Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

occasionally those objections of Michaelis, which
have not yet been answered.
· I. The Evangelist John has not named himself,
in his Gospel, nor his catholic Epistle ; but the writer
of the Revelation namėth himself more than once.".
· This argument appears to me to stand on very
weak and untenable foundations : yet Michaelis has
thought proper to repeat itg. Is it possible for us to
know, at this distance of time, with no historical in-
formation on the subject, what special or private rea-
sons, then existing, occasioned an apostolic writer,
either to disclose or conceal his name? Thus far the
answer is general; but let us enter more particularly
into the charge. 1.“ The Apostle who put his name
to the Apocalypse, has omitted to do so to the Gos-
pel.But was it usual for the Evangelists to put
their names to their Gospels? Is any other Gospel
published with the name of its author? Not one. It
was not the apostolic practice: yet John, of all the
Evangelists, approaches nearest to a disclosure of his
name; he discloses by various circumlocutions, that
he, the Apostle John, wrote that Gospel; and this
we know, from what he has delivered to us by such
circumlocution, as clearly, as if he had expressly
written his name*. 2. * But though this answer
may be satisfactory, respecting St. John's Gospel,
can we defend by it the same omission in his Epis-
tles ? An epistle, indeed, generally requires the name
of its author to be inserted; and for that reason,
among others, the name of John is inserted in the
Apocalypse, which is written in the form of an epis.
tle. Yet there may be exceptions to this general
rule ; and we see such evidently in the Epistle to the
Hebrews, which is written without a name. But the
omission, if such, in the three Epistles of St. John,
need not be sheltered under this precedent. We may

6 P. 534.
* John xxi. 20. &c. xix. 26. xiii. 23. &c. ,

otherwise account satisfactorily for their being pub. lislied without his name.

The two last Epistles are short letters, familiarly addressed to individuals*; and the writer calls him. self, not by the name of John, but by the appellation of the Elder, by which he was probably as well known, in the familiar conference which he held with these his correspondents, as if he had written his name John. He was, indeed, at the time he wrote these Epistles, the Elder of the Christian Church, not only far advanced in years, but the sole survivor of all his apostolic brethren. Such an appellation, in a private letter to an individual, amounts to the same as the writer's name.

But what shall we say to the omission of his name in the First Epistle ? Michaelis shall assist us to clear up this difficulty. He pronounces this writing of St. John to be “a treatise, rather than an epistle," and, therefore, says he, it has neither the name of the writer in the beginning, nor the usual salutations at the endt. Therefore, in all these writings of our Apostle, the insertion of his name appears to have been' unnecessary ; in the Gospel, because such had not been the practice of the other Evangelists; in the treatise, because in that likewise it would have been informal ; in the two familiar Epistles, because another well-known appellation supplied its place. But in the Apocalypse, which is written in the epistolary form, not to any individual, but to seven Christian communities, and is commanded, by Him who gave the Revelation, to be written and addressed to themt, the Apostle could not do otherwise than prefix his name. And when he had prefixed it, we cannot deem it surprising, that he should repeat it, in passages

* See Michaelis, Introd. ch. xxxii. sect. iii.

+ See his arguments at large, vol. iv. ch. xxx. sect. ii. p. 400, 401.

# Ch. i. v. 11.
VOL. IV.-No. VI. 2 Q

where he relates to them the wonderful sights 'which he had seen. For such a repetition conveys this as-, surance; “Be not incredulous, I, John, whom you can trust, whom you can safely believe, I, John, saw; these things.” This same Apostle had before given them warning not to believe every pretence to inspi. ration, but “to try the spirits whether they are of God*." It was necessary, therefore, when he sent them this revelation, to assure them that in receiving it they would not be deceived. He assures them, therefore, that he himself, the only surviving Apostle, the president of the Churches, whom they well knew by the name of John, had seen these visions. There was, therefore, no vain egotism in this repetition, as hath been vainly imagined ; it was necessary, and to us of these later times it is a proof, that some person of considerable weight and influence with the Churches was the author of the Apocalypse ; but his name was John; and who could this be, but John the Apostle and Evangelist? who, we are assured, was banished to Patmos, where the visions of it were seent.

II. The second objection is, that “ though the writer of the Revelation calls himself John, he has not shown us that he is the Apostle of that name.”Michaelis expects that he should at least have made himself known by some such circumlocution as he had used in the Gospel, “ the disciple whom Jesus loyed.”

In answer to this, it will be sufficient to show, that such addition to the name of John was totally need. less. He wrote to the Seven Churches, and from Patmos, in which island he expresses that “he is suffering tribulation for the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ." All the Churches knew

* 1 John iv. 1.

Hegesippus, apud Euseb. lib. ii. c. 20. 23. Tcrtullian, Apol. c. 5. Hierom. tom. X. p. 100. Lardner's Supp. ch.

that he was then suffering banishment in that island, and they knew the cause of it, “ for the word of God." An Epistle, containing the history of a heavenly vision, seen by John in the island of Patmos, required no other addition. What John would write John alone, without other addition or explanation, excepting the great John, John the Apostle and president of all the Churches ? A private person would have described himself by the addition of his father's name, according to the custom of the ancients. A Bishop or Presbyter would have added the name of his Church; but John, the Apostle, needed no such distinguishing mark or appellation. A fabricator of an Epistle, containing a revelation in St. John's name, would perhaps have added his titles of “ Apostle of Jesus Christ," &c. or would have introduced some circumlocution in imitation of those in his Gospel; but, from the expression, as it now stands, we derive a much stronger evidence that it is the genuine work of St. John*

III. The third objection is, “ That the Revelation does not mention the catholic Epistle, nor the catholic Epistle the Revelation."

This objection Lardner has pronounced to be “ of little moment.” Michaelis seems to have been of the same opinion, for he has not noted it; if the rea

* St. Paul, in the opening of his Epistles, has used generally, not always, the term “ Apostle ;" but with him it was more necessary than with St. John, who was confessedly such, haying been numbered with the Twelve. St. Paul's right to the apostleship, haying been established more privately, had been doubted by some, which leads him to say, “ Am not I an Apostle ?" &c. (1 Cor. ix. 1.) and, therefore, he generally asserts himself, in his Epistles, to be an Apostle. St. John had no need to use the term ; his authority as an Apostle was undoubted : he, therefore, calls himself by an humbler title, “A brother' and companion in tribulation :” so St. James, al. though an Apostle, mentions himself only as “A servant of God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ." Jam.i. l.

der think it deserving of an answer, he is referred to Lardner*.

'IV. Fourthly, it is objected, “ That there is a great agreement in sentiment, expression, and manner, between St. John's Gospel and Epistle ; but the Revelation is quite different in all these respects, with. out any resemblance or similitude."..

Michaelis repeats this objectiont; and then asks the question, whether it is possible that the author of the one and of the other could be the same person?

Two methods have been taken to avoid the force of this objection, which has been derived from comparing the imagery, sentiments, and style in these se. parate works, all attributed to St. John.

Ist. It has been asserted that a prophetical work of St. John, cannot be expected to have resemblance to. his Gospels and Epistles...

2dly. The fact has been denied ; it has been asserted that this dissimilarity does not exist ; that there is in the Apocalypse a strong resemblance of senti. ment and character, to the other written productions of St. John.

I do not find that either of these points have been so clearly proved as to afford satisfaction to the learned. I will suggest another method of answer.

In perusing the Apocalypse, I remark that the sen. timents, the notions, the images, presented in the book, are, in very few passages, those of the writer, (such I mean as had been digested in, and arose out of his own mind,) but of that holy Spirit, or of those heavenly inhabitants, who expressed them to him by h} symbols, or declared them by speech. The pen of John merely narrates, and frequently in the very words of a heavenly minister. « That which he sees and hears,” he writes, as he is commanded ; (ch. i. 19.) but they are not his own ideas from which he

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »