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death; and thenceforward the land remained desolate of its old inhabitants." In support of this interpretation, it may be farther added, that "the Jews themselves," as Jerome informs us, "understood this passage neither of Antiochus Epiphanes, nor of Antichrist, but of the Romans, of whom it was said above that the ships of Chittim shall come, and he shall be grieved.' After some time, says the prophet, out of the Romans themselves, who came to assist Ptolemy, and menaced Antiochus, there shall arise the emperor Vespasian, there shall arise his arms and seed, his son Titus with an army; and they shall pollute the sanctuary, and take away the daily sacrifice, and deliver the temple to eternal desolation."* Mr. Mede too assigns the same reason for the prophet's passing from Antiochus Epiphanes to the Romans. "We must know," says he, "that after the death of Antiochus Epiphanes, the third kingdom comes no more in the holy reckoning, none of the Greek kings after him being at all prophesied of; yea Daniel himself calling the time of Antiochus his reign the latter end of the Greek kingdom,'-viii. 23. The reason of this is, because during the reign of Antiochus, Macedonia (whence that kingdom sprung,) with all the rest of Greece came under the Roman obedience. From thence, therefore, the Holy Ghost begins the rise of the fourth kingdom, yea the Roman historians themselves mark out that time for the
* Judæi autem hoc nec de Antiocho Epiphane, nec de Antichristo, sed de Romanis intelligi volunt, de quibus supra dictum est, et venient trieres, sive Itali atque Romani, et humiliabitur. Post multa, inquit, tempora de ipsis Romanis, qui Ptolemæo venere auxilio, et Antiocho comminati sunt, consurget rex Vespasianus, surgent brachia ejus et semina, Titus filius cum exercitu; et polluent sanctuarium auferentque juge sacrificium, et templum tradent æternæ solitudini. [Translated in the text.] Hieron. ibid.
+ Mede's Works, book 4, epist. 41, p. 797; See too Book 3, p. 667, 672; Lucius Florus, lib. 2, cap. 7, Cedente Hannibale præmium victoria Africa fuit, et secutus Africam terrarum orbis. Post Carthaginem vinci neminem puduit: secutæ sunt statim Africam gentes, Macedonia, Græcia, Syria cæteraque omnia, quodam quasi æstu et torrente fortunæ : sed primi omnium Macedones, affectator quondam imperii populus.— Hannibal being worsted, Africa became the reward of the victory, and after Africa the whole world also. None thought it a shame to be overcome after Carthage was. Macedonia, Greece, Syria, and all other nations, as if carried with a certain current and torrent of fortune, did soon follow Africa, but the first who followed were the Macedonians, a people that sometimes affected the empire of the world. In Velleius Paterculus, lib. 1, cap. 6, is an annotation out of one Æmilius Sura, in these words: Assyrii principes omnium gentium rerum potiti sunt, deinde Medi, postea Persa, deinde Macedones exinde duobus regibus, Philippo et Antiocho, quia Macedonibus oriundi erant, haud multo post Carthaginem subactam, devictis, summa imperii ad populum Romanum pervenit.-The Assyrians had the sovereign dominion the first of all nations, then the Medes and Persians; after them the Macedonians; afterwards those two kings Philip and Antiochus, being overcome that and a little after that Carthage was subdued, the imperial power came to the Romans.
rise of their empire." And for this purpose he alleges two quotations from Lucius Florus, and Velleius Paterculus. Our Saviour himself, making use of this same phrase, the abomination of desolation,' in his prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem, may convince us that this part of the prophecy refers to that event.
What follows can be but in part applied to the times of Antiochus Epiphanes. 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 by spoil many days,'—ver. 32, 33. If it may be said of Antiochus, that he 'corrupted many by flatteries,' by rewards and promises, to forsake the holy covenant, and to conform to the religion of the Greeks; but the people who knew their God,' the Maccabees and their associates, were strong, and did exploits :' Yet it cannot so properly be said of the Maccabees, or any of the devout Jews of their time, that they did instruct many,' and make many proselytes to their religion; neither did the persecution, which Antiochus raised against the Jews, continue many days,' or years according to the prophetic style, for it lasted only a few years. All these things are much more truly applicable to the Christian Jews: for now the daily sacrifice was taken away, the temple was given to desolation, and the Christian church had succeeded in the place of the Jewish, the new covenant in the room of the old. 'And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall be corrupt by flatteries;''He,' that is, the power before de scribed, who took away the daily sacrifice, and placed the abomination of desolation;' nor is such a change of number unfrequent in the Hebrew language. "There are some," saith an old commentator, "who think that the prophet here had respect to the Christians, whom the wicked idolaters endeavoured from the beginning of the rising church to seduce by flatteries: but the persecution of tyrants raged chiefly against the apostles and holy teachers."* The Roman magistrates and officers, it is very well known, made use of the most alluring promises, as well as of the most terrible threatenings, to prevail upon the primitive Christians to renounce their religion, and offer incense to the statues of the emperors and
• Sunt qui putent hic prophetam aspicere ad Christianos, quos impii idolatræ conatı fuerunt ab initio nascentia ecclesiæ seducere blanditiis. Potissimè autem sævi tyrannorum persecutio in apostolos et sanctos doctores. [Translated in the text.] Clarics in locum.
images of the gods. Many were induced to comply with the temptation, and apostatized from the faith, as we learn particularly from the famous epistle of Pliny to Trajan:* but the true Christians, 'the people who knew their God, were strong,' remained firm to their religion, and gave the most illustrious proofs of the most he roic patience and fortitude. It may too with the strictest truth and propriety be said of the primitive Christians, that being dispersed every where, and preaching the gospel in all the parts of the Roman empire, they instructed many,' and gained a great number of proselytes to their religion;' yet they fell by the sword,' and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil many days;' for they were exposed to the malice and fury of ten general persecutions, and suffered all manner of injuries, afflictions, and tortures with little intermission for the space of three hundred years.
After these violent persecutions the church obtained some rest and relaxation. Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help; but many shall cleave to them with flatteries. And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end; because it is yet for a time appointed,'-ver. 34, 35. Here Porphyry hath many followers, besides Grotius; and he supposeth that by "the little help' was meant Mattathias of Modin, who rebelled against the generals of Antiochus, and endeavoured to preserve the worship of the true God. It is called a little help,' saith he, because Mattathias was slain in battle; and afterwards his son Judas, who was called Maccabeus, fell in fight; and his other brethren were deceived by the fraud of their adversaries." But this is not an exact or just representation of the case. Mattathias was not slain in battle, but died of old age. His son Judas Maccabæus several times vanquished the generals of Antiochus, recovered the holy city, cleansed the sanctuary, restored the public worship of God, and not only survived Antiochus some years, but also received the good news of the dethroning and murdering of his son. His brother Jonathan was made high-priest, and his brother Simon sovereign prince of the
* Plinii Epist. lib. 10, ep. 97.
† Parvulum auxilium, Mattathiam significari arbitratur Porphyrius de vico Modin ; qui adversum duces Antiochi rebellavit, et cultum veri Dei servare conatus est. Parvum autem, inquit, auxilium vocat, quia occisos est in prælio Mattathias; et postea Judas filius ejus, qui vocabatur Maccabæus, pugnans cecidit; et cæteri fratres ejus adversariorum fraude decepti sunt. [Translated in the text.] Hieron. col. 1130.
For these particulars, the two books of Maccabees, Josephus, Usher, Prideaux, &c must be consulted.
Jews; and both these dignities, the high-priesthood and the sovereignty, descended to Simon's son, and continued united in the family fo. several generations. That therefore could not be deemed 'a ittle help,' which prevailed and triumphed over all the power and malice of the enemy, and established the Jewish religion and government upon a firmer basis than before; so far were they from falling again into a state of persecution, as the next verse intimates that they should. It may be concluded then, that Porphyry was mistaken in the sense of this passage. The Jewish doctors seem to have come nearer the mark: for "some of them," as Jerome affirms, "understood these things of the emperor Severus and Antoninus, who much loved the Jews; and others; of the emperor Julian, who pretended to love the Jews, and promised to sacrifice in their temple."* But the most natural way of interpretation is to follow the course and series of events. The church had now laboured under long and severe persecutions from the civil power. They had fallen by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil many days.' The tenth and last general persecution was begun by Dioclesian: it raged, though not at all times equally, ten years; and was suppressed entirely by Constantine, the first Roman emperor, as it is universally known, who made open profession of Christianity; and then the church was no longer persecuted, but was protected and favoured by the civil power. But still this is called only a little help;' because though it added much to the temporal prosperity, yet it contributed little to the spiritual graces and virtues of Christians. It enlarged their revenues, and increased their endowments: but proved the fatal means of corrupting the doctrine, and relaxing the discipline of the church. It was attended with this peculiar disadvantage, that 'many clave to them with flatteries.' Many became Christians for the sake of the loaves and the fishes, and pretended to be of the religion, only because it was the religion of the emperor. Eusebius, who was a contemporary writer, reckons that one of the reigning vices of the time was "the dissimulation and hypocrisy of men fraudulently entering into the church, and borrowing the name of Christians without the reality."+ Julian
* Hebræorum quidam hæc de Severo et Antonino principibus intelligunt, qui. Judæos plurimum dilexerunt. Alii vero de Juliano imperatore :-Judæos amare se simulans, et in templo eorum immolaturum se esse promittens. [Translated in the text. Hieron. ibid.
+ Eusebii Eccles. Hist. lib. 8, cap. 2 et 15, &c. Lactant. de Mort. Persecut. cap. 12 et 48. Sic ab eversa ecclesia usque ad restitutam fuerunt anni decem, &c. [Thus, from the overthrow of the church to its restoration, elapsed ten years, &c.]
-'Ειρωνείαν τ' άλεκτον των την ἐκκλησίαν ὑποδυομένων, και το χριςιανών έπιπλαςω
himself, as a heathen historian relates, that " he might allure the Christians to favor him, publicly professed the faith, from. which he had long ago privately revolted; and even went to church, and joined with them in the most solemn office; of religion."* He did more; his dissimulation carried him so far as to become an ecclesiastic in lower orders, or a reader in the church.+ Moreover, this is also called 'a hittle help,' because the temporal peace and prosperity of the church asted but a little while. The spirit of persecution presently revived; and no sooner were the Christians delivered from the fury of their heathen adversaries, than they began to quarrel among themselves, and to persecute one another. The Consubstantialists, even in the time of Constantine, led the way by excommunicating and banishing the Arians. The latter, under the favor of Constantius and Valens, more than retorted the injury, and were guilty of many horrible outrages and cruelties towards the former. Such more or less have been the fate and condition of the church ever since; and generally speaking, those of understanding have fallen' a sacrifice to others, some of the best and wisest men to some of the worst and most ignorant. At least, if the persecuted have not been always in the right, yet the persecutors have been always in the wrong. These calamities were to befall the Christians, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white,' not only at that time, but 'even to the time of the end, because it is yet for a time appointed:' And we see even at this day, not to allege other instances, how the poor protestants are persecuted, plundered, and murdered in the southern parts of France.
The principal source of these persecutions is traced out in the following verses. And the king (who shall cause these persecutions) shall do according to his will, and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things
σχηματιζόμενων ὀνομα.—et fraudulentam simulationem eorum qui callide in ecclesiam irrepebant, et Christianorum nomen falso ac specie tenus præferebant. [Translated in the text.] Euseb. de vita Const. lib. 4, cap. 54.
* Utque omnes, nullo impediente, ad sui favorem illiceret, adhærere cultui Christiano fingebat, a quo jampridem occulte desciverat-Et-progressus in eorum ecclesiam, solemniter numine orato discessit. [Translated in the text.] Ammian. Marcell. lib. 21, cap. 2, p. 266, edit. Valesii, Paris. 1681.
Theodoret Eccles. Hist. lib. 3, cap. 1.—Kas To Twv άvayrw5wv h§iwon xopu, xai ras ὥρας βιβλυς ἐν τοῖς ἐκκλησιαςικοις συλλογοις ὑπανεγνωσκε τω λαω. In lectorum numerum adsriptus est, et sacros libros in ecclesiasticis conventibus populo recitavit. ['And he was thought worthy to be admitted into the band of readers, and in the eeclesiastical assemblies he read the sacred books to the people.']
See Socrates, Sozomen, &c. and Jortin's Remarks on Ecclesiastical History, vol. 3,