Графични страници
PDF файл

him as an apostate, and deserter of the cause of the Sanhedrim—their inadequate ideas of the Messiah-the approaching ruin of Jerusalem, and the consequent dispersion of his people. Impressed with sorrow for their condition, he made his last, and perhaps his greatest effort, to convince them of the real nature of the spiritual Being whom they ought to expect; as the causer of a greater deliverance than the rescuing of their degraded country from the dominion of Rome. Avoiding all mention of his own offensive name, he wrote his Epistle to the Hebrews, to prove the truth of the doctrine upon which alone Christianity is established, the divinity and atonement of Christ, who is the Word of God, the personal and manifested Logos of their own Scriptures. The Epistle to the Hebrews may be considered the key to the Old Testament, and the most important of all the inspired writings to him, who would understand clearly the Scripture doctrine of the person of Christ.

It is not improbable that St. Paul proceeded from Italy to the various places to which he intimated his desire to travel, and to others, which are mentioned in ecclesiastical history as the scenes of his labours. The reasons, upon the authority of which it is believed by many, that he now travelled to Britain, Jerusalem, Antioch, to certain towns in Asia, to Greece, and Rome, will be found in the notes, from the second to the twelfth sections.

On his second visit to Rome, the Apostle was again imprisoned, in the general persecution of the Christians under Nero. In the anticipation of approaching death, he wrote his second Epistle to Timothy. In this letter he takes his farewell of his friend, and of the Church, and expresses his joy at the prospect of a painful death, with that humble, but well-founded confidence, which is the privilege of a Christian only.

The approaching death of St. Paul, and the near destruction of Jerusalem, evidently rendered this the most appropriate period, when the rest of the Apostles who were still alive, might usefully address their general Epistles to the Christian Churches. We are accordingly now presented with the Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude. The prejudices of the former Apostle against the Gentiles had subsided, and he addresses himself jointly to them, with the Jewish converts, to encourage them to holiness and to patience under suffering. In his second Epistle he reminds them of the danger of apostasy, and of the end of the Jewish dispensation, and the visible world.

About the same time St. Jude writes his Epistle, to guard the converts against every doctrine, however specious it might appear, which tended to diminish the sanctions of holiness. This was the one great object of all religion : and no purity of faith, no zealous attachment to a party, an opinion, or a creed, can be substituted for the indispensable sacrifice of ourselves to God.

The sixteenth section brings us to the martyrdom of St. Peter and St. Paul, the two principal leaders of the army of the Church militant upon earth. It is probable that none of the Apostles, except St. John, was now left alive. The appeal of the Spirit of God to the Jews, was now terminated. St. Peter had opened the kingdom of heaven to his people; St. Paul had invited and adjured them to enter in—they had refused to accept the invitation; and the wrath came upon them to the uttermost. They wander among us, the outcasts of mankind. The contempt of the nations has begun only to subside into pity with the existing generation. For the first time since the fall of Jerusalem, their Christian brethren regard them with uniform benevolence.

The eighteenth section contains the Book of the Revelations. I believe it, with Dr. Clarke, to have been intended to supply the place of a continued succession of prophets in the Christian Church. I have divided it, with some variations, according to the theory of its interpretation, submitted

to the world by our latest and most popular commentator, Mr. Faber. · The reader is supposed to have perused the volumes of this learned, though not always satisfactory, hierophant.

The opinion that the apostacy of papal Rome is announced in the Book of Revelations, has been long and rightly received among the Churches. Mr. Croly has published some very curious and valuable observations on this point. He is of opinion that the principal portions of the Apocalypse refer exclusively to the corruptions of the western Church. I subjoin a brief analysis of his ingenious system of interpretation, which is worthy of the attention of the biblical Student, for whose advantage this statement is principally designed. (x).

(x) The System of Interpretation of the Apocalypse, by the Rev. George Croly, A.M. &c.—The Apocalypse is not a consecutive prophecy, but a fasciculus of prophecies, seen probably at intervals, during St. John's dwelling at Patmos, all predicting nearly the same events, under different emblems and modes of expression, and thus checking and illustrating each other. After the first three chapters, addressed to the Asiatic Churches, the predictions are strictly confined to Europe ! They take no notice of the Eastern Church, nor of Mahometanism. They are limited to Popery, of which they give a history, regular, close, and circumstantial, in a remarkable degree. Analysis of the Apocalypse.—Chapters 4, 5, 6, 7, (the chapters of the Seals) are a general view, or index, of the events detailed in the subsequent predictions. These chapters comprehend the course of Providence, from the birth of Christianity to the Millenium. Chapters 8, 9, 10, 11, (the chapters of the trumpets) are identical with chapters 15 and 16, (the chapters of the seals.) They both predict the series of events between the Reformation in the 12th century, and the great universal war in which Popery is to perish. But the chapters of the trumpets mark the events with much more detail. Thus chapter 8, gives a view of the general, physical, and moral sufferings of man, in consequence of the divine displeasure at the corruptions of Christianity by the Popedom. Chapter 9 is a most remarkable and characteristic prediction of the French Revolution. This prediction has been hitherto presumed, by the majority of commentators, to apply to Mahometanisin. This is the chapter which Pastorini's, Walmsley's prophecies apply to Luther, and the Reformation in Germany, and on which the Irish Romanists founded their expectation of a massacre of the Protestants in the year 1825. It will be shewn that it applies only to our æra--that its date is past-and that it is the history of the French Jacobin empire. Chapter 10 is the sudden diffusion of the Holy Scriptures, and synonymous of the French Revolution. Chapter 11 is a history of the suppression of the Holy Scriptures by Popery, of their public

Contrary to the usual mode of arrangement, I have placed the Epistles of St. John after the Apocalypse. The difference of the style in the composition was one of my principal arguments for so doing. The language of the Book of Revelations appeared to be the result of less intercourse with the Greeks, than that of the Epistles, which bear much resemblance to the style of St. John's Gospel, the last in date of the inspired writings. The powerful recommendations

extinction by Atheist and Revolutionary France, and of their sudden recovery from this degradation, by being spread to the boundaries of the globe. Chapters 12, 13, and 14, with 17, 18, and 19, are the peculiar narrative of the Church of Rome, in its rise, progress, and final punishment. Thus, Chapter 12 gives a detail of the persecutions of Christianity by Paganism, as embodied with the government of ancient Rome—with the transmission of the spirit of Paganism into the govern. ment of modern Rome, displayed in similar persecutions of Christianity. Chap. 13, is a striking prediction of the rise of the combined temporal and spiritual power of Rome. The Reformation under the Waldenses--the fierce vindictiveness of Rome against those early Christians—and the formation of the Inquisition, for the double purpose of crushing the Reformers, and of raising Popery to universal dominion. Chapter 14, is a prediction of the downfall and extinction of Popery, by means whieh are yet hidden, but which are palpably connected with some great, brief havoc of man, and ruin of the government of nations. The intervening chapters, 15 and 16, are the chapters of the seals, and have been already mentioned as synonymous with, and explanatory of, the chapters of the trumpets. The 17th, 18th, and 19th chapters, are various details of the mode, in which the punishment and extinction of Popery will be accomplished. Of these chapters, of course, it would be presumptuous to attempt any detailed interpretation. They are future, and their satisfactory interpretation must wait for the event. But they all distinctly imply some visitation of the divine wrath rapidly approaching, involving the world in war, of an extent, fierceness, and power of civil and physical ruin, beyond all example, and threatening all but the extinction of the human race; a deluge of

From the 20th chapter to the end of the Apocalypse, are predictions of the period which is to follow the destruction of Popery, as the great criminal and corruptor of the Christian world. The Millenium, closing in a second brief apostasy, to be distinguished by a sudden display of the power of God, followed by the day of judgment, and the consummation of that system of Providence in this world. In this view of the Apocalypse, no prediction lower down than the French Revolution, is looked upon as a subject for exact interpretation. This Revolution, however, furnishes the key to the Apocalypse, fixing the dates of the numbers 1260 and 666.


also to love and truth and union among Christians, which abound in the Epistles of St. John, appeared to be a more valuable legacy to the Churches of God, than even the prophecies of the Apocalypse. Whether there be prophecies, they shall cease-charity never faileth.

The completion of the Canon of the New Testament having been noticed in the twentieth section, I have concluded the work with a brief review of the history of the Christian Church, from the close of the apostolic age to the

present period. One day with our Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. Though the fire by night, and the pillar of cloud by day, no longer guide the visible Church through the wilderness of this world—He that keepeth his spiritual Israel can neither slumber nor sleep. As surely as he led his people in the olden time from Egypt to Canaan, so certainly will God overrule the evil of our state of trial, and direct the nations of a Christian world to truth and peace, to union, and to mutual love. Individual holiness and political happiness must prevail upon earth. The province of this planet shall be re-conquered from the power of evil, which has so long led it captive. The tree of life will be again planted in the Paradise of earth, and all mankind, renovated in holiness, and serving their only great God in spirit and in truth, shall become one religious family of one merciful Father..

Such are the sublime representations of the plans of Providence, which appear to be revealed in Scripture respecting mankind. When we remember the greatness of the Deity, and the mystery of the continuance of evil, they will appear as rational as they are scriptural. They are founded upon the supposition, that evil would not have been permitted, unless greater eventual benefit would be thereby conferred on all accountable beings. By the atonement of Christ alone, (the one great truth of Scripture,) evil will be conquered, and universal happiness secured. Shadows, clouds,

« ПредишнаНапред »