THE “VIALS OF THE WRATH OF GOD.”—ARMAGEDDON.
Doings of the witnesses when invested with power—They execute justice on their enemies—A great earthquake—They seventh trumpet—Divided into seven vial-periods—The third, fourth, and fifth vials, and Napoleon—England and the second vial—Turkey and the sixth vial—All Europe and its second series—The prophecy of the Frogs explained—The mission of the unclean spirits—Their operation the sign of Christ’s stealthy and sudden return—The great desideratum in view of the Advent.
“The time of the end,” styled also by Daniel “the latter days” is the period of the Beast’s trouble by sword and flame at the hands of the saints. They are to “consume and destroy his dominion to the end”. Their success, however, in this work of blood will be the occasion of bringing up a power upon them, which will overcome them in turn; and by his conquests build up the Image of Nebuchadnezzar, and bring out again to view the Lion, the Leopard, and the Beast; by which the Image will be broken to shivers; and the Beasts “have their dominion taken away by the Ancient of Days;” though their existence will be prolonged for “a season and a time,” or 1,000 years, during which their destinies will be at the disposal of the inheritors of the Kingdom of God.
There elapsed four years and eight months between the publication of the Justinian code, and that of the pandects and institutes. A second edition of the code, amended and enlarged, was proclaimed in rather less than six years after its first publication. Now it is remarkable, that about the same space of six years was occupied by the antagonists of the Beast, in the national assembly of its principal kingdom, in repealing, by its 8,370 decrees, the Justinian constitution of the empire by which the Bishop of Rome became the lion-mouth of the dominion, and the Roman superstition the State religion of the Horns. In 533, the supremacy of Rome in ecclesiastical affairs was recognized by Justinian: and in 1,260 years after, that is, in 1793, the new constitution was adopted, and the Roman religion abolished. There are other notable considerations of the same kind which the reader may observe for himself in studying the history of these periods. Want of space forbids my going more into detail upon this part of the subject; I shall, therefore, return to a brief outline of what remains concerning the witnesses after their ascension to supremacy in the sight of their enemies.
Having responded to the “great voice from the heaven, saying unto them, Come up hither!” they were not long in making their power felt. They converted the States General into the National Assembly on June 17, 1789; abolished the feudal system, and all privileges; and declared ecclesiastical property to be the property of the nation. In 1790 they continued to shake the monarchy with great violence. They suppressed all religious orders; and destroyed “seven thousand names of me” (ὀνόματα ἀνθρώπων); that is, completely abolished all titles of nobility, not even sparing the king’s. These things were only preliminary to the fall of the throne. “The tenth of the city fell”, for, in 1792, they abolished the monarchy, and proclaimed a republic. On Jan. 31, 1793, they executed “national justice” upon Louis XVI, the representative of the king who, in 1685, had massacred them by thousands in cold blood. His Queen soon met with the same fate; and to crown all, the worship of Reason was substituted for the vile superstition of Rome. The national justice having been carried to this extent, “the remnant were affrighted”. The reign of terror was established. They sent a revolutionary army over the departments with artillery and the guillotine to take vengeance on their enemies. Priests, aristocrats, and their adherents, became bread for the avenger. The dragonnades were retributed by wholesale drownings, and pitiless slaughters. They slew 2,160 nobles and priests at Nantes; drowned and shot 2,000 infants, 7,641 women, and 5,300 artisans. Thus the broad way of the great city became a field of blood from one end of the domain to the other. In the hour of their vengeance, they did not omit an act of justice to the heirs of their brethren, the murdered Huguenots. They restored to them all their confiscated estates which remained unsold; and declared all Frenchmen who were not Papists admissible to all offices, civil and military.
In 1794 the saints had nearly completed the national justice for the present upon the French horn of the beast for its cruelties upon their brethren, and its impiety and licentiousness down to this time. It was truly “a great earthquake”, and had produced terrible devastation. The real character of the events of this epoch has never been appreciated so far as I am informed. They have been viewed too much as the incidents merely of a sanguinary conflict between political factions. Viewed in this light, indeed, the actors in the scenes can only be looked upon with horror and detestation. They were exceedingly wicked and depraved men; and so were God’s “sanctified ones” the unpitying Medes, whom He had prepared to execute vengeance upon Babylon. “The wicked are the sword of the Lord”; hence, it is in this light His “saints” of the Median character must be regarded. Viewed through a scripture medium, we see in the democracy of the eighteenth century, the sword of God “bathing itself in the heaven, and coming down upon the people of His curse to judgment”.
If the saints to whom the judgment of the beast is committed were men disposed to mercy, they would be unqualified for their work in the absence of the captain of their salvation. The saints of the holy city are not appointed to take vengeance at present. This work is for the wicked, that the wicked may destroy the wicked. But with all their depravity, the saints of the sword were no worse, nor, indeed, so detestable, as Charles IX, Louis XIV, the Popes, the Inquisition, and the savage mercenaries by whom their orders were executed. There has been this redeeming quality in these saints, that they have “helped the woman”; and in their conflicts protected “the remnant of her seed” against the Beast; while kings, priests, and nobles, have soaked the soil of Europe with their blood; and celebrated their sufferings with illuminations, gifts, and merry-makings.
A most unexpected event marked the end of the second woe which has hitherto been under consideration. It was revealed to John that the reign of terror would pass away by their giving “glory to the God of heaven”. The democracy, which had been trained to atheism and blasphemy by the Roman superstition and the “philosophers”, had decreed that there was no God when they abolished the Papal worship. The nation, however, did not maintain this edict for many months; for on May 7, 1794, Robespierre obtained a decree from the convention, proclaiming the existence of the Supreme Being; and another on June 8, decreeing a national festival to his honour, which was celebrated accordingly in Paris with popular demonstrations of joy. Thus ended the sixth trumpet, which was to be quickly succeeded by the seventh and last.
“In the days of the voice of the seventh angel when he shall sound (ὃταν μέλλῃ σαλπίζειν) the secret of God shall be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.” Here is a continuance of time specified, namely, “in the days of the voice of the angel”; that is, the sounding of the last trumpet would be no exception to those which had gone before; but, that as they had occupied years in sounding, so the seventh would sound through a succession of years, even until the kingdom of God should be established as revealed in the writings of the prophets. This is the declared mystery, to the manifestation of which all things are tending.
The things which will have been accomplished when the seventh trumpet shall have ceased to sound are stated summarily in the following words; “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Anointed (Χριστός); and he shall reign for ever and ever”. This is the consummation, which is introduced by these foregoing events, to wit: “The nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give the reward to thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them that destroy the earth.” In connection with these wonderful events, “the temple of God was opened in the heaven, and there was seen in his temple the Ark of his testament”; and this exhibition is to be accompanied by “lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail”; the result of which will be the translation of the kingdom under the whole heaven to the prophets, and saints, and to them who fear the name of the Lord.
The eleventh chapter of the Revelation terminates with the glorious and terrible advent of Christ. The thirteenth verse records the end of the sixth trumpet or second woe; and the nineteenth, the end of the seventh trumpet, or of the third woe, which is consummated in the destruction of the tyrants who have for so many ages been the demoralizers and destroyers of the people; and in the introduction of the era of blessedness to the world. As I have said, the sounding of the last trumpet is not an instantaneous blast, but a sedes of blasts in regular succession. He is the trumpeter who summons the nations to war throughout the time of the end, after which “the judgment sits to take away the dominion of the fourth beast to consume and to destroy it unto the end”.
While this trumpet is sounding, seven angels, or messengers, are engaged in pouring out “the wrath of God upon the earth”, or continental Europe and Asia, especially that portion of them comprised in the Greco-Roman Dragon. The portions of wrath committed to these symbolical angels are termed “vials”, which were to be emptied upon certain territories and powers of the Roman world. The first five were consecutive in their beginnings, but afterwards concurrent for several years. The vengeance they contained fell upon the ten horns of the beast, the two-horned beast, and the image of the beast; while the agent, or executioner, was the French democracy, to which “power was given”. They had first plagued God’s enemies, and those of His people, in France; and having finished their work there, they were let loose upon the other horns of the beast, and upon his little horn and its appendages to plague them for their crimes against God and man. The democracy were invited to their work abroad by the continental coalition against France, in which Austria was a principal.
The reader can consult the history of the period for details; it will be sufficient for me to say here, that with every disadvantage in the outset, the sans-culottes-soldiery became at length every where triumphant. They were without funds, imperfectly armed and disciplined, and led on by inexperienced generals; they were opposed by well-appointed armies, with all the military talent of Europe to direct them: but God’s power was with them in a way not visible to flesh. They were contending with His foes, and avenging the blood of His saints, therefore no power could wit stand them so long as they did not transcend their mission. The history of these events ought to teach politicians that God can punish the destroyers of the earth by an agency which in itself is without strength or wisdom. When He takes the work in hand, the feeble become strong; and the poor despise riches. His saints of Media “did not regard silver; and as for gold they delighted not in it”. Politicians speculate as though money were omnipotent; and we hear “financial reformers” predicting the in activity of Russia and Austria for want of funds! Where did the barbarians procure funds for the overthrow of the western empire in the fifth and sixth centuries? Did they not support themselves by the spoil? Let the Russian treasury be as empty as it is said to be, and its expenditure exceed its revenue by double the alleged deficit, it will only operate as a pressure from within, causing her Autocrat to “enter into the countries and to overflow and pass over”, and to enrich himself with the spoil of those he is destined to subdue.
The Third Vial.—From among the lowest of the people there arose a military hierarchy, headed by a chief who became the sword of God and scourge of Europe. It is scarcely necessary to say that this was NAPOLEON and his generals. To him, as the man of the earth and sword of the democracy, it was given to carry on the vengeance upon Daniel’s fourth beast. He appears pre-eminent in the pouring out of the third vial upon “the rivers and fountains of waters”, which, under his hand, “became blood”. His celebrated campaigns in the Alpine regions and plains of Italy, abounding in springs, lakes, and rivers, strikingly illustrate this vial of wrath. The Austro-Papal, or little horn, was the principal in the war with whom he had to contend. The “Italian fields” were the arena of the dreadful massacres of the witnesses by the “holy Roman” power, whose mercenaries on the same Aceldama received blood to drink at Napoleon’s hand. This righteous retribution is the subject of angelic celebration, saying, “Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.” To this, a voice is represented as issuing forth from the symbolic altar, responding in these words: “Even, so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.” This vial began in 1796 with the war against Piedmont, and ended with the destruction of the little horn, or two-horned beast’s, dominion over Italy; and with the establishment of the sovereignty of the military democracy of France.
The Fourth Vial.—But the vengeance of the “earth” upon the little horn did not stop here. They next proceeded to pour out God’s wrath upon “the sun” of Roman Europe. They had eclipsed him in Italy; and their Corsican chieftain received imperial power, and in the exercise of it literally “scorched men with fire”, Being now himself the sun of a great part of Europe, he would tolerate no rival. The house of Hapsburg still claimed to be the sun of the Roman world, which the head of the now imperial democracy resolved should not be. He therefore “scorched men with great heat” in his German wars. He executed all the wrath of the fourth vial upon the Austrian empire, till at length the time arrived to “fill the beast’s kingdom with darkness”. This could only be accomplished by a total eclipse of the Roman sun.
The Fifth Vial was, therefore, poured out upon the beast’s throne. The vengeance was terrific. The people of the beast “gnawed their tongues for pain, and blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but repented not of their deeds”. The power of the little horn was “consumed”, but not yet “destroyed to the end.” The battle of Austerlitz in 1805 decided the fate of its dominion for a time. Francis of Austria still retained possession of his hereditary domain, which included Hungary and Bohemia; but “THE HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE”, says Sir Walter Scott, “having lasted full 1,000 years, was declared to be no more, and of its ancient influence, the representation was to be sought for not at Vienna, but at Pads.”
But the work was yet unfinished while the Papal Jupiter remained temporal sovereign of Rome. Napoleon having to contend with the British Leopard in Spain, the Beast and the Image deemed it a favourable opportunity to break the yoke of their consumer. Napoleon had required the Pope to declare war against England. But England was too good a friend to receive such treatment. He therefore refused; and replied to his demand by hurling the thunders of the Vatican at his head; while Austria, energized by British gold, assembled 500,000 men for the war. This was in 1809. In five days this mighty host was broken and dispersed. The battle of Wagram reduced the little horn once more to inactivity; and the Corsican avenger obtained leisure to extinguish the Image of the Beast. By a decree dated from the palace of the little horn at Schoenbrun, he annexed the Ecclesiastical State of the kingdom of Italy; and by a second decree, dated at Vienna, May 17, 1809, he suppressed the temporal sovereignty of the Pope; incorporated Rome with the French Empire; declared it to be his second city; appointed a committee of administration for its civil government; and settled a pension on the Pope in his spiritual capacity; all of which came to pass exactly 1,260 years from the capture of Rome by Totila and his Goths.
Thus, by the power given to “the earth”, the dominion of the ten-horned, and two-horned, Beasts and their Image, was completely taken away till the fall of their consumer. The kingdoms, or horns, of the Beast were all reduced to vassalage, while the imperial chief of the democracy created thrones, and made kings and princes of whomsoever he pleased. It was a glorious sight to the eye of faith to behold him and his democratic nobles with the Beast writhing at their feet. He claimed for his immediate liege subjects a population of 42,000,000 of souls; with Italy, Carniola, and the Illyrian provinces, as a portion of his personal empire. His authority was almost absolute in Switzerland. He was Lord of the confederation of the Rhine. The King of Naples was one of his generals; and the Peninsula seemed on the verge of final subjugation. Thus, an empire of 800,000 square miles, and containing a population of 85,000,000, in territory, one fifth part, and in number of inhabitants one half, of united Europe, was either in quiet subjection to Napoleon’s sceptre, or on the point, as was supposed, of becoming so.
But the time had not then arrived either for the final destruction of the Beast’s dominion; or, for the saints to possess the kingdom for ever; nor, indeed, are the saints of the Median class the persons for whom everlasting dominion is intended. These are merely the consumers and tormentors of the fourth beast; and not “the possessors of the kingdom under the whole heaven for ever, even for ever and ever”. This is reserved for the saints of the holy city, styled by Daniel, “the people of the saints”. It was necessary, therefore, to energize the prostrate Beasts, and to enable them once more to prevail against the saints, but not to kill them, as in 1685; for their agency was still needed for the perfecting of the plagues that yet remain to be executed for the tormenting of the Little Horn to the end.
To compass this necessity, God had reserved powers on the east and west of Europe which had not been subdued. These were the great rival dominions of England and Russia. To the former had been assigned the pouring out the wrath of the second vial upon the sea. England began her work in 1793, and, with little interruption, made the sea “as the blood of a dead man” for two-and-twenty years. The maritime parts of the Beast’s dominion suffered the vengeance of her power; and so completely did she clear the sea of his ships of war and commerce, that it might be truly said of them, “every living soul in the sea died”; and the waves were ruled by Britain’s fleets alone.
In attacking Russia, the democracy exceeded the limits of its commission; for the Russian dominion is not yet of the ten-horned Beast of the sea, or two-horned Beast of the earth. While Russia, indeed, was combating for the Beasts in Italy and Germany, her hosts were at length everywhere defeated; but when they stood upon their own soil, God shielded them from the Avenger, whose strength was wasted by His frost and snow. Repelled within the limits of Roman Europe, the power of Napoleon dried up more rapidly than it prevailed. By the armies of Russia on the east, and by those of England on the south, the beasts were again enabled to stand. The Eagle fled before the Leopard and the Bear, who at length wrested from him the prey, and restored it to liberty and dominion, just 1,260 years from the defeat and death of Teias, the last of the Gothic kings of Italy; and the defeat of the Franks and Allemanni there.
Thus far the seventh trumpet had sounded with terrible effect against the Greco-Roman dragon; which was plagued not only in Europe, but in Egypt and Syria. In 1815, peace was finally proclaimed; “the holy alliance” formed; the “holy Roman empire” resuscitated; and the Papal Jupiter reinstated on his throne; and the rest of Europe portioned out according to the interests of the old dynasties of the Beast, and the good pleasure of the Congress of Vienna. But the Beast and his allies can settle nothing upon a permanent basis any more. “For ever” in its decrees, extends only to the end of the blasts of the seventh trumpet. The “holy alliance” was pledged to keep down the democracy, and to maintain the “order” in which the blasphemers of God’s name, and the destroyers of the earth, delight. But after a few years, God dissolved it like a thing of air.
The Sixth Vial.—The time at length arrived to make preparation for the restoration of Israel. The “abomination that maketh desolate” had prevailed under divers forms from the celebrated epoch 529–33, beginning the third year of Justinian’s reign upon the throne of Constantinople. The dragon, of whose dominion this city became the seat after Constantine transferred the government from Rome, was the desolator of the Hebrew commonwealth. He destroyed the city and temple, scattered Judah, and consumed the land with fire and sword. These have been its works for nearly 1,900 years. But of this long period, a portion has been separated which should reach to the time when “that determined should be poured upon the desolator”. Now, that “which is determined” is the wrath of God contained in the sixth vial, and which is appointed to be poured out upon the eastern division of the Greco-Roman Dragon.
When we look into the history of our own time, it is easy to perceive that the sixth vial began in 1820–3. The other vials had been exhausted principally upon the western division of the empire, with the exception of the second, which affected the east and west alike. The sixth, however, is poured out primarily upon the east, and drying up the desolator’s dominion there, pours on until its stream is commingled with that of the seventh, by which both the east and west are wrapped in a universal conflagration, which terminates in the final destruction of the little horn, or two-horned beast and his prophet; the subjection of the ten kingdoms to the dragon of Constantinople; and lastly, their combined overthrow at the battle of Armageddon by the Lord of hosts. The details of the sixth and seventh vials are amplified in that portion of the Apocalypse beginning at the fourteenth verse of the seventeenth chapter, and ending at the sixth of the twentieth. But to return to the sixth.
The sixth trumpet brought up the four dynastic powers from the Euphrates, which was the western boundary of their domain. They crossed this river under Alp Arslan, who, at the head of an immense cavalry, invaded the Roman dragon. After “an hour and a day, and a month, and a year” from the invasion; that is, 360 years added to 30, added to 1 year and 30 days, which is equal to 391 years 30 days—the period of Turkish preparation to seize the dragon’s throne was complete. On May 29th, 1453, Constantinople fell into the hands of the Turks, who have retained it to this day. The predecessor of Alp Arslan was Togrul Beg, who was constituted lieutenant of the prophet by the last of the Califs. Togrul’s successors down to the last Sultan inherited this lieutenancy, by which they were regarded as the political and spiritual head of the Mohammedan world.
The judgment of the sixth vial is to take away his supremacy, and to wrest from him the dragon’s sceptre. This is termed “drying up the waters of the Euphrates”; which occurs for the purpose of bringing about the restoration of Israel, who by the constitution of Sinai, are “a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation”, and to whom belongs the adoption, through which “the kings of the east” are provided. Now, when the Turks obtained possession of Constantinople, the Catholics were doomed to one of three things—to turn Mussulman, to pay tribute, or to suffer death; and for apostates there was no mercy.
In June, 1844, which was 391 years and 30 days from the capture of the city, and the imposition of these conditions upon the conquered, religious liberty and the right of apostasy were conceded at the instance of the western powers. This was 782 years and 2 months from Alp Arslan’s invasion. These facts suggested to me a principle of calculation in relation to the passing away of the Sultan’s supremacy. It was 396 years 131 days from Togrul Beg’s investiture by the commander of the faithful, to the taking of Constantinople. I argued, therefore, from the analogy before us, that it would be 396 years 131 days after the capture, to the time when the Sultan would be about to lose his supremacy at the hand of Russia, who was then fully occupied in the Hungarian war. This time would terminate Sept. 29, 1849. I made this statement in my lectures in various parts of England and Scotland, when all the country was expressing its sympathy for the Hungarians, and the news of their victories abundant. My calculation was too late by ten days. All relations were broken off between Russia and Turkey on Sept. 19th instead of the 29th. This event was a recommencement of sorrows for the Sublime Porte.
The following events will give the reader some idea of the manner in which the sixth vial has been pouring out “on the great river Euphrates”. In 1820, the Greeks rebelled against the Sultan and after several years of war succeeded, by the aid of the western powers, in establishing the kingdom of Greece. In 1826, the Janissaries revolted, and thousands of them were massacred by order of the Sultan. In 1827, Turkey lost 100 ships in the battle of Navarino. In 1828, war with Russia, and a general revolt throughout Albania. From 1821 to 1831, ravages of cholera and plague, and depopulation of the eastern provinces. From 1829 to 1848, the Algerine war by which Algeria was annexed to France. In 1839, Egypt and Syria wrested from the Porte by Mehemet Ali. War between Egypt and Turkey, in which the Turkish fleet revolts to Egypt. In 1844, massacres by the Turks in Syria; and exterminating war between the Maronites and Druses there. And in 1848, Russia moved her forces south, and took up her position in the Turkish Principalities of the Danube, to be in readiness to avail herself of subsequent events. All these disasters so weakened the Porte that the dominion of the Sultan could not be preserved for a month, but for the jealousies of England and France against Russia, which only awaits the opportunity of re-planting the Greek cross on the dome of St. Sophia.
Ten years after the commencement of the sixth vial, its second series of plagues began to affect the political constitution of the Beast. By the judgment of the sixth, a ninth horn was brought out upon the Greco-Roman dragon, which at present wears a crown. This is the Greek kingdom. But there was still another wanting to make up the ten. This tenth horn was brought to light by the second series, whose beginning was marked by the revolution in Paris in 1830. The congress of Vienna had constituted the kingdom of the Netherlands, part of which lay in Roman Europe, and part of it, namely, Holland, beyond it. The sixth vial, however, paid no respect to the political geography of the “holy alliance”. The beast required ten crowned horns to answer the prophetic symbol at the epoch of its destruction; for they are then to be unjewelled that they may become the vassal-horns of the Greco-Roman Dragon. Hence, when the air of the Roman world was touched, an electric shock passed through all its kingdoms, producing “voices, and thunders, and lightnings” on every side. A thunderbolt fell upon the Netherlands, striking the throne, and dividing it into two. The result was the establishment of the kingdom of Belgium as the tenth horn of the beast.
It is unnecessary for me to enumerate the ten horns, for they are the same as the ten toe-kingdoms of Nebuchadnezzar’s image which are already named. The constitution of France was changed; Louis Philippe, the citizen king, being substituted, by a ruse upon the democracy, for the elder branch of the Bourbons imposed upon them by the “holy alliance”. The kingdom of Poland was suppressed, and incorporated as a conquered province with the Russian empire. In Spain and Portugal their several thrones were disputed by pretenders; and even England, though not included in either of the beasts, or in the dragon of “the time of the end”, did not escape the vibrations of the air. Events on the Continent gave a salutary impulse to the reform movement, and passed “the bill” (1832).
In 1848 eighteen years had passed away since the blending of these first and second periods. Two years before, a new Pope was elected to the Papal throne. He intended to rule, he said, according to the New Testament! His professions deceived the simple hearted, and alarmed the despots of the kingdoms. When Satan undertakes to cast out Satan his kingdom is sure to be convulsed. The reforms of Pius IX satisfied nobody, and tended only to create a longing after liberty, and a determination to free the country from the rule of priests. The hopes of the democracy throughout Europe were inflamed; and “the earth” began to tremble until in 1848 every throne was shaken to its foundation. The events of this wonderful year are too recent to require to be chronicled in this place. It will be enough to say that the democracy broke loose, and commenced a movement, which, though it has been restrained to prevent it progressing too rapidly, cannot be suppressed until the little horn, or two-horned beast and his prophet, be destroyed to the end, and the dominion of the ten-horned beast be taken away.
The events of February, 1848, have developed the “unclean spirits” of the sixth vial. These are precursory to the earthquake of the Apocalypse, chap. 11:19. Its first shocks will be terrific; but they are only the premonitions of worse to come. The earthquake, or political convulsion, which followed the resurrection and ascension of the witnesses in 1789, was awful, as all know who are versed in the history of the time. But that fell far short of what God is preparing for Europe. The tumult of the peoples, and the tempest whose howlings are heard even now, are thus intimated by the prophet, saying, “There shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation to that same time: and at that time Israel shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to everlasting shame and contempt.”
This “time of trouble” is contemporary with the resurrection of a portion of the dead. It is the epoch of Israel’s deliverance, both of the Ishmael, and Isaac, seeds; and of the casting down of the thrones of the beast. The convulsion which affects their overthrow is described by the apostle as “a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great”. Ascertain the calamities of former ages, and however terrible they may appear, this will exceed them all. The Flood, Sodom, Egypt, Jerusalem, the fall of the Roman empire, were all judgments which chill the heart, and make the blood run cold to contemplate; but times have now come over the world which will have been hitherto unsurpassed. The wrath of the sixth and seventh vials which remains, is about to overwhelm the nations with “torment and sorrow”, for the cup of their iniquity is full.
The more remote effect of past events will be the subdivision of Roman Europe, styled “the great city”, into “three parts”. This division will be the result of war, for which governments are now preparing themselves, perhaps unwittingly. The tripartite division is attended by the fall of the cities of the nations, as it is written, “The great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell.” That is, as I take it, that in consequence of the approaching contest, growing out of the Frog-power manifestation of 1848, the ten kingdoms will lose their independence; by which a new partition of the Roman world will ensue; and that when this is brought to pass, events will flow more directly eastward. But before “the cities fall,” or as Daniel expresses it, “the thrones are cast down”, Rome comes in for her final overthrow. I say, “before”, because these kings are to be parties to her tormenting, and are to “bewail and lament for her”, to them, unexpected doom. “Judgment” hath then to be given to Zion; far as yet she hath in no part performed her mission. Then are prostrated the horns, the little horn, and the image of the beast, and consumed their dominion; but in connection with this earthquake of the last vial, she has “to destroy it to the end”.
They are repressed for the moment; but things are progressing in such a direction as to bring the power of the democracy to bear against Austria and Rome, perhaps through France and Prussia. When they have done their work, the earth must be again repressed and suppressed, as they were in 1814 and 1815, by a power, however, that will subdue all for itself. There will be no more resuscitation of the old governments, but all things will be absorbed into one continental dominion upon the old Roman domain. In the midst of this great commotion, Britain promotes the colonization of Judea, which is an event pertaining to the sixth vial. By this time, Turkey is no more; and Constantinople acknowledges the sceptre of the Autocrat. England and the Russian lead on the world to the day of doom. They advance their hosts to “the wine-press without the city”, which is called Armageddon in the Hebrew tongue, and geographically situated in the land of Israel. There “as a cloud to cover the land” the armed multitudes are assembled, and preparing to decide the fate of Asia by the sword.
But there falls upon them “a great hail out of heaven”. Their power is broken; Judah is saved; Messiah appears “as a thief”; the Roman Dragon is bound; and the restoration of the kingdom and throne of David is commenced. Such is an outline of the results to be brought about by the “mighty earthquake” whose premonitions have already revealed what is hereafter to come to pass. In the coming tumult, “great Babylon comes into remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of wine of the fierceness of his wrath. And every island disappears, and the mountains are not found. And there falls upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent; and men blaspheme God because of the plague of the hall; for the plague thereof will be exceeding great.”
But the “mighty earthquake” having commenced in 1848, and the democracy which caused it having been repressed to a considerable extent, what agency remains, as revealed in the scriptures of truth, by which is to be brought about the wonderful consummation we have been considering? The answer to this question is contained in the following words. “I saw”, says the apostle, “three unclean spirits like frogs out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of demons (δαιμόνων) working wonders (ποιου̂ντα σμηετα), and they go forth to the kings of the earth, and of the whole habitable (οἰχουμένης οσλης) to assemble them to the war (εἱς πόλεμον) of that great day of God the Almighty. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue, Armageddon.”
In this passage we have to consider the “THREE UNCLEAN SPIRITS like frogs”, THE THREE MOUTHS out of which they proceed, the parties to whom they go forth, and THE FRUIT OF THEM MISSION. There are three spirits, and three mouths, that is, one spirit proceeding out of each mouth; but as they are all three like frogs and unclean, though proceeding from three different mouths, they are in nature, origin, and tendency, the same. They are called “the spirits of demons”, not because of their uncleanness, or wickedness; but because the mouths from which they issue are the demons, or chiefs, of the dominions represented by the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet.
Now the throne of the dragon is Constantinople; that of the two-horned beast Vienna; and that of the image of the beast, Rome. The thrones being in these cities, it follows that the demon of the dragon is the Sultan; the demon of the two-horned beast, the Emperor of Austria; and the demon of the image, the False Prophet himself. It is worthy of observation here, that the text says, “out of the mouth of the false prophet”, and not “out of the mouth of the image of the beast”. In the beginning of the chapter, while the first vial is supposed to be pouring out, the Papal Jupiter is styled the beast’s image; but in the thirteenth verse of the same chapter (Rev. 16), while the spirits are at work, he is termed the false prophet; and in verse twenty of chapter nineteen also, where it speaks of his perdition. This change of style is by no means accidental.
If the reader take a view of the Papal dominion at the close of the eighteenth century, then view it as it is now, and compare the views together; he will doubtless come to the conclusion, that the Pope is no longer the image of the imperial head of the beast. He has no dominion really, for it is so far consumed, that what remains is of little, or no account. He has good will enough to make terrible examples of the democrats who caused his flight from Rome; but he cannot carry it into effect, because the French will not permit him. He is a fugitive in exile, and though pressed to return to Rome, he is afraid to go. He is, then, no longer imperial, and consequently, has fallen from his Iconism, and become a simple prophet.
Protestant and Papal scribes are in the habit of applying the epithet “false prophet” to Mohammed, and therefore do not perceive its applicability to the Roman bishop. But neither Mohammed, nor his successors, are termed “the false prophet” in the Apocalypse. The Arabian was false enough, doubtless; but he was a far more respectable character than any Pope that has ever reigned; and were I to choose between the two superstitions, I would rather be a Moslem than a Papist. It was the glory of Mohammed to destroy idolatry: it is the infamy of the Popes to be the high priests of the “queen of heaven”. The Saracens were God’s locusts to torment, and the Ottomans, God’s cavalry to slay with political death, the Catholic image-worshippers of the Asiatic third part of the Roman dragon. Mohammed was the star; and his successors, the “commanders of the ‘faithful‘,” the “angel of the bottomless pit; whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon”. These names in English signify Destroyer, which is indicative of the mission of those who marshalled themselves under the standard of the Arabian.
The epithet “false prophet” is singularly applicable to the Roman bishop. It is a part of his function to preach or prophesy; that is, to “speak unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort”. From him these blessings are supposed to flow to all “his children”, Aaron was given to Moses to be his prophet because he could speak well. As Aaron, then, was speaker, mouth, or prophet, to Moses; so the Pope is now the mouth, or prophet, or speaker, of the Papacy, and no more. He is virtually stripped of his dominion; he can prophesy, but his rule is a thing of name, and not a fact. A false prophet is he; truthless as Satan; sporting himself with his own deceivings, and thereby provoking a speedy fate, which is “capture and destruction”.
But, before he and the two-horned beast before whom he is now working, perish in the European fiery lake they are blowing into a flame, they must fulfil the mission to which they are appointed under this series of the sixth vial. The Sultan, the Pope, and the Emperor, are the “demons” of the crisis, and the mouths, or speakers, of the systems to which they belong. Forth from them are to proceed such measures of policy as will produce a general war. These political measures are symbolized as “unclean spirits”. They are “spirits”, or influences, exerted through the policy of the three government; and “unclean”, because nothing clean can proceed out of such mouths. Rome, Vienna, and Constantinople, are so many centres of intrigue, whence proceeds the evil that is to ruin the beast. From these are to go forth to “the Kings of the earth”, and to “the kings of the whole habitable”, the results of the intrigues, which will stir up all their propensities to war. The “kings of the earth” are here distinguished from the “kings of the habitable”. The former are the kings of Germany and Russia, etc.; while the latter are the kings of Roman Europe, such as of Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, Sardinia, Naples, and Greece. They are all to be involved in war by the “unclean spirits” of the three demons, whose policy will bring about results that will ruin themselves, and astonish the world.
But why are these three political influences likened to frogs? “I saw”, says the apostle, “three unclean spirits like frogs come out of these mouths.” The interpretation, I conceive, is this. The frogs are the heraldic symbol of a power, which at the prophetic crisis is to be the proximate cause of the several policies which characterize the demon-mouths. That is to say, if this frog-power had not struck out a new course of operation which deranged everything, there would have been no ground for the Sultan, the Emperor and the Pope, to change their policy, and all things would have gone on as usual. The frogs, therefore, and “the spirits”, stand related to each other as cause and effect, the “demons” being only the media through which the frog-power brings about the fatalities of the two-horned beast and the false prophet; and at the same time brings upon the arena a power which is to overtop the horns, repress the frog-power itself, and build up the image of Nebuchadnezzar, preparatory to its being shivered to pieces on the mountains of Israel.
In other words, the scenery of the thirteenth and fourteenth verses of this chapter is a symbolical representation of the working of things unto the judgment, when “they shall take away his dominion to consume and to destroy it to the end”. Who “they” are to whom the work of destruction is committed is obvious from the twenty-second verse, where it is written, “judgment was given to the saints”, that is, in the higher sense, who do their work coevally with “the people of the saints”, or saints of the holy city, assuming the ruling-judgment “under the whole heaven”.
Now, from the evidence I am about to adduce, I think I shall be able to convince the reader that “the Frogs” are the symbol of the French democracy, the old enemy of the Beasts and their Image. The testimony to establish this is as follows, gleaned from Elliott’s Horœ A pocalypticæ.
1. Montfaucon, in his Monuments de la Monachie Francaise, p. 4, plate vi., gives a Frog as one of the monuments of the French king, Childeric; thus writing respecting it, “3. Another medal representing a frog, which was also an Egyptian symbol.” This was found A.D. 1653, at St. Brice, near Tournay, with other things belonging to Childeric. He reigned A.D. 456. That is, before the Franks acknowledged the Roman Bishop.
Medal of a Frog found in the tomb of Childeric I.
2. In the Monde Primitif, comparé avec le Monde Moderne, par M. Court de Gebelin, Paris, 1781, the author thus writes, p. 181, “Nous venons de voir que les Armoiries de la Guyenne sont un leopard, celles des Celtes (surtout les Belgiques) etoient un lion, et celles des Francs un crapaud. Le Crapaud designe les marais dont sortirent les Francs.” And again, on p. 195, “La Cosmographie de Munster (1. ii.) nous a transmit un fait très remarquable dans ce genre. Marcomir, Roi des Francs, ayant penetré de la Westphalie dans le Tongre, vit en songe une figure à trois têtes, l’une de lion, l’autre d’aigle, la troisième de crapaud. Il consulta là dessus, ajoute on, un célèbre Druide de la contrée, appelé Al Runus; et celui-ci l’assura que cette figure designoit les trois puissances qui auroient regné successivement sur les Gaules; les Celtes dont le symbole etoit le lion, les Romains designés par l’aigle, et les Francs par le crapaud, á cause de leur marais.”
3. In the sixth century, xlvi. of the prophecies of Nostra Damus (p. 251), translated by Garencières of London, 1672, occur the following lines:
unjuste sera un exil envoyé
Par pestilence aux confins de mori seigle;
Response au rouge le fera desvoyé,
Roi retirant à la Rane et à l’aigle.
On which, Garencières observes: “By the eagle he meaneth the Emperor; and by the frog, the King of France; for, before he took the fleur-de-luce, the French bore three frogs.”
4. In Pynson’s edition of Fabyan’s Chronicle, at the beginning of the account of Pharamond (the first king of the Franks, who reigned at Treves about A.D. 420), there is a shield of arms bearing three frogs (p. 37, Ellis’ edit.), with the words beneath:
This is the Olde Armys of France.
The banner underneath, having upon it the three frogs, is from ancient tapestry in the cathedral of Rheims, representing battle scenes of Clovis, who is said to have been baptized there upon his conversion to Christianity.
The Banner of Clovis.
The next engraving is from the Franciscan church at Innspruck; where is a row of tall bronze figures, twenty-three in number, representing principally the most distinguished personages of the House of Austria; the armour and costumes being those chiefly of the 16th century, and the workmanship excellent. Among them is Clovis, king of France, and on his shield three fleurs-de-lis and three frogs, with the words underneath, “Clodovœus der i Christenlich könig von Frankreich”; that is, Clovis the first Christian king of France.
Armorial Shield of Clovis.
5. Uptonus do Militari Officio, p. 155, states that three frogs were the old arms of France, without specifying what race of kings.
6. Professor Schott supposes the three frogs to have been distinctly the original arms of the Bourbons; bourbe signifying mud. This may have been the case. When their family became the dynasty of France, they probably assumed the frogs as their arms, being kings of the Franks, whose symbol it had been so long. The Bourbons arose out of the mud which is natural to frogs, and by the revolution of 1848 are deep in the mud again!
7. Typotius, p. 75, gives as the device on a coin of Louis VI., the last French king before Hugh Capet, the first of the Bourbons, a frog with the inscription, Mihi terra lacusque, land and water are mine.
8. In the Encyclopædia Metropolitana, on Heraldry, it is stated that “Paulus Emilius blazons the arms of France, argent three diadems gules”; others say they bear three toads, sable in a field vert (ap Gwillim. c. 1), which, if ever they did, it must have been before the existence of the present rules.
Such is the testimony I have to offer in the case before us. The conviction produced on my mind is, that the Frogs in the prophecy are the symbol of the French democratic power. It will be seen from the armorial shield of Clovis that the frogs and the lilies were both used as symbols. They are both indigenous to wet, or marshy, lands, and therefore very fit emblems of the French, who came originally from the marshes of Westphalia.
But on the shield of Pharamond so far back as A.D. 420, the frogs without the lilies appear in the armorial bearings of the Franks; and in the medal of Childeric I. there is no lily, but the frog only. It would therefore seem from this, that the lilies were not in the original arms, but superadded many years after; and at length adopted by the Bourbons, as the symbol of their race in its dominion over the frogs. These, then, represent the nation, and the lilies, or fleur-de-lis, the ruling dynasty. Now, if the apostle had said, “I saw three unclean spirits like lilies come out of the mouths”, he would have intimated by such a similitude that the French Bourbons were the cause of the “unclean spirits” issuing forth from the Sultan, the Emperor, and the Roman prophet. But he does not say this; he says they were like frogs.
The truth, then, is obvious. In A.D. 96, when John was an exile in Patmos, the Franks were savages in an unnamed country, living by hunting and fishing like American Indians. But the Holy Spirit revealed to him that this people would play a conspicuous part in the affairs of nations; and, foreseeing by what symbol they would represent themselves, He symbolized their nation by it, and styled them “Frogs”. He informed John that under the sixth vial their influence would be remarkably apparent. That the Frog-nation would have much to do with the dragon, beast and false prophet; in fact, that so intimate and direct would their dealing be with them, that its effect would be perceived in the warlike tendency and influence of the measures proceeding from the Sultan, the Emperor and the Pope; who, being so completely entangled in the complications created by the policy of the Frog-power, would in their endeavours to extricate themselves, involve the whole habitable in war, which would end in the destruction of the two-horned beast and the false prophet, and in the subjugation of the surviving horns to a new Imperial dominion for a time.
The foregoing analysis of the eleventh, and sixteenth, chapters of Revelation will be found in no other book that I am aware of. It is entirely new. But, as I have said before, no interpretation of prophecy in relation to the past, or present, is worth any thing which is not in harmony with facts. My interpretation must be tried by the same rule, and if it will not stand the test, then let it fade away into everlasting forgetfulness; but if it prove to be correct, I have no apprehension that it will be lost. Facts, then, I remark, are in strict accordance with the exposition given, as I shall briefly point out.
In the last week of February, 1848, the Parisian democracy, ever foremost in revolution, plucked the Bourbon Lily from its throne, and thrust it deep into its native mud. This dynasty of a thousand years was abolished, and the nation resumed its original Westphalian right of choosing a ruler better suited to its taste. The Fleur-de-lis being thrown aside, the Frogs by a vote of six millions set over themselves the nephew of their democratic emperor, who had done such good service in executing judgment upon their enemies. The President of the French Republic is therefore the incarnation of the Frog-power, as the Bourbons were of the Beast while ruling the tenth of the kingdoms. From February the outbreaks of the democracy in other countries became frequent and formidable; and the National Assembly and its Provisional Government constituted in fact the Parliament and executive of the democracy throughout Europe. Under the shadow of their favour Germany and Italy became insurgent, and Hungary followed in the wake of insurrection. The earth shook on every side. Urged on by its democracy, Sardinia attacked the Beast; and, provoked by the treachery of the false prophet, the people of Rome rose, and scared him into exile. After this, the plucking up of the Lombard kingdom by the roots, and the defeat of the Sardinian horn at Novara, by which the Little Horn became triumphant in Italy, caused the Frogs to seize on Rome, that their interests in the Peninsula might be preserved from annihilation.
By this move the Frog-nation placed itself in antagonism to the two-horned Beast and the false prophet. The Frogs invite the prophet to return to Rome; in other words, to put himself in their power, for which, with the experience of French hospitality towards his predecessors before his eyes, and the treatment he has already received in Rome, he has not the smallest inclination, notwithstanding all his professions to the contrary. If he were to return, he could not remain there twenty-four hours in the absence of a strong military force; and the Frogs will consent to no other than their own; for they occupied Rome, not out of love to the Pope, but as a check upon Austria in Italy. The truth is, Austria and the Pope are natural allies; and are as intimately related as the eyes and mouth of a man are to the man himself. Their fortunes are inseparable. The fate of one is the fate of both, even perdition by the burning flame of war.
The army of the Frog-power has seized upon Rome, and the false prophet will not return, because he regards the Frogs as his real foes. If the Austrians had possession of the city he would go back in triumph: but this not being the case, he is obliged to temporize until the times be more propitious. After this manner, then, the Frogs have become an obstacle in the way of Austria and the Pope, who are both desirous of their expulsion from Rome. They have become the occasion of unclean spirits proceeding from the Emperor and the Roman prophet, which will yet embroil them all, and in the end accomplish the destruction of the Austro-Papal dominion.
In regard to the Sultan, the Frogs are seen exerting their influence upon him. They have assured him of their support in case of his being attacked by Russia. This promise is sure to bring on a war between the Porte and the Autocrat. If the Sultan had been left to himself, being weak, he would have yielded and so have avoided war; but being energized by France and England, two strong military and naval powers, the Sultan feels himself a match for Russia, and prepared to assume a bold and warlike attitude. But these assurances will only lure him on to ruin. No powers, however strong, can save dominions foredoomed of God. Their friendship for the Sultan will be as fatal to him as the friendship of England for Austria and the Pope was to them in the days of Napoleon. The Autocrat, being God’s sword upon Turkey, will be too strong for them both; for in the tumult and confusion created by the measures of the Sultan, the emperor, and the Roman bishop, their several dominions will be abolished, and the Autocrat remain lord of the ascendant.
If the reader take a survey of Europe as exhibited in the events of the last two years, he will see the view I have presented still further illustrated. The Pope and the Emperor have been the principals who have brought about the wars on the Continent. The unclean spirit of the Little Horn went forth to Russia and brought down its hosts upon Hungary; it is also going forth to Prussia in opposition to the democratic constitution it is developing at Erfurt; and, in concert with Russia, it has gone forth to the Sultan, with whom it has interrupted its former amicable relations. Before the Pope consented to be restored by France, an unclean spirit went forth from him likewise, and brought the Austrians, Neapolitans, and Spaniards, into his States, when he found the Frogs could not be excluded.
I pointed these things out to thousands of people in my lectures, and told them that in regard to Hungary, they were deceiving themselves if they imagined the Magyars would succeed in their war of independence; that Hungary was a brittle toe-kingdom, and one of the three horns which were to be “plucked up by the roots” by the Little Horn. Meetings of sympathy for the Hungarians were being held throughout England; and news arriving every week of Austrian defeats, and Magyar victories. Still, I said, if I have fallen upon the true principles of interpretation, it is impossible for the Hungarians to triumph. So certainly incorrect did some regard this view of the matter, that they said, when I returned to London I should have to expunge what I had advanced about Hungary from the manuscript before I published this book. A preacher who had listened to me at one place, was so convinced of my error, that in his next discourse he predicted the certain triumph of the “brave Hungarians” over all their enemies. But, alas for him! Men should never prophesy of the future from present appearances.
Though these were against my exposition, I was persuaded it would turn out in the end as I had said; and I added, furthermore, that “an unclean spirit” was to go forth out of the mouth of the dragon, as well as from the mouths of the beast and of the false prophet; but that while we could discern “the spirits” issuing forth from these, we did not yet perceive one issuing from the Sultan: nevertheless, though then calm and tranquil, we should soon see a warlike disposition manifest itself in his policy growing out of the Hungarian war. The unclean spirit of the Little Horn had brought the Russians into Hungary, which would only whet their appetites for Turkey, whom they would prepare to devour next. In two or three weeks after making these statements, which as I have said before, were not whispered in a corner, but spoken before thousands, all Europe was astounded by the news of Görgey’s surrender, and the rum of the Magyar cause. The details are known to every one. And as I had said, so it came to pass, Turkish sympathy with the Hungarians, and hospitality to the refugees, was made a casus belli by the Autocrat; and on the refusal of the Sultan to violate it, diplomatic relations were broken off between Russia, Austria, and Turkey; and the “unclean spirit” energized by the Frogs, exhibits even the Sultan as a belligerent.
The mission, then, of these three demons for the period which remains of their political existence, is to stir up the nations to war, which will redound to their own confusion. The Press is prophesying smooth things, and persuading the world of the moderation of the Autocrat, and of the good intentions of Austria and the Pope! It has told us several times that the extradition affair was composed and that peace between Russia and Turkey will not be interrupted; and as often it unsays what it had before affirmed. But the reader need place no reliance upon newspaper speculations. Their scribes know not what God has revealed, consequently their reasonings are vain, and sure to take a wrong direction. As records of facts the journals are invaluable; but if a person permit his opinions to be formed by the views presented in leading articles, and the letters of “our own correspondents”, he will be continually misled, and compelled to eat his own words for evermore.
The Bible is the enlightener. If men would not be carried about by every wind that blows, let them study this. It will unfold to them the future, and make them wiser than the world. The coming years will not be years of peace. The policy of the Autocrat will be to throw his adversaries off their guard, and take the Sultan by surprise. He is to “come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he will enter the countries, and overflow and pass over. And many countries shall be overthrown.” This is the career marked out for him; which neither France, nor England, nor the world combined can obstruct or circumvent.
In dismissing this part of the subject, it is necessary to call the attention of the reader to a very important intimation in connection with the prophecy of the “unclean spirits like frogs” This part of the prediction is contained in four verses, that is, from the thirteenth to the sixteenth inclusive. Now, if the reader will examine the passage, he will find that there is a break in the prophecy. That is to say, the subject of the spirits of demons gathering the kings of the whole habitable to war, is suddenly and entirely dropped; and an altogether different subject introduced.
This new topic is nothing less than the appearance of him who sent and signified the contents of the Apocalypse to his servant John. “Behold”, says he, “I COME AS A THIEF. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.”
Then, in the next verse, the former subject is revived, and it is revealed, that the angel of the sixth vial gathers the kings and their armies into the battlefield of Armageddon; where, as we learn from other testimony, they encounter the Lamb, upon whom they make war, without knowing, probably, that he is the Commander of the forces with which they are contending.
Now, does it not strike the reader as remarkable that the coming of the Lord should be introduced in a prophecy like that concerning the frogs? But singular as it may seem it is by no means accidental, but the best possible place for it, because it is intimately connected with their operations. It is mercifully introduced as a warning of what is about to happen at the crisis, that the believer may not be taken unawares. It speaks to us in effect, saying, “When you perceive the policy of the Frog-power acting upon the demon of Turkey, the demon of Austria, and the demon of Romanism, so as to cause them to assume an attitude tending to embroil the nations, you may then know that I, the Lord, am about to revisit the world stealthily.”
Christ says, “Behold, I come as a thief”. That is, he comes as a thief comes when he is bent on stealing. A thief not only comes unexpectedly, but he gets into the house with secrecy. John, indeed, says, “He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him, even those (χαὶ ὅιτινες) who pierced him; and all the tribes of the land shall mourn over him (ἐπʼ αὐτόν)”. This, however, is affirmed of his appearance in Israel, when he shall make himself known to his brethren after the type of Joseph; which will be subsequently to the great battle in the valley of Megiddo.
The 185,000 Assyrians in the reign of Hezekiah felt the vengeance of the destroyer, but they saw him not; so I believe it will be at the battle of Armageddon, the kings and their armies will be overcome with dreadful slaughter, but they will not see the Avenger’s person. The work of the succeeding years requires that so signal a revelation be withheld from them. Israel and the saints of the holy city will see the Lord, but not the nations at large. The divine majesty is not prodigal of its manifestations. Men in the flesh, therefore, will, I apprehend, believe in the presence of the Lord on earth as its imperial and pontifical Ruler, as nations now believe in the existence and sovereignty of the Autocrat, the Sultan, the Emperor, or the Pope, of whom they have heard by the report of others, but whom they have not seen, and perhaps may never behold. Men profess now to believe that the Lord Jesus is at the right hand of God; but hereafter they will believe that he is “reigning in Jerusalem before his Ancients gloriously”; and their faith if made perfect by works, will, doubtless, as now, be counted to them for righteousness.
But, let the reader observe, that in connection with the warning given, a blessing is pronounced on those who are heedful of the signs of the times. “Blessed”, says Jesus, “is he that watcheth.” Now no one can watch without light. If the heavens be dark, the watchman must be provided with a light, or he cannot watch. By gazing at the natural luminaries as some professors are accustomed to do, no light can be derived, nor signs observed premonitory of the coming of the Lord. This is “the way of the heathen”, and “a custom which is vain”. The natural heavens are impenetrably dark in relation to his appearing. The believer, or spiritual watchman, must rake “the sure word of prophecy”, which is the only “light” capable of enlightening him in the surrounding gloom. This world is “a dark place”, and its cosmopolites who understand not the prophetic word, mere embodiments of fog. If we understand “the word of the kingdom” we shall “shine as lights in the world”, and be enabled to rejoice in the approach of “the day of Christ.” By the “shining light of prophecy” we shall be able to interpret the signs which God has revealed as appearing in the political heavens and earth. Events among the nations of the Roman habitable, and not atmospheric phenomena, are the signs of the coming of the Lord as a thief; whose nature, whether signs or not, can only be determined by “the testimony of God”.
From the whole, then, there can be no doubt in the mind of a true believer. He discerns the sign given under the sixth vial as manifestly, and believes as assuredly that the Lord is at hand as they who observed the sun setting in Syrian splendour knew that the coming day would be glorious. Be not deceived, then, by the siren-voices of the peace-prophets. Ere long, the last and most terrible of wars will break out. The Beast and the False Prophet will be plagued, and the Lord will come as a thief in the night. Let this conviction work out its intended results. The blessing is not simply to him that watcheth; but to him that “watcheth and keepeth his garments”. Simply to believe that the Lord is near, and to be able to discern the signs of the times, will not entitle a man to the blessing. He must “buy gold tried in the fire; and white raiment, that he may be clothed, and that the shame of his nakedness do not appear; and anoint his eyes with eye-salve, that he may see”. In other words, he must believe “the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ”; follow the example of the Samaritans and the baptized into the name of Jesus Christ; and thenceforth perfect his faith by his works, as Abraham did. He will then be a lamp, well oiled and trimmed, and fit to shine forth as a glorious light at the marriage of the Lamb.
A community of such persons in a city, constitutes the Lamb’s wife there, prepared for the coming of the Lord. She is arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen represents the righteousness of the saints; who have “washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb”. Therefore they will be “before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple (or kingdom): and he that sitteth upon the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of water; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” The representative number of their aggregate is 144,000; and their representative measure 144 cubits. “These are they who (in the days of their flesh) were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they who follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the first-fruits unto God, and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.” At present they are the “holy city trodden under foot of the Gentiles”; but when changed and raised from the dead, and exalted to meet the Lord in the aerial, and seen descending there as Zion, they are “the great city, the new and holy Jerusalem, having the glory of God”.
This, then, is the great desideratum of the age—namely, the preparation of a people for the Lord; a people whose character shall answer to the testimonies adduced. “The churches” do not contain such a people, neither can their pulpit ministrations produce them. In fact, “the churches” are precisely what college divinity is alone competent to create. “The truth as it is in Jesus” is not taught in the schools. They are mere nurseries of pride, professional religion, and conceit; and “the droppings of the sanctuary” which their nurslings are appointed to distil, wear away the intelligence of the people, and leave them irresponsive to “the testimony of God”. Nothing short of this, unmixed with the traditions of men, can make people what they must be if they would inherit His kingdom. Other gospels will make other kinds of Christians than those who believe the gospel the apostles preached. We must forsake the pulpits, and devote the time usually spent in dozing over their mar-text expositions, to the Berean scrutiny of the scriptures for ourselves. These alone are able to make us wise unto salvation through the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
Heating “sermons” is not “hearing the word”. It is this we must hear if we would have faith; for “faith comes by hearing the word of God”. If the gospel of the kingdom were preached in “the churches”, and believed, there would be no more complaints of want of spirituality and life. There would be so much of these, that they would be too hot to hold the worldlings who overshadow them with the wings of death. They would go out from them, because they were not of them. Let the well-disposed in “the churches” try the experiment, and they will soon discover the truth of what is here stated. The time is come in which there must be no faint-heartedness, and when a courageous testimony must be borne for the word of the kingdom. Ministerial favour and popularity must be utterly disregarded; and the question be, not “What saith the minister?” or “What will people think?” It matters not what they say, or think, in the case; the simple question is, “How is it written?”.… “What saith the word?” Let this course be pursued in candour, and I doubt not, but in a short time a people will spring up in these islands prepared for the Lord, whom he will acknowledge at his return.