תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

intenseness, as the crisis which it foretells draws nearer to its accomplishment.

The evidence, however, which is attainable, that what has been thus foretold will be in reality fulfilled, is necessarily susceptible of different degrees of conclusiveness, proportionable to the nature of the proof, by which a demonstration may be effected.

The closeness with which chronology produces its results gives a cogency to its conclusions which history often fails in imparting to its deductions. Natural sagacity may be adequate, from the calculation of probabilities, to predict an event, where a foresight which is preternatural and divine would be requisite to determine the precise date of its occurrence. While chronology thus affords the most accurate instrument by which the scheme of Prophecy may be measured and applied to the course of events, its employment is recognised as legitimate by its inspired authors; as they have adopted measured periods in the prediction of incidents. And had it not been thus confirmed by the practice of Daniel and St. John, between whom a striking coincidence exists in computing events, it might derive authority from the fixed period, within which the entire scheme of prophecy, and the series of human events, is circumscribed; as comprised in the great sabbatical period, which affords evidence and illustration of 4 Newton ut supr. Vol. II. p. 410.

а

5

(4) the Millennium. With a view to this distribution of the course of time, which has been equally admitted by Jews and Christians, it has been concluded, that the Creator, who could have called the world into existence, at a moment and by a word, consumed the space of a week in its production; and thus rendered the sabbath, on which he suspended his work, significant of the sabbatism, which, in the fulness of time, would be enjoyed by the Creation.

The learned writers who have engaged in collecting authorities in support of this tenet of the Primitive Church, to which they impute much of the zeal and constancy of the early martyrs," have referred in support of it to the Jewish traditions ; and the course which they have pursued is justified by the practice of the apostolical writers, who have given it the authority of inspiration, in assigning it a place in the canonical scripture. Nor will the coincidence which is discoverable between the Rabbinical and the Evangelical writers, on this point, occasion any difficulty, when it is considered that the Jewish Church enjoyed in the prophets, a succession of inspired expositors, from whom much of their traditionary lore has descended, as comments on the sacred writings. And the extraordinary conformity between the Christian and the Jewish writers, not merely in the mode of stating the dogma, but in the images with which they have illustrated it, if it does not stamp authority on the traditionary account, will justify its production in explanation of the scripture doctrine.

5 Vid. Burnet de Stat. Mort. cap.vi. p. 148. Theor. of Earth, B. III. ch. v. Vol. II.

p: 47. 6 S. August. Civ. Dei. Lib. XX. cap. vii. Lactant. Div. Instit. Lib. VII. cap. xiv. Burnet Theor. ut supr. p. 51. Newton ut supr. p. 378.

7 Burnet de Stat. Mort, ib. p. 147. Newton, ib. p. 378.

Of the great mass of traditionary matter which has been transmitted to us through the Rabbins, but a small portion has descended with higher recommendations than that which regards the Millennium. The tradition respecting it is derived from the school of Elias; whose name is generally associated with the time of the Great Restitution, if not with the authority, after the example of the sacred writers.8 The Hebrew doctors have asserted the mystical nature of the sabbath, and have accordingly considered it as symbolical of rest in life eternal.20 The peculiar constitution of the Levitical ceremonial, in which the number seven was regarded with a religious veneration, naturally led them to form this inference; respect being had, in the appointment of the Jewish festivals, whether computed by days, weeks, months, years, or jubilees, to that septenary distribution. From these principles the dogma respecting the Millennium appears to have been derived, by an obvious and natural process of deduction." 11

8 Mal. iv. 5. Matt. xi. 4. Mark ix. 11. 9 R. Dav. Kimchi in Ps. xix. 8. 10 Zohar in Gen. fol. 3 et 4, ed. Mant.

But by whatever method of inference it may have been obtained, the Talmudical writers have expressed themselves respecting it in the following terms: “It is a tradition of the school of Elias, " that the world will last six thousand years; two * thousand devoid of law, two thousand under - the law, and two thousand under the Messiah.'12 And one of the Rabbins, deducing the dogma from the analogy of the Jewish festivals, thus traces the connexion between the text and comment: ? As Rabbi Ketina says, the world shall last 6000

years; for one thousand it shall be laid waste, of ' which it is said (Is. ii. 11), “ the Lord alone shall ““ be exalted in that day.” Tradition bears out · R. Ketina in his opinion. As of seven years each

seventh is a year of remission, so, of the seven : thousand years of the world, the seventh will be

a Millennium of remission, that in it the Lord may be exalted.'3 The same inference might be deduced from the analogy of the Jubilee, which

6

[ocr errors]

11 Vid. Schötg. Hor. Hebr. et Wetst. Nov. Test. ad Heb. iv. 9. Apoc. xx. 2. Burnet Theor. ut

supr. p. 210. 12 Gemar. Ord. IV. tr. iv. tit. Sanhedrin, f. 90.

13 Gemar. Sanhedr, ut supr. ap. Mede, p. 535. et Newton, ut supr. p. 373.

>

(7)

15

returned with each revolution of these sabbatical periods ;14 and which is conceived to have been instituted, not less with a retrospective view to the observance of the sabbath, at the creation of the world, than with a prospective view to the great sabbatism which should succeed its dissolution 1

It has been often shewn, in detail, that the doctrine which thus originated with the Jews, has passed into the Christian Church, and has been generally adopted by the early Fathers.16 But it is of higher importance to us to be assured that it has the sanction of the inspired writers, by whom it has been incorporated in the canonical scriptures. On the authority which it derived from this source 14 Levit. xxv. 9.

I may observe, that the analogy of the Levitical festivals determines the idle question which has been raised respecting the time of the Jubilee: comp. Lev. xxiii. 3. 15. 27., xxv. 3, 4. Comp. Des-Vignol. Chronol. Vol. I. p. 698.

15 Leusd. Philol. Hebræo-mixt. p. 288. 290.
16 Burnet Theor. ut supr. B. III. cap. v. p. 49, sq.

Newton Disser. Vol. II. p. 374, sq. I shall merely quote the testimony

p of two learned divines of our Church, who were not interested in the support of a hypothesis. Ep. Fell n. in Barnab. Epist.

· Et quidem de Sabbato magno, quod totius Creationis • labores finiet, sex mille annis evolutis, summâ animorum incli• natione, imò prono impetu consensum est.' D. Bernard. n. in eund. Imò fides communis Judæorum Christianorumque ve' terum, de sexies mille annis mundi á xeíso, quod constanter • fuisse traditum non andent negare vel iniquissimi temporum censores,

[ocr errors]

cap. xv.

6

6

« הקודםהמשך »