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again to invade Italy. Passing over the Alps he pillaged the cities of Aquileia, Altinum, Concordia, and Cremona, which yielded to his arms ; increased his forces by the accession of 30,000 auxiliaries ; and without opposition marched to the gates of Rome. Here, encompassing the city, he reduced it to a state of famine, of which many thousands died. To this succeeded a destructive pes. tilence. At length the siege was raised on a large sum of money being paid him : but his terms of peace being rejected by Honorius, who had out himself up in Ravenpa, Rome was a second time besieged. After this it was taken, and for three days given up to the plunder of the besiegers. Vast numbers of the Romans were slain, not only by the Goths, but by their own slaves, 40.000 of whom being liberated, fell upon their masters.
About ten months before this terrible calamity on Rome and the lower parts of Italy, by the Goths, Spain and Portugal were invaded by the Vandals, the Suevi, and the Alani. These nations had already desolated Gaul, from whence passing over the Pyrennees they conquered the peninsula." Echard says, “ The Vandals took Galicia, where they settled ; the Suevi pushed their conquests farther; and the Alanj fixed themselves in Portugal and Andalusia, From these barbarians, (he adds,) descended the ancient kings 0. Spain."
The calamities of this invasion are thus decribed by Gibbou from a Spanish Historian. “ The barbarians exercised their indiscriminate cruelty on the fortunes of the Romans and Spaniards, and ravaged with equal fury the cities and the open country. The progress of famine reduced the miserable inhabitants to feed on the flesh of their fellow-creatures : and even the wild beasts that multiplied without control in the desert were exasperated, by the taste of blood and the impatience of hunger, boldly to attack and devour their human prey. Pestilence soon appeared, the inseparable companion of famine ; a large proportion of the people was swept away; and the groans of the dying excited only the envy of their surviving friends. At length, the barbarians, satiated with carnage and rapine, and afflicted by the contagious evils which
they themselves bad introduced, fixed their permanent seats in the depopulated country."*
These events seem to answer to the “ burning mountain cast into the sea,” causing a third part of it to become blood, and destroying a third part of all which were in it, as described under the second trumpet. If Ætoa or Vesuvius had literally been thrown into the ocean, it could hardly have produced a greater effervescence among the waters than these things produced among the nations. The sea would also have a special reference to these calamities being brought upon the maritime parts of the empire.
After this the empire received another mighty shock from the Scythians, or Huns, a heathen nation, more barbarous and cruel than either the Goths or Vandals. Attila, their king and commander, was distinguished by his ferocity ; affecting to be called “ the scourge of God," and declaring that " the grass would never grow upon those places where his horse had trodden !” About 441, he fell upon the eastern empire, where, bearing down all before bim, the country was in a manner destroyed by fire and sword. Gibbon says, “ The whole breadth of Europe, as it extends above five hundred miles, from the Euxine to the Adriatic, was at once invaded and occupied, and desolated by him." The government at Constantinople, after seventy cities had been rased to the ground, was compelled ignominiously to purchase his retreat.
In the year 450 Attila again declared war against both the eastern and western empires. He was defeated in Gaul with a loss (says Echard) of 170,000 men ; yet in the following year he invaded Italy with a larger army than that with which he had enter.. ed Gaul. Aquileia, after a seige of three months, was taken, and 60 effectually destroyed that the succeeding generation could scarcely discover its ruins. After this Verona, Mantua, Padua, and many other cities, shared the same fate ; the men were slain, the women ravished, and the places reduced to ashes. These devastations, however, were confined to those parts of Italy wbich border on the Alps. Attila threatened Rome, but was induced,
* Gibbon's Roman History, Chap. XXXI.
partly by fear of the Roman army, partly by the remonstances of his own, and partly by the embassy of Leo the Roman Pontiff, to forego the attempt, and returning into bis own country, he shortly after ended his days.
This surely must be the “great star burning as it were a lamp;" which followed the sounding of the third trumpet and which shooting like a fiery meteor from east to west, and falling upon the rivers and fountains of waters, impregnated the streams with a mor. tal bitterness. If the rivers and fountains denote, as has been supposed, the mountainous parts of the empire, whence they have their origin, the facts have a remarkable coincidence with the prediction.
As to the remainder of the history, every thing from this time went to eclipse the imperial government. Africa, Spain, Britain, the greatest part of Gaul, Germany, and Illyricum, are said to bave been dismembered from the empire ; the court was full of intrigues and murders ; Valentinian the emperor ravished the wife of Max. imus, one of his senators ; Maximus jo return got Valentinian murdered, usurped his throne, and compelled Eudoxia the Empress to marry him ; Eudoxia in hatred to the usurper invited Genseric the Vandal to come over from Africa and revenge the death of Valentinian ; Genseric prepared to invade Italy ; Maximus on bearing it, instead of taking measures for repelling him, sunk into despondency; the senators stoned him to death, and threw his body into the Tiber; Genseric entered Rome without opposition, and gave it up to be sacked and plundered by the soldiers for fourteen days. From hence, as Bishop Newton observes, "the western empire struggled hard, and gasped as it were for breatb through eight short and turbulent reigns, for the space of twenty years, and at length expired in the year 476 under Momyllus, or Augustulus, as he was named in derision, being a diminutive of Augustus."
After this Odoacer, king of the Ostrogoths, invaded the country, and siezed the government, which he held however, not as head of the western empire, but merely as King of Italy. There were indeed a senate and a council after this, but they had only the shadow of authority.
Thus it was, I conceive, that the eclipse of the sun, moon, and stars, as described under the fourth trumpet, was accomplished. It may be thought that these events had too slight a relation to the church of Christ to become the subject of prophecy : two things, however, may be alleged in answer. First, They were necessary for the accomplishment of other prophecies, particularly Dan. vii.7, 8. 2 Thes. ii. 7. Hereby a way was made for the beast to have “ten horns," as after the overthrow of the empire it was divided into so many independent kingdoms, which with little variation continue to this day. Hereby also a way was made for the little horn” of Daniel's fourth beast, or the papal antichrist to come amongst them; or, as the apostle expresses it, for the man of sin to be revealed. “The mystery of iniquity hath already begun to work, (saith be,) only he who now letteth will let, until be be taken out of the way: and then shall that wicked (one) be revealed.” While the imperial authority continued, there was not sufficient scope for ecclesiastical ambition ; but when this was removed, the other soon appeared in its true character. The Goths, embracing the religion of the conquered Romans, the clergy became objects of superstitious veneration amongst a barbarous people, and of which they availed themselves to the establishing of their spiritual authority. From hence the See of Rome made no scruple of setting up for supremacy.
Secondly, In these judgments upon the empire we perceive the Divine displeasure for its baving corrupted the Christian religion, and transformed it into an engine of state. The wars of the Assy rians and Babylonians were the scourges of God on those who had corrupted the true religion; and such were those of the Goths, the Vandals, and the Huds, on the Cbristian governments of the fourth and fifth centuries: