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Last Updated on : Friday, August 15, 2014

 

 

 


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Thirteen Lectures On The Apocalypse  
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Contents Preface Lecture 1 Lecture 2 Lecture 3
Lecture 4 Lecture 5 Lecture 6 Lecture 7 Lecture 8
Lecture 9 Lecture 10 Lecture 11 Lecture 12 Lecture 13

 
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Revelation Chapter 8

(vs. 7 to end of chapter)


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The seventh Seal, containing the seven trumpets -- ribald mirth at Apocalyptic technicalities -- the jest of ignorance -- the Apocalypse a great deep -- an enigma of exquisite construction -- The breaking of the seals -- change of figure under the seventh seal -- introduction of trumpets -- the significance of trumpet-blowing as a figure -- the reason of introducing the trumpets -- a change in the situation -- a higher national responsibility of Rome -- more direct judgments for her sins -- The preparation for the sounding of the trumpets -- Development of the power of the barbarians in preparation for the trumpet judgments -- Sounding of the FIRST TRUMPET -- the area of its operation -- the third of the earth -- the ravages of the Goths -- defeat of the Roman armies by Alaric -- subsequent devastation of the empire and the sack of Rome itself -- The SECOND TRUMPET -- a burning mountain in the sea -- the Vandals under Genseric -- their ravages on the ocean, and the maritime coasts of the empire -- The THIRD TRUMPET -- the star "wormwood" -- the locality of its fall and the embittering of the waters -- the verification in the career of Attila, the king of the Huns -- Disruption Of the Roman Empire -- Providential purpose served by this -- the FOURTH -- eclipse of the Roman Sun, moon, and stars, in a third of the system -- extinction of the Roman Empire in the west -- the woe trumpets.


 

IN the last lecture, we completed our survey of the events symbolized by the imagery of the seals, and in the consideration of the seventh

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seal we were introduced to the seven trumpets -- that is to say, we found the events of the seventh seal to consist of the sounding of seven trumpets by seven angels and the events ensuing upon those soundings. The seventh seal consists of the multitudinous details connected with the sounding of the seven trumpets. To-night it will be our duty to look at the things represented by the trumpets. The common run of people laugh when we talk of the seals and trumpets and vials, and the uncommon run of people too -- the respectable and the learned take part in the jest. Their mirth is entirely misplaced. Granted that these terms are so much jargon to the generality: their uncouthness is due not to the subject itself but to the general non-acquaintance of the people with them. They are the technicalities of the most advanced chapter in the Bible. The technicalities of any subject are barbarous to those who are not acquainted with them; but to make them the ground of scorn is an aggravation of ignorance. It reminds us of the words of Solomon: "Wisdom is too high for a fool". The Apocalypse is a great deep. There is a wisdom and beauty in it that impart an ecstasy of admiration when the mind opens to them. It not only imparts knowledge of the future, but it does so in a system of symbolism that is symmetrical in structure, complete in plan, distinct and vigorous in detail, and perfect in the appropriateness of its figures.

This is not obvious all at once. It is not obvious at all to those who are ignorant of the first principles of divine truth as revealed in the writings of Moses and the prophets, interpreted in harmony with the apostles, and even to those who know the truth, it is dark for a while; only after patient study of the Book of God for a long time, the excellence of the Apocalypse is appreciated. For a time, the matter of the Apocalypse seems wild, austere, high, hard, perhaps inscrutable -- something unpractical, something not useful. Such impressions are due to spiritual infancy. Men ought to condemn themselves for such feelings. They ought to be very modest. They ought to assume, even if not able to perceive, that the Apocalypse must be wise and useful because an emanation of the divine mind. We must not set ourselves up as the standard of judgment. We are all fools to start with, if not to finish with. The first step in true progress is to know that we are ignorant. There is hope when we realize this. "But seest thou a man wise in his own conceit?" Solomon says, "There is more hope of a fool than of him." When we start with a right idea of ourselves, we shall be "as little

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children" as Jesus prescribes. We shall not measure everything by our impressions and conceptions. We shall not set ourselves up as the standard. We shall recognize that there must be things as much higher than our conceptions as heaven is higher than our puny stature of five or six feet. Recognizing this, we shall be prepared to ask what they are, if we can know them, and receive them in humility, however hard of apprehension, instead of scornfully rejecting them because higher than ourselves. This is a long step in the direction of wisdom -- to know that we are small and know nothing. Any other attitude is the attitude of fools, and it is written that God "taketh no pleasure in fools." God is wise, as manifest in our own mechanism and in all nature around. Because the Apocalypse is His, it bears the impression of His wisdom, which, however hard to receive at first, becomes a cause of joy and thanksgiving.

We have looked at the significance of the seals. We found a scroll introduced, sealed with seven seals, as illustrating the concealment in the mind of God of certain knowledge of future events, affecting Christ and his people. We found that Jesus was alone esteemed worthy to unloose those seals, or obtain access to that knowledge, the impartation of which by the Father to him qualified him to carry out the programme written in the symbolic scroll. We have seen him break seal after seal, or exhibit one after the other the events destined to occur in the various periods covered by the seals. We have come to the seventh, and find the figure changed. It is no longer a mere disclosing of what course affairs would take in the Roman Empire as affecting Christ and his brethren; it is a blowing of trumpets to summon events, so to speak, to bring judgments on the scene.

We all know what a trumpet blast is and for what it is used. It is mostly an instrument of military use -- to direct the movements of large bodies of men who could not otherwise be made aware of the will of the commander. Such an instrument, when used as a figure, must mean the urgent causing of unpeaceful events. The Apocalypse is not the first place in the Bible where the figure is used in this sense. Thus we read in Jeremiah 4:5: "Blow ye the trumpet in the land; cry, gather together, and say, Assemble yourselves, and let us go into the defenced cities." Again (Hos. 8:1), "Set the trumpet to thy mouth. He shall come as an eagle against the house of the Lord, because they have transgressed my covenant". Again (Joel 2:1), "Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain;" and again (Isa. 27:13), "The great trumpet

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shall be blown, and they shall come who were ready to perish in the land of Assyria."

Doubtless these allusions to the blowing of the trumpet originated in the use of trumpets in the convoking of the assembly of Israel in the wilderness, as they came out of the land of Egypt, in the monthly blowing of trumpets at the new moons, as enjoined. Still they exemplify a figurative use which finds its boldest illustration in the seven trumpets blown by the seven angels of the seventh seal.

But what was there calling for a different style of symbolism from the seals? The contemplation of the events of the sixth seal will supply the answer to this question. There was an entire change in the situation. Up to that time, Paganism was on the throne of the world, and the Roman Empire an empire of idolatry in consequence. Now concerning nations in that position, it is written that God had suffered them to walk in their own ways (Acts 14:16) on the principle that to whom little is given, little is required, and that the ground of condemnation is divine relation and responsibility (Amos 3:2). Nations, like men, though in honour, if they have no understanding are as the beasts that perish (Psa. 49:20). This was the relation of the Roman polity to the divine law under the Pagan Caesars. Rome was the political incorporation of the ignorance that is natural to man in relation to all divine things. But there was a change when Constantine came to the throne, and when the State was organically allied with the profession of the name of Christ. The friends of Christ for a time found themselves under the shadow of the throne, the Scriptures were accepted as the law of the State: a new order of things arose with the name of God written upon it, so far as professed subjection was concerned.

It was therefore natural that with such a change in the constitution of things in the world, there should be a change in the symbolism expressive of its divine relations. It was appropriate, too, that the new symbolism should be representative of a higher degree of responsibility than attached to Pagan Rome. The trumpets certainly were so. They intimated a direct bringing or causing judgments on the Roman body politic in its new relation, on account of its wrong doings against Christ, instead of merely an unfolding, by seal-breaking, of things that were to come.

The use of the trumpets is related to judgment. Of this, we have already looked at some illustrations from the prophets. It finds a rudimentary type in the destruction of Jericho. In fact the scheme of the Apocalypse would seem to find a foreshadowing in the mode adopted

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to bring that destruction about. The Israelites were to march round it seven days, the priests blowing trumpets of rams' horns as they marched. On the seventh day they were to march round the city seven times, after which the city should fall into their hands. A certain analogy will be perceived between this and the seven seals, the last of which contains the seven trumpets, the last of which again contains the seven vials, and the last of these the seven thunders, as the result of all of which, Babylon falls, and the world comes into the hands of Christ and his brethren. The Bible abounds with beautiful analogies, and this seems to be one of them.

We are introduced to the sounding of the trumpets in verse 7, chapter 8. Verse 6 informs us that the angels who received the seven trumpets on the opening of the seventh seal, "prepared themselves to sound." A careless reading would pass this over: but by the hand of Dr. Thomas, God has taught us to read the Apocalypse with carefulness instead of carelessness. There is nothing superfluous in the wording -- nothing put in to fill up. There is a meaning to everything. The preparation to sound has a meaning. There was in point of fact a period of providential preparation for the judgment events of the trumpets. Each of the trumpets brought invaders upon some part of the Roman Empire -- so exactly appropriate was the use of the trumpet to this part of Roman history -- the trumpet summoning armies to move. There was a preparation for these invasions -- an opening of the way to the invaders. These invaders in the first instance were mostly the barbarians who occupied the northern parts of Europe. The way had to be paved for their incursions, and for their ultimate triumph over the military discipline of Rome.

This occurred during the reign of Jovian, successor to Julian, who came first after Constantine. The Roman Empire was confined to the south of the river Danube. The territory to the north of that river was as little known to the Romans then as Central Africa is to us. The most that was known was that it was occupied by fierce and warlike tribes, whose barbarism and want of discipline, however, rendered them somewhat powerless. From these causes, they were for centuries easily kept at bay. But a change came when the time arrived to prepare for the judicial trumpets. This change occurred in its most marked form during the reign of Jovian, just before the commencement of the trumpets -- a reign that we must consider as the preparation period of verse 6. It originated in a struggle that took place between two of the barbarian races -- the Goths and the Huns. In this struggle, the Huns

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obtained the advantage; and the Goths being hard pressed, asked permission of the Roman generals to cross to the southern side of the Danube, to escape from the molestations of their successful enemies. The Roman generals consented, and the Gothic nation came over, and settled in Illyricum -- a district corresponding to modern Bosnia and Herzegovina, of which the world has recently heard so much. This was the beginning of the trumpet visitations, or rather the preparation for them. The Romans no longer had the Danube as a barrier between them and the barbarians. The barbarians were in their midst so to speak. The Goths grew numerous and formidable. To avert the danger of their presence, the Romans decided to take them into their pay as military auxiliaries. They gave them arms and money, and taught them the art of war, and used them as an addition to the Roman army. The measure, which was intended to make them harmless and allies, had the opposite effect. It converted them into a formidable foe. The Goths gradually woke to a sense of their power, and as the hour was approaching for the blast of the first trumpet, the Goths were getting into position for the work they had to do, in obedience to its summons.

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 third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up." Just realize the scene. After a getting-ready pause, a clarion blast breaks upon the stillness of the air: when the notes die away, there is a descent of hail, and you observe the forked lightning gleam and hiss here and there in its midst, and on the ground you see streamlets of blood, and scorched vegetation. This is a striking piece of symbolism. Let us glance at the events symbolized.

You will observe that the hail and fire were said to be "cast upon the earth". That this was the Roman jurisdiction, we have already seen under the seals. There is nothing strange in limiting the earth to the Roman Empire. It was the seat of civilization, outside of which, all was social waste and desert. It was the arena upon which the Spirit of God was developing its work by the gospel. Therefore, it was natural to speak of it as the earth or habitable in contrast with the regions and countries outside of it, from which came the elements of the judgments brought on Rome by the trumpets.

You will observe, however, that only "a third part of the earth" was affected by the trumpet. This ought to read "the third", which gives the key to what is puzzling at first. In the period to which it refers, the

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three sons of Constantine divided the Roman world among them -- the eastern, the western, and the central. Thus the Roman Empire was in three parts. The central third was THE third -- the Roman third peculiarly, because comprising the seat of government. Upon this, then, our attention is fixed as the part of the empire to be affected by the hail and the fire. What came as a matter of fact? In answer to this, we look at the barbarians admitted to the south of the Danube. There were the Goths, escaping from the Huns. But the Huns and the Goths became friendly, and the Huns wanted to emigrate southwards as well. They applied for the permission of the Romans. The Romans refused, but the Huns came without their consent, and added a new swarm of very dangerous neighbours to those already too near them. The Goths, nurtured by the Romans, and perceiving the growing weakness of their masters, became exacting in their demands. They wanted more pay and privileges than the Emperor could consent to, and his refusal was the letting loose of the judgment-events of the first trumpet. War broke out between the Romans and the Goths. A series of battles were fought, in which the Romans were worsted, and the Emperor himself finally slain. The result was the establishment of Gothic independence under a chief, who became their king -- Alaric -- a barbarian of fierce nature and considerable military talents. By and by, this Alaric felt his strength, and resolved, without the delays and circumlocutions of diplomacy, to lay the greatness of Rome in the dust. He assembled a large army of disciplined barbarians, and marched for the northern entrance of Italy. Prior to passing into Italy itself, he went westward and ravaged the beautiful provinces owing allegiance to Rome in that direction. The hail and the fire did their work effectually. The banks of the Rhine, which were crowned with elegant houses and well-cultivated farms, were laid waste. Suddenly, without warning to the unsuspecting inhabitants, the scene of peace and plenty was changed into a desert, and wide prosperous districts in an instant became smoking solitudes. Seventeen provinces of Gaul were subjected to this devastation. In two years, the horde of barbarians, increasing in violence by new accessions, swept over and desolated the whole of the country lying between the Alps, the ocean, and the Pyrenees. They drove the inhabitants before them in frightened crowds everywhere--that is, such as could escape their ruthless swords, carrying with them as much as they could rescue from the wreck of their houses and churches.

In A.D. 408, Alaric turned his march towards Rome itself. He

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passed the Alps and the Po, and proceeding along the eastern seacoast of Italy, made an easy prey of many cities, which he gave over to the pillage of his soldiers. Arrived before Rome, he commenced siege operations against a city which had been the unquestionable mistress of the world for ages, and had never been dishonoured by the presence of a foreign enemy. The experience of Jerusalem at the hands of Rome four centuries previous was now returned upon Rome's own head. Famine prevailed in the city: hunger dissolved the restraints of law and order. They murdered one another and devoured the bodies of their victims. Even mothers ate their slaughtered infants. Many thousands of the inhabitants expired in the streets and in their own houses for want of food, and the stench arising from their unburied bodies revived the scenes of Jerusalem. At length, Alaric accepted an enormous sum of money to retire; but it was only for a short time. The negotiations for peace fell through, and Alaric returned, and another siege followed with increasing horrors, and a third, in the next year. In the third siege the Goths obtained admission, and the city was given up to pillage. In six days, the Goths marched southward and carried fire and sword into the southern provinces of Italy. While so engaged, Alaric died, and the "fire and hail, mingled with blood" had expended themselves, to the destruction of the green grass and trees -- the respectable population -- of the central third of the Roman earth.

THE SECOND TRUMPET.

After this, there was an interval of peace. In twenty years, the time came for the second trumpet to sound. This was to affect the sea. "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 that were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed." We have already had to notice the mixing of the literal and symbolic as a characteristic of the scenes of the Apocalypse. The sea used symbolically stands for the populations of the earth (Rev. 17:15): but here, the sea is used geographically as indicative of the section of the Roman Empire next to be affected, viz., the maritime parts all along the coasts of the Mediterranean. Further on, the Euphrates is used symbolically of the power occupying Euphratean territory, and yet its employment is a literal indication of the territory where the power is to be found. In this there is mixture without confusion. The public are accustomed to it in the political cartoons of the day. Mr. Gladstone digging a grave for religious texts within sight of

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the Houses of Parliament in the background, is a picture misunderstood by none, though blending the literal and symbolic in a very marked manner.

The symbolic mountain of the second trumpet was to be cast into the literal sea. The "sea" of the Roman Empire is the Mediterranean Sea. What mountain was cast upon this sea with the destructive effects exhibited in the symbolism? The next page in the history of Roman troubles supplies the answer. It brings before us the Vandal nation which, under the first trumpet, had settled in Spain. This was the mountain as the sequel will show. It is no uncommon thing in the prophetic Scriptures to employ a mountain in this political sense. Babylon is styled "a destroying mountain" (Jer. 51:25): the kingdom of God a great mountain filling the whole earth (Dan. 2:35-44). The Vandal mountain was thrown upon the Roman sea in this way. In Spain, where the Vandals were established, jealousy broke out between two of the leading generals of the Roman army. This led to war between the two sections of the army owning their respective leadership. In the conflict that ensued, one of them enlisted the aid of the Vandals, who, becoming thus aware of the weakness of Rome, formed the purpose of subverting the Roman power in Africa. In execution of this purpose, the Vandals crossed the Straits of Gibraltar. The breadth across is only fifteen miles. Across this narrow neck of sea, Genseric, the Vandal leader, led his people, and proceeded with wonderful rapidity and vigour to overthrow Roman power all along the Mediterranean margin of Northern Africa. His career was a most successful one and mostly maritime. He formed a large navy, with which he scoured the coasts and islands of the entire Mediterranean, almost without opposition. His devastations were widespread and grievous. He carried horses and horse-soldiers in his ships, and wherever his ships came to anchor, these were landed, and carried fire and sword in all directions. Tidings of these grievous visitations reaching Rome, Rome attempted to stop them by fitting out a rival fleet, and sending it to Carthage to attack Genseric's fleet, which lay there on a certain occasion. Genseric heard of the approach of the Roman fleet, comprising hundreds of ships. He got ready fire ships, which were let loose among the Roman ships on their arrival. The Roman fleet caught fire and was destroyed amid scenes of terrible confusion, aggravated by the attacks of the Vandals. The Romans got together a second fleet, but Genseric anticipated their movements by sailing to Rome, and subjecting it to calamities of a like nature with

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those inflicted by Alaric. All these evils affected the Roman third of the empire. They involved the sweeping of all Roman ships from the sea and the destruction of all Roman opposition to the Vandals, within the maritime area of the Vandal triumph. Such events could not better be symbolized than by the precipitation of a burning mountain into the sea, to the destruction of the ships and souls. They occupied a period of twenty years, and bring us to the middle of the fifth century, and the sounding of

THE THIRD TRUMPET.

When the third angel sounded, "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." Ordinarily, a star falling from heaven means the fall of an eminent personage from power: but that cannot be the only meaning in this case, because of the effects following the fall. It fell upon a region described as "the third part of the rivers and fountains of waters", with the result of inflicting great and fatal bitterness on the populations of the country so described. This does not usually follow as the result of a fall from power. Therefore, it is the military motions of a political personage, who inflicts great suffering before disappearing from view, that are exhibited to us -- not only a star but a great star, a blazing meteoric body -- not fixed in the regular heavens, but having a wandering and short-lived place in the heavens -- a powerful military leader of brilliant but brief career. These features exactly answer to the case of the next chapter in Roman history: when the woes of the second trumpet had subsided, Attila, the king of the Huns, established in the Illyrian third of the Roman Empire, with the recognition of both the eastern and western sections of the empire, became a terrible scourge to the Roman or western third. His devastations were principally inflicted on the Alpine regions of Northern Italy, to which the description "the rivers and fountains of waters" is peculiarly applicable. As a characteristic description, it could not apply to any other region of the Roman Empire. The earth is cut up in that region as it is nowhere else with multitudinous rivers and streams, forming a complicated network covering the land. These are fed by the inexhaustible supplies descending from the eternal snows and glaciers of the Alpine mountain range. On these "the rivers and fountains of waters" in the Roman Empire, Attila's hand descended

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heavily. It is needless to recount particulars. Repeat the history of Alaric, and you have substantially the story of Attila. He made war on the Roman Empire on a formidable scale and with terrible effect. Success everywhere attended the march of his barbarian hordes, and desolation marked their track. Several provinces were depopulated by his armies. The only exception was on the eastern frontiers of France, where the Roman troops and their Gothic allies inflicted a check in the obstinate and bloody battle of Chalons. It was merely a check, however. It diverted the course of Attila's victories, but did not put a stop to them. It was necessary perhaps to give them the right direction. It sent him into Italy, where his work particularly lay. Here his power was irresistible. Wherever he went, according to an historian, "all was flight, depopulation, slaughter, slavery and despair."

Figuratively, he made the waters of public and private life bitter everywhere, with fatal effect to the drinkers. Wormwood was an appropriate name for the agent of such effects. But there seems a geographical reason for this name in addition. Wormwood (Apsinthos) is the name of a river in the Illyrian region ruled by Attila. This river would therefore be as characteristic of Illyria and the Illyrian ruler as the Nile is of Egypt or the Thames of England. It is a happy combination which in the same name gives us the local origin of "the great star" and the effect which his movements would produce on the western Roman third. When his work was done, his power and family disappeared. He was a great star while on the scene, but only a wandering star -- not a fixed luminary in the political heavens -- a meteor, which rushed and blazed with destructive brightness, and then disappeared in the midst of the destruction he caused.

Though, the destructive "great star" of the third trumpet thus twinkled out, the effects of its course were not of this meteoric character. The Roman Empire was going to pieces under these repeated blows. The successive inroads of the Goths and Vandals, Huns, etc., were disintegrating the empire of the Roman iron, and introducing the clay of the image feet. And they were laying the basis of the modern system of nations. In this respect, they fulfilled an important purpose in the plan of Providence. It was not the purpose of God that there should be another universal empire. The triumph of a succession of barbarian leaders, besides inflicting merited retribution on the destroyers of His word and His people, prevented the continuance of power at one centre. It broke up the vast

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fabric of human power erected by Augustus, and scattered the energies of the human race over a wide area, with the result of forming numerous centres of industry and refinement in the various capitals resulting from the subdivision of power. Thus was more effectively promoted that work of subduing and replenishing the earth as a necessary preparation for the kingdom of Christ. If we contrast the world of that age with the world of this, we see what has been done. The countries of Europe were at that time largely covered with forest and uninhabitable; now, they are ripe and ready for transfer to that government which is to break in pieces all human governments. It is another among many illustrations of the diversity of purposes served by one and the same divine instrumentality.

The 12th verse of chapter eight introduces us to what every reader of the Apocalypse has felt to be the obscure symbolism of

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 likewise." The meaning of this apparently impenetrable enigma is to be found in a contemplation of the events succeeding to those of the third trumpet. Those events involved the eclipse of the Roman sun, moon, and stars, in a third part of them: that is to say, a third part of the Roman Empire -- the western third -- was extinguished, and its place occupied by the kingdom of the Goths.

The events of the first, second, and third trumpets, as already remarked, had reduced the power of Rome to the last extremity -- he semblance of empire, but with none of the vigour that had for centuries controlled the world. There was still an emperor in Rome, but the barbarians whom the first three trumpets had called into the empire were the virtual masters of the State, and soon became its nominal and actual masters. The Emperor at this period was in fact a nominee of the barbarians. He was the son of one of Attila's ministers -- Orestes, the foreign secretary, and placed on the throne by that official. The name of this shadow of an emperor -- this last of the emperors -- was Romulus Augustulus. He was a weak man, and a mere tool in the hands of the barbarians, who finally disposed of him in this way. The barbarians demanded that the third part of the revenue of the country should be divided amongst them. To this, Romulus Augustulus and Orestes

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his father, would not consent, whereupon the barbarians revolted under the leadership of one of themselves, named Odoacer, in the war ensuing upon which, Romulus was overthrown. Romulus was then compelled by Odoacer to send his resignation to the Roman Emperor of the Eastern third (Zeno, reigning at Constantinople); and at the same time, to make request that "the throne of universal empire should be transferred from Rome to Constantinople", and that Odoacer should be appointed the representative of the Eastern Emperor in the west. This resignation and petition were accepted, and for fourteen years Odoacer, king of the Goths, reigned in Rome as the representative of the Eastern Roman Emperor.

But even this lingering light of Roman imperialism in the west was to be extinguished as the symbols required. Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths, made his appearance from the north, and in a succession of battles, overthrew the power of Odoacer, on whose assassination, A.D. 493, Theodoric set up the kingdom of the Goths in total independence of the Eastern Emperor. The Roman Empire then ceased to exist in the western third. The result was a state of things exactly answering to the symbols. The Roman sun, moon, and stars were shining in so far as the Roman Empire continued to exist in other parts; but they were under eclipse in the western third, which, historically considered, was the principal third, and therefore these bodies, considered as political symbols of the system, shone not for a third part of the Roman day and night. Plainly speaking, the fourth trumpet foreshadowed the extinction of the Roman Empire in the west, in a manner intelligible enough when it is recognized that a political system is considered as the figurative counterpart of the natural universe of sun, moon, and stars. The Roman system in the third part was brought under total eclipse by the events following on those of the third trumpet, which is the key to the otherwise dark symbols of the fourth.

The first four trumpets having accomplished their work in the west, attention was drawn to the remaining three, in words of foreboding which were amply justified by the terrible events that harassed and afflicted Europe for many centuries after the darkening of the third part of the Roman day and night. John "beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound". The meaning of this it will be our duty to consider in the next lecture


 
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