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CITY OF GOD:
OF THE PAST, THE PRESENT, AND THE FUTURE.
SYMBOLICAL HISTORY OF THE CHURCH
AND ESPECIALLY AS DEPICTED IN SOME OF THE SCENES
GLORIOUS THINGS ARE SPOKEN OF THEE, O CITY OF GOD.
PSALM 1xxxvii, 3.
JOHN W. PARKER, WEST STRAND.
THROUGHOUT the older world, story and rite;-
Still young in hope, in disappointment old;—
Into the vast and viewless infinite,
Rises the eternal City of our God.
Her towers, the morn with disenchanting rod
Lifting the outskirts of the o'ermantling gloom;
In heaven is hid its height and deep repose.
THE object of the following pages will be best
understood, if attention is paid to one or two observations, that seem necessary in introducing a work of this kind to the public.
The reader will observe, that the First Part of it is strictly allegorical, and is intended to comprise a view of the existing state and circumstances of the Christian Church, in two, at least, of the most remarkable divisions of it. The City of God'-a constant and favourite figure of speech, ever since the day of Jerusalem's glory—is the image here employed to describe at large, the present state and future prospects of that which now is, or assumes itself to be, the representative of this ancient great idea.'
The Second Part of this work, is designed to exhibit a larger development of that history which the first briefly sketches; and for this purpose, the reader is supposed to be placed in the presence of One who wrote the symbolical history of the Church, or the City of God, and may therefore be allowed to be its appropriate interpreter. This, therefore, may be
read as an epitome of ecclesiastical history, from the first age of Christianity down to the present day. The visions forming the Book of Revelation, are here regarded as so many scenes, or pictures of events, that portray the state and condition of the Christian religion in its connexion with the world, during the successive ages of its progress and decline. Such scenes cannot but forcibly impress themselves upon the mind; and the study of them, if it has no other and better effect, will impart an interest to the history of events, which can never be forgotten without loss, or remembered without profit.
The reader must not, however, expect to find in this work an interpretation of every scene he meets with, throughout the Apocalypse. An explanation of those which are here unnoticed, he will find in various other works that are well known, and of established reputation. Those scenes only have been selected, that were thought consistent with the plan of a work not aiming to give an exposition of that divine book, but only of those portions of it deemed most significant. One principal feature of this plan, is to place the seven Churches of Asia as the most prominent in the group of subjects here contemplated, each of these subjects being considered as symbolical of periods or events, reaching from the beginning of Christianity to the time of the end.'
The Third Part of this volume enters upon the future, and is a vision entirely in the field of unfulfilled prophecy. The former two parts being chiefly limited to the history of the present City of God, and its past revolutions, this is designed to develop their sequel, and to describe that condition of glory and happiness awaiting it hereafter; in other words, to explain those sublime visions that form the subject of many of the Old Testament prophecies, and of the concluding chapters of the Apocalypse, and which are here supposed to receive their final and complete accomplishment during a period termed the Millennial Age.
Whatever differences of opinion divide the world in the present day, it can scarcely be denied that there is an almost universal consent as to the conclusion, that better things are in store for some future race of men upon the earth. There seems a growing conviction among all classes, that we are approaching towards a grand æra of moral and intellectual renovation. And no Englishman who reflects upon the state of religion with regard to his own, and especially other countries, will believe that Christianity is destined always to exercise that very partial and divided empire, which has been its lot for the last eighteen centuries. For many reasons, then, it is important to entertain clear and scriptural views on a