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was at this
emergency, it was at this moment of dilemma to which happily despotism was reduced, that Louis XVI. was OBLIGED to establish an unfettered liberty of the press, to disclose the desperately disordered state of the finances, and reluctantly to assent to the convocation of the StatesGeneral of the kingdom: events, which laid an immediate foundation for the radical revolution which speedily fol. lowed, The stream of national wealth, which had been wont to flow into the coffers of royalty, it was then thought proper in a great degree to turn a different way; and, at the present period, even the acknowleged magnificence of the French monarchy possesses not, in the judgment of a republican Frenchman, any attractive lustre, since it requires to be maintained by a perpetual renewal of fresh supplies of revenue, and would drain every channel in which the riches of the state are accustomed to circulate.
It may be asked, whether if Mr. Fleming had foretold, in language altogether explicit and equivocal, the total downfall of monarchy, in a country so near and so extensive as France, the idea would not have been likely to have rendered him unpopular among that party in which he had enlisted himself, the whigs of that time, the zealous supporters of the throne of king William ?
On the meaning of Mr. Fleming's metaphor of fuel, it was allowable to indulge conjecture. But, in explaining the symbols of the prophets, a far different conduct must be pursued. No loose must be given to imagination. It will be proper to enquire, not what may be the meaning of any particular symbol, and what will best correspond to any particular hypothesis, but what is its actual and fixed sig. nification.
Thus, as the symbolic meaning of the sun is an hinge upon which the interpretation of the fourth vial in a great degree turns, it is necessary to enquire, what is the accept
deficit amounted to 115 millions of livres, or about 4,750,0001. This is the government, conducted with such boundless extravagance, over the down. fall of which a numerous band of English senators and nobility have so feelingly lamented,
ation it elsewhere bears in the Apocalypse, and in what manner it is there understood by the commentators. But as the discussion of this subject may, with more advantage, be incorporated into a future chapter, it will be here sufficient, concisely to cite the opinions of a few of the expositors, and to assure the reader, that commentators agree in interpreting the darkening of the third part of the sun, mentioned in ch. viii, of St. John, v. 12. of the destruction of a monarchy. But, that the effusion of this vial threatens only a single monarchy, I would by no means take upon me to assert.
The remarks which follow have been made upon the fourth vial, and relate to this symbol in particular. This prophecy,' says Mr. Parker, ‘is predictive of some heavy judgment which is to fall on the symbolic sun ; and the sun-fitly here designeth some king or state, even as’ it elsewhere does?. It may,' says a yet earlier commentator, Mr. Cotton of New England, denote some chief governor in the 'antichristian state, of eminent lustres.' This vial, says Dr. Thos. Goodwin, is prophetic of the ruin of some eminent potentate. I now cite his words:
• The sun here (according to the third premise or rule given) may be put for the more illustrious light, or prince, adhering to the Popish party, and shining in his political heaven".' • The sun,' says Peganius, " in the world of the papacy, is the greatest potentate of that religion,' To the same purpose speaks Joseph Mede.
• This emblem,' says Vitringa, represents to us some powerful prince, or a number of princes of the same kind, shining with great splendor in the world of the beast.' That it points not at all to the Roman pontiff, he declares himself fully persuaded. That he has however been included in the explanation of this vial, will appear from the following citation. By the sun here we are to understand,' says an annotator of the last cen
2 Master Robert Parker on the Fourth Vial, 1650. p. 6. 3 Mr. John Cotton on the Seven Vials, 1645. p. 58.
4 P. 99,
tury, the emperor of Germany, the French king, and the pope of Rome, who are the great lights in the Roman Papal kingdom'
This annotator's interpretation, had he omitted the pontiff, would have coincided with that of Mr. Fleming; since the latter declares, and his words have already been cited, that the fourth vial, ` must be principally understood of the houses of Austria and Bourbon.'
An earlier writer than Mr. Fleming, the learned Dr. Cressener, though materially differing from him in his explication of the fourth vial, did, on some points, perfectly coincide with him. “This vial,' says Dr. Cressener,' is a severe judgment on the Roman Catholic party :' the sun, he declares, is to be understood of the king of France, who is so considerable in Europe, as to go under the name of Louis the Great ;' and who, as the doctor observes in a subsequent page, is in so eminent a manner the greatest potentate in Europe, and is every where known by the name of the Most Christian King, for his eminency in the Roman party' It is,' says this writer, 'not a little remarkable, that the French court should be so extremely fond of the figure of the sun, for their king's device', so as even to stamp it upon the public coin, and should be so zealous in the defence of the propriety of it against all opposers?.'
5 An Expos. of the Rev. by H. K. 1689.
6 Of the motto to this device, nec pluribus-impar, it is observed by Vol. taire, that it has not a meaning sufficiently clear and determinate. “This device had,' however he says, extraordinary success. The royal furniture and coats of arms, as well as the tapestry and sculptures of the palaces, were all adorned with it.' Le Siecle de Louis XIV. ch. 25. With a reference to this device, the following story may be related. When the earl of Stair was embassador to the court of Berlin, it was agreed at a dia plomatic dinner to give symbolical toasts. Whilst the French ambassador gave the sun, as the well-known representative of his master, the Spanish minister, finding the sun disposed of, was obliged to satisfy himself with giving the next great luminary the moon, as emblematic of the king of Spain. Lord Stair being next called upon to give a representation of the king of England, said, 'Well then, I will give Joshua, the sun of Nun, who made both the sun and the moon stand still.'
7 Judg. upon the R. C. p. 207, 242.
However diffusive, the remarks hitherto made on the fourth vial are imperfect. Of this prophecy one branch remains unexamined. If v. 8 be admitted to be a prediction of the downfall of the Gallic monarchy, the following verse, as constituting a part of it, will probably be regarded as foretelling the calamities of the supporters of that monarchy, and particularly of those among them, who emigrated from France, with the design of co-operating together for its re-establishment.
The 9th v. is thus expressed : And men were scorched with great heats, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues ; and they repented not, to give him glory. To be scorched with great heat, is to suffer great calamity. To blaspheme the name of God, as Theodoret and Suicerus observe, is to cast reproaches against God'; and this is done from a dissatisfaction at the events which his providence permits or appoints. And can it be doubted, whether the emigrants of France, and all who stood forwards in that country as the zealous supporters of its monarchy, have been exposed to the most poignant calamities? Can it be doubted, whether many of them, strangers to that spirit of resignation which the gospel, inculcates, have not, in fact, blasphemed the name of God, who alone hath power over these plagues ; and whether they have not loudly murmured at the severity of his chastisements and the dispensations of his providence ?
But, on a cursory perusal of the verse, some possibly may apprehend, that to blaspheme the name of God, is to make an open profession of infidelity, or of atheism ; and having assumed this as the meaning of the words, may conceive that the verse admits of the best application to
8 i. e. Says Lowman (in loc.) they were greatly afflicted.' Accordingly, Dr. Lancaster has not omitted to observe, that heat is a symbol of tribulation.
9 In our New Testaments, Baromew is translated not only to blaspheme, but to rail, to revile, and to speak evil of. Thus Mr. Wakefield translates the clause I am considering: and they reviled the name of that God, who hath power over these punishments.
the whole of the French nation. If, however, the expression should be thought to have this import, a supposition which I believe to be groundless; still I maintain, that it may be applied with far greater propriety to the French emigrants in particular, than to the people of France in general. The royalists who emigrated from that country haye, to use the metaphor of the prophet, not only been scorched with great heat, they have not only been overtaken by the most signal misfortunes ; but the infidelity of a large portion of them is a fact of public notoriety. It was among those who abandoned France, with the hope of annihilating iţs liberties ; it was among the noblesse, the satellites of the court, the officers of the army, and the dignified eccleşiastics, that the gloomy sentiments of infidelity had made the widest progress. With these principles the great body of the people were assuredly far less tainted. It is added, in the verse quoted above, that the men, who were exposed to the plagues inflicted by the command of heaven, repented not. To many of the French emigrant-royalists this clause also may be aptly applied. Those who were infidels in the days of their prosperity continue so still. That benevolent providence, which superintended the commencement of the French revolution, they were little disposed to acknowlege. Upon their former scenes of riotous indulgence, upon their past acts of aristocratic violence, they cast a look, not of penitence, but of desire. Instead of repenting the long series of oppressions, which they had exercised upon the unprivileged ranks of society ; instead of giving God glory for the changes which had taken place in France, so extensively favorable to the happiness of mankind'o : instead of endeavoring to make some compensation for that diffusive misery, which their luxurious indolence had contributed to extend and establish ; thousands of them set every epigime at work to accomplish the ruin of their coun
10 It should be remembered, that when the great body of the emigrants quitted France, small were the excesses, and very inconsiderable the disa union, which the friends of freedom had reason to lament. VOL. I.