« ZurückWeiter »
We here enter on the sixth, or second woe-trumpet, which, embracing different cotemporary events, may be expected to require several discourses. That part of it which we are now upon contains a description of the revival of the Mahometan desolatious by the Turks, in the thirteenth and following centuries. It will be recollected that the second woe was not to come quickly, but "hereafter." Such was the fact. Several centuries elapsed be tween the ravages of the Saracens and those of the Turks. But as the desolations wrought by the followers of Mahomet, whether Saracens or Turks, would be less injuricus to the cause of Christ than the abomination of Popery, there is not only much less said of them than of the other, but what is said is finished before the other is particularly begun, that the thread of the principal subject might not be broken. There is no reason to think that the Turkish wars would have occupied a place in scripture prophecy, but for their being the appointed means of crushing a corrupt part of the Christian church. For these reasons I question the propriety of calling the Mahometan power the eastern antichrist. There is no doubt of its being opposed to Christ, and the same may be said of Heathenism but nothing is called antichrist in the scriptures which makes no profession of being on the side of Christ. If there were an eastern antichrist, it was that community which the Mahometans destroyed, namely, "the men who had not the seal of God in their foreheads."
The leading facts corresponding with this part of the prophecy were as follows.-The Turks, a people who in the ninth century had migrated from the neighbourhood of Mount Caucasus, and settled in Armenia Major, by the eleventh century became formidable to their neighbours. They consisted of four Sultanies, the seats of which were at Bagdad, Damascus, Aleppo, and Iconium ; all in the neighbourhood of the Euphrates. Their principal struggles were with the eastern Roman empire, or the Christians of the Greek church. For about two centuries their ambition was restrained, partly it may be by the European crusades, or what were called the holy wars, for the recovery of Jerusalem: but the disasters which attended these undertakings induced the European princes at length to relinquish them; they were then at liberty to
pursue their objects. In 1281 they obtained a decided victory over the eastern Christians; and in 1299 a new empire was founded by Othman, composed of the four Turkish Sultanies, which still subsists, and is called after his name, the Ottoman empire. During the fourteenth century their successes continued. In the middle of the fifteenth, (1453,) Constantinople was taken, the eastern Roman empire fell, and with it the Greek church, neither of which, except in the religion of the latter being embraced by the Russians, has since lifted up its head.
The "four angels" then denote the four Turkish governments near the Euphrates. These are called angels, as being messengers of wrath, commissioned to destroy the corrupt Christians of the East. The "loosing of them refers to the removal of those obstructions which for a time impeded their progress. The "voice” which ordered them to be loosed proceeding from the "four horns of the golden altar," signifies that these judgments, like those in Chap. viii. 3-5., would be in answer to the prayers of the saints: or, perhaps, as Bp. Newton says, " intimating that the sins of men must have been very great, when the altar, which was their sanctuary and protection, called aloud for vengeance.', Their continuance "for an hour, and a day, and a month, and year," reckoning by prophetic time, includes 391 years; which beginning from 1281, the year of their first victory over the eastern Roman empire, extends to 1672, the year of their last victory over the Poles; from which period they have been sinking into such disorder and imbecility as to forebode their ruin. Their armies being described as "horsemen," answers to the numerous cavalry of the Turks. The number of them, consisting of “myriads of myriads," shows the vast armies which they brought into the field." Breastplates of fire, of jacinth, and of brimstone," may denote the glittering harness with which the horses were caparisoned. Their "heads being as the heads of lions," is expressive of their strength and fierceness. "Fire, and smoke, and brimstone, issuing out of their mouths," seems to allude to the use of gunpowder in war, which began about this period. Great guns were used in the taking of Constantinople in 1453. The symbol is expressive of what a body of horsemen, fighting VOL. VI.
with fire-arms, would appear to a distant spectator, who had never before seen or heard of any thing of the kind.
There is one remarkable difference between the locusts and the horsemen the former were not commissioned to kill, but merely to torment; whereas of the latter it is said, "By these were the third part of men killed, even by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone which issued out of their mouths." They both, doubtless, killed men as individuals; but the latter only were permitted to kill those political bodies to which the prophecy refers. The eastern Roman empire, and the Greek church as connected with it, fell not by the Saracens of the eighth, but by the Turks of the fifteenth century. Finally, Their << power was in their mouth, and in their tails." Now as the fire, and smoke, and brimstone, are said to issue from the former, they would seem to denote their artillery ; and as in respect of the latter they resemble the locusts, these are the destructive principles which they propagate by the sword in common with the Saracens. Mahometanism was that to the Christian church in the east, which Assyria and Babylon were to Samaria and Jerusalem. Its first appearance in the seventh and eighth centuries was a judgment upon them for having corrupted the Christian doctrine and worship; but as a body it went only to "torment" them, not to "kill" them. It said, Repent, or I will remove thy candlestick out of his place! But they repented not. Its last appearance, therefore, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, carried the threatening into execution. The candlestick of the eastern church was removed, and her children were killed with death!
But that which is the most remarkable is the effect, or rather, the want of effect which these terrible judgments had on those, who survived them. "The rest of the men, (that is of the men who had not the seal of God in their foreheads,) who were not killed by these plagues, repented not." As those that were killed were the eastern Roman empire, with the Greek church as connected with it; so those that were not killed were the western Roman empire, with the Latin church. These two churches were as Aholah and Aholibah. The fall of the one ought to have been a warning to the other: but it was not. They persisted in their
image-worship, which was only the old idolatry of the Pagans under a new form: nor were they behind them in their murderous persecutions, their foul impostures, their filthy intrigues, and their fraudulent impositions. And though soon after the overthrow of the Greek church, the Reformation began, yet they reformed not. The Council of Trent, which was called on this occasion, sat eighteen years, and at last left things as they found them. Babylon was not to be healed!