Page images

sixth and the beginning of the seventh century, the measure of this iniquity became full. And at that time, history records a dreadful invasion of the Chris, tian world by numerous armies, assailing it at the same time by corrupt doctrines and by the terror of their arms; with such success as to cut off from the hope and comfort of Christianity, and from the communion of the Church, so large a body of Christians, as may fairly be accounted one third part of the whole; yet leaving those parts of the Christian Church which remained, idolatrous and unrepentant.

Under this description, I shall easily be understood to intend the invasion of the Mahometan Saracens, whose numerous armies, famous for their cavalry, beginning their destructive progress early in the seventh century, soon overran, and subdued not only to their arms, but to their corrupt doctrines, a great part of the Christian world ; thus fulfilling that which is predicted in verses 16, 17, 18, 19, and comprized under the first head proposed. 2. The time, in which they burst forth upon the world, is that already ascertained, and accords with verses 20, 21, of the prophecy ; from which verses it is plainly inferred to be a very corrupt, and, in particular, an idolatrous time. All historians are agreed in describing the dreadful corruption, and idolatry of the Church at the time of the Saracene invasion, and especially of that Eastern part of it, which chiefly sank under the calamity. And to this corruption of the Church, and to the unchristian divisions and animosities accompanying it, they unanimously ascribe the success of Mahomet and of his followers, accounting this calamity to be à punishment, which the Church had justly de ,


served * 3. The success attributed to these armies of cavalry, under this Trumpet, expressed by their slaying one-third part of the men, that is, of the Christian world, seems likewise fully completed in this irruption of the Mahometans. By the terror of their arms, and by their arts, imposing on the vanquished nations their newly-modelled religion, (which, although it acknowledge Jesus as a prophet, rejects his mediation and atonement,) they separated from the great body of the Church one-third part of it; which, re

* See Mosheim's Eccl. Hist. cent. vii. part i. ch. 2 & 3. Amm. Marcell. i. 21. Sale's Preliminary Discourse to the Alcoran, p. 44, 4.5, 51. & 214. Vie de Mahom. par Boulanvilliers, p. 219, &c. Prie deaux' Life of Mahomet, preface. Ockley's Hist, of the Saracenes, vol. i. p. 20, 160, 223. Ricaut's Ottoman Empire, p. 187.- A modern writer, who has had access to the Eastern originals, as well as to these authorities, has concisely and eloquently displayed the origin and causes of the Mahometan success : " If in surveying the history of “ the sixth and seventh centuries, we call to our remembrance that “purity of doctrine, that simplicity of manners, that spirit of meek“ ness and universal benevolence, which marked the character of the Christians in the Apostolic age; the dreadful reverse which we here * behold, cannot but strike us with astonishment and horror. Divid" ed into numberless parties, on account of distinctions the most “ trifling and absurd, contending with each other from perverseness ; " and persecuting each other with rancour, corrupt in opinion, and

degenerate in practice, the Christians of this unhappy period seem “ to bave retained little more than the name and external profession " of their Religion. Of a Christian Church scarce any vestige re" mained. The most profligate principles and absurd opinions were “universally predominant: ignorance amidst the most favourable “ opportunities of knowledge; vice amidst the noblest encouragements “ to virtue ; a pretended żeal for truth, mixed with the wildest extravagances of error; an implacable spirit of discord about opinions " wbich none could settle; and a general and striking similarity in the “ commission of crimes, which it was the duty and interest of all to " avoid." White's Bampton Lectures, p. 60,



nouncing the name of Christ, and denying his sole power of salvation, became dead to his redemption, forfeiting the spiritual life obtained for them by him *.

The kingdoms subdued by the Mahometans, if examined on the maps, will be found to compose a full third part of the then Christian world; but some of these regions were not Christian, when subdued by the Saracene arms, and are therefore not to be taken into the account. Some, as Spain and Portugal, after years of conflict, were recovered to the Christian

In all the parts of the Mahometan dominions, there have been, and still are, many Christians; but among the Christians we find scarcely any Mahometans. These circumstances being taken into consideration, it will appear to be fairly represented as a general position, that one-third part of the world which was once Christian, was cut off from Christi, anity by the Mahometan invaders. And the balance appears to have continued nearly the same, even from that time to the present.--It is a remarkable coincidence, that when the Mahometan arms, in the fifteenth century, overturning the Eastern empire, made such additional acquisitions to Ishmaelism; the Christians began to extend their religion to distant climates, and preserved this balance by the addition of many millions, who call upon the name of Christ in the new world f. 4. The historians represent the

* See notes, ch. iii. 1. vi. 8.

+ “By the industry and zeal of the Europeans, Christianity has “ been widely diffused to the most distant shores of Asia and Africa; “ and, by the means of their colonies, bas been firmly established “ from Canada to Chili, in a world unknown to the ancients." Gibbon, Decline, &c. ch. xxv. p. 535.


remaining parts of the Christian Church which escaped this plague, as continuing corrupt and idolatrous. This fact is so well established in ecclesiastical history, that it seems to need no confirmation. The remains of Christendom, after the Mahoinetan domination had taken place in one part, continued impure and idolatrous in almost all other parts, until the purifying period of the Reformation.

In my notes upon the fifth Trumpet, some reasons were assigned, to shew that the prophecy therein contained, cannot be properly applied to these Mahometan devastations, which I have supposed to be prefigured under this sixth Trumpet. And in this application of it, I am at no great distance from the general notion of modern commentators; for almost all of them apply the sixth Trum- i pet to the devastations of the Turks, or of the Tartars, who were also Mahometans. The application of this prophecy to some of the Mahometan irruptions is indeed so obvious, that it is admitted by Michaelis ; who, dissatisfied with most other interpretations of the Apocalypse, has observed, that this prophecy may


very well applied to the irruptions of the Saracens, the Turks, and the Tartars *' haps be justly applied to all of them; for, all of them have the same character, as opposed to the Christian Church; they are all Mahometan. And if the Mahometan character is so strongly impressed upon this prophecy, that it may fitly be applied to the later devastations of the Mahometans, it will not be thought extraordinary, if it should be found applicable, eenwith a superior degree of propriety, to their first

[ocr errors]

It may per

• Introduct. to the N. T ch. xxiii. sect. 7.


grand and fatal irruption. For my own part, I can discover, in the interpretation of those commentators, who apply the sixth Trumpet to the Turkish Mahometans, only three instances in which it may appear more applicable to them, than to their predecessors in this warfare, to the Saracene followers of Mahomet; they are these : 1. That by which the four angels are supposed to represent the four

governments, into which the Turks are said to have been originally distributed. 2. That by which the fire, smoke, and brimstone, are interpreted to signify the guns and gunpowder used in the Turkish armies. 3. That by which the “ hour, day, month, year,” are understood to 1 express a certain continuance of time, applicable peculiarly to the Ottoman period. Now it seems to me, that none of these instances of interpretation are fairly established, but that all of them will be found to rest on weak and fanciful foundations. And if this can be shewn, it will then be allowed, even by the followers of Joseph Mede, that as there is nothing remaining in the prophecy, which restricts it peculiarly to the Ottoman Mahometans, it may be applied, with equal if not greater fitness, to the Saracene founders of that domination.

1. Joseph Mede, the ingenious deviser of this | scheme, which represents the four angels to signify

four Sultanies, or governments, has admitted 110 similar kind of interpretation respecting any other prophecy. The angel, who leads the host of the fifth Trumpet, he asserts to be a fallen angel, even Satan himself *. And it may be questioned, whether an angel is used, in the prophetical language of Scrip

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »