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of the second woe shall have nearly expired, and when, on the other hand, they shall have finished their testimony.
Of these two notations, a comparative discussion will, if I mistake not, sufficiently determine the time appointed for the slaughter of the two wit
Let us begin with the first of the two notations, which have been afforded to us by the terms of the prophecy.
From this notation we learn, that the witnesses are slain very shortly before the expiration of the second woe. Hence it is evident, that, if we can ascertain the time when the second woe passes away, we shall have made a very close approximation to the time when the two witnesses are slain.
With respect, then, to the second woe, all our best commentators agree, that it is the woe brought upon Christendom by the Turks. Hence it will follow, that, very shortly before the Turks cease to be a woe to the Roman Empire, the two witnesses are to be slain and to lie dead and to revive and to ascend to the figurative heaven. But the woe of the Turcomannic horsemen commenced, when the four angels were let loose upon the Eastern Empire: and its duration is limited to the term of a prophetic day and month and year or to the term of 396 natural years and 3 months. The four angels, however, were let loose in the summer of the year 1301. Therefore the woe of the Turcomannic horsemen
passed away in the autumn of the year 1697. Ac
cordingly, as the voice of history bears witness, ever since the battle of Zenta which was fought at this precise epoch, the Turks have become weaker and weaker and, instead of being any longer a marked and terrible woe which threatened the subjugation of all Christendom, they now feebly exist as á Power, at the sole will of their formidable neighbours'. Hence, as the second woe passed away in the year 1697, the slaughter of the two witnesses must have occurred almost immediately before that year: but, at all events, it cannot have occurred after it.
We may now proceed to the second of the two notations, from which we are taught to determine the chronological epoch of the slaughter of the two witnesses.
This second notation informs us, that the witnesses are to be slain, not only immediately before the passing away of the second woe, but likewise when they shall have finished their testimony.
Commentators, I believe, have generally supposed, that the testimony of the two witnesses is the same thing as their prophesying in sackcloth. But, as such an opinion is in itself untenable; so, if I mistake not, it renders any consistent chronological arrangement of the slaughter of the two witnesses altogether impossible".
'See above book iv. chap. 7. § II. 5.
The slaughter of the two witnesses must inevitably be placed, either before, or after, the expiration of the latter 1260 years.
That the testimony of the two witnesses cannot
I. Now, if we identify the testimony of the two witnesses. with their prophesying in sackcloth, we shall find it impossible, consistently with the terms of the oracle, to place their slaughter, either before the expiration of the latter 1260 years, or after their expiration.
1. According to the common scheme of identification, the witnesses bear their testimony, OR prophesy in sackcloth, throughout the entire period of the 1260 years. Therefore they cannot have finished their testimony, until the 1260 years shall have expired. Consequently, since they are not slain until they have finished their testimony, they cannot be slain before the expiration, but must be slain after the expiration, of the 1260 years.
2. Yet the witnesses are described, as being slain anterior to the passing away of the second woe: and the second woe indisputably and confessedly passes away, before the 1260 years expire. Therefore, according to this view of the question, the witnesses cannot be slain after the expiration, but must be slain before the expiration, of the 1260 years.
II. Thus we see, that the scheme of identifying the testimony of the witnesses with their prophesying in sackcloth brings out two directly opposite results. But two opposite results mutually destroy each other. Therefore, on such a scheme, it is impossible, consistently with the terms of the oracle, to place the slaughter of the witnesses, either before the expiration of the 1260 years, or after their expiration.
III. To exemplify this contradictoriness, we may note the arrangement adopted by Mr. Mede.
That great commentator, perceiving that the slaughter of the witnesses must, according to the tenor of the vision, be placed before the expiration of the 1260 years, because it is said to occur before the passing away of the second woe: perceiving this, that great commentator readily determined such to be its proper chronological position.
But, then, he also perceived, that, according to the natural
be the same as their prophesying in sackcloth, I prove in manner following.
and obvious rendering of the Greek, the witnesses are not slain," until they have finished their testimony: and their testimony he identified with their sackcloth-prophesying; which sackclothprophesying is not finished, until the expiration of the 1260 years.
Pressed with this difficulty, he would, for the purpose of obviating it, render the original Greek, not When they shall have FINISHED their testimony, but When they shall be ABOUT TO FINISH their testimony: and, by this expedient, he would enable himself to place the slaughter of the witnesses before the expiration of the 1260 years; where, according to the tenor of the vision, it ought to be placed.
1. But the expedient before us serves only to make confusion still worse confounded.
For, in the first place, such a version is grammatically untenable because the Greek is incapable of being rendered, When they shall be ABOUT TO FINISH their testimony.
And, in the second place, even if it were tenable, Mr. Mede would still have found it impossible to avoid a direct contradiction: for he placed, agreeably to his proposed translation, the slaughter of the witnesses before they have finished their testimony; whereas, if their testimony and their sackcloth-prophesying be identical, they cannot be slain until after they have finished their testimony, because otherwise they will not prophesy in sackcloth during the whole period of the 1260 years, which yet they are expressly declared to do.
2. The whole of this inextricable perplexity arises from the common error of identifying the testimony of the two witnesses with their prophesying in sackcloth: and this same error, no doubt, has given rise to that untenable translation of the Greek original, by which Mr. Mede would solve a difficulty that meets him at the very outset; for, except in order to serve a turn, I will venture to say, that no person would ever have thought of rendering the Greek "Οταν τελέσωσι τὴν μαρτυρίαν αὐτῶν by the English When they shall be about to finish their testimony.
The two witnesses prophesy in sackcloth during the whole term of the latter 1260 years1. Consequently, the latter 1260 years and the sackclothprophesying expire synchronically. But the two witnesses are slain before the expiration of the latter 1260 years for they are slain before the passing away of the second woe: and, as all commentators agree and as is fully manifest from the internal evidence afforded by the very texture of the Apocalypse itself, the latter 1260 years do not expire until after the passing away of the second woe3. They are, however, also slain, when they have finished their testimony. Therefore, since they are slain before the expiration of the latter 1260 years, and since they are likewise slain when they have finished their testimony; their testimony must, doubtless, be finished, before the expiration of the latter 1260 years. But their sackcloth-prophesying does not terminate until the latter 1260 years expire: for the sackcloth-prophesying and the latter 1260 years are throughout strictly synchronical. Therefore, since the testimony of the two witnesses is finished before the expiration of the latter 1260 years, and
1 Rev. xi. 3.
Rev. xi. 7, 14.
• The second woe passes away before the coming of the third Rev. xi. 14. But, as all commentators with abundantly sufficient reason agree, the latter 1260 years expire some time in the course of the third woe. See above, book ii. chap. 4. § I. 2. II. 2. Therefore they expire after the passing away of the second woe.