« PreviousContinue »
(3.) The locusts had faces as the faces of men, and hair as the hair of women.
Thus the Arabs, as Pliny testifies, wore their beards, or rather mustachios, as men; while their hair, like that of women, was flowing or plaited.
(4.) The teeth of the locusts were as the teeth of a lion.
By this expression, we are obviously to understand at once the strength and the rapacity of the people symbolised. To see how fitly such characteristics are ascribed to the Saracens, we need only to peruse the history of their conquests.
(5.) The sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.
Here we behold the rapid career of the Saracens. Without let or hindrance, and almost in the same moment, their numerous cavalry overran alike the rival Empires of Persia and Constantinople.
(6.) They had stings in their tails, like scorpions.
The tail of a beast denotes the superstition which he patronises ?. Hence this part of the symbol teaches us, that the false religion, propagated by the locusts, should be as deadly in a spiritual point of view, as the sting of a scorpion is in a natural point of view. Nothing can be more artful, than the addition of such a peculiarity to the allegorical locusts : for, while it strongly displays the destruc
See above book i. chap. i. $ II. 2. (1.)
tive nature of the superstition, it requires us to apply the whole of the first woe, not merely to the ravages of a secular conqueror, but to the establishment of a new and antichristian religion.
(7.) A command was given to the locusts, that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree.
By this command, the allegorical locusts were required to act in a manner perfectly dissimilar to the ravages of natural locusts : yet, as the command was distinctly given, so was it faithfully obeyed. When Yezid was marching to invade Syria, the Caliph Abu-Beker laid upon him the following remarkable injunction. Destroy no palm-trees ; nor burn any fields of corn : cut down no fruittrees ; nor do any mischief to cattle, only such as you kill to eat.
(8.) The commission of the locusts extended only to hurt those men, who had not the seal of God on their foreheads : but, though they were permitted to hurt them, their warrant gave
them no power to kill them.
In the countries invaded by the Saracens, a very great defection from primitive Christianity had taken place : for, before they began their ravages, the predicted demonolatry of saints and martyrs had extended itself both through the east and through the west, the grand Apostasy had become dominant, and its Latin head the man of sin had been revealed. But Savoy, Piedmont, and the southern provinces of France, which countries were
must be viewed, as jointly constituting the locustking Abaddon : for, in the usual language of prophecy, a king denotes, not any single individual, but a dynasty or kingdom. The chief of the locusts, when they first issued from the pit of the abyss, was Mohammed himself: but, during the allotted period of the woe which they occasioned, the reigning Destroyer was of course the reigning Caliph. Yet Abaddon, by whatever individual he might be represented for the time being, was invariably the head both of the Church and of the State, was invariably at once both the supreme pontiff and the supreme emperor. The two-fold idea was aptly expressed by his single official denomination, The Commander of the Faithful.
3. We must next take into consideration another important character, which is prominently introduced at the very commencement of the prophecy.
Precisely at the sounding of the fifth trumpet which brings on the woe of the locusts, a star is seen to complete its fall from heaven to earth : and, with a key which it receives, it forthwith unlocks the pit of the abyss. When this has been done, a thick smoke arises from the aperture, which speedily darkens the sun and the air : and, out of the smoke, issue the locusts with their destroying leader at their head.
The poetical machinery of the present vision is taken from the sacred oracular caves of the ancient Pagans, which were often thought to communicate with the sea or the great abyss, and which were specially valued when (like that at Delphi) they emitted an intoxicating vapour : it is used, therefore, with singular propriety, in foretelling the rise of a religious imposture ?.
Such is the machinery of the vision : and from its arrangement we may distinctly learn, not only that the star must be something altogether separate from the locusts and their chief, but likewise that both its fall from heaven and its opening the pit of the abyss must chronologically precede the issuing forth of the locusts. In order, therefore, to ascer-: tain what is meant by this imagery, the best and most obvious method is to trace the series of events retrogressively.
(1.) The year, in which the locusts issued from the allegorical pit of the abyss, can only be the year 612: for, in that year, it was, that their leader Mohammed publicly assumed the prophetic office, and shewed himself at the head of the fourteen disciples whom he had painfully gained in private during the three preceding years. Consequently,
"See my Origin of Pagan Idol. book v. chap. 7. § 1. 2. II. 2. In the machinery of the vision, there may possibly be an allusion, not only to oracular caves in general, but also in particular to the cave whither Mohammed himself was wont to retire for the purpose of excogitating his imposture. This cave was the cave of Hera : and the name seems to import, that, in pagan times, it was a grotto temple of Hera or the Lady, as the oracular great mother Lilith or Isi or Neith or Juno was often denominated. Hera was the familiar name of the Queen of heaven, not only in the Greek, but likewise in the widely spreading primeval Sanscrit.