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Sabbath days upon the prophecies, to show that the events then taking place before their eyes relative to Jesus Christ and his evangelical kingdom, were but the fulfilling of ancient prophecies of these events.
Ver. 2. 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.
A white horse is an emblem of victory and triumph. We have in this figure a striking view of the power of God in destroying his enemies, and promoting his cause, which should distinguish that early period. This rider on the white horse was, no doubt, an emblem of our Lord Jesus Christ, marching forth as the Captain of our salvation. "The Lord is a man of war. "The Lord shall utter his voice before his army; for his camp is very great." His crown is an emblem of his official glorification; and his bow, of the weapons of his indignation. He will give victory and salvation to his followers. His going forth, conquering and to conquer, assures us of the glorious triumphs of his gospel, in the ruin of its contending foes, and the salvation of its friends; in the multitudes of its early converts, and their stability in the order of the gospel. Jesus Christ had predicted these very triumphs to take place at this time, when he said to his disciples, "Verily, I say unto you, there be some standing here who shall not taste of death till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom." This event, as it took place upon that generation, was the destruction of the Jewish nation, forty years after Christ, and the attendant far more extensive propagation of the gospel. These things did indeed take place upon that generation as a mystical coming of Christ, and this twofold event may be viewed as a lively fulfilment of the figure in our text under the first seal. The destruction of Jerusalem by Titus* the Roman, was an event
* Should it be objected, that the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jews was probably past when the text was written; it may be answered, that this, if it were a fact, would form no objection to the exposition given. It is a notable fact, in this book, that when a series of events is to be exhibit ed, the commencement of which is already past when the figure of the series is given, the account goes back to the commencement of the series, though it were then past. It will be shown, that such liberty is repeatedly taken in this book of prophecies. The reason is obvious: it is to give the whole series of events, the commencement of which is already past. No objection can lie against this, which is of any avail.
which would not be overlooked in the commencement of the seals, where things of great interest to the church were to be given, from early in the Christian era. Christ had predicted his coming in the destruction of the Jews, and in his remarkable propagation of his gospel, in Matt. xxiv., Mark xiii., and Luke xxi. And it is most natural to expect, that the series of events in the seals would open with these. The figures in our text to denote the going forth of Christ as the Captain of our salvation, for the united designs of judgment and of mercy, are most appropriate, and are well known in the the sacred oracles. As Ps. xlv. 3-6: "Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty: and in thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth, and meekness, and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things. Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king's enemies, whereby the people fall under thee." Hab. iii. 3: "God came from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. Before him went the pestilence; and burning coals went forth at his feet. Thou didst ride upon thy horses and thy chariots of salvation. Thy bow was made quite naked. The mountains saw thee, and were troubled; the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high!"
In Rev. xix. 11-14, we find Jesus Christ riding forth upon his white horse of victory and salvation against Antichrist, at the battle of that great day of God Almighty, as will be shown on the passage. That passage and event furnish us with an argument in favor of the exposition given of our text. In the text, Christ rides for the destruction of the infidel persecuting Jews (the type of Antichrist), and for the subsequent propagation of his gospel. And, in the similar figure in Rev. xix., he rides forth against Antichrist himself, to sweep the field of his enemies, and prepare the way for his own millennial kingdom. The two great events, -of ruin to the enemies of God, and of salvation to his friends, are usually found in close union through the prophetic Scriptures. Our blessed Lord was thus anointed (Isa.lxi. 1, 2)" to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord; and the day of vengeance of our God." The figure in our text accordingly combines things upon this scale;-ruin to the hostile Jews; and enlargement to the Christian church. Christ rides forth "conquering and to conquer!" The king of Zion has conquered his foes, is conquering, and will conquer them. And vain and mad are the hopes of his
enemies for success against him. As well might stubble, fully dry, dream of vanquishing a glowing furnace, by flinging itself upon it. God will "go through, and will burn them together!" "What do ye imagine against the Lord!" "Our God is a consuming fire." The Jews found him to be thus in the destruction of Jerusalem, and of their commonwealth. They were destroyed as being antichristian; and their destruction was a lively type of the final destruction of the great Antichrist in the last days before the Millennium. Hence the similarity between the event in our text, as type, and that in Rev. xix. as antitype, as will be seen. ᎯᏓᏓ ye saints of the Lord, rejoice, even in these perilous times of the last days! Your Captain of salvation is with you, conquering and to conquer. He cheers the souls of his followers with the kind address, "Fear not! it is I; be not afraid." "I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee."
Ver. 3. And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.
4. And there went out another horse that was red and power was given 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.
The seal of the second leaf being broken, and the contents presented, another emblem of the gospel ministry says, "Come and see!" Each minister of Christ should be able to answer the question, "Watchman, what of the night?" And, exhibiting the signs of the times, he should in some fit manner say, "Come and see!" "Come, behold the works of the Lord." This red horse and his rider, -commissioned to take peace from the earth, and holding a great sword,furnish an emblem of another terrible scene of slaughter in the empire, after the destruction of Jerusalem and the commonwealth of the Jews, last noted. This event of the second seal took place in the reign of the emperors Trajan and Adrian, before the middle of the second century. The Jews had greatly multiplied in the empire; and the Romans, by their idolatrous worship of Jupiter Capitolinus, exasperated them to rage and open rebellion. And further to excite and direct their rage, a pretended Messiah arose at this time, by the name of Barcocab (importing a son of a star), giving out that he was the star that
was to arise, as predicted by Balaam. How signal was this judgment upon the Jews. They had wilfully rejected the true star of Bethlehem, miraculously demonstrated among them; and now they were given up to follow an ignis fatuus, a glow-worm,-simply because he was wicked enough to say, he was the star to arise! Miserable, deluded Jews! They must now be visited with another tremendous judgment, in union with the Romans, who also had aided in the death of the Lord of glory. The Jews, in Egypt and Cyprus, led by the vile Barcocab, are asserted to have slain with vast cruelty, four hundred and sixty thousand of the people of those Roman provinces! This excited against them the vengeance of the empire; and of the Jews there fell not less than five hundred and eighty thousand; and it is said not less than one thousand of their fortresses were destroyed. Eusebius says, upon the events of the times, "The doctrines and church of Christ daily increased; but the calamities of the Jews were aggravated with new miseries."
It is striking to reflect, that the persecutors of Christ and of his people, were thus led to be each other's executioners. We have here, then, an event fully equal to the emblems in this seal,-a horse red indeed; and its rider wielding a great sword, and having power to take peace from the earth, and that the enemies of the gospel should kill one another.
Ver. 5. 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.
6. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts 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.
On the opening of the third leaf, a third emblem of the ambassadors of Christ says, "Come and see!" This testimony to ministerial faithfulness must still be given. Ministers must never sleep on their posts. If they become, as the prophet expresses it, "Dumb dogs, that cannot bark, sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber!" God will make them " contemptible, as false teachers. This black horse seems an emblem of deep affliction, and especially of fam
ine. In the Lam. v. 10, we read, “Our skin is black, like an oven, because of the terrible famine!" This sense of the figure is confirmed by the pair of balances in the hand of the rider, and by the declaration in the midst of the four living creatures, emblems of the gospel ministry-"A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see that thou hurt not the oil and the wine." It is here ascertained, that the price of a day's work must be given for the usual allowance of food for a day! And this little pittance must be weighed with great exactness! Those balances, and all that is said, betoken famine. Ezek. iv. 16. "Son of man, behold I will break the staff of bread in Jerusalem, and 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 astonished one with another, and consume away for their iniquity."
The church of Christ, during the time of the seals of judgment on pagan Rome, weltered under ten successive bloody persecutions from the pagan emperors. In the time of the fourth persecution, the tremendous famine predicted in this seal took place, under the reign of the Antonines. After the horrid mutual slaughters of the Jews and Romans under the second seal, the famine of the third seal commenced, in the course of the second century. Tertullian testifies of the event, that a scarcity occurred in every city, aggravated with such rains as seemed to threaten a second deluge. This scarcity occasioned great tumult in Rome, insomuch that the emperor, Antoninus Pius, was attempted to be stoned. And he found himself obliged to open his own treasures to supply the hunger of his subjects. And this judgment continued in the succeeding reign of Antoninus the philosopher. The river Tiber overflowing deluged much of the city of Romewafting on its surface people, cattle, and the various ruins of the country, as we find stated by Eachard. Earthquakes succeeded; the conflagrations of cities, and an infection of the atmosphere. This corrupted the land with infinite numbers of insects, which devoured what little of the fruits of the earth remained; "and (says Capitolinus) produced the most grievous famine." This famine continued in the reign of Commodus; and such was the desperation of the people of Rome, that they raised a sedition, and put to death Cleander, the favorite of the emperor. Frequent wars, scanty harvests, ill-management of public