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ures in this great work are by no means significant. Many are inserted only to give life and animation to the whole; or, they are introduced by way of ornament out of the prophets and holy books; and no one who is any judge of such matters, will deny that the filling up of the whole is in an extraordinary degree rich, and, for occidental readers, in the highest degree splendid. The description of the chastisements by hail, pestilence, floods which are changed into blood, by insects and vermin, are imitations of the plagues of Egypt, and do not here either require or admit any particular historical explanation or application. The eclipses of the sun and moon, the falling stars, are usual figures employed by the prophets in order to represent the overthrow of states and empires, or the fall of renowned persons, by means of great and terrible physical phenomena. And in general, the sublimest and most appropriate and striking figures and passages of the prophets are interwoven by the author in his work; and they thus impart to the whole an oriental splendor, which leaves all Arabian writers far behind. The numbers also are seldom to be taken arithmetically, unless there exist special ground for it. Seven seals, seven angels, seven trumpets, seven vials, seven thunders, who does not here see that this is the holy prophetic number, and is employed only as ornament and costume? So also the round numbers, and times, and half times, they admit neither of a chronological nor numerical reckoning; but are generally put for indefinite times and numbers. There are in the whole [book,] only two historical events, which, consequently, admit of a historical interpretation. Aside from the general prevalence of Christianity, with which the vision closes, the destruction of Jerusalem is a known fact; and by the side of this stands also the downfal of Rome. Here we are necessarily referred to the historical interpretation, so far as it can be applied without violence, and so far as history voluntarily affords her aid. But every thing minute and frivolous and everything far-fetched or forced, must be cautiously avoided.' Thus far Hug. And if we mistake not, the current of opinion with Biblical students in general is now bearing towards the view he has taken of the Apocalypse. Certain it is, that with them, the fanciful scheme of Newton and Faber is growing obsolete, and a persuasion gaining strength that the fulfilment of the prophecy is to be sought in the early times of Christianity. In England, it is true, national an
tipathy and the inveterate prejudices, political as well as religious, of the Catholic question, will perhaps retard the change; and we may suspect that her divines will be the last to give up the complacent idea that the church of Rome and the French revolution and empire had been for ages pointed out, by the visible finger of God, to the abhorrence and hatredof the faithful.
Having thus surveyed the most remarkable methods which Protestants have used, of interpreting the Revelation, it is now time to come to the book itself. But what we have to offer on this head, will be given in another article, under a title more appropriate. H. B. 2d.
The Revelation of St. John the divine.
THE present article will be devoted to three topics, the authenticity, the date, and the meaning, of this book. On the last named subject, however, we must content ourselves with some general hints and miscellaneous remarks, without venturing on the difficult enterprise which has proved fatal even to many skilful interpreters, an attempt to give a thorough explanation.
I. It is well known that this is one of the few books, in the New Testament, whose authenticity has been much doubted. Its obscurity, which has hitherto baffled all endeavors at an easy, natural and perfectly satisfactory solution, together with its wild romantic style, so different from the simplicity of St. John's other writings, has no doubt contributed to render it suspected; but in addition to all this, there has been alleged a want of historical evidence in its favor, which with many, as with us, has probably confirmed the doubts that other considerations had suggested. On this point, however, we now think there is some misapprehension. If we take all the circumstances of the case together, as they stand on the face of ancient records, the genuineness of the book appears well
enough attested. It seems to have been received by the ear ły Christian church, without the least hesitation, as the work of St. John; till at length, in the third century, the absurd use that was made of it by certain sects, led one or two of the fathers to deny its apostolic origin, for the purpose of overthrowing a particular doctrine which had been supported by its authority. That this motive was the only occasion of the denial, is so manifest, that their rejection of it ought to have had no weight against the uniform testimony of earlier writers; though it actually affected to a considerable degree the reputation of the book in succeeding ages. The truth of this representation will be seen from the following historical detail, which, it is believed, contains all the facts in the case, on which we can rely with confidence.
From the language of Justin Martyr, about A. D. 160, it appears that the Revelation was then received as St. John's. He says, 'A man from among us, by the name of John, one of the apostles of Christ, has prophesied, in the Revelation made to him, that the believers in Christ shall live a thousand years in Jerusalem; and after that, shall be the general or eternal resurrection and universal judgment.' Melito, bishop of Sardis, one of the seven churches addressed in the Revelation, flourished about A. D. 174. All his works are now lost; but the historian Eusebius informs us, that among those extant in his time, there was one entitled, Of the Revelation of St. John' a fact which sufficiently discovers the estima tion in which the book was then held. In the Epistle of the Churches of Lyons and Vienna, written about A. D. 177, it is plainly referred to as authentic Scripture: both the magis trates,' say they, and the people were vexed at the very heart, that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still a passage quoted from the twenty-second chapter of the Revelation. Theophilus, bishop of Antioch, (about A. D. 181,) is said by Eusebius to have adduced proofs from this book, in a work, now lost, which he wrote against certain heretics. Irenæus, bishop of Lyons, (about A. D. 185,) often mentions the Revelation, and attributes it implicitly to John the apostle of the Lord. Clemens Alexandrinus, (about A. D. 195,) quotes it several times; and once in the following language they shall sit on twenty-four thrones, judging the people, as John says in the Revelation.' Tertullian,
(about A. D. 200,) refers to it frequently as the work of the same John who wrote the Epistle universally ascribed to the apostle. In one place he says, Again, the apostle John describes, in the Apocalypse, a sharp two-edged sword coming out of the mouth of God.' In another passage, while opposing Marcion, a Gnostic heretic, who disowned several books of the New Testament and altered the rest, he observes, We have churches which are the disciples of John. For though Marcion rejects the Revelation, yet the succession of bishops, traced back to the beginning, will assure us that John is the author.'
Thus far we find no indication that the genuineness of the book had ever been doubted in the regular churches; though, among the capricious and whimsical heretics of the Gnostic class, it had sometimes shared the fate of the rest of the New Testament. We now approach the period, however, when it appears to have been, for the first time, called in question by any of the orthodox Christians; and it may be well to take particular notice of the occasion. A gross idea had long prevailed, on the authority of the twentieth chapter of the Revelation, that the saints, after being raised from the dead, were to reign with Christ a thousand years upon earth, enjoying all the sensual gratifications which nature could afford. The fanatical sect of Montanists had lately carried this notion to the utmost extravagance, and dwelt upon it as one of their favorite tenets. About A. D. 212, Caius, a Roman presbyter, attacked them; and for the purpose, it would seem, of depriving them of their principal evidence, attributed the Revelation to Cerinthus, a famous Gnostic, contemporary with St. John. 'Cerinthus,' said he, 'in some Revelations which he wrote in the name of a great apostle, imposes on us monstrous things which he pretends were shown him by angels, saying that after the resurrection there shall be a terrestrial kingdom of Christ, and that men shall live again in Jerusalem, where they will enjoy sensual delights and pleasures, and spend a thousand years in nuptial entertainments.' Such was the ground that Caius took with regard to the author of the Apocalypse.
His unsupported assertion, however, carries its own refutation on its very face. Who can suppose that a book written by the hated Cerinthus, whose name was never uttered by the orthodox Christians but with abhorrence, would, nevertheless, be received by then and venerated as we have already seen
that the Revelation actually was, in the early church? If it be said that that they never suspected its real origin; whence then, we would ask, did Caius obtain his knowledge, after more than a century of profound silence? Indeed, his testimony seems to have weighed nothing with his cotemporaries, nor with the immediately succeeding fathers, since they continued to quote the book as indisputably St. John's. Hippolytus (about A. D. 220,) refers to it in the following significant connexion, the Gospel and Apocalypse according to John.' The celebrated Origen, though a zealous opposer of the Millennarians, (A. D. 230-250,) received it without an intimation of doubt, and expressly ascribed it to John the son of Zebedee,' that is, the apostle. Cyprian (about A. D. 255,) reckoned it among the books of sacred Scripture, without however designating the author's name. With these notices before us, we cannot mistake the reputation it still continued to maintain in the church, notwithstanding the impeachment, to all appearance utterly unfounded, which Caius had brought against it.
But soon after the death of Origen, it was again brought into question, by a new endeavor to advance the doctrine of the Millennium on its authority. Nepos, a bishop in Egypt, published a very successful work in favor of that tenet, and adduced his proofs from the Apocalypse. The learned Dionysius of Alexandria (about A. D. 260,) answered him, and took occasion to make some remarks concerning this book. Certain Christians, he observes, rejected it as the work of the heretic Cerinthus, who acknowledged no happiness except in carnal pleasures; but for himself, he durst not renounce it, since it was generally held in veneration. Its meaning, however, appeared to him undiscoverable, though he was persuaded it ought not to be interpreted in the gross literal Nor could he believe that it was written by John the apostle, on account of the dissimilarity of its genius, thoughts and style, from those of the Evangelist; but he was inclined to suppose its author to have been another John, a presbyter, who, according to Papias, lived in Asia cotemporary with the Evangelist, and whom he was willing to acknowledge an inspired man. Such was the conjecture of Dionysius. For some time, however, it seems to have made little impression; but the renown
'Here Dionysius evidently alludes to Caius' rejection of the Apocalypse.