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attack is upon the Christian Church; under the Vials, upon the enemies of that Church. For it is clear, from the first Vial to the last, that the anger of the Lord is poured out, not on the Church, but on its foes. The first Vial falls expressly on the worshippers of the beast; and the third is declared to be a just retaliation on the murderers of the saints; the fourth falls on unrepentant blasphemers; the fifth is poured on the throne of the beast ; and the last on the corrupt cities and Babylon. Therefore the land, and sea, and waters, and heavenly luminary, on which the four first Vials fall, are not to be accounted the very same, against which the Trumpets sounded warfare; but a land, sea, &c. bearing just analogy to them. Those, under the Trumpets, are the land, sea, &c. of the Christian world: Those under the Vials, of the antichristian. For the antichristian world · has its divisions, as Mede has observed, which will answer to those of the Christian world. If the Land, of the Christian world, signifies the ancient worshippers of God, there are also the ancient worshippers of the beast. If the Sea, among Christians, represent their distant Gentile converts; the worshippers of the beast have also their Sea, the newly acquired converts to their superstitions or infidelity. Both Christianity and antichristianity have their rivers and springs of Doctrine, and their Lights. By this kind of analogy, it seems probable that the Vials, especially the four first of them, are to be interpreted. If the pure Christian Church has been seen to suffer in its several parts
and divisions, by the seven-fold warfare of its enemies, those enemies shall not enjoy a joyful and bloodless victory; the Providence of God will interfere; and they will suffer by corresponding strokes, jastly proportioned. But, though each Vial may seem to answer
to each Trumpet; either in the part or division attacked, or in the effect of the attack; yet in point of time, they do not seem to range exactly against each other: each corresponding Trumpet and Vial does not appear to belong to the same period of history: for, the history under the Vials is confined (as before shewn) to the times of the beast; while the Trumpets appear to have an earlier date and origin: Indeed, all the Vials seem to have their rise out of one of the Trumpets, namely, the last; and therefore may be supposed to be confined to the history which that Trumpet comprehends. That Trumpet does indeed look so far back, as to the conflict of the dragon with the infant Church; but only by way of prolude; and in order to lay the foundation of the main subject of the prophecy, namely, the conflict of the antichristian beast with the Church. The vials seem to run the whole length of this important warfare.
The four first Vials, like the four first Trumpets, are of so very short and general a description, as not to encourage or justify a very minute application of them to particular passages in history * They will be found to have been generally fulfilled.
The first produces a noisome sore on the worshippers of the beast. This plague derives its figurative description, from the boil and blain inflicted by Divine vengeance on the Ægyptian persecutors of the ancient Church f. As they, in their impious attempts to opposé the God of heaven, felt his Almighty hand grievous upon them, to controul and punish; so, in the early attempts, made by the antichristian powers under the beast, to stifle pure Religion, they had difficulties to encounter, where they least expected them; and which
* See note, ch. viii. 7.
4 Exod. ix. 10.
were to be surmounted only by their own sufferings. God did not permit them to enjoy during that generation their expected triumph.
The second Vial produces blood, which, mixing with the sea, corrupts it. Blood, in Scriptural language, is a pollution and abomination; and from a dead carcase, heinously such * The sea, the isles, the distant nations of the antichristian world, those who by terror or force were made converts, (as were some of the nations of the north to popery, of the south to mahometism,) forsaking their idols, worship the God of
aven ;-but not in purity;—so polluted is the worship, as not to save, but to destroy by spiritual death. Under the second Trumpet, which corresponds in some respects with this Vial, a third part dies; that is, a third of the Christians. There is a considerable part, who by the Grace of God escape spiritual death. Here, all die; and so also under the rest of the plagues; but the sealed Christian is not touched by these visitations. --Thus also under the plagues of Ægypt, “they, who fear the “ Lord,” have the privilege of escape f.
The third Vial is discharged also upon the waters : not upon the sea; but upon those waters which feed both land and sea; upon the sources of comfort, especially of religious comfort, to both I. These sources of spiritual nourishment becoine blood . Instead of the “living “ waters, flowing out into everlasting lifel,” they who reject,oppose,or oppress the Christian Religion, generally receive in the lieu thereof a burdensome and uncomfortable yoke of superstitious folly. This has been ever the case with Christian apostates, and particularly so in the
* Lam. iv. 14. Lev. v. 2. Numb. v. 2. + Exod. ix. 4. 20, 26; X. 23. See note, ch. viii. 10. 11. See the preceding Vial,
John iv. 10; vii. 37, 38.
great apostacies, the Mahometan and the Papal. There may be allusion likewise to the blood shed by these cruel fanatics, wlio in their bigoted rage slew millions of the saints; and then turned their arms upon their own brethren, wallowing in blood. The bloody wars, which raged between the Saracens and Turks and Tartars, and between the popes and western emperors; between the parties denominated Guelphs and Ghibelines; and the deadly contests between the two great antichristian divisions, the Papal and Mahometan, in the crusades, seem to have amply fulfilled this bloody prophecy.
The fourth Vial is poured on the great heavenly luminary, the Sun *. A similar stroke under the corresponding Trumpet, had produced darkness and igno
But there is a further progress, insomuch as the deprivation of the light of true Religion produces also religious feuds and animosities which are found to rage most bitterly in the persecuting party, ever most deficient in the knowledge and practice of what is good and true.
The fifth angel pours his Vial on “the throne of “ the beast;" on his chief seat of empire and dominion. Pergamus, at the time of the vision, was declared “the " throne of satan t:" and satan, or the dragon, gave his throne to the beast I. But at this period, the beas by the ministry of the false prophet, had greatly extended his dominion, and his capital seat was elsewhere. He had now a vast two-fold empire; under the two horns of antichrist. But “ his kingdom becomes “ darkened.” During the antichristian reign, there has been a long and dark age; an age of deplorable ignorance and superstition. The fanatical disciples of Mahomet, at their first outset, forbade the cultivation of all
See note, ch. viii. 12.
+ Ch. ii. 13. N N 2
ICh. xiii. 2.
learning, learning, except that which is contained in the book of their false prophet. The papal usurpers encouraged only monkish dreams and lying legends, and scholastic quibbles; and prohibited the free and general use of the fountains of knowledge; the Sacred Scriptures. This operated not only as a great hindrance to the cause of Christianity, (represented under the corresponding Trumpet,) but also as a wangu, an inflicted punishment upon the wicked authors and abettors of this spiritual ignorance; men who “ loved darkness better than “ light, because their deeds were evil.” For as “they “ who love silver, shall not be satisfied with silver* ;" so they who love darkness, cannot be satisfied therewith. It recoils upon them, and torments t.
The sixth Vial is poured out on the great ricer Euphrates, which is dried up, to prepare the way of the kings, who come from the east, or sun-rising. Euphrates is the river on which stood Babylon, the enemy and corrupter of God's ancient Church 1. And as Babylon is used, symbolically, to represent the corrupt Christian, or, to speak more justly, antichristian Church; so Euphrates may represent that region : or, having been the grand boundary, in ancient times, between those countries generally connected together
* Eccl. v, 10.
+ We have before us a modern instance of this truth. The extinction of Christianity in France, so far as it could be accomplished, was the most unwise policy which its intaluated rulers could have devised; that which afforded them the greatest embarrassment, and involved them in the utmost danger. To this cause is to be attributed the most formidable of their rebellions; and so far as their mad devices took place, they undermined and eradicated in the ninds of the subjects those principles which render them most governable. This was written about the year 1795. Note, ch. ix. 3.