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Roman empire was divided into about ten kingdoms, at the very stage of Providence when we might expect it from the prophecy alone.

2. This explanation, however, may still appear to some minds loose and indefinite. The number ten, five times repeated, may seem to them to demand a more exact and precise fulfilment. There are two further remarks which furnish a complete answer, and leave the objection without any shadow of scriptural warrant.

And, first, let us consider the parallel case of the twelve tribes of Israel. These, it is well known, are always described by the same number, twelve. Yet the Scripture furnishes us with three lists of these, all different from each other (Gen. xlix.; Num. xiii.; Rev. vii.) And if we combine the principles allowed in these separate lists, the number may be reduced to ten, or increased to thirteen, by excluding Dan and Levi, or admitting both Manasseh and Ephraim. Yet, notwithstanding these actual varieties, and the various numbers which might be assigned, they are always described by the same number, twelve. For this was not only their original number, but had evidently a sacred character, which made it the standing description of the Church, and appears again in the twelve apostles and in the symbols of the Revelation.

Now the same reasons will clearly apply to the ten kingdoms. Granting that the list of them may be made to vary--may be reduced to nine or eight, or enlarged to eleven or twelve; still the number ten was the medium in these oscillations, and, according to credible accounts, the original number. And it is plain, from the parable of the virgins and other passages, that it is as peculiarly appropriated to Gentile nations or Churches, as the number twelve is to the tribes of Israel.

3. But there is a further observation to be made, not

less important. The prophecy itself does recognize and imply these temporary variations of the actual number. This will appear from two distinct passages; and first of all from the following text:

Dan. ii. 66 And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men; but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.”

The plain meaning of these words is, that the powers denoted by the ten toes of the image will repeatedly seek to unite with each other by intermarriage; but that these temporary alliances should lead to no lasting union. This implies, as its natural consequence, that one or more of the kingdoms would for a time be merged and blended with their neighbours; as, for instance, Portugal with Spain, or France or Spain with Naples; but that the transitory union would be followed by a renewed separation.

The second passage occurs in the seventh chapter, and is, perhaps, a still more decisive testimony.

Dan. vii.8. “I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots."

Either these uprooted horns are afterwards replaced by others, or not. If not, the number varies at least from ten to seven.

But from the renewed mention of the horns in the Revelation, and always with the same number ten, even after the time of uprooting must be supposed to be past, it would appear that the horns are replaced by others. And this, perhaps, is the meaning of the word first, as if the horns germinated in succession, and three of the first were uprooted by the little horn, and then replaced by some which followed.

Now if this be true, which is the most natural exposi

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tion, it follows that the reckoning of these horns, according to the prophecy itself, would vary from seven to thirteen. If they were reckoned after the three had fallen, and before they were replaced, the number would be only

If the whole number be included, of those which fall and of those which replace them, they will amount to thirteen. These limits are wider than those mentioned above in the objection itself; and the principle thus confirmed admits of a still more extensive application in the temporary changes which might afterwards follow.

The objection then, in fact, is anticipated by the prophecy, and entirely removed on an exact review of what is implied in the vision. And thus, instead of refuting the larger view of the times, it serves rather to lend it a fresh confirmation.

II. THE UNCERTAIN DATE OF THE 1,260 YEARS is a further objection which forms one main topic of Mr. Maitland's inquiry. The reasoning ought, perhaps, to be given in his own words.

“If such an event as this (the delivery of the saints into the hands of a blasphemous and persecuting power) has taken place, is it possible that the Church of God can be at a loss to decide when and how it happened? Can there be a difference of opinion among pious, and learned, and laborious inquirers into the word of God and the history of the Church? Nay, further, we ask• Is the Church at this moment in the hands of the blasphemous little horn, or is it not?' Mr. Faber, and many more, assert that it is. Mr. Cuningbame, Mr. Frere, and others, are as fully convinced that it is not. And nine-tenths of the Christian world stand silent, avowedly unable to give any opinion on the subject. They may, or may not, be in the hands of the little horn, and he may, or may not, be wearing them out, for anything they know. They hope and believe that they are the saints, but whether the beast is making war with, and has overcome them, they cannot tell : it is a deep, curious, and litigated question, and one on which, among so many conflicting opinions, they never pre

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tended to form a judgment for themselves.......... When did the saints find out that they had been delivered over? Not for ages.

, Is this credible? But, in fact, when did it happen ? When, how, and by whom was this great prediction fulfilled? On this point, too, there is a great difference of opinion.......... Is it credible that the Church has to wander up and down through a period of three centuries, inquiring when she was delivered into the hands of a cruel and blasphemous tyrant? Might we not expect.that this solemn act would be known in her assemblies, registered in her calendar, commemorated in her services, never lost sight of by her members? But, instead of this, the saints who were thus delivered up knew nothing of the matter. One generation after another passed away, and the secret was not discovered. Centuries rolled on, and the saints knew not that he to whom they looked as their father and their head was making war upon them and wearing them out. For ages did the Church of God follow a hireling, with the mark of perdition on their foreheads.......... I leave it to others to explain how a man can at once bear on his forehead the mark of the beast and the seal of the living God." (Enq., pp. 53, 76).

1. The objection, when exhibited in this pointed and epigrammatic form, is well adapted to make a deep impression on general readers. There is, however, one great defect which vitiates it in every part; it argues against an hypothesis, by assuming, as self-evident, a vital and essential part of the hypothesis opposed to it. It is quite plain that the literal and mystical exposition of the times involve two views, equally distinct, of the true aim and final cause of the prophecy. In the one case, it was given to sustain the faith of the last generation of the Church only, during a very short, but bitter season of open persecution. Its whole use is limited to three years; and it would then be useless, if the Church could not identify the persecution at once, and fix the date of its commencement. On the other view, it was given for the use of the Church through many successive generations, to unmask a dangerous and subtle delusion, and to throw light on the moral features of

God's providence through many centuries of time. Now it is clear that all these purposes might be fulfilled, even if the true application were not seen for several generations, and if mistakes of two or three centuries were made at first in the date of the event. The influx of error and delusion is almost always gradual ; and, although the prophecy itself must refer to some distinct and specific time, it is clear that the practical evil would be small in amount, if the commencement were wrongly placed a century earlier or later than the true era.

All the main features and practical lessons would still be substantially the same; as the features and character of a person might be well known, though we were a few months or years in error as to the time of his birth.

2. The analogy of other predicted periods shows still more forcibly the unreasonable nature of this demand, for an exact and full consent in the date of the prophecy. And, first, let us consider the period of four hundred years revealed to Abraham for the sojourning of his posterity. Mr. Cuninghame, in his "Strictures" (p. 49), has referred to this passage for the same purpose; and his argument has been strangely misunderstood by Mr. Maitland, in his reply. “Mr. Cuning

. hame (he says) is the only critic, so far as I know, who contends that the four hundred years is descriptive of some shorter period. Most commentators, both Jewish and Christian, understand the four hundred years as meaning four hundred years."

Now Mr. Cuninghame really asserts the very reverse. He maintains that a period of four hundred years was really meant; but that the characters prophetically assigned to those years, sojourning in the strange nation, and affliction, were not applicable with equal distinctness to the whole time of their continuance.

66 We re

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