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words as of the first,) I BEHELD, AND LO, a black horse. It is not said to be another; and it appeared immediately on the scene without the marked sequence which distinguished the succession of the second to the first. These peculiarities have specially to be regarded: for they shew. a marked and manifest difference, or a positive contradistinction in the manner in which the second and third seals are introduced, as seen and characterized in the prophecy.
The want of light is darkness; the reverse of white is black. The word of God giveth light ;where it shineth there is no darkness; where it is followed all is pure and white. They that follow Jesus do not walk in darkness, but have the light of life. It is through the word which he hath spoken that believers are clean. It is in the blood of the Lamb that they are made white, and of him that men are invited to buy white raiment that they may be clothed. The light of the body is the eye, said the Son of God; if, therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If, therefore, the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness. Contrasted thus with the purity of the gospel, the light of his word, and the consequent whiteness characteristic of the people over whom Jesus reigned by hris word and Spirit, where, in past history, occupying a place in equal prominency with Mahometanism, and giving a character to an era and the name of dark to ages, is that form of religion to be found, which, after the faith of Mahomet was propagated in the world, appeared under its appropriate designation black, and was then also farther characterised by the yoke which it imposed upon the world.
The papacy has here its first place in the book of the Revelation of the things that were to be. It was a system of spiritual blackness and bondage. The mystery of iniquity began to work even in the days of the apostles. But though idolatry and wickedness greatly prevailed, and transgressions had come to the full at that time, it was after the origin of Mahometanism that the corruption of Christian doctrines, the exclusion of the Scriptures from the people, systematic image-worship, trust in others than the one only Mediator, and the exaltation of the papacy to rule over the abject mind till the light that was in it was darkness, that the Roman catholic faith put on its gross darkness, and appeared as only black. Neither is the Roman catholic faith like the Mahometan, professedly another than the Christian; nor did it go forth for the first time after the prevalence of Islamism; but the black horse, like the white in the days of the apostle, was seen immediately on the field of view, when Mahometanism had just been described. The ten kingdoms may have previously been given into the hands of the pope, but the doctrine of the church was not so corrupted then, nor was that heavy yoke to be seen which it afterwards imposed, After the authority of the pope was established, confirmed, and generally exercised, the church over which he ruled became black indeed. As a form of faith it became darker and darker, throughout the long period of the “dark ages, while it reigned triumphant, till the tenth century, which Roman catholic writers themselves characterise as "the age of darkness and ignorance."* Blackness is its fitting symbol, and marks its character as a religion. The Bible was long unknown in the vulgar tongue, and the word of God was only to be believed in, as interpreted by a succession of mortals, whose changeable decisions were marked
with all the weakness and blindness of humanity. The light of the gospel was hid, and dark superstition took its place. The mind was muffled, like the face of a nun.
The commandments of men, or as avowed the commandments of the church,” were held of as high authority as the word of God. Its brightness was obscured; its whiteness was tarnished; the word that could have made men clean, was kept from them; and, when it was hid by human art from the eyes of men, and when at the same time the exercise of private judgment was taken away, the mind was necessarily turned into blackness; and when popery reigned triumphant, an ignorance even of the first principles of natural religion, came over the minds of men, such as paganism itself could not have deepened. How, in this respect, do the writings of heathens put to shame many a popish legend. What one word but black, could designate the church, when documents were attested by a mark, because my lord the archbishop could not write, and when a bishop reading the Bible could say that he knew nothing of the book but that it was written against them; or, to adopt a more general illustration, when saints were invoked as intercessors, when penances were done for crimes, when indulgences were granted for money, and, as the cause of all, when the Bible was a sealed book.
The religion of Mahomet took peace from the earth; but popery for a long period extinguished the light of the Gospel, and imposed a yoke upon the world. According to its prevalence darkness reigned, and the soul was enslaved. All right of appealing to Scripture was withheld from the laity; and it formed the least part of the studies of the clergy. The opinion of the church, instead of the Scriptures of truth, became the rule of faith ;.and the least variation in doctrine from its standard for the time, was branded as heretical. Contrary to the example of the apostles, there arose lords over God's heritage. The popes claimed infallibility as their own. Every opinion was judged, every doctrine weighed, according to the balance held in the hand of him who ruled over a dark and apostate church. In one scale lay the opinion of the church, the decision of councils, or the canon law; in the other, all private sentiments were laid; and if the latter either fell short or preponderated a single scruple, if the balance swayed a hair's breadth, or, in other words, if men did not believe as the church of Rome believed, they were denounced as guilty of error, and the dictates of conscience, or the authority of Scripture, were no more regarded than dust in the balance. So appropriate is the simile, that Gibbon speaks of “the nice balance of the Vatican."
It is not then from want of an apposite illustration that we would prefer another reading than that of the English translation, but in more direct conformity with the original. The term, a pair of balances, or a balance, does not once occur again in the whole of the new Testament; but the original word (Zugos) occurs repeatedly, and is uniformly translated yoke. Take my yoke upon you, said the Lord Jesus Christ, speaking of his religion and of the duty he imposes, for my yoke (zugos) is easy and my burden is light, (Matt. xi. 29, 30.) Speaking of the rite of circumcision, and the burdensome ceremonies of the Jewish law, Peter sharply rebuked those converted Jews who wished to impose such rites upon the Gentiles, (Acts xv. 10.). Why tempt ye God to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? Addressing the Galatians (chap. v. 1) on the very same subject, Paul thus commands Christians, as being the children not of the bond-woman but of the free, -Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty wherewith Christ has made
us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. In reference to a state of temporal bondage it is said, (1 Tim. vi. 1,) Let as many servants (or slaves) as are under the yoke, count their own masters worthy of all honour. · In all these instances the word translated yoke, is the very same as the word in our text, and he that sat on him had a yoke in his hand.
The apostle Peter reproved his brethren of Israel for seeking to impose the yoke of Jewish ceremonies and ordinances on any Christian converts. The Apostle Paul declares that he was afraid of the Galatian church lest he had bestowed on them labour in vain, as they desired again to be in bondage to the weak and beggarly elements, and observed days, and months, and times, and years. The history of the papal church gives no illustration of such freedom, purity, and faith, as the apostles practised and enjoined. The pretended successors of Peter imposed on all a far heavier yoke than that which he would not suffer to be laid on any disciple. And the Romish religion greatly consists in the observance of days, and months, and times, and years. With the introduction of the pomp of ceremonies, a way was prepared for the slavish subjection of the church to a multitude of superstitious rites.
Unlike to the Mahometan religion, which owed its origin to its founder alone, and which was speedily completed by each succeeding chapter of the Koran, the Roman catholic faith grew by slow degrees, and did not attain to all its darkness, or impose its yoke in all its heaviness, till after the lapse of many ages.
It was long after the church was first given into his hand that the yoke which finally characterised catholicism, was seen in all its strength in the hand of the pope. As the darkness increased, the yoke gradually became heavier. In the seventh century, “Every Roman pontiff,” true to his character, “added something