“And, behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains; and the mountains were mountains of brass.” – Zechariah vi, 1.
The chariots denote different warlike powers which shall prevail, and the color of the horses in each, indicated the result from the reigns of the several powers, to the Jews, as the color of the horses in Revelation vi, 1-8, pointed out the nature of the events which should prevail under the first four seals in John’s vision.
It is generally admitted that the first three chariots correspond with the first three beasts of Daniel’s vision – Daniel vii, 1-8, and with the three higher parts of Nebuchadnezzar’s image of which he dreamed in Daniel ii, 31-40. That is, that the first chariot represented the Babylonish Monarchy, having red horses in it, denoting the bloody wars that nation waged against the Jews. As this Monarchy was already succeeded by the Mede-Persian Empire when Zechariah had this vision, nothing more is said of this chariot and red horses.
The second chariot represented the Persian government; and the black horses, the gloomy and oppressed state of the Jews under that Monarchy. For although they had release from captivity and liberty to rebuild their Temple given them by Cyrus the Great; yet they met with such a constant series of opposition and discouragements, during that period, that their state was truly dark.
The third chariot represented the Grecian Monarch under Alexander the Great. This chariot had in it white horses, the emblems of peace. While Alexander was carrying war and rapine to all the nations bordering upon, or near Judea, the Jews enjoyed peculiar peace, and received from his special privileges and favors.
Alexander while laying siege to Tyre sent a deputation to the Jews requiring them to submit themselves to him. To this the Jews refused, at which he was so enraged that he was determined to take signal vengeance upon them. As soon therefore as Tyre was taken, he marched with his army directly towards Jerusalem. But in the mean time, he saw in a dream a large company of unarmed persons, preceded by a venerable looking personage richly attired approaching him in supplication. The Jews hearing of Alexander’s approach, determined to throw themselves upon his mercy, and accordingly formed a procession headed by the High-priest in his priestly robes, and went forth to meet Alexander. As they came nigh him, Alexander recognized the High-priest to be the same venerable personage, and the company to be the same he had seen in his dream; and being forcibly struck with the providence of what he now saw, with his dream, he lighted from his horse, did reverence to the High-priest, and granted the Jews their request, and left them in peace. This, I believe, is the amount of what is related by Prideana and others concerning this affair: though not having the history near at hand, I have to quote from memory.
It is said in verse 6, “The black horses which are therein go forth into the north country, and the white go forth after them.” The Persian conquests were principally of Babylon and other countries north of Judea; and Alexander over-run these same countries after the Persians subdued the nations generally of the north country [central Hia, or Asia] under his yoke and introduced the Greek language among them, and caused the Jewish Scriptures to be translated into Greek; and thus was this country in a great measure prepared for easy access to the preachers of the Gospel and the Scriptures, when the time appointed should come. Hence the quieting of God’s Spirit in that country, verse 8. They were afterwards brought under the Roman yoke, but the Grecian language and culture continued to be the principal language and customs.
The fourth chariot, had two sets of horses, the one grisled, (or hail-spotted as the Hebrew signifies,) the other, bay. Following the order of Daniel’s vision, this chariot ought to represent the fourth beast, or the Roman power, and which is the iron power of Nebuchadnezzar’s image, – Daniel vii, 7, and ii, 33, and verse 40. The bay horses very properly represent the conquests of the Romans as walking to and fro through the earth. The grisled colored horses would in this case represent the Syrian government under the Antiochuses as being at sometimes destructive to the Jews; at other times the Jews obtained the ascendency.
But the more general idea is that this chariot and horses represented the Syrian and Egyptian powers, or the governments of the Grecian Antiochuses and Ptolemy, two of the four horns or kingdoms into which Alexander’s empire was divided- Daniel viii, 8, and 23. These two horns being contiguous to, more affected the Jews than did the other two horns, or divisions. In this view of the subject, the grisled horses represent the Egyptian government as being sometimes friendly and sometimes hostile to the Jews. And the bay horses, the Syrian government, particularly under the reign of Antiochuses Epiphanes, who as a scourge to the Jews is particularly pointed out by the “little horn,” – Daniel viii, 9-12, and xxiii, 25, and in Daniel xi, 21-45, and has been justly considered an eminent type of antichrist or the “man of sin” under the Gospel.
But which ever is the true application of this fourth chariot, it is evident from a little attention to history, that no period of five hundred years, (that being about the length of time represented by these four chariots,) at least, since the fall of the Roman Empire, can any ways be compared with this, for bloody wars, extensive conquests, and ravages of nations. It embraces, First, the wars and ravages of Nebuchadnezzar and his successors. Second, Of Cyrus, Darius I, and II, and Cambyses and the other Persians monarchs, including Xerxes’ famous invasion of Greece with a host, including sea and land forces, women and other attendants, that is recorded by historians to amount to upwards of five millions, the larger part of which were slain by Leonidas and his little band at the pass of Thermopylae, and the remainder nearly all perishing before Xerxes got back to Persia. Third, The conquests, ravages, rapine and bloodshed of Alexander and his successors are included. And Fourth, probably the Roman conquests as well. Hence, what has particularly attracted my attention, is that these four chariots, representing such a vast amount of devastation, misery and destruction of human life, should be denominated the “four spirits of the heavens;” and should have come out from between “the mountains of brass.” “These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth.” – verse 5.
What will the opposers of God’s predestination say to this? Will they admit, or will they not, that this subject is a striking illustration of that specific text. “Shall there be evil in the city and the Lord hath not done it?” – Amos iii, 6. We are not to understand that they, in the devastation and misery which they occasioned, represent the spirits of heaven. Nor on the other hand, that the spirits of heavens, are the spirits of hell or the power of darkness. I understand nothing else by their being said to be the spirits of the heavens, &c., than that it is to teach us that the angelic spirits are employed in conducting the providential government of the world, and in directing and controlling the effects of the ambition, rage, &c., of men so as to make them conduce to the accomplishing of the purpose of God. “Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty-days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days; for yet the vision is for many days.” – Daniel x, 13,14.
Although men are disposed to quarrel with the eternal and sovereign predestination of God, and to represent it as making God the author of sin, &c., we here see it guarded by the brazen mountain of eternal Justice, which stands side by side with it. As streams which runs out, from between two mountains in nature, and is fed from both, so all the events which transpired in the government of God, whether in Providence or in Grace, have source from these two mountains; flowing from, and having the impetus to their directed course given to them, by both, – the predestination and the justice of God.
If we look more particularly to the monarchies represented by these four chariots, whilst we see God unerringly accomplishing His decreed events exactly as foretold in prophecy, and bring about by these various revolutions and conquests, the great purpose of breaking down the national barriers by which the subjects of these conquests had been separated one from another, bring them ultimately to be settled peacefully under one government – the Roman, and to have a general acquaintance with one common language – the Greek, preparatory to the coming of Christ; and the Jews, whilst they were scourged for their iniquities by these governments preserved amidst all the revolutions and down fall of nations, a distinct people, in their own land, and in a good measure governed by their own laws, the laws given by Moses, until Shiloh or the Messiah came, we on the other hand find one conqueror after another made the instrument of punishing the preceding monarch for his rapine and cruelty.
As God said of the King of Assyria, after using him as His rod and send him against a hypocritical nation &c. “Wherefore it shall come to pass that when the Lord hath performed His whole work upon Mount Zion and Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the King of Assyria, &c.” – Isaiah x, 5-15.
Besides these general judgments, we find in the history of this period, several instances of signal judgment, as in the death of Antiochus Epiphanies who has already been noticed as a special type of antichrist, he was visited with so extremely a painful, lingering and loathsome disease, that he was made to confess it to be a just judgment upon him for his cruelty to the Jews and the insults he had cast upon their worship.
So of the Romish antichrist and its image after God has used them according to His purpose as instruments for deluding and punishing the people because they believed not the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness, 2 Thessalonians ii, 9-12, and making them a scourge to drive His people nigher to Himself, and a fire to try and refine His churches and saints, He will in turn, give them blood to drink because they have shed the innocent blood of saints and prophets. – Revelation xvi, 6.
And, my brethren, the stream of salvation which flows to you through a crucified Redeemer, comes to you, out of between the mountains of God’s purpose and His justice; these mutually so supply the stream and give to it, its course, that the will of God is accomplished, and justice is pleased in the salvation of each poor sinner that is brought to Jesus.
Well in conclusion may it be said to those who are vainly and impiously kicking and fighting against the mountains of brass, or the doctrine of predestination and eternal justice, “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God.” – Romans ix, 20,21.
Fairfax C. H., Va.,
March 21, 1838.