The minds of many of our brethren have been led, of late, to discuss the subject of the Lord’s two witnesses, and the prophecy concerning them, contained in the eleventh chapter of Revelation, compared with Zechariah 4:2-14. The attention of our readers was called to this subject about thirty years ago, by Brother Trott, who, at that time, expressed his convictions that the two witnesses were the gospel ministry; not that their number was literally reduced to only two, but from the legal provision in the ceremonial law, making two the smallest number admissible to establish any testimony; thus showing that the ministers of the gospel during the forty and two months, or one thousand, threescore days of their prophesying in sackcloth, should be reduced to the very smallest number requisite for maintaining the truth, in the face of great popular opposition, and under the most discouraging circumstances, as indicated by their clothing. In those early papers Brother Trott arrived at the conclusion that the forty and two months most probably commenced at or about the year 606, and adding to that period twelve hundred and sixty days, taking these days of prophetic time to mean as many years, according to our common computation, would extend to about the year 1866, when these two witnesses should finish their testimony, and when the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and kill them, 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. 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 buried in graves, etc.
To us it seems quite remarkable that distinguished servant of God had at the very moment when the struggle was going on in the church of God, which resulted in a separation between the New School, or Mission Baptists, and the Old School, or strictly apostolic Baptists, in which the former took position with the whole sisterhood of the harlot daughters of Mystery, Babylon the Great, in support of all the novel and worldly religious inventions of the day, and in discarding the Bible as the only infallible standard of truth and righteousness, and the latter withdrawing her fellowship from those who then went out from us and took her bold position on apostolic ground, repudiating all religious creeds and maxims, doctrines and ordinances, institutions and combinations, for which she could find no warrant in the New Testament; to us, we say, it is not a little remarkable that our enlightened Brother Trott was at so early a day enabled to sound the alarm in Zion, and so clearly point out what he understood to be predicted for the half century which was then to ensue. The development of the Protestant beast which had risen out of the earth, comm anding the making of an image of the papal monster which had risen out of the sea - the rapid advance of the image to its completion, and its investment of power to speak and command all men to worship the beast, to proscribe, persecute and ultimately put to death all who should not worship the image of the beast. We have watched for the last thirty years the progress of this man of sin, this son of perdition, and now witness, at the very time indicated, the fearful reality of what was foreshadowed in the faithful admonitions of our beloved brother; but the end is not yet.
As the time draws near many of our most discerning brethren, and among them brethren Stipp, Owen, Rittenhouse and others, are drawn out upon the same subject, and although at the first view there seems much discrepancy in their expositions of the two witnesses, there is a remarkable unison in their understanding of the time signified for the slaughter of the witnesses and of the powers by whom the slaughter shall be accomplished. In closely comparing the views expressed by our brethren, there does not seem to us to be so much want of harmony as we at first supposed. The present views of Brother Trott, expressed in a late letter, are that the Scriptures, and the church through the ministry, are the two witnesses; the one as the olive tree, supplying the golden oil, through Christ, as the golden bowl, conveyed by the golden pipes, the gifts of the Spirit, to supply the lamps, which burning with holy fire make the light which is reflected by the candlestick (the church) send forth its radiance. (We do not give Brother Trott’s words, as his letter is not at hand, but according to our recollection.) One brother thinks the Holy Ghost and our Lord Jesus Christ are the two witnesses intended, and others again are equally confident that the two covenants, the Old and New Testaments, are meant. There is not so much difference in these explanations as some may apprehend, after all. Suppose we take the views of Brother Stipp, that Christ and the Holy Ghost are the two witnesses. The Holy Ghost is the spirit and life of all the Scriptures, and if the Scriptures could be separated from that spirit, the mere body of the Scriptures, deprived of all its real vitality, would be to us only a dead body, a mere form of words, without power or life. The church is the body of Christ; he is her life and immortality. To strip the church, as a witness, of her identity with Christ as her spiritual vitality, she would be as dead, in regard to spiritual things, as our natural body would be if all the natural life were taken from it. A living body is a body having life in it; take that away and it is only a dead body. This is certainly true in regard to the Scriptures, and also the church. But can the life of the Scriptures or that of the church be thus separated? In one sense they cannot, in another we think they can. In the street of the city new Jerusalem, where the pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, flows from the throne of God and the Lamb, neither of these bodies can die, for there shall be no death there. But in the street of the great city, which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified, there is death. Solomon says, “Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.” (Proverbs 7:27) Remember these two witnesses are not to lie dead in Zion, but in Sodom and Egypt, and how? While the rulers of the darkness of this world altogether ignore the testimony of the Bible, and set up their own wisdom, works and wills as a higher law, they still pretend to venerate the book, and will not suffer it to be put in the grave. They are busily engaged in multiplying copies of it, and are flooding the land with Bibles. But mark, it is the Bible as a dead body, not as a book of inspired testimony, not as God’s witness, that they venerate it; they rejoice over it as a dead body, while they oppose with all their might its testimony. Having now succeeded in gaining a controlling influence over the popular mind, they rejoice and send gifts one to another, because this witness which has in former times tormented them is dead, as a witness in support of truth and righteousness, and against fanaticism and will-worship. In regard to the doctrine of salvation by grace, the Bible is no longer regarded as a witness, either in Sodom or Egypt. As a witness it is dead, but the body is prostrate in the street; nor is its testimony admitted in regard to any of the ordinances or institutions that characterize the church of God in the apostolic age. The divine government of God, as testified in the Scriptures in regard to the relations of servants and masters, parents and children, citizens and magistrates, is superseded in the public streets by what is familiarly called a higher law. Those who profess to be the divinely authorized exponents of the sacred volume, instead of proclaiming “Peace on earth,” are making the most violent appeals to the maddest passions of men to drench the earth with human gore, and their pulpits are made to ring with the loudest blasphemies that ever fell on human ears. Death is the separation of the vital spirit from the body which had been animated by it. Allowing then that the Spirit of God, or the Holy Ghost, is the spirit of inspiration, and that God spake to the patriarchs by the prophets, and holy men who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, the rejection of the testimony of the Bible, in its spirit, as the testimony of God, while the book itself is retained in its letter, is to separate the life from the body, and in its absence from that spirit it is dead.
But we see also the church of God slain as a witness. It is true the church of Christ can never be deprived of her vitality in Christ, for her life is hid with Christ in God; but in her testimony, as a witness, through her ministry she is disregarded. A few weeks since, a committee visited the president of the United States, purporting to be the representatives of the clergy of all denominations of Christians; as such they were received by the chief magistrate of our nation. Their business was to persuade him to annul the relationship which God had instituted between two classes of the human family. But was there in the committee, or in the convention which they represented, a single member of the church of the living God? Not one; yet they presented themselves and were accepted as the representatives of every Christian denomination. True, the church of God shall and does dwell alone, and is not reckoned with the nations, but the officially recognized body of the church is a body without a particle of spiritual life - a dead body. But this loathsome carcass cannot be one of the witnesses intended, for it has not been prophesying forty and two months in sackcloth; it has not been slain, nor have we any hope that the spirit of life from God will ever animate it with vitality. The true church of God, the mystical body of our Lord Jesus Christ, has been prophesying in the time and manner signified, and her testimony as one of God’s witnesses has been, like the leaves of the tree of life, for the healing of the nations. To her peaceful doctrine, her Christ like example and the effect of her testimony to the world, may be attributed all the ameliorating influences tending to the great cause of”on earth peace, good will toward men,” which have relieved the nations of the earth from heathen darkness and the most abject wretchedness. As a witness for God and truth, the church has encountered the most determined and bitter opposition of all other sects and denominations of religionists, from her organization at Pentecost to the present time. But as a witness for God and truth, her voice is no longer heard nor admitted, either in Sodom or Egypt. The place where our Lord was crucified is the place assigned in prophecy for her to be slain. The gross and unnatural wickedness of Sodom, the darkness and bondage of Egypt, were figurative of the influences brought to bear in effecting the crucifixion of our Lord. The scribes, Pharisees and priesthood, and the perverted civil authorities of Judea and Rome, were blended in the accomplishment of the tragedy of Calvary, and the same or similar influences must be developed in silencing the witnesses of the Lord. Our modern scribes, Pharisees, priests and clergy are now the rulers of the darkness of this world, and having gained a commanding ascendancy over Sodom and Egypt, have they not effectually slain the church of God as a witness, so far as Sodom and Egypt are concerned? Yet the church is not exterminated nor put in a grave; she is still visible to her enemies as a prostrate antagonist, while over her, and over the dead body of the Scriptures, they who dwell on the earth (not on the sea of glass) rejoice, make merry and send gifts one to another.
Our object in this article is not to offer any new light on the subject of the two witnesses, as we do not feel competent to do so, but rather to show that the views of our brethren, which have been published in our columns for thirty years past, are not as discordant as some have apprehended. If in reality the witnesses are now slain, according to the prophecy, the triumph of antichrist will be short. The three days and an half of the virtual suspension of their testimony will soon be numbered, and at their fulfillment a more glorious state will be ushered in than the church has experienced for twelve hundred and sixty-three years and six months at least, if not more brilliant than has been witnessed since her organization. But whether our views on this important subject, and those of our brethren, are correct or not, it is beyond all reasonable doubt that we are approaching a momentous period in the history of the church, in which the Savior’s admonition should be solemnly regarded: Take heed that no man deceive you. As he commandeth his disciples to watch the signs which preceded the destruction of Jerusalem, so are the saints of the present time admonished to watch the signs which indicate the destruction of Babylon. The sovereign order from his awful throne is now being heralded in thunder tones: “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” (Rev. 18:4) “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” (Rev. 16:15)
November 15, 1862.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 5
Pages 290 - 295