« PreviousContinue »
Upper Danube." These barbarians were the Vandals, the Suevi, and the Burgundians, and the Alani. These nations never afterwards retreated, but seized upon the provinces beyond the Alps. Again, the language of the historian is illustrative of the prophecy:-"While the peace of Germany was secured, the banks of the Rhine. were crowned, like, those of the Tyber, with elegant houses and well cultivated farms." "This scene of peace and plenty was suddenly changed into a desert, and the prospect of the smoking ruins could alone distinguish the solitude of nature from the desolation of man." "The consuming flames of war spread from the banks of the Rhine over the greatest part of the seventeen provinces of Gaul: that rich and extensive country, as far as the ocean, the Alps, and the Pyrenees, was delivered to the barbarians."
To complete the history of this dreadful calamity: Alaric meditates the conquest of the ancient mistress of the world. His insulting reply, on one occasion, is very strikingly illustrative of his commission: "The thicker the hay, the easier to be mowed." He three times besieges Rome, and the third time it is sacked by his army, August 24th, 410. "At the hour of midnight, the Salarian gate was silently opened by the slaves, and the - inhabitants were awakened by the tremendous sound of the Gothic trumpet. Eleven hundred and sixty-three years after the foundation of Rome, the imperial city, which had subdued and civilized so considerable a portion of mankind, was delivered to the licentious fury of the tribes of Germany and Scythia."
For four years" they reign, without control, over a country which, in the opinion of the ancients, had united all the excellencies of nature and art." Each soldier
claimed an ample share of the substantial plenty, the corn and cattle, oil and wine, that was daily collected and consumed in the Gothic camps; and the principal warriors insulted the villas and gardens once inhabited by Lucullus and Cicero, along the beauteous coast of Campania."
The Second Trumpet.
THE infidel and sometime scoffing historian must still be our guide; like an intelligent peasant of the country, whom the invading enemy have seized, and are compelling to go with them to point out the roads and passes, and to explain to them the face of the country: so must we avail ourselves of the superior historical knowledge of the author of the Decline, and what he calls "the Fall of the Roman Empire," most unwilling as he would have been to illustrate Scripture prophecies. I believe, indeed, that I owe it entirely to Gibbon that I can satisfactorily make out the two following trumpets.
Chap. vii. 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; 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."
The next great calamity which befell the Roman world, the naval victories of Genseric, will explain, by its events, the symbols of this prophecy. The Vandals had prevailed over the other barbarians, and over the last efforts of the Roman power in Spain.
Carthagena became the prey of the ferocious conquerors :" "the vessels they found in the harbour of the latter might easily transport them to the isles of Majorca and Minorca, where the Spanish fugitives, as in a secure recess, had vainly concealed their families and their fortunes the experience of navigation, and, perhaps, the prospect of Africa, encouraged the Vandals." "The terrible GENSERIC" succeeds to their government, (6 a name which, in the destruction of the Roman empire, has deserved an equal rank with the names of ALARIC and ATTILA."
ALARIC, as we have seen, was the leading character symbolized in the first trumpet; and so shall we be able to show, by the guidance of the historian, that ATTILA is the leading character of the third trumpet: and GENSERIC," the monarch of the sea," as Mr. Gibbon calls him, is clearly this "great mountain of fire, or what was like a great mountain of fire, cast into the sea." Gibbon, it is true, first relates, in his history, the adventures of Attila; but it appears, from the comparison of dates, that the desolations of Genseric commenced three or four years before the invasion of Attila, which may sufficiently account for the vision's symbolizing the former before the latter, though the devastations of Genseric extended, in time, beyond the conquests of Attila.
In the year 429, Genseric embarks with fifty thousand The long and narrow tract of land on the coast of the Mediterranean, the Roman province in Africa, is entirely laid waste, and, by that means, the internal prosperity of Rome, which depended on these provinces
* Page 280.
for a supply of corn, "irretrievably destroyed." Vandals and Alani, who followed the successful standard of Genseric, had acquired a rieh and fertile territory, which stretched along the coast above ninety days' journey from Tangier to Tripoli; but their narrow limits were' pressed and confined on either side by the sandy desert and the Mediterranean." "He cast his eyes towards the sea, resolved to create a naval power." "His new subjects were skilled in the arts of navigation and ship-building; he animated his daring Vandals to embrace a mode of warfare which would render every maritime country accessible to their arms." "The fleets which issued from the ports of Carthage, again claimed the empire of the Mediterranean."
They conquer Sicily," "infest the coast of Italy:" Genseric, with a numerous fleet, casts anchor at the mouths of the Tiber:" "Rome and its inhabitants are delivered up to the licentiousness of the Vandals and Moors, whose blind passions revenge the injuries of Carthage. The pillage lasted fourteen days and nights, and all that yet remained of public or of private wealth, of sacred or profane treasure, was diligently conveyed to the vessels of Genseric. Many thousand Romans of both sexes, chosen for some useful or agreeable qualification, reluctantly embarked on board the fleet of Genseric, and their distress was aggravated by the unfeeling barbarians, who, in the division of booty, separated the wives from their husbands, and the children from their parents."
In the following years, we find them making continual inroads on "the long extended shores of Italy." They surprise three hundred large vessels in the bay of Carthagena. These depredations continue till the year 461.
"In the spring of each year, they equipped a formidable navy in the port of Carthage, and Genseric himself, though in very advanced age, still commanded in person the most important expeditions. His designs were concealed with the most impenetrable secresy, till the moment that he hoisted sail. When he was asked by the pilot, what course he should steer, Leave the determination to the winds, replied the pious barbarian, they will transport us to the guilty coast, whose inhabitants have provoked the divine justice." The historian informs us they always embarked a sufficient number of horses, and, on the moment of their landing, swept the dismayed country with a body of light cavalry. An expedition sent out by the eastern empire, consisting of one thousand one hundred and thirteen ships, manned by one hundred thousand men, the expense of which was calculated at £5,200,000 sterling, is entirely destroyed in opposing him: and our historian adds, "After the failure of this great expedition, Genseric became again the tyrant of the seas."
The Third Trumpet.
Chap. vii. 13. "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 water; and the name of the star is called Wormwood: and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter."
A STAR, for a teacher or spiritual leader of mankind, may be considered as a standing emblem in prophetical