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this heavenly temple to intercede for the preventing of these grievous calamities upon the beast: none were suffered to do this, that judgment might have its free course, till all the seven punishments to be inflicted by the ministry of the seven angels were fully executed in their order.”
I ENTER Upon this part of the subject with diffidence, because I consider the events predicted as mostly future and the exposition of unfulfilled prophecy, especially when couched under symbolical language, is rarely accurate. When in looking at a symbol we compare it with facts, we can judge of the one as being designed to predict the other: but in looking at the symbols without the facts, we can seldom make much out in explaining them. Nor does it appear to have been the design of prophecy to enable us to foresee things with any considerable 'degree of precision; but to keep up a general hope before the accomplishment, and to strengthen our faith after it.
1 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.
Before entering on particulars, I shall offer two or three gene,
First, Some of these "plagues," and it may be the greater part of them, will consist in wars between the nations of Christendom. Such is doubtless the meaning of those in which mention is made of "blood," and of the "battle of Armageddon, the great day of
God Almighty." It is thus that the nations which have shed the blood of his saints will have blood given them to drink!
Secondly, As the grand design of these wars is the destruction of the antichristian hierarchy, they may be expected to have a providential direction given to them, causing them to bear more especially upon that object. If this remark be just, it furnishes a presumption that the vials have been pouring out for the last twenty years. As a fire kindled in a city has a direction given to its ravages, by the wind, or by some other means; so Providence has caused the desolations of the Continent to bear principally, though not entirely, upon the papal cause.
Thirdly, The resemblances between the vials and the trumpets may throw more light upon the subject than any other medium of which we are in possession. It is a fact very remarkable that the seven trumpets have each a point of resemblance with the seven vials-For example, The first trumpet affected the earth; and so does the first vial. The second trumpet turned the sea into blood; and the second vial was poured out upon the sea, which became as the blood of a dead man. The third trumpet affected the rivers and fountains of water; and so does the third vial. The fourth trumpet respected the sun; and the fourth vial does the same.§ The fifth trumpet was followed by darkness and pain; and such were the effects of the fifth vial. The sixth trumpet was complex, relating partly to the depredations of the Euphratean horsemen in the East, and partly to the idolatries and persecutions of the beast and his associates in the West; and so is the sixth vial; relating partly to the Euphratean waters being dried up, and partly to the battle of Armageddon, by which the cause of the beasts will be ruined. Finally, The seventh trumpet presents a closing scene; and so does the seventh vial.** These resemblances cannot be accidental. Though they refer to events, therefore, more than a thousand years distant from each other,
Compare Chap. viii. 7. with xvi. 2. † Chap. viii. 8. with xvi. 3. Chap. viii. 10, 11. with xvi. 4. § Chap. viii. 12. with xvi. 8, 9. || Chap. ix. 1, 3. with xvi. 10. T Chap. i 14-xi. 14. with xyi. 12-16. ** Chap. xi. 15. with xvi. 17.
yet there must be some important points of likeness between them; and as the trumpets are all, except the last, fulfilled, we may by means of them form some judgment of the vials which yet may be unfulfilled.
It was on this principle that Dr. GILL seems to have proceeded in expounding the vials. "The first vial (says he) will be poured out upon the earth, and designs those popish countries which are upon the Continent, as France and Germany, especially the latter and as the first trumpet brought the Goths into Germany, so the first vial will bring great distress upon the popish party in the empire. The second vial will be poured upon the sea, and may intend the maritime powers belonging to the church of Rome, particularly Spain and Portugal: and as the second trumpet brought the Vandals into these places, so this vial will affect the same, and bring wars and desolations into them.-The third vial will be poured out upon the rivers and fountains of waters, which may point to those places adjacent to Rome, as Italy and Savoy: and as the the third trumpet brought the Huns into those parts, so this vial will bring in large armies hither, which will cause much bloodshed, and a great revolution in church and state."*
This comment on the vials, founded upon their analogy with the trumpets, bids fair, in my judgment, to be the true one; especially that on the first three which has just been quoted.
The Doctor adds-" As yet I take it none of them are poured out, though some great and learned men have thought otherwise. As yet there have been no such devastations on the Continent, as in France and Germany, as to produce the above effects; nor in the countries of Spain, Portugal, &c." This was doubtless the case in 1752, the year in which the Sermon from which the above extract is made was printed, but this is more than can be said in 1810!
2 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.
* Sermon on the glory of the Church in the latter day. pp. 12–15. VOL. VI. 25