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it is certain that St. John survived till the reign of the Emperor Trajan *; that is, till, or beyond, the year of our Lord 100. Some authorities place his death so low as the year 120 t. Certain, also, it is, that in, or soon after, the year 100, when he had returned from Patmos, the Bishops of Asia, that is, the Angels of the Seven Churches, whom the Author of the Apocalypse had addressed, came to St. John at Ephesus, to which city he returned after his banishment in Patmos, and where he then resided, and that they brought to bim copies of the three Gospels of St. Matthew, St. Mark, and St. Luke, and desired of him a public declaration of his Apostolical judgment concerning these Gospels; and that St. John openly pronounced these Three Gospels to be Authentic, Genuine, and Inspired; and that, at the earnest request of the same Asiatic Bishops, St. John composed his own Gospel, as the full and final consummation of the Evangelical Volume [.
This well-attested fact proves that the Apostle St. John, aged as he then was, was not only blessed with full
* Hieron. Script. Eccl. v. Joannes.
† S. Chrysostom (?) in S. Joann. Homil. tom. viii. p. 130, Appendix, ed. Paris, 1728. εξόριστος ο Ιωάννης υπό Δομετιανού εις την νήσον την καλουμένην Πάτμον γίγνεται, δια τον λόγον του θεού, και εκκλησίαν συγγράφει ήν έδειξεν αυτω ο Θεός και Αποκάλυψιν μυστηρίων, έπειτα και τας αγίας τρείς επιστολές ... είτα επανελθών της εξορίας καταλαμβάνει την "Εφεσον, κακείσε διατρίβων συντάττει το Ευαγγέλιον ών ετών εκατόν, διαρκέσας έως όλων εκατόν Eikoow. See other authorities in Lampe's Prolegomena.
I See the authorities in “ Lectures on the Canon,” Lect. VI. p. 156, 157, and Photii Bibl. 254.
intellectual vigour during his exile in Patmos, but that his faculties were preserved unimpaired after his return to Ephesus, and that he was in habits of intercourse with the Angels of the Seven Churches of Asia for some years after the Apocalypse was written.
Now, it will be remembered that St. John was the last surviving Apostle of Christ, and that he was also Metropolitan of Asia ; and Ephesus, the civil capital of Asia, was his abode or Metropolitan See, from which he administered the ecclesiastical affairs of the Province of Proconsular Asia, or Lydia, in which all the seven Churches were situated. It will be recollected, also, that St. John not only took an active part, as from his Apostolic character and office might be expected, in authenticating genuine Scriptures, as we have just seen; but that also, as might be expected, he exerted no less vigilance and authority in condemning supposititious books, pretending to be Scripture.
In one of his Epistles he says, Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the Spirits whether they are of God: for many deceivers are gone forth into the World *. And it is expressly recorded of him, that when a writing, professing to be a canonical history of the Acts of St. Paul, had been composed by a presbyter of the city of Ephesus, St. John convicted the Author, and condemned the book t.
Suppose now, for argument's sake, the Apoca
* 1 John iv. 1.
lypse not to be inspired, and not to be written by St. John.
Here is a book, speaking, as it were, from Heaven; speaking in the name of Jesus Christ and of the Holy Spirit; speaking to the Bishops and Churches of Asia; that is, to those of St. John's own province; and arrogating the very functions which belonged to St. John himself, and to him alone; assuming the office of administering rebuke and correction to the Bishops of St. John's own jurisdiction.
Even if any one can bring himself to imagine that the seven Asiatic Angels —devout and holy men, like Polycarp—would have tolerated such presumptuous usurpation, (which is, indeed, incredible,) no one, I apprehend, will suppose, that the one Asiatic Archangel—I mean St. John-would have borne it. No; he would have treated the author of the Apocalypse as he treated Cerinthus. He would have condemned him as he condemned the Asiatic presbyter; and we should have known the author of the Apocalypse only as a second Diotrephes *
On the whole, then, we conclude, from the voice of the Angels, and from the silence of the Archangel, that the Apocalypse is inspired, and that its Author is St. John.
Before we confirm this conclusion by a brief appeal to internal evidence, let us observe, that this primitive testimony could not be invalidated by more recent allegations of a contrary kind, even if those allegations did not admit of being easily refuted on other ground in addition to those of lateness in time.
* 3 John 9.
Concerning this matter of fact, I mean the genuineness of the Apocalypse, the testimony of the Asiatic Churches of St. John's own age is worth more than all the opinions of all subsequent time. The truth also is, that all sceptical surmises on this matter, which are but slight and partial, may be easily accounted for. First, (as we have shown,) from the erroneous imputation of Millenarian doctrines to the Apocalypse, which cast a temporary cloud over it; and, next, from the reserve practised by some Churches *, (as, indeed, by our own,) not publicly reading the Apocalypse in their religious assembliest; whence it came to pass, that the Apocalypse was not inserted in some lists of Books to be read in the Church, and thence by some it was erroneously imagined not to be Canonical.
But these allegations, and all others of a like tendency, soon lost all credit; and the primitive belief concerning the inspiration and genuineness of the Apocalypse became universal.
In the prophetic words of Eusebius 1,—“Though men dispute on this side and that concerning the Apocalypse, yet assu
Conc. Laod. can. lx. Other Churches pursued a different course. By a decree of the Fourth Council of Toledo, (A.D. 633, can. xvii.) a Presbyter was liable to excommunication, if he did not read the Apocalypse in the Church at a certain period of the year. † See Hooker, V. xx. 4, with Mr. Keble's note. Euseb. iii. 24.
redly in due time its claims will be acknowledged, on the ground * of primitive testimony."
If now we open the Book itself, every thing there harmonizes with this belief t.
The Author calls himself John. I John, who am also your brother, and companion in tribulation 1. John to the Seven Churches which are in Asia §. I John saw these things, and heard them || Whom would this name, placed thus by itself, without any epithet or accompaniment, suggest? Whom but the Apostle and Evangelist, St. John ? He, and he alone, was John; their brother, and their pastor, and their guide: and no one else in his age, writing to St. John's own Churches, would have ventured to assume the name of John, in this bold and unqualified simplicity.
Again: the Author writes from the isle of Patmos, where he was, for the testimony of the Lord Jesus ; and we know that St. John was banished to that island by the Emperor Domitian, when he persecuted the Church **
* See also St. Jerome, ad Dardan. Ep. 129.
+ I have not entered into the question of alleged discrepancy of style between the Apocalypse and St. John's Gospel. (Euseb. vii. 25.) This has been already noticed in “Lectures on the Canon,” ix. p. 220-2, and has been well discussed by Guerike, Einleitung in das N. T. $ 60, p. 555. And, after all, the subject of the Apocalypse is so different from that of the Gospel, that arguments from style are scarcely admissible here. No one would argue from the Satires of Horace that he did not write the Odes. And yet how different is the style! # Rev. i. 9.
§ Rev. i. 4. || Rev. xxii. 8.
** See above, p. 95.