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THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST IN THE EARTH.
DANIEL ii. 44.
“ And in the days of these kings, shall the God
of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed.”
These words contain a prophecy which is as yet unfulfilled. It is much to be regretted that the attention of the Christian church has been so little turned for many centuries to the subject of unfulfilled prophecy. Unfulfilled prophecy is the true test of faith.
It is comparatively easy to believe a history, and to acknowledge a doctrine ; the one being authenticated by a variety of external evidences, and commending itself to us in a natural way on the concurrent testimony of our fellow men; the other resting upon the interpretation of language, and corroborated by the experience of our own hearts. But in the case of unfulfilled prophecy, faith is put upon her essential trial, having nothing natural to assist her, but being called to rest wholly upon the bare word of God, without any collateral voucher. This is difficult. And here lies the true reason why the study of unfulfilled prophecy has been so generally neglected. With all our boasted profession, our faith has been standing on the testimony of man rather than on the power of God; and therefore, when we come to that point where human testimony is of no avail, and can be of no avail, we are found unbelievers. Yet God hath spoken, and spoken plainly too. He spoke to the old world by the mouth of his 'servants, Enoch and Noah, but they refused to hearken ; the unfulfilled prophecy of the Lord was disregarded, till the flood came and destroyed them all. He spoke to the men of Sodom by his servant Lot, but they would not hear, the prophecy was despised, and the Lord rained upon them fire and brimstone out of heaven, and destroyed them all. He spoke to the King of Egypt, by the wonder-working hand of Moses, but Pharaoh refused the war. ning, till the Lord slew all the first born of the land, and finally overwhelmed the king and his armies in the Red Sea. He spoke to the children of Israel by many prophets, but they would not hear, and were therefore carried away captives into Babylon. He spoke to the Jewish priests, and scribes, and rulers, by his
Son, but they refused to believe, and their city and their temple were razed to the foundations. He spoke to the Christian church in its infancy by the Apostle John, but the warning was neglected, and, in consequence, the church was delivered into the hands of the predicted apostasy, the mother of the abominations of the earth. And he hath spoken largely to the kingdoms which at this day comprise the limits of the ancient Roman Empire, but they will not hearken : untaught by the analogy of the divine procedure, and not believing the direct predictions of the prophets, they are following their own course, despising the interpreters of prophecy as visionary enthusiasts, and treating their earnest remonstrances with supercilious contempt. While, in the mean time, the prophecy is in rapid fulfilment, reason is deified, human sagacity is the applauded pilot of the state, and infidelity, under the specious garb of universal charity, is doing her work of death.
Yet God hath spoken, and spoken plainly too.
He revealed to Daniel, and caused him to write in a book the great leading events in the history of the kingdoms of the earth, and of the church of Christ, from the days of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, unto the end of the world. When we, at this day, examine the contents of this book, we, of course, find part of it to be history, and part prophecy. It was all prophecy when Daniel wrote it; but the events of above two thousand years have rendered much of it history to us. By comparing the events of those years with the statements of the book, we learn the true mode of interpreting the figurative language of the prophet; and then, by interpreting after the same manner the remainder of the book, we anticipate with some confidence the events which shall take place unto the end.
This confidence is strengthened, when we find another prophet, who lived between 600 and 700 years after Daniel, taking up the subject from his own time, and declaring the same great outline of events to the end ; only filling up the details with more minuteness. The Apocalypse leaves out that part of Daniel which had become history in the days of John; and beginning at the part which was still prophecy, enlarges and specifies, giving life, and form, and colour to the various historical portraits which had, been sketched by Daniel,
When, therefore, with these revelations in our hands, we declare events which shall be bereafter, it is not we who do it, but God, by his servants, Daniel and John. And behold, we are not prophets, neither do we pretend to be prophets, but we are interpreters, we are witnesses, and we solemnly warn the world, and affectionately entreat the church to take heed to the sure word of prophecy, as unto a light which shineth in a dark place, until the bright and terrible day of the Lord shall arise.
The grand theme of prophecy as yet unfulfilled, is a glorious kingdom, which shall be established upon the earth. This is the subject of the dream of the King of Babylon, as expounded to him by Daniel. “Thou, O King, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken in pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors ; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them; and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the King. Thou, O King, art a King of kings; for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. And where