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On the whole, I think, we may safely assert, that the Manichèism, alleged by their calumniators against the Vallenses and the Albigenses, rests upon the same interested and prejudiced evidence as the various unutterable abominations which were alleged by the Pagans against the primitive Christians. In each case, the sole testimony is that of enemies. Happily, however, this testimony is completely set aside, partly by the existing Confessions of those ancient witnesses to the truth, and partly by the acknowledgment of certain of their very enemies themselves.
5. We have now discovered two Churches, which, from the very commencement of the latter 1260 years down even to the present day, have stood in avowed and uncompromising opposition to the great Apostasy it only remains to inquire, whether the prophetic character of the two witnesses will answer to the character of the two Churches.
(1.) The two witnesses are the two olive-trees and the two candlesticks, which stand before the God of the earth.
of whom the Manichèans were a branch, had the rare merit, through the agency of Marcus, of giving, I believe, the very earliest hint of the doctrine of Transubstantiation: and the same speculatists were also in the habit of worshipping, with devotion no less strenuous than that of the most orthodox Romanist, both pictures and images of Christ, which, somewhat unaccountably, were said to have been manufactured by Pontius Pilate. For these curious facts, see Iren. adv. hær. lib. i. c. 9. lib. i. c. 24. § 9. Epiph. adv. hær. lib. i. hær. 23.
As the symbols of the two witnesses were stationed in the precincts of the literal temple, they of course stood before the Lord whose visible presence was wont to be displayed between the Cherubim. Hence, as the two witnesses themselves are similarly stationed in the precincts of the mystic temple, they also of course stand in the immediate presence of the Lord of the temple.
- Such imagery is doubtless employed to teach us, that the two witnessing Churches should be safe under the special protection of the Almighty: and the remarkable preservation of the Vallenses and the Albigenses, notwithstanding the various attempts to extirpate them, shews the exactness with which they have fulfilled this part of the prophecy.
(2.) The two witnesses are said to prophesy during the allotted term of their ministration.
In the New Testament, the word prophesying is frequently used as a mere synonymn of preaching or expounding the Scripture'. Hence the prophesying of the two witnesses does not mean the predicting of future events; a faculty, which the two testifying Churches neither claimed nor possessed but it simply means a discharge of the
See 1 Corinth. xiv. xi. 4, 5. 1 Thess. v. 20. Rom. xii. 6. Acts ii. 14-37. iii. 18. iv. 10-13, 25-28. vii. 2-54. xxiv. 14. xxvi. 6—27. xxviii. 23. Luke xxiv. 25—27, 44–46. The use of the word in this sense probably originated from the frequent appeals made by the primitive teachers to the prophets who had prophesied of Christ.
Christian ministry by faithfully preaching the sincere doctrines of the Gospel.
Yet certainly, from the peculiar manner in which this characteristic is specified, we are led to expect, that their prophesying would be conducted upon a scale of great extensiveness; so that, in the midst of a dark and corrupt age, whether men would hear or whether they would forbear, the Gospel should at least be very widely and very luminously presented to their attention.
The whole of the present characteristic, even in its largest interpretation, eminently belongs to the Vallenses and the Albigenses. Not content with faithfully setting forth the pure doctrines of Christianity to those who were situated within their own immediate geographical limits, they acted the part of zealous missionaries throughout the whole of Europe: their disciples abounded in Calabria, Spain, Germany, Bohemia, Moravia, and England: as the Council of Tours expresses it, their heresy diffused itself far and wide, after the manner of a cancer: and, as Reinerius complained in the thirteenth century, there was scarcely any country, in which they had not obtained a footing.
(3.) The two witnesses are described, not as prophesying simply, but as prophesying in sackcloth.
Such a garb very aptly represents their condition during the whole term of the latter 1260 years which has hitherto elapsed. Sackcloth is the scrip
tural emblem of sorrow and trouble: to prophesy in sackcloth, therefore, will be to preach the truths of the Gospel in a sorrowful and depressed condition.
This description of the ministry of the two Churches does not require us to suppose, that they should never cease to be in a state of direct and murderous persecution. Sometimes the sword of open violence might be drawn, and sometimes it might be sheathed: but still they should be locally so situated as inevitably to exercise their ministry in a depressed condition, slighted and despised and discouraged, when not absolutely attacked and worried, by the governing powers.
Accordingly, from the commencement of the latter 1260 years down to the present time, such has been the lot of the Vallensic and Albigensic Churches. In England, in Denmark, in Sweden, and in other parts of Christendom, various branches of the measured worshippers in the figurative temple have long since been exempted from what is styled prophesying in sackcloth: for, in those regions, so far are God's servants from being depressed and discouraged in the exercise of their religion, that they constitute the dominant ecclesiastical Power of the State. But the remains of the Vallenses and the Albigenses, subjected as those communions have always been to a popish sovereign, and existing as they have always done in immediate contiguity to a dominant tyrannical Church, have never ceased to
bear their testimony in the sackcloth garb of affliction and discouragement 1.
(4.) Yet, if any man will hurt the two witnesses, fire proceeds out of their mouth and devours their enemies.
This phraseology is borrowed from the language which God employs, when he speaks to the prophet Jeremiah. I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood: and it shall devour them 2. Hence, as the two Churches are exhibited in the character of two prophets, the borrowed phraseology must be explained by the language from which it has been borrowed. The import, therefore, of the present clause is, that the two witnesses, by applying the prophecies of Scripture to their persecutors, should denounce against them to the uttermost the predicted vengeance of the Almighty upon the irreclaimable adherents of the Apostasy: even as the words of the Lord, in the
One short respite, a brief exception from a general rule, they enjoyed under the government of Napoleon Buonapartè. Let that extraordinary man, to whom unhappily so much evil must be attributed, at least enjoy the just praise of one deed of justice and beneficence. Napoleon gave them equal civil rights: but the first act of the person, who was mainly restored to his ill-deserved throne by the arms of protestant England, was to throw them back to their ancient and familiar state of grinding oppression. As yet, the fated 1260 years have not expired: again therefore, in full accordance with the oracle, the united Vallensic and Albigensic Churches prophesy in sackcloth. 2 Jerem. v. 14.