loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates; not the four angels in Revelation 7:1; they stood upon the four corners of the earth; these were in, or at the river Euphrates; they held the four winds, that they should not blow, or restrained the savage nations, that they should not hurt; these are bound themselves, that they might not do mischief; nor are angels by nature at all intended; not evil angels, though they are bound in chains of darkness, and are reserved to judgment, they are admitted indeed to rove about in the air and earth, but are under the restraints of the power and providence of God; nor good angels, who are at the divine beck, and go in and out, and are detained and sent forth according to the pleasure of God, and are sometimes employed in killing great numbers of men; see 2 Samuel 24:15; but men are here meant, as appears from Revelation 9:16, and particularly the Turks, as most interpreters agree; who dwelt on the other side the river Euphrates, and were let loose, or suffered to pass over that river into the eastern empire, to ruin and destroy it, as they did: these are called "angels", because of their might and force, their power and strength, with which they bore all before them; and for their great swiftness and rapidity in the victories and conquests which the Ottoman family obtained; who, from very small beginnings, raised themselves, in a very little time, to a large monarchy, and founded the Turkish empire, which, from them, is to this day called the Ottoman empire. Ottoman the First subdued great part of Bithynia, and fixed the seat of his kingdom at Prusa; or rather his son Urchanes, who conquered Mysia, Lycaonia, Phrygia, Caria, and the rest, to the Hellespont, and the Euxine sea. Amurath his son took Callipolis, Hadrianople, and the adjacent provinces. Bajazet added to the empire Thessalia, Macedonia, Phocis, Attica, Mysia, and Bulgaria; and Mahomet the Second took Constantinople itself, and thereby put an end to the eastern empire; and all this was done in a very few years: it is said of this last, that he conquered two empires, and twelve kingdoms, and above two hundred cities (a). And these Ottoman Turks may be called angels, or messengers, because they were the messengers and executioners of God's wrath upon the eastern empire: they are signified by "four angels", either, as some think, because of the four names of Saracens, Turks, Tartars, and Arabians, though all Mahometans, under which they went, before they were united under one emperor, Ottoman; or rather because of the four principalities, or governments, into which they were divided, while they were upon the banks of, or near to the river Euphrates; the seat of one being at Iconium, another at Bagdad, a third at Aleppo, and a fourth at Damascus; and chiefly because, when they passed the river Euphrates, they had four princes at the head of them, Soliman Shak, and his three sons. Soliman himself, as he passed, not knowing the fords of the river, was drowned in it; at which his sons being so affrighted, two of them, Sankur Zengi, and Gun Tugdi, returned to Persia, but the third, Ortogrules, with his three sons (which made "four" again) Condoz, Sarubani, and Othman, or Ottoman, continued, to whom Aladdin, sultan of Iconium, gave them some land among the mountains of Armenia (b); and from hence, by degrees, as before observed, a large empire was raised. Now these are said to be "bound in the great river Euphrates"; which river is to be literally understood, and is the same with that which is so called in Genesis 2:14, and ran through Mesopotamia and Chaldea, and was the boundary of the Roman empire; so it was fixed by Hadrian (c); and beyond which the Turks, before this time did rarely go, and if they did, retired again: for till this time, as the historian says (d), the Turks had Asia, , "within Euphrates", and the Arabians Coelo-Syria and Phoenicia. Now here these were bound; they were not suffered to pass the river, or to make any inroads of any consequence further into the Roman empire; they were restrained, by the decree of God, from proceeding any further till this time; which, as he fixes a decreed place for the sea, that its waves should come thus far, and no further, so he restrains princes from their enterprises, and settles the bounds of empires, as long as he pleases; and they were kept back by the power of God from pouring in upon the empire, and pouring forth their fury upon it, who causes the wrath of men to praise him, and restrains the remainder of it; and they were also prevented from coming any further, as yet, through the internal divisions among themselves, and by the victories of the Christians in Palestine.
(a) Petav. Rationem. Temp. par. 1. l. 9. c. 7. (b) Pocock, Supplem. Hist. Dynast. Abulpharaji, p. 41, 42. (c) Rufi Fest. Brev. p. 368. Eutrop. Hist. Roman. l. 8. p. 502. (d) Nicephor. Gregor. Hist. Roman, l. 2. p. 29.