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a slow fire; it will soon crumble into the dust." The
Again, Fleming, in his “Discourse on the Rise and
Further, Bengelius, on distinct, but similar grounds,
These instances are enough to show how groundless are the assertions which are often made, of the total and absolute failure of all predictions based on the year-day theory and the prophetic times. Examples of a general accordance between the anticipation and the actual
events might be easily enlarged; but, in the cases just given, even the very date assigned has proved exactly, or almost exactly, true. The charge, then, of delusion and falsehood, brought against these estimates of the prophetic times, unless advanced with important limitations, is itself false and delusive. It applies only to those who dogmatize with arrogant presumption, or pervert the subject into the fuel of a vain curiosity. But it is sible to search into the times with reverence, to conjeca ture with diffidence, and to derive from them, like Daniel, motives to watchfulness, and incentives to confession and prayer. Nay, to those who are wise with a holy wisdom, and who have the promise that they shall understand, they may even furnish a distinct and accurate insight into the nature of some of those events which may be speedily coming upon the earth.
On the other hand, that entire rejection of all prophetic chronology, which follows, of course, on the devial of the year-day, is most of all to be deplored, from its deadly and paralyzing influence on the great hope of the Church. No delusion can be greater than to expect, by excluding all reference to dates and times, to awaken Christians to a more lively expectation of their Lord's second coming. For, in truth, without reference to such dates, in an open or disguised form, not one solid reason can be given why the Church may not still have to wait two or three thousand years, before the promise is fulfilled. The declarations, “ the time is at hand," were true and pertinent, when the event was eighteen centuries removed. And hence they form no barrier to the supposition that eighteen centuries more may have still to intervene. Every sign of the times is either too vague to direct us; or, in proportion as it becomes distinct, assumes practically all the characters of a numeral date, and becomes exposed to the same objections. The prophetic times, indeed, when separated from the context, and viewed in themselves only, are a dry and worthless skeleton : but when taken in connexion with the related events, clothed with historical facts, and joined with those spiritual affections which should attend the study of God's Providence ; like the bones in the human frame, they give strength to what was feeble, and union to what was disjointed, and form, and beauty, and order, to the whole outline and substance of these sacred and divine prophecies.
And now I would conclude this important subject by a brief review of the whole argument. It is certain, first of all, that it was the design of God to keep the Church in the attitude of continual and lively expectation of her Lord's return. It is equally certain that this object would be best secured by leaving her in nearly total ignorance of the times when the advent was remote, and vouchsafing to her an imperfect but growing measure of light as the time drew near. This condition is accurately fulfilled by the year-day hypothesis, but is entirely wanting to the literal view; and this forms a first and general presumption for the figurative interpretations. To this general reason there are added several other general presumptions, from the place and context of these sacred numbers. Among the chief of these are, the general proportion and symmetry of the periods revealed in prophecy, the symbolical nature of the two books in which alone they occur, the remarkable and solemn manner of their introduction, clearly importing that they contain some mysterious sense, and the various forms of expression, all of them unusual, in which most of them are conveyed.
These general presumptions, which plainly indicate the existence of some mystery, are confirmed by many distinct proofs which establish the interpretation of a year for a day. Three of these are typical prophecies, occurring in two passages of Scripture, and on two occasions widely remote; and in all of which, by God's own express appointment, a day was made the type of a year. Besides these, we have the prophecy of the seventy weeks certainly fulfilled in years; while the term, beyond question, is used elsewhere in Scripture for sevens of days only, and also plainly completes the series of prophetic terms-days, weeks, months, and times, equivalent to years. We have also the words of our Lord to the Pharisees, where it is highly probable that the three days, twice mentioned, refer to the three years which were the duration of His whole ministry.
After these succeed the particular arguments drawn from each separate passage. Of these it is enough to say, that there is not one which does not present some peculiar feature, totally unexplained on the literal interpretation, but which assumes at once a deep significance on the opposite view. Especially three of these numeral dates, by a most express and exclusive reference, point us to the three passages where the substitution of a year for a day has twice been typically announced and three times historically fulfilled. The woman's abode in the wilderness refers us to the passage in Numbers; the time of the second woe to the type in Ezekiel's siege of Jerusalem; and the three days and a half of the unburied witnesses, to the prophecy of the seventy weeks, the only place in all Scripture where the very same interval is named either in history or prophecy.
Such is a brief review of the concurrent evidence upon which the year-day theory is founded; besides that harniony of symbolical miniature, which applies to the numbers in Revelation. And I believe no one can fairly and calmly examine the whole subject, whose mind
is not imbued with some strong prepossession, or utterly ignorant of the general depth of Scripture, and the character of its allusions, without feeling that these proofs amount as nearly to a strict demonstration, as the nature of the inquiry will allow. Evidence so explicit and simple as to admit of no mistake, and to force conviction at first sight, is here excluded by the nature of the case ; for then these times would have been prematurely revealed. But it is a convincing proof that these tokens of mystery, and the application of these examples of the year-day, waited only the bare lapse of time to become clear and transparent, in the fact, that the times, and times and half, were expounded mystically, even in the fifth century; and that the year-day was seen and recognized in the short period of the witnesses' exposure, long before it could be applied to the whole period of their prophesying in sackcloth. The separate maxims of interpretation were all in readiness; and as soon as the lapse of twelve centuries allowed, they began spontaneously to arrange themselves into one magnificent and harmonious system of revealed times.
And surely, in the present stage of prophetic inquiry, when the strictest of all reasoners, and the first of all discoverers, had inferred, more than a century ago,
from “the great successes of interpreters," that the full disclosure of the prophecy was fast approaching, it is indeed a return to weak and beggarly elements to cast aside all these previous researches as a heap of delusions, and to adopt a view which leaves the Church floating, without a reckoning, on the ocean of time, while it also contradicts every feature in the terms and context of these sacred numbers. Yet the severe sifting of truths, once thought to be firmly established, may be attended with many useful results; and it cannot well be denied that it was very seasonable. When reasons could be used in