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v.] Trial of Faith and Patience. 153 wait, in faith and patience, as prophets did of old, abiding the time which shall at length clear up the mystery. Twenty years had well-nigh passed since the former vision, revealed to Daniel, had left him “ astonished” at its hidden import which “none understood ?;" and now, when it seemed as though its meaning were to be unfolded ’, darkness still rested upon it. “I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things ? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel : for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end." Meanwhile these disclosures, though still veiled in mystery, were to serve a moral purpose: like the events which they foretold, they were to try men's spirits, and reward the spiritually wise by deeper insight into their meaning. “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried ; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand 5.” Faith, and patience too, would be called into exercise; for, beyond the mystic period described as “a time, times, and an half”-i.e. as it would appear, three years and a half, or a thousand two hundred and sixty days—the time of trial was to extend to a thousand two hundred and ninety days, from the time that the daily sacrifice was to be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up 6.

2 Dan. viii. 27. The vision year of Cyrus king of Persia a of the ram and he-goat was thing was revealed unto Daniel, seen by the prophet “in the whose name was called Beltethird year of the reign of king shazzar; and the thing was Belshazzar,” (ver. 1.) i.e. A.D. true, but the time appointed 553. The later vision, and was long : and he understood prophecy of "the Scripture of the thing, and had understandtruth was “ in the third year ing of the vision.of Cyrus king of Persia," i.e. Chap. xii. 8, 9.

5 Ver. 10. Chap. x. 1. "In the third

6 Ver. 11.

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A. D. 534.

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Obscurity in regard to (LECT. It cannot be doubted, I think, that the events here referred to are the same which are described, whether in regard to the type or to the antitype, in the preceding prophecy; and if so, we have here a strong confirmation of the objection already urged against the application of that passage to the destruction of Jerusalem'. Interpreters, who differ widely on other points, seem agreed in referring the passage before us to the times of Antichrist. The dating of the periods here marked from the destruction of Jerusalem has been rendered impossible by time: twelve hundred and ninety years, taking the days as prophetic years, have long since expired, and the vision has not yet come to its close.

Into the question concerning these periods, their commencement and their termination, I shall not enter at present, especially as they will come before us again in the visions of the Revelation; I would only repeat the sound and valuable remark which I have before quoted from Bishop Horsley, that the times of prophecy are certainly the last things that will be understood.” And while it is our duty to watch the openings of prophetic events, and with this view “to be reverently attentive to the prophetic dates,” it seems expressly forbidden us to foreknow the times and the seasons: and therefore to undertake the task, is to expose ourselves not merely to the risk, but to the certainty of failure. For one thing, at least, the prophecy seems to prepare us,-namely, an apparent tarrying of the vision. Beyond the two periods already mentioned, a further period is marked, extending five and forty days beside. “Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to

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v.] the disclosures of Prophecy. 155 the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days 8.” What should take place at the end of those days was not further revealed, save as it was implied in the promise which assured to the “man greatly beloved” his own share in the happiness and glory of that blessed and holy consummation. “But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days o.

And may we, warned by the visions of Prophecy, and its fearful delineations of the manifold spirit of evil, so keep ourselves amid the perils of the latter days, and so faithfully watch and wait for the end, that, “purified and made white” in the day of trial, we may have our lot with “the people of the saints of the Most High” in the great day of recompense.

8 Ver. 12.

9 Ver. 13.

LECTURE VI.'

Rev. v. 8-10.

“ And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and

twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests : and we shall reign on the earth.”

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HAVING now considered, in order, the several visions in the book of Daniel which concern the Church of Christ and the power of Antichrist, we may proceed to that which must be regarded as the main subject of our inquiry-viz. the visions of a kindred character which are contained in the Revelation of St. John. Had this latter Divine book alone entered into our view, it would have been not less important to examine, as preliminary to it, the earlier disclosures of prophecy made to the “ man greatly beloved, " whose visions, in the general character of their imagery, as well as the prophetic periods—one in particular-marked out in them, re-appear, in so

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Character of the Apocalypse.

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remarkable a manner, in the revelations vouchsafed to the beloved disciple. The book of Daniel seems, as it were, the ante-chamber, the outer court and entrance of the sacred building whose inner sanctuary is more fully revealed in the visions of the Apocalypse. And our only hope of obtaining an insight into the meaning of these latter, must be in the careful study of the former-indeed, of all the preceding disclosures of prophetic Scripture; or, to speak more correctly, of the one great volume of Divine Prophecy.

For, in truth, the more attentively we examine it, the more striking proofs shall we discover of its essential unity,—that all came from the inspiration of one Omniscient Spirit, who, “in sundry times and in divers manners," "spake by the prophets?” And

. in regard to the book of the Revelation, in particular, we shall find, as we proceed, that it bears stamped upon it, in a very remarkable manner, a character corresponding with the place in which it stands in the volume of Holy Writ, as the winding up of all that had gone before; absorbing into itself, if I may so speak, the sum and substance of earlier prophecies—the unfolding of mysteries which had “ been kept secret from the foundation of the world 3,” or but partially and faintly shadowed out in the types and visions of the elder dispensation. And if to any one the deep obscurity which hangs over this portion of Scripture should appear to be such, as would make the humble mind shrink from what might seem to be knowledge too wonderful and “excellent” for it, too “high” for it to hope to “attain unto," it may justly plead, beyond the general claim on our devout attention, of all that God's

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2 Heb. i. 1.

3 Matt. xiii. 35.

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