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THOUGH prophecy reveals things to come, and defends the cause and the truth of religion against its enemies, yet speculations of futurity, and what is usually termed controversial divinity, seem to have little or no connexion with its immediate and peculiar object, and but indifferently to promote its special and determinate end and use. By having been too often mixed up with it, they seem rather, on the contrary, and in no small degree, to have perplexed its sense, obstructed its use, and obscured and embarrassed its interpretation. Futurity is confessedly a region beyond our reach -THERE, therefore, our curiosity should be curbed, and speculations should be avoided-fact is our safest clue in the dark and puzzled ways of Providence, and we must be content to wait for the event as our surest and best guide for the exposition of prophecy.

And again, what have diversities of parties, varieties of forms or of opinions, or discussions of


particular doctrines or practices in the bosom of the church, to do with the direct and fundamental evidences of religion itself, and with the general defence and confirmation of the Gospel?

It is, therefore, the design of the following pages to investigate the true aim and use of prophecy, to simplify and to promote its object, to fix and to pursue its end, to inquire into and adjust its general sense and application, to call forth and to employ its powerful aid and decisive testimony in advocating the Christian religion and in supporting and defending the Catholic Church. In doing which if it has been found necessary to consider more carefully, and to explain more diffusely, some of the more distinguished and important, and at the same time more obscure and difficult prophecies, it has been for the purpose of applying to them the established and legitimate system of exposition, and thence of combining them with those whose design and meaning have been notified and confirmed by the event, and whose use and fulfilment have been in consequence almost universally perceived and acknowledged: to unite the ancient with the later, and the Jewish with the Christian period or portion of the prophecies; that as the Law in the Old Testament, and the Gospel in the New, constitute one and the same religion, so the prophecies which are more immediately connected with them respectively, may be enlisted in the same cause, and defend the same truth and the

same church, and may mutually conspire to produce a rational and well-founded belief, and to maintain a steady and unshaken profession, of the Christian religion. "For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy;" and, therefore, Christ or his enemies are the perpetual and invariable objects of the gracious promises or of the solemn warnings and indignant denunciations of the holy prophets, the sole drift and concern of the prophetic spirit. But, however, it is not Christ merely in his private character, and in his personal and individual capacity, that is always pointed out and intended by the Lord and Giver of prophecy; it is Christ more especially in his public functions; his relative influence and his corporate capacity; Christ, including his church, both the head and the members, that "Totus Christus caput et corpus est*," the entire Christ is both the head and the body, is an observation founded on Scripture and sanctioned by antiquity; and is a weighty and glorious truth, equally valuable in practice as it is important and instructive in theory; equally the unfailing source of real devotion and the substantial principle of moral virtue, as it is the unerring guide of sacred study and the sure rule of prophetic interpretation. Hence Jesus Christ being always unchanged and unchangeably the same "yesterday, to-day, and for ever," his

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body, the church, must also remain continually and unalterably the same, and be seen and represented as one and the same indivisible body, in all the successive visions and various announcements of the prophets, without separation of its parts or disjunction of its interests. If, therefore, the true and immutable design and use of prophecy were carefully investigated and justly and permanently settled, and the purposes for which it has been given by the Head of the church, and to which it has in fact so signally contributed, were always kept in view; if the promotion of essential and indispensable truth, and the diffusion and confirmation of the Catholic faith, were duly estimated and soberly pursued; if the prosperity of the one church and the propagation of the one religion of the Gospel, without distinction of names or variety of forms or of tenets, were preferred to the advancement of any one name or party, and to the depression or extinction of another; and if the history of the whole undivided body of Christ and of its enemies were made, without partiality and without prejudice, the faithful guide of our inquiries, and the fixed rule and standard of our conclusions and our decisions, prophecy would become at once less obscure and less perplexed, and more edifying and more useful; it would be no longer, as at present, subject to the exceptions, or to the neglect and contempt of the sober and the wise, but would confer its powerful

support, and employ its indefectible resources, in order to strengthen the cause and to increase the evidences of Christ's religion, to confirm and satisfy its doubting and unsettled friends, and to convince and persuade, or at least to confound and silence, its open gainsayers and avowed enemies. It would become the faithful advocate and constant guardian of the truth, to maintain with success and to extend without fail and without limit the Gospel of peace and the church of God.

That such advantages have been reaped and such effects have been derived from the early and the Jewish prophecies, is well known. Numerous writers of great talents, profound erudition, and of imperishable fame, have done inexpressible and unexhaustible service to religion and truth, by clearly and incontrovertibly evincing the faithful and adequate completion of those prophecies which concerned the ancient Israel, and the heathen world which immediately surrounded it, and was directly opposed to it. The prophets have, indeed, been brought up in this case with the soundest judgment and the happiest result, in the defence of the truth, and have been wisely and properly combined with the Apostles in preaching the Gospel and in founding the church: and the Christian religion has had no cause to lament the unskilfulness of its defenders, the waste of its treasures, and the neglect of its interest and security. Here there were no controversies to divide the church, and no

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