« AnteriorContinuar »
And as the authenticity of Daniel has been questioned, so likewise has that of the Apocalypse by the abettors of certain systems, as has been shown in a former chapter. Page 43.
It may be sufficient, however, in this instance to adduce the testimony of one of the Fathers,—viz. Irenæus, who declares that the revelation given to John was seen by him “not long ago, almost in the very age itself of Irenæus, about the end of Domitian's reign.”* Lib. v. cap. xxx.
The doubt which was cast upon the work for a time tended, indeed, in the end to establish its canonical authority with a more full and complete testimony than it would in all probability have otherwise enjoyed; witness the “Observations” made on the work by the great Sir Isaac Newton. His well known caution, learning, judgment, and powerful abilities render whatsoever he advances, as the result of his historical research, of the very first authority; and he declares, “that he does not find any other book of the New Testament so strongly attested or commented upon so early as this."
In regard to the general contents of these two books, the opinion of the learned Joseph Mede appears to be correct so far as it goes, viz.-that Daniel is apocalypsis contracta, and the apocalypse Daniel explicata; in that what is shown to Daniel in the sketch or summary form, he considers is presented to John in the details. But it appears to me that we may go ther than this, and say that the very details themselves lie for the most part scattered in the other prophets; and I consider therefore that it is a very important clew to the right interpretation of St. John, to view the Revelation given to him as adjusting those scattered and discursive prophecies, and assigning to them their true position in the great prophetical history or picture. Let the reader compare, for example
REVELATION iv. &c.
Ezekiel sees "four living creatures” John sees "four beasts full of eyes, be—"and their wings were full of eyes fore and behind,” ver. 6. round about them four." ver. 5, 18.
"As for the likenesses of their faces, "And the first beast was like a lion, they four had the face of a man and and the second like a calf, the third the face of a lion on the right side, and had a face as a man, and the fourth they four had the face of an oc on the was like a flying eagle.” ver. 7. left side, they four also had the face of an eagle.” ver. 10.
* Dr. Lardner assigns the date the ns the Apocalypse to somewhere between A.D. 95 and 97. Vol. vi. p. 638. Some interesting matter connected with this point will be found in a Review of Dr. Tilloch's Dissertation on the Apocalypse, contained in The Investigator, vol. i.
"Their appearance was like burning The beasts were "in the midst of the coals of fire, and like the appearance throne, and round about the throne;" of lamps;" and out of the fire went (ver. 6.) "and out of the throne proforth lightning;"(ver. 14)—"and when ceeded lightnings and thunderings, and they went I heard the noise of their voices;" "and there were seven lamps wings, like the noise of great waters, of fire burning before the throne.” ver. as the voice of the Almighty, the voice 5. of speech,” &c. ver. 24.
“Their wings were stretched up- “And the four beasts had each of ward, two wings of every one were them si.c wings about them.” ver. 8. joined one to another, and iwo covered their bodies.” ver. 11.' "Every one had two which covered on this side, and every one had two which covered on that side, their bodies."* ver. 23.
"And above the firmament that was “And, behold, a throne was set in over their heads was the likeness of a heaven, and one sat on the throne." throne, as the appearance of a sapphire ver. 2. stone; and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.” ver. 26.
"And I saw as the colour of amber, “And he that sat was to look upon as the appearance of fire, &c. from his like a jasper and a sardine stone." ver. loins upward and downward.” ver. 27. 3. In chap. x. 1., of the same person
age it is said, "his face was as it were the sun, and his feet (or legs) as pillars
of fire. "And it had brightness round about: "And there was a RAINBOW round as the appearance of the bow that was about the throne, in sight like unto an in the cloud in the day of rain, so was emerald.” (ver. 3.). "And I saw anthe appearance of the brightness round other mighty angel come down from about." ver. 28.
heaven, clothed with a cloud, and a
rainbow was upon his head." ch.x. i. "The likeness of the firmament" What is in Ezekiel called a firma(above which was the throne, ver. 26) ment which is above the throne, is in the "was as the terrible crystal, &c. ver. Revelation, described as “a sea of glass 22.
like unto crystal,” which is "before the
throne." ver. 5. "And when I looked, behold, a hand "And the voice, &c. said,, Go and was sent unto me; and lo, a roll of a take the little book which is open in the book was therein." ch. ii. 9.
hand of the angel, &c." ch. x. 8. "And it was written within and The account of this book, in the without; and there was written therein Rev. ch. x. is placed immediately belamentations, and mourning, and woe.” tween the recital of the first and third ch. ii. 10.
See chaps. ix. and xi. “Then did I eat it, and it was in my "And I-ate it up; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.” ch. iii. 3. mouth sweet as honey.” ch. x. 10.
But afterward "I went in bitterness, "And as soon as I had eaten it my in the heat of my spirit.” ch. iii. 10. belly was bitter.” (Ibid.)
* In verse 6, Ezekiel speaks as if they had four wings only; but he there speaks probably of those which covered their bodies, and were joined to each other; for they had also two stretched up, with which they flew.
A remarkable correspondency has already been pointed out between the city of Ezekiel, chap. xlviii. and that of Rev. chap. xxi. (see page 209.) Joel iii. Isaiah xiv.; Jer. I. and li. may likewise be profitably compared with other portions of the Apocalypse, which establish this connection between the other prophecies and those of St. John in a manner that forces the conviction upon us, that there is a designed relationship between them. And if this be admitted, then various impor. tant results will flow from it. For example, Sir Isaac Newton has said of the Revelation; "He that would understand the old prophets must begin with this." But
may we not rather say that the careful study and comparison of both are absolutely necessary to the explaining of each other? It will, I think, be found, that if important minutiæ and particulars are given to John, together with an occasional disposition of facts calculated to throw light upon passages contained in the old prophecies; so likewise are there many particulars given at times in the old prophets which are of great use toward better determining the meaning of St. John, and which will afford aid also towards fixing the order and time of events.
To give an instance connected with the parallel just placed before the reader. First: the four beasts or living creatures described in Rev. iv. may be demonstrated to be an emblem of the Church; (whether the church militant or glorified need not here be inquired into:) for they sing,—“Thou hast redeemed us by thy blood out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation; &c." Chap. v. 9. The vision of Ezekiel therefore must have some reference or connexion with the Church. Secondly: if there be a designed relation between the visions, what is set forth in Ezekiel could not have been accomplished prior to the time of St. John, seeing that the invitation to the latter in chap. iv. 1. is, “Come up hither—I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. Thirdly: the description which introduces the vision of Ezekiel, chap. i. 4“And I looked, and behold a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire unfolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire. Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures;—seems to point to some connexion between the proceedings of the church of God and that awful period of tribulation so frequently set forth in Scripture as a whirlwind. See page 163.
But if there be a connexion between the prophecies of the Apocalypse and those of Ezekiel, still more evident is the relationship between the former and the prophecies of Daniel. The four beasts described in Dan. vii. coming out of the sea, like a lion, a bear, a leopard, and a non-descript with ten horns, obviously refers to Rev. xiii. 11, where apparently the last of these four beasts, the non-descript animal, is seen rising out of the sea, with seven heads* and ten horns. And his diversity from all other animals apparently consists in a monstrous combination of the likeness of the previous three; for he is like unto a leopard, and he has the feet of a bear and the mouth of a lion, (verse 29.) These four beasts are explained by Daniel (verses 17, 23) to be four kingdoms; and it is very important in fixing the meaning of the visions of Daniel and St. John to ascertain, what four kingdoms or empires they symbolize.
In this there is a pretty universal agreement among commentators, both ancient and modern, protestant and papal, that they are the Assyrian, Medo-Persian, Grecian, and Roman. The fourth monarchy is declared by the writer of the book of Esdras to be Rome; and Mede asserts it to have been the opinion of the Jews both before and after the time of Christ. Alcasar, Ribera, Gaspar, Sanctius, and Cornelius A Lapide (or Alapide, together with Baronius and Bellarmine, all Roman Catholic writers, admit Babylon to signify pagan Rome; and the intimate connexion between the Beast and the Babylonian Harlot of the Apocalypse is sufficient to identify them as being of the same empire. *
* Some suppose the seven heads described in Rev. xiii. 1, to be made up of the head of the lion, bear, and non-descript beast, together with the four heads of the leopard. Dan. vii. 6. Bengel, however, says, "that the ancient fathers understood by the seven heads, so many ages or monarchies of the world from its beginning to its end." I do not remember to have met with the enumeration of these seven: the Jews reckoned there would be nine from the beginning to the end. There existed in the time of Dr. Homes, the contemporary of Mede, a manuscript Targum, mentioned by him, which in Esther, chap. i. makes the computation thus: “The first monarchy was of God; second under Nimrod; third under Pharaoh; fourth under Solomon; fifth under Nebuchadnezzar; sixth under the Medes and Persians; seventh under Alexander the Great; eighth under Julius Cæsar; the ninth, the kingdom of Messiah, or Christ." This is apparently the same Targum as that mentioned by Jacob Colerus in the preface to the Hebrew Bible of Hutter. Omitting the first in this enumeration, and the very doubtful one under Solomon, which appears to have been inserted by Jewish vanity, and the list is useful as marking the agreement in the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th, with the designation and order of succession given by ancient Christian chronologists. In a very scarce tract by Sir Walter Raleigh, published in 1636, "discovering all the empires and kingdoms of the world, as they flourisht respectively under the foure imperiali monarchies; faithfully composed out of the most improved authours, and exactly digested according to the supputation of the
best chronologers," he thus places them, 1. Assyrian, 2. Persian, 3. Greek, 4. Roman.
I would take this opportunity of observing, that the seven heads explained to be mountains in Rev. xvii. 9, cannot be the
same as the seven kings of verse 10, as many expositors conclude, For of the former it is said, “the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sitteth, indicating, that at the time intended in the vision, the woman or city is placed upon them all at once: whereas of the kings, five are fallen, one only is present, and one yet to come.
A modern Spanish Roman Catholic writer, whose name is supposed to be Lacunza, but whose work is published under the Jewish name of Ben Ezra, has attempted to shake this opinion; on the ground that the four empires were not "inferior” the one to the other, particularly the second to the first, as it is intimated in Dan. ii. they should be.t But whatever seeming difficulties may attend a portion of the exposition, it is impossible to withstand the general tradition on this head that has existed in the church, together with the historical testimony mentioned in the note on the last page; to which may be added an observation of Mr. Faber's.--Speaking in his Sacred Calendar of the mode of reckoning the four empires symbolized by the image which Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream, he says—“Such a mode of reckoning, &c. is admirably illustrated by the famous astronomical canon of Ptolemy.
As the good spirit of God employs the four successive empires of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome in the capacity of the great Calendar of Prophecy; so Ptolemy has employed the very four same empires in the construction of his invaluable canon; because the several lines of their sovereigns so begin and end, when the one line is engrafted on the other line, as to form a single unbroken series from Nabonassar to Augustus Cæsar.” Vol. ii. p. 9.
But we may go further than the coincidence between interpreters and historians. The question appears to be susceptible of actual demonstration. There can be no doubt that the Babylonian empire is the first; for Daniel (ii. 38,) is precise upon the point to Nebuchadnezzar, in whose crown and government that empire was headed up: “Thou art this head of gold.” Again, of the woman, who is seen by John sitting upon the
* Many testimonies as to Rome being the fourth empire may be found in Mede's works, in Dr. Cressener's Demonstrations, &c. and Dr. More's Mystery of Iniquity.
† The successive inferiority of the one kingdom to the other is considered by Dr. N. Homes to refer to their respective treatment of the Jews. See the Resurrection Revealed, revised edition, p. 141.
# I have unceremoniously referred to this vision as prophetic, though some expositors would make the first six chapters of the book of Daniel historical, and only the last six prophetical. But there appears to be no room to question this vision. Some expositors consider the vision of the Tree also, in chap. iv. to be prophetical. (See Holmes's "Time of the End.") The visions may indeed be introduced through the medium of historical narrative, but this by no means invalidates their prophetical sense, or renders them of private interpretation. The same may be said of the Epistles to the Seven Churches. (Rev. ii. and iii.) A very able treatise on the prophetical sense of these Epistles was published in 1833, by the Rev. H. Girdlestone, which abounds with valuable critical and historical information.