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to swerve from their attachment to it. For even now, where their congregations do not all understand its language, they have it read aloud and then interpreted to them.
The New Testament was finished last for this edition, and yet this part was completed before Peter wrote his second letter, before John's latter two epistles were written, and even before Jude, its editor, wrote his short original letter.
No scholar who contends strongly for its having been translated from Greek, can produce the original from which it is said to have been made. Nor can he tell what became of it. Further, he can find no ancient author who says he had seen the Greek original which supplied the text of the Peshito. And, once again, we hold that none of the Greek critics can lay his hand upon one of the six hundred and seventy MSS. which have been collated to supply a Greek text for our revisers and say, “Here is a manuscript codex used in translating the Peshito." Well may it be so, when there never existed such a codex. It must be so, if not the preaching of the Gospel only, but its collected writings were given to “ the Jew first” as they must have been. It was Jesus who spake the words, “Behold I send you prophets, wise men and writers, and some of them ye shall kill and crucify, and some of them ye shall scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city; that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias the son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar."
To whom were these words spoken ? Not to Gentiles; they never were admitted between the temple and the altar. It is to the multitude at Jerusalem who had come to the Passover from every land of their dispersion, that Jesus Christ is speaking, Writers were to appear in time to test their character as well as preachers before their overthrow; but the war which ended in that overthrow began A.D. 66. By this time they ought to have had the writings before them. And so they had in the Peshito. But an edition suiting this prediction must have appeared too early for the Revelation, written A.D. 96. Nay, it would need to be out before 2nd Peter was written, which indicates that he had obtained a copy of “all Paul's letters and the other Scriptures." Does he not urge believers to be mindful both of the prophets' words and those of the apostles ? But as the former must be sought in their writings, does it not become a natural conclusion that the words of the latter must be so too ?
This is most reasonable when compared with 2 Peter i. 12, 15, where he is intent on securing copies of both his letters to be perused when he is dead. Why then is the first epistle in the Peshito and not the second epistle ? Simply because there was urgent reason to issue the Testament before he was moved to write the second letter. And that urgent reason, it seems to us, rose out of the great cause Sanhedrim versus Paul the Apostle of the
Gentiles, which lasted five or six years, and moved the whole Roman Empire.
Then must the story of Christ's life, death and resurrection be sent forth for perušal where preachers could not go. And especially must the Hebrews have the means of testing his claims by comparing the New Testament with the Old. Then such efforts had been made to damage Paul, even with Hebrew Christians, that the story of his labours and samples of his teaching accompanied by the writings of Peter, James and John were needed by the Hebrew believers to enable them to know his worth and appreciate his work. All this the Peshito would serve to accomplish among them, and then remain of permanent service. Now, this being so, we come upon the time of Jude's alleged activity in securing the edition in Syriac, so we may account for additional notes at the end of John, for these editors are inspired men; also for the “ Acts” being sent out with such a tantalizing conclusion. It could not wait to tell how Paul would fare at Rome when before the High Court.
A later document briefly notices his first appearance before the Cæsar; but Luke's history was earlier in the work and could not wait for the trial. Even the last two verses of Acts, like the two last of John, may be from the Editor's pen, for they reach two years later than the verse before them.
Now, so noble a Bible would suit Hebrews at Edessa and enable them to become confirmed in the faith of Christ and to learn what that faith involved as taught by Paul. Is there evidence that the written word bore marked fruit ? Scholars who hold the view that the Peshito was only a translation made by uninspired men, nevertheless state“ that the Syrian churches flourished most in the latter part of the first century, and in the earlier part of the second, and the Christians at Edessa had a temple for divine worship erected after the model of that at Jerusalem.” (T. H. Horne, Vol. II., Part 1. Ch. 3, § 3.)
At this point may we not see the budding forth of Hebrew interest in the native home of Abram ?
Who but Hebrew converts would choose to build a temple like “the holy and beautiful house now in ruins ? Gentile converts might not have cared for such a model, but Hebrew ones would, and their influence is here seen. Then how comes this temple to be built on the ground once occupied by Abram's family?' We read not of any other reproduction of the ruined temple in any other city or country except of that of Onias in Egypt long before, which never was cordially accepted by the Jews at large, nor by any of them until he had brought from the Word seeming support for its erection and use. Why, then, a Christian temple like the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, at Ur of the Chaldees, and not elsewhere ? Now admit that this place had become a favourite settlement of the exiled Hebrews, when the Gospel reached Edessa,
and that by the help of Jude's Bible, the Peshito, they had embraced Christianity, and that Abram became dear to all converts as taught by Paul, who found that they were all his children by faith, and then you only need security, and time, and money, and a good measure of enlightenment on their part, and the work can be done. Then even the Saracen or the Turk will spare the early home of Abram, and thus regard for it will be diffused all around. And when the Christian temple was destroyed by Ishmael's children even then the Bet Chalil Allah, or “house of the friend of God," would be protected from destruction.
NOTES ON THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST.
1.- INTRODUCTORY. THE THE Revelation given to St. John by Jesus Christ is contained in
a book so extraordinary and so unique that one may well be excused for taking the usual course with it, and that which seems to so many the best course, viz., to leave it alone altogether. Yet to the student of the Bible this is impossible. Independently of the remarkable statement in chapter i. verse 3: “Blessed is he that readeth and they that hear the words of this prophecy and keep those things that are written therein,” the book is one which has a marvellous interest, not to say fascination of its own. All Christians therefore are compelled, however unwillingly, to make themselves more or less acquainted with its contents, and to study it more or less attentively. It is, therefore, impossible for any of us not to take a deep interest in it and to endeavour to understand it.
Notwithstanding the innumerable works on the interpretation of the Apocalypse, and the attempts of so many in past ages to find out the meaning of its mysterious symbolism, we are continually impelled to fresh examination, to fresh search and to fresh study. That study, even if it do not lead to correct interpretation, is never useless, for it is found by experience that this is a Book which, to be understood at all, requires constant reference to the prophets and other writings of the Old Testament, as well as to many parts of the New. The images, at all events, are almost all taken from the Old Testament, and we are thus compelled to search ; and as we all know by experience in this, as in so many other things, much blessing is in the search itself, even if it do not lead to discovery. We are expressly told that if we wish to find wisdom we must search for it as silver and dig for it as for hidden treasures—and in this pursuit we must be zealous and laborious.
Now, inasmuch as truth will endure any amount of investigation, and indeed fearlessly courts the most searching inquiry, whatever conclusions one comes to, they will, if true, and so far as they are true, abide and remain ; while, if false, they are certain, sooner or
later, to disappear. If, therefore, among all the interpretations that I venture on in regard to this book, only some few sparks of real truth are elicited, my reward will be great.
In all, therefore, which follows, I do not presume for one instant to dogmatise, or to suppose that my interpretation is anything more than an attempt to solve this great and difficult problem. It is only, in fact, what appears to me at the present time to be the most likely explanation ; my object is to provoke inquiry and to promote discussion, as well as to try to interpret.
I, of course, assume the inspiration and the genuineness of the Book taken as a whole. There are, no doubt, à considerable number of various readings, but taken altogether they do not seem to amount to much, and moreover, in a revelation such as this, there is but little scope for individuality in the writer. He no doubt describes accurately what he saw; and in such a wonderful vision as this, there is little probability of the human element making itself perceptible. The whole of the scenery and of the imagery is sublime, so totally unlike anything else, that it speaks for itself and shines by its own light, and thus “the Spirit itself witnesseth with our spirit that it is from God.”
The grand object of this Book is undoubtedly to keep us in mind of the divine event to which all creation moves :"— The coming of the Lord. This grand hope is the key to the interpretation of the whole Book, and everything in it has a more or less direct reference to it.
There can be no doubt that the coming of the Lord was to all the early Christians the great object of hope and desire. In all their sufferings and their poverty this was the great Beacon Light, which not only consoled them, but showed them the right path to walk in. It irradiated all the events of their lives and was constantly in their thoughts. Unfortunately for Christendom this hope has been, comparatively speaking at all events, very little dwelt upon, and the result has been that instead of a life to be realised after the Lord's return, mankind have looked to a certain extent to this life also as the scene of the Lord's triumph. Wherever the coming of Christ is not the paramount object of hope to Christians it must inevitably follow that their thoughts are more or less worldly. Whether that worldliness takes the form of supposing that Christ's kingdom may be promoted by extending its influence in the kingdoms of this world, or by the supposition that the world is anything more than a place of education for anotherthe result at last must be the same-viz., forgetfulness of the fact that Christians are but strangers and pilgrims upon earth.
In all the Apostolic writings it is easy to gather what were the views of the leaders of the Christian Church in those early days. They evidently looked upon the then existing world as passing away—their hopes and their desires were not in it; but their citizenship in the truest sense was in the New Jerusalem, which
shall ultimately come down from God out of heaven. Taking then the Lord's coming as the key-note to the interpretation of the Apocalypse, we may safely, I think, draw some deductions from the book as to its general scope and character, and I think we may state that: Great as are the diversities of opinion, and many as are the interpretations of this book, there are one or two points on which very little difference of opinion can be said to exist. Two points more especially seem to come out clearly and distinctly, viz., first and chiefly, that all was not going on right with the Church of God; and, secondly, that so many and diverse events are alluded to as apparently to foreshadow that some considerable time, possibly a very long time, might elapse before the Restitution of all things. These two points are of the greatest possible importance and can scarcely be gainsaid by the extremest opponents of the ordinary views.
With regard to the first of these points, the book seems even at first sight to foreshadow apostasy within and persecution without the professing Church- and that before the time of the end she would have both to do and to suffer many things.
A third point, also, I think, comes out with even greater clearness and will, I am sure, be denied by none. It is that throughout all these events, whether apostasy or persecution were pretigured, there would be always a select faithful band of the followers of Christ. Lastly, there can be no doubt that the book shows that the ultimate end of all theso varying scenes and events would be the complete and triumphant establishment of the Redeemer's kingdom. Whether that kingdom was to be set up on the earth in its present state, or after the resurrection, is a point on which there may be diverse opinions, but of the establishment of the kingdom itself there can be no doubt.
These are certainly the chief points on which at all events the great majority of Christians are agreed; as to any others, when we come to examine them, we find at once the greatest possible differences of opinion on almost every single point. Some, for instance, believe that the whole prophecy is already fulfilled; some, that the events referred to in the book are still going on; others, that all is still in the future. These have been called, for distinctness' sake, the preterist, the continuous-historical, and the futurist view. Í may say at once that I have been led to take the second of theseviz., the continuous-historical view, and for the following reasons : First, because the vision is said to refer to “ things which must shortly come to pass.” Secondly, that there are many indications that prove that different portions refer to different periods of time, and that therefore there was a continuous history, as it were ; such, for instance, as the expression in chapter ix. 6:“And in those days shall men seek death,” &c. Thirdly, that it would have been of very little use to the Church had it not, more or less, alluded to the whole period between the giving of the prophecy and the coming of