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gion, then recently promulgated, went forth conquering in the midst of persecution ; and the power of the Roman empire, after the subversion of Jerusalem, extended over the world, and was unchallenged by a single foe. But in the book that was penned by one of the fishermen of Galilee, whom Jesus had chosen as his apostles, the fate of that empire was written, and every great political convulsion, as well as every deceptious form of religion, was marked, till the time should come, when all the history of Rome would be an ancient tale, and all its majesty an empty name, and the gospel of Christ be the law of the world.
Commentators, with considerable variance in the details, are of one mind, that the first four trumpets denote the successive events which caused the downfall of Rome, and that the fifth and sixth trumpets, or the first and second woe, characterise the Saracen and Turkish power. The charm of novelty, of itself suspicious, must here give place to the sanction of authority, which, in some measure, supersedes the necessity of a lengthened discussion. And it shall be our object to mark the character and show the succession and connexion of events, down to the present era, as briefly as a due regard to distinctness and precision will permit. Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is so copious and precise as to render an appeal to any less clear and more questionable commentary unnecessary and redundant. Facts alone, and not imaginations, are wanted. And they who will not look to a commentator, may here safely learn from the sceptic.
And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half-an-hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer ; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand. And the angel took the censer and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into (upon) the earth : and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets PREPARED THEMSELVES TO SOUND.-Chap. viii. 1-6.
The whole of this representation concurs in giving note of preparation for a new series of events. The seven angels that appear upon the scene are the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth ; and none of them are the same as the four living creatures, who were in the midst of the throne and round about the throne, and who successively called upon the apostle to come and see, on the opening of each. of the first four seals. And as they are different, it is not unreasonable to think that a different commission was assigned them,—and that as the seven angels were those that were sent forth into all the earth, it harmonizes with their office to unfold the political changes and commotions in the world, as it pertained to the four living beings that were around the throne to show forth the various changes in the minds, or the religious opinions, of men. And this seems to be more expressly signified, not only as trumpets are aptly significative of war, mustering the hosts and sounding for the battle, but as the seven angels which had the seven trumpets did not prepare themselves to sound, till another angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar and cast it upon the earth; and till then there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake, contentions, wars, battles, and a revolution,- the subversion, perhaps, of paganism.
In addition to this striking coincidence between the mode of their revelation and the character of the events, it is farther to be observed (for not a word can want its meaning,) that, even before the introductory vision was manifest to the apostle or apparent to view, on the opening of the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. The prophet was to see the things that were to be hereafter, but, unlike to the former, the things that were then to be revealed, were not immediately to appear. The silence in heaven denoted the suspension, for a season, of the judgments that were to come upon the earth, or, rather before the time of their preparation should begin. The Roman empire, according to other prophecies, was indeed to be subverted, and to be divided into various kingdoms. But the time was not yet. Many years were Christians to be persecuted and tried, even before they would receive a little help by the conversion of the emperor. All the churches of Christ were to be left to the trial of their faith, before their blood would be avenged on the empire of Rome. The trumpets that were to summon the hosts to its fall did not sound till much incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God, and till first there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. The angels then prepared themselves to sound ; even as the gradual relaxation of the Roman power, and the rise of barbarous nations, and their partial settlement within the territories of Rome, prepared the way for the assault and the overthrow; but when that preparation should be complete, the sounding of the trumpets would be no longer delayed, nor would they give an uncertain sound. For then should the colossal empire of Rome fall rapidly to pieces at their voice.
- The western empire,” that of Rome itself, “ was repeatedly attacked, and finally subverted by the arms of the barbarians."* How, in what manner, and by what means, it was repeatedly attacked, and finally subverted, the first four trumpets show : and the interpretation of an historical prediction must be left to the historian,_and we freely consign it over to the historian of the decline and fall of the Roman empire, whose province it is and whose subject it forms. For none could elucidate the texts more clearly, or expound them more fully, than the task has been accomplished by Gibbon. The chapters of the sceptical philosopher, that treat directly of the matter, need but a text to be prefixed and a few unholy words to be blotted out, to form a series of expository lectures on the eighth and ninth chapters of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. The historian, however, involuntarily, here takes up the office of the theologian ; and little, or nothing, is left for the professed interpreter to do, than to point to the pages of Gibbon.
The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth : and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. Ver. 7.
At the beginning of the 30th chapter of his history, Gibbon thus describes the first irruption of the Goths on the Roman empire :
“ If the subjects of Rome could be ignorant of their obligations to the great Theodosius, they were too soon convinced, how painfully the spirit and abilities of their deceased emperor had supported the frail and mouldering edifice of the republic. He died in the month of Jannary, and be. fore the end of the winter of the same year, (395,) the Gothic nation was in arms. The barbarian auxiliaries erected their independent standard ; and boldly avowed hostile designs, which they had long cherished in their ferocious minds. Their countrymen, who had been condemned, by
the conditions of the last treaty, to a life of tranquillity and labour, deserted their farms at the first sound of the trumpet, and eagerly assumed the weapons which they had reluctantly laid down. The barriers of the Danube were thrown open; the savage warriors of Scythia issued from their forests; and the uncommon severity of the winter allowed the poet to remark, that they rolled their ponderous waggons over the broad and icy back of the indignant river.' The unhappy nations of the provinces to the south of the Danube, submitted to the calamities, which, in the course of twenty years, were almost grown familiar to their imagination; and the various troops of barbarians, who gloried in the Gothic name, were irregularly spread from the woody shores of Dalmatia, to the walls of Constantinople.—The Goths were directed by the bold and artful genius of Alaric.-In the midst of a divided court, and a discontented people, the emperor Arcadius was terrified by the aspect of the Gothic arms.-Alaric disdained to trample any longer on the pros. trate and ruined countries of Thrace and Dacia, and he resolved to seek a plentiful harvest of fame and riches in a province which had hitherto escaped the ravages of war.* ' " Alaric traversed, without resistance, the plains of Macedonia and Thessaly. The troops which had been posted to defend the straits of Thermopylæ, retired, as they were directed, without attempting to disturb the secure and rapid passage of Alaric; and the fertile fields of Phocis and Breotia were instantly covered with a deluge of barbarians, who massacred the males of an age to bear arms, and drove away the beautiful females, with the spoil and cattle of the flaming villages. The travellers who visited Greece several years afterwards could easily discover the deep and bloody traces of the march of the Goths. The whole territory of Attica was blasted by his baneful presence; and, if we may use the comparison of a contemporary philosopher, Athens itself resembled the bleeding and empty skin of a slaughtered victim. Corinth, Argos, Sparta, yielded without resistance to the arms of the Goths; and the most fortunate of the inhabit. ants were saved, by death, from beholding the slavery of their families, and the conflagration of their cities.”+
When resisted and attacked by Stilicho, the general of the Romans, Alaric concluded a treaty with the eastern emperor, and