« PreviousContinue »
fore, be totally irrelevant, if referred in a subordinate, or in the primary, to constant communications from hea- sense. ven; but they are admirably descrip- I will assume (without concediug) tive of a mind habitually religious and that it is used in the primary sense, devont.
denoting the Almighty. In modern compositions we find What follows? the same application of the phrase In my humble apprehension, that “ with God." The following lines are the version ought, for the sake of orpart of a hymn by the late Dr. Dod- dinary readers, to be dridge, on “ living habitually in the .“ The word was as God." fear of God :"
Pronounced by Him, through a “ As diff'rent scenes of life arise,
medium, it was to be regarded, not Our grateful hearts would be
merely as spoken by himself, but in With thee amidst the social band, scriptural phraseology) as himself. In solitude with thee."
Pretty bold, it may be said, and I am, therefore, disposed to con
rather free with the original. strue John i. 1, 2, thus: “ In the
But, is such a latitude, to make beginning of the period respecting
sense of a passage, unexampled or which I am now to treat, Jesus Christ unauthorized ? existed; and Jesus was a pious and
Take the answer in 2 Samuel xxir.
23. religious person, and Jesus was God; as Moses was God to Pharaoh, and as
“ All these things did Arannah, those persons were called gods unto
as a king, give unto the king." The whom the word of God came. This word “ as" is in italics, supplied by Jesus was in the beginning with the translators to make sense of the God, i. e. he was from the first pious passage ; Araunah being no king, and religious."
but a wealthy subject of David's. Thus, it seems to me, that unifor
It is possible, also, to make nonmity is preserved in the interpretation
sense of a passage by a literal transof the phrase which has now been
lation, unexplained. considered; that the Evangelist is
« The word was with God, made to speak with distinctness and and the word was God.” precision both of the personal and
This occurs in the context, and a official characters of Jesus Christ; be very easy to cite
more eminent example it would not and that the second verse contains an explanatory remark of considerable
So, ought not Matt. xii. 50, to be importance, instead of appearing to rendered, “Whosoever shall do the be merely a repetition of what had will of my father which is in heaven, been asserted in the preceding verse.
the same is as my brother and sister These observations are made with
and mother"? diffidence, for I am not aware that
If I be told that this and a multithey correspond with any explanation
tude of similar passages are always that bas yet been given of the passage be it so! And does not consistency
understood and read in this sense,to which they relate.
require the same principle of con
struction to elucidate John i. 1? Brief Notes on the Bible.
BREVIS. No. Il. THERE is no safer rule, none
On the Contents of the Book of the more estimable, than that of in.
Revelation. terpretating Scripture by Scripture.
No. I. « The word was God.” John i. 1.
TOTWITHSTANDING the blesJesus is taken to be implied by “the Word;" the word of God, in attend to the words of this prophecy, all its “ fuluess," residing in, and and keep those things that are written being promulgated by, him.
therein, many sincere believers in But, the question is unsettled whe- Christianity think the time lost that ther.“ God,” in this sentence, be used is spent in the study of it, and that it
would be much better employed in
studying the precepts of morality. • For No. 1, see Vol. XIII. p. 632. With them I think this last ought to
be done; but also, that the knowledge though all the parts of this book har. derived from the other would be a monize together, yet the book, to be strong inducement to the practice of understood, must be considered as the moral principles of Christianity. dividing itself into three parts. 1. Is Under this impression I shall take the the figurative description of the Chrisliberty of submitting to your readers tian church, as the temple, with Jesus the following sketch of its contents, ministering in it as high priest. Then as they appear to ine, upon comparing follows the description of the peculiar it with the ecclesiastical and civil his state of each church, through the tory of the first centuries of Chris. whole period of the prophecy: with tianity :
propriety this may be considered as Chap. i. 1—3, is the authority for the ecclesiastical part of the prophecy, publishing this book, it being the and is contained in the three first revelation made by the Deity of future chapters. events, to Jesus the Christ, and by The second part of this prophecy him, through his messenger, in vision, represents Jesus as enthroned, and made known to John, who herein going forth with his army of saints to bears his testimony to all that he saw; break into pieces the kingdoms of the and pronounces him blessed who stu- world. This part begins at the 4th diously pays attention to it, because chapter, and concludes at the 18th the time of commencement was fast verse of the 11th chapter; and the approaching
remaining chapters may be considered Ver. 4-20 : John's address to the as descriptive visions of various scenes, seven successive ages of Christianity, which take place from the first estadescribing the manner in which the blishment of nominal Christianity, vision was given to him, that the till the grand period of the consumscene was laid in the Temple or Chris. mation of all things. Under this view tian Church, (1 Cor. ii. 16, 17,) in of the prophecy we shall find that which Jesus, clothed as high priest, the 4th and 5th chapters correspond was in every succeeding age walking with the Ephesian church-state, and amongst the lamps or churches, trim. are an account of the general political ming them and keeping them con- state of Christianity until the destrucstantly bright. The last verse unfolds tion of Jerusalem. The 6th and 7th the mystery of this whole chapter, chapters run parallel with the church by explaining that the stars in the of Smyrna, and describe the overright band of the bigh priest, are the turning of Rome Pagan. The 8th Christian teachers, in the seven ages and 9th chapters describe the overof the Christian Church; and that turning of the Eastern Roman Christhe seven lamps are the Churches, tian empire. The 10th and 11th whose lamps, in seven successive pe- describe the Christian world, as it riods, are to follow each other in may be called, from the commence. being the lights (Matt. v. 14) of the ment of nominal Christianity, under world.
Constantine, till the conclusion of the The second and third chapters con- Millenial age, including the whole of tain the messages that Jesus, our high the remaining five churches, which priest, sends in each period to the will be more distinctly seen by noChurch. The prologue of each message ticing their respective periods of is taken from the descriptive appear- commencement and conclusion. ance of Jesus in the first chapter. The Returning back to the 4th chapter, second part describes, in few words, the I notice, that, in the descriptive mes. general state of the Church in each sage to this church, it was to continue age. This is followed by directions from A. D. 83, to A. D. 73. Its chasuitable to the period, and interspersed racter was to be reniarkable for their with threats and promises; and the laborious exertions in spreading the wbole concluding with rewards to Gospel, their patience under Jewish be given to overcomers, and an ex- persecution, and their trying the crehortation to those who have under. dentials of those judaizing teachers standing, to hearken to the prophetic who called themselves apostles; their directions.
undauntedness in suffering; their abChap. iv. Johu is invited to look horrence of ambition in Christian into futurity: and before we do so, teachers; that at the commencement it may be proper to observe, that of this period they were unitedly of
one heart and mind, but that at the on which the twenty-four ancients
derived from the superior virtue of
into futurity, and 2, in a prophetic his banners, reply, in chorus,
vision beholds a throne; 3, and Jesus “ Worthy is the Lamb that was
gloriously enthroned on it; 4, sur- slain,
rounded by twenty-four ancients in “ To receive power, and wealth,
priestly robes, with regal crowns on and wisdom,
each side encircling him on the throne; “ And strength, and honour, aud
5,6, the usual accompaniments of the glory, and blessing.".
Divine Presence with the sea of glass To this chorus the whole living
before the throne; 7, 8, and the che- and dead repeat in chorus,
rubic standard of Israel displayed: a “ To the Lamb be blessing, and
lion for Judah on the East, an eagle honour, and power,
for Dan on the North, a man for Reu- “ And strength to the age of ages."
ben on the South, and an ox for The four battalions of Israel, i. e.
Ephraim on the West; whilst the army the united church militant throughout
of Israel under their respective stand the world, under their respective
ards pronounce that he who was dead, standards, exclaim, “ So be it;" on
but is now alive, and who cometh to which the royal priesthood pay ho-
judge the world, God's appointed ru- mage to their King.
Ier, is thrice holy and all-powerful; We see here the enjoined duty on
9–11, whilst the army of Israel with the teachers of that day: whilst the
their standard-bearers, ascribe honour army of Jesus was collecting recruits
and glory to Jesus their ruler, the in Palestine, and the whole civilized
twenty-four ancients, or the united world, it was to unfold the vast poli-
chiefs of the royal priesthood in both tical designs intended to be accom-
dispensations, raise the chorus, plished by the doctrines of the cross;
“ Worthy art thou, our Chief, with and, that though Christianity was the
our God most holy,
most moral and virtuous of all reli-
to prove to Christians the importance
“ And they were and are formed sations; they being the weapons by
which God intended to subdue the
Chap. v. continues this grand scene, We are now come to the Smyrna
the Messiah come. They
and the power;
superior excellency. And as Smyrna reign of his family for about fortytwo signifies myrrh, the incense which years emblemized by a black horse ascended before the altar was the per- and balances. His own cruelties and fume of bitter persecutions, imprison- severe regulations were followed by ments, tortures and martyrdom. This the horrible atrocities of the fierce was declared (chap. ii. 9) should take Caracalla, who was succeeded by the place, and principally owing to the infamous and effeminate Heliogabalus, Jewish nation and priesthood, who, and the murder of the excellent Alexhaving lost their political character, ander. endeavoured, by all their influence, Ver. 7, 8, introduce the fourth seal 10 prejudice, by false representations, from the North, and which contain an the Gentiles against Christianity; It epitome of war, famine, wild beasts was likewise foretold they should have and pestilence, which last about fifty ten years of severe persecution, but years, beginning with the reign of that, if they faithfully suffered mar- Maximin of Thrace, who began his tyrdom for it, they should, by their reign by seizing all the public revedeath, gain for Christianity a crown nues, and exercising the most unheardamong the living; which took place of cruelties, and close with the elecwhen Constantine made it the religion tion of Diocletian to the imperial dig. of the Roman empire.
nity. This is allowed to be the most During the reigns of Augustus, awful period that the empire had ever Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, known. The competitors for the purGalba, Otho, and Vitellius, Christi- ple were so numerous, that, between anity was gaining ground by its sim- civil wars and the invasions of the plicity, and the purity of its doctrines. barbarians, wild beasts, famine and Miraculous powers evidenced its truths pestilence desolated the whole empire. to be of divine origin; these, aided by Ver. 9–11, is the opening of the fifth the apostolic labours, formed Chris- seal, and alludes to the ten years' pertian societies over the whole Roman secution under Diocletian. The scene empire. Christianity was generally is laid in the Temple, and the martyrs free from persecution, exc ting from who had been sacrificed are repre. the Jews. The standard-bearers are sented as crying for vengeance upon represented in the square camp, one their persecutors; they are exhorted at each quarter of the world, Rome, to patience, and to consider how the the seat of government, being consi- Ephesian church had triumphed. dered as the centre.
The other persecutions had been Chap. vi. 1, 2, opens the first seal, occasioned by various causes emanaby introducing to the tbrone of the ting from Christianity; but this was Cæsars, Vespasian from the West. This occasioned by a full determination to seal lasts with the Flavian family, destroy the Christian name, instead of twenty-eight years. Its white horse which it occasioned the overturning and bow is the emblem of victory, of the Pagan Idolatry of Rome, and and the reign of the princes of this substituting nominal Christianity in family was one season of conquest. its stead.
Ver. 3, 4. The second seal ushers Ver. 12—17, is the sixth seal opened in Nerva from the West, and lasts with an account of the overturning of to the murder of Didius Julianus. Paganism. By a reference to Haggai Nerva was a Spaniard, west of Rome, ii. 1, Heb. xii. 27, Isaiah xiii. 12-14, as was also Trajan, who succeeded xxxiv. 4, Jeremiah iv. 23, 24, Joel ii. him. This period is well emblemized 10, 31, Matt. xxiv. 39, as well as other by the red horse; it being remark- places, it will appear that this lanable for the conquests of Trajan, the guage of the Revelator signifies that slaughter of the Jewish nation, the the Christian Church was completely bloody victories of Antoninus on the triumphant over its Heathen adversaDanube, and the horrible cruelties ries, and that a new temporal order of of Commodus, followed by the mur- things had taken place, which it did, ders of the emperors Pertinax and when the emperors Galerius, Maxi. Julianus.
min, and Licinus, made a public proVer. 5, 6. The third seal is from the fession of their guilt, recalled their South, and introduces the Severian fa. decrees, and acknowledged the dimily from Africa. Equally well is the vine judgments in their chastisement.
Whilst man with universal concord blest Written, but not sent, to Dr. Priestley, Shall clasp each friend and brother to his
breast, on his Address to the Jews.
Idolatry no longer boast her fame, O Thou, whose pious hand with just dis
One God in heaven, One on earth his dain Hath freed Religion from its servile chain, Ilath taught the soul with purer aim to
He who walks in Virtue's way,
Flow'rs of peace beneath bim grow, O could she speak her own emphatic Suns of pleasure brighten o'er him; tongue,
Mem’ry's joys behind him go,
Smiles of earth and heav'n attending ; praise. But now such tasks no longer Israel's Cradled in its quiet deep,
And at last to death descending. care, In exile doomed their tedious lives to
Calin as Summer's loveliest er'o,
He shall sleep the ballow'd sleep; Struggling to live unmindful of their fame,
Sleep, that is o'erwatch'd by hear'a. Their bread, alas! they seek, and not a Till that day of days shall come,
When th' archangel's trumpet bıcaking No patriot spark durst fire their humble Through the silence of the tomb, breast,
All its prisoners awaking; To see their oft-repeated wrongs rediest;
He shall hear the thund'ring blast, Th' Almighty fiat which pronounced their
Borst the chilling bands that bound him; doom,
To the tlarone of glory haste, Hath not in pity yet dispelled the gloom.
All heav'n's splendors op'ning round 'Till then, withheld from each ennobling
Teach us, 0 our God, to feel
Man is nought-is less than vought: E’en to the poor-vile stranger of the Thou, our God, art all in all.
land; Pointing to where their warmest wishes
Weak, imperfect creatures, we
In this vale of darkness dwell; tend, And ardent to promote the glorious end?
Yet presume to look to Thee, And canst thou, vers'd in nature and in
'Midst Thy light ineffable.
O forgive the praise that dares art, Thus kindly stoop and speak unto our
Seek Thy heav'n-exalted throne; heart!
Bless our off'rings, hear our pray'es,
Infinite and Holy One! Durst we, tben, venture on the ballowed
A. theme, And you not idolize nor we blaspheme? Then, Judab, were not all thy woes in vain, ON HEARING MR. ***** The bright reward might well o'erpay our
Go, favour'd youth, and to the sons of men, Then may we hope to see the nations join, The vast designs of Providence explains ; And with one voice. proclaim the One Go, and to all lois doubting children prove
Th’Alarighty Father's everlasting love;