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The volume now in the reader’s hands requires a few introductory words of explanation. It contains little that is entirely new. It consists of eight sermons, delivered on public occasions, at various intervals during my ministry, and afterwards published in the form of tracts. Of these sermons, one or two have perhaps obtained a greater circulation than they deserved, while one or two, in my humble judgment of more real worth—have received comparatively little notice. They are now brought together in their present form, for the convenience of those who wish to have a manual of my views of prophecy, in a compact state.
At the very outset I warn the reader of these pages that he will find here nothing deep or abstruse. I have purposely avoided everything that can be called speculative or conjectural. I have strictly confined myself to a few great prophetical principles, which appear to me written as it were with a sunbeam. I have not attempted to expound such portions of God’s Word as Ezekiel’s temple, or the symbolic visions of Revelation. I have not ventured to fix any dates. I have not tried to settle the precise order or manner in which predictions of things to come are to be fulfilled. There is nothing I dislike so much in prophetical inquiry, as dogmatism or positiveness. Much of the discredit which has fallen on prophetical study has arisen from the fact that many students instead of expounding prophecy—have turned prophets themselves!
If anyone asks me what my prophetical opinions are, I am quite ready to give him an answer. As cautious and doubtful as I feel on some points, there are certain great principles about which I have fully made up my mind. I have held by them firmly for many years, and have never had my opinion shaken about them. I have lived in the belief of them for more than a third of a century, and in the belief of them I hope to die. The older I grow, the more do I feel convinced of their truth, and the more satisfied am I that no other principles can explain the state of the Church and the world.
One thing only I wish to premise, before making my statement. The reader must distinctly understand that I do not put forth my prophetical views as articles of faith—but only as my private opinions. I do not say that nobody can be saved, who does not agree with me about prophecy. I am not infallible. I am very sensible that holier and better men than myself, do not see these subjects with my eyes, and think me utterly mistaken. I condemn nobody. I judge nobody. I only ask liberty to hold and state distinctly my own views. The day will decide who is right. It is the new heart, and faith in Christ’s blood—which are absolutely necessary to salvation. The man who knows these two things experimentally, may be wrong about prophecy—but he will not miss Heaven.