Page images
PDF
EPUB

ment of this judgment. But this question, and all considerations of the era when we are to begin to date this period, I shall reserve for the further light which subsequent prophecies may afford. Suffice it to observe, that it is certain, whatever be the peculiar fate of the papacy, the destruction of the fourth empire is sudden and complete, as represented in Nebuchadnezzar's dream, and gives place at once to the succeeding kingdom of saints :-“ I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame.” It may be argued, indeed, from the former part of the verse,* that the destruction is brought upon it, “because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake.”ı If this be correct, popery is the damning sin of the fourth empire, and must exist and retain influence till the last; or, to anticipate future prophecy, the power symbolized by the little horn is only destroyed in the last conflict.

Some ambiguity rests also on the following verse, 4 As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion

• Ver. 11,

+ Ver. 12.

1

“ The former part of this verse is not in the Syriac version ; and I suspect the second word in the verse should be nrn. If this be admitted, we should render thus, “ Looking at the beast at this time, because of the voice -I was attentive till the beast was slain."-WINTLE. I should conceive, it ought not to be for certain concluded, that the full triumph of the little horn continues

until the Ancient of days doth come; but that it is probable before or ty, in the beginning of the 22d verse, we are to understand 1:49 min, as in the 9th verse, and as in the 21st; we shall then render, “ I was looking, and this horn made war with the saints; and he prevailed against them,” or, “overcame them.” I was looking, until the Ancient of days did cone, &c.

taken away; yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.” This may signify, the judginent of the three former empires, at the time of their respective overthrow by their successful opponents, will be very different from this of the fourth empire. They lost their dominion; but the people themselves, with their territories, were not immediately consigned to destruction : but the fourth empire loses, at the same time, its dominion and its existence; it is burned with fire. Or the passage may mean, when this dreadful catastrophe shall happen to the nations that compose the fourth empire, the nations that had formerly composed the Babylonian, the Persian, and the Grecian empires, shall still survive; but all the dominion they once possessed shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High.

There can therefore, upon the whole, from what we have considered, be no doubt that this fourth, or Roman empire, in its divided state, with its little horn, are—"the ungodly" of Enoch’s prophecy -" the foolish nation,” Israel's last adversary, of the song of remembrance - the foe from “ Chittim" of Balaam's prophecy — the same great adversary, which is so often predicted in the Psalms and in Isaiah, and in the other prophets; whose destruction by the sword of Jehovah, and by flaming fire, has always been shown to be the prelude to the manifestation of the long promised kingdom of the Messiah. We may repeat the exclamation found in Ezekiel, on the invasion of Gog and Magog, Art thou not he of whom I have spoken in old time by my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days many years, that I would bring thee ugainst them?"*

• Cbap. xxxviii. 17.

The latter part of the vision, the symbols of “ the Ancient of Days," and of “ one like the Son of Man, who comes with the clouds of heaven,” will next require our attention. “ And I beheld till the thrones were cast down,” which might mean the thrones of the kings mentioned. But as the word “ thrones” is not in a state of emphasis, we should probably render, “ till thrones, or seats, were placed, or set, or laid down;"1 that is, for the Most High and his saints, who were coming to judge the fourth empire.

“ And the Ancient of Days did sit.” This was an emblem, no doubt, of the Most High, but not, I think, of the person of the Father. A representation of his person is incongruous with every declaration of holy writ. He is invisible, “ whom no man hath seen or can see.” But there is “ an image of the invisible God :” “ The Son who is in the bosom of the Father ; he declares” or “manifests him.” This, then, must be the Divine Being represented by THE ETERNAL, sitting in judgment. This same judgment is also, in other prophecies, ascribed to the personal achievement of the Redeemer; and though it may appear, at first sight, improbable that we should find in the same vision two symbols of the same person, for “ the likeness of a Son of Man," “ coming with the clouds of heaven to receive the kingdom,” is unquestionably a symbol of the Redeemer; yet I think that the improbability is far less than in the supposition of a representation of God the Father, a supposition so discountenanced by other Scriptures. I conceive, therefore, that the former emblem

See Note in Bishop Newton.

represents the Lord Jesus coming “ in his Father's glory” as Judge: the other represents our Lord as coming " in his own glory” to receive his promised kingdom. The appearance of the Judge is very like the former prophetical representations given us of the “ God of Israel,” or “ his Holy One,” or “ the Redeemer,” revealed in flaming fire, taking vengeance:

“ His throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. 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."*

After this judgment of the fourth empire, another scene of the vision is disclosed :

“ 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.”

Whether the Ancient of Days be another emblem of himself, or of the judgment of God abstractedly, which himself had executed by his commission, this “ likeness of the Son of Man,” or “ of a child of man,” is certainly a prophetic symbol of the Messiah, who, on the destruction of the fourth empire, comes to receive his promised kingdom.

“ 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."

As the angel interprets:

Compare Psalms ai. 6; xxi. 9; Ixviii.; xcvii.; Isaiah, xxx. 27; *xxiii. 11, 12; xxxiv. 9, 10; Ixvi. 16; Zeph. i. 14.

" the

27. And the kingdom, and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High,”-or' the people of saints of the Most High,—“whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.”

Here we observe the individual symbolized by likeness of the Son of Man" is declared to be “the Most High;" for his is the supreme dominion; his people, his consecrated servants, are, as has ever been represented, partners of his throne and kingdom; but he is “the King of kings, and LORD of lords;" the Lord from heaven with his holy myriads.

SECTION XIX.

The Vision of the Ram and He-Goat, Chapter viii. ABOUT two years + after the last vision appeared to Daniel, it pleased God to give him a new revelation of what should be hereafter. The last vision went over the same ground as Nebuchadnezzar's dream, predicting four great empires to bear rule in succession upon earth. These were to give place to a fifth, the promised kingdom of Messiah. Daniel's vision, however, enlarged upon the history of the fourth empire in its last, divided state, and discovered to us a power of a singular description, symbolized by “a little horn,” which should be chiefly instrumental, by its excesses, in bringing on the destruction of the beast, the special object of the Re

* Compare Deut. xxxii. 2; 1 Sam. ii.; Psalm lxviii. 17; Isajalı, Ixv.; xxvi.; Micah, ii. 13.

+ B. C. 553. Dr. Hales, 556.

« PreviousContinue »