The tenth and eleventh chapters of Daniel furnish us with a detailed prediction of all the great leading events of Medo-Persian, Grecian, Roman, and finally of the papal history; closing up with the French revolution, the career of Napoleon Bonaparte, and the reign of Jesus Christ, at the resurrection of the just, and the glorification of all his saints, forever and ever. Then follows, from the fourth verse of chapter twelfth, a supplement of directions, questions and answers, which closes with the assurance that Daniel shall stand in his lot at the end of the 1335 days.

As the prophecy is extraordinarily explicit, and full, I shall enter more fully into an explanation of the historical detail it presents, than I have in other parts of this work.

And as I can see no way in which it can be materially improved, I shall give Bishop Newton's exposition of this prophecy entire, or at most with some slight alteration in the phraseology, to verse 14:

“It is the usual method of the Holy Spirit to make the latter prophecies explanatory of the for






mer; and revelation is (Prov. iv. 18) · As the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.' The four great empires of the world, which were shown to Nebuchadnezzar in the form of a great image, were again more particularly represented to Daniel in the shape of four great wild beasts. In like manner, the memorable events, which were revealed to Daniel in the vision of the ram and he-goat, are here again more clearly and explicitly revealed in his last vision by an angel; so that this latter prophecy may not improperly be said to be a comment and explanation of the former. This revelation was made, (x. 1,) in the third year of Cyrus, king of Persia,' when Daniel was very far advanced in years. For the third year of Cyrus was the seventy-third of Daniel's captivity; and being a youth when he was carried captive, he cannot be supposed now to have been less than ninety; and not long after this, it is reasonable to believe that he died. Old as he was, he set his heart to understand the former revelations which had been made to him, and particularly the vision of the ram and he-goat, as I think we may collect from the sequel: and for this purpose he prayed, and fasted three weeks. His fasting and prayers had the desired effect, for an angel was sent, and said unto him, verse 12: · Fear not, Daniel ; for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God; thy words are heard, and I am come for thy words.' And whoever would attain the same ends, and excel in divine knowledge, must pursue the same means, and habituate himself to study, temperance, and devotion. The angel declares the design of his coming, verse 14: “ Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days; for yet the vision is for many days.This prophecy therefore contains the fate and fortune of the people of God for many years. As it was said before, verse 1: · The thing was true, but the time appointed was long:' and consequently this prophecy must extend farther than from the third year of Cyrus to the death of Antiochus Epiphanes, which was not above three hundred and seventy years. In reality it comprehends many signal events after that time to the end of the world: but the types and figures of the things are not exhibited in this as in most of the other visions, and then expounded by the angel; but the angel relates the whole, and not by way of vision, but only by narration, informs Daniel of that which is noted in the Scripture of truth. Verse 21 : I will show thee that which is noted in the Scripture of truth;' as if future events were noted in a book before God: and this prophecy being taken from the Scripture of truth, is therefore deserving of our strictest attention; and we may depend upon the certainty of all the particulars contained therein, if we can but rightly understand and expound them.

“ The angel first prophesies of the Persian empire, which was then subsisting. xi. 2: Behold there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia ; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all; and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia.' There shall stand up yet; that is, after Cyrus, the founder of the empire, who was then reigning. Three kings in Persia; these were Cambyses, the son of Cyrus; Smerdis the Magian, who pretended to be another son of Cyrus, but was really an impostor ; and Darius, the son of Hystaspes, who married the daughter of Cyrus. And the fourth shall be far richer than they all. The fourth after Cyrus was Xerxes, the son and successor of Darius; of whom Justin truly remarks: " If you consider this king, you may praise his riches, not the general; of which there was so great abundance in his kingdom, that when rivers were dried up by his army, yet his wealth remained unexhausted.” Pythius, the Lydian, was at that time the richest subject in the world. He generously entertained Xerxes and all his army, and proffered him two thousand talents of silver, and three millions nine hundred ninety-three thousand pieces of gold with the stamp of Darius, towards defraying the charges of the war.

But Xerxes was so far from wanting any supplies, that he rewarded Pythius for his liberality, and presented him with seven thousand Darics, to make up his number a complete round sum of four millions. Each of these Darics was worth better than a guinea of our money. And by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all, both subjects and allies, against the realm of Grecia. Xerxes' expedition into Greece, is one of the most memorable adventures in ancient history. Herodotus affirms that Xerxes, in raising his army, searched every place of the continent, and it was the greatest army that ever brought into the field; for what nation was there, says he, that Xerxes led not out of Asia into Greece ? Herodotus lived in that age, and he recounts, with great exactness, the various nations of which Xerxes' army was composed, and


« VorigeDoorgaan »