« PreviousContinue »
Concerning the effects of the last woe-trumpet, the pouring out of the seren vials, and the restoration of the Jews.
THE prophet, having separately detailed the effects of the two first woe-trumpets in the East and in the West, and having briefly touched upon the sounding of the third, now proceeds to give us a more full account of the miseries which it should produce. For this purpose he divides it into seven periods, which he distinguishes by the pouring out of seven vials; and, to shew us that they are all comprehended under the last woetrumpet the commencement of the blast of which he had already announced, he styles them the seven last plagues. They are in fact the same, I apprehend, as the seven thunders, the roll of which St. John heard, when he had finished his account of the second woe-trumpet as afflicting the Eust. Conceiving rightly that in point of time they were the next in order to the events which he had last detailed, be seems to have supposed that they were immediately* to succeed them, and therefore prepared himself to write their history : but the great angel, having yet to reveal to him the contemporary effects of the two first woe-trumpets in the West and to bring down the second woe-trumpet to its complete termination, commanded him to " seal them up and to write them not ;" swearing solemnly by the Almighty, that “ their time was not yet, but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel." Those days are now come. We have seen, that the great earthquake at the close of the second woe is the French revolution in the year 1789: and we have likewise seen, that the third woe came quickly after in the year 1792, when the reign of Gallic liberty and equality cominenced. Then it was, that the voice of he seventh angel, or the third woe-angel, began to be heard : consequently
The 9th chapter of the Revelation terminates in the year 1672 with the siege of Camcniec; namely at the end of the bour, the day, the month, and tbe year, for which :he Turkish borsemen had been prepared : whereas the second woe does not terminate till the year 1789; and the third woe which comprehends the seven vials, does nos begin to sound, till tbe year 1792.
we may then expect, that the seven thunders would begin to roar, and that the seven vials full of the last plagues of an offended God would begin to be poured out.*
The history of the two first woe-trumpets is given in a two-fold order, as affecting equally both the East and the West : but the history of the third is given only in a single order, inasmuch as some of its vials are poured upon the one branch of the Roman empire, and others upon the other branch ; all of them not equally extending to the whole empire, as was the case with the first and second woe-trumpets. It may likewise be observed, that the contents of one vial are not represented as being fully poured out before another begins to be emptied; though it is evident, that they commence in regular chronological succession. In this respect there is a striking difference between the vials and the woe-trumpets.
We are explicitly informed by the prophet, that the blast of the first woe-trumpet entirely ceases before the second begins to sound; and that of the second, in a siinilar manner, before the third begins to sound :t but it is no where said, that each vial is emptied, before its successor begins to be poured out. Hence it is not unreasonable to conclude, that two or more of the vials may be pouring out at the
* Mr. Whitaker singularly fancies, that the last woe-trumpet or the seventh trumpet is the same as the last trump at the day of judgment mentioned by St. Paul. I have not met with
any commentator who agrees with him in this opinion, except the Jesuit Cornelius à Lapide. As for the vials, he supposes many of them to have been long since poured out; and maintains that they will all be poured out before the sounding of the last woe, “after which he has never been taught to look for any thing but the resurrection and its awful consequences.” Thus he plainly makes ibe seven last plagues precede the last woe; and teaches us that the last of tbe three woes, whereof the two first are the woes of the Saracens and the Turks, is the making all the kingdums of this world the kingdoms of our Lord and of bis Christ. This I have ever been accustomed to consider as a blessing rather than a wae : whence I have been induced to prefer the opinion of Mr. Mede, Bp. Newton, and Sir Isaac Newton, to that of Mr. Whitaker and Cornelius à Lapide ; namely that the worful part of the seventh trumpet precedes its joyful part, and that it will bring much misery upon the earth ere the nations are converted to Christianity and brought into the pale of the Millennian Church. Since moreover the seventh trumpet is represented as sbe last woe, and since the seven vials are said to be the last plagues, I conclude with Bp. Newton that they must synchronize : otherwise there will be two last displays of God's wrath. Mr. Whitaker says, that the seven vials are denominated the last plagues because in them is filled up the wrath of God; and thinks, that we ought to be cautious of considering them as termed last merely in point of time. Bp. Newton, on the contrary, argues, that they must be last in point of time ; because the wrath of God would not be filled up in them, if there were others beside them. See Mr. Whitaker's Letter to Dr. Ogilvie, p. 33- Comment. p. 445-Bp. Newton's Dissert. on Rev. xv.
+ See Rev. ix. 12, 13. and xi. 14,15.
same time, though the effusion of one commenced before that of another.
Besides the division of the third woe-trumpet into the seven vials, it is represented as comprehending likewise two grand periods of peculiar distress, figuratively termed by St. John the harvest and the vintage. The harvest occupies, I conceive, the beginning of the third woe-trumpet, or the earlier part of the last days of atheistical infidelity. It symbolizes the miseries inflicted upon mankind by the tyranny of Antichrist, and synchronizes with the first half of Daniel's account of the king who magnified himself above every god.* This period comprehends the three first vials. The vintage, on the other hand, occupies the termination of the third woe-trumpet, or the time of the end. It relates to the great controversy of God with the nations, and the entire overthrow of Popery and Infidelity. This period synchronizes with the second half of Daniel's account of the atheistical king it and is comprehended under the seventh vial, the vial, as it may be termed, of consummation. The fourth, fifth, and sixth, vials are poured out in the intermediate space between the vials of the harvest and the vial of the vintage ; and the lust of these three may be considered as preparing the way for the final manifestation of God's wrath. Thus it appears, tbat, agreeably to the analogy of the natural harvest and vintage, some time will intervene between the
figurative harvest and vintage ; that this time will be marked by the pouring out, at certain indefinite periods, of the fourth, the fifth, and the sixth, viuls; and that at Jength, when the mystery of God is about to be accomplished, when the waters of the Euphrates are completely dried up, when a way has been prepared for the kings of the East, and when the great confederacy has begun to be put in motion by the secret agency of the three unclean spirits, the last tremendous vial of the vintage will be poured out at the close of the 1260 years.
Subsequent to his account of the seven vials, St. John gives us a more enlarged prophetic history of the vintage, prefacing it with a description of the scarlet whore pre
* Dan. xi. 36-39.
+ Dan. xi. 40–45. xii, 1.
vious to her being overtaken by the judgments of God. The events, which he particularizes, are the overthrow of Babylon, the battle of the kings of the earth, and the utter destruction of the beast and the false prophet. All these events are to be comprehended under the last vial, as is manifest from this consideration. The seven vials are expressly said to be the last plagues : but, if the events in question be not comprehended under some one of them, the vials certainly are not the last plagues ; because, in that case, they will be prior to those events : whence I conclude, that the events must necessarily be comprehended under some one of them. But, since the events are described as terminating the present order of things previous to the Millennium, and since the last vial of the last trumpet of the last seal cannot but be considered as the vial of consummation, the events must unavoidably belong to the last vial.
These preliminary observations being made, I shall proceed to a particular consideration of each distinct vial.
The two first woe-trumpets described the rise of the two-fold Apostacy, Papal and Mohammedon, and the plenitude of power to which it speedily attained : the third introduces the reign of Antichrist; and, after having foretold under the vials of the harvest the miseries with which he should afflict mankind, predicts under the vial of the vintage the downfall of the Apostacy and the total overthrow of all God's enemies.
We have already seen, that the third woe-trumpet began to sound on the 12th of August 1792, immediately after the limited monarchy of France was overthrown, and when the tyrannical reign of liberty and equality commenced. This being the case, we must look for the pouring out of all the seven vials, which form so many distinct periods of the third woe-trumpet, posterior to the 12th of August 1792 ; observing however, that the harvest itself must be considered as commencing, not merely
with the first vial, but with the earliest blast of the trumpet, and that the iniseries previously produced by the fall of the tenth part of the Latin city may be esteemed (to make the allegory complete) the first fruits of the harvest.
" And I heard a great voice out of the temple, saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth. And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth : and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.”
The earth is the Roman empire : the men, who bear the mark of the beast and worship his image, are the once superstitious, but now atheistical, members of the Latin Empire and Church : and the noisome and grievous sore, which is represented as first openly breaking out after the great earthquake which overthrew. a tenth part of the city, and after the commencement of the reign of anarchy at the first blast of the third woe-trumpet, is the delusive spirit of atheism, or that gross lie of Antichrist the denial of the Father and the Son.*
Since this imagery is borrowed from natural maladies, for the right understanding of it we must consider how such inaladies operate upon the human frame. As the humours then, which at length produce a sore in the body natural, secretly work for some time previous to their eruption ; so the humours, which produced this figurative sore in the body politic, had long been concocting previa ous to its open appearance. Atheism indeed existed in the very days of the Apostles; for even then were there many antichrists, even then was the spirit of Antichrist in the world: but it began to be more systematically
* This mode of expression is perfectly agreeable to the scriptural practice of describing spiritual by natural maladies. (See Isaiah i. 5, 6.) Sir Isaac Newton supposes, that “ a durable plague of war is signified by a sore and pain :" and Mr. Bicheno has followed him in this opinion, applying the effusion of be first vial, which he thinks like myself was poured out in the autumn of tbe year 1792, to the calamities which the confederates of Pilnitz experienced from the arms of the French republic. But I cannot find, that we have any authority for annexing such an idea to the word sore. In 2 Chron. vi. 28, it is used in a general sense, including war indeed, but including likewise many other calamities. Sigas of the times, Part. III. p. 166, 167.