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These seven last plagues must,' says bp. Newton, 'necessarily fall under the seventh and last trumpets.' If the seven vials 'be not the subject of the third woe, the third woe is no where described particularly as are the two for.
At the sounding of the fifth trumpet (ix. 1.) commences the woe of the Saracen or Arabian locusts ; and in the conclusion it is added (ver. 12) One woe is past, and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.
At the sounding of the sixth trumpet (ix. 13) begins the plague of the Euphratean horsemen or Turks; and in the conclu. sion is added (xi. 14). The second woe is past, and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly. At the sounding of the seventh trumpet therefore (xi. 15, &c.) one would naturally expect the description of the third woe to succeed: but as it was before observed, there follows only a short and summary account of the seventh trumpet, and of the joyful rather than of the woeful part of it. A general intimation indeed is given of God's taking unto him his great power, and destroying them who destroy the earth: but the particulars are reserved for this place; and if these last.plagues coincide not with the last woe, there are other plagues and other woes after the last; and how can it be said that the wrath of God is filled up in them, if there are others besides them? If then these seven last plagues synchronise with the seventh and last trumpet, they are all yet to come ; for the sixth trumpet is not yet past. I make no doubt at all, says another celebrated commenta tor, but that the vials are to be placed in the seventh trumpet after the rising of the witnesses'.' It may be added, that among those who suppose some of the vials to have
8 See this stated and defended by the author of the New Syst. of the Apoc. p. 248, 249, and in the Defence of his Illustrations, and argued at length in thë commentary of a Scotch divine (Durham), which was published more than 130 years since, p. 504. That the seven vials are comprised under the seventh trumpet, was the opinion of the celebrated Martin Luther. See the Introd. to the Apoc.. by Bengelius (p. 306), who, on this point, agrees in opinion with his illustrious countryman.
9 Dr. More's App. to his Comment on Dan. p. 284. VOL. I
been poured out, so great is the disagreement with respect to the times of their fulfilment, and so small their success in applying the symbols of particular vials to particular events", as to afford a strong presumption that they are all yet unacccomplished.
The most common mistake, in interpreting the vials, has been to explain them, as if they had no concern with the
ten-horned Beast, the representative of the antichristian | monarchies, seated in the Western part of the Roman
empire, and were judgments to fall exclusively upon the church and pontiffs of Rome.
It has already been seen, that the third woe, which is to be directed against the destroyers of the earth, was to commence soon after the great revolution in one of the Ten European kingdoms : and a passage has been quoted from Dr. Cressener, wherein he says, that the executors of the third woe are the risen witnesses, and that they are altogether the agents in it.' Now, as I apprehend the vials to be nothing more than the constituent parts of the third woe, it follows of course, that if the inhabitants of the Tenth Part of the symbolic city are the persons destined by divine providence to have a principal share in inflicting that woe, that they also are to be principally employed, in executing, on the two-horned and the ten-horned Beasts, the several judgments elsewhere described under the figurative diction of the seven vials.
Although I have never seen the vials satisfactorily explained by any of the commentators, yet passages may be selected from them, capable of throwing upon this series of predictions some considerable rays of light. But any precise idea of the three first vials I confess myself unable to communicate. With respect to them in general it may be observed, that they appear to have a kindred import, that they are prophetic of a great effusion of blood and of great calamities which are to fall on the antichristian part of mankind, and that the reader's conception of them will
10 Bp. Newton, speaking of the vials, says, the best interpreters' have “failed and foundered in this part more than in any other.' P. 256.
be facilated by the remarks, which will occur in the course of the work on the meaning of particular symbols. The three first vials are thus expressed. And the first angel 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. 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. And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood". St. John immediately adds : 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 out of the altar say, even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments".
The earth, upon which the first vial is to fall, signifies the antichristian part of mankind; and they are to be af. flicted with a noisome and grievous sore. Now 'a sore,' says Sir I. Newton, denotes 'a durable plague of war??.? If, as there is reason to believe, the third woe has com. menced, it follows, that at least the first of the vials must already have begun to be poured out; and with this brief explication of the first vial the existing state of public affairs in the European world perfectly harmonises. The second vial is to be poured upon the sea. Now, says Mr. King, the sea, as we are told (even by the prophetical angel himself) signifies multitudes of people. The pouring out of the vial therefore upon the sea is the best image that could be devised, to describe mischief that should arise, from a general infatuation of all ranks of people in the western parts of the world. It strikes me,' says Mr. Bicheno, that although the vial which is to be poured out upon the earth, will commence first, and that on the sea fol
11 XVI. 2, 3, 4.
12 XVI. 5, 6, 7.
low, yet their falling streams will mingle; and although the full torrent of the latter vials may not commence, yet some small portion of them may be dashed upon the rivers, the sun, or the throne of the beast, while the first are pouring out; and although the plagues of the latter vials will commence last, as in the vision, yet the streams of the former may still be running's. The angels saying of this woe, that it cometh quickly, and the circumstances of the seven angels with their vials all appearing, and being sent out at the same time?, supposes that they will all be employed together to execute their missions on the several objects of the divine displeasure. And we may hope that these judgments will soon be over'?'
Having said so much on Mr. Fleming's interpretation of the fourth vial, I shall here confine my observations upon that vial to a very few lines. I begin with asking a question. May it not threaten a diminution and decline of monarchical power in general, in the territories of the Tenhorned Beast? A remark by Mr. Cradock may be here pertinently adduced. It is abservable that the vials fore. shew Antichrist's ruin by several steps and degrees. The first five vials do alter, but do not utterly destroy, the subjects of them. It is, says Mr. "Cradock, for the sixth and seventh vials that the work of destroying is reserved".
15 To the same purpose speak Durham and Daubuz. Though, says the Scotch commentator, there be order in the rise of these judgments, and all are not poured out together ;-yet it will not follow, that the former judgment is ended, before another come.' P. 608. · These plagues, says Daubuz, are so sent upon the corrupted Christians, that although the beginning of each is distinct and successive in order of time, yet their end is not, but continues afterwards in its effects, notwithstanding the beginning of the rest. So that the plagues are not only fresh and different, þut also multiplied upon the subject.? P. 679. The learned author of the New Syst. of the Apoc. thinks it impossible to be proved, that the seven vials signify periods of time at all. Def. of Illust. p. 4, 7. By some it has þeen supposed very unreasonably, that they denote not rely periods of time, but periods of an equal duration. 16 XV. 6. xvi. 1
17 Signs of the Times, p. 45. 18 P. 162.
The class of persons spoken of in v. 9, the context teaches us, belong to the symbolic sun. They are the members and the partisans of the Ten-horned Beast. That they shall be scorched with great heat, that is to say, that they shall be pierced with the sharpest arrows of affliction, is the fact foretold in the commencing clause of the verse. That they shall notwithstanding omit to repent, and even revile the name of God, are the circumstances predicted in the two subsequent clauses. As far as relates to the conduct and the fate of the satellites and supporters of the Gallic horn of the Secular Beast, this verse may be said to have already received the most exact completion. With respect to those, however, who surround and protect the thrones of the other antichristian monarchies, which constitute the symbolic Sun of the European world, or in other words the Ten-horned Beast, the prophecy remains to be accomplished. The idea here suggested, that the fourth vial may have begun to be fulfilled, I must again assert, contradicts not the statement I have elsewhere made ; namely, that the Earthquake in the Tenth Part of the symbolic city occurred prior to the pouring out of the vials. For it is now become a fact recorded in history, that after the French revolution had taken place, a considerable time did elapse, before the partisans of the monarchy were involved in great and general calamity.
On the fifth vial I shall be more particular, because its general meaning appears capable of being penetrated, and it has notwithstanding this, as I conceive, been very generally misapprehended. It is thus expressed: and the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat, or, as it ought ra. ther to be translated, the throne of the Beast ; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, and blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds20.
19 It is thus translated by Wakefield, Doddridge, and Daubuz. 20 XVI. 10, 11.