on Revelation 8 :8
A great mountain burning with fire - Supposed to signify the powerful nations which invaded the Roman empire. Mountain, in prophetic language, signifies a kingdom; Jeremiah 51:25, Jeremiah 51:27, Jeremiah 51:30, Jeremiah 51:58. Great disorders, especially when kingdoms are moved by hostile invasions, are represented by mountains being cast into the midst of the sea, Psalm 46:2. Seas and collections of waters mean peoples, as is shown in this book, Revelation 17:15. Therefore, great commotions in kingdoms and among their inhabitants may be here intended, but to whom, where, and when these happened, or are to happen, we know not.
The third part of the sea became blood - Another allusion to the Egyptian plagues, Exodus 7:20, Exodus 7:21. Third part is a rabbinism, expressing a considerable number. "When Rabbi Akiba prayed, wept, rent his garments, put of his shoes, and sat in the dust, the world was struck with a curse; and then the third part of the olives, the third part of the wheat, and the third part of the barley, was smitten "Rab. Mardochaeus, in Notitia Karaeorum, p. 102.
on Revelation 8 :8
And the second angel sounded - Compare the notes on Revelation 8:2-7. This, according to the interpretation proposed above, refers to the second of the four great events which contributed to the downfall of the Roman empire. It will be proper in this case, as in the former, to inquire into the literal meaning of the symbol, and then whether there was any event that corresponded with it.
And as it were a great mountain - A mountain is a natural symbol of strength, and hence becomes a symbol of a strong and powerful kingdom; for mountains arc not only places of strength in themselves, but they anciently answered the purposes of fortified places, and were the seats of power. Hence, they are properly symbols of strong nations. "The stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth," Daniel 2:35. Compare Zechariah 4:7; Jeremiah 51:25. We naturally, then, apply this part of the symbol to some strong and mighty nation - not a nation, necessarily, that issued from a mountainous region but a nation that in strength resembled a mountain.
Burning with fire - A mountain in a blaze; that is, with all its woods on fire, or, more probably, a volcanic mountain. There would perhaps be no more sublime image than such a mountain lifted suddenly from its base and thrown into the sea. One of the sublimest parts of the Paradise Lost is that where the poet represents the angels in the great battle in heaven as lifting the mountains - tearing them from their base - and hurling them on the foe:
"From their foundations heaving to and fro,
They plucked the seated hills, with all their load,
Rocks, waters, woods, and by the shaggy tops
Uplifting, bore them in their hands," etc.
The poet, however, has not, as John has, represented a volcano borne along and cast into the sea. The symbol employed here would denote some fiery, impetuous, destructive power. If used to denote a nation, it would be a nation that was, as it were, burning with the desire of conquest - impetuous, and fierce, and fiery in its assaults - and consuming all in its way.
Cast into the sea - The image is very sublime; the scene, should such an event occur, would be awfully grand. As to the fulfillment of this, or the thing that was intended to be represented by it, there cannot be any material doubt. It is not to be understood literally, of course; and the natural application is to some nation, or army, that has a resemblance in some respects to such a blazing mountain, and the effect of whose march would be like casting such a mountain into the ocean. We naturally look for agitation and commotion, and particularly in reference to the sea, or to some maritime coasts. It is undoubtedly required in the application of this, that we should find its fulfillment in some country lying beyond the sea, or in some seacoast or maritime country, or in reference to commerce.
And the third part of the sea became blood - Resembled blood; became as red as blood. The figure here is, that as such a blazing mountain cast into the sea would, by its reflection on the waters, seem to tinge them with red, so there would be something corresponding with this in what was referred to by the symbol. It would be fulfilled if there was a fierce maritime warfare, and if in some desperate naval engagement the sea should be tinged with blood.
on Revelation 8 :8
8:8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea - By the sea, particularly as it is here opposed to the earth, we may understand the west, or Europe; and chiefly the middle parts of it, the vast Roman empire. A mountain here seems to signify a great force and multitude of people. Jer 51:25; so this may point at the irruption of the barbarous nations into the Roman empire. The warlike Goths broke in upon it about the year 250: and from that time the irruption of one nation after another never ceased till the very form of the Roman empire, and all but the name, was lost. The fire may mean the fire of war, and the rage of those savage nations. And the third part of the sea became blood - This need not imply, that just a third part of the Romans was slain; but it is certain an inconceivable deal of blood was shed in all these invasions.