« السابقةمتابعة »
city of primitive Christianity was no more, and the heresy of Arius introduced a succession of crimes disgraceful alike to humanity and religion. Accordingly, before the sounding of the trumpets commences, the state of the world at that period is foretold by an emblem most significant of the corruptions then prevailing among Christians. Much incense is offered from a golden censer along with the prayers of the Church, in order to shew how much purification those prayers required ere they were meet to be presented before the throne of grace; and the placing of this circumstance “ im
mediately before the sounding of the trumpets
suggests, that the subject of these prayers was the “ aversion of something to be called for by those • trumpets : and what could this be, but that of “ the destruction of the Roman empire, for the du« ration of which we know the ancient Christians
were wont to pray? It is plainly suggested, that “ the petition for some delay would be accepted;
yet all further applications on that head are dis“ couraged by a most significant emblem, that of “ the censer being cast away : while the filling of “ it with fire from the altar,” the well known symbol of divine wrath, “ but too plainly indi“ cates, that the succeeding troubles shouldat least “ be forwarded by those who minister at the altar ; os and the immediate succession of voices, and “ thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake, " manifest, that, though the sounding of the trum
[ ] pets should be deferred, yet some judgments “ should immediately follow*."
Upon referring to history, we find that the incursions of the northern barbarians gradually became more and more formidable. Between the years 365 and 379, an almost perpetual war was carried on between them and the Romans with various success: and in the last of these years, when the Empire seemed on the point of being completely overrun and dismembered, Gratian as sociated with himself in the imperial dignity, the famous Theodosius. By the successful valour of this warlike prince, the sounding of the first trůmpet, and the impending ruin of the Empire, were delayed for sixteen years: but “the genius of “ Rome expired with Theodosius, the last of the
successors of Augustus and Constantine, who
appeared in the field at the head of their armies, “ and whose authority was universally acknow
ledged throughout the whole extent of the “ Empiret."
“ And the seven angels, which had the seven “ trumpets, prepared themselves to sound.”
The four first trumpets describe the removal of that power, which in the days of St. Paul letted or prevented the developement of the man of sin, namely, the western imperial dignity of Rome :
* Whitaker's Comment.
while the three last, which are awfully styled the three woes, detail the history of the great twofold Apostacy both in the East and in the West ; exhibit the man of sin in the plenitude of his power, upheld by the secular arm, and tyrannizing over the Church of Christ ; predict his complete destruction at Armageddon, in the very act of opposing the Almighty conjointly with his temporal colleague the ten-horned beast or revived Roman empire ; and finally bring us to the period, when all the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.
“ 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 the “ trees was burnt up, and all green grass was « burnt up."
Throughout a great part of the prophecy of the trumpets, the Roman empire is denominated the third part of the whole symbolical universe, as including the third part of the then known world, and as being seated principally in Europe, which at that time was accounted the third part of the world*. Hail and lightning mingled with blood denote a tremendous tempest of desolating war and foreign invasion. The storm therefore, which is here represented as falling upon the earth or Roman empire, typifies that grand compound irruption of the barbarous northern nations, from the effects
* See Bp. Newton's Dissert, on Rev. vii. and Waple and Whiston in loc,
of which the Roman empire never recovered itself, as it liad done from those of the foregoing irruptions. In the natural world a storm is frequently preceded by a calm: hence in the figurative world the great hail-storm iningled with lightning is represented as being preceded by silence. This silence however is not so deep, but that the latter part of it is interrupted both by thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake*, the immediate harbingers of the hail-storm. Accordingly, we find that the fierce Gothic tribes, though perpetually at war with the Romans, and though threatening to overwhelm them by repeatedly violating the long extent of the northern frontier, were for a time restrained by the genius of Theodosiust: but, upon the decease of this great prince in the year 395, the northern cloud, which had so long been gathering, discharged itself with irresistible fury upon the Empire. “He died in the month of January; and “before the end of the same year the Gothic na. “tion was in arms. The barriers of the Danube “were thrown open: the savage warriors of Scy“thia issued from their forests; and the uncom“mon severity of the winter" (the season in which
* Rev. viii. 5. + " As the impatient Goths,” says Mr. Gibbon, “ could
only be restrained by the firm and temperate character of " Theodosius, the public safety seemed to depend on the life " and abilities of a single man." Hist. of Decline, Vol. iv. p. 443
natural hail and snow are generated) " allowed the “poet to remark, that they rolled their ponderous
waggons over the broad and icy back of the in
dignant river--The fertile fields of Phocis and “ Beotia were 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 whole territory of Athens was blasted by the baleful presence of Alaric; and “the travellers, who “ visited Greece several years afterwards, could “ easily discover the deep and bloody traces of « the march of the Goths * "
Such were the first effects of the symbolical hailstorm. Having thus ravaged Greece, it was next carried into Italy, and the West. Under the guidance of Alaric, it passed over Pannonia, Istria, and Venetia; and threatened the destruction of imperial Rome herself. At length it was driven out of Italy by Stilicho.
Yet, scarcely was this part of the tempest dissipated, when another dark cloud t, generated like its fellow in the cold regions of the North (so accurately does the symbol correspond with its anti
* Hist, of Decline and Fall, Vol. v, p. 176-181. + I have adopted the language of the historian. Unconscious that he was bearing bis testimony to the truth of prophecy, he has used the self-same allegorical language as that employed by St. John.
The correspondence of nations," says he,