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phecies and promises, “to which we do well to take heed.”
They have as things hoped for inspired the people of God with “joy unutterable and full of glory; they have lifted their hearts above the level of earth’s highest conditions, and made them happy amidst the persecutions and afflictions which have ceaselessly beaten upon them. “Behold, He cometh with clouds."
Surely, I come quickly. Amen. Even so come, Lord Jesus."
Great changes indicating confessedly critical times have overtaken the world, in rapid succession, during the last quarter of a century. Ancient institutions, regarded as lasting, have been revolutionized; and new, unexpected, and unforeseen arrangements, for good or for evil, have been inaugurated. Parties, each a phalanx, long cleaving to some great principle, and held together by grand historical traditions, have themselves either deserted much that served to define them before the public eye, or have been broken up and recomposed, only to be decomposed again and scattered as drift-wood on the surging currents. Revolution in various conditions and degrees of activity has shaken down thrones that have stood during many tumultuous centuries, and broken up peoples and churches, and universities and schools; and still it rocks the earth, as composed of things that are made, in order that things which cannot be shaken may remain. There is a startling speed in the procession of events which indicates the presence and
action of intense forces, or the nearness of the evening in which there can be no more work. “Modern history,” to use the words of Dr Arnold, " appears to be not only a step in advance of ancient history, but the last step, it appears to bear marks of the fulness of time, as if there would be no future history beyond it. My sense of the evils of the times that are coming, and of the prospects to which I am bringing up my poor children, is overwhelming.”—Mod. Hist. p. 38.
If the New Testament be inspired, as we cannot doubt it is, its predictions of the future of our world must be true. These predictions are frequent, full, reiterated, line upon line, and intelligible to the humblest reader. Whether they be yet translated into modern, or rather existing, history, or are now being fulfilled in the sight of this generation, is an inquiry on which there may exist different, and even conflicting, opinions. But the meaning of the prophecy is clear, though the application of it to existing phenomena may be disputed or premature. Where investigation is seriously pursued we must respect, if we cannot accept, the application that differs from our own: we owe this to the subject. But for the indifference that sleeps, or denounces every attempt to explain, we can have no respect whatever. We are sometimes accused of assuming to be prophets. We repel the accusation. It is unjust and untrue. We neither inherit nor assume the prophet's mantle. We have no claim to an inspira
tion from above, that ceased with the times of the apostles, beginning at Genesis and ending at the last verse of the Apocalypse. All we attempt is to compare ancient prophecies with modern facts—the prophecies in the Bible with the facts of living history —and to express our conclusion, more or less decided, that the latter are or are not the exhaustion of the former. If there be no fulfilment, now or in the future, the prophecy is demonstrably false ; if there be a fulfilment, and this already arrived, it is our duty to search and compare till we read and identify it. We do so openly before all. Our appeal is to the reader. "We speak to reasonable men, judge ye what we say.” We may err; we may attach too great importance to one event, or too little to another. Of this every candid reader can judge. Our correction is found in the judgment of our readers, if we fail or are too hasty. We reason, not dictate; we compare, not dogʻmatize; we lay an undoubted fact by the side of an inspired prophecy that seems to contemplate that fact. If the fact is not covered by the prophecy, or the prophecy not exhausted in the fact, we must at once infer that this particular prophecy remains unfulfilled, and wait till other facts appear constituting the just, full, and ultimate fulfilment. That facts will justify the minutest and the most magnificent prophecy, exactly as echo responds to sound, we have no manner of doubt. It is at the same time not only a dutiful but a delightful study to search out the footprints of the Redeemer on earth, and to
listen if, amid the Babel sounds of the world, we can hear His voice, faint and low it may be, but recognizable and true; and so to make known to the weary earth, and the waiting bride, and the careless world, the warning words - "Behold, the Bridegroom cometh.”
That all such interpreters shall be denounced, or caricatured, or superciliously set down as fanatics by world-worshippers, and by that portion of the press, not, we believe, very influential, which reflects the world's idolatry, or panders to its absorbing passion, we are divinely warned to expect. The blessed Redeemer was denounced by his age as a demoniac. Noah was set down as simply mad. Paul's eloquence and reasoning, so earnest and logical, did not save him from the foolish charge, “Much learning has made thee mad.” Better, a thousand times better, be found in such sacred fellowship than in the ranks of the “scoffers” predicted by Peter, who shout in scorn, as if their scorn could hurl back the ages -“ Where is the promise of his coming ?”
To such the awful words of the inspired prophet are plainly addressed, “Behold, ye despisers, and wonder and perish, for I work a work in your days which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.” That there are difficulties in such investigations is true—difficulties on which many have stumbled is true-difficulties lie on this study as on all others. But difficulties are not impossibilities. A great difficulty often lies on the margin