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cal. Reland and Wells, with good scriptural maps, will be valuable helps to us.

11. KEEP IN VIEW THE GREAT END OF ALL PROPHECY, Christ JESUS. “To testify concerning Christ as the Messiah and Saviour of the world, was the one grand purpose of the Scripture Prophecies, to which other topics were only collateral and subordinate. Many of these relate to his personal character and office: others to the establishment and progress of his spiritual kingdom. Divines have accordingly arranged the prophecies concerning Christ under two general heads, dividing them into such as relate to his first coming, which had their full and entire completion in his person; and such as relate to his second coming, comprising a long series of events preparatory to that final close of the Christian Dispensation, some of which are already accomplished, others are now fulfilling, whilst others are still awaiting their completion at some distant period. The prophecies respecting the rise or fall of particular persons, families or states, have reference [27] in most, if not all, instances to the same object."* Whatever is told us of one to come, not named, but emphatically glorious, which cannot be shewn to be fulfilled in any other, is to be viewed as belonging to Christ. Deut. xviii. 18; Psalms viii., xyi., xxii., xl., lxix. , lxxxviii., cxviii. 22, 23: Isaiah iv. 2, vii. 14, 15, xlii. 1, liii. 1, 2; Zech. iii. 8, xii. 10. The same scriptures declare also his sufferings and humiliation mingled with his glory. Psalm lxix.; Isaiah liii. The scripture turns on this point, his sufferings and his glory; its lines meet in this centre, and this makes the study of it so sweet and delightful to one who loves his Saviour. It all relates to his beloved Master's person, coming, return, kingdom and glory. The predictions of scripture may, in fact, all be comprehended in one view: they are the unfolding of the first prophecy, "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” This contest goes on through all ages; and the predictions, while they almost invariably include the crisis and close of the warfare and the full triumph of the Redeemer, are given in such comprehensive wisdom, as to be constantly instructive and applicable in all the varied parts of that war

suggested, the lesser events are not the things to be dwelt upon, but the greater and more deciding changes which have controlled and overruled the history of nations, and those that are more immediately connected with the church of God. A friend suggested the idea that a Religious History of the French Revolution is a work to be desired in this view. Alison's History gives Historical information.

* See Van Mildert's Sermons, vol. ii. 353, 354.


which is ever raging between the seed of the woman, Christ and his church, and the seed of the serpent, Satan, and the children of that wicked one.

12. REMEMBER ONE GREAT USE OF PROPHECY IS THE SANCTIFICATION OF THE HEART. It is not the mere understanding of the meaning of the prophecy, that is valuable, unless it has a holy and edifying [28] influence on our life. It is not merely, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy—but there is a farther end—and keepeth those things that are written therein.” (Rev. i. 3.) The design of the prophecies is not only instruction and consolation, but also being made holy. The varied times and circumstances of the Church described in the prophets, teach us the peculiar duties suitable to those times, and strongly bind us to the performance of those duties. Thus we are taught how we may stand in the post of observation as faithful watchmen--steadily regarding the steps of Providence, and looking to the glorious end and issue of all the griefs and afflictions of the church, and of our own also, if we are steadfast in faith and hope, breathing out the ardent desire and hope of the church, even so come, Lord Jesus!

We speak not as if prophetical knowledge and an expectation of the near advent of Christ were necessary to our salvation. A great difference must be made between what is necessary and what is profitable. What is necessary, is simply faith working by love. Gal. v. 6. But things may be very helpful, and profitable, and quickening to our souls, that are not needful to the existence of spiritual life. And in this view it must be remembered how much the promises of salvation are connected with looking for Christ, (Hebrews ix. 28; Titus ii. 13; Phil. iii. 20; 2 Pet. iii. 12;) and loving his appearing: (2 Tim. iv. 8.) A practical expectation of the coming of Christ has many special promises, and is a peculiar character of those who will be accepted of him in the day of his appearing. And this is the more important to us now, when so distinct and extended a testimony has [29] been borne to this truth by the servants of Christ. By not attending to and keeping the saying of prophecy, you lose also a blessing which God has promised. Rev. xxii. 7. And who is so spiritually rich as to be willing to lose one blessing?

Prophetical, however, like all other parts of divine knowledge, may only puff up; and we should be sensitively alive to this danger. There can hardly be imagined a more subtle snare of the enemy than that a man should become acquainted with an important part of divine truth, obnoxious even to Christians in general,—that he should "have the gift of pro


phecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,” (1 Cor. xiii. 2,)—that he should confess the truth and suffer reproach for it, and all the while have merely the system and theory, and be without the grace of the truth. What a prayer is that of our Lord, Sanctify them by thy truth! John xvii. 17. Truth applied to the heart by the Holy Ghost, is sanctifying. It should be our desire, that our religion may not be merely that which nature can attain, but that which by its fruits is proved to be supernatural and divine; thus shall we now be "the workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus unto good works; "(Eph. ii. 10.) and so shall we be found at the last to have "oil in our vessels with our lamps when the Bridegroom cometh.” Matt. xxv.

To these practical Rules the author would add a few CAUTIONS.


In events, whether fulfilled or yet to be fulfilled, where we have no infallible interpreter, this was to be expected. It is so in all subjects human [30] and divine. Even the inspired prophets themselves, (1 Peter i. 10,) “who prophesied of the grace that should come, inquired and searched diligently, searching what or what manner of time the spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory which should follow.” If they had to inquire and search diligently to ascertain dates and periods, and only obtained a general knowledge “that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things which are now reported unto you;” no wonder that human writers come to different conclusions. But do not imagine on that account that the search is vain for you, and the study hopeless and unprofitable. Far, very far from it. Leading views you may obtain of the utmost value.

Bishop Van Mildert justly remarks "those who duly consider the prodigious extent and complicated nature of the plan of prophecy, will not only be convinced that to devise and execute it, is far beyond the power of man; but will be prepared to meet with something of intricacy and even obscurity in the detail of the plan, which the limited powers of the human understanding may not be able completely to unravel. They will perceive that a scheme of divine wisdom, to be carried on through all ages of the world, and embracing an infinite diversity of times, persons, and places, must require means to conduct and unfold it, of which it is impossible that man should be a competent judge. Hence they will be led to examine the subject with humility and reverence. But whatever shade of doubt and difficulty may still hang over some particular predictions (concerning which the most learned and sagacious may continue to entertain some difference of opinion), [31] it is nevertheless impossible for any unprejudiced persons to deny, that there is a prodigious mass of solid and incontrovertible evidence to be collected from history in verification of the scripture prophecies.”

They are excellent remarks of a very able modern writer, “Justice is to be exercised in judging of the opinions and statements of others. This constitutes candour. It consists in giving a fair hearing to their opinions, statements and arguments, and weighing fairly and honestly their tendency. It is therefore opposed to prejudice, blind attachment to preconceived opinions, and that narrow disputatious spirit, which delights in captious criticism, and will hear nothing with calmness that is opposed to its own views: which distorts or misrepresents the sentiments of its opponents, ascribing them to unworthy motives, or deducing from them conclusions which they do not warrant. Candour accordingly may be considered as a compound of justice and the love of truth. It leads us to give due attention to the opinions and statements of others; in all cases to be chiefly solicitous to discover truth, and in statements of a mixed character, containing perhaps much error and fallacy, anxiously to discover and separate what is true. It has accordingly been remarked, that a turn for acute disputation and minute and rigid criticism is often the characteristic of a contracted and prejudiced mind, and that the most enlarged understandings are always the most indulgent to the statements of others; their leading aim being to discover truth."*

The only danger [32] in this is, lest any thing of a doubtful and sceptical spirit should creep upon us.

It is to be guarded against by the deepest reverence for the word of God, and entire submission to all its plain statements.

2. Remember an important DISTINCTION FACTS PREDICTED, AND THE TIME WHEN THEY SHALL TAKE PLACE. Respecting the facts predicted, we may attain a much greater degree of knowledge and confidence than we can respecting the time. The history of the interpretation of prophecy shews this. The most able expositorst have anticipated events. Their works are not useless on that account, indeed, for the explanation of the event may be correct, when that of




* See that truly valuable work, The Philosophy of the Moral Feelings, by John Abercrombie, M. D. p. 57, 58, a book well calculated to undermine and overthrow may false principles of modern liberalism or infidelity.

+ This is remarkably the case with the writings of Brightman, Mede, and Cressener.


the time is wrong. I deny not also that it is our duty to search into the time and to state our conclusions modestly, especially as we come nearer the end, when there are special promises of light and knowledge. (See Dan. xii.) But as Gurtler justly remarks, "we should not rashly or confidently define the moments of future time, in which those remarkable works of God, which are to take place in the world, and in the church, are to be accomplished. (Acts i. 7. Mark xiii. 32.) To hold the thing revealed tends to piety and comfort; the time of that which is future, if scripture shews any thing concerning it, it is right and proper to meditate upon; but accurately to fix the time before it arrives, is a fruitless attempt."'*

The chief triumph of those who would discourage the study of prophecy, has been the failure of many [33) who have specified particular times; and it may be asked, Why has God, who promised such a blessing on the study of prophecy, permitted this? Not merely to humble the pride of human wisdom, nor merely to make prophetical writers more cautious, but also with regard to his people, to try their faith in the clearly predicted event, notwithstanding the uncertainty of the time; and with regard to his enemies, who hate him and his word, that they might be stumbled and hardened; and so their wickedness manifested, and the divine justice in their everlasting condemnation be made clear.”+ 3. Do not be OFFENDED AT THE REPROACHES TO WHICH

EXPECTATION OF THE COMING OF CHRIST EXPOSES YOU, from all classes of men. It is the generation truth, that is, the one which is peculiarly important in this generation, and opposes the whole stream and current of men's opinions by the simple testimony of God's word, and therefore it is the truth every where spoken against. A wellinstructed Bible Christian will not be stumbled at this, and when he has carefully searched the foundations, and is perfectly satisfied that he has the word of God to rest upon, will hear with the utmost calmness the charges of the Millenarian epidemic, dangerous novelties, fanciful schemes, and a thousand other names by which men will endeavour to swamp all these truths without coming to the plain statements of scripture. The most painful thing is, when [34] the truly pious join in these things, and, like Peter to his Lord, say, (Matt. xvi. 22.) Be it far from thee; but he who has once himself been thus pre

* See Gurtler's Systema, p. 55.

+ If the mistakes as to particular times of Mede, Lloyd, Allix, Jurieu, Cressener, and others, had deterred men from pursuing these studies or from avai)ing themselves of their works, we should never have had the valuable researches into Prophetic times of Prideaux, Sir I. Newton, Vitringa, Bishop Newton, Woodhouse, not to speak of living expositors.

VOL. II.-53



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