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‘the word shepherd signifies civil governors, as well as ecclesiastical guides, whom the prophet compares to dumb dogs, that give no warning of approaching thieves or enemies, but give themselves up to sleep and idleness.” That the word watchmen also is here applicable as well to civil as to ecclesiastical rulers, is observed by different commentators”. It may, however, be proper to add, that, in the opinion of Vitringa, this prophecy has a reference only to the ecclesiastics of the Christian world. This prophetic accusation, if it may be so styled, resolves itself into the distinct charges of indolence or inattention to the duty of their stations—treachery—rapacity —and immoderate luxury. What proportion of those, who have occupied a gradation of ranks in the hierarchies, and in the governments, of modern Europe, must plead guilty to these weighty imputations, on the awful day of judgment and retribution, it is not for man to decide. But the present state of the world offers, alas ! to the least discerning of human kind, too ample proofs of the melancholy effects, which have originated from their misconduct and their usurpations. *
70 It is observed in the commentaries of Calvin, of Marlorat, a learned protestant of the 16th century, and of Dr. Wells, and in the Annotations, of the Assembly of Divines, printed in the year 1657.
ON THE SIxTH VIAL; AND SOME PROPHECIES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT RELATING TO THE TURKS, THE ARABS, AND THE EGYPTIANS.
ON the fourth and the fifth vials many observations have been adduced. Of the two that are subsequent some account also shall be given.
Since, says an ingenious French commentator,' the Apocalypse is nothing but a continuation of the prophetical history of Daniel, concerning the fourth monarchy, which is the Roman empire,' and since Mahometanism has overspread the eastern parts of the Roman empire; ' thence we may conclude, that both the vials and the trumpets have in part for their object the Turkish empire and the Mahometan religion*.' As it is, indeed, agreed on all hands, that the book of Revelation contains a prediction, descriptive of the conquests of the Turks, this circumstance certainly affords a presumption, that in the same sacred book some specific notice should occur of the downfal of their empire.
I now cite the words of St. John. And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of. the kings of the East might be prepared. The river Euphrates, says Mr. Cradock, signifies 'the people inhabiting thereabout,' and 'these are the Turks that possess that part of the world,— so that this vial relates plainly to the sixth trumpet.' To the same purpose speaks that early Scotch commentator, Mr. Durham. 'By waters ordinarily in scripture are understood much people, and by Euphrates in particular, those people that dwelt about it, as Isa. viii. 7, the king of Assyria and his army are called the waters of the river, that is,
1 New Syst. of the Apoc. See the Defence of it, &c. p. 9, 10.
of Euphrates, because they dwelt about it. By the same reason, then, Euphrates here must be understood of the people for the time inhabiting there: and because not only in verity of the thing, the Turks now possess that part of the world, but also (chap. ix. 14, &c. of this book) these same people were marked as bound about that river; and the loosing of them noted, as it were the overflowing of that people's dominion like a flood from these parts. So there is no people that can be so reasonably understood here as Turks, who were also understood there, ch. ix. 14. And this sixth vial, mentioning that river, hath a special relation to the sixth trumpet, where it was mentioned before.' I next quote from Mr. Fleming. 'The sixth vial —will be poured out upon the Mahometan Antichrist, as the former on the Papacy. And seeing the sixth trumpet brought the Turks from beyond Euphrates, from crossing which river they date their rise ; this sixth vial dries up their waves, and exhausts their power, as the means and way to prepare and dispose the Eastern kings and kingdoms to renounce their Heathenish and Mahometan errors, in order to their receiving and embracing Christianity. For I think this is the native import of the text, and not that the Jews are to be understood under this denomination of the kings of the East; which is such an odd straining of it to serve a turn, as I cannot admit of1.'
By Vitringa also it is observed, that this vial may reasonably be regarded as predicting the ruin of the Ottoman empire. Whilst, says he, this empire may be denoted by the Euphrates, the kings of the East may be the princes of Tartary and Persia. He had before remarked, that 'nothing is more certain and better known, than that by rivers, in the language of the sacred writings, brave and numerous nations are to be understood,' The author of the New System of the Apocalypse, after asserting, that ' the sixth
2 P. 77. This unnatural mode of interpreting the expression (for I agree with Mr. Fleining that it is 30) has received the suffrages of various annotators. ,
vial destroyeth the empire of the Turks and their religion; which the sixth trumpet had advanced to the highest pitch of its grandeur;' and that 'the river Euphrates does undoubtedly signify the people of that part of the world; as its being dried up denoteth the end of their empire;' remarks, 'that it is the prosperity of Mahometanism and Popery,' that 1 hath kept back the Jews from the Christian religion, which those two religions have so much disfigured.' But when these two false religions, which are grafted upon Christianity, shall be extirpated and destroyed, he concludes, that the descendants of Abraham will open their eyes and be converted3.'
Does the great river Euphrates denote the Turkish empire, then, says Mr. King, we do, at this very time, ' see this great emblematical river drying up. We see this empire fading away, and growing exceeding weak. It has already been in great danger from Russia; and has yielded up much4.' One 'great event,' says Dr. Priestley, ' which I begin to flatter myself we may be looking forwards to, is the fall of the Turkish empire, when an end will be put to a system of government the most unfriendly to human happiness, and to improvements of all kinds, that the world has ever groaned under5.' Such a revolution all the friends of freedom cannot, indeed, but anticipate with pleasure; and that it may be immediate, has been generally wished.
Very ample is the power, very numerous are the armies, of the tyrant of Constantinople; but the despots of Vienna6 and of Petersburg are yet more formidable. It is from
G P. 258. 'i
4 Morsels of Criticism, p. 447.
5 A Discourse delivered in 1791, before the Supporters of the New College, Hackney, p. 28. That the sixth vial denotes the destruction of the Turkish empire, Dr. Priestley thinks probable. See his Institutes of Nat. and Rev. Rel. 2d ed. vol. II. p. 424.
6 Great, however, as is the power of the emperor and the house of Austria, there are circumstances which seem to promise, that its demolition will not be postponed to any very distant time. Such are the immensity of the Austrian debt, the unwieldly structure of the Germanic these sovereigns of the North7, who enforce the strictest rules of modern discipline, and rule over extensive portions of the globe, inhabited by men at once fierce, submissive, and unenlightened, that the victorious cause of freedom may be expected to meet the greatest pertinacity of opposition. Fearing, therefore, lest the Turkish empire, were it now to fall to pieces, might perhaps, by the intervention of these confederated potentates, be moulded into more permanent despotisms on the European model, and thus impart new vigor to the declining cause of tyranny; I scarcely know how to entertain the wish, that the sovereign ty of the Ottomans should be overturned, antecedently to the introduction of some degree of light and liberty into the territories of the two Imperial courts. But perhaps these fears are vain: and it certainly must be admitted, that he, who has reflected on the depopulating spirit of the Turkish government, and contemplated the picture drawn by modern travellers of the wretched state of its provinces, can hardly conceive, it possible, that any change could oc
system, and the interfering interests of the princes who support it, the hostile dispositions and formidable forces of the French republic, her actual conquest of the Austrian Netherlands, the well-founded discontents which prevail in various parts of Germany, and the wide diffusion of literature throughout many of its provinces. On the last of these circumstances a curious fact shall be noticed. Dr. Wendeborn, in his View of England, published in 1791, speaking of ' the number of books which are annually printed in Germany, compared with those that appear in the same space of time in England,' says, 'It is calculated with some certainty, that they amount on an average to 5000. I have, for six following years, calculated those, which in English Reviews are announced annually, and the number of them, small pamphlets and single sermons excepted, is, on an average, not much above 600. Consequently, the proportion between books annually published in England and in Germany, is almost as one to nine.' vol. II. p. 13. A speedy peace with the republic of France may perhaps delay the downfal of the house of Austria.
7 The despots of the South, I mean those of Naples and Turin, of Lisbon and Madrid, are not wanting in malevolence of disposition; but happily there is no equality between the extent of their wishes and the extent of their power.