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gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them.”
The result, too, of this mighty conflict is that which has ever been foretold by the oracles of God. The same hand that inflicts the destined vengeance upon the holders and abusers of the sovereign authorities takes to itself its great power, and rules over the nations upon earth.
« And the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.”—44.“ In the days of those kings, shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom,” or “ the kingdom thereof,”-as I understand it, “ the sovereignty over mankind, shall not be left to another people.” *
No nation shall succeed to the Romans, as the Romans succeeded the Greeks, the Greeks the Persians, and the Persians the Babylonians; “ but it,” the symbolical stone, “shall break in pieces, and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” It is true, as we have learned, Israel will have a pre-eminence over the other nations of the earth in the period which is to follow the destruction of the last kingdom of men; but we have discovered, not in the character of the sovereigns of mankind, but only as the chosen keepers of the sanctuary of the Elohim of Israel, their King, and the King of the whole earth. It is “ God” himself “ that ariseth to inherit all nations."
Thus we learn, that four great empires, the first of
* Psalms ii.; xlvii.; lxxii. ; Isaialı, xxxii. 1, &c.; Jer. iii. 17; xxiii. 3; xxx. 9; Zeph. iii. 14, 15.
+ Micah, iv.
which was then in existence, and had the seat of its dominion at Babylon, were to rule the destinies of mankind; that is to say, of the civilized world, of those nations, more especially, in whose concerns the church of God would be interested. These four empires were in succession to obtain dominion over the world; but no others were to be expected: the fourth kingdom was to give place only to the long promised kingdom of the Messiah. How important is it to those who are waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, to be supplied with this chart of prospective history, especially to us at this present day, who see the fourth empire actually existing in its last state, divided, yet unsevered, waiting the smiting of the stone that shall level it with the dust. 1
" Very remarkable, when we consider the age in which he wrote, at the beginning of the fifth century, are the observations of the historian, Sulpicius Severus, quoted in Bishop Newton. He is giving an account of Nebuchadnezzar's dream:-" The iron legs are the fourth kingdom, and that is the Roman, the strongest of all kingdoms before it. But the feet, part of iron and part of clay, prefigure the Roman empire to be divided as that it should never unite again, which is equally fulfilled : forasmuch as the Roman
territory is occupied by foreign nations and rebels; and we see barharous nations mixed with our armies, cities, and provinces. But in the stone cut out without hands' we have a figure of Christ : for he shall reduce this world, in which are the kingdoms of the earth, to nothing, and shall establish another everlasting kingdom, of which alone the faith of some is still dubious, and they will not credit future things when ihey are convinced of the past." — Diss. vol. i.
Daniel's Vision of the Four Empires, Chapter vii. About fifty years * after Daniel had interpreted the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, a vision was revealed to the prophet himself, which, with some enlargement of particulars, gave a prophetic representation of the same four earthly empires, succeeded by a fifth, a kingdom which the God of heaven should set up.
1. “In the first year of Belshazzar, king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and the visions of his head upon his bed; then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters. 2. Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heavens strove upon the great sea; 3. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. 4. The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings : I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made to stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it: 5. And, behold, another beast, a second like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it, between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. 6. After this I beheld, and, lo, another like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. 7. After this, I saw in the night-visions, and, behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth; it devoured, and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it; and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. 8. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there
About 555 before Christ, or, according to Dr. Hales, 558.
were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes
man, mouth speaking great things. And I beheld till the thrones were cast down,”—or, 'till thrones were placed! 9. “And the Ancient of Days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool : his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire: 10. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him; thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him : the judgment was set, and the books were opened. 11. I beheld then, because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld, even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. 12. As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away; yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time. 13. I saw in the night-visions, and, behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought him near before him. 14. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him : his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”
Such was the repeated prophecy respecting the four kingdoms to be succeeded by the kingdom of the Messiah. But let us attend to the angel's interpretation :
15. “ I, Daniel, was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me. I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things."
Daniel was aware that what he saw had no reality in themselves — they were mere visionary appearances; but he well knew that they were all prophetic symbols of something hereafter to exist: he wished, therefore, to
learn their true interpretation. The angel explained to him :
17. “ These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth. 18. But the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.”
From a comparison of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, we perceive that “ king” does not denote an individual monarch, but the sovereign authority of a state or empire lodged in the hands of a succession of monarchs, or, we might add, of rulers of any other description. We have already learned what these empires were, the Babylonian, the Persian, the Grecian, and the Roman. The reader will consult the expositors of prophecy, to see how well the symbolical beasts in the vision represent the respective characters and leading transactions of these nations. We hear the general result :
“ The saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom."
The consecrated ministers of the Elohim of Israel shall take the kingdom:1 the kingdom evidently formerly possessed by Babylonian, Persian, Grecian, and Roman powers; that is, universal dominion over the earth, “ and possess it for ever."
We are fully informed, from the ancient oracles already consulted, who these saints of the Most High are, that in the latter day are to rule upon earth.
“ Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints,” or," with his holy myriads," &c.
Or, as some would render, " the saints of the high places,”
that is, which come from on high, “ shall take the kingdom.”