Georgetown, Ky., March 11, 1862.
"I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof; and two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof." Zech. iv. 2, 3.
BROTHER BEEBE: - While engaged in conversation recently on the subject contained in the connection of scripture heading this article, I was earnestly requested by an esteemed and much respected brother to give my views through the SIGNS OF THE TIMES upon it, in connection with a part of the eleventh chapter of Revelation, particularly respecting the "two witnesses." I approach the subject with a degree of diffidence, as there has been much published heretofore in the SIGNS OF THE TIMES on the same subject, and by brethren whose abilities in the views they have given I cannot doubt for a moment. I hope they will accord to me the same honesty in my views on the text referred to, should I differ with them in some particulars. It is not for the purpose of controverting the opinions of my highly esteemed brethren, who have heretofore written on the same subject, that I write, but merely to "shew mine opinion," for I have not so much as reviewed their comments since first reading them. I feel confident that none of us desire that our views should be endorsed unless they harmonize with the inspired record.
The language contained in the text is evidently emblematical, and calculated to typify something more momentous than the several things named therein. That being the case, there must be a striking analogy of the things named, and those intended to be demonstrated thereby. Shall we consider those things in the order in which they are recorded in the text, with their analogy to those which I think they allude? The first named is: "A candlestick all of gold." That the candlestick is an emblem of the church I suppose will be doubted by few, if any. - See Rev. i. 20, and many other passages. The analogy is certainly good. It is all gold, [of being a supplied word] and therefore completely purified. Christ gave himself for the church, that he might "purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works," and by one offering perfected her forever, his blood cleansing her from all sin. And then, the candlestick has not the light it shows within itself, but only exhibits what is placed in it, as the church only portrays the light that she received from Christ. This candlestick is represented as having, "A bowl upon the top of it." The bowl is doubtless to be understood as a reservoir for the oil, to furnish the light exhibited by the candlestick; and I think the similitude a good one, if we consider it as typifying Christ, the great repository of all grace and glory, the complete embodiment of the "Father of lights," and therefore "the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world," and from whom has emanated every lucid ray that has in any age illumined the church. This bowl is said to be upon the top of the candlestick, representing Christ as the Head of the church, or as set upon his holy hill of Zion, immediately and forever connected with and united to her; so that, as the oil descends from the bowl into the candlestick, furnishing it with the necessary essence of light, in like manner from Jesus, the Head of the church, "the fullness of him that filleth all in all." And as it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell in him, his essential fullness descends in his church, filling her "with all the fullness of God," irradiating her so completely that she is made to appear like a city set upon a hill, which cannot be hid, whose glory may be seen afar off, and many shall come to the brightness of her rising. Truly, "Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined."
"And his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps which were upon the top thereof." It is evidently to be understood that the light emitted from these lamps is nothing more nor less than the flaming oil contained in and flowing from the bowls. The oil, therefore, is the light. It is thought by many that this oil is illustrative of the grace of God. I think, however, that it more appropriately represents the life of the church which is in Christ; and that, as the oil is the light, so the life of Christ is the light of his church. "In him was life, and the life was the light of men." Hence it is said to the church, "The Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory." Isa. lx. 19. The lamps agree in number with the pipes attached to them. We would conclude then, that the pipes are so many tubes or ducts through which the oil is communicated to the lamps at their terminus, where the light irradiates and diffuses its brilliancy to all that have eyes to see. The number of the pipes is seven. As that number in the scriptures generally brings to view a full, complete, round or whole number, I conclude that these pipes figuratively represent the whole number of Christ's ministers, whether in the prophetical or gospel dispensation. Is not the analogy good? The ministry in any age have been as inadequate to produce light without it being first received from Christ, as would be the pipes to afford oil unless supplied and filled from the bowls. I think the same characters are alluded to in the type of "the seven stars," as seen by John, and spoken of in Rev. i. 16-20, in the right hand of the Alpha and Omega. How appropriate the figure, how soon would the light be extinguished should the oil cease to flow through the pipes! It is entirely necessary that the pipes should be completely emptied of everything but oil. Should a clog of clay fill up the vacuum of the tube, the light would be immediately dimmed, and all be dark. No confidence is to be put in the flesh. It may have passed the ordeal of the Theological Institute, still it will afford no light.
"And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof." In Rev. xi. 3, 4, it is said, "And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand, two hundred and three score days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks, standing before the God of the earth." The difference in the two quotations is, that John was told of two candlesticks, while Zechariah saw but one. John being shown (as I suppose) the church composed of Jews and Gentiles, separately considered, the former containing "an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel," and the latter, "a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues;" while Zechariah prophetically saw her with the middle wall of partition broken down, and the twain making one. Both, however, recognize two witnesses, and these two olive trees or witnesses we have next to consider.
The use of witnesses is to procure or establish facts, and there is no doubt that the Lord has left for his church tangible witnesses, by which may be proved every necessary fact pertaining to him or his kingdom. I consider, then, that the two olive trees are emblems of the oracles of God, as contained in the Old and New Testaments. Christ, when he came to do his Father's will, execute his decrees, and fulfill his eternal purposes and designs in the salvation of his people, stood connected with his church, at the end of the former and commencement of the latter dispensation. This appears to me to be a beautiful and sublime figurative illustration, which my poor language I fear will fail to delineate intelligibly to my brethren. Imagine a pure golden candlestick with a bowl of pure exhaustless oil upon the top of it, and they so united that the oil is ever descending to supply the necessary light. United with the bowl and candlestick, as they are united, are those several pipes conducting the oil to as many lamps, which throw out a sufficient brilliancy for all necessary purposes. Now consider two important records spread, one on either side of the bowl, consisting of two bodies of testimony of vital interest to the household. Let the lamps be trimmed, the light burning, and then turn to the record. There it is testified, "It (the woman's seed,) shall bruise thy (the serpent's,) head." Turn over a leaf, and there is seen, "The firstlings of the flock," in the hands of Abel; and as we progress, see Noah with his ark, wherein few were saved from the deluge, Abraham wending his way with Isaac to Mount Moriah, the ram caught in the thicket by the horns, and see Isaac setting out to salute, take and decorate his bride, Jacob undergoing a rigorous servitude for his. In process of time a grievous famine is sent over the land - Jacob and his family must go down to Egypt; but God has, through the treachery of his brethren, sent a Joseph there to provide for his father's house, but there they are brought into bondage, and evil entreated four hundred years. In due time Moses is seen there with a wondrous rod, and Aaron with his flippant tongue, and finally Pharaoh and his cohorts are made to quail before the servants of the Most High, the people of Israel are let go, after the significant emblem of the lamb of the Passover, and its blood upon the lintels and door-posts. A lane is thrown open in the Red Sea, the waters stand as walls while they pass through, which the Egyptians, assaying to do were drowned. Aaron and Levi are testifying yonder with their priestly habiliments, the bleeding birds, the bleating lambs, the bellowing bullocks, and all the incense that smoked upon the Hebrew altars, each penetrating by the lucid rays of the burning lamps the dark and distant future, and by which were seen and testified the coming of the Son of God! Look at the pillar of cloud and fire as a screen and directory! The rock smitten in Horeb, the waters gushing out to cool the thirst of Israel! See the manna raining from heaven, the flocks of quails coming as clouds for their food, their raiment that waxed not old in forty years travel! And there we behold an unbroken chain of testimony, proving in advance the approach of the Protector, Provider, Sustainer and Deliverer of Israel!
Hark! what notes of thrilling symphony are those we hear rolling from the illumined record? There is Miriam and her companions with their timbrels, David with his harp, his psaltery, his cymbal, his dulcimer, and his instrument of ten strings, Isaiah is singing of a vineyard of red wine, of him that waters it every moment, who keeps it night and day, lest any should hurt it! Solomon is chanting of his well beloved and spouse, attuning the passing away of the winter and the coming of spring! All the watchmen join the concert, they lift up the voice, with the voice together they sing. Some have been brought through, and have seen the horse and rider that pursued them swallowed up in the obedient waters; others have been delivered from blood-thirsty men, voracious beasts, the burning furnace, and many from an horrible pit and miry clay. All form one harmonious orchestra, and carol in living testimonial strains the high praises of their wonder-working Deliverer.
Much more might be said of the olive tree, or body of evidence on yonder side of the bowl, for it has many branches, but forms one tree, or many particles, but making one dense cloud of witness, standing by the Lord of the whole earth, as witnessed by the law and the prophets; for to him gave all the prophets witness, when the Spirit of Christ, which was in them, testified beforehand his sufferings, and the glory that should follow. "For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." Shall we now look over on this side, and examine the other record in the light produced by the same oil? On the very first page, after a faithful genealogy of Jesus, we see it written, "He shall save his people from their sins." Compare with Isaiah xlv. 17, and we see in the outset the complete concordance of the two witnesses. The same perfect agreement will be manifest if we survey the tree on this side from the root to the very extreme branches. Immediately following the annunciation of his humble birth and birthplace by an angel sent from God, an orchestra of heavenly songsters hail his advent; the heavens are made musical, they are caroling his high praises, chanting anthems of "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, and good will toward men." Compare with Isa, ix. 6, &c. Onward from his birth the testimony progresses, so completely corresponsive with that on the other side, that it shows it to be unmistakably a tree of the same growth. The very place of his birth, identical with the predictions of the prophets, his exit to Egypt and call therefrom, together with many other incidents of his early life, proclaim in true telling accents that he is the true Immanuel or God with us. The Baptist harbinger, long ere his birth the subject of prophetic lore, fills up his mission in preparing his way before him, and bearing a faithful and corroborative testimony that he is the Son of God, the Christ that was to come. When he had immersed him in the river Jordan, to bind up the testimony of his Messiahship, the Spirit of God descended like a dove, lighting upon him, and a voice from his Father in heaven proclaims him his beloved Son, in whom he is well pleased. An important part of this body of evidence is the record of his own infallible words, corroborated and established by his mighty deeds. His words affirm that he came from heaven to do his Father's will, and that will is, that every one that his Father had given him should be raised up at the last day. By his deeds the eyes of the blind are opened, the ears of the deaf are unstopped, the lame man leaps as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sings. Paralysis, mania, leprosy, fluxes, fevers, and many other diseases otherwise incurable, fled at the healing touch of his hand, and the dead were reanimated by the power of his voice. The high surging billows were leveled to a plain by his word, the bellowing tempest hushed to a calm at his bidding, and devils fled aghast at his mandate. The inspiration of his apostles, the miracles he empowered them to perform in his name, and the testimony they bore under the influence of that inspiration, all conspire to make up the body of evidence.
Among the last but not the least of the wonderful works performed by him while here on his great mission of salvation was the reproachful death he endured to redeem his children from condemnation and rising from the dead for their justification. In triumph he ascends on high, leading captivity captive, enters into heaven itself the advocate of his people, sends them the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, opens their understanding to understand the scriptures, and myriads of them read the testimony with a hallow of joy. It does appear to me that the Savior has decided the matter as to one of these witnesses, at least, saying in Matthew xxiv. 14, "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world FOR A WITNESS to all nations," &c. Thus, while the former record compasses us about as a cloud well filled with rain, the latter must eventually bear a faithful testimony to all nations, and then shall the end come, when we shall no longer need those witnesses. It is said in Revelation xi. 6, "These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy, and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues as often as they will." It must be remembered that Jesus has "all power in heaven and in earth," and therefore that these witnesses exercise it as such only as they receive it from him. When they testify the heavens shut up, a famine must ensue; perhaps "not a famine of bread nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord." (See Amos viii. 11, &c.) In Rev. xvii. 15, it is said, "The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sittest, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues." At the very time then, these witnesses testify the fact that the nations must be drenched in blood, the plague must spread its desolations; God having foreseen the wickedness of men, and having his judgments in reserve, has prepared his witnesses to proclaim the coming calamities. Thus the heavens are shut up when the witnesses proclaim it (see 1 Kings xvii. 1, James v. 17) and blood and pestilence when they predict it. [Eze.v. 17.] Let me ask my brethren in the ministry, when they wish to establish a point of doctrine, of order, an ordinance, or any other fact relating to Christ or his kingdom, where they go for evidence but to these records as witnesses? If I wish to prove that Jesus is the Christ I go to these witnesses. Do I wish to prove the complete salvation in him of all his people? There is my appeal. In short, when I wish to evince what is right and what is not right, thither and only there I go. I need no better evidence than these witnesses afford me. As before intimated, the prime end of witnesses is the establishment of facts. Where then, can we go to sustain our position but to these records? The Son does not come down and work miracles visibly himself, or by inspired men, as in days of yore; neither does the Holy Ghost portray those wondrous and miraculous displays of power as he did anciently. We can not rely upon the ministry, nor yet the church, in their and her present imperfect state, to settle disputed points. Let us, then, still cleave, to those faithful records that we all have been so frequently driven to in cases of emergency, and we shall not lack testimony to substantiate every true position we may take.
A few remarks respecting the killing of the witnesses, and I will dismiss the subject for the present, as I have perhaps already transcended the limits that should be afforded me.
I understand the beast that was to effect this work to be the spirit that works in the children of disobedience, and that he accomplishes his designs by the means and instruments that he uses in the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt. Whether the slaying relates to the former, the present, or to some future time I will not positively say, because I do not know. Whether the three days and a half in which their dead bodies were to be seen in the streets of the great city refers to a definite period of three years and a half, as some suppose, or whether it has reference to something like an equal division of time, as seven days constitute all time, I cannot say. But, as their dead bodies were seen in the great city, they must have been killed there, and if killed there, they must in some sense have been there before the killing. Now, if we retrospect the going off of the New School and Means factions, within the last half century, I suppose it will be admitted that many individuals, parts of churches, and perhaps some entire ones that were mainly sound in the faith, were led off with those factions, to mingle with the daughters of Babylon, carrying with them these witnesses; and from that time onward, with their so-called "Bible Societies" and other kindred and unscriptural institutions, a murderous war was commenced and has been carried on against those witnesses, until, although their bodies are seen there, if the spirituality or life of them is not entirely extinct at this time, it presents but a flickering taper, likely to expire at any moment. Who has not seen and heard the "Rev. clergy," with all their energy, learning, talent and tact, pummeling those witnesses as though they were determined to beat the very life and spirit out of them, turning away their ears from the truth, being turned to fables, tracts? &c. But mark, we are not informed that their dead bodies shall be seen in the city of the New Jerusalem, for in that case the Lord might be left without a witness, which cannot be while his kingdom stands, ["and it shall stand forever"] and while he has servants "to testify the gospel of the grace of God," and who SHALL preach the gospel of the kingdom in all the world for a witness to all nations; and then, and not until then, shall the end come.
My dear brethren and sisters, let us stand by these true and faithful witnesses, and whether in the valley or upon the mountain top, whether in prosperity or adversity, in weal or woe, in sickness or health, in life or death, they portray and prove to you the panoply in which you are to stand, the Victor by whose blood you are to overcome, they are given by the inspiration of God, and are profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness, that you may be thoroughly furnished unto all good works. With your Bibles in your hands, and the Spirit of the living God in your hearts, to open your understanding that you may understand them, you will be enabled to prove your calling and election, your doctrine, your order, your commendable conduct and conversation, your sonship, and therefore your heirship and joint heirship with Christ, your rich and blessed Savior, and therefore, too, your indemnified title to an eternal inheritance, which is incorruptible, undefiled and that fadeth not away; but fling to the winds, or cast to the "moles and the bats" those earthly and blind creatures of darkness, every idea and every practice that is not confirmed by these "two witnesses."
Permit me still to address you, my brethren and sisters, in the endearing relation of a brother, in hope of a full, and with you a joint fruition of the inheritance of the saints in light.
J. F. JOHNSON.