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“ with all plagues, as often as they will.” The witnessesare chiefly the clergy, and their power to smite the earth with plagues, is during the time which follows their mourning prophecy; that is after their refurrection and afcenfion, which coincides with the seventh trumpet, and confe. quently with these vials '. Further, the punishment inflicted is procured by the prayers of the church. It is for this reason that the wrath of God is faid to be contained in golden vials, alluding to the golden censers under the law, in which sweet incense was offered to God. Thus, the living creatures and elders are represented having golden vials full of odours, chap. v. 8. The incense was obviously typical of prayer; for in the temple-service, while the in
(1) The whole verfe runs thus: “These have power to “ Thút heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophe« cy, and have power over waters to turn them to blood, " and to smite the earth with all plagues; as often as they “ will." Their power to shut heaven is in the days of their prophecy ; that is, during the 1260 days in which they wear fackcloth ; and their power to smite the earth with plagues, is in the period that follows after. I confider these words, “ in the days of their prophecy,” as inserted to distinguish betwixt these two distinct periods, for if both the powers mentioned were enjoyed at the same time, it would have been more natural to have placed these words either at the beginning or end of the verse.
cense was burning, a solemn silence prevailed, and the whole congregation was employed in prayer, so that the time of incense was called the hour of prayer. But to put the matter beyond all controversy, we are told, that the gol. den vials full of odours are " the prayers of “ Saints.” They are called vials, rather than censers, to intimate, that they are transparent as glass or crystal, typical of the superior light and glory enjoyed under the Gospel, beyond that which belonged to the Mosaic dispensation ; for the same reason, a fea of glass is represented, chap. xy. 2. alluding to that in Solomon's temple, which was made of brass .
7. An attention to the conduct of Providence must convince us, that an infinitely wise God has disposed events in every period, so as to resemble one another, whether those events respect the calamities and deliverances of his church, or the rise and fall of empires. It is the observation of the wisest of men, “ The “ thing that has been, it is that which shall be, " and that which is done is that which shall be
(1) This account of the agents accords with the parallel vision of the state of the church at the same period, but can by no means agree to any time past. It further af. fords a presumption, that the period of pouring out these vials is at a considerable distance. Christian piety and zeal are in our days too scanty, to furnish agents of the def. cription given above.
" done, and there is nothing new under the 66 sun.” Nor can we wonder at this similarity of events in every period, when we reflect that the same God carries on the same end, and governs the same subjects; for, “ as face answer“eth to face in a glass, so does the heart of " man to a man.” Now an attention to the conduct of Providence would rectify that love of the marvellous, and that expectation of ex. traordinary interpositions, which have frequenta ly led to error, in the application of prophecy. To the influence of thefe principles, are owing partly the blindness of the Jews, in applying the prophecies concerning the Messiah, and the extravagance of the primitive fathers, in their conjectures concerning Antichrist; while Popish writers have availed themselves of the fame principles, for the defence of the Papacy against the charge of Antichristianism, by describing Antichrift with such characters as neither have been, nor shall be verified in the world. Direct. ed by these observations, I proceed to illustrate the vials in their order, by offering probable conjectures concerning the events represented by them.
The First Vial.
And I heard a great voice out of the tem“ ple, saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, 6 and pour out the vials of the wrath of God “ upon the earth. And the first went, and pour" ed out his vial upon the earth; and there fell “ a noisome and grievous fore upon the men
which had the mark of the beast, and upon " them which worshipped his image," Rev. xvi. 1, 2.
The church being now constituted, and bless sed with the divine presence, by the voice of her public teaching, directs to the time and manner of inflicting the last plagues on the adhe. rents of Antichrist. Accordingly, having issued her mandate, “ the first angel went and poured 'n out his vial on the earth.” The first trum. pet brought a plague on the earth. The earth there represents the territory, or rather the sub, jects of Imperial Rome. Here it must signify the persons subject to the spiritual jurisdiction of Papal Rome. Accordingly the persons affected by it, are the men who had the mark of the beast, and worshipped his image. The plague
occasioned by it, is “ a noisome and greivous “ fore.” This unquestionably refers to one of the plagues of Egypt, Exod. ix. 9. But a sore taken spiritually, fignifies fin, which is a disease and deformity of the soul. To this purpose the prophet uses these expressions: “ The whole " head is sick, and the whole heart faint; from 66 the fole of the foot even to the head, there is “ no foundness in it, but wounds and bruises,
and putrifying fores," Ifa. i. 6. which represent figuratively what he had said plainly, (ver. " 4.), Ah! sinful nation, a people laden with ini“ quity, a seed of evil doers, children that are “ corrupters.” I humbly apprehend, therefore, that the event pointed out in this vial, is, That the impiety and immorality of the Popish superstition shall be convincingly urged on the followers of the beast at the period specified, so that the boldest defenders of that superstition shall not be able to contradict the evidence, but must retire with secret anguish from the field of argument, like the magicians of Egypt, who would not stand before Mofes, because of their boils, Exod. ix. II. I am the more inclined to this opinion, because the witnesses are the agents, by whom all thele plagues are inflicted; and the Reformation furnishes an event similar to the plague of this vial. At that time every tongue was employed, every pen was occupied, in de