meaning of the third part, which so frequently

occurs in it.

Now, as the Roman empire is symbolized throughout the Apocalypse by the earth or the world, furnished with its waters or peoples and with its heavenly luminaries or governing powers; the third part of that world must of course denote the third part of the Roman empire. But that portion of the Roman empire, which is subverted by the operation of the four first trumpets, is the empire of the West; the proper seat of which is the European continent. Hence the third part, mentioned in the present prophecy, must be the western empire. Agreeably to this supposition, as that empire was the strong-hold of the great apostasy, we elsewhere find it said, that the infernal dragon cast down the third part of the stars of heaven at the commencement of the period of 1260 years; because then it was, that the episcopal angels throughout the western empire, with the leading star of Rome at their head, first openly fell away from evangelical sincerity *.

The western empire being one third part of the earth or Roman empire in general, the eastern empire will naturally be viewed as another third part. Accordingly, in the prophecy of the Euphratèan horsemen, by whose agency the Constan. tinopolitan monarchy was overturned, the eastern empire is spoken of as being the third part of

* Rev. xii. 4.


men; just as the western empire had been similarly designated in the prophecies of the four trumpets and of the great dragon*.

We have now only to ascertain the remaining third part and this, since the proper empires of the west and the east are each a third of the entire empire, must obviously be composed of the provinces which were situated in the continent of Africa. The last third part was dependent upon the two others; and, as such, it is never specially mentioned in the Apocalypse: while, on the contrary, the proper empires of the west and the east, being each an independent governing power, were in that capacity fit subjects for prophetic notice.

At present then we are concerned with the western third part of the Roman empire; which was alone subverted under the prediction of the four first trumpets, though the eastern third part also necessarily suffered much from the circumstance of its contiguity.

Hail and lightning mingled with blood denote a tremendous tempest of desolating war and foreign invasion. The storm therefore, which is here represented as falling upon the earth or Roman empire in general, though it proves eminently destructive to its western third part, typifies that grand compound irruption of the barbarous northern nations; from the effects of which the Roman empire never

* Rev. ix. 18.


recovered itself, as it had done from those of the foregoing irruptions.

In the natural world, a storm is frequently preceded by a calm: hence, in the figurative world, the great hail-storm mingled with lightning is represented as being preceded by silence. This silence however is not so deep, but that the latter part of it is interrupted both by thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake*, the immediate harbingers of the hail-storm. Accordingly, we find that the fierce Gothic tribes, though perpetually at war with the Romans, and though threatening to overwhelm them by repeatedly violating the long extent of the northern frontier, were for a time restrained by the genius of Theodosius †: but, upon the decease of this great prince in the year 395, the northern cloud, which had so long been gathering, discharged itself with irresistible fury upon the Empire. "He "died in the month of January; and before the "end of the same year the Gothic nation was in "arms The barriers of the Danube were thrown

open the savage warriors of Scythia issued from "their forests and the uncommon severity of the ،، winter" (the season in which natural hail and snow are generated) "allowed the poet to remark,

Rev. viii. 5.

"As the impatient Goths," says Mr. Gibbon, "could only "be restrained by the firm and temperate character of Theodo"sius, the public safety seemed to depend on the life and abili"ties of a single man." Hist. of Decline, Vol. iv. p. 443.


"that they rolled their ponderous waggons over "the broad and icy back of the indignant river"The fertile fields of Phocis and Beotia were "covered with a deluge of barbarians, who mas"sacred the males of an age to bear arms, and "drove away the beautiful females with the spoil and cattle of the flaming villages." The whole territory of Athens was blasted by the baleful presence of Alaric; and "the travellers, who visited "Greece several years afterwards, could easily discover the deep and bloody traces of the march "of the Goths*."


[ocr errors]

Such were the first effects of the symbolical hailstorm. Having thus ravaged Greece, it was next carried into Italy and the West. Under the guid ance of Alaric, it passed over Pannonia, Istria, and Venetia; and threatened the destruction of imperial Rome herself. At length it was driven out of Italy by Stilicho.

Yet, scarcely was this part of the tempest dissipated, when another dark cloudt, generated like its fellow in the cold regions of the North (so ac

* Hist. of Decline and Fall, Vol. v. p. 176—181.

† I have adopted the language of the historian. Unconscious that he was bearing his testimony to the truth of prophecy, he has used the self-same allegorical language as that employed by St. John. "The correspondence of nations," says he, "was in "that age so imperfect and precarious, that the revolutions of "the North might escape the knowledge of the court of Ra


venna; till the dark cloud, which was collected along the coast "of the Baltic, burst in thunder upon the banks of the upper "Danube." Hist. of Decline and Fall, Vol. v, p. 214.



curately does the symbol correspond with its antitype), burst in the year 406 upon the banks of the upper Danube, and thence passed on into Italy. Headed by Radagaisus, the northern Germans emigrated from their native land, besieged Florence, and threatened Rome. Stilicho however was again victorious; but the remnant of the vanquished host was still sufficient to invade and desolate the province of Gaul. "The banks of the Rhine were "crowned, like those of the Tiber, with elegant houses, and well cultivated farms. This scene "of peace and plenty was suddenly changed into


a desert; and the prospect of the smoking ruins "could alone distinguish the solitude of naturė "from the desolations of man. The flourishing city of Mentz was surprised and destroyed; and many thousand Christians were inhumanly mas"sacred in the church. Worms perished, after a long and obstinate siege; Strasburgh, Spires, "Rheims, Tournay, Arras, Amiens, experienced "the cruel oppression of the German yoke; and "the consuming flames of war spread from the "banks of the Rhine over the greatest part of the

seventeen provinces of Gaul. That rich and "extensive country, as far as the ocean, the Alps, "and the Pyrenees, was delivered to the barba"rians; who drove before them, in a promiscuous "crowd, the bishop, the senator, and the virgin, "laden with the spoils of their houses and al* 29 tars

Hist. of Decline, Vol. v. p. 225.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]




« ElőzőTovább »