תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

tion, and his Platonic* training ; nor that it should have been adopted by Lactantius, who appears to have derived it from the Sibylline oracles t; nor even that it should have found, to a certain extent, an advocate in Irenæus, paying, as he himself informs us, a tribute of respect to Papias, the companion of Polycarp, the scholar of St. John.

Let us pause here to observe two facts.

First; that no doubt was entertained by any of these parties, to whom we have now referred, concerning the genuineness and inspiration of the Apocalypse. They all received it as a work of the Apostle and Evangelist, St. John. And to speak only of one of them, Papias . Whatever may be thought of his authority with respect to a question of doctrine, yet it must be regarded as high, concerning this matter of fact. He might easily, from previous impression, or from defect of judgment, or insufficient care, be deceived as to the meaning of a particular passage in such a book as the Apocalypse. But, living as he did at Hierapolis, in Asia, the

* Plato de Rep. x. p. 761, E. Phædr. p. 1223, D. Virgil Æn. vi. 748.

+ Inst. vii. 24 and 26; vide Betul. ad loc. Cf. Casaubon Exerc. Baron. i. n. xviii.

+ Iren. V. Xxxiii. ταύτα Παπίας, Ιωάννου ακουστής, Πολυκάρπου δε εταίρος γεγονώς, αρχαίος ανήρ.

§ Papias received it as inspired (see Andr. Proleg. in Apoc.). Irenæus, who cites Papias, calls it the work of St. John, iv. 20. v. 26. v. 30. See Euseb. v, 8.

country to which the Apocalypse was first sent, and within a few years after it was written, he could not easily have been mistaken with regard to the fact of its authorship. And when we remember that his evidence on this fact is corroborated, as* we shall show hereafter, by other witnesses of the same country and age, his testimony appears to prove beyond the possibility of a doubt that the author of the Apocalypse was St. John.

The second circumstance to which I refer is this: No sooner were Millenarian doctrines imputed to the Apocalypse, than the Apocalypse itself declined in repute.

I do not say that it was rejected. But it was felt that these Millenarian doctrines were inconsistent with the general teaching of Holy Scripture; and hence many in the Church began to show symptoms of restlessness and perplexity concerning the Apocalypse, to which these doctrines were ascribed. And it may be added, that the feeling of distrust and anxiety, produced by the same causes, still lingers in the minds of some even to this day, and operates to the prejudice of this divine book.

The case of the Apocalypse in this respect is similar to that of the Epistle of the Hebrews. Both these books were received as divine as soon as they were written. But doctrines, inconsistent with the plain drift of Scripture taken as a whole, were imputed by some to them both. For example, the

* See below, Lecture III.

Noratian heretics fixed on the sixth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Here they entrenched themselves, and planted the standard of their heterodoxy. So the Millenarians thought themselves impregnable in the twentieth chapter of the Apocalypse.

And what was the consequence?

Both these books of Scripture, being thus misinterpreted, were in danger of being discredited, and were rejected by some even otherwise orthodox writers. Instead of examining whether these two books did or did not teach the erroneous doctrines ascribed to them, the persons, to whom I now refer, were unhappily overreached by the bold assertions of their opponents, and cut short the matter by surrendering these books as apocryphal. Thus, for instance, Caius *, a celebrated Roman Presbyter at the commencement of the third century, in his controversy with Proclus, a follower of Montanus, abandoned the Epistle to the Hebrews. And it is remarkable, that the Montanists, who built their stern unrelenting discipline of penance on the sixth chapter of that Epistle, based their Millenarian doctrines on the twentieth chapter of the Apocalypse; and that this same Roman Presbyter, who gave up the Epistle to the Hebrews t, not only

* Flor. A.D. 210. Cave, i. p. 100. Routh. Rel. Sacr. ii. 3.

† S. Hieron Vir. Ill. Caius dicit Epistolam ad Hebræos Pauli non esse : Cf. Mill. Proleg. in Apocalyps. p. 595. Ita res habet. Sub annum Christi 210mm (neque enim ante de Libri hujus auctoritate controversiam moverat quisquam quod sciam præter Marsurrendered the Apocalypse, but even was carried so far, in his hatred of the Millenarian doctrines imputed to it, as to ascribe it, either in whole or in part, to the Judaizing heretic, Cerinthus *.

For such reasons as these, doubts were entertained in the Church of Rome concerning these books. And let us observe, in passing, that if the Church of Rome had really been, as she professes to be, the sole Guardian of Scripture, and if Scripture depended upon her for its authority, as she pretends, then Christendom would have been in great danger of losing two Books of the New Testament,—the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the Apocalypse.

Next, let us remark the subtlety of the ArchEnemy of man in his aggressions against the Word

cionem), Caius Ecclesiæ Romanæ Presbyter, ubi dogma de Millennio commendatum videret Apocalypseos testimonio in disputatione contra Proclum, librum illum non Evangelistæ Joannis esse dixit sed Cerinthi. For similar reasons, the Epistle to the Hebrews was not read in the Church of Rome. See the passage, Philast., in Appendix A. of “Lectures on the Canon," No. xvi. ; and Sulpicius Severus, cap. xxxi., says of the Apocalypse, “A plerisque aut stultè aut impiè non recipitur."

* Euseb. iii. 28. vii. 25. In both which passages the punctuation ought to have been amended, and then no occasion would have existed for the difficulty imagined by Lardner, (i. p. 641, ed. Lond. 4to, 1815,) Moses Stuart ($ 17, p. 286, Edinb. 1847), and others. The true punctuation of the latter passage is, Ούχ όπως των αποστόλων τινα, άλλ' ουδ' όλως των αγίων ή τών από της εκκλησίας τούτου γεγονέναι ποιητής του συγγράμματος, Κήρινθον δε, κ. τ.λ., which will correct also iii. 28.

of God. He not only inspired heretics to compose false books, and to propagate them as Scripture, but he tempted them to pervert Scripture by false interpretations ; and thus he made Scripture itself appear to be heretical. Nor was this all : he tempted even such pious men as Papias unwittingly to abet their artifices by an overweening zeal for oral tradition ; and he tempted such learned men as Caius to abandon portions of Scripture, because they had been perverted by heretics ! Let us observe, also, the striking fact, that this very chapter—the twentieth of the Apocalypse—in which Satan is represented as a captive, bound by the chain in the hand of Christ, and as cast by Him into the bottomless pit, was perverted by Satan into an occasion of triumph to himself against the Church, in causing thereby the temporary and partial rejection of the book in which the prophecy of his own doom is contained *.

Behold here, my beloved brethren, a most striking proof of Satan's craft and of human weakness !

But, now, mark the glorious operation of God's Providence in vindicating His own Word !

The manner in which the Epistle to the Hebrews was retrieved has engaged our attention in a former Lecture t. We speak now of the Apocalypse.

The same person was employed by Almighty God

Cornel. a Lapide ad Apoc. xx. I. c.

Millenarios in suum errorem induxit hic locus Apocalypseos, quocirca alii ex diametro his adversi, ut hunc errorem convellerent, respuebant Apocalypsim.

† On the Canon, Lect. IX.

« הקודםהמשך »