VERSE 1. And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star
fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the
key of the bottomless pit. p. 469, Para. 2.
For an exposition of this trumpet, we shall again draw from the writings of Mr. Keith. This writer truthfully says: p. 469, Para. 3.
There is scarcely so uniform an agreement among
interpreters concerning any other part of the Apocalypse as
respecting the application of the fifth and sixth trumpets,
or the first and second woes, to the Saracens and Turks. It
is so obvious that it can scarcely be misunderstood.
Instead of a verse or two designating each, the whole of
the ninth chapter of the Revelation in equal portions, is
occupied with a description of both. p. 469, Para. 4.
The Roman empire declined, as it arose, by conquest; but
the Saracens and the Turks were the instruments by which a
false religion became the scourge of an apostate church;
and hence, instead of the fifth and sixth trumpets, like
the former, being designated by that name alone, they are
called woes. p. 469, Para. 5.
Constantinople was besieged, for the first time after the
extinction of the Western empire, by Chosroes, the king of
Persia. p. 469, Para. 6.
A star fell from heaven unto the earth; and to him was
given the key of the bottomless pit. p. 469, Para. 7.
While the Persian monarch contemplated the wonders of his
art and power, he received an epistle from an obscure
citizen of Mecca, inviting him to acknowledge Mohammed as
the apostle of God. He rejected the invitation, and tore
the epistle. 'It is thus,' exclaimed the Arabian prophet,
'that God will tear the kingdom, and reject the
supplication of Chosroes.' Placed on the verge of these two
empires of the East, Mohammed observed with secret joy the
progress of mutual destruction; and in the midst of the
Persian triumphs he ventured to foretell, that, before many
years should elapse, victory would again return to the
banners of the Romans. 'At the time when this prediction is
said to have been delivered, no prophecy could be more
distant from its accomplishment [!] since the first twelve
years of Heraclius announced the approaching dissolution of
the empire.' p. 470, Para. 1.
It was not, like that designative of Attila, on a single
spot that the star fell, but UPON THE EARTH. p. 470, Para.
Chosroes subjugated the Roman possession is Asia and
Africa. And 'the Roman empire,' at that period, 'was
reduced to the walls of Constantinople, with the remnant of
Greece, Italy, and Africa, and some maritime cities, from
Tyre to Trebizond, of the Asiatic coast. The experience of
six years at length persuaded the Persian monarch to
renounce the conquest of Constantinople, and to specify the
annual tribute of the ransom of the Roman empire, -- a
thousand talents of gold, a thousand talents of silver, a
thousand silk robes, a thousand horses, and a thousand
virgins. Heraclius subscribed to these ignominious terms.
But the time and space which he obtained to collect those
treasures from the poverty of the East were industriously
employed in the preparation of a bold and desperate
attack.' p. 470, Para. 3.
The king of Persia despised the obscure Saracen, and
derided the message of the pretended prophet of Mecca. Even
the overthrow of the Roman empire would not have opened a
door for Mohammedanism, or for the progress of the
Saracenic armed propagators of an imposture, though the
monarch of the Persians and chagan of the Avars [the
successor of Attila] had divided between them the remains
of the kingdoms of the Caesars. Chosroes himself fell. The
Persian and Roman monarchies exhausted each other's
strength. And before a sword was put into the hands of the
false prophet, it was smitten from the hands of those who
would have checked his career and crushed his power. p.
470, Para. 4.
'Since the days of Scipio and Hannibal, no bolder
enterprise has been attempted than that which Heraclius
achieved for the deliverance of the empire. He explored his
perilous way through the Black Sea and the mountains of
Armenia, penetrated into the heart of Persia, and recalled
the armies of the great king to the defense of their
bleeding country.' p. 471, Para. 1.
In the battle of Nineveh, which was fiercely fought from
daybreak to the eleventh hour, twenty-eight standards,
besides those which might be broken or torn, were taken
from the Persians; the greatest part of their army was cut
in pieces, and the victors, concealing their own loss,
passed the night on the field. The cities and palaces of
Assyria were opened for the first time to the Romans. p.
471, Para. 2.
The Roman emperor was not strengthened by the conquests
which he achieved; and a way was prepared at the same time,
and by the same means, for the multitudes of Saracens from
Arabia, like locusts from the same region, who, propagating
in their course the dark and delusive Mohammedan creed,
speedily overspread both the Persian and the Roman empire.
p. 471, Para. 3.
More complete illustration of this fact could not be
desired than is supplied in the concluding words of the
chapter from Gibbon, from which the preceding extracts are
Although a victorious army had been formed under
the standard of Heraclius, the unnatural effort seems to
have exhausted rather than exercised their strength. While
the emperor triumphed at Constantinople or Jerusalem, an
obscure town on the confines of Syria was pillaged by the
Saracens, and they cut in pieces some troops who advanced
to its relief, -- an ordinary and trifling occurrence, had
it not been the prelude of a mighty revolution. These
robbers were the apostles of Mohammed; their frantic valor
had emerged from the desert; and in the last eight years of
his reign, Heraclius lost to the Arabs the same provinces
which he had rescued from the Persians. p. 471, Para. 4.
The spirit of fraud and enthusiasm, whose abode is not in
the heavens,' was let loose on earth. The bottomless pit
needed but a key to open it, and that key was the fall of
Chosroes. He had contemptuously torn the letter of an
obscure citizen of Mecca. But when from his 'blaze of
glory' he sunk into the 'tower of darkness' which no eye
could penetrate, the name of Chosroes was suddenly to pass
into oblivion before that of Mohammed; and the crescent
seemed but to wait its rising till the falling of the star.
Chosroes, after his entire discomfiture and loss of empire,
was murdered in the year 628; and the year 629 is marked by
'the conquest of Arabia,' and 'the first war of the
Mohammedans against the Roman empire.' 'And the fifth angel
sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth;
and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. And he
opened the bottomless pit.' He fell unto the earth. When
the strength of the Roman empire was exhausted, and the
great king of the East lay dead in his tower of darkness,
the pillage of an obscure town on the borders of Syria was
'the prelude of a mighty revolution.' 'The robbers were the
apostles of Mohammed, and their frantic valor emerged from
the desert.' p. 472, Para. 1.
The Bottomless Pit. -- The meaning of this term may be
learned from the Greek, which is defined
profound, and may refer to any waste, desolate, and
uncultivated place. It is applied to the earth in its
original state of chaos. Gen. 1:2. In this instance it may
appropriately refer to the unknown wastes of the Arabian
desert, from the borders of which issued the hordes of
Saracens like swarms of locusts. And the fall of Chosroes,
the Persian king, may well be represented as the opening of
the bottomless pit, inasmuch as it prepared the way for the
followers of Mohammed to issue from their obscure country,
and propagate their delusive doctrines with fire and sword,
till they had spread their darkness over all the Eastern
empire. p. 472, Para. 2.
VERSE 2. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there
arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great
furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of
the smoke of the pit. p. 473, Para. 1.
Like the noxious and even deadly vapors which the winds,
particularly from the southwest, diffuse in Arabia,
Mohammedanism spread from thence its pestilential
influence, -- arose as suddenly and spread as widely as
smoke arising out of the pit, the smoke of a great furnace.
Such is a suitable symbol of the religion of Mohammed, of
itself, or as compared with the pure light of the gospel of
Jesus. It was not, like the latter, a light from heaven,
but a smoke out of the bottomless pit. p. 473, Para. 2.
VERSE 3. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the
earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of
the earth have power. p. 473, Para. 3.
A false religion was set up, which, although the scourge
of transgressions and idolatry, filled the world with
darkness and delusion; and swarms of Saracens, like
locusts, overspread the earth, and speedily extended their
ravages over the Roman empire from east to west. The hail
descended from the frozen shores of the Baltic; the burning
mountain fell upon the sea from Africa; and the locusts
[the fit symbol of the Arabs] issued from Arabia, their
native region. They came as destroyers, propagating a new
doctrine, and stirred up to rapine and violence by motives
of interest and religion. p. 473, Para. 4.
A still more specific illustration may be given of the
power like unto that of scorpions, which was given them.
Not only was their attack speedy and vigorous, but 'the
nice sensibility of honor, which weighs the insult rather
than the injury, shed its deadly venom on the quarrels of
the Arabs; an indecent action, a contemptuous word, can be
expiated only by the blood of the offender; and such is
their patient inveteracy, that they expect whole months and
years the opportunity of revenge.' p. 473, Para. 5.
VERSE 4. And it was commanded from them that they should
not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing,
neither any tree; but only those men which have not the
seal of God in their foreheads. p. 473, Para. 6.
After the death of Mohammed, he was succeeded in the command by Abubekr, A.D. 632, who, as soon as he had fairly established his authority and government, dispatched a circular letter to the Arabian tribes, from which the following is an extract:-- p. 474, Para. 1.
'When you fight the battles of the Lord, acquit
yourselves like men, without turning your backs; but let
not your victory be stained with the blood of women and
children. Destroy no palm-trees, nor burn any fields of
corn. Cut down no fruit-trees, nor do any mischief to
cattle, only such as you kill to eat. When you make any
covenant or article, stand to it, and be as good as your
word. And as you go, you will find some religious persons
who live retired in monasteries, and propose to themselves
to serve God that way; let them alone, and neither kill
them nor destroy their monasteries. And you will find
another sort of people that belong to the synagogue of
Satan, who have shaven crowns; be sure you cleave their
skulls, and give them no quarter till they either turn
Mohammedans or pay tribute.' p. 474, Para. 2.
It is not said in prophecy or in history that the more
humane injunctions were as scrupulously obeyed as the
ferocious mandate; but it was so commanded them. And the
preceding are the only instructions recorded by Gibbon, as
given by Abubekr to the chiefs whose duty it was to issue
the commands to all the Saracen hosts. The commands are
alike discriminating with the prediction, as if the caliph
himself had been acting in known as well as direct
obedience to a higher mandate than that of mortal man; and
in the very act of going forth to fight against the
religion of Jesus, and to propagate Mohammedanism in its
stead, he repeated the words which it was foretold in the
Revelation of Jesus Christ that he would say. p. 474,
The Seal of God in Their Foreheads. -- In remarks upon chapter 7:1-3, we have shown that the seal of God is the Sabbath of the fourth commandment; and history is not silent upon the fact that there have been observers of the true Sabbath all through the present dispensation. But the question has here arisen with many, Who were those men who at this time had the seal of God in their foreheads, and who thereby became exempt from Mohammedan oppression? Let the reader bear in mind the fact, already alluded to, that there have been those all through this dispensation who have had the seal of God in their foreheads, or have been intelligent observers of the true Sabbath; and let them consider further that what the prophecy asserts is that the attacks of this desolating Turkish power are not directed against them, but against another class. The subject is thus freed from all difficulty; for this is all that the prophecy really asserts. Only one class of persons is directly brought to view in the text; namely, those who have not the seal of God in their foreheads; and the preservation of those who have the seal of God is brought in only by implication. Accordingly, we do not learn from history that any of these were involved in any of the calamities inflicted by the Saracens upon the objects of their hate. They were commissioned against another class of men. And the destruction to come upon this class of men is not put in contract with the preservation of other men, but only with that of the fruits and verdure of the earth; thus, Hurt not the grass, trees, nor any green thing, but only a certain class of men. And in fulfilment, we have the strange spectacle of an army of invaders sparing those things which such armies usually destroy, namely, the face and productions of nature; and, in pursuance of their permission to hurt those men who had not the seal of God in their foreheads, cleaving the skulls of a class of religionists with shaven crowns, who belonged to the synagogue of Satan. p. 474, Para. 4.
These were doubtless a class of monks, or some other division of the Roman Catholic Church. Against these the arms of the Mohammedans were directed. And it seems to us that there is a peculiar fitness, if not design, in describing them as those who had not the seal of God in their foreheads; inasmuch as that is the very church which has robbed the law of God of its seal, by tearing away the true Sabbath, and erecting a counterfeit in its place. And we do not understand, either from the prophecy or from history, that those persons whom Abubekr charged his followers not to molest were in possession of the seal of God, or necessarily constituted the people of God. Who they were, and for what reason they were spared, the meager testimony of Gibbon does not inform us, and we have no other means of knowing; but we have every reason to believe that none of these who had the seal of God were molested, while another class, who emphatically had it not, were put to the sword; and thus the specifications of the prophecy are amply met. p. 475, Para. 1.
VERSE 5. And to them it was given that they should not
kill them, but that they should be tormented five months;
and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he
striketh a man. p. 476, Para. 1.
Their constant incursions into the Roman territory, and
frequent assaults on Constantinople itself, were an
unceasing torment throughout the empire; and yet they were
not able effectually to subdue it, notwithstanding the long
period, afterward more directly alluded to, during which
they continued, by unremitting attacks, grievously to
afflict an idolatrous church, of which the pope was the
head. Their charge was to torment, and then to hurt, but
not to kill, or utterly destroy. The marvel was that they
did not. [In reference to the five months, see on verse
10.] p. 476, Para. 2.
VERSE 6. And in those days shall men seek death, and
shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall
flee from them. p. 476, Para. 3.
Men were weary of life, when life was spared only for a
renewal of woe, and when all that they accounted sacred was
violated, and all that they held dear constantly
endangered, and the savage Saracens domineered over them,
or left them only to a momentary repose, ever liable to be
suddenly or violently interrupted, as if by the sting of a
scorpion. p. 476, Para. 4.
VERSE 7. And the shapes of the locusts were like unto
horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it
were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of
men. p. 476, Para. 5.
The Arabian horse takes the lead throughout the world;
and skill in horsemanship is the art and science of Arabia.
And the barbed Arabs, swift as locusts and armed like
scorpions, ready to dart away in a moment, were ever
prepared unto battle. p. 476, Para. 6.
'And on their heads were as it were crowns like gold.'
When Mohammed entered Medina [A.D. 622], and was first
received as its prince, 'a turban was unfurled before him
to supply the deficiency of a standard.' The turbans of the
Saracens, like unto a coronet, were their ornament and
their boast.. The rich booty abundantly supplied and
frequently renewed them. To assume the turbans is
proverbially to turn Mussulman. And the Arabs were
anciently distinguished by the miters which they wore. p.
477, Para. 1.
'And their faces were as the faces of men.' 'The gravity
and firmness of the mind of the Arab is conspicuous in his
outward demeanor; his only gesture is that of stroking his
beard, the venerable symbol of manhood.' 'The honor of
their beards is most easily wounded.' p. 477, Para. 2.
VERSE 8. And they had hair as the hair of women, and
their teeth were as the teeth of lions. p. 477, Para. 3.
Long hair is esteemed an ornament by women. The Arabs,
unlike other men, had their hair as the hair of women, or
uncut, as their practice is recorded by Pliny and others.
But there was nothing effeminate in their character; for,
as denoting their ferocity and strength to devour, their
teeth were as the teeth of the lions. p. 477, Para. 4.
VERSE 9. And they had breastplates, as it were
breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as
the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.
p. 477, Para. 5.
The Breastplate. --
The cuirass [or breastplate] was in
use among the Arabs in the days of Mohammed. In the battle
of Ohud [the second which Mohammed fought] with the Koreish
of Mecca [A.D. 624], 'seven hundred of them were armed with
cuirasses.' p. 477, Para. 6.
The Sound of Their Wings. --
The charge of the Arabs was
not, like that of the Greeks and Romans, the efforts of a
firm and compact infantry; their military force was chiefly
formed of cavalry and archers. With a touch of the hand,
the Arab horses darted away with the swiftness of the wind.
'The sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of
many horses running to battle.' Their conquests were
marvelous both in rapidity and extent, and their attack was
instantaneous. Nor was it less successful against the
Romans than the Persians. p. 477, Para. 7.
VERSE 10. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and
there were stings in their tails: and their power was to
hurt men five months.
11. And they had a king over them, which is the angel of
the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is
Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.
p. 478, Para. 1.
Thus far, Keith has furnished us with illustrations of the sounding of the first five trumpets. But we must now take leave of him, and proceed to the application of the new feature of the prophecy here introduced; namely, the prophetic periods. p. 478, Para. 2.
Their Power Was to Hurt Men Five Months. -- 1. The
question arises, What men were they to hurt five months? --
Undoubtedly the same they were afterward to slay [see verse
The third part of men, or third of the Roman empire,
-- the Greek division of it. p. 478, Para. 3.
2. When were they to begin their work of torment? The 11th verse answers the question. p. 478, Para. 4.
They had a king over them. From the death of
Mohammed until near the close of the thirteenth century,
the Mohammedans were divided into various factions under
several leaders, with no general civil government extending
over them all. Near the close of the thirteenth century,
Othman founded a government which has since been known as
the Ottoman government, or empire, which grew until it
extended over all the principal Mohammedan tribes,
consolidating them into one grand monarchy. p. 478, Para.
(2) The character of the king.
Which is the angel of the
bottomless pit. An angel signifies a messenger, a
minister, either good or bad, and not always a spiritual
The angel of the bottomless pit, or chief minister
of the religion which came from thence when it was opened.
That religion is Mohammedanism, and the sultan is its chief
The Sultan, or grand Seignior, as he is
indifferently called, is also Supreme Caliph, or high
priest, uniting in his person the highest spiritual dignity
with the supreme secular authority. -- World As It Is, p.
361. p. 478, Para. 6.
(3) His name. In Hebrew,
Abaddon, the destroyer; in
Apollyon, one that exterminates, or destroys.
Having two different names in two languages, it is evident
that the character, rather than the name of the power, is
intended to be represented. If so, as expressed in both
languages, he is a destroyer. Such has always been the
character of the Ottoman government. p. 479, Para. 1.
But when did Othman make his first assault on the Greek
empire? -- According to Gibbon, Decline and Fall, etc.,
Othman first entered the territory of Nicomedia on the
27th day of July, 1299. p. 479, Para. 2.
The calculations of some writers have gone upon the supposition that the period should begin with the foundation of the Ottoman empire; but this is evidently an error; for they were not only to have a king over them, but were to torment men five months. But the period of torment could not begin before the first attack of the tormentors, which was, as above stated, July 27, 1299. p. 479, Para. 3.
The calculation which follows, founded on this starting-point, was made and published in a work entitled, Christ's Second Coming, etc., by J. Litch, in 1838. p. 479, Para. 4.
And their power was to hurt men five months. Thus far
their commission extended, to torment by constant
depredations, but not politically to kill them.
months, thirty days to a month, give us one hundred and
fifty days; and these days, being symbolic, signify one
hundred and fifty years. Commencing July 27, 1299, the one
hundred and fifty years reach to 1449. During that whole
period the Turks were engaged in an almost perpetual
warfare with the Greek empire, but yet without conquering
it. They seized upon and held several of the Greek
provinces, but still Greek independence was maintained in
Constantinople. But in 1449, the termination of the one
hundred and fifty years, a change came, the history of
which will be found under the succeeding trumpet. p. 479,
VERSE 12. One woe is past; and, behold, there come two
woes more hereafter. 13. And the sixth angel sounded, and I
heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which
is before God. 14. Saying to the sixth angel which had the
trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great
river Euphrates. 15. And the four angels were loosed, which
were prepared for an hour, and a day and a month, and a
year, for to slay the third part of men. p. 480, Para. 1.
The first woe was to continue from the rise of Mohammedanism until the end of the five months. Then the first woe was to end, and the second to begin. And when the sixth angel sounded, it was commanded to take off the restraints which had been imposed on the nation, by which they were restricted to the work of tormenting men, and their commission was enlarged so as to permit them to slay the third part of men. This command came from the four horns of the golden altar. p. 480, Para. 2.
The Four Angels. -- These were the four principal sultans of which the Ottoman empire was composed, located in the country watered by the great river Euphrates. These sultans were situated at Aleppo, Iconium, Damascus, and Bagdad. Previously they had been restrained; but God commanded, and they were loosed. p. 480, Para. 3.
In the year 1449, John Palaeologus, the Greek emperor, died, but left no children to inherit his throne, and Constantine, his brother, succeeded to it.  But he would not venture to ascend the throne without the consent of Amurath, the Turkish sultan. He therefore sent ambassadors to ask his consent, and obtained it before he presumed to call himself sovereign. p. 480, Para. 4.
[ Some historians have given this date as 1448, but the best authorities sustain the date here given, 1449. See Chamber's Encyclopedia, art., Palaeologus.] p. 480, Para. 5.
Let this historical fact be carefully examined in
connection with the prediction given above. This was not a
violent assault made on the Greeks, by which their empire
was overthrown and their independence taken away, but
simply a voluntary surrender of that independence into the
hands of the Turks. The authority and supremacy of the
Turkish power was acknowledged when Constantine virtually
I cannot reign unless you permit. p. 480, Para. 6.
The four angels were loosed for an hour, a day, a month, and a year, to slay the third part of men. This period, during which Ottoman supremacy was to exist, amounts to three hundred ninety- one years and fifteen days. Thus: A prophetic year is three hundred and sixty prophetic days, or three hundred and sixty literal years; a prophetic month, thirty prophetic days, is thirty literal years; one prophetic day is one literal year; and an hour, or the twenty-fourth part of a prophetic day, would be a twenty-fourth part of a literal year, or fifteen days; the whole amounting to three hundred and ninety- one years and fifteen days. p. 481, Para. 1.
But although the four angels were thus loosed by the voluntary submission of the Greeks, yet another doom awaited the seat of empire. Amurath, the sultan to whom the submission of Constantine XIII was made, and by whose permission he reigned in Constantinople, soon after died, and was succeeded in the empire, in 1451, by Mohammed II, who set his heart on securing Constantinople as the seat of his empire. p. 481, Para. 2.
He accordingly made preparations for besieging and taking the city. The siege commenced on the 6th of April, 1453, and ended in the capture of the city, and the death of the last of the Constantines, on the 16th day of May following. And the eastern city of the Caesars became the seat of the Ottoman empire. p. 481, Para. 3.
The arms and mode of warfare which were used in the siege in which Constantinople was to be overthrown and held in subjection were, as we shall see, distinctly noticed by the Revelator. p. 481, Para. 4.
VERSE 16. And the number of the army of the horsemen were
two hundred thousand thousand; and I heard the number of
them p. 481, Para. 5.
Innumerable hordes of horses, and them that sat on them!
Gibbon thus describes the first invasion of the Roman
territories by the Turks:
The myriads of Turkish horse
overspread a frontier of six hundred miles, from Taurus to
Erzeroum; and the blood of 130,000 Christians was a
grateful sacrifice to the Arabian prophet. Whether the
language is designed to convey the idea of any definite
number or not, the reader must judge. Some suppose 200,000
twice told is meant, and, following some historians, they
find that number of Turkish warriors in the siege of
Constantinople. Some think 200,000,000 to mean all the
Turkish warriors during the three hundred and ninety-one
years and fifteen days of their triumph over the Greeks.
Nothing can be affirmed on the point. And it is nothing at
all essential. p. 481, Para. 6.
VERSE 17. And Thus I saw the horses in the vision, and
them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of
jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as
the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and
smoke and brimstone. p. 482, Para. 1.
The first part of this description may have reference to
the appearance of these horsemen. Fire, representing a
color, stands for red,
as red as fire being a frequent
term of expression; jacinth, or hyacinth, for blue; and
brimstone, for yellow. And these colors greatly
predominated in the dress of these warriors; so that the
description, according to this view, would be accurately
met in the Turkish uniform, which was composed largely of
red, or scarlet, blue, and yellow. The heads of the horses
were in appearance as the heads of lions to denote their
strength, courage, and fierceness; while the last part of
the verse undoubtedly has reference to the use of gunpowder
and firearms for purposes of war, which were then but
recently introduced. As the Turks discharged their firearms
on horseback, it would appear to the distant beholder that
the fire, smoke, and brimstone issued out of the horses'
mouths, as illustrated by the accompanying plate.  p.
482, Para. 2.
[ Quite an agreement exists among commentators in applying the prophecy concerning the fire, smoke, and brimstone to the use of gunpowder by the Turks in their warfare against the Eastern empire. [See Clarke, Barnes, Elliott, Cottage Bible, etc.] But they generally allude simply to the heavy ordnance, the large cannon, employed by that power; whereas the prophecy mentions especially thehorses,and the fireissuing from their mouths,as though smaller arms were used, and used on horseback. Barnes thinks this was the case; and a statement from Gibbon confirms this view. He says [IV, 343]:The incessant volleys of lances and arrows were accompanied with the smoke, the sound, and the fire of their musketry and cannon.Here is good historical evidence that muskets were used by the Turks; and, secondly, it is undisputed that in their general warfare they fought principally on horseback. The inference is therefore well supported that they used firearms on horseback, accurately fulfilling the prophecy, according to the illustration above referred to.] p. 482, Para. 3.
Respecting the use of firearms by the Turks in their campaign against Constantinople, Elliott [Horae Apocalypticae, Vol. I, pp. 482-484] thus speaks:-- p. 483, Para. 1.
It was to 'the fire and the smoke and the sulphur,' to
the artillery and firearms of Mahomet, that the killing of
the third part of men, i.e., the capture of Constantinople,
and by consequence the destruction of the Greek empire, was
owing. Eleven hundred years and more had now elapsed since
her foundation by Constantine. In the course of them,
Goths, Huns, Avars, Persians, Bulgarians, Saracens,
Russians, and indeed the Ottoman Turks themselves, had made
their hostile assaults, or laid siege against it. But the
fortifications were impregnable by them. Constantinople
survived, and with it the Greek empire. Hence the anxiety
of the Sultan Mahomet to find that which would remove the
obstacle. 'Canst thou cast a cannon,' was his question to
the founder of cannon that deserted to him, 'of the size
sufficient to batter down the wall of Constantinople?' Then
the foundry was established at Adrianople, the cannon cast,
the artillery prepared, and the siege began. p. 483, Para.
It well deserves remark, how Gibbon, always the
unconscious commentator on the Apocalyptic prophecy, puts
this new instrumentality of war into the foreground of his
picture, in his eloquent and striking narrative of the
final catastrophe of the Greek empire. In preparation for
it, he gives the history of the recent invention of
gunpowder, 'that mixture of saltpeter, sulphur, and
charcoal;' tells of its earlier use by the Sultan Amurath,
and also, as before said, of Mahomet's foundry of larger
cannon at Adrianople; then, in the progress of the siege
itself, describes how 'the volleys of lances and arrows
were accompanied with the smoke, the sound, and the fire of
the musketry and cannon;' how 'the long order of the
Turkish artillery was pointed against the walls, fourteen
batteries thundering at once on the most accessible
places;' how 'the fortifications which had stood for ages
against hostile violence were dismantled on all sides by
the Ottoman cannon, many breaches opened, and near the gate
of St. Romanus, four towers leveled with the ground:' how,
as 'from the lines, the galleys, and the bridge, the
Ottoman artillery thundered on all sides, the camp and
city, the Greeks and the Turks, were involved in a cloud of
smoke, which could only be dispelled by the final
deliverance or destruction of the Roman empire: how 'the
double walls were reduced by the cannon to a heap of
ruins:' and how the Turks at length 'rising through the
breaches,' 'Constantinople was subdued, her empire
subverted, and her religion trampled in the dust by the
Moslem conquerors.' I say it well deserves observation how
markedly and strikingly Gibbon attributes the capture of
the city, and so the destruction of the empire, to the
Ottoman artillery. For what is it but a comment on the
words of our prophecy? 'By these three was the third part
of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the
sulphur, which issued out of their mouths.' p. 483, Para.
VERSE 18. By these three was the third part of men
killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the
brimstone, which issued out of their mouths. 19. For their
power is in their mouth, and in their tails; for their
tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them
they do hurt. p. 484, Para. 1.
These verses express the deadly effect of the new mode of warfare introduced. It was by means of these agents, -- gunpowder, firearms, and cannon, -- that Constantinople was finally overcome, and given into the hands of the Turks. p. 484, Para. 2.
In addition to the fire, smoke, and brimstone, which apparently issued out of their mouths, it is said that their power was also in their tails. It is a remarkable fact that the horse's tail is a well-known Turkish standard, a symbol of office and authority. The meaning of the expression appears to be that their tails were the symbol, or emblem of their authority. The image before the mind of John would seem to have been that he saw the horses belching out fire and smoke, and, what was equally strange, he saw that their power of spreading desolation was connected with the tails of the horses. Any one looking on a body of cavalry with such banners, or ensigns, would be struck with this unusual or remarkable appearance, and would speak of their banners as concentrating and directing their power. p. 484, Para. 3.
This supremacy of the Mohammendans over the Greeks was to continue, as already noticed, three hundred and ninety-one years and fifteen days. Commencing when the one hundred and fifty years ended, July 27, 1449, the period would end Aug. 11, 1840. Judging from the manner of the commencement of the Ottoman supremacy, that it was by a voluntary acknowledgment on the part of the Greek emperor that he reigned only by permission of the Turkish sultan, we should naturally conclude that the fall or departure of the Ottoman independence would be brought about in the same way; that at the end of the specified period, that is, on the 11th August, 1840, the sultan would voluntarily surrender his independence into the hands of the Christian powers, just as he had, three hundred and ninety-one years and fifteen days before, received it from the hands of the Christian emperor, Constantine XIII. p. 485, Para. 1.
This conclusion was reached, and this application of the prophecy was made by Elder J. Litch in 1838, two years before the predicted event was to occur. It was then purely a matter of calculation on the prophetic periods of Scripture. Now, however, the time has passed by, and it is proper to inquire what the result has been -- whether such events did transpire according to the previous calculation. The matter sums itself up in the following inquiry:-- p. 485, Para. 2.
When Did Mohammedan Independence in Constantinople Depart? -- For several years previous to 1840, the sultan had been embroiled in war with Mehemet Ali, pasha of Egypt. In 1838 the trouble between the sultan and his Egyptian vassal was for the time being restrained by the influence of the foreign ambassadors. In 1839, however, hostilities were again commenced, and were prosecuted until, in a general battle between the armies of the sultan and Mehemet, the sultan's army was entirely cut up and destroyed, and his fleet taken by Mehemet and carried into Egypt. So completely had the sultan's fleet been reduced, that, when the war again commenced in August, he had only two first-rates and three frigates as the sad remains of the once powerful Turkish fleet. This fleet Mehemet positively refused to give up and return to the sultan, and declared that if the powers attempted to take it from him, he would burn it. In this posture affairs stood, when, in 1840, England, Russia, Austria, and Prussia interposed, and determined on a settlement of the difficulty; for it was evident that, if let alone, Mehemet would soon become master of the sultan's throne. p. 485, Para. 3.
The sultan accepted this intervention of the great powers, and thus made a voluntary surrender of the question into their hands. A conference of these powers was held in London, the Sheik Effendi Bey Likgis being present as Ottoman plenipotentiary. An agreement was drawn up to be presented to the pasha of Egypt, whereby the sultan was to offer him the hereditary government of Egypt, and all that part of Syria extending from the Gulf of Suez to the Lake of Tiberias, together with the province of Acre, for life; he on his part to evacuate all other parts of the sultan's dominions then occupied by him, and to return the Ottoman fleet. In case he refused this offer from the sultan, the four powers were to take the matter into their own hands, and use such other means to bring him to terms as they should see fit. p. 486, Para. 1.
It is apparent that just as soon as this ultimatum should be put by the sultan into the hands of Mehemet Ali, the matter would be forever beyond the control of the former, and the disposal of his affairs would, from that moment, be in the hands of foreign powers. The sultan despatched Rifat Bey on a government steamer to Alexandria, to communicate the ultimatum to the pasha. It was put into his hands, and by him taken in charge, on the eleventh day of August, 1840! On the same day, a note was addressed by the sultan to the ambassadors of the four powers, inquiring what plan was to be adopted in case the pasha should refuse to comply with the terms of the ultimatum, to which they made answer that provision had been made, and there was no necessity of his alarming himself about any contingency that might arise. This day the period of three hundred and ninety-one years and fifteen days, allotted to the continuance of the Ottoman power, ended; and where was the sultan's independence? -- GONE! Who had the supremacy of the Ottoman empire in their hands? -- The four great powers; and that empire has existed ever since only by the sufferance of these Christian powers. Thus was the prophecy fulfilled to the very letter. p. 486, Para. 2.
From the first publication of the calculation of this matter in 1838, before referred to, the time set for the fulfilment of the prophecy -- Aug. 11, 1840 -- was watched by thousands with intense interest. And the exact accomplishment of the event predicted, showing, as it did, the right application of the prophecy, gave a mighty impetus to the great Advent movement then beginning to attract the attention of the world. p. 487, Para. 1.
VERSE 20. And the rest of the men which were not killed
by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their
hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of
gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which
neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: 21. Neither repented
they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their
fornication, nor of their thefts. p. 487, Para. 2.
God designs that men shall make a note of his judgments, and receive the lessons he thereby designs to convey. But how slow are they to learn! and how blind to the indications of providence! The events that transpired under the sixth trumpet constituted the second woe; yet these judgments led to no improvement in the manners and morals of men. Those who escaped them learned nothing by their manifestation in the earth. The worship of devils[demons, dead men deified] and of idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, may find a fulfilment in the saint worship and image worship of the Roman Catholic Church; while of murders, sorceries, [pretended miracles through the agency of departed saints], fornications, and thefts in countries where the Roman religion has prevailed, there has been no lack. p. 487, Para. 3.
The hordes of Saracens and Turks were let loose as a scourge and punishment upon apostate Christendom. Men suffered the punishment, but learned therefrom no lesson. p. 487, Para. 4.
© by S. D. Goeldner,