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of it, by which it was suspended from the pole of a plough, waggon, or chariot, in equipoise. And the pair of beasts were placed under it, and their necks attached to it, so that when they came to draw, they had each an equal share of the load. This was the principal use of the yoke. But when the beasts were taken from under it, then it was found to hang so evenly balanced, as, by attaching scales to it, to serve the purpose of weighing. But there is no mention of scales, or any reference to the act of weighing in this passage. It is simply Zuyos. Now this instrument, so employed on the necks of the slaving beasts, was early and very universally considered as the badge and symbol of servitude and slavery. “ Thou shalt serve thy brother,” says the patriarch to his eldest son; “ and it shall come to pass, when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke (Zvyov) from off thy neck.” (Gen. xxvii. 40; see also Isa. ix. 4. x. 27; Nah. i. 13; Jer. xxvii. 2–15.) It was under this kind of yoke, or under a staff, beam, or spear, used to represent it, that the nations of antiquity were accustomed to pass their conquered enemies, in token of their subjugation.
In the New Testament, Zuyoç is used metaphorically to signify the burden of slavery, (1 Tim. vi. 1,) and more especially to represent the burdensome ceremonies enjoined by the law of Moses, from the observance of which the Christian “law of liberty” had delivered the converts. (Acts xv. 10; Gal. v. 1 ; James i. 25. ii. 12; Col. ii. 16; 1 Pet. ii. 16.) The same application of the word Zuyos by the Greek fathers, and of the word jugum by those who wrote in Latin, was by them continued. (See Socrat. Hist. i. 11; Euseb. Hist. Eccl.; Grabe Spicileg. sect. ij. p. 24; Augustin. Epist. xix.) From the History of the Church we learn, that attempts were made, at different times, to put a yoke
of superstitious observances on the necks of the disciples ; and every attempt seems to have made some little progress towards the system of slavery. As the stream of Christianity flowed farther from its pure fountain it became more and more corrupt; as centuries advanced, ignorance and superstition increased ; and unauthorized mortifications and penances, rigorous fastings, vows of celibacy, monkish retirement and austerities, stylitism, the jargon and repetition of prayers not understood, tales of purgatory, pious frauds, and the worship of saints, relics, and images, took the place of pure and simple Christianity : till at length, the book of God being laid aside for legendary tales, and the “ traditions of men,” all these corruptions were collected into a regular system of superstitious oppression, weli known by the name of the Papal yoke. The Eastern Church kept pace with the Western for some time, in the introduction of burdensome and unauthorized observances; and the Mahometan religion, derived from the corrupted Jewish and Christian, has imposed a similar kind of yoke on its numerous followers in those extensive regions of the world where it prevails.
Ver. 6. A voice in the midst of the four beasts, or living creatures.] This voice is from the throne, which was in the midst of the living creatures or cherubims. A voice of the highest authority, and most dread command, which was now required to stop the progress of this alarming evil.
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.] Wheat, barley, oil, and wine, were with the Eastern nations of antiquity the main support of life. These terms therefore were used by them to express plenty. He that had these in abundance was above want. Now it is proclaimed from the heavenly throne, that during the progress of the black horse, however mournful and destructive, the necessaries of life should be attainable, though at an excessive price; and that the more costly commodities, wine and oil, should not be injured.
In order to understand the relative price mentioned in the prophecy, it should be known, that a chønix of wheat (a measure generally used among the ancients) was barely sufficient for the daily subsistence of a poor man's family. Its price, a denarius or penny, was the usual amount of a labourer's daily wages, (Matt. xx. 2.) But many articles are necessary in a poor man's house besides bread; and very dear and oppressive must those times be accounted, when the whole income will scarcely supply bread. In the days of Cicero, a denarius, the scriptural penny, would procure sixteen chænices of wheat; and in those of Trajan, twenty. Thus the times of the yoke, or black horse, are indicated in this prophecy as a season of great scarcity.
A coarser bread might, it seems, be then had in greater plenty for a denarius, even as three to one; a bread of barley, which appears to have been used by the poorer Jews, (Judges vii. 13; John vi. 9; 2 Kings vii; Joseph. Antiq. v. c. vi. 4,) and which is still produced in the East, (Niehburgh's Travels.) Hence we may collect that the provision for the support of life under this seal, was to be slender in quantity, or coarse in quality; and that the dainties of wine and oil, were to be exposed to the danger of total failure.
But by these provisions, thus scarce and difficult of acquirement, are we to understand wheat, barley, wine, and oil, in their plain and literal meaning ? Assuredly not. The tenor of prophetic language forbids,-directing our attention, as our Lord has directed it, (see ch. ii. 7.) to scarcity of another kind, even that of which the prophet Amos speaks :
Not a famine of bread, nor a thirst of water, but of hearing of the words of the Lord.” (Amos viii. 11.) This kind of scarcity is frequently lamented by the prophetical writers, who delight in describing the spiritual plenty of Christ's kingdom, by such sensible images, “ corn, wine, and oil.'
corn, wine, and oil.” By these are signified that food of religious knowledge, by which the souls of men are sustained unto everlasting life: such we are invited by the evangelical prophet to buy, even “ without price.” (Is. lv. I.) . Such are recommended to the purchase of the Laodiceans, by their divine Lord. (Rev. iii. 18.); such were dispensed throughout the world at the first preaching of the gospel, and upon terms of easy acquisition ; "freely have ye received, freely give.” But when dark clouds of ignorance, denoted by the colour of the black horse, spread over the face of the Christian world, and corrupt teachers could advance their worldly purposes by bringing their disciples under the yoke of superstition, the knowledge and practice of genuine religion became scarce. Astonishing are the instances produced by historians of the ignorance of Christians in the middle ages, and of the gross immorality resulting from it.
Yet, during the long continuance of these dark times, the prophetical command from the throne has been wonderfully fulfilled; there has always been a moderate supply of spiritual food; the great saving doctrine of Christianity, an eternal life of happiness, given to sinful man upon his faith and repentance, through the satisfaction of his Redeemer, has been taught in all these ages; and that invaluable repository of divine knowledge, of spiritual wine and oil, the Holy Bible, the word of God, has been accessible to some persons in all times, since this injunction was delivered. Through all the ignorant, fanatical factions and corrupt hands, by which this sacred treasure has been transmitted to us, it has passed in
the main uninjured. The corruptions of it, even for the base purposes of party zeal and worldly ambition, have been miraculously few; and such as it has come down to our times, it will be delivered to posterity by the useful art of printing.
Thus hath the prophetical injunction from the throne preserved the spiritual food of man, through a dark period of long continuance, and of great difficulty and danger—the oil and the wine have not been injured.
The exposition of this seal by Joseph Mede, and his numerous followers in this country, may be given in the words of Bishop Newton; who, having observed that “this period is characterised by a strict execution of justice, and by the procuration of corn, and oil, and wine," and, that “ the regulations about the necessaries of life, imply some want and scarcity of them; scarcity obliging men to exactness in the measure of things,” thus proceeds: “ In short, the intent of the prophecy is, that corn should be provided for the people, but it should be distributed in exact measure and proportion. This third period commenceth with Septimius Severus, who was an emperor from the South, being a native of Africa. He was an enactor of just and equal laws, and was very severe and implacable to offences; he would not suffer even petty larcenies to go unpunished, as neither would Alexander Severus in the same period.” The Bishop then proceeds to recount what these two emperors did, in procuring corn, and oil, and other provisions for the Roman people, and then concludes as follows:” The colour of the black horse befits the severity of their nature and their name, and the balances are the well-known emblem of Justice, as well as an intimation of