Page images
PDF
EPUB

Before this vial can be satisfactorily interpreted, twoim. portant questions must be resolved. Is the civil, or is the ecclesiastical, Beast, here designed? What does the word, translated seat, signify? On the first point I quote from Daubuz; on the second from Lowman. “We must,' says Daubuz on this vial, “repeat here what has been observed before, that when the Holy Ghost mentions The Beast by itself, it is to be understood of the great Beast with seven heads and ten horns, that is, the secular powers within the precincts of the corrupted church, not the less Beast with two horns, which is described and said to be the false prophet, which signifies the heads of the idolatrous clergy. And that this distinction is true, we need to go no farther to prove, that this very chapter" where the three great enemies of Christ are named, the Dragon, the Beast, and False Prophet. The Beast thus singly mentioned, being plainly the great Beast aforesaid. Besides, the throne spoken of here is the throne given to that Beast by the Dragon, in ch. xiii. 2. and not to the False Prophet or less Beast, who is not said to have a throne, but is described as the great assistant of the former.'

· This vial,' says Mr. Lowman, “is poured out on the throne of the Beast, so the word is in the originala. In the scripture-language, throne, kingdom, government, authority, dominion, and power, are of like signification” ; to translate the kingdom from the house of Saul, and to set up the throne of David over Israel, is to take the authority and power of government from the one, and give it to the other, 2 Sam. iii. 10.-The throne then of the Beast, which our translation has rendered his seat, seems plainly to mean his authority and power, rather than the city or seat of his residence. For the prophetic language puts a throne to

21 XVI. 13. 22 Επι τον θρονον. .

23 After referring to several passages in the Jewish scriptures in confirmation of this, Dr. Lancaster observes, that ' a throne is by all the onei. rocritics explained of power.'

24 This meaning indeed it cannot have ; because the Beast with Ten Horns, the representative of the antichristian monarchies, has no particular place of rule and residence.

signify, not the seat of a kingdom, but its power and au. thority. And so this very prophecy explains it; this angel poured out his vial on the seat of the Beast, and his kingdom was full of darkness.' That darkness is the symbol of misery and adversity,' Dr. Lancaster observes; and, in proof of this, appeals to different passages in the He. brew prophets. The meaning then of a vial of divine wrath being poured upon the throne of The Beast appears to be this: that divine providence will cause events to happen, eminently injurious to the power and authority of the antichristian monarchies of Europe. Accordingly Lowman, in explication of the prophet's words, that the kingdom of the Beast was full of darkness, says 'darkness is an emblem of affliction ; a kingdom full of darkness will then naturally signify a great diminution of power, and decay of authority. In order faithfully to represent the excess of mortification and anguish, which shall in consequence be felt by the members and supporters of the ten-horned Beast, it is said, that they gnawed their tongues for pain ; and in the next verse it is added, that they blasphemed the God of heaven, because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds. Instead of being reformed, says Lowman in his paraphrase, “they rather blasphemed the supreme governor of the world, by accusing his providence, on account of the evils which came upon them, but had no thoughts of repentance for those evil actions, the true reason why they were punished.'.

The following are the ideas, which Dr. Cressener entertained above a century ago respecting the fifth vial. Whether they correspond to the state of things, which is likely to take place in the course of the third woe, and previous to its termination, it is for the attentive reader to meditate on and to determine. Having observed, that by the throne of the Beast, may be meant only his supreme authority in general,' he says, this plague · falls upon the throne and kingdom of the Beast, which does very naturally signify the beginning of a general humiliation of the power of the Beast in all the Ten Kingdoms, of which his Kingdom

consists25.' It seems,' this learned commentator elsewhere says, “to be some great confusion and vexation in the kingdom of the Beast , and promises • an universal disturbance in the whole extent of it. Among the argu. ments which he alleges in proof of this, is the following:

the fifth vial is an humiliation of the power of the Beast in all parts of his dominion, because this darkness is expressed to fill his kingdom.' I conclude the chapter with observing, that the fourth and the fifth vials appear to be intimately connected with each other, and that, prior to their fulfilment, it is not perhaps possible to mark out the essential difference between them.

· CHAPTER XII.

ON ST. PAUL'S PREDICTION OF THE MAN OF SIN.

BEFORE I pass on to the consideration of the sixth and seventh vials, or of any predictions which respect Political events ; I shall direct the attention of the reader to some of those prophecies, which have an immediate refer. ence to the exercise and the extinction of Ecclesiastical tyranny. Of the two-horned Beast, the emblem of the antichristian priesthood, some account has already been given. But there are other prophecies, relating to the same subject, which, in a work like the present, ought not to be passed by unnoticed. Such are those by St. John respecting the symbolic Babylon. Daniel's description of the little horn of the Fourth Beast, and St. Paul's prophecy of the Man of Sin.

I begin with the last of these predictions. St. Paul, speaking of the coming of Christ, a phrase often applied in scripture to the commencement of the millennium, says, that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition ; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that when I was yet with you, I told you these things ? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that wicked one be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming

25 Judgm. on the Rom. Ch. p. 213, 258. 26 P. 141, 212. 2Ý B253.

On this prophecy, which appears to foretell a general apostacy in the Christian church, a number of valuable observations occur in Mr. Evanson's able Letter to Bishop Hurd; and I cannot, without transcribing liberally from it, do justice to what he has urged. “The name of the man of sin, which is made use of in this prophecy,' says Mr. Evanson, " neither your Lordship, nor any approved commentator, supposes to signify any one particular man, but merely a human power, possessed and actually exerted by a succession of different men. And it is not easy to conceive, how any one should have understood that phrase in a more limited sense.--As man of God evidently means not any particular man, but every sincere and good Christian in all ages and nations of the world ; so the man of sin undoubtedly signifies not any one man alone, but every man”, or number of men, in all ages, and I must add, in

1 11. Thess. ii. 3-8.

2 Mr. Buan Herport, who was persecuted and imprisoned at Bern, (as quoted by Mr. Taylor of Portsmouth), in like manner says, " the man of Perdition, Antichrist, is to be found in all places. Whoever makes himself judge over his brother, forcibly obtrudes on him his own imaginations, and thus sets up himself in the temple of God; he usurps Christ's prero.. gative, burthens conscience with terrible oaths for the sake of human edicts, and persecutes the true disciples, the living members of the church. Whoever does these things, whether Pope or King, Sovereign or Magistrate, Clergy or Layman, is ANTICHRIST." See Farther Thoughts on the Grand Apostacy, p. 31.

VOL. I.

all places too, (though there, perhaps, your Lordship will not agree with me) whose peculiar station and circumstances shall be found to correspond to the prophetic description here given us.' Mr. Evanson has also asked his lordship some embarrassing questions. When our own eighth Henry, from motives of mere personal resentment, thought fit to transfer the very same supremacy from the person

of the pope to himself, within the limits of his own dominions ; when the same spiritual courts subsisted, the same ecclesiastical jurisdiction was continued under him, which had been established under the Roman pontiff; when, in the full spirit of papal tyranny, he burnt some of his subjects for not renouncing the authority of the pope, and others for renouncing some of the grossest errors of popery: had not he also every feature of the man of sin? Nay, even in the days of reformation, and the reigns of protestant princes, when, by virtue of the very same assumed authority and supreme power in religious affairs; and, by the same mode of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, numbers of conscientious persons were imprisoned, fined, tortured, and even burned to death, for not professing, or not conform-' ing to, what they were firmly persuaded was repugnant to the commands of God, were none of the distinguishing marks of this predicted, impious power to be discerned in our own country ? Or shall the same characters be allowed to denote the man of God in England, which in Italy serve to point out the man of sin and son of perdition* ?'

The expression, the temple of God, is perfectly consistent with this general application of the prophecy. It'must, says bp. Hurd, be interpreted of the Christian church, and could not, in the prophetic fanguage, be interpreted otherwise, It is certain,' declares bp. Newton, that

the temple or house of God is the Christian church in the usual style of the Apostless' When therefore the man of Sin is said to sit in the temple of God, it is, as both these

3 P. 20-23.

4 Vol. II. p. 159.

5 Vol. II. p. 347.

« PreviousContinue »