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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 Tra. jan 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 exeite and direct their rage, a pretended mes. siah 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—or 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 Roinans, 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, 460,000 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 580,000; and it is said not less than 1000 of their fortresses were destroyed. Elsebius 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 that 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 famine.
In the Lam. v. 10, we read, “Qur 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 oc
casioned 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 Rome-wafting 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 favourite of the emperor. Frequent wars, scanty harvests, ill-management of public 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
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, and may expect to be made contemptible. (Matt. ii. 9.)
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, fola
lowing 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
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 Christians. 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, 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 66
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 gricvous 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
for 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.