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(Dan. ix. 25), describes the limit or closing term of the vision, when the sanctuary shall be cleansed. The numeral 2,300 will therefore stand alone, and require a word of time to be supplied. And in this case the laws of common usage forbid us to supply the word days with so high a number, and require us to interpret the unit as a year, and the whole period as 2,300 years.
3. But there are other reasons quite independent of this version, and which would retain their whole force, if it could be proved erroneous. And, first, the included events prove the wider range of the prophecy. These consist of two parts——the restored daily sacrifice, and a second desolation afterwards to follow. But the time of the restored sacrifiee alone, before the fresh desolation, included several centuries, and hence the whole period must be a term, not of days, but of years.
The probable reply to this argument would be, that the whole interval refers to the time of desolation only. But this is a departure from the direct and natural force of the expression. For, in the words of the Celestial Speaker, two distinct subjects are inquired into--the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation which treads down the sanctuary.
4. The connexion with the seventy weeks leads to the same conclusion. There is plainly a close correspondence between the two visions. The seventy weeks are said to be cut off for certain distinct objects; and this implies a longer period from which they are separated, either the course of time in general, or some period distinctly revealed. Now the previous date includes two events—the restoration of the sacrifice, and the desolation. The first of these is identical in character with the seventy weeks, which are a period of the restored polity of Jerusalem : and hence the most natural of the cutting off is that which refers it to the
whole period of the former vision. The seventy weeks are thus separated from the whole interval for the duration of the restored polity until the coming of Messiah, upon whose rejection the predicted desolation, the sea cond part of the main period, begins to be fulfilled. And since the seventy weeks are thus only a part of the numeral period 2,300, the unit of time in the latter must be a natural year.
It may be observed, in passing, as a presumptive confirmation of this view, that the excess of 1,810 years the difference of these periods), reckoned from the usual date of the Passion or the fall of Jerusalem, brings us to the time A.D. 1843-1880; and thus corresponds with those many signs which now intimate to the Church the approaching restoration of Israel.
5. The words of the angel, near the close of the chapter, lead to the same inference: “Shut thou up the vision, for it shall be for many days." These strictly answer to the former inquiry and its answer—" How long shall be the vision ? Unto two thousand three hundred days." The vision inquired into begins with the numeral period ; and the same vision is not after, but for or unto many days. Hence the many days are not before, but after the commencement of the numeral period. This cannot be, if the number denotes less than seven years; but is exactly fulfilled, if the space designed by it is twenty-three centuries.
6. There are two or three objections which have now to be removed. And, first, Mede himself, who applies the vision to Antiochus, has the following remarks : “ When the angel (he says) means days, in Daniel, he expresseth it therefore not by days, for so it were doubtful; but by evenings and mornings (viii. 14), when he speaks of the persecution of Antiochus."
On this Mr. Maitland observes, with truth, that if
such were the object, the end has not been answered, since almost every modern writer does understand the prophet to mean years. Yet even this mistake of Mede, when its cause is traced, yields perhaps an indirect confirmation of the year-day system.
The basis of that theory lies in assuming that the dates were not designed to be understood long before the time of the fulfilment, or so as to impede the lively expectation of Christ's kingdom. They were to be helps to a discernment of the times, when the Church had been long exercised by delay. Now the earliest date which could be assigned to the twelve hundred and sixty days would be the Nativity or Passion; and to the two thousand three hundred days, the time of Daniel. Hence their earliest close, interpreted as years, would be at the beginning of the thirteenth and eighteenth centuries. If, then, the numeral period two thousand three hundred had been expressed exactly in the same form with the others, it must either have delayed the understanding of them for five centuries, or have been itself prematurely revealed, and defeated the wise purpose for which the times had so long been kept hidden. Accordingly, we find that, from the end of the twelfth to that of the sixteenth century, the twelve hundred and sixty days were more and more widely understood as years, while the other period was still interpreted of days only. But when the lapse of time had removed from this date also the temporary cause of concealment, it began to be expounded consistently with the rest, and all the prophetic dates were compacted into one common system, on one simple and harmonious basis of interpretation.
7. The argument for the shorter estimate of this period is stated with all the force, perhaps, of which it
is capable, by Mr. Maitland, in the " Second Enquiry," p. 63:
“Let the matter be as contrary as it may to the usages of chronical calculation,' surely the case is not mended by supposing the days to be years. If it would be strange to find three years and a half spoken of as twelve hundred and sixty days, surely it would be stranger still, and more contrary to all known'usages of chronical calculation,' to speak of twelve hundred and sixty years as twelve hundred and sixty days, or forty-two months, or three tîmes and a half. How long a step the reviewer may wish to take I really know not; but it must carry him to some point not ob, vious to most readers, if it leads' to the substitution which he maintains. We may generally either make or find a mystery in plain words, if we desire it; but really it does not seem so very wonderful that a period of such importance should be stated in various terms of years, months, and days; and when I find such
masses of time' as one hundred and fifty days, and one hundred and eighty days, I do not feel incredulous that days may be days, though the number be twelve hundred and sixty."
This reasoning has two parts. It is implied that the mode of expression is in harmony with the usage of Scripture; and that if it were otherwise, the case is only made worse by the year-day exposition,
But, in reality, the two passages to which Mr. Maitland refers are the only texts in all Scripture where a period of more than two months is expressed simply in days. Not one instance can be found of a space longer than a year so expressed, except the passages in debate. The form of expression is, therefore, in every one of these texts (Dan vii. 25, viii. 14, xii. 7, 11, 12; Rev. xi. 2, 3, xii. 6, 14, xiii, 5), quite unique and peculiar. Except the five months of the first woe, not one of the
passages involving these dates is expressed in the most usual and literal manner.
But the year-day, it is argued, only increases the difficulty. The departure from the common forms of language then becomes wider than it was before. The remark is delusive, and only obscures the real question. The strangeress of the expression being once proved, our choice lies between a mystery which means nothing, and a mystery which has a plain and definite cause in God's providence, and a key not less plain and definite, and three times repeated, in God's holy word. Who would hesitate which alternative to choose? In one case, the departure from the usual form has a sufficient explanation, a great and important object; on the other view, it has no explanation whatever which can satisfy any thoughtful mind.
8. The opinions of Josephus and Aben Ezra have also been adduced to confirm the shorter reckoning. The argument, however, is worthless. The same reasons would operate on Jewish as on Christian writers, to hinder the early apprehension of the true interval. Yet that the Jews were early impressed with the existence of some hidden meaning in these dates, is clear from Justin in the second century. They expounded the time, times, and half, as if the unit were a hundred years. Mr. Cuninghame has also shown, from Abarbanel, that the general consent of Jewish interpreters of a more modern date is entirely opposed to the opinion of Aben Ezra. So far as the argument has any weight, it leans, therefore, to the side of the longer computation.
On the whole, even if we retain the usual version, there is a concurrence of strong reasons which fix the true meaning of the period to be, not six years, but twenty-three centuries ; while if the proposed translation be just and sound, as resting on a constant law of Hebrew idiom, then the question would be decided at once, and the time cannot be days, but must be years only.
VIII. THE OATH OF THE ANGEL, in the last vision of Daniel, and all the attendant circumstances, are in