Revelation 9
Benson Commentary
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.
Revelation 9:1. The fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven to the earth “Stars, in the language of prophecy,” says Lowman, “signify angels. The angels of the heavenly host, as well as the angels or bishops of the churches, (see Revelation 1:20; Revelation 8:10,) seem to be called stars in Scripture: as when, at the creation, the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy, Job 38:7. In like manner, when the abyss or bottomless pit is shut up, it is represented in this prophecy to be done by an angel coming down from heaven having the key of the bottomless pit. These expressions are so nearly the same, as well as upon the same subject, that they may be well taken in the same sense, and so used to explain each other. The expression then, a star fallen from heaven, or an angel come down from heaven, with a key to open the bottomless pit, seems naturally to mean the permission of the Divine Providence for those evil and calamitous events, which are described to follow from opening the bottomless pit, which could not have happened but by the permission of the Divine Providence, and according to the wise and holy orders of the divine government; for the providence of God could as surely have prevented the temptations of Satan, and the powers of darkness, as if Satan and his angels had been fast locked up, and secured in safe prison; so that he sends an angel, his messenger, with the key of the bottomless pit, to open the prison and permit them to go out, to teach that they can only act so far as they have permission, and can always be restrained and shut up again, at the good pleasure of the supreme Governor of the world. The abyss, or bottomless pit, is explained in the prophecy itself to be the place where the devil and Satan are shut up, that they should not deceive the nations, Revelation 20:1-3. The abyss seems also to be used in the same sense when the devils besought Christ that he would not command them to go out into the deep, Greek, εις την αβυσσον, into the abyss, or bottomless pit. Grotius observes on Luke 8:31, that this abyss is the same with what St. Peter calls hell, or tartarus,” 2 Peter 2:4; where see the note. “Now this prison of Satan and of his angels, by the righteous judgment of God, is permitted to be opened for the just punishment of apostate churches, who would not repent of their evil works. We may then say with the bishop of Meaux, ‘Behold something more terrible than what we have hitherto seen! Hell opens, and the devil appears, followed by an army, of a stranger figure than any St. John has anywhere described.’ And we may observe from others, that this great temptation of the faithful was to be with the united force of false doctrine and persecution. Hell does not open itself, (as the bishop observes,) it is always some false teacher that opens it.”

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 were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.
Revelation 9:2-3. There arose a smoke out of the pit — As a great smoke hinders the sight, so do errors blind the understanding. The apostle keeps to the allegory, says Grotius, for smoke takes from us the sight of the stars; smoke, especially when proceeding from a fierce fire, is also a representation of devastation. Thus when Abraham beheld the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace. The great displeasure of God is represented by the same figurative expressions of smoke and fire, Psalm 18:7-8. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth — Many Protestant writers imagine these locusts signify the religious orders of monks and friars, &c., but Mede understands by them the inundation of the Saracens, locusts and grasshoppers being elsewhere expressly made to signify both the multitude of the eastern nations invading Israel, and the swift progress and destruction they made, Jdg 6:5. And Lowman confirms this interpretation, and shows that the rise and progress of the Mohammedan religion and empire, till checked by internal divisions, is a remarkable accomplishment of this part of the prophecy; which is further illustrated by the ignorance and error the Mohammedans everywhere spread, their great number and hardiness, their habits, customs, and manners, namely, twisting their hair, wearing beards, their care of their horses, invading their neighbours in summer like locusts, sparing the trees and fruits of the countries they invaded; the captivity of the men, and the miserable condition of the women, exposed to persons who gave an almost unbounded liberty to their lusts, which was enough to make them even to desire death, Revelation 9:6. All these circumstances are suitable to the character of the Arabians, the history of this period, and to the particulars of this prophecy.

That the Saracens were intended by the locusts here mentioned, was also the opinion of Bishop Newton, who interprets this part of the prophecy as follows: — “At the sounding of the fifth trumpet, a star fallen from heaven, meaning the wicked impostor Mohammed, opened the bottomless pit, and there arose a smoke out of the pit, and the sun and the air were darkened by it; that is, a false religion was set up, which filled the world with darkness and error, and swarms of Saracen or Arabian locusts overspread the earth. A false prophet is very fitly typified by a blazing star or meteor. The Arabians, likewise, are properly compared to locusts, not only because numerous armies frequently are so, but also because swarms of locusts often arise from Arabia; and also because in the plagues of Egypt, to which constant allusion is made in these trumpets, the locusts (Exodus 10:13) are brought by an east wind, that is, from Arabia, which lay eastward of Egypt; and also because in the book of Judges, (Jdg 7:12,) the people of Arabia are compared to locusts or grasshoppers for multitude, for in the original the word for both is the same. As the natural locusts are bred in pits, and holes of the earth, so these mystical locusts are truly infernal, and proceed with the smoke from the bottomless pit.” It is too a remarkable coincidence, that at this time the sun and the earth were really darkened. For we learn from an eminent Arabian historian, that “in the seventeenth year of Heraclius half the body of the sun was eclipsed, and this defect continued from the former Tisrin to Haziran, (that is, from October to June,) so that only a little of its light appeared.” The seventeenth year of Heraclius coincides with the year of Christ 626, and with the fifth year of the Hegira; and at this time Mohammed was training and exercising his followers in depredations at home, to fit them for greater conquests abroad.

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.
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.
Revelation 9:4-6. And it was commanded that they should not hurt the grass, &c. — This verse demonstrates that they were not natural, but symbolical locusts. The like injunctions were given to the Arabian officers and soldiers. When Yezid was marching with the army to invade Syria, Abubeker charged him with this among other orders: “Destroy no palm- trees, nor burn any fields of corn; cut down no fruit-trees, nor do any mischief to cattle, only such as you kill to eat.” Their commission is to hurt only those men who had not the seal of God in their foreheads — That is, those who were not the true servants of God, but were corrupt and idolatrous Christians. Now from history it appears evidently, that in those countries of Asia, Africa, and Europe, where the Saracens extended their conquests, the Christians were generally guilty of idolatry in the worshipping of saints, if not of images; and it was the pretence of Mohammed and his followers to chastise them for it, and to re-establish the unity of the Godhead. The parts which remained the freest from the general infection were Savoy, Piedmont, and the southern parts of France, which were afterward the nurseries and habitations of the Waldenses and Albigenses; and it is very memorable that when the Saracens approached these parts, they were defeated with great slaughter by the famous Charles Martel, in several engagements. To them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented, &c. — As the Saracens were to hurt only the corrupt and idolatrous Christians, so these they were not to kill, but only to torment, and should bring such calamities upon the earth, as should make men weary of their lives. Not that it could be supposed that the Saracens would not kill many thousands in their incursions. On the contrary, their angel (Revelation 9:11) hath the name of the destroyer. They might kill them as individuals, but still they should not kill them as a political body, as a state, or empire. They might greatly harass and torment both the Greek and the Latin churches, but they should not utterly extirpate the one or the other. They besieged Constantinople, and even plundered Rome, but they could not make themselves masters of either of those capital cities. The Greek empire suffered most from them, as it lay nearest to them. They dismembered it of Syria and Egypt, and some other of its best and richest provinces; but they were never able to subdue and conquer the whole. As often as they besieged Constantinople, they were repulsed and defeated. They attempted it in the reign of Constantine Pogonatus, A.D. 672; but their men and ships were miserably destroyed by the sea-fire invented by Callinicus, and after seven years fruitless pains they were compelled to raise the siege, and to conclude a peace. They attempted it again in the reign of Leo Isauricus, A.D. 718; but they were forced to desist by famine and pestilence, and losses of various kinds. In this attempt they exceeded their commission, and therefore they were not crowned with their usual success. The taking of this city, and the putting an end to this empire, was a work reserved for another power, as we shall see under the next trumpet.

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.
And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.
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.
Revelation 9:7-9. The shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle — In this and the two following verses, the nature and qualities of these locusts are described, partly in allusion to the properties of natural locusts and the description given of them by Joel, and partly in allusion to the habits and manners of the Arabians, to show that not real but figurative locusts were here intended. The first quality mentioned is their being like unto horses prepared unto battle; which is copied from Joel 2:4. The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses, &c. Many authors have observed that the head of a locust resembles that of a horse. The Italians, therefore, call them cavalette, as it were little horses. The Arabians too have in all ages been famous for their horses and horsemanship. Their strength is well known to consist chiefly in their cavalry. Another distinguishing mark and character is their having on their heads as it were crowns like gold — Which is an allusion to the headdress of the Arabians, who have constantly worn turbans or mitres, and boast of having those ornaments for their common attire, which are crowns and diadems with other people. The crowns also signify the kingdoms and dominions which they should acquire. For, as Mede excellently observes, “No nation had ever so wide a command, nor ever were so many kingdoms, so many regions subjugated in so short a space of time. It sounds incredible, yet most true it is, that in the space of eighty or not many more years, they subdued and acquired to the diabolical kingdom of Mohammed, Palestine, Syria, both Armenias, almost all Asia Minor, Persia, India, Egypt, Numidia, all Barbary, even to the river Niger, Portugal, Spain. Neither did their fortune or ambition stop here till they had added also a great part of Italy, as far as to the gates of Rome; moreover, Sicily, Candia, Cyprus, and the other islands of the Mediterranean sea. Good God! how great a tract of land! how many crowns were here! Whence also it is worthy of observation, that mention is not made here, as in other trumpets, of the third part; forasmuch as this plague fell no less without the bounds of the Roman empire than within it, and extended itself even to the remotest Indies.” They had also faces as the faces of men, and hair as the hair of women — And the Arabians wore their beards, or at least mustaches, as men; while the hair of their heads was flowing, or platted like that of women; as Pliny and other ancient authors testify. Another property, copied from Joel, is their having teeth as the teeth of lions; that is, strong to devour. So Joel describes the locusts, (chap. Revelation 1:6,) as a nation whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, &c.; and it is wonderful how they bite and gnaw all things, as Pliny says, even the doors of the houses. They had also breast-plates, as it were breast-plates of iron — And the locusts have a hard shell or skin, which hath been called their armour. This figure is designed to express the defensive, as the former was the offensive arms of the Saracens. And the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle — Much the same comparison had been used by Joel 2:5, Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap; and Pliny affirms that they fly with so great a noise of their wings, that they may be taken for birds. Their wings, and the sound of their wings, denote the swiftness and rapidity of their conquests; and it is indeed astonishing that in less than a century they erected an empire which extended from India to Spain.

And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.
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.
And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.
Revelation 9:10-11. They had tails like unto scorpions — They are thrice compared to scorpions, namely, Revelation 9:3; Revelation 9:5, as well as in this verse. But whether these tails and stings, as of scorpions, were designed to express that these Saracens should spread the poison of error and delusion where they came, or only to signify the great pain and uneasiness their invasion should occasion, seems doubtful. Bishop Newton, however, interprets the metaphor in the former sense, as intended to signify, that wherever they carried their arms, there also they should distil the venom of a false religion. And their power was to hurt men five months — “One difficulty,” says Bishop Newton, “and the greatest of all, remains yet to be explained; and that is the period of five months assigned to these locusts, which being twice mentioned, merits the more particular consideration. They tormented men five months, Revelation 9:5; and again here, their power was to hurt men five months. It is said, without doubt, in conformity to the type; for locusts are observed to live about five months; that is, from April to September. Scorpions, too, as Bochart asserts, are noxious for no longer a term, the cold rendering them torpid and inactive. But of these locusts it is said, not that their duration or existence was only for five months, but their power of hurting and tormenting men continued five months. Now, these months may either be months commonly so taken; or prophetic months, consisting each of thirty days, as St. John reckons them, and so making one hundred and fifty years, at the rate of each day for a year; or the number being repeated twice, the sums may be thought to be doubled, and five months and five months, in prophetic computation, will amount to three hundred years. If these months be taken for common months, then, as the natural locusts live and do hurt only in the five summer months, so the Saracens, in the five summer months too, made their excursions, and retreated again in the winter. It appears that this was their usual practice, and particularly when they first besieged Constantinople in the time of Constantine Pogonatus. For from the month of April to September, they pertinaciously continued the siege, and then, despairing of success, departed to Cyzicum, where they wintered, and in spring again renewed the war: and this course they held for seven years, as the Greek annals tell us. If these months be taken for prophetic months, or one hundred and fifty years, it was within that space of time that the Saracens made their principal conquests. Their empire might subsist much longer, but their power of hurting and tormenting men was exerted chiefly within that period. Read the history of the Saracens, and you will find that their greatest exploits were performed, their greatest conquests were made, between the year 612, when Mohammed first opened the bottomless pit, and began publicly to teach and propagate his imposture, and the year 762, when the Calif Almansor built Bagdad, to fix there the seat of his empire, and called it the city of peace. Syria, Persia, India, and the greatest part of Asia; Egypt, and the greatest part of Africa; Spain, and some parts of Europe, were all subdued in the intermediate time. But when the califs, who before had removed from place to place, fixed their habitation at Bagdad, then the Saracens ceased from their incursions and ravages, like locusts, and became a settled nation; then they made no more such rapid and amazing conquests as before, but only engaged in common and ordinary wars, like other nations; then their power and glory began to decline, and their empire by little and little to moulder away; then they had no longer, like the prophetic locusts, one king over them; Spain having revolted in the year 736, and set up another calif in opposition to the reigning house of Abbas. If these months be taken doubly, or for three hundred years, then, according to Sir Isaac Newton, ‘the whole time that the califs of the Saracens reigned with a temporal dominion at Damascus and Bagdad together, was three hundred years; namely, from the year 637 to the year 936 inclusive; when their mighty empire was broken and divided into several principalities or kingdoms. So that, let these five months be taken in any possible construction, the event will still answer, and the prophecy will still be fulfilled; though the second method of interpretation and application appears much more probable than either the first or the third. And they had a king over them — By this is signified that the same person should exercise temporal as well as spiritual sovereignty over them; and the califs were their emperors, as well as the heads of their religion. The king is the same as the star or angel of the bottomless pit, whose name is Abaddon in Hebrew, and Apollyon in Greek; that is, the destroyer. Mede imagines that this is some allusion to the name of Obodas, the common name of the kings of that part of Arabia from whence Mohammed came, as Pharaoh was the common name of the kings of Egypt, and Cesar of the emperors of Rome; and such allusions are not unusual in the style of Scripture. However that be, the name agrees perfectly well with Mohammed, and the califs his successors, who were the authors of all those horrid wars and desolations, and openly taught and professed their religion was to be propagated and established by the sword.

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.
One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.
Revelation 9:12. One wo is past, &c. — This is added not only to distinguish the woes, and to mark more strongly each period, but also to suggest that some time will intervene between this first wo of the Arabian locusts and the next of the Euphratean horsemen. The similitude between the locusts and Arabians is indeed so great, that it cannot fail of striking every curious observer: and a further resemblance is noted by Mr. Daubuz, that “there had happened in the extent of this torment, a coincidence of the event with the nature of the locusts. The Saracens have made inroads into all those parts of Christendom where the natural locusts are wont to be seen, and known to do mischief, and nowhere else: and that, too, in the same proportion. Where the locusts are seldom seen, there the Saracens stayed little: where the natural locusts are often seen, there the Saracens abode most; and where they breed most, there the Saracens had their beginning and greatest power. This may be easily verified by history.”

And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,
Revelation 9:13-15. The sixth angel sounded, &c. — At the sounding of the sixth trumpet, a voice proceeded from the four horns of the golden altar, (for the scene was still in the temple,) ordering the angel of the sixth trumpet to loose the four angels which were bound in the great river Euphrates; and they were loosed accordingly. Such a voice, proceeding from the four horns of the golden altar, is a strong indication of the divine displeasure; and plainly intimates, that the sins of men must have been very great, when the altar, which was their sanctuary and protection, called aloud for vengeance. The four angels are the four sultanies, or four leaders of the Turks and Othmans. For there were four principal sultanies, or kingdoms of the Turks, bordering upon the river Euphrates: one at Bagdad, founded by Togrul Beg, or Tangrolipix, as he is more usually called, in the year 1055; another at Damascus, founded by Tagjuddaulas, or Ducas, in the year 1079; a third at Aleppo, founded by Sjarsuddaulas, or Melech, in the same year, 1079; and the fourth at Iconium, in Asia Minor, founded by Sedyduddaulus, or Cutlu Muses, or his son, in the year 1080. These four sultanies subsisted several years afterward; and the sultans were bound and restrained from extending their conquests farther than the territories and countries adjoining to the river Euphrates, primarily by the good providence of God, and secondarily by the croisades, or expeditions of the European Christians into the holy land, in the latter part of the eleventh, and in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Nay, the European Christians took several cities and countries from them, and confined them within narrower bounds. But when an end was put to the croisades, and the Christians totally abandoned their conquests in Syria and Palestine, as they did in the latter part of the thirteenth century, then the four angels on the river Euphrates were loosed. Soliman Shah, the first chief and founder of the Othman race, retreating with his three sons from Jingiz Chan and the Tartars, would have passed the river Euphrates, but was unfortunately drowned, the time of loosing the four angels being not yet come. Discouraged at this sad accident, two of his sons returned to their former habitations; but Ortogrul, the third, with his three sons, Conduz, Sarubani, and Othman, remained some time in those parts; and having obtained leave of Aladin, the sultan of Iconium, he came with four hundred of his Turks, and settled in the mountains of Armenia. From thence they began their excursions; and the other Turks associating with them, and following their standard, they gained several victories over the Tartars on one side, and over the Christians on the other. Ortogrul dying in the year 1288, Othman his son succeeded him in power and authority; and in the year 1299, as some say, with the consent of Aladin himself, he was proclaimed sultan, and founded a new empire; and the people afterward, as well as the new empire, were called by his name. For though they disclaim the name of Turks, and assume that of Othmans, yet nothing is more certain than that they are a mixed multitude, the remains of the four sultanies above mentioned, as well as the descendants particularly of the house of Othman.

In this manner, and at this time, the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men — That is, as before, the men of the Roman empire, and especially in Europe, the third part of the world. The Latin or western empire was broken to pieces under the four first trumpets; the Greek or eastern empire was cruelly hurt and tormented under the fifth trumpet; and here, under the sixth trumpet, it is to be slain and utterly destroyed. Accordingly, all Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Thrace, Macedon, Greece, and all the countries which formerly belonged to the Greek or eastern Cesars, the Othmans have conquered, and subjugated to their dominion. They first passed over into Europe in the reign of Orchan, their second emperor, and in the year 1357; they took Constantinople in the reign of Mohammed, their seventh emperor, and in the year 1453; and in time, all the remaining parts of the Greek empire shared the fate of the capital city. The last of their conquests were Candia, or the ancient Crete, in 1669, and Cameniec, in 1672. For the execution of this great work, it is said that they were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year; which will admit either of a literal or a mystical interpretation; and the former will hold good if the latter should fail. If it be taken literally, it is only expressing the same thing by different words; as peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues, are jointly used in other places; and then the meaning is, that they were prepared and ready to execute the divine commission at any time, or for any time, — any hour, or day, or month, or year, that God should appoint. If it be taken mystically, and the hour, and day, and month, and year be a prophetic hour, and day, and month, and year, then a year, (according to St. John’s, who follows herein Daniel’s computations) consisting of three hundred and sixty days, is three hundred and sixty years; and a month, consisting of thirty days, is thirty years; and a day is a year; and an hour is, in the same proportion, fifteen days: so that the whole period of the Othmans slaying the third part of men, or subduing the Christian states in the Greek or Roman empire, amounts to three hundred and ninety-one years and fifteen days. Now it is wonderfully remarkable, that the first conquest mentioned in history of the Othmans over the Christians, was in the year of the Hegira 680, and the year of Christ 1281. For Ortogrul “in that year (according to the accurate historian Saadi) crowned his victories with the conquest of the famous city of Kutahi upon the Greeks.” Compute three hundred and ninety-one years from that time, and they will terminate in the year 1672: and in that year, as it was hinted before, Mohammed the Fourth took Cameniec from the Poles, “and forty-eight towns and villages in the territory of Camenice were delivered up” to the sultan upon the treaty of peace. Whereupon Prince Cantemir hath made this memorable reflection: “This was the last victory by which any advantage accrued to the Othman state, or any city or province was annexed to the ancient bounds of the empire.” Agreeably to which observation, he hath entitled the former part of his history, Of the growth of the Othman empire, and the following part, Of the decay of the Othman empire. Other wars and slaughters, as he says, have ensued. The Turks even besieged Vienna in 1683; but this exceeding the bounds of their commission, they were defeated. Belgrade and other places may have been taken from them, and surrendered to them again; but still they have subdued no new state or potentate of Christendom now for the space of a hundred and fifty years; and in all probability they never may again, their empire appearing rather to decrease than increase. Here then the prophecy and the event agree exactly in the period of three hundred and ninety-one years; and if more accurate and authentic histories of the Othmans were brought to light, and we knew the very day wherein Kutahi was taken as certainly as we know that wherein Cameniec was taken, the like exactness might also be found in the fifteen days. But though the time be limited for the Othmans’ slaying the third part of men, yet no time is fixed for the duration of their empire; only this second wo will end when the third wo, (xi. 14,) or the destruction of the beast, shall be at hand.

Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.
And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.
And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.
Revelation 9:16-19. The number of the army of horsemen were two hundred thousand — A description is here given of the forces, and of the means and instruments by which the Othmans should effect the ruin of the eastern empire. The armies are described as very numerous, myriads of myriads. When Mohammed the Second besieged Constantinople, he had about four hundred thousand men in his army, besides a powerful fleet of thirty larger and two hundred lesser ships. They are described, too, chiefly as horsemen; and so they are described both by Ezekiel and by Daniel; (see Bishop Newton’s last dissertation upon Daniel;) and it is well known that their armies consisted chiefly of cavalry, especially before the order of Janizaries was instituted by Amurath the First. The Timariots, or horsemen, holding lands by serving in the wars, are the strength of the government; and are in all accounted between seven and eight hundred thousand fighting men. Some say they are a million; and besides these, there are Spahis and other horsemen in the emperor’s pay.

In the vision — That is, in appearance, and not in reality, they had breast- plates of fire and of hyacinth and brimstone — The colour of fire is red, of hyacinth blue, and of brimstone yellow: and this “hath a literal accomplishment; for the Othmans, from the first time of their appearance, have affected to wear such warlike apparel of scarlet, blue, and yellow.” Of the Spahis particularly, some have red, and some have yellow standards, and others red or yellow, mixed with other colours. In appearance, too, the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions — To denote their strength, courage, and fierceness; and out of their mouths issued fire, and smoke, and brimstone — A manifest allusion to great guns and gunpowder, which were invented under this trumpet, and were of such signal service to the Othmans in their wars. For by these three was the third part of men killed — By these the Othmans made such havoc and destruction in the Greek or eastern empire. Amurath the Second broke into Peloponnesus, and took several strong places by means of his artillery. But his son Mohammed, at the siege of Constantinople, employed such great guns as were never made before. One is described to have been of such a monstrous size, that it was drawn by seventy yoke of oxen, and by two thousand men. Two more discharged a stone of the weight of two talents. Others emitted a stone of the weight of half a talent. But the greatest of all discharged a ball of the weight of three talents, or about three hundred pounds; and the report of this cannon is said to have been so great, that all the country round about was shaken to the distance of forty furlongs. For forty days the wall was battered by these guns, and so many breaches were made, that the city was taken by assault, and an end put to the Grecian empire.

Moreover they had power to do hurt by their tails as well as by their mouths, their tails being like unto serpents, and having heads — In this respect they very much resemble the locusts, only the different tails are accommodated to the different creatures, the tails of scorpions to locusts, the tails of serpents, with a head at each end, to horses. By this figure it is meant, that the Turks draw after them the same poisonous trains as the Saracens; they profess and propagate the same imposture, they do hurt not only by their conquests, but also by spreading their false doctrine; and wherever they establish their dominion, there too they establish their religion. Many indeed of the Greek Church remained, and are still remaining among them; but they are subjected to a capitation-tax, which is rigorously exacted from all above fourteen years of age; are burdened besides with the most heavy and arbitrary impositions; are compelled to the most servile drudgery; are abused in their persons, and robbed of their property: but notwithstanding these and greater persecutions, some remains of the Greek Church are still preserved among them, as we may reasonably conclude, to serve some great and mysterious ends of providence.

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.
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.
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.
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:
Revelation 9:20-21. And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues — That is, the Latin Church, which pretty well escaped these calamities; yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils — Daimonia, demons, or second mediatory gods, as it hath largely been shown before, saints and angels; and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and wood — From hence it is evident, that those calamities were inflicted upon the Christians for their idolatries. As the eastern churches were first in the crime, so they were first likewise in the punishment. At first they were visited by the plague of the Saracens, but this working no change or reformation, they were again chastised by the still greater plague of the Othmans; were partly overthrown by the former, and were entirely ruined by the latter. What churches were then remaining, which were guilty of the like idolatry, but the western, or those in communion with Rome? And the western were not at all reclaimed by the ruin of the eastern, but persisted still in the worship of saints and (what is worse) the worship of images, which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk — And the world is witness to the completion of this prophecy to this day. Neither repented they of their murders — Their persecutions and inquisitions; nor of their sorceries — Their pretended miracles and revelations; nor of their fornications — Their public stews and uncleanness; nor of their thefts — Their exactions and impositions on mankind: and they are as notorious for their licentiousness and wickedness, as for their superstition and idolatry. As they therefore refused to take warning by the two former woes, the third wo, as we shall see, will fall with vengeance upon them.

Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.
Benson Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

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Revelation 8
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