« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
ny of history. At the era of the third trumpet, that is
say at the era posterior to the hail-storm of northern invasion and the fiery blast of southern devastation, we find that a great temporal star immediately connected with the blazing mountain did actually fall from heaven to earth; but we shall in vain, at the same period, look for the apostacy of some remurkable spiritual star. * On these grounds, I doubt not that the falling star of the third trumpet is the line of the Western Cesars, which was finally hurled from the political heaven in the year 476.7 The last emperor Momyllus or Augustulus was deposed by Odoacer king of the Heruli, who put an end to the very name of the Western empire, and caused himself to be proclaimed king of Italy. I
St. John intimates, that the fall of this star should eventually be productive of much bloodshed among the rivers and fountains or the settled Gothic governments of the West, which now filled the place formerly occupied by the Roman empire ; and thence styles it Wormwood, as indicative of the bitter discords which its downfall should occasion. As the union of the nations of the West under one head would naturally be the cause of peace among them, so their disunion under many heads would as naturally be the cause of war. Thus we find, that Odoacer after a short reign of sixteen years was attacked and slain by Theodoric king of the Ostrogoths ; that the Ostrogothic monarchy was in its turn subverted by the lieutenants of the Eastern Emperor ; and that Italy was afterwards alternately a prey to the Lombards and the Franks. If from Italy we cast our eyes over
* The fallen star of the third trumpet cannot be Arius, because he died before even 'the first trumpet began to sound. His opinions were started about the year 318, and continued to agitate the East till about the year 381. The bail-storm of the first trumpet had long been collecting ; but it did not burst till the year 395.
† Mr. Lowman most justly observes respecting this symbol, that “the most natural interpretation of it seems to be this : that, as the rising of a star denotes the rise of some new power or authority, so the fall of a star from beaven signifies the fall of some kingdom or empire." (Paraph. in loc.) He would have expressed himself howa ever with more accuracy, had he said the fall of some king or emperor.
Mr. Mede applies the shooting of this star to the downfall of the Western Cesars ; and thence takes occasion to style iť Hesperus, or the evening star of the West. I perfectly agree with him in his interpretation of the symbol; but think it right to observe, that he has no warrant for denominating the star Hesperus. In the Apocalypse it is simply called a great stør. VOL. I.
Gaul, we shall behold the same spectacle of war and discord in the contests of Clovis with the Alemanni, the Burgundians, and the Visigoths : while the period of the fallen star was marked in Britain by the establishment of the Saxon Heptarchy,* and the subsequent never ceasing wars between the princes of the Saxon blood.+
" And the fourth angel sounded : and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars ; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise."
This trumpet describes, under the symbol of an eclipse of the third or Roman part of the political luminaries of the world, the effects produced upon the empire, considered as one great whole, by the sounding of the three first trumpets. "When all the provinces of the West were occupied by the northern invaders, when Rome herself became a mere appendage to a Gothic kingdom, and when the line of the Italian Cesars had ended in the person of Augustulus ; then commenced the great eclipse of the
fourth trumpet. The Roman sun, shorn of his rays, no longer emitted his pristine splendor ; the figurative moon, or the body of the people subject to his influence, shone, by the defalcation of the western provinces, with scarcely more than half her wonted lustre ; and the figurative stars, or the governors of provinces, experienced a proportionate diminution. “The day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise." While “ the
* Or, according to Mr. Turner, Octarchy. See his Hist. of the Anglo-Saxons, B. ii. C. 6.
+ The state of the Roman world, when its symbolical rivers and fountains began to be tinged with wormwood by the downfall of the Western empire, is thus described by Mr. Gibbon. “ I have now accomplished the laborious narrative of the decline and fall of the Roman empire, from the fortunate age of Trajan and the Antonines, to its total extinction in the West, about five centuries after the Christian era. At that unhappy period, the Saxons fiercely struggled with the natives for the possession of Britain ; Gaul and Spain were divided between the powerful monarchies of the Franks and the Visigoths, and the dependent kingdoms of the Suevi and Burgundians ; Africa was exposed to the cruel persecution of the Vandals, and 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 privileges of Romans, were oppressed by the disgrace and calamities of foreign conquest ; and the victorious nations of Germany established a new system of manners and government in the western countries of Europe.” Hist. of Decline, Vol. vi. P.
victorious nations of Germany established a new system of manners and government in the western countries of Europe, the majesty of Rome was faintly represented by the princes of Constantinople, the feeble and imaginary successors of Augustus. Yet they continued to reign over the East, from the Danube to the Nile and Tigris ; the Gothic and Vandal kingdoms of Italy and Africa were subverted by the arms of Justinian;"* nor did the long line of the Cesars become finally extinct, till Con. stantinople fell a prey to the martial fanaticisin of the Turks.
Thus was he that letted removed out of the way, and thus was an opening prepared for the man of sin and the western Apostacy. Constantine quitted the ancient capital for the city of which he claimed to be the founder ; Honorius, the first of the divided Italian Cesars, fixed his residence at Ravenna ; and at length the Western empire was completely overthrown in the person of Augustulus, Nothing now impeded the growth of the little horn, except the three Gothic kingdoms which were destined to be plucked up by the roots before it. During their eradication it gradually increased ; and, before it had attained the summit of its temporal power, the saints were delivered into its hand, and it became a mighty spiritual persecuting empire. Then was the man of sin revealed, that son of perdition, whose tyrannical reign and final destruction is described at large under the three last trumpets.
As I have materially varied from Bp. Newton in the preceding interpretation of the first four trumpets, it is a mark of respect only due to so excellent a commentator to state the grounds of my differing from him. According to his Lordship's exposition, " at the sounding of the first trumpet, Alaric and his Goths invade the Roman empire, twice besiege Rome, and set fire to it in several places. At the sounding of the second trumpet, Attila and his Huns waste the Roman provinces, and compel the Eastern emperor Theodosius the second, and the Western emperor Valentinian the third, to submit to shameful terms. At the sounding of the third trumpet,
* Hist. of Decline and Fall, Vol. vi. p. 424.
Genseric and his Vandals arrive from Africa, spoil and plunder Rome, and set sail again with immense wealth and innumerable captives. At the sounding of the fourth trumpet, Odoacer and the Heruli put an end to the very name of the Western empire.
All the subsequent errors of this interpretation may be traced up to an erroneous curtailment of the effects produced by the first trumpet. The northern hail-storm, according to the most natural explanation which can be given of it, must mean all the invasions of the Roman empire by way of Germany, Scythia, and the North ; whether conducted by Alaric, Radagaisus, or Attila ; whether executed by the Goths, the Vandals, the Suevi, the Alans, or the Huns. If once we attempt to separate these kindred expeditions from each other, we shall be obliged to divide them, not merely between two trumpets (as Bp. Newton has done,) but among all the seven. Proceeding as they universally did from the same quarter of the world, † the region of literal hail, they must jointly be considered as constituting only so many different showers of one great symbolical hail-storm. I conceive Bp. Newton then to be perfectly right, in supposing that the first trumpet relates to Alaric and his Goths; but perfectly wrong in placing Attila and his Huns under the second trumpet, instead of under the first. Such an arrangement, in fact, proves itself to be erroneous; for it has led the Bishop to a complete violation of the principles of symbolical language in his remarks both upon the second, the third, and the fourth trumpet. He interprets for instance the burning mountain to mean Attila ; the falling star, to mean Genseric ; and the eclipse of the sun, moon, and stars, to mean the extinction of the imperial dignity in the person of Augustulus, and the eclipse of the senate and consuls under the government of the Gothic sovereigns of Italy. The symbol however of a mountain set on fire, torn violently from its base, and hurled into the sea, must surely mean, agreeably to the parallel passage in Jeremiah,* not a victorious prince, but a subverted empire. So again : the symbol of a fallen star denotes either a king hurled from the summit of his power, or an apostate pastor : hence it is plainly impossible, that the fallen siar of the third trumpet should be Genseric; for he was not a minister of the Gospel, and he was a triumphant instead of being a vanquished sovereign. Lastly an eclipse of the sun, moon, and stars, cannot be fairly interpreted to mean an extinction of the sun, and only an eclipse of the other luminaries : yet does the scheme of Bp. Newton, by leading him to view the Western Empire as something altogether distinct from the Eastern Empire, instead of considering the fourth trumpet as affecting the whole Empire in general by producing the downfall of its Western half, constrain himn to adopt this incongruous explanation of its imagery.t
* Table of contents to Dissert. xxiv.
+ The Huns originally migrated from the borders of China. The Gothic tribes were likewise of Asiatic extraction. But they all equally invaded the Roman empire from the northern regions of Scythia, Mesia, and Germany. Hence I conceive them all to be alike intended by the bail-storm of the first trumpet.
On these grounds, I have ventured to bring forward a different interpretation, which at once harmonizes with the symbolical language of prophecy, and which shews how a way was prepared for the developement of the great Apostacy.
Of the three last apocalyptic trumpets, or, as they are
peculiarly styled, the three woe-trumpets.
HE that letted being now removed, the prophet commences the history of the great Apostacy which he details under the three last trumpets, usually denominated the three woe-trumpets. He begins with an account of the Eastern branch of the Apostacy under the two
* Jerem. li. 25. † Whatever objections are here made to the scheme of Bp. Newton apply with equal force to that of Mr. Whitaker, who has throughout followed the Bishop, enlarging only very considerably upon the brief remarks of his predecessor. I am indebted to hing for some useful hints in the elacidation of the hail-storm of the North,