot. Now they (as before appears) were the Beast, the Pope, and his complices, the Babylonian Romans, and all that were of that faction. Now these the Saints do smite with all plagues, by their holding forth the testimony of Jesus Christ against them (as well as by praying against them:) for thereby is their doctrine discovered, to be a pack of abominable lies; and this proves a plague unto them, and this pains them at the very heart: for by this plague, they are like to die, it is like to prove a mortal disease unto them, and therefore is very grievous, Revel. 12. 11. The Saints are said to overcome the Dragon by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; for they loved not their lives unto the death: Whereby it is evident, That by holding forth the testimony of Jesus Christ, and sealing it with their blood, the Saints do smite the devil in the Beast, so as to overcome him. And thus by their prayers, and by the word of their testimony, Saints do smite the earth, that is, their Babylonical enemies with all plagues as often as they will.
And when they shall have finished their testimony.]
It is but a prefixed term of time, as appears in the third verse, That Jesus Christ will have his people prophesy in a despicable, sad, and low condition, clothed in sackcloth: and that is so long as the Beast is to continue, as appears by comparing the third verse of this chapter, with the fifth verse of the thirteenth chapter: and that term of time which the Beast was to continue, and the Saints to be trodden under foot, and to prophesy in sackcloth, is a thousand two hundred and threescore years, as appears above. Now this 1260 years, being added to the year wherein the Beast received his devilish power, and seat, and great authority, in the reign of Phocas the Emperor: which was, as say historians, in the year 404. I say adding to this, 1260. it makes up, 1664. And this year, 1664 should be the year wherein the witnesses should finish their giving testimony, clothed in sackcloth: If this 1260 years should be computed according to the rule of Astronomers, allowing 365 days to a year, and to every fourth year adding a day more. But we find that the holy Ghost in this prophecy, not observing that rule, doth allow but 360 days to a year, and according to that rule, 1260 days to three years and an half.
And therefore in computing the time of the witnesses, prophesying in sackcloth, we are to observe the rule which the holy Ghost here lays down, to allow 360 days to a year, and so the time of the witnesses prophesying in sackcloth, is to expire eighteen years, and almost an half, sooner then as by the other account: and so the beginning of the year 1645. was the time when the witnesses prophesying in sackcloth, and of being trodden under foot of the Beast, and his adherents did expire.
And when they shall have finished their testimony, the Beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit]
That the Pope is the Beast that ascended out of the bottomless pit, is made evident above. And therefore it is the Pope, that is expressed here also, by the name of the Beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit.
The Beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit, shall make war against them.]
This war which is here mentioned, that the Beast was to make against the witnesses, the Saints of Jesus Christ, is the late war that hath been by him made in Ireland and England, as will perspicuously appear, by comparing it with that description of it, which is given in this and the following verses.
And first that this war was made by the Beast that ascended out of the bottomless pit, that is, by the Pope, is most evident: For,
First, What is done by any of the ten kingdoms, that are of his horns is his act. And
Secondly, Whatever is done by his instigation, is done by him: Now in both these respects, the war late in England, and in Ireland is the Beast's war. For
First, All that have acknowledged any kingdoms to be the horns of the Beast, have acknowledged England to be one of them. Therefore this war being made by the authority of one of the ten horns of the Beast, was made by the Beast.
But it may be objected: But England was fallen from Rome before the war, which was begun in 1641. for Queen Elizabeth long since cast off the Pope's supremacy, and it was never since acknowledged by the kings of England; and together with the Pope's supremacy, was the Popish Canons and Decrees rejected, and for matter of doctrine, the doctrine embraced in England, was purely refined from the dregs of men's inventions, And how could England then be said, (these things being done) to be one of the horns of the Beast, and a part of the Babylonical city of Rome?
Answ. Although England had done these things, yet England was still one of the horns and a part of that city. And this will appear, if we consider, what it was that made the bishop of Rome to become the Beast, and what made the city of Rome, to become the mystical Babylon. Now the bishop of Rome did then become the Beast, when he did receive from the devil (for Jesus Christ never gave it him) a power to exercise authority, over the consciences of all that did profess Christianity: and by this power he did oppress, and trouble, and afflict the precious Saints of Jesus Christ; by this means also did Rome become the mystical Babylon; for hereby did it enslave, and vassalize the Saints, as Babylon of old did the Church that then was: and then consequently all the ten kingdoms, that did exercise this authority over the conscience, did thereby become a part of Babylon, and the horns of the beast; by which he did push, and gore, and destroy the Saints of Jesus Christ. And hereby was the holy city trodden under foot.
Now then, though Queen Elizabeth cast off the Pope's supremacy, and a great part of his devilish doctrine; yet England did notwithstanding remain one of the horns of the Beast, and a part of Romish Babylon: because there was a party retained, which did exercise authority over the consciences of Saints; which hath proved a great bondage to them, and hath persecuted the Saints, as the Beast was wont to do: for even in Queen Elizabeth's days, there were some Saints persecuted, that did scruple in some things to conform to the bishops; though the bishops then, were not so bad as they have been since: but since the bishops grew worse, and worse, and became more profane, and filthy, and wicked (as all that usurp authority over the consciences do, and as the bishop of Rome did) I say since Queen Elizabeth's time, that they grew worse and worse, they have grown higher, and higher in the persecution of Saints; so that a real godly minister could scarce be suffered to abide in the kingdom: but many were fain to fly to Holland, and New England, and other places; and those that did abide in the kingdom, were exceedingly persecuted. And thus England did remain a horn of the Beast, and a part of Babylon; because there was a power retained, that did exercise authority over the conscience.
And hereby it is evident, That the late war in England and Ireland was made by the Beast. For
First, That war was made by one of his horns, England being then a horn of the Beast. And
Secondly, This war was made by the Beast: because it was by his instigation; for it was evident that this war was, Bellum Episcopale, the bishops' war; and that they together with the Queen, acted for the Beast, and were thereunto instigated by him: and to that end the Pope's Nuncios, and Jesuits were so long resident in England, and Ireland; and all the Papists in England and Ireland, were violent in the prosecution of it. So that this is clear, that the late war in England and Ireland was made by the Beast.
But secondly, as the war in England and Ireland was made by the Beast; so it was made by him against the witnesses, the Saints, and precious ones of Jesus Christ: for that which is done against the most considerable number of Saints, is done against the whole; as being the way to prevail over all. Now in England there are a more considerable number of the faithful servants, and witnesses of Jesus Christ; then is in any kingdom in the world. As one truly said, England is the richest ship in the world; for God hath more of those precious jewels in it, than he hath in any other kingdom in the world. It is true that in other kingdoms, as in France, and Germany, and Scotland, &c there are a vast number of such as are called Protestants; but they are exceeding formal, and lukewarm generally; they are professors, but few possessors of Christ: but for sincere, real Saints that walk close with God, in a pious & holy conversation; England exceeds all other kingdoms in the world. Now the war being made against these, it was made against all the witnesses, against all Saints. Now that it was made against the Saints in England. is also evident for it was the rooting out of such as were called Puritans, and Independents, and Brownists, that was chiefly aimed at in that war; and therefore it was given out, that they would leave no more Puritans in England, then there were protestants in Rome. And this was made evident in all their proceedings, for the Puritans were they, against whom they expressed their greatest malice. And such as they called Puritans, were the most precious Saints of Jesus Christ. Thus it is evident, that this war was made by the beast against the Saints, the witnesses of Jesus Christ.
And the Beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit, shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.]
In this war that was made by the Beast against the Saints, and witnesses of Jesus Christ, he did so prevail as he did overcome them; for at the very first breaking out in Ireland, there was such terrible blow given unto the Saints, and they were so overcome, as the Beast, and his adherents thought themselves sure of overcoming all the rest in Ireland, and England; so that all the rest did then seem to be as dead men; and as at the beginning they overcame, so they continued overcoming, & keeping the witnesses under, for they did both prevail in the field, and exceedingly overcame them that opposed them, and also took cities, and towns, and castles, and got possession of country after country; so that the witnesses whom they chiefly opposed, were brought to such a low ebb, as for three years and a half, they seemed to be as dead, as lost, and had little hope, and less confidence of overcoming the enemy, but on the other side, the enemy had great confidence, that the Puritans and Round-heads (as they termed them) should not rise again; for they looked upon them as dead.
And their dead bodies]
The witnesses being overcome, and brought to such a low ebb, and seeming to be so unable to recover strength again to overcome the Beast, they were looked upon as dead bodies; as no more able to overcome the beast, than so many dead carcases.
And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified]
There is a mention made of Rome, Revel. 17. 18. And there this title is given to it, The great city. And here again the same title is given to it, The great city. But lest this should not express it clearly enough; here are some other distinguishing characters given to it: and they are these:
First, That it is Spiritually called Sodom; for the abominable filthinesses, and sodomitical practices, that are in it; for the abominations of that city are so many, and so apparent; as there is no city in the world, that may so fitly be called by the name of spiritual Sodom, as it.
And secondly, It is spiritually called Egypt: and this name also is most fitly given to that city; for as Egypt of old, was a house of bondage to the people of God; so hath Rome been a house of bondage, to the Saints, for above twelve hundred years.
Thirdly, It is distinguished by this character, Where also our Lord was crucified: because it was by the power of Rome, that our Lord was crucified; so that though it was not in Rome, but near Jerusalem, yet Jerusalem being then under the power of Rome, it was accounted as a part of Rome. These are the characters that are given to Rome; whereby it is made evident, that this great city is Rome. Now that the witnesses being overcome, that their dead bodies did lie in the street of this great city is apparent; for England being one of the ten horns of the Beast, is a part of that great city. And so the dead bodies of the witnesses being in England, did lie in the street of that great city.
And they of the people, and kindreds, and tongues, and nations shall see their dead bodies]
These that are here expressed by those titles of the people, and kindreds, and tongues, and nations, are some that are distinct from the witnesses; for they are said to see their dead bodies: so that they are another sort of people, that is, they are not Saints, are not of the holy city, but of the people, and kindreds, and nations of the world.
Shall see their dead bodies three days and a half]
Those days as these mentioned in the 3. verse, are prophetical days; so that by these three days and a half, is meant three years and a half.
And they of the people, and kindreds, and tongues, and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and a half, and shall not suffer them to be put in graves]
These people, and kindred, and nations, and tongues, though they be not of the witnesses, and Saints; yet they are not for the Beast, but do help the Saints against the Beast; for they are said to keep the dead bodies of the Saints, from being put in graves: when the Beast had overcome the Saints so as they seemed to be quite lost, they seemed to be dead: then they would not suffer them to be interred; though they were brought low, yet they would not suffer them to be brought so low, but kept them from being totally removed out of sight; from being put into a condition, wherein they should not be in such a capacity of rising, as when they were unburied. Suitable to this, is that passage, Rev. 12. 16. where it is said, when the Dragon poured out waters as a flood after the Woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood; that then the earth helped the Woman, and opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood.
Here it is evident, that the Church being followed by the Beast, with a flood of persecution, that the people of the earth do keep off the fury of the Beast, from destroying the Church utterly; so that the people of the earth are made instruments of helping the Saints, against the persecution of the Beast. And so it was in the late war in England, the Lord made some such as were but carnal, and profane, to be instruments of helping the Saints, from being totally overcome of the Beast; for those of the Saints that were in the Parliament's Army, that fought against the Beast, were but a small number compared with the others in that Army, that were not Saints. And indeed it is very wonderful to consider, how by an over-ruling providence, the hearts of carnal men were commanded to stand up in the defence of the witnesses, against the Beast: for there were many thousands, that did engage themselves with the Parliament, in their defensive war, that were not the witnesses. Thus God made them of the people, and kindreds, and tongues, and nations, to be instruments of keeping the bodies of the witnesses, from being put in graves, from being put totally under the earth, under the Beast, although they were brought so low, as they were as dead in their own, and the account of the Beast.
And they that dwell upon the earth, shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another]
They that were the adherents of the Beast, are here expressed by this character, They that dwell upon the earth. For this is a character most proper to them, and is most usually used to express the Beast, and his faction, in the prophecy of this Book; as chap. 16. 1. where the seven Angels, are bid to pour out their vials upon the earth, which was upon the Beast and his adherents, as appears throughout the chapter, and so again in the 6, verse of this 11. chap. it is said, The witnesses had power to smite the earth, with all plagues as often as they will. Which is peculiarly spoken of the members of the Beast: for it is they that the witnesses do more especial plague; and so it is they, (I say) that are here thus expressed, They that dwell upon the earth.
They that dwell upon the earth, shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another]
The witnesses being overcome, and lying for dead; they that are of the Beast do therein rejoice, and express a great deal of delight, that they have in it, and make themselves as merry with it as possibly they may, and a mad mirth it is.
And thus they did here in England, for that three years and a half, that the witnesses seemed to be dead. For in Oxford, and other places where they that were for the Beast were resident; they had feasting, drinking healths, and ringing bels, and making bonfires, and roaring, and carousing, and swearing, and cursing, and banning, and damning; and all the hellish mirth they could invent. And why? Because the Puritans, and Round-heads, and Anabaptists, Brownists, and Tub-preachers (as they termed the witnesses) were overcome.
They that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and send gifts one to another; because these two Prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth]
The witnesses, prophets, Saints, of Jesus Christ, do kill, plague, and torment those that dwell upon the earth: that is, those that were members of the Beast, and how they do so, hath been showed in the opening of the 5, and 6. verses: and because they do so, is the reason why they are so hated of them, and why they do so much rejoice in the casting down of them; for they cannot endure those torments, that the prophets of Jesus, do inflict upon them, when they hold forth the truth of Christ, so as to overthrow their devilish doctrines, and turn their waters into blood; when they do so hold forth the truth, as to throw down the pomp, and pride, of their Clergy: they cannot endure this, and when they do declare against the sottishness, and blindness, and profaneness of the people which they nourish up, and admit to partake of sealing Ordinances: this proves a torment to them, as doth also the holding forth of other truths of Christ, which do oppose them in their lusts, and in their crooked ways: and because the Saints do so torment the Beasts crew, therefore do they rejoice so much when they have any hope of rooting them out.
And after three days, and a half, the Spirit of life from God entered into them]
As the late war made by the Beast against the witnesses, doth fully agree with all the circumstances of it, laid down in the former verses; so it agrees exactly with what is laid down in this verse also: for after the witnesses had been in so low a condition, as they were (as Paul was when he was stoned) supposed to be dead, for three years and a half: they did not lie as dead a day longer, but at the very day, when the three years and a half were expired; then the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they began to stand upon their feet.
For on the 23. day of October, 1641. did the Beast begin the war in Ireland; and he continued overcoming the witnesses, the Saints of Jesus Christ, in Ireland, and in England, until the 5. day of April, 1645. and from the 23. of October, 1641. unto the 5. of April, 1645. there is just a thousand two hundred, and sixty days; which according to the Scripture account, (though not according to the Heathen account) is three years and a half complete: and when this three years, and a half were expired; which was, I say, one the 5. of April, 1645. then was the resurrection of the witnesses: for they having lain dead for three years and a half before; then the Spirit of life from God entered into them. And the year 1645. as it is the year wherein the witnesses were raised from the dead; so it is the year, wherein the term of time in which they were to prophesy in sack-cloth, and to be trodden under foot was to expire, and the year also wherein the prevailing power of the Beast over the Saints was to expire, as is made evident in the opening of the 2. verse above. Now that one the 5. day of April, 1645. the Saints, witnesses, and servants of Jesus Christ, were raised up, and that then a spirit of life from God entered into them, appears thus:
On the 5. day of April, 1645. the Parliament's Army, who had stood for the defence of the Saints against the Beast; and had been before that time exceedingly overcome, and were brought into a very low condition at that time, being new modelled, and having a great many precious Saints in it, both eminent commanders, inferior officers, and common soldiers; and being then put under the conduct of Sir Thomas Fairfax; they then began to march against the enemy, and then had a Spirit of life from God, that entered into them, as did appear in all their actings afterward; for they went on with such vigour, courage, life, and fortitude, as they effected every work they took in hand; defeated all the enemies with whom they did encounter; had the victory in every battle they fought; never sat down before any city, town, or castle, but they took it in, before they raised their siege: Thus they acted like men raised from that dead, low, condition they were in before, And why? Because now a Spirit of life from God was entered into them: and unto God did they give all the praise, and so let them do still: for they had as surely fled before their enemies, and been beat down as the mire in the streets then, as ever they had been before, if the Spirit of life from God had not been put upon them.
Thus the 5. day of April, 1645. did the witnesses, the Saints, (of whom the Beast thought to make an utter end,) stand upon their feet having a spirit of life from God put upon them; when the army that fought their battles, and defended their righteous cause, began to march against the army of the Beast, to the overthrowing of it.
And they stood upon their feet, and great fear fell upon them that saw them]
The Saints being raised from the dead, from that dejected, low condition in which they were, for three years and a half; a Spirit of life from God being put upon them: they then stood upon their feet, to the fear, and amazement of their enemies. Before indeed the Saints did lie dead in the street, and were as the street to them that went over them: but since the Spirit of life from God entered into them, they have stood upon their feet; and as men that stand upon their feet, so long as they do stand upon their feet, are not in a capacity of being trod under foot of men: So the witnesses, and Saints of Jesus Christ, since they stood upon their feet, could not be trodden under foot of men. Though they have been trodden under feet a thousand two hundred, and threescore years, and the Beast hath had power so long to trample them under feet; yet since the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet, it was not possible for the Beast, nor any of his adherents, so to trample them under foot any more.
And they stood upon their feet, and great fear fell upon them which saw them]
The witnesses standing upon their feet, as men risen from the dead, did cast a great fear, and terror upon their enemies: for now they begin to fear what will become of themselves, and their great Idol, The Beast; they seeing the witnesses of Jesus to stand upon their feet, fearfulness doth surprise them; because now they conceive that their kingdom is going down; as indeed it is going down wonderfully, as they did rejoice, and make merry, when they saw the Saints, or Puritans, as they termed them, brought into a low condition, when they lay dead; so now on the contrary, they seeing these Puritans, the precious Sons of Sion to stand upon their feet, now a fear, a great fear is fallen upon 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]
As the Beast, and they that join with him, are in several places of the prophesy of this book, called; The earth: So the Saints, and witnesses of Jesus Christ, are in opposition to the Beast, called, Heaven As Rev. 13. 6. it is said of the Beast, That he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwelt in Heaven. By them that dwelt in Heaven, is meant, the Saints of God, who are called, Them that dwell in Heaven. As the members of the Beast are called, Them that dwell upon the earth, Rev. 11. 10. And so Rev. 15. 5. It being said (in the former verses) of the Saints, that had gotten the victory over the Beast, and over his image, and over his mark, that they sung the Song of Moses the Servant of God, and the Song of the Lamb; saith John, After this I looked, and behold, the Temple of the Tabernacle of the testimony in Heaven, was opened. And chap. 11. 19. And the Temple of God was opened in Heaven; and there was seen in his Temple, the Ark of his Testament, &c. It is evident, that in both these places the Saints, the Church of God, is called Heaven; for it cannot be understood of Heaven itself; for there is no Temple. So in this verse, whereas it is said the witnesses heard a voice from Heaven: by Heaven, here also, is meant, the Church, the Saints of God. So that, the meaning of this verse, is this, The witnesses of Jesus, being raised from the dead, and having a Spirit of life from God put upon them; and standing upon their feet like living men; that part of the Saints that in a more especial manner, acted in opposing the Beast, and had a most eminent spirit of life, and courage put into them, did hear a voice from the churches of Christ; from most of the Saints, wherein they expressed their great affection to them; and owned them, and embraced them in their societies. They said unto them, Come up hither, and they again mutually embraced them; they went into the Heavenly societies of the Saints, they ascended up to that Heaven: but it was in a cloud, it was not clearly seen of men, but though not clearly, yet it was seen by them; for their enemies beheld them; their enemies beheld them though in a cloud, in an obscure manner.
And thus it was with those Saints that were in the Army on the Parliament side, as before they stood upon their feet, and prevailed against their enemies, they had the prayers of all other Saints: so afterward, were they with great affection, received into the societies of Saints, and embraced by them, and this did appear to their enemies; though not very clearly.
And the same hour was there a great earth-quake.]
The kingdom of the Beast being called the earth, it is that earth of whom this earth-quake is spoken. Now this earth-quake, is said to be the same hour when the witnesses being risen from the dead, did ascend into the societies of the Saints; and were by them received, and embraced: in that same hour, there was a great earth-quake. The state of the Beast hath been shaken before. The witnesses have made a former earth-quake in the kingdom of the Beast, which was mentioned, chap. 7. 5. but that is not said to be a great earth-quake; but this is said to be a great earth-quake. And indeed this was a greater earth-quake; a greater shaking to the kingdom of the Beast, then any that hath been before it, as doth appear by the effects of it, mentioned in this verse. Though it is true, this is not the greatest earth-quake that shall come on the kingdom of the Beast; for there shall be a far greater earth-quake that shall come upon it: as appears, chap. 16. 18. yet this was a very great earth-quake; a very great shaking to the kingdom of the Beast: For in this earth-quake,
The tenth part of the city fell]
This word, The city, hath reference unto a city, formerly mentioned in this chapter, and that is verse. 8. and it is there so plainly described, as it doth evidently appear to be the mystical Babylon.
And the tenth part]
The ten kingdoms that were the ten horns of the Beast, were ten several parts of mystical Babylon, which did reign over them. So that England being one of them, was a tenth part of mystical Babylon.
And a tenth part of the city fell]
This was one of the effects of the earth-quake, which was occasioned by the resurrection of the witnesses, the Saints in England; it did so shake the great Babylon of the Beast, as a tenth part of it fell. And this most exactly came to pass, in the year of the Resurrection of the witnesses, 1645. for then did the kingdom of England (which was a tenth part of great Babylon) fall from Rome; for then was that removed from it, whereby it had continued to be a part of Babylon (the place of Saints' slavery) namely, the power of men over the consciences of Saints: For after the Army, which was for the witnesses, stood upon their feet, in 1645. they so cast of that power that men had had over their consciences, and over their persons and estates for their conscience sake; as it was not possible for the Beast, nor any of his adherents to recover that power again, over the consciences of the Saints in this kingdom (though they did with all their strength, and greatest industry endeavour it afterwards) for the witnesses then standing upon their feet; there was such an earth-quake, great Babylon was so shaken, as England fell from it; the yoke of bondage which was upon the consciences of Saints in England, was then cast off: And this was one effect of the great earth-quake, which there was in mystical Babylon, at the resurrection of the witnesses: that England fell from it.
Thus England is fallen from the great whore, mystical Babylon; and is become a president to the other kingdoms; who must all in time, cast off the yoke of bondage under which they are; and hate the whore, and make her desolate, and naked, &c. Revel. 17. 16.
And in the earth-quake were slain of men seven thousand.]
This was another effect of the earth-quake, that as a tenth part of the city fell, so there were slain of men seven thousand.
What is meant by the fall of the tenth part of the city, is already apparent, and it is not the material falling of a tenth part, of any material city, but the mystical falling of the tenth part of a mystical city. And suitable to this, is the meaning of this slaying of seven thousand men, not by the material falling of any part of a material city. But the earth-quake being a mystical shaking of mystical Babylon; this is a mystical slaying of seven thousand men; whereby they die mystically, that is, cease to live any longer to mystical Babylon, being by beholding the great victory, which the Saints had over the Beast converted, and fallen off from the Beast, which seven thousand men were before, either secretly, or openly lovers and worshippers of the Beast.
But it may be objected, How doth it appear that seven thousand men, or persons were so converted, by the resurrection of the witnesses?
Answ. Though it do not visibly appear to the outward eyes of any; yet it is sufficient to persuade me, and should be to persuade all Saints to believe it: in that this Scripture, this oracle of Heaven, saith it. When there was no true worshippers of God in Israel, that were visible to Elijah the Prophet, and that then the Lord telling him, that he had left seven thousand in Israel, who had not bowed the knee to Baal, nor had kissed him with the mouth; it was sufficient to persuade Elijah to believe it: although not one of those seven thousand did visibly appear to him. Therefore much more ought Saints now, not to question the truth of this; that seven thousand are in this mystical earth-quake, mystically slain, though it be not altogether so visible to us (as other things are) because this Scripture says it. And besides, what the Scripture says in it, there is a probability of it, for it is very probable, that many are convinced, that the witnesses, the Saints, are God's people, and those that sight against them, are enemies of God, and do fight against God. I say it is probable, that many are convinced of this, because God hath so owned his people, and given them such victory over those vile wretches that did oppose them, and formerly reproach them, and say, Where is your God? And now God appearing to be for them, when the enemy were come to such a height of impiety and insolency: there is no question, but that many were convinced by it, and fell from the Beast, and that the number of these so fallen from the Beast is, no less than seven thousand. And this was the effect of the great earth-quake.
And in the earth-quake were slain of men seven thousand, and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.]
This remnant here spoken of, are distinct from the witnesses, whether they be such as were for the Beast, or others; they are not of the witnesses, but were some that were affrighted at the witnesses, having a spirit of life from God put upon them; and their standing upon their feet: and therefore not of them, but some others, and they were not of the seven thousand neither, because they are said to be the remnant, or the residue. So then, the meaning of this clause, is this; that the raising up of the witnesses in such an eminent manner, to the shaking of great Babylon, did so work upon the residue of people, as were not of the witnesses, nor of the seven thousand, as that either they were affrighted at it, or had their mouths opened to glorify God in it, or both.
And thus it was in the year 1645. the generality of people, both in the kingdom, and in others, that either saw or heard of the great things God did for the Saints, were either affrighted, and amazed at it, or else did glorify God in working so wonderfully as he did: for when God did work so wonderfully, and beyond expectation, in giving victory upon victory, and success upon success unto his people; so as they seemed to be, as them that dreamed: I say, when God did thus, then the generality of people did admire, and acknowledge God in it, and give him the glory of it, They glorified the God of heaven, that had done such great things, in such an unexpected manner, and in so short a time. And thus the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.
The second woe is past, and behold the third woe cometh quickly.
In the 8. chapter at the 13. verse, it is said, That an angel did fly through the midst of heaven, saying, with a loud voice; woe, woe, woe to the inhabiters of the earth; by reason of the other voices, of the trumpet of the three Angels, which are yet to sound. And at the 9. chapter in the former part of that chapter, there being a description of a great judgement of God, upon wicked men, such as had not the seal of God in their fore-heads, at the 12. verse it is said, One woe is past, and behold there come two woes more hereafter. And now upon the resurrection of the witnesses, which brings in such a great earth-quake at the same hour with it; which gives such a terrible blow to Babylon, and the Beast; it is said in this verse, That the second woe is past, and the third woe cometh quickly. So that there remaineth one great woe more to come upon the inhabiters of the earth. And what this woe is which is to come, now quickly upon the inhabiters of the earth will be, appears in the following verses of this chap. as the taking off the kingdoms of this world, from the Beast, and from all others, to be subjected only to our Lord, and his Christ; for him to reign over them for ever and ever, &c. and now, that the witnesses are risen, this is to be expected, and that quickly; and that to the great joy of all Saints, and to the casting down of all their enemies that are implacable. And thus much for the Explication of that part of the chapter which at this time I intended to treat of. I now come to draw some deductions from it, wherewith I shall conclude this treatise.
These verses being thus opened, many profitable deductions do arise there-from. But I shall pass by some of them, and be as brief as I may in others, that are points fully and sweetly held forth by others in other Treatises, because I shall take liberty to be more large in some things that are not as yet clearly held forth in print by any other, that I have heard of.
That Deduction that first in order arises from the first verse, is a word of comfort for all afflicted Saints; and the word of comfort for such is this, That all their afflictions, whatever they be, are measured out unto them by their God, who hath a tender love unto them, and care over them in their affliction. The Saints of God who are his Temple, and the holy and beloved city, we see here are measured out unto an afflicted, sad condition: and their afflictions come not at random, nor according to the will of their enemies: no, but they are measured unto affliction, and their enemies could have no power over them, but that they were by their God given unto the Gentiles, to be trodden under foot, otherwise it could not have been possible, for the Gentiles to have trodden them under foot. Now since it is God's act towards his people, it must needs be for their good, and therefore Paul speaking of the afflictions, and the sufferings that Saints undergo, speaks of it as their privilege, Phil. 1. 29. Unto you it is given, in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake. And the holy Ghost in the prophecy of Micah, speaks of the rod of affliction, as of the food of the people of God, Micah 7. 14. Feed thy people with thy rod; the flock of thine heritage, which dwell solitarily in the wood. And as in Micah, God is said to feed his people with his rod; so he is said to comfort them with his rod: for saith David, Psal. 23. 4. Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. And therefore let Saints in an afflicted condition, be comforted in this consideration, That their affliction, whatever it be, is that which comes not by chance, as men use to say; nor according to the wills of men; but their God hath dispensed it out unto them, who doth it in great wisdom, and great love, and gives them out affliction, as their privilege, as their food, and for their comfort. O therefore, let poor souls in affliction be no more cast down, and walk no more heavily, nor go mourning all the day long no more, because of their afflictions, but walk comfortably under afflictions, because they come from a loving God, who hath appointed them thereunto, 1 Thes. 3. 3.
In the second place, it serves to inform us, That it is of God, that enemies do rise up against the Saints; for we see here, that the Gentiles, the mystical Babylonians, were by God appointed to afflict the people of God; to tread the holy city under foot, before ever they had a being. Now as God doth in love suffer his people to be afflicted: So in wrath he usually gives up wicked men to be the instruments of afflicting his people. For as the sufferings of Saints work out for them a greater weight of glory, (2 Cor. 4. 17.) So the wrongs and violence; that wicked men do offer unto the Saints, doth procure for them a greater weight of vengeance. And therefore the Apostle, Phil. 1. 28. bids the Saints, To be in nothing terrified by their adversaries; which is to them (saith he) an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. And 2 Thess. 1. 6. It is (saith he) a righteous thing with God, to recompense tribulation unto them which trouble his Saints. So that God raises up wicked men to afflict his people, that he may pour out the fuller vials of wrath upon them. And therefore, when God told Pharaoh, That he would at that time send all his plagues upon his heart, and upon his servants and people, Exod. 9. 14. saith he at the 16. verse. And in very deed, for this cause have I raised thee up, for to show in thee my power, and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth. So that no enemy can rise up against the people of God; but it is of God, and God usually doth it, that he may pour out the fuller vials of wrath upon them. I say usually, it is so, but it is not always so: for some enemies of Saints are sometimes chosen vessels, as Paul was: but ordinarily, it is so, and so it shall be with the Beast: for both Babylon of old, and this mystical Babylon, after they had afflicted, and oppressed the people of God, so much as was before ordained, were appointed to take off the dregs of that cup of trembling, which they put into the hands of the people of God, Isa. 51. 21, 22, 23. Hear now thou afflicted, and drunken, but not with wine: thus saith thy Lord, the Lord and thy God, that pleadeth the cause of His people; behold I have taken out of thy hand, the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury; thou shalt no more drink it again, but I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee, which have said to thy soul, Bowe down, that we may go over, and thou hast laid thy body as the ground, and as the street to them that went over. And how this was done, and shall be done, both to the material and the mystical Babylon, appears at large in the 47. chapter of Isaiah, and the 51. of Jeremiah, and the 18. of the Revelation: besides in several other Scriptures. Now then, we may cease to wonder, why wicked men do prevail so much, and continue so long in doing violence unto Saints; for we see it is of God; for ordinarily he suffers it, that vengeance may fall the heavier upon them at last. Babylon hath multiplied her abominations for a long time, and made herself drunk with the blood of Saints; but at last she shall be rewarded double for all the cruelties she hath done to the Saints.
Thirdly, Saints are here instructed to beware how they be too hasty to get out of an afflicted condition; and especially to beware how they use any indirect means, that so they may come the sooner out of affliction: for it is vain and sinful for them so to do: for the time how long they shall remain in an afflicted condition, is fixed by the Father, and so long they shall remain under affliction, though they strive and struggle never so much, to come sooner out of it. For we see here the holy city, was to be trodden under foot of the Gentiles, to be in an afflicted condition forty and two months, and so long they did abide in that condition; it may be they might expect deliverance the first month of years; but if not then, yet the second month, when sixty years were expired, they might then hope deliverance was near. For the material Babylon, held the people of God but seventy years, but yet deliverance came not in three, nor four, nor five, nor twenty months of years; but when they had been five hundred years under persecution, there came no deliverance from the tyranny of the Beast, but the Saints were to remain seven hundred years longer, and why? because the time appointed for deliverance was not come till then. The decree was past, that the holy city should be trod under foot forty and two months, and the decree being past, so long it must, and so long it did remain to be trodden under foot. It is wisdom therefore for Saints, quietly to submit to the will of their God, in affliction, and not to be too hasty to get out, before the appointed time of their God be come; but if he tarry they must wait.
Fourthly, In the next here is a further word of Consolation to Saints in affliction: and that is, That when the time of affliction, in which they are to abide under affliction, is expired, then they shall be delivered out of affliction, and nothing shall longer prolong their affliction: for we see that though the holy city must be trod under foot, forty and two months: yet when that time is expired, they must be delivered. The rod of the wicked must not always rest upon the lot of the righteous: No, the Father hath appointed a time, wherein deliverance must come. The Saints must not always be laid low, and therefore saith the Church, Micah 7. 8. Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy; when I fall, I shall rise again. So, though the witnesses be clothed in sack-cloth, a long time, yet it shall not be always so, They shall at last have beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise, for the spirit of heaviness, Isa. 61. 3. And though they have for a time lain among the pots; yet shall they be, as the wings of a Dove, covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold, Psal. 68. 13. And of this we are to be confident under any affliction, that we shall have deliverance, and nothing shall be able to hinder it, when the appointed time for our deliverance is come, though not before.
Fifthly, In the next place, Is it so, that Jesus Christ hath had some that have prophesied, during all the twelve hundred and odd years that the Beast hath tyrannized over the Saints, during all the time, the Saints have been under the bondage of mystical Babylon, then this may serve to convince those of their error, who will not hear (such as they acknowledge to be real) Saints, to hold forth the word of truth, the testimony of Jesus, to the edification, exhortation, and comfort of others: and the reason why they will not hear them, is, because they conceive, that since the rising up of the Beast, and the Babylonish darkness, there hath been no true Pastors, nor Teachers, nor Prophets. Now for the convincing of those of their error herein; I shall be the more large in this use, endeavouring to make it clearly to appear to be their great weaknes.
And now, you that lie under this scruple, in the spirit of love and meekness, I desire you to consider, how evident it is, that Jesus Christ hath had some true prophets, during all this twelve hundred years, that the Beast hath trodden the Saints under foot: For Jesus Christ saith expressly, I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. And this hath been made good, for it appears, that in all times since, Christ hath had some that have prophesied, that is, have held forth the testimony of Jesus Christ; For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. And indeed every true Saint is a Prophet, because the Lord revealing his secrets to a soul, as it maketh it a Saint, so it maketh it a Prophet, and so the Lord looks upon his Saints as his witnesses and prophets. Now this being evident, That Christ hath had true prophets; this maketh it clear, that as it is said, Ephes. 4. 10, 11, 12, 13. That Jesus Christ, when he ascended up far above all heavens, gave some Apostles, and some Prophets, and some Evangelists, and some Pastors and Teachers, for the perfecting of Saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come into the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. So this word hath been fulfilled, Jesus Christ hath always continued these. For,
First, Apostles have been continued for the edifying of the body of Christ, as it is here said: for the Apostles being the eye-witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ, in all that he did and suffered, and of his Resurrection, as it is evident in that expression of Peter, when another Apostle was to be chosen in the place of Judas, Acts 1. 21, 22. Wherefore of these men which have accompanied with us, all the time that the Lord Jesus went in, and out among us. Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day he was taken from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his Resurrection. I say, they being eye-witnesses of the Lord Jesus, their witness which they gave of him is left still upon record, in which Apostles still continue useful to the Church, for perfecting of Saints for the work of the ministry, and for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come, &c. and in this sense Apostles have continued: but prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers have actually continued in the Church; and that doth appear by this, because we here see it is evident that Prophets have been continued. Now a man that is a true Prophet of Jesus Christ may be, and in some degree truly is an evangelist, and pastor, and a teacher also. For
First, To be an evangelist, is to be able to hold forth the Gospel, in the grace and sweetness of it, and he that is so is an evangelist. And
Secondly, To be a pastor, is to be able to feed the flock of Christ, both the sheep and tender lambs, with the wholesome, saving truths of Christ, to the nourishing, and strengthening of their Souls. And
Thirdly, To be a teacher, is to be able to unfold the mysteries of the Gospel, and clearly to hold forth the truths of Christ, to the instruction of the ignorant, and increasing of knowledge; and he that is so is a Teacher.
Now he that is a prophet, may be all these:
First, He may be a man that publisheth the glad tidings, of the Grace of the Gospel.
And secondly, A man that teacheth, and instructeth people, with knowledge and understanding.
And thirdly, A man that feeds the flock of Christ, with wholesome saving truths. I say a prophet may be, an evangelist, a pastor, and teacher, and so was Paul: that he was a prophet, appears, Acts 13. 1. and that he was a pastor, appears, in that he was so frequent in feeding the Church of God: and that he was a teacher, appears, Acts 13. 1. and 2 Tim. 1. 11. and Acts 20. 27. and that he was an evangelist, appears in all his Epistles, by his full, and sweet holding forth the Grace of the Gospel in them, and as Paul was so: so it might be also said of Apollo, and Peter, and Barnabas, and Timothy, and others.
But here it may be objected, If one man may be both a prophet, and evangelist, a pastor, and teacher, Why doth the Apostle speak of them particularly, as given to particular persons; For saith he, Jesus Christ when he ascended gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some Pastors, and Teachers. And again, 1 Cor. 12. 29. he saith, Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? Implying that the Spirit had dispensed out the gift of prophesying to one, of teaching to another, of Apostleship to a third, and not all these gifts to one.
Answ. Though it be true, That a prophet may be also an apostle, an evangelist, a pastor, and teacher, as Paul was; yet the Scripture speaks particularly of them, because they are several gifts, and sometimes they are severally dispensed; so that one man may be more properly said to be an evangelist, because he may be more able to hold forth the sweet word of the Gospel, and to be a son of consolation, and to be more evangelical then other, and so may be more properly said to be an evangelist. And so of the rest, one man may be more eminent in one of these gifts, then in the rest; and so may be more properly said to be, either a pastor, or a teacher, and yet notwithstanding, he that is an evangelist, may in some sort be able to act, as a pastor, or a teacher: so he that is a pastor, may in some sort, be able to act as an evangelist, or a teacher, though in an especial manner he may be fitted to do the work of a pastor, and so of the rest: So that the reason why they are particularly spoken of, is, because that some Saints may be more eminently fitted for one of them, then for the rest; and not that they, that have one of these gifts, have only one of those gifts, and is utterly void of the rest, and this will be the more confirmed, and cleared by comparing this, with that passage, 1 Cor. 12. 8, 9, 10. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge, by the same Spirit, to another faith, by the same Spirit, to another the gifts of healing, by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of Spirits, to another divers kinds of toungues, to another the interpretation of tongues. Here the Apostle speaks of several gifts, and saith that one is given to one, and another to another, and a third to a third, &c. And his meaning is, That one Saint is more eminent for one gift, and another for another, and not that he that had the word of wisdom, had no knowledge, nor no faith, &c. Nor that he that had faith, had not wisdom, nor knowledge, &c. Nor that he that had knowledge, had no faith, nor wisdom, nor prophecy, &c. Nor that he that had discerning of Spirits, had no knowledge, nor prophecy, nor wisdom, nor faith, &c. But this is the Apostle's meaning, That he that had the word of knowledge, might not have so much faith, nor wisdom, nor discerning of spirits, &c. as he that had less knowledge, so he that was full of faith, might have less wisdom, and discerning of spirits, and knowledge, &c. then those that were more weak in faith. But now as some might be eminent in one of these gifts only; so some might be eminent for two, or three: and others might be eminent for them all. And those that were eminent for one only, could not be said to have none of the rest.
Now by this time the reason is evident, why the Apostle speaks of prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers distinctly, and withal it is evident, that he that is a prophet is an evangelist, a pastor, and a teacher. for as it cannot be said of him that hath faith, that he hath no knowledge, nor wisdom, nor discerning of spirits, &c. So it cannot be said of a prophet, that he is no evangelist, nor pastor, nor teacher.
And now, it is evident, That prophets have been continued all the while, the Saints have been in Babylon; and in the continuance of prophets, there hath been a continuance of evangelists, and pastors, and teachers, whereby that Scripture hath been made good, Ephes. 4. 10, 11, 12, 13. which says, they must all continue, Till we all come in the unity of the Faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, &c. And this being so evident, it appears to be from weakness, and darkness that any have questioned, whether any of these have been during the time, that the Saints have been captivated to Babylon.
But here this query may be made; May there be prophets, evangelists, apostles, and teachers, that were never ordained by the laying on of hands?
Answ. Yes they may; for the Scripture speaks not of laying on of hands upon any, but only of bishops, and deacons; and they only had the laying on of hands because they were ordained, to do some particular things, which were to be done by them, and was proper to them only, and none in the Church else, were to act in them, but only they. But prophesying, and evangelizing, and feeding, and teaching, and building up one another, was common to all in the Church, as everyone had received the gift, so to minister, as good stewards of the Grace they had received! For their gifts are not given to be laid up in a napkin, But the manifestation of the Spirit, is given to everyone to profit withal. So that, these I say were not restrained only to be done by bishops, and deacons, who only were persons ordained, by the laying on of hands; but were common to be done by all.
Now a bishop, (which the Scripture indifferently calls, either a bishop, or an elder, or a presbyter,) is ordained by the laying on of hands; because he is appointed to the work, which is proper to that Office, and not to any other in the Church.
Now the works that are proper to a bishop, elder, or presbyter are,
First, To rule, and guide, and govern the Church: and this is clear by that of the Apostle, 1 Tim. 5. 17. Let the bishops that rule well be counted worthy of double honour. And 1 Tim. 3. 4. the Apostle says, That a bishop must be one that rules well his own house; implying, that he is not fit to rule the Church of God, if he do not rule his own house well. And of those it is that the Apostle speaks, Hebrew. 13. 7. Remember them which rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God. And verse. 17. Obey them which have the rule over you and submit, for they watch for your Souls. And of these he also speaks, 1 Thes. 5. 12. Know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you.
Moreover, secondly, It is the work of a bishop, or presbyter, to ordain elders, or bishops in the Churches where they are wanting, as appears, Titus 1. 5. The Apostle there speaking to Titus, who was a bishop or presbyter, saith, For this cause left I thee in Crete; that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting; and ordain elders in every city. And so Timothy being a bishop, it was his work, as appears by that rule given him, 1 Tim. 5. 22. Lay hand suddenly on no man. Again it likewise is made evident, to be the work of presbyters, 1 Timothy 4. 14. and 2 Tim. 1. 6.
Now these things were proper to the office of a bishop, and others that are not ordained to be bishops, have no warrant to take upon them to act in these things.
But there are other things that bishops are also enjoined to do, that may be and ought to be done by other brethren, but bishops are enjoined to do them, in an especial manner, and they are these:
First, To feed the flock over which they are made over-seers, and this is that Paul enjoins the elders of the Church of Ephesus to do, Acts 20. 29. Take heed unto yourselves, and unto all the flock over which the holy Ghost hath made you over-seers, and feed the Church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. And this is that which Timothy, who was an elder, or bishop, was enjoined to, in these passages, 1 Tim. 4. 3. Preach the word, be instant in season, and out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering, and doctrine. And verse. 5. Do the work of an Evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. And 2 Tim. 2. 15. Study to show thy self approved unto God, a work-man that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Thus ought bishops in a more especial manner to feed the flock of God, and to instruct and admonish them. But this is not their duties only, but the duty of all the brethren, according to their several abilities. But
Secondly, It is the duty of bishops, or presbyters, to be good examples to believers: this also Timothy was enjoined unto, 1 Tim. 4. 12. Be thou an example to believers, in word, in conversation, in love, in spirit, in faith, and purity. And this Titus, who was a bishop, was also enjoined unto, Tit. 2. 7. In all things show thy self a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity. And 2 Tim. 2. 2. The things which thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thus it is the duty of elders, or presbyters, to be a good example to believers: but it is not their duty only, but the duty of all other Saints also.
Thirdly, It is the duty of bishops, to watch over the souls of the flock which are committed to them; for they must give account of them to God, and this the elders, or bishops of the Church of Ephesus, are enjoined unto, Acts 20. 28. Take heed (saith the Apostle) unto yourselves, and unto the flock over which the holy Ghost hath made you over-seers: for I know (says he) that after my departure, there shall grievous wolves enter in among you: So that the elders of the Church ought to look to the flock, to keep them from the pernicious Doctrines of wolvish men, and Heb. 13. 17. saith the Apostle, Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy. So that it is evident, that it is the duty of the Elders of the Church, to watch over the souls of the people. But this is not their duty only; but the duty of all believers, to watch over one another.
Thus the Scripture declaring that bishops are ordained, by the laying on of hands, declares what things are to be done by bishops, as bishops, and not by other Saints; and what things are to be done by them, which is to be done by others also. Now the Scripture speaks but of one Office more, to which persons are ordained by the laying on of hands, and that is of deacons.
Now the Office of a deacon the Scripture expresses distinctly also, namely, that they are to receive the collections for the poor, and to distribute it to the poor, to widows, and to such as are in want, and to all according to their necessities. And this appears, Act. 6. 1. 2, 3. and 4. verses compared together; this was the work which deacons were ordained to do, and which is to be done by them only, and not by others in the Church. But we find that Stephen and Philip being deacons, were such as did feed the flock, preach the Word, opposed gainsayers, were teachers, and did the work of apostles and evangelists, and wrought miracles, and wonders among the people, as appears in the sixth, seventh and eighth chapter of the Acts; but these are the duty of deacons; but not their duties only, but the duties of all the brethren, in which they are to act according to the measure of grace received.
And now, since the Scripture speaks but only of bishops and deacons, that were ordained by the laying on of hands, and declares it is the duty of the rest of the brethren in the Church, to prophesy, as 1 Cor. 14. 31. Ye may all prophesy one by one; and that it is the duty of others in the Church to do the work of evangelists, pastors and teachers. It is hereby clear, that they may be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, that were never ordained by the laying on of hands. And so much for answer to that query.
And since it is made so evident, that prophets, apostles, evangelists, pastors and teachers have continued all the while the Beast hath continued, I hope, hereby they that through darkness have been of the contrary mind, will be hereby convinced of their error herein. And now be ye exhorted to frequent the assemblies of Saints; and come to those meeting places, where such as are precious Saints, do hold forth the word of truth; and by the Spirit of prophecy do speak unto men, to edification, exhortation and comfort. O come you, and partake of those gifts of the Spirit, whereby some are enabled to hold forth the glad tidings of the Gospel, to publish peace, and grace, and mercy through Jesus Christ, and to do the work of an Evangelist, and partake you of those gifts, whereby others are enabled to unfold the mysteries of the Gospel, and to teach, and instruct the simple, and to do the work of a Teacher. In a word, Come and partake of apostolical, prophetical and pastoral gifts, of all the particular operations and manifestations of the Spirit of Christ in his Saints: which are given to profit withal. Consider that Jesus Christ saith, I will give unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy. It is the gift of Jesus Christ unto his people, which he gives not only for the good of the persons in whom it is, but for the good of others also. Saints have an interest in one another's gifts; and therefore Paul speaking of such as were Prophets, as himself and Peter, and Apollo, saith he to the Saints (1 Cor. 3. 21, 22.) all are yours, whether Paul or Apollo, or Cephas, &c. Thus the gifts that are given to others, are given to them for me, and the gifts that are given to me, how weak soever, are not altogether for myself, but for others also: for Jesus Christ hath so disposed of it, to give several gifts to several Saints, to this end to maintain Communion among Saints. O therefore you that are Saints, have Communion one with another, that you may receive benefit from one another, as Christ hath appointed: For he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers; What to do? For the perfecting of Saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. Now do you desire to be edified? Do you desire to press forward toward perfection, that you may not be as children, carried about with every wind of doctrine? Then frequent the assemblies of the Saints, that you may partake of their gifts. Jesus Christ hath given them to effect these things in you, and all his people: and for the keeping a spirit of love among Saints, that they receiving benefit one from another, may not say one to another, I have no need of you, as those seem to do, that forsake the Assemblies of Saints: but that all being joined and knit together, may increase with the increase of God. And so much shall suffice to be spoken to this.
Sixthly, The next instruction that I shall come to (though it be not the next in order, yet I shall place it here, because of the affinity it hath with this) is this. That since the witnesses, the Saints of Jesus Christ, have had a spirit of prayer, all the while the Beast hath continued; whereby their enemies have been devoured, as by a spiritual fire: then hereby they may be convinced of their error, that say they are in Babylon, and therefore do not join with any, in pouring out their fouls to God in prayer, nor yet do it themselves.
Now let such consider, that in the darkest mid-night of Popery, Saints have had a spirit of prayer; and indeed it is not possible to be a Saint, and not to have a spirit of prayer. It is the very nature and constitution of the spirit of a Saint, to ascend upward to God in prayer, at all times, and upon all occasions.
The truth is, that though the Saints may be without other Ordinances, as baptism, and breaking of bread (though I know no rule they have willingly to neglect them neither:) yet they cannot be without the use of prayer and prophesying; and therefore we see that Saints have always enjoyed them, during all the time they have been trodden under foot: the spirit of prayer, and prophesy hath been still upon them. And herein they have appeared to be both living Christians, and waking Christians: a dead man cannot breathe, nor can a sleeping man speak; but when a man breathes and speaks, he is discovered to be, both a living, and a waking man. Now if Christians be not dead Christians, then sure they will both breathe, and speak as soon as the breath of spiritual life is in a man, he is a man that breaths toward God in prayer continually: and when he is grown up a little, he is able to speak, to edification, exhortation and comfort; though some are more fluent in speaking, and have better utterance then others, yet all in whom there is true spiritual life, in some sort or other, do so speak as to edify, exhort, and comfort one another. Let such therefore as are in this error, beware how they entertain principles, so contrary to the very life of Christianity. And O do you not stop your breath; what though you be in Babylon? yet you must breathe there, otherwise you are stifled. Beware therefore of being stifled, breathe freely toward thy God, wherever thou art. Thou mayest have Communion with him in any place. Though thou art with Daniel in Babylon, and in a Lion's den; yet the breathings and the pantings of thy soul after God, are acceptable to him.
Object. But perhaps some may say, When I go about to pray, I find much deadness, fleshliness, carnality and coldness in myself, both when I am to pray publicly with other Saints, and when I am privately retired; and I look upon this as an effect of Babylonish darkness. I question therefore whether I may pray, until it be wholly done away.
Answ. The Apostle, when he bids us, In all things to make known our requests to God, and to pray without ceasing, and to continue in prayer, and to pray continually, Phil. 4. 6. 1 Thess. 5. 17. Col. 4. 2. did very well know, That Saints did carry flesh about them, which would be opposing the Spirit•; and therefore he himself saith, When I would do good, evil is present with me; and, The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would, Gal. 5. 17. I say the Apostle knew this, That the flesh would oppose, but he would not have Saints, upon that ground to neglect spiritual duties: for that were to suffer the flesh to get the victory; but rather to be the more frequent in spiritual duties, and to be the more incessant in holy performances, especially in prayer, that so they might overcome the flesh that so opposeth.
Again secondly, When the Apostle presses Saints to spiritual duties, he speaks to them as knowing, that though they carry flesh still about them, yet that they have a spirit in them, in which they are to act toward God: and that though flesh be acting in them; yet at the same time, that spirit may act in them. And therefore when Saints come to pray, though the flesh do endeavour, to put out the life of the Spirit, yet the Spirit strives to mortify the flesh: and though both act at the same time, yet God is able to distinguish, between what cometh from his own Spirit, which is always in his Saints, and what comes from flesh in them. And though the flesh do act its part, yet Jesus Christ having by one offering, done away all the corruptions of the flesh in his people: God can notwithstanding the flesh in them, smell a sweet savour in those performances, in which there is much weakness and flesh, and but little of the Spirit appearing; there being an atonement already made, for the sins of their holy things. So that Saints, you having Spirit in you, as well as flesh, you are not to neglect to perform spiritual duties, because you do not see flesh wholly subdued (for that was never yet done in any Saint, while he remained in this tabernacle) but in that spirit to act, especially in prayer, even when you find flesh also acting; for if you have but a spiritual desire, to have that flesh subdued, that desire cometh from the Spirit; and that spark being neglected, may seem to die; but if according to the rule of Paul to Timothy, we stir up that gift of the Spirit we have received, how weak soever it may seem to be, that spark may grow up into a flame, and get strength in a great measure, to burn up that corruption that so troubles and burthens us. Therefore the Apostle gives this rule, To continue in prayer. Saints do you desire to have flesh subdued? then continue so desiring, and be continually lifting up your spirits, to your God in prayer against it: and that you may do so, take all opportunities to retire yourself, from other employments, that you may lift up your souls unto God in prayer: and do not content yourselves with barely having these desires, and so be continually plunging yourselves in worldly employments, in conversing with sublunary things: but improve all opportunities, to retire yourselves, from conversing with these things, for the enlivening and enflaming of your spirits; and do not persuade yourselves, that while you are discoursing of your bargains, and tradings, and lands, and livings, and clothing, and I know not what; that you pray as well, as when you retire yourself into a private place, to lift up your souls in secret to God in prayer: For our Saviour gives you this direction; When you pray enter into your closets, and shut your doors, and pray to your Father which is in secret, &c. Matth. 6. 6. And our Saviour himself observed the same rule: for it is often said of him, That he went apart into a mountain to pray; and continued whole nights in prayer unto God: the night being the time in which he was free from other employments. And so Act. 10. 9. it is said, That Peter went upon the house to pray. And truly if Saints did improve more opportunities, and take more advantages thus to retire themselves to converse with God; so much coldness and lukewarmness, worldliness, covetousness, pride, and contention would not appear in them. But it hath been the design of the common enemy, to take off Saints from these warrantable, profitable and advantageous retirements, wherein they might enjoy Communion with God, to the end they may continue in a more loose and carnal frame, to the sadding of their spirits, and to the scandal of their most holy profession.
But another may say, I find that our Saviour saith unto his Disciples, Whatsoever ye shall ask in my Name, that will I do, Joh. 14. 13. And John saith, We have confidence toward God, and whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, 1 Joh. 3. 21, 22. And again, This is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us; and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him, 1 John 5. 14, 15. And by these passages it appears, That Saints in the primitive times, before the great falling away, and the rising of the Beast; when they prayed, had assurance that they should have the petitions they desired. But when I pray, I have no such confidence in many things: and many times it is a long time before my petitions are answered; and in some petitions i have a plain denial; and therefore I question, whether it be not sinful for me so to continue praying, until I am fully come out of Babylon: and then I conceive that I shall have such a spirit of prayer, as the Saints had in the primitive times, and have confidence, that whatsoever I ask of God, I shall receive of him.
Answ. First, That the Saints while they have been under the bondage of Babylon, have had a spirit of prayer; and have had their petitions heard, is evident. For their prayers have brought judgements upon their enemies, being presented upon the golden altar. And if it have been no sin, for these to continue praying, though they were in Babylon: then doubtless it would be no sin for thee to pray, though thou shouldst be in Babylon. But
Secondly, Whereas thou sayest, That in some things thou hast no confidence that thou shalt be heard; and sometimes it is long before some petitions are granted, and other petitions are plainly denied. Let me tell thee, That if in those things, in which thou hast no confidence, thou do pray for them with the submission of thy will, unto the will of the Father, it may be no sin for thee so to pray, for the things that thy soul desires, though thou hast no confidence of them; if they be such things, as be not sinful in themselves, as such as these are not, viz. to be delivered from bodily distempers, to be kept from dangers in travelling, whether by sea or land; to be delivered from the tyranny of unreasonable men, that seek to do thee hurt: or to have parents, or children, or wife, or husband, or brethren, or sisters, or any other friend delivered from bodily distempers, or dangers in travelling, &c. or to have them brought to the knowledge of the truth, from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God: or to have them kept from errors and seducing spirits. I say these, and such like things, which are not sinful in themselves, if thy soul desire them, it will be no sin for thee to pray for them, though thou hast no confidence that they shall be granted; so thou pray for these, with the submitting of thy will, to the will of the Father. And this is clear, in that the Lord Jesus himself, in whom was no sin, did pray so, with submission to the Fathers will, for deliverance from that bitter cup, which he was to drink of, though he had no confidence that his petition should be granted. So that Saints may pray, for those things which they do not infallibly know, to be according to the mind of God: and yet it may be no sin so to pray, if they do pray with submission to the Father's will. And in so praying they may be acceptable to the Father, who many times doth grant some of those petitions, as soon as they are put up; and at other times, after he hath made his people to wait long, and to pray importunately for them. And if some of them be denied, yet their persons and prayers may be accepted, and may be, and sometimes are granted another way, God giving them in that, which is better than the thing desired. But
Thirdly, All Saints may have, and doubtless many Saints have as much confidence now in prayer, as the Saints had in the primitive times; for what was the confidence that Saints then had? Saith John, This is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us. This was the primitive Saints' confidence, and what Saint hath not this confidence now, that if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us? Saints are now confident, That the things they pray for which God wills, and intends to give unto them, shall be granted, only they have not an infallible spirit, so as to know in all things, what it is the will of God to bestow upon them. But many things they do know, and others they have strong persuasions of, when God in a more than ordinary manner, moves their spirits to pray for them.
Thus Saints have a holy boldness and confidence, in approaching to the throne of Grace, by the mediation of Jesus Christ, coming to God in the spirit of adoption, being confident of having every good thing, that a gracious and loving Father sees good for them, all their petitions are heard. They are confident, that if they ask anything according to his will, he heareth them. And no Saints in the primitive times had other confidence. So that Saints, it is no sin for you to continue praying, making known your requests to God, but it is your duty so to do. But
Fourthly, Though flesh do break out, and in some things Saints do not pray aright, yet they are not therefore wholly to neglect praying: knowing that God still delights in the breathings of his own Spirit in them; although they have many weaknesses and infirmities in them. And
Fifthly, If they find their faith is not so high, nor their confidence so strong, as some primitive Saints were, then ought they to pray for the increase of faith. If they be weak in faith, let them have recourse to him, who is the author and finisher of faith, for the strengthening of it; who will give liberally, and will not upbraid his people, though they be weak. Though a man that is altogether faithless, hath no promise sure to him; yet the man weak in faith, hath as many promises made to him, as he that is strong in faith. So that though it be weak, yet if it be a true faith in him that prays for the increase of faith, he shall find access to the throne of grace. And so much for the clearing of this.
Seventhly, The next Deduction is to discover the excellency and preciousness of Saints, from the 4 & 5 verses, they are discovered to be excellent, in that they are said to be olive trees, they are not as the dry tree, who is nigh unto cursing, whose end is to be burned, Heb. 6. 8. But blessed and happy is the condition of Saints: For they have an unction from the holy Ones, they stand in the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. They are precious in the eyes of God, and profitable to men: for they empty the golden oil, they have received from the holy one into others; the Spirit as it floweth from them, sometimes penetrates into those that are strangers, aliens to Jesus Christ, whereby they are brought home to the embraces of Jesus Christ: and then Saints are excellent in their eyes also. And so David calls them, Psal. 16. 2, 3. My goodness extendeth not to thee; but to the Saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent in whom is all my delight. And excellent they are.
Secondly, Because they are not only as olive-trees, but as candle-sticks. For as it is said of Jesus Christ, so it is said of them, They are the light of the world, Mat. 5. 14. They are as light shining in a dark place. Now how precious is light, to them that are continually in a sensible darkness? Light is one of the most precious things in the world: it puts a beauty upon other things, it cheers and comforts the heart; it causes men to see the dangers that are in their way, that so they may avoid them: and many others, are the excellent properties of this natural light; but many more, are the precious effects of spiritual light. And this is that that Saints have; though others are in the darkness of hell, yet they enjoy the light of heaven: The Lord God almighty, and the Lamb are a light unto them, Rev. 21. 23. And in this respect also Saints are excellent and precious ones: But I would be brief in this particular, and therefore shall not further enlarge it.
Eighthly, The next Deduction, in which I shall be brief also, is to discover from the fifth verse, the dangerous condition of those wicked men, that are enemies to Saints. Though Saints seem to be poor, weak, despicable creatures, and their enemies in outward appearance seem to be strong and potent, and to be overcomers of them: yet these seeming weak Saints, are strong, and mighty: for they can but send up a message to heaven, and bring secret and invisible arrows from thence, which shall destroy their enemies. The breath of their mouth kindles coals of fire, that destroys their enemies; And if any man will hurt them, he must with this fire be killed. Little do wicked men think, that when they deal cruelly with Saints, they bring coals of fire upon their own heads; yet so they do, if they continue irreconcilable enemies unto them. There is a notable place, to show the danger men run upon, when they offer to wrong the Saints of God, it is Zech 12. 3. In that day, saith the Lord, will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces; though all the people of the earth shall be gathered together against it. Though the spiritual Jerusalem, the Saints of God, had all the people of the earth gathered together against them; yet so potent and strong are they, through the Lord of host their God, as they should overcome them all; they should be as a burdensome stone, and should crush in pieces, all that burden themselves with them. Therefore it would be wisdom in men, to beware how they offer any violence to any one of the Saints of God, either to their lives or liberties, how colourable so ever the pretences be, upon which they do it; seeing it is such a dangerous thing to abuse Saints: as that in wronging them, men be devoured or destroyed by them. And so I have done with this particular also.
Ninthly, In the next place from the sixth verse, might be discovered the reason, why there hath been such a hardness of heart and impenitency upon the Beast, and the Babylonish crew; namely, because that as a judgement upon them, for persecuting the Saints of God; the heavens have been so shut up against them, as that none of the waters of the spirit have descended upon them. But I pass this by, with some other particulars that might be observed in that verse.
The tenth deduction is from the seventh verse, where it is said, The Beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit, shall make war, &c. It doth inform us, that this title, The Beast, is the most proper title of the Pope; as is evident in the comparing of the several passages in this prophecy, where the Beast is mentioned together; which is done in the explicatory part of this discourse; where it appears evidently, that by the Beast is meant the Pope: Now in all the other passages, of the prophesy of this book, where the Pope is mentioned; and in this seventh verse, he being called the Beast, it is evident, that this is his most proper title. Though it is true, the Pope is Antichristian, yet we do nowhere, in the prophecy of this book, nor in any other Scripture where he is expressly spoken of, find the title of Antichrist given to him. But generally, in the prophecy of this book, and in the prophecy of Daniel, where there are some things spoken of him, he is called the Beast. And for the 2 Thess. 2. where he is also expressly spoken of, and plainly described, he is not called there Antichrist neither, but is there called, That man of sin, the son of perdition, and that wicked.
Now it is said, there are many Antichrists, 1 John 2. 19. But it is nowhere said, There are many Beasts, and therefore he is called, The Beast, and that man of sin, the son of perdition, and that wicked. As we use to say, The King of such a kingdom; and The governor of such a place; and, The mayor of such a city or Town; importing there is but one: So the Pope is called, The Beast. For though there be many Antichrists, yet there is but one Beast; but one Pope, who is, The Beast. I do the rather observe this: first to discover, the exceeding greatness of the wickedness, and the abominableness of the Pope; who for his opposition to God, and his enmity to the Saints, is expressed by a peculiar title, that is proper only to that wicked one: to show that he is above all others hateful and cursed.
And secondly, I do the rather speak of this, because some do confusedly speak of the Beast and Antichrist, confounding the Beast with Antichrist, whereas there be many that are, and may be called Antichrists, especially some that are risen up lately, That deny that Jesus is the Christ, making themselves equal with the Lord Jesus Christ: and who do also deny, That Jesus Christ is come in the flesh; or at least have a light esteem of Christ's coming in the flesh: by looking upon that flesh, which was so united unto the God-head, as when the life of it was laid down: it was said to be the life of God, 1 John 3. 16. as no more to be esteemed then the flesh of a common man. I say these, and such as these are Antichrists, as is clear, 1 John 2. 22. and 1 Joh. 4. 3. But though there be many Antichrists, yet there is but one that may be called the Beast: but by confounding the Beast with Antichrist, some look upon the Beast only as Antichrist, whereas there be many Antichrists, which are to be rejected and avoided, besides the Beast; though they have more specious pretences than the Beast's pretences now are, and are thereby the more like to prevail upon the more knowing professors of the time. So much for this particular.
Eleventhly, In the eleventh place, it serves to justify the Parliament, and all that joined with them in the late defensive war. Now although they have been branded with the odious titles of Rebels and Traitors, and what not: yet here their justice and righteousness in that act, appears as clear as the Sun.
For first, we see here, that the enemies which they did oppose was the Beast, that did ascend out of the bottomless pit. And who the Beast is, and how the Beast did appear to be he, that did wage the late war in England and Ireland, is made evident in the explicatory part of this discourse. Now since it was the Beast, that cursed enemy of Jesus Christ, and all his Saints, that raised this war, it was a most righteous act in the Parliament, and all that did adhere to them, to oppose him, and his party in it.
But here by the way I desire to declare, That though I do affirm, that that war was raised by the Beast, that cursed enemy of Jesus Christ: yet do I not hereby condemn every particular man that did engage in this war; nor any particular man, high or low: for I know not, but that it might be possible, for some by colourable pretences to be drawn to engage in this war, that never intended to fight for the Beast, but on the contrary hated him. But this I affirm, that the generality of those (especially of the chiefest) that engaged in this war, were such as were thereunto incited by the Beast, and intended the advancement of the Beast.
And now I say, seeing the war, that was raised against the Protestants in Ireland, and against the Parliament, and such as were styled Puritans and round-heads in England, was a war made by the Beast, that ascended out of the bottomless pit, and contrived in Rome and hell: it was a most righteous thing for the Parliament, and those that adhered to them, to defend themselves against it: God having put a power into their hands to do it: and yet were they no Rebels, unless it were rebellion to oppose the Pope and the devil.
And secondly, The righteousness of the Parliament, and those that adhered to them, is made further evident, by considering the ends for which the Beast did raise this war; and they were,
First, To destroy the witnesses, to make an utter end of all the Saints and servants of Jesus Christ, and to leave none that should oppose or speak against the Beast, the Pope, that so he might bring all men into a professed subjection to himself. And knowing that the Puritans were the only obstructers hereof (for others would easily enough have been persuaded unto a uniformity, and would say, that there was little or nothing in the Romish doctrines, but might have been embraced, rather than to make any division, if the Puritans were removed out of the way) therefore one main end the Beast had in this war, was to overcome the witnesses. Now this being one end of the Beast in that war, it was a righteous thing for the Parliament, and those that adhered to them, to oppose the Beast, for the rescuing of, and preserving of the Saints of Jesus Christ, from the tyranny of the Beast.
It being a righteous act in Abraham to rescue and deliver one just Lot, from those that would have captivated him, and his family: It is much more a righteous act in the Parliamentary party, to rescue and deliver, all the precious Saints of Jesus Christ: (for all Saints had a share in this deliverance) from the cruelty and tyranny of the Beast, that sought their ruin. But
Secondly, Their righteousness in that act, will appear, if we consider the other end of the Beast in the late war, and that was to thrust out Jesus Christ, from reigning as King, and to set up his own kingdom, by subjecting the consciences of all that profess Jesus Christ, both in this kingdom, and all others, unto his laws. Now this being his other great design in that war; it was a most righteous thing to oppose him in it. And it had been a great sin for the Parliament to stoop themselves, and to suffer all the rest in the kingdom, thus to be subjected to the Beast; and lay aside the Regal power of Jesus Christ: God having put power into their hands, to oppose the Beast herein.
Thus, the righteousness of those that did oppose the Beast, appears, if we look upon the ends of the Beast in that war. And
Thirdly, Their righteousness in that act of opposing the Beast, is made the farther evident, because it is in part a fulfilling of that righteous sentence, which God hath passed upon the Beast, Revel. 18. 6, 7. where God says to his people thus, Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works; in the cup which she hath filled, fill to her double: how much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her. Now this sentence is in this war (wherein the Beast hath been overcome, and his designs frustrated, and a tenth part of Babylon is fallen) in part fulfilled: for in this war Babylon hath in part had of the same cup, which she filled to the Saints, as she overcame them, so they have in part overcome her; and this is the beginning of her torments, which are coming on apace, and ere long the cup that she hath filled, shall be filled to her double.
Now the Parliament, and those that adhered to them, having in the late defensive war, in part fulfilled that righteous sentence of God upon Babylon; it doth therein most clearly appear to be a righteous act.
Twelfthly, In the next place here is a discovery of the reason why the Parliamentary Army, did not more prevail for the first three years and an half, and why after that period of time it was so successful and victorious: The reason of it here plainly appears to be, because it was (according to fore-appointment) the mind of God, to have his people brought to a low ebb, for such a period of time; so that they should be looked upon as dead men, and the enemy should rejoice over them, as if they were all totally overcome for three years and an half: And since it was so, it was not possible for the instruments that were then employed, if they had been never so faithful, so active and diligent, to do any more, then that which God had raised them up for; which was only to keep the dead bodies of his people from being buried: and so much they did: they still defended the cause of the witnesses against the enemy, so as it was only kept, as it were above-ground, though it seemed to be as dead. And so God would have it to be, for the first three years and an half: but when the first three years and an half were completely (according to Scripture account) expired; then it was not possible, for the adverse party to prevail over them; for then the time was come, in which the witnesses were to be raised, and then the Spirit of life from God entered into them: and that was the reason why they went on like active, living men, so courageously and victoriously: for God had appointed them to carry on his work, for the fall of this kingdom from Rome.
Thirteenth, In the next place, this serves to exhort all those that were drawn to engage in the late war against the Parliament, and those godly people that adhered to them, to relinquish that act of theirs. And that,
First, Because it is so apparent, that in so doing, they were instruments of upholding the kingdom of the Beast, and that they did in it endeavour to support the Beast, as much as in them lay, whatever the pretences were upon which they were drawn to engage in it: and therefore if they desire to be enemies to the Beast, let them be enemies to this act of theirs: for in it they went about to support the Beast, though it was in vain, the time of his ruin being come: and therefore it behoves them to repent of what they have done in it; for it is not good pretences can justify an evil action. It would be their wisdom therefore, now at last to renounce it, as they renounce the Beast himself. And
Secondly, It concerns them to repent of this deed of theirs, considering against whom they fought, not against ordinary men, but against the choicest of men, the witnesses and servants of Jesus Christ: nay they fought not against them only, but against Jesus Christ: for as Jesus Christ saith to his Disciples, That the world hated them, because it hated him; and he that hateth him, hateth the Father also, Joh. 15. 18. & 23. So it may be said, that they that fought against the Saints of Jesus Christ, fought against Jesus Christ himself, and against the Father also. Now therefore, you that were active in that quarrel of the Beast, how doth it concern you to renounce what you have done therein? least you be found to be fighters against God: and let no longer a spirit of enmity and difference remain between you, and those that you opposed in that particular, but be of one mind with them, in a mutual opposing of the Beast with them. And this do, least persisting in that way of defending the Beast, you be destroyed with the Beast.
Fourteenthly, In the next place it informs all those that did engage in the late defensive war, that they have cause to rejoice in what they have done, in that particular, and no cause to repent of it. Have you contributed to the maintenance of the war in England and Ireland, by lending plate, and disbursing money? And have you sent horses, and arms, and provisions to the Army? And have your servants or children, or yourselves in person, been actually in that war? You have cause to rejoice in all that you have done therein: for you see it was a most just and righteous act, and God hath by it brought a most glorious work to pass, in the bringing this kingdom from that vassallage to Rome, in which it hath been this twelve hundred years, and putting the cup of trembling into the hands of the enemies of Jesus Christ, the dregs whereof they shall at last take off. And therefore you have no cause to repent, but to rejoice in what you have done therein; to rejoice that you had the honour to be in any measure instruments of promoting such a cause; and if you suffered any losses, by being opposers of the adverse party, yet it was far better to be losers in opposing them, then in any measure to comply with them. And you that have received wounds, or lost limbs, for promoting that cause may glory in them: for what soever you have herein done, or suffered, it hath been in, and for opposing that grand enemy of Jesus Christ, The Beast, and in being instruments of bringing God's design to pass, for the ruining of great Babylon, and the setting up the kingdom of Jesus Christ. And therefore, however you seem to be rewarded of men for it; yet never repent of it, but rejoice in what you have done in it.
Fifteenthly, In the next place this may convince those of their error, that take to themselves a power over the consciences of Saints, to rule over them, and make laws for them, and to force them to obedience to those laws.
Let such seriously consider this, that this is apparently that cursed power that the Beast hath usurped to himself, or at least it had no other donor then the Dragon, the old Serpent, the Devil: who gave the Beast his power and seat, and great authority. and by this power the bishop of Rome, first became, and still continues to be the Beast. And this is a Power that is abhorred of God; for those men that exercise this power, do take away the legislative power of God, who is the King, the judge, and the LAW-GIVER of his Saints; and do give Jesus Christ less honour, than the heathens do their idols, who do allow them to be the orderers of their own worship.
O that these men therefore might be convinced of their error, in imposing their laws upon the consciences of Saints, and constraining them to worship God, according to the rules that they have hammered out from them; though they dare not affirm that they themselves are infallible: for surely, if they persist in it, God who is jealous of his glory, and will not give it to another, will break out in the fire of his jealousy against them, as well as against the Beast, that great man of sin, who sitteth in the Temple of God, and takes upon him to make laws as God. It concerns them therefore, to beware how they go on in these ways, lest they be destroyed with that son of perdition.
Again, Let such consider, that all those that ever exercised this power, for the generality of them were always enemies of the most precious, and most spiritual Saints; and were followed with a curse. Let them but look upon the bishops, and generally they were enemies of Saints, and a curse rested on them, even a blindness of mind, and hardness of heart; and at last they were brought down, and shame and contempt cast upon them.
And it may be some of you, that have endeavoured to take the same power, have opposed the bishops for the same thing: O therefore, that in the consideration hereof you might at last lay down that imposing power, although thereby you may seem to lose, that honour that you seek from men, and to lose much of these outward things, the things of the world, which at best are but vanity: for it is far better to be without these, and have a good conscience, than to enjoy much of these, either with a troubled, or seared conscience, and a hardened heart. It is better to be at enmity with the Beast herein, and lose much of the world, then to enjoy abundance of the world, and soon after to perish with the Beast.
Again, This let me tell you with all, that if you shall persist, in endeavouring to get such an imposing power (it being that by which the Beast reigns in any place where it is) it is in vain for you to endeavour it in England, for England is fallen from Rome, and is no more a part of Rome; and therefore it is in vain to seek to exercise a Romish power any longer in it. And England being thus fallen, is become a president to the other kingdoms so to do, and shall not return to Rome again, for England and all the other kingdoms must hate the whore, and make her desolate.
And thus much I cannot but speak, to you that endeavour to take such a power upon you, whether you will hear, or whether you will forbear.
16. The next particular arising from these verses thus opened, is an exhortation to all the Saints in England, to dwell together in unity. O you precious sons and daughters of the Almighty, the Saints, and witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ, that are in this kingdom of England, Consider you what your condition was about seven or eight year ago; at what time you were trampled upon by the bishops (which was a treading under foot of the Beast) Call to mind how some of you were pilloried, and had your ears cropped and many of you imprisoned, and fined, and by several other ways were persecuted, and troubled by the members of the Beast your adversaries: and that only for acting that which in your conscience, you were persuaded was according to the mind of God; and which if you had for fear of men, or for any other reason left undone, your conscience told you, that you should in so doing be disobedient to your heavenly Father. I say, call these things to mind, and what a great pressure it was to your spirit, that you could not with liberty, and freedom follow the Lamb; but men did what in them lay to enforce you to worship the Beast, and to embrace for doctrine, the commandments of men. O how grievous was this oppression to you! And what a burden was it? And how did you groan in your spirits to be delivered? What a grief was it to you to see precious Saints cruelly, and rigidly dealt with, by the enemies of Jesus Christ? And how many frequent prayers did your souls breath out, and lift up to heaven against your enemies, and for deliverance, from their yoke of bondage? I say, call these things to mind, and remember that this was the condition of you all, whether you are such as are commonly called Presbyterians, or Independents, or Anabaptists, if you were Saints, if you loved the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, you were all alike hated of, and opposed by the Beast: and it was a grief, and burden to all your spirits, to see the enemies of Jesus Christ to prevail so much, and you all, both Presbyterians, Independents and Anabaptists did pour out many effectual, fervent prayers against the Beast, and the bishops his adherents in England.
Again, Consider, as the Beast was thus an enemy to you all alike, so it was a mercy to you all alike, when in the year 1645. God gave you all, a full victory over the adherents of the Beast in this kingdom: for then the bishops, and them that fought for them (and in them the Beast) was overcome. And this, I say, was a mercy to you all alike, and it was alike answer to all your prayers, and alike joy to all your spirits, to see your enemies, and the enemies of Jesus Christ overcome. And now since you are all children of the same Father, and have all one Lord Jesus Christ, and have all one Spirit, and have all drank of one cup of affliction, and had all one common enemy that hated you all, and persecuted you all, because you had all the one holy Spirit of the Father, and of the Son in you: and since your Father in love to you all, and in answer to the prayers of you all, gave you all alike deliverance from that enemy of you all. O unite, unite, unite! since your God hath made you one in his love, O be you one in your love one to another! and let it appear that you dwell in God, by dwelling in love. What a low, unworthy thing is it, for you that dwell in God, to grow cold in love towards your brethren, the children of your Father, for differing from you in judgement, in some circumstantial things only? What if some be weak, and do not know so much of the mind of God, in some circumstantial things as you (whether you be Presbyterians, Independents or Anabaptists) conceive you do? Will you therefore not love your weak brother, for whom Christ died, and who is beloved of your Father, because your Father in his wisdom, hath yet withheld that light from him, which he hath given to you? What a weakness is this in you thus to do? Do you not know, that it is not for your merits that you have more than him, but it was from grace, from free favour that you have it? And doth what you have received from grace, work such an effect in you, as to make you grow cold in love toward your brethren? O let it be far from you!
And what though some are Presbyterians and some Independents, as they are commonly distinguished? Though I could wish, that these distinctions of difference might be all laid aside, and that all that belong to Jesus Christ might only be called Saints, and the servants of Jesus Christ, and by such general expressions as include them all, though they still differ in circumstances: for there were no such distinctions used among Saints in the primitive times, though there were differences in some circumstances. But I say, What though some are Presbyterians and some Anabaptists, &c. Yet if they are such as you judge to be in Christ Jesus, and to be beloved of the Father: resolve you in the strength of Christ, to suffer none of their differences from you in judgement, to withdraw your affections from them: but since you love your God and Father, love you his beloved children, and your brethren: and since you sincerely love the Lord Jesus Christ, let it appear in loving of those upon whom his image is stamped: For there is no reason, why you should not love Presbyterians, as well as Independents, and Anabaptists, as well as Presbyterians, &c. unless you look upon them as no Saints, as such as are no lovers of the Lord Jesus: but if you look upon them as Saints, then if you love the Lord Jesus, you cannot but love them, whatever their judgements be. And if you be deficient herein, you are to condemn yourselves in it, and to be humbled for it. And henceforth, considering the oneness that is between you all, whatever your judgements are, and that you have been as one in your sufferings, and as one in deliverances from sufferings, do you still be one in love, and then upon you will the Lord command the blessing, even life for evermore. Psal. 133. 3.
17. The next, and the main Deduction that flows from these verses, being thus explained, is a special encouragement, in particular to the high and honourable Court of Parliament, and to his Excellency the Lord FAIRFAX, and the honoured his Council of War, and all inferior officers and souldiers, and in general to all the witnesses of Jesus Christ in this kingdom of England.
First, It is of special encouragement unto the high and honourable Court of Parliament; for as much as (a great number of them, being the witnesses of Jesus Christ) they were the primary or first instruments, that God made use of to defend the cause of his people, and to preserve them from the tyranny and fury of the Beast.
Now you being the first instruments that God made use of, to plead the cause of his people, God having into your hand first put the power of opposing the Beast: and that wonderful hath been the spirit of courage and constancy, that hath been put upon you in that high Court of Parliament, that make it your design to advance the honour of Jesus Christ, and the good of the Saints, and of all the subjects of this kingdom in general: so that though you have been opposed by great and potent enemies, yet your courage hath not failed, but you have persisted constant, in prosecuting the same designs, since you first began to oppose Strafford and Canterbury, in 1641. unto the year 1645, still opposing the adverse party; and you have not basely complied with them (though some corrupt members deserted you, and did so) but you still stuck to your first principles; and God having put power into your hands, hath enabled you to carry on his design in the worst of times, and after all, having graciously given you good success, to your unwearied pains and labours through which you had gone, by giving you a happy conquest over your enemies.
And in all this, the word of God being fulfilled, these things being according to what is written, even your being first laid low, and also your raising again, it being written, predeclared, that the Beast should make war with the witnesses (of whom you are a part, and whose cause you defend) and should overcome them, and kill them, and that they should lie dead three years and an half, and after three years and an half, should be raised to the terror of their enemies, and that in their rising, a tenth part of Babylon should fall, &c. These things being written and fulfilled, the Beast having made war against the witnesses (whose cause you have been principle instruments of defending against him, and his adherents,) and having overcome them and killed them, both in England and Ireland, and they being dead for three years and an half, the enemy rejoicing over them, and making merry, because they thought they had been so slain, as they should never recover life again; your armies being overcome, and your garisons being possessed by the enemy, and after three years and an half, the spirit of life being put upon your Army, and they, as it is written, standing upon their feet, and therein at the same time, England being fallen from the Beast, from being a part of great Babylon, and this in the year 1645. and that year being the year, wherein it is written, The prevailing power of the Beast should come to a period. I say, these things being so, here is special encouragement to you witnesses, in the high Court of Parliament, to go on in defending that cause, that God hath given you the honour hitherto, to be instruments of defending: I say, to go on to defend it. And that,
First, By doing justice upon your, and the enemies of Jesus Christ. Hath God delivered any of the chief actors of this unnatural, bloody war into your hands? then you being a Civil Power, ordained of God, are to do justice upon evil doers: for the Apostle saith of a Ruler, Rom. 13. 4. He is the minister of God, and he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil. And they are evil-doers in a high degree, that are thieves and murderers: and such are the chief actors of an unjust war. Now if God have delivered any such into your hands, you are to execute wrath upon them: for it is an observable passage, 1 King. 20. 42. The Prophet of the Lord there tells Ahab King of Israel, after he had let Benhadad King of Syria, whom the Lord had delivered into his hand, to go away with his life; that Ahabs life should go for his life. Therefore it is not safe, to neglect doing justice upon such persons, although they consent to such Articles of agreement (being constrained to do it, for their own ends) as Benhadad did, 1 King. 20. 34. Now you in the high Court of Parliament, whom God hath honoured to be the chief instruments of defending the righteous cause of the witnesses, have special encouragement to go on to execute just wrath upon such gross evil doers, without fear.
And also secondly, You have encouragement to go on, to deal well with all the witnesses and servants of Jesus Christ, that walk soberly and justly toward men, and holily towards God, that are under your jurisdiction; whether they be such as are commonly called Presbyterians or Independents, or Anabaptists, &c. even to deal well with them, and all the Subjects of the kingdom, and to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke, and to establish just and righteous laws. I say, here is special encouragement for you to do thus; for in doing thus, you shall prosper and become a glory to the kingdom; and no enemy shall ever henceforth be able to prevail against you: for though formerly you were brought into a low condition, and the enemy prevailed over you with a very high hand; yet henceforth the enemy shall no more prevail against you, although they were in number a hundred thousand more then they are.
And secondly, From these verses thus opened, here is special encouragement in particular, for his Excellency the Lord FAIRFAX, and the honoured Council of war: since as the Parliament are the primary, so they are the secondary instruments, of defending the cause of the Saints of God against the Beast. Now, since you, and the army under you in an especial manner (according to what is written, and declared long ago) were they that had a spirit of life from God put upon you, in the year 1645. whereby life was put into all the witnesses, and whereby you were enabled to act like living men, men that had a life from God, in the overcoming the Beast and his adherents in this kingdom: and seeing you have been instruments of defending that cause ever since: I say, seeing God hath honoured you, so as to make you such eminent instruments of this great work, and the hearts of all the Saints in England, are generally knit unto you, and the eyes of all the Saints in England are upon you, most Noble General, and Worthy Commanders; here is, I say, special encouragement for you to go on still to improve the power that God hath given you, for the same end for which it was given you, viz. The suppressing of the Beast, and defending all the Saints and servants of Jesus Christ in this kingdom, and to go on (having the honour of Jesus Christ, and not your own, and public good more then private ends in your eye, and in your heart) to endeavour to cause justice and righteousness to abound in this kingdom: and this is your encouragement, that in so doing, as you have always been since 1645. So you shall ever be conquerors in all the battles you fight, and overcomers of all the enemies with whom you encounter, no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, nor no enemy shall be able to stand before you; yea though all the people of the Earth should be gathered together against you; yet you should be but as a burthensome stone unto them, and all that burden themselves with you, should be broken in pieces.
And thirdly, Here is special encouragement, for all the Saints in England in general, to be of good courage, not to fear the menaces or threatenings of any enemy: for no enemy shall ever any more prevail over them.
Now what I say, for the encouragement of the Parliament, and of the General, and chief Commanders of the army in particular, and of all the Saints in England in general, is clearly grounded in the Scripture, and therefore is it unquestionable, and to be received and observed of the Parliament, army and Saints in England. Indeed if I should declare anything to you, and tell you that I had it by vision or revelation, and it were not apparent in Scripture, I know no warrant you had to receive it, or to have any confidence of it: For as Paul speaking of the day of Christ, saith to the Thessalonians, Now we beseech you by the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering unto him, that you be not soon shaken in mind, nor be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter, as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand; Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, &c. So may I say, you have reason to beware that you be not soon shaken in mind, or troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter from any, concerning anything for which they do not bring a word from the Scripture: and let no man deceive you, for you may be deluded and deceived, if you receive anything from any, which is not according to what is revealed in the Scripture, as the young prophet was deluded by the old prophet, when he received that doctrine which was contrary to the word of the Lord, which before he had received: So may you, if you should so do. Therefore if a prophet, or an apostle, or an angel from heaven, should bring any message which is not consonant unto the Word, which you have already received in the Scripture, you are not to be shaken in mind, nor to be troubled by it, nor to embrace it. But now the Scripture grounds, upon which I do for their encouragement declare and affirm, That the Parliament, and the army in prosecuting the righteous cause of the Saints (and that all the Saints of England in general) shall all overcome their enemies, and go on victoriously hence forward are these.
First, Because the witnesses are raised from the dead, The Spirit of life from God is entered into them, and they do stand upon their feet.
Secondly, Because England is fallen from Rome, and is no more a tenth part of that great mystical Babylon.
Thirdly, Because the one thousand two hundred and threescore years, in which the Beast was to tread the holy city under foot, did expire in 1645.
Now the first of these grounds, is evidently drawn from Scripture, as appears in the explicatory part of this discourse; where it is evident, That that great and considerable number of Saints in England, and all real Saints of Jesus Christ, of whom it is said, That the Beast should make war against them, and overcome them, and that they should lie dead three years and an half, the Spirit of life from God should enter into them, and they should stand upon their feet, to the fear of their enemies, and to the glory of their God. And it is evident, that this which this Scripture hath said of them, is punctually come to pass; The Beast did make war against all Saints, in making war against that great number of the Saints in England in the late war, the Beast did overcome them, and kill them, and they were mystically dead for three years and an half, and as soon as the three years and an half were completely expired, the Spirit of life from God entered into them, a Spirit of life, vigour and courage was put upon them, and they did no longer lie as dead men, but like living men, they stood upon their feet, to the fear and amazement of their enemies, and to the glory of their God, who had put such a Spirit of vigour, and courage upon them. And now upon this ground, may all the Saints in England, and those worthies in the Parliament of England, and their army, who have been instruments of bringing down the power of the Beast in England, be encouraged to continue opposing the Beast, and acting justly and righteously toward all, and be assured (God having put a Spirit of life upon them, and made them to stand upon their feet) they shall overcome every enemy, that shall rise up against them, and the enemy in no battle, shall be able to stand before them, nor give them one defeat, but shall fall before them, and be cut down as mown grass, and the men of war shall not find their hands, but turn their backs, and flee before them: for they shall now find them living men, such as have a Spirit of life from God put upon them.
The second ground, upon which I affirm, That no enemy shall be ever able to prevail over them, is clear in Scripture. For it is also evident in the Explicatory part of this discourse, That England is that tenth part of the City, which the holy Ghost in this Scripture speaks of, where it is said, That upon the raising of the witnesses, and their having a Spirit of life from God put into them, and their standing upon their feet, A tenth part of the city fell. And it also appears, That England being that tenth part of the city, is fallen from mystical Babylon, and is no longer a part of it, but is overcome by the Lord Jesus, he is now King of it, who is King of kings, and Lord of Lord's, who will keep it for himself, and will not suffer it to be subjected to the Beast any more: The Saints in England are brought out of the bondage of mystical Babylon, and shall return no more to it, and therefore they may be confident, That none of the Romish power, of any of the other nine kingdoms, neither those that are more remote, or those that are nearer neighbours to it, shall ever be able to prevail over England.
Thirdly, The third ground of my affirming that the Parliament, army and witnesses in England, shall hence-forth overcome all the enemies that shall rise up against them, is evident also in Scripture: for it appears also in the explicatory part of this discourse, That the one thousand two hundred and threescore days, in which it is said in this Scripture, That the holy city should be trodden under foot, and that the witnesses should be in sack-cloth, by reason of the Gentiles, the spiritual Babylonians tyrannizing over them, is one thousand two hundred and threescore years, and did expire, Anno Domini 1645. as appears by computing the time of the Beast's continuance (as it ought to be computed) by the Scripture account: And also, this one thousand two hundred and threescore years of the Beast's continuance, appears to be then expired, because it is said, That when the witnesses had finished their prophecy in sack-cloth, that then the Beast should make war with them, and overcome them. Now the Beast having made war against them, and overcome them, and they being raised again, and set upon their feet, to the fear of their enemies, in the year, one thousand six hundred forty and five. It is by this evident, that that year, the one thousand two hundred and threescore years, wherein the holy city, the Saints should be trodden under feet by the Beast, did expire. And now you witnesses in the Parliament, and Parliamentary Army, and kingdom of England, may be confident, that all the combined power, both of men and devils, which shall conspire against you, shall never be able to prevail against you; for you shall be trodden under foot no more, the Beast shall prevail over you no more; for the time of his prevailing over you is expired, and he must hence-forth be trodden under foot himself, and you must henceforth prevail over him, and you must reward great Babylon, as she hath rewarded you; the Cup which she hath filled, you must go on to fill to her double.
Now in these considerations, and from these grounds, held forth in the Word of Truth, the Scripture, and that part of it in this book of the Revelation, which Revelation God gave unto his Son Jesus Christ, to show unto his servants. Let all the Saints in England be strong, and of a good courage, and fear not what man can do unto them. Let not the heart of any one Saint be troubled, fearing that either Popery, Prelacy, or Presbytery shall recover any power in England, to Lord it over God's heritage, to tyrannize over the witnesses of Jesus Christ, or to restrain them from walking in that way, which appears to them to be according to the mind of God. But Saints, be you assured it shall never be, since you have a Spirit of life from God put upon you; and since England is fallen from Babylon, and since the time of the Beast's tyrannical power over you, is expired, therefore cast off all unbelieving thoughts, and all distrustful fears of these things; and be confident, That Jesus Christ will by you, go on conquering, and to conquer. And what though a great Army should be a preparing to overcome you, as there was in July, one thousand six hundred and forty seven? Yet as then, they were soon blasted, so they shall be for the future: For you have a Spirit of life and courage from God put into you; therefore men shall not prevail over you. And you are no more a part of Babylon, therefore you cannot be kept in bondage, and the time of your being trodden under foot is expired: and therefore though all the malignants in this kingdom, and in Scotland, and all those foreign Forces, that those factors of Rome, that are gone from England into France, or else-where, can possibly procure, were conjoined together in one body, and marching against you; yet should not your hearts be troubled, nor be afraid, but be assured they should be overcome by you: And what though you seem to be small in number? You know that God hath formerly commanded others to stand for you, and can do so still, if it be consonant to his wisdom now also; but if it were not so, it were an evil in you to distrust his power, to whom it is all one to save by few, or by many; For victory cometh not from the strength of horses, or the legs of men, but from the Lord of hosts.
And therefore upon these grounds, let all the witnesses of England, be confident of overcoming all that shall rise up against them, by the strength of the Lord of hosts their God. And having experience that God hath done thus for them ever hitherto, since one thousand six hundred and forty five, let them not be of such unworthy spirits, as to be distrustful for the future.
The last particular that I shall hence observe, is, To stir up the hearts of Saints to joyfulness and praises. O Saints considering what God hath done for you, seeing he hath put a Spirit of life upon you, and hath made you that lay dead to stand upon your feet; And seeing that England is fallen from mystical Babylon; and that now your enemy the Beast shall have no more power over you, he that hath trodden you under feet a thousand two hundred and threescore years, shall tread you under foot no more; and that now your time of prophesying in sack-cloth is expired: Put you now on, instead of your sack-cloth, the garments of joy and praise, and walk no longer sadly, being delivered out of the bondage of spiritual Egypt, and from the oppression of your enemies; let your hearts be affected herewith, and your souls rejoice in the apprehension of it. For suppose that when you were under that bondage, so that you were driven into corners, and your enemies hunted after you to make a prey of you, and having taken some of you, did imprison some, and fine others, and banish others, and pillory others: if one should then have come into your meetings, and told you as an infallible truth, That within one month your enemies should be brought down, and tyrannize no longer over you, but you should be set at liberty to worship the Lord Jesus, in that way which he should discover to you, to be most agreeable to his own mind. How would your spirits at the apprehension hereof, have been filled with joy? Your joy would have been such, as would have been beyond expression. O let your joy be now no less, since this is actually done; and especially having assurance that you shall be brought under bondage no more: but let your hearts leap and sing for joy! And in your joy let the high praises of God be in your mouths, and let him be exalted in your spirits. O be frequent in offering up the sacrifices of praises, in the secrets of your spirits unto your God, that hath done such things for you! I will extol thee, O Lord (saith David) for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me. This is now the case of all the Saints in England. The Lord hath lifted them up, and doth not suffer their foes to rejoice over them. O that with that sweet singer of Israel, they might extoll the Lord their God in it, and for it; for Praise is comely, saith that holy man, For the upright (Psal. 33. 1.) And it is a good thing (saith he) to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto the name of the most High, and to show forth his loving kindness in the morning, and his faithfulness in the nights, Psal. 92. 1, 2. Let Saints therefore be much in this comely, good and pleasant work of praise; and improve all opportunities to exercise themselves in this work. Let them sing praises unto the most High in the morning, and show forth his loving kindness and faithfulness in the nights. Though others forget God, and he is not in all their thoughts, and they do not remember the great things he doth for his people, yet let him be much in the thoughts of his Saints, yea much in their thoughts to praise him for his benefits. And let them say within themselves; Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. O let them not forget to praise him for what he did for them, in the year, 1645. but let them register in their hearts, the particular acts of the great things he then did for them: and let them not forget, what he did do for them in July 1647. Let them not suffer these things to slip out of their mind, but let them call to mind how frequent and importunate they were with God in prayer, for to obtain these mercies for themselves, and for the kingdom: and having now attained them, let them be as frequent, and as ready to praise him, Call upon me, saith God, in the day of trouble, and I will hear thee, and thou shalt glorify me, Psal. 50. 15. O now, you that called upon God in the day of trouble, and were heard: be you much in that heavenly and angelical work of glorifying God! Let all that love the Lord in England, remember that it is the duty, as well as the privilege of those that have got the victory over the Beast, to sing a song of praises, unto him that fits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever, Revel. 15. 3. And since they are the persons, that have now got the victory over the Beast: Let them with enlarged hearts, sing that new song of praise, and let not doubtful, nor distrustful thoughts of the power and faithfulness of God for the future in the least measure sad their spirits, or keep back their praises: but let the voice of joy and praise be heard in the tabernacles of the righteous in England: for the right hand of the Lord is exalted, the right hand of the Lord hath done valiantly for them, and they shall not die but live, and declare the works of the LORD, Psal. 118. 15, 16, 17.
IT being so, that (since my finishing of this discourse) there are some further mutations in these kingdoms, which may seem to give to some some ground to question that which I have here asserted, viz. That the witnesses are slain by the Beast, and that (according to this prophecy) after they had lain dead three years and an half, they are risen and do stand upon their feet: If this be so, may someone say, then how cometh it to pass, that there is such a probability that the enemies of the Saints shall again get ground of them, and bring them again into a low condition? For Inchiquin in Ireland, and Poyer in Wales, and a great party in Scotland do seem to act afresh for the Beast, and do expressly declare against the witnesses under the titles of Independents and Sectaries, &c. but if the witnesses were indeed slain and raised, then undoubtedly they should indeed go on conquering and overcoming the Beast, and the Beast should no more recover power over them, to put them into a distressed condition; for then the days of their prophesying in sack-cloth, in sad and sable garments is expired: But how can it be said to be so, since the Beast seems in a probable way of recovering power over them again?
Now that this seeming ground of fear may be removed, I shall lay down these three considerations.
First, That though the Beast shall no more prevail over the witnesses to bring them down, yet he may and must endeavour to oppose the witnesses, and again to make war against them that they may bring him down: for now that the time of his prevalency over the Saints is expired, he must not long continue in his present station; but as he shall not go higher, so he shall go lower, yea he shall come down wonderfully, and how shall that be but by his opposing the Saints, who shall be as a burden some stone, and all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces? And therefore the more we see that that the accomplices of the Beast do endeavour to oppose the Saints, the nearer we may conclude that he and they are to their ruin; and therefore their risings and stirrings should be rather encouragements then discouragements unto the Saints. But
Secondly, That the witnesses are indeed slain and risen, and do stand upon their feet, is altogether unquestionable, because (as appears by the fore-going discourse) this prophecy of the slaying of the witnesses, and of their rising, &c. is in every particular iota and tittle of it most exactly accomplished, I will not here recapitulate any of the particulars, but refer the Reader to the fore-going discourse, but shall here only desire the Reader to consider of this one in a more especial manner, viz. That the holy Ghost expressly declares, that the falling of a tenth part of the city should immediately follow the witnesses, standing upon their feet, and be in the same hour with it as an effect of it. Now that a tenth part of the city (particularly the kingdom of England) is fallen from the mystical Babylon, that is to say, from being a place of bondage to the Saints is most evident, and therefore it is undeniable, That the witnesses are slain and risen.
Thirdly, It is no wonder that the witnesses being raised, and having a spirit of life from God put upon them, that the Beast doth endeavour to oppose them; for that spirit of vigour and courage that is put upon them, is to be exercised and actuated, and they must go on in it to give that scarlet Whore blood to drink, and to reward her, as she hath rewarded them, and of the cup which she hath filled to them to fill to her double: for the Saints are those Armies in heaven, which are said to follow him that is faithful and true, and in righteousness doth judge, and make war, who is clothed with a vesture dipped in blood, and whose name is called the Word of God, when he cometh to make a final end of the Beast, and the false prophet, and them that worship his image, and to cast them a live into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. Now that the Saints may be actual instruments, not only of beginning to ruin the Beast, but of the total ruining of the Beast: it is no wonder that he endeavours again to recover strength against them; and therefore when the Dragon and his Angels (the Beast and his imps) do fight against Michael and his Angels (Jesus Christ and his Saints) it is said that they prevailed not (that is after the witnesses were risen to oppose the Saints) but were cast out, and that was the shortest way they could take to be overcome, and to be cast out, even their opposing Jesus Christ, and his Saints, which have a spirit of life from God put upon them. Thus much for the removing of that doubt.
Now that I may not be mistaken, I shall here add a caution, and so conclude: It is this,
I desire it may be observed, That though I have particularly (in this discourse) mentioned the Parliament and the army (having good ground so to do from what they have done, and have been instruments of already) encouraging them to go on in opposing the Beast, and his adherents, and defending the witnesses of Jesus Christ, assuring them of success in their undertakings, yet it is upon no other grounds, then as they shall so go on; but if they shall turn aside, and aim more at corrupt and self ends then at the promoting of justice and righteousness, then at the public good of the kingdom, then enlargements shall come for the Saints, and they being delivered from the rage of the Beast, shall be preserved wholly from his fury some other way, and by some other means, when corrupt persons may perish in carrying on of corrupt designs, but I hope (and have persuasions of) better things of those Worthies, even that as God hath begun, so he will go on to grant them the honour, and the happiness still to remain glorious instruments in his hand, of setting up his King upon his holy hill of Sion, and subjecting these nations unto his royal sceptre, that judgement may run down among us as water, and righteousness as a mighty stream.