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The Second Trumpet.
The second trumpet which ushers in ruin on the Roman world by a heavier plague, it being already laid waste as to its land, assails the sea; the third part of which, and what belongs to it, it renders entirely bloody, by the fall of a great mountain threatening it of old, but now set on fire, together with a great slaughter of animals or fishes living in it, and of the vessels navigating therein.
That is, the destruction of Rome, the great city, captured again and again, spoiled and burning with hostile flames, broke forth with the ruin of the amplitude of the Roman dominion or jurisdiction; the barbarians, on account of the weakness of the capital, thus affected, now seizing on its provinces, and dividing them into new kingdoms, with an irreparable slaughter of the legions at that time remaining for its defence, with a loss of all aids of retaining and supporting its power, even by negotiation.
The sea of the political world is, as I have observed, that amplitude of dominion which embraces all the inhabitants in the communion of the same political laws. By this image the dominion of Babylon is expressed, Jer. c. li. v. 36. where the Lord threatens that “He will dry up her sea, and make her springs dry;” which ver. 44 156explains by the retention of the same metaphor, “The nations shall no longer flow together to her.” The amplitude of the Assyrian kingdom likewise, is thus described, Ezek. c. xxxi. v. 4. “The waters have made her to increase;” (that is, the Assyrian cedar,) “the abyss or the sea has exalted her.” Perhaps the dominion of Pharaoh is the sea. Isa. c. xix. v. 5. It is said of the destruction of his kingdom, “The waters of his sea should fail;” that is, his empire should be taken away. Therefore those great empires are seen by Daniel “ascending out of the sea;” that is, arising out of the circumference of dominion.
But as “the third part of the sea,” that is, of the Roman sea, is said to have become bloody, it is to be understood that blood is used in the first place for slaughter, and then for death, even without blood. Death is to be taken generally for destruction, even of a substance without life. Vide Ezek. c. xiv. v. 19. and c. iii. v. 18. 20. and c. xviii. v. 13. Amos, c. ii. v. 2. Rom. c. vii. v. 9. Whence blood, or to become bloody, is the image which has suffered destruction, as if it were like an animal slain or butchered, dropping with gore. When, therefore, it is said here that the sea is made bloody by the overthrow of a great mountain, it denotes nothing else than that it should suffer some kind of death, or violent 157ssextinction by that event. What is said in the vials, where there is the same image, is a little more clear,—“it became as the blood of a dead man.” The meaning is, that the Roman dominion, or extent of power, suffered ruin, was mangled, dismembered, and destroyed.
The like symbol of a mountain, signifying a city, is to be found of ancient Babylon, in Jer. c. li. v. 25, “Behold I am against thee, O destroying (or corrupting) mountain, saith the Lord, which destroyeth (or corrupteth) all the earth, and I will stretch out my hand,—and will make thee a burnt mountain, (or a mountain of combustion,)” where the Septuagint has ὄρος ἐμπυριόμενον a burning mountain, in the same sense in which John uses it here, ὄρος πυρὶ καιόμενον a mountain burning with fire. Of the same Isaiah says, c. xiii. v. 2, “Lift ye up a banner on the high mountain.” The Targum has it, “On the city which dwelleth confidently.” Again, c. cxxxvii. v. 24, to Sennacherib, king of Assyria, “Thou hast reproached the Lord, and hast said, With the multitude of my chariots have I ascended to the height of the mountains:” The Targum, “Have I ascended into their fortified cities.” But whether rightly, I doubt.
Moreover, that a mountain should here be said to be cast into the sea, is a proper figure, because, by no other means could a mountain 158hurt the sea, than by being cast into it. And this you will remember, likewise, takes place in the following trumpet of the falling star.
With relation to history, Rome was first captured in the year 410 by the same Alaric, king of the Goths, who in the former trumpet had exhibited, as it were, a prelude of its fate. But now, after the death of Stilico, exciting new disturbances, and setting on foot a new and fatal expedition against Italy, by which he reduced Honorius to such straits, that the barbarian himself gave to Rome a new emperor of the name of Attalus, with whom he besieged Honorius Augustus at Ravenna, who was already meditating from the desperate state of his affairs, to fly into the east, and to abandon the west. But the enemy, induced by his submission, and Attalus having abdicated the empire, restored Honorius to his power.
The dismemberment of the Roman empire followed immediately the destruction of Rome. I call Sigonius as a witness, who says, “The miserable devastation of Italy, continual wars with Gaul and Spain, and at length, new regal governments of barbarians in both provinces, followed the destruction of Rome.”
For, in the first place, Honorius, in order to recover the possession of Rome with the empire, having made a league with Alaric, was compelled 159to grant settlements to the Goths, and a kingdom in the Gallias. Two years after, in the year 412, the Huns pouring into Pannonia, which the Goths had left, lie being destitute of sufficient force to make resistance, under such difficulties, entered into a treaty with them, giving and accepting hostages.
Then in the year 413, Constantius, the general of the same Honorius, that he might not accidentally fall into any warlike difficulty, willingly received the Burgundians into amity, and assigned them seats on the Rhone, who in the preceding years had thrown themselves into Gaul with the Vandals.
Lastly, in the year 415, the same Honorius, (as Procopius relates,) when the Goths, a little while after, had passed into the neighbouring part of Spain, granted to the Vandals likewise, with their king Gunderic, who had lately been expelled from Gaul by the Franks, the habitation they had occupied, under the engagement of waging war with the Goths.
He who desires to know more may consult the beforenamed Sigonius on the western empire, books x. and xi. from whence we have quoted these particulars.
And thus, from henceforth, the extent of the Roman dominion was daily more and more mangled and dismembered, until Rome being 160again taken and sacked in the year 455 by Genseric, the Vandal, in the year immediately following, or in rather less time, the whole body of the empire appeared to be divided into ten kingdoms in all; which, together with the names of the people, and kings, and the provinces over which they reigned, the following little table will exhibit, together with some illustrations from history, to throw greater light upon the subject.
And in this manner, at length, those ten kingdoms, into which the Holy Spirit had predeclared, both by Daniel and St. John, that the Roman empire should be divided in the latter days, seem to be made out, and are not altogether to be estimated by the bare names of so many regions, or tracts of the earth, as is commonly done, but by kingdoms, into which the extent and dominion of the empire was to be forcibly torn asunder.
In the mean time, however, we do not think that the circumscription of this denary is to be so rigidly interpreted, as to exclude more kingdoms at any one time, or dynasties of some kind or other; but that the empire was to be rent into ten kingdoms, at least, or into ten principal kingdoms. Which, from the original declaration which we have now represented, down even to the present age, under so many fates and changes 161of republics and kingdoms, I believe to have been always true; though it might be sufficient to confirm the truth of the oracle, if it had only been divided in the beginning into so many kingdoms, though afterwards, perhaps, the number had diminished.
Now that this circumscription of the decad of kingdoms is to be understood in the manner which I have stated, and not otherwise, the similar prophecy respecting the division of the Alexandrian monarchy may teach us. In which, though over and above those four principal kingdoms of Macedonia, Asia, Syria, and Egypt, a fifth was added, namely, that of Thrace, by its founder Lysimachus, yet the Holy Spirit defined that multiplicity by a quaternion, suggesting there would be so many at least, or so many principal kingdoms. For the Thracian kingdom, though it began at the same time with the rest, and lasted forty years, yet had no successor, but expired with the first king, Lysimachus, and therefore is not to be referred to the number.
In like manner we are to judge of this tenfold Roman division. Therefore, let no one be surprised, if, beside the kingdom enumerated in the Gallias, he should possibly find that of the Aurelian Alani, and also the dynasty of the Armoric States, remaining even from the reign of Honorius 162to these times. The latter, indeed, he will find to have been of very moderate extent, and the former to have lasted for a very short space of time, (or not more than ten years.) Neither, then, is to be reckoned in the same place and order as the rest, though otherwise something of the same nature may be discovered.163
A Type of the Dismemberment of the Empire or Dominion of Rome, about the year of Christ 456, and subsequent to that period.
|Kingdoms of||Provinces under their Dominion.||Names of Kings
the year 456.
|1. Britons||In Britain||Vortimer.|
|3. Franks||In Belgic Gaul first, afterwards in Celtic||Childeric.||The kingdom of the Burgundians was subjugated and extinguished about 536; but to make up correctly the No. 10, the dominion of the Ostrogoths was divided at that time into two kingdoms; Pannonia having been subject to them, being occupied by the Longobards, and Italy alone left to the King of the Ostrogoths.|
|4. Burgundians||In Gaul, about the Seine and Lyons.||Gunderic.|
|5. Visigoths||In Aquitaine and part of Spain||Theodosius II.|
|6. Suevi & Alani||In that part of Spain comprised in Gallicia and Lusitania||Ricianus.|
|7. Vandals||In Africa; but a little before in Spain||Genseric.|
|In the tract of Germany, called Rhitea||Sumanus.||The kingdom of the Allemanni coalesced with that of the Heruli, as long as they had possessions in Italy, about sixteen years.|
|9. Ostrogoths||In Pannonia, having defeated the Huns, and before the expiration of this age the same people extended their kingdom into Italy.||Theodemirus.||The Longobards, or Lombards, succeeded the Ostrogoths likewise in Italy, from the time of Narsis. After he had destroyed the kingdom of the Ostrogoths, being called forth in 567, they gave up their seats in Pannonia to the Huns and Avari.|
|10. Greeks||In the remainder of the dominion of the empire. Sinc the ancient empire of Rome being dissolved, that of the Greeks is to be enumberated among the kingdoms into which it was broken to pieces||Marianus.|
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