Page images

ced into the church. The fecond fhews the means by which they are introduced, the miniftry of the word, fupported by the civil authority, fpread by the zeal of the preachers, and urged upon the rational mind by the completion of prophecy. The third fhews the happinefs of the church then conftituted, arifing from the clear manifeftations of the divine prefence given by the liberal influences of the Holy Spirit.


Obfervations on the Vials.

LET us now take a view of the progreffive fteps by which Antichriftianism is brought to its final ruin. These are represented by the vials, and the vials are included in the feventh trumpet, so that they begin to be poured out when the angel preaching the gofpel flies through the midft of heaven. Before I offer a particular illuftration of each, I shall make some general obfervations on the whole, to fhew the grounds on which I attempt to illuftrate them.

1. It is obvious, that the application of any or of all these vials to events already past, must be erroneous; for all are included in the se

venth trumpet, and the seventh trumpet has not yet founded; it is then only when the fecond wo is paft, that the third wo cometh, Rev xi. 14.

2. That the vials begin immediately as the feventh trumpet founds, and follow one another rapidly, or at fhorter intervals of time than those that intervened betwixt the plagues of the trumpets, we may infer from that expreffion, the third wo cometh quickly. That they follow one another after long periods of time, or at equal intervals, which Jurien infers from the term vial, fuppofing it an allufion to an hourglafs, is a mere play of imagination, without the fmalleft support from Scripture.


3. All the vials have the fame object, namely, to destroy the remaining power of the Antichristian system, called the Beast. The first brings a grievous sore upon them that had the mark of the beaft, and worshipped his image, Rev. xvi. 2.; and when the laft is poured out, the beaft and falfe prophet are taken and caft into the lake of fire, Rev. xix. 20.


4. Most of the vials have an obvious reference to the plagues of Egypt; now the empire of the beaft is "fpiritually called Egypt," Rev. xi. 8. We may therefore infer that the plagues which were inflicted corporally, or, in a literal sense, on the Egyptians, fhall be in inflicted spiritually on the followers of Antichrift.

5. There

5. There is a manifeft resemblance betwixt the first four trumpets and the first four vials. The refemblance implies, that the power of Papal Rome fhall be reduced gradually by steps, in fome refpects fimilar to thofe which deftroyed the dominion of Imperial Rome, 'The fubjects affected by the plagues are the fame in both. Thus, the first trumpet brought a plague on the earth, the fecond on the fea, the third on the rivers, the fourth on the fun; fo the firft vial brings a plague on the earth, the fecond on' the fea, the third on the rivers, the fourth on the fun. If therefore we know what is meant by the earth, fea, rivers, and fun, in the government of Imperial Rome, we can be at no lofs to difcover what is parallel to thefe in the government of Papal Rome. The effects produced are the fame in the second and the third of both. The fecond trumpet turns the fea to blood, fo the fecond vial; the third trumpet makes the rivers bitter, fo that they are pernicious to life; the third vial turns the rivers to blood, which produces a fimilar effect, but in a higher degree. The effects of the firft and fourth in both are indeed different. The first trumpet burns the earth and its productions; the firft vial occafions a noifome fore. The fourth trumpet decreases the heat of the fun ; the fourth vial increases it. However, the contraft

[ocr errors][merged small]

traft here is so striking, that it makes the meaning as obvious as the refemblance in the two preceding.

The three laft vials have no resemblance to any of the trumpets; but to compensate the want of this index to their meaning, an enlarged explication of each is added. The whole of chap. xviii. is a comment on the fifth vial; chap. xix. from the beginning to the 10th verse, is an illuftration of the fixth vial; and from the 11th verse to the close of the fame chapter is a farther account of the feventh vial. Add to this, that the earthquake or revolution occafioned by the seventh vial, is expreffed in terms fimilar to that represented at the opening of the fixth feal: Compare chap. xvi. 18, 19, 20. with chap. vi. 12, 13, 14.

6. The agents under God, to inflict the plagues of the vials, are conscious of their being inftruments in his hand to fulfil prophecy; and in this refpect they widely differ from the agents employed in the preceding plagues of the trumpets. The northern nations, the Saracens and the Turks, were all ignorant of their being scourges in the hand of God, to punish a degenerate church. It might be faid of each as of Sennacherib," O Affyrian, the rod of mine an66 ger, and the staff in their hand is mine indig"nation. I will fend him against an hypocri❝tical

"tical nation; and against the people of my "wrath will I give him a charge to take the fpoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them "down like the mire of the streets. Howbeit, "he meaneth not fo, neither doth his heart "think fo, but it is in his heart to destroy, and "cut off nations not a few," Ifa. x. 5.-8. They were folely actuated by ambition, covetousness or resentment, those selfish paffions, fo natural to the human heart, though the Almighty over-ruled them, for the purposes of ex, ecuting his counfel. But the angels that pour out the vials are members of the church: "They "came out of the temple, they are clothed in

pure and white linen, having their breasts "girded with a golden girdle ;" that is, they are habited like priests, to intimate that they have no selfish end in view, by inflicting punishment, but perform a folemn facrifice to God, Again, they receive their directions from the minifters of the church: "And one of the four "beafts (living creatures) gave unto the feven "angels feven golden vials full of the wrath of "God," Rey. xv, 6, 7. Now thefe living creatures, first introduced in the fourth chapter, re, prefent the minifters of the church. This is confirmed by what is faid of the witnesses, chap. xi. 6. "These have power over waters to "turn them to blood, and to fmite the earth

[ocr errors]


« PreviousContinue »