NOTES ON THE APOCALYPSE.
The heavens and the earth did not make themselves. The material universe furnishes to the intelligent creature a visible demonstration of the "eternal power and godhead of its Author." Besides, a sense of Deity is essential to humanity; and a supernatural revelation is not necessary to convince rational beings that there is a God. Man is a dependent being in common with all ether creatures, and all creatures depend upon a first cause. That cause is God. Dependent as a creature, man may know something of the natural perfections of his Maker; and possessing a conscience, which implies accountability to a superior, he may know,—he must know, something of the moral attributes of God.
In view of these positions, we may account for the fact, too often overlooked by the reader of the Bible, that the Holy Spirit directed the first of all historians to begin his narrative so abruptly. Assuming that the reader is already assured of God’s being, Moses proceeds at once to account for the origination of the material universe. In simple narrative he writes,—"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Thus God’s being, and the eternity of his being are assumed as known by the first inspired penman; a fact or principle not to be disputed. True, the being of God has been questioned, but only by "fools"—"brutish people;" who, by their atheistical suggestions have proclaimed to their fellows their "brutish folly?" (Ps. 14:6, 94:8,9.)
As the Bible takes for granted that mankind have had a previous revelation in their own physical and moral constitution,—in the visible heavens and earth; the same is true of the last book of the Bible, the Apocalypse. It assumes that the reader has some competent knowledge of the preceding books of the sacred Scriptures. The reader is supposed to be acquainted with the patriarchal and Mosaic dispensations of the Covenant of Grace. Moreover, the moral law, as inculcated in the Old Testament; the Levitical priesthood and ministry, as being "shadows of good things to come;" the "doctrine according to godliness," taught in the gospels and epistles of the New Testament,—are all taken for granted and supposed to be received with a divine faith by all who would profit by this last book of the sacred canon.
It is further assumed in the Apocalypse, that the humble inquirer into the mind of the Holy Spirit has a knowledge of ancient history, of the character and destiny of Egypt, Babylon, etc. And finally, it is requisite that the successful inquirer into the mind of God be acquainted with the language of symbols; and, above all, that he be resolved, with the inspired writer John, to take a position with the mystic woman in the wilderness.
With these few preliminaries, we proceed—