Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

to the world by our latest and most popular commentator, Mr. Faber. · The reader is supposed to have perused the volumes of this learned, though not always satisfactory, hierophant.

The opinion that the apostacy of papal Rome is announced in the Book of Revelations, has been long and rightly received among the Churches. Mr. Croly has published some very curious and valuable observations on this point. He is of opinion that the principal portions of the Apocalypse refer exclusively to the corruptions of the western Church. I subjoin a brief analysis of his ingenious system of interpretation, which is worthy of the attention of the biblical Student, for whose advantage this statement is principally designed. (x").

(x) The System of Interpretation of the Apocalypse, by the Rev. George Croly, A.M. &c.—The Apocalypse is not a consecutive prophecy, but a fusciculus of prophecies, seen probably at intervals, during St. John's dwelling at Patmos, all predicting nearly the same events, under different emblems and modes of expression, and thus checking and illustrating each other. After the first three chapters, addressed to the Asiatic Churches, the predictions are strictly confined to Europe ! They take no notice of the Eastern Church, nor of Mahometanism. They are limited to Popery, of which they give a history, regular, close, and circumstantial, in a remarkable degree. Analysis of the Apocalypse.--Chapters 4, 5, 6, 7, (the chapters of the Seals) are a general view, or index, of the events detailed in the subsequent predictions. These chapters comprehend the course of Providence, from the birth of Christianity to the Millenium. Chapters 8, 9, 10, 11, (the chapters of the trumpets) are identical with chapters 15 and 16, (the chapters of the seals.) They both predict the series of events between the Reformation in the 12th century, and the great universal war in which Popery is to perish. But the chapters of the trumpets mark the events with much more detail. Thus chapter 8, gives a view of the general, physical, and moral sufferings of man, in consequence of the divine displeasure at the corruptions of Christianity by the Popedom. Chapter 9 is a most remarkable and characteristic prediction of the French Revolution. This prediction has been hitherto presumed, by the majority of commentators, to apply to Mahometanism. This is the chapter which Pastorini's, Walmsley's prophecies apply to Luther, and the Reformation in Germany, and on which the Irish Romanists founded their expectation of a massacre of the Protestants in the year 1825. It will be shewn that it applies only to our æra—that its date is past-and that it is the history of the French Jacobin empire. Chapter 10 is the sudden diffusion of the Holy Scriptures, and synonymous of the French Revolution. Chapter 11 is a history of the suppression of the Holy Scriptures by Popery, of their public

Contrary to the usual mode of arrangement, I have placed the Epistles of St. John after the Apocalypse. The difference of the style in the composition was one of my principal arguments for so doing. The language of the Book of Revelations appeared to be the result of less intercourse with the Greeks, than that of the Epistles, which bear much resemblance to the style of St. John's Gospel, the last in date of the inspired writings. The powerful recommendations

extinction by Atheist and Revolutionary France, and of their sudden recovery from this degradation, by being spread to the boundaries of the globe. Chapters 12, 13, and 14, with 17, 18, and 19, are the peculiar narrative of the Church of Rome, in its rise, progress, and final punishment. Thus, Chapter 12 gives a detail of the persecutions of Christianity by Paganism, as embodied with the government of ancient Rome-with the transmission of the spirit of Paganism into the government of modern Rome, displayed in similar persecutions of Christianity. Chap. 13, is a striking prediction of the rise of the combined temporal and spiritual power of Rome. The Reformation under the Waldenses-the fierce vindictiveness of Rome against those early Christiansand the formation of the Inquisition, for the double purpose of crushing the Reformers, and of raising Popery to universal dominion. Chapter 14, is a prediction of the downfall and extinction of Popery, by means which are yet hidden, but which are palpably connected with some great, brief havoc of man, and ruin of the government of nations. The intervening chapters, 15 and 16, are the chapters of the seals, and have been already mentioned as synonymous with, and explanatory of, the chapters of the trumpets. The 17th, 18th, and 19th chapters, are various details of the mode, in which the punishment and extinction of Popery will be accomplished. Of these chapters, of course, it would be presumptuous to attempt any detailed interpretation. They are future, and their satisfactory interpretation must wait for the event. But they all distinctly imply some visitation of the divine wrath rapidly approaching, involving the world in war, of an extent, fierceness, and power of civil and physical ruin, beyond all example, and threatening all but the extinction of the human race; a deluge of war. From the 20th chapter to the end of the Apocalypse, are predictions of the period which is to follow the destruction of Popery, as the great criminal and corruptor of the Christian world. The Millenium, closing in a second brief apostasy, to be distinguished by a sudden display of the power of God, followed by the day of judgment, and the consummation of that system of Providence in this world. In this view of the Apocalypse, no prediction lower down than the French Revolution, is looked upon as a subject for exact interpretation. This Revolution, however, furnishes the key to the Apocalypse, fixing the dates of the numbers 1260 and 666.

also to love and truth and union among Christians, which abound in the Epistles of St. John, appeared to be a more valuable legacy to the Churches of God, than even the prophecies of the Apocalypse. Whether there be prophecies, they shall cease-charity never faileth.

The completion of the Canon of the New Testament having been noticed in the twentieth section, I have concluded the work with a brief review of the history of the Christian Church, from the close of the apostolic age to the present period. *One day with our Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. Though the fire by night, and the pillar of cloud by day, no longer guide the visible Church through the wilderness of this world—He that keepeth his spiritual Israel can neither slumber nor sleep. As surely as he led his people in the olden time from Egypt to Canaan, so certainly will God overrule the evil of our state of trial, and direct the nations of a Christian world to truth and peace, to union, and to mutual love. Individual holiness and political happiness must prevail upon earth. The province of this planet shall be re-conquered from the power of evil, which has so long led it captive. The tree of life will be again planted in the Paradise of earth, and all mankind, renovated in holiness, and serving their only great God in spirit and in truth, shall become one religious family of one merciful Father."

Such are the sublime representations of the plans of Providence, which appear to be revealed in Scripture respecting mankind. When we remember the greatness of the Deity, and the mystery of the continuance of evil, they will appear as rational as they are scriptural. They are founded upon the supposition, that evil would not have been permitted, unless greater eventual benefit would be thereby conferred on all accountable beings. By the atonement of Christ alone, (the one great truth of Scripture,) evil will be conquered, and universal happiness secured. Shadows, clouds, and darkness rest upon the future. We must die, we must rise again with enlarged and renovated faculties, before we can thoroughly comprehend the government of the moral universe, which is thus but partially revealed to us in Scripture. The Revelation, which I have been endeavouring to illustrate, is the beginning of the golden thread, by which we shall be enabled, when we inherit our immortality, to trace the whole labyrinth of the plans of God. The eternal contemplation of our Jehovah, and the perpetual improvement of our reason, as well as our exemption from the possibility of evil, are among the noblest of our anticipated privileges hereafter. The best and greatest of our present privileges, is the power of securing the expected happiness of the future, by our right use of the mercies of God, in this stage of our existence.

Whatever may be our discoveries of the government of God, or whatever our loftier or more devotional feelings on the perusal of Scripture; yet another point remains to be considered, before we can thoroughly understand the primary meaning of the sacred writings. We must never forget, that they were addressed to the ancestors of that wandering people, whose dispersion among the nations is a perpetual, visible demonstration of the accomplishment of prophecy, and of the truth of Christianity. Jesus and his Apostles were Jews. They conversed with, and lived among, and appealed to, Jews. To have been understood by the people to whom they spoke they must have adopted the idioms, language, proverbs, and modes of speaking then in use. Their conversations would have been filled with allusions to the events, circumstances, manners, modes, customs, &c. of their day. To understand the New Testament thoroughly, therefore, we must endeavour to comprehend the sense in which the language of the Evangelists was understood by the people of their own age; and the requisite explanations can only be afforded by the Jewish writers. The classical writers, in many respects, are of little service.

VOL. 1.

Though the works of Raphelius, and of innumerable others, who have illustrated the New Testament from these beautiful sources of criticism, are abundantly useful, they have not rendered that peculiar and more essential service to sacred literature which has been effected by the students of the Talmudical writings. The learned Baptist Dr. Gill, Schoet, gen, Wetstein, Lightfoot, Drusius, and others, have contributed much more effectual aid to our right interpretation of Scripture (y). Though the Talmuds abound with fables and absurdities—though the follies and conceits with which the Jews, who refused to embrace Christianity, began to crowd their books, at the very time when the beautiful day-spring of the New Testament Scriptures began to scatter the darkness of mankind,-may be considered as the beginning of their predicted judicial blindness, these books still illustrate the language of the Old Testament. They contain many vestiges of the ancient spiritual interpretations (z). They explain the antiquities, allegories, mysteries, traditions, &c. of the Jews, which are alluded to in Scripture. Though they were written at a later period than the books of the New Testament, as I have shewn in my concluding note to this work, they were compiled in the apostolic age, or in those

(y) Postquam ab adolescentiâ meâ persuasum habuissem, Græcos Scriptores mihi diligenter perlegendos esse, eum quidem in finem, ut inde mihi plurima, quæ ad N. T. illustrationem facere possunt, adferrem ; attamen illis bene multis perlectis, ipsâ rerum experientiâ didicissem, non tantos eorum fructus, quantos animo præceperam ; quia probatissimi quique Scriptores Græci tanto seculorum intervallo a N. T. auctoribus distabant, ut vocabula tantum, non autem integræ sententiæ compositio et ipsius linguæ antiquæ genius, convenirent, adeo ut N. T. stylus ab ipsis Vet. Græci, vix intelligeretur ; de aliis mediis circumspicere cæpi. Missis ergo ad tempus Græcis, ad Hebraica accessi, et majori quidem fructu, quam putaveram, &c. &c. &c. Surenhusius ap. Schoetgen. Horæ Heb. Pref. sect. iv. (2) Attende Lector, says Schoetgen, et observa reliquias veritatis apud veteres Judæos. Prius illud effatum Servatore nostro louge fuit antiquins, adeoque iis verbis poterat Judæos convincere, jam adesse tempora Messiæ, dum dictum illud ad tempus præsens adplicat : idque eâ præcipuè de causâ, quia omnia Messiæ criteria, de quibus antecedentia consulantur, isto tempore aderant. Schoetgen. Horæ Hebraicæ, vol. i. p. 113.–See on this subject the whole of Schoetgen's Preface to the first volume.

« AnteriorContinuar »