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“ God's purposes should not be kept back and concealed from our fellow men, who, immersed in the business and cares of this world, give far too little time to the study of God's word. It is our clear duty to confess the truth, and the ministers of God are more especially watchmen on the watch-tower, and bound to discern the signs of the times, and to give notice to their people of God's purposes, as revealed in his word, and developing in his Providence.
“ We are expressly told, though the word of God was read every Sabbath day in the synagogues, Acts xv. 21, that the Jews through ignorance of that word, crucified the Lord of glory, Acts 1. 17, 18. St. Paul says, “ They that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him.” Acts xIII. 27. Oh, may we then be warned not to be ignorant of the voices of the prophets, lest we make an irremediable mistake about his second coming, thinking it at a distance, instead of preparing for its approach.
“ The prophetic writings should be carefully read, not merely for the future events which they foretell, but as every where bearing the rich treasures of divine truth; and furnishing noble displays of the glory of God, and clear manifestations of the way of salvation, of the duties of the creature, and of his dependance on the Creator. They are full of deep doctrines, sweet promises, holy precepts, and heart-stirring motives to follow the will, and to live to the praise of the great eternal Jehovah. Their holiness speaks their divinity, even before their fulfilment has made it a demonstration; their present usefulness declares the wis• dom and lovingkindness of the Lord, even before their accomplishment has displayed his omniscient eye, his omnipotent arm, his perfect equity, and boundless grace.
“ It has pleased the Holy Spirit to reveal things in a variety of ways. “Sometimes,' says Bishop Lowth, “the obvious or literal sense is so prominent and conspicuous, both in the words and sentiments, that the remote or figurative sense is scarcely permitted to glimmer through it. On the other hand, and that more frequently, the figurative sense is found to beam forth with so much perspicuity and lustre, that the literal sense is quite cast into a shade, or becomes indiscernible.' Let us not lean on our own or any other man's wisdom, so much as upon the constant teaching of the Holy Ghost, and comparing Scripture with Scripture.”
The following are “explicit statements of the value of prophecy, as a light to the church: Amos 111. 7; John xv. 15."
“ One grand instrument of effecting the blessed reformation was the popular conviction that Popery was the Man of Sin, and Papal Rome, the Babylon of Revelation. But for this interpretation of prophecy, we might still have been in the darkness and infatuation of that awful perversion of the Gospel.
“If we wait till all are agreed, before we are influenced by prophetic truths, we must wait till the day of grace be passed, and Christ be come in his glory."*
That the book of the Revelation of John, as indeed the other books of prophecy, should have been comparatively so little regarded in the assemblies of Protestants, and other sections of the Christian church, is but a tacit acknowledgment that their contents have been undervalued, and that the fulfilment of the past, and gradual developement of the future state of the church, have not been presented to our attention, even from the period of the Reformation, as strong sources of joy and consolation, and as being connected with “ the principles of the doctrine of Christ” as much as any other. They have rather been considered as occupying an unimportant or intermediate interest in the concerns of earth and heaven. Mr. Cox well observes : “ To the real believer in the coming and kingdom of Christ this part of divine truth is a prominent part: he does not allow it to push other objects out of their places; but to him, its proper station appears to be an eminent one. It is not a non-essential, and so it is important. In his eyes it sheds rays of glory upon all other parts of truth, and so it is glorious. To him the temple of truth is incomplete without it, and so it is most necessary. He feels that this doctrine is designed for the heart, in connexion with the head; and that it is divinely calculated to comfort in sorrow, to raise up under dishonour, to cheer in persecution, and to enliven in duty; in fine, whatsoever things are lovely, profitable, and of good report, are nourished and cherished by believing expectations of the glorious appearing, infallible judgment, and righteous reign of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.'” Again, he further truly observes : “ Many parts of God's word are more fully understood by those who receive this doctrine than by those who reject it. Wrong conceptions of any one revealed truth of God lead to a misunderstanding of many parts of the Bible. For instance, let any one reject the doctrine of Christ's proper divinity, how many hundreds of passages must he mutilate, wrest, and misapply! It is the same with the doctrine in question ; and I do again affirm, that by receiving it, hundreds of passages have an easy and satisfactory interpretation, which if it be denied, must be tortured and abused, or else, which is frequently the case, wholly neglected. * * * A few favourite texts are reiterated by preachers and hearers, a system is constructed, and the rest of the Bible little alluded to. This is one grand reason of the rejection of the doctrine of Christ's premillennial advent and kingdom. This doctrine runs like a vein from Genesis to Revelation. Reject it, and the Bible becomes misunderstood. This holds particularly true of the Book of Psalms, and the writings of the prophets. You may cull out a text here and there, but the design of God is not traced by those who reject this doctrine.” Neither will this neglect be found accordant with the motives whereby God stimulates our faith and practice, the greater portion of which should be undoubtedly derived from passages describing the victorious and triumphant state of the church during the reign of the Redeemer with his saints, when “he shall come to judge the world in righteousness,” or dispense justice throughout the earth. These blessed hopes, which are necessarily founded on the atonement of the Redeemer, constitute the highest topics of the sacred writers. They are frequently expressed in rapturous bursts of inspiration, as the principal and conclusory theme of all their predictions; and this with such extraordinary grandeur and sublimity, as are wholly unequalled : moreover, as Bishop Horsley justly observes: “The hyperbole is a figure which can never be admitted in the divine promises : on the contrary, it is always to be presumed that more is meant than the highest figures can express adequately.”
* Bickersteth's Practical Guide to the Prophecies.
It is a melancholy reflection, then, that so many should shut the eyes of their understanding, and close the door of their hearts, against these manifest declarations of God's designs. But independent of the express manner in which the Millennial doctrines, together with the preceding and correlative events, are revealed, the present condition of the world, as compared with what is foretold of their future accomplishment, is altogether in accordance with them. For example:—the sincere and discerning followers of Christ will acknowledge with what sorrow of heart, if not misgivings and dismay, they have contemplated the active advances of sin and apostacy, under all their hideous forms, notwithstanding the combined energies of the Christian world,--the vast and persevering efforts of missionary zeal, and the extensive circulation of the Scriptures. They will perceive that the efforts of the Destroyer keep more than pace with their efforts; and, following the views which Scripture and experience unitedly unfold, they will perceive that the grand enemy of mankind can never be gradually repressed under the ordinary providence of God; nor “the blindness, with which he has blinded the eyes of them who believe not,” fully removed ; nor " the rulers of the darkness of this world, the wicked spirits in high places” be cast down; nor “ the principalities and powers of the air” be completely subdued, until “the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with (Gr.) the angels of his power, in flaming fire, yielding vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." They will perceive that Satan must be “bound" with “a chain" of darkness before he can be dislodged from his “stronghold,” and disrobed of his mantle of “ an angel of light," before mankind will cease to be enamoured of his illusions. Then, and then only, shall “ the glorious gospel" prove triumphant throughout the world, and the