Evidence from Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ, by William Miller, , at sacred-texts.com
THIS text is the account we have in the word of God of the last plague that will ever visit our world, or the inhabitants who hereafter will be permitted to dwell thereon. That is evident, because it is the seventh of the last seven. For John says, Rev. xv. 1, "And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God." And the wrath of God is filled up, that is, the cup of God's wrath of which he will make all nations drink; and he will give unto Babylon "the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath."
Then it cannot be uninteresting to those who wish or who may desire to learn where and when the last plagues have been poured out, and how many yet remain for us to experience. These seven last plagues have had their shadows in the plagues which God sent on slave-holding Egypt, when he delivered his people, the Jews, from their Egyptian bondage, the least of which plagues destroyed Pharaoh and his host, just in the moment when Israel were shouting deliverance on the banks of the Red Sea. So likewise, in the seven last plagues, they are poured out upon spiritual Egypt, slave-holding Babylon, who has enslaved the people of God for centuries, and has trafficked in the bodies and souls of men. She, like Egypt, has appointed task-masters over the church, and has endeavored to strangle her children in the birth. She has commanded the kings and rulers of the earth to destroy the children of the church, as did the Egyptians the Hebrew midwives; but the church has found favor in the eyes of some of the kings and princes of the earth, and the earth has helped the woman, and her children are not all dead. And their cry has gone up to the Lord of Sabaoth, and he has come down in these seven last plagues to deliver his people from the hand of the spoiler, and from the power of the beast, the anti-Christian abomination; and when this last vial is poured into the air, all the doctrines of men and devils, and all the theories of men and the wisdom of this world will be confounded and brought to nought. The Lord will overwhelm with the red and fiery wrath of his last judgment the kings of the earth, the beast or Catholic church of abomination, the false prophet and all his followers, the great men of the earth, mighty men and captains, tyrants, slave-holders, rich and poor, bond and free: all who have worshipped the beast or his image, will, like the host of Pharaoh, be destroyed in the general conflagration of the world, and the saints will shout deliverance in the New Jerusalem state. I shall, therefore,
I. Give the history of the seven last plagues, or the seven vials of wrath.
II. Show what may be understood by "It is done."
I. Then we are to give the history of the seven vials or last plagues; and for this purpose we must give a comment on the sixteenth chapter of Revelation. Verse 1, "And I heard a great voice out of the temple, saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth." This verse shows us that these plagues are poured upon the earth at the command of him who sits in the temple of God. Verse 2, "And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image." This first vial was poured upon the earth, meaning the kingdom of the beast or the Roman government. A noisome, a grievous sore, indicates the dissolution of the body afflicted, and that the constitution is laboring under some inward disease, or affected by contagion from without. It is therefore a fit emblem to represent the exposure of the corruptions of the church of Rome, and breaking out of those loathsome diseases of internal abominations which had been hid for ages from the world by the cunning craftiness of this Papal beast. The men spoken of in this passage are those who worship the beast, and who are the professed followers of this corrupt society, and all who live under the influence and control of the idolatrous city of nations, and who traffic in her indulgences and abominable practices. This vial then began to be poured out when the Protestants first published to the world the corruptions and abominable practices of the church of Rome, when the world began to see the noisome and grievous sores that covered the men who pretended to preach or proclaim the doctrine, laws, or commands of the beast. And of course this plague was sent on the Romish church about the year A.D. 1529, under the preaching of Luther, Calvin, and others who opposed and exposed the corruptions of the church of Rome.
Verse 3, "And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea, and it became as the blood of a dead man; and every living soul died in the sea." The sea, in prophetic language, is the centre of some great nation, or society of men, as in a restless and turbulent state; and the things living in the sea, are the persons living under the power or control of this nation, or society. Living soul denotes those persons who have been born of the Spirit, and are in possession of that living faith in God, and love for all men. "As the blood of a dead man." There is something very striking in this figure--not an ordinary figure of blood, which denotes war and mortal controversy, but cold, congealed blood; the blood of a dead man denoting a massacre in cool blood, without any resistance on the part of those murdered. This vial was, then, poured out in France, the principal kingdom in the Roman ten horns, in the year A.D. 1572, at the massacre of the Huguenots on St. Bartholomew's eve, when 50,000 were slain in one night, and the streets ran blood, as Sully tells us, in some places ankle deep, in the city of Paris. This massacre was in cold blood; for the same historian tells us, that the king stood in his balcony, and shot down his naked and defenceless subjects as they were fleeing through the streets. This happened in France, the stoutest of the Papal horns--the chief instrument in establishing, building up, and supporting that cruel, murderous power of Papacy.
Verse 4, "And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters, and they became blood." By "rivers and fountains of water," I understand the nations and states who live around the centre, or sea, as it was called in the preceding vial. By "blood," I understand destructive war. "And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous O Lord, which 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. And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments." In these verses we have the reasons given, why they were visited with this scourge of war, because, in the preceding vial, they had shed the blood of saints; which proves that the exposition of that vial, which I have already given, is correct. This vial, then, was poured out upon the nations that had given their strength and their power to the beast; and the governments were filled with war and blood. This vial was poured out about A.D. 1630, and lasted nearly fifty years. Spain and Portugal carried on a bloody and destructive war for more than thirty years of this time. France was torn by civil and intestine wars during a long period. The civil wars in England began under king Charles I., 1642, which lasted with but little cessation, until king George I. ascended the throne, in 1714. Germany was filled with blood, between the contentions of the Evangelical league and Catholic league, "which gave rise to a ruinous war, which lasted thirty years." See Guthrie, vol. i., page 443. This war was headed, on the part of the Protestants, by Gustavus Adolphus, king of Sweden, who was killed at the battle of Lutzen, A.D. 1632, which war lasted until the peace of Munster 1648. The other kingdoms of the ancient empire of Rome were more or less drenched in blood, and civil wars, on account of their religious tenets, and contention of their rulers and sovereign princes. These were the heavy judgments which God saw fit to inflict upon the kingdoms and states of the church of Rome, for the innocent blood which she had shed of the Protestants who had protested against her cruel and blasphemous practices. "For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink, for they are worthy." "And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun, and power 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." The sun is the great source of light and heat, and, in prophetic language, is an emblem of the gospel, as explained in the 19th Psalm, 4-10. "Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun," &c. To "scorch men" with fire, signifies to make men angry; "great heat," uncommonly angry, vengeful, malicious. This vial was poured out in the last century, when the gospel was proclaimed in these kingdoms of the beast. Now, during the greater part of the last century, and in all the kingdoms where the gospel was preached, there were manifested insidious attempts and a systematic opposition against the gospel of Jesus Christ, or the Holy Scriptures. This opposition was headed by Frederick, king of Prussia, and aided by all the wits, men of genius and learning, as they boasted, of all Europe and America; and in their secret assemblies, or clubs, they went so far as to calculate about what length of time it would take for them to destroy and exterminate the religion of the "Galilean and his twelve fishermen;" and no writers that ever wrote took such unwearied pains, showed so much virulence and anger, blasphemed the name of God to such a degree, as these writers; and none, either before or since, have ever dared to exhibit the like. "And they repented not to give him the glory." I believe it is not known, that any of these principal deistical writers were converted to the religion of Jesus Christ before their death, to give God the glory. Yet I think we have some account of many of them dying in horror, at the frightful view of the future, in consequence of their blasphemous lives against the majesty of the King of kings. Therefore, in the history of the Deists in the eighteenth century, we have the history of the plague of the fourth vial. "And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness, and they gnawed their tongues for pain, and blasphemed the God of heaven, because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds." "The seat of the beast" must mean those ten kingdoms on which the woman sitteth, which is ancient Rome. "Full of darkness" must mean full of wickedness, confusion, and every evil work. "Gnawed their tongues for pain" shows shame, disgrace, and disappointment. This vial was poured out in the French revolution, about 1798. When Bonaparte began his extraordinary career, exalted to the pinnacle of power, he dethrones the pope, (whose power and authority had made kings and emperors quail at his feet, who had ruled over the nations with despotic sway for more than 1200 years,) and makes Rome the second city of France; conquers the ancient monarchies; deluges every country with blood; masters every king; gathers spoils from every land, and humbles cities in the dust; changes the laws of kingdoms, and destroys the most sacred constitutions of the Roman states. In this revolution among the Roman kingdoms, and under this vial, the bastile was demolished, the inquisition destroyed, torture suppressed, and the power of the Papal clergy restrained. Their kingdoms were full of darkness; they were troubled, chafed, and grieved; a thousand plots were laid; many times they confederated against him, the master spirit of the times; but they prevailed not, until this vial had its accomplishment on the seat of the beast. Yet, after all this wonderful display of God's judgments upon the beast and kingdoms of ancient Rome, they repented not, but, Pharaoh-like, they blasphemed God, because of their pains and their sores. "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." The scene has now changed from Europe to Turkey. The "river Euphrates" means, in prophecy, the people of that country bordering on the river, and, of course, refers to the Turkish power, as I have formerly shown in my lecture on the fifth and sixth trumpet. "Water thereof was dried up," is an emblem of the power and strength of that kingdom being diminished, or taken away. This vial was poured out on Turkey, by the loss of a great share of the empire; first, Russia on the north, in her last war with the Turks, took away a number of provinces; then, by the revolt of Ali Pacha; then, by the rising of the Greeks; since, by the Albanians and Georgians, and other distant parts of the empire, becoming disaffected; which, all together, have so wasted the power of the Turks, that, now, it is very doubtful whether she can maintain her power against her own intestine enemies; and, to compare her now with her former greatness, would be like comparing a fordable stream with the great river Euphrates; so that the way now appears to be prepared for the kings to come up to the battle of the great day, in which the false prophet is now to take his part, as we shall see in our next verse.
"And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet; for they are the spirits of devils working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of the great day of God Almighty." Now, if we can decipher this passage, we can tell what are now and what will be the signs of the times. "Three unclean spirits." By this we must understand three wicked principles. "Frogs" I understand to show us that it is political. As frogs came over the land in the judgment on Egypt, and pervaded every house, even the palace of the king, so do politics. "Mouth" denotes orders or commands. The dragon is a figure of the kings of the earth. The beast is used to represent Papacy. The false prophet evidently represents Mahometanism. These have all the spirit of devils. The devil pretends to claim power over all the kingdoms of the world, (see Rev. xii. 9,) there called the devil. Papacy is said, in Rev. xiii. 2, to receive its power from the dragon, and to come out of the bottomless pit, and shall go into perdition; of course, must belong to Satan's kingdom. The false prophet, too, is to be "cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone." All these powers have pretended to work miracles, to establish their authority over the bodies and souls of men. But what are the principles which each of these teach their political followers? The dragon and his political party, in whatever nation they may appear, (as all three of these political principles must pervade the whole earth,) will support tyranny, slavery, and aggrandizement of the few at the expense of many. The beast and his political party will be known only by their hypocrisy, bigotry, and superstition. Their principal object will be to operate on the hopes and fears of men, and so gain an ascendency over the minds of the individuals who may be so unfortunate as to be found in their ranks. The false prophet will fill his party with notions of infidelity, lust, and conquest. And the spirit of all these parties, working at one and the same time, in all nations, and among all people, will produce an effect which only can be known to mortals in experiencing the conflict. "Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame." This verse gives us notice of the near approach of him who hath all power in heaven and earth. "For when they say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day shall overtake you as a thief." Watch, therefore, for if ye have put on the Lord Jesus Christ, keep your garment, and let none take your crown, that you may be found of him without spot and blameless. "And he gathered them together into a place called, in the Hebrew tongue, Armageddon;" that is, "Where the Lord will declare his precious fruit." This gathering is the same spoken of in Matt. xxv. 32, "And before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats." In the place Armageddon, the Lord will manifest who are his; he will separate the chaff from the wheat, the wicked from the just. The wheat he will gather into his garner; they will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, while the chaff will be burnt with unquenchable fire. His own right hand shall save us while his last plague shall be poured out upon the head of his enemies. "And the seventh angel poured his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven from the throne, saying, It is done." The seventh and last vial of God's wrath will be poured into the air about the year 1840, if my former calculations are correct, when this judgment will have a quick and rapid circulation over the whole globe. Like the air, it will pervade every kingdom, circulate into every nation, sow the seeds of anarchy in every society, and disorganize every bond of union among men, except the gospel. "And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings, and a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great." Voices, political strife. Thunders is an emblem of divisions. Lightning is a representation of anger and war. Great earthquake denotes a great revolution. And there will be, when this vial is poured out, political strife among all nations, divisions among all sects, societies, and associations of men upon earth. Anger, war, and bloodshed will fill the countries with horror and dismay; and a great revolution, such as was not since men were upon earth, so mighty a revolution and so great. "And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell; and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath." The great city is the woman which reigneth over the kings of the earth, says the angel, Rev. xvii. 18. And the woman is Papacy. Papacy must also be divided into three parties, to show her dissolution. And the cities of the nations fell. As city denoted the papal power and religion, so does cities represent the power and religion of all other nations. Therefore all the power, and all national religion, will fall in and under this vial, and the anti-Christian power will be judged; all their sins, cruel persecutions, and bloody deeds, will be brought into judgment into remembrance before God, and he will fill to her the cup which she has made others drink, and she in her turn must drink the dregs. "And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found." Islands and mountains are figures of great and small kingdoms and governments. This text alludes to the same time and circumstances which Nebuchadnezzar's dream does, Daniel ii. 35, 45--when the stone cut out without hands shall smite the image upon his feet, and all the kingdoms of the earth be carried away, that no place shall be found for them. In this verse it is, the "mountains were not found." "And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent, and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great." This closes the history of the seven last plagues, and this storm of hail is the last part of the seventh vial; it is the closing up of the judgments of God on an ungodly world. Whether we are to understand this hail figuratively or literally, I am not able to say; but my prevailing opinion is , that we are to understand it literally, for this reason--I have never been able in the word of God to find any figurative explanation, although it is used in a number of places with particular reference to the last day. Isa. xxviii. 17, "Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet, and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding-places." xxx. 30, "And the Lord shall cause his glorious voice to be heard, and shall show the lighting down of his arm, with the indignation of his anger, and with the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, and tempest, and hailstones." Exek. xiii. 11, 13, "Say unto them which daub it with untempered mortar, that it shall fall; there shall be an overflowing shower; and ye, O great hail-stones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall rend it. Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, I will even rend it with a stormy wind in my fury; and there shall be an overflowing shower in mine anger, and great hail-stones in my fury, to consume it." Ezek. xxxviii. 22, "And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hail-stones, fire and brimstone." Also, Rev. xi. 19, "And there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail."
By reading the connection of these texts, you cannot but be struck with the agreement of the prophets in their descriptions of this last and dreadful judgment of God upon the world. All of them evidently fix it on the last day; all call it apparently a rain of great hail-stones, like those which fell upon Egypt in the days of Moses. Exodus ix. 23-25, "And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven; and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the Lord rained hail upon the land of Egypt. So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt, all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field." This, it is evident, is the type of the last part of the seventh plague.
And now, my friends, will you believe? Six of these plagues have been accomplished in as literal a manner as we could expect, after a fair and scriptural explanation of the figures and metaphors used. And again I ask, Do you believe? You think, perhaps, you will wait until you see the hail come, and then you will believe. But will you not recollect that our text says, "And they blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail"? Will you thus tempt God through six successive judgments, and wait for the last before you will believe? What hope or prospect have you that the seventh will do what the six preceding could not do--that is, make you believe? Is there one rational conviction that you will be then convinced? No, not one. Then will you not see and learn wisdom by what is gone before? Pharaoh had no space for repentance under, or even just before the last plague. And so it will be with you; the door will have been shut before any part of the seventh vial will be poured out, for then will be heard a great voice reverberating through the upper vault of heaven, and, sounding even to the dark cells of the pit of woe, shaking the middle air with its deep-toned thunder, and, like the lightning, darting its vivid flash of fire from east to west, will pierce the deafest ear, and make the hardest heart to break, although a thousand fold more hard than the adamantine rock, saying, "It is done." This brings me to show,
II. What we may understand by "It is done."
The first question which naturally arises on the mind is, What is done? When Christ was about expiating for the sins of the world; when he was closing up the work which his Father gave him to do on earth in the flesh; when the spirit was about leaving the tenement of clay which it had inhabited through a life of thirty-three years of pain, sufferings, deprivations, sorrows, groans, and tears, made more acute by temptations trying as the arch-demon of hell could invent; suffering reproach from the haughty Pharisee, and the more obstinate Sadducee, and contempt and ridicule from the base rabble of his own people; persecuted even until death by the envy, malice, and hatred of those who had received boons and blessings of life at this hands,--he had saved them from disease, death, and the rage of demons; yet, in this moment of great need, he was forsaken of all; they stood afar off; and when he was about giving up the ghost, he cried, "It is finished!" and bowed his head, and died. The fratricide man could do no more; he had followed him to death; beyond that the envy of his brother could not reach him. The rabble, who a few days before had cried, Hosannas to the Son of David! this day were crying, Crucify him! crucify him! now could cry no more, but with downcast looks, returned into the city. The Pharisees and rulers could do no more; they had plotted his death, and obtained their object; but into the dark recess of the tomb they dare not, they would not, follow. The great red dragon (the Roman power) had sought his life when a child, but the hour had not come. Herod sought his life when a man, but he could not succeed until the last day of the seventy weeks should be accomplished. Then the powers of earth, wicked men, and devils, could combine to take the life of the Lord of glory. Then, while these powers had control, the heavens hid their face; nature stood back aghast, and the material world shuddered with a groan. Then, at that awful, fitful period, he who had been the object of all this malice, cried with a loud voice, "It is finished!" The work on earth in the flesh is finished; the temptations of Satan are finished; the persecution of his brethren are finished; envy, malice, and hatred towards the person of Christ are finished; the power of earth, hell, and wicked men to do any thing with him, is finished; death has no more terrors over him. It is finished.
Although Christ had finished his work, and had endured all the sufferings which he was to finish; yet in his spiritual body, the church, the measure of his sufferings was to be filled up. His people must pass through the same scenes in the world as their divine Master had experienced from satanic temptations and the hatred of the world. "The world will hate you and persecute you for my name's sake, even as they hated me before they hated you," says our blessed Redeemer. Therefore the same manifestations of cruelty, contempt, persecution, and death, were to be acted over again in the church until the 2300 years should be accomplished, when Christ would come again, receive home his weary, persecuted people, conquer death, and him that had the power of death, which is the devil. "And there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven from the throne, saying, It is done." The power of earth, hell, and wicked men over the dear people of God, is done. Their temptation in the flesh is done; their trials, persecutions, sufferings, darkness, fears, and death itself, are done. As the sufferings of the head was finished in Christ, so will all the pains of the body be completed when the seventh and last vial shall be poured into the air, and cleanse the atmosphere from all noxious vapors, pestilence, and death. "Then shall the sanctuary be cleansed," and then will the great voice from the throne say, It is done. These old heavens and this old earth will have passed away, and the New Jerusalem come "down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband," Rev. xxi. 3-6.
"And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them and be their God, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write; for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done." Here we have the same expression as in our text, having the same identical meaning, the same "great voice," in one as in the other; the same throne, and the same voice speaking, alluding to the same period of time when the old things are done away and the new heavens are finished, to the same point in prophecy, "the end." Therefore, as we have passed the sixth vial, the seventh and last hangs trembling in the air. The drops of this vial are already contaminating the minds of men; already we see the unclean spirit going forth; the great city is being divided, and the signs of the heavens denote a moral conflict, and on the earth a speedy revolution.
Then, my friends, let us be wise; let us make peace with Him who has power to save or to destroy. For we learn by our subject that the world and worldly scenes are passing away; every vestige of mortal grandeur, every form of carnal pride, every fashion of human glory will soon be eclipsed by the grandeur of that great white throne from whose face the heavens and earth will flee away, and the great voice from the throne will sound the last requiem, "It is done."
"Yet when the sound shall tear the skies,