by George Gifford.
Richard Field and Felix Kinston, 1599.
Set forth by George Giffard, Preacher of the Word at Mauldin in Essex.
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1 And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood by, saying, Arise and measure the Temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.
2 But the court which is without the Temple, cast forth and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
3 But I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand, two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
In the latter end of the former chapter, Saint John representing the Ministers of the Gospel, whom the Lord would raise up in the latter end of the world, to recover his Church from under the tyranny of Antichrist, taketh the little book of God which was open in the hand of the Angel, and eateth it up, and it was sweet in the eating, but bitter in his belly, because he must prophecy again among people, and nations and tongues, and to many Kings. The Gospel of the kingdom (as our Saviour saith, Mat. 24:14) shall be preached in the whole world, (which is begun to be accomplished in our days) and then shall the end be. In this chapter here is set forth the effect of this prophecying again in the latter days: as namely, the restoring, reforming and building up of the Church, which was so oppressed and wasted by the great Antichrist: and then by occasion thereof in the second place, here is the history of the builders, that is, of the faithfull ministers of the Gospel, not only of those which in these last times should take and eat up the little book, and restore the Churches, but also of those which were raised up, and withstood Antichrist all the time of his reign, even when his power was at the greatest, and when he did chiefly flourish. This history containeth diverse worthy things; and profitable to be known. The first point, that is, the restoring, the repairing, and building up of the Church, is resembled by the measuring of the Temple of God. For he saith, there was given him a reed like unto a rod, and he was willed to arise, and to measure the Temple of God, and the Altar, and them that worship therein: for ye may see in Ezekiel, chap. 40, that by measuring is signified the restoring of the Church. The Church of Israel was afflicted, and led into captivity by the King of Babel, and seemed to be overthrown: but the Lord doth comfort the faithful with the promise of restoration by Christ, & figureth out the same by measuring. For there Christ hath a reed to measure with, of six cubits, and measureth all parts about the Temple, and in the Temple. And from thence is this figure taken, that John in the person of all the Ministers hath a measuring reed given him, and is willed to measure. We all do know that men do not measure to throw down and to destroy any building, but to repair, and to build up. Thus much touching the measuring.
Now for the things which he is commanded to measure: that is, the Temple, the Altar, and them that worship therein. This prophecy setteth forth spiritual things by the same figures under which they were represented in the time of the law: and therefore by the Temple and the Altar, &c they that worship, are signified the pure and spiritual worship of God,and all the true worshippers. These were oppressed, trodden down and defaced by Antichrist, now are measured to be repaired & built up.
Then followeth another commandment given unto John, which is in these words: But the court which is without the Temple, cast out and measure not, for it is given to the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot two and forty months. What is the meaning of this? I will shew ye. The visible Church, & such as will bear the name of the Church hath great heaps in it of false Christians. There be sundry sorts of heretics, there be hypocrites, there be Idolaters, and corrupters of the true worship, as all the swarms of Papists. These shall be all cut off from the true Temple of God, even from the fellowship of the lively members of Christ, being but as hangers on, resembled by the court without the Temple, and shall not be measured. The Lord God will build up and save his true Church, and yet cast them forth. Then let us mark further, that the court without the temple, is not only allotted unto those which were hagers on, & in words profess Christ, but yet for their profaneness are called Gentiles, but also that these same which possess the same court are they which tread under foot the holy city two and forty months. The false hearted hypocrites, the wicked heretics, & idolatrous sects of Antichrist, are they which tread down the truth and the true servants of God. The Church, called the holy city, was indeed grievously persecuted almost for the space of three hundred years at times, by the heathen Emperors: they are here after a sort included, but properly and peculiarly these Gentiles that possess the court without the Temple, are the false Christians, the heretics, and those which are under AntiChrist: these do defile, lay waste, and tread under foot most grievously the pure worship, and the true worshippers. The Gentiles which utterly renounced Christ, cannot in so full a manner be said to be the outer court of the temple of God, for they be further removed. Then note how it was in the Temple: first, there was the most holy place into which the high Priest alone entered once a year. Then was there the holy place, into which the Priests did enter at all times. Thirdly, there was the court, into which all the people might, and did come to worship. This last, that is, the court where all the people were, was the largest room, and had far the greatest multitude in it. Let us see then how it is to be taken.
Through Jesus Christ all the elect are made holy Priests to God, & do not remain in the outer court of the Temple, as the figure was under the law, but have an entrance into the most holy place, as we are taught, Heb. 4:16 and 10:19, 20. And then on the other side, so many as profess Christ and yet are not sanctified, they are called Gentiles, for they be still profane: the court without is given to them: they worship, but have no access into the most holy place, and so shall be cast forth, and shall not be measured with the true worshippers. These are they which indeed proudly challenge the name of the Catholic Church, because they are by many degrees the greatest multitude. These take upon them authority to frame a worship of God: these do tread down the holy word of God as much as as in them lieth, and murder the true worshippers. Let all the heretics and Idolatrous Papists then boast and glory of their multitudes, that they be Catholic, and despise the true worshippers, because they be so few. Let them proudly lift up and advance themselves, because they profess Christ in word, and challenge authority to do even what they list. We see the holy Scripture is plain against them, their multitude shall not excuse, they shall be cut off and not measured and built up with the true temple, which are the holy worshippers of God. Then next here is shewed how long the great AntiChrist and his rout of profane Gentiles, possessing the outer court of the Temple, shall tread down the holy city. The time is set to be two and forty months: and that is three years and a half: for twelve months to a year, three times twelve is thirty and six, and then six months for the half year, do make up two and forty. From this place the Papists do draw one argument, by which they would prove that the Pope is not Antichrist. After this manner they reason: The Pope hath governed the Church many years: the great Antichrist shall reign but two and forty months, which is three years and a half: (for they do rightly confess that the Gentiles which possess the outer court of the temple, are the rout of AntiChrist) therefore say they, it is impossible that the Pope should be AntiChrist. For answer unto this: let it be demanded, doth not Saint John in this prophecy speak mystically, even as the Prophets did in old time? they cannot deny this. And then demand further, is not every day put for a year in the seventy weeks which Daniel the Prophet speaketh of? so every week is seven years. And why may not every month here then be put for thirty years? which then do amount unto 1,260 years. Which indeed is a long time in comparison of three years & an half: but compared with the eternity of Christ's kingdom, it is as nothing. And that is one cause why the Lord numbereth it by days & months which quickly run out. But then here will arise another scruple: If the kingdom of AntiChrist shall continue twelve hundred and sixty years, we must either say that the Bishop of Rome was Antichrist more than a thousand years past, yea above thirteen hundred, if we take his reign to be no longer than until he was disclosed by the Gospel: or else we must say he hath yet long to continue. Let not this trouble us, seeing it is most clear and out of all controversy, that in this book, a number certain is put for an uncertain. As in the seventh chapter of this book it is said, that of every tribe there was sealed twelve thousand. And because twelve times twelve amount unto one hundred forty & four, it is said chap. 14 that so many thousands stand with the Lamb upon mount Sion. Is any man so unwise, as to take it, that of every tribe there should be saved just twelve thousand neither more nor less, and so on all of the Jews in these latter days just an hundred forty & four thousands to be saved? & not rather that the Lord by a number certain doth declare that even when his Church doth seem utterly to fail, he saveth a great number, of which he expresseth not the just sum. So in this place when God will comfort his people, he sheweth that Antichrist shall tread down the holy city but for a short time, that is, two and forty months, which is but three years and an half, he meaneth not to note the just number of years that he shall continue.
Thus much for the time of Antichrist's treading down the holy city: Now we come to the builders, the true ministers of the Gospel, which should be in all the time of this treading down. But I will give power to my two witnesses, and they shall prophecy a thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. Antichrist and his company being those Gentiles which possess the outer court, do tread down the holy city, that is, the true Church of God, but shall they quite destroy it? or doth God in this time of AntiChrist's reign forsake it? or shall there be none to resist the tyrannous proceedings of Antichrist? This might be demanded, and here is a full answer, God doth not forsake his Church, it shall not be trodden down as to be quite destroyed, he doth not leave it without true teachers, which resist that wicked company, by maintaining the Gospel, so that they cannot utterly abolish the truth. The multitude indeed to whom the court without the temple is given, is exceeding great, and the true worshippers are few in comparison of them: that huge multitude conspire against the pure truth of God's word, and set up lies: but God will have some witnesses at all times to witness his truth, and to condemn their falsehood and lies. And because the law did require that to establish every matter two witnesses should be at the least, and his faithful servants in the prime of AntiChrist's reign were very few, he speaketh of the least number, which is sufficient by the law to be admitted for witnesses. These are not to be taken then for two and no more, but for all those worthy servants of Christ, which from time to time, both in the time of the persecuting Emperors, and also when the Popery bare sway, were raised up and did teach the true wholesome doctrine, and impugne the great Antichrist, and his wicked Clergy. These two witnesses of the Lord do prophecy, that is, they expound the lively word, and feed God's elect with wholesome doctrine, condemning by the holy Scriptures all errors, idolatry, and false worship. And how long shall they prophecy? even all the time of Antichrist's reign: for that is clearly expressed. For take thirty days to the month, and the thousand two hundred and sixty days, is all one with two and forty months. Antichrist shall with his company tread down the holy city two and forty months, and the Lord will yet give it, even that holy city (for so I take it rather than to say he will give power) unto his two witnesses, to instruct, to comfort, and to build up in the truth 1260 days, that is, all that whole time of 42 months. If AntiChrist tread down the holy city seven hundred years, yea if it be a thousand or more, all that same time the Lord will raise up some or other, still to succeed in the true ministry, to preserve the remnants of his people. There was no time then in all popery, but some have preached the Gospel, and shewed boldly and plainly that the popish kingdom, is that bloody kingdom of Antichrist, and their worship, even the worship of devils.
It may be some will demand, how shall this appear, that there were ever some raised up, which preached against the Pope and his clergy? I answer, that all things are not written which were done in all places, but yet histories of all times do testify sufficiently of these two witnesses, that is, of a competent number of true teachers. It shall not be needful to mention those which were in the times of the heathen Emperors, or before the kingdom of popery was grown strong against the truth, but those only which in the middle of the darkness, which (I say) in the midst of the darkness, when the smoke of the bottomless pit did outspread all, did preach the truth, and were persecuted. In the year of our Lord 1158 which is now more then four hundred years past, Gerhardus and Dulcinus Nauarensis, did earnestly preach against the Church of Rome, and taught that the Pope is AntiChrist: that the clergy and prelates of Rome were reject, & were become the very whore of Babylon, prefigured in the Revelation. These (as histories do testify) came into England, and brought certain others with them, who were by the king and the prelates burned in the forehead, and sent out of the Realm, & after were put to death by the Pope. In the year 1160 Waldus, one of the chief men of the city of Lyons in France, was terrified at the sight of one that fell down dead suddenly: he shewed great fruits of repentance, both by exercising the works of mercy in relieving the poor, and also by instructing himself and his family in the word of God and exhorting all that resorted unto him to the same, and by translating certain parts of the holy Scriptures into the French tongue, which he delivered unto many. He and a great number that received instruction by him, maintained the same doctrine drawn out of the holy Scriptures which we do now, condemning the Mass to be wicked, the Pope AntiChrist, and Rome Babylon, &c. They were threatened, and by violence of persecution scattered into many places, and some of them remained long in Bohemia. In the year 1212 the Pope caused an hundred persons in the country of Alsatia, whereof diverse were noble men, to be burned in one day, for maintaining doctrine against the doctrine of the Romish Church. About the year 1230 almost all the Churches of the Grecians renounced the Church of Rome, because of their execrable simony, and such abominable wickedness. In the time of the Emperor Fredericke the second, about the year 1250 there were in the country of Suevia many preachers, which preached freely against the Pope and his prelates, affirming boldly that the Pope and his said prelates were heretics, & simoniacs, and such like. In the year 1250 or thereabout, rose up Arnoldus de nova villa, a Spaniard, a man famously learned and a great writer: he impugned the errors of the Popish Church, and taught that the Pope led the people to hell. This Arnoldus was condemned as an heretic. About the same time Guilielmus de sancto Amore, a master of Paris, and a chief ruler of that University, applied all the testimonies of Scripture which are touching Antichrist, against the Popish Clergy. The Pope & his prelates condemned him for an heretic, he was banished, and his books burned. About the year 1290 Laurence an Englishman, a master of Paris, mightily proved the Pope to be Antichrist, and the Synagogue of Rome to be Babylon: the Pope after his death caused his bones to be taken up and burned. At the same time Robertus Gallus, a man of noble parentage, impugned the Pope and his clergy, calling the Pope an Idol, and threatening the judgments of God against their abominable sins. Also about the same time Robert Grosted Bishop of Lincoln, a man famously learned in three tongues, wrote diverse invectives against the Pope. And when he was sick, and lay upon his death-bed, which was at Bugden, he called one John Giles a preaching Friar, complaining of the disorders of the Friars and Roman clergy, proving the Pope to be an heretic. And speaking of the manifold abuses of the Church of Rome, and particularly about their covetousness and lechery, he said they should not be delivered from the servitude of Egypt but by force. And being scarce able to utter his words, with sobbing and weeping his breath went away, and so he departed in the year 1253 which is now more than three hundred years past. After his death the Pope would have had his bones digged up, but was terrified by a vision. About the year 1350 the Lord raised up diverse learned men, which openly and boldly impugned the Church of Rome: as Gregory Arminensis, who laid open the abuses of the Romish Synagogue, and confuted the popish doctrine of free will. Taulerus in Germany a preacher taught likewise. Franciscus Petrarcha at the same time, who calleth Rome the whore of Babylon, the mother of error, the temple of heresy. And a little before that, Johannes de rupe Scissa, was cast into prison for rebuking the popish prelates for their great enormities, and for that he calleth the Church of Rome, the whore of Babylon, the Pope the minister of AntiChrist, and the Cardinals false Prophets. And being in prison he wrote a book, prophecying of the affliction which hung over the heads of the Spirituality for their ungodly life: he called his book, Vade mecum in tribulatione. Then was there Master Conradus Hager, who taught more than twenty yeares against the Mass: he was afterward shut up in prison. Gerhardus Rhidor wrote a book against the Monks and Friars, which he entitled Lachrima ecclesia. About the same time were Michaell Cesenas, and Petrus Corbona, and Johannes de Poliaco: these were condemned by the Pope and his adherents. The said Michael wrote a book against the pride, the tyranny, and primacy of the Pope, accusing him to be Antichrist, and the Church of Rome the whore of Babylon, drunk with the blood of the Saints, &c. he left behind him many followers, of whom a great part were slain by the Pope, some of them were burned. About the same time two Friars were put to death at Auinion for matters which they held against the Pope: one of them was called Johannes Rochetailada, who did preach that the Church of Rome was Babylon, and the Pope and his Cardinals Antichrist. About the year 1360 was set forth a writing against the Pope and the popish Clergy, called a complaint of the plowman. About the same time, Armachanus an Archbishop in Ireland, was raised up against Antichrist, he was a man of great learning and godliness, his troubles were many, and the deliverances great which God gave him. In the year 1364 one Nicholas Orem preached a sermon before the Pope and his Cardinals, in which he rebuked the popish prelates, and denounced their destruction not to be far off for their most wicked abominations. About the year 1370 lived Mathias Parisiensis, a Bohemian, who wrote a large book of AntiChrist, and noteth the Pope to be the same. About the yeare 1384 Nilus Archbishop of Thessalonica, wrote a large book against the Roman Church. About the year 1390 many were put to death for the Gospel, refusing the doctrine and worship of the Romish Church: As at Bringa there were burned 36 Citizens of Maguntia. In the province of Narbone there were to the number of one hundred and forty which chose rather to suffer all torments than to receive the Romish religion, and to deny the truth of the most glorious Gospel. A good while before this time, there were 24 put to death at Paris. There were four hundred noted to be hererics, four score beheaded, Prince Armericus was hanged, & the Lady of the Castle was stoned to death. In the days of king Edward the third, about the year 1371 began John Wickliffe of Oxenford openly to deal against the Pope and popish doctrine. The times were then very grievous, the popish kingdom of Antichrist being risen up unto very great strength and cruelty. King Edward the third himself being well learned and a valiant Prince greatly withstood popery: he much favoured and defended Wickliffe, so did diverse Noble men, in so much that Master Wickliffe and others openly preaching against the Church of Rome, the Pope & his prelates doing what they could, were not able to hurt him. After the death of King Edward, he was greatly supported by the Londoners: and so escaped the hands of his adversaries, still proclaiming the holy and heavenly doctrine of the Gospel against the Romish Antichrist. It pleased God by his preaching, and by his books to give light unto many in the land. Sundry were put to death, of whom the Lord Cobham was one, and diverse fled out of the land, because they would not deny the truth which they had learned from him. That popish Council of Constance 41 years after his death, condemning his doctrine, caused his bones to be digged up and burned. And as Wickliffe's doctrine took place here in England and spread far, so were some of his works caried into Bohemia, where they did more prevail, for about the year 1410 John Husse, who taught in Bohemia, with diverse others the holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, which a multitude zealously embraced, & thereupon renounced the Church of Rome, was cited to appear before the Pope, which he avoided. And about the yeare 1414 he was charged again to appear at Rome, then was he excommunicated, and much molestation followed, but he continued a constant witness of Christ, and openly impugned the Romish Synagogue until the Council of Constance, where he was condemned as an heretic and burned.
In the same Council also Jerome of Prague, a worthy servant of Christ in resisting the Romish harlot, was condemned and then burned. These men were put to death, but Antichrist and all his power could not root out the Gospel in Bohemia. God raised them up a valiant Captain, John Zisca, and they put to flight great armies of the Papists that came against them. I will not stand to shew what persecutions followed about this time in England, and what a number were vexed, and many put to death: they called them at that time Lollards. Come down lower: When the Romish prelates had now long persecuted, and seemed to have rooted out with fire and sword almost all the professors and preachers of the Gospel, the Lord raised up new witnesses, men famously learned and godly. Among these Viselus Gromingensis, who died in the year 1490 which is now an hundred and three years past: he was so worthy a man, that he was called Lux mundi, that is, the light of the world. He disputed mightily and boldly against Popery, and proved their doctrine false and wicked, and that the Popes keyes do not open but shut heaven's gates.
In the year 1500 Hieronimus Savonarola a Monk in Italy, with two other Friars named Dominike, and Silvester, were condemned to death at Florence. They taught and maintained against the Pope and the popish doctrine, the things which we do now. These faithful witnesses were not fruitless, as may appear by the persecutions and murderings which followed after them in diverse places. In the reign of King Henry the seventh, lived Johannes Picus the Earle of Mirandula: he was but 32 years old when he died, and yet of great learning. He made open challenge at Rome to dispute with any, against sundry points of popery: The popish prelates would not dispute, but did article against him touching suspicion of heresy. We are now come down within a very few years of the time that God raised up his worthy servant Martin Luther, and then together with him sundry others to pull down Antichrist, and to deliver his poor Church from grievous thraldom and miserable bondage, so that I need not to proceed any further. We may see by this that I have noted, that the Lord ever had some faithful witnesses which withstood the Romish Antichrist, and taught the truth to his people. Thus much then touching that one thing that the Lord had always some faithful ministers of his Gospel, even in the depth of popery.
That he speaketh of so small a number of witnesses: we are taught
thereby not to depend upon the greater multitude in the ministry, but
upon those which purely teach the truth, and lead a godly life
agreeable to the same following the steps of Christ and his Apostles.
The Papists brag much of their multitudes and would thereby oppress the
faithful ministers of Christ as being few in number. Some are much
troubled at the same: but what if the devil and Antichrist have two
thousand servants, for every two true servants of the Lord? are they
the less to be regarded? was not one Elias,
being one true Prophet of God, better than four hundred false Prophets
of Baal? Be not troubled, be
not dismayed when it shall be objected. these be but few against many,
but look to the way of truth and sound godliness, look which have the
right on their side. The malignant Church often times have exceeding
many goodly prelates, when the true Church seemeth to be almost utterly
banished out of the earth. The truth of God dependeth not upon the
multitude of the voives of men, which conspire together. It is said
further that these two witnesses shall prochecy a thousand two hundred
and sixty days clothed in sackcloth. This setteth forth the apparell of
Christ's ministers. In old time when men did fast and mourn dolefully,
they did use to put on sackcloth. This prophecy speaking mystically and
under figures is not to be taken here according to the letter, that the
true witnesses of Christ, even his faithful preachers shall all the
time of AntiChrist be clothed in sacke: but that indeed they shall have
a sorrowful life here upon the earth, yea so full of grief and
lamentation, as if they did always fast and mourn. A very good place to
stand a little upon, to note the difference between the true ministers
of Christ, and the wicked pompous AntiChristian prelates. Begin with
the Prophets in the time of the law. They were sent of the Lord to
rebuke all estates, & to reclaim them from their wicked ways. When
they saw how stiffnecked the people were, and how rebelliously they
despised the counsels of the Lord: When they were hated and persecuted,
what was their life but a continual sorrow? what could they do but
mourn from day to day? And how mean were they then in the eyes of the
world? were they in pomp and jolity? No verily, for with them it was as
if they had always been clothed in sacke. When other men did solace and
sport themselves, they did lament and sorrow. What should I speak of
the glorious Apostles of our Saviour Jesus Christ? what was the
whole life of that chosen vessel Paul,
after he was called to preach the Gospel? The history of the Acts of
the Apostles sheweth his life. Shall we think that Peter found any better
entertainment then he did? Was James,
or John, or any of the rest
in outward jolity? we are sure they were not. Then leave them, and come
down to those that succeeded, and especially in the time of AntiChrist,
and what shall we find but men clothed in sacke? God did manifest his
truth unto them; and raised them up, and appointed them to be his
witnesses. They did lay open the way of life, and reprove the whorish
Babylon, and all abominable vices. Their word, & their testimony
which they bare was despised, & condemned almost of all men, even
as heresy. All that gave credit to the same, were deemed rank heretics.
They were cruelly persecuted, accursed, and murdered. They saw the
wicked flourish. They saw idolatry, superstition, and errors most
abominable, set up and maintained, and the worship and glory of God
trodden down. They saw the people seduced by the great Antichrist,
sitting in the temple of God, & led by leapers into hell. Alas what
could they find but sorrow & grief of heart? how could they now but
be clothed in sacke? how could they but mourne and lament? Then look
upon the contrary side, the Pope & his Cardinals, his great
prelates & Clergy masters, were they clothed in sacke, were they in
bitter grief and sorrow? Nay they have been with pomp, and pride, and
outward glory arrayed in all precious costly things like to the Princes
of the earth: as with gold, silver, pearles, precious stones, silks,
scarlet, purple, and with all fine clothing. They lived in all
pleasures & delicacy, feeding upon all the fattest things,and
sweetest that might be gotten for money. Here we see then a very great
difference between these, and the true and faithful witnesses of Christ
clothed in sacke. The histories of those times do shew, what great
complaints there were of the pride and excess of the Popish Clergy. And
now what shall we say for our time? Doubtless the true ministers of the
Lord have no cause to give themselves to the mirth, the jolity, and
bravery of the world. But there is cause still, yea even in these days
to be clothed in sacke: that is, to lament and mourn. For how do we see
the voice of God despised? how is his glory defaced, the proud
magnified, & vanity extolled? Alas there is cause of great mourning
to all that love the Lord, & we are not to think that it will be
better. If we therefore will approve our selves to be the Lord's
faithful witnesses, we must not seek the pomp, the riches, the
pleasures, the ease, and the delicacy of this world: let those things
alone for the ministers of AntiChrist, whose belly is their God, which
mind earthly things: but we must painfully labour to advance the truth,
to pull down errors and wicked vices: we must lament and mourn to see
the truth so much despised, the Lord our God so highly dishonored, and
men running headlong to destruction. Then shall we please God, and our
ministry shall be blessed. Thus much for this time.