« PreviousContinue »
suppose that God would select another for the execution of his designs. But instead of any such evidence appearing in John, we find expressions in reference to angelic agency in the fourth Gospel which might naturally fall from the pen of the author of the Revelation. E. g. i. 51 : “ Hearafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the son of man”; v.4: “For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool” (compare with this Apocalypse i. 4 seq.); xii. 29: “ An angel spake to him"; xx. 12: “ And seeth two angels siting,” etc. If it be objected to the Apocalypse that so much use is made of angelic agency, we will merely say, as it does not properly pertain to our present inquiry, that such agency is frequent in the Old Testament, especially in Daniel and Zechariah ; and that in the prophecies in reference to our Saviour, it is said that angels shall have guardianship over him, to keep him from evil in his human capacity (Ps. xci. 11, 12), and that in actual life they ministered to him (Matt. iv. 11), and that twelve legions of angels were at his command, if he desired them, to sustain him in his conflict with his enemies (Matt. xxvi. 53).
It has been objected to the Apocalypse, that antichrist is different in the Epistles and Apocalypse, since in the former prophets are thus designated, and a temporal ruler in the latter. In the first place it may be said, that the word is not found in the Apocalypse or in John's Gospel; and it can certainly be no objection to the Apocalypse that a different class of errorists are there brought into notice. Besides, as Hengstenberg says: “ The antichrist of the Epistles recurs substantially in the Revelation.” That the enigmatical Old Testament names of the Nicolaitans (ii. 6), of those who followed the doctrine of Balaam (ii. 14), of the woman Jezebel (ii. 20), are more suited to the character of the Apoc. alypse needs no proof. There is, besides, an apparent allusion to the name in chapter ii. 13.” 2
1 See Hengstenberg's Commentary, Vol. II. 478.
The doctrine of a double resurrection it is said is peculiar to the Apocalypse. Whether this is so or not, in the first place, depends upon the interpretation given to some pas. sages in the Apocalypse and some of the other books of the New Testament, about which there is much difference of opinion among scholars, and which can not be discussed here. Hengstenberg finds a plain allusion to a double resurrection in John v. 21-29: " The first and the second resurrection in the Apocalypse denote the same two stages of salvation which are also mentioned in the Gospel of John.” The only difference is, as Hengstenberg supposes, that “ the word resurrection is used in a figurative sense" also in the first stage, and that only the righteous are des. ignated in the Revelation, while in the Gospel the wicked are also included. But whether Hengstenberg is right or not, it makes little difference, as far as the authorship of the Apocalypse is concerned. That book was designed as a revelation of what should be in the future; and is it strange that something more, or more definite, is made known concerning the resurrection, which is but so lightly touched upon in the Gospel ? It seems to us, that only the strong desire to accumulate proof for a preconceived opinion would have had recourse to this as an argument.
Recapitulation. The testimony from the Fathers for John as the author of the Apocalypse is decided, full, varied, continuous, and almost unbroken in the early centuries. All the opposition that can be found to its apostolic origin is so manifestly the result of a perversion of its contents, and a desire to counteract the hurtful influence which had arisen from the supposed corroboration in it of millenarian views, that it can have very little weight in a critical argument (see p. 347, above).
The declarations in the book itself would seem, too, to leave little doubt who was its author. There can have
1 See Commentary, chap. xx. 5, and Vol. II. 476.
been no other John who could have honestly designated himself as John simply in writing to the churches over which John the apostle had the oversight, and who, in connection with the name, would naturally characterize his work in a manner so similar to that found in John's Gospel xxi. 24 (see pp. 348 seq., above).
. The general characteristics of the Apocalypse, from the origin, nature, and design of the work, are very different from those of the other writings of John, and indeed from all of the books of the New Testament; but still there is not only not anything in it which is contradictory to the other writings of John, but there are many points of union with them; as many, at least, as we should expect to find in writings so diverse in their general inception and object.
The manner of quoting from the Old Testament is not such in general as to throw much light upon the question of authorship; but in one passage at least (i. 7, compared with Gospel xix. 34 seq.) there are indications of the same hand that penned the fourth Gospel.
There are words and phrases in the Apocalypse that are not found in the Gospel and Epistles of John, and others in the latter productions which do not appear in the former. They are, however, not characteristic uses of words, or are easily accounted for from different topics treated of, or the different circumstances of the writer; while, on the other hand, there is a similarity in the use or omission of words and imagery that is peculiar, and certainly such as might be expected from the same author.
The sentiments and doctrines of the Apocalypse are many of them unique, but not contradictory to those of the acknowledged writings of John, and indeed are often such that one is strikingly reminded of the disciple whom Jesus loved.
THE DOCTRINE OF GOD'S PROVIDENCE, IN ITSELF,
AND IN ITS RELATIONS AND USES.
BY DR. BENJAMIN W. DWIGHT, NEW YORK CITY
Society is ever slowly oscillating in matters of public opinion and of public feeling from one extreme to another. In reference to principles of state polity, it vibrates to and fro, continually, from authority to liberty. In religious doctrine, the orthodox evangelical portion of it rests quite habitually in a fixed, strongly declared, outward estimate of the fact of God's sovereignty, standing by itself alone; while yet a few earnest minds make always an equally imperative demand for a full recognition, at the same time, of the unimpaired, inherent freedom of the human will in har. monious connection with it. It is natural to glorify power. Brahma, or Force personified, under whatever softer name, has ever been the god of the heathen, ancient and modern; and to quite too many minds in Christendom, also, does power seem to be the highest of the divine attributes.
Although the movements of the human heart, in the gross, are so little directed towards God, that it would be an overwrought statement to describe it as oscillating at different periods from scepticism to credulity, or better, if it might be so said, to faith itself, yet there have been at different times marked tendencies to great theological reaction from the plain gospel standard of doctrine and feeling among the educated classes. Such a strong reactionary tendency is very manifest now throughout the civilized world. one theme does it need to be met and baffled more fully than on the great doctrine of God's providence. Says Westcott well : « The belief in providence is the necessary supplement to the belief in inspiration."
The highest culmination of right religious thought and
feeling of any individual mind appears in its full, habitual, all-controlling realization of God's direct personal providence. A present God is the one great want of our natures; and the constantly quickening and inspiring consciousness of that Presence, in all its untold riches of power, wisdom, love and grace, is the greatest attainment of sanctified humanity, here or in heaven. “Let him that glorieth," saith God, glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me." In no respect is the piety of modern Christians more weak than in the habitual possession of a serene, uplifting sense of an ever-felt, though unseen, God, waiting to bestow himself, with his gifts, and infinitely beyond them, upon all his creatures. How much, in this relation, did the religious development of David and of the prophets and apostles, so long ago, transcend the type of spiritual strength and joy prevailing now, under the brighter light of the “ New Covenant."
The imagination exerts its highest power, and so has its grandest function and value, not, as is so generally conceived, in idealizing to itself or to the thoughts of others more perfect combinations of the elements of individual or related forms than are found represented in nature, or in giving to any of the great generalizations or abstractions of the human mind the force of corresponding concrete realities in any heart expanding with welcome effort to receive them ; but in the capability and the disposition to bring home to the inmost consciousness of the soul, with ever new vitalizing energy upon all its springs of action, the invisible and immortal objects of revealed faith. God is the true and only proper object of the imagination, as of reason, faith, and love. Differences of natural or acquired power of conception and realization will determine wonderful degrees of variation in the scope, strength, and style of true religious sentiment and of fervid religious feeling in different minds, which are yet all baptized from above, although with different measures of grace, into Christ. The highest ministries of the imagination are ministries to faith, to elevation of moral feeling, and VOL. XXI. No. 83.