Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[graphic]

St. John intimates, that the fall of this star should eventually be productive of much blood. shed among the rivers and fountains, or the settled Gothic governments of the West, which now filled the place formerly occupied by the Roman empire; and thence styles it Wormwood, as indicative of the bitter discords which its downfall should occasion. As the union of the nations of the West under one head would naturally be the cause of peace among them, so their disunion under many heads would as naturally be the cause of war. Thus we find, that Odoacer after a short reign of sixteen years was attacked and slain by Theodoric king of the Ostrogoths; that the Ostrogothic monarchy was in its turn subverted by the lieutenants of the Eastern Emperor; and that Italy was afterwards alternately a prey to the Lombards and the Franks. If from Italy we cast our eyes over Gaul, we shall behold the same spectacle of war and discord in the contests of Clovis with the Alemanni, the Burgundians, and the Visigoths: while the period of the fullen star was marked in Britain by the establishment of the Saxon Heptarchy*, and the subsequent never ceasing wars between the princes : of the Saxon blood f.

And

[ocr errors]

* Or, according to Mr. Turner, Octarchy. See his Hist. of the Anglo-Saxons, B. ii, C. 6.

+ The state of the Roman world, when its symbolical rivers and fountains began to be tinged with wormwood by the downfall of the Western empire, is thus described by Mr. Gibbon:

"! I haye

[ocr errors]

* And the fourth angel sounded : and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part "of the moon, arrd the third part of the stars ; so « as the third part of them was darkened, and the “ day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.”

This trumpet describes, under the symbol of an eclipse of the third or Roman part of the political luminaries of the world, the effects produced upon the empire, considered as one great whole, by the sounding of the three first trumpets. When all the provinces of the West were occupied by the northern invaders, when Rome herself became a

mere

“ I have now accomplished the laborious narrative of the de. « cline and fall of the Roman empire, from the fortunate age o of Trajan and the Antonines, to its total extinction in the “ West, about five centuries after the Christian æra. At that “ unhappy period, the Saxons fiercely struggled with the na“ tives for the possession of Britain ; Gaul and Spain were "divided between the powerful monarchies of the Franks and * the Visigoths, and the dependent kingdoms of the Suevi and " Burgundians; Africa was exposed to the cruel persecution s of the Vandals, and the savage insults of the Moors; Romé " and Italy, as far as the banks of the Danube, 'were afflicted

by an army of barbarian mercenaries, whose lawless tyranny " was succeeded by the reign of Theodoric the Ostrogoth. All the subjects of the empire, who, by the use of the Latin " language, more particularly deserved the name and privi" leges of Romans, were oppressed by the disgrace and cala* mities of foreign conquest; and the victorious nations of .“ Germany estabkshed a new system of manners and govern"ment in the western countries of Europe.” Hist. of Decline, Vol. vi. p. 404

;

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 Constantinople fell a prey to the martial fanaticism of the Turks.

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 quit. ted the ancient capital for the city of which he

[ocr errors]

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

claimed

C4

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 in creased; 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 sa 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 “ 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, 6 Genseric and his Vandals arrive from Africa, " spoil and plunder Rome, and set sail again with

56 immense

[graphic]

"immense wealth and innumerable captives. At * the sounding of the fourth_trumpet, Odoacer “ and the Heruli put an end to the very name of “ the Western empire*.

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 worldt, 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

* 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

« AnteriorContinuar »