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didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words." His own times, and the destination of his people, whose captivity he knew, "by books and the number of the years," to be now nearly expiring, were the objects of his solicitude and prayer. This his solicitude is not reprehended: on the contrary, he is called "greatly beloved;" and not only is his prayer answered, by making him "understand the matter" of his desire, but his faith is further rewarded by his being given to “understand what should befal his people in the latter days, for yet the vision is for many days." Of these latter visions he is commanded (xii. 4) to "shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end," when (ver. 10) " many shall be purified, and made white, and tried: but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand." These are "the wise that shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever" (ver. 3); and it is at the latter day, when "many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake." (ver. 2.) Till which time of blessedness, it is said to Daniel (ver. 13), " Go thou thy way till the end be; for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days."
Such guidance from above was also sought and obtained by the Apostolic churches. They knew and felt the necessity of Divine teaching. They remembered our Lord's reproof to his disciples (Luke xxiv. 25), " O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken;" and that, though he had said (Acts i. 7)," it is not for you to know the times or the seasons," he also goes on to say (i. 8), " but ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you." On this promise the Apostles constantly acted, and went forth to the church," not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power; that their faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God" (1 Cor. ii. 5); speaking "the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before unto our glory which none of the princes of this world knew; for had they known it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of a man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world,
but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God: which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual." (v. 13.) "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables when we made known unto you the power and coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of his majesty; and "have also a more sure word of prophecy.......which came not by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." (2 Peter i. 17.)
Such Divine teaching the Reformers also expected; and therefore sought earnestly, by prayer and supplication for the illumination of the Holy Spirit, that he would enlighten their understandings to perceive the truth, and open their lips for its utterance. These men, it will be allowed, possessed great natural force of mind: they were also furnished with an ample stock of learning; but one of them has left it on record, that when, in his translation of the Scriptures, he met with a passage which he was at a loss to interpret, he frequently overcame the difficulty on his knees, after books and study had failed to solve it. And of him it is written by a friend, Sæpe a Deo locorum obscurorum intelligentiam vehementibus precibus efflagitans."--In our own times we might mention many, who, following these noble examples, have, by the results, convinced us that those investigations alone are greatly successful which are begun in prayer, carried on in a spirit of prayer, and concluded with thanksgiving to the Author of every good and perfect gift. That we need Divine teaching as much as Daniel and the Apostles did, he who best knows the subject and himself will be least disposed to deny. As little will such an one doubt that "understanding" shall be given, if sought for as they sought it. Angelic messengers we look not for; a voice from heaven we expect not: the message of God was fully delivered when, after the long train of " servants, last of all he sent forth his Son :" the word of revelation was completed in that which Jesus gave to his servant John (Rev. xxii. 20). But a teaching such as the Reformers expected, as preternatural as that given to the Apostles, as intelligible as that to Daniel, we may expect in the influences of the Holy Spirit, who "shall take of the things of Christ and shew them unto us" (John xvi. 15); "who shall abide with the church for ever" (John xiv. 16); " shall teach all things, and bring all things to remembrance" (ver. 26); "testify of Jesus" (xv. 26): " and the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Rev. xix. 10).
Of the human means for interpreting prophecy, a thorough knowledge of the Hebrew language is the most important. By a thorough knowledge, we mean, not only a critical acquaint
ance with its structure and idioms, such as lexicons and teachers may supply, but an insight into the genius and philosophy of this venerable tongue, such as cannot be attained but by much research and reflection operating on an independent turn of mind. Etymology, in its large sense, is important in all languages, but in the Hebrew it may be pronounced nearly all in all. The Hebrew radicals are verbs, expressing some action or quality; which radical meaning may be always recognised in the derivatives, however inflected or varied. But it is obvious that this radical meaning has taken its character from the age and country in which the language, in its elementary form, originated; and that the derivatives would receive a different character, or some modification, if they were added to the original language in times or countries far distant. Now the Bible is not, like the Iliad, a production of one age or country; but its books were successively added, during a period of a thousand years, and in various countries, from the Red Sea to the Euphrates. The slightest reflection will convince any one of the extensive and important bearing which this succession of time and place has had on the impassioned and imaginative strains of the Prophets, and satisfy him that an accurate knowledge of the history and antiquities of those times and countries is necessary, even in philology. The necessity for this kind of knowledge is further evident by considering the modern characteristics of that people by whom the Hebrew Scriptures have been handed down to us: a people who are, of all others, least given to philosophical inquiry or independent thinking, and who, in their servile adherence to the letter, allow no change of meaning to a word, whether in Moses or Malachi. The much litigated words, and , berith and copher, will at once occur to the Hebrew scholar as illustrations of the
.c& גאל,חטא,צפר,אור היטב above; the derivatives from
confirm the fact; and the successive accretions to the titles of God are instances still more striking and important.
But an extensive acquaintance with the manners and customs of the ancients, which is thus necessary for the language, is equally necessary for understanding the argument and line of thought in the Prophets, which would be often unintelligible to an European reader without this acquaintance. Considerable light is thrown on all these subjects by the researches of modern travellers, who often explain and confirm in a remarkable manner what history has imperfectly recorded or wholly omitted. For there is such a strong character of fixedness and durability about the institutions and manners of the East, that many traces of patriarchal times subsist at this day; and, in the more retired districts, their customs, modes of life, dress,
personal demeanour, and form of expression, still retain much of the primeval simplicity.
Natural history also, in its most extensive sense, must be studied by him who would fully understand the Prophecies. The animals and their different instincts supply frequent illustrations, and sometimes give a time of fulfilment to the prophecy, which we could not otherwise ascertain. In Isa. xxi. 8, "he cried as a lion:" this alone marks no time; but ver. 9, " Babylon is fallen;" and ver. 10, "O my threshing, and the corn of my floor;" which connect the roaring of the lion with the fall of Babylon and with the time of harvest, giving the full meaning to Jer. xlix. 19, 1. 44, where the destroyer of Babylon "comes up like a lion from the swellings of Jordan:" for "Jordan overfloweth his banks all the time of harvest" (Jos. iii. 15, 1 Chron. xii. 15), which drove the lions, from their dens in its banks, up to the higher country with continual roarings. The seasons of the year and the products of the earth are still more extensively applicable to a discovery of the time of fulfilment; for there is scarcely a prophecy in which some reference to agriculture does not occur; which reference is at once a link connecting it with some other prophecy, and a chronological mark which fixes its place in the stream of time. Thus, the burning of chaff and stubble is associated with the day of the Lord's vengeance, Mal. iv. 1, and therefore follows close upon the threshing of Babylon (Isa. xxi. 10); and the vintage in Joel iii. 13, Rev. xix. 15, is in like manner linked to the day of vengeance (Isa. lxiii. 3), which ushers in the year of the redeemed (ver. 4).
Closely connected with the seasons, by which in fact they were regulated, are the great festivals of the Jewish year, so frequently alluded to in the Prophecies. These are all demonstrably typical; and, taken singly, foreshew each some future act; taken in connection, foreshew the order in which these acts shall take place. "Christ our passover is sacrificed for us (1 Cor. v. 7). "Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept" (1 Cor. xv. 20). "But into the second tabernacle went the high priest alone, once every year" (Heb. ix. 7): "Christ entered in once into the holy place" (ver. 12), "heaven itself" (ver. 24); "And unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation" (ver. 28). Here the three great acts of Christ's death, resurrection, and ascension, are linked to the solemnities of the Passover, First-fruits, and Day of Atonement. The only remaining solemnity in the Jewish year is the Feast of Tabernacles, which we know does not take place till after the rending of the veil, when "he shall appear the second time" (Heb. ix. 28);
"and his feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives." (Zech. xiv. 4.) "Every one that is left, of all the nations which came against Jerusalem, shall even go up from year to year to worship the King the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles." (ver. 16.) And contemporaneous therewith is the manifestation of the countless multitude of redeemed ones, "having palms in their hands." (Rev. vi. 9.) Seeing, therefore, that a correct knowledge of the Jewish feasts is so important, we shall take an early opportunity of explaining them.
Not less important is the Tabernacle and its contents; of all which, together with the various sacrifices and legal ordinances, it may be said, that they were, not mere temporary provisions for the wilderness, but a great body of types shadowing forth good things to come; and it therefore became necessary to exhibit them in all their detail to Moses in the mount, and so strictly to enjoin him to conform them in all respects to what he had there seen: "See that thou make all things according to the pattern shewn thee in the mount." (Heb. viii. 7.) The necessity for understanding all these is evident from the whole Epistle to the Hebrews.
In this enumeration of the various means by which we may expect to understand the Prophecies, and the several departments of study they comprehend, we have not yet adverted to one, which is to a certain extent presupposed and included in them all, but which is so important, and so frequently misapplied, that we must not pass it over: we mean, the application of the New Testament to the prophecies of the Old. There is no branch of our inquiry in which correct judgment, and independence of mind almost amounting to hardihood, are so necessary as in this. It involves theology at every step, as well as interpretation; it has to encounter established prejudices as often as to claim their support; and must not only shew what is the right application, but refute that which is wrong. mistake in this is solitary, but draws with it many more, affecting both the Testaments; and a combination of error is often brought forward as an established principle, and error thus propagated far and wide. Under this head no general rules can be given; but our own method of applying the New Testament to the Old will be exemplified in almost every article. To these things we only refer, in order to shew that we are aware of the extent and requirements of our undertaking, and to guard our readers against expecting too much at once, or all the necessary qualifications in any one man; but we hope by subdivision of labour, to combine in one work what no single person could do. These several means all respect the Word of Prophecy; but the Prophet himself and his auditors must not be disregarded: