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we are to understand weeks of years, or as many years as there are days in seventy weeks, viz. 490 years.
The decree of Artaxerxes, called in the 25th , verse, "the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem,"is unquestionably to be regarded as the commencement of the 490 years.
In the seventh chapter of Ezra we have an account of this decree, and of the return of Ezra to Jerusalem under the countenance and protection of king Artaxerxes. The chapter tells us (Ezra vii. 8) that this was in the seventh year of the reign of this monarch.
Archbishop Usher places this event in the year B. C. 457. Mr. Miller, who adopts this date, seems to be ignorant of the fact, that the real date of the birth of Christ, is four years before the common era, and that Christ was crucified A. D. 29, and not A. D. 33. So that the year 1843 will be in reality 1817 years from the birth of Christ, and the present year (1840) is 1844 years from that event. The year B. C. 457, will therefore be 453 years before the birth of Christ. Reckoning from the year 453 before Christ was born, and adding 33 years, the age of Jesus Christ at his crucifixion, it would be 486 years from the decree of Artaxerxes to the cutting off of the Messiah. Those who adopt this chronology, suppose, that by the expression in the 27th verse, “In the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease," we are to understand that after the completion of 69 of the weeks of years, amounting to 483 years, denoted in the 25th verse by the two periods of " seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks,” that in the midst of the seventieth weck Christ should be crucified; and consequently the Jewish sacrifices and oblations, which pointed to the sacrifice of Christ, should virtually cease from that moment, when HE, "by one offering should perfect forever them that are sanctified.”
Of course the year 486 would correspond to this expression, and would be “ in the midst of the week," that is, the last of the 70 weeks of years, extending from 483 to 490, dating from the decree of Artaxerxes. I suppose Mr. M. alludes to such as adopt this chronology, when he remarks, (page 72,) " I should not have been thus particular, and have trespassed so much upon your time to prove a given point in Christendom, had I not recently met with more than one Christian professor, and even teachers in Zion, who deny that the seventy weeks ended with the death of Christ.” Mr. M. did not probably know when he wrote this, that the conclusion he deprecates springs from the very
Mr. Miller adopts this date, B. C. 457, from the chronology of the pious and learned John Usher, D. D. It will be perceived, therefore, that notwithstanding he occasionally speaks rather sneeringly of " learned D. D.’s,” he is indebted to those very men for the dates upon which he grounds his calculations.
Taking the year B. C. 457 as the commencement, he accordingly places the completion of the 70 weeks or 490 years, at the crucifixion of Christ, by adding 33, the age of Christ at his crucifixion, to 457; the sum of these two numbers inaking exactly 490. · Mr. M. says the 490 years begin B. C. 457, which is correct. He says they end A. D. 33, which is also correct. But Christ was born four years before the common era, as is now univer: sally admitted. Consequently he was crucified A. D. 29, and this is so stated in Archbishop Usher's chronology. So that only 486 years intervened between the year B. C. 457 and the cru. cifixion.
A. D. 29
486 Mr. Miller might have learnt this faet, which of itself is fatal to his whole theory, by simply subtracting the year of the world 3547, corre
decree, from the year of the world 4033, the date, according to Usher, of the crucifixion.
486 But whether the seventy weeks ended exactly at the crucifixion, or four years after, is a matter of no importance whatever to my argument in confutation of Mr. M.'s theory, as I shall prove that if he is right in supposing 2,300 days in chap, viii. to mean 2,300 years, still he makes a mistake not of three or four years, in dating the commencement of these years, but of nearly three hundred; that is, he dates from B. C. 457, instead of 168, the true date. On the contrary, a miscalculation of four years on Mr. M.'s part, is fatal to his whole system, because it is evident that this completion of the 490 years, precisely, at the death of Christ, is the starting point of all his calculations, and every date which is afterwards assumed as the commencement or the completion of any prophetic period, depends upon the correctness of this one, and is fixed upon by reckoning from the begin. ning or ending of the seventy weeks, and calculating, sometimes forward, and sometimes backward, just as suits his purpose. Hence the importance he attaches in the above extract to the completion of the seventy weeks precisely with the death of Christ, and the manner in which he speaks of those " teachers in Zion," who in this respect differ from himself; not knowing that he himself differs from himself by selecting a date for the commencement of the seventy weeks, which brings the termination four years after the crucifixion. · I confess myself to be one of those who question whether the seventy weeks ended precisely with the death of Christ, but suppose rather that that event took place about four years before the completion of the 490 years: that is, according to the prophecy,“ in the midst of the week," the last of the seventy weeks of years. It is evident that the prophecy, especially the former part of the last verse, “ And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week; and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease,” is capable of a more consistent explanation, by understanding the last week of the seveniy, in which he should “confirm the covenant with many,"to refer to the seven years included in the time of Christ's public ministry, and the first
three or four years of the apostles, during which, - on the day of pentecost, .when 3,000 were added
to the church, and at other times he did truly confirm the covenant with many, and “in the midst," or half part of which week, (as it is in the Hebrew) the Savior was crucified, and thus a virtual end was put to the Jewish system of sacrifices, and he caused “ the sacrifice and oblation to cease." ,
There is one consequence resulting from Mr. M.'s fixing so positively the death of Christ as the completion of the 490 years, of which I suppose he little dreamed, and that is, that the end of the world is past already, and that this event took place in the year 1839! His prophecy of 2,300 years, he says, must be fulfilled 1810 years after the death of Christ, by taking 490 from 2,300. Now any one may see, by looking at. Usher's chronology, given in Bagster's Comprehensive Bible, and also in the Supplement to the Comprehensive Commentary, that the crucifixion took place A. D. 29, the common era having commenced in the fourth year after the birth of Christ. and he being at his crucifixion about 33 years of age. Now if the end of the world is to come 1910 years after the crucifixion in A. D. 29, this will bring us, of course, to A. D. 1839.
For the sake of the argument, however, I shall not insist upon this error in Mr. M.'s starting point, but let it be supposed that the crucifixion occurred A. D. 33, and thus let us meet Mr. M. upon his own ground, while we proceed to examine his explanation of the prophetic period of 2,300 days. Let it, however, be understood, that whenever A. D. 33 is named in this work as the year of the crucifixion, it is only because Mr. M. as. sumes this, not because the present author admits its correctness.