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Prophetic Expositions, vol. 2

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    FOURTH TRUMPET

    Verse 12: “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 likewise.”PREX2 154.3

    “At the voice of the first angel, and the blast of his trumpet, the whole Roman world was in agitation, and ‘the storms of war’ passed over it all. ‘The union of the empire was dissolved;’ a third part of it fell; and the ‘transalpine provinces were separated from the empire.’ Under the second trumpet, the provinces of Africa, another, or the maritime, part, was in like manner reft from Rome, and the Roman ships were destroyed in the sea, and even in their harbors. The empire of Rome, hemmed in on every side, was then limited to the kingdom of Italy. Within its bounds, and along the fountains and rivers of waters, the third trumpet re-echoed from the Alps to the Appenines. The last barrier of the empire of Rome was broken. The plains of Lombardy were ravaged by a foreign foe: and from thence new enemies arose to bring to an end the strife of the world with the imperial city.PREX2 154.4

    “Though the union of the empire was dissolved, there was still an emperor in Rome. The majesty of the Roman name was not obliterated, though tarnished. And after the middle of the fifth century, the Cæsars had still a successor in their own city. But the palace of Milan could not again be the temporary abode of the Roman court, when it was the seat and centre of a hostile power. And the marshes of Ravenna ceased to be a security, after the waters were made bitter, and when hordes of Huns mingled with other savages in the northern regions of Italy. The time, too, had long passed for realizing the project, which the terror of the Goths had first suggested, of transferring the court of Rome to the shores of Africa, and transforming Carthage into another Constantinople.PREX2 155.1

    “The remnant, or the refuse, of previous invasions, was enough to destroy the last remaining parts of Roman greatness in Italy, and to abolish the office and the name of emperor of Rome.PREX2 155.2

    “Long had that name been a terror to the nations, and identified with supreme authority in the world. Long had the emperor of Rome shone and ruled in the earth, like the sun in the firmament. His was a kingdom and dominion, great, and terrible, and strong exceedingly, to which all others were subjected or subordinate. His supreme, or imperial authority, had, in the decline of the empire, been greatly obscured, but till then, it had never been extinguished. It had been darkened and disfigured by a great storm; eclipsed, as it were, by a mountain that burned with fire; and outshone, as it were, by a falling star, like a fiery meteor. It had survived the assaults of Goths and Vandals, and Huns. Though clouded and obscured, it had never been smitten:-and though its light reached but a little way, where previously it had shone over all, it had never been extinguished.PREX2 155.3

    “Neither, at last, was the whole sun smitten: but the third part. The throne of the Cæsars had for ages been the sun of the world; while other kings were designated as stars. But the imperial power had first been transferred to Constantinople, by Constantine; and it was afterwards divided between the east and the west. And the Eastern empire was not yet doomed to destruction. Even the western empire was afterwards revived; and a more modern dynasty arose to claim and maintain the title of emperor of the Romans. But, for the first time, after sudden, and violent, and distinctly marked and connected convulsions, the imperial power in Rome, where for so long a period it had reigned triumphant, was cut off forever; and the third part of the sun was smitten.PREX2 156.1

    “‘Extinction of the western empire, A. D. 476, or A. D. 479. Royalty was familiar to the barbarians, and the submissive people of Italy were prepared to obey without a murmur the authority which he should condescend to exercise as the vicegerent of the emperor of the west. But Odoacer resolved to abolish that useless and expensive office; and such is the weight of antique prejudice, that it required some boldness and penetration to discover the extreme facility of the enterprise. The unfortunate Augustulus was made the instrument of his own disgrace; and he signified his resignation to the senate; and that assembly, in their last act of obedience to a Roman prince, still affected the spirit of freedom and the forms of the constitution. An epistle was addressed, by their unanimous decree, to the emperor Zeno, the son-in-law and successor of Leo, who had lately been restored, after a short rebellion, to the Byzantine throne. They solemnly disclaim the necessity, or even the wish of continuing any longer the imperial succession in Italy; since in their opinion the majesty of a sole monarch is sufficient to pervade and to protect, at the same time, both the east and the west. In their own name, and in the name, of the people, they consent that the seat of universal empire shall be transferred from Rome to Constantinople; and they basely renounce the right of choosing their master, the only vestige which yet remained of the only authority which had given laws to the world.’PREX2 156.2

    “The power and the glory of Rome, as bearing rule over any nation, became extinct. The name alone remained to the queen of nations. Every token, of royalty disappeared from the imperial city. She who had ruled over the nations sat in the dust, like a second Babylon, and there was no throne, where the Cæsars had reigned. The last act of obedience to a Roman prince, which that once august assembly performed, was the acceptance of the resignation of the last emperor of the West, and the abolition of the imperial succession in Italy. The sun of Borne was smitten. But though Rome itself, as an imperial city, ceased to exercise a sovereignty over any nation, yet the imperial ensigns, with the sacred ornaments of the throne and palace, were transferred to Constantinople, where Zeno reigned, under the title of sole emperor. The military acclamations of the confederates of Italy saluted Odoacer with the title of king.PREX2 157.1

    “A new conqueror of Italy, Theodoric, the Ostrogoth, speedily arose, who unscrupulously assumed the purple, and reigned by the right of conquest. ‘The royalty of Theodoric was proclaimed by the Goths, (March 5th, A. D. 493,) with the tardy, reluctant, ambiguous consent of the emperor of the east.’ The imperial Roman power, of which either Rome or Constantinople had been jointly or singly the seat, whether in the west or the east, was no longer recognised in Italy, and the third part of the sun was smitten, till it emitted no longer the faintest rays. The power of the Cæsars was unknown in Italy; and a Gothic king reigned over Rome.PREX2 158.1

    “But though the third part of the sun was smitten, and the Roman imperial power was at an end in the city of the Cæsars, yet the moon and the stars still shone, or glimmered, for a little longer in the western hemisphere, even in the midst of Gothic darkness. The consulship and the senate were not abolished by Theodoric. ‘A Gothic historian applauds the consulship of Theodoric as the height of all temporal power and greatness;’-as the moon reigns by night, after the setting of the sun. And, instead of abolishing; that office, Theodoric himself ‘congratulates those annual favorites of fortune, who, without the cares, enjoyed the splendor of the throne.’PREX2 158.2

    “But, in their prophetic order, the consulship and the senate of Rome met their fate, though they fell not by the hands of Vandals or of Goths. The next revolution in Italy was its subjection to Belisarius, the general of Justinian, emperor of the East. He did not spare what barbarians had hallowed. ‘The Roman consulship extinguished by Justinian, A. D. 541,’ is the title of the last paragraph of the fortieth chapter of Gibbon’s History of the Decline and Fall of Rome. ‘The succession of consuls finally ceased in the thirteenth year of Justinian, whose despotic temper might be gratified by the silent extinction of a title which admonished the Romans of their ancient freedom.’ The third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars. In the political firmament of the ancient world, while under the reign of imperial Rome, the emperorship, the consulate, and the senate, shone like the sun, the moon, and the stars. The history of their decline and fall is brought down till the two former were ‘extinguished,’ in reference to Rome and Italy, which so long had ranked as the first of cities and of countries; and finally, as the fourth trumpet closes, we see the ‘extinction of that illustrious assembly,’ the Roman senate. The city that had ruled the world, as if in mockery of human greatness, was conquered by the eunuch Narses, the successor of Belisarius. He defeated the Goths, (A. D. 552,) achieved ‘the conquest of Rome,’ and the fate of the senate was sealed.PREX2 159.1

    “The calamities of imperial Rome, in its downfall, were told to the very last of them, till Rome was without an emperor, a consul, or a senate. ‘Under the exarchs of Ravenna, Rome was degraded to the second rank.’ The third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars. The race of the Cæsars was not extinct with the emperors of the West. Rome before its fall possessed but a portion of the imperial power. Constantinople divided with it the empire of the world. And neither Goths nor Vandals lorded over that still imperial city, the emperor of which, after the first transference of the seat of empire by Constantine, often held the emperor of Rome as his nominee and vicegerent. And the fate of Constantinople was reserved till other ages, and was announced by other trumpets. Of the sun, the moon, and the stars, as yet but the third part was smitten.PREX2 160.1

    “The concluding words of the fourth trumpet imply the future restoration of the Western empire. The day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise. In respect to civil authority, Rome became subject to Ravenna, and Italy was a conquered province of the Eastern empire. But, as more appropriately pertaining to other prophecies, the defence of the worship of images first brought the spiritual and temporal powers of the pope and of the emperor into violent collision; and, by conferring on the pope all authority over the churches, Justinian laid his helping hand to the promotion of the papal supremacy, which afterwards assumed the power of creating monarchs. In the year of our Lord 800, the pope conferred on Charlemagne the title of emperor of the Romans. That title was again transferred from the king of France to the emperor of Germany. By the latter it was formally renounced, within the memory of the existing generation. In our own days the iron crown of Italy was on the head of another ‘emperor.’ And the sun, as in the sequel we will see, is afterwards spoken of in the book of Revelation.”PREX2 160.2

    Verse 13. “And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Wo, wo, wo to the inhabiters of the earth, by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!”PREX2 161.1

    The three last trumpets are each attended with a wo to the inhabiters of the earth. The fifth trumpet is the first wo; the sixth trumpet the second wo; the seventh and last trumpet the third wo.PREX2 161.2

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