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to Northern Italy. But, as the influence of the sun is universal, we should expect this symbolism would have a much broader application, and that the calamities would be much more widespread.
3. Scorching men with fire is one of the strongest symbols of suffering which we can find in the Word of God. We should therefore, expect that these calamities, whether similar, or not, to anything which had already occurred, would be far severer.
4. We should not expect that the principal actors and sufferers would be made any better by them. John says, "they blasphemed the name of God which hath the power of these plagues, and they repented not to give him glory."
5. Comparing this with the third vial, we should conclude that, while the main object of these calamities was to weaken despotism, they would not fall so directly upon the supporters of ecclesiastical prerogative. Blood was given them to drink who had slain God's saints and prophets, by having their rivers and fountains filled with the blood of the slain. But in these calamities, men are scorched. The more general term is used to indicate a more general application.
I now invite your attention to the question, "Have we anything in history which will answer the conditions of the above symbolism?" To show that we have, will be my next object. I do not say, however, that I cannot be mistaken. I follow the suggestions of our ablest commentators, having been confirmed in them by examinations of my own. I will seek to enforce them, also, with arguments of my own. I will say, also, that I have very great confidence that we have found here the fulfillment of this prophetic symbolism.
We may make the preliminary remark, that in searching for events that meet the demands of this symbolism, we should expect to find them in close connection with the events predicted in the third vial. Indeed, we need not be surprised if we find the fourth vial was poured out before the third, and even the second and first had spent themselves upon the earth. That the events predicted in former vials may, as it were, flow into, and be contemporaneous with, the events of this. For instance, if we find the sore of the first still upon men, and some of the battles on the sea and in Italy
occurring after the train of events here predicted, has opened, we need not consider it as causing any confusion, or any objection to our interpretation. The object of the seven vials. was not so much to trace distinctively marked consecutive events in the order here introduced, as to show how different opposing powers, and the same powers in different localities and under different circumstances, are to be put out of the way. Even if the vials should not follow each other exactly as they are named chronologically, it would not particularly interfere with a clearly marked fulfillment in other respects; though we must expect that the general chronological order must be the same.
On the supposition, then, that our interpretation of the third vial is correct, we shall, as a fulfillment of this, look for wars more widespread, more destructive, more terrible, than any we have yet contemplated. We find them in the wars of Napoleon Bonaparte,* in other portions of the world. There is no more terrible period in the whole history of the civilized world, than that marked by Napoleon's accession to the Chief Consulship, in 1799, beginning with the battles of Marengo and Hohenlinden, in 1800, and ending on the field of Waterloo, in June, 1815. Though the most Titanic powers were not unchained, its fiercest blaze did not scorch men, until, after the coup d'etat, the Emperor met the combined powers of Europe, first at Ulm, and then at Austerlitz, in 1804.
I. Let us then see if we can find anything in these wars which meets the first demand of this symbolism. Is there any resemblance between scorching men in the intensified blaze of the sun,† and, in the blaze of battle, as presented to the world during the existence of the French Empire? We are to remember that John knew nothing about the use of gunpowder in modern warfare. God did not see fit to reveal, beforehand, any of the great discoveries and inventions of science and art. His sole purpose seems to have been to disclose to men his great scheme of redemption, leaving it for the progress of human genius to discover and utilize the great and wondrous secrets of nature. But he
*Note 18, Canto I, stanza 65.
+ See Poem, Canto I, stanzas 65-80.
might disclose to his prophets, by appropriate symbols, some of the effects of great scientific inventions, long before they were brought to light. Such, we contend, he has done in this case. For, supposing John, without the knowledge in question, should have had his prophetic vision so sharpened that he could have looked down through the vista of coming ages, and have seen such a battle, for instance, as Marengo or Hohenlinden, seeing the blaze of cannon and the flash of musketry,
"Where the red fires of battle glowed,"
with men fighting and falling amid the glare, what better idea could he have formed of it, than that the fire-demon had been let loose among men, and was slaying them by the thousand? What if his ear could have caught the dreadful clamor of battle, and the blasphemies of the infuriated soldiery rising above the groans of the dying, would it not have added force to the impression thus made? Supposing a hundred battles, on as many different fields, some of them five times as destructive as either of these, all occurring within the short space of eleven or twelve years, could have been condensed into a single view, and to it should be added the glare of the conflagration of towns and cities, which so frightfully attended some of Napoleon's wars, what a fearfully thrilling picture would have been in his mind!
it not have been the most natural thing in the world for him to compare the terrible commotion, glare, blaze, rack and destruction, to some supermundane agent-even to some potent influence flowing down from the sun, the source of heat, and scorching the world in its blaze? Would not the resemblance be sufficiently striking to warrant the use of the symbolism of our text? We are sure that it would be, and it will appear even more obvious as we proceed with our discussion.
2. Our second remark was, that the calamities should be general, not limited, as in the third vial, to a comparatively small territory. As the sun affects the whole world, they ought to, or, at least, a very large proportion of it. So the work and influence of Napoleon did affect the whole civil
ized world, and even further than this. Many half civilized nations were scorched in the blaze of his genius. There was not a nation in Europe that did not feel the weight of his arms, and but one whose plains and mountains were not shaken by the tramp of his invading hosts. His genius displayed the imperial standards from the ramparts of Lisbon and Madrid, from the grim heights of Smolensko, and from the magnificent Kremlin of Moscow, from the towers of Vienna and Berlin, on the defenses of Copenhagen and Stockholm, and amid the Alp-bound vales of Switzerland. And he did not scorn to flesh the blades of the imperial legions on the half-naked barbarians of San Domingo. England, at one time, dreaded the flash of his merciless sword over her territory, leading on his invading hosts, more than any other conceivable calamity. Even our own country was not wholly exempt from fear, lest, having broken down all the barriers to his ambition in the old world, the greedy conqueror should attempt to plant the imperial standards in the new. A wider influence was never attained by one man, nor a wider waste and desolation under one leader. So this demand of the symbolism of the fourth vial is satisfied by the events we are considering.
3. Our third remark was to the effect that scorching men in the fire would indicate unusual severity in the calamities predicted. We should expect that the suffering and destruction of life and property would be unusually severe. was the case. To get an adequate conception of this terrible drama in the world's history, you must become familiar with all the awful battles of that period. You must witness the fearful onslaught of Moreau, in the woods of Hohenlinden, when, before the battle,
"All bloodless lay the untrodden snow,"
and see, amid the gloom of a winter's storm, the smoke of battle, and the blaze of firearms,
"Where furious Frank and fiery Hun
and the legions of Austria shattered in the fray, amid fearful slaughter, and the power of the chief consul extended.
You must see the imperial armies of Austria surrounded and captured at Ulm, and, soon after, behold the victorious Corsican on the heights of Austerlitz,* directing the most brilliant battle of his extraordinary career. There three of the greatest armies of Europe, each led by an emperor, (viz.: of France, Russia and Austria,) contended for the supremacy of Europe. See how the "Sun of Austerlitz," as Napoleon always afterwards designated that day, lighted up the fires of a conflict hitherto unparalleled. Napoleon won the day, but twenty thousand men went down in the conflict. As one instance of terrible destruction of life, in these wars, during this battle, the eagle eye of the Emporor discovered two thousand fugitives flying across a frozen lake, to join their friends; he ordered his gunners to elevate their pieces and pour a plunging fire of shot and shell on the ice; it was broken both by the falling missles and the explosion of shells beneath it, and the whole flying multitude perished.
You must see the two stupendous battles which crushed Prussia, and ground her monarchy in the dust; see
Jena and Auerstadt blaze next on the sight,
Twin furies of the same tremendous day.†
Then, soon after this, you must see the French eagle face the Russian bear at Pultusk, Golymin, Hielsberg, Lansberg and Liebstadt, where, in all, the Russian armies retired before the victorious French. Then, as the awful climax of this winter campaign of 1806-7, you must see these two gigantic powers grapple with each other, on the thunder-scarred and lightning-scorched field of Eylau, where a drawn battle left the field in the possession of fifty thousand dead and wounded soldiers. Then a few months after, you should see the army of Napoleon, reinforced by a vast array of two hundred thousand men, and, in June, 1807, see the two great powers again in a death struggle on the terrific field of Friedland, where twenty-five thousand men went down in the shock of arms, + See Poem, Canto I, stanza 66.
*Note 19, Canto I, stanza 65.
Note 20, Canto I, stanza 67.