« PreviousContinue »
away like cattle. Alaric then turned his arms upon Italy, and passed over Pannonia, Istria, and Venice; and after a third attempt took and sacked Rome itself ; and then marched into the southern provinces of Italy, where he settled; but which in the year 414 his successor evacuated, and passed over into Gaul.
In the mean time another army of barbariansthe Vandals, Suevi, and Burgundians—from the cold regions of the North, burst upon the banks of the Upper Danube, and likewise passed into Italy, besieged Florence, and threatened Rome. Being stopped in this quarter, they passed the Rhine and invaded GAUL: and “this memorable passage,” says Gibbon, “may be considered as the fall of the Roman Empire in the countries beyond the Alps ; and the barriers which had so long separated the savage and civilized nations of the earth, may be considered from that fatal moment levelled with the ground.” After spreading dreadful ravages throughout this country, they, in the year 409, entered Spain, where “at length,” says the above historian, “satiated with carnage and rapine, and afflicted by the contagious evils which they themselves had introduced, they fixed their PERMANENT seats in the depopulated country.”
“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 second great epoch in the destruction of the empire, was when the Huns, in the year 433, under their powerful and renowned monarch ATTILA, who was emphatically called “the Scourge of God,” were cast upon it, and with savage ferocity followed the steps of the former invaders. “They first wasted Thrace, Macedon, and Greece, putting all to fire and sword.” “The whole breadth of Europe, as it extends five hundred miles from the Euxine to the Hadriatic, was at once invaded, and desolated, by the myriads of barbarians whom Attila led into the field.” “Words the most expressive of total extirpation and erasure, are applied to the calamities which they inflicted on the SEVENTY CITIES of the Eastern Empire.” In the year 450 he invaded Gaul, which he ravaged with savage barbarity. After which he turned his arms towards Italy, took and destroyed AQUILEIA, and that so completely, that thesucceeding generation could scarcely discover its ruins. victorious barbarian pursued his march : and as he passed, the cities of Altinum, Concordia, and Padua were reduced to heaps of stones and ashes. The inland towns, Vicenza, Verona, and Bergamo, were exposed to the rapacious cruelty of the Huns: the rich plains of modern Lombardy were laid waste: and the ferocious Attila boasted that the grass never grew on the spot where his horse had trod.” And all the places between the Alps and Apennines were filled “with flight, depopulation, slaughter, servitude, burning, and desperation.” He “alternately insulted and invaded,”
says Gibbon," the East and the West, and urged the rapid downfall of the Roman Empire.”
Thus was a “burning mountain," or kingdom, cast into the "sea," or that part of the Roman world which had been placed in a state of the most violent agitation and disorder by the preceding trumpet. A third part of it thus became again drenched with blood : a third part of the inhabitants died : and the third part of THE CITIES—the emporiums, or means of trade and commerce, as "ships” are to the literal seawere destroyed. But the beauty and significancy of this application of the symbols of this trumpet admit of a still finer illustration. A burning mountain cast into the sea, whatever mischief it might do during the period it was on fire, would in time be ertinguished. And this was the case in a remarkable manner with the kingdom of the Huns. In the first place, Attila himself was suddenly and prematurely seized by the hand of death, as he was meditating a march to Rome, from which purpose he had been diverted the previous year; and in the next place, the Huns, after the loss of their leader, returned without the bounds of the empire, and, unlike the other barbarous nations, although they had left such deep and permament traces of their inroad, never had a fixed settlement within it: it is the language of Gibbon, speaking of the fate of this people, "and finally extinguished the empire of the Huns.”
" And the third trumpet 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 waters; and the name of the star is called Wormwood : and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters,
because they were bitter.” The next great name that appears in the destruction of the Roman Empire, is that of the formidable GENSERIC; and it is a name that is classed by Gibbon, as being of equal rank, with that of Alaric and Attila! He is termed a “star fallen from heaven;" which means an individual having an ecclesiastical character, fallen from the political firmament: for where stars are placed must be the firmament, or “heaven;" and therefore, in symbolical language, the political universe is “heaven,” as was explained under the seventh seal.
Now this interpretation will strictly apply to Genseric, who did not, like Alaric and Attila, fall from beyond the bounds of the empire, but he succeeded his brother Gonderic, as King of the Vandals in Spain, where, as has been already noticed, this people settled under the first trumpet: he therefore fell from the political firmament of the empire. And he may deserve the appellation of a “star,” or “angel of a church” (Rev. i. 20), inasmuch as he was the propagator and champion of the Arian heresy, and the ruler in ecclesiastical affairs wherever his conquests extended. In this respect his fiery and desolating course is, with strict regard to symbolical language, designated by the words “ burning as it were a LAMP;” for his name stands in dreadful pre-eminence, not merely as a destroyer of nations, but as a ruthless and savage PERSECUTOR of the Lord's people. Gibbon says, “the cruel and absurd enterprize of subduing the MINDS of a whole people, was undertaken by the Vandals ALONE. Genseric himself, in his early youth, had renounced the orthodox communion; and the APOSTATE could neither grant nor expect a sincere forgiveness. He was exasperated to find that the Africans, who had fled before him in the field, still presumed to dispute his will in the synods and churches ; and his ferocious mind was incapable of fear, or of compassion. His catholic subjects were oppressed by intolerant laws and arbitrary