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the interpretation from an Oracle.
This work has been four years under consideration, and the views I have adopted have gradually developed themselves to my mind. I have stated my opinions on the most difficult parts of the Apocalypse, and am willing they should be weighed in the balance of the sanctuary, and when I perceive they are found wanting, I will very readily give them to the winds, as I have done the mystic interpretation of the prophetic numbers. How important is the apostolic injunction, “Prove all things, hold fast that which is good.”
AN ELUCIDATION, &c.
The great Jehovah has graciously revealed to us the future circumstances of particular kingdoms, and the destinies of the world at large. This He has been pleased to do in the first place by certain symbolic representations, secondly by interpretation of the symbols, and thirdly by literal predictions. It is therefore incumbent on every student of prophecy to endeavour to understand the import of the prophetic symbols, and at the same time not to spiritualize or mystify literal prophecies. I have given a plate of the symbols mentioned by Daniel that they may be more clearly impressed upon the mind, and their import easily understood. For the better elucidation of the Prophecies, 1 have also subjoined the following rules given by various respectable authors.
INTERPRETING THE PROPHECIES.
When inspired men wrote their visions and prophecies, they had some special directions how to commit them to posterity. When the Law had been given to Moses, he was commanded to write upon the stones of the public altar “all the words of it very plainly.” Deut.
. xxvii. 8. Towards the close of his life, he was inspired to compose a commemorative song, and he received an order to write it for the people of Israel, that they might teach it to their children. Deut. xxxi. 19. 22.
When Isaiah received a prophecy relative to Israel and the neighbouring nations, he was commanded to “take a great roll, and write in it with a man's pen.
On receiving another prophecy he had the following charge, “Now go write it before them in a table and note it in a book, that it may be for time to come, (Heb. for the last day) for ever and ever. Isa. viii. 1. xxx. 8.
When Jeremiah was made a prophet to Israel and the surrounding nations, he received the following command, “Write thou all the words that I have spoken
unto thee in a book.” xxx. 2. Shortly after, the command was renewed, “Take thee a roll of a book and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations from the day I spake unto thee even unto this day.” Chap. xxxvi. 2. And after the king of Judah had burnt the first manuscript, the prophet received a command to write another, “Take thee another roll, and write in it all the former words that were in the first roll.” v. 28. When Ezekiel saw in a vision the future temple, and received the specifications of its various sparts,* it appears he was ordered to make a drawing of it, and thus was commanded to shew the house to the house of Israel, for he was directed to "let them measure the pattern,” and he was charged to shew them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof; and write it in their sight. When the Revelation of Jesus Christ was given to the Apostle John, it was with this special charge, “What thou seest, write in a book," and when the Son of man had displayed the glory of his person, he renewed the command, “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.” Rev. i. 11. 19. and the command to write was repeatedly renewed, chap. xiv. 13. xix. 9. xxi. 5.
*These dimensions are given to scale in my Inquiry after Prophetic
The Lord ordered the prophet Habakkuk to write the vision, and make it plain upon tables so that he may run that readeth it,” ii. 2. These various directions imply that what is written is plain, and is in general capable of being understood, and that the prophecies should be studied in every age. The command to those who read, is equally express, “Whoso readeth, let him understand.” But if a student of prophecy should be asked, “Understandest thou what thou readest?” He might probably reply, “How can I except some man should guide me?” Therefore previous to our entering upon the study of the prophecies it is necessary we should have some canons by which we may interpret them.
In the course of reading I have met with the following rules which I submit to the reflecting Reader, as deserving serious regard.
I. “We must never depart from the literal meaning of the subject mentioned in its own appropriate name, if all or its principle attributes square with the subject of the prophecy,--an unerring canon and of great
VITRINGA. II. “I hold it for a most infallible rule in exposition of sacred scripture, that where a literal construction will stand, the farthest from the letter is commonly the worst. There