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in various and distant periods of time; fo that, taking to the account their several abilities, dif. positions, knowledge, education, and manners, it is not easy to say what particular passages in one prophet correspond with those in another, and relate to the same event.
Again, in the same prophet the different vifions seem to be arranged without any regard to the order of time in which the prophet receiv. ed them'. But it is obvious that this, in some degree, increases the obscurity.
After all, we should mistake the mattergreatly, did we suppose that the prophet received a view of future events according to the order of time in which they were to be accomplished ; that is, that the nearer events were communicated to him first, and the more remote events last. The fact is, that the prophet being commissioned to instruct the men of his own time, he introduces future events, as they are related to the consolation or reproof which he communicates at the
(1.) The prophecy contained in the 34th chapter of Je. remiah, the prophet received towards the close of the reign of Zedekiah, ver. 1, 2. That in the following chapter he received in the reign of Jehoiakim, at least twelve years before ; chap. xxxv. 1. And the prophecy contained in the 36th chapter he received the fourth year of Jehoiakim's reign; that is, eighteen years before.
time, without any regard to the time or order in which these events should be accomplished. In this confifts the chief difficulty of arrangement. But it is likewise to be observed, that future events are sometimes introduced accord. ing to their natural order, and that purely for the instruction of the church in after ages.
But though the difficulty is great, it is not I hope insuperable. There are marks in the prophecies themselves which direct to their arrangement, and will obviously occur, upon a frequent and attentive perusal of them; so that the general order of events may be ascertained, and the several passages relating to the same event, may be brought to bear upon it with their united light; and thus represent it, though still future, with a degree of clearness and perspicuity, which the inattentive could hardly conceive or believe. I shall briefly state those rules for the arrangement, which have occurred to me,
The Apocalypse is not only a distinct prophecy by itself, but may be likewise considered as an index to all the prophecies which refer to the period of which it treats; that is, from the
beginning of the gospel-dispensation to the day of judgment. It proves an index, by shewing the general order of events, and their relative situation to each other; so that, when an event is introduced in the Old Testament prophecies, in a detached manner, not connected with what goes before, or follows after, we are enabled, by the aid of the Apocalypse, to refer it to its proper place, in the series of events.
The series of events is carried on in the Apocalypse by feven reals opened in their order, seven trumpets founded in their order, and seven vials poured out in their order. The seven trumpets are the evolution of the seventh seal, the seven vials are the evolution of the seventh trumpet. The feventh vial introduces the Millennium, from which period the aspect of the church and the world is uniform until the day of judgment, except a short interruption by Gog, at the close of the Millennium. Now, as every remarkable event yet to be accomplished, is referred in the Apocalypse to some oncof the trumpets or vials, to the duration or close of the Millennium, the place of such event, in the general order of events, is known, and to that place it may be referred, wherever it occurs.
Again, the Apocalypfe not only shews the general order of events, but by using the expresfions of the Old Testament prophets, refers the reader to particular passages, where the same event is treated of more fully. Thus the “ wine prefs," mentioned Rev. xiv. and xix. obviously refers to Joel chap. iii. which treats of the same event. And the army of Gog, Rev.xx. is a reference to the 38th and 39th chap. of Ezekiel. However, it must be acknowledged, that the expresfions of the Old Testament prophets are sometimes used, on account of a similarity in the events, though they are not the same. This part of the rule, therefore, is not decisive, unless upon examining the passage referred to, it is confirmed by the coincidence of some of the rules which follow.
New Testament Interpretations.
Several passages of the Old Testament
prophecies are quoted and explained in the New Testament. Every passage of this kind I consider as a key to open up the whole section of prophecy connected with it. Thus, Isaiah lix. 20. “ The Redeemer shall come to Zion, and turn " away ungodliness from Jacob,” is quoted by the Apostle Paul, Rom. xi. 26. and applied to the conversion and restoration of the Jewish nation. Hence I infcr, that the former part of the
chapter represents the fins of the Jews in their present dispersion; and the following chapter, which is evidently connected with it, shews the glory of their church after their conversion to Christianity.
All Christians muft allow, that this rule is well founded, because the Spirit of God is the best interpreter of his own expreffions; but few, if
any in their comments upon Scripture, have been directed by it, as they ought.
To give an instance, in the case of a prophecy already fulfilled. In the 28th chapter of Isaiah, are two verfes, quoted and explained in the New Testament ; verse 11. is applied by the Apostle Paul, 1 Cor. xiv. 21. to the gift of tongues in the apostle's days; ver. 16. is said to fignify, that the kingdom of Christ should be established, in defiance of the Jews, who rejected him ; Eph. ii. 20. and 1 Pet. ii. 4, 5.
Now, all the commentaries I have feen apply the whole of the chapter to the state of the Jews in Hezekiah's time, and the invasion of Senacherib. They allow the New Testament interpretation to be true, only in a secondary sense; the consequence is, that the interpretation of the whole chapter does not hang together, but is perplexed and contradictory; whereas, if the quotations from the New Testament be considered as a key, and the chapter from