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Junius, Brightman, Brown, Henry, and Guyse, all adopt some different exposition. He then adds" The question is, whether the apostle does soclearly and certainly use the word day for a year in this passage, as to form a sufficient, though single warrant for our assuming that he has done so in other places.”
These remarks may be conclusive against adopting this passage as a primary and fundamental argument; but they cannot hinder us from receiving it as supplementary evidence, for the following reasons.
(1). First, Mr. Maitland has not been fortunate in the commentators who have fallen in his way, with regard to the authorities for this interpretation. The three next whom I have examined, and certainly three of the ablest and best known writers on the Apocalypse, Dr. More, Daubuz, and Vitringa, all adopt this reference to Diocletian's persecution; and Dr. Gill also prefers the same view.
(2). Next, if once we admit the typical character of these Epistles, it is hardly possible to avoid the interpretation in question ; for the contrast between Smyrna and the following Churches is one between external violence and internal corruption. We must view the Church of Smyrna, then, as a type of the later times of Paganism. Now the last and most conspicuous of all the heathen persecutions—the crisis, in fact, of the Church's history, was the persecution of Diocletian ; and it is notorious that it lasted just ten years. The presumption, then, in favour of this application is really of the strongest kind, when the Epistles are once allowed to have a typical meaning. The argument, though not fundamental, forms an important supplement to those which have been already given.
II. THE TIME OF THE LOCUST WOE is the next period which has to be examined. And this requires a notice of the maxim laid down by Mr. Faber in the “ Provincial Letters," in his short but lucid defence of the year-day theory.
1. The principle which Mr. Faber there assumes as the basis of the theory is, the systematic employment of MINIATURE in hieroglyphical symbolization. After this, as the second step of the argument, the texts in Numbers and Ezekiel are adduced, with the Seventy Weeks, to furnish scriptural authority for a specific rate of numeral reduction.
This second step is quite plain, and is presented with Mr. Faber's usual point and clearness. But the principle, however true in itself, is not wide enough to comprehend all the facts of the case. The true basis, I believe, is that which has been already unfolded—the express design of God that the Church should be kept in the constant expectation of Christ's advent, and the intentional concealment of the times, while still distant, which arose from this as the final cause.
we examine minutely the texts themselves, the numbers of Daniel do not, in any one instance, occur among the symbols, but either in direct interpretations, or in visions not strictly symbolical. Even in the dates of Revelation the principle will not apply as an universal test; for the ten days of Smyrna, the forty-two months of the Gentiles, and the thousand years of the millennium, do not come within its operation. These might all be literal or all figurative, so far as this maxim is a guide. However true, then, and useful, as a subsidiary remark, the principle seems open to the attacks of a skilful adversary, when laid down as the fundamental axiom of the whole inquiry.
2. In the period, however, of the locust woe, Mr. Faber's maxim, for the first time, fully applies. The locusts are a miniature symbol-insects, for men or
invading armies. The time of the woe is given in the midst of the emblems themselves. Therefore it is natural to suppose that this also would be expressed in a miniature form. And this is confirmed, if we remember that five months is a natural and common period for the ravages of literal locusts; but that the scourge of conquering or invading armies is seldom limited to so short a time.
3. This conclusion is strengthened by comparing the words of the Angel in the tenth chapter. With a solemn oath He declares that there shall be time no longer; but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, the mystery of God should be finished.” The words clearly import the shortness of the remaining time of delay, compared with the interval already past. The other term of the comparison is the duration of the previous trumpets, which had not been followed by repentance. If we take the five months as literal, the four first trumpets must be still shorter, and the whole space could not much exceed two years. Now this is a time much too short to give room for the contrast in the words of the angel. There could with no propriety ro emphasis be said to be delay, in severe judgments, six in number, within the limits of two successive years. And hence the most solemn oath in the word of God is robbed of the deep solemnity of its meaning.
III. THE TIME OF THE SECOND WOE affords another proof of the same kind, but is involved in greater difficulties, from the various readings or versions of which the text is here capable.
1. The common version is in these words--66 The four angels were loosed which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, to slay the third part of men.
The form of the phrase is here so peculiar as to strike
every reader at once. The common order is inverted, and the period is given as an ascending climax, instead of the usual arrangement. Hence, long before the yearday theory arose, the terms were often understood indefinitely, as if they bore the sense, “prepared for any hour, or day, or month, or year." Even from the earliest times, what is called the literal sense was far from being so literally plain as to be received by most commentators. The other view, I believe, was more usual.
2. With the actual reading the common version does not appear to be correct. The words should rather be translated as is done by Mr. Faber-" The angels prepared for that hour were loosed both a day, and a month, and a year.” But, in my opinion, the reading is preferable which is adopted by Matthæi, and found in seven or eight of the best manuscripts (εις την ώραν και εις την quépav). The translation will then bem" The angels prepared for that hour, and that day, were loosed both a month and a year.” Two of the very best manuscripts of Bengelius agree in this reading; and all the five of Matthæi, of which he says_5 Quando hi quinque inter se consentiunt, de integritate textus vix ullo in loco dubitare licet.'
3. There will now appear, in these words, a striking confirmation of the year-day theory; for the time, according to this amended version, a month and year, or three hundred and ninety days, is the exact period named in Ezekiel, where the typical use of days for years is most expressly stated—“I have laid on thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days; so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel.” This has not the air of a casual resemblance; it is rather an express mark supplied us by the Holy Spirit, and directing us to the
true key, by which to interpret these prophetic periods. The character of the times is also similar. The three hundred and ninety years in Ezekiel are a time of unrepenting idolatry on the part of God's visible Church, the house of Israel, closed by a decisive overthrow and judgment. The month and year of the second woe have the same character. They are marked by stubborn and persevering idolatry (ix. 20), and close with the utter excision of the third part of men” (ix. 18). The same interval of time occurs nowhere in Scripture but in these two passages. It is difficult, then, to conceive how an indirect discovery of the true meaning could be more complete than is here provided in this type of Ezekiel, and its exact accordance with the features of the second woe.
IV. THE TREADING DOWN OF THE HOLY CITY, and the related numbers, have next to be considered. The passage is as follows:
Rev. xi. 2, 3. “But the court that is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it has been given to the Gentiles ; and the holy city they will tread under foot forty and two months. And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they shall prophecy one thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in -sackcloth."
1. The same remark applies here as in former in. stances, but with increased emphasis. Two distinct phrases are used to denote the time, and neither of them is the usual and literal form to express the times, on the shorter reckoning. The fact that the same interval is named not less than seven times, and under three various forms, accords fully with the mystical interpretation, and with that only.
2. The time announced for the treading down of the city is forty-two months. Now the literal city of Jerusalem has already been trodden down for one thousand