« 이전계속 »
one great object of revelation—to bear testimony to the character and glory of the divine Redeemer. As we heard in the luminous and instructive lecture delivered at our last meeting, prophecies are designed to “afford a decisive testimony to the existence, perfections and government of the only true God; to accredit the claims of his inspired servants, to constitute a grand evidence of the reality of divine revelation; to console the people of God, amidst all their afflictions, with the assurances of the future prosperity of the Church; and, above all, to exhibit a testimony to the adorable Redeemer and Saviour of the world."* A scriptural view of this great result and object of the entire prophetic system is essential to our right understanding of its several parts. “ The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus.” “ To Him gave all the prophets witness.” The relation of any specific class of prophecies to the coming, the character, the reign, and the glory of the Messiah, is that which determines its true value and permanent importance in the general system. The passage I have read from the Epistle of Peter confirms this sentiment. What did the prophets“ testify beforehand ?” What did the Divine Spirit signify or intimate in their testimony? The advent, the sufferings, and the glory of the Redeemer! These were the great subjects of prophetic inquiry, and apostolic testimony, and “ are the things into which the angels desire to look.” In this respect, as in others, “ Christ is all, and in all; the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end” of the prophetic system!
* See Dr. Smith's Discourse ou “ The Principles of Interpretation, as applied to the Prophecies."
It is of the highest importance that these principles should be prominently kept before us in the investigation of prophecies yet to be accomplished. Revelation commences with an announcement of the first coming of the Messiah, and it closes with the solemn assurance of his second coming. Between this first announcement and the final consummation, are included all the dispensations of revealed religion, all the revolutions of time, and all the operations of nature and of grace,
in order to the ultimate accomplishment of the designs of mercy, and the manifestation of the divine glory through eternal ages. Between those two periods all who have ever lived, or who may hereafter live, are or ought to be interested in the contemplation of unfulfilled prophecies; and the lapse of time, by increasing the materials of knowledge, and supplying additional facilities for research, should stimulate to diligent and devout investigation.
Prophecy puts us in possession of some of the great purposes of the infinite mind. It is that part of revelation, which at all times leads the
mind onwards. It carries us from the past to the future; it connects the past with the future; it leads us to regard the faithfulness of God exhibited in the past, as warranting our confidence for the future. It would be therefore ingratitude to him who has thus revealed his will, to act as if the past were sufficient, and we had no interest in the contemplation of the future. Thus the Apostle Paul taught the believing Hebrews to anticipate the second coming of the Messiah, from the certainty of the first advent. Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, and unto them that look for him, shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Heb. ix. 28. Thus the Apostle Peter refers to " the appearing of Jesus Christ, and the grace to be brought unto us at the revelation of Jesus Christ," as the final consummation of the believer's hope; as emphatically “the end, or the completion of our faith in the salvation of our souls.” But this cheering hope of the future, is itself founded on the past; for God hath
begotten us to that living hope according to his abundant mercy, by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead,” The appearing of Christ is an essential part of the glory resulting from his sufferings; and whether it take place, as some imagine, at the beginning of the Millennial period, and consist in the splendour of a visible and secular reign on earth, or be exclusively connected, as I firmly believe it to be, with the solemn transactions that are to succeed that period of the Church's prosperity, it is still an appearing, so connected with his first coming, as to demand our constant and habitual anticipation.
In fact I derive no inconsiderable argument in favour of the latter sentiment, from the peculiar importance attached to it, as the consummation of the Christian's hope; and I cannot see any congruity with the preceding dispensations of the Most High, any analogy with the procedures of his government, any just fitness or proportion between the most splendid realization of an earthly and visible reign of a thousand
years on earth, and the sublime and hallowed anticipations which the Apostolic writings lead us to cherish. What they teach us to believe of the state of “ the just made perfect,” after the period of their departure, is much,“ very much far better” (πολλω γαρ μαλλον κρείσσον) than all that ancient or modern speculations have taught us to believe on this subject. I refer to it, however, chiefly for this purpose, to show that whatever may be ascertained to be the truth on this point, its intimate connexion with the entire scheme of prophecy entitles it to our most serious and diligent investigation.
But I proceed to show that an attention is due
to unfulfilled prophecies, because it is enjoined by the highest authority, and recommended by the most illustrious examples.
Consider, my friends, the general command applicable to every part of revelation ; “ search the Scriptures, in them
have eternal life; and they are they that testify of me.”—John v. 39. Now this injunction was addressed to the Jews, for the very purpose of recommending an attention to prophecies, then actually fulfilling, or about to be fulfilled : and if it be regarded not as an injunction, but, as I am inclined to think, a declaration, which should be read rather indicatively, than imperatively; thus referring to what was the practice, or what from their profession might be presumed to be the practice of those addressed by our Lord, its force is not only unaffected, but augmented. It is solemnly recognized as an important duty, at all times binding on those who profess the oracles of truth, and applying therefore to the Church in every age. It requires that on every subject, " the word of Christ should dwell in us richly in all wisdom and spiritual understanding."
If God has made nothing in vain, and every department of the vast economy of nature demand the attention and research of the enlightened philosopher, we may affirm with equal certainty, that he has revealed nothing in vain. Nothing