there was silence in heaven about the space of half
an hour. And I saw the seven angels which stood
before God; and to them were given seven trum-
pets. And another angel came and stood at the
altar, having a golden censer ; and there was given
unto him much incense, that he should offer it with
the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which
was before the throne. And the smoke of the m-
cense, which came with the prayers of the saints,
ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.
And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fii-e
of the altar, and cast it into the earth : and there
REVELATION, CHAPTERS VIL, VIIl. 85
were voices, and tliunderings, and lightnings, and
an earthquake' (Rev. viii. 1â€”5).
Upon the opening of the seal, seven angels are
seen standing before the throne, to whom are given
seven trumpets, â€” the signals of alarm and war.
But before going forth on this mission of blood,
there is a half hour's silence in heaven, and a season
of devout worship, the imagery of which is taken
from the Jewish temple. In performing the service
of the temple, one of the priests entered daily into
the holy place, and, with his censer filled with coals
from the altar of burnt-offering, approached the altar
of incense, and burned incense before the Lord.
The incense was a symbol of prayer ; and, while it
was burning, the people were silently offering up
their prayers. They ' were praying without at the
time of incense.' Thus Zechariah w^as employed
when Gabriel appeared to him, and promised him a
son (Luke i. 9, 10).
A similar service seemed now to be performing
in heaven. An ' angel came and stood at the altar,
having a golden censer ; and much incense given
unto him, that he should offer it with the prayers
of all saints upon the golden altar which was before
the throne.' While this service was in progress,
there was, of course, silence in heaven for the space
of half an hour. Perhaps this scene was designed
to denote that great evils were impending, and that
86 THE APOCALYPSE EXPLAINED:
earth and heaven should unite then: suppHcatlons,
that they might, if possible, be averted or mitigated.
But the intercessions offered do not prevail. The
causes of the coming inflictions lie too deep to be
removed by prayer. And so the interceding angel
casts his censer to the earth, and ' there are voices,
and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake,'
â€” indicating new commotions and great calamities
to be speedily inflicted.
'And the seven angels which had the seven
trumpets prepared themselves to sound ' (Rev.
The First Trumpet.
'The first angel sounded, and there followed
hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were
cast upon the earth: and the thu'd part of trees
was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up*
(Rev. viii. 7).
I agree with those interpreters who regard the
blast of the first four of these trumpets as indicating
the calamities, which fell upon the western Roman
empire, and resulted in its overthrow in the latter
part of the fifth century. History marks four of
these incursions â€” the sweeping of the fiery storm â€”
which followed each other in rapid succession, and
which left behind them naught of that mighty power
which had so long ruled at Rome, except the name.
The symbols employed under the first trumpet, â€”
REVELATION, CHAPTERS VIL, VIII. 87
* hail and fire mingled with blood,' â€” indicate a great
and sweeping destruction, which seems to have
been fulfilled in the invasion of Alaric, king of the
Goths, in the year 410.
Alaric had been employed under Theodosius,
and in his armies had acquired a knowledge of the
art of war. Upon the death of Theodosius, he was
disappointed in not being raised to the head of the
Roman armies, and so he revolted, and became a
leader of the Goths. He first invaded and con-
quered Greece, destroying the males who were of
an age to bear arms, and driving away the females,
with the spoil and cattle of the flaming villages.
He next determined to enter Italy ; and to plant, if
possible, the Gothic standard on the walls of Rome.
He was checked in his first attempt by the army of
Stilicho ; but he soon returned, swept over the
country, and more than once besieged and pillaged
the imperial city. The sufierings at Rome in these
sieges were beyond description. In repeated in-
stances, mothers were compelled to cook and eat
their own children. Meanwhile, the imbecile em-
peror Honorius and his court had concealed them-
selves in the fastnesses of Ravenna.
From Italy, Alaric proceeded to invade the cities
and fertile provinces of Gaul. The flourishing city
of Metz Avas surprised and destroyed, and many
thousands of Christians were massacred in the
88 THE APOCALYPSE EXPLAINED :
cliiircli. Worms was taken after a long and ob-
stinate siege. Strasburg, Spires, Rheims, Tournay,
Arras, and Amiens, experienced the cruel oppression
of the Gotliic yoke ; and the 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, from the ocean to the Pyrenees
and the Alps, was delivered to the barbarians, who
drove before them, in a promiscuous croAvd, the
people of all classes, with the spoils of their houses,
their fields, and their altars.
It would be unsafe to say that precisely a third
part of the western Roman empire was over-run and
pillaged by Alaric ; but enough of it fell under his
destroying hand to justify the prophetical indica-
tions of the first trumpet.
The Second Trumpet.
* And the second angel sounded, and as it were
a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the
sea : and the third part of the sea became blood ;
and the third part of the creatures which were in
the sea, and had life, died ; and the third part of the
ships were destroyed ' (Rev. viii. 8, 9).
The symbols here indicate some great and angry
power, like a burning mountain, precipitated upon
the maritime parts of the Roman empire, by which
its cities would be wasted and its commerce de-
stroyed. If we were correct in our interpretation
REVELATION, CHAPTERS VIL, VIII. 89
of tlie previous trumpet, this must refer to Genseric
and his ruthless Vandals. This invasion followed
quick upon that of Alaric, commencing about the
year 428, and continuing for the next forty years.
The Goths and Vandals are usually mentioned
together, and they seem to have been originally
one people. They invaded the Roman empire to-
gether in the time of Theodosius. At a later period,
the Vandals, under Genseric, passed through the
whole of what is now France and Spain, and crossed
over into Africa. They conquered Carthage, esta-
blished an independent government, and thence
through a long period ravaged the neighbouring
coasts and islands, destroyed the ships and com-
merce of the Romans, and in this way hastened the
downfall of the empire. The ambition of Genseric
was without scruple and without , bounds. In a
little time, all the fruitful provinces lying between
Tangier and Tripoli were overwhelmed. Where
these marauders encountered resistance, they seldom
gave quarter, and the death of their warriors was
expiated by the ruin of the cities under whose walls
they fell. The result of this invasion was the con-
quest of all Northern Africa, and the establishment
of a power which waged perpetual war with Rome.
Genseric now resolved to establish a naval
power ; and to resolve and to execute were with
him almost the same. His fleets soon claimed the
90 THE APOCALYPSE EXPLAINED:
empire of tlie Mediterranean, and his conquests pro-
voked the sluggish emperor to oppose him. He,
too, prepared a fleet ; but at the first onset it fell
into the hands of the Vandals, and they soon cast
anchor at the mouth of the Tiber. Great Kome
could offer no efiectual resistance. The city was
taken and given up to pillage and slaughter for
fourteen successive days and nights.
Genseric continued his naval depredations to an
advanced period of life. He repeatedly visited the
coasts of Spain, Liguria, Tuscany, Campania, Apulia,
Calabria, Dalmatia, Venice, Epirus, Sicily, and
Greece, spreading terror and desolation from the
pillars of Hercules to the Nile. As these freebooters
were more desirous of spoil than of glory, they sel-
dom attacked fortified cities, or engaged regular
troops in the open field, but ravaged defenceless
coasts and islands, carrying dismay and desolation
wherever they appeared.
How far this description agrees with the symbols
in the passage before us, â€” * a great mountain burn-
ing with fire cast into the sea,' by which a third part
of the ships and the creatures in the sea were de-
stroyed, I must leave to my readers to judge. If
the career of Genseric and liis Vandals were to be
portrayed at all by symbols, I can hardly think of
any symbols more appropriate than those presented
under the second trumpet.
REVELATION, CHAPTERS VIZ., VIII. 91
The Third Trumpet.
* And the third angel sounded, and there fell a
great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp,
and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon
the fountains of waters ; and the name of the star
is called Wormwood: and the third part of the
waters became wormwood ; and many men died of
the waters, because they were made bitter ' (Rev.
viii. 10, 11).
A star, in the language of the prophets, denotes
some illustrious, distinguished personage, â€” some-
times a religious teacher, but more frequently a
monarch, or some remarkable civil or military leader.
Thus the fallen king of Babylon is called Lucifer,
or the morning star. ' How art thou fallen from
heaven, Lucifer, son of the morning ! how art
thou cast down to the ground, which didst weaken
the nations!' (Isa. xiv. 12). The star fallmg from
heaven, or the blazing meteor gleaming through the
sky, in the passage before us, may well denote some
great military chieftain ; and the result of his fall,
turning every thing he touches into wormwood,
shows him to be a most bitter enemy.
Following the train of thought which has been
pursued thus far, considering the blasts of these
trumpets as pre-figuring the personages and events
which prepared the way for the downfall of the
western Roman empire, we cannot be mistaken in
92 THE APOCALYPSE EXPLAINED:
supposing Attila, the leader of the terrible bands
of Huns (who styled himself, and was styled by
others, the 'Scourge of God'), as designated by
the falling star.
After Alaric and Genseric, Attila occupies the
next place among the destroyers of ancient Rome.
It is true, indeed, that he was contemporary with
Genseric, and died before him ; but he commenced
his ravages at a later period, and on this account
may be regarded as coming after him. He came
suddenly from the East, like a flaming meteor,
gathering up in his progress an army of Huns, and
pouring them down upon the more defenceless
parts of the Roman empire. The portions of the
empire most affected by the ravages of the Huns
were precisely those designated by the blast of the
third trumpet, viz. : ' the rivers and fountains of
waters.' His depredations were chiefly confined to
the sides of the Alps, those places whence the rivers
flow down into Italy.
Attila was defeated in the battle of Clialons ;
but he soon recovered his vigour, collected his forces,
and was prepared for another descent upon Italy.
He destroyed Aquileia, and in his march from thence,
the cities of Altinum, Concordia, and Padua, were
reduced to ashes. He next spread himself over the
fertile plains of Lombardy, â€” a land of rivers and
streams, divided by the Po, and lying between the
IIEVELATION, CHAPTERS VIL, VIII. 93
Alps and Apennines. It was a saying worthy of the
ferocious pride of Attila, that ' the grass never grew
where his horse had trod.' At least a third part of
the empire was invaded and desolated in his savage
marches ; and the result of his invasion was as dis-
astrous as if a bitter star had fallen into all the
rivers and foimtains, and turned them into gall and
The Fourth Trumpet.
* And the fourth angel sounded, and the third
part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of
the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as
the third part of them was darkened, and the day
shone not for a third part of it, and the night like-
wise ' (Rev. viii. 12).
At the sounding of the fourth trumpet, the great
lights of the Roman empire were eclipsed and
darkened, so that they shone not clearly, and but
for a part of the time. Genseric and Attila left the
â– empire in a weak, impoverished, and desperate con-
dition. It struggled on, however, through eight
short and turbulent reigns, for the space of about
twenty years, when it came to an end in the year
476. The last reigning emperor was Momyllus,
â€” contemptuously called Augustulus, or the little
Augustus. This change was effected by Odoacer,
Â£1 Gothic chieftain, who, coming to Rome with, an
army, stripped Momyllus of his imperial robes, put
94 THE APOCALYPSE EXPLAINED
an end to his dominion, and caused himself to be
proclaimed king of Italy. He did not, however,
change entirely the ancient form of government.
If the sun was eclipsed, some of the lesser lights
were allowed to remain. He still permitted the
Eomans to have their senate, their consuls, and
other magistrates, and public aifairs were trans-
acted much as they had been in former days.
Odoacer reigned sixteen years, when his king-
dom was overthrown by Theodoric, king of the
Ostrogoths. The government was in his hands
and in those of his successors, for the next sixty
REVELATION, CHABTER IX. 95
THE FIFTH AND SIXTH TRUMPETS.
REVELATION, CHAP. IX.
I HAVE thus endeavoured to give the import of
the four first trumpets, embracing the four suc-
cessive blows which were struck upon western
Rome by Alaric, Genseric, Attila, and Odoacer,
until the empire fell to rise no more.
And now there is a pause between the sound-
ing of the fourth trumpet and the fifth ; a note of
solemn, awful warning is heard from the heavens :
* And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through
the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe,
woe, woe, to the inhabitants of the earth by reason
of the other voices of the trumpet of the three
angels, which are yet to sound!' (Rev. viii. 13).
The woe is repeated three times to show the
certainty and intensity of it, and to call attention
to what remains of this magnificent prophecy.
The Fifth Trumpet.
* And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star
fall from heaven unto the earth : and to him was
96 THE APOCALYPSE EXPLAINED:
given the key of tlie bottomless pit. And he opened
the bottomless pit ; and there arose a smoke out of
the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace ; and the
sun and the air were darkened by reason of the
smoke of the pit. And there came out of the
smoke locusts upon the earth : and unto them was
given power, as the scorpions of the earth have
power. And it was commanded them that they
should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any
green thing, neither any tree ; but only those men
which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.
And to them it was given that they should not
kill them, but that they should be tormented five
months ; and their torment was as the torment of
a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those
days shall men seek death, and shall not find it ;
and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from
them. And the shapes of the locusts were like
unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their
heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their
faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair
as the hau' of women, and their teeth were as the
teeth of lions. And they had breastplates, as it
were breastplates of iron ; and the sound of their
wiugs was as the sound of chariots of many horses
running to battle. And they had tails like unto
scorpions, and there were stings in their tails ; and
their power was to hurt men five months. And
REVELATION, CHAPTER IX. 97
tliey had a king over tliem, which is the angel of
the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew
tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath
his name Apollyon' (Rev. ix. 1â€”11).
I have said already that the four first trumpets
foreshow the events whicli led to the downfall of
the western Roman empire, which took place in
the year 476. I agree with the most distinguished
Protestant commentators, that the fifth and sixth
trumpets relate to the Eastern empire, and to events
which resulted in its overthrow.
The star which John saw fall from heaven on
the sounding of the fifth trumpet denotes, as usual,
a leader, â€” it may be a distinguished teacher, or a
military chieftain, or both. It represents, in this
case, I cannot doubt, Mohammed. He has the key
of the bottomless pit, and opens it, and from it
issues a smoke which darkens the whole atmosphere.
With the smoke, there came forth also a prodigious
army of locusts. A full description of the locusts
is given, which shows that they were not literal
locusts, but represent a mighty army â€” Mohammed's
army of Saracen w^arriors. The fact that locusts
were the selected symbols here, shows that the
prophecy has an oriental application. Locusts are
the periodical scourges of the east.
This army is commissioned, not to hurt the
earth, or any green thing, but only the men that
98 THE APOCALYPSE EXPLAINED:
have not tlie seal of God on tlieir forelieads; re-
ferring back to the sealing spoken of in the seventh
chapter. In other words, their commission is against,
not God's sealed, sanctified ones, bnt the wicked of
the earth â€” idolaters, blasphemers, and apostate
Christians. Nor were they to aim at destroying
the lives even of these, but were to torment them
for the space of five months.
But what are we to understand by these five
months ? Are they literal months, or do they de-
note a much longer period? It is insisted by some
interpreters that they must be literal months, since
the ravages of locusts are usually limited to the
five warmest months of the year. But then these
are not literal locusts â€” from the very description
they cannot be â€” and hence the impropriety of
limiting their ravages and torments to the short
period of five literal months.
It is msisted by another class of interpreters
that, in prophetic language, a day often stands for
a year; and if so interpreted in this place, the
ravages of the army denoted by the locusts would
continue a hundred and fifty years.
With regard to this question of time, I remark
that, in prophetic language, a day is often â€” not al-
ways â€” reckoned for a year. So it has been in other
ages ; so it may be here. Thus when it was pre-
dicted of the Israelites that they should wander in
REVELATION, CHAPTER IX. 99
the wilderness forty years, it was added : 'After the
number of the days in which ye searched the land,
even forty days, eacJi day for a year, shall ye bear
your iniquities, even/or^^ years'' (Numb. xiv. 34). So
the prophet Ezekiel, when predicting the siege and
capture of Jerusalem, was directed to 'lie on his
right side, and bear the iniquity of the house of
Judali forty days ; I have appointed thee each day
for a year ' (Ezek. iv. 6).
In the prophecy of Daniel, this mode of pro-
phetic expression is unquestionably resorted to :
* Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people,
and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression,
and to make an end of sins, and to make recon-
ciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting
righteousness, and to seal up the vision and pro-
phecy, and to anoint the Most Holy ' (Dan. ix. 24).
This prediction refers, undoubtedly, to the Messiah,
and to the time when He should appear to make
expiation for sin. The commencement of the
seventy weeks is fixed by Daniel himself, or rather
by the revealing angel. It was ' from the going
forth of the decree to restore and to build Jerusa-
lem' (Dan. ix. 25). The decree to restore and to
build Jerusalem was given to Nehemiah, by Ar-
taxerxes Longimanus, in the twentieth year of his
reign (Neh. ii. 1). And from this time to the death
of Christ, according to the best chronologists, is
100 THE APOCALYPSE EXPLAINED:
four hundred and ninety years â€” seventy weeks,
counting a day for a year.
It is objected to this interpretation, that what
our translators render * seventy weeks,' is in the
original of Daniel * seventy seven,' which may
mean seventy sevens of years^ that is, four hundred
and ninety years; thus bringing us to the same
result, without supposing a day to stand for a
The only question here is; did Daniel, or the
revealing angel, intend, by the seventy sevens,
sevens of dmjs^ or sevens of years ? We think he
must have intended sevens of days, since, from the
creation, time had been divided into weeks of seven
days ; so that a seven or sevens would naturally be
understood to mean seven days, whether the word
days was expressed or not. x\nd critics have no
reason or authority for changing the meaning into
sevens of years, more than for changing it into
sevens of months, or sevens of hours. A seven is
naturally understood to be a hebdomad, a week o
seven days. And so the word always has been
understood and translated.^ The proper transla-
tion of the passage before us is, therefore, that con-
tained in our Bible : ' Seventy weeks are determined
^ See not only the passaj^es in Dan. ix. 24-2G, but also in Dan.
X. 2, 3 ; Ex. xxiv. 22 ; Numb, xxviii. 26 ; Deut. xvi. 9-lG ; 2 Chron.
viii. 13 ; Jer. v. 24 ; Ezck. xlv. 21, etc.
REVELATION, CHAPTER JX. 101
iipon tliy people, and upon the holy city,' that is,
seventy times seven days â€” four hundred and
ninety days ; and the fulfilment of the prophecy
shows that each of these days must stand for a
There are other passages in Daniel in which the
same mode of reckoning occurs, to which I shall
refer in another connection. Instances of it also
occur in the Eevelation. It is said to the Church in
Smyrna : ' The devil shall cast some of you into
prison, that ye may be tried ; and ye shall have
tribulation ten days' (Rev. ii. 10). No one can
suppose that the persecution here referred to Avould
be limited to ten literal days. The reference is,
undoubtedly, to the Diocletian persecution, which
lasted ten years.
There are other instances in the Revelation in
which the same notation of prophetic time is em-
ployed, particularly those in which * the holy city
is to be trodden under foot forty and two months ; '
and the two witnesses are to 'prophesy a thousand
and two hundred and three score days;' and the
mystical woman is to be nourished in the wdlder-
ness ' for a time and times and half a time ; ' and in
which ' power was given unto the beast to continue
forty and two months.^ These notes of time, as I
shall show, all refer to the same period, twelve
^ See Rev. ii. 2, 3, and xii. 14, and xiii. 5.
102 THE APOCALYPSE EXPLAINED:
hundred and sixty days, and stand for twelve hun-
red and sixty years, a day being reckoned for a year.^
If it be inquired, how we are to determine, in
any given case, whether the days are to be imder-
8tood Hterally, or otherwise, I answer, we are to be
guided chiefly, as in other cases, by the connection
and the sense. Thus, when it is said in Jeremiah :
* These nations shall serve the king of Babylon
seventy years,' the connection shows that literal
years are intended. But when Daniel predicts, in
a passage already considered, the death of the
Messiah at the end of seventy weeks, both the
connection and the fulfilment show that a much
longer period is indicated.
* Professor Cowles denounces ' this day-for-a-year theory as utterly
l)aseless and false, and of course mischievous and delusive ; ' and yet,
strange to say, he does not himself interpret the notation of time in
the Apocalypse literally, but prolongs them indefinitely, or as much as
!ie has occasion. Thus, it is said expressly of the two witnesses, that
they prophesied twelve hundred and sixty days. But Professor Cowles
cays, ' It matters not how long the two witnesses did actually testify
to the Jews before the fall of their city,' p. 127. They must have
testified, according to his theory, at least forty years, for he reckons
John the Baptist to be the first of them, p, 132. So the mystical
^voman is protected in the wilderness ' for a time, times, and half a
time,' or three years and a half. But according to Professor Cowles,
' We have no occasion to inquire for the same historic duration of