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and to them it was given them 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
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 shape 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 like the faces of men, and their hair as the hair of women, and their teeth as the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates, as it were, breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horsemen running to battle. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails; and their power was to hurt men five months. 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 he hath his name Apollyon."
All commentators of any consideration are agreed that this trumpet symbolizes and predicts the appearance of the Arabian impostor, Mahomet, and his followers. And, following the narrative of the historian of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, from the period of the suppression of the western empire, represented in the last trumpet, we meet with no character, nor with any important change in the affairs of the civilized world, that will, in the least, answer to these symbols. But when “ the Arabian prophet” appears, who, as our historian observes, “ with the sword in one hand and the Koran in the other, erects his throne on the ruin of Christianity and of Rome,” we immediately recognise the resemblance: and such a character could not have been passed over in the glance of prophecy, since his “ genius, and the manners of his nation, and the spirit of his religion, involves the causes of the decline and fall of the eastern
empire; and our eyes are curiously intent on one of the most memorable revolutions which have impressed a new and lasting character on the nations of the globe.”
Mahomet, 1 like Attila, in the third trumpet, is symbolized by a falling star; not a true star, but one of those blazing meteors, which seem to dart from their proper orbits, and which were supposed to shed a baneful light on mankind. Accordingly, as a pretended prophet of God and teacher of a new religion, Mahomet presents himself to the world. “He did not assume his prophetical office till the fortieth year of his age, in the year 609, or, according to some chronologists, 612, that is, ten years after the Hegira, the famous epocha from whence his followers date their time.” The opening of the bottomless pit, and letting out the vapour and smoke of the infernal regions, will aptly represent the wicked and diabolical system of religion which he broached, and by means of which so large a portion of the world that had enjoyed the light of the Gospel was obscured and involved in darkness; and the Roman sun, the remaining power and majesty of the Christian emperors, again shorn of its beams, and sunk so low that it seemed almost ready to set in blood. So were " the sun and the air darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.”
The first effects of the broaching of this false religion were, the converting and attaching to the cause of the
· Most expositors, as was observed above, are agreed that the great object of the trumpet is to represent
the conquests of Mahomet and his followers. They differ, however, in applying the symbol of the falling star; some applying
it to Mahomet himself, others, to the apostate head of the Christian clergy, considering his fall as the immediate cause of the Mahometan apostasy. I by much prefer the former explanation.
prophet the wandering tribes of Arabia: they became the champions of his religion, and marched at his command to proselyte the world. These, then, were the “ locusts that came out of the smoke of the bottomless pit:" and these martial followers of the prophet will be found to answer to the description of the symbolical locusts.
Arabia is remarkable for giving birth to prodigious swarms of locusts, which often overspread and lay waste the neighbouring countries. Their shape” is said to be “ like unto horses prepared to battle: the sound of their wings as the sound of chariots -- of many horses running to battle." Arabia,” says Mr. Gibbon, “is, in the opinion of naturalists, the genuine and original country of the horse.” The horsemanship of the Arabs has ever. been an object of admiration. The martial youth under the banner of the Emir is ever on horseback and in the field, to practise the exercise of the bow, the javelin, and the scymeter.” The “crowns like gold” may refer to the crowns the Arabian followers of the prophet should win, or to their distinctive headdress, the mitre or turban. They had faces like men, and hair like women.” « The Arabians wore their beards, or, at least, mustachoes, as men, while the hair of their heads was flowing or plaited like women's, as Pliny and other ancient authors testify.”. The “ teeth like lion's," and
1 “ breastplates of iron," naturally portray their powers in
” offensive and defensive war.
“ And unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power."-" There were stings in their tails like unto scorpions.” The meaning of this is plain.
See Bishop Newton and the authors there quoted.
Prepared they would be for war, and ravenous as lions ; but their scattering like scorpions the poison of their doctrines behind them, wherever they went, should be the principal injury they would do to mankind. They were distinguished from former instruments of judgment by hurting rather than killing men: this our historian explains :-" The fair option of friendship, or submission, or battle, was proposed to the enemies of Mahomet. If they professed the creed of Islam, they were admitted to all the temporal and spiritual benefits of his primitive disciples, and marched under the same banners to extend the religion that they had embraced. The clemency of the prophet was decided by his interests; yet he seldom trampled on a prostrate enemy, and he seemed to promise that, on the payment of a tribute, the least guilty of his unbelieving subjects might be indulged in their worship, at least, in their imperfect faith.”
“ In the field of battle, the forfeited lives of the prisoners were redeemed by the profession of Islam; the females were bound to embrace the religion of their masters, and a race of sincere proselytes was gradually multiplied by the education of the infant captives. But the millions of Asiatic and African converts, who swelled the native bands of the faithful Arabs, must have been allured, rather than constrained, to declare their belief in one God and the apostle of God.” The number of their converts in Asia and the south of Europe cannot be computed : in Africa, the light of the Gospel was totally extinguished.
The command given to the followers of Mahomet “not to hurt the grass,” &c., but only those men that had not the mark of God in their forehead, might be understood, from a comparison of the symbols of the first trumpet, to denote that those verdant and silvan countries' of Europe overrun by Alaric and his Goths, should escape; and these were precisely the countries which escaped the rávages of the Arabian locusts. And what is more to be noticed, those parts of the empire which were left untouched by these fanatics, were those, in which, it appears from history, that the remnant of the true church of God was still found residing : they were only to hurt the men who had not the mark of God on their forehead.
“ If we compare the east and the west,” says Mi. Milner, we shall see a very striking difference during this century," the seventh. “ In England, true godliness shone for a considerable part of it: in France, there was a good measure of piety, and from these two countries, divine truth made its way into Germany and the north, with glorious success. In Italy, the Lombards were more and more cleared of Arianism." « The influences of divine grace seem to have been entirely withdrawn in the east: men had there filled up the measure of their iniquity: Africa had long shared in the general corruption,” &c.
It appears, therefore, that the remnant of true Christians was very much exempted from this woe: but, certainly, the more strict sense of the prophecy respecting the hurting of those men only, by their scorpion-like tails, who had not the mark of God upon their forehea , is, that no true Christian, no one of the hundred and forty and four thousand," should be tainted with their hellish doctrine. Agreeably with the prediction of our Lord :-“ For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they should deceive the