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Sixth Edition, 1915
By Dr. John Thomas (first edition written 1861)



Chapter 16 Part I

Section 1 Subsection 3.

Historical Summary of

theĀ  Drying Up of the "Great River Euphrates"




Tillinghast, a commentator who wrote over 200 years ago, and quoted in Elliott's notes, in exposition of this vial says, "By the river Euphrates we are to understand the Ottoman or Turkish empire. It is called the great river because of the multitude of people and nations therein. The people who at the present time are of all others accounted the greatest are the Turks; who therefore, and no other, are here to be understood; especially as the Euphrates in Apoc. 9, under the sounding of the sixth trumpet, by general consent of expositors, has reference to the Turkish power".

The revolutionary wars of Europe, which had darkened the kingdom of the Beast, and scorched the worshippers of his Image with great heat, had passed away without seriously injuring the power of the Turks. It is true, that under the operation of the second vial, the French had conquered Egypt in 1798; but they were expelled by the British in 1801, who gave up the country to the Sultan; so that the political state of the Little Horn of the Goat's dominion became as before. This was so manifest that a Protestant writer in the year after, in speculating upon this vial, expressed his wonder how the prophecy was to be fulfilled; and a dominion, still so mighty in arms and population, could be wasted and dried up. "By what means," says he, "the Turkish empire shall be reduced to this helpless state (an empire formerly distinguished for its enthusiastic loyalty, ferocity and valor; and which is even at this day -1802 - as populous as any other upon earth, the Chinese excepted), is not intimated in this verse; and will perhaps remain concealed until the events themselves shall remove the veil However, this is certain, from the evident purport of the text, that a very extraordinary indifference or disaffection in the people to the government must take place to fulfil this part of the prophecy".

Affairs continued generally prosperous with the Turks till the commencement of 1820. "That year", it has been remarked, "the Ottoman empire, by unwonted good fortune, found itself freed at once from foreign war and domestic rebellion". But before the year was closed, the scene was wonderfully changed; and causes of exhaustion and distress were then introduced, which have continued their incessant operation, until at length the mighty empire of the Osmanlis, which used to make the heart of Babylon to faint, and her knees to tremble, has passed into a proverb as "the Sick Man," (*)soon to give up the ghost, and to leave the fragments of his estate to others.

The first cause that operated thus, was, as had been surmised, internal revolt and insurrection. The terminal epoch of the 1290 was now on hand. In the summer of 1820, Ah Pasha of Yanina asserted his independence; and by his revolt, the Greek insurrection, which had been for some time silently progressing, was precipitated. The inhabitants of the Greek islands called in their merchant ships; and in November, the Suliote Greeks returned to their country from the Ionian islands, and raised the standard of revolt against the Sultan, in alliance with Ah Pasha, their former oppressor. In February, 1821, Chourshid Pasha of Tripolizza, having marched from thence against Yanina, leaving the Morea almost destitute of Turkish troops, the Moreote Greeks broke out into insurrection, which quickly extended to the Aegean Isles and districts of Northern Greece, Epirus, and Thessaly; while, at the same time, the standard of revolt was raised also in the trans-Danubian provinces of Wallachia and Moldavia.

The progress and successful issue of the Greek insurrection is well known. This result was favored by an eruption of the Persians into the Asiatic provinces of Turkey in 1821 and 1822, when the Turks were subjected to heavy loss. The Greeks held the country in the Morea, while the Turks were shut up in the fortresses; and a Turkoman army of 30,000, that entered to reconquer it, having been destroyed in detail in1823, the freedom of the Peninsula was nearly completed by the insurgents. The insular Greeks were attended by almost uniform success in their maritime encounters with superior Turkish and Egyptian fleets, especially in their victorious engagements of September, 1824, in which the Turks lost twelve frigates, twenty brigs, and more than eighty transports. At length the sympathies of the European Babylon were awakened in their behalf, by the dreadful massacres perpetrated by the Turks, who spared neither men, women, nor children, in their terrible and remorseless warfare. In the Morea, Ibrahim Pasha being successful in reaching Patras, indulged in the indiscriminate slaughter of the inhabitants, and in the commission of irreparable and wanton devastation, by destroying the olive-trees and vineyards, and other productions of the soil. At this crisis, the tide of success seemed to be turned in favor of the Turks by Ibrahim's Egyptian government, which had almost completed the reconquest of the Morea. But, the decree of Heaven was against the Euphratean power; and the prophecy which the Greeks could not accomplish singlehanded, England, France, and Russia, in contravention of all their principles of policy, interposed to fulfil. Their friendly mediation between the belligerents being obstinately and persistently rejected by the Sultan, they determined to put a stop to his butcheries by force. They sent a fleet of twenty-six sail to Navarino, where they found the Turco-Egyptian armament of seventy sail drawn up in order of battle to receive them. The allies sought to avoid a conflict by friendly conference with the Turkish admiral; but the messenger was wantonly put to death, and a shot of defiance sent booming at the Asia, an English ship of the line. The salutation was promptly returned, and in a little time the action became general. The bloody and destructive bat-tle raged for four hours, and the scene of wreck and devastation was such as has been rarely witnessed. Sixty-two of the seventy Turkish vessels were burnt, sunk, or driven on shore complete wrecks. On board of the two line of battle ships, each with a crew of 850 men, there were killed, in one ship, 650, and in the other 400. The loss of the English and French was 118 killed and 341 wounded. Thus, in 1827, Greece was saved, and erected into a kingdom under the protection of the Allies; and by the destruction of the Turkish fleet, the way was prepared for other disasters, which quickly followed upon the devoted empire.

But, the Greek insurrection and foreign intervention simply would have still left the Ottoman empire a great and strong current of water. Its evaporation was to be expedited by the fatuous and suicidal policy of its Sultan, Mahmoud. This imperial reformer of the state perceiving that his haughty, tumultuous Janizaries, once the terror of the nations, were incapable any longer of contending with the order, discipline, and weapons of modern tactics, determined to subject them to a new military system. But to such an innovation they resolved not to submit. Finding, therefore, the hope of reforming, and thereby rescuscitating the Turkish military power, vain, the Sultan determined to destroy those troops whose ancestors had been to the Porte its chief arm of victory. While the Greek insurrection was in progress, he assembled 30,000 of them in Constantinople; and, on July 15, 1826, caused them to be surrounded in the square of the Etmeidan, and massacred by discharges of grapeshot; and on their retreating to their barracks, the barracks were set on fire, and the cannonading was continued against them the whole night following, until there remained no more victims or fuel for the one and the other. "The morning," says Mr. Walsh, "presented a frightful scene of burning ruins slaked in blood; - a huge mass of mangled flesh and smoking ashes".

To this destruction of its own power was added a most disastrous foreign war excited by its own infatuation; so true is it, Quem Deus vult perdere prius dementat - "whom the Deity wills to perish he first infatuates". The Sultan appealed to the fanaticism of the Mohammedan population against Russia; and, in April, 1828, Russian "orthodoxy" being thus insulted, appealed to arms in vindication of its honor. Prince Paskewitch pressed on from the Caucasian frontier to Erzeroum; while Count Diebitch, with varied success, in the campaign of 1829 took the entrenched camp of Schumla on the Danube; crossed the Balkan; entered Adrianople; and, in spite of the unfurling of the Prophet's Banner against him, threatened the immediate investment of Constantinople. But, the time, if ever, had not come for the transfer of the Little Horn of the Goat's capital, to the Autocrat of all the Russias. The diplomatic "Daemons" therefore of the other powers interposed their "good", but really jealous, offices, and peace was made. It was a peace, however, by the articles of which "the drying up of the Great River Euphrates" was greatly advanced. The treaty secured emancipation from the Ottoman yoke to the Catholic principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia under the guardianship mishmar, of the Russian Gog (Ezek. 38:7). The independence of Servia was also assured, and no Turk permitted to reside north of the Danube. But, this was not all the drying up of Turkish power at this period. In this same year, 1829, the French government landed an army of 40,000 on the African coast, and having defeated an equal force of Turks and Arabs, captured Algiers; and converted the Turkish province into a colony of France; thus, another of the sources of "the water of the Great River Euphrates" was "dried up".

Again, very soon after the termination of the war against Russia, Mehemet Ah, the Pasha of the Egyptian province of the Little Horn of the Goat, asserted his independence of the Sultan. He attacked and conquered the Turks in Syria and the Holy Land, in the three great battles of Hems, of Nezib, and of Iconium, in 1832 and 1833. He now aspired to the throne of the Sultan, and in 1838 advanced as far as Smyrna on his march to Constantinople. "Man proposes, but God disposes". The wrath of the sixth vial was to dry up, not to invigorate and renovate, "the water" or power, of "the Great River Euphrates". Had Mehemet Ah been allowed to depose the Sultan, and to set himself upon his throne, the Ottoman empire would have been vastly strengthened: Providence, therefore, caused the diplomatic "Daemons" of the Great City Babylon to interfere, that they might unconsciously "establish the vision". Russia, Austria, Prussia and England, weary of the war between the Pasha and the Sultan, interfered, and ordered Mehemet Ah to return to Egypt. They then proceeded to regulate the affairs of the East in accordance with their own policy. They ordered the Pasha to surrender Syria and the Holy Land to the Sultan, and to restore to him the Turkish fleet which had revolted during the war. Mehemet Ah refused to do either, contending that these countries were his by right of conquest for ever, and the fleet as the spoils of war. The four powers, however, (France was not consulted in this affair), were not to be trifled with. They were willing that the Egyptian Pashalic should be hereditary in his family; but resolved that he should only be Pasha of Syria for life. But even this was contrary to the Divine arrangement; his heart was therefore hardened against such an accommodation, and he refused to yield. The result was that the Allied Fleet bombarded the cities of the Syrian sea-board, and took possession of St. Jean d'Acre. They again offered him "all that part of Syria, extending from the Gulf of Suez to the Lake of Tiberias, to-gether with the province of Acre for life," if he would restore the Turkish fleet. But this offer did not suit the Deity; he was therefore still hardened to refuse, and to maintain what he considered his rights. Seeing that negotiation availed nothing, they proceeded in the autumn of 1840, to compel the Egyptians to evacuate the Promised Land, and determined that he should not have it at all; and threatened furthermore, that if he did not restore the fleet in ten days, they would make Alexandria too hot for his continuance there. Such a conclusion being in harmony with the Divine purpose, he was led to comply. He evacuated the country, and surrendered the ships within the time; thus he was forced back within the limits of his Turco-Egyptian Pashalic, which he was allowed to retain as the hereditary inheritance of his family under the suzerainty of the Porte; while Syria and the Holy Land to the shores of the Red Sea, were restored to the Constantinopolitan jurisdiction, which is more nominal than real in all the land.

To the operation of political and military causes in the drying up of the Great River, may be noted in addition, the depopulating judgments of the Deity himself. In the great Syrian earthquake of 1822, the walls of Aleppo, the capital, were thrown down, and 14,000 buried in the ruins; and at Antioch, and other towns and villages in the province, the sufferings and loss of life were in proportion. In 1821 the cholera broke out at Bussora, and carried off some 16,000 persons - near a fourth of its population: then ascending the Tigris to Bagdad, swept away a third of its inhabitants: and then, in 1822, advanced into Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt, with a like fearful mortality everywhere attending it. At the same time, the plague was in its usual way Wasting the Turkish population; and besides it, other extraordinary and mysterious epidemics. The cities of Mecca and Bagdad, more especially, were fearfully desolated. In the Bombay Gazette, of August, 1831, the report is given that Mecca and Medina had been completely depopulated by a dreadful disease, the nature of which was unknown. It broke out among the Mohammedan pilgrims, 50,000 of whom it carried off, including the governor of the Holy City of the Mussulmans. In Bagdad also, the ancient capital of the Caliphs, 50,000 of the inhabitants perished by the plague. To the horrors of disease were here added the desolation of the flood and of the sword. The missionaries stationed there thus narrate the terrible story:

"The plague prevailing to a fearful extent among the inhabitants, part of them attempted to escape into the country: but they were arrested by a sudden inundation of the Tigris, by which numbers perished; and the rest were driven back into the city. When at length it pleased God to stay the hand of the destroying angel, it was found that out of 80,000 human beings not more than 25,000 survived". The judgment of the sword then followed. "The plague had scarce ceased, and the waters subsided, when troops arrived in the name of the Sultan to depose the Pasha; and fierce and bloody contests succeeded". In another letter bearing date, Bagdad, April 23, 1831, they say, "Surely every principle of desolation is operating in the midst of the Ottoman empire; plagues, earthquakes, and civil wars. The Pasha's palace is left open, without a soul to take care of anything. His stud of beautiful Arab horses are running about the streets. Inquire what you will, the answer is, The City is desolate". With regard even to Constantinople, the chaplain of the British Embassy resident there from 1821 to 1831, thus writes, "Within the last twenty years Constantinople has lost more than half its population. Two conflagrations happened while I was there, and destroyed 15,000 houses. The Russian and Greek wars were a constant drain upon the Janizaries of the capital. The silent operation of the plague is continually active, though not always alarming. It will be no exaggeration to say that, within the period mentioned, from 300,000 to 400,000 have been prematurely swept away in this one city in Europe, by causes which were not operating in any other - conflagration, pestilence, and civil commotion".

Admitting, then, that "the Great River Euphrates" is the symbol of the Ottoman Power to whose empire it belongs, who can doubt that its water has been drying up during all the past forty-eight years; and that therefore we are assuredly contemporary with the outpouring of the sixth vial, in the course of which Christ reappears upon the earth? It is evident, that nothing supports the feeble remains of the once mighty power of Turkey, figuratively and proverbially styled "the Sick Man," but the Policy of the Antichristian Powers, founded upon their mutual jealousies and ambitions. The declared intention of France and England to maintain the integrity and independence of the Ottoman empire is evidence of its inability to defend itself against the strong. Its recent conflict in the little island of Candia illustrates its feebleness, and the shriveled condition of its power. The judgments of the sixth vial have made it the weakest of all the powers, except, perhaps, the other Sick Man of Rome. These two sick men, the representatives of the Two Little Horns, have both fallen upon evil times together; and both bid fair to "give up the ghost" in the same epoch. They have both in times past made the world to tremble; and now, in the righteous retributions of the Deity, they are made to tremble before the world. They have both been made sick, and made to lie at the gates of death, in the interest of the Saints, who are to supersede them in all the earth. The power of the Sick Man of Constantinople is to the power of the Sick Man of Rome, and his family of kings, as the Great River Euphrates to the Great City of Babylon. Christ and his Brethren, the Cyrus and Sanctified Ones of the 19th century, are the Divinely predetermined captors of this city. They are to enter it "as a thief", and to seize upon its thrones; but to enable them to do this with all the facility the situation may require, the Great River Euphrates has been dried up, and the way of the kings of the Resurrection-Sun duly prepared in all the region of "THE SOUTH".




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