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bound for brother, or friend for friend, and, when the principal is imprisoned for the debt, he as surely pays it and releases him; this, to the spiritually
minded, will bring the remembrance of their great Surety and Redeemer, who laid down his life in death to release them from the power of death. And thousands are the instances which with equal propriety will lead to such an application.
With the thoughtless, these testimonies are called analogies and coincidences; and if any practical inference is drawn from them, it is more of the nature of undirected curiosity, occupying the mind for a moment with perhaps an involuntary impression of the beauty and order of God's works, than any clear or connected view of the great testimony which they bear to the ultimate purpose of God. The analogical reasoners are in this respect as far from the proper application, as are the accidentalists in their reasonings upon Providence. They who view all providential dealings in the light of accidents, wilfully shut their mouths against the acknowledgment of God's goodness; and they who, in the relation which all creation manifests towards the Lord Jesus, will acknowledge nothing more than an analogy or coincidence, as wilfully and perversely deny God's testimony to him, as the One by whom and in whom all things were created and now consist. By such a mode, the brilliant record of God's sovereignty and mercy and glory, which, as written in creation, is interpreted and brought home to every believer in revelation, is blotted out; and that wbich truly teems with light and truth is regarded as an heterogeneous mass, as much - without form and void” as before the “ Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”
But, ye thoughtless and indifferent, can ye not conceive the Maker of all things to have so made them for a purpose, and to have given them the form and fashion they assume to mark and to accomplish that purpose? And can ye not read the Scriptures, in remembrance that whatever is used to bring to your apprehension the meekness and the glory of the Lord Jesus was specially created for that end? It is an inexcusable obstinacy, whilst as a theoretical principle you acknowledge all things were created for the glory of God, to practically adopt a different principle, by reading as if whatever God uses to unfold the mysteries of spiritual things he takes up as he finds them ready to his hand. What must be their understanding of God's prescience, who cannot allow that in the moment of the creation God knew all the uses and purposes which things created would subserve ? And what ist be the idea of God's wis om, which allows his prescience, and yet denies that he made them with a view to answer those uses to which they would be put ? Time will not allow a further allusion to these objections, nor VOL. 1.-NO, II.
opportunity to enlarge in answer to them. The beautiful and profitable introduction, by the excellent Bishop Horne, to his Commentary on the Book of Psalms, p. 60, where he opens the necessity of a spiritual interpretation to their profitable use, will be a powerful help, to those who honestly doubt the benefit which may accrue from such a course. That which he observes concerning the patriarchs, prophets, priests,and kings,and concerning the Jewish polity and events, may be carried on in corroboration of our assertion of the variety and all-pervading testimony unto God, and the universal agreement which prevails on this one point. After shewing the prophetical character of the Psalms with reference to the Messiah, he adds, “ Very few of the Psalms, comparatively, appear to be simply prophetical, and to belong only to Messiah, without the intervention of any other person. Most of them, it is apprehended, have a double sense, which stands upon this ground and foundation, that the ancient patriarchs, prophets, priests, and kings, were typical characters in their several offices and in the more remarkable passages of their lives; their extraordinary depressions and miraculous exaltations foreshewing Him who was to arise as the Head of the holy family, the great Prophet, the true Priest, the everlasting King. The Israelitish polity and laws of Moses were purposely framed after the example and shadow of things spiritual and heavenly: and the events which happened to the ancient people of God were designed to shadow out parallel occurrences which should afterwards take place in the accomplishment of man's redemption, and the rise and progress of the Christian church. For this reason, the Psalms, composed for the use of Israel and Israel's monarch, and by them accordingly used at the time, do admit of an application to us, who are now " the Israel of God;' and to our Redeemer, who is the King of this Israel. Nor will this seem strange to us, if we reflect, that the same Divine Person who inspired the Psalms did also foreknow and pre-dispose all the events of which he intended them to treat."
In another part, p. 80, he observes : " Besides the figure supplied by the history of Israel, and by the Law, there is another set of images, often employed in the Psalms, to describe the blessings of redemption : these are borrowed from the natural world, the manner of its original production, and the operations continually carried on in it. The visible works of God are formed to lead us, under the direction of the word, to the knowledge of those which are invisible : they give us ideas, by analogy, of a new creation, rising gradually, like the old one, out of darkness and deformity, until at length it arrives at the perfection of glory and beauty : so that, while we praise the Lord for all the wonders of his power, wisdom, and love, displayed in a system which is to wax old and perish, we may therein contemplate, as in a glass, those new heavens, and that new earth, of whose duration there shall be no end."
So far, as a slight outline, of the course intended and the fruit it bears. But there are great and cogent reasons, at this period of the church, to pray a blessing upon the great subject of God's purpose, and the classing of all things in due relation and subjection to the Great Head. And, first, as it regards the study and interpretation of the prophetic page. This study has attained such strength within a few years, that it is now pervading every part of the country; and in various modifications, sinking their peculiarities, is become the common theme of discussion in every portion of the Christian community. It is truly fraught with momentous consequences; and the fierce array of scoffers, who stand ready to jeer and distort every weakness in the church, challenge a deep and anxious care, in those who enter upon it, to “ mark well their bulwarks.” The present state of this study has been well said “ to remind one of the state of science before Bacon brought to light the inductive philosophy*.” There are no settled principles to which disputants refer their differences, but each has his text and his interpretation; and a novice, entering on the study, is required to take for granted that which he most needs to have proved to him—that is, the method of interpretation. This may
be surmised to arise from the narrow and sectarian views with which it is pursued. Like the book of nature in the field of science, the book of prophecy in the religious world has rather been used as an assistant to the peculiar doctrines and views of the student, than as itself in any way guiding and controlling those views. So extensive is it, and so many are the important events it foreshews, that each student, unassisted by any principle of methodical arrangement, will také those events which are more suited to him, and, engrossed in their consideration, bend all collateral events to bear their part in the favourite subject. Does he meet with a fellow-student? a slight comparison of coinciding points will bring them to a point of difference; and, no common arbiter being at hand, an agreement is almost hopeless. We have the optimist Millenarian, who, dwelling upon the pictures of happiness and peace which are opened concerning that period, shuts out the consideration of the personal advent of the King of kings, and shrinks from the denunciations of wrath and judgment which lie interspersed in the intervals of the pictured millennial bliss. Others, dwelling upon the judgments and overthrow of the apostates and infidels, allow only an advent in judgments; and, after their expected judgments, anticipate a millennium only differing from the present state in the absence of the great offenders. One is engrossed in the overthrow of the mystic Babylon; another, in the restoration of the Jews; another, in the wasting away of the Turks; another, in the rise and cutting off of the great Antichrist : events which, though true, and of the first importance to the church, and calculated, by a lively representation of God's grace and judgments, to awaken a regard to his holy precepts, and to lead the church to a consideration of her standing and responsibilities, yet, when received by a sanguine temperament, arouse the strongest feelings of the natural man in curiosity and expectation, and tend in many instances to draw off the mind from the single simple dependence upon Christ, which only is the “ peace passing all understanding.” The view of the tremendous convulsions which will arise to shake, not only the fabric of civil and political societies, but even the foundations of the earth ; and the increasing certainty and expectation which the serious study of the word will give; is, unless guarded against by an increased spiritual strength, calculated to awaken an overpowering emotion in the human frame; and, like the agitation of all great events, withdraw the mind from all other subjects to itself. Any one branch of prophecy may thus be dwest upon as the “one thing needful;" and the hindrance to practical holiness, and profitable communication to weaker brethren, may be readily conceived. It can only be by a careful and continuous unfolding of the origin and end of all those great events, and the part they respectively bear in the one great purpose of glorifying God, that such hindrance can be avoided. No student of prophecy is there who does not form to himself, in greater or less measure, a symbolical dictionary, to which he refers for proof of his interpretation. The want of a common basis for such definitions is only to be remedied by opening the one before alluded to—namely, the relation which all created things bear to the Lord Jesus, as the Head and Perfection of all creation. In this inquiry, the purpose of God in self-manifestation will serve the same end to explain the reason of these relations, which the great principle of gravitation serves to explain the various motions of the planets. Having beyond doubt proved the principle of self-manifestation, we shall not doubt, that, when the bearings of all other subjects under this common principle upon the subject in question are understood, all difficulties will be obviated. As the astronomer, from the incorrectness of his calculations or the deficiency of his instruments, may err in defining the precise bearing of his common principle upon a particular point, without doubting the principle; so may we often err in defining the precise part in the one principle of manifestation which a particular subject bears, without impugning the principle itself.
* Hints on the Study of Prophecy, p. 1.
The symbols and metaphors will then be seen, not merely to have an arbitrary and unconnected origin, but to bear a well-defined relation, which step by step leads up to the Great Head of perfection; and a true symbolical dictionary will be found an accurate and beautiful delineation of the form and manner of subsistence of all creation in Him " in whom all things consist.”
The advantages flowing from this need not be minutely pointed out. Prophecy no longer is the pourtraying of an important event about to come, but is the manifesting more fully and clearly the headship and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the accomplishing of a further part of that great testimony which from beginning to end declareth the glory of God. The power of engrossing and dividing from the contemplation of this glory, which is possessed by the great foreshewn events singly considered, will be taken away, when they are seen as parts only of a great and glorious manifestation, wherein the God of glory is the subject. The mind of the believer will also be strengthened in the expectation and patient waiting for these foreshewn events, and be by such an expectation strengthened in his daily walk and conversation ; seeing that the same glory which he daily seeks to walk unto, is that which these great events will subserve. The great reality is daily present with him; and he no longer looks to these events with an ignorant and impatient curiosity, but with a well-grounded assurance of the issue.
Secondly, as it regards the progress of high-minded infidelity, which has made much progress in the land, and shews itself in high places ; scorning the truths of the Gospel as common and every-day things, suited amply for the weak and superstitious, but too low for the man of cultivated intellect. To those who have argued with such minds, the truth of the assertion is made apparent, “ If they believe not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they believe though one rose from the dead." The mind which is too proud to bend in the one instance, is equally unyielding in the other. Yet it is the true province and warfare of believers, whilst the enemies are occupying the field of science and philosophising in the philosophy of the day, to strengthen the church, by shewing forth the deeper depths of science and philosophy which lie among her records, that her sons may be girded to the warfare, and give a reason for the hope that is in them: that this may be also on the heads of the obstinately perverse, to have been surpassed by truth in their own field.
There is now arising a system of philosophy, which, with the same fatal tendency, differs from the sentimental philosophy of the last century in the higher intellectual standard it holds up.