The Two Witnesses in Prophecy

The Two Witnesses in Prophecy--No. 2

Part two of our study of the two witnesses of Revelation.

By JEAN VUILLEUMIER, Veteran French Editor, Paris

The St. Bartholomew massacre began by the murder of Coligny. The historian, Samuel Smiles, continues:

"Firing was now heard in every quarter through­out Paris. The houses of the Huguenots, which had long been marked, were broken into, and men, women, and children were sabered or shot down. . . . The fugitives were slaughtered in the streets. . . . For three days the massacre continued. Corpses blocked the doorways ; mutilated bodies lay in every lane and passage; and thousands were cast into the Seine, then swollen by a flood. . . . These dreadful events in the capital were almost immedi­ately followed by similar deeds all over France. From fifteen to eighteen hundred persons were killed at Lyons, and the dwellers on the Rhone below that city were horrified by the sight of the dead bodies floating down the river. Six hundred were killed at Rouen, and many more at Dieppe and Havre. The numbers killed during the massacre throughout France have been variously estimated. Sully says 70,000 were slain, though other writers estimate the victims at i oo,000."—"The Huguenots," pp. 66, 67.

Who can deny that through these persecu­tions the Lord was a thousand times crucified by those who claimed to adore Him? The prophecy is explicit: "their Lord." But this was only a beginning.

Huguenot Martydom.—"One of the king's [Louis XIV] first acts, on assuming the supreme control of affairs. . . was significant of his future policy with regard to the Huguenots. . . . His minister Louvois wrote to the governors throughout the provinces that 'his majesty will not suffer any per­son in his kingdom but those who were of his religion ;' and orders were shortly after issued that Protestantism must cease to exist. . . . A series of edicts was accordingly published. . . . The kidnap­ing of Protestant children was actively set on foot. . . . Orders were issued to pull down the Protestant places of worship, and as many as eighty were shortly destroyed in one diocese."—Id., pp. 139-142.

"In 1683 . . . the military executions began. Pity, terror, and anguish had by turns agitated the minds of the Protestants, until at length they were reduced to a state almost of despair. . . . All careers were closed against them, and Protestants of the working class were under the necessity of abjuring or starving. . . . There were massacres in the Viverais, and massacres in the Cevennes. . . . Cruel­ties followed all over France."—Id., pp. 45-147.

Those of the Huguenots who had not left the kingdom were interdicted to emigrate, and the heads of families who were found attempting to emigrate were condemned to the galleys for life.

"To escape their tormentors, the reformed fled into the woods, the wilderness, and the caverns of the Pyrenees. They were pursued like wild beasts."—Id., p. 148. Page 22.

 Suicide of a Great Nation. —What fear­ful account the French nation, led by its clergy, was preparing itself to render by thus crucifying their Lord, will now be seen.

"The emigration gave a deathblow to several great branches of French industry. Hundreds of manufactories were closed, whole villages were de­populated, many large towns half deserted, and a large extent of land went altogether out of cultiva­tion."—/d., p. 169.

"With the great men of the first half of Louis XIV's reign, the intellectual greatness of France disappeared for nearly a century. The Act of Revo­cation of 1685 cut the history of his reign in two: everything before, nothing after. . . . The same barrenness fell upon literature... With Pascal,  a man as remarkable for his piety as for his genius, expired in 1662 the last free utterance of the Roman Catholic Church in France. . . . After this period, we seem to tread a dreary waste in French history. True loyalty became extinguished, and even patri­otism seemed to have expired. Literature, science, and the arts almost died out, and there remained a silence almost as of the grave, broken only by the noise of the revelries at court, amid which there rose up, from time to time, the ominous wailings of the gaunt and famishing multitude. . .

"The church in France had grown immensely rich by the property of the Protestants which was transferred to it, as well as by royal grants and private benefactions. So far as money went, it had the means and the power of doing all that it would in molding the mind and conscience of the French nation. The clergy held in their hands one fifth of the whole landed property of the whole country,. estimated to be worth about £I6o,000,000 ; and at­tached to these lands were the serfs whom they continued to hold as such until the Revolution.

''And now let us see what was the outcome of the action of this church, so rich and so powerful. . . The result was utter emptiness. . . . The church which had claimed and obtained the sole control of the religious education of France saw itself assailed by its own offspring—desperate, ignorant, and so ferocious that in some places they even seized the priests, and indecently scourged them in front of their own altars. . . .

"The corrupt, self-condemned institution became a target for the wit of Voltaire and the encyclopedic philosophy of Diderot. It was next assailed by the clubs of Marat, Danton, and Robespierre. Then the unfed, untaught, desperate victims of centuries of oppression and misguidance rose up almost as one man, and cried, 'Away with it'--Ecrasez l'Infame [Crush the wretch]. The churches were attacked and gutted, as those of the Huguenots had been a century before. The church bells were cast into can­non, the church plate coined into money ; and at length Christianity itself was abolished by the Convention, who declared the supreme people to be the only God !

"The Roman Catholic clergy, who had so long witnessed the persecutions of the Huguenots, were now persecuted in their turn by their own flocks. Many of them were guillotined; others, chained to­gether as the Huguenots had been, were sent prison­ers to Rochelle and the Isle of Aix. As a body of them passed through Limoges, on their way to the galleys, they encountered a procession of asses clothed in priests' dresses, a mitered sow marching at their head. Some 400 priests lay riding in Aix roads, where the Huguenot galley slaves had been before them. . . Such was the real outcome of the Act of Revocation of Louis the Great—sans-culot­tism and the Reign of Terror! There was no longer the massacre and banishment of Huguenots, but there was the guillotining and banishment of the successors of the priests whom Louis had set up." Id., pg. 342-347.

France had thus truly stumbled into the "abyss" of irreligion and anarchy dug by her own hands. And now the "plague" of dearth and famine is staring her in the face.

Reign of Terror and the Dragonnades.---The great body of the people had become reduced to abso­lute destitution. They had no possession whatever but their misery. They were literally dying of hunger. The bishop of Chartres told Louis XV that in his diocese the men browsed like sheep. For want of food, they filled their stomachs with grass. The dragoons, who had before been employed to hunt down the Huguenots because of their attending reli­gious meetings, were now employed on a different duty. They were stationed in the market places where meat was exposed for sale, to keep back the famishing people. In Paris alone, there were zoo,- 000 beggars prowling about, with sallow faces, lank hair, and hung in rags.

In 1789, crowds of them were seen hovering about the Palais Royal—spectral-looking men and starving women, delirious from fasting. Some were said not to have eaten for three whole days. The women wandered about like hungry lionesses, for they had children. One Foulon, a member of the king's council, on being told of the famine endured by the people, said—'Wait till I am minister : I will make them eat hay ; my horses eat it.' The words were bitterly avenged. The hungry mob seized Foulon, hanged him a la lanterne [on the lamppost], and carried his head about the streets, his mouth filled with hay.

"From the provinces, news came that starving helots were everywhere rising, burning down the chateaus of the nobles, tearing up their title deeds, and destroying their crops. On these occasions, the church bells were rung by way of tocsin, and the population of the parish turned out to the work of destruction. Seventy-two chateaus were wrecked and burnt in the Maconnais and Beaujolais alone, and the conflagration spread through Dauphiny, Alsace, and the Lyonnais—the very quarters from which the Huguenots had been so ferociously driven out a century before. . . .

"The dragonnades of the Huguenots became re­peated in the noyades of the Royalists; and again ' Nancy, Lyons, Rouen, Bordeaux, Montauban, and numerous other places, witnessed a repetition of the cruelties of the preceding century. At Nantes, where the famous Edict of Toleration, afterward revoked, was proclaimed, the guillotine was worked until the headsman sank exhausted ; and to hasten matters, a general fusillade in the plain of Saint Mauve followed, of men, women, and children."—Id., pp. 347--349.

At the end of the eighteenth century, the "beast," that is, the French nation, having reached the bottom of the "abyss," was now ready to "come up out of" it with a violence that shook the whole country like an "earth­quake," precipitating a throne that had stood for ten centuries.

"It fared still worse with Louis XVI and his beautiful, queen Marie Antoinette. They were the most illustrious victims of the barbarous policy of Louis XIV, That monarch had sowed the wind, and they reaned the whirlwind. A mob of starving men and women, the offspring of the great king, burst in upon Louis and his consort at Versailles, shouting, 'Bread! bread!' They were very different from the plumed and garlanded courtiers, accus­tomed to worship in these gilded salons, and by no means so obsequious. The royal family tried to escape, as the Huguenots had done before them, across the frontier into Germany. But in vain. The king's own highway was closed against him; and the fugitives were led back to Paris and the guillotine.

We think we are justified in saying that, but for the persecution and expulsion of the Huguenots at the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, in 1685, the Revolution of 1789 most probably never would have occurred. The Protestants supplied that enter­prising and industrious middle class which gives stability to every state. Moreover, they furnished that virtuous and religious element in society with­out which a nation id but as so much chaff that is driven before the wind. Faith in God and in good died out; religion, as represented by the degenerate priesthood, fell into contempt; and the reign of ma­terialism and atheism began. Frightful distress at length culminated in revolution and anarchy! . . . The imposture erected by the great Louis was as­sailed on all sides, and king, church, and nobility were at once swept away." (Italics mine.)

"Never," says Duruy, "had there been a larger number of prophets sounding the alarm of a more terrible upheaval." Michelet adds: "When at the end of time, the Revolution burst out, it was an immense commotion . . caused. by untold, infinite influences working from the bottom of the ages."—"Histairae la Revolution," Vol. I, p. 10

III. Final Onslaught on Bible (Rev. 11:7-13)

Two Witnesses Put to Death—Bible Burned—Religion Proscribed.—"When they shall have fin­ished their [forbidden, proscribed] testimony, the beast that cometh up out of the abyss shall make war with them, and overcome them, and kill them." Verse 7.

On August 5, 1793, the republican calendar was adopted by a vote of the Convention. The Christian Era was abolished, and the weekly cycle replaced by the decade. The same year was called year II of the republic. On No­vember 7 the worship of Reason was in­augurated at the Convention. During the following days, a crowd of priests, Protestant ministers, and Jewish rabbis publicly abjured their faith, bringing with them at the Con­vention the gold and silver ornaments of their churches.

On November to, by decree the general Council of the Commune ordered the celebra­tion of the worship of Reason at Notre Dame cathedral. On the evening of the same day, this ridiculous parody was repeated at the Convention, the deity being represented by an opera actress. The society of the museum entered the council hall bearing a burning book on top of a spike, shouting that the pious books of the Catholic Church "as well as the OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS, had just expiated, in a great bonfire on the square of the Temple of Reason, all the foolery they had caused the human race to commit." This stupid parody was propagated to all points of the country. On November 21 another impious orgy took place at the Convention. Dubois, orator of a Deputation, exclaimed:

"Reason has won a great victory over fanaticism. A religion of error and blood has been annihilated. . . . During eighteen centuries, it has brought only evil into the world, and they called it divine ! . . The crusades against the Waldenses and the Albi­genses, the massacre of the Saint Bartholomew—such are her work and her trophies. LET IT DISAPPEAR FROM THE FACE OF THE EARTH, . . . WE SWEAR (all present raising the hand) TO HAVE NO OTHER WORSHIP THAN THAT OF REASON, LIBERTY, EQUALITY, AND THE REPUBLIC."

The following unanimous shout rang from all parts of the building: "WE SWEAR TO IT! Long live the republic!" The speech and oath were greeted with universal joy.

"President Laloi answered the deputation: 'IN AN INSTANT, EIGHTEEN CENTURIES HAVE BEEN CONSIGNED TO OBLIVION. . . . THE ASSEMBLY ACCEPTS YOUR OATH IN THE NAME OF THE NATION.' All voices : 'WE SHALL KEEP IT.' One member asked that all the speeches and all the details of the proceedings be published and sent to all the departments. . . All the propositions were passed and ordered."—Le Moniteur Universel (official journal), Nov. 22, 1793.

A letter from Rochefort, published in the same Mortiteur, reported that from 5,000 to 6,000 so-called pious books had been destroyed in the same way. Similar scenes were re­peated in all parts of the country. Among the mass of religious books consigned to the flames were Bibles and New Testaments. On November 23, following a violent speech from Chaumette, the Council passed the following decree:

"1st. Let All the Churches and Temples of All Religions and Cults That Have Existed in Paris Be Closed At Once.; ad. Let all priests or ministers of any cult whatsoever be considered as personally and individually responsible for any trouble arising of a religious character."

"Their dead bodies lie in the street of the great city.  . . And from among the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations do men look upon their dead bodies three days and a half, and suffer not their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb." Verse 9.

The present tense used here seems to indi­cate the breathless amazement of true Chris­tians at the ghastly spectacle of a nation, seized with a fit of impious rage, openly and officially defying God. In Europe and in America, believers rushed to their Bibles, and began to study the prophecies relating to the last days. Revivals took place, and a general conviction took hold of the people that the end of the world was at hand. Lavater, the Zurich preacher and poet, exclaimed: "0 France! shall not thine example be a warning to us all!" To Burke, the English statesman, these events seemed an "ulcer threatening the cor­ruption and decomposition of society." Be­lievers in all nations were rising in defense of the sacred Book and of the worship of the true God.

"They that dwell on the earth rejoice over them, and make merry; and they shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwell on the earth." Verse to.

On the other hand, the multitude of scoffers and reprobates in the same lands were ju­bilant, and felt encouraged in their rebellion against the God of heaven. Joseph de Maistre, a Catholic writer, spoke of the "ecstasy with which the German professors and the parasite scoundrels over all Europe were applauding to the Parisian aberration."

Thus, all social and moral barriers were broken down. Unbridled license reigned su­preme. Family ties were torn to shreds. Society was tottering like a drunken man. The French nation was rushing toward de­struction. Unknown to the Christian world, prophecy was being fulfilled in a startling manner. ________________ To be concluded in July

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By JEAN VUILLEUMIER, Veteran French Editor, Paris

June 1940

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