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displeasure; and such numerous and costly sacrifices never were offered to appease the anger of the gods as in the times of the Antonines. The crafty priesthood alleged, that the extensive footing which Christianity had obtained in the empire was the only cause of their displeasure; and, in the heat of their blind and furious zeal, they urged the rulers and the populace to throw down the churches, to destroy the sacred books, and to harass and distress the Christians.-The friends of Christianity admitted the fact, that a superior being was displeased, but they assigned a different reason for his displeasure than their persecutors were inclined to admit. Tertullian, in one of his apologies, laid open the true cause of the quarrel, and told the governor of Carthage, that it was not because Christianity was received, but because it was rejected, after the best means of information respecting its true nature and design had been afforded; and also because its friends had been persecuted and destroyed. He also reminded him of the fact, that ever since such formidable opposition had been made to the cause of the Christians, the fields had been scorched with heat in one season, and wasted and deluged by tempests and heavy rains in another. *—They who contemn the bread of life may, to use the language of the apologist, have no harvests to carry home; and they, who exert themselves to root out that religion which has brought to hand all those blessings which are of a spiritual kind, may justly be punished by the want of temporal subsistence.

4th, What God has determined to perform the highest authority will not be able to prevent. The emperor and senate of Rome might enact, that the cultivation of the vine should be laid aside in Italy, and they might employ all the means in their power to enforce their decrees; but their measures were nugatory, when, more than a hundred years before, a voice had been heard from the throne in the heavens, saying, “A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny ; and see thou hurt not the wine and the oil.'

* Tert. ad Scap. cap. 3,

150

LECTURE XLIII.

FOURTH SEAL.

Rev. vi. 7, 8. And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard

the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse ; and his name that

sat on him was Death, and hell followed with him : and power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

These verses contain the history of the fourth seal, in which, as in the preceding, one of the four living creatures invites the prophet to come and see. He is called the fourth beast, and is described in chap. iv. 7, as having the appearance of a flying eagle. This bird, like all carnivorous fowls, is seldom satisfied with food ; peculiar rapacity of disposition, characterizes the eagle. Hence, this symbol has been supposed to intimate something very unfavourable in the character of the public ministers of religion; as if, in the period to which the prophecy refers, they would be insatiable in their desires ; greedy, covetous, and avaricious men.

It will be difficult, however, to establish this interpretation of the symbol from any thing that appears in their history. They do not seem to have been more greedy of filthy lucre, or more rapacious and exorbitant in their demands, than their predecessors, or those who followed them. The lust of power began to shew itself much earlier in the church than the desire of wealth. This last was a prevailing evil in the dark ages; but, long before the clouds of ignorance and superstition had covered the face of the church, the lust of domination had manifested itself in a great variety of ways. It does not appear, that either the one or the other of these evils, or any other thing unfavourable to the character of the ministry of this seal, is intended by the figure. Here they are represented as standing in their proper place, and engaged in discharging the duties of their office : with the same degree of zeal and faithfulness as those that had preceded them, they gave the invitation to the prophet. And it cannot be supposed, that, at one and the same time, they would be represented as acting the most dutiful párt to the church, and yet wholly occupied about their own things. The same figure never can symbolize contradictions; the mistake has originated from inattention to the true character of the symbol. The allusion in chap. iv. is not to any thing peculiar to the temper, but to the flight, of the bird. The fourth beast was like an eagle upon the wing, one soaring in the clouds, a flying eagle.

This bird is remarkable for the rapidity of his motion, and the towering height to which he can mount up in the air. The figure, therefore, may be intended to intimate something peculiarly raised and elevated in the devotional feelings and affections of the ministry of this seal. They were placed in circumstances that were extremely perilous; death and the grave were continually before them; and where could their affections centre but in heaven?

It was the fault of the ministry of the second seal, that they were too forward to suffer, rather than that they were fretful and impatient under bad treatment. And though it is impossible for persons to be too spiritual, any more than to be too patient and gentle, there may nevertheless be a misapplication of both principles. Heroism and patience become presumption and fool-hardiness, when persons rush upon dangers where they have no call ; and that sort of spirituality ought to be called by the name of mysticism, or enthusiasm, which would either put a spiritual gloss and interpretation upon every thing, or influence to a state of absolute indifference about the body and all material objects. Now it was certainly the fault of the ministry of this age, that, under the influence of a mistaken appréhension of what was really spiritual, they attempted a nicety and refinement in their speculations, which cannot be justified; and that they also recommended such austerities and mortifications to their hearers, as seemed to imply a total dis. regard of the body. In this age, the Bible began to be treated as 'an allegory; the simplest historical facts were commented upon 'as if they had been parables; and too often the greatest mysteries were attempted to be explained by the secret dogmas of a false philosophy. Hence, the origin of the systems both of scholastic and mystic theology.

The bistory of this seal is contained in ver. 8, in which we may notice the following things. First, the colour of the horse. He had a pale, livid, death-like appearance. I looked, and behold a pale horse. The word properly signifies that sort of colour which grass assumes when it begins to decay. There is no colour so death-like, as it is the hue which the body of man takes when it ceases to be animated, and before symptoms of putridity begin to manifest themselves. Under the former seal, the inhabitants of the earth were black with famine, and oppressed with grief; under this seal, their calamities were greatly increased'; these were so affecting, that they rendered the sufferers pale as death. When we consider the colour of the horse, and the name and character of the rider, we cannot be at any loss to perceive, that this prophecy is intended of dispensations which would be remarkably fátal to human life.

No horse was ever mounted by a rider of a more appropriate name

or character; His name that sat on him was Death. The ordinary hieroglyphic of death is a skeleton leaning upon the pole of a scythe : but here the emblem is more descriptive ; it is a representation of death mounted upon a horse, that his work might be performed with extraordinary despatch, and to a much greater extent than in any of the calamitous scenes formerly described. And when death is the rider, it will be impossible, by any celerity of motion, to get out of his reach,

or by any powers of resistance to set his shafts at defiance. This horse is fleeter than the wind; and the arm of this warrior so powerful, that no human being can resist its force.

To complete the picture, the rider of this horse is represent-. ed as followed by a very characteristic and terrible page, or footman; and hell followed him. Here the invisible state is symbolized by a page, who was ready to execute the orders of his master; or rather by a monster which followed close at the heels of death, in order to swallow up and devour every one whom the shafts of death might kill. Bolder imagery can hardly be conceived, nor could any description have been better fitted to impress the mind with the idea of the distressing scenes of the period of this seal.

The word translated Hell is usually taken to denote the invisible state, without being restricted in its application either to the condition of the damned, or to that of the blessed. In this general application we must understand the word here; for it would be unjust, as well as uncharitable, to suppose, that all those multitudes, who, under this seal, fell by the sword, or were destroyed by famine, pestilence, or beasts of prey, perished eternally. In this extensive carnage, doubtless many of the saints were sufferers, none of whom couid eternally perish. The term, therefore, must be understood of the state of the dead, whatever might be the condition of any of them before God the judge of all. It is intended to intimate that, in this period, the mortality would be so great, that the mouth of the grave would appear to be continually open. The pale horse and his rider would convert every country through which they travelled into an extensive burying-ground, or appear to leave only devastation and mourning behind them, at every step of their progress.

A very extensive commission was given to these destroyers of the human race ; Power was given them over the fourth part of the earth. The term earth, we have formerly seen, is the symbolical name of the Roman empire ; but, as no particular district or province more than another is alluded to by the ex

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