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THE FIRST WOE-TRUMPET; OR THE SMOKE AND LOCUSTS.
Chap. viji. 13, ix. 1-12.
As the first four trumpets were connected in their objects, so are the last three. The last verse of the eighth chapter is introductory to them.
13 And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels which are yet to sound.
- This solemn denunciation seems to be introduced for the purpose of drawing our attention to the great importance of the events which were to happen under the last three trumpets. It serves also as a chronological mark to show that these three trompets are all posterior to the first four, not only in order, but in time ; and that they belong to a new series of events."* The most distinguished plagues which were to befall the church and the world are designated by them. The first two seem to refer to the prevalence of Popery and Mahometanism, and the last to those vials of wrath which should effect their overthrow.
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
* Cunninghame's Dissertation, p. 84.
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 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 10 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 striketh a man. 6 And in those days shall men scek 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. 9 And they had breast-plates as it were breast-plates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. 10 And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails : and their
power to hurt men five months. 11 And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon. 12 One woe is past; and behold there come two woes more hereafter.
The fifth or first woe-trumpet is short but awfully impressive. Looking at this dreadful irruption of darkness and desolation, we perceive the necessity there was for “sealing the servants of God in their foreheads,” that they might be preserved amidst these trying times. These are the “winds,” which those ministers of vengeance to whom it was given to hurt the earth, (Chap. vii. 1, 2.) at length let loose upon it. The professing Christian world being exceedingly corrupt, it became necessary to try them. The “sealed” servants of God would endure the trial ; but “those men who had not the seal of God in their foreheads” would be carried away and perish.
That the locusts refer to the ravaging hordes of Saracens, whos with Mahomet at their head, subdued and destroyed the eastern part of Christendom, seems to be generally admitted ; and some bave considered the “smoke" as denoting his false doctrine, and the “star” which fell from heaven to the earth as meaniog bimself. But on the most mature consideration, I concur with those expositors, who, while admitting the locusts to be Mahomet's destructive hordes of Saracens, yet understand the smoke of popish darkness, which was preparatory to the other, and the fallen star of the fallen Bishop of Rome.* If the fourth trumpet refer to the subversion of the imperial government drder Augustulus, it may be presumed that the fifth would refer to things not very distant from it, and probably rising out of it: but the appearance of Ma. homet was 130 years after this event, and seems to have no imme. diate connexion with it. On the other hand, there is a connexion between the subversion of the imperial government and “the revo elation of the man of sin." It was the imperial authority which "let” or hindered him, and which when “taken out of the way,” made room for his appearing. Thus the eclipse under the fourth trumpet prepared the way for the irruption of darkness under the fifth. The mystery of iniquity had long been at work; but now it burst forth as the smoke of a great furnace, impeding the light of the gospel, and darkening the moral atmosphere of the Christian world.
With this also agrees the application of “ the fallen star” to the Pope or Bishop of Rome. It comports with the symbolical style of the book that a prophetical person should denote not an individual, but a succession of individuals in an official character. The Bishop of Rome was once a star in the Christian firmament; but abandoning the doctrine and spirit of a Christian minister, and setting up for worldly domination, he “ fell from heaven unto the earth,” and thus became a fit agent for “opening the bottomless pit.” The Bishop of Meaux acknowledges that “Hell does not open of itself: it is always some false doctor that opens it.”
*It is true, that that part of the prophecy which treats directly of the great papal community is yet in reserve: but as in a history of any nation frequent mention requires to be made of other nations; so in a prophecy of the ravages of Mahometanism, mention may require to be made of Popory, as propar. ing its way.
+ 2 Thes. ii, 4-8.
The darkness of Popery is not only of infernal origin, but brings with it a state of mind prepared for the grossest delusions. Intercepting the light of truth, it darkened the world with its doctrines. It changed the truth of God into a lie, and, like an old Heathen
worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever, Amen!" Wherefore God gave them up to Mahometan imposture, depredation, and ruin. As the smoke brought forth the locusts, (though both proceeded from the pit) so Popery brought forth Mabomętanism. * But for the one, the other could not bave prevailed as it did where the light of the gospel had once appeared. The Roman Catholics have made great noise about the keys; and truly a key has been given them, " the key of the bottomless pit !"
As to the locusts they are described chiefly by their depredations. The wrath of God is less directed against them than against that out of which they came. They were indeed from beneath, and so was the conquering system of Assyria and Babylon ; but as these powers were the rod of God's anger against a nation which had corrupted the true religion, it is not till they in their turn are punished that much is said of their crimes. And thus the destructive hordes of Saracens that laid waste a great part of the eastere world are described as executing a commission, not against “grass or green things, or trees," like ordinary locusts; but, “ against the men who had not the seal of God in their foreheads”-that is, against the corrupters of Christianity. Ver. 4. There was a direction given to their successes very much like that which has of late.years been given to those on the continent of Europe against the papal countries. The Christianity of the Greek church, whose patriarch resided at Constantinople, was in a great degree absorbed by them.
It is observable, however, that the men against whom their com. mission was directed were not to be killed, but tormented for a certain time. They doubtless did kill great numbers individ: ually considered; but with all their ravages they only barrassed those countries where corrupted Christianity prevailed. They were not able to destroy either the Greek or the Latin churches.
See Mr. Cunninghame's Dissertation on the Trumpets, Chap. VI.
The time in which they should harrass them is limited to “five months,” which probably alludes to the usual season for the ravages of the natural locusts. It has been thought to intend so many prophetical days, or years. Five months, reckoning thirty days to a month, and each day a year, would be 150 years; and this was the period in which the Saracen arms are said to have prevailed. They began about 612. After the death of Mahomet, they continued, though with some interruptions, to carry on their conquests. In 713 they entered Spain, which in a few years was subjugated to them; and passing the Pyrenees, they entered France, which was then said to be the only rampart of Christianity. They advanced as to a certain victory, whereupon ensued one of the bloodiest battles that the world had ever seen. Of the Saracens there were 400,000 men, besides women and children who came with them, designing to settle in France, and no doubt to extirpate Christianity from Europe. Three hundred and seventy thousand of them are said to have been slain, including their General. This battle was fought by Charles Martel, the grandfather of Charlemagne, in 734, and put a stop to the progress of the Saracen arms in Europe. About 762, after the “five months” of years which were given them to continue bad elapsed, they ceased to extend their conquests by settling peaceably in the countries which they had conquered, and so ceased to ravage as locusts.
The description given of these locusts (ver. 7-10.) answers to most of the peculiarities of the Saracen armies ; as their use of cavalry; their turbans, resembling crowns, in which they gloried ; the union of fierceness and effeminacy in their character ; the impenetrability of their forces; the rapidity of their conquests ; and their carrying with them the sting of a deadly imposture.
Finally, This fearful army is described as baving a king over them, even the angel of the bottomless pit,” from whence they came, and whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek, Apollyon." This would seem to be Mahomet and his successors, or Satan as working by them. The genius of Mahometanism is to destroy the lives as well as the souls of men.
After this we are told, “One woe is past : and behold there come two woes more hereafter." By the term “ hereafter,"