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1. And when he opened the Seventh Seal, silence ensued in the heaven about half an hour.
2. And I saw the seven angels, who stood in the sight of the Deity, and seven trumpets had been given to them.
3. And another angel came, and stood by the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him many odors, that he might cast for the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which is in the sight of the throne. 4. And the smoke of the perfumes for the prayers of the saints ascended from the hand of the angel in the presence of the Deity. 5. And the angel took the censer, and filled it from the fire of the altar, and cast into the earth, and there were voices and thunders and lightnings, and an earthquake.
6. And the seven angels having the seven trumpets prepared themselves that they might sound.
7. And the first angel sounded, and there was hail and fire which had been mingled with blood, and it was cast into the earth: and the third of the earth and the third of the trees was consumed, and every green blade was burned up.
8. And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire, was cast into the sea; and the third of the sea became blood. 9. And the third of the creatures in the sea having souls, died; and the third of the ships was destroyed.
10. And the third angel sounded, and a great star blazing as it were a torch fell out of the heaven; and it fell upon the third of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters.
11. And the name of the star is called the Apsinthian; and the third of the waters became undrinkable; and many of the men died out of the waters, because they were made bitter.
12. And the fourth angel sounded, and the third of the sun, and the third of the moon, and the third of the stars, was smitten; so that the third of them was darkened, and the day shone not the third of it, and the night likewise.
13. And I saw, and heard from one, an eagle flying in mid-heaven, saying in a loud voice, "Woe, woe, woe, to the dwellers upon the earth, from the remaining voices of the trumpet-call of the three angels hereafter to sound."
This seal covers the whole period from A.D. 324 to ...[the millenium]. It therefore exhibits the judgments specially allotted to the seven trumpets, seven vials, and seven thunders.
It treats of the development of the Imperialized Laodicean Apostasy into "the Powers that be" of the Greco-Latin, or Roman Habitable, under the forms of the Beast of the Sea, the Beast of the Earth (Apoc. xiii), the Scarlet-coloured Beast and Drunken Babylonian Rider (Apoc. xvii. 1-6), and the Image of the Beast (Apoc. xiii. 14-18; xv. 2); and of the relation of these powers to the Fugitive Woman, and to the Remnant of her Seed, "who keep the commandments of the Deity, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Apoc. xii. 17).
They are prevailed against (Apoc. xiii. 7; xi. 2; Dan. vii. 21); but the Ancient of Days comes to their relief; the tide of adversity is turned; the Saints become victorious; the Apostasy, incorporated in the blasphemous Names and Denominations of "Christendom" is abolished; and they take possession of the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven (Dan. vii. 27) of Daniel's Four Beasts.
ARENA OF THE SEVENTH SEAL
"The earth and the whole habitable" (Apoc. xvi. 14), or, Territory of Nebuchadnezzar's Metallic Image.
1 <And when he opened the Seventh Seal, silence ensued in the heaven about half an hour.>
Silence in the heaven
John was informed, that the opening of the seventh seal would be marked by silence coming into existence in the heaven -- egeneto si ge en to ourano. This implies, that before the opening of the seventh seal there was the absence of silence; in other words, that there was noise or tumult in the heaven.
The uproar must have been very great, from the fact, that the silence ensuing was deemed worthy of prophetic annunciation. When we are reminded of the events of the sixth seal, there is no difficulty in conceiving the nature of the uproar. The "great red Dragon" of paganism was then in the heaven, and the Michael-Power also. These were two antagonist forces which could not dwell together in unity: so war broke out between them, and they contended for the throne of Deity in the heaven. And so it is written,
"There was war in the heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the Dragon; and the Dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was a place found of them still in the heaven" (xii. 7,8).
This expulsion of the Pagan Dragon-Power from the heaven left the Michael-Power sole occupant of the throne in the heaven; so that the final victory over the Dragon-Power placed the Michael-Chieftain, who was the new born Son of the Woman, upon the apocalyptic throne of the Deity, to which he had been "caught up" by a career of conquest during eighteen years, in which he never lost a battle.
Being therefore, only one supreme power in the heaven, all uproar between powers in the heaven would necessarily cease, and "silence" would ensue. Hence, "silence in the heaven" was peace in the political aerial -- the stillness and quietude of a calm after one storm; and before the outburst of another.
...The "silence in the heaven" then, was a period of tranquility in the region of government, extending from the terminus of the sixth seal, signalized by the decisive battle of Chrysopolis, A.D. 324; and reaching to "the voices," which resulted from the "fire cast into the earth," by the Angel-Priest of the Apocalyptic Temple (ver. 5).
Between these two epochs, the reign of the conqueror was undisturbed by rivals or usurpers; and he was enabled to bequeath to his own family the inheritance of the Roman world. "The general peace," says Gibbon, "which he maintained during the last fourteen years of his reign, was a period of apparent splendor rather than of real prosperity; and the old age of Constantine was disgraced by the opposite yet reconcilable views of rapaciousness and prodigality."
Having no competitor to dispute his authority, he might have been the happiest of rulers, but for the corrupting influence of prosperity; and the quarrels of the Arian and Trinitarian factions of his new religion.
Constantine reigned after this battle till A.D. 337, in which he died on May 22. This gives a little over thirteen years to his death. But to these thirteen years there are four months to be added, as the silence continued so long after the emperor's death.
Half an Hour
Tranquility reigned in the newly constituted government of the Roman Dragon hos hemiorion, about half an hour. This is symbolic time, or time in miniature. The apocalypse in the general is a miniature representation of an original conception of Divine Wisdom, which, when manifested in the accomplished facts will vastly exceed in magnitude the terms in which the conception is expressed. Hence, all its particulars partake of this general character, as parts partake of the nature of the whole.
Thus, in respect of number, the 144,000 is a miniature representation of an undefined multitude vastly in excess of that numerical square of twelve thousand; and in respect of person, an angel represents a class of agents; so also it is with time; the times of the apocalypse are upon a miniature, but proportional scale; and suited to the nature of the subject in hand.
...Now, a moon or month is the twelfth of a cycle. If the cycle be of 360 days, it will be 30 days; but if the cycle be of 360 years, then the month will be 30 years. Month is used six times in the prophecy; twice in the singular. Except in Apoc. xxii. 2, it always stands for 30 years, or the twelfth of a time.
Being, then, the twelfth of a cycle, it is also the Hour of that cycle. The small cycle of light, called a day, which is the root of all the greater cycles, was divided by the Jews into twelve equal parts; and the night into other twelve. If they had divided their day-cycle into twenty-four hours, as we do, a month and an hour would not be equivalent. But their division, which is the scriptural one, makes a month and an hour representative of twelfths of a whole to be determined by the subject treated of.
In Apoc. ix. 15 there is a notable proportional use of a symbolic hour, day, month, and year. Here hour is proportional of day; and month similarly proportional of year. The nature of the subject excludes the idea of "day" signifying a day; and "year" signifying 365 days, or year; besides that symbolic time, which is time in miniature, always represents time longer than itself. Here, "day" stands for year; and "year" for a term of years; so that the "hour" is the twelfth of the "day" or 30 days; and the "month," the twelfth of the "year," or time of years, and therefore equal to 30 years.
This is the only place in the apocalypse where hour stands for thirty days. It occurs in seven other places after this; but in all these it stands alone, and represents a judicial period of thirty years, or the twelfth of a time.
But, in ch. viii. 1, are we to understand the Half-hour, as fifteen days or fifteen years? or, as the literalist theory of thirty minutes? The literalist notion is too ridiculous for a serious refutation. A silence of fifteen days would be no novelty, or new thing to predict; for during the uproarious period of the sixth seal, there were many "fifteen days" of silence; but there was no "silence in the heaven as it were fifteen years."
This was peculiar to the opening of the Seventh Seal. We conclude, then, that the half-hour in the text, and it is the only half-hour specified in the New Testament, is a period of fifteen years. The silence continued about that time. It may have fallen a little short. If it had been written in the text egeneto sige hemiorion, silence ensued half an hour, then we should expect to find that it continued exactly fifteen years; but the insertion of hos, about, before hemiorion, leads us to expect the probability of the silence not being prolonged to the full measure of half an hour.
The reader will understand that during that Half-hour Period of the Seventh Seal, there were TWO TEMPLES in the Greco-Latin, or Roman, world. They were two hostile establishments which would tolerate no fellowship between their respective members.
The one was constituted of all who styled one another Arians and Athanasians; of all who professed a religion of sacraments; worshipped the ghosts of martyrs; venerated relics; practised celibacy and monachism; commanded to abstain from meats; and gloried in their alliance with the State. This was the temple in which Paul in 2 Thess. ii. 4, predicted "the Man of Sin, the Son of Perdition," would appear.
...The worst of Constantine's character came out in the half-hour of this seal. "The conclusion of his reign" says Gibbon, "degraded him from the rank which he had acquired among the most deserving of the Roman princes. In the life of Constantine, we contemplate a hero, who had long inspired his subjects with love, and his enemies with terror, degenerating into a cruel and dissolute monarch, corrupted by his fortune, or raised by conquest above the necessity of dissimulation.
An impartial narrative of the executions, or rather murders, which sullied his declining years, will suggest to our most candid thoughts, the idea of a prince who could sacrifice without reluctance the laws of justice, and the feelings of nature, to the dictates either of his passions or of his interest."
Such was the Imperial Bishop of the Catholic Temple, in which superstition and self righteousness flourished vigorously; while "the truth as it is in Jesus" was utterly unknown, or disregarded. The patience of Deity, however, waited until about the end of the half-hour, when he began to visit upon the family of Constantine, "voices and thunderings and lightnings and earthquake," in retribution of his crimes against the guiltless, his spiritual usurpation, and his blasphemy against heaven.
3 <And another angel came, and stood by the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him many odors, that He might cast for the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which is in the sight of the throne>.
Yahoshua the mediator in heaven
In this the angel, the altar, the golden censer, and the golden altar, are all symbolical of one body the temple of the Deity; or the saints in their spiritual apparatus of worship.
The sealed of the 144,000 Foursquare Community prayed, and, in so doing, sent up many perfumes from their burning hearts, which smoked before the Deity.
...The judicial fire, therefore, went forth from the Christ-Altar, and kindled judgment upon the Arians and Athanasians of the Laodicean Apostasy, styled "the earth," illustrating the saying of Paul, "our Deity is a consuming fire."
4 <And the smoke of the perfumes for the prayers of the saints ascended from the hand of the angel in the presence of the Deity>.
5 And the angel took the censer, and filled it < from the> fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.
...The answer to the prayers from the Divine Temple is dramatized by the angel filling the censer or frankincense bowl with fire of the altar of sacrifice and casting it into the earth. This scene indicates that the judgments inflicted upon the church-peoples or Gentiles of "Christendom" are in the interest of the true believers. In writing to these, Paul says,
"All things are for your sakes" (2 Cor. iv. 15).
These voices, and thunders, and lightnings, and earthquake, were for the sake of those "whose prayers ascended before the Deity out of the angel's hand." The voices, and so forth, would work no harm to them, provided they
"loved the Deity, and were the called according to his purpose" (Rom. viii. 28).
...The judicial fire, therefore, went forth from the Christ-Altar, and kindled judgment upon the Arians and Athanasians of the Laodicean Apostasy, styled "the earth," illustrating the saying of Paul, "our Deity is a consuming fire."
Though cast out of the third of the heaven, as indicated by his Tail drawing the third of the stars of the heaven, and casting them into the earth (Apoc. xii. 4), the Dragon still retained power in "the earth and sea" of the Greco-Latin polity (Apoc. xii. 12,13,15,16; vii. 3). His power there was a "woe" to their indwellers, not excepting those who professed the faith of Jesus.
Retribution, however, followed in his entire exclusion from the heaven, A.D. 324 (Apoc. xii. 8); upon which the sealing of the 144,000 servants of the Deity, and the period of "silence, about half an hour," began.
Further retribution was suspended during the silence; but this being ended, the prayers of all the saints, which ascended during the silence as a cloud of incense from the golden altar of the Tabernacle of the Testimony, before the Deity (Apoc. viii. 3,4), were answered by "voices, and thunders, and lightnings, and earthquake," (Apoc. viii. 5); which preceded the preparation of the Seven Trumpeters to sound against the earth and sea (Apoc. viii. 6).
And there were voices
The Angel of the Golden Altar, as we have seen, represents a community -- a community consisting of all the saints, with their Chief within the Veil, contemporary with the generation existing in the days of the silence, the voices, the thunders, the lightnings, and the earthquake. These saints were the sufferers by the persecutions of Constantine and his clergy; their prayers would therefore be for deliverance, and divine retribution upon the oppressor who was ruling them unrighteously with a rod of iron (xii. 5).
"And shall not the Deity avenge his own elect, who cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you, said Jesus, that he will avenge them speedily" (Luke xviii. 7).
This was verified in the instance of these saints. Before the half hour of silence was fully expired, their frankincense bowl was dramatically filled with fire of the sacrificial altar, and it was cast into the earth. This symbolic action indicates the nature of their prayers. Fire is the symbol of judgment against those upon whom it falls; and it was cast in answer to the prayers of all the saints; by which therefore we may know that they had been praying for the avengement of their wrongs upon the heads of their enemies.
... The Imperial Bishop of the Laodicean Apostasy, and his Hierarchy of Arian and Athanasian Priests, dwelt in the heaven out of which the Great Red Dragon had been cast, and from which silence was about to depart. The saints lived under this heaven, not in it; and were sun-stricken and scorched by the day-star of its firmament (vii. 16).
Voices were the first results of the Lamb's response to the prayers of his saints. The offering of perfumes in the tabernacle being ended, the noise began in the court without. They were the voices of the Lamb rendering recompense to his enemies. On the twenty-second of May, A.D. 337, death terminated the life of Constantine, at the age of sixty-four.
Thunders are international wars, whose echoes reverberate through the heavens of the respective states.
The twenty-four years of the reign of Constantius were a period of "voices, and thunders, and lightnings," ending in "earthquake." The whole period was characterized by these, which, affecting the so-called "christian church," evinced the displeasure of Heaven, and the indignant contempt of the Deity for its unholy and blasphemous speculations on the consubstantiality or likeness of his Son. "The christian religion, which, in itself," says Ammianus truly, "is plain and simple, Constantius confounded by the dotage of superstition.
Instead of reconciling the (Arian and Athanasian) parties by the weight of his authority, he cherished and propagated, by verbal disputes, the differences which his vain curiosity had excited. The highways were covered with troops of bishops galloping from every side to the assemblies which they called synods; and while they labored to reduce the whole sect (of catholics) to their own particular opinions, the public establishment of the posts was almost ruined by their hasty and repeated journeys."
...On the frontier, between the Roman and Persian empires, there was a continued roar of conflict between the two nations from the death of Constantine through all the reign of Constantius. The irregular incursions of the light troops alternately spread terror and devastation beyond the Tigris and Euphrates, from the gates of Ctesiphon to those of Antioch.
This active service was performed by the Arabs of the desert, who were divided in their interest and affections; some of their independent chiefs favoring the King of Persia, whilst others had engaged their doubtful fidelity to the Roman emperor. The more grave and important operations of the war were conducted with equal vigor; and the armies of Rome and Persia encountered each other in nine bloody fields, which, with the campaign of Julian, resulted in the slaughter of thousands of catholics and pagans; and the restoration of five provinces beyond the Tigris, the impregnable city of Nisibis, and certain places in Mesopotamia, to the Persians.
But beside this long war in the East, there were thunders also in the West, that uttered their voices with terrible effect. While the lightning of civil discord was illuminating the heaven with its glare, a numerous swarm of Franks and Allemanni crossed the Rhine, and inflicted upon the catholics of the empire incalculable misery.
Forty-five flourishing cities, Tongres, Cologne, Treves, Worms, Spires, Strasburg, &c., besides a far greater number of towns and villages, were pillaged, and for the most part reduced to ashes. The scenes of their devastations were three times more extensive than that of their conquests.
At a still greater distance the open towns of Gaul were deserted, and the inhabitants of the fortified cities, who trusted to their strength and vigilance, were obliged to content themselves with such supplies of corn as they could raise on the vacant land within the enclosure of their walls.
Under these melancholy circumstances, Julian, the brother of Gallus, was appointed Caesar, A.D. 356, and sent to Gaul, as he expressed it himself, to exhibit the vain image of imperial greatness. Though profoundly ignorant of the practical arts of war and government, the active vigor of his own genius, aided by the wisdom and experience of Sallust, an officer of rank, enabled him soon to acquire a reputation in both departments in advance of his contemporaries.
In Aug. A.D. 357, he encountered thirty-five thousand of the bravest warriors of Germany under the fierce Chnodomar, and with a small army of thirteen thousand men gave them a signal overthrow in the obstinate and bloody battle of Strasburg. Chnodomar was made prisoner, six thousand of the Allemanni slain, and the country relieved by the retreat of their compatriots across the upper Rhine.
After repulsing the Allemanni, he thundered against the Franks, who were seated nearer to the ocean on the confines of Gaul and Germany. In the spring of A.D. 358, he attacked these barbarians, the most formidable and warlike of the German tribes, dispersed in predatory hordes from Cologne to the ocean. While they supposed him to be in his winter quarters at Paris, he appeared among them with his legions; and by the terror, as well as by the success, of his arms, soon reduced their suppliant tribes to implore the clemency, and to obey the commands of the conqueror.
Thus, in 359, the thunders ceased to roll, and the victories of Julian suspended, for a short time, the inroads of the barbarians, whom he had expelled and thrice invaded, and delayed the ruin of the Roman empire in the West.
... lightnings denote civil discord and revolutions in the government.
Civil war first struck when Magnentius became a usurper against the emporer Constantius.
The tragic voice which announced the murder of the Emperor Constans by the agents of Magnentius A.D. 350, developed an important revolution. The authority of the regicide was acknowledged through the whole extent of the two great praefectures of Gaul and Italy; and the usurper prepared by every act of oppression, to collect a treasure to supply the expenses of a civil war.
Subsequently Constantius provoked another civil war by plotting against the army serving under Julian
In April A.D. 360, while attending to the public affairs in Paris, Julian was surprised by the hasty arrival of a tribune and a notary, with positive orders from the emperor, that four entire legions, and three hundred of the bravest from each of the remaining bands, should instantly begin their march for the frontiers of Persia.
This numerous detachment constituted the strength of the Gallic army, which loved and admired Julian; despised, and perhaps, hated Constantius; and dreaded the laborious march, the Persian arrows, and the burning deserts of Asia. If Julian complied with the orders he had received, he subscribed his own destruction, and that of the people, who would again be exposed to the invasion of the Germans. But a positive refusal was an act of rebellion, and a declaration of war.
After a painful conflict he ordered the troops to march. A scene of general distress ensued. But the grief of an armed multitude is soon converted into rage. Their line of march was through Paris, in the suburbs of which they were to be reviewed by Julian. On their approach he went out to meet them. He addressed them in a studied oration, and then dismissed them to quarters.
At the hour of midnight their discontent became furious. With sword, and bows, and torches in hand they rushed into the suburbs; encompassed the palace; and careless of future dangers, pronounced the fatal and irrevocable words, JULIAN AUGUSTUS! He earnestly protested against their treason, but it was useless; they repeatedly assured him, that if he wished to live, he must consent to reign.
Thus, the lightning of revolution and civil discord again began to flash its fires in the political aerial. Julian was a worshipper of Jupiter, the Sun, Mars, Minerva, and all the other deities of the old superstition; while his cousin Constantius was the Chief Bishop of the Apostasy. Hence, they were rival champions of the old and new superstitions of the empire, which were now about to contend for the dominion of the world.
While offering peace to Constantius, he made the most vigorous preparations for war. The cruel persecution of the adherents of Magnentius had filled Gaul with outlaws and robbers. These flocked to the standard of Julian. Several months were ineffectually consumed in negociations at the distance of three thousand miles from Paris to Antioch; at length, perceiving that his adversary was implacable, he boldly resolved to commit his life and fortune to the chance of a civil war; and though some weeks before he had celebrated the catholic festival of the Epiphany, made a public declaration that he committed the care of his safety to the Immortal Gods; and thus publicly renounced the religion, as well as the friendship of Constantius.
Julian the pagan emporer humbles the Laodicean catholics
The storm of thunders and lightnings being expended, the earth into which the fire from the angel's frankincense bowl was cast, began to shake. The seasonable death of Constantius A.D. 361, delivered the Roman Empire from the calamities of civil war, which had hitherto progressed without serious effusion of blood.
Julian was now acknowledged as emperor by the whole empire. His throne was the seat of philosophy and science, falsely so-called, heathen piety, and vanity. He despised the honors, renounced the pleasures, and discharged with incessant diligence the duties of his exalted station.
The reformation of the imperial court was one of the first and most necessary acts of Julian's revolutionary government.
...By a single edict, he reduced the palace of Constantinople to an immense desert, and dismissed with ignominy the whole train of slaves and dependents. The splendid and effeminate dress of the Asiatics, the curls and paint, the collars and bracelets, which had appeared so ridiculous in the person of "the first christian emperor," CONSTANTINE, were rejected with contempt by his philosophic and pagan nephew, Julian.
But the "earthquake" would have only slightly shaken the Apostasy, if Julian had only corrected the abuses, without punishing the crimes, of his catholic predecessor's reign.
...He transferred to the priests of his own superstition the management of the liberal allowances from the public revenue which had been granted to their church by Constantine and his sons. The proud system of clerical honours and immunities was levelled to the ground, testamentary donations were forbidden, and the catholic priests were confounded with the last and most ignominious class of the people.
...On his consecrated lands, which had been given to the clergy, and on the ruins of paganism, the catholics had frequently erected their conventicles. The ground had to be cleared of these, and the stately temples of the idols which had been levelled, and the precious ornaments which had been converted to catholic uses, had to be restored, making a very large amount of damages and debt. But the catholics, who had robbed and destroyed the property of "heretics" as well as pagans, in this, the dark hour of retribution, were unable to pay.
The Roman law, therefore, gave the claimants a right to the debtors' persons. They were, consequently, seized by Julian's ministers, and subjected to bodily pains and torments. In this the moment of their prosperity, they dragged their mangled bodies through the streets, pierced them by the spits of cooks and the distaffs of enraged women, and the entrails of catholic priests and their ecclesiastical females, after they had been tasted by these bloody fanatics, were mixed with barley and contemptuously thrown to the unclean animals of the city.
...Their present hardships, intolerable as they might appear, were considered as a slight prelude to impending calamities, which were suspended till their crafty oppressor's victorious return from the Persian war, when laying aside the mask of dissimulation, he would cause the amphitheatres to stream with the blood of hermits and bishops; and that catholics who persevered in the profession of their opinions would be deprived of the common benefits of nature and society.
These gloomy forebodings of deserved punishment, however, were suddenly dispelled by the death of Julian, who was mortally wounded, June 26, A.D. 363. He was pierced by a Persian javelin, in the thirty-second year of his age, after a reign of one year and eight months from the death of Constantius. He was the last of the house of Constantine, which was left without an heir, and the empire without a master, by his unexpected death.
The trembling of the catholic world subsided, and the military election of Jovian restored tranquility to the church and state.
6 And the 7 angels <having> the 7 trumpets prepared themselves <that they might> sound.
The reader will observe that, during this half-hour of silence in the heaven in which the prayers of the sealed saints are odoriferously and fragrantly ascending, the Seven Angel-Trumpeters are standing inactive before Deity. They are represented, in ch. viii. 2, as having received their trumpets, but they are not in the attitude of sounding.
The powers they represent are quiescent; for, in ch. vii. 1-3, four of them -- the first four to sound -- were commanded not to operate until the sealing was effected to a due degree. They stand by, therefore, waiting during the half-hour of incense-burning, during the "voices, and thunders, and lightnings, and earthquake," and during all the years elapsing between the earthquake and the consummation of the sealing, when they "prepare themselves to sound" (viii. 6).
The temple and altar of the Deity are measured, which is equivalent to saying that the saints who constitute the temple and altar are measured. Their measurement is 144,000 furlongs, or 144 cubits. This is the "measurement of the Man, that is, of an Angel" (Apoc. xxi. 17).
None are included in this measurement who are not in the Man, who have not believed into Christ, and are, consequently, not members of the One Body, which is the almighty angel or Messenger of the Apocalypse.
PREPARATION FOR SOUNDING
The seven angels, which John tells us in ch. viii. 2, he saw standing before the Deity, and to whom were given seven trumpets, he further informs us, in the sixth verse, "prepared themselves to sound." Though they had been commissioned in the days of Constantine, they had also been forbidden to execute judgment until the sealing of the 144,000 was duly effected. Their preparing to sound was no part of their sounding.
When the trumpets were given them they were quiescent, and quiescent they remained during the "voices, and thunders, and lightnings, and earthquake" of the reigns of Constantius and Julian; but, when the earthquake was over, and the Catholic Apostasy found unexpected deliverance in the military election of JOVIAN, a trinitarian catholic, nothing improved by the well merited castigation it had experienced, it progressed from bad to worse, until the forebearance of the Deity had attained the limit which, in His wise foreknowledge of all things, He had fixed, and beyond which He had predetermined that the blasphemous superstition should not continue unscathed by the fierceness of His devouring indignation.
From the death of Julian, A.D. 363, to the death of Theodosius the Great, and the revolt of the Goths under Alaric, A.D. 395, a period of thirty-two years, was the period also of the preparation for sounding, which terminated in the Gothic blast of the First Wind-Trumpet.
At the end of this PREPARATION-PERIOD, the Catholic Imperiality was finally divided into Two SOVEREIGNTIES, which answered to the TWO IRON LEGS of Nebuchadnezzar's Image -- the sovereignty of Constantinople under Arcadius, and the sovereignty of Rome under Honorius, both of them the worthless sons of the catholic tyrant, "Theodosius the Great."
This preparation period of thirty-two years includes the reigns of Jovian, Valentinian and Valens, Gratian, and Theodosius -- of Jovian, who reigned about seven months; of Valentinian, who ruled twelve years; of Gratian, who, after reigning four years, associated Theodosius with himself in the purple; and of Theodosius, who reigned sixteen years, or till his decease, A.D. 395.
The sounding of the seven angels was, and is (for they will not have ceased to sound until the reign of the saints shall have been established over all the apocalyptic earth), the execution of judgment upon the Laodicean Catholic Apostasy in its imperio-regal constitution.
During this preparation-period it made rapid and gigantic progress in developing "the mystery of iniquity,"
"after the working of the Satan with all power and signs and wonders of falsehood, and with all deceivableness of the iniquity in them who are being destroyed."
It rapidly filled up that measure of iniquity which rendered it no longer expedient to defer judgment -- to restrain the tempest of "hail and fire mingled with blood," which, as a devouring blast, should scorch and torment it unto death.
The Apostasy in the Preparation-Period
....As soon as Jovian was enthroned, he secured the legal establishment of the catholic superstition. The insidious edicts of Julian were abolished, and the immunities of the catholic apostasy were restored and enlarged, which gained for him, of course, the loud and sincere applause of its devotees. The episcopal leaders of their contending sects, convinced, by experience, how much their fate would depend on the earliest impressions made on the mind of an untutored soldier, hastened to the court at Antioch.
"The highways of the east were crowded with Homoousian, and Arian, and Semi-Arian, and Eunomian bishops, who struggled to outstrip each other in the holy race for the prize of the imperial favour; the apartments of the palace resounded with their clamors, and the ears of Jovian were assailed, and perhaps astonished, by the Babel-mixture of metaphysics and passionate invectives".
......After Jovian's death, Valentinian was elected by the military to the absolute government of the Roman empire. In thirty days after his own election, he associated his brother Valens as his colleague in the emperorship. In June, A.D. 364, they divided the empire between them; Valentinian bestowing on his brother the rich praefecture of the Eastern Leg of the Babylonian Image, from the Lower Danube to the confines of Persia; whilst he reserved to himself the three praefectures of Illyricum, Italy, and Gaul, constituting the Western Leg, from the extremity of Greece to the Caledonian rampart, and from the rampart to the foot of Mount Atlas.
This division being amicably arranged, preparation for the angel-trumpeters was advanced a stage. The Emperor of the West established his temporary residence at Milan; and the Emperor of the East returned to Constantinople, to assume the dominion of fifty provinces.
...The pagans, the Jews, and all the various sects which acknowledged the divine authority of Christ, were protected by the laws from arbitrary power, or popular insult; nor did he prohibit any mode of worship, except those secret and criminal practices which abused the name of religion for the dark purposes of vice and disorder.
...What Gibbon styles "the splendid vices of the church of the Rome," in the reign of Valentinian, and under the spiritual direction of Damasus, its bishop, have been impartially stated by Ammianus, who says, "The praefecture of Juventius was accompanied with peace and plenty; but the tranquillity of his government was soon disturbed by a bloody sedition of the distracted people.
The ardor of Damasus and Ursinus to seize the episcopal seat surpassed the ordinary measure of human ambition. They contended with the rage of party; the quarrel was maintained by the wounds and death of their followers; and the praefect, unable to resist or appease the tumult, was constrained, by superior violence, to retire into the suburbs.
Damasus prevailed; the well-disputed victory remained on the side of his faction; one hundred and thirty-seven dead bodies were found in the Basilica of Sicininus, where the christians (!) hold their religious assemblies; and it was long before the angry minds of the people resumed their accustomed tranquility.
...On the death of Valentinian, A.D. 375, Gratian, his son, a youth of seventeen, and his brother, Valentinian II, then only four years old became emperors of the West, so that the government of the Roman world was now exercised in the united names of Valens and his two nephews. On the fall of Valens in the battle of Hadrianople, A.D. 378, Gratian appointed Theodosius his successor over the East.
Gratian was a feeble and indolent character, piously credulous, and a mere tool in the hands of ecclesiastical hypocrites, who procured from him an edict to punish, as a capital offence, the violation, neglect, or even the ignorance, of what they were pleased to call the divine law.
This would give them power to persecute and destroy "the servants of the Deity," then being impressed with his seal. The murder of Gratian did not improve the situation; for Theodosius, a name dear to the Apostasy, was pious and cruel, with strength and activity of mind.
Among the benefactors of the catholic church, the fame of Constantine has been rivalled by the glory of Theodosius, who assumed the merit of subduing Arianism, and abolishing the worship of idols in the Roman world.
Theodosius was the first of the emperors immersed in what the apostasy terms "the true faith of the Trinity."
...Besides the condemnation of divine justice, they must expect to suffer the severe penalties which our authority guided by heavenly wisdom, shall think proper to inflict upon them."
This edict of Theodosius caused great joy to the catholics. He convened, A.D. 381, a council at Constantinople, of one hundred and fifty bishops, to complete the theological system which had been established in the council of Nice. They decreed the equal Deity of the Holy Ghost, which, upon their authority, has been received by all the deluded nations and all the churches of the Apostasy.
... The conflict and fermentation of so many opposite interests and tempers inflamed the passions of the bishops; and their ruling passions were the love of gold and the love of dispute.
...This religion of Constantine achieved, in less than a hundred years, the final conquest of the old idolatry in all the Roman empire; but the catholic victors themselves were completely subdued by the heathen arts of their vanquished rivals.
..."As soon as," says Gibbon, "the death of Julian had relieved the barbarians from the terror of his name, the most sanguine hopes of rapine and conquest excited the nations of the east, of the north, and of the south."
...About the middle of the fourth century the Burgundians, a warlike and numerous people of the Vandal race, occupied the countries on either side of the Elbe, insensibly swelled into a powerful kingdom, and finally settled in the days of the sounding on a flourishing province of the catholic empire.
...In the preparation for sounding, A.D. 371, under the reign of Valentinian, the maritime provinces of Gaul were afflicted by the Saxons. They landed from their frail coasters, and spread desolation among the relic-worshippers with fire and sword. They were at length repelled, however, as the time of their permanent settlement under the sounding of the angels had not yet arrived.
...Civil war between Procopius an usurper, and Valens, A.D. 366 became the occasion of the Goths crossing the Danube to foment, as the allies of Procopius, the evil discord of the catholics of the East. The suppression of the usurpation by Valens, left him free to carry on the war against the Goths alone. "But," says Gibbon, "the events scarcely deserve the attention of posterity, except as the preliminary steps," or preparation, "of the approaching decline and fall of the empire."
The war, which had inflicted much evil on both sides, terminated A.D. 369; after which the Goths remained tranquil about six years; till they were violently impelled against the Catholic empire by an innumerable host of Scythians, who appeared to issue from the frozen regions of the north.
...On the twenty-first of July, the greatest part of their (Catholic) empire was shaken by a violent and destructive convulsion of the earth. The shores of the Mediterranean were left dry by the sudden retreat of the sea, and valleys and mountains were laid bare, which had never since the Mosaic Era of the globe been exposed to the sun.
But the waters soon returned with the weight of an immense and irresistible deluge, which was severely felt on the coasts of Sicily, of Dalmatia, of Greece, and of Egypt; large boats were transported, and lodged on the roofs of houses, or at the distance of two miles from the shore; the ghost-worshippers, with their habitations, were swept away by the waters; and the city of Alexandria, the origenic birthplace, and alternate throne of Homoousianism and Homoiousianism, annually commemorated the fatal day, on which fifty thousand Trinitarians and Arians lost their factious and blasphemous lives in the inundation.
This calamity astonished and terrified the subjects of Rome, who rightly considered these alarming strokes as the prelude only of still more dreadful calamities, which would ultimate in the submersion of the fabric of their world.
From the reign of Valens was a most disastrous period for the Laodicean Apostasy. "The fall of the Roman empire," says Gibbon, "may be justly dated from the reign of Valens."
...Such, then, is the historical illustration of "this unhappy period," as Gibbon styles it, in which the Lamb was gathering his hosts and bringing them into position on the four corners of the earth, that they might be prepared to subvert the western empire of Rome when the sealing of the 144,000 should have sufficiently advanced.
His hosts were in position, the battle was arrayed, and nothing remained but that the trumpet should sound "its harsh and mournful music" for the dreadful combat to begin, that was to hurl fire and blood and bitterness into the highways and fastnesses of catholic superstition and crime.
But, before proceeding to expound these "winds" and "woes" in detail, it may assist the reader in the comprehension of so much of the Seventh Seal as is hitherto interpreted in this work, to present him with the following:
A.D. 324. Opening of the Seventh Seal, marked by the victory of Constantine over Licinius at Chrysopolis.
Silence in the heaven, a half hour begins.
337. Silence, or peace, ends.
During this half-hour period the Sealing of 144,000 proceeds (ch. vii), and the prayers of these saints ascend abundantly as incense of supplication and thanksgiving (viii. 3,4).
The silence ends with the ascension of the three sons of Constantine, who each reign independently over a distinct division of the catholic empire.
At their accession, "Fire is cast into the earth, and there were VOICES" (ver. 5). The two brothers and seven of the nephews of Constantine, the praefect Ablavius, and the patrician Optatus, massacred by order of the "pious" Constantius.
350. Constans, emperor of the "third" then comprising Italy, Africa, and the Western Illyricum, assassinated by order of a usurper.
354. Gallus, the Caesar, a nephew of Constantine, beheaded by Constantius.
"AND THERE WERE THUNDERS"
337. War between the Romans and Persians twenty three years.
356. War with the Allemanni and Franks.
357. War with the Quadi and Sarmatians.
"AND THERE WERE LIGHTNINGS"
340. Civil war between the sons of Constantine "the Great," Constans and Constantine, in which the latter is slain.
350. Usurpation of Magnentius and Vetranio, which produces a revolt throughout the praefectures of Italy and Gaul, with the Illyrian countries from the Danube to the extremity of Greece. The civil war continues three years.
355. Revolt and assassination of Sylvanus.
"AND THERE WAS AN EARTHQUAKE"
360. The Roman legions at Paris proclaim Julian, the last of the House of Constantine, emperor. He declares war against Constantius.
361. Constantius dies, and Julian, the pagan, is acknowledged. He reforms the court of the second "christian" "sovereign pontiff" by turning out a thousand barbers, a thousand cupbearers, a thousand cooks, and eunuchs numerous as clouds of insects on a summer's day.
He appoints the Tribunal of Chalcedon for the sanguinary punishment of the sycophants of the former reign. He deprives catholics of the power of tormenting heretics; orders the pagan temples to be reopened; re-establishes paganism as the religion of the empire; assumes the pago-sacerdotal functions of the Imperial Pontificate; erases the name of Christ from the Labarum; undertakes the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, with a view to a falsification of the prophecies; the enterprise is defeated by earthquake, whirlwind, and a fiery eruption from the foundations.
He orders christians to be called Galileans by way of contempt; abolishes clerical honours and immunities; prohibits "christians" from teaching schools, or practising medicine, or the liberal arts.
He degrades the clergy to the lowest class of the people; excludes catholics from all offices of trust and profit, on the plea that it is unlawful for christians to use the sword either of justice or war; condemns them to make full and ample satisfaction for the pagan temples they had destroyed in the last reign.
The result of this earthquake is recorded by the sophist, Libanus, in these words: "Every part of the world displayed the triumph of religion, and the grateful prospect of flaming altars, bleeding victims, the smoke of incense, and a solemn train of priests and prophets, without fear and without danger. The sound of prayer and music was heard on the tops of the highest mountains; and the same ox afforded a sacrifice for the gods, and a supper for their joyous votaries."
363. Julian is wounded in battle, and dies. Jovian, a catholic created emperor in his stead. He abolishes the edicts of Julian, and re-establishes the Catholic Apostasy as the legal and privileged religion of the state.
"The seven angels which have the seven trumpets prepare themselves to sound" (ver. 6).
395. Preparation-period ends with the death of Theodosius.
The Sealing and separating the 144,000 from among the catholics, previous to judgment, finished.
7 The 1st angel sounded, and there <was> hail and fire < which had been> mingled with blood, and <it was> cast <into> the earth: and <the third of the earth and> the 1/3 [latin third] of <the> trees was <consumed>, and <every green blade was burned up>.
Was it to be supposed that the Deity would permit these titled and wealthy blasphemers of His name, and tabernacle; these idolatrous "spirituals of wickedness in the
heavenlies;" to enjoy all the sweets of life and receive none of the plagues stored up as His artillery for the day of evil?
Such a winking at their iniquity was no part of His wisdom revealed to John. The trumpets
were so arranged in their sounding as to give the clergy "wormwood" and "blood to drink;" and to be "tormented" to the gnawing of their tongues for pain and sores - ch. 8:11; 16:6; 9:4,5; 16:10,11.
This judicial operation, however, was not to affect all parts and orders of the clerical dominion at one and the same epoch.
...the WESTERN CATHOLIC LIMB was Latin, with Rome for its Mother City.
All things being prepared -- the iniquity of the catholic apostasy being matured, the executioners of judgment upon it being ready, and the 144,000 to be taken from it duly sealed -- there was no longer any reason for holding back the tempests that were appointed to blast "the earth," "the sea," and "the trees," of the section of the catholic dominion doomed to judicial overthrow.
...These hurricanes of destruction are figuratively styled "trumpets;" and as "the wind" was to sweep over the four sections of the western Roman third of the fourth beast territory, each blasting current became a distinct trumpet.
...When an alarm was blown it portended great evil. This appears from Jer. 4:5, which says:
"Blow the trumpet in the land: cry, Gather together, and say, Assemble yourselves, and let us go into the defenced cities. Set up the standard toward Zion: retire, stay not, for I will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction. The lion is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way; he is gone forth from his place to make thy land desolate; and thy cities shall be laid waste without an inhabitant."
...Such is the illustration furnished by the Spirit of what he means by sounding trumpets of alarm against the guilty. The sounding of a plurality of trumpets was indicative of war. This is the indication of nearly all the trumpets of the apocalypse; not of every trumpet, but of all the Seven trumpets certainly.
...If they blew with only one, "then the princes, and heads of the thousands of Israel gathered themselves to Moses." None of the seven trumpets indicate a gathering of the saints, or princes and chiefs of the thousands of Israel, to the prophet like unto Moses. They only portend evil to the Apostasy - the throwing down of the walls of Babylon, when the last blast of the seventh shall have sounded against her from the breath of the kings and priests of Yahweh.
None of the seven trumpets indicate a gathering of the saints, or princes and chiefs of the thousands of Israel, to the prophet like unto Moses. They only portend evil to the Apostasy - the throwing down of the walls of Babylon, when the last blast of the seventh shall have sounded against her from the breath of the kings and priests of Yahweh.
...The first four trumpets, then, made the Western Praefecture the seat of war - the third part of the Roman Orb, consisting, as we have said, of Gaul, Spain, Britain, Italy and the province of Africa, an area upon which, were caused to bud forth by the judgments that befell, the TEN POWERS seen by Daniel and John as "Ten Horns" upon the Eighth Head of the Fourth Beast.
"All flesh is grass" (Isai. xl. 6). It may be either withered or green and flourishing. Before the blast of this trumpet is blown, the grass is "green"; but when the trumpet ceases to sound, it is burned up, and consequently black. Before the hail and fire mingled with blood descends, the catholic multitude, consisting of priests and people, are "green grass."
Eureka 8.6.1. Act 1.
The First Wind Trumpet - Goths
ALARIC and RHADAGAISUS were the leading spirits of what Claudian, a contemporary writer, styles the "hail-storm." With singular impolicy, Arcadius, the emperor of the eastern third, which fell to him on the death of Theodosius, made Alaric Master General of the Eastern Illyricum, and furnished him by so doing with arms from the imperial armories. During four years he made preparation for the invasion of the West.
...At this epoch, the first trumpet sounded, A.D. 395-400. "Fame," says Claudian, "encircling with terror her gloomy wings, proclaimed the march of the barbarian army, and filled Italy with consternation." The public distress was aggravated by the fears and reproaches of superstition. The pagans had no omens and sacrifices to consult; but the infatuated catholics still derived some comfort from what they regarded as the powerful intercession of saint and martyr ghosts.
The emperor Honorius was pre-eminent in fear. The approach of Alaric to Milan caused the Emperor to flee, and take refuge at Asta, a small fortified town, in Piedmont, in which he was hard pressed by the Goths. The timely arrival of the renowned Stilicho effected his deliverance. The Goths retreated, and were afterwards defeated at Pollentia.
But Alaric soon repaired his losses, and boldly resolved to break through the unguarded passes of the Apennine, to spread desolation over the fruitful face of Tuscany, and to conquer or die before the gates of Rome. Before, however, his threat was carried into effect, another "dark cloud collected along the coast of the Baltic, and burst in thunder upon the banks of the upper Danube."
Rhadagaisus, the king of the confederate Germans, passed without resistance the Alps, the Po, and the Apennine, A.D. 406. Many cities of Italy were pillaged or destroyed. Alaric was a catholic and a leader of a disciplined army; but, Rhadagaisus was a savage, and a stranger to the manners, religion and language of the South.
The senate and people of Rome, "the trees and green grass" of the State, trembled while yet his presence was before Florence, 180 miles from Rome, which he vowed to reduce to a heap of stones and ashes, and to sacrifice the most illustrious Romans on the altars of those gods who were appeased by human blood. But the fierceness of this portion of the hail and fire mingled with blood, was destined to expend itself before Florence.
The strategy of Stilicho again saved the capital, and caused more than a third of the vast and various multitude of Sueves, Vandals,and Burgundians, who adhered to the standard of Rhadagaisus, to perish on the fields of Tuscany. But one hundred thousand Germans still remained in arms after the death of Rhadagaisus; and the invasion of Gaul, which Alaric had designed, was executed by the remnant of the great army of the Baltic.
"This memorable passage (of the Rhine) of the Suevi, the Vandals, the Alani, and the Burgundians, who never afterwards retreated, may be considered," says Gibbon, "as the fall of the Roman empire in the countries beyond the Alps; and the barriers which had so long separated the savage and the civilized nations of the earth were, from that fatal moment, levelled with the ground."
The subjects of Rome in Gaul, "the trees" and "green grass" of the earth, unconscious of their approaching calamities, enjoyed the state of quiet and prosperity, which had seldom blessed the frontiers of Gaul. The banks of the Rhine were crowned, like those of the Tiber, with elegant houses, and well-cultivated farms. This scene of peace and plenty was suddenly changed into a desert, and the prospect of the smoking ruins could alone distinguish the solitude of nature from the desolation of man.
The flourishing city of Mentz was surprised and destroyed; and many thousand catholics massacred in their temples; and the consuming flames of war spread from the banks of the Rhine over the greatest part of the seventeen provinces of Gaul.
That rich and extensive country, as far as the ocean, the Alps, and the Pyrenees, was delivered to "the hail and fire mingled with blood" -- the barbarians, who drove before them, in a promiscuous crowd, the bishop, the senator, and the virgin, "the trees" and "green grass," laden with the spoils of their houses and altars; so that in less than two years, the divided troops of the savages of the Baltic advanced, without a combat, to the foot of the Pyrenees.
...After the death of Stilicho, he put his troops in motion, and A.D. 408, with bold and rapid marches, passed the Alps and the Po; pillaged several cities; proceeded on to Rimini, stretched his ravages along the sea coast of the Hadriatic, and meditated the conquest of the ancient Mistress of the World. An Italian hermit sought to turn him from his purpose; but was silenced by the solemn asseveration of Alaric, that "he felt a secret and preternatural impulse, which directed, and even compelled, his march to the gates of Rome."
During a period of six hundred and nineteen years "the Queen of the Earth" had never been violated by the presence of a foreign enemy. The hour had now arrived for this indignity.
...At length Alaric was induced to retire by the payment of an enormous ransom, and to enter upon negotiations for peace. But these failed through the imbecillity and infatuation of the administration. A second siege of Rome was formed; and a third followed, A.D. 410, Aug. 24. At midnight, the Salarian gate was silently opened, and the inhabitants were awakened by the tremendous sound of the Gothic trumpet. Eleven hundred and sixty-three years after the foundation of Rome, the imperial city, which had subdued and "civilized" so considerable a part of mankind, was delivered to the licentious fury of the tribes of Germany and Scythia.
...The victorious Goths evacuated Rome on the sixth day, and marched into the southern provinces of Italy, destroying whatever dared to oppose their passage, and plundering the unresisting country. The "hail and fire mingled with blood" continued to consume "the trees," and to burn up "the green grass" for a still longer period than that reached by the termination of the career of the King of the Goths. While meditating further conquests beyond the limits of this trumpet.
Alaric was suddenly arrested by the power of death, which fixed, after a short illness, the fatal term to his conquests. His sepulchre was built in the bed of the Consentia, a river in Bruttium, and adorned with the spoils and trophies of Rome. The secret of its location was concealed by restoring the waters to their accustomed channel, and the massacre of the prisoners employed in constructing it:- "The last Italian blood," remarks Elliot, "that mingled with the fire and hail," under the judgments of the first trumpet.
8 And the 2nd angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire, was cast into the sea: and the third of the sea became blood;
The Second Wind Trumpet - Vandals
What John saw represented was a destroying power of great force and magnitude, judicially affecting the population of the maritime arena of the Western Third of the Catholic empire.
A burning mountain
"A mountain burning with fire" is a destroying power; and the direct opposite to "mountains that bring peace to the people." A mountain burning with fire would throw the sea, if cast therein, into a bubbling and hissing agitation; it would be "a mountain of prey". cp Jer 51:25
"The sea" of this trumpet is the politico-geographical arena of its judgments. The mountain burning, or destroying, with fire was providentially "cast into the sea." "Sea, clear and serene, denotes an orderly collection of men in a quiet and peaceable state. When troubled and tumultuous, a collection of men in motion and war. Either way, waters signifying peoples (Apoc. xvii. 15), and the sea being a collection of waters, the sea becomes the symbol of people, gathered into one body politic, kingdom, or jurisdiction, or united in one design."
The four great beasts of Dan. vii were seen by the prophet to come up out of "the sea" in consequence of the four winds striving upon the Great Sea. The many headed beasts of the apocalypse are but symbolical parts of the fourth of these in Daniel. As the whole came up out of the sea, so therefore must its parts; and that sea, says the prophet, was "the Great Sea," or Mediterranean.
In this trumpet-prophecy "the sea" has a twofold signification, the symbolic and literal. The destroying power was to descend literally upon the maritime region washed by the waters of the Mediterranean; and symbolically upon the peoples inhabiting its coasts. The Romans used the term as inclusive of the islands and maritime coasts of what they regarded as their sea, because situate in the midst of their domain.
The third of the sea
This, the sea-third, is the sea of the same "third of the earth," that was subject to the emperor of the catholic west. It included the coasts of Spain, Gaul, Italy, and the Roman Africa; with the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, Majorca and Minorca. This sea-third "became blood."
Its peoples were put to the sword because of the enormity of their blasphemy, hypocrisy, and crime; for it is on account of these things that the judgments of heaven are poured out with volcanic fury and destruction upon mankind.
Eureka 8 Act 2.1.
9 And the 1/3 of the creatures in the sea, and had life <having souls>, died; and the third of the ships <was> destroyed.
[* This rendering differs from the Common Version: exonta psuchas, is there incorrectly turned into "had life," as if psuchas were a singular noun. Supposing probably that "the sea" was wholly literal, they did not like the idea of giving souls to fish. Had they thought that "the creatures were men and women, souls would doubtless have been ostentatiously paraded in the text.]
The introduction of ships into the prophecy indicates that the judgments of the second trumpet have especial regard to the naval and commercial interests of "the third."
Job's days "passed away as swift ships." Here ships are used as a metaphor signifying swiftness. In this, his days were analogous to ships. "They that go down to the sea in ships, do business in the great waters."
To destroy these ships, then, would be to destroy the business, whether naval or commercial: and to destroy those who worked them. In predicting this destruction, therefore, of the naval and commercial power of the western third's dominion, all that was necessary was to say, "the third of the ships was destroyed."
Eureka 8 Act 2.1.
AD 429 - Genseric the Vandal king
To the Vandal power was providentially assigned the judicial execution of the second trumpet upon the guilty catholic population of the west. Their work began A.D. 429, by their precipitating their destroying hosts, led by GENSERIC their king, upon the rich and productive province of Africa.
Gibbon styles him "the terrible Genseric; a name, which, in the destruction of the Roman empire, has deserved an equal rank with the names of Alaric and Attila." His ambition was without bounds and without scruples; and prompted him to any enterprise that promised plunder and dominion. His power was a volcanic mountain vomiting forth desolation and death upon what he styled "the guilty."
The discord of Aetius and Count Boniface, two generals of the Western empire, was the fatal and immediate cause of the eruption of this Vandal volcano, which resulted in the loss of Africa and the islands. Boniface, then in arms against the administration, invited Genseric to an alliance. The Vandal king readily accepted the invitation; and, by the assistance of the Spaniards, who, anxiously desiring to get rid of them, furnished him with ships, he transported his Vandals over the Straits of Gibraltar to the coast of Mauritania where he mustered about 50,000 effective men.
When Genseric landed in Africa, he became the deliverer of the Donatists, who were then suffering the most rigorous persecution by the catholic officials, lay and clerical.
...At the time of invasion, Africa was so fruitful as to deserve the name of the common granary of Rome and of mankind.
... The nobility and senators of Carthage were condemned to perpetual banishment; and crowds of exiles, of fugitives, and of ingenuous captives, filled the provinces of the east and
west. With the capture and sack of Carthage, all resistance to the "mountain burning with fire" ceased in Africa. By the separation of this province, the internal prosperity of Rome was irretrievably destroyed.
The rapacious Vandals confiscated the patrimonial estates of the emperors and cut off the regular subsidies. The distress of the Romans was soon aggravated by an unexpected attack, June 15, A.D. 455.
...He [Genseric] resolved to create a naval power, and his bold resolution was executed with steady and active perseverance.
He animated his daring Vandals to embrace a mode of warfare which would render every maritime country accessible to their arms;" so that, "after an interval of six centuries, the
fleets that issued from the port of Carthage again claimed the empire of the Mediterranean." They vomited fire upon Sicily, which "became blood" in its conquest and the sack of Palermo.... he cast the anchors of his burning power into the sea at the mouth of the Tiber.
... he boldly advanced to the gates of Rome... bishop Leo, at the head of his clergy, issued in procession to supplicate with all due orthodox humility, a restraining of the fierce and burning wrath of the heretical defender of the Donatists.
... Rome and its inhabitants were delivered to the blind passion of his soldiery. The pillage lasted fourteen days and nights.
Among the spoils transported from the city by the king were the Golden Table and the Seven-Branched Golden Light-stand, brought by Titus to Rome
But "the sea" had not yet sufficiently "become blood;" nor had "the third of the creatures in the sea, having souls, died;" nor had "the third of the ships" been "destroyed." To bring this about required the revival of "the kingdom of Italy's" power of resistance (for the Western empire had been reduced to an Italian kingdom) to Genseric upon the sea.
Perceiving that Rome could not be safe while Carthage existed as a hostile state, he [Majorian] determined to create a maritime power, and by it achieve the conquest of Africa. In three years he collected an imperial navy of three hundred large galleys, with an adequate proportion of transports and smaller vessels, in the secure and capacious harbor of Cathagena in Spain.
Hearing of this, and apprehensive of Majorian's descent at his own original landing place, Genseric reduced Mauritania into a desert. Secret intelligence guided him to the anchorage
of his foe, whose unguarded fleet he surprised in the bay of Carthagena. Many of the ships were taken, or sunk, or burnt, and the preparations of three years were destroyed in a single day.
For six years after the death of Majorian, the government of Italy was in the hands of the Count Ricimer alone, one of the principal commanders of the barbarians, descended from the Visigoths and Suevi. Under his rule, the kingdom of Italy was afflicted by the incessant depredations and conflagrations of the Vandalic "mountain burning with fire."
In the spring of each year, Genseric sallied forth from the port of Carthage in command of the most important expeditions. When asked by his pilot what course he should steer, "Leave the determination to the winds," said he, "THEY will transport us to the guilty coast whose inhabitants have provoked the divine justice."
They repeatedly visited the coasts of Spain, Liguria, Tuscany, Campania, Lucania, Bruttium,
Apulia, Calabria, Venetia, Dalmatia, Epirus, Greece, and Sicily. They subdued the island of Sardinia, and spread desolation or terror from the columns of Hercules to the mouth of the Nile; and, as they always embarked a sufficient number of horses, they had no sooner landed, than they swept the dismayed country with a body of light cavalry.
The fierceness of the scourge is attested by the massacre of five hundred noble citizens of Zante, whose mangled bodies he cast into the Ionian sea - "the sea became blood; and the creatures in the sea, having souls, died."
The permission of such sanguinary severities by Providence can only be accounted for on the principle of the wicked being Yahweh's sword for the punishment of the hypocrisy, blasphemy, superstition, and immorality of the victims. Genseric seemed to recognize that he was the executioner of "divine justice" upon the orthodox catholic fraternity that inhabited "the sea".
10 And the 3rd angel sounded, and <a great star blazing as it were a torch fell out of the heaven>, and it fell upon the 1/3 of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;
11 And the name of the star is called <Apsinthian>: and the 1/3 of the waters became <undrinkable>; and many <of the> men died <out> of the waters, because they were made bitter.
The Third Wind Trumpet - Huns
A.D. 450, and onwards.
The poisoning of the third of the rivers and fountains of waters with a deadly bitterness, by the Great Blazing Star APSINTHOS falling from the heaven into them, and causing the death of many.
A great star
On account of the luminaries in the natural heaven governing the day and the night (Gen. i. 14-18), all luminaries in the symbolical language signify ruling powers; and the light itself is well employed to signify the edicts, laws, rules, or directions that proceed from them for the good of their subjects.
Thus of the Great King, styled the "Day Star," and "the Sun of Righteousness," it is said in Psa. cxix. 105, "Thy word is a light unto my path;" and in Hos. vi. 5, "Thy judgments are as the light."
"I am," saith the Lord Jesus, "the bright and the Morning Star" (Apoc. xxii. 16); the Star which the Spirit compelled Balaam to predict would "come out of Jacob" (Num. xxiv. 17). By this star is evidently intended a ruler, a conqueror, a great potentate; for, as the Sceptre of Israel, he is to "smite the princes of Moab, and to destroy all the children of Sheth."
A Star, therefore, sometimes signifies a destroying power. The word is also put for that which is inconstant, or meteoric in its motions. Hence, in Jude, such stars are styled "wandering" or shooting stars. In this third trumpet prophecy, the star seen was of this species.
... "a great star blazing as it were a torch" signifies no good to those upon whom it is said to fall. Its effects must be conflagrating and deadly.
The falling of a great star blazing like a torch out of the heaven, then, was symbolical of a great destroying power, issuing forth from a lower region of the political aerial, progressing by its native force with rapid, but brief, yet intense motion, coming suddenly to the end of its career, and leaving nothing but a smoking desolation as the memorial of its presence.
"The heaven" out of which it blazed forth was the heaven under which were "the rivers and fountains of waters" into which the great star precipitated itself. "Wherever the scene is laid," says Daubuz, "heaven signifies, symbolically, the ruling power or government; that is, the whole assembly of the ruling powers, which, in respect of the subjects, or earth, are a political heaven, being over and ruling the subjects, as the natural heaven stands over and rules the earth: so that according to the subject is the term to be limited and, therefore, Artemidorus, writing in the times of the Roman emperors, makes the country of Italy to be heaven. As heaven, says he, is the abode of gods, so is Italy of kings."
Third (of the whole heaven)
But after the times of the pagan emperors, and concurrent with those of the scarcely less pagan Constantine and his successors, the Roman Heaven expanded itself into the comprehensiveness of the three seats, or thrones, which ruled over the three thirds, or Imperial Praefectures, into which the dominions of Daniel's Fourth Beast, civil and ecclesiastical polity, were divided.
These heavenly thirds are especially recognized in the vision of the fourth trumpet; and are styled in Dan. vii. 27, "the Whole Heaven." The whole is more than its parts. These thirds of the heaven have relation to the thirds of the earth, or Roman Orb; and may be styled, the Byzantine or Constantinopolitan Heavenly, the Italian Heavenly, and the Illyrian Heavenly, all of them the abode of kings."
A shooting star, generally, projects itself obliquely: so, when this "great star blazing as it were a torch" fell, it fell "out of" its own appropriate heavenly, into "the waters" under the neighboring third, whose heavenly bodies were doomed shortly to be eclipsed. It fell from the Illyrian heavenly section of "the whole heaven," into the rivers under the Italian Third.
The waters ("rivers")
Yahweh charges Sennacherib with saying by his messengers to Hezekiah:
"With the multitude of my chariots, I have digged and drunk strange waters, and with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the rivers of fenced places."
These waters and rivers were the foreign nations he had laid waste. ...So they are also explained in Apoc. xvi. 4-7, where "rivers and fountains of waters" are declared to be those who have "shed the blood of saints and prophets"; and in ch. xvii. 15, "the waters" upon whom the Great Harlot sits are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.
But we are not to suppose that because "waters" signify these populations of earth, their geography and topography are left undetermined. On the contrary, in the phrase, "upon the third of the rivers, and upon the foundations of waters," is a blending of the literal and the symbolical, which is so frequent in prophecy.
... "the rivers" pertaining to "the third" represents symbolically the populations thereof; and their literal chorography in the mountainous and valley, or river, regions of the Catholic West.
These "rivers and fountains of waters" had not, previously to the times of the third trumpet, done much in the way of shedding the blood of saints and prophets; they were beginning to approve this remedy for what they were pleased to style "heresy": nevertheless, they had proved themselves bitter persecutors of "the sealed servants of Deity," during the one hundred and twenty-five years their rulers, who were all "pious catholics," exercised dominion over Italy, Africa, Gaul, Spain and Britain.
The third trumpet was an especial element of the judgment upon them. Its scorching visitations retaliated upon them bitterness and death for the bitterness they had caused "the sealed."
It is a proper name... so the Great Star was called by the Greeks, "the Apsinthian," to designate the region out of whose heaven he fell blazing upon "the third of the rivers," after he had proved a scourge to them.
I have said that "the Apsinthian" fell upon "the rivers and fountains of waters," out of the Illyrian section of the whole heaven of the Roman orb. My reason for this is that Apsinthos is the name of a river in the Illyrian third of the Roman earth; and is therefore as significative of Illyria, as the Euphrates was of Assyria, or the Nile of Egypt.
But, for what reason, may we conclude, did the Spirit select this river of Illyricum in preference to any other? Because of the signification of the name being appropriate to the nature of the judgments to be executed by THE ILLYRIAN POWER, which had been developed in the preparation of the angels of the trumpets for sounding.
The word radically signifies undrinkable from whatever cause. The trumpet mission of the Illyrian Power was to make the rivers of the third undrinkable, by putting many of the men of the waters to the sword... Death serving them with a cup of apsinth by the sword.
The torching of the Roman 1/3 by the Apsinthian power (Illyrium) headed by Attila the Hun
Rome no longer total dominant with the rise of the Eastern Catholic power Constantinople (now two legs of iron)
"In the reign of ATTILA the Huns," says Gibbon, "became the terror of the world -- a formidable barbarian, who alternately insulted and invaded the east and the west, and urged the rapid downfall of the Roman Empire."
He alone among the conquering meteors, or blazing torches, of ancient or modern times, united the two mighty kingdoms of Germany and Scythia under one sceptre. Claiming to be the rightful possessor of the Sword of Mars, he asserted his divine and indefeasible claim to the dominion of the earth.
He soon acquired a sacred character; and the barbarian princes confessed, in the language of devotion or flattery, that they could not presume to gaze with a steady eye, on the Divine Majesty of the King of the Huns. As supreme and sole monarch of the barbarians, he was able, when he collected his military force, to bring into the field an army of five, or according to another account, seven hundred thousand troops. When these were set in rapid motion, they constituted a power, that may be very appropriately likened to "a Great Star blazing as a torch."
...The exact location of his capital is uncertain; but supposed to have been seated between the Danube, the Teyss, and the Carpathian hills in the plains of Upper Hungary. All these regions were embraced in the great Illyrian Praefecture; so that the great Attila-star might well be styled by its Greek contemporaries of the Byzantine dominion adjacent, "THE ILLYRIAN;" and by the Spirit symbolically, "the Apsinthian."
Theodosius the younger, emperor of the east, having acknowledged Attila, the Illyrian, as the lord of the Lower Danube, the Huns were now its masters, commanding the navigation to the Black Sea; and prepared to blaze forth in any direction Providence might impel them to take. "What fortress," said the Apsinthian to the Byzantine ambassadors, "what city, in the wide extent of the Roman Empire, can hope to exist, secure and impregnable, if it is our pleasure that it should be erased from the earth?"
...All the history of the Illyrian Conqueror goes to show, that his abode was in "the heaven," and that he was "a great star" therein; for he enjoyed the proud satisfaction of receiving in the same camp, the ambassadors of the eastern and western empires; and it is only to sovereign and recognized powers, that such apocalyptic "demons," are commissioned by the superior gods of their heavenlies.
...For this great and blazing descent upon the Western Third, the kings and nations of Germany and Scythia, from the Volga to the Danube obeyed the warlike summons of "the Scourge of God." From the royal village in the plains of Hungary, he marched to the conflux of the Rhine and the Neckar, where he was joined by the Franks.
These hostile myriads were poured with resistless violence, into the Belgic provinces. The consternation of Gaul was universal. Its cities were besieged and stormed by the Apsinthian Huns, who practised their customary maxims of war. They made the waters undrinkable; so that multitudes were separated from them by death; for they were made very bitter.
They involved," says Gibbon, "in the promiscuous massacre, the priests who served at the altar, and the infants, who in the hour of danger had been providentially baptized by the bishop; and the flourishing city (Metz) was delivered to the flames."
...Neither the spirit, the forces, nor the reputation of the Apsinthian Star were impaired by the failure of the Gallic expedition. It had blazed like a torch, and imbittered the river populations of the country; but it had only partially executed its mission upon the worshippers of relics and demons. In the ensuing spring he passed the Alps into Italy with an innumerable host of barbarians. He laid siege to Aquileia, the most populous and strongest of the maritime cities of the Hadriatic. The Huns mounted the breach with irresistible fury, and the succeeding generation could scarcely discover the ruins of Aquileia.
After this dreadful chastisement, this blazing torch descended upon Altinum, Concordia, and Padua, which were reduced into heaps of stones and ashes. The inland towns, Vicenza, Verona, and Bergamo, were exposed to the rapacious cruelty of his Huns. Milan and Pavia submitted without resistance to the loss of their wealth; and applauded the unusual clemency, which preserved from the flames the public, as well as private buildings; and spared the lives of the captive multitude.
After this, the scorching ravages of this Great Star, blazing like a torch, overspread the rich plains of modern Lombardy, which are divided by the Po, and bounded by the Alps and Apennine.
...What a terrible signification there is in the apocalyptic symbols: This great blazing star was still craving devastation and blood; and declared his resolution of carrying his victorious arms to the gates of Rome. But the Star was meteoric, and, as a meteor, must be of brief duration, and suddenly become extinct.
It had been blazing and scorching among "the rivers and fountains of waters" during three years; but where was the power to extinguish it? The barbarians, who had defended Gaul, refused to march to the relief of Italy; and the succors promised by the Eastern Emperor were distant and doubtful. The only deliverance was in unqualified submission.
The Western Emperor, with the Senate and people of Rome, by a solemn and suppliant embassy, embraced the salutary resolution of deprecating the wrath of "the Apsinthian." The barbarian monarch listened with favorable, and even respectful attention; and the deliverance of Italy was purchased by an immense ransom; but before he evacuated the country, he threatened to return more dreadful, and more implacable, if the treaty were not faithfully and punctually observed.
But his mission being accomplished, he was of no further use. Having returned to his royal village between the Danube and the Teiss, the next year, which was A.D. 453, he was suddenly cut off by apoplexy, and this blazing "terror of the world" lay powerless in death. The empire and power of the Huns was soon after broken; and the wind of the third trumpet ceased to blow.
12. <And the 4th angel sounded, and the 1/3 of the sun, and the third of the moon, and the third of the stars, was smitten; so that the third of them was darkened, and the day shone not the third of it, and the night likewise>.
The darkening of the third of the luminaries of the Greco-Latin Catholic firmament by smiting them; so that the Day and the Night of their system were without ruling lights, and therefore, shone not for a third of them.
...we see, that the moral universe, the Israelitish, the Egyptian, the Chaldean, and the Idumean, kingdoms and empires, have all their suns, moons, stars, and constellations, as well as the natural world or system of things.
The supreme civil and military authority of a state is the sun which sheds forth all the light, power and glory of the polity. The moon, stars and constellations are the ecclesiastical and aristocratic orders, which reflect its beams upon the earth or subjects of the state.
They rule the day and the night of their own polity, which, without their shining, has no distinction of day or night. Like the natural world luminaries, they are affected by eclipses, darkening, and so forth, which become causes intercepting or suspending their regular and peaceful influences upon the peoples.
...In the earlier years of Constantine's reign, the Roman Sun was the one solar investment of three emperors -- Constantine, Licinius, and Maximin. So also, when "the silence in the heaven about half an hour" had ended, his three sons were clothed with the sun. In these instances, each emperor's jurisdiction was representative of "the third of the sun;" and the ecclesiastical orders in each imperial jurisdiction, of "the third of the moon;" and the nobles and magistrates also in each, "the third of the stars".
If one of these emperors made war upon another of them, and defeated him, and incorporated the dominion of the vanquished in his own jurisdiction, then "the third of the sun and the third of the moon, and the third of the stars," would be "darkened" by smiting; and there would be no political "day" nor "night" peculiar to that smitten third.
...in the instance of the Greco-Latin Catholic dominion, if only one third of its sun, moon, and stars be smitten into obscuration, the day and night of the whole polity would not be extinguished, but only a proportional third. The imperial catholic day and night would be restricted to the unsmitten thirds, where the bright lights of their heaven would still be observed to shine.
...Now, in the days of the third trumpet, the sun of the Roman Heaven clothed the emperors of the eastern and western thirds, to say nothing of the Illyrian. The smiting of one of these thirds to obliteration from the political map, would be the darkening of that third in its imperial, ecclesiastical, and aristocratic relations to the subject peoples of its eclipsed jurisdiction.
Thus, by the judgments of the first, second, and third, trumpets, the final catastrophe was preparing, by which the emperors of the west and their dominions were to be extinguished. Rome's glory had long departed; its provinces severally and successively separated from it; the territory still remaining to it had become like a desert; and its maritime dependencies, 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 that, by the smiting of the fourth trumpet, these too were to be withdrawn; and that the imperial, or Sixth Head of the Roman Dragon should be "as it were slain unto death," and give place to the SEVENTH HEAD, which had not then yet come, and which, "when he cometh, must continue a short space" (Apoc. xiii. 3; xvii. 10).
The blast of the fourth trumpet when it began to sound, found Romulus Augustulus, A.D. 476, the last and feeblest of emperors, upon the throne of the catholic dominion of the West. He was placed there by his father Orestes, the secretary of state to the imperious Attila: and after his death "Patrician, and Master General" of the barbarian confederates in the service of the Western empire, who formed the defence and the terror of Italy.
They oppressed and insulted the last remains of Roman freedom and dignity. Their insolence and avarice at length prompted them peremptorily to demand, that a third part of the lands of Italy should be immediately divided among them. But Orestes rejected the audacious demand.
The standard of revolt was raised, therefore, by the bold barbarian ODOACER. From all the camps and garrisons of Italy, the confederates flocked to the standard of this popular leader. Overwhelmed by the torrent, Orestes entrenched himself in Pavia, which was stormed and pillaged; and the tumult could be appeased only by his execution. This "smiting" left Augustulus at the mercy of Odoacer, whose clemency he was induced to implore.
The success of this revolt elevated the king of the Heruli to the Vicegerency of the Emperor of the West. But deeming the imperial office both useless and expensive, Odoacer determined to abolish it. The unfortunate Augustulus was made the instrument of his own disgrace, by sending in his resignation to the Senate. An epistle was addressed by their unanimous decree to Zeno, the contemporary incumbent of the Byzantine throne.
In this document, they solemnly "disclaim the necessity, or even the wish, of continuing any longer the succession in Italy; since, in their opinion, the Majesty of a Sole Monarch is sufficient to pervade and 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 Throne of Universal Empire shall be transferred from Rome to Constantinople; while they renounce the right of choosing a master, the only vestige that yet remained of the authority which had given laws to the world.
The republic might safely confide in the civil and military virtues of Odoacer; and they humbly request, that the Emperor would invest him with the title of PATRICIAN, and the administration of the diocese of Italy."
After some display of displeasure and indignation, Zeno's prudence and vanity prevailed. He was gratified by the title of SOLE EMPEROR, and by the statues erected to his honour in the several quarters of Rome. He gratefully accepted the imperial ensigns, the sacred ornaments of the throne and palace, which the Patrician Odoacer was not unwilling to remove from the sight of the people.
...The judgments of the fourth trumpet had not yet "slain" the Imperial Head "as it were to death." Odoacer was the Patrician Representative of the Constantinopolitan Imperiality. He had ruled as such during fourteen years in Rome, and the epoch had now arrived. A.D. 489-493, that he should succumb to the superior genius of Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths, who, after a march of seven hundred miles from the region of Illyria, descended from the Julian Alps, and displayed his invincible banners on the confines of Italy.
After the loss of two battles, Zeno's Patrician fled to Ravenna. Favoured, however, again "by fortune," Odoacer reappeared upon the field in formidable array. The fierce conflict that ensued was finally decided by the victory of Verona, which conferred on Theodoric the independent royalty of Italy. The assassination of Odoacer, A.D. 493, left him without a rival, and the emperor of the East without a representative to administer the Diocese of Italy.
From the Alps to the extremity of Campania, from Sicily to the Danube, and from Belgrade to the Atlantic Ocean, Theodoric reigned first King of the Seventh Head of the Beast. His royalty was proclaimed by the Goths, with a tardy, reluctant and ambiguous recognition by the emperor of the East. He maintained with a powerful hand, during a reign of thirty-three years, the balance of the West; and the Greeks themselves acknowledged that the heretical king of Italy reigned over the fairest portion of the darkened empire of the West.
... Thus, while the jurisdiction and authority of the Sixth Head were completely darkened in Rome, after shining upon its Seven Hills for five hundred and twenty-four years, they continued in the light of imperial majesty to illume the eastern third of the catholic firmament.
...Under the first king of the Seventh Head, prosperity and peace were revived under the shadow of the Seven Hills. Theodoric cultivated the affections of the Roman Senate and people. The nobles were flattered by sonorous epithets and formal professions of respect; while the people enjoyed, without fear or danger, order, plenty, and public amusements. But the reign of Theodoric was only a temporary arrest of judgment. The Seventh Head was only to "continue a short space" sixty years, which is "short" compared with the supremacy of the Sixth.
Theodoric King of the Ostrogoths. Odoacer King of the Visigoths
And the 4th angel sounded, and the 1/3 of the sun, and the third of the moon, and the third of the stars, was smitten; so that the third of them was darkened, and the day shone not the third of it, and the night likewise (Rev 8: 11)
The western third of the Roman empire extinguished
Little remained to it but the vain titles and insignia of sovereignty; and now the time was come that, by the smiting of the fourth trumpet, these too were to be withdrawn; and that the imperial, or Sixth Head of the Roman Dragon should be "as it were slain unto death," and give place to the SEVENTH HEAD, which had not then yet come, and which, "when he cometh, must continue a short space" (Apoc. xiii. 3; xvii. 10).
Theodoric's empire at the height of its power in 523, with territory marked in pink ruled directly by Theodoric and stippled areas under his hegemony
Sounders of the truth in mid heaven
13 And I beheld, and heard <from one, an eagle flying in mid-heaven> saying <in> a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the <dwellers upon> the earth by reason of <the remaining voices of the trumpet-call> of the 3 angels, <hereafter> to sound!
An eagle flying in midheaven
I believe that eagle was the original and correct reading, and that it is supported both by the external evidence of manuscripts, and the internal evidence of apocalyptical testimony.
..."An eagle flying" is the ensign of one of the camps of "the Israel of God"; and when we consider their relative position at the time when the Latin Catholic "day and night" were darkened by the fourth trumpet, it symbolized their community very fitly.
The eagle was the ensign of the sealed servants of the Deity, who, during the tempestuous times of the first four trumpets, and for centuries after, were protected from extermination by the Serpent-power, in "the two wings of the Great Eagle" (xii. 14). They were an eagle "flying" in the "midheaven" of the great eagle-dominion. They had an angelic mission indicated by the action of flying.
This is motion from one place to another for a purpose. The eagle encampment was therefore an angel-community; and hence eagle and angel came afterwards to be traditionally used as equivalents in the text. The angelism of the eagle flying was to warn "the dwellers upon the earth" of what was still coming upon them. That flying in mid heaven is symbolical of preaching, or making proclamation, is evident from ch. xiv. 6, where "another angel" is said to
"fly in midheaven having the glad tidings of the Aion to preach unto the dwellers upon the earth."
Midheaven, mesouranema, is, according to the decorum of the symbol, the region of their flight. They are not luminaries of the political heaven; they are not constituents of the sun, moon, and stars, having no identity, officially or morally, with the secular and spiritual orders they symbolize. Neither are they "of the world," though encamping in the world.
"The dwellers upon the earth" were the Arian and Athanasian catholics, and others, to whom they preached. Hence, the Heavenly they occupied was peculiar to themselves; it was, as it were, in the midst between the heaven of government and the peoples governed. In this midheaven they winged their flight as "one" of the four living ones, the fourth, or eagle flying saying, "Woe, Woe, Woe, to the dwellers upon the earth" -- woes issuing
"out of the remaining voices of the trumpet-call of the three angels hereafter to sound."
And because these woes were to issue out of the fifth, sixth and seventh trumpets, the last three have been appropriately enough styled woe-trumpets.
We have seen in ch. vii, that the judgments of the first four trumpets were restrained until the work of sealing the servants of the Deity should be sufficiently advanced. The tempests that were to wreck the state, and dash it in pieces upon the rocks, were not to blow until there should be a community of faithful ones developed, who should be able to read the signs of their times aright, and be able to instruct others.
This is implied in their being "sealed in their foreheads". Being thus prepared, when the trumpets sounded they could call the attention of their contemporaries to the true situation of affairs; and in so doing deliver them from the superstition and blasphemy of such blind leaders as Chrysostom, Jerome, Augustine, Ambrose, Cyril, and others, of the catholic church by law established.
...They had been given over to "believe a lie, that they all might be condemned who believed not the truth; but had pleasure in" their own righteousness, which was "unrighteousness."
What, then, was to be done in this extremity? They could no more deliver themselves from their own blasphemies, than the natural man from his own ignorance. The remedy was at hand, if they had been sagacious enough to discern it; but, like our contemporaries, they cruelly persecuted and denounced it as heresy, and put it from them.
The remedy was the EAGLE-ANGEL preaching of the truth. These preachers being "sealed in their foreheads," would be able to explain to them that the dissolution of the Western Empire was not the end of the world, but a judgment upon them as the real apostasy foretold by Paul.
That they were deceivers and deceived. That the end of the world was not at hand, nor the reign of the saints either. That the trumpet-judgments of heaven were a call upon them to "repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship daemons, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood, which can neither see, nor hear, nor walk; -- to repent of their murders, of their sorceries, of their fornication and of their thefts" (ix. 20,21).
That of all these crimes they were guilty, and had been punished by heretical and pagan firebrands, as Alaric, Genseric, Attila, and other barbarian scourges; and that the terrible calamities they endured were not complete.
That, as they repented not of the works of their hands; or, in the words of Jerome, though "the Roman world rushes to destruction, we bend not our neck in humiliation;" therefore, "Woe, Woe, Woe" to them, both of the east and the west, because of the judgments yet to befall them before the end should come.
While this eagle-angel proclamation was warning the people, war, pestilence, and famine, in all the reign of Justinian, were plaguing them with unexampled miseries. A hundred millions of the human race were exterminated in his reign. But this was only introductory to the coming woes." The camp of safety was with "the flying eagle." The belief and obedience of the gospel of the kingdom was then, as now, the only seal protective from the sword.