The Oil and the Wine

THE great difficulty with the ordinary commentary on the Book of Revelation is that it will take a material instead of a spiritual view of the meaning of the writer. It is perfectly true that the material view usually taken is one which the commentator would describe as a spiritual view, but it is rather more material than less for this very reason. The church typified by the writer of the book is the church universal, precisely what Mrs. Eddy means when she defines Church, on page 583 of Science and Health, as "The structure of Truth and Love; whatever rests upon and proceeds from divine Principle." For this reason the history of this church is something apart from time, it dwells in the eternal now. Thus the great allegory, with which the Bible closes, is applicable to the conditions of the Christian church of all countries and in all ages. When, therefore, any commentator tries to confine the meaning of the book to a certain epoch or to a particular episode, he reduces the church universal to a local conception of a church, and takes the whole meaning out of the text for the enlightenment and direction of all men in every age.

Thus the episode of the opening of the seals and of the appearance of the horsemen is one the significance of which has been perceived, again and again, by the Christian church fighting its way upward to a clearer perception of Principle. The riders on the red, the black, and the pale horses guided their steeds across Europe in the days of the Reformation and the Thirty Years' War as certainly as they have in the twentieth century; whilst the rider on the white horse has always been in the van, going forth, like the church militant, conquering and to conquer. What is true of the sixteenth century and of the twentieth has been true in all times of acute chemicalization; and what Mrs. Eddy means by chemicalization she has pointed out carefully on page 401 of Science and Health, where she says: "What I term Chemicalization is the upheaval produced when immortal Truth is destroying erroneous mortal belief. Mental chemicalization brings sin and sickness to the surface, forcing impurities to pass away, as is the case with a fermenting fluid." At such periods the violence of the chemicalization is in proportion to the dynamic force of the truth realized. It is then that men's passions explode in war; it is then that human hatred finds its expression in famine and pestilence; and it is then that fear makes death seem victor for the moment. Yet all the time the rider on the white horse is in the very van of the fight, and the victory is never in danger for a moment. "Marvels, calamities, and sin will much more abound," Mrs. Eddy writes, on page 223 of Science and Health, "as truth urges upon mortals its resisted claims; but the awful daring of sin destroys sin, and foreshadows the triumph of truth. God will overturn, until 'He come whose right it is.'"

It is in the interval between the opening of the third seal and the fourth seal, when the rider on the black horse is already scattering famine broadcast, but before the rider on the pale horse has come with the additional terror of death, that the writer inserts the remarkable passage, "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." The meaning of the passage is, of course, quite simple, and it has come to encourage the Christian church fighting its battle against evil, in a seemingly hopeless minority, in every period of history. The Roman denarius was, of course, not the equivalent of the English penny, nor was the penny of King James the equivalent of the penny of the twentieth century. What the writer was insisting upon, but what the translation scarcely impresses on the reader, was the tremendous scarcity when food was offered to the world at many hundred per cent above its normal cost. The prices, in short, were virtually famine prices, since famine, on his black horse, was abroad in the land. And yet immediately following this announcement comes the command that the oil and the wine, the oil of gladness and consecration, and the wine of inspiration, the food of the church, are not to be hurt.

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The Unlimited Idea
April 16, 1921

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