« PrécédentContinuer »
strange country. Daniel does not appear to have been fond of worldly honors. When Belshazzar made him great promises, he answered: Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another"?
A learned anonymous writer, in his observations on the book of Daniel, says, I think it no inconsiderable argument, that it has not been foisted in upon the world by Christian or Jewish zealots, that parts of it have continued so long in obscurity, and now, in this age, are gradually explained. Had any imposition been designed, these pretended oracles would have been understood at the first moment of their publication, as well as now; and would not have waited for elucidation till this time, so long after the views of a false prophet must have been at an end'.'
'Our blessed Saviour,' says Dr. Apthorp, has so asserted the authority of the prophecies of Daniel, as to rest his own veracity on their truth;' and it is of Daniel that Sir I. Newton says, 'to reject his prophecies, is to reject the Christian religion. For this religion is founded upon his prophecy concerning the Messiah'.'
'I conceive Daniel,' says Mede, 'to be Apocalypsis Contracta, and the Apocalypse Daniel Explicate, in that where both treat about the same subject; namely what was revealed to Daniel concerning the Fourth Kingdom, but summatim and in the gross, is shewed to S✩ John particulatim, with the distinction and order of the several fates and circumstances'.' The Apocalypse of John,' says Sir I. Newton, is written in the same style and language with the prophecies of Danif, and hath the same relation to them, which they have to one another, so that all of them together make up but one complete prophecy"."
6 Dan. v. 17. Lardner's Works, vol. VIII. p. 203.
7 Commentaries and Essays, vol. I. signature Synergus, p. 508.
8 Vol. I. p. 237.
9 P. 25.
10 P. 964.
11 P. 254. With respect to Sir I. Newton's character as a critic and a theologian, the testimony of an adversary may be cited. The first of philosophers,' says Mr. Gibbon, was deeply skilled in critical and theological studies.' Decl. and Fall of the Rom. Emp. vol. VIII. p. 272,
Of the predictions in ch. ii. and ch. vii. of Daniel such is the preciseness, that they admit not of two interpretations". That they refer to a remote period, the prophet has himself declared, telling us in the former of those chapters (v. 28), that they related to what shall be in the LATTER days.
In chapter ii. it is predicted, that the great Image, symbolical of the monarchies of the world, shall be overthrown and destroyed; and (v. 34 and 42) that its Ten Toes shall be shattered to atoms. The great idol of Daniel was,' says a valuable writer, very properly used as a representation of the grand imposture under living princes, who were worshipped as Gods, which was to continue to deceive the whole world from Daniel's time forward.' And speaking of St. John's prediction, that men shall worship the ten-horned Beast, he says, worshipping, as I have already shewed, rightly expresses that unreasonable idolatrous respect, which mankind have in all ages shewn to absolute princes, by treating them as Gods13.' And it is observed by bp. Chandler, that human figures, in early times, were, as the remains in ancient coins still shew, the usual symbols, whereby cities and people were known. And the metal they were made of, and the colors that adorned them (of which the herald's art preserves yet some traces), were rther marks to distinguish them from each
The demolition of the metallic image is represented under a well-known figure, hat of a stone, which, being cut out without hands, smote the mage on his feet, and brake
12 Dr. Sykes, speaking of chapters ii. and vì of Daniel, says, the prophetic style is plain and easy; and the terms such as will admit of very little, if any debate.' Ess. on the Tr. of the Chr. Rei. p. 12.
13 An Ess. on Script. Proph. and particularly on the Three Periods of Daniel, 1724, p. 58, 84. This writer expresses his expectation, that the year 1790 would be a memorable epocha, distinguished by great and momentous events; but his expectation was grounded on an erroneous computation of the periods of Daniel. See p. 158. 14 Def. of Chr. p. 95.
them to pieces; which prophecy conveys a similar meaning to a passage in the Apocalypse already expatiated upon, that the Lamb shall overcome the Ten Kings. The Ten Toes of the image,' says Mr. Lowth, when speaking of the Roman empire, signify the Ten Kings, who were in aftertimes to divide this kingdom among themselves denoted by the Ten Horns of this fourth Beast, mentioned in ch. vii. 7, campared with Rev. xvii. 12.' By the stone being a species of mineral altogether different from that of which the image was composed, it was, says bp. Chandler, implied, that this new kingdom should be not only different in number, or a distinct empire, but of another nature from that of the image'. Like an unshapen stone, alike destitute of polish and of magnitude, the dispensation of Jesus was to be principally propagated by men of the plainest manners, unadorned by learning, and undignified by rank; and, at its first rise, it was to make a small and comparatively inconsiderable progress. The stone cut out without hands,' says Mat. Henry, represented the kingdom of Jesus Christ.' It is said to be cut out of the mountain without hands, for it should be neither raised, nor supported by human power or policy; no visible hand should act in the setting it up, but it should be done invisibly by the Spirit of the Lord of Hosts: this was the Stone which the builders refused, because it was not cut out by their hands, but it is now become the Head Stone of the corner? Mat. Henry also observes, that Christ himself declares (Mat. xxi. 44), with a reference to this prophecy, that on whomsoever this Stone shall fall, it will grind him to powder. And to whom does the prophecy of Daniel relate? Unquestionably to the Ten antichristian Monarchies, which are established, somewhere or other, in the European quar
15 Def. of Chr. p. 97.
16 That our Saviour in his discourses had these prophecies of Daniel very frequently in view, Dr. Sykes has proved in his Ess. on the Chr. Rel. p. 30, 79.
ter of the globe. Let tyrants read this asseveration of our Saviour, and tremble.
In v. 32 and 33 it is declared, that this image's head was of fine gold, his breasts and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron, and part of clay. Now the commentators prove at large, that the golden part of the monarchical image represented the empire of the Assyrians, the silver that of the Persians, the brass that of the Greeks, and the iron and the clay that of the princes of the Roman empire. It was on account of its great strength, as the prophet himself informs us, that the fourth empire was compared to the last of these metals. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron; forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things ; and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise1
Daniel's own interpretation is,' says bp. Chandler, so plain, that no unbiassed person can easily mistake in the empires he prophecies of. He is express in the number. There shall be four kingdoms; and he counts the Babylonian, then in being, for the first". History tells us, the Medo-Persian broke, and succeeded the Babylonian. The Greek empire came into the place of the Persian by conquest, and is therefore the third. No historian ever confined the Greek empire to Alexander's person, or made a distinct empire of the four kingdoms, that arose upon his death. The Greek was destroyed in its two latest branches, that of the Seleucides and Ptolemies by the Roman, which is consequently the fourth kingdom, and answers in every respect to its iron characters'
Since it is said in v. 34, that the stone smote the image; and in v. 35, that then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces TOGETHER", and be
16 V. 40.
18 Def. of Chr. p. 99.
19 In v. 45 it is again said, that the stone, which was cut out of the mountain without hands, brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver,' and the gold.
came like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them; we must of necessity assent to the observation of bp. Hurd, that the four kingdoms of Daniel-form a prophetic geography, being considered, in the eye of prophecy, as coexistent' and as still alive";' and we must conclude, that not only in Europe, but in all the countries of the globe, formerly possessed by the Babylonians and Persians, the Greeks and Romans, the modern antichristian monarchies shall be so completely destroyed, that not the minutest portion of their power shall be suffered to maintain its ground. From an observation, shortly to be alleged from Sir I. Newton, this conclusion will appear farther evident. All the best commentators do, indeed, agree, that the fourth of Daniel's empire is the Roman in its largest signification; and that it includes, not only the republican government of the Consuls, not only the arbitrary government of the Emperors, but the multiplied dominion of their successors, the Ten Kings; and it must therefore be admitted, in consistency with this, that the other metals are not merely emblematic of the empires of Assyria, of Persia, and of Greece, properly so called, but likewise of the modern as well as the ancient monarchies, erected in those parts of the globe. These last, in the strict acceptation of the words, had indeed perished antecedently to the first propagation of Christianity; so that the symbolic stone, having no existence, could not possibly have contributed to break them in pieces.
The words of Jurieu and of bishops Newton and Chandler, I next cite, though it must be acknowleged, that on a matter, predicted with so much plainness, there is little. need of farther elucidation or of additional authorities. 'These Ten Toes,' says the divine of Rotterdam, ‘are the Ten Kings, which were to make up the kingdom of Anti
20 The expression alludes, says Mr. Lowth, to the threshing-floors in the Eastern countries, which were usually placed on the tops of hills.' 21 Vol. II. p. 143.