GOD’S REVELATION OF HIMSELF TO MAN HAS BEEN A PROGRESSIVE ONE.- TRUTH IN GENERAL HAS BEEN REVEALED PROGRESSIVELY. PROPHECY, THE DIVINE HISTORY OF THE FUTURE, CONSISTS OF A SERIES OF PROGRESSIVE REVELATIONS.- PRACTICAL RESULTS OF THE COMPREHENSION AND APPLICATION OF THIS PRINCIPLE.
GOD has been pleased to make three great revelations of Himself to man: his Works; his Word; and his Son, and these revelations have been progressive in character. Nature, the Law, the Gospel; a silent material universe, an inspired Book, a living God-man; these are the three great steps that have led from the death and darkness of sin to that knowledge of the true God which is eternal life.
A fourth revelation of God, fuller and more perfect than any, is yet to come. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, who is the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person, who "declared Him" when He came the first time in grace and humiliation, will declare Him yet more fully when He comes a second time in righteousness and in glory. Then the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
Each of these revelations is in itself progressive. The earth and all that is therein, attained perfection by six distinct stages, during the six days of creation. The angels followed with adoring wonder the fresh unfoldings of Divine wisdom, goodness, and power, presented in the gradual formation of this great globe, and in its myriad mysteries of vegetable and animal life, though to human eyes nature was presented perfect and complete. But human eyes could see at first the surface of things alone; every advance in true science, enabling men to penetrate more deeply into the hidden wisdom of the work of God, has been a progressive revelation. And we have only begun, even now, to understand the glory of God, manifested in the universe. To us, more than to our ancestors, the heavens declare the glory of God, and the earth showeth his handiwork; and to our children they will do so even more.
The Word of God is also a progressive revelation, and so has been the Providence recorded in that Word.
The Bible is composed of sixty-three separate hooks, written by forty various authors, during a period of 1600 years. The sacred writings develop a revelation which was continually unfolding itself through all those years; and close with a book bearing the divinely given title of "The Revelation of Jesus Christ."
The third revelation of God, that afforded by the person and work of our blessed Lord Jesus Christ, was also progressive. The mere fact of his birth and existence in the midst of a world of sinners, was in itself an evidence of God s love to a guilty race. Each word He spoke, each act He performed, each day He, lived, unfolded more and more of God. They who saw Him saw the Father, for He was his express image; and not until He, the Maker and Judge of all, was exposed on the cursed tree, not till from his riven side flowed the water and the blood, not till He bowed his head and gave up the ghost, never till then, was the heart of God fully unveiled; hereby perceive we the love of God."
And it will be the same in the future; for since finite man is destined through boundless mercy to an eternal advance in the knowledge of the infinite God, that knowledge must needs be vouchsafed in progressive revelations, adapted to man s ability to receive them. And herein will lie one of the joys of heaven, to be ever learning more of Him, who is the Truth, and from Him, of all things.
No student of Scripture can fail to be struck with the progressive character of its teachings. On no one subject was full information given at the beginning; all was revealed in germ only, and in the lapse of ages unfolded by degrees. Take, for instance, the doctrine of the Trinity: in the beginning God taught the unity of his nature, and the other truth that in the one God there are three persons, was only intimated; suggested by certain forms of expression, as the use of a plural noun with a singular verb, which occurs several hundred times, as in #Ge 1:1, #Ps 58:2. There were besides expressions, the accurate harmony of which with this truth, we who understand it can appreciate, but which were not revelations to those who were ignorant of it. Such for example is the divinely prescribed threefold form of benediction in Numbers; and such the seraphs threefold ascription of praise in Isaiah, followed by the Lord Jehovah s question, "Who will go for us?" The later prophets assume the doctrine as true (#Isa 48:16, #Isa 9:6); but the New Testament alone reveals it fully.
Or take again the law of love; man s first duty towards his brother man. To the antediluvian world no law on the subject was given. To Noah, murder, the worst expression of hatred, was forbidden; through Moses the, doing of any ill to the neighbor was prohibited, either in his person, his property, his reputation or his domestic interests. By the Lord Jesus the feeling of any enmity was forbidden; and not only so but positive love, even to the laying down of life itself for the brother, commanded. What an advance is the conception of love embodied in #1Co 13 on that derived from Sinai, or even from the sermon on the mount.
Our present object is to trace this progress in connection with the prophecies of Scripture, and more especially with those of the New Testament.
I.The prophetic teachings of Scripture consist of a series of progressive revelations.
Its earliest predictions of any future event, have the character of outlines, later ones fill in the sketch, and the final ones present the finished picture. It is first the bud, next the half opened blossom, and lastly the flower in full bloom.
There was progress in the amount of truth revealed; as well as in the fullness of revelation on each point The little stream-let of prophecy which sprang up in Eden and trickled down through the antediluvian ages, swelled by continual accessions, till it rushed a flowing Jordan through Israel s tribes, grew into a mighty Euphrates during the Babylonish captivity, and opened out into a vast delta around Patmos, whence its waters glide calmly into the ocean of eternity.
Adam heard one brief enigmatical prediction from the voice of God Himself. Noah sketched, in three inspired sentences, the great features of human history. In the curse on Canaan was contained in embryo the iniquity of the seven nations and their conquest by Joshua; the priority of blessing granted to Shem, similarly contained the subsequent choice of his descendant Abraham to be the heir of the world and father of the faithful. In the promise of enlargement given to Japheth, was contained the spiritual enlargement which took place when the Gentiles were received into the new covenant, and the physical enlargement accomplished in comparatively recent days by the European colonization of America, and conquest of India, both "tents of Shem." This prophecy spanned the stream of time with a few gigantic arches; carrying us over from the vineyard of Noah to the Anglo-Saxon empires of our own day.
The patriarchs learned from God many additional particulars as to the future: to Abraham was revealed the history of the descendants of his two sons, Ishmael and Isaac; the four hundred years affliction of his posterity; the blessing of all nations through his seed, etc. Abraham, Jacob, and Moses; all saw Christ s day and were glad; Isaiah and Jeremiah revealed not only the proximate judgments and deliverances of Israel, but also incarnation and atonement. The visions of Daniel present not only a comprehensive but an orderly and consecutive prophetic narrative, of leading events, from his own day to the end of all things, a miniature universal history. The fall of Belshazzar; the rise of Cyrus, his conquests, the greatness of his empire; his successors, Cambyses, Smerdis, and Darius; the character, power, and conduct of Xerxes; the marvellous exploits of Alexander the Great, his sudden death, and the division of his empire; the reigns of the Ptolemies and Seleucids the character and conquests of the Roman empire; the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus; the decay and division of the Roman empire; the rise of the Papacy and its career; its cruel persecutions of God s saints:all this and much more is foretold by the man greatly beloved.
The "burdens" of the later prophets concern Syria, Egypt, Edom, Tyre, Sidon, Moab, Philistia, Kedar, Elam, Babylon, Gog and Magog, besides Judah and Ephraim. Enoch s prophecy is comprised in one verse, and touches only one theme. Isaiah s has sixty-six chapters, and touches on an immense variety of topics. From our Lord and his apostles flowed additional revelations, which opened up subjects previously veiled in mystery, and cast a flood of light on every important feature of the present and of the future. Thus the volume of prophecy grew in bulk and in scope, with the ever increasing number of individuals and of nations, and with the consequent complexity and importance of future events to be announced by inspiration.
Further, the prophecies of any one event have also a distinctly progressive character; they increase both in fullness and in clearness as the period of fulfillment approaches. A guide, conducting a traveler to Chamounix, before starting from Geneva points out the glittering white mountain on the horizon as the goal of the day s journey, and adds a few general indications of the route. When the city and its suburbs are left behind the guide ceases perhaps to speak much of Mont Blanc. tells rather of the height of the Seleve round which the road winds; from some eminence he points out the towns and villages which dot the widespread plain beyond, and which must presently be passed; traces the windings of the Arve, speaks of Bonneville and Sallenches as marking stages of the journey, but allows the magnificent terminus of their wanderings to occupy for the time a comparatively secondary place, minor but nearer objects taking up his attention. At a later period of the day, when the glorious vision of the ever nearing mountain breaks afresh upon the traveller at Sallenches, the guide pours forth clear and copious descriptions of its various parts; other things are, forgotten now, they press on; again the nearer hills shut out the mountain summit, but the guide tells how each turn of the last picturesque and winding valley will reveal some new view of it. When it reappears the traveler is startled by the nearer magnificence of the monarch of the Alps, it rivets his eye, it absorbs his attention; the guide enters into minute particulars, describes the different "aiguilles" and summits of the mountain, so that as he approaches them one by one, the traveler recognises them. And now Chamounix and the glaciers come in sight, and the traveler finds as might have been expected, that what appeared, when fifty miles off, a simple outline of uniform white, breaks up into a series of jagged peaks, with awful shadows and frozen seas lying in deep valleys between; that the one mountain is in reality half a dozen, and that what appeared at a distance merely a feature of the wide horizon, has developed into a vast and intricate region, in which he may wander for weeks without exploring it all Yet, as he gazes up at the great summit, he realizes, that it is the very same mountain he first beheld from Geneva.
Thus, from the fall onwards, the triumphs of the Cross have been the great theme of prophecy. Even in Eden the main character and grand result of human history were foretold. Enmity was to subsist between Satan and men, with all its fruits of conflict and suffering; ultimately, the serpent s head was to be bruised, the author of evil destroyed, but the victory was to be dearly bought, for the woman’s seed by whom it should be gained, should have his heel bruised in the battle. Here is the Bible in embryo, the sum of all history and prophecy in a germ. But what a mysterious enigma it was, what a slight shadowy outline, what a vague though blessed prospect! Still it was a light shining in a dark place ; its beams were feeble, but to the eye of faith it was the one glimmer that irradiated the intense gloom of the future. But what desires it must have left unsatisfied, what questions unanswered.! How long was this sore conflict to last? By what means were the vanquished to become the victors? Little could Adam and Eve know on these points; the one bright hope, like a glittering mountain top, defined their horizon; its form was rendered indistinct by the mists of ignorance; but it rivetted their gaze, for the rest of that horizon was blank, and nought but travail and sorrow and labour in an accursed earth, lay between them and this hope.
To the view of Enoch, the seventh from Adam, this single future became dual This first prophet, announced not only blessing, but judgment to come. He saw mankind divided into two classes, the saints and the ungodly (#Jude 14); and he foretold a coming of the Lord with, the former to execute judgment on the latter. Here was an advance: the previously revealed conflict reappears, and the previously revealed victory; but there shine out the additional truths that the conflict would not be between man and Satan alone, but between men and God, and that its termination would be effected only, by a coming of the Lord Himself to earth. In the sanctifying power of this truth Enoch walked in holy separation from the ungodly, and in holy fellowship with God, for three hundred years, and "before his translation he had this testimony that he pleased God.
To the patriarchs it was revealed that in their line should arise the promised Seed of the woman, in whom all the families of the earth should be blessed. Jacob s dying prophecy designated the very tribe in which He should appear, and threw some light on his character and work. To Moses it was made known that the promised Deliverer should be a prophet, and David foretold that He should be a king and the manner of his kingdom (#Psa 72). The promise of his coming grew continually brighter and clearer; but as yet it appeared only one, a glorious advent of a royal and triumphant Deliverer. What the bruising of the heel should be, was still hidden in obscurity: the double nature of Christ, his true character and work, his rejection, suffering and death, had not yet been predicted; they had been shadowed forth, it is true, in typical actions and ordinances; but these were not understood even by the actors in them.
In a wondrous historic prefiguration Abraham and Isaac, all unconsciously to themselves, had symbolised the great truth that the Father would give the Son to be the sacrifice; not knowing what he said, Isaac uttered the great question of all ages: "Behold the fire and the wood; but where is the Lamb for the burnt offering?" and Abraham gave the prophetic reply: "My son, God will provide Himself a Lamb." But types like this, and like that of Joseph s rejection by his brethren, and exaltation to Egypt s throne, were not revelations to the then existing generations of men, although we in the light of the antitype can see them to have had a hidden meaning. Nor was the paschal Lamb in Egypt, nor the complex system of sacrifices inaugurated by Moses, any revelation of the victim character of Christ. David in the Psalms wrote of his sufferings as well as his glories, but so little were these passages understood, that our Lord and his apostles had to expound them even in their day.
But when David had fallen asleep, and Solomon s typical reign was over, when declension and decay set in, and Israel s kingdom was on the wane, when a dark night of captivity and dispersion was approaching, then revelations multiplied. The star that bad so long shone in the prophetic heaven, and been regarded as one round orb, was seen to be a binary star. The objects and results of the first coming of Christ were announced, in such a way as to distinguish it from his second coming, yet not so clearly but that difficulties still left room for misconception. Many particulars and details were also added; He was to spring out of the stem of Jesse, to be a virgin s son, and to bear the name Emmanuel; his name moreover was to be called The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace; and there was to be no end of the increase of his government. The character of his kingdom was more fully described, and the fact revealed, that Gentiles as well as Jews, should share in its blessings. And strange new strains began to mingle in the music of the prophetic harp as Isaiah touched its strings, mournful tones which told of suffering and rejection, of oppression and bruises and wounds, to be inflicted on the coming One. He was to be a holy sin-bearer, a silent sufferer, a slaughtered lamb; He was to pour out his soul unto death; He was to have a grave; He was to be a substitute, a sin offering, an intercessor; and only through experiences such as these to be "satisfied" and exalted, "and divide the spoil with the great." And Daniel, in full harmony, announced that Messiah should be cut off but not for Himself and that his coming instead of bringing rest and glory to Israel, would be followed by trouble, war, and desolation. By degrees it thus became evident, that a long stretch of previously concealed valley, lay between the double summit of the mighty mountain, the hope of the coming and kingdom of Christ. Micah foretold that He should come out of Bethlehem, Zechariah that his feet should stand on the mount of Olives; but who suspected that at least 1800 years were to elapse between the two events? The exact period when He should come and be cut off was foretold, though in symbolic style; and in the same style, a glimpse was given of the interval to elapse, before He came again to be "King over all the earth." Vast progress bad been made when Malachi, closing the volume of Old Testament prophecy, spoke of the Lord coming suddenly to his temple, and the Sun of righteousness rising with healing in his wings. How amazingly more full and correct were the anticipations of Simeon and Anna than those of Adam and Eve! The earlier saints could only cast a wondering gaze abroad over the earth, and up and down through unknown ages; the later-knew the country, the city, the very building in which, and the very date at which, the Consolation of Israel should appear; and when at last the aged saint held m his arms the long promised woman s Seed, be spoke of salvation, and of peace in believing, and of a sword that must pierce the heart of the virgin mother, proving that the mystery of the bruised heel was no dark one to his heart. But yet the consummation was not come, the serpent s head was all unbruised, his power seemed mightier than ever. The goal receded as it .was approached; the kingdom of Christ was come, but it was only in a mystery. Once more the light of prophecy streams forth, the interval is filled in with copious details by our Lord and his apostles. The King is to go into a flu country and to return; the mystery not made known in other ages is revealed by the Spirit, that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs and partakers in the promises’ ; multitudinous features of the future are delineated by the pen of inspiration; but the one grand old hope, the coming of Jesus Christ to rule, and reign, and judge, and destroy the devil and his works, still rises paramount to all the rest. Finally, in the Apocalypse the last stretch of country is laid open to- view, each milestone of this closing stage of the journey may be as it were distinguished and counted, the mists have cleared away, the intervening hills and valley have taken their proper places, and as each rapid revolution of our globe brings us almost consciously nearer to "that blessed hope," we gaze with ever growing admiration at its vastness, at its glories, at its unutterable height, at its awful shadows; until as we see the old serpent, and death and hades, cast for ever into the lake of fire, and the New Jerusalem descend out of heaven, that the tabernacle of God may be evermore with men, we exclaim: "It is done; the woman s seed hath bruised the serpent s head !"
Thus again, the prophecies respecting the resurrection of the dead, and the future judgment, are few and dark in the Old Testament. Job anticipated resurrection personally, and Daniel speaks of a resurrection of part of the dead. But we have only to contrast these and similar hints, with the clear and copious predictions of #1Co 15, and #1Thess 4, in order to be convinced of the progressive character of revelation p this subject. It is Christ who has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
Thus again, the past and future restorations of Israel, so often blended in one prophecy in the Old Testament, are broadly distinguished in the New, and the hidden mystery of the calling of the Gentiles is interposed between them. Compare for instance Jeremiah xxx., xxxi., with Romans xi. : "the mystery of Christ . . in other ages was not made known unto the sons of man, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit, that the Gentiles should be fellow- heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel" (Eph. iii. These words are an emphatic assertion of the principle of progressive revelation in prophecy.
II. The prophecies of the New Testament have this progressive character, and divide themselves into five series of predictions, each series in the succession, being in advance of the preceding one.
1. The prophecies annunciatory of Christ, by the angels, by Zacharias, by Mary, by Elizabeth, by Simeon, and by John the Baptist.
2. The earlier prophecies of Christ Himself on earth.
3. The later prophecies of Christ: #Matt 22:1-Matt 24, #Mark 13, #Luke 21, #Joh 13-16.
4. The prophetic teachings of the Holy Ghost through the apostles, contained in the Acts and in the epistles.
5. The Apocalypse, or final revelation of Christ from heaven: "the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to Him, to show unto his servants the things which must shortly come to pass."
The first series declared in general the character of Christ s person and the grand objects and results of his mission; but they are silent as to all else.
The second series, or early prophecies of Christ Himself, in #Matt 7:1-#Matt 8:34 #Mark 4, reveal the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, its foundation and gradual development, its twofold character and its final issues. That this was an advance on all previous revelations may be gathered from the words of our Lord in Matthew xiii. :"Blessed are your ears for they hear; for verily I say unto you that many prophets and righteous men have desired to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them, ."
The later Prophecies of our Lord on earth, consist almost entirely of new revelations. These embrace, the rejection of the Jews on account of their unbelief; the destruction of their city and temple, their dispersion among all nations, the treading down of Jerusalem by the Gentiles, the persecution of the Christian church, the world wide preaching of the gospel, and his own second coming, with the signs and events attending it, also his own approaching sufferings and departure to the Father, and his return to receive his people to Himself with the coming and mission of the Holy Ghost during the interval of his absence. Much as all this was in advance of the Lord s previous prophecies, He added, after making these revelations: "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear .them now; howbeit, when He the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth; and He will show you things to come." After all therefore that had been revealed, concerning the future, very much still remained to be made known, and was to be made known by the
teaching of the Holy Spirit.
Here is another distinct announcement of the principle of progressive revelation in prophecy.
With the expectations thus awakened we glance next at the prophetic teachings of the Holy Spirit through the apostles.
Examining the epistles in their chronological order, we find the two earliest, those to the church at Thessalonica, filled with the subject of the Lord s second coming and revealing much fresh truth in connection with it. It is to be accompanied by the transformation of living saints, the resurrection of dead saints, and their joint rapture to meet the Lord in the air; the manner of his return, and (negatively) the time of it, are announced. Copious and detailed descriptions of the apostasy to be developed in the Christian church are given, as also the history of the man of sin, in whose career that apostasy was to culminate; his Satanic origin, his lying wonders and unrighteous deceptions, his consumption by the spirit of the Lord s mouth, and his destruction by the brightness of his coming, are all foretold for the first time.
One or two years later, Paul wrote his first letter to the & Corinthian church, in which revelations are made fuller than any previous ones, on the subject of resurrection; its principles, its manner, the nature of the bodies in which the saints will rise, the instantaneous transformation of the living to be effected at the sounding of the last trumpet, all these were newly revealed features. "Behold, I show you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be "changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump."
But, more important still, the order of this resurrection of the saints with respect to other events is mentioned: "Christ the first fruits, afterward they that are Christ s at his coming. Then cometh the end." The resurrection of saints was to be subsequent to Christ s resurrection, prior to the end; but how long subsequent to the one, or how long prior to the other, is not here revealed.
About a year after, in his epistle to the Romans, the apostle clears up the mystery of Israel s future, and answers the questions whether God had cast off his ancient people, whether they had stumbled that they should fail He reveals that their judicial rejection was but for a time; that it should terminate when the fulness of the Gentiles was brought in; and that then all Israel should be saved, and the Deliverer return to Zion He thus "vindicates the ways of God to man," and shows that his gifts and calling, are without repentance.
Peter wrote his first epistle about ten years later; but though he. speaks of the revelation of Jesus Christ, and the appearing of the Chief Shepherd, he added little to the sum of what was already known on these topics. But in his second epistle, written about the year 68; he unfolds the final doom of the heavens and the earth that are now; that they are to be burned up, the elements to melt with fervent heat and to be succeeded by a new heaven and a new earth wherein righteousness should dwell. He mentions also some particulars of the approaching apostasy; a subject on which Paul in his two letters to Timothy dwells more fully. Both apostles, paint a dark picture of the "last days;" foretell scoffers; apostates, hypocrites, false teachers seduced by evil spirits to teach doctrines of devils, a form of godliness without power; and they speak also, of their own near departure.
Then finally, thirty years later than the writings of the other apostles, and closing the inspired volume commenced by Moses 1600 years before, we find the revelation made by Christ in glory to John. It is the latest gift of a glorified Saviour to his suffering church, and is entirely different in manner, scope, and style from all that precedes it. It is all but wholly devoted to prophetic truth; it contains a full and orderly prophecy of the events that were to transpire to the end of time; it unveils new scenes, and its dark sayings are full of glorious light. It is evident that the prophetic matter of this book, was unrevealed previous to the death and crucifixion of Christ; for it is represented as contained in a seven-sealed book, written within and on the back side, A strong angel cries with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof?" and none is found worthy save the "Lamb as it had been slain," who is in the midst of the throne. He comes and takes the book out of the right hand of Him that sits on the throne, and He opens its seven seals.
The descriptions contained in this book of the sufferings of the faithful church under persecution; of the sins of Babylon the great; of the judgment to be poured upon it; of the advent of Christ and of the first resurrection; of the millennial reign of Christ (barely mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament); of the universal revolt at its close; of the judgments which follow; of the New Jerusalem; of the new heavens and the new earth; and of the eternal state- have no parallel in the whole compass of Scripture.
Being written subsequently to the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jews, the Apocalypse omits reference to these events treated by earlier prophecies; and, being addressed to the Christian church, it omits much found elsewhere, that is exclusively Jewish. But as regards all that was future to it, and of importance to the church of God, it presents a consecutive series of visions, combining and connecting the separate revelations previously made, and adding much never before revealed.
III. From these facts the following inferences may be deduced.
1.God does not reveal all the future at any one time, but gradually, as the knowledge of it may be needed and can be received.
2.We must not expect earlier prophecies to be equally comprehensive with later ones, nor endeavour to construct from the gospels and epistles alone, the perfect map of coming events. By its position as the last and fullest prophecy of the Bible, the Apocalypse is in advance of all other revelations, and a correct knowledge of the future is impossible apart from the study of it. No difficulties therefore, arising from its symbolic style or apparent obscurity, should lead us to dispense with its teachings. The testimony of later prophecies should never be in the slightest degree distorted, nor anything subtracted from their fulness, in order to bring them into harmony with earlier ones; but, on the contrary, their copious details and more comprehensive teachings, must be added to all previous revelations, and then allowed to modify the impressions we have received from earlier and more elementary predictions.
3.We must not therefore reject any particular prophetic truth because it is found "only in Revelation" but receive the teachings of this final prophecy on its inspired authority alone, when they are unconfirmed by other Scripture.
The Apocalypse being written for the church militant, for the dispensation to which we belong, and the days in which we live, is indispensable to the man of God who would now be thoroughly furnished to all good works. No portion of it should be considered as unimportant, or treated as superfluous. "Blessed is he that readeth and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things that are written therein, for the time is at hand." "If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book; and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things that are written in this hook" (#Rev 22:18)
The. Apocalypse, as a precious and principal light, shining in a dark place, until the day dawn and the Day Star arise, should be allowed to cast its rich and final rays back over all the prophecies on the subjects of which it treats, in the volume which it closes; and its consecutive visions should be employed to hind together in their proper order, the separate links of such earlier predictions.