« PreviousContinue »
hence arise mixed calendars; more natural, since they are fitted to the motions of both the natural lights of heaven, but more complex in their adjustment.
The most natural mode of adjustment is by taking the nearest integer of the lower period contained in the higher, and making this the unit for the next higher denomination, intercalating where necessary.
Thus the natural month is nearer thirty than twentynine days. Therefore thirty days will be the calendar month, and the unit of every reckoning where months
Again, the year is nearer twelve than thirteen calendar inonths. Therefore twelve calendar months will form the calendar year, and five days are intercalated to complete the whole number.
2. Now just as the day and the month were taken for the basis of these shorter periods, so may the month and year be taken as the basis of higher intervals. These give us cycles, or periods of complete years, which are almost exactly a complete number of natural months.
The intervals of years which most fully possess this character, adopting the most exact scientific measures of the lunar month and solar year, are 11, 19, 30, 49.... 315, 334, 353, 687, 1,040 years. After this limit the increasing accuracy of the series is limited by the moon's acceleration, and the uncertainty of our measures of time.
Now from this series there result several interesting conclusions which bear on the present question.
The period of nineteen years, though not directly recognized in the Jewish calendar, formed the basis of that used by the Greeks, and was not less an integral element of it than the month or the year. Now the very next period to this, in the above series, is thirty years; which, on the year-day theory, is the prophetie month, and has thus a real existence as a cycle, no less
than the natural month of thirty days, to which it bears a close analogy.
The next period is that of forty-nine years; which, according to the dates in Josephus of sabbatic years, and the more probable view of the sacred text, is the interval from jubilee to jubilee; and therefore is fundamental in the Hebrew calendar. This will be a second scriptural instance, like the prophetic month, of a luni-solar cycle adopted for a higher unit, composed of a complete number of years.
Let us now pursue the analogy a step further. As twelve common months of thirty days, form a year of three hundred and sixty days, which, with five days intercalated, make the solar year ; so twelve prophetic months of thirty years will form a time of three hundred and sixty years, exceeding by seven only the very exact luni-solar cycle of three hundred and fifty-three years ; which forms a kind of natural unit in the series.
Again, a time, times, and a half will compose a period of one thousand two hundred and sixty years. And this is exactly four times the accurate cycle three hundred and
fifteen years, and, therefore, partakes itself of the same cyclical character.
The most perfect cycle, perhaps, which can be certainly ascertained, in consequence of the moon's acceleration affecting the higher periods, is one thousand and forty years.
Now, on the year-day theory, this is exactly the difference between the two grand numeral periods of one thousand two hundred and sixty and two thousand three hundred years.
Finally, the highest prophetic period, two thousand three hundred years, is itself a cycle=1040+4+315, and is, perhaps, the only secular cycle, composed of centuries only, that is known to exist.
From these remarks it appears that the prophetic month of thirty years, and the time composed of twelve such months, have a scientific character, though less distinct, get of the very same nature with those of the common month and year. It appears also that the two main periods of one thousand two hundred and sixty and two thousand three hundred years are cycles, and that their difference, one thousand and forty years, is the most perfect cycle certainly ascertained. The interval of one thousand two hundred and ninety years is also a cycle, and that of one thousand three hundred and thirty five is defective only by one single year.
These remarks seem to prove that the year-day interpretation, besides its direct scriptural evidence, has a further and collateral support in the analogies of science. The same principles of the intersection of the solar and lunar periods, by which the units of the ordinary calendar are determined, when carried further up the ascending series of time, produce, even from the abstract relations of the celestial periods, the larger but corresponding units of thirty and three hundred and sixty years, or the prophetic month and time.
And surely, in the view which is thus unfolded, there is a simple grandeur which harmonizes with all the other features of these inspired predictions. A fresh light is thrown upon the words of the Psalmist, where the same word is employed as in these mysterious dates—" He appointed the moon for seasons." We are raised out of the contracted range of human reckonings to a lofty elevation of thought, and catch some glimpses of that mysterious wisdom by which the Almighty blends all the works of nature and of providence into subservience to the deep counsels of His redeeming love. A divine ladder of time is set before us, and, as we rise successively from step to step, days are replaced by years, and years by millennia; and these, perhaps, hereafter,
in their turn, by some higher unit, from which the soul of man may measure out cycles still more vast, and obtain a wider view of the immeasurable grandeur of eternity. When we reflect, also, that the celestial periods by which these cycles are determined, are themselves fixed by that law of attraction which gives the minutest atom an influence on the planetary motions, what a combination appears in these sacred times of the most contrasted elements of Omniscient wisdom ! Human science sinks exhausted at the very threshold of this temple of divine truth. It has strained its utmost efforts in calculating the actual motions of the Moon and the Earth ; but the determining causes which fixed at first the proportion of their monthly and yearly revolutions have altogether eluded its research.
Yet these elements of the natural universe are linked in, by these sacred times and celestial cycles, with the deepest wonders of Providence, and the whole range of Divine prophecy. How glorious, then, must be the inner shrine, lit up with the Shechinah of the Divine Presence, when the approaches themselves reveal such a secret and hidden wisdom!
Every one of the passages in Daniel thus yields distinct evidence in favour of the year-day system. And when these various indications are compared together, and combined with the truth which has just been unfolded, of the connexion of these numbers with the natural cycles of science, the proof seems the highest almost of which such a subject is capable, and forms little short of the convincing power of a mathematical demonstration. In the following chapter the inquiry will be pursued further, in connexion with the Apocalyptic visions.
THE YEAR-DAY THEORY CONTINUED.
FROM the numbers of Daniel let us now pass on to consider those contained in the book of Revelation. The evidence which they afford has been, in some measure, anticipated ; but there are several arguments which remain still to be noticed.
I. THE TEN DAYS' TRIBULATION of Smyrna comes first in order. This, so far as it relates directly and literally to the Church of Smyrna, has its fulfilment unknown, and would not come under the range of the principle in debate. But many writers, with much apparent reason, have supposed these seven Churches to be types of the Church Universal, in distinct stages of its history. In accordance with this view, many have also interpreted these ten days of the ten years' persecution under Diocletian, the most remarkable in the early times of the Church.
This argument had been stated by Mr. Faber in these words :-“We find by the event that the Apocalyptic ten days' persecution of the Chureh of Snyrna means the ten years' persecution carried on by Diocletian." Mr. Maitland replies, certainly with some truth, that the interpretation is too much disputed, and received by too few expositors, to be a lawful postulate or basis of argument. He then states that he has found only Bishop Newton and Dr. Hales who agree in this application; that Dr. Clark speaks of it doubtfully; and that Grotius, Capellus, Fleming, Doddridge, Scott, Gauntlett,