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It is twice mentioned that five months were to limit the ravages of these locusts. Read,” says Bishop Newton, “ the history of the Saracens, and you will find that their greatest exploits were performed, and their greatest conquests were made, within the space of five prophetic months, or one hundred and fifty years —“ between the year 612, when Mahomet opened the bottomless pit, and began publicly to teach and propagate his imposture, and the year 762, when Almansor built Bagdad, and called it the city of peace.”
After the removal of the government of the caliph to Bagdad, it is no longer reckoned as an Arabian monarchy, and the tribes of Arabia very soon detached themselves from the jurisdiction of the caliphs, who soon dwindled into a shadow of their former greatness. The prophetic locusts are no longer seen with one king over them.
It was this spiritual monarch, as seen in his glory, who, no doubt, answered to the symbol of the destroying angel in the prophecy. The false doctrine represented by the smoke of the bottomless pit, alone made the caliph, or successor of Mahomet, what he was: from hence, and not from his personal prowess, he derived all his consequence. As Mr. Gibbon observes, -" From the rapid conquests of the Saracens, presumption will naturally arise, that the first caliphs commanded in person the armies of the faithful;” but; presence of Omar at the siege of Jerusalem, their longest expeditions were the frequent pilgrimages from Medina to Mecca; and they calmly received the tidings of victories as they prayed or preached before the sepulchre of the prophet."
Chap. ix. 13. “ And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar, which is before God, saying to the sixth angel, which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates, and the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men, and the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand; and I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of their horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouth issued fire, and smoke, and brimstone. By these were the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt."
It is impossible, from the train of events, and from the quarter of the world in which we are directed to look for the irruption of these prodigious multitudes of horsemen, to mistake to whom the prophecy refers. Our historian and guide - shall first show them to us as “ bound by the Euphrates,"— and next, as let loose by the decree of Providence.
“ In the year 545, Europe felt the shock of a revolution, which first revealed to the world the name and the nation of the TURKS.” They sallied from the mountains of Imaus, and established a powerful empire.” “ As
the subject nations marched under the standard of the Turks, their cavalry, both men and horses, were proudly computed by millions; and the force of their effective armies consisted of four hundred thousand soldiers, and, in less than fifty years, they were connected in peace and war with the Romans, the Persians, and the Chinese." “ In the year 844, they passed the Caspian straits, and settled in Armenia Major.” “ In 1038, they subdued Persia, Irak, &c., and, by the conquest of Media, approached the Roman confines.” “ From the Oxus to the Euphrates, these military colonies were protected and propagated by their native princes."
They are symbolized, moreover, in the prophecy, as having, like the Arabian locusts, power to hurt by their tails - more power, as it should seem, for in the present symbol the “ scorpion's tail” is exchanged for the
serpent's head.” This the historian shall explain :“ The whole body of the nation embraced the religion of Mahomet.” “ Since the fall of the caliphs, the discord and degeneracy of the Saracens respected the Asiatic frontiers of Rome, which, by the victories of Nicephorus, Zimisces, and Basil, had been extended as far as Antioch and the eastern boundaries of Armenia. Twenty-five years after the death of Basil, his successors were suddenly assaulted by an unknown race of barbarians, who united the Scythian valour with the fanaticism of new converts, and the arts and riches of a powerful monarchy.” this occasion,” the historian remarks,“ the myriads of Turkish horse overspread a frontier of six hundred miles, from Taurus to Arzeroum ;” that is, where the Euphrates forms the borders of Cappadocia and Pontus : " and the blood of a hundred and thirty thousand was a grateful sacrifice to the Arabian prophet.” Their armies, how
ever, make at this time no lasting impression upon
the countries on this side the river. The Euphrates may still be said to be the boundary of the empire, and it is very important to mark, if we can, when it ceases to be so, as a date, of some consequence to the interpretation of other prophecies, is to be then fixed.
The historian notices that, in the year 1062, or 1063, “ Alp-Arslan passed the Euphrates, at the head of the Turkish cavalry, and entered Cesarea.” In the year 1065–1068, they " penetrate into the heart of Phrygia,” but“ are driven back beyond the Euphrates by the emperor Romanus." “ The Romans are again defeated by AlpArslan, in the year 1071." “ On this fatal day,” the historian indeed remarks, " the Asiatic provinces were irretrievably lost.” It does not, however, appear that they extorted, at this time, any city or province from the empire: and after this event, the Turkish empire was much weakened by a civil war, which ended in a lasting separation into four dynasties, Persia, Kerman, Syria, and Roum. To these has been applied the symbol of the prophecy, “ four angels bound in the Euphrates."
It appears that the dynasty of Roum effected the conquest of Asia Minor during the years 1074 to 1084. “ Soliman, with his four brothers, pass the Euphrates. The Turkish camp was soon seated in the neighbourhood of Kutaich, in Phrygia; and his flying cavalry laid waste all the country as far as the Hellespont.” This invasion, however, was not conducted by those Turks who were destined to destroy all the remains of the Roman empire in the east. The power of these Turks was broken by the conquest of Zingis and the Moguls: but shortly afterwards we find the Ottoman Turks passing the same river, so celebrated in Turkish invasions, and passing it
to return no more to their former boundaries, but to establish a mighty empire, which has lasted till our time. Gibbon tells us,
“ Soliman Shaw was drowned in the passage of the Euphrates; his son, Or-thogrul, became the soldier and subject of Alidan, sultan of Iconium, and established, at Surgut, on the banks of the Sangar, a camp of four hundred families, or tents, whom he governed fifty-four years. He was the father" " of Othman.” « It was on the 27th of July, in the year 1299, that Othman first invaded the territory of Nicomedia, and the singular accuracy of the date seems to disclose some foresight of the rapid and destructive growth of the monster.”
The progress of the Ottoman Turks may be thus briefly stated :-“ In 1300, Anatolia is divided among the Turkishı emirs; - In 1312, the captivity and ruin of the seven churches of Asia is completed.” Orchan, who succeeded in the year 1326, conquered Bithynia. The Turks pass over to Europe, and gain an establishment there in 1353. Amurath I. fixes the seat of his government at Adrianople; he reigns from 1360 to 1389. Bajazet reigns till 1403, and extends his conquest from the Euphrates to the Danube. The conquests of Timour for a short time suppress the power of the Ottomans, but the empire is restored by Mahomet I. in 1421. To him Amurath II. succeeds; and his successor, Mahomet II., began his reign in 1451, by whose forces Constantinople was besieged, and taken by assault, May 29th, 1453.
Our guide will lastly explain to us what is meant in the prophecy by “the breastplates of fire, jacinth, and brimstone,” and by “ the fire, smoke, and brimstone that issues from their lion-like," – perhaps, roaring, “ mouths, and destroys the third part of mankind.”