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B. W. Johnson
Vision of the Ages (1881)



The Sixth Trumpet.--The Angels of the Euphrates.--The Turks.--The Myriads of Horsemen.--
Gunpowder.--The Power of the Tails.--The Rest Who Repented Not.--Catholic
Sorceries, Murders and Thefts.

      We have found that four trumpets were separated by the interlude of the woe angel from the remaining three. We have also found that the events indicated by the first series of four trumpets were all fulfilled in the same part of the, world, viz: The western Roman Empire. The next two trumpets are blown consecutively without any intervening symbolism. We have reason to believe that they refer to events which transpired in the same portion of the earth, and as we have located the first of these, the fifth trumpet, in the East, I will anticipate that the scene of the sixth trumpet will be the East also. The first four trumpets proclaimed the march of armies that rushed to the destruction of the western Roman [172] Empire; the fifth trumpet announced the mighty Mahometan movement that so nearly subverted that portion of the Roman Empire which yet survived in the East. The sixth then, in all probability, would herald another tide of invasion which poured upon that doomed and decaying relic of former greatness. With this probability to direct us we may proceed to examine the passage which describes its work.

      And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, 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. 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 months 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; neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts. 9:13-21.

      The student who wishes the meaning of this [173] passage should carefully seek: 1. The place; 2. the time; 3. the agency employed; and, 4. the work accomplished, as indicated by the symbolism employed under the sixth trumpet. Concerning the time it will be sufficient to remark, at present, that whatever historical events are signified must be located after the Saracen movement predicted by the fifth trumpet had expended its force, or after A. D. 782. Concerning the place from whence the movement should proceed there can be no discussion, as it is pointed out without the obscurity of a figure. When the sixth angel sounded, the apostle heard a voice from the golden altar before God, commanding the sixth angel to loose the four angels, which were bound by the river Euphrates. The common version of the Scripture reads, "bound in the Euphrates," but the Greek preposition is not en but epi, which means at, upon, or by. The four angels were not bound in, but at or by the river. They were restrained by it from advancing to do the work assigned to them, until the time appointed by God for them to execute their commission. The blast of the sixth trumpet is the signal that that time of God had come, and although these angels may be utterly unconscious of the fact, the work that they advance to execute is one that is overruled and directed by the Almighty. [174] Though their purposes may be even wicked, yet they are so held in the hands of God as to become "angels" to carry out his will with regard to the inhabitants of the earth. They move at the command that issued "from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God."

      Set at liberty to move by this voice, the four angels were bound to enter upon a work of destruction that was to continue an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year. The four angels, four messengers to execute the mandates of prophecy, will represent four powers, or one power made up by a combination of four powers, or which develops into four powers, located at and held back by this great river.

      This power of the Euphrates, bound for a season, was "prepared" for a work of destruction to continue an hour, a day, a month, and a year. We have already found that, in Revelation, a day is the symbol of a year. This period would then be three hundred and sixty-five days, thirty days, one day, and an hour, or three hundred and ninety-six days, and one-twelfth of another day. This would give a period of three hundred and ninety-six years and one month, or if the year be considered three hundred and sixty-five and one-fourth [175] days long, a period three months longer.{2}

      I will now inquire if any power, following in order after the Mahometan or Saracen Empire, also aiding in the destruction of the eastern Roman Empire, may be found that will correspond to this symbolism.


      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 "wore 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. Though originally idolaters, they had accepted the Mahometan religion which they found in the countries which they had conquered in central Asia, and pretended to receive orders from the successor of Mahomet who sat upon [176] the throne at Bagdad, while really undermining his power. After being bound on the east of the Euphrates, with the stream for the western limits of their power for a period of half a century, in the year 1055, they occupied the city of Bagdad, and their leader was invested by the feeble Caliph with a commission to cross the Euphrates as his lieutenant, and to wage a religious war, in order to reduce the regions lying, to the northwest to a belief in the Koran. This appointment took place in 1057, and in that same year, 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 the Turks.

      It is thus seen that a people who have made a remarkable figure in the history of the last eight hundred years were "bound" at the Euphrates for a half century before they commenced that invasion of western Asia and Europe, which has made them known to Christendom. As yet we have no explanation of the fact that 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 [177] 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 Arslan 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 the 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.


      Before we speak of their work there is another characteristic of these powers which we must not pass by. When the four angels are loosed the apostle sees an innumerable body, of horsemen. He gives the number as two hundred thousand thousand, or, in the original, two myriads of myriads, which we may interpret as a countless multitude. The locusts also were a force of horsemen, and we have seen the Arabians rush out of the desert, destitute of [178] infantry forces, all on horseback. Were the Turks likewise an army of cavalry?

      Again Gibbon says:

      "The myriads of Turkish horse overspread a frontier of six hundred miles, from Tauris to Erzeroum, and the blood of six hundred and thirty thousand Christians was a grateful sacrifice to the Arabian prophet." Vol. V., page 512. Again, page 515. "On the report of this bold invasion, which threatened his hereditary dominions, Alp Arslan flew to the scene of action at the head of forty thousand horse." Again, on page 525. "The valiant Soliman, accompanied by his four brothers, passed the Euphrates. The Turkish camp was soon seated in the neighborhood of Kataish, in Phrygia, and his flying cavalry laid waste the country as far as the Hellespont and the Black Sea."

      These are a few of the many passages that might be quoted showing that at this period of invasion the Turks were an army of horsemen. It is also curious that the Turks counted their cavalry, not by thousands, or regiments, as is customary in European armies, but by "myriads," using the very same term that John employs to denote the numbers of these Euphratean horsemen.

      The apostle notes that these horsemen have breastplates of fire, and jacinth, and brimstone. These terms may be translated red, blue, and yellow, and I suppose, refer to the attire worn by these Turkish riders. Historians assure us that until the reorganization of the Turkish armies upon the European plan,--within the [179] present generation,--these were the prevalent colors of the Turkish uniform.

      The description of the means employed by these strange horsemen to injure and destroy their enemies is remarkable. The heads of the horses appeared to the apostle like the heads of lions, and out of these lion-like mouths went forth fire, and smoke, and brimstone, by which were slain the third part of men. The reader will bear in mind that John saw a picture of coming events and records the series as they appear to him. The head and jaws of the lion are mighty to destroy. As the lion springs upon its victim he utters a deafening roar. John says that the instruments of death were the fire, smoke, and brimstone that proceeded out of the mouth of the horses. Evidently then there is a terrific roar like that of the lion, and fire and smoke and brimstone leap forth. These last become a deadly instrument of destruction to men.

      If you were to look from a distance upon a cavalry soldier, as he charged, carbine in hand, and fired upon his enemy, the fire and smoke would seem to leap from the horse's head, the enemy would fall, and the brimstone smell of burning powder would be left behind, for I need not say that sulphur is a chief ingredient of this instrument of death. If, indeed, we [180] were to search for a symbol of the use of firearms in war it would be hard for us to find one more appropriate. If gunpowder was used in this Turkish invasion it would certainly correspond with the description.

      Gunpowder was unknown to the ancients, was never employed by the northern races that overthrow Rome, was unthought of by the Arab followers of Mahomet who attacked the Eastern Empire. Was it unknown to the Turks?

      Again we turn to Gibbon, and we learn that during the period of these Turkish wars a complete revolution took place in modes of warfare. Then, for the first time, upon an extensive scale, gunpowder was used for slaying men. We quote The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. VI., pp. 379-80, and 388-89, in which he speaks of the adoption of artillery by the Turkish Sultan who laid siege to, and took the city of Constantinople, after breaches were battered in its walls by cannon.

      Among the implements of destruction he studied with peculiar care the recent and tremendous discovery of the Latins; and his artillery surpassed whatever had yet appeared in the world. A founder of cannon, a Dane or Hungarian, who had been almost starved in the Greek service, deserted to the Moslems, and was liberally entertained by the Turkish Sultan. Mahomet was satisfied with the answer to his first question, which he eagerly pressed on the artist. "Am I able to cast a cannon capable of throwing a ball or stone of sufficient size to batter the walls of [181] Constantinople? I am not ignorant of their strength; but were they more solid than those of Babylon, I could oppose an engine of superior power: the position and management of that engine must be left to your engineers."

      The great cannon of Mahomet has been separately noticed; an important and visible object in the 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.

      It is thus seen that gunpowder was employed by the Turks in the overthrow of the Eastern Empire, and was a leading agency by which this conquest was effected.

      I now ask the attention of the reader to a very singular statement concerning this army of horsemen that John saw engaged in the work of destruction by means of fire and smoke and brimstone. That statement is that the horses had


      I will again quote the remarkable statement, "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." The fire, smoke, and brimstone vomited from their mouths explain the first part of this strange statement. Some have supposed that [182] the second part refers to the terrible desolation left behind the Turks in their destroying path and the blighting effects of their rule after they had effected a conquest. I believe, however, that the explanation is found in the fact that the tail of the horse is a badge of power on the part of Turkish officials. If the reader were to visit the Turkish armies, instead of a flag, he would see over the tents of their generals, horses' tails flung to the breeze. Every leading pasha flings out a banner of three horses' tails, inferior pashas, banners of two horses' tails, while a bey or regiment commander is only allowed one tail. The tail is then an emblem of power; the number of tails indicates the degree of power. There is "power in horses' tails."{3} These strange banners flung to the breeze have signified to many a subject people that a power blasting as a Simoon and venomous as the serpent, had been sent to curse them by its baleful presence. The provinces of the Turkish Empire are under the rule of the pashas, and it is especially fitting that the symbol of their power should be likened to a serpent. Never [183] was there a more deadly, poisonous, wasting, desolating rule than that of these horse-tail chieftains, who lorded it over the subjected provinces of the ancient Roman Empire. In order that the reader may see its terrible brutality I will mention two occurrences of this century, the desolation of the Greek island of Scio in 1822, and the Bulgarian massacres a few years ago. Scio, a beautiful island of the Archipelago, had, at that date, a population of one hundred and four thousand, mostly Greeks and professing Christians. Being suspected of sympathy with the uprising in Greece, the Turkish pasha turned his myrmidons upon them, and in two months butchered twenty-three thousand and sold forty-seven thousand more into slavery. In a few weeks the Christian population was reduced by these measures and by flight to two thousand persons. The horrible atrocities in Bulgaria, which led to the late Turko-Russian war, are too recent occurrences to require a description in these pages. These two examples are fair illustrations of what has occurred in many instances under the rule of the pashas. Rapacious, licentious, bloodthirsty, brutal, educated by their religion to believe that all unbelievers are fit subjects for spoil, or death, each pasha an absolute lord in his own province, their rule has [184] been one of the most grinding and intolerable ever borne by man.

      Thus far there is a remarkable correspondence. I have identified the Turkish invaders of the Empire, by the following remarkable facts: The Turks were "bound" by the river Euphrates for sixty years. As there were four angels bound, the Turkish power was divided into four kingdoms under the four sons of Malek Shah. They were an army of horsemen. The colors of blue, and red, and yellow were seen in the Turkish uniform. Fire, and smoke, and brimstone, or gunpowder, were instruments of death, and first employed upon a large scale in the Turkish wars. The tail of the horse was an emblem of power among the Turks. It remains for us to examine the time indicated by the prophet as that in which they would accomplish their work of destruction, and to see whether it corresponds with the facts of Turkish history.


      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 [185] 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 the [186] particularity of its language. The four angels were prepared for a work that was to last an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, or as we have found, a period of three hundred and ninety-six years and four months. Early in January 1057, the Turks marched out of Bagdad on their career of conquest. On the 29th day of May, 1453, they stormed Constantinople and ended the Empire, or three hundred and ninety-six years and four months, lacking a few days, from the time when they entered upon their work and crossed the Euphrates! Who can note this exact correspondence of the time with that predicted by the prophet and yet remain in doubt?

      It is affirmed that during this period they should slay by means of fire, smoke, and brimstone a third part of men. It has been shown (page 136) that, for a thousand years extending to the time when the Turks overthrew the Eastern or Greek Empire, the races of men were spoken of as under three divisions; that the Goths and Vandals subverted one "third part" of the world then known, or the Western Roman Empire, described prophetically under the first four trumpets; that the Saracens conquered a second "third part," known from that time as the empire of the Caliphs, or Saracens, and that the third "third part" was the Eastern Empire, generally called from the language [187] which was spoken,--the Greek. This Empire, the remnant of the old Roman Empire, embracing one of the three divisions of men as described by writers in that day, was destroyed and passed out of existence forever through means of the artillery of the Turks.


      The nation that "died" of these plagues, or was overthrown, was the Greek Empire. It was composed of a people who called themselves Christians, but had apostatized from the true faith. "The rest," that is, others who partook of the apostasy, but were not overthrown by the Turks, "repented not." There can be no doubt that this refers to the Catholic world. All central and western Europe was then under the dominion of the Roman superstition and was never subjected to destruction by the Turkish power. Of these, "the rest of the men, who were not killed of the, plagues," it is affirmed that they remained impenitent. The character of their misdeeds is delineated. They were demon and idol worshipers. They engaged in murders, sorceries, fornication and thefts. Had the Christendom, assailed by the Arabian and Turkish armies, apostatized and relapsed into such heathenish sins? I will ask [188] in succession questions concerning the various sins alleged, and answer them in detail.

      1. Did they worship demons? A demon, as all critics concede, is the spirit of a departed man. The saint worship of the great Apostasy is demon worship. For the evidence of its existence at this period we quote Gibbon, Vol. V., p. 2:

      The first introduction of a symbolic worship was in the veneration of the cross, and of relics. The saints and martyrs, whose intercession was implored, were seated on the right hand of God; but the gracious and often supernatural favors, which, in the popular belief, were showered round their tomb, conveyed an unquestionable sanction of the devout pilgrims, who visited, and touched, and kissed these lifeless remains, the memorials of their merits and sufferings. But a memorial, more interesting than the skull or the sandals of a departed worthy, is the faithful copy of his person and features, delineated by the arts of painting or sculpture.

      2. Did they worship images, or engage in idolatry? Upon page 37, Vol. V., will be found a record of the, proceedings of the second General Council of Nice, held in 787, from which we quote the following passage:

      They unanimously pronounced, that the worship of images is agreeable to Scripture and reason, to the fathers and councils of the Church; but they hesitate whether that worship be relative or direct; whether the Godhead, and the figure of Christ, be entitled to the same adoration.

      3. Did they engage in murders? I need only speak of the crusade against the Albigenses, [189] those Christians who rejected the abominations of Rome, begun in 1250, in which it is supposed that one million persons were put to death. The history of the great Apostasy is a history of blood.

      4. Did they engage in sorcery? What is a sorcerer? One who deceives by tricks. Simon, the Sorcerer, passed himself off on the Samaritans as a being of supernatural power by means of his magical arts. The Papacy in every age has palmed off upon the credulous pretended miracles. Statues of the Virgin weep; the blood of a saint liquefies; children see apparitions; miraculous cures are performed. Hardly a month passes but the press records some pretended miracle. True, when examined, they are found to be the tricks of monks and nuns, but the superstitious masses receive them with unquestioning faith.

      5. The next count against the survivors is Fornication. Is this true of the pretended Christians who survived the scourge of the sixth trumpet? Ah! who shall tell of the libertinism of the priests of Rome! Where the confessional robs woman of her native modesty, virtue is likely to become an empty name. I call attention to well-known and acknowledged facts. No priest can remain within the Romish church if he marry. No priest is unfitted [190] for his work by keeping concubines.{4} I quote once more from Gibbon. He records the meeting of a great Catholic council, recognized as one of the General Councils of the church, and of the disposal of a question that came before it. We quote from Vol. V., p. 38:

      "I shall only notice the judgment of the bishops on the comparative merit of image-worship and morality. A monk had concluded a truce with the dæmon of fornication, on condition of interrupting his daily prayers to a picture that hung in his cell. His scruples prompted him to consult the abbot. 'Rather than abstain from adoring Christ and his Mother in their holy images, it would be better for you,' replied the casuist, 'to enter every brothel, and visit every prostitute, in the city.'"

      6. The last charge made against the impenitent people is thefts. Every dollar that a spurious religion has extorted from the people by false pretences is a theft. We need no further proof that the disasters of 1453 did not produce penitence, than the fact that in 1516 the Dominican friar, Tetzel, was peddling Catholic indulgences to commit sin through the cities of Germany. Nor is further proof required than the knowledge that every confessional is a means of extorting money from the masses, through the delusion that thus they may purchase the pardon of sins. [191]

      {2} The term here used for year is not Kairos, the prophetic year of twelve months, or 360 days, but eniautos, the regular solar year of 365 ¼ days. Hence the period named in the text would be 365 ¼ plus 30 plus 1 plus 1-12 equals 396 4-12 days, or in years, 306 years and four months.
      {3} The origin of this singular badge of power among the Turks is said to be that in one of their early battles their banner was captured by a charge of the enemy, whereupon their leader out off the tail of his horse, hoisted in on a spear, and called on all to follow that banner into the conflict. Under this banner they fought and won this battle.
      {4} It is taught authoritatively in the works of canonized Romish Saints, works accepted as of canonical authority, that if a priest marry he shall be excommunicated. but that if he keeps a concubine he shall only be fined.--Works of St. Liguori, Doc. Mor. p. 444.

[VOTA 172-191]

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B. W. Johnson
Vision of the Ages (1881)