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monk Sergius or Baheira; who assisted Mohammed in the forging of his imposture, and who infused into it all the antitrinitarian venom of his own sect. The Mussulmans assert, that he first noticed their prophet while yet a boy: when he observed a luminous cloud around his head, which preserved him from the too intense rays of the sun; perceived the dry trees, upon which he sat, instantly to put forth branches clothed with verdant foliage, to serve him for a shade; and discovered the seal of prophecy, impressed between his shoulders. But, according to Dr. Prideaux, "the truth of the matter is, Mohammed did not "fall acquainted with him till a long while after, "when he was projecting his wicked design in his "head; in order to the better forming of which, being very desirous to acquaint himself with "the Jewish and Christian religions, he was very inquisitive in examining into them, as he met "with those who could inform him. And in one "of his journies into Syria, either at Bostra as
some say, or at Jerusalem as others, lighting on "this Baleira, and receiving great satisfaction "from him in many of those points which he de"sired to be informed in, he did thereon contract "a particular friendship with him. And therefore, "not long after, the monk, for some great crime being excommunicated and expelled his monastery, fled to Mecca to him; and, being there
* Modern Univ. Hist. Vol. i. p. 26.
"entertained in his house, became his assistant "in the framing of that imposture which he after"wards vented, and continued with him ever "after: til at length the impostor, having no "further occasion for him, to secure the secret, "put him to death*."
In the year 606, Mohammed.committed the first overt act of his imposture by retiring to the cave of Hera: consequently then it was, that the fallen star Sergius opened the door of the bottomless pit. The locusts however and their leader did not immediately issue forth, or publicly disclose themselves: their open manifestation was to be preceded by the smoke and fumes of the false religion which they were about to propagate. Accordingly Mohammed emerged from his solitary retreat† about the year 609; and began to excite that
* See Prideaux's Life of Mohammed, p. 47.
+Mr. Whitaker's conjecture, that the bottomless pit, or the care of the abyss (which no doubt is the literal translation of the original expression), alludes to the cave of Hera (caves being often considered by pagan superstition "as the seats of
oracles and sources of inspiration"), has the merit of possessing much ingenuity; but I am not perfectly satisfied how far it may be deemed solid. In the first place, it does not appear that we are warranted in taking symbolical language in a literal sense, unless it be avowedly descriptive: as, for instance, when the Euphratèan army is said to consist of horsemen, aud to seem as if vomiting fire, and brimstone, and smoke and, in the second place, Mohammed literally issued from the cave of Hera about the year 609, which will not agree with that part of the prophecy, which speaks of the locusts tormenting menfive months. Waker's Comment. p. 123.
smoke, which soon darkened all the eastern heaven. "Three years he silently employed in the conver❝sion of fourteen proselytes, the first-fruits of his "mission*. But, in the fourth year," or the year 612, “he assumed the prophetic office, and "resolved to impart to his family the light of di"vine truth t." In this year 612 then, Mohammed and his disciples, or Apollyon and his locusts, may be considered as issuing from the bottomless pit, which the fallen star Sergius had been the main instrument of opening. Consequently the five prophetic months, during which the locusts were allowed to torment mankind, expired in the year 762; when the caliph Almansor built Bagdad as the future seat of his empire, and called it the city of peace. At this period, the Saracens ceased from their locust devastations, and became a settled people. Henceforth they no longer made such rapid conquests as they had formerly done; but only engaged in ordinary wars like other nations. The five months, or 150 years, being now expired, Mohammedism was firmly established; although the power of its particular votaries the Saracens began to decline, in order to make room for its
* Dr. Prideaux makes the impostor emerge from his cave in the year 608, and spend four years in the private exercise of his assumed function. This arrangement, however, no less than that of Mr. Gibbon, equally brings us to the year 612. Life of Mohammed, p. 15.
+ Hist. of Decline and Fall, Vol. ix. P. 284 D 2
new proselytes, described under the next trum pet *.
A command was given to Apollyon, and his symbolical locusts, that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any treeAccordingly, it was the special injunction of Abubeker to the Saracens, that they should destroy no palm trees, nor burn any fields of corn; that they should cut down no fruit trees, nor injure any cattle except such as they killed to eat.
The commission of the locusts extended only to hurt those men who had not the seal of God in their foreheads; and, though they were permitted to hurt them, their warrant gave them no authority to kill them-Now it appears from history, that in the countries invaded by the Saracens a very great defection from primitive Christianity had taken place; for, before they began their ravages, the transgressors (to use the language of Daniel) were come to the full, the will-worship of saints and martyrs had extended itself far and wide, and
*I cannot assent to Sir Isaac Newton's supposition, that the prophet's repetition of the five months, in two different verses, implies ten months or 300 years: Had St. John meant to convey this idea, he would have joined the two periods of five months each, by a conjunction copulative, in the same verse; as thus: "their power was to torment men five months and five months." Otherwise, upon the same principle, we must extend the persecution of the Church from, 1260 years to twice 1260 years; for the period is twice mentioned in the single prophecy of the woman's flight into the wilderness. Compare Rev. xii. 6. with ver. 14.
the great Apostasy of 1260 days had commenced. Hence we find, that, when they approached Savoy, Piedmont, and the southern provinces of France, which had been but little tainted with the general disease and which were afterwards the seat of the Waldenses and Albigenses, they were defeated with great slaughter by Charles Martel in several engagements. They were however only allowed to torment the great body politic of the apostate empire; they were not permitted to kill it. Accordingly, they were never able to take Constantinople, or to subvert its monarchy, though they frequently attempted it; the task of giving the fatal blow to its declining power being reserved for their successors the Turks.
The symbolical locusts were like horses prepared for the battle: the strength of the Saracens consisted chiefly in their cavalry-The locusts had on their heads as it were crowns like gold: the Arabs have constantly worn turbans; and even boast that they wear, as their common attire, those 'ornaments which among other people are the peculiar badges of royalty-The locusts had faces as the faces of men, and hair as the hair of women: the Arabs, as Pliny testifies, wore their beards, or at least their mustachios, as men; while their hair was flowing or plaited, like that of women-The 'teeth of the locusts were as the teeth of a lion`; an expression frequently used in Scripture to denote great strength*; the sound of their wings
* "Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth: break out the great teeth of the young lions, O Lord." Psalm. lviii. 6.