The earth, in the antichristian universe, signifies the people at large, or the Christian vulgar; the footstool (to its shame be it spoken,) of Antichrist, constructed on which, as on a base, the hierarchal papal edifice, like the tower of Babylon, lifts its head to the ethereal regions, -- |Vertice ad auras ætherias tendit.| On this earth of the beast, the first phial being poured out, it contracted an ailment from the effusion, so as to fill the followers of the beast with fury and violence as with ulcers, and those so fierce and malignant, that they could not be cured, nay, even a tendency to healing could not be brought on without being broken again, and thereby renewed.
This was fulfilled, when the lower orders of Christians, whether known by the names of the Waldensians, Albigensians, Wicliffites, Hussites, or by any other names, began every where to renounce the authority of the beast, crying out, that Rome was the apocalyptical Babylon, and that the pope was Antichrist. By which vapour on the earth, now glowing with the wrath of God, the followers of the beast being affected, grew all very hot with the sores of grief and indignation, by which, excited to rage, they dealt most cruelly with fire and flame against their opponents, in a wonderful manner for many years; but in vain, for they were disquieted by a bad and incurable ulcer, which the more they agitated themselves, became so much the worse from day to day. So formerly the land of Egypt, sprinkled by the Divine command with ashes of the furnace, rendered all the servants of Pharaoh, and their cattle, full of ulcers.
Now the world of the beast is in ch. xi. spiritually called Egypt, and therefore this plague of the ulcers is to be spiritually interpreted, that is, mystically, and by analogy, and this likewise in the figurative representation of the two following plagues, is to be diligently observed.