« السابقةمتابعة »
water is, that the way of the king's who come from the risings of the sun, may be prepared.
1. Euphrates was the general boundary of the ancient Roman empire to the east.' It is frequently called in scripture the great river. The promise of God to Abraham, of the heritage to be possessed by his posterity is, “ the land from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates,” (Gen. xv. 18.) And afterwards, when their God and King uttered his commands from Horeb, they were ordered to take possession of the land promised, “ from the sea side to the great river Euphrates,” (Deut. i. 6–9; xi. 21 ; Josh. i. 3, 4.) This great river was therefore the boundary also of the Israelites to the east, or sun-rising. Beyond it was the empire of the Assyrians; and on this river stood Babylon, its famous capital, which first corrupted, and then subdued and carried away captive the people of God. Isaiah foretells the invasion, which effected this misery, under the figurative symbol of the waters of Euphrates, that is, the king of Assyria and his armies violently overflowing the land of Judæa and the countries beyond, and destroying every thing in their course, (ch. viii. 7.) But in the passage of the prophecy which we are now considering, Eupbrates and his king and people, do not act as a desolating flood ; his power of that kind is to be annihilated, his water exhausted ; so that he no longer presents a barrier to prevent the passage of the troops or tribes of other nations, whether hostile or friendly, to other parts of the world. But, thirdly, for what purpose, with what object in view, is this power exhausted ? Answer: “that the way of the kings from the risings of the sun may be prepared.” But of
Vitringa quotes Plutarch, in the Life of Lucullus, as an evidence of this.
what description are the kings and people, dwelling to the east of Euphrates, who may delight to see this barrier, this impediment to their passage, removed ? In answering this question, we cannot but look to the personages described in scripture under this denomination, and particularly in the Apocalypse,-kings, the heads and rulers of nations, frequently styled “the kings of the earth,” (Rev. i. 5; vi. 15; xvi. 14 ; xvii. 2, 18; xix. 19; xxi. 24.)
Some passages in this prophetical book, and also in that of Daniel, seem to confine our view to the ten kingdoms into which the dissolved empire of Rome was divided, and consequently to the kingdoms on this side of Euphrates, in the western world ; but these, by the words of the prophecy, are excluded. It is for the kings from the east that the passage over Euphrates is prepared.
Beyond this great river, to the east, is an immense extent of nations and tribes, peopled almost wholly with enemies to the Christian name, chiefly with Mahometans and Pagans. Now, to what kings and people can we look, as called to pass the Euphrates from the east, if not to these? They may come either as friends or foes to the Christian cause, we are not informed which ; but the event, whatever it may be, will be highly favourable to this heavenly cause, and fall as a stroke of heavenly vengeance upon its enemies, for such is the destination of all the vials. It is possible that the prediction may be literally fulfilled by the march of armies invading the antichristian, Euphrates, like Jordan, and the tongue of the Red Sea being miraculously divided for their passage. But the judicious interpreter of prophecy will not expect such an event. The object to be obtained by the passage is, the promotion of the kingdom of God and his anointed, and the subjection of his enemies; and history will tell us that the force of armies and crusaders has been vainly employed for such a purpose. “ The kingdom of God is within us,” and the hearts and consciences of men must be won before the conquest is obtained. It is therefore in a spiritual sense that we must look forward to the fulfilment of this prophecy, and many others which foretell the universal prevalence and reign of the Christian religion. The pious exertions of individual societies in the promotion of this great object, cannot be too much commended and enforced; but the impediments they have to encounter are immense, and their progress proportionably slow. By this short prophecy, however, we are led to hope and expect that all impediments will be removed, and the passage from eastern Mahometanism and idolatry, to pure and saving faith effected, even by miraculous interposition, if such, in the divine wisdom, shall be deemed necessary.
The Second Part of the Sixth Vial. The commentators are generally agreed, that this part of the prophecy is not yet fulfilled.' The method of proceeding with such a prediction should be first to explain the symbolical words in which it is delivered, and then to offer such conjectures upon the purport of it as scriptural analogy and careful consideration may suggest.
Ver. 13. The apostle, in the vision now before him, beholds three unclean spirits, like frogs, coming from the mouths of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. In the next verse, the nature and character of these spirits is described : They are spirits of devils (Aaluoviwv) working miracles.” Evil spirits are permitted in this world to suggest wicked thoughts and actions to the depraved minds of men willing to entertain them. The operation is spiritual, and, to the mortal eye, invisible ; but, in the vision, that they may appear of some definite sbape, they are said to be like frogs; like to that loathsome animal, numbers of which by heavenly command were brought up from the Nile, effecting one of the ten plagues of Egypt, (Exod. x.) But these are not frogs, but seem "like unto" them. Vitringa takes some pains to show that these evil spirits are men ; but the corporeal form, here given to them, does not agree with this notion ; nor does the object in which they are engaged, which is to seduce the kings of the earth to forsake and oppose the Almighty God, in the battle of the great day, at Armageddon. This is done by the evil spirits themselves, who have a power acknowledged constantly in holy Scripture, and the result of it felt by the human race, the power of seducing us from our duty by arguments silently addressed to our bad passions, and formed frequently upon false representations and promises. In the history of king Ahab, we have a lively picture of a vision, which may be useful in directing us to the interpretation of this. He is seduced by the false promises of “ an evil spirit” to go to battle and to victory, but he goes to his destruction, (1 Kings, ch. xxii.) The evil spirits in the vision now before us are permitted to perform apparent miracles. To what use and extent this power is given, may be seen by recurring to a similar passage in ch. xiii. 14, and comparing both with St. Paul's first Epistle to Timothy (ch. iv. 1.) where he describes a future apostasy in the Church, to arise from professed Christians“ giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils,” (προσεχοντες πνευμασι πλανους και διδασκαλιαις δαιμονιων. In this prophecy of the Apocalypse, we have the same “ seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils,” and coming from the mouths of the three great leaders of anti-christianity,—the arch-fiend himself, the beast invested with his power; and the false prophet, the artful promoter of their reign-we may fairly conjecture, that the kings of the earth are to be led to their own destruction by similar means.
1 There are very few exceptions to this general opinion. Among these we find the respectable names of Grotius and Hammond. We have already shown that these learned men had taken up a strange notion of interpreting the symbols in chapters xiii. xvi. &c. by applying them to the history of the Roman emperors before Constantine the Great. One misconception is apt to introduce another; and they have nagined that the verification of the sixth vial can be seen in the history of the same times.
Of these three fathers and producers of the three evil spirits, the first is the author of all wickedness; the second, under his direction, is the inflicter of all political misery-of tyranny, injustice, oppression, slavery, and cruelty, under every form of government, whether despotic or republican, and at all times of the world.' The third is the hypocritical arch-minister of religion, which he first corrupts and debases, and then derives from it a sanction for all the wickedness devised and perpetrated by himself and his coadjutors.
By the three evil spirits thus produced and instructed, the kings and nations of the earth are gathered together to the great conflict of Armageddon, which signifies the mountain of destruction."
This is the only vision in the Apocalypse in which I have been able to discern any probable prediction of the French revolution; and I noted it as such in my former publication. It began with a torrent of violence and wickedness, threatening to overturn all
1 Bishop Newton, as collected from the elder commentators. The bishop has justly remarked, that our received translation is faulty in this passage : “ He gathered them together” should be rendered “they gathered them together;" for it is the work of the evil spirits, the verb singular (avrnyayev) answering to the neuter plural ακαθαρτα πνευματα. .