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poured out his vial upon the seat* of the beast: and his king dom became dark, and they gnawed their tongues for pain.
V. 11. “And they blasphemed the God of heaven, because of their pains and wounds, and did not penance for their works."
Here the angel pours out the fifth vial of the wrath of God on the seat of the beast, or rather, according to the Greek text, on the throne of the beast. We have observed in the prelude to the vials, see page 34, that the general term beast, has a double meaning, signifying idolatry or heresy, accordingly as either, like to a wild beast, makes its ravages in the Church. In the first and third ages it denoted idolatry, the subject of the history of those two ages. Here it is the image of heresy, the heresy of the reformation, the characteristic of the fifth age. Upon the throne therefore of this beast the vial is poured out, that is, upon the kings and goernors of the protestant states, as they are the persons that sit, vested with power, upon the thrones of those heretical king. doms. They, however, are themselves subordinate to their chief Abaddon, who, as was specified in the text of the trumpet, commands over all, and sits upon the throne as king paramount. The protestant states become, of course, involved with their princes in the calamities poured out from the vial, as we shall see presently.
But furthermore we may observe that, besides the single and general appellation of beast used here to express heresy, the prophet exhibits to us in the trumpet of this age a particular beast, by which he represents and describes the heresy of the reformation, namely, a locust-monster, which is partly locust, partly human, partly leonine, and partly scorpionic.
Besides the obvious propriety of the above explication or the vial, a further argument may be adduced in confirmation of it. Though the different prophecies of the Apocalypse are involved in obscurity, yet one may observe the inspired wri. ter generally throws in some glimpses of light to guide the solicitous inquirer. Thus may be remarked a fixed connexion between the trumpets of the different ages and the respective vials, of which we have already taken some notice. This consists in the use of the same expression in the trumpet and vial of the same age; which naturally leads us to the distinguishing of the object on which the vial is poured. This object, if not precisely the same as mentioned in the trumpet, it has at least a direct relation to it. In general, the vial has for
* In the Greek “the throne.”
object the guilty part which is to be punished, and which is at always pointed out in the trumpet. Examples will elucidate
the present observation. In the first trumpet it is said, that DX hail and fire, mixed with blood, were cast upon the earth.
In like manner the first vial was poured out upon the earth. bum The same term, the earth, occurring in both, indicates that,
as the trumpet described the persecutions exercised by the
Roman emperors and magistrates on the Christian part of the it earth, so these emperors and magistrates, who are the guilty
part of the earth, and plainly alluded to in the trumpet, are The object of punishment on which the vial is poured. After
the same manner, at the sounding of the second trumpet, a * great fiery mountain was cast into the sea : and the second
vial is also poured out upon the sea. From whence one may collect that, as Arianism, signified by the fiery mountain, infected a third part of the Christian sea; so upon the Arians, who are there exhibited as the guilty part of the sea, the vial is poured. Again, the third trumpet announced a great star, burning like a torch, falling upon the rivers and fountains of waters. In like manner the third vial is poured upon the rivers and fountains of waters. The trumpet here describes the desolation carried on by the barbarians through the guilty heathen Roman empire; therefore on this same empire is the vial poured. Lastly, at the sounding of the fourth trumpet the sun was smitten; and the fourth vial was also poured out upon the sun. The allegory, used here in the trumpet, denotes the schism of the Greeks; upon them, therefore, as the guilty, the vial is poured; or rather, it is poured on the instrument of the scourge, to fit it for execution. This constant relation observed between the above-mentioned trumpets and vials, holds equally between the fifth trumpet and vial. In the trumpet we see the locusts are ruled by a king, the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name is Abaddon. The vial is poured out upon the throne of the beast, and his kingdom becomes dark. On one side then we have the king of the locusts: on the other side we have the throne and the kingdom. Hence appears the connexion between the fifth trumpet and fifth vial. This vial is therefore poured out upon the princes and the states of the locust kingdom.
In fine, we saw in the first trumpet the Roman emperors persecuting the Christian religion; and the first vial was poured upon them. In the second trumpet we saw the Arians rebelling against the Church ; and the second vial was poured upon them. In the third trumpet we saw the Roman
o sect of its idolatry and enmity to Cors1 T: : De 0 Thai was poured upon it, to ex se te
Line bar ringet we saw the revolt of the Greeks 121st ce Caza ard the fourth rial punished then Is e so triste we see the protestants revoltings azzi-stre Cearca: upon whom then must the fifth vial fall? pete
There being poored open the targe of the beast, it flows doma tron trece oter bis whole kingdom, the realm of the rebrneton For. - his kingdom became dark, and they 21
heir sous for pain." But with respect to the name tere oi :is pins trt we shall be entirely silent, and leave in it to be disease or the event. We shall only remark that, le to jedze ir mthe expression of the text, the scourge seems to be severe, and we are evreme! sorry it will be so ill receiFed: - And her biasphemed the God of heaven, because of their paies and wounds. (or sores.) and did not penance for their works."
We shall here add another remark. The expression, they gnawed their tongues for pain, or rather, as it is in the Greek original, they did gnaw their tongues for pain, seems to refer to a time prior to that which follows, and is thus expressed, they blasphemed, &e. and may therefore relate to the first part of the punishments imported by this vial, which may be the scourge inflicted on the French people, and perhaps others, and seems to indieate distress of famine, &c.
THE HISTORY OF THE SIXTH AGE OF THE CHRISTIE
Hitherto the account we find in history of the different ages, has contributed to explain the prophecies relating to them : but with respect to the age we are now entering upon, as it yet remains sealed up in the womb of futurity, we can have no light but what must be drawn from the prophecie themselves. And because prophecies are generally concer ved in few words, and those veiled with obscurity, it cannot be expected we should give so clear and comprehensive a bisa tory of the sixth age, as has been done in the preceding pe
riods. We may however acknowledge here an unexpected assistance, which was not allowed us before, inasmuch as that part of the Apocalypse which treats of the sixth age, seems to be expressed in somewhat clearer terms than any other, at least it appears so to us. The reason we may conceive to be, that the Almighty revealer of it is willing to give us beforehand a tolerable intelligence of transactions that will touch us so nearly, and will be more terrible and trying to human nature, than any that have ever happened. By a previous, though imperfect, knowledge of dreadful calamities, we are warned to prepare for them. An impending evil, even the sentence of death itself, is less alarming when foreseen and expected. On that account therefore the divine bounty is pleased to be more copious and explicit in the revelations about the sixth age; and our prospect of it is further enlarged by many particular scenes to be found in the ancient prophets, which concur to throw an additional light over the whole picture. These are helps which, doubtless, serve in some measure to promote and facilitate the present work; but it must be confessed, the obscurity that still remains is such, and other difficulties so numerous, as necessarily to demand the indulgence of the critic.
The preceding five ages opened with the transactions contained under their respective seals. In like manner we shall now begin the epocha of the sixth and the last age of the Church in this world, with the events announced at the open ing of the sixth seal.
The Opening of the Sixth Seal. Apoc. chap. vi. 12." And I saw," says St. John, “ when he (the Lamb) had opened the sixth seal: and behold there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair : and the whole moon became as blood.
V. 13. “ And the stars from heaven fell upon the earth, as the fig-tree casteth its green figs when it is shaken by a great wind:
V. 14. “ And the heaven departed as a book folded up; and every mountain and the islands were moved out of their places. ...V. 15. “ And the kings of the earth, and the princes, and tribunes, and the rich, and the strong, and every bondman, and every freeman, hid themselves in the dens, and in the rocks of mountains.
V 16. “And they say to the mountains, and the rocks:
fall upon us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.
V. 17. “For the great day of their wrath* is come, and who shall be able to stand ?"
Here are stupendous prodigies and dreadful disasters an. nounced, many of which cannot be now clearly explained, but will be very conspicuous to those who shall exist at that time. They are the forerunners of the approaching general dissolution of the world, and are employed to announce the last terrible judgment, and to admonish mankind to prepare for it. If the idea, which is conveyed to us by the simple description of these wonders, strikes us with terror, how dreadful must they appear when they really happen! great earthquakes; the sun darkened to such a degree as if covered with black hair-cloth, and the moon reddening like blood : the stars seeming to fall from the heavens as thick as green figs are shaken from the trees in a hurricane of wind: the sky appearing to fold up like a roll of parchment; and all the mountains and islands moved out of their places, perhaps by earthquakes and extremely vehement agitations of the sea. These tremendous phenomena, some real, others appearing to the human eye, show the violent convulsions nature will sustain, and the general confusion of the whole created system. At the sight of such events, what wonder if the wicked of every rank and denomination run to hide themselves for fear, as St. John tells us, and from the consciousness of their guilt suspect the great day is arrived, and that the Almighty is coming to judgment, which will make them wish that the mountains and rocks would fall upon them, to shelter them from the face of their angry God, and from the wrath of the Lamb.
The description here given by our Christian prophet seems to specify only the principal and most terrible of the signs and calamities that will happen in the last period of the world: and in them one may understand are comprehended those that are of a less destructive and terrifying nature. Some or other of these alarms we may suppose will open the sixth age, and will serve to fix the date of the epocha. They will continue to alarm mankind at different times during the course of that period, to remind them of the approaching end of the world. We may also observe that some of these striking events are likewise announced by the ancient prophets, and shall be taken notice of in proper places. The
* In the Greek, " his wrath."