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iv.] Obscurity involving them.
123 are surely come, to be reverently attentive to the prophetic dates; not to use them, as the generality of interpreters have vainly attempted, as a key to the sense of the prophecy: but, on the contrary, we should seek first the sense of the prophetic images ; and, last of all, we should seek such an exposition of the numbers as will adjust them to the date of those observed events. This is the only way in which the numbers will ever be explained'.”
Meanwhile, there is a trial of our faith and patience, as well as of our diligence and watchfulness, in discerning the signs of the times, and so preserving ourselves from the evil; and this we may do, though the knowledge of the times themselves be hidden from us. For “the vision is yet for an appointed time, and at the end it shall speak and not lie; though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith '.” There is a merciful purpose in all the orderings of His wisdom who spake the word of prophecy and governs the world of providence. “For the Lord is a God of judgment; blessed are all they that wait for him.” May we thus live, ever “ looking for and hasting unto” that which is the end of all vision and prophecy, even “the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which in his times he shall shew who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.”
9 Dissertation on the Prophetical Periods, published in the British Magazine, vol. iv.
Hab. ii. 3, 4.
“ And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palaces between the
seas in the glorious holy mountain ; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him."
The prophecy of which these words form part, and which, together with the description of the circumstances attending its delivery, occupies the last three chapters of the book of Daniel, may be regarded (as I have already had occasion to observe) as an inspired commentary on the vision which lately engaged our attention,—that of the ram and the he-goat. It differs from that and other prophetic portions of this book, in the distinguishing circumstance that we have not here, as elsewhere, the symbolical imagery of a prophetic vision, which is afterwards interpreted; but a direct prophecy, delivered by the mouth of the same Angelic being, as it would seem, who had before been sent to the prophet, to make him to understand the former vision.
It was in the third year of Cyrus, king of Persia, that this revelation was made to “ Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was
1 Preached Jan. 8, 1843.
Daniel's last Vision.
true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision ?” The prophet describes the appearance of the heavenly messenger whom he saw as he “was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel;” the awful majesty of his presence, and the amazement and terror with which it overwhelmed him; and how afterward, “an hand touched him," and raised him from the ground, and words of comfort and encouragement were spoken to him, —" 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 were heard, and I am come for thy words.” But while the prophet, for three whole weeks, bad been engaged in fasting and mourning, there had been a conflict among the powers in heavenly places and upon earth. “The
. prince of the kingdom of Persia," said the Angel, o withstood me one and twenty days : but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. 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 3.” Again the prophet fell to the ground when he heard words like these spoken unto him ; "and behold one like the similitude of the sons of men touched ” his lips, and enabled him to answer; "and there came again and touched” him “one like the appearance of a man, and strengthened ” him, “and said, O man, greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak;
2 Dan. x. 1.
3 Vv. 5-14.
[LECT. for thou hast strengthened me.
Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia : and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come. But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth : and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince. Also I in the first year of Darius the Mede, even I, stood to confirm and to strengthen him. And now will I shew thee the truth."
This passage, which immediately introduces the prophecy before us, with so strange a glimpse of that which the book of Revelation describes as “ war in heaven 5,” I have already had occasion to refer to , as furnishing what appears to me to be incontestable proof, that the kingdoms of Persia and Grecia spoken of in this prophecy, as well as in the vision of the ram and he-goat, were those of the ancient world, and not, according to a recent hypothesis, kingdoms yet future. The first few verses of the prophecy have been already considered, in their application as a comment on the former vision. “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 ?.” The prediction was exactly fulfilled in the history of the Persian monarchy. After Cyrus, in the third year of whose reign the prophecy was delivered, there stood up three kings in Persia, viz. Cambyses, Smerdis the Magian, and Darius the son of Hystaspes; and the fourth, Xerxes, was one who was distinguished by
4 Vv. 15—21. Chap. xi. 1, 2.
5 Rev. xii. 7.
127 nothing so much as by his “riches :" for, in the words of Justin, “ if you consider this king, you may praise but his riches, not the general ; of which there was so great abundance in the kingdom, that when rivers were dried up by the multitude of his army, yet the king's wealth remained unexhausted 8." And we know how, “by his strength through his riches,” he was able to “stir up all against the realm of Grecia.” The Greek historian tells us that, in making the levy of his army, Xerxes searched every place of the continent; for of the armies of which we know, “ this,” he says, “ was by far the greatest : for what nation was there, that Xerxes led not out of Asia into Greece ?" “ Nor was Xerxes content with stirring up the east, but was for stirring up the west likewise, and engaged the Carthaginians in his alliance, that, while he with his army overwhelmed Greece, they might fall upon the Greek colonies in Sicily and Italy; and the Carthaginians for this purpose not only raised all the forces they could in Asia, but also hired a great number of mercenaries in Spain, and Gaul, and Italy; so that their army consisted of three hundred thousand men, and their fleet of two hundred ships. Thus did Xerxes stir
“ up all against the realm of Grecia”.? And thus remarkably does every point in the prophetic description, few as are the lines drawn in the rapid sketch of events, correspond with the facts of the history.
From the invasion of Greece by Xerxes, the Angel passes on at once to the reign of the conqueror who, by the arms of Greece, overthrew the Persian empire. For it is manifestly of Alexander, as we have already seen, that the Spirit of prophecy
• See Bp. Newton, Diss. xvi. Part 1.