« PreviousContinue »
the Asiatic churches. Moreover, other Oriental churches, in like manner, received it as divinely inspired, and written by John the Apostle himself; especially in Palestine, Samaria, and Syria. For in Syria, Theophilus of Antioch is reported by Eusebius (Eccl. Hist. iv. 24) to have taken his proofs from the Apocalypse, in his book against Hermogenes. In Samaria, Justin Martyr, in his Dialogue with Tryphon (which he wrote about the middle of the century succeeding the writing of the Apocalypse), cites it under the name of John, one of the Apostles of Christ, p. 240, In Palestine, Origen frequently ascribes this book to John (Exegeticis in Matt. et Joan. passim, libris vi. viii. contra Celsum; Philocal. ii. 5; Lib. de Orat. p. 34); as does also his follower, Pamphilus (Apol. pro. Orig.) So in Lycia, Methodius, bishop of Patara, acknowledged the divine authority of this book (Lib. de Convivio decemVirginum). Egypt also, and Africa, acknowledged this same as a canonical book, received by tradition from the other churches. In Egypt, Clement of Alexandria attributes it more than once to John the Apostle (Pædag. ii. 12; Strom. vi, 867). In Africa, not only does Cyprian often allege it in his books to Quirinus (i. 20; ii. 1,3; iii.), and in his Sixty-third Epistle call it a divine Scripture; but also, before him, Tertullian bad frequently praised it, as the prophetical book of the New Testament, and written by John himself, the Apostle and Evangelist (Prescr. adv. Hæret. xxxiii. 46; Lib. de Anima ix.; de Resur. Carnis lviii.; de Pudic. xix.) But, according as the Apocalypse was received in the Asiatic and African churches, so there were not wanting those who acknowledged it in Europe ; as Hippolytus, bishop of Portus Romanus, and Victorinus, of Petavia ; of whom the first established the authority of this book in'an express treatise ; while the last illustrated the entire book by a commentary. To whom, finally, we will add, though not in its proper place, Apollonius, a writer of the second century, who, in his treatise against Phrygas, made use of the authority of this book, as Eusebius records (Hist. Eccl. v. 18).
“ But although the Apocalypse, even from its first publication, was approved in the catholic church by the disciples of the Apostles and their immediate successors with marvellous unanimity, and held to be divine, as we have shewn above; yet in a short time there arose on the adverse side heretics, who impugned it-namely, Cedron, Marcion, and subsequently the Alogi. Yea, moreover, shortly after, in the beginning of the third century, there were some among the catholics themselves who rejected it from the canon of the New Testament: as Caius, à presbyter of the Church of Rome, in disputation with Proclus (Euseb. Hist. iii. 28), and some others; ascribing it to Cerinthus the heretic; as is remarked by Dionysius of Alexmira limseit mit ite tendra äe mici I is becsl. Eat e azure, *19 Dionysus magic she case under $18wursa sť anceira, and wine aciers even Joenix reBarnes e inetine si se Dienniai 24 i Christ sa is sara: wich icerde is Caris zod Dicassus stre aussit, mpigies, and were anašie to guerrin e rriments runs Bsm the isso nose, taer encarurzi oveasan, op on starteto bibeert te anacrtvgi she cock belt. Vorisit sirr sang that, they found some Lewers ct iar acinions, snee the Romaa 20 dezanc aa cáarcza, wică se foorsied, hant crizinesi primaey amcag zi ockers: the icemer in the Vi sat.tie bis in the boat. But it is very surprising, that in thras, Tory churches of Asia and Pzescie wiere tæe Apoairca *** incottedy received in the first ages, they should aturate in the fourth century questioa the cacocical authority of the same. Insomaco that Eusebius, the historian of that ace, nomerath it among the disputable writings Eeel. Hist. nu. 24, Cynl of Jerusalem, also, in revising the canon, passes 67 the sprealypse. Moreover, the whole council of Asiatie tantiça nesexabied in the city of Laodicea itself (to which the Hevesiih eastle of the Apocalypse was written), also excluded it freas the can. Vor does Gregory Nazianzen (Car. 33) enumerate it among the books of the New Testament. Lastly, Amphilochne (ia lambis ad Seleucum) says, that the Apocalypse men
, is received by some, rejected by many. " And this dispute continued in many of the Eastern churches even in the time of Jerome, as appears from his Epistle to Dardanus, 129. Notwithstanding, in this same fourth century, Epiphanius rightly remarks, concerning the Apocalypse, that it was believed in by most persons, even by those who are devout. Such were, after Dionysius, the author, whoever he be, Hierarchiæ coelestis, cap. 3: in Palestine, Eusebius (Chron. ad 14 Domitiani): in Syria, Ephræm.: in Cappadocia, Gregory Nyssenus, and Nazianzenus (Orat. 32: although, in Car. 33, he does not enumerate it among the genuine books of the New Testament): in Cyprus, Epiphanius: in Egypt, Athanasius (Fifth Oration against the Arians, and Synopsis of Scripture), and Didymus Macarius : in Africa, Victorinus : in Italy, Ambrose, Philaster, Rufinus, and Jerome (lib. i. cont. Jovin. 14; and more fully in his Epistle to Dardanus, 129, where he thus writes of the Apocalypse, and of the Epistle to the Hebrews : · We receive them both as canonical and ecclesiastical, following not at all the custom of the present time, but the authority of the early writers, who for the most part are wronged in their testimonies concerning both books'): but also in France, Hilary of Poictiers used the authority of the Apocalypso; in Spain, Pacianus and Prudentius. Moreover, in
the fifth century, Salvianus, and Alcimus Avitus, among the French, cited this book: and in Italy, Innocent (in Epist. Decretali ad Exuperium) declares it to be manifestly canonical: as did also, after him, the Council of Carthage, in Africa ; where Augustine (Tract 36, in Joan.) expressly ascribes the Apocalypse to John the Apostle. Nor do we read that any of the Latin Fathers of this or the following century rejected the authority of this book : so that upon the Greeks alone must fall that censure of Sulpitius concerning the Apocalypse, 'that by many it is either foolishly or impiously rejected.' For, although Cyris held it to be canonical 'at Alexandria ; Cassianus and Nilus, at Constantinople ; Andræas Cæsariensis, in Cappadocia; yet doubtless many others did not receive it. Certainly, we do not read this book enrolled in the canon by any Oriental synod. Nor does the lxxxv th 'canon, which, as we have before stated, contained the other Apostolic writings, make any tion of the Apocalypse, in enumerating the books of the New Testament. Moreover, about the middle of the sixth century, Junilius, an African bishop, says, ' There are still doubts among the Eastern Christians concerning the Apocalypse of John.' Of the following century I have nothing more to say, than that Maximus, on the passage above cited from Dionysius, remarks it as somewhat singular that he (Dionysius) should have marked with his approbation the Apocalypse of John.' In the eighth century, at length, John Damascene recognised it among the canonical writings of the New Testament, whose authority many afterwards followed. But yet we read of nothing done concerning this matter in any Oriental council: so that the Apocalypse of St. John obtained canonical authority among the Eastern Christians, rather by the tacit consent of the churches, than by any synodical decree.”
Thus far Mill; but he might have added to his list the names of those orthodox fathers who held the doctrine of a Millennium. Many of these, though deriving the doctrine from the Apocalypse, and holding it to be divinely inspired, and consequently written by John, because so often asserted in the book, have not formally recorded their belief concerning the author. Such were Lactantius, Nepos, the brethren of Lyons and Vienna, St. Barnabas, or whoever wrote the Epistle called his, and many more, whose writings have not come down to us, to whom allusion is made in the fourth Council of Toledo, held A.D. 633. This declares, in its sixteenth canon, that “the authority of many councils, and the synodical decrees of the holy Roinan Fathers, decide that the book of the Apocalypse is by John the Evangelist;" and prescribes that it shall be explained every year from Easter to Whitsuntide. It is also worthy of remark, that the Complutensian Polyglott, and Montanus's Plantine edition, give the title in full
, " The Apocalypse of the holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Divine.”' ATOKAAVỤC tou αγιου Αποστολου και ευαγγελισον Ιοαννο το θεολογο. .
Many may think that we have dwelt longer than was required on the authenticity of the book, and be inclined to say with Coeceius, " that it does not seem necessary to repeat what has been said by learned men on the subject : for if we scrutinize the prophecies of this book, and compare them with the other Scriptures, and with those things which have already taken place, we shall find that this book could not have been written without the dictation of the Holy Spirit.” But as the opponents of Divine truth raise objections of all kinds, we think it right to shew that we are prepared to meet them at all points : moreover, any doubt of the inspiration of this book robs a man of that peculiar and indispensable instruction which is here only to be found.
From this book it is that we derive the full and certain knowledge of the reign of Christ upon earth, and learn to understand the long and varied series of events by which this glorious. kingdom is prepared and announced. This consummation of the purpose of God, which since the Fall has constantly been “the earnest expectation of the whole creation ” (Rom. viii. 19), though every where implied throughout the Scriptures, and mentioned in general terms times without number, is no where laid down explicitly, with all the signs of its approach, place for its display, characters who shall enjoy it, and time of its duration, except in the Apocalypse. It is the revelation of Jesus Christ; and till we have learned from this book the manner of our Lord's manifestation, and how the changes in the world are connected therewith, we neither know our duty as subjects of Christ, nor the true relation in which we stand towards the world. The Apocalypse, while it reveals Christ, lays out, for the guidance of his people, the whole history of the church, from the Apostles' time till the Millennium : which glorious consummation the early Christians so eagerly“ looked for, and hastened unto” (2 Pet. iii. 12), that the Apostles were obliged to caution them against being "soon shaken in mind, as that the day of Christ is at hand” (2 Thess. ii. 2). To attain the first resurrection, and a portion in the Millennial kingdom, was the great object of hope to all the first Christians, and to a vast majority of the orthodox for the first three centuries. And it is a certain historical fact, that down to the time of Eusebius (who himself was, as Bumet says,
a back friend” to the doctrine, rather than an open enemy), none but heretics ever denied the Millennium, or spiritualized its meaning, except Caius and Dionysius. But when, for reasons which we shall shortly state, Eusebius and Jerome wished to give a spiritual interpretation to the Millennium, they found the strongest defence against their perversion of Scripture in the uniform, unbroken, undeniable tradition of the church; a defence which they endeavoured to undermine, by calling in question the judgment of those through whom the Apostolic tradition was first transmitted. This was a sorry artifice; for those holy men did not give forth the doctrine as their own, or as deduced from their interpretation of Scripture-in which cases only their judgment would be of any consequence in deciding—but they declare the doctrine to have been by them received immediately from the Apostles; and their veracity (which no one has dared to impugn), not their judgment, is the quality which decides the question. It is as witnesses to facts that these early fathers are produced, and veracity alone is sufficient to constitute a good witness. But we shall shew that even their judgment was not so slight as our opponents represent, and this by the most unexceptionable testimony, the testimony of those who first called it in question.
The earliest of those, fragments of whose writings on the Millennium have come down to us, is Papias; of whom Jerome thus writes, in his Catalogue of illustrious Men (xviii.): “Papias, the hearer of John, bishop of Hierapolis in Asia, wrote only five volumes, which he entitled An Explanation of the Discourses of our Lord :' in which, after asserting in the preface that he followed not various opinions, but those which came from the Apostles, he says, 'I considered what Andrew, what Peter had said, what Philip, what Thomas, what James, what John, what Matthew, or any other of the disciples of our Lord ; what, moreover, Aristion and John the Elder had spoken; for reading books does not profit me so much, as conversing with the living authors. And to the same effect Eusebius records the words of Papias, Eccl. Hist. iii. : “ Nor will you be sorry, that, together with our interpretations, I commit to writing those things which I have formerly learnt from the elders and committed to memory.
For I never (as many do) have followed those who abound in words, but rather those who taught the truth : nor those who taught certain new and unaccustomed precepts, but those who remembered the commands of our Lord,'handed down in parables, and proceeding from Truth itself. But if at any time I met with one who had been conversant with the elders, from him I diligently inquired what were the sayings of the elders.... For I thought that I could not derive so great profit from the reading of books, as from the conversation with men yet surviving.”—Among the traditions thus collected from the elders by Papias, stands that concerning the marvellous fertility of the earth during the Millennium, which has been made the subject of so much profane criticism :
VOL. 1.-NO. UI,