The fourth trumpet having advanced a little farther, proceeded to take away entirely the light of Roman majesty in the city -of Rome, with which it had hitherto shone under the Ostrogoth kings, after the consulate of Rome had failed;- namely, from the year 452, in that Ostrogothic war, waged first by Belisarius, and then by Narses, general of Justinian, for the purpose of recovering Italy: And then the city itself, having been repeatedly taken by Totila, burnt, and a third of it demolished, deprived, moreover, of all its inhabitants, (a memorable sport of fortune!) being recovered at length by Narses, after so many deaths and so much slaughter, was thrown down -a short time after by a whirlwind and thunderbolts. Once the queen of cities, but now at length deprived of the consular power, of the authority of the senate, and of the other magistrates, with which, as stars, she had hitherto irradiated the globe, she fell from such splendour of glory into I know not what ignoble Duchy of Ravenna, over which she had formerly ruled, and was afterwards compelled (what obscurity!) to be subject to the Exarchy, and to pay tribute.
And this was that percussion of |the third part of the sun, and of the moon, and of the stars,| by which it came to pass that |a third part of the day did not shine, and likewise a third part of the night.| Where the diurnal light, which is that of the sun, is called by the name of day, and the nocturnal light of the moon and stars, by that of night. Like that in Jerem. c. xxxi. v.35, |Who giveth the sun for the light of the day, and the ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night.|
The sun shone at Rome as long as the consular dignity and the kingdom was possessed of authority over other cities and provinces. The moon and the stars shone there, as long as the ancient power of the senate, and of the other magistrates, remained. But these being all taken away, (which was done by this trumpet,) what was there but darkness, and a universal failure of light, both diurnal and nocturnal? namely, what belonged to that city, to which a third part of the light of heaven was attributed.
The image of the sun, moon, and stars, in this sense, is very frequent with the prophets. As Isaiah, c. xiii. v.10, also c. lx. v.20, where, instead of |Thy sun shall no more set, and thy moon shall not be diminished,| the Targum has, |Thy kingdom (it is addressed to Jerusalem) shall no more cease, and thy glory shall not be withdrawn.| Also, Jerem. c. xv. v.9, where of Jerusalem he says, |Her sun is set, while it is yet day,| the Targum translates it, |Their glory has departed during their lives.| And Ezek. c. xxxii. v.7, the same paraphrast turns that passage concerning Pharaoh -- |And when I shall extinguish thee, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark| -- |Tribulation shall cover thee, when I shall extinguish the splendour of the glory of thy kingdom.| The reader may transfer hither also the observations I have made above from Achmet, in order to throw light on the sixth seal. It is wonderful how they agree.