« AnteriorContinuar »
be predicted as à calamity, as a woe? Our
, conception of the nature of Christ's kingdom, (the object of such prophecy,) will determine us to answer in the negative. But if such a conqueror, after having subdued the bodies of men, should proceed to extend his usurped dominion over their souls ; should require them to renounce their allegiance to the heavenly King; to deny their God and Redeemer ;-then will succeed a conflict of another nature, and a resistance deserving the notice and interference of divine prophecy. Then will be employed those arms, which properly belong to this spiritual warfare*; then will the kingdom of God be truly advanced or diminished. I describe this imaginary conquest, succeeded by such spiritual conflict, only as what may happen; not adverting to any similar instances which have occurred. I mention them to shew with what previous notions I formed the rules of interpretation, for which I deem myself accountable.
In adopting the rule now under consideration, I have been obedient to the direction of holy Scripture ; which has required a spiritual interpretation of its mysteriest: they are not to be taken according to the bare letter I, nor in a carnal or worldly acceptation . The warfare of the Christian kingdom, (the subject of these prophecies,) is not to be carried on by worldly
* Eph. vi. 16.
4 i Cor. ii. 12-15.
arms and battles*! they, who entertain such notions of this religion, “ know not what man
, ner of spirit it is of t." As the Captain of our salvation conquered by suffering, and refused the sword of Peter, and the legions of angels, ready for his defence, so neither by external force must his followers expect to prevail. The kingdom of God is not advanced by crusades ; nor is the sword of man employed successfully to seat the Messiah on his throne. To obtain his destined dominion, Christ must reign in the hearts and consciences of his farextended subjects. His reign is advanced when Christian principles, when faith, and righteousness, and charity, abound. It is retarded when ignorance, impurity, idolatrous superstition, infidelity, and wickedness prevail S.
A fourth general rule of interpretation has been also adopted in the prosecution of this work. Not to attempt the particular explanation of those prophecies which remain yet to be fulfilled. Few words will shew the reasonable foundation
* John xviii. 36.
§ As the prophecies of the Old Testament, interpreted carnally by the Jews to designate a worldly conqueror, have been seen to lead that infatuated people into egregious error : so, in these days of superior light, when by experience, as well as divine direction, a spiritual interpretation is so clearly recommended and enforced, it seems extraordinary that any sober and well-ins formed Christian can look to any other.
of this rule, which I am sorry to observe so frequently transgressed. They shall be borrowed from Sir Isaac Newton ; “ God gave these, and " the prophecies of the Old Testament, not to
gratify men's curiosity, by enabling them to “ foreknow things; but that after they were ful“ filled they might be interpreted by the event, “ and his own providence, not the interpreter's, “ be then manifested thereby to the world*."
Such are the principles, such the scheme of investigation, with which I have ventured to approach this mysterious book. And although I cannot but be feelingly aware of the difficulty of the subject, and of my deficiency in the qualifications requisite to do justice to it; yet, the method I have pursued, free from the prepossessions which have warped the operations of abler minds, has enabled me, I trust, to make some useful discoveries.
It might operate more favourably to the credit of my sagacity, if I were to publish only selections from the following work; of those parts in which I may appear to have been most successful. Such has been
Such has been sometimes my intention. But I consider myself as acting more justly to the important subjects of investigation, if I lay before the public the result of all my inquiries. In those parts wherein I have had the least success, I may perhaps open a field for the success of others. Sir I. Newton on the Apocalypse, p. 251.
With the same view I have resolved to publishi the result of my studies, in the form in which the investigations were originally written ; after that analytic method, which I found it necessary to pursue. They might be presented in a more abstracted and concise form, and in a more luminous point of view ; but in the present form, the reader will accompany every step of the inquiry, and may thus more easily detect the error, or confirm the safety of the proceeding. Truth, in this important research, is, I hope, as it ought to be, my principal concern ; and I shall rejoice to see these sacred prophecies truly interpreted, though the correction of my mistakes should lay the foundation of so desirable a su: perstructure.
To the candid correction of the learned reader I consign this attempt, trusting, that wbatever inay be its reception in the world, I shall not have reason to reproach myself with precipitancy unbecoming the sanctity of the subject; with narrow views, or party-prejudices; with want of moderation and of candour; which hiave disgraced too many writings of professed Christians.
THE new Translation now presented to the reader, was a necessary part and result of the plan pursued. For, as it was proposed to study
the prophecies of the Apocalypse, by the guidance of their own internal marks and characters, without that prepossesion which might arise from an acquaintance with the systems of other interpreters; so it became necessary to avoid the perusal of translations, as well as of expositions ; because a prejudice in favour of a particular mode of interpretation may be suggested by the translator. The original Greek was therefore to be studied by itself, and the meaning of the words and phrases of it to be ascertained. But to ascertain these in English idiom, was to produce a
to produce a new English translation; which, in this case, being designed solely for the use of the annotator, was rendered as literally as the forms of the two languages would admit. When the new translation had served this purpose, and when the notes engrafted upon it were completed in their Grst form, it was then compared with the common English version, and thence received considerable accession and improvement. For, as I am fully persuaded that the best form of a new English version of the Scriptures will be that which shall. retain the phraseology of the common translation, where it is not evidently faulty; so in revising my new version, and preparing it for general use, I was careful to adopt into it those expressions of the old version which appeared to represent the Greek original faithfully, and not inelegantly; retaining those only of my own translation which