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continue, to exist, for no longer a time". Though the power of princes and of priests over the persons and the consciences of men was to decline at the termination of the 1260 years, and was speedily to fall into a weak and shattered state, it is not therefore to be concluded, that at this epoch their authority was all at once to be overthrown, and their oppressions were to cease in all the streets of the symbolic city. Nothing,' says the bp. of Worcester, has been more censured in protestant divines, than their temerity in fixing the fall of Antichrist; though there are certain data in the prophecies, from which very probable conclusions on that subject may be drawn. Experience, it is said, contradicts this calculation. But it is not considered, that the fall of Antichrist is not a single event, to happen all once; but a state of things, to continue through a long tract of time, and to be gradually accomplished.Suppose the ruin of the Western empire had been the subject of a prediction, and some had collected before hand from the terms of the prophecy, that it would happen at a particular time; when yet nothing more, in fact, came to pass, than the first irruption of the barbarous nations; would it be certain that this collection was groundless and ill made, because the empire subsisted in a good degree of vigor for some centuries after? Might it not be said, that the empire was falling from that æra, or perhaps before; though, in the event, it fell not, till its sovereignty was shaken by the rude hands of Attila, or rather, till it was laid flat by the well-directed force of Theodoric20 ? At the
19 Vol. III. p. 214, 382. See similar observations in the Evid. of Nat. and Rev. Rel. by Dr. Clarke, p. 432.
20 Vol. II. p. 71. And though nothing more came to pass in the year 1789 than the French Revolution; would it be certain that the fall of Antichrist might not be dated from that year, and that such an inference was groundless and ill made, because the antichristian empire subsisted in a good degree of vigor for some years after? Might it not be said, that the empire was falling from that æra, or perhaps before; though, in the event, it fell not, till its sovereignty was shaken by
or rather, till it was laid flat by
Here are chasms in the sentence, which our ignorance of futurity renders necessary, and which must be filled up at a future time.
close of the 1260 years,' says the author of an Essay on the Numbers of Daniel and John, the Beast was to meet with a visible check to his power".' The Beast will not be destroyed, says Durham, at the expiration of the 1260 years; but, to use this early commentator's own words, his power will be clipped, and his authority shaken. The seventh trumpet, says Mr. Whiston, which has the vials for its contents, is not to commence till after the 1260 years are expired; so that the 1260 years bring to a conclusion only the Prevailing Tyranny of the Beast.-But the end or destruction of the Beast himself' will not take place 'till the end of the same trumpet, or the conclusion of the vials23. To the same purpose speaks Dr. More. 'That the reign of the Beast does not end with the sixth trumpet' is, says this learned writer, a thing I do easily grant; but yet in the mean time, I contend that the fulfilling of his 42 months is at the exitus of the sixth trumpet, which respects the duration of the entireness thereof; which entireness was broken at the rising of the witnesses.-Unless the affairs of Europe should break of a sudden, as, Olaus says, the frozen ocean does, and then immediately sinks (which is a miracle above belief), I see no probability at all of any other sense of the stinting the reign of the Beast to 42 months than I have already declared.'
Now some probably may be of opinion, that the affairs of Europe have suddenly broken, and taken a new direc tion; and that a mighty change will be effected in the circumstances of mankind by means of the revolution of France, by the spread of its principles and the progress of its arms. They may also not unreasonably conclude, that, in this quarter of the world, the wheels of the existing fabrics of government, complex as they are in their original construction, injured by the rust of age, often impeded by the collision of jarring interests, and every where clogged
21 Burton's Ess. on the Numbers of Dan. and John, 1766, p. 263. 23 P. 88, 89.
22 P. 553.
24 On the Apoc. p. 263; and Myst. of Iniq. p. 380.
by the interference of superfluous weights, will in a short time be stopped by the obstructions which will be thrown in their way; and that those, who have hitherto regulated their movements, will cease to direct them, or to put in motion those engines of oppression, in the management of which they now discover so much expertness, as they will be driven from their posts, covered with disgrace, and depressed by disappointment. The People, they may expect, will hereafter be the great First Moving Cause that shall actuate the machine of government; and the agents, whom they shall appoint, will determine on the specific mode on which it shall be constructed, and adjust and superintend its several operations, however numerous or complicated.
The change in the political world, already accomplished in France, some perhaps may conceive, is equal in point of greatness, in point of rapidity, in point of benefit, to the most striking change which the natural world can produce. With respect also to some of those lofty edifices of power, which are scattered over the surface of the European continent, it will perhaps be thought, that the rapidity with which these unwieldy fabrics, though they have subsisted during the revolution of centuries, and to the superficial observer appeared possessed of strength which nothing could overpower or shatter, shall sink and break in pieces, in consequence of that alteration of sentiment which shall prevail, and that ardor of patriotism which shall be kindled, may not unaptly be compared to the suddenness, with which a vast sea of ice, that before exhibited a prospect the most dreary and comfortless, is subdued by thaw, and all its different compartments, on the change of weather and the kindly approach of summer, melt and disappear; notwithstanding that sea has been so frozen by a northern winter, as to have lasted a long succession of weeks, and notwithstanding it appeared to the eye of the uninformed, too firm to be broken, and too hard to be dissolved.
I now proceed to take some notice of the numbers which occur in the xiith ch. of Daniel; and as this concluding VOL. II.
chapter of the Hebrew prophet is short and a very remarkable one, I shall embrace this opportunity of quoting the greater part of it, and of introducing a few extracts in illustration of it. 'The prophecies of Daniel,' says Sir I. Newton, are all of them related to one another, as if they were but several parts of one general prophecy, given at several times. In agreement with this remark, it has been concluded, that his predictions in ch. xii. have a relation to what he has elsewhere foretold with respect to the expiring of persecution, the destruction of the antichristian monarchies, and the subsequent reign of genuine Christianity in the world.
In v. 4 it is said, but thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowlege shall be increased. shut up a book,' says Mr. Lowth, and to seal it, is the same with concealing the sense of it,-as hath been observed upon ch. viii. 25. And the same reason is assigned in both places for this command, viz. because there would be a long interval of time between the date of the prophecy, and the final accomplishment of it. But the nearer that time approached, the more light should men have for understanding the prophecy itself; as is implied in the following words. Many shall run to and fro, and knowlege shall be increased. Many shall be inquisitive after truth, and keep correspondence with others for their better information and the gradual completion of this and other prophecies shall direct observing readers to form a judgment concerning those particulars which are yet to be fulfilled.' But the latter words, though they may be admitted to have a peculiar reference to prophetic knowlege, may also be reasonably thought to refer to the augmentation of knowlege in general. But what is the time of the end? In its strict and proper sense, says an intelligent commentator on Daniel, it is that time, wherein the years of Antichrist are finished. Though the nature of the wonders foretold in
this book of prophecy was thus imperfectly revealed to Dar niel, somewhat was communicated to him relative to the period of their accomplishment. For one of the angels of the vision is represented in v. 6 as saying unto another angel, in the presence of Daniel, and for his information, how long shall it be to the end of these wonders? And, says Daniel (v. 7-12), 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, that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished. And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand: but the wise shall understand. And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.
The period here specified by Daniel, a time, times, and an half, signifies, says Mede, the 1260 years during which the ten-horned Beast was to reign". The extract which follows is from the paraphrase of Dr. Wells. And I heard the angel swear by Him, that lives for ever and ever, that it shall be for a time, times, and an half of time, i. e. the said wonderful things are not to be accomplished, till the expiration or end of that portion of time of the Fourth Kingdom, during which (according to what was made known unto Daniel in a former vision, viz. ch. vii. 25) the little horn shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and they shall be given into his hand.' As the words, repeatedly employed by Daniel in ch. vii. the saints of the Most High,
27 P. 885.