mere appendage to a Gothic kingdom, and when the line of the Italian Cesars had ended in the person of Augustulus; then commenced the great eclipse of the fourth trumpet. The Roman sun, shorn of his rays, no longer emitted his pristine splendor; the figurative moon, or the body of the people subject to his influence, shone, by the defal cation of the western provinces, with scarcely more than half her wonted lustre; and the figurative stars, or the governors of provinces, experienced a proportionate diminution. "The day shone not "for a third part of it, and the night likewise.", While the victorious nations of Germany esta"blished a new system of manners and government "in the western countries of Europe, the majesty "of Rome was faintly represented by the princes "of Constantinople, the feeble and imaginary "successors of Augustus. Yet they continued to reign over the East, from the Danube to the "Nile and Tigris; the Gothic and Vandal king"doms of Italy and Africa were subverted by the "arms of Justinian*;" nor did the long line of the Cesars become finally extinct, till Constanti-' nople fell a prey to the martial fanaticism of the Turks.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Thus was he that letted removed out of the way, and thus was an opening prepared for the man of sin and the western Apostasy. Constantine quitted the ancient capital for the city of which he

* Hist. of Decline and Fall, Vol. vi. p. 424.

[blocks in formation]

claimed to be the founder; Honorius, the first of the divided Italian Cesars, fixed his residence at Ravenna; and at length the Western empire was completely overthrown in the person of Augustu lus. Nothing now impeded the growth of the little horn, except the three Gothic kingdoms which were destined to be plucked up by the roots before it. During their eradication it gradually increased; and, before it had attained the summit of its temporal power, the saints were delivered into its hand, and it became a mighty spiritual · persecuting empire. Then was the man of sin revealed, that son of perdition, whose tyrannical reign and final destruction is described at large under the three last trumpets.

As I have materially varied from Bp. Newton in the preceding interpretation of the first four trumpets, it is a mark of respect only due to so excellent a commentator to state the grounds of my differing from him. According to his Lordship's exposition, "at the sounding of the first "trumpet, Alaric and his Goths invade the Roman 66 empire, twice besiege Rome, and set fire to it in "several places. At the sounding of the second "trumpet, Attila and his Huns waste the Roman "provinces, and compel the Eastern emperor "Theodosius the second, and the Western empe"ror Valentinian the third, to submit to shameful "terms. At the sounding of the third trumpet, "Genseric and his Vandals arrive from Africa, "spoil and plunder Rome, and set sail again with


"immense wealth and innumerable captives. At "the sounding of the fourth trumpet, Gdoacer " and the Heruli put an end to the very name of "the Western empire*.'

[ocr errors]

All the subsequent errors of this interpretation may be traced up to an erroneous curtailment of the effects produced by the first trumpet. The northern hail-storm, according to the most natural explanation which can be given of it, must mean all the invasions of the Roman empire by way of Germany, Scythia, and the North; whether conducted by Alaric, Radagaisus, or Attila; whether executed by the Goths, the Vandals, the Suevi, the Alans, or the Huns. If once we attempt to separate these kindred expeditions from each other, we shall be obliged to divide them, not merely between two trumpets (as Bp. Newton has done), but among all the seven. Proceeding as they universally did from the same quarter of the world, the region of literal hail, they must jointly be considered as constituting only so many different showers of one great symbolical hail-storm. I conceive Bp. Newton then to be perfectly right, in supposing that the first trumpet relates to Alaric

[ocr errors]

*Table of contents to Dissert. xxiv.

+ The Huns originally migrated from the borders of China. The Gothic tribes were likewise of Asiatic extraction. But they all equally invaded the Roman empire from the northern regions of Scythia, Mesia, and Germany. Hence I conceive them all to be alike intended by the hail-storm of the first trumpet,


and his Goths; but perfectly wrong, in placing Attila and his Huns under the second trumpet, instead of under the first. Such an arrangement, in fact, proves itself to be erroneous; for it has led the Bishop to a complete violation of the principles of symbolical language in his remarks both upon the second, the third, and the fourth trumpet. He in. terprets for instance the burning mountain to mean Attila; the falling star, to mean Genseric; and the eclipse of the sun, moon, and stars, to mean the extinction of the imperial dignity in the person of Augustulus, and the eclipse of the senate and consuls under the government of the Gothic sovereigns of Italy. The symbol however of a mountain ser on fire, torn violently from its base, and hurled into the sea, must surely mean, agreeably to the parallel passage in Jeremiah*, not a victorious prince, but a subverted empire. So again: the symbol of a fallen star denotes either a king hurled from the summit of his power, or an apostate pastor: hence it is plainly impossible, that the fallen star of the third trumpet should be Genseric; for he was not a minister of the Gospel, and he was a triumphant instead of being a vanquished sovereign. Lastly, an eclipse of the sun, moon, and stars, cannot be fairly interpreted to mean an extinction of the sun, and only an eclipse of the other luminaries: yet does the scheme of Bp. Newton, by leading him to view the Western Empire as something altogether

*Jerem. li. 25.


distinct from the Eastern Empire, instead of considering the fourth trumpet as affecting the whole" Empire in general by producing the downfall of its Western half, constrain him to adopt this incongruous explanation of its imagery*.

On these grounds, I have ventured to bring forward a different interpretation, which at once harmonizes with the symbolical language of prophecy, and which shews how a way was prepared for the developement of the great Apostasy.

* Whatever objections are here made to the scheme of Bp. Newton apply with equal force to that of Mr. Whitaker, whó has throughout followed the Bishop, enlarging only very considerably upon the brief remarks of his predecessor. I am indebted to him for some useful hints in the elucidation of the hail-storm of the North,

« ElőzőTovább »