« السابقةمتابعة »
year when the cleansing of the temple is to take place. But this latter period does not harmonise with Mr Elliot's theory, and therefore a new commencement must be found for the defiling of the temple, in order that the cleansing of it may take place just at the proper time. There is no necessity, say he and his followers, for dating the defiling of the temple from the days of Antiochus. We may go back, therefore, to any important period in the history of the power to which the prediction refers. We shall therefore, say they, fix on the most notable era in the later history of ancient Persia—the invasion of Greece by Xerxes. Counting from B. C. 480, when Xerxes made his triumphant progress to invade Greece, the two thousand three hundred prophetic days bring us down to A. D. 1820, the year of the Greek insurrection, when Greek Christendom began to be cleansed from the Turk and his religion.'
United Pres. You must be caricaturing Elliot's opinion now. It is difficult to conceive of so able a man putting forth anything so extravagant.
Orig. Sec. Ability and acuteness, when not associated with justness of mind, instead of preventing extravagance, are very often the ratio of its extent. The greater the ingenuity, aberrations can be rendered the more imposing. I assure you, I have used no extravagance, but given a simple statement of Elliot's theory, as given by one of his admirers and followers.
United Pres. The invasion of Greece by Xerxes the period from which the defiling of the temple is to be dated!! What possible connection had that with the defiling of the temple ? The temple referred to must be the temple of God, and the time can only be dated from the period when it began to be defiled. But the invasion of Greece by Xerxes had no connection with the taking away of the evening and the morning sacrifice. The author must have been thinking of the temple of Minerva, or of some other heathen deity : for we never either read or heard of any other than idols' temples existing in Greece in the days of Xerxes.
Orig. Sec. And had not the temple a cleansing wonderfully in keeping with this theory of its defilement, in the Greek Revolution of 1820, with Lord Byron as the high priest who presided over the lustration ?
United Pres. On the face of the chapter, it appears quite clear that the defiling of the temple, and consequently the commencement of the 2300 years, must be dated long after the overthrow of Persia. First, the Persian ram is overthrown by the Macedonian goat; then the notable horn of the goat, or Alexander the Great, is broken; then other four horns come up, which denote the fourfold monarchy of Alexander's successors ; afterwards a little horn arises among these four, and by it the temple is defiled. No ingenuity is required in order to understand this. Every man who has eyes cannot help seeing that this is plainly stated in the passage. The little horn that defiled the temple arose after the overthrow of Persia, and after the death of Alexander, and after the fourfold monarchy of his successors ; and as the temple was not defiled till it arose, none of the parties who were off the stage could have any part in the defiling of the temple. But Persia was overthrown long before the appearance of the little horn that defiled the temple ; and, therefore, Persia could have no connection with that event, unless it can be made out, either that the defiling of the temple must be dated long before the existence of the little horn by whom it was defiled, or, in other words, unless we date the commencement of an event a long time before the event took place. This would not make good history—but it does well enough with some interpreters of prophecy; and those, at any rate, who can believe that Nebuchadnezzar was a type of what took place a century and a half before he was born, can have little difficulty in believing that the defilement of the temple is to be dated from the most marked epoch in Persian history, although scripture directly states that before the temple was defiled Persia had been long politically dead.
* Seventh Vial.
Morisonian. I really wonder how you can spend precious time on such trifles.
Orig. Sec. Trifles I do not consider them. Next in importance to the authenticity and genuineness of scripture, is the question about the proper mode of its interpretation. False methods of expounding the word of God are not much better than adding to its contents. We have already had an apochryphal controversy against the corrupting of the bible, and there is as much need of an hermeneutical controversy against swarms of fanciful commentators, premillenialists, and others, who, instead of expounding the bible, expend all their ingenuity in showing how easily, when put into their crucible, its statements can be melted, and sublimed, until the heavenly element shall merge into, and blend with, their theories, as gracefully, and harmoniously, and perfectly, as steam does with the vital air.
Independent. But surely in the nineteenth century, and amid the ever-increasing resources of modern criticism, though able and respectable men may be so far deluded by their own inventions, they will find no one whose opinion is deserving of respect, credulous enough to believe, that the invasion of Greece by Xerxes was the defiling of the temple, and the Greek Revolution its cleansing. It is therefore useless to spend time in exposing absurdities, by which no respectable person will ever be seduced.
Orig. Sec. It is not easy to estimate the extreme limits of seduction, even upon minds of a most respectable order. And extravagant as this theory about the defiling of the temple may seem, it is adopted from Elliot, by a writer so able and accomplished as the author of the Seventh Vial;'* and forms the very keystone of his system in regard to the prophetic times. Refuse him the concession that the invasion of Greece was the defiling of the temple, and Daniel's long period of 2300 years stands forth as a refutation of all his other conclusions.
United Pres. What is your opinion respecting the portion of the work you have just mentioned, that treats about the prophetical times in Daniel and Revelation ?
Seventh Vial, p. 247.
Orig. Sec. That it is the weakest portion of it, and will not stand the inflexible test of arithmetic. Apart altogether from the theory adopted respecting the 1260 years, it is studded with inaccuracies in simple addition and subtraction. The author is evidently a much greater adept in the management of another kind of figures, than he is in those which are to be found in the multiplication table.
United Pres. Now that I recollect, has he not wholly controverted the justness of some calculations which you put forth on the same subject ?
Orig. Sec. So far from that, in his calculations he has adopted the same basis which we had previously laid down and established, that these prophetical times may have several periods of commencement, and, corresponding to this, several periods of termination. In a variety of subordinate points he differs from the opinions we had promulgated ; but neither in his agreement, nor in his opposition, does he make the slightest reference to our views, so that he must have been altogether ignorant on the point, or have forgotten them, for he shows no reluctance to mention either his friends or his opponents in other cases.
United Pres. I think it must be evident, to any one who reads the volume, that you are the personage, whom throughout that chapter he opposes under the honourable cognomen of some:' and this was in better taste than you may at first suppose; for you must recollect that, in writing anonymously, he was assuming to himself no higher a character than that of somebody.
Orig. Sec. At any rate he controverts the opinions we put forth, so that you must keep this in mind, and be all the more jealous lest we do him injustice.
United Pres. On what points do you differ?
Orig. Sec. The first point about which there is a difference is this, when did the 1260 years begin, or when was the Pope made universal bishop? We endeavoured to show, by arguments which are still considered to be quite incontrovertible, that the Pope was not made universal bishop by Justinian in 533. Without refuting these arguments, and without even pretending to adduce a single particle of evidence, he coolly asserts that Justinian at that period recognised • the absolute supremacy of the Pope.'
United Pres. This is a very easy method of getting along, and is especially convenient when a person falls in, either with arguments which he cannot answer, or with arguments the weakness of which he does not like to expose, out of respect to the person by whom they were put forth. What reply do you intend making to his assertion ?
Orig. Sec. I can return no answer until the grounds of it are produced. Though he has not stated them, he must have discovered some very strong reasons, otherwise he never would have made so bare and bold an affirmation. These reasons have convinced himself, and when they are produced, perhaps they may then convince others; but while they are kept in retentis, it cannot be expected that we should surrender a belief that is based upon evidence for an assertion made without evidence. Meanwhile, and until such evidence is pro
duced, we must regard his calculations as being based on a foundation of sand.
United Pres. What advantage does he gain by dating the rise of the Papacy from 533?
Orig. Sec. So far from gaining any advantage, he entangles himself with many difficulties, and falls into numerous inconsistencies in attempting to harmonise the various parts of his scheme with one another. We suppose our author must be ranked among those of whom Fleming speaks in the following passage :- I believe this account of Antichrist's rise will not be very acceptable to some, whose zeal for the Pope's downfall has made them entertain the hope of living to see that remarkable time—which has made them invent plausible schemes to prove that this great enemy was seated in his regal dignity long before the year 606. But if a man will trace truth impartially he will have reason to think that the rise of this adversary could not be before that time.' But I feel rather indisposed, and unable to continue this discussion to its issue.
United Pres. What is your opinion about the theory of the book, that the seventh vial is now pouring out ?
Orig. Sec. My opinion is, that the seventh vial' is thereby antedated, and that this author's scheme will be refuted by time, if done by no other. He has not kept sufficiently before his mind the amplitude of the plans of God, and the slow and patient manner in which they are executed. The several eras in providence are like the tides of the ocean ; and the author, forgetting that it takes many waves to make one tide, while astonished and excited by the wonderful events that have recently occurred, has in his calculations, we apprehend, given the importance of whole tide to the great but single billow that has lately broken upon the European shores.
United Pres. Will you not favour us with your reasons for this statement?
Orig. Sec. I should have done so with pleasure, but I feel the unsuitableness of a conversation for such a purpose. When the speakers both agree, as we have done this evening, the interest languishes : do as you may, a descent will be made, more or less, from the philosophic calm and the religious reverence becoming such a theme : the light in which one mind views the subject being suddenly brought into juxtaposition with the view taken by another mind, the ludicrous and the satirical will too frequently ensue: and the subject, besides, is one of such extent, that justice can only be done by presenting it in a single unbroken view. Instead of pursuing this conversation, and with the allowance of our friends to postpone our former subject of discussion, I shall, against our next meeting, endeavour to prepare a critical lecture on some of the authors that have enlightened the world on the book of Revelation ; when, among the rest, we shall take a glance at the Seventh Vial,' and the Red Republic,' &c.
United Pres. I am sure we shall be agreeable to this ; but what do you think about the present position of the Pope ?
Orig. Sec. It is indeed a critical one. To get out of it he would almost, as he professes, require to be infallible, if his extrication de
pends entirely on himself. It is a very striking occurrence, that no sooner had Great Britain resolved to open correspondence with the Court of Rome, than Providence showed in what 'a lying vanity
a ' they were putting their trust, by arranging matters so that there is no longer a Court of Rome with which to correspond. United Pres. Do
then coincide with those who think that the end of popery has come, or is just at hand ?
Orig. Sec. On this subject one should always keep from dogmatising; but, notwithstanding of appearances, I have continued hitherto to be of opinion, that it is most likely that popery will continue to exist for a long time to come. I do not think that the wiles of Satan, in connection with it, are yet exhausted ; and apprehend that its fall, when it comes, will be something much more tremendous than anything that has occurred of late. To have its last representative run away, like an effeminate coward, in the disguise of a lacquey, would be an end sufficiently disgraceful for a power that so long overawed the world; but we can discern in this no similarity to those sublime descriptions of the fall of Babylon presented in the word of God.
United Pres. You, I believe, are of opinion that the rise of the Papacy cannot be dated before the period when he became a temporal prince. Some consider that this is to confound a mere accident of the Papacy with its essence; and they hold that the rise of the Pope must be dated from the period when he became universal bishop. Such are of opinion that the fall of the Papacy is nigh at hand.
Orig. Sec. If spared to deliver the lecture spoken of, notice shall be taken of this subject. Meanwhile we would say, if the question be about the essence of popery,' and if its rise must be dated from the period when its essence began, then it must be dated from the days of the apostles ; for we are told that its essence then existed, and was at work. In this sense we admit that the temporal power is not a part of the essence of the Papacy; but neither, in this sense, is the universal primacy a part of its essence, for the essence existed and operated some hundreds of years before the primacy was in being, But if we leave the question of essences, and come to the question of the formal manifestation of Antichrist, then we do maintain that the temporal power is not accidental, but essential to his full and completed manifestation. When he becomes universal bishop he puts on Christ's crown as the king of Zion ; but it is only when he became a temporal prince that he put on Christ's crown as king of nations. Till the union of the two powers his usurpation was incomplete. On this account we are of opinion that his complete ascendancy can only be dated from the period when he became a temporal prince. Those who think the temporal power a mere accident must date the full ascendancy of the Pope from the time of his absolute primacy ; but if his absolute primacy began in 533, as the author of the Seventh Vial' and others maintain, then how can the prophecy of the 1260 days have been fulfilled, seeing his absolute and completed fall did not take place in 1793? Those who look upon the temporal power as a mere accident, are very inconsistent in the high expectations which they form from anything that has occurred at present.