Evidence from Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ, by William Miller, , at sacred-texts.com
IN prophetical scripture, the sounding of trumpets is always used to denote the downfall of some empire, nation, or place, or some dreadful battle, which may decide the fate of empires, nations, or places. At the fall of Jericho, the trumpet was the instrument, in the hands of the priest of the mighty God of Jacob, which cast down her walls, destroyed the city, and a curse pronounced against the man that should ever build up her walls again. Again, the trumpet was the instrument by which Gideon put to flight the armies of the aliens. And the prophet Amos says, "Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid?" Therefore we may reasonably conclude that a trumpet is the harbinger of destructive wars, and the dissolution of empires, states, or the earth, as the case may be. The seven trumpets mentioned in Revelation, the three last of which are mentioned in our text, indicate the final overthrow of the powers spoken of in the prophecy. The four first had their accomplishment in the destruction of the Jews and their dispersion, in the fall of imperial Rome, in the overthrow of the Asiatic kingdom, and in the taking away of Pagan rites and ceremonies.
The last three trumpets will claim our attention in this discourse; the first four having their accomplishment under Rome pagan; to the last three under Rome Papal. These three trumpets and three woes are a description of the judgments that God has sent and will send on this Papal beast, the abomination of the whole earth. Therefore we see the propriety of the language of our text, "Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabitants of the earth," meaning the worshippers of this Papal beast, the followers of this abomination. The fifth trumpet alludes to the rise of the Turkish empire under Ottoman, at the downfall of the Saracens. Ottoman uniting under his government the four contending nations of Mahometans, which had long contended for the power during the reign of the Saracen empire, viz., the Saracens, Tartars, Arabs, and Turks. These, all being by profession Mahometans, were ready to follow any daring leader to conquer and drive out from Asia (and even make excursion into Europe) all who professed the Christian faith. They, having embraced the errors of that fallen star, Mahomet, whose principles were promulgated by conquest and the sword, became one and perhaps the only barrier to the spread of the Papal doctrine and power in the eastern world. Here the Roman Church had long held a powerful sway over the minds and consciences of the Christian or Greek church in the east, by the aid of the eastern emperor at Constantinople. But the Turks or Ottomans, whom the Lord suffered to rise up in Bithynia, on or near the head waters of the Euphrates, as a scourge against this Papal abomination, now became a check to the Roman power; and from this time we may reasonably date the declension of Papal authority. Therefore on the sounding of the fifth trumpet, Rome Papal began to show a weakness which in every succeeding age has been more and more manifested, until her civil power has crumbled to ruin, and her ecclesiastical assumptions must sink, at the sounding of the seventh trump, to rise no more forever.
In the description of these trumpets we shall be able to apply the prophecy, as the writer believes, to those events designed by the vision which John saw.
Rev. ix. 1. "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." After the downfall of Pagan Rome, and the rise of the anti-Christian abomination, Mahomet promulgated a religion which evidently came from the bottomless pit; for it fostered all the wicked passions of the human heart, such as war, murder, slavery, and lust.
2d verse, "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 was darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit." The figures used in this text are, the bottomless pit, which denote the theories of men or devils, that have no foundation in the word of God. Smoke denotes the errors from such doctrine, which serve to blind the eyes of men, that they cannot see the truth. As the smoke of a great furnace shows the great extent or effect of this error over the world. The sun denotes the gospel, which is the great luminary of the moral world. The air denotes the moral influence on the mind, which is commonly called piety. As air supports or gives to the lungs animation in the physical world, so does the piety of the heart to the moral.
This, then, is the true sentiment of this passage. And by reason of the Mahometan errors which would be believed or followed by a great multitude, the gospel and the pious influence of the same would be in a great measure hid or lost to the world.
3d verse, "And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth; and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power." By these locusts I understand armies. See Joel, 1st and 2d chapters. Therefore I should read this text thus: And there came out from these Mahometan followers large armies, which should have great power to execute the judgments of God on this anti-Christian beast, which had filled the earth with her abominations.
4th verse, "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." By grass, green things, and trees, Ps. lxxii. 16, Hosea xiv. 8, I understand the true church, or people of God. By those men having not the seal of God, &c., I understand the anti-Christian church, or Papal Rome. Then this would be the sense: And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the true church, or people of God, but only the anti-Christian beast, or powers subject to her.
5th verse, "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 a scorpion, when he striketh a man." To kill is to destroy. Five months is in prophecy 150 years. To torment as a scorpion, &c., is to make sudden incursions and irruptions into the country &c. Then this is the sentiment to me conveyed in the text: And the Turkish armies would not have power to destroy the Papal powers for 150 years, but would make sudden and quick incursions into their territories, and harass and perplex the nations under the Papal control.
6th verse, "And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them." About this time the Greek church, in Constantinople, was so harassed by the Papal authority, that it gave rise to a saying among them, that they "had rather see the Turkish turban on the throne of the Eastern Empire, than the Pope's tiara." And any one who has read the history of the 14th century, will see that this text was literally accomplished.
7th verse, "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." In this verse we have a description of the Turkish armies. In the first place they are represented as being all horsemen. This was true with the Turks, and no other kingdom since Christ's time, that we have any knowledge of, whose armies were all horsemen. They wore on their heads yellow turbans, which can only apply to the Turks, looking like crowns of gold.
8th verse, "And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions." They wore long hair attached to their turbans, and they fought with javelins like the teeth of lions.
9th verse, "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." By their breastplates I understand shields, which the Turks carried in their battles; and history tells us that when they charged an enemy, they made a noise upon them like the noise of chariot wheels.
10th verse, "And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails; and their power was to hurt men five months." The Turkish horsemen had each a cimeter which hung in a scabbard at their waist, that they used in close combat after they had discharged their javelins, with which they were very expert, severing a man's or even a horse's head at a blow. And from the time that the Ottoman power or Turkish empire was first established in Bithynia, until the downfall of the Greek or Eastern Empire, when the Turks took Constantinople, was five prophetic months, or one hundred and fifty years.
11th verse, "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." The Turkish government had a king when they began, as before mentioned, and he was a follower of the Mahometan faith, and truly a servant or messenger of this doctrine of the bottomless pit. The name of their first king, who is styled in history the founder of the Turkish empire, was Othoman or Ottoman, from whom the empire took its name, and has been called to this day the Ottoman empire. And great has been the destruction which this government has executed upon the world; and well may this empire be styled Destroyer, in prophecy the signification of Abaddon or Apollyon.
12th verse, "One woe is past; and behold, there come two woes more hereafter." This closes the fifth trumpet and the first woe, commencing at the foundation of the Turkish empire in Bithynia, in the year A.D. 1298, and lasting five prophetic months, or 150 years, which carries us down to the year A.D. 1448. When we take into view the object and design of God in sending this judgment or scourge upon the men who have not the seal of God on their foreheads; the anti-Christian beast, who profess to be Christians, but are not; when we compare the history of those times with the prophecy--we have been examining, and the events which have transpired concerning the Ottoman empire, with the descriptive character given of them in this prophecy,--we cannot, I think, hesitate for a moment to apply the fulfilment of this trumpet and woe, to these events, time, and place; and must be led to admire the agreement between the prophecy and fulfilment, and to believe this book of Revelation to be indited by the unerring wisdom of the Divine Spirit; for no human forethought could have so exactly described these events, dress, manners, customs, and mode of warfare 1200 years beforehand, except the wisdom of God had assisted him. And if these things are revealed by God himself unto us, surely no one will dare to say that it is non-essential whether we believe this part of the revealed will of God or not. Shall God speak and man disregard it? Forbid it, O Father; and let us have "ears to hear what the Spirit saith to the churches."
We shall now follow the revelation of God into the sixth trumpet and second woe; and may we have the Spirit of God to assist us and lead our minds into the truth of these things.
13th verse, "And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God," 14th verse, "Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates." By the sounding of the trumpet, I understand the commencing of those judgments which were to be poured out upon the earth under this trumpet; and by the "voice from the four horns of the golden altar," the agreement of all the powers of heaven and earth to execute the design of God in this thing. By loosing the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates, I understand that God was now about to suffer the four principal nations of which the Ottoman empire was composed, which had in vain attempted to subdue the Eastern Empire at Constantinople, and made but little progress in conquering Europe, now to take Constantinople, and to overrun and subdue one third part of Europe, which was the fact about the middle of the fifteenth century.
15th verse, "And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, to slay the third part of men." The four angels, we may reasonably conclude, are a representation of the four nations that had embraced the Mahometan religion, and were now under the control of the Ottoman, viz., Turks, Tartars, Arabs, and Saracens. The time expressed in the last-mentioned verse is 391 years and 15 days. "To slay the third part of men," is to destroy and conquer one third part of the governments or kingdoms of which the Papal beast had the control, which was true in the end.
16th verse, "And the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred thousand thousand; and I heard the number of them." In this verse the precise number of the army of horsemen is given, for John tells us "he heard the number of them." And if we should understand the prophet to mean, as some suppose he does, 200,000 multiplied by a 1000, then the sum total would be 200,000,000, which would be more men than were ever on our earth at one time capable of bearing arms; therefore I believe this is not the meaning of the prophet, neither do I think that it was a succession of armies during the whole period of 391 years, making the sum total of 200,000,000, for this, too, would be incredible; for allowing a standing army of 15,385,000 to be recruited every 30 years, it would only make the two hundred millions; and this sum would be more than five times the number of all the standing armies in the known world. And from these considerations I have for myself given this construction, that the prophet John heard the number of 200,000 repeated, or twice told, which would make an army of 400,000 horsemen; and this would not be incredible. And what is to me strong proof of the fact is, that the history informs us that Mahomet II. came against Constantinople about the year A.D. 1450, with an army of 400,000 1 horsemen, and after a long siege took the city in the year 1453, and destroyed the Eastern Empire, which had stood more than ten centuries from its foundation by Constantine.
17th verse: "And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth and brimstone; and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions, and out of their mouths issued fire, and smoke, and brimstone." 18th verse, "By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths." 19th verse, "For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails; for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt." In these verses which we have now read, we are plainly informed that it was an army of horses, and men on them, which John saw in the vision. And the implements and manner of fighting, such as the trapping of their horses, and the instruments offensive and defensive, gunpowder and guns, are as exactly described as any person could describe it without knowing the name by which we describe it at the present day. Fire, smoke, and brimstone, would be the most visible component parts of gunpowder. Fire and smoke we should see, and brimstone we should smell. And who ever saw an army of horsemen engaged in an action but would think of John's description, "out of their mouths issued fire, and smoke, and brimstone," and in the breech of the guns were bullets, "like heads, and with these they do hurt"? Every part of this description is exactly applicable to an army of horsemen with fire-arms; and what is equally strong in the evidence is, that guns and fire-arms were invented but a short time previous to this trump-sounding, and the Turks claimed the honor (if honor it can be called) of inventing gunpowder and guns; and it is equally evident by the history that guns were first used by the Turks at the taking of Constantinople, they having one single cannon that took 70 yoke of oxen to draw it at the siege, as says Dr. Gill on this passage.
20th verse, "And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood, which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk." 21st verse, "Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts." In these verses, we have the character of the persons or government on whose account these plagues were sent. In the first place, they are represented as idolaters, as worshipping devils, idols of gold, &c., full of murder, sorceries, fornication, and theft. This exactly agrees with the description John has given of the "woman sitting on the scarlet-colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication. And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots, and the abominations of the earth." So we see that the fifth and sixth trumpets, and the two first woes, were sent as the judgments of God upon this anti-Christian beast, and clearly shows the decline of the power which she had exercised over the kings of the earth and the people of God for more than eight centuries, to the commencing of the sixth trumpet, when the Turks were let loose upon those kingdoms under the control of Papacy, conquered all Asia and about one third part of Europe, and were in the end the means of opening the eyes of many of the inhabitants of the world to see that the Pope's pretension of being the vice-gerent of God was not well founded; for, if he could not foresee and resist the inroads of the Turks,--that infidel nation,--surely he could not perform those great miracles which he pretended to perform in order to support his ecclesiastical and civil power: and individuals, and afterwards nations, began to disregard his authority, excommunications, and bulls, until his power is now but a little more than a bishop of Rome.
Here we see the wonder-working ways of our God, who, in wisdom and providence, suffers the corrupt and infidel nations of the earth to pull down each other, and to bring about his purposes and designs, and will eventually destroy all the kingdoms of the earth, by such means, and in such ways, as the prophets have foretold; and whoever lives until the year 1839 will see the final dissolution of the Turkish empire, for then the sixth trumpet will have finished its sounding, which, if I am correct, will be the final overthrow of the Ottoman power. And then will the seventh trump and last woe begin, under which the kingdoms of the earth and the anti-Christian beast will be destroyed, the powers of darkness chained, the world cleansed, and the church purified.
See the 10th chapter of Revelation, 5th, 6th, and 7th verses, "And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven." This is the angel of the covenant, the great Mediator. See the first verse, "And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud." So is Christ to come in the clouds with power and great glory. "And a rainbow was upon his head." This shows plainly that it is Christ; for the rainbow is a token of the covenant. "And his face was as it were the sun." The same as when he was transfigured, Matt. xvii. 2, "And his feet as pillars of fire." See Rev. i. 15, "His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace." Surely this must be Christ. "And he had in his hand a little book open." None could open the book but the lion of the tribe of Judah--another strong proof that the angel in Rev. x. 5 is Christ. And who but Christ could stand upon the sea and upon the earth, and lift "up his hand to heaven, and swear by Him that liveth forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that therein are, and the sea and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer"? that is, gospel or mediatorial time should cease. No more time for mercy; no more Spirit to strive with you, sinner; no more means of grace; no more repentance unto life; no more hopes of heaven; for Jesus has sworn by himself, because he could swear by no greater, that your day of probation "should be no longer." For "he that is filthy shall be filthy still." The Bridegroom has come, and shut to the door. I know, sinner, you will then cry, Lord, Lord, open unto us; but he will say unto you, Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity, for I know you not: when I called to you to open the door of your hearts, that I might come in and sup with you, ye refused; when I stretched out my arm all the long day of the gospel, ye regarded it not; I will now laugh at your calamity, and mock when your fear cometh. Then will the angel, flying through the midst of heaven, cry, with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth; for, when the last woe is pronounced, and "in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets." "The second woe is past, and behold the third woe cometh quickly. And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever," Rev. xi. 14, 15. By these passages we learn that, when the sixth trumpet has done sounding, when the second woe is past, then the third woe comes quickly. The seventh trump begins to sound; the mystery of God is finished--all that has been spoken by the prophets, that is, all that concerns the kingdom of Christ; for then will be brought to pass the saying, Death is swallowed up in victory; for, when the last trumpet shall sound, the dead in Christ shall be raised: "For as in Adam all died, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." "But every man in his own order. Christ the first fruits, afterwards they that are Christ's at his coming." "The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second Man is the Lord from heaven." "As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly." "And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now, this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption." "Behold, I show you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed; for this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." "Then will be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory," 1 Cor. xv. 22-54.
1 Some authors say 300,000.