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id est ecclesia.”l—I need not suggest the confusion of ideas, and in, coherence of interpretation, necessarily arising from this confused generalization, and identification in meaning, of the varied scenic imagery of the Apocalypse.
The Sealed Book, and the successive symbols of its six Seals, as opened, he explains almost precisely as Tichonius; with additional conceits however, arising out of his straining to find out yet further mysteries.2 Like him, besides noting devilish agencies as meant in the second, third, and fourth Seals, opposed to Christ and his Gospel, as figured in the first, he also includes Victorinus' solution of the bella, fames, pestis : and like him joins Victorinus in explaining the sixth Seal, both in general and in detail, of the last persecution,3 towards the end of the last age of the Church : the chronology here passing from the whole period of Christianity generally to its last epoch specially. By which persecution (a persecution I presume by Antichrist, though Antichrist is not indeed mentioned as its author) the world generally, Primasius supposes, is to be opprest.
Like Tichonius, again, he explains alike the 144,000+ and the palmbearing company to mean the whole Church of the elect; and interprets the four angels of the winds, (a point unnoticed by the former expositor,) to be the four winds spoken of by Daniel as striving on the agitated scene of the four great empires : also the Angel from the East as Christ at his first coming ; the stone being then cut out of the mountain, which was to smite the great image. The palmbearer's predicated happiness he does not, like Tichonius, confine to the Church in its present state ; but refers such particulars as, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes,” to the Church's future
" Ib. 301. * E. g. the fitness of a septenary to signify completeness and unity is illustrated by the seven modes of a verb in grammar, and the seven ages distinguishable in the inward and spiritual history of a spiritual man.
In the 4th Seal he thus accounts for the specification of the fourth part of the earth, as a scene of injury. The world is divided into two parts, one for God, one for the Devil ; and the latter subdivided into three, Pagans, heretics, and false orthodox professing Christians. Now it is the first of these four only, or true Church, that is the part assailed.
3“ Sexta ætas mundi, circà cujus finem novissima persecutio nunciatur.” He refers to Isaiah ii. 21, in illustration of the Church, and her Christian faith, being the world's refuge, under present suffering and future fears.
On the mysteries of the names of the twelve Jewish tribes, as applied to the Christian Church, Primasius has not less than three folio pages; from 305 to 308.
bliss.—The half-hour's silence he explains with his two predecessors of the beginning of the saints' eternal rest.
In the Trumpets he still follows Tichonius. Throughout the time of the Church's preaching voice, fulfilling the Angel's trumpet-blowings, there would be the destruction of the earthly-minded by God's wrath, the Devil's burning fury, and spread of false tradition and doctrine, obscuring the Church's light; by heretical teachers too and false prophets, with their venom-distilling scorpion tails : until under the sixth trumpet, or in the sixth age, the four winds, (and Devil too, as in Apoc. xx.) would be loosed from long partial confinement in the ruins of Babylon ; and with the force of eight myriads, or myriads of myriads, including the whole body of the wicked, would during the fated hour day month and year, or three years and a half, urge the last persecution.?
In the vision of the rainbow-crowned Angel of Apoc. x, Primasius combines Victorinus' and Tichonius' explanations. The opened book he makes the New Testament; the seven thunders the Church's preaching; the sealing a proper reservation of its truths from such as might abuse the communication : also John's charge to eat the book, and prophesy again, he explains as true both of John personally, by the publication of his Apocalypse and Gospel, so as Victorinus would have it, and of the Church always, as Tichonius,-Further, as to the two Apocalyptic Witnesses, their testifying included both the Church's witness, with the two Testaments, throughout the whole time of Christianity, in that mystical sense of forty-two months 3 which Tichonius prominently set forth ; 4 and also Elias' witness, in the literal first half of Daniel's hebdomad, so as Victorinus ; his death having to occur in the literal Jerusalem.
· I am not aware that any manuscript, or any Expositor but Primasius, exhibits the various reading, οκτω μυριάδες.
? Primasius thinks that the fire and sulphur out of the mystical horses' mouth may refer to hell punishments : Tichonius had explained them of the blasphemies uttered.
3 By construing the forty-two months and three and a half years literally, as well as mystically, and speaking of its having reference to the last persecution, (see p. 332,) Tichonius seems to have intended to mark the witnessing under Elias ; whom he makes the wings sustaining the woman of Apoc. xii in the last persecution. But he does not express it.
* The drought he makes spiritual ; also the killing by fire from the witnesses' mouths to be spiritual death, through the church's anathema.
5 During which, adds Primasius, the Jews are to believe on Jesus Christ. B.P.M. In the vision of the Woman and Dragon we still see Tichonius' track followed. It is the Church bringing forth Christ in his members, and the Devil wielding the supremacy of this world's dominion, and seeking to devour the new man. The wilderness where the woman is nourished is this world of her pilgrimage ; the two wings sustaining her, the two Testaments; the time, both all of the Christian dispensation generally, and specially the three years and a half of Antichrist. Again, as to the Beast of Apoc. xiii, it is the whole mass of the reprobate, making up the Devil's body; the last of its heads being Antichrist, under whom fully and specially the Devil will act out his purposes. Primasius, like others before and after him, strongly marks this Antichrist's affected imitation and personation of Christ. By the Image of the Beast, Primasius, like his precursor, seems to mean the mask of one personating Christ, under which mask the Devil is worshipped ; 2 and he gives for the name and number 666 of the Beast, the words
and 3 the former from Victorinus. The Vials he views with Tichonius as the same that were held by the twenty-four elders; for we are a savour of death unto death,” says he from Paul, “ in them that perish.” Under the sixth Vial he speaks of Christ as the king from the East, or sun-rising. In Apoc. xvii the Woman is the worldly, reprobate, or evil body, the desert in which she appears God's absence; (a striking sentiment !) 5 the ten horns of the Beast she rides on Daniel's ten kings just preceding Antichrist; the diadems seen before on them marking them out as then the alone reigning powers. The seven hills indicate Rome ; but Rome only as a type of the ruling power and dominion.
The Millennium Primasius expounds as Augustine and Tichonius the new heavens and earth, and the new Jerusalem, as a new world,
p. 315.—He does not specify any companions to Elias. Daniel's seventy weeks he supposes to refer to Christ's first coming mainly.
1“ Nunc publicè audeat blasphemare, quando dignitatem ei (Christo) specialiter debitam sibi ausus fuerit adsignare ; et contrarius Christo se velit pro eo accipiendum.'-Also of the second beast, his supporter; Agnum fingit ut agnum invadat." Ib. 319. And again, p. 326 : “ Contrarius Christo (quod et nomen ejus Antichristus indicat) se velit haberi Christo."
· The want of distinction between the two Beasts and the Dragon or Devil, continually appears. So of the second Beast. “ Bestia cum duo cornubus, quæ est pars Bestice, facit Bestiain adorare Bestiam." For aprovuar, I deny : as denying Christ.
4 So reading τη βασιλει, for τοις βασιλευσι. 6 " Desertum ponit Divinitatis absentiam, cujus præsentia paradisus est." Ib. 325.
so changed from the old, as may befit the saints in their new bodies ; i. e. after their own resurrection, and the condemnation of the wicked.
2. Ambrose Ansbert is my next Latin Expositor. He fixes his own æra to about A.D. 760 or 770. For he dedicates his Apocalyptic Commentary, at its commencement to Pope Stephen ; and at the end tells us that it was written in the time of Pope Paul, and of Desiderius, king of the Lombards. Now Desiderius was king of the Lombards from 756 to 774; in which year he was defeated, and the Lombard kingdom overthrown by Charlemagne. Also Pope Stephen III died in 757, Pope Paul in 767, Pope Stephen IV his successor in 772. He further tells us in his Postscript, that he was of Gaulic origin, and a monk of the monastery of St. Vincent in Samnium. Elsewhere he mentions that he had to write the comment with his own hands, the aid of a notary not being afforded him. The Commentary is a copious one, occupying some 250 folio pages in the Bibliotheca ; viz. from p. 403 to p. 657 of its xiith volume.
In his Comment, Ambrose Ansbert treads in the steps of Tichonius and Primasius so closely, that there is as little need as in the case of the African Bishop to give lengthened details. At the outset, he recognises John's representative character, -representative of the Church generally, of holy preachers particularly : also the principle of the Church (or at least its prelates 3) being figured in the twentyfour elders; and indeed in Christ himself too, as being his body. The seven-sealed Book he viewed with his predecessors as the Old and New Testament; the Old written without. An ominous notice of the seven different modes of expounding, viz. the historic, allegoric, mixt historic and allegoric, mystical, parabolic, that which discriminates between Christ's first and second coming, and that which “geminam præceptorum retinet qualitatem, id est vitæ agendæ vita
Trithemius strangely writes of his age ; “Claruit sub Arnoldo Imperatore, A. D. 890." Quoted B. P. M. xiii. 403.
3 “ Quia notariorum solatia deesse videntur, ea quæ dictavero manu propriâ exarare contendo."
3 “ Una quippe sedes est ; quia sive in prælatis sive in subditis singulariter Christus omnem ecclesiam præsidendo examinat." Ib. 431. I suppose the subditi are the subordinate clergy.
que figurandæ,”? is developed in some six folio pages preceding his exposition of the Seals. In which exposition of the Seals his chief difference from his predecessors, is in making the rider of the black horse, with a pair of balances, in the third seal, to mean the Devil and his followers deceitfully weighing the world against Christ, so as to cheat men with the idea of the world being the more valuable :2 also in the fourth seal, in making that death by which (conjunctively with three other instrumentalities) the Devil kills men's souls, to be heretical teachers. Further, it may be observable, that under the sixth seal he makes the rocks of refuge in the last great persecution, and under fears of the approaching day of judgment, to be "suffragia sanctorum;" that is, of departed saints and angels. For, says he, even in regard of the elect,” and “the good works that may have preceded,” yet necesse est ut semper ad cælestium civium confugiamus latibula ; id est Angelorum intercessionibus ab irâ Judicantis nos deprecemur liberari.” 3 So does the taint of angel and saint worship, then current, appear on the face of this Apocalyptic Exposition.
Proceeding to the Trumpets, he makes the preparatory half-hour's silence to be that of the Church's silent contemplation : and then, (first I believe of expositors) compares the seven Trumpet-soundings with those of Jubilee under the old law, and those sounded on the seven days' compassing of Jericho ;-Jericho the type in its fall of that of this world. Inconsistently with what he had said before of the need of the “suffrages of the saints,” he explains the Angel Priest with the incense-offering, just as Primasius or Tichonius, to be Christ our Mediator. In the second Trumpet, he makes the burning mountain to be Antichrist (not the Devil) burning with envy. Under the fifth, he supposes the specification of “ hair as the hair of
" Ib. 475. I think Ambrose Ansbert will be found sometimes as difficult of understanding by modern readers, as he tells us he found Primasius.
? " Quibus (malis) Principis sui affectus paratissimus servit ; cùm, staterem in manu tenens, temporalibus stipendiis quorumdam vitam mercari quærit, quæ illum suamque esuriem saturare queat." He adds Christ's saying, What shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?”—Ib. 483.
3 Ib. 487. * Ib. 497. He notices this with unusual brevity : “ Has certe Angelorum tubas illæ præsignabant quæ in Jubilæi usibus per Moysem factæ fuisse memorantur : quibus septem dierum circuitu clangentibus, in typum hujus sæculi, muri Jericho cecidisse narrantur."