Page images
PDF
EPUB

8. Ex. iii. 7:12. The exodus and entrance of Canaan, a space of forty years.

9. Lev. xxvi. The victories, desolation, and return of the Jews, a long period of three thousand years.

10. Num. xxiv. 17-24. The star smiting Moab and Edom, B.C. 1056-890 (2 Sam. viii.; 2 Kings xlviii. 22), a period of two hundred and sixty years.

The ships from Chittim, &c., B.C. 169-A.D. 70, a space of two hundred and forty years.

11. Deut. xxxii. 7-43. Verses 7-20. The history of Israel in their own land, through a period of one thousand five hundred and thirty years.

Verses 21-29. The dispersion of the Jews, &c., a period of one thousand eight hundred years.

Their repentance and restoration in the future millennium, one thousand years.

The continuous range of the whole, about three thousand two hundred years.

12. Deut. xxxiii. 5-11. Levi's service at God's altar, B.C. 1444-A.D. 70, an interval of one thousand five hundred years.

This list from the Pentateuch might be easily prolonged from the later books of the Old Testament. It will be seen that, with scarce a single exception, the events predicted range continuously through the stated interval, and that the intervals themselves are from forty to four thousand years, and three-fourths of them exceed a whole millennium.

A plain appeal to Seripture thus enables us to reverse this assertion of the Futurist school, brought forward with careless haste as an excuse for their novelties. We may substitute this maxim in its place, that, with few exceptions, THE NATURE OF SCRIPTURE PROPHECY IS TO OCCUPY A CONTINUOUS RANGE OF DIVINE PRO VIDENCE, And if this be true, as we have seen, of the

1

[merged small][ocr errors]

prophecies in general, the presumption is doubly strong that such is the case with the symbolical and detailed visions of Daniel and St. John.

II. THE TRADITION OF THE EARLY CHURCH is the second presumption alleged by these authors. Mr. Maitland, indeed, uses it rather in self-defence, to meet the charge of entire novelty brought against his opinions by some incautious opponents. Still he more than once employs it as a distinct arguments. Dr. Todd and Mr. Tyso follow him with greater boldness and less discretion. The latter asserts that the year-day theory was totally unknown to the Church for fifteen centuries after Christ (p. 68)—a statement plainly false, and which does not need refutation. A passage from Dr. Todd on the subject has been already given. Now here, again, a full induction of facts will

prove the best help to a correct judgment on the whole question.

The writers of the primitive Church almost unanimously contradict the Futurists, and agree with the Protestant interpreters, on the following points :

1. That the head of gold denotes the Babylonian empire, not the person of Nebuchadnezzar, or Babylon and Persia in one.

2. That the silver denotes the Medo-Persian empire.
3. That the brass denotes the Greek empire.
4. That the iron denotes the Roman empire.

5. That the clay mingled with the iron denotes the intermixture of barbarous nations in the Roman empire.

6. That the mingling with the seed of men relates to intermarriages among the kings of the divided empire.

7. That the lion denotes the Babylonian empire.

8. That the eagle wings relate to Nebuchadnezzar's ambition.

9. That the bear denotes the Medc-Persian empire.

10. That the rising on one side signifies the later supremacy of the Persians.

11. That the leopard relates to the Macedonian empire.

12. That the four wings denote the rapidity of Alexander's conquests.

13. That the fourth beast is the Roman empire.

14. That the ten horns denote a tenfold division of that empire, which was then future.

15.* That the division began in the fourth and fifth centuries.

16. That the rise of the ten horns is later than the rise of the beast.

17. That the vision of the ram and he-goat begins from the time of the prophecy.

18. That the higher horn of the ram denotes the Persian dynasty, beginning with Cyrus.

19. That the first horn of the he-goat is Alexander the Great.

20. That the breaking of the horn, when strong, relates to the sudden death of Alexander in the height of

his power.

21. That the four horns denote four main kingdoms, into which the Macedonian empire was divided.

22. That the three kings (Dan. xi. 2) are Cambyses, Smerdis, and Darius.

23. That the expedition against Greece is that of Xerxes, B.C. 485.

24. That the mighty king (verse 3) is Alexander the Great.

25. That the king's daughter of the south is Berenice, daughter of Ptolemy Philadelphus.

26. That the one from the branch of her roots is Ptolemy Euergetes.

27. That the sons of the king of the north are Seleucus Ceraunus and Antiochus the Great.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

28. That the battle (ver. 11) is that of Raphia.
29. That the battle (ver. 15) is that of Panium.

30. That the daughter of women (ver. 17) is Cleopatra, daughter of Antiochus the Great.

31. That the expedition (ver. 18) is that of Antiochus against Greece.

32. That the prince (ver. 18) denotes the Roman power.

33. That the death of Antiochus is predicted in verse 19.

34 That the raiser of taxes is Seleucus Philopator.

35. That the letting power (2 Thess. ii.) is the imperial power of Rome.

36. That the Apocalypse begins from the time of St. John.

37. "That the first seal relates to the early triumphs of the Gospel.

On the other hand, the early writers agree with the Futurists, and differ from the Protestant interpreters, on these points :

1. That the ten toes of the image denote individual persons.

2. That the ten horns of the fourth beast denote the

[ocr errors]

same.

3. That the little horn (Dan. vii.) is an individual king.

4. That the time, times, and half of Daniel are three years and six months.

5. That the period (Dan. viii.) is two thousand three hundred literal days.

6. That the one thousand two hundred and ninety, and one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days, are to be taken literally.

7. That the man of sin (2 Thess. ii.) is an individual person.

8.* That the forty-two months are three literal years and six months.

[ocr errors]

9.* That the one thousand two hundred and sixty days are literal days.

10.* That the two witnesses are individual persons.

11. That the beast and false prophet are two individual apostates.

12. That the ten kings (Rev. xvii.) are individual persons.

The points omitted in this list are those on which the early writers seem to differ from both the rival systems, and in those marked with asterisks their concurrence is only partial. Thus the little horn (Dan. viii.) was applied to Antiochus rather than Antichrist; the wilful king to both; the five months of the first woe—the time of the second woe—and the time, times, and half of Rev. xii., were taken indefinitely.

Such is, I believe, a correct outline of the testimony of early tradition; and we may gather from it the fol. lowing conclusions.

First, the Protestant system has three times as many points of agreement with the early writers as the rival theory.

Secondly, the harmony between the Protestant writers and those of the first ages relates almost wholly to events then past or present; while that between the Futurists and the early Church relates almost wholly to events which both suppose to be future.

Thirdly, this agreement of the Futurists with the early Church is in those parts which are expressly stated to be closed up and sealed till the time of the end, or else in others which are parallel with these in point of time.

Te result of the whole inquiry is very clear. It is not an over-statement, when we take into account the nature as well as the number of the particulars on each side, to affirm that the Protestant interpreters have ten

« PreviousContinue »