Page images

very narrow compass. There were numerous writers of the life and actions of Alexander, who were his companions in the wars, or lived in or near his time, as Ptolemy, Aristobulus, and others: but none of their writings have been transmitted down to us; they have all been swallowed up in the gulph between that time and this; and who can be certain that some of them did not record this transaction? It must have been mentioned by some ancient historian; for we see that Justin, in a short abridgment of history, is thought to have alluded to it; and some other author might have related it at large in all its circumstances. The most copious writers now extant of Alexander's affairs, are Diodorus Siculus, Quintus Curtius, Arrian, and Plutarch; but the eldest of these lived some centuries after Alexander, so that they must have transcribed from former historians: and they have transcribed variously, as suited their particular purpose; what one hath inserted, another hath omitted; and not two of them have related things exactly alike. There are actions and sayings of Alexander, which are` omitted by them all, but yet are preserved by other authors: and no won der then, that, with the common prejudice of Greeks and Romans, they should omit some particulars of so remote and so disagreeable a people as the Jews. The affairs of each province are best re lated by the writers of each province. A Jew was most likely to record the particulars concerning the Jews. And Josephus, though he may have been thought credulous in some respects, yet was never charged with forging of history. His credit as an historian, will upon examination, be found equal almost to the very best. Joseph Scaliger, who was an exceeding good judge in matters of this nature, giveth him the character of "a most faithful, a most diligent, and a most learned writer;" "of whom (saith he) we may boldly affirm, that not only in Jewish, but likewise in foreign affairs, we may more safely rely on his credit, than on all the Greek and Latin historians together."*

There remains, then, no difficulty that can really stick with us, unless it be the particular interposition of God in this affair, and the prophetic dreams of Alexander and the high-priest. These things, it must be confessed, are wonderful: but if we recollect the miraculous interpositions of God in favour of his people; if we reflect what a particular providence attended Alexander, and con

* Josephus, fidissimus, diligentissimus, et eruditissimus scripter.-Scal. in Notis ad Fragmenta Græc. p 45. De Josepho nos hoc audacter dicimus, non solum in rebus Judaïcis, sed etiam in externis tutius illi credi, quam omnibus Græcis et Latinis. -Ibid. in Prolegom. de Emendatione Temporum, p. 17. (Translated in the text.]

ducted him to conquest and empire; if we consider the clear and express prophecies concerning him: these things, though wonderful, may yet easily be reconciled to our belief, and will appear perfectly consistent with the other dispensations of divine providence, Admitting the truth of the prophecies, we cannot think these extraordinary circumstances at all incredible. These extraordinary circumstances are alleged, to confirm the prophecies; and if the prophecies be found mutually to confirm these extraordinary circumstances, this is so far from weakening, that it strengthens the argument. Indeed, without the supposition of the truth of these circumstances, it will be extremely difficult to account for Alexander's granting so many privileges and favours to the Jews. He allowed them the free exercise of their religion;* he exempted their land from tribute every seventh, or the sabbatical year; he settled many of them at Alexandria, with privileges and immunities equal to those of the Macedonians themselves; and when the Samaritans had revolted, and murdered the governor whom he had set over them, he assigned their country to the Jews, and exempted it in the same manner as Judea from tribute, as Josephus hath proved from Alexander's own letters, and from the testimony of Hecatæus, a heathen historian.+ But what were the merits and services of the Jews, that they should be so favoured and distinguished above other people? There is no way of accounting for it so probable, as by admitting the truth of this relation. With this, all appears natural and easy, and is utterly inexplicable without it.

But to return from this digression, if it may be called a digression to consider a point of history, that is so nearly related to our subject. Nothing is fixed and stable in human affairs: and the empire of the goat, though exceeding great, was perhaps for that reason the sooner broken into pieces. Therefore the he-goat waxed very great, and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and for it, came up four notable ones, towards the four winds of heaven,'-ver. 8: which the angel thus interprets, 'Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power,'-ver. 22. The empire of the goat was in its full strength, when Alexander died of a fever at Babylon. He was succeeded in the throne by his natural brother, Philip Aridæus, and by his own two sons, Alexander Ægus and Hercules: but in the space of about fifteen years they

* Joseph. Antiq. lib. 11, cap. 8, sect. 5, p. 504, edit. Hudson. Joseph. contra. Apion lib. 2, sect. 4, p. 1364, 1365, edit. Hudson.

were all murdered,* and then the first horn, or kingdom was entirely broken. The royal family being thus extinct, the governors of provinces, who had usurped the power, assumed the title of kings and by the defeat and death of Antigonus in the battle of Ipsus, they were reduced to four, Cassander, Lysimachus, Ptolemy and Seleucus, who parted Alexander's dominions between them, and divided and settled them into four kingdoms. These four kingdoms are the 'four notable horns,' which came up in the room of the first great horn; and are the same as the 'four heads of the . leopard' in the former vision. Four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power;' they were to be kingdoms of Greeks, not of Alexander's own family, but only of his nation; and neither were they to be equal to him in power and dominion, as an empire united is certainly more powerful than the same empire divided, and the whole is greater than any of the parts. They were likewise to extend towards the four winds of heaven:' and in the partition of the empire, Cassander held Macedon, and Greece, and the western parts; Lysimachus had Thrace, Bithynia, and the northern regions; Ptolemy possessed Egypt, and the southern countries; and Seleucus obtained Syria, and the eastern provinces.§ Thus were they divided' toward the four winds of heaven.'

As in the former vision a little horn sprang up among the ten horns of the Roman empire, so here a little horn is described as rising among the four horns of the Grecian empire: And out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant lana And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven, and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. Yea, he magnified himself, even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice, by reason of transgression; and it cast down the

* See Usher, Prideaux, and the Chronologers.

+ Diod. Sic. lib. 20.—Hujus honoris ornamentis tamdiu omnes abstinuerunt, quamdiu flii regis sui superesse potuerunt. [They all abstained from adopting the insignia of oyalty as long as any of their king's sons survived.] Tanta in illis verecundia fuit, ut cum opes regias haberent, regum tamen nominibus æquo animo caruerint, quoad Alexandro justus hæres fuit.—Justin. lib. 15, cap. 2. [Such was their modesty, that, though they held the regal power, they had the moderation to forbear the title, as long as there was a lawful heir to Alexander.]

+ Diod. Sic. lib. 20. Polyb. lib. 5, p. 410, edit. Casaubon. Plutarch in Demetrio. § Diod. Sic. ibid. Prid. Connect. part 1, b. 8, anno 301. Ptolemy Soter, 4.

truth to the ground, and it practised and prospered,'-ver. 9, 10, 11, 12. All which is thus explained by the angel: 'And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy pecple. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prospe in his hand, and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the prince of princes, but he shall be broken without hand,'—ver. 23, 24, 25. This, 'little horn' is by the generality of interpreters, both Jewish and Christian, ancient and modern, supposed to mean Antiochus Epiphanes, king of Syria, who was a great enemy and cruel perse cutor of the Jews. So Josephus understands the prophecy, and says, that "our nation suffered these calamities under Antiochus Epiphanes, as Daniel saw, and many years before wrote what things should come to pass."* In like manner St. Jerome explains it of Antiochus Epiphanes, and says, "that he fought against Ptolemy Philometor and the Egyptians, that is, 'against the south;' and again against the east,' and those who attempted a change of government in Persia; and lastly, he fought against the Jews, took Judea, entered into Jerusalem, and in the temple of God set up the image of Jupiter Olympius."+ With St. Jerome agree most of the ancient fathers, and modern divines and commentators; but then they all allow that Antiochus Epiphanes was a type of Antichrist. Antiochus Epiphanes at first sight doth indeed, in some features, very much resemble the little horn;' but upon a nearer view and examination, it will evidently appear, that in other parts there is no manner of similitude or correspondence between them. Sir Isaac Newton, with that sagacity which was peculiar to him, and with which he penetrated into scripture as well as into nature,


✦ Joseph. Antiq. lib. 10, cap. 11, sect. 7. Και δη ταύτα ήμων συνεβη τω έθνοι παθειν τ' ̓Αντιοχε το Επιφανος, καθως εἶδεν ὁ Δανιηλος, και πολλοις ἔτεσιν ἔμπροσθεν ἀνέγραψε τα ανησομενα.. Et sane factum est ut hæc ipsa sub Antiocho Epiphane gens nostra dateretur, prout viderat Danielus, et multis ante annis quæ ventura erant scriptis manaverat.-P. 466, edit. Hudson. [Translated in the text.]

+ Contra Ptolemæum Philometorem dimicavit, hoc est, 'contra meridiem,' et contra Egyptios. Rursumque,' ad orientem,' et contra eos qui res novas in Perside moliebantur ad extremum contra Judæos dimicans, captâ Judæâ, ingressus est Jerosolymam: et in templo Dei simulacrum Jovis Olympii statuit.—Hieron. in Dav cap. 8, col. 1105, edit Benedict [Translated in the text.]

perceived plainly that the 'little horn' could not be drawn for An tiochus Epiphanes, but must be designed for some other subject; * and though we shall not entirely follow his plan, nor build altogether upon his foundation, yet we shall be obliged to make use of several of his materials. There are, then, two ways of expounding this prophecy of the little horn:' either by understanding it of Antiochus Epiphanes, and considering Antiochus as a type of Antichrist; or by leaving him wholly out of the question, and seeking another application and which method of the two is to be preferred, will better appear in the progress of this discourse.



A 'horn' in the style of Daniel doth not signify any particular king, but is an emblem of a kingdom. kingdom. In the former vision the 'ten horns' were not ten kings, but so many kingdoms, into which the Roman empire was divided: and the little horn' did not typify a single person, but a succession of men, claiming such prerogatives, and exerting such powers, as are there specified. In this vision likewise the two horns' of the ram do not represent the two kings, Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian, but the two kingdoms of Media and Persia: and for this plain reason, because the ram hath all along two horns; even when he is attacked by the he-goat, he hath still two horns; but the two kingdoms of Media and Persia had been long united under one king. The horns of the he-goat too prefigure not kings, but kingdoms. The first 'great horn' doth not design Alexander himself, but the kingdom of Alexander, as long as the title continued united in him, and his brother, and two sons. The four horns,' which arose after the first was broken, are expressly said, ver. 22, to be four kingdoms:' and consequently it should seem, that the 'little horn' cannot signify Antiochus Epiphanes or any single king, but must denote some kingdom: by 'kingdom' meaning, what the ancients meant, any government, state, or polity in the world, whether monarchy, or republic, or of what form soever. Now what kingdom was there, that rose up during the subsistence of the four kingdoms of the Grecian empire, and was advanced to any greatness and eminence, but the Roman? The first great horn' was the kingdom of Alexander and his family. The four horns' were four kingdoms,' not of his family, but only of the nation. Four kingdoms shall stand up out of the



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

* Sir Isaac Newton's Observations on Daniel, chap 9.

+ See this point proved from heathen authors as well as from scripture in the begin ning of Mr. Mede's tract, entitled 'Regnum Romanum est regnum quartum Danielis.'—Mede's Works, b. 3, 4. 711.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »