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teresting and valuable Epistle * And it cannot be supposed that he who, we see, was so diligent and circumspect in his inquiries concerning the Old Testament, would have been less careful respecting the New, and especially concerning that particular Book of the New Testament, the Apocalypse, which contains an address to his own predecessor, and to his own Church; and to which, on other grounds, his best consideration must have been given, for he wrote a Commentary | upon the Apocalypse.
The evidence, therefore, of Melito is very important. He also received the Apocalypse as the work of St. John.
The latest witness to whom we shall here appeal is St. Irenæus. He was probably a native of Asia Minor, whence he migrated to France, where he became Bishop of Lyons toward the close of the second century. In his youth he had been acquainted with St. Polycarp, who was placed in the see of Smyrna by the Apostles, and, as some affirm, by St. John himselff; and who is supposed by learned men—for instance, by Archbishop Ussher—to be no other than the Angel of the Church of Smyrna, who is addressed in the Apocalypse.
In his great work against heresies, published only about ten years after St. Polycarp's martyrdom,
* Euseb. iv. 26. S. Hieron. Catal. c. xxiv. See “ Lectures on the Canon," Lect. iii. p. 76, and Appendix, No. V. † Euseb. iv. 26. S. Hieron. Catal. xxiv.
Tertullian. de Præscr. c. 32. S. Iren. iii. 3, 4. ap. Euseb. v. 20. cp. Euseb, iv. 14. S. Hieron. Catal. S. c. xvii.
Irenæus refers to the Apocalypse * He mentions ancient Manuscripts of it, which he himself had examined; and he speaks of a particular reading † of a particular passage I in the Apocalypse, (that concerning the number of the Beast,) as being confirmed by the authority of those “who had seen St. John face to face.” In this single work he quotes the Apocalypse no less than twenty times; he makes long extracts from it; and speaks of it in the most unhesitating manner, as inspired Scripture, and as the work of St. John.
The testimony of St. Irenæus is of more value, because it was probably derived from Asiatic Bishops; for example, from Papias, whom he mentions as an authority, and especially from St. Polycarp s, whose life, like that of his Master, St. John, seems to have been providentially prolonged to almost a patriarchal duration, in order that he might be a witness of the living Voice of Apostolic Teaching, till the Written Word was generally diffused.
Such, then, is the testimony from the country || to which the Apocalypse was originally sent; such, we
* Clinton, Fasti Romani, A.D. 166. Cave, i. p. 66, 67. de Irenæo. † Iren. v. 30. cf. Euseb. v. 8. Rev. xiii. 18.
§ Euseb. iv. 14. v. 20. || Mr. I. C. Knight, in p. 12–15 of an ingenious Essay on the Apocalypse, (Lond. 1842,) has shown reason for believing, that St. Ignatius, in Epist. ad Philad. 6, imitated the words in Rev. iii. 12, which, he observes, were addressed to the same Church, that of Philadelphia ; and therefore St. Ignatius, the friend of say, is the contemporary witness of the Asiatic Churches to which it was addressed. Next: be it carefully remembered, that not a tittle of evidence of a contrary kind can be adduced from those Churches, and from that age.
No doubt whatever was entertained by the Apocalyptic Churches concerning the inspiration and genuineness of the Apocalypse. On the contrary, those were condemned as holding heretical opinions, the Alogi, for instance, of the second century, who denied the Apocalypse to be St. John's *. Very striking are the words of Tertullian, at the close of the second century :-“We can appeal to the Churches which are the foster-children of St. John; for though Marcion, the heretic, rejects his Apocalypse, yet the series of the Asiatic Bishops derives its origin from St. Johnt.” All the Apocalyptic Churches ascribed the Apocalypse to St. John.
Let us now pause here for a moment, and consider the facts before us.
A Writing, claiming to be from heaven, dictated in language of the most solemn and sublime kind, predicting future events, presenting, as it were, a series of pictures of the World's History to the end of Time, is sent to Seven Apostolic Churches of the
Polycarp, and scholar of St. John, may be added to the witnesses in favour of the inspiration of the Apocalypse.
* Epiphan. Hæres. li. 3, 4. 32, 33. Philastr. Hæres. lx. al. 13. + Tertullian c. Marcion. iv. 5. See ibid. iji. 14.
most distinguished cities in the light and splendour of Asia: to Ephesus, the rich emporium of the East; to Smyrna, the nurse of Poets; and to Sardis, the ancient residence of Kings. It purports to come from an exile on the barren rock of Patmos, an isle almost within sight of Ephesus, and therefore very accessible to those to whom the book is sent; it speaks in the voice of authority to those Churches, and to their spiritual Rulers; it pronounces judicial sentence upon them; it rebukes their failings, and commends their virtues; it promises blessings to those who receive the words of its own prophecy, and denounces eternal woe on all who add to, or take away, from it.
from it. In a word, it speaks to men as being itself from God.
And what is the result ?
This Book—with these claims, reproofs, promises, and threats—is received by all these Churches as the Word of God; and is ascribed by them to the beloved Disciple, the blessed Apostle and Evangelist, St. John.
Such is their testimony; and they could not have been deceived in this matter. St. John was no stranger to them. He lived and he died among them. If then the Apocalypse is not from God, and if it is not the work of St. John, it cannot be imagined that the Apostolic Churches of Asia would have conspired to receive it. Their duty, both to God and to the Apostle, required them not to do so. No; on the other hand, the Angels of these Churches, with one voice, would have protested against it. Not only they would not have recognized it as divine, not only they would not have received it as the work of St.John, but they would have condemned it as falsely ascribed to the Apostle, and impiously laying claim to the incommunicable attributes of God. It would have taken a place among those spurious Revelations (to which we have referred) which were ascribed by heretics to Peter, Paul, and Thomas; and the World would have heard no more of the APOCALYPSE of St. John.
We are now arrived to the point of our argument, at which we are led to observe, that we have other evidence-I mean silent evidence-in behalf of the inspiration and genuineness of the Apocalypse : and this evidence is of the most cogent kind; for it is the evidence of St. John himself.
The Apocalypse was published at the close of the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian *; that is, about the year of our Lord 95. Some have assigned an earlier t, but no one a later, date than this. Now
* “ Historia nota est,” says Bede, Explan. Apocalyps. in cap. i. “ Joannem a Domitiano Cæsare propter evangelium in hanc insulam relegatum ; cui tunc congrue secreta datum est cæli penetrare, cum certa terrarum spatia negabatur excedere.”—Lampe, Prolegom. ad Joann. 61, 62, says: “ Tota antiquitas in eo abundè consentit quod Domitianus exilii Joannis author fuit.” Cp. Vitringa Anacr. ad Rev. iv. 1, and vi. 1.
† The use of the Pauline Benediction, Rev. i. 4, xxii. 21, is a conclusive proof, that it could not have been written under Nero. See “ Lectures on the Canon,” p. 233, 234.