Images de page
[ocr errors]


port the very ancient tradition, that the Apocalypse was published under the persecution “ by Domitian.” His Lordship seems to have understood the verse referred to, literally; as meaning temporal riches--an increase of worldly goods; or why should he have offered in contrast, the ruined state of the city, after being visited by an earthquake? But assuredly the language is here figurative. The Laodiceans believed themselves rich in spiritual attainments. This is abundantly evident, from the nature of the remedy held out to them for the removal of the delusion under which they were laboring: “ Buy of me, &c. that thou mayest be richthat thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes

that " thou mayst see :" that is, “ that thou mayst see “thine own wretchedness, poverty and nakedness! “how much thou hast mistaken thy true charac“ter!"-His Lordship cannot mean, that there was not time, in five years, to collect a church in the formerly ruined but then renovating city. Could this possibly be his meaning, it might be answered, that, “ as there could be no church “in Laodicea from A. D. 60 to A. D. 64, there“fore the Apocalypse must have been written, not

only before the Neronian persecution, but before “the destruction of that city in the year 60.”— And such I take to have been indeed the fact; though not for the reason just now suggested.

[ocr errors][merged small]


Sir David Dalrymple is, in general, such a close reasoner, that his remark occasions the more surprise : for if we take the passage in v. 17 as meaning, literally, the good things of the present life, and therefore allow that, in five years, they could not have acquired riches and wealth to boast of; why pass on to the reign of Domitian, to allow them time to get rich and increased in goods; when, by only going back a few years, we should reach the period in which Laodicea possessed the accumulated wealth of generations, undiminished by the calamity of the earthquake?

Of the traditions respecting Jobn one yet remains to be noticed, and which by some has been considered as demonstrative that his visit to Patmos—no matter how occasioned-and consequently his publication of the Apocalypse, must have been long prior to the period assumed by those who ascribe the book to the reign of Domitian. Eusebius (lib. iii. c. 23) relates out of Clemens Alexandrinus, that John, “ time after his return to Ephesus out of the Isle “ of Patmos” [notice the statement—"after his “return from Patmos”]“ being requested, visited “the countries adjoining, partly to consecrate

bishops-partly to organise new churches,” &c. In this tour he committed a hopeful young man to the care of a certain bishop, who hereupon


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

received him into his house, brought him up, educated, instructed, and at length baptised him. The young man, it is stated, was for a time so diligent and serviceable that his master distinguished him by some kind of apparel as one of his family. In process of time, however, he became remarkably dissolute, perniciously associating himself with some idle, wicked and vicious young men of his own age, who first introduced him to bad company, and then induced him to steal and rob in the night. In a word (for it would occupy room unnecessarily to quote the whole passage from Eusebius), he became at length the captain of a gang of thieves and robbers who infested a neighbouring mountain and were the terror of all the country: and, saith Chrysostom, “ he continued their captain a • long time.”! John, some time after, coming again to the church, to whose bishop he had committed the care of the young man, enquired after him, and being informed what had happened, called for a horse, and rode immediately to the place where he consorted with his associates : and when, out of reverence to his old master, the young man fled on seeing him, John pursued and overtook the fugitive, reclaimed and restored him to the church, &c. &c.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

This is a story of many years ; but between the death of Domitian and that of John there play were but two years and a half. In his lat- bant Low ter years too, John was so very weak and in-line firm that with difficulty he could be carried to the

honden hive church, where he could hardly speak a few words perdele

Bsmilian to the people. The inference seems obvious. Whir donk?

' His return from Patmos, after which the circumstances related respecting the young man are stated to have happened, must be referred to some earlier period than the reign of Domitian. For John died near 100 years old, and it seems physically impossible that, in his latter years, he could have mounted a horse and rode briskly after a young robber, even were we to stippose that he survived Domitian for a period long enough to have allowed these events to intervene before his own death.

The opinion that the Apocalypse was written very early is, to use the words of Sir Isaac Newton, * "confirmed by the many false Apocalypses, " as those of Peter, Paul, Thomas, Stephen, “Elias and Cerinthus, written in imitation of “ the true one. For as the many false Gospels, “false Acts, and false Epistles were occasioned “ by true ones; and the writing many false


* Hieron. in Epist. ad Galat. I. iii. c. 6. * Observ. upon Dan. and Apoc. p. 238.

Apocalypses, and ascribing them to apostles “and prophets, argues that there was a true apos“ tolic one in great request with the first Chris“ tians: so this true one may well be supposed “ to have been written early, that there may be “room in the Apostolic age for the writing of so

many false ones afterwards, and fathering them

upon Peter, Paul, Thomas, and others, who “ were dead before John. Caius, who was con“ temporary with Tertullian, tells us that Ce“ rinthus wrote his Revelations as a great apostle, “ and pretended the visions were shown him by “ Angels, asserting a millenium of carnal plea“sures at Jerusalem after the resurrection;' so .“ that his Apocalypse was plainly written in “imitation of John's : and yet he lived so early, “ that he resisted the apostles at Jerusalem in or before the first year of Claudius, that is, “twenty-six years before the death of Nero, and “ died before John."3

This argument, which must strike every impartial mind, as very powerful and conclusive against a late date, is generally passed over, without notice, by those who refer the book to the reign of Domitian; but silence will not set it aside. Cerinthus, who wrote a false Apoca

Apud Euseb. Eccl. Hist. 1. iii. c. 28. Edit. Valesii. * Epiphan. Hæres. 28. Hieron. adv. Lucif.


[ocr errors]




« PrécédentContinuer »