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man nature they study the past ; and from thence draw lessons of instruction in regard to the causes and consequences that occur in the phenomena of mental, moral and social existence. These furnish data on which to predicate calculations for the future. Those well versed in a knowledge of humanity, may judge somewhat accurately respecting results growing out of existing circumstances. We form opinions in reference to future events from our knowledge of what has already transpired ; and from notions thus derived, we regulate our purposes, and determine our doings.
In this way, the skillful and discerning General often predicts with some degree of accuracy the future movements of the enemy, and prepares to thwart him in his enterprizes.
In this manner, the statesman foretels the consequences that will ensue, when any particular policy is adopted by government, determines what will be done by different nations, and what will be the final issue- and prospectively discovers the changes and revolutions that will transpire in the world, for a period to come.
It is by this means that the philosopher perceives with some degree of correctness the future condition of society—and how it is to be affected by adopted principles and doctrines.
He may know the principles and characteristics of humanity, and the bearings particular views and sentiments may have on mind and heart. He may form a just idea of the result of existing influences; and from the present, decide what will be witnessed in coming time.
Such predictions as these, some would have us understand are the Jewish prophecies, to which we ascribe Divine inspiration. But it should be observed, that predictions of human wisdom predicated on the philosophy of things must be very vague and indefinite --- must consist in generals, , rather than in particulars. The calculalations are like that of the gamester in mov
ing chessmen on the chessboard. He may anticipate with some accuracy the movements that will be made, judging from present appearances, and the knowledge he has of facts; and make his calculations accordingly. But his anticipations cannot embrace minute details; and at best is a matter of chance. Not so with the Jewish prophets. They embrace in their visions, events that are to transpire in some remote period of time; and notice some of the details in such a way, that the fulfilment gives evidence that the circumstances were as fully understood as though they had been eye witnesses of what they have recorded—in a manner that evinces they must have been endowed with superhuman foresight to have been able to foretell with such precision what was to transpire in coming generations.
It may however be remarked by way of objection, that such exactitude in fulfilment is not so clearly manifest, as is evident from the fact, that various interpre
tations are given Scripture prophecy—and thus it is made to apply to different circumstances transpiring in different ages of the world."
It is true that some things embodied in prophetic communications are rendered rather obscure by the highly figurative language employed—and different interpreters have applied them to various occurren
But many of the prophecies are so definite and plain, as to leave no room for doubt and speculation—and those which seem to be veiled in greater uncertainty, and allow more room for conjecture, will be found on close examination, generally attended with that evidence of application which leaves but little chance for cavil and controversy.
Almost everything is liable to be misconstrued. The meaning of Statute laws, framed with a view of having them understood by all, are often misapprehended. The simple, short document, called the - Constitution of the United States," which
is expressed in language addressed to almost every capacity--and is as unambiguous as almost any Instrument of its length, has involved a world of controversy among our more enlightened statesmen respecting its meaning, and will be a matter of disputation for years to come.
Even common conversation is often misconstrued, and further explanation is required to correct false impressions. Errors of this kind arise in habits of thinking—in a solicitude to accomplish some particular purpose-in preconceived opinions--in cherished prejudices and often in particular shades of meaning given to terms and phrases. The perceptions of men vary. Disinterested witnesses differ in their testimony concerning things with which they have had alike acquaintance. What is conclusive evidence to one, may not convince another. Men reason differently from the same premises. With humanity there is no infallibility. But there are many things so fully demonstrated as to become generally recived truths—and there are