Imágenes de páginas

seventh day and the seventh year, they conclude the world will last six thousand years in the state in which we now see it ; or, as Rab. Elias in the Talmud expresses it, two thousand years without the law, two thousand under the law, and two thousand under the Messiah ; after which comes the grand Sabbath of one thousand years. This notion, though it be perhaps without any sufficient ground, might be improved into an argument ad hominem to convince the Jews that the Messiah must be already come, since the world has gone far more than half-way through the last two thousand years of the six thousand allowed by their tradition; for its continuance during which period therefore, if at all, must be the reign of the Messiah.”—Jennings' Jewish Antiq. vol. ii. p. 293.

“We cannot but reckon it an instance of unwarrantable presumption in several Jewish writers, and some of the fathers after them, to suppose as they do, that the world shall continue six thousand years from the creation, and that as it was made in six days, and the seventh ordained to be a Sabbath, this had a mystical signification, and accordingly in its application to this matter, a day answers to a thousand years ; or, that as the world was two thousand years without the written word or law of God, and after that two thousand years under the law, so the days of the Messiah shall continue two thousand years, and then follows the eternal Sabbatism at Christ's second coming. As for the Jews who speak of this matter, their unbelief is condemned out of their own mouths, since they do as it were concede that the time in which the Messiah was to come, was that in which he actually appeared. Notwithstanding this is a groundless conjecture so far as it respects the end of the world, and indeed it is an entering into a secret which is altogether hid from mankind.”—Ridgley's Body of Div. Quest. 56. vol. ii. p. 505.

“ Of the Jewish writers Rabbi Ketina, as cited in the Gemara, or gloss of their Talmud, said that “the world endures six thousand years, and one thousand it shall be laid waste (that is, the enemies of God shall be destroyed) whereof it is said, Is. 2. 11. The Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. Tradition assents to Rabbi Ketina : “As out of seven years every seventh is the year of remission, so out of the seven thousand years of the world the seventh millennary shall be the millennary of remission, that God alone may be exalted in that day.'-(The tradition of the house of Elias above cited is then given, after which it is added)—" It was also the tradition of the house of Elias, that the just whom God shall raise up (meaning in the first resurrection) shall not be turned again into dust. Now if you inquire how it shall be with the just in these thousand years wherein the holy blessed God shall renew this world, whereof it is said, And the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day, you must know that the holy blessed God will give them the wings as it were of eagles that they may fly upon the face of the waters ; whence it is said, Ps. 46. 2. Therefore will we not fear when the earth shall be changed. But perhaps you will say, it shall be a pain and affliction to them. Not at all, for it is said, Is. 40. 31. They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with

wings as eagles."--Newton on the Proph. p. 588, ed. in one vol.

Upon these quotations, which might be indefinitely multiplied from the Rabbinical writers, it may be observed ;

(1.) That the tradition recited appears to be rightly regarded as a tradition, and nothing more. We do not find that it rests upon any express declaration of the inspired scriptures of the Old Testament, the only portion of the sacred volume to which an appeal would be made by a Jew. As far, moreover, as we are able to discover the origin of the tradition, it is to be traced up to one Elias; but who he was, when he lived, and what might have been his claims to the prophetic character, we are left in utter ignorance. We know, indeed, that some later advocates of the opinion have maintained, that he was no other than the Elias or Elijah of the Scriptures, who lived in the reign of Ahab, but they have never, we believe, advanced a particle of proof in support of the affirmation. It unquestionably comes to us, therefore, as a mere traditionary legend, which every one is at liberty to adopt or reject as he pleases. It is accompanied by no external credentials which should entitle it to any higher rank in our estimation, than the thousand idle conceits and puerile glosses of the Talmudical annotators. The propensity of the Jewish writers to mystic and allegorizing interpretation is well known, and in the present instance their exposition of the Mosaic history of the creation savors strongly of the dreams of the Cabala. At the same time, it is but fair to admit that, as there is nothing in the Scriptures which directly

contradicts it, the tradition may be well founded. It has, perhaps, more of an air of internal probability than most of the Rabbinic fancies which have laid a tax upon human credulity. The use of the number seven in the sacred volume is certainly remarkable, and cannot but be admitted in many cases to possess a mystical import. It is by no means impossible that it may be so in the present instance. At any rate, we are disposed to treat with respect an opinion which has been for ages in vogue among the pious, though it may lack that degree of evidence, on the score of origin and authority, which should entitle it to a place among the articles of our faith. We are not, therefore, prepared to class among the vagaries and hallucinations of Jewish conceit the interpretation in question. All that we affirm is, that it is not, and cannot be, authoritative. But,

(2.) Even on the supposition that this allegorical exposition is founded in truth, it does not follow that the sabbatical millennary of the Judaic tradition is the same with the thousand years of the Apocalypse. The identifying them is certainly a gratuitous assumption. For ought that appears to the contrary, though it should be granted that a sevenfold series of chiliads is destined to measure this world's duration, the Millennium of John may coincide with some other of the number than the seventh. The very point, therefore, which of all others stood most in need of confirmation is fortified with the least. So little countenance does the doctrine of a Christian Millennium yet future receive from the uncertain dogma of a grand concluding Sabbath of the world.

That there was, however, an early transfusion or in

corporation of this feature of Judaism into the Christianity of the primitive fathers, will be evident from the following testimonies collected from their writings. Nor should this be matter of surprise when it is considered that many of the first Christians were by birth Jews, who had been trained up in all the distinctive peculiarities of the Mosaic economy, and were, like Paul, .exe ceedingly zealous of the traditions of their fathers.' It was natural therefore that they should endeavour to harmonize the prophetic announcements of the New Testament as far as possible with the views which they had imbibed from Jewish sources of the later destinies of the church and the world. Their sentiments, accordingly, were deeply tinctured with the hue of those preconceptions which they brought with them from the synagogues and schools of their early education. From them the opinion would naturally be propagated among the gentile converts. Of this we shall hope to lay conclusive evidence before the minds of our readers.

Of the Christian writers of the first century, who al. lude to this subject, Barnabas in his epistle speaks thus:

666 And God made in six days the works of his hands, and he finished them on the seventh day, and he rested in it, and sanctified it.' Consider, children, what that signifies, he finished them in six days. This it signifies, that the Lord God will finish all things in six thousand years. For a day with him is a thousand years ; as he himself testifieth, saying, · Behold this day shall be as a thousand years. Therefore, children, in six days, that is, in six thousand years, shall all things be consummated. And he rested the seventh day: this

« AnteriorContinuar »