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Abbreviations sometimes used in the following Pages.
C. V. Common Version of the Scriptures.
also verse : but when preceded by Ch. or the name of one of the books of Scripture then it means Chapter fifth.
13, read Thessalonica. 179 3, before Revelation insert the. 245 — 12, erase the turned commas at the beginning of the line. 247 — 14, insert a ] after (Mat. xix. 17.
ABOUT forty years have elapsed since the attention of the Author of these Dissertations was first turned to the Revelation; and the contents of that wonderful book have, ever since, much occupied his thoughts. For some years, like many other persons, he received implicitly, the dicta of those critics who charge the original with solecisms; but, in his endeavors to gain from translations, and from authors who had written on the subject, some knowlege of the meaning of the prophecy, he found it necessary, occasionally, to have recourse to the original, and, after some time, with such a result, in one or two instances, as led him to question the propriety of submitting, without a rigid enquiry, to the decision of those who impute grammatical improprieties to the amanuensis of the Apocalypse. That the book might contain some Hebrew idioms, and also peculiar modes of construction, appeared to him not improbable; but the more he considered the subject the more reasonable, at length, it appeared to him, to believe it possible that critics might be mistaken, than that a work, written by an Apostle,-by one endowed with the gift of tongues, and writing under Divine inspiration,-should abound in anomalies.
Persuaded that he has discovered the nature of those peculiarities in the composition of the Apocalypse, which have perplexed men of incomparably higher attainments, and have led to the erroneous opinion, so generally entertained, respecting its style, he thinks that he but performs a duty to his fellow christians in giving publicity to that discovery; and the more so as, from the precarious state of his health, it is very probable that he may not live to finish a larger work,—devoted to the elucidation of the Apocalypse with which he has been many years occupied :—but whether that work shall ever see the light or not, it is hoped that the other topics, connected with the subject, introduced into this volume, may also prove serviceable to persons engaged in the same pursuit.
Wherever the author has felt himself obliged, in the subjoined pages, to express his dissent from the opinions of previous writers, he hopes that he will be found not to have treated any one with personal disrespect. Should his language, in any instance, exhibit such a semblance, he begs to disavow the intention; for he can truly affirm, that he is grateful to every laborer who has preceded bim in these inquiries.
Differing, as he does, from received opinions, respecting the style of the Apocalypse, the author is aware that he exposes himself to criticism: but if dispensed with candour it shall be an excellent oil which shall not break his head ; for none will rejoice more than himself in the correction of any error into which he may have fallen ; that truth, from whatever quarter it may come, may alone have that influence, which the interests of literature, of religion, and of society so uuiversally deserve, and so imperiously demand.
DISSERTATION THE FIRST.
ON THE OPINIONS DELIVERED BY ECCLESIASTICAL
WRITERS RESPECTING THE DATE OF THE APO.
To ascertain the true date of the Apocalypse is, as will be shown hereafter, a subject of much greater importance than at first view most people may imagine. Critics are by no means agreed as to the time when it was written : indeed they differ so widely, that some make it one of the earliest, while others make it the last published book of the New Testament, Grotius and Sir Isaac Newton ascribe it to the reign of Claudius or of Nero. Mill, Lardner, Bengelius, Woodhouse and some other able critics contend that it was written in the reign of Domitian, A. D. 96 or 97. Michaelis believes
that it was written in the reign of Claudius;' who died A. D. 54. and appeals to Sir Isaac Newton, “ that prodigy of learning,” whose arguments in favor of an early date he considers as generally unexceptionable, (excepting those drawn from allusions to the Revelation, alleged to be found in the first Epistle of Peter, and in the Epistle to the Hebrews.) “I have so high "an opinion (says he) of the divine under"standing of Newton, that I cannot flatter my“self with having discovered a proof in his
positions which was undiscovered by him. “ It is therefore with some diffidence that I lay “ before my readers some additional arguments “ for his opinion, that the Revelation was writ"ten so early as in the time of Claudius or “ Nero." His additional arguments are :1. That when the Apocalypse was written, the governors of the church were still called Angels, a name nowhere else applied to them in the New Testament or in the writings of the primitive fathers. In the Epistles they are called Bishops [énít xotos]. “Is it probable (says he) [επίσκοποι]
) " that John would choose to be singular in
calling those Angels [ãyye2o1), who had, by “custom, obtained a different title? May we
* Introductory Lectures 1761. 4to. p. 389. But in his 4th Edition (Marsh's Translation 1793. 8vo. Vol. 4.) he seems to hesitate, whether to ascribe it to the reign of Claudius or that of his successor Nero.