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To come down still later. In the time of our Lord, the chief priests and scribes knew where he would be born, (Matt. ii. 5, 6;) yet how little interest did they take about his birth, though their attention was so remarkably called to it. The Saviour lived among them for thirty years, little regarded by them. And, when he had wrought his wonderful works, and had suffered his appointed death; though the darkness and the earthquake for a moment astounded, they still viewed him as a Deceiver. We may suppose the chief priests, and scribes, and pharisees, and Gamaliel, and the lawyers consulting together, and saying, 'It is impossible the prophecies can be fulfilled: where is the glory predicted, and where is deliverance from our enemies? Or we may suppose, after his death, even his Apostles conferring together; all the predictions of his remarkable birth, and life, and death, had been exactly fulfilled; they had been witnesses of these things, and their minds deeply engaged in them; and yet they then saw not their fulfilment; but their mind is expressed, "we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel; Luke xxiv. 21. whatever different opinions and views there were among them of what had passed, doubts were not dispelled, till the Lord himself explained it to them. Luke xxiv. 44.

There may then be very great darkness on clearly fulfilled prophecy when our minds are under prejudices, and there may be differences among God's [228] children as to really fulfilled prophecy, and this may even continue till the Saviour himself come in his glory and dispel every doubt. Calvin distinguishes between the design of Prophecy, and the minute interpretation, (see his notes on Zech. i. 7-11,) and shews that if we are only desiring edification, it will be easy to collect the sum of the whole prophecy. It is easy to collect, for instance, the scope of the book of Revelation;—that it is given to discover to us the coming again, in power and great glory, of the Saviour, and till that coming, to shew to us a suffering and afflicted church; and after that coming a triumphant and blessed church. How inexpressibly important have these general truths been in all the ages of Christianity to the true servants of Christ!

The recent publication of views tending to overthrow all former interpretations, may be overruled for good, if it excite the interest of many who would otherwise wholly disregard the subject; and may lead to sifting to the utmost, all received views, and to the ultimate establishment of truth in the minds of those, who loving the truth, take diligent pains to search it out.

It is the more to be hoped that this may be the effect, as the ability of those who have given forth these views is sufficient to enable them to detect every latent error; and their piety such as it is to be hoped will preserve them from willingly fighting against the truth. All sincere inquiries into prophecy are infinitely better than indifference.

Some instructive practical lessons may be drawn from these things:1. THE DANGER OF DISBELIEVING PROPHECY.

This [229] unbelief damped the hopes of the Israelites in Egypt, and filled them with anguish of spirit; it made the Jews heartless to return from Babylon, and slack in building the temple. The Jewish rulers were, from disregard of prophecies, led to fill up their sins; and the Apostles were filled with despondency at their Master's leaving them, (John xvi. 6, 7,) though it was needful for their best advantage, that he should go away. Let us then, warned by so many varied examples, attend to this sure light, and ascend to this safe watch-tower, and wait for our Lord.

THE GRAND DANGER TO BE FEARED in these varied interpretations, is A STATE OF SLUMBER, as to the speedy, personal, and visible coming of Christ. Oh let us never forget, that not merely the foolish virgins slumbered, but THE WISE VIRGINS also! The tendency of all these differences of Christians is to deaden our faith in, and dull our hope of our Lord's coming, and to cause our love to wax cold. Any thing that has these direct effects

upon our mind, cannot be the truth. It is a just remark of Mr. Cuninghame's, that 'no mistakes of honest inquiries into prophetic truth are so fatal as the error of neglecting and despising the spirit of prophecy, which is the testimony of Jesus. Rev. xix. 10.'

2. Again, varied interpretation may lead us not TOO PERTINACIOUSLY TO ADHERE TO VIEWS which we have given to the public, should subsequent investigation throw doubt upon them. Whatever may be the correctness or incorrectness of Mr. Faber's last views, the candour and ingenuousness of mind with which he has been willing to adopt fresh sentiments, on a variety of points in which he thought [230] evidence compelled him to do so, is very remarkable and exemplary. In the same way, Mr. Cuninghame has acknowledged mistakes that have been manifested to him. Such acknowledgments are highly honourable to those who make them, and so far from leading any to triumph in their mistakes, should rather give us greater confidence that the writers are pursuing substantial truth, and not a mere private system; and lead us to copy a frankness truly Christian.

3. It is also important to be free from DOGMATISM, even


when on the strongest grounds we think that we are right. It is a large subject, full of serious difficulties, and spread over vast fields of God's word and God's providence; he then must be greatly blessed indeed in considering it, who is wholly free from mistake. When such men as Mede, Newton, Cressener, &c. have in some things erred, (and who will say they have not?) we ought surely not to be over-confident in our own interpretation.

4. Again, varied interpretations should excite us to increased and closer INVESTIGATION; the prophecy shall be so completed in the end of God's dispensation, that we may compare it with its accomplishment, and fulfil the direction, and attain the promise, “Seek ye out of the book of the Lord and read: no one of these shall fail; none shall want her mate." Isaiah xxxiv. 16. So far from giving up the study because of its difficulties, we should only search the scriptures more diligently. It is not so surrounded with difficulties but that patient investigation will clear away many, and open much invaluable light.

5. The end of all shall be the FULL TRIUMPH OF God's OWN WORD, and of all who rest in it and obey [231] it. The word of the Lord is triedit is pure truth, it shall stand for ever; things will clear up, difficulties vanish, and God's mind and will be fully developed and manifested.

A glory gilds the sacred page

Majestic as the sun;
It gives a light to every age; —

It gives, but borrows none. 6. SUBMISSION To God's will, however contrary to our own, and deep REVERENCE FOR HIS WORD, should be farther results of all these discussions to those under the real teaching of the Spirit. “Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Rom. xi. 33, 34. If his truth be established, his name honoured, his word magnified, and his will accomplished, the Christian's highest aims are gained.

7. In conclusion, I would remark, that the whole subject may suggest to Prophetical Students an important CAUTION, not needlessly to multiply new interpretations; not without full consideration and deliberation, to bring before the public what may be a stumbling-block to the weak: and this equally applies to authors and editors of periodical works. May we all remember the almost closing words of the last book of prophecy: "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these

things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” Rev. xxii. 18, 19.




[232] It is the general opinion of those who have most diligently studied the word of prophecy, founded on such passages as Dan. ii. 35; vii. 9, 11, 26, and the general burden of prophecy, that those judgments which have, for the last forty years, more or less, been pouring out upon the seats of the four universal empires, will be continued and increased, till the utter destruction of all Antichristian powers, and the full and final establishment of the Redeemer's kingdom at his coming. Respecting the nature and extent of these judgments, and whether their full issue as it respects the seats of the Universal Empires, be not an overwhelming destruction like that of the deluge, (only by fire) as well as respecting the nature of the coming and Kingdom of Christ, and whether that coming be personal and visible, or merely the infliction of these judgments, and the establishment of his kingdom; there are great differences of opinion; but assuredly there is enough of clear prediction to [233] awaken the most careless mind, that does indeed believe the Bible to be the word of the living God, and enough of danger and excitement in the actual state of the nations, and a distressing extent of wickedness and apostacy actually existing, to give the Christian remarkable signs of the times, and call for a watchful and prayerful spirit. * There

* It is striking to observe the manifestation which the public press of our country, without any idea of illustrating prophetical views, is giving of those characters of the age which are delineated in the word of God. We have continually brought before us specimens of judgments on the countries, workings of infidelity, and the decay of Mahomedanism in these last days.

It is fully admitted, that there is a considerable danger of over-estimating passing transactions, but there is also a parallel danger of disregarding the signs of the times.

The progress of an absolute denial of the knowledge of God in Socialism, as it is falsely called, has been painfully manifest in our own country, as well

is an awful [234] reserve of threatened but unaccomplished wrath, yet to be poured out on evil men.

The judgments to come upon the earth, concern both the church of God, and the world. As to the CHURCH, they must be viewed, as far as concerns real Christians, as fatherly chastisements, full of the seeds of future blessedness and glory, (1 Cor. xi. 31, 32.) It appears from various expressions of prophecy, which we may justly suppose to refer to these times, (Dan. xii. 10; Rev. xiv. 12, 13), that times greatly to exercise the patience of God's servants, and of suffering to purify them, are at hand. Our Lord, when announcing his second coming in glory, has again and again said, (Matt. xvi. 25; Mark viii. 35; Luke ix. 24; xvii. 33,) Whosoever will save his life, shall

as the general indifference to the Protestant truth, among large leading classes in our country.

In the account given in the Quarterly Review for November, 1834, of "Pa. roles du Croyant," a French work, recently published, we have the following description of that work.

"An attempt to amalgamate revolution with religion, and to preach rebellion and regicide in scriptural phraseology-has created a sensation on the continent, which appears one of the signs of the times.". It is said that it has run through 15 editions, been translated by the zeal of the Radical Propagandist, into almost all the European languages, -has been answered by at least á dozen pens,-denounced in Episcopal charges, and interdicted by the Pope. It affects in its form and phrase to be a kind of serious parody of the prophetic scriptures and more particularly the Apocalypse. It opens with a transcript of some passages of Holy Writ, —- In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, Amen." "He who has ears,” &c.—"He who has eyes let him see, for the time cometh.” In one part it brings in the seven men crowned, drinking foaming blood out of a skull, and saying, “Maudit soit le Christ, qui a ramené sur la terre la liberté.” It is, in short, described as containing 40 chapters of inpiety, sedition, jacobinism, and incomprehensible absurdity, combined with religious expressions from the scriptures. What a commentary on 2 Timothy iii. 1-5!

The drying up of the river Euphrates (Rev. xvi. 12.) is equally illustrated by the following statement from the Edinburgh Review of October, 1834, of Conolly's Journey to North India:

"A curious part of the volume before us is the vivid picture which they casually exhibit of the internal disorganization-the demoralized state, and want of social security, in every country of Asia in which the author travelled. All other accounts tend to the same conclusion. It should seem that at this moment the Mahomedan states, all over the world, are in a worse condition than at any former period; and not only worse, but also more hopeless. They not only have no prospect of any favourable internal change, but have given up all expectation of it. They are suffering a visible and rapid decay. They are ill governed and wretched within, and weak without. The star of the Moslem is visibly on the descent. They are now arrived at a great crisis. Turkey, so long the stronghold of the faith, and the terror of Europe, exhibits every symptom of imbecility. The states of Barbary, Egypt, Syria, Greece, the country beyond the Danube, and large provinces on the Black Sea, have been virtually, or really, wrested from her. The other Mahomedan states are in a similar condition. India, another Bulwark of the faith can no longer yield it any support. Persia is a prey to divisions; and if it ever was as weak before, never was placed near so dangerous a foe.”'

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