Page images

nature and qualities of the sea; and then find out a Power whose nature and offices bear a similitude to them: for it is upon such similitude between the moral, religious, and political worlds, that the language of allegory has been formed; and therefore it is thence alone that we can obtain the literal sense of any figurative expression or type. Let us examine this beautiful figure in all its branches. The sea is a great body in the natural world, which supplies the lakes, rivers, and fountains, with water, and they return their streams to it; so the church of Rome, a great ecclesiastical body, supplies the kings, princes, and states with her idolatrous doctrines, her waters; and they in return pay her their obedience and homage. The sea, by its vapours, supplies the lakes, rivers, and fountains, in a silent and invisible manner; so the church of Rome has, by her arts, frauds, and mysteries, in a secret manner seduced and converted many nations to her faith. The sea, when moved by gentle breezes, sends forth its vapours in genial showers of rain; and when moved by violent gusts of wind, in hurri canes and storms, to the lakes, rivers, and fountains, disturbing their waters, and overwhelming their banks; and they, in return, pour out their floods, their fish, and their treasures, into the bosom of the sea, to support and maintain it. Exactly in like manner the church of Rome, while nations remained obedient to her will, sent forth her genial showers of indulgences, licences, pardons, and benedictions; but when disturbed and irritated by their refractory disobedience, ber bur

ricanes and storms of interdictions, penances, bulls, and anathemas, to the nations of the earth; inciting their subjects to sedition and insurrections, and to overturn their governments, until they submit to pour into her lap their aids, fees, and bribes, to support her power and grandeur. Here then we find, that in this beautiful hieroglyphic, the similitudes of the prototype exactly correspond with the type itself, and therefore that this prototype is the church of Rome.



But it is not in the figurative sense only that this vial alludes to the church of Rome; the allusion is as strong in the literal sense of the word For the situation of Rome is upon a long, narrow strip of land, running into the sea; and surrounded on every side, except one, by the sea; and upon the river Tiber, near the sea; and therefore, when compared with inland powers, is, as it were, upon, or in the sea. Hence we find the prophet elsewhere, when fortelling the decline of the power of Rome in the West, describes it by the same hieroglyphic*; and when foretelling the rise of the church of Rome, and the vast extent of her influence over the nations of Europe, he says, " And I saw a beast rise up out of the sea." From all which, no doubt can remain, but that the prophet makes use of the word sea to designate Papal Rome, as the object upon whose power this "vial of the wrath of God was to be poured out," as a just judgment for her abominable idolatry, for her artful seduction, and unrelenting and bloody per

* Chap. viii. 8, 9.

Chap. xiii. 1.

secutions of the church of his blessed Son, and for her daring impiety in the assumption of his divine attributes.

The object upon which this "vial was to be poured out," thus ascertained, what were to be the dreadful effects of its plagues? In this respect the text is by no means deficient. It foretels not only the great events, but the very means and manner by which they should be brought to pass. It tells us, that, upon pouring out the vial, "the sea became as the blood of a dead man." Here the prophet continuing his metaphorical language, compares the condition of the power alluded to by the word sea, to that of" the blood of a dead man," in a figure equally proper and elegant. The blood of a man is the great principle of his life and motion. When it becomes turbid and inert, the man is sick; and when it is no longer put in motion by the heart, it becomes inactive and stagnate, and the man dies. Just so it is with a political body or state. Its powers, whatever be its form, are the political blood, and principle of its life and motion. When these become inert, and are not carried into vigorous execution, by the supreme magistrate, the political heart, it becomes weak and sickly: and when they are no longer carried into any circulation or execution, they are stagnate, without life or motion, " as the blood of a dead man ;" and the political body is dead. Is not this an apposite metaphor for a State that shall suffer its powers of defence to remain totally inactive, and not make the least effort to defend itself against a long-threatening and even inva

ding enemy? And was not this exactly the case of Rome, in the year 1798, when taken by the arms of France? It was undeniably the fact.For although Pius VI. had seen, during the course of several years, the army of the republic overrunning Italy with the flames of war, subduing states, and forming new republics in their stead; and had reason to believe he would fall in his turn; and although the French general had denounced the destruction of Rome two months before its capture, the Pope made no preparation whatever for its defence. Instead of embodying and arming his people who were solicitous, and petitioned to be armed, he amused them with pompous processions of the clergy and nobility, ladies of distinction not excepted, with all Rome in their train, for the most part barefoot, and with their heads uncovered; and persuaded them to believe that a miracle would be wrought to obstruct the approach of the enemy, to save the city, while the republican troops took possession of his citadel. Continuing in this infatuated delusion to the last moment, he opened the gates of Rome to hostility aud plunder, and received his provoked and enraged enemy as a friend. Thus all the powers, the political blood of the state, were motionless and stagnate, and as the blood of a dead man." And thus this prophetic verse became completely fulfilled in the fullest sense: Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat."

[ocr errors]

From foretelling the capture of Rome, and the particular manner in which it would be taken, the

prophet proceeds to the consequent event, the total dissolution of the government; and thus, by another apposite metaphor, represents this great event; "for," says he "every living soul died in the sea." Here the word "sea" is put for Rome, the capital of the Roman territory, and

every living soul," for the whole people subject to it. And according to the text, all of them are to die in the "sea," or in Rome. But there are two kinds of death: a natural death, as when the soul is separated from the body, and its members; and the latter no longer derives any benefit from the counsel and direction of the former. There is also a civil death, which is, when the powers of government are separated from the society, and the people no longer enjoy the privilege and benefits derived from its civil institutes. Thus a man, attainted and cut off from the protection of the laws, is said to be "civiliter mortuus," "dead in law;" lost to the society, and the society to him. Now is it to be reasonably supposed that the prophet meant that all the people of the Roman society should meet in Rome, and there die a natural death? The fact is highly improbable, if not impossible. I rather conclude, he means a civil death; because the fact is not only possible, but has literally come to pass in strict verification of the prophecy. For Berthier, the French general, having plundered the city, deposed the Pope, dismissed every officer of the government from their functions, dissolved the government itself, and its laws, and cut off the whole people from their

« PreviousContinue »