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according to the best critics); and, so far, their argument for a late date to the Apocalypse is unfounded. That they should have entirely overlooked the strong reproofs of the apostle to this church-reproofs which fix upon it the same character ascribed to it in the Apocalypse is surprising; and it is still more surprising that Mr. Woodhouse should so strenuously maintain, and expand the argument, in the face of this direct testimony of Paul, that this church had actually turned from her first love, before he wrote this epistle.
The reproof to this church, in the Apocalypse, runs thus :
“ I have against thee that THÝ LOVE [ayathr], “THY FIRST [love], THOU HAST LEFT"[or forsaken). Rev. ii. 4.
Paul, writing to Timothy, says:
“ I besought thee to abide at Ephesus that thou "mightest charge some that they teach no other “ doctrine. Now the end (or design] of this charge “ is LOVE [ayat,], out of a pure heart, and of a “good conscience, and of faith unfeigned ; FROM “WHICH SOME HAVING SWERVED, “ HAVE TURNED ASIDE TO VAIN “JANGLING.” 1 Tim. i. 5.
From this it appears not only possible, that the church at Ephesus could depart from her first love, so early as the time of Nero, but most certain
that this church had actually then swerved from it and turned aside. The whole argument, therefore, for a late date for the Apocalypse, drawn from the alleged state of the churches when the Revelation was written, falls to the ground; for here we have a church-one of the seven Apocalyptic churches too—reproved for the very fault laid to her charge in the Apocalypse, and that more than thirty years before the date which those who ascribe the book to the reign of Domitian would give to this prophecy.
§ 3. Other Arguments, which have been adduced for
and against a late date to the Apocalypse, considered.
Another argument has been suggested for a late date to the Apocalypse, which may be briefly noticed. Laodicea was overthrown by an earthquake in the year of Rome 813 (A. D. 60), and the persecution under Nero began in the year of Rome 817 (A. D. 64). “It is not probable “(says Lord Hales') that St. John would have “addressed the Laodiceans as he does at ver. “ 17 (ch. iii) had their city been ruined about “five years before. This may contribute to sup
'Sir D. Dalyrmple's Inquiry into the secondary Causes assigned by Gibbon for the Rupid Growth of Christianity, p. 41. pote.
"port the very ancient tradition, that the Apo“calypse was published under the persecution “by Domitian.” His Lordship seems to have understood the verse referred to, literally; as meaning temporal riches-an increase of worldly goods ; or why should he have offered in contrast, the ruined state of the city, after being visited by an earthquake? But assuredly the language is here figurative. The Laodiceans believed themselves rich in spiritual attainments. This is abundantly, evident, from the nature of the remedy held out to them for the removal of the delusion under which they were laboring: “Buy “of me, &c. that thou mayest be rich—that thy na“ kedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes that “thou mayst see :” that is, “ that thou mayst see “thine own wretchedness, poverty and nakedness! “how much thou hast mistaken thy true charac“ter!”—His Lordship cannot mean, that there was not time, in five years, to collect a church in the formerly, ruined but then renovating city. Could this possibly be bis meaning, it might be answered, that, “ as there could be no church “in Laodicea from A. D. 60 to A. D. 64, there“fore the Apocalypse must have been written, not “only before the Neronian persecution, but before “ the destruction of that city in the year 60.”— And such I take to have been indeed the fact; though not for the reason just now suggested.
Sir David Dalrymple is, in general, such a close reasoner, that his remark occasions the more surprise : for if we take the passage in v. 17 as meaning, literally, the good things of the present life, and therefore allow that, in five years, they could not have acquired riches and wealth to boast of; why pass on to the reign of Domitian, to allow them time to get rich and increased in goods; when, by only going back a few years, we should reach the period in which Laodicea possessed the accumulated wealth of generations, undiminished by the calamity of the earthquake?
Of the traditions respecting John one yet remains to be noticed, and which by some has been considered as demonstrative that his visit to Patmos—no matter how occasioned—and consequently bis publication of the Apocalypse, must have been long prior to the period assumed by those who ascribe the book to the reign of Domitian. Eusebius (lib. iii. c. 23) relates out of Clemens Alexandrinus, that John, “ some “ time after his return to Ephesus out of the Isle “ of Patmos” [notice the statement," after his “return from Patmos”] “ being requested, visited “ the countries adjoining, partly to consecrate “ bishops—partly to organise new churches,” &c. In this tour he committed a hopeful young man to the care of a certain bishop, who hereupon
received him into his house, brought him up, educated, instructed, and at length baptised him. The young man, it is stated, was for a time so diligent and serviceable that his master distingaished him by some kind of apparel as one of his family. In process of time, however, he became remarkably dissolute, perniciously associating himself with some idle, wicked and vicious young men of his own age, who first introduced him to bad company, and then induced him to steal and rob in the night. In a word (for it would occupy room unnecessarily to quote the whole passage from Eusebius), he became at length the captain of a gang of thieves and robbers who infested a neighbouring mountain and were the terror of all the country: and, saith Chrysostom, “ he continued their captain a “long time.”John, some time after, coming again to the church, to whose bishop he had committed the care of the young man, enquired after him, and being informed what had happened, called for a horse, and rode immediately to the place where he consorted with his associates : and when, out of reverence to his old master, the young man fled on seeing him, John pursued and overtook the fugitive, reclaimed and restored him to the church, &c. &c.
Chrysost. ad Theodorum lapsum.