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What is affliction? Affliction is all that that is contrary to one's will; thereby God eats out the core of our wills. Whensoever therefore you meet with any affliction, pray over it, and beg that God would eat out the core of your wills thereby : and the more the core of your wills is eaten out, the more willing will you be to suffer for the name of Jesus Christ.
And then to draw to a conclusion, that you may be willing to suffer for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, lay these things and this great revard wishly upon your hearts, and thereby you will be made more willing. You see how it is with a man that is going to court, he rides through this plash, and the other plash ; I am going to court, and there I shall be made a man, if I get but thither. Why, truly we are going to the court of the King of kings, and these sufferings that we meet, are the plashes by the way. But christians there is enough in heaven to pay for all. Luther said, Let him be miserable, that can be miserable. So you that suffer for the name of Christ, you cannot be miserable, Christ hath pronounced you blessed, and you shall be blessed: and you see what a reward here is in the text, “ An hundred fold in this life, and in the world to come life everlasting.”
I shall only say, this is the parting speech, there is no loss in losing for Jesus Christ; whatsoever you do lose for Christ, you shall find it infinitely in Christ: Christ and a little, is a great deal. The only way to have a mercy, is to be content to go without it. And the only way to prevent a misery, is to be willing to endure it. Now therefore, if you would prevent suffering, be willing to suffer for the name of Jesus Christ.
And thus you see what the means are to be made willing. And so I have done with this answer of Christ. In this part of the answer you see how we may be made willing to suffer for Christ; and on the cautional part, some of you heard how we should so order our sufferings, as that they might turn to a good account.
Now, “ Ile that hath ears to hear, let him kear.”
THE TWO WITNESSES, THEIR TESTIMONY.
" And I will give power unto my two witnesses,” &c. Rev. xi. 3.
“And I will give power unto my two witnesses ;" that is, unto the inner court, and those that worship there, spoken of before. The whole church of God under the name of the temple, speaking in the Jewish language.
The whole church of God under the name of a temple is divided into the outer and the inner court. The inner court is measured, and the altar, and those that worship there, in verse 1.
The outward court is left out and given unto the gentiles, and they tread down the holy city forty and two months, verse 2. But, saith Christ, “ I will give power unto my two witnesses :" that is, unto the inner court, and those that were measured, of which he had spoken before,
Called witnesses. No sooner is the holy city trodden under foot by the gentiles, but Christ's witnesses do begin to bear their testimony to Christ.
The witnessing time is divided into three parts: A prophesying time. The time of their prophecy from the 3rd verse unto the seventh.
The slaying time, from the 3rd verse unto the 11th.
The rising time and restoring time, from the 11th verse unto the 14th. So that in this scripture that I have now read, you have the state of the church prophesying, or witnessing in the days of antichrist, called witnesses: who are here described,
By their number two. “ I will give power unto my two witnesses.”
By their work and office : “And they shall prophesy.”
By their mournful and sad habit and condition, and the time thereof, “They shall prophesy 1260 days clothed in sackcloth.”
By their quality. “ These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth,” verse 4.
By their guard and by their defence. “And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies," verse 5.
By the great things that they shall do in che latter end of their prophecy. “ These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy, and have power over waters to turn them into blood,” &c. So that now from all this, I take up this one observation :
Though the saints and faithful witnesses of Jesus Christ must lie in sackcloth 1260 days, or years, yet in that time they shall be very fruitful, and prophesy, and do great things in the end of those days.
For the clearing whereof five or six things will fall under our consideration.
First, Why the saints and people of God are called witnesses.
Secondly, What these witnesses are; more especially in respect of their number and quality.
Thirdly, How and in what respect they are clothed in sackcloth, and how long.
Fourthly, What this prophecy is, and how it comes to pass that they prophesy in the time of their sackcloth.
Fifthly, What is their defence and guard wherewith they are guarded and defended in the days of their prophecy.
Sixthly, What are the great things that they shall do in the latter end of their prophecy. I shall run through these particulars as briefly as I may, And,
First, If you ask why the saints and people of God are here called witnesses,
I answer, Because it is their work and business to bear witness to the truths and ways of Christ, in opposition to the ways of antichrist. If you look into this book of the Revelations, you will find they are so described, by bearing witness unto the ways and the truths of Christ, in opposition to the ways of antichrist. For look but a little into this hook, and you shall find that there are two sorts of people that are marked. The followers of the beast are marked, and the followers of the Lan.b are marked in their foreheads.
The followers of the beast are marked, in Rev. xiii. 16: “ And he caused all, both small and great, rich and poor,
free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads.”
The followers of the Lamb are marked in their foreheads too, chap. xiv. 1: “And I looked and lo a Lamb on the mount Zion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads." But now though the followers of the Lamb are thus marked with their Father's name written in their foreheads, yet their mark doth not only consist in something that is positive, but in “refusing the mark of the beast," Rev. xx. Why, but to shew thus much, that they are witnesses upon this account, because they do bear witness unto Christ, the truth and ways of Christ, in opposition to the ways of antichrist. Thus they are conformed unto Jesus Christ, who is the “True and the faithful witness," Rev. ii. “Write, these things saith the Amen,
. the true and faithful witness.” That is, Christ; Christ is the true and the faithful witness, and therefore those that are his, they must be witnesses too, that they may be conformed to him.
Thereby they also overcome, as you have it in Rev. xii. “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony.” They overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, by witness-bearing. So then, the saints and people of God, they are Christ's witnesses. In anti-christian times they are Christ's witnesses; and if they be thus described, why then should not we look unto this work especially, bearing of witness to the truths and
of Christ. This is the work that we are born for: For this cause, saith Christ, was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I might bear witness unto the truth.
This is the work of our generation, witness-bearing to the truths of Christ in opposition to the ways of antichrist, in anti-christian times. This is the work of our generation.
This is the work which there is a thousand years of glory and comfort promised unto above other things, as you read in Rev. xx.
This is the work, witness-bearing to the truths of Christ in opposition to the ways of antichrist, this is the work that hath the crown and name of martyrdom. A martyr, what is that but a witness ? Every witness more or less is a martyr.
We take the word only for them that die, but every witness is a martyr.
This is that work which sometimes is necessary to salvation. “ For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation,” Rom. x. 10. This is the work, I say, therefore, that sometimes is necessary unto salvation.
And this is that work which Jesus Christ will own and acknowledge before all the world. “ He that confesseth me before men, him will I confess before my Father and all the angels in heaven."
And if this be the great work, why should we not all of us look to this work especially, this witness-bearing?
You will say, What shall I do that I may be found faithful in this witness bearing; what shall I do that I may witness a good confession in these days of ours ?
Something by way of rule ; something by way of means : and yet not long, because I must pass on to other things.
Something by way of rule. Be sure that your testimonies do agree. Though there be a hundred witnesses about a business, if their witness does not agree it will be of little worth. And now so it is, Christ's witnesses this day are divided into many opinions and persuasions, but they may agree in the main for Christ, they may all agree in opposition unto antichrist. If that you would have your witness valid and good, labour, you that are the witnesses, for unity in your testimony. “There are three (saith the apostle John) that bear witness in heaven,” speaking of God's testifying of the truth of
grace : “ There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost :” these bear witness of Christ, and their witness is good. Why? “ For these Three are One," 1 John v. 7. And saith he at verse 8, “ There are three that bear witness on earth, the Spirit, and the water and the blood.” The Spirit: I come to know that I am the child of God by the testimony of the Spirit bearing witness with my spirit that I am the child of God. And I come to know that I am the child of God by the witness of water, by the testimony of sanctification. And I come to know that I am the child of God by the testimony of blood, by the testimony of my faith relying upon the blood of Christ. And these three agree; and these three agree in one. The