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the whole Roman empire, he returns to the state of religion during this period.
The two first woes, or the fifth and sixth trumpets, are contained in this chapter; they consist of hieroglyphical representations, more compounded than most of those which we have already explained; but concerning their general design and object, there is, among modern commentators, little difference of opinion.
On the sounding of the fifth trumpet, the apostle saw "a star fall from heaven to the earth; and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.'
What is this fallen star? Is it, as some suppose, Pope Boniface IV. on whom the title of universal bishop was first conferred? This is surely not a natural interpretation of the passage. Is it, as others have thought, Mahomet himself? There is no view in which he can be represented as a star. Is it the monk Sergius, or Bahira as he is called by oriental writers, who assisted Mahomet in the composition of the Koran, that is here referred to? He is too little known to authorize this opinion.
On the whole, I embrace, though not without some hesitancy, the sentiments of those who suppose that Satan is here meant. All of you who are acquainted with the original language, will acknowledge, the correctness of a criticism that has often been made, that the text would literally be translated, "I beheld a star that had fallen from heaven." (Tα) By the permission of Divine Providence, this fallen angel was allowed to open the bottomless pit, and the calamities and seductions of a false religion were presented to the world.
So soon as the pit is opened, a smoke so thick and black as to darken the sun and the air rises from it. 12
It is an emblem of the errors that could darken the understandings and hide truth from the minds of those who then lived: for truth is light, and error is darkness.
From the bottomless pit locusts rose. Let us present the traits by which they are exhibited; let us explain the hieroglyphic, and then look to history for the meaning of it.
1. They were like horses prepared unto battle; they had crowns on their heads; faces like men; hair like women; teeth like lions; breastplates of iron; with stings like scorpions; flying in such multitudes that the sound of their wings was as the sound of the chariots of many horses rushing to battle; prevailing for five months, but commanded by God "not to hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only those men who have not the seal of God in their foreheads; not necessarily inflicting death, but tormenting those in their power so that death became desirable; and under a king who was the angel of the bottomless pit, who was the Destroyer.
2. Review those several symbols; place them in plain language, and see what is foretold. Like horses prepared for the battle, they are to be martial armies, making a rapid progress through the world; they have crowns of gold on their head, not merely those turbans ornamented with gold, and in the form of crowns, but also the splendour of the successive victories they have gained; faces like men, and teeth like lions, indicating their fierceness, strength, and courage in battle; hair dressed in a curious and effeminate manner; breastplates of iron, and therefore not easily to be conquered or repelled; stings like scorpions, inflicting woes, but not de
stroying; remarkable for their number; in their strength for five months, which, according to the prophetic chronology, is one hundred and fifty years; hurting not the productions of the earth, and comparatively little injuring real Christians; commissioned and led by Satan, the angel of the bottomless pit, or by an emissary like him, and induced by him to propagate lies, and endeavour to destroy Christianity.
3. We have seen the hieroglyphic and its exposi tion. Had we time to refer to the prophecy of Joel, and to other parts of the Old Testament, it would be easy to show you how frequently similar figures to those in this chapter are employed. This we cannot now do. Let us, however, from history, illustrate them.
The order of these visions admonishes us to look to some event illustrative of this prophecy, after the destruction of the western empire. All the events that were previous, and the calamities that followed till 568, when the exarchate of Ravenna was established on the ruins of Rome, you have seen foretold under the preceding trumpets. The first wo then succeeds, and there can be no possibility of erring as to the remarkable judgment which it foretels.
In the year 579, Mahomet was born: that man who introduced a system of false religion, that was propagated by the sword, and that was extended over so many nations, that we are not surprised to see it mentioned in the prophetical writings. I enter not into a minute description of his character and conduct; this you will find in numerous authors to which you can easily have access. I wish only to mention so much as will illustrate this prediction. Entering into the cave of Hera in 606, he came from
it in 612," in all the darkness of a new-invented, confused, false religion, and with all the rage of enthusiastic frenzy." Though he gained a number of proselytes at Mecca, yet he was obliged to flee from it to Medina in 622, at which time the Hejira, the era of Mahometan computation, commences. He then taught his disciples that his religion was to be propagated, not by disputing, but by fighting; and the rapidity of his conquests, and of those of his successors, is inconceivable. Look over their history, and compare it with these prophetic symbols. The imposture was soon spread over all the adjacent regions, like a black cloud of smoke belched from the infernal pit. His armies, like innumerable locusts, poured upon the countries around. They bore many crowns, attesting their conquests. "In the space of eighty years, they subdued and acquired to the diabolical kingdom of Mahomet, Palestine, Syria, both Armenias, almost all Asia Minor, Persia, India, Egypt, Numidia, all Barbary even to the river Niger, Portugal, Spain, many islands of the Mediterranean sea, and advanced to the very gates of Rome."* Thus brave and powerful, they were noted for their attention in ornamenting their hair. They sought not to kill, but to lead men to embrace the Mahometan religion; yet the miseries of those who were subjected to them were great, though their lives were spared. The effects of their religion and invasion were painful as the stings of scorpions. Restrained by Providence, they literally gave an order before their marches, "Destroy not the palm-trees, nor burn any fields of corn; cut down no fruit-trees; do no mischief to cattle, only such as ye kill to eat.”
* Mede, 468.
The wo was to be continued for five months, that is, one hundred and fifty years. In 612, Mahomet proclaimed his religion; and in 762, the caliph Almansor, tired of war, built the city of Bagdad, and called it "the city of peace." These troops had as their king the angel of the bottomless pit, Abaddon, Apollyon. The armies were raised by the power and policy of the devil, and led on by himself, or an emissary like himself, whose object was to propagate falsehood, and to destroy the truth.
Such is, in substance, the event foretold by the fifth trumpet. It is announced, that "one wo is past;" that, for a time, the world will rest from its effects; but that two others, equally dreadful, will
The sixth trumpet sounds. The second wo is announced. A voice is heard from the four horns of the golden altar; from the place of the Redeemer's intercession, vengeance is declared against his enemies. He, who at the altar pleads for his children, thence denounces the punishment of those who neglect his salvation.
He orders the four angels, that are bound in the river Euphrates, to be loosed. The command is obeyed: and these angels, who are "prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, to slay the third part of men," are loosed. Immediately, St. John saw an army of horsemen, amounting to two hundred thousand thousand, a definite number put for an indefinite, to express their multitude. The riders inspired terror, having breastplates of fire, and jacinth, and brimstone. The horses had heads like lions, and out of their mouths issued fire, and smoke, and brimstone; and the third part of men