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Ver. 6. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
7. The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth : and the third part of the trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
Most of the events which fulfil the trumpets, are secular events, or events political; but they will not be exhibited here merely as such; but as judgments of God in fulfilment of his word, in the protection of Zion, and in the confusion of her enemies. As such, Christians should contemplate them, to increase their devotions, and their confidence in God; even as the historical national events of the Old Testament are to be contemplated. The events of this trumpet are given under an assemblage of figures, such as are used in similar cases in the word of God, especially in the prophecies. The earth, which was the seat of those judgments, means the provinces of the Roman earth, as the earth often means a country then under consideration. The winds of judgments, which the four angels were (in chap. vii. 1) holding, that they should not for a time blow on the earth (the Roman empire), were now let loose, and began to scour the regions of their destination with vast ravages. The imagery in the text, to denote them, is both rich and scriptural. Storms of hail, with thunder and tornados, prostrate and destroy the blessings of life. They are here taken as fit emblems of wars, foreign invasions, and bloody scenes, which waste and destroy. The prophet Isaiah predicted the invasion of Israel by Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, as follows: Isa. xxviii. 2; " Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which is a tempest of hail, and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth.” And the invasion of Sennacherib is thus predicted, Isa. xxix. 6; “Thou shalt be visited by the Lord of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm, and tempest, and flame of devouring fire.". In like manner Ezekiel predicts the divine judgment on the wall built up with untempered mortar: Ezek. xiii. 23; “Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, I will rend it with a stormy wind in my fury; and there shall be an overflowing shower in mine anger, and great hailstones in my fury to consume it." The following
strokes in the word of God are in the same kind of diction; "The Lord also thundered, and the Highest gave his voice, hailstones, and coals of fire.' "The Lord shall cause his glorious voice to be heard, and shall show the lighting down of his arm, with the indignation of his anger, and with the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering tempests and hailstones.' Says Sir Isaac Newton, “In prophetic language, tempests, winds, or the motions of clouds, are put for wars: and thunder, lightning, hail, and overflowing rains, are put for the tempests of war.” And he adds, “In like manner animals, and the green grass, express the beauty and fruitfulness of the land; also trees signify people of higher rank; and green grass people of common condition."
The figures in our text then, denoted war, invasion, terrible ravages of the empire; and as hail in those regions usually came from the north; so those judgments should be fulfilled, as was the fact, by invasions from the north. And in the histories of those times we find all this fulfilled.
Upon the death of Constantine, under whose reign the empire enjoyed the peace noted by the staying of the winds;—his three sons, to whom the empire was divided, began to contend; they thus prepared the empire for foreign invasion: and the historic pages of those times assure us that barbarians from the north of Europe poured forth like storms of hail indeed! Says Guthrie,
" Those fierce tribes were scattered over the vast countries of the north of Europe, and northwest of Asia; the subjects of the Russians and the Tartars. Great bodies of armed men, from the vast and wild regions of the north, with their wives and children, issued forth like regular colonies, in quest of new settlements in the south of Ěurope. New adventurers followed them; and the regions which they deserted were occupied by more remote tribes of barbari
These in their turn pushed forward into more fertile countries, and like a torrent, these numerous hordes rolled onward, threatening to sweep all away before them. The scourge of God, and the destroyers of men, were names by which the most noted of these barbarian chieftains were known. These savage and furious hordes of human beings overran (as is well known) and settled in the southern realms of Europe, and the western branch of the old Roman empire. The Suevi and Alans settled in Spain, early in the fifty century; who soon after were themselves overrun by the Goths, who captured Rome, and settled in Italy.
The Franks soon after subdued and settled in Gaul, from whom it derived the name of France. The Huns, about the middle of the fifth century, invaded Hungary, and settled themselves in that region. The Gepida and Lombards planted themselves in Italy. And the Vandals crossed the Straits of Gibraltar, and established themselves in the northern and fertile provinces of Africa, whence they would be found to fulfil another trumpet of divine wrath, as will appear. These things fully answered to the figurative language of our text, and to the time of its events; as says Dr. Lowman: “All the Roman provinces were at once invaded, from the eastern to the western limits: ” and Eutropius says, “The Roman empire now nodded with distress:” and Claudianus in Lowman),
( “Nothing but the shadow of the Roman name then remained. Mr. Mede informs, that Alaric, with a huge army of Goths, and others, broke into the eastern wing of the empire, especially Macedonia, sparing neither towns nor people: that in Greece he wasted and destroyed with horrible carnage; carrying the same destruction into Epirus, and Achaia, burning and destroying !--that having thus ravaged in the east, for five years; he passed into the west, and spread desolation far and near!--that after him, Madagaiso, a Scythian, with an army of 200,000 men, invaded the Venetian territories, carrying slaughter and terror!—that a third and more deadly army of Vandals and Alans invaded the westeru wing of the empire, occasioning vast calamities; and that these judgments fulfilled that terrible storm of hail, mixed with fire and blood, alluded to in this trumpet. Gregory, of those times, says, terrors from heaven were then oftentimes stricken in the minds of men, as lightning, flaming fires, and sudden storms occasion.” And thus was fulfilled the judgment of the first trumpet on the Roman earth.
The texts, expounded in this lecture, furnish rich materials for reflection. Divine judgments are often deferred for a sealing time! and, at such a time, how important it is to obtain the seal of salvation! Sealing times are nearly allied to days of divine vengeance!-as in the following: " To declare the acceptable year of the Lord; and the day of vengeance of our God.” God is long-suffering; but at the time appointed his judgments will speak, and will not lie. If because judgment against an evil work is not speedily executed, the hearts of sinners are fully set in them to do evil; yet, sooner shall heaven and earth
"Go your way
pass away, than such denounced judgments fail of fulfilment. God will be known by the judgments which he executeth.
the earth!” “Go ye forth, and slay utterly: but come not nigh to the men that have the mark.” The days in which we live render such directions of the deepest interest!
Ver. 8. And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea : and the third part of the sea became blood :
9. And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had lise, died; and the third part of the ships were
A mountain, in prophetic language, means a kingdom; and a mountain on fire, means a kingdom flaming in war, and burning with indignation for revenge, or for plunder. The sea in prophecy means a realm in a tumultuous state; and sometimes the seat of a power marked out for ruin: in our text it means the latter.
This trumpet denotes another signal step towards the downfall of the Roman empire, after the first fury of invasion, like a storm of hail and thunder from the north. And it was fulfilled by the capital plundering of Rome itself, the seat of the empire, by bloody hordes of Goths and Vandals. The judgments of the first trumpet fell, like a tempest of hail and fire, upon the provinces of the empire; but this second trumpet takes the seat of it. Alaric with an army of Goths, laid siege to Rome, took the city, and plundered it; slaying a vast multitude of its inhabitants, men, women and children; noble and ignoble, priests and laity. But this scene of terror was outdone by another of a similar kind within half a century; when Genseric, with
an army of Vandals from the northern parts of Africa (where this people had planted themselves from the north as has been noted), landed at the mouth of the Tiber at Rome, and took the city. The burning mountain was now cast indeed into the sea, in prophetic imagery. The ferocious Moors and Vandals had the unrestrained possession and plundering of this vast city, the capital of the world, for fifteen days; when its treasures, sacred and secular, fell a promiscuous prey into the hands of these rapacious legions. When their fury was glutted, and their rage for plunder satisfied;—Genseric led them back to Africa, conveying thither immense riches, and many captives, among whom was the Empress Eudoxia, with her two daughters. This may be viewed as a finishing of the judgment of the second trumpet; and thus as a notable infliction of divine wrath on that capital city, so long the seat of the pagan persecutions of the church of Christ. As the hail-storm of the judgment of the first trumpet came from the north, this finishing and most capital scene of the burning mountain of the second trumpet, came from a burning clime of the south.
Ver. 10. And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon a third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters :
11. And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
A falling star, in prophetic imagery, and when secular things are the subject, imports the falling of some civil prince. Thus Isaiah, addressing the king of Babylon after his fall, says, “ How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!” or, thou light-bearing star; alluding to the day-star, as though this should fall to the earth! What Roman prince then, fell at this time? Their last Roman emperor, Momylus (called Augustulus, or the little Augustus), was, at the time to which this trumpet'naturally alludes, put down,—to the great vexation of the provinces of the Roman empire. Odoacer, king of the Heruli, collected an army in Germany, entered Italy, and put down their last emperor after taking Rome), and