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næus, 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 tiine 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 t, yet the change cannot be represented 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 possessed 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 degen cy and corruption I. 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
* Ta ons signons soverv. Euseb. Hist. Eccl. lib. v. c. 24. + Eccl. Hist. viii. c. 1.
# The reader may see this proved by authorities at length at the end of the notes to ch. vii.
Chu vi. 3–4.] APOCALYPSE.
1.39 " 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 t.” 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 princi- . pal part of the ecclesiastical history of the fourth century £. 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 Da. masus g. 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 ll.
The Arian controversy produced similar fruits, and of much longer duration. With process of time the
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.
See Mosheim, i. 340. and the note of his learned and judi. cious translator.
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 seal, in the words of Dr. Clarke. The same learned and accurate writer thus continues his narration; and it is surely the history of this second 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
* The account of which may be seen in Mosheiin's Ilistory, vol. i. pages 373, &c. 400. 415.
"own opinions on others, instead of exhorting them " to study and obey the Gospel of Christ; have arisen
strifes and contentions, hatred and uncharitable
ness, schisms and divisions without end. From “ whence, says Saint James, come wars and fightings
among you ? Come they not hence, even of your “ lusts which war in your members ? From a zeal for “the religion and for the commandments of Christ, “ from a concern for the promoting of truth, righte“ousness, and charity, it is evident, in the nature of
things, and in the experience of all ages, that wars “ and fightings, hatred and animosities, ' never have, “nor can proceed. These precious fruits have al
ways sprung from that root of bitterness, a zeal for “ the doctrines and commandments of men, a stri
ving for temporal power and dominion. At the first
beginning of the mystery of iniquity, the builders “of hay and stubble on the foundation of Christ,
went no farther than to censoriousuess and un“ charitableness towards their brethren. Against whom "
Saint Paul argues; Why dost thou judge thy brother,
or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? We “shall all stand before the judgment-seat, of Christ. “ But in process of time, as water, at a further dis“tance from the fountain, divides itself continually “into more streams, and becomes less pure; so when
men had once departed from the simplicity and
purity of the doctrine, and from the charitableness “ of the Spirit of Christ, their hatred and animosities
against each other increased continually, till they
literally fulfilled that remarkable prophecy of our “ Saviour, in which is contained a most severe re“ proof of those corrupters of the Gospel of truth and charity,' who he says would arise in following ages. * I am come to send fire on the earth, Luke xii. 49. And, “ Think not that I am come to send peace on earth : “ I came not to send peace, but a sword: for I am “come to set a man at variance against his father, "and the daughter against her mother, and a man's " foes shall be they of his own household: Matt. x. " 34. Nay, even that description which he gives of " the persecution which the Jews should bring on “his disciples, the time cometh, that whosoever kil
Leth you, will think that he doeth God service; even “this, in time, came to be fulfilled by one Christian,
(so they still called themselves,) it was fulfilled, I say, by one Christian upon another *.”
Clarke's Sermons, vol. iii. 312—315.
The opening of the third Seal.
CHAP. vi. ver. 5-6.
5 Kai 671 Kvote th5 And when he opened 5 And when he had τρίτην σφραγίδα, , the third seal, I heard opened the third seal, ήκωσα το τρίτα ζώα the third living-crea- I heard the third beast λέγοντας: "Έρχε. ture saying, “ Come:" say, Come, and see. [Kai sidoy,] xide [and I beheld) and lo! And I beheld, and lo, ίππς μίλας, και a black horse! and he a black horse ; and he ο καθήμεν. επ' that sat on him hav- that sat on him had a airovixwr Surjór ev ing a yoke in his band :
pair of balances in his Tin Xugi ætti. 6 And I heard a voice 6 hand. And I heard 6 kai xuoa parmio in the midst of the a voice in the midst
εν μέσω των τεσ- four living-creatures, of the four beasts say, σάρων ζώων λέγα- saying, “ A chenix of
A measure of wheat σαν» Χούνιξ σίτα 16 wheat for a dena. fora penny; and three