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The Syriac (Peshito) gives it in the same way, and can have no other rendering. So the other ancient versions. All that thus render it evidently present "the invisible things" as something from which the visible things become, (fiunt) come into manifestation, or are made, not certainly as material, or as material cause, (ex quo,) for that would be inconsistent with their invisibility, which is to be taken in the widest extent, as denoting what is beyond all sense. The rà un ẞλɛñóμɛva here, βλεπόμενα the unseen things" which faith "understands," are not merely such as are unseen or unfelt because now, or at any time, absent, but such as are, in their very essence, invisible, that is, beyond the possible sense of any possible sentient, until, through the word of God, they are made manifest in a sensible or phenomenal world. Still they are spoken of as causes, if not as material causes, yet as formal and efficient causes, which the Word employs in "framing the worlds." Calvin gets this same rendering from the Greek by connecting μὴ with ἐκ-φαινόμένων, taking these as forming one compound participle; and so he translates it, "from the non-appearing (non-apparentibus) came the appearing." This will not do; since there is to be a preposition understood, and for other reasons the Greek language will not allow such a construction. A careful examination, however, shows that the sense of the Vulgate and of the Syriac, as well as that arrived at by Calvin, is substantially the sense of the Greek text as it now stands, only expressed in a negative way. "Were not made of things that are seen," or that "do appear," is only another and a more Greek mode of saying (the Greek language being fond of negatives and negative expressions) that they were made from things that do not appear. We think that one who thoughtfully studies the passage will come to the same conclusion from considering the unnatural force that is to be put upon the language, and the idea, in the interpretation that is most commonly given by those who will not allow the sense for which we are contending. The "unseen things," they say, mean nothing at all; the "not being made from things that do appear" is, to them, only another mode of saying that the world, or the things that are seen, were made out of nothing. We do not intend here to discuss the question how far this is true, or in what sense true, of creation in the start, or
the principium principiorum, before which there was a nonexistence of everything but God; but this we say, and with much confidence, that the Greek terms here employed are not at all the ones that would be naturally used to express such an idea. The Greek words for not being would be tò μǹ őv, or τὰ μὴ ὄντα, to which the τὰ μὴ βλεπόμενα, or μὴ φαινόμενα, “ the unseen," or "the non-appearing," are by no means equivalent. Besides, although Tà ovтa, “the things being," is used in the plural, yet тà μǹ ovтa is not commonly so employed, "not being" being expressed by тò μǹ ov, for a very obvious reason, since not being can have no plurality. Much less would such. a phrase as τà μǹ Bλɛñòμɛva, “the things unseen," be used in the plural to express non-existence, or mere nothingness.
These "things unseen" are realities, if being is reality; they are plural, they are many, they have varieties. Whatever difficulties may surround the question of their existence in time, before the things in which they are manifested, (like the truth in the diagram,) they must be regarded as before them in the order of nature, so as to be causes instead of the effects, the powers organizing instead of the results of organization. Let no one think here of a pre-existent world of empty images of all things that may afterward exist. That is but the caricature of the thought. Powers, causes, or whatever else we may call them, they are individualized only when exhibited outwardly in the forms and motions of matter; but this does not prevent us from believing, even if we cannot easily conceive it, that God, "whose thoughts are higher than our thoughts, whose ways are not as our ways," and whose working is not as our working, may give being to forces, natures, laws, as entities antecedent in the order of working, invisible, immaterial, causal, life-giving, that are to have their individual manifestations in matter, though not properties of matter as such, nor any mere effects arising from any possible disposition of matter in itself.
A meaning altogether too recondite and metaphysical, some might say, to be put upon a plain scriptural passage, especially when the other idea of creation out of nothingness is so much more simple and obvious. We take issue here on the fact. The rendering which would make "the unseen things " a mere term for nothingness, or the negative declaration that "the
things seen were not made of things that do appear " to be but another mode of saying that "they were made out of nothing," we have already shown, is not in harmony with the verbal spirit of the passage. There was another and a clearer mode of saying that. Neither was it more in harmony with the most prevalent ancient thinking. Quite the other way. We impose a modern notion on an ancient writing. We need not go back to the doctrine of archetypal ideas, which is lost in a remote Greek and Oriental antiquity, but the general notions prevalent both in the East and in the West, (whether as taking the poetical and mythological, or the earliest philosophical form,) were more favorable to what some would now call the metaphysical interpretation. If we judge Paul by the thinking of his age, the Vulgate and Syriac were right in giving to the Greek the meaning which they have so distinctly brought out. There was, indeed, something like the hardmatterism of our own times in the atomical and corpuscular doctrine of Democritus, Epicurus, and Lucretius; but speculation, vulgar as well as philosophical, generally tended in a different direction, and there is evidence that some of the early Christian fathers were imbued with the same style of thinking. This, indeed, does not settle the truth, but it relieves the interpretation from any charge of being historically uncritical.
The forces and laws of nature are not properties of matter; that would be sheer materialism. They are not the offspring of matter, born of it, but the seminal powers themselves, mysteriously working in matter, controlling matter, making the earth and the waters bring forth the living forms. They were sown when "the Spirit brooded on the waters," in that first mysterious night of creation. They were there as potentialities when the Word went forth on the fifth day, and the command was given for life to appear. How long the process of their appearing, how many the gradations, who shall tell?
They worked not from without, but outwardly. And this is the great difference between the divine operation in nature, and that human mechanical operation to which the more easy conception would assimilate it. The latter is admirably, though rather oddly and quaintly expressed by Cudworth, in his Intellectual System of the Universe. "Human art cannot
act upon the matter otherwise than from the outside, nor communicate itself to it otherwise than by a great deal of tumult and hurly-burly, noise and clatter, it using hands and axes, saws and hammers, and after this manner, and with much ado, by knockings and thrustings, moliminously introducing its form or idea (as, for example, of a ship or a house) into the material." Chapter iii, section xxxvii, 9. Not so gross as this, perhaps, but still essentially the same, is the conception that many have of God's working in the making of things.' He stands on the outside; he makes the matter first as simple mass though the human artist has to borrow it; he fashions that matter into the form of a tree, an animal, or a man; he puts movement into it, and makes it act in a certain way which becomes its nature, and the constant action of which the scientific man records and generalizes into what he calls laws. Another difference, though an unessential one, is that the human workman, if he uses tools, has to borrow them. The divine workman makes his tools as he makes his matter, or he does it all directly, by sheer strength. There is no law or idea, working from within, as the very seminal power of the process. In this respect the work is as outward in the one case as in the other. The law and the idea (or species) are both mere generalizations from outward facts. They are the result, or the expression, or at the highest, the effect of the organization, and not its cause, its informing life and power.
Such we cannot believe to have been the working of the Logos in nature (John i, 3; Col. i, 16; Heb. i, 2, and xi, 3) when "the worlds were framed (or out-builded) by the word of God, so that from unseen things were made the things that do appear."
Our leading idea, throughout, is that of process, law, or nature, in creation. The subject cannot be fully discussed in one number, and we would, therefore, hope for the patience of our readers in some further attempt at its proof and elucidation.
FOURTH SERIES, VOL. XVII.-15
ART. IV. THE APOCALYPSE AND ITS EXPOSITION. [FIRST ARTICLE.]
Versuch einer Vollständigen Einleitung in die Offenbarung des Johannes; oder, Allgemeine Untersuchungen über die apokalyp tische Litteratur überhaupt und die Apokalypse des Johannes insbesondere. Von DR. FRIEDRICH LUCKE. Zweite Vermehrte und Verbesserte Auflage. Bonn. 1852.
A Commentary on the Apocalypse. By MOSES STUART, Prof. Sac. Lit. Andover. London. 1845.
Die Offenbarung des heiligen Johannes für Solche die in der Schrift forschen erläutert. Von E. W. HENGSTENBERG, Prof.
Theol. Berlin. Berlin. 1861, 1862.
"THE Revelation of John," says Lücke, "stands like a sphinx on the lofty, closing summit of holy Scripture." More difficult, indeed, to explain than the riddles of the Sphinx, it has defied the sagacity of the most sharp-sighted and penetrating theorizers, and baffled the skill of the soundest expositors. It has been commented upon by men of all grades of intellect, from the great Newton down to the feeblest scribbler. Almost every conceivable theory has been formed at some time or other to explain the book. Fanciful and ingenious expositors have found in it the past, present, and future history not only of the Church, but of the world.
But in spite of this conflict of opinion, in spite of the dark and mysterious character of the book, its author must have had an object in view, and he must have intended that object to be understood. Even the proposers of riddles usually give us data sufficient for their solution. Could we expect less than this of the author of the Apocalypse? But as the book is inspired and prophetic, we should expect to find in it both the clearness and obscurity of prophecy; God himself is both a revealing and concealing God; we should expect to find a great intelligible outline in the midst of much darkness and apparent confusion; and if we are not greatly mistaken, this can be found.
But the exposition of the book is not the only subject of difficulty and dispute; its author and the time of its composi