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calamities as would make them weary of their life. Thus, though the Saracens greatly harassed and tormented the Greek and Latin churches, they did not utterly extirpate the one or the other. They besieged also Constantinople, and plundered Rome, but did not make themselves masters of the one city or the other. Bp, Newton.
but that they should be tormented five months :] Evidently alluding to the time, during which natural locusts commit their devastations, and after which they die. They are hatched, as Bochart observes, about the spring, and die at the latter end of summer, thus living about five months. Lowman.
It is again mentioned at ver. 10, that “their power was to hurt men five months." If these months be taken for natural months in the interpretation of the prophecy, then the meaning is, that the Saracens, after the manner of locusts, made their excursions during the five summer months, and retreated in the winter. And it appears from history that this was their usual practice: in particular it is related, that at the siege of Constantinople they always retreated at the approach of winter, and renewed their attacks during the summer months, for seven successive years. But if, as seems more probable, and as accords with the prophetic style, these months designate each a space
of thirty prophetic days or years, then the whole period denoted is one hundred and fifty years. And accordingly we shall find, that, though the empire of the Saracens had a longer duration, yet within that period they made their principal conquests, and their power of “ tormenting men was chiefly exerted. It appears from their history, that their greatest conquests were made from the year 612, when Mahomet first began to propagate his imposture, to the year 762, when the caliph Almansor built Bagdad, to fix there the seat of his empire. Syria, Persia, India, and the greatest part of Asia, Egypt, and the greatest part of Africa, Spain, and some parts of Europe, were subdued within that period : but when the caliphs fixed their habitation at Bagdad, then their armies ceased from ravaging like locusts, and they assumed more the character of a settled nation. Bp. Newton.
-- as the torment of a scorpion,] The sting of a scorpion, “when he striketh a man, is severe, at tended with inflammation and violent pain. Lowman.
6. - shall men seek death,] That is, so great shall be the calamities of those times, that men shall be tired of life. Jos. Mede.
7. And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses] In the following verses, the nature and qualities of locusts are described, partly in allusion to the properties of natural locusts, and the description given of them by the prophet Joel, (see Joel ii. 1, &c. and the notes there,) and partly in allusion to the habits and manners of the Arabians. Many authors have observed, that the head of a locust resembles that of a horse; whence the Italians call them cavalette, or little horses. And the Arabians have in all ages been famous for their horses and horsemanship; it being well known that their strength consists chiefly in their cavalry. Bp. Newton.
on their heads were as it were crowns like gold.] Alluding to the head-dress of the Arabians, who constantly wore turbans or mitres. Bp. Newton. The “ crowns of gold” may also signify the success and extent of their dominion ; for there never was a nation which extended its power so widely, or in so short a space of time reduced beneath its yoke so many countries and kingdoms. Jos. Mede.
7, 8. -- faces were as the faces of men. And — hair, &c.] The Arabians wore their beards, or at least their mustachios, like men, while the hair of their heads was flowing and plaited like that of women. Bp. Neuton.
8. as the teeth of lions.] That is, strong to devour, Joel i. 6. Jos. Mede.
9. — breastplates, as — of iron ;] Locusts have a hard shell or skin, which has often been called their armour. This figure is designed to express the defensive, as the former was the offensive arms of the Saracens. Bp. Newton.
and the sound of their wings, &c.] Hereby signifying the rapidity of their conquests. Pyle. Natural locusts fly with so great a noise of their wings, that they may be taken for birds. Bp. Newton.
10. And they had tails like unto scorpions.] They are thrice compared to “scorpions,” ver. 3, 5, 10; and had stings in their tails, &c." that is, wherever they carried their arms, there they distilled the venom of a false religion. Bp. Newton.
11. And they had a king over them.] Although the natural locusts have no king, (see the observation of Agur, Prov. xxx. 27,) yet these figurative locusts have one, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, that evil spirit, the prince of the power of darkness, who, from the constant evils he is designing and doing in the world, is called “ the destroyer.” Low
Abaddon, - Apollyon, &c.] The one name in Hebrew, the other in Greek, means “ the destroyer." Mr. Mede imagines that here is some allusion to the name of Obodas, the common title of the kings of that part of Arabia, from which Mahomet came, as Pharaoh was the common name of the kings of Egypt, and Cesar of the emperours of Rome; and such allusions are not unusual in the style of Scripture. Bp. Newton.
The selection of these notes, taken from the followers of Mede, is judicious, and shows their tenets to the best advantage. The application of the “ fallen star” to Mahomet, by Daubuz, Bishop Newton, and others, is not admitted. Indeed, Mede himself had not adopted it, but on the contrary affirmed, in very strong language, that this star is no other than ipsissimus Draco et Satanas, (Clavis, pars ii. syn. iv.) As to these symbolical locusts, whatever they represent, whether hosts of armed men, or swarms of heretical teachers, they are clearly restricted in ver. 4, from hurting any thing or person, “ but only those men who have not the seal of God on their foreheads,” that is, as Bishop Newton properly states, the corrupt Christians. But did the armies of Mahomet fulfil this commission? or was it possible, that without a constant interposition of divine miracles they could fulfil it ? Were there no true servants of God in the vast and populous Christian countries which these terrible depredators overran with such relentless violence ? and if there were such, how and when did they escape the severe inflictions which all others underwent in their persons, their property, their religion ?1 Can it be true, as is said to accommodate this supposed event to the prophecy, that the sealed were the inhabitants of those parts of the Christian world where the Saracen forces never entered, the unsealed those which were subdued by them? On the contrary, it is well known and acknowledged, that the Europeans, who escaped this devastation, were very little, if at all, superior in knowledge and purity to the Asiatics, and Africans who sunk under it; and that, at this very time, they were so debased in ignorance and superstition as to become an easy prey to the papal domination, then beginning its corrupt and tyrannical career. The truth is, that the sealed are to be found in all Christian countries, mingled with the unsealed; and the invasion which could hurt the one, and not the other, may be understood to be that of an universally extending heresy, but not that of an hostile army. The good Christian, stedfast in the primitive faith, would not be hurt by heretical teachers ; but how could he escape from the Saracene sword ?
1 Observe our Lord's injunction, formed upon this supposition, that, according to the settled economy of this world, the good and the bad, in the time of general invasion, are inseparable, and must fall together: “Nay, lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.”—Matth. xiii. 29.
Farther, we may ask, whether it is shown, or indeed how it can be shown, that the nominal Christians, who underwent the rigours of the Saracene invasions and domination during one hundred and fifty years, did “ seek for death, and desire to die,” without being able to attain it. This is surmised by Mede and his followers, who have concluded that such must have been the consequence of their immense sufferings. But if this be all, there is in this no particular or appropriate evidence which may seem to warrant the divine prediction, as applied to this case only, for such may be equally the case under all such sufferings. In a spiritual sense indeed they might wish to die, that is, to be dead to a sense of the religion which they had professed, and wishing to adopt the Mahometan tenets, which they knew to be false, in order to enjoy the privileges attached to them. But this is not the sense in which this part of the prediction has been hitherto applied. Moreover, in respect to this period of one hundred and fifty years, it cannot be shown, nor has there been any attempt to show, that the Saracene conquests and spoliations were confined to this space of time. It is only asserted that their “ principal conquests