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Charles Spurgeon's Illustration Collection
Prophecy: Too Often Interpreted by Imagination
All along the Oker Thai, in the Hartz, there are huge rocks towering up among the fir-clad hills, to which the peasants have appended names according as they fancy them to bear resemblance to chairs, horses, cobblers, or cocked bats. The likeness in most cases is such as only fancy can make out when she is in her most vigorous mood, nevertheless this rock must needs be called a man, and that a church, and there has no doubt been many a quarrel between rival observers who have discovered each a different image in the one pile of rock; yet the stones are not churches, chairs, or cobblers, and the whole business is childish and nonsensical. Interpreters of prophecy during the last few centuries have been most of them in the same position; one of them sees in the sublimities of the Revelation the form of Louis Napoleon where two or three hundred years ago half Christendom saw the Pope, and the other half Martin Luther. The other day one of the seers saw Sebastopol in the prophecies, and now another detects the Suez Canal, and we feel pretty sure that the Council at Rome will soon be spied out in Daniel or Ezekiel. The fact is, when fancy is their guide men wander as in a maze. Spiritualistic interpreters see, like children gazing into the fire, not what is really before them, but what is in their own heads. Great truths are in the Prophets and in the precious book of Revelation, but your fanciful theologians turn these sublimities of truth into the toys of children, when they give their imagination license to act as an expositor.
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Spurgeon, Charles. Entry for 'Prophecy: Too Often Interpreted by Imagination'. Charles Spurgeon's Illustration Collection. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/fff/p/prophecy-too-often-interpreted-by-imagination.html. 1870.
the Fifth Week after Epiphany