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With regard to the importance of the study of Prophecy, it is not necessary in this place to add to what was said in the Preface to the Dissertation on the Prophecies of the Old Testament.
There appears little doubt but that events will soon transpire, which shall have the effect of imperiously and most solemnly turning the attention of all who have any respect for what God says, to more earnest inquiries on this subject, and to a deeper sense of its overwhelming and practical value. And how much better will it be, how much more reasonable it is, in our anticipations of the future, to bend the mind to this only true light "shining in a dark place,” than, as we are all but too willing and ready to do, trust to our own fancies or wishes, and to say, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace.” We are all of us naturally backward in believing that our own fond schemes, with regard to worldly or family affairs, or even with regard to our expectations in reference to the church, are to be broken in upon and frustrated. Nevertheless we may be assured that such will be the case ; and that few of us are at all aware, as it respects these things, of the precipice on which we stand. Who in the antediluvian world believed Noah, when he announced the flood ? The inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah looked upon Lot as one that mocked: and none of the Jews, in the time of our Lord, believed Him when he announced the speedy destruction of their devoted city.
It is the same voice that now speaks! And “ God is not a man that He should lie ; nor the son of man, that He should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it? or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good ?" Therefore it is well to attend to the admonition, “Despise not prophesyings.” There can be no hesitation in saying, looking at the church in all its denominations, that they are yet, if not despised, neglected : so much so, that to many they are almost a prohibited subject.
In addition to the arguments which are
generally brought forward to prove that such conduct is both hurtful and anti-scriptural, there is one other consideration which appears to my mind most strongly to shew the special value of both the prophecies of Daniel and St. John in the sight of God, and, by consequence, the greater sin of those who neglect them. This is, that both these eminent prophets are declared to be the peculiar favourites of heaven; for of the former it is said, “O man, greatly beloved ; ” and of the latter, that he leaned on Jesus's breast, and received other marks of affectionate regard. The very circumstance therefore of such being chosen to have these great prophecies and revelations given to them, appears to be for the purpose of conferring the greatest of all honours upon them; and in that proportion to express their vast and unutterable importance; and in that proportion likewise to impress upon us, instead of neglecting them, how very greatly we ought to prize and study them. Well therefore may
it be said in reference to the Apocalypse, as a motto to the whole book, “ Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things that are written therein ; for the time is at hand."