Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

Patriarchs, (like the sun glorious in the hopes of the resurrection, like the moon bright even when to man's sight dark in death, and only waning to grow again,) travailing with desire of Christ's birth out of that nation, according to the promise; and in Christ's birth and ascension, in spite of the Dragon, or Devil, traces the fulfilment of the child's rapture to God's throne in the symbol : the Dragon's colour red being explained as that as of a murderer from the beginning; the third of stars swept by his tail, as the angels or men seduced by him ; and his seven heads and ten horns, as of the same significancy with the Beast's seven heads and ten horns, of which more presently.—Then the time changes. The Woman fleeing into the desert is the Church, made up or inclusive of the 144,000,' now in Christian not Jewish form : being forced by the Dragon's floodlike armies of persecution into mountains and deserts ; and upheld in her flight by the two wings of the two witnesses. The Dragon's fall from heaven, or interdiction from there appearing as before,” is explained as following Elias' three-and-a-half years of witnessing, and being the beginning of Antichrist. — Then as to the Beast Antichrist, his likeness to the leopard signified the variety of nations that would be in his kingdom ; his seven heads both Rome's seven hills, and also seven Roman Emperors ; viz. Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus, (which five had fallen at the time of the Apocalypse,) the sixth Domitian then reigning, the seventh Nerva, who was to continue but a short time, (for he reigned but one year and four months,) and the eighth Nero; who, as a Roman Emperor, might be said to have been one of (or with) the seven : 4

1 “Ecclesiam illam catholicam, ex quâ in novissimo tempore creditura sunt 144000 Heliæ."

2 " Ante oportet Eliam prædicare, et pacis tempora esse, et postea, consummatis 3) annis prædicationis Eliæ, jactari eum de cælo, ubi habuit potestatem ascendendi usque ad illud tempus, et angelos refugas universos.” So, I suppose, as described in Job i.

8 There seems here some confusion in the chronology. For as the Witnesses were to be the supporting wings of the woman, her three and a half years in the wilderness would need to be the three and a half of the Witnesses being alive. But Victorinus quotes in reference to the time, “Then let them that are in Judæa flee to the mountains : " a prophecy applicable to the times of the abomination of desolation being in the holy place; which abomination he explains afterward of Antichrist's establishment in Jerusalem : an event this not of the earlier, but the later three and a half years.

• Such seems Victorinus' meaning : “ Bestia de septem est, quoniam ante istos reges Nero regnavit."

The mystery

-of which Nero St. Paul spoke, when he said, of iniquity doth already work," for Nero was then reigning ; and who, having had its throat cut, and so had his head wounded to death, was to rise and reappear as Antichrist. - Victorinus notes his Jewish as well as Roman connection. He would appear both under a different name, and in a different character from before; professing before the Jews to be the Christ, with a view to gain them, and by them received as such ; (a king and a Christ worthy of them !) and whereas once most impure, now renouncing all desire of women, (so Dan. xi. 37 is explained,' and, instead of patronizing idolatry, now inculcating the religion of the circumcision.2–His number 666 is explained as some name of numerals in Greek to that amount; and two solutions offered, veiled in a corrupt text, yet not I think undecypherable : one, it may be, Victorinus' own, the other interpolated by a writer of later date.3_Of his ally the False Prophet, the two horns as a Lamb's signified his assuming the form of a just man : the fire from heaven, that which sorcerers seem to men's eyes even now to evoke; the Beast's image, a golden statue of Antichrist ; which image the false prophet would get placed in the temple at Jerusalem, and from which Satan will utter oracles.-.So will there be the abomination of desolation in the Holy Place : called the abomination, because God abominates the worship of idols instead of himself, and the introduction of heresy into Churches; the desolation, because many men, previously stable, will by these false signs and portents be turned from the faith.—As to the ten kings, Victorinus says that they would have already received royal power, when Antichrist should either have

| Noted by me p. 15), suprà. ? The reader should mark Victorinus' view of Antichrist's religious profession and character.

3 “ Numerus ejus sexcenti sexaginta sex. Cum attulerit ad literam Græcam hunc numerum explebit. AI. N. L. T. CCC. F. V. M. L. X. L. O. L. XX. CCC. I. III. EVN. LCC. N. V. III. P. CIX. K. XX O LXX. CC.”—The two words mea:t are, I think, Avtexos and revonpikos : of which the first is given also by Primasius, in the sense (says he) of honori contrarius, as if for atijos, or aevtipos: the other by Ambrosius Ansbertus, with reference to the Vandal persecutor of the fifth century, Genseric. The correspondence of these solutions with the text, slightly altered, will appear by separating the letters and their Greek numeral values, instead of intermixing them. Thus, SANT M Ο Σ

Γ Ε Ν Σ H р I K 1. {

Ο Σ 2. TIL CCC V XL LXX CC

III V L CC VIUC X XX LXX CC

E

[blocks in formation]

set out from the East Romewards, or from Rome Eastwards ;' that three of them would be eradicated by him, and the other seven become his subjects, and also the haters and burners of the harlot city, Rome.

The Commentary now hurries to a conclusion. Of the three angels of Apoc. xiv, flying in mid heaven, the first (the same as in Apoc. vii.) is Elias, anticipating Antichrist by his preaching; the other two, other prophets associated with him. The earth's harvest and vintage are signs of the nations to perish at Christ's coming : the blood shed to the extent of 1600 (= 4 + 400) stadia, bloodshed in all the four parts of the world. The seven vials are the same seven judgments before signified under the Trumpets; and poured out on the contumacious, after the Church's retirement from the scene into the wilderness.? Standing on the glassy sea signifies the promises of baptismal faith. The Woman sitting on many waters, and borne by the seven-headed ten-horned Beast, is the Babylon alike of the Apocalypse, Isaiah, and Ezekiel; viz. the city Rome seated on the Devil, as before explained : of Rome red with the blood of saints : her wickedness having been consummated by a Decree of the Senate, and extending to the prohibition of all preaching of the gospel in all nations. Then Christ (answering to him that was figured on the White Horse with his armies) will come and take the kingdom ; a kingdom extending from the river even to the world's end : the greater part of the earth being cleansed introductorily to it; the millennium itself not ending it. All souls will next, and finally, be called to judgment.4

1“ Decem reges accepisse regalem potestatem, cùm ille moverit ab oriente, aut mittitur ab urbe Româ cum exercitibus suis.” A passage indicating thoughtful consideration of a difficult subject.

? “ Dicit quæ in ultimo futura sunt, cum ecclesia de medio exierit.” 3 « Vidi, inquit, mulierem ebriam de sanguine sanctorum. Decreto Senatûs illius consummantur nequitiæ.” A curious passage needing illustration. In Diocletian's time what was the Roman Senale's part in the decrees of persecution against Christians ? Probably Victorinus may have referred to the earlier Roman Emperors' custom of having their acts formally authorized by the Senate ; which generally was of course a mere form. So Tillemont, ii. 160, of the reign of Aurelius Antoninus. “C'etoil le style ordinaire des Empereurs de faire presque tout par l'autorite du Senat; et ce corps, soit par bassesse, soit pour se conserver cette ombre de son ancien pouvoir, ne manquait jamais d'ordonner tout ce que les Empereurs vouloient faire."

* Here is the anti-premillennial addition. As ten is the number of the decalogue, says the interpolator, and 100 signifies the crown of virginity, therefore the millennary number, = 10 + 100, indicates a perfect man; who may be said (i. e. while in his earthly state) to reign with Christ, and to have the Devil bonnd within him, &c.

On the whole it will be seen that thus far the Apocalypse, though very fancifully explained in regard of many of its symbols, yet continued to be regarded by its expositors as mainly a prophecy of events, not without chronological succession and order : nor indeed without geographical or topographical distinctness ; at least on that one grand turning-point of the prophecy, the seat, the seven-hilled seat, of Antichrist.— The famous Origen had meanwhile lived and taught.' And, had he fulfilled his declared intention of giving the Christian world an Apocalyptic commentary,” we can scarcely doubt but that it would have been of a different character. His principle of anagogical 3 and spiritualizing exposition, (a principle not altogether to be exploded, but needing in its application to Scripture a cautious attention to the requirements of context, Scriptural analogy, and good sense, abundantly greater than Origen cared to use,)* could not but

· He died at Tyre, A. D. 253. in the 70th year of his age. 2 “ Omnia hæc exponere sigillatim de capitibus septem draconis (Apoc. xii. 3) non est temporis hujus : exponentur autem tempore suo in Revelatione Johannis."-In Matth. Tr. 30.— Elsewhere, as Eusebius tells us, H. E. vi. 25, he thus singularly notes the prophecy ; “ John wrote the Apocalypse ; being commanded to keep silence, and not write what the seven thunders uttered.” I suppose he had some anagogic solution of what he deemed an apparent contradiction.

avaywyn, a passing to a higher sense than the literal; i.e. to a more spiritual sense. * Scripture, like man, said Origen, has a body, soul, and spirit :- viz. the literal sense, useful to those who preceded the Christians, i.e. the ancient Israel; the internal sense (intra literam) to Christians; and the shadowing forth of heavenly things, to saints arrived in heaven. This he remarks on ev. vi. 25, about the sin-offering. - Elsewhere he speaks of the historic sense, the moral, and the mystical.

He carried his inclination to the anagogical so far, as to depreciate, and sometimes even nullify, the literal and historic sense. He often says that the literal sense is “ 'proculcandum et contemnendum.”—So 1. of things typical, as the sin-offering, Lev. yi. 25; “ Hæc omnia, nisi alio sensu accipias quàm linea texta ostendit, sicut sæpe diximus, obstaculum majus Christianæ religioni quàm ædificationem præstabunt.”—2. Of historic statements : as in Hom. vi. on Genesis : " What the edification of reading that Abraham lied to Abimelech, and betrayed his wife's chastity ? Let Jews believe it; and any others that, like them, prefer the letter to the spirit.Also in the Mosaic history of the creation ; the statement of there having been three days without sun, moon, or stars, being pronounced by him impossible: as also that of the devil leading Christ to a high mountain, &c.—3. of precepts : e. g. that which says, “If a man smite thee on the one cheek, turn to him the other.”

Now it is evident that St. Paul himself has authorized the ascription of an anagogical or spiritual sense, as well as the literal, to the types of the law. They were shadows of things to come, And to certain facts of Old Testament history he has also ascribed an allegorical, as well as literal sense. So in the allegory of Sarah and Isaac, Hagar and Ishmael.-- But surely in historical narratives to allegorize beyond what Scripture itself teaches, is unsafe ; and to allegorize away a scripturally-asserted

3

have been largely applied by him to the Apocalyptic prophecy: especially as one involving allusions to Babylon, Israel, Jerusalem ; terms always, according to him, to be construed anagogically in Scripture. But this commentary he in effect did not write : and it remained for others to apply his principles to Apocalyptic exposition in a later æra.

§ 2. FROM CONSTANTINE TO THE COMPLETION OF THE FALL OF THE

ROMAN EMPIRE.

Lactantius, in his famous work on the Divine Institutions, formed a connecting link between the Constantinian æra, or that of the establishment of Christianity in the Roman empire, and the one which preceded it: the work having been nearly all written before the end of the Diocletian persecution, but dedicated to Constantine in one of the closing Chapters.' His sketch of the ending of the great mundane drama involved necessarily even Apocalyptic notices. Of these the following are the chief; partly mixed up however with ideas derived from both the prophecies of Daniel, and others of mere human origin.

He states then, that the first grand preliminary to the consummation was the breaking-up of the Roman empire : an event to be hastened by the multiplication of emperors ruling it, with civil wars consequent, till at length ten kings should arise : whereupon an enemy from the extreme North should come against them, over

historic fact (whether from judging it to be unedifying or impossible) most unjustifiable.

With regard to prophecy he lays down this rule : “ Whenever the prophets bare prophesied any thing of Jerusalem or Judea, of Israel or Jacob, then this (agreeably with St. Paul's own teaching) is to be referred anagogically to the heavenly Jerusalem, Judæa, and Israel : also what is said of Egypt, Babylon, Tyre: cum sint in cælo loci terrenis istis cognomines, ac locorum istorum incolæ, animæ scilicet.” Thus his general rule of prophetic interpretation is sufficiently manifest.

I have thought it well to abstract the above from a chapter in the Abbè Huet's Origeniana ; as there occurs so much of Origen's anagoge in subsequent Apocalyptic interpretation.

After chapter 27 of the last Book of the Institutes : “Sed omnia jam sanctissime Imperator figmenta sopita sunt, ex quo te Deus summus ad restituendum justitiæ domicilium excitavit."

9 “ Tum repente adversus eos hostis potentissimus ab extremis finibus plagæ septentorinalis orietur : qui, tribus ex numero deletis qui tunc Asiam obtinebunt, assumetur

« ÎnapoiContinuați »