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by Dr. John Thomas
They "contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints" against its blasphemies; and advocated the liberty of the truth, the equality of the faithful, and the fraternity of the children of God.
This brought down upon them the hatred and revenge of the Popes, who stirred up all the horns of the beast against them, as it is written, "He made war upon them, and overcame them, and killed them".
Daniel speaks of "the saints" and of "the people of the saints".
I apprehend that there is the same distinction to be drawn here as between "a Jew inwardly" and "a Jew outwardly".
"The saints" is a term which includes them both; even as "Israel" includes both the natural and the believing seed of Abraham.
Because a person is one of the saints it does not therefore follow that he is a righteous man.
This is clear from the fact that the twelve tribes as a company of nations are termed "the Lord's witnesses"; concerning whom He says, "This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise".
They are styled "a holy nation," or a nation separated from all other nations by a divine constitution, by which they are made the people of God.
Now this "holy nation" has proved itself to be "a stiffnecked and perverse race"; nevertheless, it is "holy," or separate, on the same principle that the temple, Jerusalem, the land, etc., are holy.
But pagan nations are sometimes termed holy, or sanctified.
Hence, the Lord says, "I have commanded my sanctified ones, I have also called my mighty ones for mine anger, etc. They come from a far country, from the end of heaven, even the Lord and the weapons of his indignation to destroy the whole land".
This is from a prophecy against Chaldea.
These saints are declared to be the Medes and Persians, who were pagan nations associated together in the overthrow of the Babylonian dynasty.
"I will stir up the Medes against them, who shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it.
Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children".
A class of persons separated in the providence of God to execute any work for Him are His sanctified ones, irrespective of their moral relations to the gospel.
They are designated in scripture by various names.
They are styled witnesses, prophets, olive trees, candlesticks, as well as saints; because they are exercised in these several capacities.
They may have to bear witness for civil and religious liberty; to preach against the lion-mouth and his clergy; to stand forth as a lamp before God to enlighten the nations of the earth, etc. ; they may discharge all these functions, and yet be neither believers of the gospel of the kingdom, nor even "pious" as the term is.
This class of people may be found figuring largely in the history of all European nations.
They are the hostile party to the beast in all "religious wars," and wars for liberty against the despotism of popes, emperors, kings, and priests.
In these sanguinary wars their uniform has been sackcloth; yet they have devoured their enemies with fire and sword, and smitten the earth with all the plagues of war as often as they pleased.
With various fortune they have combated with the tyrants of the world.