THE WEEK IN HISTORY.
SCRIPTURE THE CHART OF HISTORY.-PRELIMINARY QUESTIONS AS TO HISTORIC AND PROPHETIC CHRONOLOGY.- THE AGE OF THE HUMAN RACE. -OLD TESTAMENT CHRONOLOGY.-THE HEBREW AND THE SEPTUAGINT CHRONOLOGY COMPARED.- HOW ARE WE TO INTERPRET THE SYMBOLIC PERIODS OF PROPHETIC CHRONOLOGY?-EXPOSITION AND DEFENCE OF THE YEAR-DATE SYSTEM.-MORAL FEATURES DISTINGUISHING THE THREE GREAT DISPENSATIONS-THE PATRIARCHAL-THE JEWISH-THE CHRISTIAN.-CHRONOLOGICAL MEASURES OF THESE DISPENSATIONS.-THE PERIOD OF "SEVEN TIMES"SHOWN TO BE THE DURATION OF THE LAST OR GENTILE DISPENSATION, AND ALSO OF THE TWO EARLIER.
The Bible is the only book in the World that gives us a view of human history as a whole, that carries us from the lost Paradise of Eden, to the restored Paradise of the Apocalypse, traces the course of the human race through every stage of its intermediate existence on earth, and on beyond the limits of time, into the boundless regions of eternity.
In it, and in it alone therefore, are we likely to find the key, if key there be, to the periodicity of history, -the underlying principle bringing the labyrinth of inharmonious periods and chronological irregularities Which the annals of the human race at first sight present, into harmony with each other, and with the periods of nature and revealed religion.
The histories of Scripture reach back to the farthest past, and its prophecies extend to the most distant future; taken together, as they are presented in the Bible, the two afford a panoramic view of the whole course of events, , from the creation and fall of man, to the final judgment, and the inauguration of the new heavens and the new earth.
The Bible is therefore the chart of all history, and it gives us, not events only, but their moral character, tracing the motives that influenced the various actors in the drama, as well as the results of their action. Events are shown in connection with their causes and their effects, and the judgment of God as to their character is revealed. Without the Bible, history would be a spectacle of "rivers flowing from unknown sources, to unknown seas;" but under its guidance we can trace the complex currents to their springs, and see the end, from the beginning.
The entire story of mankind as presented in Scripture being composed of two parts, the historic and the prophetic, it is clear that the periods into which the history of man as a whole is divided, cannot be discerned, without taking both historic and prophetic chronology into account, and as both are subjects on which different views have been entertained, our examination of the periodicity of human history as a whole, must be preceded by a careful though necessarily brief investigation, of the questions connected with these controverted points.
1. What, according to Scripture, is the age of the human race? in other words, -how long is it since the creation?
2. What periods are intended by the expressions of time used in Daniel and the Apocalypse in defining the duration of events which were future when predicted by these prophets?
These questions we must now therefore consider, taking first that of
OLD TESTAMENT CHRONOLOGY.
The highest point of antiquity to which authentic profane history carries us, is the occupation of Babylon by an army of Medes in 2233 BC, that is about 250 years after the flood.
For our knowledge of the dates and durations of all previous events, we are indebted exclusively to the Hebrew Scriptures, and very full and explicit are the chronological data of this remote period, which the Bible supplies. "The history contained in the Hebrew Scriptures presents a remarkable and pleasing contrast to the early accounts of the Greeks. In the latter, we trace with difficulty a few obscure facts, preserved to us by the poets, who transmitted, with all the embellishments of poetry and fable, what they had received from oral tradition. In the annals of the Hebrew nation, we have authentic narratives, written by cotemporaries, under the guidance of inspiration. What they have delivered to us, comes accordingly under a double sanction. They were aided by Divine inspiration in recording facts, upon which as mere human witnesses, their evidence would be valid."
The length of the lives of the early patriarchs, often bordering on a thousand years, made oral tradition a comparatively safe guide: but one link intervened between Adam and Noah, from whom the story of antediluvian events would be handed down in the line of Shem to Abraham and Moses. This latter, though not an eyewitness of many of the facts he narrated, is yet an authentic reporter; and in the subsequent history of Israel, from the Exodus to the rebuilding of the temple, the writers were, strictly speaking, witnesses.
The chronology of the Pentateuch is gathered, not from dates, as in ordinary history, but from accurate genealogical records; it is measured and marked out, not by centuries, but by generations. The brief chronology of the antediluvian world, is all contained in the fifth of Genesis; the age of the human race at the time of the flood, that is to say, the interval that had elapsed between the creation and the deluge, is ascertained by adding together the ages of the patriarchs at the birth of the sons, in whom the line from Adam to Noah is traced. These were not invariably the eldest sons; Seth, the second link in the chain, was we know the third son of Adam, and the figures given make it very improbable that either Enos, Enoch, or Lamech, were eldest sons. Younger sons, are often throughout Scripture the heirs of promise, as witness Shem and Abram, Jacob, and Judah, David, and Solomon. "That was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural." Barren wives caused to become joyful mothers, and younger sons chosen to be heirs of promise, often intimated in the older economy, that purpose of God unfolded in the New, to bring life . out of death, and to substitute for the first and natural -order of things, a second and spiritual order; to replace by a new creation, under the headship of a second Adam-the Lord from heaven-that creation which fell in the first Adam..
An examination of the fifth of Genesis will show that the flood, dating from the creation, took place in the year 1656 A.M., which was the 6oo th year of Noah’s life.
The correctness of this date however, as well as of that of the birth of Abram (which is derived in a similar way from the postdiluvian generations), has been called in question, because there exist important variations between the Hebrew Bible, and some of its most ancient versions, as regards these very genealogical statements. The Samaritan Pentateuch, the Septuagint version into Greek, some other ancient translations, and the writings of Josephus, make many of the generations, both before and after the flood, longer than they are represented in the Hebrew Scriptures, and in our authorized version which follows the Hebrew. Nor is the discrepancy a trivial one; the Septuagint places the birth of Abram, thirteen hundred years later than does the Hebrew Pentateuch, making the present age of the human family to be between seven and eight thousand years, instead of about six thousand years.
It is evident therefore that in our consideration, of the measures of the dispensations into which human history has been divided, it will not do to overlook this great chronological question and controversy. We must ascertain which of these rival chronologies is the true one, since a difference bearing so large a proportion to the whole duration of history, must be material to our inquiry.
The writings of Josephus favour the longer system; but as they mainly follow the Septuagint, their evidence is not of independent importance. The Samaritan Pentateuch has been proved unreliable in other respects, and cannot therefore be accepted as an authority on this point. The real issue lies between the chronology of the Hebrew Pentateuch and the Greek translation of it, made BC 280, at Alexandria in Egypt, by order of Ptolemy Soter, for the great Alexandrian Library. This ancient version, commonly called the Septuagint, or translation of "the seventy," was in common use among the’ Jews in our Lord’s time, and was universally employed by the fathers of the early church, who entertained for it, an almost superstitious reverence, and even considered it as inspired. Absurd fables about its origin (the true story of which is, as regards its details, lost in obscurity) were invented, to give colour to this ‘notion, and the reverence which existed for it was so great, that its chronology seems to have been generally accepted, save by Jerome, Origen, and a few others, whose familiarity with the original Hebrew led them to reject it.
Now it is especially to be noted, that the difference between the two, is unquestionably, from its very nature, an intentional alteration. It is not the effect of accident, but the result of deliberate design. An entire century is, twelve times over, added to the age of the patriarch, at the time of the birth of the son, in whom the genealogy continues; while the same period is deducted from the residue of the life, so as to leave the whole unchanged. The Hebrew Bible for instance states, that Adam was 130 years old at the birth of Seth, that he lived 800 years after, and died at 930. The Septuagint on the contrary gives him as 230 at the time of Seth’s birth, says he lived only 700 years after, but agrees that he died at 930. The following table presents ‘the discrepancy both as to its nature, and as to its amount; it will be observed that it affects the lives of six antediluvian, and, six post-diluvian patriarchs
Hebrew. - Septuagint.
Adam 130 230
Seth 105 205
Enos 90 190
Cainan 70 170
Mahalaleel 65 165
Enoch 65 165
Arphaxad 35 135
Salah 30 130
Eber 34 134
Peleg 30 130
Reu 32 132
Serug 30 130
Nothing hut design can account for this uniform and repeated alteration; it is too systematic to be the result of accident, and is clearly an intentional and deliberate corruption in one document or the other; an increase or decrease of these periods, made with some ulterior object in view.
It has been a warmly disputed point among chronologers, which of the two was most likely to be correct, whether the Jews had falsified the Hebrew, or whether the seventy Egyptian translators, are to be credited with having distorted in this manner the chronology of the Septuagint.
Many arguments have been adduced on either side of the controversy, which space forbids our reproducing here. Not only Josephus, but most of the Fathers adopted the chronology of the Septuagint, as was natural, seeing it was the version with which they were familiar, while very few of them were acquainted with the Hebrew. Jerome, who made the Vulgate translation into Latin, however, and Origen, and some others, adhered to the Hebrew. The revival of learning which preceded and accompanied the Reformation, led to a more extensive use of the Hebrew original, and more deference was thenceforth shown to the Hebrew chronology. Archbishop Usher’s great chronological work, published in the middle of the seventeenth century, recognised the Hebrew dates as the true; in 1834 the profoundly learned work of Mr. Fynes Clinton showed that the judgment of this most accurate and discriminating scholar was in favour of the Hebrew chronology: and in 1847, Browne’s "Ordo Saeclorum" followed, and threw its weight into the same scale. Thus the upholders of the Septuagint version are found principally among those who were unfamiliar with the Hebrew, and a large proportion, if not the majority of those who have most fully examined and compared the two, believe the Hebrew to be the true text.
But common sense without learning seems almost sufficient to settle the question. The Hebrew is the original, and dates from the time of Moses; the Septuagint is a mere Egyptian translation, dating from BC. 286. Which is most likely to be correct?
The Jews held their own sacred writings in profound and indeed superstitious veneration; they worshipped the letter, and would have been the last people in the world to tamper with it. The Egyptians had no such reverence for the Old Testament, and would not have hesitated to corrupt the text, supposing any sufficient motive made the doing so seem desirable.
It is hard to assign any motive which could have induced the Jews to alter the genealogies of their Pentateuch. It has been suggested indeed that they did so in the hope of invalidating the claims of Jesus of Nazareth to be their Messiah. But such a change in the chronology of their early history could in no wise have done this. Had it been possible for them to have lengthened or shortened the chronology of the period between their restoration from Babylon, and the first advent, such a step would indeed have had an important bearing on the question. But to prolong the days before the birth of Abraham, could apparently serve no such purpose.
On the other hand it is by no means difficult to conjecture why its Egyptian authors, whether Jewish or Gentile, may have falsified the original, which by the king’s command they were to reproduce in Greek. "The Chaldeans and Egyptians, whose histories were about that time published by Berosus and Manetho, laid claim to a remote antiquity. Hence the translators of the Pentateuch might be led to augment the amount of the generations, by the centenary additions, and by the interpolation of a second Cainan, in order to carry back the epoch of the creation and the flood, to a period more conformable with the high pretensions-of the Egyptians and the Chaldeans."
The arguments alleged in favour of the longer chronology prove, when closely examined, to tell even more strongly in favour of the shorter; and it must be remembered that while differing from the Hebrew as- to the age of the patriarchs, at the birth of their sons, the Septuagint agrees with it, as to the age ultimately attained by each; a strong confirmation of the authentic character of the chronology of the Pentateuch. There is no valid reason for assuming that the inspired original has been corrupted, and that the Greek translation deserves more confidence. On the contrary the former must be regarded as possessing on every ground the strongest claim to our belief, and the chronology given in our authorized version, may be relied on as correct.
There is no other disputed point in Biblical chronology that involves any material difference, or renders questionable any considerable interval. The whole period from Adam to Christ may be traced step by step from Scripture statements. We meet indeed two breaks in the chain, two brief chasms, which no ingenuity can bridge over. They have been allowed to occur in the wisdom of God, for some good and sufficient reason, and the result is that it is impossible for any one to accurately ascertain to within a few years, the age of the world, the exact period that has elapsed since the creation of Adam.
1.We are not informed what was the duration of the government of Joshua and the elders, and of the interregnum or anarchy which followed. The interval between the death of Moses and servitude under the Midianites, can from Scripture statements be calculated with tolerable certainty, but not with actual precision. The years assigned to it must rest more or less on conjecture, not on testimony; it is the period spoken of in #Josh 24:31. "Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that over lived Joshua, which had known all the works of the Lord that He had done for Israel." Joshua was probably about the same age as Caleb, forty at the time of the spies; he wandered with Israel in the wilderness for thirty-eight years subsequently, before he took command of their armies on the death of Moses. He was therefore about seventy-eight when his government began, and he was 110 at his death (#Josh 24:29), so that the above expression, "all the days of Joshua," must apparently include about thirty-two years; it is impossible to fix the period more closely, and it may well vary ten years in either direction. Clinton puts it at twenty-seven years.
2.The second chasm occurs between the death of Samson, and the election of Saul, and was occupied by the governments of Eli and Samuel. Josephus makes this interval fifty-two years. Clinton, for reasons which appear satisfactory, considers that the nearest approximation to the truth which scripture statements permit, is thirty-two years.
We have not space to enlarge on the point, as our object in alluding here to these chronological chasms, is less to investigate their limits, than to show that those limits are very narrow. From forty to sixty years comprises, in all probability, the range of the uncertain, in the whole extent of Bible chronology. The various statements of Scripture given in the subjoined table leave little doubt that the creation took place about 4138 BC. instead of 4004, as is commonly supposed. But any attempt to fix with greater accuracy than this, the actual age of the world, is futile, as no scriptural data exist by which the precise year of the creation can be ascertained.*
We accept then as about the nearest possible approach to truth, and as probably a very near approach indeed, the following dates given by Mr. Fynes Clinton
Deluge 1656 A.M.
Birth of Abram. 2008
Call of Abram 2083
Death of Moses 2553
First servitude 
Death of Eli 
Election of Saul 
Accession of David 
Nebuchadnezzar’s capture of Jerusalem. Temple burnt
The Nativity 
We turn now from the past to the future, to gather from the inspired Word of God, its prophetic revelations of the chronology of the closing events of the history of the world.
From the earliest days, statements of time have been an important element in Divine predictions. The hundred and twenty years that should elapse before the flood, the four hundred years’ affliction of Abraham’s seed, the forty years in the wilderness, the seventy years of the Babylonish captivity, all these and many other periods were announced beforehand to Israel. And similarly in the New Testament, the Lord Jesus Christ foretold the period during which He would bow to the power of the grave, saying "the third day He shall rise again." These and other predictions, given simply to reveal the future, are accompanied by plain, literal, statements of time, such as those just quoted. But there is, as we have seen, another series of predictions, in which a double object may be distinctly traced, to reveal and yet to conceal the future.
The glory of God is declared by every prophecy. His foreknowledge is one of his highest attributes. His people are comforted, and their faith is strengthened, when they find, that the experiences through which they are passing, the troubles that are befalling them, or the difficulties that they encounter, have been foreseen and foretold by their God. But there are some things which it is better for God’s people not to know beforehand; as for instance the true length of the present period of the absence of Christ from his church. Divine wisdom and love judged it best, as we have seen to conceal from the early church the foreordained duration of this Christian age, and to allow every generation of Christians to live in the expectation of the speedy return of their Lord. "Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world." He of course knew that over eighteen centuries would elapse before the second coming of Christ, and could very easily have revealed this in plain words to the church. He did not do so, as is proved by the fact that the early generations of Christians expected the return of Christ in their own day. If then God, for the guidance of his people especially during its later stages, wished to reveal the events of this period, without revealing its duration, He must needs adopt a style of prediction, which would reveal while concealing, and conceal while revealing, the truth.
This is exactly what He has done. The revelations granted to Daniel and John, relating to the events of this dispensation. are not couched in ordinary language, or made in plain terms, which admit of no second meaning. They are embodied in mysterious symbolic forms, which require to be translated before they can be understood. They are not incomprehensible; very far from that I Incomprehensible prophecy could answer no conceivable object. But prophecy which would be obscure for a time, and clear only after the lapse of ages, would answer the object supposed above, of concealing from one generation that which it would not be desirable for it to know, while revealing it to a succeeding one, to which the knowledge was indispensable. Now as statements of time occur, in connection with these symbolic prophecies, as well as in connection with plain predictions, the question arises, are these statements to be taken, in a literal, or in a figurative sense? Does a day mean a day, or does it in these prophecies, mean a year? Does a year mean a year, or does it mean 360 years. Does "a thousand two hundred and threescore days" mean a period of three and a half years, or does it mean a period of 1260 of our years?
It is evident that a consideration of the periodicity of history in its widest extent, including the revealed future of man, as well as his past requires a previous investigation of this question, since it is necessarily vital to the subject. Before we can discern their mutual proportions and relations, we must understand what all the periods with which we have to deal, really are. We must no more omit future periods than past ones, and must know the true length of the former, as well as of the latter. We must take all the portions of the dissected map into account, before we can even form a hypothesis as to its true configuration and dimensions, or discern the plan on which it has been divided. We must bear in mind for instance not only that the patriarchal and Jewish ages have preceded our own, but that Scripture foretells a millennial age to succeed it. We must be aware not merely that the Babylonish captivity lasted seventy years, but that the dominion of a certain power symbolised by " the little horn" was fixed at "time times and half a time," and we must know what period is meant by this strange unusual description. In a word, we must not only take into account the prophecies of Daniel and John, but we must seek by patient investigation to ascertain the sense in which their chronological statements are to he understood.
A moment’s reflection will show the great importance of this investigation, not only to our present subject, but to a right understanding of the prophecies themselves.
The duration assigned to the events and powers represented by these symbols, must evidently determine to a large extent, our opinion as to what the symbols themselves signify. The "little horn" is to exercise dominion for "time times and the dividing of time," three years and a half. Now if this be literal years, the power predicted may be an individual, a personal Antichrist, as the Futurists assert; but if on the other hand, it be symbolic language, signifying a period extending over twelve centuries, then the power predicted must needs be some dynasty of rulers, some succession of potentates, seeing no one man could live during so long a period. The chronology of these prophecies once made clear, research into their meaning becomes comparatively simple. On every account then the subject demands the earnest attention of those who desire to understand the oracles of God; and even if it be not so attractive as some others, it must not be lightly passed over. We may say of it? what Mr. Birks says of his exposition of the two later visions of Daniel, "from the nature of the details of which it is composed, it may perhaps fail to interest general readers. But those who study it will find themselves repaid by a more deep and lively sense than ever, of the actual Providence of the Almighty in this fallen world. Why have we, in the word of God itself, so many genealogies and lists of names, of offerings of princes, of journeys in the wilderness, and other passages, that seem dry and barren, but to teach us, that we must stoop o details and individual names, if we would rightly understand the condescension of our God, and the reality of his special oversight of the children of men? Those who are soon weary of these details, must pay the cost of their own impatient spirit, by a more loose, unreal and slippery faith. The tree of faith must throw out ten thousand little roots, into the lowly soil of prophetic history, if it is to grow and expand into that noble confidence of hope, which no storms of temptation can uproot or destroy." Here we have to deal with numbers and periods instead of with names, but these are perhaps even more unattractive to most people, as involving the mental effort of calculation; but we venture to assert that those who take the trouble to follow the investigation of this chapter, Bible in hand, will not fail to be at the close more profoundly convinced than ever before, of the inspiration of the sacred volume, of the all-embracing providence and foreknowledge of God, and of the near approach of the "end of the age."
On the judgment which we form as to the true meaning of the statements of time in symbolic chronological prophecy, depends also, we believe, to a great extent, the liveliness of our expectation of the Lord’s speedy return. "That entire rejection of prophetic chronology which follows of course, on the denial of the year-day system of interpretation, is most of all to be deplored from its deadly and paralysing influence on the great hope of the church. No delusion can be greater than to expect, by excluding all reference to times and dates, to awaken Christians to a more lively expectation of their Lord’s second coming. For in truth without reference to such dates, in an open or disguised form, not one solid reason can be given, why the church may not still have to wait two or three thousand years, before the promise is fulfilled. The declaration ‘the time is at hand,’ was true and pertinent when the event was eighteen centuries removed. It and similar general promises, form no barrier to the supposition, that eighteen centuries more may still have to intervene. Every sign of the times, is either too vague to direct us, or in proportion as it becomes distinct, assumes practically all the characters of a numerical date, and becomes exposed to the same objections. The prophetic times indeed, when separated from the context, and viewed in themselves only, are a dry and worthless skeleton, but when taken in connection with the related events, clothed with historical facts, and joined with those spiritual affections, which should attend the study of God’s providence, like the bones in the human frame, they give strength to what was feeble, and union to what was disjointed, and form and beauty and order, to the whole outline and substance of these sacred and Divine prophecies."
The questions, then, which we have to investigate are these. How are we to understand the statements of times and periods, which occur in the visions of Daniel and John? Are we to take them as literal, or as symbolic? And if the latter, on what principle are we to translate them into plain language? Is there a key to the hieroglyphic numbers? and if so, what is it? It must be borne in mind we are not speaking of prophetic numbers and periods in general, but exclusively of those which occur in the above named books, and which relate mainly to the events of this dispensation.
The times and periods in question are the following
1. That of the domination of the "little horn" Dan. #Dan 7:24.
2. That of the desolation of the "sanctuary "#Dan 8:8.
3. The interval between the restoration from Babylon, and "Messiah the Prince" #Dan 9:24.
4. Time, times, and a half; #Dan 12:8-9.
5. A period of 1290 days.
6. A period of 1335 days. #Dan 12:12.
IN THE APOCALYPSE
1. The ten days’ tribulation of the church at Smyrna, #Rev 2:10
2. The duration of the scorpion torment #Rev 9:3
3. The career of the Euphratean horsemen #Rev 9:15
4. The time of the down-treading of the Holy City #Rev 11:2
5. That of the prophesying of the two witnesses #Rev 11:3
6. The time they lay unburied #Rev 11:9
7. The sojourn of the woman in the wilderness #Rev 12:6-14
8. The period of the domination of the beast #Rev 13:6
We believe that in all the above fourteen instances, the period of time mentioned is a symbol of another and a larger period, and we now proceed to give our reasons for this opinion.
If a geographer wish to represent the entire surface of our globe, on a sheet of paper, it is clear that he must do so on a miniature scale, and that the difference between the reality and the miniature must be enormous. He fixes his scale, 100 or 1000 miles to an inch. as the case may be, and if his delineation is to be correct, to that scale he must adhere throughout. He must not reduce the latitude a little and the longitude more, or diminish the seas in one proportion and the continents in another; such a proceeding would destroy all the resemblance and utility of a map. If the drawing were a portrait, it would produce still more incongruous results. What possible resemblance to the original could be traced in a portrait, which should reduce to miniature all the features’ but one, and leave that one life-size? All must be reduced, or enlarged, in proportion.
The ancients in their hieroglyphic delineations observed this law of proportionate reduction. These were in fact miniature representations of the events and characters of history, and a certain uniform scale was adhered to in every hieroglyphic record. Apparent violations of the law of proportion, are in reality, the contrary. When for instance we see a Pharaoh represented as ten times as big as the slaves or captives in his train, it is still a proportionate representation, because the idea to be conveyed by the hieroglyph is not the literal size of the individual, but his relative social importance. Pharaoh was ten times more important than his slaves, a ten times greater man, in that sense.
Now the symbolic prophecies of Daniel and John are of this character, they are verbal descriptions of hieroglyphs seen by the prophet; and these hieroglyphs were themselves, divinely designed miniature representations of future events. We read, the description of what Daniel and John saw; and they saw, not certain events (as the rise and fall of empires), but miniature symbols or. hieroglyphs of certain events. These were exhibited to them, by Him who knows the end from the beginning, and who wished to reveal to them and to others through them, long series of great events, to happen in ages to come on a wide theatre, and to interest and affect the entire human race. For obvious reasons, this had to be done in a very narrow compass, and in a mysterious though comprehensible form; a form which "the wise" only should understand, and that only after the lapse of ages. To do it, while observing these conditions, Divine wisdom selected as the most suitable medium, the universal language of symbols, the language that needs no intervention of sounds to make it significant; the language that represents ideas not words; things not their names, which appeals to the eye rather than to the ear, and which is equally comprehensible by every nation, people and tongue. As these hieroglyphs are historic, chronology is necessarily one of their most important features, and as duration cannot be expressed by symbolic devices, the time of the vision is given in words.
Now would it not be to impeach Divine wisdom, to suppose that God has, in these miniature symbols, violated the laws of proportionate reduction, in a way which the feeble intelligence of his creatures would forbid them to do? To suppose that He who-endows the architect and the artist with wisdom to make their drawings to scale, has Himself adhered to no scale, and that without giving us any intimation of the fact, He has in these symbols, presented some features in miniature, and some as large as life? These prophetic hieroglyphs are from God, they are therefore perfect; they are miniatures; every feature is therefore on a reduced scale, and among the rest, their chronology.
The chronological emblem has to be conveyed to the mind through the ear, instead of like the rest, through the eye; a beast may image an empire; a horn may represent a dynasty, but on the duration of the empire or the dynasty, these symbols give no light.
It requires words to express a period of time, but the period so expressed, may be as much a symbol of some other period, as the beast or the horn are symbols of some other thing. The reality of Antichrist was for wise reasons, veiled for a time, under the symbol of the "little horn," the reality of the duration of his dominion, was for the same reasons veiled under the symbol of "time, times, and the dividing of time." We have to compare Scripture with Scripture, and Scripture with history, to learn the meaning of the "little horn," and we must do the same to learn the meaning of the "time, times, ‘and a half," for the one is as symbolic as the other.
The next question is, on what scale are these hieroglyphs constructed? What for instance is the proportion between the wild beast of #Dan 7:7, and the Roman Empire, of which it is the universally acknowledged symbol?
Evidently the reduction is on as enormous a scale as when our world is represented by a globe a foot in diameter. Reason then compels us to conclude that in the chronology of the wild beast, an equally enormous reduction will be found. Otherwise there would exist on the face of this prophecy, that incongruous mixture of some miniature and some life-sized features, that we dare not attribute to inspiration. The statement of time must, like the prophecy in which it occurs, be a symbolic miniature, intended to convey a reality immensely greater than itself. We do not assert that the words in which these Statements of time are made, are symbolic: that a "day" means anything but a day, or a "year," anything but a year, but that the ideas of time conveyed to the mind, by these words, are symbols, intended to suggest other ideas of time, just as much as the ideas conveyed by the other parts of the hieroglyphs, are intended to suggest something different from themselves.
If this be granted, the next question is, does Scripture prescribe any scale by which these miniature numbers are to be enlarged? For in order to be of any use, chronological revelations must be accurate. If we desire to ascertain from a map the distance between any two given points, we take the apparent space in a pair of compasses, and measuring it against the scale at the side of the map, we perceive the actual distance. So with a chart of history, every inch may represent a century, and be divided into a hundred parts to represent years. A short line of definite length, then accurately expresses the duration of an empire, or the life of an individual, because we can compare the length of that line with the scale, and thus learn the real period. Without such a scale or key, map and chart would be equally useless, the one would give us no idea of actual dimension or distance, nor would the other inform us, as to actual duration.
The above named prophetic periods, are, it will be observed, described under the five main divisions of time, ”hours," "days," "weeks," "months," and "years." There are mentioned 3 days, 10 days, 1260 days, and 1335 days; a half-week, a week, seven weeks, sixty-two weeks, and seventy weeks; five months and forty-two months; a "day, month, and year," and "time, times, and a half."
It is evident that in order to be intelligible, these measures of time must all be interpreted on one scale. What scale is it? Is it the grand Divine scale of "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years"? or is it an hour for a day? or a day for a month? or day for a year? or what is it?
The great answer to this important query is found in the fact, that one of these periods has been fulfilled; and therefore supplies the key to all the rest. The seventy weeks of Daniel ix. elapsed between the decree of Artaxerxes, and the advent of Messiah. That period was actually 490 years, the prophecy announced it as 490 days, or "seventy weeks," and we are therefore led to conclude, that in all the above analogous pages, where time is predicted in miniature and in mystery, in harmony with the miniature and mysterious nature of the symbols by which the prophecy is conveyed, a year is represented by a day, seven years by a week, thirty years by a month, 360 years by a "year," and so on.
This principle once admitted; the chronology of these prophecies becomes simple and accurate, and available for our present study of the periodicity of human history. The plan of times and seasons governing both past and future events is seen to be perfect, and marvellous in its comprehensiveness; in its harmony with other Scripture and with nature; and in its significance.
But if this system be rejected, the chronology of prophecy becomes a strangely unmeaning thing, and these magnificent harmonies entirely disappear. Chaos reigns where order reigned, and we look in vain for indications of Divine wisdom, in the plan of the ordering of the ages.
And yet, strange to say, this natural, simple, scriptural, "year-day system," of interpreting the mysterious dates connected with the symbolic prophecies, has been strongly opposed by Futurists, who maintain that statements of time should be taken as literally in Daniel and John as in Genesis and Exodus-be regarded as having precisely the same force, when connected with a mass of miniature symbols, as when associated with the plainest literal predictions.
This system of interpretation originated, as we before mentioned, with Bossuet and other Jesuit writers, who, anxious to turn off from the Papacy the tremendous arguments against it, furnished by the application to it of the predictions of God’s word about Antichrist, and Babylon, were driven to propose some alternative. They could not admit that the dynasty of the Popes had fulfilled the prophecies respecting the "man of sin," or that the Roman Catholic Church was, as the Reformers boldly asserted, "BABYLON THE GREAT ;" yet it was clear, on other power and system that had ever existed, so well answered the description. Lest this fact should strike the minds of men, they maintained that all these prophecies were still unfulfilled; and insisted upon the duty of literal interpretation, especially of the prophetic times. The fact that it has been held and taught by reformers and martyrs, who resisted unto blood the errors of Popery, and that it has been opposed by the champions of that corrupt and evil system, is itself a plea for the truth of the year-day interpretation. The solid and unanswerable arguments in its favour, adduced by the great Protestant expositors, gave currency to it, in spite of Jesuit opposition, and the system of prophetic interpretation with which it is connected, was soon so generally held in the Reformed Churches, as to be commonly known as the "Protestant" view.
During the last half century Futurist views have however gained ground even among Protestants; and in a good deal of current prophetic exposition, they are quietly assumed; and dogmatically taught to many who have never studied the subject, or clearly understood what the Protestant view is. We believe the Futurist view to be an erroneous and mischievous one; it precludes any adequate conception of the majestic range of the predictions of Scripture, it deprives the church of the guidance of Divine prophecy, as to the character and doom of the great Apostasy; and of the stimulus to faith and hope, afforded by the true interpretation. We must therefore be excused for dwelling a little more at length on the subject, which is not only important in itself but fundamental to our present inquiry into the periodicity of history.
An exhaustive and masterly treatise on the year-day system, from the pen of the Rev. T. R. Birks (Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, Professor of Moral Philosophy), appeared about thirty years ago, in his work entitled "First Elements of Sacred Prophecy," a work which it is now difficult to procure. To the arguments and reasoning adduced by this cautious and candid writer, little can be added. Every student of the prophetic word, who wishes to arrive at the truth on the subject, should carefully ponder this elaborate and thorough examination of it. Recast, so as to adapt it to the present day, the reproduction of this work would be of immense service to the church. We give some extracts, and a brief summary of the general scope of the argument.
"The year-day theory," says Professor Birks, "’ may be summed up in these maxims
1. That the church after the ascension of Christ was in tended of God to be kept in the lively expectation of his speedy return in glory.
2. That in the Divine counsels a long period, of nearly two thousand years, was to intervene between the first and the second advent; and to be marked by a dispensation of grace to the Gentiles.
3. That in order to strengthen the faith and hope of the church under the long delay, a large part of the whole interval was prophetically announced, but in such a manner that its true length might not be understood, until its own close seemed to be drawing near.
4. That in the symbolic prophecies of Daniel and St. John, other "times" were revealed along with this, and included under one common maxim of interpretation.
5. That the periods thus figuratively revealed are exclusively those of Daniel and St. John, which relate to the general history of the church, between the time of the prophet and the second advent.
6. That in these predictions each day represents a natural year, as in the vision of Ezekiel; that a month denotes thirty, and a "time" or year, three hundred and sixty years.
The first of these maxims is plain ‘from the statements of Scripture, and the second from the actual history of the world. The third is, on a priori grounds, a natural and reasonable inference from the two former, and is the true basis of the year-day theory viewed in its final cause. The three following present the theory itself under its true limits. Perhaps no simpler method could be suggested in which such a partial and half-veiled revelation could be made, than that which the Holy Spirit is thus supposed to adopt, resting as it does on a plain analogy of natural times.
Now the mere statement of these axioms removes at once several main difficulties which have been used to perplex and embarrass the inquiry.
First it has been urged, that this larger interpretation of the prophetic times is inconsistent with the repeated commands of our Saviour, that the church should always be watching for his return. How could this be possible, it is asked, if it were revealed from the first, that 1260 years must elapse before that advent should arrive?
This objection disappears in a moment, when the fads and the hypothesis are simply compared together. The very reason for which the times are asserted to have been given in this unusual form is, that they might not be understood too early, when they would have interfered with the earnestness of continual expectation. The only way to sustain this objection is to assume that the fact of such a revelation being given, made it the duty of the church to understand at once its true meaning. Two duties would then seem to contradict each other, -the obligation of continual watchfulness, and the duty of understanding the message, that more than twelve centuries would intervene before the advent. But the contradiction is not real . . . there could be no obligation to understand the times from the first.
2.Again it has often been argued, that the mystical interpretation would compel us to lengthen the millennium to 360,000 years. But the principle on which the theory has just now been founded, removes this objection also. The millennium is not included in that time of waiting, which made it desirable to conceal the times under a symbolic veil. . . . It has been further objected that the year-day interpretation was totally unknown for twelve centuries. This was a natural and necessary consequence of the principle on which it depends. Instead therefore of being a valid objection, it forms a remarkable presumption in favour of its truth. In fact this exposition appeared first, at the very time when it must have appeared, if the principles on which it is founded had a real existence." As a presumption in favour of the mystical meaning of these dates, it must be observed, that they either occur in the midst of the symbols, or else "bear plain marks of a singular, uncommon, and peculiar phraseology, or are prefaced by word importing concealment." In the case of several of them, the unit of time being left undefined, "days" is not more literal than "years." The fact also that they occur exclusively in two books of symbolical and mysterious character, suggests the idea, that they have a covert and mystical meaning; especially when we recall the words of our Lord, "It is not for you to know the times and the seasons." It should also be borne in mind, that these dates (with the exception of the seventy weeks of Daniel, which has been fulfilled, on the scale of a year to a day) all pertain to the times of the Christian dispensation. Peter tells us that it was not for the prophets themselves, but for the Christian church that these "times" were revealed. (#Dan 12, #1Pet 1:10-12,) Now the Christian dispensation throughout is one of antitypical realities, instead of one of types and shadows and symbols, and it is harmonious with its character to suppose, that there is a typical analogy between the "day" of these predictions, and the "year" of their fulfilment.
Another strong presumption in favour of the same view arises, from the singular impressiveness and solemnity which accompanies the announcement of these periods, a special and almost awful solemnity, which is hard to explain, if the periods be -the brief ones apparently suggested by the expressions used. "They are not given in passing, nor as matters of subordinate importance; . . . it is in connection with one of these dates that our Lord receives the title of ‘the Wonderful Numberer.’ . . . The time, times and ‘a half’ are twice revealed to Daniel, in two visions at an interval of twenty years; in the second of these the words are introduced with peculiar solemnity. Two saints are exhibited as speakers; one of them inquires the duration of the predicted wonders, the reply is given by our Lord Himself; with all the solemnity of a direct appeal to God. ‘I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when He lifted up his hand to heaven and sware by Him that liveth for ever, that it shall be for time and times and the dividing of a time.’ No words could well be more expressive of deep mystery, and of the special importance to the church of the period thus revealed." That there was a mystery in these numbers was recognised in the church long before its true nature could be guessed. The strange and unusual adjuncts forbad expositors to rest in the simple literal meaning of the language employed. The Jews themselves supposed the time times and a half "to have a century for its unit, and denote three hundred and fifty years."
When we turn from presumption, to direct evidence in favour of the year-day system, the prophecy of the seventy weeks occupies the first place, and is indeed by itself an almost conclusive argument in its support. The only way in which its force can be evaded) is by saying that the word employed in the original (shabua) is ambiguous, meaning a hebdomad or seven, not necessarily of days; that the event has shown that in this case it meant years, and that consequently the passage affords no ground for the year-day view. The answer to this is simple and conclusive. It is perfectly true that the original word does not define the unit, and might mean seven of any measure of time; but it is also a fact, that in Scripture, where it occurs about ten times, it is invariably used to denote seven days; we are therefore bound to suppose it is used in the same sense in Dan. ix., and thus the argument retains all its force. Seventy sevens of days was the symbol employed to denote seventy sevens of years.
And that this important passage affords the true key to the scale on which all these miniature symbols ought to be enlarged, appears the more likely when we consider two other passages in which God Himself declares that He adopts this scale. The first is the sentence on Israel in the desert: "after the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years." The twelve men who searched the land were representatives of the twelve tribes of Israel; they were not symbols of them, but they were types-representatives-a few men representing a great many. So the forty days during which they searched the land, are made typical of the forty years, during which they should wander in the wilderness..
Now here, it is not as in Daniel, the fulfilment which proves the prediction to have been on this scale; but the scale is fixed and adopted by God before the event.
And it is the same in #Ezek 4:4, where the prophet is commanded to enact a type, to become himself a living emblem of the house of Israel, by lying first on his left side for three hundred and ninety days, and then on his right side for forty days. Ezekiel here, like the spies before, was a type or representative of the nation; his recumbent position, a type of their degradation and debasement by national sin, and the period during which he was to maintain that position, divinely fixed beforehand, represented the period to be completed prior to the end of the judgment which was to fall on that nation. And as Ezekiel was a small emblem of a large nation, so the days were a brief emblem of a long period. "I have appointed thee a day for a year, a day for a year." In each of these periods a day, in the enacted prophetic type, represented a year in the subsequent history. When therefore in Daniel and the Apocalypse, we find a variety of enacted prophetic symbols of subsequent history, associated with the announcement of periods in days, why should we doubt, that the same scale is to be applied for their enlargement and adaptation to the reality? The word of God furnishes no single instance of the employment of any other.
Besides these three clear Old Testament instances of the employment of a year-day scale, there is one New Testament incident, in which it is almost impossible to avoid the conclusion that our Lord Jesus Christ adopts the same symbolic phraseology, and that for the identical reason for which it is employed in prophecy, -to reveal while concealing, and to conceal while revealing, the future.
It is in his message to Herod, when informed by the Pharisees of that monarch’s intention to kill Him. "Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless, I must walk to-day, and to-morrow, and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem."
There is a peculiar precision in this twice-repeated statement -of time, which forbids the thought that it was a mere indefinite substitute for "a little longer;" as if He had said, "I must continue a little longer my works of mercy." He twice over mentions a definite period of three days. But a much longer period than three literal days elapsed between the utterance of these words and the death and resurrection of Christ, so the expression cannot be taken literally. It is an admitted fact on the other hand, that the ministry of Christ lasted three complete years, the- period which elapsed between that first passover at which He cleansed the temple at the commencement of his public ministry, and that fourth passover, which He eat with his disciples the night before He suffered. The sentence in question, would therefore exactly describe the appointed duration of his ministry, on the year-day principle and would point out his Divine foreknowledge of the time when He was to be delivered by the Jews into the hands of the Gentiles, crucified, and raised again, or "perfected." It was as though, hearing of
Herod’s crafty intentions to kill Him, He had sent him word, "You have no power against me, till I reach the time and the place predetermined for my death and resurrection. My ministry must last for three years, and terminate as it began, at the passover at Jerusalem."
There are thus three plain cases in the Old Testament, and one scarcely less clear in the New, in which the year-day system is divinely employed, and we have consequently substantial scriptural grounds on which to base it. And in addition to these presumptions in its favour, and to these scriptural instances of its employment, it must be observed that each of the above-mentioned fourteen prophetic statements of time, which the Protestant system interprets on this year-day scale, affords internal evidence when carefully examined, that it is not intended to be interpreted literally.
1. The leading one—the "time, times, and dividing of a time," is, to begin with, a most peculiar form of expression by which to designate a brief period of three and a half years. "If the short reckoning were the true one, no reason can be given why the times should not be expressed in the most customary form. On the other hand, the year-day theory requires that a shorter term should be merely suggested, in such a way as to hinder us from resting in the typical phrase, as the true meaning. Now such exactly is the term before us. It doubtless suggests to the mind by comparison with other texts, three years and a half. But it is not the usual or literal expression for that period. Twice alone does that interval occur elsewhere (#Luke 6:25, #Jas 5:7), and in both it is expressed by the natural phrase, three years and six months. The same is true in every similar case. Paul abode at Corinth "one year and six months" (#Acts 18:2), David reigned in Hebron "seven years and six months" (#2Sam 2:2). He was with the Philistines "a year and four months" (#1Sam 27:7). The form in which the periods of time are expressed, is thus invariably the same.
And hence though three years and a half are suggested to the mind by this phrase, there is nothing in the words which fixes it to this sense. This has not in truth any more claim to be the literal meaning than one thousand two hundred and sixty years.
2.-But secondly, the fundamental term, a time implies, rather than excludes, the wider sense. The natural series of words of time, consists of a day, a week, a month, and a year. The first three are retained in the prophetic calendar; but the last of them is replaced by this general expression-a time-which takes the lead of all the others. It occurs in the first of these dates, and in two or rather three others on which the rest chiefly depend. Now this substitution could not be without meaning. It leaves the analogy among the different periods unbroken; but at the same time, it sets loose this fundamental period, so as to be at liberty even by the common rules of language, to receive a larger signification.
This argument becomes much stronger, when we consider the actual use of the same term in other passages. It is of frequent recurrence in the Old Testament, and is employed to denote periods of various lengths, and even extending to many years. It meets us first in the narrative of the creation: "Let them (the sun and moon) be for signs and, for seasons," where it is distinguished alike from days and years. It is frequently used to denote the appointed time of all the feasts of the law. (#Lev 23:2, #Lev 23:4, #Lev 23:37, #Lev 23:44; #Num 9:2-3, #Num 9:7, #Num 9:13, #Num 10:10, #Num 15:3.) It is employed with regard to the fall of Pharaoh Hophra, and the restoration of Israel. "Pharaoh hath passed the time appointed" (#Jer 46:17). -"The time to favour Zion, the set time is come" (#Ps 102:13). "The vision (of the coming of Christ) is yet for an appointed time" (#Hab 2). In these and several other passages -an extensive interval is clearly implied: and the fundamental idea is one, which has no respect to the length or shortness of the period, but simply to its fixed and determinate character. It is plain how completely these two marks, that it is at once indefinite, and determinate, make it a suitable term to form the basis of a prophetic chronology, on the year-day system.. The different terms used to denote the same period, are a further proof that it cannot denote three natural years and a half. The same interval occurs seven times over. Twice it is mentioned as ‘time, times, and a dividing of a time’; once as ‘time, times, and a half’; twice as ‘forty and two months’; and twice as ‘twelve hundred and sixty days.’, A comparison of these passages will show that they all relate to the same period. Yet the expression is varied in this remarkable manner, and in all these variations is never once expressed by the natural and literal phrase. How can , we explain this remarkable feature, but by supposing it to indicate a mysterious and hidden sense? The Holy Spirit seems in a manner to exhaust all the phrases by which the interval could be expressed, excluding always that one form, which would be used of course in ordinary writing, and which is used invariably in Scripture on other occasions, to denote the literal period. The variation is most significant if we accept the year-day system, but quite inexplicable on the other view.
Two arguments in favour of the extended view of these dates, may be drawn from the history of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and its fulfilment, one connected with the word "times," the other dependent on the typical character of the monarch. Nebuchadnezzar beheld in vision a lofty tree, interpreted to denote the king himself; he heard a watcher, even a Holy one, proclaim a remarkable sentence on the tree, that it should be hewn down and stripped. "Let his heart be changed from a man’s heart, and let a beast’s heart be given unto him, and let seven times pass over him." This sentence on the tree, was fulfilled in the period of the insanity of the king, which though nowhere stated to have lasted seven years, is by general consent allowed to have done so. Now at first sight this seems to afford an argument against the year-day interpretation, for here "seven times" clearly denoted seven literal years; on closer examination, however, it will be found to do the reverse. The expression "time" does not, as we have seen, imply any particular period; any definite season, a day, a week, a month, a year, or a century, would be equally well expressed by it. The conclusion that the king’s insanity lasted seven years, is not based therefore on the force of the word, but on the context and the nature of the case. We cannot suppose that seven days, weeks, or even months, would have sufficed to teach the monarch the great lesson he had to learn and teach to others; the duration of his life excludes the thought that seven centuries, or seven of any longer measure of time, were meant, and all things considered, seven real years, seems the only period that can have been intended. But when the same expression "times" occurs in connection with an empire whose’ duration is 2000 years, every reason which has led us to conclude that in the case of the individual king it meant years of days, now leads us to conclude that in the case of the empire it means years of years. If an insanity of seven weeks would seem an event unworthy of such solemn prediction, or of such a prominent place in the life of an individual, how much more so, an apostasy of three and a half years, in the history of an empire which extends over twenty centuries.
But Nebuchadnezzar was a typical, representative man. Not only was he the golden head of the great fourfold image, but he stands as its representative, as the representative of the long succession of Gentile rulers, who were to succeed him, till the coming of the Son of man. The two characteristic marks of these Gentile rulers have been idolatry and persecution of God’s saints; these two things are represented as characterizing Nebuchadnezzar. His image making, and image worshipping, typified the idolatry (Pagan and Papal), which has been so indelibly stamped on all the four great empires; his "burning fiery furnace" for the faithful witnesses, typified the persecution which has been inflicted on the people of God, by each of the four great ruling empires in turn, especially by the modern spiritual Babylon. These two characters of idolatrous debasement and fierce cruelty, are those which render the symbol of wild beasts, suitable to represent these empires; and thus Nebuchadnezzar too is presented as a beast; his degradation to a bestial condition, typified the moral degradation of the Gentile kingdoms, through idolatry, pride, and self-exaltation; his restoration to reason, prefigured the yet future day when the empires of earth shall own that "the heavens do rule." Now, over this typical man, passed a period of insanity, which was doubtless equally typical; and which is the only clue we have to the appointed duration of the "times of the Gentiles," for neither in connection with the fourfold image, or with the four wild beasts, have we any hint of the length of this interval.
But the image, the king himself, and the wild beasts, are three types of one and the same thing under different aspects; and thus the duration of Nebuchadnezzar’s insanity becomes typical of the duration of the times of the Gentiles, the times during which supreme power in the earth, is by God committed to Gentile rulers, instead of to the seed of David. Now these "times" have already lasted more than 2400 years since the days of Nebuchadnezzar, and thus we see that the seven years of days, during which the king was insane, were intended to prefigure seven years of years (2520 years) during which the moral and spiritual degradation and debasement of the kingdoms of this world, dating from himself are destined to endure. Now the oft-repeated interval of "time times and a half" "forty-two months," "1260 days," all refer to the second half of this period, ; and must therefore be fulfilled on the same scale as the whole period. They are part; not of the type, but of the antitype, and they must be interpreted not on the scale of the type, but on the scale of the antitype, that is on the scale of a day for a year.
This inference is strengthened by one further remark. If the whole interval from Nebuchadnezzar’s reign be divided into two equal portions, . . . the latter half falls exclusively within the times of the fourth or Roman empire, and soon after the time when its division into separate kingdoms was first completed. This is a pointed coincidence with the broader features of the prophecy, for in the vision also the "time times and a half" are all included in the period which follows after the ten horns have arisen.
The vision of Daniel viii. gives the prophetic date of two thousand three hundred days as the duration of the restored daily sacrifice, and of the subsequent desolations.
Now if we take this literally, it makes a period of between six and seven years, analogous to nothing else in Scripture, and incomprehensible in connection with the question to which it is an answer. Besides, if this were the time intended it would have been far more natural to have described it in years than in days. No motive of concealment could exist, to require a veil of mystery; nor indeed is any veil of mystery used, for it is a simple question of arithmetical reduction to resolve these days into years. That it is not to be taken literally, however, is proved by the constant usage of Scripture. Not a passage can be found in the Bible in which a period exceeding a yeas is stated in days-and only two, in which a period exceeding two months is so mentioned (except of course those in which these symbolic dates occur).
But the word days is not used; the real form of the expression indicates more mystery, and suggests on critical grounds, the idea that no unit of time is given at all, and, that consequently "days" is no more literal than years. "Unto evenings and mornings, or unto evening morning, two thousand three hundred." That a long period is intended appears, from the angel’s words, "shut up the vision, for it shall be for many days." Now six or seven years is but a brief period in our estimation, how much less in an angel’s? Gabriel would not thus have spoken of so short an interval. But if the period intended were twenty-three centuries, his words have an appropriate dignity. If we interpret this date on the year-day principle, it reaches from the time of Daniel to the future restoration of Israel, and is a clear and satisfactory answer to the double question.* It marks the duration of the restored daily sacrifice, and of the subsequent desolation; the five centuries between Cyrus and Titus during which Jewish sacrifices were daily offered in the restored temple being its first portion; while the second and longer portion comprehends the final destruction of the city and temple, the treading down of Jerusalem by the Gentiles, and the dispersion of her people; and stretches onward to the future advent when the sanctuary shall be finally cleansed. The period being so long, and the greater part of it being occupied by this gospel dispensation, its length is purposely veiled, under an enigmatical yet deeply significant form of expression, and was evidently not intended to be understood at first. "Shut thou up the vision, for it shall be for many days." It included a declaration of the long duration of that economy of grace to the Gentiles, whose occurrence at all, was for five hundred years afterwards, a hidden mystery. "The mystery which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men . . . that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ, by the gospel." Here is a reason for the enigmatical form of the chronological announcement; they who take it literally and refer it to a distant future, make a mystery without a meaning.
"The strangeness of the expression being once proved, our choice lies between a mystery which means nothing, and a mystery which has a plain and definite cause in God’s providence, and a key not less plain and definite, and three times repeated in God’s holy word. Who would hesitate which alternative to choose?"
It is the same with three dates given in #Dan 12; they form one group, the last two being merely extensions of the great period "time, times, and a half;" and they must of course be interpreted on the same principle. The interval covered by this last prophecy (which begins with chapter xi.), clearly extends from the time then present, to the resurrection; it commences with, "Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia," and reaches on in unbroken sequence, to that time when "many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake." A solemn importance is thrown around the announcement of the times, "I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by Him that liveth for ever and ever, that it shall be for a time, times, and a half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished." Now it seems incongruous to suppose that this singularly impressive oath applies to a brief period, not one six-hundredth part of the whole interval revealed.
We turn now to the book of Revelation, to discover whether its testimony confirms the evidence afforded by the prophecies of Daniel, that the principle on which these sacred dates are to be interpreted, is that of a year for a day.
As to the ten days’ persecution of the church at Smyrna, a literal fulfilment is unknown to history, though this is of course no proof that it did not take place. But if Smyrna be only one phase; moral and chronological, of the whole Christian Church, that of the closing days of Paganism, prior to the entrance of gross corruption, as seems probable, the ten years of Diocletian’s last great persecution, would evidently be meant by the expression. The passage does not however tell strongly either way, though it is almost absurd to sup that persecution of ten literal days would be made a subject of prophetic revelation at all.
In the case of the locust woe (#Rev 9:5), the miniature symbol again demands a miniature period, and the one selected is that of the ordinary ravages of locusts, but it evidently requires the year-day system to make it commensurate with the events predicted to take place during its course. In the case of the Euphratean horsemen, the very peculiarity of the phrase (#Rev 9:15) suggests as before a mystic meaning. Why, if the period intended were literal, should an hour be mentioned at all? and why should the ordinary way of mentioning the larger period first, be completely reversed? But an improved reading (given by Matthiei and found in seven or eight of the best manuscripts) would give the words thus, "the angels prepared for that hour and that day, were loosed both a month and a year," i.e., 390 days. Now this was the exact period during which Ezekiel was commanded to lie on his side , to represent the 390 years of the judgment of Israel.. Mr Birks truly remarks, "this has not the air of a casual resemblance it is rather an express mark supplied to us by the Holy Spirit, and directing us to the true key by which to interpret these prophetic periods." The 390 years was in each case marked as one of stubborn unrepenting idolatry, closed by decisive overthrow and judgment, and the period occurs nowhere else in Scripture.
The forty-two months of the treading down of the holy city (#Rev 11:2), if taken literally, seems strangely unmeaning. Jerusalem has already been trodden down of the Gentiles 1800 years, and it will, as we know from our Lord’s own words, continue to be so till the close of the times of the Gentiles. In what sense can this period be defined by "forty and two months"? And why if the Period designed, were really as brief a one, as that in which the heavens were shut up by Elias (alluded to in the passage), why was not the same expression used to designate it, "three years and six months"?
That the "three days and a half" during which the witnesses lie unburied (#Rev 11:9) is symbolic, is proved by the fact that "we have about thirty passages in Scripture where three days are mentioned to define an interval, and four where four days occur; but nowhere else is the fraction of a day introduced into such a measurement of time. . . . If the Holy Spirit had intended natural days only, would He have used a preciseness in the statement of time, which is nowhere else employed in nearly forty examples, not even in that most important of all facts, the resurrection of our Lord "?
The previous remarks as to the congruity of miniature dates with miniature symbols, and as to the mystery indicated by the unusual phraseology, apply equally to the two chronological periods in Rev. xii. The sun-clad star-crowned woman is evidently a symbol of the true or spiritual Israel, and her flight into the wilderness, where she is nourished for x 260 days, of some period of the church’s history. Now the natural Israel of old fled also from the persecution of a tyrant king, into the wilderness, where they were nourished with bread from heaven, and water from the rock; and we know their’ wilderness history to have been typical to the highest degree. There is not a point in the type, for which we cannot perceive a corresponding antitype, and it is natural to expect some analogy in the periods of the two sojourns in the wilderness. Now the duration of Israel’s wanderings in the desert, was unquestionably fixed and announced by God, on the year-day principle; "after the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years." Can we escape the conviction that the same principle is to be applied to the 1260 days here specified, as marking the abode of the antitypical Israel in the wilderness?
The period of the domination of "the beast" is fixed (#Rev 13:5) as "forty and two months." This is the last of the mystic dates we have to consider. It must be compared with the explanation (#Rev 17:9-11):-" The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. And there are seven kings ; five have fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet .come; and when he cometh he must continue a short space ; and the beast that was and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition." The argument in favour of the year-day interpretation yielded by this passage is of the following character:-Prior to the days of John, five forms of government had succeeded each other in Rome. These were the five fallen heads; a sixth was then in being, a seventh was to follow, and occupy a short space, and the beast who was to continue forty and two months was to be the eighth. Thus the whole interval from AD. 96, the date of the Apocalypse, to the still future destruction of the beast, is divided into three parts, -the remainder of the sixth head, the "short space" of the seventh, and the forty-two months of the eighth head, or "the beast."
Now since the first is only a remainder, and the second expressly predicted as short, we should naturally expect the third to be the longest in duration. The whole interval is already nearly 1800 years: how, then, is it possible to suppose this third to be only three years and a half? The second must, of course, in that case be still less, and the fractional first part would have to be extended over 1770 years! On the year-day principle all is harmonious: the forty-two months of the beast occupy 260 years out of the whole period, leaving 516 years to be divided between the fraction of the sixth, and the "short space" of the seventh head.
Mr. Birks thus sums up his masterly argument, of which the foregoing is a mere outline:-" The year-day theory rests on a surprising combination of scriptural arguments, some of which, it is true, are indirect, and some doubtful; but the great majority are full, clear, and unambiguous. First of all there are four or five distinct presumptions of a general kind, that the dates have some secret meaning. There are, then, three plain and certain, and one more disputable passage, which supply an express rule of interpretation, and a key at once simple and comprehensive, the direct appointment of God Himself When we further proceed to examine the passages in detail, we find that every one, without exception, yields some peculiar argument, in support of this same view; and several of them furnish us with two or three distinct proofs. And besides all these internal evidences for the system, it is found to have a basis in the heavenly revolutions themselves, and to be confirmed by its manifest harmony with the most exact elements of natural science."
Thus we have shown,
1. THAT THE CHRONOLOGY OF THE HEBREW BIBLE IS OUR ONLY RELIABLE GUIDE, AS TO THE PERIODS OF REMOTE ANTIQUITY; and that the two gaps which occur in it, between the death of Moses, and the accession of Saul, have necessarily very brief limits, and cannot affect the question of the age of the world, to a greater extent than about fifty or sixty years.
2. And we have proved, as far as the point admits of proof
THAT THE PERIODS OF SYMBOLIC CHRONOLOGICAL PROPHECY, ARE TO BE INTERPRETED ON THE YEAR-DAY SYSTEM.
We are consequently in a position to consider the periodicity of history as a whole, taking into account the times foretold as in their day future, by Daniel and John, as well as those recorded as past, by other holy men of old.
We now proceed to examine these periods, to trace their mutual relations, and their relations to other series of periods, and to show the Divine plan and system which underlies them, connecting them on the one hand with the periods of vital phenomena, and on the other with those of the whole magnificent solar system.
In pursuing this investigation, it must be borne in mind that the great end of all human history, like the great end of the existence of every human being, is a moral one. Existence to the entire race, like life to each individual, is a state of probation and education. The great objects of God, in his dealings with man from age to age, seem to have been, to reveal to him and to the universe, his true character and condition as a fallen being; while at the same time unveiling his own glorious, righteous, and gracious attributes, making known his purposes, and bringing forth his salvation.
Ignore this moral purpose of God, and human history becomes inexplicable, its chronology reducible to no system, and its study comparatively profitless and vain. Recognise it, and the whole outline and movement of the great drama, are at once intelligible, the plan underlying its periods is clear, and its study becomes fraught with lessons of the deepest and most solemn importance.
The true plan of history can therefore be found only in the Bible. The birth of humanity, its growth and maturity, its fall and its restoration, are all to be best traced in the Holy Word of God; and the key to its chronology and periodicity is also here. In vain do those who neglect the scriptures seek to understand aright, either man’s past or his future.
The main divisions of history which we shall now proceed to present, will be found therefore to have a character more moral and dispensational, than political. Many of the greatest political events in the world’s history will have to pass under our review, but we shall regard them as occupying a place of subordinate, and not of paramount importance. The central line, to which all political events have more or less reference, will be seen to be THE HISTORY OF THE TYPICAL AND OF THE ANTITYPICAL ISRAELS, -THE JEWISH NATION AND THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH. Bible history and prophecy range themselves around these, just as Bible geography ranges itself around Jerusalem and the Holy Land; and the reason is obvious.
The natural and spiritual seed of Abraham are the line of promise, the peculiar people of God, in and through whom alone, mankind is to be saved and blessed. "In thee, and in thy seed, shall all nations of the earth be blessed."
As in each of the realms into which we have already glanced, so here in the realm of history, we shall find everything adapted to the great Divine septiform system. In a marvellous, hidden, and intricate manner, THE WEEK measures the periods of history, both great and small. Patient and accurate attention to the statements of Scripture is needful in order to trace out the arrangement of its periods, for it is purposely disguised and concealed, so as to elude the observation of the -superficial reader. A comprehension of the biblical system of times and seasons, is calculated to fill the mind with awe and admiration, and to draw forth fresh worship of the omniscient God, who orders all things after the counsel of his own will, and knows the end, from the beginning.
There is, in the various particulars we shall have to pass in review, a cumulative force; peculiarities observed in a few periods, or even in many, would be insufficient to prove the existence of plan and system, but when a vast multitude of events, and innumerable periods of the most various and apparently incongruous dimensions, ranging in duration from hours to millenaries, are found to fall into order and harmony, at the touch of a single wand, on the application of a single principle, then it will surely be clear to a candid mind, that history has been intentionally ordered on that principle; and when, further, that principle is seen to be the same that regulates the phenomena of the organic and inorganic creations, and the same that is consistently adopted in Holy Scripture, the conclusion is as inevitable, as it is elevating and sanctifying, that it is the Almighty Maker of all worlds, the sole Lord and Giver of life, the Author of the sacred volume, who so orders it, who is the Ruler of all events, the Disposer of all times and seasons. Our times are in his hands, and the times of all earthly empires, and kingdoms, and dynasties; and in due time his own kingdom shall overthrow all other dominion, and stand for ever. "The vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie; though it tarry, wait for it, for it shall surely come, it shall not tarry."
"God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill,
He treasures up his deep designs,
And works his sovereign will.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will he the flower."
The grand primary division of all human history, whether viewed from the moral, or from the chronological stand-point, is into three main, comprehensive, and long-enduring dispensations.
Scripture presents us with, -
I. THE PATRIARCHAL AGE,
II. THE JEWISH DISPENSATION, and
III. THE "TIMES OF THE GENTILES," and with these great periods only; prior to the "Times of the Restitution of all things," or the Millennial Age.
The limits of the first or Patriarchal Age, are defined by the Apostle Paul in the 5th of Romans; "death reigned from Adam to Moses."
The second, or Jewish Dispensation, dating from the Divine act of dividing the nations of the earth, and assigning a preeminence and a sacred character to the family of Shem, included the entire history of the Jewish people and their fathers, and evidences of benevolent design, spoke to man of the wisdom, power, and goodness of his Creator.
But man had no ears to hear its silent testimony, no eye to take in its expressive teachings, no heart to feel its sweet and melting influences. He saw indeed the sun, moon, and stars, he beheld them with admiration and awe, but instead of look-’ing through nature up to nature’s God, he worshipped and served the creature instead of the Creator, who is blessed for ever. He did not like to retain God in his knowledge; he did not glorify Him as God; he was not thankful; he did not understand, as he should have done, the nature and character of the invisible Creator, from "the things which are made ;" he became vain, dark, foolish, utterly corrupt, and filled with a reprobate mind. In all this he was without excuse, for not only was nature a revelation of "eternal power and Godhead," which should have rendered impossible to intelligent beings, the degrading sin of idolatry, but God had added to this outward witness, an inward witness to Himself and his will, in the voice of conscience. Man had been made a law to himself; and left to follow or transgress the law thus written by the’ finger of God on the tables of his heart. The moral law within and the material universe without, were the double testimony to duty and to God, granted during the patriarchal age. In spite of both, men universally became idolaters; worshippers, not only of the brightest and grandest natural objects, such as the heavenly bodies, but of the lowest and most degraded, such as birds and beasts and creeping things, stocks and stones and Inanimate images. A reflex degradation was one punishment of this great sin; the idolater was given up by God to the lowest and vilest immorality. The heathen of our own day, the savage cannibals of the South Sea Islands, the ferocious fetish worshippers of Ashantee, the degraded aborigines of Australia, are specimens of the depth of moral depravity to which man may sink, when left to his own reading of the revelation afforded by nature.
Corruption and violence were the characteristics of the central portion of the patriarchal age, which closed with the flood. Idolatry was the great sin of its final third, which extended from the Deluge to the Exodus.
Egypt, the first mighty kingdom of antiquity, was the home and hot-bed of idolatry. The land was full of idol temples and idol monuments; huge monsters in human form, men and beasts, and reptiles, and even insects and onions, were adored as deities, and God was utterly forgotten and ignored. When at last his Divine claims came into conflict with the will of man, human crime, as represented by that first kingdom, culminated in the cruel oppression of Israel, and haughty defiance of Jehovah. The proud monarch that bowed before loathsome reptiles, refused to bow before the King of kings. God dishonouring idolatry, was mingled with God-defying audacity and rebellion; and judgment overtook the guilty: the ten plagues of Egypt were sent in sore and sad succession, ending with death-the death of the first-born, and the destruction of Pharaoh and all his hosts in the Red Sea..
Then followed THE DISPENSATION OF LAW. Man was no longer left to conscience and the light of nature. God unfolded to him far more of his holy character and will, by means of the law promulgated from Sinai, while his purposes of mercy were darkly foreshadowed in the ceremonial worship which He thence enjoined on Israel. It was a new and advanced revelation. Amid thunders and darkness and thick clouds, God descended in the presence of the assembled thousands of his chosen people. The mountain smoked and burned with fire, while lightnings uplit the lurid spectacle with a terrific glare.
A double law-moral and ceremonial-was given. Ten commandments were the principal embodiment of the former, while the establishment of the Tabernacle, the priesthood, and the Jewish worship, were the leading elements of the latter. The first was to convince of sin, the second to foreshadow its remedy. "The law entered that the offence might abound," and its ceremonies were "a shadow of good things to come."
With wonderful clearness and fulness the law revealed the holiness of God, his mercy, and his justice. He passed by and proclaimed Himself "the LORD, the LORD Gon, merciful and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in goodness and truth; keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, to the third and fourth generation." The whole Jewish dispensation was one long display of these Divine attributes, and afforded a revelation of God, deeper by far than that latent in nature. It had also the effect of testing man by a more searching probation, and revealing with additional clearness his true character. Sin became more evident in the light of the laws enacted against it: "sin by the commandment became exceeding sinful." In the Jew, man stands forth, not merely as a sinner, but as deliberate and persistent rebel against God, breaking every law imposed on him, abusing every privilege granted to him, and despising every blessing bestowed.
Before they had time to receive, in its written form, the law which had been orally delivered to them, Israel had violated its first great and fundamental command, "Thou shalt have no other Gods but me," and all their subsequent career was in harmony with this beginning.
They sinned, and committed iniquity, they understood not God’s wonders nor remembered his mercies, they provoked Him and forgot his works, they waited not for his counsel but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert; they envied Moses and Aaron; they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass; they forgat God their Saviour and despised the pleasant land; they murmured in their tents and hearkened not to the voice of the Lord; they joined themselves to Baal Peor, and ate the sacrifices of the dead; they provoked God to anger with their inventions; they did not destroy, as commanded, the idolatrous nations of Canaan, but were mingled among the heathen and learned their works; they served their idols and sacrificed their sons and daughters unto devils; they shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and daughters whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; they were defiled with their own works, and went a whoring with their own inventions, till the wrath of the Lord was kindled against his people, and He abhorred his own inheritance. Many times did He deliver them, but they provoked Him with their counsel and were brought low for their iniquity. They persecuted every prophet that was sent to them, and after every deliverance, fell lower than before, into all manner of sin and evil.
At last, long threatened judgment fell, and captivity after captivity came upon the tribes of Israel; Pul and Sennacherib invaded their land, Shalmanezer and Esarhaddon, kings of Assyria, conquered and enslaved the ten tribes,’and Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem and carried Judah away captive to Babylon. The city that was full of people and esteemed "princess among the provinces," sat solitary and became tributary, the ways of Zion mourned, and her gates were desolate; her beauty departed from Jerusalem, and she came down wonderfully; God covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger, and cast down the beauty of Israel; He cast off his altar, and abhorred his sanctuary, gave his people into the hand of the enemy, and scattered their princes among the Gentiles. "The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold," were "esteemed as earthen pitchers "-the adversary took possession of the gates of Jerusalem. The Lamentations of Jeremiah tell how deeply the chastisement was felt; the confessions of Daniel show what searchings of heart and what contrition it created.
But the restoration of Israel under Ezra and Nehemiah, and their prolonged probation, in their land, proved that the awful lesson had been all in vain. Prophet after prophet had announced to them the advent of Messiah the Prince. In due time HE came. God was manifest in the flesh. He came unto his own, -to this people whom for over two thousand years He had been preparing to receive Him; but "his own received Him not." They" despised and rejected Him;" they hated Him because He testified of them that their deeds were evil; they blasphemed the Son of God, accusing Him of deriving his power from the Prince of Devils; they took counsel together to slay the Holy and the Just; they bore false witness against Him to put Him to death; they became his betrayers and murderers; they cried, "Crucify Him, crucify Him," and by their wicked hands, He was crucified and slain.
And when the still ‘lingering longsuffering of God, sent them one more chance of repentance, and the risen Saviour told his apostles that remission of sins through his name, was to be preached among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem, when the Holy Ghost in Peter and in Stephen pleaded still with Israel to repent and be converted, they filled up the measure of their iniquities by rejecting this final offer of mercy. They slew Stephen, and persecuted the Church. "The Jews both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; they please not God, and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway, for wrath is come upon them to the uttermost" (#1Th 2:15-16).
A few years elapsed, after those words were written, and then that wrath was poured out. Jerusalem fell, and great was the fall thereof! Signal, terrible and unparalleled was the Jewish war, ending with the siege and capture of Jerusalem by Titus. It needs a pen dipped in fire and in blood to write the story in its true colours! The sufferings and miseries that overtook the Jewish nation in that age, are all but indescribable, the very record of them is appalling. One million one hundred thousand Jewish lives were sacrificed in the siege and capture of Jerusalem alone; streams of human blood extinguished the blazing fires that destroyed the houses of the city, and heaps of the unburied corpses of those who had died of starvation during the siege, hid from the Roman soldiers the immense treasures of the temple. From April 14th, when the siege began, to July 1st, -115,880 bodies were buried at the public expense, or thrown from the walls, not including those interred by their friends. Some said that 600,000 of the poorer people had perished of want; women cooked and ate their own children, "the maimed and defenceless people were slain in thousands"; when the temple at last fell, "they lay heaped like sacrifices round the altar, and the steps of the temple ran with streams of blood, which washed down the bodies that lay about." "The slaughter within was even more dreadful than the spectacle from without, . .. it was indiscriminate carnage. The number of the slain exceeded that of the slayers.
The treasuries, with their wealth of money, jewels, and costly robes, were totally destroyed. . .
. The value of the plunder obtained was so great, that gold fell in Syria to half its former value."
Milman, after describing the long and awful siege, and the multiplied suffering of the Jews, says, "Thus fell, and for ever, the metropolis of the Jewish State. Other cities have risen on the ruins of Jerusalem, and succeeded as it were to the inalienable inheritance of perpetual siege, oppression, and ruin. Jerusalem might almost seem to be a place under a peculiar curse; it has probably seen a far greater portion of human misery than any other spot upon the earth."
After its fall, "the markets of the Roman Empire were glutted with Jewish slaves; the amphitheatres were crowded with these miserable people, who were forced to slay each other, not singly but in troops, or else fall in rapid succession, glad to escape the tyranny of their masters by the expeditious cruelty of the wild beasts. And in the unwholesome mines hundreds were doomed to toil for wealth not to be their own." "The political existence of the Jewish nation was annihilated; it was never again recognised as one of the states or kingdoms of the world. Judea was sentenced to be portioned out to strangers, the capital was destroyed, the temple demolished, the high priesthood buried in its ruins, and the royal race extinct."
Titus had destroyed the temple and city of the Jews, and slaughtered and captured and sold into slavery millions of the people. About seventy years later, the Jews had sufficiently recovered from this crushing blow, to rise afresh in revolt against the Roman power, and then Adrian completed the work of their dispersion among all nations of the earth. He made the whole country of Palestine a desolation, expelled all Its remaining Jewish inhabitants, forbade the Jews on pain of death even to approach via Capitolina, the Roman city erected on the site of Jerusalem; he slaughtered 580,000 Jews in a murderous war which lasted three years and a half, and sold thousands of prisoners, at the lowest prices, into slavery. The rest took refuge in foreign lands, and Palestine has never since been inhabited by the children of Israel.
Eighteen centuries have elapsed, since that fearful judgment of fire and blood, attested the righteous "severity" of God against those who had despised his "goodness." It was but the beginning of the "indignation" against the Jewish people. Ever since they have been scattered among the Gentiles, in Europe, Asia, and Africa, denizens everywhere, citizens nowhere; oppressed and persecuted in most countries, banished at times in turn from each; treated with indignity, injustice, and ‘cruelty, they yet survive, a separate and peculiar people; a nation without a land, while their land lies desolate, without a people; and their city, as Christ foretold it would be, is trodden down of the Gentiles, till "the times of the Gentiles" shall be fulfilled.
THE THIRD DISPENSATION, "the times of the Gentiles," brought a revelation of God, fuller, truer, more glorious by far, than any that had preceded it. "God was manifest in the flesh," men saw, and heard, and spoke with, incarnate Deity. "The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." ”God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son." "No man bath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, He bath declared Him." Not the power and wisdom only, not the righteousness and justice only, but the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man, appeared, in the life and death of Jesus Christ our Lord. God was proved to be a gracious Redeemer, as well as a holy Lawgiver, and an Almighty Creator. The shadows of the Law were replaced by the realities of the Gospel, the New Testament was added to the Old, its key and its completion; the great salvation so long foreshadowed, was accomplished and brought nigh to man. God had provided Himself a Lamb to take away the sins of the world, and that Lamb, his own glorious Son, the Lord of all I "Herein is love; not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
What a flood of light fell upon the world in the teachings of Christ and his apostles I The gift of the Holy Ghost followed on the ascension of the risen Saviour; the Christian Church was founded, and gathered, from Jew and Gentile alike, a vast multitude into its bosom. In spite of persecution it grew and multiplied, for God was with his people; they endured and conquered, winning the world to their creed. Paganism fell. The mighty Roman Empire shut up its idol temples, sheathed its persecuting sword, and sat down as a disciple at the feet of Christ and his apostles.
Grace had wrought a wondrous work, but nature was unchanged. The natural man was still at enmity with God, and the cloak of Christianity, could not long conceal his corruption.
An apostasy of a dark and dreadful nature arose, and in the progress of ages assumed enormous proportions, and a character so diabolic, as to exceed in guilt all the idolatries of the patriarchal and Jewish dispensations. The greater light granted was abused and perverted, until it became a darkness exceeding any previous darkness-and the central period of its duration is, by common consent, called "the dark ages."
The religion of Christ became gradually, as we have seen, the religion of Antichrist. Carnal observances replaced spiritual conversion, the ceremonial took the place of the moral, human tradition obscured the word of God, human authority asserted itself in opposition to Divine; and idolatry, under the guise of Christianity, replaced true and spiritual worship.
When Pagan. Rome fell, Papal Rome rose. Corruptions, heresies, abominable practices abounded. The teachings of Christ were forgotten, and the teachings of the church put in their place. It became a sin to believe the truth and serve the living God, yea, it was soon esteemed the worst of crimes to follow the Lord wholly. The saints were persecuted. In streams, ay! in rivers, their blood was shed, till the professing church of Christ became "drunk" with the blood of his true disciples. Millions more martyrs fell under the sword of Papal Rome than were slain by the power of the Pagan Empire which ruled from the seven-hilled city.
The head of this great Apostasy put himself in the place of Christ as head of the church. He wore a ring to show himself bridegroom, husband of the church; he proclaimed himself her prophet, priest, and king; he assumed to be Prince of the kings of the earth: King of kings and Lord of lords. He wore a triple crown, and claimed dominion in heaven, earth, and hell; power to pardon sins on earth, to loose from pains in hell, and to canonise whom he would in heaven; he carried two swords, to mark his temporal and spiritual government; he sat in the temple of God; received worship as God; and arrogated to himself Divine attributes and authority.
Doctrines of devils were taught to the people instead of the precepts of the Gospel. The mass was presented to the multitudes instead of the atoning Sacrifice of the Saviour, the wafer god, instead of Christ: indulgences for sin were sold for money, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness. The true nature of holiness was completely obscured, as well as the true nature of sin, and the true nature of Christ’s religion. The priesthood, sunk in the profoundest ignorance and in the grossest corruption, kept the people in the dark, that they might the more readily prey upon them; the Bible was buried in an unknown tongue, and might almost as well not have been in existence. Christianity retained no trace of its pure and holy original.
Human intelligence revolted from the gross and monstrous lies and thus Christian corruption created a reaction, and called into existence indirectly, in early days, the Mohammedanism which protests against all creature worship, and in later days, the Infidelity which denies Christ altogether, and the Atheism which excludes all worship of God.
For a thousand years this Babylon reigned paramount in the Roman Earth, and then God began to consume and destroy it. He raised up holy men and wise, to protest against it; He gave back, by their means, his Word to the nations; He gave his people grace to love not their lives, but to sacrifice them freely, that the faith of Christ might be restored in the earth. A reformed church arose, and with its reformed doctrines, came reformation of manners, and something of a return to primitive Christian purity and practice. But even here darkness quickly entered again. The Reformation did not go far enough, it did not purge out all the old leaven, it retained some principles of corruption, which caused the reformed churches quickly to degenerate into worldly corporations, unable to protest, with the spiritual power of the first Reformers, against the corruptions of Popery, or to grapple with the more rapidly growing forces of the infidelity it had created.
As to the Apostasy itself no protests availed to reform it, no teachings to enlighten it, no examples to shame it, no warnings to awaken it: and at length judgment fell. The godless infidelity which had sprung up in the earth, as the result of Papa] deeds and doctrines, rose in arms against it, and plunged both Papacy and monarchy into a sea of blood. The French Revolution! Who can depict its horrors? Vials of wrath were poured out on the Papal kingdoms of Christendom. One country after another was visited with vengeance; wars, and bloody revolutions, internal strifes and contentions, darkened the realms of the Papacy; and the ‘Popes lost gradually all their direct authority over the kingdoms of Europe; all their political power; and enormous wealth in the shape of landed property and buildings, monasteries and convents. And still the measure of their iniquity was not full; the sore judgments of God led them not to repentance. The crowning crime came at last, and the Papacy, which had decreed the "immaculate conception" of an idolatrously worshipped woman, proceeded to decree the "infallibility" of a sinful man.
By the consent and decree of the (Ecumenical Council of 1870, the Divine title of infallible teacher of faith and morals was given to the Pope of Rome. After twelve centuries of heresy and hypocrisy, corruption and persecution, the "man of sin" seals all his awful errors, and all his flagrant and revolting crimes, with the seal of "infallibility," and claims for all his doctrines of devils the authority of Divine inspiration.
While the words were yet in his mouth, judgment fell. War burst forth; Sadowa and Sedan crushed the might of the two most powerful Catholic nations of Europe. France, overwhelmed by the victorious armies of Protestant Germany, was fain to recall from Rome the French bayonets, which had long been the sole support of the Papal throne, and Victor Emmanuel entered the city as King of Italy. The temporal power of the Papacy was swept clean away, the throne of a thousand years was overturned, the Pope became "a prisoner in the Vatican." The long drama of the Papal temporal power is ended; there remains that its spiritual power be also destroyed. The Lord has consumed it by the spirit of his mouth, He is to destroy it by the brightness of his coming.
Nor have those sections of Christendom, which escaped the influence of the Romish apostasy, continued in the goodness of God. Apostasy has been universal. If we trace the history, and note the condition, of the Eastern churches, the Coptic, Armenian, Nestorian, Syrian, or Greek professing Christian churches, we shall see the same thing. In all, sooner or later, the light of truth, so graciously granted, has been first obscured, and then lost, while a darkness, all the more dangerous in that it professes to be light, has taken its place. The worship offered in these churches, has for ages been little better than idolatry; the morality practised, and the doctrines inculcated, at fundamental variance with those of Christ. The scourge of Islamism was the awful judgment sent as a woe on the Eastern churches; but it did not lead them to repentance. For twelve centuries they have groaned under its cruel oppression, but they have not forsaken their idolatries and evil deeds. They are now drinking the last dregs of the cup of judgment; and the Porte like the Papacy, true to the last to its character, is hurting, killing, and tormenting to the bitter end. But its days are numbered: the full and final judgment of God is soon to overtake both oppressor and oppressed: "when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on those who,"-in spite of all his revelations of Himself, -"know not God, and obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Intensely mournful is the review of human history as regards man’s treatment of God, in his threefold revelation of Himself, as Creator, Lawgiver, and Redeemer.
Having the light of nature, fallen man sinned; blessed with the additional light of law, including commandments, and types and shadows, the ministry of inspired prophets, and the incarnation of God Himself, he sinned still worse; and favoured with the full blaze of grace and truth, in the teaching and work of Jesus Christ, in the illuminations of the Spirit of God, and the possession of the New Testament, as well as warned by the awful judgments which closed the former dispensations, man has sinned worst of all, and incurred the heavier judgments foretold in the Scriptures of truth, and soon to fall on the earth!
How can the heirs of salvation ever be sufficiently grateful for the sovereign, unmerited mercy that has delivered them from the kingdom of darkness, and translated them into the kingdom of God’s dear Son? How can they ever be sufficiently earnest, in urging the ungodly to flee from the wrath to come-the lost to seek, while there is time, the salvation which is in Christ Jesus?
But unspeakably blessed, on the other hand, is this review of human history, in the light of God’s treatment of man, in his threefold and ever-increasing sinfulness. It is an illustration of his power, wisdom, and love in overcoming evil with good. For out of each dispensation, marred by the sin of man, God has delivered a ransomed people, and raised them to greater heights of blessing than before. In the patriarchal age, He brought through the waters of the flood, the family of Noah, and then from Shem He produced the Hebrew race, through which salvation to the ends of the earth was to come. From the destructive and overwhelming judgments of Egypt He delivered Israel, and their Exodus brought them into new ‘and nearer relationships to Himself, than man had ever known before; "ye shall be unto Me a peculiar people ;" and from the desolating captivities of Israel and Judah, a remnant returned, destined to see the Desire of all ages, to behold the rising of the Sun of righteousness, to welcome to his temple the Lord Himself.
From the still more awful and desolating judgments poured out on the Jewish nation in consequence of their rejection of Christ, God brought forth the Christian church. "Through their fall salvation is come to the Gentiles." The branches were broken off, but the wild olive was grafted in, the casting away of them, was the reconciling of the world.
And then, -God’s ways progressing ever from evening to morning, from good to better, -out of the closing judgments of these "Times of the Gentiles" whose thunders are already breaking on our ears and whose lurid lightnings are already flashing in our skies, shall spring the restoration of Israel, the return of Israel’s Messiah, the resurrection of the dead in Christ, the rapture of the entire Christian church, the times of the restitution of all things, the millennial reign of Christ.
That in its turn will, as the very brief notice in Scripture proves, be a fresh revelation of God, and a fresh probation of man, and will end, like all the rest, in judgment the great dread, long-foretold Day of final Judgment, which will usher in the eternal day, the "new heaven and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness," into which sin shall never enter, and where consequently death and the curse shall be no more. (#Rev 20, #Rev 21)
This is the great climax which closes the first week of human history, introducing untold ages of unspeakable blessedness for the human race, those "ages to come," in which God will show the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness towards his people, through Christ Jesus.
Each of the three dispensations into which human history has been divided, has therefore its distinctive and peculiar character, though the three resemble each other in this, that each ends in apostasy on the part of man, and in judgment, and the introduction of a higher economy, on the part of God.
The patriarchal age is broadly distinguished by the fact of its having "no law," from the Jewish, and this again, by its limitation of nationality, from the Times of the Gentiles; but the flood, and the exodus, and the captivities, and the fall of Jerusalem, and the yet future destruction of the beast and the false prophet, and Babylon the Great, at the Epiphany of Christ, mark out so many distinct closes and re-commencements, wherein God executes deserved and long-denounced doom on the guilty, while delivering and raising to a higher level an elect and ransomed people.
We proceed now to trace the chronological measures of these three dispensations, and their respective positions, in the great stream of time. We will take the Times of the Gentiles first, as it is the most important, the most closely connected with the prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse, and the one whose duration is most distinctly defined in Scripture.
CHRONOLOGICAL MEASURES OF THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES.
When the Egyptian captivity of his seed was announced to Abraham, chronological limits were assigned to it; and when the Babylonish captivity was foretold by Isaiah, seventy years was fixed as its duration. It might therefore be expected that the length of the. period of Jewish affliction and degradation, which is termed by our Lord "the Times of the Gentiles," would also be more or less distinctly foretold: yet as it includes the times of the Christian Church-those ages of waiting for Christ, over which in tender mercy God saw fit to throw, as we have seen, a veil of mystery, -it is improbable that its duration will anywhere be revealed in plain terms.
We, have already shown that this period or dispensation is that, during which the Jews are either wholly cast out of their land, or allowed to occupy it as mere tributaries, and during which also, the throne is taken from the house of Judah, and from the seed of David, and given by God to Gentile monarchs. It is the period during which the land of Canaan, promised to the seed of Abraham, and the throne of Israel secured by covenant to the seed of David, are both alienated, and occupied by Gentiles instead of Jews. During by far the greater part of this period, Israel has been scattered among all nations, Jerusalem "trodden down of the Gentiles," and the pleasant land laid desolate.
The whole period is occupied by the duration of the four great monarchies, and it is to be closed by a fifth great monarchy, "the God of heaven shall set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed . . . it shall stand for ever "-a kingdom symbolised by the stone cut out without hands, Which smites and destroys the image, becomes a great mountain, and fills the whole earth. (#Dan 2:44)
This kingdom is, as we learn from other Scriptures, the kingdom of Christ Himself, and his accession to the throne of the earth marks the termination of the Times of the Gentiles. "The Lord God shall give unto HIM the throne of his father David." David foresaw that of the fruit of his loins, God would raise up Christ, to sit upon his throne. God will overturn one monarchy after another, "until He come, whose right it is," and will give the throne to Him..
And , prior to this restoration of the throne to the house of Judah in the person of Christ, will be the restoration of the land of Canaan to the seed of Abraham.;
"And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. He shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah, from the four corners of the earth" (Isa. ii. ii). God has not cast away his people whom He foreknew, they are still beloved for the fathers’ sakes, and in due time, when the fulness of the Gentiles has been brought’ in, "all Israel shall be saved." The gifts and calling of God are without repentance; the land must revert to its rightful owners the seed of Abraham, and the throne must be filled by its predicted occupant, the Son of David, the Prince of peace, of the increase of whose government there shall be no end, who shall "order and establish the kingdom, with judgment and with justice, for ever."
However improbable it may appear that Palestine should ever again be the home of a mighty Jewish nation, Scripture leaves no room to doubt that such will be the case, -that the same Almighty arm, which to place Israel there of old, plagued Egypt, destroyed the host of Pharaoh, and extirpated almost entirely the seven nations of Canaan; which subsequently overthrew the mighty Babylonian monarchy, in order to restore Israel to it for a comparatively brief period, by means of Cyrus and Artaxerxes, will in due time overthrow the Turkish power which has, so long trodden down Jerusalem, defiled the sanctuary, and desolated the land of Israel, and will, the second time, restore his ancient people, to their inalienable inheritance. Every barrier must fall, every obstacle be overthrown, that the purpose of God may be accomplished, and the promises to Abraham and to his seed be fulfilled.
God has clearly revealed that all this shall be; has He also revealed when it shall be? He has revealed the character of the Times of the Gentiles; has He also revealed their duration. We believe He has, very distinctly, though not in plain statements. He has given many a clue and many a mystic intimation, which when combined, by those who compare Scripture prophecy with Scripture history, and with profane history, afford no indistinct reply to this inquiry. It is of course needful to take profane history into account in considering this question, as many of the events predicted extend beyond the point at which inspired records cease. Nor should we have the slightest hesitation in doing this, for we are evidently intended to make use of uninspired historical evidence. Scripture history ceases just at the point where by common consent profane history becomes reliable, and passes from the dim regions of fable into the broad daylight of well ascertained facts. God graciously presents us with inspired records of that far distant past of which no uninspired records exist; but where authentic histories are in existence, He leaves us to learn from them what the course of mundane events has been. He makes provision for our unavoidable ignorance, but none for our indolence. He puts into our hands the telescope of Scripture history, to enable us to see farther into the distant past, than would with the naked human eye be possible; but He does not embody in the sacred writings, matters, such as the fall of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jewish people in the days of Titus, which are sufficiently well attested by Josephus and other careful historians.
Looking then both at ancient prophecy and at sacred and profane history, what do we learn as to the duration of these "Times of the Gentiles"?
THAT THEY ARE APPOINTED TO EXTEND OVER A GREAT WEEK, OVER SEVEN TIMES," SEVEN YEARS WHOSE DAYS ARE YEARS, 2520 NATURAL YEARS.
This is inferred from Scripture rather than distinctly stated in it; but. the inference is so well grounded as to be of almost equal weight with a distinct declaration..When this long period of Jewish desolation and chastisement was first threatened (#Lev 26), the expression "seven times" was emphatically used in connection with it. That this had any chronological force, was not of course understood by those who received the warning, but it is almost impossible in the light of subsequent predictions, and in the light of history, to doubt that the Omniscient God used an expression in harmony with his foreknowledge of Israel’s future, and expressive of his Divine purpose-a purpose which we have seen wrought out in history. By the lips of Moses, God forewarned his people, saying, -"If ye will not yet for all this hearken unto Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins . . . and if ye will not be reformed by Me by these things, but will walk contrary unto Me, then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins. And if ye will not for all this hearken unto Me . . . then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury, and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins. . . . I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation . . .. and I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you . . . and ye shall perish among the heathen, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up" (#Lev 26).
Old Testament history shows that Israel’s oft-recurring and inveterate idolatry brought upon them judgment after judgment; that again and again God "being full of compassion forgave their iniquity and destroyed them not; yea, many a time turned He his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath; for He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passeth away and cometh not again;" but that at last the measure of their iniquity being filled up, He sent upon them a chastisement, the perfect character of which is marked out by the perfection of its period, "seven times."
Seventy years, -the first portion of this long season of rejection, dispersion, and affliction, were spent in absolute captivity in Babylon and Assyria. The second stage was longer -it was the "seventy weeks," or 490 years of the restoration of Judah, and was passed by the restored remnant of the two tribes in a subject, tributary, and troubled state, in their own land, while the ten tribes remained captives in Assyria. This extended to the coming of Messiah the Prince, and the destruction of Jerusalem consequent on his rejection; and then commenced the third and longest portion of the 2520 years, which the Jews have passed in miserable exile, scattered over all the countries of the earth..
Already their chastisement has extended over "seven times," dating from the earliest stage in their captivities: it will soon have done so, dating from the latest. Does not then, the solemn threat, fulfilled in such awful justice through a long succession of ages, gleam now with the light of hope, and assume the cheering tones of mercy? "Seven times." No morel then the curse that has fallen so heavily, is all but exhausted, and everlasting blessedness is to succeed. The wrath has come upon Israel to the uttermost; the fountain for sin and for uncleanness, shall ere long be opened to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
And secondly, though the fourfold image which symbolised to Nebuchadnezzar, the succession of Gentile empires, which were to fill up this long interval of Jewish rejection, had no chronology attached to it, yet we know that those empires, the Assyrian, the Persian, the Grecian, and the Pagan and Papal Roman powers, have as a matter of history lasted for about 2520 years. Now history is the evolution of the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, which must therefore have before assigned to "the Times of the Gentiles" at least this duration.
The symbol of the fourfold image declared, that these Gentile empires were to be succeeded by the kingdom of the God of heaven, but it did not reveal or even intimate when, or after what lapse of time, this should be. A subsequent vision granted to Nebuchadnezzar, did. He saw a tree, which he was told symbolised himself, cut down, and its stump left to be wet with the dew of heaven, and its portion with the beasts in the grass of the earth, its heart changed from a man’s heart, and a beast’s heart given it, until "seven times "should pass over it.
This vision was, as Daniel told the monarch, a prophecy of the seven years’ insanity, which, as a chastening for his pride, was to overtake him, and which was to teach him to know God, and to own that "the heavens do rule." "All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar," and at the end of the days, that is, of the seven years of his insanity, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, his understanding returned to him, and he blessed and praised and honoured the Eternal God, whose dominion is everlasting, whose will is sovereign, whose power is infinite, and who is able to abase those who walk in pride.
Now the vision of the tree is not more clearly symbolic of this remarkable incident in Nebuchadnezzar’s life, than that incident itself is typical of certain moral and chronological features, of the succession of Gentile monarchies, of which Nebuchadnezzar was both head and representative.
The leading moral characteristics of all the four great empires have been, ignorance of God, idolatry, and cruel persecution of the saints. Nebuchadnezzar, prior to this incident, knew not God; he set up a great image, and commanded all men, on pain of death, to fall down and worship it. He cast into the burning fiery furnace the faithful witnesses who refused to obey the idolatrous mandate. How have all his successors with one consent followed this example ! Idolatry, literal or spiritual, and persecution, Pagan or Papal, have marked the whole succession of Gentile monarchies. These episodes in Nebuchadnezzar’s life are clearly typical; these features of his character have been stamped indelibly on all his successors. These incidents answer to events on the scale of nations and centuries, with which history makes us familiar. So also does the seven years’ bestial degradation of the monarch during his insanity, answer to the period of Gentile rule represented by the four wild beasts of a subsequent vision. "The king himself represents the succession of imperial sovereignty, till the kingdom of Christ shall come; the ‘seven times’ that passed over him must therefore represent the whole period of debasement in the Gentile kingdoms, from the times of Nebuchadnezzar till their full redemption.."
As we have alluded elsewhere to this subject we do not dwell further on it here; it affords strong confirmation of the view that the "seven times" of Lev. xxvi. has a chronological force. A further argument in support of the same view may be derived from the "time times and a half" of the "little horn." We have seen that prophecy assigns to the Apostasy of the latter days, a duration of 1260 years, and that this period is repeatedly spoken of as half a week. Where are we to find the other half of this great week? As the Apostasy is to be overthrown finally by the advent of Christ, it is clear .the other half cannot follow but must precede the half which measures the existence of the Apostasy, it must date back, that is, from its rise. Calculating backwards then from the rise of the Papal and Mohammedan powers in the beginning of the seventh century, 1260 years lead up to the days of Nebuchadnezzar, to the commencement of the Babylonish Captivity, the point at which we know the Times of the Gentiles began. Thus we see that the entire period occupied by the four great empires, represented by the golden image, and by the four beasts, is the whole week, whose latter half is the time of the dominion of the "little horn." During the whole of this period Israel has ceased to be an independent kingdom, and during two- thirds of it, Jerusalem has been trodden down by the Gentiles. Each of the four great monarchies in turn ruled over the seed of Abraham, until at length, the cup of Jewish iniquity being full, the Rornans came, took away their place and nation, and almost destroyed them as a people. Seventy years before this final judgment, Messiah came and was cut on; and his rejection and crucifixion by the Jews, which sealed and brought on their doom, inaugurated the Gospel dispensation, and the ingathering of the Gentiles to the kingdom of God. Thus the Christian dispensation, so thoroughly Gentile in its aspect, fills two-thirds of the Times of the Gentiles, the first third having been occupied with the growth of Gentile dominion, to the extraordinary development it had attained in the days of Augustus Caesar. We conclude therefore that the dispensation in whose closing days we live, was fore-ordained and appointed by God to run a course of 2520 years, or in symbolic language of "seven times;" and that our Lord Jesus Christ had this great week in his mind when He said, "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the Times of the Gentiles be fulfilled," an expression which seems to imply that the period so designated had definite chronological limits. We proceed to inquire when it took its rise. From what great event are we to date the commencement of these "Times of the Gentiles."
Happily the answer is not far to seek. We are not left to select among the complex changes of history, one which seems to us of paramount importance. Inspiration itself settles the question. The entire course of Gentile supremacy is symbolised by an image whose head was its beginning, and whose ten toes are chronologically its end.
Interpreting his dream by Divine revelation, to the proud monarch of Babylon, the prophet says to him "Thou art this head of gold." If by this be meant "thou" personally, then the "terminus a quo" or starting point of the "Times of the Gentiles" must be sought, as has generally been done, somewhere in the lifetime of Nebuchadnezzar.
But it seems clear that this was not the case, and that Daniel addressed the Babylonian king not as an individual, but as the representative of the empire, for immediately after saying "thou art this head of gold," he adds, "and after thee shall arise another kingdom, inferior to thee," alluding to the Medo-Persian Empire which succeeded the Babylonian.
Now this empire did not rise after Nebuchadnezzar himself, but after his kingdom. It rose on the fall of the Babylonian Empire, but not till four successors of Nebuchadnezzar had occupied the throne, of whom Belshazzar was the last.
Though undoubtedly its most illustrious ruler, Nebuchadnezzar was neither the first nor the last head of the Babylonian Empire, which lasted 210 years. The "head of gold evidently represents the whole Babylonian power, just as the "breast of silver" represents the whole Medo-Persian, and it seems natural therefore to suppose that one main starting point of those times of the Gentiles, which include the four great empires, will be found at the era of the rise of the first of the four, i.e., of the Babylonian power.
This great dispensational period, the times of the Gentiles, Is characterized by two distinct features, the dominion of the four great empires, and the loss of dominion and independence on the part of the Jewish people; their subjection to and sufferings under their enemies; their dispersion among all nations, and the desolation of their land.
The commencing era of the "Times of the Gentiles" must be an era of decay and fall of Jewish independence coincident with a rise of Babylonian power.
Now the seventy years’ captivity of Judah in Babylon was not the beginning of the decay and fall of Jewish independence nor was it the beginning of the rise of the Babylonian power.
The year of the accession of Nabonassar, the first king of Babylon, is an era of great historic importance. It ranks with -the greatest eras of history: the Greek era of the Olympiads; the Romans A.U.C. or era of the foundation of the city of Rome; the Syrian era of the SeIeucidae, the Christian era of the Nativity; the Papal era of indictions (dating from the conversion of Constantine, the fall of Paganism, and the beginning of the Imperial Church); and the Mohammedan era of the Hegira.
Moreover, the exact chronological point of this "ERA of Nabonassar" (N.E.) is more certain than any other date of remote antiquity, because, with it are connected a series of ancient astronomic observations, which have been verified by the labours of astronomers, during the last three centuries. It is certain not only to a year, but to a day and hour. It is noon of the 26th of February, 747 BC.
That this important era, marking the commencement of the Babylonian power, should be one starting point of the 2520 years of the "Times of the Gentiles," seems as natural and suitable as that the capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar should be another.
Like other national changes, and like many great political revolutions, the subjugation of the twelve tribes of Israel to the Assyrian and Babylonian powers, was only gradually accomplished. Monarch after monarch came up against the land; and one deportation of captives succeeded another. Ephraim first fell, then Judah: and Judah fell first partially, into the rank of a tributary kingdom, then completely, into the bitterest bondage, captivity, and degradation. Pul and Tiglath- pileser, Shalmanezer and Sennacherib, Esarhaddon and Nebuchadnezzar, all played their parts in the great and mournful tragedy. The following brief summary of the facts may be verified by reference to Scripture.
The earliest invasion of the land, which resulted in a carrying captive of Israelites, was that recorded in #2Ki 15:19, in the reign of Menahem, king of Israel. "Pul, the king of Assyria came against the land, and Menahem gave him a thousand talents of silver." And in #1Ch 5:26 we read that this Pul, and also Tiglath-pileser, carried away the Reubenites and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, and brought them "unto Halah and Habor, and to the river Gozan," ie., into Assyria.
Subsequently Ahaz king of Judah, when alarmed by the combined attack of Pekah king of Israel and Resin king of Syria, sent to Tiglath-pileser to come to his aid, instead of trusting in God as Isaiah counselled him, and being quiet.. It was like the sheep calling the wolf to his aid! He invited an enemy who soon overran the land. After taking Damascus from the king of Syria, Tiglath- pileser took a number of places in the land of Naphtali, and "carried their inhabitants captive to Assyria" #2Ki 15:29.)
His successor, Shalmanezer, invaded in force the kingdom of the ten tribes, and after a three years’ siege took Samaria, the capital, and carried all Israel away into Assyria (#2Ki 17:3-6). Sennacherib afterwards, invaded Judah, and ravaged the country for four or five years, taking every place of any strength, and at last besieging Jerusalem. Brought to the very verge of ruin, the city was at that time saved by a stupendous miracle, in answer to the prayer of the good king Hezekiah, himself similarly saved from the jaws of death not long after. The day of Jerusalem’s fall had not yet fully come (#2Ki 18:19).
For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever were still.
And the widows of Asshur are loud in their wail;
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal?
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!
The impious and profane Sennacherib was murdered by his sons as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, and Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead. This king carried captive another detachment of Israelites, thus finally destroying the national existence of the ten tribes, just sixty-five years after Isaiah’s prediction to Ahaz, that before that interval had elapsed, "Ephraim should be broken and be no more a people." He also carried captive Manasseh king of Judah, who was however subsequently restored.
And them lastly, in the days of Jehoiakim, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came against Judah, and made that king his tributary vassal, while his son afterwards became his captive. The story is given in full in #2Ki 24. We read that, -"Jehoiachin went out to the king of Babylon, he, and his mother, and his servants, and his princes, and his officers: and the king of Babylon took him in the eighth year of his reign. And he carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valour, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths: those carried he into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon, none remained save the poorest sort of the people of the land."
Nebuchadnezzar left the uncle of Jehoiachin-Zedekiah- behind as his viceroy in Jerusalem; but this deputy proving faithless and rebelling, he returned, besieged and took the city, and carried Zedekiah, with his eyes put out, captive to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar’s captain, Nebuzaradan, finished the work of destruction, burned the Temple, and broke down the walls of Jerusalem, carrying captive the rest of the people. This was the final act in the long drama, and it is said of it, "so Judah was carried away out of their land" (#2Ki 25:21).
Now, as given in Scripture and verified by the most careful chronological investigations, the leading stages of this decline and fall of the Jewish monarchy were as follows
1. The invasion of Pul, following Menahem’s accession in 770
2. The siege and fall of Samaria 723
3. The captivity of Manasseh and deportation by Esarhaddon 676
4. Final fall of the throne of Judah 602-598
The invasion of Pul is probably to be assigned to the first half of Menahem’s reign, the duration of which was ten years.
We have therefore first, in general, the era from B.C. 770 to B.C. 598, a period of one hundred and seventy-two years, as a "time of the end," a period conspicuously including all the main stages of the decline and fall of the Jewish monarchy, as well as those of the rise of Babylonian power. Wars and reverses had before been experienced by the Jewish nation; but it had never previously been subdued and carried captive as it was during this period. And the fall was final. A restoration was indeed enjoyed by two of the twelve tribes, but it was only partial and temporary; the temple was rebuilt, but not in its former glory; the city was restored, but never to independent sovereignty; and after "seventy weeks" of such restoration, a worse flood of desolation than ever, overtook both city, temple, and people, from which they have never yet rallied. The 168- 172 years ending with Nebuchadnezzar’s capture of Jerusalem, was emphatically the era of departing glory, the time when Lo Ammi was inscribed on the brow of the daughter of Zion. And in this critical era four epochs of special crisis stand prominently out, as we have seen, connected with the four conquerors, Pul, Shalmanezer, Esarhaddon, and Nebuchadnezzar, the years B.C. 770-766, B.C. 723, B.C. 676, and B.C. 602-598. The first three have relation mainly to the kingdom of Ephraim or the ten tribes, the last to the kingdom of Judah or the two tribes.
Now, if "seven times" be the appointed duration of the "Times of the Gentiles" we may expect to find, after an interval of 2520 years from this Jewish captivity era a corresponding "time of the end," a period of similar decline and fall, overthrow and decadence, of the last form or forms of Gentile ruling power ushering in the close of the dispensation, the restoration of Israel, and the kingdom of Messiah the Son of David.
And this latter decline and fall, like the former, will take place, in all probability, under judgment from God on account of long-continued and terrible sin. Just as the patriarchal "seven times" died out amid the plagues of Egypt, and with th& overthrow of the Red sea; and as the Jewish "seven times" expired amid the blood and the flames of Titus’ siege and sack of Jerusalem; so the Gentile "seven times" is destined as the Apocalypse reveals, to come to an end under the outpouring of the "seven golden vials full of the wrath of God," against the sins of apostate Christendom.
A very simple arithmetical calculation shows that 2520 years from this Captivity era brings us to the epoch A.D. 1751-5-A.D. 1919-1923, and we inquire, Has this period of 168-172 years as far as it has elapsed, had any such character? And further, Have there occurred in its course any years marked by such events as to be unmistakable crises in the process of decay and destruction? And if so, do such years correspond as closing termini with the critical years of the Captivity Jewish period at an interval of 2520 years or "seven times"?
The answer to these questions is full of solemn interest and importance, nor is it hard to find. In seeking it we have not to take into account all the empires and kingdoms of the world. The range is limited by the prophecy itself.
Gentile supremacy over Israel has been confined to one line. The Chinese and the Americans never conquered Judea, nor held Jerusalem. They never defiled the sanctuary and persecuted the Israel of God, either literal or spiritual. The line of Gentile powers who have done both, is distinctly defined in the two fourfold visions in Daniel, the image, and the four beasts, in which were symbolised the succession of the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Grecian, and the Roman Empires. The three former having passed entirely away, our search is confined to the limits of the fourth of these.
That fourth, or Roman monarchy, was foretold as existing in two states-an earlier undivided, and a later divided one. The former of these has passed away, equally with the Babylonian, Persian, and Grecian empires. Our search is therefore confined to the time and sphere, occupied by the kingdoms which rose out of the ruins of the old Pagan Roman Empire. Two politico-religious powers or dynasties, symbolised as "little horns," are represented as rising up and wielding supremacy among these kingdoms; these little horns, -the Papal and Mohammedan powers, -constitute therefore the last leading phase of Gentile power contemplated in the prophecy; both oppose God and his saints, defile his sanctuary, and tread down the holy city, spiritual or literal.
The question before us is therefore reduced to narrow limits. Only in the history of these two powers need we look for the answer; and in judging of the character and relative importance of events in their history, we must compare them, not with events in the history of other powers, or other parts of the world, but only with other events in the history of these powers.
Unless this is borne in mind, it is impossible rightly to estimate the historical incidents, which must past under review in connection with this question. Again we ask then, Has the 168 years between A.D. 1755 and A.D. 1923, or rather that portion of it which has elapsed, been, in any remarkable and undeniable sense, a period of decadence and overthrow to the once mighty Papal and Mohammedan powers?
Historians would with one voice reply, Beyond all question, it has! But as all are not familiar with the facts of modern history, and as many who are, have never considered them in this connection, it is needful to recall some leading events in the recent history of Popery and Mohammedanism.
France-ever since the conversion of Clovis, and the donations of Pepin and Charlemagne, had taken rank as the first of Papal nations, and her king as Eldest Son of the Church. France -long foremost in her persecutions of heretics, -had taken a leading place in her opposition to the glorious Reformation; by the iron heel of power, she had crushed down the new life and had extinguished the rekindled Gospel light of that glad era. In the massacre of St. Bartholomew she had all but extirpated Protestantism; and by the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, she had banished from her shores her surviving Huguenot subjects. Papist to the core, France was for more than a thousand years, a main pillar of the Popedom in Europe.
The middle of the eighteenth century saw the beginning of a marvellous change in France. In less than half a century from 1750, this first of Papal nations had become madly and violently anti- papal; and this most servilely superstitious people, had become openly and even fiercely infidel..
The great apostle and arch-priest of French infidelity, VOLTAIRE, was in the height of his influence at this period. With the aid of his associate Deistic and Atheistic philosophers, he was deluging France with clever, anti-monarchical, anti-ecclesiastical writings, of the most audacious and blasphemous character. These men enlisted talent and science for the attack, employed the keen shafts of ridicule, and appealed to all the evil democratic and licentious passions. They held up to hatred and contempt, the apostate and corrupt form of religion with which alone the French were familiar, and with fanatical zeal sought to overthrow all its power over the popular mind. Unjustly, but naturally, they visited on Christianity all the falsehoods, absurdities, hypocrisies, immoralities, cruelties, and manifold. wickednesses of Popery. "Ecrasez l’infame I" (crush the wretch!) was their modern version of "Crucify Him!" and their avowed object was to bring about the utter rejection of revealed religion..
They succeeded only too well! France ceased to be Catholic, and became-infidel; and infidel France, having thrown off all restraints of law and order, natural and Divine, plunged, before the end of the century, into the maddest excesses of revolution and crime.
In 1793 came to its crisis that tremendous, unparalleled, irresistible movement, which put an end at once to absolute monarchy, aristocracy, and to ecclesiastical power in France, and which communicated to the neighbouring nations of Europe the shocks of revolution, and the fierce fires of democracy, together with an anti-ecclesiastical mania that has never since been allayed.
The French Revolution is by common consent regarded as the commencement of a new era, for the nations of Europe; but it is not always remembered that the proximate cause of the French Revolution, the infidelity of/he nation, dates from a generation earlier. That Revolution could never have assumed the character it did, had not the French people previously lost all fear of God, and all respect for man; had not the national mind been blinded, and the national heart hardened, against all claims human and Divine, by the pernicious teachings of the infidel philosophers.
It is needless to give details of that Revolution here, our readers will mostly be familiar with the tragic facts. How the infidel democracy suddenly uprose in its might, destroyed the Bastile, issued its declaration of the rights of man f assaulted the king and queen by night, at Versailles, and murdering some of their body guard, forced them to proceed as prisoners to Paris, the bloody heads carried on pikes before the royal carriage. How the people confiscated all the vast revenues of the Church, all the domains of the Crown, and all the estates of refugee nobles, for the use of the State; subjected to themselves all ecclesiastical, civil, and judicial power throughout the country; murdered the royal guard, and some five thousand leading Royalists; dethroned, imprisoned, tried, condemned, and murdered the king, and then the queen; declared war against all kings, and sympathy with all revolutionists everywhere; how the "reign of terror" witnessed the slaughter of one million and twenty-two thousand persons, of all ranks and ages, and of both sexes, till the streets of Paris ran with blood, and the guillotines could not overtake their work. How thousands were mowed down by grape-shot fusilades; drowned in "noyades" where, in loaded vessels, hundreds of victims were purposely sunk in the rivers; roasted alive in heated ovens, or tortured to death by other infernal cruelties. How Christianity was publicly renounced, and a prostitute enthroned as "goddess of reason" at Notre Dame, and worshipped by the National Convention and by the mob of Paris, with the wildest orgies of licentiousness (morality as well as mercy having perished with religion); how the most horrid mockery of the solemn ‘rites of Christianity, was publicly enacted, an ass being made to drink the sacramental wine; how the Sabbath itself was abolished, and the decade substituted for the week; and how hundreds and thousands of priests were massacred or driven into exile, and the churches and cathedrals turned into stables and barracks. Taken as a whole, the French Revolution was a convulsion, in which the angry passions of men, set free from all restraint, manifested themselves, with a force and fury unprecedented in the history of the world, against monarchical, aristocratic, ecclesiastical, and religious institutions.
Let these things be considered in the light of a mighty and successful revolt against, and overthrow of, absolute monarchical power, and Papal tyranny and usurpation, and it will at once be granted that nothing similar had ever occurred previously, in the history of the fourth great Empire.
Terribly iniquitous had been the career of the monarchical power thus rudely overthrown; and fearfully corrupt the priesthood and religion thus utterly and with abhorrence rejected. A solemn character of retribution attaches to even the worst excesses of the French Revolution. The Papacy, in the hour of its agony, was exultingly reminded of its own similar cruelties against Protestants; Papists were treated according to the example set by Papists of other days, and the worst barbarities of Revolutionary France could not out-Herod the previous barbarities of Papal France.
The more deeply and earnestly the French Revolution is considered, the more manifest is its pre- eminence above all the strange and terrible things which have come to pass on this earth. Never has the world witnessed so exact and sublime a piece of retribution. If it inflicted enormous evil, it pre supposed and overthrew enormous evil. In a country where every ancient institution and every time-honoured custom, disappeared in a moment, where the whole social and political system went down before the first stroke, where monarchy, nobility, and Church, were swept away almost without resistance, the whole framework of the State must have been rotten; royalty, aristocracy, and priesthood must have grievously sinned. Where the good things of this world, birth, rank, wealth, fine clothes, and elegant manners, become worldly perils and worldly disadvantages for a time, rank, birth, and riches must have been frightfully abused. The nation which abolished and proscribed Christianity, which dethroned religion in favour of reason, and enthroned the new goddess at Notre Dame in the person of a harlot, must needs have been afflicted by a very unreasonable and very corrupt form of Christianity. The people that waged a war of such utter extermination with everything established, as to abolish the common forms of address and salutation, and the common mode of reckoning time, that abhorred ‘you’ as a sin, and shrank from ‘Monsieur’ as an abomination, that turned the weeks into decades and would know the old months no more, must surely have had good reason to hate those old ways from which it pushed its departure into such minute and absurd extravagance. The demolished halls of the aristocracy, the rifled sepulchres of royalty, the decapitated King and Queen, the little Dauphin so sadly done to death, the beggared princes, the slaughtered priests ~nd nobles, the sovereign guillotine, the republican marriages and the Meudon tannery, the couples tied together and thrown into the Loire, and the gloves made of men’s and women’s skins; these things are most horrible; but they are withal eloquent of retribution, they bespeak the solemn presence of Nemesis, the awful hand of an avenging power; they bring to mind the horrible sins of that old France, the wretched peasants ground for ages beneath a weight of imposts, from which the rich and noble were free; visited ever and anon with cruel famines by reason of crushing taxes, unjust wars, and monstrous misgovernment, and then hung up, or shot down, by twenties and fifties, for just complaining of starvation, and all this for centuries I They rail to remembrance the Protestants murdered by myriads in the streets of Paris, tormented for years by military dragoons in Poiton and Bearn, and hunted like wild beasts in the Cevehnes; slaughtered and done to death by thousands and tens of thousands in many painful ways and through many painful years.
"In no work of the French Revolution is this, its retributive character, more strikingly and solemnly apparent than in its dealings with the Roman Church and Papal power. It especially became France, which, after so fierce a struggle, had rejected the Reformation, and perpetrated such enormous crimes in the process of rejection, to turn its fury against that very Roman Church on whose behalf it had been so wrathful to abolish Roman Catholic worship as she had abolished the Protestant worship ; to massacre multitudes of priests in the streets of her great towns; to hunt them down through her length and breadth, and to cast them ..by thousands upon a foreign shore, just as she had slaughtered, bunted down, and driven into exile, hundreds of thousands of Protestants; . . . . to carry the war into the Papal territories, and heap all sorts of woes and shames upon the defenceless Popedom. . . . The excesses of revolutionary France were not more the punishment than the direct result of the excesses of feudal, regal, and papal France. In one of its aspects the Revolution may be described as a reaction against the excesses, spiritual and religious, of the Roman Catholic reaction from Protestantism. No sooner had the torrent burst forth than it dashed right against the Roman Church and Popedom. . . The property of the Church was made over to the State; the French clergy sank from a proprietary to a salaried body; monks and nuns were restored to the world, the property of their orders being likewise gone; Protestants were raised to full religious freedom and political equality; the Roman Catholic religion was soon afterwards formally abolished. Bonaparte unsheathed the sword of France against the helpless Pius VI. The Pontiff sank into a dependant.
Berthier marched upon Rome, set up a Roman republic, and laid hands upon the Pope. The sovereign Pontiff was borne away to the camp of the infidels from prison to prison, and finally carried captive into France. Here he breathed his last, at Valence, in the land where his priests bad been slain, where his power was broken, and his name and office were a mockery and byword, and in the keeping of the rude soldiers of the unbelieving Commonwealth which had for ten years held to his lips a cup of such manifold and exceeding bitterness. It was a sublime and perfect piece of retribution, which so amazed the world at the end of the 18th century; this proscription of the Roman Church by that very French nation that had slaughtered myriads of Protestants at her bidding; this mournful end of the Sovereign Pontiff, in that very Dauphine so consecrated by the struggles and sufferings of the Protestants, and near those Alpine valleys where the Waldenses had been so ruthlessly hunted down by French soldiers ; this transformation of the ‘States of the Church’ into the ‘Roman Republic,’ and this overthrow of the territorial Popedom by that very French nation, which just one thousand years ago, had, under Pepin and Charlemagne, conferred these territories. Multitudes imagined that the Papacy was at the point of death, and asked, Would Pius the Sixth be the last Pontiff? and if the close of the 18th century would be signalized by the fall of the Papal dynasty. But the French Revolution was the beginning, and not the end of the judgment; France had but begun to execute the doom, a doom sure and inevitable, but long and lingering, to be diversified by many strange incidents, and now and then by a semblance of escape, a doom to be protracted through much pain and much ignominy." "The Papal Drama," Book x. By Thomas H. Gill.
The career of Napoleon, -the second phase of the French Revolution, -was. a further, and even more illustrious, stage in the fall of the Papacy. He made open war against Pius VI., and compelled him to sign that most humiliating treaty of Tolentino, by which Ferrara, Bologna, and Romagna ("Peter’s patrimony") were ceded to France, with an indemnity of a million and a half pounds, and a hundred of the finest pictures and statues in the Vatican. Berthier, a general of the French Republic, soon after took Pius VI. prisoner; the tricolor flag was displayed from the Capitol, and the Pope’s temporal power declared to be at an end. He was carried captive to France, where, in 1799, he died in exile.
When Napoleon, for political reasons, restored the Roman Catholic religion in France, it was only to inflict on it, what its own dignitaries deem, additional insult and injury. It was put on a level with all other sects of religion, and merely tolerated.
No trace of an admission of Papal supremacy, or even of Papal influence, is to be found in the concordat between Napoleon and the Pope for France, in 1802, or in that for Italy, in 1803. At his coronation, in 1804, Napoleon required the Pope’s attendance, and made Pius VII. cross the Alps in mid-winter, not to confer a crown, but merely to adorn a ceremony. Napoleon placed the crown on his own head himself; and the Pope stood by, "an important and imposing, but purposely slighted witness of the coronation." Napoleon did not at that time wish to annihilate the Popedom, as the revolutionary Directory had done, but to retain the Sovereign Pontiff as his vassal. But when, a few years later, the Pope resisted his will, he soon showed him who was master. In 1809, in the plenitude of his power, when he was supreme in Europe, he issued from the palace of the Schonbrunn in Vienna, a decree dividing and distributing the dominions yet remaining to the Pope in Italy, and constituting Rome itself the second city in the French Empire. At the same time he reduced the "Holy Father" to the rank of a French subject, and even in his sacerdotal character, a mere salaried official of the French Court, his income being fixed at 80,000 a year.
The bull of excommunication which the Pope fulminated against Napoleon in return, only , made him ridiculous in the eyes of Europe; like his predecessor, he was carried captive by the French’ army, first to Savona, then to Fontainebleau, where he was forced to sign another concordat, renouncing all claim to Rome for ever.
On the overthrow of Napoleon, the Pope was restored to Rome; "but he sat not on his throne as once before; his power was crippled, his seat unstable, the riches of his Church were rifled, and a mighty precedent and principle of action had been established against him, which could scarcely fail of bearing similarly bitter fruit afterwards." (Elliott, " Horse," iii. p. 375.)
The restoration of Papal supremacy in France did not last long. The year 1830 brought about another thoroughly antisacerdotal revolution. Charles X., who had acceded to the throne in 1824, had to abdicate, and his ministry bad to flee for their lives; while the Duke of Orleans was proclaimed king under the title of Louis Philippe.
-In 1848 another revolution again constituted France a republic; tumults broke out in Paris in February, the Tuileries were ransacked, and frightful disorders committed. Louis Philippe was obliged to abdicate and take refuge in England; and "the second republic" was proclaimed. A fortnight after the fall of Louis Philippe, the constitution was proclaimed in Rome, and the city and country were thrown into a state of revolution.
Before the end of the year Cardinal Rossi, the Pope’s prime minister, was killed, and the Pope had to flee from Rome. He was deposed from his temporal authority, and an Italian republic was proclaimed. It was only by the power of the French that the Pope was afterwards for a time restored, when Louis Napoleon had become President of the French Republic. With occasional pauses, and with gleams of passing prosperity now and then, , the course of the Papacy has ever since been one of downfall and decay. It is not needful here to recall the details of the consuming process that has during the last forty or fifty years been going on; but recent events must receive a brief notice. In 1866 the Romish Empire of Austria was worsted by Protestant Prussia at the memorable battle of Sadowa, a battle the results of which were as decisive as those of Waterloo. Austria received a shock from which it has never recovered, and was obliged to cede Venetia, which was annexed to the kingdom of Italy, while Prussia was raised to the rank of one of the great powers of Europe. In 1868, the Spanish Revolution took place, Queen Isabella fled, and Spain was plunged into years of cruel strife, in the course of which the Jesuits were banished, their monasteries and churches confiscated and sold or pulled down, and the bones of the martyrs brought to light at the Quemadero.
The same year Pius IX. sent out his famous encyclical letter summoning the Ecumenical Council for 1870. Six archbishop princes, 49 cardinals, i i patriarchs, 68o archbishops and bishops, 28 abbots, 29 generals of orders, 803 spiritual rulers, representing the Church of Rome throughout the world, solemnly decreed the dogma that the occupant of the Papal Chair, is, ‘in all his decisions regarding faith and morals, infallible! It is said that arrangements had been made to reflect a glory around the person of the Pope by means of mirrors at noon, when the decree was made (18 July, 1870). But the sun shone not that day. A violent storm broke over Rome, the sky was darkened by tempest, and the voices of the Council were lost in the rolling of thunder.
On the very day following this culmination of Papal arrogance and self-exaltation, was declared that terrible Franco-German war, in which the French Empire of Louis Napoleon, -by the soldiers of which the Pope was maintained on his tottering throne, -fell. The temporal sovereignty of the Papacy fell with it. No sooner had the French troops been withdrawn from Rome, and the French Empire collapsed, than the Italian Government announced its intention of entering the Roman States, and did so. On the 20th of September, 1870, Rome was declared the capital of ‘the kingdom of Italy, and be-. came the residence and the seat of the government of Victor Emmanuel. The Times’ summary for that year says, "The most remarkable circumstance in the annexation of Rome and its territory to the kingdom of Italy, is the languid indifference with which the transfer has been regarded by Catholic Christendom. A change which would once have convulsed the world has railed to distract attention from the more absorbing spectacle of the Franco-German war. Within the same year, the Papacy has assumed the highest spiritual exaltation to which it could aspire, and lost the temporal sovereignty which it had held for a thousand years."
Taking these and similar facts into consideration, there can be no question that the years which have elapsed since have been years of conspicuous, unprecedented, fatal calamity to the papal power.
It has been the period of the outpouring of the vials of the wrath of God, to use the striking symbol of the Apocalypse, for the closing judgments of the dispensation. Those vial-plagues (#Rev. 16), comprising "a noisome and grievous sore" or boil, darkness, frogs, and blood- changed rivers, cannot fail to recall the similar plagues sent upon Egypt prior to the Exodus and to the destruction of Pharaoh. Then they were literal, in harmony with a typical dispensation; now they are the antitypical realities, of which boils, darkness, etc., are the symbols. But so appropriate and graphic are the symbols, so suggestive of the things, that under their guidance alone, we might have been led to discover the events we have been considering. The infidelity of the middle of the 18th century, and its fearful fruit in the enormities of the French Revolution, have long been recognised as the judgment symbolised by the eruption of the "noisome and grievous sore on the men that had the mark of the beast, and worshipped his image," that is on the inhabitants of papal Christendom. Such an outbreak in the natural body is a mark of deep-seated impurity and disease in the constitution. In the body politic the eruption of violent moral and social evil is the same, an indication of ‘long-continued and all-pervading irreligion and corruption.
The second, third, fourth, and fifth vials predict, under various symbols, the judgments connected with the Napoleonic and anti-Papal wars which followed the French Revolution; the outpouring of the sixth, brings us to the other event we are seeking, the decline and fall of the Mohammedan power.
The years which have elapsed since the middle of the 18th century have been almost as fatal to the Eastern, as to the Western little horn. We have not yet seen the complete extinction of the political power of the Sultan, as we have that of the Pope; but it is already almost annihilated in Europe; crippled and restricted where it still exists; and events, as well as Scripture prophecy indicate, that its hold over Syria cannot last much longer.
The rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire are symbolised in the Apocalypse, by the overflow and drying up of the great river Euphrates. In other parts of Scripture the overflow of a river is, from its peculiar appropriateness, used as a symbol for the invasion of a land by a foreign conqueror. (See Jer. xlvi ; Isa. viii. 7, 8.) A modern "History of the Ottoman Turks," opens with the following sentence. "Six centuries ago a pastoral band of four hundred Turkish families was journeying westward, from the upper streams of the river Euphrates, their armed force consisted of four hundred and forty-four horsemen, and their leader’s name was Ertoghrul" This little band of Euphratean horsemen, were the ancestors of that terrible host or "army of horsemen two hundred thousand thousand" strong, whom the Seer of Patmos beheld, loosed from the Euphrates, and overflowing the Roman earth, carrying distress and death wherever they went-the "second woe" sent by God as a judgment on Christendom for its depravity and apostasy, the first having been the Saracenic.
‘History tells us how this Euphratean flood covered land after land, with its irresistible advance. All over South-Eastern Europe, as far as Venice, the Turkish flood extended. Wherever it reached it carried misery and death, so that even the strong language of Rev. ix. 17 can barely convey an idea of the "woe" it was to Eastern Christendom.
The "drying up" of this flood, that is to say the liberation from Turkish oppressions, of the Christian nations and lands overwhelmed by it, began with the Greek rebellion in 1820. But fatal blows to the power and prestige of the Ottoman Empire, had previously been dealt by Russia. In the war of 1768 between the two kingdoms, the Turkish armies were beaten and destroyed, and ruin and disgrace attended each succeeding campaign. In 1770. the Russian admiral annihilated the Turkish fleet in the Aegean sea. In 1774 a large Turkish army was again most disgracefully beaten, and the humiliating peace of Kainarge, showed that the conqueror was in a position to dictate terms. Three years later, war again broke out between the two powers, and again the Russians had the mastery both by sea and by land, and obtained the cession of important towns and districts before concluding peace. In 1806 Russia occupied Moldavia and Wallachia, and the old hostility broke out afresh, the weakness of the Ottoman Empire becoming more apparent than ever. A new fleet, which had been created, was destroyed by the Russians at Lemnos. Mahmoud II. had to buy a peace, by the cession of all his territory north of the Pruth, of a number of fortresses on the Danube, and of a principal mouth of the Danube itself. In 1820 began a formidable insurrection in Greece, the finest province of the Turkish Empire, which quickly spread to Wallachia, Moldavia, and the gean Isles.
In 1826 the Porte surrendered to the Russians all the fortresses it retained in Asia; in the same year civil commotions distracted Constantinople; and the awful slaughter of the Janissaries took place, 4000 soldiers being shot or burned to death in their own barracks m the city, and many thousands more all over the empire, by ‘the Sultan’s own command.
The Greek rebellion continued till 1827, when, after a severe and prolonged struggle, Turkey was obliged to acknowledge the independence of Greece. The sympathies of Western Christendom had been aroused by the horrible cruelties perpetrated by the Turkish Admiral, in the conquest of Scio; and England, France, and Russia intervened between the Porte ‘and its Greek Christian subjects. At the great naval battle of Navario, the fleet of Turkey was once more destroyed, and Greece became independent.
In 1829 the freedom of Servia was similarly secured by a treaty which forbade a single Turk to reside north of the Danube; and the same year the Turkish province of Algeria in Africa became a French colony.
Mehemet Ali, the powerful Pacha or Egypt, who had long been aiming at an hereditary kingdom for himself, rebelled against his master and asserted his independence in 1832. He attacked and conquered Syria, and defeated the Turkish armies in three great battles. Nothing but the interference of the great powers of Christendom, at that time prevented his marching on Constantinople, and overthrowing the Sultan altogether. He was forced back into his own province, and made again nominally dependent on the Sultan by payment of an annual tribute, and the furnishing certain military aid when asked. But Egypt is virtually independent of the Porte, and her present ruler has assumed the title of Khedive, or king, in recognition of the fact.
In 1844 the Porte was compelled, under threat of European interference, to issue an edict of religious toleration, abolishing for ever its characteristic and sanguinary practice of execution for apostasy (i.e., for the adoption of Christianity). This compulsory sheathing of its persecuting sword was a patent proof that its independence was gone, and a marked era in its overthrow.
Nor has it been under the judgment of the sword alone, that the Ottoman Empire has been sinking to decay. It is miserably perishing in its own corruption. Internal discord and insurrection, provoked by cruel tyranny and monstrous misgovernment, have weakened the State. Polygamy and other vices have caused a depopulation so rapid as to be almost incredible. Pestilence, conflagration, earthquakes, civil commotions, massacres, slaughters, all have tended to reduce the population and weaken the empire. These attacks from without, rebellions from within, and this steady process of internal decay, have reduced Turkey, not only to financial bankruptcy, but to such a state of weakness, that, but for the policy of England and other European States, she must long since have perished. The notion that "the integrity of the Ottoman Empire" must be maintained in order to resist the encroachments of Russia, has for the last fifty years averted from this decaying power, long impending and richly deserved doom. But even this can avert it no longer. The atrocious cruelties and fiendish barbarities of the Turk, have alienated from him the sympathies and even the compassion-of Christendom; and in the recent war no hand has been upraised to avert the fate impending over the blood-guilty Ottoman Empire. Russia has this time all but accomplished the task, on which she has so long had her heart set-the liberation from Moslem tyranny of the Christians of South-Eastern Europe. If foreign interference should again avert the end (as it did in the case of the temporal power of the Pope), it can only be for a time. Forces are at work which must ere long destroy the foul tyranny which has so long ruined the fairest regions of the earth; and must set, not Europe only, but Palestine, free from the Moslem rule.
The period that has elapsed since the middle of the 18th century, corresponding to the Jewish Captivity period, and closing the 2520 years, or "seven times" of Gentile supremacy, has then been most conspicuously marked by the decline and fall of the two little horns, the final forms of Gentile rule over the Israel, and Sanctuary of God, spiritual and literal.
And the years of special crisis in the former have been, as far as we have gone, answered by corresponding years of crisis in the latter, as will be seen by the following table. We have not yet reached the latest terminus ad quem; it is not yet 2520 years since the final fall of the throne of David, and the full establishment of Gentile supremacy by Nebuchadnezzar’s overthrow of Jehoiakin; nor have the events predicted as to close this time of the end’ all taken place as yet.
We do not wish to speculate as to the future; of that, as the great Sir Isaac Newton said, "let time be the interpreter." We simply point to facts in the past. No one can question that the sudden and terrible outbreak of infidelity and atheism in the middle of the last century, marked by the publications of Rousseau and the Encyclopaedists-the accession of the ill-fated king and queen who fell victims to the fury of the French revolution; the culmination of that awful movement itself in the reign of terror, followed by the overthrow of the Papal power in Italy; and, turning to the East, the compulsory signature by the Sultan of the first edict of religious toleration- no one can question we say, that these have been marked and critical events, in the downfall of the Papal and Mohammedan powers. Other indications will shortly lead us to other dates also; but we are already in a position to see that between the critical years of the Captivity era, and the critical years of this time of the end, there lie exactly "seven times,"-2520 years.
For one such great "week," traced backwards from the middle of last century, takes us to the reign of Menahem, king of Israel and the invasion of Pul; the same period traced back from the accession of Louis XVI. reaches exactly to the accession of Nabonassar, the first king of Babylon; the same period traced back from the ‘overthrow of the Papal power in the French revolution, leads up to the overthrow of Samaria by Shalmanezer; and the same period traced back from the Turkish edict of toleration reaches to the completion of the captivity of the ten tribes by Esarhaddon. A simple calculation will prove this, remembering that in adding A.D. to B.C. dates, one year has to be subtracted to obtain the complete interval elapsed.
TERMINI A QUO AND AD QUEM OF THE SEVEN TIMES.
I.From the first Assyrian invasion of Palestine (that by Pul, king of Assyria), and the carrying captive a portion of the Ten Tribes, to the outbreak of the grievous sore of infidelity, in the middle of the 18th century.
B.C. 770 2520 years. A.D. 1750-51.
II From the siege and fall of Samaria and more complete captivity of the Ten Tribes by Shalmanezer, to the judgments on the Papal Power in the French Revolution-
B.C. 723 2520 years. A.D. 1798.
III. From the captivity of Manasseh and coincident completion of the deportation of the remainder of the Ten Tribes by Esarhaddon, to the first edict of religious toleration in the East, issued by the Porte, the compulsory sheathing of its persecuting sword, a sign that its independence was gone-
B.C. 676-7 2520 years. A.D. 1844
IV. From the full captivity of Judah, and final overthrow of the throne of David, accomplished by Nebuchadnezzar, to the still future terminus ad quem of the prophetic period of 2520 years.
B.C. 598 2520 years. A.D. 1923.
Historically, then, the Times of the Gentiles is a great dispensational week, of 2520 years, extending from the Captivity era, B.C. 770-598, to the era of the closing judgments on the kingdom of the beast, the vial era of the Apocalypse, A.D. 1750- 1923. It is the "seven times" of Gentile dominion over Israel, included in the symbol of Nebuchadnezzar’s image.
This great week has thus earlier and later commencements, incipient and then full starting points, and corresponding closes, just as in an eclipse, the penumbra first comes in contact, and after a brief interval the dark shadow. This is clearly the case with other chronological prophecies also. Jeremiah announced, for example, that Judah should serve the king of Babylon "seventy years" (#Jer 25:9-12). History shows that this period had a double commencement and a double termination, -a two-fold fulfilment. First, from BC. 606 to the decree 6f Cyrus, and again from BC 587 to the, edict of Darius. This is easily explicable. The majestic movements of Providence and of history demand time; empires do not rise and fall in a day; and the omniscient God takes note of the comparatively insignificant beginning of a mighty movement as well as of its climax. We are witnesses that the decay of the Papal and Mohammedan powers demands an era, not an epoch merely ; and such has been the case with the decay of other great powers in other ages. Hence the propriety of indicating various dates of rise and fall. But it should be noted that the interval by which the earliest of these commencing and closing dates is separated from the latest is, compared to the whole period, so small as to be scarcely perceptible, so that it is even difficult to represent it to scale, on a diagram. Thus the statement that the equinox the day is twelve hours long, is practically true of a day or two before, and of a day or two after the equinox, because the variation is, compared to the length of the day, hardly observable.
But while the measures of this great dispensational week are sufficiently clear, when we consider its main termini, they become increasingly so when we proceed to study its bisections and divisions. The measures of the whole week are evident; but those of the half week, the "time, times, and a half" of prophecy, are still more so, and these we must now examine.
The whole week, or "seven times," dates from the era of the rise of the literal Babylon, and measures the entire course of the four great monarchies; the half week, or "time, times, and a half," dates from the era of the rise of the spiritual Babylon, and measures the existence of the great apostasies which occupy the latter half of the "Times of the Gentiles." When did these arise?
The Papal power rose in the interval between the fall of the Western Roman Empire, under Romulus Augustulus, the last Emperor of Rome, and the Pope-exalting decrees of the-Eastern Emperors Justinian and Phocas, which put the top-stone on the slowly rising arch of Papal pretension and power, by constituting the Bishops of Rome Universal Bishops, and making them heads of all Christendom. And the Mohammedan power rose in the East during the very same interval; for, as Luther used to say, "the Pope and the Turk came up together." The fall of the Western Empire took place in A.D. 476, and the Hegra era of the Mohammedans is A.D. 622.
The century and a half intervening between these dates may be called the era of the rise of the Western and Eastern Apostasies. It embraces nearly all the main stages of the rise of the two little horns; it is analogous in character and in duration to the Captivity era, and it is central in position in the. great "seven times."
It is analogous in character, for the Captivity era was one of decay and fall to the natural Israel, and one during which the power and dominion of the natural Babylon, was rising steadily to its culmination in the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. This central era of the rise of the apostasies is one of decay and fall to the spiritual Israel, the true Church of Christ, and one during which the power and dominion of the spiritual Babylon, was rising steadily to its culmination in the enthronement of the Papal dynasty-the great antichrist, the antitype of Nebuchadnezzar-at Rome.
2. It is analogous also in duration, for from the era of Nabonassar to the overthrow of Jehoiakim is 146 solar, or i 50 lunar, years, and from the fall of the Western Empire of Rome (A.D. 476) to the date of the Hegira of Mohammed (A.D. 622) is exactly the same period.
It is central in position in the great "seven times." The intervals which separate the commencement and completion of the Captivity era from the commencement and completion of this central era are respectively 1260 lunar years; and the intervals which separate these latter dates from the corresponding dates of the "time of the end" are also respectively 1260 years.
That this central era is the bisection of "seven times" has long been perceived in a general way by students of prophecy; but it is only by the application to the period of careful astronomical measures that the wonderful accuracy and exactness with which this is the case can be demonstrated..
Three sorts of years are, it must be premised, demonstrably employed by the Author of the prophetic periods: solar, calendar, and lunar years. Calendar years, or years of 360 days, are used in the predictions of Daniel and the Apocalypse; for it is only three and a half such years that contain 1260 days.
Solar and lunar years are also taken into account, as is proved by the fact that in Dan. xii.-75 years are, as we have seen, added to 2520; and 75 is exactly the difference between 2520 solar years and 2520 lunar years.
We have a warrant therefore for measuring historic intervals by any or all of these three standards; and where, for any reason, it is the Divine purpose to conceal for a time, or partially, the actual measures of any interval, we may expect to find the lunar year employed in measuring it, inasmuch as this year gives rise to what may be termed a hidden chronology.
Before going further, it will be well to enquire what were the critical years in this era of the rise of the Papal and Mohammedan powers. We are in the broad sunlight of authentic profane history here; there may be room for some difference of judgment as to the relative importance of certain events in the history, but there can be no question at all as to the dates of the events selected.
"He that letteth," or that which hindereth the development of the great apostasy, "will let, until he be taken out of the way," said the Apostle Paul, and then the Antichrist will be revealed (2 Thess. ii.). There could be no chance for Popes while the Caesars still ruled at Rome. The first step in the rise of the Papacy therefore was necessarily the complete downfall of the Western Empire of Rome, which, as we have seen, took place under Romulus Augustulus, in A.D. 476. From that time forth the claims of the Bishops of Rome increased continually, based at first on the metropolitan character of the see of Rome, and by degrees on more supernatural and spiritual grounds. But their claims to supremacy over other bishops received no legal sanction’ until A.D. 533, when, by his celebrated decretal letters, the Eastern Roman Emperor, JUSTINIAN, recognised the Bishop of Rome as "head of all the holy Churches, and all the holy priests of God."
In the seventy-fifth subsequent year, A.D. 607, the Emperor Phocas promulgated another very notable decree, confirming the right of the Pope to the headship of all the Churches, Eastern as well as Western, and acknowledging him primate. of all other sees, that of Constantinople included., In 608 Phocas bestowed upon the Pope the Pantheon of Rome, a temple formerly dedicated to Cybele and all the gods, and thenceforth to the Virgin Mary and all the martyrs; i.e., formerly devoted to Pagan, and thenceforth to Papal, idolatry. Phocas died in A.D. 610. In 1813 the base of a pillar was excavated in Rome, bearing an inscription intimating that it, was erected in honour of Phocas, A.D. 608, on the occasion of these his great concessions to the Pope.
The accession of the assassin Phocas was "joyfully" endorsed by Pope Gregory the Great, -I- whose own accession in A.D. 590, constitutes a very leading date in the rise of the Papacy. ‘Gregory the Great was "the last of the Latin Fathers, and the first in the modern sense of the word of the Popes," and he "did more than any other to set the Church forward upon the new lines on which henceforth it must travel to constitute a Latin Christianity, with distinctive features of its own, such as broadly separate it from Greek."
One more remarkable step in the rise of the Papacy, and the extending over Europe of its peculiar evil influence, must be noticed. It is the decree of the Pope VITALIAN, ordering all the services of the Church throughout Christendom to be read in Latin, -a decree, as we know, still in fatal force, and obeyed by every Roman Catholic priest in the world. This was in the year A.D. 663. It gave a distinctly Roman, or Latin, character to the Church, secured perfect unity with Rome in all its ceremonial, and was surely one way in which the beast "caused all to receive his mark and the number of his name" (LATEINOZ = 666). From the time of the division of the Roman Empire, the Western half, indeed, received the designation Latin, in opposition to "Greek," which, strangely enough, was soon applied by the Eastern Roman Emperors to themselves and their empire. In the West the word Roman was also dropped; it was the Latin world, the Latin kingdoms, the Latin Church, the Latin clergy, the Latin patriarch, the Latin councils. Gibbon, who is so accurate in his word- painting, always applies this epithet to the Western Papal kingdoms. "’They latinize everything,’ to use Dr. More’s words; ‘mass, prayers, hymns, litanies, canons, decretals, bulls, are conceived in Latin. The Papal councils speak in Latin; the Scripture is read in no other language under Popery than Latin; in short, all things are Latin."’ * From the time of Vitalian’s decree, public worship itself throughout the whole of Papal Christendom was in Latin only. Hence the truth and worship of God became mere unmeaning sounds to the mass of the people in all lands, and the power of the Papal priesthood proportionably increased.
We take then as the main epochs of the rise of the Papal power
1. The decretal letter of Justinian 533.
2. The accession of Gregory the Great 590.
3. The edicts and donations of Phocas 607-610.
4. The latinizing decree of Vitalian 663.
The main points or epochs in the rise of the Eastern little horn, the Mohammedan ‘power, which sprang up during the same era, spread with extraordinary rapidity, attained enormous influence, and wielded it to the misery and destruction of the Christian nations subjugated by it, -are two.
1. The Hegira, or flight of Mohammed from Mecca to Medina, the turning point in the career of the false prophet, which transformed him from the despised leader of a sect of fanatics to the prince and prophet of his people.
2. The capture of Jerusalem and Syria by the Caliph Omar, when a mosque was erected on the site of Solomon’s temple, from which, that Muezzin call to prayer which has never since ceased (save for a brief interval in the time of the Crusaders) was first heard in the city. It was on this occasion that Sophronius, the unhappy patriarch of Jerusalem, muttered as he followed the victorious caliph round the sacred sites, "The abomination of desolation stands in the holy place."
The ten years of the Caliphate of Omar from A.D. 634 to A.D. 644 were years of rapid extension of Mohammedan power. The Saracens during their course reduced to obedience 36,000 cities or strongholds, destroyed 4,000 Christian churches, and built 1,400 mosques.
"At the end of the first century from the Hegira, the Arabian Empire had been extended to 200 days’ journey from east to west, and reached from the confines of Tartary and India to the shores of the Atlantic, "over all which ample space," says’ Gibbon, "the progress of the Mohammedan religion diffused a general resemblance of manners and of opinions,"-over all which ample space, we may add, the venom of the scorpion sting of their conquerors was made to rankle in the breast of the subject Christians. For, indeed, the bitter contempt and hatred flowing out from the Moslem faith towards them could not but be felt perpetually. It was marked in the terms "Christian dogs" and "infidels." The enactments of the capitulations granted them were their every-day remembrancers of it.
Deprived of the use of arms, like the Helots of old, with a tribute enforced as their animal life redemption-tax, with a different dress, enjoined on them from their masters, and a more humble mode of riding, an obligation to rise up deferentially in the presence of the meanest Moslem, and to receive and gratuitously entertain for a certain time any Mussulman who on a journey might require it, such were the marks of personal degradation ordained in the capitulations. And then, in token of the degradation of their religion, -to which, notwithstanding all their superstitions, they clung with fond attachment-there was a prohibition to build new churches, to chime the bells in those retained by them, or to refuse admission into them to the scoffing Moslem, though they regarded his presence as defilement. Add to which the inducements to apostasy, operating to an incalculable extent, on .the young and thoughtless in families more especially, and then the penalty of death against their returning to the Christian faith, the insults, moreover, to the Christian females, and thousands of undefinable injuries of oppression, and how could it be but the bitterness of their loss should be felt, and the poison rankle within them, even as in other days with the Jewish captives in Babylon, so as to make life itself almost a burden?"
The two principal Mohammedan dates of commencement then are-
1. The Hegira A.D. 622.
2. Omar’s capture of Jerusalem A.D. 637.
Now let it be observed
1. That from the accession of Nabonassar, the first king of Babylon, to the deposition of Romulus Augustulus, the last Emperor of Rome, was to a day 1260 lunar years.
2. That from the overthrow of Jehoiakim by Nebuchadnezzar (BC. 602) to the Hegira of Mohammed is also 1260 lunar years.
3. That from Nebuchadnezzar’s burning of the temple, in the 9th year of his reign (B.C. 587), to Omar’s capture of Jerusalem (A.D. 637), followed by the erection of a mosque that bears his name on the site of the temple, is again 1260 lunar years.
4. That from the Mohammedan era ‘of Hegira to the import- -ant crisis in the decay and fall of Mohammedan power before alluded to, the end of its independence and legalised intolerance, A.D. 1844, is once more 1260 years lunar, and it should be remembered that the Mohammedan reckoning is lunar.
5. That from the celebrated Pope-exalting decree of Justinian, A.D. 533, which constituted the Bishop of Rome head of all the Churches, 1260 years reckoned as lunar, as calendar, and as solar, lead respectively to the important initial; and crisis dates of the French revolution; thus A.D. 533, Justinian’s decretal letter
533 1260 lunar 1755
533 1260 calendar 1774
533 1260 solar 1793
6. That from the decree of the Emperor Phocas, confirming the primacy of the see of Rome over that of Constantinople and all the Eastern and Western Churches, 1260 years measured in the same three ways lead respectively to the three great modern overthrows of Papal power of which we have spoken: the revolutions of 1830, 1848-9, and 1866-70.
A.D. 607-to. Phocas-
607 1260 lunar 1830
607 1260 calendar 1848-9
607 1260 solar 1866-1870
7. That measured from the important central date of the accession of Pope Gregory the Great, Sept. 3, A.D. 590, the first properly speaking of the Popes, the 1260th solar year commences in Sept., 1849, which year is the terminus of 1260 calendar years from the decree of Phocas.
8. That from the captivity of Jehoiachin, and the final overthrow of Judah, B.c. 598, 1260 solar years lead to the promulgation of the decree of Vitalian that , the services of the Church throughout Christendom should be performed in Latin, A.D. 663. This latter date is, consequently, the bisection of "seven times" in solar years, as reckoned from the date of the final overthrow of the throne of Judah, and 1260 solar years from that point do not run out until the year A.D. 1923.
9. Further, from the capture of Jerusalem by Omar, A.D. 637, 1260 calendar years have brought us to the recent overthrow of Turkey by Russia, the Treaty of Berlin; the Anglo-Turkish Convention as to Cyprus, and the English protectorate of Asia Minor, unquestionably a fresh stage in the downfall of the Mohammedan power, whose present head is Constantinople. We have not yet reached 1260 solar years from the same date; they will run out in 1897 (and 1260 solar years from the Hegira date, the true commencement of Mohammedan reckoning, will expire in 1882).
It may be asked, How is it, if the fulfilment of these chronological prophecies be thus clearly traceable, that the fact has not been earlier perceived?
We reply, -It is the revealed purpose of God that, for wise and gracious reasons, these chronological prophecies would become clear only in the "time of the end" (Dan. xii.).
In fulfilment of this design, not only is a symbolic system of predicting events and their duration adopted, but even when the chronological symbol employed is rightly translated on the year-day system, it is not necessarily clear what kind of year is the reality, for which a day is the symbol; hence the true length of the predicted period may still be to a certain extent hidden.
Some of the above periods are accurate even to a day when calculated by the true lunar year, though they present only distant approximations to accuracy when measured by the solar year.
But while comprehension of these Divine prophecies was impossible until partial fulfilment had given the true clue in the year-day system, and while the periods predicted still remained obscure even when the clue was obtained, their true scope has become clearer and clearer as each successive generation of students has searched into their meaning, till now, in the light of such fulfilments as the late loss of temporal power by the Papacy, and the present and imminent loss of power by the Ottoman Empire, -in the clear glow of light shed by fulfilments m this end of the age, and by the discovery of the astronomic ‘measures of these mysterious times, the whole series seem to range themselves into order and proportion, and to present no longer a hopeless, puzzling, and intricate maze, but a complete, majestic, and clearly traceable plan.
CHRONOLOGICAL MEASURES OF THE PATRIARCHAL AGE AND THE JEWISH DISPENSATION.
It remains now to show that each of the two earlier dispensations lasted for a period similar to the Times of the Gentiles, and consisted of a great week of years of years- "seven times."
It should be noted, that Christianity, the religious system which has distinctively characterized the Times of the Gentiles, did not take its rise at their commencement, but on the contrary, when they had already run a third of their course. The rise of Christianity dates, not from the overthrow of Jewish independence in the Captivity era, but from the period of the abolition of Judaism, just before the fall of the city and temple of Jerusalem. Similarly Judaism, the distinctively characteristic religion of the previous or second great dispensation, dates, not from its commencement, but from SINAI, the giving of the law, the point where the Patriarchal dispensation closes. And just as the times of the Gentiles had an earlier commencement than Christianity, so the Jewish race and their special covenant privileges, had an earlier origin than the giving of the law. In each case a people was first prepared to receive the new system of religious truth, and then the system was revealed. Thus, as represented in the diagram, the dispensations overlapped; the second grew out of the first, and the third out of the second. The earliest date of the origin of the third, is, as we have seen, the beginning of the Jewish Captivities, the invasion of Pul, in the reign of Menahem, whose accession was in B.C. 770, 840 years before the destruction of Jerusalem, followed by the triumph of Titus, celebrated at Rome A.D. 70-71. Now 840 years is one-third of 2520 years; the times of the Gentiles took their rise one-third of "seven times," before the passing away of Judaism. We naturally inquire, Is any parallel fact observable in connection with the previous dispensation? Did the origin of the Abrahamic race precede the giving of the Law, by any such period?
The call of Abram preceded the Exodus by 430 years: "the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was 430 years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect" (#Gal 3:17). The birth of the Patriarch preceded his call by seventy- five years, and Abram the Hebrew was himself descended, through Eber, from SHEM, and with his race, inherited the blessing of that pre-eminently blessed son of Noah; his was the specially privileged branch of The great Shemitic family. Now the blessing of Shem immediately followed the flood; it dates from the recommencement of human history after the first great judgment of the world by water. Measuring, then, the Shemitic dispensation, or that of the Jewish people and their fathers, from this primary epoch, to the time of Messiah’s advent and rejection, we find that another great "seven times" intervened; that, as nearly as we can ascertain, such a week of years of years, divided these great termini from each other.
It must be borne in mind, that the two inevitable gaps in the world’s chronology, occur in the course of this Shemitic or Jewish age, so that certainty, to within forty or fifty years, is unattainable. The date of the flood is A.M. 1656, which, according to Clinton’s chronology is B.C. 2482. Adding twenty-nine years-to the date of the Crucifixion, -it will be seen that the latter event took place 2510 years after the flood, that is, only ten years less than the full "seven times," or 2520 years. Now it must be borne in mind that their rejection of Messiah the Prince, did not, as we have seen, cause at once, the full and final rejection of Israel by God. For some years subsequently the ministry of the Holy Ghost by the Apostles, appealed to them to repent and be converted, that the times of refreshing might come from the presence of the Lord. Ten or fifteen years later the sentence was pronounced by Paul and Barnabas, "It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commandeth us" (Acts xiii. 46). Allowing therefore a few years for this final hovering of the Spirit of mercy and longsuffering over the guilty race, we may say that 2520 years, "seven times," elapsed between the bestowment of distinctive privilege on the race of Shem, and the utter rejection of the Jewish people, and transference of the kingdom of God to the Gentiles. It should be remembered that this is no question of brief periods; it is a question of a period of over twenty-five centuries; so that an inaccuracy of two or three years, even if it existed, would scarcely affect the conclusion.
But it cannot be proved that there is an inaccuracy, because of the acknowledged and inevitable uncertainty as to two of the minor intervals composing this long period, which may throw our accepted dates out, to the extent of forty or fifty years. Absolute accuracy is in this case unattainable; the terminal event of the Shemitic or Jewish "seven times" may have been the Crucifixion itself or it may have been the crisis indicated above, or it may have been the subsequent destruction of Jerusalem. There is no need to fix on any one of these, in order to recognise the broad fact, which is beyond dispute, that the Shemitic or Jewish age extended over a great week of prophetic times, exactly as does the succeeding dispensation, the times of the Gentiles. No trifling discrepancy of a few years, -a discrepancy which, as it is founded on ignorance, not on certain knowledge, may not exist, but be merely apparent, -can blind a candid observer to the fact, that ‘here, in these major divisions of human history, there prevails the same law of completion in weeks, which we have traced in so many minor arrangements.
The first, or patriarchal dispensation, had a similar duration. "From Adam to Moses," when there was "no law," i.e., from the Creation to Sinai, 2514 years elapsed, for the date of the Exodus (according to Clinton) is A.M. 2513, and the giving of the Law followed the Exodus, so that the "seven times" terminated within seven years of the Exodus. We may therefore boldly say that from Adam to Moses was "seven times"; -from the incipient rise of the Hebrew nation and their peculiar privileges, to their utter rejection and fall, was "seven times"; and from the recognition by God of Gentile monarchy, down to its final overthrow, is also "seven times." The three dispensations
so clearly distinguished by their broad moral features, and marked off by their critical termini (the greatest events of all human ‘history), are THREE GREAT WEEKS CHRONOLOGICALLY EQUAL TO EACH OTHER. Taking the prophetic " time" (360 years)’ as the unit, the first contained seven such; the second contained seven such; and the third contains seven such.
Symmetrical subdivisions of these great periods seem also clearly traceable. The second is divided into thirds, the last into halves. The Exodus marks the first third of the Shemitic or Jewish age, the Captivity era its second, and the ‘fall of Jerusalem its close; the three periods representing respectively the rise, the prosperity, and the decay and fall, of the Jewish nation. The golden headship of the Babylonian power marks the rise of the times of the Gentiles, the first half of which is occupied by the four great Pagan Empires of antiquity, and the last by the domination of the "little horn," or Papal dynasty, for "time times and a half" 1260 years. The- chronological harmony between these three great dispensations, or stages of progress, in the providential dealings of God with man, is of profound interest, especially when viewed in relation to the other scriptural uses of the week, and in relation to its prominence in natural and vital phenomena.
Owing to the ingrafting of these three dispensations, before mentioned, and represented in the diagram, their total duration is between 5880 and 6000 years. This commencement of a succeeding dispensation before the termination of a previous one, seems natural and appropriate, when the relation between them is remembered. Their connection is not one of mere succession or juxtaposition, but one of intimate relation, and of vital growth. The mature years of the parent coincide with the infancy and youth of the child; indeed, there is always a period in which the lives of the mother and child are not twain, but one. So in the chronological arrangements of the law, one year began while another was still in progress, so that the two overlapped for several months. The year of jubilee, for instance, commenced in the midst of the ordinary current year, on the tenth day of the seventh month, the great day of atonement. (#Lev 25)
The deep reason for this arrangement is also obvious, it forms part of that hidden wisdom, of which Scripture is full. It is one feature of an underlying system of times and seasons, which, like all system in nature, is concealed from mere casual observers. Scientific classification has its basis in natural facts; but the facts on which it is based are not conspicuously obvious to the superficial inquirer, so that the system is not self-evident. On the contrary, the facts must be carefully compared, before their mutual relations can be perceived, or the system which embraces them all, discerned. So it is with these biblical times and seasons. The moral distinctions between the three dispensations are clearly pointed out in Scripture; the great crises in human history which form their respective termini, are fully narrated, the dates of the events and their duration are duly given, and the measures of the last are not indistinctly intimated in prophecy; but it is nowhere stated that human history has been providentially divided into three great weeks of seven prophetic times each; we are left to discover from what is stated, what is not stated, i.e., the plan that underlies the whole chronology ‘of the Bible, and the harmony of that plan with the plan observable in nature, organic and inorganic. We are furnished with a clue, and then left to explore the labyrinth..
That there should be this analogy between the mode of God’s revelation of his ways, in nature and in Scripture, is what might have been expected, even were no special reason assignable why, in the matter of the chronology of the ages, peculiar reserve should be employed. But, as we have previously seen, the purpose of God to conceal the fore-ordained duration of this Christian age, from all save the later generations of his people, is very distinctly intimated. "Shut up the vision and seal the book, even to the time of the end." "The words are closed up and sealed, even to the time of the end." The intimations which exist, of the uniform and septiform measures of the three dispensations, were therefore purposely slight and indirect, unlikely to attract attention in early days, or to be even surmised, till the fulfilment of the great prophetic "time times and a half" had so far progressed, as to illuminate with fresh light the entire book of chronologic prophecy.
And further, not only is the whole plan and system an underlying and half-hidden one, but even when perceived the providential gaps in Bible chronology necessarily prevent its being demonstrated, with that absolute evidence which would, place it beyond dispute, or with that accuracy which would justify any prediction of "that day and that hour." "It is not for you to know the times and the seasons which the Father bath put in his own power," said our Master to his early disciples, when they inquired as to the time of the restoration of the kingdom to Israel. He did not abate their confident expectation that such a restoration was to take place; He implied, on the contrary, that the time and the season for it were appointed, but intimated that with that time and season they were not to become acquainted. A revelation of nineteen centuries of delay, would have been a test of faith and patience too severe to be imposed on the infant Church: a merciful veil of mystery was thrown over the subject, and the return of their Lord, after a longer or shorter delay, was the one hope and prospect left to-the early disciples. But ages before, the promise had been given, that in the time of the end, the wise should understand the mysteries of chronologic prophecy (Dan. xii. 10,11); and the promise has been fulfilled. Revelations that were dark to The fathers, are radiant with light to us; and the perception of the true nature of the year-day system, and of the septiform measures of the Divine dispensations, so far from discouraging faith and hope, now only stimulate both. We humbly venture to regard the view unfolded in this chapter, of the uniform and harmonious ordering of the ages of human history, by the law of completion in weeks, as a fresh instance of progressive interpretation, another example of the way in which God, who is his own interpreter, makes plain in due time, the meaning of His Own Word.