Commentary Upon the Book of Revelation Volume 3, A Lectures on Chapters 12-22 HBBy: James Durham
|Publisher||Reformation Heritage Books|
English Puritanism and Scottish Presbyterianism in the seventeenth century had many bright and shining lights. Of these, James Durham (1622–1658), ranks alongside the greatest of his generation for his theological depth, faithful preaching, and particularly for his moderate spirit at a time when such was in scarce supply. While he could have been a professor of theology in any university, Durham instead spent a brief ten-year ministry preaching and lecturing for the most part in the Inner-Kirk of Glasgow Cathedral. It was thought that he poured so much of himself into his studies for sermons and lectures that it brought about his early death at the age of thirty-six. His works were often reprinted and left an impression that lasted for centuries. Recently, all of his sermons in two volumes and his lectures on the Book of Job and on the Ten Commandments have been published in new critical editions. Continuing with his lectures, the publishers are pleased to offer now a new critical edition of James Durham’s largest book, which, while it is his more theologically intense work, retains the same practical Uses and Applications of his sermons and other lectures.
Volume 3, Lectures on Chapters 12–22 completes this new edition of James’s Durham’s Commentary upon the Book of the Revelation in three volumes. In addition to presenting the remaining forty-one lectures covering chapters 12–22, this volume also contains the final two theological excursuses: Excursus 23, “Concerning the Unity of the Catholic Visible Church” after chapter 12, lecture 3; and Excursus 24 “Concerning the Difficulty of Salvation under Popery” after chapter 14, lecture 3. This final volume opens with a 64-page biography of James Durham containing much information that is new. The appendix contains a 60-page bibliography that details all Durham’s known works and manuscripts, and from known dates a chronological catalog presents a hypothetical timeline of Durham’s six years of preaching and lecturing in Glasgow. The volume closes with indexing for all three volumes.
John Owen called James Durham, "one of good learning, sound judgement, and every way 'a workman that needeth not to be ashamed.'" To read Durham on Revelation is to find proof of this. His commentary provides what was, as Principal John MacLeod said, "in past days, the accepted Protestant view of that book". While Durham's historicist reading of Revelation is no longer the standard view, that should not deter readers, for, as Spurgeon said, “it would not be easy to find a more sensible and instructive work than this old-fashioned exposition. We cannot accept its interpretations of the mysteries, but the mystery of the gospel fills it with sweet savour.” The finest treasure in this commentary is not, however, Durham's exegetical work (helpful though this is!). Contained in his commentary are independent treatises which are the purest of theological gold. Make what you will of Durham's interpretation of Revelation, but extended essays on the Trinity, the call to the ministry, the nature of justification, and so on present Reformed thought at its best. As Richard A. Muller has said, this work “offers significant access to seventeenth-century Reformed and Presbyterian thought ... Durham’s work illustrates the relationship of Scripture with doctrine and piety and dogmatics.” Taken all in all, readers of this work will surely ultimately agree with Durham's contemporary Robert Blair, who said of this work, "Many Writers have done worthily, but thou excellest them all.”