Page images

allowed to say, that the favours which I have received. from you, have been rendered doubly valuable, both by the manner in which they have been conferred, and by the recollection of the hand that conferred them.

I have the honour to be,


Your Lordship's much obliged and

dutiful humble Servant,

June 29, 1805.



THE work, which is here offered to the Public, is founded upon the three following very simple principles.

1. To assign to each prophetic symbol its proper definite meaning, and never to vary from that meaning;

2. To allow no interpretation of a prophecy to be valid, except the prophecy agree, in every particular, with the event to which it is supposed to relate;

3. And to deny, that any link of a chronological prophecy is capable of receiving its accomplishment in more than one event.

If we examine the predictions of Daniel and St. John agreeably to these principles, we shall find, that two great enemies of the Gospel, Popery and Mohammedism, are described as commencing their tyrannical career together at the beginning of a certain period which comprehends 1260 years, and as perishing together at the end of it: that, towards the close of this period, a third power is introduced; whose characteristic marks are a total disregard of all religion, an impious determination to do according to his will, and an open profession of absolute atheism blended nevertheless with the worship of a certain foreign god and other tutelary deities whom his fathers never knew that this last power is likewise destined to be destroyed at the end of the 1260 years: that he will previously unite himself, for political reasons, with Popery that the stage of their joint overthrow will be Palestine and that, when the period of 1260 years is completed, the restoration of the Jews will commence. All these matters may, I think, be clearly deduced from prophecy and the actual completion of many predictions relative to them afford us ample warrant for concluding, that the rest will likewise be accomplished in God's own good season.

The present awful state of the world naturally leads all serious men to search the Scriptures: and the attention of more than one modern writer has been laudably directed to the elucidation of those prophecies, which either have been fulfilled, or are now fulfilling. Those, who have considered the subject most at large, are, I believe, Mr. Whitaker, Dr. Zouch, Mr. Kett, and Mr. Galloway. Mr. Whitaker and Mr. Zouch, with some exceptions, have undertaken to defend the scheme of interpretation adopted by Mr. Mede and Bp. Newton: while Mr. Kett and Mr. Galloway, though they differ from each other in many points, have avowedly attempted to establish a new scheme of interpretation.

1. Although I am not able to assent to several of Mr. Whitaker's opinions, most sincerely can I recommend his Commentary on the Revelation to the attention of every protestant, particularly every English protestant. At the present juncture, when Popery once more begins to rear its hydra head, a full statement of its abominable principles was peculiarly seasonable. This has been most satisfactorily executed by Mr. Whitaker: but he appears to me at the same time to have exceeded his commission, in branding the Pupacy with the title of Antichrist. Many indeed and wonderfully explicit are the prophecies, which describe the detestable cruelties and unholy superstitions of that great Apostacy; which teach us the precise duration of its persecuting tyranny; which foretell its union with rebellious Infidelity; which point out both the place and manner of its destruction: but I have not yet been able to discover upon what scriptural grounds the name of Antichrist has been so generally applied to it. St. John is the only inspired writer who uses the term; and nothing that he says relative to it, affords us any warrant for conferring it upon the Papacy. "He is Antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son :" the Church of Rome never denied either the Father or

* To these I might have added Archdeacon Woodhouse and Mr. Bicheno; but I had not read their writings at the time when the first edition of this work was published. In the present edition, those of Mr. Bicheno are occasionally animadverted upon in the notes: but the scheme of the Archdeacon possesses so much unity of design, that I found it more convenient to consider it altogether apart in an appendix.

the Son therefore the Church of Rome cannot be the Antichrist intended by St. John. As for the identity of Antichrist and the little horn of the Roman beast, it seems to me to have been rather taken for granted, than proved.

Valuable however as Mr. Whitaker's Commentary is in many respects, he is guilty of one inconsistency which must not be passed over unnoticed. While he asserts, that he gives no interpretation of a symbol but what may be justified by some text of Scripture, he very unwarrantably explains the prophecies of the Apocalypse sometimes figuratively and sometimes literally. Thus, for instance, the effusion of the first, the fourth, and the fifth, vials he interprets figuratively; and yet to the effusion of the second and the third he affixes an absolutely literal meaning, supposing those two vials to describe a series of wars carried on both by sea and by land. Now it is obvious, that, if we interpret these predictions sometimes figuratively and sometimes literally, we involve them in the same indecision and uncertainty, as if we apply a symbol sometimes to one thing and sometimes to another for, if the mode of interpretation is in every particular instance to be left to the option of the commentator, who shall draw the line between the literal and the figurative prophecies of the Apocalypse? The whole book, excepting those very few passages which are avowedly descriptive, must be understood either literally throughout or figuratively throughout: otherwise it will be utterly impossible to ascertain the meaning designed to be conveyed.

The whole of the present Dissertation was written, and the corrections of it were nearly completed, before I had perused Mr. Whitaker's former publication, intitled A general and connected view of the prophecies. I there found, what gave me no small satisfaction, that the mere force of evidence had led two writers, between whom no communication had ever passed, to adopt the same opinlon relative to the little horn of the Macedonian he-goat, and the proper method of ascertaining the date of the 1260 years. Unconnected as we have been with each other, we have naturally treated the subject with some

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

degree of difference: and, while I assent in the general to Mr. Whitaker's opinion on these points, I feel myself compelled to protest against his idea, that any of the numbers of Daniel and St. John may be considered as round numbers. The perfect accuracy, with which some of them have been already filled up, affords the best warrant for believing that the rest will likewise be filled up with equal accuracy. Indeed the very notion of a round number is irreconcileable with that of a definite and specific number. Hence I think, that Mr. Whitaker's attempt to harmonize the number mentioned in the eighth chapter of Daniel, with the date which he rightly assigns to the 1260 years, by adopting the reading of the Seventy, entirely fails of success, because the calculation produces 2404 years, instead of 2400 years, which it ought to have produced had it been founded upon just principles even were the reading of the Seventy the genuine reading. A similar train of ideas had once led me to adopt this very hypothesis of Mr. Whitaker; but the same reason, which forced me to erase it from my own work, forces me also to reject it in his. On the same grounds, his opinion, that the holy city mentioned in the eleventh chapter of the Revelation is the literal city of Jerusalem, will be found equally untenable, even independent of other objections to which it is liable. The taking of Jerusalem by the Persians in the year 1614, can never be made to synchronize with the delivering of the saints into the hand of the Papal little horn in the year 606; nor is it to me at least at all satisfactory to be told, that the nearest round number, which will include the whole time intervening from the year 614 to the year 1866, will be 1260.† Since the saints are to be given into the hand of the little horn during the precise period of 1260 years, and since the holy city is to be trodden under foot by the Gentiles during the self-same period of 42 prophetic months; the reign of the little horn and the treading of the holy city under foot must be exactly commensurate. Consequently, if the saints were first given into the hand of the little horn in the year 606,

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »