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§ 1. EXAMINATION OF BOSSUET's, OR CHIEF ROMAN CATHOLIC

PRÆTERIST APOCALYPTIC SCHEME.

And here at the outset Bossuet's vague generalizing views of the five first Seals meet us; as if really little more than the preliminary introduction on the scene of the chief dramatis persona, or agents, afterwards to appear in action ; viz. Christ the conqueror, War, Famine, Pestilence, and Christian Martyrs : followed in the 6th by a preliminary representation, still as general, of the impending double, or rather treble catastrophe, that would involve Christ's enemies; whether Jews, Romans, or those that would be destroyed at the last day. A view this that even Bossuet's most ardent disciples will, I am sure, admit to be one not worth detaining us even a moment: seeing that, from its professedly generalizing character, the whole figuration might just as well be explained by Protestants with reference to the overthrow of one kind of enemy, as by Romanists of another.—Nor indeed is there anything more distinctive in his Trumpets : with which, however, he tells us, there is to begin the particular development of events. For, having settled that the Israelitish Tribes mentioned in Apoc. vii, mean the Jews literally, and so furnish indication that they are parties concerned in what follows in the figurations, (though the Temple, all the while prominent in vision, is both in the 5th Seal before, and in the figuration of the Witnesses' afterwards, construed by Bossuet, not of the literal Jewish Temple, but of the Christian Church,) he coops up these Jews and all that is to be developed respecting them, within the four first Trumpets ;—the hailstorm of Trumpet 1 being Trajan's victory over them; the burning mountain of Trumpet 2, Adrian's victories : (why the one or the other, or the one more than the other, does not appear :) the falling star of Trumpet 3 figuring their false prophet Barchochebas, “ Son of a Star,” who stirred up the Jews to war ; of course however before the war with Adrian, signified in the preceding vision, not after it : and the obscuration of the third part of sun, moon, and stars, in Trumpet 4, indicating not any national catastrophe or extinction, but

See generally, in illustration of the ensuing Criticism, my sketch of Bossuet's Apocalyptic Interpretation, beginning p. 458 suprà.

the partial obscuration of the scriptural light before enjoyed by the Jews, through Akiba's Rabbinic School then instituted, and the publication of the Talmud. As if forsooth the light of Scripture had shone full upon them previously: and not been long before quenched by their own unbelief; even as St. Paul tells us that the veil was upon their hearts. Did Bossuet really believe in the absurdity that he has thus given us for an Apocalyptic explanation ?—In concluding however at this point with the Jews, and turning to Rome Pagan as the subject of the following symbolizations, he acts at any rate as a reasonable man ; giving this very sufficient reason for the transition, that they who were to suffer under the plagues of the 5th and 6th Trumpets are marked in Apoc. ix. 20 as idol-worshippers, which certainly the Jews were not. A palpable distinctive this which, but for stubborn fact contradicting our supposition, one might surely have supposed that no interpreter of the same, or of any

other Apocalyptic School, would have had the hardihood even to attempt to set aside.

So, passing now to the heathen Romans, with reference to their history in the times following on Barchochebas and the Talmud, the scorpion-locusts of Trumpet 5 are made by our Expositor to mean poisonous Judaizing heresies which then infected the Christian Church : (“ Was it not a piece of waggery" in Bossuet, exclaims Moses Stuart,? so to explain it ?) Trumpet 6, somewhat better, the loosing of the Euphratean Persians under Sapor, that defeated and took prisoner the Emperor Valerian ; though it is to be remarked that Valerian was the aggressor in the war, not Sapor, and his defeat in Mesopotamia, some way beyond the Euphrates.-All which of course offers no more pretensions to real evidence than what went before : indeed its total want of any thing like even the semblance of evidence makes it wearisome to notice it. Yet it is by no means unimportant with reference to the point in hand; for it shows even to demonstration the utter impossibility of making anything of the Seals and Trumpets on Bossuet's Scheme. Let us then hasten to what both he and his disciples consider to constitute the real strength of his Apocalyptic Exposition : viz. his interpretation of the Beast from the abyss, with its seven heads and ten horns, and of the Woman

See my notice of this point, in the critical examination of the German Præterists under the next head.

2 Vol. i. p. 467.

nesses.

riding on it; as symbolizations respectively of the Pagan Roman Emperors, and Pagan Rome.

The notices of this Beast occur successively in Apoc. xi, xiii, and xvii. First in Apoc. xi the Beast is mentioned passingly and anticipatively, as the Beast from the abyss, the slayer of Christ's two wit

Next, in Apoc. xiii, it appears figured on the scene as the Dragon's successor, bearing seven heads and ten horns; (one head excised with the sword, but healed :) another but two-horned Beast accompanying it, as its associate and minister; and its name and number declared further to be 666. Once more, in Apoc. xvii it appears with a Woman declared to be Rome, riding on it; and sundry mysteries about its seven heads and ten horns are then explained.

Now then for Bossuet's explanation. This Beast, says he, is the Roman Pagan Empire, at the time of the great Diocletian persecution; its seven heads being the seven Emperors engaged in that persecution, or in the Licinian persecution, its speedy sequel : viz. first Diocletian, Galerius, Maximian, Constantius ; then, Maxentius, Maximin, and Licinius. Of which seven five had fallenat the time of the vision : “ one was,” viz. Maximin; another shad not yet come,” viz. Licinius : and the eighth, “which was of the seven," was Maximian resuming the Emperorship after he had abdicated. As to the name and number it was Diocles Augustus ; which in Latin gives precisely the number 666. Further, the revived Beast of Apoc. xiii, revived after the fatal sword-wound of the head that was," figured the Emperor Julian ; and the second Beast, with two lamblike horns, the Pagan Platonic priests of the time, that supported him : the time of whose reign, forty-two months, was simply a term of time borrowed from the duration of the reign of the persecutor Antiochus Epiphanes ; signifying that it would, like his, have fixed limits, and be short.-With regard to the ten horns that gave

their power to the Beast, these signified the Gothic neighbouring powers; which for awhile ministered to Imperial Rome, by furnishing soldiers and joining alliance : but which were soon destined to tear and desolate the Woman Rome; as they did in the great Gothic invasions, beginning with Alaric, ending with Totilas. At the time of which last Gothic ravager, Rome's desolation answered strikingly to the picture of desolated Babylon in Apoc. xviii.-As to the Woman riding the Beast, the very fact of her being called a harlot, not an adulteress, shewed that it must mean heathen, not Christian Rome.

Such is in brief Bossuet's explanation. Now as regards both the first Beast, and the second Beast, and the Woman too, let it be marked how utterly it fails ; and this is not in one particular only, but in multitudes.

Thus as to the first Beast.–1. The seven heads, he says, were the seven persecutors of the Diocletian era. But the Emperor Severus, the colleague of Galerius and his co-persecutor, as Bossuet admits, is arbitrarily omitted by him, in order not to exceed the seven. 2. The Beast from the abyss, being the Beast that kills the Witnesses, is made in Apoc. xi to be the Empire under Diocletian : but in Apoc. xvii the Beast from the abyss (and the distinctive article precludes the idea of two such Beasts) is explained of a head that was to come after the head that then was ; this latter being Maximin ; himself posterior to Diocletian. 3. The head that was wounded with the sword being, according to Bossuet, the sixth head that was, or Maximin, its healing ought to have been in the next head in order, that is Licinius. But this not suiting, he oversteps Licinius ; and explains the healed head of one much later, Julian. 4. The Beast with the healed head being Julian, the subject of the description in Apoc. xiii, the Beast's name and number ought of course to be the name and number of Julian. But no solution suitable to this striking him, Bossuet makes it Diocles Augustus ; the name of the Beast under a head long previous. 5. As to this name Diocles Augustus, it is not only in Latin numerals, which on every account are objectionable, and which no patristic expositor ever thought of:1 but, in point of fact, it is a conjunction of two such titles as never co-existed ; Diocletian being never called Diocles when Emperor, i. e. when Augustus.? 6. The Beast “ that was, and is not, and is to go into perdition,” being “the eighth, yet one of the seven," Bossuet makes to be Maximian resuming the Empire after his abdication. But the prophetic statement requires that this eighth should rise up after that “which was,”

See Vol. iii. p. 208, Note ? ; and compare the Greek patristic explanations of the Beast's name and number given at pp. 322, 342, 346, 355, 360, suprà. --The earliest Latin solution that I remember to have seen is that of Dic Lux, by Albertus Magnus in the xiiith Century. See p. 404 suprà.

So Rasche on Diocletianus: “Donec imperium sumeret Diocles appellatus : ubi orbis Romani potentiam cepit Græcum nomen in Romanum morem convertit, dictusqne est Diocletianus.” Even after his abdication he still retained the latter name. Ibid.

viz. Maximin : whereas Maximian's resumption of the empire was before Maximin.-7. As to the idea of Julian's hatred of, and disfavour to Christianity, answering to what is said in Apoc. xiii of the Beast under his revived head making war on the saints, and conquering them, it seems almost too absurd to notice. In proof I need only refer to Julian's own tolerating Decree about Christians ;' and the behaviour of Bossuet's saints, i. e. of the professing Christians of the time, at Antioch towards Julian.2-8. The contrast of the Beast's reign of 37 years, with Diocletian's of 10 years, and Julian's of 1į, might be also strongly argued from : but I pass it over cursorily; as Bossuet confesses to have no explanation to offer of it, except that it is an allusion to the duration of the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes !3

So as to the Beast's heads : and still a similar incongruity strikes one about the Beast's horns. Take but two points. First, these horns, " having received no kingdom as yet,” i. e. at the time of the Revelation, were to receive authority as kings μιαν ώραν μετα το θηριο, at one time with the Beast.So the doubtless true reading, and true rendering, as Bossuet allows. But how then applicable to the kings of the ten Gothic kingdoms?-kingdoms founded long subsequent to both Diocletian and Julian ; and after the Roman empire under their headships, (which is Bossuet's Beast,) had become a thing of the past. To solve the difficulty, Bossuet waves the magician's rod; and, without a word of warning, suddenly makes the Beast to mean something quite different from what it was before : viz. to be the

'Ουδενα γουν αυτων ακοντα προς βωμους εωμεν έλκεσθαι. It was almost an Edict of toleration. So Gieseler, Second Period, 8 76 (Vol. i. p. 184): “He took away the privileges of Christians," (i. e. privileges granted them by former Emperors above Pagans,) “and forbade their teaching publicly in the schools; but otherwise he promised to leave them unmolested.” Bossuet indeed (on Apoc. xiii. 5) very much allows this. “ Du temps de Julien il n'y eut aucune interruption dans le service public de l'Eglise :" adding however ; “ Au reste il n'y a rien eu de plus dur à l'Eglise que les insultes de Julien ;”&c.-Gieseler thus represents the worst that Julian did. “ Afterwards he was guilty of some acts of injustice towards the Christians ; too often provoked by their unseasonable zeal: they suffered most however from the heathen governors and populace.” But how little to their destruction or subjugation see in the next Note.

2 « At Antioch he endured the scoffs of the Christian populace with philosophical indifference.” Gieseler, ibid.--See too the account in Gibbon; who however on subjects connected with Christianity is always to be read with caution.

3 See p. 492, suprà.

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