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for ever, that it shall be for a time, times and a half, and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished. And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go [187] thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end." It is here plainly implied that at the time of the end, the words should be unsealed. Have we then any guide to teach when this unsealing should begin? The tenth of Revelation supplies this. There the angel of the covenant, who had appeared in the vision to Daniel, appears afresh with a little book

open

in his hand. He repeats the solemn oath, but with the marked variation that there shall be time no longer, but he then gives the book to the apostle to eat, as a token of the insight into its meaning, now granted, (Amos ii. 7. Ezekiel ii. 8; iii. 10.) and then adds the commission, “Thou must prophesy afresh before many people, and nations, and tongues and kings.” Now to what season does this refer? It immediately follows the two woe trumpets of the ninth chapter; and these so clearly relate to those two scourges of the church, the Saracens and the Turks, that they have been the great land-marks in which almost every interpreter has agreed, however widely their schemes have diverged in other respects. The vision of the tenth chapter must, therefore, relate to the time of the Reformation, the next great event of history, and accordingly from that period the unsealing began, and the enlarged meaning of the prophetic times was unfolded to the church of God.*

Other intimations are given us in the scriptures that may lead us to the same view of a day, in symbolical prophecies, pointing out a year.

Our Lord told Herod, “I do cures to-day, and to-morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected,” [188] (Luke xiii. 32,) where he seems clearly to refer to years. The ten days of Smyrna's tribulation have been, with strong reason, referred to the ten years of persecution under Diocletian, immediately before the exaltation of the church.

It is allowed that the evidence is not of a nature to convince an unwilling or captious mind. The Lord frequently does not give that evidence on very important facts and doctrines. But there is evidence that is weighty and important,-and, may I not add, satisfactory to a mind humbled to receive truth in the way in which it pleases the Lord to give it, and willing and glad to discern the signs of the times. We greatly need the en

* The period of three times and a half, and its variously expressed meaning as 1260 days and 42 months are mentioned in Revelation, but the periods of 1290 and 1335 are not mentioned.

VOL. II.-61

larged mind of God, to whom all things are present, in forming a judgment of times and purposes revealed by him who inhabileth eternity. A moral preparation is stated as a requisite, in the expression, none of the wicked shall understand. *

[189] A merely mechanical settling of dates in accuracy of numbers has a very injurious effect on the mind—but a moral and spiritual view of the times, arising from an enlarged perception of God's mind and glory, and the victories of his truth and love over all evil, and in harmony with all his revealed character, is exceeding profitable to the soul. A mechanical system will be found often to clash with other parts of truth; but the spiritual view is both edifying and harmonizes with all truth. An exact knowledge of the times does not appear to be designed; but a general knowledge of times, taking us out of an endless uncertainty, may be looked for in the use of means.

It has been noticed that there are many wise and holy ends connected with the concealment of the time. Its being given under mystical periods was essential to its concealment. This is an instance of that general truth, “I have many things to say

but
ye

cannot bear them now." John xvi. 12. There

unto you,

* The author has read with some care the objections that have been made, as far as he had an opportunity of seeing them, to the interpretation which would make a prophetical day to signify a year; especially those of Mr. Maitland and the late Bishop Horsley; but he abides by the long maintained exposition of the chief Protestant expositors of Prophecy, and of some in the Jewish as well as the Christian church, that in the prophecies, the time of the fulfilment of which was not intended to be made clear to those to whom they were delivered--a day means a year. But he has been led to think it probable that there may be a concentrated farther literal fulfilment, in part, at the close of the times of the Gentiles, according to the general expectation of the Fathers. Some of the reasons why a mystical number is used, are given above. He refers to the writings of Mede, Faber, Holmes, Cuninghame, and others, for farther proofs of this. The time of the commencement of the æra is more hidden in obscurity.

Some remarks of Benglius may remove difficulties in our minds, as to the consideration of dates. He observes, in his Gnomon on Rev. i. 3. “There are some who, through unquiet curiosity, miserably handle this most holy book; whence others, falling into an opposite extreme, hear unwillingly even the name Apocalypse, which ought of itself to allure them, and mistrust the book itself from the singular number of rash interpretations and conjectures void of truth. Hence, while they wish to know all things, they reject the knowledge of those only which the Lord declares will come to pass, and account the attempt to discover the truth a weariness; sloth to be modesty; silence to be pru. dence; and care for and enquire into any thing sooner than this, as if it had been written, Blessed is he that readeth not, and they that hear not, &c. Let them beware, lest while they invent all excuses for refusing the heavenly gift, they weary God (Isa. vii. 12, 13.) and be found THANKLESS toward Jesus Christ. Nay, blessed is he that readeth, and they who hear and keep, especially in our times, which, as we shall see, border, upon a great change. It is better in searching out the times, if only faith, hope, and love rule in the heart, to attempt to the utmost, and to be ridiculed, than with the freethinkers in this world, to despise warnings as paradoxes, and be crushed by the events.”

is an extent of light and truth which would be prejudicial to us, and confound by its very brightness. The church was not in a prepared state when Daniel [190] wrote, nor when the Revelation was given, for the full discovery of the times. We see Daniel earnestly inquiring for further light. It is in a measure given; and then he is content with that measure. We see the apostles asking the time of the restoration of the kingdom to Israel, and they are still told, “the Father hath put in his own power the times and seasons;” and content with this, they enter on their arduous work. The hiddenness is good, while we so perfectly know the times and seasons, that we are looking for the Lord as a thief in the night. But when, in the lapse of the ages, in the time of the end, as Daniel speaks, or, as Peter speaks, in the last days, when scoffers rise up, and say, Where is the promise of his coming and the servants of the Lord are saying, My Lord delayeth his coming; then the Lord has provided that the words shall be unclosed and unsealed. Dan. xii. 4, 9.

We may learn hence the duty of searching to the utmost, as the prophets did, what manner of time the Spirit of Christ, which was in them, did signify; (1 Peter i. 11,) yet still remembering that the great object of such a knowledge is practical, and refers to preparedness for the day of the Lord. 1 Thess. v. l,

2. The first command with a threatening, was, not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Where knowledge is kept from us, hid under divine mysteries, let us abstain; where it is given to us, let us use it to the utmost.

But great humility is essential in all scriptural studies. The meek will he guide in judgment, the meek will he teach his way. It may be well supposed that the last book of scripture (Revelation) is the most [191] deep, instructive, sublime, and mysterious; as all God's works and ways rise in beauty and glory, from their beginning to their close. Need we wonder, then, at mistakes in the study of that book, and imperfect elucidations of its wonderful contents: especially if there be either the spirit of lurking unbelief, or the pride of systematic human wisdom.

How little could the church of God, or Daniel himself, have borne all the development of the history of his people, had the the desolation of 2520 years been openly revealed! How little could the primitive Christians have borne such a delay of their hopes, as 1800 years have manifested! but the Lord has done all things well, in mercifully veiling the trials of his church, and giving more and more light as the time of glory draws

nearer.

CHAPTER XIII.

CHRONOLOGICAL PROPHECIES.

[192] Chronological Prophecies have an important use. Though they may not be designed to enable us absolutely to fix the precise time in which such prophecies shall be accomplished, yet they are manifestly intended to guide the church in looking out and preparing for the event predicted. It was thus that Daniel, in the first year of the reign of Darius, understood the accomplishment of the seventy years' captivity, (Daniel ix.) and thus the devout Jews were waiting for the first coming of Christ. Luke ii. 25, 38.

It would be a grievous error in the church to disregard such prophecies. Because many in past ages have made serious mistakes respecting the dates, we must not, therefore, in the spirit of infidelity, refuse to consider them, as if they were full of danger and evil. The mistakes of others should lead us to more caution, and diligence, and prayer, in our researches, and more diffidence in our conclusions. But having now the advantage of a more lengthened manifestation of God's mind, from the past history [193] of the church, we have with this, greater light for the true interpretation. Because men, hundreds of years back, said, the coming of Christ was near to them, do not let us now say it cannot be near to us. The rolling away

of 1800 years must have brought it much nearer. Because they anticipated the event before the time, do not think it will not come suddenly, and cannot be at the doors, and that it is not your duty to look for it and expect it.

Oh unhappy perversion of preceding mistakes! by which Satan gains this immense advantage; that wise and holy, that cautious and good men, are brought into a state either of neglect of that word of prophecy, which is a light shining in a dark place until the day dawn, and to which GoD HAS EXPRESSLY COMMANDED US TO TAKE HEED; or of hampering it with such rules as almost to shut out the study from the general body of the church. Oh, deep design of Satan! by which he accomplishes that predicted dangerous state of men in general, before the day of the Lord come: was a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth,” Luke xxi. 35. "When the Son of man cometh shall he find faith on the earth,” Luke xviii. 8. Let us not be signorant

The 70 years

of his devices," 2 Cor. ii. 11. How perfectly contrary is this to the mind of the holy prophets! 1 Peter i. 10, 11.

The first prophetical period brought before us in the scriptures, is 120 years, (Gen. vi. 3,) when "once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah:” (1 Peter iii. 20,) the more affecting to us in these last days, as the world then was, in general unbelief and worldliness, in a similar state to that in which it is to be before the coming of Christ. Luke xvii. [194] 26, 27. Matt. xxiv. 37–39. Boothroyd's translation of the passage in Genesis is striking, Jehovah said, "My Spirit shall never pronounce judgment on men unwarned. They are but flesh. Their days therefore shall yet be 120 years.

Many of the predictions of scripture have a mark attached to them, of the time in which they were to be fulfilled. Such are the 430 and 400 years of the Israelites being in Egypt. Gen. xv. 13; Exod. xii. 40. The 65 years predicted by Isaiah, in which Israel was to be broken. Isa. vii. 8. of Judah's captivity. Jer. xxix. 10. The 70 weeks, or 490 years, in which Messiah was to be cut off. Dan. ix. 24, 25. The 2300 days or years, at the end of which the sanctuary is to be cleansed, and no longer trodden under foot. Dan. viii. 14. The period of 1260 days or years, of the dominion of the papal power, predicted under the varied terms of time, and times, and half a time, (Dan. vii. 25. Rev. xii. 14;) 42 months, (Rev. xi. 2; xiii. 5.) or 1260 days, (Rev. xi. 3, and xii. 6); the father periods of 30 days and 45 days, included in the 1290 and 1235 days or years. Dan. xii. 11, 12. The mystical period of an hour, a day, a month, and a year, which is interpreted either as 396 years, or as 391 years and a month, or as 390 years by those who consider the hour and day as denoting rather the season than a specific part of the time, has had several different dates assigned for its commencement: this period is reckoned by Mr. Habershon from the capture of Constantinople, when artillery was used (Rev. ix. 17.) with such success by Mahummud II. in 1453; the termination of the Turkish woe would thus be brought down to 1844, or 1843.

[195] One of the most important chronological prophecies is that of the 70 WEEKS OF DANIEL. The interpretation which most satisfies the author's mind from its simplicity, and following the order of the text, is this-The 70 weeks of v. 24, is a definite period of 490 years ecclesiastically complete, from the decree of Artaxerxes given to Ezra, 458, to the death and resurrection of our Lord in A. D. 33, which makes exactly 490 years. The period from which this era is to be reckoned, is to be gathered from the vision (v. 23.) of which it is the explanation. In that vision Daniel asks the question,

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