Page images
PDF
EPUB

REMARKS ON SOME WORKS

OF

J. H. FRERE, ESQ.

one.

To the foregoing tract I am induced to add some remarks, which I published as a Review in the year 1848'. My object will be pretty obvious; but a few words

may

make it still plainer. In the first place they contain, I think, matter sufficient to expose the ignorance, or dishonesty, of those who talk of the “year-day” system as the “ protestant”

Secondly. It is very curious, and should be very instructive, to observe that, utterly opposed as the Lutheran calculators were to the “year-day” system of English interpreters,—setting out in their calculations on different principles, and following different courses,

-both parties agreed (it was almost the only matter of date or calculation in which they did agree) that the great crisis would take place in A.D. 1847.

Thirdly. Since that time a work has been published

1 British Magazine, July, Vol. XXXIV. p. 86.

intituled “Notes forming a brief interpretation of the Apocalypse : intended to be read in connexion with • The Combined View of the Prophecies of Daniel, Ezra, and St. John': by James Hatley Frere, Esq., originally communicated by the author, and now published by permission.” The Editor, who does not give his name, states in his preface that the substance of the notes was given to him by Mr. Frere, and that they “ have, as they now stand, been submitted to him [Mr. Frere], and are, by his permission offered as some assistance to the study of his interpretation of the Apocalypse, pending the more complete view which he purposes to give" ;-it may be well before Mr. Frere does this, that people should be informed, or reminded, of some things which he has done already.

Fourthly. It will be seen that the work reviewed was written “In reply to a Letter from a Member of a Society of Prophetic Students”; and I wrote the remarks upon it not so much with any idea that I could disabuse Mr. Frere of his error, as under a hope that I might learn whether the Society of Prophetic Students had found their very natural misgivings fairly met and satisfied by his reply. This however I have not learned—but a few words on this point may come better after the Review, which I will now give just as it stands. The reader will recollect that it was published in July 1848. The Great Continental Revolution, marking the Expiration of

the Times of the Gentiles, A.D. 1847-8. In reply to a Letter from a Member of a Society of Prophetic Students.

To which is added, a Reprint of a Letter dated July 15, 1845, addressed to the Rev. Dr. Wolff, on the Expiration of “ The Times of the Gentiles," A.D. 1847, and of other occasional papers illustrative of the present period. By James Hatley Frere, Esq. Hatchard, 1848. 8vo. pp. 123.

Four and thirty years ago Napoleon was the great object of attention. Everybody was anxiously watching to see what he would do next, and what would become of him. At that time Mr. Frere thought that he could foresee, and very confidently predicted, one important part of the mighty Corsican's destiny. It was not anything which would be obscure, or disputable~it was not liable to be puzzled or hidden by subtleties of thought, or figures and mysteries of speech --it was a plain, tangible, notorious matter of fact (if a fact at all) of which all the world would be fully advertised and fully able to judge. A fact so great, and singular, and important, and at the same time so far from utter improbability, as that while it would be no particular voucher for the penetration and sagacity of the interpreter if it did happen, it would totally ruin his credit if it did not. He confidently told the world that Napoleon Buonaparte would become Emperor of Rome. Speaking with reference to Rev. xvii. 11, he said :

“ This prophecy, which leads us to infer that Buonaparte will become Emperor of Rome, is so confirmed by other circumstantial prophetic evidence, that I do not hesitate to avow my conviction of the CERTAINTY of the event, although

he is at this time so situated, as in appearance to render such an event highly improbable—having, however, more than a year ago foreseen and declared, from the prophetic writings, the reverses which France would undergo, and has since sustained, as well as the termination of her tyrannical career, and the future removal of the Empire of Buonaparte from France to Italy, I see nothing in his present circumstances but what has a direct tendency towards the accomplishment of the Prophecies thus understood. Three or four years will shew how far I am correct in my views, and I wish now to record my opinion, that it may become hereafter an evidence of the clearness and precision of the prophetic writings._Combined View, p. 101, n.

Lackaday, it is evidence of something very different. But so confident was the writer, and so fearful that when the event should happen he might not get credit for the actual extent of his foresight, that he added, in an italic parenthesis to the note from which we have just quoted, “(This note dated 30th April, 1814. . Printed 28th May, 1814.)”

This, however, was not the only point on which Mr. Frere ventured to be very explicit, and to put together facts and dates with what has turned out to be mistaken confidence. With full complacency he told his readers, in the same work :

“ It has already been CLEARLY SHEWN, in examining other prophecies, that the 1260 years' prosperity of the Papacy terminated in the year 1792 ; and that the thirty years' destruction of the Roman Empire will terminate in the year 1822, when the Papal and Infidel powers will be de

stroyed, and the Jews restored to their own land; after this, we have found, that prophetic history becomes less distinct,” &c.-Comb. View, p. 244.

But readers in 1815 were not much disheartened by learning that prophetic history was “ less distinct” after 1822. In the course of seven years, and in the midst of such events as were more distinct, and as were so confidently announced as “clearly shewn,” and as seemed therefore to be beyond all doubt, they might be content to wait, and naturally expect that something more would be developed respecting the still future. Perhaps it was a state of more gratifying excitement to know that such great matters would happen within seven years, and that then nobody could guess what would follow, than could have been produced by any professed explanation of everything.

To return, however, to matters of fact-it is hardly necessary to say, that Napoleon did not remove the seat of his Empire to Rome, or that, whatever may be said of the Papal Power as continuing or ceasing, or of the Infidel Power as having existed at all, it is quite clear that the Jews had not been restored long after the year 1822. Such an issue with regard to things so strongly predicted and “clearly shewn," —such plain, undeniable, miserable failure in things so weightywould have discouraged some interpreters. But not so Mr. Frere. Napoleon was gone; but he had left a son who, “having himself shared the brief seventh headship of the Roman Empire, seemed qualified, in

« PreviousContinue »