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iii. 9; and the few ancient records of those early times, which have come down to us, show its continuance afterwards, (Mosheim's Eccl. Hist. cent. 1. ch. v.) On this passage Vitringa has observed, that in chap. ix. 4, the scorpion-locusts are commanded “ not to hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing nor tree, but only the men who have not the seal of God on their foreheads;" whence he concludes, that the storm falling here upon the grass, &c. falls upon the Christians; which agrees with this exposition of the prophecy.

Ver. 8, 9. And the second angel sounded, &c.] At the sound of the second trumpet, the hostile invasion of the Anti-Christian powers falls upon the sea. Under this name, or that of the Isles of the Sea, or Isles of the Gentiles, the nations beyond the pale of the Jewish Church are frequently represented, (Gen. x. 5; Isa. xxiv. 14, 15; lx. 5, 9; xlii. 4, compared with Matth. xii. 21; Ezek. xxvi. 15, 16, &c.) Upon the Christians in these nations,—the Gentile converts, the hostile attack descends under the symbol of “a great mountain burning with fire.” A mountain in prophetic language signifies an high and eminent seat of power, civil or religious. From the Mountain Sinai the law was proclaimed, and it was the seat of the God and King of Israel. On Mount Sion afterwards stood his temple. And the increasing kingdom of Christ is described as a mountain filling the whole earth, (Isa. xxv. 6; Dan. ix. 16; ii. 35, 44.) And the worldly powers, opposed to God and his people, had their seat and worship on “the tops of the mountains, on every high hill.” In such figurative language the Christian religion is called Mount Sion; and contrasted with the Jewish law, called Mount Sinai, (Heb. xii.


18, &c.) In this metaphorical sense, Babylon, that eminent seat of power and idolatry, hostile to true religion, is by the prophets addressed as a mountain, although its situation was low, upon the river Euphrates, and surrounded by an extensive plain. “ Behold, I am against thee, o destroying mountain; I will stretch out my hand upon thee, and roll thee down from the rocks." To which is added, “ I will make thee a burnt mountain ;” which words appear to be spoken prophetically of the utter destruction of Babylon, frequently foretold in other places.

The mountain before us is still burning ; and as Babylon was to the ancient Church, so this, to the Christian Gentiles, is to become formidable and destructive. The effect is blood, upon a third part; and a third part of those that had life (which is, as I conceive, spiritual life in Christ) perishes. For to die, in the figurative language of scripture, is to lose the life which is in Christ, (see Notes, ch. iii. 1, 2.) And “ Howl ye ships of Tarshish,” Isa. xxiii. 1, is addressed to the inhabitants of Tarshish, and not to their ships. Our Lord had foretold, under the same figure, “ fire,” that his religion should be the cause of persecution, contentions, and bloodshed, for the trial of faith under which many should fall away, (Luke xii. 49, 51, &c.; 1 Pet. i. 6,7.)

The Gentile converts were mingled with the heathen idolaters, whose power and corrupt religion was in due time, like Babylon, to become “ a burnt mountain." But the period of its extinction is not yet arrived; it is now burning. So, during the three first centuries, the idolatrous power was consuming away, from the fire inflicted upon it from above, from the altar of true religion in heaven, (ver. 5;) but so long as it continued burning, the persecution by the idolaters raged grievously against the Gentile Churches, and great was the number of the lapsed.

Ver. 10, 1]. And the third angel sounded, &c.] A star, in prophetic language, signifies a prince, or eminent leader,-a leader in doctrine, (Numb. xxiv. 17; Matth. ii. 2; Rev. ii. 28; xxii. 16; i. 16.) Such an one falling from heaven, as did Satan, (Luke x. 18; 2 Pet. ii. 4; Jude 6; and Rev. xii. 4; ix. 1-12; where Satan and his fallen angels appear under this symbol,) corrupts the third part of the rivers and fountains of waters; that is, corrupts the streams and sources of pure doctrine, which are expressed by our Lord under the same metaphor, (John iv. 10, &c.; vii. 37–39.) The corruption of pure doctrine and introduction of heretical tenets are commonly attributed in scripture to Satan and his angels, (Matth. xiii. 29 ; 2 Cor. xi. 14, 15; Eph. ii. 2 ; 2 Thess. ii. 9; 1 Tim. v. 15;) and the corrupting doctrine, producing heresies, is expressed by the metaphors, wormwood, gall, bitterness, (Deut. xxix. 18; Amos v. 7 ; vi. 12; Acts viii. 23 ;) and the death here described is spiritual. (See note, chap. iii. 1.)

Under this trumpet therefore we seem to obtain a general description of those corruptions, which, at the instigation of Satan, were seen to invade and subvert a great part of the Christian Church by the preaching of splendid heretics. Such in the early times were Simon, Menander, Cerinthus, &c.

Ver. 12. And the fourth angel sounded, &c.] At the sound of the fourth trumpet, the same kind of stroke which had invaded the three preceding divisions of the creation, falls on the fourth part remaining, on the heavenly luminaries, the sun, moon, and

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stars; a third part of these is smitten, and ceases to give light. When the Almighty took the children of Israel to be his peculiar people, he is said, in prophetic language, to “have planted the heavens, and laid the foundation of the earth,” (Isa. li. 16.) It was a kind of new creation. Happiness was thereby founded for man on a new basis, and under new lights, unknown to the heathen. The divine ordinances of theocracy, under which that peculiar people flourished, are frequently expressed under the sublime images of the heavenly luminaries. So, when the darkening or removal of these are announced in prophecy, it is understood, that this divine polity shall fail, (Amos viii. 9, &c. ; Matth. xxiv. 29.) But when the Jewish polity, expressed under the image of the sun and moon, is “ ashamed and confounded," the superior splendour of the Christian light shines forth under the same symbols. The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold,” (Isa. xxiv. 23; xxx. 26.) There is frequent allusion to this mode of expression in the apostolic writers, (Col. i. 12, 13; 2 Cor. iv. 6; 1 Thess. v. 4, &c.; James i. 17; 1 Pet. ii. 9; 1 John i. 5.) So that a third of the light taken from the heavenly luminaries implies a great failure in that invaluable light derived from the Christian revelation. The reign of darkness, ignorance, and superstition, did indeed return, after the light of the Gospel had been revealed; the more particular history of which will be unfolded in the following trumpets. The prophecy of the fourth trumpet, as of the three preceding, is only general. It follows the others in natural order, and is indeed the effect of the third. Corruption of knowledge necessarily produces ignorance; the corruption of Christianity produced Gothic darkness and superstition.

Thus I have supposed the four first trumpets to afford a general view of the WARFARE which the Christian religion underwent soon after its first establishment. The history delivered under the seals, after a solemn pause and silence, begins again, but with a different object in view. Under the seals, the gradual degeneracy of the Church is depicted; under the trumpets, the attacks which she had to sustain from her antichristian foes. And she is represented as undergoing various kinds of assault in her several divisions; these divisions of the Christian world, bearing analogy to the divisions, as they appear in scripture, of the natural world. 1. The storm of persecution in Judæa, which murdering the martyrs, and dispersing the preachers of the Gospel, is aptly represented by “hail and fire mingled with blood;" on the bursting forth of which the weak in faith fall away.

2. The Gentile persecution, arising from the Pagan religion, which is designated by a burning mountain. 3. The corruption of the waters of life by the early heretics and injudicious teachers. 4. The consequent failure in part of that bright and glorious light which beamed originally from the Christian revelation.

The information obtained from this exposition may be deemed scanty, when compared with the fruit of other interpreters.

But I cannot venture upon particular illustrations, when the symbols are of so general a character, and so shortly expressed.

The commentators who have taken a very different course, in the development of the four first trumpets, and who look to the history of the declining Roman empire for their fulfilment, are by no means agreed as to the manner of that fulfilment: nor is this a matter of wonder, when we consider, that symbols of so general a character, and so shortly expressed, will admit of a vast latitude of

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