An Examination of the statements made in the "Thoughts on the Apocalypse," by B. W. Newton; and an enquiry how far they accord with Scripture.

J. N. Darby.

<08001E> 123 File section  5.


I have not much to remark on here, not admitting that all the flock of Jesus are those who are come out of the great tribulation. It seems to me somewhat strange for the church to have a conversation about themselves, and describe themselves as a class of persons, explaining who they were. That very different symbols may represent; or that a symbol and that an historical statement may both be used of, the same persons, I fully admit; or that the Lord should present a man's history to himself in a parable: all this I conceive easily. But if the elders are the church (which I do not combat), and the great multitude is the whole church, too is it not somewhat extraordinary that they should thus, as one looking on, ask the seer, Who are these? when they were themselves? and then, when the latter referred it back to him as knowing, should give a special description of them, and what was to happen to them?

If they were a special and exceptional class, I could understand it, when those who as a body made up the twenty-four courses of priests, were already brought in in blessing. It would have to be explained, who they were, and whence they came; and their salvation, and no more, being ascribed to God on the throne and the Lamb, would answer to the character of those who would be delivered under the circumstances of this book - at any rate, of the greater part of them. And they sing no more than their own salvation and deliverance - nothing of the special blessedness and title of Christ, as the previous song did: and their blessing is all in contrast with previous trial and sorrow.

124 I am not prepared to recognise a cry, not unheeded without intercession, and answered when intercession comes. "If we know that he hear us, we know that we have the petitions." And it seems to militate against the force of "I say not that I will pray the Father for you: for the Father himself loveth you." If then saints below were the church, and this book takes the ground of the church, this statement can hardly be true.

The note, also, I believe to be a mistake as to the "right translation." I think it will be found that didomi is used in the Revelation in a peculiar manner, signifying 'give efficacy to something already subsisting.' Thus, in chapter 11:3, which is exactly the same form, 'I will give [power, or efficacy] to my two witnesses.' So here, 'that He might give [efficacy] to the prayers of the saints.' However, this is not of much moment.

To the rest of the statements I demur also. First, there is nothing particular stated, as to Israel, in the first trumpets. There is more reason for it in the woe trumpets - at any rate in the first, so that there I leave the remark uncommented upon. But smiting earth, seas, fountains, rivers, heavens, if taken really and literally, as is supposed here by the author, must surely be more than Israel, and not Israel particularly. Besides, Tyre and Babylon are not Israel; so that page 104 and the first note do not agree.

The author says these several parts of nature will be literally smitten* (page 112): but it is rather a loose way of getting over it to say "when the sea shall cease to supply its riches," when it is said "the third part became blood"; and of what sea, if literal? And how does a great star fall literally from heaven, its name being Wormwood, so that a third part of the waters became (literally?) wormwood? And think of the key of the bottomless pit being literally given to a star falling down upon the earth! And what then is the description of the locusts that came out of the bottomless pit? - is this literal too? And if not, why suddenly draw a line, because the absurdity becomes too palpable? And why, if a third part of the sun was literally smitten, should the day not shine for a third part of it? It is easy just to pass over all this by talking of "waters changing their refreshment into bitterness, and the heavens in their revolution beginning to minister darkness instead of light." But then for a literal explanation, we should have something more precise. Nor am I aware why it should apply to Israel.

{*If all this judgment goes on, how comes it that all is so resplendent and full of comfort during the reign of Antichrist, as is alleged?}

125 It is a still stranger comment to say that these locust powers of darkness wore chaplets the same as on the head of the Lord Jesus: "for the commission of Apollyon is equally from God." How is a chaplet the sign of a commission from God? and what shewed it in the rider of the white horse? And are those who come out of the bottomless pit crowned the same as Christ, because they have equally a commission? I have already noticed in its place the inconsistency of explaining the men's faces here ("the same characteristic we find in the cherubim") as marking "wisdom and sagacity" - when, in explaining it in the cherubim, it was declared not to mean it (page 55). And why woman's hair signifies joy would be hard to tell. That a woman's shaving her head may signify grief (being a shame, and her ornament gone) I understand; but why a man putting on woman's hair should be joy, is, I confess, beyond me. I am not prepared to combat it, because I am not clear about the point myself.

Nor do I admit the two witnesses to be during the last three years and a half.* But how if they are (and they are introduced during the sixth trumpet, or second woe, which closes after the end of their history) does the author bring the first five trumpets into the three years and a half, which three years and a half are occupied in his system with the witnesses who are found in the sixth, and not till then? I put this not as an objection, but as a difficulty that requires solution.

{*My present thought [1868] is that there is only one half-week in the defined periods of the Revelation. I confess I have been surprised at the clearness of these pages; and have a deeper sense of the evil of the author's system than ever I had before. The guarded enquiry here has comforted me, as not going beyond assured ground at the time [1844-5].}

As to the note (page 112) on the Jews, it is a thought long since promulgated - the gradual breaking down of the Jews, and their sanctifying by the gradual progress of morally unbearable evil. But if "humbled," "thoroughly broken (conscious of the truth respecting the past, and correctly anticipating the future" and that by the testimony of God), surely they are converted. And it cannot be said that they were like John's disciples, and that there was no testimony of Jesus when Christianity was withdrawn; because John's was decidedly a testimony of Jesus. And if they were conscious of the truth respecting the past, what was that about? Was there no Jesus in that past? Were they not believers that Jesus was the Christ, and yet not in a church standing? And, if they are servants of God in Isaiah, they love His name and take hold of His covenant; and say in Psalm 80, "Let thy hand be on the son of man," etc. (See Isaiah 56 and Psalm 80.) "John's disciples before they were brought to Jesus" avoids the question. Was there no testimony to Jesus by John? These persons are converted and know that Jesus is the Christ, and are waiting for His appearing: and they are not the church. Let the reader note this.

126 I suppose the repentance of a person thoroughly broken through the testimony of God proves him converted; and this testimony was of Jesus rejected and coming. And is it not a strange thing to say that the Spirit of God has provided them with inspired expressions for their self-righteousness? That He prepares the utterance of the complaints of God's people, is true. That He prophetically declares by the Spirit what the wicked will do, putting it as a complaint in the mouth of Christ, as in Psalm 22 and 69 ("They wag their heads, and say," etc. "They gave me gall," etc.), or sometimes in that of a godly remnant, is true also. But can the Spirit of God prepare an abundance of touching appeals to God for self-righteousness, and sanction them by inspiring them beforehand? Is it not a monstrous supposition? Yet this is the theory of the writer, in order to make good his prophetic system and reconcile the Psalms with his theory of Israel's state. And if not, it all falls: for otherwise there is a remnant of Israel after the church is gone, converted and turned to God; and yet fed by Jewish hopes, and sustained by testimonies of the Spirit adapted to them. And there is recognised as of God on the earth what is not the church.

I have not much to say on the numbers: I think them mistaken, but immaterial. Seven and twelve are alone important. Seven is clearly wrong. Are seven devils rest? or seven heads on the dragon? or even seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth? or seven vials? or seven trumpets? It seems to me seven is used for completeness in spiritual things, twelve in human associations. But others can judge of this. Surely agency towards others in blessing is not specially the character of the heavenly city. I do trust we may get a little "rest" there; yet I do not remember any sevens in the city. There is agency, it is true; but is dwelling with God and the Lamb, where there is no temple, an inferior part of the blessing? The twelve loaves of show-bread, what agency had they? Twelve stones set up by Joshua as a memorial? The twelve tribes of Israel, even, what agency had they?

127 Is it not rather a singular thing (if seven means rest, and twelve agency) that all that part of the Revelation which describes the actings, whether of Satan in mischief or of God in judgment, is identified with the number seven, and the result in the city of glory with the number twelve?

I believe the one hundred and forty-four thousand of chapter 7 are distinct from the one hundred and forty-four thousand of chapter 14; but I do not believe the second a heavenly company.

And why in the next note does the fact of a multitude coming out of all nations, and the elders and cherubim also coming out of them (assuming them so to do) prove they are the same body? And what proof is there that the one hundred and forty-four thousand of chapter 14 come out of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues? There is absolutely none.

As to the instruments of action: why, if all be literal, is blood a symbol? All this description of agents assumes the statements of the chapter which we have considered (and which seem to me quite untenable), or they are mere fancy. But I do not feel they involve any principle so as to discuss them at length. But as to the stars (page 115), "the third of these divisions" (where is all this found?) - "they are continually employed to represent the saints in their resurrection glory." Where? This is all a preparation (as we shall find) for statements elsewhere founded on it as if it were a truth; but would it not be better to adduce one passage as a proof than to say "they are continually employed"? Believing stars to be inferior authorities, I admit they may clearly be employed to denote the millennial state of the saints; and of course it win be unearthly and superhuman then. But I demur altogether to the general statement. Here too we have a most easy way of getting out of the difficulty of interpreting the terms used in the trumpets: "I doubt not that the waters, and all that they symbolise, will be found bitter." This saves all difficulty certainly; and you can hardly be wrong, at any rate, but by excess. But then how is it consistent with the note in page 112, which seems to shut totally out "all that they symbolise"? There they are literally smitten, and do not mean spiritual blessings. "The gifts of God in creation, and the artificial constructions of man," are the things judged.

128 However, to pass on. Who says that the host of the high ones on high, and the great ones of the earth, are punished together? Scripture does not: for it is said, "the host of the high ones [that are] on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth." So that it is not together; for the high ones are punished on high (if these be taken for spiritual wickednesses, which I do not combat), and the kings of the earth on the earth.

As to time, "it comes to pass in that day"; but this proves no identity. The whole chapter (Isaiah 24) speaks of a certain period, as in many other places. Chapters 25 to 27 are all "in that day" also; and the four chapters clearly represent a series of events - the wasting and desolation of the earth, continuing some time - the resurrection - the full blessing of Israel - and the judgment of Satan, and the gathering in all the outcasts from every quarter, one by one - all "in that day." So, in chapter 7, "that day" is clearly used for a continuous time, characterised, however, by the same event or its consequences.

But when the author says, "the expulsion of Satan from the presence of God in heaven (see chap. 12) is carefully to be distinguished from the possession of the authority of the air," it is really pushing the slighting of scripture for a system too far. Why is it to be carefully distinguished? On what scripture is this founded? The prince of the power of the air is the spirit that now worketh; and the expression is found in the Ephesians, where the evil spirits are called "spiritual wickedness in heavenly places," where our blessings are said to be, and where we are said to sit. Now in Revelation 12 we read, "There was war in heaven; Michael the archangel fought, and his angels; and the dragon (who dragged with his tail the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them to earth) fought, and his angels; and prevailed not, nor was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out … he was cast out into the earth," etc. Hence they cry in heaven, "The accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down to you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth," etc. Now, is not his casting entirely out of heaven and down to the earth, so that his place was not found any more in heaven, identified with his being no more before our God - the latter being celebrated, because the former was accomplished? Just as the Epistle to the Ephesians, where he is called prince of the power of the air in connection with his worldly power, is the only place where he is said to be in heavenly places where our blessings are. And how, if cast from heaven to earth, was he still the prince of the power of the air?

129 I leave the other two notes; though they seem to me, one very unwarranted (certainly it is not yet proved that Babylon and the Euphrates are to be the world's centre), and the other most strange. It is strange to say the blue flame of the pit, or of burning brimstone, is a result of the same holiness of God as the blue of heaven: specially when there was no smoke which darkened the sun, and no flame at all; and the blue that was found here was of breastplates on the demons. I suppose this was not the holiness of God, nor much to do with it, nor with the flame of brimstone either, that I know of It is all summed up in one word - imagination. Blue is in heaven - blue is in brimstone - blue was in the priestly robes - and blue was on the breastplates of demons.

The distinction between Satan's possession of the authority of the air, and his being in the presence of God, is made because the system needed it; for this reason - it was determined to keep the church properly speaking on earth till the end. Now, it is certain that Satan is cast down from heaven three years and a half before this: and therefore, if there was not such a distinction made, it would be impossible to consider the church as in its original condition. The whole scene of its existence being totally changed spiritually, and it called upon to rejoice because it was so, its spiritual combats would have ceased, viewed (as the Ephesians view it) as inhabiting heaven, and as Revelation 11 does view this class of saints, calling on them to rejoice because the kingdom and salvation were come as to heaven. But then this upsets all the system; and therefore this distinction is introduced here, and left to have its force without any explanation or any proof.

130 As to the "Thoughts" on chapters 10 and 11, I have already discussed the order. I only recall that the close of the little book of chapter 10 is clearly connected in order of time with what precedes: for the sixth trumpet is declared to close after it finishes; and then comes the seventh of these trumpets, which come in succession; while the announcement of the angel who gives the book refers to the seventh trumpet, which clearly closes everything, though its contents be not given as such. Chapter 12 begins, after this, quite a new subject, not embraced in the trumpets, but connected with the episode of the little book (through the allusion to the beast who slays the witnesses) introduced there to find its place in the general and comprehensive order of the trumpets, which embrace the whole series of judgments historically; though the grand moral evil of the latter day must be brought out in its sources, character, and judgment, distinctly.

I believe a part "immediately precedes," then, and a part not, the time of the Lord's power. This is a very fair subject for enquiry. I think I shall shew that there are untenable statements; but I can readily allow for this kind of error, as such as we may all fall into, though it be right to shew it.

In page 113, there is a statement which is unallowable, because it is based on the system the writer is pleased to maintain in direct contravention of the scripture. "Drunk (he says) with the wine first mingled by the harlot, and finally ministered through the beast." Now, this is altering Scripture, not interpreting it. Where is the wine said to be ministered through the beast? "She," Babylon, "made all nations drink of the wine" (chap. 14:8). She had the "golden cup in her hand." They were "drunk with the wine of her fornication" (chap. 17:2, 4). So chapter 18:3. She "corrupted the earth" (chap. 19:2). Nor do I find a trace of anything else. But here Scripture, on a very material point (namely, who and what is to be watched against as rendering men morally and spiritually drunk), is altered and set aside; because the system of the author sets the ruling power of Babylon aside as a system at the beginning of the three years and a half, and transfers all activity to the beast, and therefore puts the cup in its hand. But is this right?

131 As to the presence of Christ asserting His title to all (earth and sea) here below, and announcing the closing of the mystery of God, I have only to remark that, as to the time particularly noticed in the little book, the church has not, according to the author, "to watch, testify, and endure, many days." I suppose we must consider the three years and a half of the witnesses the special object or period presented in that which was before this mighty angel, as it was the period contained in the little book He gave, of which the knowledge is "so easy to be grasped." But during this period, according to the author, the scene of the church's earthly service is closed. So that it certainly had not to testify. Hence the light of this vision cannot shine upon its service as to the period spoken of in the vision. And yet this is not to my mind the saddest part of this statement. It is its consistency, not its inconsistency. Earthly deliverance, an earthly power of Christ, is that which is always presented as the hope and relief of the church. His title in the world is the object here. I agree in this. But is it in the strength of this knowledge that the church has to watch, testify, and endure? That earthly deliverance and Christ's earthly power should be Israel's hope, or the remnant's hope, rightly or wrongly apprehended, I well conceive; but is this the church's strength? Rest with apostles and prophets, being caught up to be for ever with the Lord - I should have thought to have been more the coming hour, and that knowledge, the strength of which would have taught the church to endure and to testify. The church does know that God shall destroy those that destroy the earth; and it is a relief to the oppressed spirit. But in this it knows that the earth is waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God - for that part of the deliverance at least which can be accomplished while earth remains. Its hope and faith surely precedes, and rises higher than all this, in being with Him who shall accomplish it, though it own the other.

I have only to add that pages 120, 121, just follow on in this train. This is our future glory together with the Lord, and the sorrow of the Lord was only sorrowful testimony, and testimony, prophetic testimony, against peoples, etc. Is this the sum or nature of His highest and deepest sorrow? Is testimony against the world our* proper place, or testimony to sinners of His and the Father's love? I understand well the place taken, sons being made servants, and the church made prophet of, instead of the bearer and witness of, grace to the Gentile world. This was what made, we found before,** the only efficient practical testimony in the earth; the Gentiles were to be viewed as beasts under God's judgment, and it was having these things clear that gave the testimony power! Was it Paul's testimony in preaching, or was the gospel of the grace of God? I appeal to the word, and call upon the conscience of my reader to answer. That he instructed the church in these things, according to its need, is true. That he told generally that there was a judgment of this world at Christ's coming, is also true; but was that which he presented grace and salvation, or not? Is the gospel and heavenly glory to be given up for prophecy of earthly deliverance as the hope and strength of the church? Is our sorrow to come from testifying against people? The prophetic judgments of God I admit. It is well known I have taught, and that far and wide, these judgments. But the hope of the church is another hope, and the sorrow of the church and of the Saviour is another sorrow. Besides, whatever sorrow may accompany the testimony, the coming of the things themselves is to cause joy in the hearts of those who listen to the Lord. "When these things begin to come to pass, then lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh."

{*The witnesses may thus testify; but then the church's testimony is over.}

{**Pages 92, 93, of the "Thoughts."}

132 CHAPTER 11

We now come to an important chapter, with (as usual) an immensity assumed or implied. Some points may be noticed here, other statements can be examined when more enlarged upon. "Those cities are Babylon and Jerusalem." This implies that an earthly Babylon is one great centre of the world. Here it is contrasted with the earthly, not the heavenly, Jerusalem; in Revelation it is most certainly with the heavenly, whatever its own place may be. But I shall only remark here, that the mind, thus unconsciously accustomed to this idea, is accustomed to an unproved thing. The enquiry I reserve for its place.

Such an expression as "that miserable race who are about to re-people Jerusalem" cannot be too strongly animadverted upon. I appeal to every one familiar with Scripture, as to the manner in which the heart of God yearns over His people, wandering though they be: and if they are miserable through His judgments, taunts are not what become Gentiles, confessedly become wise in their own conceits. Their sins are plainly proved in Scripture, and wrath is come upon them to the uttermost: but they are dealt with there with the hand and the heart of God, not with the insults of men. Nor do I believe that the curse of man on those who are yet beloved for the father's sakes would be found in the mouth of one guided in his expressions by the Spirit of God. Does the Lord, when he states the fact here alluded to (which is not denied), use any expressions like "that miserable race"?* None ever.

{*Such is constantly the case with the author, and those in the system of the "Thoughts."}

133 But to turn to the substance of this chapter. We are told that the chapter "supplies us with the history of Jerusalem during the period which immediately preceded its final visitation by the Lord in glory." I have no complaint to make of such a statement (which is an opinion on an interesting subject of enquiry), but that it is not proved - a very material thing, of course, in such a statement. It is taken for granted, and we are told, "In reading this chapter, therefore, we must imagine Jerusalem," etc.

So we are told, "It would seem," "that Christians, and Christian testimony remain," previously to this period. But is this the right way of dealing with questions of the kind? The facts of Antichrist's* deceit and subsequent malice I believe to be true, and therefore need not enter on here. But as to the place of the witnesses in the order of events, I entirely demur. It is in vain to say, "scarcely terminate before the seventh angel sounds" … "this mystery of God will terminate and other scenes open"; because, according to the author, it ought to terminate without any "scarcely" at all. Besides, it is only in the days of the seventh angel who is about to sound, that the mystery of God shall be finished: and the seventh angel sounds a woe trumpet; and therefore it is not said "when he sounds," i.e., at that given time - woe is still on the inhabiters of earth after and by the sounding of the seventh trumpet. We shall see that the order stated by the author, and necessary to his system, is impossible and contradicts itself. It is attempted indeed to be slurred over by the words "scarcely terminate": but a moment's examination will shew the palpable contradictions in the statements made.

{*I doubt its being Antichrist's, though he may coalesce in it. It is the prince to come, the head (I suppose) of the revived Roman beast.}

134 I read (page 125), "when these servants of God shall have finished their testimony, the wickedness of earth will again, though for the last time, be allowed to lift up itself and prosper." Now this itself is not the testimony scarcely terminating when the mystery of God finishes, and other scenes open (see page 123), for the wickedness of earth will again lift up itself and prosper. But in the notes, the positive contrary of the statement in the text is proved (page 131). "Its being said that the Gentiles tread it down for the definite period of forty-two months, proves that they do not tread it down after this definite period is over. Consequently the sackcloth testimony of the witnesses and the times of the Gentiles, and therefore the reign of Antichrist, end simultaneously." How, then, when the servants of God shall have finished their testimony, will the wickedness of the earth again lift up its head and prosper? I should bring the passage of page 125, which is drawn from the plain text of the chapter, as demonstrative of the falseness of the position taken in the note, which is yet necessary to the author's system. But to give the simultaneous ending of the period as absolute and identical for both, in connection with a statement, that when one ended the other lifted up its head and prospered, is an excess of self-contradiction rare to find. Yet the writer well knew what he was about in thus identifying them; because, absurd as it is, his whole system falls if the termination of the witnesses' testimony and the reign of Antichrist be not synchronous; because this testimony of the witnesses being for the twelve hundred and sixty days, if it be not the last half week of Antichrist, we have then some previous half-week, during which a testimony - which is not the church, nor, according to him, Christianity (though it testify of Jesus among the Jews) - has been going on, which is closed (as he says, page 125) by the wickedness of the earth rising up again and prospering. Yet it is clear that the synchronous, simultaneous termination of the testimony of the witnesses, and the reign of Antichrist, is an absurdity on the face of it: because Antichrist it is that kills them - a most curious way of ending simultaneously. I know not what opinion the writer must have formed of his readers to make such a statement.

135 And not only so, but there is an earthquake after; and subsequently to this it is said "the third woe cometh quickly"; and then some time consequently after the seventh angel sounds, in whose days the mystery of God is finished. So that it is quite clear that the simultaneous ending of the testimony of the witnesses, and the reign of Antichrist, and this evil power of the Gentiles, is impossible, being contradicted by the express statements of the word, recognised in part (page 125), and hushed up in the word 'scarcely.' And in these remarks I have passed over the rather strange statement, that they testified as much dead as alive; stranger still when we remember that it is said (as quoted, page 125), "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." And yet, though they "have finished their testimony," and their enemies are rejoicing over them, these three days and a half are included in the period of their testimony.

But I have no need to insist upon this, seeing the evident untenableness of a statement which makes a simultaneous ending of two things, when one puts an end to the other, by his wicked power, and there are several subsequent events positively referred to before the close of the latter comes. Besides, is there any moral identity in the state of things? When the beast is given to make war, and overcome the saints, and to kill whoever did not worship him; and the power is given to the witnesses, that if any man would 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? I do not say that the beast will kill all actually; admit with the author, it need not be actually done as to all. But is a power to do so, and as is alleged from Daniel (though I do not agree with it) the saints delivered into the beast's hands, consistent with a power given to the witnesses of God against all that could touch or hurt them? Is this the same state of things? "Power from God for protection will visibly be granted them." "They cannot be overthrown, neither can their testimony be stayed." Is this the character of the period of the beast's power, "just at the very moment when he is exalted into the plenitude of his glorious power"? Is it the statement given in Scripture of the relationship of the beast and the saints?*

{*The reasoning as to the two periods ending simultaneously is perfectly put as regards the author's system; but I believe there is but the one (or last) half-week in the twelve hundred and sixty days and forty-two months. But it is a Jewish testimony. The beast can only blaspheme those who dwell in heaven. The times and laws are delivered into the hands of the beast in Daniel 7 (i.e., Jewish ordinances, not the saints). He wears them out, no doubt, but the great body escape into the wilderness, to a place prepared of God for them; and, in spite of the beast, God will maintain a testimony. When this is closed, however, the beast will slay the witnesses.

The beast, moreover, is not Antichrist, though helped by the latter. That he is, was at the time of writing these papers a commonly accepted idea. It does not affect this point, save as facilitating the solution of what is a real difficulty, suggested above as an objection to the author's system - how, if there be only one half week, the slaying all who do not worship him is consistent with the existence of the two witnesses. The preservation of the woman indeed shews that this effort of the beast or dragon to destroy all cannot pass the limits set to it by God. For the true Jewish worshippers as a body escape. So in chapter 11, the altar and temple, the true worshippers, are measured and owned of God; and it seems that a testimony also is preserved, two witnesses, or an adequate testimony to the God of the earth. The beast's power is general in chapter }3, over all dwellers in earth. Meanwhile, among the Jews, God preserves a testimony where only the second beast may be.

The two periods do not close simultaneously; but the beast's having power to continue forty-two months can hardly mean he continues in this character eighty-four. In this the author is right; but as to the nature of the testimony he is fundamentally wrong. The only change to be made in my argument is to apply it to the last half-week, not a previous one. For, whichever half-week it is, the testimony is not the church (according to the author himself), not Christianity The rest of the reply is all right. The reply is just, but the positive statements are not clear, though guarded; because the existence of two half-weeks is supposed possible; as (see the text above) the difficulty of another interpretation is urged. The difficulty is real; but it is no more than existed in the time of the Lord on earth (for I suppose the same period). Till His time was come no one could take Him; though the power of the beast, and apostate Jews, and Antichrist figuratively were there by anticipation. The positive truth I apprehend to be that, on the casting down of Satan to earth, the power of Christ's kingdom is so far set up; but this leaves three years and a half of the great rage of Satan, or the last half week - the time of the two beasts' characteristic power - the time when the sacrifice is taken away, and times and laws are delivered into the beast's hands.

The rapture of the saints is quite another matter. This is not the kingdom: we are taken to the Father's house (as in Luke 9 the kingdom was displayed on the mountain) - the church's heavenly place, in the entering into the bright cloud whence the Father's voice issues. As far as this is shewn in Revelation 12, it is in the taking up of the man-child.

I do not attach great importance to the question of one or two half-weeks; but I believe in the Revelation there is only one. In the first half the prince had favoured and deceived the Jews, but wickedly. But if so, the argument in page 213, beginning "nor does it seem to me," down to "inhabiters of earth," is without force. [Note to second edition, 1868.]}

136 And now I beg attention to the character of the witnesses' testimony. Christianity is withdrawn from Judah and Jerusalem. The statement that used to be made was, that there was not a Christian to be found in the Roman earth, and that the wheat (Matt. 13) represented risen saints in the earth, after their resurrection, and before their ascension. This, however, is now given up, and the matter stated very generally. (See page 143.) But at any rate it is withdrawn from Judah and Jerusalem. And the new character of testimony is this - "They will be able to speak of the law broken; of restoration granted, only to be forfeited again by aggravated transgression; of prophets sent to be rejected; of the Son of God slain, hanged on a tree; of the message of forgiveness through His blood despised, and now withdrawn; of the day of His glory with all its judgments being nigh, even at the doors," etc. Now have we not here, after the church is withdrawn, a testimony to Jesus by the Spirit of prophecy? and who are "my two witnesses," servants of Jesus as prophets? Is the testimony not to Jews, not at Jerusalem, not about Jewish hopes, and yet about Jesus, and Jesus slain, and Jesus to come - and yet altogether Jewish in every sense? And how then is it impossible that such a testimony can be without the foundations of Christianity being gone? And if the Lord Jesus has alluded to it, is this very wonderful? Or if He has left a door open, in what He has said, to the application of His words to it, when speaking of these very times, is this very wonderful? There may be more detail. It may require patient submission to the word to connect it all. But is it wonderful that, when speaking of Jerusalem in the latter days, he should allude to such a testimony as this? And what comes of statements made of their remaining a people rejecting all testimony until they see the Lord, and are converted by it?

137 But further, testimony (page 128) ceases on the earth (during the three days and a half). Where then is the church? But "the time has come for the Son to quit the throne of the Father," etc.; "and to be invested with the power which now is finally taken from the hands of man. The times of the Gentiles finish, and with them the mystery of God." This is really too bold; because after slaying the witnesses, and even after their receiving the Spirit of life from God, there is an earthquake, and very notable effects ensuing on it.* Then it is declared the third woe comes quickly; and, as we have seen, it is only in the days of this woe that the mystery of God is to be finished. In a word, the statements of the author are in direct contradiction of the plain text of scripture.

{*Effects much more like the end of chapter 6 than chapter 19 is.}

138 One thing is certain. If this secret scene in heaven takes place in heaven before the seventh trumpet sounds, it is perfectly clear that the Lord rises up and takes the kingdom some time before the mystery of God is finished on earth: for this is only in the days of the seventh angel. Moreover, this celebration of the sovereignty of the world being become our Lord's and His Christ's we find again in chapter 12 decidedly three years and a half before the end. "Now is come the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ."

And now just see the reasoning of the author. In chapter 11 we find, "there were voices in heaven, saying, The sovereignty of the world hath become our Lord's and his Christ's"; or, The sovereignty of the world of our Lord and of His Christ is come. We find in chapter 12, with the stronger expression "now" - "I heard a great voice in heaven, saying, Now is come … the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ." In the first (we are told) the scene has passed in heaven of taking the kingdom, and the times of the Gentiles finished, and the mystery of God, and the time come for the Son to quit the Father's throne; which, we shall remember, ends the age altogether. In chapter 12 this assertion of power was as yet for heaven only. If it be so (though it seems to me a mistake), then it is quite clear that Christ takes in heaven the authority, and the kingdom of God is set up for the blessing of the dwellers in heaven three years and a half before it is on earth.

Again: "It is the last of these trumpets, and will bring alike upon Israel and on the Gentiles the final blow - administered by the Son of man Himself." This is never said. Nor does it seem to me to be a just interpretation of the trumpets to make the coming of Christ a woe. I know it is said that it will be to the inhabiters of the earth; but it seems to me excessively strained so to apply it, or to term God's personal judgment a woe. Nor is it said to fall on any but Antichrist and his army, who are not the inhabiters of the earth. At any rate, if the seventh trumpet ushers in the administration of this blow, again, I have to repeat, Antichrist is not put an end to simultaneously with the witnesses before the sixth closes. And, again, if it be the final blow on the Gentiles, the Assyrian, Gog, etc., are all left entirely out, as if no prophecy existed about them: for Gog comes up when the land is at peace, and Christ is the peace when the Assyrian comes into it.

139 I proceed to the notes. As to this new translation, I conceive it is simple nonsense. What is the meaning of, "In the days of the voice," etc., "when he should be about to sound"? Are the days of his voice before he has sounded at all? Tregelles has fairly enough translated it "when he should sound." There was to be no longer delay; the seventh angel was going to sound, and when he should, in the days of his voice the mystery should be finished.

What is stated about "mystery of God" and "mystery" is eminently calculated to mislead. The church is not called the mystery of God; nor do I believe the expression refers to it,* but rather to the strangeness of the existence of God's sovereignty while evil was allowed and rampant. But it is said "this is a great mystery" - to wit, the union of husband and wife; "but I speak as concerning Christ and the church." The church, therefore, its union at least with Christ, is called a mystery. And of what is it the apostle speaks when he says, "the mystery of Christ, which, in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and the of same body," etc.? "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God … to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church," etc.

{*Unless on the authority of a various reading in Colossians 2. Still here it would be government, and not the church, which is in question.}

140 The church is not the whole of the mystery of God's will. That is true. But this is certain, that what Paul specially preached (and this he identifies with the doctrine of the church) was from the beginning of the world hid in God. Here is his statement of the mystery: "That he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth; in him in whom we also have obtained an inheritance," etc. This he developed in the same chapter as being "head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all." The mystery thus includes Christ's administrative headship over all things, and the union of the church to Him as such, as His body. This mystery was made known to Paul by revelation. It had been hidden in God before. It is not a true representation of the apostle's statements to talk of the great "mysteries"; because he talks most expressly of "the mystery," over and over again, as hidden previously from the sons of men. Thus, in Colossians 1:26-27, the mystery hidden, or - if we are to imitate the translation of "the tribulation, the great one" - the mystery, the hidden one from ages and generations, but which now has been manifested to His saints; to whom God would (has willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, etc. And had not this (Christ in them) something to do with the church - the breaking down the middle wall of partition, and of twain making one new man in the body, the church, united to the Head? So in Colossians 2:3. If we read with the margin ("wherein" as indeed I doubt not we should), we find the immense importance of this special mystery. So in chapter 4:3 we find that Paul was in bonds for the mystery. Compare Eph. 3:1 and chap. 4:1. Now I would ask, after reading these passages, Is it a just representation of the apostle's teaching to say, "the great mysteries connected with the ministry of the apostles"? Or why is it concealed that there is a mystery, of which the apostle speaks?

I ask, too, whether saying neither the church of the Firstborn nor the church in any of its parts is the mystery, would not mislead? And when do we read of the parts of the church in Scripture, save in the sense of members of the body? Is not the great object of the apostle to insist on its unity? And where it is said, that which has been stated in the Old Testament, but allowed to remain there silent* - is this, taking all the passages, what the apostle states, or not? And if not, why this care to cover up his statements as to this great mystery hidden from ages and generations - hidden in God? Does it not shew that there is just that in it which the author's system would not bear, the church's proper place as the body and spouse of Christ? A mystery is not necessarily a fresh truth (he says) never before stated. Does not the apostle say that the mystery had never before been stated? Why this anxious effort to get rid of what distinguishes the church?

{*What is the meaning of stated and remaining there silent? Was the mystery silent? If not, if it was stated in the Old Testament, the Old Testament was not silent about it. But the apostle states in Romans 16:25, that it was not spoken of, or stated - that silence had been kept about it: not that it had been silent there, which has no sense. The translation is a wrong one also. It is not "kept silent"; but silence kept about it; and therefore rightly, for the sense, translated "kept secret."