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the terms third ($ 191) and men, or inhabiters of the earth, ($ 195,) are principles of the earthly system-doctrinal elements depending upon that system. The Euphratean cavalry constitutes the doctrinal power of the system represented by that great river. The weapon of offence of this cavalry, as well as its armour, is the unquenchable fire of revealed truth, or the deductions from that truth, as smoke is a result of the combustion of fire and sulphur. The source whence this portion of revealed truth emanates is the judicial attribute of the Supreme Being—the element of vindictive justice—the head and mouth of the lion ; for if the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions, their mouths must have been as the mouths of lions. And this is just that object of dread which the convicted sinner, in view of the justice of God, must fearfully contemplate ; and which, in being contemplated, must break down, champ, crush, and grind to powder every pretension to self-justification. “They gaped upon me,” says David, in allusion to such a state of conviction, “with their mouths, as a ravening and roaring lion. Save me," he adds, “ from the lion's mouth," Ps. xxii. 13, 21. The lion first described as in the midst and round about the throne, Rev. iv. 6, 7, is like a lion; and perhaps we may say, in any plan of redemption, the first attribute of the Deity to be satisfied is justice. It is then the emanation of truth from this attribute of justice, which destroys the pretensions of human merit spoken of as the third of men.
· For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails.'—In their mouth, because, as we have seen, their mouth is the mouth of the lion ; in their tails, for the reason subsequently given.
· For their tails were like serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt,'—to hurt, being an opposite of justifying, ($ 174.) Their tails were like serpents, in their use and action. They had heads, that is, serpent-heads:
-as a lion's head implies a lion's mouth, so a serpent's head implies a serpent's sting. The serpent is the accuser—the accuser's sting is the transgression of the law: the action of the accuser is to bring the transgressor under the law. The false prophet, or false interpreter of the divine will, (the tail,) maintains the necessity of justification by the works of the law. Thus the principles of legality represented by these tails operate to hurt or counteract justification, and so expose its victim to the action of the sting of death, or sin,—the transgression of the law. Here, then, we perceive a double operation in this Euphratean-horse power. Principles emanating from the attribute of inflexible justice call for the death of the transgressor ; while principles of subjection to the law, in opposition to the justification of the disciple, pronounce the sentence of condemnation upon every soul that doeth evil, though he offend only in one point.
$ 224. This view of the operation of these Euphratean principles may throw some light on the character of the system. As a river of the earth, we have supposed this Euphrates to be the figure of a human scheme or proposed means of atonement. This scheme, we may suppose, admits the fact of man's sinfulness; but it proposes to atone for this sinfulness by works of propitiation of man's performance, so as to compensate for the past by subsequent obedience, or to make up for past transgression and neglect of duty on one hand, by some extraordinary acts of submission or certain scrupulous performances. Such is the system of human wisdom. Very specious in appearance, so long as its real elements are bound, or not developed ; but as soon as they are fully exbibited, and the four angels are loosed, (four being put for all,) then the true character of its multifarious principles is manifested, and they are all found to be composed of two elements alike destructive to man's pretensions of justification by his own works. These two distinguishing elements may afford a reason, if that already given be deemed insufficient, ($ 220,) for the duplex denomination of the centenary number of the horsemen, showing that whatever may be their multitude or variety, these emanations from the great river scheme are all of the twofold character alluded to. The mouth of the lion, and the serpent's sting, is to be perceived in both.
The bottomless pit system, we suppose to be a system of self-righteousness—a resting upon one's own merits, unconvinced of sin—neither admitting nor contemplating the necessity of atonement ; recognizing the existence and power of the law, but proposing to meet its requisitions by works. Here the remedy required is an exhibition of the exceeding sinfulness of sin ; not resulting in actual condemnation, (death,) but showing the call for some propitiatory provision, to meet the case of delinquency: Accordingly, the secret nature of this mystery being laid open, it is manifested to afford no bottom or foundation upon which a hope or trust of justification by works of the law can be built; while the features of the system, in proportion as they are developed, exhibit their direct tendency to hurt, or bring about the condemnation of the disciple, or to leave him at least in an unjustified position.
The operation of the first wo we apprehend to be that of so exhibiting the folly of human pretensions to righteousness as to provide for the conviction of sin. The necessity of some propitiation being now admitted, the next error to be combated is the supposition of the sinner's ability to atone for himself. This error is exposed by showing what must be the true character of the elements of an atoning provision (a river) of this kind; how its principles directly counteract the claims of human merit to justification, and virtually cause the condemnation of those depending upon such a delusive scheme of redemption, instead of contributing in any degree to cleanse them from their guilt.
The exhibition of this latter folly is the subject of the second woma wo to the inhabitants of the earth, ($ 205,) or to the elements of the earthly system, because these false pretensions are destroyed by the exhibition of the legal elements,* represented by the overwhelming body of cavalry, brought into action in this second process of trial.
We do not pretend to apply either of these exhibitions to a particular denomination or portion of the visible church. It is for all denominations, and all individuals of that church, to employ the mirror themselves, and to contemplate in it the peculiar features of their respective systems, as far as they may find them represented.
Vs. 20, 21. And the rest of the men Και οι λοιποί των ανθρώπων, οι ουκ which were not killed by these plagues απεκτάνθησαν εν ταις πληγαίς ταύταις, ούyet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship dev
τε μετενόησαν εκ των έργων των χειρών ils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, Tūv, iva un posxvviongi ta daruóvua xai and stone, and of wood: which neither τα είδωλα τα χρυσά και τα αργυρά και τα can see, nor hear, nor walk: neither re- zohxã xaừ tà hi Iiva vai tà $úluva, å oüte pented they of their murders, nor of their βλέπειν δύναται ούτε ακούειν ούτε περιπαsorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.
τείν, και ου μετενόησαν εκ των φόνων αυτων ούτε εκ των φαρμακειών αυτών ούτε εκ της πορνείας αυτών ούτε εκ των κλεμμάτων
αυτών. . $ 225. "And the rest of the men.'—It is difficult to say even what is probably to be understood by this rest, or remainder, or those left of the men. By these three it is said, in the 18th verse, was the third (part) of men killed, leaving us no room to suppose but that the whole of this third was destroyed; in which case there can be no remainder. On the other hand, the trees, the sea, the creatures in the sea, the ships, the rivers, the sun, the moon, the day, and even the night, (Rev. viii. 7–12,) all suffer in their third, and nothing is intimated with respect to their remaining two-thirds.
We suppose men, or inhabiters of the earth, to be figures of doctrinal
* We apply this term legal elements to these horsemen with less hesitation, because the fire, smoke, and brimstone, of their equipment, correspond so nearly with the volcanic chacteristics of Sinai, that we think there can be no mistake in this particular. We may add here that, in addition to the feature of perpetuity supposed to be indicated by sulphur or brimstone, the smoke and effluvia arising from its combustion have been long considered antidotes to the infection of contagious diseasespurifying and cleansing substances submitted to their action; the exhalation from burning sulphur being perhaps destructive to the life of the animalcula entering into the composition of pestilential virus. Thus, as fire is the purifier and trier of metals, the smoke of burning sulphur is the trier and purifier of other substances; while the sulphur itself
, like the fuel of volcanic combustion, is that which gives perpetuity to both of these agents. The fire, and smoke, and sulphur, from the mouths of the horses, in their destruction of the one-third of men, thus represent the revealed word in its destruction of certain errors, combining three elements, two of which have the characteristic of trying and purifying, and one that of continual ceaseless operation.
principles of self-justification ; deductions from revelation, capable of being made in three different senses, that is, by taking Scripture in the literal sense, in the metaphorical sense, and in the spiritual sense. In this last sense these elements of self-justification are destroyed by the development of the great river system; but in the other two senses they still remain unchanged and unaffected :—as we may say that no argument , drawn from the literal, or metaphorical sense of revelation, will destroy these elements or change their tendency. Something like this may be represented by the impenitent state of the rest of the men. The literal construction of this vision, for example, does not counteract the erroneous view usually formed of man's dependence upon his own works; neither does the ordinary figurative application of the vision to matters of church history ; but the spiritual view of it, when fully attained, we think will have this effect. If it do not appear so from the manner in which we have exhibited these truths, the fault is in our feeble ability, and not in the nature of the case.
• Yet repented not,' &c.—The word yet is unnecessarily introduced here. Some editions of the Greek have où ueteroñouv in the twentieth verse, instead of oúre. We should either read, the rest of the men repented not of the works of their hands, and repented not of their murders, &c., or neither repented of their works, nor of their murders, &c. This would give a finish to the sentence, which it seems to require; for with these two verses the relation of this wo, so far as the four angels and the horsemen are concerned, ends ;-the one-third of men are killed, and the other two-thirds remain unchanged; the next chapter commencing with an entire new exhibition.
Whatever this rest or remainder of men may be, however, it is composed of those chargeable with idolatry, murder, sorcery, fornication, and theft. The idolatry, too, seems to be of the lowest kind,—the worship of demons and of dumb idols; and the crimes those of the grossest character, such as literally but a small portion of mankind actually commit; the reason and experience of man in every stage of society showing the necessity of punishing these crimes for the common welfare. We cannot but take it for granted, therefore, that something else than the ordinary literal meaning is here intended.
• That they should not worship,' &c.—Idolatry, in a spiritual sense, we have already ($ 61) shown to consist in the motive of action—an intention to serve and promote the glory of self, instead of serving and glorifying God; and we suppose doctrinal principles favouring these motives to be here alluded to, under the figure of idolaters. Men worship idols made of earthly materials, and the work of their own hands, when they ascribe their salvation and eternal happiness to works of righteousness of their own performance. They worship devils or demons, when their motive of action is a slavish fear of punishment, or a mercenary expectation of reward.
There may be a variety of grades in this species of idolatry, according as the individuals chargeable with it are more or less intellectual and intelligent. One man may give a penny to a charitable or religious object, and another may build a temple or endow an asylum. If the motive be to establish a claim of merit, or to compensate for a want of merit, the act of idolatry is the same. One man may count his beads, and another may make long prayers ; one may fast once or twice a week, and another may be scrupulously abstemious throughout his life ; one may observe days and months, and forms, and another may be as punctilious in certain outward acts of devotion, public and private ; one may depend upon the repetition of a creed, or the maintenance of a single point of doctrine, and another may contend for the importance of a code of doctrine. In all, if the motive be to establish a merit, the performance is a mere act of idolatry. The idols may be of different materials, but they are still the works of men's hands; the works have really no more merit in themselves than an idol of wood or stone has ability to save. They that make them are like unto them ; so is every one that trusteth in them. In this respect the self-righteous disciple of the most enlightened portion of the visible church of Christ may be as really an idolater as the ignorant pagan of antiquity, or the infatuated South-sea worshipper of stocks and stones. In the apocalyptic sense, however, we suppose not the man, but the doctrinal principles leading to the idolatry in contemplation, are the rest of the men not killed, and not repenting. This subject of idolatry, as it will be perceived, occupies the whole of the twentieth verse; we can hardly therefore be blamable for having dwelt so much upon it here.
§ 226. Neither repented they of their murders,' &c.—There are those, it is said, Heb. vi. 6, who crucify to themselves the son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame ; something analogous certainly to the crime of murder: and these are they, as it appears from the same passage, who, after having enjoyed the knowledge of the truth of salvation by sovereign grace, have turned back to a dependence upon their own merits. After having tasted of the heavenly gift—after having enjoyed the blessed assurance of pardoning mercy, through the atoning blood of a Saviour, they have rejected all for the vain purpose of working out a propitiation and a righteousness of their own ; returning as the sow that is washed to her wallowing in the mire. The devil is said to have been a murderer from the beginning, John viii. 44. His first act was to persuade his victims to make themselves as gods—bringing them into a position of condemnation or spiritual death, by rendering them obnoxious to the provisions of the law.