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crusades of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. That the third, poured upon the rivers and fountains of water, and turning them to blood, was fulfilled in the persecutions of the Albigenses in the valleys of Piedmont, and in the quarrels between the ecclesiastical and the civil powers, concerning the right of investitures. That the fourth, poured upon the sun, was fulfilled in the rivalships of different popes, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. That the fifth, poured upon the seat of the beast, and filling his kingdom with darkness, was fulfilled in the events of the Reformation, by the instrumentality of Luther and others. That the sixth, drying the river Euphrates, was fulfilled in the drying up of the sources of papal wealth and power, after the Reformation. And the seventh, poured into the air, is to be fulfilled in the final destruction of popery, and all antichristian powers.
With this scheme there is an entire dissatisfaction. The vials are “the seven last plagues.” Could they, then, have commenced in the ninth century? If they did, they were the first, instead of the last plagues on the man of sin : and they were taking place while he was rising into power, and while he continued in his highest glory. This cannot be. Most of those events are destitute of the least appearance of their having been the last plagues. They were only such events as must have been expected to take place during the rise of the Man of Sin. And those events, at least the first four of them, do not, in any fit sense, accord with the imagery of the vials. This old scheme, then, cannot be correct.
One noted writer, feeling the impropriety of this scheme of the vials, leaps to the opposite extreme, and imagines there was no vial of wrath on the papal earth till the French revolution of 1789; and then, five of the vials, he imagines, were fulfilled almost at the same time, in that event, and its consequent terrors: and a still later writer seems to be of the same opinion. Let their scheme and mine be compared, and let the reader judge. A series of judgments had in fact been bringing down the papal see for some centuries before that revolution in France, and were precisely such events as appear to have been predicted in the first four vials. Why should these be excluded from a place among the vials of wrath upon popery? The vials were designed to bring down the
papal power after it had reached its greatest height; and the two last of them were designed at least to include other enemies of the Christ, besides the papal see; as will be shown. As popery was revelling in its highest zenith of impious glory; the voice in the text is heard, ordering the commencement of this series of judgments. And it then follows:
Ver. 2. And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell à noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.
The earth, in this text, must mean the Roman or papal earth. The papal beast rose out of the earth,—the earthly and carnal views of Romish Christians. And it must here allude to the same corrupt system. This is evident, in that the effect of this cup of wrath was upon the men who had the mark of the beast, and worshipped his image ; who belonged to the papal beast; and whose religion was but an imitation of paganism, under the Christian name. Upon this people, there fell “ a grievous ulcer.” (Ulkos, an ulcer.) To learn what was the event here fulfilled, we must inquire what was the first capital event which commenced the downfall of popery, from the zenith of its glory ? This clew appears infallible. And who needs to be informed that this first step was the unfolding of the rottenness of the system of the papal church, which discovery produced the Reformation early in the sixteenth century? This was, indeed, a fatal stroke, and the first given to that most wicked power. It was a death-wound inflicted on the body of the Man of Sin. Till now, he appeared in his highest glory,-felt superior to all danger, -and bade defiance to all opposition; as was manifest in his extravagant claims and insolence, and the vast revenues from the sales of licenses to sin to any degree. This scandalous blasphemy of Leo X. opened the eyes of Martin Luther; excited his zeal against a system so horrid and facilitated his exposure of the filthy ulcer of the whole papal system. And most fitly was this event represented
in the text, as the falling of a noisome grievous ulcer upon the people of that corrupt system. It showed the whole to be but a great filthy sore. And at the same time it operated as a deadly sore from a wound now inflicted on the Man of Sin. All his applications, to effect a cure by the skill and intrigues of the Jesuits, and by other means, proved ineffectual. Large portions of the papal earth now learned the deep and fatal corruptions of the papal system, and fell off, as shall be shown. This was a sore indeed; and has issued in the death of the papal beast, as a beast, or predominant power. The art of printing, (invented eighty years before), and the revival of learning in Europe, after the horrors of the dark ages, aided the Reformers, in presenting popery to view as a filthy and fatal ulcer on a human body; instead of being the holy church of Christ, as had been claimed. And the figure in our text is most happy, in predicting this event. It fully accords with prophetic language in similar cases. See Isa. i., where a very corrupt state of the Jewish church is thus described: “ From the sole of the foot, to the head, there is no soundness; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores.” In the papal system was the same abomination, only to a far more fatal degree than had ever existed before in any community. And to unfold this, was such a step as might be expected to commence the downfall of popery. A beam of light was let into the dark recess; or a long concealment was taken off from the blasphemous system, which had been hid from the world of people under the most sanctimonious pretences. Were a magistrate about to put an end to some scene of wickedness long operating behind a curtained concealment, how would he commence the business? Would he not, after preparing to seize the guilty actors, and after having silently presented himself by the side of the guilty apartment,--draw aside the curtain which screened them? Then the way would be prepared to take them, and bring them to justice. This drawing of the curtain was the most fit operation of the first vial, though under a somewhat different figure; the effect is the same. And the way was thus prepared for subsequent judgments. Here is a nest of vipers concealed under a stone: you set forth to destroy them; and after due preparation, you first turn off the stone, which covers them; and then the way is prepared for their destruction.
When God is determined to destroy the blind confidence of a sinner, he lets a ray of light into his conscience, and convinces him of sin. In the process of the final judgment, the light of truth will shine clearly into impenitent souls; refuges of lies will thus be swept away, and the way be prepared for the punishment which is to follow. In a degree similar to this, was the process which God saw fit to take with the Man of Sin, when the time arrived for the commencement of the vials of his wrath upon that power. Such a discovery of the hateful abomination of that system, was the effect of the first vial. And its language is most appropriate and forcible, that the people, now to be exposed, should be represented as consuming with a great filthy fatal sore ;—the very figure adopted by Inspiration to denote a system of hypocrisy. Isa. i. 6.
As the responsibility of the scheme which I shall present, of the first five of the vials, rests on me as the first who has beat this trackless way; I must be indulged the liberty of being more particular in exhibiting my reasons for adopting and presenting this scheme, and in vindicating the correctness of it. It is an historical fact, that the papal system continued in its highest elevation till early in the sixteenth century ;-that then it experienced a fatal reverse; that it has ever since been sinking under a succession of divine judgments ;—that the sixteenth century opened with events great and portentous to the papal see, and to mankind;--that a new era of affairs did indeed then
The fanatical crusades, which had been performed to the Holy Land, had tended much to the confirming of the papal power. They had given to the pope the management of the donations, legacies, and revenues, poured forth for the support of those wars. Nothing could better have served his purpose, and rendered his influence supreme and absolute. He had the control of all those crusades. And yet those same wars served to cause light to arise upon the dark ages. The multitudes of ignorant beings who travelled abroad in those wars, and came to the knowledge of improvements,-in Constantinople, and other places, which they never before dreamed of, brought home with them new ideas of the world, and of the benefits of civilization. They communicated their ideas to others, and a spirit of emulation and improvement began to arise. Civil government soon took the place of the
anarchy of the feudal times. Contentious barons perished in those expeditions, and their arbitrary possessions fell into the hands of better men; and the terrors of the feudal ages began to give way to a better state of things. Commerce forced itself into view, from the necessity of supplying the wants of the hosts of the crusades, in different and distant regions. Light in the art of civil government increased; and towns, with incorporated privileges, became extensively established in the north of Europe. The chivalry of those days (designed to maintain valour, humanity, justice, honour, courtesy ;—and to redress the oppressed) operated as a means of refinement, and of benefit to mankind in that twilight, after a long night of ignorance. And, after the taking of Constantinople by the Turks, in 1453, many of its inhabitants fled, with their literature and books, to the west, and aided in the revival of learning. These things prepared the way for the sixteenth century to open with a certain prospect of new and better times for Zion; and of terrible things for popery. Cotton Mather, speaking upon that period, says, “Three most remarkable things, bearing a great aspect on human affairs, then took place. 1. The resurrection of literature. 2. The opening of America. 3. The Reformation." Whether the vials commenced then, or not; it is a fact, that at the very period of the Reformation, the intellectual and civil improvements of the people of Europe had prepared the way most remarkably for the overthrow of popery to commence its operations, and to take from the eyes of mankind the bandages of superstition and delusion, with which they had so long been blindfolded. This blindfold was then in fact taken from the eyes of millions !
With these approaches towards light and civilization, there came forward also a systematic preparation for war. Standing armies were formed; and men were trained to the use of firearms, and the arts of war. Charles the Second, king of France, took the lead; and a door was opened for desolating wars. The idea of the balance of power, for the mutual safety of the nations of Europe, was formed; which, in after days, furnished ample employment to those nations in scenes of blood and terror. The art of war with fire-arms, became now a study; and many became adepts in it. Gunpowder and firearms had not long before been invented, -refined means for a new era