« PrécédentContinuer »
But even supposing an union which is so difficult to take place, what could a crowd of barefooted and almost naked peasants, with only sticks, or even with muskets, effect against a body of disciplined and well-armed cavalry. I am, above all, led to believe Egypt can never shake off this yoke, when I consider the nature of the country, which is but too advantageous for cavalry. If the best regulated infantry among us dread to encounter the horse in a plain, how formidable must they be to a people, who are wholly ignorant of the very first elements of tactics, and who can never possibly acquire a knowlege, which can only be the result of an experience their situation denies them"."
But let it not be supposed, that I conjecture it to be a part of the plans of infinite wisdom and goodness, that Egypt should for ever remain the theatre of oppression, wretchedness, and guilt. The deductions of reason, and the study of prophecy, lead to a very different conclusion: and the predictions, relative to Egypt and Arabia, the fulfilment of which I have endeavored to illustrate, ought to be explained in consistency with those other prophecies, which foretell the future improved state of mankind, and they are, I conceive, applicable only to the existing state of the world; and are by no means intended to be fulfilled after the commencement of that happy æra, denominated the millennium.
The following observations constitute a principal part the conclusion of bp. Newton's dissertation on the prophecies relative to Egypt. After citing an unfavorable character of the Egyptians, he says, 'such men are evidently born not to command, but to serve and obey. They are altogether unworthy of liberty. Slavery is the fittest for
them, as they are fittest for slavery.' I confess I admire not the spirit in which these remarks are written. The author of them forgot, that the vices of the Egyptians, which are a solid ground of regret, are the natural growth
73 Vol. 1. p. 175, 176, 196-200.
of the unfavorable situation in which they are placed. It is against the detested government of their country, the source of all their evils, that he should have directed the plenitude of his indignation. The statement of a modern infidel upon the subject is more rational than that of the Christian prelate. But the sentiments which the bishop of Bristol has here discovered, and those which the genius of genuine Christianity inspires, are, I trust, dictated by a far different spirit. If,' says Volney, we attentively examine the causes of the debasement of the Egyptians, we shall find, that this people, depressed by cruel circumstances, are more deserving of pity than contempt74."
Upon Egypt, as well as upon other countries, new and brighter scenes will assuredly dawn. The period, it may be expected, will at length arrive, when Egypt shall not only equal, but greatly surpass, the populousness and prosperity of ancient times: and when the descendants of Ishmael shall lay aside the ferocity of their ancient manners, lead a more sedentary and tranquil life, and cultivate the friendship of all the various tribes of mankind, who shall occasionally visit their country from motives of curiosity or
74 Vol. I. p. 196.
ON THE SEVENTH VIAL.
HAVING briefly treated on the sixth vial, I now proceed to the seventh, which corresponds to the last period of the seventh trumpet. That the book of Revelation comprises many contemporaneous predictions, none who are conversant in it need to be informed. Such persons, therefore, will not be surprised, that an event of such magnitude, or, I should rather say, a series of events of such importance, as the fall of all antichristian dominion in Europe, should be pointed out in more than one place and in a different manner. In the representation of the last of the vials, St. John has interwoven the loftiest figures of prophetic diction; and, as the sublime is often destined to become obscure, in any degree to penetrate their latent meaning would be scarcely possible, did we not receive important aid from parallel passages. It is partly on this account, that the consideration of the seventh vial has been deferred to the present chapter.
It is in the conclusion of ch. xvi. immediately after the account of the defeat of the royal confederates at Armageddon', that the account of this vial occurs. And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple, saying, it is done. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of
1 Upon this great and last effort of the antichristian powers,' says Mr, Lowman, the seventh vial is poured out, full of the wrath of God.'
And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.
The seventh vial, says bp. Newton, will complete the ruin of the kingdom of the beast". It points out, says Mr. Pyle, the total destruction of the antichristian empire. That the weight of it is to fall on all the antichristian powers,' is the observation of Mr. Lowman; and that the seventh vial contains in it the last ruin of the beast and his party,' is the declaration of Dr. Cressener3. Since this, then, is the undoubted effect of the seventh vial, and it is elsewhere plainly foretold, that the suppression of all the antichristian monarchies is introductory to the millenniary period; it seems probable, that the expression it is done, signifies, that, with respect to these monarchies, and all species of ecclesiastical tyranny, it is finished, it is concluded, and the sentence against them is carried into execution.
This vial is said to be poured upon the air, the seat and region of sounds, voices, thunders and lightnings, which are the emblems of the vast changes in the face of affairs now to be wrought. And the air, surrounding and comprehending the whole earth and sea, denotes these changes to be total.' Thus far Mr. Pyle. But his observations, though not injudicious, are not perfectly satisfactory. Here then I recur to Vitringa. The air, he observes, signifies in this, as it frequently does in other places, the heaven; and accordingly the pouring of this vial upon the air, he declares, does without doubt allude to the darkening of the symbolic sun, and moon, and stars. There were thunders
2 Vol. III. p. 267. At the pouring out of this vial, the monarchies of this world,' says an early annotator, shall be broken and destroyed utterly. Apoc. Myst. By H. K. Part. II. p. 35. 3 Judg. on the Ram. Ch. p. 216.
and lightnings. As thunders agitate the heavens, so symbolic thunders are those events which shake the political heavens or existing governments of the world, immediately previous to their fall; and says Daubuz, as fire signifies destruction, so the fire coming out of the lightning, implies the destruction of God's enemies, that oppose his laws.' And there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth. This revolution was not to be partial, was not to be confined to this or that country; but was at length to effect, in Europe at least, a radical alteration in all the governments that were hitherto unreformed. It was to surpass, in extent and magnitude, all the changes which had ever been accomplished in the world.
And the great city was divided into three parts. great city is the European part of the Roman empire; but what is signified by its division into three distinct parts, the accomplishment of the prophecy alone will explain3. And the cities of the nations fell. They fell away from the different communions of corrupted religion, preparatory to their embracing of the religion of Jesus, in its purity and simplicity, as taught by the great founder of it. And great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. This clause, which sounds somewhat harshly in our translation, is thus rendered by Mr. Wakefield: and Babylon the great
4 P. 174.
5 The following is the conjecture of an early interpreter: 'the great city was divided into three parts, some are hardened in their ignorance, and some are drawn out of it, and a third part will stand neuter between both, to see which way the balance will turn.' Cotton on the Vials, 1645, p. 153.
6 Mr. Pyle, speaking of this text, and the antichristian empire, says, the cities of the nations shall fall off from its interests;' and adds, it is to be taken in the same sense as the Tenth Part is said to have fallen, ch. xi. 13. An annotator of the last century would thus interpret the words. By the cities of the nations we may understand national churches. The great whore is called the great city; so the harlots, who are her daughters, chap. xvii. 5, are here called the cities of the nations.' 'Apoc. Myst. by H. K. Part. ii. p. 32.