Note: James Brookes (1830-1897) was a Bible-loving preacher, author and editor who served most of his life in St. Louis, Missouri. He wrote several books and between 250 and 300 tracts and pamphlets. He was a major influence in the life of C.I.Scofield. In the article below, Brookes gives his own testimony of how he became convinced of the pre-millennial coming of Jesus Christ. The reader should keep in mind two important points: 1) Brookes held this position in a day when very few people held this view. Even most Bible believers of that day were not pre-millennial. 2) Brookes arrived at this position, not by the teaching of any man (not by Darby or anyone else), but by a careful study of the Scriptures, especially from the prophets and all the N.T. books. It was the Bible which forced him, at that time, to embrace a prophetic viewpoint that was rarely held among the churches.
No record of Dr. Brookes life and works would be complete without careful reference to his advocacy of the pre-millennial belief. Far better than any attempt of another to tell the history of his life from this standpoint, is it to quote his own words:
"HOW I BECAME A PRE-MILLENNIALIST."
"Friends have asked me to print the story of my conversion to pre-millennial truth. During the first years of my ministry the subject had never occupied my attention. There was a vague and indefinite idea in my mind that after a long interval, probably many thousands of years, there would be a general resurrection and a general judgment; but even then there was no thought of our Lords personal return to the earth. It was supposed that at some place, perhaps in the air, all would together, or one by one, hear the sentence that must fix their eternal destiny.
"Apart from this no sermon had ever been preached in my hearing about the coming of the Lord. No allusion was ever made to it in the course of my imperfect theological training. No book concerning it had ever been read. In my boyhood people had heard, even in the distant and obscure part of the South where my mother lived, that Mr. Miller, of New England, had fixed upon the day of Christs appearing, and it caused considerable excitement. But the day passed without any unusual occurrence; and those who looked for His coming were regarded as cranks, if not actually crazy.
"The Theological and Literary journal, edited by Mr. D. N. Lord, of New York, was taken, but his articles on Eschatology were skipped in reading. In fact, the entire theme was utterly distasteful to me, and even offensive. My eyes were closed and my heart sealed to the plain testimonies of Gods Word; and the plain references to the second coming were either passed over, or at least they made no impression whatever.
"At last a morning came when it was necessary to read the book of Revelation in family worship. It has always been my habit to assemble the members of my household immediately after breakfast for reading the Scripture and prayer, each one reading a verse in turn. On that particular morning, discovering that the book of Revelation was before us, some other place in the Bible was found; and. when the family went out of the study the question was put to my conscience and heart. Why did you omit the last book God has given us?
"The reply made to myself was. Because I do not understand it. The book is so full of strange beasts and mysterious symbols, it does me no good. But did God make a mistake in putting that book into the canon of sacred Scripture? That it had a right there was as clear as the inspiration of Johns gospel or the Epistle to the Romans; and after all might it not be my fault that it was so meaningless?
"Convicted and condemned at the bar of my own conscience, I opened the book and read it through at a single sitting. My mind was engaged and interested in an unusual degree; and my attention was arrested by a statement in the very beginning, Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein. (Rev. 1:3). It struck me that the Holy Ghost had said nothing about understanding it, but, Blessed is he that readeth.
"Enough was known about the prophecies in general to remember that the book of Daniel and the book of Revelation bear a close resemblance to each other; and so the former book was read with intense interest, and then the latter book again, at one time; and in an hour or two it was seen that in Daniel the Spirit of God explains some of the symbols, as the great image of Nebuchadnezzar and the four wild beasts, representing the four mighty world powers. This gave a little light upon my pathway through the book of Revelation.
"Then it occurred to me to commence with the Old Testament prophets and the whole of the New Testament, with a lead pencil in my hand, marking every passage and verse that bears upon the future of the church and the world. That there were many other prophecies before reaching the book of Isaiah was unknown to me in my ignorance; but the four greater prophets and the twelve minor prophets, together with the entire New Testament, were carefully and prayerfully perused. Probably a month passed in the investigation, and not a single human book nor comment, nor exposition of any sort, was touched.
"Having gathered up the marked passages and brought them together, three conclusions were definitely reached. First, Jesus Christ is coming back to this world as truly, bodily, visibly, personally as that He was born in Bethlehem of Judea. Second, things shall not always remain as they are now, but nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more (Isa. 2:4); The wolf shall dwell with the lamb and the leopard shall lie down with the kid (Isa 11:6); The inhabitants shall not say, I am sick; the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity (Isa. 33:24); The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea (Hab. 2:14). Third, this glorious change shall not precede, but succeed that glorious coming.
"This was many years ago, and the conclusions then reached have been deepened by every days study of the Word of God, and by the actual condition then and now of the church and the world. It has made me a lonely man, but it has been an unspeakable blessing to my soul, especially in times of sore affliction and discouragement. It has uprooted selfish ambition and a desire for human applause, and caused me to aim at least in bearing true testimony for our now rejected Lord, with a longing to be well pleasing to Him at His coming. Especially does that blessed hope throw a gleam of glory upon the graves of my beloved dead. It frets me no longer because many of my dear brethren can not see this precious truth, which shines like the sun at noonday from the Word of God, and which is a veritable key to unlock the meaning of the Scriptures. John the Baptist was a faithful witness when he said, a man can receive nothing except it be given him from heaven (John 3:27). God forbid that a poor sinner should judge them, for to their own Master they stand or fall."
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