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upon the scene, as well as it had previously been described by the prophet, in other visions. The international alliances and conflicts between the kings of the north and of the south, chiefly as affecting the interests of the Jews, having been minutely detailed with more than historical fulness and precision,* the prophet records the more destructive domination that was subsequently to prevail over the east, and to become the instrument, when the measure of their iniquities was full, and when the appointed time was come, to break the Jewish polity to pieces, to desecrate and destroy their temple, and to lay their land desolate.
And arms shall stand on his part, (or shall stand up after him,) and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate. Ver. 31. The term, translated arms, denotes the arms of the human body, not armour, and is derived from a verb which signifies to spread abroad. The fourth kingdom was to subdue all the rest: Macedon had been subdued before it, and its wide extended influence was spread abroad, and reached from a distance to Syria and Egypt. The identical word,--shall stand up—which marked the rise of the Macedonian empire, and of successive potentates, is repeated for the last time, to denote the establishment of the Roman authority, at the appointed time, in the east. Rome, whether republican, imperial, or papal, was henceforth, without the intervention or succession of any new and universal monarchy, (for none else are said to stand up after this period till the final restoration of the Jews,) to connect and to complete, in its aggrandizement, its acts, authority, government, decline and fall, the whole series of historical events, from the days of Antiochus Epiphanes, their great oppressor, to the final restoration of the Jews.
* No one historian hath related so many circumstances, and in such exact order of time, as the prophet hath foretold them.Bishop Newton.
The angel was to declare unto the prophet what should befall his people in the latter days, for the vision was for many days. And the blank in the scriptural record of the history of the Jews and of the world, from the era of the Babylonish captivity to the time of the Romans, having been filled up by a prophetic historical narration concerning the kingdoms which alternately held .Judea in their possession, the angel then made known to Daniel the things which should befall the Jews, on the dissolution of their state by the Romans. It is known to all that they polluted the sanctuary of strength, took away the daily sacrifice, and placed the abomination that maketh desolate. Pompey entered the holy of holies; the idolatrous Roman ensigns were spread over Judea; the temple was rooted up, and not one stone was left upon another; and on its site a temple was afterwards erected to Jupiter Capitolinus. By the massacre of myriads of Jews, and the expulsion of all their race from the land of Judea, the daily sacrifice, which could be offered up only there, was taken away; Judaism was overthrown; and the abomination of desolation, concerning which Christ warned the Jews AS SPOKEN OF BY DANIEL THE PROPHET, was set up, and became a signal for the Christians to flee from Jerusalem; and the judge ment of God, by the instrumentality of the Romans, fell upon that wicked, impenitent, and therefore devoted city ; and when they would not hear the messenger of the Lord, the land, as the last word of the law and prophets told, was smitten with a curse.
And such as do wickedly against the covenant, shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits, and they that understand among the people shall instruct many ; yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity and spoil many days. Ver. 32, 33. Conjoined with the subversion of Judaism is the announcement of insidious and successful attempts to cause some to apostatize from the faith ;-of the propagation of the knowledge of God by men strengthened for that purpose, and doing exploits to accomplish it,—of the great success of their teaching,—and of the severity, variety, and long continuance of their sufferings. The abolition of the old covenant was accompanied by the wider promulgation of the new. The Romans exercised their ingenuity and their power to suppress, in its origin, a holy religion; and tried to gain over both Jews and Christians to pagan idolatry. It is recorded by heathens, admitted by unbelievers, and complained of by Christians, that, whether won by flattery or awed by threats, “ some who said that they had been Christians denied it again : and worshipped the image of the Roman emperor and the images of the gods."* It is universally known, that at that very period the purest faith on earth was first taught to man in the land of Judea ; and that the only true spiritual light on earth emanated from that country at that time. It was the age of miracles and of light. The people that knew their God, or they that
of Pliny's Letter to Trajan, ep. 97.
understood among the people, the converted Jews, both did exploits and instructed many. Pagans believed in all or in any gods but the only living and true God. And the propagation of religious knowledge, in a manner previously unknown to paganism, was followed by persecution for conscience sake; and when flattery failed, when incentives to vice did not prevail over Christian steadfastness and virtue, the worshippers of lords many and of gods many persecuted to the death those who knew their God, and instructed many in turning them from the darkness of paganism to the light of the gospel. The champions of the cross assailed heathenism with no other weapon than the sword of the spirit, and their sufferings and death promoted the triumph of their cause. They were opposed by all the weapons of an unholy warfare; every mode of punishment was put in action, and every engine of cruelty was set at work against them. In the persecution under Nero, about thirty years after the death of Christ, “they were put to death,” according to the description of Tacitus, “ with exquisite cruelty ; and to their sufferings Nero added mockery and derision. Some were covered with the skins of wild beasts, and left to be devoured by dogs; others were nailed to the cross ; numbers were burnt alive ; and many covered with inflammable matter, (ftame) were lighted up, when the day declined, to serve as torches during the night."* During ten successive persecutions they were subjected to the greatest barbarities. “ The first three or four ages of the church were stained with the blood. of martyrs, who suffered for the name of Jesus. The greatness of their number is acknowledged by all who have a competent acquaintance with ancicnt history, and who have examined that
matter with any degree of impartiality. The learned and eloquent, the doctors and ministers, and chiefly the rich, after the confiscation of whose fortunes a rapacious magistracy were perpetually gaping, were the persons the most exposed to the dangers of the times.* Diocletian ordered all the bishops and ministers of the Christian church to be “cast into prison," and issuing edicts still more cruel, “it was ordered that all sorts of torments should be employed, and the most insupportable punishments invented, to force these venerable captives to renounce their profession, by sacrificing to the heathen gods; for it was hoped, that if the bishops and doctors of the church could be brought to yield, their respective flocks would be easily induced to follow their example. An immense number of persons, illustriously distinguished by their piety and learning, became the victims of this cruel stratagem, throughout the whole Roman empire, Gaul excepted, which was under the mild and equitable dominion of Constantius Chlorus. Some were punished in such a manner as the rules of decency oblige us to pass in silence; some were put to death, after having had their constàncy tried by tedious and inexpressible torments; and some were sent to the mines to draw out the remains of a miserable life in poverty and bondage. By a fourth edict, the magistrates were ordered and commissioned to force all Christians, without distinction of rank or sex, to sacrifice to the gods, and were authorized to employ all sorts of torments, in order to drive them to this act of apostacy. The diligence and zeal of the Roman magistrates, in the execution of this inhuinan edict, had like to have proved fatal to the Christian cause.”+ Thus, by adopting the language
* Mosheim's Eccles. Hist. book i. c. 5, $11. Mosheim's Eccles. Hist. book ii. c. 1, sect. 3.