But the court which is without the temple leave out, and
measure it not
The allusion is to the court of the Israelites, where was the great crowd and company of worshippers, even the national church of the Jews, called by Ezekiel the outer court, ( Ezekiel 42:14 ) ( Ezekiel 46:21 ) , and which was measured in ( Ezekiel 42:20 ) ; but this must not be measured: this designs not the visible church apostatized, as succeeding the pure, primitive, and apostolical church, or the apostate church of Rome, antichrist and his followers, for these are meant by the Gentiles, to whom this outward court is given; this outward court, or the worshippers in it, intend a distinct set of worshippers from the internal worshippers, the priests of God in the temple, altar, and inner court, and from the Gentiles, the Papists; and are no other than carnal Protestants, the bulk of the reformed churches, who have only the name, but not the nature of living Christians, have a form of godliness, but deny its power, are Jews outwardly, but not inwardly, and worship only in an external manner, attend to outward forms and ceremonies, but know nothing of true doctrine, pure worship, or spiritual religion; and which are very numerous, as the worshippers in the outward court were: now these, upon a new measuring and regulating of the churches, are ordered to be left, or cast out, and not taken into the dimensions of the Gospel church; these were to be separated from, and have been, and not to be admitted members of regular and orderly constituted churches, and which is here reckoned a sort of casting of them out; the reason of which follows;
for it is given unto the Gentiles;
by whom are meant the Papists, who are no other than Paganized Christians, having introduced a great deal of Gentilism into the divine service; as the worshipping of the virgin Mary, angels, and saints departed, which is in imitation of the demon worship of the Heathens; as also the dedication of their churches to saints, their saints' days, divers festivals, and many other rites and ceremonies, are plainly of Pagan original; and therefore they may very well be called by this name: now it seems by these words that the bulk of the reformed churches, the crowd of outward court worshippers, will be gained, over to the Popish party, and fall off to the church of Rome, to which their doctrines and practices are plainly verging; the pope of Rome, as low a condition as he now is in, will be set "in status quo", before his utter destruction; he will regain all his former dominions, and be in possession of them at the time of his ruin; the whore of Rome, the antichristian Babylon, will sit as a queen, and promise herself a great deal of peace and pleasure, the inward court worshippers and witnesses being slain, and she restored to all her former power and grandeur; when in one day, on a sudden, her destruction will come upon her, when the term of the beast's reign will be expired, mentioned in the next clause:
and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty [and] two
by "the holy city" is meant all the kingdoms of Europe, or what has, been called Christendom, the western empire as Christian, the main seat of the Christian religion, or all the churches styled Christian, and so called in allusion to Jerusalem, which bears this name, ( Matthew 4:5 ) ; and which was still of a far larger extent than the outward court: the "treading" of this "underfoot" does not barely design possessing of it, or worshipping in the same place, as the phrase of treading in the courts does in ( Isaiah 1:12 ) ; but a tyrannical power over it, and a wasting, spoiling, and destroying it, in allusion to Jerusalem being trodden under foot, wasted, and destroyed by the Gentiles or the Romans, ( Luke 21:24 ) ; and the duration of this tyrannical and oppressive reign will be forty and two months; see ( Revelation 13:5 ) , which being reduced to years, make just three years and a half: but then this date cannot be understood strictly and literally; for such a term can never be sufficient for the whore's reign, who was to rule over the kings of the earth, and all nations were to drink of the wine of her fornication: this is too short a time for her to gain so much power, honour, and riches in, as the 13th, 17th, and 18th chapters of this book show, as well as too short for the afflictions and persecutions of the saints by her; wherefore this must be understood prophetically of so many months of years; and a month with the Chaldeans consisting of thirty days, and a year of 360 days, which account Daniel used, and John after him, forty two months, reckoning a day for a year, after the prophetic style, make 1260 years; which is the exact time of the witnesses prophesying in sackcloth, of the church's being hid and nourished in the wilderness, and of the beast's reign, and so of the holy city being trodden under foot. Now this date is not to be reckoned from the outer court being given to the Gentiles, but from the first of antichrist's reign, when the pope of Rome was declared universal bishop; and is only here mentioned to show, that the giving of the outward court to his Gentiles will be towards the expiration of this date.