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be no good ground of objection to the sacred books as they are in themselves.
If, in addition to such a reply, it can be shown that the prophecies, against which the charges in question are specially directed, are susceptible of a plain, fair, and natural interpretation, and that historical facts accord with such an interpretation, the stumbling block that is cast in our way would seem to be removed.
An attempt to do this, in regard to some of the more important prophetic passages, which have of late years been the subject of frequent and animated discussion, is made in the following pages. To write a large volume on such topics would be comparatively easy ; to select, combine, and exhibit matter appropriate to a small one, is a more difficult task.
If the path in which I travel should be thought by some to be new, I hope this will not prevent any reader from giving it a leisurely and thorough examination, before he abandons it. If some of the results, in this little treatise, should appear new to the reader, I must suggest to him, that they are not the consequence of seeking after novelties, but simply of following out the plain and obvious principles of interpretation. If he does not find it to be so after examination, let him condemn the book.
If there be any Bible for us, it is one which consists of human language, interpreted in a manner consonant with the laws of language. My principal object is, to protest against the substitution of fancy and conjecture in the interpretation of the Scriptures, in the place of established principle and rule. With a sincere love for all that is new, whenever it is better then the old, I am still, throughout this book, a thorough Conservative in respect to the fixed and immutable principles of reasonable hermeneutics. I hope for a hearingI will not despair even of approbation-by those who love this species of Conservatism. At all events, if it must be that
any will be disposed to turn away from the subject with only a slight examination of it, and thus decline to give me a fair opportunity to gain their assent, I would at least say : Ilátakov μέν, άκουσον δε!
It is time for the churches, in reference to the matters now before us, to seek some refuge from the tumultuous ocean on which they have of late been tossed. To those who long for a quiet harbor, a chart, which offers even any tolerable grounds of hope that the course toward such a haven is marked out, will not be unwelcome.
I make no promises. I have satisfied myself as to the course which ought to be pursued ; and in this state of mind it is natural to cherish a hope, that a process of thinking and reasoning, similar to that through which I have passed, may satisfy others. With this hope I give my little book to the public.
Some of the views, which are exhibited in the following pages, may be found in the early volumes of the Biblical Repository, ranged under different titles. But they are here repeated with many modifications and additions. My present apprehension is, that continued and often repeated study and reflection have corrected those views, in some respects; if not, they have at least served to expand them. There is, moreover, some important advantage in having them brought together, and exhibited so that a comparison of them may be easily made.
The introduction of a few Hebrew and Greek words was unavoidable, in the execution of my plan. For the most part these are so managed, as to occasion no serious embarrassment to the well-informed English reader.
Thus far the preface to the first edition of this work. A second being now demanded, I take occasion to say, that I
have carefully revised the whole ; made a number of corrections which sometimes qualify, and at other times set aside, the diction originally employed; and in a variety of cases, I have made additions, some of which at least will not, as I trust, be deemed unimportant. The criticisms of friends, and the objections of opponents, have as yet reached me only in a very few cases. Most of the additions, therefore, are only such as were prompted by my own mind, after revising the whole work.
It would be easy to swell the volume to a considerable size, and still leave many things unsaid, which might be appropriately said. But a large book would defeat some of the purposes that I have in view, and anticipate other things which I hope ere long to publish in a different way.
M. STUART. Theol.Seminari: Andover, }
INTERPRETATION OF PROPHECY.
§ 1. INTRODUCTION. The history of scriptural interpretation presents few, if any, phenomena more peculiar than those which have been exhibited, by some of the modes in which parts of the books of Daniel and of the Revelation have been explained, by a large class of English and American expositors. It would be a difficult task to enumerate all the writers of the class in question, who have made their appearance before the public; and still more difficult, to make out even a sketch of all their peculiar and in some respects ever varying interpretations. It is no part of my present design to attempt this. As a polemic, or an antagonist of particular writers, it is not my wish or intention to appear. Nor is it at all within my purpose to write a book on the general subject of expounding prophecy. My design is, to keep strictly within the bounds designated by the title of this Essay; and therefore I shall attempt no more than to give some HINTS, addressed to the consideration of the Christian public, in respect to some two or three of the principles gene
rally adopted by the expositors already named, in their interpretation of Daniel and of the Apocalypse.
The subjects of discussion to which I have adverted, may be comprised under three distinct heads. The first is the proposition, that there is in many parts of the prophecies, an occult, mystical, undeveloped meaning, which renders those predictions occasionally pregnant with a double sense.
The second, that some other prophecies have a meaning which is so concealed and obscure, that it can never be discovered until the events take place to which they refer. The third is, that the leading designations of time in the book of Daniel and the Apocalypse, viz. time, times, and half a time,” and “forty and two months or twelve hundred and sixty days,” comprise, not the actual period literally named, but 1260 years. In other words, the general principle, in respect to this third head, is, that the times, named in the two books before us, are designed to be understood as meaning, that each day is the representative of a year.
For a long time these principles have been só current among the expositors of the English and American world, that scarcely a serious attempt to vindicate them has of late been made. They have been regarded as so plain, and so well fortified against all objections, that most expositors have deemed it quite useless even to attempt to defend them. One might indeed almost compare the ready and unwavering assumption of these propositions, to the assumption of the first self-evident axioms in the science of geometry, which not only may dispense with any process of ratiocination in their defence, but which do not even admit of any.
If I have overstated the confidence that has been felt and exhibited as to the principles in question, it is not from design. I have stated merely the impression that has been