תמונות בעמוד
PDF

Ver. 4. Another horse.] The second seal being broken, another sheet, or roll, unfolds, and another representation of a horse and rider appears; but the colour, and consequently the character, is changed.

Ib. Fire-coloured.] In the Greek, rveto, from wwe, fire. This colour is said to be compounded of the yellow-red, gayboo, mixed with the dusky, paio. ". It is applied to horses by the classical writers:

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

The angel who leads the host to war among the nations, is mounted on a horse of the same colour #. This is also the colour of the dragon, the ancient serpent, the devil, who comes wrathfully to war against the saints Š.

Ib. To take the peace of the earth, and that they should slay one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.] Our Lord established his 1eligion in peacefulness, and commissioned it to conquer, or prosper in the world, by peace ||. And yet he foretold, very remarkably, that peace should not altogether ensue. “Think not,” says he, “that I am come to “send peace on the earth; I came not to send peace, “but a sword *;” which Saint Luke, in the parallel passage f, calls “division.” In which sense also he declares that he is “come to send fire on the earth £.” Not that it was his wish or-intention, as the commentators have observed, that such direful and antichristian consequences should arise; but he foreknew such effects necessarily arising from the corrupt passions and prejudices of sinful men. Such a scene was to follow the first age of Christianity distinguished by the pure practice of the Christian virtues, when a fiery zeal, without knowledge, or at least without charity, should instigate the professors of this peaceful religion to destroy peace; and Christians, divided among themselves, should persecute and slay each other. Such a scene, it is well known, did follow. And the prophecy of the second seal, under this firecoloured horse, according with that of our Lord, in the use of the same figures, (fire, sword, take peace jrom the earth, men divided so as to kill each other,) seems plainly to point to the same period of time; a time, when the heavenly religion, which, under the first seal, had proceeded evasvaois, in white array, became so degenerate, as no longer to appear white. She assumed the angry, intolerant, persecuting hue of the fire-coloured dragon. Neglecting charity, “which is the bond of peace,” from dissentions and controversies she was hurried into tumults and wars, in which (horrid to relate 1) Christians were known to murder each other. But whence are we to date this disgraceful change 2 May we fix its -commencement from the end of the second century; when the western rulers of the church, and the wise and moderate Ire

* Plato, Timaeus, ad finem.

+ Theocriti Idyll. 15. l. 51.-This kind of colour in horses, if that which we now denominate bright or golden-bay, would be properly expressed by the term flame-coloured: but, as cive signifies fire itself, rather than the flame of fire, the word zwégos may be thought to denote a deeper tinge, somewhat like our bright chesnut. And I prefer the word fire-coloured, as agreeing best with the vengeful character which pervades this seal, and which is commonly expressed in prophetical language under the image of fire.

f IIvogos, Zech. i. 8. § Rev. xii. 3.9. 17.

| Luke ix. 55.

“send * Matt. x. 34. t Luke xii. 51. ; Luke xii, 49. nous, * Tarns signms poorly. Euseb. Hist. Eccl. lib. v. c. 24.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

naeus, were seen to interpose, and exhort the furious Bishop of Rome to cultivate Christian peace"? The fiery and intolerant character which marks this seal, was indeed somewhat visible in these partial transactions: but the hue from white to fire-colour, changed gradually. The persecuting hand of the common enemy for some time restrained this factious and uncharitable spirit within decent bounds; and although, previous to the Dioclesian persecution in 302, there were shameful divisions among the Christians, which Eusebius mentions with a becoming mixture of indig

\ nation and tenderness f, yet the change cannot be re

presented as complete (so as to produce the general and mutual slaughter, which characterises this seal,) till a later period. But, when the Roman empire became Christian ; when a Christian Emperor bore the sword;

(with which in the imagery of this seal the Christian

power seems invested ;) when, relieved from the terrors of pagan persecution, the Christians became pos

... sessed of civil power; their animosity increased.

Worldly prosperity is corruptive; and instead of those halcyon days of peace and happiness, which the Church promised to itself from the acquisition of power; history is seen to date from this period its degeneracy and corruption f. This degeneracy was

first manifested in the mutual enmities and feuds of

the Christians; which were so notorious in the fourth

. . . . ." century, that a contemporary author reports of them,

(with some hyperbole perhaps, for, he was a pagan,) that “their hatred to each other exceeded the fury “of wild beasts against men.”.” This was a great change from the times of Tertullian, in the second century, when the pagans made a very different report of Christian community: “ See,” said they, “how these Christians love each other f.” It is a change well expressed by fire-colour succeeding to white. The feuds of the Christian bishops and rulers contending for power and promotion, make a principal part of the ecclesiastical history of the fourth century t. The election of a bishop was frequently accompanied by every corrupt art of intrigue and cabal; and the factions proceeded to determine the contest by arms. Of this kind was the election of a Bishop of Rome, which, after much mutual slaughter of the Christian electors, ended with the victory of Damasus $. In the schism of the Donatists, which had its origin also in faction, and in a contest for worldly power, thousands of Christians perished by the hands of each other. The Donatists are not accused, even by their adversaries, of corrupt doctrine, nor of peculiar degeneracy in morals. If worldly ambition and party-hatred, and violence, so unchristian, had not prevailed on all sides, this disgraceful history would have been wanting, to illustrate the prophecy of the second seal ||. The Arian controversy produced similar fruits, and of much longer duration T. With process of time the evil continued to increase *, until it produced a further change from bad to worse, which will appear under the next seal. But this alteration from white to fire-coloured; from primitive purity and charity, to envious, hateful, and murderous animosity; was the first great and notorious change which took place in the character of the Christian church; and did so confessedly follow, that few writers, who treat of its gradual degeneracy have omitted to notice it. The reader was presented with a sketch of the character of Christianity under the first scal, in the words of Dr. Clarke, The same learned and accurate writer thus continues his narration; and it is surely the history of this sccond seal, although he did not intend it as such: “But an enemy soon sowed tares among this “wheat, and contentious men very early began to build “hay and stubble upon the foundation of Christ. Not “content with the simplicity and plainness of the “Gospel, which could possibly furnish no materials “ for strife and contention, vain men soon began to “mix their own uncertain opinions with the doctrine “of Christ; and had no other way to give them “weight and authority, but by endeavouring to force “ them upon the faith of others. And out of this “bramble, as Jonathan foretold the men of Shechem, “a fire proceeded which hath devoured the cedars of “Lebanon. Or, as the prophet Ezekiel expresses “himself concerning the Vine of Israel: A fire is “gone out of a rod of her branches, which hath de“voured her fruit. For, from a desire of being many “masters.; from a desire of forcing mutually our

+ Eecl. Hist. viii. c. l.

f The reader may see this proved by authorities at length at the end of the notes to ch. vii. . w

* Amm. Marcell. lib. xxii. c. 5. † Tertull. Apol. c. 39. 1 Mosheim, cent. iv.

$ Bower's Lives of the Popes, vol. i. 180. and Mosheim, i. 286. | Mosheim, i. 329, &c. ‘I See Mosheim, i. 340, and the note of his learned and judi

cious translator. - * evil

* The account of which may be seen in Mosheim's IIistory, vol. i. pages 373, &c. 400. 415. “OWn

« הקודםהמשך »