Imágenes de páginas



The angel commissioned the vial to bear,
Pours out its contents into the air.-Canto II, STANZA 96

And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.

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 the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.

And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.

And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail: for the plague thereof was exceeding great.REV, XVI. 17-21.

This passage describes the results of the outpouring of the seventh vial. The seventeenth and eighteenth chapters seemoto be a more detailed history of the same great events that are here foreshadowed. That these chapters foretell the destruction of ecclesiastical despotism—in other words, the utter overthrow of Papal Rome, as well as every ecclesiastical power to oppress the masses by a resort to the civil arm—has, to my own mind, the force of absolute conviction : though I would by no means presume to show just how it is to be .done. We read in the sixth vial, at the close of its fearful delineations, that there was a gathering together for "the great day of God Almighty.” The kings of the earth and of the whole world were gathered together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. This was but a preparation for a great battle. The hosts stand opposed to each other, ready for the strife, when the vial is poured out into the air as a signal for the conflict to commence. Barnes


says, with reference to this: “Why the vial was poured into the air is not stated. The most probable supposition as to the idea intended to be represented is, that as storms and tempests seem to be engendered in the air, so this destruction would come from some supernatural cause, as if the whole atmosphere should be filled with wind and storm, and a furious and desolating whirlwind should be aroused by some invisible power.

I do not know that it is necessary to expect any supernatural power, but merely that this indicates an exceedingly stormy period in human affairs. bolism would seem to describe great political and ecclesiastical revolutions and commotions. The description is awfully sublime. The angel hovers in the clouds, with pinions far outstretched, and as the warring nations stand expectant on the brink of a most tremendous battle, he lets loose from his vial—their prison—the giants of the storm, as the winds were wont to be loosed from the cave of Æolus. Just as the whirlwind and thundergust are about to dash their ruin over the world, “a great voicet is heard out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, IT IS DONE.” The pending conflict shall be decided in favor of the powers of righteousness. Political and ecclesiastical tyranny shall go down in the crash of battle, and civil and religious liberty, twin daughters of a pure Christianity, shall be enthroned, henceforth to rule the Christian world. And now the battle begins. Earth and sky join in the tumult of arms. There are voices,f and thunders, and lightnings, first as the distant murmurss of the coming storm which is gathering over the world, its pealings and mutterings growing louder, the winds hissing and roaring more fearfully, the clouds increasing in volume and gathering blackness as they approach, until the earthquake and the thundergust shake and cleave the solid earth, the mountains sink in the convulsions, the islands are swallowed up by the greedy ocean, and terrified nature trembles and turns pale lest her doom should be utter destruction. The account says: “There was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.” This may portend a literal

The sym

* See his Notes, in loco.
# Note 11, Canto II, stanza 99.

+ Note 1o, Canto II, stanza 97.
$ Note 12, Canto II, stanza 10o,



earthquake, along with the conflicts which distinguish this stormy period,-for the earth seems to sympathize with her children in their struggles,---which may result in great physical changes, though the symbolism does not absolutely require it.

Appleton's Cyclopedia says: “The approach of earthquakes is heralded by premonitory symptoms of unmistakable character. The air seems to be affected in some respect, perhaps in its electric condition, and the brute animals show a sensitiveness to this, by uttering cries of distress and running wildly about. Men are sometimes affected by dizziness and a sensation like sea-sickness. The atmosphere is often hazy for months, and the sun, seen through it, is often red and fiery. The weather suddenly changes from fierce gusts of wind to dead calms, and rains pour down in torrents, at times or in places where they are of rare occur

Immediately before the shocks occur, the air is generally very still, while the surface of the ocean or lake is usually disturbed. A sound* then breaks from the stillness, like distant thunder, or like a carriage rumbling afar upon a rough pavement; or it may break at once with an awful explosion, as when the peal and the flash come together from every part of a cloud in which one is enveloped; at the same time the ground is shaken, or lifted upward, or thrown forward, as by the passage of an irresistible wave beneath it. The shocks may be repeated several times in quick succession, or recur after long intervals; the movements may be so great as to rend the surface into chasms, and these may open and shut again, or remain in fissures the width of a few feet or yards, and extending to unknown depths--smoke and flames are occasionally sent forth from them during the continuance of the earthquake, even if the region be not volcanic. Torrents of water are ejected from these chasms, and springs of water are often forced by the convulsions into new directions. Objects on the surface, as dwellings, trees, and animals, are engulfed in the chasms, and by subsidence of the surface, large trees. mountains even, and whole cities are swallowed up.

There was an awful exhibition of this power in the earth

* Note 13. Canto II, stanza tor.


quake at Lisbon. The city was shaking and falling. Fifteen thousand people rushed out upon the quay which had just been built, to get away from the falling houses; an awful crash of the earthquake, and the quay, harbor, ships, people, all sank into the tremendous chasm, and caught fast in the adamant jaws of the earth, not a spar, not a shred came back to the surface to tell what had been there. This terrible power was also fearfully illustrated by the earthquake in Peru in 1868, in which whole provinces were devastated, and cities and mountains sunk. “Occurring also, as they most frequently do, along the seaboard,* the water is observed commonly to retire for some distance, leaving the harbors dry, and then to return in a great wave of many feet in height, which sweeps everything before it.” This was peculiarly the case in the last named earthquake. The tidal

was frightfully destructive. “Of all calamitiesť to which men are exposed, there is none of so fearful a character as earthquakes; none involve such terrible and devastating destruction to life and property. There is none of the approach of which he is less forewarned, and none against which he can take as few precautions. The very mysteriousness of the danger oppresses him with terror. He is ignorant in what form it is most imminent, or in what direction to seek a way of escape.”

There can be little reasonable doubt [ that the earthquake and hailstorm of our text symbolize the commotions of the great battle of Armageddon. Yet, if this war is to occur in Italy, around Rome, the possibility of which has already been hinted, it being a country subject to terrible volcanic influences, an awful earthquake, with some frightful eruption of Vesuvius, or of some other volcano, scattering volcanic stones for miles around, may not be among the impossible incidents of those stormy days; though the symbolism will be satisfied by the fearful civil commotions which are undoubtedly here intended. A coincidence of the kind is furnished by the battle of Lake Trasymenus, during which there was a severe earthquake, which destroyed one city and many Smaller towns.

* Note 14, Canto II, stanza 102.

+ Note 15, Canto II, stanza 102. Note 16, Canto II, stanza 103.

The further effects of this great earthquake are noted : "And the great city was divided into three parts,* and the cities of the nations fell.” This effect may be accomplished on Rome by a literal earthquake, as some believe. Scientific men tell us that there is a subterranean current or vein of volcanic material or influence-whatever is the cause of volcanoes and earthquakes-running from Vesuvius out under the sea along the coast, and again under the land, directly beneath the city. So, when Jehovah sees fit to light the train, Rome may be overthrown without a miracle. Or, this may describe the divided state of the city, when the war of Armageddon is thundering around its walls, as Jerusalem was divided into three hostile factions during the siege which resulted in its destruction. Or, again, it may describe the Roman power; the Roman Catholic world may be divided into three discordant factions, by these political and ecclesiastical convulsions, and thus Papal domination will be destroyed. And those cities of the nations which have upheld it shall fall in the same convulsions as Paris has fallen; or they may fall away from supporting the Papacy, as Munich has under the lead of Doctor Dollinger. Barnes remarks upon this: “All that it seems to me can be said on the point now is, (a) that it refers to Papal Rome, or the Papal power; (b) that it relates to something yet future, and that it may not be possible to determine, with precise accuracy, what will occur; (c) that it probably means that, in the time of the final ruin of that power, there will be a three-fold judgment; either a different judgment in regard to some three-fold manifestation of that power, or a succession of judgments, as if one part were smitten at a time. The certain and entire ruin of the power is predicted by this, but still it is not improbable that it will be by such divisions, or successions of judgments, that it is proper to represent the city as divided into three parts.

We read, further on, that “Great Babylon came in remembrance before God.”+ As this is a common symbol of the Papal power, the mention of it in connection with the oregoing, would seem to preclude the idea that the city il ere

* Note 17, Canto II, stanza 105.

+ Note 18, Canto II, stanza 197.

« AnteriorContinuar »