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ber; and that among those nations whither they would be scattered, they would find no ease, neither should the sole of their foot have rest,' Deut. xxviii. 25–65. They certainly merited these terrible judgments, after they had imbrued their hands in the blood of the Messiah. But as the cup of their iniquities had not been filled up even with this aggravated crime, they were sparrd till they manifested such a spirit of intolerance against his followers as would not suffer them to live. It was then, and not till then, that they were subjected to the evils we have mentioned.-- Only a short time before these judgments began to be inflicted upon the Jews, the Romans, under the authority of an imperial edict, had commenced the work of persecution ; and thus the oppressors of the church came to be the destroyers of one another. Never did the Romans en: gage in a more hopeless contest, than when they began to per: sécute and murder the saints. The armies of the church might appear to have neither swords nor shields, nor any sort of weapon that could be of the smallest advantage in the day of war ; to the haughty legions of Rome they might appear to be like bullocks for the slaughter, rather than squadrons of troops that were brought upon the field to contend for victory, But when these legions were marched against the Christians, they were brought into contact with a new enemy, with whose mudes of warfare they were totally unacquainted. With this enemy they could have no rational hope of victory; they might calculate upon one disaster on the back of another, till their military glory was completely tarnished, and the pride of Ros man greatness had passed away. Succeeding events have justified these presumptions. The blood of the inartyrs was the seed of the church ; but that blood was a powerful corrosive to the tree of the Roman state. Soon after the imperial ediet was passed, the blossoms of this tree began to go up as dust, its branches to wither, and its roots to quit their hold of the soil.
Rev. vi. 5, 6. And when he had opened the third seal, I heard
the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse ; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances
in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A mea
sure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.
When this seal was opened, John was addressed by that living creature which is the third in the order formerly mentioned. His general appearance resembled the human figure; for he had the face of a man. And as reason is the grand distinctive characteristic of human beings, this dignified symbol might be intended to intimate, that the ministry under this seal would be remarkable for their intellectual endowments. The principal features which adorned the character of the ministry of the former seals belonged to the spirit or disposition by which they were actuated. Under the first, they possessed the bold.
. ness and fortitude of lions; and under the second, the patience and submission of oxen : but, in the period of the third seal, they were distinguished chiefly by their intellectual attainments; they possessed a liberal portion of the gifts and endowments of a well-informed mind. And it may be justly questioned, if in any age between the ascension of Christ and the period of the Reformation from Popery, the ministers of the Christian church were more remarkable for strength of intellect and literary attainments than in the period of the third seal
With the exception of the apostle Paul, the beloved physician Luke, and a few others, the ministry of the first seal were men of no education, Acts iv. 13; those that succeeded them were equally destitute of scientific and literary attainments. But the church did not suffer any loss by the supposed rude and uncultivated state of the minds of her public teachers; they were liberally provided for in another way. By the extraordinary gifts with which they were endowed, they could speak to their fellow-mortals upon the things which belonged to their peace, with far greater ease and eloquence than if they had been brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, and their minds had been enriched with all the attainments of classical scholars.-In the period of the third seal, miraculous gifts were less necessary, and, therefore, were not dispensed in the same profusion. Christianity then ceased to be a novelty; it had been propagated through all the provinces of the empire; and wherever it was introduced, some miracle had been wrought to shew that it was worthy of being received. People also had had sufficient time to examine its pretensions, and see whether its claims for reception were not sufficiently established. To have continued the gifts of miracles in the same profusion as when it was first promulgated, would have been something like an useless waste of wonders. Accordingly, instead of miracles, the tongue and the pen of the apologist were now employed for the illustration and defence of Christianity.
Hitherto the greatest part of the opposition had been managed by the hand of violence. As the apostles and most of their successors were known to be unlearned men, those who were proud of their literary acquisitions looked upon them with contempt, and treated their doctrines as the senseless jargon of barbarians. But when they began to perceive, that not only the vulgar superstition of every country was giving way before the influence of Christianity, but that their own opinions and theories were controverted and opposed, they took the alarm; and hence all the sophistry and science of this age were employed against the religion of Christ. When hosts of philosophers began to attack the system of Christianity, it was necessary that some other mode of defence should be adopted, than when the friends of that system had nothing but mere sufferings to endure. When it was attacked by argument, it was necessary to shew that it could be defended in the same way. Accordingly, in the period of this seal, every branch of human literature that might be subservient to the elucidation or defence of the truth was carefully studied. The celebrated Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Quadratus, and many others who were distinguished by their erudition, flourished in this age. Some of their writings are still extant, and continue to be admired, both for the elegance of their diction, and the force of argument with which they defend the cause of Christ against Jews and infidels.
In the history of this seal we are informed of two things in general; first, of what the prophet now saw; and, secondly, of what he heard.
When the roll which lay between the third and fourth seals was taken off, he beheld, and lo a black horse. White, we have seen, is the emblem of victory and gladness; and black, being the opposite of white, must be the symbol of disaster and grief. The prophecy seems to refer to a period that would be very calamitous ; a season in which many persons would be clothed in mourning, and feel the anguish of the most pungent and bitter grief.
Like the two former, this horse was mounted by a rider : One sat on him. He did not go at random ; for events, whether favourable or adverse, have each of them their particular direction. Shall there be evil in the city, and the Lord hath not done it ?' Amos iii. 6.-The riders of the former horses appeared with the accoutrements of war; the one was armed with a bow, and the other with a great sword. But the rider of the horse of the third seal had nothing warlike in his appearance. He seemed to be a judge, or a merchant, rather than a warrior, for he had a pair of balances in his hand. Hence we may infer, that the calamitous scenes of this seal were not to be the immediate consequences of war, but were to spring from some other cause.
The word translated balance, according to its primary acceptation, signifies a yoke, and is generally so rendered in the New Testament. But, as this instrument of husbandry not only binds the oxen together, but compels them to perform equal shares of labour in the field, the word which signifies a yoke was, by an easy accommodation, used to denote a balance. This secondary meaning is the only one that can be admitted here. Not to mention the incongruity of the figure, were we to suppose that a yoke is intended, as this instrument constitutes no part of the furniture of a horse, nor is any of the implements by which humàn labour is performed, it is difficult to conceive how any ordinary rider could be represented as holding it with the same facility as a whip or rod in his hand. If we adopt the secondary meaning, as in the version before us, the emblem will appear to be natural, and will admit of a very easy interpretation.
The use of a balance is, to ascertain the weight or just proportion of the articles of commerce. In many cases, it would be impossible to do justice between the buyer and the seller, without the intervention of a pair of scales; hence, in all ages and in all countries, justice has been symbolized by a balance. It is also the hieroglyphic of famine. In this sense the figure is generally used in Scripture, Ezek. iv. 16. And, when we consider both the colour of the horse, and the enormous price of the articles of subsistence, it is natural to suppose, that this balance is intended to symbolize a state of famine, or some condition of society which borders upon that calamity. But whether it is a famine of the bread and water of life, or of those things only that are necessary for the subsistence of the body, the history of the period to which the prophecy refers will afford the best means of ascertaining.
We are next informed of the things which John heard, as in verse 6. When he was contemplating the horse and the rider, he heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts. As the