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*** What was shown upon
the opening of the first seal?NOTE. As the
number seven in the Scriptures denotes completion or perfection, it is
safe to say that the seven seals embrace the whole of a certain class of
events reaching down to the close of probationary time. The seven trumpets
are symbols of wars; but the seals denote events of a religious nature.
The symbol of a rider on a white horse, going forth conquering and to
conquer, is a fitting emblem of the triumphs of the gospel in the first
century of this dispensation.
“And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals,... 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.” Rev. 6:1, 2.
*** What went out upon
the opening of the second seal?NOTE. If the
whiteness of the first horse denoted the purity of the gospel which its
rider propagated, then the change of color in the second horse would show
that corruption had begun to creep in when this symbol applies. It is true
that such a state of things did succeed that apostolic church. Worldliness
came in. The church sought alliance with the secular power, and trouble
and commotion were the result. This symbol extends to the time of
Constantine, when a complete union of church and state was effected.
“And when he had opened the second seal,... 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.” Rev. 6:3, 4.
*** What was the color
of the symbol under the third seal?NOTE. The “black horse” fitly represents the spiritual darkness that
reigned in the church from the time of Constantine till the establishment
of the papacy in A.D. 538. Of the vain notions and gross errors that were
imbibed by the church during that period, Mosheim says: “Those vain
fictions, which an attachment to the Platonic philosophy and to popular
opinions had engaged the greatest part of the Christian doctors to adopt
before the time of Constantine, were now confirmed, enlarged, and
embellished in various ways. Hence arose that extravagant veneration for
departed saints, and those absurd notions of a certain fire destined to
purify separate souls, that now prevailed, and of which the public marks
were everywhere to be seen.” Ecclesiastical History , cent.
4, part 2, chap. 3, par.
“And 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.” Rev. 6:5.
*** What change was
seen in the symbol of the fourth seal?NOTE. This is
an unnatural color. The original denotes the pale or yellowish color seen
in blighted plants. The symbol evidently refers to the work of persecution
and death by the Roman Church upon the people everywhere. “And power
was given unto them.” This extended from A.D. 538 to the time when
the Reformers commenced their work of exposing the true character of the
“And when he had opened the fourth seal,... 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.” Rev. 6:7, 8.
*** On the opening of
the fifth seal, what was seen under the altar?NOTE. That
is, when the Reformers exposed the work of the papacy, it was then called
to mind how many martyrs had been slain for their faith.
“And 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.” Rev. 6:9.
*** What were these
martyrs represented as doing?
“And 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?” Rev. 6:10.
*** What was done for
these martyrs because they thus cried?NOTE. These
had been slain during the hundreds of years covered by the preceding seal.
Their persecutors had, most of them, at least, died. And if they had at
death passed to their punishment, as is by some supposed, why should the
martyred ones still importune for their punishment? In this, as in other
parts of the Bible, the figure of personification is used, and things that
are not represented as though they did exist. See Rom. 4:17. These martyrs
had gone down under the darkness and superstition of the preceding seal,
covered with ignominy and shame, as heretics. Now in the light of the
Reformation they are seen to have been righteous, and hence they are said
to have “white robes.” “The fine linen [white robes] is the
righteousness of saints.” Rev. 19:8. Righteousness is ascribed to
them, and when they have rested a little longer where they are, under the
altar, till all others who are to fall for their faith have followed them,
then together they will be raised to immortal glory.
“And white robes were given unto everyone of them; and it
was said unto them, That they Should rest yet for a little season, until
their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as
they were, should be fulfilled.” Rev. 6:11.
*** What was first seen
on the opening of the sixth seal?NOTE. This
unquestionably refers to the great earthquake of Nov. 1, 1755, which
covered 4,000,000 square miles. Lisbon, Portugal, which had before
contained 150,000 inhabitants, was almost entirely destroyed. It is
said that 90,000 persons perished on that occasion. (See Encyclopedia
Britannica.) As one writer has described it: The shock of the earthquake
“was instantly followed by the fall of every church and convent,
almost all the large public buildings, and one fourth of the houses. In
about two hours afterward, fires broke out in different quarters, and
raged with such violence for the space of nearly three days that the city
was completely desolated. The earthquake happened on a holy day, when the
churches and convents were ful1 of people, very few of whom escaped.” “The terror of the people was beyond description. Nobody wept: it was
beyond tears. They ran hither and thither, delirious with horror and
astonishment, beating their faces and breasts, crying, ’Misericordia!
the world’s at an end!’ Mothers forgot their children, and ran to the
churches for protection; but in vain was the sacrament exposed; in vain
did the poor creatures embrace the altars; images, priests, and people
were buried in one common ruin.” “Ninety thousand persons are
supposed to have been lost on that fatal day.”
“And I beheld when He had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there
was a great earthquake.” Rev. 6:12.
*** What was to follow
the great earthquake?NOTE. This
refers to the dark day and night of May 19, 1780, when the darkness and
gloom were such as to give the general opinion that the day of judgment
was at hand. See Pres. Dwight, in Connecticut Historical Collection, and
other authors quoted in reading, “Our Lord’s Great Prophecy.” page 35.
“And the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon
became as blood.” Rev. 6:12.
*** What was the next
event under this seal?NOTE. This
was fulfilled in the wonderful meteoric shower of Nov. 13, 1833.
Describing the scene in the vicinity of Niagara Falls, one writer says:
“No spectacle so terribly grand and sublime was ever before beheld by
man as that of the firmament descending in fiery torrents over the dark
and roaring cataract.” Our First Century , page 330.
“And 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.” Rev. 6:13.
Henry Dana Ward, writing for the Journal of Commerce, in regard
to the falling stars of Nov. 13, 1833, said (issue of Nov. 15, 1833):
“Were I to hunt through nature for a simile, I could not find one so
apt to illustrate the appearance of the heavens, as that which St. John
uses in the prophecy (Rev. 6:13). The falling stars did not come as if
from several trees shaken, but as from one; those which appeared in
the east, fell toward the east; those which appeared in the north, fell
toward the north; those which appeared in the west, fell toward the west;
and those which appeared in the south, fell toward the south. And they
fell not as the ripe fruit falls. Far from it; but they flew, they
were cast, like the unripe fruit which at first refuses to leave
the branch; and when, under a violent pressure, it does break its hold, it
flies swiftly, straight off, descending; and in the multitude falling,
some cross the track of others, as they are thrown with more or less
force; but each one falls on its own side of the tree.”
*** What was to follow
the sign of falling stars?NOTE. We are
now standing between the two the last of the of the signs in the heavens,
and the removal of the heavens and the solid earth out of their places.
The signs that mark the approach of the Saviour and the dissolution of
earthly things are all in the past, and the world awaits the sound of the
last trump as the closing scene in the thrilling drama. Then the wicked of
every class will fly to the caverns and fissures of the rocks, in a
fruitless attempt to hide their guilt from Him who sits on the throne.
“And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together:
and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.” Rev. 6:14.
*** After the sealing
work brought to view in Rev. 7, which takes place under the sixth seal,
how is the seventh seal introduced?NOTE. The
sixth seal introduced the events connected with the second coming of
Christ. The seventh must refer to that event, and its accompanying effect.
When Christ comes, all the holy angels will accompany Him. Matt. 25:31. If
all these celestial harpers leave the heavenly courts, it follows that
silence will reign in heaven during their absence. A half-hour of
prophetic time would be about seven days. See chapter 44 in this book
entitled “A Remarkable Symbol.”
“And when He had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in
heaven about the space of half an hour.” Rev. 8:1.
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