« הקודםהמשך »
that the ten-horned Beast was slain, he adds of those other emblematic Beasts (v. 12), yet THEIR lives were prolonged for a season and time. Does not this clause plainly enough intimate, that, after the arbitrary43 monarchies of Europe shall have been obliterated, the despotic governments of Asia and of Africa, though their existence will indeed be prolonged for a time, yet that they also will, at length, most assuredly fall? And does not reason herself teach us, that this will probably happen? Is it not to be expected, that political Liberty will be progressive in its course ; and that it will flourish on the continent, and among the islands, of Europe, before it is transplanted into the warmer climes of the old world, which are less favorable to its growth?
Though North America stands at such a distance from the European continent, and consequently the changes which happen there must have a very diminished influence on this quarter of the globe; though it has gained far less by its revolution than almost any nation on that continent would have done, because it never bowed its neck under the yoke of despotism, or an accumulation of taxes, and never did an expensive court annoy its provinces, to serve as a rallying point to vice and corruption, and a center from which they might copiously flow; it nevertheless powerfully encouraged the authors of the French Revolution during its commencement and prosecution, and threw a strong ray of light on the measures they were to adopt, and the principles they were to consecrate. As soon as France then, a nation of such populousness, ingenuity, and distinguished attainments, seated as it is in the very center of Europe, and possessing a language so generally studied, shall completely have baffled the efforts of the confederated princes ; and, restored to internal order, shall begin to reap, in a season of tranquillity, those golden fruits, which are the natural growth of an equal government, representative in its construction, and founded on the rights of man ; is it not to be expected, that its example will prove irresistable, and that in no long time it will be followed by the more enlightened of the European nations ? The probability of events following each other in this train, statesmen and princes have not failed to discern and to dread; and they act accordingly.
43 I confess, that if I followed the commentators, I should not restrict this destruction of monarchies to those which are arbitrary, but should say the monarchies in general seated in that part of the world of which the prophet speaks. On this point the reader must judge for himself.
That the antichristian monarchies and aristocracies of the worid may be demolished, reason instructs us to hope, as well on account of the oppressor as the oppressed. To raise men to a giddy height of unjust power and unmerited titular distinction, is to expose them to a series of moral dangers, of the most serious kind, and which they cannot reasonably be expected to surmount. Perceiving that their vanity will be indulged, their wants supplied, their desires anticipated, without exertion, without knowlege, without virtue ; they commonly slide insensibly into the ignominious lap of indolence; and, dissipating their time in the company of the profligate, and in an insipid routine of amusements, yield themselves up to the tyranny of passions, alike injurious to society and to the individual. This subject has almost always been considered in much too narrow a point of view. That this is only the commencing stage of our existence is a truth which ought permanently to impress our minds. It ought therefore to be an anxious subject of our enquiry, what is the state of society, and what is the species of government, which is best adapted, by its influence on morals, to fit and prepare men for a future world. Now those existing governments, which are founded on oppression, and trample on the rights of man, are so fatally operative in the extinction of light and virtue, that they are decidedly calculated to disqualify men for a state of future existence. Indeed when we advert to the general condition of mankind, distributed as they are, into those who tyrannise, and those who are the objects of tyranny ; when we reflect, that a numerous and distinct class of vices are the natural growth of each of these situations; when we thence
collect, that the great mass of human-kind appear, in consequence of this, in a great degree to be incapacitated for the elevated employments of heaven and the purity of its pleasures, the overthrow of all such governments cannot but strike the mind, as having a degree of importance, which it is not in the power of language to express, or of the human understanding to calculate. Hence also it appears (and it is an awful consideration), that he who is instrumental in perpetuating a corrupt and wicked government, is also instrumental in unfitting his fellow-men for the feli. city of the celestial mansions, and in perhaps occasioning them to occupy, through all the successive stages of their future existence, a lower rank than that to which they would otherwise have attained.
ON THE NUMBERS WHICH OCCUR IN DANIEL AND ST. JOHN.
IN a work like the present it would probably be thought by many a material omission, were no notice to be taken of the numbers which are found in Daniel and St. John. By the former of these inspired writers we are told, that the little horn shall continue in power for a time, and times, and the dividing of time', The latter, speaking of the Gentiles, or spurious Christians, says (xi. 2), the Holy City shall they tread under foot 42 months; and in the following verse, that the two witnesses shall prophecy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. In describing the ten-horned Beast, he says (xiii. 5), that power was given unto him to continue 42 months. In the 14th v. of the xiith ch. the true church of Christ is
1 VII. 25. • Among the old prophets, Daniel is most distinct in order of time, and easiest to be understood.' Sir I. Newton's Obser. on Dan.
sented in a forlorn and persecuted state, under the emblem of a woman flying into the wilderness, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time; and in v. 6 is said to continue there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
• Now all these numbers, says bp. Newton, you will find upon computation to be the same, and each of them to signify 1260 years. Forma time all agree, signifies a. year?, -and a time, and times, and the dividing of time, or half a time, are 3 years and a half, and 3 years and a half are 42 months, and 42 months are 1260 days, and 1260 days in the prophetic style are 1260 years. From all these dates and characters it may fairly be concluded, that the time of the church's great affliction, and of the reign of Antichrist, will be a period of 1260 years3.'
That these are definite numbers, says Mede, is unquestionable. The scriptures,' he observes, use no numbers indefinitely but such as the use of speech in the language of the people had made such.' And compound numbers are never taken indefinitely, either in Latin, Greek, or Hebrew: compound numbers, I mean those which are compounded of units, tens and hundreds, &c. those which are of heterogeneal parts ; such as 42, the number of months in the Apocalypse ; 1260, the number of days; three times and a half, which is a number of a fraction.' Among the other circumstances, says this distinguished commentator, which render it evident, that days are to be taken for years, and months for months of years, is this: the events described by the prophet are far too numerous, too important, and require far too long a period, to suffer us to suppose, that they can be accomplished within the narrow limits of three
2 • By a time, it is agreed by interpreters, is meant a year, by way of excellence, as a period the most distinguished.' Wintle on Dan. vii. 25. Thus when Daniel says of Nebuchadnezzar (iv. 16), let his heart be changed from man’s, and let a beast's heart be given unto him: and let seven times pass over him; the seven times signify seven years.
3 Vol. I. p. 488 ; vol. III. p. 380. 4 P. 741.
single years and a halfs. To prove that the substitution of a day for a year was consonant to the language of the ancient Hebrew prophets, a passage from Ezekiel may be appealed to, where he says“, thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: and I have appointed thee each day for a year. In that other famous prophecy of Daniel, that of the 70 weeks or 490 days, they are, says the learned Dr. Cressenery, taken for so many years by almost the unanimous consent of all interpreters.' "Since we can,' says the excellent Mr. Whiston, in this prophecy of the Seventy Weeks positively appeal to the event on our side, and allege the exact fulfilling of the ancient prophecies in this sense of days for years ;—there can remain no reasonable doubt in the case8.'
With respect to the time, when the 1260 years com. menced, and consequently when they shall terminate, I venture to advance nothing of my own, nor place my confidence in the calculations of others. But as some of my readers will be likely to enquire, whether no dates, apparently in unison with fact and probability, have been assigned for the commencement and for the conclusion of the 1260 years; and as I am unwilling altogether to disappoint them, and to leave those who have not before made any enquiries on the subject totally uninformed upon it, I shall state the two æras, which have been specified by Mr. Bi. cheno, the writer of a sensible pamphlet before referred to ; and shall allege some of the reasons which may be advanced in favor of them. To prepare the
the reader for what follows, a short quotation from Mr. Whiston shall, however, be previously given. At the expiration of the 1260 years there is to be a Great
5 P. 742, 743. See another reason in p. 131. 6 IV. 6. 7 Dem. of the Prot. Appl. of the Apoc. 170.
8 P. 17. • The way of counting by weeks of years seems,' says bp. Chandler, (Def. of Chr. p. 112), to have been used by the ancients. Varro, at the time of writing his book inscribed Hebdomades, saith, he was entered in the 12th week of (his) years, i. e. his 78th year. Aul. Gell. Noct. Att. ii. 10.