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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.
2 “ 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 Senate'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 qne 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 bound 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,2 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,)4 could not but
He died at Tyre, A. D. 253. in the 70th year of his age. 3 “ 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.
3 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 Lev. 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
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
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 excitayit."
? “ Tum repente adversus eos hostis potentissimus ab extremis finibus plagæ septentorinalis orietur : qui, tribus ex numero deletis qui tunc Asiam obtinebunt, assumetur throw the three most easterly of the ten, be received and submitted to by the rest as their head, change the name and seat of the empire, and by his cruelties introduce a time of grievous calamity, especially to persecuted Christians ; portents on earth and in the sky accompanying, and plagues such as once in Egypt;l—then, the consummation drawing on, that a great prophet would be sent by God, with power of working miracles, shutting up heaven, (like Elias,) turning water into blood, and by fire from his mouth killing such as would injure him; by whose preaching and miracles many would be turned to God : which done, that another king would rise from Syria, born of an evil spirit ; and, after destroying that former evil one, (the king from the North ?) conquer and kill God's prophets, whose corpse, left unburied, would on the third day be reanimated, and rapt before the enemies' eyes to heaven :-that the king his murderer would be a prophet too, but a prophet of lies; and with the miraculous power of evoking fire from heaven, arresting the sun in its course, and making an image speak : whereby he would make multitudes of adherents; branding them like cattle with his mark, and requiring worship from them as God and the Son of God: for that this would be in fact the AntiCHRIST ; falsely claiming to be Christ, but fighting against the real Christ, and persecuting unto the death his saints; that the fated time of his domination would be forty-two months ; at the end of which time, the saints having fled in a last extremity to the mountains, the heaven would be opened for their deliverance ; 4 and Christ himself intervene to save them, and destroy this Antichrist and his allied kings. After which that the in societatem à cæteris, ac princeps omnium constituetur.--Hic insustentabili dominatione vexabit orbem . . . denique immutato nomine, atque imperii sede translatâ, confusio humani generis consequetur." vii. 16.-A singular view ! derived in part, I presume from Dan. xi. 40–43; the three kings destroyed being those of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Lybia.
1 The (Roman) world being then, says he, to the people of God, what Egypt was to God's ancient people Israel, vii. 16.—So on Apoc. xi. 7, “ the city which spiritually is called Egypt."
3 “ Peractisque operibus ipsius," i. e. the works of God's prophet, (agreeably with the Apocalyptic declaration, When they shall have completed their testimony,) “alter rex orietur ex Syrià, malo Spiritu genitus, qui reliquias illius prioris mali, cùm ipso, simul deleat.” Ib. xvii.- Is there in this an illusion to Daniel's, “ But tidings out of the east shall trouble him ;" i.e. the king of the north ? Dan. xi. 43. 3 “ Hic est qui appellatur Antichristus : sed se ipse Christum mentietur.”
* So A poc, xix.
saints, raised from the grave, would reign with Christ through the world's seventh Chiliad ; a period to commence, it would seem, in about 200 years ;' the Lord alone being thenceforth worshipped on a renovated world ; its still living inhabitants multiplying incalculably in a state of terrestrial felicity; and the resurrection saints, during this commencement of an eternal kingdom, in a nature like the angelic, reigning over them.?
The great Constantinian revolution, accomplished (as I before observed) just after Lactantius' publication of his 'Institutions, could hardly fail of exercising a considerable influence on Apocalyptic interpretation. A revolution by which Christianity should be established in the prophetically-denounced Roman Empire, was an event the con. tingency of which had never occurred apparently to the previous exponents of Christian prophecy; and suggested the idea of a mode, time, and scene of the fulfilment of the promises of the latterday blessedness, that could scarcely have arisen before : its scene the earth in its present state, not the renovated earth after Christ's coming and the conflagration ; its time that of the present dispensation ; its mode by the earthly establishment of the earthly Church visible. (It occurred not that this might in fact be one of the chief necessary preparations, through Satan's craft, to the establishment after a while of the great predicted antichristian ecclesiastical empire, on the platform of the same Roman world.) Thus Eusebius, as we saw long since, applied to this great event both Isaiah's promises of the latter day, and also (though with more of doubt) the Apocalyptic prophecy of the New Jerusalem :4 at the same time that the symbolic vision of the seven-headed dragon of Apoc. xii, cast down from heaven, was with real exegetic correctness (as I conceive) applied to the dejection of Paganism, and the Pagan emperors, from their former supremacy in the Roman world.5—But to carry out such views
Noted by me, Vol. i. p. 372. 9 Mark the distinction between the two classes. “Tunc qui erunt in corporibus vivi non morientur, sed per eosdem mille annos infinitam multitudinem generabunt: qui autem ab inferis suscitabuntur, ii præerunt viventibus, velut judices." Ib. 24. And in ch. 6 preceding : “ Ut similes angelis facti summo Patri serviamus, et simus æternum Deo regnum." 3 Vol. i. p. 231.
- See ib. Note 5 See Vol. iii. p. 24, Note* ; and p. 25. notes ', ?. This view of the vision we shall