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A DISSERTATION, &c.
IN the Prophecies of Daniel and St. John frequent mention is made of a certain period, during which, for wise purposes unknown to us, the enemies of God should be allowed to persecute and oppress his Church. This period is indifferently described as consisting of three times and a half, 42 months, or 1260 days : for, if we reckon a time or a year to contain 360 days, 42 months, or 1260 days, will in that case be exactly equal to three such years and a half. In the language of prophecy however, as it is well known, natural years are termed days. Hence 1260 days mean 1260 years : and, by a parity of reckoning, 42 months mean so many months of years; and three years and a half the same number of years of years. Consequently the period, during which the Church is to be oppressed by her enemies, amounts to 1260 natural years.”
* That days mean years, may, I think, be proved, so far as matters of this nature are capable of proof, from the writings even of Daniel and St. John themselves.
We may venture to assume, that the same mode of computation, which is used by these writers in one passage, will be used by them in all other passages; at least in all those, which are marked by the common feature of treating, not of the fate of individuals, but of the fortune of communities. Hence, if any of their numerical prophecies be already accomplished, we shall thereby have a clue for ascertaining the proper method of interpreting all the rest.
Upon these principles, when we find that Daniel's famous prophecy of the 70 weeks has been proved by the event of our Lord's advent to speak of 70 week, of year, or 490 years, we may infer that his three years and a half mean years of 3ears, and that his 2300, 1290, and 1335, day, mean the same number of natural years. In a similar manner, finding equally from the event that the ten days persecution of the courth of Smyrna mean the ten years persecution carried on by Diocletian, that the five months ravages of the Saracenic locust, mean 150 years, and that the year, the month, the *ay, and the bour, of the Euphratean horsemen mean 391 years and 15 days : we may thence infer, that St. John's three years and a half are years of years ; his 42 months; months of years ; and his 1260 days and his three days and a bals, the same aumber of natural years. But we find, that the three years and a half, the 42 months, and **
WOL. I. 4.
Both Daniel and St. John have given us abundantly sufficient reasons for concluding, that this period of persecution and trouble has no connection with the persecutions which the Church endured from the pagan Roman Emperors. The first of these prophets, in his vision of the four great beasts or empires,” intimates, that the power, into whose hand the saints should be
days, are all plainly descriptive of one and the same period: hence we are circumstantially led to conclude, even a priori, that they all denote the same space of time. If then we adopt the ancient mode of computing by years of 360 days each, we shall find that by such a mode of computation three years and a half exactly contain 42 months or 1260 days ; hence we are numerically led to conclude, that the three expressions are only different modes of describing one and the same period. The result of the whole is, that prophetic day, mean years : and that the three years and a half, the 42 months, and the 1260 days, are alike used to denote 1260 natural years.
I am aware, that a year is sometimes used in its literal sense, as in Isaiah vii. 8. xxiii. 17. Jerem. xxv. 11, 12, and even by Daniel himself when predicting the punishment of the individual Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. iv. 25.); yet other instances may be brought, as well as those already adduced, to prove that days, in the language of prophecy, mean years.
“After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty ło, (Numb. xiv. 34.) “Lie thou also upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it : according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon it, thou shalt bear their iniquity. For I have laid upon .. the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. And, when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days : I have appointed thee each day for a year.” (Ezek, iv. 4, 5, 6)
The only writers, that I have met with, who are unwilling to allow the three timer and a half to be the same period as the 1260 days, are Mr. Burton and Mr. Galloway. The former asserts, without a shadow of authority from Daniel, that each time comprehends 70 prophetic weeks or 490 years, merely because the famous prophecy relative to the Messiah, includes a period of 70 weeks ; (Dan. ix. 24.) and he dates the three time, and a balf from the year 49, or the preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles: consequently they bring him down to the year 1764, when the Jesuits were suppressed. Now, independent of his having no warrant for asserting, that a time comprehends 70 weeks, the event itself has shewn him to be mistaken : for, whenever the three times and a half shall expire, the jews will begin to be restored. (See Dan. xii. 7.) A time however, as we learn from Daniel himself, is a year. (Dan. iv. 25.) But a year, according to the old computation, comprehends 360 days, not 70 weeks. Each time, therefore, must comprehend 360 prophetic days. Consequently three such times and a half are exactly equal to 1260 days. Whence we may naturally conclude, that the two expressions mean the same period. In addition to these objections to Mr. Burton's scheme, it may be observed, that Daniel directs us to date the three times and a half from the era when the saints were delivered into the hand of the little born. (Dan. vii. 25.) The little Horn, however, was not to arise until the Roman Empire was divided into ten kingdoms. (Dan. vii. 8.) It will follow, therefore, that the three time, and a half cannot be dated from the year 49, which expired long before the Empire was thus divided. (Burton's Essay on the Numbers of Daniel and St. John, p. 247, at infra.) Mr. Galloway maintains, that the three times and a half are merely three natural years and a half. Yet he asserts, that the 1260 days are not natural but prophetic days. The use which he makes of this separation of the two periods from each other, shall be considered hereafter. The Papists maintain the 1260 days to be mere natural days. This they do for obvious reasons.
* Daniel vii.
given during the appointed period of 1960 years, should begin to arise in the age in which the last beast, or the Roman Empire, was divided into ten horns or kingdoms. The Roman Empire, however, was not thus divided till after it had become Christian, and till all the persecutions of the pagan Emperors had ceased. . Whence it will necessarily follow, that the period of 1260 years cannot include the persecutions of Paganism, and that the power symbolized by the little horn of the Roman beast must be some power at once posterior to and distinct from the line of the pagan Emperors. The second of these prophets, in a similar manner, describes a variety of important events as taking place between his own age and that in which the 1260 years may be supposed to have commenced ; and, like Daniel, teaches us, that the date of those 1260 years is to be sought for, not at any era while the Roman Empire was one great monarchy, but after it had been broken into ten kingdoms. Independent indeed of chronological considerations, the very term of 1260 years plainly shews, that that period can have no relation to the tyranny of pagan Rome. Constantine published his famous edict for the encouragement of Christianity, and the abolition of all persecution, in the year 313. The primitive Church, therefore, was only subject to the malice of Paganism during the space of 313 years :* whereas it is, more or less, to be subjected to the malice of the little horn during the space of 1260 years.
But, although the pagan Roman Empire, has no connection with the persecution of 1260 years, we are evidently to look for the grand promoter or promoters of it within the limits of the old Roman Empire. The little horn, the ten horns, and the last head of the fourth beast, all arise out of that beast; the Roman Empire, therefore, must necessarily comprehend every one of these powers.
So again : since the Roman for: had embraced Christianity previous to its division into ten kingdoms, since all those ten kingdoms were converted very soon after their foundation, and since the little horn is represented as being contemporary with them, and as springing up among them ; the little horn, whatever it may be designed to symbolize, must be some power at least nominally Christian. This point is proved by history : for, at the time when the Roman Empire was divided, we shall in vain look for the rise of any pagan power within the limits of the Empire, that at all answers to the prophetic character of the little horn. Yet it is manifest, that the little horn must have been long since in existence, because it is described as first beginning to make its appearance at the era of the division of the Roman JEmpire.
* This will of course be understood as only a loose computation. It serves, however, for the present purpose, as well as a more exact one.
If then the little horn be the type of some Christian power, it must be one that has greatly fallen away from the purity and simplicity of the primitive Church ; because it is described as wearing out the saints during the space of three times and a half or 1260 natural years, and as speaking great words by the side of the Most High so as to place itself upon an equality with God.
The nature both of this power, and of its apostacy, we are clearly taught by St. John. In the Apocalypse the same ten-horned beast or Roman Empire, as that mentioned by Daniel, is described as standing in the wilderness. Here, however, he appears without his little horn; and instead of it is represented as supporting a harlot, who, precisely like the little horn, is said to be a great persecutor of the faithful ; for St. John beheld her “drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” Now we learn from the ancient prophets, that an adulterous woman is the type of an apostate and idolatrous church :* the apocalyptic harlot, therefore, must symbolize some such church. But St. John tells us, that this harlot is the great city which in his time reigned over all the kings of the earth, and whose seat of empire was founded upon seven hills: the harlot, therefore, must be some apostate church, whose influence extends over all the kings of the earth, and whose seat is in the seven-hilled city Rome.
* See Isaiah Ivii. 3—10. Jerem. ii. 20. iii. 1–20. Ezek. xvi. xxiii.