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word of God does not give an account. This is often immediately connected with it; like a key tied by a string, close to the lock, that you may have every help for the interpretation; at other times it is given in other parts of the scripture. The New Testament frequently also furnishes a divinely inspired interpretation to the Old Testament prophecies. (See Isaiah lxi. i, 2, and Luke iv. 21.) This will give you not only a clear guide to such prophecies, but a help to the right interpretation of similar predictions. It is a just remark of Mr. Allix: —“The later prophets having always added some new light to those who prophesied before them, it is a good and sure method to expound the old ones by the new, who illustrate the thoughts of those who went before them, and who lay them open in a larger view and brightness. Thus, for example, we find the right sense of several [19] Psalms concerning the return of the Jews from the captivity at the second coming of the Messiah, by what is said in Isaiah, chapter xii. wherein he gives the sense of several Psalms."*

7. NOTE, AS ACCURATELY AS YOU CAN, THE LINE BETWEEN WHAT HAS BEEN FULFILLED AND WHAT HAS NOT. If we do not this, we may weaken the strong clear evidence of divine inspiration from fulfilled prophecy. Yet distant events are so intermingled in almost all the prophecies, as to require careful caution and discrimination in the application of this rule. The passage

which our Lord read from Isaiah lxi. 1, 2, in the synagogue at Nazareth, Luke iv. 16–21, is a striking lesson. He read just as far as it had been fulfilled, and then closed the book, and said, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears; what follows in Isaiah, The day of vengeance of our God, had not then arrived. It is a remark of Irenæus, very useful to keep in view, though too generally and strongly expressed, “All prophecies before they are fulfilled, are enigmas and ambiguous to men; but when the time arrives, and the event predicted is accomplished, then they have a clear and certain exposition." This princi

This principle may be extended to the whole scheme of prophecy, which will, indeed, not be fully developed, till God's purposes are accomplished in the events foretold.

The PARTICULAR explanation of UNFULFILLED prophecy, is either not to be attempted, or stated with the greatest humility. The GENERAL meaning may be clear, when we go quite beyond our province in attempting to point out the particular mode of its [20] fulfilment. Let us rather attain Habakkuk's spirit, I will watch to see what he will say unto me. (Hab. ii. 1.) 8. ATTEND TO THE PROPHETIC MEANING OF THE PSALMS AND PARABLES. We have been so accustomed to use them merely for devotional, practical, and moral purposes as almost to lose sight of their character as prophecies, full of the experience of Christ, and the glories of his kingdom. Mr. Allix says, “I am persuaded that the book of Psalms has in it a greater number of prophecies than any book of the Old Testament. There are well nigh fifty Psalms quoted several times in the New Testament which shows how properly our Lord made use of that book to instruct his disciples that he was the Christ. (Luke xxiv. 44.) It is therefore with great reason that the book of Psalms is, and has been constantly read in public by the church, there being no one in the Old Testament where the faithful may find so much comfort, and so high raptures of devotion, as those with which the Holy Spirit moved David and his fellow prophets concerning the redemption of mankind, and the different stages through which the church, the mystical body of Christ, was to pass before she came to everlasting glory.

* See Allix on the Psalms, p. 25.

"I am persuaded," continues Mr. Allix, "that it is not at all possible to understand them unless one has always an eye to the various conditions of the church. (1.) As it consisted of the Jewish nation till the coming of Christ. (2.) As composed chiefly of the Gentiles since Christ's coming. (3.) As being persecuted both under the Roman empire, and under the kingdom of Antichrist. (4.) As intended to be delivered from that oppression by our Saviour's [21] second.coming. (5.) As it shall be formed anew by the conversion of the Jews to the gospel. (6.) As it shall be augmented by the general conversion of all the nations who have not yet owned Christ for the true Messiah. (7.) As being governed during a long time, viz. ten centuries, by Christ. (8.) As it shall be attacked by Satan when he shall be loosed in the latter days, after which the final judgment is to follow.” It adds much indeed to the power and blessedness of the Psalms to view them as they may so largely and properly be viewed, as the words of Christ, touched with a feeling of our infirmities.

Many of the PARABLES of our Lord are most important prophecies. The remarks of Mr. Greswell respecting this point, in his valuable work on the Parables are instructive. He distinguishes them into two classes, (1.) moral parabolic examples, and (2.) allegorical prophetical histories. Of the latter he enumerates these:

1. The sower, Mat. xii.
2. The tares, Mat. xiii.
3. The seed growing, Mark iv. 26.
4. The mustard seed, Mat. xiii.

5. The leaven, Mat. xiii.
6. The hidden treasure, Mat. xiii.
7. The pearl, Mat. xiii.
8. The draw-net, Mat. xiii.

9. The good shepherd, John x. 15. The labourers, Mat. xx. 10. The servants waiting, Luke xii. 16. The pounds, Luke xix. 36.

17. The wicked husbandman, Mat. 11. The Steward, Luke xii. 42.

xxi. 33. 12. The barren fig-tree, Luke xiii. 18. The wedding garment, Mat:xxii. 13. The great supper, Luke xiv. 19. The ins, Mat. xxv. 14. The prodigal, Luke xv.

20. The talents, Mat. xxv.

These he considers historical and prophetical vehicles of facts, rather than doctrines, and that in all these there is either clear or presumptive indication of their being in general allegories, and each in particular prophecies, and that it is a farther confirmation of this truth, that to ten of the number recorded by Matthew and Mark, the phrase "the kingdom of God,' [22] or "heaven is like,' is prefixed, and that to the 13th and 16th, recorded by St. Luke, it is virtually prefixed. The subject matter of the parables consists of a series of prophecies; the mysteries or secrets of the kingdom of God; the concealment of which for a time was wise and necessary. (Mark iv. 11, 12.) The great danger in such views of the parables is lest our mind should be diverted from the all-important personal application in our search after a supposed prophetical meaning. Let the reader be on his guard against this.*

9. STUDY AND COMPARE THE BEST INTERPRETERS OF PROPHECY. Sir Isaac Newton said most justly, that among the interpreters of the last age, there was scarcely one of note who had not made some discovery worth knowing, and this observation is true to the present day. This may much encourage searching books of an established character on this subject, [23] and comparing different opinions and systems, you will see, indeed, more of the difficulties, but you will have more materials for forming your own judgment. Only it is needful to remember that there is a broad difference between a human interpretation, and an inspired prophecy. What is the chaff to the wheat? The prophecy will stand for ever, and become brighter and clearer as years roll on, the human interpretation may be weakened or confirmed, strengthened and increased, or overthrown, just as it accords with the infallible mind of God. This is eminently true in the interpretation of mystical numbers, and their commencement and termination.

* There are some remarks on our Lord's seven parables, Matt. xiii. (as descriptive of a connected series, indicating progressively the several stages of advancement of the mystical kingdom of Christ)

in the words of Alexander Knox just published. See vol. i. p. 407–426. These views may be considered in connexion with those sentiments of prophetical writers, like Cocceius, Gurtler, Vitringa, and Venema, who have regarded the history of the Christian under seven periods, and the epistles to the seven churches as descriptive of these periods. Mr. Knox considers (1.) The parable of the sower as described in the commencement. (2.) The tares, the mixed state of the church. (3.). The mustard seed grown into a tree, its expanded state. (4.) The leaven, the hidden state of piety in the darker ages. (5.) The treasure hid in the field, the varied awakenings with its accidental adjuncts. (6.) The pearl, vital Christianity in its purity: (7.) The net, like the seventh seal and the seventh trumpet, marking the final close. Without entirely concurring in the view, and especially in the particular illustrations of it as given by different writers, the author submits it to the consideration of the diligent student of scripture. Mr. Knox gives some interesting illustrations of these parables. He is an original writer; but with some fanciful things on Justification: the reader, who is disposed to be carried away by Mr. Knox's genius, learning, and piety, would do well to consult Bishop Barlow's Letters.

However desirable it is first to study the simple word itself, yet to expect to understand the more difficult parts of prophecy by our own meditations on them, without the help of others, is a vain thing. The Ethiopian Eunuch needed a Philip to understand the prophecy respecting Christ's first coming; and we need the aid of the lengthened and patient studies of learned and pious men, as well as our own deep meditations, to understand the predictions of his second coming. Such men have not laboured, prayed, and written in vain.

But do not make a mistake on the other side. It must not be imagined, from the long list of books at the end of this Treatise, that such an extended study of human writings is requisite to a right understanding and use of the prophecies in general, much less of any part of them. It is convenient to have such a list, and it may assist in pointing out works to those pursuing any particular branch of this study; but it is by no means necessary, in order to read the prophecies with advantage, to have such an [24] apparatus. They who keep the mystery of faith, in a pure mind and conscience, and, with holy purposes, humbly set about the meditation and search of this word, may, though not learned in human knowledge, draw from it necessary instruction, moral discipline, comforting hope, and assured faith. They will every where meet the testimony of Jesus, nor can they overlook those prophecies which describe his person, character, history, kingdom, and its privileges. And if they attain not all the meaning of other prophecies, and cannot demonstrate their fulfilment from history, they may yet collect from them, general statements for their edification, nor will they doubt of their fulfilment; thus all kinds and degrees of men believing and loving the name and word of God, may receive solid advantage from reading the prophetic word. 10. ATTAIN HISTORICAL KNOWLEDGE.

This is not so difficult with regard to the interpretation of prophecy as might be imagined. The historical knowledge here wanted, is not the history of the human race (though that is glanced at and comprehended), but the history of nations connected with the

church of God. Dean Woodhouse observes:-“When the people of God were to become subservient to the four universal monarchies, the character and succession and fates of these monarchies were predicted; but the main object, continually kept in view, was their deliverance from these successive yokes by the superseding dominion of the Messiah. This supreme and universal dominion gradually and finally to prevail, appears to be the grand object of all sacred prophecy; and revolutions of worldly power among the gentiles, seem to be no. ticed only at those times when they impede or promote it.” Historical knowledge, therefore, [25] is not of importance to that extent which some imagine, and which would render it impossible for an unlearned Christian to pretend to know the meaning of plain predictions in the Bible. Prophecy deals not in minute and recondite things, but in large, broad, comprehensive features. A comparatively slight knowledge of history, such as Josephus, Milner, Mosheim, Fox, Prideaux's Connection, Rollin, Gibbon, a history of the Jews, of Turkey and Modern Europe, and of the French Revolution, furnish, will go a great way in throwing historical light on the word of prophecy. It is a remarkable Providence that the infidel historian Gibbon should furnish the chief historical light to interpret the books of Daniel and Revelation.*

Prophecy is the narration of things to be done, history that of things done: prophecy cannot therefore be complete without history, for its fulfilment must be sought in history; history is not only the light of the times, but the light of prophecy. But still it should not be supposed that no one can read the prophetic word profitably, unless accurately instructed in history. This is the attainment of very few, and if so, few would attain the advantage of the study of prophecy, and this most noble study would be confined in a narrow compass.

It is sufficient, therefore, for ordinary students to have some more compendious knowledge of the greater changes which have happened in the state of the world, and especially of the church. But in a public interpreter of the prophetic word, a more accurate knowledge of [26] history and greater skill is required.f Geographical knowledge should be added to Histori

* Mr. Davis published an examination of part of Gibbon's History, and a reply to his Vindication, 8vo. 1778-9. See also Bishop Watson's Apology for Christianity.

+ There is in some of the modern expositions of the books of Daniel and the Revelation, a mass of historical and ecclesiastical information, that repays the perusal of those expositions, though it be too often misapplied to the particular prophecy. But it is to be regretted that there is no little manual of history, (as far as the author knows) something on the plan and scale of Edward's History of Redemption, or Bossuet's Universal History, for the express purpose of illustrating prophecy. In such a history, illustrating prophecy as is here

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