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overwhelm the fourth empire in utter destruction, and so only can we hope for the nation, that, as a nation, it will be preserved to see the happier times of the world to come, after this deluge has subsided.
So far I feel considerable confidence in the interpretation of the prophecy before us,- I think there are strong reasons for supposing the breaking out of the French revolution has marked the pouring forth of the first vial of the seventh trumpet. We are, then, if this be true, arrived at the commencement of the greatest of all prophetical eras – the several judgments of which must go forth till the fourth and last empire be destroyed, and the kingdom of Messiah appear.
The Second Vial.
In proceeding with the remainder of the prophecy, I would express more doubt and hesitation in determining whether we are to consider all the calamities which have, in our age, befallen Europe, as being immediately connected with the revolutionary mania, and so to belong all to the first vial; or whether we may not trace, in recent events, as many as four more vials of the wrath of God, already poured upon the devoted nations.
Whichever way our judgments may determine, our expectations must be big with the awful prospects of futurity. In the first case, if we determine that all the troubles Europe has yet experienced belong to the first vial, the second, which calls our attention to the sea, must certainly be expected with some degree of trembling; lest the maritime situation of our country should be pointed out as the scene of the next judgment. But, on the whole, I feel a confidence in the interpretation given above of the earthquake of the sixth seal, chap. xi. 13, and that Great Britain did then cease to belong to the mystic Babylon, or the Roman beast, and, therefore, will not be partaker in her plagues. I must own, however, that the recent attempt to destroy the national testimony against the damnable doctrines of the
papacy, and to intrust Roman Catholics with the exercise of political power, without presuming to judge respecting the political expediency of the measure, is very ominous
, at the present crisis : since it should seem, from prophecy, that our preservation as a nation, in the last troubles, depends on this, - that we have been separated from, and no longer belong to, the Roman Catholic world :
3. “ And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea."
We can only illustrate the language of this prophecy by comparing it to the somewhat similar language of the second trumpet. There the symbol exhibited was great mountain burning with fire cast into the sea, and the third part of the sea becomes blood.” This, as we learned from the events of history, was the great devastations of Genseric and his Vandals. The maritime provinces of the empire were the objects of this judgment. This judgment began in the peninsula, entirely destroyed the African province along the southern shores of the
* Chap. viji. 8.
Mediterranean, and grievously afflicted the islands and the Italian coast.
Africa is no longer Roman; and Britain, we hope, is no longer a part of the mystic city. The peninsula, therefore, and the Italian states, seem to be pointed out as the victim of this greater judgment. The question is,is this judgment yet to come; or, have we seen its completion in what has happened to Italy, and especially to peninsular Spain? Is the symbol of the sea becoming the blood of a dead man to be deciphered of that most extraordinary state of torpor and stagnation of all its powers, in which that government gave itself up to the French ruler? - an event which is calculated to have cost the nation two millions of her inhabitants ! « And his arm is stretched out still.”
The Third Vial.
10. “ And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters, and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shall be, because thou hast judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy. And I heard another angel out of the altar say,
Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.”
HERE again we may illustrate by a prophecy certainly already fulfilled. The scene of this judgment is the same as in the third trumpet. There “a star like a burning lamp falls upon the third part of the rivers and upon the
fountains of waters," and the waters become bitter, so that men who drink of them die.” This was fulfilled by Attila and his Huns possessing themselves of the long boundary of the Danube and its tributary streams, and thus hastening the destruction of the empire.
With this explanation of the symbolical language of the prophecy now before us, we naturally direct our eyes to that powerful Roman Catholic monarchy now situated on the sources of the Danube. And that Austria is the destined victim, seems corroborated from the exclamation of the two angels, who mark, in this judgment, the just retaliation of divine vengeance on those who shed the blood of saints and prophets. For the Austrian dynasty are the legitimate successors of Charles V. and of Philip II., with a long list of persecuting princes.
The only question, then, seems to be, Do we see this judgment in the bloody and ineffectual struggles of Austria against the French armies in the late wars; or is the prophecy yet to be fulfilled ?
The Fourth Vial.
8. “ And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which had power over these plagues, and they repented not, to give him glory.”
We have nothing, in former prophecies, exactly similar to this symbol; and yet, from analogy, the interpretation seems to be easy. The sun, in prophetical language, is the imperial authority. In a former vision, its becoming sackcloth, and its partially shining not, denoted the abolition or removal of the ruling powers. It is natural, therefore, to interpret this increase of power which is given to the solar beams as prognosticating the enlargement of the imperial authority, so that it should become the bane of nations under its influence.
If this be a judgment still in futurity, we can, of course, give no account of the particular circumstances under which it will take place. But considerable suspicions may arise, that the world has already seen the fulfilment of the judgment of this vial also.
When the French ruler had broken the power of Austria, and compelled its monarch to resign the honours of the imperial crown, he became, unquestionably, the symbolical sun of the Roman world; and, to refer to the symbols of a former prophecy, the fourth empire, under his dominion and influence, had more of the “strength of iron” in it than had usually been witnessed in its divided state. This increased power we saw exerted to the establishment of a most rigorous and efficient military tyranny over the greater part of the papal earth. It was, indeed, an extension of supreme power as extensively and as severely felt, and attended with as ruinous consequences to mankind, as any, perhaps, that can be instanced in the history of the nominally Christian world. It was but too plain, likewise, as the prophecy intimates, that the powerful rule of Buonaparte, and the calamities of war which it spread so far and wide, produced no religious or moral reformation.