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and lift up
were some of the signs by which they might mark the time when they were to “ look up, their heads;" for that their redemption was drawing nigh.
We have good hope that, through the blessing of God, the Lectures, of which the present volume forms the sixth series, have not been without benefit to the Church in this respect. And this has been one of the consequences resulting from the fact, that while there are those who hold opinions totally at variance from the doctrine of the premillennial advent of our Lord, the instruction conveyed throughout these Lectures has always been based upon the system of literal interpretation by which that doctrine stands forth clearly deduced from various portions of the Divine Word. It may not, perhaps, have been systematically stated as a proposition to be proved against the arguments of opposers, but it has been uniformly assumed as the platform of truth upon which the whole instruction has been set forth. Those who hold the contrary opinion have either refused to listen to our instruction, or must, for the time, have allowed the doctrine, that the Lord Jesus will come again from heaven, in order to establish his kingdom upon earth, to stand as a postulate in the argument. Many who have done this in listening to us have been led to discern it as a scriptural truth, though it has not been the primary matter treated of: and one result has been, that a large amount of scriptural detail has been brought forward in such a connexion, that as the tide of history flows on and deposits the record of events, the very counterpart of those with which the mind has become familiar in contemplating the prophetical warnings treated of in these Lectures, the prepared mind makes less resistance, at least, to the gracious whisperings of the Spirit within, which would call attention to the announcement of the Lord, “Behold, I come as a thief: blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments."
This effect of the consideration of these details may be operating upon the minds of many who may be unconscious of the influence, and who are yet moved to a lively anticipation of great events to follow upon the recent sudden breaking-up of all the settled institutions on the Continent of Europe in its length and breadth, with the exception, indeed, of the great northern power. We would invite all such to search with renewed diligence and care into that “more sure word of prophecy," whereunto, it is said, that they would do well to take heed, “as unto a light that shineth in a dark place until the day dawn," not after the rising of the sun, whose glory in His rising it foretells. (2 Peter i. 19.) We say this the more emphatically, because it has always been one of the points objected to in the system of interpretation upon which these Lectures have been given, that it leads to such a statement of particulars as seems hazardous, at the least, and in which many differences of opinion exist amongst students of the same school-differences of opinion which have been used illogically as an argument against the principle of the premillennial advent, although they regard only the details which involve no inconsistency with the general principle, on which there is no difference. The times are developing facts which, if they be signs of the Lord's coming, must be seen to correspond with certain predictions in which the detail of facts must be traceable, or they could not have the effect of giving the warning intended by the Lord for his Church. It becomes, therefore, important to point out the beneficial result of the consideration of such details of prophecy as have formed many of the subjects treated of in the Lectures ; and perhaps it may be useful to justify the course thus pursued by a reference to the scriptural warrant which, however disregarded by those who differ from us on the rule of interpretation, have appeared to ourselves to make it a duty to search diligently and teach fully all that the Holy Spirit has written in reference to the details of the events connected in any way with the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven.
It was not only from the Pharisees and the Sadducees that our Lord expected such a knowledge as would enable them to judge of the signs of the times in which the Messiah was to come in the flesh by the ordinary exercise of the power of reasoning—such as guided them in discerning the state of the weather (Matt. xvi. 1–3), he reproved those also who had learned so much of him and his doctrine as to become his disciples, for their ignorance of those details, the knowledge of which they might have possessed, and if they had possessed it they would have been preserved thereby from whatever consequences resulted from their disappointment at his unexpected death. Cleopas and his companion were not only Jews who knew the Scriptures of the Old Testament, but they had received Jesus as the Messiah, Their notions, however, of the character and circumstances of the Messiah were vague and incorrect. They knew that he was to redeem Israel, but their conception of that redemption was not such as to prepare them for its occur
The circumstances actually happening were so contrary to their expectations, that instead of confirming them in the conviction that Jesus was the Messiah, those events served to shake previous faith. This arose from their entire neglect of the details of prophetic announcement; and for this neglect the Lord Jesus reproved them: “O fools, and slow of heart, to believe all that the prophets have spoken.” The connexion in which this reproof stands, evidently shows that the emphasis must be placed on the word all. The two disciples had not been slow to believe the prophets as regarded these general statements, that One should come who should redeem Israel; for the sadness of their disappointment arose from their anxious expectation that Jesus had been He of whom they could only have heard from the prophets; and their disappointment would have been in proportion to their belief. But having believed the prophets so far as the general doctrine of an expected Messiah was concerned, they were “slow of heart to believe all” that had been spoken by those prophets in detail with reference to the circumstances of his coming in the flesh.