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.
The matter of the first word is contained in the twelve former verses of this chapter, declared by the [fifth Angel;] that is, some other ministers and messengers of Christ. The objects of this first word, were only those persons that had not the seal of God in their foreheads, (v. 4). The executioners of this word were principally the angel of the bottomless pit, (v. 11), a destroyer, and instrumentally his locusts (vv. 3–4). The effect of this word, was not death, but torment, (vv. 5–6) worse than death. This word was a just judgement of God upon the apostates of that time, foretold by St. Paul, (2 Thess. 1:9; and 1 Tim. 4:1–5). The head of the apostasy is the Man of Sin, here called the Son of Perdition, who came out of the [bottomless pit,] and goeth into Perdition. The angel of the [bottomless pit,] (v. 11).
[And I saw a star fall from Heaven unto the Earth etc.] This star was some very eminent Church-man, some Angel of the Church; (see Rev. 1:20). [Heaven,] that is, the state of the true visible Church, where our Lord Jesus Christ did set some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers for the work of the ministry, (Eph. 4:11–13; and 1 Cor. 12:12–28). By [Earth] we may understand here the earthly state of the false anti-Christian National Church, (or Catholic Church) nationally so called. To [fall from Heaven unto the earth,] signifies a visible apostasy from the true Church of God, and from the pure worship of God, unto a false Church, and false worship, according to the commandments of men, their superstitious and idolatrous inventions and traditions. [And to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.] By the keys of the kingdom, we are to understand that stewardly-ecclesiastical power in the Church, which our Lord Jesus Christ gave unto his Apostles and elders to rule well, and to govern in his Churches of saints according to his own institutions, laws, and ordinances, (Matthew 16:18; 1 Tim. 5:17; and Heb. 13:7–17). And by this key of the [bottomless pit,] we may understand the power, throne, and great authority, which the dragon (that old serpent called the devil, and Satan, (Rev. 12:9)) gave unto this fallen star or angel, (Rev. 13:2). And other false apostles, deceitful workers, and false teachers, (2 Pet. 2:1–3) who fell with him, or after him, and exercise coercive power over the consciences of men, under their church government. Thereby shewing himself to be God, (2 Thess. 2:3–4).
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.
Here begins the exercise of the anti-Christian papal power, by this fallen angel of the Roman Clergy or Prelatical Priesthood. As soon as he had gotten the key of [bottomless pit,] he opened it; Constantine the Great, and other Christian emperors, shut the [bottomless pit] of idolatry, but their public edicts; but now, by this apostate star, the [bottomless pit,] (that is, a hell of heresies, false doctrines, and idolatrous worship is opened, practised, and exercised by the Roman Papal Prelates and Priests, (1 Tim. 4:1–2; 2 Pet. 2:1–2). [And there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace.] By this [smoke] we may understand all corrupt doctrines, traditions of men, and all the rudiments of the world, (Col. 2:8–18). Idolaters are compared to the smoke of a chimney, (Hos. 13:2–3) year, [the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.] By the sun and the air, we are to understand all the lights that God hath ordained in the Heaven of his Church, the holy Scripture, (Ps. 43:3). Thy Word is a light to my feet, (Ps. 119:105–130). And Christ’s able ministers of the New Testament, (Matthew 5:14). These ecclesiastical lights in the firmament of the Church were darkened by the great smoke of popish superstitions that arose out of the bottomless pit of Hell.
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.
There are two sorts of [Locusts,] one is a kind of fruit good to eat, (Matthew 3:4) the other is hurtful creature, (Ex. 10:14–15). Those vermin usually swarm together, and were executioners of God’s wrath upon Egypt. (Read Deut. 28:38–42; 2 Chron. 7:13; Ps. 78:46; Joel 1:4). They leap hither and thither, are now here and then there; and they are hurtful everywhere, (Prov. 30:27; Ps. 109:23; Isa. 33:4). By these locusts, we may understand the Popish Clergy, with the swarms of Monks, Friars, Priests, Jesuits, and other men of the Pope’s holy Orders, etc. Franciscus Claudius a Friar, expounded this place of heretical teachers; also the Remists upon this text, say as much in their marginal notes. (Read 1 Tim. 4:1–3; 2 Tim. 4:3; and 2 Pet. 2:1–3.) The Apostles did prophesy of such in the latter days. [And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.] The [scorpion] is a subtle and venomous creature, which hath a flattering countenance, and a deadly sting in the tail. Such are the Roman Priests, who by feigned words, and fair speeches, deceive the hearts of the simple, (Rom. 16:18).
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.
In this verse we have the locusts’ prohibition, showing whom they might not hurt, and their permission declaring whom they might hurt; [only those men which have not the Seal of God in their foreheads.] (See the exposition of Rev. 7:2–3). [And it was commanded them,] that is, by Christ, [that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any green tree;] that is, not any growing Christians, (Hos. 14:4–8) not any green flourishing saints, (Ps. 52:8) nor any trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, (Isa. 61:3–4) no fruitful Believers, (Ps. 92:12–15). Those locusts were permitted to hurt only those men who had not the seal of God in their foreheads; and especially those men who willingly received the mark of the Beast in their foreheads, (Rev. 13:16–17).
And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months; and there torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.
This verse contains the restraint laid upon the locusts, who had permission from Christ to hurt those men which had not the seal of God in their foreheads. [That they should not kill them, but torment them five Months.] By killing them, we may understand destroying their natural life, persecuting and tormenting them to death. And the time of their tormenting them is also limited, [five months;] that is prophetical months, thirty days to a month; are one hundred and fifty prophetical days or years. The Beast had power given him by the Dragon to continue forty two months, (Rev. 13:2–5) which is one thousand two hundred and sixty prophetical days, each day for a year, (Num. 14:34 and Ezek. 4:6) so long the holy city was trodden under foot by the Gentiles; that is, the gentilizing papists, (Rev. 11:2). Now the locusts had permission to torment those men [five months] of the forty two months, a certain limited time, for to hurt them and torment them, but [not kill them].
[And their torment was as the torment of a Scorpion, when he striketh a man.] Whose sting being venomous, doth infect and venom the whole body with poison and pain. So do those Popish locusts torment the consciences of men and women with their damnable doctrines, poisoning their souls, filling them with troubles, and tormenting them with horror and fear of purgatory, and hell, without any ease or remedy. The damnable Doctrines of Priests and Jesuits, can sting and wound men’s consciences, but they cannot cure and heal a wounded conscience. When the pains of hell took hold of David, he got not peace, comfort and quietness, by worshipping of images, and praying to saints deceased; but by calling upon the name of JEHOVAH, (Ps. 116:3–5).
And in those days shall Men seek death, and shall not fine it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.
By [those days,] we are to understand the time of their torment and trouble of conscience; by the terrors of the Almighty for their sins, as Psalm 38:1–3. A wounded spirit who can bear? (Prov. 18:14). [Men shall seek death;] that is, wish and desire to die, but all in vain, and to no purpose; [for death shall flee from them;] there will be no deliverance (one way or other) out of their trouble of conscience, and torment of their hearts; no cessation of misery, no mitigation of horror and torment during their appointed time.
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 further description of the locusts; that is, the Roman Popish Clergy, and anti-Christian prelacy, in three particulars. First, [like unto horses prepared unto battle.] For their boldness, expertness, and readiness to oppose any that gain-say them, their doctrines or worship, and prepare war against their opposers. [And on their heads were as it were crowns of gold] whereby we may understand the grandeur, pomp, and kingliness of the Roman prelacy and clergy; such are the Pope’s Triple Crown, the Cardinal’s Cap, and Prelate’s Myter. [And their faces were as the faces of Men.] whereby is signified their assembleness, courtesies, visibility, and confidence. They are bare-faced, openly testifying all their damnable doctrines, altar-sacrifices, worshipping of images, etc. And they are men of arts and parts, learned men, able to say as much for themselves as sophistry, vain philosophy, and school-men, can say in the defence of their doctrines and worships. [faces like men,] that is, transforming themselves into the ministers of Christ, but are indeed the ministers of Antichrist, (2 Cor. 11:13–15).
And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.
Here followeth another description of the locusts which arose and came out of the bottomless pit. [They had hair as the hair of women.] Women’s hair is given them for an ornament, (1 Cor. 11:15). The hair of those locusts signify the external ornaments of the Roman Priests, that is their vestments, scarlet robes, and all their copes, myters, hoods, tippets, altar-coverings, pulpit embroidered clothes, of purple, scarlet, and gold, as (Rev. 17:4–6). [Their teeth were as the teeth of Lions:] biting and devouring like lions. Hereby is signified the cruel and bloody actions of those locusts, (Rev. 13:1–17).
And they had breast-plates, as it were breast-plates of iron, and the sound of their wings was as the sound of Chariots, of many Horses running to battle.
By their [breast-plates, as it were of iron,] we may understand their external defence for self-preservations, both of their persons and privileges; that is, the popish canons, their holy orders, and ecclesiastical laws, whereby those locusts were protected, as from the violence of the common people, so from the power of kings and their laws. [and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots, of many horses running to battle.] Wings signify their readiness to the work of their ministry, (as Rev. 4:8). See the Exposition of Wings there. By the resemblance of chariots and horses, we may understand what a terror they were to all sorts of people that would oppose them; as the true Church of God is said to be terrible as an army with banners, (Cant. 6:4–10) so those locusts are terrible, [as chariots and many horses running to battle.] (Rev. 13:4). Who is like unto the Beast, who is able to make war with him?
And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.
By the [tails] of the locusts, we are to understand the false prophet, (Rev. 19:19–20) that is, false teachers, (2 Pet.2:1–3. The prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail, (Isa. 9:15). Read 2 Thessalonians 2:8–11. The [stings in their tails,] signify the venomous deadly poison, that is, in their false doctrines, called the doctrines of devils, (1 Tim. 4:1–3). By which, the souls and consciences of men and women that worship the Beast or his image, are stung, pained, and poisoned to death. [And their power was to hurt men five months;] that is, only those men which had not the seal of God in their foreheads, (v. 4).
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.
By the king of the locusts, [which is the Angel of the bottomless pit,] we may understand the Pope, the Roman Pontifex, who is supreme, exercising absolute sovereignty over all the locusts, who are of various orders, dignities, and degrees, but yet are all subordinate unto that supreme head, and their king, the Pope of Rome. [Whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon;] a destroyer of the believing Jews; [but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon;] that is, a destroyer of the believing gentiles.
One woe is past, and behold, there come two woes more hereafter.
Here is the period or end of the first woe, and the dispensation of the fifth trumpet. [And behold, there come two woes more hereafter;] (as Rev 8:13). The time of this first woe was but five mystical prophetical months; that is, one hundred and fifty years. (See the exposition of the fifth and tenth verses of this chapter.)
And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before god,
The angel that sounded the second “wo” trumpet, was those faithful orthodox ministers who in that age lifted up their voice like a trumpet against popish idolatry, image worship, and other superstitions of the Roman clergy. [And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God.] This voice was the voice of Christ, who stands at the altar before God. (See the exposition of Rev. 8:3–5 that gave order and command, and direction to this sixth angel what he should do; as appears in the next verse.)
Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.
By these [four Angels,] we may understand the chief commanders of the armies of the Turkish emperor, for they consisted of four several sorts of people, that is, Arabians, Saracens, Tartars and Turks, whose four Souldans in Asia, Aleppo, Damascus, and Antioch, (as historians tell us) had their chief residence near the [river Euphrates,] and were bounded by that great river, from coming over into Europe. And now God gave them permission to pass over that great river with their armies, who destroyed the third party of the then Roman Empire, as the Turkish history, and the holy war relate unto us.
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.
The work those four commanders were appointed by God to do, was to kill the third part of men in the Roman empire, who worshipped images, especially those idolaters, who had apostatised from the true worship of God. [Which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year,] which it taken prophetically, is three hundred and ninety years, and some odd time. Or else. thereby is signified some certain time appointed of God.
And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.
The Turkish armies consist most of horsemen; therefore they are numbered [two hundred thousand thousand,] a certain number for an uncertain; their footmen are not numbered, because they were not so considerable, nor so terrible, or else exceeding many more than the horsemen, as if they were innumerable.
And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breast-plates 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.
Here we have a metaphorical and mystical description of the horsemen, and the horses. [The horsemen had breast-plates of fire, and jacinth, and brimstone.] By their [breast-plates of fire,] we may understand their bright shining armour; and by [jacinth,] is figured and set forth the jewels and riches of the Turkish camp and the commanders, who had costly jewels and pearls about them; and their embroidered rich garments were of fiery, sulphurous colour, like brimstone, whitely yellow. [The heads of the horses were as the heads of lions;] that is, very formidable and terrible, very bold and fierce. [And out of their mouths issued fire, and smoke, and brimstone;] which signifies the Turkish fiery armies, canons, muskets, pistols, etc.
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.
This may be understood literally. [By these three;] that is, [by the fire] of the Turkish canons, killing men, and burning towns in the Roman Empire; and [by the smoke;] that is, the Turkish Alchoran and Mahometan religion; [and by the brimstone which issued out of their mouths;] that is, the powder and bullets which the Turkish horsemen shot out of the mouths of their muskets, carbines, pistols, etc. [The third part of men were killed;] that is, in the Roman empire, were slain and destroyed in the European wars by the Turkish armies.
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 this verse is declared how the Turks did further mischief unto the Romans. [Their power is in their mouth, and in their tails.] The Turkish power was in their mouth; that is, their Mahometan doctrine and worship, whereby they did hurt to the souls of those Romans that turned to the Turks religion. [For their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.] Thereby, the Turks did not only kill the bodies of many apostate Romans, but did also poison many of their souls.
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:
By [the rest of the men, which were not killed by these plagues;] we may understand those Roman papists, who apostatised from the sound doctrines and pure worship of God, to popish doctrine of devils, (1 Tim. 4:1–3). Forbidding the priests to marry, and commanding the people to abstain from meats, etc. [yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, etc.] that is, they added impenitency to their heathen and hellish idolatry; of imaginary worship, called the works of their hands; because the images, crosses, crucifixes which they adore, are the work of their hands: The Roman Papist make the image of the Virgin Mary, and worship it; and the image of Christ upon a cross, and worship it: Thus the apostate papal Romans heathenize. (Read Lev. 17:7; 2 Chron. 11:15; Ps. 115:4–8.) [that they should not worship devils,] drink of the cup of devils, (1 Cor. 10:19–22) partake of the table of devils, and so sacrifice to devils, as the heathen did, (Ps. 115:4–8 and 135:15).
Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.
In this verse there are four sorts of heinous sins mentioned, which these apostates lived in without repentance; to wit, murder, sorcery, fornication, and thefts. [Neither repented they of their murders.] The murders of those apostate Romans are of two sorts; First, the Jesuits, priests, friars, and the rest of the Roman clergy, murdered the souls of them that believed their false doctrines, and practised their image-worship. Secondly, they murdered the bodies of many, because they would not worship images, crucifixes, come to mass, fall down before their host, and worship their heathen God, the consecrated wafer.
[Nor of their sorceries;] whereby we are to understand those false doctrines by which the Roman priests did bewitch the poor ignorant people, (as Gal. 3:1). And their false miracles, such as are called lying wonders, (2 Thess. 2:9–10). [Nor of their fornications;] that is, of their corporal and spiritual whoredoms. The fornication of the great Whore, and the Mother of Harlots, (Rev. 17:5) mystical Babylon. [Nor of their Thefts:] In taking and getting to the Roman Church the papal clergy, and religious houses, monasteries, nunneries, priories, etc. by indirect ways and means, such great revenues, under pretext and pretence of giving pardons, indulgences, dispensations, etc. Platina, Martinus, Unaphrius, and Bellarmine himself, have written enough, to testify, that the Roman papal clergy are guilty of these heinous sins.