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of tongues, like the rest of the apostles, so that he could and did write Greek; yet it is plain, that in his gospel and epistles penned in that language, he retains the Hebrew and the Syriac idiom. This is so well known and so generally allowed, as to make all particular proof needless : if therefore the style of the Revelations had been different in this respect; if the expression had been always or even generally pure Greek; if no footsteps had remained of Hebrew idioms therein, it would have afforded just matter of suspicion, that John the apostle and evangelist was not the author thereof. But the Revelation is free from this objection ; for there are found in it as many, and perhaps more Hebraisms, than in any other book of the New Tes. tament whatever'.'
It may be seen in Lardner, that the reception of the book of Revelation was not peculiar to the catholic and orthodox Christians. Of the writings of the sectaries little comparatively is preserved ; yet evidence exists, that it was received by the Donatişts, the Novatians, and the Manichees.
That in the fourth and fifth centuries its genuineness was, however, doubted, and even denied, by some, needs exsite no surprise. For this satisfactory reasons may be assigned. It is to be partly attributed to this prophetical book being at that time in a great degree unintelligible ; and partly to the prevalence of the doctrine of the Mil. lennium, which, as then taught, was altogether wild and incredibler. That this was really to be found in the Apoca. lypse, some were ready too lightly to admit; in consequence a degree of discredit was inconsiderately attached by some to the prophecy itself; and it will, without hesitation, be admitted, that had this doctrine, as then represented, been in truth inseparable from the book of Revelation, the sober inquirer would have been authorised in conclud. ing, that the latter could not be authentic and divine.
11 Crit. Exam. of the New Test. part III. p. 10. 12 See Whitby's Treatise on the Millennium.
It is proper to add, that Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria, about the middle of the third century, though he ventured not to deny, that the Apocalypse was a genuine work of an inspired person, or that such person was named John, yet endeavoured to shew, that he was not John, the son of Zebedee and the brother of James, who wrote the three epistles and the gospel, but another, who flourished in the same age, and bore the same name. But St. John, says bishop Hallifax, has said enough to point out, withqut any uncertainty, who he was,-by describing himself as having been banished to Patmos'}, for the sake of his religion?4 ; a calamity, which, by the consent of all the ecclesiastical historians, confessedly happened to our eyangelist. As to the diversity of phrase and sentiment, in the Revelation and the other writings of St. John, it has been satisfactorily proved, that this difference is not near so great as Dionysius would represent it; no greater than what may fairly be accounted for from the difference of şubjectį and particular instances have been alleged, in which there is a remarkable coincidence both of ideas and words, which are peculiar to this apostle, and no where used by any other writer of the New Testament's.' In like manner the judicious Jortin observes, that besides ancient testimony, there is also internal reason to conclude, that the gospel and the Revelation are the work of the same author6.'
Against the Apocalypse įt has been farther objected, thaç it is not to be found in certain lists of the books of scriptures, published in the fourth and fifth centuries. But this circumstance, says bishop Hallifax, will not occasion any difficulty, when you are told, that the express design of
13 Rev. i. 9.
14 To the same purpose Leonard Twells. « This circumstance not only agrees with the history of John the Evangelist, but is also peculiar to him, and marks him out as effectually, as if he had been expressly so called. On the Rev. p. 24.
15 P. 205.
those lists was to enumerate such parts of the sacred code as were proper to be read in public, for the edification of Christian assemblies; for which the general obscurity of the Apocalypse, and the small concern it seemed to have with the state of the church in those days, rendered it unfit7.'
I have stated that, in the primitive ages, the meaning of the greater part of the Apocalypse was inaccessible to inquiry. Yet we learn from ecclesiastical history, that Melito, who in the year 177 presented an apology in behalf of the Christians to the emperor Marcus Antoninus; that Hippolytus, who flourished about the year 220; that Victorinus, who lived somewhat nearer the conclusion of the third century; that Andrew of Cesarea, who is placed by Cave at the year 500 ; that Cassiodorius, whom the same writer places at the year 514; and that Arethas, who, as he conceives, flourished about the year 540, all composed commentaries on the Revelation". This fact may seem to demand explanation. How, it may be asked, did it happen, that these writers, and doubtless others whose names have not been transmitted to us, engaged in so arduous, and, it may be added, in so hopeless a task, as, at that time, to explain the unaccomplished predictions of so dark a book as the Apocalypse, though most of them had before their eyes the miscarriages of their predecessors? I reply, that this is to be accounted for only upon the supposition, that the evidence of its authenticity was decisive and unquestionable. When, however, they failed, notwithstanding all their efforts, of coming to any probable conclusions respecting the greater part of its contents, it is surely not to be wondered, that at length it began to be studied with less frequency, and by many was treated with neglect.
Leonard Twells discusses, through the space of almost 200 pages, the arguments on the authenticity of the Apocalypse, and declares, that either it is a genuine piece, or
nothing in antiquity is so". Accordingly the Roman Catholics venture not to dispute its authority, adverse as it is to their interests.
I conclude the chapter with a short citation from Vitringa. “There is nothing grand and surpassing in the prophecies of antecedent times, which has not been gathered together by the Holy Spirit into these visions ;' and this complexion of the book is, he declares, a most sure criterion of its divine original,
GENERAL OBSERVATIONS ON THÉ APOCALYPSE.
HOWEVER undoubted may be the genuineness of the Apocalypse, however decisive may be the evidence of its having been inspired by the God of Heaven, by whatever heights of sublimity it may be characterised; many are disposed to assert, that it deserves not to be studied ; because its commentators, on many points, have a wide diversity of opinion'. But surely it does not hence follow, that their applications of it to particular events are altogether to be neglected; it does not hence follow, that valuable discoveries and encouraging hopes may not be derived from perusing some parts of it: and it will appear,
19 P. 36. So well authenticated is the Apocalypse, says Mr. Tayler (the author of Ben Mordecai's Apology) that if we give it up, we must likewise give up all the other books of the New Testament. Thoughts on the Grand Apostacy, p. 71. No book of scripture,' says Dr. Cressener, • has had a more express and unexceptionable tradition of its apostolical authority. Dem. of the Prot. Appl. of the Apoc. Introd,
20 P. 20.
1: The learned Dr. Cressener, speaking of those who have interpreted the Apocalypse, says, "they do almost as generally agree about the first grounds of the interpretation of these visions, as about other books of scripture.' Dem. of the Prot. Appl. of the Apoc. Introd.
upon a minute inquiry, that much of this diversity of interpretation is to be attributed, not to any inherent ambiguity in the Apocalypse itself, but to many of its commentators having been unprepared to illustrate the subject on which they had entered, and especially to their being su. perficially acquainted with the language of symbols, in which that prophetic work is written. With a reference to this objection, let one of the most masterly of our English writers be cited. Shew me the question in religion, or even in common morals, about which learned men have not disagreed; nay, shew me a single text of scripture, though ever so plain and precise, which the perverseness or ingenuity of interpreters has not drawn into different, and often contrary meanings. What then shall we conclude ? That there is no truth in religion, no certainty in morals, no authority in sacred scripture? If such conclusions, as these, be carried to their utmost length, in what else can they terminate, but absolute universal scepticism ? To treat the prophetic writings, without the fullest conviction of their falshood, with neglect and scorn, is,' says the bishop of Worcester, plainly indecent, and may be highly criminal and dangerous3.?
But it will perhaps be asked, what are the ends which the book of Revelation subserves ?-what are the benefits which have resulted, or are likely to result, from the study of it? In order to give a full answer to this question, a very wide field of inquiry must be traversed. Here, however, it will be sufficient to touch upon two general and two particular advantages, which haye resulted from it.
I. By foretelling events which have occurred several ages subsequent to its publication, the Apocalypse manifests not merely the existence of a deity, but the superintendency of his providence.
II. Written by a disciple of Christ, and containing many predictions relative to the fortunes of his church, predic. tions which no human foresight could have framed, it fur.
2 Hurd, vol. 11. p. 60.
3 Vol. II. p. 225.