HAND-BOOK OF PROPHECY

 

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INTRODUCTION

 

I PROPOSE, in the following pages, to give a brief outline of the prophecies of John, as set forth in the book of Revelation, and as usually held by leading interpreters. And I am led to do this for the reason that there is a great and felt need for just such a work. To the masses the Apocalypse is simply a sealed book. They read it, if at all, without getting an idea, either as to its intention or scope of its teachings. Indeed, many seem to think that it is neither possible, nor yet intended, to be understood. But if so, why is it termed a 途evelation? How a revelation with nothing revealed? If not to be read and studied, why the benediction pronounced, 釘lessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy? If 鄭ll scripture is given by inspiration, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for instruction in righteousness, can there be any reason why the prophetical portions should be made the exception? As the object of prophecy is twofold, being alike the attestation of revelation and the encouragement of God痴 people, we can neither see wherein comes the encouragement, nor yet how they can be competent witnesses to sit in judgment upon this part of the evidence, if they are to know nothing about the things predicted, either as to their meaning, or the times and terms of their fulfillment?

The duty of investigation is clearly set forth in the double challenge: First, in the declaration that these things are 都hortly to come to pass, and secondly, in the command 鍍o search the scriptures, which command, if it means anything, must mean that we are to search every part alike, the prophetical portions as well as the epistles or gospels; and to seek to find out, as far as possible, their meaning, how much and wherein fulfilled; and especially is this duty incumbent on us who live in these latter days, when we hear so much about the 溺illennial Dawn, and the second coming of Christ.

I am fully aware that many wild and extravagant notions have been entertained, and fanciful interpretations given portions of this book, insomuch as to bring discredit upon the whole, and even to reflect upon the good sense of any who undertake to unravel its meaning. As Dr. South has quaintly said, 典he book either finds one mad, or else makes him so. But we see no reason why we may not apply the same good common sense here as elsewhere, accepting what we can understand, and leaving undisturbed what is clearly beyond our depth. As in the entire realm of nature, there is a part we can understand, where nature reveals herself, and a part wholly incomprehensible, where she refuses thus to interpret; so in the domain of prophecy there is a part entirely comprehensible because self-interpreted by its own fulfillment, and a part still wrapped in profound mystery for lack of such interpretation. We rejoice in the light of the one; before the darkness and obscurity of the other we can only bow in humble silence and await further light and development.

 

 

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