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come, that thou shouldst give reward to thy servants the prophets, and to the saints. Since prophets, according to the general signification of the word in modern language, will not exist at the period here spoken of; it is necessary to have recourse to another interpretation ; an interpretation which the mind of the reader will probably anticipate. Whilst those styled saints may be supposed to denote good men in general and genuine Christians ; the term prophets may be reasonably thought to bear a somewhat narrower import, and to signify such as in an eminent degree sustain the character of instructors of mankind and of witnesses against errors and corruptions. This is the æra, when the Supreme Being shall distribute to them, in particular, favors and rewards ; and shall so alter the complexion of human affairs, that they shall not merely enjoy the blessings of life, unpersecuted and undisturbed, but shall obtain, from their fellow-citizens, an equitable, and consequently a liberal, share of estimation and regard. And the divine favors shall be extended to all who are of real worth ; for the small and great is, ' an expression, says Daubuz, 'which implies universality,' But before the world can be fitted for the residence of men of this character, another class of persons must first be destroyed, namely those who destroy the earth. To point out any language, lying in a compass equally narrow, more strongly descriptive of some among the tyrants of the European continent, would scarcely be possible. Struck with the force of the expression, a modern commentator of Scotland, when arrived at this verse, thus exclaims :Alas! and is this the character of the celebrated heroes, who shine in the annals of empires and kingdoms, whose names are immortalised by the conquest of such, perhaps, as were weaker and less wicked than themselves! Alas! what are they all but destroyers of the earth, desolating countries, murdering the inhabitants, or miserably plundering them of all their properties26. • We are perfectly sure,' says an ear
25 Kershaw, vol. II. p. 131.
lier Scotch commentator, Mr. Robertson,
6 of the nature of the persons, that they are no other than the enemies of the witnesses.' And of this verse it is observed by Mr. Waple, that it refers to what is called the great Battle of Armageddon”, in which the antichristian princes of the European world are to receive a decisive and dreadful overthrow.
One additional reflection shall conclude the observations on ch. xi. of St. John. It is in v. 13 we are told, that there was a great Earthquake in the Tenth Part of the symbolic city: it is in v. 15 we are assured, that the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ. The speediness with which the one is mentioned after the other naturally encourages the expectation, that the lesser Revolution will be preparatory to the greater, and that it will be followed by it at no very distant period of time. Accordingly Vitringa declares, that the Revolution, which would take place in the Tenth Part of the city, would speedily be followed by other more grievous judgments, which would bring on the final demolition of the antichristian empire28.
ON THE VIALS IN GENERAL.
AFTER introducing so many observations on the fourth vial, and on the seventh trumpet: it is proper, that I should state my idea respecting the vials in general more explicitly than I have hitherto done. That some or all of them have an intimate connection with the third woe or the seventh trumpet, has I believe never been denied.
In the commencement of this work, Mr. Fleming's explanation of the fourth vial has been brought forwards;
27 In Mede (p. 739) a similar observation occurs.
28 P. 485.
and it has I think been proved (the only thing of which I undertook to allege a proof), that, if that vial does relate to the Revolution in France, it is prophetic of the overthrow of its monarchy, and cannot be interpreted so as to appear unfriendly to the interests of the French nation. If Mr. Fleming's interpretation of the fourth vial be solid, it will then follow, that we are now living under the fifth vial; and I should not do justice to Mr. Fleming, were I not to observe; that this perfectly agrees with the statement of a learned and uncommonly industrious examiner of the Apocalypse. That the third woe is commenced appears from the 13th and 14th v. of ch. xi; and Dr. Cressener regards it as certain, that the fifth, sixth, and seventh vials constitute it, and consequently, that the beginning of the plague of the fifth vial is the beginning of the third woe!!!
But I should not act an open and ingenious part, were I not to declare, that I am now of opinion, that the pouring out of the vials was to be subsequent to the Earthquake in the Tenth Part of the city, and that the vials are only beginning to be fulfilled; an opinion respecting which I had come to no decision, when composing the two first chapters, of the work. If this be admitted, it follows of consequence, that the French revolution is not foretold by the symbols of the fourth vial, and that any arguments which have been or can be produced in favor of that opinion are inconclusive. Such a prediction, it must indeed be confessed, does not seem wanting, because v. 13 of ch. xi. may be justly thought prophetic of the revolution in France, and is, of itself, amply sufficient. I have, however, been induced to print the two first chapters of the work, partly because they were the foundation of it, partly because they contain observations susceptible of general application, and partly on account of the reasons, alleged in the preface to the present performance, which prompted me to commence it, and first occasioned me to turn my mind to prophetical inquiries. Though firmly persuaded, that the fourth vial
1 Judgm. on the Rom. Ch. p. 250, 260.
could not possibly be interpreted in a manner favorable to the enemies of the French revolution, I was never by any means equally confident that it pointed to the events of that revolution at all. In order to be convinced that the symbols of any particular prophecy are fulfilled in any particular event; I do indeed require a degree of evidence superior to that, which would ensure the assent of the generality of persons. Of those who have applied the predictions of the Apo. calypse to particular occurrences, many have encountered, and, I am perfectly ready to admit, have deserved, the imputation of credulity. But though it be taken for granted, that the vials were to be poured out subsequent to the accomplishment of the French Revolution : it should be observed, in justice to Mr. Fleming's interpretation of the fourth vial, that it does not therefore necessarily follow, that that vial has no reference to the overthrow of the Gallic monarchy. For let it be remembered, that the symbolic sun was extinguished, and the monarchy destroyed, a considerable time after the symbolic earthquake, or insurrection of the people, had taken place.
Some of the arguments, which have been brought forward to prove that all the vials are comprised under the seventh trumpet, shall now be produced?. I begin with a quotation from Mr. Whiston, who has investigated this question at great length. “The natural harmony, and visible method of the prophetic series in this book, does re: quire, that we apply the seven vials to the seventh trumpet, as its proper and only contents. This observation is freely allowed by a very considerable adversary of this opinion, the learned Dr. Cressener, in these remarkable words. " It must,” says he, “be acknowleged, that it would make a much fairer shew of concinnity, if the prophecy of the
2 That the seven vials are comprehended under the seventh trumpet, Mr. Fleming himself declares (p. 59). But then he supposes, as I conseive erroneously, that the period of the seventh trumpet had long ago commenced.
seven vials were included in the last woe, or the seventh trumpet. Otherwise these vials seem to interfere confusedly with the trumpets ; some of them in the time of the sixth trumpet, and the rest of them in the time of the seventh3.” The business of the third woe, or seventh trumpet, and of the seven vials, is the very same; for the vials are the seven plagues whereby the wrath of God is to be completed, and so all his enemies destroyed. And the business and effect of the seventh trumpet is the destruction of the remains of all the tyrannical and idolatrous empires of the world, and the setting up the kingdom of our Saviour. Which effects and consequences both of the seventh trumpet, and of the seven vials, being one and the same, it is highly reasonable, that the causes and instruments in both cases be supposed to be one and the same also: and that therefore the vials be esteemed no other than the contents of the seventh trumpet.' This is still more fully confirmed by what farther information we have at the conclusion of the account of the seventh trumpet, of the nature of its principal and concluding judgment, where we find it to be exactly the same that belongs to the concluding vial. At the conclusion of the seventh trumpet it is said, and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hails. Under the concluding vial we find the same account.-And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings, and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake and so great.-And there fell upon men great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talento. The words in the original are the very same here which we had before under the seventh trumpet; only with such additional exaggerations as a particular account ought to have above a short and general intimation?.'
3 Judgm. on the Rom. Ch. p. 272 4 Rev. xv. 1. 5 XI. 19.
' 6 XVI. 18, 21. 7. P. 52–61. Of what Mr. Whiston has urged on this point, I have cited only a small part.