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never read either the one or the others, for if ever he had read them, he must have perceived. the difference. However it is undeniable that even the moft learned men have mifcarried in nothing more than in their comments and explanations of this book. To explain this book perfectly is not the work of one man or of one age; and probably it will never all be clearly underftood, till it is all fulfilled. It is a memorable thing, that Bishop Burnet (4) relates to this purpofe of his friend the most learned Bishop Lloyd of Worcester. He fays that that excellent perfon was employed above twenty years in studying the Revelation with an amazing diligence and exactnefs, and that he had foretold and proved from the Revelation the peace made between the Turk and the Emperor in the year 1698 long before it was made, and that after this he faid the time of the Turks hurting the papal' Chriftians was at an end: and he was fo pofitive in this, that he confented that all his fcheme should be laid afide, if (5) ever the Turk engaged in a new war with them. But it is very well known,
tur ignoro enim idne tempus præterierit, an futurum fit, Scafigeran. 1. p. 13,
(2) Dr. South. See Vol. 2. Serm. II. p. 422. 6th Edit. (3) See Whitby's Pref. to his
Treatife of the Millennium.
(4) Burnet's History of his own times. Vol. 2. p. 204.
(5) Upon reflection I think it not impoffible that Bishop Burnet might mistake, and fo might
known, that the Turk and the Emperor have engaged in a new war fince that time, and probably may engage again, fo that by his own confent all his fcheme is to be laid afide And if fo great a master of learning, fo nice a critic in chronology and hiftory, one who perhaps underftood the prophetic writings better than any man of his time, was fo grofsly mistaken in the moft pofitive of his calculations, it may ferve at leaft as an admonition to others of inferior abilities to beware how they meddle with thefe matters, and rather to avoid the rocks and fhelves about which they fee fo many fhipwracks.
Not that this book is therefore to be de fpifed or neglected. They who cenfure and diffuade the study of it, do it for the most part because they have not ftudied it themselves, and imagin the difficulties to be greater than they are in reality. It is ftill the fure word of prophecy; and men of learning and leisure cannot better employ their time and abilities than in ftudying and explaining this book, provided they do it, as Lord (6) Bacon adviseth, • with ⚫ great
might mifreprefent Bifhop Lloyd's meaning. If he faid indeed, that the Turks would never engage in a new war with the papal Chriftians, he was plainly in the wrong, the event
hath fhown that he was in the
great wisdom, fobriety, and reverence.' Lord Bacon adviseth it with regard to all the prophecies, but fuch caution and reverence are more especially due to this of St. John. "The "folly of interpreters has been, as Sir Ifaac "Newton (7) obferves, to foretel times and "things by this prophecy, as if God defigned "to make them prophets. By this rafhnets "they have not only expofed themselves, but
brought the prophecy alfo into contempt. "The defign of God was much otherwife. "He gave this and the prophecies of the "Old Teftament, not to gratify men's curio"fities by enabling them to foreknow things,
but that after they were fulfilled they might be interpreted by the event, and his own providence, not the interpreters, be then ma"nifested thereby to the world." If therefore we would confine ourselves to the rules of just criticism, and not indulge lawless and extravagant fancies; if we would be content with fober and genuin interpretation, and not pretend to be prophets, nor prefume to be wife above what
is written; we should more confider those paffages which have already been accomplished, than frame conjectures about those which re main yet to be fulfilled. Where the facts may be compared with the predictions, there we have fome clue to guide us thro' the labyrinth: and though it may be difficult to trace out every› minute resemblance, yet there are some strong lines and features, which I think cannot fail of striking every one, who will but impartially and duly examin them.
We should be wanting to the, fubject, and leave our work unfinished, if we fhould omit fo material a part of prophecy. And yet fuch a difquifition is not to be entered upon hastily, but after a diligent perufal of the beft authors, both foreign and domestic; and it will be happy, if out of them all there can be formed onę entire fyftem, complete and confiftent in all its parts. As Sir Ifaac Newton (8) fays, "Amongst "the interpreters of the laft age there is scarce "one of note who hath not made fome dif << covery worth knowing." But our greatest obligations are owing to three particularly, Mr. Mede, Vitringa, and Daubuz. We shall find reafon generally to concur with one or more of them; but as they often differ from one
(8) Sir Ifaac Newton, ibid. p. 253,
another, fo we fhall differ fometimes from all the three, and follow other guides, or perhaps no guides at all. What fatisfaction we may give to others, is very uncertain; we shall at leaft have the fatisfaction ourselves of tracing the ways of providence. It is little encouragement to this kind of ftudies to reflect, that two of the most learned men of their times, as well
as two of the best interpreters of this book, Mr. Mede and Mr. Daubuz, the one died a
fellow of a college, and the other a vicar in Yorkshire. Mr. Mede, as we read in the memoirs of his life, was fo modeft, that he wished for nothing more than a donative or finecure to be added to his fellowship; but even this he could not obtain.
Alas! what boots it with inceffant care
But however let us proceed, encouraged by that divine benediction, Bleffed is he that readeth,
and they that bear the words of this prophecy, and keep thofe things which are written therein.