Imágenes de páginas

cernible ; and they also form parts of oracular declarations, which throughout the vision appear to me to be delivered in the language of poetry ; except. only, that the tenth, eleventh, and fourteenth verses of the sixth chapter, where the other parts of the oracle require a metrical arrangement, are in prose. .

But the subject matter of the divine communication is there so truly prosaic, consisting merely in the designation of individuals, by their families and proper names, to a particular office, that it could hardly be adapted to a form of poetry, which does not sbew itself in measure properly so called.

The following particulars, briefly explaining the origin, principle, and intention of the volume, may interest the reader, and throw light on some portions of it.

About eighteen months ago, being much engaged in the study of the Revelation of St. John, I found it necessary to enter into a close comparison of several of its figures, with those described in the vision of Zechariah. By such comparison I was soon convinced, that the strong similarity, which subsists between the two Apocalypses, for so I venture to call the one, as well as the other, is not the adventitious result of like subjects falling under like emblems, as like ideas into like modes of expression, but the calculated effect of design studiously connecting them by such strong marks of conformity, as might, consistently with the different times and circumstances, in which they were delivered, point out their mutual intelligence and general intercommunity. Hence I was ioduced to lay aside my labours on the mystic scenes exhibited to the prophetic apostle, until I had more fully investigated those recorded by the evangelical prophet.

I did not indeed approach the subject without an opinion previously formed, though not decidedly fixed, as to the interpretation of one important part of the vision*, in which opinion my subsequent enquiries have produced little alteration ; but neither did I approach it without a deliberate and steadfast determination to reject every insulated exposition, however fairly it might seem to quadrate with any particular emblem, if it refused to form a link in one regular and consistent chain of interpretation from the beginning to the end of the vision, according to the principles laid down in the introduction to the commentary on the sixth part. Farther than this I was absolutely unfettered by any general or partial opinion, baving already discarded, for guides, all the commentaries I had read, as irreducible to the standard just mentioned.

* I allude to the commentary on the fifth part; a portion of which formed the substance of a visitation sermon, preached in the year 1817.

The body of the commentary is intended for, and, if I have been able to execute my own intention, adapted to, the use of the mere English reader. Some few passages may indeed be found relating to grammar and criticism ; but the grammar in those cases is universal grammar, and the criticism such, as any intelligent and attentive reader may easily enter into, without possessing any knowledge of the Hebrew tongue. From such subjects of enquiry, if somewhat more difficult and recondite than ordinary, the great body of christians* ought not to be excluded by the pride of learning, and have no right to exclude themselves by those pleas, which indolence and indifference put forward in the guise of modesty. The testimony of “ Jesus is the spirit of prophecy:” and to the word of prophecy, which “we now hold far surer," than it was in ancient times, by the satisfactory evidence of its accomplishment, christians, as St. Peter

* Let us hear the manly and energetic language of Bishop Horsley, truly worthy, as it is, of a protestant prelate. “I never will admit,” says that great man,

nor will King,) I think, be inclined to admit, that our religion has belonging to it any secret doctrine, from the hearing of which the illiterate laity are to be excluded. The notion of the incompetence of the common people to understand the whole of the revealed doctrine, and of the danger of expounding the prophecies to them, is false and abominable. It is the very principle upon which the sacred text was, for so many ages, kept under the lock and key of the dead languages. Would to God, say I, that all the Lord's people were prophets." Letter to Edward King, Esq. p. 17.

you, (Mr.

.tells them, “do well,” do their duty, when

they take heed.” For the light, which in the ages

before him, was only as that of "a candle, shining in the dark place” of the human understanding, has been gradually acquiring strength along with the progress of time. It rose upon the apostles and their immediate converts with the brightness of "the day star,” ushering in the morning of the sun of righteousness; and now, far from being absorbed in the glories of his day, it attends, and will attend, his never setting course, until it shall “fail,” cease, in final completion, together with faith and hope, and all that we know in part, and all the graces and virtues of a mortal state, save that which is immortal, and which “never faileth, charity.”

When I began my commentary, I was far from intending to send into the world so large a volume as the reader now holds in his hand. That, which has often happened to others, has occurred to me. It was only in the progress of my labours, that I learned to ascertain their extent. Difficulties were to be removed or surmounted; errors to be refuted; objections to be obviated or anticipated; my own interpretations defended; and particularly the illustrations, which I had to give, were to be exhibited in that length of detail, which their novelty and


indeed their importance called for. Hence also arose the necessary addition of the notes, which are appended to the commentary, and which are submitted to the judgement of the learned. Differing so often, as I have presumed to do, from renowned scholars and divines ; far removed too, as I am, from literary counsel and communication, and by necessity confined to the scanty stores of a private library, I have often felt myself "cabin'd, cribb’d, confin’d, bound in, by doubts," which I wanted means to satisfy and by “ fears," which were not without difficulty silenced. But I do not mean to be. speak indulgence. I have learned from high authority, that "no book was ever yet spared out of tenderness to the author,” and “that the world is little solicitous to know, whence proceeded the faults of that which it condemns.” At the same time I can safely declare in the words of the same great master of English literature, that “I deliver it to the world with the spirit of a man, who has endeavoured well ;" having kept my eye single, fixed on those high ends, which an interpreter of boly scripture should keep before bim; the glory of the most high God in the propagation of the truth, the consequent edification of christians, and, O that God would hear the humble prayer, in the conviction and conversion of the unbelieving and the sinner,

« AnteriorContinuar »