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allows") why they have recourse to the testimony of Irenaeus; the importance of which, to the determination of this question, may be collected from the ardent desire of these writers to make his evidence support their sentiments; but will more fully appear, by considering his character and connections, and the time in which he lived. Irenaeus was born, according to his own account, (as his words have generally been understood,) in the age immediately succeeding that, in which the visions of the Apocalypse were seen f. He was a Greek by birth, as his name and language import, and probably an Asiatic Greek, for he was an auditor of Polycarpi, who was Bishop of Smyrna, one of the seven churches, and who had been the auditor of St. John the Apostle, whom Irenaeus constantly affirms to be the writer of the Apocalypse $. And accordingly, when Irenaeus speaks upon such subjects as concern the external evidences of the Church, he appeals, for a confirmation of the truth of what he has advanced, to Polycarp, and to others,
* P. 524, 525, + The learned Dodwell has taken pains to shew, that Irenaeus was born in the year 97, the very year in which the Apocalypse will appear to have been published. But there is reason to suppose that he has fixed the birth of this father about ten years too soon. See Grabe's Proleg. ad Irenaeum. # Iren. iii. 3. Euseb. H. E. iv. 14, 16. v. 4, 19, 20. § Iren. lib. iii. 3, 4. Euseb. H. E. lib. iv. 14. 16. v. 4, 19, 20. Iren. iv. 50. v. 26, 28, 30, 34, 35. Lardner, Supplement, p. 348, 578.-Cave, Hist. Lit. art. Irenaeus.
who, he says, had seen the Apostle John. He appeals also to the Asiatic Churches, in which he appears to have been educated *. When removed from Asia into Gaul, where, upon the martyrdom of Pothinus, he became Bishop of Lyons, he kept up a correspondence with the brethren of the Asiatic Churches, from whom he would continue to receive the most genuine information then to be obtained concerning the Apocalypse. He was, in his own character, the most learned, pious, prudent, and , venerable prelate of the age in which he lived f. He wrote largely in defence of the truth; and it has been a prevailing opinion in the Church, that he sealed his testimony with his blood. Here then is a witness, far surpassing, in authority and credibility, any that has hitherto been produced. Accordingly, his evidence has been received by the writers nearest to his time, and, with the very few exceptions which we have now produced, by the universal Church. And, until these days, there has not been the least doubt of the import of his evidence; no one has seen occasion to interpret his words, otherwise than
* Iren. lib. iii. 3. v. 8. Euseb. H. E. lib. iv. 14. v. 20.
+ It was principally by the wisdom, authority, and moderation of Irenaeus, that the furious Victor, Bishop of Rome, was kept in order, and induced, rarms ornyns prover, to think of the things which make for peace, when a schism was about to take place between the Eastern and Western Churches, occasioned by the dispute concerning the time of keeping Easter.—Euseb. H. E. lib. v. 24.
according to their obvious and received meaning —“that the visions of the Apocalypse were seen in the times of Domitian *. But since a novel interpretation of these words has been attempted, in order to press them into the service of a preconceived opinion, it will be necessary to produce them. Irenaeus, speaking of the mystical name ascribed to Antichrist in the xiiith chapter of the Apocalypse, and of the difficulty of its interpretation, adds, so 3s sost ava payboy sy to w xxio x:fuísa'a rāyoga. Tolo, 3’ exsw8 av soon to xx, toy aroxxAtly swoxxoros. Ovès 7x6 ago woxxov xpoyov swgaon, a 77.2 zzoo, so th; #1:1:22; yewsas, woo; to Tsao; th; Aquíliarov song: which may be thus literally translated:— *But if it had been proper, that this name “should be openly proclaimed in this present “ time, it would have been told even by him “who saw the revelation. For it was not seen
“a long time ago, but almost in our own age.
“(or generation), toward the end of Domitian's
“reign.” These words are plain and unequivocal ; no
variety of interpretation of them arose during
* Michaelis, in another part of his work, considers the testimony of Irenaeus, so far as relates to St. John's writings, as of the highest authority. “Irenaeus,” says he, “is not only the “most ancient writer on this subject, but was a disciple of Poly“carp, who was personally acquainted with St. John. Conse“quently Irenaeus had the very best information on this subject.” Introd. vol. iii. ch. vii. See also his translator's judicious re
marks on the importance of Irenaeus's testimony. sixteen
sixteen hundred years, in which they were read by the Church. And, indeed, the only doubt concerning them now is, “what it is that Irenaeus “affirms to have been seen in Domitian's reign P’’ What does the verb seen refer to, and agree with ? What is the nominative case to the verb swgaon 2 Now, I will venture to affirm, that no Greek scholar, unbiassed by any favourite opinion, can possibly suppose that the verb sagaon, “was seen,” can be referred to any other nominative than ‘H Aaroxxxvilio, “The Revelation.”—But it is not a matter wherein a critical knowledge of the Greek tongue is required, to enable us to decide. Plain common sense is to supply what is wanting. And no person, possessed of that valuable qualification, can read this passage, translated literally into any language, without perceiving that the thing represented to be seen in the latter clause, must be the same which was said to have been seen in the former. The same verb, used so nearly with a relative, must refer to the same noun. Otherwise, there is no dependence on common language: and we must, in all our writings, be driven to use the repetitions which are in usage among the lawyers; and Irenaeus, if he were to write in modern times, must be instructed to say, after the word “Reve“lation,” not “It was seen,” but the “Afore
“ said Revelation” was seen. But if the discovery of these modern critics had rested upon any solid or probable founda
tion, they would be agreed among themselves, not only in rejecting Artoxaavori! is as the nominative to which the verb is to be referred, but in ascertaining the noun which is to supply its place. They are agreed so far as to perceive the necessity of rejecting the common and obvious interpretation, (because, this being admitted, their explications of the prophecies cannot stand); but they contend, among each other, about the method of supplying the new interpretation. And, indeed, every proposition made by them, with a view to supply a new nominative to swgaon, is full of difficulty and absurdity. Michaelis seems to pass this sentence upon all of them but one, which refers sweaffn to to ovoka, and which, to me, appears as forced and improbable as any of the rest. What was seen £ answer, the name was seen 1 If Irenaeus had intended this meaning, he would not have written swpaffn but n×egon. Michaelis has suggested this; and it is a sufficient answer. Yet this able critic is still inclined to favour this application of the verb, referring to Čvouz to Titan. But this is to break all bounds of grammatical connection. And, to suppose, as this forced construction requires, that Irenaeus understood the Emperor Domitian to be Titan and Antichrist, is to make Irenaeus contradict himself; for this father plainly tells us, that he understood not this prophecy; and that, in his opinion, “it is better to wait the “completion of it, than to guess at names, which “may seem to fit the mystical figures.” Ire*- In 32u.S,