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THE MIGHTY AND THE HOLY PEOPLE
OF THE ANCIENT WORLD,
AND, ALTHOUGH NOW “A NATION SCATTERED AND PEELED,
METED OUT, AND TRODDEN DOWN,"
THE DESTINED ARISTOCRACY OF THE EARTH
IN THE LATTER DAYS
TO WHOSE PROSPECTS AND EXPECTATIONS,
IN SOME IMPORTANT PARTICULARS,
THIS BOOK OF INSPIRED PROPHECY,
MORE THAN ANY OTHER PORTION OF HOLY WRIT,
GIVES A CLEAR AND DEFINITE CHARACTER
IS VERY RESPECTFULLY & VERY AFFECTIONATELY INSCRIBED,
BY THEIR SINCERE WELL-WISHER,
* Blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee.”
Numbers xxiv, 9.
The mind is capable of being sometimes recreated by various study, as much as it is at other times by a diversion from study. And I have hence, often thought it well for Christian pastors, to devote a portion of their leisure to the instruction, by their writings, of the Church at large, as well as of their own flocks; and of succeeding generations, as well as of the existing one. Their labors are so rendered at once extensive and enduring. They range beyond the sphere of ordinary ministerial action. They outstep even the limits of life; and enable future generations to say of them, when departed, one after another, to their eternal reward, what Holy Scripture says of righteous Abel-He, being dead, yet speaketh.
Then it is the undoubted duty of the minister of Christ to aim at becoming so “instructed unto the kingdom of heaven,” as to be “like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.” Matt. xiii, 32. In order to this, he will, in the prosecution of his Biblical studies, gradually proceed from the more simple to the more recondite truths : from “ the first principles of the Oracles of God,” to those announcements, which are less easy to be apprehended, and, in comparison with the former, are as strong meat” brought into contrast with “ milk.”' Heb. v. 12-14. Making thus a continual advance in religious knowledge, he will be more and more enabled to discharge the duty of " a faithful and wise steward" in the household of God ; at whose hands every one may hope to receive “his portion of meat in due season.
It was a sense of duty, in this particular respect—the duty of becoming as far as possible, wise up to what is written—which led
me, after having been engaged some years in the work of the ministry, to enter on the study of the Apocalypse. Not the mere wish to find a delightful occupation for my leisure hours, such as the study of Prophetic Scripture has in repeated instances afforded, but a desire that this study should become subservient to usefulness – was, (I hope I may say with truth) my stimulating motive to the production of the work now submitted to public notice. That I might prosecute my task with an unbiassed mind, I, in the first instance, avoided Commentaries. In speaking thus, I would not be thought to despise, or undervalue these. I hold them to be, when rightly used, most useful accessaries to ministerial improvement. But, giving them due honor-I would have them kept in their proper place-a secondary one, to the Inspired Word itself-which should be allowed to have its free course into the mind, and to make its impressions there, without a previous possession of the judgment on the part of a merely human instructor. Commentaries may be consulted with advantage afterwards ; and followed, or set aside, as found to agree with, or to differ from, “the Law and the Testimony." But the authority of man should always be held subordinate to that of God; whether it be of man in his individual, or in his collective character, the commentator, speaking alone, or the church with united voice. For-even “General Councils
when they be gathered together, (forasmuch as they be an assembly of men, whereof all be not governed with the Word and Spirit of God) may err, and sometimes have erred, in things pertaining to God. Wherefore things ordained by them, as necessary to salvation, have neither strength nor authority unless it may be declared that they be taken out of Holy Scripture.” Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to
salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be Uquired proved thereby, is not to be received of any man, that it should
, necessary to salvation.”
Although the church be a witness and keeper of Holy Writ . . it is not lawful for the church to . so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another.' “As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch,
have erred, so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in
Nullius addictus jurare in verbg magistri,
I have called them “discoveries ;" because it will be found, that in my “Analysis,” the reader is presented with an entirely neur combination of prophetical facts—an entirely new computation of prophetical numbers--and an entirely new view of many of the visions of St. John, singly and separately contemplated. And I am greatly mistaken if the “ Lines of Apocalyptic Prophecy,” and the accompanying Analysis, will not, by themselves, be found to furnish a more simple, clear, and convincing view, of the scope and design of the Apocalyptic visions, than any commentary that has yet been published - those even of the Rev. E. B. Elliott and Dr. Cumming not excepted.
To those eminent and excellent men I render all honor, while yet constrained to express my entire dissent from their expositions