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VI. 1.-And I saw when the Lamb opened one of
the seals; and I heard as it were the noise of
thunder, one* of the four living creatures saying, 2 Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white
horse ; and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him; and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
Second Stage of the Manifestation of the Mystery.
Christianity not meeting with that reception by the Jews and the Romans, which a religion, attested by so many signs and wonders among Jews and Gentiles, was entitled to, the divine judgments are sent against both. Think not, said our Lord, that I am come to send peace on the earth : I came not to send peace but a sword. I make peace and create evil. I the Lord do all these things. Isa. xlv. 7. In the wars of the Jews with the Romans begun by Nero and ended by Titus, 1,357,660 of the former were slain, of whom 1,110,000, perished in the siege of Jerusalem. The king sent forth his armies and destroyed those murderers, and burnt up their city. In the reigns of Trajan and Adrian there were horrid wars and slaughters : among others the Jews of Cyrene slay 220,000 Greeks and Romans; in Egypt, and Cyprus 240,000 more; and in the rebellion of Barchochab, the false Messiah, 580,000 men were slain by the sword. A.D. 64–138. 3 And when he had opened the second seal, I heard
the second living creature say, Come and see.
* The Creation is here represented as interested in the propagation of the gospel. “ For the earnest expectation of the creation (xtisaws) waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.” Rom. viii. 19. See p. 163.
4 And there went out another horse that was red :
and power 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.
Third Stage of the Manifestation of the Mystery. The Romans are not yet brought to recognise the Lamb that sitteth on the throne, by the calamities of the sword which are sent by Him among them, nor adopt his holy religion contained in the book. He now commands famine to be sent among them. They shall eat bread by weight, and with care; and they shall drink water by measure and with astonishment: that they may want bread and water, and be astonied one with another, and consume away for their iniquity. Ezek. iv. 16, 17. Accordingly in consequence of the scarcity in the Roman Empire during the reign of the Septimian family, corn, wine, and oil were carefully stored up and distributed by a certain rate or allowance to the Roman people; and as one of their own prophets would have told them, Care was black,“ Post equitem sedet atra Cura." A.D. 138-235.
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5 And when he had opened the third seal, I heard
the third living creature 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. 6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four
living creatures say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.
Fourth Stage of the Manifestation of the Mystery.
Neither sword, nor famine, calling the generality of men off to look to that Redeemer who died for them, an accumulation of evils is now sent among them, sword, and famine, and pestilence, and destruction by wild beasts. Christianity has not yet made that progress in the Roman Empire which a divine religion demands, viz. that it should be the basis of all human institutions: it is not yet even tolerated; the saints suffer persecution ; and accordingly the attendants of this period of the progress of the divine religion we find to be the following : the wars, murders, mutinies of soldiers, invasions of foreign armies, rebellions of subjects, deaths of princes during the reign of the cruel Maximin, and several succeeding reigns—twenty emperors die in the space of fifty years either in war or murdered by their own soldiers or subjects in the reign of Probus, a great famine throughout all the world-an extensive and grievous pestilence for fifteen years throughout all the Roman provinces during the reigns of Gallus and Volusian-a pestilence in the reign of Gallienus in which 5000 men die in one day—a pestilence in the reign of Claudius five hundred wolves together enter into a city deserted by its inhabitants. A.D. 235 to A.D. 284.
7 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard
the voice of the fourth living creature say, Come 8 and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse;
and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hades* followed with him: And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with the sword, and with hunger, and with pestilence, and with the beasts of the earth.
• By Death and Hades is here meant the indiscriminate carrying off of bad and good.
Fifth Stage of the Manifestation of the Mystery.
The sword, famine, pestilence and destruction by wild beasts, not being able to awaken the gross perception of the heathen world to a sense of the signs of the times, they bring the measure of their wickedness to the full by the last Pagan persecution of the Christians, which lasts from A.D. 302 to 312, in which the very being of our holy religion was threatened. “ How long ?” said Isaiah ; “ Lord wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel ?" said the apostles; “ how long?" say the martyrs; and“ how long ?” have said the church in all ages. The answer is, Then shall the end be, when the mystery of God is finished, when the last scattering of the power of the holy people is accomplished at the last grand struggle of the witnesses at the battle of Armageddon. Nevertheless they in the mean while who die in the Lord, shall be always blessed, and have rest to their souls till the resurrection.
9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw
under the altar the souls of them that were slain
for the word of God, and for the testimony which 10 they held: and they cried with a loud voice,
saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost
thou not judge and avenge our blood on them 11 that dwell on the earth ? And white robes were
given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow-servants also, and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
Sixth Stage of the Manifestation of the Mystery. What neither sword, nor famine, nor pestilence, nor the rapacity of wild beasts could effect, the Christian blood of ten persecutions could; and in this sixth stage of the difficult parturition of Christianity, the Imperial Pontiff, the Pagan hierarchy and its heads, and the whole Pagan religion fall before the at-length recognised Lamb of God. They see the sign of the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; and all the tribes of the Empire mourn. Maximian, Galerius, Maximin, Maxentius, Licinius, and all the adherents of the Pagan idolatry, and persecutors of the Christians are defeated by Constantine: of whom Galerius, Maximin, and Licinius make public confession of their guilt, and recall their decrees and edicts against the Christians. A.D. 312. 12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal,
and, lo, there was a great earthquake ; and the
sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the 13 moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven
fell unto the earth, even as a fig-tree casteth her
untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty 14 wind : and the heaven departed as a scroll when
it is rolled together; and every mountain and 15 island were moved out of their places : and the
kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every freeman, hid
themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the 16 mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks,
Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that
sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the 17 Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come;
and who shall be able to stand ?