SUMMARY.--The Fifth Trumpet. The Fallen Star. The Destroying Locusts. The Five Months of Their Power. The Sixth Trumpet. The Four Angels at the Euphrates Loosed. The Myriads of the Horsemen. The Third Part of Men Killed. The Rest of Mankind Repent Not.
A few years before the thousandth year of the Christian era, a fierce Tartar race, formidable by numbers and bravery, left their seats east of the Caspian Sea, and moved southwestward, until they rested upon the river Euphrates. A vast region of country east of that river fell before their arms. Persia became one of their provinces, and India, as far as the ocean, was subjected to their sway. But for two generations they "were bound by the river Euphrates" and lying upon its eastern banks, their armies were restrained by the river from ravaging the countries that lie to the west. For more than half a century, in some mysterious way, they were restrained at that river. At last, in the year 1057, sixty years after their appearance upon the east bank of that stream, after being bound for two generations, they crossed the Euphrates and marched upon the eastern Roman Empire. This people were called the Turkomans or Turkmans; we call them Turks.
There were four angels. This would imply, in some way, four powers. It is remarkable that this people were divided into four bodies, which formed four kingdoms, under the four grandsons of the leader who established the empire of the Turks in western Asia. The prince who was commissioned by the Caliph to attack the Greek Empire was named Togrul, but dying, his son, Alp Arsian, led the Turks across the Euphrates, and when he was slain in battle, he was succeeded by Malek Shah. If the reader will open at 532d page of Gibbon, Vol. V., he will find that the mighty empire of Malek Shah was divided into four principalities, under his four sons, which are described by the historian under the names of Persia, Kerman or India, Syria, Roum or Asia Minor, extending from the shores of the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean. There are then four angels or messengers of destruction.
Observe the correspondence: (1) They were bound at the Euphrates. (2) There were four commands. (3) Their armies were horsemen, apparently countless. (4) They numbered their horsemen by myriads instead of by thousands. Gibbon often speaks of the myriads of horses. See Chap. LVII. (5) "The Ottomans until a very recent period wore warlike apparel of scarlet, blue and yellow." (6) The first time that gunpowder and firearms were employed in war was in their campaigns. Constantinople was taken by cannon. See Gibbon, Chap. LXVIII. I quote one passage: "The great cannon of Mahomet has been separately noticed; an important and visible object in history of the times; but that enormous engine was flanked by two fellows almost of equal magnitude; the long order of the Turkish artillery was pointed against the walls; fourteen batteries thundered at once on the most accessible places; and of one of these it is ambiguously expressed, that it was mounted with one hundred and thirty balls, or discharged one hundred and thirty bullets." (7) There was power in the tails of the horses. This is a singular statement. No less singular is the fact that among the Turks the horse's tail is an emblem of power. The number of horses' tails determines rank. A Pacha of three tails is a great officer. The emblem of the rule of the Pachas, the most wasteful, oppressive, unjust rule the world has ever seen, is the horse's tail.
THE TIME.--One point more must suffice. It has been already shown that the prophetic period is three hundred and ninety-six years and four months, and it must evidently begin at the time when the angels were "loosed" in order to commence their work. It was in the year 1057 that the Turkish armies crossed the river and assailed the Empire. By the beginning of the next century their conquests extended to the Hellespont, and embraced all that portion of the world now portrayed upon the maps as Turkey in Asia. Then came the mighty uprising of Europe in the Crusades, which for the time beat back the torrent of Moslem invasion and recovered a portion of Asia. Between Europe and Asia the contest continued for two centuries, when Europe, weary of the fruitless struggle, abandoned the attempt, and the Turkish Empire, re-organized with the Ottoman Turks in power, passed over into Europe. The Eastern Empire was soon shorn of all its territories and reduced to the city of Constantinople. In the year 1453, assailed by two hundred thousand Turks, its walls battered down by the first cannon ever used in a siege, one hundred thousand of its citizens lying dead upon the ramparts, it was stormed by the Turks, and the last relic of the mighty empire which had existed for two thousand two hundred years was swept away forever. The work was done. The Empire fell in 1453. In 1057 the work began by the passage of the Euphrates. The interval between is three hundred and ninety-six years!
This remarkable prophecy is still more exact. The reader cannot fail to note particularly the language of the prophecy. We have found it to mean exactly 396 years and four months. On January 28th, 1057, according to Arabian historians, the Turks marched from Bagdad. 396 years and four months, or 120 days, would bring us to May 29th, 1453, the very day of the fall of Constantinople, and of the final overthrow of the Greek third part of the world.
20, 21. The rest . . . repented not. It is implied that these woes were sent as judgments. The Christianity of the East overthrown by the Saracens and Turks had become utterly corrupt. The rest, that is, those in other countries not conquered by Turks, continued their sins. That they should not worship devils. The worship of dead saints is what is meant by demon worship in the Scriptures. And the idols. Images had now been introduced into the churches everywhere and were worshiped. 21. They repented not of their murders. In the Crusade against the Albigenses, conducted by Rome in the thirteenth century, it is estimated that one million martyrs perished. Sorceries. Tricks to deceive, so characteristic of the priests. Fornication. This term may mean spiritual fornication or apostasy, and it may mean literal fornication. In either sense it is true of the religious features of the fifteenth century. Thefts. Thefts in resorting to deceptions and impostures to extort money from the people. Tetzel's mission to Germany early in the sixteenth century is an illustration. Instead of repentance after the great judgment on the Eastern Church, the Western Church grew worse and worse.
We have now followed the opening of the seals and the blowing of the trumpets to the sixth trumpet under the seventh seal. These have been followed in their order, then history has been consulted and, following in chronological order, have been found great epochal events in history which corresponded surprisingly to the symbolism of the visions. The American Editor of Lange on Revelation says: "The writer must acknowledge that, after a careful consideration of the principal views that had been presented, he has been constrained to the conclusion that the scheme of interpretation advocated by Elliot and Barnes (Substantially that which have I have followed.--B.W.J.) is in most respects correct. The points of resemblance between the symbols and the events of history, especially as portrayed by the infidel Gibbon, are too many, too striking and too exact, to allow the thought that they are merely fortuitous. It would seem as though God had raised up the great historian just mentioned to perform a work for the Bible and the Church, which could not have been so effectively performed by a friend. At times it seems as though he was writing history expressly to elucidate prophecy."--Lange on Revelation, page 213.
I will add that I have consulted Lange, Düsterdieck, Meyer, Elliott, Barnes, Alford, Prof. Wm. Milligan, Swedenborg, Archdeacon Lee, and all the principal commentators on Revelation, and find no other interpretation clear, consistent and complete. They are all more or less meaningless.