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that was good in religion, morals, and settled government, throughout the world. The evil spirits appear to have been at work upon this project for some time previous to the irruption. But the execution of the plan, in the hands of men, failed to effect the object of it. The religious persecution fell, not upon the professors of the pure Christian faith, but upon their enemies, the ministers of the papal hierarchy. The kings, unwilling agents in this cause, were not seduced, but forced to bear their part in it. The contest, after a time, became wholly political, and at length ended in the settlement both of religion and civil government throughout the nations of Europe, similar to that in which they had previously stood. It has passed by, leaving us to look forward to some more complete fulfilment of the prophecy, when the kings shall be gathered together by the 'seducing spirits to the great battle.
THE SEVENTH VIAL.
This vial is poured out upon the air; upon that element which was considered in ancient times as pervading or enveloping all the other divisions of the world ; and, in this case, of the antichristian world, on which the preceding vials had been discharged, —the land, sea, rivers, and heavenly luminaries, and consequently it smites them all. It is the region of the air, of which Satan, as Mede observes, is denominated the prince, (Eph. ii. 2.) The antichristian powers are therefore attacked in their strongest hold, and in every part. The discharge of this vial is accompanied with a voice from the throne in heaven, proclaiming, by the emphatic expression, yeyove, it is done, the completion of the promise, in ch. x.
that at the sound of this trumpet “ the mystery of God should be finished.” It produces a great and unparalleled earthquake; the great city is divided into three parts; the cities of the nations fall, great Babylon is peculiarly visited and afflicted; the islands flee away; the mountains are no longer to be seen; hail-stones of immense size fall from heaven upon the men, who blaspheme God from their sufferings.
These inflictions are symbolical, and are to be explained in a spiritual sense. They fall upon the enemies of Christ's holy religion. The great city appears to be the same as mentioned in ch. xi. containing many people, kindreds or tribes, tongues and nations,” rejoicing over the death of the witnesses. These are the men who, thus grievously stricken, blaspheme.
It has been the opinion of many commentators, that the earthquakes, with their attendant commotions, as described under the sixth seal, the sixth trumpet, and this last vial, all belong to the same future history, and are to be considered as synchronical. In my former work I was led to adopt that opinion generally, but with some reservations; but my review of these prophecies has occasioned me to retract it.
In my comment upon the sixth seal, (ch. vi. 12, to the end, and ch. vii.) I have endeavoured to show, by comparison of this earthquake with many others of the same character in holy Scripture, that the time for its perfect fulfilment is that of the great and final day of judgment. Such a completion of it was to be expected under the seals, which exhibit a rapid sketch of the fortunes of the Christian Church from the beginning to the end. The awful history is told in a few symbols, easy to be interpreted; the heavenly lights are disfigured and extinguished; the mountains and islands removed out of their places, men of all denominations strive to hide themselves from the face of him sitting upon the throne and of the Lamb, for the great day of his wrath is come, and who can stand ? Here, as in the other two earthquakes, there is no dividing or falling of particular cities, no remnant of the men left, either to glorify God or blaspheme him; the catastrophe is universal and final.
i See the notes in chap. vi. and viii.
of the sixth trumpet, ch. xi. 13. These may be compared with those under our present consideration.
The earthquake under the sixth trumpet, (ch, xi. 14.) is connected immediately with the time of the witnesses, their death and resurrection, and is dated “in that same hour.” It may perhaps have been fulfilled, partially at least, in the commotions of the Reformation. Yet a part of the prophecy, or the whole of it, may extend to some future times, but probably not to the great final day of judgment. The heavenly bodies and the earth are not swept away as under the earthquake of the sixth seal : some inhabitants remain, and fear God, and glorify him. Add to this, that being represented under the second woe, and another and third woe being to succeed, it seems on that account not intended to reach to the time of the end.
The earthquake under the seventh vial, which has employed our latest attention, is of the same character in this respect. The wrath of God falls upon particular objects, the great city, the cities of the nations, great Babylon; and a remant of the sufferers is left, who are unrepentant and blaspheme. Yet there is one particular circumstance, in which this earthquake agrees with that of the sixth seal; in both of these the mountains and islands are moved out of their places. The mountains are places of refuge and resistance for a routed army; the islands afford hope of safety from their surrounding seas. In a spiritual sense, the mountains are considered as the strong holds of antichristian idolatry. The islands or isles of the sea represent the heathen nations of the western world. In either sense, this part of the prophecy may be fulfilled before the total destruction of the globe.
The great Harlot, or Babylon.
CHAP. xvii. ver. 1–18.
1 And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters :
2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication;
5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINA
TIONS OF THE EARTH.
6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus : and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.
7 And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.
8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
9 And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.
10 And there are seven kings : five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a
11 And the beast that was and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.
12 And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.
13 These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.
14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and king of kings : and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.
15 And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.
16 And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.
17 For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.
18 And the woman which thou sawest that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.
To collect and state all the various opinions of the commentators on this chapter, with the arguments by which they are supported, would be a task almost endless, and much too extensive for the object of this publication. In order to give the student a simple and clear notion of the interpretation of it, I purpose to analyse the contents under their prominent parts or divisions, and collecting the results of these separately, apply them afterwards by compa