Imatges de pàgina

vials, must appear very extraordinary. Some of those preceding judgments appear to have an incontestable claim to be reckoned among the events, which were to fulfil the vials. The opinion, that none of the vials were poured out, till the revolution in France, appears, as real an extreme, as that of most of the old expositors, that the vials have been poured out through all the ages of Popery. The old scheme of the vials is as follows: That the first vial inflicting a noisome and grievous sore, began to be poured out in the early part of the ninth century, in the contentions between the Popes and the emperors of Germany, relative to power. That the second, poured upon the sea, and turning it to blood, was fulfilled in the fanatical crusades to the Holy land, in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. That the third, upon the rivers and fountains of water, was fulfilled in the persecuting crusades against the Albigenses in the vallies of Piedmont; and in the quarrels between the ecclesiastical, and the civil powers, and their respective parties, the Guelphs and 'Gebelins, concerning the right of investitures: That the fourth, poured upon the sun, was fulfilled in the rivalships of different Popes, in the last of the fourteenth and the former part of the fifteenth centuries; there being two and at one time three Popes set up at once, to the vexation of their different parties in Christendom: That the fifth, poured upon the seat of the beast, was fulfilled in the events of the reformation under Luther: That the sixth, upon the river Euphrates, was fulfilled in the subsequent failing of the sources of Papal wealth: And that the seventh, poured into the air, is to be fulfilled in the total destruction of the Papal nations, and the enemies of the Church. But according to this scheme, why were the vials called the seven last plagues? For the first of them was fulfilled five or six hundred years be- . fore the second woe-trumpet! And indeed three or four of them prececled the second woe! If the old scheme be correct, the vials are so far from being God's last judgments on the Papal apostasy, that they were indeed his first. They attended the very rise, progress, and highest state of the Papal power. Such a power as the Papal hierarchy, could not be expected to rise, and continue 1260 years, without some contentions and bloody scenes. But shall those contentions, which were yet consistent with the rise and zenith of the Papal power, be supposed to be the four first of the vials of the seven last plagues, which are to sweep the enemies of the Church from the face of the earth? It is incredible! It must appear unnatural, on the one hand, to apply the vials of the last judgments of God, to events, which attended the rise, and the highest state of Papal Rome; and unnatural, on the other hand, to exclude from the vials those events, which have been evidently destroying the Papal power, in a new and regular series of judgments, till we come down to the French revolution; and then to suppose a number of the vials to have been poured out almost at once.

A series of events which were accomplished, some of them long before the French revolution, and which were fatally disastrous to the Papal power, appear fully to answer to the description of some of the vials: While vet the events which were consistent with the rise and zenith of that power, must be excluded from these judgments. The vials appear to contain a series of judgments, which were to commence after the second woe, peculiarly calculated to destroy the enemies of the Church; the last vial, and the last trumpet, meeting in the same period and event.


And the first went and poured out his vial upon the

earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men, who had the mark of the beast, and upon them who worshipped his image. (Rev. xvi, 2.)

The Papal beast rose out of the earth; (Rev. xiii, 11;) out of the earthly views of the Roman Christians. The earth, in distinction from heaven, is, in symbolic language, a fit representation of an earthly, corrupt sys

tem. A star falling from heaven to earth, is a striking emblem of apostasy. The earth, the seat of the discharge of this vial, then, must mean a most notable, corrupt, earthly system. And as it must relate to the system of this description, which was most injurious to the Church of Christ, so it must have related to that beast, which rose out of the earth, or to the Papal apostasy. By the men, who had the mark of the beast, and who worshipped his image, must be understood the members and supporters of the Papal see, who adhered to that system of idolatry under the Christian name, which is but a real substitute for the gross idolatry of ancient Pagan Rome.

A sore, in symbolic language, signifies some distressing calamity; but the symbol does not decide what kind of calamity. Solomon, at the dedication of the temple prayed, -When every one shall know his own sore, and his own grief, and shall spread forth his hands in this house; then hear thou from heaven. (2 Chron. vi, 29.). Here every man's own sore is his own grief; and his grief is his sore. The following are familiar phrases in our language, sorely pained; sorely afflicted; sorely amazed. The use even of this adverb originates in the idea, that a great calamity is a sore. Whatever be the cause of the calamity, still it is a sore.

Yet some calamities may more fitly be represented by a sore, than others; as may appear in attending to this vial.

To find the noisome and grievous sore inflicted in the first vial, I look for the first signal event, which began the downfall of the Papal hierarchy. For this was the enemy first to be attacked. This power had its rise, its zenith, and its fall. And the first capital step toward its fall, must have been the first vial. This clue appears infallible. And what was the first capital event toward the destruction of Popery? Few need to be informed, that it was the reformation under Luther, and others, early in the sixteenth century. This was a fatal stroke, and the first fatal stroke to that wicked power. It gave Popery its death wound. And it was the introduction of a series of events, which in their issue were to terminate the existence of the Pa.

[ocr errors]

pal imposture. Until the reformation, Popery may be said to have fourished. Notwithstanding those various calamities attendant on Popery from its origin, and in which authors have imagined the four first vials received their fulfilment; and notwithstanding the judgment of the second woe, in the invasion of the Turks upon the eastern wing of the Roman dominions, and their taking Constantinople in 1453, and making it the seat of their empire; yet till the reformation, Popery remained in its zenith; it felt superior to all danger, and seemed to bid defiance to the world. This is evident from the whole history of the hierarchy at that period; from their extravagant claims, unbounded insolence, and from the scandalous traffic of Leo X, and the minions of his order, in the vending of indulgences to commit sin; which wickedness, overleaping all former bounds, opened the eyes, and excited the zeal of Martin Luther, and facilitated the exposure of the abominations of the whole scheme. How fitly then might the events of that day be represented, in symbolic language, by the falling of a noisome and grievous sore upon the men, who had the mark of the beast, and who

, worshipped his image? The reformation with its consequences, has indeed operated like an incurable wound upon the body of the man of sin. All his applications and exertions to effect a healing, by the skill and in trigues of the Jesuits, and other means, have proved utterly ineffectual. Large portions of the Papal do minions soon fell off. England, Scotland, Sweden, Denmark, about half the states of Germany, a number of cantons in Switzerland, and vast numbers of people in France, Hungary, and Bohemia, received the doctrines of the reformation, separated from the communion of the church of Rome, and utterly renounced the Papal authority. This was a sore indeed, and has already issued in the death of the Papal beast. As a false prophet, in the grasp of Antichrist, the phantom of the Papal power is dragging out a miserable existence, or rather is on his way to execution. But as the Papal beast, or a predominant power on the Roman earth, he is no more! The light of truth and grace, which broke out

It was

and shone at the time of the reformation, was indeed an event inost excellent in its nature and consequences. But it was both noisome and grievous to the men, who had the mark of the beast, peculiarly so, to the Pope, and all his clergy, and indeed to all the millions of zcalous Catholics, as is reproof to the scorner, and salut:ry rebuke to the irreclaimable son of Belial. miost vexing and distressing, as is a fretting and incurable sore upon the human body.

Or shall we not a little vary the figure, and say, the light of the reformation, the art of printing not long before invented, and the revival of learning in Europe, uncovered and presented to view the deep, filthy, and fatal ulcer formed in the body of the Papal church? They evinced to the world, that that body, instead of being the temple of Christ, was but a mass of corruption, like a great filthy ulcer! That the church of Rome, so long and so highly venerated, was Mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth: That with all her high pretensions, she was but a corrupt, filthy system, like a noisome and fatal sore upon the human body, by which the vitals are gradually destroyed. Such a figure is perfectly in point to represent such a case. We find it so used in sacred Writ, beside in the passage containing the first vial. To represent the very corrupt state of the Jewish church, in the days of Isaiah, God inspired that prophet to tell them, that from the sole of the foot, even unto the head, there is no sounulness in it; but wounds, and bruises, aud putrifying sores. Isai. i, 6.

. The same, only with an amazing emphasis, the Most High caused to be proclaimed to the world, relative to the church of Rome, at the reformation. How fitly then might this exposure of the "putrifying sores” of that system, be predicted in the mystical language of the first vial?

The event under consideration is so far from being incapable of being fitly represented by the figurative sore of the first vial, that it seems capable, in a twofold sense, of such a representation. This event may be said both to have inflicted, and discovered a noisome,

« AnteriorContinua »