Much discussion has been indulged in respecting these last "plagues," and what facts of history answer to each separate "vial." As they were of no special importance to our main subject we embody our opinions of these plagues in this place simply as confirmatory evidence of the truth of our conclusions respecting the death blow to the Papacy and evidence of the truth of scripture prophecy.
It is to be noticed that the first vial was poured out "upon the earth," from which arose the "beast" of Rev. 13:11 which has generally been held to be a symbol of the ecclesiastical branch of the Papacy.
Hence the "noisome and grievous sore" indicates a pestilential moral atmosphere, and a foul spirit of opposition and infidelity among the adherents of the Church, which could only find its counterpart in the demoniac rage of the Catholic people of France and even the defection of the bishops and clergy, as stated in chap. 10.
The second vial was poured out "upon the sea," which as a symbol we have shown to denote vast masses of corrupt people, from the midst of whom corrupt and wicked rulers might arise, as monsters from the sea. This was most emphatically realized during this same Revolution of '93-94 when Royalty was dethroned, and the ruling powers were taken from the ranks of the people and often from the lowest classes during that terrible "reign of terror, " "and it (the sea) became as the blood of a dead man." About one-tenth of the population of France (3,000,000) were ruthlessly murdered in this "great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell" (Rev. 11:13).
The third vial was poured out "upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became as blood." These, according to the explanation of the angel in Rev. 17:15, indicate states and communities of people as distinguished from kingdoms, and is only a restricted duplicate of the last vial, to show the widespread cry for blood in this time when every man's hand was against his neighbor. The sixth verse very plainly indicates the reason of this terrible retribution, and who should be the victims of it, as a fitting reward for the St. Bartholomew massacre and for the Albigenses and Waldenses who were ruthlessly slain by the people and soldiers of France at the bidding of the Pope.
"The fourth angel poured out his vial upon the Sun," which is a symbol of the highest dignitary in Church or State. The judicial murder of the King and Queen of France, and the terrific indignities heaped upon Pius VI and Pius VII by Napoleon, will fill all the requirements of this vial. Some of these have been shown in chap. 10, but a tithe was not told. The Catholic religion had been completely overthrown by the Assembly and the people of France, and when for political reasons Napoleon re-instated it, it was degraded in the eyes of the Church dignitaries by being put on a level with all other religions, and not the slightest sign of its former power was allowed or even hinted at.
Napoleon compelled the attendance of Pope Pius VII at his coronation, "not to confer a crown but to adorn a ceremony." Could humiliation be more complete! Yes, for the fifth vial was poured out "upon the seat of the beast, and his kingdom was full of darkness." This limits the time and place of these events with unmistakable certainty, for no facts of history so completely fill the conditions of the prophecy as the spoliation of the Vatican treasures, the heavy indemnity levied, the dismemberment of the States of the Church, and the Pope's power declared to be ended. Napoleon further degraded him by making him a French subject and a salaried dependant of the French Court, with an annual income of 80,000 pounds.
The sixth vial we have already spoken of as relating to the quiet drying up of Turkey. The seventh vial is yet to be poured out and is near at hand.
The revolutions of 1848, when every throne in the Latin World "reeled to and fro like a drunken man," gave evidence of their tottering condition, while the closing scenes of the Ecumenical Council and the preparations to deify the Pope, became the occasion of other misfortunes "to consume and destroy his kingdom unto the end."