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land, a sea, rivers, and fountains, and celestial luminaries. This universe symbolizes the Roman empire, which is described as consisting of two great divisions, the terrestrial and the celestial. The first of these must be considered as representing the territories and population of the empire, and the second its government or ruling powers. Some of these trumpets have been regarded as relating to spiritual events, and the state of the Church; with reference to the general warfare which the Christian religion underwent at the period to which the trumpets direct our attention, and especially to the Arian and Pelagian heresies, the former of which arose about the year 318, and the latter in 404. But the principle of unity and homogeneity seems to forbid such an interpretation. The trumpets, one would suppose, must be homogeneous, and refer to one subject. The Church was undoubtedly connected with the events which happened under these trumpets; and the fulfilment of these tremendous predictions made way for the accomplishment of others with which it was still more immediately concerned.
But while the reader considers these prophecies as referring to the Roman empire, he should particularly bear in mind, that this symbolical universe was not destroyed; but visited with the most afAlictive calamities, and subverted only with respect to its past form of government in the West. The fourth beast, or Roman kingdom, predicted in the book of Daniel, was to exist in two different states : first, as an undivided empire; and secondly, as divided into ten kingdoms, symbolized by ten horns. This change in the condition of the empire took place, as is well known, at the time of its overthrow by the Goths and Vandals. After this overthrow the empire was divided among the conquerors, and formed into ten kingdoms. The imperial title and power still continued in the eastern empire, and the title at least was revived in the western by Charlemagne, A. D. 800, where it continued in existence till the present century, since the commencement of which it has become extinct, as will be shewn in its proper place.
It is observable, with respect to the four first trumpets, that, on the sounding of each, only a third part of the object against which the calamities are denounced, is destroyed. Bishop Newton and others suppose that this circumstance has a reference to the Roman empire, as consisting, at that time, of a third part of the known world. But this opinion cannot well be admitted, without introducing great confusion of ideas into the exposition of the prophecy. The symbolical universe seen by the Apostle John, does not represent the whole habitable world, of which the Roman empire is said to be about the third part; but it denotes the whole of the Roman empire, and the Roman empire only. Upon the former interpretation, the Roman empire, as a third part of the symbolical universe, must have been completely destroyed. But these trumpets do not refer to the final destruction of the empire, but solely to its subversion in the West, preparatory to its division among the ten kings. The empire itself was still to exist, though in a different form; and hence we see the reason why these calamitous effects were limited to a part of each object against which they were directed. If it be asked why a third part has been fixed on as the specific object of these calamities, it may be replied, because the Spirit of God has seen fit to fix on this proportion, and we may therefore suppose, as a general truth, that a third part of the empire was actually destroyed.
The imagery of the book of Revelation is well known to be Jewish: it is probable, therefore, that the symbolical universe seen by St. John, had a Jewish aspect. This serves to illustrate the justness of the proportions used by the Holy Spirit in the different symbols. Thus, if the sea seen by the
no idea of suchar Western Sea.
Apostle in the second trumpet, was borrowed from Jewish ideas, it must either have been an inland sea, like the sea or lake of Gennesareth, or, at least, like the eastern extremity of the Mediterranean, called by them the Great Western Sea. A Jew could have no idea of such oceans as the Atlantic or Pacific. Hence there is nothing extravagant in the imagery of the second trumpet. It is at least within the limits of poetical probability, that a vast mountain burning with fire, cast into the sea of Gennesareth, should turn the third part of it into blood. The propriety and suitability of all the symbols of this tremendously sublime representation deserve the most attentive observation *.
The events foretold under the four first trumpets, are generally supposed to include a period of about two hundred and thirty-five years; namely, from A. D. 331 to A. D. 566.--The generality of commentators, who consider these trumpets as referring to the calamities and overturnings of the Roman empire, agree in the grand outline both of facts and chronology; and even the testimony of infidels, when writing the history of these times, demonstrates the exact accomplishment of the events predicted under these trumpets." I have now accomplished," says Gibbon, at the conclusion of his History, “ the de“ cline and fall of the Roman empire, from the for“ tunate age of Trajan and the Antonines, to its “ utter extinction in the West, about five cen“ turies after the Christian era. At that unhappy os period, the Saxons fiercely struggled with the “ natives for the possession of Britain; Gaul and “ Spain were divided between the powerful mo“ narchies of the Franks and the Visigoths, and the “ dependent kingdoms of the Suevi and the Bur“ gundians: Africa was exposed to the cruel perse
* See Mr. Cuninghame's illustration of most of the preceding remarks, by whom they are fully discussed, and supported by unanswerable arguments.
“cution of the Vandals, and to the savage insults of “ the Moors: Rome and Italy, as far as the banks of “ the Danube, were afflicted by an army of barbarian “ mercenaries, whose lawless tyranny was succeeded “ by the reign of Theodoric the Ostrogoth. All the “ subjects of the empire, who, by the use of the “ Latin language, more particularly deserved the “ name and privilege of Romans, were oppressed by “ the disgrace and calamities of foreign conquests; “ and the victorious nations of Germany established “ a new system of manners and government in the “ western countries of Europe.”-Thus, we see the accomplishment of the prophecies recorded under the first four trumpets, fulfilled by events taking place several centuries after the predictions were recorded—events which have been clearly pointed out by Christian commentators, and not less clearly, though undesignedly, illustrated by an infidel historian. Is not this an evident demonstration that St. John wrote by inspiration of that God who seeth the end from the beginning, and to whom are known all events that will take place from the foundation of the world?
The last verse of the chapter may be considered as an introduction to the three remaining trumpets; distinguished from the former by the name of woe trumpets, on account of the still greater and more terrible plagues they were about to predict.
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 !
This emblematic angel flies through the midst of heaven, and announces three future and tremendous woes to the inhabitants of the earth. The imagery of his flight, and the denunciation of the woes as future, may imply that a considerable interval would take place between the cessation of the fourth trunt
13. the midst of hinhabiters
pet and the commencement of the fifth, which is supposed to have sounded about the year 606. His flying through the midst of heaven may intimate that the duration of the last three - trumpets would be much longer than the four preceding. The whole of the imagery is calculated to awaken the deepest attention to the importance of the events which were to take place on the sounding of these three trumpets, and to shew that they are posterior in point of time to the preceding ones, and introduce a new series of events, accompanied with calamities greater, more extensive, and more lasting than those predicted by the preceding four. The account of the fifth and sixth trumpets, or the first and second woes, is recorded in chap. ix. which I shall next proceed to consider.
Chap. ix. 1–12. 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 were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. 3. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the eurth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. 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. 5. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tor