תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

heed lest you cause others to lose it. Remember, the belief of the one has produced the rejection of the other. Remember, too, what first led to the ascription of that doctrine to the Apocalypse—oral Tradition; Tradition, contrary to God's written Word. You justly charge Rome with making the Word of God of none effect by her tradition * Take heed lest you give a triumph to Rome, and bring discredit on yourselves by preaching this doctrine, derived from oral tradition ;-tradition, it is true, commended by Papias, Justin, and Irenæus, and exercising a wide and dominant influence; and so teaching the Church, by a memorable example, how unsafe it is, in matters of doctrine, to abandon the solid substance of the Divine Oracles, and to catch at the airy shadows of human memories t.

Take heed, also, lest you who belong to a Protestant Church, and revere the principles of the English Reformation, expose yourselves to a charge of inconsistency, by maintaining a doctrine condemned by the most eminent Reformers, and by the Church of England herself.

Take heed, likewise, lest you give encouragement to the recklessness or supineness of profligate or thoughtless men, by flattering them with a delusive hope that the day of their account will be prorogued for a thousand years after the next coming of Christ.

* Mark vii. 11. Matth. xv. 6.

† Gerhard Loci Theol. ix. p. 322. Memorabili Papiæ exemplo Deus Ecclesiam monere voluit, quam periculosum sit incertas traditiones prætermissis Scripturis sequi.

But the advocate of Millenarian doctrines may perhaps allege that he does not desert the Word of God: that he clings to it: that he believes the Apocalypse to be Scripture; and that he finds the Millennium there. It is no fault of mine (he may proceed to say) if this doctrine displeases some, or leads them to reject the Apocalypse. I believe the doctrine, and I receive the Book; and I love the Book, because it contains the doctrine. I appeal to the Twentieth chapter. There Jesus Christ descends from heaven: He chains Satan for a thousand years ; the souls of the just live; this is the first resurrection : they reign with Christ a thousand years on earth in the new Jerusalem ; they are set on thrones, and judgment is given them: then Satan is loosed for a little season to deceive the nations, to gather them to battle, to war with the Saints; and then Satan is vanquished and bound for evermore, and the rest of the dead are raised, and the universal judgment ensues: and the righteous ascend to heaven, and the wicked are cast into hell.

Here, he affirms, is the doctrine of the Millennium; "and I hold that doctrine,” he says, “ because I find it in the Apocalypse, and because I believe the Apocalypse to be the Word of God.”

Such is the language of those who maintain a Millennium.

We have spoken already of two causes of the Millenarian error; and now we are led by these allegations to mention a third. This is to be found

in an incorrect view of the plan of the Apocalypse.

The advocates of this doctrine have commonly supposed that the Apocalypse is, if we may so speak, a continuous prophetical history, flowing on in a regular chronological stream from the beginning to the end * This being their theory, they are necessarily led to regard the events of the Twentieth chapter as subsequent to those of the Nineteenth; and since the nineteenth terminates with the destruction of the Beast and the False Prophet, and with the great Victory of Christ in the mystical conflict of Armageddon, they cannot conceive that the Twentieth chapter refers to events of earlier date, or indeed to any thing else than a period posterior to that great triumphant catastrophe.

But this theory is, I am persuaded, very erroneous. The Apocalypse is not a consecutive Prophecy. Rather, it is to be regarded as a synoptical system of co-ordinate Prophecies. And so it was regarded by the Ancient Expositors. They perceived that it consisted of frequent anticipations and frequent recapitulations t; that is, they saw that the

* See more on this subject below, Lecture VI.

† Thus, e.g. Bede Prolog. in Apoc. Juxta consuetudinem libri istius

usque ad sextum numerum ordinem custodit, et prætermisso septimo recapitulat. Sed et ipsa recapitulatio pro locis intelligenda est. Aliquando enim ob origine Passionis (sc. Christi) aliquandò a medio tempore, aliquandò de solâ novissimâ pressurâ, aut non multò antè, dicturus recapitulat. Illud tamen fixum servat, ut a sexto recapitulet.

inspired Writer, borne as it were on the wings of the Spirit, hastened on to future events, which he would again describe more fully hereafter; and that, when he had arrived at the brink of the consummation of all things, he suddenly returned, either to the first age of Christianity, or to some intermediate point; and then, beginning, as it were, from a fresh source, travelled down by a new stream; and that this he did at several successive times.

For example: they did not imagine that the addresses to the Asiatic Churches were to be limited to those seven Churches, but were to be applied by a figurative expansion to the Christian Churches of every age and country.

Again : the period of the seven Seals, according to them, extends to the end of time; and, with the opening of the seventh, the Evangelist commences again at the initial point from which he had before proceeded; and he declares more fully in the Trumpets, what had before been revealed in the Seals.

So, again, after the sounding of the sixth Trumpet, he receives the little Book *, and reverts to an earlier period : whence be advances forward ; and after the sounding of the seventh Trumpet he returns to the first origin of the Church t, and traces its history, with reference to a particular power—that of the Beasteven to the end. He then returns to speak of the

* Chap. x. 8.

+ Chap. xii.

seven Vials *, to be poured on the Empire of the Beast; then he reverts to describe more fully the judgment of the Harlot seated on the Beast †; and thence he proceeds to the eve of the end. This is the close of the nineteenth chapter.

And what now is the subject of the Twentieth Chapter ?

The Seals being all opened, the Trumpets having all sounded, the Vials being all poured out, he reascends once more, and once for all t, in order to declare what Christ had done for His Church, even from His incarnation ; how He had bound Satan; how He had preserved His faithful servants in every age s ; how He had done His part, and would do so

* Chap. xv. 1.

* Chap. xvii. 1. Bede ad loc. Recapitulans ab origine plenius exponit quomodo supra dixerit. Haymo. ad loc. Revertitur ad superiora, id est ad ea quæ ante adventum Christi facta sunt. In hâc enim prophetiâ non servatur ordo Historiæ. Angelus hic est Dominus Jesus Christus qui de coelo descendit, quia homo factus fortem alligavit et eos qui fuerunt vasa iræ fecit vasa misericordiæ. Clavis abyssi discretio significatur quâ Deus aliquando reprobos sævire permittit contra Ecclesiam : et sicut clavi aperietur ostium et iterum clauditur, sic Diabolus et ejus membra modò sævire permittuntur, modò exire prohibentur. Per catenam verò Dei potestas significatur quæ omnia cingit, omnia complectitur, quam habet in manu, id est in potestate VERBI, “per Quod omnia facta sunt."

$ Idem, 1. c. Millenarius numerus in Scriptura pro perfectione rei ponitur. Decies enim deni centum fiunt: Quæ jam figura plana est: decies autem centum Mille qui numerus in altitu

« הקודםהמשך »