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I HAVE believed the signs of the times to be very interesting: and have wished that some able writer might succeed in opening and presenting, in a judicious and connected manner, the sacred Prophecies, which are receiving their fulfilment. Mr. Faber, I think, has succeeded better in this, than any other writer on the subject.
I am not insensible of the arduousness of this undertaking; and that some worthy men discountenance attempts to explain prophecies, till a long time after their fulfilment. Doubtless the prophecies generally will be more clearly understood, when they shall be viewed at a considerable distance
past. But this should not preclude our present attempts to form correct opinions relative to those which are not fulfilled: much less relative to the accomplishment of those, which are recently fulfilled; and of those, which are now in a train of fulfilment. The Jews were by our Lord reproved for not understanding the signs of the times; i. e. for not understanding the fulfilment of prophecies, then taking place before their eyes.
The prophecies were given, not only to evince the divine origin of Revelation, by being viewed af. ter their respective and evident fulfilment; but also to direct and animate the people of God in the prospect of, and during their fulfilment. But this implies our duty to study them, while the events which they predict are taking place, and while they are future. Accordingly, when the Revelation was made to St. John, it was prefaced with this admonition, Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things, which are written therein; for the time is at hand. Repeatedly is it given in charge, in the midst of some of the darkest prophecies; Let him, that readeth, under. stand. We read; None of the wicked shall under. stand, but the wise shall understand. They shall know the judgments of the Lord. Daniel previ. ously understood by books the return of the Jews from Babylon. This knowledge excited his prayer for the accomplishment of the event. Simeon, Anna, and others, who waited for the consolation of Israel, understood by prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah; and they discerned the accomplishment before their eyes, in the Babe of Bethlehem. We are told; The secret of the Lord is with them, that fear him: And; The Lord God will do nothing, but he will reveal it to his servants the prophets: Not by new revelations; but by leading to a correct investigation of those already given. All the directions given to the people of God, relative to the perilous times just preceding the Millennium,
clearly imply, that the Church will, at that day, understand the most interesting prophecies then to receive their fulfilment. There is therefore much encouragement to pray and study, that we may form correct views, in the light of prophecy, of the great events of our days.
The Church of Christ has been premonished respecting most of the signal events, in which she was to be much interested, in every age. In this the care and kindness of her divine Lord have ever appeared. And he has graciously so ordered, that his people should be led to form essentially correct views of the fulfilment of those premonitions. Shall the great events of this period of the world then be an exception to this general rule? Shall the events of our days, more interesting than any events of former ages, and which for more than twenty years have been alarming the world, and demonstrating the commencement of a new and important era, be supposed to be veiled in impenetrable mystery? It cannot be probable! Some of the most interesting prophecies of Revelation have recently received their accomplishment; which is leading on a train of events most important, and clearly predicted. And it must be important to Zion to be able rightly to view in the light of Divine prophecies, the present, and the subsequent designs of Providence.
Attempts to write upon the prophecies have been, in the estimation of some, brought into disrepute, by the failing of even able and good men, in their conjec. tures upon the subject; and especially by the injudi. ciousness and enthusiasm of others. But shall occa. sion be hence taken to neglect this important and useful part of the word of God?
The author of the following work is not insensi. ble of the perils of the times, and the delicacy of his subject, at such a day as this. Permit him once for all to protest, that he is not knowingly governed in the least, in any thing he has written, by the party interests of the day. He solemnly disclaims ev. ery such motive: And confidently appeals to all, who for about twenty years have known the tenor of his public ministry, and of his life, that he is no party man; nor did he ever attempt to figure in politics, What he has written, is written under a solemn con. viction of the infinite weight of evangelical truth; and of his accountability to God, as a minister of the Gospel. From an attempt to answer some questions publicly proposed, relative to the increasing fanaticism and Infidelity in our states, and the most potent remedies against them, my pages have gradually increased into a volume. I am indebted to Mr. Faber for my conviction, that the prophecies concerning Antichrist, instead of being exclusively applicable to the Romish hierarchy, designate an Atheistical Power of later date; and am indebted to him for finding in Dan. xi, 36,-a prediction of this Atheistical Power; and finding a fulfilment of it in the French nation. But this author wrote before the
government of France had assumed its Imperial form. There are striking traits of character in the above noted prophecy, and in various others, overlooked, or misapprehended by this celebrated author. On reading his application of the prediction in Dan. xi, 36,- to the French nation, I felt a difficulty from the seeming abruptness of such an application. But on consulting the preceding parts of the chapter in connexion with chapter 10th, and learning, as I apprehended, the object of the revealing Angel, I found my doubts removed, and my confidence in the correctness of the application of the passage to the French nation, established. With this clue I have endeavored to examine various other prophecies, which respect the same period, and some preceding, and subsequent periods; with what success, the reader will judge. I acknowledge many expositions given in this work are new; at least they are so to me; which has excited my fear and solemn attention in the investigation of the true sense of those passages. I have endeavored to consult and compare authors on this subject; and have long been in a habit of perusing them with some pleasure. But it will be seen that I have not been governed wholly by old opinions; but have endeavored to compare Scripture with Scripture, and to follow its most obvious and natural meaning. I have no other apology to make for presenting this Dissertation to the public, than the fact that several gentlemen whose judgment I venerate, have advised