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partly by fear of the Roman army, partly by the remonstances of his own, and partly by the embassy of Leo the Roman Pontiff, to forego the attempt, and returning into bis own country, he shortly after ended his days.
This surely must be the "great star burning as it were a lamp;" which followed the sounding of the third trumpet and which shooting like a fiery meteor from east to west, and falling upon the rivers and fountains of waters, impregnated the streams with a mortal bitterness. If the rivers and fountains denote, as has been supposed, the mountainous parts of the empire, whence they have their origin, the facts have a remarkable coincidence with the prediction.
As to the remainder of the history, every thing from this time went to eclipse the imperial government. Africa, Spain, Britain, the greatest part of Gaul, Germany, and Illyricum, are said to have been dismembered from the empire; the court was full of intrigues and murders; Valentinian the emperor ravished the wife of Maximus, one of his senators; Maximus in return got Valentinian murdered, usurped his throne, and compelled Eudoxia the Empress to marry him; Eudoxia in hatred to the usurper invited Genseric the Vandal to come over from Africa and revenge the death of Valentinian; Genseric prepared to invade Italy; Maximus on bearing it, instead of taking measures for repelling him, sunk into despondency; the senators stoned him to death, and threw his body into the Tiber; Genseric entered Rome without opposition,
and gave it up to be sacked and plundered by the soldiers for
fourteen days. From hence, as Bishop Newton observes, "the western empire struggled hard, and gasped as it were for breath through eight short and turbulent reigns, for the space of twenty years, and at length expired in the year 476 under Momyllus, or Augustulus, as he was named in derision, being a diminutive of Augustus."
After this Odoacer, king of the Ostrogoths, invaded the country, and siezed the government, which he held however, not as head of the western empire, but merely as King of Italy. There were indeed a senate and a council after this, but they had only the shadow of authority.
Thus it was, I conceive, that the eclipse of the sun, moon, and stars, as described under the fourth trumpet, was accomplished. It may be thought that these events had too slight a relation to the church of Christ to become the subject of prophecy two things, however, may be alleged in answer. First, They were necessary for the accomplishment of other prophecies, particularly Dan vii.7, 8. 2 Thes. ii. 7. Hereby a way was made for the beast to have "ten horns," as after the overthrow of the empire it was divided into so many independent kingdoms, which with little variation continue to this day. Hereby also a way was made for the "little horn" of Daniel's fourth beast, or the papal antichrist to come amongst them; or, as the apostle expresses it, for the man of sin to be revealed. "The mystery of iniquity hath already begun to work, (saith he,) only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way: and then shall that wicked (one) be revealed.” While the imperial authority continued, there was not sufficient scope for ecclesiastical ambition; but when this was removed, the other soon appeared in its true character. The Goths, embracing the religion of the conquered Romans, the clergy became objects of superstitious veneration amongst a barbarous people, and of which they availed themselves to the establishing of their spiritual authority. From hence the See of Rome made no scruple of setting up for supremacy.
Secondly, In these judgments upon the empire we perceive the Divine displeasure for its having corrupted the Christian religion, and transformed it into an engine of state. The wars of the Assy rians and Babylonians were the scourges of God on those who had corrupted the true religion; and such were those of the Goths, the Vandals, and the Huns, on the Christian governments of the fourth and fifth centuries:
THE FIRST WOE-TRUMPET; OR THE SMOKE AND LOCUSTS.
Chap. viii, 13, ix. 1–12.
As the first four trumpets were connected in their objects, so are the last three. The last verse of the eighth chapter is introductory to them.
13 And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels which are yet to sound.
"This solemn denunciation seems to be introduced for the purpose of drawing our attention to the great importance of the events which were to happen under the last three trumpets. It serves also as a chronological mark to show that these three trumpets are all posterior to the first four, not only in order, but in time; and that they belong to a new series of events."* The most distinguished plagues which were to befall the church and the world are designated by them. The first two seem to refer to the prevalence of Popery and Mahometanism, and the last to those vials of wrath which should effect their overthrow.
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. 2 And he opened the bottomless pit, and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air
* Cunninghame's Dissertation, p. 84,
were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. 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. 4 And it was commanded 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. 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. 6 And in those days shall men scek death, and shall not find it ; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. 7 And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. 8 And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. 9 And they had breast-plates as it were breast-plates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. 10 And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months. 11 And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon. 12 One woe is past; and behold there come two woes more hereafter. The fifth or first woe-trumpet is short but awfully impressive. Looking at this dreadful irruption of darkness and desolation, we perceive the necessity there was for "sealing the servants of God in their foreheads," that they might be preserved amidst these trying times. These are the "winds," which those ministers of vengeance to whom it was given to hurt the earth, (Chap. vii. 1, 2.) at length let loose upon it. The professing Christian world being exceedingly corrupt, it became necessary to try them. The "sealed" servants of God would endure the trial; but "those men who had not, the seal of God in their foreheads" would be carried away and perish.
That the locusts refer to the ravaging hordes of Saracens, who, with Mahomet at their head, subdued and destroyed the eastern part of Christendom, seems to be generally admitted; and some bave considered the "smoke" as denoting his false doctrine, and