on Revelation 16 :11
Blasphemed the God of heaven - Neither did they repent; therefore other judgments must follow. Some think that the sun was Vitellius, the Roman emperor, and that his throne means Rome; and the darkening refers to the injuries she sustained in her political consequence by the civil wars which then took place, from which she never entirely recovered. Others apply it all to papal Rome, and in this respect make out a very clear case! Thus have men conjectured, but how much nearer are we to the truth?
on Revelation 16 :11
And blasphemed the God of heaven - The same effect which it was said would be produced by the pouring out of the fourth vial, Revelation 16:9.
Because of their pains and their sores - Of the calamities that had come upon them.
And repented not of their deeds - See the notes on Revelation 16:9. Compare Revelation 9:21.
In regard to the fulfillment and application of this, the following general remarks may be made here:
(a) It would succeed, at no great interval probably, what is referred to under the previous "vials," and would be one in the series tending to the same result.
(b) It would fall directly on the seat of the authority of the "beast" - on the central power of the papacy, according to the interpretation of the other symbols; and we should look, therefore, for some calamity that would come upon Rome itself, and still more specifically upon the pope himself, and those immediately around him.
(c) This would be attended with deep distress and darkness in the papal dominions.
(d) There would be an increase of what is here called "blasphemy"; that is, of impiety and reproaches of the Divine Being.
(e) There would be no repentance produced. There would be no reformation. The system would be as corrupt as it was before, and people would be as much under its influence. And,
(f) we should not expect that this would be the final overthrow of the system. That is reserved for the outpouring of the seventh and last vial in the series Revelation 16:17-21, and under that the system would be overthrown, and would come to an end. This is distinctly stated in the account of that "vial"; and therefore we are not to expect to find, in the application of the fifth "vial," that the calamity brought upon "the seat of the beast" would be such that it would not recover for a time, and maintain, apparently, in some good degree, its former power and influence.
With this view of what we are to expect, and in connection with the explanations of the previous symbols, it seems to me that there can be no hesitation in applying this to the direct attacks on the papal power and on the pope himself, as one of the consequences of the French revolution, and to the calamities that were thus brought upon the papal States. In order to show the appropriateness of this application, I will state a few facts which will show that, on the supposition that it was the intention in this symbol to refer to the papal power at that time, the symbol has been well chosen, and has been fulfilled. And, in doing this, I will merely copy from Alison's History of Europe (vol. 1, pp. 542-546) a few statements, which, like many that have been quoted from Mr. Gibbon in the former part of these notes, would seem almost to have been penned in view of this prophecy, and with a view to record its fulfillment. The statement is as follows:
"The Ecclesiastical States were the next object of attack. It had long been an avowed object of ambition with the Republican government to revolutionize the Roman people, and plant the tricolor flag in the city of Brutus," and fortune at length presented them with a favorable opportunity to accomplish the design.
"The situation of the pope had become, since the French conquests in Italy, in the highest degree precarious. Cut off by the Cisalpine Republic from any support from Austria; left by the treaty of Campo Formio entirely at the mercy of the French republic; threatened by the heavings of the democratic spirit within his own dominions; and exposed to all the contagion arising from the complete establishment and close vicinity of republican governments in the north of Italy, he was almost destitute of the means of resisting so many seen and unseen enemies. The pontifical treasury was exhausted by the immense payments stipulated by the treaty of Tolentino; while the activity and zeal of the revolutionary clubs in all the principal towns of the Ecclesiastical States was daily increasing with the prospect of success. To enable the government to meet the enormous demands of the French army, the principal Roman families, like the pope, had sold their gold, their silver, their jewels, their horses, their carriages - in a word, all their valuable effects; but the exactions of the republican agents were still unabated.
In despair they had recourse to the fatal expedient of issuing a paper circulation; but that, in a country destitute of credit, soon fell to an inconsiderable value, and augmented rather than relieved the public distress. Joseph Bonaparte, brother to Napoleon, had been appointed ambassador at the court of Rome; but as his character was deemed too honorable for political intrigue, Generals Duphot and Sherlock were sent along with him, the former of whom had been so successful in effecting the overthrow of the Genoese aristocracy. The French embassy, under their direction, soon became the center of the revolutionary action; and those numerous ardent characters with which the Italian cities abound, flocked there as to a common focus, from whence the next great explosion of democratic power was to be expected. In this extremity, Pius VI., who was above eighty years of age, and sinking into the grave, called to his counsels the Austrian general Provera, already distinguished in the Italian campaigns; but the Directory soon compelled the humiliated pontiff to dismiss that intrepid counselor. As his recovery then seemed hopeless, the instructions of government to their ambassador were to delay the proclamation of a republic until his death, when the vacant chair of Peter might be overturned with little difficulty; but such was the activity of the revolutionary agents, that the train was ready to take fire before that event took place, and the cars of the Romans were assailed by incessant abuse of the ecclesiastical government, and vehement declamations in favor of republican freedom.
on Revelation 16 :11
16:11 And they - His followers. Gnawed their tongues - Out of furious impatience. Because of their pains and because of their ulcers - Now mentioned together, and in the plural number, to signify that they were greatly heightened and multiplied.