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mon discourse he thinks little likely condemnable in the expositor of enig. to tempt the ingenuity of visionaries;

matical prophecy : and that, not merely and therefore, to our great regret,

because the events so predicted rest under

the awful veil of futurity, and exist only he excludes them from consideration.

in the prescience of the Deity ; but beFor we are of opinion, that some of cause the chosen style of the communicathe least symbolical of all the pro- tion lays a distinct claim to modesty, and phecies have been as grossly abused

demands suspension of judgment. The by visionary modes of interpretation,

use of symbols speaks a design of concealas the most intricate and involved

ment; and do we suppose, that what God

has hidden, the sagacity of man shall dispassages of the Apocalypse. These

In issuing the prediction, He mystical or symbolical prophecies does indeed invite the humble inquiries of he presumes are constructed upon

the Church ; and in using symbols which the principles of the ancient enigma, clew to learned research ; and yet by the

have a conventional meaning He gives a in which the chief subject is at once

combination of these symbols into the held forth and concealed : thus

enigmatic form, an articulate warning is serving (or intended to serve, as he issued against all dogmatical confidence of thinks) the threefold purpose of interpretation.” Pp. 113–115. presenting a blind to the incurious, There is nothing in this statement a trap to the dogmatical, and an ex- from which we dissent; we rather ercise of modesty, of patience, and object to it from its incompleteness : of sagacity to the wise.”

for it would leave an inconsiderate

reader under the impression, that no It will by no means follow that a

prophecy, conveyed in the symbolical symbolical prediction, which remains unfulfilled, ought not to be made the subject form, can after all be relied upon of investigation ; for as the description with any practical usefulness, beyond doubtless contains, by condensation, the the moral precepts embossed upon substance of the unknown reality, and or interwoven with it. We deperhaps also much of its character, it

precate what may with propriety be may, even when mingled with erroneous interpretations, serve important purposes

called dogmatism on any subject; in the excitement of pious hope. The and we fully admit the great caution delivery of these enigmas into the hands and modesty required in the explicaof the Church, and their intricate inter- tion of symbolical Scriptures in parmixture with fulfilled prophecies, and ticular : but it does not unfrequently their being every where embossed with attractive lessons of piety and virtuem

happen, that the clew to such pronot to mention the explicit invitation to phecies exists, either in the prophecy read and study them, may confidently be itself, or in the writings of the other deemed to convey a full license of ex- prophets, who treat of the same well-known laws of the peculiar style in subject in such a mode as clearly to which the predictions are enveloped, sug- designate what is intended. The gest restrictions and cautions which matter will still appear involved in no humble and pious expositor mystery to the indolent; and thus overlook."

continue, like the parables, to prove The expositor therefore who pre- a blind to such, as having eyes see sumptuously espouses any one of the several interpretations of which an enig- not: but by him who will patiently matical prophecy is susceptible, and who

sit down and compare Scripture with fondly claims for it a positive and exclusive Scripture, and like Daniel set his preference, sins most flagrantly, and most face to understand with fasting and outrageously, against the unalterable laws

prayer, an interpretation may at of the language of which he professes him

least be elicited, which to use the self a master. If dogmatism on matters not fully revealed be in all cases blame

words of this author) though worthy, it is eminently and especially ' not altogether unexceptionable or

can

' wholly free from difficulties, will lypse and the newspaper, that his

firmly secure the approval of every piety must be spurious. It arises, ' unprejudiced and intelligent in- as before hinted, from his endea

quirer.' It must be remembered vouring to illustrate his point by likewise, that some prophecies are particular cases, instead of drawing avowedly sealed until a certain period a clear and precise line of demarcashall arrive ; and therefore persons

tion between enthusiasm and genuliving in a previous age, although ine religion: and thus any thing, they search what the Spirit of Christ which does not accord with his own doth testify by them, will not be perceptions, is at once stigmatized, able to comprehend it: but when as from beneath. that generation shall arrive, for In regard to Newspapers, the Auwhom it was written, it will doubt thor seems to forget the altered cirless be given unto them to know cumstances of the age in which we this mystery of the kingdom of God. live. There were no newspapers in Our objection to the statement, as it the times of the apostles and the prois, will be further seen, in the ob- phets; but that which forms the subservations which we shall offer on stance of a newspaper-the report of the two succeeding extracts.

daily and passing events—was neverThe adoption of an exclusive theory theless equally a matter of interest. of exposition will not fail to be followed Let us suppose however, that at the by an attempt to attach the special marks time when Titus was marching aof prophecy to every passing event; and it is this attempt that sets enthusiasm in gainst Jerusalem, political and milia flame ; for it belongs, in common to all tary movements had been then an. the religious vices, that, though mild and nounced by newspapers : would it harmless while roaming at large among have been more improper for the remote or invisible objects, they assume a christians (who then had their eyes noxious activity the moment they fix their intensely fixed upon our Lord's prograsp upon things near and tangible. There is scarcely any degree of sobriety phecy in Matthew xxiv, and on passof temper which can secure the mind ing events) to have heeded those against fanatical restlessness, when once events, had they been officially stated the habit has been formed of daily col- in a printed bulletin, than resting, lating the newspaper and the prophets :

as they must frequently have done, and the man who, with feeble judgment and an excitable imagination, is constantly upon questionable rumors and recatching at political intelligence-Apoca- ports ?. Their safety depended upon lypse in hand-walks on the verge of in- comparing the prophecy with the sanity—or worse, of infidelity. In this signs exhibited on the political hofeverish state of the feelings mundane in

rizon; and would it have been just terests, under the guise of faith and hope,

to have stigmatized them in such a occupy the soul to the exclusion of things unseen and eternal :' meanwhile the heart- case, as men of “ feeble judgment affecting matters of piety and virtue be

and excitable imagination, catching come vapid to the taste, and gradually fall at political intelligence-gospel in into forgetfulness." P. 115.

hand-walking on the verge of This passage neutralizes its use- insanity and infidelity ?” Did not fulness by its extravagance. It is not the generation living at the time of character that is depicted but cari- the first advent of our Lord, fall un

It is quite unworthy of the der rebuke, because they discerned spirit in which this writer generally not the signs of the times;-i.e. beexpresses himself, to conclude, that cause they did not compare the prowhen a man unites in his propheti- phecies, with the events transpiring cal studies a reference to the Apoca- around them ? And is not the

cature.

P

generation, which shall be living at not be thought to be absolutely shut up the period of our Lord's second

from research ; yet, as by the mode of advent, equally warned to be ob

their combination, they became suscepti

ble of considerable diversity of interpreservant of these events, in those

tation, the wise and good might, after all words—" When ye see these things their diligence, differ in opinion as to the

begin to come to pass, then lift up precise moment of accomplishment. Thus your heads, for your redemption was devout inquiry at once invited and • draweth nigh”? If it be not

restrained-invited, because the language

of prediction was not unknown ; and reimproper to compare prophecy with

strained, because it asked for interpretation history, so neither is it wrong to and admitted diversity of opinion. Those collate the newspaper and the

the pious persons, therefore, who, at the time prophets. Like everything else,

of the Messiah's birth, were looking for

the consolation of Israel,' could not, unit may be carried to excess and become a mania; but still, of passing affirm—this is the very year of expected

less favoured with personal revelations, events we have commonly no other deliverance ;'--for the symbolic chronolonarrative; and the same incidents gy might, with an appearance of reason,

bear a somewhat different sense.

Yet which are first presented in the diurnal column, are afterwards con

might such persons, though not perfectly densed on the historic page.

agreed in opinion, lawfully and safely join The

in an exulting hope, that the time spoken one is the chronicle for days and of was not far distant, when the Son of weeks; the other is the other is the chronicle

David should appear. for years and centuries.

The same rule is applicable to the posi

tion of the church at the present moment. “ The fault of the dogmatical expositor No one, it may be affirmed, can have of prophecy is especially manifested when given due attention to the questions which he assumes to determine the chronology of have of late been so much agitated, without unfulfilled predictions. In the instance of feeling compelled to acknowledge, that a prophetic dates the different lines of con- high degree of probability supports the duct suggested by the different styles of belief of an approaching extraordinary dethe communication, are readily perceived, velopment of the mystery of providence and cheerfully observed by calm and mo- towards Christendom, and perhaps todest interpreters. We may take, for il- wards the whole family of man:

That lustration, the predicted duration of the this probability is strong, might be argued captivity of Judah, which was made known from the fact that it has wrought a geneby Jeremiah (xxix, 10) in the intelligible ral concurrence of belief among those terms of popular computation ; nor could whose modes of thinking on most subjects the supposition of a symbolic sense of the are extremely dissimilar. Christians, amid words be admitted by any sober expositor. many contrarieties of opinion, are, with a On the authority of this unequivocal pre- tacit or an explicit expectation, looking diction, Daniel, as the time spoken of for movement and progression, to be efdrew near, made confession and supplica- fected, either by a quickened energy of tion in the full assurance of warranted existing means, or by the sudden operafaith. In this confidence there was no tion of new causes. This probable opinion presumption, for his persuasion rested- if held in the spirit of christian modesty not on the assumed validity of this or of affords, under the sanction of the coolest that ingenious interpretation of symbols ; reason, a new and strong excitement to but upon an explicit declaration, which religious hope. He who entertains it may needed only to be read, not expounded. exultingly, yet calmly exclaim, “The night

But when the beloved seer received from is far spent, the day is at hand;' and the his celestial informant the date of seventy kindling expectation will rouse him to weeks, which should fix the period of the greater diligence in every good work, to Messiah's advent and propitiatory suffer- greater watchfulness against every defileings, the employment of symbolic terms, ment of heart, and frivolity of spirit, and of itself announced the double intention inconsistency of conduct: he will strive, of at once revealing the time and of con- with holy wakefulness, to live as the discealing it. For as the terms, though my- ciple should who is waiting for his Lord.' thic, bore a known import, they could Thus far he can justify the new vivacity of

ence.

his hopes upon the ground of the perma- infidelity ; to be lost beyond recovery, if nent hopes of religion ; for he feels no- not redeemed on a day specified by the thing more than a christian may well al- fanatic for the verification of his word !!! ways feel; and the opinion he entertains Pp. 116-120. relative to the near accomplishment of ultimate prophecy, serves only as an in

We agree in the preceding re citement to a state of mind in which he marks, presuming the meaning of would fain be found, if called suddenly our Author to be, that the times and from the present scene.

While giving free admission to sentiments of this sort,

seasons may be known, (1 Thess. V, he knows that, though he should be mis

1, 2,) and that what he deprecates taken in his theoretical premises, he shall is--authoritative determinations of certainly be right in his practical infer. the exact day, or even year, of an

event. One thing however must be But if the discreet christian is tempted remembered, which apparently esor solicited to admit an incongruous jumble of political speculations and christian capes the notice of the Author : viz. hopes ; if he is called upon to detach in that, to assist us in our inquiries any degree his attention from immediate respecting the dates and chronology and unquestionable duties, and to fix his

of Scripture, we enjoy means sumeditations on objects that have no connexion with his personal responsibility, before the first

perior to those possessed by believers

before the first advent. Admitting then he will check such an intrusion of turbulence and distraction, the tendency the seventy weeks of Daniel were of of which he feels to be pernicious, by re- an enigmatical character, and that collecting that his opinion, how probable a doubt might therefore be attached soever it may seem, is, at the best, nothing

to their import; yet has that advent more than one hypothesis among the many, which offer themselves in explanation of

itself fixed their meaning to sucan enigmatical prediction. To-day this ceeding ages. We cannot be at a hypothesis pleases him by its plausibility; loss to know, that a prophetical day to-morrow he may reject it on better signifies a year, now that we have information.

seen that the weeks of Daniel just Nothing then can be much more precise than the line which forms the boundary

included as many years as days. between a legitimate and an enthusiastic Neither can

Neither can we reasonably doubt feeling on the subject of prophecy. Is a the meaning of a time, times, and prediction couched in symbol? Is it half a time ; since we now possess a entangled among perplexing anachronisms? Is it studded with points of special re

seven-fold mention of that period, We then recognize the hand of variously expressed, by a comparison heaven in the art of its construction; and of which the meaning may be clearly we know that it is so moulded as to admit established: though we are aware and invite the manifold diversities of in

that the ingenuity of man will find genious explication, and that therefore, occasion to deny any truth, and has even the true explication must, until the day of solution, stand undistinguished before now contended, that snow is in a crowd of plausible errors.

But for a

black. Besides this, the very errors man to proclaim himself the champion of of believers in former times enable a particular hypothesis, and to employ it us to steer our course amidst rocks as he might an explicit prediction, is to and shoals with greater safety; affront the Spirit of prophecy by contemning the chosen style of His announce

even as the Author in another place ments. And what shall be said of the

himself remarks, that with the audacity of him, who, with no other com- * mistakes of our predecessors before mission in his hand than such as any man us for our warning, and with a may please to frame for himself, usurps the awful style of the seer, pronounces the

highly improved state of biblical doom of nations, hurls thunders at thrones,

' learning for our aid, it may fairly and worse than this-puts the credit of

• be anticipated, that a devout and christianity at pawn in the hands of in- industrious reconsideration of the

ference ?

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• evidence of Scripture will achieve those things, which he merely warns

some important improvements in men are foredoomed of God. It is · the Church on these difficult and profane infidelity which complains ' obscure subjects.” P. 122. of the bigotry and uncharitableness

We must further observe, that of the preacher, in that he takes when we profess to concur in the upon him to send men to hell ; last passage of the former extract, it whereas in fact the preacher does is with the full understanding, that but warn them, “ that the wrath of the individual denounced as a fanatic, God is revealed from heaven against when declaring the doom of nations, all ungodliness and unrighteousness does so “ with no other commission of men.' • in his hand, than such as any man

We need not here undertake to may please to frame for himself.” refute a passage in the last page of We must not be entrapped into an this section, commencing—“ It is admission, that no prophetical Scrip- 'evident to every calm mind, that ture is to be authoritatively applied, the discussion of questions conbecause it is couched in symbolical ‘fessedly so obscure, and upon which phraseology. Not only great pro- the evidence of Scripture is limited, bability, but clear demonstration, and of uncertain explication, is may, in our opinion, sometimes ac- absolutely improper to the pulpit.” company the interpretation of such Our sentiments on this head have prophecies; and the Church may be been stated in page 9 of our first justly chargeable with timidity or Number. The Apocalypse is conindifference, if she remain silent, fessedly the most obscure of the when she sees the sword coming. books of Scripture; yet of this book Let us take an instance. Is not the it is written—« Blessed is he that prophecy concerning “Babylon the readeth, and they that hear the great, the mother of harlots, &c.” words of this prophecy.” Our Auenigmatical, and clothed throughout thor forgets, that the whole miniswith highly wrought materials of tration of the Old Testament was symbolic texture ? Yet, when we

Yet, when we chiefly prophetical in its character, are informed, in the very chapter and that its symbols were often set which contains the description, that forth in the persons of men, who

the woman is that great city enacted their enigmatical and mys' which reigneth over the kings of terious doings before the people : · the earth,”—and when we know witness Ezekiel, who was made a that no city, excepting Rome, ever sign; and others whom we need not has ruled the nations from the days stop to instance. of John until now,-can a reasonable On the whole we do not from the doubt be entertained, that Rome is perusal of this section feel that clear the harlot and Babylon of Scripture ? conviction, as to the real character --and is it not the duty of the of enthusiasm in prophetical inchristian, upon this warrant, to warn terpretation, which the Author imaher that her destruction is at hand; gines he has pointed out. The and to cry to the elect remnant principal feature which he dwells within her, Come out of her my upon is dogmatism; which, though people ?' We trust, that our Au- a prominent evil in the constitution thor, when he rebukes the enthusiast of some, is nevertheless

distinct for “ hurling thunder at thrones,” from enthusiasm. Men are often does not fall into the vulgar error of from their natural temperament, or accusing him of actually dooming froman unmortified spirit, dogmatical

very

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