« AnteriorContinuar »
imbitter the blessings of life, whether this were, or were not, a fulfilment of our text. Arius denied the doctrine of the Trinity in the Godhead ; holding that Jesus Christ is but a mere creature, though of exalted rank, and above angels. And he exhibited his scheme, when he said of "his opponents, “ They hold that Christ, in his divine person, is not posterior nor inferior to the Father !” And again; “We (Arians) are persecuted, because we say Christ had a beginning !" 'Though Arius himself lived before the time of the judgment of this trumpet; yet the Arian heresy received a notable revival at this very period. We learn in history that kings and first characters of those barbarous hordes from the north, as they came within the twilight of Christianity, embraced the tenets of Arius; and they became their surious advocates, and the bitter persecutors of the orthodox. The celebrated Mosheim testifies as follows : “ Towards the commencement of the sixth century, the Arians were triumphant in several parts of Asia, Africa, and Europe ! Their opinions were openly professed, and their cause maintained, by the Vandals in Africa, the Goths in Italy, the Spaniards and Burgundians, the Suevi, and the greater part of the Gauls." He further proceeds to speak of the Trinitarians, as being rigorously treated by the heretics of that age ; particularly in Africa and Italy, where, he says, “they felt, in a very severe manner, the weight of the Arian power, and the bitterness of their resentment." And this storm, he informs us, was not over, till the Vandals were driven (in 534) from Africa; and the Goths, by the arm of Justinian, out of Italy." (Vol. i. p. 467.) These Arian persecutions accord so fully with both the chronology and the imagery of this trumpet, that they are here adduced as at least aiding in the fulfilment of its events. They did indeed contribute their full part to the bitter scenes of those days, and were effected by the bitter Goths and Vandals who had been the instruments of the judgments of the two antecedent trumpets.
Ver. 12. And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and 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 :
The darkening of the heavenly luminaries imports, in prophetic language, the subversion of the civil authorities, in a kingdoin or empire; the destroying of their civil peace.
A writer says, As light is the symbol of joy and safety, so is darkness of adversity and misery; and hence, said Jeremiah to the Jews ; " Give glory to the Lord your God, before he cause darkness; and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains; and while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness.” We have here one description of the Babylonish captivity; it caused "gross darkness." The degree of darkness in such passages may hint to us the degree of the judgment fulfilling them. The prophet Isaiah, predicting the judgments of the last days, when God will
cut off the spirit of princes, and show himself terrible to the kings of the earth ;” says, “ For the stars of heaven, and the constellations thereof, shall not give their light; the sun shall be darkened in his going forth ; and the moon shall not cause her light to shine; and I will punish the world for their evil."
Ezekiel, also, predicting fatal judgments on Egypt, says, " When I shall put thee out; (or extinguish thy luminary,) I will cover the heavens, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud ; and the moon shall not give her light, and all the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord God.” Joel also
6. The sun shall be turned into darkness, before the great and notable day of the Lord;" meaning in wars and revolutions.
Thus we learn the sense of the prophetic language in our text; that God would darken a third part of the political Roman luminaries ; or extinguish that third part of the political light of that empire, which then still remained. It seems, from the history of the fulfilment of our text, that the third part of the light extinguished was not the first third ; but the last third ; or the part which had till now remained. And this their darkness settled down upon them for both day and night, or the twenty
four hours, meaning continually. Rome never again should recover her pristine glory, nor much meliorate her degraded condition.
And all this took place upon that empire. After the Gothic kingdom had for some time continued in Italy, which kingdom had left to Rome a considerable degree of splendour, and some degree of the power of her senate, consuls, and other magistrates,—the emperor of the eastern wing of the empire sent his general Belisarius, and took Rome. The year following, Vitijes, king of the Goths, besieged Rome with an army of 150,000 men, and reduced it to great extremity. Soon after, Totilas, a succeeding Gothic king, took Rome: and the next year Belisarius took it from him : two years after, Totilas recovered it : and five times, in less than twenty years, this noted city was thus taken and retaken ; reducing that capital of the world to a sorry condition ! In a short time after, Narses, another general of the emperor in the east, again subdued Rome, and got himself constituted duke of all the realm, with Rome and the other provinces subjected to him.
The exarchate of Ravenna was now established, and became the seat of the new government; and Rome lost all its supremacy, and was placed upon a level with other cities of Italy ; and thus the last third of the light of this great national luminary was extinct! Darkness settled on all the advocates of the old government ; and the judgment in our text was accomplished. These first four trumpets, inflicted on Rome, after its revolution to Christianity, are the four minor trumpets : but they brought the fall of the Roman Empire.
Ver. 13. And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Wo, wo, wo, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound.
Notice is here given, by an angel flying through the heaven, of the three woes then yet awaiting the guilty world : and these three trumpets are hence denominated the three wo trumpets, or the first, second, and third woes; which were to be still more notable events. They were
to relate each to a different power, as will be seen ; and were events great, and far distant from each other.
The three trumpets, expounded in this lecture, furnish interesting reflections.
By these judgments, God made himself known, vindicated his name and government, and gives solemn warnings to men on earth. Rome had been great, and had long governed the known world.
But, long had this wicked empire persecuted the cause of God, and slaughtered millions of the dear followers of Christ : and God poured his judgments upon them.
These savage barbarians from the north had their own selfish and bloody designs; and the Most High had his deep, wise, holy, and vindictive designs, in the same events. “ Surely the wrath of man shall praise God; and the remainder of that wrath he will restrain." These calamities were the wicked deeds of those vile hordes of robbers; and they were yet the righteous dispensations of God:
ye meant evil against me (said Joseph to his brethren); but God meant it for good.” God governed the whole, and fulfilled his word and wise designs ; yet were the aggressors free agents; and their cruelties were without
God said of the Assyrian, Isa. x, coming against the Jews ; “ I will send him against the hypocritical nations, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down as the mire of the streets.” But of the same Assyrian, God says ; 6. Howbeit he meaneth not so; neither does his heart think so ; but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few :" hence God cut off the Assyrian, in his turn; as he did the Romans, in the judgments recited.
Let transgressors then, tremble ! for “the triumphing of the wicked is short !” “When they say, Peace and safety ; sudden destruction cometh, and they shall not
“ He that being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."
LECTURE I X.
This chapter gives us the fifth and sixth trumpets; or the first and second wo trumpets.
Ver. 1. And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.
2. And he opened the bottomless pit: and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.
3. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.
4. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.
5. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion when he striketi a man.
6. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.
7. And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle ; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men.
8. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.