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The Fifth Vial
10. “ And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat 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 deeds."
If the extension of the imperial or sovereign authority under Buonaparte, and the injuries of its sudden blaze, on all the nations of the European continent, be, indeed, the fulfilment of the former vial, we shall see cause to suspect that this vial has likewise had its fulfilment, in the strange reverse that has happened to this burning sun of the Roman world.
The judgment may seem, indeed, to have been poured on his very seat, the capital of his empire; and instead of a sun shining with increased heat, total darkness has succeeded. Indeed, it were difficult to tell, at this present moment, who is to be considered as the nominal head of the Roman empire among the sovereigns of Europe. It seems strictly analogous to the general style of these symbolical prophecies, to say the imperial sun shines nothis kingdom is full of darkness. And it will be thought by many, that nothing can more aptly describe the mortified pride and distressing humiliation of the disappointed tyrant and his satellites, and especially the ill-brooked restraints to which, in the absence of their military head, his former soldiers and partizans are compelled to submit, than the language of the prediction," they gnawed their
tongues for pain.” Nor will the application of the prophecy be rebutted, it is to be feared, by their religious or moral improvement in adversity.
But whether the four last vials can or cannot be shown to have been fulfilled in the recent history of Europe, to the entire satisfaction of the reader of prophecy; all will agree that the events symbolized by the next vial are still future; and the eyes of all will be intent upon the quarter of the globe clearly pointed out in the prophecy, to mark if any such events occur as its symbols seem to signify, and which — occurring as we suspectwould at once verify and confirm our dubious course through the last four vials.
The Sixth Vial.
12. “ And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.”
An unaccomplished prophecy we cannot attempt to explain, except in its general outline, from a reference to some supposed analogy to other prophecies which have been fulfilled. We shall, of course, as most expositors have done, compare the language of this prediction with that of the sixth trumpet, where the river Euphrates is also mentioned. By the symbol of loosing four angels bound in, or “ upon the border of,” this river, the rise of the Ottoman Turks was there foretold. It seems not improbable that the decay and exhausture of the same empire is prognosticated by the symbol of the drying up of that river: and, it may be, the decay and exhaustion of the other great branch of the Mahometan power, the kingdom of Persia, which is also situated on the course of the Euphrates, and is somewhat more connected with that river.
The effect of the accomplishment of this prophecy will be, that “ the way of the kings of the east may be prepared.” Who these “ kings of the east," or the sun-rising," are, perhaps appears not as yet. We can only quote the language of other prophecies that seem to forebode the same event:
Ah, country, continually extending the shadow of its wings,
under foot, Whose land the rivers have spoiled, &c. Who hath raised up the Just One from the east, Hath called him to his feet! Hath given up nations before him, Hath subdued kings! Hath rendered his sword as a column of dust, And as the driven stubble his bow? He pursued them, he went on prosperously, He touched not the road with his feet. +
* Isaiah, xviii.
† Chap. xli. 2.
Compare, also, the description of the parties, in the vision of Ezekiel, who question the deed of the last adversary : “ Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of
: Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof,” &c. I
And what is said respecting the fears of the last adversary in Daniel, || _“But tidings out of the east and
out of the north shall trouble him,” &c.
Upon the whole, then, it appears that some active instruments of Divine Providence will be raised up in this direction, who, probably, will be employed in the restoration of his ancient people Israel. Mr. Mede and Mr. Faber are of opinion, and Mr. Cuninghame rather coincides with them, that the restored children of Israel are intended by the kings of the east. Mr. Granville Sharp thought that the risen saints of the first resurrection are designated by this appellation.
But we are to remark, - whether by “kings of the east" be meant some subordinate instruments, or the Lord from heaven, with his holy myriads, immediately,that the symbol of this vial only says their way is prepared by the drying up of the waters of the Euphrates. And this vial may truly be called THE VIAL OF THE PREPARATION. Not only is the way of the kings of the
east prepared, but the remainder of its symbols shows the great fourth empire preparing also for the grand conflict, which is to end in its own destruction, and to prepare the way for the establishment of Messiah's promised kingdom.
13. “And I saw three unclean spirits, like frogs, come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of Almighty God.”
We understand the crisis that is approaching - we understand the parties from whence these new symbols originate; but as to the symbols themselves, all conjecture must be at a stand.
The battle of that “ great day of Almighty God” has been, first and last, the grand theme of prophecy: the conflict thereby intended we cannot mistake. The dragon, as we have learned, symbolizes the immediate influence of Satan upon the people of the fourth or Roman empire. The beast, as distinguished from the dragon, was the revived Roman empire, formed of the distinct sovereignties of modern Europe. The false prophet cannot be applied to any other power than to the second lamb-like beast, who exercised the power of the first beast before him, and erected an image of him: that is to say, the Roman ecclesiastical state, or the apostate Christian priesthood, spread throughout the whole empire of the beast, but erecting the grand idol of their worship and the bond of their unity and power in the great city that ruleth over the kings of the earth.”
So far, therefore, is plain,- that from these three known agents who have so long been manifested to the world, and from some future combination of their powers