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empires, and thereby paving the way for the success of the Caliphs; and it was with secret pleasure that Mohammed witnessed the mortal conflict of these mighty antagonists. When Chosroes was at the summit of his power," he received" (says the historian) "an epistle from an obscure citizen of Mecca, inviting him to acknowledge Mohammed as the apostle of God. He rejected the invitation, and tore the epistle. It is thus,' exclaimed the Arabian prophet, that God will tear the kingdom, and reject the supplication of Chosroes.'" This haughty denunciation was soon realized by the utter defeat of Chosroes by the Romans, his deposition, and assassination. But the ambitious views of Mohammed were not to be satisfied by the fall of the Persian monarch: he aimed at that very dominion which was the object of contention between the two rival empires: nor was it long before this design became sufficiently apparent. While Heraclius triumphed at Constantinople or Jerusalem" (observes the historian), "an obscure town on the confines of Syria was pillaged by the Saracens, and they cut in pieces some troops who advanced to its relief; an ordinary and trifling occurrence, had it not been the prelude of a mighty revolution. These robbers were the apostles of Mohammed; their fanatic valour had emerged from the desert; and in the last eight years of his reign, Heraclius lost to the Arabs the same provinces which he had rescued from the Persians." (Gibbon, chap. xlvi.) The rapid, extensive, and permanent conquests of Mohammed, and his successors the Caliphs, present one of the most striking epochs in history, well meriting the notice of the Spirit of prophecy, and particularly as carrying a new religion in their train.

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The rise and character of the Mohammedan imposture, and the means by which it was propagated, are so distinctly announced by the fifth trumpet, that interpreters appear to be universally agreed in applying the prophecy to it; and I can add little

to the information to be found in other expositors, except the testimony to be found in the pages of Gibbon: these, however, may not be undeserving of the reader's attention, and for the sake of them he may not be unwilling to go over the subject anew.

The prophecy thus proceeds: "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 bottomless 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" (Rev. ix. 1, 2). The star here seen by the Apostle to fall (or rather fallen) from heaven to the earth, as in the case of the third trumpet, it is to be observed, is not spoken of as eclipsed or extinguished, but as an engine of destruction, as the instrument employed by Divine Providence for inflicting the first woe upon an apostate and idolatrous church; and it is identified, at the eleventh verse, with the king of the locusts, emphatically denominated Abaddon or Apollyon: for as, in the first verse, the key of the bottomless pit is given to the star, so, in the eleventh verse, the king is expressly called the angel of the bottomless pit. The term bottomless pit," or abyss, is plainly used in Scripture to denote the place of torment, the prison of evil demons and the souls of bad men, as in xx. 1—3; and it appears in this passage, as in xi. 7 and xvii. 8, to denote the kingdom of darkness. On the opening of this abyss "there arose a smoke, as the smoke of a great furnace;" by which is appropriately symbolized that moral and religious darkness by which the sun and atmosphere of the intellectual world were obscured by the false doctrines of the Koran, composed by Mohammed in the cave of Hera, and to which also, possibly, an allusion may be intended, as the mouth, as it were, of the bottomless pit. "Each year," says Gibbon, "during

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the month of Ramadan, he withdrew a leader, and that till he had esta→ from the world; and in the cave of blished the one he had no success Hera, three miles from Mecca, he as a conqueror. "The first and most consulted the spirit of fraud or en- arduous conquests of Mohammed thusiasm, whose abode is not in the (says Gibbon) were those of his wife, heaven, but in the mind of the pro- his servant, his pupil, and his friend. phet." (chap. 1.) ....Three years were silently employed in the conversion of fourteen proselytes, the first-fruits of his mission; and it was not till the fourth year that he ventured publicly to assume the prophetic office.....He persevered ten years more in the exercise of his mission; and the religion which has overspread the East and West advanced with a slow and painful progress within the walls of Mecca." The soldiers of Mohammed were, in effect, the converts to his doctrine; religious enthusiasts, aiming rather at the propagation of the Koran than at the extension of the temporal power of Mohammed, or of his successors the Caliphs. "The Koran, tribute, or the sword," was the only choice they left to all nations. And this forcible diffusion of the poison of the Mohammedan creed is likened to the sting of the scorpion; and in the fifth verse their torment is represented as like the torment of a scorpion when he striketh a man.—But there is one important difference in the character of the prophetic locust from that of the natural locust, and which is particularly to be noticed. The latter is remarkable for utterly destroying all vegetation in its way, and such was to be the effect of the judicial locusts foretold by Joel; but the characteristic commission given to the Apocalyptic locust is, that "it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree." Now it is remarkable that the express command given by Abubeker, on the invasion of Syria, runs thus:

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 the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads" (vers. 3, 4). The locust, though unknown in Europe, is familiar, as was before observed, in Arabia: and its singular resemblance to the horse; its natural coat of mail; the immense swarms in which it takes its flight, like a dense cloud darkening the air; the rushing noise of its wings, resembling that of a hurricane or distant thunder; its straightforward and irresistible progress; and the wide-spreading desolation attending its line of march, make it a happy and appropriate symbol of the numerous and impetuous cavalry of Arabia. And we see the Prophet Joel, from whom the imagery of the vision seems to be taken, reversing the simile, in his description of a destructive plague of locusts, which, in execution of God's judgment upon Jerusalem, was to desolate the land. After painting in the darkest colour the ravages which they should occasion, he thus describes them: "The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses, and as horsemen so shall they run like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap; like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble; as a strong people set in battle array" (Joel ii. 4, 5).

The Apocalyptic locusts are represented as coming out of the smoke that issued out of the bottomless pit. Now it is to be observed, that the pretensions of Mohammed as a prophet were the foundation of his power as

Remember," said the successor of the prophet," that you are always in the presence of God, on the verge of death, in the assurance of judgment, and the hope of paradise. Avoid injustice and oppression........... Destroy no palm-trees, nor burn any

fields of corn: cut down no fruit trees, nor do any mischief to cattle." (Gib. chap. li.) Another feature of this commission was, to hurt only those who had not the seal of God in their foreheads; and the sequel of Abubeker's orders proceeds thus: "As you go on, you will find some religious persons who live retired in monasteries, and propose to themselves to serve God that way: let them alone, and neither kill them nor destroy their monasteries. And you will find another set of people that belong to the synagogue of Satan, who have shaven crowns: be sure you cleave their skulls, and give them no quarter, till they either turn Mohammedans or pay tribute." In effect, the professed object of Mohammed was to put down the pagan superstitions of the Caaba, and to exterminate idolatry wherever found: his creed was short and simple, "There is but one God, and Mohammed is his prophet;" and his hostility to the Christians seems only to have been originally levelled against their idolatries; for which, indeed, he was unquestionably sent as a scourge and judgment upon the apostate church of Christ. The religion of Mohammed was, in fact, professedly founded by him on the Patriarchal, the Mosaic, and the Christian dispensations, and contained an admixture of truth with falsehood and imposture: and as the unity of the Godhead was the first essential article of his creed, so he was implacable against polytheists and idolaters of every denomination. "Grant us, O apostle of God (said the deputies of Jayef to Mohammed), a truce of three years, with the toleration of our ancient worship.' 'Not a month, not an hour.' 'Excuse us at least from the obligation of prayer.'. Without prayer religion is of no avail.' They submitted in silence; their temples were demolished: and the same sentence of destruction was executed on all the idols of Arabia " (Gibbon, 1.)

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The military force by which Mohammed and his successors achieved their conquests, consisted chiefly of cavalry, for which Arabia is

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still remarkable; and the character and appearance of this cavalry are described with wonderful precision in the sequel of the vision. And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were, as it were, crowns like gold; and their faces were as the faces of men; and they had hair as the hair of women; and their teeth were as the teeth of lions: and they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle" (vers. 7-9). The language is here in part plainly taken from Joel; and, if it were applicable to the natural locusts of Assyria or Palestine, it is more so to the symbolical locusts of Arabia; and, as it has been justly observed, the intermixture of the characters of the natural locust and of the horsemen prepared to battle sufficiently shews that the latter was intended by the Spirit of prophecy in the Apocalyptic vision. They had on their heads, not actual, but "as it were, crowns like gold: " this plainly denotes the turban. The sequel of the description appositely points out to us the fierce mustaches, the flowing hair, and the destructive scimitar, as well as the intrepid courage, of the Saracen. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails" (ver. 10).— "They are thrice compared unto scorpions "(to cite the words of Bishop Newton), "and had stings in their tails like unto scorpions: that is, they should draw a poisonous train after them; and wherever they carried their arms, there also they should distil the venom of a false religion."

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'And their power was to hurt men five months. And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit; whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon" (vers. 10, 11). This formidable king, symbolized in the first verse by a star, and appropriately named Apollyon, or "the destroyer," seems to be universally understood,

by all interpreters, as designating Mohammed and his successors the Caliphs; the rapidity, extent, and permanence of whose conquests have no parallel in history. Mohammed fled from Mecca A. D. 622, to escape the fury of the Kourish; and (in the words of Gibbon) "the religion of the Koran might have perished in its cradle, had not Medina embraced with faith and reverence the holy outcasts of Mecca." But from his establishment at Medina, Mohammed assumed the exercise of the regal and sacerdotal office...... and the prophet of Medina assumed, in his new revelations, a fiercer and more sanguinary tone; which proves that his former moderation was the effect of weakness. The means of persuasion had been tried; the season of forbearance was elapsed; and he was now commanded to propagate his religion by the sword, to destroy the monuments of idolatry, and, without regarding the sanctity of days or months, to pursue the unbelieving nations of the earth.....The martial apostle fought in person at nine battles or sieges; and fifty enterprizes of war were achieved in ten years by himself or his lieutenants.......From all sides the roving Arabs were allured to the standard of religion and plunder ......The sword,' says Mohammed, is the key of heaven and of hell; a drop of blood shed in the cause of God, a night spent in arms, is of more avail than two months of fasting or prayer' ...........The conquest of Mecca determined the faith and obedience of the Arabian tribes" (Gib. chap. 1). Mohammed indeed lived not to see the extension of his religion or dominion beyond the confines of Arabia; but after his death, A. D. 632, the foreign conquests of the Caliphs proceeded with rapidity almost incredible. "In the ten years of the administration of Omar, the Saracens reduced to his obedience thirty-six thousand cities or castles, destroyed four thousand churches or temples of the unbelievers, and edified (built) fourteen hundred mosques for the exercise

of the religion of Mohammed. One hundred years after his flight from Mecca, the arms and the reign of his successors extended from India to the Atlantic Ocean, over the various and distant provinces which may be comprised under the names of Persia, Syria, Egypt, Africa, and Spain" (Gib. chap. li).-The permanence of the Saracen conquests was as remarkable as the rapidity with which they were achieved; but, still, after a comparatively brief space, their dominion subsided into a more settled state, and the world, especially the Western empire, was relieved from the scourge of invasion. In A. D. 732 their attempt to subjugate France was defeated by Charles Martel, at the memorable battle of Tours: their internal dissensions weakened and exhausted their strength: Spain separated itself as an independent caliphate, and luxury gradually relaxed the sinews of their military power. Speaking of the civil war between the Abbassides and Ommiades in the East, A. D. 750. Gibbon observes, "Yet the thousands who were swept away by the sword of war might have been speedily retrieved in the succeeding generation, if the consequences of the revolution had not tended to dissolve the power and unity of the empire of the Saracens." Abdalrahman, escaping the massacre of the rest of the Ommiades, fled to Spain: "the acclamations of the people saluted his landing on the coast of Andalusia; and, after a successful struggle, he established the throne of Cordova......Thus, instead of opening a door to the conquest of Europe, Spain was dissevered from the trunk of the monarchy, engaged in perpetual hostility with the East, and inclined to peace and friendship with the Christian sovereigns of Constantinople and France. The example of the Ommiades was imitated by the real or fictitious progeny of Ali, the Edressites of Mauritania, and the more powerful Fatimites of Africa and Egypt" (Gib. chap. lii). This disunion of the empire put a period

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to its further extension in the West; and in the East the translation of the caliphate from Damascus to Bagdad, A.D. 762, may be considered as putting a period to the first woe trumpet; and this epoch appears to be generally adopted, by the best interpreters, as terminating the Apocalyptic period of five months, or one hundred and fifty years, reckoned from Mohammed's first announcement of his pretension as a prophet, A. D. 612. Damascus," says the historian, was disgraced by the choice, and polluted with the blood of the Ommiades; and after some hesitation, Almansor, the brother and successsor of Saffah, laid the foundation of Bagdad, the imperial seat of his posterity during a reign of five hundred years......In this city of peace, amidst the riches of the East, the Abbassides soon disdained the abstinence and frugality of the first caliphs, and aspired to emulate the magnificence of the Persian kings."-Their dynasty subsisted till A.D. 1258, when Mostasem, the last of the Abbassides, was taken and put to death by the Tartars.

(To be continued.)



To the Editor of the Christian Observer. AMONG the numerous publications which have been written for the children of the poor, it appears to me that very few really possess that requisite which they profess," great plainness of speech." As I consider it a matter of very high importance to convey knowledge to the lower orders in words easy to be understood, I have endeavoured to find the reason why there are so many failures, where there has been evident desire to avoid them; and I beg leave to suggest a few hints, which I wish may prove of some use to those of your readers who may occasionally employ themselves in composing sermons or tracts for plain people.


One requisite preparation for this species of composition I conceive to be a habit of conversing with the lower orders of society, and by this means catching their turn of thought and modes of expression. A few sentences given in their own style, and as far as possible in their own language, avoiding any thing really offensive, will be more to the purpose than pages of finer writing. We shall perceive that there is a breadth in their manner of reasoning, a singleness in their ideas, and a strength in their expressions, such as they seldom find in the books which we place in their hands. It should, then, be our object to divest all our strong points of every trifling circumstance that can possibly be spared. We must let them stand out in such full relief that they cannot be mistaken, even at first sight: they must be stated in broad terms, and not weakened or obscured by long explanations. We must carefully avoid perplexing our readers with doubts, stated in order to be cleared, or difficulties, suggested in order to be got over. The most simple ideas of an educated person are complicated, and his most simple style in common use, obscure to an uncultured mind. We are so accustomed to argument, that we use it without knowing when we do so; we scarcely know how to be plain without it: but in writing for poor people we should exclude " but, if, and wherefore :" no induction, however clear we may think it, will be clear to the generality of our readers. Instead of argument, let us repetition-not vain in thiscase. Our sentences must be short; for an uninformed mind cannot run far without confusion, and requires frequent stops. We must remember, that there is always the physical difficulty ofreading to be got over-some words, perhaps, have to be spelled. Or, if the parties have advanced beyond that stage, still the want of constant practice prevents their reading with so much ease that the symbols are overlooked while the meaning is

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