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EVIDENCE FROM THB BOOK OF THE REVELATION.
Divine authority of the Revelation.-1. The greatest blessings attributed
to Christ, as their Author.-II. Ascriptions of honour to Christ.-Reasons for regarding those ascriptions as expressing a proper adoration. Objections of Dr. Carpenter and the Calm Inquirer.-III. Divine supremacy and efficiency attributed to Christ. IV. Various properties and acts affirmed of Christ wbieh imply divine perfections. i. Dominion over the minds and moral condition of men. ii. Penetration of the thoughts and real characters of men.-Objections of the Calm Inquirer. iii. Agency of Christ in his churcbes. iv. Supremacy over the created universe. v. Perfection of power and wisdom. vi. Being the cause of heavenly happiness. vii. Unfolding of futurity.
As a general recourse against all argument in favour of the pre-existence and Deity of Christ, from this book, the Calm Inquirer has provided himself with the assertion, which he repeatedly introduces : “ That the authenticity of the book is doubtful : no doctrine therefore is to be ad-mitted upon this evidence, which is not clearly to be proved from other undisputed scriptures.”* If the assertion were granted, I cannot think that this is the most logical conclusion from it. Instead of sitting down in this careless scepticism, our duty would be to set vigorously about the
* Page 371, 183, 270.
investigation of the matter, in order to arrive at a rational satisfaction on one side or the other.
It is, however, unnecessary for us now to enter into the evidence of the authenticity and divine authority of the Book of the Revelation. Wellknown and easily accessible authors have advanced arguments which must, I humbly think, satisfy any candid inquirer that there are good reasons to acquiesce in the affirmative sentiment.* For our present purpose, it will be a sufficient means of removing the bar which is attempted to be put against our reasonings, to cite the declarations of Sir Isaac Newton and Dr. Priestley. The former, after adducing the testimonies of Papias, Justin Martyr, Melito, Irenæus, Theophilus of Antioch, Tertullian, Clemens of Alexandria, Origen, Hippolytus, and Victorinus of Poitou : goes on to say, “I do not indeed find any other book of the New Testament so strongly attested or commented upon so early, as this. The prophecy said, “ Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear, the words of this prophecy, and keep the things which are written therein.' This animated the first Christians to study it so much, till the difficulty made them remit, and comment more upon the other books of the New Testament. This was the state of the Apocalypse, till the thousand
* In particular, Lardner's Credib. vol. iv. p. 683—732. Supplem. vol. iii. p. 355—366. Woodhouse's Dissertation, &c. on the Apocalypse. Horne's Introd, N. T. vol. ii. p. 647-659.
being misunderstood, brought a prejudice against it: and Dionysius of Alexandria, noting how it abounded with barbarisms, that is with Hebraisms, promoted that prejudice so far as to cause many Greeks in the fourth century to doubt of the book. But whilst the Latins, and a great part of the Greeks, always retained the Apocalypse, and the rest doubted only out of prejudice, it makes nothing against its authority.”*
“ Indeed,” says Dr. Priestley, “ I think it impossible for any intelligent and candid person to peruse it without being struck in the most foreible manner with the peculiar dignity and sublimity of its composition, superior to that of any other writing whatever : so as to be convinced that, considering the age in which it appeared, none but a person divinely inspired could have written it. Also, the numerous marks of genuine piety that occur through the whole of this work, will preclude the idea of imposition, in any person acquainted with human nature.
Besides, notwithstanding the obscurity of many parts of this book, enough is sufficiently clear; and the correspondence of the prophecy with the events, so striking, as of itself to prove its divine origin.”+
We proceed, therefore, to the consideration of passages in this book, which have a relation to the great subject of our inquiry.
* Observations on Daniel and the Apocalypse, p. 249. † Notes on Seript. vol. iv. p. 573, 574.
I. In the salutation, prefixed according to the apostolic custom, we find the Messiah represented as equally with the Father, the Origin and Author of spiritual blessings; the greatest good, be it ever observed, that a creature can receive from the fulness of divine benignity and power.
“ Grace be unto you, and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come; and from the Seven Spirits which are before his throne ; and from Jesus Christ, the Faithful Witness, the First-born from the dead, and the Sovereign of the kings of the earth.”*
Every one must perceive that devout wishes for blessings which are appropriated to the Deity to bestow, are indirect prayers. Such are the ancient forms of salutation, the vestiges of which still subsist in many languages: and such, especially, is the apostolic formula at the commencement of most of the Epistles; and that which occurs at the close of nearly all of them, as well as at the end of the Apocalypse : “ The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all the saints ?".
't The Calm Inquirer's remarks on this subject are a striking instance of incorrect reasoning. He
Chap. i. 4, 5. ☆ Chap. xxii. 21. See Griesbach.
“ Wishes and prayers are very far from being terms of the same import. A wish is merely the expression of desire, Prayer is that expression addressed to one who is supposed to be present, and able to accomplish it. And if this person, though not sensibly, is believed to be really present, prayer is an act of religious worship. To wish may be innocent and proper in some cases in which prayer would be unreasonable and idolatrous.
overlooks, or notices very slightly, the point on which the whole question turns, the nature of the blessings sought, and the qualities which they imply in the Person as whose donation they are deliberately desired. These blessings are not of that kind which one creature is competent to bestow
upon another. They refer to the judicial state of an accountable being before God, to the remission of moral offences, to the production and preservation of certain mental qualities which none can efficaciously and immediately give but he who holds the dominion of human minds and feelings, and to the enjoyments of supreme and endless felicity. They are Grace, Mercy, and Peace : Grace'; the free favour of the Eternal Majesty to those who have forfeited every
claim to it, such favour as is in its own nature and in the contemplation of the supplicant, the sole and effective cause of deliverance from the greatest evils and acquisition of the greatest good : Mercy; the compassion of infinite goodness, conferring its richest bestowments of holiness and happiness on the ruined, miserable, and helpless : Peace; the tranquil and delightful feeling which results from the rational hope of possessing these enjoyments. These are the
may innocently wish that a person in power may grant an office to a friend, to ask for which, if the person were present, might or might not be proper according to circumstances; but to pray to him for it when he is absent, with an expectation that he will hear and grant the request, would be downright idolatry." Page 375.