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THE SIXTH VIAL.
Verse 12. And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great
er Euphrates ; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. 13. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the
mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast,
and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 14. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which
go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God
Almighty. 15. Behold I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and
keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his
shame. 16. And he gathered them together into a place called in the
Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
The preceding vial has brought down this series of prophecy to our present time. I therefore advertise the lover of the prophetic word, that in explaining the vial now under consideration, I enter with a tremulous hand, in hopes of divine aid and the reader's indulgence, upon the perilous ocean of prophetic conjecture, where prudence, as well as reverence toward God, dictate caution and circumspection in every idea we may adopt, or venture to publish. Prophecy may enable us to form general ideas concerning future events, with tolerable correctness, provided we do not enter into the minutia of completion ; for these events may be accomplished in many different ways. They were not given to assist vain curiosity in speculation, but to establish and confirm our faith in the truth of God and his word. However I am animated to this enterprise by the awful interest of our time. The beast is just gone down to the bottomless pit, and will soon again make his appearance upon a well prepared theatre, to the great sorrow of the church of Christ.
Rome is termed Babylon in different parts of this prophecy. Hence some authors have been led also to connect the river Euphrates, which literally ran through Babylon, with that famous residence of the papal hierarchy. They consider the language of this vial an allusion to the manner, in which Darius Medus king of Media, and Cyrus king of Persia, formerly made themselves master of that ancient city, by draining off that river through sluices into another channel. In this sense, the drying up of the river Euphrates, would signify the withdrawing of a principal kingdom or empire from Popery, which hitherto has been its chief source of riches and magnificence; and that this would be accomplished by the instigation of some powers inimical and in opposition to Popery. But this explanation, appears to me unsatisfactory, and against the homogeneity of language in the Revelation. For the great river Euphrates must mean here under the sixth vial, what it signified onder the sixth trumpet, or otherwise there would be no key at all to unlock this divine treasure, chap. 1x, 14 ; i. e. not the water of that stream, but the nations upon its banks.
The great river Euphrates is of ancient fame, and mentioned in scripture, from Genesis to the Revelation. Its waters have been celebrated during the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Macedonian, and the Roman monarchies; for it rises in the Armenian mountains in Asia and washes its verdant banks through many provinces in a southeast course, until it unites with the noted Tigris, and enters the Persian gulph. Its banks are every where inhabited by citizens of the Turkish empire, who acknowledge the Mahomedan religion.
I perceive with increasing evidence on my mind, that the spirit of prophecy intended this vial for the Turkish empire and the Mahomedan religion. This noted river has been considered in ancient time, the grand barrier against the inroads and invasions of the Oriental Mon
archs. Now, as it is the chief object of this vial, to prepare a way for the kings of the East into the countries of the West, its effusion must be designed to demolish that impediment to their future entrance. This grand barri. cade is here prophetically called Euphrates, in order to direct our attention to its place of existence, among the many kingdoms and empires on earth. And it is termed a great river, to inform us that this obstruction is not a mere province, or kingdom of inferior note, but in comparison with the rank of that river, a principal nation and empire of the world. This vial therefore, will produce a general revolution throughout the whole Turkish empire in which its present government will be totally subverted and its large dominions probably divided into five inferior kingdoms, so as to form the five toes, in the Oriental leg of Nebuchadnezzar's image of monarchies, Dan. II, which is now to meet its full completion in the East. The passing events on that theatre therefore are now of vast importance, and should be minutely attended to by the people of God, as they prognosticate the consummation of the present political economy, and the near approach of the Millennium. But alas! the prelude to that day of joy and happiness will be a night of Egyptian darkness and great sorrow. For these five kings will be the associates of the beast from the bottomless pit at Jast.
The nations upon the banks of the river Euphrates have been preparing for this portentous scene many years since, and its prognostics are now obvious in the present state of the Turkish empire. The Turks themselves acknowledge their forebodings of that catastrophe. Its political strength decreases, and its population diminishes every year ; as we are informed by credible eye-witnesses, of the fact.* Besides this, all the Asiatic govern
*Eton's Survey of the Turkish empire..
ments and rulers, are extremely despotic ; and the Turkish government has believed it necessary to be particularly severe and rigerous both in its military and civil departments ; which has long induced the citizens of that empire to sigh and pant for liberty, and to make many desperate attempts, to meliorate their condition by insurrection and revolt. But what will now particularly hasten and facilitate this great event, is that heinous spirit of infidelity and French democracy, which is at this time hovering with a powerful influence over those devoted countries, and daily making their grievous burden more intolerable, by infusing new doctrines concerning the rights of man.
To establish the truth of this exposition, let the reader attend to the following testimonies concerning the use and signification of this figure. We all know that rivers represent nations in symbolical language; not only in the writings of the ancient prophets, but even here in the Revelation chap. XVII, 15. But that rivers, definitely determined by names, typify the inhabitants of their banks and waters, is a hieroglyphic which rarely occurs, and therefore often passes unnoticed. I have met this figure Isa. viii, 6. 7. 8. where the smooth waters of Shiloah, a small fountain and brook near Jerusalem, which formed a pond within the city for the use of the citizens, represents the kingdom and house of David in its then present state; and where on the other hand, the great and boisterous river Euphrates, symbolizes the Babylonian empire, by which the Lord threatens to deluge the kingdom of Judah, for being unmindful of his word and promises. When Juvenal censures the citizens of Rome, for adopting the manners and fashions of the Asiatics, he says, that the river Orontes had gushed forth into the Tiber.
“Iam pridem Syrus in Tiberim defluxit Orontes."
Juvenal Sat. 111, 62.
To confirm the foregoing sense of drying up the river. Euphrates, I would refer the reader to Isa. xi, 15. 16, where God threatens to bring judgment upon that same river, to make it shallow by dividing it into seven streams. Ierodotus in the history of his Cyrus, (represented as quite a different character, from the Cyrus of Xenophon or of the Bible.] relates a coincident fact, which may serve to illustrate the words. now under consideration. 'Cyrus in his expedition against Babylon, was stopped by the deep and rapid stream Gyndes, which enters into the Tigris. As he lost one of his sacred white horses in it, which made the attempt to wade it, he became much enraged against the stream, and threatened to dry it up, that even women should wade it. Accordingly he instantly set his whole army to work, and drained it off by 360 channels, * When Virgil, the Roman Homer, symbolizes the subjugation of some countries in Asia by the Roman arms, he says,
that the waters of Euphrates now slow more shallow and gentle, than in times past. “Euphrates ibat jam mollior undis." Aen. viii, 726. These passages may at least serve to prove, in what sense this figure was taken and understood by the ancients, and even in the days of St. Jolin. The learned Faber scems to be of opinion, that this figure of drying up the Euphrates, refers to that slow process by evaporation, and indicates the gradual consumption of the political stength and population of the Turkish power. This no doubt is the case at this time, but does not to me. appear the principal object of completion in this prophecy, nor the only sense in which this figure was used by the Ancients.
The kings of the east. The original is twv Beside wo T cov ato 'cvatora 118, the kings from the risings of the sun, which peculiar expression may refer to the different empires situated behind cach other toward the East, in which