Sidor som bilder


a Compendium






[blocks in formation]
[merged small][graphic][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed]


A Few words will explain our motive for adding one more volume to the mass of recent Prophetic literature.

Believing that the Bible, so far from limiting the study of its Prophecies to the erudite theologian, addresses them, like all other portions of its inspired contents, to the intelligence of common people,-we consider that the general scope and meaning of these predictions ought to be appreciable by any reader capable of grasping the common-sense of Scripture on any other question. Intellectual ability and wealth of learning have not agreed upon a standard principle of interpreting prophecy, any more than they have unanimously consented to one scheme of doctrinal divinity, one view of the design and manner of sacraments, or one system of ecclesiastical polity; and why, therefore, may not the simpleminded, unscholarly reader-exercising his “right of private judgment” under the guidance of the enlightening Spirit-become as clear in his understanding of the foreshadowed course of Providence as he may be sound and evangelical in his creed? One preparation, however, is indispensable on the part of the reader. The subjects of prophecy being mainly historical, the student must, of necessity, possess such a knowledge of events and dates as will enable him to perceive the correspondence of predictions with the facts to which they relate. And accordingly, a book may be of value, in which the prophetic passages of the Bible, with others bearing upon them, åre presented in a connected form, side by side with the historical information which furnishes the means of comparison. The study of “fulfilled” prophecy every one admits to be profitable: but it is only by investigating throughout what has been really foretold, that the obviously fulfilled can be separated from the still unaccomplished announcements of God's word. Hence, the work should embrace all the promises and threatenings revealing the fate of the world ; though it may not be able to decipher and apply all to their several events.

Our idea, then, has been to call up the prophets to speak for themselves; so that the reader

may form his own opinion of the worth of our historic and other explanations, or, with the materials given, may frame new elucidations for himself

. And we have felt it indispensable to place (as far as possible) the very words of the sacred text before the eye of the reader, who, in few instances, has either inclination or leisure for turning out hundreds of “references.” But as the passages quoted at length, within the limits of a moderate-sized volume, can be only a selection from innumerable statements concerning things to come, we entreat the peruser of our work to consult the many verses in their connection,

[ocr errors]


not merely to assure himself of the fairness and appropriateness of our choice of texts, but in order to discover the wealth and fulness of scripture teaching on prophetic themes.

It will be seen that we regard the connected system and series of predictions as being “history anticipated.” They embody a revelation of the plan adopted by the Creator in dealing with the human family; and the interpretation of the various portions, declared by many servants of God in different ages, is facilitated by viewing each as a revealed part of that plan already developed in past occurrences, or remaining to be executed in the future. We profess not, however, to furnish the curious speculator with minute applications of prophecy to passing events, as a means of collating Reuter's telegrams with the previsions of the sacred seers; or to prognosticate, in company with fortune-telling astrologers, what shall inevitably happen in this year or that. But, tracing the course of history, its eras and periods, we have endeavoured to show, clearly and determinately, the place occupied by the present age in the great drama called “providence,” which God has caused to be enacted on the earth; and to indicate the destiny of tribulation and glory yet reserved for the world and the church. In exposition, we have pursued a medium course between the extravagances of a strict literality of interpretation on the one hand, and the immoderate play of fancy in spiritualising on the other. For instance, we do not so unreasonably narrow the signification of poetical and metaphorical descriptions as to expect that Babylon will be re-built, re-destroyed, and again lie waste, in order to make accurately just the declaration of Isaiah, that "the Arabian shall not pitch hiss tent there;” or suppose that the words of Zephaniah will ever be actually verified, that “ every one that passeth by” the ruins of Nineveh “ shall hiss and wag his hand.” Neither can we venture into the opposite extreme of taking plain, matter-of-fact statements as so much allegory and hyperbole—understanding, for example, the coming of the Son of Man®“ in the clouds of heaven,” and His sending “Ilis angels with a great sound of a trumpet,” to “gather His elect from the four winds,” to foretell merely the preaching of the gospel about the time of the Roman siege of Jerusalem.

The limits of our work forbid a verification of every statement by due reference to authorities. We have searched and extracted from such commentaries, histories, and other sources of information as lay within our reach; but, while seeking a correct exegesis of the original Hebrew and Greek of the Bible, and gaining acquaintance with the main features of political and ecclesiastical history, we purposely avoided the perplexity of examining every expositor until we had formed our own conception of the meaning of the sacred enigmas.

It may be added, that this book should be considered as the imperfect pattern of a work which the author would fain see produced by some abler hand, rather than as an attempted exhaustive treatment of a vast and mysterious subject.

January, 1862.

[ocr errors]
« FöregåendeFortsätt »