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be received, another of his objects is gained in the circulation of error. It is the privilege of the wise to discriminate; to analyse the mixture; to adhere to truth against every hindrance, against every species of obloquy, or difficulty, or distress; and to reject and resist error, in the face of every solicitation, and blandishment, and bribe of a compromising world: to "prove all things, and to hold fast that which is good.'
I. First, then; an inquiry into the true interpretation of the unfulfilled prophecies of Scripture, ought not to be judged by the unscriptural conjectures in which some of its advocates have indulged. Precise dates have been given. Geographical, architectural, and other details have been insisted on. And even individual men and measures of modern times, have been confidently set forth, as specially intended in such and such prophecies. By interpretations (if they deserve that name) of this character, the writer of the following pages has been deeply grieved. But, surely, it would be most unreasonable to be thereby deterred altogether from any inquiry, into so large a portion of the Word of God; ALL of which has been given by inspiration, and written for our learning.
It is undeniable, that some persons abuse the doctrines of the free grace of God, and the all
* 1 Thess. v. 21.
sufficient atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, into an excuse for careless living. But does it therefore follow, that we must either become Antinomians, or reject the gospel altogether? Surely not. In like manner, some persons abuse the true and proper humanity of the Lord Jesus into Socinianism. But does it therefore follow that we must either become Socinians, or deny the Saviour's manhood? Surely not.
In all such cases, discrimination is wisdom; and without painstaking inquiry, men must fall into error, either of excess or defect. The same is true in the case now before us. Some persons have identified the "wilful king" of Daniel xi. with Napoleon Bonaparte; and one interpreter has proceeded gravely to inform his readers, that the 'ships of Chittim," mentioned by the prophet at the 30th verse of that chapter, designated the British fleet, under Lord Nelson, in the year 1798, and more particularly, the squadron, under Sir Sidney Smith, which prevented Bonaparte from getting possession of St Jean d'Acre.* Is it then a matter of necessity, that we must either adopt such a line as this, or altogether give up any further examination of what the prophets have written ? Discrimination is wisdom; and if we refuse to exercise it upon this subject, we expose * See Frere's Combined View, &c., pp. 404-406.
ourselves to the risk of either receiving, as the Word of God, the ingenious fancies of men, or of rejecting as the fancies of men, the true and faithful Word of God.
II. This subject ought not to be judged by the practical inconsistencies of individual advocates, however distinguished. This has been done in our own times. The names of certain prominent men were associated with a literal interpretation of prophecy, for a considerable time; and then, afterwards, when those men embraced erroneous doctrines, or at least contended for modes of expression, and proceeded into the wild extravagance of supposed miraculous inspiration, in support of this error, and so eventually added schism to heresy-the whole weight of the opprobrium so incurred recoiled upon the study of unfulfilled prophecy, and many persons were deterred from the inquiry altogether, and others who had entered upon it, gave it up, as though it were the inevitable precursor of some mischievous aberration.
The writer has been constrained to feel these things in deep bitterness of spirit; and he cannot look back upon the events of the last few years, without humbly adoring the rich unmerited mercy of a preserving God, by which a poor helpless sinner was enabled to detect the beginnings of error, and from that moment to resist the influence
of associations long cherished; and at last, being compelled to the alternative, to break off all communication with men much beloved, rather than compromise his own convictions of the truth of God. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:" His watchful care, His restraining grace, His preserving power!
III. Man is a reasonable creature, and God deals with him as such. The great object, so far as man is concerned, of the truth revealed, is character to be produced." Sanctify them through Thy truth," is the language of the great Intercessor; "Thy word is truth." But in order that truth may produce this transforming effect upon the character, it must be received as truth; really and cordially received; so that the heart can repose upon it with confidence as truth indeed. To require that any statement shall be felt to be practical before it is cordially believed to be true, is manifestly to subvert the order of cause and effect. The primary question is, what view of the subject is true? What is, indeed, revealed? What may I safely believe and trust in, so as afterwards to experience its practical influence?
"The coming of the Lord-the day of Christthe day when the Son of Man shall be revealed-the Lord himself shall descend from heaven-the Lord shall be king over all the earth-if we suffer
with Him, we shall also reign with Him-we shall reign on the earth." Whatever may be the true meaning of these and similar expressions, it is certain that by them all watchfulness, sobriety, diligence, and universal devotedness to God, are most urgently pressed upon the Church in the Holy Scriptures.
In a work, for which I gladly avail myself of this opportunity to express my grateful acknowledgments to the learned author, (a gratitude which I feel, in common, I am persuaded, with a large number of my brethren in the ministry of the Church,) Mr Townsend, thus states the difference between the Jewish and the Christian expectation of a Messiah:
"You demand a temporal-we a spiritual deliverer. In this lies the difference between us. If a temporal Messiah is the object of the prophecies, he has not come; if a spiritual Messiah is to be expected, Jesus of Nazareth was the desire of all nations!" He then further defines what he supposes the Jew to expect, under this title, a temporal Messiah. "In looking for a temporal Messiah, you anticipate a being fit for earth alone. The Messiah whom we receive was fit for earth and for heaven. Your Messiah is a mere mortal, who must linger through his few years of feverish renown, pleased with this trifle still, as that before.' Ours is an immortal, who came down