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Daniel and The Revelation

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    Preface

    1. With Enoch, the seventh from Adam, and for three hundred and eight years contemporary with Adam, the voice of prophecy began to be heard through human lips. For so the apostle Jude declares: “And Enoch, also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them, of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” Jude 14:15. This sublime and earliest prophecy reaches to the end of time. And through all the intervening ages, other prophecies have covered all the more important events in the great drama of history.DAR 3.1

    2. The coming to pass of these great events has been but the response of history to what the prophecies had declared. And thus amid the ever-present evidences of the short-sightedness of men, and the ever-recurring failures of human schemes, a voice has continually gone up from earth to heaven, “The word of the Lord endureth forever.”DAR 3.2

    3. It is for the purpose of calling attention to some of these important prophetico-historical lessons, if we may be permitted to coin a word, that this volume is written. And the books of Daniel and the Revelation are chosen for this purpose, because in some respects their prophecies are more direct than are to be found elsewhere upon the prophetic page, and the fulfilments more striking. The object before us is threefold: (1) To gain an understanding of the wonderful testimony of the books themselves; (2) To acquaint ourselves with some of the more interesting and important events in the history of civilized nations, and mark how accurately the prophecies, some of them depending upon the developments of the then far-distant future, and upon conditions the most minute and complicated, have been fulfilled in these events; and (3) To draw from these things important lessons relative to practical Christian duties, which were not given for past ages merely, but are for the learning and admonition of the world to-day.DAR 3.3

    4. The books of Daniel and the Revelation are counterparts of each other. They naturally stand side by side, and should be studied together.DAR 3.4

    5. We are aware that any attempt to explain these books and make an application of their prophecies, is generally looked upon as a futile and fanatical task, and is sometimes met even with open hostility. It is much to be regretted that any portions of that volume which all Christians believe to be the book wherein God has undertaken to reveal his will to mankind, should come to be regarded in such a light. But a great fact, to which the reader’s attention is called in the following paragraph, is believed to contain for this state of things both an explanation and an antidote.DAR 3.5

    6. There are two general systems of interpretation adopted by different expositors in their efforts to explain the sacred Scriptures. The first is the mystical or spiritualizing system invented by Origen, to the shame of sound criticism and the curse of Christendom; the second is the system of literal interpretation, used by such men as Tyndale, Luther, and all the Reformers, and furnishing the basis for every advance step which has thus far been made in the reformation from error to truth as taught in the Scriptures. According to the first system, every declaration is supposed to have a mystical or hidden sense, which it is the province of the interpreter to bring forth; by the second, every declaration is to be taken in its most obvious and literal sense, except where the context and the well-known laws of language show that the terms are figurative, and not literal; and whatever is figurative must be explained by other portions of the Bible which are literal.DAR 4.1

    7. By the mystical method of Origen, it is vain to hope for any uniform understanding of either Daniel or the Revelation, or of any other book of the Bible; for that system (if it can be called a system) knows no law but the uncurbed imagination of its adherents; hence there are on its side as many different interpretations of Scripture as there are different fancies of different writers. By the literal method, everything is subject to well-established and clearly-defined law; and, viewed from this standpoint, the reader will be surprised to see how simple, easy, and clear many portions of the Scriptures at once become, which, according to any other system, are dark and unsolvable. It is admitted that many figures are used in the Bible, and that much of the books under consideration, especially that of the Revelation, is clothed in symbolic language; but it is also claimed that the Scriptures introduce no figure which they do not somewhere furnish literal language to explain. This volume is offered as a consistent exposition of the books of Daniel and the Revelation according to the literal system.DAR 4.2

    8. The study of prophecy should by no means be neglected; for it is the prophetic portions of the word of God which especially constitute it a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. So both David and Peter unequivocally testify. Psalms 119:105; 2 Peter 1:19.DAR 4.3

    9. No sublimer study can occupy the mind than the study of those books in which He who sees the end from the beginning, looking forward through all the ages, gives, through his inspired prophets, a description of coming events for the benefit of those whose lot it would be to meet them.DAR 4.4

    10. An increase of knowledge respecting the prophetic portions of the word of God was to be one of the characteristics of the last days. Said the angel to Daniel, “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased;” or, as Michaelis’s translation reads: “When many shall give their sedulous attention to the understanding of these things, and knowledge shall be increased.” It is our lot to live this side the time to which the angel told Daniel to thus shut up the words and seal the book. That restriction has now expired by limitation. In the language of the figure, the seal has been removed, and many are running to and fro, and knowledge has marvelously increased in every department of science; yet it is evident that this prophecy specially contemplates an increase of knowledge concerning those prophecies that are designed to give us light in reference to the age in which we live, the close of this dispensation, and the soon-coming transfer of all earthly governments to the great King of Righteousness, who shall destroy his enemies, and crown with an infinite reward every one of his friends. The fulfillment of the prophecy in the increase of this knowledge, is one of the pleasing signs of the present time. For more than half a century, light upon the prophetic word has been increasing, and shining with ever-growing luster to our own day.DAR 4.5

    11. In no portion of the word of God is this more apparent than in the books of Daniel and the Revelation; and we may well congratulate ourselves on this, for no other parts of that word deal so largely in prophecies that pertain to the closing scenes of this world’s history. No other books contain so many chains of prophecy reaching down to the end. In no other books is the grand procession of events that leads us through to the termination of probationary time, and ushers us into the realities of the eternal state, so fully and minutely set forth. No other books embrace so completely, as it were in one grand sweep, all the truths that concern the last generation of the inhabitants of the earth, and set forth so comprehensively all the aspects of the times, physical, moral, and political, in which the triumphs of earthly woe and wickedness shall end, and the eternal reign of righteousness begin. We take pleasure in calling attention especially to these features of the books of Daniel and the Revelation, which seem heretofore to have been too generally overlooked or misinterpreted.DAR 5.1

    12. There seems to be no prophecy which a person can have so little excuse for misunderstanding as the prophecy of Daniel, especially as relates to its main features. Dealing but sparingly in language that is highly figurative, explaining all the symbols it introduces, locating its events within the rigid confines of prophetic periods, it points out the first advent of the Messiah in so clear and unmistakable a manner as to call forth the execration of the Jews upon any attempt to explain it, and gives so accurately, and so many ages in advance, the outlines of the great events of our world’s history, that infidelity stands confounded and dumb before its inspired record.DAR 5.2

    13. And no effort to arrive at a correct understanding of the book of the Revelation needs any apology; for the Lord of the prophecy has himself pronounced a blessing upon him that readeth and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep the things that are written therein; for the time is at hand. Revelation 1:1-3. And it is with an honest purpose of aiding somewhat in arriving at this understanding, which is set forth by the language above referred to as not only possible but praiseworthy, that an exposition of this book, according to the literal rule of interpretation, has been attempted.DAR 5.3

    14. With thrilling interest we behold to-day the nations marshaling their forces, and pressing forward in the very movements described by the royal seer in the court of Babylon twenty-five hundred years ago, and by John on Patmos eighteen hundred years ago; and these movements — hear it, ye children of men — are the last political revolutions to be accomplished before this earth plunges into her final time of trouble, and Michael, the great Prince, stands up, and his people, all who are found written in the book, are crowned with full and final deliverance. Daniel 12:1, 2.DAR 6.1

    15. Are these things so? “Seek,” says our Saviour, “and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” God has not so concealed his truth that it will elude the search of the humble seeker.DAR 6.2

    With a prayer that the same Spirit by which those portions of Scripture which form the basis of this volume were at first inspired, and whose aid the writer has sought in his expository efforts, may rest abundantly upon the reader in his investigations, according to the promise of the Saviour in John 16:7, 13, 15, this work is commended to the candid and careful attention of all who are interested in prophetic themes. — U. S.DAR 6.3

    BATTLE CREEK, MICH., January, 1897.DAR 6.4

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