Charles Rollin Burdick.

Before the dawn : a poem ; with introductory lectures on prophetic symbols : portraying the last great conflicts which result in the downfall of papal domination, the destruction of political and ecclesiastical despotism, and the removal of other hindrances to Christianity in the nineteenth century online

. (page 1 of 19)
Online LibraryCharles Rollin BurdickBefore the dawn : a poem ; with introductory lectures on prophetic symbols : portraying the last great conflicts which result in the downfall of papal domination, the destruction of political and ecclesiastical despotism, and the removal of other hindrances to Christianity in the nineteenth century → online text (page 1 of 19)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


OF Tin-:




Received October, 1894.
Class No.

0? TH1

















Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1871, by

in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.


Stercotypcrs, Printers and Binders^





I. The Great War in Europe in 1870, 7

II. The French Revolution in Prophecy, IS

III. England and Italy in Propliecy, 27

IV. Napoleon Bonaparte in Prophecy, 33

V. The City of Rome, the Seat of the Beast, in Prophecy ;

or, Despotism as a hindrance to Christianity, .... 43

VI. The same, continued, 51

VII. America in Prophecy, 61

VIII. The same, continued, 75

IX. Paris, under the Fifth Vial, . 84

X. The Sick Man of Constantinople in Prophecy, 94

XI. The Seventh Vial, 104

XII. The Darkness and Tempest before the Dawn, 114


Canto I. Night and Storm, 125

Canto II. The False Prophet, 203

Canto III. The last Premillennial Conflict, 263




THE object of the author in presenting the following
volume to the public, is to call increased attention to
the wonderful book from which the theme of the poem
is drawn, and, if possible, to awaken interest in the
great subjects there shadowed forth, in the minds
of those who have hitherto rejected the claims of
Christianity as a divine revelation. He is well aware
that the book of Revelation has been quite generally
regarded as a sealed book, whose mysteries might not
be pierced by the inquiring or the curious ; but if " all
scripture is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for
correction, for instruction in righteousness," surely it
cannot have been the Divine plan that this book
should remain unstudied. Its sublime symbols, finding
their fulfillment in the passing events of history, were
designed to rebuke skepticism and strengthen the
Christian s faith.

The author has made no attempt to be critical in his
exposition. Neither does he claim that his views are,
in the main, original. His chief object has been to


enforce the views taken by our recent standard expos
itors, and, by vivid pictures, to impress them perma
nently upon the mind and heart of the reader, while,
at the same time, he has felt at liberty to depart
from the authorities in some particulars.

The lectures were presented, in course, to his congre
gation in the city of Joliet, 111., in the fall of 1870 and
spring of 1871.

The poem has occupied all the time he could devote
to it, without interfering with his pastoral duties, for
more than two years past. He wrote it because he
loves to sing, in his humble way, of those great struggles
and glorious triumphs of his Master s Kingdom, which
precede the blessed Millennium.

He feels sure that he cherishes no unworthy ambi
tion, if he would attempt to consecrate the noble
Spenserian stanza to the uses of Christianity.

He offers his first book to an intelligent public,
humbly wishing, hardly daring to hope, that he may
thus be instrumental in hastening the final triumph
of the Messiah s Kingdom in the world. If the Church
wants it and it helps her in any degree, he will be more
than rewarded for all his toil.




And oh ! this night brings tempests in its train. CANTO I, STANZA n.

And I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat
like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his
hand a sharp sickle.

And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to
him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap : for the time is
come for thee to reap ; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.

And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth ; and the
earth was reaped.

And another angel came out of the temple .which is in heaven, he also
having a sharp sickle.

And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire ;
and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust
in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth ; for
her grapes are fully ripe.

And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine
of the earth, and cast it into the great wine-press of the wrath of God.

And the wine-press was trodden without the city, and blood came out
of the wine-press, even unto the horse-bridles, by the space of a thousand
and six hundred furlongs. REV. xiv. 14-20.

THIS is an epitome of what follows, until Satan is bound
for a thousand years, as represented in the twentieth chapter.
Under the startling and awful symbols of our text, the
apostle makes a general statement, and then goes on, in the
following chapters, to particularize. It is a synopsis of what
is contained under the symbolism of the seven vials. I do
not, therefore, pretend to find a specific fulfillment of these
awful prophecies in the events of the present time. Yet I
do believe that a general history, in its relation to Chris
tianity, of the latter part of the eighteenth and of the nine
teenth centuries, up to the present time, is shadowed forth in


the symbols of this part of the Word of God. I have given
the subject a great deal of thought, and my conclusions are
not founded on mere fancies. The resemblance of these
symbols to what I believe to be their substance, is too
striking to pass unnoticed by the careful student of the

After much study I have adopted, so far as I dare, what
seems to me to be the most rational interpretation of the
symbols of the beast and of the woman who sat upon his
back, clothed in scarlet, as described in the seventeenth
chapter ; though, of course, I do not pretend that the events,
when they transpire, may not furnish a better, and, perhaps,
an essentially different, interpretation. As it seems to me,
the beast with seven heads and ten horns symbolizes Polit
ical Despotism Monarchism, Imperialism, Absolutism as
found in the seven principal countries of Europe England,
France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Russia, and Prussia. I will
not strenuously contend that those seven kingdoms are the
specific ones shadowed forth by the heads of this monster,
nor that the ten horns are the kings increased by the subor
dinate kings of Germany. Yet all will agree that there is
some resemblance. But I am convinced that the woman
symbolizes Ecclesiastical Despotism, seated on the back 01
political power, without which she could not, in our day,
execute her decrees. You will find Ecclesiastical Despotism
chiefly among the Papal powers, but not exclusively. The
English and Greek churches have had some share in eccle
siastical domination, and their garments are not entirely free
from the blood of persecution. So even the Presbyterians
and Puritans have had some share in persecution. But as
religious despotism has been chiefly confined to Rome, John
locates its throne upon the seven hills.

When the student of history sees that all the great wars
that have shaken the world for a hundred years, have
resulted in weakening these two powers, sweeping away one
after another of their supports, even when the thunders have
not been directly launched upon either of them, he must be
skeptical, indeed, if he cannot see Eternal Providence riding
on the storm, and directing the winds where to blow, and the
bolts where to fall.


We find in prophecy that the woman fell first. Babylon
is first proclaimed fallen, then " the beast which was and is
not, and yet is," goes down in the last great battle, when the
angel standing in the sun calls to the fowls of heaven to
" Come and gather themselves together to the supper of the
great God, to eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of cap
tains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses
and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both
free and bond, both small and great."

Ecclesiastical Despotism to-day trembles when she sees
her defenders march away to a distant land to be swallowed
up in the maelstrom which ambition has stirred up on the
stormy waters of strife, and turns pale when she hears the
murmur of rising peoples and the tramp of armies hastening
to hurl her down from her seat on the seven hills. I say
ecclesiastical despotism ; I do not say the Roman Catholic
Church, for it would be a great calamity if that should be
destroyed ; but the power that dominates her shall be cast
down, and she, like the nations, shall be enfranchised.

You remember how the revolution of 1789 rolled its surges,
not only against the throne of kings, but also that of reli
gious despotism, and bore away some of their strongest
supports. Then the wars of Napoleon Bonaparte, though in
the service of the most absolute despotism, launched their
thunders upon the head of this power, and under their
shocks it almost went down. True, it raised its head again
above the waves, but it was shorn of much of its prestige.
Then during the revolutions in Italy, where the fifth vial was
poured out upon the throne of the beast, and especially in
Italian unity, so hopefully initiated by the battles of Magenta
and Solferino, and thus far perfected by the battle of Sadowa
the same event liberalizing Austria, its chief bulwark eccle
siastical despotism received most stunning blows. The abo
lition of serfdom in Russia, and the destruction of slavery
in this country, after one of the most tremendous struggles
of history, are great events bearing directly on political des
potism, and more remotely on religious. I refer the reader
to my poem further on, which embodies my thoughts on this
subject, rendering it unnecessary to repeat them here.


It is not for me to say that Louis Napoleon stands forth in
the foreground of history to-day, as the fulfillment of any
distinct prophetic symbol. I do not see him in any symbol,
nor anything, as it seems to me, that would suggest him to
any unprejudiced mind; yet, doubtless, his form was seen
by the prophet, blended with other forms which crowd the
great canvas of Eternal Providence, as objects are blended by
distance on a landscape, and I do not doubt but he has had
an important part in the fulfillment of prophecy, and I have
never doubted what the termination of his reign would be.
In prosecuting my work on the poem which follows these lec
tures, about a year ago, (October, 1869,) I sketched the
campaigns of the first Napoleon, in northern Italy, as the
highly probable fulfillment of the symbolism of the third
vial. At the close of the sketch I introduced what seemed
to me to be a still further fulfillment of this terrible sym
bolism, a short sketch of the Franco-Italian campaign
against the power of Austria, in that same country of rivers
and fountains. I quote a few lines, as they will not appear,
in this form, in the poem :

But all that vial was not spent,
Though many streams with blood were blent,
Till fifty years, when in that land,
Another scourge of God should stand.
Exalted to his uncle s throne

By revolution s shifting tide,
He grasped a scepter not his own.

But for a season to abide,
To beat the nations, as a rod,
In hand of an avenging God ;

Then to be vilely cast aside,

All shorn of power and crushed in pride.
That fate is thine, Napoleon,
Of Rome, self-styled, the eldest son.

Of course I make no claim to prophetic vision, nor, indeed,
to any extraordinary sagacity ; but I wrote the above when
there was no political cloud in the heavens to portend the
fearful storm that is now sweeping over France ; because I
believed in God, in his revelation, in eternal right and in
the final triumph of civil liberty along with a pure religion ;
both of which are grandly shadowed forth in the prophetic


symbols we are considering of both of which Louis
Napoleorj, with all his large professions, has shown himself
a most unscrupulous enemy. It is true that none of us
are yet certain as to what. his ultimate fate may be; yet it
now looks very much as if he had been " vilely cast aside,
all shorn of power and crushed in pride," by the swirls of
the whirlwind which he himself has evoked from the stormy

Contemplate the fearful campaign whose thunders have
startled the world for the last two months, and tell me if
ever the hand of God was more distinctly visible in human
affairs. Everything about it has disappointed ordinary
human calculation. The world was astonished and indig
nant when Napoleon, on the most flimsy pretext possible,
declared war and hurried his army away to invade Prussian
territory. All have been astonished at the amazing rapidity
of the mobilization of the Prussian army, so rapid that
William was ready to strike the first blow. Who ever heard
of three-quarters of a million of men drawn so quickly from
every part of the kingdom, and hurled so furiously against
the would-be invaders ? We were astonished to see the
tables turned, and a great host invading France, instead of
Germany. We have been filled with admiration at the won
drous, unity of the German people ; and the sagacity of
statesmen has been put to fault by the course which the
South German States have taken in the conflict. The world
has been filled with amazement at the unbroken series of
brilliant victories that have crowned the German arms, and
at the rapidity with which the magnificent army of France
has melted away under the steady but terrific assaults of her
invincible foes. And we are bewildered at the unparalleled
spectacle of a hundred thousand Frenchmen surrendering in
Sedan at discretion, with the emperor himself, and his gen
erals, arms, munitions and standards. We instinctively
exclaim : Where are the valor and generalship of Austerlitz,
of Jena and Auerstadt? And so, when the veil of the con
flict lifts and displays more perfectly the gory wrecks of the
battle-field, no doubt the world will be astonished and
appalled at the fearful slaughter of victims by the terrible
engines of destruction which civilization, or barbarism, has


introduced into the warfare of the nineteenth century. To
cap the climax, the world is amazed at the rapidity and
apparent hopelessness of the downfall of the most formid
able despotism of the age.

I have read with wonder and awe about the rapid advance
of Alexander into the East, when, before his invincible pha
lanxes, the Persian legions went down on the fearful fields of
the Granicus, of Isus, of Arbela, and other fields, which in
twelve years erected the great Macedonian Empire, with
Babylon for its capital. With wonder I have followed Han
nibal, the Carthaginian general, across Gibraltar, through
Spain, over the Pyrenees, through Gaul, and over the Alps
into Italy, his wonderful campaign culminating in the terrific
battle of Lake Thrasymene, in whose roar an earthquake
which shook the continent and overthrew cities, passed
unheeded by the opponents. I know something of the cam
paigns of Julius Cresar, who spread the Roman Empire over
Switzerland, Gaul, Germany, and a large part of Britain. I
have studied quite carefully the campaigns of Napoleon.
But I find nothing in all these that can equal this campaign,
not even in Napoleon s masterpiece, as it has been called,
the campaign of Austerlitz. Results which formerly would
have required years to accomplish, have been achieved in
two short months. What but the hand of God is hurrying
up affairs to make room for the grand coming events whose
greatness casts their shadows before ? He hath said of the
world, "I will overturn, overturn, overturn it," to prepare the
way for the reign of his Son.

Of course it is too early to speak with certainty in refer
ence to the ultimate results of this fearful campaign. But
one thing seems to be taken for granted by all : the Empire
of Louis Napoleon Bonaparte is at an end. There are none
among the nations, and few even in France, so poor as to do
him reverence. Held as a prisoner in a German fortress,
which at the same time affords an asylum to him from the
fury of his quondam subjects, he is to-day an object of com
miseration, rather than of fear.

But one of the impending results of the fall of the French
Empire is the destruction of the temporal power of the Pope,
and the end of ecclesiastical despotism in Italy. Imperial


France was its last powerful supporter. When her armies
embarked from Rome, the city was left at the mercy of
Italian troops, which, beyond all doubt, will soon occupy it,
and make it the capital of United Italy. The Papacy has
nothing to hope from a French Republic ; and should that
fail, as many of its friends fear it will, years must elapse, if
the time ever comes, when France will have gained anything
like the position she has lately occupied among the nations.
Ere that time the last vestige of ecclesiastical despotism
may have been swept from the earth forever; or other
nations may so far outstrip France that she cannot afford
protection to the Papal power, should she have any incli
nation that way. So this great war has knocked another
strong pillar from beneath that colossal power which, at one
time, dominated the world, and even now, in its dotage, shows
immense vitality. True, it is not destroyed, but it hastens
to its downfall.

And so there can be no doubt that this dreadful war will
strike an equally strong blow upon political despotism. We
know that Sadowa liberalized Austria, whatever may have
been the intentions of Prussia. We see that this war has
overthrown imperialism in France and erected a French
Republic, whatever may be its future fate. It cannot be
that such expense of blood and treasure, solely in the inter
ests of despotism, will fail to open the eyes of nations, and to
hasten the time when it shall be an established maxim that
government is for the people, and not for those who hold
its reins.

However this may be, we may rest in the conclusion that
the destinies of Europe, and, so far as it goes, of the world,
will be safer under German, than under French leadership.
We may hope for a more liberal international policy, so far
as German influence can establish it. German ideas are
more nearly abreast of the age than French ; and, in all good
conscience, we hope and believe that the tone of public
morality is much higher in Germany. If she stands at
the head of the nations of Europe, these things must have
their influence, and they will help to shape its international


The greatness of Prussia is not so much in the diplomacy
of her statesmen, nor in the strategy, generalship and
bravery of her armies, as in the universal education of her
masses. When the predecessor of William nobly resolved,
at the risk of his throne, to instruct the masses by a system
of free schools, he laid the foundation of the greatness of
Prussia. Her people thus have an immense advantage over
the uneducated masses of France. While the French sol
dier, only inspired to battle by the vision of glory, little
capable of realizing the moral aspects of the struggle he
may be engaged in, is demoralized when his bubble is
pierced by the bayonets of defeat, the German, having
decided that he is fighting for a principle, and capable of
reasoning on the subject, esteems temporary defeat an honor,
and, with more unyielding determination, nerves himself
anew for the conflict whose success with him is a moral cer
tainty, because it is right. Had the armies of Napoleon the
First met the soldiers of William on the tremendous fields
of Jena and Auerstadt, the result of that awful day of bat
tles would, undoubtedly, have been different. That the
Germans believe that they have been repelling unprovoked
aggression in this conflict, no one doubts ; and all thinking
men will admit that this is one great secret of their success.
So one great lesson of this war, to rulers and statesmen, is,
to educate the masses. It is time to dismiss the idea that
ignorance in the common soldier promotes obedience that
the thinking bayonet is not the ready instrument of thorough
military discipline. It ts, doubtless, true that the soldier
must be ignorant to be the ready tool of an unmitigated des
potism. But if he is to fight for humanity, and not to
decide the quarrels of kings, in which he really has very
little interest, he must be educated. Religious, moral and
intellectual instruction for the masses, is the great want of
France to-day. Without it, we have little hope of her main
taining a republican form of government. If the Republic
can retain its power until the light of science and of a pure
religion beams upon the darkened masses, we may hope that
ii will become permanent, but not without.

The sympathizers with France and it is a little curious
that these are nearly all Catholics claim that this struggle


has none of the features of a religious war. They refer, by
way of proof of the correctness of their claim, to the exam
ple of the Catholic States of Germany. If Catholicism,
they ask, were arrayed against Protestant Prussia, why
should not these States be against her? But this is no proof.
The Emperor calculated upon their siding with him, and all
thinking men will see that Catholicism was the chief ground
of this expectation. But he reckoned without his host. The
Ecumenical Council had been in session at Rome ; the dogma
of Papal Infallibility had been proclaimed, against the pro
tests of German bishops. Estranged, to a great extent, by
this, from Rome, these States would naturally follow their
national sympathies. So, the folly of the Pope has aided in
the downfall of Napoleon, and hastened his own. And it
does not appear that Jesuitism did not connive with
Napoleon s ambition to cripple the strongest Protestant
power on the continent, thus to forward its own schemes of
ambition. The result appears in a dethroned and captive.
Emperor, the great army of France defeated, demoralized,
almost annihilated, and a victorious Prussian army, swarm
ing like grasshoppers around doomed and trembling Paris,
and thundering at her gates. Future historians will place
William among the champions of Protestantism, along with
Frederick the Great. Thus, in our day, Providence has
raised up the German power, a granite mountain, against
which Latinism. has been dashed to pieces in the behalf of
human liberty.

The moral lessons of these great events cannot be enumer
ated here. We can only glance at some of them. One is
Providential retribution in the affairs of nations. Jesus
Christ said, long ago, " All they that take the sword shall
perish by the sword." We have seen this verified in history
too often to be skeptical. The first Napoleon carved his
way to the Empire of France, and to the dictatorship of
Rome and of Europe, with his merciless sword. The star
of his destiny began to wane on the frozen steppes of
Russia; it was shaken from its hight on the tremendous
field of Leipsic, to rise again, to blaze for a hundred days in
the eyes of an astonished world, but it set in blood on the
awful fiejid of Waterloo. The third Napoleon followed in


his uncb s steps, so far as his genius and the spirit of the
age would permit wading through the blood of revolution
to an imperial throne. The sword of execution raised him
to his throne ; the sword of Jehovah, in the hand of Ger
many, has laid him low. And the last act in this drama is
the most striking illustration of all. He took the sword, on
.he most shallow pretext, to humble an envied rival; it is
turned against his own bosom, and he is smitten from his

Here is another astonishing lesson of Providence. The
Pope had just arrived at the summit of his earthly ambition ;
he had just procured the pompous proclamation of his own
infallibility, when lo ! the shifting scene ! The bayonets
which have upheld his waning power are withdrawn from his
support; his last imperial defender is crushed under the

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Online LibraryCharles Rollin BurdickBefore the dawn : a poem ; with introductory lectures on prophetic symbols : portraying the last great conflicts which result in the downfall of papal domination, the destruction of political and ecclesiastical despotism, and the removal of other hindrances to Christianity in the nineteenth century → online text (page 1 of 19)