Imágenes de página

tyrants who ruled over the subjugated nations ; and Christendom was still humbled and affected by the Saracen invaders. This intermedial change of state in the Saracenic woe is no less remarkable than the commencement and termination of its full course ; both, in tormenting and hurting, are definitely mark


In the year 632, the Saracens, for the first time invaded Syria. The battle of Yermuck was fought A. D. 636. Thrice did the Arabs retreat in disorder. Four thousand and thirty of the moslems were buried in the field of battle. The veterans of the Syrian war acknowledged that it was the hardest and most doubtful of the days which they had seen. But it was likewise the most decisive. After the battle of Yermuck, the Roman army no longer appeared in the field ; and the Saracens might securely choose among the fortified towns of Syria the first object of their attack. It was given them that they should torment men. Exactly three hundred years thereafter, as Gibbon has noted the respective dates, or in the year 936, he thus describes “ the fallen state of the caliphs of Bagdad.” “ Rahdi, the twentieth of the Abassides, and the thirty-ninth of the successors of Mahomet, was the last who deserved the title of the Commander of the Faithful; the last (says Abullida) who spoke to the people or conversed with the learned; the last who, in the expense of his household, represented the wealth and the magnificence of the ancient caliphs. After him the lords of the eastern world were reduced to the most abject misery, and exposed to the blows and insults of a servile condition. The revolt of the provinces circumscribed their dominions within the walls of Bagdad.**_66 The Afri. can and the Turkish guards drew their swords against

* Gibbon, vol. x. p. 83, chap. 52.

each other, and the chief commanders, the emirs at Omra, imprisoned or deposed their sovereigns, and violated the sanctity of the mosch and harem. If the caliphs escaped to the camp or court of any neighbouring prince, their deliverance was a change of servitude, till they were prompted by despair to invite the Bowides, the sultans of Persia, who silenced the factions of Bagdad by their irresistible arms. In the presence of a trembling multitude, the caliph was dragged from his throne to a dungeon, by the command of a stranger, and the rude hands of his Dilimites. The respect of nations still waited on the successors of the apostle, the oracles of the law and conscience of the faithful; and the weakness or division of their tyrants sometimes restored the Abassides to the sovereignty of Bagdad. But their misfortunes had been embittered by the triumph of the Fatimites, the real or spurious progeny of Ali. Arising from the extremity of Africa, these successful rivals extinguished, in Egypt and Syria, both the spiritual and temporal authority of the Abassides ; and the monarch of the Nile insulted the humble pontiff on the banks of the Tigris."* The wings were clipped from the locusts; the scorpions lost their sting. Mahometans, in the words of Gibbon, and in the language of Revelation, drew their swords against each other ; and the first woe was past. The Saracens are thrice compared to scorpions. Power was given them as the scorpions of the earth have power ; their torment was as the torment, of a scorpion when he striketh a man ; and they had tails like unto scorpions in which there were stings. They were like unto scorpions, by the power which they exercised, by the wounds they inflicted, by the

[ocr errors]

venom they left, and, finally, still scorpion-like, by the death which they died.

And they had a king over them, the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon, or destroyer. Verse il. The title of Commander of the Faithful, retained from first to last, bore, in the very name, the sound of destruction to both Jews and Christians, or both in the Hebrew and Greek tongue. Abaddon, the destroyer, in the Hebrew tongue, is not without its significancy any more than Apollyon in the Greek tongue. Mahomet, because of their unbelief, pursued the Jews to the last moment of his life with implacable hatred.—“ Seven hundred Jews were dragged in chains to the market-place of the city (Medina); they descended alive into the grave prepared for their execution and burial ! and the apostle beheld with an inflexible eye the slaughter of his helpless enemies."* The commander of the faithful, at the head of his armies, and with his sword in his hand, held Jews and Greeks alike as his natural enemies; and unbelievers, of whatever nation, could know him only as the “ destroyer.” When power was given him to torment, “ he might choose the object of his attack ;” and no power on earth at that time withstood him. But when his woe-tracked course was run, when the three hundred years were expired, his career was stayed, the thirty-ninth successor of Mahomet was dragged from his throne to a dungeon, and the caliphate became a harmless thing. One woe is past ; and behold there come two woes more hereafter.

[ocr errors]


No distinction, in kind, is marked between the second woe and the first ; and there is a like affinity between them in history as in prophecy. The Turks, like the Saracens, adopted the moslem faith ; and the Sultans succeeded to the caliphs as the vicegerents of the prophet.

6 The rise and progress of the Ottomans (says Gibbon), the present sovereigns of Constantinople, are connected with the most important scenes of modern history. I have long since asserted my claim to introduce the nations, the immediate or remote authors of the fall of the Roman empire ; nor can I refuse myself to those events which, from their uncommon magnitude, will interest a philosophic mind in the history of blood.” So wrote the historian who would have been astounded to think that such words are an apposite introduction to the history of the sixth trumpet, or of the second woe.

And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four quarters of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men. And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand : and I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone : and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions ; and out of their mouths issued fire, and smoke, and brimstone. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the

fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails ; for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt. And the rest of the men, which were not killed by these plagues, yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood : which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk : Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts. Verse 13–21.

The prophetic character or delineation of the Mahometan religion, and of the Turkish power, have not to be viewed as novel topics by the reader ; and we need only briefly revert to predictions in which the history of both has been partially unfolded, and which prepare the way for the full elucidation of the second woe, that completes the description of Islamism, till its final doom is announced, in its order, and one of the last vials of the wrath of God is poured out, to the destruction of the destroyer.

It may not be taxing too highly the reader's recollection, to call to mind that the interpretation given by Daniel, in literal terms, of the vision of the little horn of the he-goat, is an exact representation of the rise, nature, and history of Mahometanism.* The vision was to be at the time of the end. And at the time of the end, in the things, not visions, noted in the Scripture of truth, the forms under which Mahometanism actually appeared, or the two great successive governments by which it prospered, practised, and prevailed, and with which it has ever been identified, are introduced and delineated; and the kingdom of the Saracens, and more circumstantially,

* See above, pr. 25, 33, &c. p. 154.

« AnteriorContinuar »