We name as the subject of this chapter the seven trumpets, as these constitute the main theme of the chapter, although there are other matters introduced before the opening of that series of events. The first verse of this chapter relates to the events of the preceding chapters, and therefore should not have been separated from them by the division of the chapter. p. 452, Para. 2.
VERSE 1. And when he had opened the seventh seal, there
was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. p.
452, Para. 3.
The series of seven seals is here resumed and concluded. The sixth chapter closed with the events of the sixth seal, and the eighth commences with the opening of the seventh seal; hence the seventh chapter stands parenthetically between the sixth and seventh seals, from which it appears that the sealing work of that chapter belongs to the sixth seal. p. 452, Para. 4.
Silence in Heaven. -- Concerning the cause of this silence, only conjecture can be offered, -- a conjecture, however, which is supported by the events of the sixth seal. That seal does not bring us to the second advent, although it embraces events that transpire in close connection therewith. It introduces the fearful commotions of the elements, described as the rolling of the heavens together as a scroll, caused by the voice of God, the breaking up of the surface of the earth, and the confession on the part of the wicked that the great day of God's wrath is come. They are doubtless in momentary expectation of seeing the King appear in, to them, unendurable glory. But the seal stops just short of that event. The personal appearing of Christ must therefore be allotted to the next seal. But when the Lord appears, he comes with all the holy angels with him. Matt. 25:31. And when all the heavenly harpers leave the courts above to come down with their divine Lord, as he descends to gather the fruit of his redeeming work, will there not be silence in heaven? p. 452, Para. 5.
The length of this period of silence, if we consider it prophetic time, would be about seven days. p. 453, Para. 1.
VERSE 2. And I saw the seven angels which stood before
God; and to them were given seven trumpets. p. 453, Para.
This verse introduces a new and distinct series of events. In the seals we have had the history of the church during what is called the gospel dispensation. In the seven trumpets, now introduced, we have the principal political and warlike events which were to transpire during the same time. p. 453, Para. 3.
VERSE 3. And another angel came and stood at the altar,
having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much
incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all
saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
4. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the
prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the
angel's hand. 5. And the angel took the censer, and filled
it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth; and
there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an
earthquake. p. 453, Para. 4.
Having as it were, in verse 2, brought out the seven angels, and introduced them before us upon the stage of action, John, for a moment, in the three verses last quoted, directs attention to an entirely different scene. The angel which approaches the altar is not one of the seven trumpet angels. The altar is the altar of incense, which, in the earthly sanctuary, was placed in the first apartment. Here, then, is another proof that there exists in heaven a sanctuary with its corresponding vessels of service, of which the earthly was a figure, and that we are taken into that sanctuary by the visions of John, A work of ministration for all the saints in the sanctuary above is thus brought to view. Doubtless the entire work of mediation for the people of God during the gospel dispensation is here presented. This is apparent from the fact that the angel offers his incense with the prayers of all saints. And that we are here carried forward to the end, is evident from the act of the angel in filling the censer with fire and casting it unto the earth; for his work is then done; no more prayers are to be offered up mingled with incense; and this symbolic act can have its application only at the time when the ministration of Christ in the sanctuary in behalf of mankind has forever ceased. And following the angel's act are voices, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake -- exactly such occurrences as we are elsewhere informed transpire at the close of human probation. [See Rev. 11:19; 16:17, 18.] p. 453, Para. 5.
But why are these verses thus thrown in here? Answer: As a message of hope and comfort for the church. The seven angels with their warlike trumpets had been introduced; terrible scenes were to transpire under their sounding; but before they commence, the people of God are pointed to the work of mediation in their behalf above, and their source of help and strength during this time. Though they should be tossed like feathers upon the tumultuous waves of strife and war, they were to know that their great High Priest still ministered for them in the sanctuary in heaven, and that thither they could direct their prayers, and have them offered, with incense, to their Father in heaven. Thus could they gain strength and support in all their calamities. p. 454, Para. 1.
VERSE 6. And the seven angels which had the seven
trumpets prepared themselves to sound. p. 454, Para. 2.
The subject of the seven trumpets is here resumed, and occupies the remainder of this chapter and all of chapter 9. The seven angels prepare themselves to sound. Their sounding comes in as a complement to the prophecy of Daniel 2 and 7, commencing with the breaking up of the old Roman empire into its ten divisions, of which, in the first four trumpets, we have a description. p. 454, Para. 3.
VERSE 7. The first angel sounded, and there followed hail
and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the
earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all
green grass was burnt up. p. 455, Para. 1.
A full exposition of the seven trumpets is given in a work entitled, An Exposition of the Seven Trumpets of Revelation VIII and IX, published by the Signs Publishing Company, Ltd., Warburton, Victoria, Australia, to which the reader is referred for a more extended examination of the subject. To that work we are chiefly indebted for the extracts given below. p. 455, Para. 2.
Mr. Keith has very justly remarked on the subject of this prophecy:-- p. 455, Para. 3.
None could elucidate the texts more clearly, or expound
them more fully, than the task has been performed by
Gibbon. The chapters of the skeptical philosopher that
treat directly of the matter, need but a text to be
prefixed, and a few unholy words to be blotted out, to form
a series of expository lectures on the eighth and ninth
chapters of Revelation.
Little or nothing is left for the
professed interpreter to do but to point to the pages of
Gibbon. p. 455, Para. 4.
The first sore and heavy judgment which fell on Western Rome in its downward course, was the war with the Goths under Alaric, who opened the way for later inroads. The death of Theodosius, the Roman emperor, occurred in January, 395, and before the end of the winter the Goths under Alaric were in arms against the empire. p. 455, Para. 5.
Hail and fire mingled with blood were cast upon the
earth. The terrible effects of this Gothic invasion are
hail, from the fact of the northern origin
of the invaders;
fire, from the destruction by flame of
both city and country; and
blood, from the terrible
slaughter of the citizens of the empire by the bold and
intrepid warriors. p. 455, Para. 6.
The blast of the first trumpet has its location about the close of the fourth century and onward, and refers to these desolating invasions of the Roman empire under the Goths. p. 455, Para. 7.
I know not how the history of the sounding of the first trumpet can be more impressively set forth than by presenting the graphic rehearsal of the facts which are stated in Gibbon's History, by Mr. Keith, in his Signs of the Times, Vol. I, pp. 221-233:-- p. 455, Para. 8.
Large extracts show how amply and well Gibbon has
expounded his text in the history of the first trumpet, the
first storm that pervaded the Roman earth, and the first
fall of Rome. To use his words in more direct comment, we
read thus the sum of the matter: 'The Gothic nation was in
arms at the first sound of the trumpet, and in the uncommon
severity of the winter, they rolled their ponderous wagons
over the broad and icy back of the river. The fertile
fields of Phocis and Boeotia were crowded with a deluge of
barbarians,; the males were massacred; the females and
cattle of the flaming villages were driven away. The deep
and bloody traces of the march of the Goths could easily be
discovered after several years. The whole territory of
Attica was blasted by the baneful presence of Alaric. The
most fortunate of the inhabitants of Corinth, Argos, and
Sparta were saved by death from beholding the conflagration
of their cities. In a season of such extreme heat that the
beds of the rivers were dry, Alaric invaded the dominion of
the West. A secluded
p. 456, Para. 1.
old man of Verona, the poet
Claudian, pathetically lamented the fate of his
contemporary trees, which must blaze in the conflagration
of the whole country [note the words of the prophecy, --
The third part of the trees was burned up]; and the
emperor of the Romans fled before the king of the Goths.'
A furious tempest was excited among the nations of
Germany, from the northern extremity of which the
barbarians marched almost to the gates of Rome. They
achieved the destruction of the West. The dark cloud which
was collected along the coasts of the Baltic, burst in
thunder upon the banks of the upper Danube. The pastures of
Gaul, in which flocks and herds grazed, and the banks of
the Rhine, which were covered with elegant houses and well-cultivated
farms, formed a scene of peace and plenty, which
was suddenly changed into a desert, distinguished from the
solitude of nature only by smoking ruins. Many cities were
cruelly oppressed, or destroyed. Many thousands were
inhumanly massacred; and the consuming flames of war spread
over the greater part of the seventeen provinces of Gaul.
p. 456, Para. 2.
Alaric again stretched his ravages over Italy. During
four years the Goths ravaged and reigned over it without
control. And in the pillage and fire of Rome, the streets
of the city were filled with dead bodies; the flames
consumed many public and private buildings; and the ruins
of a palace remained [after a century and a half] a stately
monument of the Gothic conflagration. p. 457, Para. 1.
The concluding sentence of the thirty-third chapter of
Gibbon's History is of itself a clear and comprehensive
commentary; for in winding up his own description of this
brief but most eventful period, he concentrates, as in a
parallel reading, the sum of the history and the substance
of the prediction. But the words which precede it are not
without their meaning: 'The public devotion of the age was
impatient to exalt the saints and martyrs of the Catholic
Church on the altars of Diana and Hercules. The union of
the Roman empire was dissolved; its genius was humbled in
the dust; and armies of unknown barbarians, issuing from
the frozen regions of the North, had established their
victorious reign over the fairest provinces of Europe and
Africa.' p. 457, Para. 2.
The last word, Africa, is the signal for the sounding of
the second trumpet. The scene changes from the shores of
the Baltic to the southern coast of the Mediterranean, or
from the frozen regions of the North to the borders of
burning Africa; and instead of a storm of hail being cast
upon the earth, a burning mountain was cast into the sea.
p. 457, Para. 3.
VERSE 8. 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; 9. 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. p.
457, Para. 4.
The Roman empire, after Constantine, was divided into
three parts; and hence the frequent remark,
a third part
of men, etc., in allusion to the third part of the empire
which was under the scourge. This division of the Roman
kingdom was made at the death of Constantine, among his
three sons, Constantius, Constantine II, and Constans.
Constantius possessed the East, and fixed his residence at
Constantinople, the metropolis of the empire. Constantine
the Second held Britain, Gaul, and Spain. Constans held
Illyricum, Africa, and Italy. [See Sabine's Ecclesiastical
History, p. 155.] Of this well-known historical fact,
Elliott, as quoted by Albert Barnes, in his notes on Rev.
Twice, at least, before the Roman empire
became divided permanently into the two parts, the Eastern
and the Western, there was a tripartite division of the
empire. The first occurred in A.D. 311, when it was divided
between Constantine, Licinius, and Maximin; the other, A.D.
337, on the death of Constantine, Constans and
Constantius. p. 457, Para. 5.
The history illustrative of the sounding of the second
trumpet evidently relates to the invasion and conquest of
Africa, and afterward of Italy, by the terrible Genseric.
His conquests were for the most part NAVAL; and his
as it were a great mountain burning with
fire, cast into the sea. What figure would better, or even
so well, illustrate the collision of navies, and the
general havoc of war on the maritime coasts? In explaining
this trumpet, we are to look for some events which will
have a particular bearing on the commercial world. The
symbol used naturally leads us to look for agitation and
commotion. Nothing but a fierce maritime warfare would
fulfil the prediction. If the sounding of the first four
trumpets relates to four remarkable events which
contributed to the downfall of the Roman empire, and the
first trumpet refers to the ravages of the Goths under
Alaric, in this we naturally look for the next succeeding
act of invasion which shook the Roman power and conduced to
its fall. The next great invasion was that of "the terrible
Genseric," at the head of the Vandals. His career occurred
during the years A.D. 428-468. This great Vandal chief had
his headquarters in Africa. But as Gibbon states,
discovery and conquest of the black nations [in Africa],
that might dwell beneath the torrid zone, could not tempt
the rational ambition of Genseric; but he cast his eyes
TOWARD THE SEA; he resolved to create a naval power, and
his bold resolution was executed with steady and active
perseverance. From the port of Carthage he repeatedly made
piratical sallies, and preyed on the Roman commerce, and
waged war with that empire. To cope with this sea monarch,
the Roman emperor, Majorian, made extensive naval
preparations. Three hundred long galleys, with an adequate
proportion of transports and smaller vessels, were
collected in the secure and capacious harbor of Cartagena,
in Spain. But Genseric was saved from impending and
inevitable ruin by the treachery of some powerful subjects,
envious or apprehensive of their master's success. Guided
by their secret intelligence, he surprised the unguarded
fleet in the bay of Cartagena; many of the ships were sunk,
taken, or burned, and the preparations of three years were
destroyed in a single day. p. 458, Para. 1.
Italy continued to be long afflicted by the incessant depredations of the Vandal pirates. In the spring of each year they equipped a formidable navy in the port of Carthage, and Genseric himself, though at a very advanced age, still commanded in person the most important expeditions. p. 459, Para. 1.
The Vandals repeatedly visited the coasts of Spain, Liguria, Tuscany, Campania, Lucania, Bruttium, Apulia, Calabria, Venetia, Damlatia, Epirus, Greece, and Sicily. p. 459, Para. 2.
The celerity of their motion enabled them, almost at the same time, to threaten and to attack the most distant objects which attracted their desires; and as they always embarked a sufficient number of horses, they had no sooner landed then they swept the dismayed country with a body of light cavalry. p. 459, Para. 3.
A last and desperate attempt to dispossess Genseric of the sovereignty of the seas, was made in the year 468 by Leo, the emperor of the East. Gibbon bears witness to this as follows:-- p. 459, Para. 4.
The whole expense of the African campaign amounted to the
sum of one hundred and thirty thousand pounds of gold, --
about five million two hundred thousand pounds sterling. .
. . The fleet that sailed from Constantinople to Carthage
consisted of eleven hundred and thirteen ships, and the
number of soldiers and mariners exceeded one hundred
thousand men. . . . The army of Heraclius and the fleet of
Marcellinus either joined or seconded the imperial
lieutenant. . . . The wind became favorable to the designs
of Genseric. He manned his largest ships of war with the
bravest of the Moors and Vandals, and they towed after them
many large barks filled with combustible materials. In the
obscurity of the night, these destructive vessels were
impelled against the unguarded and unsuspecting fleet of
the Romans, who were awakened by a sense of their instant
danger. Their close and crowded order assisted the progress
of the fire, which was communicated with rapid and
irresistible violence; and the noise of the wind, the
crackling of the flames, the dissonant cries of the
soldiers and mariners, who could neither command nor obey,
increased the horror of the nocturnal tumult. While they
labored to extricate themselves from the fire-ships, and to
save at least a part of the navy, the galleys of Genseric
assaulted them with temperate and disciplined valor; and
many of the Romans who escaped the fury of the flames, were
destroyed or taken by the victorious Vandals. . . . After
the failure of this great expedition, Genseric again became
the tyrant of the sea; the coasts of Italy, Greece, and
Asia were again exposed to his revenge and avarice; Tripoli
and Sardinia returned to his obedience; he added Sicily to
the number of his provinces; and before he died, in the
fulness of years and of glory, he beheld the FINAL
EXTINCTION of the empire of the West. -- Gibbon, Vol. III,
pp. 495-498. p. 459, Para. 5.
Concerning the important part which this bold corsair
acted in the downfall of Rome, Mr. Gibbon uses this
Genseric, a name which, in the
destruction of the Roman empire, has deserved an equal rank
with the names of Alaric and Attila. p. 460, Para. 1.
VERSE 10. And the third angel sounded, and there fell a
great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it
fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the
fountains of waters. 11. 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 made
bitter. p. 460, Para. 2.
In the interpretation and application of this passage, we are brought to the third important event which resulted in the subversion of the Roman empire. And in finding a historical fulfilment of this third trumpet, we shall be indebted to the Notes of Dr. Albert Barnes for a few extracts. In explaining this scripture, it is necessary, as this commentator says,-- p. 461, Para. 1.
That there should be some chieftain or warrior who might
be compared to a blazing meteor; whose course would be
singularly brilliant; who would appear suddenly LIKE a
blazing star, and then disappear like a star whose light
was quenched in the waters. That the desolating course of
this meteor would be mainly on those portions of the world
which abounded with springs of water and running streams;
that an effect would be produced as if those streams and
fountains were made bitter; that is, that many persons
would perish, and that wide desolations would be caused in
the vicinity of those rivers and streams, as if a bitter
and baleful star should fall into the waters, and death
should spread over lands adjacent to them, and watered by
them. -- Notes on Revelation 8. p. 461, Para. 2.
It is here premised that this trumpet has allusion to the desolating wars and furious invasions of Attila against the Roman power, which he carried on at the head of his hordes of Huns. Speaking of this warrior, particularly of his personal appearance, Mr. Barnes says:-- p. 461, Para. 3.
In the manner of his appearance, he strongly resembled a
brilliant meteor flashing in the sky. He came from the East
gathering his Huns, and poured them down, as we shall see,
with the rapidity of a flashing meteor, suddenly on the
empire. He regarded himself also as devoted to Mars, the
god of war, and was accustomed to array himself in a
peculiarly brilliant manner, so that his appearance, in the
language of his flatterers, was such as to dazzle the eyes
of beholders. p. 461, Para. 4.
In speaking of the locality of the events predicted by this trumpet, Mr. Barnes has this note;-- p. 461, Para. 5.
It is said particularly that the effect would be on 'the
rivers' and on 'the fountains of waters.' If this has a
literal application, or if, as was supposed in the case of
the second trumpet, the language used was such as had
reference to the portion of the empire that would be
particularly affected by the hostile invasion, then we may
suppose that this refers to those portions of the empire
that abounded in rivers and streams and more particularly
those in which the rivers and streams had their origin; for
the effect was permanently in the 'fountains of waters.' As
a matter of fact, the principal operations of Attila were
on the regions of the Alps, and on the portions of the
empire whence the rivers flow down into Italy. The invasion
of Attila is described by Mr. Gibbon in this general
language: 'The whole breadth of Europe, as it extends above
five hundred miles from the Euxine to the Adriatic, was at
once invaded, and occupied, and desolated, by the myriads
of barbarians whom Attila led into the field.' p. 461,
And the Name of the Star is Called Wormwood [denoting the
bitter consequences]. These words -- which are more
intimately connected with the preceding verse, as even the
punctuation in our version denotes -- recall us for a
moment to the character of Attila, to the misery of which
he was the author or the instrument, and to the terror that
was inspired by his name. p. 462, Para. 1.
'Total extirpation and erasure,' are terms which best
denote the calamities he inflicted. He styled himself,
The Scourge of God. p. 462, Para. 2.
One of his lieutenants chastised and almost exterminated
the Burgundians of the Rhine. They traversed, both in their
march and in their return, the territories of the Franks;
and they massacred their hostages as well as their
captives. Two hundred young maidens were tortured with
exquisite and unrelenting rage; their bodies were torn
asunder by wild horses, or were crushed under the weight of
rolling wagons; and their unburied limbs were abandoned on
public roads, as a prey to dogs and vultures. p. 462,
It was the boast of Attila that the grass never grew on
the spot which his horse had trod. The Western emperor with
the senate and people of Rome, humbly and fearfully
deprecated the wrath of Attila. And the concluding
paragraph of the chapters which record his history, is
entitled, 'Symptoms of the Decay and Ruin of the Roman
Government.' 'The name of the star is called Wormwood.' --
Keith. p. 462, Para. 4.
VERSE 12. And the fourth angel wounded, and the third
part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the
moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part
of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third
part of it, and the night likewise. p. 463, Para. 1.
We understand that this trumpet symbolizes the career of
Odoacer, the barbarian monarch who was so intimately
connected with the downfall of Western Rome. The symbols
sun, moon, and stars -- for they are undoubtedly here used
as symbols -- evidently denote the great luminaries of the
Roman government, -- its emperors, senators, and consuls.
Bishop Newton remarks that the last emperor of Western Rome
was Romulus, who in derision was called Augustulus, or the
diminutive Augustus. Western Rome fell A.D. 476. Still,
however, though the Roman sun was extinguished, its
subordinate luminaries shone faintly while the senate and
consuls continued. But after many civil reverses and
changes of political fortune, at length, A.D. 566, the
whole form of the ancient government was subverted, and
Rome itself was reduced form being the empress of the world
to a poor dukedom tributary to the Exarch of Ravenna. p.
463, Para. 2.
Under the heading,
Extinction of the Western Empire, A.D.
476 or A.D. 479, Elder J. Litch [Prophetic Exposition,
Vol. II, pp. 156-160] quotes from Mr. Keith as follows:--
p. 463, Para. 3.
The unfortunate Augustulus was made the instrument of his
own disgrace; and he signified his resignation to the
senate; and that assembly, in their last act of obedience
to a Roman prince, still affected the spirit of freedom and
the forms of the constitution. An epistle was addressed, by
their unanimous decree, to the emperor Zeno, the son-in-law
and successor of Leo, who had lately been restored, after a
short rebellion, to the Byzantine throne. They solemnly
'disclaim the necessity or even the wish of continuing any
longer the imperial succession in Italy; since in their
opinion the majesty of a sole monarch is sufficient to
pervade and to protect, at the same time, both the East and
the West. In their own name, and in the name of the people,
they consent that the seat of universal empire shall be
transferred from Rome to Constantinople; and they basely
renounce the right of choosing their master, the only
vestige which yet remained of the authority which had given
laws to the world. p. 463, Para. 4.
The power and glory of Rome as bearing rule over any
nation, became extinct. The name alone remained to the
queen of nations. Every token of royalty disappeared from
the imperial city. She who had ruled over the nations sat
in the dust, like a second Babylon, and there was no throne
where the Caesars had reigned. The last act of obedience to
a Roman prince which that once august assembly performed,
was the acceptance of the resignation of the last emperor
of the West, and the abolition of the imperial succession
in Italy. The sun of Rome was smitten. . . . p. 464, Para.
A new conqueror of Italy, Theodoric, the Ostrogoth,
speedily arose, who unscrupulously assumed the purple and
reigned by right of conquest. 'The royalty of Theodoric was
proclaimed by the Goths [March 5, A.D. 493], with the
tardy, reluctant, ambiguous consent of the emperor of the
East.' The imperial Roman power, of which either Rome or
Constantinople had been jointly or singly the seat, whether
in the West or the East, was no longer recognized in Italy,
and the third part of the sun was smitten, till it emitted
no longer the faintest rays. The power of the Caesars was
unknown in Italy; and a Gothic king reigned over Rome. p.
464, Para. 2.
But though the third part of the sun was smitten, and the
Roman imperial power was at an end in the city of the
Caesars, yet the moon and the stars still shone, or
glimmered, for a little longer in the Western empire, even
in the midst of Gothic darkness. The consulship and the
senate [ p. 464, Para. 3.
the moon and the stars] were not abolished by
Theodoric. 'A Gothic historian applauds the consulship of
Theodoric as the height of all temporal power and
greatness;' -- as the moon reigns by night after the
setting of the sun. And instead of abolishing that office,
Theodoric himself 'congratulates those annual favorites of
fortune, who, without the cares, enjoyed the splendor of
But in their prophetic order, the consulship and the
senate of Rome met their fate, though they fall not by the
hands of Vandals or of Goths. The next revolution in Italy
was in subjection to Belisarius, the general of Justinian,
emperor of the East. He did not spare what barbarians had
hallowed. 'The Roman Consulship Extinguished by Justinian,
A.D. 541,' is the title of the last paragraph of the
fortieth chapter of Gibbon's History of the Decline and
Fall of Rome. 'The succession of the consuls finally ceased
in the thirteenth year of Justinian, whose despotic temper
might be gratified by the silent extinction of a title
which admonished the Romans of their ancient freedom.' The
third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of
the moon, and the third part of the stars. In the political
firmament of the ancient world, while under the reign of
imperial Rome, the emperorship, the consulate, and the
senate shone like the sun, the moon, and the stars. The
history of their decline and fall is brought down till the
two former were 'extinguished,' in reference to Rome and
Italy, which so long had ranked as the first of cities and
of countries; and finally, as the fourth trumpet closes, we
see the 'extinction of that illustrious assembly,' the
Roman senate. The city that had ruled the world, as if in
mockery of human greatness, was conquered by the eunuch
Narses, the successor of Belisarius. He defeated the Goths
[A.D. 552], achieved 'the conquest of Rome,' and the fate
of the senate was sealed. p. 465, Para. 1.
Elliott [Horae Apocalypticae, Vol. I, pp. 357-360] speaks of the fulfilment of this portion of the prophecy in the extinction of the Western empire, as follows:-- p. 465, Para. 2.
Thus was the final catastrophe preparing, by which the
Western emperors and empire were to become extinct. The
glory of Rome had long departed; its provinces one after
another had been rent from it; the territory still attached
to it became like a desert; and its maritime possessions
and its fleets and commerce been annihilated. Little
remained to it but the vain titles and insignia of
sovereignty. And now the time was come when these too were
to be withdrawn. Some twenty years or more from the death
of Attila, and much less from that of Genseric [who, ere
his death, had indeed visited and ravaged the eternal city
in one of his maritime marauding expeditions, and thus yet
more prepared the coming consummation], about this time, I
say, Odoacer, chief of the Heruli, -- a barbarian remnant
of the host of Attila, left on the Alpine frontiers of
Italy, -- interposed with his command that the name and the
office of Roman emperor of the West, should be abolished.
The authorities bowed in submission to him. The last
phantom of an emperor -- one whose name, Romulus Augustus.
was singularly calculated to bring in contrast before the
reflective mind the past glories of Rome and its present
degradation -- abdicated; and the senate sent away the
imperial insignia to Constantinople, professing to the
emperor of the East that one emperor was sufficient for the
whole of the empire. Thus of the Roman imperial sun, that
third which appertained to the Western empire was eclipsed,
and shone no more. I say, That third of its orb which
appertained to the Western empire; for the Apocalyptic
fraction is literally accurate. In the last arrangement
between the two courts, the whole of the Illyrian third had
been made over to the Eastern division. Thus in the West
'the extinction of the empire' had taken place; the night
had fallen. p. 465, Para. 3.
Notwithstanding this, however, it must be borne in mind
that the authority of the Roman name had not yet entirely
ceased. The senate of Rome continued to assemble as usual.
The consuls were appointed yearly, one by the Eastern
emperor, one by Italy and Rome. Odoacer himself governed
Italy under a title [that of patrician] conferred on him by
the Eastern emperor. And as regarded the more distant
Western provinces, or at least considerable districts in
them, the tie which had united them to the Roman empire was
not altogether severed. There was still a certain, though
often faint, recognition of the supreme imperial authority.
The moon and the stars might seem still to shine on the
West with a dim reflected light. In the course of the
events, however, which rapidly followed one on the other in
the next half century, these, too, were extinguished.
Theodoric, the Ostrogoth, on destroying the Heruli and
their kingdom at Rome and Ravenna, ruled in Italy from A.D.
493 to 526 as an independent sovereign; and on Belisarius's
and Narses's conquest of Italy from the Ostrogoths [a
conquest preceded by wars and desolations in which Italy,
and above all its seven-hilled city, were for a time almost
made desert], the Roman senate was dissolved, the
consulship abrogated. Moreover, as regards the barbaric
princes of the Western provinces, their independence of the
Roman imperial power became now more distinctly averred and
understood. After above a century and a half of calamities
unexampled almost, as Dr. Robertson most truly represents
it, in the history of nations, the statement of Jerome, --
a statement couched under the very Apocalyptic figure of
the text, but prematurely pronounced on the first taking of
Rome by Alaric, -- might be considered as at length
accomplished: 'Clarissimum terrarum lumen extinctum est,'
'The world's glorious sun has been extinguished;' and that,
too, which our own poet has expressed, still under the same
beautifully appropriate Apocalyptic imagery, -- p. 466,
'She saw her glories star by star expire.'
till not even a single star remained, to glimmer on the vacant and dark night." p. 466, Para. 1.
The fearful ravages of these barbarian hordes, who, under their bold but cruel and desperate leaders, devastated Rome, are vividly portrayed in the following spirited lines:-- p. 467, Para. 1.
And then a deluge of wrath it came,
And the nations shook with dread;
And it swept the earth, till its fields were flame,
And piled with the mingled dead.
Kings were rolled in the wasteful flood,
With the low and crouching slave,
And together lay, in a shroud of blood,
The coward and the brave.
p. 467, Para. 2.
Fearful as were the calamities brought upon the empire by the first incursions of these barbarians, they were comparatively light as contrasted with the calamities which were to follow. They were but as the preliminary drops of a shower before the torrent which was soon to fall upon the Roman world. The three remaining trumpets are overshadowed with a cloud of woe, as set forth in the following verses. p. 467, Para. 3.
VERSE 13. And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through
the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe,
woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other
voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to
sound. p. 468, Para. 1.
This angel is not one of the series of the seven trumpet angels, but simply one who announces that the three remaining trumpets are woe trumpets, on account of the more terrible events to transpire under their sounding. Thus the next, or fifth trumpet, is the first woe; the sixth trumpet, the second woe; and the seventh, the last one in this series of seven trumpets, is the third woe. p. 468, Para. 2.
© by S. D. Goeldner,