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The Vial poured into the Sun'; considered in accoma
modation to the present Times.
A FAST SERMON, APRIL, 1794.
REVELATION, xvi. 8, 9.
And the fourth angel poured out his dial upon the sun ; and pow.
er was given unto him to scorch men with fire. and men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues ; and they repented not to give him glory. WH
HATEVER may be the great events, or the precise period, primarily intended in this figurative description ; it may justly be accommodated to any time, when the vials of God's anger are poured on a guilty world, and the effects produced by them, are increasing infidelity and impiety, instead of general repentance and amendment.
This book of the Revelation is a prophetick description of the most interesting occurrences, relat, VOL. II.
ing to the church, which were to take place in the world, from the time of saint John's vision, down to the final judgment.
Whoever believes, that this book was written sey. enteen hundred years ago, as we have indubitable evidence that it was, must believe, that it was dictated by divine inspiration ; because we see, in fact, that many of the events so long
since foretold, have been exactly accomplished. To mention but one instance, and that a marvellous one ; it foretels, That there would arise, in the Christian church, an idolatrous power, which should continue twelve hundred and sixty years—that this power would gradually gain strength, and widely extend its influence-that it would introduce and establish the su. perstitions of paganism, and cruelly persecute and destroy those who adhered to the purity of the gospel—that, in this long period, true religion would often be reduced to a low, and almost desperate condition ; but that, all along, there would be some to stand forth as witnesses to its truth, and supporters of its interest, even at the peril of their lives—that toward the close of this period, the idolatrous and persecuting power would gradually de. cline, until it should be utterly extinguished, and the pure gospel universally prevail.
And, Who does not know, that, within a few centuries after John's time, there actually arose such a power, which has now continued in the Christian world, for more than a thousand years, exercising all that superstition, oppression and tyranny, which are here described ?-And, Who does not see, that this power has for some years, been on the decline, and is now tending to its exit?
As it is difficult to ascertain, with precision, the time when it arose ; so it is difficult to determine, uvith exactness, the time when it will fall. But that
it is now drawing towards its dissolution, there can be no reasonable doubt. All appearances justify this expectation.
Its destruction, however, will be attended with violent struggles, and terrible convulsions, the ef. fects of which will be extensively felt. This we may justly apprehend from its national influence and connexions; and this seems agreeable to prophecy.
We are then to look for great events and important changes in the world, before the extinction of this oppressive power.
Some of the changes leading to its dissolution are probably intended in our text. But whether they are already past, or still future, or even now in operation, may perhaps be doubtful. Mr. Lowman thinks, that the words are a description of the di. visions and convulsions, which rent the papal dominions in the fifteenth century, just before the ref. ormation: And that the next vial, which was pour. ed into the seat of the beast, is a prediction of the reformation itself. Bishop Newton supposes, that none of the seven vials have yet been poured out, but that they all respect times which are still future.
Mr. Fleming, who published his sentiments more than ninety years ago, has applied this prophecy, in part, to the time now present. And he has, with remarkable exactness of time and circumstances, described some of the events of the day; such as the violent contest between France and Austria, which are the principal parties in the present. war; the depressed condition of France, and espe. cially ofthe royal family'; and the superiority, which France, in her turn, should gain over her enea mies.
Whether the principles, on which he grounds his calculations, ar: just, I shall not take upon me to
determine. However this may be, there are seyeral circumstances in the present time, to which the prediction may be accommodated, and which point it out to us as a subject of our attention and improvement.
This correspondence I shall first illustrate ; and then shall lead your thoughts to a practical use of the passage.
The correspondence of this prediction with the present time, I shall illustrate in several circumstances.
The three preceding vials were poured out upon the earth, upon the sea, and upon the rivers and fountains of water. This fourth is poured out upon the sun. It must therefore portend some events more important and interesting than the former.
The luminaries of heaven, in prophetick stile, denote kingdoms and empires. In the prophecy of Balaam, it is said, “ There shall come a star out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel.” In Daniel's vision of the he goat, it is said, “His horn waxed great, even to the host of heaven, and did cast down some of the stars to the ground. The downfall of Babylon is expressed by “ the falling of the morning star.". The sun then, being the greatest and most illustrious of the heavenly luminaries, must, in this prophecy, intend some of the principal kingdoms and powers of the world.
Farther : As the sun is a body of the most extensiveinfluence in the system, and that which gives light to other bodies, so the vial poured on the sun naturally denotes a general war among the most respectable nations; a war so vehement and exten. sive, that its malignant fury is felt in all the enlightened parts of the world.
It is said, “ Men were scorched with great heat.” This probably intends some distinguishing circum
stances of cruelty and zeal in the manner of prosecuting the war.
The moral effect of it is a visible increase of impiety and irreligion. “Men blasphemed the name of God, who had power over these plagues, and repented not to give him glory.”
Keeping these circumstances of the prophecy in view, let us inquire, whether we cannot see them, at this period, remarkably verified.
The present European war is, with little intermission, a continuation of the late American war. It evidently originated from our long and bloody contest with Britain for the rights of independence. The principles of republicanism, here asserted and defended both by the pen of the politician, and the sword of the soldier, were, with a kind of electrical stroke, transfused through the army and navy of France, which had been sent to our assistance. By them these principles were disseminated through that mighty kingdom. There they immediately began to operate with vigour, and soon they effected a complete revolution. Alarmed at this great event, the ruling powers of neighboring nations com. bined to restore and support the exploded system. of monarchy. The house of Austria, from its near connexion with the royal family of France, took the lead, and other nations followed the example. The war is become general. The powers which remain neutral, may perhaps find themselves under a necessity of taking part in the war, or of combining in force to preserve their neutrality: If any particular nations are designated, in the prophecy, by the sun, on account of their power, influence, or enlightened state, these are certainly engaged in the controversy.
And they are scorched with great heat. Never has a war been conducted with fiercer zeal and keener animosity. In ordinary wars, the object is some