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Plantine edition, give the title in full, “ The Apocalypse of the holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Divine.” Atokalvys Tov αγιου Αποστολου και ευαγγελισου Ιοαννο το θεολογο.
Many may think that we have dwelt longer than was required on the authenticity of the book, and be inclined to say with Cocceius," that it does not seem necessary to repeat what has been said by learned men on the subject : for if we scrutinize the prophecies of this book, and compare them with the other Scriptures, and with those things which have already taken place, we shall find that this book could not have been written without the dictation of the Holy Spirit.” But as the opponents of Divine truth raise objections of all kinds, we think it right to shew that we are prepared to meet them at all points : moreover, any doubt of the inspiration of this book robs a man of that peculiar and indispensable instruction which is here only to be found.
From this book it is that we derive the full and certain knowledge of the reign of Christ upon earth, and learn to understand the long and varied series of events by which this glorious kingdom is prepared and announced. This consummation of the
purpose of God, which since the Fall has constantly been
the earnest expectation of the whole creation ” (Rom. viii. 19), though every where implied throughout the Scriptures, and mentioned in general terms times without number, is no where laid down explicitly, with all the signs of its approach, place for its display, characters who shall enjoy it, and time of its duration, except in the Apocalypse. It is the revelation of Jesus Christ; and till we have learned from this book the manner of our Lord's manifestation, and how the changes in the world are connected therewith, we neither know our duty as subjects of Christ, nor the true relation in which we stand towards the world. The Apocalypse, while it reveals Christ, lays out, for the guidance of his people, the whole history of the church, from the Apostles' time till the Millennium : which glorious consummation the early Christians so eagerly “ looked for, and hastened unto” (2 Pet. iii. 12), that the Apostles were obliged to caution them against being “soon shaken in mind, as that the day of Christ is at hand” (2 Thess. ii. 2). To attain the first resurrection, and a portion in the Millennial kingdom, was the great object of hope to all the first Christians, and to a vast majority of the orthodox for the first three centuries. And it is a certain historical fact, that down to the time of. Eusebius (who himself was, as Burnet says, “a back friend” to the doctrine, rather than an open enemy), none but heretics ever denied the Millennium, or spiritualized its meaning, except Caius and Dionysius. But when, for reasons which we shall shortly state, Eusebius and Jerome wished to give a spiritual interpretation to the Millennium, they found the strongest defence against their perversion of Scripture in the uniform, unbroken, undeniable tradition of the church; a defence which they endeavoured to undermine, by calling in question the judgment of those through whom the Apostolic tradition was first transmitted. This was a sorry artifice; for those holy men did not give forth the doctrine as their own, or as deduced from their interpretation of Scripture—in which cases only their judgment would be of any consequence in deciding-but they declare the doctrine to have been by them received immediately from the Apostles ; and their veracity (which no one has dared to impugn), not their judgment, is the quality which decides the question. It is as witnesses to facts that these early fathers are produced, and veracity alone is sufficient to constitute a good witness. But we shall shew that even their judgment was not so slight as our opponents represent, and this by the most unexceptionable testimony, the testimony of those who first called it in question.
The earliest of those, fragments of whose writings on the Millennium have come down to us, is Papias ; of whom Jerome thus writes, in his Catalogue of illustrious Men (xviii.): “Papias, the hearer of John, bishop of Hierapolis in Asia, wrote only five volumes, which he entitled An Explanation of the Discourses of our Lord :' in which, after asserting in the preface that he followed not various opinions, but those which came from the Apostles, he says, I considered what Andrew, what Peter had said, what Philip, what Thomas, what James, what John, what Matthew, or any other of the disciples of our Lord; what, moreover, Aristion and John the Elder had spoken; for reading books does not profit me so much, as conversing with the living authors.'” And to the same effect Eusebius
” records the words of Papias, Eccl. Hist. iii. : “ Nor will you be sorry, that, together with our interpretations, I commit to writing those things which I have formerly learnt from the elders and committed to memory. For I never (as many do) have followed those who abound in words, but rather those who taught the truth : nor those who taught certain new and unaccustomed precepts, but those who remembered the commands of our Lord, handed down in parables, and proceeding from Truth itself. But if at any time I met with one who had been conversant with the elders, from him I diligently inquired what were the sayings of the elders....For I thought that I could not derive so great profit from the reading of books, as from the conversation with men yet surviving."-Among the traditions thus collected from the elders by Papias, stands that concerning the marvellous fertility of the earth during the Millennium, which has been made the subject of so much profane criticism :
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but some of these reverend doctors would surely have spared their unhallowed levity, had they known that it was recorded by Papias as a discourse of our Lord, handed down by John the Evangelist. “ The elders who had seen John, the disciple of our Lord, remembered that they had heard from him what our Lord taught concerning those times (the Millennium), and said, "The days shall come in which the vine shall bring forth abundantly.....and corn in like manner.....and all other fruits and seeds and herbs, after their several kinds : and all animals using those kinds of food which spring from the earth, shall become peaceful and harmonious one with another, being perfectly obedient to man. But these things are credible only to those who have faith. Then Judas the betrayer, not believing, and asking how such fertility should be brought about by the Lord; ' that our Lord said, “They shall see who come to those times.' And of these very times Isaiah prophesying saith, and the wolf shall dwell with the lamb.'” (xi. 6.)
Grabe, in reference to the Millennium, observes, “As to the fact, it is certain that all the orthodox Christians of the first pected new heavens and a new earth, according to the sayings of the Apostles and the promises of the Prophets, at the second coming of Messiah, to restore them to that state of felicity in which they had flourished before Adam's fall. And the greater part placed this felicity not only in spiritual blessings, but in temporal also, persuaded that then only the earth would be delivered from the curse inflicted upon it on account of Adam's sin, and would bring forth an abundance of every good thing without the labour of man. Which was also the opinion of the early Jewish writers, as appears from the sayings of the Rabbies quoted, Raymond Martin, Pug. Fid. p. iii. dist. iii. cap. 15: and Galatinus, lib.x. cap. 4. To which I add the words of Rab. Dav. Kimchi on Hos. xiv. 7, .They shall revive as the corn,' that there shall be a change of nature in the wheat, when the Redeemer (Messiah) comes. He understands the change as if it shall not be necessary in that time to sow corn, because it shall produce spontaneously, like the vine, &c. And this opinion concerning the fertility of the earth, and the change throughout the whole of nature, beyond all doubt Papias also and those elders favoured, who transmitted to posterity the words cited by Irenæus as uttered by our Saviour.”
-To these words of Grabe we may add the observations of the venerable head of Magdalen (Routh's Reliquiæ Sacræ): “As to the source of this opinion concerning the renovation of the earth, which formerly spread far and wide, and even now continues among many theologians, Grabe has shewn that it was held formerly by the early Jews. Moreover, Mosheim has shewn (Sæc. iij. $ 38, p. 721), that the Chiliasts existed among
Christians before the time of Papias, and that Eusebius is unworthy of credit where he says that the hope of a Millennium had been derived from the Bishop of Hierapolis by the succeeding Fathers. For since Papias was not the first who broached this opinion, but had himself received it from others, which Eusebius himself does not conceal in this very place, it is manifest, says Mosheim, that some Christians had 'imbibed the opinion, from whom their successors might have learned it. To this he adds, that Irenæus commends not Papias as the author of this opinion, but only defends himself by the testimony of Papias.
" Again, it is important to observe, that as Papias was probably the earliest of our writers who committed any thing of this kind to writing, or expounded the Apocalypse of John in this way, he therefore might seem in some sort the leader and author to others of this cherished opinion concerning the kingdom of Christ.”
Those who oppose the doctrines of a Millennium have generally made Papias the principal object of their attack. Eusebius was one of the earliest of our opponents; and, when combating the orthodox opinion of the reign of Christ, he speaks of Papias as a man of slender parts and shallow judgment, cap. 33. But when he has no such feeling of hostility in his mind, and may therefore be supposed to express his real unprejudiced sentiments, he speaks of the same Papias in the highest terms.
After naming Polycarp, the companion of the Apostles, he says, " In whose time Papias, bishop of the church in Hierapolis, enjoyed great fame and celebrity; a man most eloquent in all things, and skilful in the Scriptures.” (Eccl. Hist. iii. 30.) This may surely negative the insinuation, cap. 33, that he seems to have been a man of slender genius, and leave us impressed with the same reverence for Papias which his surviving contemporaries and their immediate successors entertained. These all expected the reign of Christ upon earth. Lactantius lived at the end of the third century, and treats expressly on the Millennium, saying, “ This is the doctrine of the holy Prophets, which the Christians follow : this is our wisdom.” Shortly after, A. D. 325, the Nicene Council met, and, in fixing and defining all the other articles of faith, thus decide on the Millennium : “ Wherefore we expect new heavens and a new earth, according to the holy Scriptures : at the appearance and kingdom of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.
And then, as Daniel says, vii. 18, the saints of the Most High shall take
. the kingdom. And the earth shall be pure, holy; the land of the living, not of the dead.” Here, then, the Millennium rests on the same authority as the Nicene Creed, and we cannot understand on what principle those who receive the one can dare to reject the other. Jerome lived towards the end of the fourth century; but though, for reasons which we shall immediately give, he wished to discountenance a Millennium, yet, reverencing the multitude of holy men who held it, he durst not condemn the doctrine: “Which opinions, though we follow them not, yet condemn them we cannot, because many of our churchmen and martyrs have affirmed such things." Soon after Jerome, men arose who were as strongly prejudiced against the doctrine as himself, and who had none of his reverence for antiquity to restrain them; which, combined with other circumstances, to which we shall soon advert, threw a cloud over this and every pure Apostolic doctrine for nearly eight hundred years of ignorance. But when the Reformation dawned, and the church was roused from the long slumber of the dark ages, she again turned to the Prophetic page for instruction and for warning; she again saw the necessity for coming out of Babylon, and thundered forth the scriptural denunciations against the “mother of abominations :” and thus shaking herself loose from present attachments, she looked forward with eager interest to the manifestation of “ the city of the living God, the New Jerusalem which cometh down from heaven:” and these expectations were recorded in the Catechism of Edward VI. 1553. Treating on prayer, it is said, “There followeth the first part of the Lord's Prayer, wherein we require, that not only we, but also all other whosoever, may in holiness honour, reverence, and worship his name.... In the second part, we require that his kingdom come. For we see not yet all things in subjection to Christ: we see not the Stone hewed off from the mountain without work of man, which also bruised and brought to nought the image which Daniel describeth, that the only Rock, Christ, may obtain and possess the dominion of the whole world, granted him of his Father. Antichrist is not yet slain. For this cause do we long for and pray that it may at length come to pass and be fulfilled, that Christ may reign with his saints, according to God's promises : that he may live and be Lord in the world, according to the decrees of the holy Gospel ; not after the traditions and laws of men, nor pleasure of worldly tyrants. Master: God grant that his kingdom may come, and that speedily.”—What the framers of this catechism understood by “his kingdom,” is clearly set forth in a preceding part : “ The end of the world,
“ holy Scripture calleth the fulfilling and performance of the kingdom and mystery of Christ, and the renewing of all things. For, saith the Apostle Peter, in his Second Epistle, chap. iii., ' we look for a new heaven, and a new earth, according to the promise of God, wherein dwelleth righteousness.' And it seemeth reason that corruption, unstedfast change, and sin, whereunto the whole world is subject, should at length have an end....according to the witness of the same Apostle, “The heavens shall pass