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you no longer servants but friends, because I made known unto you all things that I heard from my Father” (John, xv, 15): and it is this loving condescension of our gracious Master that enables us to distinguish between heavenly things which pertain to the church, and earthly things which belong to the Jew; and by bearing this in mind when studying Scripture we shall better understand the nature of our calling, which is one of separation by faith, having our affections settled on things above, not on the things on the earth (Col., iii, 2). The Christian bas here no abiding place; he is a pilgrim and sojourner on the earth, and he looks for an inheritance in Christ, and an admission into that city whose builder and maker is God.
The schools of prophetic interpretation are, alas ! numerous : each has its advocates, and doubtless many are sincere in the views they entertain, but at the same time it is difficult to withhold surprise that men of undoubted ability should rest contented with systems built on such weak and unsatisfactory foundations. Nothing can or will stand that is not based on the Word of God, and if instead of searching the Bible for enlightenment on prophecy men attempt to decipher it by the channel of profane history, it must inevitably fail. History does not and cannot afford any clue to the future, and I have do hesitation in asserting that all history in the past and future that does not intimately concern the Jewish economy is not once alluded to in sacred writ. Ample proof from Scripture could be furnished to corroborate this statement, but it would demand more space than these remarks will admit of.
The historical school of interpretation may be briefly summed up in stating its advocates hold that prophecy embraces the history of the Church, its progress, and its warfare, from the days of the writing of the Apocalypse to the end of time.
The Præterists countenance the doctrine that all prophecy has been fulfilled with exception of the final judgment: it is lamentable to think that a fallacy of this nature could possibly claim the assent of sensible men; for it not only prevails extensively among the so-called German theologians, but obtains a great many followers among our own clergy.
The Neologian or rationalistic school reject all prophecy as well as all Scripture that is not borne out by clear critical testimony; their principle is to absorb everything into a system, and to test every part of Scripture in the crucible of internal evidence, such evidence in fact as appeals to human sense and reason, to the utter exclusion of faith; they admit in a general way the principal facts of the Bible, but utterly disclaim all credence to whatever is miraculous; the Word of God to them is of no greater value or reverence than that of any profane author, and is in all respects treated and judged by the same rule.
There exists another school, which has been classed under the denomination of "Futurism,” whose partisans believe that all prophecy not fulfilled in Christ's first advent in still future. This is identical with "literalism;" it contends, as a general rule, that until the fulness of the Gentile shall have come in, exhaustive prophecy is in abeyance, and will not again be resumed till the Jewish nation re-appear upon the stage of the world's actions.
Nothing that has occurred in the history of the world since the destruction of Jerusalem under Titus, and the consequent disruption of the Jewish economy, has been thought worthy in God's counsels of prophetic announcement; it awaits the moment when the Jew shall return to his own land in unbelief, when the ten toes of Nebuchadnezzar's statue (representatives of the ten kingdoms that spring up from the smouldering embers of the Roman Empire) shall be ruled over by Antichrist in person, when he shall be acknowledged as the long looked for Messiah by the Jewish people, and accepted as their king (John, v, 43): it is then, I believe, that the long record of prophecy running through every book in the Old Testament, as well as many portions of the New, shall find their full accomplishment.
It is my firm conviction that the decadence of the Roman Empire ; the union of the Church and State under Constantine; the rise of Popery; the crusades; the mighty struggles for national supremacy which have deluged the earth with blood; the French Revolution: or the meteoric career of the first Napoleon, have no bearing on prophecy, either in the old dispensation or in the Apocalypse : I believe everything mysteriously shadowed forth in the latter book refers entirely to the last of the seventy weeks recorded by the prophet Daniel, which up to this moment remains in abeyance.
The prophetical student of the literal school entertains, I presume, no doubt that the rise and fall of Gentile nations, their change of dynasties, their grandeur, power, might and wondrous works, are only alluded to in Scripture as they happen to clash with Jewish interests: everything regarding God's chosen race are minutely recorded. The Egyptian, Assyrian, Medean, Babylonish, Grecian, and Roman kingdoms, as each in its turn affects or comes in contact with the Jewish race, is carefully chronicled for their and our guidance and information; but never otherwise.
To travel through the history of the past in corroboration of the above would occupy too much space; but I may safely aver that not a text in Scripture can be produced to contravene this assertion : “When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel, for the Lord's portion is his people : Jacob is the lot of his inheritance” (see Num., xxiii, 9). He therein declares that the chosen race are the object and centre of His divine care, and that since the call of Abraham nothing that passes in the world is deemed worthy of special note save and except as it influences His people.
If this be correct, as I hold it is, we have strong internal evidence that nothing has transpired or will transpire in this dispensation relative to what is passing or will pass on the earth till the Jewish nation once again appear on the arena in the great events foretold in ancient prophecy and further displayed under emblematic symbols in the Apocalyptic vision : nor is it possible, allowing the premises to be sound, that any other deduction can be eliminated; so that anyone attempting to explain away and invalidate the testimony of Daniel, that the words are shut up, the book sealed, even until the time of the end" (xii, 4), is evidently engaged in a Sisyphean labor, which, however erudite and instructive as historical researches, can never satisfy the mind, or induce for one moment the literal reader of Scripture to immolate on the altar of fiction his deep reverence for God's revealed but unaccomplished purposes.
Though I have expressed strongly my own views, I admit that every man having a free will is at liberty to choose out of these several schools that which he conceives most conformable to God's glory, “but let every man be firmly persuaded in his own mind in that which he alloweth :" should a doubt exist in any man's breast, let him pause and well consider whether the opinions he has or may have expressed are in accordance with the inspired word; if not, let no false shame deter him from acknowledging his error; let him bear in mind the solemn words of God, that no man go beyond what is written, "for whatsoever God doeth it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it nor anything taken from it: and God doeth it that man should fear before him ;" "and that if any shall take away from the sayings of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the tree of life," &c.
I would before concluding warn my fellow Christians against the ungodly views that are being sown broadcast through the professing world: I limit not myself to open apostacy, to downright infidelity, to Socinians, Unitarians, Rationalists, German Neologists, and other schools of scandalous profanity, but to many in our own Church, who both by their preaching and writings so generalize Scripture, and so insinuate doubt in the minds of others as to deprive Christianity of all distinctiveness and practical value: their doctrine seems to be limited to a simple acknowledgment of a Supreme Intelligence; and their aim the rooting out of all personal holiness, and converting the blessed Word of God into a system of universal freedom in the matter of religion.
God in His mercy still retains certain barriers to repel the rapid march of disaffection and alienation to His divine laws, but the under current exists, and sooner or later, as we know from Scripture, universal license in matters of religion will sprout up throughout professing Christianity: private judgment in holy things, in these days of extended know