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recur to mind as belonging to the first of these classes ;—the sixtieth, to the second.
But of the intermediate state,—the Church in her widowhood, during the Lord's lengthened absence, we recognize no description. Probably if Mr. Palmer could have pointed out one more clearly applicable than is ch. ii. v. 2, he would have done so. Yet that prediction evidently belongs to a period yet future; and thus, in truth, we discover not a single passage or allusion clearly belonging to the mediaval days.
Such being the character of the writings of “the Evangelical Prophet,” we shall feel no surprise at finding a similar silence in the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
The predictions of Jeremiah have an almost exclusively Jewish bearing. They speak of that nation, of that land; and of the nations and countries immediately surrounding it. Only three or four times in the whole book is the Messiah referred to, and in each case very briefly, though with distinctness and precision. The results of Christ's coming are spoken of with great succinctness, and always with reference to the Jews. “In his days Judah “shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his
name whereby he shall be called, -THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUS“ ness.” To the Gentile churches, or their history, scarcely any allusion is made.
Ezekiel differs from Jeremiah chiefly in this,—that after twentyfour chapters filled with denunciations of wrath against Israel and Judah, and eleven more against the neighbouring nations,—the prophet turns to the future, and utters glorious predictions of the reign of Christ in the latter days. “I will take you from among “the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring
you into your own land.' Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all
your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give “ you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take “ away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an “ heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you,
you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, “and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to
your fathers ; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.”
Then follow two chapters of terrible predictions against Gog; and the book closes with a long description of a blessed state of things, to be seen on this earth; but the whole of which, by consent of all commentators, is yet future. Of the mediæval state of the Gentile churches,--occurring before these “latter years,”the prophet offers no description whatever.
We now come to Daniel, and in that prophet we at once find a guide to the world's history. He differs from all the writers who preceded him, chiefly in this, that he looks not solely to the state and prospects of the Jews; but gives us wondrous descriptions of the chief events in the history of mankind, many of which were yet to remain unaccomplished for centuries. (We speak of the prophet after the manner of men, not forgetting by Whom he was filled with this foreknowledge, and guided to leave his prophecy on record, for our instruction.) Here, then, we must search with reverential earnestness, to see if now,—when the nations of the earth are at last alluded to,—any outline is afforded of the future history of the Gentile church.
Such an outline is discernible, and most clearly and distinctly is it marked. But here, as in the case before referred to, we immediately perceive the system of gradual developement.
The second chapter of Daniel declares, in few words, but with a clearness which leaves the interpretation quite free from all uncertainty, that four universal empires should arise in succession upon the earth,—that after these no fifth empire, of a similar kind, should appear ; that the fourth kingdom should be divided, as the feet separate into toes; and that these ten kingdoms (the toes) should witness many attempts to combine them again into one empire ; but that all such efforts should fail: “They shall mingle themselves “ with the seed of men ; but they shall not cleave one to another.”
All this has been most exactly and literally fulfilled. The prophet wrote in the days of “the head of gold” (ch. ii. 38.)--the Assyrian empire. Since then have arisen the Persian, the GrecoMacedonian, the Roman ; in all, four empires or universal dominions, and no more. The last, the Roman, precisely answered to the prophet's description : "the fourth kingdom shall be strong as “ iron; forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all “ things ; and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in “ pieces and bruise.” (ver. 40.) Then came a division of this fourth empire into ten kingdoms (the toes), of various and unequal strength : “And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of “ potter's clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but “ there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou “sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the “ feet were part of iron, and part of clay; so the kingdom shall be “partly strong, and partly broken." (ver. 41, 42.) Then the various efforts, under Charlemagne, Charles V., Louis XIV., and others, to combine these states together in a fifth empire ; every one of which attempts has failed.
Nothing could present a bolder or more accurate outline of
the fortunes of the civilized part of the globe for the 2400 years which have elapsed since Daniel wrote. At that time all these events were future: now every part of the prediction has been fulfilled. Still it is but an outline, and we discern no allusion, here, to the prospects of the Church.
But if we turn over a few leaves, and open the seventh chapter, we shall there find, on the system of gradual developement, a new feature added to the picture. The four kingdoms are now set before us under the type of four beasts which are successively to arise. And the ten toes, of the first symbol, (the great image,) are changed into “ten horns " on the head of the fourth beast. The identity of the two visions, in their main outline, is quite obvious and unquestionable. We have, however, one further circumstance brought forward, and one which deserves our closest attention. It is thus described : “I considered the horns, and, behold, “ there came up among them another little horn, before whom “ there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots; and,
behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.” (ver. 8.)
This is one step beyond the simple ten toes or ten horns, which symbolized the ten kingdoms into which the Roman empire was divided. We see a little horn,--a seemingly small and insignificant power, yet shewing itself so strong as to “subdue three kings.
But this is not all. There is a religious character annexed to this "little horn.” Something peculiarly offensive to "the Ancient of Days” is found in this power. It had “ the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.” And “ because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake, I “ beheld even till the beast was slain ; and his body given to the “ burning flame."
But an interpretation is granted unto the prophet, and by it we are still further advanced in the understanding of this mystery. The nature of the little horn's transgressions, which so inflame the wrath of the Most High, are specifically described.
“ The ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall " arise : and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse “ from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And be shall “ speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out “ the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and
Only one commentator, as far as we are aware (Mr. Todd, in his Lectures on Antichrist) adopts the strange and most illogical notion, that the fourth beast of chap. vii. " is undoubtedly the iron or fourth kingdom" of chap. ii, but that the other three beasts are not to be identified with the other three kingdoms !!
“ laws: and they shall be given into his hand, until a time and “ times and the dividing of times."--(v. 24, 25.)
Now, then, we are considerably advanced towards a clear view of the whole matter. And, as we purpose not to attempt to draw any
conclusions from the eleventh and twelfth chapters of this prophet, believing them to relate, chiefly, like the eighth, to the Jewish people and the holy land, we may here sum up the instruction which we gather from Daniel's predictions, as to the state of the Gentile churches during the first sixteen or eighteen centuries after Christ. Daniel, then, writing by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, whole centuries before either the Greco-Macedonian or the Roman empires had appeared, distinctly and most graphically foretells and describes both. The peculiar force and significance of his language ought to impress us with a deep reverence and value for every word he utters. He then shews us, in two different visions, and under two different symbols, the breaking up of the Roman empire into ten kingdoms. This has been now matter of fact for about twelve centuries past.
He next tells us that divers efforts shall be made to reunite these severed parts into one empire, by family alliances, &c., but that all these efforts shall fail. This also, is a brief outline of the history of Europe, from the days of Charlemagne down to the present hour.
But now he warns us of a remarkable power, which shall arise “ among” the ten horns, and “after them,” and which shall subdue and absorb three of those horns into its own dominion.
This horn was distinguished from the rest by a more elevated or spiritual character. Though arising out of a beast, it had
eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things." Further, we learn, that these "great words” were
were “against the Most High ;” and that this horn “made war with the saints, and prevailed against them ;” and they were "given into his hand * until a time, and times, and the dividing of time.” That is, during forty-two prophetic months, or 1260 years.
Such is the general tenor of Daniel's prediction; when he turns aside, as the other Jewish prophets do not, and instructs us as to the fate of the Gentile kingdoms. We have seen the fulfilment, to the letter, of this prophecy concerning the four empires; can we trace with equal distinctness, in history, the rise and progress of the "little horn ?” Has there arisen, "among" and "after” the formation of these ten kingdoms, another horn, or power, " diverse from the first ten;" which, although apparently
« little” and insignificant, has absorbed three of the ten original sovereignties;
and has ever since perpetuated the fact, by adopting for itself a triple crown?
Has this power been “diverse from the rest,” chiefly in its higher qualifications and pretensions; having "eyes like the eyes of man," (being an overseer, episcopos ;)" a mouth speaking great things; " the other horns being of the beast—the animal-this having higher and more intellectual qualities ?
Lastly, has this power advanced spiritual pretensions, “speaking great words against the Most High," and being a constant persecutor of the followers of Christ; "making war with the saints, and overcoming them ;” and “thinking to change times and laws ?”
If such a power has been seen to uplift itself in Christendom, rising soon after the development of the ten kingdoms; subduing and absorbing three out of the ten; assuming a triple crown, yet never constituting itself into a mere earthly kingdom or dynasty; and if this power has been remarkable for its lofty and spiritual pretensions; usurping the honour and the prerogatives of the Most High, and warring to extermination against the people of God ;-then, surely, the exact fulfilment of prophecy has been visible in a manner, and to a degree, of which there is no more striking instance, throughout the whole volume of holy writ.
We have said that we propose not to enter upon the consideration of the remaining chapters of Daniel ; because they appear to us to concern, chiefly or exclusively, the Jewish people and the fate of Palestine ; whereas our investigation concerns the state of the Gentile churches, during the absence of their Lord: And on the same grounds we shall pass over the whole of the minor prophets, whose view is generally confined to their own nation, and to the prospects of the Holy Land. We pass on, therefore, to the writings of the two great Apostles, St. Paul and St. John.
The chief and almost the only prediction of the great Apostle of the Gentiles, is that contained in his second Epistle to the Thessalonians. And here our enquiry meets with a direct and summary reply. We are seeking to know whether any, and what insight into the state and standing of the Gentile churches, in the many centuries which were to elapse before their Lord's return, was afforded us in the inspired writings. St. Paul at once furnishes us with that forewarning.
It would appear, from 2 Thess. ï. 2, that some message or saying of St. Paul, erroneously reported, or mistakenly understood by that church, had created an impression in their minds, that “the day of Christ," the day of “the coming of Christ " was then “at hand.” Such an expectation, fully and implicitly received, was certain to unfit the believers for the common duties of life.