Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

that go forth on the opening of the seals, the vision may pass on to the events that belong to the end, and may be occupied with them even to the exclusion of very important intervening occurrences and changes. And Dr. Maitland is bold enough to set down the historical school' in a mass as followers of a delusive imagination. Certainly their variations, which may be seen in Mr. Elliott's appendix, are more than a match for those of Protestantism.

It would, perhaps, be unfair to Archdeacon Harrison to omit a passage in which he gives a lively picture of what he thinks may be a historical fulfilment bearing on mediæval and modern times.

• But another form of craft and power was revealed in the vision, cooperating with the former, and ministering to it. “I beheld,” says S. John, “another wild beast coming up out of the earth,”—or more properly “the land,” as distinguished from the sea,"—"and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him,"—that is, before his eyes, and in his presence, as his servant and minister, -"and causeth the earth and them that dwell therein to worship the first beast whose deadly wound was healed." This second power was to arise out of the “ land;” which, in contradistinction from the ár sea," we have already had occasion to observe, seems to denote the original heritage of the people and Church of God, as distinguished from the Gentile nations—the East as distinguished from the West. And this point in the description may be designed, perhaps, to mark the growth of error in Eastern Christendom, which became subsidiary aud ministrative to that complex form of secular and spiritual dominion combined, which arose out of the violence and commotions of Western Europe. The power here represented as the beast out of the land, is elsewhere designated as "the false prophet;" his character as an Antichrist being marked by the “two horns like a lamb,” while yet "he spake as a dragon.” And he is described as working the signs of a false prophet. " He doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by the sword and did live."

We can hardly fail to identify the power here described, or that to which it ministered, with S. Paul's delineation, in his Second Epistle to the 'Thessalonians, of him “whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish ; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved; for which cause God” would “send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” The manifestation of that wicked one foretold by the Apostle was to be hindered for a time by a certain withholding power; obscurely referred to, but known, as it would seem, by those to whom he wrote, and which was generally supposed in early times, as I have before had occasion to observe, to be the then existing Empire of Rome. It was, moreover, the general belief in the primitive ages, " that before the appearance of Antichrist the Roman Empire was to be dissolved, and broken up into ten different parts; yet by his contrivance was to be reunited, and restored to its pristine integrity under him.” And looking to the actual history, when we find that, after such division of the Roman Empire by Barbarian nations, that empire, or its image at least, was in a strange manner restored, or revived, by the immediate agency of a power bearing on it such marks as those which distinguish the papal see, there is, I think, no interpretation so probable of a difficult point in the vision before us, as that which would recognise at least its precursive and partial fulfilment, in an event so important in its influence on the fortunes of modern Europe, and occupying accordingly so prominent a place in the view of secular history. "The conferring of the imperial crown on Charlemagne,” the Romanist writer before quoted will tell us," was that which deserved to be ranked as the characteristic event, not only of the royal visit” of the king of the Franks to Rome, in the year 800, but “ of the age itself.” “Up to that instant nothing but chaos," he says, “had prevailed among the tribes that had overturned pagan Rome and its empire." “ Europe, or rather its embryo, was struggling, nevertheless, and travailing, though with abortive efforts, to emerge from this state.

. . The fragments of those mighty structures, -aqueducts, towns, bridges, highways, the ruins of marble cities, villas, and temples,-amongst which they pastured their flocks and herds, disposed their ambuscades in war, or pursued the pleasures of the chase, all these memorials were haunted, even for them, with certain vague imaginings, perhaps of admiration and wonder, concerning the order of things to which they had belonged. The same might be said of the relics of Roman society, and of its shattered institutions. The very name of the empire, the recollections of this grand and glorious society, agitated the memories of men.... Even the conquerors themselves were attached to similar reminiscences by their most darling passions. The image of its greatness,” the same writer continues, “was often brought before their excited imaginations, while they listened to the bards, who were wont to celebrate, amidst the carousal, the achievements and the prowess of their sires, who had figured in its wars, in its triumphs, but, above all, in its destruction. The consequence was inevitable. By thus frequently contemplating the image of this august order of things,"— I am still continuing the quotation,—" their understandings, rude as they were, could not fail to be struck with the glaring defects and inferiority of their own condition. They became sensible that, belonging to the empire among the ruins of which they fuund themselves, there was a something which they had need to imitate, to reproduce. Hence the effect of that stroke of policy which rerived the Empire of the West. On the barbarian world its effect was magical. Those dull instincts and imaginings, so abortive hitherto, and so wide of any definite aim, became, on the instant, so many powerful and concordant rudiments of stability. The idea, the project, that had been harassing the breasts of all, like a nightmare vision, but which no one had power to realize, was recognised and hailed by all with acclamations, the moment it was presented to them, in the person of their mighty hero, crowned of God, the great and pacific emperor of the Romans."

*" From that hour," says the same writer, “the barbarian tribes acquired a new relation-one that attached them all, simultaneously to a grand idea of general and permanent association. This,” he observes, the beginning of modern Europe ;” and “such were the advantages which the Providence, that had already turned to so much account whatever belonged to the pagan empire of Rome, knew how to derive from its very name, and the shadow of its former greatness." Doubtless, indeed, every tongue of man must own that the whole course of events in the world's history, in its relation to the Church of God, has been overruled and ordered, in a marvellous manner, throughout, by his Allwise and Almighty Providence, and most signally in the present instance; but the visions of

was

prophecy, which so wonderfully teach this lesson, have at the same time assigned to the different agencies which have been the unconscious instruments of that Divine Providence, a place in the great drama, and stamped upon them a character, far different, oftentimes, from that which human discernment might have given them; and have exhibited, behind the veil of earthly things, principles and agents of the world unseen. And, be it recollected, it was the question of the worship of images in the Christian Church, as is observed by the historian of Rome's Decline and Fall, that "produced the revolt of Italy, the temporal power of the Popes, and the restoration of the Roman Empire in the West."

• The relations between the spiritual and temporal powers, bound together as they were so strangely, and interwoven so closely, in the system of papal Europe, may perhaps be traced in the further description of the agency revealed in the vision. “And he had power to give life"-or more literally " breath—to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he caused all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads : and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” The persecuting character of the Church of Rome is, unhappily, too notorious to need pointing out: and, though she wielded not the sword with her own hand, nor gave directly from herself the command for the execution of her sentence; yet would she give her victinis over to the secular power, and make kings and princes inflict the punishment which she pronounced on the guilty. And among the instances of the infliction, by temporal sovereigns, of penalties of the very kind specified in the prophecy, reference has been made by expositors to that which is recorded of the Norman Conqueror, “ that he would not permit any one under his power to buy or sell any thing, whom he found disobedient to the apostolic see.” But in regard to this whole portion of the prophecy, and especially the image of the wild beast, its compulsory worship, its mark, and name, and number, there is a difficulty and a mystery, the existence of which is sufficiently proved by the diversity of interpretations proposed by expositors; and which would lead us to the conclusion that it is reserved for the still unrevealed future, in the destinies, perhaps, of modern Europe, perhaps of the East, as well as the West, to remove the obscurity which envelopes the vision.

* And with regard particularly to the mystic number,—declared to be a mystery by the inspired Authority which hath propounded it for the thoughtful consideration of " him that hath understanding,”-amidst the variety of conjectures which have been offered, (some regarding it as a chronological date, others, and those the greater number, as composing a word, or title,) I know nothing better than to repeat the cautions of Irenæus, the disciple of Polycarp, the disciple of S. John, reproving those who hastily endeavoured to interpret it, and saying that it is safer to await the event of the prophecy, than to attempt to conjecture and divine the import of the name. I may add, however, that if a preference is to be given to any one interpretation, rather than angther, especially of those which have sanction from antiquity, the strongest claim, perhaps, may be asserted in behalf of one of those which Irenæus has enumerated, and which (though himself, it would seem, inclining rather to a different one) he thinks to be very probable, as being the name of the last of the four empires, the Latin. But all seems uncertain conjecture.' --- Harrison, pp. 350—357.

This conclusion is characteristic, and he is not the less to be respected because such is his conclusion on many points. Uncertain as he confesses his results to be, he will repay a thoughtful reader. His exposition of the four living creatures, as connected in some mysterious way with the great monarchies, is worthy of attention, though it may be too much to say that it is established. Several writers have noticed that they seem to acknowledge the benefit of redemption as their own. His familiarity with the Hebrew prophets leads him to a more frequent reference to the earlier prophecies than is customary with expounders of the Apocalypse, and he is at least suggestive and thoughtful on the subject of the general interpretation of prophetic imagery. But it seems that we must still leave much to the great teacher, time, and do our best so to apprehend the general bearing of the predictions that have been given us, as neither to be too confident of what will, nor unprepared for what may, come upon us.

The student who would commence inquiry, if not discouraged by all this uncertainty, may be recommended to begin with a careful perusal of the Book of Daniel, not neglecting the Septuagint. After this he should read the Apocalypse also carefully in Greek, and make an analysis, with parallelisms exhibiting the apparently connected prophecies and coincident events. And throughout he should take pains to note the habitual application of particular symbols and expressions, especially in cases where their meaning can be decisively determined, either in these or other portions of Holy Writ. By doing this, if he will but abstain from hasty conclusions, as he would find himself forced to do if he were pursuing a chemical analysis, or a geological theory, he will at least place himself in a position to know what may be known on this mysterious subject. It would be out of place here to homilize on the reverence and devotion befitting such an inquiry: but it may suffice to say, that the model for an expositor of prophecy is the prophet Daniel. Faithful in Babylon, abstinent in a luxurious court, patient in a long life of exile, fearless in bearing testimony, humbled for his people's sins, constant in devotion, a 'man greatly beloved' was he who understood by books' the time of his people's return from captivity, and to whom was revealed the time of a still greater deliverance.

1 The ordinary Greek may be of use as illustrating the New Testament, but the true Septuagint version of the Book of Daniel has only lately been brought to light; and though printed at Rome in the latter part of the last century, is not found in the common editions of the Septuagint. See Maitland, p. 26, note.

60

ART. III.-Ettore Fieramosca, o Lu Disfida di Barletta, racconto

di MASSIMO D'AZEGLIO. Parigi : Baudry, Libreria Europea, 1848.

In our July number, 1848, we called the attention of our readers to the Italian novels, and to those of D'Azeglio in particular, and we are tempted to resume the subject. Our reason is this ; we consider the best of them to embody, more than any with which we are acquainted, our conception of what a perfect novel should be. We have always agreed with those, who rank the novel of character as the highest achievement in the department of fiction. In the luxury of the deepest seclusion, without any acute perception of the springs of human action, and, above all, without any minute observation of the manifold changes which they exhibit in the outward frame-work of society, an imaginative mind may dream a series of adventures, which shall chain us for a time in rapt attention, or hurry us on in breathless suspense till the catastrophe has broken the charm. But to such works we rarely return; we do not seek in them the lessons of wisdom and experience. They neither teach us to observe, , nor, for any beneficial purpose, to feel. In fact they are mere creations of the fancy. They have no hold upon the heart.

It was doubtless the sense of this defect which gave rise to what may be called the novel of analysis, whose principal aim is a keen and minute dissection of the feelings and motives of the heart. These are, from time to time, laid open with consummate skill in a series of metaphysical disquisitions, but they have little to do with the world as it is. Such novels have little action and no manners. The characters, if characters they may be called, have no individuality. They are described, not shown. If their actions tell, their conversations never do. Commonly, indeed, such works, like the poems of Byron, are but the reflex of the writer's individual mind-a mind often anomalous in its texture, and distorted still more by erroneous opinions and diseased feeling. We would instance, as a case in point, such novels as those of Godwin and Mrs. Shelley. We do not here refer to the false principles and mischievous tendency of those works, but to their artistic merit. As compositions they seem to us a failure. Of course we do not deny the imaginative power shown in such novels as Frankenstein and the Last Man, Fleetwood and St. Leon, but they do not show us man as he is. We do

« AnteriorContinuar »