1And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. 2And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. 3And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. 4And 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. 5And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.
6And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine. 7And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. 8And 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. 9And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 10And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
11And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled. 12And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; 13And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. 14And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; 16And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: 17For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
It treats of the exploration of those on whom the Last Judgment is to be executed; and exploration is made as to what the quality of their understanding of the Word had been and thence the quality of their state of life. That there were those who were in truths from good (verses 1, 2); those who were without good (verses 3, 4); those who were in contempt of truth (verses 5, 6); and those who were totally vastated both as to good and truth (verses 7, 8). Of the state of those who were guarded by the Lord in the lower earth, on account of the evil, and were to be delivered at the time of the Last Judgment (verses 9-11). Of the state of those who were in evils and thence in falsities, what it is at the day of the Last Judgment (verses 12-17).
Verse 1. “And I saw when the Lamb had opened the first of the seals,”
Exploration by the Lord of all those upon whom the Last Judgment was about to come as to their understanding of the Word, and thence as to their states of life.
“And I heard one of the four animals saying, as with a voice of thunder,”
According to the Divine truth of the Word.
“Come and look,”
A manifestation concerning the first in order.
Verse 2. “And I saw, and behold, a white horse,”
The understanding of truth and good from the Word with these.
“And he that sat upon him had a bow,”
They had the doctrine of truth and good from the Word, from which they fought against the falsities and evils which are from hell.
“And a crown was given unto him,”
Their badge of combat.
“And he went forth conquering, and to conquer,”
Victory over evils and falsities to eternity.
Verse 3. “And when He had opened the second seal, I heard the second animal saying, Come and look,”
Signifies the same here as above.
Verse 4. “And there went out another horse that was red,”
The understanding of the Word destroyed as to good, and thence as to life, with these.
“And it was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth,”
The taking away of charity, spiritual security, and internal rest.
“And that they should kill one another,”
Intestine hatreds, infestations from the hells, and internal unrest.
“And there was given unto him a great sword,”
The destruction of truth by falsities of evil.
Verse 5. “And when He had opened the third seal, I heard the third animal saying, Come and look,”
The same here as above.
“And I saw, and behold, a black horse,”
The understanding of the Word destroyed with these as to truth, and thus as to doctrine.
“And he that sat upon him had a balance in his hand,”
The estimation of good and truth, what it was with these.
Verse 6. “And I heard a voice in the midst of the four animals saying,”
The Divine guarding of the Word by the Lord.
“A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny,”
Because the estimation of good and truth is so small as to be scarcely anything.
“And hurt not the oil and the wine,”
It is provided by the Lord, that the holy goods and truths which lie interiorly concealed in the Word, should not be violated and profaned.
Verse 7. “And when He had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth animal saying, Come and look,”
Signifies the same here as above.
Verse 8. “And I saw, and behold, a pale horse,”
The understanding of the Word destroyed both as to good and as to truth.
“And his name that sat upon him was Death, and hell followed with him,”
The extinction of spiritual life and thence damnation.
“And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill,”
Signifies the destruction of all good in the church.
“With sword, and with hunger, and with death, and by the beasts of the earth,”
By falsities of doctrine, by evils of life, by the love of the proprium, and by lusts.
Verse 9. “And when He had opened the fifth seal,”
Exploration by the Lord of the states of life of those who were to be saved at the day of the Last Judgment, and were in the meantime reserved.
“I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held,”
Those who were rejected by the evil on account of their life according to the truths of the Word, and their acknowledgment of the Lord’s Divine Human, and who were guarded by the Lord lest they be seduced.
Verse 10. “And they cried with a great voice,”
Grief of heart.
“Saying, How long, O Lord, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?”
By reason that the Last Judgment is delayed, and that they who offer violence to the Word and to the Lord’s Divine are not removed.
Verse 11. “And white robes were given unto each of them,”
Their communication and conjunction with angels who are in Divine truths.
“And it was said, that they should rest yet for a little while, until their fellow-servants also, and their brethren, that would be killed as they were, should be fulfilled,”
The Last Judgment would yet be delayed a little, till they should be collected, who were in like manner rejected by the evil.
Verse 12. “And I saw when He had opened the sixth seal,”
Exploration by the Lord of their state of life, who were interiorly evil, upon whom the judgment was about to come.
“And behold, there was a great earthquake,”
The state of the church with those totally changed, and terror.
“And the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood,”
The adulteration of all the good of love with them, and the falsification of all the truth of faith.
Verse 13. “And the stars fell unto the earth,”
The dispersion of all the knowledges of good and truth.
“Even as a fig tree casteth its unripe figs, when shaken by a great wind,”
By the reasonings of the natural man separated from the spiritual.
Verse 14. “And the heaven departed as a book rolled together,”
Separation from heaven and conjunction with hell.
“And every mountain and island were moved out of their places,”
All the good of love and truth of faith departed.
Verse 15. “And the kings of the earth, and the great ones, and the rich, and the rulers of thousands, and the mighty, and every servant, and every freeman,”
Those who, before separation, were in the understanding of truth and good, in the science of the knowledges thereof, in erudition, either from others or from themselves, and yet not in a life according to them.
“Hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains,”
They were now in evils and in falsities of evil.
Verse 16. “And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall upon us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth upon the throne, and from the anger of the Lamb,”
Confirmations of evil by falsities from evil, until they did not acknowledge any Divine of the Lord.
Verse 17. “Because the great day of His anger is come, and who shall be able to stand?”
They had become such of themselves by separation from the good and the faithful on account of the Last Judgment, which otherwise they could not endure.
Author: Emanuel Swedenborg (Apocalypse Revealed)
THE PROCESSION OF HORSES WHEN THE BOOK WAS OPENED.
IN the sixth chapter of the Book of Revelation, and at the second verse, you will find the Word of the Lord thus written:and I saw, and behold a white horse; and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him; and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
The horse, the special invaluable companion of man in toil and in triumph, appear; also frequently in the heavenly scenes recorded in the Bible. You will remember Elisha surrounded by the horses of fire and chariots of fire. In this Book of Revelation the horse often appears. All the angels are said to follow the Lord upon white horses. They are not mentioned as distinctive or separate beings, but revelations were made by them as images or symbols in the eternal world–representations of the subject of thought, and of prophecy concerning the things of the Lords Church and kingdom.
On the present occasion, the horses spoken of are said to have come out of a Book.
There was, first, an opening of the cook, and a white horse was seen to come forth; and then a second opening, and a red horse came forth, which took peace from the earth; thirdly, another opening, and a black horse; and then ultimately there came forth a pale horse, and he that sat on him was called Death; and hell, it is said, followed after him.
It is perfectly evident that, as we have said, the manner of instruction in the eternal world, by signs and representations, is exhibited here. It will also be evident that the same law of correspondences which prevails in the world of nature, and in the interpretation of the hallowed volume of heaven, will serve to explain the Divine things which are represented here before us. However mysterious they seem at first sight, a little reflection will enable us, with complete clearness, to behold their lessons of heavenly wisdom. For, although, perhaps, at first sight there would seem to be no particularly close connection between a horse and anything of a spiritual character, yet the intellect is a mental horse. Consider the use of the horse for bodily travel, and of the intellect for mental progress, and you will see its practical value in a thousand different ways.
In fact, almost the very first time a horse is mentioned in the Bible it is mentioned manifestly with a spiritual application. You will find it in Genesis xlix. 17, where it is said: Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.
Now every one will see that Dan, one of the tribes of Israel, was certainly not a serpent of a LITERAL KIND in the path; and he certainly did not bite the horses heels, nor make his rider fall backward. If, however, we ask ourselves a little whether there is not some faculty in the human being, and in relation to spiritual things, which performs the office of a horse, we shall not have very much difficulty in discovering both what it does, and what it is. The office of a horse is that of assisting the earthly traveler to go conveniently, comfortably, and rapidly on his way. We can easily understand that just as there are earthly ways by means of which we go from one part of a city or country to another, and if well made, we go comfortably; so there are spiritual roads, royal paths of Divine truth, highways, by means of which we can pass from state to state of intelligence and wisdom. There is a faculty which enables us to do this most readily and commodiously–the faculty of the UNDERSTANDING, or what, in other words, is denominated the intellectual faculty of the mind–the power of thought, by means of which, when we vigorously exert it, we go upon the path of truth, make rapid progress, and come to our desired end.
We soon perceive this–and, in fact, it is so natural, that it is not only capable of being readily illustrated in the Divine Word, but it has found its way into language in every direction. How common is it for us, when a person is going on with some series of arguments without due consideration, and we say Stop a little; dont you gallop on so fast. Just rest a while, and let us consider this matter a little more perfectly. When a person has, by clear argument, won his cause, he is said to ride off in triumph. The ancients had a fine fable founded on this spiritual meaning of the HORSE.
Pegasus, they said, was a winged horse, born at a fountain near the sea. It flew to Mount Helicon, and with its hoof broke the cover of the fountain of truth, whose waters streamed forth, to the delight of the Nine Muses who had their temple there, and covered the earth with beauty. Intellectual progress corresponds to the progress of a good horse. And now we shall easily perceive a meaning to that apparently mysterious reference to Dan. When a selfish person is engaged in seeking out his particular ends, he endeavors so to disturb the facts of a case that the judge may decide in his favor, whether it is right or wrong. He thus bites at the horses heels; the meddles with the evidences, and presents the statements so that they do not show fully and fairly what the truth is. Such persons do as Burns describes in one of his poems:
You’ll find mankind an unco squad,
And little to be trusted;
When SELF the wavering balance shakes,
Tis rarely right adjusted.
Now it is precisely the same thing that a person does when he tries to have the case turned round and round, till he has got it in his own selfish favor, however unjust this tampering with the truth may be. He bites the horses heels, and makes his rider fall backward. In various other places of the Word we shall see this correspondence of the horse recognized. In fact, it is quite plain when we meditate a little upon it, so that it can be readily perceived by a thoughtful mind. You will find it very often referred to in this sense in the sacred volume. Take, for instance, Zec. x. 3, 4: The Lord of Hosts hath visited His flock, the house of Judah, and hath made them as His GOODLY HORSE in the battle. Out of him came forth the corner, out of him the nail, out of him the battle-bow, out of him every oppressor together.
Now the only way in which the house of Judah could be made into a goodly horse must be the spiritual one of giving them a GOODLY INTELLECT, enabling Judah to see what was grand and right.
And then it is true, out of him comes forth the corner, out of him comes forth the nail, out of him the battle-bow, out of him every oppressor (or conqueror) together, because persons represented by Judah are those who love the Lord, and desire to carry out His ways. When such as truly love the Lord are also men of culture intellectually, they see their way in all the paths of truth with clearness and reason. Out of them comes forth the corner–the connecting truth which combines the sides of truth one with another, and firmly joins the various parts of a system into one strong fortress. Out of him comes forth the nail. When rational convictions are seen to be in perfect harmony with heavenly wisdom, there come confirming proofs from the Holy Word that nail them down. Not only does a devout, true, and heaven-enlightened mind delight to show what truth is, and illustrate it in a variety of ways, but is diligent to supply the authority of Holy Writ. Thus saith the Lord is a Divine nail to fasten the lesson down.
Out of him comes the corner, out of him the nail. In this way the sacred Word brings the sacred horse in its spiritual character before us, and in this may it is mentioned in our text. It is a disclosure that was made to the seers spiritual vision of the various stages by which the Church would gradually sink from its early purity and nobility of character, through stage after stage of descent, through selfishness, strife, ignorance and darkness, until it arrived at a state of being dead yet having still a name that it lived.
Zeal for God and godliness being the pretense, the real aims being desires for power and pelf. That is the state of evil represented by the pale horse. Pale is not the color of life, but the color of death. On an INTELLECT corrupted by hypocrisy death rides–mischief, misery, and ruin, signified by hell, following after.
Let us, however, a little more closely attend to the description of the first horse in the precise words of our text: And I say, and behold a white horse. White is the color of truth, because it is the color of light. Light for the mind is Divine Truth. Arise, shine, for thy light is come, it is said; and the glory of the Lord hath arisen upon thee.
The first horse represents the intellectual power in the human mind when the Christian Church was young, and the disciples genuine and sincere. Intellectual power at first was combined with simplicity of character and fervor of love. The Lord Jesus had taught two grand things–love to God above all things, that of the heart and soul, and mind and strength. This, He said, is the first and great command, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself is the second, and like unto the first. He had taught that the essence of all religion is constituted in those two great things, and they believed Him. This was their faith. His earnest disciples take these principles ill simplicity, and in life and death carry them out. They did not trouble themselves with elaborate creeds and hair-splitting definitions. Christ was in their hearts and clearness in their minds. Their horse was the white horse, simple, strong, one of Gods fair creatures, carrying out its beautiful paces,. enabling its rider to advance on the path of truth just as if he were on a goodly charger. Men at that time loved God manifested in the flesh, and said, In Jesus Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. Ye are complete in Him, as the Apostle continued. You do not need to seek another unknown, incomprehensible Deity. You are complete in the Lord Jesus Christ. He forgives, He enlightens, He strengthens, He saves. He is the Godhead, the Head of all principality and power. You ask, What, then, are we to do? Love Him with all your hearts, and do His will. Cultivate charity to your brethren. Be sure He will give you power to do so. Do not stand hesitating and imagining how long a life of goodness you must live in order to get to heaven. Heaven begins with you as soon as you SINCERELY begin to live the life of heaven. The Lord Jesus said, Unless your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall is no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. If ye love Me, keep My commandments. There were no complicated or dark notions of perplexing mysteries. They rode on a white horse. They knew they could overcome evil, because the Lord said, I give you power to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Their heathen friends and neighbors said, How these Christians love one another. Even their persecutors were compelled to say, find no harm in these people. They wont do sacrifices to idols; they wont worship the Emperor; they simply urge one another to keep Gods will, to be honest, to be pure, to be upright, and so they manifested to all the world that their Master was a Divine Savior.
He made new men of them, and built them up for heaven. This was the time is which they rode on the white horse, and they went forth conquering and to conquer. If Christianity is again to go forth triumphantly, it must go upon the same white horse.
In Rev. xix. 11 you will find St. John says: And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True; and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written that no man knew but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood; and his name is called the Word of God. And the armies which were with heaven followed upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. That is to say, he saw the Lord was going to introduce ultimately a new state of things in the world, by which men should be enlightened, have understanding by which they should see clearly and simply that the Lord only desires this: Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God in all the ways of life.
And now allow me: my beloved friends, to ask, before we go further: Are we all furnished with our white horses? What sort of a horse are you riding on? These are not vain things; they are Divine lessons. There are three sorts of riding spoken of–in fact, four; but three more especially in the Divine Word that it will be profitable for us to think of for a moment.
First, the riding upon a white horse; and he who has got a noble white horse has got a noble plan of life. How are you advancing to the good time? The Lord Himself reveals a grand plan, that we, by the new birth, by persistently following His Divine will, may become like Him. Be ye perfect (He said), even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect. Do not heed those persons who say you cannot keep all the commandments of God. You can begin, and you will be imperfect at first, but you will improve as you advance. Why call ye Me Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say? We must, therefore, if we would go in the way of the Lord, begin and form a plan of life. We must love every noble purpose–love to become angels; love to realize heaven at home; have a plan of life and go upon it, arid we shall be like the victorious knight going on his white horse, overcoming all that comes in his way that would arrest his path, and riding victoriously, going on conquering and to conquer.
The ass is sometimes mentioned in Scripture as a means of travel, too, because the horse is the beautiful symbol of a noble, spiritual intellect moving towards heaven. The ass represents an intellect, but only regarding earthly things, and therefore you will find in the same chapter to which I referred when speaking of the first mention of the horse (Gen. xlix), it is said in the 14th verse, Issachar is a strong ass crouching down between two burdens. And this is exactly the way with everyone who lives only for the world.
The world deceives when most it charms;
It teems with sorrows, sins, and harms.
Compared with the spiritual aims of life, the man who pursues nature only is riding on an ass instead of a horse. A man that does not heed spiritual and eternal matters becomes a burden to himself, wearied and worn, tired of himself and all things, living for nothing. His life has two burdens. Disappointed hopes form one burden. Dreams fulfilled, which turn out worthless, form another. His days are burdensome, He has seen and enjoyed life, and there is nothing in it. He is worn out. He has no pleasure now, and none before him.
There is a third class. They do not ride either a horse or an ass, but only a hobby. They adopt some fancy, and magnify it, and ride it to death. Some of our scientific men at the present day, having won for themselves esteem and admiration for eminent services in their own field, seem strangely prone to rush into the field of religion, to show how life can arise from no life, effects can be greater than causes, creation without a Creator. This is neither riding on a horse nor an ass. It is simply riding a hobby.
The spiritually-minded man, however, desires no hobby; he longs only for the truth. He is not content with an ass only, he desires a noble white horse. He feels and sees that he has hopes and affections above the things of time and sense. He has longings for immortality, aims that only eternity can gratify. The world to him is a school, a nursery, a training-place, a field of battle against evils in himself. His intellect yearns for God, for pure truth, pure goodness, self-denying, virtue. He perceives a whole world of thought and experience of which the mere worldling knows nothing. To him revelation discloses continual themes for contemplation, continual realms of wisdom to be won, fallacies to be dispersed, and evils to be slain. He rides the white horse, on the narrow, but noble way, that leads to life.
The rider on the white horse had a bow in his hand, the symbol of TRUE DOCTRINE.
There is a sort of religion that conforms to general sentiment, and falls in with general ceremony, but is aimless.
Those who are content with this kind of profession will readily admit in general that we are all sinners, and readily adopt the language of the Litany: O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable sinners, but never really charge themselves with sin.
They may be avaricious, quarrelsome, censorious, envious, self-seeking, and self-indulgent, careless about public good, careless to combat public abuses; but they never reflect upon these sins, or condemn them in themselves.
They need the ARROWS of conviction; guided by, the BOW OF DOCTRINE.
Arrows, in a bid sense, are the bitter words that rankle and torture, of which the Psalmist speaks (Psalm lxiv. 3). Arrows, in a good sense, are the weighty words of Holy Writ, directed by sound doctrine and striking on our special faults and shortcomings.
He who rides upon the white horse knows how to aim. He has a bow in his hand, and drives his admonitions home.
He knows that no enemies are so dangerous to a man as his own evils, and, desiring the real good of himself and others, he is faithful to wound, but loving to heal.
Such were Christians in the early days, but such they did not remain.
They went forth conquering and to conquer; but when the radiance of Christian light covered nations and reached thrones, ambition came into the Church.
In the days of Constantine, when the emperor found it politic to unite Christianity to his throne, the greatest self-seeking influences began to agitate the Church, as in the days when the disciples were unconverted. Ambition stalked through the Church, with its creed and its claim for domination: Who is for Arius, who for Athahasius? Which is the greatest bishopric, Rome or Constantinople? Persecution then arose in the Church, Christians persecuting Christians–more fearful persecutions than the world had ever before beheld.
This spirit was the red horse, which would take peace from the earth, or from the Church. Horrible passions were excited, and inquisitions engendered in the name of the Prince of Peace. They slew one another, charity waxed cold, and iniquity abounded. Religion became a thing to quarrel over, with intemperate zeal for crotchets, instead of being Gods means of eradicating hate and evil, and transforming once more the world into paradise.
Then came another horse, A BLACK HORSE. This represents the dark ignorance into which the Church fell in the middle ages. Political Christianity taught that ignorance is the mother of devotion, and therefore the more ignorant the people were, the more easy it would be to rule them. The Word was kept out of the hands of the people, and that to such an extent that in this country, in the days of Richard II, it was death by law for a man below the rank of a knight to read the Bible.
From the seventh century to the sixteenth, the date of setting the Word of God free once more, we can with difficulty realize the depth of the darkness. It was thick darkness. The highest positions in the religious world were frequently occupied by the worst of men. Vile popes, bishops, and archbishops, were appointed by the vilest of women. Fighting popes and fighting bishops led armies, more like bandit captains than the pure disciples of the Prince of Peace.
Then a thorough mixture of heathenism and Christianity took place, giving rise to a system of regarding all the falsities of barbarian ignorance as quite sacred, if ticketed with Christian names.
Then the Babylonish idea of Queen of Heaven, denounced by the prophets (Jer. xliv. 17) was adopted, and called Virgin Mary. The heathen idea was retained of local gods and goddesses doing wonders at particular wells, mountains, and other so-called sacred places. Marvelous powers and virtues were attributed to dolls of various sizes, to dead peoples bones, toe-nails, hairs, and the remnants and rags of reputed saints, frequently only eccentric and insane people. A system was thus engendered as foreign to the teaching of the New Testament as darkness is to light. Co-existent with this darkness were cruelties of every kind, and wars as ferocious as those waged by the merest savagery.
The dark places of the earth were full of cruelty (Ps. lxxiv. 20).
Persecutions more rife, more horrible, more persistent, more continuous a thousand times than the world had ever sustained before, were perpetrated by so-called Christians; while famine, pestilence, and universal wretchedness, were the result of the universal ignorance.
Then was the time of the black horse. Not only was the Word of God unknown generally by the priests, but their prayer-books were run over as so much mummery, not understood.
King Alfred declares in his work on the Duties of Pastors that he could find very few priests north of the Humber who were able to translate the Latin service into the common language of the people, and south of the Thames not one.
Two hundred years afterwards William of Malmesbury thus writes: When the Normans first came over, the greater number of the English clergy could hardly read the church service, and that, as for anything like learning, they were nearly to a man destitute of it. If one of them understood grammar, he was admired and wondered at by the rest as a prodigy. Many of the nobility, he says, had given up attending Divine service in churches altogether, and used to have matins and mass said to them in their chambers while they lay in bed, and as fast as the priests could hurry them over. They were universally given to gluttonous feeding and drunkenness.
Other nations were in a similar condition. It was the time of the BLACK HORSE.
The balance in the hand of the rider, and the small price announced for the wheat and the barley, represent the small value then regarded as the worth of goodness and truth. A measure of the wheat of heavenly charity, the full corn in the ear, only worth a penny, the smallest Roman silver coin. Three measures of barley, the entire truth of the letter of the Word, valued also at a penny.
See thou hurt not the oil and the wine represents the caution of Divine Providence to preserve the inward truths of Revelation from being profaned.
These are the oil of joy (Isa. lxii. 2), the new wine of the kingdom (Matt. xxvi. 29). Ignorance overlooks these things, and so does not plunge into deadlier evils still. Such is the description of the dense darkness into which the Church would sink, and, in fact, did sink.
With the prophetic vision on the one hand, and the records of history on the other, we can see with the clearness of light, and with the sureness of certainty, that all these things have happened. Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
After a time, however, the horrors of such universal depravity and blindness became intolerable, and a persuasion began to prevail in the Church and the world that, for the sake of example to the people in general, reverence for religion must be professed, though it was not felt. A season of hypocrisy set in. This was riding the PALE HORSE–the whiteness of death, not of life; the state of the whited sepulcher.
The Pope who built St. Peters, Leo X., was well known to be a jeering unbeliever. This condition increased and extended until, at the time of the French Revolution, the great mass of the rulers in Church and State were utterly infidel, but with the solemn pretense of sanctimonious regard for religion, as a superior kind of police.
Hell was said to follow this rider; that is, such wide-spread profligacy and villany were manifested everywhere, that hell upon earth was, the result. Nothing but truth can vanquish sin and slavery.
If truth be neglected, repelled, or profaned, impiety will rear its head in horrid forms, pride and passion will assert themselves everywhere, and universal pollution, strife, war, and bitterness, proclaim the reign of self. Only truth can restore the blessed reign of virtue, piety, purity, and peace. No pretenses or hypocrisies can accomplish this. In France, the philosophers, so called, tried hard to do this. They set up a worship of their own, adopted a rest day, one in ten, instead of Sunday, but it all fell into helplessness and contempt. The Lord Himself had provided a remedy, by revealing Divine Truth afresh, and providing a new Church. The intellect would be brightened anew. Great truths long discarded would be revealed afresh. This is represented in the 19th chapter by the appearance again of the WHITE HORSE, a heaven-enlightened intellect. An intellect bright with light would vanquish the pale hypocrisy of make-believe and deceit. I saw heaven opened (says St. John), and behold a WHITE HORSE. He that sat on him is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He doth judge and make war. It is the Lord Himself the King of kings and Lord of lords. He appears by and in His Word. His name is called the Word of God (Rev. xix. 13).
The sword that comes out of His mouth, the truth that comes out of His Word, makes war upon all folly, transgression, and crime, upon that which induces wrong and wretchedness.
His vesture has been dipped in blood; the letter of His Word has been violated and profaned; but now, in harmony with its Spirit, it will everywhere proclaim love to God and love to man. Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, goodwill towards men.
While this general enlightenment proceeds, the individual followers of the Savior will follow Him on white horses. They will be clothed in white linen, pure and clean; their sentiments pure, their lives pure. They will follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. In other words, His precepts and His example will lead them, and be sufficient for them in all things. Intelligently good, lovingly wise, riding each on his white horse, of an enlightened intellect, they will go forth conquering and to conquer until every abuse, every crime, and every sorrow–man-made misery, though self-created from opposition to Divine law, called, from its pain, the fierceness and wrath of God–shall die out; and none shall hurt nor destroy in all Gods holy mountain (Isaiah xi. 9).
Author: JONATHAN BAYLEY—– THE MAGNIFICENT SCENES IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION (1878)