Page images

indeed, if the book were really written late, and an opinion should, notwithstanding, be taken up, that it was written early, it may be granted that this mistake could not be followed by any injurious consequences. The case, however, is far otherwise, if the book was written early, and if, in opposition to this fact, a belief shall be entertained that it was written towards the close of John's life, who survived all the other apostles; for, being a direct revelation from the Head of the church, if written in the reign of Claudius, or early in that of his successor Nero, it must be considered as having been given for the instruction of the apostles themselves, as well as of the other members of Christ's body; and, if so, it must have been often the subject of their meditations; and, not unfrequently, its topics would furnish matter for allusion in their oral addresses, and, most probably, also in their epistles to the churches. Such, a priori, might be expected as one of the natural consequences of the book having been written very early; but if, contrary to fact, it shall be believed that it was not communicated to the churches, till after all the Epistles of the New Testament, it is obvious that this very belief will, and must, operate to cause Christians to overlook entirely any allusions that may be found (if there be any such)

in these Epistles, to the Apocalypse; and consequently, however numerous such allusions, quotations, or references to the Apocalypse in the Epistles of the New Testament may actually be, they must, under such a belief, elude all observation, and be thus deprived of that elucidation which they would receive by reference to their prototype in the Revelation. It is evident then, that, if the book was the first, or one of the first written of the New Testament, the Christian church may suffer a real detriment by holding a directly contrary opinion; and therefore some pains should be taken to ascertain, precisely, how the fact stands. If passages can be found in the epistles and in the Apocalypse which the one must have copied from the other -and such it is certain may be found, as will be shown in the next dissertation-it will then only remain to ascertain which is the copy; and this it is believed will not be difficult, if the rules of sound criticism be closely adhered to.



HAVING, in the preceding dissertation, bestowed on Ecclesiastical tradition, and the inferences thence drawn, repecting the period at which the Apocalypse was written, and also on the arguments founded on the supposed state of the churches at the period when the Revelation was given, as much notice as they seem to deserve; and shown that the whole reasoning, in favor of a late date, rests on unfounded assumptions, partly unsupported and partly contradicted by the real facts, I now proceed to enquire whether the writings of the Apostles furnish any internal evidence of their having been written later than the Apocalypse. If it can be shown that, when they wrote, they had

the Apocalypse in their hands, this evidence will completely decide, which of the ecclesiastical traditions, respecting the time at which this prophecy was written, is best entitled to credit: or rather, it will entirely discard tradition, as unworthy of regard.

It was noticed in the preceding dissertation, that this was one of the proofs suggested by Sir Isaac Newton for an early date to the Apocalypse; and that Bishop Newton was satisfied that the allusions to this prophecy, pointed out by Sir Isaac, in the Epistles of Peter, and the Epistle to the Hebrews, were conclusive. It were to be wished that the Bishop had given the public the particulars of his investigation, instead of the mere result; as a man of his learning would, no doubt, have done the subject more justice than it can receive from the individual who now presumes to pursue the inquiry. Michaelis, too, professes to have examined the allusions pointed out by Sir Isaac, but the result gave him no conviction. If, however, his inquiry was as superficial, and his decision as dogmatical, on this point, as on some others connected with the Apocalypse, his memory will suffer nothing from the suppression of the reasons which left him in doubt. What I particularly allude to is his statement, that—"The true and eternal "Godhead of Christ is certainly not taught in


"the Apocalypse so clearly as in St. John's "Gospel."-This shows that, with all his critical skill, Michaelis could not rightly read the Apocalypse. In no book of the New Testament is the doctrine more explicitly declared than in the Revelation. Nay, more: were it necessary to say, that it is more clearly taught in any one book, than another, the Revelation is that book.

In examining the question before us, I shall, for the sake of perspicuity, lay before the reader the result furnished by an inspection of each of the Epistles, in separate sections.

§ 1. Of allusions to the Apocalypse, found in the Epistle to the Hebrews.

As Sir Isaac Newton was, I believe, the first who suggested this kind of evidence; and as those who have controverted his historical testimonies, have, generally, passed over without notice all that he has advanced respecting scriptural proofs-the best of all evidence,-I shall enter on this inquiry by laying before the reader, in the first place, the observations offered by that great man, on the allusions to the Apocalypse, that are to be found in the Epistle to the Hebrews.

"The Apocalypse seems to be alluded to "(says he) in the Epistles of Peter and that to "the Hebrews; and, therefore, to have been writ

« PreviousContinue »