« PoprzedniaDalej »
them than the literalists; though he is by far more injuriously and slanderously treated, and frequently styled a fanatic and madman, by certain spiritualists with whom he holds so much in common, than by the literalists, who can agree with him in so very little.
The other thing that obviously results from the prophets' use of types and typical language, is the literality of the results predicted in both cases, as fully and as certainly in those most remote, as in those near at hand, which were their types and pledge. The brazen serpent, for example, was a literal carnal ordinance, but the type of Christ upon the cross as the means of healing, just as literally and truly lifted up from the earth. The locusts were literally an army of devastation, but the type of the Assyrian army, which, too, was as literal a verity as the locusts them. selves. So, too, the ancient Assyrian and his destruction, Moab, Edom, and the ancient Babylon and their destruction, were literal types of Rome and of its veritable destruction, as the last political power and empire that should arise in the world, and be destroyed by the coming of Christ; and therefore, on the principles of literal interpretation, we look for something more than the meliorating influence of Christianity, the reformation of popery, and the evangelization and civilisation or conversion of the world, even the violent and terrible destruction of the city of Rome, of the whole ecclesiastico-political system of popery, and of all the anti-Christian nations and powers which form the constituent parts of the last universal Roman empire.
The importance, in the study of the prophecies, of having correct principles of interpretation, has induced us to pursue the subject more extensively than we had at first designed. Having affirmed them to be the same substantially with those we apply to all ordinary works, written in the same characters of style ; having at some length unfolded the varieties of prophetical style, comprising, in general, the Alphabetical, the Tropical, the Symbolical, and the Typical ; haying, as we think, proved the literal system of interpretation in contradistinction from the spiritual or allegorical to be the true ;-and having endeavored to guard against the more common mistakes and misapprehensions growing out of ignorance, as to what the literal system is, we deem it proper, before applying these principles of interpretation, to the predictions concerning TIIE COMING AND KINGDOM OF Jesus Christ, to lay before the reader a general outline of the two systems as applied to these subjects, and brought out in their general results, and after having done so, to TRACE THEIR HISTORY, so far as traditionary records
may throw any light upon them.
We do not, it is true, hold to tradition as decisive authority ; nor do we admit it, for one moment, to be either a source of original information, of equal
value with the written Scriptures, or the only infallible interpreter : but we nevertheless affirm that as history, it is of great use in determining how primi. tive Christians, either in the apostolic days, or immediately after, understood the language of the inspired writers. We value the writings of the fathers, and of the ancient Jewish Rabbis, as exponents of the views entertained in the church, both before, and immediately after the coming of Christ. When those views coincide with the written Scriptures, as grammatically in. terpreted, we feel bound to treat them with respect.
Retracing the stream of traditionary history on this subject, we admit that much will be found deserving of no respect whatever, being the opinions, the specu. lations, and the additions of different individuals and ages. Because certain heretics, as Cerinthus and others, who, according to Eusebius' account of this here. siarch, adopted some of the leading features of the millenarian views, and gave them altogether a sensual dress,* until they were incorporated into the belief of the eastern nations, who adopted the religion of Mahomet, and indulged the expectation of a sensual Heaven, is no more reason why the whole of their views, and the system of literal interpretation, should be rejected, than the anti-millenarian, or spiritualist, would feel it to be a good and valid reason for rejecting his views, and the spiritual system of interpretation, because some of his notions about the coming of Christ, and the nature of the kingdom of Heaven, together with his system of spiritual interpretation, have led to the despotism and splendid extravagance of Papal and other hierarchies ;-to the reveries and mysticism, and unintelligible allegories of the Hon. Emanuel Sweden
Eusebii Pamphili Ecclesiasticæ Historiæ, lib. iii. cap. 28.
borg and his followers, or to the generalization and philosophical expositions of the Neologists of Ger. many, and of the Unitarians of Great Britain and the United States, who boldly, but falsely, and as we think, blasphemously speak, of "the contradictions of the Old Testament, its legends, so beautiful as fictions, so appalling as facts, its predictions that have never been fulfilled, its puerile conceptions of God, and the cruel denunciations that disfigure both Psalm and prophecy."*
Our object is; not to give the history of either system in its. details ; nor to contrast them minutely; but merely to present the general outlines of both, as they take their form from the leading and essential ideas on which they are respectively founded.
Both admit the fact of the second coming of Jesus Christ, suddenly, visibly, and gloriously, for the purpose of raising the dead bodies of his saints, quickening the living, judging the world, and establishing for ever the glorious dominion or kingdom of Heaven. They, therefore, both believe and teach these five great general facts, viz. the visible appearance of Jesus Christ—the resurrection of the bodies of the dead -a day of universal judgment-a Millenium, and a kingdom of glory inconceivable and eternal. They differ greatly, however, as to the import of these facts, and the time, order, and manner of their occurrence.
The spiritualist objects to any attention being given to chronological prophecy, affirming that it is designedly kept secret, and therefore almost impious to attempt to determine when Jesus Christ shall come again to this world, partly, because he says it is not revealed, and partly, because he takes it for granted,
• Th. Parker's Discourse, p. 31.
that it is not to be expected, at all events, till some time after the Millenium. He pleads that the Saviour, after his resurrection, rebuked the disciples for prying into this matter, observing that it was not for them "to know the times and the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power,
»* and had previously and cxplicitly declared " of that day and of that hour knowetli no man, no, not the angels which are in Heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.”+
It is worthy of remark, that since the time these things were said by the Saviour, the counsels and plans of the Father have been further revealed, and that since the return of the Saviour to the Father, He has given very copious comments on former predictions, and added greatly to the field of prophecy by the revelations which he has made through the Spirit, by the apostles, and especially by John, who carries us down to the very time of the end. We do not, indeed, plead for any attempts to fix certainly the date of the Saviour's second coming, and the epoch of the resurrection of the saints, and of the introduction of His glorious kingdom : but this we affirm, that it will not do, as it is very often done, to plead the remarks made by the Saviour, which were literally true up to the date when they were made, and appeal to them as authoritative and absolute, in reference to a later period, in the discharge of the duties confided to him by the Father, and when, from the fact of extended revelations having been subsequently made, and chronological prophecies too, delivered, it is evident that the Father has subsequently made known to the Son, officiating as the Mediator, more of his counsels and plans. Still we do not mean to say, that the precise day and hour
* Acts, 1. 7.
† Mat. 24. 36.