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ages, that the Apocalypse was seen near the close of Domitian's reign, i. e., about A. D. 95, for Domitian died in September of 96.” When such a report originated is not known, though f Irenaeus seems to have been the first who recorded it. The testimony of Epiphanius places the date of the Apocalypse in the reign of Claudius; but he is not thought to be good authority, except by Hammond, who states several reasons why he is to be relied on. Again, there are fragments of history which fix the date in the time of Nero ; and these are strengthened by the declaration on the title-page of the Syriac version, that the Apocalypse was written during the reign of Nero Caesar. The result is that no great dependence can be placed upon the historical testimony. There are sound modern critics both on the one side and the other. Among those who suppose the book was written previously to the destruction of Jerusalem, may be mentioned Grotius, Lightfoot, Hammond, Sir Isaac Newton, Bp. Newton, Wetstein, and Prof. Stuart of Andover, —an array of talent that is sufficient to give to any opinion great weight. But the safer way, after all, whereby to determine the question before us, is by the help of the internal evidence.
III. – INTERNAL EVIDENCE.
The single question which we shall seek to settle now is, Was the Apocalypse written before the destruction of Jerusalem 2
1. Let it be observed that it was addressed to the seven churches in Asia. We are not sure that these churches only were addressed. They may have been used symbolically for the churches at large, seven being separated as a sample of the whole, for the same reason that John speaks of the seven spirits, the seven lamps of fire, seven seals, seven angels, seven trumpets, seven thunders, &c. &c. But however this may be, it seems evident that the churches addressed were regarded as being on the eve of great dangers, as though a crisis in their affairs was very near.
Some of them are represented as having begun to grow cold, to waver, to faint; and they are exhorted to steadfastness and renewed exertions, that they might overcome all opposition, and have their names inscribed in the temple of God, the New Jerusalem. See chaps. ii. and iii. at large. Now, is not this almost precisely the form of address, exhortation, and warning, adopted by the apostles to other churches, in regard to the coming of Christ and the attending judgments 2 Is there any hint, in the address to the seven churches, that the judgment had taken place? Does not the revelator look forward to the judgment 2 Had the destruction of Jerusalem already taken place when he addressed the churches, – that terrible event, which was a time of trouble such as there had not been from the beginning of the world to that time, no, nor ever shall be, – can we suppose he would have passed it by without drawing some warning from it, or passed it by without any reference whatsoever ? But the special point to be observed, under this head of our subject, is, that the style of address to the churches of Asia does not differ greatly from that of the epistles of Paul and Peter. The revelator urges the church at Ephesus to labor to overcome their enemies, – to sustain themselves well in the midst of persecutions; and Paul surely urges the same thing in substance on the same church. He exhorted them to be “strong in the Lord and the power of his might;" to “put on the whole armor of God,” &c. &c.; because they were obliged to wrestle, not against flesh and blood, but principalities and powers, &c. Here is such a state of this church recognized by both writers as would lead us to think the two addresses were written not far from the same time. It is alleged by some writers that no such falling away had taken place in the seven churches of Asia, before the destruction of Jerusalem, as is described by the revelator. But does not St. Paul assure the Thessalonians, that the coming of Christ should not take place, except there came a falling away first 2 and that the man of sin, the son of perdition, should be fully revealed before that event? This would lead us to think that the apostasy in the churches did take place before Jerusalem was destroyed. Paul says also to Timothy, that in the last days [viz., the last days of the Jewish dispensation] perilous times should come, men should be filled with self-love, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, &c. Here he was describing the apostasy of Christians, because he adds that such had “a form of godliness, but denied the power thereof,” and exhorts the faithful to turn away from them. Why, then, should it be denied, that the churches of Asia had not been visited with signs of coldness before the destruction of Jerusalem ż Were they not as likely to be carried away as the churches addressed by Paul and Peter 2 That the churches had begun to falter under the weight of persecutions before the destruction of Jerusalem, is further evident from the words of the Epistle to the Hebrews: “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering, (for he is faithful that promised,) and let us consider one another, to provoke unto love, and good works: not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. For if we sin wilfully, after that we have received the knowledge of the truth,” &c., &c.; Heb. x. 23–26; also, 38, 39. Precisely the same state of the churches is described in the 2d Epistle of Peter with that described in the Apocalypse. It is such, it would almost seem, that these two books were written about the same time; and the same remark may be made in regard to the brief epistle of Jude. St. Peter speaks at large of the falling away which was to precede the destruction of Jerusalem; 2d Pet. ii., iii. Peter accuses the churches of pride, presumption, adultery, and following the way of Balaam; and these are precisely the sins charged upon them by the revelator. The church at Laodicea is charged with being proud and presumptuous. She said, “I am rich and increased in goods, and have need of nothing;” but, says the revelator, “Thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked;” iii. 17. As to the sin of adultery, the revelator accused the church at Thyatira of consorting with Jezebel, who taught God's servants to offend; and the malediction was, “I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds;” ii. 22. As to following the way of Balaam, mentioned by Peter, the comparison with the revelator's reference to that circumstance is peculiarly striking: “I have a few things against thee, because thou hast them there that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication;” ii. 14. We may therefore safely conclude, that if the 2d Epistle of Peter was written before the destruction of Jerusalem, the churches were in the precise state at that time in which the revelator describes them. And there is still another point of resemblance; the revelator exhorts the churches to stand firm against persecutions, and not to be overcome by the temptations and trials in which they were involved. “He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death ;” ii. 11. See also 17, 26–28; iii. 5, 12, 21; in all which places the advantages of overcoming in the spiritual conflict in which the churches were engaged are set forth. To the same subject refers St. Peter. Speaking of the faltering and falling of the Christians, he said: “Of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought into bondage. For if, aster they have escaped the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them;” 2 Pet. ii. 19—21.
2. Let us turn now to another point. All the signs which our
Lord said would precede the destruction of Jerusalem are men
tioned in the Apocalypse; but, as we should expect, they are mentioned in the style of that book. These were wars, famines,
: pestilences, earthquakes, fearful sights, persecutions of Christians,
and preaching the gospel everywhere; to which may be added the coming in of false teachers and the apostasy of some lukewarm professors, two points which have been already noticed. Let us look at the other points as noticed in the Apocalypse. War. “And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the
second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another
horse, that was red; and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another; and there was given unto him a great sword.” Famine. “And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo, a black horse : and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.” This is evidently a description of famine, when it became necessary to weigh out the common articles of food with great exactness, and the wages of a man would scarcely buy bread enough for himself alone. Pestilence. “And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold, a pale horse, (the sign of weakness and fainting,) and his name that sat on him was Death, and hell (or destruction) followed with him,” and he had more than all the power of the rest. Thus, in a few verses taken consecutively, we find a description, in the style of the Apocalypse, of wars, pestilence, and famine,—all of which had been foretold by our Lord as preceding
the destruction of Jerusalem. As to earthquakes, how frequently do we read of them in the