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(xix. 10), where an angel (one of those who pour out the vials, xvii. 1) being in like manner solicited to accept worship, doth in the same terms refuse it : “ I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus.”
The construction of the original is exactly the same here as in the other place. Now, of the angels who poured out the vials, whereof this angel was one, we have a very particular description in the xvth chapter, where, in the sixth verse, they are represented as coming out of the holy place of the temple in heaven, in the raiment of priests, with the girdle as it would seem of high priests, to signify that they are of the church of the first-born ones, or perhaps that they are both kings and priests, being of the order of Melchizedec. But be this as it may, both their dress and the place from which they issue forth declare them to be priests; and if so, then belong they to the church of redeemed men, to whom this dignity appertaineth (Rev. i. 6); and to whom alone it doth appertain of all the creatures of God, as we shall shew, when we come to treat of the several ascriptions of praise, and loyal attestations of fealty, presented to the Lamb, in the fifth chapter of this book. For there it belongeth only to the four beasts, and twentyfour elders, to take to themselves the honour of royal priesthood, as to them only to speak concerning the book, in respect to which the angels and other creatures are entirely dumb. Now it can be shewn, I think, beyond a question, that these four living creatures, and four-andtwenty elders, are the church in heaven.-So much have I to say in this Introductory Lecture concerning the angel whe intervenes between Christ and the apostle John. The subject will often come before us in this exposition; and we may, in one word, anticipate the conclusion, which is, that every act of Christ towards his church on earth, every movement of our King in his mediatorial kingdom, is brought to us through means of the church now in glory: who have thus the ministry of the most holy place, into which the High Priest is entered, and are the cherubim there, as we have the ministry of the holy place without the veil ; and between these two is constituted the completeness of the temple of his body. This is the idea out
of which the Papists fabricated, upon the anvil and with the tools of hell, their abomination of saints' mediation, intercession, and worship; and with which we Protestants are too little familiar, in our abhorrence of that abuse, as, indeed, we are too little familiar with every thing which concerneth the church.
4. The fourth and last thing which comes to be considered under this head of authority, or authorship, is the person to whom the angel made it known. This is the last link in the chain of communication : first, God; second, Christ; third, His angel; fourth, John. And the question is, who is this John? He thus describeth himself: “ His servant John, who bare record of the Word of God (he witnessed the Logos of God), and the testimony (witness) of Jesus Christ, and all things that (whatever things) he saw.” If there be a John who witnessed the Logos of God, and the witness of Jesus Christ, and things which he himself saw, that is the man. And who is this but John the apostle, the beloved disciple, whose Gospel is wholly taken up with the witness of the Logos, or Word of God, and with the witness which Jesus Christ gave concerning God, and with the things of which he was an eye-witness ? If, in a few words, the character of John's Gospel, and of his Epistles, were given fully and truly, these were the words by which the Spirit here identifies him. The introduction to his Gospel, contained in the first fourteen verses of it, is to declare that the WORD concerning whom the Jews and Gentiles both believed, or at least speculated, that he was a subsistence in the Godhead, was the person who was generated flesh, and tabernacled amongst men; and was named Jesus of Nazareth, and anointed the Christ of God. And the Gospel thus introduced with the testimony of the WORD, he thus concludeth with the testimony of Jesus CHRIST (xx. 31): These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name." The same character have his First and Second Epistles, of which it may be further said, that they do maintain against various evil spirits which were gone abroad, that Jesus is the Word of God, the only Christ, the Son of God; condemning all who refused the same, as Antichrist. Take all these peculiarities of his writings together, and it will, I think, appear, that John's distinction among the Apostles was to bear record of the Word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. I incline to believe, therefore, that the second verse of the Revelation is introduced, on express purpose to give us the personal identity of the writer, and to cut off all disputes which might arise on such a head. And it is a most important object which it serveth ; because there grew up in the church, towards the fifth and sixth centuries, a doubt whether this book was written by the Apostle John or by another : and that doubt has been clothed with much shew and subtlety of learning, and exhibited to the Christian church in those times in one of those abominable Magazines, miscalled Religious, which do more harm to the church than any thing else; and, if not promptly resisted, will, I think, subvert the church altogether. There is not the shadow of evidence for such a doubt. The universal testimony of the first three centuries gives the book to John the Apostle. Nevertheless, the pure love of doubting, combined with the desire of casting discredit upon the interpreters of prophecy, has stirred some of those who affect great orthodoxy, and still more good sense and dictatorial wisdom, to rake up the ashes of the question long forgotten and laid at rest ; driven on by Satan, in order to discredit this holy book and us the interpreters, and to lull the people into such a sleep of indifference as they have fallen into themselves, and so make them a more easy prey to the evil spirits of the times. To confound, as I conceive, all such insidious attempts of the wicked, this second verse gives the identity of John, proving him to be the same who bare record of the Word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, in the Gospel and the Epistles. And while we thus assert for John this prerogative among all the Apostles, we do not derogate from the unity of the doctrine which they taught, but only vindicate for hinı that special honour to which this beloved disciple was advanced of Christ. He leaned on his bosom, and he was honoured above all the rest to record the most precious things which fell from his lips : and being thus faithful unto his Lord, he was preferred from all the church to receive this new communication, and to convey it unto the churches.
I know not well how it hath happened that the above simple interpretation, and most important application of this second verse, hath escaped the notice of commentators: but to me it is not only manifest that the true intention of it is to identify the Apocalyptic seer with the Evangelical witness, but likewise that the common interpretation, which makes it a simple assertion of his faithfulness, cannot stand. It may satisfy the last of the three clauses, “whatever things he saw," and I have no objection that this clause be referred to the things in this Apocalypse, but the two former clauses cannot thus be satisfied. For though it be true that the witness of Jesus is the spirit of (the) prophecy, yet is not this the proper title of the book, which is, in the preceding verse, called “ the discovery, or manifestation, of Jesus Christ.” And though it be not unusual in rhetorical writings to change the name in successive clauses, for the sake of illustration, it is little so in Scripture: and, therefore, the expression, “ witness of Jesus Christ,” cannot with any propriety designate the contents of this book, but must signify either what Jesus Christ, the faithful Witness, witnessed of God, or what John himself witnessed concerning Jesus Christ. I think that the same remark is applicable with still more force to the expression, “ the Word of God,” which in this book is applied exclusively to the Person of Christ (Rev. xix. 13); and never to the subject-matter, or substance of the book, which are often called the words of this prophecy,” but never “ the word of God," although in our common way of speech they be thus designated, as also are all the Scriptures.-But, lest any one should fail to see the same force as I do in these remarks, I may mention, that for the first two centuries, it was certainly received in the church, that no other was the author of this book but John the Evangelist. In the third century it was by some, rashly and without the slightest ground, ascribed to Cerinthus, an early heretic, who made much abuse of the doctrine of the Millennium here inculcated; on which account, some of his ignorant and rash opponents fell upon the pitiful and wicked expedient of ascribing the book to him, thinking thereby the
easier to rid themselves of his errors. Of this same rash spirit Luther shewed an example, in rejecting the Epistle of James, and not translating the Apocalypse in the first edition of his German Bible; of both of which acts, however, he came to repent. But if the common consent of all antiquity is to overturn the heady rashness of well-meaning but inconsiderate men of evil name; then have we the most satisfactory evidence that this book was written by John the Apostle, and believed by the church to be most fully inspired. Justin Martyr, Irenæus, Tertullian, Clemens Alexandrinus, Origen, Jerome, St. Augustine, and a continued stream of orthodox authority to our day, from the age next to that in which it was written, concur in the reception, the admiration, and the observance of this book. · These things I would not have mentioned, but for the base attempt of a critic, in these our days, to bring it into discredit under the guise of upholding its credibility, by a vain parade of learning, calculated to mislead the multitude into a greater indifference to that book, which God hath by so many weighty promises and solemn adjurations pressed upon the attention of all his servants. Methinks these are not times, when the church is gasping in the last stage of the consumption of her faith, to attempt to take away from her that little portion of the necessaries of life which is still left. This insidious attack, not upon the interpreters, but upon the book, not upon the credibility of the interpretations, but upon the credibility of the book, hath met a prompt and sufficient reply in Vaughan's Expectations of the Church, to which it is not necessary that I should add any thing.
But to me, the book doth contain, in that second verse, a sufficient testimony to the author, declaring him to be the same who witnessed the Word of God, and the witness of Jesus Christ. It is not necessary to the completeness of this evidence, that the question, whether the Gospel or the Apocalypse was written first, should receive a solution in favour of the Gospel; or, indeed, should receive any solution at all. For it is to be believed, that the substance of the Gospel was the subject matter of the Apostle's preaching and teaching amongst the churches of Asia, where he is believed to have had his residence before his banishment to Patmos. So, when inditing this book,