תמונות בעמוד

who, he says, had seen the Apostle John. Ilc appeals also to the Asiatic Churches, in which he appears to have been educated *. When rcmoved froin Asia into Gaul, where, upon the martyrdom of Pothinus, he became Bishop of Lyons, he kept up a correspondence with the brethren of the Asiatic Churches, from whom he would continue to receive the most genuine information then to be obtained concerning the Apocalypse. He was, in his own character, the most learned, pious, prudent, and venerable prelate of the age in which he lived t. He wrote largely in defence of the truth; and it has been a prevailing opinion in the Church, that he sealed his testimony with his blood.

Here then is a witness, far surpassing, in authority and credibility, any that bas bitherto been produced. Accordingly, his evidence has been received by the writers nearest to his time, and, with the very few exceptions which we have now produced, by the universal Church. And, until these days, there has not been the least doubt of the import of his evidence; no one has seen occasion to interpret his words, otherwise than

* Iren. lib. iii. 3. v.8. Euseb. H. E. lib. iv. 14, v. 20.

+ It was principally by the wisdom, authority, and moderation of Irenæus, that the furious Victor, Bishop of Rome, was kept in order, and induced, ta tns ropnums opovery, to think of the things which make for peace, when a schism was about to take place between the Eastern and Western Churches, occasioned by the dispute concerning the time of keeping Laster.---Euseb. H. E. lib. v. 24.

according according to their obvious and received meaning _" that the visions of the Apocalypse were seen in the times of Domitian *. But since a novel interpretation of these words has been attempted, in order to press them into the service of a preconceived opinion, it will be necessary to produce thein.

Irenæus, speaking of the mystical name ascribed to Antichrist in the süith chapter of the Apocalypse, and of tlie difficulty of its interpretation, adds, 31 de deu avaPardov EY TWO VUV kaipw xnρυττεσθαι τένομα τέλο, δι' εκεινε αν ερρεθη τε και την αποκαzerbir

γαρ προ πολλου χρονου έωραθη, αλλα σχηδον επι της ημέτερας γενεας, προς το τέλος της Δομέτιανου ägxns : which may be thus literally translated :“ But if it had been proper, that this name “ should be openly proclaimed in this present " time, it would have been told even by him “ who saw the revelation. For it was not seen “ a long time ago, but almost in our own age

(or generation), toward the end of Domitian's reign.”

These words are plain and unequivocal; no variety of interprétation of them arose during

ωρακοτος. Ουδε

* Michaelis, in another part of his work, considers the testimony of Irenæus, so far as relates to St. John's writings, as of the highest authority. “ Irenæus,” says he,“ is not only the * most ancient toriter on this subject, but was a disciple of Poly“ carp, who was personally acquainted with St. John. Conse“quently Irenæus had the very best information on this subject.” Introd. vol. iii. ch. vii. See also his translator's judicious reipark's on the importance of Irenaeus's testimony.


sixteen hundred years, in which they were read by the Churchi. And, indeed, the only doubt concerning them now is, “ what it is that Irenæus “ affirms to have been seen in Domitian's reign?” What does the verb seen refer to, and agree

with? What is the nominative case to the verb ewpaon? Now, I will venture to affirm, that no Greek scholar, unbiassed by any favourite opinion, can possibly suppose that the verb Ewpahin, “ was seen," can be referred to any other nominative than 'H Amoxaherlis, “ The Revelation.”— But it is not a matter wherein a critical knowledge of the Greek tongue is required, to enable us to decide. Plain common sense is to supply what is wanting. And no person, possessed of that valuable qualification, can read this passage, translated literally into any language, without perceiving that the thing represented to be seen in the latter clause, must be the same which was said to have been seen in the former. The same verb, used so nearly with a relative, must refer to the same noun. Otherwise, there is no dependence on common language: and we must, in all our writings, be driven to use the repetitions which are in usage among the lawyers; and Irenæus, if he were 'to write in modern times, must be instructed to say, after the word “ Reve"lation,” not " It was seen,” but the “ Aforesaid Revelation" was seen.

But if the discovery of these modern critics had rested upon any solid or probable foundation, they would be agreed among themselves; not only in rejecting Atirahustabus as the nominative to which the verb is to be referred, but in ascertaining the noun which is to supply its place. They are agreed so far as to perceive the necessity of rejecting the common and obvious interpretation, (because, this being admitted, their explications of the prophecies cannot stand); but they contend, among each other, about the method of supplying the new interpretation. And, indeed, every proposition made by them, with a view to supply a new nominative to swabn, is full of difficulty, and absurdity. Michaelis seems to pass this sentence upon all of them but one, which refers twee on to to Ovous, and which, to me, appears as forced and improbable as any of the rest. What was seen? answer, the name was seen! If Irenæus had intended this meaning, he would not have written swpasn but nu8o6n. Michaelis has suggested this; and it is a sufficient answer. Yet this able critic is still inclined to favour this application of the verb, referring to övqua to Titan. But this is to break all bounds of grammatical connection. And, to suppose, as this forced construction requires, that Irenæus understood the Emperor Domitian to be Titan and Antichrist, is to make Irenæus contradict himself; for this father plainly tells us, that he understood not this prophecy; and that, in his opinion," it is better to wait the

completion of it, than to guess at names, which may seem to fit the mystical figures." Ire


[ocr errors]


næus *, therefore, considered the prophecy as not having been fulfilled in the times before him nor is there any colour of proof for supposing, that he considered Domitian as a type of Antichrist, or that there had been any partial completion of the prophecy. Besides, the context of Irenæus, if examined, will admit none of these novel and forced interpretations. It evidently requires the old and obvious acceptation. The object of Irenæus is to dissuade his readers from a difficult and presumptuous attempt to settle who is Antichrist, by applying, in the manner he had shewn, the Greek figures 666. And his argument is to this effect: “ The mystery was not “ intended to be cleared up in our times : for if “ it had, it would have been told by him who “saw the vision.” This implies that the vision had been seen lately. But, to complete the argument, and to support the last clause of it, which was not perfectly clear, Irenæus adds“ for it was seen at no great distance from our own times.”

In short, all these new interpretations are inconsistent and absurd, and have no support bat what is derived from the Latin translation of Irenæus, which is allowed to be very imperfect; and if it had been of greater authority, could only disclose to us the translator's opinion of the

• Lib. v. Euseb. H. E. lib. iii. c. 18.

+ Grabe asserts and proves it to be barbarous and defective. Proleg. in Irenæum.


« הקודםהמשך »