The Witness of the Stars E. W. Bullinger – Preface
Some years ago it was my privilege to enjoy the acquaintance of Miss Frances Rolleston, of Keswick, and to carry on a correspondence with her with respect to her work, Mazzaroth or, the Constellations. She was the first to create an interest in this important subject. Since then Dr. Joseph A. Seiss, of Philadelphia, has endeavored to popularize her work on the other side of the Atlantic; and brief references have been made to the subject in such books as Moses and Geology, by Dr. Kinns, and in Primeval Man; but it was felt, for many reasons, that it was desirable to make another effort to set forth, in a more complete form, the witness of the stars to prophetic truth, so necessary in these last days.
To the late Miss Rolleston, however, belongs the honor of collecting a mass of information bearing on this subject; but, published as it was, chiefly in the form of notes, unarranged and unindexed, it was suited only for, but was most valuable to, the student. It was she who performed the drudgery of collecting the facts presented by Albumazer, the Arab astronomer to the Caliphs of Grenada, AD 850; and the Tables drawn up by Ulugh Beigh, the Tartar prince and astronomer, about AD 1450, who gives the Arabian astronomy as it had come down from the earliest times.
Modern astronomers have preserved, and still have in common use, the ancient names of over a hundred of the principal stars which have been handed down; but now these names are used merely as a convenience, and without any reference to their significance. This work is an attempt to popularize this ancient information, and to use it in the interest of truth.
For the ancient astronomical facts and the names, with their meaning, I am, from the very nature of the case, indebted, of course, to all who have preserved, collected, and handed them down; but for their interpretation I am alone responsible. It is the possession of “that blessed hope” of Christ’s speedy return from heaven which will give true interest in the great subject of this book.
No one can dispute the antiquity of the signs of the Zodiac, or of the constellations. No one can question the accuracy of the ancient star names which have come down to us, for they are still preserved in every good celestial atlas. And we hope that no one will be able to resist the cumulative evidence that, apart from God’s grace in Christ there is no hope for sinners now; and apart from God’s glory, as it will be manifested in the return of Christ from heaven, there is no hope for Israel, no hope for the world, no hope for a groaning creaton. In spite of all the vaunted promises of a religious world, and of a worldly church, to remove the effects of the curse by a social gospel of sanitation, we are more and more shut up to the prophecy of Genesis 3:15, which we wait and long to see fulfilled in Christ as our only hope. This is beautifully expressed by the late Dr. William Leask:
And is there none before? No perfect peace
Unbroken by the storms and cares of life,
Until the time of waiting for Him cease,
By His appearing to destory the strife.
No, none before.
Do we not hear that through the flag of grace
By faithful messengers of God unfurled,
All men will be converted, and the place
Of man’s rebellion be a holy world?
Yes, so we hear.
Is it not true that to the Church is given
The holy honor of dispelling night
And bringing back the human race to heaven,
By kindling everywhere the Gospel light?
It is not true.
Is this the hope–that Christ the Lord will come,
In all the glory of His royal right,
Redeemer and Avenger, taking home
His saints, and crushing the usurper’s might?
This is the hope.
May the God of all grace accept and bless this effort to show
forth His glory, and use it to strengthen His people in waiting
for His Son from Heaven, even Jesus which delivered us from the
wrath to come.
Ethelbert W. Bullinger