« ПретходнаНастави »
done by the besiegers of Babylon, before her actual destruction: as this sixth vial is the last vial of God's wrath but one, on the mystical Babylon; and the effect of it, the drying up the channel of the river Euphrates, is the last thing done against it, before its actual destruction by the seventh vial, and opens the way for those that fight in a spiritual war against it, speedily to bring on its ruin.
Hence I think it may without dispute be determined, that by the river Euphrates in the prophecy of this vial, is meant something appertaining or relating to the mystical Babylon, or the Antichristian church and kingdom, that serves that, or is a benefit to it, in a way answerable to that in which the river Euphrates served old Babylon, and the removal of which will in like manner prepare the way for her enemies to destroy her. And therefore what we have to do in the first place, in order to find out what is intended by the river Euphrates, in this prophecy, is to consider how the literal Euphrates served old Babylon. And it may be noted, that Euphrates was of remarkable benefit to that city in two respects: it served the city as a supply; it was let through the midst of the city by an artificial canal, and ran through the midst of the palace of the king of Babylon; that part of his palace called the old palace, standing on one side, and the other part called the new palace, on the other; with communications from one part to another, above the waters, by a bridge, and under the waters, by a vaulted or arched passage; that the city, and especially the palace, might have the convenience of its waters, and be plentifully supplied with water. And another way that the waters of Euphrates served Babylon, was as an impediment and obstacle in the way of its enemies, to hinder their access to it to destroy it. For there was a vast moat round the city, without the walls, of prodigious width and depth, filled with the water of the river, to hinder the access of her besiegers: and at each end of the city, the river served instead of walls. And therefore when Cyrus had dried up the river, the moat was emptied, and the channel of the river under the walls left dry; and so his way was prepared.
And therefore it is natural to suppose, that by drying up the waters of the river Euphrates, in the prophecies of the destruction of the new Babylon, to prepare the way of her enemies, is meant the drying up her incomes and supplies; and the removal of those things that hitherto have been the chief obsta cles in the way of those that in this book are represented as at war with her and seeking her destruction, spoken of Rev. xix. 11, to the end, and chap. xii. 7, that have hindered their progress and success, or that have been the chief impediments in the way of the Protestant religion. The first thing is the drying the streams of the wealth of the new Babylon, the temporal supplies, revenues and vast incomes of the Romish church, and riches of the Popish dominions. Waters in Scripture language very often signify provision and supplies, both temporal and spiritual; as in Prov. ix. 17, Isa. xxxiii. 16, xliii. 20, lv. 1, and lviii. 11, Jer. ii. 13 and 18, xvii. 8 and 13, and in other places innumerable. The temporal supplies of a people are very often in Scripture called waters; as Isa. v. 13, Therefore my people is gone into captivity, and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst, i. e., deprived of the supports and supplies of life. And the drying up the waters of a city or kingdom, is often used in Scripture prophecy, for the depriving them of their wealth, as the Scripture explains itself, Hos. xiii. 15: "His spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up; he shall spoil the treasure of all pleasant vessels." Isa. xv. 6, 7, "The waters of Nimrim shall be desolate; for the hay is withered away; the grass faileth; there is no green thing. Therefore the abundance
they have gotten, and that which they have laid up, shall they carry away to the brook of the willows." By the brook of the willows there seems to be a reference to the waters of Assyria or Chaldea, whose streams abounded with willows (compare Psal. cxxxvii. 2). So that the carrying away the treasures of Moab, and adding of them to the treasures of Assyria, is here represented by the figure of turning away the waters of Nimrim from the country of Moab, and adding them to the waters of Assyria, as the prophecy explains itself. Yea, even in the prophecies of the destruction of Babylon itself, the depriving her of her treasures, seems to be one thing intended by the drying up of her waters. This seems manifest by the words of the prophecy in Jer. I. 37, 38: "A sword is upon her treasures, and they shall be robbed; a drought is upon her waters, and they shall be dried up." Compared with chap. li. 15, "O thou that dwellest upon many waters, abundant in treasures;" with ver. 36, "I will dry up her sea, and make her springs dry." The wealth, revenues, and the vast incomes of the church of Rome, are the waters by which that Babylon has been nourished and supported; these are the waters which the Popish clergy and the members of the Romish hierarchy thirst after, and are continually drinking down, with insatiable appetite; and they are waters that have been flowing into that spiritual city like a great river; ecclesiastical persons possessing a very great part of the Popish dominions: as this Babylon is represented as vastly rich, in this prophecy of the Apocalypse, especially in the 17th and 18th chapters. These are especially the waters that supply the palace of the king of this new Babylon, viz., the Pope; as the river Euphrates ran through the midst of the palace of the king of old Babylon. The revenues of the Pope have been like the waters of a great river, coming into his palace, from innumerable fountains, and by innumerable branches and lesser streams, coming from many various and distant countries.
This prophecy represents to us two cities very contrary the one to the other; viz., New Babylon and the New Jerusalem, and a river running through the midst of each. The new Jerusalem, which signifies the church of Christ, especially in her best estate, is described as having a river running through the midst of it, Rev. xxii. 1, 2. This river, as might easily be made most evident, by comparing this with abundance of other Scriptures, undoubtedly signifies the divine supplies, and rich and abundant spiritual incomes and provision of that holy city. Mr. Lowman, in his late exposition, says, It represents a constant provision for the comfortable and happy life of all the inhabitants of this city of God. And in his notes on the same place, observes as follows: "Water (says he), as necessary to the support of life, and as it contributes in great cities, especially in hot eastern countries, to the ornament of the place, and delight of the inhabitants, is a very proper representation of the enjoyment of all things, both for the support and pleasure of life." As the river that runs through the new Jerusalem, the church of Christ, that refreshes that holy spiritual society, signifies their spiritual supplies, to satisfy their spiritual thirst; so the river that runs through the new Babylon, the Antichristian church, that wicked carnal society, signifies, according to the opposite character of the city, her worldly, carnal supplies, to satisfy their carnal desires and thirstings.
This new Jerusalem is called in this book the paradise of God; and therefore is represented as having the tree of life growing in it, chap. ii. 7, and xxii. 2 And it being described, as though a river ran through the midst of it, there seems to be some allusion to the ancient paradise in Eden, of which we are told that there ran a river through the midst of it to water it, Gen. ii. 10; i. e., to supply the plants of it with nourishment. And this river was this very same
river Euphrates, that afterwards ran through Babylon. And in one and the other it represented the divers supplies of two opposite cities: in Eden it герresented the spiritual supplies and wealth of the true Christian church, in her spiritual advancement and glory; and seems to be so made use of Rev. xxii. 1, 2. In the other it represented the outward carnal supplies of the false Antichristian church, in her worldly pomp and vainglory, chap. xvi. 12.
When the waters that supply this mystical Babylon, come to be dried up in this sense, it will prepare the way for the enemies of Antichristian corruption, that seek her overthrow. The wealth of the church of Rome, and of the powers that support it, is very much its defence. After the streams of her revenues and riches are dried up, or very greatly diminished, her walls will be as it were broken down, and she will become weak and defenceless, and exposed to easy ruin.
When Joab had taken that part of the city of Rabbah, that was called the city of waters, whence the city had its supply of water, the fountains of the brook Jabbok being probably there; and which was also called the royal city, probably because there the king had his palace and gardens, on the account of its peculiar pleasantness; I say, when he had taken this, the conquest of the rest of the city was easy; his message to David implies that the city now might be taken at pleasure, 2 Sam. xii. 27, 28. It is possible that by the pouring out of the sixth vial to dry up the river of the mystical Babylon, there may be something like the taking the city of waters in Rabbah; some one of the chief of the Popish powers, that has been the main strength and support of the Popish cause, or from whence that church has its chief supplies, may be destroyed, or converted, or greatly reduced. But this, events must determine.
In the prophecies of Egypt's destruction, it is signified, that when their rivers and waters should be dried up, in that sense, that the streams of their temporal supplies should be averted from them, their defence would be gone: Isa. xix. 4, &c., "The Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord; and the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and dried up, and the brooks of defence shall be emptied and dried up, and the reeds and flags shall wither; every thing sown by the brooks shall wither: the fishers also shall mourn."
Those whose way was prepared to come in and destroy Babylon, by the drying up the river Euphrates, were the army that was at war with Babylon, Cyrus the king, and his host, that sought her overthrow: so there seems to be all reason to suppose, that those whose way will be prepared to come in and destroy mystical Babylon, by drying up the mystical Euphrates, are that king and army that are in this book of Revelation represented as at war with Antichrist. And what king and army that is, we may see in chap. xii. 7, and xix. 11, to the end: Michael the king of angels, and his angels; he whose name is called the word of God, and that has on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of kings, and Lord of lords; and the heavenly armies that follow him, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. Cyrus the chief of the kings of the east, that destroyed Babylon, and redeemed God's church from thence, and restored Jerusalem, seems in that particular affair very manifestly to be spoken of as a type of Christ; God calls him his shepherd, to perform his pleasure, to say to Jerusalem, thou shalt be built, and to the temple, thy foundation shall be laid, Isa. xliv. 28. God calls him his Messiah: chap. xlv. 1," Thus saith the Lord to his anointed (in the original, to his Messiah), to Cyrus." He is spoken of as one that God had raised up in righteousness, that he might build his city, and freely redeem his captives, or let them go without price or reward, chapter VOL. III.
xlv. 13. He is said to be one whom God had loved, chap. xlviii. 14. In like manner as the Messiah is said to be God's elect, in whom his soul delighteth. As by Babylon, in the Revelation, is meant that Antichristian society that is typified by old Babylon; so by the kings of the east, that should destroy this Antichristian church, must be meant those enemies of it that were typified by Cyrus and other chieftains of the east, that destroyed old Babylon; viz., Christ, who was born, lived, died and rose in the east, together with those spiritual princes that follow him, the principalities and powers in heavenly places, and those ministers and saints that are kings and priests, and shall reign on earth; espe cially those leaders and heads of God's people, those Christian ministers and magistrates that shall be distinguished as public blessings to his church, and chief instruments of the overthrow of Antichrist.
As the river Euphrates served the city of Babylon as a supply, so, as it also was before observed, it served as an impediment or obstacle to hinder the access of its enemies as there was a vast moat round the city, filled with the water of the river, which was left empty when Euphrates was dried up. And therefore we may suppose that another thing meant by the effect of the sixth vial, is the removal of those things which hitherto have been the chief obstacles in the way of the progress of the true religion, and the victory of the church of Christ over her enemies which have been the corrupt doctrines and practices that have prevailed in Protestant countries, and the doubts and difficulties that attend many doctrines of the true religion, and the many divisions and contentions that subsist among Protestants. The removal of those would wonderfully prepare the way for Christ and his armies, to go forward and prevail against her enemies, in a glorious propagation of true religion. So that this vial which is to prepare the way for Christ and his people, seems to have respect to that remarkable preparing the way for Christ, by levelling mountains, exalting valleys, drying up rivers, and removing stumbling-blocks, which is often spoken of in the prophecies, as what shall next precede the church's latter day glory; as Isa. xlii. 13, &c., "The Lord shall go forth as a mighty man; he shall stir up jealousy as a man of war; he shall prevail against his enemies. I will make waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their herbs; and I will make the rivers islands, and I will dry up the pools; and I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not, and I will lead them in paths that they have not known; I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight: these things will I do unto them and not forsake them." Chap. xl. 3, 4, 5, " Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God: every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and rough places plain; and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together." Chap. xi. 15, 16, "And the Lord shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea, and with his mighty wind shall he shake his hand over the river, and shall suite it in the seven streams thereof, and make men go over dry shod and there shall be a highway for the remnant of his people which shall be left, from Assyria, like as it was to Israel, in the day that he came out of the land of Egypt." Chap. lvii. 14," Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumbling-block out of the way of my people." And chap. lxii. 10, "Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the high-way; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people." Zech. x. 10, 11, 12, "I will bring them again also out of the land of Egypt, and gather them out of Assyria; and I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon; and place shall not be found for them. And he shall pass through the sea with
affliction, and shall smite the waves of the sea; and all the deeps of the river shall dry up and the pride of Assyria shall be brought down, and the sceptre of Egypt shall depart away and I will strengthen them in the Lord, and they shall walk up and down in his name, saith the Lord." And it is worthy to be remarked that as Cyrus's destroying Babylon, and letting go God's captives from thence, and restoring Jerusalem, is certainly typical of Christ's destroying mystical Babylon, and delivering his people from her tyranny, and gloriously building up the spiritual Jerusalem in the latter days; so God's preparing Cyrus's way, by drying up the river Euphrates, is spoken of in terms like those that are used in those prophecies that have been mentioned, to signify the preparing Christ's way, when he shall come to accomplish the latter event. Thus God says concerning Cyrus, Isa. xlv. 2, "I will go before thee, and make crooked places straight." And ver. 13, "I will direct, or make straight (as it is in the margin) all his ways." This is like chap. xl. 2, 4, " Prepare ye the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. The crooked things shall be made straight." Chap. xlii. 16, "I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight."
If any should object against understanding the river Euphrates in Rev. xvi. 12, as signifying what has been supposed, that when mention is made of the river Euphrates, in another place in this prophecy, it is manifestly not so to be understood, viz. in chapter ix. 14, "Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates ;" and that there is no reason to understand the river Euphrates in the vision of the sixth vial, as signifying something diverse from what is meant by the same river in the vision of the sixth trumpet ;
I answer, that there appears to me to be good reason for a diverse understanding of the river Euphrates in these two different places: the diversity of the scene of the vision, and of the kind of representation, in those two diverse parts of this prophecy, naturally leads to it and requires it. It is in this book as it is in the Old Testament; when the river Euphrates is spoken of in the Old Testament, both in the histories and prophecies, it is mentioned with regard to a twofold relation of that river; viz., 1st, with regard to its relation to Babylon. And as it was related to that, it was something belonging to that city, as its defence and supply, as has been represented. Thus the river Euphrates is spoken of in many places that have been already observed, and others that might be mentioned. 2dly. This river is spoken of with regard to its relation to the land of Israel, God's visible people. And as it was related to that, it was its eastern boundary. It is so spoken of Gen. xv. 18, Exod. xxiii. 31, Deut. i. 7, and xi. 24, Josh. i. 4, 2 Sam. viii. 3, 1 Chron. xviii. 3, 1 Kings iv. 21, Ezra iv. 20. Agreeable to this diverse respect or relation of this river, under which it is mentioned in the Old Testament, so must we understand it differently in different parts of the prophecy of this book of Revelation, according as the nature and subject of the vision requires. In the 16th chapter where the prophecy is about Babylon, and the vision is of God's plagues on Babylon, preparing the way for her destruction, there, when the river Euphrates is mentioned, we are naturally and necessarily led to consider it as something belonging to Babylon, appertaining to the mystical Babylon, as Euphrates did to old Babylon. But we cannot understand it so in the 9th chapter, for there the prophecy is not about Babylon. To mention Euphrates there, as something belonging to Babylon, would have been improper; for the nature of the vision, and prophetical representation, did not lead to it, nor allow it. John had had no vision of Babylon; that kind of representation had not been