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Eudoxia, and her two daughters. By former ravages tlie power of Rome had been greatly weakened, but by Genseric it was so completely broken * that in a little time it was utterly subverted. Hurled from its base, and plunged like a huge blazing mountain into a sea of wars and tumults, “ it
struggled hard, and gasped as it were for breath, through eight short and turbulent reigns, for the
space of twenty years, and at length expired “ under Augustulust."
“ And the third angel sounded: and there fell “ a great star from heaven, burning as it were a
lamp; and it fell upon the third part of the “ rivers, and upon the fountains of waters : and " the name of the star is called Wormwood; and
many men died of the waters because they were 6. made bitter.”
We have seen, that the language used by St. John in describing the effects of the former trumpet is borrowed from a passage of Jeremiah, wherein the fall of Babylon, the apocalyptic type of Rome, is predicted : this, which is here employed
* So completely was it broken at this period, that many, among whom is Mr. Mede, have dated the fall of the Western empire from the year 455 or 456.
+ Bp. Newton's Dissert. on Rev. viii. Mr. Lowman supposes like myself, that the symbol of casting a mountain into the sea, here used by the prophet, denotes the subversion of a kingdonı by hostile invasion. “Great disorders and commotions, especially when kingdoms are moved by hostile invasions, are ex
pressed in the prophetic style by carrying or casting mouna “ tuins into the midst of the sea." Paraph. in loc.
by him, is taken in a similar manner from Isaiah.
Thou shalt take up this proverb against the king “ of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor “ceased, the golden city ceased! The Lord hath « broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre “ of the rulers-How art thou fallen from heaven, “ O day-star, son of the morning! how art thou “cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the “ nations*.” Arguing then both from analogy of interpretation, and from the general tenor of the present prophecy, if the mountain of the second trumpet mean Rome, the star of the third trumpet must mean the prince of Rome ; precisely in the same manner as the mountain spoken of by Jeremiah means Babylon, and the star described by Isaiah as falling to the ground means the prince of Babylon. In the language of symbols indeerl the shooting of a star from heaven to earth signifies either the downfall of a king, or the apostasy of a minister of religion ; but in the present instance we cannot hesitate to adopt the secular interpretation. St. John is describing the calamities of the Roman empire in general, and the downfall of the Western empire in particular : hence it is more congruous to explain the symbol of the falling star secularly than spiritually. And this opinion is decidedly confirmed by the testimony of history. At the era of the third trumpet, that is to 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 remarkable 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 t. 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.
* The fallen siar 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 918, and continued to agitate the East till about the yeur 381. The hail-storm of the first trumpet had long been collecting; but it did not burst till the year 395.
+ Mr. Lowinan most justly observes respecting this symbol, that the most natural interpretation of it seems to be this: " that, as the rising of 1 star denotes the rise of some new
pozver or authority, so the fall of a star from heaven signifies " the full of some kingdom or empire.” (Paraph. in loc.) He would have expressed himself however 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 Cesurs; and thence takes occasion to style it 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 star.
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 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 fullen 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 t.
* 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 Westerri empire, is thus described by Mr. Gibbon":
'I I have
* 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
“ I have now accomplished the laborious narrative of the de.. o cline 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 æra. At that "unhappy period, the Saxonis fiercely struggled with the na“ tives 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; Romé “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 privi.
leges of Romans, were oppressed by the disgrace and cala* mities of foreign conquest; and the victorious nations of
Germany established a new system of manners and govern"ment in the western countries of Europe.” Hist. of Decline, Vol. vi. p. 404,