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A Brief Commentary On The Apocalypse by Sylvester Bliss

The Third Seal.

|And when he opened the third seal I heard the third living being say, Come! And I beheld, and lo, a black horse; and he, who sat on him, had a balance in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living beings say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and injure thou not the oil and the wine.| -- Rev.6:5, 6.

This foreshadows a period of great scarcity and cruel exactions. Applying it to the only department of society which is analogous to civil life, and the famine symbolized, is like that predicted by Amos: |Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine into the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: and they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it,| Amos 8:11, 12.

This, then, marks a period when the traditions and opinions of men are substituted for the word of God. With Origen was introduced a new mode of interpreting scripture, which afterwards became prevalent. The scriptures, instead of being received in their natural and obvious sense, were regarded as mystical and allegorical. Milner, in his Church History, says: |From the fanciful mode of allegory, introduced by him, and uncontrolled by scriptural rule and order, there arose a vitiated method of commenting on the sacred pages.| And Mosheim says: |The few who explained the sacred writings with judgment and a true spirit of criticism, could not oppose, with any success, the torrent of allegory that was overflowing the church.| Following this example, Luther says, |men make just what they please of the Scriptures, until some accommodate the word of God to the most extravagant absurdities.|

Substituting the conceptions of their own fancy for the word of God, they withheld from the people the bread of life, and produced a famine for the word of the Lord. Crude notions took the place of Bible doctrines; and pernicious speculations were substituted for the teachings of Christ and his apostles. Baptism and the Lord's supper, lost their emblematic significance, and were regarded as saving ordinances. Heaven was sought to be merited by works, and sanctification was supposed to be gained by penance and mortification of the flesh. In short, all the corruptions of the apostasy were substituted for the primitive faith, and the Bible became a sealed book to the great mass of the people.

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