THE FATHER OF ENGLISH EXEGESIS
Upon all the Books of
the New Testament
“This was the first commentary of any length to be published in the
English language,” E. Early Ellis
FIRST GENERATION MODERN
Royal chaplain of King Charles I
1649-1660 - Henry Hammond and the Preterist School of
"The majority of interpreters admitted, what could not
indeed be well denied, that the predictions in Mark and Luke referred to the
destruction of Jerusalem, but thought that in Matthew predictions of the end
of the world and the general judgment were mixed together: the nearer event
being, in our Lord's mind, a type of the more remote. In opposition to these
views, Dr. Hammond, in his Commentary, had suggested that the whole of the
prophecy had reference solely to the destruction of Jerusalem" (Memoir of Wellbeloved)
A Premonition Concerning the Interpretation of the Apocalypse
Having gone through all the other parts of the New Testament, I came to this last of the Apocalypse, as to a rock that many had miscarried and split upon, with a full resolution not to venture on the expounding of one word in it, but onely to perform one office to it, common to the rest, the review of the Translation :
But it pleased God otherwise to dispose of it ; for before I had read (with the design of translating only) to the end of the first verse of the book, these words, which must come to pass presently, had such an impression on my mind, offering themselves as a key to the whole prophecie, (in like manner as, this generation shall not passe till all these things be fulfilled, Matt. 24.34. have demonstrated infallibly to what coming of Christ the whole Chapter did belong) that I could not resist the force of them, but attempted presently a general survey of the whole Book, to see whether those words might not probably be extended to all the prophecies of it, and have a literal truth in them, viz., that the things foretold and represented in the ensuing vision ; were presently, speedily, to come to passe,
one after another, after the writing of them.
But before I could prudently passe this judgment, which was to be founded in understanding the subject-matter of all the Visions, some other evidences I met with, concurring with this, and giving me abundant grounds of confidence of this one thing, that although I should not be able to understand one period of all these Visions, yet I must be obliged to think that they belonged to those times that were then immediately ensuing, and that they had accordingly their completion, and consequently that they that pretended to find in those Visions the predictions of events in these later ages, and those so nicely defined as to belong to particular acts and persons in this and some other kingdomes (a farre narrower curcuit also then that which resonably was to be assigned to that one Christian prophecie for the Universal Church of Christ) had much mistaken the drift of it.
The arguments that induced this conclusion where these: first, that this was again immediately inculcated, v.3,
for the time is nigh, and that rendered as proof that these seven Churches, to whom the prophecie was written, were concerned to observe and consider the contents of it,
Blessed is he that reads, and he that hears, &c. (saith Arethas, that so hears as to practise)
for the time, or season, the point of time is near at hand. Secondly, that as here in the front, so c. 22.6, at the close, or shutting up of all these Visions, and of S.
John's Epistle to the Seven Churches, which contained them, 'tis there again added, that God
hath sent his Angel to shew to his servants the things that must presently, or
speedily, or suddanly ; and immediately upon the back of that are set the words of Christ, the Author of this prophecie,
Behold I come quickly, not in the notion of his final coming to judgment (which hath been the cause of a great deal of mistake, see Note on Mat. 24.b.) but of his coming to destroy his enemies, the Jewes, &c. and then,
Blessed is he that observes, or keeps, the prophecies of this book, parallel to what had been said at the beginning, c.1.3. Thirdly, that v.10. the command is given to John,
not to seal the prophecies of the book, which that it signifies that they were of present use to those times, and therefore to be kept open, and not to be laid up as things that posterity was only or principally concern'd in, appears by that reason rendered of it,
because the time is nigh, the same which had here at the beginning been given, as the reason that he that considered the prophecies was
blessed in so doing." (A Paraphrase.., In loc.)
"This being thus far deduced out of such plain words, so many times repeated, the next thing that offered itself to me was, to examine and search what was the designe of Christ's sending these Visions in a letter to the
Seven Churches. For by that somewhat might generally be collected of the matter of them, What that design was, appeared soon very visibly also from plain.."
"And it has been matter of much satisfaction to me, that
what hath upon sincere desire of finding out the truth, and making my
addresses to God for his particular directions in this work of difficulty..
appeared to me to be the meaning of this prophecie, hath, for this main of
it, in the same manner represented it self to several persons of great piety
and learning (as since I have discerned) none taking it from the other, but
all from the same light shining in the Prophecie it self. Among which
number I now also find the most learned Hugo Grotius, in those
posthumous notes of his on the Apocalypse, lately publish'd."