This chapter gives a description of the seven vials of the unmingled wrath of God, and the effects that follow as they are poured upon the earth. Concerning the character and chronology of these plagues, there is a difference of opinion among Bible readers. Our first inquiry therefore is, What is the true position on these points? Are they symbolical, and mostly fulfilled in the past, as some contend? or are they literal, and all future, as others no less confidently affirm? A brief examination of the testimony will, we think, conclusively settle these questions. p. 641, Para. 2.
"VERSE 1. And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth. 2. And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshiped his image." p. 641, Para. 3.
The Chronology of the Plagues. -- The description of this plague clearly reveals at once their chronology; for it is poured out upon those who have the mark of the beast, and who worship his image, -- the identical work against which the third angel warns us. This is conclusive proof that these judgments are not poured out till after this angel closes his work, and that the very class who hear his warning, and reject it, are the ones to receive the first drops from the overflowing vials of God's indignation. Now, if these plagues are in the past, the image of the beast and his worship are in the past. If these are past, the two-horned beast, which makes this image, and his work, are in the past. If these are past, then the third angel's message, which warns us in reference to this work, is in the past; and if this is past, -- that is, ages in the past, where this view locates the commencement of the plagues, -- then the first and second messages, which precede that, were also ages in the past. Then the prophetic periods, on which the messages are based, especially the 2300 days, ended ages ago. And if this is so, the seventy weeks of Daniel 9 are thrown wholly into the Jewish dispensation, and the great proof of the Messiahship of Christ is destroyed. But it has been shown on chapters 7, 13, and 14, that the first and second messages have been given in our own day; that the third is now in process of accomplishment; that the two-horned beast has come upon the stage of action, and is preparing to do the work assigned him; and that the formation of the image and the enforcement of the worship are just in the future. And unless all these positions can be overthrown, the seven last plagues must also be assigned wholly to the future. p. 641, Para. 4.
But there are other reasons for locating them in the future and not in the past. p. 642, Para. 1.
1. Under the fifth plague, men blaspheme God because of their sores, the same sores, of course, caused by the outpouring of the first plague. This shows that these plagues all fall upon one and the same generation of men, some being, no doubt, swept off by each one, yet some surviving through the terrible scenes of them all; a fact utterly subversive of the position that they commenced far in the past, and occupy centuries each in their fulfilment, for how, then, could those who experience the first plague be alive under the fifth? p. 642, Para. 2.
2. These plagues are the wine of God's wrath without mixture, threatened by the third angel. Chapter 14:10; 15:1. Such language cannot be applied to any judgments visited upon the earth while Christ pleads between his Father and our fallen race; hence we must locate them in the future, when probation shall have closed. p. 642, Para. 3.
3. Another and more definite testimony as to the commencement and duration of these plagues is found in chapter 15:8: "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." The temple here introduced is evidently that which is mentioned in chapter 11:19, where it says, "The temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament." In other words, we have before us the heavenly sanctuary. The testimony is, then, that when the seven angels with the seven golden vials receive their commission, the temple is filled with smoke from the glory of God, and no being can enter into the temple, or sanctuary, till they have fulfilled their work; there will therefore be no ministration in the sanctuary during this time. Consequently, these vials are not poured out till the close of the ministration in the tabernacle above, but immediately follow that event; for Christ is then no longer a mediator; mercy, which has long stayed the hand of vengeance, pleads no more; the servants of God are all sealed. What could then be expected but that the "storm of vengeance should fall", and earth be swept with the besom of destruction? p. 643, Para. 1.
Having now shown the chronology of these judgments, that they are before us in the very near future, treasured up against the day of wrath, we proceed to inquire into their nature, and what will result when the solemn and fearful mandate shall go forth from the temple to the seven angels, saying, "Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth." Here we are called to look into the "armory" of the Lord, and behold the "weapons of his indignation." Jer. 50:25. Here are brought forth the treasures of hail, which have been reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war. Job 38:22, 23. p. 643, Para. 2.
The First Plague. -- "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." p. 643, Para. 3.
There is no apparent reason why this should not be regarded as strictly literal. These plagues are almost identical with those which God inflicted upon the Egyptians as he was about to deliver his people from the yoke of bondage, the literality of which is seldom, if ever, called in question. God is now about to crown his people with their final deliverance and redemption, and his judgments will be manifested in a manner no less literal and terrible. What the sore here threatened is, we are not informed. Perhaps it may be similar to the parallel plague which fell upon Egypt. Ex. 9:8-11. p. 644, Para. 1.
"VERSE 3. And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man; and every living soul died in the sea." p. 644, Para. 2.
The Second Plague. -- A more infectious and deadly substance can scarcely be conceived of than the blood of a dead man; and the thought that the great bodies of water on the earth, which are doubtless meant by the term sea, will be changed to such a state under this plague, presents a fearful picture. We have here the remarkable fact that the term living soul is applied to irrational animals, the fish and living creatures of the sea. This is, we believe, the only instance of such an application in the English Version; in the original, however, it occurs frequently; showing that the term as applied to man in the beginning [Gen. 2:7] cannot be taken as furnishing any evidence that he is endowed with an immaterial and immortal essence, called the soul. p. 644, Para. 3.
"VERSE 4. And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of water; and they became blood. 5. 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. 6. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy. 7. And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments." p. 644, Para. 4.
The Third Plague. -- Such is the description of the terrible retribution for the "blood of saints" shed by violent hands, which will be given to those who have done, or wish to do, such deeds. And though the horrors of that hour when the fountains and rivers of water shall be like blood, cannot now be realized, the justice of God will stand vindicated, and his judgments approved. Even the angels are heard exclaiming, Thou art righteous, O Lord, because thou hast judged thus; for they have shed the blood of saints and prophets. Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments. p. 644, Para. 5.
It may be asked how the last generation of the wicked can be said to have shed the blood of saints and prophets, since the last generation of saints are not to be slain. A reference to Matt. 23:34, 35; 1 John 3:15, will explain. These scriptures show that guilt attaches to motive no less than to action; and no generation ever formed a more determined purpose to devote the saints to indiscriminate slaughter than the present generation will, not far in the future. [See chapter 12:17; 13:15.] In motive and purpose, they do shed the blood of saints and prophets, and are every whit as guilty as if they were able to carry out their wicked intentions. p. 645, Para. 1.
It would seem that none of the human family could long survive a continuance of a plague to terrible as this. It must therefore be limited in its duration, as was the similar one on Egypt. Ex. 7:17-21, 25. p. 645, Para. 2.
"VERSE 8. And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. 9. 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." p. 645, Para. 3.
The Fourth Plague. -- It is worthy of notice that every succeeding plague tends to augment the calamity of the previous ones and to heighten the anguish of the guilty sufferers. We have now a noisome and grievous sore preying upon men, inflaming their blood, and pouring its feverish influence through their veins. In addition to this, they have only blood to allay their burning thirst; and, as if to crown all, power is given unto the sun, and he pours upon them a flood of liquid fire, and they are scorched with great heat. Here, as the record runs, their woe first seeks utterance in fearful blasphemy. p. 645, Para. 4.
"VERSE 10. 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. ll. And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and sores, and repented not of their deeds." p. 645, Para. 5.
The Fifth Plague. -- An important fact is established by this testimony; namely, that the plagues do not at once destroy all their victims; for some who were at first smitten with sores, we find still living under the fifth vial, and gnawing their tongues for pain. An illustration of this vial will be found in Ex. 10:21, 23. It is poured upon the seat of the beast, the papacy. The seat of the beast is wherever the papal See is located, which has been thus far, and without doubt will continue to be, the city of Rome. "His Kingdom" probably embraces all those who are subjects of the pope in an ecclesiastical point of view, wherever they may be. p. 646, Para. 1.
As those who place the plagues in the past have the first five already wholly accomplished, we here pause a moment to inquire where, in past ages, the judgments here threatened have been fulfilled. Can judgments so terrible be inflicted, and nobody know it? If not, where is the history of the fulfilment? When did a noisome and grievous sore fall upon a specified and extensive portion of mankind? When did the sea become as the blood of a dead man, and every living soul die in it? When did the fountains and rivers become blood, and people have blood to drink? When did the sun so scorch men with fire as to extort from them curses and blasphemy? And when did the subjects of the beast gnaw their tongues for pain, and at the same time blaspheme God on account of their sores? Interpreters who thus put such scenes in the past, where a shadow of fulfilment cannot be shown, openly invite the scoffs and ridicule of the skeptically minded against God's holy book, and furnish them with potent weapons for their deplorable work. In these plagues, says Inspiration, is filled up the wrath of God; but if they can be fulfilled and nobody know it, who shall henceforth consider his wrath so terrible a thing, or shrink from his judgments when they are threatened? p. 646, Para. 2.
"VERSE 12. And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. 13. 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. 14. 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. 15. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. 16. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon." p. 646, Para. 3.
The Sixth Plague. What is the great River Euphrates, upon which this vial is poured out? One view is that it is the literal River Euphrates in Asia; another is that it is a symbol of the nation occupying the territory through which that river flows. The latter opinion is preferable for the following reasons: p. 647, Para. 1.
1. It would be difficult to see what end would be gained by the drying up of the literal river, as that would not offer an obstruction at all serious to the progress of an advancing army; and it should be noticed that the drying up takes place to prepare the way of the kings of the East; that is, regular military organizations, and not a promiscuous and unequipped crowd of men, women, and children, like the children of Israel at the Red Sea or at the Jordan. The Euphrates is only about 1,400 miles in length, or about one third the size of the Mississippi. Cyrus, without difficulty, turned the whole river from its channel at his siege of Babylon; and notwithstanding the numerous wars that have been carried on along its banks, and the mighty hosts that have crossed and recrossed its streams, it never yet had to be dried up to let them pass. p. 647, Para. 2.
2. It would be as necessary to dry up the River Tigris as the Euphrates; for that is nearly as large as the latter. Its source is only fifteen miles from that of the Euphrates, in the mountains of Armenia, and it runs nearly parallel with it, and but a short distance from it throughout its whole course; yet the prophecy says nothing of the Tigris. p. 647, Para. 3.
3. The literal drying up of the rivers takes place under the fourth vial, when power is given to the sun to scorch men with fire. Under this plague occur, beyond question, the scenes of drought and famine so graphically described by Joel, chapter 1:14, 20; and as one result of these, it is expressly stated that "the rivers of waters are dried up." The Euphrates can hardly be an exception to this visitation of drought; hence not much would remain to be literally dried up under the sixth vial. p. 647, Para. 4.
4. These plagues, from the very nature of the case, must be manifestations of wrath and judgments upon men; but if the drying up of the literal Euphrates is all that is brought to view, this plague is not of such a nature, and turns out to be no serious affair, after all. p. 648, Para. 1.
These objections existing against considering it a literal river, it must be understood figuratively as symbolizing the power holding possession of the territory watered by that river, which is the Ottoman, or Turkish, empire. p. 648, Para. 2.
1. It is so used in other places in the Scriptures. [See Isa. 8:7; Rev. 9:14.] In this latter text, all must concede that the Euphrates symbolizes the Turkish power; and being the first and only other occurrence of the work in the Revelation, it may well be considered as governing its use in this book. p. 648, Para. 3.
2. The drying up of the river in this sense would be the consumption of the Turkish empire, accompanied with more or less destruction of its subjects. Thus we should have literal judgments upon men as the result of this plague, as in the case of all the others. p. 648, Para. 4.
But it may be objected to this, that while contending for the literality of the plagues, we nevertheless make one of them a symbol. We answer, No. A power is introduced, it is true, under the sixth vial, in its symbolic form, just as it is under the fifth, where we read of the seat of the beast, which is a well known symbol; or as we read again in the first plague of the mark of the beast, his image, and its worship, which are also symbols. All that is here insisted upon, is the literality of the judgments that result from each vial, which are literal in this case as in all the others, though the organizations which suffer these judgments may be brought to view in their symbolic form. p. 648, Para. 5.
Again: It may be asked how the way of the kings of the East will be prepared by the drying up, or consumption, of the Ottoman power? The answer is obvious. For what is the way of these kings to be prepared? Answer: To come up to the battle of the great day of God Almighty. Where is the battle to be fought? Near Jerusalem. [Joel and Zephaniah.] But Jerusalem is in the hands of the Turks; they hold possession of the land of Palestine and the sacred sepulchers. This is the bone of contention; on these the nations have fixed their covetous and jealous eyes. But though Turkey now possesses them, and others want them, it is nevertheless thought necessary to the tranquillity of Europe that Turkey should be maintained in her position, in order to preserve what is called the "balance of power." For this the Christian nations of Europe have cooperated to sustain the integrity of the sultan's throne, because they cannot agree as to the division of the spoils, when turkey falls. By their sufferance alone that government now exists, and when they shall withdraw their support, and leave it to itself, as they will do under the sixth plague, that symbolic river will be wholly dried up; Turkey will be no more, and the way will be all open for the nations to make their last grand rally to the Holy Land. The kings of the East, the nationalities, powers, and kingdoms lying east of Palestine, will act a conspicuous part in the matter; for Joel says in reference to this scene, "Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat." The millions of Mohammedans of Persia, Afghanistan, Toorkistan, and India will rush to the field of conquest in behalf of their religion. (See more about Turkey in Dan. 11:40, 45.) p. 648, Para. 6.
Those who place five of the plagues in the past, and contend that we are now living under the sixth, urge, as one of their strongest arguments, the fact that the Turkish empire is now wasting away, and this takes place under the sixth vial. It is hardly necessary to reply, The event that takes place under the sixth vial is the entire and utter consumption of that power, not its preliminary state of decay, which is all that now appears. It is necessary that the empire should for a time grow weak and powerless, in order to its utter dissolution when the plague shall come. This preliminary condition is now seen, and the full end cannot be far in the future. p. 649, Para. 1.
Another event to be noticed under this plague is the issuing forth of the three unclean spirits to gather the nations to the great battle. The agency now already abroad in the world known as modern Spiritualism, is in every way a fitting means to be employed in this work. But it may be asked how a work which is already going on can be designated by that expression, when the spirits are not introduced into the prophecy until the pouring out of the sixth plague, which is still future. We answer that in this, as in many other movements, the agencies which Heaven designs to employ in the accomplishment of certain ends, go through a process of preliminary training for the part which they are to act. Thus, before the spirits can have such absolute authority over the race as to gather them to battle against the King of kings and Lord of lords, they must first win their way among the nations of the earth, and cause their teaching to be received as of divine authority and their word as law. This work they are now doing; and when they shall have once gained full influence over the nations in question, what fitter instrument could be employed to gather them to so rash and hopeless an enterprise? p. 649, Para. 2.
To many it may seem incredible that the nations should be willing to engage in such an unequal warfare as to go up to battle against the Lord of hosts; but it is one province of these spirits of devils to deceive, for they go forth working miracles, and thereby deceive the kings of the earth, that they should believe a lie. p. 650, Para. 1.
The sources from which these spirits issue, denote that they will work among three great religious divisions of mankind, represented by the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, or Paganism, Catholicism, and apostate Protestantism. p. 650, Para. 2.
But what is the force of the caution thrown out in verse 15? Probation must have closed, and Christ have left his mediatorial position, before the plagues begin to fall. And is there danger of falling after that? It will be noticed that this warning is spoken in connection with the working of the spirits. The inference therefore is, that it is retroactive, applying from the time these spirits begin to work to the close of probation; that by an interchange of tenses common to the Greek language, the present tense is put for the past; as if it had read, Blessed is he that hath watched and kept his garments, as the shame and nakedness of all who have not done this will at this time especially appear. p. 650, Para. 3.
"And he gathered them." Who are the ones here spoken of as "gathered," and what agency is to be used in gathering them? If the word them refers to the kings of verse 14 it is certain that no good agency would be made use of to gather them; and if the spirits are referred to by the word he, why is it in the singular number? The peculiarity of this construction has led some to read the passage thus: "And he [Christ] gathered them [the saints] into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon [the illustrious city, or New Jerusalem]." But this position is untenable. The following criticism, which appeared not long since in a religious magazine, seems to shed the true light upon this passage. The writer says: p. 651, Para. 1.
"It seems to me that verse 16 is a continuation of verse 14, and that the antecedent of [them] is 'the kings' mentioned in verse 14. For this latter verse says, 'Which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them,' etc., and in verse 16 it says, 'And he gathered them.' Now in the Greek, 'a neuter plural regularly takes a verb in the singular.' [See Sophocles's Greek Grammar, sec. 151, 1.] Might not, therefore, the subject of the verb [gathered] [verse 16] be [the spirits] of verse 14, and thus the 'gathering' mentioned in the two verses be one and the same? p. 651, Para. 2.
"And if this is to be a gathering of 'the kings of the earth and of the whole world.' will it not be for the purpose mentioned in the text; namely, 'to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty'?" p. 651, Para. 3.
In accordance with this criticism, several translations use the plural instead of the singular pronoun. p. 651, Para. 4.
Mr. Wakefield, in his translation of the New Testament, renders this verse thus: "And the spirits gathered the kings together at a place called in Hebrew Armageddon." p. 651, Para. 5.
The Syriac Testament reads: "And they collected them together in a place called in Hebrew Armageddon." p. 651, Para. 6.
Sawyer's translation renders it: "And they assembled them in the place called in Hebrew Armageddon." p. 652, Para. 1.
Mr. Wesley's version of the New Testament reads: "And they gathered them together to the place which is called in the Hebrew Armageddon." p. 652, Para. 2.
Whiting's translation gives it: "And they gathered them into a place called in Hebrew Armageddon." p. 652, Para. 3.
Professor Stuart, of Andover College, a distinguished critic, though not a translator of the Scriptures, renders it: "And THEY gathered them together," etc. De Wette, a German translator of the Bible, gives it the same turn as Stuart and the others. p. 652, Para. 4.
Mr. Albert Barnes, whose notes on the New Testament have been so extensively used, refers to the same grammatical law as suggested by the criticism above quoted, and says, "The authority of De Wette and Professor Stuart is sufficient to show that the construction which they adopt is authorized by the Greek, as indeed no one can doubt, and perhaps this construction accords better with the context than any other construction proposed." Thus it will be seen that there are weighty reasons for reading the text, "They gathered them together," etc., instead of "he gathered." And by these authorities it is shown that the persons gathered are the minions of Satan, not saints; that it is the work of the spirits, not of Christ; and that the place of assemblage is not in the New Jerusalem at the marriage supper of the Lamb, but at Armageddon [or Mount Megiddo], "at the battle of that great day of God Almighty." p. 652, Para. 5.
The hills of Megiddo, overlooking the plain of Esdraelon, was the place where Barak and Deborah destroyed Sisera's army, and where Josiah was routed by the Egyptian king Pharaoh-Necho. p. 652, Para. 6.
"VERSE 17. And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. 18. 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. 19. 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. 20. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. 21. And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great." p. 652, Para. 7.
The Seventh Plague. -- Thus has Inspiration described the last judgment which is to be inflicted in the present condition of things upon those who are incorrigibly rebellious against God. Some of the plagues are local in their application; but this one is poured out into the air. The air envelops the whole earth; it follows that this plague will envelop equally the habitable globe. It will be universal. The very air will be deadly. p. 653, Para. 1.
The gathering of the nations having taken place under the sixth vial, the battle remains to be fought under the seventh; and here are brought to view the instrumentalities with which God will slay the wicked. At this time it may be said, "The Lord hath opened his armory, and hath brought forth the weapons of his indignation." p. 653, Para. 2.
"There were voices." Above all will be heard the voice of God. "The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth shall shake; but the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel." Joel 3:16. (See also Jer. 25:30; Heb. 12:26.) This will cause the great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth. p. 653, Para. 3.
"And thunders and lightnings" -- another allusion to the judgments of Egypt. [See Ex. 9:23.] The great city is divided into three parts; that is, the three grand divisions of the false and apostate religions of the world [the great city], Paganism, Catholicism, and relapsed Protestantism, seem to be set apart each to receive its appropriate doom. The cities of the nations fall; universal desolation spreads over the earth; every island flees away, and the mountains are not found; and great Babylon comes in remembrance before God. Read her judgments, as more fully described in chapter 18. p. 653, Para. 4.
"And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven." This is the last instrumentality used in the infliction of punishment upon the wicked, -- the bitter dregs of the seventh vial. God has solemnly addressed the wicked, saying, "Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet; and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding-place." Isa. 28:17. [See also Isa. 30:30.] And he asks Job if he has seen the treasures of the hail, which he has "reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war." Job 38:22, 23. p. 653, Para. 5.
"Every stone about the weight of a talent." A talent, according to various authorities, as a weight, is about fifty-seven pounds avoirdupois. What could withstand the force of stones of such an enormous weight falling from heaven? But mankind, at this time, will have no shelter. The cities have fallen in a mighty earthquake, the islands have fled away, and the mountains are not found. Again the wicked give vent to their woe in blasphemy; for the plague of the hail is "exceeding great." p. 654, Para. 1.
Some faint idea of the terrible effect of such a scene as is here predicted, may be inferred from the following sketch of a hailstorm on the Bosporus, by our countryman, the late Commodore Porter, in his Letters from Constantinople and its Environs, Vol. I, p. 44. He says:-- p. 654, Para. 2.
"We had got perhaps a mile and a half on our way, when a cloud rising in the west gave indications of approaching rain. In a few minutes we discovered something falling from the heavens with a heavy splash, and with a whitish appearance. I could not conceive what it was, but observing some gulls near, I supposed it to be them darting for fish, but soon after discovered that they were large balls of ice falling. Immediately we heard a sound like rumbling thunder, or ten thousand carriages rolling furiously over the pavement. The whole Bosporus was in a foam, as though heaven's artillery had been charged upon us and our frail machine. Our fate seemed inevitable; our umbrellas were raised to protect us, but the lumps of ice stripped them into ribbons. We fortunately had a bullock's hide in the boat, under which we crawled, and saved ourselves from further injury. One man of the three oarsmen had his hand literally smashed; another was much injured in the shoulder; Mr. H. received a blow in the leg; my right hand was somewhat disabled, and all were more or less injured. p. 654, Para. 3.
"It was the most awful and terrific scene I ever witnessed, and God forbid that I should ever be exposed to another! Balls of ice as large as my two fists fell into the boat, and some of them fell with such violence as certainly to have broken an arm or leg had they struck us in those parts. One of them struck the blade of an oar, and split it. The scene lasted perhaps five minutes; but it was five minutes of the most awful feelings I ever experienced. When it passed over, we found the surrounding hills covered with masses of ice, I cannot call it hail, the trees stripped of their leaves and limbs, and everything looking desolate. The scene was awful beyond all description. p. 655, Para. 1.
"I have witnessed repeated earthquakes; the lightning has played, as it were, about my head; the wind has roared, and the waves at one moment have thrown me to the sky, and the next have sunk me into a deep abyss. I have been in action, and have seen death and destruction around me in every shape of horror; but I never before had the feeling of awe which seized me on this occasion, and still haunts, and I fear forever will haunt me. My porter, the boldest of my family, who had ventured an instant from the door, had been knocked down by a hailstone, and had they not dragged him in by the heels, would have been battered to death. Two boatmen were killed in the upper part of the village, and I have heard of broken bones in abundance. Imagine to yourself the heavens suddenly frozen over, and as suddenly broken to pieces in irregular masses of from half a pound to a pound weight, and precipitated to the earth." p. 655, Para. 2.
Reader, if such were the desolating effects of a hail-storm of ice, which discharged stones the size of a man's fist, weighing at most a pound or so, who can depict the consequences of that coming storm in which "EVERY STONE" shall be of the weight of a talent? As surely as God's word is truth, he is thus soon to punish a guilty world. May it be ours, according to the promise, to have "sure dwellings" and "quiet resting-places" in that terrific hour. Isa. 32:18, 19. p. 655, Para. 3.
"And there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done!" Thus all is finished. The cup of human guilt has been filled up. The last soul has availed itself of the plan of salvation. The books are closed. The number of the saved is completed. The final period is placed to this world's history. The vials of God's wrath are poured out upon a corrupt generation. The wicked have drunk them to the dregs, and sunk into the realm of death for a thousand years. Reader, where do you wish to be found after that great decision? p. 656, Para. 1.
But what is the condition of the saints while the "overflowing scourge" is passing over? They are the special subjects of God's protection, without whose notice not a sparrow falls to the ground. Many are the promises which come crowding in to afford them comfort, summarily contained in the beautiful and expressive language of the 91st psalm, which alone we have space to quote:-- p. 656, Para. 2.
"I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust; his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation, there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling." Ps. 91:2-10. p. 656, Para. 3.
© S. D. Goeldner, February, 2011. Last updated October, 2019.
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