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Come then, and, added to thy many crowns,
INTRODUCTORY REMARKS ON THE STUDY OF
It is painful to contemplate the inconsistencies of even pious minds concerning Divine Revelation. Many who formally assent to the truth, “ All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness," do in effect deny it. Some are not ashamed to assert that the rule of Christian conduct is contained in the New Testament alone ; and, acting on the principle they avow, altogether neglect the Old. Yet it was this very portion of revelation which Christ enjoined the Jews to search, as testifying of Him, and which he commends to our careful consideration by his frequent quotations from it.
Convinced that such utter neglect of any part of God's word must be criminal, others obey in form the Savior's injunction, while they forget its spirit. They read without seeking sufficiently
to understanıt : they search not for its meaning as for hid treasure. Thus, much of Heaven's precious gift is regarded as of little value, and many of its unfulfilled prophecies, especially, have become in a great measure a dead letter. "Indeed, the opinion had long and almost universally prevailed, that it was alike useless and impious to attempt to with
draw the veil of mystery which overhangs the revelation of events still future; and although more correct ideas now partially obtain, exhortations to the obvious duty of prophetic inquiry are still occasionally met by the undutiful evasion, “ It is presumptuous to pry into the secrets of God.” There are, doubtless, mysteries, the full knowledge of which is far beyond the reach of human ken, and into which it would be sinful curiously to pry. But never can presumption attach to our endeavor to know and understand what God himself has revealed, and to the investigation of which He has promised his special blessing. " Secret things,” we know, " belong to the Lord our God, but those which are revealed belong to us and to our children for ever." Deut. xxix. 29. If, then, we would not be found chargeable with neglect of a large portion of that Book which bears the impress of its divine original-which is the record of God's doings, and the revelation of His unfulfilled designs—it becomes us reverently to inquire, with prayerful diligence, what he has been pleased to declare, and to seek to know what Israel ought to do.”
It is a common objection to the study of Prophecy, that it is dark, and that its meaning is not designed to be understood till after its accomplishment. It is, indeed, essential to the very nature of certain prophecies, that their import should not be known to all, nor perceived by any at a glance. But it ought not to be forgotten, that while we are informed these very mysteries shall be hid from the wicked, the promise is to the wise that they shall understand. Dan. xii. 10. And although the fulfilment of Prophecy does effectually serve to attest the truth of Christianity, and gives a glorious display of the omniscience of God, yet the opinion that it is not designed to be at all understood till fulfilled, is refuted alike by the express declaration of Heaven, and the past experience of the Church. This is neither the only end it was designed to serve, nor the only approved use to which it has been applied. “We have,” says an inspired apostle—and examination will show that it is really the « Prophecy of the Scripture” concerning Christ's future glory and the hope of be
lievers of which Peter thus speaks, much as the pis. sage may be misunderstood, and often misapplied as it certainly is ;— We have also a more sure word of Prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as to a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts.” 2 Pet. i. 19. And so it had ever been regarded by the saints of God in other days. It was not while in listlessness about the fulfilment of former predictions, that new communications were vouchsafed to the beloved Daniel; but when having - understood by books the number of
“ the years" of Jerusalem's desolation, he besought God " by prayer and supplication." Dan. ix. 2. The Savior reproved with much severity the Pharisees of old, because they perceived not the reality of his Messiahship by “ discerning the signs of the times ;” and, by the parable of the fig-tree, he inculcates upon his disciples the duty of watching for the indications of His Return. Mat. xvi. 3, xxiv, 32. The whole history of the Church indeed, in former ages, furnishes abundant refutation of the opinion that prophetic times and circumstances cannot be ascertained.* The Christians who dwelt in Jerusalem in the period immediately pre
* It is in mercy to His people, although it will add to the condemnation of the wicked, that God has given such clear and determinate intimation of the“ things that are to come hereafter;" and any attempt to throw unnecessary doubt upon the certainty of the "times” revealed, calls for severe reprehension." To this charge there is reason to fear the Examinator of Mr. Irving's Opinions, in the Edinburgh Christian Instructor for 1828, (p. 476,) has exposed himself, when, in order to strengthen his argument for the impossibility of determining the commencement of "the mighty year of God's glory," he fixes upon a misprint of one of the dates in our version of the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament. "In regard to the long period of Daniel,” there is, in reality, no reason for its being “disputed, whether we should real, with the Hebrew, 2300, or with the Septuagint, 2400 years.” Although all our common editions of the Septuagint have this typographical error, being printed from an edition into which it had crept, yet the Manuscript in the Vatican, from which that very edition was printed, has 2300, and not 2400. And of all the principal standard editions of the Septuagint, that alone from which ours are taken has this error. Let not, then, the carelessness of men be charged upon the Most High, nor the errors of copyists on the Spirit of inspiration. For a full statement on this subject, see “ The Scheme of Prophetic Arrangement of the Rev. Edward Irving and Mr. Frere critically examined, by William Cunninghame, Esq. of Lainshaw."