« הקודםהמשך »
find, that attempts have been made to press Irenæus into this service. With what success, will be seen in our examination of the fourth opinion.
IV. For, under the fourth opinion, we must produce the words of Irenæus, which have been understood, by all the ancients, and by all the modern critics, until these days, to assert plainly and unequivocally, that the visions of the Apocalypse were seen “ toward the close of Domi. tian's reign.” If these words had been supposed by ancient writers to have been capable of any other meaning, or of such meaning as hath lately been attributed to them, the tradition of the Church would not have been so uniform. For, as Michaelis observes, “ almost all the ecclesiastical “ writers, who have spoken of the time when the
Apocalypse was written, have followed this ac
count," namely, that it was written “ toward the “ close of the reign of Domitian.” We have already produced all the evidence which has
any tendency to contradict this general testimony of the Church, and we have scen to what little it amounts. It is very far from sufficient for the purposes of those, who, wishing to apply certain prophecies of the Apocalypse to the times of Nero and his immediate successors, are driven to the attempt of establishing tliis necessary postulatum, that “it was written before the times in which (they say) these prophecies were fulfilled." This is the truc reason, (as Michaclis
allows) allows *,) why they have recourse to the testimony of Irenæus; the importance of which, to the determination of this question, may be collected from the ardent desire of these writers to make his evidence support their sentiments; but will more fully appear, by considering his character and connections, and the time in which he lived.
Irenæus was born, according to his own account, (as his words have generally been understood,) in the age immediately succeeding that, in which the visions of the Apocalypse were seen t. He was a Greek by birth, as his name and language import, and probably an Asiatic Greek, for he was an auditor of Polycarp I, who was Bishop of Smyrna, one of the seven churches, and who had been the auditor of St. John the Apostle, whom Irenæus constantly affirms to be the writer of the Apocalypse g. And accordingly, when Irenæus speaks upon such subjects as concern the external evidences of the Church, he appeals, for a confirmation of the truth of what he has advanced, to Polycarp, and to others,
* P. 524, 525,
+ The learned Dodwell has taken pains to shew, that Irenæus was born in the year 97, the very year in which the Apocalypse will appear to have been published. But there is reason to suppose
that he has fixed the birth of this father about ten years too soon. See Grabe's Proleg. ad Irenæum.
Iren. iii. 3. Euseb. H. E. iv. 14, 16. v. 4, 19, 20. f Iren. lib. iii. 3, 4. Euseb. H. E, lib. iv. 14. 16. v. 4, 19, 20, Iren. iv. 50. v. 26, 28, 30, 34, 35. Lardner, Supplement, p. 343, 378.-Cave, Hist. Lit. art. Irenæus.
who, he says, had - seen the Apostle John. He appeals also to the Asiatic Churches, in which he appears to have been educated *. When removed from 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.
Ilere then is a witness, far surpassing, in authority and credibility, any that has bitherto been produced. Accordingly, his evidence has been received by the writers nearest to his time, and, with the very few cxceptions 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 scen occasion to interpret his words, otherwise than
* Tren. lib. iii. S. 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 Roine, was kept in order, and induced, taims Espoons @govery, 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 tiine of keeping Easter.-Euseb. H. E. lib. v. 24,
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 them.
Irenæus, speaking of the mystical name ascribed to Antichrist in the xiiith chapter of the Apocalypse, and of the difficulty of its interpretation, adds, se de edee avapavdov Ev TW YUV Harbw xenρυττεσθαι τένομα τέλο, δι' εκεινε αν ερρεση τε και την αποκαλυψιν εωρακοτος.
γαρ προ πολλου χρονου έωραβη, αλλα σχηδον επι της ημέλερας γενεας, προς το τέλος της Δομένιανου agxns: which may be thus literally translated :-“ But if it had been proper, that this name “ should be openly proclaimed in this “ 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 interpretation of them arose during
* Michaelis, in another part of his work, considers the testia mony 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 writer on this subject, but was a disciple of Poly
carp, who was personally acquainted with St. John. Conse" quently Irenæus had the very best inforınation on this subject.” Introd. vol. iii. ch. vii. See also his translator's judicious remarks on the importance of Irenæus's testimony.
sixteen hundred years, in which they were read by the Church. And, indecd, 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 Ewzx9r? Now, I will venture to affirm, that no Greek scholar, unbiassed by any favourite opinion, can possibly suppose that the verb swp9n," was seen," can be referred to any other nominative than 'H Aroxanobis, “ 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 “ Afore66 said Revelation" was seen.
But if the discovery of these modern critics had rested upon any solid or probable founda