« PreviousContinue »
DISSERTATIo N. &c.
Is the following Pogos I propose to review the evidence which has been adduced, for the authenticity and divine inspiration of the Apocalypse; to add thereto Some collections of my OWn; and occasionally to remark on those obserVations of Michaelis", which tend to invalidate it.
This evidence divides itself into external and internal. The external is, that which is derived from Credible Witnesses, from the early writers and fathers of the church. The internal is, that which results from a Perusal of the book.
seems to have approached it with prejudice;
the weight of its internal evidence. The two species of evidence, external and internal, should be kept apart; they should not be suffered to incorporate or interfere; each should be considered at first with reference to itself only. After which separate examination, they may usefully and properly be brought together, and be allowed their due influence upon each other.
Such appears the proper method of proceeding in this inquiry, so as to lead to a fair and just conclusion. This method has not been usually pursued. The writers, who have presented us with the two kinds of evidence, have not kept them apart. When they treat, for instance, of the external evidence adduced by Dionysius of Alexandria; when they state how far it appears, from his writings, that he considered the Apocalypse as an inspired book, delivered down to his time as such by the early Fathers of the Church; they moreover produce, and under the same head, the criticisms of this writer on the style and manner of the book ; which consideration belongs to the subject of internal evidence.
In the following pages, it will be my endeavour to keep these two species of evidence apart, until they have been separately considered, and may safely be suffered to unite. This method, so far as it can be followed, will tend to prevent the operation of prejudice, and to facilitate the production of truth.
I shall proceed, first, to the consideration of the external evidence.
CHAP. CHAP. II.
OF THE TIME W H E N T H E APOCALYPS E A PPEAR S TO HAVE BE EN W R ITT EN AND PUBLISHED.
The external evidence, for the authenticity and divine inspiration of the Apocalypse, is to be collected from the testimonies of those ancient writers, who, living at a period near to its publication, appear, by thcir quotations or allusions, to have received it as a book of sacred Scripture. This was the test by which the primitive church was accustomed to determine the claims of all writings pretending to divine authority. All such writings were rejected, as appeared not to have becn received by the orthodox Christians of the preceding ages". But to enable us to judge of the force of this evidence, as affecting any particular book, it is necessary to ascertain the time when the book was written. For if it shall appear to have been written and published in the carly period of the apostolic age, we may expect to find testimonies concerning it, from apostles, or from
* Euseb. Hist, Eccl. lib. iii. c. 3.