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Jesus is not to be, and cannot be, propagated with the sword. But it will not be the end of civil despotism, as a hindrance to the progress of Christianity. We find a beast alluded to in this chapter, as the beast that was, and is not, and yet is." As the old red dragon of Pagan Rome, it was, and is not; but, as the same power, under different administrations, it yet is. Mortally wounded on a thousand fields, its deadly wounds are healed. Cast down to hell, it rises again from the Stygian waves, and curses men with its presence. This old dragon appears again in the nineteenth chapter, as Satan himself rallying the kings of the earth to his bloody standard, armed with hell's furies, fires, and thunders, burning with wrath, that the empire of the world is slipping from his grasp. The man upon the white horse appears in heaven, with "vesture dipped in blood." Then comes the cry of the angel standing in the sun, to the fowls of heaven, "Come and gather yourselves together to the supper of the Great God." The man on the white horse descends; the armies of heaven follow him, on white horses. They rally all the armies of the church militant to the war. Angels, men and devils are arrayed, with hostile front, against each other. They stake the supremacy of the world on one great battle. The last tempest before the dawn breaks over the world-the beast and false prophet are taken and cast, alive, into the lake of fire, burning with brimstone-myriad myriads of their followers are slain with the sword; the fowls of heaven are filled with their flesh; the devil is bound and cast into hell a thousand years, and earth salutes her descending Lord and King. This is a brief synopsis of the history of despotism, as foreshown in the symbols of this prophecy. There are points in it, which I shall call up and discuss more fully, as I proceed. But I desired to bring before your minds, the one power, despotism, running through the whole history of the Church, until the commencement of the millennium.
To trace some of the effects of the outpouring of the fifth vial, in history, shall be my next business.
Let us then remark on this vial:
I. The calamities foreshadowed by it must come in immediate connection with those already noticed, and be a part in the chain of events tending to the same general result.
2. We should expect that they would fall directly upon the source, common center, or seat of influence of the evil powers at which all these vials are aimed. Therefore, as Rome has been, and is, the chief center of despotism—as the most disastrous forms of it in modern times have been stimulated by the example of old Rome, in the desire of ambitious men to restore the old Empire-and as it is now the seat of the most formidable ecclesiastical despotism the world ever saw, we should expect that the disasters would first fall upon that city-or more directly, upon the powers having their seat there.
3. That, as the Pope is the head of despotic influence there, they must affect him very disastrously.
4. That there must be something in them to suggest the propriety of the symbolism-something which, in some sense, resembles darkness.
5. That revolution and war would constitute important features of the calamities.
6. But that, while this is so, they must consist, widely and deeply, in something else, and proceed, not only from the influence of the fifth vial, but from all the rest combined, as allusion is made, even back to the first, as a cause for them. 7. That they must be very severe, as they gnawed their tongues for pain.
8. That, as the two forms of despotism-political and ecclesiastical-have everywhere been closely united, and, as the vial was poured out upon the source of vitality, they would affect despotism, more or less, in all parts of the Christian world.
9. But that they would not work the destruction of either, only tend to that result by greatly weakening both, reserving this grand result until after the outpouring of the seventh vial.
IO. We are not led to expect that they would make the chief parties, and, especially, those at Rome, where the vial was poured out, any better, for "they blasphemed the God. of heaven, for their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds."
We will reserve the consideration of these remarks to our next lecture.
We have pursued this subject far enough to note several very important observations before proceeding directly to the subject in hand.
I. That the outpouring of the vials*-or, perhaps, we should better understand ourselves, if we should say, the bringing into active operation the causes symbolized by their outpouring, as historic forces, while they may, though possibly not necessarily, succeed each other, in the order in which they are named-need not be at regular intervals of time. The symbolism, while it does not forbid, does not require it. One may succeed another so quickly-the two may seem to be so nearly contemporaneous-that it may be difficult to determine their chronological order. This may be observed of the first and second vials; and, if we notice the first and the fifth, as associated together in our text, by the allusion in the fifth to the sores, we shall be almost at a loss where to put the fifth, after the first. But this may come from the fact, that we have scarcely passed the epoch of history marked by the fifth.
So, again, between others, there may be a marked interval of years, as, beyond doubt, there is between the sixth and seventh.
2. We may observe that the causes symbolized, which are to produce the fearful calamities, need not, necessarily, be instantaneous in their preparation. Some may be gradual, like the rise of a river, swollen by rains, which sweeps away cities on its banks, and inundates large tracts of country. Others may require years, yea, centuries, of preparation, as the long attrition of the waters of Niagara finally undermined Table Rock, and it fell, with a crash, into the chasm below.. The cause and the effect must not be confounded. The outpouring of the vials are causes; the *Note 37, stanza 91.
calamities which follow, are the effects-both adequately symbolizing historic forces and events. Thus, the falling rains and the attrition of waters are causes; the destruction of cities and the falling of the rock are effects.
3. Again, the effects of the outpouring need not immediately appear, nor at the same intervals of time, in each case. The taking effect of various causes, in history, may be similar to their preparation. To illustrate: some poisons introduced into the animal system, take effect almost instantaneously, while others may be months and years in producing death. Thus, if seven different poisons, varying in their rapidity of operation, be given to seven different individuals, successively, the seventh may be first to die, because the poison given to him, might be the most active. So, if the effects of these vials should appear, in their fulfillment, to be somewhat mingled, one event coming before, which, according to the chronological order of the vials, should have come after another, this need not cast discredit upon the fulfillment of the symbols.
4. We may observe, again, that the time when the effects of each vial shall cease to be traceable in history, need not, necessarily, follow the order of the vials. Thus, if we find the sore of French atheistic republicanism still afflicting the bodies politic of the nations, long after the waves of the sea have lost their bloody tinge, the rivers and fountains have run clear, and the sun has ceased to scorch the nations, we need not feel that the symbolisms are at all impaired.
5. Neither need we be surprised, if the effects of one vial become the causes of another. This is the order of sequence in the natural world. Every cause is the effect of some other cause, running back, until we reach the great First Cause.
Feeling the force of the foregoing observations, we shall not wonder, if we find the events, which are the fulfillment of these prophetic symbols, somewhat involved, nor need it shake our faith, if we do.
We will now discuss the points named in our last lecture, as meeting the demands of this symbolism.
Our first remark was that the calamities foreshadowed should come, clearly in connection with the events of the fore
going vials, and be a part of the chain of events tending to the same general result, i. e., to the destruction of civil and ecclesiastical despotism.* The vials plainly foreshadowed a series of connected events, interdependent upon each other, all, undoubtedly, aimed at the destruction and removal of obstacles in the way of the progress of pure Christianity over the world. We have found that political and ecclesiastical despotism have been, pre-eminently, the two great hindering causes, and we shall expect that the events foreshadowed here must fall heavily upon them. This was the case, as we shall see, in the progress of our discussion.
2. Our second remark was, that these calamities must fall directly upon the source, common center, or seat of influence, of these powers. On the hypothesis, that the beast, in its various forms and modes of administration, as seen by John, symbolized political and ecclesiastical despotism, in their bearing upon the progress of Christianity, can we find anything in the events which occurred in connection with those already mentioned, which will answer the demand? We think we can, and those clear enough to satisfy any reasonably candid inquirer, whose theories do not compel him to an opposite opinion, regardless of evidence. We have no hesitancy in endorsing the theory, that Rome, the city of the seven hills, is the place where this vial was poured out, as being in harmony with, and demanded by, our previous expositions. Here were the causes generated which have resulted in the solemn, interesting, and, to the enemies of God, the fearful events foreshadowed by the symbolism of the fifth vial. And a point that I have not seen noticed by any writer, is well worth mentioning here, and that is, that there must have been a nearer connection between the first and fifth vials, than between any of the others and the fifth. This is demonstrated by an allusion, in our text, to the sore which was the effect of the outpouring of the first vial. The wars of Napoleon, upon the Papal power, were, no doubt, largely assisted by the atheistic republicanism of France-the sore of the first vial. This had been working upon the masses of Europe, particularly ↑ Note 37, Canto I, stanza 92.
*Note 38, Canto I, stanza 92.