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of the prophecy of this book. What is all that man can utter in comparison of words like these?
No one who takes the most cursory, or even careless perusal of the Bible, can be ignorant that something is written there pertaining to the latter times. Not only does the Book of Daniel contain an explicit reference to that which should befall the Jews in the latter times, and repeated annunciations of the final and universal establishment of the kingdom of God; and not only does the Book of the Revelation also contain a systematic representation of " the things that shall be hereafter,"—but prophecy forms a large portion of the Sacred Scriptures, and, whatever part of them we peruse, we find it intermingled with the other dictates of inspiration. The Bible is full of prophecy. It contains the record of our race from the beginning to the end of time. The mystery of iniquity is there unfolded, as well as the mystery of godliness. And the inspired penmen wrote with the artless facility and freedom of those to whom it was given to reveal to all ages the workings of an overruling Providence among the nations of the earth, as well as to make known to men the will of God and the way of salvation. Shall the Lord bring evil upon any nation, and not declare it unto his servants the prophets? The earth is the Lord's; and his word vindicates his control over it. And as in the works of nature men may ever consider the operation of his hands, so from the Bible we may see his doings among the sons of men, and learn to know, that, though he permits the reign of sin for a season, he has marked its progress, limited its power, and decreed its final destruction. In the natural world "he hath placed the sand for the bound of the sea, by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass; and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail, though they roar, yet can they not pass over it." And were we to con
tend that the will of man is as free and unfixed as the waters of the ocean, and though the sea that cannot rest be too faithful an emblem of the history of man, yet God hath set his word as the bound of all the tempestuous commotions of earthly kingdoms; and there is, too, a perpetual decree that they cannot pass. His word fulfils the purpose for which he sent it, as the sand is the bound of the sea. Till the event realize its truth, it cannot be traced so closely, or be defined so well, as the past fulfilment of prophecy, which already shows the termination of many a political convulsion as clearly as ever the line of a retiring wave, after the subsiding of the tempestuous ocean, was marked by the mire it left: yet the word of God, if once it can be rightly ascertained on what point of prophetic history we stand, may enable us from thence to look beyond the present appearances of things, or the events that are beginning to rise up to mortal view, and to see, by a light from the sanctuary, their ultimate issue, even as one who stands upon the shore, however the waves may toss themselves and roar, may fix the utmost limits of the highest billow, and show the spot which, when once its power shall be broken on the sand, it cannot pass over.
Warrantable and wise as we deem it to be to hear what the Lord hath spoken by the mouth of his prophets, yet the misinterpretations of prophecy, though it was given for a light, lead to delusion, even as the other Scriptures, which were all given for promoting the work of salvation, may be wrested by men to their destruction. If the sand of the sea-shore lie not compactly in its natural position, but be transformed into any other shape by the hand of man, it becomes the sport of the wind instead of the bound of the ocean, till it resume the form in which God had placed it. It is not for mortals either to add to or to take from the words of prophecy, or the book of the revelation
of Jesus Christ. The blessing promised to those who read and hear, ought not carelessly to be forfeited. But too high a solicitude cannot be exercised against seeking to be wise above what is written, or of placing any vain imagination in the stead of a prophetic declaration, or of thinking that we see a sign where God has shewn none. And when the event only is revealed, it is not for men to dogmatize about the mode or the means of its accomplishment; for God's ways are not as our ways, nor his thoughts as our thoughts, and his purposes may be wrought out in a manner that we wot not.
In submitting these pages to the Christian public, it is not the intention of the writer, for it would tend to frustrate his object, to enter into an elaborate discussion on any unfulfilled predictions, or to attempt either to support or to controvert any of the various theories which have recently given rise to much discussion among the students of prophecy. The most simple exhibition of the truth, if such could be obtained, might be the best correction of any error, with whomsoever it might lie. Of some of the interpretations contained in the following pages, he would only be the more suspicious because they are new. They came unsought for, while tracing, point after point, the parallel between prophecy and history. And if they stood in need of any ingenuity to support them, for that very reason he would have accounted them untenable, and have rejected them as unsound. He would rather draw analogies, or show the exact coincidences throughout the whole, between predictions and facts, than trust, in any part, to general reasonings,—the distrusting of which, on such a subject, was almost his only preparation for the task. And believing, whenever the time of fully unsealing the vision shall be come—if the time be not already come, as he is inclined to believe, in which the judgments
of God are manifest,—that the prophecies which are hid under symbols for a season, shall, after their kind, be as clear illustrations of the predicted events, as the literal prophecies expressly describe them, he can only solicit the reader, as a Christian duty, to put no faith in the interpretation, but freely to discredit and discard it in any instance, especially when new, if it be destitute of the simplicity and consistency of truth, and if, on comparing things spiritual with spiritual, and the things that were to be with the things that have been, it be not founded explicitly and exclusively on the authority of Scripture, and a full, regular, and entire accordance with historical facts. And he would crave the patient indulgence and perseverance of the reader, in traversing step by step the path of history, by the light of prophecy, from the sixth century before Christ, to the nineteenth of the Christian era.
The fate of the world is too serious a matter now to be looked on any longer as an amusing speculation. And it is not to pander to an idle curiosity, to foster a prurient fancy, or to raise any high imaginations higher than they are, that this treatise has been written. If it be opened for such a purpose, the reader cannot lay it too soon aside to lessen the disappointment. The Lord Jesus reproved those who sought after a sign from heaven ; as well as charged them with hypocrisy and folly, for not discerning the signs that were to be seen. And if such indeed they be, the signs of the times, as seen by fulfilled predictions traced down to the present hour, are here set forth, that a timely warning may be taken, and that sight may never be lost of the great end for which all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, viz., that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. To be furnished unto all good works is to be prepared for all events; whether the earth be convulsed with changes, or whether it be removed out of its place. And were the signs of the times to be looked at in this spirit of a holy faith, the labour of pointing to them would not be lost, if,—ere they pass away, and the tempest, which, though it be stayed for a season, together with all earthly appearances they indicate, burst fully and fearfully upon the world,—there be a single head, whether youthful or hoary, the less unprepared to meet it, by being found the more in the way of righteousness for having looked unto the judgments which have come upon the earth. Though all things at last shall be shaken, the things that cannot be shaken shall remain. He that doth the will of God abideth for ever.
The prophecies of Daniel contain a long and marked outline of the history of the world. No subject is more familiar to every one who is the least versant in ancient history, than the successive dominion that was exercised over great part of the earth by Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. Cyrus, Alexander the Great, and the Caesars, are historical names universally known in boyhood. And no less familiar to every student of prophecy, so soon as they are even initiated in the subject, is the symbolical description of these very empires, as they are detailed in the Book of Daniel.
Under the double representation of a great image,