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stores, and various disasters, produced the long and deadly famines of those days, and fulfilled the judgments of this seal, in the second century.
Ver. 7. And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.
8. 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.
The contents of the fourth leaf were in turn presented. The fourth ministerial emblem calls the attention of all within hearing, to "Come and see." Thus all the emblems of the ambassadors of Christ, in turn, call for attention to the signs of the times. No one can be exempt from this duty. And those who from popular views or slothfulness, undertake to exempt themselves, do it at their peril. This leaf presents a pale horse,—an emblem of mortality, with one by the name of Death seated upon him; and an emblem of hell, the place of departed sinners, following him. Death and hell to the wicked are nearly allied. The former delivers over to the latter. "The rich man died, and was buried; and in hell he lifted up his eyes being in torment. Death upon his pale horse, in this seal, has his. commission from God to kill a fourth part of men with some of the four usual means of destruction-the sword, famine, pestilence, and beasts of prey! And soon after the opening of the third century, in the midst of fiery persecutions of the church, a new series of divine judgments upon the empire commenced, answering precisely to this hieroglyphic. Wars, foreign and domestic, raged; thirty competitors laid claim to the imperial crown at once. Twenty actually reigned in the space of sixty years, from Caracalla, A. D. 211, to Aurelian, A. D. 270. Most of these met with violent deaths. And the Persians and northern nations hence gained no small advantage against the empire. Valerian was taken captive by Sapores, king of Persia, and treated with much severity till his death. These wars, with civil contentions, failed not to produce famine; which unseasonable weather rendered severe. These calamities were charged upon the persecuted Chris
tians. But Cyprian boldly testified, that they were divinely sent according to the sacred predictions, and were inflicted, not because the Christians had rejected the idolatries of Rome, as the enemies pretended; but because the Romans refused the worship of the true God.
Death (meaning pestilence) was numbered among the means of mortality in this seal. And this was fulfilled. Zonaras and Lipsius (mentioned in Mede) inform, that a pestilence from Ethiopia raged for fifteen years together through the provinces of Rome, to their tremendous depopulation. Zonaras says, "Gallus the emperor was very severe to the Christians; many being cut off by persecution." Then (after noting the invasions of the Persians in Armenia; and almost innumerable hordes of Scythians falling upon Italy, Macedonia, Thessaly, and Greece; and hosts from the Palus Mæotis laying waste many provinces) he says; "the plague spread itself through the whole east and west; destroying the inhabitants of many cities, and ravaging for fifteen years." Zosimus declares the same; and says, that " so great a destruction of men had never before taken place. Eutropius also assures us, that in the reign of the emperors Gallus and Volusian, "the times were memorable for pestilence and grievous distempers! And the invasions of wild beasts, at that period, were tremendous. An author in Bishop Newton informs, that five hundred wolves entered at once into a city, where the emperor Maximin the Younger then was. And we are assured, that lions and tigers made war upon the inhabitants of different parts of the empire. God thus visited persecuting Rome, under this seal, with his four noted judgments; as in Ezek. xiv. 27; "For thus saith the Lord God, how much more when I send my sore judgments; the sword; and the famine; and the noisome beast; and the pestilence, to cut off man and beast?"
Ver. 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 they held :
10. 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 that dwell on the earth?
11. 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.
The four living creatures, emblems of the gospel ministry, had all in turn called for attention, on the unfolding of a new scene. This therefore is not now repeated; but was well understood. Nine bloody persecutions had taken place previous to this in the pagan Roman empire (that under Nero, Domitian, Adrian, the Antonines at two periods, that under Maximin, that under Decius, that under Gallus, that under Volusian, and the ninth by Valerian). Thousands innumerable had been thus called to seal their
testimony with their blood. One more tremendous pagan persecution was now pending; the tenth and last, under Dioclesian which was to continue ten years. Then the pagan beast was to receive a wound in the head, and die for a long course of centuries; as will be seen under the sixth seal.
In this state of things, the fifth seal is opened. Here the souls (psuchas, lives, meaning the blood of the martyrs), under the altars, where they had been sacrificed, is noted, in figure, as crying to God for vengeance. This seems to be in allusion to the blood of the first martyr Abel. "The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground." The blood of the millions of martyrs shed in pagan Rome, was thus calling for justice on that wicked empire! The inquiry is made by this blood, How long vindictive justice should be delayed? The reply informs, that it must be deferred yet for a time, until more of their brethren (as though spoken to the souls of these martyrs), about to suffer as they had done, should be thus united with them. Their memories, in the mean time, should be blessed; while their souls should be peculiarly exalted in glory. Which things were denoted by white robes (emblems of victory and triumph) being given to every one of them!
The history of these times gives the best comment upon this passage. When the nine persecutions in the empire had taken place, as has been noted, another furious one was still pending;-that under the emperor Dioclesian, which was of ten years' continuance. As this was approaching, the saints would need the consolation furnished in our text. The events of this seal furnish an implicit prediction of the revolution in the Roman empire, which
took place after the tenth persecution, which was then just at the door. In this (which will be given under the next seal), God took signal vengeance on the pagan emperors, and their supporters. God would in a degree avenge the blood of the martyrs on them who shed it, according to the cry in our text. He would make, on that generation, inquisitions for blood in kind remembrance of his slaughtered children: and would do it upon a greater scale than in any of the antecedent seals. Great judgments had already been inflicted on the Roman persecutors, as has been shown. But these were so small, compared with what should then take place, that the martyrs were in our text represented as feeling themselves to be unavenged. "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not avenge?" This seems but a note preparatory to what should soon follow. And, as that is expressed in figures which are calculated to receive more than one fulfilment (as may be shown), the fifth seal may be viewed as a kind of awful preparatory hint of all the signal inquisitions for blood which God would institute before his millennial kingdom; while yet it had a primary allusion to events then soon to be accomplished.
Ver. 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 moon became as blood;
13. 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 wind.
14. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
15. 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 mountains;
16. 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 Lamb:
17. For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
This scene prefigured the revolution in the Roman empire (which took place in the fourth century) from paganism to Christianity, under the Christian emperor Constantine. We have here an avenging of the blood of the martyrs, indeed; and given in language borrowed from the great judgment day, at the end of the world! I will give a concise history of the scene to which it primarily alluded. About the year 320, soon after the tenth most bloody persecution in the Roman empire, under the emperor Dioclesian, Constantine, upon the death of his father Constantius, came to the imperial throne. Galerius, who had succeeded Dioclesian, was emperor of one part of the western branch of the empire. And he was inclined still to carry on the Dioclesian persecution. But he was smitten with an incurable disease; as also with a consciousness that it was from an angry God for his persecutions of the Christians. He hence, by a public edict, put an end to the persecution in his part of the empire, and desired the Christians to pray for his restoration to health! But he soon died! "I will make thine enemies come bending unto thee!" Maxentius had got himself declared emperor in his stead; and a large faction followed him. Constantine embraced the Christian religion, and formed a determination to vindicate it. He accordingly marched an army against Maxentius; who met him with an army of 188,000 men. But, in a great battle, Maxentius was defeated; and Constantine became sole emperor of the west. In the eastern wing of the empire, Maximin and Licinius were emperors. The former made war upon the latter, but was defeated with the loss of his army. Maximin, upon this his defeat, put to death many of his pagan priests and soothsayers as impostors, and false flatterers. Soon after, as he was meditating another battle with Licinius, he was divinely smitten with incurable torments, and blindness, and died in despair,-confessing the guilt of his hostility to the people of God! Licinius was now the only emperor of the east, as Constantine was of the west. The former was disposed yet to carry on the persecution of the Christians. A war soon broke out between him and Constantine, in which Licinius was utterly defeated, and was forced to flee. Again returning, he renewed the contest; but was again defeated with the loss of 100,000 men, and himself taken prisoner. Soon after, for an attempt upon the life of Constantine, he was put to death. Constantine became now the sole emperor of the whole empire, and