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acy, which afterwards assumed the power of creating monarchs. In the year of our Lord 800, the pope conferred on Charlemagne the title of emperor of the Romans.—That title was again transferred from the king of France to the emperor of Germany. By the latter it was formally renounced, within the memory of the existing generation. In our own days the iron crown of Italy was on the head of another 56 emperor.” And the sun, as in the sequel we will see, is afterwards spoken of in the Book of Revelation.
There was no longer an emperor in Rome to hinder or restrain the ascendancy of the pope.—He that previously letted (or hindered) was taken out of the way; and that wicked one, heading and promoting the apostasy, of which the Spirit spoke expressly, . was revealed ; and men began to be again enslaved to Rome, but in more than mortal bondage. The uncontrolled rise of the papacy is marked from this period. But the subject pertains to other prophecies. The downfall of imperial Rome, closing with the ExTINCTION of the empire, the consulate, and the senate, is, we apprehend, the sole and exclusive theme of the first four trumpets. The book in which they are written is that of Revelation : and the symbols are illustrations of the facts. Under the authority of Rome, Jesus was crucified, and the earliest heralds of redemption were persecuted and slain for preaching his gospel to the nations of the earth. The conversion of an emperor was but a little help. And the hypocritical profession of the faith by many, was one of the first results of the conversion of Constantine. The world, when its power of persecution failed, smiled on religion ; and religion was corrupted by the world. The pearl of great price was exchanged for tinsel ; but the fine gold was tried. The faith of Rome was not that Christianity of the gospel which alone brings salvation. But salvation was preached; faith was professed ; yet men
were not led unto repentance, righteousness was not practised, the trumpets sounded, and judgment came upon the chief of the nations. Rome was weighed in the balance and found wanting. It was no longer the seat of the imperial power. But the city itself did not cease. It exists still ; but not for ever. The world has yet to see that Rome is not the eternal city. For in the same revelation in which the judgments of heaven first fell upon it, as announced by the four trumpets that were sounded by four angels, its final doom is written, in characters that cannot be mistaken, and by a definition that cannot be misunderstood. But, after the four trumpets, two woes had first to come, seven thunders to utter their voices, and the seven last vials of the wrath of God to be poured upon the earth.
Already we have seen how the trumpets that were sounded by angels were the judgments of God; the wars and commotions were but the forms in which they came. Of these we have seen how our enemy is the witness; and we have farther to see how his. testimony does not close but with the history which he wrote. Speaking of the great assault on the eastern empire by Chosroes, and his consequent discomfiture by Heraclius, (the next point to which we come,) - it was the duty of the Byzantine historians," says Gib. bon, “ to have narrated the causes of his slumber and vigilance.” It was the duty of the historian of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire to throw the light of truth upon the words of prophecy, that the symbols, or similitudes, of the things that were to be, may now, after the fulfilment of many of them, be interpreted or compared with the things which have been ; and that the mist which had obscured its light for ages, might be seen to disappear from the book of Revelation. But the unconscious execution of the task by Gibbon, renders the elucidation the more sa
of eventposes the under the mystery is the
tisfactory and illustrious; and shows how, from the darkness of infidelity itself, a light may break forth on the obscurest portions of the word of God, rendering clear and harmonious that which seemed inexplicable and discordant, and opening up a plain path in the seeming mazes of prophecy, even where that of history cannot be explored without labour. But to reveal, in the true meaning of the words, the causes of events, and to see the part which they occupy and the purposes they fulfil, not merely in the history of man, but also under the providence of God; or, in other words, to unfold the mystery of which the whole history of man, of itself, is full,—is the prerogative of Him alone with whom wisdom dwelleth, of Jesus, to whom all things are revealed and committed of the Father, and in whom all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge are hid. That is the office of REVELATION; and the revelation is His. History is the commentary, and, while living witnesses, bearing express testimony, would not be heard, an unbeliever, though dead, yet speaketh—not to shew that secondary causes might account for the propagation of the gospel, but that what is written there concerning the history of the world, could only have been derived from the first great cause,—that the storms of war are as subservient to his purposes, as the strife of the elements is subject to his control,—that the irruptions of Goths, Vandals, and Huns, whether on the earth, or on the sea, or on a fixed determinate spot, the fall of the greatest empires, and the extinction of the imperial power of the city of Rome,-are illustrations of the revelation of Jesus Christ, and serve to bring us down to the nearer contemplation of the signs of the times—that from thence we may learn to see, what, in controlling evil and overruling all earthly power, the Lord is still doing on the earth, in order that the kingdom like the power may finally be his own, when
nothing of wars shall be left but the remembrance, and when men, seeking after the virtue and glory which shall never be eclipsed, shall enter into the kingdom of which neither man nor angel—whether of light or darkness-shall ever tell the fall or the decline.
THE FIFTH TRUMPET, OR FIRST WOE.
obre THERE is scarcely so uniform an agreement among interpreters concerning any part of the apocalypse as respecting the application of the fifth and sixth trumpets, or the first and second woe, to the Saracens and Turks. It is so obvious that it can scarcely be misunderstood. Instead of a verse or two designating each, the whole of the ninth chapter of the Revelation, in equal portions, is occupied with a description of both.
The Roman empire declined, as it arose, by conquest; but the Saracens and the Turks were the instruments by which a false religion became the scourge of an apostate church; and, hence, instead of the fifth and sixth trumpets, like the former, being marked by that name alone, they are called woes. It was because the laws were transgressed, the ordinances changed, and the everlasting covenant broken,—that the curse came upon the earth or the land.
We have passed the period, in the political history of the world, when the western empire was extinguished; and when the way was thereby opened for the exaltation of the papacy. The imperial power of the
city of Rome was annihilated, and the office and the name of emperor of the west was abolished for a season. The trumpets assume a new form, as they are directed to a new object, and the close coincidence, or rather express identity between the king of the south, or the king of the north, as described by Daniel, and the first and second woe, will be noted in the subsequent illustration of the latter. The spiritual supremacy of the pope, it may be remembered, was acknowledged and maintained, after the fall of Rome, by the emperor Justinian. And whether in the character of a trumpet or a woe, the previous steps of history raise us as on a platform, to behold in a political view the judgments that fell on apostate Christendom, and finally led to the subversion of the eastern empire. The subject still lies within the province, of Gibbon ; and his illustrations are so copious and apposite, as in general to supersede entirely the need, of appealing to any other commentator than the very historian, who, more than all others, is free from any possible imputation of straining a single word in adaptation of any prophecy. To enter again into the labours of Gibbon, is to illustrate other texts. In drawing from history, he again becomes but the copyist of the prophet, who embodies in a few verses the substance of volumes, the events of centuries, and the fate of millions.
And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth : and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he opened the bot- · tomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth, and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of