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goat--the Medo-Persian empire. The variety is not in
In truth, this whole objection, besides the contradic-
V. THE EXAGGERATION OF PASSING EVENTS is a fifth objection on which Dr. Todd especially insists. See Lect. II., pp. 46, 49; IV., p. 182. The following are his words:
6. There is, in truth, an evident tendency, in the great majority of those who have explained these prophecies, to apply them to their own times, or at least to interpret them of events, which, by their relation with other events contemporary with the expo
sitor, assume, from their proximity alone, an importance disproportioned to their real influence on the destinies of mankind, or their actual place in the counsels of the Almighty......... We are, perhaps, in no case judges of the relative importance, even of past events, in the designs of Providence; nor can we tell how far it is necessary to the ends for which prophecy is given, that any one particular event, whatever its magnitude, should be foretold. We cannot, therefore, reason as some have done........ that a given prediction must be interpreted so as to square with the event which we have beforehand fixed on for its accomplishment. We cannot, without presumption, take upon us to determine whether prophecy is to predict the destinies of man in chronological order, without gap or omission; or whether it may not suit the inscrutable designs of the Most High to pass over without notice ten or twenty centuries, and to crowd into the events of a few short years the fulfilment of all that is foretold. To determine questions such as these, is to assume that we have bleen admitted into the secret counsels of God, and that we are acquainted with all the ends he had in view in the revelation of futurity to man." (pp. 46, 47).
So on Dan. xi., Lect. IV., p. 182 :
· Again, I conceive that great violence is done to the latter part of the chapter by the various theories which suppose it a chronological prediction of the Roman power. These interpretations all have their origin, more or less, in the prejudice which gives to the events, of which we have been eye-witnesses, a fictitious importance, and leads us to expect they must have been foretold; and hence the only question with which commentators concern themselves is, how best to discover in the prophecy events which they have previously determined shall be found there.
Seldom has any writer made so large a demand on the unquestioning credulity of his readers as the lecturer has done in these and similar statements.
For what is the real question ? Dr. Todd maintains, that the whole of Daniel and the Revelation is future, and to be fulfilled in the course of a single generation before the second advent. This he openly affirms with
regard to the longest vision (Dan. xi., Lect. IV., pp. 184-186), and the views which he maintains make it a necessary inference in the case of all the others. Again he affirms, " that it is natural, nay, more, our express duty, to assume that the coming of the Lord is near at hand." Either, then, he is habitually sinning against his own conscience, or else he must be expecting the fulfilment of all these prophecies within a single generation from the present time. The Protestant view, on the contrary, supposes them to spread, in nearly equal proportion, from the times of the prophet down to the still future advent. Yet the lecturer ventures to affirm that this latter view "arises from the natural prejudice of magnifying the events of our own days.” His own scheme, on the other hand, remedies this grand mistake of the Protestant interpreters, by grouping all the prophecies within the possible reach of his own life ! Surely a bolder inversion of facts than this never occurred before, even in the annals of religious constroversy.
It is true that the tendency which Dr. Todd blames has existed, and may be traced, by a careful eye, in every age of the Church. But then it has worked in a way the exact opposite of what he affirms. Its effect has been, that expositors have referred too large a portion of the prophecies to the then present or next coning generation. In this form it may be seen in the first disciples (Luke xix. 11, Acts i. 6)—in Sulpitius Severus (Elzev. p. 96)---in Jerome and Theodoret-in Joachim, Brightman, and others, down to the present day. In all these cases, however, the distorting effect was partial.. in Dr. Todd's own scheme it is total and entire; unless it be mitigated in practice by that scepticism which he denounces as a sin, and which puts off to a distant period the expectation of the Lord's coming.
With regard to the other charges of wilfully perverting Scripture, which Dr. Todd brings against nearly all previous interpreters, a far stronger prima facie presumption lies against himself. The practical reasoning of the Donnellan Lectures, so far as I can trace it, is of the following nature. First, the Church of Rome must, at all hazards, be cleared from prophetic censure. Therefore it is too perilous to admit the fourth kingdom to be the Roman empire; for that would bring the latter part of the visions into dangerous proximity to the Roman Church. Therefore the consent of nearly all ancient and modern interpreters must be cast aside, and Mr. Maitland's slight pamphlet of twenty pages is to be made the text-book of interpretation. Some decent excuse, however, must be found for deserting the common conviction of all ages of the Church. Therefore, since boldness is profitable in controversy no less than in war, the expositors who apply to events two thousand years ago the same prophecies which Dr. Todd applies to his own or the next generation, must be charged with magnifying the events of their own days," and for this end perverting, rather than interpreting, the word of God!" Such a view of the Lectures can plead many strong presumptions in favour of its truth; while the charge which Dr. Todd has brought against the Protestant system is contradicted by the plain facts of the case, and utterly groundless.
VI. A sixth objection urged against the received interpretations is TIIEIR UNSUITABLENESS FOR THE
This occurs so often that it would be tedious to quote the passages. See the Attempt, &c., p. 20; First Enq., pp. 83-85; Second Enq., pp. 89, 90; Reply to Strict., p. 8; Burgh's Lect. Adv., p. 22; Lect. Apoc., p. 44; Eluc., p. 76; Latter Days, p. 14.
CONVICTION OF INFIDELS.
short answer will here be enough. There is no doubt that many prophecies were designed for the conviction of unbelievers by their fulfilment. But in those of Daniel and St. John we have no scriptural warrant for such an expectation; at least, not till the close of their accomplishment—that eventide of the day of grace, in which there will be light. In that day, it is true, even those who were spiritually deaf shall hear the words of the book. But until the last act of that great drama of Providence, we are warned concerning these prophecies, that “none of the wicked shall understand.” But indeed, so far as relates to the earlier parts of the visions, the alleged fact cannot be proved. It is plain that Porphyry, in the third century, and Gibbon, in the eighteenth, were driven by the evidence of history to the desperate subterfuge of post-dating the prophecy, or else compelled to admit its inspiration ; and this, too, in the very parts which Mr. Burgh' and Dr. Todd would persuade us are unfulfilled. With regard to the rest of the visions, the warning holds true. To make the conviction of unbelievers a test of their fulfilment, is to contradict the plain testimony of the Spirit of God.
This truth is still clearer in the case of the Apocalypse. Its opening verse teaches us its true purpose" to show unto God's servants the things which must shortly.come to pass.". We might hence infer, that the predictions would be given in such a form that only God's servants would understand them. And this would be confirmed by the words of our Saviour: “ Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God; but to them that are without they are in parables." No part of God's word has so much claim as the Apocalypse to be viewed as “the mysteries of the kingdom;" none has more of the character of a series of divine