[Table of Contents]|
B. W. Johnson|
Vision of the Ages (1881)
THE FALL OF BABYLON.
The Revival of Religion.--The Gospel Angel.--Mystic Babylon.--The
Earth Reaped.--The Wine |
The reader has learned that the thirteenth chapter is devoted to a description of two mighty powers of wickedness which, hand in hand, have waged war upon the Church of Christ. It is a gloomy picture, well calculated to fill the saints with fearful foreboding. A persecuted, suffering Church, beholding these mighty enemies, their terrible work, these fearful struggles of the future, these triumphs of the wicked, might almost be led to despair of the final victory of the Redeemer's cause. Hence, for the encouragement of the saints, their eyes are turned, in the fourteenth  chapter, upon a brighter vision. The dark clouds are lifted off the future, and they are enabled to look beyond and to see the glorious fruition of all the tears and sorrow, the struggles and trials of the Church. The vision of this chapter cheers the saints and encourages them to press on in the hour of darkness, by leading the child of faith to the end of time. The prophet first describes a glorious revival of true religion upon the earth, next points to a triumphant proclamation of the everlasting gospel by this zealous, purified, Christlike church, then shows us the result of a conquering gospel in the fall of Babylon, the city of fornication, and the punishment of all who worship the beast or his image, and finally sweeps on beyond the mighty event to the last scenes of earthly history. The coming of the Son of Man, sitting upon the clouds of heaven, is then portrayed upon the great panorama that sweeps before his vision. The earth is reaped by the angels sent to gather the elect; after this the sickle is put forth again to cut off the clusters from the vine of the earth, and these are cast into the winepress of the wrath of God. The chapter closes with a delineation of the awful terrors of the great day when God shall forbear no longer, when he shall listen to prayers no more, but when the wicked shall be trodden in the  winepress without the Holy City. The first thing that invites our attention is the
"And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him a hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: and they sang as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God."--14:1-5.
John beholds upon Mount Zion the Lamb of God, and with him 144,000 saints. Mount Zion, the city of the great King, the seat of the worship of God in Jerusalem, was a type, and is used as a symbol of the true Church. In Hebrews, chapter 12:22, the saints who have entered into the covenant of Christ are said to have come, not to the mount that could not be touched, but to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. It is there used for the church of saints, and such is its meaning in this passage. The number, 144,000, seen with the Lamb on Zion, has been used once before in portraying the grand triumph of  Christianity after the seals of Persecution and Revolution. I do not suppose that it, is designed to represent ail exact number, but these stand forth as the representatives of a class. "They are first fruits unto God and the Lamb." As the first fruits, devoted to God, were representative of the whole harvest, so these stand forth as the representatives of the harvest of souls. We are to behold in them as they stand on Mount Zion with the Lamb in their midst, a picture of the Church in some age of the world. Let us observe the facts stated of them:
1. The Lamb is in their midst; a characteristic of the holy saints.
2. They are engaged in the praise of God.
3. They sing a song that none but the redeemed can sing. It is the song of redeeming grace.
4. They are pure, unspotted, undefiled, not fornicators, nor sullied with unholy desires.
5. They follow the Lamb whithersoever he goes. They are sheep that hear the Shepherd's voice. They are obedient to all his commandments. They follow his example as well as his words. They live a Christlike life.
6. In their mouths was found no guile, and they were without fault before the throne of God.
Whenever the Church of God becomes  purified, ceases unholy fornication with the world, these are the marks which it will exhibit, and I hold that this beautiful description of a pure, holy, devoted, Christlike band of worshipers, with the Lamb in the midst of them and following him whithersoever the goes, Is the picture of a day yet in the future, when Zion shall put off her soiled garments, adorn herself with the pure white robes of Christ's righteousness, and as the spotless bride of the Lamb follow him in holy obedience, to his will.
This is the first great step towards the redemption of the world and the triumph of Righteousness. Before that triumph comes there must be a revival of Zion, a purification of the Church, a self-sacrificing, devoted, earnest people. In the age that the apostle points out this grand consummation will have been attained. There follows the legitimate result, the second great step in the pathway of triumph, the proclamation by a holy, fervent, Christlike Church of a successful, triumphant gospel.
"And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying, with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him: for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters."--14:6, 7.
The Savior taught that a true church alone  could successfully extend the glory of his name when he said, "Let your light so shine before men, that they seeing your good works may glorify your Father in heaven." The apostle has here described a shining Church, and it must necessarily follow that the Gospel should be proclaimed actively and successfully to the nations of earth. This wide-spread proclamation is fitly symbolized by the angel flying through the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to proclaim to the inhabitants of the earth, and to every nation, and tribe, and tongue, and people. I have before said that an angel is simply a messenger. The term may represent the bright spirits who carry the messages of God. It may represent any agency of earth chosen to carry out the purposes of God. Since the ascension of Christ the preaching of the gospel has been committed, not to the angels of heaven, but to the saints. This glorious angel that flies across the heavens with the blessed message, the grand old gospel, the gospel of Pentecost and Cæsarea, Philippi and Rome, evidently represents an earthly agency, a sublime missionary spirit on the part of the revived Church. Full of zeal, breathing the spirit of the Master, permeated with the apostolic spirit, as in the days of old it will go everywhere preaching the word. The old, old,  story, told by a holy people, told with a burning zeal and overflowing love, shall exhibit its divine power in the salvation of the nations.
As these grand principles of divine truth are proclaimed and accepted, as the pure ancient gospel prevails, the foundations of every evil institution will be gradually undermined and they shall, at last, fall in ruin. I have, therefore, presented as the third step in this series, the third milestone on the path that leads to the consummation of earthly history in the triumph of Christ
THE FALL OF BABYLON.
"And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture, into the cup of his indignation; and the shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb."--14:8-10.
It is needful to inquire what the term Babylon means. It occurs several times in the New Testament. Here it is spoken of as "that great city," and her fall is doomed "because she had made all nations drunk with the wine of her fornication." In Rev. 17:5, a scarlet harlot is seen sitting upon the seven-headed  and ten-horned monster, and upon her forehead is written, Mystery, Babylon the Great. With this woman the kings of the earth are said to have committed fornication. In chapter XVIII. the fall of the great city, Babylon, is detailed at length, and it is again said that all the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her. The harlot, with Babylon stamped upon her brow, and the great city of fornication, styled Babylon, in the fourteenth and eighteenth chapters, are one and the same existence.
There is an ancient city of Babylon often mentioned in the Old Testament, but ages before John wrote it had ceased to be inhabited, and the only dwellers among its lonely ruins were howling wild beasts and hissing serpents. It has never been rebuilt to this day and has passed away forever. John refers, therefore, not to old Babylon, but to some power yet unseen, when the was upon the earth, that should be revealed in due time, and of which old Babylon was a symbol. Let us notice some of the features of ancient Babylon:
1. On that site took place the confusion of tongues which divided those who before had been of one speech and one family, into various tribes and schisms at variance with each other and of various tongues. The name Babylon, a  memorial of this event, means confusion, and is derived from Babel.
2. Old Babylon persecuted the people of God, and destroyed the temple of God in Jerusalem.
3. It carried the people of God into captivity.
4. It was a mighty, resistless, universal empire.
The antitype, the spiritual Babylon, must correspond. There is a power that exhibits all these characteristics. By apostasy from the truth it originated the schism which has divided the family of God into sects and parties which speak a different spiritual language. It has carried the Church into a long captivity by binding upon it the thraldom of superstition. It has been a constant persecutor of the saints, and has enjoyed an almost universal dominion. That power is the woman that sits upon the seven-headed beast, the seven-hilled city, the false woman, symbolical of a false Church, the great apostate spiritual dominion of ROME.
This passage shows the means by which this dominion shall be overthrown. It will be done by a pure and holy Church, filled with missionary zeal. It is the preaching of the ancient gospel which shall bring Rome to destruction. When this shall be done is not revealed, but I am led to cherish the idea that it is near at hand. The Church is undoubtedly becoming  purer. Let him who doubts it contrast the Church of a century ago with the Church of to-day. This reviving Church is preaching the gospel with renewed fervor. It appears as though we were on the eve of a great missionary age. Missionaries dare the dangers of savage lands, pierce the remotest jungles of Africa, knock at the gates of China and Japan, and are traversing every Catholic land. The purer faith preached by Luther, Calvin, Wiclif, Huss, and others, has already shorn Rome of half her power, and to-day the bells of Protestant churches ring out the call to another worship within the walls of the Eternal City. Let the Bride of Christ clothe herself in the white robes of purity; let a true and faithful Church sound forth the Gospel of Life with power, then the mighty fabric of Roman superstition will give way; the, beast will receive a mortal wound that will never be healed, and the impenitent votaries of the beast, those who receive his mark in the forehead and the hand, shall meet the merited doom of their sins. Those who have mocked God shall drink of the wine of his wrath, poured without mixture into the cup of his indignation, and their ultimate fate shall be a part in that dread abode from whence the smoke of their torment shall ascend for ever and ever. 
"Here is the (reward of the) patience of the saints. Here (is the day of triumph) for those who keep the commandments of God, and of the faith of Jesus Christ."
After describing this overthrow of the great enemy of the true Church, the apostle sweeps on over the coming ages, over the millennial period described elsewhere in Revelation, and draws the same vivid picture of the end of time presented by the Savior in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew. A voice is heard to pronounce a blessing upon the dead who have died in the Lord, and then he beholds the coming of the Son of Man, the beginning of the end, the glorious but awful event that shall usher in the day when the shall judge the world.
"And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped."--14:14-16.
This personal coming of Christ, to close the dispensation begun at the Cross, is a doctrine most emphatically and fully taught in the New Testament. Some of the incidents of his coming have been described by the Savior himself. He says that the Son of man shall be seen  coming upon the clouds of heaven (Matt. 24:30). John here sees the Son of man sitting upon a white cloud. The Savior says that his coming shall be with great power and glory. John now sees upon the head of the Son of man a golden crown. The Savior says (Matt. 24:30) that he will send his angels to gather the elect. John hears in angel bid him who sat upon the cloud, to reap the earth, for its harvest was ripe. There is gathered first the ripened harvest of the elect of God. It is an angel that came out of the temple of God as a messenger of God, carrying to the Son the Father's command to gather the elect from the four corners of the earth. Then a longing, waiting Church, "loving the appearing of the Son of man," shall first be gathered into the heavenly garner. The ripe sheaves are gathered, "the earth is reaped," and the harvest of souls is ended forever. But those who are upon the earth "shall not prevent them that are asleep." At the voice of the archangel the dead shall wake, from their long sleep in the embrace of earth. Death shall be swallowed up in victory. "Blessed henceforth forever are the dead who died in the Lord. Yea, saith the Spirit, they do rest from their labors and their works do follow them."
"And another angel came out of the temple which is in  heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs."--14:17-20.
Bright is the sunrise of the eternal morning that has dawned upon the saints of all ages. But dark is the night that settles down forever on the enemies of God and the Lamb. Long have they defied his reign. with impunity, but the great day of accounts has now come. The righteous, the salt of the earth, have been gathered; the wicked nations that remain are vessels of wrath, fit for destruction. Another angel comes forth with a sickle in his hand. Christ was the great reaper of the righteous harvest. They that are Christ's are gathered by him at his coming, but the wicked are gathered by another, here presented as an angel reaper.
This angel, one that has power over fire, comes forth from the altar where fire was kept burning. Fire is an emblem of punishment, of destruction. He bids the angel who holds the sickle to begin his work, "to put forth his  sickle and cut off the clusters of the vine of the earth, for they are ripe." Grapes are chosen as a symbol of the wicked because of their harmony with the figure that describes the fate of the wicked. They were cast into the wine-press, then trodden under foot, and from the bruised and bleeding mass ran red juice like blood. John now sees the great wine-press of the wrath of God, without the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, filled with the clusters from the vine of the earth and then trodden. Blood flows, and a mighty lake is formed as deep as the bridle of the horses, 1600 furlongs across, of the blood of the trodden.
Why these dimensions are chosen I cannot tell. Some have said that 1600 furlongs is the width of Italy, others that it is the length of Palestine. I suppose that, these scenes symbolize a mighty final destruction of the hosts of wickedness. When the final day comes, they shall be trodden in the great wine-press of the wrath of God, and the startling imagery drawn from the blood of the crushed grapes, portrays in vivid colors the extent of their fearful doom.
THE SEVEN LAST PLAGUES.
"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."--15:1.
In chapter XIV. the apostle has given a swift  summary of the events to the end of the world. Among these he has announced the fall of the great city Babylon, the source of persecution, the stronghold of sin. He has entered into no details concerning the events connected with its fall, save to show that the revival of true religion and the proclamation of the gospel had gradually sapped its foundations. Beginning with the fifteenth chapter the prophet enters upon a series of pictures that portray the secondary causes which co-operate with the power of the gospel, and he leads us on until the dragon, beast and false prophet are overwhelmed in the battle of Armageddon. The fourteenth chapter gives a summary of future events; the fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth chapters present the same events in detail.
These chapters are all connected with the fall of spiritual Babylon, and open with these words: "I saw another great sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues." The seven seals carry us to the triumph of Christianity over Paganism. The seven trumpets lead us onward to the overthrow of the western Roman Empire by the Goths, Vandals and Huns, and the ruin of the Eastern Empire by the Saracens and Turks. The last trumpet of the seven reaches to the  close of secular history with the trump of the Archangel. The seven vials also give the history of an epoch, and, like each of the series of seven, bring us to the end of that epoch. They present the series of calamities that first weaken and then destroy the power of Papal Rome.
I do not venture an idle conjecture when I state that the seven vials are poured out in order to the destruction of the spiritual Babylon. Each one of three series of seven leads to the completion of a well-defined purpose. The seven seals have, a definite object, and lead us to the accomplishment of that object in the overthrow of Roman Paganism. The seven trumpets have a definite object, and lead us to the fulfilment of their design in the overthrow of the Roman Empire. Equally definite is the object of the seven vials,and equally certain that the last vial will accomplish the utter overthrow of that blasphemous power, which is variously described as a "city of fornication," "the great city Babylon," the scarlet adulteress, and the seven-headed and ten-horned beast. The reader will have no doubt of this if he will note the following facts:
1. Chapter XV. introduces the seven vials of wrath in immediate connection with those who have overcome the beast, his image, mark, and  the number of his name. 2. The first vial, it is recorded in the next chapter, was poured out upon the, men who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. 3. The third angel pours out a vial that brings judgments upon the murderers of the saints and prophets. 4. The fifth vial is poured out upon the throne of the beast. 5. When the sixth is poured out unclean spirits come out of the mouths of the dragon and beast, and call the kings of the earth to battle. 6. When the seventh angel pours out his vial, "Babylon the great came the into remembrance before God, to give her the cup of the wine of his fiercest wrath," and she fell to rise no more. Thus the reader will see that the end of this series of seven plagues is to destroy the great spiritual despotism which then falls forever.
Since we have ascertained the object against which these plagues are directed, we know just where to look to observe their fulfilment, and it will not be difficult to find historical events occurring successively, that correspond with the symbols as far as they relate to what is already past.
"And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire; and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they  sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints."--15:2-3.
The scene opens in heaven. The apostle beholds a multitude of joyous ones having the harps or God, and singing the song of Moses and the Lamb. We are left, in no doubt concerning the identity of these singers. They are "them in who had gotten the victory over the beast and his image, and over his mark and the number of his name." The ground of their rejoicing is also recorded. "All nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest." The mighty arm of God is to be revealed in bringing to naught the powers of evil, and especially all the great enemies over whom they had been victorious. The saints who have undergone the persecution of the beast are represented as rejoicing because the day of its judgment has come.
"Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest. And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened: And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles. And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever. And the temple was filled with smoke from the  glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled."--15:4-8.
The apostle looks again and "behold, the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven is opened." The tabernacle of the testimony was the Holy of Holies. Into it none but the High Priest entered, and he only to make intercession for the forgiveness of sins. Then the seven angels having the seven plagues, come forth. There is given to them seven golden vials full of the wrath of God. Then the temple is filled with "smoke from the glory of God and his power, so that no man can enter it till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled. Does this mean that the heavens are shut against man during this period? Does it mean that no one can enter the true Church until the plagues are poured out? So some have mistakenly maintained. The doors of the kingdom were opened on Pentecost, and will never be closed until the marriage supper of the Lamb.
The true meaning is plain. The place of intercession has just been seen. The seven wrath angels came forth. The smoke then fills the temple so that no one can approach the place of intercession. The Greek original says no one, instead of no man. It means that the Divine purpose is fixed; the wrath angels shall pour  out their vials; there is no place longer given for intercession to prevent the just judgments of God. The time of intercession has passed by, and the time for judgment has come. "No one can enter the temple" to the tabernacle of testimony, the place of intercession, to avert these judgments "until the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled."
"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."--16:1.
Out of the temple wrapped in the thick garment of eternal power and glory, a mighty voice is heard to command the seven angels to begin their work. Before we observe them as they obey the divine decree, I wish to make an observation upon the plagues.
In the time of the bondage of Israel in Egypt a series of plagues had been sent upon the oppressors. These had cursed Egypt, but proved a blessing to the people of God. Another series of plagues is now to be sent. They fall upon the oppressor of the true Israel, upon the great city which is "spiritually Sodom and Egypt," and their design is to compass the deliverance of the saints by effecting its destruction. These plagues all refer in some way to Rome. They may be fierce and terrible curses to her, but they help the world onward and are  disguised blessings. The storm that sweeps down upon a plague-stricken city is terrible, but the play of elements purifies the atmosphere and brings health to the suffering.
THE FIRST VIAL.
"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 worshiped his image."--16:2.
In order to understand what historical event is foreshadowed, it is needful for us to keep several facts in mind.
1. As I have already shown, these vials portray a series of calamitous events that befell spiritual Babylon, or papal Rome.
2. They will begin, therefore, not in the zenith of her power, but are connected in some way with the history of her decline and fall. We would hardly expect them during the 1260 years of her power and glory when the Church is hidden from the oppressor in the wilderness. It has been elsewhere shown that 1260 years have been repeatedly assigned as the period of her greatest glory and, since this is so, the first vial would not be poured out until that period had ended. I have dated, in preceding lectures, the beginning of this period in A. D. 533 when, amid the flames and blood of persecution, the Bishop of Rome was first designated by  imperial power as Lord of the whole Church. If the first vial is poured out it the end of this period we may look for it about 1793.
3. The first vial is expressly limited to those who have the mark of the beast, or the devotees of Rome. It certainly describes a calamity to the Papacy, and one of a series that culminates in its ruin. It is described as a grievous ulcer, that afflicts those who have the mark of the beast. An ulcer is not only a painful and dangerous sore, but is often malignant and foul with corruption. The term is often used to describe moral corruption, and the ulcers described may be moral or spiritual. Can we find aught in history about the end of the 1260 years of papal domination that corresponds with the symbolism? We will look in France. It was Charlemagne, the emperor of France, who bestowed the temporal power upon the popes. The ruler of France was long styled the eldest son of the Church. It was France that had perpetrated the massacre of St. Bartholomew, the dragonnades of the Cevennes, and the banishment of the Huguenots. The French nation had the mark of the beast to at least as great an extent as ally other nation.
In 1793, exactly at the close of the period of 1260 years, there breaks out in France a fearful, moral ulcer that had long been festering.  The French revolution, the uprising of enslaved masses who were maddened into fury, sent Catholic king, royal families, nobles, and priests to the guillotine by tens of thousands, impelled the nation in its madness to publicly declare itself atheistic, leavened it with skepticism, and broke the hold of Rome to such a degree that she can never more control France. The ulcer was awfully corrupt and deadly. At one time 200,000 citizens of all conditions and both sexes were in prison, and often in Paris alone, fourscore were sent to the scaffold in a day. As the result of the breaking forth of this ulcer, the mightiest Catholic nation was convulsed with civil war, every Catholic country in Europe was deluged in blood, and the papal power received a shock from which it never can recover. The first vial, the breaking forth of grievous, painful, malignant ulcers, most fitly represents the breaking out of the French revolution, points to the elevation of the foulest and most fiendish leaders of the rabble to the government of the nation, and to the scenes of madness and fury that have marked this fearful period as the Reign of Terror.
THE SECOND VIAL.
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."--16:3.
Another vial follows swiftly. Another blow  is aimed in some way at the walls of the great city Babylon. The first calamity has been upon the earth; the second is upon the ocean. The second angel pours his vial upon the sea. Then the waters become red as blood and in the great mortality that follows it seems to John as if every soul in the sea was dead. Again we ask if, in this series of calamities, there is one that smites the Catholic powers from the sea?
Under the second trumpet a great and burning mountain Cell into the sea. The Vandal power swept the Mediterranean, destroyed the Roman navy and then laid siege to the old imperial Rome. From the sea spiritual Rome, under the second vial, is weakened. The symbolism is fulfilled in the mightiest naval strife ever known.
In 1780 France and England, upon the ocean, were nearly equally matched. Along the shores of the struggling colonies of the United States sometimes the English, sometimes the French fleets, rode in triumph. At Yorktown, the superiority of the French at sea cooped Cornwallis in until Washington compelled his surrender. With 1793 begins another contest for the mastery of the seas. It continues after Napoleon sits on the imperial throne, and did not end for twenty years. France, again a  Catholic power by Napoleon's concordat with the Pope, rallies under the imperial flag with herself, Catholic Spain, Portugal and Italy, in the struggle. Protestant England and Catholic Europe strive together upon the ocean. From the Indian ocean to the Nile, the Atlantic, the North sea and the the waters are reddened with blood. The Catholic flag is dipped into the sea. The old Catholic powers, those which in the past have been the vile instruments of papal wrong, the nations whose kings have committed fornication with the great spiritual harlot, suffer the loss in this long and deadly struggle of six hundred ships of the Line, the largest war vessels that go to sea, besides thousands of ships of war of smaller size. At the close of the contest, the naval power of Catholic Europe had been swept from the ocean. Spain, the discoverer of America, once the first naval power of the world; Portugal; France, long the rival of England on the seas, did not have a ship left that dared to hoist its flag upon the open seas. The destruction was the mightiest and the most complete recorded in modern annals. The earthly powers which supported Rome had been swept from the ocean.
THE THIRD VIAL.
And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood. 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."--16:4-7.
John sees the third "vial poured upon the rivers and fountain or waters; and they become blood." This vial will symbolize another event calamitous to Rome. The seat of the disasters is described as the rivers and we may expect some historical events, connected in some way with rivers, that result in the injury of the papacy. There are two marks given which help us to locate the seat where the plague of the third vial is poured. 1. It must be a region of rivers and fountains of water. 2. It has evidently been the scene of terrible persecutions of the people of God. When the judgment is inflicted the angel of the waters exclaimed, "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." A land of persecution is to become the scene of calamities which are justly visited upon it for its sins.
If the reader will look upon the map of northern Italy he will find it crowded with rivers. The streams rush down from the Alps and haste away to the sea. This river region of Italy has  been the battle ground of nations. Here Gaul and Roman contended for the mastery of Italy; here Hannibal crushed the Roman legions in a succession of battles; here Attila the Hun, the "blazing Star," the wormwood of the rivers, laid Rome prostrate at his feet; here France and Spain wrestled for the possession of the decrepit Peninsula; here the French armies under the young General of the Directory humiliated Austria and destroyed the temporal power of Rome.
We ask first, has this country been the scene of persecutions? None more terrible, more bloody or more continued, have been known in the dark history of Rome. This very region was the home of the Albigenses. Against them the Papacy had hurled its fanatical legions from generation to generation. The blood of the Protestants of the Alps had for centuries dyed the rocks and streams with crimson. One of the mightiest services that Oliver Cromwell did for the human race, was to announce to the Pope of Rome that unless he called off his wolves from preying upon the flock of God in Piedmont, the cannon of a Puritan army should teach him mercy around the castle of St. Angelo. This river region is then a theatre of persecution.
We ask next whether this region of rivers,  this region red with the blood and hallowed by the sufferings of martyrs, was the theatre of any great historical events in this series of steps towards the destruction of the power of Rome?
Thus far there has been a connection between the plagues. The first, the French Revelation, the Reign or Terror in France, for a time destroyed and forever weakened the papal grasp upon that nation. Out of it sprang the second plague, which resulted in driving the Catholic powers from the ocean. Still springing from that same revolution there follows the descent of the French armies upon Italy, and the destruction of the spell by which Rome for more than a thousand years had held the nations.
In 1796, a General, aged 27, then comparatively unknown, led an army of 35,000 Frenchmen into Italy. Bold, unscrupulous, "with no god but ambition," he was not held back by veneration of the successor of St. Peter. On the river system of Italy, on the Rhone, the Po and its tributaries, he battled with the Austrians and their allies. It is remarkable that every one of his great conflicts were fought upon the rivers. Who has not heard of the Bridge of Lodi, the first of his great victories, fought upon the river Adda? or of the Bridge of Arcole, the scene of another triumph upon the  Adige? or of Marengo, begun with the river Bromida between the armies? Listen how history records the exploits of the young Napoleon in this campaign:
"The French crossed the Po at Piacenza on the 7th of May, and drove back Beaulieu upon the line or the Adda; the strongly fortified bridge of Lodi was carried after a severe struggle, and the enemy retreated, in the utmost confusion, upon the line of the river Mincio."--Student's France, page 581.
Again: "Marching secretly from Verona, the French descended the Adige (river) as far as Ronco. There they crossed the Adige, and on Nov. 14th made it furious attack upon the village and bridge (over the Adige) of Arcole."--Ibid. page 583.
Again: "From the theater of their triumphs upon the Adige and Mincio (rivers), Bonaparte led his armies into the territories of the Pope, against whom the Directory had resolved to proceed to extremities."--Page 584.
Again: "Bonaparte took up a position with his whole force upon the great plain of Marengo, being separated by the river Bromida from the enemy's lines."--Page 598.
Again: "A convention was signed the day after the battle by which the Austrians agreed to retire beyond the river Mincio."--Page 598.
Thus it becomes apparent that the scene of ancient persecution, the region of rivers, again becomes the theater of a mighty struggle, in which the rivers, curiously the scene of every conflict, are reddened with blood. We have yet to ask whether these events were disastrous to the Papacy. I will briefly give the results of the struggle. In 1796 Bonaparte entered Italy. The next year his armies take the city of  Rome and proclaim an Italian Republic. Previously an armistice had been granted, for which the Pope paid 21,000,000 francs and gave up a hundred masterpieces or art to be carried to Paris. In 1798 Pope Plus VI. was carried as a prisoner into to die. His successor was not elected in Rome, which was still in the hands of the spoiler, but in Venice. Other results that follow from this invasion will be given under the fourth vial.
Ah! how triumphantly the long persecuted Waldenses, as they saw the Pope carried a prisoner into exile, must have joined in the voice from behind the altar: "Yes, O Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments!"
THE FOURTH VIAL.
"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."
We have now reached the fourth vial of the wrath of God. It will be another of a series of calamities that befall the Papal power. We may expect it to follow closely those already described.
The symbol employed to represent the fourth calamity is the sun. I have stated elsewhere in these chapters that the sun is symbolical of  a ruler or king, Any one who becomes a great light and occupies a pre-eminent position, may be indicated by this symbol. The Savior is described as the Sun of Righteousness. In the dream of Joseph, his father Jacob, the patriarchal ruler, is represented by the sun. Among orientals it is the well known symbol of a king or ruler. The fourth vial is poured upon this sun, and power is given it to scorch men with fire. Fire, the instrument of bitter pain, is a symbol of suffering. It is therefore evident that the ruler, symbolized by the sun, shall be the means of inflicting great suffering upon men. As we have found that these calamities are directed against the Papacy, it would follow that the sufferers are those who have received the mark of the beast. Though these adherents of Rome are in great anguish from the calamities that befall them, still they do not repent of their crimes. Like ancient Egypt under the plagues, Rome will still persist in her wicked deeds, still refuses to liberate the people from her spiritual slavery.
We have now ascertained about what the symbolism must mean. Let us next inquire whether history confirms the interpretation by events which correspond to the prophecy.
In 1801 a scorching sun had arisen in the political horizon of the old world. The victor  or Lodi and Marengo, the conqueror of Italy, had become the ruler or the French nation. At first he ruled under the old Roman title of Consul. A few years later he was crowned as Emperor of the French. No such scorching sun had arisen in the political horizon for more than a thousand years, and I do not know that the world has ever seen so great a scourge of man. From 1796 to 1815 he was engaged in war without a moment's cessation. He converted Europe into a great camp, and every nation was blackened and torn with wars. From Spain to Moscow, from Egypt to Holland, the march of his armies left behind a track or blood. In his wars it is estimated that 2,000,000 men perished by the sword, and none can tell of the want and misery and despair that brooded over the bleeding and desolated lands that were tracked by his armies. There was hardly a home in Europe that did not suffer; hardly one that was not in mourning for slain fathers, brothers and sons, or for wives and daughters who had met a fate worse than death.
This scorching sun, which parched, burnt and blackened the earth, exerted a most baleful influence on the power of the Papacy. In 1796 Bonaparte entered Italy; in 1797 his armies entered the Papal dominions, and a peace  was made by which the Pope was not only shorn of half his provinces, but was compelled to buy off the invader by the payment of large sums of money. The next year the French armies entered Rome, tore the Pope from the Vatican, sent him a prisoner to France to die, and robbed Rome Of its hoarded wealth. It was despoiled of its treasures of art, which were sent to Paris as legitimate spoils of war. The historian Allison speaks as follows of this spoliation in his history of Europe. Vol. 1, page 546:
"But long before the Pope had sunk under the persecution of his oppressors, Rome had experienced the bitter fruits of Republican fraternization. Immediately after the entry of the French troops commenced the regular and systematic pillage of the city. Not only the churches and the convents but the palaces of the cardinals and of the nobility were laid waste. The agents of the Directory, insatiable in the pursuit of plunder, and merciless in the means of exacting it, ransacked every quarter within its walls, seized the most valuable works of art, and stripped the Eternal City of those treasures which had survived the Gothic fire and the rapacious hands of the Spanish soldiers. The bloodshed was much less, but the spoil collected incomparably greater than at the disastrous sack which followed the death of the Constable Bourbon. Almost all the great works of art which have since that time been collected throughout Europe, were then scattered abroad. The spoliation exceeded all that the Goths or Vandals had effected. Not only the palaces of the Vatican, and the Monte Cavallo, and the chief nobility of Rome, but those of Castel Gandolfo, on the margin of the Alban lake, of Terracina, the Villa Albani, and others in the environs of Rome, were plundered of every  article of value which they possessed. The whole sacerdotal habits of the Pope and cardinals were burned, in order to collect from the flames the gold with which they were adorned. The Vatican was stripped to its naked walls; the immortal frescoes of Raphael and Michael Angelo remained in solitary beauty amid the general desolation. A contribution of four millions in money, two millions in provisions, and three thousand horses, was imposed on a city already exhausted by the enormous exactions it had previously undergone. Under the direction of the infamous commissary Hallar, the domestic library, museum, furniture, jewels, and even the private clothes of the Pope, were sold. Nor did the palaces of the Roman nobility escape devastation. The noble galleries of the Cardinal Braschi, and the Cardinal York, the last relic of the Stuart line, underwent the same fate. Others, as those of the Chigi, Borghese, and Doria palaces, were rescued from destruction only by enormous ransoms. Everything of value that the Tolentino had left in Rome became the prey of Republican cupidity, and the very name of freedom soon became odious, from the sordid and infamous crimes which were committed in its name.
"Nor were the exactions of the French confined to the plunder of palaces and churches. Eight cardinals were arrested and sent to Civita Castellana, while enormous contributions were levied on the papal territory, and brought home the bitterness of conquest to every poor man's door. At the same time, the ample territorial possessions of the church and the monasteries were confiscated, and declared national property; a measure which, by drying up at once the whole resources of the affluent, classes, precipitated into the extreme of misery the numerous poor who were maintained by their expenditure or fed by their bounty. All the respectable citizens and clergy were in fetters; and a base and despicable faction alone, among whom, to their disgrace be it told, were found fourteen cardinals, followed in the train of the oppressors; and at a public festival, returned thanks to God for the miseries they had brought upon their country."
The imprisoned Pope died in captivity. The next Pope was elected in 1799, not in Rome,  which was held by French soldiers, but in Venice. In 1800 he was permitted to return to his desolated capital as the dependent of France. In 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte determined to place upon his head the old imperial crown as emperor of the Romans, and the Pope was compelled to journey by land to Paris in order to gratify his master by serving in the ceremonial. Four years later Plus VII. was dragged from his palace, as his predecessor had been, and sent a prisoner into France. His States of the Church were confiscated. The grant made by Charlemagne near 1200 years before was resumed, and until the fall of Napoleon, the Pope was without temporal possessions. The imprisoned hierarch was not only shorn of his worldly estates, but was compelled to sign a compact by which he gave up the power of appointing bishops in the French empire to Napoleon. It was only when the power of Napoleon was broken that he was permitted to return to his pillaged city, to reascend a throne and to grasp a broken sceptre.
Napoleon had broken the spell of Rome. He taught the world that the power of the Popes might be successfully dared. The terror of Papal bulls, anathemas and interdicts, was then dispelled forever. Since his day the Pope has ceased to be the most powerful factor in the  history of nations. But, notwithstanding these scourgings, the Papacy has not abated its exorbitant and blasphemous pretensions. They have not repented of their sins.
THE FIFTH 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."--16:10-11.
The next angel pours out his vial upon the seat or throne of the beast, and his kingdom is filled with darkness. They gnaw their tongues in pain, and revile God for their sufferings. They repent not of their wicked deeds. There can be no doubt concerning what is meant by the throne of the beast. The scene of the calamities of the fifth vial will be Italy and Rome. That has been the seat of the beast for 1300 years. In the very seat of his power the beast shall receive a blow that will fill his kingdom with darkness, and those who worship him with anguish. Something shall occur that shall cause great dismay and anguish to the Roman priesthood.
It would be well for the reader to note the fact that, when the disasters came upon the Papacy through the rule of Napoleon, the people of Italy were sufferers also. That country  was still loyal to the Pope. He was driven forth, not by the consent of the Italian people, but by foreign power. Rome remained a Catholic city, under the dominion of priestcraft, devoted to the Pope. But within the present generation a change has come. The Italians have shaken off the yoke that had been borne for over 1200 years. The light has penetrated the thick darkness of Rome itself.
In the year 1848 the people of Rome arose in rebellion to the Papal authority and drove Pius IX. into exile. A few months later he was restored by a French army. Nor did he dare remain when restored, save under the protection of French bayonets. With a French garrison he continued to rule his circumscribed territory until 1870. In that year France was compelled to withdraw her soldiers to defend her soil from German invasion. That was the opportunity of Italy. The Papal army was scattered by the soldiers of Victor Emmanuel; the Pope shut himself in the Vatican, and Rome became the capital of new Italy. The temporal power of the Pope is gone forever.
But this is not all that this vial symbolizes. The Italian government has seized upon the overgrown possessions of the church. The lands it claimed have been confiscated, monasteries and convents have been closed, and  universal religious toleration declared. The days of Papal persecution have forever departed. The free church of Italy has been organized by the long persecuted Waldenses, and Protestant missionaries preach in every important city.
This is what has been done. This is how the vial has been poured out on the throne of the beast, It remains to inquire how these reverses have been received by the devotees of Rome.
The lately deceased Pope was declared by a Catholic General Council, sitting in Rome, to be infallible. He then shut himself up in the Vatican and styled himself a prisoner. He had previously issued a syllabus claiming a right to rule the nations of the earth. He fulminated anathemas against those who opposed him, as bitter, as hostile, as arrogant, as those of Pope Hildebrand. He and his supporters have metaphorically gnawed their tongues in anguish. When Cavour, the great Italian statesman, died, the priests were forbidden to attend the last moments of the dying patriot. If any one wishes to know the rage felt by all devout Catholics over the scenes I have depicted, let him engage in conversation with any devotee of Rome.
By these events none can doubt that the power of the Papacy is much weakened. She can no longer resort to violence as a means of  suppressing rebellion against her spiritual despotism. A time has come when in Italy and Rome Protestant missionaries may raise the cry to the citizens of Babylon, "Come out of her, my people," and there is no power that will hinder their coming.
This brings us to
THE SIXTH VIAL.
"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."-16:12.
The sixth vial is poured out upon the river Euphrates, and its waters were dried up that the way of the kings of the East might be prepared. If the reader will turn back to chapter vii. he will find that the sixth angel there is also connected with the river Euphrates. When his trumpet is blown the command is given to loose the four angels that are bound by the river Euphrates. We have found that these angels and the accompanying symbolism evidently describe the Turkish invasion of the eastern Roman empire.
As there were four angels, so there were four Turkish kingdoms. They were restrained (or bound) by the Euphrates, and prevented from crossing it for generations. They were an army of horsemen. They employed in their wars the smoke and fire and brimstone of  gunpowder, unused before. By these and other marks the power of the Euphrates is surely identified as the Turkish empire. I have elsewhere described its capture of Constantinople. At that time it was the mightiest empire of the world. It held under its sway all of northern Africa, all of western Asia, including Judea, and all of southeastern Europe, embracing parts of Hungary, Poland and Russia. Its armies repeatedly marched into Germany; Vienna was besieged by the Turkish host, and at one time it was feared that all Europe would be subjected to its sway.
In chapter vii. it is the sixth trumpet angel that unlooses the angels bound by the river Euphrates. Here the sixth angel pours his vial upon the river Euphrates. Evidently the power affected by the sixth angel and described by the river Euphrates in both cases, is the same in chapter vii. and in the present chapter. Prophecy has described the rise of the Turkish power. It also foreshadows the fall of this mighty scourge of the nations. The cruel and sensual invader, who has desolated the Holy Land and plowed with destruction regions in which flourishing churches were founded by the apostles, is destined to fall. A vial shall be poured out upon it and it shall be dried up. But will its fall be a calamity to Rome? We  may let the Papacy determine that. Rome does not love the Turks, but she loves the followers of the prophet much better than she loves Protestant or Greek schismatics. If Turkey should fall before a Protestant power, or before Russia, the head of the Greek communion, the Papacy would regard it as greatly to be deplored. In the recent war between Russia and Turkey the Papal sympathies were all in behalf of the Crescent.
I wish to ask the reader to observe the effects of pouring out the vial. The Euphrates is dried up. This symbolism does not indicate a sudden destruction but a gradual decay. Earthquakes, and falling cities and lands, or mountains swallowed up, are symbols of sudden destruction, but a drying up indicates an extinction by slow degrees. This is just what is taking place in the case of Turkey. I do not know when her end will come, whether soon, or far in the future; but her end will come, and I do know that for more than a hundred years the foundations of her power have been slowly drying up. Three hundred years ago she was the mightiest power in the world, and she has not fallen from that high position to her present weakness at a bound. We can trace the steps downward.
In 1774, one hundred and seven years ago,  she received her first great reverse in a war with Russia, and was shorn of her provinces north of the Black Sea. In 1816, Servia, after a long contest for liberty, wrested self-government from the Sultan and has since only given a nominal allegiance to the Turks. In 1820 Greece revolted.
In 1823 the Turkish naval power was destroyed by England, France and Russia at the battle of Navarino, and in 1829 the independence of Greece was completely established. In 1849 Mehemet Ali revolted in Egypt, invaded Syria, marched on Constantinople, and was only restrained by the powers of Europe. Since that time Egypt has been practically independent. In 1849, Roumania also, then called Moldavia, demanded self-government and is now independent under the King of Roumania. Thus province after province has been lopped off, and the process still goes on. In 1876 Herzeovina revolted, and Montenegro raised its warlike standard. In 1877 the Russians intervened, and the war that followed resulted in the loss of the greater part of the Turkish possessions in Europe, as well as Cyprus and a part of Armenia. At this date the Turkish empire seems on the very verge of dissolution. To the human eye it appears as though the very foundations of its life and vigor were "dried up." 
The apostle says that the Euphrates shall be dried up, that the way of the kings of the East may be prepared. In the infancy of the Christ, the wise men of the East, also called kings in the Psalms, came to offer homage to the kingly child. The prophecy implies that when this obstacle is removed, the way of the inhabitants shall be opened. There can be no doubt but that the fall of the Turkish power would give a mighty impetus to the evangelization of the world. All western Asia is Mahometan Turkey is the head of the Mahometan faith, and its fall would be looked upon as the doom of the religion of the Prophet. It has long been death for the disciple of Mahomet to forsake his religion, but when the Euphrates is finally dried up, the nations from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates, Tigris and Indus, will seek for a new religion. The sword established the religion of the False Prophet. When it loses the dominion of the sword, its votaries will demand another faith.
The next great event in prophetic history after the drying of the Euphrates, is the battle of Armageddon. We have found that the sixth and seventh vials represent events that have occurred, or are occurring, in our day. The great calamity to the papacy, symbolized by the vial poured upon the throne of the beast,  has fallen upon Rome since 1870. The drying up of the Euphrates is still going on.
Before the final destruction of the Mahometan power it is destined to secure powerful allies, which will aid it in its last struggle, and go down with it when that struggle is ended, in a final and utter destruction. This conflict is described as follows:
"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 that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together in a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon."--16:13-16.
The reader will observe that, before the seventh vial is poured out, there is an alliance of three powers described as the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. From their mouths came three unclean spirits, like frogs, who go forth to the kings of the earth, rally their forces under the banners of the three allied powers, and march them to the battle of the great day of the Almighty. And the hosts join battle in a place called in the Hebrew tongue,
I wish the reader to understand that in  venturing upon this portion of Revelation, I do so as one who goes through a dim, mysterious and untraveled country. Thus far I have been writing of the past, and I have asked my reader to tread with me the solid ground of history. I have pointed him first to the sublime panorama of the future described, as an eye witness, by the prophet of Patmos. I have then turned to history and have shown the march of events corresponding to, and in precise order of the Apocalyptic symbols. But in this application we have now reached the year 1881. The symbolism next proceeds to map out what is future to us as well as what was future to John eighteen centuries ago. The gathering of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, belongs to the future. It is unfulfilled prophecy, and of the meaning of unfulfilled prophecy we should always speak with modesty. The blunders made by so many learned men in trying to teach the world what prophecy of events yet future should mean, ought to admonish the interpreter to lay aside all dogmatism before he begins his work.
Yet, in the interpretation of this passage we are furnished with solid ground where we can place our feet. The dragon and the beast are symbols that have already been identified. All Protestant commentators are agreed that the  dragon is a symbol of old, persecuting, imperial Rome, and that the beast represents the no less tyrannical and persecuting power of Papal Rome.
Here a difficulty arises concerning one of these powers. Papal Rome still exists, but imperial Rome, once the mistress of the world, is gone forever. How then can the dragon appear in a conflict that is yet future? It cannot appear as imperial Rome, but it may appear as some great despotic power of kindred character, representing its work and spirit. We may, perhaps, receive some assistance by comparing the passage before us with the thirty-eighth and thirty-ninth chapters of Ezekiel. These chapters are understood by President Milligan, and other judicious commentators, to describe the gathering of the hosts to the battle of Armageddon. We quote: "Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief Prince, of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him." Ezekiel 38:2. Magog was one of the seven sons of Japhet. His sons were Gomer, Magog, Maadai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. Josephus says that Magog founded the "Magogae, whom the Greeks call Scythians." The people called Scythians anciently inhabited southern Russia. We are justified, then, in pronouncing that country the  "land of Magog." Ezekiel, in the passage quoted, not only names the land of Magog, but "the chief prince of Meshech." Meshech we have named already is the sixth son of Japhet. There can be little doubt but that the name survives in Russia. Muscovy is the ancient name of Russia, and the word is probably a corruption of Meshech, and the other Russian terms, Moscow, Moskwa, Mesoc and Mosc, are all variations of the same word. This resemblance is rendered still more striking by a correct translation of the Septuagint version. It there reads: "The prince of Roos and Meshech and Tubal."
We have then found that the land of Magog was Scythia or Russia; that the prince of Roos, or Russia, is named; that Meshech corresponds with Moscow and Muscovy, and the remaining name, Tubal, or Tobol, as it is in the Septuagint, is also a Russian name. The capital of Asiatic Russia is Tobolsk. Tobol is its chief river.
I think that these facts clearly show that Ezekiel marks Russia as one of the powers destined to take part in the battle of Armageddon. In despotic form. of government, in extent of dominions, in ambition, in military power, it more fitly represents imperial Rome than any other modern State, and since it is definitely  described by Ezekiel, we are justified in regarding it as the revived imperial despotism symbolized by the dragon.
Two of the powers that enter into the conflict can now be conjectured, viz: Russia, the great modern secular despotism, and the spiritual despotism of Rome, symbolized by the beast. These, are not at present in union, but they will unite. They each have a system of Episcopacy, worship images, invoke saints, and nourish monasticism. They have so much in common religiously that it will not be impossible to make an alliance in the future.
Papal Rome in the zenith of her power would have disdained an alliance with the eastern church, but in the humiliation brought upon her by the pouring out of the vials she will stretch out her hands for help. In the reign of Justinian when the Pope first received the title of Lord of the Church, the Greek and Latin churches were united under his sceptre and will be again united at their fall.
The third power described as the false prophet, remains to be identified. The reader will note two facts: 1. The sixth vial treats of the fall of the Turkish power. We have not yet passed to the seventh vial. The Sultan is the  recognized "commander of the Faithful;" the head of Islam. The false prophet represents the Mahometan power; possibly not under the Sultan, but still existing. It is the religion of "The Prophet," as his disciples term Mahomet; of the false prophet, as the rest or the world suppose. 2. By turning to Ezekiel we find that it is stated that Persia, Ethiopia and Lybia with them, are joined in the conflict. These are the very countries that are peopled by Mahometans.
"The power of the Euphrates" will probably be dried up, and before this conflict, but there will be a marshaling of the followers of the false prophet from Persia, Ethiopia, Lybia and other countries. Let the reader note the significance of the historical fact that the Mahometan lands are fast passing under the dominion of Russia. Already central Asia to the borders of China acknowledges the Czar, and Turkey is suppliant at his feet. It seems, then, to be already foreshadowed that after the drying up of the Euphrates there will be a grand alliance of secular despotism led by Russia, spiritual despotism embodied in Papal Rome, and false religion as exemplified in Mahometanism. Their aim will be to check the progress of political and religious freedom and of the gospel of Christ. The final gathering of the  hosts will be it Armageddon, where the last conflict in which the beast and false prophet shall ever engage, will be fought. It will not be the world's last battle. There remains yet another which closes the scenes and struggles of time, but the great victory of Armageddon will secure the peace of earth for a thousand years, and usher in the glories of the Millennium.
I have endeavored to identify the powers which shall contend upon the one side in the battle of Armageddon. Of two of these there can be no doubt. The beast is ever a symbol of the Papal power. The connection, as well as the name indicates that the false prophet represents Mahometanism. The dragon represents, not old, imperial Rome, but the spirit of imperial Rome revived in some modern power, or powers. I have urged that Russia is that power. It may be that it is an alliance of despotic powers under the leadership of Russia. A passage to which I ask the reader's attention suggests that this is probable.
In chapter 13:16, the beast, false prophet and dragon are named. In chapter 19:19-20, there is another description of the same conflict. There John saw the beast and the false prophet as before, but instead of the dragon he names the kings of the earth. These would represent  the imperial despotism of ancient Rome. The language would suggest an alliance of despotic rulers. The dragon represents the spirit of them all. What has been written renders it probable that Russia will exercise a preponderance.
The sacred writer saw that, they were gathered to a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
If this is a literal conflict of arms the place where it will take place is probably indicated. Possibly the conflict will be moral and spiritual, but if not, it is of interest to know where this great final conflict will be fought. It is at a place. The place would therefore probably be found where the Hebrew tongue was spoken, and where the Jews were wont to bestow Hebrew names upon places. The fanciful Baldwin has chosen the United States as the theatre of this conflict, a supposition about as probable as many of the prophetic theories of which he is the advocate. The place named is not only Hebrew, but is a famous spot in Hebrew history. Armageddon means simply the Hill Megiddo. Upon the hill Megiddo was fought the battle in which King Josiah was slain. It was in the midst of the battle-ground of Israel. The plain of Esdraelon, the depression between Judea and Galilee, was tracked with armies.  Philistines, Midianites, Syrians, Assyrians, and Egyptians contended with each other and with Israel. Upon this plain arose the hill of Megiddo. It may be that the last conflict before the fall of Babylon and the ushering in of the Millennium will be upon this ancient battleground. If Ezekiel 37:8-17 is understood literally it signifies that Palestine shall be the theatre of his struggle, but of all these passages I am inclined to believe that they have a spiritual signification. The Israel of Ezekiel represents the church, the true Israel. Armageddon, the battle-ground of Israel, is used metaphorically to describe the great conflict of the Israel of God.
But against whom are these wicked powers arrayed? Rev. 19:11-16 describes him. Christ is the leader. The conflict is with the true church. The word of God is the instrument of offense. Christ rides upon the white horse of triumph and in righteousness doth he judge and make war. The splendid description of chapter 19th, is a fuller presentation of chapter 16:14, where the conflict is described as the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
As this conflict was waged the seventh angel pours out
THE SEVENTH VIAL.
"And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and  there came a great voice out of the temple or heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, 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."--16:17-19.
I have shown that these vials each represent calamities that befall the Papal power and follow in succession. The number seven, is the perfect number. The seventh vial which completes the perfect number must be the grand consummation of the catastrophes of Rome. It is in harmony with the fitness of things that it should bring her utter destruction. Hence it is followed by commotion and mighty upheaval of the powers of the earth, such as had never before been known. The results are presented in detail. We learn, 1. That the great city, Babylon, fell. It was broken into fragments. Chapter 16:19. It fell with violence, as a millstone cast into the sea and disappeared forever. Chapter 17:21. The beast, the symbol of the Romish power, was taken and cast alive into the lake of fire, from whence there is no return to trouble the nations. Chapter 19:20. 2. The false prophet which shared the alliance of the beast (chapter 16:13) also shares its fate. Chapter 19:20. The dragon, "the kings of the earth,"  gathered to make war against him who sat on the horse, were also discomfited. The cities of the nations fell. Chapter 16:19. Of three powers allied in wickedness two are utterly destroyed. They are consigned to the eternal prison-house where doors open to receive, but from whence none come forth. They disappear forever. Rome and Mahomet disappear from history. These anti-Christian powers cannot be reformed. It is folly to think of recalling an apostate church to the purity of the gospel. It waxes worse and worse. Its end is destruction. Every false church and every false religion, incapable of reformation, must be destroyed.
The third power, the dragon, is not at this period cast into the lake of fire. His time has not, yet come. He represents a spirit that assumes various forms. At one time he is imperial Rome; later he has assumed the form of the secular dominion of the Papacy; later still he represents Russia and the allied despotisms of the earth. He is ever Satan, the adversary, the old serpent, the devil, but to accomplish his work assumes Protean forms. At the end of this great conflict, his power is broken. He has not passed out of existence forever, but is bound. For a long period he ceases to exercise power upon the earth, and there is ushered in  after the fall of the beast and false prophet the golden age of our race, the glorious period sung by ancient prophets, the MILLENNIUM.
THE GREAT HARLOT.
The sixteenth chapter presents the series of historical events that lead to the overthrow of spiritual Babylon. Our interpretation of these has been for the most part determined by the facts of history which have already transpired. The sixth vial brings to the present date. Concerning what follows the seventh vial I speak with diffidence, as it is yet future, but of this we can be certain, that it foreshadows the final overthrow of the anti-Christian powers. In chapters XVII., XVIII. and XIX., the downfall of these powers, the overthrow of Rome, the triumph of the Word of God, and the victory of Armageddon, are described with greater detail. The limits to which I am confined will only permit me to outline these chapters. Chap. 17:1-6 describes spiritual Rome under the figure of a great harlot. The true Church is described throughout Revelation as a pure woman, the Bride of Christ; the false church as a harlot. That this harlot refers to the same wicked power already described as Babylon is evident from the words on her forehead.
This woman sat on a scarlet beast and was  clothed in purple and scarlet. Scarlet is the color worn by cardinals and Pope. Purple indicates not only luxury but royal power. The woman was drunk with the blood of the saints, which is true of Rome.
The beast has, throughout indicated the secular power that upheld the church. This was first, old imperial Rome. The beast had seven heads. I have shown that there are seven hills on which Rome sat, and I have indicated (p. 250) that this refers to seven forms of government that Rome had during her existence. There were ten horns. The horn is a symbol of power, and often is used for a kingdom in prophetic language. See Dan. 7:24. This, then, implies ten powers which sprang out of Rome and supported the false church. These are given by Sir Isaac Newton, as follows: 1. Kingdom of the Vandals in Spain and Africa; 2. Kingdom of the Visigoths; 3. Kingdom of the Suevi in Spain; 4. Kingdom of the Alans in France; 5. Kingdom of the Burgundians; 6. Kingdom of the Franks; 7. Kingdom of the Britons; 8. Kingdom of the Huns; 9. Kingdom of the Lombards; 10. Kingdom of Ravenna. The Roman empire was broken up into these kingdoms, and they were all supporters of the Papacy. These ten kings or kingdoms did not exist in the time of John, but should afterwards receive  authority and do the will of the beast (verses 12-15). At a later period still, the ten horns (verse 16) shall hate and desolate the harlot. We have seen this fulfilled in the fact that the kingdoms that have been developed from these have in the last three centuries either become Protestant, or have broken with Roman rule. The historical facts given under the seven vials show how they have waged war on Rome.
In chapter XVIII. and chapter XIX:1-10, a vivid description of the great judgment is given. The mourning of one class and the triumph of the saints are each painted in vivid colors. The latter portion of the nineteenth chapter again describes the battle of Armageddon, which has already been alluded to under the sixth vial in chapter 16:12-16.
After the battle of Armageddon comes the Millennium. "The kingdoms of the earth shall become the kingdoms of the Lord and his Christ." Men may scoffingly say, "Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation." "But the Lord is not slack concerning his promises." The glorious day when righteousness and the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth will certainly come. 
[Table of Contents]|
B. W. Johnson|
Vision of the Ages (1881)