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Jesus to his disciples, “freely give.” But when dark clouds of ignorance, denoted by the colour of the black horse, began to spread over the face of the Christian world, and ambitious and corrupt teachers could advance their worldly purposes, by “bringing “ the disciples under the yoke” of superstitious observances, the knowledge and practice of genuine religion became scarce. Astonishing are the instances produced by historians, of the extreme ignorance in the professors of Christianity, throughout the middle ages.
Yet, during the long progress of these dark times, the prophetical command from the throne has been wonderfully fulfilled. There has always been a mode, rate supply of spiritual food. The grand saving doctrine of Christianity, an eternal life of happiness, given to sinful man, upon his faith and repentance, through the satisfaction of his Redeemer, has been taught in all these ages. And that invaluable storehouse and repository of divine knowledge, of spiritual wine and oil, the Holy Bible, the word of God, has been accessible to some persons in all times since this injunction' was delivered.'. Through all the ignorant, fanatical, factious, and corrupt hands, by which this sacred treasure has been delivered down to us, it has passed, in the main, uninjured. The corruptions of it, even for the base purposes of party zeal, and worldly domination, have been miraculously few. And such as it hath come down to our times, it is likely to be delivered to posterity, by the useful art of printing. Thus hath the prophetical injunction from the throne been wonderfully fulfilled, through a dark period of long continuance, and of great difficulty and danger :--The oil and wine have not been injured.
The opening of the fourth Seal.
CHIAP. vi. 7-8.
7 Kai TE VOLTE 7 And when he opened 17 And when he had
την σφραγίδα την the fourth seal, I opened the fourth seal, τειάρτην, ,
heard the fourth li- I heard the voice of το τετάρια ζώα ving-creature saying,
the fourth beast say, λέγοντος" "Egy 8 “come;" And [I be- 8. Come, and see. And 8 [Kai sidoy) xide, held] and lo! a pale I looked, and behold,
ίππω» χλωρός, και livid - green horse ! a pale horse ; and his ο καθήμενος επάνω
and he that sate upon name that sat on him αυτά, όνομα αυτό και him! his name
was Death, and hell Oávalaxy • Qons
Death ; and Hell fol- followed with him: ήχολέθει με αυτά . lowed with him. And and power was given και εδόθη αυτώ έξω
power was given unto unto them, over the σία επι το τέταρίου him over the fourth fourth part of the της γης, αποκλείναι part of the earth, to
earth to kill with έν ρομφαία, και εν slay by sword, and by sword, and with λιμή, και ένα θανάτου, famine, and by pes
hunger, and with και υπό των θηρίων tilence, and under the death, and with the Tns yns.
beasts of the earth. beasts of the earth.
Ver. 8. A pale livid-green horse.] Xawos, in the common trauslation rendered by the adjective pale, is used in the Greek Scriptures to express the colour of grassy-green ; which, though beautiful in the clothing of the trees and fields, is very unseemly, disgusting, and even horrible, when it appears upon flesh; it is there the livid colour of corruption. I have therefore translated it with this additional epithet. By Homer, the epithet xnwgos is applied to fear*, as ex* Xhaçox deos, Odyss, M. 243.
pressive of that green paleness which overspreads the human countenance, upon the seizure of that passion. And the epithet pale may be sufficient to express this colour, as affecting the face of man, but seems inadequate to convey the force of Xhogos, when used to describe the hue of this ghastly horse.
There is a sublime climax, or scale of terrific images, exhibited in the colours of the horses in the four first seals, denoting the progressive character of the Chrisian times. It begins with pure white; then changes to the fiery and vengeful; then to black, or mournful: and when we imagine that nothing more dreadful in colour can appear, then comes another gradation much more terrific, even this “deadly pale*." And the imagery is Scriptural, as well as sublime. Striking resemblance to it may be observed in the following very poetical passage: “ Her Nazarites
were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk, " their polishing was of Sapphire. — Their visage is blacker than a coal, darker than blackness; they
are not known in the streets; their skin cleaveth to " their bones, it is withered t.” Such a gradation was there also, from heavenly-pure to foul and horrible, in the Christian church,
Ib. Death.] This grisly king of terrors, so mounted, is very different from the benign conqueror, who came forth on the opening of the first seal, seated on the white horse; yet he is not described; tủe name only is given, and the picture of him is left to be supplied by the imagination of the reader, where (such is the natural horror of dissolution) he stands delineated in terrific colours. Death is frequently personified in Scripture, as an invader, a conqueror, a king * Such he now appears in formidable power.
• Sbakespeare's Hamlet,
+ Lament, iv. 7, 8.
Ib. Hell.] Death in his victorious career is followed by Hell; for a description of which, in conjunction with death, see note, chap. i. 18. When death and hell are spoken of as acting together, the utmost destruction and desolation are implied t. Consequently this is a period of great slaughter and devastation : but these are not necessarily confined to the lives of men, but, in the metaphorical language of Scripture, may destroy also whatever can prolong and make life happy. And it is the most dire work of death and of hell to destroy in the heart of man those seeds of religion, which are there planted to grow up unto eternal life. In this sense, the Church of Sardis is said to be dead I. Persons, in whom the spiritual life in Christ is extinct, are said to be in the shadow of death; and they who promote this extinction in themselves and others, are called “chil. "dren of hell G.” And the recovery of such persons to true religion, is described as a resurrection from the dead ||. Conformably to these images, death and hell, under this seal, are described as making ravage, not only on the natural lives of men, but also on their spiritual lives, and on that pure and vital Religion, which supports them. The Christian Religion, which had begun its progress in white array, and under the guidance of apostolical teachers, is now not only so changed in colour and appearance, as to be scarcely discernible as the same ; but is under the guidance of deadly and infernal directors, who destroy in her all that remains of primitive purity.
• Jer. ix, 21. Rom. v. 12, 14.
Ch. iii. 1. where see the note.
Ver. 8. Over the fourth part of the earth.] This is the only passage of the Prophecy, in which a fourth part of the earth, or a fourth part of any other thing, is 'mentioned : the third part frequently occurs. It may perhaps be found, that the countries which underwent the rage of this seal, bore this proportion to the rest of the inhabited, or, at least, Christian world. The dark ignorance, corruption, and destruction of Christian liberty, under the third seal, extended geinerally through Christendom : but the slaughter and devastation (which is to be explained under the ensuing note) reached only to certain parts.
Ib. To slay by sword, and by famine, and by pestilence, and'under the beasts of the earth.] These will be found the same with the four “sore judg• 55. ments” of God, denounced against a sinful land
by the prophet Ezekiel *. Let the reader compare this passage of the Apocalypse with the Greek of the Septuagint, and he will acknowledge the resemblance. He will be aware also, that the word Savalos, death, should be translated pestilence, in which sense
it is used by the prophet; as it is also, in above thirty other places, by the Septuagint translators, to ex-press the word 797 pestis t. Pestilence, being in an extraordinary degree deadly, obtained the general name of death. These therefore being “the four sore “ judgments of God,” (containing generally all the instruments of grievous suffering,) and being expressed by the number four, which implies universality or
* Chap. xiv. 21.
+ See Trommii Concord.