Many of us, no doubt, who are continually looking at the prophetic pictures of future events, trying to see more clearly every line of the picture drawn by the inspired pen, often find a detail obscure, when the essential outline stands out plain and clear and positive. And the great lessons that it is essential to preach are in these things that are clearly and strongly etched in the prophetic picture. As to surety in the great essentials, and caution as to conceiving every minor detail of unfulfilled prophecy, James White wrote some suggestive paragraphs in the Review of April 3, 1855. Commenting on 2 Peter 1:1619,—the sure word of prophecy as the light shining in a dark place, until the day dawn,—he said:
"It is certain that the prophecies were written for our learning and benefit in the mortal state, before the day shall dawn. Till that time we do well to take heed to them. Now if the prophecies relating to the second advent, its manner and object, are not to be understood till they are fulfilled, then they were designed for the benefit of immortal saints in the kingdom of God. But as they were given for a light to shine in a dark place [this mortal state, instead of the kingdom], to which we are to take heed till the day dawns, they were given for our learning, and must be understood before they are fulfilled, or they benefit no one.
"By this testimony of the apostle we may also learn that the prophecies are a light shining in a, dark place. Notice the figure. One goes out into the street in a dark night with a light, which shines around him. It enables him to advance step by step with safety. All the while his present position is plain. Ahead the light is fainter, still he sees enough to know his course is right. He recognizes large objects in the distance, but all the smaller objects and particulars of the way, he does not see till he advances with the light.
"Prophetic fulfillment is plain and sure. Of the past we have only to compare prophecy with history, and when the application is correct, prophecy will exactly fit history, like the glove to the hand, being made for it. Present fulfillment, in connection with the past, is also plain. Prophecy will answer in all particulars to existing facts. And prophetic fulfillment, past and present, in connection, will constitute a brilliant and glorious light, by which the people of God may know their present position and duty.
"Of future fulfillment we cannot speak as positively, especially to enter into all the particulars. Yet the light of prophecy shines ahead, and stretching along in the future may be distinctly seen the close of Christ's priesthood, the seven last plagues, the personal second advent of Christ, the first resurrection, the second resurrection at the close of the seventh millennium, the destruction of all the enemies of God, and the kingdom and the dominion under the whole heavens given to the saints of the Most High. These great events may be seen in their order. But the particulars of future fulfillment of prophecy may not be so clearly seen."
These were wise counsels in the early times, and even at this late day in fulfilling prophecies we may well ponder the words.
Washington, D. C.