with Keiran & Eraina Mckenzie
Third Edition, Revised and Enlarged.
OF THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST PUBLISHING ASSOCIATION.
BATTLE CREEK, MICH.:
THE SEVEN TRUMPETS.
The great leading features of Daniel’s visions were the four great governments of antiquity, beginning with the Babylonian, and ending with the Roman, in its papal form. Not so, however, with John; he lived when three of those governments had passed away, and the fourth and last was in being, and in the height of its glory as a universal monarchy. Under that government John was in banishment on the isle of Patmos, “for the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Accordingly, instead of predicting the rise and triumph of either of those four great governments, it was his part to give the prophetic history of the fall of the last of the four, and give us the various means by which that great persecuting system should come to ruin.
The first decisive step in the downfall of Rome, was the removal of the seat of empire from the West to the East. This transfer of the capital from Rome to Constantinople was accomplished by Constantine in A. D. 330. Until then, its unity had been very faithfully preserved. After that, division and subdivision became the order of the day, until the final ruin of the empire.
The sounding of the first four trumpets comes in as a complement to the prophecy of Dan. 2 and 7. It describes the fall of the Roman Empire, and the manner of breaking it up into ten parts as represented by the ten toes of the image, or the ten horns of the beast.
We see in Num. 10:9, and Zeph. 1:16, that the trumpet is a symbol of war. Hence, we say in the words of another: “The trumpets denote great political commotions to take place among the nations in this age.” The events, as set forth in our subject, must belong to the Christian dispensation from authority of the angel’s words: “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.”
In A.D. 337, we find the Roman Empire divided into three parts by Constantine the Great, and a part given to each of his three sons. It is on the ground of this division that we understand, in Rev. 8, where it speaks of the “third part of men,” it alludes to the part of the empire under the scourge. Constantius possessed the East, and fixed his residence at Constantinople, the new metropolis of the empire. Constantine the Second held Britain, Gaul, and Spain. Constans held Illyrica, Africa, and Italy. (See “Sabine’s Eccl. Hist.,” p. 155.) Of this well-known historical fact, Mr. Barnes, the commentator, in his notes on Rev. 12:4, says: “Twice, at least, before the Roman Empire became divided into the two parts, the Eastern and the Western, there was a tripartite division of the empire. The first occurred A.D. 311, when it was divided between Constantine, Licinius, and Maximin; the other, A.D. 337, on the death of Constantine, when it was divided between his three sons, Constantine, Constans, and Constantius.”
According to chronology, we find the last of the three sons above noticed died in A.D. 354, and in A.D. 356 the Huns, a tribe of barbarians, had increased to such a power that the Roman armies dare not assail them. We find them on both sides of the Ural chain of mountains, “inhabiting from the regions of perpetual snow to the Caspian Sea, and ravaging at will Europe on the one side and Asia on the other.” — Sheppard’s Fall of Rome.
An idea of the territory which they occupied may be had from the treaty which was made between them and the Romans. The parties met on the banks of the Danube at a place called Margus. Said the king of the Huns to the Roman envoys: “Break off all connection with the Ultra-Danubian tribes…. Increase your tribute from 300 to 700 pounds of gold. Do this, or war.” — Sheppard’s Fall of Rome.
The Roman ambassadors accepted the terms. We have, them, one of the toes of the metallic image, or one of the horns of the terrible beast, represented by the Huns.
The Goths were a tribe who at this time occupied Central Europe, but in A.D. 377, 378, divided themselves into two nationalities, and are known in history as Ostrogoths, who occupied the East (Mysia), and the Visigoths, who occupied the West (Pannonia). After their establishment as kingdoms, we may find them assisting, but not subservient to, the Roman power.
We now have the Roman Empire, which had ruled over the most of the habitable part of the world from the days of Augustus Caesar, dismembered. Three large parcels of its territory are occupied by barbarians, who neither pay tribute nor yield allegiance to its authority.
We can readily see, then, that here are brought to view three of the toes of the image, or three of the horns of the terrible beast.
As to the nature of these trumpets we differ from some expositors. They are, in our opinion, essentially different from the seven seals. While the seals give an inspired ecclesiastical history of the church, the trumpets are a symbolical prophecy of the uprooting of certain civil powers, as connected with the church.
In giving an outline of this subject, we shall, for the most part, follow Keith, in his “Signs of the Times,” on the first four trumpets. We should be glad to give his remarks and historical quotations entire, would our limits admit it.
The subject properly begins with the second verse of the eighth chapter; and the first verse should have been annexed to the seventh chapter, it being the conclusion of the opening of the seals.
In verses 2-5, of chap. 8, we have the prefatory remarks, preparatory to the sounding of the trumpets. Then follows the sounding of the first angel.
Verses 6, 7. “And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. 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 was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.”
Mr. Keith has very justly remarked on the subject of this prophecy: —
“None could elucidate the texts more clearly, or expound them more fully, than the task has been performed by Gibbon. The chapters of the skeptical philosopher that treat directly of the matter, need but a text to be prefixed, and a few unholy words to be blotted out, to form a series of expository lectures on the eighth and ninth chapters of Revelation.” “Little or nothing is left for the professed interpreter to do but to point to the pages of Gibbon.”
The first sore and heavy judgment which fell on Western Rome in its downward course, was the war with the Visigoths under Alaric. After the death of Theodosius, the Roman Emperor, in January, 395, before the end of the winter the Visigoths, under Alaric, were in arms against the empire. The Huns, whose territory lay east of the Ostrogoths, occupied mostly the country now known as Russia. In A.D. 395, they made war upon the Ostrogoths, and forced them into the territory of the Visigoths, The Ostrogoths submitted to the Huns for awhile, but we afterward find them independent.
The Visigoths, under Alaric, turned their forces to the Eastern tripartite division of the Roman Empire and overran Greece. It was in such a dry season of the year that the army could easily ford the streams. Vegetation was so dried up that the forest trees burned when ignited. They devastated the plains of northern Greece and slaughtered the inhabitants.
“Hail and fire, mingled with blood.” The terrible effects of this Gothic invasion are thus described by Gibbon, vol. iii. pp. * 190-194: —
(The edition we quote from is the new edition of Phillips, Sampson & Co., Boston, 1854.)
“The barbarian auxiliaries erected their independent standard, and boldly avowed hostile designs, which they had long cherished in their ferocious minds. Their countrymen, who had been condemned by the conditions of the last treaty to a life of tranquility and labor, deserted their farms at the first sound of the trumpet, and eagerly assumed the weapons which they had reluctantly laid down. The barriers of the Danube were thrown open; the savage warriors of Scythia issued from their forest; and the uncommon severity of the winter [that season of the year in which natural HAIL and SNOW occur] allowed the poet to remark that ‘they rolled their ponderous wagons over the broad and icy back of the indignant river.’ The unhappy nations of the provinces to the south of the Danube submitted to the calamities, which, in the course of twenty ears, were almost grown familiar to their imagination; and the various troops of barbarians, who gloried in the Gothic name, were irregularly spread from the woody shores of Dalmatia to the walls of Constantinople. The Goths were directed by the bold and artful genius of Alaric. In the midst of a divided court and a discontented people, the emperor, Arcadius, was terrified by the aspect of the Gothic arms. Alaric disdained to trample any longer on the prostrate and ruined countries of Thrace and Dacia, and he resolved to seek a plentiful harvest of fame and riches in a province which had hitherto escaped the ravages of war.
“Alaric traversed, without resistance, the plains of Macedonia and Thessaly. The troops which had been posted to defend the straits of Thermopylae retired, as they were directed, without attempting to disturb the secure and rapid passage of Alaric; and the fertile fields of Phocis and Boeotia were instantly covered with a deluge of barbarians, who massacred the males of an age to bear arms, and drove away the beautiful females, with the spoil and cattle of the flaming villages. The travelers who visited Greece several years afterward could easily discover the deep and bloody traces of the march of the Goths. The whole territory of Attica was blasted by his baneful presence; and if we may use the comparison of a cotemporary philosopher, Athens itself resembled the bleeding and empty skin of a slaughtered victim. Corinth, Argos, Sparta, yielded without resistance to the arms of the Goths; and the most fortunate of the inhabitants were saved, by death from beholding the slavery of their families, and the conflagration of their cities.”
It was thus that “hail,” from the fact of the northern origin of the invaders; “fire,” from the destruction by flame of both city and country; “blood,” from the terrible slaughter of the citizens of the empire by the bold and intrepid warriors, “were cast upon the earth.” The phrase, “cast upon the earth,” may refer to a general devastation, fulfilled not simply by the Visigoths under Alaric and his brother up to A. D. 414, when their kingdom became transferred and established in the western tripartite division of the empire; but, also, by other northern barbarians who were overrunning the middle and western divisions during the same period. See “Sheppard’s Fall of Rome,” pl 190.
The historian, Gibbon, thus graphically describes the prowess and success of Alaric: —
“The birth of Alaric, the glory of his past exploits, and the confidence in his future designs, insensibly united the body of the nation under his victorious standard; and, with the unanimous consent of the barbarian chieftains, the master-general of Illyricum was elevated, according to ancient custom, on a shield, and solemnly proclaimed [A. D. 403,] king of the Visigoths and all the tribes of kindred name. Armed with this double power, seated on the verge of the two empires, he alternately sold his deceitful promises to the courts of Arcadius and Honorius [of Constantinople and Rome], till he declared and executed his resolution of invading the dominions of the West [of Rome]. The provinces of Europe which belonged to the Eastern emperor were already exhausted, those of Asia were inaccessible, and the strength of Constantinople had resisted his attack. But he was tempted by the fame, the beauty, and the wealth of Italy, which he had twice visited; and he secretly aspired to plant the Gothic standard on the walls of Rome, and enrich his army with the accumulated spoils of three hundred triumphs.
“When Stilicho seemed to abandon his sovereign in the unguarded palace of Milan, he had probably calculated the term of his absence, the distance of the enemy, and the obstacles that might retard their march. He principally depended upon the rivers of Italy, the Adige, the Minico, the Oglio, and the Addua; which, in the winter or spring, by the fall of rains, or by the melting of the snows, are commonly swelled into broad and impetuous torrents. But the season happened to be remarkably dry, and the Goths could traverse, without impediment, the wide and stony beds, whose center was faintly marked by the course of a shallow stream. The bridge and passage of the Addua were secured by a strong detachment of the Gothic army; and as Alaric approached the walls, or rather the suburbs of Milan, he enjoyed the proud satisfaction of seeing the emperor of the Romans fly before him. Honorius, accompanied by a feeble train of statesmen and eunuchs, hastily retreated towards the Alps, with the design of securing his person in the city of Arles, which had often been the royal residence of his predecessors. But Honorius had scarcely passed the Po before he was overtaken by the speed of the Gothic cavalry; since the urgency of the danger compelled him to seek a temporary shelter within the fortification of Asta, a town of Ligurian, or Piedmont, situate on the banks of the Tanarus. The siege of an obscure place, which contained so rich a prize, and seemed incapable of a long resistance, was instantly formed, and indefatigably pressed by the king of the Goths.” — Gibbon’s Hist., vol. iii. pp. 198-204.
But although Alaric thus put to flight the emperor of the West, deliverance soon came, and Rome was saved from his hands. Alaric was first conquered in 403, by Stilicho, that distinguished commander of the Roman forces, at the battle ground of Pollentia.
That part of the first trumpet which says that “all green grass was burnt up,” seems to refer to a remarkably total devastation of the vegetation, which followed in the train of the Visigoths, in the eastern tripartite division, and also that of the other two bodies of he northern barbarians who were at the same time attacking the empire in its middle and western divisions.
While we leave Alaric arranging his plans for another attack upon the Romans, we will consider the operations of the other two bodies of barbarians before referred to, who were fleeing before the aggressive Huns to the west and south of Europe.
One of these divisions, under Radagaisus, crossed the Alps with a force of 200,000, attacked Florence, and was defeated. The other, composed of Burgundians, Vandals, Alans, and Suevi, “burst over the Rhine,” overcame the Franks in their onward march (devasting, says Gibbon, seventeen provinces of Gaul), and continued their course into what is now called Spain — making a prey of the largest part of the western tripartite division of the Roman Empire. Gibbon says, in speaking of this invasion: “The pastures of Gaul, in which flocks and herds grazed, and the banks of the Rhine, which were covered with elegant houses and well-cultivated farms,…. were suddenly changed into a desert, distinguished from the solitude of nature only by smoking ruins.”
This was in A. D. 407. This vast army divided the country which they subdued among their respective tribes, leaving the Franks in possession of what is now northern France. The Vandals settled in a part of what is now Spain. (Their kingdom, says Jernandes, the Gothic historian, was afterward transferred to Africa in about A. D. 428.) The Alans and Suevi settled in what is now Portugal, and the north-western part of what is now Spain. The Alans only maintained their independence for a short time. The Romans almost annihilated them A. D. 418, and the remnant of the nation incorporated themselves with the Vandals. (See “Sheppard’s Fall of Rome,” p. 537.) The Burgundians took what is now Switzerland and a portion of France and Germany.
We see, then, that up to A. D. 407, seven powerful clans of barbarians, who were once subject to the Roman power, had established themselves as independent nationalities (kingdoms), and were engaged in attacking the empire on every hand. Gibbon says that this last invasion was what “sealed the fate of Roman civilization.”
He describes it thus:–
“About four years after the victorious Toulan had assumed the title of Khan of the Deougen, another barbarian, the haughty Rhodogast, or Radagaisus, marched from the northern extremity of Germany almost to the gates of Rome, and left the remains of his army to achieve the destruction of the West. The Vandals, the Suevi, and the Burgundians, formed the strength of this mighty host; but the Alans, who had found a hospitable reception in their new seats, added their active cavalry to the heavy infantry of the Germans; and the Gothic adventurers crowded so eagerly to the standard of Radagaisus, that, by some historians, he has been styled the king of the Goths. Twelve thousand warriors, distinguished above the vulgar by their noble birth or their valiant deeds, glittered in the van; and the whole multitude, which was not less than two hundred thousand fighting men, might be increased by the accession of women, of children, and of slaves, to the amount of four hundred thousand persons.
“The correspondence of nations was in that age so imperfect and precarious that the revolutions of the North might escape the knowledge of the court of Ravenna, till the dark cloud, which was collected along the coast of the Baltic, burst in thunder upon the banks of the Upper Danube. Many cities of Italy were pillaged or destroyed; and the siege of Florence, by Radagaisus, is one of the earliest events in the history of that celebrated republic, whose firmness checked, or delayed, the unskillful fury of the barbarians.
“While the peace of Germany was secured by the attachment of the Franks and the neutrality of the Alemanni, the subjects of Rome, unconscious of the approaching calamities, enjoyed a state of quiet and prosperity which had seldom blessed the frontiers of Gaul. Their flocks and herds were permitted to graze in the pastures of the barbarians; their huntsmen penetrated, without fear or danger, into the darkest recesses of the Hercynian wood. The banks of the Rhine were crowned, like those of the Tiber, with elegant houses and well-cultivated farms; and if a poet descended the river, he might express his doubt on which side was situated the territory of the Romans. This scene of peace and plenty was suddenly changed into a desert; and the prospect of the smoking ruins could alone distinguish the solitude of nature from the desolation of man. The flourishing city of Mentz was surprised and destroyed; and many thousand Christians were inhumanly massacred in the church. Worms perished, after a long and obstinate siege; Strasburg, Spires, Rheims, Tournay, Arras, Amiends, experienced the cruel oppression of the German yoke; and the consuming flames of war spread from the banks of the Rhine over the greatest part of the seventeen provinces of Gaul. That rich and extensive country, as far as the ocean, the Alps, and the Pyrenees, was delivered to the barbarians, who drove before them, in a promiscuous crowd, the bishop, the senator, and the virgin, laden with the spoils of their houses and altars.” — Id., vol. iii. pp. 215-224.
After this invasion of the empire by Radagaisus, Alaric again returned, invaded Italy in 408, and in 410 he besieged, took, and sacked, Rome, and died the same year. In 412 the Goths voluntarily retired from Italy, and in A. D. 414, under the brother of Alaric, the Visigoths re-established themselves in what is now southern France and a part of Spain.
From the foregoing extracts and data, the reader will readily see that the blast of the first trumpet has its location at the close of the fourth century and onward, and refers to the desolating invasions of the Roman Empire by the Visigoths under Alaric, and by other northern tribes.
We thus see that by the year A. D. 407, seven of the ten toes of the image, or seven of the ten horns of the terrible beast, had been made apparent; namely, the Huns, Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Franks, Vandals, Suevi, and Burgundians.
These dominant tribes retained their identities until the fall of Rome was completed. And some of them, after a lapse of 1400 years, are a standing proof of the prophecy which says: “They shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.”
We know not how the history of the sounding of the first trumpet can be more impressively concluded than by presenting the graphic rehearsal of this history, by Mr. Keith, in his “Signs of the Times,” vol. i. pp. 221-233:–
“Large extracts show how amply and well Gibbon has expounded his text, in the history of the first trumpet, the first storm that pervaded the Roman earth, and the first fall of Rome. To use his words in more direct comment, we read thus the sum of the matter: The Gothic nation was in arms at the first sound of the trumpet, and in the uncommon severity of the winter, they rolled their ponderous wagons over the broad and icy back of the river. The fertile fields of Phocis and Boeotia were crowded with a deluge of barbarians; the males were massacred; the females and cattle of the flaming villages were driven away. The deep and bloody traces of the march of the Goths could easily be discovered after several years. The whole territory of Attica was blasted by the baneful presence of Alaric. The most fortunate of the inhabitants of Corinth, Argos, Sparta, were saved by death from beholding the conflagration of their cities. In a season of such extreme heat that the beds of the rivers were dry, Alaric invaded the dominion of the west. A secluded ‘old man* of Verona’ pathetically lamented the fate of his cotemporary trees, which must blaze in the conflagration of the whole country [note the words of the prophecy — the third part of the trees was burnt up]; and the emperor of the Romans fled before the king of the Goths.
“A furious tempest was excited among the nations of Germany; from the northern extremity of which the barbarians marched almost to the gates of Rome. They achieved the destruction of the West. The dark cloud which was collected along the coasts of the Baltic, burst in thunder upon the banks of the Upper Danube. The pastures of Gaul, in which flocks and herds grazed, and the banks of the Rhine, which were covered with elegant houses and well-cultivated farms, formed a scene of peace and plenty which was suddenly changed into a desert, distinguished from the solitude of nature only by smoking ruins. Many cities were cruelly oppressed or destroyed. Many thousands were inhumanly massacred. And the consuming flames of war spread over the greatest part of the seventeen provinces of Gaul.
“Alaric again stretched his ravages over Italy. During four years, the Goths ravaged and reigned over it without control. And, in the pillage and fire of Rome, the streets of the city were filled with dead bodies; the flames consumed many public and private buildings; and the ruins of a palace remained [after a century and a half], a stately monument of the Gothic conflagration.”
“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 was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.”
The expression “all green grass was burnt up,” very plainly illustrates the sweeping and withering effect which followed the invaders in the three parts of the empire. Mr. Keith adds; —
“The concluding sentence of the thirty-third chapter of Gibbon’s history, is, of itself, a clear and comprehensive commentary; for, in winding up his own description of the brief, but most eventful period, he concentrates, as in a parallel reading, the sum of the history and the substance of the prediction. But the words which precede it are not without their meaning: ‘The public devotion of the age was impatient to exalt the saints and martyrs of the Catholic church on the altars of Diana and Hercules. The union of the Roman empire was dissolved; its genius was humbled in the dust; and armies of unknown barbarians, issuing from the frozen regions of the North, had established their victorious reign over the fairest provinces of Europe and Africa.’
“The last word, Africa, is the signal for the sounding of the second trumpet. The scene changes from the shores of the Baltic to the southern coast of the Mediterranean, or from the frozen regions of the North to the borders of burning Africa. And, instead of a storm of hail being cast upon the earth, a burning mountain was cast into the sea.”
From A. D. 407 to A. D. 428 these seven independent powers (kingdoms) seemed determined to weaken and subjugate the already declining power of Rome; but the transferring of the Vandal kingdom to Africa, A. D. 428, brought in a new feature in the plans which the warlike clans adopted in order to fulfill the prophecy concerning the second trumpet of Rev. 8:8, 9.
VERSES 8, 9. “And 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; and the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.”
The history illustrative of the sounding of this trumpet evidently relates to the invasion and conquest of Africa, and afterward of Italy, by the terrible Genseric.
The word Vandalism has become commonplace among historians. In speaking of the decline of Rome, it is recorded that “Vandalism desolated her classic fields.” The hero of Vandal aggression and destruction was Genseric. A Latin author describes him as follows: “He was a more frightful barbarian than any who had as yet arisen among the foes of Rome. Lame and hideous in aspect, of slow speech, but of iron will, inconceivable duplicity and boundless ambition, he had never been known to listen to the voice of justice or mercy; he had never recoiled from any act of perfidy or blood which he believed his interests to demand. His is admitted to have been temperate in his personal habits, but utterly incapable of controlling himself when aroused to anger. His perspicacity saw to the bottom of everything. He never missed an opportunity; he carried out a project in less time than others spent in meditating upon it.”
His conquests were, for the most part, NAVAL, and his triumphs were “as it were a great mountain burning with fire, cast into the sea.” What figure would better, or so well, illustrate the collision of navies, and the general havoc of war on maritime coasts? In explaining this trumpet, we are to look for some events which will have a particular bearing on the commercial world. The symbol used naturally leads us to look for agitation and commotion. Nothing but a fierce maritime warfare would fulfill the prediction. If the sounding of the first trumpet refers to the ravages of the Visigoths under Alaric, and of other barbarians, in this we naturally look for the next succeeding act of invasion which shook the Roman power and conduced to its fall. The next great invasion was that of “the terrible Genseric” at the head of the Vandals. This tribe, who at first settled in what is now Spain, saw brighter prospects for themselves in Africa, consequently about A. D. 428 their kingdom was transferred there, making Carthage their headquarters. Here Genseric soon gained the greatest maritime power of his age. But, as Gibbon states, “The discovery and conquest of the black nations [[in Africa] that might dwell beneath the torrid zone, could not tempt the rational ambition of Genseric; but he cast his eyes TOWARD THE SEA; he resolved to create a naval power, and his bold resolution was executed with steady and active perseverance.” From the port of Carthage he repeatedly made piratical sallies, and preyed on the Roman commerce, and waged war with that empire, and his attacks were mostly on the middle division of the empire.
To cope with this sea monarch, Majorian, the emperor of the West, who retained only the middle tripartite division of the empire (as it was divided by Constantine the Great), fitted out a fleet to operate against the Vandals, but Genseric outgeneraled him. He burnt and sunk in a day what cost Majorian three years of labor at a great expense. For many years he was the tyrant of the sea, and imagined that he himself was fated to be the scourge of the Romans. He pillaged Rome, and carried away the sacred vessels of the temple which Titus took from Jerusalem.
Gibbon, the historian, says of Majorian’s preparation:–
“The woods of the Apennines were felled; the arsenals and manufactories of Ravenna and Miscnum were restored; Italy and Gaul vied with each other in liberal contributions to the public service; and the imperial navy of three hundred long galleys, with an adequate proportion of transports and smaller vessels, was collected in the secure and capacious harbor of Carthagena in Spain. But Genseric was saved from impending and inevitable ruin by the treachery of some powerful subjects, envious or apprehensive of their master’s success. Guided by their secret intelligence, he surprised the unguarded fleet in the bay of Carthagena; many of the ships were sunk, or taken, or burnt, and the preparations of three years were destroyed in a single day.
“Italy continued to be long afflicted by the incessant depredations of the Vandal pirates. In the spring of each year they equipped a formidable navy in the port of Carthage, and Genseric himself, though in a very advanced age, still commanded in person the most important expeditions. His designs were concealed with impenetrable secrecy till the moment that he hoisted sail. When he was asked by his pilot what course he should steer, “Leave the determination to the winds,’ replied the barbarian, with pious arrogance, ‘they will transport us to the guilty coast whose inhabitants have provoked the divine justice.’ But Genseric himself deigned to issue more precise orders; he judged the most wealthy to be the most criminal. The Vandals repeatedly visited the coasts of Spain, Liguria, Tuscany, Campania, Leucania, Vrutium, Apulia, Calabria, Venetia, Dalmatia, Epirus, Greece, and Sicily; they were tempted to subdue the island of Sardinia, so advantageously placed in the center of the Mediterranean, and their arms spread desolation or terror from the column of Hercules to the mouth of the Nile. As they were more ambitious of spoil than of glory, they seldom attacked any fortified cities, or engaged any regular troops in the open field. But the celerity of their motions enabled them, almost at the same time, to threaten and to attack the most distant objects which attracted their desires; and as they always embarked a sufficient number of horses, they had no sooner landed than they swept the dismayed country with a body of light cavalry. In the treatment of his unhappy prisoners, he sometimes consulted his avarice, and sometimes his cruelty: he massacred five hundred noble citizens of Zante, or Zacynthus, whose mangled bodies he cast into the Ionian sea.” — Gibbon, vol. iii. pp. 481-487.
His success at sea, and his desperate assaults upon Majorian, so enraged Leo, the emperor of eastern Rome, that he sent him word that, if he did not desist from his ravages, he would send a force sufficient to exterminate the Vandal power entirely. For this purpose a fleet left Constantinople A. D. 468, and arrived before Carthage. It consisted of 1113 vessels, at a cost of 5,200,000 pounds sterling, and soldiers and mariners about 100,000. As soon as this fleet arrived, Genseric asked for a truce of three days. During this time, he fitted up vessels filled with combustible materials, impelled them against the unsuspecting Romans at night, and thus set fire to their whole fleet, and gained a complete victory.
This naval rencounter is described by Gibbon as follows:–
“The whole expense of the African campaign amounted to the sum of one hundred and thirty thousand pounds of gold — about five million two hundred thousand pounds sterling. The fleet that sailed from Constantinople to Carthage consisted of eleven hundred and thirteen ships, and the number of soldiers and mariners exceeded one hundred thousand men. The army of Heraclius, and the fleet of Marcellinus, either joined or seconded the Imperial Lieutenant. The wind became favorable to the designs of Genseric. He manned his largest ships of war with the bravest of the Moors and Vandals, and they towed after them many large barks filled with combustible materials. In the obscurity of the night, these destructive vessels were impelled against the unguarded and unsuspecting fleet of the Romans, who were awakened by a sense of their instant danger. Their close and crowded order assisted the progress of the fire, which was communicated with rapid and irresistible violence, and the noise of the wind, the crackling of the flames, the dissonant cries of the soldiers and mariners, who could neither command nor obey increased the horror of the nocturnal tumult. Whilst they labored to extricate themselves from the fire-ships, and to save at least a part of the navy, the galleys of Genseric assaulted them with temperate and disciplined valor; and many of the Romans who escaped the fury of the flames, were destroyed or taken by the victorious Vandals. After the failure of this great expedition, Genseric again became the tyrant of the sea; the coasts of Italy, Greece, and Asia, were again exposed to his revenge and avarice. Tripoli and Sardinia returned to his obedience; he added Sicily to the number of his provinces; and before he died, in the fullness of years and of glory, he beheld the FINAL EXTINCTION of the empire of the west.” — Gibbon, vol. iii. pp. 495-498.
This naval warfare is symbolized by a great burning mountain cast into the sea. “The third part of the sea became blood,” seems to have reference to the terrible slaughter of men in this division of the empire. Africa was included in this division by Constantine the Great.
“The third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died.” This may include the mariners engaged in this warfare.
But why, says one, do you here call the creatures men? Are not creatures sometimes inferior animals, as fish? They are. But the great burning mountain symbolizes a great warfare. Now the fish had nothing to do with the warfare; hence such creatures as men or horses which are used in a battle could only supply the analogy in the symbol.
“And the third part of the ships were destroyed.” This doubtless refers to the complete ruin of Leo’s fleet.
Concerning the important part which this bold corsair acted in the downfall of Rome, Mr. Gibbon uses this significant language: “Genseric, a name which, in the destruction of the Roman empire, has deserved an equal rank with the names of Alaric and Attila.”
In A. D. 429, he began his attacks upon the Romans, and in A. D. 468, his crowning feat was accomplished.
While Genseric was reducing the Roman power by sea, there began to be carried on a confederate attack of the other above-mentioned tribes by land, under Attila, the king of the Huns, which brings us to the third trumpet.
VERSES 10, 11. “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 waters; 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.”
We have now reached that point of time in which the Huns, Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Franks, Burgundians, Vandals, and Suevi, are desolating the classic fields of Rome, and often visiting her armies with defeat.
In the interpretation and application of the above passage, we are brought to the third important event which resulted in the subversion of the Roman Empire. And in finding a historical fulfillment of this third trumpet, we shall be indebted for a few extracts from the Notes of Mr. Albert Barnes. In explaining this scripture, it is necessary to suppose, as this commentator says:–
“That there would be some chieftain, or warrior, who might be compared to a blazing meteor; whose course would be singularly brilliant; who would appear suddenly, LIKE a blazing star, and then disappear like a star whose light was quenched in the waters. That the desolating course of that meteor would be mainly on those portions of the world that abounded with springs of water and running streams. That an effect would be produced as if those streams and fountains were made bitter; that is, that many persons would perish, and that wild desolations would be caused n the vicinity of those rivers and streams, as if a baleful star should fall into the waters, and death should spread over lands adjacent to them and watered by them.” — Notes on Rev. 8.
It is here premised that this trumpet has allusion to the desolating wars and furious invasions of Attila against the Roman power, which he carried on at the head of the hordes of Huns. While the Vandals, under Genseric (the great burning mountain), for forty years were destroying the Roman power by sea, there were other clans of barbarians confederating, in order to strike a decisive blow against the same power by land.
All Europe and a part of Asia had been aroused to the great struggle for the mastery. Attila, the leader of the Huns, had already devastated seventy cities of the East. The fear of his iron will made even the contemporary barbarians tremble at his acquisitions of dominion. The tribes north of the Danube had already yielded to his government. Nearly all of what is now Russia was obedient to his dictate, and from the steppes of Asia were hordes of plunderers awaiting the summons of the conqueror. Rome herself had consented, reluctantly, to pay him tribute. Her cup of iniquity was fast filling up, and her punishment was certain. The prophecy declared she should be divided into ten parts. “It was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.” Dan. 7:7.
From stern virtue, sobriety, economy, and clemency, Rome had degenerated to vice, intemperance, extravagance, and cruelty. The monarchs of mighty kingdoms were dragged at the wheels of her triumphal chariots, at the caprice and pomp of her martial rulers. Once, she exercised mercy toward the weak, and succored the helpless, as when she leagued with the Jews, who were oppressed by Antiochus; but now, the starving mother may devour her infant before the eyes of the Roman, and he heeds it not. That fierceness spoken of by the prophet, Deut. 28:50, has become developed. Her ambition, aggrandizement, and supremacy, required every conquered foe to bow beneath the yoke of slavery. Many tribes are rallying to the standard of Attila, and the Romans are preparing to repel their terrible foe.
Attila anticipates that his best trophies are beyond the Alps. At the sound of his war-cry, all Europe musters to arms. Since Xerxes led his immense army against the Greeks, no greater body of warriors had ever assembled to act a part in the fulfillment of prophecy. The engagement that succeeded is recorded as one of the four decisive battles of history.
Rome collects her forces to meet the intruder; she also invited her very foes to lend a helping hand. The Visigoths, Burgundians, and Franks, joined the Roman forces. They met in what is now French territory. At Orleans, and finally at Chalons, the struggle between one and a half millions of Romans and barbarians took place. Neither party could claim a victory. About 300,000 were left dead upon the battle-field. After the conflict, the Roman general hastened to the imperial city, and his confederates to their respective kingdoms. Attila recruited his forces, and the next spring appeared in the north of Italy with his army as large as it was before it was reduced at Chalons. Speaking of this warrior, particularly of his personal appearance, Mr. Barnes, on Rev. 8, says:–
“In the manner of his appearance, he strongly resembled a brilliant meteor flashing in the sky. He came from the east, gathering his Huns, and poured them down, as we shall see, with the rapidity of a flashing meteor, suddenly on the empire. He regarded himself also as devoted to MARS, the god of war, and was accustomed to array himself in a peculiarly brilliant manner, so that his appearance, in the language of his flatterers, was such as to dazzle the eyes of the beholders.”
In speaking of the locality of the vents predicted by this trumpet, Mr. Barnes has this note:–
“It is said particularly that the effect would be on ‘the rivers’ and on the ‘fountains of waters.’ If this has a literal application, or if, as was supposed in the case of the second trumpet, the language was such as had reference to the portion of the empire that would be particularly affected by the hostile invasion, then we may suppose that this refers to those portions of the empire that abounded in rivers and streams, and more particularly those in which the rivers and streams had their origin — for the effect was permanently in the ‘fountains of the waters.’ As a matter of fact, the principal operations of Attila were in the regions of the Alps, and on the portions of the empire whence the rivers flow down into Italy. The invasion of Attila is described by Mr. Gibbon in this general language: ‘The whole breadth of Europe, as it extends above five hundred miles from the Euxine to the Adriatic, was at once invaded, and occupied, and desolated, by the myriads of barbarians whom Attila led into the field.'”
In further illustration of the sounding of the third trumpet, we shall be indebted to Mr. Keith. He speaks as follows:–
“A third angel sounded:– and a third name is associated with the downfall of the Roman Empire. The sounding of the trumpets manifestly denotes the order of the commencement, not the period of the duration, of the wars, or events which they represent. When the second angel sounded, there was seen, as it were, a great mountain burning with fire. When the third angel sounded, there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp. The symbol, in each instance, is expressly a similitude, and the one is to the other, in comparative and individual resemblance, as a burning mountain to a falling star; each of them was great. The former was cast into the sea, the latter was first seen as falling, and it fell upon the fountains and rivers of waters. There is a discrimination in the similitude, in the description, and locality, which obviously
implies a corresponding difference in the object represented.
“On such plain and preliminary observations we may look to the intimation given in the third trumpet, and to the achievements of Attila, the third name mentioned by Gibbon, and associated in equal rank with those of Alaric and Genseric, in the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.
“Genseric landed in Africa in the year 429, and in the following year spread desolation along its coast, throughout the long-extended territory of Rome, which was then finally separated from the empire. Attila invaded the Eastern Empire in the year 441. From that period, ten years elapsed before he touched the Western Empire, and twenty-two years intervened, from 429 to 451, between the invasion of Africa by Genseric, and of Gaul by Attila. ‘The burning mountain’ arose FIRST, though it blazed longer than the ‘falling star.'”
And right here we may add that we understand the blasts of these trumpets to be successive, though the effects might be at the same time.It is as if a clarion blast was sounded upon a bugle, and, ere its shrill tones had ceased undulating upon the air, another blast was blown, and so on. This will clearly illustrate the character of some of the first of the seven trumpets. Mr. Keith further says:–
“The connection between the events predicated under the first and second trumpets is marked by the passing of the Vandals from Europe to Asia, and the consequent combination of Moors and Mauritanians in the conquest of Africa, ‘the most important province of the West; and in the overthrow of the naval power of Rome. The sequence and connection between the events denoted by the second and third trumpets, are, we apprehend, equally definite.
“‘The alliance of Attila (A. D. 441), maintained the Vandals in the possession of Africa. An enterprise had been concerted between the courts of Ravenna and Constantinople for the recovery of that valuable province, and the ports of Sicily were already filled with the military and naval forces of Theodosius. But the subtle Genseric, who spread his negotiations round the world, prevented their designs, by exciting the king of the Huns (Attila) to invade the Eastern Empire; and a trifling incident soon became the motive, or pretence, of a destructive war. The troops which had been sent against Genseric were hastily recalled from Sicily.’
“But if symbolized or described under the second and third trumpet, the respective nature of their power, or character of their warfare, must needs be described, as well as the order marked, in which Genseric and Attila first assaulted the empire of Rome, and accelerated its ruin.
“A great star is the symbol–of which the significancy has to be sustained; burning as it were a lamp, is the character of the warfare. The locality is neither the earth, in the full extent of the term as applicable to the Roman Empire, and the wide scene over which the hail and fire swept on the sounding of the first trumpet, nor yet the third part of the sea, as expressive of the second, by which the African coast was forever separated from the empire, and the ships finally destroyed, but, as referring to a portion of the remains of the empire of Rome–the fountains and rivers of waters.”
“There fell a great star from heaven.” A star falling from heaven is a wonderful phenomenon–it is not a natural occurrence. So it was not in the natural course of events that Attila should have received so sudden a check in his rapid career fro conquest and plunder. Why so? Because formerly these very allies of Rome had been her bitterest enemies, and were heretofore as determined as Attila himself to destroy her power. The Visigoths, Franks, and Burgundians, whose repeated war-cry, and ruin by conflagration and sword, had so often aroused the Roman fears, are here fighting side by side with the Roman legions, in order to subdue the man who claimed himself to be “the Scourge of God.” The name of Attila is to this day a memorial of his greatness, of which a brief description may suffice:–
“The crowd of vulgar kings, the leaders of so many martial tribes, who served under the standard of Attila, were ranged in the submissive order of guards and domestics, round the person of their master. They watched his nod; they trembled at his frown; and, at the first signal of his will, they executed, without murmur or hesitation, his stern and absolute commands. In time of peace, the dependent princes, with their national troops, attended the royal camp in regular succession; but when Attila collected his military forces, he was able to bring into the field an army of five, or according to another account, seven hundred thousand barbarians.'”
“Burning as it were a lamp.” A star does not long give light before it sets; a lamp does not long emit rays unless it is replenished: so was Attila’s course in respect to his attack upon the middle tripartite division of the Roman Empire. It was of short duration. He continued only about a year in the region of the Alps and the highlands of Central Europe. Attila’s career suddenly ceased; and after making a treaty with the Romans he left for his own capital on the Danube, where his death soon after occurred in A. D. 453.
Keith says: “The armies of the Eastern Empire were vanquished in three successive engagements; and the progress of Attila may be traced by the fields of battle. From the Hellespont to Thermopylae, and the suburbs of Constantinople, he ravaged, without resistance and without mercy, the provinces of Thrace and Macedonia. Heraclea and Hadrianople might escape this dreadful irruption of the Huns; but the words, the most expressive of total extirpation and erasure, are applied to the calamities which they inflicted on seventy cities of the Eastern Empire.
“‘Attila threatened to chastise the rash successor Theodosius; but he hesitated whether he should first direct his invincible arms against the Eastern or Western Empire; while mankind awaited his decision with awful suspense, and his ministers saluted the two emperors with the same haughty declaration, Attila, my lord and they lord, commands thee to provide a palace for his immediate reception. But as the barbarian despised, or affected to despise, the Romans of the East whom he had so often vanquished, he soon declared his resolution of suspending the easy conquest, till he had achieved a more glorious and important enterprise. In the memorable invasions of Gaul and Italy, the Huns were naturally attracted by the wealth and fertility of these provinces.
“‘The trumpet sounded. The kings and nations of Germany and Scythia, from the Volga perhaps to the Danube, obeyed the warlike summons of Attila. From the royal village in the plains of Hungary, his standard moved toward the west; and, after a march of seven or eight hundred miles, he reached the conflux of the Rhine and the Necker. The hostile myriads were poured with violence into the Belgic provinces. The consternation of Gaul was universal. From the Rhine and the Moselle Attila advanced into the heart of Gaul; crossed the Seine at Auxerre; and, after a long and laborious march, fixed his camp under the walls of Orleans. An alliance was formed between the Romans and Visigoths. The hostile armies approached. I myself, said Attila, will throw the first javelin, and the wretch who refuses to imitate the example of his sovereign is devoted to inevitable death. The spirit of the barbarians was rekindled by the presence, the voice, and the example, of their intrepid leader; and Attila, yielding to their impatience, immediately formed his order of battle. At the head of his brave and faithful Huns, Attila occupied in person the center of the line. The nations from the Volga to the Atlantic were assembled on the plain of Chalons. The number of the slain amounted to one hundred and sixty-two thousand, or, according to another account, three hundred thousand persons; and these incredible exaggerations suppose a real or effective loss, sufficient to justify the historians remark that whole generations may be swept away, by the madness of kings, in the space of a single hour.'”
The star fell upon the “third part of the rivers”–that is, the streams in the middle division of the empire.
“Fell upon the fountains of waters.” Every student of geography knows that the Alps is a great source, or head, of many of the rivers and streams of Europe. The region where Attila halted to operate in his work of devastation was, emphatically “the fountains of waters.” Before reaching the Alps, he also made a total wreck of everything in his way. Keith continues:–
“The course of the fiery meteor was changed, not stayed; and, touching Italy for the first time, the great star, after having burned as it were a lamp, fell upon a ‘third part of the rivers,’ and upon the fountains of waters.
“Neither the spirit, nor the forces, nor the reputation of Attila, were impaired by the failure of the Gallic expedition. He passed the Alps, invaded Italy, and besieged Aquileia with an innumerable host of barbarians. The succeeding generation could scarcely discover the ruins of Aquileia. After this dreadful chastisement, Attila pursued his march; and, as he passed; the cities of Altinum, Concordia, and Padua were reduced into heaps of stones and ashes. The inland towns, Vicenza, Verona, and Bergamo, were exposed to the rapacious cruelty of the Huns. Milan and Pavia submitted, without resistance, to the loss of their wealth, and applauded the unusual clemency which preserved from the flames the public as well as private buildings, and spared the lives of the captive multitude. Attila spread his ravages over the rich plains of modern Lombardy, which are divided by the Po, and bounded by the Alps and Apennines. He took possession of the royal palace of Milan. It is a saying, worthy of the ferocious pride of Attila that the ‘grass never grew on the spot where his horse had trod.’
“‘The Western emperor, with the senate and people of Rome, embraced the most salutary resolution of deprecating, by a solemn and suppliant embassy, the wrath of Attila. The Roman ambassadors were introduced to the tent of Attila, as he lay encamped at the place where the slow-winding Mincius (Mincio) is lost in the foaming waves of lake Benacus, and trampled with his Scythian cavalry the farms of Catullus and Virgil. The barbarian monarch listened with favorable, and even respectful, attention; and the deliverance of Italy was purchased by the immense ransom, or dowry, of the princess Honoria.’
“Attila advanced not further into Italy than the plains of Lombardy, and the banks of the Po. He reduced the cities, situated on that river and its tributary streams, to heaps of stones and ashes. But there his ravages ceased. The great star which burned as it were a lamp, no sooner fell upon the fountains and rivers of waters and turned cities into ashes, than it was extinguished.
“Unlike to the great mountain burning with fire, the great star that fell from heaven, after suddenly scorching a part of Italy, rapidly disappeared. During the same year in which Attila first invaded the Italian territories and spread his ravages over the rich plains of modern Lombardy, which are divided by the Po, and bounded by the Alps and Apennines, without advancing beyond the rivers and fountains of waters, he concluded a treaty of peace with the Romans, ‘at the conflux of the lake and river,’ on the spot where Mincius issues from lake Benacus (L. di garda). One paragraph in the History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, describes ‘the invasion of Italy by Attila, A. D. 452.’ Another is entitled under the same date, “Attila gives peace to the Romans.’ The next paragraph describes the ‘death of Attila, A. D. 453;’ and the very next records, without any interval, the destruction of his empire.
“‘There fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon a third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters.’ Its greatness, its burning course, the place, the severity, and suddenness of its fall, leave nothing more to be here explained, while its falling from heaven seems obviously to imply that it came from beyond the bounds of the Roman Empire, on part of which it fell.
“But another verse is added, under the third trumpet, which, having thus seen the significancy of the former, we cannot pass over with any vague and general exposition, without calling on history to discharge its task in expounding the full meaning of the words, which sum up the decline, and are the immediate prelude to the fourth trumpet, the death-knell of the Western Empire.
“‘And the name of the star is called Wormwood’ [denoting the bitter consequences]. These words-which are more intimately connected with the preceding verse, as even the punctuation in our version denotes–recall us for a moment to the character of Attila, to the misery of which he was the author, or the instrument, and to the terror that was inspired by his name.”
The effect of his ravages in the north of Italy could not better be described in the English language than by the word wormwood. “And the name of the star is called wormwood.” Bitterness was the result of his course wherever he went. Bitterness was in the hearts of the people of the Alpine regions as they saw their habitations burnt, their cattle made a prey, and their fair fields entirely laid waste. Before he reached the Alps, he devastated the land and burnt the Roman cities. Aquileia, the most important city of northern Italy, after a siege of three months, was reduced to ashes. The plains around it were nothing but blackness and ashes. And writers say that the great earthen mounds that encircled their encampment may yet be seen by the traveler. It being in the hot season many of the Huns died of disease. On the part of both Romans and barbarians many perished in consequence of the evil effects of the invasion. “And many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.”
Attila’s attack upon the middle tripartite division of the empire was during A. D. 451-453 Mr. Keith continues:–
“‘Total extirpation and erasure are terms which best denote the calamities he inflicted.
“‘One of his lieutenants chastised and almost exterminated the Burgundians of the Rhine. The Thuringians served in the army of Attila; they traversed, both in their march and in their return, the territories of the Franks; and they massacred their hostages as well as their captives. Two hundred young maidens were tortured with exquisite and unrelenting rage; their bodies were torn asunder by wild horses, or were crushed under the weight of rolling wagons; and their unburied limbs were abandoned on public roads, as a prey to dogs and vultures.’
“It was the boast of Attila, that the grass never grew on the spot which his horse had trod. ‘The Scourge of God,’ was a name that he appropriated to himself, and inserted among his royal titles. He was ‘the scourge of his enemies, and the terror the world.’ The Western emperor, with the senate and people of Rome, humbly and fearfully deprecated the wrath of Attila. And the concluding paragraph of the chapters which record his history, is entitled “Symptoms of the Decay and Ruin of the Roman Government.’ The name of the star is called Wormwood.
“‘In the space of twenty years since the death of Valentinian’ [two years subsequent to the death of Attila], ‘nine emperors had successively disappeared; and the son of Orestes, a youth recommended only by his beauty, would be the least entitled to the notice of posterity, if his reign, which was marked by the extinction of the Roman Empire in the West, did not leave a memorable era in the history of mankind.”
Three full blasts of the trumpets have already signalized the sad fate of Rome. The echo of their sounding reverberates through the earth, as the death knell of her departed glory is heightened by another furious outbreak. Before we attempt to apply the words of the prophet, as expressed by the fourth angel, it will be in place to give a description of the rise, location, and some relations of other powers, which were the means of the fulfillment of this prophecy.
About the end of the fourth century, barbarous tribes from the North and East commenced inroads on the Roman Empire, and in the course of the succeeding hundred and fifty years, overthrew the Roman power.–Mitchell’s Ancient Geography, p. 143.
About the last of the eighth century, the various little tribes which rose on the ruins of the Roman Empire gradually merged into a few great monarchies, which, in the general outline, have continued till the present day.–Mitchell’s Ancient Geography, p. 149.
About the middle of the fifteenth century arose an able historian and statesman, Machiavel,* of Lombard nationality, who says that Rome in its fall was divided into ten parts, or kingdoms, and enumerates their rise as taking place between A. D. 356 and A. D. 483.
*Macaulay, the English historian, says: “Abundant proofs remain of the high estimation both of Machiavel’s works and person, and so they were held by his cotemporaries.”–Miscellaneous Writings, p. 20.
“And after this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, . . . . . and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.” Dan. 7:7.
“And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns.” Rev. 13:1.
Seven of these ten horns, or kingdoms, have already been described under the three former trumpets, and there remain three more divisions, to bring the strong iron power of Rome into a condition in which it may well be likened unto iron, mixed with miry clay.
The first of these three powers were the Heruli. They were in Attila’s army at the battle of Chalons. Odoacer afterward became their king. Under him they took Rome and executed the emperor in A. D. 476.–Sheppard’s Fall of Rome, pp 198, 268, 272.
The Heruli, after the death of Attila, returned westward, made repeated attacks on the Western Empire, and deposed the last emperor, Momyllus Augustulus. Their ruler was Odoacer, who became the first king of Italy.–Mitchell’s Ancient Geography, p. 145.
The Heruli followed Attila in his march to Gaul, A. D. 451, and after his death, under their leader Odoacer, uniting with other German tribes, were powerful enough to destroy the Western Empire. Odoacer succumbed to the Ostrogoths, A. D. 493.–Appleton’s Encyclopedia.
Another of the three above-mentioned powers was the Anglo-Saxon. The successful establishment of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy cannot date earlier than A. D. 471, when Vortigern began his second reign in Britain.–Hayden’s Dictionary of Dates, Art. Britain.
The last event of Roman Britain, when the people petitioned Aetius for aid to repel the Picts and the Scots, was A. D. 446, exactly thirty years before the fall of Rome in A. D. 476. The intervention of thirty years witnessed the establishment of the Saxons in the island of Britain.–Smith’s History of the World, vol. ii. p. 735.
About the middle of the fifth century, the Saxons arrived in Britain. They helped the Britons repel the Picts and Scots. For this favor they were allowed to invite over other Saxons, Angles, and Jutes, to settle among them. Instead of longer assisting the Britons, the Saxons and Angles made war upon them, and in the course of the fifth century gained the ascendancy in England.–Appleton’s Encyclopedia.
The Lombards, the last of the ten divisions, now claim our attention. This tribe, after the battle of Chalons and death of Attila, A. D. 453, became one of the chief powers that arose.–Smith’s History of the World, p. 743.
The Lombards first established themselves on the Vistula, then on the Danube, whence they invaded Italy, and founded the kingdom of Lombardy.–Mitchell’s Ancient Geography, p. 145.
The Lombards were among Attila’s forces in the great decisive battle of Chalons, A. D. 451.–Sheppard’s Fall of Rome, p. 198.
In the fifth century, the Lombards appeared on the north bank of the Danube. They overcame their former masters, the Heruli. Going south of the Danube, they subdued the Gepidae, and after the annihilation of their enemies, crossed into northern Italy and there founded, A. D. 568, a powerful State.–Appleton’s Encyclopedia.
Lombardy (North Italy) sustained its own sovereignty till the fifteenth century. It has since been contended for both by French and German sovereigns. In 1805, Napoleon, at Milan, was proclaimed king of Italy. After his abdication, in 1815, the allied sovereigns established it as the Lombardo-Venetian kingdom. In 1848, it revolted from this alliance, and its revolt was sustained by the king of Sardinia and the pope. Victor Immanuel II is of Lombard descent, and the heir to the Italian throne is Humbert, prince of Savoy in Lombardy.–Hayden’s Dictionary of Dates.
We have given a brief account of the last three powers which were to arise according to the prophecy. Historians agree in the manner and time of their rise. Profane history grants these powers monarchical dominion, and prophecy gives them crowns.
The Heruli in Italy, the Anglo-Saxons in England, and the Lombards on the Danube, with the seven other powerful tribes before described, furnish the fulfillment of Daniels prophecy, which says: “It had ten horns.” Now it is evident all these powers were at some time cotemporary; for the prophet saw a beast upon which there were visible at one time ten horns. This was the case with Rome from A. D. 483 to A. D. 493.
The prophet saw afterward three of the horns “plucked up by the roots.” The expression, “plucked up by the roots,” according to the plain English language, would signify a cessation of existence. It is said three horns fell before (in the presence of) another power which came up; and in verse 24 of Dan. 7, the very power that came up should subdue these three kings.
Between A. D. 493 and A. D. 538, three of these powers which held to Arianism were destroyed. The Heruli, in A. D. 393, were exterminated by the Ostrogoths under Theodoric. It was brought about in this way: Under the proposal, or what was called the Pragmatic”* of Zeno, who was then emperor of the East, and who was orthodox in religion; the Ostrogoths, whose dominions lay east of Italy, were encouraged to make war upon the Heruli, who then held Rome, and who were Arians. Theodoric assembled his forces, marched to Italy and dispossessed the Heruli. He now repudiated the “Pragmatic,” had himself declared king of Italy, and governed it for thirty-eight years. An Arian, “he showed at first no violence to the opposite party, and established friendly relations with the popes.” He was a great statesman and brought Italy to a state of renown. The foundation of some of the most renowned cities was due to his genius: yet there was a spiritual power arising that was incompatible with the permanency of his kingdom because of its Arian character.–Sheppard’s Fall of Rome, pp. 286, 297, 300, 302.
A new emperor of the East, Justin I arose and proscribed Arianism. Theodoric felt the proscription as an indignity. He tried to deprecate its severity by negotiation; but he met with little success. He then retaliated by executing some of the dignitaries of Rome. As he began to suppress treason and orthodoxy, he was taken away by disease. About four years after, A. D. 536, his kingdom fell into the hands of Justinian’s general. Belisarus entered Rome in triumph, A. D. 536, after he had just completed the conquest of the Vandals in Africa.
The finishing stroke against Vandal rule was this: Belisarius had taken the Vandal king captive at Carthage. He was taken thence to Constantinople. He was here stripped of his scarlet robe and asked to renounce his Arian profession. Because he was unwilling to do so, he found no favor in the eyes of Justinian, but was refused the dignities which were promised to him at his capitulation.
The three powers thus fell by the policy of this spiritual power that was coming up. There was nothing now in the way of its assumption over the civil power which it laid hold of, A. D. 538, and became the noted little horn of Dan. 7.
For fifteen years after the overthrow of the Ostrogoths, Narses ruled Italy in the name of the emperor of the East, as Exarch of Ravenna. He was about to be recalled and have his authority taken away, which summons stung him to the heart. He immediately sent word to the powerful Lombards on the Danube that Italy lay at the mercy of their arms. The Lombards soon after invaded Italy, and in A. D. 468 it fell into their hands.
The territory of Western Rome, over which her banners had waved so gloriously for more than five centuries, isnow entirely occupied by barbarians, and in her state of effeminacy, it is only necessary, in order to entirely efface her mere nominal sovereignty, to blot her rulers from existence, and her glory as an empire has departed forever. It remains, then, only to mention a few facts concerning the rulers of Rome at the last stage of her existence.
Odoacer compelled Augustulus to write to the Roman senate that a single emperor was now sufficient for both Greece and Rome. The senate then sent the ornaments of the imperial palace, diadems, purple mantles, and all other insignia of imperial power to Zeno, emperor of the East, and asked him to yield to their wishes, and allow Odoacer to be their ruler. He conceded to their entreaty, and appointed him Patrician and governor of Italy in his own name, about A. D. 483.–Sheppard’s Fall of Rome, p. 276.
When Theodoric overcame Odoacer, he received an appointment as Patrician from the emperor of the East, about A. D. 485. The senate of Rome was still in existence; for, during his reign, he sent an eminent senator on an embassy to the court of Burgundy.–Sheppard’s Fall of Rome,pp. 285, 360.
Belisarius entered Rome in triumph, A. D. 536; but the entire subjugation of the Ostrogoths was accomplished by Narses, about A. D. 552; and for fifteen years after, Rome was governed by him under the title of Exarch of Ravenna. We thus see that the ruling of the senate terminated about A. D. 552.–Sheppard’s Fall of Rome, p. 311.
VERSE 12. “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 illustrates the closing up of the Roman government. Sun, moon, and stars, are evidently symbols that denote the rulers in the government–its emperors, consuls, and senators.
The sun sends forth light of itself-the decree of the emperor is law. The moon shines by a borrowed light–the authority of the consul was dependent in some measure on the will of another. The stars shine when the night comes–the wants of the people demanded attention, and then the senate acted.
“The sun was smitten.” Odoacer caused the title of emperor to cease. But one-third part only is effected–the jurisdiction of Rome then extended over only the middle division of the empire, as ceded by Constantine to his three sons. One-third part of the moon was smitten; the effect of this political calamity had the same extent as the former. When the consulship was taken away, Rome had ceded all her territory beyond the Alps.–Sheppard’s Fall of Rome, p. 276.
“And the third part of the stars” was smitten. When Narses ruled Rome as Exarch, in the name of the emperor of the East, there was no longer any need of a senate at Rome, for Justinian had one of his own.
“So as the third part of them was darkened.” This smiting continued, until in the middle division of the empire these rulers were merely nominal; they could not act.
“And the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.” Superior and inferior rulers–Emperors, Consuls, and Senators, ceased to be.
In the forcible language of Keith, this sounding of the fourth angel is illustrated:–
“At the voice of the first angel, and the blast of his trumpet, the whole Roman world was in agitation, and ‘the storms of war’ passed over it all. ‘The union of the empire was dissolved; a third part of it fell; and the “Transalpine provinces were separated from the empire.’ Under the second trumpet, the provinces of Africa, another, or the maritime, part, was in like manner reft from Rome, and the Roman ships were destroyed in the sea, and even in their harbor. The empire of Rome, hemmed in on every side, was then limited to the kingdom of Italy. Within its bounds, and along the fountains and rivers of waters, the third trumpet re-echoed from the Alps to the Appennines. The last barrier of the empire of Rome was broken. The plains of Lombardy were ravaged by a foreign foe; and from thence new enemies arose to bring to an end the strife of the world with the imperial city.
“Though the union of the empire was dissolved, there was still an emperor in Rome. The majesty of the Roman name was not obliterated, though tarnished. And after the middle of the fifth century, the Caesars had still a successor in their own city. But the palace of Milan could not again be the temporary abode of the Roman court, when it was the seat and center of a hostile power. And the marshes of Ravenna ceased to be a security, after the waters were made bitter, and when hordes of Huns mingled with other savages in the northern regions of Italy. The time, too, had long passed for realizing the project, which the terror of the Goths had first suggested, of transferring the court of Rome to the shores of Africa, and transforming Carthage into another Constantinople.”
The remnant, or the refuse, of previous invasion, was enough to destroy the last remaining parts of Roman greatness in Italy, and to abolish the office and the name of the emperor of Rome. Mr. Keith says:–
“Long had that name been a terror to the nations, and identified with supreme authority n the world. Long had the emperor of Rome shone and ruled in the earth, like the sun in the firmament. His was a kingdom and dominion, great and terrible, and strong exceedingly, to which all others were subjected or subordinate. His supreme or imperial authority, had, in the decline of the empire, been greatly obscured, but till then it had never been extinguished. It had been darkened and disfigured by a great storm; eclipsed, as it were, by a mountain that burned with fire; and outshone, as it were, by a falling star, like a fiery meteor. It had survived the assaults of Goths and Vandals and Huns. Though clouded and obscured, it had never been smitten; and though its light reached but a little way, where previously it had shone over all, it had never been extinguished.
“Neither, at last, was the whole sun smitten, but the third part. The throne of the Caesars had for ages been the sun of the world, while other kings were designated as stars. But the imperial power had first been transferred to Constantinople by Constantine; and it was afterward divided between the East and the West. And the Eastern Empire was not yet doomed to destruction. Even the Western Empire was afterwards revived; and a more modern dynasty arose to claim and maintain the title of emperor of the Romans. But, for the first time, after sudden, and violent, and distinctly marked and connected convulsions, the imperial power in Rome, where for so long a period it had reigned triumphant, was cut off forever; and the third part of the sun was smitten.
“‘Extinction of the Western Empire, A. D. 476 or A. D. 479. Royalty was familiar to the barbarians, and the submissive people of Italy were prepared to obey without a murmur the authority which he should condescend to exercise as the vicegerent of the emperor of the West. But Odoacer resolved to abolish that useless and expensive office; and such is the weight of antique prejudice that it required some boldness and penetration to discover the extreme facility of the enterprise. The unfortunate Augustulus was made the instrument of his own disgrace: and he signified his resignation to the senate: and that assembly, in their last act of obedience to a Roman prince, still affected the spirit of freedom and the forms of the constitution. An epistle was addressed, by their unanimous decree, to the Emperor Zeno, the son-in-law and successor of Leo, who had lately been restored, after a shot rebelling, to the Byzantine throne. They solemnly disclaim the necessity or even the wish of continuing any longer the imperial succession in Italy; since in their opinion the majesty of a sole monarch is sufficient to pervade and to protect, at the same time, both the East and the West. In their own name, and in the name of the people, they consent that the seat of universal empire shall be transferred from Rome to Constantinople; and they basely renounced the right of choosing their master, the only vestige which yet remained of the authority which had given laws to the world.’
“The power and the glory of Rome, as bearing rule over any nation, became extinct. The name alone remained to the queen of nations. Every token of royalty disappeared from the imperial city. She who had ruled over the nations sat in the dust, like a second Babylon, and there was no throne where the Caesars had reigned. The last act of obedience to a Roman prince, which that once august assembly performed, was the acceptance of the resignation of the last emperor of the West, and the abolition of the imperial succession in Italy. The sun of Rome was smitten. But though Rome itself, as an imperial city, ceased to exercise a sovereignty over any nation, yet the imperial ensigns, with the sacred ornaments of the throne and palace, were transferred to Constantinople, where Zeno reigned under the title of sole emperor. The military acclamations of the confederates of Italy saluted Odoacer with the title of king.
“A new conqueror of Italy, Theodoric, the Ostrogoth, speedily arose, who unscrupulously assumed the purple, and reigned by the right of conquest. ‘The royalty of Theodoric was proclaimed by the Goths (March 5, A. D. 493,), with the tardy, reluctant, ambiguous consent of the emperor of the East.’ The imperial Roman power, of which either Rome or Constantinople had been jointly or singly the seat, whether in the West or the East, was no longer recognized in Italy, and the third part of the sun was smitten, till it emitted no longer the faintest rays. The power of the Caesars was unknown in Italy, and a Gothic king reigned over Rome.
“But though the third part of the sun was smitten, and the Roman imperial power was at an end in the city of the Caesars, yet the moon and the stars still shone, or glimmered, for a little longer in the western hemisphere, even in the midst of Gothic darkness. The consulship and the senate [‘the moon and the stars’] were not abolished by Theodoric. “A Gothic historian applauds the consulship of Theodoric as the height of all temporal power and greatness:’–as the moon reigns by night, after the setting of the sun. And, instead of abolishing that office, Theodoric himself congratulates those annual favorites of fortune, who, without the cares, enjoyed the splendor of the throne.’
“But in their prophetic order, the consulship and the senate of Rome met their fate, though they fell not by the hands of Vandals or of Goths. The next revolution in Italy was its subjection to Belisarius, the general of Justinian, emperor of the East. He did not spare what barbarians had hallowed. ‘The Roman Consulship Extinguished by Justinian, A. D. 541,’ is the title of the last paragraph of the fortieth chapter of Gibbon’s History of the Decline and Fall of Rome. ‘The succession of consuls finally ceased in the thirteenth year of Justinian, whose despotic temper might be gratified by the silent extinction of a title which admonished the Romans of their ancient freedom. The third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars. In the political firmament of the ancient world, while under the reign of imperial Rome, the emperorship, the consulate and the senate, shone like the sun, the moon, and the stars. The history of their decline and fall is brought down till the two former were ‘extinguished,’ in reference to Rome and Italy, which so long had ranked as the first of cities and of countries; and finally, as the fourth trumpet closes, we see the ‘extinction of that illustrious assembly,’ the Roman senate. The city that had ruled the world, as if in mockery of human greatness, was conquered by the eunuch Narses, the successor of Belisarius. He defeated the Goths (A. D. 552), achieved ‘the conquest of Rome,’ and the fate of the senate was sealed.
“The calamities of imperial Rome, in its downfall, were told to the very last of them, till Rome was without an emperor, a consul, or a senate. ‘Under the Exarchs of Ravenna, Rome was degraded to the second rank.’ The third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars. The race of the Caesars was not extinct with the emperors of the West. Rome, before its fall, possessed but a portion of the imperial power. Constantinople divided with it the empire of the world. And neither Goths nor Vandals lorded over that still imperial city, the emperor of which, after the first transferrence of the seat of empire by Constantine, often held the emperor of Rome as his nominee and vicegerent. And the fate of Constantinople was reserved till other ages, and was announced by other trumpets. Of the sun, the moon, and the stars, as yet but the third part was smitten.
“The concluding words of the fourth trumpet imply the future restoration of the Western Empire. The day shone not for the third part of it, and the night likewise. In respect to civil authority, Rome became subject to Ravenna, and Italy was a conquered province of the Eastern Empire. But, as more appropriately pertaining to other prophecies, the defense of the worship of images first brought the spiritual and temporal powers of the pope and of the emperor into violent collision; and, by conferring on the pope all authority over the churches, Justinian laid his helping hand to the promotion of the papal supremacy, which afterward assumed the power of creating monarchs. In the year of our Lord 800, the pope conferred on Charlemagne the title of Emperor of the Romans. That title was again transferred from the king of France to the emperor of Germany. By the latter it was formally renounced, within the memory of the existing generation. In our own days the iron crown of Italy was on the head of another ’emperor.’ And the sun, as in the sequel we will see, is afterward spoken of in the book of Revelation.”
VERSE 13. “And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!”
The last three trumpets are each attended with a woe to the inhabiters of the earth. The fifth trumpet is the first woe; the sixth trumpet the second woe; the seventh and last trumpet the third woe.
OR FIRST WOE.
For an exposition of this trumpet we shall again extract from the writings of Mr. Keith. This writer truthfully says:–
“There is scarcely so uniform an agreement among interpreters concerning any part of the Apocalypse as respecting the application of the fifth and sixth trumpets, or the first and second woe to the Saracens and Turks. It is so obvious that it can scarcely be misunderstood. Instead of a verse or two designating each, the whole of the ninth chapter of the Revelation, in equal portions, is occupied with a description of both.
“The Roman Empire declined, as it arose, by conquest; but the Saracens and the Turks were the instruments by which a false religion became the scourge of an apostate church; and hence, instead of the fifth and sixth trumpets, like the former, being marked by that name alone, they are called woes. It was because the laws were transgressed, the ordinance changed, and the everlasting covenant broken, that the curse came upon the earth or the land.
“We have passed the period in the political history of the world, when the Western Empire was extinguished; and the way was thereby opened for the exaltation of the papacy. The imperial power of the city of Rome was annihilated, and the office and the name of the emperor of the West was abolished for a season. The trumpets assume a new form, as they are directed to a new object, and the close coincidence, or rather express identity between the king of the south, or the king of the north, as described by Daniel, and the first and second woe, will be noted in the subsequent illustration of the latter. The spiritual supremacy of the pope, it may be remembered, was acknowledged and maintained, after the fall of Rome, by the Emperor Justinian. And whether in the character of a trumpet or a woe, the previous steps of history raise us, as on a platform, to behold in a political view the judgments that fell on apostate Christendom, and finally led to the subversion of the Eastern Empire.”
CHAP. 9:1 “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.”
“Constantinople was besieged for the first time after the extinction of the Western Empire, by Chosroes, the king of Persia.”
“A star fell from heaven unto the earth; and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.”
“‘While the Persian monarch contemplated the wonders of his art and power, he received an epistle from an obscure citizen of Mecca, inviting him to acknowledge Mahomet as the apostle of God. He rejected the invitation, and tore the epistle. “It is thus,” exclaimed the Arabian prophet, “that God will tear the kingdom, and reject the supplication of Chosroes.” Placed on the verge of these two empires of the East, Mahomet observed with secret joy the progress of mutual destruction; and in the midst of the Persian triumphs he ventured to foretell that, before many years should elapse, victory should again return to the banners of the Romans.’ ‘At the time when this prediction is said to have been delivered, no prophecy could be more distant from its accomplishment (!) since the first twelve years of Heraclius announced the approaching dissolution of the empire.’
“It was not, like that designative of Attila, on a single spot that the star fell, but UPON THE EARTH.
“Chosroes subjugated the Roman possessions in Asia and Africa. And ‘the Roman Empire,’ at that period, ‘was reduced to the walls of Constantinople, with the remnant of Greece, Italy, and Africa, and some maritime cities, from Tyre to Trebisond, of the Asiatic coast. The experience of six years at length persuaded the Persian monarch to renounce the conquest of Constantinople, and to specify the annual tribute, or the ransom of the Roman Empire: a thousand talents of gold, a thousand talents of silver, a thousand silk robes, a thousand horses, and a thousand virgins. Heraclius subscribed to these ignominious terms. But the time and space which he obtained to collect those treasures from the poverty of the East, was industriously employed in the preparation of a bold and desperate attack.’
“The king of Persia despised the obscure Saracen, and derided the message of the pretended prophet of Mecca. Even the overthrow of the Roman Empire would not have opened a door for Mahometanism, or for the progress of the Saracenic armed propagators of an imposture, though the monarch of the Persians, and chagan of the Avars (the successor of Attila) had divided between them the remains of the kingdom of the Caesars. Chosroes himself fell. The Persian and Roman monarchies exhausted each other’s strength. And before a sword was put into the hands of the false prophet, it was smitten from the hands of those who would have checked his career, and crushed his power.
“Since the days of Scipio and Hannibal, no bolder enterprise has been attempted than that which Heraclius achieved for the deliverance of the empire. He permitted the Persians to oppress, for a while, the provinces, and to insult with impunity the capital of the East; while the Roman emperor explored his perilous way through the Black Sea and the mountains of Armenia, penetrated into the heart of Persia, and recalled the armies of the great king to the defense of their bleeding country. The revenge and ambition of Chosroes exhausted his kingdom. The whole city of Constantinople was invested–and the inhabitants descried with terror the flaming signals of the European and Asiatic shores. In the battle of Nineveh, which was fiercely fought from daybreak to the eleventh hour, twenty-eight standards, besides those which might be broken or torn, were taken from the Persians; the greatest part of their army was cut in pieces, and the victors, concealing their own loss, passed the night on the field. The cities and palaces of Assyria were open for the first time to the Romans.
“‘The Greeks and modern Persians minutely described how Chosroes was insulted, and famished, and tortured by the command of an inhuman son, who so far surpassed the example of his father; but at the time of his death, what tongue could relate the story of the parricide? what eye could penetrate into the tower of darkness? The glory of the house of Sassan ended with the life of Chosroes; his unnatural son enjoyed only eight months; fruit of his crimes; and in the space of four years the regal title was assumed by nine candidates, who disputed, with the sword or dagger, the fragments of an exhausted monarchy. Every province and every city of Persia was the scene of independence, of discord, and of blood, and the state of anarchy continued about eight years longer, till the factions were silenced and united under the common yoke of the Arabian Caliphs.’
“The Roman emperor was not strengthened by the conquests which he achieved; and a way was prepared at the same time, and by the same means, for the multitude of Saracens from Arabia, like locusts from the same region, who, propagating in their course the dark and delusive Mahometan creed, speedily overspread both the Persian and Roman Empires.
“More complete illustration of this fact could not be desired than is supplied in the concluding words of the chapter from Gibbon, from which the preceding extracts are taken.”
“‘Yet the deliverer of the East was indigent and feeble. Of the Persian spoils the most valuable portion had been expended in the war, distributed to the soldiers, or buried by an unlucky tempest in the waves of the Euxine. The loss of two hundred thousand soldiers, who had fallen by the sword, was of less fatal importance than the decay of arts, agriculture, and population, in this long and destructive war: and although a victorious army had been formed under the standard of Heraclius, the unnatural effort seems to have exhausted rather than exercised their strength. While the emperor triumphed at Constantinople or Jerusalem, an obscure town on the confines of Syria was pillaged by the Saracens, and they cut in pieces some troops who advanced to its relief–an ordinary and trifling occurrence, had it not been the prelude of a mighty revolution. These robbers were the apostles of Mahomet; their fanatic valour had emerged from the desert; and in the last eight years of his reign, Heraclius lost to the Arabs the same provinces which he had rescued from the Persians.’
“‘The spirit of fraud and enthusiasm, whose abode is not in the heavens,’ was let loose on earth. The bottomless pit needed but a key to open it; and that key was the fall of Chosroes. He had contemptuously torn the letter of an obscure citizen of Mecca. But when from his ‘blaze of glory’ he sunk into ‘the tower of darkness,’ which no eye could penetrate, the name of Chosroes was suddenly to pass into oblivion before that of Mahomet; and the crescent seemed but to wait its rising till the falling of the star. Chosroes, after his entire discomfiture and loss of empire, was murdered in the year 628; and the year 629 is marked by ‘the conquest of Arabia, ‘and the first war of the Mahometans against the Roman Empire.’ ‘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. And he opened the bottomless pit.’ He fell unto the earth. When the strength of the Roman Empire was exhausted, and the great king of the East lay dead in his tower of darkness, the pillage of an obscure town on the borders of Syria was ‘the prelude of a mighty revolution.’ ‘The robbers were the apostles of Mahomet, and their fanatic valor emerged from the desert.’
“A more succinct, yet ample, commentary may be given in the words of another historian:–
“‘While Chosroes of Persia was pursuing his dreams of recovering and enlarging the empire of Cyrus, and Heraclius was gallantly defending the empire of the Caesars against him; while idolatry and metaphysics were diffusing their baneful influence through the church of Christ, and the simplicity and purity of the gospel were nearly lost beneath the mythology which occupied the place of that of ancient Greece and Rome, the seeds of a new empire and of a new religion were sown in the inaccessible desrts of Arabia.’
“The first woe arose at a time when transgressors had come to the full, when men had changed the ordinance and broken the everlasting covenant, when idolatry prevailed, or when tutelar saints were honored–and when the ‘mutual destruction’ of the Roman and Persian Empires prepared the way of the fanatic robbers–or opened the bottomless pit, from whence an imposture, which manifests its origin from the ‘father of lies,’ spread over the greater part of the world.
“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.’ Like the noxious and even deadly vapor which the winds, particularly from the southwest, diffuse in Arabia, Mahometanism spread from thence its pestilential influence–and arose as suddenly and spread as widely as smoke arising out of the pit, the smoke of a great furnace. Such is a suitable symbol of the religion of Mahomet, of itself, or as compared with the pure light of the gospel of Jesus. It was not, like the latter, a light from heaven’ but a smoke out of the bottomless pit.
“‘Mahomet alike instructed to preach and to fight; and the union of these opposite qualities, while it enhanced his merit, contributed to his success; the operation of force and persuasion, of enthusiasm and fear; continually acted on each other, till every barrier yielded to their irresistible power.’ ‘The first Caliphs ascended the pulpit to persuade and edify the congregation.’
“While the State was exhausted by the Persian war, and the church was distracted by the Nestorian and Monophysite sects, Mahomet, with the sword in one hand and the Koran in the other erected his throne on the ruins of Christianity and of Rome. The genius of the Arabian prophet, the manners of his nation, and the spirit of his religion, involve the causes of the decline and fall of the Eastern Empire; and our eyes are curiously intent on one of the most memorable revolutions which have impressed a new and most lasting character on the nations of the globe.
“Mahomet, it may be said, has heretofore divided the world with Jesus. He rose up against the Prince of princes. A great sword was given him. His doctrine, generated by the spirit of fraud and enthusiasm, whose abode is not in the heavens, as even an unbeliever could tell, arose out of the bottomless pit, spread over the earth like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. It spread from Arabia over a great part of Asia, Africa, and Europe. The Greeks of Egypt, whose numbers could scarcely equal a tenth of the nation, were overwhelmed b y the universal defection. And even in the farthest extremity of continental Europe, the decline of the French monarchy invited the attacks of these insatiate fanatics. The smoke that arose from the cave of Hera was diffused from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean. But the prevalence of their faith is best seen in the extent of their conquests.”
VERSE 3. “And there came out of the smoke, locusts upon the earth; and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.”
“A false religion was set up, which, although the scourge of transgressions and idolatry, filled the world with darkness and delusion; and swarms of Saracens, like locusts, overspread the earth, and speedily extended their ravages over the Roman Empire, from east to west. The hail descended from the frozen shores of the Baltic; the burning mountain fell upon the sea from Africa; and the locusts (the fit symbol of the Arabs) issued from Arabia, their native region. They came as destroyers, propagating a new doctrine, and stirred up to rapine and violence by motives of interest and religion.
“‘In the ten years of the administration of Omar, the Saracens reduced to his obedience thirty-six thousand cities or castles, destroyed four thousand churches or temples of the unbelievers, and erected fourteen hundred mosques, for the exercise of the religion of Mahomet. One hundred years after his flight from Mecca, the arms and the reign of his successors extended from India to the Atlantic Ocean.
“‘At the end of the first century of the Hegira, the Caliphs were the most potent and absolute monarchs of the globe. The regal and sacerdotal characters were united in the successors of Mahomet. Under the last of the Ommiades, the Arabic Empire extended two hundred days’ journey from east to west, from the confines of Tartary and India to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. And if we retrench the sleeve of the robe, as it is styled by their writers, the long and narrow province of Africa, the solid and compact dominion from Fargana to Aden, from Tarsus to Surat, will spread on every side to the measure of four or five months of the march of a caravan. The progress of the Mahometan religion diffused over this ample space a general resemblance of manners and opinions; the language and laws of the Koran were studied with equal devotion at Sarmacand and Seville; the Moor and the Indian embraced as countrymen and brothers in the pilgrimage of Mecca; and the Arabian language was adopted as the popular idiom in all the provinces to the westward of the Tigris.’
“A still more specific illustration may be given of the power, like unto that of scorpions, which was given them. Not only was their attack speedy and vigorous, but ‘the nice sensibility of honor, which weighs the insult rather than the injury, sheds its deadly venom on the quarrels of the Arabs:–an indecent action, a contemptuous word, can be expiated only by the blood of the offender; and such is their patient inveteracy that they expect whole months and years the opportunity of revenge.'”
VERSE 4. “And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.”
On the sounding of the first angel, the third part of the trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
After the death of Mahomet, he was succeeded in the command by Abubeker, A. D. 632, who, as soon as he had fairly established his authority and government, dispatched a circular letter to the Arabian tribes, of which the following is an extract:–
“This is to acquaint you that I intend to send the true believers into Syria to take it out of the hands of the infidels, and I would have you know that the fighting for religion is an act of obedience to God.”
“His messengers returned with the tidings of pious and martial ardor, which they had kindled in every province; the camp of Medina was successively filled with the intrepid bands of the Saracens, who panted for action, complained of the heat of the season and the scarcity of provisions, and accused, with impatient murmurs, the delays of the caliph. As soon as their numbers were complete, Abubeker ascended the hill, reviewed the men, the horses, and the arms, and poured forth a fervent prayer for the success of their undertaking. His instructions to the chiefs of the Syrians were inspired by the warlike fanaticism which advances to seize, and affects to despise, the objects of earthly ambition. ‘Remember,’ said the successor of the prophet, ‘that you are always in the presence of God, on the verge of death, in the assurance of judgment, and the hope of Paradise: avoid injustice and oppression; consult with your brethren, and study to preserve the love and confidence of your troops. When you fight the battles of the Lord acquit yourselves like men, without turning your backs; but let not your victory be stained with the blood of women and children. Destroy no palm-trees, nor burn any fields of corn. Cut down no fruit-trees, nor do any mischief to cattle, only such as you kill to eat. When you make any covenant or article, stand to it, and be as good as your word. As you go on, you will find some religious persons who live retired in monasteries, and propose to themselves to serve God that way; let them alone, and neither kill them nor destroy their monasteries; and you will find another sort of people that belong to the synagogue of Satan, who have shaven crowns: be sure you cleave their skulls, and give them no quarter till they either turn Mahometans or pay tribute.’
“It is not said in prophecy or in history that the more humane injunctions were as scrupulously obeyed as the ferocious mandate. But it was so commanded them. And the preceding are the only instructions recorded by Gibbon, as given by Abubeker to the chiefs whose duty it was to issue the commands to all the Saracen hosts. The commands are alike discriminating with the prediction; as if the caliph himself had been acting in known as well as direct obedience to a higher mandate than that of mortal man–and in the very act of going forth to fight against the religion of Jesus, and to propagate Mahometanism in its stead, he repeated the words which it was foretold in the Revelation of Jesus Christ that he would say.”
VERSE 5. “And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months; and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion when he striketh a man.”
“Their constant incursions into the Roman territory, and frequent assaults on Constantinople itself, were an unceasing torment throughout the empire, which yet they were not able effectually to subdue, notwithstanding the long period, afterward more directly alluded to, during which they continued, by unremitting attacks, grievously to afflict an idolatrous church, of which the pope was the head. Their charge was to torment, and then to hurt, but not to kill, or utterly destroy. The marvel was that they did not. To repeat the words of Gibbon: ‘The calm historian of the present hour must study to explain by what means the church and State were saved from this impending, and, as it would seem, from this inevitable danger. In this inquiry I shall unfold the events that rescued our ancestors of Britain, and our neighbors of Gaul, from the civil and religious yoke of the Koran; that protected the majesty of Rome, and delayed the servitude of Constantinople; that invigorated the defense of the Christians, and scattered among their enemies the seeds of division and decay.’ Ninety pages of illustration follow, to which we refer the readers of Gibbon.”
VERSE 6. “And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.”
“Men were weary of life, when life was spared only for a renewal of woe, and when all that they accounted sacred was violated and all that they held dear constantly endangered; and when the savage Saracens domineered over them, or left them only to a momentary repose, ever liable to be suddenly or violently interrupted, as if by the sting of a scorpion. They who tormented men were commanded not to kill them. And death might thus have been sought even where it was not found. ‘Whosoever falls in battle,’ says Mahomet, ‘his sins are forgiven at the day of Judgment; at the day of Judgment; at the day of Judgment his wounds shall be resplendent as vermilion, and odiferous as musk, and the loss of his limbs shall be supplied by the wings of angels and cherubim. The intrepid souls of the Arabs were fired with enthusiasm; the picture of the invisible world was strongly painted on their imagination; and the death which they had always despised became an object of hope and desire.”
VERSE 7. “And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle.”
“Arabia, in the opinion of the naturalist, is the genuine and original country of the horse; the climate most propitious, not indeed to the size, but to the spirit and swiftness of that generous animal. The merit of the Barb, the Spanish, and the English breed, is derived from a mixture of the Arabian blood; and the Bedouins preserve with superstitious care the honors and the memory of the purest race. These horses are educated in the tents, among the children of the Arabs, with a tender familiarity, which trains them in the habits of gentleness and attachment. They are accustomed only to walk and to gallop; their sensations are not blunted by the incessant use of the spur and whip; their powers are reserved for the moment of flight and pursuit; but no sooner do they feel the touch of the hand or the stirrup, than they dart away with the swiftness of the wind.
“The Arabian horse takes the lead throughout the world; and skill in horsemanship is the art and science of Arabia. And the barbed Arabs, swift as locusts and armed like scorpions, ready to dart away in a moment, were ever prepared unto battle.
“And on their heads were, as it were, crowns like gold. When Mahomet entered Medina (A.D. 622), and was first received as its prince, ‘a turban was unfurled before him to supply the deficiency of a standard.’ The turbans of the Saracens, like unto a coronet, were their ornament and their boast. The rich booty abundantly supplied and frequently renewed them. To assume the turban, is proverbially to turn Mussulman. And the Arabs were anciently distinguished by the mitres which they wore.
“‘And their faces were as the faces of men.’ ‘The gravity and firmness of the mind of the Arab is conspicuous in his outward demeanor — his only gesture is that of stroking his beard, the venerable symbol of manhood.’ ‘The honor of their beard is most easily wounded.'”
VERSE 8. “And they had hair as the hair of women.”
“Long hair” is esteemed an ornament by women. The Arabs, unlike to other men, had their hair as the hair of women, or uncut, as their practice is recorded by Pliny and others. But there was nothing effeminate in their character; for, as denoting their ferocity and strength to devour, their teeth were as the teeth of lions.
VERSE 9. “And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron.”
“The cuirass (or breastplate) was in use among the Arabs in the days of Mahomet. In the battle of Ohud (the second which Mahomet fought) with the Koreish of Mecca (A. D. 624), ‘seven hundred of them were armed with cuirasses.’ And in his next victory over the Jews, ‘three hundred cuirasses, five hundred pikes, a thousand lances, composed the most useful portion of the spoil,’ After the defeat of the imperial army of seventy thousand men, on the plain of Aiznadin (A. D. 633), the spoil taken by the Saracens ‘was inestimable: many banners and crosses of gold and silver, precious stones, silver and gold chains, and innumerable suits of the richest armor and apparel. The seasonable supply of arms became the instrument of new victories.'”
VERSE 9. “And the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.”
“The charge of the Arabs was not like that of the Greeks and Romans, the efforts of a firm and compact infantry; their military force was chiefly formed of cavalry and archers; and the engagement was often interrupted, and often renewed by single combats and flying skirmishes &c. The periods of the battle of Cadesia were distinguished by their peculiar appellations. The first, from the well-timed appearance of six thousand of the Syrian brethren, was denominated the day of succor. The day of concussion might express the disorder of one, or perhaps of both the contending armies. The third, a nocturnal tumult, received the whimsical name of the night of barking, from the discordant clamors, which were compared to the inarticulate sounds of the fiercest animals. The morning of the succeeding day determined the fate of Persia. With a touch of the hand, the Arab horses darted away with the swiftness of the wind. The sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. Their conquests were marvelous, both in rapidity and extent, and their attack was instantaneous. Nor was it less successful against the Romans than the Persians. ‘A religion of peace was incapable of withstanding the fanatical cry of ‘Fight, fight! Paradise, paradise! that re-echoed in the ranks of the Saracens.'”
VERSE 10. And they had tails like unto scorpions; and there were stings in their tails; and their power was to hurt men five months.”
“The authority of the companions of Mahomet expired with their lives; and the chiefs or emirs of the Arabian tribes left behind in the desert the spirit of equality and independence. The legal and sacerdotal characters were united in the successors of Mahomet; and if the Koran was the rule of their actions, they were the supreme judges and interpreters of that divine book. They reigned by the right of conquest over the nations of the East, to whom the name Liberty was unknown, and who were accustomed to applaud in their tyrants the acts of violence and severity that were exercised at their own expense.”
Thus far Keith has furnished us with illustrations of the sounding of the first five trumpets. But here we must take leave of him, and, in applying the prophetic periods, pursue another course.
THE TORMENT OF THE GREEKS ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS.
“Their power was to hurt men five months.”
“They had a king over them.” From the death of Mahomet until near the close of the 13th century, the Mahometans were divided into various factions, under several leaders, with no generalcivil government extending over them all. Near the close of the 13th century, Othman founded a government, which has since been known as the Ottoman government, or empire, extending over all the principal Mahometan tribes, consolidating them into one grand monarchy.
The character of the king. “Which is the angel of the bottomless pit.” An angel signifies a messenger, or minister, either good or bad; not always a spiritual being. “The angel of the bottomless pit,” or chief minister of the religion which came from thence when it was opened. That religion is Mahometanism, and the Sultan is its chief minister. “The sultan, or grand signior, as he is indifferently called, is also supreme caliph, or high priest, uniting in his person the highest spiritual dignity with the supreme secular authority.”–World as it Is, p. 361.
When the address of “The World’s Anti-Slavery Convention” was presented to Mehemet Ali, he expressed his willingness to act in the matter, but said he could do nothing, they “must go to the heads of religion at Constantinople,” that is, the sultan.
His name. In Hebrew, “Abaddon,” the destroyer; in Greek, “Apollyon,” one that exterminates or destroys. Having two different names in the two languages, it is evident that the character, rather than the name of the power, is intended to be represented. If so, in both languages he is a destroyer. Such has always been the character of the Ottoman government.
Says Perkins: “He” [the sultan] “has unlimited power over the lives and property of his subjects, especially of the high officers of State whom he can remove, plunder, or put to death at pleasure. They are required submissively to kiss the bow-string which he sends them, where-with they are to be strangled.”
All the above remarks apply to the Ottoman government in a striking manner.
But when did Othman make his first assault on the Greek Empire? According to Gibbon (“Decline and Fall,” &c.), “Othman first entered the territory of Nicomedia on the 27th day of July, 1299.”
The calculations of some writers have gone upon the supposition that the period should begin with the foundation of the Ottoman Empire; but this is evidently an error; for they not only were to have a king over them, but were to torment men five months. But the period of torment could not begin before the first attack of the tormentors, which was as above, July 27, 1299.
The calculation which follows, founded on this starting-point, was made and published in “Christ’s Second Coming,” &c., by the author, in 1838.
“And their power was to hurt men five months.” Thus far their commission extended to torment, by constant depredations, but not politically to kill them. “Five months;” that is, one hundred and fifty years. Commencing July 27, 1299, the one hundred and fifty years reach to 1449. During that whole period the Turks were engaged in an almost perpetual warfare with the Greek Empire, but yet without conquering it. They seized upon and held several of the Greek provinces, but still Greek independence was maintained in Constantinople. But in 1449, the termination of the one hundred and fifty years, a change came. Before presenting the history of that change, however, we will look at verses 12-15.
THE OTTOMAN SUPREMACY IN CONSTANTINOPLE THREE HUNDRED AND NINETY-ONE YEARS AND FIFTEEN DAYS.
VERSE 12-15. “One woe is past; and behold, there come two woes more hereafter. And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.”
The first woe was to continue from the rise of Mahometanism until the end of the five months. Then the first woe was to end, and the second begin. And when the sixth angel sounded, it was commanded to take off the restraints which had been imposed on the nation, by which they were restricted to the work of tormenting men, and their commission extended to slay the third part of men. This command came from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God. “The four angels” are the four principal sultanies of which the Ottoman Empire is composed, located in the country of the Euphrates. These sultanies were situated at Aleppo, Iconium, Damascus, and Bagdad. Previously they had been restrained; but God commanded, and they were loosed.
In the year 1449, John Paleologus, the Greek emperor, died, but left no children to inherit his throne, and Constantine Deacozes succeeded to it. But he would not venture to ascend the throne without the consent of Amurath, the Turkish sultan. He therefore sent ambassadors to ask his consent, and obtained it, before he presumed to call himself sovereign.
“This shameful proceeding seemed to presage the approaching downfall of the empire. Ducas, the historian, counts John Paleologus for the last Greek emperor, without doubt, because he did not consider as such, a prince who had not dared to reign without the permission of the enemy.”
Let this historical fact be carefully examined in connection with the prediction above. This was not a violent assault made on the Greeks, by which their empire was overthrown and their independence taken away, but simply a voluntary surrender of that independence into the hands of the Turks, by saying, “I cannot reign unless you permit.”
The four angels were loosed for an hour, a day, a month, and a year, to slay the third part of men. This period amounts to three hundred and ninety-one years and fifteen days; during which Ottoman supremacy was to exist in Constantinople.
But, although the four angels were thus loosed by the voluntary submission of the Greeks, yet another doom awaited the seat of empire. Amurath, the sultan to whom the submission of Deacozes was made, and by whose permission he reigned in Constantinople, soon after died, and was succeeded in the empire, in 1451, by Mahomet II., who set his heart on Constantinople and determined to make it a prey. He accordingly made preparations for besieging and taking the city. The siege commenced on the 6th of April, 1453, and ended in the taking of the city and the death of the last of the Constantines, on the 16th day of May following. And the eastern city of the Caesars became the seat of the Ottoman Empire.
The arms and mode of warfare which were used in the siege in which Constantinople was to be overthrown, and held in subjection, were distinctly noticed by the revelator.
We will notice, first, the army.
VERSE 16. “And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand; and I heard the number of them.”
Innumerable hordes of horses and them that sat on them. Gibbon describes the first invasion of the Roman territories by the Turks thus: “The myriads of Turkish horse overspread a frontier of six hundred miles from Tauris to Azeroum, and the blood of 130,000 Christians was a grateful sacrifice to the Arabian prophet.” Whether the revelator designed to convey the idea of any definite number, the reader must judge. Some suppose 200,000 twice-told is meant, and then, following some historians, find that number of Turkish warriors in the siege of Constantinople. Some think 200,000,000 to mean all the Turkish warriors during the three hundred and ninety-one years and fifteen days of their triumph over the Greeks. I confess this to me appears the most likely. But as it cannot be ascertained whether this is the fact or not, I will affirm nothing on the point.
VERSE 17. “And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone; and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouth issued fire, and smoke, and brimstone.”
On this text I shall again refer to Mr. Keith for an illustration:–
“The color of fire is red, of hyacinth or jacinth blue, and of brimstone, yellow, and this, as Mr. Daubuz observes, ‘has a literal accomplishment for the Othmans, from the first time of their appearance, have affected to wear such warlike apparel of scarlet, blue, and yellow. Of the Spahi particularly, some have red and some have yellow standards, and others red or yellow mixed with other colors. In appearance, too, the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions, to denote their strength, courage, and fierceness.’ Without rejecting so plausible an interpretation, the suggestion may not be unwarrantable that a still closer and more direct exposition may be given of that which the prophet saw in the vision. In the prophetic description of the fall of Babylon they who rode on horses are described as holding the bow and the lance; but it was with other arms than the arrow and the spear that the Turkish warriors encompassed Constantinople; and the breastplates of the horsemen, in reference to the more destructive implements of war, might then, for the first time, be said to be fire, and jacinth, and brimstone. The musket had recently supplied the place of the bow. Fire emanated from their breasts. Brimstone, the flame of which is jacinth, was an ingredient both of the liquid fire and of gunpowder. Congruity seems to require this more strictly literal interpretation, as conformable to the significancy of the same terms in the immediately subsequent verse, including the same general description. A new mode of warfare was at that time introduced which has changed the nature of war itself, in regard to the form of its instruments of destruction; and sounds and sights unheard of and unknown before, were the death-knell and doom of the Roman Empire. Invention outrivaled force, and a new power was introduced, that of musketry, as well as artillery, in the art of war, before which the old Macedonian phalanx would not have remained unbroken, nor the Roman legions stood. That which John saw ‘in the vision,’ is read in the history of the times.”
VERSE 18. “By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.”
“‘Among the implements of destruction, he studied with peculiar care the recent and tremendous discovery of the Latins, and his artillery surpassed whatever had yet appeared in the world. A founder of cannon, a Dane or Hungarian, who had been almost starved in the Greek service, deserted to the Moslems, and was liberally entertained by the Turkish sultan. Mahomet was satisfied with the answer to his first question, which he eagerly pressed on the artist, “Am I able to cast a cannon capable of throwing a ball or stone of sufficient size to batter the walls of Constantinople? “I am not ignorant of their strength, but were they more solid than those of Babylon, I could oppose an engine of superior power; the position and management of that engine must be left to your engineers.” On this assurance a foundry was established at Adrianople; the metal was prepared; and at the end of three months Urban produced a piece of brass ordnance of stupendous and almost incredible magnitude. A measure of twelve palms was assigned to the bore, and the stone bullet weighed about six hundred pounds. A vacant place before the new palace was chosen for the first experiment: but to prevent the sudden and mischievous effects of astonishment and fear, a proclamation was issued that the cannon would be discharged the ensuing day. The explosion was felt or heard in the circuit of a hundred furlongs; the ball, by the force of the gunpowder, was driven about a mile, and on the spot where it fell it buried itself a fathom deep in the ground. For the conveyance of this destructive engine, a frame or carriage of thirty wagons was linked together, and drawn along by a train of sixty oxen; two hundred men on both sides were stationed to poise or support the rolling weight; two hundred and fifty workmen marched before to smooth the way and repair the bridges, and nearly two months were employed in a laborious journey of a hundred and fifty miles. I dare not reject the positive and unanimous evidence of cotemporary writers. A Turkish cannon, more enormous than that of Mahomet, still guards the entrance of the Dardanelles, and if the use be inconvenient, it has been found, on a late trial, that the effect is far from contemptible. A stone bullet of eleven hundred pounds weight was once discharged with three hundred and thirty pounds of powder; at the distance of six hundred yards it shivered into three rocky fragments, traversed the strait, and, leaving the waters in a foam, again rose and bounded against the opposite hill.”
“In the siege, ‘the incessant volleys of lances and arrows were accompanied with the smoke, the sound, and the fire of their musketry and cannon. Their small arms discharged at the same time five or even ten balls of lead of the size of a walnut, and according to the closeness of the ranks, and the force of the powder, several breast-plates and bodies were transpierced by the same shot. But the Turkish approaches were soon sunk in trenches, or covered with ruins. Each day added to the science of the Christians, but their inadequate stock of gunpowder was wasted in the operations of each day. Their ordnance was not powerful, either in size or number, and if they possessed some heavy cannon, they feared to plant them on the walls, lest the aged structure should be shaken and overthrown by the explosion. The same destructive secret had been revealed to the Moslems, by whom it was employed with the superior energy of zeal, riches, and despotism. The great cannon of Mahomet has been separately noticed; an important and visible object in the history of the times; but that enormous engine was flanked by two fellows almost of equal magnitude; the long order of the Turkish artillery was pointed against the walls; fourteen batteries thundered at once on the most accessible places, and of one of these it is ambiguously expressed that it was mounted with one hundred and thirty guns, or that it discharged one hundred and thirty bullets. Yet in the power and activity of the sultan we may discern the infancy of the new science; under a master who counted the moments, the great cannon could be loaded and fired no more than seven times in one day. The heated metal unfortunately burst; several workman were destroyed, and the skill of an artist was admired who bethought himself of preventing the danger and the accident by pouring oil after each explosion into the mouth of the cannon.'”
This historical sketch from Gibbon, of the use of gunpowder, fire-arms, and cannon, as the instrumentality by which the city was finally overcome, is so illustrative of the text that one can hardly imagine any other scene can be described.
The specified time for the continuance of Turkish or Mahometan supremacy over the Greek was an hour, day, month, and year. A prophetic year is three hundred and sixty days (or years, a month, thirty days (years); one day (one year and an hour, or the twenty-fourth part of a prophetic day, would be fifteen days. This last is easily calculated. Three hundred and sixty, the number of days in a prophetic year, divided by twenty-four, the number of house in a day, give us fifteen days. The whole period would be three hundred and ninety-one years and fifteen days.
Commencing when the one hundred and fifty years ended, in 1449, the period would end August 11, 1840. Judging from the manner of the commencement of the Ottoman supremacy which was by a voluntary acknowledgement on the part of the Greek emperor that he only reigned by permission of the Turkish sultan, we should naturally conclude that the fall or departure of the Ottoman independence would be brought about in the same way; that at the end of the specified period, the sultan would voluntarily surrender his independence into the hand of the Christian powers, from whom he had received it
When the foregoing calculation was made by Eld. Litch in 1838, it was purely a matter of calculation on the prophetic periods of Scripture. Now, however, the time is passed by, and it is proper to inquire what the result has been–whether it has corresponded with the previous calculation.
I shall now pass to the question, Has the supremacy departed from the Mohometans into Christian hands, so that the Turks now exist and reign by the sufferance and permission of the Christian powers, as the Christians did for some two or three years by the permission of the Turks?
First Testimony.–The following is from Rev. Mr. Goodell, missionary of the American Board at Constantinople, addressed to the Board, and by them published in the Missionary Herald, for April, 1841, p. 160:–
“The power of Islamism is broken forever; and there is no concealing the fact even from themselves. They exist now by mere sufferance. And though there is a mighty endeavor made to graft the institutions of civilized and Christian countries upon the decayed trunk, yet the very root itself is fast wasting away by the venom of its own poison. How wonderful it is, that, when all Christendom combined together to check the progress of Mahometan power, it waxed exceedingly great in spite of every opposition; and now, when all the mighty potentates of Christian Europe, who feel fully competent to settle all the quarrels, and arrange all the affairs of the whole world, are leagued together for its protection and defense, down it comes, in spite of all their fostering care.”
Mr. Goodell has been for ears a missionary in the Turkish dominions, and is competent to judge of the state of the government. His deliberate and unequivocal testimony is, that “the power of Islamism is broken forever.” But it is said the Turks yet reign! So also says our witnesses “but it is by mere sufferance.” They are at the mercy of the Christians. Their independence is broken.
Another Witness.–Rev. Mr. Balch, of Providence, R. I., in an attack on Mr. Miller for saying that the Ottoman Empire fell in 1840 says:–
“How can an honest man have the hardihood to stand up before an intelligent audience, and make such an assertion, when the most authentic version of the change of the Ottoman Empire is that it has not been on a better foundation in fifty years, for it is now re-organized by the European kingdoms, and is honourably treated as such.”
But how does it happen that Christian Europe re-organized the government? What need of it if it was not dis-organized? If Christian Europe has done this, then it is now, to all intents and purposes, a Christian government, and is only ruled nominally by the sultan as their vassal.
This testimony is the more valuable for having come from an opponent. We could not have selected and put together words more fully expressive of the idea of the present state of the Ottoman Empire. It is true the Christian governments of Europe have re-organized the Turkish Empire, and it is their creature. From 1840 to the present time, the Ottoman government has been under the dictation of the great powers of Europe; and scarcely a measure of that government has been adopted and carried out without the interference and dictation of the allies; and that dictation has been submitted to by them.
It is in this light politicians have looked upon the government since 1840, as the following item will show.
The London Morning Herald, after the capture of St. Jean d’Acre, speaking of the state of things in the Ottoman Empire, says:–
“We (the allies) have conquered St. Jean d’Acre. We have dissipated into thin air the prestige that lately invested, as with a halo, the name of Mehemet Ali. We have, in all probability, destroyed forever the power of that hitherto successful ruler. But have we done aught to restore strength to the Ottoman Empire? We fear not. We fear that the sultan has been reduced to the rank of a puppet; and that the sources of the Turkish Empire’s strength are entirely destroyed.
“If the supremacy of the sultan is hereafter to be maintained in Egypt, it must be maintained, we fear, by the unceasing intervention of England and Russia.”
What the London Morning Herald last November feared, has since been realized. The sultan has been entirely, in all the great questions which have come up, under the dictation of the Christian kingdoms of Europe.
WHEN DID MAHOMETAN INDEPENDENCE IN CONSTANTINOPLE DEPART?
In order to answer this question understandingly, it will be necessary to review briefly the history of that power for a few years past.
For several years the sultan has been embroiled in war with Mehemet Ali, pacha of Egypt. In 1838 there was a threatening of war between the sultan and his Egyptian vassal. Mehemet Ali, pacha, in a note addressed to the foreign consuls, declared that in future he would pay no tribute to the Porte, and that he considered himself independent sovereign of Egypt, Arabia, and Syria. The sultan, naturally incensed at this declaration, would have immediately commenced hostilities had he not been restrained by the influence of the foreign ambassadors, and persuaded to delay. This war, however, was finally averted by the announcement of Mehemet, that he was ready to pay a million of dollars, arrearages of tribute which he owed the Porte, and an actual payment of $750,000, in August of that year.
In 1839, hostilities again commenced, and were prosecuted, until, in a general battle between the armies of the sultan and Mehemet, the sultan’s army was entirely cut up and destroyed, and his fleet taken by Mehemet and carried into Egypt. So completely had the sultan’s fleet been reduced, that, when hostilities commenced in August, he had only two first-rates and three frigates, as the sad remains of the once powerful Turkish fleet. This fleet Mehemet positively refused to give up and return to the sultan, and declared, if the powers attempted to take it from him he would burn it. In this posture affairs stood, when, in 1840, England, Russia, Austria, and Prussia, interposed, and determined on a settlement of the difficulty; for it was evident, if let alone, Mehemet would soon become master of the sultan’s throne.
The following extract from an official document, which appeared in the Moniteur Ottoman, August 22, 1840, will give an idea of the course of affairs at this juncture. The conference spoken of was composed of the four powers above-named, and was held in London, July 15, 1840.
“Subsequent to the occurrence of the disputes alluded to, and after the reverses experienced, as known to all the world, the ambassadors of the great powers at Constantinople, in a collective official note, declared that their governments were unanimously agreed upon taking measures to arrange the said differences. The Sublime Porte, with a view of putting a stop to the effusion of Mussulman blood, and to the various evils which would arise from a renewal of hostilities, accepted the intervention of the great powers.”
Here was certainly a voluntary surrender of the question into the hands of the great powers. but this document further says:–
“His Excellency, Sheikh Effendi, the Bey Likgis, was therefore dispatched as plenipotentiary to represent the Sublime Porte at the conference which took place in London, for the purpose in question. It having been felt that all the zealous labors of the conferences of London in the settlement of the pacha’s pretensions were useless, and that the only public way was to have recourse to coercive measures to reduce him to obedience in case he persisted in not listening to pacific overtures, the powers have, together with the Ottoman plenipotentiary, drawn up and signed a treaty, whereby the sultan offers the pacha the hereditary government of Egypt and all that part of Syria extending from the gulf of Suez to the lake of Tiberias, together with the province of Acre, for life; the pacha, on his part, evacuating all other parts of the sultan’s dominions now occupied by him, and returning the Ottoman fleet. A certain space of time has been granted him to accede to these terms and, as the proposals of the sultan and his allies, the four powers, do not admit of any change or qualification, if the pacha refuses to accede to them, it is evident that the evil consequences to fall upon him will be attributable solely to his own fault.
“His Excellency, Rifat Bey, Musleshar for foreign affairs, has been dispatched in a government steamer to Alexandria, to communicate the ultimatum to the pacha.”
From these extracts it appears,
This was a voluntary governmental act on the part of the sultan.
The question now comes up, When was that document put officially under the control of Mehemet Ali?
The following extract from a letter of a correspondent of the London Morning Chronicle, of Sept. 18, 1840, dated, Constantinople, Aug. 27, 1840, will answer the question:–
“By the French steamer of the 24th, we have advices from Egypt to the 16th. They show no alteration in the resolution of the pacha. Confiding in the valor of his Arab army, and in the strength of the fortifications which defend his capital, he seems determined to abide by the last alternative; and as recourse to this, therefore, is now inevitable, all hope may be considered as at an end of a termination of the affair without bloodshed. Immediately on the arrival of the Cyclops steamer with the news of the convention of the four powers, Mehemet Ali, it is stated, had quitted Alexandria, to make a short tour through Lower Egypt; the object of absenting himself at such a moment being partly to avoid conferences with the European consuls, but principally to endeavor, by his own presence, to arouse the fanaticism of the Bedouin tribes, and facilitate the raising of his new levies. During the interval of his absence, the Turkish government steamer, which had reached Alexandria on the 11th, with the envoy Rifat Bey on board, had been by his orders placed in quarantine, and she was not released from it till the 16th. Previous, however, to the Porte’s leaving, and on the very day on which he had been admitted to pratique, the above-named functionary had had an audience of the Pacha, and had communicated to him the command of the sultan, with respect to the evacuation of the Syrian provinces, appointing another audience for the next day, when, in the presence of the consuls of the European powers, he would receive from him his definite answer, and inform him of the alternative of his refusing to obey; giving him the ten days which had been allotted him by the convention to decide on the course he should think fit to adopt.”
According to the foregoing statement, the ultimatum was officially put into the power of Mehemet Ali, and was disposed of by his orders, viz., sent to quarantine, on the ELEVENTH DAY OF AUGUST, 1840.
But have we any evidence, besides the fact of the arrival of Rifat Bey at Alexandria with the ultimatum on the 11th of August, that Ottoman supremacy died, or was dead, that day?
Read the following, from the same writer quoted above, dated, Constantinople, August 12, 1840:–
“I can add but little to my last letter, on the subject of the plans of the four powers; and I believe the details I then gave you comprise everything that is yet decided on. The portion of the pacha, as I then stated, is not to extend beyond the line of Acre, and does not include either Arabia or Candia. Egypt alone is to be hereditary in his family, and the province of Acre to be considered as a pachalic, to be governed by his son during his lifetime, but afterward to depend on the will of the Porte; and even this latter is only to be granted him on the condition of his accepting these terms, and delivering up the Ottoman fleet within ten days. In the event of his not doing so, this pachalic is to be cut off. Egypt is then to be offered him, with another ten days to deliberate on it, before actual force is employed against him.
“The manner, however, of applying the force, should he refuse to comply with these terms, whether a simple blockade is to be established on the coast, or whether his capital is to be bombarded, and his armies attacked in the Syrian provinces–is the point which still remains to be learned; nor does a note delivered yesterday by the four ambassadors, in answer to a quotation put to them by the Porte, as to the plan to be adopted n such an event, throw the least light on this subject. It simply states that provision has been made, and there is no necessity for the Divan alarming itself about any contingency that might afterward arise.”
Let us now analyze this testimony.
Where was the sultan’s independence that day? GONE! Who had the supremacy of the Ottoman Empire in their hands? The great powers. According to previous calculation, therefore, the Ottoman supremacy DID depart, on the 11th of August, into the hands of the great Christian powers of Europe. Then the second woe is past, and the sixth trumpet has ceased its sounding; and the conclusion is now inevitable, because the word of God affirms the fact in so many words, “Behold the third woe cometh quickly.”
Verses 19-21 are interesting scriptures when viewed in the light of their actual historical fulfillment.
VERSE 19. “For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails; for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.”
In addition to the fire, smoke, and brimstone, which apparently issued out of their mouths, it is said that their power was also in their tails. It is a remarkable fact that the horse’s tail is a well-known Turkish standard, a symbol of office and authority. The meaning of the expression would seem to be that their tails were the symbol, or emblem, of their authority.
VERSE 20. “And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk. 21. Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.”
The worship of devils (demons, the dead deified) and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, may find a fulfillment in the saint worship and image worship of the Roman Catholic church; while of murders, sorceries (pretended miracles through the agency of departed saints), fornications, and thefts, in countries where the Roman religion has prevailed, there has been no lack.
The hordes of Saracens and Turks were let loose as a scourge and punishment upon apostate Christendom; but men suffered the punishment without learning the lesson.
The vow of Mahomet II., published Aug. 2, 1469, in all the mosques of his empire, has an interesting application on this point: “I Mahomet, son of Amurath, …. emperor of emperors and prince of princes, from the rising to the setting sun, promise to the only God, Creator of all things, by my vow and by my oath, that I will not give sleep to my eyes, that I will eat no delicates, that I will not seek out what is pleasant, that I will not touch what is beautiful, nor turn my face from the west to the east, till I overthrow, and trample under the feet of my horses, the gods of the nations,those gods of wood, of brass, of silver, of gold, or of painting, which the disciples of Christ have made with their hands.“–Sismondi Hist. of Italian Republics, vii. 397. Cited by Mr. Birks in his “Mystery of Providence,” p. 429.
In the foregoing, Mr. Keith and Josiah Litch have brought us down through the prophecy of the trumpets, and the woes, to the last. We now wish to briefly notice some of the events to occur under the sounding of the seventh angel.
OR, THIRD WOE.
While we may speak of fulfilled prophecy with positiveness, we would apply unfulfilled prophecy with becoming modesty We may, however, suggest that the anger of the nations will be immediately followed by the wrath of God, or seven last plagues; see Rev. 15:1; that the judgment of the dead refers not to the judgment of the righteous, for that takes place before the plagues are poured out, but to the judgment of the wicked during the 1000 years of Rev. 20; that the full reward of the righteous will be given when they inherit the new earth, at the close of the 1000 years; and that at that very time God will destroy by the second death all who have corrupted the earth. And why may not the sounding of the seventh angel continue until the end of the 1000 years? and the third woe cover ALL WOE till sin and sinners cease to be, at the close of the seventh millennium?