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visionary, only because, in the darkened state of their minds, they cannot understand them.
But leaving these men to a better
of thinking, it is not to be wondered at, that even to well-meaning Christians, learned, as well as unlearned, the prophecies should not be intelligible, if they have taken only a superficial view, or have not had patience enough to study them, as Lord Bacon advises, with wisdom, Sobriety, and reverence. This is, in part, to be attributed to the language of prophecy, which is figurative and hieroglyphical ; a language in which the thoughts of men were figuratively represented. It was, perhaps, the first written language invented by the human race ; nor was the use of it extended to the vulgar, but confined, it should seem, to the secrets of Government, and the mysteries of Theology. It was understood by the learned Egyptians, by the Jews, and, of course, by the prophets; and in this fignificant language it has pleased God, in mercy to mankind, that the prophets should deliver and transmit to future ages the awful events, which were to happen in the course of his righteous providence. The same Guardian Power has also, in a singular manner, preserved and perpetuated thus much of this most ancient dialect in the
prophecies prophecies themselves, amidst the ruins of the greater part of it, for that express purpose, while many others of less ancient date have been utterly lost. It is farther to be observed, and pressed upon the attention of the reader, that the prophecies are written partly in mysterious hieroglyphics, and partly in common and intelligible terms. The meaning of the latter is a clue to that of the former; and therefore, by comparing one. sentence, or part of the prophecies, with another, the literal meaning of the mysterious part may be attained ; and thus alone the coincidence of the prediction with the events fulfilled, become plainly and minutely displayed to view.
Nor must I omit to remind the reader, that there are two kinds of prophecies in the holy scriptures ; some are admonitory only, as the prophecy of Jonah respecting the destruction of Nineveh, and several others, during the time of the Jews. These were literally expressed, that they might immediately be understood, and, as in the instance above referred to, afford the
peos ple admonished an opportunity of repentance.
. Other prophecies seem to be intended, by their Divine Inspirer, rather as so many miraculous and unceasing demonstrations, throughout all
ages, of his OMNIPOTENCE, bis INFINITE WISDOM,
and RIGHTEOUS PROVIDENCE over all his works, as the events should, in their order, come to pass in the light of mankind. These, therefore, are designedly concealed under hieroglyphical and other figurative language, so that they cannot, by their very nature, be PERFECTLY understood till the exact time of their accomplishment. Before the event predicted takes place, there is nothing to which the type of that event can properly be applied ; nor will it admit of a doubt but that this is contrived and arranged in the abundant mercy of God to man: he has benevolently concealed from human forefight even the occurrences of to-morrow. What mortal has fortitude enough to suffer, with patience, the distress which a foreknowledge of events might often occasion ? Had this been so ordered by Providence, what a wretched state of despondency must have been the fate of man! Besides, we are expressly forewarped by Christ himself, that " it is not for us to know the “ times and the seasons, which the Father hath
put in his own power :" the times and seafons of those prophetic events, the completion of which has not commenced, because they relate to futurity: such as, in the Book of Revelation, the fall of Babylon the Great, the mother
of harlots; the second coming of Christ; the first resurrection of the just, and his reign upon earth a thousand years; the last day, or judgment; and finally, Christ's “delivering up his kingdom to God the Father, that God may be ALL IN ALL.”
One word more before I conclude this Introduction. Fully impressed with the wisdom of the plan I have before mentioned, recommended by Lord Bacon, I have deviated from the beaten track of former commentators, by forting the prophecies relating to the past and prefent events, and separating them from those which refer to futurity, and been enabled by it to avoid many of their inconlítencies and errors, arising from their application of the prophecies, which only relate to futurity, to events which had past and been fulfilled ;; and, moreover, fully convinced that the holy Scriptures are the only true expositors of themfelves, without consulting the interpretations of others, except those of Bishop Newton and his references, from which I have entirely differed in the following comments, I have made those facred oracles of the will of God my only interpreters; by which, I truít, I have been led, not blindfold, through that labyrinth of mysterious types and figurative
expressions with which the prophecies so much abound. In this course of seeking after the truth, I have freely treated of such
of the prophecies as refer to the lately past and present events; but in respect to those which refer only to the future, I have treated of them much in the words of the prophet, without enlarging upon them, with design only to prove the
regua lar order of their succession, and their connexion with the past, leaving a particular explication of them to others, when the events shall come to fulfil them. My comments on the first are cheerfully submitted to the critical consideration of the pious and the learned, because I know it is thence I may hope for a refutation of the errors I may
have inadvertently and in haste committed; and as to the latter, I have to entreat the reader to consider them as only conjectures arising
out of the probable and not scientific meaning of the prophecies ; for I hesitate not to subscribe to the opinion of the great Sir Isaac Newton, that " the design of God in giving
prophecies was not to gratify the curiofities of men by enabling them to foreknow things; but that after they were fulfilled they might be interpreted by the events and his
providence, and not that of the interPreter's; and that thus it might be mani“ fested to the world.”