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parables; and hence the words of Christ apply to it in their fullest sense. The objection thus recoils upon its authors. The view of the Futurists brings down the servants of God in every age to the level of the unbelievers, with regard to true knowledge of the prophecy; and, by a wretched alchemy, turns all their most patient and prayerful researches into one pile of laborious blunders. This reason alone, with every thoughtful Christian, should be enough to convict their system, as a system, of utter falsehood.
It may be rejoined, perhaps, that the discordance of interpreters is of itself a proof of common error, whether or not the anti-Protestant system be true. But this would be a most sophistical argument. If the Futurists are right in their main principle, the whole of the historical interpretations, throughout fourteen centuries, are pure delusion, with scarce one redeeming particle of truth. On the opposite view, while many discrepancies are admitted to exist, they are only so many oscillations around the centre of truth, and so many successive approaches to the full and just sense of the divine prophecy. Each of them, on this view, may embody much that is solid and edifying, though intermingled with error; and a gradual advance may be seen in them towards a just, and enlarged, and spiritual comprehension of the whole course of God's wondrous providence. Until the mystery of God is nearly finished, we have no reason to expect full concurrence or perfect clearness. But it is a privilege to trace the gradual progress of light, to see one misconception after another taken away, one truth after another established, one step of Providence after another explained
till at length the smoke will be rolled away from the temple, and the ark of the covenant, steadfast through the course
of ages, will stand revealed, in its divine and wondrous beauty, to the whole Church of the living God.
Such is the view of past interpretations which the Protestant system permits and encourages us to entertain. On the opposite system of the Futurist writers, all is one dark and cheerless succession of unmingled error-a scene of humiliation and sorrow to the devout Christian, and the natural and almost the fitting object of the unbeliever's scorn.
ALLEGED PRESUMPTIONS FOR THE FUTURIST THEORY.
AFTER removing the objections of the Futurists to the Protestant interpretations, I proceed to examine the presumptions which they allege in favour of their own theory. The chief of these are :-
The NATURE OF PROPHECY AS DEALING IN CRISIS.
I. The first of these is hinted, rather than asserted, in Mr. Maitland's Attempt, &c., p. 3:
“I believe (he says) that the prophetic Scriptures do not, unless incidentally, throw any light on the state of things, either in the Church or the world, previous to the breaking out of the apostasy. The main subject I believe to be the great and final struggle between the destroyer and the Redeemer of man, between Christ and Antichrist."
Mr. Burgh and Mr. Tyso, however, dwell on it more at length, as in the following paragraph, Lect. Adv., p.
“ But as to the argument from a blank occurring in the prophetic notice of events, this, I would remark, is rather in agreement than otherwise with the character of prophecy, which, generally speaking, is found to be occupied with crisis, rather than consecutive history and regular detail. Much of our mis. conception, particularly of the Apocalypse, arises from viewing it as a connected history of the future; beginning from the Christian era, instead of regarding it as having for its burden the consummation of the Gentile apostasy."
So again p. 126 :
“One answer I have already given to this question, that prophecy deals in crisis, and that its great burden from the days of Enoch, even to the last prophet, who speaks of the great and dreadful day of the Lord,' has been the overthrow of the last enemy."
And Mr. Tyso, Elucid., p. 69:
“ Some persons may inquire_Have all the mighty battles and revolutions which have occurred since the close of the second canon been unnoticed, except the destruction of Jerusalem ? I think so: the theme of the prophets is crisis, rather than continuous events.
All the destructive wars and mighty conquests have been but the fightings and usurpations of wicked men, to gratify their lust of dominion; and there is no revolution worthy of prophetic notice, but that which will subvert the antichristian powers, or establish the reign of Christ.”
The same argument is often used in conversation by the disciples of this school, and calls for a distinct
We have here a fact alleged, and an inference drawn from it. The allegation is, that prophecy in general deals only in crisis; and the inference, that the visions of Daniel and St. John have the same character.
Even, if the allegation were true, we might fairly dispute the inference. The two prophecies in question are unlike most others, in their symbolic form, in the close connexion of the parts, and the multitude and · variety of the separate predictions. Now there is scarcely an instance of a prophecy certainly known to relate to a crisis, where there is a distinct and successive detail of many particulars. The inference, therefore, would be unsound, if the allegation were true.
But what if the allegation itself be entirely false ? The argument will then fall to pieces; or rather, will change sides, and become a strong presumption against the Futurists, in favour of their adversaries. The simplest test will be, to take the leading prophecies in order from the first, and to observe the length of the continuous period over which each of them extends. For simplicity, the common dates will be adopted ; but the conclusion will be the same, in substance, with any other scheme of chronology.
1. Gen. iii. 15. From the death of Abel to the judgment, a continuous period of seven thousand years.
2. Gen. vi. 3. The striving of God's Spirit before the Flood, an interval of one hundred and twenty years.
3. Gen. ix. 25-27. The curse on Canaan, B.c. 1451 (Zech. xiv. 21), a period of three thousand three hun
The blessing on Shem, B.c. 2348 (John iv. 22), two thousand five hundred years.
The enlargement of Japheth, A.D. 41 (Acts ix. 18; xxviii. 28), one thousand-eight hundred years.
The whole prophecy, continuous through four thou
4. Gen. xiii. 14-17. The possession of Canaan, B.C. 1451-A.D. 70, one thousand five hundred years.
5. Gen. xv. 13-16. The servitude of the Israélites, &c., four hundred years.
6. Gen. xxii. 16.18. The multiplying of Abraham's seed, B.C. 1872-A.D. 30, one thousand nine hundred years.
The blessing of the nations by Christ (Acts iii. 25, 26), two thousand years.
The whole prophecy reaches from B.c. 1872, to a time still future, through a space of four thousand years.
7. Gen. xlix. 3-27. The scattering of Levi in Israel, B.C. 1544-587, one thousand
years. The.continuance of Judah's sceptre, B.c. 1056--A.D. 30, one thousand one hundred years.
The gathering of the people to Christ, a period of more than one thousand eight hundred years.
The whole prophecy comprehends three thousand years.