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1. This prediction most evidently represents the
rise and successful establishment of a false religion, by which the gospel of Christ, and even reason itself is obscured in certain countries; which was not the case in Persia. The locusts designate the origin of a new power in the world, which had not existed before the opening of the bottomless pit. These locusts are represented like invading armies in march, destroying every thing before them; which was not the case with the Persians, who only persecuted the Jews at home in their own country. This might however apply to the Crusades, but their time is by some centuries too late for the period of this prophecy. The star had fallen upon the earth, the continent of the Roman empire, where it had not before existed, and must for this reason admit of being pointed out on the page of history. This char. acteristic cannot be identified in the persecutions of the Jews by the Persians; nor will it accord with the crusaders, all of which were citizens of countries, formerly belonging to the Romans. It has been argued that Mahomed never was a doctor or minister of the Church, and could therefore not be represented by a star. To which I answer: This emblem is used in Scripture to designate men of great talents, enterprize and usefulness, both Church and state, Dan. viii. 10. Isa. xiv. 1g. ch. li. 16. ch. xlix. 13. ch. xliv. 23. Math. xxiv. 29. within the limits of Christendom; which may properly be applied to Mahomed, who himself was acquainted with the gospel, and lived in Arabia, where Christianity had been preached to stated Churches for centuries.
But in order to illustrate this point more minutely I would observe, that the regular clergy of the Church only, are designated in Scripture by fixed stars, and by planets which revolve in stated revolutions through their orbits, Isa. xiv. 13. Dan. viii. 10; and false teachers by new and , unusual comets, or wandering stars, Jude v. 13. Job xxxviii. 32. MAGADOTH, signa cælestia ; and such a one seems to be intended in this place. These comets become a very striking figure of false teachers, when considered un der the general, and more vulgar conception of them among the ancient Asiatics ; amongst whom Chaldea appears to have been the cradle of astronomy, and the guide of public opinion on that subject, for many centuries. The ancient Magi, or wise men, at first considered comets a sort of erratic meteors, of prodigious size; the combustible matter of which, had been collected by certain demons, who aspiring to imitate the Gods, concentrated it as their bodies and habitations. Thus embodied they soar aloft in the air, rush blazing through the vast ether, until they consume themselves or disperse. For they believed all heavenly bodies animated by superior intelligences, and distinguished their excellence, by the different degrees of splendour and magnitude of those luminaries.' When therefore false teachers are represented by these wandering stars, they are intimated as wicked men of great talents, in the garb of hypocrisy; as Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 2 Cor. xi. 14. Such an erratic comet under this conception, seems to be the figure in the language of the apostle. For how could a key be given to a star without hands? Or how could a star open the bottomless pit by a key, if it was not considered animated by an intelligence? These are actions ascribed to a star, which pre-suppose an embodied mind, capable of reflection.
Verse 1. I saw a star fall. This is not an accurate translation of the original, Teatwróta, which is the part. of the perf. pro perf. inf. and should have been rendered,
which had fallen ; for St. John did not see its fall, as our common version would induce us to believe. The apostle seems to have chosen this manner of expression, to intimate, that the actual fall of this star happened prior to the sounding of this trumpet, and should only be regarded as a preparation, by which this star became qualified, to be the instrument of this dreadful woe. The appearance of such a star in prophetic writings, indicates the rise, and successful elevation of a great character; and its fall, when it is not thereby extinguished, and still remains a star as in this passage, and ch. viii. 10. either denotes degradation, or degeneracy from virtuous principles and a course of noble actions, into a state of moral ruin, and a train of base, corrupt and vile measures. Thus St. Paul calls the transgression of our first parents magántwua, a fall, Rom. v. 15. 17; and our Lord tells the unregenerated Jews 'Tukis En TW Rátw ÉSTÈ, ye are from beneath. John viii. 23.
All this has been accomplished in the life of Mahomed; and this prophecy accords with no other event so fully, as with the achievements of the Arabian impostor. He is stated by history as of illustrious birth, and by nature eminently endowed with resolution, penetration and a most ata tractive eloquence for his undertaking. Being brought up to the mercantile employment, he espoused the widow of a rich merchant, and pursued a successful commerce in Arabia, and the adjacent countries, for many years. In his numerous journies, he became acquainted with many nations, countries, and religions, more especially with Jewish worship, and the gospel of Christ, by which his mind appears to have been illuminated, and all the powers of his soul excited to action, for the accomplishment of that glorious enterprize, the conversion of his countrymen from idolatry, to the knowledge of the true and living God. Thus raised up by Providence, he felt a strong, impulse, and great courage, to make vigorous efforts for the salva
tion of his brethren, and commenced his work of reformation A. D. 612 in Arabia, with the best intentions. He was forty years of age, when he publicly professed in the city of Mecca, that God had sent him to overthrow polytheism and idolatry, and to restore the religion of their ancestors, Abraham and Ishmael, in its primitive purity among them. In the prosecution of this laudable undertaking, he discovered a pious disposition to promote virtue, and suppress vice; and, for the space of twelve years, adopted no other than just and righteous means, to further his great designs. He himself confessed, that he was not invested with compulsatory power, and would not grant his followers any liberty beyond instruction, persuasion and warning men of their danger. Su noble was the disposition of his mind, that when he was persecuted in Mecca, he chose rather to leave his native city, than oppose his enemies by violent measures, which he had in his power.
But this flight of Mahomed to Medina, which happened ; A. D. 622, and its attending circumstances, produced such • a total change in this recently good man; that both the
disposition of his mind, and the measures which he adopted for the accomplishment of his objects, daily became more violent, base and impious. The star had fallen from heaven, and now degenerated into moral ruin. He projected schemes of conquest and self-aggrandizement, used impious frauds to delude the credulous multitude, and even forged celestial visions to confirm his authority and establish the work he had so happily begun. And to complete the imposture he pretended divine revelations, exalted himself above the inspired prophets and apostles, and even claimed a superiority to Christ the Son of God; demanding implicit faith and obedience of all his followers. All these impious frauds and deceptions, he preached with a spirit of · religious phrenzy, and with such a flow of attractive elo: quence, as to 'silence all opposition, and excite a glow of enthusiastic devotion among all his audience.
Verse 2. And he opened the bottomless pit. Here our version falls short of the sense of the original. "ABuscos is a noun, and in itself already signifies a gulf of infinite depth, the lowest part of creation ; and Opéag is an allusion to the wells of the ancient Asiatics, and means a deep narrow opening into the earth, walled in at the top, so that it may be secured by a lock. In the sacred Scriptures this word "A Bussos, is used to express the unfathomable depths of creation, such as the depth of the ocean, the atmosphere, the expansion of heaven; but more especially the great solitary desert of the dead, the world of spirits, Luke viii. 31. Rom. x. 7. Job xxviii. 14. Job xxxviii. 16. 17. Habak. iii. 10 ; where demons are kept in confinement, and the wicked cease from troubling, until the great day of judgment. To this abyss there is an aperture from the human soul, where the teoxov tñs gevésews, the wheel of generation, the first source of all thoughts and actions in man, may be influenced by the invisible powers of darkness, James iii. 6. But this peéxe, in man, is locked, and none can open it. The key is in the hand of Providence, and was given to Mahomed, who thereby opened a communication with the invisible powers of the abyss, and received assistance from that source to accomplish his purposes. This appears to be the most natural illustration of these important figures, perfectly warranted by the extraordinary events in the life of that impostor, which can never be explained as the effects of a merely human agency, nor yet attributed to the interposition of the Supreme Being. But by considering the subject in this point of view, I would not assert the truth of magic, that men have power, except by a Divine judgment, to form a connexion with demons and departed souls, for the purpose of producing unnatural and surprising effects. Mahomed sought this forbidden intercourse, as he himself partly confessed, in the cave of Mount Hara, near Mecca, in order to accomplish his ambitious projects, against the opposition of his