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evident by this time to every unbiassed reader, that the controversial assertions of the Donnellan Lecturer are as little trustworthy as his reasonings.
One excuse alone is offered, in a previous foot-note, for this asserted sameness. The expression, he shall not be found, as we shall see presently, does not imply the utter destruction of the king of the north; for he appears again in the prophecy (v. 40). The further proof never appears. The whole, then, resolves itself into this singular argument: Pharoah, “ king of Egypt," was cast into the Red Sea; but this does not imply his utter destruction, for he appears again in the prophecies of Ezekiel. Or the king of England” stumbled and fell, and was not found, at the battle of Hastings; but this does not imply his death, for he appears once more in the history of the French Revolution.
10. The want of homogeneity in the kingdoms furnishes a tenth argument.
“A reader who had no theory to support would conclude that the kings of the north and south, mentioned at the beginning of the prophecy, must, at all events, whether literal kings or no, be the same kings of the north and south who are spoken of towards the close of the chapter. But this principle has not been adopted by commentators. At the end of the prophecy two very different powers are generally believed to be intended—the Saracens and the Turks.”
This paragraph, again, is studded thickly with errors.
(1). First, as applied to literal, or rather personal kings, the assertion is the exact opposite of truth. Christians of all classes, Jews, and even Infidels, nay, express words of Scripture, all unite to convict it of utter falsehood.
(2). Next, when limited to the sameness of the kingdoms, the statement is still most deceptive. Throughout the first thirty verses, all commentators, with óng
or two solitary exceptions, interpret the words of the kings of Syria and Egypt. As an argument against the fulfilment of this part, the great point which Dr. Todd attempts to disprove, the objection is idle and worthless. If it could prove anything, it would be that commentators are right in their exposition of the first thirty verses, and wrong only in a few verses at the end of the chapter.
(3). Thirdly, the incongruity, if it be really such, is not generally adopted. The early writers of the Church, all the Romanists whom I have seen, and many Protestants, including Mr. Faber and other living expositors, while they agree in the fulfilment of the parts now in debate, regard the six last verses as still future, and refer them strictly to Syria and Egypt.
(4). Lastly, the incongruity, even in Mede, More, Newton, and the others, who apply the last verses to the Saracens and the Turks, is more apparent than real. For Egypt was the first conquest of the Saracens, and northern Syria of the Turks, by which they entered on the theatre of the Roman empire. The excuse which Bishop Newton offers is therefore superfluous, and the objection vanishes altogether.
11. The symbolical construction given to the prophecy is a further objection. " It is hard to conceive (it is said), without better proof than commentators have in this case given, that the interpretation of symbols should be no less symbolical than the symbols themselves” (p. 184).
There is only one reply to be made to such arguments, namely, that there is not a particle of truth in the implied assertion on which it rests. Not one clause, I believe, of the whole chapter, and certainly not one single verse of the first twenty-nine, is explained as symbolical by any one expositor who has come in my way. To be specific, I may name, among others, Jerome, Theodoret, Melancthon, A Lapide, Maldonatus, Mede, More, Wintle, Venema, the two Newtons, Cuninghame, and Faber.
12. The last objection forms a climax to all the rest. The Lecturer thinks that “no unprejudiced person would conclude that the wars described in the prophecy were to extend beyond a period which might be the natural lives of individuals;" and he "adheres to the literal and obvious meaning of the prophecy, that the same individual kings are spoken of throughout the prediction, and that the kings of the north and the south, and the wilful king, are all as yet to come" (pp. 185, 186).
The reasoning of this extract may be stated in a plainer form. The angel begins the history, in express terms, with the three kings of Persia, who next followed Cyrus, and should yet stand up; and extends it, just as plainly, to the resurrection. Therefore “every unprejudiced reader will conclude” that it is comprised in a single lifetime. The angel, again, tells us that the king of the south is succeeded in his own estate by a branch from the root of his daughter, after the father that begat her has been destroyed. Therefore “ every unbiassed reader” will infer that the same king of the south is meant throughout the vision.
The angel further informs us that the king of the north being more short-lived than the king of the south, his sons will renew the war; that one of them will continue it with all the power of the kingdom ; that the king of the south will fight with this son, the king of the north; that this last-named king of the north will stumble and fall, and not be found ; and that a raiser of taxes will rise up in his estate, in the glory of the kingdom. Also, that a vile person succeeds the raiser of taxes in the same estate, and will obtain the kingdom
by flatteries. Therefore Dr. Todd “adheres to the literal and obvious meaning, that the same king of the north is spoken of throughout the whole prophecy," and to the view, equally literal and obvious, that the vile person is not a king of the north at all! Can the credulity of ignorant readers be more wretchedly abused than by such assertions ? Can trifling with the words of God be carried further than when such follies are published as expositions of a sacred prophecy ?
I have now examined all the Lecturer's objections, which embolden him to reject the common belief of Christians from the earliest times. It is difficult, without a seeming breach of courtesy, to describe them as they deserve, and I willingly omit the unpleasant task, since every reader has the means of forming his own judgment. One remark only I will venture to make, in the full assurance both of its truth and of its practical importance. The only light which the present Lecture can throw upon the meaning of prophecy must be of a reflex kind. For if assertions, utterly untrue in themselves, and which undermine the foundations of the Christian evidences, can thus be advanced and received without scruple ; if reasonings and principles, more incredulous than those of infidels themselves, pass without censure, and even gain currency and approval in the Church, there will be a proof, far stronger than any direct arguments which the Lectures supply, that the reign of open infidelity is, indeed, near at hand.
THE SEVENTY WEEKS.
THERE are two points which still remain to be considered in this first part of the inquiry into the Futurist interpretations of Daniel. These are, the, prophecy of the seventy weeks, and the general conclusions which result from the previous steps of this examination.
VI. THE PROPHECY OF THE SEVENTY WEEKS.
There has been a very general consent, among
Chris.. tian interpreters of all ages, on the leading objects of this prophecy. It is viewed by them as a chronological prediction, expressed in weeks or sevens of years, and which has for its leading events the first appearance and crucifixion of our Lord, and the fall of Jerusalem under Titus and the Roman power.
The precise adjustment of its parts, however, has given rise, from the earliest times, to great diversity of opinion. St. Jerome enumerates seven expositions of the ancients, and Mr. Faber twice as many of the moderns. The second of these lists might be very greatly increased. Yet there are three principles in which perhaps all of them, without exception, agree. First, that the two main subjects foretold are the first advent and death of Messiah, and the destruction of the Jewish polity. Secondly, that the periods are to be reckoned as weeks, not of days, but of years. And, thirdly, that sixty-two, sixty-nine, or seventy such weeks were to elapse between one of the Persian decrees named in