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kings of the earth even of the whole Latin world or Ecumene.
This phantasm, whatever may be its precise import, incidentally affords a very important chronological notation.
At the effusion of the fifth vial, the seventh head of the Roman beast is slain by the sword, he himself sinks into a state of death or political non-existence, and his kingdom becomes full of darkness. This darkness, and consequently the period of the fifth vial, continues, until the mortally wounded seventh head is healed, and until the beast himself is restored to a condition of life or political reëxistence. Now, in the oracle of the sixth vial, subsequent to the exhaustion of the mystic Euphrates, we find the recently defunct beast once more alive: for he is described, as actively concurring with the dragon and the false prophet in the mission of three unclean spirits to the kings of the earth ; a circumstance, plainly incompatible with the idea of his then lying in a state of political lifelessness. Hence, from this part of the oracle of the sixth vial, we seem to learn, that the grand prophetic event, immediately subsequent to the downfall of the Ottoman Power, is the political revival of the Roman Empire by the restoration of its sword-destroyed and now defunct seventh form of supreme government. Such being the case, unless I have altogether failed in my exposition of the seventh Roman head, whenever the Ottoman Power shall fall, we may expect the specdy revival of the Francic Emperor
ship as the numerically eighth Roman king, though in truth only one of the preceding seven.
Since, at this present moment, the Roman beast lies politically dead, we may be sure that the mission of the three unclean spirits, in which he so actively concurs, is an event still future. What the precise import, therefore, of the prediction may be, must obviously be a matter of uncertainty. If any light can be antecedently thrown upon the subject, it must be, partly from an estimate of the character of the unclean spirits themselves, and partly from a consideration of the poetical imagery of the vision.
With respect to the character of the three unclean spirits themselves, it is explained to us, in the course of the prophecy, with a sufficient measure of precision and distinctness. We are told, parenthetically, that these impure beings are the spirits of demons, working signs, or performing simulated miracles.
Such is the declared character of the agents, employed by the dragon and the now revived beast and the false Latin prophet : and, accordingly, in strict correspondence with that character, the poetical imagery of the vision is borrowed, very evidently, from the recorded fact of demoniacal possession. As in the sacred evangelical history, so in the language of the prophecy, the beings introduced are indifferently styled demons and unclean spirits : and, as, in the sacred evangelical history, beings of this character are described, as taking possession of human subjects, and as driving them to a sort of reckless insanity; so, in the language of the prophecy, the three unclean spirits are represented, as going forth to the kings of the earth, and as taking possession of them for the purpose of precipitating them into a mad crusade against the Lord and against his people. Yet, though such is said to be the operation of the three demons, and though such is plainly enough the allusion involved in the account of that operation : nevertheless, at the same time, from the mention which is made in the prophecy of their working signs, it is almost impossible not to infer their connection, both with the delusive signs wrought by the ecclesiastical beast, with the delusive spirits and doctrines concerning demons prophetically announced by St. Paul, and with those lying signs and wonders which (according to the same Apostle) are wrought by the man of sin when he comes with all the deceptive energy of Satan'.
Having thus, on the one hand, ascertained the character of the three unclean spirits, and having thus, on the other hand, developed the poetical imagery of the vision ; we may now perhaps venture to pronounce, that the following is the idea apparently meant to be conveyed by the prophecy. Through a strenuous preaching of the doctrines of canonised dead men, and through sundry pretended
Compare, in the Greek, Rev. xiii. 4, 13. xvi. 14. 2 Thess. ii. 9. 1 Tim. iv. 4.
miracles wrought in confirmation of such doctrines, the kings of the earth, deceived by the politicotheological agents of the dragon and the beast and the false prophet, will, at the time when the oracle shall receive its accomplishment, be wrought up to a pitch of fury, which may well be compared to the rage of the ancient demoniacs'.
There is a curious passage in the first Apology of Justin, which may possibly throw some light on the connection, here supposed to exist, in the apocalyptic imagery, between demoniacal possession and the apostatic worship of canonised dead
Justin tells us, that, in his time, persons, who were thought to be possessed by the souls of the dead, were universally (that is, apparently, both by Pagans and by Christians) called demoniacs.
* Και οι ψυχαίς αποθανόντων λαμβανόμενοι και ριπτόμενοι άνθρωποι, ους δαιμονιολήπτους και μαινομένους καλούσι πάντες. Just. Apol. i. pulg. ii. Oper. p. 50.
Whether this common notion may be properly used to explain the nature of demoniacal possession as described in the New Testament; that is to say, whether we may suppose the demoniacs to be possessed, not by devils properly so called, but by the souls of wicked men departed, I shall not pretend to determine. This, at least, is certain, that no where is any individual described as being possessed by a devil or a otáßolos: the malady is universally assigned to the agency of demons. Nor will the solitary passage, in Acts x. 38, form any exception : for, since Satan is represented as the prince of the demons, those, who were possessed by his agents, whatever might be the precise character of those agents, were of course brought under his power. Comp. Justin. Apol. i. vul. ii. Oper. p. 55.
I may be permitted to note yet another remarkable circumstance. Throughout the entire New Testament, the word devil or diabolus, when applied to an evil spirit, is never used in the plural number. We read of men being diaboli, in the sense of false accusers (2 Tim. iii, 3. Tit. ii. 3.): but we never read of evil spirits, collectively styled diaboli or devils. The word diabolus, as applied to a fallen spirit, invariably occurs only in the singular number, and is invariably and in the way of bad eminence applied to the being whom we ordinarily denominate Satan. So far as scriptural phraseology is concerned, we hear of many demons, but only of one devil.
IV. The false prophet or the man of sin, who is mainly concerned in the working of these lying miracles, himself, of course, well knows, that the whole is an imposture: and the revived seventh head of the Roman beast is too much of an infidel politician not to laugh secretly at the pious frauds, which he willingly employs for the promotion of his own ambitious purposes. But, with the kings of the earth, the delusive spirits so far succeed, as to form them into one vast confederacy under the beast of the revived seventh head, and to gather them (an unseemly mixture of blaspheming infidels and bigoted Romanists) to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
Under the sixth vial, the confederacy is completed : under the seventh vial, the announced battle is fought.