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to us. The mystical exposition of the 1,260 days as years was first published about A.D. 1,200. For more than three centuries, till the Reformation, it was held by comparatively few, and in a vague manner. But from the time of Osiander (1544), and the Centuriators, it has been generally received and retained in the Protestant Churches, though with frequent anticipations of its date, from Brightman down to the present day. The facts minutely correspond to the hypothesis. Nothing, therefore, can be more absurd than to allege these same facts as a proof that the hypothesis is false. If it be false, it must be proved such on other grounds of internal evidence, drawn from the prophecy alone.
3. I have thus shown that, with regard to the period of 1,260 years, the comparatively modern rise of the interpretation is no presumption against its truth ; and indeed, when its peculiar circumstances are closely examined, is an argument in its favour. The objection, however, may be stated in a more general form. It may be urged that, apart from this specific case, the principle, itself of expounding days as years, or of giving a mystical sense to the periods of time in the Apocalypse, is unnatural and groundless ; that it is novel, without an excuse for its novelty, and condemned by the silence of all antiquity. So Mr. Tyso writes :-"I object to the day-year theory, because it does not appear that any man ever interpreted days as meaning years during the first fifteen centuries of the Christian era. All the early fathers understood the times literally."
Now, to pass by the gross mistake about fifteen centuries, which Mr. Tyso himself has blazoned with italics to make it more conspicuous, I reply to the general statement itself, that it is groundless and untrue. The two principles, of a mystical meaning in the prophetic times, and of interpreting a day by a year, were both separately recognized at or before the rise of Popery in the sixth century. Thus Primasius observes (La Bigne Biblioth., tom. i., col. 1411, 1417) on the forty-two months- Numerus mensium non novissimam tantum persecutionem significat, sed etiam Christianitatis tempus omne designat.” And again, on xii. 5, he observes-"By that number of days, which make three years and six months, he denotes in this place also all the times of Christianity ever since the preaching of Christ began."
The principle, then, of a mystical sense is clearly recognized. But so, too, is the principle of expounding a day by a year. For thus Primasius expounds the passage, Rev. xi. 9, 11: “By the three days and a half we may understand three years and six months, of which the prophecy of Daniel also announces that they will arrive in the last week." So that, in fact, the two principles of the Protestant interpretation most decried as novel have been separately derived from Scripture as early as the beginning of the sixth century, and were applied to the 1,260 days, as soon as that was possible, without doing violence to the great hope of the Church.
4. The Protestant interpretation of the times is no novelty, therefore, in the maxims on which it rests, but only in their application. I observe, fourthly, that within these limits its novelty is an argument in its favour: for on this point, at least, we have the direct warrant of Scripture for preferring the views of later times to those of the early Church. The words which contain these mysterious times are said to be “closed and sealed till the time of the end."
The greater part of Dr. Todd's first lecture, and the whole of the first appendix, amounting to nearly a hundred pages, are employed in the attempt to refute this argument, which yields so strong a presumption in favour of the Protestant interpretations. It will require, however,
a very short analysis to prove that this attempt is a total failure, and that the historical research of that appendix, so far as it bears on the main question, is entirely thrown away.
(1). In the first place, the lectụrer's remarks are aimed chiefly against a peculiar hypothesis of Joseph Mede. That distinguished writer supposed that the periods of 1,290 and 1,335 days were to be dated from the profanation of the temple by Antiochus, and that their close was to be marked by the unsealing of the prophecy. Now, apart from history, there are several internal objections to this view; and, in fact, scarcely any expositor since Mede has adopted it; and it is not maintained, so far as I am aware, by a single living commentator. The general argument from the passage, Dan. xii. 9, is quite independent of this theory, and rests on its own basis. The main part, therefore, of Dr. Todd's remarks, are entirely foreign to the real question; and exhibit either a complete ignorance of the actual state of the controversy, or else a willingness, by this refutation of an extinct theory, to conceal the dangerous strength of the adverse argument.
(2). The lecturer argues, next, that it is rather the period when the events are to take place, than the events themselves, which is declared to be sealed. This may be true, if referred to the length of the period; but is not true, if applied to its date, or the time of its commence
For the “words” which are sealed, as contained in the oath of the angel, do include the period itself, and do not include either the date, or the event by which that date is to be assigned. The assertion of Dr. Todd, in the only sense which the text allows us to receive, is fatal to his own argument, and to the short reckoning. The reason is evident. The “ time, times, and a half," and not the season of their commencement, are the
words which are declared to be sealed. Their true significance, we may hence infer, was not to be understood for a long interval, and cannot, therefore, be simply three natural years and six months, as the lecturer maintains.
(3). Not satisfied with this solution, Dr. Todd has recourse to another. This is, indeed, the general feature of the lectures, to propose to the reader two or three doubtful alternatives : as if it were of no consequence what view we take of the Scripture prophecies, so that we are only firm in our disbelief of the received interpretations. He now adopts the Vulgate translation of the eighth verse—“O my Lord, what shall be after these things ?" And hence he infers that the ninth verse has the following sense : “ That the events foretold were to be accomplished at a period beyond which no prophecy extended, and until which no futher knowledge of futurity should be given to man” (p. 24). This he supposes to be confirmed by Dan. ix. 24, in the use of the phrase, “ to seal up the vision and the prophecy."
The altered version, however, if we consult Dan. viii. 23, must appear very questionable, even on the score of grammatical correctness. Taken in connexion with the context, it is plainly absurd. Why should the prophet ask for events after the vision, when he did not yet understand the vision itself? Or how could he ask for events more remote than what is “everlasting?" Nay, granting the version were true, Dr. Todd's
paraphrase would be quite intolerable. He expounds it to mean three things. First, that “no further revelations were to be made to Daniel.” Now the words imply, doubtless, that no full explanation was to be given him of the statement which he sought to have explained. But there is nothing in this to shut out the possibility of further revelations. The same phrase occurs in Dan.
viii. 26, and therefore would prove, according to Dr. Todd, that Daniel received no revelation after the vision of the ram and the goat. Secondly, “ that the events foretold were to be fulfilled at a period beyond which no prophecy extends." In other words, that even the three kings of Persia (xi. 2) are not to arise till the heaven and earth shall have passed away, and the last judgment has been completed! Thirdly, that “ until. then, no further knowledge of futurity should be given to mankind." Therefore, since, according to Dr. Todd, the time of the end is still future, our Lord himself, when on earth, prophesied nothing, and the book of Revelation reveals nothing !
Such is the strange incongruous patchwork of meanings which Dr. Todd would substitute for the clear sense of the passage. Aboute ighty pages are occupied in refuting what no one maintains, and the rest are spent in maintaining a bad version, and a worse paraphrase, which no one who has the least soundness of judgment can possibly receive.
The argument, then, from Dan. xii. 9, remains unimpaired. “ The time, times, and a half,” were not to be understood in their true meaning till the time of the end. They were generally supposed, in early times, to denote three natural years and six months. Since the Reformation they have been commonly understood, by learned and judicious Protestants, to denote twelve hundred and sixty years. In this contrast of opinion, the passage before us removes all the a priori presumption of truth from the former opinion, and transfers it to the interpretation of later times.
5. The laboured charge of heresy, which Dr. Todd has brought against the originators of the Protestant expositions, has been examined by Mr. Faber, with his usual ability and clearness, in the “ Provincial Letters."