We live in an age of abounding
skepticism and of waning faith, an age in which ceaseless infusions of
Superstition, Paganism, and Humanitarianism, are altogether changing the
colour of Christianity. For, on the one hand, the Church, the
Priesthood, and the Sacraments, are substituted for the Lord Jesus; on
the other, the good things of this world are set forth as the supreme
objects of desire; and reform, and the alleviation of poverty, misery,
and pain, in the present life, are declared to include the whole duty of
Meanwhile, armed millions are
standing ready for war, a hurricane of Socialistic blasts is causing
society to tremble, revolution is in the air, and grave changes seem to
be imminent—changes of the end of which those who are almost frenzied
in their eagerness to bring them about seem to have little or no
conception, and, apparently, little or no care.
The flood of "modern
thought" is spreading in every direction, and, in its wild career,
is carrying off old landmarks, sweeping away settled opinions which have
made for the peace of the world, and submerging all the lessons of past
history. Hence men of ability, or of conceit, are prone to form each his
own individual judgment upon every subject; while those of weaker mind
usually attach themselves to some leader, and follow him unhesitatingly.
In such circumstances, it is not likely that truth would often be met in
our streets: nay, what but the direst uncertainty and confusion could be
expected, when the world is giving itself up to theories that do not
even claim to be founded upon experience, but spring from the dreams of
men of various dispositions and aims, or are based upon superstitious
religions, and philosophies, which the human race has already tried and
Now, it is specially for such a
time as this, when all things are in a state of flux and doubtfulness,
that God has given us a written Word of Truth, in order that we may
learn His unchangeable views, not merely of salvation, but also of
political, social, moral, and ecclesiastical, matters. Seeing, then,
that so many still choose to call themselves Christians, we should
expect this Divine Book to be consulted upon all occasions, and its
decisions to be eagerly followed; but alas! the fact is far otherwise.
Many professors in the visible
Church make no practical use of the Bible whatever; and, as if to quiet
uneasy qualms of conscience, are now assailing it with what they are
pleased to call "a Higher Criticism." By this means they are
gradually ridding themselves of its bands, and obliterating its
teachings—to all those who believe in man rather than God—in misty
exhalations of human wisdom and conceit.
Nay, some even of the Catholic
party, finding it inconvenient to submit any longer to the two, and
often diverse, authorities which circumstances have forced upon them,
the Bible and the Church, are beginning to disparage the former, that
they may exalt the latter as the only guide and ruler of the world.
But, worst of all, many of those
who recognize the Bible as the truth of God are, nevertheless, rushing
into lines of action that are opposed to its revelations, and are even
preaching as Christian doctrine things which are not to be found in it.
In fine, they admit the truth of salvation by Christ Jesus, and a few
precepts of virtue or favorite dogmas, but either ignore or distort the
whole remainder of the Scriptures.
It is, however, impossible to do
the will of God unless we know it. And the knowledge of it cannot be
acquired by a mere picking out of texts, which leads to many errors; but
only by a steady and prayerful perusal of the sacred books, and by
careful attention to the general meaning of a whole book, or, at least,
of a whole connected passage, before we attempt to deduce doctrines from
Of course, the pulpit ought to be
our great help in such studies; but, unfortunately, it is not so, except
in comparatively rare instances. And before it can be, preachers must
cease to give out texts as a preliminary to a string of their own
thoughts, which often have but little affinity to Divine revelation.
They must rather seek to make their hearers wiser by the exposition of a
paragraph or a chapter; by an exposition, interesting because it comes
from one who thoroughly understands his subject in all its bearings, and
powerful because it is spoken under the immediate influence of that Holy
Spirit, Whom the Father is ever willing to give to them that ask Him.
Were such a course adopted, the
people of God would be helpfully instructed in serving the
apprenticeship for which they are left upon the earth, and in acquiring
the knowledge which has been apportioned for us here, and which we must
make our own and learn to apply, so far as present circumstances permit,
if we would fulfil the destiny that should be ours in the coming age.
For, let it be remembered, that,
although salvation, if it be once vouchsafed, is sure, although the Lord’s
sheep can never perish, neither can any one pluck them out of His hand;
yet we may miss the reward. A man may rob us of it through his
philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the
rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. We may be cheated of our
prize, if one persuade us to a voluntary humility and worshipping of
angels, or to anything else that puffs up the fleshly mind, so that we
no longer hold fast the Head, Which is Jesus Christ our Lord.
He Himself has warned us to hold
fast that which we have, that no one take our crown (Rev. 3:11). For,
while the life is a free and inalienable gift, when once bestowed, the
crown is conditional, and may be lost. We have no promise that we shall
reign with Christ if we merely believe on Him; but only if we suffer, or
endure, with Him.
What, then, was it that brought
upon the Lord Jesus the contradiction and hatred of sinners, and
continual suffering upon earth? It was the fact that His views and
teachings—which He never failed to put into practice—being those of
God, were found to be distasteful to fallen men, and unutterably opposed
to all their desires and aspirations.
But modern Christians are by no
means liable to the scorn and hatred with which their Master was
assailed; and that, not through any change in the disposition of the
world, but because so many of them content themselves with the good news
that Christ died for sinners, adding, perhaps, a few moral precepts
which are common to the Bible and the best human philosophies, and go no
further. They do not strive to make themselves acquainted with the real
meaning of all that God has revealed, nor pray to be imbued with its
spirit; but are satisfied with a little Scripture copiously adulterated
with human opinions.
Or, in other words, they are
willing to accept the world’s comments upon the small portion of the
Bible which forms their creed; and, consequently, their Christ becomes
gradually transformed into something very like the predicted Antichrist.
For they unconsciously lose sight of Him as the One Who experienced
nothing but opposition and hatred from the world, and is now calling us
away from it—the One Who has never once told us to attempt its
improvement, but, on the contrary, has bidden us use every effort to
save some out of it; Who, indeed, gave Himself for our sins, that He
might deliver us out of this present evil world-age, according to the
will of our God and Father. They forget that all His teachings point to
the boundless eternity stretching far beyond the horizon of this brief
life, and that even His precepts for our conduct here are ever pressed
home by the thought of the Judgment hereafter.
And so, they begin to see Him more
and more as a mere Socialistic leader, anxious only to reform the abuses
and alleviate the suffering of the present world, and to distribute its
good things to the many. But this is just what the Antichrist will
profess to be: indeed, it is probable that, at first, he will seem to
act his part exceedingly well; for he will do so in concert with the
Prince of this world, who is the present disposer of its good things.
And some Christians may, perhaps, need to be reminded, that he will not
be called the Antichrist, but will, in all probability, be regarded as
the true Christ.
We have dwelt upon one only of the
insidious arts by which Satan endeavors to lead men unawares from the
Christ to the Antichrist, from Him Whose Kingdom is not of this world to
him whose kingdom is only in it; from Him Who would give men life, even
length of days for ever and ever, and fullness of joy at the right hand
of God, to him who proffers the opiate-cup, that will bring them present
ease and unreal pleasures, until, at last, their senses are restored by
a violent shock, and they perceive that they have been precipitated to
the depths of Hades. There are, however, also many other Satanic
devices, the influence of which can be effaced from the minds of the
deceived only by a complete submission to the Word of God, and a careful
study of those portions of it which have hitherto been neglected or
Now, among these despised or
misunderstood Scriptures, by far the most conspicuous are the
prophecies. And the conduct of most Christians in regard to them
virtually amounts to an impeachment of the Divine wisdom. For to God it
has seemed right to give us many prophecies: but they are accustomed to
toss them aside as inexplicable and useless; while they regard those who
strive to expound them as vain speculators. Nevertheless, these
revelations are known by believers, who have prayerfully studied them,
to be of eminently practical value. And they are appointed by the Great
Creator as the sources from which we may draw instruction respecting the
true nature of the world, His designs in regard to it, the peculiar
temptations and perils with which it besets His people, and the attitude
which He would have them assume toward it. The minds of all Christians
should be guided by them: they are the oracles of the Living God.
A conviction that such is the case
has induced the author of the present volume to devote a considerable
part of his life to the study of the Divine predictions, and he now
offers to the reader some of the results of his labours, trusting that
they may have been directed and blessed by the Supreme Lord upon Whom he
has depended for guidance. He has already published a treatise on the
same subject, entitled "The Great Prophecies"; but when, some
three years ago, Messrs. Hodder & Stoughton apprised him of the call
for a fourth edition, he felt that the clear5 light which he
had received upon many points made it desirable that the book then in
circulation should be superseded by a larger and more comprehensive
work. Domestic bereavement and a long illness have, however, intervened,
and hindered his progress until now.
In the present volume, he has by
no means found it necessary to withdraw or to modify the fundamental
principles of interpretation which he had previously deduced from the
Scriptures. On the contrary, those principles are now corroborated by
such proofs as seem to put them beyond the possibility of question. For
instance, "the monstrous gap," as certain Historicists have
called it, in the Seventy Sevens, is here shown to have been revealed
even in the utterances of Moses.
But as regards details, the
additions and improvements are so numerous that more than two-thirds of
the book are occupied by new matter.
The general scheme or frame-work
of Divine prophecy, which must be obtained from the Old Testament, and
without which the interpretation of details cannot be attempted, has
been deduced from the predictions of Moses.
The chapter on the Vision of the
Great Image contains, probably, the only complete solution that has
hitherto been published, although other writers also have suggested the
line which has been adopted.
Much space has been devoted to
"the Scripture of Truth," the last of Daniel’s predictions;
and, although one cannot be absolutely sure of all the numerous details,
it is hoped that the general elucidation will be clear to every reader,
that the main stream, at least, of the prophecy has been correctly
traced from its source, until it loses itself in the great ocean of the
Age to Come.
Of course, the prophecies with
which this volume deals contain no direct references to the Church,
which was unknown in the times of the Old Testament, being a mystery
hidden from the ages, until it was revealed by the Lord and His
Apostles. And, since there was no true Church in those days, Satan did
not then need to alter the nomenclature of Paganism so as to fashion ft
into a false Church. Hence those interpreters who persist in finding
Popery in the Book of Daniel are mistaken, and land themselves and their
disciples in hopeless confusion.
What God has to say of the Church,
and of its adversary, the false Church, must be sought for in the New
Testament. And if He permit, the writer hopes shortly to publish a
second volume on "The Great Prophecies of the Centuries concerning
the Church," and a third on "The Great Prophecies of the
End." Both of these works are already in progress.
The two charts give a synopsis of
the scheme that will greatly facilitate the efforts of the reader to
comprehend it. They may be readily connected by means of the Epochs of
Israelitish History which will be found in both of them. There is,
however, one imperfection against which it will be necessary to guard.
It is impossible to convey any idea of the relative duration of each
Epoch or Empire by the space given to it upon the chart; for, on so
small a sheet, the space must be determined by the number of words that
have to be inserted in it. It must, therefore, be understood that the
charts represent the exact order of the Epochs and Empires, but do not
exhibit the relative periods of their duration.