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in any manner bring it into disrepute, are unsettling, undesignedly perhaps, the foundation of all revealed religion. It is scarcely necessary for us to say that the whole commentary has been revised from the form in which it first appeared. Many illustrations, facts, and arguments have been added, and the work thereby has been greatly enlarged. The introduction, containing the essays on the authorship of the work, and also on its date, is entirely new. By the arguments advanced under these heads we know not how others may be affected; but we are persuaded that the Apocalypse was written by the Apostle JoHN, and that it had its origin before the destruction of Jerusalem. It is in our view a divine book. It bears a striking resemblance to the Old Testament, especially to the book of Daniel, although we are aware it has points peculiar to itself. It is becoming every day better understood, and more highly appreciated. It is of vast importance to the understanding of it, that the date should be rightly fixed; and it is a matter of sincere gratification, that commentators, without distinction of sect, are coming more and more to believe that it was written prior to the great and last overthrow of the Jewish nation. We have proceeded upon the belief that the common English version is as correct a translation of the original, taken all in all, . as any other; or, at any rate, that it is sufficiently correct to enable the careful student, even though he be but an English scholar, to gain the sense of the inspired writers. From such a conviction, we have avoided, as far as possible, the sprinkling of
our pages with Greek words and phrases. We would by no
means undervalue a knowledge of the original languages in which the Bible was written; but we are persuaded that it is not absolutely essential to the knowledge of divine truth. If men will but use the common version to the highest advantage to which it may be put, we have no fear that they will fail to get a proper perception of the meaning of the sacred writers. With these reflections we submit the work to the public. It has been prepared for publication in this form at the urgent request of many friends. If it shall be the means of doing any good, however small, let the praise be given to Him by whom our
life has been spared, and our strength measurably continued.
January 1, 1848.
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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1848, by THoMAs whit TEM or E, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
stEREotyped By GE OR GE A. C U R T IS; NEW ENGLAND TYPE AND STEREOTYPE FOUNDRY.
THE Apocalypse has generally been regarded as a very dark and difficult book. This opinion has been so prevalent that it has been thought a mark of wisdom not to attempt to explain it. One author says, “Calvin was wise, because he wrote not on the Apocalypse.” That the work is more difficult for us to understand than it was for those to whom it was originally addressed, we have no doubt. It was to them probably a work of deep interest, of profitable contemplation, and a source of high hope. They had means of understanding it which we do not, and cannot, have. But because we have not all their advantages, shall we not attempt to understand it at all? What made the book so dark to Calvin, Graserus, Whitby, and others ? Perhaps they looked at it under peculiar disadvantages. For our part, we are willing to confess, that if a man believes the Apocalypse was not written until after the destruction of Jerusalem, and if he believes in the common notions concerning the day of God's wrath, the judgment of the dead, the great dragon, the bottomless pit, &c., &c., he cannot understand the book. He will be continually hampered by his pre-conceived system; and, in harmony with such a system, no probable interpretation can be given. Although
Professor Stuart has produced an excellent work upon the Apocalypse, – the most consistent and valuable, we think, of any we have ever seen, – yet he was manifestly troubled and warped in his judgment in interpreting certain parts by his theological system, or creed, especially his belief in endless misery, and the popular notions of a future judgment. The devotion to creeds has done more to prevent the Apocalypse from being fitly interpreted than any other cause. It has produced the most extravagant and perverted views of it; and the variety and enormity of these views have led thousands to conclude that the work is altogether inscrutable to human wisdom. But is this book absolutely dark, so that it is impossible for us to get at the meaning at all ? Is it impossible to do anything to throw light on the chaos? We think not. If anything can be done, ought we not to do it? Those preachers who seek to create excitement and alarm — who operate upon the fears of the | weak and uninstructed — do not fail to resort to this book. Its sublime metaphors and allegories, when misapplied, furnish them with rich subjects. Why should not a counter effort be made to explain it ! Let us apply the principles of sound criticism to the | interpretation, and we may do something towards bringing out | the true sense of the book. Let us gain what light we can now, and wait for the advancing day to bring us more. With these | feelings we have entered upon the effort before us. | It is proper here to state, that the first form in which this commentary appeared was in detached articles in a weekly | religious paper, conducted by the author. For many years after | |