תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

renowned champion for the book, were much read, and in high request among those Christians who used the Syriac language *. · It is useless to pursue the history of the Apocalypse, through the dark ages of the Church. No external evidence is to be expected from such times. At length the light of the Reformation followed the reproduction of learning, and a free and critical inquiry was instituted into the testimony of the ancients, as well as into the internal evidence of the book. And what was the result? The Apocalypse is generally, and, I believe, almost universally received as canonical Scripture. Luther, and some of the first Reformers, had their doubts concerning it; but these soon subsided, being over-ruled by the more profound and accurate examination of other learned men. And although the Articles of the Lutheran Church are represented by Michaelis to leave the question open; yet he tells us at the same time, “ that the greater part of the Lutheran “ divines refer the Apocalypse, without doubt or si scruple, to the class of canonical writings of the “ New Testament t."

Tue CHURCH OF ENGLAND was blessed with the important privilege of settling her articles and her canon' of Scripture at a later period; at a time when the testimonies of the ancients concerning the books of Scripture, were more accu. rately ascertained ; when the first crude notions

* P. 479. + P. 501.

of the Reformers had been niatured into safe opinions, by the progress of time and of truth *. But the Church of Eogland had no hesitation to place the book of Apocalypse in her sacred canon ; and, I doubt not, her sons will continue to supply her with irrefragable reasons for retain. ing it.

And here I close what I have been able to collect of the external evidence for the Apocalypse.

We have seen its rise, as of a pure fountain, from the sacred rock of the apostolical Church. We have traced it through the first century of its passage, flowing from one fair field to another, identified through them all, and everywhere the same. As it proceeded lower, we have seen attempts to obscure its sacred origin, to arrest or divert its course, to lose it in the sands of antiquity, or bury it in the rubbish of the dark ages. We have seen these attempts repeated in our own times, and by a dextrous adversary t. But it has at length arrived to us, such as it flowed forth at the beginning.

• This is a remarkable instance of good coming out of evil. The advantage arose from the subjugated state in which this Church was holden, at the beginning of the Reformation, by the tyrannical hand of Henry the Eighth. This retarded the settlement of our ecclesiastical opinions, till they were more maturely considered, during thirty years of inquisitive research into every subject of this nature.

Kao posle on žar sogas ardporr, Deipatiluss

H on alaisen ojesdon ogu nas teugs'agisan : Anado ás durato in žas, kocha wig uereciwwy.

Iliad. O. 615.

In short, so far as the question concerning the Apocalypse is to be determined by external evidence, we may indubitably pronounce that the book is to be received as Divine Scripture, communicated to the Church by John the Apostle and Evangelist.

CHAP.

CHAP. VIII.

THE INTERNAL EVIDENCE RESPECTING THE APOCALYPSE; FROM THE COMPLETION OF ITS PROPHECIES; FROM ITS CORRESPONDENCE IN POINT OP DOCTRINE AND OF IMAGERY WITH OTHER BOOKS OF DIVINE AUTHORITY: OBJECTIONS OF MICHAELIS ANSWERED ; TRUE CHARACTER OF THE BEAUTY AND SUBLIMITY IN THIS BOOK ; ARGUMENT THENCE DERIVED; COMPARISON OF TIIE APOCALYPSE WITH OTHER WRITINGS OF THE SAME AGE: IERMAS AND SECOND BOOK OF ESDRAS. OBJECTION ARISING FROM THE OBSCURITY OF TIIE BOOK ANSWERED.

W e now proceed to the internal evidence: In the examination of which, we no longer rely on external witnesses : we search the work itself; we try its interior marks and character; and determine, by the judgment thence arising, whether it be of divine authority. The inquiry will be two-fold. 1st, Whether, from the internal form and character of the Apocalypse, it appears to be a book of divine inspiration. 2dly, Whether it appears to have been written by the Apostle John.

H2

I. If

I. If all, or indeed most Christians, were agreed upon the same interpretation of the Apocalyptic Prophecies, this question might be determined by a short and summary proceeding. It would only be necessary to ask-Have these prophecies been fulfilled ? for, if it be answered in the affirmative, the consequence immediately follows ; the Prophet was inspired, and his book is divine.

This criterion may, in some future time, when the Apocalyptical Prophecies have been more successfully studied, produce sufficient evidence to the point in question. But it cannot be applied at present, so as to produce general conviction. We must argue from points in which there is a more general agreement. Omitting there. fore for the present, the inportant question (which it would take a very large compass to discuss) whether the prophecies have been generally fulfilled or not, we may consider the book independently of this evidence. We may compare the doctrines which it exhibits, and the pictures and images which it presents, with those contuined in other writings universally acknowledged to be of divine authority.

To do justice to this topic, would require a regular examination of the whole book, a particular induction of passages, by a comparison of which with other texts of Scripture, their agreement or dissimilarity would appear, and arguments be derived, to determine whether it came from the sąme source. This proceeding would be too ex

tensive

« הקודםהמשך »