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which do but tell of a vast monument of barbaric wealth.
Rameau's music is probably better than that of Timotheus; and there is not a picture presented at Paris in the Hall of Apollo (salon d'Apollon) which does not excel the paintings dug out of Herculaneum.*
Was the ox Apis worshipped at Memphis as a god? as a symbol? or as an ox? It is likely that the fanatics regarded him as a god, the wise as merely a symbol, and that the more stupid part of the people worshipped the ox. Did Cambyses do right in killing this ox with his own hand? Why not? He showed to the imbecile that their god might be put on the spit without Nature's arming herself to revenge the sacrilege. The Egyptians have been much extolled. I have not heard of a more miserable people. There must always have been in their character, and in their government, some radical vice which has constantly made vile slaves of them. Let it be granted, that in times almost unknown they conquered the earth; but in historical times they have been subjugated by all who have chosen to take the trouble,-by the Assyrians, by the Greeks, by the Romans, by the Arabs, by the Mamelukes, by the Turks, by all in short but our crusaders, who were even more ill-advised than the Egyptians were cowardly. It was the Mameluke militia that beat the French under St. Louis. There are, perhaps, but two things tolerable in this nation; the first is, that those who worshipped an ox, never sought to compel those who adored an ape to change their religion; the second, that they have always hatched chickens in ovens.
We are told of their pyramids; but they are monuments of an enslaved people. The whole nation must have been set to work on them, or those unsightly masses could never have been raised. And for what use were they? To preserve in a small chamber the
* See ANCIENTS AND MODERNS.
mummy of some prince, or governor, or intendant, which his soul was to re-animate at the end of a thousand years. But if they looked forward to this resurrection of the body, why did they take out the brains before embalming them? Were the Egyptians to be resuscitated without brains?
JUSTIN the Martyr, who wrote about the year 270 of the Christian era, was the first who spoke of the Apocalypse; he attributes it to the apostle John the Evangelist. In his dialogue with Tryphon, that Jew asks him if he does not believe that Jerusalem is one day to be re-established? Justin answers, that he believes it, as all Christians do who think aright. "There was among us," says he, a certain person named John, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus; he foretold that the faithful shall pass a thousand years in Jerusalem."
The belief in this reign of a thousand years was long prevalent among the Christians. This period was also in great credit among the Gentiles. The souls of the Egyptians returned to their bodies at the end of a thousand years; and, according to Virgil, the souls in purgatory were exercised for the same space of time;-et mille per annos. The New Jerusalem of a thousand years was to have twelve gates, in memory of the twelve apostles; its form was to be square; its length, breadth, and height, were each to be a thousand stadii, i. e. five hundred leagues; so that the houses were to be five hundred leagues high. It would be rather disagreeable to live in the upper story; but we find all this in the 21st chapter of the Apocalypse.
If Justin was the first who attributed the Apocalypse to St. John, some persons have rejected his testimony; because, in this same dialogue with the Jew Tryphon, he says that, according to the relation of the Apostles, Jesus Christ, when he went into the Jordan, made the water of that river boil,-which, however, is not to be found in any writing of the Apostles.
The same St. Justin confidently cites the oracles of
the Sibyls; he moreover pretends to have seen the remains of the places in which the seventy-two interpreters were confined in the Egyptian pharos, in Herod's time. The testimony of a man who had had the misfortune to see these places, seems to indicate that he might possibly have been confined there himself.
St. Irenæus, who comes afterwards, and who also believed in the reign of a thousand years, tells us, that he learned from an old man, that St. John wrote the Apocalypse. But St. Irenæus is reproached with having written, that there ought to be but four gospels, because there are but four quarters of the world, and four cardinal points, and Ezekiel saw but four animals. He calls this reasoning a demonstration. It must be confessed, that Irenæus's method of demonstrating is quite worthy of Justin's powers of sight.
Clement of Alexandria, in his Electa, mentions only an Apocalypse of St. Peter, to which great importance was attached. Tertullian, a great partisan of the thousand years' reign, not only assures us that St. John foretold this resurrection and reign of a thousand years in the city of Jerusalem, but also asserts that this Jerusalem was already beginning to form itself in the air, where it had been seen by all the Christians of Palestine, and even by the Pagans, at the latter end of the night, for forty nights successively; but, unfortunately, the city always disappeared as soon as it was day-light,
Origen, in his preface to St. John's Gospel, and in his homilies, quotes the oracles of the Apocalypse; but he likewise quotes the oracles of the Sibyls. And St. Dionysius of Alexandria, who wrote about the middle of the third century, says, in one of his fragments preserved by Eusebius, that nearly all the doctors rejected the Apocalypse as a book devoid of reason; and that this book was composed, not by St. John, but by one Cerinthus, who made use of a great name to give more weight to his reveries.
The council of Laodicea, held in 360, did not reckon the Apocalypse among the canonical books. It is very singular that Laodicea, one of the churches to
which the Apocalypse was addressed, should have rejected a treasure designed for itself; and that the bishop of Ephesus, who attended the council, should also have rejected this book of St. John, who was buried at Ephesus.
It was visible to all eyes that St. John was continually turning about in his grave, causing a constant rising and falling of the earth. Yet the same persons who were sure that St. John was not quite dead, were also sure that he had not written the Apocalypse. But those who were for the thousand years' reign, were unshaken in their opinion. Sulpicius Severus, in his Sacred History, book xi. treats as mad and impious those who did not receive the Apocalypse. At length, after numerous oppositions of council to council, the opinion of Sulpicius Severus prevailed. The matter having been thus cleared up, the Church came to the decision, from which there is no appeal, that the Apocalypse is incontestably St. John's.
Every christian communion has applied to itself the prophesies contained in this book. The English have found in it the revolutions of Great Britain; the Lutherans, the troubles of Germany; the French reformers, the reign of Charles IX. and the regency of Catherine de Medicis: and they are all equally right. Bossuet and Newton have both commented on the Apocalypse; yet, after all, the eloquent declamations of the one, and the sublime discoveries of the other, have done them greater honour than their commentaries.
Two great men, but very different in their greatness, have commented on the Apocalypse, in the seventeenth century;-Newton, to whom such a study was very ill suited; and Bossuet, who was better fitted for the undertaking. Both gave additional weapons to their enemies by their commentaries; and, as has elsewhere been said, the former consoled mankind for his superiority over them, while the latter made his enemies rejoice.
The Catholics and the Protestants have both ex
plained the Apocalypse in their favour, and have each found in it exactly what has accorded with their interests. They have made wonderful commentaries on the great beast with seven heads and ten horns, with the hair of a leopard, the feet of a bear, the throat of a lion, the strength of a dragon; and, to buy and sell, it was necessary to have the character and number of the beast, which number was 666.
Bossuet finds that this beast was evidently the Emperor Dioclesian, by making an acrostic of his name. Grotius believed that it was Trajan. A curate of St. Sulpice, named La Chétardie, known from some strange adventures, proves that the beast was Julian. Jurieu proves that the beast is the Pope. One preacher has demonstrated that it was Louis XIV. A good Catholic has demonstrated that it is William, King of England. It is not easy to make them all agree.*
There have been warm disputes concerning the stars which fell from heaven to earth, and the sun and moon, which were struck with darkness in their third parts.
There are several opinions respecting the book that the angel made the author of the Apocalypse eat, which book was sweet to the mouth and bitter to the stomach. Jurieu asserted that the books of his adversaries were designated thereby; and his argument was retorted upon himself.
There have been disputes about this verse-" And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder; and I heard the voice of harpers harping on their harps." It is quite clear, that it would have been better to have
* A learned modern has pretended to prove that this beast of the Apocalypse is no other than the Emperor Caligula. The number 666 is the numeral amount of the letters of his name. This book is, according to this writer, a prediction of the disorders of Caligula's reign-after they had happened, to which were added, equivocal predictions of the downfal of the Roman empire. Hence it is, that the Protestants, who have resolved to find in the Apocalypse the papal power and its destruction, have also met with some very striking explanations.