« הקודםהמשך »
every prediction of this prophetical book, which shall be shewn to be clearly accomplished, will prove it to be divine; and, this being proved, there will then remain little or no doubt but that it proceeded from the pen of the beloved Apostle, to whom the early Fathers of the Church uniformly ascribe it.
I shall conclude with examining the pretensions of the Apocalypse by the rules laid down even by Michaelis himself, whereby to determine whether a scriptural book be authentic or spurious *.
I. Were doubts entertained, from the first appearance of the Apocalypse in the world, whether it proceeded from the pen of Saint John ?
To this we are now enabled to answer, (sec chap. iii. iv. v. of this Dissertation) that no such doubts appear upon record in the true Church, during the important period of one hundred years after its publication; but that all the ecclesiastical writers of that time who speak of its author, attribute it uniformly to Saint John. If any persons held a contrary opinion, they were heretics, who appear to have assigned no plausible ground for their notions.
II. Did the friends or disciples of the supposed author deny it to be his ?
Answer. There is no such denial from Polycarp, Papias, Ignatius, &c. who appear all to have received it as divine Scripture. (See chap. iii. of this Dissertation.)
* Introduction to N. Test, chap. ii. sect. 3, p. 27, &c.
III. Did a long series of years elapse after the death of Saint John, in which the book was unknown, and in which it must unavoidably have been mentioned and quoted, had it really existed?
Answer. No such period did elapse. Michaelis himself has allowed, that this book, even if forged and spurious, existed before the year 120, that is, within twenty-three years of the time which we have shewn to be that of its publication; but even in this period we have seen it quoted and acknowledged, as appears probable, by the Apostolical Fathers. (See chap. iii. and v.)
IV. Is the style of the Apocalypse different from that of Saint John in his other writings?
Answer. It cannot be denied that there is some difference, but it is a difference which admits of a reasonable explanation, as may be seen in the former part of this chapter.
V. Are events recorded, which happened later than the time of Saint John?
Answer. No such events are recorded. Nor, we may add, are any events predicted, which occurred before the time when the book appears to have been written ; which is a case happening to pretended prophecies. (See chapter viii.)
VI. Are opinions advanced in the Apocalypse, which contradict those which Saint John is known to have maintained in his other writings ? · Answer. The theology which it contains is found to be precisely that of St. John in his other writings; and the wild opinions of the Chiliasts,
though they had probably their origin from a passage of this book, are to be attributed only to the rash interpretation of it by these visionaries. (See chap. viï.)
Thus, bringing this prophetical book to the test proposed by Michaelis,—by the most successful opponent of its claims to a divine origin, we shall be obliged to confess its indubitable right to that place in the canon of sacred Scripture, which the ancient Fathers of the Church assigned to it, and which the reformers in the Protestant Churches have with mature deliberation confirmed.
SINCE the preceding sheets were committed to the press, I have seen a work on the authenticity of the New Testament, translated by Mr. Kingdon, from the German of Dr. Less. In this publication, fifty pages are employed in an attempt to discredit the authenticity of the Apocalypse. And since the otherwise excellent Treatise, of which this attempt is a part, is likely to pass into the hands of many young students in Divinity, it may be useful to offer some observations upon it.
These may be presented in a small compass; because there are few objections of moment advanced by Dr. Less, against the Apocalypse, which have not been repeated by Michaelis, and already considered in the foregoing Dissertation*.
* The latest edition of Less's work was published in 1786; that of Michaelis, in 1788; (see the Prefaces of their Translators ;) consequently Michaelis had the opportunity of adopting or rejecting the arguments of Less.