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ject calls for it, to afford the reader its controversial character, it must a means of investigating Prophecy not be inferred that we purpose to without that perplexity which was exclude all that militates against our previously complained of.
own opinions ; or to prevent reply We hope likewise to make the when sentiments appear countenInvestigator and Expositor more of anced by ourselves, which our reada repertory of information, by giv- ers may be enabled to disprove. Our ing
great aim and object is to elicit 1st. Expositions of various Scrip- TRUTH, and to search and inquire tures, bearing on the subject of Pro- what is really the mind of the Spirit phecy :
revealed in the word of Prophecy. 2ndly. The views of approved In- We are sensible that this is not to terpreters of former times; including be attained unto, in such a manner Translations of portions of the ear- as to afford confidence and satisfaclier Fathers; and Extracts from more tion, without considering well what recent interpreters, or the substance can reasonably be advanced on both of their works condensed ;
sides of every disputed point. Were 3rdly. Reviews of the Works of we left, indeed, merely to follow our modern Writers ; so that the Reader own taste, we should, for ourselves, may be apprised of their contents prefer the Investigator in its previous and character ;
controversial form, and conducted 4thly. Information of every de- on its former principle. For besides scription, (critical, documentary, po- the numerous and able articles it litical or otherwise,) which we may contains on general prophetical todeem calculated to aid or interest pics, our attention has been drawn, the Reader.
by the discussion to which it has And more especially do we hope given rise, to various important suband pray, that the Work may be jects and considerations, which we made instrumental, in a ten-fold de- think would probably not have been gree, in arousing the attention of weighed by us. Besides which, the Christians to take heed to the light ground of many opinions and interof prophecy; to consider the signs pretations has been thoroughly disof the times in which we live ; to cussed and sifted ; and while we are make practical application of the thereby enabled to regard some Word of God to the important events points as more decidedly confirmed, which are so rapidly passing around and not to be successfully disputed
and to stir up the ministers of against by the wit and ingenuity of the Gospel to put their people in men; there are others, which we remembrance of the things spoken used to take for granted, that we before by the prophets of the Lord; have now been led to conclude canlest haply the day of the Lord do not so well stand before a well diafter all overtake themselves and rected and searching criticism. their people as a thief in the night, We shall therefore consider it our (contrary to the assurance given to duty to bring from time to time bethose who are instructed in the times fore the Reader those opinions which and seasons, 1 Thess. v. 1–4,) and have been, in various ages and in find them asleep, or off their watch, different sections of the Church of when they ought to be " looking for Christ, seriously entertained; and him and loving his appearing.' though these opinions will neces
At the same time however that sarily be in numerous respects at we wish to divest our publication of variance, we think that the becom
ing gradually acquainted with them year of strife and excitement; but will in several respects be useful, and such is nevertheless the prospect betend to promote a more complete fore us, that men of all parties and understanding of the subject. And of all opinions, religious and political, though we conceive that the Holy appear to concur in the conviction, Spirit can at any time “shew us that human affairs are still rapidly things to come,” and may vouchsafe hastening forward toward some imto unlearned individuals the right portant crisis. . As regards indeed and true apprehension of a prophecy, the nature of that crisis, great diverwhich may have been hidden from sity of sentiment exists. Some view ages and from generations, and from it as a general break up of the social the wise and prudent in our own system, introductory to that great age; yet the ordinary mode, by which tribulation which is to usher in the the Spirit teaches, is through the aid coming of the Lord. Others regard of those helps and means which that it as the break up of worn out polisame Spirit has himself divided to tical systems, which is to terminate men in the first instance, for the use in halcyon days, in which the hapof the Church and for the perfecting piness of mankind is to be wonderof the saints. We would therefore fully perfected by the general influneither despise, nor reject without ence of democratic principles, and inquiry, the wisdom of former inter- the partial banishment of religion ; preters ; nor would we turn a deaf who, though she may be tolerated ear to the objections made to many in the closet, or at the family hearth, of their statements by modern in- is no longer to be in any way alterpreters : both sides deserve at- lowed to utter her voice abroad, or tention; and to become acquainted in connexion with the affairs of the with them will frequently prevent us state. A third party, viewing only from the dogmatical conceit that we the missionary efforts which are siare advancing something original multaneously going forward, conourselves; and will teach us likewise sider that we are gradually but rapfrom whatsource many plausible mo- idly gliding by their means into a dern theories, and objections to the millennium of piety and universal ories, have at different times arisen. holiness to the Lord. Now the
II, As regards the Year on which Bible is the only source from which we are now entering, we are natu- we can form any thing approaching rally led to consider, whether the to an accurate judgement of the real necessity, importance and interest character and tendency of the events of the Work in which we are en- that are passing around us. The gaged may be said to have diminish- word of Prophecy is specially a light ed; and whether the signs of the for dark and troublous times :a and times are such, as to form any con- it is by its rays alone that the besiderable argument for its continu. liever can derive solid comfort, and
understand the peculiar duties which The state of political parties, and devolve upon him, and the peculiar the warfare of principles, have long dangers which he has to guard abeen such, as to form an unprece- gainst : and more especially it bedented era in the history of Europe, hoves the priests, the ministers of and even of the world. We have the altar, to remember that they are been permitted to conclude another placed as watchmen in Israel ;-that it is their appointed office to tell by similar means. In the mean while their people "what of the night;"– however, the duty and responsibility “ what they see coming;”—whether of Christians remain the same, and it be" a sword” or “ peace.” (Ezek.
a 2 Pet. 1. 19.
God's Word remains the same : it XXXIII.)
plainly shows that we are liable, on Such is the duty of the ministers the one hand, to be rebuked as hyof religion : would that we could pocrites, if we are unable to discern say that it were so generally acted the signs of the times ;c it declares, upon, even by the devout portion of on the other hand, the blessedness of them, as to render useless the con- him that readeth (viz. the minister) tinuance of such an incentive to the and of them that hear (viz. the peostudy of prophecy, or of such a help ple) the words of that prophecy given to it, as we trust “ The Investigator in the Apocalypse.d and Expositor" will approve itself. We may truly say then, in regard Many, we rejoice to say, have indeed to our Work, “ Is there not a cause ?” had their attention earnestly drawn We cannot be wrong in endeavourto the subject since our work com- ing to incite our brethren to so much menced ; and the increase of sober attention to the word of God, as will conviction on this head is cheering: render them more watchful, and stir but there are still many who are up the hope that is in them. This grievously neglectful. When mem- consideration is doubly cogent when bers of their flock would seek know- it is remembered, that hope has exledge at their lips, and have inquired clusively a reference to things to concerning prophecy, saying, “Read come : “ for we are saved by hope, this I pray thee,” the answer has but hope that is seen is not hope : been like those of old : “I cannot for what a man seeth, why doth he for it is sealed ;” or “ I am not yet hope for ?”e
To take away learned :”b whilst some, instead of therefore that portion of God's word candidly acknowledging their inabi- which relates to things to come, is lity, have systematically discouraged to remove the very food of hope, the study of prophecy, or have treat- and to quench one of those three ed it as a portion of the word of God cardinal graces which were to abide not worthy of being ranked among in the Church throughout its period the “all Scripture” that is "pro- of trial. fitable.”
Moreover, whatever may have It is indeed to be regretted, that been the disappointments of the some, who have evidently taken up Church, through false alarms having the subject of prophecy, have in- been raised at times of the Lord's dulged a dogmatical spirit which has coming ; and however frequently its disgusted, whilst others have fallen hope may have been deferred, until into insobriety that has alarmed; but the heart of some may have become these things are nothing more than sick ;f it is not the proper remedy what generally accompany the revi- for this disappointment to let the val and earnest preaching of all doc- Church fall into supineness and negtrine. It is the constant proneness of lect of prophecy. The argument erring human nature to run into ex- that pious men have been mistaken, tremes or extravagancies; and there would hold as good the very hour is no subject whatsoever, which Sa- previous to the actual appearing of tan has not endeavoured to disparage Jesus, as is does at the present day ; b Isa. xxix. 11. 12; 2 Tim. 111. 16. c Matt. xvi. 3.
d Rev. 1. 3. e Rom, vill. 24. f Prov. XIII, 12.
and were it heeded therefore, the of Bengelius. The Rev. W. A. Church must inevitably be taken by Holmes, Chancellor of Cashel, tersurprise. It is declared however to minates in 1836 five different imporbe the special privilege of believers, tant epochs; and proceeds on printhat that day shall not overtake them ciples quite independent of Bengeas a thief; but that they shall be lius, and apparently is unconscious aware—not of the actual“ day and of the views of that writer.t Mr. hour,” but of “the times and sea- Wolff likewise, the eminent Jewish sons.”& And this can only be ef- Missionary, discovered a singular fected by turning to the prophecies, tradition among the Dervishes of and ascertaining “ what withhold- Persia, respecting an expectation of eth,” and what are to be the signs the coming of Christ in 1836. In anof the times immediately to precede swer to a question put to one of this our Lord's advent.
class, when he was at Meshed in There are however circumstances 1831, the following short dialogue which must create a considerable and took place : particular interest in the minds of J. Wolff,—Why dost thou not some, as regards the year on which speak ? we are now entering. Many have Dervish, After the religion of Jesus declared it to be the year in which shall be manifested, then I shall speak. great events shall come to pass. J. W. When shall this be ? Bengelius, an eminent German ex- Der. After that Jesus shall have positor, has placed the beginning of been upon earth as you now are. the millennial reign of Christ in
J. W. When shall he appear? 1836.* John Wesley, in his exposi- Der. Five years hence. tion of the New Testament, brings J. W. What shall then happen? to an end the time, times, and half a Der. (In a melodious voice) time of the Beast in 1836, and like- Thousand hearts shall then be one, wise the little season' in which Sa- The Lamb and the Wolf shall together tan rages with great wrath ; though lie down, Wesley appears to be only a follower And Jesus shall then lay down his life. I
* No expositor on the Continent has enjoyed more of popularity than Bengelius ; arising perhaps more from the circumstance of his publishing his works in German instead of Latin—which rendered them accessible to so much larger a class of readers than from any superior understanding of his subject. Prophecy is not now, in any shape, popular on the continent; but almost all those who do attend to it are followers of Bengelius. A great number of persons of this description emigrated from the kingdom of Wirtemberg in 1818, under the impression that great judgements were about to fall on Germany. They settled at Miloshna, near Ekaterinaslov, and in other places in the east of Russia. We are informed that there are several thousands now existing at this place only, who have recently been visited by a Missionary of the London Society for promoting the conversion of the Jews, and that there are seven congregations of them also in Georgia, all of which are waiting in lively expectation of the Lord's advent in 1836.
+ See a Review of Mr. Holmes's Work—" The Time of the End"-in Vol. iv, of the Investigator, p. 109.
I See his Journal recently published, p. 130. This tradition as, regards Christ's laying down his life when he shall appear, seems to rest upon some confusion of the circumstances of the first and second advents, gleaned from the Holy Scriptures. The expectation prevails extensively among Mahometans, that their great Imam, Mohde, shall appear again, and cause their religion to prevail, and that he is to be immediately preceded by Jesus. Some sects of them consider that Mahomedanism is, on the con. trary, destined to wane before Christ at his coming, and to disappear.
g 1 Thess. iv.
We candidly confess that we our- risen : and if we could but feel conselves place no great reliance on the vinced of this, it would remove from computations either of Bengelius or our minds one principal ground of Mr. Holmes, neither on those of the hesitation which we experience in Persian dervish ; and so far as the regard to some other systems of interyear of the Advent of our Lord is pretation, which assign dates now concerned, we greatly question if it near at hand for the termination of will be given to any to know that various events; but which dates we before hand : though we conceive, as cannot bring ourselves seriously to we have previously intimated, that a entertain, until we have first seen knowledge of the times and seasons, those events to which we have alludand a watchful observance of the ed come to pass, or begin to come signs of the times, will enable the to pass.t Church to be fully persuaded that
There is another event apparently her redemption must be at hand.* at hand, which we view with differ. The circumstance which
ent feelings ; viz. the conclusion of chiefly to attach any particular in- the sixth Millennary of the world. terest to these opinions is, the co- The expectation, indeed, that at incidence of several apparently in- the end of the 6000 years the Mildependent interpretations and tradi. lennium should commence, is not tions in one year; though some of supported by any direct testimony these are so manifestly erroneous of Scripture with which we are acand extravagant, as to deprive them quainted; but it is so very ancient and in our estimation of any weight. We general a tradition in the Church, might be induced to consider more —having been maintained by the carefully the views of Bengelius, Jews anterior to Christ's advent, by were we not led, in our own case, to the Christians of the two first centu. the conclusion, that certain events ries, and by the most judicious of our (e. g. the slaying of the Witnesses, Reformers,—that we cannot help Rev. xi) have not yet come to pass; regarding it ourselves with feelings which events must occupy a longer of great interest. Now the Jews space
of time than the year we are reckon, that they commenced the entered on can allow them. We year 5996 from the Creation on the are willing to admit, that many able 25th of September 1835, which interpreters and critics have con- brings us within four years of the cluded that the Witnesses have been period named : but the correctness already put to death, and are now of their chronological computation
* Compare Matt. xxiv. 33 and 36 ; see also Luke xxi. 29 and 31. of Inclining as we do to the views of Presbyter in the former series of this Work, we conceive that the “ three days and a half” (Rev. xi, 9) relate to mystical time. If however they can be proved to be literal time, then we shall be compelled to admit, that the 1260 days of verse 3 is also literal : in which case, we should be obliged further to contend, that the period of prophesying in sackcloth had not yet come to pass, neither many other events, which must occupy more than a year. We believe that the beast of Rev. XI. which slays the Witnesses, is not the same as the beast of Rev. XIV: at least, that the former is exhibited under a different aspect from the latter. We must own nevertheless, that we cannot lose sight of the view taken of the Witnesses, given by E. at Vol. 11. p. 185, of Investigator. For excepting one particular, (viz. the viewing the Witnesses as continuing to prophesy in sackcloth after their resurrection,) the application of the events there brought forward to the language of the prophecy appears to us so complete, as to incline us at least to the opinion, that those events may have a two-fold fulfilment, the one in mystical time, the other in literal time, and by a different class of events. To this subject however we shall have an opportunity of recurring hereafter.