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indeed be said, that a person, inferior in dignity to the Seven Angels of Asia, might still have been employed by Almighty God to exhort and reprove them, as Samuel was employed to rebuke Eli. This is indeed possible ; and this supposition, let me observe, concedes the divine mission of the Writer; that is, it grants the very point at issue, his Inspiration.
At the same time, though it be allowed to be possible, that an inferior should be authorized and commissioned by God to rebuke a superior, and that publicly; yet it is much more probable that He, who is the Lover of Order, especially in His Church, should have employed the Ministry of a Superior, appointed by himself, to rebuke and correct an inferior.
Either, therefore, the Writer of the Apocalypse was inspired by God, and was a person (as we apprehend) superior in dignity to the Seven Angels; or else he assumed a function which did not belong to him, and he acted in a manner irreconcileable with Christian duty; and the Apocalypse would have been rejected by those to whom it was sent.
We shall inquire presently, how it was treated by those to whom it was sent. In the mean time we observe, that this authoritative and increpatory tone, to which I have already adverted, must, we conceive, be regarded as presumptive evidence of the superior dignity and divine authority of the Writer. By using it, he proves that he is persuaded of the validity of his own claim to Inspiration. He will not prophesy smooth things to the Churches: he will not bribe the Angels by flattery. No. He will tell them the truth, even at the risk of offending some, or of creating opposition from all. Observe, too, how he does, what no forger would ever have done; he challenges examination of his own claims. He praises one of the Churches, that of Ephesus, for having tried and convicted a false prophet, and thus invites them to examine his own prophecy. I know thy works, that thou canst not bear them that are evil : thou hast tried them which say they are Apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars *. He thus courts a scrutinizing examination of his own credentials. He will take good care, that no one shall ever be able to say, that the reception of the Apocalypse was due to any persuasive arts of the writer, and not to its being from God.
We are now arrived at a very interesting point in our inquiry.
How was the Apocalypse received by the Seven Angels and Seven Churches of Asia ?
Happily we have abundant materials for a reply to this question.
Our first witness is Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis, a city at a very few miles distance from Laodicea, one of the Seven Churches. He was, also, a disciple of St. John, and a contemporary with, and in a certain sense a colleague of, the Seven Angels, whom the
* Rev. ii. 2.
Author of the Apocalypse addressed*. He was very diligent in collecting memorable facts concerning the A postles, and their works: and he received the Apocalypse as the work of the Evangelist St. Johnt.
His testimony is of greater value, on account of his nearness to Laodicea ; for the Church of Laodicea could not have been ignorant of the authorship of a book addressed to itself; and if the Apocalypse had not been the work of St. John, we cannot imagine that the Laodiceans would have allowed such an unfavourable & character of their Church, as is given in the Apocalypse, to be circulated throughout Christendom s, in the name and with the authority of St. John. If the Apocalypse had been a forgery, they
* Iren, v. 33. Παπίας Ιωάννου ακουστής, Πολυκάρπου δε étoipoc.-Euseb. ii. 39. S. Hieron. Catal. Script. xviii. Tom. iv. p. 109, and Epist. ad Theodoram, iv. p. 581. See above, p. 11.
† As the fact of this testimony of Papias has been recently questioned by some, it may be necessary to state that not only do Andreas and Arethas (Prolog. in Apocalyp.) refer to Papias, as vouching for the inspiration of the Apocalypse ; but Irenæus, who unhesitatingly affirms it to be St. John's, refers to Papias as among his authorities (Hær. v. 33): and Eusebius speaks of the doctrine of Papias proceeding from αι αποστολικαί διηγήσεις, , Euseb. iii. 39; and Papias appears to have commented on the Apocalypse. See the important Scholium in Cramer's Catena, Rev. xii. 7-9.
# Rev. iii. 14—18.
§ It may be questioned whether a feeling of shame did not in fact operate on the Council of Laodicea, and lead to the omission of the Apocalypse from its list of books to be read publicly.
must have known it to be so; and knowing it so to be, they must have exposed it to the world.
This observation, you will observe, applies to others of the Seven Churches, who are addressed in similar terms of rebuke: and it adds much weight to the important facts, first, that there is a great amount of primitive testimony from the Seven Churches, assigning the Apocalypse to St. John; and that there is none from that quarter which ascribes it to any one else.
The next testimony to which we would refer is that of Justin Martyr. He was born at Sichem in Samaria at the beginning of the second century, and was eminent for his erudition, which was improved by intercourse with Christian and Heathen Philosophers in Egypt, Italy, and other countries which he visited. About the middle of the second century he came to the city of Ephesus, where he held a two days conference with Trypho, one of the most learned Jews of his day. In the narrative which he published of this dialogue, Justin Martyr quotes the Apocalypse, and affirms that it is written by one of the Apostles of Christ, whose name is John*.
This assertion, be it observed, was made only about half a century after the death of St. John, and it was made at Ephesus, the mother city of Asia, the principal of the Seven Churches, the city in which St. John passed a great part of his life, in which he died,
* Euseb. iv. 18, διάλογον επί της Εφεσίων πόλεως προς Τρύφωνα των τότε Εδραίων επισημότατον πεποίηται μέμνηται της Ιωάννου 'Αποκαλύψεως σαφώς του Αποστόλου αυτήν είναι λέγων.
and in which he was buried *. This testimony, therefore, of Justin Martyr is of great value; and it confirms the proof, that St. John was the Author of the Apocalypse.
We pass next to the evidence of Melito. He was Bishop of one of the Seven Churches, Sardis, in the second century; a successor, therefore, of one of the Seven Angels addressed in the Apocalypse. The witness of Sardis and its Bishop cannot be suspected of partiality; for Sardis, again, is one of the Churches which is rebuked with great severity in the Apocalypse. Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead t. And the character of Melito stands preeminently high both for piety and learning. He is, therefore, a very credible witness. pleasing reflection, that the reproofs of the Apocalypse were not without their fruits : and probably the pious vigilance of Melito, the Bishop of Sardis, was quickened by them. He laboured diligently for the souls committed to his care; especially in establishing their faith in the Word of God. He showed a most laudable zeal with regard to the Canon of the Old Testament. In order to assure himself and his Church of Sardis concerning the Books of the Ancient Scriptures, as received by the Churches of Palestine, he visited that country in person, and he has given the result of his critical inquiries in a very in
It is a very
* S. Justin Dialog. c. Tryphone, c. 80, 81. See also S. Hieron. Catal. c. ix.
† Rev. iii. i.