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connected prediction is frequently broken into apparently unconnected parts by the arbitrary division of chapters. Hence, the general design of the prophecy is greatly obscured; and by cursory readers, who pause at the termination of each chapter as if the subject were there completely finished, can scarcely be understood. In the following work, what I conceive to be parts of one prophecy are arranged accordingly; and several chapters are frequently. commented upon collectively, as jointly forming only one complete whole. The usual method of treating the subject by selecting detached texts, instead of considering the unbroken predictions of which these texts are mere parts, has always appeared to me extremely defective. I have therefore departed from it, and think myself fully justified in doing so.
At one period it was the humour of the day to spiritualize the prophecies, as it was called: that is to say, those prophecies, which in their plain and obvious acceptation relate to the restoration, the conversion, and the future glories, of the house of Israel, were referred to the original propagation and final universal extension of Christianity. But, according to such a mode of exposition, there is scarcely any thing which the ancient prophecies may not be made to declare. Its extreme licence affords a sufficient confutation of it. I entirely think with the late Bp. Horsley, that the plain literal meaning of the prophecies which respect the future fortunes of the Jews ought to be strenuously maintained by all who study them. They are occasionally indeed written in the language of symbols; and, when this is the case, they must. no doubt be interpreted accordingly. But the literal application of them is not thereby affected. The political and spiritual revival of the house of Israel may be exhibited to us under the imagery of the birth of a child or of a resurrection from the dead. But, although the language in this particular be metaphorical, the proper house of Israel, not the Gentile Church of Christ, must be intended, unless we wholly depart from the obvious sense of the prophecy. The literal mode of exposition recommended by Bp. Horsley, in opposition to the licence of spiritualizing, has been adopted by Mr. Bicheno, as well
as by myself: and, though I cannot agree with him in all points (if I could, the present work had been superfluous), I certainly think, that in his treatise on the restoration of the Jews he has thrown much light, perhaps more light than any of his predecessors, on the subject.
In a work written on the plan of the present one, it was impossible to avoid a certain degree of repetition: but I could not give up the plan, because I am persuaded that it is best calculated to attain to the knowledge of the truth. In my preliminary general statement, I have detailed, in one unbroken narrative, what I conceive may be collected from prophecy relative to the great events which will take place after the expiration of the 1260 years. But this, unless supported by proofs, would be no better than a sort of theological romance. The proofs therefore follow in their order. Each prediction is given at length, and each is separately considered. Now, since all these predictions relate to the same period, though there is a considerable degree of variety in them, there must likewise be much sameness; and of this character of the predictions the several commentaries upon them must unavoidably partake. The subject however is of so much importance, that, by those who really wish to study it, I shall readily be excused for discussing it so largely.