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saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets." These seven trumpets are to be the signals for the ushering in so many distinct judgments on apostate Christians. * And another angel carne and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offerit with the prayers of the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God, out of the angel's hand. The corruption of the Christian church which had taken place, and the evils which quickly followed in its train, became a subject of serious concern to those who still adhered to the truth; and the vindication of dishonoured Christianity, as well as of oppressed innocence, was the subject of their earnest prayers. God heard them. “And the angel took the censer and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake." All these expressions are significant of wars and commotions of nations, and are intimations of what is to be expected under the following trumpets, or possibly they were intended to represent those commotions which should agitate the Roman empire, between the death of Constantine and the sounding of the first trumpet, which should bring the invasion of the Goths; that is, between the years 337 and 376. In this interval the family of Constantine, his three sons, who divided the empire among them, and all bis relations perished, chiefly by assassination and intestine wars, within the space of twenty-seven years. And so fierce and bloody was the war between Constantius, who reigned in Asia and the east, and Magnentius, who had procured the assassination of Constans, and had assumed the purple in Italy, that, as Victor observes, it almost ruined the whole strength of the Roman empire. But this was only the prelude to much greater calamities.
Ver. 7. “ The first angel sounded, and there followed hail, and fire, mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth; and the third part of trees were burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.” This first trumpet brings a terrible storm from the north, the region of hail; and the nature of the storm shews the nature of the judgment, it was bail and fire mingled with blood, which denotes wars, and appears to have been a prediction of the terrible inun
dations of the Goths, who, about the year 376, broke in upon, and laid waste a great part of Europe.
Ver. 8. “ The second angel sounded, and, as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea; and the third part of the sea became blood,” &c. This appears to be a prediction of the irruption of the Vandals, who, about the year 406, made a terrible invasion into the western and maritime parts of Europe, and bore down all before them; so that France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy, were made a prey of, and Rome itself was made to pay for its liberty. Here they settled themselves for a while, till toward the period of the third trumpet, they went into Africa, and there founded the kingdom of the Vandals.
Ver. 10. “And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of water; and the name of the star is called wormwood; and the third part of the waters became wormwood, and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter." This blazing star, or comet, is Attila, who, with his Huns, A. D. 452, made a terrible invasion into the western parts, laying waste the countries about the Danube and Rhine, the greatest rivers in Europe, and especially Lonibardy, which is watered by the Po. His mission seems to have been particularly against this latter country. Right well did he call himself, The scourge of God, and the terror of man. For fourteen years he shook both the east and west with the most cruel fear, laying waste the provinces, by plundering, fire, and sword. After having wasted 'Thrace, Macedon, and Greece, he turned his arms against the western empire: he entered Gaul with 700,000 men, set most of the cities on fire; but going beyond the bounds of this trumpet, he met with a successful resistance, on which he turned his force against Lombardy, took and destroyed Aquilea, with several other cities, slaying the inhabitants, and laying the buildings in ashes. From the Alps to the Appenine, all was flight, depopulation, slaughter, bondage, burning, and desperation. He was preparing to march to Rome, but was diverted from his purpose by a solemn embassy from the emperor, and the promise of an annual tribute; and so concluding a truce, he retired out of Italy, and passed into his own dominions beyond the Danube.
Whoever casts an eye upon a map of this country, which he thus ravaged and depopulated, and which comprehend
ed almost all the north of Italy, viz. Piedmont, Milan, most of the territory of Venice, Mantua, Parma, Modena, and several other provinces, he will instantly perceive the aptitude of the description of this judgment, it was to fall upon the third part of the rivers and fountains of water, or, on the rivers and fountains of one of the third parts of the Roman empire, and the waters were to become wormwood, &c. Besides its lakes, no country in Europe is so intersected with rivers. There are not fewer than three hundred, reckoning the numerous branches, with their several considerable streams, which fall into the Po, the Adriatic, the Danube, and the Rhine. Perhaps, at some future time, not far distant, the comparing of what may take place in the overthrow of Antichrist, with this judgment which fell on those countries especially which are watered by these rivers and lakes, may help us to understand that other judgment, represented in Rev. xvi. 4. 7. by the pouring out of the third vial upon the rivers and fountains of water.
Ver. 19. “ And the fourth angel sounded, and the third
part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.” This trumpet also doubtless relates to Europe, and perfects that for which the other trumpets prepared the way; the extinction of the western empire; for there appear no events to which this extinguishing of the third part of the sun, moon, and stars, can be so properly applied as to what took place towards the end of the fifth century, when the western emperor, and his subordinate governors, were utterly extinguished, and an entire end was put to the very remainders of the Roman Cæsars. This was effected by the fourth inundation of the barbarous nations, when the Heruli, under Odoacer, their leader, invaded Italy, about the year 476 A.C. and having conquered Augustulus, gave the mortal blow to the western einpire, and reduced all Italy under the dominion of the Barbarian, who assumed the title of King of Italy. About sixteen years after this, Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths, at the request of Zeno, emperor of the east, made war upon these invaders in their new settlement, conquered Ocoacer in several battles, and obtained, as the fruits of his victories, a kingdom for the Ostrogoths in Italy, which subsisted, under various turns of fortune, from the year 443 to 552.
The seat of go
vernment was now removed from Rome to Ravenna. This extinction of the imperial government, and humiliation of Rome, appears to be that to which the apostle Paul alludes, 2 Thes. Ü. 6, 7, 8. Thus he, or that, which hindered the man of sin from perfecting his schemes of ambition, was taken away, and free scope was given to the Popes to realize that spiritual monarchy, after which they had so long panted, but could not so easily effect while the Cæsars continued, and the civil government remained so near them.
Thus have we seen the dissolution of the Roman empire in Europe effected by the irruptions of the barbarous nations, not at once, but by degrees. From its ruins sprung up the ten kingdoms, which had been shewn to Nebuchadnezzar as the ten toes of a great image, (Dan. ii. 42.) and to Daniel and John as so many horns of monstrous and savage beasts. · Dan. vii. 7. Rev. xii. 3. xiii. 1.*
WHAT was the effect which all these great and constant calamities that we have been reviewing, produced on the minds of the sufferers ? Did they put a stop to corruption and reduce mankind to repentance? Instead of this, immorality, superstition, priestcraft, and cruel opprese , sions, civil and religious, seemed to increase in propor. tion to the corrections of Providence, and even to outstrip the calamities which precipitated the downfal of the Roman empire, Instead of turning to God by repentance, and seeking to him for protection, they multiplied their gods; and the only exhortations of the clergy were, “ The holy martyrs, our defenders, are present; they would be entreated, and they' seek that they may be sought. Seek, therefore, unto these helpers unto your prayers, find out these protectors of your guiltiness. Let St. Peter be now your helper in all things, that afterwards he may be able to forgive you your sins. Cant to the cross, wherein is the wood of the Lord's cross, and the hair of John the Baptist: we fetch always the comfort of our Saviour
* A more particular and accurate explanation of these third parts so often mentioned, and of these trumpets, will be found in the Third Port of this work.
through the intercession of his fore-runner.” Thus idolatry was grafted on the Christian profession; and these Antichristian apostates thought, by these devotions, and by making converts by fire and sword to the holy Catholic ehurch, to atone for their sins, and bribe the Divinity to interpose in their favour. But while they are chanting to saints and relics for peace, and shedding the blood of the saints as the price of safety, behold an angel flying through the midst of heaven, (ver. 13.) saying with a loud voice, “ Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabitants of the earth, by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels which are yet to sound!” The three last trumpets are called woe trumpets, and this because the plagues which were to come, either on account of their severity or longer duration, would be much more terrible than the four former.
Chap. ix. 1. “ And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth, and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.” Our commentators are generally agreed, that the judgment intended by this trumpet is very obvious, and cannot be easily mistaken. This falling star, or comet, is the grand impostor Mahomet, who, in the unsearchable operations of Providence, was the instrument of preparing a race of men, or monsters rather, for the scourging of apostate Christians. Mahomet commenced his career about the year of Christ, 608. Then he began to propagate his imposture, and to take upon himself the title of The Apostle of God. He did not pretend to deliver a new religion, but to revive that which had been given to Adam. In the year 622 he began to teach his disciples, that God had ordered him to propagate and enforce his religion by fire and sword. Accordingly, in 623, they began to put in practice this ed mission. Ver. 2. “ And he opened the bottomless pit, and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.” This smoke is his erroneous doctrine. Ver. 3. “And there came out of the pit locusts upon the earth, and to them was given power as the scorpions of the earth have power.” It does not comport with my limits, nor is it necessary to my design, to enter into the minutiæ of this part of John's vision; I shall only observe, that by these locusts, we are to understand the Saracens, the disciples of Mahomet, who, for so many years, were the scourge of the Greek and Latin churches, Asia and Europe. Here is no mention made of