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sources of his Saviour. He knows the end to be secured. Every sinner saved is a soul added to the number of the heavenly kingdom. He works in detail, and whether in the full tide of the Spirit's gracious influences, or in seasons of rebuke and blasphemy, of disappointment and disaster, he feels that the march is steady and onward, and that the triumph is to be hastened by the delivering of his testimony, in common with the whole company of the faithful, and the preaching of the Gospel throughout the world.
Thus did the apostles feel and act. Thus, too, did the primitive Christians. There was a simplicity, a moral sublimity of character, a transparency of principle, which kept them unharmed by the polluting influence of governmental intrigues, and ever true and faithful to their suffering and crucified Redeemer. To him they looked, and not to kings, and courts, and cabinets, for the success and triumph of their cause. Nor was it till the church construed herself into the kingdom of Christ on earth, the hierarchy rose, and governmental powers were claimed as best adapted to promote the Saviour's cause,—till reliance was placed more upon an arm of flesh than upon the grace and omnipotence of Jesus Christ and the influence of his Spirit, that the work of Missions became almost exclusively that of the officers of the church, and the object of Missions, not so much the conversion of souls, as the subjugation of dominions to her authority. There is no want of powerful motive to Christian activity, and to Missionary enterprise, in the millenarian faith. It exalts Christ, lifts the heart high as Heaven, and fires with the prospect of entering into the joy of our Lord, of living and reigning with him, if so be that we suffer with him; and thus reconciles us to toil and sorrow-pay, gives us a complacency in these very things, and helps us, as Paul did, to glory in tribulation.
It is ungenerous, and we feel it to be especially unkind to attempt to charge a faith so fertile in motive, with an ineffi. ciency that might have been referred, legitimately, to other causes than to millenarianism, even to those which have more or less for centuries paralyzed the church, and which still affect the minds of many, whether believing or not in the pre-millenial advent of Christ.
The author of the following pages has deemed these remarks necessary, to bespeak a candid attention to the subject presented in them. He has not enlarged on the practical bearing of the millenarian faith, believing that it was unnecessary, and that the good sense and piety of professing Christians, under the guidance of God's Spirit, will make the proper use of them, whenever and wherever they are seen and felt to be the truth of God. He commends the work to the Christian public with much deference, and requests that the attention which the subject merits may be given, if not to these pages, certainly to their great and glorious theme. He offers no apologies for the imperfections which must necessarily mark a performance, prepared in the midst of extended pastoral care and labors, and with but limited means of access to the works of the learned, and especially those which are but rarely to be met with, except in large public libraries. The candid and discerning reader will make all due allowance.
The course of lectures, of which the dissertations are the substance, comprised a wider range, embracing, as well the objects or designs, as the reality of the Saviour's personal and pre-millenial coming. The author has thought it proper to preserve the unity of the work, by confining attention to the latter. Many and very interesting details, in the exposition of prophecy, have, by this course, been excluded. But should the providence of God indicate it, they may at some future day be given to the public.
DUTY OF STUDYING THE PROPHECIES, AND THE
ThE. diligent and careful study of prophecy is highly commended in the Sacred Scriptures. Motives, urging to it also are suggested; so that, whoever may practically undervalue the prophetical parts of the word of God, cannot, with any fair pretext, question either the obligation or the importance of their study. Yet have both been done. In commencing a series of disquisitions, therefore, designed to aid in the discharge of this duty, it becomes proper and necessary to illustrate and to enforce, to some extent, the obligations binding all to it. Its importance will be manifest, at every stage, in the progress of the investigations proposed.
I. THE SAME OBLIGATION WHICH BINDS US TO THE STUDY
OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES, ALSO BINDS US TO THE STUDY OF THE PROPIECIES THEY CONTAIN.
The blessed Redeemer has commanded us to “search the Scriptures."* In having so done, He has enjoined something more than the loose casual reading of them, or the things which pass current with many for their study. It will not suffice, having brought into view this or the other doctrine, the notions of this or the other theological school or professor, to examine and collate the texts by which they may be proved: nor will it suffice to search for all the texts, by which this or the other system of theological truth, this or the other body of divinity, this or the other theory of religion, may have its general and particular parts or features confirmed. This is but studying the doctrines or opinions, the theories or systems, of man's excogitation and arrangement.
Nor does the careful investigation of the creeds of different churches, and the adoption of that professed by the one to which we may belong, meet our obligations in this matter. It is not designed, either to disparage creeds, or to object to their legitimate use; but the study of any creed, or confession of faith, is not the study of the word of God. No man ever dreamed that he is studying Newton's Principia, Cavallo's Philosophy, Gibbon's Rome, or Hume's History of England, who does no more than consult the index, turn over their pages, and examine whether this or the other proposition or fact, previously stated, is contained in them. No more can he be said to study the Sacred Scriptures-no matter how diligent he may
John, 5. 39.