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On the opening of the second seal, an hieroglyphical representation of a most significant nature presented itself to the eyes of the apostle : "There went out another horse, red, (or fire"coloured) and it was given to him that sat "thereon to take peace from the earth, and that "they should kill one another; and there was given "unto him a great sword.” *

Fire and a sword are both emblems of discord or dissension, as we may learn from our Lord's expressions in Luke xii. 49. and Matthew x. 34. 36. In the former of these passages our Saviour says, "I am come to send fire on the earth, and "what will I if it be already kindled." In the passage last mentioned his words are, "Think not "that I am come to send peace on earth; I "came not to send peace, but a sword. For I "am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, "and the daughter in law, against her mother in "law; and a man's foes shall be they of his own "household."

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From the whole of this passage of Matthew, and also by comparing the quotation from Luke with the context, it will be sufficiently evident to the attentive reader, that the fire and sword, which our Lord came to send on the earth, signify those fierce animosities and disputes, which his gospel, peaceable and heavenly as it is in itself, would, through the wickedness of mankind, and their opposition to the

* Rev. vi. 4.

truth, be instrumental in kindling. The fiery colour of the second horse, when joined to the description of the office of his rider, and of the dreadful weapon with which he was armed, indicate to us, that after the first and purest age of Christianity, the spirit of love and peace should recede from the visible church, and be succeeded by a spirit of discord, of dissension and controversy, a fierce and fiery zeal, instigating Christians to destroy one another.

The ecclesiastical history of the fourth and fifth centuries, sufficiently evinces, that such a change did take place, in the general features of character, which distinguished the Christian church. The schism of the Donatists and the Arian controversy, filled the Roman empire, with the most dreadful and destructive animosities. So much had the Christians of that age imbibed this spirit, that even the disputes occasioned by the election of a bishop in the see of Rome became, in the latter part of the fourth century, the source of a dangerous schism, and a civil war in the city of Rome, which was carried on with the utmost barbarity and fury, and produced the most cruel massacres and desolations.*

The historian of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, in summing up the history of the ecclesiastical divisions between the years 312 and 361, uses the following words: "The simple nar"rative of the intestine divisions which distracted "the peace and dishonoured the triumph of the "church, will confirm the remark of a pagan histo"rian, and justify the complaint of a venerable bishop. The experience of Ammianus had con

Mosheim, Cent. IV. part ii. chap. 2.

"vinced him, that the enmity of the Christians "towards each other surpassed the fury of savage "beasts against man; and Gregory Nazianzen "most pathetically laments that the kingdom of "heaven was converted by discord into the image of "chaos, of a nocturnal tempest, and of hell itself."*

In how striking a manner does the foregoing description mark the fulfilment of the vision of the second seal! and what a strong proof is here afforded of the depravity and wickedness of human nature, that the pure and heavenly doctrine of the gospel, should be so perverted, within the short space of three centuries, as to become the occasion of such enormities!


On the opening of the third seal the beloved apostle beheld "a black horse, and he that sat on "him having a yoke (yo) in his hand: And I "heard a voice in the midst of the four living "creatures say, a chænix of wheat for a penny, and "three chænices of barley for a penny, and see "thou injure not the wine and the oil."†

To Archdeacon Woodhouse belongs the merit of having pointed out, the erroneousness of the translation of the word uyos, in our authorised version. The proper and primary meaning of this word is, as the Archdeacon justly remarks, "a yoke," and it is only in a borrowed or secondary sense that it can be taken to signify "a balance." ‡ The black colour of the horse under this seal is

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Woodhouse on the Apocalypse, p. 143-4. See also Parkhurst's Greek Lexicon, on the word Zuyos.

emblematical of darkness and ignorance.


yoke in the hand of his rider, is a symbol denoting the imposition of an oppressive burthen of rites, ceremonies, and human ordinances on the disciples of Christ, and the teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. The word guys is frequently used in this sense in the New Testament. In reference to the attempt made to impose the observance of the law of Moses on the Gentile converts, we find the Apostle Peter, in Acts xv. 10. thus expressing himself: "Why tempt ye God to put a yoke on the necks of the disciples, which neither 66 our fathers nor we were able to bear?" St. Paul also exhorts the Galatians, v. 1: "Stand fast there"fore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us "free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of "bondage:" meaning by this yoke, as is plain from the context, the imposition of the rite of circumcision and observance of the Mosaical law.

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The chænix of wheat was a measure containing as much as to supply a slender allowance for the daily food of a man; and the denarius, or penny, was the daily pay of a labouring man. But as the labouring man has to provide himself with many other things besides bread, it must be accounted a period of great scarcity when his whole daily wages are required to purchase a slender portion of food. Sixteen or twenty chanices of wheat were sold for the denarius, or penny, in plentiful times; and when only one chænix could be had for that price, there must have been a great scarcity, or rather a famine. The voice from the midst of the

* See Archdeacon Woodhouse in loco, from whom the whole of this exposition is adopted.

living creatures in this seal, that a chænix of wheat should be had for a penny, and three chænices of barley for a penny, is therefore indicative of severe scarcity or famine; and as the prophecies of the seals relate not to temporal, but to spiritual things, the famine which is here predicted is doubtless a famine or scarcity of the word of God, such as is mentioned in the book of Samuel: "And the "word of the Lord was precious (or rare) in those

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days; there was no open vision :"* and by the prophet Amos, "Behold the days come, saith the "Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land; "not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but "of hearing the words of the Lord : And they shall "wander from sea to sea, and from the north even "to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the "word of the Lord, and shall not find it."†

But the voice adds these remarkable words: "See "thou hurt not the wine and the oil." By wine and oil, we are probably to understand, those comforting and sanctifying influences of the Spirit of God, which are imparted only to true believers, while the word and ordinances, are dispensed to all, within the pale of the visible church, whether they be nominal professors or real disciples. The prohibition to injure the wine and oil signifies, therefore, that even in the midst of the spiritual famine of the word and ordinances of God, which should peculiarly distinguish the period of this seal, those who truly feared God, should still have an abundant share of the comforting, and sanctifying, and illuminating influences of the Holy Ghost, to support

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