Page images
PDF
EPUB

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 t.

4. " 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;

* 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 symbolicul rivers and fountains began to be tinged with wormwood by the downs fall of the Western entpire, is thus described by Mr. Gibbon: “ I have now accomplished the laborious narrative of the de“ cline and fall of the Roman empire, from the fortunate age " of Trajan and the Antonines, to its total extinction in the 5 West, about five centuries after the Christian æra. At that “ unhappy period, the Saxons 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 ipsults 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 privi

leges of Romans, were oppressed by the disgrace and cala* mities of foreign conquest; and the victorious nations of “ Germany established a new systein of manners and govern“ ment in the western countries of Europe." Hist. of Declive, Vol. vi. p. 404,

C3

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

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 defal-, cation 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 victorious nations of Germany estas “ blished 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 kinga "doms of Italy and Africa were subverted by the

arms 7

arms of Justinian * ;” nor did the long line of the Cesars become finally extinct, until Constantinople fell a prey to the martial fanaticism of the Turks.

Thus was he that letted removed out of the way, and thus was an opening prepared for the revelation of the man of sin and for the completion of the western Apostasy. 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 row 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 reigu and final destruction is described at large under the three last trumpets.

II. 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 Lord

• Hist, of Decline and Fall, Vol. vi. p. 404.

ship’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 empe

ror Valentinian the third, to submit to shameful terms. · At the sounding of the third trumpet, 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 nost 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 first four. Proceeding as they uni

[ocr errors]

Table of contents to Dissert, xxiv.

versally

versally 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 rigit, in supposing that the first trumpet relates to Alarie 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, proyes 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 in terprets 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 mountậin 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

* 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 hail-storm of the first trumpet. Jerem. li. 25.

« PreviousContinue »