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faculties must be operated by his own intelligence, and be altogether underived : and thus we attain to the great theological principle, GOD is, and there is none else, — He is the original cause of all vital phehomena.
If the will of man be free, we ask the Arminian, how comes Jeremiah, the man inspired of God, to tell us, that “ it is not in man that walketh to direct his own steps ;" and how St Paul, that God works in man both to will and to do of his good pleasure ? how come the thoughts and intents of man to be all known to God? and how can human actions be ruled to the accomplishment of the predicted purposes of God? As far as human reason can judge, the thing is impossible. It is the benevolence of the Almighty which has conferred upon his creatures the consciousness of freedom; and we have only to look at the lower animals, whose fleeting period of existence is spent upon earth, to be convinced of the unbounded happiness which such consciousness communicates. See the feathered denizens of the air, and say, are they not the very minions of liberty, exuberant in the bliss of life? Were the ravens that brought the flesh and the bread to the man of God, by the brook of Cherith, at the command of their Maker, less conscious of their freedom, when their wills were operated upon by him to do the deed ? Was the little inhabitant of the waters less sensible of liberty, when it brought in its mouth the tribute money of its Lord. The purposes of God's providence with man, however, extend beyond the grave. We see not all, and therefore cannot judge but unfairly of a part. We murmur at the partiality of God in attributing sin to us, and making only some of us elect from the foundation of the world. But what are we, that we should murmur against the ordinations of our Maker ? —pieces of clay informed by the almighty Architect of life-one vessel made to honour, another to dishonour.t We are not our own. The soul of man is not an entity independent of God: and what can we say – we, who lead the innocent ox to the slaughter, and rob the noble horse of its liberty, laughing to scorn their plea of human injustice, if they had the voice to raise one - if God, who has put them into our power, should also give the higher orders of animal life the power of operating, unseen and unfelt, upon our thoughts and motions, and controlling them either to good or evil ? I
* Isaiah, xlv. 6, 7—“ I am Jehovah, and none else; forming light, and creating darkness ; making peace and creating evil. I, Jehovah, am the author of all these things."--Lowth.
+ Isaiah, lxiv. 8_“ We are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.”
# Daniel, x. 13–“ But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days : but, lo. Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.” Matthew, viii. 28–32" And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine : and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters."
“ Are good angels," says St Paul, “not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation ?" That spirits have the power of controlling the human faculties, and also those of the lower animals, we have the authority of the New Testament to assure us. Though the will of man be thus unconsciously controlled to serve the great purposes of his Almighty Creator, yet it becomes him not to use the consciousness of liberty which he possesses in the commission of sin, on the belief that his doom is irretrievably fixed ; but rather to pray the Almighty not to lead him into temptation, but to deliver him from evil.
Before closing this Introduction, we would offer a few words upon the business of the followiug work--the study of the prophecies of sacred scripture. This is a task which should not be lightly under-, taken ;, and we would advise nobody to enter very seriously upon it, whose habits of attention have not been very considerably cultivated by the study of science. Reiterated perusal of the prophetic text, however, and the most devoted and long-continued attention, are not all that are required for the successful study of propbecy; faith is an indispensable quality in an interpreter. Many, a little hint is supplied to the faithful expositor of the prophetic anpals, that would be passed over unregarded as unmeaning nonsense by the unfaithful : this is still more especially the case in the interpretation of those prophecies which relate to the future, where history is wanting to confirm our conclusions. The more deeply, that any one enters upon the study of prophecy, the more sensible will they become of the justice of this remark; and, consequently, the more disposed to rely upon the hints furnished them from the Bible, than upon all human speculation whatsoever, For our own part we must declare, that we could come to no conclusion that satisfied our mind till we threw aside all interpreters, and betook ourselves, with unwearied industry, to the study of the sacred text of prophecy itself.-- It were better, certainly, too, that the interpreter of prophecy should be intimately acquainted with the original language in which it is written. The want of this accomplishment, however, need not deter any one from entering deeply into the task of exposition, if he be acquainted with other languages in which literal and good translations of the scriptures are given ; for, by aid of these, and the translations of particular passages given by learned commentators, he may easily supply almost all that bis ignorance of the original language leaves deficient. We have found much assistance in our labours from the Latin text of Tremellius, and also from the French version of the Bible—of the accuracy of both of which, as far as we are able to judge, we are disposed to think highly. In the English version, by an erroneous conceit of the translator, words have been introduced in Italics into some of the passages of Daniel about which this work is conversant, which have a teudency totally to alter the meaning of the text to a reader who understands no other language than the English. This should never be done in the translation of the scriptures. One instance we allude to is “ daily sacrifice," occurring in Daniel no less than five times, and which is rendered in the French
version, “ le continuel,” and in Tremellius's Latin, “jugis cultus ;" the French being the truest translation, no superfluous word being introduced, although Tremellius has given the proper signification of the text. And here we may observe, that whilst it behoves the interpreter to be so nicely critical in the language of prophecy, he shonld be no less attentive to the style of his own, when he professes to instruct other people. When so severe an exercise of the judgment is required as in the exposition of the mystical oracles of God concerning past and future history, it ill becomes a writer to indulge in flights of fancy, and to load his style with useless words. The language of commentators should be that of Euclid's Elements. At least if they will plume their wings and attempt a flight, let it be after their heavy task is done ; let pot their fancy, in its madness, gambol from the task to which they have brought the reader's judgment, and leave it to stare agape, thus distracted from its subject. If the interpreter would moralise, also, upon his text, let him do so apart, and after he has found its meaning out.
Prophetical narrative is either typical or untypical. Of the former the reader will find an example in the seventh and eighth chapters of Daniel, and in almost the whole of the Apocalypse of St John; of the latter, in the eleventh chapter of Daniel. The typical narratives in the two former of these examples, however, are made much more intelligible by the interpretation of angels than the plain narrative in the last. Now, concerning these types, we would have our readers expressly to understand, that they never in a single instance are meant to denote a spiritual apostacy, a prevailing infidelity as to the true faith among men, as some of our late interpreters would have us to believe ; but that they are in every instance to be taken to signify an executor, or a series of executors of national or idolatrous power. This is a rule which should never be forgotten in the interpretation of propbecy; and those who have broken through it, know well enough that they have nothing in prophecy fulfilled to justify their so doing.–We kuow well that it is fashionable in the world to make these types of prophecy a subject of ridicule. Not many years ago we were too apt to speak with levity ourself of the sacred symbols of God's revelation. But ever since our curiosity was roused, by the lectures of the Reverend Mr Irving, to inquire into these things, we soon learnt to regard the emblems of God with solemn awe; and never did any study afford us so much delight as the finding out, by renewed contemplation, their characteristic propriety, and admirable adaptation to the things which they were designed to represent. We beseech you, reader, in our turn, to withdraw yourself from the number of the unthinking scoffers at the prophets of God; and to ponder with reverential awe' those transcripts from the book of his providence, which these men have handed down to posterity. Deem not you the language of Heaven a tissue of idle and unmeaning words, because you may not be able to find, in every particular, its meaning out. The Almighty has writ his annals of the future true. The heavens and the earth shall pass away ; but his words shall not pass away, till every jot, every tittle of
them all be fulfilled. With the pencil of heaven, God's servants the prophets have depicted and bequeathed to posterity a panorama of futurity, wherein are symbollically set forth in succession the different forms of earthly power and idolatry. They have left us, as it were, a pictured chart of that portion of the stream of time, which lay between them and the great ocean of eternity, on whose banks we see rise forth in graphic splendour, the cloud-capt towers and gorgeous palaces of sovereign habitation, and the solemn temples of human idolatry; while by low-lying clouds the meaner dletails of the bordering landscape are concealed from our view : that faithful men, when they compare the sublimely graphic panorama of prophecy with the finished picture of the past which History holds forth, may testify to their brethren of mankind, that the Almighty knew the end from the beginning, and that known unto him from the foundation of the world were all the acts of the children of men : that faithful men, too, when they unfold the pictured panorama of the future, and cast forth their contemplation upon that portion of the stream of time, which still lies between them and the ocean of eternity, might point out to future Christians the great headlands where those false deluding pilots resort, that would lead their little barks into the barens of idolatry, and so teach the faithful the course they ought to steer to those “isles tbat, like to rich and various gems, inlay” the peaceful ocean of the blest. We bescech you also, reader, if you are yet uninitiated in the study of prophecy, to beware of the counsel of the spiritualizers,—those men who would explain away the faithful sayings of God into empty insignificance, and who will tell you that such and such events, set forth in prophecy, are to be accomplished only in a spiritual sense. Consult for yourself the exposition of prophecy fulfilled, and judge of that concerning the future by what you see of the past. Was the prophecy of Daniel concerning the first advent of our Saviour accomplished only in a spiritual sense ? No: seven weeks, and three score and two weeks, or 483 days (which in prophecy are reckoned years), from the year 457 B.C., when in the hands of Ezra the decree went forth to restore and to build Jerusalem, or in the year 26 A. C., did our Saviour enter upon bis ministry clothed in human flesh and blood. Did the rise of the papal power and apostacy, that was typified by the little horn, which rose up among the ten horns of the beast representing the Roman commonwealth, receive only a spiritual fulfilment in a general apostacy or falling away of Christians from the true faith? No: the type of the little horn was substantially represented by a succession of men, bolding idolatrous power and rule upon the earth. In the same manner, then, let us look for the accomplishment of those prophecies which tell of the second personal advent of our Redeemer to this earth, in terms so much more express than others do of his first, that the Jews entirely overlooked the propbecies accomplished by the latter, and thought our Saviour an impostor, because he did not come attended by that glory which so expressly characterises the former. Reader, be not a greater unbeliever in prophecy than the Jew, who, had he consulted the chronological annals of Daniel, might have assured himself, within a very few years, of the time of Emmanuel's coming to the earth.* _There is another piece of advice which we would beg leave to tender to the young student of prophecy: it is, most carefully and minutely to study, and analyse, and collate with other passages, those expositions of the prophetical narrative which are given to the prophets by the revealing angels themselves. Surely no one will deny that the commentaries of the heavenly messengers of God should entirely supersede in authority those of man. Yet it is astonishing to see how far such communications have been disregarded by interpreters of scripture, who have assigned meanings to the text totally at variance with them. Nowhere is this disregard we speak of more remarkable than in the application of the vision in the eighth chapter of Daniel by Bishop Newton, to the Roman power at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem ; and in the still more incorrect application of it, as we shall see, by the Reverend Edward Irving and others, to Mahommed; and in the derivation from it by these latter, of the year 1847 for the return of the Jews to the land of Judea.