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ture of the Apocalypse is noble and sublime; that “ the imitation of the ancient Prophets is, for the “ most part, more beautiful and more magnificent -“ than the original *; more short, more abounding in picturesque beauties t." Whilst I
Whilst I agree with him in this decision, I would point out the cause of it. It is not to be accounted for from the superior ability or art of the writer (for there is in him no aim at eloquence), he drew simply, nay, with rude lines, from the heavenly ojects before him; they were frequently the same objects from which other sacred penmen had coloured ; but they were presented to the writer of the Apocalypse in a more noble attitude and appearance, by his Divine Conductor.
The DocTRINES OF CHRISTIANITY are by no means a principal subject of the Apocalypse; but if we advert to the doctrines delivered in this book, we shall find a perfect congruity with those delivered in other apostolical writings. No doctrines are herein taught, which are in the least degree at variance with any divine revelation of the New Testament. Michaelis entirely acquits the Apocalypse of the general and unfounded charge advanced by Luther, that “ Christ is not “ taught in it;" but I am sorry to observe that he afterwards qualifies this just concession, by asserting that “ the true and eternal Godhead of “ Christ is certainly not taught so clearly in the “ Apocalypse, as in St. John's Gospel.” Could * P. 533, 534, + P. 543. # P. 538.
he expect so clear an exposition from a prophecy, which respects chiefly future events, as from a Gospel which the ancients have described as written principally, with the view of setting forth the divine nature of Christ? But this divine nature is also set forth in the Apocalypse; and as clearly as the nature of the book, and as symbols, can express it. He is described as sitting on the throne of his Father's glory,“ in the midst” of that throne, far beyond the cherubim, far above all principalities and powers; and all the heavenly inhabitants are described as falling prostrate before him, as to their God *. And all this is exbibited in a book which denies worship to angels t. But lest symbols should not carry sufficient expression with them, words unequivocal are added. He is called (and no-where else in Scripture but in St. John's writings) “ the Word of God £;" which (notwithstanding all that our author has advanced to lower the meaning of the expression) can be understood only in the same sense as the same words of the Gospel, to which indeed it evidently refers. The primitive Christians understood it in this sense; and because it could be understood in no other, the Alogi rejected the Apocalypse for the same reason that they rejected the Gospel of St. John §. Our Lord is also described in the Apocalypse, as the “ Alpha " and Omega,” the first and the last; which
• Rev. iii. 21. v. 6. ad fin.
Ch. xix. 1S.
+ Ch. xxii. 8.
expression, notwithstanding any attempts to lower its signification, will be understood by orthodox Christians to mean that divine nature, which from “ the beginning was with God,” the original Creator and final Judge of the world.
With the same view of supporting his argument, Michaelis has represented the dignity of Christ as lessened in the Apocalypsc, because he happens to be mentioned after the Seven Spirits, which our author supposes to represent seven angels. But this cannot be thus interpreted; because the Seven Spirits stand before the throne, but Christ has his seat upon it, and in the midst of it. And, indeed, reasons may be assigned, why Christ is mentioned after the Seven Spirits. They are represented standing in presence of the throne, before he enters to take his seat. They compose a part of the heavenly scenery, and are so necessarily connected with the throne, and with Him that sate thereon, that the mention of the one brings the mention of the other. But our Lord was not seen till afterwards. And if he be mentioned last, it is only to dwell the longer upon his divine glories, which occupy four verses in this description; whereas the Seven Spirits are only named.
There is one passage in the Apocalypse, which, by having been literally and improperly interpreted, has given offence to pious Christians in all ages of the Church, as introducing doctrines inconsistent with the Gospel purity. This is the description contained in a part of the twentieth
chapter, where the servants of Christ are seert raised from the dead, to reign with him a thou
But this is no doctrine, it is a prophecy, delivered in a figurative style, and yet unfulfilled. Such a prophecy, no judicious person will attempt to explain otherwise than in very general terms: much less will he draw from it any doctrine, contradictory to, or inconsistent with, the known word of God. The prophecy, we trust, will, in its due time, be fulfilled, and thereby the truth of God will be gloriously manifested. In the mean time it must be received as the word of God, though we understand it not. The extravagant notions of the Chiliasts are, therefore, no just imputation on the Apocalypse; which must not be accused of containing unscriptural doctrines, in passages which cannot yet be understood. Other places of the Apocalypse, which are objected to by our author in his section on “ The Doctrine delivered in the Apocalypse," will be found to contain no doctrines, but figurative representations of future events, which he appears to have misconceived.
We may, therefore, truly assert of the Apocalypse, that, fairly understood, it contains nothing which, either in point of doctrine, or in relation of events, past or to come, will be found to contradict any previous divine revelation. It accords with the divine counsels already revealed. It expands and reveals them more completely. We see the gradual flow of sacred prophecy (accord
ing to the true tenour of it, acknowledged by divines), first a fountain, then a rill, then, by the union of other divine streams, increasing in its course, till at length by the accession of the prophetical waters of the New Testament, and, above all, by the acquisition of the apocalyptical succours, it becomes a noble river, enriching and adorning the Christian land.
Michaelis speaks in high terms of the beautifully sublime, the affecting and animating manner in which the Apocalypse is written. But in what does this extraordinary grandeur and pathos consist? Not in the language, as he seems to imagine; for the evidence which he brings to confirm this notion, goes directly to refute and contradict it. “ The Apocalypse,” says he, “ is beautiful “ and sublime, &c. not only in the original, but “ in every, even the worst translation of it*." But is this the description of a beauty and sublimity arising from language? Will such stand the test of a bad translation ? far otherwise. Beauty which consists in language only, is seen to vanish with the language in which it was written, and in translation is very seldom preserved. But there is another kind of beauty, another kind of sublimity, which even a bad translation may convey: and excellence which stands this trial, is found to consist, not in language, but in ideas and imagery. These, in the Apocalypse, are so grand, so simple, so truly
* P. 533, and again ch, iv, sect. 3. p. 112.