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the faith. This, however, we have not room nor occasion to do at this time; but one of them—to wit, the redemption of the lower creatures from their present evil condition-we are called upon to authenticate. For this end we refer to the lxv th chapter of our Prophet, where these things are told us concerning the “new heavens and the new earth :” (ver. 17) the present condition of things is to have no memorial nor vestige left of any kind : (ver. 18) the Jews, and Jerusalem their city, are to be for the rejoicing and the joy of that blessed order of things; its metropolis, its sanctuary, the ruler of its ascendant, as Rome hath been of the darkness and cruelty: (ver. 19) in her shall be no weeping nor sorrow from whatever source, no calamity of providence, nor afflictive accident of any kind : (ver. 20) when death doth come, it shall not come prematurely, but in the full maturity of years; and if it do fall prematurely, it will be only upon those whom men will consider as a curse, and shall rejoice to see removed ; and even in such a case one taken away at a hundred years of age shall be accounted to have died 'in' his childhood: (ver. 21) they shall not die from their possessions, nor be molested therein, but shall have a life as long as the trees which they plant and the houses which they build'; “for mine elect shall wear out [margin] the work of their hands :"(ver. 23) their labour of the ground shall not be, like Adam's, with the sweat of the brow; nor, as it is now, labour bestowed upon a cursed soil, which will ever be running to weeds and briers and thorns; nor shall they bring forth children, like Eve, with trouble; because in place of the curse of God a blessing hath passed upon them, of which blessing this happy state of things is the possession : (ver. 24) in their dependence upon God and prayers to him they shall not have to wait an answer ;
but while they call, I will answer ; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear:” (ver. 25) the enmity of the animals to one another shall depart away; and they shall all return, as they were originally created, to eat the grass of the ground; and the serpent shall not seek any prey, but be contented with the dust of the ground.Now, surely, in such a succession of literal descriptions, where the change of man's condition occupies the chief part, and is described in plain language, no one will so far violate the rules of all interpretation as not to understand the last verse in a literal and plain sense also ; will not so violate the honour of God's word, as to wrest it away from its plain meaning, to support a prejudice; will not so violate the charity which we owe to every creature, and forget the mercy which a good man hath for his beast, as to strike out from this magna charta of the hopes and privileges of the world the place which God hath assigned to the animal creation; who, as they fell with the first Adam, and have suffered with him, ought to rise with the second Adam, when he shall have cast the devil out: for with them also, even with them, hath he a certain community, in that his body was made from the dust of the ground. To shew how clearly the whole passage is connected with that for the illustration of which we have introduced this short analysis of its contents, behold, it concludes with the very same words : “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountains, saith the Lord.” More proofs I shall not bring forward ; only, for the amelioration of elemental and vegetable nature, I refer to the xcvith and xcviiith Psalms. Under Messiah's government, every thing which Satan won and holds in thraldom, shall be won back to freedom, and constituted under Him in blessedness: and for this all creation waiteth ; according to the declaration of the Apostle Paul (Rom. viii. 19-23), who had lofty views and deep sympathies with these things : " For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope: because the creature itself also shall be delivered froin the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now : and not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”
And now we should proceed to the last head of the prophecy, the restoration and triumph of Israel, which we had hoped to include in this Interpretation; but it is a subject so large, and so distinct, that we refer it till another opportunity, God willing:
ON THE DUTY OF STUDYING UNFULFILLED PROPHECY.
INFIDELITY assumes various forms, according to the different parts which it is employed to execute of the great scheme of Satan. Sometimes it walks in the high places of Atheism, and teaches the “ fool to say in his heart there is no God';" and at other seasons it descends from this pre-eminence of wickedness, to draw the man of prouder understanding into dreary mazes of endless uncertainty. Now it affects a veneration for the beautiful testimony to Godhead borne by the works of creation; but holds it altogether weak and ridiculous to imagine that the ineffable Deity, of whom they speak, should in any special manner reveal himself to a creature so short-lived and inconsiderable as man: and again, in the borrowed garb of humility, it confesses that the morality of the Bible is pure and elevated, but insinuates that there are some strange and impro
bable passages in the course of its miraculous story. In all such varieties, however, of external manifestation, the characters distinctly appear of the same cunning and destructive principle, fashioning itself into these and into every intermediate shape of unbelief, from the avowed blasphemy of the first to the questioning deference of the last mentioned, only that it may the more successfully adapt its temptations to the diversified habits and prejudices of men. When it shuts the eyes of the Atheist against all evidence of a Divine existence, and when, in the delirium of his troubled dream, it roams through his disordered fancy the dismal image of eternal anihilation, it works in his rash and moody spirit the same ruinous aversion to truth which in the repose of the self-complacent mind it effects by the refinements of a less daring scepticism.
And not over these alone, its professed disciples, does the spirit of unbelief hold its dark and delusive sway. Atheist and Sceptic are words at the sound of which many would turn away in horror, who, notwithstanding, might find, in their own contempt of unexamined truth much of their blackest and most fearful import. He who can perceive in the rise and fall of kings and empires nothing more than the alternate success and failure of human sagacity, is not far removed from the state of him who attributes all to the operation of blind chance; and both are but ill prepared to admit the existence of a Being who controuls at once the machinery of the universe and the energies of individual creatures ; who rules in the kingdom of men, giving the “ power and the greatness of them to whomsoever he will” (Dan. iv. 25), and without whom so much as a "sparrow cannot fall to the ground.” And the difference is evidently in degree, and not in kind, between that wickedness which elevates the idol Chance to the place of Divine Providence, and that which sets any system of man's device into the stead of the word of God. Yet in these times, and amongst those who profess to believe in the Christian Revelation, there are many who speak and act as if God took no cognisance of the government of nations; and many more who, as we shall soon see, prefer the dreams of human imagination to the sure and abiding declarations of the All-Faithful One. Nor is Infidelity less to be dreaded though she thus put aside the hideousness of her native undisguise, and move in the gentle form and seemly bearing of an angel of light. It is thus that she may be found in the temple of God, at the right hand of the “man of sin,” and, like him, “ exalting himself above all that is called God and that is worshipped ; changing times and laws; shutting up from the people of God those parts of his word, and assuming the right of exclusive interpretation over the remainder; nor stopping, under pretence of Christian authority, to set aside the commands themselves of Christ.
Now, as unbelief is not confined to the schools of Atheism, and as doubt and question are often made of Christian truth where the declared sceptic would be regarded with abhorrence; so this last antichristian form of infidelity is not confined within the visible boundaries of the Church of Rome*. The subtle device of Satan has succeeded but too well amongst members even of Protestant churches ; and it is to this, the most plausible perhaps, but certainly not the least dangerous, form of infidelity, that the modern objection to the study of unfulfilled prophecy–which in my last paper I proved to be her legitimate offspring--properly belongs. It is the same spirit which in the Church of Rome forbids the reading of the Scriptures in general, and which any where else dictates what portions of it may be read, and what other parts ought to be passed over as obscure and unprofitable and in both it is equally opposed to the express commandment of God. •Read not, on pain of Inquisition,' says the Papal power : " Search the Scriptures," is the injunction of our Lord Jesus Christ. Prophecy is a dark subject, and it is better to leave it unconsidered," is the favourite maxim of many in this age, who take much credit for their wisdom and prudence; but the words of the Holy Ghost are, “ Ye have also a more sure word of prophecy, unto which ye do well to take heed, as unto a light which shineth in a dark place.' How nearly, therefore, both the Papal and Protestant objectors to the utility of the word of God, whether in whole or in part, are allied to the declared unbeliever, it is not difficult to perceive.
But man will look into futurity. The soul which God put within him, when he “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,” was not made for time ; and even in the wreck of its present misery it possesses capacities and desires which may not be satisfied but with the perfection of a new creation's blessedness, and with happiness the duration of which is eternal as its own. The future, therefore, is proverbially the inheritance of man : and from the fleeting and melancholy character of his present life he is ever turning away with unsated wish, and directing his inquiries towards coming things, if haply he may find in their infinitude some trace of a stabler and more lasting home. There is but one light which can pierce the murky cloud that conceals eternity from his view, and reveal to the vision of his faith “a city which hath foundations," "an inheritance which fadeth not away :” and that light is the promise of God, the yet-unfulfilled promise of God. Whatsoever, therefore, is not found written in the unfulfilled prophecies of Scripture, concerning the destinies of these heavens and earth, and of angels and men, their inhabitants, is the invention of man, and entitled to no more credit than the elysium of Virgil or the
* See Dr. H. More's Myst. of Iniq. chap. i. p. 2.
Purgatory of Dante; yet our intense desire to know what awaits us in the habitations of eternity must lead us into such dreams, if we will reject the only sure and infallible guide into such mysteries. This is the error into which those have gone who maintain the dogma that Christians should not search into the meaning of such parts of Holy Writ as have their accomplishment in events which are yet before us. Having seen, in the course of the present investigation, that this proposition has its origin in infidelity in general, and that it is the special offspring of antichristian unbelief; it will appear the less surprising, that, with a subtlety equalled only by the inconsistency of their argument, its defenders have brought it forward to establish a system on the very subject into the investigation of which they forbid us to enter. Strange as it may seem, it is not the less true, that the very men who hold it rash and imprudent to pry into the mysterious predictions of unfulfilled prophecy, do not hesitate to lay before us a theory of future history, far more minute and particular than any which students of prophetic Scripture, whether ancient or modern, have pretended to know. The glories of a coming Millennium they pourtray in colours as bright as their fancies can supply: the means by which it shall be established, and the characteristics of its dispensation, they relate with the minuteness of storied detail. And as the authority of the Pope, while it forbids in general the reading of the Bible, yet permits "the faithful,” who are willing to make " the undivided sacrifice of their understanding,” and receive the words of God in the monstrous and contradictory sense of his interpreters, to make full and free use of it; so, if we will but first receive the system of those who forbid the reading of unaccomplished prophecy, and promise to twist and alter the words of the predictions till they shall bend to conformity with it, then may we also read even the xxivth chapter of St. Matthew, or the xxist of St. Luke, the parables of our Lord without exception-nay, we may look into the OldTestament Prophets, and into the Apocalypse itself. It is admitted, accordingly, that Jeremiah (xxxi. 31) says of the blessed Millennium, that those who partake of its happiness “shall teach no more every man his brother and every man his neighbour, saying, Know the Lord; for all shall know him, from the least of them unto the greatest of them :" but we are to understand the holy prophet as saying, that the glory of that period shall consist in the universal preaching of the Gospel. The Scriptures declare (Acts i.) that “the same Jesus whom the disciples saw ascend into heaven, shall so come in like manner as he went into heaven” (that is, in his proper person); and (Rev. xx. 4, 5; v. 9, 10)“ that he shall reign with his people on the earth :" but by the coming of Christ we are required to understand that he shall remain in heaven; and his reigning
VOL. 1.--NO. IV.