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charge not to harm or to hurt, and the threatening of death to those who should kill them, correspond with that in the verse before us. The appointed time during which they who knew their God, were to be tried that they might be purified and made white, corresponds with the prophecying in sackcloth of the anointed ones and the witnesses of the Lord. But, whatever mortal suffering they might endure, that which was precious in the sight of heaven, the oil and the wine, were not to be hurt. They may slay me, said Paul, but they cannot hurt me. In a natural sense, they might be slain ; in a spiritual sense, they were not to be hurt. Their persecutions, trials, and afflictions, could only tend to perfect their faith. As from the treading of the wine-press the wine is not hurt, but flows more freely, though the lees be wrung out, and comes more pure from the hands of the refiner; or as the oil, instead of being destroyed, exudes before the heat of the sun or of a fire, or yields to the strong compression of the substance which contains it, so persecution would but purify the people of the Lord, who keep the testimony of Jesus, whatever they may suffer. As his, and in that character as descriptive of their spiritual state, they are not to be hurt. Though injured, in a human sense, their blood would be avenged. And they are precious in the sight of the Lord, as are the oil and the wine among the children of men. And of them he says, touch not mine anointed ones, and do my prophets,—my witnesses who prophecy,—no harm. See thou touch not the oil and the wine.
At the opening of each of the first four seals, one of the four living creatures, one by one successively, said unto John, come and see. They were in the .midst of the throne, and round about the throne; and they rested not, day nor night, from giving glory unto God. Religion was their office and
their charge. And each, in his order, manifested a new form of it on the earth. But, after the third said unto John, Come and see, and when he had looked and seen the black horse and him that sat on it, with a yoke in his hand, the prophet saw no more, nor was aụght farther shown him by the spiritual being, but he heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures. While popery reigned, the whole world was affected by its darkness; it kept the word of God from the nations; it strove to hinder every man from reading or hearing in his own tongue the wonderful works of God, and tried thus to reverse and abrogate the blessed efficacy of the first miraculous effusion of the Holy Spirit. It was connected too with every other form of religion, as the voice came from the midst of the four spirits, that call on the prophet to see each in its own form. It was the corruption of Christianity; not another religion ; but the apostasy from the faith: Mahometanism was long its scourge ; and it was the immediate precursor as it prepared the way of the other form that had yet to appear, and by which some of its last plagues would finally be inflicted.
The third living creature that called unto John, as the Lamb opened the third seal, and that showed the papacy to his immediate view, had a face as a man. . And in the religion typified under the seal appropriated to him, a man, a living man, magnified himself above all, assumed the prerogative of God, claimed to be a God on earth, opposed and exalted himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped ; so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God; and to this hour, when he is enthroned, even the cardinals bow down in adoration before the MAN OF SIN, under whose influence and rule the religion of Jesus has been transformed into blackness, and a spiritual yoke of bondage has been long imposed upon the world, which occupies not less prominent a place than the imposture of Mahomet in the history of delusion.
And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say,
Come and And I looked and beheld a pale horse : and his name that sat on him was death ; and hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over a fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
Christianity arose white in its native purity; it went forth conquering, error fell before it, paganism was destroyed; and Christ has yet to conquer:Another religion, red with blood and propagated by the sword, afterwards arose, and now, after having long taken peace from the earth, its deluded votaries would seem to be entering on their last warfare, in killing one another. We may come, and see; Mahometanism needs not to be named. Darkness
as all know-long brooded over christendom. And a religion, the same in name as the Christian, but no more like unto its heavenly purity, simplicity, and truth, than that which is black is like unto that which is white, prevailed for a long period, and was accompanied by a heavy yoke, till it has recently
been superseded by different principles in the minds of men. And the spiritual state of man puts on a new aspect, and that is the paleness of death.
Jesus, in appealing to the children of men as beings endowed with reason, asked, why, even of yourselves, judge ye not what is right? successor of Peter" asked no such question at the blinded votaries of Rome. The darkness of superstition could not finally withstand the light of reason; and men at length reclaimed the exercise of private judgment, the inalienable right of every rational creature. But the proneness of man to error was exemplified anew. From superstition the descent was easy to infidelity. And the blackness of darkness was changed into the lividness of death. And if Christianity, Mahometanism, and popery have heretofore been seen holding their divided, however different, sway over the minds of men, not less marked than these, we may now come and see infidelity. John saw but the figure; we are the witnesses of the fact. Modern sceptical philosophy, falsely so called, occupies the last space, in the view of the hostile forms by which Christianity has been assaulted. And the world need not be ignorant of the significancy of the symbol. And the effect of the vision has been already felt, in revolutions and convulsions such as were scarcely ever witnessed before; and the slaughter, of millions, it is to be feared, is the beginning, not the end, of that work of death and destruction, which, even on earth, infidelity can do.
In modern times, unlike to any that went before them, all forms of religion have been abandoned and abjured. It was a new thing on the earth that a nation became infidel. The Sabbath was desecrated and displaced. Superstition was overthrown, but no altar was erected to the living God. Religion, the life of the soul, was extinct; and nothing but a
death-like form could designate its state. Men had no hope of heaven, no fear of hell, no faith in God, no thought of retribution; but like spiritual desperadoes, defying God to the uttermost, and making a mockery of the judgment to come, they engraved on the entrance to the catacombs, as if a chisel in the hand of man could uncreate or annihilate the spirits of all flesh, “that death is an eternal sleep.” The paleness of death came over the spirits of men. The death of the soul was their only doctrine. And so absolutely lost was all feeing of religion, as characterising the times ; so perfectly could death alone denote and designate the spiritual state of man, that frenzied mortals, the council of a great nation, which led the van of the infidel hosts, first decreed that there was not, and afterwards, to complete the blasphemy, that there was, a God.
There was no more spiritual life, in a religious sense, in the souls of men, when faith in God was renounced, and when deceitful lusts reigned uncontrolled and rioted within them, than there is human life in the body, when it has passed into its state of corruption, and knows no life but what is to be found in a mass of worms. There is an existence after its own kind, but it is not the man that lives.His name was death ;-and hell, which he denied, or rather hades, death in a natural sense, or the separate state of the dead, followed with him. There is a natural union between infidelity and death. If the soul have no life, no separate being or after-existence, the life of man is of no more worth, and no more to be regarded, than that of any other brute-beast made to be taken and destroyed. And never was there a recklessness of life, nor a work of human and mutual slaughter, like unto that of the reign of terror, when death kept his court where infidelity had its throne.