Revelation of John 6

* The opening of the seals, The first, second, third, and

fourth. (1-8) The fifth. (9-11) The sixth. (12-17)

1-8 Christ, the Lamb, opens the first seal: observe what

appeared. A rider on a white horse. By the going forth of this

white horse, a time of peace, or the early progress of the

Christian religion, seems to be intended; its going forth in

purity, at the time when its heavenly Founder sent his apostles

to teach all nations, adding, Lo! I am with you alway, even to

the end of the world. The Divine religion goes out crowned,

having the Divine favour resting upon it, armed spiritually

against its foes, and destined to be victorious in the end. On

opening the second seal, a red horse appeared; this signifies

desolating judgments. The sword of war and persecution is a

dreadful judgment; it takes away peace from the earth, one of

the greatest blessings; and men who should love one another, and

help one another, are set upon killing one another. Such scenes

also followed the pure age of early Christianity, when,

neglectful of charity and the bond of peace, the Christian

leaders, divided among themselves, appealed to the sword, and

entangled themselves in guilt. On opening the third seal, a

black horse appeared; a colour denoting mourning and woe,

darkness and ignorance. He that sat on it had a yoke in his

hand. Attempts were made to put a yoke of superstitious

observances on the disciples. As the stream of Christianity

flowed further from its pure fountain, it became more and more

corrupt. During the progress of this black horse, the

necessaries of life should be at excessive prices, and the more

costly things should not be hurt. According to prophetic

language, these articles signified that food of religious

knowledge, by which the souls of men are sustained unto

everlasting life; such we are invited to buy, #Isa 55:1|. But

when the dark clouds of ignorance and superstition, denoted by

the black horse, spread over the Christian world, the knowledge

and practice of true religion became scarce. When a people

loathe their spiritual food, God may justly deprive them of

their daily bread. The famine of bread is a terrible judgment;

but the famine of the word is more so. Upon opening the fourth

seal, another horse appeared, of a pale colour. The rider was

Death, the king of terrors. The attendants, or followers of this

king of terrors, hell, a state of eternal misery to all who die

in their sins; and in times of general destruction, multitudes

go down unprepared into the pit. The period of the fourth seal

is one of great slaughter and devastation, destroying whatever

may tend to make life happy, making ravages on the spiritual

lives of men. Thus the mystery of iniquity was completed, and

its power extended both over the lives and consciences of men.

The exact times of these four seals cannot be ascertained, for

the changes were gradual. God gave them power, that is, those

instruments of his anger, or those judgments: all public

calamities are at his command; they only go forth when God sends

them, and no further than he permits.
9-11 The sight the apostle beheld at the opening the fifth seal

was very affecting. He saw the souls of the martyrs under the

altar; at the foot of the altar in heaven, at the feet of

Christ. Persecutors can only kill the body; after that there is

no more they can do; the soul lives. God has provided a good

place in the better world, for those who are faithful unto

death. It is not their own death, but the sacrifice of Christ,

that gives them entrance into heaven. The cause in which they

suffered, was for the word of God; the best any man can lay down

his life for; faith in God's word, and the unshaken confession

of that faith. They commit their cause to Him to whom vengeance

belongs. The Lord is the comforter of his afflicted servants,

and precious is their blood in his sight. As the measure of the

sin of persecutors is filling up, so is the number of the

persecuted, martyred servants of Christ. When this is fulfilled,

God will send tribulation to those who trouble them, and

unbroken happiness and rest to those that are troubled.
12-17 When the sixth seal was opened, there was a great

earthquake. The foundations of churches and states would be

terribly shaken. Such bold figurative descriptions of great

changes abound in the prophecies of Scripture; for these events

are emblems, and declare the end of the world and the day of

judgment. Dread and terror would seize on all sorts of men.

Neither grandeur, riches, valour, nor strength, can support men

at that time. They would be glad to be no more seen; yea, to

have no longer any being. Though Christ be a Lamb, he can be

angry, and the wrath of the Lamb is exceedingly dreadful; for if

the Redeemer himself, who appeases the wrath of God, be our

enemy, where shall we find a friend to plead for us? As men have

their day of opportunity, and their seasons of grace, so God has

his day of righteous wrath. It seems that the overthrow of the

paganism of the Roman empire is here meant. The idolaters are

described as hiding themselves in their dens and secret caves,

and vainly seeking to escape ruin. In such a day, when the signs

of the times show those who believe in God's word, that the King

of kings is approaching, Christians are called to a decided

course, and to a bold confession of Christ and his truth before

their fellowmen. Whatever they may have to endure, the short

contempt of man is to be borne, rather than that shame which is

everlasting.
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