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turns the presumptive evidence into a moral demonstration.
IV. Another argument may be drawn from the words of Christ himself, as given in St. Luke's Gospel.
Luke xiii. 31-33. “ The same day there cane certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence, for Herod is seeking to kill thee. And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, behold I cast out devils, and I do cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless, I must walk to-day and to morrow, and the day following ; for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.”
These words must be explained either in a definite or an indefinitesense. Taken indefinitely, they teach us that our Lord was to continue His works of mercy for a little season longer, in spite of all the malice of Herod; and that none could take away His life till He himself resigned it in the appointed scene of His death, at Jerusalem.
But this does not appear to be the whole meaning. There is a precision in the phrase which in this view alone would be unexplained. Three days are twice mentioned distinctly-to-day, to-morrow, and the third day; to-day, to-morrow, and the day following. The words thus repeated clearly leave the impression of a defipite interval of time.
Now the incident occurred in the last journey of our Lord, but several weeks before His sufferings and resurrection. They cannot, therefore, admit a definite sense with a literal interpretation. On the other hand, our Lord's ministry, commencing with a passover, closed at the passover, after an exact interval of three years. The words of this passage would therefore exactly describe the contiuuance of that ministry: the three days importing the three years. The completion of the third was to be marked by the death of our Saviour at
Jerusalem, and His resurrection the time when He was perfected. And there was thus also a close connexion between the predicted time and the events; for the third year would be closed by the passover, which could be celebrated only at Jerusalem, and was the appointed season of our Lord's death, without which the types could not have been fulfilled.
These four examples, of which the three first are demonstrable, and the last has at least a high probability, form a scriptural basis for the year-day theory. Once in Numbers, and twice in Ezekiel, a day is expressly taken to represent a year. The principle is continued in the seventy weeks, where a term, always taken elsewhere in Scripture for weeks of days, is demonstrably used for periods of seven years. The analogy is continued in the last passage, where three days are twice mentioned in detail, as defining the whole extent of our Lord's ministry. Let us now consider the internal evidence to be drawn from the prophetic dates themselves.
V. THE TIME, TIMES, AND DIVIDING OF A TIME, are the first of the periods to be considered, and one which contains many distinct proofs to refute the shorter reckoning, and confirm the year-day exposition.
1. And, first, its peculiar form must be noticed. If the short reckoning were true, no reason can be given why the times should not be expressed in the most customary form. On the other hand, the year-day theory requires that a shorter term should be merely suggested to the mind in the representation of a longer period, and suggested in such a way as to hinder us from resting in the typical phrase as the true meaning.
Now such exactly is the term before us. It doubtless suggests to the mind, by comparison with other texts, three years and a half. But it is not the usual or literal expression for that period. Twice alone does that interval occur elsewhere (Luke iv. 25; James v. 17), and
in both it is expressed by its natural phrase, three years and six months. The same is true in every similar case. St. Paul abode at Corinth one year and six months (Acts xviii. 11). David reigned in Hebron seven years and six months (2 Sam. ji. 11). He was with the Philistines a year and four months (1 Sam. xxvii. 7). The form in which the periods of time are expressed is thus invariably the same. And hence, though three years and a half are suggested to the mind by this phrase, there is nothing in the words which fixes it to this sense. This has not, in truth, any more claim to be the literal meaning than one thousand two hundred and sixty years.
2. But, secondly, the fundamental term, a time, implies, rather than excludes, the wider sense. The natural series of words of time consists of a day, a week, a month, and a year. The three first are retained in the prophetic calendar; but the last of them is replaced by this general expression--a time, which takes the lead of all the others. It occurs in the first of these dates, and in two, or rather three others, on which the rest chiefly depend. Now this substitution could not be without meaning. It leaves the analogy among the different periods unbroken ; but at the same time it sets loose this fundamental period, so as to be at liberty, even by the common rules of language, to receive a larger signification.
This argument becomes much stronger, when we consider the actual use of this same term in other
passages. It is of frequent recurrence in the Old Testament, and is employed to denote periods of various lengths, and even extending to many years. It meets us first in the narrative of the creation : " Let them be for signs and for seasons”-where it is distinguished alike from days and years. It is frequently used to denote the appointed time of all the feasts of the law (Lev. xxiii. 2, 4, 37,44;
Num. ix. 2, 3, 7, 13; X. 10, xv. 3). It is employed with regard to the fall of Pharaoh Hophra, and the restoration of Israel. “ Pharaoh hath passed the time appointed” (Jer. xlvi. 17). “ The time to favour Zion, the set time, is come” (Psalm cii. 13). “The vision (of the coming of Christ) is yet for an appointed time" (Hab. ii.3). In these, and several other passages, an extensive interval is clearly implied; and the fundamental idea is one which has no respect to the length or shortness of the period, but simply to its fixed and determinate character. It is plain how: completely these two marks, that it is at once indefinite and determinate, make it a suitable term to form the basis of a prophetic chronology on the year-day system.
3. The different terms used to denote the same period are a further proof that it cannot denote three natural years and a half. The same interval occurs seven times
Twice it is mentioned as a time, times, and a dividing of a time ; once as a time, times, and a half; twice as forty-two months; and twice as twelve hundred and sixty days. A comparison of these passages wil} show that they all relate to the same period. Yet the expression is varied in this remarkable manner; and in all these variations is never once expressed by the natural and literal phrase. How can we explain this remarkable feature, but by supposing it to indicate a mysterious and hidden sense ? The Holy Spirit seems, in a manner, to exhaust all the phrases by which the interval could be expressed, excluding always that one form, which would be used of course in ordinary writing, and is used invariably in Scripture on other occasions, to denote the literal period. This variation is most significant, if we accept the year-day system, but quite inexplicable on the other view.
But there is one further circumstance which deserves
notice in this variation, and which confirms the existence of a mystical and hidden sense. In the Revelation, the times and the days are used in connexion with the Church and the witnesses; but the months in connexion with the Gentiles and the wild beast. This distinction of the periods, measured by the sun and the moon, just corresponds with the frequent metaphors of Scripture, in which Christians are described as children of the light and of the day; and unbelievers as children of night and darkness. If the expression denoted literal days, this mystical reference would be heterogeneous : but if they are symbolical, days for years, then this moral significance is in harmony with their general character of sacred emblems.
5. The ambiguity of the phrase, even in its numeral value, tends to the same conclusion. It is plain, that a time, times, and the dividing of a time, in point of grammar alone, might denote four times and one half, or five times and one half, or four times and one third, It is only by comparison with the other forms of the same period in the book of Revelation, that even the numerical meaning can be certainly ascertained.
In other words, it was impossible to know certainly that the time, times, and half, denoted 1,260 days, either natural or prophetical, until the prophecy of the seventy weeks had been both. given and fulfilled, in which weeks of days represent weeks of years. So that, in fact, the direct key to the symbolical meaning was provided before even the number of the contained units in the period had been distinctly revealed.
VI. THE DREAM OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR throws a further light on the same truth. The prophet tells us that the monarch “ was driven out from among men, and seven times passed over him;" till at length his understanding returned to him, and he became a worshipper of the true God.