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quart, or what was considered a moderate allowance for the daily food of a man. A penny or denarius, about seven pence halfpenny, was the wages of a man for a day, and in plentiful times would buy fifteen or twenty chænices of wheat. It follows, therefore, that for a poor man to have lived on wheaten bread would have required all his labour, without any thing for other necessaries, or any support for his family. The command given to the emblematic executioner of this judgment not to hurt the oil and the wine, that is, to spare the olive-trees and the vines, while the corn was smitten, implies that there should not be a total failure of the fruits of the earth; that while there was a great scarcity of the necessaries of life, many of the comforts and refreshments should remain, to shew that in the midst of judgment God remembers mercy. It is supposed, that the events predicted by this seal commenced A. D. 138, and lasted to A. D. 193; and there are accounts in the history of that period of long-continued scarcities through the whole Roman empire; so that the emperors and their ministers, with all their attention and care, could but just prevent the horrors of entire famine. This was another method by which Christ fought against the persecutors of his church.
There are several other expositions of this seal, to some of which great names are attached. Mr. Mede and Bishop Newton suppose the hieroglyphio to be a representation of justice. There would be some scarcity in the necessaries of life; but they would be regulated and directed by the strict execution of judgment and justice. Corn should be provided for the people, but it should be distributed in exact measure and proportion. This period commenced with Septimius Severus, who was an enactor of just and equal laws, and a severe punisher of offences. Alexander Severus lived under the same period, who was a most severe judge against thieves, and was so fond of the Christian's maxim, “Whatso“ever you would not have done to you, do not you “ to another," that he commanded it to be engraven on the palace, and on the public buildings.
Other commentators, among whom are Archdeacon Woodhouse, Mr. Cuninghame, and Dr. Bryce Johnston, suppose that the scarcity here referred to is not to be understood in its literal and plain meaning. They direct our attention to another kind of scarcity, namely, that of which the prophet Amos speaks; “ not a famine of bread, nor a thirst of
water, but of hearing the word of the Lord.” According to this exposition, the food of the body is to be considered as the symbol of the food of the mind; and the scarcity predicted, shews that there should be a great want and famine of the preaching and ordinances of the true Gospel in the church, but that the enlightening and comforting influences of the Holy Spirit, represented by the oil and wine, should not be withheld from those who, in the midst of surrounding darkness and superstition, truly set their hearts to seek God.
The first exposition here given of this seal appears, on the whole, to be the most probable; though the two last, as supported by names of eminence, are briefly noticed. The reader who wishes to see the arguments for these and various other differences of opinion, in the exposition of this difficult and mysterious book, must consult the various writers on the subject.
When the almighty Author and Director of nature pleases, he can withhold the influence of the heavens, and restrain the earth from yielding its increase, and thus visit the nations with distressing scarcity or destructive famine: and when men loathe their spiritual food, the upholder and preserver of their lives may justly deprive them of their daily bread. As Britons, we have much reason to be grateful to the God of our mercies, that we have been preserved from those calamities which our sins have merited. The famine of bread is a most terrible judgment, but a famine of the word of God is still more so. Let us continually pray, that we may be preserved from such a tremendous visitation, that the Gospel of Christ may continue to be published amongst us in its purity and power, and that we may daily feed on that bread of life, of which if a man eat he shall live for ever.
The Opening the fourth Seal.
Chap. vi. 7, 8. 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.
This was an emblem of the divine judgments to be effected by an extraordinary and most dreadful mortality, produced by the means enumerated in the text, namely, the sword, famine, the pestilence (in the eastern languages emphatically called death), and the beasts of the earth. It is observable, that these are the same four sore judgments of God, which he denounced against the Jews for their sins by the prophet Ezekiel *. The four emblematic horses, described under the four first seals, by a regular gradation, proceed from one colour to another. The first is pure white, or mild and peaceful; the second red, fiery and vengeful ; the third black, or mournful: and when we imagine nothing more dreadful can appear, then comes another gradation still more awfully terrific, the deadly pale. The term in the Greek is derived from a word signifying the green grass. It therefore means, either grassy green, or pale, of a sallow hue, like the grass when burnt up in the hot tropical countries. Either of these colours, as applied to a horse, gives a most terrific idea. The former, though beautiful in the clothing of the trees and fields, is unseemly, disgusting, and horrible, when it appears upon flesh; it is there the livid colour of corruption. The latter, pale, like the sallow burnt-up grass, the colour of a person fainting (to which circumstance it is applied by one of the Grecian classics *), or of a dead corpse, gives an idea equally awful. On this pale horse Death rode as a terrific conqueror, and was followed by Hell. Both these powers are in this description personified, and the whole assemblage of figures constitutes an hieroglyphical representation of the most dreadful and terrific nature. Power was given to Death and Hell over the fourth part of the earth; a large proportion of its inhabitants, especially throughout the Roman empire. Death was scattering his darts among the human race, and destroying them by multitudes; and Hell followed immediately after, ready to receive his prey. The term hell, or hades, it is to be remarked, is not always used to denote the place of future punishment, but the grave and unseen world, as the general receptacles of dead bodies and departed souls. In this sense it is used in the Apostles' Creed, founded on a text of Scripture respecting the descent of our blessed Lord into hell or hades.—The period of this seal is said to reach from A. D. 193 to A. D. 270. During fifty years of this period there were more than twenty emperors, all or most of whom died in war, or were murdered by their own soldiers
* Chap. xiv, 21.
* XANPOTEPA SI NOIAE sjeges. I am paler than the grass. Sappho.- Homer applies the epithet to a person under the influence of fear and terror. Xampos ito drous. Deadly wan through foar.
and subjects. There were also above thirty usurpers, in different parts of the empire, who supported their claims by war, and perished with multitudes of their adherents. Here was sufficient employment for Death to destroy immense numbers with the sword. This universal war and devastation naturally made way for famine, which grievously prevailed in every place. Famine necessarily introduced pestilence, the third distinguishing calamity of this period. long and general famine,” says
says Gibbon, “ was the “ inevitable consequence of rapine and oppression, “ which extirpated the produce of the present, and “ the hope of future harvests. Famine is almost “ always followed by epidemical diseases, the effect “ of scanty and unwholesome food. Other causes “ must, however, have contributed to the furious “ plague which, from the year 250 to the year 265, “ raged without interruption in every province, every
city, and almost every family of the Roman empire. During some time five thousand persons died daily in Rome; and many towns were entirely de
populated *.” These desolations must also have given opportunity to wild beasts to increase upon the residue of the inhabitants; and accordingly we read, that they were forced to wage war with wolves, lions, and tigers, and that many were devoured by them. This destruction by wild beasts would appear, as Bishop Newton remarks,“ a probable con
sequence of the former calamities, if history had “ recorded nothing of it; but we read in history “ that five hundred wolves together entered into a
city which was deserted by its inhabitants, and « where the younger Maximin chanced to be." --Such was the tremendous fulfilment of the prophecy developed under the fourth seal.
Some commentators have argued that the four emblematic horses referred to the Church exclusively;
* Gibbon, chap. X.