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It is to be regretted, that the former editors of the work have but too poorly sketched their author's biography. They do not even mention his namenor do they recollect to tell us, that the appellation of Pastorini is merely significant of his ministry. This neglect gave occasion to a new display of the inventive faculties of Sir Richard Musgrave, in what he is pleased to call, jocosely we should think, his History of the different Rebellions in Ireland. That famous historian calls the present work a translation--"it was,” he says, written originally at Rome by a sanguinary bigot of the name of Pastorini !" There is a species of censure, which has all the value of praise. The work was originally written in Eng. land, in the English language, and by an Englishman, under the assumed signature of Pastorini. It is not a translation it is the original text. The author is the Right Rev. CHARLES WALMESLEY, D. D. Catholic Bishop, or Vicar Apostolic, of the Western District (in England)—Fellow of the Royal Socie. ties of London and Berlin and one of the scientific men employed in correcting the old style. This pious, and venerable divine was not "a sanguinary bigot." The whole tenor of his life and writings proves, that he was a most mild and enlightened member of the Christian communion. The work before us abundantly establishes this character. Sir R. Musgrave calls it "a piece of folly and blasphemy." Dr. Milner, a better judge, calls it “a most ingenious and learned exposition of the book of revelations, calculated, he says, in his reply to the author of the different Rebellions, &c. to excite all Christians to lead a holy life, and to prepare for the coming of that awful Judge, before whom Sir Richard Musgrave will be arraigned for his unprecedented malice and calumnies."*

The present publisher, after many solicitous inquiries, finds himself destitute of materials for a satisfactory biographical sketch of the distinguished individual, whose work he undertakes to re-commit to the press. The following is all that he has been able to collect.

* An inquiry into certain vulgar opinions &c. p. 83—2nd Edit. London.

Dr. Walmesley was born in the year 1721, in some part of England. With his parentage we are not made particularly acquainted—but, we may presume on its respectability, on account of the high literary accomplishments which had been bestowed on him early in life. Gifted with abilities of the first order, and with a heart formed for piety and virtue, he dedicated himself, at an early period of his youth, to the study and practice of religion. His attainments in sacred literature, and in mathematical and astronomical investigations, soon became conspicuous. The former obtained for him the degree of Doctor of Divinity in the University of Paris. At the age of thirtyfive, he was elevated to the episcopal dignity. He was also a member of the learned congregation of Benedictins. His valuable contributions to the Philosophical Transactions in the years 1745, 6, 7, &c.--and his joint labours in correcting the old style in 1752, exhibit, altogether, very ample proofs of his mathematical learning. Before his return to England, on the close of his collegiate course, he visited many parts of the Continent. During his travels, he wrote several learned tracts. To the loss, however, of the literary world, his manuscripts were unfortunately consumed by the fire, which broke out at Bath, some years since. In that city he died, in the 76th year of his age, and 40th of his episcopacy, having serenely closed a holy life, which gave fresh odour to sanctity,—and new lustre to virtue, to religion, and to learning.

THE AUTHOR'S INTRODUCTION.

66

vours.

The Book of the Apocalypse, according to that learned interpreter of the Scriptures, St. Jerom,"contains an infinite number of mysteries relating to future times.” Lib. 1. contra Jovin. • The Apocalypse," says St. Austin, " is a prophecy of what is to happen from the first coming of Christ upon earth, to his second coming at the last day:" De. Civ. Dei. 1, 2. c. 8. Some modern writers hold the same opinion. Besides these authorities, our own study of that mysterious book, diligently pursued, has entirely prevailed on us to espouse the same sentiments. The Apocalypse exhibits, in general, a summary of the whole history of the Christian Church, from the date of its birth to its triumphant and glorious state in Heaven after the close of time. This is the foundation of the present work, and we hope the attentive reader, when he has considered the whole, will approve our sentiments and applaud our endea

He may perhaps then join us in thinking, that the celebrated commentators, Bossuet and Calmet, have too much contracted this admirable Prophecy by confining the contents to so short a period as the four first centuries of the Christian æra, and applying the whole, except the two last chapters, to the persecutions which the Church suffered from the pagan Roman Emperors, and to the destruction of the Roman empire. For this reason, the two above-mentioned authors have often been obliged to wrest the text, and give it a forced and improbable explication, to bring it within their system. On the same account, they have derogated from the dignity and

precision of that prophecy, by applying several texts to the same event; whereas, whoever looks attentively into the tenor of the Apocalypse, will perceive that St. John's precision and brevity are such, that he never repeats the same thing.

For the unfolding of the different parts of the Apocalypse, we have followed, in general, the plan laid down by Mr. De la Chetardie towards the close of the last century, as it has since been improved by a late French commentator on the scripture. It consists in a division of the whole Christian æra, to the end of time, into seven Ages, corresponding to the seven Seals, seven Trumpets, and seven Vials mentioned in the Apocalypse; so that to each belong a Seal, Trumpet, and Vial. But in the application of the Prophecies contained under these Seals, Trumpets, and Vials, as well as in other parts of the Apocalypse, we have frequently deviated from the above-named writers, to substitute what we thought a more genuine explication. It must then be observed, that an age and a century must not here be taken for synonymous terms; but by an age in this history we shall understand one of the seven divisions of time above-mentioned; neither are these divisions of time equal.

From the preceding observations it follows, that Christ divides the history of his Church into seven periods, in each of which he describes three different sorts of transactions under the respective Seal, Trumpet, and Vial. The Lamb holds a book sealed with seven Seals, which he opens one after another. This book contains the history of the formation and propagation of Christ's Church, together with the opposition made to the establishment of it; and a part of this account is disclosed at the opening of each Seal. To every Seal corresponds a Trumpet, which is sounded by an angel. The sound of a trumpet naturally indicates an alarm, and such is the nature of the Trumpets in the Apocalypse. They always announce events that are alarming to the Church, such as persecutions, intestine convulsions occasioned by heretics, &c. After the Trumpets follow the Vials of the wrath of God. These convey the punishments which Christ inflicts on the enemies of his people. Hence it appears that the Seals, Trumpets, and Vials, unfold the three kinds of events, which distinguish each age of the Christian Church. One may remark in the history of the Jews, that nearly the same sort of économy was observed in the divine dispensations towards that people. They were favoured with the special assistance of God, but they had also their trials, persecutions, &c. and at other times they saw their enemies laid prostrate by the divine hand before them.

When almighty God thinks fit to reveal future events, he generally expresses them in obscure terms that leave the meaning more or less uncertain. This seems to be done in order to prevent the daring presumption of some men, who might attempt, if the prophecies were clear, to obstruct and hinder their accomplishment. Others of mankind of a more timorous disposition, would be alarmed and over much terrified at disasters which they foresaw were impending upon them. On

another hand, if futurity was clearly foretold, it might seem to intrench upon that liberty, which God had been pleased to grant to man, of directing his own conduct and actions. For these reasons, the generality of prophecies are covered with a veil of darkness and uncertainty. Obscurity is therefore a general characteristic of prophecy, but it is peculiarly so of the Apocalypse, as every commentator has acknowledged. This book appears at first sight impenetrable. Let any one dip into it without having a key to open to him the meaning, and he will see nothing but a continued series of the most mysterious enigmas. Hence it has happened that so many different explanations have been invented. But the same obscurity was the occasion, that the ancient Fathers were so sparing in their interpretations of this prophecy. They have here and there explained a particular passage, without attempt. ing the whole, and sometimes only given a moral exposition of it. But this we need not wonder, because as the Apocalypse is the history of Christ's Church through the whole time of its existence, so few events had happened when they wrote, that the greatest part of the book must have appeared to them inexplicable. Hence we see the advantage of the present times for unravelling the mysteries of the Apocalypse, when so considerable a share of them has been fulfilled. Whoever looks back into the history of the Church, and compares attentively the facts with the expressions of St. John, will see a distinct analogy and connexion between them. It must however be allowed, there remain yet very many obscurities, which if we have not always sufficiently cleared, we hope the indulgent reader will consider the difficulty and excuse the defect.

The principal help for removing the obscurities of the Apocalypse arises from a right understanding of its general tendency. If a wrong system be adopted, the difficulty of reconciling the different parts of the prophecy become insuperable: and this has appeared fully in the attempts of several interpreters. But when the plan of the book is discovered and ascertained, the difficulties decrease and the obscurities gradually disappear. Thus a surprising light breaks in upon the Apocalypse, when we view it as the History of Christ's Church divided into seven periods or ages, as we have above explained. A second means of removing difficulties is, the taking notice of the order of the different parts that compose this prophetic book. St. John gives all the seals together, then all the trumpets, and lastly the vials in the same manner.

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