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no higher importance to the empire itself, than many others of a later age that are not noticed in it. They sustained no peculiar relations to the church, no Christians, or but a very inconsiderable number, entering at that period into the Roman armies. They exerted no influence whatever, as far as can be discerned, either to accelerate or retard the spread of the gospel and conversion of individuals or communities. And finally the principle on which that construction is founded, must if legitimate, be taken as the key likewise of every other part of the prophecy, and force us to the conclusion that the symbolizations of the fourth seal, the fifth and sixth trumpets, the seven-headed dragon, the ten-horned and two-horned wild beasts, can only be accomplished by the appearance on the apocalyptic stage, of agents like those monster shapes.
Similar incongruities embarrass their views, who have regarded the horse as symbolizing the Roman people, or armies; not as the mere instrument by which the rider fulfils his office. It is to confound the horse of a warrior, with the associate warriors, that as subordinates conquer with him ;-a mere subsidiary by which he more successfully leads his squadrons, with the squadrons themselves which he leads to battle and victory. The white steed rode by Sylla in the battle with the Samnites, was as subsidiary to his office as the sword which he bore, and could no more be made a representative of his cohorts, than the color by which he was distinguished, or the ground on which he trod.
It subverts all certainty in respect to the other parts of the symbol. If the horse be not a mere subsidiary, exhibiting the rider in the exercise of his profession, on what ground can the bow be regarded as denoting the nature of that profession, or the crown the result of his conflicts ? What proof is there that he is a warrior, not a civil magistrate, or that his victories were gained in the battle-field, not in the hippodrome ?
Mr. Brightman regarded truth as the horseman, and interpreted his conquests of the successes of the Christian apologists during the reigns of Hadrian and the Antonines. But that is to make an intelligent agent, the representative of a mere abstract quality, or characteristic of propositions, which is against analogy.
Grotius regarded the gospel as the horse, and Christ in his kingly character as the rider; Cocceius, the church as the horse, and the horsemen as ecclesiastical teachers and rulers. These incongruous constructions bespeak the same inacquaintance with the principle of symbolic representation, as those interpretations which exhibit the symbol and thing symbolized as of the same species. Those who have interpreted the symbol as prophetic of the prosperity of the church, have yet placed their construction on mistaken grounds ;--some, as Grotius, Mr. Mede, Mr. Whiston, and Vitringa, seeming to found that solution on the assumption that the personage on the horse is the Son of God, not discerning that he never appears except when accompanied by express designations and symbols of his deity, and that it is unbefitting his dignity that he should be made the representative of his ministers; and others, as Dean Woodhouse, building their interpretation, not on the laws of symbolization, but on the erroneous assumption that the prophecy foreshadows none but ecclesiastical agents and events.
CHAPTER VI. 34.
THE SECOND SEAL.
And when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, Come. And there went forth another a red horse. And to him that sat on him, it was given to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another. And there was given to him a great sword.
The summons by the living creature was undoubtedly addressed in this instance as before to the symbolic agent, not to the prophet.
This horseman is a warrior also. The sword like the bow, is the instrument of contest and dominion, but is more destructive, and as it is used only in close combat, not like the bow at a distance, is employed with greater passion, and is the implement alike of defence, of ambition, and of revenge.
This warrior takes peace from the earth. He is aggressive therefore as well as the former, not occupied in self-defence ; but unlike him employs himself in endeavoring to conquer the empire which it is his office to sustain. He interrupts and destroys the security and peace which he is bound to promote, and grasps at an authority and dominion that do not belong to him. He uses his sword therefore for personal and sinister objects, and against the ends for which it is designed ; and accordingly is not crowned, but only obtains a greater sword, by which his power to destroy is increased. And in thus taking peace from the earth, he prepares the way for his own destruction. As he conspires against others and slays them, so he is himself conspired against, and thus usurper supplants usurper, and the slaughter of one set of favorites and adherents is quickly followed by the slaughter of another. This symbol also
like the former is taken from military and political life in the Roman empire. Such destroyers of peace and fomentors of slaughter were the long train of conspirators and usurpers that rapidly followed each other from the beginning of the reign of Commodus to the accession of Diocletian; and the individual taken for the symbol is perhaps Quadratus the first in the series, who attempted the assassination of the emperor in the year 183. After Quadratus, Perennis, Maternus, and Cleander having been thwarted in their designs on his life, the plot of Lætus at length succeeded in the year 192. Pertinax who was chosen his successor was immediately conspired against by one of the consuls, and at the end of three months beheaded by the prætorian guards, to whom he owed his elevation. The election of Julian in his place was contested by Albinus in Britain, Niger in Syria, and Severus in Pannonia. Severus having destroyed his competitors Julian, Albinus and Niger, was plotted against by his son Caracalla. On the accession of Caracalla and Geta, to whom he left the empire, they conspired against each other. Caracalla, after having assassinated Geta, became the victim of his ministers. Macrinus his successor soon fell in the contest with his rival Elagabalus. In less than two years Elagabalus was assassinated by his guards. After a short reign his successor Alexander Severus was conspired against by Maximin and slain. The two Gordians whom the senate elevated as successors to Severus, met a speedy death. Maximin was in the beginning of the fourth year of his reign assassinated by his own troops, and Maximus and Balbinus the successors of the Gordians at Rome, slaughtered by the prætorian guards. The third Gordian was soon dispatched by his successor Philip.3 After a reign of five years Philip was slain in a battle with Decius, whom the legions of Mæsia had invested with the purple. Against Gallus, who on the fall of Decius in the war with the Goths was chosen his successor, Emilianus a successful rival soon rose; and Emilianus, at the end of four months, was dis
1 Gibbon's Hist. Decl. and Fall, chap. iv. * Gibbon's Hist. chap. vi. vii.
Gibbon's Hist., chap. v.
patched by his competitor Valerian. After the capture of that prince by the Persians, the throne of his son Gallienus was attempted during the eight following years by nineteen usurpers. On the death of Gallienus, the sceptre of Claudius, whom he had nominated his successor, was contested by Areolus : and during the reign of Aurelian, the next in the train, numerous aspirants contended for the empire both in the west and in the east, and revolts continued to mark the short reigns which followed, with the exception of that of Carus, till on the assassination of his son Carinus, the empire submitted to Diocletian.'
These usurpers and rivals took peace from the earth. They not only rendered the throne and life of the monarch insecure, and the fortunes and lives also of all his powerful adherents, but spread terror, devastation, and slaughter through the whole empire. With the chief fell also his partisans whose station or agency rendered them objects of fear or resentment. The contests between the legions were civil wars, and carried all the mischiefs of a defeat to the provinces whose candidate proved unsuccessful. The magistrates who had favored him were treated as traitors, and the inhabitants surrendered as a legitimate prey to the exasperated passions of the soldiers.
For the counterpart to the military and political agent in this symbol, we are, as in the former instance, to look to the religious world. As the symbolized agents are not of the same class as the symbol, but of an analogous species, they are not an order that literally bear a sword and gain their victories by force, but that conquer by persuasion and authority, and whose dominion therefore is religious, not military and political. And they are of the Christian church, as there have been no other religious teachers since the date of the visions, that have not relied chiefly or wholly on mere force for the propagation of their doctrines. The pagans employed it to sustain theirs at the period of the revelation, and for several ages after. The Mahometans, the only authors of a new religion, relied on the sword to spread their faith, and propagated it only as they conquered. But the only official weapons of the Christian teachers are those of persuasion and authority. The agents whom the symbol denotes are teachers therefore of the church.
To slay one another with the sword being to destroy by violence,-as the counterpart of the natural life is the spiritual,lo destroy each other's spiritual life by violence, is to sentence to an exclusion from salvation by what is deemed an authoritative act; and in a still higher sense, to compel one another by the power of their office to embrace an apostate religion, by which they naturally and necessarily perish.
* Gibbon's Hist. chap. x. xi. xii.
Gibbon's Hist. chap. v.
What class then of teachers and rulers is there in the church, in whose agency these peculiarities meet ;-a usurpation of powers which Christ has not authorized, an interception thereby of religious peace from the earth, and finally a compulsion of men to apostasy in order to confirm and perpetuate that
All these are conspicuous characteristics of diocesan bishops, especially of the Asiatic, African, Greek, and Latin churches.
The bishops of the churches instituted by the apostles were not a separate order from presbyters, as is manifest from the appropriation of the titles bishop and presbyter as equivalent to each other to the same individuals, and the omission in the New Testament of all notice of the institution or existence of a diocesan order. Nor were diocesans introduced into the church until a long period after the apostolic age, manifestly from the fact that no ecclesiastical writings that are entitled to be regarded as genuine, of an earlier date than the latter part of the second century, present any indications of their existence.
As no spacious edifices were erected by Christians for their worship during the first two centuries, and it was inexpedient in seasons of persecution to assemble in large bodies, the converts in the cities were distributed into several congregations which met in the synagogues of the Jews, in private houses, in apartments appropriated to schools, and at length in cemeteries, caves, and other secluded places, where they might hope to escape the notice of their enemies; and the number of presbyters accordingly was increased in proportion to the separate assemblies.
The whole of the communicants of the several congregations of a city were considered as one church, and all their presbyters as presbyters of that church, though each probably statedly taught in a particular assembly. The presbyters were of equal authority. No one had any official precedence of the others. No one had any higher power over his own particular congregation, than each of the others over his. Nor had any one any
That is implied in the letter of Clemens to the Corinthians, written probably within a short period after the Apocalypse. It is not easy to see how a faction could have ejected some of the presbyters of that church from their stations, except by gaining a majority in the congregations in which they taught. He represents it as the work of a party, not of the church at large.