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image. Nor, again, is the first beast destroyed when the second or third receives dominion. The second premise in Mr. Maitland's argument is refuted by the symbols alone.
(3). It is also refuted by history, on Mr. Maitland's own hypothesis. The kingdom of Persia was not physically destroyed when Alexander obtained possession of the capital, and became king of Babylon and Persia, as Darius had been; though Mr. Maitland himself regards this as the beginning of a fresh kingdom. Nor, again, was the kingdom of Greece destroyed when the Romans conquered Macedon, and proclaimed Greece to be free, at the Olympic games.
In short, Scripture teaches us that, after the seventy years of the captivity, the service of the nations to the king of Babylon was at an end, and the king and people punished (Jer. xxv. 12-14); that under Belshazzar “ the very time of the land was come, and many nations and great kings would serve themselves of him" (xxvi. 6, 7); that the kingdom was numbered, finished, and divided, and given to others (Dan. v.); that Media and Persia formed a separate empire even before Babylon fell (Dan. viii. 20); and that the conquest by Cyrus is the most complete type of the final overthrow of the world's kingdoms (Rev. xvi. 12). What fuller evidence of distinctness could the most captious disputant require ?
In order, then, to set history and the prophecy at variance, Mr. Maitland distorts both. He exaggerates the change required by the symbols, extenuates the facts of history, and stultifies his own hypothesis of the succession of the two following empires.
2. “ Darius became king of the Chaldeans, as Belshazzar had been; and so Daniel calls him (xi. 1). And Nehemiah, who was cup-bearer to his successor a hundred years after, calls him simply the king of
Babylon." To strengthen the objection, I may add Ezra v. 13, where Cyrus is styled the king of Babylon, and Ezra vi. 22, where Darius Hystaspes is termed the king of Assyria.
And now what do these facts really prove ? About thirty times the title, king of Persia, is given in Scripture to the sovereigns of the new dynasty ; four times that of king of Babylon, Assyria, and the Chaldeans, while Babylon was an actual province of the monarchy, and tributary to its rulers. Even the fourth, or, as Mr. Maitland would call it, the third kingdom, has the name Babylon applied, in the New Testament, to its seat of empire. What can we infer, but that the regular and constant title marks the distinctness of the Persian as the second kingdom; while the rare and occasional title, like the use of the word "Babylon" in the Apocalypse, serves to remind us of the prophetic unity of the whole image?
3. “Babylon was not destroyed; Cyrus and his successors continued it as their seat of government.” The latter statement seems groundless. Xenophon asserts that Susa and Ecbatana were at once made the seats of supreme power; and though Babylon, from its position and importance, was retained as a third, it was with this great difference, that Babylon was subject to tribute, while the Persians were free.
But besides this error, the argument itself is futile. Neither Babylon nor Susa was destroyed when Alexander conquered Asia; nor Pydna, Pella, Sparta, or Athens, when the Romans subdued Greece.
4. “ The Persian empire never was less, but equal to, or greater than, the kingdom of the Chaldeans founded by Nebuchadnezzar. But the Grecian empire, founded by Alexander, answers this characteristic of inferiority to the first."
This objection is made up of two errors. First, it is a well-known fact that Alexander's empire included Egypt and all Asia, as far as the Hydaspes and Indus. It comprised, therefore, all the Persian dominions, besides adding Greece and Macedonia. The empire was therefore greater, and not less in size than that of Persia. If Mr. Maitland's exposition of the words were true, it would refute his own hypothesis, as more false than the common interpretation.
But the exposition is false. The word “inferior" does not mean less in territorial extent, as Mr. Maitland expounds it. For, first, this is historically untrue, on every hypothesis. Next, the breast and arms of silver were not less in size than the gold, but greater; they were inferior only in preciousness and in relative position in the image. Further, the term strictly answers to the symbol. From its derivation it might be rendered “ earthward;" and thus denotes inferiority, not in size and extent, but in dignity, splendour, and political cohesion. Hence, as the construction allows and the symbol requires, it must be applied to the third empire, as well as the second, in comparison with the first.
5. “The character of the third empire, of which only it is declared that it shall bear rule over all the earth, does not apply to the Grecian, but does apply, with peculiar propriety, to the Roman empire.”
Here again two of the three assertions are not true. First, the Greek empire was . larger than the Persian, and, consequently, than the Chaldean, which yet is called universal by the prophet himself. The character does apply, therefore, to the Greek empire. • Next, universal rule is not asserted of the third empire only. It is distinctly applied to the first (Dan. ii. 37, 38) and to the fourth beast, which Mr. Maitland
admits to be the same with the iron kingdom. Three out of four have the character plainly assigned them.
But, in reality, universal rule is ascribed to the second, as well as to the other three. For the clause, 6 which shall bear rule over all the earth," may be joined, in construction, with each of the two kingdoms named in the verse. And the homogeneous nature of the image, the propriety of the symbol, and the facts of history on every hypothesis, prove that this is the true construction.
6. "The fourth empire is to exist till the ancient of days' come. But the Roman empire has long ceased to exist. Those who are hard pressed by the exigency of system may attempt to make a show of a nominal empire, and, by long habit, the writers and readers of commentaries have come to give and receive very marvellous interpretations with great gravity; but surely the Roman empire, the empire founded by Romulus and ruled by Augustus and Constantine, has passed through a regular decline and fall to absolute extinction."
This objection will have to be separately considered, as Dr. Todd unfolds it more at length. One single remark, however, is enough to prove its emptiness. The brass, silver, and gold are broken and destroyed at the same time with the iron. Now, on Mr. Maitland's hypothesis, these are the Babylonian and Persian, the Greek, and the Roman empires. How casy, then, to retort his own objection threefold, and say, “ Mr. Maitland gives, and Dr. Todd and others receive, very marvellous interpretations with great gravity ; but surely the kingdom ruled over by Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus, and that ruled over by Alexander and his successors, as well as that of Augustus and Constantine, have passed through their decline and fall to absolute extinction.”
Mr. Maitlaud's argument has, therefore, three faults. First, it tells more strongly against his own hypothesis than against the truth he is opposing. Secondly, it directly contradicts the statement of the inspired prophet with regard to the continuance of the head of gold. And lastly, with unwise sarcasm, it treats that view of the prophetic language as marvellously absurd, which, either on his own or any other hypothesis, has the express and plain sanction of the Spirit of God.
III. THE APPLICATION OF THE FOURTH EMPIRE TO THAT OF ROME is more fully and boldly contradicted in Dr. Todd's Lectures. His objections are of three kinds—the imputation of false maxims, assertions of the discord of interpreters, and direct arguments from the characteristics of the fourth kingdom.
1. False maxims imputed.
(1). "The application is a remarkable example of the tendency to magnify the events of our own times, and give them a disproportionate importance" (pp. 46, 48).
This is the exact reverse of the truth. Dr. Todd's own system is the climax of this error, from which the common exposition is entirely free. He contracts within the next twenty or thirty years the prophecies which the Protestant interpretation spreads evenly over two thousand four hundred years. This is a somewhat bold commencement.
(2). “We are no judges of the relative importance of past events, and therefore the Roman empire may have been omitted."
. We are judges of the relative importance of the birth, passion, and resurrection of our Lord, and of the spread of his Gospel. To deny this, would be either gross ignorance or direct profaneness. Now all these happened under the Roman power, and are closely connected with it by the Scriptures themselves. The objection, there