« ElőzőTovább »
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1848, by THoMAs w HITTEM or E, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
sTEREotyped By GE OR GE A. C U R T IS; NEW ENGLAND TYPE AND STEREOTYPE FOUNDRY.
THE Apocalypse has generally been regarded as a very dark and difficult book. This opinion has been so prevalent that it has been thought a mark of wisdom not to attempt to explain it. One author says, “Calvin was wise, because he wrote not on the Apocalypse.” That the work is more difficult for us to understand than it was for those to whom it was originally addressed, we have no doubt. It was to them probably a work of deep interest, of profitable contemplation, and a source of high hope. They had means of understanding it which we do not, and cannot, have. But because we have not all their advantages, shall we not attempt to understand it at all? What made the book so dark to Calvin, Graserus, Whitby, and others ? Perhaps they looked at it under peculiar disadvantages. For our part, we are willing to confess, that if a man believes the Apocalypse was not written until after the destruction of Jerusalem, and if he believes in the common notions concerning the day of God's wrath, the judgment of the dead, the great dragon, the bottomless pit, &c., &c., he cannot understand the book. He will be continually hampered by his pre-conceived system ; and, in harmony with such a system, no probable interpretation can be given. Although
Professor Stuart has produced an excellent work upon the Apocalypse, – the most consistent and valuable, we think, of a we have ever seen, – yet he was manifestly troubled and warp in his judgment in interpreting certain parts by his theologic system, or creed, especially his belief in endless misery, and t popular notions of a future judgment. The devotion to cree, has done more to prevent the Apocalypse from being fitly inte. preted than any other cause. It has produced the most extrava gant and perverted views of it; and the variety and enormity o these views have led thousands to conclude that the work i. altogether inscrutable to human wisdom. But is this book absolutely dark, so that it is impossible for us to get at the meaning at all ? Is it impossible to do anything to throw light on the chaos ? We think not. If anything can be done, ought we not to do it? Those preachers who seek to create excitement and alarm — who operate upon the fears of the weak and uninstructed— do not fail to resort to this book. Its sublime metaphors and allegories, when misapplied, furnish them with rich subjects. Why should not a counter effort be made to explain it 2 Let us apply the principles of sound criticism to the interpretation, and we may do something towards bringing out | the true sense of the book. Let us gain what light we can now, | and wait for the advancing day to bring us more. With these feelings we have entered upon the effort before us. y It is proper here to state, that the first form in which this commentary appeared was in detached articles in a weekly | religious paper, conducted by the author. For many years after
Apocalypse. When we glanced at it, as we occasionally did, it
seemed an utter confusion of metaphors — Alps rising on Alps —
without order, without design, and defying the power of man to
interpret it. Whether divine or not, we were persuaded nobody could understand it. But as our attention was drawn more and more to it, in consequence of its repeated use by those who opposed the doctrine of the restitution of all things, we began to see here and there (as we thought) glimpses of its meaning. The first true thought that struck us, and that was many years ago, was this—that the account of the judgment of the “dead small and great,” in the conclusion of the 20th chapter, must have its reference to things that transpired before the kingdom of God came with power, because the immediately succeeding passage described the descent of the New Jerusalem, and the establishment of the Messiah's kingdom in the world; — this fact gained, formed a basis for others. The next point was brought to our attention by reading an English publication, viz., that the scene described in the 20th chapter is laid on the earth; for the angel mentioned in the first verse came down from heaven to earth, having the key of the bottomless pit, and a great chain in his hand, and therefore the bottomless pit was painted in the scene as being on the earth, or why should the angel have brought the key He laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent which is the devil and Satan, (the four terms evidently signifying the same thing,) whom he seems to have found on the earth, and bound him, and, without carrying him away anywhere else, cast him
into the bottomless pit. It was the power with which these facts struck our mind, that led us to write the commentary on the chapter referred to, which was published in our religious journal many years ago. It is now two years since we were called again to explain the 20th chapter of the book. In obedience to that request, we republished our former article on the subject, much enlarged. This sharpened our desire for a more careful perusal of the whole book, and we resolved to begin at the commencement of it, and publish our views as far as we could see the meaning. We begun this plan without any design of republishing in book form; but as we proceeded we were more and more encouraged, and grew more and more interested, until we arrived at the end. Our experience in some respects was like that of
Dr. Hammond, which we have described in the commentary
under Rev. i. 1. The articles, as they appeared in our religious journal, were |
written under many disadvantages. The author had been suffer
ing for some time under a nervous debility, produced at first by too great mental action, and irritated exceedingly by other causes.
He strongly suspected, in the summer of 1846, that the end of his
earthly career was at hand; but he still toiled on, believing he
! was engaged in a good work. In the belief that death was near, | }
he reviewed the labors of his public life; and although he saw many imperfections in what he had done, he had not a doubt that the doctrines he had defended were the doctrines of the Bible. It was a great satisfaction to him to reflect that he had labored twenty-five years in turning men from darkness to light—from
the errors of superstition to worthy views of God and his moral