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only Mediator between God and man, and the Sun of Righteousness, from the eyes of men. The saints and their images and relics having, by the influence of the false doctrines which have been described, been made to occupy the place of Christ, he was necessarily kept out of view.* Having so many other mediators, men had no need of the only true Mediator, and did not seek him. But the smoke from the pit darkened the air as well as the sun. The natural air is the medium of respiration and life to our bodies, and also the medium through which the light of the natural sun is communicated to us. The symbolical air or atmosphere, when the symbols of the context are used to denote spiritual objects, may therefore signify the pure and heavenly

* The tendency of saint-worship, to hide Christ from the eyes of men, will appear from the following account of the offerings, made in two successive years, at the altars of Christ, of Thomas a Becket, and the Virgin Mary, at Christ Church, Canterbury, which I copy from a note in Dr. Middleton's Letter from Rome. In one year the offerings stood as follows:

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The following prayer to Christ is given, by the same author, from

one of the popish liturgies:

Tu per Thomæ sanguinem,

Quam pro te impendit,

Fac me Christe scandere,

Quo Thomas ascendit.

These circumstances, it is true, belong to a later age than that of the first woe, but the idolatry of the sixth century was the same in substance as that of the twelfth.

truths of the Gospel, which are, as it were, the element of spiritual respiration to the soul of man, and also the medium through which the saving light of Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, is communicated to us. These pure and heavenly truths were obscured and darkened by the mixture of false doctrines, which (like smoke) issued from the pit of the abyss; and the light of the Sun of Righteousness could no longer shine through the medium of the truths of his own Gospel thus córrupted.

Having thus endeavoured to fix the signification of the symbols, we shall find little difficulty in ascertaining who was the fallen star, or apostate Christian bishop, that was the great agent in opening the pit of the abyss. The acknowledged head of the Christian Church during the sixth and seventh centuries was the Pope, or bishop of Rome; and history informs us, not only that the popes gave no opposition to the doctrines respecting the mediation and worship of saints, and the veneration to be paid to their images and bones, but that they were the active and most zealous promoters of these doctrines, and of all the idolatrous practices which pervaded the Christian church. I conceive the Pope of Rome, therefore, to be the fallen star, or apostate bishop, to whom was given the key of the pit of the abyss. Nor will it appear to us wonderful, that such an office should be assigned to him who pretended to be the vicar of Christ upon earth, and the visible head of the church, when we recollect, that the lawful head of the Jewish church, the high priest of the Levitical dispensation, was the chief and principal agent in the crucifixion of Christ.


The sun and the air having been darkened by the smoke of the pit of the abyss, "there came out of "the smoke locusts upon the earth; and unto them "was given power as the scorpions of the earth have power.

An army of locusts, in the language of symbols, signifies an army of hostile invaders. The locusts mentioned in the prophecy of Joel were so understood by the ancient Jewish interpreters, who were well qualified to judge of the meaning of their own symbols. In the present instance no doubt is left on the subject, as we are informed afterwards, that "the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle," &c.

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The next remark which I shall make with respect to these symbolical locusts is, that though they appeared to the Apostle John to come out of the black smoke which arose out of the pit of the abyss, yet they in reality came out of the infernal pit itself, and the smoke was only the medium through which they ascended. This appears from the circumstance that their king, who is afterwards mentioned, is the angel or messenger of the pit of the abyss. The fact seems to have been, that the leader of the locust army, taking advantage of the opening of the pit, and the smoky darkness which had overspread the atmosphere, and obscured the sun, came up out of the pit unperceived, and was only seen when with his army he issued forth to execute his commission.

The whole of this highly hieroglyphical description is exactly applicable to the rise of the Mahomedan religion and power; and it is very remarkable that

* Rev. ix. 3.

+ Vide Dr. Gill on Joel i. 4.

Mr. Gibbon, in describing these events, makes use of language, with respect to the state of the Christian church, at the time when Mahummud appeared, which might almost be supposed to have been borrowed from the Apocalypse. "The Christians of "the seventh century had insensibly relapsed into "a semblance of paganism; their public and private "vows were addressed to the relics and images that disgraced the temples of the east: The throne of the Almighty was darkened by a crowd of martyrs, "and saints, and angels, the objects of popular "veneration;* and the Collyridian heretics, who "flourished in the fruitful soil of Arabia, invested "the Virgin with the name and honours of a goddess."+



It may be affirmed, almost without the danger of dispute, that Mahummud could not have succeeded in his imposture in an age of light; and that if superstition and gross darkness had not previously overspread Christendom, either his impious fraud had not been attempted, or had been destroyed in embryo. It is, therefore, quite agreeable to the nature of the symbolical language and style, that the army of locusts should be represented as issuing out of the black smoke which had previously pervaded the symbolical atmosphere.

* The reader will not fail to remark the similarity of this language to that of the Apocalypse: "The sun and the air were darkened by 66 reason of the sinoke."

+ Gibbon, chap. I.

The passage of 2 Thess. ii. 10, may, without any violence, be accommodated to the state of the Christian world when Mahummud appeared; they received not the love of the truth: therefore God, in just judgment, permitted a lie to prosper in the hand of the im post or, to deceive these degenerate Christians.

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The next particular respecting these locusts, which is worthy of observation, is, that "it was commanded them, that they should not hurt the grass of the "earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree." History informs us, that the following formed a part of the instructions given to the army of Saracens which invaded Syria in the reign of Abubeker, the successor of Mahummud: Destroy no palm-trees, "nor burn any fields of corn; cut down no fruittrees, nor do any mischief to cattle, only such as you kill to eat."* But the language of this clause may further be designed to show us, that these locusts are not real, but symbolical locusts.

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The locust army were to hurt those men which had not the seal of God in their foreheads. Accordingly, the ravages of the Saracens were chiefly confined to those Christian countries where religion had been most deeply corrupted by saint and image worship. "The parts which remained the freest "from the general infection were Savoy, Piedmont, "and the southern parts of France, which were "afterwards the nurseries and habitations of the "Waldenses and Albigenses; and it is very memo

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rable, that when the Saracens approached these "parts, they were defeated with great slaughter, by "the famous Charles Martel, in several engage"ments."+

It is said that " they had not power to kill, but "only to torment men." This seems to refer to their having no commission to destroy or overturn, but only to ravage and scourge the eastern empire. Accordingly, it is observed by Bishop Newton on + Bishop Newton, in loco.

Gibbon, chap. li.

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