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A.D. 477, the son of the preceding, made persecution the serious and important business of his court. Gundamund, Thrasimund, and Gelimer, A.D. 484-530, followed up the persecuting spirit of their predecessors till the Vandal kingdom was overthrown by Belisarius. "Through the veil of fiction and declamation," says Gibbon, "we may clearly perceive, that the Catholics, more especially under the reign of Hunneric, endured the most cruel and ignominious treatment. Respectable citizens, noble matrons, and consecrated virgins, were stripped naked and raised in the air by pullies, with a weight suspended at their feet. In this painful attitude their bodies were torn with scourges, or burnt in the most tender parts with red hot plates of iron. The amputations of the ears, the nose, the tongue, and the right hand, were inflicted by the Arians; and although the precise number cannot be defined, it is evident that many persons, among whom a bishop, and proconsul, may be named, were entitled to the crown of martyrdom. The same honour has been ascribed to the memory of Count Sebastian, who professed the Nicene creed with unshaken constancy." A.D. 429-553. "The Vandals and the Ostrogoths persevered in the profession of Arianism till the final ruin of the kingdoms which they had founded in Africa and Italy. A. D. 553. The Barbarians of Gaul submitted to the orthodox dominion of the Franks; and Spain was restored to the Catholic church by the voluntary conversion of the Visigoths." A.D. 586-589. Gibb. VI. xxxvii.
10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, 11 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.
Fourth Stage of the Public Sounding of the Mystery.
By the fall of Augustulus, the last Emperor of the West, and the change of the Imperial to the Regal dignity, Rome became shorn of one third of her dominion. Of the three Præfectures, of the Gauls, Italy, and Illyricum, over which she once ruled, that of the Gauls, consisting of the three provinces of Gaul, Spain, and Britain, was entirely lost to her obedience. Spain and Gaul were formally resigned by the new sovereign Odoacer (and the gift was confirmed by the Senate,) to Euric, king of the Visigoths; the province of Britain had already been left to its fate; and the regal sun of the West now shone, and then with but an uncertain light, only over the two remaining præfectures. But with the third of the Empire, a third of the church was lost to the barbarians; and Arianism, unchecked through the remoteness of the see of Rome, flourished under the infected Visigoths, A.D. 479-485. Gibb. VI. xxviii. n. n. 5.
12 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.
Three Woes on the Roman Empire for its Apostacy.
After the Roman sun had suffered a partial eclipse by the arms of Euric, the Visigoth, the Latin head which had been wounded by the sword of the Herulic and Ostrogothic kings, recovered again under the reign of Jus
tinian, by the victories of Belisarius and Narses, and in a Latino-Greek dynasty. A threefold ecclesiastical power, the Greek Emperor of the Romans, His Holiness of Rome, and the revived Western Emperor of the Romans, commenced their Antichristian reign over the church of God, and endeavoured to establish an uniformity of faith by the unchristian arguments of fire, sword and exile. A.D. 553-1813. In the lapse of four hundred and ninety years from the preaching of John the Baptist A.D. 26, our Lord was again crucified by the apostacy of his people; Christianity was lost in the dress of the old superstition; and from the walls of the literal Jerusalem the abomination of image-worship was transplanted to the temples of the spiritual Jerusalem. Thirty seven years had intervened between the real crucifixion and the destruction of Jerusalem; five hundred and twenty seven years had passed away from the emancipation of the Jews by Artaxerxes to the triumph of Titus: and the double fulfilment of prophecy gave again to Christianity the same period for its rise and fall. The conquest of Italy by Justinian brought the triumph of Popery at their second expiration, A.D. 553; and the saints have lived 1260 years of tyranny under the decemvirate of the Greek Emperors and the French Kings without the grand charter of Louis the Desired, and the late advances to universal toleration. But the errors of the church had not been unforetold by the apostles; and we must exceedingly wonder at the ignorance or the presumption of the church of Rome, which durst harbour her doctrines in the face of Scripture and reason. "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience scared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and
exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little; but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation." 1 Tim. iv. 1-9. "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy-day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days; which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind; and not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together increaseth with the increase of God. Wherefore, if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (touch not; taste not; handle not; which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in willworship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh." Coloss. ii. 16-23. “Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come, and even now already is it in the world. 1 John iv. 3. "This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood." 1 John v. 6. Yet the Roman church refuses the wine in the sacrament to the laity. The three remaining periods therefore of the preaching of the gospel bring not salvation but condemnation to the Empire, a savour of death unto death in them that perish.
13 And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound.
Fifth Stage of the Public Sounding of the Mystery.
The fifth period of the authorised proclamation of the gospel brought the apostacy of Muhammed and his successors the Khalifs, who united in their persons the threefold offices of kings, priests, and generals. Their creed, which represented the Deity as the author of war, and the sword as the key of heaven and hell, drew forth from the desert sands of Arabia the warlike myriads of its longhaired inhabitants; and their numerous fleets and armies, consisting mostly of cavalry, led by their kingly emirs, darkened for a while the dominion of Rome and the rest of the world by the smoke of glory and conquest. From the first invasion of Syria, A.D. 632, to the accession of Harun Al-Raschid to the Khalifate of Bagdad, 786, the furnace of Saracenic fanaticism burned with undiminished fury: Syria, Egypt, Africa and Spain, were successively torn from the Empire, by these sons of Satan; in the year 640 the victory of victories annexed Persia to the Khalifate; and 710 the frozen regions of Tartary, and the remote country of China submitted to the warriors. But from the accession of Harun, the dust of victory had subsided; and one hundred and fifty years more of degeneracy discovered the locust-like tormentors to Italy and Greece. Their frequent and almost annual squadrons issued from Sicily and Africa. Their armies, composed exclusively of light horse, scoured the country in small squadrons, without caring to secure a retreat, or to attempt permanent conquests. Neither the sovereign, nor his feudatories, lost any portion of their territories; but the sting of desolation and misery, which these locusts left every where behind them, must have often made the invaded desire to receive them at once as their masters, than experience their continual bostilities. "The disciples of Abraham, of Moses, and of Jesus," says Gibbon, "were solemnly invited to accept the more perfect religion of Mahomet; but if they preferred the payment of a moderate tribute, they were entitled to the freedom of conscience and religious worship." Under such toleration the Italians and Greeks might have reasonably pre