Slike strani

mind. This circumstance greatly heightened our desire to know the nature of the light which this latest contribution to Apocalyptic literature, written by a man of "good sense,"'* one whose “ breadth of view" is "remarkable," whose “insight” is “striking,” and whose “exegesis ” is “sober,” | could throw upon the Revelation of St. John the Divine.

We have read the book, and can say that we understand well why so much high praise has been bestowed upon it. We found in it far more than we had anticipated, and derived from it much help, comfort and edification. In gratitude to the author we should say that we were not disappointed; but duty to ourselves, and duty to another great, but to the world unknown (as such), student of this portion of God's word compels us measurably to qualify our expression of thankfulness.

We have much to say in this connection. There is much in Mr. Smith's book that should be universally known, and we may add, much though now commonly ignored or denied, will some day be universally known. There is much in addition to what the author says, which many of the readers of the REVIEW will be willing to recall and think over with us.

The fitting place above all others, we know, for all this to be said is found in the colums of this periodical, owing to the peculiar relation it sustains to the unmentioned writer above referred to.

In order to present what we deem needful for our purpose in as compact a form as possible, the topical arrangement of our material has been adopted. We shall largely employ the language of others. The propriety of this will become obvious as we proceed. Naturally, of course, the reader will want to know

*“Mr. Smith presents his theory of the Apocalypse with so much modesty and with so much good sense that he cannot fail to win a reading.”Independent.

† “ His interpretation is historical and get it is broader than the historical. He is free from the offensive literalism of many commentators. He steers remarkably clear of the absurd mixture of literalism and symbolism that characterizes others. Altogether it is the most rational interpretation that has yet appeared. In fact, it ought to be an epochal book in the study of the Apocalypse. It is in the right road.

" It should be read by every one who is puzzled by the phenomena of the Book of Revelation or has never cared or dared to venture into the stormy sea of its interpretation. It is fascinating and what better to an unprejudiced mind, in the maia, convincing."--The Old and New Testament Student.




In the book we find no clue to his denominational relationship. It will not take the reader long to find out that he is nothing if not Protestant. He can hardly be an Episcopalian, unless one of the lowest of the low. We hear no great Presbyterian divine referred to, nor any favorite Presbyterian doctrine. He might be a Baptist, a Methodist or a Congregationalist. He is strictly orthodox, and evangelically so, in the modern, and commonly accepted sense of the word.*

To make our reader better acquainted with our author and thus reconcile the former with the attention we are devoting to the latter, we will offer two quotations, one proving the level head, the other the Christian heart. He is commenting on Chap. V.2. “Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose its seals ?” After stating that his theory“ requires that the 'book' should be or signify all the additional light necessary to the conversion of mankind, which is not necessarily a new revelation, perhaps chiefly light upon old revelations'(as to the significance and correctness of which statement each reader must be the judge), he adds: (1) “ Ignorance of that science (Geology) was, up to the time of its inception, a seal which locked up the meaning of the truth. In like manner ignorance of any class of facts is a bar to the understanding of some other facts, a seal upon the divine book of knowledge which effectually restrains study (?) until the seal is broken. In order to understand all things which it is needful to know, the last seal must disappear which some special ignorance imposes. When all studies have reached their results and all discoveries

* And he is sufficiently aufgeklärt as to be able to say (p. 126) “ the first great task of the teaching Church was the production of the New Testament," and speaks as familiarly of the intermediate state as if he had assimilated Dr. Schaff's work on Christ's Descent into Hades.


have been made in all departments of research, the light of general and sufficient information will shine into all minds, and men, the men that can be saved by light, will everywhere know too much to be able to continue in folly and rebellion. Is the breaking of the seals, then, a wholly human process of investigation and acquisition ? By no means. The human faculties have their appointed place in the work, but it is God that work eth all in all. The providence of the divine mind is nowhere more marked than in the advancement of true learning. Discovery follows discovery, truth follows truth, not only because man searches and finds, but because God guides and reveals.” Immediately thereupon follows (2) “The greatest secret of the intellectual success of the race is the revealing power of Christianity. This is the rational interpretation of the ascription of worthiness to the Lamb uttered by the representatives of the glorified Church in this vision. Thou art worthy to take the book and to open the seals thereof, for Thou wast slain.

“ Christ crucified opens the doors of all knowledge. If it had not been for His death, the story of the human race would have forever continued a hopeless puzzle. Since that so much has become intelligible that it may be hoped that all will be. He who has shed so much light may be trusted to shed more light, until all becomes clear. With the Bible for our text-book and the Holy Spirit for our instructor all riddles will be read, and all mysteries which stand in the way of human salvation will finally be explained.” That he means to do no trimming with modern forms of rationalism or unbelief becomes evident when we hear him say (p. 39): “Not more powerful surely is the natural sun to banish all the darkness of the night than Jesus Christ, the spiritual Sun, the infinite, omniscient God, to overcome the moral darkness of our race. This is the God who is light, infinite light."

Whilst orthodox and evangelical, Mr. S. has gotten beyond the old Spiritualism of the last century, with its precarious dualistic error. In this respect one of the seals has been broken for his thinking. Perhaps he would not regard it as a compliment, but nerertheless it seems to be a fact that he is a Monist. Not, of course, in the sense of the scientists, but in the sense of a sound theology, as well as philosophy. Formerly the spiritual world and our world of sense were thought of as separate and opposing orders of existence. Heaven was regarded as some remote locality, in no direct and real connection with this lower real world of time and space. Mr. S. goes upon the supposition that there is an intimate and orderly intercommunication between the two. On page 25 he says, “ great perplexity has arisen from the term angels' by which the 'stars' are defined; needlessly, it would seem, if it had been kept in mind that this term belongs to the ideal side of the Church of Christ, the same side to which the term candlestick' belongs.” Speaking of the four and twenty elders enthroned close about the throne of central deity, and drawing light from the infinite Fountain of light, he exclaims: “What men must Abraham, and Moses, and Daniel, and Paul, and John be by this time, after such an extended period of growth and improvement, ... It would be more than we know to say that our great struggle here is directly assisted by the wisdom of the former leaders of the Church.” But he does not say that this is inconceivable or improbable.

As this seal has been broken, he has certainly some advantage over the glorious old author of the “Gnomon,”-Bengel, who in his special volume devoted to it expounded the Apocalypse with more “scientific devotion ” than possibly any commentator before him or since. And hence there is some show of reason for the self-complacency in which he indulges. Referring to Dean Alford he says: “He seems to think that he has a key and yet is unable to open many of the doors. He might almost as well have no key at all”; whilst Mr. Smith believes that he (Mr. S.) has found an idea which, when applied to the various parts of the book “introduces an order, and makes

a harmony never before found by any system of interpretation. With this clew I do not despair of being able to make even him who sits in the room of the unlearned feel that


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

he has a pretty clear and decidedly delightful conception of what the Apocalypse means." This “idea,” “clew,” or “key" of Mr. Smith's will receive attention later.

What we mean by designating Mr. S. a Monist may be explained by a quotation from Dr. Ebrard.* On verse 10 of Chap. I. : "I was in the spirit on the Lord's day," he says this was an ecstatic state in which “the rapport with his surroundings by means of the senses was interrupted, and a rapport with the invisible world took its place.” “John was elevated from a state of wakeful consciousness into one of ecstasy, and whilst his inner eye and inner ear was opened for the invisible world he hears a sound like that of a trumpet. Thus is anschaulich described the awakening into the ecstatic consciousness.” I. H. Fichte says somewhere that our ordinary mental state is like a gloaming; our proper or real consciousness consists in our apprehension (by faith or otherwise) of the transcendental order of being, which is the only truly real one.† Accordingly

* We doubt whether Dr. Ebrard's genius shines to finer advantage anywhere than in his Commentary on the Apocalypse. But his weaknesses are with equal prominence exposed. There is no surer test of a scholar's power, learning, or spirituality than is furnished in this book as a subject for exegetical treatment. The great Hengstenberg made himself a target for ridicule by his self-confident assertion in putting forth the most absurd conjectures. Ebrard says that the venerable Swabian, “ the pioneer in modern biblical text critieism, was put to shame in his prophetical calculations,” and whilst making a laughing-stock of Hengstenberg, surmises that the Evangelical Union of modern Germany is foreshadowed in the book of Revelation.

† Dr. Addison Alexander, in his larger work on Isaiah, referring to the fact that Hengstenberg holds that it was “an ecstatic state in which they (the prophets) uttered their predictions,” states that what Peter says, 1 Pet. 1: 12, may be adequately explained "without resorting to a supposition, which, unless absolutely necessary is to be avoided as of doubtful tendency.” “The most usual method of communication would appear to have been that of immediate vision, i, e., the presentation of the thing to be revealed as if it were an object of sight. Thus Micaiah saw Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd (1 Kings 22: 17); and Isaiah saw Jehovah sitting on a

a lofty throne (6:1).” Dr. A.'s statement strikes us as unthinkable. Our author speaks, as do most modern commentators, of the “wrapt vision of our prophetic guide ;” indeed, there seems to be but little doubt, except in the minds of rationalists, that St. John was as to his spirit really in heaven. Rothe's Monism comes out in his " Zur Dogmatik,” p. 106. Referring to the


« PrejšnjaNaprej »