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those who are not acquainted with the writings of the ancient historians, must be surprised when they find that the system of dates which has been adopted in the authorised version of the Scriptures differs from the chronological conclusions which are now commonly held, to the full amount of fourteen hundred years, The numbers which appear in the margin of our English Bibles were inserted on the authority of Usher and Lloyd ; prelates, it is true, who were no less esteemed for their great learning than for their zeal and integrity. But in a subject of this kind where the truth must be discovered by an examination of ancient records, the value of every man's opinion must be determined by the evidence which he produces in support of it, as well as by the soundoess of the reasoning which he employs in weighing the facts and testimony on which the question has usually been decided. In chronology, it is well known, the name of Usher, as well as the greater name of Newton, has long ceased to command any special attention. Each of these distinguished authors was led astray by the prevailing habits of his own mind, and by the favorite pursuits of his age. The primate, from the respect which he enters tained for Hebrew literature, put an undue degree of confidence in the opinions of the rabbis; the philosopher, on the other hand, assured himself that a basis for an infallible system of chronology might be found in the deductions of physical astronomy."
It is indeed worthy of remark, that the chronological system recommended by Dr. Russell in the present work, is represented by. bim as so far from being new, that it may be described as the most ancient that has at any time been known to the Christian church. In the volumes of the earliest writers who undertook to illustrate the doctrines and the history of our holy faith, the numbers of the Septuagint are uniformly employed to measure the succession of the several events to which their arguments bear a reference. We find not in their computations any evidence that they were even acquainted with the abridged method which the rabbis have attempted to introduce: and throughout the Eastern empire in particular, the Hebrew chronology remained unknown or disregarded during the lapse of fifteen centuries. Even in the Western church, the era of the Reformation forced the clergy to the calculations which were handed down to them in the tables of Clement, Theopbilus, and 'Eusebius ; and which, in fact, had never been challenged except by a few obscure partisans of the rabbinical school, who urged the authority of Mss., of which they kuew neither the import nor the history.
tation, published by Dr. Russell at the head of his · Connection of Sacred and Profane History;' a book that I cannot sufficiently recommend, and from which I have derived the greatest assistance.”
- In the Dissertation on Chronology, there is an interesting account of the original speculations of the Jews on the subject of the millennium, which we earnestly recommend to the attention of such of our readers as may have allowed their minds to be disturbed by the ignorant reveries on that bead which have beeu revived in the present day. Dr. Russell produces the most satisfactory proof that the rabbis, both before and after the birth of Christ, believed that the world was to exist only six thousand years, as the habitation of sinful men; after which a new order of ibings was to commence, when peace and joy were to prevail among the chosen race during a thousand years, much on the same principle that six days of toil every week are succeeded by a day of rest and happiness. This opinion was adopted by many of the early Christians, and is found to have influenced greatly their belief and expectations relative to the final consummation of all things. St. Barnabas, for example, who has been described as the first depository of the doctrine of St. Paul, presents to us, in a commentary on the 20th chapter of Exodus, the following views of the mystical meaning of the word Sabbath : “And God made in six days the works of his hands, and he finished them on the seventh day; and he rested on the seventh day, and sanctified it.” “Consider, my children," says he, “what that signifies,—he finished them in six days. The meaning of it is this; that in six thousand years the Lord God will bring all things to an end; for with him one day is a thousand years, as he himself testifieth, Psalm xc. 4. Therefore, children, in six days, that is, in six thousand years, shall all things be accomplished. And what is that he saith,-And he rested the seventh day? He meaneth this ; that when his Son shall come and abolish the season of the wicked one, and judge the ungodly, and shall change the sun, the moon, and the stars, then he shall rest gloriously on that seventh day. Behold then he will truly sanctify, it with blessed rest, when we (baving received the righteous promise, when iniquity shall be no more, all things being renewed by the Lord) shall be able to sanctify it, being ourselves first made holy.”—Cathol. Epist. S. Bar. sect. 15.
The rabbis, we are told, not satisfied with the resemblance between the six days of creation and the seventh day of rest, sought an authority for the same conclusion in the apparently trivial circumstance, that the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, which, when accompanied with a certain mark, denotes a thousand, occurs six times in the first verse of the first chapter of the book of Genesis. Hence they inferred that the earth was to last only six thousand years in its present state ; and that those six millennary periods were to be followed by one day of corresponding length, consisting of a thousand years, or one millennium. As, therefore, the sixth millennium was well advanced in the time of our Saviour,
his contemporaries viewed themselves as those who lived in the latter days, and on whom the ends of the world had come.
In truth, the notion of an approaching millennium, which pervades the writings of that early period, cannot be properly understood, without a reference to this tradition respecting the age and duration of the world.
In the apostolical age most men entertained the belief that the incarnation of the Redeemer took place near the very close of the sixth millennium. St. Clement of Rome, as well as Barnabas, shared in that opinion. Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Cyprian, Theophilus, Clemens Alexandrinus, Origen, and Ambrose, at a later period, afford unquestionable evidence that they inherited the same persuasion. The last-mentioned of these fathers, in his exposition of the Gospel of St. Luke, shows clearly that he had adopted the conclusion of his times, as to the age and duration of the world. When commenting on the transfiguration of our Lord, he lays considerable emphasis on the statement of St. Matthew, who observes, that, after six days, he taketh Peter, James, and John up into a high mountain apart.“ In regard to this notice," says the venerable author, we may remark, that it was after six thousand years ; for a thousand years are in the sight of the Lord as one day. But now more than six thousand years are counted, namely, from the foundation of the world.” Origen, in one of his Dialogues, asserts, against an heretical follower of Marcion, that our Lord descended from heaven for the salvation of man, six thousand years after the Almighty had formed the first of the human race. And Hippolytus, who likewise florished in the beginning of the third century, warns his flock that the time of Antichrist could not be far distant, as six thousand years from the creation of the world had already passed away. In a word, Dr. Russell has established, by a very patient and learned research into Christian antiquity, that, prior to the close of the second century, there is no writer to be found who did not inherit the opinions which prevailed in the times of the apostles and their immediate disciples, relative as well to the interval which had elapsed between Adam and Christ, as to the expected change about to take place in the condition of human nature.
In the following century, (he adds) we begin to perceive symptoms of change in the leading systems of chronology, and an attempt to accommodate the authority of tradition to the actual state of things. The expected millennium was seen to be delayed from generation to generation; and it therefore became necessary to examine more attentively into the language of Scripture, and to calculate with greater precision the several epochs which were recorded in the inspired annals of the Jewish church. Julius Africanus, accordingly, who wrote about the year 221 of our era, is the first who reduced the period above stated (between
Adam and Christ) to 5500 years;-a conclusion which appears to have been readily received by nearly all the learned Christians of his day, particularly in the provinces of Greece and of Asia Minor.
Lactantius, who forished early in the fourth century, proved himself, in the department of chronology at least, an implicit follower of Julius the African. In the seventh of his Divine Institutions, he ventured to teach, according to the doctrine of the Jews, that the world in its present form was not to subsist beyond six thousand years; but that, after the term now mentioned, the human race was doomed to witness the consummation of all earthly things, and the commencement of a new order of moral and intellectual natures. He adds, that those who have devoted themselves to the Science of Time, have ascertained with sufficient accuracy when this renovation is to take place; guiding their inquiries by the knowlege which is presented to them in the holy books and other historical records of former ages, wherein is contained the number of years assigned for the duration of the globe. He admitted, indeed, that there appeared some diversity in the sentiments of the best writers on this subject; but, on the whole, he thought himself justified in pronouncing that the earth, as now cona stituted, was not to last more than two hundred years from his own time. “Quando tamen compleatur hæc summa, (6000 ann.) docent ii qui de temporibus scripserunt, colligentes ex litteris sacris, et ex variis hisio, riis, quantus sit numerus annorum ab exordio mundi. Qui licet varient, et aliquantum numeri eorum summa dissentiat; omnis tamen expectatio non amplius quam ducentorum videtur annorum."-Lact. lib. vii. Divin, Institut. num. 25.
In this computation the learned tutor of the son of Constantine proceeds on the fact, proved or assumed by Julius Africanus, that the world had existed 5500 years before the incarnation of Christ; and as from the birth of our Lord to the period at which the Divine Institutions were composed, there intervened a space of 320 years, making 5820 in all from the creation; the remainder, 180, may be regarded as justifying the round number of 200 used by Lactantius, as completing the full
term measured out by Divine Providence for the duration of this earthly abode. Eusebius, the bishop of Cæsarea, who lived at the same time with Lactantius, thought proper to diminish the period between the creation and the era of redemption to 5200 years: a conclusion which was adopted by many of the Western churches, but resolutely opposed by those of the Lesser Asia, Arabia, and Egypt. We find also, that even in the days of Abulfaragius, who wrote his History of the Dynasties towards the end of the thirteenth century, no material change had been introduced into the ancient chronology: “From the beginning of thę world," says he, “ to the Messiah, according to the computation of the law in the Septuagint version, which is in the hands of the Greeks, and of the other Christian sects, the Syrians excepted, the number of years is about five thousand five hundred and eighty-six." This current of opinion as to the age of the world continued uniform during several centuries over the whole Christian church. Augustine, it is true, de parted so far from the authority of Eusebius and Jerome, as to introduce into the line of the postdiluvian fathers the name of the second Cainan. But his views, it is obvious, were all along regulated by the same general principles which, in those early ages, seem to have determined the limits of all chronological inquiry: for even in the beginning of the fifth cen
tury, the date at which he lived, we find him using the very same language which filled the mouths of the Christians while as yet the apostles and their companions were on the earth; and assuring his auditors that the sixth millennium was already far advanced, and that, at the close of it, a great change awaited the mortal condition of man. “In sexto annorum milliario, tanquam sexto die, cujus nunc spatia superiora volvuntur." He therefore opposes himself to those who maintained what he esteemed heretical notions on the history of the cosmogony; reminding the pious persons whom he addressed, that from the first man, who was called Adam, six thousand years were not yet completed, and that the writers who denied this certain and unquestionable truth deserved not to be reasoned with, but to be treated with contempt. " Ab ipso primo homine, qui est appellatus Adam, nondum sex millia annorum compleantur : quomodo non isti ridendi potius quam refellendi sunt, qui de spatio temporum tam diversa, et huic exploratæ veritati tam contraria persuadere conantur ?"-De Civit. lib. xviii. c. 40.
It is a remarkable fact, that as time rolled on, without realizing the awful catastrophe to which the hopes or fears of men were directed in the early ages of Christianity, the chronologers of those days found it expedient to alter, from period to period, the ancient system of dates by which the interval between Adam and Christ was wont to be measured. Clement and Barnabas, with others who are usually denominated Apostolical Fathers, taught that the sixth millennium was near a close when the Saviour of mankind took on him the nature of the human being, and consequently encouraged the expectation that the millennary sabbath of peace and triumph was rapidly approaching. But, after two hundred years had passed away, and mundane concerns continued to proceed in their usual course, it was concluded that a mistake had been committed in the rabbinical calculations, in regard to the lapse of time between the eras of creation and redelliption. Hence Julius Africanus, Lactantius, Eusebius, and Jerome, reduced that period, first to 5500, and afterwards to 5200 years: an accommodation by which they contrived to save, in some degree, the credit of the older Christian writers, and also to keep the millennium in prospect as an event which could not be very long delayed. Every one, we think, will agree with Dr. Russell in thinking, that such expectations are fully intelligible, only when viewed through the medium of that chronology, according to which the Christians of the apostolic age, as well as the Jews themselves at that period, were accustomed to measure the antiquity of their nation and of the human
If examined into, on the basis of the modern Hebrew text, they must appear not only absurd, but positively without any foundation whatever, either in history or in tradition. If the stream of time had only brought the world towards the close of the fourth millennium, on what ground could a people, who had been taught to expect a great change in the condition of man and of the globe at the end of six thousand years, consider themselves as existing on the very eve of that