Images de page
PDF
ePub

of souls, looks on his churches with the same * kind of eye with which the bishops of Antichristian churches look at theirs--disregarding any of them because of their insignificance! He acts far otherwise. Wherever there are even so few as two or three congregated in his name, to observe his ordinances, there is he in the midst of them, of however little importance such a congregation may be held in the estimation of those worldly churches which some people would perhaps describe as in “ a settled and flourishing state."

That the Asiatic churches could not, so early as the reign of Nero, exhibit the character ascribed to them in the Apocalypse, is a mere assumption; for we have seen that other churches were equally censurable, at the time at which the different epistles, addressed to them, were written. Let us apply the same mode of enquiry into character, to the Asiatic churches, by examining the only Apostolic Epistle which we have, addressed to one of the Apocalyptic churches: I mean that sent to the saints at Ephesus.

Paul, in his Epistle to the Ephesians (ch. iii. 17, 19), prays that Christ may dwell in their hearts by faith, that, being ROOTED AND GROUNDED IN LOVE, they might know the love of Christ, which excelleth knowlege of any other kind. The

ܪܐ

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

.

Apostle was ever earnest, in his prayers, that all the churches might increase and abound in love yet more and more; but in his subsequent ex

;; hortation he more than insinuates a reason for his particular anxiety, on this point, respecting the Ephesians :-" I the prisoner of the Lord be"seech you to walk worthy of your calling, with all lowliness and meekness, with LONG SUFFER

ING, FORBEARING(or bearing with) ONE ANOTHER IN LOVE; earnestly endeavouring to PRESERVE THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT “IN THE BOND OF PEACE-one body and one spirit” (iv. 1–4). Does he not here plainly intimate, that they were now exhibiting a temper and conduct very different from that spirit of love by which Christians ought to be characterised ? He goes on, in the fourth chapter, to remind them of the design of all Christ's gifts to the church, namely, the edification and perfecting of the body of CHRIST, " that we may no

longer be children, tossed like waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, ..

but speaking the truth IN LOVE may grow up into CHRIST the head ...... This I say therefore and charge 'you in the Lord, that ye NO LONGER walk as other gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind Put away lying, and speak every man truth to his "neighbour : for we are members one of another.

[ocr errors]

“ ARE YE ANGRY! AND WITHOUT “SIN ?'.[impossible]. Let not the sun go down

upon your wrath, nor [thus by your anger] give "place to the devil ..... Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth......

and grieve not the HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD...... Let all “ BITTERNESS, and WRATH, and AN“GER, and CLAMOR, and EVIL SPEAK“ING be PUT AWAY FROM YOU, and " all MALICE: and BE YE KIND one to

another, TENDER-HEARTED, FORGIV“ ING one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Be ye therefore imitators of God as dear children, and WALK IN “LOVE as CHRIST hath loved us, and hath given himself for us(iv. v). A departure from their FIRST Love,” is

LOVE plainly inferable from the whole of this exhortation; nor can we longer doubt, that such a change in the conduct of some of the members of this church, as Mr. Woodbouse, and those whom he follows, maintain could not possibly take place before the reign of Domitian, had actually occurred before the date of this Epistle (A. D. 61

IBe ye angry and sin not,is worse than nonsense : Oργίζεσθε, και μη αμαρτάνετε; slhould be rendered interrogatively. The second person plural of the present imperative and of the present indicative having the same orthography perhaps contributed to this error.

[ocr errors]

a

according to the best critics); and, so far, their argument for a late date to the Apocalypse is unfounded. That they should have entirely overlooked the strong reproofs of the apostle to this church-reproofs which fix upon it the same character ascribed to it in the Apocalypseis surprising; and it is still more surprising that Mr. Woodhouse should so strenuously maintain, and expand the argument, in the face of this direct testimony of Paul, that this church had actually turned from her first love, before he wrote this epistle.

The reproof to this church, in the Apocalypse, runs thus:

I have against thee that THY LOVE [ayati), “THY FIRST [love], THOU HAST LEFT"[or forsaken]. Rev. ii. 4.

Paul, writing to Timothy, says :" I besought thee to abide at Ephesus that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine. Now the end (or design] of this charge " is LOVE [ágarn], out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned ; FROM

SOME HAVING SWERVED, “ HAVE TURNED ASIDE TO VAIN "JANGLING.” 1 Tim. i. 5.

From this it appears not only possible, that the church at Ephesus could depart from her first love, so early as the time of Nero, but most certain

WHICH

that this church had actually then swerved from it and turned aside. The whole argument, therefore, for a late date for the Apocalypse, drawn from the alleged state of the churches when the Revelation was written, falls to the ground; for here we have a church-one of the seven Apocalyptic churches too-reproved for the very fault laid to her charge in the Apocalypse, and that more than thirty years before the date which those who ascribe the book to the reign of Domitian would give to this prophecy.

$3. Other Arguments, which have been adduced for

and against a late date to the Apocalypse, considered.

Another argument has been suggested for a late date to the Apocalypse, which may be briefly noticed. Laodicea was overthrown by an earthquake in the year of Rome 813 (A. D. 60), and the persecution under Nero began in the year of Rome 817 (A. D. 64). “It is not probable "(says Lord Hales') that St. John would have "addressed the Laodiceans as he does at ver. “ 17 (ch. iii) had their city been ruined about “ five years before. This may contribute to sup

1

Sir D. Dalyrmple's Inquiry into the secondary Causes assigned by Gibbon for the Rapid Growth of Christianity, p. 41. note.

« PrécédentContinuer »