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and comprehensive surveys of events. Let us watch against any views not according to the mind of the Spirit. i Cor. ii. 10—15.

It may serve also as a guard against censuring views of prophecy which may not accord with our respective partialities. One, strongly and justly impressed with the magnitude of the conversion of the Jews in its consequences on the world at large, may be disposed to find fault with an application of the promises of the Old Testament to the Christian church; but preceding observations will have shewn that such an application is made by the inspired writers, and justly adopted in the judgment of the soundest divines. Another, under equally strong [338] and just feelings of the immense and innumerable multitudes of the Gentiles, all having immortal souls and perishing yearly, the promises made of their conversion, and the blessings already given to missionary efforts, may be apt to disregard the peculiar situation and privileges of the Jews, and not only to lose sight of those prophecies which concern their conversion and restoration, but to undervalue that which is of immense moment in the future glory and blessedness of the world at large. But why should [339] the servants of Christ, aiming at the same happy result, and agreeing in every essential point, be disunited on this, or in any way use expressions that may damp any effort made for the salvation of either Jew or Gentile? Let us remember that Jerusalem of old, just before its destruction, was full of parties raging against each other. May our spiritual Jerusalem take the instructive warning!

* The remarkable and lengthened delay of God's gracious purposes respecting the Jews, often but yet obscurely intimated in their seven times punishment, (Lev. xxvi.) and the seven times of the Gentile monarchies, (Dan. iv.) in the seventy weeks, and the determined desolation of Dan. ix. 24–27, and the 2,300 days of the complete cleansing of the sanctuary, (Dan. viii. 14) is calculated greatly to exercise the faith and disappoint the hopes to which the clear promises of God's word lead us respecting that nation. This tendency of the delay is met by the strongest expressions, in the whole scripture, of God's faithfulness to his promises, tenderness, and compassion to the Jews, and the exceeding depth of his purposes in it. Isaiah and Jeremiah especially abound with these statements. Isaiah xl. 27, 28. xlix. 14–16. lxii. 1. Jer. xvi. 14, 15. xxx. 17, 18. Rom. xi. 25–36. Where there is a great and lasting good to be produced, a long previous preparation is required. The humiliation and conviction for sin must be deep and lengthened, where the righteousness is to be so bright, and the salvation as a lamp that burneth. Isaiah lxii. 1. Four hundred years of depression and bondage prepared the way for their first conquest of Canaan, and their being the depositaries of God's truth for the world; between two and three thousand years of dispersion and judgment prepare the way for their permanent possession of the land of Canaan, and their being the living and constant exhibition of a righteous nation to glorify God and bless the whole earth. Isa. 1x. 21. xxvi. 2. Besides the elect remnant gathering from the literal Israel, from age to age, there is a vast election gathering also from the Gentile nations, all of whom are one in Christ Jesus. When Israel is restored, and when the saints are gathered together, and the heavenly Jerusalem is completed, and the Saviour returns in the glory of his Father, how triumphant will be the song of the whole Jewish nation, surveying all the time of its widowhood, and finding that in that very time the Lord was gathering the materials of the full and everlasting glory promised to this nation. Thou shalt say in thine heart, Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children and am desolate, a captive and removing to and fro? And who hath brought up these? Behold I was left alone, these, where had they been? Oh how deep are the counsels of Jehovah, and how unsearchable the riches of his love!' Oh how full the comfort, after all their affliction, he has in store for the Jews! Ezek. xiv. 22, 23; Isaiah xl. 1, 2. How complete their satisfaction will be in all his wondrous dealings with them! Joel ii. 26; Jer. xxxi. 14–26. See the 2nd Sermon in the author's “Time to favour Zion."

One says, 'Christ will certainly come before the millennium;' another says, 'He will not come till after it be passed;' a third, •He will come without any millennium. The Author has expressed his own views, that our Lord will visibly appear before the millennium; but those who see not this, agree that he will come, and come unexpectedly, and that we should be ready for his coming, and view it as a quickening motive to labours of love; we are all united in the practical issues which we desire, and let us bear and forbear with each other in love, till we see eye to eye. To abound in love toward one another, should be the effect of looking for the coming "of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.” i Thess. iii. 12. “Grudge not one against another, lest ye be condemned: behold the judge standeth at the door.” James v. 9. Oh let not our love to others be in any way proportioned to their reception of those prophetical views which we hold; but let it be an enlarged, pure, divine love, like our God's! And, especially, “if we are strong, we ought to bear the infirmities of the weak,” (Rom. xv. 1); to seek, indeed, like-mindedness, as the apostle sweetly prays, (Rom. xv. 5, 6); but to receive one another, notwithstanding our mutual ignorances and infirmities, “as Christ has received us to the glory of God.” Rom. xv. 7.

[340] Some of those who have taken up the subject of prophecy warmly and speculatively, have expressed themselves so confidently, with such sharpness and bitterness against others, with such assumption of superior wisdom, and such despising of those who have differed from them, as not only to pain their fellow-Christians, but to lead to much doubtful disputation, and excite great prejudices against the study of their favourite subject. Others have been ready to exclude from Christian communion, all who differed from their particular sentiments, and to admit at once to Christian fellowship, as partakers of

all who concurred with them. These great errors are carefully to be guarded against by the true Christian. They are very injurious, and corrupt “the mind from the simplicity that is in Christ.” 2 Cor. xi. 3. How important is it ever to

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divine grace,

remember—“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal: and though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” i Cor. xiii. 1, 2. Let us study the prophecies as Daniel did, with prostration, humiliation, and persevering prayer.

But let not these statements be misunderstood as if THE TRUTHS OF THE BIBLE were uncertain or doubtful: they ARE MOST CERTAIN. All differences of opinion shew our own darkness, and unbelief, and sinfulness—not the darkness of scripture. As Luther says, “It ought to be a first principle most firmly maintained among Christians, that the Holy Scriptures are a spiritual light far brighter than the sun, especially in those things which pertain to salvation, [341] or are necessary.

We must not let our charity so overflow bounds, as to part with truth.

«The wisdom of God is first pure and then peaceable. The exhortations to be like-minded, of one accord, of one mind, are connected with the exhortation to have the same love, (Phil. ii. 2.) and the only way is to bring everything to the true test—God's word. John xii. 48; Ephes. We

may from this subject learn also the true USE OF PROPHECY. It is not primarily intended as a rule of duty.* Precepts are the rule of duty. Much less should prophecy ever be so interpreted as to interfere with plain duty. For instance, if any one should suppose from the predicted hardness of the Jews, that it was our duty not to endeavour to promote their conversion; or if any one should suppose, because the conversion of the Jews would be a blessing to the Gentiles, that therefore we should do nothing for the heathen till the Jews were converted, they would be equally wrong; for the precept, which is the rule of duty, is express, go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel To EVERY CREATURE.

But the use of prophecy is of another kind;-previously to the event, to raise general expectations, and thus quicken us to duty, excite our hopes, and stimulate our labours, and prove our faith, and strengthen us to endure present trials; and, subsequently to the event, to turn to us for a testimony, becoming an evidence of the divine inspiration of the Scriptures, which may confirm our own faith as to all that is yet to be accomplished, and suffi

* Not but that duty may be gathered from prophecy, as the Apostle gathered a command and a duty to turn to the Gentiles from the prediction, I have set thee to be a light to the Gentiles. Acts xiii. 47.

V. 13.



they may

they also

ciently answer all gainsayers, [342] and objectors to their just claim to the title of the word of God.

Therefore let us not be restrained or cooled in the support of such a blessed cause, as promoting the conversion of immortal souls, by any private and questionable views of unfulfilled prophecy; it rests on plain and positive precept: and on those broad, solid, and effective grounds which cannot be shaken, and on which Christians are generally agreed. The ultimate success of the whole work is certain, and the present duties are plain and obvious. He who neglects caring for either Jew or Gentile, neglects a plain duty and a blessed privilege.

Let us seek to carry on every holy work in OUR SAVIOUR’S SPIRIT, and labour to save immortal souls in that union of heart for which he poured the affecting prayer—that

all be one, as thou Father art in me, and I in thee, that may

be one in US, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

This practical point is of immense moment. Oh that we may all carefully and habitually maintain the spirit of love in all our discussions! The kingdom of the great enemy of God and man has been vigorously assailed, and he is doubtless watching to divide Christians, that he may weaken and impair their efforts. Let us not be ignorant of his devices. There is one all-important rule that we should constantly bear in mind -Whereunto ye have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. This will lead us rather to dwell on those things in which Christians unite, than to press our particular sentiments, if those sentiments are allowedly of inferior moment. We should hail, and help, and rejoice in each other's hopes and labours and [343] success in the salvation of Jew and Greek, even as the apostle presses the prophetical exhortation-Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. Rom. xv. 10.

Not that the subject of prophecy should not be fully discussed, or that those who have studied the subject with care and attention should not state their sentiments freely, and firmly, and at length; only let it be with humility and brotherly love, of which we have seen in our days many delightful examples. Far be it from any to repress a full and free investigation of prophecy in a right spirit. In guarding against one evil, we should not fall into another. Such writers as Mede, Sir Isaac Newton, Bishop Newton, Hurd, Lowth, Woodhouse, and others, with Davison, Keith, Faber, Cuninghame, and many other living authors, have done much, notwithstanding some lesser mistakes which here seem inevitable, to elucidate this deep subject. It is greatly to be regretted that in some of those writers, whose powers of mind and genius and research are admirable, we find not that devotion, meekness, and spi

rituality, and those gracious affections, which are peculiarly needful for the discovery of the divine mind. Even those who have allowedly fallen into great mistakes, have yet cleared up some things: and there is no writer of eminence who has not shed some important light on its difficulties. Let, then, the whole range of prophecy be canvassed; let mind, and research, and piety, be cast into it: and thus many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. Dan. xii. 4. We may justly expect, as we draw nearer the grand events which are before the church, that there will be more light beaming on its future hopes and prospects.

[344] Let the Holy Scriptures therefore be searched diligently respecting this, as well as every other part of their invaluable contents; especially is it to be desired that the original scripture should be more generally studied and understood. Sacred criticism, modestly advanced, with competent knowledge, is far from being injurious to the cause of truth; and we owe much to those learned men who have thus removed difficulties by which the sacred writings had been long needlessly obscured.

Nor must we forbear here earnestly to press the great importance of fervent and persevering prayer for the Spirit of divine wisdom, the anointing which teacheth us all things. We press this, not because we can expect any direct inspiration to discover to us the future purposes of the Almighty, but because fervent prayer will keep far from us all dogmatism, pride, and fancied superior wisdom and knowledge: fervent prayer will produce that humble waiting state of mind which God delights to bless; fervent prayer will obtain the gift of the Holy Spirit to remove our prejudices, and will make us willing to see, embrace, and profess the truth, however contrary to our former sentiments; fervent prayer will keep alive in us a cordial interest for the whole cause of Christ, with a jealous fear of being biased by a favourite part; and with such tempers and dispositions we shall doubtless be preserved from any material


The interpretation of prophecy is a subject, therefore, that should not be lightly entered upon, lest, instead of shewing what is really the mind of the Lord, we put our own mind in its place, and either add to, or take from his word. Especially when our [345] sentiments contradict the general opinion of the main body of Christians through successive ages, it becomes still more incumbent on us not to advance and press our particular opinions but with great caution and diffidence.

Another suggestion may be allowed the writer, while asserting the duty of confessing important truth. In our efforts to

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