Notes on the Apocalypse or A Commentary on the Book of Revelation (1870) by David Steele (Free MP3s, Free Online Book, Printed Book, etc.)
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Summary of Notes on the Apocalypse by David Steele
In 1779, in their Testimony and Warning Against the Blasphemies and Idolatry of Popery, the Reformed Presbytery called James Durham's Complete Commentary... On the Book of Revelation (linked below in related books), "the best exposition of that book that has yet been published" (p. 61n).
Had they had the privilege of reading David Steele's Notes on the Apocalypse (a commentary on Revelation) we are quite certain that they would have given it a similar endorsement. Though written in a different style than Durham's work, Steele's notes on Revelation may be even more valuable in many respects -- Steele having taken a more decided position "in the wilderness" (by separating himself, in accord with Scripture, from unfaithful churches).
David Steele also had the benefit of many more resources, having written over two centuries later than James Durham. Steele's aim in writing this book is made clear in his own words from the preface of Notes on the Apocalypse,
As this work is intended for the instruction and edification of the unlearned, rather than for the entertainment of the learned, words of foreign extract are used as seldom as possible.
Practical remarks and reflections are rarely introduced; the principal aim being simply to ascertain and present to the reader the mind of the Holy Spirit
. How far this object has been accomplished, is of course left to the judgment of the honest inquirer. The reader, however, in forming his judgment of the value of these Notes
, may be reminded of that inspired rule in searching the Scriptures, -- "Comparing spiritual things with spiritual."
To assist him in the application of this divine rule, many chapters and verses are quoted from other parts of the Bible, but especially within the Apocalypse itself; that by concentrating the various rays upon particular texts or symbols, their intrinsic light may be rendered more luminous. Thus the interpretation given, if correct, may be confirmed and illustrated.
Appendices include sections on:
- The New Jerusalem
- The Antichrist
- The Image of the Beast
- The Beast's "deadly wound"
- The Little Book
- The Death of the Witnesses
- The Mark of the Beast
- The First Resurrection
- The Identity of the Two Witnesses
- Sounding of the Seventh Trumpet
- The Title of this Book (i.e. the Book of Revelation -RB).
This work also includes various "animadversions on the interpretations (of Revelation -RB) of several among the most learned and approved expositors of Britain and America."
Comments on this work include the four given below, all which were given without the solicitation or knowledge of the author.
- The Evangelical Repository notes, "the author adduces a greater number of Scriptural illustrations than any other writer on prophecy we ever met with."
- Hutcheson writes, "I can recommend it to any person as condensing the best thoughts to be had on the subject."
- Brooks says, "I have derived more knowledge of the Apocalypse from this work than from all other expositions which I have consulted."
- And finally, John Cunningham comments, "It is neither a dictionary nor concordance; neither a confession of faith, nor an encyclopedia, but a thesaurus of Theology, embodying the characters of all these."
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Notes on the Apocalypse or A Commentary on the Book of Revelation (1870) by David Steele (Free MP3s, Free Online Book, Printed Book, etc.)
Notes on the Apocalypse or A Commentary on the Book of Revelation (1870) by David Steele (Free Online Book)
More Free MP3s and Books By and About David Steele (Covenanter)
(Did Luther and the Reformation Lutherans practice exclusive Psalmody? What about Luther's hymns? Where and when were they used? ANSWERS HERE.)
The Sabbath, 1845 by David Steele (Free Online Text)
A Concise History of the Reformed Presbyterian Church from the Middle of the Sixteenth Century and of the Reformed Presbytery from 1840 Till the Present Time by David (Digital Download, PDF)
RELATED FREE MP3s AND BLOGS ON THE BOOK ON REVELATION
RELATED BOOKS ON REVELATION
All the books listed below are on the Puritan Hard Drive.
Lectures Upon the Principal Prophecies of the Revelation (1814) by Alexander M'Leod
A Complete Commentary Upon the Book of Revelation (2 Volume Set, 1658, 1799 edition) by James Durham
Horae Apocalypticae; or, A Commentary on the Apocalypse, Critical and Historical; Including Also An Examination of the Chief Prophecies of Daniel (1862, 4 Volume Set) by E. B. Elliott
Christ's Second Coming: Will It Be Premillennial? (1882, 1990) by David Brown
The Rise of the Papacy with Proof from Daniel and Paul that the Pope is Antichrist by John Calvin
Hand-book of Prophecy, Containing a Brief Outline of the Prophecies of Daniel and John, Together with a Critical Essay on the Second Advent by James Stacy
The Papacy is the Antichrist (1888) Classic Reformation and Protestant Eschatology (Historicism) by James A. Wylie
The Fall of Babylon the Great, by the Agency of Christ, and Through the Instrumentality of His Witnesses: In Four Discourses (1821) by Archibald Mason
History of Redemption (Salvation), God's Work, Creation To Judgment Day, With Edward's Postmillennial Eschatology of Victory by Jonathan Edwards
The First Principles of Apocalyptical Interpretation (1848) by Robert Fleming
History Unveiling Prophecy or Time as an Interpreter (1905) by H. Grattan Guinness
The Restoration of the Jews (1861) by David Brown
Christ's Coming by William Bridge (Puritan Fast Sermon)
The Pope of Rome is Antichrist (1675, 1845 edition) by Henry Wilkinson
An Exposition of the (Book of) Revelation by Thomas Goodwin
The Seals Opened; Or, The Apocalypse Explained (1871) by Enoch Pond
A Dissertation on the Prophecies, That Have Been Fulfilled, Are Now Fulfilling, or Will Hereafter Be Fulfilled Relative to the Great Period of 1260 Years; The Papal and Mohammedan Apostacies... 2 Volume Set by George Faber
Observations Upon the Prophecies of Daniel (1831) by Isaac Newton
Islam in Revelation: An Historic Look at Protestant Eschatological Thought on the Rise and Fall of Islam by E. B. Elliott, Alexander M'Leod, David Steele et al.
The Apostasy of the Latter Times... by Joseph Mede
Notes, Explanatory and Practical, on the Book of Revelation (1872) by Albert Barnes
The Apocalypse: Its Structure and Primary Predictions (1891) by David Brown
The Apocalypse Translated And Expounded (1872) by James Glasgow
Dissertations on the Prophecies Which Have Remarkably Been Fulfilled, and at this Time are Fulfilling in the World (2 Volume Set, 1817) by Thomas Newton
Twelve Sermons on the Second Coming of Christ by Charles Spurgeon
BOOKS BY DAVID STEELE, THE REFORMED PRESBYTERY, AND RELATED TO THE COVENANTED REFORMATION
All the books listed below are on the Puritan Hard Drive.
The Two Witnesses: Their Cause, Number, Character, Furniture and Special Work (1859) by David Steele
A Testimony to the Covenanted Work of Reformation Between 1638-1649 in Britain and Ireland by Samuel Rutherford
Records of the Kirk of Scotland, Containing the Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies, From the Year 1638 Downwards, As Authenticated by the Clerks of Assembly; With Notes and Historical Illustrations, by Alexander Peterkin (1838 edition)
Reminiscences: Historical and Biographical of a Ministry in the Reformed Presbyterian Church, During 53 Years (1883) by David Steele
An Explanation and Defence of the Terms of Communion, Adopted by the Community of Dissenters, etc. by Reformed Presbytery
Lex, Rex, or the Law and the Prince by Samuel Rutherford
Auchensaugh Renovation of the National Covenant and Solemn League and Covenant by Reformed Presbytery
Reformation's Refining Fire; or, Iconoclastic Zeal Necessary to World Reformation, A (Puritan Fast) Sermon by George Gillespie, August 27, 1645
The Duty and Perpetual Obligation of Social Covenanting by Samuel Rutherford, et. al
Sermons in Times of Persecution in Scotland by Covenented Ministers of Scotland
The Scots Worthies by John Howie
A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields
A Short Vindication of our Covenanted Reformation (1879) by Reformed Presbytery
A (Puritan Fast) Sermon by George Gillespie, August 27, 1645
Notes On The Apocalypse; With An Appendix Containing Dissertations On Some Of The Apocalyptic Symbols, Together With Animadversions On The Interpretations Of Several Among The Most Learned And Approved Expositors Of Britain And America by David Steel
A Concise History of the Reformed Presbyterian Church from the Middle of the Sixteenth Century and of the Reformed Presbytery from 1840 Till the Present Time by David Steele
The U.S. Constitution, Taxation, Slavery, Antichrist, Church Discipline and the Covenanters (was "Circular No. 2," 1885) by David Steele
Defending the Reformed Presbyterian Position on the Civil Magistrate (1781) by John M'Millan Jr
Letter Addressed to T B of P, Exhibiting Some Steps of Defection in the Reformed Presbyterian Church (1840) by David Steele
Islam in Revelation: An Historic Look at Protestant Eschatological Thought on the Rise and Fall of Islam by E. B. Elliott, Alexander M'Leod, David Steele et al
Declaration and Testimony for the Present Truth (1864) by David Steele
A (Puritan Fast) Sermon by Alexander Henderson December 27, 1643
THE PSALMS OF DAVID IN METRE (Scottish Metrical Psalter of 1650) by the Westminster Assembly, Church of Scotland General Assembly & Francis Rouse, 1646-1650) With Devotional Notes On Each Psalm by John Brown Of Haddington
Continuous Singing In the Ordinary Public Worship of God, Considered in the Light of Scripture and the Subordinate Standards of the Reformed Presbyterian Church; In Answer to Some Letters of Inquiry Addressed to the Writer by David Steele
Apostasy in the RPCNA: David Steele Debates James M. Willson by David Steele
An Humble Attempt in Defence of Reformation Principles by John Fairley
Answering a Defector (was "Circular No. 1") by David Steele
Three Heroes of the Covenant: The Life and Times of William Guthrie, Donald Cargill and James Renwick, Last of the Martyrs (1902) by W. H. Carslaw
The Ten Commandments (Exposition of the Shorter Catechism Drawn Up By the Westminster Assembly) by Thomas Watson
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FORGOTTEN HERO: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF DAVID STEELE by Dr. Michael Wagner (Copyright, 1998)
Our age abounds with ministers who are afraid to take public stands that will make people feel uncomfortable.Yet our age is not entirely unique in this respect; throughout history it has usually been easier to compromise than stand for the truth.Nevertheless, God often raises up individuals who will stand for Him regardless of the costs. The martyrs of Jesus Christ are clearly individuals of this sort. Not all of these people -- who courageously stand for the truth -- end up as martyrs. Sometimes the historical circumstances are such that they live out their lives as irritants to the greater community, boldly proclaiming the Word of God.Rev. David Steele, who ministered in the United States during much of the nineteenth century, was one of these special people.Indeed, as the leading public exponent of the Covenanted Reformation in North America during that period, Steele is yet to receive the close attention he deserves.
He begins his autobiography, "Reminiscences Historical and Biographical of a Ministry in the Reformed Presbyterian Church During Fifty-Three Years," noting that people of his own time would not be interested in the cause he stood for.
It is not expected that the present publication will be popular with the present generation. The topics treated are not adapted to the tastes of many in this age, and to most persons the principles discussed will be as riddles (p. 3).
But he was confident that at some point in the future there would be people interested in his cause. As he puts it,
there is warrantable ground to expect that what is contained in the following pages will be helpful to some in following ages, who may be moved by the Spirit of God to inquire and search for the 'landmarks which the fathers have set' (pp. 3-4).
In particular, he referred to
that grand 'International document,' the Solemn League [and Covenant], ready to be placed in the foundation of the millennial temple (p. 4).
In other words, Rev. David Steele was a dyed-in-the-wool Covenanter; such was he born, and such he died.
The specific personal details of his life are perhaps less important than the cause he represented and consistently fought for throughout his life. It is of interest to know, however, that he was born in Northern Ireland and came to the United States as a young man in the 1820s. Although he was encouraged by an older brother to take out American citizenship, he refused, since doing so would require swearing an oath to the US Constitution, a document that fails to acknowledge Christ as King and perpetuated the institution of slavery.
The issue of slavery features prominently in the first part of the book, and Steele's response to that issue holds lessons for Christians of the late twentieth century. Slavery is closely analogous to one of the critical issues of our own day, abortion. In both cases, human beings are cruelly treated by other human beings, with the explicit support of the civil government. Before the American Civil War, many Covenanters were very dedicated to eradicating the ungodly practice of slavery. However, in their zeal, many of them joined organizations that included enemies of the gospel. Steele refused to be "unequally yoked" in this way, and was therefore falsely accused of being "pro-slavery." The point is, however, that in spite of his strong opposition to slavery, he held back from unbiblical associations, knowing that obedience to God's explicit commands was the best way to proceed in any situation. To men it may look like joining with our theological opponents if a principled political cause is the only way to stop an ongoing evil. But our ways are not God's ways, and Steele chose faithfulness over pragmatism. This is the same kind of situation we face regarding abortion today. Though we realize that it is an unspeakable evil, and even sympathize with the efforts of those who are diligently trying to stop it, yet we cannot join with those who are enemies of the gospel under any circumstances. Steele's response to the anti-slavery movement in the US thus provides us with a good example to follow with regard to the pro-life movement in our own time.
Much of the book describes conflicts within the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA), and Steele also compares the decline of that denomination with the decline of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Generally speaking, he notes that the "innovators" who desired to depart from the Covenanted attainments of the past received greater opposition among the Reformed Presbyterians in Scotland than in the US. But there was also an important similarity between the doctrinal decline in the two countries:
As in America, so in Scotland, the first authoritative document that excited hostility in secret was the Auchensaugh Renovation (p. 137).
The Auchensaugh Renovation was a renewal of the Covenants, National and Solemn League, in 1712 by the faithful Christians who refused to compromise with the Church that had been established after the "Glorious Revolution" of 1689 (i.e., the "Revolution Church"). The Revolution Church rejected the Covenants and the faithful contendings of the Covenanter martyrs who had died for the cause of Christ in Britain during much of the seventeenth century. Anyway, the Reformed Presbyterians in the US and Scotland who began to oppose the Auchensaugh Renovation as part of the doctrinal standards of the Covenanted Church were moving in the direction of the principles of the Revolution Church, i.e., opposition to the attainments of the Covenanted Reformation.
The Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland changed its terms of communion in 1822, its first constitutional move away from the Covenanted attainments. Although a number of people in the church opposed this move,
Mr. J. Reid alone had sufficient fortitude to act upon his convictions by formal separation, in 1822 (p. 160).
Readers may already have heard of Rev. James Reid, author of "Memoirs of the Westminster Divines," which is currently kept in print by the well-known publisher, Banner of Truth Trust. I think it is very unlikely that those who own Reid's book realize he was so strongly committed to the Covenanted Reformation.
Like the choice that faced Reid, David Steele would have to face a situation where his church retreated from the full attainments of the Covenanted Reformation. As the RPCNA fell away from a full Covenanted testimony, those who remained faithful, including Steele himself, worked hard to get the church back on track. Unfortunately, they were not successful. By 1840,
They had exhausted all the legitimate and recognized forms of ecclesiastical procedure, to arrest the downward career of the majority; and seven years of contending were surely sufficient to justify other legitimate measures (pp. 101-102).
Thus, in June of that year, Steele, along with one other minister, Robert Lusk, and three ruling elders, formed the Reformed Presbytery, independent of the RPCNA. The Reformed Presbytery was the only body to uphold the complete attainments of the Covenanted Reformation in North America from that time forward. Interestingly, however, towards the end of the book Steele makes the following comment:
Let it be distinctly understood that neither I, the Reformed Presbytery, no, nor our worthy and faithful ancestors, ever claimed personal perfection, or perfection for our Testimony (pp. 206-207).
The point of upholding the doctrinal attainments of the past is not to aspire to some sort of "perfection," but to aspire to faithfulness to God. While many Christians understand the sin of personal backsliding from the degree of sanctification they have experienced, they do not understand that it is also a sin for a church to backslide from its biblical doctrinal attainments. Those who remain faithful to God must contend for the Christ-honouring biblical attainments of the past (Phil. 3:16, 1 Tim. 4:6, Eccl. 3:15), and that is what David Steele did in his generation. Certainly contemporary Christians can learn from his example.
Throughout his life David Steele maintained a faithful testimony to the Covenanted Reformation. He was not willing to draw back from any aspect of the Westminster Standards, even the most controversial documents among the Standards (as adopted by the Church of Scotland), the National Covenant and the Solemn League and Covenant. Indeed, it was his adherence to the Covenants that led to his participation in the formation of the Reformed Presbytery. This did not mean that he viewed Covenanters as the only true Christians:
Yes, unto them which believe Christ is precious; and I never question that he is so to multitudes who never heard of the British Covenants (p. 262).
But for those who live in Britain and the countries that are offshoots of Britain (Canada, the US, etc.), the Covenants are binding, and Christians in these countries need to acknowledge and live up to their Covenanted obligations (see Greg Price's phenomenal series of 21 free MP3 sermons "A Defense of Covenanting & the Solemn League & Covenant" for much more on this point - ed.). This is the real message of Steele's life and ministry.
Although not mentioned in this book, Steele also wrote other materials. His book "Notes on the Apocalypse" is a short, but excellent, commentary on Revelation. Anyone wanting a brief look at Revelation from the perspective of historical Protestant eschatology (i.e., historicism), would do well to consult "Notes on the Apocalypse."
Steele also edited a couple of magazines (The Contending Witness and the The Reformation Advocate which became The Original Covenanter) much of which he wrote himself.
And he was the author of some shorter works among which are the "Declaration and Testimony for the Present Truth," "The Two Witnesses," and "Apostasy in the RPCNA."
The modern church will clearly benefit from these materials that are once again being made available by Still Waters Revival Books. Hopefully it won't be long before David Steele receives the attention he rightfully deserves.
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