« AnteriorContinuar »
Sect. 1. TEXT to the Divifions and Im
posed Obscurity of Prophecies is. the greatest Reproach to Religion. And I esteem all these three Scandals to be equally owing to the Infirmities, Follies, and Inventions of Men : And I speak this with a particular Regard to that Prophecy, which I have undertaken to explain.
Sect. 2. Very many of the Jews and Samaritans looked for Redemption about the Time of our Saviour's Birth; and they could argue themselves into this Expectation, from no other Prophecy, but this of the LXX Weeks. The Predi&tion of Jacob, Gen. xlix. 10. did not point out the Time when the Messias was to come, but only told what should follow fome Time after his coming. If the Sceptre bad departed from Juda, when it was put into the Hand of King Herod; then the Shilo must have been come thirty and odd Years before our Saviour's Birth. Both Herod and Archelaus were profeft Jews, and governed by the same. Authority. And therefore, if
the Sceptre did not depart from Juda, while it was held by the Father, neither did it depart, when it was given to the Son. There. fore this Prophecy was not fulfilled till the Jews were put under the immediate Government of Coponius, a known Heathen, about ten Years after the Birth of Christ. It must therefore have been this Prophecy of the LXX Weeks, which raised in the Jews an Expectation of their Messias, just at that Time when be did actually come.
Sect. 3.. And from this onė Confideration, we may Safely conclude, that the Jews did rightly understand this Prophecy in that Age, when it most concerned thein to understand it: And tbat in those latter Ages it hath univerPaily been mistaken. For all modern Interpreters agree in one Point; namely, that no Words contained in the Prophecy, do clearly ascertain the Beginning of the LXX Weeks to be at the very Time of the coming forth, and Publication of the divine Decree; but every one thinks himself at Liberty to fix the Commencement of the Weeks as the issuing of fome Commiffion of the Persian Emperors ; and fo run widely from one another, and from the Truth, and render the Prophecy perfeitly ufelefs to the Jews, who lived before Christ's Birth. For if the Beginning of the LXX Weeks u be uncertain, then the severat Periods mentioned in them, malt bave been liable to the fame Uncertainty abo ; and by Consequence
it had been impossible for the most pious and judicious, Jews, from this Prophecy to have . calculated the certain Time of Christ's Advent. But fince it appears that they from these
Words of Daniel did before-hand know the * Time of Christ's coming, which they could not
have done, if they had not been led to it by observing the Beginning of them, as it is
clearly exprest in the Text ; from thence it Fundeniably follows, that all our modern Ex
plications are not only false, but undervalu
ing, and derogatory, to the Prophecy it felf. EF For they suppose, that the certain Time of * Chrift's coming, was not intended to be made is known by it to the People who lived in the
Ages before ; nor indeed, to be any certain - } Proof, that he did come in his appointMense ed Time to us that live after the Completion.
For, if the precise - Year of the CommenceI ment of the Prophecy be not determined by
the Words of Daniel, or the Angel, all the reft must be Matter of mere Amusement, and Conjecture only. They indeed, who date the Weeks from the first Year of Cyrus (if they
mean the first of Darius the Mede) are in in this Repečt right; but then by not duly athttending to other parts of the Prophecy, they i have found themselves obliged to make Breaks,
or Leaps in the intermediate Times between
that rear and the coming of Christ. For like they have taken that for granted, which the Text does not fay (I mean, that the whole
LXX Weeks contain but four hundred ninety Years) and have not sufficiently confidered, what the Text does say to them that take tbe Angel Gabriel's Advice to Daniel, I mean, to have a Perception of the Word:
Sect. 4. I am so far from assuming to myself a Penetration or Sagacity, beyond those many and great Divines, who have committed the Mistakes now mentioned; that I do with all Sincerity acknowledge myself inferior to the least of them. Yet I may without Vanity confejś, ibat I have the Advantage of them in one Point; I mean, in having freed myself from a vulgar Prejudice, under which they laboured. For these great Men took the prefent Hebrew Text, as it is pointed by the Maforites, to be the only Standard of the true Sense and Meaning of the whole Old Testament. This I could never swallow, fince I knew that there was an old Translation made in the Greek Language, long before our Sa'viour's Birth; by Men that were profest Jews,
but under no Prejudice either for, or againit · the Gospel; and that the old Translation was revijed, and in many places corrected by Theodotion, who 'apostatized from the Chris ftian to the Jewish Religion, about a bundred and fifty Years after the Birth of Christ, and that this old Translation of the Book of Daniel, in particular, as it now stands in the Greek Bible, has the Emendations of Theodotion ; and that therefore we may safely