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Introduction to the Seven Vials of the wrath
THE prophet, in his digression of “ the little book*,” having written the history of the " Western Church, and of the rise and persecutions
of Papal apostacyt, and French atheism, her two formidable enemies; or, in other words, having related the events of the second woe, and told us that the third woe cometh quicklys, returns to “the great book sealed with seven seals,” containing the general history of the church, and proceeds to narrate the events of the sevi'n vials, of which the third and last woe were to consist. This was a woe, in which the interest and welfare of the whole church were to be deeply concerned, because it was to fall principally upon the impious persecutors of the word of God, and at the same time lead to her perfect reformation, and final redemption. But as it has been the unvaried method of the prophet, before he enters upon the detail of the events of a new period or subject, to take a summary view of its prominent features in his proem ; so here he briefly recites, or rather alludes to, the great events of the third woe, or of the “ seven vials of the wrath of God;” and then gives a more minute description of them in the next six chapters.
* Rev. x. 2. 8, 9, 10.
+ Ibid. xiii. first ten yerses.
This summary of the most awful part of the whole of his prophetic history, he begins with a description, inimitably sublime, of Christ the “ Lamb of God, standing upon Mount Sion with a host of saints,” the “ first-fruits unto God and to the Lamb,” rejoicing at the blessed prospect before them, and ready to attend him in the execution of his Father's will*. He farther represents the righteous Judge of the whole world as mercifully forewarning, by an angel, « all them that dwell on the earth,” that is, all them that live in disobedience and sin, to fear “ God and give him the glory," and commanding them at their peril, to “ worship Him that made hea
* Ver. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
“ ven, and earth, and the sea, and fountains of “ waters,” and at the same time apprising them, that “ the hour of his judgment is come*.” By another angel, in order to prevail on them, if possible, to return to their God, against whom they had wontonly rebelled, and to avoid the impending perdition, they are assured, that the awful and irrecoverable decree, consigning BABYLON THE GREATT, that most powerful and formidable confederacy against God and his Christ to everlasting destruction, is already past: “ for," says the angel, “ Babylon is fallen ! is fallen! “ that great city! because she made all nations; “ drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornica" tions." A third angel, in a more especial manner, denounces the dreadful and never-ending torment of all those who shall embrace the doctrine of atheism ; a doctrines which “ denies both the Father and the Sonll;” and which amounts to nothing less than “ the sin against the Holy Ghost, “ which shall never be forgiven." this angel declares, with a loud voice, that “ if “ For any man shall worship the beast and his im
age, and receive his mai k in his forehead, or “ in his hand, the same shall drink of the “ wine (the essence or spirit) of the wrath of “ God, which is poured out without mixture into “ the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tor
* Ver. 6,7.
+ See chap. xvii. 5, et per totum, where it is decribed at large ; xviji, 2. and xix. 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, where its destruction is foretold Chan. xvii. 2. xviii. 3
5 Ver. 8. 11 1 John, ïi. 22.
Luke, xii. 10.
rc inented with fire and brimstone in the presence “ of the holy angels and in the presence of the “ Lamb: and the smoke of their torment ascen« deth up for ever and ever. And they have no “ rest day nor night, who worship the beast and « his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark « of his name*.” This beast is before described by the very characteristic marks here mentionedt, as a power that shall make an image, and compel the people to worship it, and as having adopted national marks, and obliged the people to wear them; and therefore it is evident he refers to it in the text. This power I have proved, beyond a doubt, is atheistical France,
Christ with his saints, thus prepared, is represented, as receiving, by several angels, the instructions and orders of his Almighty Father, to superintend the pouring out the “ third woe, or the seven vials containing the seven last plagues of the wrath of God,” upon the impious and ungodly opposers of his holy word. He is called "one like unto the Son of man,” not the real Son of man : to denote that although he is the Son of the ever living God, yet he shall come either in or in the appearance and similitude of the same body in which he was crucified. In the same words he is before described by the prophet, s and also by Daniel, where he predicts the very event here in part alluded to, namely, his appear
* Ver. 9, 10, 11.
See antea, ch. ji.
† Chap. xii. 14, 15, 16, 17, & Rev. i. 13.
ing before his Father, and receiving « his dominion and glory,” and a kingdom which shall not be destroyed, an everlasting kingdom,“ in which all dominions shall serve and obey him*.” And he has “ upon his head a golden crown," to imply, that as gold is the most pure and precious of all metals, so the light and truth of his Gospel, the revealed word of God, are the most perfect and excellent of all things'; and therefore that he wears it as a crown upon his head, the most exalted part of his body, as an emblem of his righteous power and glorious triumphf over the wicked who have opposed his Gospel, and rejected it with contempt. He has also “ in his hand a sharp sickle ;' an instrument of destruction, a symbol of the commission he was about to receive. This commission delivered to him by “ an angel,” who came out of the temple," that is, froin God himself, is "thrust in thy sickle and reap,” cut down, and destroy; and the reason assigned is, “ for the time is come for thee to reap :” meaning, as I humbly apprehend, that it is a time for thee to stop the progress of “the wicked, lest they should prevent my holy “ purpose in sending thee to suffer an ignomini« ous death; and the blessed effects of all thy « labours; for they have reached such a daring “ height of sin, as not only to reduce thy power,
* Dan, vii. 13, 14. 27. † So the church is represented, by the allegory of a woman lothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars ; to denote her triumph over the heathen world in the fourth century, through the labours of the twelve apostles. Rev. xii. 1.