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Both Daniel and St. John have given us abundantly sufficient reasons for concluding, that this period of persecution and trouble has no connection with the persecutions which the Church endured from the pagan Roman Emperors. The first of these prophets, in his vision of the four great beasts or empires,* intimates, that the power, into whose hand the saints should be
days, are all plainly descriptive of one and the same period : hence we are circumstantially led to conclude, even a priori, that they all denote the same space of time. If then we adopt the ancient mode of computing by years of 360 days each, we shall find that by such a mode of computation three years and a balf exactly contain 42 months or 1260 days ; hence we are numerically led to conclude, that the three expressions are only different modes of describing one and the same period. The result of the whole is, that prophetic days mean years : and that the three years and a balf, the 42 montbs, and tbe 1260 days, are alike used to denote 1260 natural years.
I am aware, that a year is sometimes used in its literal sense, as in Isaiah vü. 8. xxiii. 17. Jerem. xxv. 11, 12, and even by Daniel himself when predicting the punishment of the individual Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. iv. 25.); yet other instances may be brought, as well as those already adduced, to prove that days, in the language of prophecy, mean years.
“ After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years." (Numb. xiv. 34.) “ Lie thou also upon thy 'left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it : according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon it, thou shalt bear their iniquity. For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days : so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel And, when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days : I have appointed thee each day for a year." (Ezek. iv. 4, 5, 6.)
The only writers, that I have met with, who are unwilling to allow the three times and a half to be the same period as the 1260 duys, are Mr. Burton and Mr. Galloway. The former asserts, without a shadow of authority from Daniel, that each time comprehends 70 propbetic weeks or 490 years, merely because the famous prophecy relative to the Messiah, includes a period of 70 weeks'; (Dan, ix. 24.) and he dates the three times and a balf from the year 49, or the preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles : consequently they bring him down to the year 1764, when the Jesuits were suppressed. Now, independent of his having no warrant for asserting, that a time comprehends 70 weeks, the eyent itself has shewn him to be mistaken : for, whenever tbe ibree times and a balf shall expire, the Jews will begin to be restored. (See Dan. xii. 7.) A time however, as we learn from Daniel himself, is a year. (Dan. iv. 25.) But a year, according to the old computation, comprehends 360 days, not 70 weeks. Each time, therefore, must comprehend 360 propbetic days. Consequently three such times and a balf are exactly equal to 1260 days. Whence we may naturally conclude, that the two expressions mean the same period. In addition to these objections to Mr. Burton's scheme, it may be observed, that Daniel directs us to date tbe three times and a half from the era when the saints were delivered into the hand of the little born. (Dan. vii. 25.) Tbe little korn, however, was not to arise until tbe Roman Empire was divided into ten kingdoms. (Dan. vii. 8.) It will follow, therefore, that tbe tbree times and a balf cannot be dated from the year 49, which expired long before the Empire was thus divided. (Burton's Essay on the Numbers of Daniel and St. John, p. 247, et infra.) Mr. Galloway maintains, that the three times and a balf are merely ibree natural years and a balf. Yet he asserts, that the 1260 days are not natural but propbetic days. The use which he makes of this separation of the two periods from
each other, shall be considered hereafter. The Papists maintain the 1260 days to be mere natural days. This they do for obvious reasons.
* Daniel vii.
given during the appointed period of 1260 years, should begin to arise in the age in which the last beast, or the Roman Empire, was divided into ten horns or kingdoms. The Roman Empire, however, was not thus divided till after it had become Christian, and till all the persecutions of the pagan Emperors had ceased. Whence it will necessarily follow, that the period of 1260 years cannot include the persecutions of Paganism, and that the power symbolized by the little horn of the Roman beast must be some power at once posterior to and distinct from the line of the pagan Emperors. The second of these prophets, in a similar manner, describes a variety of important events as taking place between bis own age and that in which the 1260 years may be supposed to have commenced ; and, like Daniel, teaches us, that the date of those 1260 years is to be sought for, not at any era while the Roman Empire was one greut monarchy, but after it had been broken into ten kingdoms. Independent indeed of chronological considerations, the very term of 1260 years plainly shews, that that period can have no relation to the tyranny of pagan Rome. Constantine published his famous edict for the encouragement of Christianity, and the abolition of all persecution, in the year 313. The primitive Church, therefore, was only subject to the malice of Paganism during the space of 313 years :* whereas it is, more or less, to be subjected to the malice of the little horn during the space of 1260 yeurs.
But, although the pagan Roman Empire, has no connection with the persecution of 1260 years, we are evidently to look for the grand promoter or promoters of it within the limits of the old Roman Empire. The little horn, the ten horns, and the last head of the fourth beast, all arise out of that beast; the Roman Empire, therefore, must necessarily comprehend every one of these powers.
So again : since the Roman Empire had embraced Christianity previous to its division into ten kingdoms, since all those ten kingdoms were converted very soon
for the grand Roman Empire fourth beast:
• This will of course be understood as only a loose computation. It serves, however, for the present purpose, as well as a more exact one,
fter thell being.com; the cat be so
after their foundation, and since the little horn is represented as being contemporary with them, and as springing up among them ; the little horn, whatever it may be designed to symbolize, must be some power at least nominally Christian. This point is proved by history : for, at the time when the Roman Empire was divided, we shall in vain look for the rise of any pagan power within the limits of the Empire, that at all answers to the prophetic character of the little horn. Yet it is manifest, that the little horn must have been long since in existence, because it is described as first beginning to make its appearance at the era of the division of the Roman Empire.
If then the little horn be the type of some Christian power, it must be one that has greatly fallen away from the purity and simplicity of the primitive Church ; because it is described as wearing out the saints during the space of three times and a half or 1260 natural years, and as speaking great words by the side of the Most High so as to place itself upon an equality with God.
The nature both of this power, and of its apostacy, we are clearly taught by St. John. In the Apocalypse the same ten-horned beast or Roman Empire, as that mentioned by Daniel, is described as standing in the wilderness. Here, however, he appears without his little horn; and instead of it is represented as supporting a harlot, who, precisely like the little horn, is said to be a great persecutor of the faithful; for St. John beheld her “ drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” Now we learn from the ancient prophets, that an adulterous woman is the type of an apostate and idolatrous church :* the apocalyptic harlot, therefore, must symbolize some such church. But St. John tells us, that this harlot is the great city which in his time reigned over all the kings of the earth, and whose seat of empire was founded upon seven hills : the harlot, therefore, must be some apostate church, whose influence extends over all the kings of the earth, and whose seat is in the seven-hilled city Rome.
As for the peculiar nature of the apostacy with which this church is stigmatized, it is very largely described by the Apostle in the course of his prophetic vision. The church in question was to be notorious for persecuting the saints of God; for making all nations drunken with the cup of her spiritual fornication or idolatry ; for working pretended miracles ; for compelling the whole world to worship an image ; for laying such as presumed to dissent from her under the severest interdicts; and for carrying on an iniquitous traffic in all sorts of valuable commodities, and (what distinguishes her from common traders) in the souls of men.
This same ecclesiastical power is likewise described by St. Paul, and its deflection from primitive Christian. ity is expressly styled by him an Apostacy. “ Now we beseech you, brethren,” says he to the Thessalonians, “ by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter, as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means : for that day shall not come, except there come an A postacy first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition ; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped ; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things ? And now ye know what withholdeth, that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work : only he, who now letteth, will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming : even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish : because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie : that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” *
The nature of this apostacy, which should be upheld by the man of sin, he also, like St. John, elsewhere sets forth at large. “ Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall apostatize from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines concerning demons, through the hypocrisy of liars, t having their conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.-Refuse profane and · old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little : but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” Here we learn, in addition to the marks of the apostate church given us by St. John, that it should be noted for the worship, not only of idols, but of demons or canonized dead men ; for its prohibition of marriage to certain classes of men ; for its superstitious injunctions to abstain from particular kinds of food; and for its attachment to vain traditions and bodily mortifications, which have no warrant from scripture, and which are very far from being conducive to real godliness.
Though I have cited the prophecies relative to the man of sin and the Apostacy, I shall purposely refrain from discussing the character of that arch enemy of sound religion, because I have nothing to add to Bp. Newton's excellent Dissertation upon the subject. I am aware that some great modern names have applied the prophecy of the man of sin to French Infidelity ; but I have not yet seen any arguments which convince me of the propriety of such an application. In every particular, as
* 2 Thess. ii. 1. + The ingenious Mr. Whitaker conceives the word Sarpow to be an adjective, and translates the passage “ giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of wretched men speaking lies in hypocrisy." How far such a translation be allowable according to the general idiom of the inspired writers of the New Testament, I will not take upon me to determine. It certainly accords very well with the context of the passage. General View of the Prophecies, p. 231.
# 1 Tim. iv. 1.