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Dionysius of Alexandria, who wrote about the middle of the third century, says, “ Some, before our times*, have 6 utterly rejected this book ;” and he has been thought to intend Caius, an ecolesiastical man at Romet, who certainly ascribed some Apocalypse, and not improbably our Apocalypse, (though this matter has been much doubted,) to the heretic Cerinthust. But whatever may be determined concerning the opinions of Caius, it seems clear, that before Dionysius wrote, that is, in the former part of the third century, some persons in the Christian Church had begun to doubt concerning the authenticity of the Apocalypse ; to question whether it were the production of St. John, or of any apostolical, or even pious man; and to ascribe it, as the Alogi had done before them, to Cerinthuss.
But it does not appear that they alleged any external evi. dence in support of these extraordinary opinions. They res. ted them on the basis of internal evidence only. “The A. « pocalypse," said they, “ is obscure, unintelligible, and in
consistent, and improperly entitled a revelation. It au" thorizes notions of an impure, terrestrial millennium, un& worthy of an Apostle of Christ. But Cerinthus adopted 66 such notions, and to propagate them the more successfully,
he wrote the Apocalypse, and prefixed to it the honourable " name of John."
All the arguments here used, excepting the affirmation that Cerinthus is the author, (which has no proof whatever to support itt,) will be observed to rest on internal evidence, and therefore, belong not to this present inquiry. In a future chapter they will be examined. But I mention them in this place, because they prevailed in the times of Hippolitus and Origen, whose testimony is now to be adduced. These two learned men had the opportunity of knowing and of considering all the arguments, which these novel objectors had alleged against the authenticity of the Apocalypse. We shall see what influence they had on the minds of these able divines.
HIPPOLITUS flourished early in the third century**, and
* The wapo musy. Euseb. lib. vii. c. 25. † So Eusebius calls him, H. E. lib. ii. c. 25.
Michaelis has chosen to place these objectors in the second century, but on no solid ground of evidence ; for the first objector, of whom we have any account, is Caius, and the earliest time assigned to him is A. D. 210. Cave. Hist. Lit. art. Caius. $ Euseb. H. E. lib. vii. c. 24.
See this affirmation perfectly refuted by our author, p. 469. ** One work of his is shown to have 222 for its date. See Lardner, art. Hippolitus..
probably lived and taught during a considerable part of the second : for he was an instructor of Origen, who was set over the Catechetical school in Alexandria, in the year 202. He had been the disciple of Irenæus : and, probably, was a Greek by birth, for he wrote in Greek, and not improbably in the eastern parts of the Christian world, where his writings were long held in the highest esteein*. He is in all respects as credible a witness, as the times in which he lived could produce. He received the Apocalypse as the work of St. John, the Apostle and disciple of the Lord t. Michaelis admits his evidence, and attributes to his influence and exertions, much support of the Apocalypse t. He could produce no new external evidence in its favour, but he probably appealed to, and arranged that evidence which had gone before, and endeavoured to take away, in some measure, a popular objection to the book, by explaining parts of it ; thus rendering it less obscures. His studies qualified him for this office ; for, as Michaelis observes, he commented on other prophecies. His genuine works, except a few fragments, appear not to have come down to us, but they were read both in Greek and in Syriac for many ages. And it appears, by the evidence of Jerome and Ebed-jesu, that one, if not two of his books were written in defence of the Apocalypse. Michaelis is inclined to believe that he left two works on this subject, one in answer to Caius, the other against the Alogiq. He says nothing which tends to invalidate the evidence of Hippolitus in favour of the Apocalypse, but much to confirm it.
ORIGEN was born in the year 184 or 185, and lived to his 70th year. Of all the ancient fathers, he is generally ac- : knowledged to have been the most acute, the most diligent, **. the most learned. And he applied these superior qualifications to the study of the holy Scriptures. He studied them critically, with all that investigation of their evidences, and of the authenticity of the books and of the text, which is now become a voluminous part of theological studies. He was in a great degree the Father of Biblical learning. Such
* P. 479.
+ See the testimonies as collected by Lardner, who says, that “the testi“ mony of Hippolitus is so clear in this respect, that no question can be made “ about it." Cred. G. H. art. Hippolitus.
# P. 478.
§ What remains of Hippolitus in this kind, is to be seen in the Commentary of Andreas Casariensis on the Apocalypse, who professes to to hare followed him.
a man could not be ignorant of the objections urged by Caius and others, against the authenticity of the Apocalypse. He was inclined to allow all the weight of their popular argument against it, which was, that it encouraged the Millenarians : for Origen was a decided Anti-millenarian. He appears likewise to have felt the full force of another of their objections. He acknowledged and was distressed by the dark veil, which appeared to him to “ envelope the unspeak“ able mysteries of the Apocalypse*.” But these objections, whatever other influence they might have in the mind of Oriçen, did not induce him to reject the book. He received it readily and implicitly. He quotes it frequently as “ the 66 work of the Apostle John, of the author of the Gospel of “ John, of the Son of Zebedee, of him who leaned on the 66 bosom of Jesust." But to what shall we ascribe this decided conclusion of Origen, so hostile to his own prepossessions ? To what, but to the irresistible weight of external evidence, which obliged him to acknowledge the Apocalypse as the undoubted production of John the Apostle? No one, who has taken into consideration the weight of this evidence, (even as it now appears to us, and the superior qualifications of this learned and inquisitive Father to judge of it, can as.. cribe the testimony, which we derive from Origen, to any other cause. And every candid person must be surprised and sorry at the cavilling questions advanced by Michaelist, by which he endeavours to represent the well-considered and he respectable evidence of Origen, as depending solely on the authority of his master Hippolitus, or, (which is still more extraordinary,) to be the result of that duplicity, which our author attributes, (unjustly, as we shall endeavour to prove,) 'to Dionysiuss.
But from other passages it appears, that Michaelis felt the. force of Origen's testimony respecting the Apocalypse. In these he acknowledges it to be a greatly in its favour** ;" and
* See a fragment of Origen, preserved in his works, and quoted by Lardber, art. Origen.
Euseb. 8. E. lib. vi. c. 25. Orig. Hom. in lib. Jer. ; Com. in Joh. p. 14; Com. in Mat. p. 417 ; Cont. Celsum, lib. vi.
Nothing can be more express and positive than the testimony of Origen : even in his last work, his book against Celsus, when he had probably seen the objections of Dionysius. For Dionysius wrote probably before the rage of persecution came ou in 250, which pursued him almost to his death, in 261 ; but Origen wrote his last work in 252, the year before he died: but whether or not Origen lived to see this book of Dionysius, he was doubtless acquainted vith the arguments which it contains, respecting the authenticity of the Apocalypse, for they had then been many years current in the world.
go it will remain ; for, the counterpoise to it, which he has proposed, arising from the silence of Papias, has been shown to have very little weight *.
I shall now request my readers to review the Biogra. phical Chart presented to them. They will there observe, that by the addition, which is made to the writers of the second century, by the testimonies of Hippolitus and Origen, the evidence is carried down 150 years from the first publication of the Apocalypse. This evidence is abundant, (surprisingly so, considering the mysterious nature of the book ;) it is constant and uninterruptedt. At no time does it depend upon any single testimony ; many writers testify at the same period ; and these witnesses are nearly all the great names of ecclesiastical antiquity t. To their evidence, which is for the most part positive and express, no contradictory testimony of an external kind has been opposed. No one has alleged against the Apocalypse such arguments as these :" It is not preserved in the archives of the Seven Asiatic « Churches. The oldest persons in those cities have no “ knowledge of its having been sent thither : no one ever 6 saw it during the life of John. It was introduced in such « and such a year, but it was contradicted as soon as it ap« peareds.”
* In Chap. i.
It may be observed, that although many writers give their testimony, :yet a very few witnesses may be selected, who can be supposed to have de.
livered down the evidence in succession, during the first one hundred and fifty years of the Apocalypse. For instance, these three, Polycarp, Irenæus, Origen ; or, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Origen. A long tradition has more credibility attached to it, than when it has passed through but few hands.
Every writer quoted by Lardner in the first volume, part ü. of his cre. dibility of the Gospel History, except two or three, of whom short fragments only remain, is to be found in our list, and this volume contains all the writers who gave testimony to any of the Sacred Scriptures, during almost the whole of the first century after the Apocalypse was published. Sir Isaac Newton asserts truly, that " no other book of the New Testament is so strongly at“ tested, or commented upon, as this.” Sir Isaac Newton on Daniel and the Apocalypse, part ii, c. 1. 2. 219.
§ These arguments are candidly and judiciously suggested by Michaelis, and he allows considerable weight to them. (p. 484.) But, in a note subjoined, he endeavours to invalidate them by observing,
1. That “ only a few extracts from the writings of the ancient adversaries of the Apocalypse are now extant, the writings themselves being lost."
2. That “the ancient advocates for the Apocalypse have likewise not al“ leged any historical arguments in its defence."
To these objections we will answer shortly ;
1. If the learned professor had allowed any weight to this kind of argumeut, when he reviewed the evidence of Ignatius and Papias, he could not have pronounced their silence, “ as a decisive argument," against the Apocalypse.
Upon the whole, the candid examiner cannot but perceive, that the external evidence for the authenticity and divine inspiration of the Apocalypse is of preponderating weight ; and that Michaelis is by no means justifiable in representing it, when placed in the scale against the contrary evidence, as suspended in equipoise. It is a complete answer to the assertions of his third section*, to affirm, (and we now sec that we can truly affirm it,) that the authenticity of the book was never doubted by the Church, during the first century after it was published : and that it was received with especial reverence, as divine Scripture, by the Asiatic Churches, to which it was addressed, and by their colonies.
(To be continued.)
But there is a difference in the two cases, a difference, which is in favour of the Apocalypse. The short writings, or extracts now extant, may easily be supposed not to contain all, or perhaps any, of the testimonies which they bore to this book, which, from its mysterious contents, they cannot be expected often to have quoted. And if such testimonies were lost, they would not be renewed by subsequent authors, from whom all that we should have to expect would be such a general testimony as Andreas Cæsariensis gives of Papias, namely, that Papias bore evidence to the Apocalypse. But if in any of the writings of the ancient adversaries of the book, any such arguments as these suggested by Michaelis had been inserted, they could not have sunk into oblivion. A book asserted to be divine, yet having at the same time such in. ternal evidence against it, as Dionysius has produced, would be ever regarded with a jealous eye ; and if the Alogi, or Caius, or Dionysius, (and these are all the adversaries of whom we hear,) had recorded any such allegation against the Apocalypse, it would have been repeated and re-echoed by its adversaries through all the ages of the Church. But if there were any foundation for such allegations, Polycarp and Melito, bishops of the Seven Churches, would not have suffered the Apocalypse to pass in their days to Irensus, as a work received by those Churches from Saint John.'
2. On the second objection we may observe, that where there was no contradiction, there most certainly needed no proof. The silent admission of the Apocalypse, by the early fathers, makes greatly in its favour. No controversy, shows no doubt. And how stands the evidence in the case of other acknowledged books of the sacred canon ? Are we expected to prove that all the epistles of Saint Paul were deposited in the archives of the respective Churches to which they were written ! Far otherwise : no such proof is made ; none such is reasonably expected. We show that the epistles were undoubtedly received by the early writers of the Church ; this is proof sufficient ; and we have this proof abundantly for the authenticity of the ApocaJypse. . * P. 486.