Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.—Rom. 8.33

[Remarks on the Sixth Vial, by Archibald Mason.]






FROM REV. xvi.12.







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.
AN important prediction is contained in this verse, which may be divided into four parts. (1.) An account of an Agent and his work—"And the sixth Angel poured out his vial." (2.) A description of the object on which this vial was poured—"The great river Euphrates." (3.) A representation of the effect which the effusion of this vial produced on that object—"And the water thereof was dried up." (4.) A declaration of the end for which the waters of this river will be dried up—"That the way of the kings of the east might be prepared." It is proposed to offer a few remarks, on these parts of the text.

I. I am now to consider the Agent and his work—"An the sixth angel poured out his vial."

1. He is called an angel. This name is most frequently given to those holy, powerful, and blessed spirits who surround God’s throne above, who have never transgressed any Divine commandment, and who have been often commissioned to deliver to men Divine messages, both of mercy and judgment. In his mediatorial character, this name is also bestowed on the Lord Jesus Christ. He is called "the Angel of God’s presence who saved the church," Isa. 63.9.; and the Messenger, or the Angel, of the covenant, Mal. 3.1. The ministers of the Gospel are also called angels. "The seven starts are the angels of the seven churches; and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest, are the seven churches," Rev. 1.20. In the book of Revelation, this name is frequently mentioned. It is sometimes used to signify the holy angels who have kept their {4} first estate. "And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the beasts, and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power," Rev. 5.11,12. "And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God," Rev. 7.11. The name angel is also given to the agents who were employed in revealing to the Apostle John, the visions of this book. "And I saw the seven angels which stood before God, and to them were given seven trumpets," Rev. 8.2. "And one the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God," Rev. 15.7. We may conclude, that these agents in the visions were holy angels of God. Of those who had the trumpets, it is said, that they stood before God; and of them who had the vials, that they came out of the temple, where God’s throne stood, and that they were clothed in pure and white linen, having their breasts girded with golden girdles. In their other appearances described in the Scriptures, there are some things analogous to these representations. Nor can we imagine any employment more worthy of the agency of the holy angels, their ministrations about the incarnation and birth, the sufferings and death, the resurrection and ascension of the Lord of angels excepted, than their instrumentality in shewing to John, the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him, to shew unto his servants, things that must shortly come to pass. There will be a perfect agreement between the angel’s work in the vision, and the work of Providence when the vision is fulfilled; between the object of the vial, and the party whom it represents; and between the effect produced on the object on which the vial is poured, and the punishment that will be inflicted on the party to whom the vial applies. There is also a resemblance between the angelic agents who are employed in these visions, and the instruments who are, or shall be God’s servants in accomplishing those predictions. As the angels in the vision were chosen and called to that work, were Divinely directed and upheld in performing it, and were successful in finishing the extraordinary vision that John saw; so the agents who shall be engaged in Divine providence for fulfilling it, will also be chosen and called of God to that work, will be guided and strengthened in performing it, and will be enabled to bring it to a complete termination. {5}

2. He is called the sixth angel. The report of this vision commences at chapter 15.1, "And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God." They are called the last plagues, because they will completely destroy those who have destroyed the earth, and have both opposed the kingdom, and persecuted the subjects of the Lord of glory. No other judgments will follow them. Righteousness, peace, and joy, will then prevail among men. The celestial fire which shall destroy the apostates, at the end of the little season, will be a solemn introduction to the day of judgment, as the fire of the universal conflagration will be a most majestic conclusion of it. In verse 1st of chapter 16, the seven angels received their final instructions, from the God of the temple. "And I heard a great voice out of the temple, saying to the seven angels, Go you ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth." This command did not enjoin them to go together and pour out their vials at once; but to go out in succession till all the seven had finished their work. Among the angels who sounded the trumpets, the same order was observed. The angel in our text is called the sixth angel, because the vial he had to pour out, contained a representation of the sixth scene of judgments by which God’s enemies will be destroyed. When the great voice came out of the temple, commanding the seven angels to go and pour out their vials, it is added, "And the first went and poured out his vial, and the second angel poured out his vial;" likewise the third, then the fourth, afterwards the fifth, and then the time came when the sixth angel went forth and poured out his vial. On this account he is called the sixth angel. This order was appointed by the Lord, and observed by his servants. Each one of them knew his place, and poured out his vial at the proper time. According to the beautiful order maintained in the vision, the dispensations of Divine Providence which will fulfill it, will succeed one another till all shall be accomplished.

3. This angel, like the other six, had a vial in his hand. It is called "his vial." It is not called his, because it was his property, nor that he was the provider of its contents, nor yet indeed, because the fulfillment of it belonged to him, and far less surely could it be his vial, because the glory which would arise from its realization ought to be ascribed to him. In respect of these things they belong unto God only. He is their Author. Their contents were provided by {6} him. It is by his power and providence that they will be realized, and all the glory resulting from the revelation and fulfillment of them must be ascribed to him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb that was slain. The vial is called the angel’s because, as the servant of God and of Christ, the effusion of it, as a part of the vision, was committed to his care. Though all the seven angels had a connexion with the whole vision, as joint actors in it; yet each of them had a peculiar concern in that vial which one of the four beasts had put into his hand. The contents of all the vials are the same. In chapter 15.1, they contain "the seven last plagues, for in them is filled up the wrath of God." In verse 7th, they are called "seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever." And in chapter 16.1, hey are said to be "the vials of the wrath of God." The effects they produce on the objects on whom they are poured, are all of the destructive quality. They are Divine executions of wrath, and nothing but wrath is contained in them. Though the effusion of them will promote the Divine glory, and make way for the church’s blessedness; they will execute on their objects nothing but Divine judgments, and inflict on them nothing but human calamities. Some of them appear to effect more dreadful destruction than others; but this makes no difference in the nature, but only in the measure of their contents. The effects they produce, are adapted to the object on which they are poured, and as they advance in their effusion, the calamities are more dreadful and destructive, till this work of judgment shall be finished, in the total ruin of the enemies of God and of Christ.

4. This angel poured out his vial. He performed his work. In the order of his course, he obeyed the Divine command, "Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth." After the five angels who preceded him had fulfilled their appointments, the sixth angel appeared on the scene, and poured out his vial. He performed that work which God, in his infinite wisdom, had appointed to be the emblem of those judgments which he, in his holy providence, would inflict on that enemy, who is represented by the object on which this vial was poured. The action of pouring out a vial hath a beginning, a progress, and an end. The judgments signified by this, and likewise by all the rest of the vials, must assuredly commence at the appointed time. There was no delay on that part of the sixth angel, after the fifth had finished his work; neither shall there be any postponement of its execution when the season of {7} fulfilling it shall arrive. This symbolical action hath also a progress. The contents of the vial are not ordinarily poured out in a moment; but a vial is gradually emptied. The judgments that are signified by this vial, as they will begin at the fixed time, so they will continue during the whole period allotted for their objects to suffer. The operations by which those waters will be exhausted must be continued, and the causes and means by which they are dried up will become more effectual, until this important purpose of the Most High is fulfilled. The pouring out of a vial hath an end. the judgments of God on his enemies in this world, will have an end. This is not the place of everlasting punishment. When the time of the vial is expired, and the object of it is removed, the vial itself will come to an end. How majestic is this vision! How terrific are its symbols! And how grievous must be the sufferings of Christ’s enemies! As certainly as John saw, in the extraordinary visions of God, the seven angels pour out their vial; so assuredly shall men behold the execution of the judgments signified by them, on the parties to whom they belong.

II. The object on which this vial was poured, is now to be considered:—"The great river Euphrates."

1. This river flowed through ancient Babylon, and was of considerable advantage to that city. In the visions of this book, Babylon of old, is employed as a most significant symbol of the Antichristian state and kingdom of Popery. It has therefore been the opinion of some writers, that the great river Euphrates signifies something belonging to Popery itself, closely connected with the Antichristian system, and eminently useful to it; the removal of which would expose Babylon the great to much danger, and deprive her of much safety and comfort. Under this belief, different things have been mentioned as the Euphrates of Antichristian Babylon. The great reduction in Rome’s pecuniary resources, by which she is partly disabled to promote her destructive schemes among the nations; the partial removal, from the kings, the rulers, and the people on the Roman earth, of the dread of her bulls, edicts, excommunications and anathemas, which once made kings and their councils to tremble; and the gradual decline, among men, of her power and influence, which seem dwindling down into insignificancy, have been considered as a realization of this prophetic figure. Plausible as these things may be, and hesitating as my mind once was about {8} the meaning of this symbol; I am now convinced that this explanation of it is erroneous; I shall, therefore lay it aside, and proceed to observe,

2. It may direct us to the knowledge of the object of this vial, signified by the great river Euphrates, if we attend to the events which were predicted by the sixth trumpet. "And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God; saying, to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates," Rev. 9.13-21. It is universally agreed, I believe, that this trumpet predicts the rise, the power, the ravages, the cruelty, and the conquests of the Turks. To no other system will the particular parts of the prediction apply; but in it every circumstance in the prophetic description has been realized. The Turks dwelt originally, in four different governments, beyond or about the Euphrates. When they were united under one Head, and loosed in Divine providence, they marched forth from their own country, subdued the neighbouring nations, conquered the eastern empire of the Christians, and established, in Asia and Europe, a very powerful empire, which has continued to the present time. It is a system of secular tyranny and false religion, established and maintained among men, in opposition to the kingdom of Christ; and therefore it must be destroyed. Its rise and prevalence have been clearly predicted in the vision of the trumpets, and therefore, we may be assured, that its destruction must be foretold in that of the vials. In no other vial can we discern any thing like a representation of its fall, but in that which is now under our consideration.—Besides, in the vision of the trumpets, the Euphrates is mentioned as the place where they had their origin, and from whence they came; and the same river is employed to represent them in the vision of the vials. In both visions, it is called, "The great river Euphrates." That system of secular tyranny and religious delusion which originated at the Euphrates, according to the trumpets, must be the same object which is represented by the same symbol in the vials.—The meaning of the prophetic symbols must still be the same, it cannot be changed. On the one hand, the symbols of the glorious throne, of the four beasts, of the four and twenty elders, of the hundred forty and four thousand, of the woman in the wilderness, of the two witnesses, and the like, wherever they are mentioned in the visions of this book, always represent uniformly the same objects. On the {9} other hand, the symbols of the dragon, of the beast and the false prophet, of the great city, of the ten horns, of the harlot woman, of Babylon the great, and other symbols of the same class, invariably point out the same objects. Since these symbols, whether they relate to the objects belonging to God or to satan, do always describe the same thing; may we not conclude with certainty, that the great river Euphrates, mentioned as it has been both among the trumpets and the vials, must, in both visions, represent the same object, which is the Turkish empire.—Another consideration, which adds to the proof of this, may be taken from the place which this symbol holds in the two visions. In the former vision, the Turkish empire, symbolized by the great river Euphrates, is introduced to our view under the sixth trumpet, and in the latter vision it is again brought before us in the sixth vial. In the sixth trumpet its rise is announced, and in the sixth vial its fall is proclaimed. That we might not mistake the object of this vial, God has mentioned the great river Euphrates as the place of their origin, and has employed the same river to represent them in the vials; and has predicted their rise in the sixth trumpet, and foretold their destruction in the sixth vial. It is therefore beyond all doubt, that the empire of the Turks, is the object of the predictions of our text.—Another argument which also confirms this opinion, may be derived from the end for which the waters of this Euphrates will be dried up; "That the way of the kings of the east might be prepared." The fall of nothing belonging to Popery, nor even of Popery itself, while the empire of Turkey continued, would produce any material effect on the kings of the east. Any influence that these events might have, would be chiefly confined to the kings of the west, or the ten horns of the beast. Since the Spirit of God assures us, that the drying up of the waters of this Euphrates, will prepare the way of the kings of the east, it must be the eastern Antichrist, the tyranny of the Turkish empire, and the absurd delusions of the Mahometan religion, that are symbolized in our text by the great river Euphrates.

3. The fall of the Turkish empire will remove a principal defence from the Antichristian kingdom of Rome. When the Turk shall be driven from his seat, one post may run to meet another, and one messenger to meet another, to shew the Pope of Rome, that his city is taken at one end. The European Peninsula, consisting of Spain and Portugal, is Antichrist’s western high tower; and the empire of Turkey is its eastern bulwark. By this view of the prediction, {10} Islamism is a kind of Euphrates to Popery. While the river Euphrates in this vial represents the Mahometan empire and religion, the destruction of it will deprive Babylon the great of much security, and render it very vulnerable. This will appear from the nature of the things, their present connexion, and the order of the vision. It appears from the nature of the things. The overthrow of one abominable tyranny naturally makes way for the destruction of another. The abolition of one system of false religion tends greatly to undermine another system, which is, though different from the other, equally abominable in the sight of God, and destructive to the souls of men. The example set by the fall of the former will excite others to exert themselves to cast down the latter. The privileges enjoyed by the nations, emancipated from Turkish tyranny and Mahometan delusion, will encourage the western nations to abolish the despotism of the ten horns, and to destroy the blasphemy, idolatry, and error of the Church of Rome.—The present connexion between them also confirms this opinion. The heads and supporters, both of Islamism and Popery, are set in opposition to the civil rights and religious privileges of mankind. Both of them are doing what they can to bind men down under the yoke of secular tyranny, and the belief and profession of false religion. They are combined to prevent the circulation of the Scriptures, and the diffusion of knowledge among men; especially the knowledge of the true religion. In these things they go hand in hand, mutually supporting each other. The Turkish Firman and the Popish Bull, on these important matters, breathe the same spirit, and speak the same language. The fall of the Turk will therefore render the Pope more insecure. For many years the Mahometans have given the Popish kingdoms no trouble. The heads of those systems, for some time past, seem rather to have acted in concert. The object of Turkish hatred seems to be the Greek Church, existing in Russia and their own dominions. With the former they have carried on bloody wars, and over the latter they have exercised the most cruel despotism; and, therefore, their existence is a defence to the antichristian beast.—This truth is also evident from the order of the prophecy. The Turkish empire must fall before the Man of Sin shall go into perdition. The predictions of the sixth vial must be, in a considerable measure, accomplished, before the judgments under the seventh will be inflicted on Babylon the great. The Pope of Rome must stand till the Grand Seignior shall be dethroned. The fall of the eastern Antichrist will be the {11} prelude to the fall of the western; and the overthrow of Popery will be the consequences of the destruction of Turkey. From these things we may conclude that the Turkish empire is the Euphrates of Babylon the great. As Babylon of old could not be taken, till the river Euphrates was dried up; so Babylon the great cannot be destroyed till the empire of the Turks shall perish. And as ancient Babylon was taken immediately after the water of the Euphrates was drained away; so the power and existence of the Beast and the false Prophet shall be speedily annihilated after the tyranny and religion of the Arabian Imposter have come to their end.

III. The effect that was produced on the great river Euphrates, by the effusion of this vial on it, is now to be considered; "and the water thereof was dried up." On this we submit the following remarks:—

1. The waters of a river are necessary to its exercise, and the waters of the Mahometan empire are essential to the being of that system. Different objects may belong unto the Euphratean waters; and they all have been, and still are, in a state of exhaustion. The inhabitants of this empire are its waters, Rev. 18.15. By wars, pestilence, earthquakes, and tyranny, their number has been greatly reduced. The fertility of their soil, the prosperity of their commerce, and the abundance of their wealth, belong also to their waters. These enjoyments also, have been exceedingly impaired. The greatness of their revenues, and the number and valour of their armies, pertain to their waters. in these things that empire has been brought very low. The subserviency of their tributary states, and the wisdom of their councils, may be ranked among her waters, but this stream likewise has been much dried up. When this political Euphrates overflowed all its banks, it was most abundant in all these things; but for more than an hundred years its water, in all its streams, has been greatly exhausted. This empire, instead of resembling a large, full, and majestic river, may now be compared to a rivulet purling in a broad channel.

2. The water of a river is dried up by a powerful and continued drought. This drought consists of two things; withholding from it a supply of rain and snow from the clouds, and subjecting the water to the operation of withering wind and scorching heat. By this metaphor, the overthrow of ancient Babylon was represented; "A drought is upon her waters, and they shall be dried up," Jer. 50.38. {12} With the same visitation of justice and of power, the Turkish empire shall be destroyed; for our text assures us, that the sixth angel poured out his vial on the great river Euphrates, and the water thereof was dried up. A drought dries up the water of a river gradually. Thus has it been with this political Euphrates. For many years, its strength and influence have been wasting by degrees. Drought produces this effect on water imperceptibly. Those who were principally concerned perceived it not. Like Israel of old, "strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not; yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth it not," Hos. 7.9. For producing this effect upon the waters of a river drought operates constantly. There is no total cessation of the wasting stroke. There are some seasons when the drought may operate more powerfully; but while it continues, and respecting the object of this prophecy it will continue to the end, the exhalation of the water will still go on. By this cause, the effect of drying up the water is produced irresistibly. Who can command the rain, the hail, or the snow, to fall on the earth, but that God who is the Proprietor and Disposer of their treasures? Who can restrain the withering wind, or quench the scorching heat of Divine judgments, but God himself? Who could prevent the sixth angel from coming forward in the vision, to pour out his vial on the great river Euphrates? And who shall be able to hinder the Eternal and Almighty God from fulfilling the prediction of this vial, by making this enemy of Christ his footstool. The operation of God’s judgments on this empire has been gradual and unperceived by themselves, but they shall be continued, and at last it shall be irresistibly destroyed.

3. The drying up of the water of a river is the work of God. In his mercy to his people, he has sometimes performed it for their deliverance. When the tribes of Israel departed from Egypt, their God rebuked the Red Sea, and it was dried up, so that he led them through the deep as through the wilderness. When they encamped by Jordan near Jericho, their God did cleave the fountain and the flood, and dried up the mighty rivers. For Israel’s deliverance from Babylon of old, "He said to the deep, Be dry; and I will dry up thy rivers." It is the same God who will fulfill the prediction of the sixth vial, when the water of the great river Euphrates will be dried up. All the vials were full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever. None but God can inflict Divine wrath on its devoted {13} objects. The seven angels were the servants of God. By Divine direction, they could exhibit the vision to the Apostles; but God alone can fulfill it. Concerning this most solemn vision, this was the church’s belief; for whenever the seven angels, having the seven last plagues, appeared, they immediately sang, "Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints," Rev. 15.3.

4. The magnitude of a river makes the operation of drying up its water more wonderful. This name is given to the Euphrates both in the vision of the trumpets and of the vials. The designation of it in both is, "The great river Euphrates." In its length, in the number and greatness of its tributary streams, and in the quantity of water that flowed down its channel, it was the largest river in the west of Asia. It is also a great river in the perpetuity of its name. In Gen. 2.14, it receives this name. In the book of Revelation, it is called by the same name; and, when the names of many other rivers have been changed, it retains its primitive name to our own times. In these particulars, it is a proper symbol of the empire of Turkey. That empire is very great. In the vast extent of its possessions, the number of its provinces, the greatness of its armies, the multitude of its subjects, the original fertility of its soil, and the greatness of the power which it formerly possessed, it may be ranked amongst the greatest empires that have existed in the world. On this account, its destruction must be a wonderful work of God. As the work of drying up the water in a rivulet is not to be compared with that operation by which the water of a great and mighty river is exhausted; so the work of God in bringing down a small kingdom is not so wonderful as that operation of his Providence will be, when he shall annihilate a mighty empire. This dispensation of God’s providence will fill the nations with wonder, the church with joy, and the hearts of tyrants with dismay. It will constrain many to exclaim, "How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!"

5. When the waters of a river are greatly exhausted, it is prevented from overflowing all its banks, and spreading desolation in the fertile and extensive plain through which it flows. This is the present situation of the empire of Turkey. Times have been, but they have passed away, never we hope to return, when the rulers of Turkey sent forth their armies into Africa, Italy, Spain, Austria, Poland, and the Islands of the sea. Times have been when they {14} added to their dominions in the east cities and provinces from Persia and other states. But her waters are now so much dried up, that she acts but feebly on the defensive. In some of her late wars her waters have been reduced to the lowest ebb. The mutual jealousy of the European powers has been the sole cause of her protracted existence. But exist she must till the day of her visitation arrive. For many years, a small corner of her dominions in Europe, who revolted from her cruel tyranny, have successfully resisted her attempts to subdue them. In the accomplishment of the prediction of this vial, God hath so dried up her waters, that they are now greatly consumed by the drought he hath sent on them. "The number of the army of the horsemen, two hundred thousand," is now greatly reduced. "The breastplates of fire, and of jacinth and brimstone," appear now to be destroyed. "The fire, the smoke, and the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths," are almost entirely quenched. "And their tails, like unto serpents," seem now unable to do any hurt: Rev. 9.16-19.

6. When the waters of a river are completely dried up, the river itself will cease to exist. When the water’s channels are seen, and entirely dried, grass will spring up where water flowed. To the following generations that river’s bed will be unknown. Thus will it be with the temporal dominion and the religious system of Turkey. In our text, a complete absorption of her water is foretold; "And the sixth angel poured out his vial on the great river Euphrates, and the water thereof was dried up." No more water shall be there. No longer shall the object of this vial exist on the face of the earth. No more shall her immoral and wretched tyranny oppress men; nor her irrational and beastly religion deceive the hearts of the simple. In the doom of his brother and companion in wickedness, the Pope of Rome, he shall share; "Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and the water of the great river Euphrates be dried up, and shall be found no more at all." "though he may plant the tabernacles of his palaces between the seas, in the glorious holy mountain," which, in his flight from his present seat, it is possible he may do; "yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him," Dan. 11.45.

IV. To the important end for which the water of the great river Euphrates will be dried up, our attention must now be directed,—"That {15} the way of the kings of the east may be prepared." On this, I remark,

1. The parties who are intended in this part of the text are denominated "the kings of the east." They are represented as persons of royal dignity. As kings represent and rule over kingdoms; their subjects, as well as themselves, must be included in this description. They are called the kings of the east. By these we certainly must understand the kings and kingdoms of Asia, the eastern quarter of the world. They comprehend the rulers and inhabitants of the Asiatic continent and islands. These include the Tartars, the Chinese, the Indians, the Persians, &c. besides those parts of Asia that are yet under the dominion of Russia and Turkey. Some have supposed that God’s ancient people, the Jews, are symbolized by the kings of the east. We are bound to believe that they are signified by this figure, but not exclusively. As their ancient possessions lay eastward from the place where John saw and wrote the visions of this book, as many of them reside in the east, and as the Hebrew tongue is introduced, and Hebrew transactions are alluded to in a following verse belonging to this vial, we are sufficiently authorized to include them under this symbol of the kings of the east. The inhabitants of the kingdoms of Asia, and the Jews who may be dwelling among them, are the objects designated by the kings of the east.

2. The existence of the tyranny and religion of Turkey forms a most powerful obstruction to the conversion of the Jews, and the eastern nations, to the Christian religion. This is plainly included in our text, "The waters of the great river Euphrates must be dried up, that the way of the kings of the east may be prepared." The object symbolized by this river must therefore be a great hindrance to the conversion of the parties who are denominated the kings of the east. As the drying up of the Red Sea was necessary that Israel might be delivered from their bondage and toilsome labours in Egypt; so those Euphratean waters must be dried up, that the eastern nations may be rescued from Mahometan delusions and heathen idolatry. The drying up of Jordan was not more necessary for Israel’s entry into the land of Canaan, than the destruction of the Turkish empire will be for their accession to Christianity, and return to their father’s inheritance. This is necessary both from the nature and extent of that religion. As to its nature, it is a system full of the most irrational and absurd dogmas, both with respect to faith {16} and morality, invented by one of the most wicked of the human race, forced on men at the outset by the edge of the sword, and supported by the most cruel and unrelenting tyranny that has existed among men. The necessity for the removal of it appears also from its extent. It is the religion of the great body of the inhabitants of the vast empire. There are other nations who are beyond the reach of Turkish tyranny, professing, in the substance of it, the same religious belief. Besides, the votaries of this delusion are mixed up among the inhabitants of the heathen nations of the east. Since the noxious streams of this river are diffused so extensively, it is necessary, for the salvation of Jew and Gentile, that they should be dried up.

3. It is a special end for which the Mahometan religion and tyranny will be subverted, that the way of the kings of the east, for embracing true Christianity, may be prepared. By this Divine work on the earth, other most important ends will be accomplished. God will be glorified, Christ will be honoured, predictions will be accomplished, joy shall prevail in the Church, shame shall cover the enemies of the Lord, and blessings shall be poured down upon men. But the immediate effect will be the preparation of the way of the eastern nations, Jew and Gentile, to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, that they may be saved. Stumbling-blocks will be removed, light will arise and shine on them, and they will be constrained to forsake that religion by which they have been deceived, and to submit to our Redeemer’s scepter. It will be the preparation of the way suited to their condition. If the Jews require a sign; this wonderful work of God, in overturning the Turkish empire, will, by the Divine blessing, completely satisfy them. If the eastern nations are under cruel bondage, by this wonderful work they will be delivered. The preparation of this way will be necessary. How can the eastern Jews in general believe the gospel, and return to the land of their fathers, till the prediction of this vial shall be fulfilled? And how can the eastern nations embrace Christianity, till Mahometan delusions are removed? The preparation of this way will be visibly begun, when the fall of that empire shall strikingly commence, in tumults, revolts, and war. The preparation of the way will be carried on, when the destruction of that empire seems to be hastening, by disappointments, defeats, and the loss of provinces. And the preparation of the way will be finished, when the rulers, and the {17} armies, and the system with them, shall be hurled to destruction, and arise no more.

4. When the Mahometan religion and tyranny are destroyed, the conversion of the Jews and the eastern nations will speedily commence. The way will then be prepared, and it will not be suffered to mourn, because no man goeth on it. He who hath prepared it, is able to bring travelers into it. The end of this glorious work, by which their way will be prepared, shall not be frustrated. As soon as it is made ready for them, the kings of the east will begin to move, the people will gather together, and kingdoms, to serve the Lord. When it is prepared, the eastern Jews will also begin their march to their dwelling-place. At such a crisis, we cannot suppose that the western Jews will remain inactive, or stationary. The Turkish empire not only holds in its grasp their promised land, but its seat and principal strength are placed between their present abode and their fathers’ inheritance. The fall of that empire will of course prepare their way also for returning to their Millennial rest. God will then begin, in a most visible manner, to give to his Son, our Mediator, the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession. Then all the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. As the fall of Turkey will prepare the way of the eastern nations, so the fall of Popery will prepare the way of the western nations, to come to the brightness of our Redeemer’s rising in the east. "For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall the coming of the Son of man be." The fall of Popery will not be long delayed, after the fall of Turkey, because in a following verse belonging to this vial, he says, "Behold, I come as a thief, Blessed is he that watcheth." The fall of the eastern Antichrist will accelerate the fall of the western; and the fall of the western Antichrist will encourage and increase the travelers on the way prepared for them, by the fall of the eastern, till that declaration shall be fully accomplished—"The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever."

5. Men who are vested with civil authority will be employed in accomplishing the blessed alterations which shall take place in the world, both when the Euphratean waters are dried up, and when Babylon the great has fallen. They are the kings of the east who are mentioned in the text. This must import that persons in that {18} station will neither be violent opposers, nor indifferent spectators of this work of God; but that they will employ their regal influence and authority for promoting it. Since our Redeemer is King of kings, and Lord of lords, and Prince of the kings of the earth, and by him kings reign, and princes decree justice, men in these elevated stations must be under obligations to serve the interests of his kingdom on the earth. Since God has promised that kings shall be nursing fathers to his church, and that they shall shut their mouths at him, and that all dominion shall serve and obey him; it must be the duty of magistrates to serve the Lord with fear, to rejoice with trembling, and to kiss the Son. Since God has foretold that the kings of the east shall come, and that the ten crowned horns shall hate and destroy the whore; the rulers of the earth will perform important operations among men, in drying up the Euphrates, in casting Babylon down, and in building up Sion. Since the church in the wilderness had Moses as king, in Jeshurun, and Aaron the high priest; since the church returned from captivity had at first Zerubbabel governor of Judah, and Joshua the high priest, and afterward Nehemiah the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest, who, in their different offices, acted for God’s glory and the church’s prosperity, it must be the duty of men who are in civil and sacred offices to unite their endeavours to promote the same ends. These precious promises to the church our honoured ancestors believed, and those approved examples they imitated in the periods of our Reformation; and the same course will be followed by the nations of the world, when they shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ. In times of apostasy and division, under establishments of more or less purity or corruption, it is easy for men to speculate about subjects of this kind, but place them in a land that has lately received the true religion, or has reformed it from gross corruptions, and, from the circumstances of the case, if not from the word of God, they would soon be convinced that magistrates and subjects, ministers and people, according to their different stations, should unite their endeavours, both for advancing their reformation-purity, and for rendering it permanent.

A few inferences are now to be deduced from this subject.

1. All of us should improve it for affecting our minds deeply with those truths which the fulfillment of Divine predictions tends to display and confirm. That a multitude of Scripture prophecies have {19} been accomplished, no person, who has searched God’s word, and observed his work in the earth, can deny. The gradual and increased fulfillment of the prediction in our text, will be evident to all those who know any thing about the former and the present state of the Turkish dynasty. These things should convince us of the glorious majesty of God. He knows the end from the beginning. In his wisdom he hath contrived, and in his sovereignty he hath appointed all these things. His power and faithfulness are glorified in bringing them to pass. His mercy and justice are manifested in them all.—The Divine origin of the Scriptures is also established by these works of God. Since the predictions of that book have been so visibly fulfilled, it must be the word of the living and everlasting God.—By the same means we should be convinced of the truth of the Christian religion. Since the fulfillment of the Divine predictions are a confirmation of it, how should we cleave to that religion, by believing its supernatural doctrines, obeying its holy precepts, attending on its instituted ordinances, and waiting for the accomplishment of its precious promises, to ourselves, to others, and to the church of God!—And on this ground, how assured ought we to be of the truth of that scheme of our personal salvation, by God’s free grace, reigning through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord.

2. This subject may remind us of the beautiful order of all God’s works. The way of the kings of the east must be prepared before they can walk in it. This is a rule of the Divine procedure in all his works. He prepared the way for the public ministry and work of the Lord Jesus, by the ministry of John, who said to the Jews "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias." By a work of conviction, he prepares the way for the conversion of sinners. By a work of sanctification, he prepares the way for the glorification of believers. By powerful works of mercy and judgment, he will prepare the way for the coming in of the fullness of the Gentiles, and the salvation of all Israel. By finishing all his works here below, he will prepare the way for the coming of the Son of Man in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory, to judge the quick and dead. And by finishing this solemn work of judgment, he will prepare the way for the everlasting glorification of all his redeemed people. With humble adoration and praise, let us say, "O Lord, how manifold are {20} thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all; the earth is full of thy riches."

3. Judgments make way for mercies. Christ can bring spiritual and everlasting good out of moral and penal evil. The execution of the threatening prediction of our text will bring great calamities on some; but by means of it, blessings both temporal and spiritual will be extended to others. With humility and reverence, let us adore the wisdom, sovereignty, justice, and goodness of God. Let us say with the prophet, "this also cometh forth from the Lord of hosts, who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working." With the saying of the angel of the waters, we should cordially join, "thou art righteous, O Lord, who art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink, for they are worthy." The renovation of the world bears some resemblance to the sanctification of believers. That they may grow in grace, God strengthens the principles of holiness within them, and subdues their iniquities. By his Spirit and grace, he enables them to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and to perfect holiness in his fear. He gives, in a higher degree, the renewing of the Holy Ghost to his saints, and causes them, through the Spirit, to mortify the deeds of the body, that they may live. When God shall purify the earth, he will remove from it political and ecclesiastical systems that are opposed to his glory and will, and shall establish on his footstool Christ’s kingdom of righteousness and peace. By means of his judgments, he will destroy incorrigible sinners out of the world, and multiply by means of his Gospel, true believers in his church. Who can consider the Divine threatenings against wicked persons and nations, numerous and explicit in both Testaments, without being convinced that a season of awful calamities is approaching. And who can survey his promises to his church without being filled with the expectation of a glorious day, when the church shall triumphantly sing both of mercy and of judgment.

4. From this subject we may be assured that Christ’s enemies shall be overcome, and that his kingdom shall be exalted. The great river Euphrates shall be dried up, and the kings of the east shall come, and the church shall be greatly enlarged. The Gentiles shall come to our Redeemer’s light, and kings to the brightness of his rising. Babylon the great shall fall, and the marriage of the {21} Lamb shall be solemnized. Our text, and other predictions of the same kind, are the true sayings of God. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but his word shall not pass away, till all shall be fulfilled. His counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure. On this let our faith rest, let this encourage our hope, that we may patiently wait till we receive the promise. To encourage us both in hope and in prayer, let us remember "that the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither is his ear heavy that it cannot hear." To strengthen her faith in promised deliverances, and to encourage her hope of the glorious things that were spoken of the city of God, the church of old made mention of Rahab and Babylon to them who knew the Lord. Let us go and do likewise.

5. This subject shews us how easily the Lord can subdue his most powerful and implacable enemies. The symbol in the text is an action which can be performed with perfect ease, while the effect is grand and astonishing. Pouring the contents of a vial on a mighty river, and the water in it is completely dried up. This fire of the wrath of God will cause the waters to boil, and they shall entirely evaporate in smoke. When a person pours the contents of a vial on the water or the ground, he performs a very easy work. The angel’s action, thought exceedingly solemn and significant, was not laborious. This represents in a figure, the infinite ease with which the God and Possessor of heaven and earth can make Christ’s enemies his footstool. Did he, in the creation of all things, only speak, and it was done; did he command, and all things were established; he shall, with equal ease, in the dispensations of his providence, overthrow the throne of kingdoms, destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen, put down the mighty from their seats, and exalt men of low degree. If he but look on the earth, it trembleth with terrific earthquakes; and if he touch the mountains, they emit the smoke of raging volcanoes. Let us, O Christians, believe in his Almighty power and Divine faithfulness, that he can easily accomplish his work, and that in all things he will do as he has said.

6. This subject makes it manifest that all creatures are under God’s control, and that he employs them as instruments in his hand, for executing his works of mercy and judgment. All the holy angels are his servants. He employed their ministry in giving this most remarkable vision, to the Apostle John. He could have {22} communicated to him the knowledge of it in an immediate way from himself; but it pleased him in his infinite wisdom, to adopt the other method of doing it. As the vision was given by the disposition of angels, so it will be fulfilled, in a great measure, by the instrumentality of men. Though he could easily destroy his enemies, like the Antediluvians and the men of Sodom, with the blast of the breath of his nostrils; yet it has seemed good in his sight to employ in some degree human instrumentality. In the punishment of ancient Babylon, he commanded his sanctified ones, and mustered the hosts of the battle. When he shall arise to shake terribly the earth, in the destruction of the eastern and western Antichrist, it will be done by terrible wars and other dreadful calamities. The two verses which follow our text represent satan, secular tyrants and blasphemous ecclesiastics, plotting to excite the kings of the earth, and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of the great day of God Almighty. From the character of those parties, we may infallibly judge of their design in the war, which, no doubt, however wicked and cruel, they will denominate, just and necessary. The object of the dragon, "that old serpent which is the devil," must be to preserve and increase all kinds of wickedness and misery on the earth; that of the beast, must be to maintain and perpetuate secular tyranny with all its criminal, debasing and hurtful effects among men; and that of the false prophet must be to uphold and propagate in the world error, idolatry, ignorance, delusion, and immorality. But after God had given a word of warning and a promise of blessedness to his people, we find all these armies gathered together in Divine providence into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. The seventh angel then poured out his vial into the air, and all its desolating effects are recorded, unto the end of the chapter. Such frightful symbols,1 must certainly predict extraordinary calamities among men. Let the saints believe that their God hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, that he is the disposer of all events, and that he will overrule all things for his own glory, his people’s salvation, the church’s prosperity, and the removal of his enemies.

7. This subject authorizes us to believe that some remarkable change in religious matters will begin among the nations of the east, {23} before any thing very extraordinary will take place among the western nations. The sixth vial will be poured out, and some of its effects will begin to be accomplished, before the effusion of the seventh vial, or the appearance of any of its consequences. The vision of the vials is not designed merely to delineate Christ’s enemies, or the judgments by which they will be destroyed; but it also gives us information concerning the order of time in which those enemies will fall, and the effects of their fall will begin to appear. This order is perfectly evident in the vision of the trumpets, and it is not less visible in that of the vials. In this vision, the sixth angel poured out his vial on the great river Euphrates, before the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air. The water of the great river Euphrates will be dried up before the voices, the thunders, the lightnings or the earthquakes shall be heard, seen, or felt. The way of the kings of the east will be prepared, and they will begin to walk in it, before the cities of the nations fall, and great Babylon come up in remembrance before God, to give her the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. We are therefore warranted to believe that, among the nations of the east, God will visibly begin that work by which the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. While other places were not overlooked, the eastern continent and islands were among the first objects to which the Bible and Missionary Societies turned their attention. Much success cannot be expected in the Turkish provinces, till its dynasty be dashed in pieces like a potter’s vessel; but in the meant time, great preparations may be made in other kingdoms of Asia, for turning to that way and walking in it, when that absurd religion and tyranny, as the fulfillment of the sixth vial, shall perish from the earth. This consideration should encourage the Gospel labourers in the east, those who employ them, and those who contribute to their support. It ought also to excite those who give themselves to prayer for the extension of the Redeemer’s kingdom on the earth, to send up effectual and fervent supplications to the throne of grace, that God would cause the Gospel of Christ to penetrate into the midst of the eastern kingdoms and empires, making them ready for publicly walking in this way, when it shall be fully prepared for them. This consideration should also fill the hearts of the saints with a holy concern to observe the dispensations of Divine providence and grace in the land of the children of the east, and with a godly anxiety to hear good news from that far country. {24}

8. This subject may guide us to the knowledge of the times that are passing over us. The sixth vial seems to be pouring out, in those days in which we live. The effects of former vials, especially the fifth, may be visibly continuing, and great preparations may be making for pouring out the seventh vial of wrath; but the present operations of Providence, seem to relate to the drying up of the waters of the great river Euphrates, the symbol of the Turkish empire, preparing the way for the conversion of the eastern Jews, and the kings, or kingdoms of the east. The fifth vial, which is poured on the beast’s throne, or seat, signifying the unlawful power or tyranny of secular rulers, and the blasphemous dominion and oppression of Popes, Cardinals, and Prelates, has been long pouring out and is not yet finished. The resistance that has been opposed to their tyranny, and the encroachments which have been made on their unlawful power, both civil and religious, continuing as they have done through several ages, are making progress in our days, and will be perfected in due time.2 It is probable, from the nature {25}

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1. See these and others described in the fall of Babylon the great. Dis. IV.

2. In different publications, I have shewn my opinion concerning the calculation of the prophetic Numbers; and to that opinion I still adhere. My last and summary statement may be found in the Scriptural View and Practical Improvement of the Divine Mystery respecting the Jews and the Gentiles, Page 93-96. I am aware that some writers of eminence, by adding John’s 1260 days, or years, to 756, the date of the Pope’s exaltation to the rank of a temporal prince, have fixed the beginning of the Millennium at the 2016th year of the Christian era. To this opinion there are several objections. In this calculation, no account is given of Daniel’s numbers of 30 and 45 days. These are as really prophetic numbers, and as plainly belong to the fall of Antichrist and the commencement of the Millennium as John’s number of 1260 days. That calculation which does not make their fulfillment appear, must be erroneous. If Daniel’s numbers must be added to the number of John, the Millennium cannot begin till the 2091st year of the Christian era, 265 years hence, which is not very probable.—The 756th year was the date of the Pope’s highest advancement, and cannot be justly considered as the time at which he rose. Long before that period, he had existed in his true Antichristian character, had exercised his spiritual supremacy, and had introduced into the church a multitude of Popish abominations. It must therefore be highly unreasonable to calculate his rise from that date.—If that year, 756, be an epoch which has an era corresponding to it, the event at that era cannot be either the fall of Antichrist, or the commencement of the Millennium; because at that year the church did not begin to lose her independence and purity, nor did the Pope then begin to exercise his Antichristian supremacy.—If the trans-

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