« PreviousContinue »
shall smite the waves of the sea; and all the deeps of the river shall dry up; and the pride of Assyria shall be brought down and the sceptre of Egypt shall depart away: And I will strengthen them in the Lord, and they shall walk up and down in his name, saith the Lord." And it is worthy to be remarked, that as Cyrus destroying Babylon, letting go God's captives from thence, and restoring Jerusalem, is certainly typical of Christ's destroying mystical Babylon, delivering his people from her tyranny, and gloriously building up the spiritual Jerusalem in the latter days; so God preparing Cyrus's way, by drying up the river Euphrates, is spoken of in similar terms, to signify the preparing of Christ's way, when he shall come to accomplish the latter event. Thus God says concerning Cyrus, (Isai. xlv. 2.) "I will go before thee, and make crooked places straight." And (ver. 13.) I will direct, or make straight (as it is in the margin) all his ways. This is like chapter xl. 2. 4. "Prepare ye the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.-The crooked things shall be made straight." (Chap. xlii. 16.) "I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight."*
*If any should object against understanding the river Euphrates, in Rev xvi. 12, as signifying what has been supposed, that in another place in this prophecy, it is manifestly not so to be understood, viz. in chap. ix. 14, "Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates:" and that there is no reason to understand it in the vision of the sixth vial, as signifying something diverse from what is meant by the same river in the vision of the sixth trumpet:
I answer, That there appears to me to be good reason for a diverse understanding of the river Euphrates in these two different places: the diversity of the scene of the vision, and of the kind of representation, in those two parts of this prophecy, naturally requires it. It is in this book, as in the old testament: when the river Euphrates is spoken of in the old testament, both in the histories and prophecies, it is mentioned with regard to a two-fold relation; 1st, in its relation to Babylon; as its defence and supply. 2dly, in its relation to the land of Israel, God's visible people. And as it was related to that, it was its eastern boundary. (Gen. xv. 18. Exod. xxiii. 31. Deut. i. 7. and xi. 24. Josh. i. 4. 2 Sam. viii. 3. i Chron. xviii. 3. 1 Kings iv. 21. Ezra iv. 20.) Agreeable to this diverse relation of this river, under which it is mentioned in the old testament, so must we understand it differently in different parts of the prophecy of this book of Revelation, according as the nature and subject of the vision requires.
In the xvth chapter, where the vision is of God's plagues on Babylon, preparing the way for her destruction, there, when the river Euphrates is mentioned, we are naturally and necessarily led to consider it as something appertaining to the mystical Babylon, as Euphrates did to old Babylon. But we cannot understand it so in the ixth chapter, for there the prophecy is not about Babylon. To mention Euphrates there, as something belonging to Babylon, would have been improper; for the nature of the vision, and prophetical representation, did not lead to it, nor allow it. John had no vision of Babylon; that kind of representation had not been made to him; not a word is said about Babylon till we come to the second part of this prophecy, after John had the vision of the second book, and Christ had said to him," Thou must prophesy again before peoples, and nations, and kings," chap. xi. The scene of the vision in the former part of the prophecy had been more especially the land of Israel; and the vision is concerning two sorts of persons there, viz. Those of the tribes of Israel who had the seal of God in their foreheads, and those wicked apostate Israelites who had not this mark. (Compare chap. vii. 3-8, and chap. ix. 4.) The vision in this ixth chapter, is of God's
It is true, we do not know how long this vial may continue running, and so Christ's way preparing, before it is fully
judgments on those of the tribes of Israel, or in the land of Israel, which had not the seal of God in their foreheads. And therefore when mention is made (ver. 14.) of a judgment coming on them from the river Euphrates, it must mean in the former respect, with relation to the land of Israel, as its eastern border; and thereby we must understand that God would bring some terrible calamity on Christendom from its eastern border, as he did when the Turks were let loose on Christendom.
If these things are intended in the prophecy of the sixth vial, it affords, as I conceive, great reason to hope that the beginning of that glorious work of God's Spirit, which in its progress and issue will overthrow antichrist, and introduce the glory of the latter days, is not very far off. Mr. LowMAN has, I think, put it beyond all reasonable doubt, that the fifth vial was poured out in the time of the reformation. It also appears, by his Exposition, that take one vial with another, it has not been, from the beginning of one vial to the beginning of another, but about 184 years. But it is now about 220 years since the fifth vial began to be poured; and it is a long time since the main effects of it have been finished. And therefore, if the sixth vial has not already began to be poured out, it may well be speedily expected.
But with regard to drying up the fountains and streams of wealth, the temporal incomes and supplies of the antichristian church and territories, I would propose it to consideration, whether or no many things that have come to pass within these twenty years past, may not be looked upon as probable beginnings of a fulfilment of this prophecy. Particularly, what the kings of Spain and Portugal did some years since, when displeased with the Pope, forbidding any thenceforward going to Rome for investitures, &c. thereby cutting off two great streams of the Pope's wealth, from so great and rich a part of the popish world; and its becoming so frequent a thing of late for popish princes, in their wars, to make bold with the treasure of the church, and to tax the clergy within their dominions, as well as the laity; or, which is equivalent, to oblige them to contribute great sums, under the name of a free gift. To which may be added, the late peeling and impoverishing of the Pope's temporal dominions in Italy, by the armies of the Austrians, Neapolitans and Spaniards, passing and repassing through them, and living so much at discretion in them, of which the Pope has so loudly complained in vain; receiving nothing but menaces, when he has objected against giving liberty for the like passage in future. These things make it hopeful, that the time is coming when the princes of Europe, "the ten horns, shall hate the whore, and make her desolate and naked, and eat her flesh :" (Rev. xvii. 16.) which will prepare the way for what next follows, "her being burnt with fire;" even as the sixth vial poured out-to consume the supplies of antichrist, and "strip him naked" of his wealth, and as it were "to pick his flesh off from his bones"-will make way for what next follows, the seventh vial, that will consume antichrist by the fierceness of God's wrath.
Besides the things already mentioned, there are also some others that have lately happened to dry up the wealthy fountains and streams of the antichristian dominions. Among these we may reckon the almost ruined trade of France and Spain, the two chief popish kingdoms, the main support of the popish cause, and from whence the kingdom of antichrist has had of late its main supplies. The almost miraculous taking of Cape Breton, in the year 1745, whereby was dried up one of the principal sources of the wealth of the kingdom of France; and the no less, but yet more wonderful disappointment of the French, in their great attempt to repossess themselves of it, and the confounding of their great Armada, under Duke D'Anville, by a most visible hand of God against them, the last year; and in now again baffling a second attempt of our obstinate enemies, this year, by delivering up their men of war, with their warlike forces and stores, in their way to America, into the hands of the English admirals Anson and Warren. Moreover, the strange and unaccountable consuming of the great magazines of the French East-India company at Port L'Orient, with their magnificent buildings, the last year scarce any thing of the great stores there laid up being saved out of the flames-the awful destruction by an earthquake, the last year, of that great and rich city Lima, the centre of the South-Sea trade and the capital of Peru, the richest country in the world, from whence comes more of its silver and gold than any
prepared but yet if there be reason to think the effect of this vial is begun, or is near, then there is reason also to think
other country-from whence Spain is principally supplied with its wealth, and where the French had a great trade; the destruction of the city being attended with the destruction of all the ships in the harbour, which were dashed to pieces, as it were, in a moment, by the immediate hand of God; many of which were doubtless laden with vast treasures. I might have mentioned the taking of Porto-Bello, not long before this, by a very small force, though a place of very great strength, where the Spanish galleons used principally to go, to carry the wealth of Peru to Spain. Besides the taking from the French and Spaniards so many of their ships, laden with vast riches, trading to the South-Seas, the East and West-Indies, and the Levant.
And here it is especially worthy of notice, that when the French seemed to have gotten so great an advantage of the English factory at Madras, they were so frustrated, as to the benefit and gains they expected, by the hand of heaven against them, immediately pursuing the conquerors with tempest, wrecking their ships laden with spoils; and after that, delivering up into the hands of the English their East-India fleet, with their stores and immense treasures, intended for confirming to themselves the advantage they seem to have gained by the forementioned conquest at the same instant, also delivering into our hands their strong force intended for the regaining that great fountain of their wealth, which they had lost at Cape-Breton. And since that, delivering into the hands of Sir Peter Warren so great a part of their vast and rich fleet from the West-Indies.
And one thing with relation to the taking of Cape-Breton, though it may seem trivial, yet I do not think to be altogether inconsiderable in the present case; and that is, that thereby the antichristian dominions are deprived of a very great part of their fish, which makes no small part of the food and support of popish countries; their superstition forbidding them to eat any flesh for near a third part of the year. This they were supplied with much more from Cape-Breton than from any place in the world in the possession of papists. And the contention of France with the Dutch, deprives them of most of their supplies of this sort, which they had elsewhere. When the prophet Isaiah foretells the depriving Egypt of its wealth and temporal supplies, under the figure of drying up their rivers, this is particularly mentioned, that they should be deprived of their fish. Isai. xix. 4, &c. "And the Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel Lord-And the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and dried up; and they shall turn the rivers far away, and the brooks of defence shall be emptied and dried up. The fishers also shall mourn, and all they that cast angle into the brooks shall lament, and they that spread nets upon the waters shall languish." This is expressed in the prophecies of drying up the waters, i. e. the supplies of Egypt; and this probably is implied in the prophecies of drying up the waters of that city which is spiritually called Egypt. And it may be noted, that this is not only a supply that the church of antichrist has literally out of the waters, but is that part which is eminently the supply and food of their antichristian superstition, or which their popish religion makes necessary for them.
These things duly considered, I imagine, afford us ground to suppose, not only that the effect of this sixth vial is already begun, but that some progress is already made in it, and that this vial is now running apace. And when it shall be finished, there is all reason to suppose that the destruction of antichrist will very speedily follow; and that the two last vials will succeed one another more closely than the other vials. When once the river Euphrates was dried up, and Cyrus's way was prepared, he delayed not, but immediately entered into the city to destroy it. Nor is it God's manner, when once his way is prepared, to delay to deliver his church, and shew mercy to Zion. When once impediments are removed, Christ will no longer remain at a distance, but will be like a roc or a young hart, coming swiftly to the help of his people. When that cry is made, Isai. Ivii. 14. "Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, &c." The high and lofty One that inhabits eternity, is represented as very near to revive the spirit of the contrite, and deliver his people with whom he had been wroth, (ver. 15 to the end.) When that cry is made, Isai. xl. Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert an highway for our God: every valley shall be exalted, &c. God tells his church, that her warfare is accomplished, and the time to comfort her 68
that the beginning of that great work of God's spirit, in the revival of religion, which, before it is finished, will issue in antichrist's ruin, is not far off. For it is pretty manifest, that the beginning of this work will accompany the sixth vial. For the gathering together of the armies on both sides, on the side of Christ and antichrist, to that great battle that shall issue in the overthrow of the latter, will be under this vial; (compare Rev. xvi. 12, 13, 14, with chap. xix. 11, to the end.) And it is plain, that Christ manifesting himself wonderfully appearing, after long hiding himself, to plead his own and his people's cause, and riding forth against his enemies in a glorious manner-and his people following him in pure linen, or "the practice of righteousness and pure religion"-will be the alarm to antichrist, and cause him to gather that vast host to make the utmost opposition. But this alarm and gathering toge ther is represented as being under the sixth vial. So that it will be a great revival, and a mighty progress of true religion under the sixth vial, eminently threatening the speedy and utter overthrow of Satan's kingdom on earth, that will so mightily rouse the old serpent to exert himself with such exceeding violence, in that greatest conflict and struggle that ever he had with Christ and the church, since the world stood.
All the seven vials bring terrible judgments upon antichrist; but there seems to be something distinguishing in the three last, the "fifth, sixth, and seventh, viz. That they more directly tend to overthrow his kingdom;" and accordingly, each of them is attended with a great reviving of religion. The fifth vial was attended with such a revival and reformation, as greatly weakened and diminished the throne or kingdom of the beast, and went far towards its ruin. It seems as though the sixth vial should be much more so; for it is the distinguishing note of this vial, that it is the preparatory, which more than any other vial prepares the way for Christ's coming to destroy the kingdom of antichrist, and to set up his own kingdom in the world.
Besides, those things which belong to the "preparation of Christ's way," so often represented by levelling mountains, drying up rivers, &c. viz. "Unravelling intricacies, and removing difficulties attending christian doctrines; distinguishing
is come, and that the glory of the Lord now shall be revealed, and all flesh see it together, ver. 1—5. And agreeable to these things, Christ on the pouring out the sixth vial, says, "Behold I come," Rev. xvi. 15. The sixth vial is the forerunner of the seventh or last, to prepare its way. The angel that pours out this vial is the harbinger of Christ; and when the harbinger is come, the king is at hand. John the Baptist, Christ's harbinger, who came to level mountains and fill up vallies, proclaimed, "The king of heaven is at hand; and when he had prepared Christ's way, the Lord suddenly came into his temple, even the messenger of the covenant," Mal. iii. 1.
between true religion and its false appearances; detecting and exploring errors and corrupt principles; reforming the wicked lives of professors," which have been the chief stumbling-blocks and obstacles that have hitherto hindered the progress of true religion these things are the proper work of the Spirit of God, promoting and advancing divine light and true piety, and can be the effect of nothing else.
And that the beginning of that glorious work of God's Spirit, which shall finally bring on the church's latter-day glory, will accompany that other effect of this vial-turning the streams of the wealth of the world, bringing its treasures, and the gains of its trade and navigation, into the true protestant church of Christ-seems very manifest, because this very effect is spoken of as that which shall be at the beginning of this glorious work. Isai. Ix. 8, 9. "Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as doves to their windows? Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and gold with them, unto the name of the Lord thy God, and to the holy one of Israel, because he hath glorified thee." So that it is to be hoped, that before this effect, now probably begun, is at an end, the Spirit of God will so influence the hearts of the Protestants, that they will be disposed to devote to the service of God the silver and gold they take from their popish enemies, and the gains of their trade and navigation, both to the East and West Indies, so that "their merchandize and hire shall be holiness to the Lord."
Agreeably to what has been supposed, that an extraordinary outpouring of the Spirit of God is to accompany this sixth vial; so the beginning of a work of extraordinary awakening has already attended the probable beginning of it, continued in one place or other for many years past: although it has been, in some places, mingled with much enthusiasm, after the manner of things in their first beginnings, unripe, and mixed with much crudity. But it is to be hoped, a far more pure, extensive and glorious revival of religion is not far off, which will more properly be the beginning of that work which in its issue shall overthrow the kingdom of antichrist, and of Satan through the world. But God" will be enquired of for this, by the house of Israel to do it for them."
If, notwithstanding all I have said, it be still judged there is sufficient reason to determine, that the ruin of antichrist is at a very great distance; and if all I have said—as arguing that the beginning of that glorious revival of religion, which in its continuance and progress will destroy the kingdom of antichrist, is not very far off-be judged to be of no force; yet it will not follow, that our complying with what is proposed to us in the late memorial from Scotland, will be in vain, or not followed with such spiritual blessings, as will richly recompense the pains