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punishments. The language of Genseric was furious and formidable : the knowledge of his intentions might justify the most unfavourable interpretation of his actions : and the Arians were reproached with the frequent erecutions which stained the palace and dominions of the tyrant.” The same historian immediately afterwards speaks of “ the religious war,” and says that “persecution was made the serious and important business of the Vandal court."
This baneful star is said to have fallen upon the “ rivers and fountains of waters"—that is, as we have above explained under the third vial, it fell upon the richest and most fertile parts of the empire, and upon those places which were the possessions, sources of the revenues, and the depositories of the treasures, of THE CHURCH. The republic of France, under the above vial, fell upon similar places; but it could not be said of this, that it burned “as it were a lamp :" it confined itself to secular concerns, and did not persecute for conscience sake. Genseric, in the year 439, fell upon the rich coasts of Sicily, which were called the granaries of Rome : also upon the coasts of Spain, Luguria, Tuscany, Venetia, Dalmatia, Epirus, Greece, and Sardinia. And in the year 455 he took and pillaged the city of Rome; and for fourteen days and nights gave it up to the avarice and licentiousness of his soldiers, carrying the Empress Eu
doxia and her daughters captive. Throughout all these extensive ravages, he not only spoiled private houses, palaces, and public buildings, but he stripped THE CHURCHES of their riches and ornaments; rased them in most instances to the ground; seized their revenues ; sent their bishops into exile, or to the slaughter; and maimed and tormented, in various ways, such as were nobly firm and inflexible in acknowledging the Deity of God their Saviour.
Such a “star ” might well be called "wormwood,” or bitterness; and from the dreadful poison it infused into the church, it is no wonder that a third part became equally bitter: and that in such a flood of heresy, which the serpent cast out of his mouth after the true church (Rev. xii. 15), very many might be carried away, "and die of the waters, because they were made bitter.” And it was not until the time of Gelimer, who was an equally zealous Arian, that ( in the year 530 ) the Vandal kingdom was subverted by the arms of Belisarius;“when the earth helped the woman,” and thus “opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the Dragon cast out of his mouth.”
“ And the fourth trumpet 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." It is agreed, by almost all commentators, that the first four trumpets relate to the downfal of the Western Empire, and that their greatest fury was confined to its limits. In reference to the miseries which they brought upon the world, Dr. Robertson says, that “ if a man were called upon to fix upon the period in the history of the world, during which the condition of the human race was most calamitous and afflicted, he would without hesitation name that which elapsed from the death of Theodosius the Great in 395, to the establishment of the Lombards in Italy.”
The three trumpets already considered, were truly of this destructive and permanent nature: they had so completely overthrown the vast colossal power
of Rome in the west, that it required the appearance of no new enemy from beyond the bounds of the empire to finish the work of desolation, and to subvert the imperial throne. “The remnant, or the refuse, of previous invasions, was enough to destroy the last remaining parts of Roman greatness in Italy, and to abolish the office and the name of Emperor of Rome.” Accordingly, Odoacer, king of the Heruli, a bold barbarian, and popular leader of the confederate troops of Italy—of whom no new symbol or similitude is given, as in the
three former instances in the year 476 stripped the then emperor, Augustulus, of his imperial robes; and the power and glory of Rome, as bearing rule over any nation, became extinct.
Thus was a third part of the “sun,” or imperial rule,“ smitten,” the remaining two-thirds still existing, under the Emperor of the East. The actual exercise of sovereignty, under the consuls and senators, or “the moon,” was likewise smitten: as were likewise in an equal degree the lustre and honours of the ecclesiastical rulers, the clergy, or the “stars." In consequence of this eclipse or obscuration, the Western Empire was “ darkened,” although not subverted. It revived nominally, and but nominally; so that “the day,” which receives its light direct from the sun, “shone not for a third part of it; nor the night,” which receives its light from the other luminaries, the moon and stars, shone likewise.”
The next three trumpets are introduced by the following solemn and awful denunciation: “ 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 !” This proclamation, thus sounded by an angel throughout the vast expanse of heaven,
plainly intimates, that the calamities of these trumpets shall be GREATER and more TERRIBLE, and refer to events of higher importance, than the four former ones; and hence our attention is in a more special manner called to their contents, which are consequently set forth with more particularity.
FIFTH TRUMPET. “ 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, 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. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them were given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. 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 that have not the mark of God in their foreheads. 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. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared