« PrécédentContinuer »
instances a sufficient number of MSS. have never yet been cited. Moreover, though the received text, as it is, contains the word of God, on which any soul may rest as safely as on heaven's foundation, still there are many precious gems buried in the great hoard of criticism, by those who have gone before me; and such valuables I feel it my duty to bring out to the sight of all, that no one, if possible, may be ignorant of their real worth. Now this is occupation for which every one has not such leisure and opportunities as are granted to myself. As there are many others, I have no doubt, who are of the same sentiments with our honest friend (Franke) upon this subject, I shall consider his remarks as a call of some importance to insert a few observations upon it in the preface to my work."
II. To the Missionaries of the Royal Danish Mission at Tranquebar.
“17 Nov. 1751. “I have watched the progress of the Tranquebar mission from its commencement, and have ever felt an interest in endeavouring to promote its success under the Divine blessing. Some years ago I took an opportunity of sending thither a copy of my edition of the Greek Testament,* and have lately had much pleasure in hearing of its favourable reception and useful
From the time that the span of human life became reduced to our three-score years and ten, the Scriptures have been all along, and will continue to be, the standard of instruction in the Divine economy, with respect to the community of God's people at large, as also with respect to individuals. And though much critical erudition as well as common reading has been applied to no better purpose than that of mere head knowledge, still there is no particle of God's word which does not deserve the most careful research, yes, which has not its appropriate and infallible use to those who will give it time and occasions for taking effect. All in it tends to make the man of God perfect, thoroughly furnished for every yood work. Labourers of your own sort among those converted heathen, to whom Scripture announcements are entirely new, enjoy more frequent opportunities, than we can have, of witnessing the vital operations of Revealed truth. In our christian countries, people become so formally familiar with the statements of such truth, that
* See above, ch. iii. sect. 5, of this Third Part.
instead of deriving from it sound nurture and solid satisfaction, they rather seem cloyed, and inclined to loathe it altogether.
“ The tidings that reach us respecting the free course of the word of the Lord, with the advancement of his kingdom in distant parts of the East and West, call for gratitude and praise from all who love his salvation; and may well excite us Europeans to a holy jealousy, lest such light as now begins to shine into the darker regions of the earth should at length withdraw from ourselves for having been so little thankful for it, and because we have so little valued it. O that the faithful servants of our common Lord every where, may persevere in prayerful patience, to do with their might whatever the hand of every one in his station may find to do!" &c.
III. To — Müller, M.A., of Dresden. “Your communications for my intended edition of the Ordo Temporum in German, are very acceptable and valuable, and you will find me always ready to impart freely in return whatever my humble ability may permit. As I could get no publisher to undertake the original Latin work, I am publishing it at my own expense, because the subject of it is of importance; though of course I thus incur pecuniary loss, and the Latin edition will go off the slower, when another in German succeeds it. Let me however say, that it will give me real pleasure to promote your valuable design; and if you will have the goodness to send to me your MS., I will adapt it not to the Latin edition, but to my present views, should this equally meet your approbation.'
IV. To Mr. B., a municipal officer at D-This gentleman had written (July 30, 1744,) to Bengel as follows:
“Reverend Sir,-- As your erudition and knowledge of spiritual things may enable you to render many scripture prophecies upon temporal subjects popularly intelligible, and as some information of the kind may, at this changeful and disquieted period, be of great use to a whole community, and even to a particular city, I would ask, with all deference, what you think is likely sooner or later to be the fate and condition of the imperial city of D. ? If it is not giving you too much trouble, your communicating to me your sentiments upon this subject will greatly oblige me; and
I would have it to be entirely between ourselves in perfect confidence and secrecy." Bengel replied:
Aug. 12, 1744. “ Honoured Sir,-From the inquiry you put to me, I must conclude that you have heard a very different account of my humble ability from what it really is. I own that scripture intimations, favourable and unfavourable, have afforded me some insight even into futurity, and I bless God for it; but as to the peculiar fate of any single city, or indeed of any single nation, whether of the Roman earth or elsewhere, I certainly can say nothing. Still, as it appears to be no mere chance that a person of political eminence like yourself should thus apply to me, I will frankly communicate to you what I consider to have been imparted to me of God; which may be of more real use than any foreknowledge respecting the issues of peace and war, or of any course of politics.
“ We are approaching a time of spiritual, specious, and most : extensive seduction ; which will be followed up by extraordinary
violence. The only true preparative against that seduction is, wisdom from above; and against that violence, to be patient and faithful unto death. Any retaliation that Christians may be
provoked to make upon the enemies of the truth, will most E certainly recoil upon themselves. Past experience may teach us
this, in the instance of many a city and country. Persons therefore who are really concerned to please God, and to promote the public welfare, who sincerely wish to save their own souls and those of others, ought to obtain power from on high against the very severe trials which are likely sooner or later to enter our own borders. They ought to arm themselves with spiritual strength by true repentance and conversion, faith and prayer, steadfastness and hope; and whoever of them are invested with civil or ecclesiastial authority, ought to take care that the Lord's flock be well watched and guarded, against that time, when the Almighty, by wonderful judgments, rebukes, and deliverances, will render his excellent name glorious in the sight of all the world,” &c.
V. To Captain von Franke, upon his inquiring, What we are to
think of the comet that appeared in the year 1744 ?
Very opposite opinions prevail respecting comets. The most probable, I think, is, that they are a kind of planets, created originally with the rest of the stars, and having their appropriate positions and courses between the inferior planets. Some reckon upon having nearly ascertained their regular motions, so as to predict the time about which they will reappear.
. We can hardly imagine them to have no physical influence upon our globe with respect to heat, cold, moisture, drought, &c., but that they should forebode any political good or evil, is not to be supposed for a moment.
“ Faith puts the children of God above comets and all natural phenomena, much as the Creator displays, in such things, his wonderful power and majesty. If we wish, for the strengthening of our faith, to take a look into futurity, the best information about things near to come or more remote in these last times, is to be found in the celestial system of Holy Writ, among the prophecies,” &c. VI. Correspondence with Marthius, relative to the interpretation
of the Apocalypse. Bengel having mentioned his apocalyptical discoveries, in a letter to his excellent friend Marthius, of Presburg, (18th April, 1725,) and having observed to him that the massacre which had recently been perpetrated in Thorn, at the instigation of Jesuits, had very much confirmed him in his views, by its happening just at that period, Marthius replied as follows:
“ Oct. 18, 1725. “ The MS.* which I think of sending you, contains a variety of painted figures emblazoned with the purest gold, which I must leave you, my dear friend, as a Greek cabalist, to decipher and explain. For at the end of your last letter you showed such a predilection for deciphering hieroglyphics of another sort, (prophetico-chronological,) that I may well imagine you will think it neither adventurous nor very difficult to unriddle here what to my poor understanding appears no mystery at all, or much too mysterious for me. You tell me that you hit upon your present views just about the time of that tragical affair at Thorn. By so"saying, you furnish me with the key to what would have remained indeed a mystery to me, but is now no longer such ; so that I think I may regard your discovery as more ingenious than correct. Nay, I am half inclined to reply to you as I lately did to a countryman of mine, who thought he could prove from the Apocalypse that what he called the Philadelphian period is just at hand. I said to him, “ These are but sickly dreams. And indeed I must tell yourself, that persons who perplex themselves about
* See above, ch. iii. latter part of sect. 2, of this Third Part.
fixing the destinies of future ages, appear to me to be going beyond their commission, and to be led by more of credulity, than of faith. (Acts i. 7.) I write this, beloved brother, not from any disposition to be captious, but because I would not have your attention turned away
from what we know to be most certain and important, in order to be given to what is less so. Certain and important, I quite concede, it is, that we are living in those last times of the world, of which our Saviour predicted that the love of many would wax cold; and that now more than ever have we to regard those positive admonitions of the Apocalypse and of Revelation in general, “Remember! Repent! Believe! Press forward into the kingdom of God! Watch! Be zealous !' &c. All our personal Christianity and the success of our ministry are involved in the observance of these and suchlike admonitions."
Nov. 2, 1725. “ Your last letter, my dear brother, relates to two things : first, a Greek MS., and secondly, research into future times; and I know not whether I am most pleased with your obliging readiness to help me to the former, or with the frankness with which you decline having any thing to do with the latter. In the same manner then will I endeavour to shape my answer upon both matters to yourself. I agree with you in valuing the Scriptures as a whole; and the New Testament as a whole; so as not to muse separately upon the Apocalypse. And as to the Apocalypse itself, I accord with you about treasuring up for personal use those imperative admonitions, Watch,' &c. Yes, these are of the last importance. Only as the Scriptures speak to us of something additional, as counting of number, signs of times, years, months, days, hours, and even half hours, and this surely not that such things should be always unknown; are we not to notice and consider them in conjunction with the above practical admonitions? It is true that we cannot arrive at the knowledge of what the Father hath reserved in his own power; but does it not become us to inquire into what he has set before our eyes in the sacred writings, that we may profit withal? What though many have undertaken to discover future events which they promised should transpire before now, thereby exposing their own ignorance ; while many others have predicted great things for times still future, (as for about the years 1736, 1739, 1748, 1750,) who will very likely be found as ignorant as the former;