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CHAPTER THE FIFTH.
THE PROPHETS OF THE ERA OF THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY.
SECOND ADVENT, &c.
THE method proposed in conducting the following inquiry concerning the second coming of Christ, is to consult the holy Scriptures in chronological order. Our subject will thus rise upon us with the same advances of, light which have marked its gradual revelation to mankind: we shall be able also to trace the connexion of the sacred oracles one with another; and, comparing the language of each prediction with preceding revelations on the same subject, shall aim at making prophecy, as much as possible, its own interpreter.
In our chronological survey, the prophecies relating to a second advent of the great Redeemer may be divided into three parts. PART THE FIRST will contain the oracles delivered in the more ancient ages of the world, and in the age of David. PART THE SECOND will contain such as are found in the writings of those em
phatically called the Prophets. THE THIRD PART will contain what appears on the same subject in the Scriptures of the New Testament.
I could wish to avoid prolixity in these inquiries; but my readers will soon perceive, that a very considerable portion of the prophetical writings must necessarily fall under our inspection: for the second advent will be found to be a subject concerning which "God hath spoken by the mouths of all his holy prophets since the world began." If, however, I may hope that my readers will be satisfied with their guide, I can make no doubt that, in the view of those who "love the appearing" of "the righteous Judge" and Saviour, the great importance of the subject, I may say, in the present situation of the church and of the world, the every day increasing importance of the subject-will amply compensate for the large demand here made upon their time and attention. As I ventured to express myself in a former publication, "I am more and more convinced that the general testimony of the prophetic Scriptures is intended to speak to our times, and the times shortly to arise: and that this is the meaning of that wonderful Providence, which has stimulated so many hearts to circulate, at this particular era, the sacred volume among them that dwell
on the earth, and to send it to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.'
The analytical method which I have adopted precludes the necessity, and, indeed, the propriety, of any preliminary observations, since we are to form our system of interpretation, and discover its rules, from the prophecies themselves, as they are delivered in order of time, considering each in relation to that which has gone before; and in this way only endeavouring to determine their classes and their meaning.
This, however, I would observe; that the doctrines of the second coming of Christ, and of his personal reign upon earth, in a strict and literal sense, the confirmation of which will appear to be the result of this present inquiry, will be found, as to their general outline, to be very similar to the doctrines held on these subjects by the earliest fathers of the Christian church; and also by our own reformers of the age of Edward the Sixth. Let this apologize for their seeming novelty in relation to the interpretations of later commentators, and for the departure from opinions now, perhaps, very generally received. And, may the Lord direct our
Exposition of the Psalms, p. 34.