« VorigeDoorgaan »
year, which, according to this mode of computation, consisted of 360 days, falling short of the solar year 5 days and some fractional parts. And as 42 lunar months contain 1260 days, the same length of time is meant in both texts, in the one called 42 months, and in the other a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
2d, According to the style of prophecy, a day is put for a year; a month of 30 prophetic days must therefore be a period of 30 years, and 42 prophetic months a period of 1260 years.—In proof of a day being put for a year, many instances might be selected from Scripture; the following may suffice. Ezekiel was ordered to lie on his right side, and bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days, which was explained to be meant of an equal number of years; I have appointed thee,' says God, each day for a year,' Ezek. iv. 6. In the prophecies of Daniel, the same mode of calculation is employed. There we read of 70 weeks being determined upon God's people, and the holy city, to finish the transgression, and make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy,' Dan. ix. 24. Few interpreters understand this celebrated prophecy of 70 weeks to be meant of 490 days; were it considered in this light, it would amount to little more than a year. But as we know that Messiah was cut off, transgression finished, and an everlasting righteousness brought in, 490 years after the æra from which that prophecy ought to be dated, every one must see that a day is put for a year, a week for 7 years, and 70 weeks for 490 years.-The subject of the prophecy under consideration is sufficient to determine in favour of the prophetical sense of the chronological terms employed in it. The 42 months are the season in which the outer court is possessed by the Gentiles, and the 1260 days are the period of the sackcloth condition of the witnesses. The one is the season of the dominant state of the Man of Sin, and the other of the low debased condition of the true church;-and no one supposes that
1260 natural days comprehend the duration of the one or the other. Neither the reign of Antichrist, nor the wilderness state of the church, was to be brought so soon to a termination. It must therefore be admitted, that prophetic time is here meant, and that these 42 months, or 1260 days, are to be understood of the same number of years, each day being put for a year.
The measure or length of a prophetic day being ascertained to be a year, the only point in the chronology of these verses that is necessary to be settled at present, is the length of the prophetical year. Does it consist of 365 natural days, or only of 360? Is it a solar or a lunar year? On this branch of the subject, interpreters are of very different sentiments. Many think, that as the statement is given in months as well as in days, lunar and not solar years must be intended; and as 42 months, containing 30 days each, each day being put for a year, fall 18 years short of 1260, they suppose that the precise period of time described in these verses is only 1242 years. Others think, that the period mentioned must be understood of solar, and not of lunar time; because, when the Jews spoke of a succession of years, they always meant such as were measured by the sun. That the different religious festivals might be celebrated in their appointed seasons, they were under the necessity of reconciling their year with the course of the sun, by introducing an intercalary month every third year. Hence, when they spoke of a single year, they meant only 12 lunar months, unless it happened to be their leap year, and then they meant 13 months; but as in every leap year their calendar was reconciled with the course of the sun,-when they spoke of any length of time exceeding two years, they always meant that sort of time which is measured by the sun. Here the succession is long; it amounts to 1260 years: it is therefore supposed, that solar and not lunar years are intended. The method of stating the same period, in a subsequent part of this book, considerably strengthens this presumption. In chap. xii. 14., it is called a time, and times, and half a time.
Lewis' Heb. Ant. v. 4.
last method of statement is manifestly taken from Dan. xii. 7. ; and as his computations are according to solar time, it is exceedingly improbable that John would have used the same singular phraseology, unless he had meant to convey the same sentiments by it that his predecessor has done.
In corroboration of this last opinion, it may be mentioned, that an instance can hardly be produced from Scripture, in which, when a series of years is spoken of, it is meant of any other than solar time. Corresponding to the 40 days in which the spies were employed searching out the land, the rebellious Israelites were doomed to wander 40 years in the wilderness. If these years consisted only of 360 days each, the peregrinations of that people must have been 200 days shorter than all interpreters have supposed; or rather, if they were measured by the changes of the moon, they must have been more than a whole year short of what has been supposed; as 12 lunar months are 11 days short of a solar year, and in a period of 40 years, the deficiency is considerable. The 400 years' affliction in Egypt, the 70 years' captivity in Babylon, and the 70 weeks from the date of the decree to restore and build Jerusalem till the death of Messiah, are all understood to be measured by the course of the sun. What reason then can be assigned why this prophecy should be understood in any other sense?
The proof of the fulfilment of prophetical chronology depends as much upon the principle of computation as upon ascertaining the true æra of the prediction. Though the date of the 1260 years were settled, unless it were also determined whether they were to be calculated by the revolutions of the sun, or by the changes of the moon, we could not know to what extent they would reach, or when they would come to a termination. It was therefore necessary to settle the precise length of a prophetical day, month, and year, before we proceeded any farther in the explication, as the greater part, if not the whole of the events of the little book fall to have their
accomplishment within a certain given period of 1260 days, or 42 months.
On this part of the subject I shall only remark farther, that the sackcloth state of the witnesses, and the profanation of the court by the Gentiles, are co-existent. The 42 months of the Gentiles, and the 1260 days of the witnesses, commence at the same period. The possession of the court by the former is the true cause of the sackcloth state of the latter; they must therefore have their commencement together. But 42 months and 1260 days are equal periods, and therefore they must also terminate together. When the Gentiles are expelled from the court, the sackcloth of the witnesses will be put off, and clothing of a very different description will be put on.
Here an important question might be considered, viz. When did this period of 1260 days commence, and when did it come to a termination? Or if it is not yet run out, when is this to be expected?
Much has been written upon this subject. Few chronological questions have been more frequently considered. It has occupied the attention of almost every writer upon the Revelation; but to this day it remains nearly in the same degree of obscurity as when first stated. It may therefore be thought presumptuous to offer any opinion upon it. But, as all the true friends of the church long to see the dawn of her prosperity in the latter days, they would not be content that any question were passed over in silence, the proper answer to which would mark the age or period of time when that day might be expected to break. It is not therefore meant to shun the discussion; but unless many of those historical facts were stated, which it will be necessary afterwards to mention, in order to explain some of the most interesting prophecies in the subsequent parts of this book, it would be impossible to do that justice to the question here which its importance demands. When we have reviewed all the different descriptions of the Papal state, and of the sackcloth condition of the witnesses with which we are presented in those prophecies that yet re
main to be considered, we shall then have the whole of the prospective history of these two societies before us, and shall be better able to form a judgment respecting the commencement and termination of the 1260 days. Without entering upon this difficult chronological question at present, we shall conclude this Lecture with the following reflections :
1st, Every thing in the church ought to be regulated by the holy Scriptures. This unerring standard contains both the articles of her faith, and the ordinances of her worship; and if there be any thing in the constitution, laws, or ordinances of ecclesiastical bodies, which cannot bear to be examined by this standard, it ought to be treated as unclean and profane. Son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities, and let them measure the pattern,' Ezek. xliii. 10.
2d, In the public visible state of the church, evils of such magnitude and extent may spring up, that it may be difficult to perceive any thing remaining which corresponds with the rule of the Scriptures. Here the outer court was to be left without measurement, because it was to be given to the Gentiles, and the holy city they were to tread under foot. In that large association, which has proudly arrogated to itself the name of the Catholic church, you find almost nothing that is conformed to the rule of the Word. There is not a single ordinance of Christianity which is dispensed in its native simplicity among them; some rag of human invention is patched upon each of them; and those that are confessedly the most solemn and important, are generally the most disfigured by these wretched appendages.
3d, There are multitudes of Heathens under the name and profession of Christians. The profaners of the court are the blind devotees of the church of Rome; they call themselves Christians, but the Spirit of truth and inspiration, who cannot form a wrong estimate of the character of any public body, or of any individual, has given them a very different designation. In this text he calls them Gentiles; and by the depredations