Изображения страниц

in this respect, has come over Britain. The age of Macknight and Campbell has passed away; and with the exception of a few able and interesting writers on religious subjects generally, we have almost none, who inay be said to occupy with distinction the higher fields of Theology. Where have we a Biblical Critic like Moses Stuart, a writer on Systematic Theology like Schliermacher, a Church Historian like Neander, or a Critical Expositor like Olshausen or Hengstenberg? In all our Universities, we have scarcely a name that may be, deemed distinguished, or that will go down to posterity-as associated with Theology and its kindred studies.

The present work of Dr. Hengstenberg we regard as an invaluable addition to our Theological Treasury. To the exposition of no book of Scripture has there been brought, in any age of the Church, so great an amount of mind,-of piety and of learning, as to that of the Book of Revelation. From the days of Origen and Irenæus downwards, the attempt has been earnestly made to unlock its sacred mysteries. We have the Preterites, with their exposition of past fulfilment, and the Futurites with their fulfilment to come. We have a Bengel with his cumbrous commentary, and Dr. Cumming with his Exeter Hall Lectures. The names of all the writers on the Book of Revelation would fill a volume in themselves. The ablest that has appeared in this country, is, without exception, Elliot. Still he cannot be said to have exhausted the subject; and for ourselves, our opinion is, that there is much in this mystic book, which must ever remain sealed, and of which God himself, by his providence, must and will be the interpreter. We therefore object to too dogmatic an interpretation of its mysterious contents. Nothing can be more dangerous to religion, or more displeasing, we would say, to God. We believe that it was designed by the Divine Author of this Book, that many of its awful utterances should remain sealed, till the fulness of the time come, and he himself shall reveal them—that the Church may be kept in that prayerful and waiting state, which is so earnestly and frequently enjoined upon her in the Gospel by her Incarnate Head, and by the Apostles in the epistles. The system, then, of dogmatically affixing dates, and pointing out both events and persons, which has been, of late, so common and so reckless, we decidedly condemn. When these are so marked that there is no mistaking them—for instance, as to Popery, or such, in regarding which, by patient investigation, and divine help, a clear conclusion is arrived at, and about which there is neither doubt nor dispute,-then it is manifestly both a Christian duty and a Christian privilege freely to embrace and firmly to maintain such Apocalyptic interpretations; but, where the opposite of this is the case, we repeat that the wisest, as well as the safest course, is to leave the interpretation to the course of Divine Providence-humbly, but unfalteringly, believing that all will be fulfilled, and that, too, to the very letter-that "he who shutteth and no man openeth, and openeth and no man shutteth," 66 on whose shoulder is

the key of David," will, himself, unlock each sealed vision, both as regards the Church and the world-and reveal its contents in the hearing and the sight of an admiring universe. What copious learning, able

and acute criticism, and pious toil, could do to the elucidation of the holy mysteries contained in this portion of the inspired Record, has been done in the volume under review; and, without agreeing to all the author's positions, we may safely say that, as a whole, his work is an invaluable one, especially to the student of Scripture. It is, without doubt, the best Exposition of the Book of Revelation that has yet appeared, and we hope the enterprising publishers will speedily give to the public the second volume. What we admire about it is this, if we may be allowed the expression-its learned simplicity. We have no tortuous argumentation-far-fetched invention-and laborious struggling to make the prediction and its supposed fulfilment coalesce. Everything is simple, natural, and explicit. You have, in every case, given you authorities and facts, and you are to take the author's conclusion or not, as you choose. We have, also, much condensed into the shortest compass. We have here the writing of ages, as well as the authorship of the present age, compressed into two volumes,-which is certainly no small recommendation. We in no wise exaggerate when we say, that no minister ought to attempt the exposition of the Book of Revelation, without consulting Dr. Hengstenberg's work; and to the ministry of the Church of Scotland, and all ministers, we recommend it, as the best critical and expository work that we know of on the subject. The transla tor has done his part with much personal credit. He translates literally, which we vastly prefer to taking license with the original. When the translation is not literal, you have no safety whatever. The translator becomes the author, and a miserable one he oftimes makes. This was very much the case with the first translations from the German, at the beginning of the present century; and the works of Goethe, Schiller, Jean Paul Richter, and others, were sadly mangled-and were certainly "done into English" with a vengeance. Mr. Fairbairn wisely avoids taking the slightest liberty with the original, and gives you word for word. In this, both for himself and his reader, as well as for his author, he has done right. The following are specimens of the style of this very valuable work :

"Having thus obtained the result that the Revelation was written under Domitian, it will not be difficult to determine more exactly the period to which it should be referred within this circle, even apart from the tradition, which, according to Irenæus, ascribes it to the closing of Domitian's reign. Heathen writers (see besides those already quoted, Juvenal, Sat. iv., v. 153) agree in this, that the bloody persecution of the Christians, in the midst of which the Revelation was written, was soon followed by the death of Domitian. Accordingly, and in conformity, also, with the statement of Brutius, in Eusebius, and in the Chronicon Paschale, under the fourteenth year of Domitian, that many Christians suffered martyrdom during that year, the Revelation must have been composed shortly before the death of Domitian. There can be no doubt that it was only this event which put a stop to the persecution of the Christians, although Tertullian and Hegesippus maintain the contrary, and represent Domitian as himself putting a stop to all his persecuting measures. The mild treatment which Domitian gave to the re

latives of Jesus, and which rests on good historical authority, furnished the occasion for this representation, as, in Eusebius, it appears only as a report attached to the latter. It looks, from the first, very unlike Domitian that he should have come to a better mind; and the closing of the persecution suits much better to Nerva, who is called by Martial soft and good-natured, and who endeavoured to rectify everything that Domitian had put wrong. It was Nerva, who, according to Dio Cassius, set all at liberty that had been accused of high treason, who recalled such as had been banished, and ordered that no further accusations of this kind should be received. It was Nerva, who, according to Pliny, adopted the most stringent measures against the delators. According also to Tacitus and Philostratus, it was the death of Domitian which first put an end to his fury. And not till the tyrant had gone, did John effect his return from the isle of Patmos to Ephesus, as we learn from Clemens of Alexandria, and Eusebius, in his Church History, (B. iii. 22, 23.)

"That the Apocalypse could not have been written so early as the time of Galba, is evident from the absence of any even the most cursory reference to the fall of Jerusalem, as an event nigh at hand. Unquestionably any reference to this event did not properly enter into the plan of the author; its starting point is a frightful rise of the hostile power of heathenism, its theme-the triumph of Christianity over heathenism. But, since the fall of Jerusalem occupies so prominent a place in the prophecies of our Lord regarding the future development of his kingdom, which form in a manner the text on which John comments-since, also, it was precisely in the time of Galba that the fate of Jerusalem was preparing for its accomplishment, it would have been unnatural had the author of the Apocalypse made no reference whatever to it. We should, then, rather have expected him to do so, when, even in the apostles, we see how constantly respect is had to the existing heathen oppression, which had then come further into the foreground, but which did not exclude some incidental reference to the subordinate Jewish persecution, See what is intimated respecting the humiliations that were to overtake the Jewish persecutors, in chap. iii. 9, where, however, not a single word occurs respecting the fall of Jerusalem, which could scarcely have been the case if that crushing catastrophe had still been future. Further, since the prophet applies the names of Jerusalem and Zion to the Church, it would have been very natural, had the outward Jerusalem and Zion still existed in their former dignity, to have given some indication that their pretensions were soon to be laid in the dust. That these names should have been simpliciter applied to the Church, that the latter, also, should be represented without the slightest explanation as the temple, (chap. xi. 1), is most easily explained if there was but one thing to which the terms now could refer. To the same conclusion points also the analogy of Ezekiel, who received the vision of the new temple and the new city, in the fourteenth year after the destruction of the old ones. See ch. xi. 1."

On the slaying of the two witnesses we have him thus writing, chap. xi. 7:

"The indifference is remarkable with which the words and shall overcome them' are here uttered. But it is explained by what precedes and what follows. They shall only be overcome when they have finished their testimony, when God has no further need for their service, when their death can produce more fruit than their life. And, on their overthrow and their death follows their glorification, and springs out of it. They die, only to rise again and go to heaven. Their overthrow is but a concealed victory, like the corn of wheat, which dies in the earth, in order to bring forth much fruit. If this were considered aright, how would it banish fear, which makes so many in our day inclined to timid concessions, which smites the shepherds, and causes the sheep to be scattered! To escape imaginary dangers, these persons fall into real ones. For only one danger is really to be feared, namely, that our heart be overcome, that faith, which is the innermost life of our souls, should be slain. What is said here of the witnesses of Christ was exemplified in Christ himself. The world hated him, and yet the enemies could accomplish nothing against him till their hour came, and the power of darkness. Then only did the darkness receive power when he had finished his testimony, and when it was good for the Church that he should go away; and his death was followed by his resurrection and ascension to heaven, as it is represented here, in verses 11, 12, in respect to the true witnesses. In all circumstances God has still his glory, and if it should appear that the evil gains the mastery over the good, the evil is still very limited; it cannot break forth sooner than its time, nor rise higher and last longer than God permits it. Begin but rightly with God, and the result shall not fail. The beast, that ascends out of the abyss, (compare chap. ix. 1,) is mentioned here incidentally and by anticipation. The more extended description is given us by the Seer in the fourth group; the three enemies of God's kingdom, chap. xii.-xiv.; and in the sixth, the judgment on the three enemies, chap. xvii.-xx. That it should be brought into notice here, plainly shews that we have not in the Revelation, as Bengel thought, a regular progressive anticipatory history. The beast denotes the ungodly heathen state. By it here is meant the reviving of the ungodly heathen power, at the close of the thousand years' reign, and the whole of the ungodly power is here denoted by the most prominent part, which the Seer had already before him in his own day. The brutal character of the ungodly power, which he denotes by this expression, discovers itself more and more manifestly in the present age. Bengel says, 'These are his excellent instruments, and when they shall have accomplished their task so stedfastly, such is the recompence they receive for it from the world; they are to find tribulation, pain, mockery, and death; so that these are not bad marks.' No, assuredly not in a Church, whose Lord has been crucified, and who has said, 'If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of the household! They shall cast you out of the synagogue. Nay, the time shall come, when he that killeth you shall think that he doeth God service.""


The Queen has been pleased to present the Rev. Thomas Leishman, to the Church and Parish of Collace, in the Presbytery and County of Perth, vacant by the Death of the Rev. John Rogers, late Minister thereof.

Presentation to Ceres.-We under stand that the Earl of Glasgow has intimated to the Rev. Mr. Reid of Kettle, Moderator of the Presbytery, his intention to present the Rev. Mr. Brown, Assistant at Kilwinning, to this living, vacant by the lamented death of Mr. Cook. Mr. Brown is the same individual who was within these few weeks elected to the pastoral charge of St. Mary's, Dumfries.

Presentation to the Abbey Parish of Paisley. We are happy to be enabled to state, that a presentation to the first charge of the Abbey Parish of Paisley has arrived from the Marquis of Abercorn, in favour of the Rev. Dr. M'Leod of Morven.

Induction at Tranent.-The Presbytery of Haddington met at Tranent, on Thursday the 15th inst., for the induction of the Rev. Wm. Caesar of St. Bernard's Edinburgh, to the pastoral charge of that Church and Parish, vacant by the demise of the Rev. Robert Stewart. The Rev. Alex. Graham of Morham presided on the occasion. A numerous and respectable congregation assembled. Mr. Caesar was introduced to his flock next Sabbath, by the Rev Dr. Paul, of St. Cuthberts.

Induction. The Presbytery of Alford met at Towie on the 20th inst., and inducted the Rev. W. A. Smith, late of Chapelshade, Dundee, to the Parish of Towie, vacant by the death of the Rev. Dr. Lindsay.

Induction.-The Presbytery of Selkirk met in the Parish Church of Kirkhope, (Ettrick Bridge) on Tuesday, for

[blocks in formation]

Moderator of the General Assembly.— We are authorized to state that the Rev. Dr. L. W. Forbes, Minister of Boharm, in the Presbytery of Abernethy, will be proposed as Moderator of the next General Assembly.

Chapelshade Church, Dundee.-On Monday the congregation of this Church gave a unanimous call to the Rev. John M'Kenzie, Auld-Earn, to be their Minister, in room of the Rev. W. A. Smith.

Death of the Rev. George Addison, D.D.-We regret to record the death of Dr. Addison, one of the most amiable and scholarly divines of the Church of Scotland, which occurred on Sabbath the 4th inst. The Rev. Doctor had attained the remarkable age of eightytwo, and for the last thirty-four years of his life laboured with much accep tance in the neighbouring parishes of Liff and Benvie.

Parish of Spynie.-The Rev. Alexander Simpson, Minister of this Parish, died at Covesea, on Wednesday the 14th inst. in the sixty-fifth year of his age, and twenty-sixth of his ministry. He was much respected by his brethren for the integrity of his conduct, the amiability of his disposition, and the fervour of his piety.

Death. At Collace Manse, on the 27th ult., the Rev. John Rogers, Minister of Collace, in the 88th year of his age, and the 52d of his ministry.

Died at Contin, on the 11th instant, the Rev. Charles Downie, Minister of the Parish. The right of appointing a successor belongs to the Crown.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »