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Cocceius exhibits the throne of the wild beast as the throne of the pope, and regards the symbol as denoting the rejection of his authority and denunciation of him as antichrist by the Protestants in the sixteenth century, which is open to similar objections.
Mr. Cuninghame regards the throne as a symbol, not of the station of a monarch, the chief of the great combination denoted by the wild beast, but of the power, authority, and councils of an empire, and interprets the darkening of the kingdoms chiefly of the false policy of the French, Austrian, and English rulers, by which they and their people became involved in the calamities that marked and followed ihe wars that sprung from the French revolution. But that is not in harmony with the symbol. It is to make the throne the representative of agencies, instead of the station of an agent, and is therefore against analogy, as agencies alone can symbolize agencies. As the sun is the symbol of the supreme rulers of the empire, as under the fourth vial, a change in them by which the empire becomes darkened, must be their expulsion from their station, or the discontinuance of their office; as a change in the sun by which the earth should at mid-day become darkened, would be a discontinuance of its rays, not their receiving a wrong direction. The overthrow accordingly of the official station of an agent, presents an apt symbolization of the annihilation of his office, and dissolution of the form of government of which he was the head, but cxhibits no analogy to his using his power by misjudgment to the injury of himself or his subjects.
Mr. Elliott interprets the symbol of the spoliation of the property of the Catholic church by the French, Germans, Spaniards, and Portuguese, during the wars of the revolution and temporary 'abolition by Bonaparte of the papal civil power. But that is 10 confound both the two-horned wild beast and the image, with the wild beast of seven heads and ten horns. The wild beast on whose throne the vial was poured, and whose kingdom was darkened, is the symbol of the civil rulers of the empire, not of the Catholic hierarchies, nor the false prophet.
Mr. Faber interprets the symbol of the dethronement of the French emperor.
CHAPTER XVI. 12.
THE SIXTH VIAL.
And the sixth poured his vial on the great river Euphrates. And its water was dried, that the way might be prepared of the kings who are from the sun's rising,
It was by a diversion of the water of the Euphrates from its channel, that the way was prepared for the entrance beneath the walls of Babylon of the leaders of the Medes and Persians who were from the east, and the subversion of her empire. The river is here used as a symbol in an analogous relation. It is by the diversion or exhaustion of something having a likeness of Euphrates to Babylon, that the way is to be prepared for the assault and overthrow of some resembling kingdom. But great Babylon, the city of which the literal Babylon is the symbol, is the body of rulers and teachers of the churches of the ten kingdoms erected into hierarchies, and nationalized by their governments. Her fall is to be a dejection from her station as civilly established, deprivation of peculiar privileges, and subjection to the condition of a vassal of those governments. The evaporation of her river is doubtless therefore to be the alienation and withdrawment from her of her supporters, by the dissipation of their faith in her pretensions, awe of her authority, and approbation of her rule, by which they have been kept in subjection. The kings from the sun's rising are they who, after having produced that alienation of her supporters, are to assail and precipitate her from her nationalization.
This symbol indicates then, that agencies are to be exerted by which vast crowds of the supporters of the nationalized hierarchies are to be withdrawn from them; the reasons for their support in that relation by the civil government, whether they lie in ihe faith of the people, or the policy of the rulers, to be removed; and the general mind prepared for their discontinuance as establishments.
This vial has undoubtedly already begun to be poured, and the agents who are to exhaust the great Euphrates of the apostale Babylon commenced their office. The withdrawment of a large body of ministers and members from the Scottish national church, the secession from the Catholic churches of Germany, and the resignation of their office by a portion of the ministers of the Canton de Vaud in Switzerland, are events that accord with the symbolization, and the commencement of movements probably that are at length to reduce the mighty current that has hitherto run beneath the walls of the great city, to a shallow stream or stagnant pool, as Euphrates became by the diversion of its waters into other channels.
The views of those seceders, and the attitude they assume towards the nationalized churches from which they have withdrawn, are wholly unlike those that are to distinguish the sealed. The Scotch withdrew not from a disapprobation of the nationalization of the church, but merely from dislike of the manner in which the civil government exercised its control of the establishment. It was for a similar reason that the Swiss resigned their stations; and the German seceders withdrew not from
dissatisfaction with the relation of the church to the civil government, but from a disapproval of the superstitions, idolatries, and tyranny of the hierarchies themselves.
Mr. Brightman interprets the symbol of the removal of impediments to the restoration of the Jews. But that is in contradiction to the symbol. As the drying of Euphrates by Cyrus was in order to the conquest of Babylon, so the exertion of an analogous agency on the Jews, would be in order to their subjection to greater calamities, not to their restoration to their ancient land, and re-establishment under a national government. The great obstacle moreover to their restoration, is their own unbelief; not the power of a hostile people. But what analogy is there between unbelief and a river which is a source of sustenance and means of defence to a besieged city? There is no indication in the Scriptures that they are to regain their ancient land by war and conquest, nor by the subversion of mystical Babylon. They are not the agents who are to cause the fall of that combination of hierarchies.
Mr. Mede, Mr. Faber, Mr. Cuninghame, Mr. Elliott, and others, regard the drying of Euphrates as denoting the gradual decay of the Turkish empire in population, wealth, and power. But that is equally without analogy. That empire sustains no relation to the nationalized churches of Europe, like that of Euphrates to ancient Babylon. It neither is, nor ever has been the means of supporting them in their station as civil establishments. It is not conceivable that its decay should necessarily involve their dejection from that station. Its relations with professors of Christianity are not with those hierarchies, but with the Greek, the Armenian, the Maronite, and other eastern churches. Cocceius expounds Babylon of the civil empire, and regards the drying of Euphrates as fulfilled in the exhaustion of the Spanish and French in their wars with each other, and with the Protestants in the sixteenth century. But that is to make the representative and thing represented of the same species. Babylon is not the symbol of a civil power, like that of which it was the seat, but of a combination of nationalized hierarchies.
CHAPTER XVI. 13-16.
THE UNCLEAN SPIRITS.
And I saw from the mouth of the dragon, and from the mouth of the wild beast, and from the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits as frogs ; for they are spirits of demons working wonders, that go to the kings of the whole world to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold I come as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, that he may not walk naked, and they may see his shame. And they gathered ihem in the place which is called in Hebrew Armageddon.
Unclean demon spirits are demons or devils, which enter into human beings, and excite them to lawless appetite and passion. But these spirits were clothed in forms, as appears from their being compared to frogs ;-hideous, grovelling, noisy, and amphibious. The dragon is also a bodied shape, as appears from the ascription to it of a mouth, and procedure from it of a material form. It is the symbol therefore of the rulers of the eastern Roman empire supporting an apostate church, and arrogating the right of dictating ihe religion of their subjects; and implies that at the period of this event, a government is to subsist in Thrace or that vicinity, that shall nationalize the religion of that empire, as under its last imperial head. The wild beast is the symbol of the civil rulers of the kingdoms of the western Roman empire, and the false prophet of the ecclesiastic and civil hierarchy of the papal states. The spirits work wonders, as the false prophet professes to work miracles. They are to be ecclesiastics, therefore, and to claim a divine sanction to their mission. They go to the kings of the whole world to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. That great day is the day when the Son of God shall visibly descend and cast the wild beast and false prophet into the lake of fire, and destroy the kings and their armies. As the kings of the world are distinguished from the wild bcast, which is the symbol of the civil rulers of the western Roman empire, they are the kings or chiefs of other nations and empires, in which there are worshippers of God, as of the north and east of Europe, Asia, Africa, America. The gathering of the antichristian powers to the battle of that day, is to be their last gathering to oppose the kingdom of the Redeemer.
As the spirits symbolize men and ecclesiastics, and go from the mouth of the three great antichristian powers, they denote men who are to be prompted by the principles and passions that distinguish those usurping and apostate combinations, are to be sent forth by them, and to go to excite in the rulers of the other kingdoms, the same hostility to the kingdom of Christ as reigns in the breast of the dragon, the wild beast, and the false prophet. They are to induce the kings of the whole world to unite in a war to prevent the establishment of Christ's kingdom, and to assemble them at the place which is in Hebrew called Armageddon ; a name which, whether drawn, as some assume, from Megeddo, the plain at the foot of Carmel, on which Barak conquered Sisera and his army, or given to the scene from the victory which the Redeemer is there to gain over them, denotes the place of their destruction. As it is not to be supposed that they are to assemble with a purpose of contending directly with the Almighty Avenger at his advent, and there is no intimation that the true worshippers are to unite and attempt a defence of themselves by violence, nor is such a supposition compatible with the character of witnesses who assail their enemies only with the fire of their testimony, the aim probably of the kings is to be to refute the faith of believers in an indirect manner, as by the conquest of Jerusalem, or some other act, which shall be deemed to demonstrate that their expectation of the advent of Christ is ill-founded. As this conspiracy is immediately to precede his advent, it is to be subsequent to the drying of Euphrates, the slaughter and resurrection of the witnesses, and the fall of great Babylon ; and is to be at the period doubtless of that last persecution of the saints, which is to follow the final denunciation of vengeance on the worshippers of the wild beast and its image, chap. xiv. 9-14. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, that he may not walk