« السابقةمتابعة »
of "the words closed up and sealed," and we may cautiously examine all theories proposing the solution of the great riddle of the prophets. All theories of the meaning of it must certainly be fraught with some dominant error, if they have been proclaimed before the beginning of the time of the end. And as all theories now in vogue adopt the basis of interpretation projected ages ago, they must drive to the same conclusions and be imperfect, from the same errors. Much may have been done to prepare the way for the final unsealing, yet none has hitherto accomplished the stupendous achievement. With a becoming modesty, we trust we approach a work where a thousand giants have failed to scale the ladder of observation, and view the hidden mansions and golden streets within the secluded city of full revelation. Let us not be charged with presumption in undertaking what was to be accomplished by some common mortal, without the aid of miracle. May not a child discover a priceless gem? did not a timid slave discover the wealth of Peru? and may not one, as insignificant as either, by some strange providence, discover the lost key of the prophetic temple, as readily as the wise in their ermine and glasses? Neither proof nor presumption of our error can be based upon our early years, our humility of station, or unknown scholarship or abilities; these must be judged alone by the nature of our logic, and the realization of our interpretations. Good sense must test the one, and future events the other; facts already known will certify whether we are correct as to the past, and give presumptive testimony of our future accuracy. All we ask is an unbiassed judgment in the mind of the examiner.
We begin our expositions by taking the four great general prophecies of the world's history, related by Daniel.
These prophecies were given between the years 607 and 530 B. C. The first was given in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, and is an interpretation of a vision of that monarch; the second was given in the first year of Belshazzar; the third in the third year of the same king; and the fourth in the first year of Darius the Mede. Each prophecy contains the history of the world from the date when it was given. We begin with
Nebuchadnezzar's vision of the six kingdoms.-Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet, that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.
"Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them; and the stone that smote the image, became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. This is the dream: and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king. Thou, O king, art a king of kings; for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of heaven
hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.
"And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.
"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 bruise.
"And whereas, thou sawest the feet and toes part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes. of the feet were part of iron and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly broken. And whereas, thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay,* they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men; but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay. 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 forever.
"Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter; the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure."—Ch. ii.
There is one peculiarity in the symbolic prophecies which must be noted; that is, that the vision of the
future is generally accompanied by an interpretation, so that in fact, each prophecy is doubled to us; and each complex part of the prophecy receives also an especial interpretation in addition to the general one.
This vision comprehends the great spiritual and political history of the world, divided into great periods, definitely marked. The image is the embodiment of all the great monarchical governments that were ever to exist, for so the prophet affirms. These monarchies are said, by the text, to be four in number; and expositors generally agree that they were the Babylonian, MedoPersian, Macedonian, and Roman empires, and are by them commonly called the four universal empires, though they were not, strictly speaking, entirely universal. The fifth empire is reckoned to be Christianity, and the sixth the final kingdom of Messiah.
To this general interpretation we agree, with but one exception, and that is, the interpretation of the fifth to be Christianity. We have already adverted to the fact, that Daniel affirmed that his prophecies of the period under consideration were not to be clearly understood, "until the time of the end;" and, of course, all systems of interpretation of this period, must be liable to some capital defect which prevents the proper understanding of his words. The first and most important thing that can be done, is to ascertain where the error lies. We affirm that it exists in the interpretation given to the stone cut out of the mountain, or to the fifth kingdom of the vision. We shall undertake the proof of this by proceeding with a regular interpretation of the whole vision, beginning with the first, and proceeding to the final kingdom in chronological order.
HEAD OF THE IMAGE-BABYLON.
"This image's head was of fine gold." "Thou art this head of gold." Here we have both the vision and the interpretation. The kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar is thus promptly explained to be represented by the golden head of the image, and the term Nebuchadnezzar is put metonymically for the Babylonian empire. This empire is said to embrace the earth, "wheresoever the children of men dwell," and may properly be called a universal empire. Its capital was in Asia, yet it subdued a portion of Africa, by the reduction of Egypt and Libya. Europe, at that time, seems also to have offered temptations to conquest, and Megasthenes affirms that even Spain was subjected by Nebuchadnezzar.
THE MEDO-PERSIAN EMPIRE-ARMS AND BREAST OF SILVER.
"This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver." "Thou art this head of gold, and after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee."
As the first kingdom coincided with the gold, or first division of the image, so the second kingdom must coincide with the second division of the image, which was the breast and arms of silver. The name of the second kingdom is not given, but the means of ascertaining its name are fully sufficient to determine it as