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by Dr. John Thomas
They were to lie dead and unburied "upon the broad way (ejpi; th`" plateiva") of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified".
Jesus was put to death in Judea; but then Judea was a Roman province at the time, and therefore a part of "the great city"; for all the Roman provinces were regarded merely as an extension of Rome which ruled over them, inasmuch as the Roman city was made co-extensive with the empire by the edict of Caracalla.
This empire, then, as a whole, is figuratively designated by the Spirit as Sodom and Egypt -- as Sodom, because of its filthiness, and as Egypt, because of its darkness; and as Sodom and Egypt conjointly, because the fate of Sodom awaits Rome, and the judgments of Egypt, the nations that acknowledge its spiritual dominion.
The ten horns of the Roman Dragon are ten parts of this great city; the most ample of which, as will be seen by consulting a map of the Roman empire, is the realm of France.
It is, therefore, styled "the broad way" by the Spirit.
Here the witnesses received their death blow, which was speedily followed by their political death in all other parts of the great city.
Though politically dead the witnesses were still visible, or unburied.
The democracy and the Calvinists still existed in France; and democracy and dissent in England, where thousands of the Huguenots found refuge; but in all countries of the beast they were at zero in political affairs.
In their exile from Europe, multitudes found an asylum in the American wilderness.
There they mingled with their brethren, whose progenitors had expatriated themselves from Britain to escape the galling yoke of Church and State Toryism which was carrying itself with a high hand.
Thus, by the tyranny of the beast, liberty and democracy were crushed in Europe, and simultaneously planted in American soil.
But even there the witnesses were not permitted to rest, for they lived in the other hemisphere, though dead in this.
Home tyranny claiming the fight to tax the unrepresented, the descendants of the Puritans and Huguenots resisted, and refused to pay.
A profligate and extortionate government goaded them into insurrection, by which they became entitled to the honourable distinction of "rebels," and by their success, to that of "patriots".
The struggle was between might and right.
An arbitrary government demanded tribute, and an ignorant clergy tithes; and the democracy, religious and secular, gave them lead and steel.
This was the old fashion in which they had been accustomed to "devour their enemies" during their 1,260 years' contest with the beast.
But the conflict was unequal; and but for the suicidal policy of one of its horns, the witnesses would have again been overcome.
The liberty-hating, and the heretic-slaying, Bourbons sent a fleet and army to enable "liberty, equality and fraternity" to triumph in America!
Not that they hated sectarianism and democracy less than formerly, but that they hated England more.
La Fayette and his companions, though scions of nobility, became the sons of freedom.
Britain was check-mated; and the model republic founded, and acknowledged by all the horns of the beast.
There, then, beyond the broad waters of the mighty deep, the tree of liberty, planted by the two prophets of human rights, spreads its ample and expanding branches, affording shade and shelter for the persecuted and oppressed of all nations, who may be fortunate enough to escape the "great iron teeth" and "brazen claws" of the all-devouring monster of the sea.