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of his learning and talents, and his character as one of the principal bishops in Christendom, drew attention at length to his opinion, and gave it an influence which in the next century impaired the credit of the Apocalypse to a very sensible degree. Eusebius (about A. D. 330,) hesitated whether to ascribe it to John the apostle, or to John the presbyter. Cyril of Jerusalem (about A. D. 350,) seems not to have received it; and the Council of Laodicea (about A. D. 363,) did not insert it in the catalogue of canonical books of Scripture. We need not trace its fortune further, but merely observe in general, that while it was rejected by some and doubted by others, especially among the Greeks, it was still received by far the larger part of the church. And from the tenor of the foregoing narrative, it will be seen at once that the hesitation which in a few instances arose with regard to its authenticity, originated in polemical motives, and ought not therefore to impair in the least the historical evidence afforded by its general reception among the Christians, previously to the year 200.
A more plausible objection, however, to its genuineness, may be urged from the apparent incongruity of its character with that of St. John's other writings. His Gospel and Epistles are distinguished throughout by a childlike simplicity, whereas the Apocalypse is full of the most dazzling figures and gorgeous, not to say monstrous, imagery; and can we suppose that the same genius was the author of productions so strikingly dissimilar? The solution of this query depends not so much on a logical course of deduction, as on a correct judgment of human character and of the various developments it naturally undergoes in different circumstances. We need not remind careful observers that qualities seemingly the most opposite are frequently found in one person; and we would appeal to them whether that affectionate, pathetic, artless yet contemplative spirit which in extreme old age pervaded St. John's Gospel and Epistles, does not belong to the very temperament which, under some transporting excitement, especially in earlier life, might rise to the romantic, visionary strain of the Apocalypse. As to the peculiar turn of expression and the form of sentences, they are manifestly the same in the latter as in the former, and numerous coincidences in the use of set phrases, have been pointed out, all indicating a common origin.
II. Admitting then that St. John was probably the author of the Apocalypse, when was it written? Were we to judge solely from the allusions of the book itself, we should answer at once, before the destruction of Jerusalem; but if from the balance of mere historical testimony, such as it is, we should place its date after that event, and about the year 96. This testimony, however, is not of the most unquestionable character. Eusebius, in the fourth century, is the first to mention the time of St. John's banishment to Patmos, where he saw the Revelation; and he refers it, on what authority we know not, to the reign of Domitian, and adds, that he was liberated on the accession of the emperor Nerva, which took place A. D. 96. There is indeed an ambiguous passage in an earlier and more competent witness, Irenæus, which has been generally understood to authenticate this statement, and to assert that the Revelation was seen at the end of Domitian's reign;' but Wetstein and Rosenmüller contend that the language relates to the time when St. John himself lived, and not to the period of his vision. These are all the historical notices concerning the date of the book which are of any importance; for the statements of Jerome are probably founded on those of Eusebius; and as to the contrary representations sometimes quoted from Epiphanius, who refers it back to about the year 50, nobody acquainted with the romancing habit of this writer, ought to attach the least weight to them.
Let us now turn to the chronological marks which may be traced in the Apocalypse itself. Here we cannot do better than to avail ourselves of the labors of an author who has faith
fully illustrated this part of the subject: It appears to me,' says he, that this book contains several express and direct references to the city of Jerusalem and the temple; the propriety of which I am unable to discover, on the supposition that this city was not then in existence. In chap. xi. 1, 2, we find the following language: "And there was given me a reed like unto a rod; and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple, leave out, and measure it not, for it is given unto the Gentiles; and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months." The above passage contains evident allusions both to the city and temple; and also, a prediction of the approaching desolation of the city. The court which was "without the temple,"
was, unquestionably, what was called the court of the Gentiles, and was peculiar to the temple at Jerusalem; consequently, the allusion to the temple is direct and obvious. No argument can be necessary to show that by the phrase "holy city," Jerusalem was intended; but, if any doubts can remain, they must be removed by the words of our Saviour, Luke xxi. 24 : "And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." What other inference, then, can we draw from the language of the Revelator, but that at the time he wrote, Jerusalem and its temple were in existence, and that the city was not yet "trodden down of the Gentiles"? At verse 8 of this chapter, it is said, "And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified." Here, it may be observed, are two circumstances mentioned, which were literally applicable to Jerusalem, but to no other city. 1. It was declared that their dead bodies should lie in the streets of this city. That this prediction was literally fulfilled, in relation to Jerusalem and its wretched inhabitants, has been already shown. 2. It is expressly declared that the city, whose inhabitants should thus suffer, was where also our Lord was crucified." In chap. xiv. 15, there is another evident allusion to the temple at Jerusalem, in contradistinction from the "temple which is in heaven," mentioned ver. 17. The whole of chap. xviii. apparently refers to Jerusalem with far more propriety than to any other city or kingdom. My limits will permit me to notice but a very small part: Verses 4, 5, " And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities." This admonition corresponds with the warnings of our Saviour to his disciples, and his instructions to enable them to escape from impending danger. Ver. 8. "Therefore shall her plagues come in one day; death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her." The remarks of Dr. A. Clarke on this verse are so appropriate, that I need make no apology for inserting them in this place :-" Therefore shall her plagues come.] Death, by the sword of her adversaries; mourning, on account of the slaughter; and famine, the fruits of the field being destroyed by the
hostile bands. Utterly burned with fire. Of what city is this spoken? Rome pagan has never been thus treated; Alaric and Totila burnt only some parts with fire. Rome papal has not been thus treated; but this is true of Jerusalem, and yet Jerusalem is not generally thought to be intended."-Again, ver. 24: "And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.” To what city will this language so properly apply as to Jerusalem? It forcibly brings to mind the words of Christ, addressed to its devoted inhabitants: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee," &c. Alluding also to the murder of prophets in this city, he says, "for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem." Well might the Saviour declare unto them, that upon them should "come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth." I might multiply quotations, evidently alluding to this city and the temple, but the above are deemed sufficient. And I would now ask, in view of this language, have we not sufficient internal evidence, in the book itself, to satisfy us that it was written while Jerusalem and her temple were yet standing?' In addition to the foregoing, it is said that the original, though exhibiting the same general peculiarities of diction with St. John's Gospels and Epistles, betrays a less familiar use of the Greek language, and abounds much more in anomalies and Hebraisms: a circumstance that seems to indicate an earlier period of the author's life, when he had but just begun to write in a foreign tongue. And we need not say that the luxuriance of imagination displayed in the Apocalypse, comports much better with his age at the earlier date, than at the year 96, when he was almost a hundred years old.
Such are our principal reasons for believing that the book was written before the destruction of Jerusalem. That this opinion may not be thought singular, we observe that although it has not the majority, perhaps, of critics in its favor, it is maintained by Hentenius, Harduin, Grotius, Lightfoot, Hammond, Sir I. Newton, Bishop Newton, and Wetstein; and that Rosenmüller and Dr. A. Clarke seem inclined to it.
III. With regard to the meaning of the book, or the subject of the prophecy, the author himself has taken the utmost
Essays on the Coming of Christ. By Warren Skinner. pp. 145-148,
care to fix certain definite limits, which however have been totally disregarded by most interpreters. He has confined its fulfilment to his own age, and represented that his cotemporaries were the people concerned. What could be more explicit to this point, than the formal introduction with which he begins? The Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave unto him to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John, who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words. of this prophecy, and keep those things that are written therein ; for the time is at hand." Here, with manifest solicitude, he warns his readers, at the outset, that the events to be predicted were not of remote but of immediate occurrence. And lest it should be supposed that this advertisement might perhaps refer only to the things contained in the letters which follow to the seven churches of Asia, he takes occasion, at the end of the whole book, to repeat the same important admonition, and to assert expressly that it relates to the sayings of the prophecy' at large: And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true. And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done. Behold, I come quickly; blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book..... And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man as his work shall be He which testifieth these things, saith, Surely I come quickly; Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”4 Such is the earnest protestation with which this book begins and closes; and ought it not to be observed in our application of the
3 Rev. i. 1-3. Rev. xxii. 6-21. Eichhorn, (Comment. in Apocal. i. 1,) aware of the obstacle which these narrow limits of time would present to his more extended interpretation, suggests that in all the instances here quoted, St. John declared the things near at hand, in order to signify not that they were soon to take place, but that they were sure! an interpretation which, besides doing violence to the language, would make nonsense of the passage: Seal not the sayings of this book, for they will surely come to pass!' 'Surely, I come surely, Amen!'