« PreviousContinue »
which history declares have been remarkable for "shedding the blood of the saints and prophets," save Papal France, Papal Germany, and Papal Rome? From the calculations of some authors, they have put to death thirty millions of Christians, in the short space of forty years (how many then must they have destroyed in many centuries?) for no other crime but because they would not desert their faith in the word of God, and embrace abominable idolatry.
But who is this ANGEL OF THE WATERS? An angel is a person, either spiritual or temporal, whom God employs to perform his will. The word is generally applied to intellectual and spiritual beings, the ministers sent to execute the orders of his providence*. But it is also made use of by the prophet himself, to denote an elder or chief, presiding over a Christian church. Where he is ordered to write to the seven churches, he is directed to address his epistles to the respective "angels" or presidents of those churchest. In this sense only can the word "angel," in this verse be properly understood. But it still remains to be enquired into, who is this president or chief ruler of a church? The text gives at least a probable answer. It is "the angel of the waters, or a person whom God, in the course of his providence, has sent to preside with power on or over the waters. Hence it seems, that "the
Rev. ii. 1. 8. 12.
* Heb. i. 7.
angel of the waters" here is not only a metaphor for a chief ruler of a Christian church, but à defender of its interest and safety, upon the ocean or the great waters; one whose naval force is superior to all others upon the sea. If I am right in this construction of the text (and I think it will admit of no other) may we not, with a degree of hope, if not of confidence, look up to OUR BELOVED SOVEREIGN, George III. (and under him this greatly favoured nation) as the object here alluded to? From his youth he has been a singular example of virtue and piety, to all the kings and princes of Europe. He is the head of the Protestant church. He is not merely the nominal, but real defender of the Faith. While in these dreadful times, the designs of other nations have been smitten with weakness and folly, he has been highly blest in the wisdom and steadiness of his councils, in the suppression of the traitorous designs of his intestine, and in repelling the invasion of his foreign enemies, and more especially, in his naval victories over their formidable fleets. They were victories so miraculously seasonable that they have saved Great-Britain, if not the world, from anarchy and ruin; and victories so decisive, that the greater part of the naval force of the enemy has been destroyed, and the remainder compelled to seek for safety under the strong walls of their fortifications, and to leave the King of this island, the unrivalled sovereign of the ocean "THE ANGEL OF THE WATERS." GRACIOUS GOD! how undeserved,
and yet how abundant are thy mercies! Whilst thou art thus pouring out the vials of thy wrath upon surrounding nations, thou art not only sparing us, but crowning us with triumph. and honor! O that the sons and daughters of Great-Britain, with hearts deeply impressed with thy goodness, would rightly consider their temporal and eternal interests, and seek thee whilst thou art to be found! that they would redouble their gratitude, their love of thy divine truths, and their obedience to thy holy will, that they may, when these dreadful vials shall be emptied, be thought worthy to proclaim to the world, "Thou art worthy, O "LORD, which art, and wast, and shalt be, "because Thou hast judged thus."
Vial 4.-Ver. 8, 9.-" And the fourth angel poured out his vial on 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, who had pow"er over these plagues, and. they repented not "to give Him the glory."
I have shown before, that the first vial refers to the state of France under those bloody tumults, insurrections, and massacres, which led to the destruction of the monarchy, and the consequent revolution: the second, to the deposition of the Pope; and the third to the devastation of the French armies in Germany. Here, in the fourth, he resumes the prophetic history of the events
in France, which followed those of the first vial, He begins with the most remarkable event, the murder of the King: and proceeds, in due order, to those which immediately followed, down through the reign of terror, to the death of that frightful monster Roberspierre. This will appear not improbable, when we translate the text into its literal meaning. This vial was to be "poured out upon the sun." The Sun is a great, powerful, and splendid body, in the natural world. It is therefore an apposite and beautiful type for a great and powerful monarch in the political world, keeping a brilliant and magnificent court. the same type which was made use of by Isaiah for the king of Babylon, when foretelling the destruction of that grand and powerful empire*. The same is used to denote the emperor by the prophet, when predicting the decline and fall of pagan Rome, while in the zenith of her power, splendour and gloryt. Now the monarchy of France had been for ages before, and was, at the time of the late revolution, the most powerful of any in Europe. The surrounding nations have often been obliged to combine their forces, to save themselves from her inroads and oppression. Her Kings have displayed, in their court, the utmost splendour and magnificence, far surpassing all the other kings of Europe; and hence the appellation of the grande monarche has been given to them. Besides, with superlative pride they have worn an emblem of the sun, as a type of
Chap. xiii. 10. Ezek. xxxii. 7. † Rev. vi. 12.
their superior power and magnificence over the kings of the earth, and presumptuously assumed as their motto, "NEC PLURIBUS IMPAR:" and this emblem was worn by the late king, These circumstances united, being peculiar to the monarchs of France and no other, seem plainly to indicate, that LEWIS XVI. was the object intended to be marked out by the hieroglyphic the "Sun," and upon which this vial was to be poured out; and it has been poured out upon him by the providence of that God who "sets up kings," and overturns kingdoms, according to his righteous pleasure.
To unfold all the calamities suffered in body and mind by this unfortunate King, would engross a volume: it would be to write a history of the revolution. Let it then suffice to say, that, destitute of friends, he sought them abroad and at home, and found none. The princes of Europe were in a manner deaf to his cries, and his people. were so many vultures preying upon his vitals. His cabinet was faithless and treacherous; his army, lately the most loyal and devoted, forsook him, and revolted to his enemies, who were ingenious in contriving the means of distracting and tormenting his mind, disgracing his dignity, and annihilating his power. Surrounded by factions, who were fearless of God or man, the most bloody insurrections and massacres displayed themselves without intermission, not only in all parts of his kingdom, but in his capital, nay before his face, menacing him and his family with death. At length, helpless and hopeless, he was