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REVIEW OF NEW PUBLICATIONS.
Art. I.-- The Opening of the Sealed Book in the Apocalypse, shown to
be a Symbol of a future Republication of the Old Testament. By RICHARD Newton Adams, D.D., Fellow of Sydney Sussex College, and Lady Margaret's Preacher in the University of Cambridge. Cambridge: printed at the University Press. London: Parker. 1838. 8vo. pp. xviii. 230.
The high respect to which every opinion of Dr. Adams is entitled, and the influence which any theory propounded by him must of necessity have, renders it at once a difficult and a delicate task to offer any observations, which may impugn his testimony, especially upon a subject of such paramount importance, as the right interpretation of the Revelation of St. John. Of late years so many writers have fancied that they have discovered the real " apocalyptical key,” that there have been more works published upon this head, than upon almost any other of similar moment; but it was reserved for Dr. Adams to check the stream of modern interpretation, and endeavour to lead back the mind of the christian inquirer to the opinions of the earlier writers upon this point, and confine their researches to what he considers the safer channel of criticism, if we may use the expression. And certainly, if profound learning, indefatigable research, and gospel zeal, could have settled the controversy, our author must have succeeded to the utmost extent of his wishes.
The title page of the book will at once explain the revived theory, for such it appears to be, which the Doctor has adopted. In studying the opinions of the early Fathers of the Christian Church, they were found to differ essentially from those adopted by more modern commentators ; and a casual notice of Michaelis led to a more systematic inquiry into the several changes which the interpretation of the Apocalypse, and VOL. XX. NO.VII.
especially that of the SEALED Book, had undergone from the earliest ages of Christianity. To this combination of circumstances we are indebted for the very valuable treatise now before us, and although we cannot recognise all the arguments of the writer, we have great satisfaction in introducing him in a new character to the notice of our readers. The nature of the volume will be best understood from the following passage in the Introduction:
It is not in any sense a coinmentary on the Apocalypse, which is here attempted, but simply an inquiry into the meaning of its fundamental symbol, the Sealed Book. One principal reason, which has induced the author thus to limit the subject of his research, and confine himself solely to the task of laying the foundation for future expositions, is the conviction in his mind, which has gradually acquired strength during the progress of his investigations, that this Book is at this day still sealed up, and that its unsealing must precede and usher in the accomplishment of all the subsequent visions.-P. xii.
In support of his argument Dr. Adams introduces a formidable array of “ Fathers who have left commentaries on the Apocalypse, or have incidentally alluded to the Sealed Book ;" and that his readers might be enabled at once to consult the originals, and form a more correct judgment both as to the accuracy of the translation, and the inferences deduced from them, the extracts, corresponding with the passages from the Fathers, embodied in the work, are printed at full length in the Notes, in their original language.
For this candid method of conducting the argument, we feel that great credit is due ; but after a laboured and most dispassionate review of the subject, we are still inclined to coincide with Mede, Bishops Newton and Hurd, Lowman, and other eminent divines, who consider that many of the prophecies of the Apocalypse have been already fulfilled, and that the others are in daily progress. If we direct our attention to the prophecies of the Old Testament, and study the manner in which it pleased the Almighty to reveal his purposes to man, we shall find this progressive system invariably adopted. The numerous predicted events connected with the history of our Saviour, from the first announcement of God's gracious purpose in Eden till the awful consummation on Calvary, were daily fulfilling. And we do not see the objections, which appear to startle our author, to a similar progressive fulfilment of similarly predicted events connected with Christ's Church upon earth, which all men allow are shadowed forth by the prophets as preordained of God to come to pass before the second coming of our Lord.
Our impartial and unbiassed judgment is solicited in the proposed exposition.
Let the reader (says Dr. Adams) lay aside, if possible, all preconceived opinions as to the scope or object of this revelation, and endeavour to ascertain, from the opening and conclusion of the book itself, what was the leading subject in the author's mind, when he began and finished its composition. It is here, if anywhere, in the formal opening and formal closing of the whole work, that the bias of the writer's thoughts will show itself: and that the momentous subject, to which these visions relate, will stand forth too prominently to pass unnoticed, and too plainly to be misunderstood. Now it seems impossible to read the first eight and the last sixteen verses of the book, without feeling assured, that the all-absorbing thought, which engrossed the apostle's mind, was the speedy coming of bis Divine Lord; and that this is the centre towards which all these revelations point. Why else, after apparently finishing his introduction at the clos of the sixth verse, does he place in front of his work, as it were the motto of his subject, this solemn declaration, so uncalled for on any other supposition? “Behold! He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him : and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen." Why else does he dwell on this topic, and recur to it so repeatedly, at the end of his labours, and close, the whole with that servent prayer for its accomplishment? “ Even so, come, Lord Jesus."
This, therefore, appears to the present writer to be the general subject of these prophecies :-A Revelation of the events imniediately connected with, “that blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.” Titus ii. 13.—Pp. 4, 5.
The method by which it is proposed to overthrow the generally received opinion that the succeeding visions relate to succeeding periods of history, is an assertion, strongly supported certainly by some of the Fathers, that these “visions contain repeated predictions of the same series of events, and those events more immediately connected with the second coming of the Messiah.” On this point we must refer to the work itself; and proceed to the subject of the “Sealed Book."
Now without dwelling on the various interpretations of the sealed book, which different writers have proposed, the author will at once state the opinion which he entertains on this subject. The book, bere seen by the apostle, is the Old Testament:—this book is represented as sealed, to intimate that its contents are in some manner hidden from mankind :--and its unsealing will be equivalent to a new revelation. The Old Testament was given by the Almighty at different times, and through the bands of different inspired writers, to the Jewish Church. “To them were committed the oracles of God.” (Rom. iii. 2.) And so long as they continued faithful to their trust, the sacred talent was never withdrawn from them. But when that Divine Saviour, of whom all the prophets testified, came unto his own chosen people, and was by them rejected, scorned and crucified, they deservedly forfeited the honourable distinction which they had hitherto enjoyed, that of being the acknowledged Church of God, the authorized guardians of his revealed word. That word, therefore, to which they had refused to hearken was withdrawn: the light, against which they had closed their eyes, was judicially extinguished. The destruction of Jerusalem hy the Roman armies, and the dispersion of the Jews as degraded outcasts among all the nations of the earth, are facts too familiarly known to require any observation. But in the midst of this awful devastation, when the temple itself was burned to the ground, what became of that sacred treasure, the authentic copy of the word of God? It can scarcely be necessary to remind the reader, that the place appointed for the preservation of the sacred books was within the temple, in the most holy place, in or by the ark of the covenant. (Deut. xxxi. 26.) Did these, then, share the general ruin? or, was the providence of God as conspicuous in the preservation of his own revealed truth, as in the destruction of its apostate guardians ? To this question the reply is easy: we have the express declaration of the historian, Josephus, that the sacred books did not perish in the flames, but were safely conveyed to Romne. Here, then, was the sealing up of the bouk : from that moment it was no longer an
open revelation of God's will to his chosen people : but, being withdrawn from them, it was placed under the secret custody of another guardian: or, rather, its Divine Author became himself its keeper: and under his eye it yet remains in safety, to be again unsealed at his appointed time for the conviction and conversion of the world:-Pp. 62–64.
The above long extract will at once develop the author's style of discussion, and the whole of the following pages are designed to bear him out in the opinions he has adopted. We have already borne testimony to the great zeal and abilities with which the task has been undertaken ; but still consider the generally received interpretation more correct in fact, and more in accordance with the ordinary dealings of Almighty God with his creatures.
We cannot close this notice without extracting the concluding paragraph of the volume, to which we request particular attention, merely suggesting that when the Doctor speaks of “ this book being sealed up as a judgment of the apostasy of the Jews,” it strikes us that the blindness of mind which would not suffer them to receive and acknowledge their Saviour, when she came unto his own," and the continued hardness of heart which up to this day will not permit them to see in Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One, him of whom the prophets spake, proves that now as then the Bible is to them a “SEALED BOOK." The idea of this book remaining under the appointed guardianship of Rome," and its unsealing being " the preordained and predicted instrument of the conversion of the Jews and Gentiles," is a novel hypothesis, and certainly one which we are not at present prepared to adopt. In all probability, however, from certain hints scattered through the volume, we may expect from the learned author some further lucubrations on the subject, all of which shall receive our best consideration. And we have some idea that the subjoined may induce a correspondence on the point, and direct a more general and earnest attention to the “SEALED Book."
With these reflections the author will now submit his labours to the calm and serious consideration of the reader; not without hope that they will contribute, at least in some slight degree, to the more clear understanding of God's revealed word, and to the promotion of his kingdom and glory. We have before us, in the Old Testament itself, clear predictions, that this book would be sealed up, as a punishment of the apostasy of the Jews; and intimations at least, if not evident prophecies, of its future uusealing, when God shall again in mercy visit his aucient people. We have historical evidence that the Book was thus sealed up by that very power which executed the threatened vengeance on Jerusalem, the Roman army. We have presumptive evidence that the Book was not again unsealed in the early ages of Christianity; and that it may, possibly, yet remain under the appointed guardianship of Rome. And that the Apocalypse is a prediction of the future unsealing of this Book appears, first, from the use of the symbol itself, so exactly harmonizing with the predictions of the Old Testament; -secondly, from the interpretations of this prophecy by the early Christians, to wbich this hypothesis is the only key ;-and, lastly, from the present state of the Jews and of the Gentile world, of whose conversion this unsealed Book will be the pre-ordained and predicted instrument.--Pp. 228, 229.
Art. II.--Journals and Letlers of the Rev. Henry Martyn, B.D.
Edited by the Rev. S. WILBERFORCE, M.A., Rector of Brightstone. 2 Vols. London: Seeley and Burnside. 1837. 8vo. Pp. 527 and 407.
(Continued from page 342.) So many of the most important and interesting parts of these volumes consist of notes and memoranda which require the juxta-position of the context to make them thoroughly understood, that we must refer our readers to the work itself, and content ourselves with a very few extracts more, beginning with the following insertion by the Editor in Vol. II.
From the 24th of January to the 24th of September, 1809, Mr. Martyn's journal is continued in Latin and Greek prose, in a style which strikingly attests his command of those languages; as they are, of course, unfit for insertion in their actual state, and as translation would wholly deprive them of their spirit, they are entirely omitted. Upon the 23d of September, Mr. Martyn resumes his English journal with the entry, “ Finding that writing in Latin or Greek, (which I resorted to for secrecy,) leaves my journal an insignificant detail, for want of being able to express myself as I wish, I return to the English. I continue occasionally to look towards the Hebrew, but not with the eagerness I once did; want of success damps my ardour.”—P. 256.
The following argument with Jaffier Ali Khan is full of interest.
He then began to explain his own sentiments on Soofeism, of which it appeared he was a passionate admirer. He spoke so indistinctly, and with such volubility, that I did not well comprehend bim, but gathered from his discourse that we are all parts of the Deity. I observed, that we had not these opinions in Europe, but understood that they were parts of the Brahminic system. On my asking him for the foundation of his opinions, he said the first argument he was prepared to bring forward was this; God exists, man also exists, but existence is not two-fold, therefore God and man are of the same nature. The minor I disputed; he defended it with many words. I replied by objecting the consequences, Is there no difference between right and wrong? There appeared a difference, he said, to us, but before God it was nothing. The waves of the sea are so many aspects and forms, but it is still but one and the same water. In the outset, he spoke with great contempt of all revelation. You know, said he, that in the law and Koran, &c., it is said, “ God created heaven and the earth,” &c. Reverting to this, I asked whether these opinions were agreeable to what the prophets had spoken. Perceiving me to be not quite philosophical enough for him, he pretended some little reverence for them, spoke of them as good men, &c., but added, that there was no evidence for their truth but what was traditionary. I asked whether there was any thing unreasonable in God's making, a revelation of his will ?-he said, No. Whether a miracle for that purpose was not necessary, at least useful, and therefore credible? He granted it. Was not evidence from testimony rational evidence ?—Yes. Have you then rational evidence for the religion of Mahomet? He said the division of the moon was generally brought forward, but he saw no sufficient evidence for believing it. He mentioned the Koran with some hesitation, as if conscious that it would not stand as a miracle. I said, eloquence depended upon opinion ; it was no miracle for any but Arabs, and that some one may yet rise up and write better. He allowed the force of the objection, and said, the Persians were very far from thinking the eloquence of the Koran miraculous, bowever the Arabs might think so. The last observation he made was, that it was impossible