Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

1.]
Prophecy to be studied.

23 who, it was foretold, should come in the last days “ walking after their own lusts,” shall begin to say with more presumptuous unbelief, “Where is the promise of the coming*?"-even, then, when there is least expectation, save in the watchful spirits of His faithful few, shall He come whom they patiently look for; and “blessed are those servants whom the Lord, when he cometh, shall find watching.” “Behold, I come quickly," He saith again, winding up the concluding scenes of the volume of His Revelation with the repetition of the blessing recorded in its earliest page—“Behold, I come quickly; blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. ... And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book; for the time is at hand. ... And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man as his work shall be. . . . He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly; Amen." And may His Church, and every one of her faithful children, have grace to say with His beloved disciple—“Even so, come, Lord Jesus 6."

To Him, “who is the faithful and true witness, the “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending,” “the first and the last?;" to Him, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, Three Persons and One God, be ascribed all honour and glory, might, majesty, dominion, and power, henceforth and for

Amen.

evermore.

4

2 Pet. iii. 3, 4. 5 Luke xii. 37. 6 Rev. xxii. 7, 10, 12, 20.

? Rev. iii. 14; i. 8; xxii. 13.

LECTURE II'.

Dan. ii. 44.

“And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up

a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed : and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever."

In proposing, on a former occasion, the course of inquiry on which we are now to enter, I mentioned among the considerations which seemed, at the present time especially, to recommend a calm and thoughtful study of Prophecy, the tendency, in the first place, of some recent inquiries to call in question interpretations which had seemed to be established by general—nay, almost universal-consent. Of this we have an instance in the prophetic vision which comes first before us, in the examination which I proposed to undertake of the prophecies of Daniel and St. John-I mean, the vision of the image seen by Nebuchadnezzar in the second year of his reign.

I need not, probably, recall to your recollection the description given of the image, nor the interpretation of its several parts,—the head of fine gold, the breast and the arms of silver, the belly and the

[blocks in formation]

LECT. II.] The four Kingdoms.

25 thighs of brass, the legs of iron, with the feet part of iron and part of clay-as denoting four kingdoms which should arise successively in the earth; and on the ruins of which the God of heaven would set up a kingdom, represented under the figure of “a stone, cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces ... and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth ?” The four kingdoms here described have been designated, in the expressive language of the learned Mede, the “SACRED KALENDAR and GREAT ALMANACK of PROPHECY,”-as being “a prophetical chronology of times measured by the succession of four principal kingdoms, from the beginning of the captivity of Israel until the mystery of God should be finished.” “Now these four kingdoms,” he observes further, “ (according to the truth infallibly to be demonstrated, if need were, and agreeable both to the ancient opinion of the Jewish Church', whom they most concerned, and to the most ancient and universal opinion of Christians", derived from the times of the Apostles, until now of late some have questioned it,) are 1, the Babylonian; 2, that of the Medes and Persians; 3, the Greek; 4, the Roman 5.” It was in reference to this last of the four kingdoms, that the ancient interpretation had, in Mede's time, by “some of late” been questioned;

2 Vv. 34, 35.

And that Josephus understood 3 “Vide Targ. Habac. 3. 17." the prophecy in the same way, Comp. p. 743. “ That the is not less evident.—See Note, Jews were of this opinion be- Appendix. fore our Saviour came; as ap “Vide Cyril. Hieros. karnx: pears in Jonathan Ben Uziel, lé'. et Hieronymi locum infrà the Chaldee Paraphrast, and by citatum.” the fourth Book of Esdras,” &c. 3 Works, p. 654.

26

The fourth Kingdom [LECT. and when objections were brought against his own exposition of the Prophecy,—an exposition in accordance with the anciently received interpretation,-his answer was—“The Roman empire to be the fourth kingdom of Daniel, was believed by the Church of Israel both before and in our Saviour's time; received by the disciples of the Apostles, and the whole Christian Church for the first four hundred years, without any known contradiction. And, I confess, having so good ground in Scripture, it is with me 'tantùm non articulus fidei,' little less than an article of faith 6."

With a partial exception, which does in some sort set forth more strikingly the general consent, the statement of Mede is substantially correct. We find S. Ephrem Syrus in the fourth century, in his Commentary on the Book of Daniel, which has been published from the Syriac original since the time of Mede, interpreting the fourth kingdom to be the Greek; in order to which he divides the kingdom of the Medes and Persians, making them severally the second and the third”. This interpretation, which is in accordance with a gloss inserted in the Syriac version of the vision of the four beasts in the Book of Daniel ®, is very fully and ably refuted by Theodoret, a bishop of the Syrian Church in the

• Ibid. p. 736 (Epistle vi.). bant è mari, eæque inter se In this letter Mede designates diversæ. Regnum Babyloniorum. “the four kingdoms in Daniel" Prima similis erat leoni, &c... as “The A, B, C of Prophecy." Regnum Medorum. Bellua seCompare the Dissertation (pp. cunda similis erat urso, &c. ... 711—716)“Regnum Romanun Regnum Persarum. Postea est quartum regnum

Danielis." videbam aliam belluam pardo S. Ephr. Syri Op. tom. similem, &c. . . Regnum Græii. (Syr. et Lat.) pp. 205, 206. corum. Denique videbam in (Romæ, 1740.)

visione nocturna belluam

quar8 Dan. vii. 3-6. Et

qua

tam,” &c. tuor ingentes belluæ emerge

7

11.]

the Roman Empire.

27 following century. Theodoret mentions it as the interpretation of some who had gone before him ; and clearly shows, in refutation of it, that the kingdom of the Medes and Persians must be regarded as one; and that from the succession of empires it is manifest that the third kingdom is that of the Greeks, and the fourth the Romano. With this exception in the Syrian Church, Mede's assertion, of the unanimous consent of the first four centuries in this interpretation, is fully borne out. And how general was that consent, may be gathered, still further, from the language employed by St. Jerome, in expounding Daniel's vision of the four beasts-a vision which has almost universally been regarded as identical, in its main outline, with this of the image. He speaks of it as what “all ecclesiastical writers” had “handed down,” that the ten kingdoms were to rise out of the division of the Roman empire'. St. Cyril, of Jerusalem, who flourished somewhat earlier in the same century, had made a similar assertion; for “ that this (the fourth kingdom) is that of the Romans,” he says, has been the tradition of the Church's interpreters ? For as the first kingdom

9

Interp. in Dan. Op. tom. ii. Romanorum est, de quo in pp. 567, 568. (ed. Paris, 1642.) statua dicitur :

• Tibiæ ejus queis uèv oủv vŰTW TÌv èpun- ferreæ,' &c. Frustrà Porνείας του θεσπεσίου Δανιήλ phyrius, &c. ...

phyrius, &c. ... Ergo dicamus vevojkajevo (he had explained quòd omnes scriptores ecclesiasthe four kingdoms after the tici tradiderunt: in consummareceived manner) προσήκει δε

tione mundi, quando regnum και ενίων των προ ημών ήρμη- destruendum est Romanorum, , νευκότων τάς δόξας εις μέσον decem futuros reges, qui orbem παραγαγείν ούτω γαρ έναρ Romanum inter se dividant...' γέστερον η αλήθεια δειχ Hieron. Op. tom. iii. pp. θήσεται τινες τοίνυν τών συγ 1100, 1101. (ed. Bened.) ypapéwy K. t. 1.-See Note, 2 Το θηρίον το τέταρτον, βαAppendix.

σιλεία τετάρτη έσται εν τη γη, 1 “Quartum quod nunc or ήτις υπερέξει πάσας τας βαbem tenet terrarum, imperium σιλείας. ταύτην δε είναι των

« FöregåendeFortsätt »