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ON PROPHETIC INTERPRETATION.
At a time like the present, when so many, feeling a conviction from the multiplication of signs around, that the church and world, are upon the verge of some mighty change, to be ushered in by none less than the Son of Man himself, it is to be lamented that certain positions in prophetic interpretation are too frequently taken for granted; either because others, whose opinion is respected, have adopted the same course; or that such positions may be plausible and convenient, and thus are made certain stepping stones to higher points; the person thus acting not considering that they may be treading upon some of those very ends sought after. What I more particularly allude to at present-in fact, that which drew forth these observations-is, that the “ king of fierce countenance” of Dan. viii. is by most imagined to foretel the rise of Mohammed, and the spread of his religion ; and also that the 1290 and 1335 days of Dan. xii. mean prophetic years, and have a common commencement with the "time, times, and half” of Dan. vii. and xii. : the validity of all which assumptions I conceive there is good reason to call in question.
It is written, “ The words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end ;” and again, “ The wise shall understand." Without, therefore, pretending to any superiority of natural attainments, there can be no impropriety in my endeavouring (praying for and expecting the Holy Spirit's aid) to be amongst the wise who understand, imagining, as I do, that the end is approaching. But how is wisdom to be obtained ? The Scripture says, “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him." And again it is written, “If thou searchest for her as for hid treasure, then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of the Most High.” True knowledge and wisdom must come from God; but God generally blesses means: “ Blessed is he that readeth.” And if God has set forth all wisdom in his word, in his word we should seek for it. This has led me to search in the Book of Daniel for the purpose of ascertaining whether the present received interpretations are in all points consistent with the text. But I would rather content myself at present with throwing out a few hints, hoping they may induce others also to examine; for if it be befitting us to read, it surely is befitting us in every case to search after the truth.
The gradual increase of light throughout the several visions vouchsafed to Daniel seems truly wonderful, and should lead us carefully to peruse and study them as a whole. Thus, the vision in chap. ii. I conceive points out the fact of territorial possession *; that in vii., powers, or principles, ruling in and over these territories (for the beasts are set in opposition to the saints); whilst viii., more fully set forth in the succeeding chapters, points out striking individual characters to arise in these territories, and whilst these principles bear sway, and whose rise and fall should warn us of the coming kingdom of Christ.
The principal part of the vision in chap. viii. is evidently concerning the king of fierce countenance, but it is also expressly declared to refer to the “last end of the indignation:” at the time of the end shall be the vision," in which this kings plays SO conspicuous a part. Now that chaps. viii., xi., and xii. refer to the same events, is evident-at least if we may judge from the striking marks of coincidence they contain, which, if attentively considered, without further comment might induce any one to doubt respecting the right application of any portion of viii. to Mohammed. But where, let me ask, is Mohammed? Where is the head to crush? Very different is the case with the Papal apostasy: for if any ask me, Where is its head ? I answer, In the Pope at Rome; where it ever was from its rise, and will be till its fall. Mohammed rose at Mecca; but if Mecca were destroyed, would it follow as a natural consequence that Mohammedanism would fall too? But destroy the head and spring of Popery, and where would it be? It is now little other than a name cloaking infidelity : it would then, and, since it is foretold in God's unerring word as about to happen, surely will, cease to exist.
In a few words, my view is, that the king of fierce countenance is the infidel king of the last days to And my principal argument to establish this rests upon the declared fact that the vision refers principally to the time of the end : and the time of the end in viii. I cannot but think means the same period as that in xi.; if so, the latter is only now arriving; and again of xii. till when the vision shall be closed.
Compare, then, the following: after which I would briefly comment upon a few passages as they occur : Chap. viii. 9 with Chap. xi. 41-43;
10 and 24
27 and 35, and xii. 9, 10
24 and 36, and Rev. xvii. 17 25
37, 43, 45. At our Lord's first appearing the former part of Dan. viii. * A stone, in opposition to an image.
+ Springing from the Western Roman Empire, of which we have strong negative proof; for we are told in xi. that the kings of the North and South push at him, and that he passes over, subduing Egypt, &c. to the East : he therefore comes from the West.
had received its fulfilment, and the fourth monarchy, the Roman power, bore sway over the whole prophetic earth. Now Christ himself refers to Daniel expressly, and points out the Roman power as the desolator ; why, then, seek for it elsewhere ? "Mohammed might have been a king of fierce countenance, but he no longer exists: and there is a fiercer than he evidently to arise yet; as (see Isai. xiv. 26; Ezek. xxxviii. 17; xxxix. viii; Dan. viii. 23) the king of fierce countenance was not to arise till the transgression had come to the full ; see Matt. xxiv., Mark xiii., Luke xxi. The Roman powers are the transgressors; and the times of the Gentiles the period during which desolations were determined ; and at the conclusion of which “that determined should be poured upon the desolator.” Observe the end of the king of viii.: “He shall stand up against the Prince of princes, but he shall be broken without hand;" and xi. “ He shall come to his end, and none shall help him ;” and as compared with Rev. xvii. 13, 14, “ These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them;" and xix. 20, 21. The desolations seem to have reference to Daniel's people (x. 14), which causes bim so much concern: “I am come to make thee understand what shall befal thy people in the latter days; for yet the vision for days.” But Mohammedanism cannot be said to have been a scourge particularly directed against the Jews, who had been for centuries before its rise scattered by the Roman power, the desolator, to the four winds, and their country under desolation. Observe chaps. viii. 11-14; xi. 36 : “Shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished ; for that determined shall be done.” viii. 17, 19: “ The time appointed the end shall be.” xi. 35: “ End is yet for a time appointed.” x. 14: “Days,” evidently looks beyond natural days; for (x. 1) “ the time appointed was great." I conceive the END, in all cases of this prophecy, as vii. 26, &c. &c., to refer to one end-namely, the end of the Gentile dispensation, when God will bring again his ancient people, the children of Israel, as Ezek. xxxix. 27.
The period 2300 days seems to end every tribulation, and all wars, and to usher in that time when men shall learn war no more ; as compare the visions of Daniel with Isai. xiv., Ezek. xxxviii. xxxix: “Behold, it is come, and it is done: this is the
. day, and the purpose purposed upon the earth.” If so, the Millennium will then commence with the binding of Satan; and that period (2300), as light at present is vouchsafed, appears to end about the year 1847; but most interpreters, conceiving the 1290 and 1335 days of Dan, xii. to have common commencement with the period “time, times, and half,” are carried twenty years beyond the time, even to 1867. Now, respecting these two numbers, it is worthy of note that the 2300 days of chap.
viii., and “time, times, and half” of xii., were not given to Daniel in answer to any question of his-who declares that he had understanding of the vision, as set forth in x. xi. xii.but by one heavenly messenger to another: upon the giving of which Daniel declares he understood not; but seeing, although the time was long, at its close an awful time of trouble was to fall out upon the church and world, intimately connected with his people's welfare, he asks what shall be the end of these things ? The previous answer was to the question of the heavenly messenger, “ How long to the end ?” but the latter question, put by Daniel himself, was, “What shall be the end” itself? Now we can hardly conceive the end will be as long as the long time to it; for “ a short work will the Lord make upon the earth, and “the third woe cometh quickly:" and this third woe, and seventh and last trumpet of Rev. xi., seems to me to be the end ; for in Rev. x. the same heavenly being appears as to Daniel in xii. 7, and declares “ time should be no longer; but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.” Christ declared, respecting this awful end, that "the days are shortened, for the elect's sake.” May it mean that one of these periods, 1290 and 1335, are struck off from the awful time of trouble more terrible than ever yet has visited this globe?
Introductory to the end (Dan. xi.), the daily sacrifice is to be taken away, to set up the abomination which maketh desolate: this, I conceive, is yet to be fulfilled. Bonaparte did nothing answerable to this, that I can recognise; and this overthrow of all visible religion seems to be reserved as preparatory to the introduction of the king of fierce countenance understanding dark sayings.
From the literal manner in which the different events recorded in the former part of chap. xi. have had their fulfilment, and the plain unemblematical manner in which the whole is written, I conceive, in the answer to Daniel's question, 1290 and 1335 days mean literal days (the 2300 are styled “evenings-mornings” in margin). Whether they have a common commencement, or are given with a division for reason as above hinted, I know not. The omission in xii. 7 of the 2300 days, although understood apparently by the expression “When he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people all these things shall be finished," seems intentional, lest emblematical and literal days, introduced in the same interpretation, might confuse the inquirer.
These views, however novel, should not hastily be rejected ; for, remember, the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. They have not been hastily adopted. But whether they be right or wrong, let none be deterred from seeking after
the TRUTH; bearing in mind what is written 2 Pet. i. 19: “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a durk place.” And how should we, in a dark and dangerous path, hold a light? Behind, or before us ? ?
S. Aug. 1830.
RELIGIOUS PERIODICALS. MANY cogent reasons thereunto moving, induce us to direct the attention of our readers to the following leading article of a newspaper called The Record, which is the organ of that sect of the Christian world called, and calling itself, par excellence, Evangelical.
• In one of those vehement tirades against the“ Evangelicals," • in which the writers in the Morning Watch are unhappily wont ' to indulge, we observe, in the last number, that our own jour• nal receives a portion of abuse, as the organ of the “religious
world.” We are neither anxious to disclaim nor appropriate to • ourselves the characteristic which is thus bestowed upon the • Record. Our anxious desire is to be found on the Lord's side, * and consequently on the side of his people; while we endeavour « at the same time to lift up our voice, in earnest protestation,
against all those evils and corruptions which abound in our land, whether they be found among those who are of the world, · who love the world, and whom the world acknowledges for its . own, or whether they have been introduced by the enemy into “the bosom of the true flock of Christ.'
The evils of a system can be shewn by only one of two methods : either by selecting a publication which is as much as possible the authorized expositor of the principles of that system, or by selecting as examples certain individuals who are venerated by the members of the system as their heads and leaders. We think, whether rightly or wrongly we wave for the present, that the Evangelical system of religion contains much evil. We have chosen the public journals, the Record and the World, and the magazines, as the expositors of that system, because we have been thereby enabled to expose the evil without attacking private individuals, or “smiting the brethren." Whether our observations merit the characteristics of “ vehement tirades," and "abuse,” is not for us to decide: if they do, we have erred in our manner of doing only that which the Record avows to be its intention also-namely, " to lift up our voice in earnest protestation against all those evils and corruptions which abound in our land," and which “ have been introduced into the bosom of the true flock of Christ.'