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That people had long been familiar with Christianity in the ordinary acceptation of the term; they had had preachers who set before them the moral requisitions of revealed religion, the certainty of a future judgment, and the fearful consequences of the wrath of the Most High; but it was not till the atonement or propitiation of Christ was presented to their minds, as the merciful provision of God for convicted sinners, that their hearts were affected, and the stubborn pride of self-sufficiency yielded to the kind invitations of the Gospel. Such we may suppose to be the shafts from the bow of him who sat upon the white horse. The bow, it is true, would be useless without the arrows, but these last owe their power and efficiency to the bow in the hands of him who wields it. But there is still another construction of the use of this bow and its arrows. If the contest between this champion and his enemies, be that of the power of intercession with the power of legal condemnation, the shafts, or arrows, are those truths emanating from the principle of propitiation which destroy the elements of selfjustification or legality, spoken of in the Psalms as the enemies of the king.
§ 148. And a crown was given to him.'-Of the rider on the white horse, mentioned in the 19th chapter, it is said that he had many crowns; but those crowns are diadems, (diadhuara.) The one crown here spoken of, is the token of success; the laurel of victory, (origavos.) It is said, 1 Kings xx. 11, “Let not him that girdeth on his harness, boast himself as he that taketh it off." This axiom is good, however, only with man; God needs not to wait the issue of the contest, that he may decide to whom the crown of success is to be given. The rider of the white horse receives the token of success in anticipation; he goes forth, indeed, but not in doubt: he goes to conquer, and that he may conquer. The will of the Most High is already known-the conqueror goes forth to fulfil that which in the Divine mind is already done.
'And he went forth conquering and to conquer,' or, that he might conquer; or, as the verb rizdo is elsewhere translated, overcoming. He that sitteth on the white horse, is then he that overcometh; and the name of him that sitteth on the white horse, is the Word of God, the Logos; and this Word is Christ, as he manifests himself in the Comforter. His successor, the Spirit of truth, testifying of him, and convincing the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. In the work of salvation, it is Christ only, who overcomes the requisitions of the law by his own merits; fulfilling the law, and thus releasing the disciple from the bondage of the law. Christ is the word, or sovereign purpose, of God, manifest in the flesh. The sovereign purpose of God is to save, by his own righteousness, all who trust to him. The principle of salvation by imputed righteousness may be thus spoken of as the word or purpose of God, especially in reference to the economy of redemption. This principle is a principle of Christian faith; and, as such, it
may be that alluded to by the beloved apostle, when he says, this is the victory which overcometh the world, our faith; avry ¿orìv ý ríxy ý vixýσασα τὸν κόσμον, ἡ πιστὶς ἡμῶν. The world being supposed to represent the position of the sinner amidst all the requisitions of the law. Referring, apparently to this, Jesus says to his disciples, John xvi. 33, "In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world;" ἐγὼ νενίκηκα τὸν κόσμον, I have conquered the world. Christ himself is the conqueror, and he alone is entitled to the crown. But he conquers by this word, or purpose of God, which is also a principle of our faith; viz., that in him all righteousness has been fulfilled—that fulfilment being imputed to the believer. It is this principle, we may say then, that appears as the conqueror, sustained by Divine righteousness, crowned with the token of the Redeemer's victory, and using the bow of covenant promises, as the weapon of defence. So, the disciple, enlightened by the knowledge of this truth, in view of all the requisitions of the law, going forth in the trial of his faith, sustained by his dependence upon the imputed merit of his Redeemer, and trusting in the covenant of propitiation, overcomes, in proportion to his faith, all his apprehensions even of the fearful threatenings of offended justice. As the blind men, (Matt. ix. 29,) according to their faith, received their natural sight, so the disciple, according to his faith, enjoys this spiritual sight-the sight of God's salvation.
The feeble faith of the most enlightened Christian in this life, can hardly be worthy of supplying a reality for the figure of Him who went forth conquering and to conquer. The real rider of the white horse must be either the principle of this faith, the purpose of God—the principle of salvation by imputed righteousness-or it must be the Saviour himself, who is the personification of this principle, or purpose-the Word made flesh. As, however, it is the Lamb once slain, who opens the seal by which this exhibition is made, the rider of the white horse may be supposed to represent this principle, or fundamental dogma of Christian faith; unless we suppose the Lamb, in exhibiting this rider, to reveal himself in his peculiar character of a Conqueror, the Lord our righteousness;-a supposition according with our position, that the Apocalypse is a revelation which Jesus Christ makes of himself. It is said, indeed, Romans viii. 37, in all these things we are more than conquerors-more than overcomers; but this, it is added, is through him that loved us. He has laboured, and we have entered into his labours ;-He has achieved the victory, and we in him are accounted victors; we obtain a crown, but it is the crown or token of his successof the triumph of his righteousness, and not of ours.
The effect, then, of the opening of the first seal, is to exhibit Christ as the Logos, or sovereign purpose of God, going forth in the work of salvation; sustained by divine righteousness, and armed with the covenant of mercy,
and already bearing the token of victory. This exhibition is called forth, or announced, or attention is called to it, by the first living creature, in a voice of thunder; and this first living creature, we suppose to be the element of Divine justice, or legal retribution ;-as we may say, the attribute of perfect justice in the Deity calls forth the Redeemer, and renders the whole economy of redemption indispensable. Or, if we prefer the rendering come and see, then we say the element of Divine justice is the instrument of calling attention to the principle of substitution, or imputed righteousness, with its attendant provisions; the law as a conductor* bringing us to Christ— the terrors of the law being instrumental in persuading men to fly for refuge to the hope set before them. The action of the first living creature, on this occasion, being equivalent to an urgent invitation directed to the sinner to come and see what has been done for his soul. The voice of thunder is fearful, but it is a friendly, a warning voice. If there had been no provision for salvation, the warning would be useless; but, because a propitiation has been made because the Lamb has been sacrificed-because a substitute has been furnished, the terrors of the law are invoked to constrain the offender to embrace the proffered reconciliation.
The opening of this first seal is thus a very appropriate commencement of what we suppose to be the doctrinal development about to follow; perhaps it comprises in itself that which is to follow. Christ being revealed in this first development, as the great substitute, sustained by his own righteousness, and overcoming the power of the law by the principles of reconciliation emanating from his propitiation; which exhibition may be said to be the sum and substance of the plan of salvation.
Vs. 3, 4. And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast [living creature] say, Come and see [or
come]. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another and there was given unto him a great sword.
Καὶ ὅτε ἤνοιξε τὴν σφραγῖδα τὴν δευτές gar, ἤκουσα τοῦ δευτέρου ζώου λέγοντος· ἔρχου. Καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ἄλλος ἵππος πυρός· καὶ τῷ καθημένῳ ἐπ ̓ αὐτὸν ἐδόθη αὐτῷ λαβεῖν τὴν εἰρήνην ἐκ τῆς γῆς καὶ ἵνα ἀλλήλους σφάξωσι, καὶ ἐδόθη αὐτῷ μάχαιρα μεγάλη.
§ 149. The call to come, or to come and see, is now made by the animal like a calf or bullock-the opposite of the lion-the figure representing, as we have supposed, (§ 127,) the provision for propitiating the mercy of God. Because the call is made by this element of mercy, it does not follow, however, that the subject of contemplation is a gratifying one. Divine mercy
* Gal. iii. 24, "The law was our schoolmaster (naidaɣorós pedagogue) to bring us to Christ." The pedagogue of the apostle's time is said to have been an upper domestic, (perhaps a slave,) whose office it was to take the children to school, and to attend to them while there; when the children had so learnt, that there was no longer occasion for going to school, there was no further call for the pedagogue.
calls for an exhibition of the danger to which the criminal is exposed; so, as the bullock is the opposite of the lion, we may suppose the subject represented by this red horse and his rider to be, in some respect, an opposite of that presented by the preceding exhibition.
The word translated here red, is formed from the Greek term for fire; it may signify fiery red, or the colour of fire. As red is the colour of blood, as such alone, it might be considered a figure of something the opposite of peace, or mercy; so, in the vision of the prophet, Is. lxiii. 2, Christ is represented as red in his apparel. So, too, the Hebrew words Edom and Esau, have an allusion to something red, or vindictive. The adjective avóóós, πυῤῥός, (red,) occurs only in one other place in the Apocalypse, where it is applied to the great red dragon, or serpent; and it is not to be found in any other portion of the New Testament. A word from the same root is applied, Matt. xvi. 2, 3, to the lowering or threatening appearance of the sky before a storm. The prevailing idea, associated with other formations from this root, is that of fire; the application of the term to the colour named, having also, no doubt, arisen from the red appearance of a very strong fire. The going forth of this fiery red horse, thus reminds us of the prediction, Malachi iv. 1, “Behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch." The effect of this coming is described at the close of the preceding chapter, to be a certain discrimination between the righteous and the wicked-between him that serveth God, and him that serveth him not. So, also, the fury of him that cometh from Edom, is said to uphold him, Is. Ixiii. 5; as the righteousness of the intercessor was before said to sustain him. The fiery red horse, then, we may conclude to be an exhibition of the power of unappeased justice, to sustain the element represented by its rider; equivalent to what may be termed a spiritual discernment of the requisitions of Divine justice, &c., Rom. vii. 10-14. If, however, we substitute the term fiery-coloured for red—" and there went out another horse, fiery-coloured"-our attention will be directed more particularly to the fiery trial, or trial by fire-" trying every man's work ;"-a trial of doctrines and of doctrinal elements; for which also the great sword, or sword of the Spirit, is to be employed-the taking peace from the earth showing the inconsistency of false opinions.
§ 150. And to him was given to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill each other.'-The earth we suppose to represent the position of man under the law, dependent upon his own merits, his own works, for eternal life-eating his bread by the sweat of his brow: the selfrighteous principles, sustaining this position, being the wicked, to be burned. by the oven of Malachi, or by the fire of a revelation of truth. Meantime,
these principles, the elements of this earthly position, are brought into continual collision with each other, whenever tried by the exhibition of truththeir inconsistency, their variance, is manifested-there is found to be no peace, or concord, between them: "There is no peace, saith the Lord, to the wicked," Is. xlviii. 22. That is, as if the elements of a self-righteous system were a company of evil doers. "Think not that I come to send peace on earth," said Jesus; "I came not to send peace, but a sword," Matt. x. 34; or, as it is expressed Luke xii. 49–53, “I am come to send fire on the earth.” Suppose ye, that I am come to give peace on the earth? I tell you nay, but rather division ;"—a division illustrated under the figure of family dissensions. Accordingly we find, although the birth of Jesus was announced, (Luke ii. 14,) as the harbinger of peace, that, ever since his advent, the matter of religion has been more a subject of dissension and contention than it ever was before; not merely in respect to animosities between man and man, but more especially in respect to the variety of contending principles, doctrines, dogmas, and elements of doctrines, more and more exhibiting a collision amongst themselves. The truth of revealed religion calls out and exposes the inconsistencies of these elements of earthly systems of salvation; systems professedly Christian, but founded upon a basis as opposite to that of the Gospel, as the earth is an opposite of heaven. Jesus, indeed, gives peace to his followers-peace with God; but it is not the peace of self-justification, or of a reconciliation effected by the works or merits of men: "My peace I leave with you," he says; "not as the world giveth, give I unto you." His peace is the peace of sovereign grace-the peace he brings is that resulting from the good will of God toward men, manifested in the work of redemption.*
* In a literal sense, there has been no peace on earth since the time of Cain, Man has always been a foe to his fellow-man. Nations have always been hostile to each other. The peace here spoken of, as to be taken away, is not a political peace, It is that peace which Christ has procured through his propitiatory sacrificethe peace spoken of, Rom. v. 1, as the result of the sinner's justification-the reconciliation to God by the blood and cross of Christ, described Eph. ii. 13-16. Wherever the Christian dispensation is regarded as one of justice merely-an economy of rewards and punishments, instead of an economy of grace-this peace is taken away as soon as the understanding of the sinner is opened to a conviction of his guilt, of the impurity of his motives, and of the imperfection of his best services. The morality of the divine law extends to the thoughts and intents of the heart, and thither the sword of the Spirit penetrates.
On the other hand, it is unquestionable that the influence of Christianity has ameliorated the political condition of the world. The frequency of national contests has been less, and the conduct of them has been less bloody and cruel since the general diffusion of the Christian faith, than previous to its promulgation. In this sense, Christ may be said to have brought even political peace, and not the sword; but this, it is evident, is not the sense in which he spoke in allusion to the subject of peace.