Imágenes de páginas

later years.” The force of this argument has, however, been taken off by Dean Woodhouse, who has sufficiently accounted for this difference of style, by a consideration of the causes which will explain the reason of the sublime imagery and animated mode of writing in the Apocalypse, where it differs from the calmer style of St John. “ The Gospel,” he observes, “ appears to have been written by St John after an interval of about thirty years from the events which he relates?. At such a distance of time the mind is enabled to look back with composure, and to represent with serenity transactions which could not be narrated soon after they had happened, without warm and passionate expressions. It seems to be owing partly to this cause, that the Evangelist is seen to relate in so cool a tenour of style, in the Gospel, those sufferings of his beloved Lord which he had witnessed, and which, if related by him immediately after the events had taken place, could not have been told otherwise than with emotion and indignation. But the Apocalypse was written by its author immediately after he had seen the vision; the impressions on his mind had no time to cool; his expressions kept pace with his feelings, and his style became vivid and glowings.”

Such then is a portion of the evidence, on which we acknowledge the authenticity and canonical au

| See Michaëlis, Vol. iv. pp. 532– 536, where all these different objections are stated at length.

· Basnage, Lampe, Lardner, Dr Owen, Michaëlis, and Dean Wood. house, suppose it to have been written a short time previous to the destruction of Jerusalem. Chrysostom and Epiphanius, amongst the ancients, and Dr Mill, Le Clerc, Fabricius, Jones,

and Bishop Tomline, amongst the moderns, suppose it to have been written about A.D. 97 or 98. Dr Lardner supposes that it was written in the year 68. See the arguments in support of this opinion candidly stated by him, in his History of St John, Vol. 111. p. 228, &c.

3 Woodhouse, Dissertation, &c. pp. 120_123.


thority of the Apocalypse. Those who wish to pursue the subject farther, must seek for additional evidence in the writings of those persons, who have more especially considered this subject, particularly those of Dr Lardner and Dean Woodhouse. Our belief of its inspiration must rest different groundson those of its prophetical character,of doctrines contained in it, which were out of the power of unassisted reason to discover and on the many different evidences, by which we are assured that the Scriptures are a revelation from above. But it is a subject of gratitude to the Giver of every good gift, that he has vouchsafed to afford us such unimpeachable testimony in support of the authority of a book, which comes to us under the imposing and majestic character of THE GREAT PROPHECY OF THE CHRISTIAN DISPENSATION;—the storehouse of the destinies of the Christian Church to the end of all things;—which is ushered in, and is closed with a solemnity and awe, which belongs to no other book in the volume of Inspiration ;-with so solemn a blessing on “him that readeth and those that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things that are written therein“,” and with so awful a denunciation against him, who presumes either “to add or to take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, that God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book" ;" and which, above all, comes to us under the express sanction and authority of Him, who is the Author of our faith and the Finisher of our salvation.

4 Chap. i. 3.

5 Chap. xxii. 18, 19.






In endeavouring to form a right judgment with regard to the prophetical character of the Apocalypse, it is necessary that we should, in the first place, lay down the principles, on which the investigation ought to be conducted, and the grounds, on which our conclusions with regard to its prophetical character ought to be established. These are considerations of great importance : because it is, for the most part, from a want of considering the place which is occupied by the Apocalypse in the great scheme of prophecy, and what, therefore, may be justly presumed to be the great object of the prophecies contained in this mysterious book, considered with reference to this relation,—that many persons of great ability have fallen into material errors with regard to its prophetical character; and have attributed to it views, which are entirely inconsistent with the real station which it occupies in the revelations of God.

In surveying the whole range of Scripture prophecy, it may be considered under two great divisions: (1) First, that which extends from the first obscure revelation of the promise of a Redeemer to the coming of our Saviour; which includes the prophecies which were delivered under the Patriarchal and Jewish dispensations: (2) And secondly, the prophecies of the New Testament; which include those



which were delivered by our Saviour and his Apostles; and of which the most distinguished and important, considered as a body of prophecy, are those which are comprehended in the Apocalypse of St John, and which close the volume of Revelation.

Now although the prophecies of our Saviour and his Apostles relate generally to events which are connected with the most important revolutions and destinies of the Christian church, yet the Apocalypse must be considered as the great prophecy of the Christian dispensation. It occupies the same station in the new dispensation that the writings of the Jewish prophets do in the former dispensations: and as the prophecies of these dispensation form the connecting link between the first promise of a Redeemer and the coming of our Saviour, so do the prophecies of the Apocalypse, in like manner, constitute the bond of connection between this period and the great consummation of all things ;—with this additional circumstance of peculiarity, that—if the prophecies of the old dispensation have reference to the future progress and prospects of the Gospel in the world, and to the fates and destinies of the Redeemer's kingdom,—we may expect to find, in these respects, a certain harmony and agreement between the prophecies of both dispensations; and that those parts of the earlier prophecies, as well as of those which were delivered by our Saviour and his Apostles, which are connected with the more distant parts of the divine economy, should appear again in a new form, and with additional light, in this last and closing part of the oracles of God.

If such, therefore, be the connection between the prophecies of both dispensations, it is only by considering the Apocalypse in connection with the preceding prophecies of the Old and New Testaments

both with reference to the great subject of prophecy in general, and to the principles, on which these revelations of the Almighty Will to mankind have been conducted,—that we can either derive the true principles of interpretation which are applicable to this mysterious book, or establish just conclusions with regard to the real character of the revelations which are contained in it.

1. The first point, therefore, to be ascertained with reference to this part of the subject, is with regard to the great object and scope of ancient


This is expressly declared in the Apocalypse by the angel to the Apostle himself, when, in answer to the worship which was offered to him by St John, he declared to him, “See thou do it not; I am thy fellow-servant and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus : worship God; for THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS IS THE SPIRIT OF PROPHECY;" which has been well explained by Bishop Hurd: “The spirit of prophecy is but the testimony of Jesus; it has no other use or end but to do honour to him; the prophet, whether he be angel or man, is only the minister of God to bear witness to his Son; and his commission is ultimately directed to this one purpose of manifesting the glories of his kingdom!." “And this text," as the same learned writer has observed, “is properly a key put into our hands to open to us the mysteries of that dispensation, which had in view ultimately the person of Christ, and the various revolutions of his kingdom. The

| Bishop Hurd, Introduction to the Prophecies, Sermon 11. p. 29.

« AnteriorContinuar »