Dr. John Smith
A Summary View and Explanation of the Writings of the Prophets (1804)
"by far the greatest number of prophecies relate to events which are now past; and therefore a sufficient acquaintance with history, and with the language and style of prophecy, is all that is requisite to understand them."
(On The Language of Prophecy)
"The writings of the prophets, the most sublime and beautiful in the world, lose much of that usefulness and effect which they are so well calculated to produce on the souls of men,
from their not being more generally understood. Many prophecies are somewhat dark, till events explain them. They are, besides, delivered in such lofty and figurative terms, and with such frequent allusions to the customs and manners of times and places the most remote, that ordinary readers cannot, without some help, be supposed capable of understanding them. It must therefore be of use to make the language of prophecy as intelligible as may be, by explaining those images and figures of speech in which it most frequently abounds; and this may be done generally, even when the prophecies themselves are obscure." (A Summary View and Explanation of the Writings of the Prophets)
The Significance of A.D.70)
"Besides, a great degree of obscurity is necessary to some prophecies before they can be fulfilled; and if not fulfilled, the consequence would not be so beneficial to mankind. Thus many of the ancient prophecies concerning the destruction of Jerusalem had a manifest relation to the remoter destruction by the Romans, as well as to the nearer one by the Chaldeans. Had the Jews perceived this, which was not indeed clear enough till the event explained it, they would probably have wished to have remained for ever in their captivity at Babylon, rather than expose themselves or their offspring a second time to a destruction so dreadful as that which they had already experienced."
(On The Fulfillment of Prophecy)
"With respect to our times, by far the greatest number of prophecies relate to events which are now past; and therefore a sufficient acquaintance with history, and with the language and style of prophecy, is all that is requisite to understand them."
"The sun, moon, and stars, the highest objects in the natural world, figuratively represent kings, queens, and princes or rulers; the highest in the world politic. ‘The moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed;’ Isaiah 24:23. ‘I will cover the heavens, and make the stars thereof dark: I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light;’ Ezekiel 32:7." (ibid.)
(On 'Hades' of the Old Testament)
"The mode of burying in the Jewish sepulchers, or ‘sides of the pit,’ and their Hades, or state of the dead, supplied many images of the same kind. See observations on Isaiah xiv., and Ezekiel 26:20."
(On The Imagery of the Olivet Discourse)
"By images borrowed from the world natural the prophets frequently understand something analogous in the world politic. Thus, the sun, moon, stars, and heavenly bodies denote kings, queens, rulers, and persons in great power; their increase of splendor denotes increase of prosperity; their darkening, setting, or falling denotes a reverse of fortune, or the entire ceasing of that power or kingdom to which they refer. Great earthquakes, and the shaking of heaven and earth, denote the commotion and overthrow of kingdoms; and the beginning or end of the world, their rise or ruin."
(On The Word 'Earth')
"By the earth, or the word so translated, the prophets frequently mean the land of Judea; and sometimes, says Sir Isaac Newton, the great continent of all Asia and Africa, to which they had access by land. By the isles of the sea, on the other hand, they understood the places to which they sailed, particularly all Europe, and probably the islands and seacoasts of the Mediterranean."
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