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Apocalypse *. But a particular comparison of the passages in each writer would involve us in too long a disquisition. I mention these books, that the reader may compare them at his leisure. By the preceding observations we may appear fully to have answered the objection to the Apocalypse, which first proceeded from the Alogi, and was afterwards taken up by some of the Church, that not Saint John, or any Apostle, but that Cerinthus, or some false fabricator, was the author of the workf. I pass on to the consideration of an objection against the Apocalypse, which is also connected with its internal evidence; preferred against it in very early times, and often repeated even to . this day, the obscurity of the book. This was the grand stumbling block with the ancient Fathers: and it continues to be such with Michaelis, who frequently repeats it;. To this general charge of obscurity, a general answer may be given. How can you expect a series of prophecies, extending from the apostolical age to the consummation of all things, to be otherwise than obscure ? It is the nature of such prophecy to give but an imperfect light Š, * See Mr. Gray's learned and judicious account of this book: Gray's Key to the Old Testament. + Michaelis has shewn, from internal evidence, that Cerinthus could not be its author, p. 469. † P. 459, 502, 503, 511.
§ 2 Pet. i. 19. 1 Pet. i. 10, 11, 12.
even in the case of prophecies fulfilled; because the language in which they are delivered is symbolical, which, though governed by certain rules", and therefore attainable by the judicious among the learned, is nevertheless very liable to Inisconstruction, in rash and unskilful hands. But prophecies, yet unfulfilled, are necessarily involved in deeper darkness, because the event is wanting to compare with the prediction, which of itself is designedly obscure : “For God gave “such predictions not to gratify men's curiosity “by enabling them to foreknow things; but “that after they were fulfilled, they might be “interpreted by the event, and his own provi“dence, not that of the interpreter, be then “manifested thereby to the worldf.”
This same objection of obscurity will operate as forcibly against many of the prophecies of the Old and of the New Testament, as against those of the Apocalypse ; particularly the pre
dictions which appertain to the latter days . The
* See this explained in Bishop Lowth's Prelections, p. 69, 70, and in Bishop Hurd's Sermons on Prophecy. f Sir Isaac Newton on Daniel, &c. p. 251. : The Jewish Sanhedrim doubted at one tine whether they should not reject the book of Ezekiel from their Canon of Scripture; and one principal argument of this debate was the extreme
obscurity of the book. Calmet's Dissert. vol. ii. p. 369. Sir
Isaac Newton argues otherwise concerning the Apocalypse; he' argues from internal evidence, that “it is a part of this pro“phecy, that it should not be understood before the last age of
r I “ the
The book of Daniel, which has our Saviour's
“ the world; and therefore it makes for the credit of the pro“ phecy that it is not yet understood.” Sir I. Newton on Prophecy, ch. i. p. 251.
* Matt. xxiv. 15.
+ P, 503–511.
divine, merely because they do not yet understand it. If such had been the rash proceedings of the Primitive Fathers of the Church, we should not at this time have possessed the book. But it has pleased divine Providence to preserve it to us, and, if we cannot yet understand it, it is our duty to deliver, it to the studies of posterity. We cannot know what ages of Christianity are yet to come; in what manner the predictions of the book may yet be fulfilled; nor what portion of the Divine Spirit, or of human knowledge, may be yet granted to explain it. The prophecies, now dark, may, to future generations, become “a shining light,” and the apocalyptical predictions, rendered clear by their completion, serve as an impregnable bulwark of Christian faith, during the later ages of the militant Church. Difficulties are found in the abstruser parts of every kind of speculative knowledge. Every study has its dark recesses, not hitherto penetrable by human wit or industry. These apocalyptical prophecies are among the deeper speculations in the study of divinity. And are we to be surprised, that man meets with difficulties here; man whose bold, prying insolence is checked in the paths of every science, by the incomprehensible greatness of the works of God I We may, therefore, conclude, that no just cause has been assigned to induce us to reject I 2 the the Apocalypse ; but that many good reasons, arising from internal evidence, and concurring with the forcible arguments drawn from the testimonies of the ancients, require us to receive it as a book of divine inspiration :-But ! III whether as the work of John the Apostle and "lt Evangelist, will be the subject of inquiry in the Was next chapter. \to Gly ty: A\|