« PreviousContinue »
Thus have we taken a brief view of the progress of the Goths, from their being first driven upon the frontiers of the Roman empire, in the year 376 ; and there appears the most exact conformity with the vision shewn to John.
and the first ungel sounded, (chap. viii. 7.) avid there followed hail, and fire mingled with blood : und they were cast upon the earth; and the third part of the trees were burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. The decorum of the symbol requires that this storm should come from the North ; for that is the region of hail; the Goths were a Northern people, and in that quarter the storm first began to gather: a storm, which did not cease to rage, in a greater or less degree, till the Western empire was de. stroyed. It was hail, and fire mingled with blood. And surely more cruel depredations and slaughters were never known. Sigonius (as translated by Mr. Whiston) speaking of these times, says, “ The year of our Lord 376, “ introduced the first beginning of great and eminent “ calamities, which were felt, first by the Eastern empire, " and then by the Western ; for in this year the Goths, “ and Alans, being driven away by the Huns, penetrated “ into Thrace, and the adjoining provinces, which they “ had attempted a thousand times before, but always “ without success : hence came slaughters, both many “ and very severe ones also ; and whence came almost “ daily mischiets-afterwards, the year of our Lord 400
was the most memorable year that the West ever saw; " because it was the beginning of the irruptions of the • Barbarians, by which irruptions, which grew worse and “ worse, the Western empire was afflicted till it came to “ be utterly destroyed. For there could no instance be
so much as thought of, either of calaınity, of war, or of " barbarous rage, or of a certain madness of lust, which “ did not then come upon the provinces, the cities, the “ fields, and upon men themselves, and that with the
This storm of hail, and fire and blood, was cast upon the earth, without limitation to any particular country; but it was most fatal to one particular part, calied the third part. And we must have observed how extensive the depredations of these Barbarians were ; but most fatal which this trumpet called to fight the battles of Providence, against a. wicked and persecuting.empire; for though they were, certainly, the most remarkable agents, which Providence engloyed, within the district. allotted them, yet others co-operated in the same design.
to the provinces situate on this side the Alps and the Rhine. The third part of the trees were burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. The scene of the Gothic de' predations was by land, and chiefly inland, from Thrace to the Rock of Gibraltar. In the vision there is nothing maritime effected; and the antitype answers to the type.
Trees and grass are terrene productions; and the destruction of the Goths were all of a military kind, in opposition to those effected by naval armaments; and continental, and inland, in opposition to those which lay waste islands and maritime countries. This storm of hail and fore might have destroyed the ships in the sea, and yet the decorum of the symbol have been preserved. But no, only the trees and grass, are affected the most apt einblems of people inhabiting the inland parts. Maritime destructions are reserved for the judgments of the next trumpet.
The irruption of the Vandals, Suevians, and Alans, in the twelfth year of the reign of Honorius, and of the Christian æra 407, appears to have been the second most remarkable calamity which burst upon the Antichristian Roman empire, and which, from this period of its commencement, to the dissolution of the Western part of the empire, A. D. 476, synchronized with the Gothic storin that began to fall, in the East, in the year 376; and which, in the year 400, reached these Western parts, Let us examine whether we can find that perfect agreement between the symbolic description, in the vision, and the records of history, which can justify this interpretation. Read the eighth and ninth verses. 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, ad had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed. This burning mountain, which must siguify some nation, or combination of people, burning with the fury of war, is cast into the sea, indefinitely; as the hail, and fire, and blood, in the former vision, were cast upon the earth, and not into the third part of the sea ; but although this is the case, yet, the third part of the sea only becomes blood ; and only a third part of the creatures in the sea die, and but a third part of the ships are de
* Bishop Newton turns these words, “ The trees of the third part of the earth.”—Trees in the prophetic language signify men of eminence; and grass the coinmon people.
stroyed; that is, though the calamities here signified spread far and wide, yet, they are more decisively fatal to some particular third part of the Roman empire. We shall reserve the consideration of this interesting and curious inquiry, respecting what is to be understood by the third part, mentioned sis times in the course of these visions, till we have taken a view of the events which are supposed to fall under the second trumpet'; only observing that, by the third part here, and that mentioned before, I understand the same third part, namely, the prefecture of the Gauls, which comprehended, under that plural denomination, not only the Gauls, but Spain and Britain. In the vision under the first trumpet, it is to be referred 10 the continental and inland parts of this prafecture; and here, to the insular and maritime parts, Though many respectable commentators have considered the earth and sea, both here, and in chapter the sixteenth, as bearing a more symbolic sense, as though the former signified idolatrous men in a state of peace; and the latter the same men in a state of war; yet the prophets will support me in the sense I have proposed.
What idea does the Prophet Isaiah mean to convey, when he says (chap. xxiv. 1, 4.) Behold the Lord makeih the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scaltercth abroad the inhabitants thercof-the earth mourneth and fadeth away-the haughty people of the earth do languish? The idea of extensive and terrible judgments is doubtless conveyed. And when they predict events relative to the inhabitants of islands, or of foreign ' countries to which they passed by sea, and which con
cerned maritime cities, and people, and their naval affairs,
* Isaiah, lx. 5. + xxiv. 14, 15. | xxiii. 11.
And when Ezekiel is predicting the ruin of the same people, his language is, the princes of the sea shall come down from their thrones.* There is every reason, then, to conclude, that by the sea, both under the second trumpet and the second vial, insular and maritime countries, and naval affairs, are intended. And, as earth and sea stand opposed to each other, under the first and second trumpets, and under the first and second vials, it appears to be with the design of indicating to us, that the objects of the former judgments are, not only extensive, which is one idea conveyed by the earth, but continental and inland; and that those of the latter are maritime.
Let us now attend to the progress of those Barbarians, whose irruption into the Roman empire took place in the year 407, and who are supposed to be the enemy which the trumpet of the second angel called to fight the battles of Providence. The Vandals, and those more immediately united with them, were the most conspicuous instruments employed under this trumpet ; but we must remember that others also appear to have been roused, hy the same signal, to co-operate, though they knew it not, in the same designs against the maritime parts of the Roman empire. Such were the Franks, the Scots, and Picts; the Saxons, and other northern nations.
“ While the peace of Germany,” says Gibbon, “ was “ secured by the attachment of the Franks, and the neu
trality of the Alimani ; the subjects of Romé, uncon“ scious of their approaching calamities, enjoyed a state “ of quiet and prosperity, which had seldom blessed the “ frontiers of Gaul.---This scene of peace and plenty was “ suddenly changed into a desert; and the prospect of
smoking ruins could alone distinguish the solitude of nature from the
solation of man. The flourishing “ city of Mentz was surprised and destroyed, and many " thousand Christians were inhumanly massacred in the “ church. Worms perished after a long and obstinate,
siege; Strasburg, Spires, Rheimes, Tournay, Arras, “ Amiens, experienced the cruel oppression of the Ger“ man yoke ; and the cruel fames 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,
• Ezekiel, xxvi. 16.
“ was delivered to the Barbarians, who drove before them, “in a promiscuous crowd, the bishop, the senator, and " the virgin, laden with the spoils of their houses and “ altars." From Gaul, September 8th, 409, they passed into Spain. The sword, famine, and pestilence, conspired to convert that fruitful and populous country into a desert; especially the maritime parts. Idatius relates, that the country was ravaged, on one side, by the Barbarians; and on the other side by a dreadful plague; and so great was the famine, that many were reduced to feed on human flesh. Parents, pressed by hunger, devoured their own children ; and wild beasts also made dreadful havock of the country people, in the fields and villages. In this state (says Idatius) they continued till the year 411, when heaven inspiring the Barbarians with thoughts of peace, they began to prefer agriculture to war. « Satiated with “carnage and rapine (says Gibbon) and afilicted by the “ contagious evils which they themselves had introduced,
they fixed their permanent seats in the depopulated “ country. The ancient Gallicia, whose limits included “ the kingdom of Old Castile, was divided between the
« Suevi and the Vandals; the Alans were scattered over " the provinces of Carthagena, and Lusitania, from the “ Mediterranean to the Atlantic ocean ; and the fruitful “ territory of Bætica was allotted to the Silingi, another “ branch of the Vandalic nation.” *
And what was passing in Britain during these ravages and destructions of the continent? For if the calamities of this trumpet are especially directed against the mari. time provinces of Rome, it is to be expected that that island experienced extraordinary evils. Yes, the Britons also dated the commencement of that series of calamities which ruined their country, and ended in their subjection to the Saxons, from the year 407. The Scots and Picts had, for some time, been troublesome neighbours to the inhabitants of the Roman province in this island; but hitherto the vigilance of the Roman arm had successfully guarded them. “But those restless Barbarians could not s neglect the fair opportunity of the Gothic war, when " the walls and stations of the province were stripped of " the Roman troops.” + Constantine, who, from a com
* See Gibbon, Vol. V. page 350_355, and Univer. Anc. Hist, Vol. XVII. page 227-230.
+ Gibbon, Vol. V. p. 228.