The State of Christianity.–
The Dying World.–
The Eastern Symbols.–
The Fallen Star.–
The Key of the Caaba.–
The Locusts.–
The Scourge of the World.–
The Duration of the Scourge.
The blast of the fourth trumpet, the last of the series of trumpets, representing the four winds that were held back, marks one of the most important eras in history.
As the trumpet angels come forth in succession the mighty tide of invasion rolls upon the vast empire that had long ruled the world, and after the fourth trumpet, Rome, for twelve hundred years a seat of power, and for over five hundred years the capital of the world, was overwhelmed and hopelessly crushed beneath the barbarian wave.
 Ancient history ends with A. D. 476, when the Roman fabric finally gave way before the Goths, the Vandals, and the Huns. From that period a new Europe begins.
The fresh blood of the northern hordes, [150] mingled with that of the civilized inhabitants of western Europe, begins the formation of the new races that lead the world at this day.
The Saxons, the Franks, the Goths, and the Lombards are represented in the nineteenth century by the Anglo-Saxon, the French, the Spanish, and the Italian.
 The Christianity of the West was deep-rooted and vigorous enough to overcome the Pagan faith of the northern invaders, and the new kingdoms which were formed out of the fragments of old Rome, all became Christian states.
It has already been seen that the trumpet angels are divided into two groups. There remain the three who have been called the woe angels, on account of the language applied to them in Chap. 8:13.
It is manifest that the first four have completed their work, and that the others are devoted to another and a distinct work, which shall be the source of great woe to a part of the inhabitants of the earth. This work must be at a later period, and hence must be after the year 476.
In order to enable the reader who is not well read in history to appreciate what will follow, it will be needful to give a short view of the condition of the world about one hundred years later. In all western and southern Europe, as far east as the Adriatic Sea, and in [151] northern Africa, the, Gothic nations were moulding their new kingdoms.
 In the East there existed a fragment of the old Roman Empire, with Constantinople as its capital. Its dominions embraced a part of the territory of modern Turkey in Europe and in Asia, and also Egypt in Africa.
 It professed the Christian faith, but there has seldom been a more corrupt state of society than existed in A. D. 600. Idolatry and saint worship had supplanted the simple faith of the apostles; luxury had undermined society; frivolity, effeminacy and licentiousness had taken the place of manhood.
The hierarchy ruled the Church, instead of Christ, and bishops were more ambitious to supplant rival bishops than to convert heathen, or to promote the spiritual condition of their dioceses.
The worldliness, excesses, license, and corruption which held unchecked sway in the cities and towns had caused tens of thousands who sighed for a purer life to flee from the haunts of men and to hide themselves, as hermits, in the recesses of the desert, or to bury themselves, as monks and nuns, in monasteries. Monasticism, unauthorized by the letter or spirit of Christianity, and destined finally to become utterly corrupt, was born of a yearning for a holier life.
In the two centuries that had passed since [152] the triumph of Christianity over Paganism, the unholy alliance of Church with State had led the former into practical apostasy from her ancient faith. The spiritual despotism which had overthrown the liberty of the children of God seemed to be almost universal, but the corruption of society was far greater in the East than in the West.
 The hierarchy ruled absolutely, and idolatry prevailed in both quarters of the world, but the recent acceptance of the Christian faith by the conquerors of the West, and their pure, vigorous blood, saved them from the effeminacy of the luxurious East.
Western rulers had little taste for theatres, eunuchs, dances, and harems. In the East a rottenness prevailed of which it is hard for us in this nineteenth century to form even a conception. The Western world had died and risen again. The East was slowly dying of corruption.


We are now prepared to listen to the trumpet of the fifth angel, and to behold the symbolism described by the prophet. I quote:
And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth; and to him was given the key of the 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 [153] 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 the 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 hair 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 wings 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 they had a king over them, 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. One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes, more hereafter. 9:1-12.
When the angel blows his trumpet, the apostle sees a key given to a falling star. This is used to open a pit. From it a smoke ascends, and the heavens are filled with darkness; from out of the smoke there emerge swarms of locusts that descend upon the earth to devour.
 It is needless that I should pause to describe the insect now mentioned. The grasshoppers that sweep down from the rainless deserts near the Rocky Mountains are the American [154] representatives of the Asiatic locust. But these locusts are peculiar, and John describes their features with great minuteness.
These are instruments of destruction under the fifth trumpet, and it will be well with us to note closely the characteristics that he names.
The locusts go forth in countless numbers to destroy wherever they descend. We would expect them to symbolize a numerous and destructive host. The term is often used by the prophets as an emblem of a numerous and destroying army.
We quote from Nahum 3:15. “The sword shall cut thee off.
 It shall devour thee as the locust. Thy crowned princes are as the numerous locust, and thy captains as the grasshoppers,” etc. John notes a remarkable circumstance. Other locusts destroy every vestige of vegetation. These destroy no green thing.
Their hurtful power is turned upon men,–men who are not engaged in the service of God. Whatever may be signified, they shall spare the fields and turn their rage upon the inhabitants of the earth. Still, while they shall torment men, their object shall not be to kill them.
 They will not blast nations from the face of the earth. They shall continue this work of torment for five months. We are told in Ezekiel, that a day shall stand for a year. It does commonly in prophetic language. We [155] will find that such is its usual meaning in the book of Revelation. This torment would then be continued for a period of one hundred and fifty years.
It has been seen, thus far, that each angel represents the movement of some people upon the Roman Empire. Though Rome had fallen, still the Eastern Empire remained, and it would be entirely in harmony with the probabilities if the next movement should strike it with overwhelming force.
It will be needful to inquire, from what quarter of the world the blow will come, what people will strike the blow, and what is the meaning of the various symbols. It is manifest that the scene is transferred from the West to East, and all the symbolism points with unerring precision to one country which had not before this figured in history. That country is.


The locust, the groundwork of the symbolism, is peculiarly Arabic. It was the “east wind,” the wind that swept from Arabia, that brought the locusts into Egypt, at the time of the exodus of the children of Israel.
 The inhabitants of Syria declare that the locusts come to them from Arabia. Like the American grasshopper, they are bred in rainless deserts, [156] at irregular intervals, sweep down with resistless power upon more fertile lands.
The sandy wastes of Arabia have always been a breeding ground for locusts. The locusts of the vision have teeth like lions; the lion has always had its home upon the Arabian deserts.
They also have a shape like horses; naturalists consider Arabia the native country of the horse, and from time immemorial it has produced the most famous horses of the world. Finally, the tail and sting of the locusts is like that of the scorpion, another animal bred on the Arabian sands.
 The zoology of the symbolism points beyond a doubt to the portion of the world in which Arabia is located. I will presently inquire whether any mighty movement, fitly described by the imagery, was inaugurated in Arabia in the age to which we have been led.
Not only the facts just mentioned, but the description of the men symbolized by the locusts, point to Arabia. The locusts “were like unto horses prepared for battle.” The Arabians, unlike the Goths, Vandals, and Huns, were an army of horsemen, and moved over a country almost with the swiftness of the locust.
 Let the reader note the following facts concerning the Arabs:
 1. They came forth from the home of the locust.
2. They all fought on horseback. There was not a foot-soldier in the [157] armies which in A. D. 632, assailed the Eastern Empire.
3. They wore upon their beads something like crowns of gold. The historians of the period often speak of them as the “turbaned Arabs.”
 Ezekiel (Chap. 23:42) speaking of the Sabeans, which were an Arabian tribe, says, “The Sabeans of the wilderness who put upon their heads beautiful crowns.” The yellow turbans of the Arab horsemen, at a little distance, would strikingly resemble “crowns of gold.”
4. The locusts had “the faces of men.” The Jews and Arabs wore long, patriarchical beards. The Roman and northern races shaved the face. John notes that these locusts have the distinguishing mark of manhood in the East,–the unshorn board.
5. But to the faces of men is added “the hair of women.” The female distinction is long hair, and evidently John beholds, as the riders rush by, long hair flowing from their shoulders and streaming in the air. Did the Arabs in the seventh century wear long hair?
Pliny, who was the contemporary of John, speaks (Nat. His. 7:28) of “the turbaned Arabs with their uncut hair.” Ammianus Marcellinus in the fourth, and Jerome in the fifth century, each speak of the long-haired Arabs.
An Arabian poem, Antar, written in Mahomet’s time, often speaks of the hair of its heroes flowing down upon their [158] shoulders. We quote: “He adjusted himself, twisted his beard, and folded his hair under his turban, drawing it up from his shoulders.” 6. But the locusts had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron.”
 The historians of the Arabian wars constantly speak of the iron coats of mail. Gibbon, Vol. V., p. 132, speaks of seven hundred horsemen with steel cuirasses. Again, Vol. V., p. 13: “Three hundred cuirasses were a part of the spoil.” Mahomet, in the Koran, 11-104 says: “God hath given you coats of mail to defend you in your wars.”
From this array of facts it seems certain that we are pointed to Arabia, and that we must look there to see the locusts gather that rush upon the earth. Do we find any remarkable historical movement arising in this region and subsequent to the fall of Rome?


Before the beginning of the seventh century the Arabs were little known to the historian. Occasionally they had made a marauding excursion beyond their borders, but they were only feared, as troublesome robbers who could hide themselves from pursuit in their deserts.
 While their trackless sands and poverty had protected them from conquest, they had never proved formidable to neighboring states, and had exercised as little influence upon the political destinies of the world as the blanketed Indians of the Northwest.
But early in the seventh century they rush out from their native wastes, and throw themselves upon the world with a swiftness, a fury, and a success that hardly finds a parallel in the history of nations. The creation of the Arabian, or Saracen Empire as it is usually called, was due to the work of Mahomet.
About A. D. 609, in the deserts of Arabia, one of the most remarkable, most talented, most brilliant leaders of men that the world has ever known, began his work. He claimed to be the prophet of God. He was a star, but a fallen star; a prophet, but a false prophet.
 To extend his religion and reign he resorted to the sword, and his converts became a race of warriors. By the year 632, all Arabia had been subjected to his dominion, and in that year, the Arabian armies, countless as the locusts of their own deserts, all on horseback, not a foot-soldier among them, all the fierce followers of Mahomet rushed forth from the country of the locusts to assail the world.
They appeared with “horses prepared for war.”
In the year 632, the Saracens marched out of Arabia to subvert the world to the sway of the Koran. Syria, a part of the Eastern Empire, [160] was instantly overrun by the swift bands of cavalry who dashed in every direction, with a rapidity unknown before in war. In A. D. 634, the city of Damascus was taken, and has ever since been a Mahometan city. In 637, the city of Jerusalem fell, and the churches were converted into mosques.
In 638, Egypt was conquered, and their armies then pushed westward to the banks of the Atlantic Ocean. In 675, they had poured northward to the borders of Europe, had crossed the Hellespont, besieged Constantinople, and after a long siege had been driven back from its walls.
 In 711, they crossed the Straits of Gibraltar into western Europe, and conquered Spain. In 716, they laid siege to Constantinople a second time, and were, a second time baffled. In 721, they crossed the Pyrenees into France to attempt the conquest of northwestern Europe.
At this period the Saracen dominion extended from Central Asia over Persia, Arabia, Syria, westward over Africa to the Pillars of Hercules, and in Europe it embraced Spain and Portugal. Within a hundred years from the time that the Arabs emerged from the desert they had secured the dominion of Asia, Africa, and southwestern Europe.
As a mighty conquering force, history makes no record of one more remarkable than the establishment of the [161] Arabian dominion. Surely we have a movement significant enough to meet the demand, springing from the very country, and carried on by the very people indicated by the prophet. It remains for me, to inquire whether this movement corresponds to the details of the inspired description.


I have shown that the rise of Mahometanism. corresponds, in its time, country, people, and character, fully with the general features of the prophecy. I will next take up the various features of the symbolism in the order they are presented.
The first thing that we notice is that the apostle saw a falling star which inaugurated the invasion of the locusts. We have already found that a star is symbolical of a leader. Attila was represented by a burning star.
This falling star would evidently refer to some brilliantly endowed, but wicked leader of men. That a man, and not a literal star, is referred to is shown by the next statement that to him were given the keys of the bottomless pit.
The fact that the star had fallen would seem to indicate that, at the time the keys of the pit were given to it, it did not possess the pre-eminence it once enjoyed. If a star represents a king or prince, a fallen star would [162] represent a prince who had been shorn of his power.
It is remarkable how these details are fulfilled in the case of Mahomet. He belonged by birth to the princely house of Koreish, the ruling family of Mecca. At his birth his grandfather was the ruling prince.
 His grandfather and his father, in the view of surrounding nations, were prominent stars. But, just after his birth his father died, and very soon after, his grandfather also. The boy, apparently destined to rule his country, was set aside, and a different family received the headship of the tribe, the governorship of Mecca, and the keys of the Caaba.
Though by birth a star, he becomes now a fallen star, his prospects for life apparently blasted, and at manhood he entered into the service of a rich widow as a servant, in which capacity he visited Damascus, to traffic in the markets of that great city.
 It is probable that be brooded over the thought that he was a servant in a city where his ancestors ruled at his birth, and that this thought caused him to devise the means by which he should attain to power. Thus it is seen that he was a star, a fallen star, and his history shows us that he again attained to the prominence of a star of the first magnitude, though shining with a baleful light. [163]

To this star was given a key. The key can have only two uses. It may indicate that the doors of the bottomless pit shall be closed, or that they shall be opened. The sequel shows that they were opened, and the language evidently foreshadows that the hosts of hell shall come forth, or that there shall be a gathering of the instruments of wickedness.
Perhaps the term has not only this, but still further significance. The “star,” or ruler of Mecca, held the key of the Caaba, a kind of idol shrine, and the possession of that key in a family was significant of its princely power. The loss of the key had made Mahomet a fallen star.
The key of the bottomless pit now given him, not only restores him to the position of ruler of his own countrymen, but makes him a prince among the kings of the earth.
The term translated pit is used in Ezekiel 31:17, Luke 8:31, and Rev. 20:1, in the sense of hell, or the abode of the prince of darkness.
That is evidently the sense here, and it is implied that the fallen star shall employ hellish agencies to aid him in his work. This could not be fulfilled more effectively than by a system of imposture, or false religion, proceeding from the father of lies, and deceiving a large part of the race.
This idea is confirmed by the statement that a [164] smoke should come forth that darkened the earth. It is a fact that at this period a false religion arose, led by Mahomet, an impostor; a vile system which taught men inhumanity and lust, to live bloody and sensual lives, and to look for a sensual heaven.
This false and hellish system “darkened” a large portion of the world, and there are still vast regions where the light of Christianity once prevailed which have exchanged the Bible for the Koran. The Christian faith was buried under the ruins of a country tracked and desolated by the Arabian locusts.
 I wish the reader to distinctly note that it is not stated in the case of any other trumpet that the powers of the pit are employed. No other leader appears as the prophet of the new and false religion. It is Mahomet alone who employs the powers of the bottomless pit to secure empire and rule the earth.
It is said that the “locusts came out of the smoke.” This is a statement of great importance. It means that the armies symbolized by the locusts were gathered by means of the imposture indicated by the smoke which Mahomet let out of the pit.
Never was a prophecy more accurately fulfilled. The Arabians were unknown as a conquering power until they had been filled with the fierce, stern, pitiless fanaticism taught by the Koran. Out of [165] the “smoke of the new religion” they emerged and rushed upon the world to torment, to sting, and to darken. Let us observe the work of the locusts as described by the apostle.
1. They do not destroy the grass of the earth, or trees, or any green thing. They injure men. Did the Saracen hosts adopt such a policy? Moses (Deut. 20: 19,) from motives of mercy had commanded the Jews to abstain from devastation in time of war. Mahomet adopted the same course from policy.
At the very time when the Saracens rushed forth upon the Eastern Empire, the Caliph Abubeker, the successor of Mahomet, commanded, (Gibbon Vol. V., p. 189,) “Cut down no palm trees, nor burn fields of corn. Cut down no fruit trees.
They shall not endeavor to destroy lands, but shall attack the human race. The policy of the Saracens was in great contrast with that of the Goths. They destroyed “the trees of one third of the earth, and every green thing.” The historians speak continually of the “desert places” that they had made; but the Arabs had learned in their almost treeless deserts to cherish the tree as heaven’s choicest blessing, and they went forth with the avowed purpose to conquer and occupy the countries they assailed.
Hence, in their own interest they sought, and were commanded, to preserve the trees in the regions which they [167] invaded. It is a remarkable circumstance that the opposite course of both the Goths and the Saracens should be so particularly noted in Revelation.
2. It is also stated that they “shall not kill them.” It is remarkable that these warriors did not go forth to slay. They were missionaries. They went to save. They attacked their enemies upon the battle-field, but when resistance ended, and their foes were converted, they ceased the work of destruction.
A part of the same marching orders from which we have just quoted, also gave command that they “should not kill religious persons who were trying to serve God in another way.” Gibbon, Vol. V., p. 189.
Perhaps, however, this has another meaning. It may mean that they did not politically kill, or annihilate either Church or State in Christendom. Though they besieged Constantinople twice, the Eastern Empire still survived, and the Eastern Church continued to exist.
3. But their torment should be terrible, like the sting of a scorpion. Though the Saracens did not seek to exterminate, they sought to reduce all to slavery or to submission to the Koran. They gave to the nations where they marched their choice of three things.
(1) The Koran;
(2) the payment of tribute and [167] subjection to slavery; or,
(3) to be put to the sword. Abubeker commanded, “Cleave the skulls of the priests unless they will become Mahometan.” Gibbon, Vol. V., p. 189. The condition of Christians in the countries overrun was terrible. Under the fierce sting of the scorpions of the desert the torment was almost unendurable.
 It was so hard to bear that perhaps the majority of the population abandoned their old faith, which they regarded true, and accepted one that they esteemed false. Those who did not, no doubt, were often constrained “to seek death” as a refuge, but instead of being slain, were reduced to a pitiless slavery.


We will next consider the duration of this torment. It was to continue five months, or one hundred and fifty days. We have already stated that in Revelation uniformly, and usually in all the prophets, the day is the symbol of a year. This would imply that the locusts should scourge the world for one hundred and fifty years.
It has been seen already that, although Mahomet began his work earlier, it was not until about A. D. 632, that the Arabs had been compacted, organized, and filled with the fanatical fury needful to enable them to burst [168] forth upon the world.
Before this they did not begin their “torment.” Marching forth in that year, they began an almost uninterrupted series of conquests in the countries then occupied by the Church. Within a few years the congregations planted by the apostles, those of Palestine, Syria, Egypt and Asia Minor, had been crushed under the tread of the Arabian horsemen, and within a century, the “torment” had extended from the Euphrates to the Pyrenees Mountains.
 In 732, just a century after they emerged from the desert, their armies crossed into France, were met by Charles Martel in the battle of Tours, defeated, driven back over the Pyrenees, and their progress stayed. In 750, the vast empire of the Caliphs was rent by dissensions and divided.
The family upon the throne, the Ommiades, was supplanted by the Abassides, and fled from the East to Spain, where it established a new capital; and in the year 762, the usurper removed his capital from Damascus to Bagdad, upon the Tigris.
 Thus moved to a distance from Christendom, and weakened by division, the Saracens gradually gave up their designs of universal conquest, and the rude Ishmaelites whose hands had been against every man, who had sought to conquer the world, now began to cultivate the arts of peace, and to think of living on [169] friendly terms with other nations. In 781, the Caliph Haroun Al Rashid was their ruler.
 This is the golden age of the Saracen power. This is the era of the Arabian Nights. Bagdad was called the “City of Peace.” How long is this from the time when the torment that had stricken half the world began? In A. D. 632, the Arabs assailed the nations, to which date one hundred and fifty years may be added. This would bring us to 782, the second year of Haroun Al Rashid’s reign. Did the torment continue longer?
 Nay. He was engaged in friendly correspondence with the Christian rulers of Europe, and from this time the Saracens ceased their efforts to make the world Mahometan. Their aggressive wars were forever ended.
 Their weakening effect upon the Eastern Roman Empire was over. As far as they have to do with its destruction their work was finished,–completed one hundred and fifty years after it began!
Thus we find, next in order after the fall of Rome in 476, signified by the fourth trumpet, that the scene of the mighty events is transferred to the East. From the deserts, the home of the locusts, there emerge a people corresponding in all respects to the symbolism.
That people changed the map of the world and founded a mighty religious empire. For a [170] period of one hundred and fifty years they continued to torment the nations of the earth by their conquests, but after that period the Saracen Empire abandoned the attempt to conquer the Christian world. Its aggressive warfare was forever ended.
Other questions might arise, but I will only take space to ask: Did they assail men who had not the seal of God in their foreheads?
 They assailed an apostate Church. Of the condition of the Eastern Church at this time I will have more to say under the discussion of the next trumpet, but the remarks in the introduction to this chapter indicate its lamentable corruption.
 I believe that every candid reader will admit that prophecy was never fulfilled more surprisingly than John’s prediction of the scourge of Arabian locusts. [171]
[VOTA 150-171]



The Silence in Heaven.–
The Prayers of the Saints.–
The Western Roman Empire, the Theatre of
the Four Angels.–
The Rush of the Goths upon Rome.–
The Land Scourged, Red with
Blood and Blackened with Fire.–
The term Third Part Discussed.–
The Second Angel
and the Scourge of the Sea.–
The Vandals.–
The Romans Swept from the Seas.–
The City Pillaged.–
Attila, the Hun; Buried Under the Danube.–
The Fourth Angel.–
Rome Overwhelmed.–
The Sun, Moon and Stars of a Third Part of the Earth
The Dark Ages.
We now pass down the records of the world’s history to the beginning of a new period. In the seventh chapter the prophet has portrayed the four winds as held back from the work of destruction until the servants of God are sealed.
 That work has now been accomplished. They can be held back no longer, but will now burst upon the world in fury. Their movement and the consequences that follow when they are let forth, are presented in the opening of


I quote from the beginning of the eighth chapter: [130]

And when he had opened the seventh seal, 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 trumpets. 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 incense 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 fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound. 8:1-6.
The Lamb opened the seventh and last seal of the mysterious book. This is not followed by immediate action as in the other seals, but there fell upon heaven and earth an awful silence. A hush is in the heavens for half an hour.
It is the calm, before the storm; the hush before the rush of battle; the quiet that precedes and presages the awful play of the stormy elements. Then seven angels appear with seven trumpets in their hands. As there have been seven seals, so now under the last seal there are seven trumpets.
The last of these seven trumpets, the seventh trumpet under the seventh seal, will be the trumpet of the great archangel who shall summon the tribes of earth, the sleeping as well as the living nations, to the bar of eternal judgment. The seventh seal will not be completed until the [131] last trumpet contained under that seal is blown.
I wish every reader to note particularly that the full period embraced under the seven seals, does not close until the seventh trumpet effects its mission. The trumpet is a warlike instrument used to sound the charge of armies.
It is a symbol, therefore, of the rush of hosts of war. We have found that four angels held the four winds; it will be found that four angels with four trumpets stand arrayed first, separated from the remaining three angels, and that these four correspond to four invasions that crushed Rome, the mistress of the world, into final ruin.
Before the awful blast is blown an angel is seen with a golden censer filled with incense to which are added the prayers of all the saints, and “the smoke of the incense from the prayers of the saints ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand,” a cheering assurance to the Church that, during the terrible scenes through which she should pass, God would hear the prayers of his people and deliver them from every evil.
 Voices and thunderings, and earthquakes might move the earth, but they would be safe. Then the seven angels prepared to sound. The awful hush before the storm is over. The prayers of the saints are heard.
Before I proceed to explain the meaning of each trumpet, it will be well to give some [132] general idea. It has been found that the symbolism thus far has mostly referred to the history of that great empire which held the Church in its bosom, and was equivalent to the ancient civilized world.
 A period about the close of the fourth century has been reached, and the forces that shall bring the empire to dissolution are now ready to burst upon it in fury. These are symbolized by the trumpet angels.
 There are four winds that were held back, represented by four angels, and when these blow their trumpets there move, in succession the four great invasions that bring the old Roman Empire, the Western Empire, with Rome as its capital, to ruin.
The date, of the first of these invasions, or rather the sack of the Imperial City, was A. D. 409. The second began earlier, but reached its culmination in A. D. 422, when Rome was a second time pillaged. In the third invasion eight hundred thousand fierce warriors scourged and scathed and blackened all Gaul and Italy until about A. D. 440, and in 476 the last vestige of the imperial power passed away forever.
In the East, however, there remained another Roman Empire, with Constantinople for its capital. There remain three trumpet angels, called the woe angels. Of these, two symbolize [133] the Saracen and the Turkish invasions, which resulted in its overthrow.


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. 8:7.
The angel sounds and the trumpet blast of battle is blown. Then the apostle sees hail and fire mingled with blood cast upon the earth, and they destroy one-third part of the trees and the green grass of the earth. It is not hard to discover the meaning.
The trumpet must refer to the rush of armies. Hail is a destroying agency sent of old by God upon Egypt in the days of its sin. This would imply that God was sending elements of destruction of some kind. Fire and blood point directly to war.
Look upon a scene of war. See the running blood of the slain, the burning towns and cities, the trees leveled with the earth, the blackened, scathed, and desolated lands. Look upon the desolation in the lands torn and rent by contending hosts, and then see how appropriately these figures describe the ravages of war.
Have we corresponding facts of history?
 About A. D. 400, the “four winds” could be held no longer. The Goths gathered out of the mysterious lands of the unexplored North, and, like [134] a mighty torrent throw themselves, a mighty, dauntless, savage host, upon Rome.
 Barbarous as the Indians of the desert, they left behind their march, scarred, scorched, blackened, bloody and desolated lands. Countries blooming like gardens were turned into treeless deserts. In A. D. 409, under Alaric, their king, they descended on Italy.
 It had not seen the face of a foreign enemy for eight hundred years. At last the hosts gathered around the Imperial City. After a long siege, in the dead hour of night, the gates were opened by the hands of traitors and the barbarians rushed in.
 For three days the sack went on before they were glutted with blood and spoil.
Rome was taken, but this did not end the Roman power. Eight days after the fall of the great city, Alaric was dead, and the Goths, bereft of their king, left without a leader, hurried from the country and buried themselves from sight in the regions of the North. Rome was dreadfully weakened, but still survived.
The iron hail of war, the fire of burning towns and cities mingled with the blood of the slain defenders, the scorched and blackened lands denuded of their fruit trees, and the grass trodden under foot by the march of armies, all correspond surprisingly with the language of the Scripture.
 It is strange, also, how the [135] infidel Gibbon has chosen the very language of inspiration to describe some of the events of this period. I will quote a few phrases found in his thirty-first chapter and descriptive of the great invasion of Alaric and the Goths.
 “The tremendous sound of the Gothic trumpet” stirred the hosts to invasion. “At the first sound of the trumpet the Goths left their farms” to rush on in invasion. “The Gothic conflagration” consumed the empire. “Blood and conflagration and the burning of trees and herbage marked their path.”


There is one expression that I have not yet noticed, which occurs several times in the book of Revelation, and about which there has been considerable discussion. Under the first of the trumpet angels “one third part of the trees was burned up, and all green grass.”
As we have already found that the “earth” meant by John, is the Roman Empire this would imply that one-third of that empire was particularly scourged.
When the second angel sounds (verses 8 and 9) the third part of the sea became blood, a third part of the creatures in the sea died, and a third part of the ships were destroyed. When the third angel (verses 10 and 11) sounded, a burning star fell upon a third [136] part of the rivers, and a third part of the waters became wormwood.
 When the fourth angel sounded (verse 12) a third part of the sun, and or the moon and stars was smitten. If the reader will observe the reading closely he will see that these four “third parts” described may all refer to the same third of the Roman world.
The first third refers to the scourging of one third of the land; the second, to one third of the sea; the third, to one third of the rivers, and the fourth, to one third of the heavens above. All combined, land, sea, rivers, and sky, would imply the scourging of one third part of the world.
 Let it be noted particularly that these need not be in different quarters of the earth, but all together, and that the first four of the trumpet angels may unitedly scourge the land, sea, rivers and heavens of one third of the earth which was present to the mind of the prophet, or one third of the Roman Empire.
In the ninth chapter we have a description of the work of devastation wrought by the fifth and sixth trumpet angels, called also the woe angels. It is stated of the sixth angel that, by the agencies loosed when his trumpet is blown, one third part of men were killed.
This angel, therefore, scourges a second third of the world inhabited by civilized men. As the first [137] four have together scourged one third, these, united with the sixth angel, scourge two thirds of the earth. There remains one third, and there also remains the fifth angel, whose work is described in chap. 9:1-11.
 It is not expressly stated that he scourges the remaining third, but is apparently implied, and the implication is confirmed by the facts.
I now inquire if the earth of John, or the Roman Empire, was divided into three distinct parts at the period when these prophecies were fulfilled. I quote from Gibbon, Chap. LIII:
From the age of Charlemagne to that of the Crusades, the world (for I overlook the remote monarchy of China) was occupied and disputed by the three great empires, or nations of the Greeks, the Saracens, and the Franks.
The common appellation of Franks was applied by the Greeks and Arabians to the nations of the West, who stretched beyond their knowledge to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.

The three great nations of the world, the Greeks, the Saracens, and the Franks, encountered each other on the plains of Italy. Chap. LVI.

After the restoration of the Western Empire by Charlemagne and the Othos, the names of Franks and Latins acquired an equal signification and extent–Ibid.
We may still farther quote Harris (Philological Inquiries. Part III. Chap. I.), who, in discussing the literature of the Middle Ages, speaks of the division of the world into three parts, from the fifth to the fifteenth centuries. It will [138] be seen that he makes the same divisions that are noted by Gibbon:
A cursory disquisition illustrated by a few select instances, will constitute the subject of the present essay; and these instances we shall bring from three classes of men, who each had a large share in the transactions of those times; from the Byzantine Greeks, the Saracens or Arabians, and from the inhabitants of Western Europe, at that time called Latins. * * * Three classes of men during that interval are conspicuous, the Saracens or Arabians, the Latins or Franks, inhabitants of Western Europe, and the Byzantine Greeks.
It is thus apparent that during the long period of a thousand years, a period embraced in the fulfillment of the visions of John, the civilized world was divided into three distinct parts, and that these were clearly marked in history.
According to this view the first four of the trumpet angels combine to scourge one part, the sixth angel scourges a second part, and the fifth scourges the remaining third.
As we trace, the fulfillment of prophecy this will be found to be in harmony with the facts. The first four angels desolate Western Europe, the Latin portion of the earth, and the Mediterranean sea, and together put an end to the western Roman Empire.
 The fifth angel lets loose the Saracen invasion which scourges and conquers the Saracen third of the world. With the blast of the sixth angel the Euphratean horsemen are loosed to pour their myriads, [139] on the Greek third of the world, to overthrow it and to establish the Turkish Empire upon its ruins.
I have been thus particular in explaining the term third part, because it occurs a number of times in Revelation, and may be explained once for all.


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. 8:8, 9.
When the second angel sounds, the apostle sees a great burning mountain cast into the sea, and one-third part of the sea becomes blood. There follows a destruction of one third of the ships, and all the inhabitants of the sea.
The trumpet, the blood, and the destruction all point us again to war. The theatre will now be the sea; before, it was fixed on the land. The third part has already been explained, and implies that the scene of these ravages will be in the western Roman Empire, the Latin “third part of the world.”
 The devastation will be mainly upon and around the Roman Seas, the Western half of the Mediterranean. The “burning mountain cast into the sea” will scourge and ruin the seas and sea coasts of the [140] Latin “third part” of the world. The terms employed indicate that the destruction will be very great.
We are to ever bear in mind that this is a vision. The apostle sees a mighty mass of fire like a burning mountain cast into the sea, and then he beholds the sea turning the color of blood. In that bloody sea death reigns, and it appears to him that one third of the ships and of the inhabitants of the sea are destroyed.
 A part of the symbolism is plain, but what does the burning mountain signify?
We have before said that a mountain signifies a great kingdom or power. It may mean a mighty, conspicuous king or kingdom. The Savior’s kingdom is so alluded to in Daniel’s vision:
“The stone that smote the image became a great mountain.” This burning mountain would then indicate a raging volcanic power that should smite from the sea. Is there such a power that had a part in the overthrow of Rome?
About A. D. 422, another mighty horde poured down from the North, whose savage desolation and destructive course have added their name, as a new word, to our language. The principal tribe was called the Vandals, from whence our word vandalism.
 They rushed over Gaul, swept through Spain, leaped over the narrow straits [141] of Gibraltar, and wrested northern Africa from the Roman dominion. Then, in order that they might assail Rome on the seas and carry their armies to the islands and to Italy, they built fleets and struggled for the mastery of the Mediterranean.
For six hundred years no ship hostile to Rome had disputed the mastery of the sea, but now it becomes the theatre of war. Fleets meet in the shock of battle; the sea is reddened with the blood of the slain; the Roman ensign goes down, dyed in blood; the islands of the sea fall into the hands of the fierce barbarian, and at last, near thirty years after the contest began, their fleets land their armies in Italy, and they rush upon Rome.
 The city is besieged, falls, and for fourteen days a pitiless barbarian soldiery spare neither age nor sex. The spoil gathered for eight hundred years, from a hundred conquered nation, is carried away and loaded upon the Vandal fleets, and the blasted, scourged, and pillaged Capital is abandoned as unworthy to be held as a permanent possession.
The second of the “four winds” held back by the great angel has rushed forth, a second “trumpet” has blown; Rome has been terribly smitten from the sea, but she is not yet destroyed. In a few months Genseric, the Vandal king, was dead, and Rome was again for a [142] little season, free from its invaders.
The reader will not fail to note that this great disaster to Rome comes from the sea, that the, seas of the “third part” of the world are conquered, and that their dominion passes out of the hands of the Romans after being held six hundred years.


And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon a 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. 8:10, 11.
The third angel sounds the charge of battle. Now the apostle beholds a mighty meteor, a burning star, a shooting star, that falls upon the rivers and fountains of waters. Where it falls they become bitter as wormwood, and are full of death.
 This evidently presages a time of great calamity and death in some way connected with the rivers of the Roman Empire. A star, as I have before said, would refer to some mighty chieftain. This is a blazing meteor that flashes with brilliancy and then expires.
Who can be meant? None other but Attila, who styled himself the scourge of God. The next of the series of the four invasions that precipitated the downfall of Rome was that led by Attila the Hun.
Before A. D. 440, the Roman had never heard of [143] the Hungarian nation. About that time there suddenly appeared, as a meteor would flash in the sky, a warrior upon the banks of the Danube, with eight hundred thousand fighting men under his banners.
 They had come from the depths of Central Asia, marched north of the Euxine Sea through Russia, and now knocked at the river boundary of the Roman Empire. Overcoming opposition to their passage of the Danube, they rushed westward, crossed the Rhine, and on the river Marne were met in conflict by the hosts of Rome.
 The historians tell us that the blood of slaughtered heroes made the river run with blood, and that from one hundred and fifty thousand to three hundred thousand bodies of the dead attested the fury of the conflict.
Turning southward, on the banks of the river Rhone, the hosts met again in fury. Then, descending from the Alps, the fierce warrior, on the banks of the river Po, contended for the mastery of Italy. Victorious, he marched southward to seize the imperial prize.
Unable to contend longer, Rome sent a priestly deputation to ask him to depart. They told him that Alaric had pillaged Rome, and in three days after was dead, that Genseric had sacked it again, and in a few months had expiated his crime by death.
 They worked upon the [144] superstitions of the fierce warrior. Loaded with spoil, he turned his armies from a ruined country, and, leaving Italy behind, made Buda on the river Danube his capital, and founded the Hungarian nation.
 When he died, his followers turned the waters of the Danube from its course, buried him in its bed, and then let them return to flow over the grave of the hero. Beneath the waters of the river Danube still lie the bones of the star called Wormwood, that fell upon the rivers. Rome, weakened, ready to topple to ruin, was left standing to await the blast of the fourth trumpet.
The first trumpet sounds the invasion of Alaric the Goth, who sacked Rome in 410. The second trumpet sounds the Vandal conquest of the sea, and the second sack of Rome by the pirate Vandals, who assailed it from their ships.
 The third trumpet sounds the fierce rush of Attila the Hun, the Wormwood of the rivers, the fierce warrior who first appeared to Roman view on the river Danube, then fought mighty conflicts on the Rhine and Marne, then in the river system of Italy, on the Po, ruined the Roman armies, and, at last, was buried under the turbulent current of the river Danube, where his moldering ashes will rest until the resurrection.
How much like a “burning star,” a meteor, was Attila, when we remember that in [145] three years from his first appearance on the borders of the Roman Empire he had run his brilliant course and was dead! How much like wormwood of the rivers when we remember that he made them bitterness and mourning and death to the Roman world!
One of the four hurtful angels yet remains. Rome, scarred, bleeding, pillaged, great in her mighty past, trembling with weakness and fear, yet survived.
The feet of iron seen by Nebuchadnezzar in the image of the vision interpreted by Daniel, had become weak as miry clay. The empire that had given its official sanction to the crucifixion of Christ, had carried the great apostle to the Gentiles a prisoner in chains to its capital city, had sent him to the dungeon and to the scaffold, and had striven in vain to “abolish the Christian name from the earth,” still showed the breath of life in its decaying body, but required only the rush of the fourth wind to fall into helpless ruin.


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. 8:12.
The fourth “wind” rushes forth as the fourth angel blows the charge of battle. The effect is [146] darkness. The smitten sun, moon, and stars refuse to give their usual light, and a third part of the day and night is filled with darkness.
I have before stated that, in the interpretation of symbolism, the sun, moon, and stars are the symbols of kings, dignitaries, and great men of the earth.
The blast of the fourth trumpet then, evidently shows that there shall again be the rush of war, that the shock of battle shall overthrow a multitude of these earthly luminaries and the result shall be darkness.
 As we have found that this is still limited to the Latin third part of the world, this would be fittingly fulfilled if a period of calamity and mourning was inaugurated by the overthrow of the kings and great men of the Roman Empire, the extinguishment of its government, followed by ages in which the human mind was shrouded in mental and spiritual darkness.
This is just what we find to have occurred in the last series of events that led to the final overthrow of Rome. We are to seek the fulfillment in the next final invasion of Rome.
 It occurred A. D. 476. Odoacer, king of the Heruli, a Northern race, encouraged by the apparent weakness of the falling empire, besieged and took the almost helpless city.
Augustulus, the feeble emperor, was hurled down, the Roman Senate that had met for twelve hundred and [147] twenty-eight years, was driven from the Senate chambers, the mighty fabric of empire fell to the dust, and the great men were humbled never to rise again. Sun, moon, and stars, emperor, princes, and great men, are smitten, lose their power, and cease to give light.
 Nay, more. There now began the period called by all historians the “Dark Ages.” The fall of Rome introduced the period when, intellectually and spiritually, the day and night were darkened; when the minds of men were blinded, and when the Church, falling gradually into apostasy, gave forth for ages only a feeble light to human souls.
In the period that follows, the barbarians who had ruined Rome fell gradually under the sway of an artful priesthood, the Bible was wrested from the hands of the people, and buried in the recesses of monasteries, superstition usurped the place of religion, and the gloom of the “Dark Ages” diffused itself over the Latin third part of the world.
Thus, in the overthrow of the western Roman Empire, ends the work of the four hurtful angels, who were held back, for a season, from destruction.
There remain three angels, the woe angels, who are grouped together by the angel that flits across the heavens and who foreshadows the [148] terrible calamities that shall fall upon the earth when they blow their trumpets. These will be considered in the next chapter. [149]
[VOTA 130-149]



The Sixth Seal Opened.–
The Startling Phenomena in Earth and Sky.–
The Meaning of the Symbols.–
A Period of Revolution.–
The Political and Religious Agitation of the Reign
of Constantine.–
Paganism Destroyed.–
A New Civilization.–
The Mightiest Change Known to History.–
Rome no Longer Capital of the World.–
The Four Winds Held.–
The Sealing.–
The Song of Salvation.–
The Triumph of the Church over Paganism.


I must ask the reader to attentively examine the latter portion of Revelation, chapter VI., before reading what I have to say under the head of the sixth seal. It runs as follows:
And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every [109] freeman, bid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?–6:12-17.
The scenes beheld by the apostle are startling, and calculated to fill the soul with awe and consternation. The earth reels in a mighty earthquake, that hurls mountains and islands from their places, and the awful agitation extends from the earth upwards to the heavens.
 The sun is black as sackcloth, the, moon is red as blood, stars fall from their places in the the heavens, and the heavens themselves are rolled away as a scroll. As he gazes, the face of the earth and sky is so changed that there might be said to be a new heavens and a new earth. At the same time he hears the agonized cries of men, both great and small, who cry to the hills to fall upon them and hide them from the face of the Lamb.
The imagery described is most striking, and certainly portrays remarkable changes. We have already found that this is symbolism, and we are not to look for a literal fulfillment, but for historical events which would correspond to the symbolical pictures.
We are not to expect that this seal will be fulfilled by literal earthquakes, falling stars, blackened sun and [110] moving islands and mountains, but by the events of which these physical signs are symbols.
Before we point out the fulfillment we must pause to indicate the symbolical meaning of some of the terms which are employed. These may be gathered from any good dictionary of symbols, and, indeed, the signification of most of the terms must be apparent.
An earthquake, in agitation of the earth, must refer to great political or religious commotion upon the earth. As John’s “earth” is constantly the Roman Empire, this commotion will be within its limits.
 The Lord, speaking of the revolution which would be effected by Christ, says, Haggai, 2:6-7: “Yet once, it is a little time, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land, and I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come.”
 The earthquake is often used by the prophets as a symbol of political or religious agitation.
The sun, moon and stars refer to earthly dignitaries, great lights in the political or religious heavens. In the dream of Joseph, which so maddened his brethren, these terms are used in this meaning, as well as by the ancient prophets. In the East it was common to liken the king or emperor to the sun, and stars are the symbols of princes and rulers.
For the use of the term we refer the reader to [111] Dan. 8:10. The blackness of the sun and the bloody hue of the moon point out scenes of sorrow and bloodshed. The, falling of the stars would indicate the downfall of those who had held high places on the earth, or rather within the Roman Empire.
Mountain and island are used to denote earthly the latter referring more especially to European provinces which were often called “the isles of the sea.” From the period of Diocletian, the great persecutor, the title, “Your Eminence,” or, in other words, “mountain,” was bestowed upon princes.
As a mountain stood above the plain, so the rulers or the earth were exalted.
With these definitions before our minds, it is easy to discover that the sixth seal is a period of mighty and startling revolutions, not in the heavens, but upon the earth, which are wrought out amid scenes of sorrow and blood.
The various phenomena in earth and sky, the earthquake, the falling stars, the heavens rolled away, the mountains and islands moved out of their places, all foreshadow a violent, bloody, remarkable upheaval of systems, rulers, government, kingdoms, and the establishment of a new order upon the earth.
It is on earth, it is in history that we are to look for the fulfillment of the prophecy. And since the “earth” that is present to the mind of John is the [112] civilized world known to the ancients, the Roman Empire, it is within its boundaries that we must look for the fulfillment. There can be no doubt that this is “the seal of revolution.”
Some who have held that we were to look in history for the explanation of John’s symbols, have thought that the sixth seal was fulfilled in the rush of the savage nations of the North down upon the decaying Roman Empire, a movement which resulted in the destruction of the old nations and the establishment of new kingdoms and races.
 We shall take a different view, for the reason that there is another revolution, nearer in point of time, closely following the great persecution of the fifth seal, that in a surprising manner fulfills the imagery; and, in addition, the invasions and destruction wrought by the savage hordes from the North are symbolized by, the events connected with the blowing of the first four trumpets, as narrated in the eighth chapter.
Several circumstances help us to fix the meaning. 1. The time. It follows immediately after the great persecution indicated by the fifth seal, which closed in A. D. 311.
These events occur, then, near that time. 2. It is a time of blood and mourning. Who are the mourners? Kings, great men, rich men, bondmen and freemen. Are these Christians? They are enemies [113] of the Lamb, who fear his wrath and mourn over his power.
 The mourners are the opposers of the Church.–
(Verse 16.) 3. The seal is followed by a period of great joy and prosperity on the part of the Church.–(See chapter VII.) An innumerable multitude are sealed with the seal of the Lamb, of which the next chapter gives record. Have we, near A. D. 311, the time when the great persecution closed, a period of mighty revolution, that filled the unbelieving world with mourning, and which was followed by a time of triumph, prosperity and glory to the Church of Christ?
 We ask the reader’s attention to the history of that epoch.
Three years before, or A. D. 308, the vast Roman Empire had been broken up between no less than six emperors. Jealous of each other, each determined to grasp an undivided power, they watched one another, and prepared for mortal combat.
They hesitated four years before the Roman world was dyed in blood. We will observe the course of only one of the six, Constantine, afterwards called Constantine the Great.
In the year 312, leaving Britain, marching through Gaul, he launched his armies upon Italy. The Church watched his progress with singular interest; for although he bad, as yet, made no profession of Christianity, his mother, [114] Helena, was a Christian, and it was felt that he was favorable to his mother’s faith.
 The Italian emperor opposed to him, Maxentius, was a firm Pagan, and around him centered the interests of the Pagan faith. Indeed, he gave public assurance that he would extirpate the Christian religion, and vowed to Jupiter that, in the event he was successful, he would make his worship universal on the ruins of Christianity.
 He and his adherents were the avowed enemies of Christ, and Paganism staked all upon his success. Three great battles were fought, the last in the suburbs of Rome.
 In the retreat Maxentius was slain, and Constantine was master of Italy and the West. In the meantime Licinius, also a Pagan, another of the six, had made himself master of the East by the overthrow and death of rivals, and in A. D. 314 the armies of the West and East were arrayed against, each other, to determine who should be the master of the world.
With some truces and treaties, which were made only to be broken, the mighty contest that convulsed the civilized world lasted until A. D. 324, when Licinius, defeated, powerless, a prisoner, was put to death, and Constantine remained the sole master of the possessions of the six emperors.
We have, then, surely a time of blood, a time of mourning, a time when kings and earthly [115] dignitaries fall and mourn, a time when the kingdoms, signified by mountains and islands, are moved out of their places.
But these are not the most remarkable changes of this period. Let us note these:
1. The votaries of the old Paganism had rallied around the enemies of Constantine, because he was felt to be its unrelenting foe, who would compass its destruction. When he was seated in triumph upon the ruins of six imperial thrones, there was great mourning from the enemies of the Cross. They felt that theirs was a doomed religion. They were right.
2. In the year 319, before his final triumph, he had decreed that his mother’s religion should be tolerated as an acknowledged faith of the empire.
3. In 321 he decreed that Sunday, the sacred day of Christianity, should be observed in all the cities by the cessation of trade and labor,
4. In 325 he abolished by decree the bloody combats of the gladiators, where men killed each other to amuse the populace, a Roman institution that had existed for a thousand years.
5. He convoked, by imperial authority, a great council of Christian bishops, the one known in history as the Council of Nice.
6. In 331 he decreed that the Pagan religion should exist no longer, and that all the heathen temples should be leveled, or converted into churches,
7. At the same [116] time the old Roman laws were remodeled according to the precepts of the Christian religion, and a Pagan empire was transformed into an empire of the Christian faith, under new institutions. Surely the old heavens were moved away as a scroll is gathered together. But this is not all. I name another wonderful change of this age of revolution. It was not enough that he was determined to destroy the old Roman faith and the old Roman customs and laws–he aimed a blow at Rome itself.
For near eleven hundred years it had been the seat of empire, growing from a village, with a few miles of territory, to be the mighty capital of the world.
In 324 he determined to shake the Roman world to its very center, and to deprive the imperial city of the crown worn for eleven centuries by removing the capital from Italy to a new city upon the banks of the Hellespont, that should henceforth be called Constantinople, from his own name. The mighty mountain of the West is moved from its place.
In these events, constituting the most remarkable revolution that has occurred in the history of the world, we realize a complete fulfillment of the symbolism.
Sun and moon are dark and bloody, the stars fall, and mountains and islands are removed; but it is proper to ask whether, in the mourning of great men, and freemen [117] and bondmen, there was a feeling that they were suffering from the wrath of the Lamb?
 It is apparent that all regarded the great contest as one between Christianity and Paganism, though Constantine did not proclaim warfare in behalf of the Church. It was also entirely in accordance with Pagan superstition for them to believe that Christ was fighting against them.
 It was held by Pagans that their gods fought upon the fields of battle by giving strength to the arms of those whom they feared; and when Pagan hopes were blasted by the success of Constantine, it was recognized as the triumph of Christ.
The vengeance that was wrought, the sweeping revolutions that took place, the upturning of the old order, and the overthrow of the heathen temples, were all recognized as exhibitions of the wrath of the Lamb; and we are told that more than one imperial champion of Paganism called, in his hour of distress, to Christ, to have mercy.
 Some of the Pagan writers almost adopted the language of Revelation in describing this period. The ruin of the Pagan religion is described by the Sophists, says Gibbon, “as a dreadful and amazing prodigy, which covered the earth with darkness, and restored the ancient dominion of chaos and night.


While the sixth seal may be styled the seal [118] of Revolution, the mighty changes of this period are not all violent. If the reader will turn to the seventh chapter he will find that it is a record of visions witnessed by the apostle which precede the opening of the seventh seal. The events of this chapter, however, belong properly to the period embraced by the sixth seal. We quote the beginning of Chap. VII.:
And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.
And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed a hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. 7:1-4.
It is “after” the events described in the preceding chapter, that these things are seen. Events are therefore described which follow, at least in their consummation, the great political revolution effected by Constantine.
Four angels are seen standing at the four corners of the earth holding the four winds, lest they should be blown upon the earth. It is as though four dark storm clouds, charged with fury, were about to rush upon a land, and then some mighty hand was [119] reached forth to stay them in their career and hold them suspended in the heavens, until another work was done.
These four angels represent four hurtful agencies which are to do a work of destruction. This impending ruin is arrested and held back until some work of God is accomplished, which is described as the sealing of his servants. These four hurtful angels are ordered to suspend their proposed work by another angel, who is seen arising from the East, having the seal of the living God.
He cries with a loud voice, commanding them to withhold their hurtful power until the servants of God should be sealed in their foreheads. Then there were sealed of Israel one hundred and forty-four thousand; and besides these, John says, “I beheld, and lo, a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations and kindreds and peoples and tongues stood before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands, who cried, Salvation to our God who sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.”
It will be observed that there are two classes here represented. There are twelve thousand who are sealed from each tribe of Israel, and then a great multitude, out “of all nations.” The first company is composed of Jews, while the second and larger company is composed of [120] Gentiles.
 In the fourteenth chapter we find again a company of one hundred and forty-four thousand with the Lamb upon Mt. Zion, evidently, from the same number, to be identified with these. We are there told that they were a term whose spiritual signification is that they had never been defiled by idolatry, and that they were “the first fruits” unto the Lamb.
These marks, as well as the literal statement here that they were of the tribes of Israel, identify them as the Jewish members of the Church. These had never been guilty of idolatrous fornication, and had been the first fruits of Christianity.
Though, at the period we have reached, the original first fruits were no longer upon the earth, yet they were represented by the Jewish Christian element The thought, as it appears to me, is to bring before the wind that ,it this period of triumph there were the Jew and the Gentile elements.
 I am aware that many commentators have held that this refers to spiritual Israel. All Christians belong to this spiritual Israel, but it is evident that a different meaning is intended here.
1. Those sealed are taken out of the tribes of Israel.
They are a remnant, while the great body of the membership of the tribes is left unsealed.
2. The Gentile Christians are named immediately after.
These are of the spiritual [121] Israel also, but since they differ from the one hundred and forty-four thousand, the latter must belong to the literal Israel. There are twelve thousand from each tribe, except Dan, which is omitted, and the number twelve is completed by enumerating Levi and the two sons of Joseph. I suppose that this number, small compared with the whole number of Israel, is chosen to show that it was only a remnant of Israel which had accepted Christ.
These are said to be sealed in their foreheads. The sealing of the servants of God with the seal of God in their foreheads, must refer to an open and real acknowledgment of Christ by men. The seal is the mark of God, as the seal of the United States is the mark of the United States.
This mark is not in some secret place, but where it may be seen by all who meet and behold the sealed face. In Chap. XIII. the servants of the beast receive his mark on their foreheads and their hands. Here a mark on the forehead is understood to be an open profession, while a mark in the hand indicates service.
In our present passage the mark on the forehead evidently refers to an open profession of service. It is not a seal in the heart or spirit, which would refer to the Holy Spirit, but a visible mark, seen of all men.
An open profession of Christ, an acknowledgment of his name, a [122] public testimony of his grace, a life devoted to his service, a warfare that kept continually unfurled the banner of the Cross, the fellowship of the sufferings of the Master, would be equivalent to the seal of God in the forehead.
The four angels of destruction are held back until a countless multitude are thus sealed. This can only be satisfactorily explained by regarding it as foreshadowing a glorious triumph of God and the Lamb.
The same meaning must be attached also to the song of salvation. An innumerable multitude, from all nations and tongues ascribe praise to God, who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb. I regard this as susceptible of no other explanation than the one we have already given.
We quote:
After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshiped God, saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. 7:9-12.
Here is,
1. An innumerable multitude.
2. They are of every nation.
3. They are [123] clothed in white robes. White robes are the mark of triumph.
4. They have palms in their hands. Palms belong to victors.
5. They join in a song of praise to the Lamb as the author of their salvation.
This is evidently a heavenly picture, representing a great triumph of the saints immediately after the events last described. The subsequent portion of the chapter is in harmony.
“Who are these,” it is asked, “arrayed in white garments?” It is answered: “These are they who have come up through great tribulation and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
Then, in the remaining verses of the chapter, the constancy of these saints in the service of God, their enjoyment of the presence of God and the Lamb, the fulness of their souls fed upon the bread of Heaven, and the blessedness of their present and everlasting state, are outlined, presenting a sublime picture of a triumphant Church,–triumphant on earth, triumphant in heaven.
Those who have come through the (there is an article in the Greek) great tribulation of a suffering and persecuted Church, are permitted to witness its justification and victory.
Having indicated that the chapter describes a suspension of four destructive powers which were about to be let loose, until a great triumph of the Church was accomplished, I return to [124] inquire concerning these powers.
There are four angels of destruction that are restrained from their work until a great triumph of the Christian religion has been wrought. An angel is a messenger. The term may represent a pure spirit sent from the skies, or any earthly agency chosen to accomplish certain work.
 “He maketh the winds his messengers,” as well as the spirits of the sky. There are here four angels–four agencies of destruction. They are appointed to a certain destructive work, but are held back for a time.
Will the reader turn to the eighth chapter and examine the events that occur upon the opening of the seventh seal?
He will find seven angels with seven trumpets. The angels are divided into two bands; the first, of four angels, and the second, of three (verse 13). The first four trumpet angels of the eighth chapter are the four hurtful angels of the seventh.
Both evidently represent four instruments of destruction. There is, then, a work of destruction that will be accomplished. There are four instruments of destruction that will accomplish it. These four instruments are restrained until another work is done.
What is doomed to destruction?
 We will find in the sequel that it is the Roman Empire, which is now in its decline and hastening to [125] dissolution; and we will discover also what the four angels signify who wrought its destruction.
What is the work which must be accomplished before the angels are let loose to destroy?
The four agencies or invasions that utterly overthrew the Roman Empire, ended ancient history and gave birth to modern nations.
 Before we listen to the trumpet angels and behold the tides of invasion pour down upon the Roman world, we must ask if these agencies were kept back from their destructive work until a glorious triumph of the Christian religion took place?
Before the trumpet angels begin to blow, was there of every nation, kindred and tongue, a countless multitude who ascribed the glory of their salvation to the Lamb?
Did Christianity effect a great conquest in connection with the reign of Constantine and before the tide of Barbarian invasion set in?
We ask these questions concerning the records of the history of the Church, for we think there can be no doubt in the mind of any candid and discriminating reader concerning the meaning of the symbolism of this chapter.
Let the student of prophecy always bear in mind, first, that this is a symbolical picture of great historical events connected with the history of the saints; and, second, that the scene of these events is not heaven and eternity, but the earth and [126] time.
 These hurtful winds are held back that they may not blow upon the earth. Hence, sure or the meaning of the symbolism, we repeat the question:
 Does history record such a triumph before the accomplishment of the destruction to be wrought by the hurtful angels?
 Was there such public recognition of Christianity as signified by the mark of the seal of God upon the forehead, upon the part of the civilized world?


We have already found that the religion of the Roman Empire was revolutionized in the reign of Constantine. For three centuries the ceaseless conflict between the old and the new faith had gone on. Christianity had grappled with hoary religions, entrenched in.
 the superstitions and affections of men, with the mighty Roman power, and with sin in the human heart. It had been crushed to the earth, but, bruised and bleeding, had risen and continued the conflict.
 At last, after ages of trial and suffering, it had triumphed over all opposition and become the religion of the civilized world. The temples of Jupiter and Mercury and Mars had been. closed, and their idols broken into dust, never to be restored.
An old religion had been utterly destroyed. One century before, if [127] Paul had returned to the earth, he would have looked upon a Pagan world.
Had he returned in the last half of the fourth century, he would have looked upon a land of churches and Christians, probably more generally devoted to the Christian religion than any country now upon the face of the earth.
Until this sealing, this mighty triumph, is effected, the four winds are held. We repeat that it is significant that we will find following close upon the, triumph of Christianity the Roman Empire utterly overthrown by four agencies, symbolized when four angels blow their trumpets under the seventh seal.
It was a part of the providence of God that these agencies should be restrained until the empire was converted to Christianity. Indeed, to this providence we may attribute the fact that Europe at this day and for a thousand years, as well as the descendants of Europeans in America, acknowledge the Christian faith.
Had the overwhelming hordes of northern barbarians rushed down upon the civilized world before the new faith had been firmly planted, it could hardly have survived the wreck of empires and civilization; but, deeply rooted in the hearts of the vanquished, when all else was lost, Christianity rose above the ruins of the past and pointed the ferocious invaders to the [128] Cross of Christ.
 The conquerors, in their new lands, laid aside the Paganism of their fathers and accepted a new religion from those whom they had vanquished. The new nations that emerge from the darkness of the Middle Ages, seated within the vast boundaries of the old Roman Empire, all acknowledge the Christian faith.
 We have thus briefly explained what events were predicted by the four hurtful angels who were restrained, and have shown the fulfillment in the glorious triumph of the Cross of Christ before the downfall of the Roman Empire. [129]
[VOTA 109-129]



The Vision of the Second Seal.–
The Red Horse; Peace Taken Away.–
The Era of Civil Discord.–

Commotion for Ninety-two Years.–
The Gift of the Great Sword.–
The Third Seal.–
The Black Horse.–
The Balances.–
The Seal of Want.–
The Fourth Seal.–
The Pale Horse.–
Death and Hades.–
The Era of Death from War, Famine, Pestilence and
Wild Beasts.–
Gibbon’s Striking Testimony.


And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.–6:3, 4.
Next in order, the second seal is opened by the Lamb. Next in chronological order to the history foreshadowed by the first seal, we may expect the events of the second seal to follow. Will the reader stand with John on Patmos and behold the vision?
John beheld the Lamb open the second seal of the book, and the voice of the second beast was heard to repeat the [76] command “to come and see.” Immediately the first vision is replaced by a second, of a startling character.
There appears in the field of view a, second horse, no longer white, but as red as blood. Upon the horse sat one with a great sword in his hand, to whom “was given power to take peace from the earth, and to make men that they should slay one another.”
The explanations already given will assist us in determining what this symbolism must mean. The horse is the symbol of war, but the changed color indicates that the conditions of war are entirely changed. It is no longer triumphant war in the dominions of their enemies, while within all is peace, but the land is drenched in blood.
During the period of the first seal the fertile provinces of the Roman Empire, never saw the face of a hostile soldier, unless borne is a captive from the distant frontiers, where the Roman generals waged triumphant wars in the countries of their enemies. All was peace within.
At no other period of the twelve centuries that passed from the foundation of the city of Rome, until it was taken by the Goths, was the condition of the empire so happy, or its population so prosperous. Golden streams flowed from every land into the coffers of Roman [77] citizens.
No fear of hostile invasion or internal disturbance ever troubled the tiller of the soil, and artisan. Under the firm but mild rule of Trajan, and the Antonines, security, peace, and plenty smiled upon the civilized world. The epoch of the first seat was one of triumphant war, but of internal peace.
It is not such a period which is predicted by the second seal. It indicates the existence of war, but that internal peace will exist no longer. The “earth” contemplated by John was the Roman earth, or empire. From it peace shall be taken away. Nor is it to be destroyed by foreign invaders.
 “They are to kill one another.” In as plain language as symbolism can disclose, it is indicated that the next great feature of history is that the land shall be torn by civil war.
The meaning of the symbol is plain. If it has been fulfilled, we must look for an epoch of civil war, following soon after the events of the first seal.
History ought to point out a period of civil commotion following the glorious period of conquest indicated by the first seal. That period of peace ends with the reign of Commodus, who was slain A. D. 102. Let me repeat a passage of history that will serve to illustrate the character of the next period. [78]

Commodus, the son of the second Antoninus, ascended the throne in A. D. 182. He was one of the most contemptible tyrants that ever cursed a people, but was borne, with for ton years on account of the virtues of his father.
At last his excesses could be borne no longer, and he was slain by the Prætorian Prefect, aided by various inmates of the palace, ‘whose lives were threatened by the tyrant. His assassination took place in A. D. 192, and immediately, the Prætorian Prefect induced Pertinax to ascend the vacant throne.
Eighty-six days after, he was murdered by the Prætorian soldiers whom he refused to bribe. The crown was then sold to the highest bidder, and was bought at auction by Didius Julianus. As soon as the news of this shameful sale of the sovereign power reached the army of the Danube, it proclaimed its general, Septimus Severus, Emperor, and marched upon Rome.
 After a reign of sixty-six days, Didius was defeated, dethroned, and beheaded. The army in the island of Britain and also that in Syria, each considered its right to make an emperor as good as that of the army of the Danube, and each nominated its general for the throne.
For four years the empire was torn by civil war, and Severus, after a desperate contest, vanquished successively and put to death two rival [79] competitors for the throne. Thus, the next period begins, but this is not the end. It is marked in the history of man by the most prolonged and sanguinary civil commotion that history records.
“Peace was taken from the earth” for ninety-two years. During this long period of nearly a century, the Roman Empire, that portion of the “earth” which was the seat of civilization and of the Christian religion, was constantly torn by bloody, civil contests between rival competitors for power. The history of this epoch is epitomized by Sismondi in the following language:
With Commodus commenced the third and most calamitous period, it lasted ninety-two years, from 192 to 284. During that period thirty-two emperors, and twenty-seven pretenders alternately hurled each other from the throne by incessant civil warfare.
Ninety-two years of almost incessant civil warfare taught the world on what a frail foundation the virtue of the Antonines had placed the felicity of the empire. Sismondi’s Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. I. p. 36.
A full history of this dark and unhappy period is also given in the first volume of Gibbon.
That the reader may form a better conception of this era of blood, I will give a table of the emperors, indicating those who died violent deaths.
The first column of figures indicates that the emperor whose name is opposite died by violence. The second column, [80] with figures at such rare intervals, indicates when an emperor died a natural death.

Commodus 192
Pertinax 193
Didius 193
Severus 211
Geta 212
Caracalla 217
Macrinus and his son 218
Elgabalus 222
Alexander Severus 235
Maximin and his son 237
The Two Gordians 237
Maximus 238
Balbinus 238
Gordian the Third 244
Phillip and his son 249
Decius and his son 251
Gallus 253
Volusion 253
Æmillianus 253
Valerian 260
Gallienus 260
Nineteen Tyrants 260-8
Claudius 270
Aurelian 275
Tacitus 276
Florianus 276
Probus 282
Carus 283
Numerianus 293
Carinus 284

In this list are thirty-four emperors, besides nineteen pretenders, known as tyrants. Of these all but two died violent deaths. What could more strikingly represent such a period of civil contention, of incessant civil warfare, of fratricidal bloodshed, than the red horse and its rider, “to whom was given a great sword, and [81] the power to take away peace, that men should kill one another?”
I suppose that no such prolonged and terrible period of civil warfare can be pointed out in the history of the world, and there is certainly a wonderful correspondence between the vision and the events of history.
There is one feature of the vision that has not yet been considered. There was given to the rider of the red horse a great sword. It has been found that the bow under the first seal had a special significance, and there is reason to believe that the sword marks particularly some feature of the fulfillment of the second seal.
 It is easy to understand that such a symbol points to the military order as the class “to whom it was given to take peace from the earth.” Wherever there is a standing army there is a class whose profession is war. To this bloody trade their whole lives are devoted, as those of others are devoted to commerce, or to agriculture.
They are men of the sword. At this period Rome kept immense standing armies upon all the frontiers, in the outlying provinces, in the great cities, and in the capital itself. It was the quarrels of this class among themselves, that filled the earth with blood and desolation.
Civil wars arise from various causes. Our [82] own was a conflict of the citizens of the Republic over the extension of slavery; the last great civil contest in England was concerning the prerogatives of the crown, and divided the nation into two great parties, under Parliament and king; at an earlier date in Roman history, a mighty contest between the popular and aristocratic factions had convulsed the state for generations; but this terrible period of civil commotion, without parallel in the history of a civilized state, was due solely to the jealousy and ambition of the men of the sword.
No principle was involved in the fearful struggles, and the nation had no interest, save in being ruled by the least ferocious of the contending generals.
It is an era of the sword, of the total abeyance of civil rule for that of the sword, of the earth drenched in blood by the contests between the men of the sword. What could more appropriately describe such all epoch than the giving of a great sword, the military emblem, to the figure that marches before the vision of the prophet?
It is possible that a still more particular fact may be indicated. There was stationed at Rome an army corps which outranked all others, received the highest pay, and peculiar privileges. This band of soldiers was called the Prætorian Guards, and their commander [83] was styled the Prætorian Prefect.
When he was inducted into his office, by the emperor, there “was given to him a sword.” This was a symbol of the fact, that he had jurisdiction over the life and death or citizens for one hundred miles around Rome. He was the only officer, besides the emperor, who had the right to inflict death at the capital.
It was this Prætorian Prefect, inducted into office by the public investment with a sword, and the Prætorian Guards, who inaugurated this long period of blood. It was the Prætorian Prefect who secured the death of Commodus, and made Pertinax emperor. It was the Prætorian Guards who slew Pertinax eighty-six days after, and sold the crown to Didius Julianus.
It was the Prætorian Prefect who slew Caracalla, the son of the successor of Didius. It was these lawless soldiers of fortune who precipitated the era of blood.
Those who dissent from this interpretation of the second seal, must admit that the imagery of a prophetic vision never received a more striking fulfillment.


The first and second seals mark distinct epochs, clearly separated from each other. We can determine the exact number of years that [84] belongs to each period.
It is not possible to separate, with the same distinctness, the events indicated by the third and fourth seals. The prophecies are fulfilled with startling accuracy, and the occurrences symbolized by each seal follow each other in the same order as the seals, but the events overlap, and are related to each other as effects to cause.
During the terrible period of civil commotion, indicated by the red horse, the era of blood and anarchy produces the events symbolized by the black horse, and as the combined result of the two preceding seals there follow the events indicated by the pale horse. The opening of the third seal is described in these words:
And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo, a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny: and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine. 6:5, 6.
Again there appear a horse and a rider. Again the color of the horse is changed, as well as the instrument held in the hand of the horseman. If the white and red colors, the bow and the great sword, had a significance, this must be true also of the black color and the balances.
It has been found that the horse, whatever [85] his color, is the symbol of war. The black horse makes it plain that the land is torn by calamitous war, and is filled with sorrow, mourning, and despair. Black is the color of mourning.
 The prophet (Jer. 14:2,) says: “Because of the drought Judah mourneth, and the gates thereof languish; they are in deep mourning (lit. black) for the land.” This single illustration shows the idea attached to this gloomy color in all ages.
The things to be noted in this vision are, 1, the horse; 2, his color; 3, the balances in the hands of the rider; 4, the charge given to him. As to the first and second of these, the meaning is plain. There is more difficulty about the last two items.
If the balances were alone, we would say that they were a symbol of justice, but in the hands of the rider of the black horse, and in the connection that follows, they are an indication of a scarcity of food. “Bread by weight” indicates scarcity. The following passages indicate the significance of’ the weight in connection with food:
And when I have broken the staff of your bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver you your bread again by weight: and ye shall eat and not be satisfied. Lev. 26:26.
Moreover he said unto me, son of man, behold, I will break the staff of bread in Jerusalem: and they shall cat bread by [86] weight, and with care; and they shall drink water by measure, and with astonishment: That they may want broad and water, and be astonied with one another, and consume away for their iniquity. Ezek. 4:16, 17.
The balances were also, in those days, used in taxation. A portion of the produce was demanded in Judea, is still in Turkey, and was a part of the taxes extorted by the Roman Empire. The balances indicate a period of excessive taxation, as well as of scarcity.
The prices of wheat and barley are famine prices. The “measure” was about a quart, and the term rendered “penny” is the Greek denarius, which was equivalent to about fourteen cents of our money.
A bushel of wheat, at the price designated, would be worth four dollars and fifty cents, and of barley one dollar and fifty cents; but in those days the relative value of money was four or five times greater than at present.
A denarius was the usual price of a day’s labor. Hence, when we consider the changed value of money itself, the prices of wheat and barley must be placed at about twenty dollars, and six dollars per bushel, respectively. Nothing but a period of extreme scarcity could maintain such exorbitant prices.
Oil and wine were the common articles of food for the people, but the voice prohibits their use. Taken in connection with the context it is implied that in this time [87] of want they are no longer in use by the common people. There is designated a period of extreme taxation, of enormous prices, of great scarcity and want.
This is just what continued civil war would effect.
Military expenses would multiply taxes. This was done even by our civil war of four, instead of ninety-two years. Lands would lie uncultivated, crops would be destroyed, and vast regions would be desolated by the march of contending armies. High prices, scarcity, and want, would necessarily be the result.
I will not consider the historical fulfillment of those features of this seal, which refer to scarcity and want, until I explain the next seal. I have already stated that these seals are in part coincident in time, and under the fourth seal, the seal of Death, famine is one of the awful agencies employed.
The feature of crushing taxation is, however, peculiar to the third seal, and I will make quotations from our usual historical authority, Gibbon, and also from Lactantius, a historian of the fourth century. Gibbon notes in strong language the ruinous edicts promulgated in the reign of Caracalla (A. D. 211-217) and his successors, as being among the prominent causes of the decline and fall of the empire. He says:
Nor was the rapacious son of Severus (Caracalla) contented [88] with such a measure of taxation its had appeared sufficient to his moderate predecessors. Instead of it twentieth, he exacted a tenth of all legacies and inheritances, and during his reign he crushed alike every part of the empire under the weight of his iron sceptre. Vol. I. p. 95.
In the course of this history, we shall be too often summoned to explain the land tax, the capitation, and the heavy contributions of corn (wheat), wine, oil, and meat, which were exacted of the provinces for the use of the army, the court, the capital.
Swarms of exactors sent into the provinces, filled them with agitation and terror, as though a conquering enemy were leading them into captivity.

The fields were separately measured, the trees and vines, the flocks and herds were numbered, and an examination made of the men. * * *

The sick and weak were borne to the place of inscription, a reckoning was made of the age of each, years were added to the young and subtracted from the old, in order to subject them to the higher taxation the law imposed. The whole scene was filled with wailing and sadness.–Lactantius.
Could there be a more impressive symbol of such a period than is supplied in the vision and charge of the third seal?


And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale, horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth. 6:7, 8.
Again, for the fourth time, the exile Of Patmos beholds a horse. It is still a time of war. The horse is now pale, the bloodless color of the [89] sheeted dead. Upon him sits an undescribed figure, called by the apostle, DEATH.
Behind the dread destroyer follows Hades, the unseen world, swallowing up the dying mortals and hiding them from human vision. The means employed to destroy men are described. Death and Hades employ,
 (1), the sword, or war;
 (2), hunger, or famine;
(3), death, or pestilence, for so is the word hero used often translated, and such is its meaning in this place; and, finally,
(4), the destruction caused by the wild beasts of forests and field. The evident meaning of this symbolism is so plain that all can understand its application, and we need only ask if the facts correspond.
Do we find the scarcity, want, hunger, and pestilence, indicated by the prophecy, during the latter portion of this period of civil commotion? Do we have an awful reign of Death in the forms signified by the seal?
Let the reader turn to the tenth chapter of the first volume of Gibbon’s Rome. It recounts the events of the reign of Gallienus, which ended in A. D. 268, or about seventy-six years after the death of Commodus.
 It details the attempts of no less than nineteen pretenders to the throne, who aroused rebellions that were quenched in blood, and themselves forfeited their lives by their presumption. It describes [90] the dreadful sufferings of the Roman Empire during the period of disaster and gloom, and then the historian closes the chapter with the words we give below. I ask the reader to carefully read the words of the Scripture and then compare them with the following words of Gibbon:
But a long and general famine was a calamity of a more serious kind. It was the inevitable consequence of rapine and oppression, which extirpated the produce of the present, and the future harvests.

Famine is almost always followed by epidemical diseases, the effect of scanty and unwholesome food. Other causes must, however, have contributed to the furious plague, which, from the years two hundred and fifty to the year two hundred and sixty-five, raged without interruption in every province, every city, and almost every family of the Roman Empire.
During some time five thousand persons died daily in Rome; and many towns, that had escaped the hands of the Barbarians, were entirely depopulated.

Applying this authentic fact to the most correct tables of mortality, it evidently proves, that above half the people of Alexandria had perished; and could we venture to extend the analogy to the other provinces, we might suspect that war, pestilence, and famine, had consumed, in a few years, the moiety of the human species.
Let all notice the correspondence. The prophet asserts that one-fourth of mankind would be destroyed, but the infidel historian goes beyond the prophet, and doubtless exceeds the facts when he makes the mortality twice as great.
The prophet names the sword, famine, [91] pestilence, and beasts of the field as instruments of destruction. The historian affirms that half the human race were destroyed by the first, three of these agencies, but fails to mention the fourth.
We might, without historical proof, dare to assert that on the terrible depopulation of large districts, the beasts of prey, wolves, hyenas and lions, would so multiply as to become objects of terror, but we are not left to this necessity.
Not a generation later, about A. D. 300, Arnobius “Adv. Gentes,” refuting the charges made by heathen that various calamities were due to the enormous increase of Christians, exclaims:
 “When were wars waged with wild beasts and contests with ions?
Was it not before our time?
When did a plague come upon men, bitten by serpents?
Was it not before our time?”
I have thus far discussed the opening of four seals. The second verse of chap. VI. reveals to us the white horse and the crowned conqueror who was his rider.
This I have pronounced the seal of conquest, foreshadowing the wonderful conquests of Trajan, in the second century. The red horse of the fourth verse is the seal of civil war, fulfilled in the awful convulsions that began about A. D. 186, and agitated the whole civilized world.
The third seal, the black horse and balance of the fifth verse, is the seal [92] of want, while the next, the pale horse of the eighth verse, is the seal of death.
Such is the symbolism of the first, second, third and fourth seals. About its meaning there can be no mistake. Nor can there be any doubt as to its wonderful fulfillment. Prophecy, on the one hand, points to the pictures upon the panorama of Patmos, and says, “Here is the future.”
 Upon the other hand, history points to its undubitable records, and replies, “Here is the fulfillment.” The intelligent reader beholds with astonishment the wonderful agreement. [93]
[VOTA 76-93]



The Fifth Seal Opened.–
The Symbolism Changed.–
The Horse Seen no More.–
The Change of Symbols Indicates a Change of Theme.–
Souls under the Altar.–
The Cry of Martyrs.–
An Era of Persecution–
The Attempt of Diocletian to Abolish the Christian Name.–
The White Robes.–
Appendix on the State of the Church from the Time of Nero to that of Diocletian.


It is evident, from the entire change of the imagery, that, after the fourth seal, the subject of prophetic vision is entirely changed. The horse now disappears, and is seen no more in connection with the opening of the seals. Along with the horse the armed warriors sweep out of sight. The reader should mark carefully the following language:
And when he had opened the fifth seal I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? [94]

And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.–6:9-11.
Instead of the warlike pictures which direct our thoughts to the changing fortunes of earthly kingdoms, the attention is turned to something passing in the altar court of the apocalyptic temple.
This locality, an essential part of the new vision, shows that it refers in some way to the Church, of which the temple was the well-known type.
 I wish the reader to note distinctly that the subject of the fifth seal must be entirely different from that of the four preceding seals, and that it is conceded by all to find its fulfillment in the Church.
The scene now depicted in the altar court is one in which the worshipers are not living, but have passed from life. The voice that is raised is not of psalmody or praise, but of suffering.
It is heard proceeding from beneath the altar, and comes from “the souls of them that had been slain for the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus.” From those shadowy forms the cry ascended:
 “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell upon the earth?” There comes the answer that they must wait until the time of the slaying of their fellow servants should [95] be fulfilled.
What does all this signify?
Our attention is turned from scenes of battle, political convulsions, plagues, famine and general calamity to a suffering Church. It is a time of persecution.
The fifth seal is the seal of persecution, and it evidently marks some notable era in the history of the Church, when more fiercely than ever before it felt the intolerant hand of “them who dwelt upon the earth.”
 The fulfillment is to be sought in a war of extermination waged against Christianity. Again we ask if, following the events already described, history records events that fulfill this prophecy?
The persecution signified would not precede the events of the first four seals.
It could not, if our interpretation of these seals is correct, be that of Nero, or Domitian, or Trajan, or Severus. It must be sought after the triumphs of Trajan, the calamities of the civil contest, the period of want, famine and pestilence.
It must therefore be found after A. D. 284, when this calamitous period came to an end.
The ninety-two years of civil turmoil began A. D. 192 with the death of Commodus. They ended in A. D. 284. In that year Diocletian ascended the Roman throne and his reign was distinguished by the most terrible, most prolonged, and most general persecution known in [96] the history of the ancient Church.
The Emperor was not by nature a persecutor, but the great men or the empire, especially Galerius, whom he had associated in the duty of Government, were alarmed it the astonishing progress of the new religion, and demanded its extirpation. At last Diocletian yielded, and became a leader in the effort to root out the religion of Christ from the very face of the earth.
There seemed to be little probability that the empire, almost ruined by the calamities of almost a century, should be in a condition to engage in a persistent and sweeping attempt to blot out of existence a Church that had already become powerful, but at this period it was raised from a state of imminent dissolution to some of its ancient power.
“Oppressed and almost destroyed, as it had been,” says Gibbon, “under the deplorable reigns of Valerian and Gallienus, it was saved by a series of great princes, Claudius, Aurelius, Probus, Diocletian and his colleagues; who within a period of thirty years, triumphed over the foreign and domestic enemies of the State, and deserved the title of the restorers of the Roman world.
During the period of restoration the churches enjoyed quiet, hut in the very year that was completed, the same year that Diocletian celebrated his triumph over all enemies and the [97] pacification of the empire by triumphal entry into Rome, in A. D. 303, the persecution began.
Early in that year secret councils were held in Nicomedia, concerning the destruction of Christianity. “Perhaps,” says Gibbon, “it was represented to Diocletian, that the glorious work of the deliverance of the empire was left imperfect so long as an independent people (the Christians) were permitted to subsist and multiply in it.”
 On the twenty-third of February, the first blow was struck. An armed force was sent to destroy the great church of Nicomedia, and to burn the sacred books, so carefully preserved in that day when the printing press was unknown.
This was the signal for beginning a persecution which was, by the consent of all historians, the longest, the most general, and the fiercest ever waged against the Church.
 It is a remarkable fact that a chronological era, dating from the time when Diocletian began to reign, instituted not for religious, but astronomical purposes, and used until the Christian era was introduced in the sixth century, has received its name from the persecution, and has been called the era of martyrs.
Again we are indebted to Gibbon. In his second volume he recounts the gradual origin of the persecution, first foreshadowed by an imperial edict, issued about A. D. 301, [98] prohibiting Christians from attending their religious assemblies.
In A. D. 303, the unfaltering purpose of Christians to persevere in the duties of religion, aroused the Emperor to the sternest most extreme measures. The cruel determination of the monarch is recorded in Vol. II., page 69, in the following language:
The resentment, or the fears of Diocletian, at length transported him beyond the bounds of moderation, which he had hitherto preserved, and he declared, in a series of cruel edicts, his intention of abolishing the Christian name.

By the first of these edicts, the governors of the provinces were directed to apprehend all persons of the ecclesiastical order; and the prisons, destined for the vilest criminals, were soon filled with a multitude of bishops, presbyters, deacons, readers and exorcists.

By a second edict, the magistrates were commanded to employ every method of severity, which might reclaim them from their odious superstition, and oblige them to return to the established worship of gods. This rigorous order was extended, by a subsequent edict, to the whole body of Christians, who were exposed to a violent and general persecution.
The terrible persecution thus inaugurated has been described by all church historians. It differed from all others in various respects. They were local, this was general; those were for a little season, this raged ten years; those were only designed to stay the progress of Christianity, the purpose of this was to abolish the Christian name from the earth.
It is impossible for us to determine the number of martyrs who suffered from the imperfect statistics that [99] have reached its, but if the estimate or 700,000 sufferers in Egypt is not an exaggeration, the aggregate slain through the Roman Empire must have numbered millions.
Who shall doubt, when such a persecution occurs next in order after the events foreshadowed by the symbols of the preceding seals, that the prophet described this remarkable period of death and tribulation in the history of the Church by the prayers of the martyrs under the fifth seal?
Is it strange that this notable era in the history of the Church, when it felt all the force of the iron hand of Rome, when it was engaged in a stern and deadly grapple with the monarch of the world, when the blood of the suffering saints flowed in rivers, when whole congregations were driven into their houses of worship and burned with the buildings dedicated to God, when from the suffering, bleeding, mangled Church throughout the world, arose the cry, “O Lord, how long;” is it strange that so striking a period should be the subject of an apostle’s prophetic vision?
And, is it not certain that the fifth seal is the seal of persecution?
There is a feature of the cry of the martyrs, and or the answer, that calls for notice.
The martyrs ask for judgment and retribution upon their persecutors. We know that at this period the Church held the belief that a terrible [100] retribution would soon come upon their enemies. In the answer to the martyrs, there are three things that are noteworthy.
First, it is said that they must await the great judgment, which would not be until another distinct set of martyrs was slain. These are evidently the martyrs slain, not by pagan Rome, but by anti-Christ.
Second, they must wait “a little season.” This season is to be measured by God’s standard,  not by ours.
 Third, there was given unto them white robes. White robes are a symbol of justification and of triumph. “The white robes are to him that overcometh.”
These souls are not in the inner sanctuary, the type of heaven; but under the altar of the outer or court, the type of the world. The white I to robes. therefore, imply their triumph and justification upon the earth.
This came within twenty-five years of their suffering, through the formal acceptance of Christianity by the Roman Empire.


It will interest the reader in connection with the terrible outburst of imperial fury under Diocletian, which sought the utter destruction of Christianity, to study its condition under the various seals before that of Persecution.
I have made extracts from Eliott which will be given [101] in order. The The first will relate to the treatment of Christianity before the period of the first seal began, under Domitian and Nero.
1. From the people the outcry against Christianity rose up to the Governors.
At first they treated it with indifference, then other results followed.
The first Imperial persecution of Christians, that by Nero, was on of singular character and origin, inasmuch as he took advantage of the odium prevalent against the Christian body in Rome, to fix upon them the charge of the incendiarism of the city.
 Under Domitian, the second Imperial persecutor, the case was different. The numbers had now so increased in the empire, that his jealousy, being awakened by informers against, sundry classes as plotting treason, naturally awakened against Christians among others.
Besides the usual charge of atheism, it was said that this aspiring body was seeking a kingdom. So the jealous Emperor slew, in the person of his own uncle Clemens, the Christian of noblest blood and rank; banished the only surviving apostle of the Christian faith to Patmos; and summoned the nearest surviving relatives of him the Christians called their king.
But he found the last-mentioned to be poor men, heard that it was a kingdom not of this world, and dismissed them with contempt. Thus far St. John [102] himself had beheld the progress of persecution. Soon after, on Nerva’s accession, Christians, among other sufferers from Domitian’s tyranny, were set free. Against Christians, as Christians, no direct law as yet existed.
II. Under the first seal.
About this time, however, or soon after, the effect on public habits and feelings had become so striking, and constituted a social phenomenon so entirely new, and on so vast a scale, is necessarily to arouse both the curiosity and anxiety of the ruling powers.
 The Governor of Bithynia, the younger Pliny, wrote to the Emperor Trajan of the temples being in disrepute and almost deserted in his province, from the influence of the body of men called Christians; and at the same time, of the popular fury being such against them, as to charge them with every crime and violently to call for their punishment, though on examination their morals seemed to him to be singularly virtuous and innocent.
This was an æra in the history of the persecution of the Christian Church. In Trajan’s rescript, the law was first declared respecting them, thus far mildly, inasmuch as there should be no inquisition for Christians by the public officers; but that, when brought in regular process of law before the Governor, and tried by the test of sacrificing to the [103] gods, the recusants should suffer punishment.
Now began the apologies of Christians. Quadratus and Aristides were the first to appeal in behalf of the Christian body to Trajan’s successor, Hadrian; then afterwards, Justin Martyr to Antoninus Pius.
 And both Hadrian, in the spirit of equity, issued his rescripts against punishing Christians for anything but political crimes, and the first Antonine, yet more decidedly though not uniformly with success, protected them against violence.
 But the second Antonine adjudged Christianity to be a direct crime against the State; enjoined inquisition against Christians, the application of torture if they refused sacrificing, and if still obstinate, death.
The wild beasts, the cross, the stake–these were the cruel forms of death that met the faithful. Many were now gathered under the altar: among others the souls of Polycarp, of Justin Martyr, and of the faithful confessors of the Church at Lyons.
III. Under the second seal.
As the period of the red horse succeeded, and when, amidst the civil commotions ensuing, they that shed Christian blood had it given them in a measure to drink blood, the Church enjoyed a temporary respite which lasted through the reign of Commodus and to the commencement of that of Sulpitius Severus.
 But, shortly after, a law of [104] the last-named Emperor, forbidding conversions to Christianity under heavy penalties, at once indicated its increasing progress in the empire; and also, as Christianity could not but be aggressive and proselyting, revived persecution against it.
Now Irenæus, Bishop of Lyons, suffered. But the brunt of the persecution fell on the Churches in Africa and Egypt. And Tertullian, the Carthaginian presbyter, rose up as their apologist.
IV. Under the third seal.
Under the third seal, and when again, in God’s righteous retribution, the people that had so long instigated the malice and the rapacity of unjust provincial Governors against Christians, had their lot darkened by the letting loose of that very rapacity and injustice on themselves, at that time the same voice in the Imperial Government that called, but ineffectually, for equity in the general administration, called, but as ineffectually, for equity also against Christians.
Alexander Severus confessed his admiration of Christian morality, and of Him too who had been its first and divine teacher. On a particular occasion he even recognized the Christians as a lawful corporation, and protected them A Rome against their enemies. But it was protection partial only and transient. Martyrs were still slain.
 The name of Hippolytus, Bishop of [105] Porto, stands; eminent among them. Moreover, the former antichristian laws remained unrepealed. And, after his death, his successor, Maximin, renewed the imperial persecution against them; the rather as against a body which Alexander had favored.
 His edict was directed specially against the bishops and leaders of the Church. But in its effects it went further. It animated the heathen priests, magistrates and multitude against Christians of every rank and order. “Smite the shepherds, and the flocks shall be scattered.”
V. Under the fourth seal. Such was at that time the anticipation of Origen; very soon it had its fulfilment. The period of the fourth seal succeeded to that of the third.
 It was seen by the Emperor Decius that if the State religion were to be preserved, the Christian must be crushed; that the two could not long exist together. Thereupon he determined on crushing Christianity.
Like those of the second Antonine, his edicts commanded inquisition of Christians, torture, death. Then was the consternation great. The Bishop of Alexandria, Dionysius, expressly records it. For the Church had now lost much of its first love.
 There were some apostasies; there were many faithless:–the libellatici and the acta facientes–professors who neither dared to confess, nor to [106] apostatize, and bribed the magistrates with money to spare them the conflict.
But now Death on the pale horse, having received his commission, had entered the empire. The sword of the Goths, one of his appointed instrumental agencies, struck down the persecuting emperor.
 His successor, Valerian, presently after, animated by the same spirit, renewed the persecution. The bishops and presbyters, those that led on the Christians to the conflict–and the Christian assemblies, that which supplied the means of grace which strengthened them to endure it–against these the imperial edicts were now chiefly leveled.
Then was Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, added to the glorious army of martyrs. But God again interposed.
Valerian had his reign cut short by the Persian sword. And Gallienus, his son and successor, trembling under God’s sore judgments, though still unconverted, sensual, hard-hearted, issued for the first time (A. D. 261) an edict of toleration to Christianity.
Their churches and burial-grounds were now restored to Christians; their worship permitted. Though the popular outbreaks against the disciples were by no means altogether discontinued, Christianity was legalized.
Such, in brief, were the persecutions of Christians in the Roman Empire prior to that [107] by Diocletian. During the progress of the gradual restoration of the empire which commenced soon after Gallienus’ edict of toleration, the toleration continued.
But as soon as the restoration was completed, persecution broke out afresh after its slumbering, like a giant refreshed with sleep.
It combined in itself the bitterness of all the former persecutions, with the new feature superadded of war against the Holy Scriptures, by the destruction of which, it was now rightly judged, that Christianity might best be destroyed, “When he opened the fifth seal, I saw the souls of them that were slain for the Word of God and for the testimony which they held.” [108]
[VOTA 94-108]