« PreviousContinue »
Truth, in this important research, is, I hope, as "it ought to be, my principal concern; and I shall rejoice to see these sacred prophecies truly inter"preted, though the correction of my mistakes should lay the foundation of so desirable a super"structure."
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION.
THE work now offered to the Public in a second edition, was composed in the year 1812, while the French power was yet unbroken, and during the campaign of Bonaparte in Russia. The author, having long entertained a persuasion, that the events of our own times are rapidly unfolding the intricacies of the prophetic roll of the Scriptures, has for many years been in the habit of associating an attentive view of all the passing scenes, which in this age, have astonished and confounded the anticipations and calculations of human wisdom, with the study of the divine word of inspiration.
If, however, it be difficult, as in many cases it confessedly is, to interpret predictions, which are already completely fulfilled, it certainly is a more arduous task, to apply prophecy to events, which are only in part developed. Some indeed, are so convinced of the impossibility of success in such an undertaking, as to reject as rash and illegitimate, all attempts, to read in the sacred volume the occurrences of our own times. But it may be shown, from the scriptures, that this opinion is wrong.Our Lord reproved the Jews, for not discerning the
signs of their own times. Now what were these signs, but the strict, correspondence of the events which they beheld, with the prophetic annunciations of a former age? Again, our Saviour, after predicting in highly figurative language the political convulsions, which in the last ages were to be the forerunners of the second advent, says to his church, "When ye see these things begin to come to pass, "then lift up your heads, for your redemption "draweth nigh.”* But how, in this case also, are believers to discern the accomplishment of the predicted signs, unless by comparing the words of Christ with current events?
Indeed, the sentiment I am now refuting, though it comes to us under the specious guise of humility and self-diffidence, is in reality founded on indolence and sloth, and partakes largely of that spirit of unbelief, which has usually pervaded the minds of the great body of mankind, under the most unequivocal indications of the wrath of the Almighty, and when his judgments have been most conspicuously poured forth, on a profane and thoughtless world.
What has been said, may be sufficient to vindicate the legitimacy of the inquiries pursued in this volume. But when the observations already made, with respect to the great difficulty of this department of sacred researches are considered, it will not be matter of surprise, that I should in my first edition, have
* Luke xxi. 18.
by such feculatio,
fallen into very important mistakes. These errors are acknowledged in their proper places, and it is therefore unnecessary for me to mention them more But then he's particularly here. I shall however, observe, that in though the late mighty political changes in Europe, J. Julia. have entirely contradicted some of my former anticipations, they seem to be in no degree inconsistent with my general theory. On the contrary, the present pacification of the nations which occupy the territories of the western empire, the great theatre of the Apocalyptic prophecies, appears to fill up an important chasm in the exposition I had previously offered, of the vision at the beginning of the seventh chapter, which I consider, to be the great key to the present state of the world. In other respects also, my views of the characters of the present period; of its place in the chronology of prophecy, and of the nature of the events that are approaching, not only remain unchanged, but are more and more confirmed by the events of the last four years.
The interval which has elapsed since the first publication of the work, has afforded me an opportunity of carefully reviewing its principles. But whatever errors I have been led into with respect to the meaning of particular passages, I have not as yet seen reason to abandon any one of my canons of interpretation; and after having considered all the objections that I have met with to my general
arrangement of the seals and trumpets, I remain satisfied of its truth. Yet I know too well how painful and difficult was my own perception of the system I have attempted to develop in these pages, which has been slowly and gradually matured during a period of sixteen years, to expect that even if true, it will make a very rapid progress in public opinion. I am content to leave its fate to time. So far as my theories are just they will ultimately prevail. If they be false, they will deservedly sink into oblivion among the ephemeral novelties of the day. Feeling as I do very little anxiety on this point, I have not thought myself called upon to answer the strictures made upon my interpretations by more recent writers, where I am unconvinced of their solidity. To undertake such a task would swell the present volume to an undue size, and for the same reason (as well as from a sense of the dangers and unprofitableness of controversy,) I have abstained from any discussion of the merits of those theories of prophecy which have lately appeared. The opinion of the more judicious and enlightened of the students of this branch of sacred literature, will decide between these systems and the one contained in this volume.
I am bound here, however, to observe, that the judgment already pronounced on my work by two very able reviewers, has very far exceeded the expectations I had formed when I first gave it to the public: and as neither of them are known to me; I take this