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in maintaining the inspiration and genuineness of both these Sacred Books—the learned teacher of Alexandria, Origen.... He showed that the Apocalypse had been misinterpreted * He gave its true exposition, and so restored it to the Church.
The school of Origen gave birth to Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria t, one of the greatest Doctors of the Church, in the third century; distinguished alike by learning and charity.
It appears, that in his age Millenarian doctrines had spread themselves widely in Africa. Inspired with zeal for the souls committed to his care, he repaired in person to the Churches in which these opinions prevailed, and summoned the Clergy of his diocese to a conference, at which many of the laity also were present. A book, in which those tenets were promulged, was made the subject of patient discussion for three days. The Bishop tested each of its propositions by Scripture, and carefully examined the allegations of the Millenarians. The
* Euseb. vi. 25. Orig. de Princ. ii. c. xi. Tom. I. p. 104, ed. Paris, 1733. “Judaico sensu Scripturas divinas intelligunt solius literæ discipuli," "fingentes sibi Jerusalem terrenam urbem reædificandam," he says of the Millenarian interpreters of the Apocalypse. And in Philocal. cap. xxvi., and Proleg. in Cantica, iii. p. 28, he says that the doctrine of the Millennium was held secretly by some of the weaker brethren among Christians. See Huet. Origen. ii. 22, who adds, that Millenarianism was condemned by Damasus in the case of Apollinarius.
† Cave, Hist. Lit. i. 124. He died A. D. 265.
result was most gratifying. The Clergy thankfully acknowledged the benefit they had derived from their Bishop's fatherly care; and the principal champion of Millenarianism among them ingenuously retracted his opinions, and acknowledged that they had no foundation in the Word of God *.
Dionysius was followed in the next century by St. Jerome. He † declares that the witness of Christian antiquity proclaims the genuineness and inspiration of the Apocalypse. He eloquently expresses his own admiration of the glorious splendours [ of this divine Book. At the same time, no one could protest more strongly than St. Jerome against Millenarian doctrines. He calls them “ Jewish fables 8.” He affirms that their advocates do not comprehend the Apocalypse. He is not one of those, he says, who have here a continuing city || : no; he looks not for an earthly but for a heavenly Jerusalem, which is the mother of us all**. He asserts
* Euseb. vii. 24, 25.
† Ad Dardanum Ep. 129. Tom. ii. p. 607. Nos utramque suscipimus (sc. Apocalypsim et Epistolam ad Hebræos) veterum Scriptorum auctoritatem sequentes. See also his Catal. Vir. Ill. c. ix.
| Ep. 1. ad Paulin iv. p. 574. Apocalypsis Joannis tot habet sacramenta quot verba. Parum dixi pro merito voluminis ; laus omnis inferior est.
§ See S. Jerome, vol. iii. ed. 1704, p. 262, in Isaiam xxx. Apocalypsim non intelligentes, &c. In Is. liv. p. 398. Nequaquam secundum Hebræos et nostros semi-Judæos in terrâ sed in coelis urbem Dei quærentes. Tom. iii. p. 966, in Ezek. xxxviii. || Heb. xiii. 14.
** Gal. iv. 26.
that they who interpret the Apocalypse according to the letter, must Judaize *. He eulogizes the exposition of Dionysius, in which that venerable writer repudiated, what he terms, “ the fable of the thousand years, and of the earthly Jerusalem, glittering with jewels and gold; and the restoration of the Hiero-Solymitan Temple; and the immolation of bulls and goats; and a new Kalendar of Sabbaths; and the victorious march of armies; and the furious din of battles; and the pompous pageantry of triumphs; and the voluptuous revelry of banquets t.” These, he exclaims, are the feverish dreams of fanatical enthusiasts ; not the sober deductions of sound reason, nor the fruits of holy meditation on the Word of God.
Such is the language of St. Jerome.
His testimony is of greater weight, because when he thus wrote he dwelt in Palestine, at Bethlehem, at the close of the fourth century, and had familiar intercourse with the Rabbis of that age; and had been led to examine carefully the Jewish notions concerning the Millennium ; and because the Churches of the East at that time had been beguiled by Millenarian arguments, extorted from the Apocalypse, to look with somewhat of distrust on that sacred book. Therefore, the assertions of
* Prolog. in lib. xviii. Is. cap. lxv. p. 478: “Si Apocalypsim Joannis juxta literam accipimus Judaizandum est.”
† Hieron. in Jerem. cap. xix. p. 620; and in Ezek. cap. xxxviii. p. 966. In Isaiam, cap. Ixv.
St. Jerome, concerning the Apocalypse and the Millennium, reiterated as they are in almost all his expository works on the Prophecies, are to be regarded as the results of cautious investigation, and the deliberate verdicts of a well-informed judgment on these important points.
Another of the greatest luminaries of that learned age was St. Augustine. He also was led to examine this subject with scrupulous care. Millenarian doctrines had been prevalent, as we have seen, in his native country, Africa, in the preceding age. He himself had once * held some of these tenets, in a modified form. But he had seen
to renounce them t. At that time, also, when the unwieldy fabric of the Roman empire was now tottering to its fall, and he that letteth was ceasing to let t, and the consequent rise of the Antichristian power was apprehended, and the whole structure of European society was convulsed from its base by the shock of barbarian irruptions, and men's hearts were failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which were coming on the earth $, their attention was naturally arrested by the Apocalypse.
In the longest work, one of the latest, which that
* De C. D. xx. 7, cp. Serm. 250, vol. v. p. 1548, ed. Paris, 1837, and cp. De Civ. D. xxii. 30. + De Civ. Dei, xx. 7.
De his duabus resurrectionibus Joannes Evangelista in libro qui dicitur Apocalypsis eo modo locutus est, ut earum prima a quibusdam nostris non intellecta in quasdam ridiculas fabulas verteretur. # 2 Thess. ii. 7.
§ Luke xxi. 26.
great Father composed, his Treatise on the City of God, written on the occasion of the tumults and panics caused by the incursions of the Vandal armies in Africa, and almost while his own city, Hippo, was beleaguered by a siege, in the midst of which he breathed his last *, St. Augustine discoursed on the Millennium. Perhaps no more valuable commentary on any portion of Scripture, certainly no more interesting one, can be found, than that which was written on the Twentieth chapter of the Apocalypse, amid the storm of arms, by the aged Bishop of Hippo. It will be found in the twentieth book † of his work on the City of God. Let me commend it to your careful perusal.
In it St. Augustine taught, as Origen, Dionysius, and Jerome had done before him, that the Apocalypse is the Word of God; and that the doctrine of the Millennium is not in the Apocalypse. The question seemed now at rest.
It was generally regarded as heretical, either to reject the Apocalypse, or to believe a Millennium .
A. D. 430, an. æt. 76, the 35th of his Episcopate. † Chapters vi, vii, viii, ix.
# Philastrius de Hæres. xii. Bibl. Patr. Max. v. p. 708. Hæresis est Chilionetitarum id est Millenariorum quæ docet ita, cum venerit Christus de cælo, mille anni erunt iterum nobis ad carnaliter vivendum, &c. Ibid. xii. Post hos sunt Hæretici qui Apocalypsin Joannis Apostoli non accipiunt et non intelligunt virtutem Scripturæ, ut etiam Cerinthi illius hæretici dicere audeant esse Apocalypsim. Cf. Epiphan. Hæres. Ixxvii. Gennad. de Eccl. Dogm. ap. Augustin. iii. c. 55, ed. Lovan. App. viii. cap. 25, ed. Bened.