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Apocalypse *. But a particular comparison of the passages in each writer would involve us in too long a disquisition. I mention these books, that the reader may compare them at his leisure.

By the preceding observations we may appear fully to have answered the objection to the Apocalypse, which first proceeded from the Alogi, and was afterwards taken up by some of the Church, that not Saint John, or any Apostle, but that Cerinthus, or some false fabricator, was the author of the workt.

I pass on to the consideration of an objection against the Apocalypse, which is also connected with its internal evidence; preferred against it in very early times, and often repeated even to this day, the obscurity of the book. This was the grand stumbling block with the ancient Fathers; and it continues to be such with Michaelis, who frequently repeats it ..

To this general charge of obscurity, a general answer may be given. How can you expect a series of prophecies, extending from the apostolical age to the consummation of all things, to be otherwise than obscure ? It is the nature of such prophecy to give but an imperfect light S,

* See Mr. Gray's learned and judicious account of this book. Gray's Key to the Old Testament.

+ Michaelis has shewn, from internal evidence, that Cerinthus could not be its author, p. 469.

# P. 459, 502, 503, 511.
So Pet. i. 19. 1 Pet. i. 10, 11, 12.




even in the case of prophecies fulfilled ; because
the language in which they are delivered is
symbolical, which, though governed by certain
rules*, and therefore attainable by the judicious
among the learned, is nevertheless very liable
lo iniscoustruction, in rash and unskilful hands,
But prophecies, yet unfulfilled, are necessarily
involved in deeper darkness, because the event
is wanting to compare with the prediction, which
of itself is designedly obscure : “ For God gave
“ such predictions not to gratify nien's curiosity
" by enabling them to foreknow things ; but
" that after they were fulfilled, they might be
“ interpreted by the event, and his own provi:
"dence, not that of the interpreter, be then
“ manifested thereby to the worldt.”
· This same objection of obscurity will operate
as forcibly against many of the prophecies of
the Old and of the New Testament, as against
those of the Apocalypse ; particularly the pre-
dictions which appertain to the latter days



* See this explained in Bishop Lowth's Prelections, p. 69, 70, and in Bishop Hurd's Sermons on Prophecy. † Sir Isaac Newton on Daniel, &c. p. 251.

The Jewish Sanhedrim doubted at one tiine whether they should not reject the book of Ezekiel from their Cano!of Scripture ; and one principal argument of this debate was the extreme obscurity of the book. Calmet's Dissert. vol. ii. p. 369. Sir Isaac Newton argues otherwise concerning the Apocalypse ; he argues from internal evidence, that " it is a part of this pro"phecy, that it should not be understood before the last age of

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The book of Daniel, which has our Saviour's seal to it *, must be rejected with the Apocalypse, if it be a sufficient objection to it, that it is yet in many places obscure.

But with respect to the Apocalypse, Michaelis has helped us to some specious arguments, whereby to shew that the difficulties of the book have not yet been fairly encountered ; that the men, who have attempted to explain it, have not been possessed of the necessary requisitest. To those who entertain this opinion, that “ the prophecies of the Apocalypse bave “ not been satisfactorily interpreted,” this might be a sufficient answer; for by such persons a hope may be yet entertained that, as the failure in expounding the Apocalypse is to be accounted for, by the want of proper qualifications in the expounders, this defect may in time be obviated. But the greater part of learned Christians who have applied themselves to the study of the Apocalypse, are not of this opinion. They are persuaded that a part of these prophecies have received their completion. But if that were not the case, if no such conviction were obtained; surely they would not be justified in rejecting a book so authenticated as

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" the world; and therefore it makes for the credit of the pro“phecy that it is not yet understood.” Sir I. Newton on Prophecy, ch. i. p. 251.

* Matt. xxiv. 15. of P. 503-511,


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divine, merely because they do not yet under-
stand it. If such had been the rash proceed-
ings of the Primitive Fathers of the Church, we
should not at this time have possessed the book.
But it has pleased divine Providence to preserve
it to us, and, if we cannot yet understand it, it
is our duty to deliver it to the studies of pos-

We cannot know what ages of Christianity are
yet to come; in what manner the predictions of
the book may yet be fulfilled; nor what portion
of the Divine Spirit, or of human knowledge,
may be yet granted to explain it. The prophe-
cies, now dark, may, to future generations, be-
come “a shining light," and the apocalyptical
predictions, rendered clear by their completion,
serve as an impregnable bulwark of Christian
faith, during the later ages of the militant
Church. Difficulties are found in the abstruser
parts of every kind of speculative knowledge.
Every study has its dark recesses, not hitherto
penetrable by human wit or industry. These
apocalyptical prophecies are among the deeper
speculations in the study of divinity. And are
we to be surprised, that man meets with diffi-
culties here; man whose bold, prying insolence
is checked in the paths of every science, by
the incomprehensible greatness of the works
of God!

We may, therefore, conclude, that no just cause has been assigned to induce us to reject


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the Apocalypse ; but that many good reasons, arising froin internal evidence, and concurring with the forcible arguments drawn from the testimonies of the ancients, require us to receive it as a book of divine inspiration :- But whether as the work of John the Apostle and Evangelist, will be the subject of inquiry in the next chapter.

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