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“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye
“ A COMMENTARY upon prophecy by a Doctor of Medicine !” we' think we bear the reader exclaim. Even so, gentle reader ; and by one, who, so far from being ashamed of his task, thinks himself, on the contrary, highly honoured. There seems to be an opinion prevailing in the public mind, that the study of medicine has a tendency to lead to infidelity. But it is a mistaken opinion. If infidelity do pervade the members of our profession in a greater measure than common, which we are not altogether certain is the case, the circumstance must be attributed to the operation of other causes than the study of man through his material organs. We think that we can trace the rise of scepticism in divine revelation in most instances amongst our medical brethren, as well as others, to a conceited assumption of superior intellect by the propagators of infidelity, above what they call the vulgar prejudices and superstitions of the generality of men ; and sometimes also to an unhappy disposition, too much fostered in the youthful mind, to cover every thing serious or sacred with the motley raiment of foolery. Let but the miracles of the Old and New Testaments be caricatured by the pencil of ridicule, and made the subject of mirthful comment by some laughter-loving associate to his youthful friend, and the health-exuberant constitution of his eternal peace is broken, perhaps for ever. Did the scorner but kill the body of his victim, his soul, untainted by the poison of infidelity, might perhaps reach heaven on the wings of faith. Did he but waste the mortal part of his friend with dungeons, chains, and daily tortures, while the rest of its life endures, the evil might be repaired, and the hope of glorious light and liberty, beyond the power of man, might still relume the soul of the tortured prisoner. Did but the wily sceptic, with the arts of a demon, sequestrate his friend from earthly prosperity,—filch from him even his good name, and make him poor indeed, ---the fiendish perfidy might be
forgiven ; the injured one might still console himself with the heartfelt satisfaction of a good name in heaven. But 0 ! to kill his soul,
- to pour the leprous distilment of infidelity into his heedless ear, “ blasting his wholesome brother,” and making him an object of everlasting loathing among the blessed creatures of God ;- to rob his hope of the little treasury it had laid up in heaven,- to wither his good fame even in the realms above, that his name should be blotted from the Book of life ; — can never, here or hereafter, be repaired. The award of Heaven has gone forth, that it were better that a millstone were tied around the neck of the scorner, and he were thrown to the bottom of the great deep, than that he should offend one of the little ones of God, robbing his bark of its anchor of salvation, and leaving it to drive for ever, far from the haven of bliss, a hopeless wreck on the waste and darkling ocean of eternity. The irreparable evil we deprecate here is not of fancy's drawing. Personal observation and divine revelation have convinced us, that the picture is not overcharged: for we have been at some pains to inquire into the history of the rise of the hateful plant of infidelity in the hearts of some of our acquaintances; and have been able to trace it to seed derived originally from a single parent stem, which scattered its baneful fruit to vegetate wherever it could find a fitting soil for its tenacious roots—multiplying itself to a second generation, --from friend to friend—from father to son. Well do we remember, in our younger days, some of the disciples of this school of infidelity attempting to sound us in some of our lowest notes upon their favourite key; but, blest be Providence, the men had no music in their souls for us, and notes of jarring discord broke forth upon them, long before they could reach the top of our compass. We thought them fit for treason against God, stratagem against man, and spoil of beart-felt peace ;-we did not trust them. We saw nothing profound about the men, or their philosophy either ; and we have since been convinced that they had never entered into an impartial examination of the evidences of Christianity, but had only got raked together, from the filth of Thomas Paine and the like, some trite refuted arguments against it.
We have thus given the reader to guess that we are not one of the followers of the negative creed; he may yet, however, think it singular, that we should have chosen prophecy as the subject of our maiden essay, a theme so wide of the scope of our professional studies. He must know then, that, had not our curiosity been roused by hearing a lecture upon the subject on a particular occasion, we should have been at this day as ignorant of prophecy as the generality of men, who have never turned their attention to the matter. It is now some five years wasted, since we heard the Reverend Edward Irving deliver a few cursory lectures upon prophecy in the church of this place. We were both pleased and proud to hear our sometime schoolfellow, and listened to his expository sketches with rapt attention. Would that we could do so still !--but, alas, he has since divorced himself from the affections of many of his wellwishers, and left one of the sincerest of them to mourn over the delusion of one, who was once so bright an ornament of our national church ; — who, with a captivating fancy, joined to a figure, the splendid personification of oratory itself, sent his words glowing with the ardour of unalloyed sincerity into the hearts of men. But in the blaze of his fame, delusion, like a summer cloud, has overcome him ; and be now dwells in the regions of mist, associated with a few deluded followers, whose voices startle our ears, but whose works of extraordinary power we cannot see. Would that this had not been so; for it was to the preaching of Mr Irving that we owe that spirit of inquiry which first prompted us to read the mysteries of our Bible, and, by industrious perusal, to understand them to a degree, far beyond what we could at one time ever have conceived. Not many years ago, and the prophecies of Daniel and St John, about which this work is more especially conversant, were almost as sealed to our understanding as the original languages in which they were written: they were worse than algebra to the country gentleman in the play. We therefore looked very little into our Bible, whose story is soon conned, and whose two moral precepts, on which hang all the law and the prophets, may be graven with ease on the nail of the thumb. We had indeed heard of a mystical chapter of the sacred scriptures baving been prescribed as a soporific when every other anodyne had failed; but we never tried the efficiency of the prescription in our own person, though we have watched the progress of its operation occasionally in others, and must bear testimony to its singular powers. We have caught an old woman reading away with seeming great attention in the middle of the eleventh chapter of Daniel, not one verse of which she understood, till, anon, her senses finding, we suppose, that her intellect was making no sort of work of the rough staple that they furnished it, looked upon their labour of supply as a useless task, folded their hands, and fairly fell over asleep. But let not the worthy old woman, sleeping over her Bible, move the merriment of the reader. She has somehow gathered from its mystical .lore