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nearly every main fact, we have two or three consenting witnesses.
But, again, each commentator has “a peculiar interpretation." This statement is nearly as groundless as the last. The differences are few and slight where they exist, and on two-thirds of the particulars traced above I find no discordance whatever.
But “the bishop confesses, with amusing simplicity, that the prophecy has been used to give a colour to the history." The bishop does nothing of the kind. His next words show the real meaning of the statement which is thus perverted. 6 We have been particularly obliged (he says) to Porphyry and Jerome, who enjoyed the advantage of having those histories entire, which have since been in whole or in part destroyed. They had not only Polybius, Diodorus, Livy, Trojus Pompeius, and Justin, parts of whose works are now remaining; but likewise Sutorius Callinicus, Hieronymus, Posidonius, Theon, and Andronicus Alypius, historians who wrote of those times, and whose works have entirely perished.”
In fact, the range of the prophecy, down to the thirtieth verse, occupies the interval from B.C. 534 to B.C. 160. The range of each classic historian, so far as he illustrates this subject, is as follows:-Herodotus, B.C. 534-477; Diodorus, B.C. 534-302 ; Polybius, B.C. 387-220; and Livy, B.C. 200-168. The work of Justin is a mere summary, and Josephus confines himself mainly to the affairs of the Jews.
The reason, then, why various authors are consulted is now plain. It is not to choose out the most. convenient among conflicting statements, but simply to com plete the broken thread of history, and thus fill up the comprehensive outline of the prediction. The insinuation against the bishop is as superficial as it is ungene
rous. The simplicity of faith, when it restson such firm evidence as here, can be amusing only to those who have been unhappily infected with the spirit of the
8. The interpretation of kings as kingdoms is used for another argument:--- In the first place, commentators assume the privilege of supposing kings in the prophecies to mean kingdoms or dynasties; yet they are less consistent here than elsewhere in the adoption of this principle. For the kings of Persia, in the first part of the prophecy, are generally understood to mean literal kings, and Cambyses, Smerdis, Darius, and Xerxes are named as the individuals foretold; but in the remainder of the chapter the word is supposed to signify, sometimes an individual, sometimes a long succession of kings, and even an infidel democracy" (p. 177).
This paragraph is one tissue of errors, which need to be disentangled one by one.
(1). First, I have shown already that the use of kings, in the symbolical prophecies, for ruling dynasties, rests on a solid reason in the nature of the subject; and is confirmed by the usage of Scripture in every instance which can be tested by proof. It is Dr. Todd himself who “ takes the serious liberty” with the sacred text, of misquoting the words in one place (p. 127), and throwing doubts on the unquestioned reading in another (p. 124), in order to evade the strength of their evidence.
(2). Secondly, commentators do not interpret verse 2 on a different principle from all the rest of the prophecy. Their personal exposition of the word kings extends uniformly through thirty verses of the chapter. Perhaps the eighteenth verse may seem an exception, as the prince is commonly expounded of the Roman power. But the term there is entirely distinct, and leaves the main question unaffected. The inconsistency, then, if it be such, instead of including every verse but the first, is confined to the ten last verses, and even there to some commentators only.
(3). Thirdly, the writers who elsewhere expound kings to be ruling dynasties, are not inconsistent, when they explain them in this prophecy of individual monarchs, for two reasons. First, the principle is drawn from induction and supported by reason, in the symbolical prophecies alone. Two or three examples of it do occur indeed elsewhere, but they are not general. But in this chapter no symbols occur, Next, the official sense of the term passes, of course, into the personal, where events distinctively personal are interposed; as birth (v. 7), death (v. 18), or accession to a vacant throne (v. 20, 21).
(4). Again, if the commentators were all of them inconsistent in their exposition of the ten last verses, this would be an absurd objection against the fulfilment of the former part, which they all expound on the very principle which Dr. Todd maintains to be universal.
(5). Finally, the charge is groundless, even when confined to the ten closing verses, for several reasons. The official sense of the word king does occur, though more rarely, in prophecies not symbolical. In those verses, also, no acts distinctively personal are interposed. And lastly, it is natural that, in the remoter parts of the narrative, just as in a landscape, the distinction of individual lives should be merged and lost in the general scope of the prophecy.
9. “Commentators consider themselves at liberty also to assume, that by the king of the north is not meant any particular individual, but any one or more of the kings of Syria; and by the king of the south any one or more of the kings of Egypt. This has been forced upon them by the necessity they have created for themselves of discovering, in the history of Alexander's successors, the
fulfilment of this prophecy: and the convenience of such a principle must be obvious; for by means of it
any the kings of Egypt, from Ptolemy to Cleopatra; or of Syria, from Seleucus to Pompey, who can be found to have performed actions at all resembling any part of the prediction, may be set down as having so far accomplished it. But I cannot persuade myself to believe so great a license warranted by the words of Scripture; on the contrary, I think it must be evident to every unbiassed reader, that the same individual king of the north and of the south are spoken of throughout the prophecy."
A writer who can gravely propound such a statement, in the teeth of the plainest evidence, and of the judgment of every other divine, is almost beyond the pale of serious reasoning. The grossest absurdities, however, when gravely asserted, are often mischievous to a class of thoughtless readers. It may, therefore, be useful to analyze this indescribable passage.
« Commentators, then (Dr. Todd observes), think themselves at liberty to assume, that by the king of the north is not meant any particular individual, but any one or more of the kings of Syria; and so of the kings of Egypt." Most readers also have thought themselves at liberty to assume that the king of Egypt who exalted Joseph, the king of Egypt who drowned the Israelites' children, and the king of Egypt who was himself drowned in the Red Sea, were not the same "particnlar individual." The novel argument of the Lecture will prove this last opinion an error no less than the first; for the marks of succession in the prophecy are as clear as in the history. - This has been forced upon them by the necessity they have created for themselves,” &c. True, just as Christians have created for themselves the necessity" of finding in the Gospels the
fulfilment of the prophecies concerning Messiah's sufferings. Incredulity has its privileges, whether its object be the predictions of Daniel, or those of David and Isaiah. Yet few Christians, it is to be hoped, will shrink from receiving one truth of God's word because it involves the happy necessity of believing many others. But “the principle is convenient ; for thus any king, who has done anything at all resembling any part of the prophecy, may be viewed as so far fulfilling it.” The misrepresentation in these words is really monstrous. Not one inversion of the historical order is needed or practised by any commentator. The correspondence, therefore, of the facts with the prediction, is rendered far more convincing, from its including the actions of many kings in succession. In the seventh, ninth, and tenth verses, for instance, how remarkably exact are the descriptions of the prophecy, when compared with the events ! Only in two places is there any interval of moment, and in both of these it is either expressed or implied, in the words of the prophecy alone.
But, again, “it must be evident to the unbiassed reader, that the same kings are spoken of throughout the chapter.” The kindest construction which can be put on this statement is to suppose that the Lecturer has never read the chapter through, which he professes to expound. How else could he state what is not merely so plainly untrue, but so utterly absurd ? The angel distinctly mentions two kings of the south, and implies at least one other. He not less distinctly exhibits to us four kings of the north. Even Mr. Burgh, who comes nearest to Dr. Todd in venturousness, and reckons all future from the fifth verse, has too much common sense remaining, not to recognize a succession of kings. The twenty-first verse, he says, “introduces the last king of the north.” One thing only must be