תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

PREFACE.

In committing these Lectures to the press, the Author has been desirous to fulfil, with no longer delay than was unavoidable, a condition which is imposed by the will of the Right Reverend Founder of the Lecture, but which the Author was prevented from complying with, by other more pressing duties, at the time of the expiration of his office. He has felt it also to be incumbent upon him to discharge, as speedily as might be, the obligation under which he was thus laid, as a duty which he owes to the memory of that deeply revered Friend and Patron from whom he received the appointment. The privilege which, under such circumstances, he might perhaps without impropriety have claimed, of inscribing these pages to the memory of One, the remembrance of whom he must ever cherish with peculiar veneration and affection, the Author has forborne to exercise; lest it should seem as though he wished unbecomingly to connect what he has feebly and imperfectly attempted, and for which he must himself be solely responsible, with the sanction

vi

Preface. of an authority which was always on every account high, and now more than ever sacred. He cannot, however, and ought not to deny himself the satisfaction of expressing here his grateful and affectionate sense of the kindness and favour which in so many ways were shewn towards him; while, at the same time, he would record the wish, which he cannot but deeply feel, that he had been able to discharge the office committed to him in a manner more worthy of its own importance, and of him from whose hands he received it.

The Author trusts, nevertheless, that whatever imperfections and faults may be discovered in the execution of the duty laid upon him, they will not be found to be such as essentially to interfere with the main object which he has throughout had in view. It appeared to him, as the result of thoughtful consideration of the subject, that, while the visions of Sacred Prophecy, particularly those which he has selected for examination, have received from the labours of able and ingenious expositors a minute application and variety of illustration which will often irresistibly captivate the reader, and carry along with them his imagination and judgment, there is not unfrequently left behind a feeling of doubtfulness in regard to the conclusions arrived at, when once the eye is taken off from that particular period of history, perhaps recent or almost present, in which the fulfilment is sought for. And, what is yet more to be guarded against, there Preface.

vii is danger of a similar feeling extending itself to other portions of Prophetic Scripture, the fulfilment of which had seemed to be satisfactorily determined by the general consent of the Christian world. Under these impressions it appeared to the Writer, when he was called to preach the Lecture on Bishop Warburton's Foundation, that some service might perhaps be rendered to the cause of Christian Truth and of Divine Revelation, and some assistance afforded to the student of the Prophetic Volume, by an attempt to ascertain and mark certain points and portions of Sacred Prophecy which may be considered as already placed, by general consent in regard to their fulfilment, out of the reach of doubt or question; while others seem to await the progress of time, and the corresponding progress of Interpretation in the Church, to give them a like degree of certainty. Or, to use an illustration which may perhaps make more plain and distinct the general design, it may be said that while Prophecy, partly fulfilled and partly unfulfilled, resembles in some sort a tract of country not yet fully explored, the object to be aimed at would seem to be, to mark, as by an outline more or less strongly drawn, those points which may be regarded as certain and undoubted, and those which, as being involved in different degrees of doubtfulness, may be sketched in fainter lines, connecting, nevertheless, in some sort the several parts together, until further discoveries shall enable the future

viii

Preface. geographer to complete and fill up the chart which at present can be only imperfectly traced.

To ascertain, in some such manner, the outlines and landmarks of Inspired Prophecy has been the main object which the Author has had in view in the present Lectures: it may be a comparatively humble office that he has endeavoured to fulfil, but, at the same time, one which, he cannot but think, is at the present time not without its use and importance. His design, as will be seen, does not exclude investigations carried further, or the filling up, in detail, of a general outline ; it would only endeavour, first of all, to preserve the outline itself from the danger of obliteration, to secure the salient points from being lost, or obscured, for want of sufficient distinction between the substantial and the shadowy, or from the influence of undue doubtfulness, the result of a not unnatural re-action against the decisions of an over-confident positiveness of interpretation. So far as the Author has had occasion to enter upon questions in regard to which there is room for doubt or diversity of opinion, he has been more willing to incur the charge of defining too little, than of defining too much; convinced that the spirit which should guide an inquirer on the sacred field of Prophecy, especially where we touch the confines of that which is unfulfilled, is the same spirit of humility and self-distrust which expressed itself in the words of our own cautious and catholic-minded Bishop Ridley, when, in regard to

« הקודםהמשך »