« VorigeDoorgaan »
empires, and thereby paving the way to the information to be found in for the success of the Caliphs ; and other expositors, except the testiit was with secret pleasure that Mo- mony to be found in the pages of hammed witnessed the mortal conflict Gibbon : these, however, may not of these mighty antagonists. When be undeserving of the reader's attenChosroes was at the summit of his tion, and for the sake of them he may power, “ he received” (says the his- not be unwilling to go over the subtorian) “ an epistle from an obscure ject anew. citizen of Mecca, inviting him to ac- The prophecy thus proceeds : knowledge Mohammed as the apostle “ And the fifth angel sounded : and of God. He rejected the invitation, I saw a star fall from heaven unto and tore the epistle. - It is thus,' the earth; and to him was given the exclaimed the Arabian prophet, key of the bottomless pit. And he
that God will tear the kingdom, opened the bottomless pit; and there and reject the supplication of Chos- arọse a smoke out of the pit as roes. This haughty denunciation the smoke of a great furnace ; was soon realized by the utter defeat and the sun and the air were darkof Chosroes by the Romans, his de- ened by reason of the smoke of the position, and assassination. But the pit ” (Rev. ix. 1, 2). The star here ambitious views of Mohammed were seen by the Apostle to fall (or rather not to be satisfied by the fall of the fallen) from heaven to the earth, as Persian monarch : he aimed at that in the case of the third trumpet, it very dominion which was the object is to be observed, is not spoken of of contention between the two rival as eclipsed or extinguished, but as empires : nor was it long before an engine of destruction, as the inthis design became sufficiently ap- strument employed by Divine Proparent. “ While Heraclius triumph- vidence for inflicting the first woe ed at Constantinople or Jerusalem' upon an apostate and idolatrous (observes the historian), “an obscure church; and it is identified, at the town on the confines of Syria was eleventh verse, with the king of the pillaged by the Saracens, and they locusts, emphatically denominated cut in pieces some troops who ad- Abaddon or Apollyon : for as, in the vanced to its relief; an ordinary and
the key of the bottomless trifling occurrence, had it not been pit is given to the star, so, in the the prelude of a mighty revolution. eleventh verse, the king is expressly These robbers were the apostles of called the angel of the bottomless Mohammed; their fanatic valour had pit. The term “bottomless pit,” or emerged from the desert; and in the abyss, is plainly used in Scripture last eight years of his reign, Hera- to denote the place of torm
nt, the clius lost to the Arabs the same pro- prison of evil demons and the souls of vinces which he had rescued from the bad men, as in xx. 1–3; and it apPersians.” (Gibbon, chap. xlvi.) The pears in this passage, as in xi. 7 and rapid, extensive, and permanent con- xvii. 8, to denote the kingdom of darkquests of Mohammed, and his succes- On the opening of this abyss sors the Caliphs, present one of the “ there arose a smoke, as the smoke of most striking epochs in history, well agreatfurnace;" by which is approprimeriting the notice of the Spirit of ately symbolized that moral and reprophecy, and particularly as carry- ligious darkness by which the sun ing a new religion in their train. and atmosphere of the intellectual
The rise and character of the Mo- world were obscured by the false hammedan imposture, and the means
doctrines of the Koran, composed by which it was propagated, are so by Mohammed in the cave of Hera, distinctly announced by the fifth trum- and to which also, possibly, an allupet, that interpreters appear to be sion may be intended, as the mouth, universally agreed in applying the as it were, of the bottomless pit. prophecy to it; and I can add little “Each year,” says Gibbon, “ during
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 em“And there came out of the ployed in the conversion of fourteen smoke locusts upon the earth ; and proselytes, the first-fruits of his mis. unto them was given power, as the sion; and it was not till the fourth scorpions of the earth have power : year that he ventured publicly to and it was commanded them that assume the prophetic office.....He they should not hurt the grass persevered ten years more in the of the earth, neither any green exercise of his mission ; and the rething, neither any tree; but only ligion which has overspread the East those men which have not the seal and West advanced with a slow and of God in their foreheads” (vers. 3,4). painful progress within the walls of The locust, though unknown in Mecca.” The soldiers of Mohammed Europe, is familiar, as was before were, in effect, the converts to his observed, in Arabia : and its singular doctrine ; religious enthusiasts, aimresemblance to the horse; its natural ing rather at the propagation of the coat of mail; the immense swarms in Koran than at the extension of the which it takes its flight, like a dense temporal power of Mohammed, or of cloud darkening the air; the rushing his successors the Caliphs. noise of its wings, resembling that of Koran, tribute, or the sword,” was a hurricane or distant thunder ; its the only choice they left to all nastraightforward and irresistible pro- tions. And this forcible diffusion of gress; and the wide-spreading deso- the poison of the Mohammedan creed lation attending its line of march, is likened to the sting of the scormake it a happy and appropriate pion ; and in the fifth verse their torsymbol of the numerous and impe- ment is represented as like the tortuous cavalry of Arabia. And we see ment of a scorpion when he striketh the Prophet Joel, from whom the a man. But there is one important imagery of the vision seems to be difference in the character of the taken, reversing the simile, in his prophetic locust from that of the nadescription of a destructive plague tural locust, and which is particuof locusts, which, in execution of larly to be noticed. The latter is God's judgment upon Jerusalem, remarkable for utterly destroying all was to desolate the land. After vegetation in its way, and such was painting in the darkest colour the to be the effect of the judicial locusts ravages which they should occa- foretold by Joel; but the charactersion, he thus describes them: “The istic commission given to the Apocaappearance of them is as the appear- lyptic locust is, that “ it was comance of horses, and as horsemen so manded them that they should not shall they run : like the noise of hurt the grass of the earth, neither chariots on the tops of mountains any green thing, neither any tree.” shall they leap; like the noise of a Now it is remarkable that the exflame of fire that devoureth the stub- press command given by Abubeker, ble; as a strong people set in battle on the invasion of Syria, runs thus : array” (Joel ii. 4, 5).
“ Remember," said the successor of The Apocalyptic locusts are repre- the prophet, that you are always sented as coming out of the smoke in the presence of God, on the verge that issued out of the bottomless pit. of death, in the assurance of judgNow it is to be observed, that the pre- ment, and the hope of paradise, tensions of Mohammed as a prophet Avoid injustice and oppression..... were the foundation of his power as Destroy no palm-trees, nor burn any fields of corn: cut down no fruit still remarkable; and the character trees, nor do any mischief to cattle.” and appearance of this cavalry are (Gib. chap. li.) Another feature of described with wonderful precision this commission was, to hurt only in the sequel of the vision. “ And those who had not the seal of God the shapes of the locusts were like in their foreheads; and the sequel of unto horses prepared unto battle ; Abubeker's orders proceeds thus : and on their heads were, as it were, “ As you go on, you will find some crowns like gold; and their faces religious persons who live retired in were as the faces of men ; and monasteries, and propose to them, they had hair as the hair of women; selves to serve God that way: let and their teeth were as the teeth of them alone, and neither kill them lions : and they had breastplates, as nor destroy their monasteries. And it were breastplates of iron; and you will find another set of people the sound of their wings was as that belong to the synagogue of the sound of chariots of many horses Satan, who have shaven crowns : be running to battle (vers. 7-9). sure you cleave their skulls, and give The language is here in part plainly them no quarter, till they either turn taken from Joel; and, if it were Mohammedans or pay tribute.” In applicable to the natural locusts of effect, the professed object of Mo. Assyria or Palestine, it is more so hammed was to put down the pagan to the symbolical locusts of Arabia ; superstitions of the Caaba, and to and, as it has been justly observed, exterminate idolatry wherever found: the intermixture of the characters of his creed was short and simple, the natural locust and of the horse“ There is but one God, and Mo- men prepared to battle sufficiently hammed is his prophet;” and his hos- shews that the latter was intended tility to the Christians seems only to by the Spirit of prophecy in the have been originally levelled against Apocalyptic vision. They had on their idolatries; for which, indeed, he their heads, not actual, but “ was unquestionably sent as a scourge were, crowns like gold: ” this plainly and judgment upon the apostate denotes the turban. The sequel of church of Christ. The religion of the description appositely points out Mohammed was, in fact, professedly to us the fierce mustaches, the flowfounded by him on the Patriarchal, ing hair, and the destructive scimitar, the Mosaic, and the Christian dispen- as well as the intrepid courage, of sations, and contained an admixture the Saracen. And they had tails of truth with falsehood and imposture: like unto scorpions, and there were and as the unity of the Godhead was stings in their tails' (ver. 10).the first essentialarticle of his creed, so “ They are thrice compared unto he was implacable against polytheists scorpions "(to cite the words of Bishop and idolaters of every denomination. Newton), “ and had stings in their “Grant us, O apostle of God (said tails like unto scorpions : that is, they the deputies of Jayef to Mohammed), should draw a poisonous train after a truce of three years, with the tole- them; and wherever they carried their ration of our ancient worship’ ‘Not arms, there also they should distil a month, not an hour.' 'Excuse us the venom of a false religion.” at least from the obligation of prayer.'. “* And their power was to hurt men · Without prayer religion is of no five months. And they had a kingover avail.' They submitted in silence; them, which is the angel of the their temples were demolished : and bottomless pit; whose name in the the same sentence of destruction was Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in executed on all the idols of Arabia " the Greek tongue hath his name (Gibbon, l.)
Apollyon " (vers. 10, 11). This forThe military force by which Mo- midable king, symbolized in the first hammed and his successors achieve verse by a star, and appropriately ed their conquests, consisted chief- named Apollyon, or “the destroyer, ly of cavalry, for which Arabia is seems to be universally understood,
by all interpreters, as designating of the religion of Mohammed. One Mohammed and his successors the hundred years after his flight from Caliphs ; the rapidity, extent, and Mecca, the arms and the reign of permanence of whose conquests his successors extended from India have no parallel in history. Moc to the Atlantic Ocean, over the hammed fled from Mecca A. D. 622, various and distant provinces which to escape the fury of the Kourish; may be comprised under the names and (in the words of Gibbon) “ the of Persia, Syria, Egypt, Africa, and religion of the Koran might have Spain ” (Gib. chap. li).—The perperished in its cradle, had not Me- manence of the Saracen conquests dina embraced with faith and reve- was as remarkable as the rapidity rence the holy outcasts of Mecca.” with which they were achieved; but, But from his establishment at still, after a comparatively brief Medina, Mohammed assumed the space, their dominion subsided into exercise of the regal and sacerdotal a more settled state, and the world, office ...... and the prophet of Me- especially the Western empire, was dina assumed, in his new revelations, relieved from the scourge of invaa fiercer and more sanguinary tone; sion. In a. D. 732 their attempt to which proves that his former mo- subjugate France was defeated by deration was the effect of weakness. Charles Martel, at the memorable The means of persuasion had been battle of Tours : their internal tried; the season of forbearance was dissensions weakened and exhausted elapsed; and he was now commanded their strength : Spain separated itto propagate his religion by the self as an independent caliphate, and sword, to destroy the monuments of luxury gradually relaxed the sinews idolatry, and, without regarding the of their military power. Speaking sanctity of days or months, to pur- of the civil war between the Abbassue the unbelieving nations of the sides and Ommiades in the East, earth..... The martial apostle fought A. D. 750. Gibbon observes, “ Yet in person at nine battles or sieges; the thousands who were swept away and fifty enterprizes of war were by the sword of war might have achieved in ten years by himself or been speedily retrieved in the suchis lieutenants.......From all sides ceeding generation, if the consethe roving Arabs were allured to quences of the revolution had not the standard of religion and plunder tended to dissolve the power and ....... The sword,' says Mohammed, unity of the empire of the Saracens." • is the key of heaven and of hell ; a Abdalrahman, escaping the massacre drop of blood shed in the cause of of the rest of the Ommiades, fled God, a night spent in arms, is of to Spain : the acclamations of the more avail than two months of fast- people saluted his landing on the ing or prayer’........... The conquest coast of Andalusia ; and, after a of Mecca determined the faith and successful struggle, he established obedience of the Arabian tribes” the throne of Cordova ...... Thus, in(Gib. chap. I). Mohammed indeed stead of opening a door to the conlived not to see the extension of his quest of Europe, Spain was disreligion or dominion beyond the severed from the trunk of the moconfines of Arabia; but after his narchy, engaged in perpetual hosdeath, A. D.632, the foreign conquests tility with the East, and inclined of the Caliphs proceeded with ra- to peace and friendship with the pidity almost incredible. “ In the Christian sovereigns of Constantiten years of the administration of nople and France. The example of Omar, the Saracens reduced to his the Ommiades was imitated by the obedience thirty-six thousand cities real or fictitious progeny of Ali, the or castles, destroyed four thousand Edressites of Mauritania, and the churches or temples of the un- more powerful Fatimites of Africa believers, and edified (built) four- and Egypt " (Gib. chap. lii). This teen hundred mosques for the exercise disunion of the empire put a period to its further extension in the West; One requisite preparation for this and in the East the translation of species of composition I conceive to the caliphate from Damascus to Bag- be a habit of conversing with the dad, A.D. 762, may be considered as lower orders of society, and by this putting a period to the first woe means catching their turn of thought trumpet; and this epoch appears to and modes of expression. A few be generally adopted, by the best in- sentences given in their own style, terpreters, as terminating the Apo- and as far as possible in their own calyptic period of five months, or language, avoiding any thing really one hundred and fifty years, reckon- offensive, will be more to the pured from Mohammed's first announce- pose than pages of finer writing. ment of his pretension as a prophet, We shall perceive that there is a A. D. 612. Damascus,” says the breadth in their manner of reasonhistorian, “was disgraced by the ing, a singleness in their ideas, and choice, and polluted with the blood a strength in their expressions, such of the Ommiades; and after some as they seldom find in the books hesitation, Almansor, the brother which we place in their hands. It and successsor of Saffah, laid the should, then, be our object to divest foundation of Bagdad, the imperial all our strong points of every trifling seat of his posterity during a reign circumstance that can possibly be of five hundred years...... In this city spared. We must let them stand of peace,
amidst the riches of the out in such full relief that they canEast, the Abbassides soon disdained not be mistaken, even at first sight: the abstinence and frugality of the they must be stated in broad terms, first caliphs, and aspired to emu- and not weakened or obscured by late the magnificence of the Persian long explanations. We must carekings.”—Their dynasty subsisted till fully avoid perplexing our readers A.D. 1258, when Mostasem, the last with doubts, stated in order to be of the Abbassides, was taken and put cleared, or difficulties, suggested in to death by the Tartars. D.M.P.
order to be got over. The most (To be continued.)
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 : To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
we scarcely know how to be plain Among the numerous publications without it : but in writing for poor which have been written for the people we should exclude" but, if, children of the poor, it appears to and wherefore :” no induction, howme that very few really possess that ever clear we may think it, will be requisite which they profess, " great clear to the generality of our readers. plainness of speech.” As I consider Instead of argument, let us it a matter of very high importance repetition—not vain in thiscase. Our to convey knowledge to the lower sentences must be short; for an unorders in words easy to be under- informed mind cannot run far withstood, I have endeavoured to find out confusion, and requires frequent the reason why there are so many stops. We must remember, that failures, where there has been evi- there is always the physical difficulty dent desire to avoid them; and I beg ofreading to be gotover-some words, leave to suggest a few hints, which perhaps, have to be spelled. Or, if the I wish may prove of some use to parties have advanced beyond that those of your readers who may oc- stage, still the want of constant casionally employ themselves in com- practice prevents their reading with posing sermons or tracts for plain so much ease that the symbols are people.
overlooked while the meaning is Christ. OBSERV. No. 354.
ON PLAINNESS OF SPEECH IN TRACTS.