repeated. If this explanation be just, it will remove much of the conclusion built upon this prophecy, and exhibit the subject
in a different point of light.
But granting that by the witnesses are meant the Lord's people in general, which is perhaps the most natural and correct
construction, a second question arises - What is intended by their SLAUGHTER? This cannot certainly be taken in a literal
sense for real death or total extermination, as it relates to every individual believer, since that would imply the extinction of
the Church on earth, which never has, nor ever will be realized. It must intend their being brought very low, both as to
numbers and privileges, and applies immediately to the sufferings before mentioned. It is evidently added as explanatory of
the degree of distress or the extreme point of affliction and humiliation to which the Church in the course of that period
would be reduced. It cannot therefore be a distinct event, nor is there any thing in the prediction which determines it
as taking place exactly at the close of the 1260 years. If it happens at any time within the limits of that suffering period,
the import of the prophecy will be answered.
Of the PERPETRATOR and author of the calamity there can remain no uncertainty. The whole scene belongs to antichrist.
To him this desolation is specifically ascribed. He is the tyrant who reduces the number of believers; he makes them prophecy
in sackcloth; and he kills them. From this arises, at least, a probable conclusion, that the witnesses have already been
slain as much as ever they will be. Turn to antichrist. Look at him. See an old sinner emaciated by a fatal consumption,
feeble, despised and tottering to his downfal! Is it probable that he can now repeat such horrid havock, that he can now
inflict such deadly blows as marked the prime of his pride and power? Are not also the character and relative situation of the
nations which heretofore aided the beast in shedding the blood of the saints essentially changed? May we not then expect that
the faltering hierarch will never again attempt the cruel work; or, whatever may be his impotent enmity or dying
struggles, that he will never be able to dishonor himself or disturb the Church any more by persecution?
But it does not rest upon mere conjecture. It is reduced to a certainty. The prediction has been fully ACCOMPLISHED. The
evils comprehended in this part of the prophecy have been experienced. Everything intended by overcoming and killing the witnesses is
fulfilled. Those who are acquainted with the history of the church, during the gloomy period which is justly denominated the iron age
of ignorance and cruelty, can entertain no doubt of this fact.
In the twelfth century, the Waldenses (so called from Peter Waldo) and the Albigenses (who obtained their name from
Alby a cityof Languedoc) became very numerous. These were humble and holy disciples of Jesus Christ, and therefore
hated and persecuted by antichrist. They fled for refuge to different nations, and repeated acts of vengeance incessantly followed
them. In Germany they were hunted down under the name of Lollards, and every where pursued with fury and death. The fifteen
century was the worst. Then the bloody work reached its utmost bounds, and the enemy might inscribe
upon his medal, like Dioclesian, superstitione Christi ubique deleta. John Huss and Jerome of Prague, were burned by order
of the Council of Constance, in the year 1416, after which the destruction of the faithful rapidly increased. The Bohemian Calixtines
were seduced and overpowered, and the Taborites,
as they were called, with their brethren in Piedmont and France, were, before the close of that century, nearly desolated.
So low were the humble followers of Jesus, during this period, reduced, that with difficulty seventy could be convented to
consult upon measures for continuing their Church; so low, that when the remains of that pious people, in the year 1497,
sent four men to travel, one through Greece and the east,
another to Russia and the north, a third to Thrace and Balgaria, and
a fourth to Asia, Palestine, and Egypt; they returned with the
sorrowful tidings, that they found no Church of Christ that was free from error, superstition, and idolatry. Two years
afterwards they sent two persons into Italy and France, to learn if there were any of the Old Waldenses alive. These came back
with the sad account, that they could find none, but had heard of a few remains, of the Piedmontois scattered and hid among the
So called from mount Thabor, or rather from a town built and fortified by Ziska, named Thabor. Of these pious and zealous disciples
of John Hass, a very unfavorable view is given by the learned Mosheim; "Crudelibus certe sententiis imbuta magna ejus pars erat, et
nil nifi bellum ac sanguinen hostium suorum spirabat." To establish
this opinion he cites L. Byzinius, an obscure author, who represents them as a fanatical, fierce, and sanguinary sect. If this
cited passage be genuine, it only proves, that among a people, harassed and led as sheep to the slaughter, there were some individuals, who,
when driven to madness by persecution, could not restrain their passions. Mosheim exhibits an accurate and elaborate history of the
State of the Church, as far as her fate was connected with political events, or involved in the history of surrounding nations; but we
look in vain to that celebrated historian for the real state of religion,
which constitutes the most essential part of the history of the Church of Christ. The account of the Taborites, transmitted by those who
were justly estimated the character of the humble followers of Jesus, is very different. The pious preacher Lampe speaks in another style
of them. "Melior vero Taboritarum, qui non solum Hussi doctrinam, quoad relinquos articulos, in quibus dissenssum a Romana ecclesia professus erat,
recipiebant, sed etiam purioris Waldensium ecclesia aureas reliquias inter se fovebant." F. A. Lampe Synopsis Historia Sacre et Ecclesiastica. lib. ii. chap. xi. sect. 18.