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guage; and in my anticipations of the future, all I assume is, that the species of interpretation which events have rendered imperative, as it respects fulfilled prophecies, ought to be adhered to with consistency and candour in the examination of those prophecies which are as yet unfulfilled.
The language of the prophets is often, almost always, figurative in some degrée : but the events predicted are not the less on that account literal events. When the Holy Ghost spake by the mouth of Zechariah, saying, Smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered, the language was figurative, our Lord not being literally a shepherd, neither his disciples sheep. But the event predicted in that figurative language, was a literal event; and to the matter of fact, as it occurred in Gethsemane, the prophecy is applied by St. Matthew xxvi. 31. It is, therefore, no objection to the literal interpretation which I advocate, to say that the prophetic language is figurative. I admit that it is so--sometimes highly so. The question is, what do the figures mean? Do they mean other figures, or do they mean facts ? My opinion is, that facts are the legitimate themes of prophecy.
I appeal to history, comparing it with the prophetic volume, for the establishment of a principle by precedents; and I endeavour to convince by candid argumentation. I dogmatize not at all. I am open to conviction when a more excellent way of interpreting the language of the prophets shall be pointed out. But I must be permitted to say to some of my esteemed brethren, who have opposed the interpretation here offered, without themselves offering any other ; that a simple denial without reasons assigned, or the true interpretation given to supersede the false, cannot in fairness be expected to have any weight of conviction. I have heard such denials frequently, but in vain. I have heard them accompanied with much persuasive eloquence, with many tender and affectionate appeals, sometimes with ill-dissembled personal mortification, but all in vain. I do not mean to imply that the system of interpretation which I advocate, is divested of all difficulty. Far otherwise : but I protest against such a criterion of truth being set up. Nothing that deserves the name of interpretation is, or can be, free from difficulty. Our decision must be made between measures and degrees of embarrassment. It is compa
ratively easy to urge objections against any system, when it is tangibly propounded. - The nature of the difficulties incurred, ought, however, in sound reason, to be taken into chief consideration. Now, it appears to me, that our chief embarrassments arise, not from finding any passages of Holy Scripture, in the obvious meaning of the language, contradicted by our scheme; but from a lack of more revelation, to explain to us how these things can be, and thereby to supply us with answers to curious, (sometimes captious,) questions : whereas, the spiritualising scheme has to encounter the direct grammatical contradiction of revelation given.
It is one thing to anticipate the facts predicted, according to the literal meaning of the same words, when used in other books, or in other places of the same books, acknowledging our ignorance as to the mode of accomplishment, because that mode is not revealed : and it is quite another thing, to put a different meaning on the same words, in different places of the same sentence, in order that the mode of accomplishment may be thereby rendered reasonable.
I had rather avow my inability to answer the question “ How can that be?”-in a thousand instances, than put an evasive interpretation upon a single verse of the word of God.
When our brethren shall cease to beat the air in refutation of what we never advanced; when they shall see the absurdity of prejudging the question, by good-natured lamentations over our sad, sad delusion; and when they shall gird up their loins to the work in good earnest, betake themselves to study the subject patiently in detail, and produce grave and solid arguments, not negatively alone, in opposition to an erroneous system of interpretation, but positively also, in support and confirmation of a genuine system ; I repeat, I am open to conviction, and shall, in all sincerity, rejoice to be instructed. I protest, with all my soul, against the idea of any man supposing that he knows enough, and thereupon refusing to inquire into the depths of revealed truth, on the plea of dangerous novelty, or non-essential speculation. Additional instruction in the meaning of the Scriptures, is growth in the knowledge of God; and in that knowledge, it is my desire and hope, that I shall increase, not only during this life present, but throughout eternity. -..
Since these Lectures were delivered, many extremely interesting points of doctrine have engaged the attention of the churches in this kingdom; and an attempt has been made to identify with prophetic investigation, those opinions which are considered heterodox in themselves, and dangerous in their tendencies. The unfairness of such an attempt will be manifest to every man who is acquainted with the subject, and who possesses sufficient candour for the exercise of discrimination. Yet, notwithstanding its unfairness, it has succeeded in strengthening existing prejudices, and exciting conscientious alarms. Discrimination is indispensable to the acquirement of true wisdom. It is foreign to my present purpose to examine in detail the doctrines referred to. But the manner in which the present revived discussion of those doctrines stands connected with the study of prophecy is sufficiently remarkable ; and exhibits, in its true light, one of the many recommendations of that study.
All truth is linked together in one harmonious chain: an accurate investigation, therefore, of any one point, in all its bearings, is invariably connected with such a clearing up of collateral points, that existing error is detected, and unlooked-for contro