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withhold it from the public. It is only by such means that all the light which God intendeth us to have from prophecy, under all its aspects, whether general or chronological, literal or symbolical, can be elicited. And it ought to be no discouragement to this study that hypotheses have been formed which time has proved to be erroneous, and that injudicious opinions have been sometimes hazarded.
66 There is not a question in natural philosophy, in chemistry, in morality, in theology, nor scarcely a text of Scripture, on which there has not been a diversity, and even a contrariety, of opinion. If, therefore, we are to neglect the study of any branch of knowledge because of the variety or discrepancies of opinion that have been maintained by different men, we must close all our books, the Bible among the rest, and return at once to Gothic darkness and barbarism.”
And, surely, if we consider the names and the number of those distinguished individuals, both clergymen and laymen, who in modern times have directed the best energies of their minds to the study of the
sacred prophecies, the obloquy with which commentators on prophecy have been assailed seems a good deal misplaced. Whatever difference of opinion there may have been among them, they have faithfully announced the awful truth—and they have Scripture warrant for having done so—that tremendous judgments will shortly be poured out upon the world. It is due to the labours of these eminent men to acknowledge, that, although they may possibly have " said many things which they cannot prove, and some which are strange and fanciful, false and dangerous,” yet that each one, more or less, has contributed to throw light on a confessedly difficult subject, and one which from its very nature can only be gradually unfolded. The Author of the present work gratefully acknowledges that he has availed himself of the valuable assistance which their writings afford; and he would particularly mention the names of Mede, Sir Isaac Newton, Bishop Newton, Bishop Horsley, Rev. Mr. Faber, and Mr. Cuninghame ; and he may add, Mr. Frere, , Mr. Brown, Rev. Mr. Cooper, and a valuable work on “the Destinies of the British
Empire,” by the late Rev. Mr. Thorpe of Bristol.
The present state of the subject of prophetical interpretation appears to be this— that the occurrences of the last few years, in connection with the systems that have hitherto been offered to the public, have thrown peculiar difficulties in the way of a satisfactory explanation. These difficulties arise chiefly from its being assumed that the Edict of the Emperor Justinian, in A.D. 533, constituting the Pope “head of all the churches,” is the true and only commencement of the 1260 years' duration of Popery; and, consequently, the year 1793 its only termination. Hence it has been considered that the other two durations of this great period-namely, 1290 and 1335 years
calculating from the same commencement, would terminate in the
years 1823 and 1868.
The year 1823 having, however, passed over without any event transpiring of sufficient importance to mark a prophetical era, it is now generally acknowledged there remains some discovery to be made, to get clear of the difficulty thus occasioned, and
place the events of the present important crisis in their proper position. This has been hitherto attempted to be done by fixing on other dates for the commencement of the 1260 years ; but still equal perplexities and decrepancies have remained ; and
every attempt to pass over the Edict of Justinian has only appeared to involve the whole in greater mystery.
How far the Author of the present work has succeeded in removing the difficulties he has named, must be left to the judgment of his readers, and to the lapse of a very few years. His attention was first led more immediately to the subject of prophecy by a friend, who had in a special manner studied that portion of it connected with the Saviour's second coming. Until this time he was quite unconscious of the deeply interesting era of the world in which we are living. His closest attention was, however, now excited, and his warmest feelings interested on reading the works of some of the writers above named. With the view of impressing the various systems and dates more fully upon his mind, he was induced to construct a chart, on a plan
similar to those which accompany this volume. Whilst thus engaged, the two leading ideas which form the basis of his hypothesis soon presented themselves to his mind.
The first of these ideas was, that no ONE commencement of this great period (of 1260 days) can ever be brought, by any accommodation whatever, to meet all the difficulties of the question ; that it absolutely required the admission of a double commencement, and consequently a double termination ; and that there exists an unequivocal and decided precedent for such a peculiarity, in the prophecy of the seventy years' Babylonish captivity.
The second idea impressed upon his mind was, that the proper starting point for the application of this peculiarity of structure of the prophetical dates, and for ascertaining the exact time of their completion, is not from the half period, of
time, times, and an half” (or 1260 years), but from the full and complete period of
seven times” (or 2520 years).
The application of these two principles appeared to rectify and properly adjust