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one third of them their lives. But the common people are represented by this prophecy, as having fallen altogether, an entire pray to the ravages of these Barbarians, with all their estates; except those who had been sealed, by the seal of the living God. Rev. vii. 3. 4.
The blowing of this trumpet was of import to the Church of Christ; for we may venture to assert, that the Chris. tians were the principal sufferers under these calamities. Though these fierce and warlike nations were for the most part strangers to Christianity, and only intent to acquire wealth and dominion, yet they were often excited by the Pagans, who still remained in the empire, to treat the followers of Christ with inexpressible cruelty and violence, However, their expectations were finally disappointed. The eternal sun of righteousness illuminated the hearts of these usurpers; they at last embraced Christianity, and resigned their sceptres to the Lord.
II, TRUMPET ACCOMPLISHED FROM A. D. 422-TO 472.
Verse 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 life, died; and the third part
of the ships were destroyed. This trumpet must be explained in connexion with the first, as being of the same nature, and having the Roman empire for its object; and yet as sufficiently distinguished, in regard to time and place. Hence it cannot refer to the Macedonian heresy, nor to the taking and sacking of Rome, by the victorious Alaric, at the head of his fierce
and warlike Goths, as Dr. Gill, and other expositors have explained. The sea here denotes, the countries on the sea coast of the Mediterranean; and the burning mountain, that terrible invasion of Africa, by the Vandals and Alans under their king Genserick, who during this period, desolated all those countries with fire and sword, in a most cruel and savage manner. This mountain was cast ; that is, it came from another region, and fell with sudden violence on this devoted third part of the Roman empire, which had hitherto escaped the calamities of the first trumpet.
During the accomplishment of the prophecy under this trumpet, the Christian Church in Africa was almost crushed by violence, and the cruel oppression of her ene. mies. Genserick, that savage and inhuman tyrant, set sail from Spain A. D. 427, at the head of 80,000 Vandals, and invaded Africa by the treachery of Bonifacius, the Roman governor, who had been offended by his Court. This fierce people had no sooner arrived, than they carried on a most dreadful war of desolation and plunder against the inhabitants for twelve years, took the province out of the hands of the Romans, and established a kingdom for themselves, which continued a whole century. Genserick him, self was a monster of cruelty, and his Vandals without mercy. They committed inexpressible cruelties, without remorse, during a period of fifty years, in which they waged a continual war of carnage and rapine, against the Romans on the European sea coast, and the islands in the Mediterranean; which is said, by Procopius, an author of those days, to have almost depopulated Africa, and to have cost five millions of souls. Their known savage cruelty, and the glory of a number of victories which they gained in rapid succession, almost disarmed the power of the Romans. They conquered Hippo A. D. 437, Carthage A. D. 439, and in a few years the islands of
Sicily, Sardiana, Corsica, Eberjus and Majorca. A. D. 455, they invaded Italy with an army of 300,000 men, and far surpassed the West Goths in their terrible cruelties. They pillaged Naples, Capua, and many other cities and towns on the continent; and their fleet ravaged every place within its reach on the sea coast. Rome, which had submitted to their victorious arms, lost all its treasures, and not even retaining its ornaments, which other Barba-. rians bad as yet permitted it to enjoy.
The Vandals, for the most part, were Arians. Amidst their constant wars, they also carried on a bloody persecution against the Catholics, who professed their adherence to the Nicene doctrine, concerning the divinity of Christ. Genserick and his son Hunerick in particular, razed their churches, exiled their bishops, and tormented by the most violent methods, such as remained inflexible against their wicked importunities. They even exceeded, if possible, Pagan Rome, in injustice, and devising various means of torture ; under which many thousands were either maimed in their bodies, or honoured the Lord by martyrdom.
The whole nation is here compared to a burning mountain, consuming itself, and every combustible matter in contact with’it. By this figure are indicated their rage, fury, and savage cruelties in all their invasions of the Roman empire; and the barbarous persecutions, which they carried on against the Catholics in their own country. The Christian Churches in Africa, under the government of the Vandals, truly dwelled, as it were in contact with a consuming fire. For, we are informed by credible historians, that before their invasion of that country, they counted seven hundred bishoprics in it, (i. e. congregations, according to the meaning of this word at that time,) which these cruel tyrants almost totally destroyed. Just as the sea would be agitated, if a burning mountain was, thrown into its bosom; such was the turbulence and confusion of the ocean of nations along the Mediterranean,
during the time of their incursions.' But as the sea would also soon extinguish the fire of such a flaming mountain, so their fury and power was only of short duration.
Thus history furnishes abundance of testimony in completion of this prophecy, for the confirmation of our faith. Those minutely acquainted with the events during this period, will readily consent, that one third part of the inhabitants of Africa, and on the European sea coast of the Mediterranean, died violent deaths by these judgments; and that one third part of the ships, or towns, cities, islands and states have been destroyed by these cruel invaders, and in consequence of their incursions. Ezek, xxix, 4. 5.
Some of my readers perhaps, would rather take Atilla to be this burning mountain, who is termed the scourge of God, and the dread of the world. He certainly was the most terrible of all men, who at the head of his Funs, had nearly desolated the whole earth, and filled it with blood and slaughter; wherefore he might properly have been predicted, under the figure of a burning mountain. But his invasion of the Roman empire, from A. D. 445 to 456, though dreadful beyond expression, does not realize all the features of this prophecy,
, III. TRUMPET ACCOMPLISHED FROM A. D. 472--T0 522:
Verse 10. And the third angel sounded, and there fell a
great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the 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.
Nature is by far the most pleasing source of images in all poetry, and the prophets appear to have taken a particular delight, to express the stupendous mysteries of God in her sublime language. The highest objects in the natural world are the sun, moon, and stars; and by these they represent the principal personages either in the world politic, or in the Church. Dan. viii. 10. Isa. xiv. 12. li. 16. xlix. 13. xliv. 23. Math. xxiv. 29. It would by no means accord with all the features of the prophecy under this trumpet, to explain its contents of the world politie, and this star of a king, kingdom, empire, prince, or ruler of the people. In my opinion, this star must signify an eminent doctor, or ruler of the Church, ch. i. 20. Bengelius has here understood Arius and his heresy, and Dr. Gill Pelagius and the pernicious effects of his heretical doctrines concerning the original corruption of human nature, and the necessity of Divine grace. But this trumpet is too late for Arius, who lived in the reign of Constantine; and the doctrines of Pelagius were suppressed by the eloquent pen of Augustine, and the councils of the Gauls, Britons, and Africans, before they acquired that degree of celebrity, ascribed to this star. Some expositors have understood it of Origen; but his reputation has only been considerable among the monastic orders, and his doctrines were attended with no such pernicious effects. Besides, this trumpet must, from its connexion with the general tendency of all these judgments, refer to an event of such a nature, as not only effects the Church, but also the Roman empire: which has only been the case in a small degree, even with Arianism.
This star represents the bishop of Rome, in his aspiring efforts to pre-eminence and spiritual supremacy in the Church of Christ; for which the immediate foundations were laid, during this period, according to the concurring testimony of those eminent historians, Walch and Mosheim. By this ambitious grasp at rank and ecclesiastical