« PrécédentContinuer »
DISSERTATION THE SECOND.
ON THE EVIDENCE FURNISHED BY THE EPISTLES IN
THE NEW TESTAMENT, RESPECTING THE TIME WHEN
Having, in the preceding dissertation, bestowed on Ecclesiastical tradition, and the in: ferences thence drawn, repecting the period at which the Apocalypse was written, and also on the arguments founded on the supposed state of the churches at the period when the Revelation was given, as much notice as they seem to de serve; and shown that the whole reasoning, in favor of a late date, rests on unfounded assumptions, partly unsupported and partly contradicted by the real facts, I now proceed to enquire whether the writings of the Apostles furnish any internal evidence of their having been written later than the Apocalypse. If it can be shown that, when they wrote, they had
the Apocalypse in their hands, this evidence will completely decide, which of the ecclesiastical traditions, respecting the time at which this
prophecy was written, is best entitled to credit: or rather, it will entirely discard tradition, as unworthy of regard.
It was noticed in the preceding dissertation, that this was one of the proofs suggested by Sir Isaac Newton for an early date to the Apocalypse ; and that Bishop Newton was satisfied that the allusions to this prophecy, pointed out by Sir Isaac, in the Epistles of Peter, and the Epistle to the Hebrews, were conclusive. It were to be wished that the Bishop had given the public the particulars of his investigation, instead of the mere result; as a man of his learning would, no doubt, have done the subject more justice than it can receive from the individual who now presumes to pursue the inquiry. Michaelis, too, professes to have examined the allusions pointed out by Sir Isaac, but the result gave him no conviction. If, however, his inquiry was as superficial, and his decision as dogmatical, on this point, as on some others connected with the Apocalypse, bis memory will suffer nothing from the suppression of the reasons which left him in doubt. What I particularly allude to is his statement, that—“The true and eternal “ Godhead of Christ is certainly not taught in
“the Apocalypse so clearly as in St. John's
Gospel.”—This shows that, with all his critical skill, Michaelis could not rightly read the Apocalypse. In no book of the New Testament is the doctrine more explicitly declared than in the Revelation. Nay, more: were it necessary to say, that it is more clearly taught in any one book, than another, the Revelation is that book.
In examining the question before us, I shall, for the sake of perspicuity, lay before the reader the result furnished by an inspection of each of the Epistles, in separate sections.
§ 1. Of allusions to the Apocalypse, found in the
Epistle to the Hebrews,
As Sir Isaac Newton was, I believe, the first who suggested this kind of evidence; and as those who have controverted his historical testimonies, have, generally, passed over without notice all that he has advanced respecting scriptural proofs—the best of all evidence,—I shall enter on this inquiry by laying before the reader, in the first place, the observations offered by that great man, on the allusions to the Apocalypse, that are to be found in the Epistle to the Hebrews.
“ The Apocalypse seems to be alluded to “(says he) in the Epistles of Peter and that to “the Hebrews; and, therefore, to have been writ
“ ten before them. Such allusions, in the Epistle “ to the Hebrews, I take to be, the discourse con“cerning the High Priest in the heavenly Taber“ nacle, who is both Priest and King, as was “ Melchizedec; and those concerning the Word
; " of God, with the sharp two-edged sword; the
oußßariouds, or millennial rest; the earth whose “ end is, to be burned, suppose by the luke of fire ; "the judgment and fiery indignation which shall “ devour the adversaries ; the heavenly city which “ hath foundations, whose builder and maker is “ God; the cloud of witnesses ; Mount Sion;
heavenly Jerusalem ; general assembly ; spirits “ of just men made perfect, viz. by the resurrection ; "and the shaking of heaven and earth, and re“ moving them, that the new heaven, new earth, and “ new kingdom, which cannot be shaken, may reo main.”
“ The Epistle to the Hebrews, since it men“tions Timothy as related to those Hebrews, must
have been written to them after their flight into Asia, where Timothy was Bishop; and by
consequence after the [Judaic] war began, “the Hebrews in Judea being strangers to “Timothy.”
Peter in his second Epistle mentions, “ that “ Paul had writ of the same things to them, and “ also in his other Epistles. Now as there is no
Epistle of Paul to these strangers besides that “to the Hebrews, so in this Epistle (x. xi. xii.) “we'find at large all those things of which "Peter had been speaking, and here refers to;
particularly the passing away of the old heavens " and earth, and establishing an inheritance im“ moveable, with an exhortation to grace, because “God is a consuming fire (Heb. xii. 25—29).”
On the internal evidence to be found in the Epistle to the Hebrews, in proof of its being written after the Apocalypse, I shall say but little, in addition to what has been quoted, from Sir Isaac Newton, on the contents of that book.
In this Epistle, it is to be remarked, the Apostle seldom employs direct quotations from the Apocalypse, and, therefore, a cursory reader will not easily perceive some of his allusions. They are, however, very numerous ; but the language is often changed and adapted to the scope of the argument where he employs them. Let it be also recollected that, as will be shown in our progress, it was not then a question, at what time the Apocalypse was written? or whether it was a divine work ? for if the book was already in the hands of the church, its topics, of course, were familiar to believers, and therefore close quotations were not necessary; nor was this the general practice of the inspired penmen.
In Ch. x. 35, 36. he exhorts them to retain their confidence, which hath great recompense of