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First, both parties agree that the judgment of the fourth beast coincides with the destruction of the image. But Dr. Todd maintains that the three other kingdoms bear rule at the same time with the fourth; while in the common view they rule previously, and in successive order.
Now if Dr. Todd be right, the prolonging in life of the three beasts must be after the time when the fourth is destroyed. But in the former vision, the brass, the silver, and the gold are destroyed together with the iron, and the stone then becomes a mountain which fills the whole earth. There seems no place left for the prolonging of the three other kingdoms, whether contemporary with the fourth, or ruling before it. The difficulty on either hypothesis is the same. On the common view, the three kingdoms precede the fourth. Their prolonging in life may then be after the time of their own rule, and not after the judgment of the fourth beast. This is the view of Sir Isaac Newton; and in this case is the simplest construction. There is, then, not even a shadow of contradiction between the two visions.
The fatal objection, therefore, is of the following kind: Dr. Todd's theory compels him to an explanation of the twelfth verse, which seems, on either hypothesis, to contradict the former vision : and it entirely excludes a simple and natural explanation which the common interpretation suggests, and which is free from all difficulty whatever.
By such weighty arguments is the consent of eighteen centuries to be overthrown, and this too by professed restorers of antiquity!
Dr. Todd's arguments are now exhausted, but not his errors.
And when a writer assails so rudely the very foundations of prophetic truth, it becomes a duty
to exhibit his logical incompetence for the work of demolition.
3. We have first a surprisingly false exposition, borrowed from Mr. Maitland :
“ There can be no question of the identity of the fourth beast with the iron legs of the image, because it is expressly said, in obvious allusion to the preceding prophecy, the fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth."
And again :“ I am disposed to believe that the three first beasts are not identical with the gold, silver, and brass, although the fourth beast is undoubtedly the iron, or fourth kingdom.”
The interpretation here advanced is anything but obvious : indeed, the exact reverse will be evident to any patient observer of the sacred text. The prophet has just seen four beasts arise in succession from the sea. The fourth had peculiarly fixed his attention as diverse from all that were before it. The angel tells him that these four beasts are four kings, or, as the next words explain it, kingdoms, which shall arise out of the earth. He then inquires the meaning of the fourth beast, and the angel answers :-" The fourth beast will be the fourth kingdom (or, a fourth kingdom) upon earth, which will be diverse from all kingdoms." What could the prophet understand, but that it was the fourth in order of time, of the four which he had just seen, and which the angel had that moment expounded? To refer the word “fourth” to a vision fifty years past, and to a series of things quite distinct from the four beasts, is a fancy so strange and unnatural that it is hard to imagine how any
writer of common sense could ever have proposed it. We might as well assert that the words (Dan. xi. 2), “ and the fourth shall be far richer than they all,” denotes that the fourth king of chap. vii. will be richer than the three kings of Persia.
Since, however, the identity of the fourth kingdom in the two visions is still allowed, why is this violence offered to the plain sense of the passage ? The reason is clear. The lecturer's aim, throughout, is to divert all the prophecies, which have been applied to the Roman Church, to future events; and for this end to free his speculations from all troublesome connexion with past history. His theories shrink from every historical fact as from the spear of Ithuriel. Hence the novel course which he adopts is to begin by expounding the close of each vision, while confessedly uncertain what is the true sense of its beginning ; like the architect who proposed to build from the roof downwards. A great facility is gained for this venturous course, if the sameness of the fourth kingdom in both these visions could be established without reference to the other three. Hence recourse is had to an exposition which does violence to the first lessons of common sense: and, indeed, what can be expected from a method of inquiry so lame and impotent, but errors and mistakes without end ?
4. We have next a complete misrepresentation of the reasoning of previous expositors :
“ If the fourth beast be identical with the fourth kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, then (say the commentators) the first, second, and third beasts are the same with the first, second, and third monarchies, and are the Babylonian, Persian, and Greek empires respectively."
Not one, I believe, of the commentators is guilty of this absurd reasoning, which Dr. Todd ascribes to them all. First, he makes them found their argument on his own mistake about Dan. vii. 23, which no one, perhaps, ever dreamed of till within these few years ; and next, he ascribes to them a syllogism, which would prove the three first apostles and the three first evangelists to be
the same persons : and all this without one syllable that I can find in any author to justify the statement. The lightest censure of such a style of controversy is, that those who adopt it should at least be more moderate in their exclamations against the “bold and weak recklessness” of others.
5. We have, thirdly, a direct mis-statement with regard to the prophecy itself :
“ It seems very plainly asserted that the four kingdoms symbolized are to exist contemporaneously, and that the three first are to survive the fourth; but this phenomenon is not explained, so far as I know, of any of the common interpretations, and is wholly inconsistent with the hypothesis that the fourth beast is the Roman empire."
This short sentence contains four statements, and every one of them is untrue. First, it is plainly asserted that the kingdoms are not contemporaneous, but successive, in their rise and dominion. No less than eight terms importing this succession occur in the vision. In a certain sense, indeed, they are contemporary, since the former ones exist after their rule has ceased. But this cannot be the lecturer's meaning; for it is allowed by all expositors, and makes nothing for his argumenta
Next, the prophecy does not plainly assert that the three beasts survive the fourth, but only that they survive the time of their own dominion. And if this were asserted, it is just as consistent with the common exposition as with that of the lecturer, and could therefore yield no argument in his favour. Lastly, the surviving of the three kingdoms after the fourth would not be inconsistent with the application of the fourth to the Roman empire. It could only be so, by assuming that Babylon, Persia, and Greece are, in the prophetic sense, entirely extinct. Now a glance at the former vision shows that this is not true even of Babylon, the earliest in time; for the gold is broken to pieces, either at the same time with the iron, or somewhat later (ii. 45).
To sum up this first subject, the identity of the four kingdoms : Of Dr. Todd's two fatal objections, the first is a grammatical subtlety, which is confuted both by reason and by Scripture usage; and the second is made up of two contradictory arguments, and the only part in it which is true tells exclusively against his own theory. Besides these we have nothing, except a most unnatural exposition of the twenty-third verse, an unwarrantable ascription of his own mistake to previous writers, a complete misrepresentation of their arguments, and two statements entirely erroneous concern. ing the prophecy itself.
III. THE INTERPRETATION OF THE THREE FIRST EMPIRES is the next point assailed. Mr. Maitland's hypothesis, borrowed in part from Lacunza or Ben Ezra, is, that Babylon and Persia form one single empire; that the second is the Grecian, the third the Roman, and the fourth still future. His arguments are these :
1, “The Babylonian empire was not destroyed, or essentially altered, when Darius the Mede and Cyrus shook off the yoke of Belshazzar, and obtained possession of the capital.”
The argument consists of two parts. The first denies the fact of any essential alteration; and the second requires, to constitute a fresh empire, the total destruction of its predecessor. Now to these two statements I reply:
(1). The kingdom of Babylon was numbered and finisheit, as the miraculous hand-writing shows; and therefore, if not destroyed, was at least essentially altered.
(2). The head of gold is not destroyed when the silver kingdom succeeds, nor till the stone smites the