COMMENTARIES

ON

THE PROPHET DANIEL

BY JOHN CALVIN

Translation Of The Text And Copious Indices, By Thomas Myers, M.A., Vicar Of Sheriff-Hutton, Yorkshire

 


CHAPTER 9

<270901>Daniel 9:1-3

1. In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans.

1. Anno uno, id est, primo, Darii filii Assueri e semine Medorum, qui rex fuit constitutus, f465 in regno Chaldaico.

2. In the first year of his reign, I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years In the desolation’s of Jerusalem.

2. In anno primo, inquam, f466 regni illius, ego Daniel intellexi in libris numerum annorum, de quibus fuerat sermo Jehovae, ad ad Jeremiam prophetam, f467 ad implendum desolationem Jerusalem annos septuaginta.

3. And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes.

3. Et levavi faciem meam ad Dominum Deum, ut quaererem oratione et precationibus, f468 cum jejunio, sacco, et cinere.

 

In this chapter Daniel will explain to us two things. First, how very ardently he was accustomed to pray when the time of redemption, specified by Jeremiah, drew nigh; and next, he will relate the answer he received from God to his earnest entreaties. These are the two divisions of this chapter. First, Daniel informs us how he prayed when he understood from books the number of the years. Whence we gather, that God does not here promise his children earthly blessings, but eternal life, and while they grow torpid and ease aside all care and spiritual concern, he urges them the more earnestly to prayer. For what benefit do God’s promises confer on us, unless we, embrace them by faith? But prayer is the chief exercise of faith. This observation of Daniel’s is worthy of notice. He was stimulated to prayer because he knew from books the number of the years. But I will defer the rest till to-morrow.

PRAYER.

Grant, Almighty God, as in these days thou hast called us to a similar lot to that which the fathers under the Law formerly experienced, and as thou didst confirm them in patience, and arm them for constancy in warfare, and render them superior in all conflicts with Satan and the world. Grant, I pray thee, that we at this day, whom thou wishest to be joined to them, may become proficient in thy word. May we look forward to bearing the cross throughout our whole life. May we be prepared for the contest, and prefer miserable affliction under the standard of the cross, to spending a secure and luxurious life in our own enjoyments,:and thus becoming deprived of that hope of victory which thou hast promised us, and whose fruit thou hast laid up for us in heaven, through Jesus Christ our Lord. — Amen.


Lecture Forty-Fourth.

We began to say yesterday, that the faithful do not so acquiesce in the promises of God as to grow torpid, and become idle and slothful through the certainty of their persuasion that God will perform his promises, but are rather stimulated to prayer. For the true proof of faith is the assurance when we pray that God will really perform what he has promised us. Daniel. is here set before us as an example of this. For when he understood the time of deliverance to be at hand, this knowledge became a stimulus to him to pray more earnestly than he was accustomed to do. It is clear then, as we have already seen, that the Prophet was diligent and anxious in this particular. He did not deviate from his usual habit when he saw the greatest risk of being put to death; for while the king’s edict prohibited every one from praying to God, he still directed his face towards Jerusalem. This was the holy Prophet’s daily habit. But we shall perceive the extraordinary nature of his present prayer, when he says, he prayed in dust arid ashes. From this it appears, how God’s promise stirred him up to supplication, and hence we gather what I have lately touched upon, — that faith is no careless speculation, satisfied with simply assenting to God. For the stupid seem to assent by outward hearing, while true faith is something far more serious. When we really embrace the grace of God which he offers us, he meets us and precedes us with his goodness, and thus we in time respond to his offers, and bear witness to. our expectation of his promises. Nothing, therefore, can be better for us, than to ask for what he has promised. Thus in the prayers of the saints these feelings are united, as they plead God’s promises wherein they entreat him. And we cannot possibly exercise true confidence in prayer, except by resting firmly on God’s word. An example of this kind is here presented to us in Daniel’s case. When he understood the number of the years to be at hand of which God had spoken by Jeremiah, he applied his mind to supplication. It is worth while to notice what I have mentioned: — Daniel is not here treating of his daily prayers. We may easily collect from the whole of his life, how Daniel had exercised himself in prayer before Jeremiah had spoken of the seventy years. Because he knew the time of redemption to be at hand, he was then stimulated to more than his usual entreaties. He expresses this, by saying, in fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes. For the saints were not accustomed to throw ashes over their heads every day, nor yet to separate themselves for prayer, by either fasting or putting on sackcloth. This action was rare, used only when God gave some sign of his wrath, or when he held out some scarce and singular benefit. Daniel’s present prayer was not; after his usual habit, but when he put on sackcloth and sprinkled himself with ashes, and endured fasting, he prostrated himself suppliantly before God. He also pleaded for pardon, as we shall afterwards see, and begged the performance of what the Almighty had surely promised.

From this we should learn two lessons. First, we must perseveringly exercise our faith by prayers; next, when God promises us anything remarkable and valuable, we ought then to be the more stirred up, and to feel this expectation as a sharper stimulus. With reference to the fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes. we may shortly remark, how the holy fathers under the law were in the habit of adding extraordinary ceremonies to their prayers, especially when they wished to confess their sins to God, and to cast themselves before him as thoroughly guilty and convicted, and as placing their whole hope in their supplication for mercy. And in the present day the faithful are justified in adding certain external rites to their prayers; although no necessity either can, or ought to be laid down beforehand in this case. We know also, the, Orientals to be more devoted to ceremonies than we are ourselves. And this difference must be noticed between the ancient people and the new Church, since Christ by his advent abolished many ceremonies. For the fathers under the Law were, in this sense, like children, as Paul says. (<480403>Galatians 4:3.) The discipline which God had formerly instituted, involved the use of more ceremonies than were afterwards practiced. As there is this important difference between our position and theirs, whoever desires to copy them in all their actions, would rather become the ape than the imitator of antiquity. Meanwhile, we must notice that the reality remains for us, although external rites are abolished. Two kinds of prayer, therefore, exist; one which we ought to practice daily, in the morning, evening, and if possible, every moment; for we see how constancy in prayer is commended to us in Scripture. (<421801>Luke 18:1; <451212>Romans 12:12; <520517>1 Thessalonians 5:17.) The second kind is used, when God denounces his wrath against us, or we have need of his special aid, or seek anything unusual from him. This was Daniel’s method of praying when he put on sackcloth, and sprinkled himself with ashes. But as I have treated this subject elsewhere, I now use greater brevity.

When Daniel perceived the period of deliverance at hand, he not only prayed as usual, but left all his other occupations for the purpose of being quite at ease and at leisure, and thus he applied his mind exclusively to prayer, and made use of other aids to devotion. For the sackcloth and the ashes availed far more than mere outward testimony; they are helps to increase our ardor in praying, when any one feels sluggish and languid. It is true, indeed, that when the fathers under the Law prayed with sackcloth and ashes, this appearance was useful as an outward mark of their profession. It testified before men, how they came before God as guilty suppliants, and placed their whole hope of salvation in pardon alone. Still this conduct was useful in another way:. as it stirred them up more eagerly to the desire to pray. And both these points are to be noticed in Daniel’s case. For if the Prophet had such need of this assistance, what shall be said of our necessities? Every one ought surely to comprehend how dull and cold he is in this duty. Nothing else, therefore, remains, except for every one to become conscious of his infirmity, to collect all the aids he can command for the correction of his sluggishness, and thus stimulate himself to ardor in supplication. For when Daniel. according to his daily custom, prayed so as to run the risk of death on that very account, we ought to gather from this, how naturally alert he was in prayer to God. He was conscious of the want of sufficiency in himself, and hence he adds the use of sackcloth, and ashes, and fasting.

I pass by what might be treated more diffusely — -how fasting is often .added to extraordinary prayers. We conclude also, how works by themselves fail to please the Almighty, according to the fictions of the Papists of these days, and also to the foolish imaginations of many others. For they think fasting a part of the worship of God, although Scripture always commends it to us for another purpose. By itself it is of no consequence whatever, but when mingled with prayers, with exhortations to penitence, and with the confession of sinfulness, then it is acceptable, but not otherwise. Thus, we observe Daniel to have made use of fasting correctly, not as wishing to appease God by this discipline, but to render him more earnest in his prayers.

We must next notice another point. Although Daniel was an interpreter of dreams, he was not so elated with confidence or pride as to despise the teaching delivered by other prophets. Jeremiah was then at Jerusalem, when Daniel was dragged into exile, where he discharged the office of teacher for a long period afterwards, so that Babylon became a kind of pulpit. f469 And Ezekiel names him the third among the most excellent servants of God, (<261414>Ezekiel 14:14,) because Daniel’s piety, integrity, and holiness of life, were even then celebrated. As to Jeremiah, we know him to have been either just deceased in Egypt, or perhaps to be still living, when this vision was offered to Daniel, who had perused his prophecies previously to this occasion. We observe also, the great modesty of this holy man, because he exercised himself in reading the writings of Jeremiah; and was not ashamed to own how he profited by them. For he knew this prophet to have been appointed to instruct himself as well as the rest of the faithful. Thus he willingly submitted to the instruction of Jeremiah, and ranged himself among his disciples. And if he had not deigned to read those prophecies, he would have been unworthy to partake of the promised deliverance. As he was a member of the Church, he ought to have been a disciple of Jeremiah, so in like manner, Jeremiah would not have objected to profit in his turn, if any prophecy of Daniel’s had been presented to him. This spirit of modesty ought to flourish among the servants of God, even if they excel in the gift of prophecy, inducing them to learn from each other, while no one should raise himself above the common level. While we are teachers, we ought at the same time to continue learners. And Daniel teaches us this by saying, he understood the number of years in books, and the number was according to the word of Jehovah to the prophet Jeremiah. He shews why he exercised himself in the writings of Jeremiah, — because he was persuaded that God had spoken by his voice. Thus it caused him no trouble to read what he knew to have proceeded from God.

We must now remark The Time Of This Prophecy-the first year of Darius. I will not dwell upon this point here, because I had rather discuss the years when we come to the second part; of the chapter. I stated yesterday that this chapter embraced two principal divisions. Daniel first records his own prayer, and then he adds the prediction which was brought to him by the hand of the angel. We shall next speak of the seventy years, because the discussion will then prove long. enough. I will now touch but briefly upon one point — the time of redemption was at hand, as the:Babylonian monarchy was changed and transferred to the Medes and Persians. In order to render the redemption of his people the more conspicuous, God desired to wake up the whole East after the Medes and Persians had conquered the Babylonians. Cyrus and Darius published their edict about the same time, by which the Jews were permitted to return to their native country. In that year, therefore, meaning the year in which Darius began his reign. Here it may be asked, Why does he name Darius alone, when Cyrus was far superior to him in military prowess, and prudence, and other endowments? ‘The ready answer is this, Cyrus set out immediately on other expeditions, for we know what an insatiable ambition had seized upon him. He was not stimulated by avarice. but by an insane ambition, and never could rest quiet in one place. So, when he had acquired Babylon and the whole of that monarchy, he set out for Asia Minor, and harassed himself almost to death by continual restlessness. Some say he was slain in battle, while Xenophon describes his death as if he was reclining on his bed, and at his ease was instructing his sons in what he wished to have done. But whichever be the true account, all history testifies to his constant motion from place to place. Hence we are not surprised at the Prophet’s speaking here of Darius only, who was more advanced in age and slower in his movements through his whole life. It is sufficiently ascertained that he was not a man fond of war; Xenophon calls him Cyaxares, and asserts him to have been the son of Astyages. We know, again, that Astyages was the maternal grandfather of Cyrus; and thus this Darius was the uncle as well as father-in-law of Cyrus, as the mother of Cyrus was his sister. When the Prophet calls his father Ahasuerus, it need not occasion us any trouble, as the names vary very much when we compare the Greek with the Hebrew. Without the slightest doubt, Astyages was called Ahasuerus, or at least one was his name and the other his surname. All doubt is removed by the expression, Darius was of the seed of the Medes. He distinguishes here between the Medes and Persians, because the Medes had seized upon rich and splendid territories, stretching far and wide on all sides, while the Persians were shut up within their own mountains, and were more austere in their manner of life. But the Prophet here states of this Darius his Median origin, and adds another circumstance, namely, his obtaining the kingdom of the Chaldees. For Cyrus allowed him to be called king, not only on account of his age and of his being both his uncle and father-in-law, but because he would not attempt anything against his authority. He knew he had no heir who might in future become troublesome to him. Cyrus therefore yielded the empty title to his father-in-law, while the whole power and influence remained completely within his own grasp.

He says, then, When I understood in books the number of the years for filling up the desolation of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. This prophecy is found in the 25th chapter of Jeremiah, (<242501>Jeremiah 25), and is repeated in the 29th, (<242529>Jeremiah 29). God fixed beforehand seventy years for the captivity of his people, as it was a grievous trial to be cast out of the land of Canaan, which had been granted them as a perpetual inheritance. They remembered those celebrated sentences,

“This shall be my rest for ever,” and
“Ye shall possess the land for ever.” (<19D214>Psalm 132:14.)

When they were cast out and dispersed throughout the various countries of the earth, it seemed as if the covenant of God had been abolished, and as if there was no further advantage in deriving their origin from those holy fathers to whom their land had been promised. For the purpose of meeting these temptations, God fixed beforehand a set time for their exile, and Daniel now recurs to this prediction. He adds, Then I raised my face. It is properly hnta, ath-neh, I placed; but as some interpreters seem to receive this word too fancifully, as if Daniel had then looked towards the sanctuary. I prefer rendering it, He raised his face to God. It is quite true that while the altar was standing, and the ark of the covenant was in the sanctuary, God’s face was there, towards which the faithful ought to direct, both their vows and prayers; but now the circumstances were, different through the temple being overthrown. We have previously read of Daniel’s praying and turning his eyes in that direction, and towards Judea. but his object was not a desire to pray after the manner of his fathers. For there was then neither sanctuary nor ark of the covenant in existence. (<270610>Daniel 6:10.) His object in turning his face towards Jerusalem was openly to shew his profession of such mentally dwelling in that land which God had destined for the race of Abraham. By that outward gesture and ceremony the Prophet claimed possession of the Holy Land, although still a captive and an exile. With regard to the present passage, I simply understand it to mean, he raised his face towards God. That I might inquire, says he, by supplication and prayers. Some translate, that I might seek supplication and prayer. Either is equally suitable to the sense, but the former version is less forced, because the Prophet sought God by supplication and prayers. And this form of speech:is common enough in Scripture, as we are said to seek God when we testify our hope of his performing what he has promised. It now follows: —

<270904>Daniel 9:4

4. And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him diligently and to them that keep his commandments.

4. Rt oravi Jehovam Deum meum, et confessus sum, f470 et dixi. Quaeso Domine Deus magne et terribilis, custodiens foedus et misericordam diligentibus ipsum, et custodientibus praecpeta ejus.

 

Here Daniel relates the substance of his prayer. He says, He prayed and confessed before God. The greatest part of this prayer is an entreaty that God would pardon his people. Whenever we ask for pardon, the testimony of repentance ought to precede our request. For God announces that he will be propitious and easily entreated when men seriously and heartily repent. (<235809>Isaiah 58:9.) Thus confession of guilt is one method of obtaining pardon; and for this reason Daniel fills up the greater part of his prayer with the confession of his sinfulness. He reminds us of this, not for the sake of boasting, but to instruct us by his own example to pray as we ought. He says, therefore, he prayed and made confession. The addition of “my God” to the word Jehovah is by no means superfluous. I prayed, he says, to my God. He here shews that he did not utter prayers with trembling, as men too often do, for unbelievers often flee to God, but without any confidence. They dispute with themselves whether their prayers will produce any fruit; Daniel, therefore, shews us two things openly and distinctly, since he prayed with faith and repentance. By the word confession he implies his repentance, and by saying he prayed to God, he expresses faith, and the absence of all rashness in throwing away his prayers, as unbelievers do when they pray to God confusedly, and are all the while distracted by a variety of intruding thoughts. I prayed, says he, to my God. No one can use this language without a firm reliance on the promises of God, and assuming that he will prove himself ready to be entreated. He now adds, I entreat thee, O Lord. The particle ana, ana, is variously translated; but it is properly, in the language of grammarians, the particle of beseeching. O Lord God, says he, great and terrible. Daniel seems to place an obstacle in his own way by using this language; for such is the sanctity of God that it repels us to a distance as soon as we conceive it in the mind: wherefore this terror seems to be removed when we seek a familiar approach to the Almighty. One might suppose this method of prayer by no means suitable, as Daniel places God before his eyes as great and formidable. It seems something like frightening himself; yet the Prophet deserves a due moderation, while on the one hand he acknowledges God to be great and terrible, and on the other he allows him to keep his covenant towards those who love him and obey his statutes. We shall afterwards see a third point added — God will receive the ungrateful and all who have departed from his covenant. The Prophet joins these two things together.

With reference to the epithets great and terrible, we must maintain what I have already stated, namely, the impossibility of our praying rightly, unless we humble ourselves before God; and this humility is a preparation for repentance. Daniel, therefore, sets before himself the majesty of God, to urge both himself and others to cast themselves down before the Almighty, that, in accordance with his example, they may really feel penitent before him. God, therefore, says he, is great and terrible. We shall never attribute just honor to God unless we become cast down, as if dead, before him. And we ought diligently to notice this, because we are too often careless in prayer to God, and we treat it as a mere matter of outward observance. We ought to know how impossible it is to obtain anything from God, unless we appear in his sight with fear and trembling, and become truly humbled in his presence. This is the first point to be noticed. Then Daniel mitigates the asperity of his assertion by adding, keeping his covenant, and taking pity upon those who love him. Here is a change of person: the third is substituted for the second, but there is no obscurity in the sense; as if he had said, Thou keepest thy covenant with those who love thee and observe thy statutes. Here Daniel does not yet fully explain the subject, for this statement is too weak for gaining the confidence of the people; they had perfidiously revolted from God, and as far as related to him, his agreement had come to an end. But Daniel descends by degrees and by sure steps to lay a foundation for inspiring the people with assured trust in the lovingkindness of God. Two points are embraced in this clause: first of all, it shews us there is no reason why the Jews should expostulate with God and complain of being too severely treated by him. Daniel, therefore, silences all expressions of rebellion by saying, Thou, O God, keepest thy covenant. We must here notice the real condition of the people: the Israelites were in exile; we know how hard that tyranny was — how they were oppressed by the most cruel reproaches and disgrace, and how brutally they were treated by their conquerors. This might impel many to cry out, as doubtless they really did, “What does God want with us? What, the better are we for being chosen as his peculiar people? What is the good of our adoption if we are still the most miserable of all nations?” Thus the Jews might complain with the bitterest grief and weariness of the weight of punishment which God had inflicted upon them. But Daniel here asserts his presenting himself before God, not to cavil and murmur, but only to entreat his pardon. For this reason, therefore, he first says, God keeps his covenant towards all who love him; but at the same time he passes on to pray for pardon, as we shall afterwards perceive. We shall treat of this covenant and the Almighty’s lovingkindness in the next Lecture.

PRAYER.

Grant, Almighty God, as at the present time thou dost deservedly chastise us for our sins, according to the example of thine ancient people, that we may turn our face to thee with true penitence and humility: May we throw ourselves suppliantly and prostrately before thee; and, despairing of ourselves, place our only hope in thy pity which thou hast promised us. May we rely on that adoption which is founded on and sanctioned by thine only-begotten Son, and never hesitate to come to thee as a father whenever we fly to thee. Meanwhile, do thou so thoroughly affect our minds, that we:may not only pray to thee as a matter of duty, but truly and seriously take refuge in thee, and be touched with a sense of our sins, and never doubt thy propitious disposition towards us, in the name of the same thy Son our Lord. — Amen.


Lecture Forty-Fifth.

Is the last Lecture Daniel said that he prayed and confessed. Now, in narrating the form of his prayer, he begins by confession. We must notice this, to enable us to understand the scope which Daniel had in view, as well as the special object of his prayer. This is the kind of beginning which he makes, — the people are guilty before God, and suppliantly pray for pardon; but before the Prophet comes to this entreaty, he confesses how the people were most severely and justly chastised by the Lord, as they had so grievously and variously provoked his anger. First of all, he calls God terrible, for I have recited and translated his words. When the Prophet desires to attract God’s favor towards himself, he begins by bringing forward his majesty. By these words he stirs up himself and the rest of the faithful to reverence, urging them to approach the presence of God with submission, to acknowledge themselves utterly condemned, and to be deprived of all hope except in the mere mercy of God. He calls him, therefore, great and terrible, in order to humble the minds of all the pious before God, to prevent their aspiring to any self-exaltation, or being puffed up with any self-confidence. For, as we have said elsewhere:, the epithets of God are at one time perpetual, and at another variable, with 1;he circumstances of the subject. in hand. God may always be called great and terrible; but Daniel calls him so here, to stir up himself and all others to humility and reverence, as I have previously remarked. Then he, adds, He is faithful in keeping his covenant and in shewing pity towards all his true worshippers. I have referred to a change of person in this clause, but it does not. obscure the sense or render it in any way doubtful. I have explained how these words also testify to the absence of all cause why the people should murmur or complain of being treated too harshly. For where the faithfulness of God to his promises has once been laid down, men have not the slightest reason to complain when he treats them less clemently, or frustrates them because they are found fallacious and perfidious; for God always remains true to his words. (<460109>1 Corinthians 1:9; <461013>1 Corinthians 10:13; <530303>2 Thessalonians 3:3.) In this sense Daniel announces that God keeps his covenant towards all who love him. We must next notice, how he adds the word “pity” to “covenant.” He does not put these two words as differing from each other, tyrb, berith, and dsj, chesed, but unites them together, and the sentence ought to be understood by a common figure of speech, implying that God made a gratuitous covenant which flows from the fountain of his pity. What, therefore, is this agreement or covenant and pity of God? The covenant flows from God’s mercy; it does not spring from either the worthiness or the merits of men; it has its cause, and stability, and effect, and completion solely in the grace of God. We must notice this, because those who are not well versed in the Scriptures may ask why Daniel distinguishes mercy from covenant, as if there existed a mutual stipulation when God enters into covenant with man, and thus God’s covenant would depend simply on man’s obedience. This question is solved when we understand the form of expression here used, as this kind of phrase is frequent in the Scriptures. For whenever God’s covenant is mentioned, his clemency, or goodness, or inclination to love is also added. Daniel therefore confesses, in the first place, the gratuitous nature of the covenant of God with Israel, asserting it to have no other cause or origin than the gratuitous goodness of God. He next testifies to God’s faithfulness, for he never violates his agreement nor departs from it, as in many other places God’s truth and faithfulness are united with his clemency. (<193606>Psalm 36:6, and elsewhere.) It is necessary for us to rely on God’s mere goodness, as our salvation rests entirely with him, and thus we render to him the glory due to his pity, and thus it becomes needful for us, in the second place, to obtain a clear apprehension of God’s clemency. The language of the Prophet expresses both these points, when he shows how God’s covenant both depends upon and flows from his grace, and also when he adds the Almighty’s faithfulness in keeping his agreement.

He adds, Towards those who love thee and keep thy commandments. We must diligently notice this, because Daniel here drives away the whole people from the defense which many might put forward, hypocrites willingly become angry with God; nay, boldly reproach him because he does not either pardon or indulge them. Daniel, therefore, to check this pride and to cut off every pretense for strife on the part of the impious, says, God is faithful towards all who love him. He admonishes us thus: God is never severe unless when provoked by the sins of men; as if he had said, God’s covenant is firm in itself; when men violate it, it is not surprising if God withdraws from his promises and departs from his agreement, on perceiving himself treated with perfidy and distrust. The people, therefore, are here obliquely condemned, while Daniel testifies to God’s constancy in keeping his promises, if men on their part act with good faith towards him. On the whole, he shews how the people were in tumult, when God altered his usual course of kind and beneficent treatment, and put in force instead his severest vengeance, when the people were expelled from the land of Canaan which was their perpetual inheritance. Daniel here explains how all blame must be removed from God, as the people had revolted from him, and by their perfidy had violated their compact. We see, therefore, how he throws the blame of all their calamities upon the people themselves, and thus absolves God from all blame and all unjust corer, labors. Besides, the Prophet shews how the special object of the worship of God is to induce us to love him. For many observe God’s law after the manner of slaves; but we ought to remember this passage, God loveth a cheerful giver. (<470907>2 Corinthians 9:7.) When, therefore, hypocrites are violently drawn towards obedience, the Prophet here distinguishes between the true worshippers of God and those who discharge their duty only in a perfunctory manner:, and not from the heart. He asserts the principle of worshipping God to be a diligent love of him, and this sentiment frequently occurs in the writings of Moses. (<051012>Deuteronomy 10:12.) We must hold, therefore, the impossibility of pleasing God by obedience, unless it proceeds from a sincere and free affection of the mind. This is the very first rule in God’s worship. We must love him; we must be prepared to devote ourselves entirely to obedience to him, and to the willing performance of whatever he requires from us. As it is said in the Psalms, (<19B924>Psalm 119:24) Thy law is my delight. And again, in title same Psalm, David states God’s law to be precious to him beyond gold and silver, yea, pleasing, and sweet beyond even honey. (<19B972>Psalm 119:72, 103.) Unless we love God we have no reason for concluding that he will approve of any of our actions: all our duties will become corrupt before him, unless they proceed from the fountain of liberal affection towards him. Hence the Prophet adds, To those who keep his statutes. External observance will never benefit us, unless the love of God precede them. But we must notice this also in its turn; — God cannot be sincerely loved by us unless all our outward members follow up this affection of the soul. Our hands and all that belong to us will be kept steady to their duty, if this spontaneous love flourish within our hearts. For if any one asserts his love of God a thousand times over, all will[ be discovered to be vain and fallacious, unless the whole life correspond with it. We can never separate love and obedience It now follows: —

<270905>Daniel 9:5-7

5. We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts, and from thy judgments:

5. Peccavimus, et inique egimus et imprope nos gessimus, et rebellavimus, et recessimus a praeceptis tuis, et judicii tuis. f471

6. Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.

6. Et non auscultavimus servis tuis prophetis, qui loquuti sunt in nomine tuo ad reges nostros, principes nostros, et partres nostros, et ad populum terrae.

7. O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee.

7. Tibi domine justitia, et nobis pudor vultus, f472 scuti hodie viro Jehudah, f473 et incolis Jerusalem, et toti Israeli, propinquis, et longinquis, in omnibus terris, quo expulsisti eos, ob transgressiones, f474 quibus transgressi sunt contra te.

 

Daniel here continues his confession of sin. As we have already stated, he ought to begin here, because we must remark in general the impossibility of our pleasing God by our prayers, unless we approach him as criminals, and repose all our hopes on his mercy. But there was a special reason for the extraordinary nature of the Prophet’s prayers, and his use of fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. This was the usual method of confession by which Daniel united himself with the rest of the people, for rite purpose of testifying throughout all ages the justice of the judgment which God had exercised in expelling the Israelites from the promised land, and totally disinheriting them. Daniel, therefore, insists upon this point. Here we may notice, in the first place, how prayers are not rightly conceived, unless founded on faith and repentance, and thus not being according to law, they cannot find either grace or favor before God. But great weight is to be attached to the phrases where Daniel uses more than a single word in saying the people acted impiously. He puts wnafj, chetanu, we have sinned, in the first place, as the word does not imply any kind of fault, but rather a serious crime or offense. We, therefore, have sinned; then we have done wickedly; afterwards we have acted impiously; for [r, reshegn, is stronger than afj, cheta. We have done wickedly, we have been rebellious, says he, in transgressing thy statutes and commandments. Whence this copiousness of expression, unless Daniel wished to stimulate himself and the whole people to penitence? For although we are easily induced to confess ourselves guilty before God, yet scarcely one in a hundred is affected with serious remorse; and those who excel others, and purely and reverently fear God, are still very dull and cold in recounting their sins. First of all, they acknowledge scarcely one in a hundred; next, of those which do come into their minds, they do not fully estimate their tremendous guilt, but rather extenuate their magnitude; and, although they perceive themselves worthy of a hundred deaths, yet they are not touched with their bitterness, and fear to humble themselves as they ought, nay, they are scarcely displeased with themselves, and do not loathe their own iniquities. Daniel, therefore, does not accumulate so many words in vain, when he wishes to confess his own sins and those of the people. Let us learn then how far we are from penitence, while we only verbally acknowledge our guilt; then let us perceive the need we have of many incentives to rouse us up from our sloth; for although any one may feel great terrors and tremble before God’s judgments, yet all those feelings of dread vanish away too soon. It therefore becomes necessary to fix God’s fear in our hearts with some degree of violence. Daniel shews us this when using the phrase, The people have sinned; they have acted unjustly; they have conducted themselves wickedly and become rebellious, and declined from the statutes and commandments of God. This doctrine, therefore, must be diligently noticed, because, as I have said, all men think they have discharged their duty to God, if they mildly profess themselves guilty before him, and acknowledge their fault in a single word. But as real repentance is a sacred thing, it is a matter of far greater moment than a fiction of this kind. Although the multitude do not perceive how they are only deceiving themselves when they confess a fault, yet in the meantime they are only trifling with God like children, while some say they are but men, and others shelter themselves in the crowd of offenders. “What could I do? I am but a man; I have only followed the example of the many.” Lastly, if we examine carefully the confessions of men in. general, we shall always find some latent hypocrisy, and that there are very few who prostrate themselves before God as they ought. We must understand, therefore, this confession of Daniel’s as stimulating himself and others to the fear of God, and as laying great stress upon the sins of the people, that every one may feel for himself real and serious alarms.

Then he shews how impiously, and wickedly, and perfidiously the Israelites had rebelled, and how they had declined from God’s statutes and commandments. Daniel enlarges upon the people’s fault, as they had no pretext for their ignorance after they had been instructed in God’s law. They were like a man who stumbles in broad daylight. He surely is without excuse who raises his eyes to heaven or closes them while he walks, or casts himself forward with blind impulse, for if he fall he will find no one to pity him. So Daniel here enlarges upon the people’s crime, for the law of God was like a lamp pointing out the path so clearly that they were willfully and even maliciously blind. (<19B9A5>Psalm 119:105.) Unless they had closed their eyes, they could not err while God faithfully pointed out the way in which they ought to follow and persevere. This is the first point. But we ought to gather another doctrine from this passage, namely, there is no reason why men should turn away entirely from God, even if they have transgressed his commands, because, although. they please both themselves and others, and think they have obtained the good opinion of the whole world, yet this will avail men nothing if they decline from God’s commandments and statutes. Whoever, therefore, has the law in his hands, and turns aside in any direction, although he may use the eloquence of all the rhetoricians, yet no defense will be available. This perfidy is surely without excuse — to disobey the Almighty as soon as he shews us what he approves and what he requires. Then, when he forbids anything, if we turn aside ever so little from his teaching, we are perfidious and wicked, rebellious and apostate. Lastly, this passage proves that there is no rule of holy, pious, and sober living except a. complete performance of God’s commandments. For this reason he puts statutes and judgments to shew that the people did not sin in ignorance. He might have concluded the sentence in one word: we have departed from thy commandments; but he joins judgment to commands. And why so? To point out how easy and clear and sufficiently familiar was God’s institution, if the Israelites had only been teachable. Here we may notice the frequent recurrence of this repetition. The unskillful think these synonyms are heaped together without an object, when statutes, judgments, laws, and precepts are used, but the Holy Spirit uses them to assure us that nothing shall be wanting to us if we inquire at the mouth of God. He instructs us perfectly in regulating the whole course of our lives, and thus our errors become knowing and willful, when God’s law has been clearly set before us, which contains in itself a perfect rule of doctrine for our guidance.

He afterward, adds, We have not obeyed thy servants the Prophets who have spoken in, thy name. We ought also diligently to notice this, because the impious often wickedly fail to discern the presence of God, whenever he does not openly descend from heaven and speak to them by angels; and so their impiety is increased throughout all ages. Thus, in these days, many think themselves to have escaped by boasting in the absence of any revelation from heaven: the whole subject, they say, is full of controversy; the whole world is in a state of confusion; and what do the teachers of the Church mean by promoting such strife among each other? Then they boast and think as they please, and are blind of their own accord. But Daniel here shews how no turning to God is of the slightest avail, unless he is attended to when he sends his prophets, because all who despise those prophets who speak it the name of the Lord are perfidious and apostate, wicked and rebellious. We see, then, the suitability of this language of Daniel, and the necessity of this explanation: The people were wicked, unjust, rebellious, and impious, because they did not obey the prophets. He does not assert that this wicked, impious, contumacious, and perfidious character of the people arises from their not listening to God thundering from heaven, or to his angels when sent to them, but because they did not obey his prophets. Besides this, he calls the prophets servants of God who speak in his name. He distinguishes between true and false prophets; for we know how many impostors formerly abused this title in the ancient Church; as in these days the disturbers of our churches falsely pretend to the name of God, and by this audacity many of the simple are deceived. Daniel, therefore, distinguishes here between the true and false prophets, who everywhere boast in their divine election to the office of teachers. He speaks here of the effect, treating all these boastings as vain and foolish, for we are not ignorant of the manner in which all Satan’s ministers transform themselves into angels of light. (<471114>2 Corinthians 11:14.) Thus the evil as well as the good speak in God’s name; that is, the impious no less than the righteous teachers put forth the name of God; but here, as we have said, Daniel refers to the effect and the matter itself, as the phrase is. Thus when Christ says, When two or three are gathered together in my name, (<401820>Matthew 18:20,) this is not to be applied to such deceptions as are observable in the Papacy, when they proudly use God’s name as approving certain assemblies of theirs. It is no new thing, then, for a deceiving Church to hide its baseness under this mask. But when Christ says, Where two or three are assembled in my name, this refers to true and sincere affection. So also Daniel in this passage says, True prophets speak in God’s name; not only because they shelter themselves under this name for the sake of its authority, but because they have solid proofs of the exercise of God’s authority, and are really conscious of their true vocation.

He afterwards adds, To our kings, our nobles, our fathers, and all the people of the land. Here Daniel lays prostrate every high thing in this world with the view of exalting God only, and to prevent any pride rising in the world to obscure his glory, as it otherwise would do. Here, then, he implicates kings, princes, and fathers in the same guilt; as if he had said, all are to be condemned without exception before God. This, again, must be diligently noticed. For we see how the common people think everything permitted to them which is approved by their kings and counselors. For in the common opinion of men, on what does the whole foundation of right and wrong rest, except on the arbitrary will and lust of kings? Whatever pleases kings and their counselors is esteemed lawful, sacred, and beyond all controversy; and thus God is excluded from his supreme dominion. As, therefore, men thus envelop themselves in clouds, and willingly involve themselves in darkness, and prevent their approach to God, Daniel here expresses how inexcusable all men are who do not obey the Prophets, even if a thousand kings should obstruct them, and the splendor of the whole world should dazzle them. By such clouds as these God’s majesty can never be obscured; nay more, this cannot offer the slightest impediment to God’s dominion or hinder the course of his doctrine. These points might be treated more copiously: I am only briefly explaining the Prophet’s meaning, and the kind of fruit which ought to be gathered from his words. Finally, it is a remarkable testimony in favor of the Prophet’s doctrine, when kings and their counselors are compelled to submit, and all the loftiness of the world is brought under subjection to the prophets, as God says in Jeremiah, (<240110>Jeremiah 1:10) Behold! I have set thee above kingdoms, and above the empires of this world, to destroy and to build up, to plant and to root out. There God asserts the authority of his teaching, and shews its superiority to everything in the world; so that all who wish to be free from it, as if endowed with some peculiar privilege, are both foolish and ridiculous. This, then, must be noticed in the Prophet’s words, when he says, God spoke by his prophets to kings, princes, and fathers. Respecting the “fathers,” we see how frivolous is the excuse of those who use their fathers as a shield in opposing God. For here Daniel unites both fathers and children in the same guilt, and shews how all equally deserve condemnation, when they do not listen to God’s prophets, or rather to God speaking by means of his prophets.

He next subjoins, To thee, O Lord, belongs righteousness, and to us confusion of face, as it is at this day. The meaning is, God’s wrath, which he manifests towards his people, is just, and nothing else remains but for the whole people to fall down in confusion, and candidly acknowledge itself deservedly condemned. But this contrast which unites opposite clauses, ought also to be noticed, because we gather from the Prophet’s words that God can neither be esteemed just nor his equity be sufficiently illustrious, unless when the mouths of men are closed, and all are covered and buried in disgrace, and confess themselves subject to just accusation, as Paul also says, Let God be just, and let all men’s mouths be stopped, (<450304>Romans 3:4, 26;) that is, let men cease to cavil and to seek any alleviation of their guilty their subterfuges. While, therefore, men are thus cast down and prostrate, God’s true glory is illustrated. The Prophet now utters the same instruction by joining these two clauses, of opposite meaning’s. Righteousness is to thee, but shame to us. Thus we cannot praise God, and especially while he chastises us and punishes us for our sins, unless we become ashamed of our sins, and feel ourselves destitute of all righteousness. Lastly, when we both feel and confess the equity of our condemnation, and when this shame seizes upon our minds, then we begin to confess God’s justice; for whoever cannot bear this self-condemnation, displays his willingness to contend against God. Although hypocrites apparently bear witness to God’s justice, yet whenever they claim anything as due to their own worthiness, they at the same time derogate from their judge, because it is clear that God’s righteousness cannot shine forth unless we bury ourselves in shame and confusion. According as at this day, says Daniel. He adds this to confirm his teaching; as if he had said, the impiety of the people is sufficiently conspicuous from their punishment. Meanwhile, he holds the principle that the people were justly chastised; for hypocrites, when compelled to acknowledge God’s power, still cry out against his equity. Daniel joins both points together: thus, God has afflicted his people, and this very fact proves them to be wicked and perfidious, impious and rebellious. As it is at this day, meaning, I will not complain of any immoderate rigor, I will not say thou hast treated my people cruelly; for even if the punishments which thou hast inflicted on us are severe, yet thy righteousness shines forth in them: I therefore confess how fully we deserve them all. To a man of Judah, says he. Here Daniel seems to wish purposely to strip the mask off the Israelites, under which they thought to hide themselves. For it was an honorable title to be called a Jew, an inhabitant of Jerusalem, an Israelite. It was a sacred race, and Jerusalem was a kind of sanctuary and kingdom of God. But now, says he, though we have hitherto been elevated aloft so as to surpass the whole world, and though God has deigned to bestow upon us so many favors and benefits, yet confusion of face is upon us: let our God be just. Meanwhile, let all these empty boastings cease, such as our deriving our origin from holy fathers and dwelling in a sacred land; let us no longer cling to these things, says he, because they will profit us nothing before God. But I see that I am already too prolix.

PRAYER.

Grant, Almighty God, as no other way of access to thee is open for us except through unfeigned humility, that we may often learn to abase ourselves with feelings of true repentance. May we be so displeased with ourselves as not to be satisfied with a single confession of our iniquities; but may we continue in the same state of meditation, and be more and more penetrated with real grief. Then may we fly to thy mercy, prostrate ourselves before thee in silence, and acknowledge no other hope but thy pity and the intercession of thine only-begotten Son. May we be so reconciled to thee, as not only to be absolved from our sins, but also governed throughout the whole course of our life by thy Holy Spirit, until at length we enjoy the victory in every kind of contest, and arrive at that blessed rest which thou hast prepared for us by the same our Lord Jesus Christ. — Amen.


Lecture Forty-Sixth

<270908>Daniel 9:8

8. O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee.

8. Jehovah, nobis pudor faciei, regibus nostris, principibus nostris, et patribus nostris, quia peccavinus in te.

 

In this verse Daniel completes his own confession. We have stated the beginning of his prayer to be this: He threw himself before God as a criminal, with the whole people, and prayed earnestly for pardon. It was his duty to begin in this way: he had previously named the whole people; he now speaks of kings, princes, and fathers, and thus comprehends the common people. Besides, kings are accustomed to absolve themselves and those who approach their presence from all ordinary laws; wherefore Daniel uses the phrase, kings, princes, and fathers. While he treated of the people, he shewed how those at a distance, as well as those at home, were equally subject to God’s wrath, because, had he executed his vengeance equitably on all, no one was so free from wickedness as to be free from punishment. God had not driven all the Jews into either Chaldea or Assyria, and many had remained in the neighboring nations. Yet Daniel denies them any diminution of their guilt, although they had been treated more humanely by God, who had spared them some portion of their suffering. We are taught by this passage, that the crimes or guiltiness of men are not always to be estimated by the amount of their punishment. For God acts very mildly with some who deserve yet greater severity; and if he does not entirely spare us, he partially remits his rigor towards us, either to allure us to repentance, or for some reasons hitherto unknown to us. Whatever the reason may be, even if God does not openly punish us all, this ought neither to lead us to excuse ourselves, nor to ally self-indulgence, because we do not experience the same severity from God. The conclusion to be drawn is this, all the Israelites are justly afflicted, because, from first to last, all have conducted themselves impiously. For Daniel repeats the word which does not signify declension merely, but to act with gross wickedness; as if he had said, the Israelites deserved no common punishment, and thus it should not surprise us when God executes such dreadful vengeance against them. It follows: —

<270909>Daniel 9:9

9. To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against him.

9. Domino Deo nostro miserationes, et veniae, f475 quamvis rebelles fuerimus in ipsum. f476

 

Daniel here betakes himself to God’s mercy as to a sacred asylum; for it is not sufficient to acknowledge and confess our sins, unless we are supported by a confidence of our obtaining pardon from God’s mercy. We see numbers who use great prolixity in bearing witness to the truth, that they richly deserve all kinds of punishment; but no good result arises from this, because despair overwhelms them and plunges them into an abyss. Recognition of a fault is in truth without the slightest profit, unless with the addition of the hope of pardon. Daniel, therefore, after candidly confessing the treatment which the whole people had received from God to have been deserved, although so severe and harsh, still embraces his pity. According to the common saying, this is like a drowning man catching at a straw. We observe also how David makes use of the same principle. There is forgiveness with thee that thou mayest be feared. (<19D004>Psalm 130:4.) And this moderation must be diligently marked, because Satan either lulls us into torpid security, or else so agitates us as utterly to absorb our minds in sorrow. These two artifices of Satan are sufficiently known to us. Hence that moderation which I have mentioned must be maintained, lest we should grow torpid in the midst of our vices, and so indulge in contempt of God as to induce forget-fullness of him. Then, on the other hand, we ought not to be frightened, and thus close against us the gate of hope and pardon. Daniel, therefore, here follows the best arrangement, and prescribes the same rule for us. For, in confessing the people’s wickedness, he does not entirely throw away the hope of pardon, but supports himself and others with this consolation — God is merciful. He rests this hope of pardon on the very nature of God; as if he had said, there is nothing so peculiar to God as pity, and hence we ought never to despair. To God, says he, belong mercies and forgiveness. No doubt Daniel took this phrase from Moses, especially from that remarkable and memorable passage where God pronounces himself a severe avenger, yet full of mercy, inclined to clemency and pardon, and exercising much forbearance. (<023406>Exodus 34:6.) As, therefore, Daniel held the impossibility of God putting away his affectionate feelings of pity, he takes this as the main point of his teaching, and it becomes the chief foundation for his hopes and his petition for pardon. He argues thus, To God belong loving kindnesses; therefore, as he can never deny himself, he will always be merciful. This attribute is inseparable from his eternal essence; and however we have rebelled against him, yet he will never either cast away nor disdain our prayers.

We may conclude from this passage that no prayers are lawful or rightly composed unless they consist of these two members. First, all who approach God ought to cast themselves down before him, and to acknowledge themselves deserving of a thousand deaths; next, to enable them to emerge from the abyss of despair, and to raise themselves to the hope of pardon, they should call upon God without fear or doubt, and with firm and stable confidence. This reliance upon God can have no other support than the nature of God himself, and to this he has borne ample testimony. With respect to the close of the verse, it may be explained in two ways: Because, or although, we are rebellious against him. I have stated that I rather approve of taking the particle yk, ki, in the sense of opposition. Although we have rebelled against God, still he will be entreated, and never will be unmindful of his pity. If any one prefers taking it in a causal sense, it will suit tolerably well; as if Daniel had said, the people have no other hope left but the mercy of God, as they have been convicted of sin over and over again. Because we have acted wickedly towards him, what is left for us but to throw ourselves with all our trust upon the clemency and goodness of God, since he has borne witness to his being propitious to sinners who truly and heartily implore his favor? It now follows: —

<270910>Daniel 9:10

10. Neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.

10. Et non auscultavimus voci Jehovae Dei nostri, ut ambularemus in legibus ejus, quas proposuit coram facie nostra per manum servorum suorum prophetarum.

 

Here, again, Daniel shews how the Israelites provoked God’s anger against them by the wickedness of their conduct. He points out one special kind of sin and method of acting wickedly, namely, despising the teaching which proceeded from God as its author, and was expounded to them by his prophets. We must diligently notice this, as we have previously advised; for although no one is excusable before God by the pretext of ignorance, yet we perceive how our wickedness is aggravated when we knowingly and willfully make a point of rejecting what God commands and teaches. Daniel, therefore, enlarges upon the people’s crime by adding the circumstance, they would not hear the prophets. Everything which would have been a fault in the Chaldeans or Assyrians was the most grievous wickedness in the elect people. Their obstinacy was the more provoking, because while God had pointed out the way by his prophets, they had turned their backs upon him. We have not heard. Clearly enough this verse is added by way of explanation, as Daniel might express the reason for their wickedness. Therefore he calls the laws of God “doctrine,” which consists of many parts; for it is certain that nothing was omitted by God which was useful to be known, and thus he had embraced the whole perfection of justice in his discourse. He is treating here not only the law of Moses, but the teaching of the prophets, as the words clearly point out; and the noun hrwt torah, “law,” is to be taken for “doctrine.” It is just as if Daniel had said, God was rejected when he wished to rule his people by his prophets. But the plural number seems to denote what I have staffed, namely, that the perfection of doctrine was comprehended in the prophets; for God omitted nothing while he completed the revelation of whatever was needful for the guidance of the life. Yet this was rendered entirely useless by the perverseness of the people’s nature, apparent. in their rejection of all God’s laws.

Daniel confirms this sentiment by adding, Those laws were set before the people. This shews how everything was supplied to the people, since God had familiarly delivered to them whatever was needful for the utmost degree of piety and justice. For this phrase, to put anything before one’s face, means to deliver all useful knowledge openly, perspicuously, and lucidly, and with great familiarity and skillfulness. Thus nothing is left doubtful or complicated, nothing remains obscure, unconnected, or confused. As, therefore, God had unfolded the whole scope of righteousness by his law, the people’s impiety was the more severe and detestable, because they would not receive benefit from such familiar instruction. The Prophet intends by these words to shew how such willful sinners were worthy of double punishment. They are first convicted of contumacy because they had no pretext for their ignorance; they made an open and furious assault upon God, for although the way was pointed out to them, yet they turned aside in all directions, and threw themselves headlong. We must remember what I have previously touched upon, namely, the value of an external ministry, because we are aware how the ancient people, when rebellious against the prophets, were accustomed to pretend that they did not really despise God. As, therefore, hypocrites think their sins are concealed by a covering of this kind, Daniel clearly expresses that God is despised in his prophets, although he neither descends from heaven nor sends down his angels. And this is the meaning of the expression, the prophets were the servants of God; it declares how they taught nothing either rashly or in their own name or by their own impulse, but faithfully executed the Almighty’s commands. It follows: —

<270911>Daniel 9:11

11. Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.

11. Et totus Israel transgressi sunt legem tuam, et defecerunt, f477 ne auscultarent voci tuae. Ideo, f478 effesa est super nos, f479 maledicto, f480 et jusjurandum, quod scriptum est in lege Mosis sevei Dei, quai peccavimus contra ipsum.

 

Daniel again confirms what I formerly said concerning the punishment being most justly inflicted upon the people. They had no cause for the slightest complaint of any excess of severity on the part of God. He now says, All Israel had sinned. He does not enumerate the separate ranks of the people as he did before, but he pronounces all to be transgressors in one single word, as they had broken God’s law from the least to the greatest. He uses sometimes the second and sometimes the third person, as a mark of his vehemence and ardor, since Daniel now speaks for the whole world, and then prostrates himself before God, and prepares to approach his tribunal. It is just as if at one time he were to confess himself guilty before God and angels, and next to ascend a theater and testify to his own infamy and that of the whole people before all mankind. In revolting, he says, so as not to hear. By these words Daniel expresses the determined obstinacy of the people, implying — this was not occasioned by either error or ignorance; nay, even sloth was not the cause of Israel’s willful blindness and inattention to God’s precepts, but was only the beginning of this act of rebellion. In revolting, therefore, so as not to hear thy voice. We now understand the Prophet’s meaning. He was not content with the simple condemnation of the people, but he wished to mark distinctly the various forms of rebellion, to impress the Israelites with a further sense of the grievous manner in which they had provoked God’s wrath. Not only had they departed from the right course through negligence or folly, but they had knowingly transgressed God’s law. We must carefully notice this. Although hypocrites testify themselves to be prepared for obedience, if only they can be quite sure that God is speaking to them, yet they are certainly held back by some hidden depravity from coming openly to the light. And whenever God’s word is put before us, whoever does not prove himself of a docile disposition, even if he should swear a hundred times over that he is perplexed and must decline embracing the teaching proposed to him, because he is doubtful whether God speaks to him or not, he lies; and the truth of Daniel’s assertion will always be made clear; for all who do not hear God when he speaks to them are backsliders and inwardly perverse, and by the depravity of their nature place a veil before themselves which obscures their perceptions, and then their own minds prevent them from becoming obedient to God.

He next adds, For this cause the curse of which Moses had written is poured down upon us. By this circumstance he enlarges upon the people’s crime, because they had long ago been warned of the impending judgments, and yet they closed their eyes and despised both threats and instruction. This was the very height of wickedness; for the Israelites were intractable, although God stretched out his hand towards them, pointed out the way of safety, and taught them faithfully whatever was useful for them; but this only increased their perverseness, while they treated his threatenings as if utterly worthless. Besides this, they added contempt of his teaching to ridiculing his threats, as they thought either that God was deluding them when he announced by Moses his coming vengeance unless they obeyed his law, or else they imagined it all invented by Moses, and that God could not possibly execute his threats. Thus the people are convicted of desperate impiety, as they neither attended to the teaching of the Almighty nor believed in the authority of his threatenings. If a father threatens his son, or a master his servant, the vengeance will be just, as the comic poet says, Do not say you have not been warned. (Terence Ardria, Act 1:Scene 2.) As God had predicted for so many ages that the Israelites should not be unpunished if they transgressed the law, this proves how completely unmanageable they were. (<032601>Leviticus 26; <052801>Deuteronomy 28.) And when he says the curse was poured out or distilled, he confesses how the wrath of God inundated the whole people like a deluge, although it was completely under control. For God had predicted what he intended to do by the mouth of Moses, and whoever reads those curses which Moses denounces against transgressors of the law, will confess them to be by no means immoderate. When, therefore, execution really occurs, must we not acknowledge the shining forth of God’s justice without the slightest possibility of blame? I have stated that the word h[wb, shebugneh, is explained by some as an “oath,” and by others a “curse:” it properly means a curse, and is deduced from the word [wb shebugn, which seems to be taken in an extraordinary sense, because this word properly means seven., and the word derived from it means to “swear,” through the practice of bringing forward a certain number of witnesses; and hence the noun means an oath. But because a curse is often interposed, and the swearer calls God to witness against himself if he fails to perform his verbal engagement, some interpreters elicit the sense of a curse being poured out. But there may be some change of construction here, and so I willingly interpret it. The curse and the oath, then, are poured out; that is, the curse which God has sanctioned by an oath, by a figure of speech well known to grammarians under the name of hypallage. The curse, therefore, was sworn by the mouth of God himself; and we know how threats cause more terror by being confirmed by an oath, just as God, on the other hand, adds strength to the promises of his favor.

He adds afterwards, Because we have acted wickedly against him. By this expression, Daniel shortly but clearly affirms that the people have no cause for complaint, as their calamities were the result of neither accident nor chance. They might behold the very source of their evils in the law of God. had there been no predictions of this kind, the Israelites might have doubted and even disputed with themselves, as to the origin and cause of their being enslaved by their enemies, and of their being cast out with the utmost contempt and cruelty into distant lands. They might then have inquired into the causes of their evils, as if they were entirely unknown. But when the law of Moses was before their eyes, and God had therein sworn that he would perform the very threatenings just as they had happened, no further doubt could possibly remain. This, then, is the summary of Daniel’s meaning; the very denunciation of these punishments was sufficient to condemn the Israelites, because their sins were brought home to them over and over again, when God fulfilled against them, what he had formerly predicted by his servant Moses. It follows, —

<270912>Daniel 9:12

12. And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem.

12. Et stabilivit sermonem suum, quem loquutus fuerat super nos, et super judices, f481 ut adduceret super nos malum magnum quod non factum est sub toto coelo, sicut factum est f482 in Jerusalem.

 

Daniel pursues the same sentiment, shewing how the Israelites had no cause whatever for expostulating with God on account of their being so heavily afflicted, and no reason for doubting either its origin or intention. For now all had come to pass exactly as it had been long ago predicted. God, therefore, has stirred up his word against us; as if he had said, there is no reason why we should strive with God, for we behold his truthfulness in the punishments which he has inflicted upon us, and his threats are no mere vain scarecrows, or fabulous inventions manufactured to frighten children. God now really proves how seriously he had spoken. What then is the use of our turning our backs upon him, or why should we seek vain excuses when God’s truthfulness shines brightly in our destruction? Do we wish to deprive God of his truthfulness? surely whatever our earnestness we shall never succeed. Let, therefore, this suffice to condemn us, — God has predicted everything which occurs, and thus effectually and experimentally proves himself an avenger. God, therefore, ratified his word; that is, God’s word would have remained without the slightest efficacy and rigor, unless this curse had been suspended over our head; but while we lie prostrate and almost buried under our calamities, God’s word is borne aloft; that is, God makes his truthfulness conspicuously visible, which otherwise would scarcely be perceptible at all. Unless God punished the wickedness of men, who would not treat the threatening of his law as childish? But when he demonstrates by certain proofs the very best reasons for terrifying mankind, efficacy and rigor are immediately imparted to his words. Besides this, Daniel here intends to cast off all subterfuges, and to cause the people candidly to acknowledge, and really to feel themselves justly afflicted. He says, against us and against our judges, who judged us. Again, Daniel throws down all haughtiness of the flesh, with the view of exalting God alone and of preventing any mortal splendor from obscuring the authority of the Law. For we know how the common people think they have a shield for the defense of all their crimes, when they can quote the example of kings and judges. At this very day, whenever we argue against the superstitions of the Papacy, they say, “Well! if we do make a mistake, yet God has set over us both kings and bishops who rule us after their manner, why then should we be blamed when we have God’s command for following those who are endued with power and dignity?” As, therefore, the vulgar generally catch at a subterfuge like this, Daniel again affirms, that although those who transgress God’s law are endowed with great worldly authority, yet they are not exempt from either blame or punishment, nor can the ordinary multitude be excused if they follow their example. Therefore, as he had spoken by Moses against our judges who judged us, he says; that is, although power had been conferred upon them for ruling us, yet the whole ordination of it is from God: yet after they had utterly abused their government, and violated God’s justice, and thus had endeavored to draw down God, if possible, from his elevation, Daniel asserts that their loftiness will by no means shelter them from the consequences of transgression.

He afterwards adds, To bring upon us a great evil, which has never happened under the whole heavens, as it has now occurred at Jerusalem. Here Daniel foresaw an objection which had some slight force in it. Although God had deservedly punished the Israelites, yet when he displayed his anger against them more severely than against other nations, he might seem forgetful of his equity. Daniel here removes all appearance of incongruity, even if God is more severe against his elect people then against profane nations, because the impiety of this people was far greater than that of all others on account of their ingratitude, contumacy, and impracticable obstinacy, as we have already said. Since the Israelites surpassed all nations in malice, ingratitude, and all kinds of iniquity, Daniel here declares how thoroughly their disastrous afflictions were deserved. Again, we are here reminded, whenever God severely chastises his Church, of that principle to which we must return, namely, our impiety is the more detestable to God the nearer he approaches us; and the kinder he is to us, the more chargeable we are, unless in our turn we prove ourselves grateful and obedient. This state of things ought not to seem troublesome to us, as vengeance begins at the house of God, and he puts forth examples of his wrath against his own people far more tremendous than against others; this, I say, we ought not to take ill, as I have already explained the reason of it. It does not surprise us to find the Gentiles groping in darkness, but when God shines upon us and we resist him with determined willfulness, we are doubly impious. This comparison, therefore, must be noticed, as evil was poured out upon Jerusalem; meaning, no similar punishment was inflicted upon other nations, for what happened to Jerusalem, says Daniel, never occurred under the whole heaven. It follows, —

<270913>Daniel 9:13

13. As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.

13. Sicuti scriptum est in lege Mosis, totum malum hoc venit super nos, et non deprecati sumus faciem Jehovae Dei nostri, ut reverteremur ab iniquitatibus nostris, et attenti essemus ad veritatum tuam.

 

He repeats what he had already said, without any superfluity, shewing how God’s judgments are proved by their effects, as the law of Moses contains within it all the penalties which the Israelites endured. As, therefore, so manifest an agreement existed between the law of God and the people’s experience, they ought not to become restive and to have sought every kind of subterfuge without profit. By this alone God sufficiently proved himself a just avenger of their crimes, because he had predicted many ages before what he had afterwards fully carried out. This is the object of the repetition, when Daniel says the people felt the justice of the penalties denounced against them in the law of Moses, for in the meantime he adds, we have not deprecated the face of God. Here he severely blames the people’s hardness, because even when beaten with stripes they never grew wise. It is said — fools require calamities to teach them wisdom. This, therefore, was the height of madness in the people to remain thus stubborn under the rod of the Almighty, even when he inflicted the severest blows. As the people were so obstinate in their wickedness, who does not perceive how sincerely this conduct was to be deplored? We have not deprecated, therefore, the face of our God. This passage teaches us how the Lord exercises his judgments by not utterly destroying men, but holding his final sentence in suspense, as by these means he wishes to impel men to repentance. First of all, he gently and mercifully invites both bad and good by his word, and adds also promises, with the view of enticing them; and then, when he observes them either slow or refractory, he uses threatenings with the view of arousing them from their slumber; and should threats produce no effect, he goes forth in arms and chastises the sluggishness of mankind. Should these stripes produce no improvement, the desperate character of the people becomes apparent. In this way, God complains in Isaiah of their want of soundness; the whole body of the people is subject to ulcers from the head to the sole of the foot, (<230106>Isaiah 1:6;) and yet he would lose all his labor, through their being utterly unmanageable. Daniel now asserts the existence of the same failing in the people, while he states the Israelites to be so untouched by a sense of their calamities, as never to supplicate for pardon. I cannot complete the remainder to-day.

PRAYER.

Grant, Almighty God, that we may learn seriously to consider in how many ways we become guilty before thee, especially while we daily continue to provoke thy wrath against us. May we be humbled by true and serious repentance, and fly eagerly to thee, as nothing is left to us but thy pity alone; when cast down and confounded, and reduced to nothing in ourselves, may we fly to this sacred anchor, as thou art easily entreated, and hast promised to act as a father of mercies to all sinners who seek thee. Thus may we approach thee with true penitence, and relying on thy goodness, never doubt the granting of our requests; and being freed by thy mercy from the tyranny of Satan and of sin, may we be governed by thy Holy Spirit, and so directed in the way of righteousness as to glorify thy name throughout our lives, till we arrive at that happy and immortal life which we know to be laid up in heaven for us, by Christ our Lord. — Amen.


Lecture Forty-Seventh.

IN yesterday’s Lecture we dwelt on the Prophet’s enlarging upon the people’s crime, in resisting the impression made by God’s chastisements; but now he more clearly demonstrates the kind of obstinacy displayed. For they did not turn away from their iniquities, and were not attentive to God’s truth. He had said before, we have not deprecated the anger of God. But here he expresses something more, namely, allowing the existence of some pretense to prayer, there was no real sincerity, We know how impiously hypocrites abuse God’s name, and pretend to the outward form of prayer, and even to the greatest fervor, but there is no reality in their prayers. Thus the Prophet has good reason for uniting what ought never to be separated, and then convicts the Israelites of obstinacy, because they did not flee suppliantly to God’s mercy with repentance and faith. There was, doubtless, some form of piety left among the people; but Daniel here estimates prayers according to God’s word, and thus puts these two things before us, namely, repentance and faith. We must diligently notice this. For nothing is more common than an earnest supplication for pardon when the signs of God’s wrath are apparent; this was always customary among all nations and at all times, and yet there existed neither repentance nor faith. Hence their prayers became mere falsehood and vanity. This is the meaning of the Prophet’s language when he says, We have not asked at the face of Jehovah our God, by turning away from our iniquities, (or that we may return,) and by being instructed in thy truth. Finally, we may gather from this passage what the rule of pious and acceptable prayer really is; first, we must be displeased with ourselves for our sins; next, we must regard the threats and promises of the Almighty. As to the first member of the sentence, experience teaches us how rashly many break forth into prayer, even when their evil conduct rises up professedly against God. On the one hand, they are so enraged as not to hesitate to engage in warfare with God, and yet they pray unto him, because terror seizes upon their minds and compels them to submit themselves to God. The Prophet, therefore, here shews the utter inutility of that outward shew and perverse mixture of noise and flattery, because God cannot approve of any prayers, unless they spring equally from repentance and faith. When he says, the people were not attentive to God’s truth, in my opinion this is extended equally to threats and promises, and faith apprehends both God’s pity and his judgments. For, surely, it cannot be otherwise, when terror rouses the pious to fly to God’s mercy. As, therefore, God embraces each quality in his word, as he cites all who have sinned to his own tribunal, and then gives them a hope of reconciliation, if the sinner is really converted to him; so also Daniel, by saying, the Israelites were not attentive to God’s truth, doubtless had respect to both objects, namely, their want of sufficient consideration of God’s judgments, and next, their stupidity in despising his pity when plainly set before them. On the whole, This passage shews us the impossibility of our prayers being pleasing to God, unless they flow from true repentance and faith; that is, when we heartily feel our wickedness, we then flee to God’s mercy and rely upon his promises. Hence we discover three things to be necessary to render God propitious to us; first, dissatisfaction with ourselves which occasions sorrow, through our being conscious of our sins, and of our having provoked God’s anger. This is the first point. Secondly, faith must necessarily be added. Lastly, prayer must follow as a proof of our repentance and faith. When men remain without repentance and faith, we observe how God’s name is profaned although we conceive and utter many prayers, at the very time when the two principal dispositions are entirely wanting. Now let us proceed, —

<270914>Daniel 9:14

14. Therefore hath the Lord watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the Lord our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice.

14. Et vigilavit Jehovah super malum, et immisit illud f483 spuer nos: quai justus est Jehovah Deus noster in omnibus operibus suis quae fecit, hoc est, facit, et non auscultavimus voci ejus.

 

Daniel confirms what he had formerly said respecting the slaughter which afflicted the Israelites not being the offspring of chance, but of the certain and remarkable judgment of God. Hence he uses the word rq, seked, which signifies to watch and to apply the mind attentively to anything. It is properly used of the guards of cities, who keep watch both by night and by day. This phrase does not appear to me to imply haste, but rather continual carefulness. God often uses this metaphor of his watching to chastise men who are far too eager to rush into sin. We are familiar with the great intemperance of mankind, and their disregard of all moderation whenever the lusts of the flesh seize upon them. God on the other hand say’s he will not be either slothful or neglectful in correcting this intemperance. The reason for this metaphor is expressed in the forty-fourth chapter of Jeremiah, where men are said to burst forth and to be carried away by their appetites, and then God is continually on the watch till the time of his vengeance arrives. I have mentioned how this word denotes rather continual diligence than hasty swiftness; and the Prophet seems here to imply that although God had endured the people’s wickedness, yet he had at length really performed his previous threatenings, and was always on the watch, and rendering it impossible for the people to escape his judgments upon the wickedness in which they indulged. Therefore hath Jehovah closely attended to the calamity, and caused it to come upon us, says he. With the view of comprehending the Prophet’s intention more fully, we must notice what God pronounces by Jeremiah in the Lamentations, (<250338>Lamentations 3:38,) where he accuses the people of sloth, because they did not acknowledge the justice of the punishments which they suffered; he blames them in this way. Who is he who denies both good and evil to proceed from the mouth of God; as if he were pronouncing a curse against those who are ignorant of the origin of calamities from God, when he chastises the people. This sentiment is not confined to a single passage. For God often inveighs against that stupidity which is born with mankind, and leads them to attribute every event to fortune, and to neglect the hand of the smiter. (<230913>Isaiah 9:13.) This kind of teaching is to be met with everywhere in the prophets, who shew how nothing can be worse than to treat God’s judgments as if they were accidents under the influence of chance. This is the reason why Daniel insists so much upon this point. We know also what God denounces in his law: If ye have walked against me rashly, I also will rashly walk against you, (<032627>Leviticus 26:27, 28;) that is, if ye do not cease to attribute to fortune whatever evil ye suffer, I will rush against you with closed eyes, and will strive with you with similar rashness; as if he had said, If ye cannot distinguish between fortune and my judgments, I will afflict you on all sides, both on the right hand and on the left, without the slightest discretion; as if I were a drunken man, according. to the expression, With the perverse, thou wilt be perverse. For this reason Daniel now confesses, God watched over the calamity, so as to bring down all those afflictions by which the people was oppressed.

In this passage we are taught to recognize God’s providence in both prosperity and adversity, for the purpose of stirring us up to be grateful for his benefits, while his punishments ought to produce humility. For when any one explains these things by fortune and chance, he thereby proves his ignorance of the existence of God, or at least of the character of the Deity whom we worship. For what is left for God if we rob him of his providence? It is sufficient here just to touch on these points which are often occurring, and of which we usually hear something every day. It is sufficient for the exposition of this passage to observe how the Prophet incidentally opposes God’s judgment and providence to all notions of chance.

He next adds, Jehovah our God is just in all his works. In this clause the Prophet confirms his former teaching, and the phrase, God is just, appears like rendering a reason for his dealings; for the nature of God supplies a reason why it becomes impossible for anything to happen by the blind impulse of fortune. God sits as a judge in heaven; whence these two ideas are directly contrary to each other. Thus if one of the following assertions is made, the other is at the same time denied; if God is the judge of the world, fortune has no place in its government; and, whatever is attributed to fortune is abstracted from God’s justice. Thus we have a confirmation of our former sentence by the use of contraries or opposites; for we must necessarily ascribe to God’s judgment both good and evil, both adversity and prosperity, if he governs the world by his providence, and exercises the office of judge. And if we incline in the least degree to fortune, then God’s judgment and providence will cease to be acknowledged. Meanwhile, Daniel not only attributes power to God, but also celebrates his justice; as if he had said, he does not arbitrarily govern the world without any rule of justice or equity, but he is just. We must not suppose the existence of any superior law to bind the Almighty; he is a law unto himself, and his will is the rule of all justice; yet we must lay down this point; God does not reign as a tyrant over the world, while in the perfection of his equity, he performs some things which seem to us absurd, only because our minds cannot ascend high enough to embrace a reason only partially apparent, and almost entirely hidden and incomprehensible in the judgments of God. Daniel, therefore, wished to express this by these words, Jehovah our God, says he, is just in all the works which he performs. The meaning is, the people would not have been so severely chastised and afflicted with so many miserable calamities, unless they had provoked God’s wrath; this might be easily collected from the threatenings which God had denounced many ages beforehand, and which he at that time proved in real truth to be in no degree frivolous. Next, a second part is added, as not only God’s power but. his justice shines forth in the slaughter of the people; and I have touched briefly on each of these points, as far as it was necessary for explanation. But we must notice the Prophet’s allusion in these words to those numerous trials which had fallen upon the faithful for the purpose of proving their faith. They perceived themselves the most despised and miserable of mortals; the peculiar and sacred people of God was suffering under the greatest reproach and detestation, although God had adopted them by his law with the intention of their excelling all other people. While, therefore, they perceived themselves drowned in that deep whirlpool of calamities and disgrace, what would they suppose, except that God had deceived them, or that his covenant was utterly annihilated? Daniel, therefore, establishes the justice of God in all his works for the purpose of meeting this temptation, and of confirming the pious in their confidence, and of inducing them to fly to God in the extremity of their calamities.

He adds, as a reason, Because they did not listen to his voice. Here, again, he points out the crime of the people who had not transgressed through ignorance or error, but had purposely taken up arms against God. Whenever God’s will is once made known to us, we have no further excuse for ignorance; for our open defiance of the Almighty arises from our being led away by the lusts of the flesh. And hence we gather how very detestable is the guilt of all who do not obey God’s voice whenever he deigns to teach us, and who do not instantly acquiesce in his word. It now follows, —

<270915>Daniel 9:15-17

15. And now, Lord our God, that hast brought thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten thee renown, as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly.

15. Et nunc Domine Deus noster, qui eduxisti populum tuum e terra Aegypt cum manu forti, et fecisti, comparasti, tibi nomen secundum diem hanc, f484 peccavimus, impie egimus.

16. O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.

16. Domine secundum omnes justitias tuas avertatur, quaeso, ira tua, et excandescentia tua ab urbe tua Jerusalem, monte sanctitatis tuae: quoniam ob peccata nostra, et ob iniquitates, f485 patrum nostrorom, Jerusalem, et populus tuus est in probum cunctis vicinis, f486 circuitibus nostris. f487

17. Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake.

17. Et nunc audias, Deus noster, precationem servi tua, et orationem ejus atque illumina faciem tuam f488 super sanctuarium tuum quod vastatum est, vel, desolatum, propter Dominum.

 

After Daniel has sufficiently confessed the justice of those judgments which God had inflicted upon the people, he again returns to beg for pardon. First, he would conciliate favor for himself; next, he would stir up the minds of the pious to confidence, and so he sets before them that proof of grace which ought to avail to support the minds of the pious even to the end of the world. For when God led his people out of Egypt, he did not set before them any momentary benefit merely, but he bore witness to the adoption of the race of Abraham on the condition of his being their perpetual Savior. Therefore, whenever God wishes to gather together those who have been dispersed, and to raise their minds from a state of despair to cheerful hope, he reminds them of his being their Redeemer. I am that God, says he, who led you out of Egypt. (<031145>Leviticus 11:45, and often elsewhere.) God not only commends his own power in such passages, but denotes the object of their redemption; for he then received his people under his care on the very ground of never ceasing to act towards them with the love and anxiety of a father. And when in their turn such anxiety seized upon the faithful as to lead them to apprehend their own utter desertion by God, they are in the habit of seizing upon this shield — God did not lead our fathers out of Egypt in vain. Daniel now follows up this reasoning-Thou, O Lord our God, says he, who hast led forth thy people; as if he had said, he called upon God, because by one single proof he had testified to all ages the sacred character of the race of Abraham. We observe, then, how he stirs up himself and all the rest of the pious to prayer, because by laying this foundation, he could both complain familiarly, and fearlessly request of God to pity his people, and to put an end to their calamities. We now understand the Prophet’s meaning, when he says, the people were led forth from Egypt.

He afterwards adds another cause, God then acquired renown for himself, as the event evidently displayed. He here joins God’s power with his pity, implying, when the people were led forth, it was not only a specimen of paternal favor towards the family of Abraham, but also an exhibition of divine power. Whence it follows, his people could not be cast off without also destroying the remembrance of that mighty power by which God had acquired for himself renown. And the same sentiment often occurs in the prophets when they use the argument: — If this people should perish, what would prevent the extinction of thy glory, and thus whatever thou hadst conferred upon this people would be buried in oblivion? So, therefore, Daniel now says, By bringing thy people from the land of Egypt, thou hast made thyself a name; that is, thou hast procured for thyself glory, which ought to flourish through all ages unto the end of the world. What, then, will occur, if the whole of thy people be now destroyed? He next. adds, We have done impiously, and have acted wickedly. In these words Daniel declares how nothing was left except for God to consider himself rather than his people, as by looking to them he would find nothing but material for vengeance. The people must necessarily perish, should God deal with them as they deserved. But Daniel here turns away God’s face by some means from the people’s sins, with the view of fixing his attention on himself alone and his own pity, and on his consistent fidelity to that perpetual covenant which he had made with their fathers.

Lastly, he would not permit that redemption to fail which was an illustrious and eternal proof of his virtue, favor, and goodness. Hence he subjoins, O Lord, may thine anger be averted according to all thy righteousness, and thine indignation from thy city Jerusalem, the mountain of thy holiness. We observe how Daniel here excludes whatever merit there might be in the people. In reality they did not possess any, but I speak according to that foolish imagination which men can scarcely put off. They always take credit to themselves, although they are convicted of their sins a hundred times over, and still desire to conciliate God’s favor by pleading some merit before God. But here Daniel excludes all such considerations when he pleads before God his own justice, and uses the strong expression, according to all thy righteousness. Those who take this word “righteousness” to mean “judgment,” are in error and inexperienced in interpreting the Scriptures; for they suppose God’s justice to be opposed to his pity. But we are familiar with God’s righteousness as made manifest, especially in the benefits he confers on us. It is just as if Daniel had said, that the single hope of the people consisted in God’s having regard to himself alone, and by no means to their conduct. Hence he takes the righteousness of God for his liberality, gratuitous favor, consistent fidelity, and protection, which he promised his servants: O God, therefore, he says, according to all thy prormsed mercies; that is, thou dost not fail those who trust in thee, thou dost promise nothing rashly, and thou art not accustomed to desert those who flee to thee; oh! by thy very justice, succor us in our distress. We must also notice the universal particle “all,” because when Daniel unites so many sins which might drown the people in an abyss a thousand times over, he opposes to this all God’s promised mercies. As if he had said, although the number of our iniquities is so great that we must perish a hundred times over, yet thy promised mercies are far more numerous, meaning, thy justice surpasses whatever thou mayest find in us of the deepest dye of guilt.

He says, again, Let thine anger be turned away, and thy burning wrath from thy city Jerusalem, and from thy holy mountain. In joining together anger and burning wrath, the Prophet does not imply any excess on the part of God, as if he revenged the sins of the people too severely, but he again represents the aggravation of their wickedness, causing him to become so angry with them as to lay aside his usual character, and to treat their adoption as vain and fruitless. Daniel does not complain in this case of the severity of the punishment, but rather condemns himself and the rest of the people for causing a necessity for such severe measures. Once more, he sets before God the holy mountain which he had chosen, and in this way averts his countenance from judgment, lest he should reckon with them for so many sins, by which God was deservedly incensed. Here, therefore, God’s election is interposed, because he had consecrated Mount Zion to himself, and desired to be worshipped there, where also his name should be celebrated and sacrifices offered to him. In this respect, therefore, Daniel obtains favor for himself before God, and, as I have said, he excludes all other considerations.

He next adds, Because on account of our sins, and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem. and thy people are a reproach to all our neighbors. By another argument, the Prophet desires to bend God to pity; for Jerusalem as well as the people were a disgrace to the nations; yet this caused equal disgrace to fall upon God himself. As, therefore, the Gentiles made a laughing-stock of the Jews, they did not spare the sacred name of God; nay, the Jews were so despised, that the Gentiles scarcely deigned to speak of them, and the God of Israel was contemptuously traduced, as if he had been conquered, because he had suffered his temple to be destroyed, and the whole city Jerusalem to be consumed with burning and cruel slaughter. The Prophet, therefore, now takes up this argument, and in speaking of the sacred city, doubtless refers to the sacredness of God’s name. His language implies, — Thou hast chosen Jerusalem as a kind of royal residence; it was thy wish to be worshipped there, and now this city has become an object of the greatest. reproach to our neighbors. Thus he declares how God’s name was exposed to the reproaches of the Gentiles. He afterwards asserts the same of God’s people, not by way of complaint. when the Jews suffered these reproaches, for they deserved them by their sins, but the language is emphatic, and yet they were God’s people. God’s name was intimately bound up with that of his people, and whatever infamy the profane east upon them, reflected chiefly on God himself. Here Daniel places before the Almighty his own name; as if he had said, O Lord! be thou the vindicater of thine own glory, thou hast once adopted us on this condition, and may the memory of thy name be ever inscribed upon us; permit us not to be so reproachfully slandered, let not the Gentiles insult thee on our account. And yet he says this was done on account of the iniquities of the people and of their fathers; by which expression he removes every possibility of doubt. 0h! how can it happen, that God will so lay his people prostrate? Why has he not spared at least his own name! Daniel, therefore, here testifies to his being just, because the iniquity of the people and of their fathers had risen so high, that God was compelled to exercise such vengeance against them.

His next prayer is, Do thou who art our God hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine forth. In these words Daniel wrestles with distrust, not for his own sake privately, but for that of the whole Church to whom he set forth the true method of prayer. And experience teaches all the pious how necessary this remedy is in those doubts which break into all our prayers, and make our earnestness and ardor in prayer grow dull and cold within us, or at least we pray without any composed or tranquil confidence, and this trembling vitiates whatever we had formerly conceived. As, therefore, this daily happens to all the pious when they leave off the duty of prayer for even a short period, and some doubt draws them off and shuts the door of familiar access to God, this is the reason why Daniel so often repeats the sentence, Do thou, O Lord, hear the prayer of thy. servant. David also inculcates such sentiments in his prayers, and has the greatest necessity for acting so. And those who are truly exercised in praying feel how God’s servants have good cause for such language whenever they pray to him. But I will complete the rest to-morrow.

PRAYER.

Grant, Almighty God, as thou hast deigned to gather us once among thy people, and hast wished us also to bear thy name, and that of thine only-begotten Son; although we so often provoke thine anger by our sins, and never cease to heap evil upon evil: Grant that we may never be exposed as a laughing-stock and spectacle, to the disgrace of thy sacred name. As, therefore, thou now seest the impious seizing all occasions of grossly slandering thyself, and thy sacred gospel, and the name of thine only-begotten Son, do not permit them, I pray thee, petulantly to insult thee. May thy Spirit so govern us, that we may desire to glorify thy name. May it be glorified in spite of Satan and all the impious, until we are gathered into that celestial kingdom which thou hast promised us in the same Christ our Lord.-Amen.


Lecture Forty-Eighth

We yesterday commenced our comment on the passage in which Daniel asks the Almighty to make his face to shine upon his own sanctuary. We are well aware how often this expression occurs in the Scriptures, where God is said to manifest his opposition by hiding his face, when he does not assist his own people, but hides himself as if he were forgetful of them. As Scripture everywhere compares our calamities and adversities to darkness, therefore God in whose favor our happiness is placed is said to hide his face when he does not succor us; and again, he is said to render his face bright and conspicuous, when he gives us some sign of his parental layout. God seemed for a long time to have deserted his sanctuary, and therefore the Prophet prays him to make his face to shine. We must remark his expression; upon thy sanctuary which is laid waste. We gather from it, that although the Prophet saw all things lost in a carnal sense, yet he neither despaired nor desisted from his prayers. And this rule must be noticed, — God’s grace is not to be estimated by the present aspect of things, because he often shews himself angry with us. Our carnal reason must be overcome, if we wish to pray to God in adversity, as the Prophet here teaches us by his own example. For the sanctuary was cut off; its very devastation might have formed an excuse to Daniel and all the pious for offering their prayers no longer. What success could be hoped for in such a deplorable state of affairs? Daniel by this circumstance shews how he struggled on without allowing any obstacle to interrupt the course of his prayer. He adds, for the Lord’s sake; all the Hebrew doctors agree that the word ynda, Adoni, when written with the great point karnetz, is taken for God alone; but in certain passages of Scripture it is as clearly used for the Mediator also. And very probably it has this sense here; although the Hebrews use this form for God’s sake, or for thy sake, when they make a direct, appeal to the Deity, yet I confess they often use the third person. But what necessity is there for flying to this harsher form of speech, when the other sense appears more appropriate to the passage? He will afterwards say, on account of thee, my God; but he says here, for the Lord’s sake. If, however, I had to contend with a person of a captious disposition, I confess I could not convince him from this passage; but if we weigh the Prophet’s words without contention, we shall rather incline to this view of the subject. Here, therefore, he sets before God the Mediator by whose favor he hopes to obtain his request. Still, if any one prefers to apply this to God, let him retain his opinion. Let us now proceed,.—

<270918>Daniel 9:18

18. My God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolation’s, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousness, but for thy great mercies.

18. Inclina Deus mi, aurem tuam, et audi: eperi oculos tuos, et respice desolationes nostras, f489 et civitem super quam invocatum est nomen tuum, super eam, f490 quia non propter justitias nostras nos prosternimus preces nostras coram facie tua, sed propter misericordias tuas f491 multas, vel, magnas.

 

This short clause breathes a wonderful fervor and vehemence of prayer; for Daniel pours forth his words as if he were carried out of himself. God’s children are often in an ecstasy in prayer; they moan and plead with God, use various modes of speech and much tautology, and cannot satisfy themselves. In forms of speech, indeed, hypocrites are sometimes superior; they not only rival God’s sincere worshippers, but are altogether carried along by outward pomps, and by a vast heap of words in their prayers, they arrive at much elegance and splendor, and even become great rhetoricians. But Daniel here only displays some portion of his feelings; there is no doubt of his wishing to bear witness to the whole Church how vehemently and fervently he prayed with the view of inflaming others with similar ardor. In this verse, he says, O my God, incline thine ear and hear. It would have been sufficient simply to have said, hearken; but as God seemed to remain deaf notwithstanding so many prayers and entreaties, the Prophet begs him to incline his ear. There is a silent antithesis here, because the faithful had seemed to be uttering words to the deaf, while their groans had been continually carried upwards to heaven during seventy years without the slightest effect. He adds next, open thine eyes and see. For God’s neglecting to answer must have cast down the hopes of the pious, because the Israelites were treated so undeservedly. They were oppressed by every possible form of reproach, and suffered the most grievous molestation in their fortunes as well as in everything else. Yet God passed by all these calamities of his people, as if his eyes were shut; and for this reason Daniel now prays him to open his eyes. It is profitable to notice these circumstances with diligence, for the purpose of learning how to pray to God; first, when at peace and able to utter our petitions without the slightest disquietude, and next, when sorrow and anxiety seize upon all our senses, and darkness everywhere surrounds us; even then our prayers should be steadily continued in the midst of these great obstacles. And we gather at the same time, while God presses us to the very extremity of our lives, how we ought to be still more importunate, because the new object; of this our severe affliction, is to awaken us amidst our slothfulness. Thus it is said in the Psalms, (<193206>Psalm 32:6,) The saint will approach thee in an accepted time. Our opportunity arises when the very vast necessities overwhelm us, because God then stirs us up, and, as I have said, corrects our slowness. Let us learn, therefore, to accustom ourselves to vehemence in prayer whenever God urges and incites us by stimulus of this kind.

He next says, Look upon our desolation’s — of this we have already said enough — and on the city on which thy name is called. Again Daniel sets before himself the sure foundation of his confidence, — Jerusalem had been chosen as God’s sanctuary. We know God’s adoption to have been without repentance, as Paul says. (<451129>Romans 11:29.) Daniel, therefore, here takes the very strongest method of appealing to God’s honor, by urging his wish to be worshipped on Mount Zion, and by his destining Jerusalem for himself as a royal seat. The phrase, to be called by God’s name, means, reckoning either the place or the nation as belonging to God. For God’s name is said to be called upon us, when we profess to be his people, and he distinguishes us by his mark, as if he would openly shew to the eyes of mankind his recognition of our profession. Thus God’s name was called upon Jerusalem, because his election had been celebrated already for many ages, and he had also gathered together one peculiar people, and pointed out a place where he wished sacrifices to be offered.

He adds afterwards, Because we do not pour forth our prayers before thy face upon or through our own righteousness, (yk ki, “but,” is in my opinion put adversatively here,) but on account of thy many or great mercies. Daniel more clearly confirms what was said yesterday, shewing how his hope was founded in God’s mercy alone. But I have stated how he expresses his meaning more clearly by opposing two members of a sentence naturally contrary to each other. Not in our righteousness, says he, but in thy compassion’s. Although this comparison is not always put so distinctly, yet this rule must be held — whenever the saints rely upon the grace of God, they renounce at the same time all their merits, and find nothing in themselves to render God propitious. But this passage must be diligently noticed, where Daniel carefully excludes whatever opposes God’s gratuitous goodness; and he next shews how, by bringing forward anything of their own, as if men could deserve God’s grace, they diminish in an equal degree from his mercy. Daniel’s words also contain , another truth, manifesting the impossibility of reconciling two opposite things, viz., the faithful taking refuge in God’s mercy, and yet bringing anything of their own and resting upon their merits. As, therefore, a complete repugnance exists between the gratuitous goodness of God and all the merits of man, how stupid are those who strive to combine them, according to the usual practice of the Papacy! And even now, those who do not yield willingly to God and his word, wish to throw a covering over their error, by ascribing half the praise to God and his mercy, and retaining the remainder as peculiar to man. But all doubt is removed when Daniel places these two principles in opposition to each other, according to my former remark — the righteousness of man and the mercy of God. Our merits, in truth, will no more unite with the grace of God than fire and water, mingled in the vain attempt to seek some agreement between flyings so opposite. He next calls these mercies “great,” as we previously remarked the use of a great variety of words to express the various ways in which the people were amenable to his judgment. Here, therefore, he implores God’s mercies as both many and great, as the people’s wickedness had arrived at its very utmost pitch.

As for the following expression, The people pour down their prayers before God, Scripture seems in some degree at variance with itself, through the frequent use of a different metaphor, representing prayers as raised towards heaven. This phrase often occurs, — O God, we elevate or raise our prayers to thee. Here also, as in other places, the Spirit dictates a different form of expression, representing the faithful as casting down upon the ground their vows and prayers. Each of these expressions is equally suitable, because, as we said yesterday, both repentance and faith ought to be united in our prayers. But repentance throws men downwards, and faith raises them upwards again. At the first glance these two ideas do not seem easily reconciled; but by weighing these two members of a true and logical form of speech, we shall not find it possible to raise our prayers and vows to heaven, without depressing them, so to speak, to the very lowest depths. For on the one hand, when the sinner comes into the presence of God, he must necessarily fall completely down, nay, vanish as if lifeless before him. This is the genuine effect of repentance. And in this way the saints cast down all their prayers, whenever they suppliantly acknowledge themselves unworthy of the notice of the Almighty. Christ sets before us a picture of this kind in the character of the publican, who beats on his breast aid begs for pardon with a dejected countenance. (<421813>Luke 18:13.) Thus also the sons of God throw down their prayers in that spirit of humility which springs from penitence. Then they raise their prayers by faith for when God invites them to himself, and gives them the witness to his propitious disposition, they raise themselves up and overtop the clouds, yea, even heaven itself. Whence this doctrine also shines forth Thou art a God who hearest prayer, as we read in the Psalms. (<196502>Psalm 65:2.) In consequence of the faithful determining God to be propitious, they boldly approach his presence, and pray with minds erect, through an assurance that God is well pleased with the sacrifice which they offer. It follows:

<270919>Daniel 9:19

19. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.

19. Domine audi, Domine propitius esto, Domine attende, vel, animadverte, et fac, ne moreris propter te, Deus mi, quia nomen tuum invocatum est super urbem tuam, et super populum tuum.

 

Here vehemence is better expressed, as I have previously observed. For Daniel does not display his eloquence, as hypocrites usually do, but simply teaches by his example the true law and method of prayer. Without doubt, he was impelled by singular zeal for the purpose of drawing others with him. God, therefore, worked in the Prophet by his Spirit, to render him a guide to all the rest, and his prayer as a kind of common form to the whole Church. With this intention, Daniel now relates his own conceptions. He had prayed without any witness, but he now calls together the whole Church, and wishes it to become a witness of his zeal and fervor, and invites all men to follow this prescription, proceeding as it does not from himself but from God. O Lord, hear, says he; and next, O Lord, be propitious. By this second clause he implies the continual and intentional deafness of the Almighty, because he was deservedly angry with the people. And we ought to observe this, because we foolishly wonder at God’s not answering our prayers as soon as the wish has proceeded from our lips. Its reason, too, must be noticed. God’s slowness springs from our coldness and dullness, while our iniquities interpose an obstacle between ourselves and his ear. Be thou, therefore, propitious, O Lord, that thou mayest hear. So the sentence ought to be resolved. He afterwards adds, O Lord, attend. By this word Daniel means to convey, that while the people had in many ways and for a length of time provoked God’s anger, they were unworthily oppressed by impious and cruel enemies, and that this severe calamity ought to incline God to pity them. O Lord, therefore, he says, attend and do not delay. Already God had cast away his people for seventy years, and had suffered them to be so oppressed by their enemies, as to cause the faithful the utmost mental despondency. Thus we perceive how in this passage the holy Prophet wrestled boldly with the severest temptation. He requests God not to delay or put off. Seventy years had already passed away since God had formally cast off his people, and had refused them every sign of his good will towards them.

The practical inference from this passage is the impossibility of our praying acceptably, unless we rise superior to whatever befalls us; and if we estimate God’s favor according to our own condition, we shall lose the very desire for prayer, nay, we shall wear away a hundred times over in the midst of our calamities, and be totally unable to raise our minds up to God. Lastly, whenever God seems to have delayed for a great length of time, he must be constantly entreated not to delay. He next adds, For thine own sake, O , my God. Again, Daniel reduces to nothing those sources of confidence by which hypocrites imagine themselves able to obtain God’s favor. Even if one clause of the sentence is not actually the opposite of the other, as it was before, yet when he says, for thy sake, we may understand the inference to be, therefore not for our own sakes. He confirms this view by the remainder of the context, For thy sake, O my God, because thy name has been invoked upon thy city, says he, and upon thy people. We observe, then, how Daniel left no means untried for obtaining his request, although he relied on his gratuitous adoption, and never doubted God’s propitious feelings towards his own people. He finds indeed no cause for them either in mortals or in their merits, but he wishes mankind perpetually to behold his benefits and to continue steadfast to the end. It follows: —

<270920>Daniel 9:20-21

20. And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin, and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God;

20. Et adhuc ego loquens, f492 et precarer, et confiterer peecatum meum, et peccatum populi mei Israel, et prosternerem, f493 precationem meam coram Jehova Deo meo, super montem f494 sanctuarii Dei me.

21. Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.

21. Cum, inquam, loquerer in precatione mea, tunc vir Gabriel quem videram in visione principio voluntam volatu, tetigit me circa tempus oblationis vespertinae.

 

As to the translation, some take it as I do; others say “flying swiftly,” implying fatigue and alacrity. Some derive the word for “flying” from w[, gnof, which signifies to fly, and they join it with its own participle, which is common Hebrew; others again think it derived from [y, yegnef; signifying to fatigue, and then explain it metaphorically as flying hastily. f495

Here Daniel begins to shew us that his prayers were by no means useless, nor yet without their fruit, as Gabriel was sent to elevate his mind with confidence, and to lighten his grief by consolation. He next sets him forth as a minister of the grace of God to the whole Church, to inspire the faithful with the hope of a speedy return to their country, and to encourage them to bear their afflictions until God should open a way for their return. Next, as to ourselves, we need not wonder at God’s refusing at times an answer to our prayers, because those who seem to pray far better than the rest scarcely possess a hundredth part of the zeal and fervor required. On comparing our method of prayer with this vehemence of the Prophet, surely we are in truth very far behind him; and it is by no means surprising, if, while the difference is so great, the success should be so dissimilar. And yet we may be assured that our prayers will never be in vain, if we follow the holy Prophet at even a long interval. If the limited amount of our faith hinders our prayers from emulating the Prophet’s zeal, yet God will nevertheless listen to them, so long as they are founded in faith and penitence. Daniel says, therefore, While I was as yet speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel. First of all, we must notice how the Holy Spirit here purposely dictated to the Prophet, how God’s grace would be prepared for and extended to all the wretched who fly to it and implore it. The Prophet, therefore, shews why we are so destitute of help, for if pain occasions so much groaning, yet we never look up to God, from whom consolation is always to be sought in all evils. He thus exhorts us to the habit of prayer by saying his requests were heard. He does not bring forward any singular example, but, as I have already said, he pronounces generally that the prayers of those who seek God as a deliverer will never be either vain or unfruitful. I have shewn how our supplications do not always meet with either the same or equal attention, since our torpor requires God to differ in the help which he supplies. But in this way the Prophet teaches us how those who possess true faith and repentance, however slight, will never offer up their prayers to God in vain.

He next adds what is necessary to conciliate God’s favor, namely, that men should anticipate God’s judgment by condemning themselves. So he asserts, He confessed his sin and that of his people. He does not speak here of one kind of sin, but under the word afj, cheta, he comprehends all kinds of wickedness; as if he had said, when I was confessing myself as steeped in sin and drowned in iniquity, I confessed the same on behalf of my people. We must notice also the phrase, the sin of my people Israel. He might have omitted this noun, but he wished to testify before God to the Church being guilty and without the slightest hope of absolution, unless God, whom they had so deservedly offended, was graciously pleased to reconcile them to himself. But the first clause is more worthy of notice, where Daniel relates the confession of his own sins before God. We know what Ezekiel says, or rather the Spirit speaking through his mouth. (<261414>Ezekiel 14:14.) For God names the three most perfect characters which had then existed in the world, and includes Daniel among them, although he was then living. Although Daniel was an example of angelic justice, and is celebrated by so remarkable an honor, yet, if even he were before me, and were to entreat me for this state, I would not listen to him, but I would free him only on account of his own righteousness. As, therefore, God so extols his own Prophet, and raises him on high as if he were beyond all the pollution and vices of the world, where shall we find a man upon earth who can boast himself free from every stain and failing? Let the most perfect characters be brought before us — what a difference between them and Daniel! But even he confesses himself a sinner before God, and utterly renounces his own righteousness, and openly bears witness to his only hope of salvation being placed in the mere mercy of God. Hence Augustine with much wisdom often cites this passage against the followers of Pelagius and Celestius. We are well aware with what specious pretenses these heretics obscured God’s grace, when they argued that God’s sons ought not always to remain in prison, but to reach the goal. The doctrine indeed is passable enough, that the sons of God ought to be free from all fault, but where is such integrity really found? Augustine, therefore, with the greatest propriety, always replied to those triflers by shewing that no one ever existed so just in this world as not to need God’s mercy. For had there been such a character, surely the Lord, who alone is a fitting judge, could have found him. But he asserts his servant Daniel to be among the most perfect, if three only are taken from the beginning of the world. But as Daniel casts himself into the flock of sinners, not through any feigned pretense or humility, but when uttering the fullness of his mind before God, who shall now claim for himself greater sanctity than this? When, therefore, I confess my sins before the face of my God. Here surely there is no fiction, whence it follows that those who pretend to this imaginary perfection are demons in human shape, as Castalio and other cynics, or rather dogs like him.

We must therefore cling to this principle: no man, even if semi-angelic, can approach God, unless he conciliates his favor by sincere and ingenuous confession of his sins, as in reality a criminal before God. This, then, is our righteousness, to confess ourselves guilty in order that God may gratuitously absolve us. These observations, too, respecting the Israelites concern us also, as we observe from the direction which Christ has given us to say, Forgive us our trespasses. (<400612>Matthew 6:12; <421104>Luke 11:4.) For whom did Christ wish to use this petition? Surely all his disciples. If any one thinks that he has no need of this form of prayer, and this confession of sin, let him depart from the school of Christ, and enter into a herd of swine.

He now adds, Upon the mountain of the sanctuary of my God. Here the Prophet suggests another reason for his being heard, namely, his anxiety for the common welfare and safety of the Church. For whenever any one studies his own private interests, and is careless of his neighbor’s advantage, he is unworthy to obtain anything before God. If, therefore, we desire our prayers to be pleasing to God, and to produce useful fruit, let us learn to unite the whole body of the Church with us, and not only to regard what is expedient for ourselves, but what will tend to the common welfare of all the elect people. While, therefore, says he, I was yet speaking, and in the midst of my prayer. It appears that Daniel prayed not only with his affections, but broke forth into some outward utterance. It is quite true that this word is often restricted to mental utterance; for even when a person does not use his tongue, he may be said to speak when he only thinks mentally within himself. But since Daniel said, When I was yet speaking in my prayer, he seems to have broken forth into some verbal utterance; for although the saints do not intend to pronounce anything orally, yet zeal seizes upon them, and words at times escape them. There is another reason also for this: we are naturally slow, and then the tongue aids the thoughts. For these reasons Daniel was enabled not only to conceive his prayers silently and mentally, but to utter them verbally and orally.

He next adds, Gabriel came; but I cannot complete my comments on this occurrence to-day.

PRAYER.

Grant, Almighty God, that we may learn more and more fully to probe ourselves, and to discover the faults of which we are guilty: nay, may the serious weight of our wickedness truly humble us when we come into thy sight, and call upon thee even from the lowest depths. May we never cease to hope for thy grace; may we be elevated by that hope to the highest heavens, and be firmly assured that thou wilt always prove thyself a propitious Father to us. And as thou hast granted us a Mediator who may procure favor for us from thee, may we never hesitate to approach thee familiarly, through reliance on him. Whenever our miseries induce us to despair, may we never succumb to it; but with unconquered fortitude of mind, may we persevere in invoking thy name and imploring thy pity, until we perceive the fruit of our prayers, and after being freed from all warfare, may we at length arrive at that blessed rest which is laid up for us in heaven, by the same, Christ our Lord. — Amen.


Lecture Forty Ninth

In the last Lecture we explained the appearance of the angel to Daniel, who satisfied the eagerness of his desires. For he prayed with great earnestness when he perceived the time to have elapsed which God had fixed beforehand by the mouth of Jeremiah, while the people still remained in captivity. (<242511>Jeremiah 25:11.) We have shewn how the angel was sent by God to the holy Prophet, to alleviate his sorrow and to remove the pressure of his anxiety. He called the angel a man, because he took the form of a man, as we have already stated. One thing only remains — his saying, the vision was offered to him about the time of the evening sacrifice. Already seventy years had passed away, during which Daniel had never observed any sacrifice offered; and yet he still mentions sacrifices as if he were in the habit of attending daily in the Temple, which was not really in existence. Whence it appears how God’s servants, though deprived of the outward means of grace for the present moment, are yet able to make them practically useful by meditating upon God, and the sacrifices, and other rites, and ceremonies of His institution. If any one in these days is cast into prison, and even prohibited from enjoying the Lord’s Supper to the end of his life, yet he ought not on that account to cast away the remembrance of that sacred symbol; but should consider within himself every day, why that Supper was granted us by Christ, and what advantages he desires us to derive from it. Such, then, we perceive were the feelings of the holy Prophet, because he speaks of these daily sacrifices as if then in actual use. Yet we know them to have been abolished, and he could not have been present at them for many years, although during that period the Temple was standing. Now let us go forward, —

<270922>Daniel 9:22

22. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.

22. Et docuit me, et loquutus est mecum, et dixit, Daniel, nunc exivi ut te intelligere facerem intelligentiam. f496

 

Here the angel prepares the Prophet’s mind by saying, he came from heaven to teach him. I went forth, says he, to cause thee to understand. For Daniel ought to understand from this angel’s duty, what he ought himself to do. As God had deigned to honor him so highly by setting before him one of his angels as his master and teacher, the Prophet ought not to neglect so singular a favor, lest he should seem ungrateful to God. We now understand why the angel testifies to his coming to teach the Prophet. And we also ought to reflect upon this whenever we enter God’s Temple, or read any passage of holy Scripture, and acknowledge teachers to be sent to us from God to assist us in our ignorance, and to interpret the Scriptures for us. We ought also to admit Scripture to be given to us to enable us to find there whatever would otherwise be hidden from us. For God opens, as it were, his own heart to us, when he makes known to us his secrets by means of the Law, and the Prophets, and his Apostles also. Thus, Paul shews the gospel to be preached for the obedience of the faith, (<450105>Romans 1:5;) as if he had said, we shall not escape with impunity, unless we obediently embrace the doctrine of the gospel; otherwise, we do our utmost to frustrate the designs of God and elude his counsels, unless we faithfully obey his word. It follows, —

<270923>Daniel 9:23

23. At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.

23. Principio precationum tuarum exivit verbum, et ego veni ut annuntiarem, quia tu desideriorum vir, f497 itaque intellige in sermone, et intellige in visione.

 

Here the angel not only exacts docility from the Prophet, but also exhorts him to greater attention. We shall afterwards perceive that this singular and extraordinary prophecy needed no common study. This is the reason why the angel not only commands Daniel to receive his message with the obedience of faith, but also to pay greater attention than usual, because this was an important and singular mystery. He states first of all — the word went forth from the time when the Prophet began to pray. I will not delay by reciting the opinions of others, because I think I understand the genuine sense of the passage; namely, God heard the prayers of his servant, and then promulgated what he had already decreed. For by the word “went forth” he expresses the publication of a decree which had formerly been made; it was then issued just as the decrees of princes are said to go forth when they are publicly spread abroad. God had determined what he would do, directly Daniel had ceased, for God’s counsel would never fail of its accomplishment; but he here points out the impossibility of the prayers of his saints being in vain, because he grants them the very thing which he would have bestowed had they not prayed for them, as if he were obedient to their desires, and approved of their conduct. It is clear enough, that we can obtain nothing by our prayer, without God’s previous determination to grant it; yet these points are not contrary to each other; for God attends to our prayers, as it is said in the Psalms, — -He performs our wishes, and yet executes what he had determined before the creation of the world. (<19E519>Psalm 145:19.) He had predicted by Jeremiah, (<242511>Jeremiah 25:11,) as we have remarked before, the close of the people’s exile in seventy years; Daniel already knew this, as he related at the beginning of the chapter, yet he did not relax in his prayers, for he knew that God’s promises afford us no ground or occasion for sloth or listlessness. The Prophet, therefore, prayed, and God shews how his desires were by no means vain as they concerned the welfare of the whole Church. He next states — the word went forth as soon as Daniel began to pray; that is, as soon as he opened his lips he was divinely answered. He afterwards adds, he came to make this known, because, says he, thou art a desirable man. Some take the word “desirable” actively, as if Daniel glowed with intense zeal; but this is forced and contrary to the usage of the language. Without doubt, the Prophet uses the word in the sense of acceptance with God, and the majority of interpreters fully agree with me. The angel therefore announces his arrival on behalf of Daniel, because he was in the enjoyment of God’s favor. And this is worthy of notice, for we gather from the passage the impossibility of our vows and prayers acquiring favor for us before God, unless we are already embraced by his regards; for in no other way do we find God propitious, than when we flee by faith to his loving-kindness. Then, in reliance upon Christ as our Mediator and Advocate, we dare to approach him as sons to a parent. For these reasons our prayers are of no avail before God, unless they are in some degree founded in faith, which alone reconciles us to God, since we can never be pleasing to him without pardon and remission of sins. We observe also, the sense in which the saints are said to please God by their sometimes failing to obtain their requests. .For Daniel was subject to continual groaning for many years, and was afflicted by much grief; and yet he never perceived himself to have accomplished anything worthy of his labors. he might really conclude all his labor to be utterly lost, after praying so often and so perseveringly without effect. But the angel meets him finally and testifies to his acceptance with God, and enables him to acknowledge that he had not suffered any repulse, although he had failed to obtain the object of his earnest desires. Hence, when we become anxious in our thoughts, and are induced to despair through the absence of all profit or fruit from our prayers, and through the want of an open and immediate answer, we must derive this instruction from the angel’s teaching, Daniel, who was most acceptable to God, was heard at length, without being permitted to see the object of his wishes with his bodily eyes. He died in exile, and never beheld the performance of the Prophet’s prophecies concerning the happy state of the Church, as if immediately preparing to celebrate its triumphs. At the end of the verse, as I have already mentioned, the angel stimulates Daniel to greater zeal, and urges him to apply his mind and all his senses attentively to understand the prophecy which the angel was commanded to bring before him. It now follows, —

<270924>Daniel 9:24

24. Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

24. Septuaginta hebdomades finitae sunt super populum tuum et super urbem tuam sanctum, f498 ad claudendum scelus, et obsignandum peccatum, et expiandam iniquitatem, et adducendam justitiam aeternam, et obsignandam visionem, f499 et prophetiam, et ungendum sanctum sanctorum. f500

 

This passage has been variously treated, and so distracted, and almost torn to pieces by the various opinions of interpreters, that it might be considered nearly useless on account of its obscurity. But, in the assurance that no prediction is really in vain, we may hope to understand this prophecy, provided only we are attentive and teachable according to the angel’s admonition, and the Prophet’s example. I do not usually refer to conflicting opinions, because I take no pleasure in refuting them, and the simple method which I adopt pleases me best, namely, to expound what I think delivered by the Spirit of God. But I cannot escape the necessity of confuting’ various views of the present passage. I will begin with the Jews, because they not only pervert its sense through ignorance, but through shameful impudence. Whenever they’re exposed to the light which shines from Christ, they instantly turn their backs in utter shamelessness, and display a complete want of ingenuousness. They are like dogs who are satisfied with barking. In this passage especially, they betray their petulance, because with brazen forehead they elude the Prophet’s meaning. Let us observe, then, what they think, for we should condemn them to little purpose, unless we can convict them by reasons equally firm and certain. When Jerome relates the teaching of the Jews who lived before his own day, he attributes to them greater modesty and discretion then their later descendants have displayed. He reports their confession, that this passage cannot be understood otherwise than of the advent of Messiah. that perhaps Jerome was unwilling to meet them in open conflict, as he was not fully persuaded of its necessity, and therefore he assumed more than they had allowed. I think this very probable, for he does not let fall a single word as to what interpretation he approves, and excuses himself for bringing forward all kinds of opinions without any prejudice on his part. Hence, he dares not pronounce whether or not the Jewish interpreters are more correct than either the Greek or the Latin, but leaves his readers entirely in suspense. Besides, it is very clear that all the Rabbis expounded this prophecy of Daniel’s, of that continual punishment which God was about to inflict upon his people after their return from captivity. Thus, they entirely exclude the grace of God, and blame the Prophet, as if he had committed an error in thinking that God would be propitious to these miserable exiles, by restoring them to their homes and by rebuilding their Temple. According to their view, the seventy weeks began at the destruction of the former Temple, and closed at the overthrow of the second. In one point they agree with us, — in considering the Prophet to reckon the weeks not by days but by years, as in Leviticus. (<032508>Leviticus 25:8.) There is no difference between us and the Jews in numbering the years; they confess the number of years to be 490, but disagree with us entirely as to the close of the prophecy. They say — as I have already hinted — the continual calamities which oppressed the people are here predicted. The Prophet hoped the end of their troubles was fast approaching, as God had testified by Jeremiah his perfect satisfaction with the seventy years of captivity. They say also — the people were miserably harassed by their enemies again overthrowing their second Temple; thus they were deprived of their homes, and the ruined city became a sorrowful spectacle of devastation and disaster. In this way, I shewed how they excluded the grace of God; and to sum up their teaching shortly, this is its substance, — the Prophet is deceived in thinking the state of the Church would improve at the close of the seventy years, because seventy weeks still remained; that is, God multiplied the number in this way, for the purpose of chastising them, until at length he would abolish the city and the Temple, disperse their nation over the whole earth and destroy their very name, until at length the Messiah whom they expected should arrive. This is their interpretation, but all history refutes both their ignorance and their rashness. For, as we shall afterwards observe, all who are endued with correct judgment will scarcely approve of this, because all historians relate the lapse of a longer period between the monarchy of Cyrus, and the Persians, and the coming of Christ, than Daniel here computes. The Jews again include the years which occurred from the ruin of the former Temple to the advent of Christ, and the final overthrow of their city. Hence, according to the commonly received opinion, they heap together about six hundred years. I shall afterwards state how far I approve of this computation, and how far I differ from it. Clearly enough, however, the Jews are both shamefully deceived and deceive others, when they thus heap together different periods without any judgment.

A positive refutation of this error is readily derived from the prophecy of Jeremiah, from the beginning of this chapter, and from the opinion of Ezra. That deceiver and impostor, Barbinel, who fancies himself the most acute of all the Rabbis, thinks he has a convenient way of escape here, as he eludes the subject by a single word, and answers only one objection. But I will briefly shew how he plays with frivolous trifles. By rejecting Josephus, he glories in an easy victory. I candidly confess that I cannot place confidence in Josephus either at all times or without exception. But what conclusions do Barbinel and his followers draw from this passage? Let us come to that prophecy of Jeremiah which I have mentioned, and in which he takes refuge. He says, the Christians make Nebuchadnezzar reign forty-five years, but he did not complete that number. Thus he cuts off half a year, or perhaps a whole one, from those monarchies. But what is this to the purpose? Because 200 years will still remain, and the contention between us concerns this period. We perceive then how childishly he trifles, by deducting five or six years from a very large number, and still there is the burden of 200 years which he does not remove. But as I have already stated, that prophecy of Jeremiah concerning the seventy years remains immovable. But when do they begin? From the destruction of the Temple? This will not suit at all.

Barbinel makes the number of the years forty-nine or thereabouts, from the destruction of the Temple to the reign of Cyrus. But we previously perceived the Prophet to be then instructed concerning the close of the captivity. Now, that impudent fellow and his followers are not ashamed to assert that Daniel was a bad interpreter of this part of Jeremiah’s prophecy, because he thought the punishment completed, although some time yet remained. Some of the Rabbis make this assertion, but its frivolous character appears from this, Daniel does not here confess any error, but confidently affirms that he prayed in consequence of his learning:from the book of Jeremiah the completion of the time of the captivity. Then Ezra uses the following words, — When the seventy years were completed, which God had predicted by Jeremiah, he stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia, to free the people in the first year of his monarchy. (<270101>Daniel 1:1.) Here Ezra openly states, that Cyrus gave the people liberty by the secret impulse of the Spirit. Had the Spirit of God become forgetful, when he hastened the people’s return? For then we must necessarily convict Jeremiah of deception and falsehood, while Ezra treats the people’s return as an answer to the prophecy. On the other hand, they cite a passage from the first chapter of Zechariah, (<380112>Zechariah 1:12,) Wilt thou not, O Lord, pity thy city Jerusalem, because the seventy years are now at an end? But here the Prophet does not point out the moment at which the seventy years were finished, but while some portion of the people had returned to their country by the permission of Cyrus, and the building of the Temple was still impeded, after a lapse of twenty or thirty years, he complains of God not having completely and fully liberated his people. Whether or not this is so, the Jews must explain the beginning of the seventy years from the former exile before the destruction of the Temple; otherwise the passages cited from Daniel and Ezra would not agree. We are thus compelled to close these seventy years before the reign of Cyrus, as God had said he should then put all end to the captivity of his people, and the period was completed at that point.

Again, almost all profane writers reckon 550 years from the reign of Cyrus to the advent of Christ.

I do not hesitate to suppose some error here, because no slight difficulty would remain to us on this calculation, but I shall afterwards state the correct method of calculating the number of years. Meanwhile, we perceive how the Jews in every way exceed the number of 600 years, by comprehending the .seventy years’ captivity under these seventy weeks; and then they add the time which elapsed from the death of Christ to the reign of Vespasian. But the facts themselves are their best refutation. For the angel says, the seventy weeks were finished. Barbinel takes the word ˚tj, chetek, for “to cut off,” and wishes us to mark the continual miseries by which the people were afflicted; as if the angel had said, the time of redemption has not yet arrived, as the people were continually wretched, until God inflicted upon them that final blow which was a desperate slaughter. But when this word is taken to mean to “terminate” or “finish,” the angel evidently announces the conclusion of the seventy weeks here. That impostor contends with this argument — weeks of years are here used in vain, unless with reference to the captivity. This is partially true, but he draws them out longer than he ought. Our Prophet alludes to the seventy years of Jeremiah, and I am surprised that the advocates of our side have not considered this, as no one suggests any reason why Daniel reckons years by weeks. Yet we know This figure to be purposely used, because he wished to compare seventy weeks of years with the seventy years. And whoever will take the trouble to consider this likeness or analogy, will find the Jews slain with their own sword. For the Prophet here compares God’s grace with his judgment; as if he had said, the people have been punished by an exile of seventy years, but now their time of grace has arrived; nay, the day of their redemption has dawned, and it shone forth with continual splendor, shaded, indeed, with a few clouds, for 490 years until the advent of Christ. The Prophet’s language must be interpreted as follows, — Sorrowful darkness has brooded over you for seventy years, but God will now follow up this period by one of favor of sevenfold duration, because by lightening your cares and moderating your sorrows, he will not cease to prove himself propitious to you even to the advent of Christ. This event was notoriously the principal hope of the saints who looked forward to the appearance of the Redeemer.

We now understand why the angel does not use the reckoning’ of years, or months, or days, but weeks of years, because this has a tacit reference to the penalty which the people had endured according to the prophecy of Jeremiah. On the other hand, this displays God’s great loving kindness, since he manifests a regard for his people up to the period of his setting forth their promised salvation in his Christ. Seventy weeks, then, says he, were finished upon thy people, and upon thy holy city. I do not approve of the view of Jerome, who thinks this an allusion to the rejection of the people; as if he had said, the people is thine and not mine. I feel sure this is utterly contrary to the Prophet’s intention. He asserts the people and city to be here called Daniel’s, because God had divorced his people and rejected his city. But, as I said before, God wished to bring some consolation to his servant and all the pious, and to prop them up by this confidence during their oppression by their enemies. For God had already fixed the time of sending the Redeemer. The people and the city are said to belong to Daniel, because, as we saw before, the Prophet was anxious for the common safety of His nation, and the restoration of the city and Temple. Lastly, the angel confirms his previous expression — God listened to his servant’s prayer, and promulgated the prophecy of future redemption. The clause which follows convicts the Jews of purposely corrupting Daniel’s words and meaning, because the angel says, the time was finished for putting an end to wickedness, and for sealing up sins, and for expiating iniquity. We gather from this clause, God’s compassionate feelings for His people after these seventy weeks were over. For what purpose did God determine that time? Surely to prohibit sin, to close up Wickedness, and to expiate iniquity. We observe no continuance of punishment here, as the Jews vainly imagine; for they suppose God always hostile to his people, and they recognize a sign of most grievous offense in the utter destruction of the Temple. The Prophet, or rather the angel, gives us quite the opposite view of the case, by explaining how God wished to finish and close up their sin, and to expiate their iniquity He afterwards adds, to bring in everlasting righteousness. We first perceive how joyful a message is brought forward concerning the reconciliation of the people with God; and next, something promised far better and more excellent than anything which had been granted under the law, and even under the flourishing times of the Jews under David and Solomon. The angel here encourages the faithful to expect something better than what their fathers, whom God had adopted, had experienced. There is a kind of contrast between the expiation’s under the law and this which the angel announces, and also between the pardon here promised and that which God had always given to his ancient people; and there is also the same contrast between the eternal righteousness and that which flourished under the law.

He next adds, To seal up the vision and the prophecy. Here the word “to seal” may be taken in two senses. Either the advent of Christ should sanction whatever had been formerly predicted — and the metaphor will imply this well enough — or we may take it otherwise, namely:, the vision shall be sealed up, and so finally closed that all prophecies should cease. Barbinel thinks he points out a great absurdity here, by stating it to be by no means in accordance with God’s character, to deprive his Church of the remarkable blessing of prophecy. But that blind man does not comprehend the force of the prophecy, because he does not understand anything about Christ. We know the law to be distinguished from the gospel by this peculiarity,-they formerly had a long course of prophecy according to the language of the Apostle. (<580101>Hebrews 1:1.) God spake formerly in various ways by prophets, but in these last times by his only-begotten Son. Again, the law and the prophets existed until John, says Christ. (<401111>Matthew 11:11-13; <421616>Luke 16:16; <420728>Luke 7:28.) Barbinel does not perceive this difference, and as I have formerly said, he thinks he has discovered an argument against us, by asserting that the gift of prophecy ought not to be taken away. And, truly, we ought not to be deprived of this gift, unless God desired to increase the privilege of the new people, because the least in the kingdom of heaven is superior in privilege to all the prophets, as Christ elsewhere pronounces. tie next adds, that the Holy of Holies may be anointed. Here, again, we have a tacit contrast between the anointings of the law, and the last which should take place. Not only is consolation here offered to all the pious, as God was about to mitigate the punishment which he had inflicted, but because he wished to pour forth the fullness of all his pity upon the new Church. For, as I have said, the Jews cannot escape this comparison on the part of the angel between the state of the Church under the legal and the new covenants; for the latter privileges were to be far better, more excellent, and more desirable, than those existing in the ancient Church from its commencement. But the rest to-morrow. f501

PRAYER.

Grant, Almighty God, as through our extreme blindness, we cannot gaze upon open daylight, that we may be enlightened by thy Spirit. May we profit by all thy prophecies by which thou wishest to direct us to thine only-begotten Son; embrace him with true and certain faith, and remain obedient to him as our ruler and guide; and after we have passed through this world, may we at length arrive at that heavenly rest which has been obtained for us by the blood of the same thy Son. — Amen.


Lecture Fiftieth

We began yesterday to shew how foolishly the Rabbis corrupt by their comments this prophecy of which we are now treating; for they suppose the angel to be treating of the continual wrath of God which the Jewish people had partially experienced, and which was still to be of longer duration and greater severity, according to their supposition. We have explained how openly this is opposed to the words of Daniel, who here promises the return of God’s favor to his people, and then shews the object and intention of the Holy Spirit. By this consolation he wished to lighten the sorrow of the holy man whom we have already seen to be extremely anxious about the state of the Church which he then perceived to be so deplorable. The phrase on which we have already commented confirms the same point, for the angel promises, at the arrival of the predicted period, an end to sin and wickedness, and iniquity, because iniquity should then be expiated. He next promises the approach of eternal righteousness; and lastly adds, the sealing of the vision and prophecy, together with the spiritual anointing of the Holy of Holies. Every one admits this to be a promise of a blessing more excellent than anything under the law. No other interpretation can possibly be received than that which refers it to the advent of Christ, and the entire restoration of the Church of God. Other arguments follow. For the Prophet adds what I shall repeat again, for I must explain more fully what I now only casually run through.

<270925>Daniel 9:25

25. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem, unto the Messiah the Prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: The street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

25. Cognosces ergo et intelliges, f502 ab exitu verbi de reditu, f503 et de aedificanda Jerosolyma usque ad Christum ducem hebdomadas septam, et hebdomadas sexaginta duas, et reducetur, f504 et re-aedificabutur platea, f505 et murus, idque in angustia temporum.

 

Daniel here repeats the divisions of time already mentioned. He had previously stated seventy weeks; but he now makes two portions, one of seven weeks, and the other of sixty-two. There is clearly another reason why he wished to divide into two parts the number used by the angel. One portion contains seven weeks, and the other sixty-two; a single week is omitted which will afterwards be mentioned. The Jews reject seven weeks from the rule of Herod to that of Vespasian. I confess this to be in accordance with the Jewish method of speech; instead of sixty-two and seven, they will say seven and sixty-two; thus putting the smaller number first. The years of man (says Moses) shall be twenty and a hundred, (<010603>Genesis 6:3) the Greeks and Latins would say, shall be a hundred and twenty years. I confess this to be the common phrase among the Hebrews; but here the Prophet is not relating the continuance of any series of years, as if he were treating of the life of a single man, but he first marks the space of seven weeks, and then cuts off another period of sixty-two weeks. The seven weeks clearly precede in order of time, otherwise we could not sufficiently explain the full meaning of the angel.

We shall now treat the sense in which the going forth of the edict ought to be received. In the meantime, it cannot be denied that the angel pronounces this concerning the edict which had been promulgated about the bringing back of the people, and the restoration of the city. It would, therefore, be foolish to apply it to a period at which the city was not restored, and no such decree had either been uttered or made public. But, first of all, we must treat what the angel says, until the Christ, the Messiah. Some desire to take this singular noun in a plural sense, as if it were the Christ of the Lord, meaning his priests; while some refer it to Zerubbabel, and others to Joshua. But clearly enough the angel speaks of Christ, of whom both kings and priests under the law were a type and figure. Some, again, think the dignity of Christ lessened by the use of the word dygn, negid, “prince” or “leader,” as if in his leadership there existed neither royalty, nor scepter, nor diadem. This remark is altogether without reason; for David is called a leader of the people, and Hezekiah when he wore a diadem, and was seated on his throne, is also termed a leader. (<100502>2 Samuel 5:2; <122005>2 Kings 20:5.) Without doubt, the word here implies superior excellence. All kings were rulers over the people of God, and the priests were endowed with a certain degree of honor and authority. Here, then, the angel calls Christ , leader, as he far surpassed all others, whether kings or priests. And if the reader is not captious, this contrast will be admitted at once.

He next adds, The people shall return or be brought back, and the street shall be built, and the wall, and that, too, in the narrow limit of the times. Another argument follows, — namely, after sixty-two weeks Christ shall be cut off. This the Jews understand of Agrippa, who certainly was cut off when Augustus obtained the empire. In this they seek only something to say; for all sound and sensible readers will be perfectly satisfied that they act without either judgment or shame, and vomit forth whatever comes into their thoughts. They are quite satisfied when they find anything plausible to say. That trifler, Barbinel, of whom I have previously spoken, thinks Agrippa has just as much right to be called a Christ as Cyrus; he allows his defection to the Romans, but states it to have been against his will, as he was still a worshipper of God. Although he was clearly an apostate, yet he treats him as by no means worse than all the rest, and for this reason he wishes him to be called the Christ. But, first of all, we know Agrippa not to have been a legitimate king, and his tyranny was directly contrary to the oracle of Jacob, since the scepter had been snatched away from the tribe of Judah. (<014910>Genesis 49:10.) He cannot by any means be called Christ, even though he had surpassed all angels in wisdom, and virtue, and power, and everything else. Here the lawful government of the people is treated, and this will not be found in the person of Agrippa. Hence the Jewish arguments are altogether futile. Next, another statement is added, he shall confirm the treaty with many. The Jews elude the force of this clause very dishonestly, and without the slightest shame. They twist it to Vespasian and Titus. Vespasian had been sent into Syria and the East by Nero. It is perfectly true, that though a wish to avoid a severe slaughter of his soldiers, he tried all conditions of peace, and enticed the Jews by every possible inducement to give themselves up to him, rather than to force him to the last extremity. Truly enough, then, Vespasian exhorted the Jews to peace, and Titus, after his father had passed over to Italy, followed the same policy; but was this confirming the covenant? When the angel of God is treating events of the last importance, and embracing the whole condition of the Church, their explanation is trifling who refer it to the Roman leaders wishing to enter into a treaty with the people. They attempted either to obtain possession of the whole empire of the East by covenant, or else they determined to use the utmost force to capture the city. This explanation, then, is utterly absurd. It is quite clear that the Jews are not only destitute of all reason when they explain this passage of the continual wrath of God, and exclude his favor and reconciliation with the people, but they are utterly dishonest, and utter words without shame, and throw a mist over the passage to darken it. At the same time their vanity is exposed, as they have no pretext for their comments.

I now come to the Ancient Writers. Jerome, as I stated shortly yesterday, recites various opinions. But before I treat them singly, I must answer in few words, the calumny of that impure and obstinate Rabbi, Barbinel. To deprive the Christians of all confidence and authority, he objects to their mutual differences; as if differences between men not sufficiently exercised in the Scriptures, could entirely overthrow their truth. Suppose, for instance, that I were to argue against him, the absence of consent among the Jews themselves. If any one is anxious to collect their different opinions, he may exult as a conqueror in this respect, as there is no agreement between the Rabbis. Nay, he does not point out the full extent of the differences which occur among Christians, for I am ready to concede far more than he demands. For that brawler was ignorant of all things, and betrays only petulance and talkativeness. His books are doubtless very plausible among the Jews who seek nothing else. But he takes as authorities with us, Africanus and Nicolaus de Lyra, Burgensis, and a certain teacher named Remond. He is ignorant of the names of Eusebius, f506 Origen, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Apollinaris, Jerome, Augustine, and other similar writers. We here perceive how brazen this prater is, who dares to babble about matters utterly beyond his knowledge. But as I have stated, I allow many differences among Christians. Eusebius himself agrees with the Jews in referring the word “Christ” to the priests, and when the angel speaks of the death of Christ, he thinks the death of Aristobulus, who was slain, is intended here. But this is altogether foolish. He is a Christian, you will say; true, but he fell into ignorance and error. The opinion of Africanus is more to the point, but the time by no means accords with that of Darius the son of Hystaspes, as I shall afterwards show. He errs again on another chapter, by taking the years to be lunar ones, as Lyranus does. Without doubt, this was only a cavil of his; through not finding their own years suit, they thought the whole number might be made up, by using intercalary years together with the 490. For before the year was adjusted to the course of the sun, the ancients were accustomed to reckon twelve lunar months, and afterwards to add another. The whole number of years may be made up according to their imagination, if we add those additional periods to the years here enumerated by the Prophet. But I reject this altogether. Hippolytus also errs in another direction; for he reckons the seven weeks as the time which elapsed between the death and resurrection of Christ, and herein he agrees with the Jews. Apollinaris also is mistaken, for he thinks we must begin at Christ’s birth, and then extends the prophecy to the end of the world. Eusebius also, who contends with him in ,a certain passage, takes the last. week for the whole period which must elapse till the end of the world shall arrive. I therefore am ready to acknowledge all these interpretations to be false, and yet I do not allow the truth of God to fail.

How, therefore, shall we arrive at any certain conclusion? It is not sufficient to refute the ignorance of others, unless we can make the truth apparent, and prove it by clear and satisfactory reasons. I am willing to spare the names of surviving commentators, and of those who have lived during our own times, yet I must say what will prove useful to my readers; meanwhile, I shall speak cautiously, because I am very desirous of being silent upon all points except those which are useful and necessary to be known. If any one has the taste and the needful leisure to inquire diligently into the time here mentioned, Oecolampadius rightly and prudently admonishes us, that we ought to make the computation from the beginning of the world. For until the ruin of the Temple and the destruction of the city, we can gather with certainty the number of years which have elapsed since the creation of the world; here there is no room for error. The series is plain enough in the Scriptures. But after this they leave the reader to other sources of information, since the computation from the overthrow of the Temple is loose and inaccurate, according to Eusebius and others. Thus, from the return of the people to the advent of Christ 540 years will be found to have elapsed. Thus we see how impossible it is to satisfy sensible readers, if we only reckon the years in the way Oecolampadius has done. f507

Philip Melancthon, who excels in genius and learning, and is happily versed in the studies of history, fakes a double computation. He begins one plan from the second year of Cyrus, that is, from the commencement of the Persian monarchy; but he reckons the seventy weeks to be finished about the death of Augustus, which is the period of the birth of Christ. When he arrives at the baptism of Christ, he adds another method of reckoning, which commences at the times of Darius: and as to the edict here mentioned, he understands it to have been promulgated by Darius the son of Hystaspes, since the building of the Temple was interrupted for about sixty-six years. As to this computation, I cannot by any means approve of it. And yet I confess the impossibility of finding any other exposition of what the angel says — until Christ the Leader, unless by referring it to the baptism of Christ.

These two points, then, in my judgment, must be held as fixed; first, the seventy weeks begin with the Persian monarchy, because a free return was then granted to the people; and secondly, they did not terminate till the baptism of Christ, when he openly commenced his work of satisfying the requirements of the office assigned him by his father. But we must now see how this will accord with the number of years. I confess here, the existence of such great differences between ancient writers, that we must use conjecture, because we have no certain explanation to bring forward, which we can point out as the only sufficient one. I am aware of the various calumnies of those who desire to render all things obscure, and to pour the darkness of night upon the clearest daylight. For the profane and the skeptical catch at this directly; for when they see any difference of opinion, they wish to shew the uncertainty of all our teaching. So if they perceive any difference in the views of various interpreters, even in matters of the smallest moment, they conclude all things to be involved in complete darkness. But their perverseness ought not to frighten us, because when any discrepancies occur in the narratives of profane historians, we do not pronounce the whole history fabulous. Let us take Grecian history, — how greatly the Greeks differ from each other? If any should make this a pretext for rejecting them all, and should assert all their narrations to be false, would not every one condemn him as singularly impudent? Now, if the Scriptures are not self-contradictory, but manifest slight diversities in either years or places, shall we on that account pronounce them entirely destitute of credit? We are well aware of the existence of some differences in all histories, and yet this does not cause them to lose their authority; they are still quoted, and confidence is reposed in them.

With respect to the present passage, I confess myself unable to deny the existence of much controversy concerning these years, among all the Greek and Latin writers. This is true: but, meanwhile, shall we bury whatever has already past, and think the world interrupted in its course? After Cyrus had transferred to the Persians the power of the East, some kings must clearly have followed him, although it is not evident who they were, and writers also differ about. the period and the reigns of each of them, and yet on the main points there is a general agreement. For some enumerate about 200 years; others 125 years; and some are between the two, reckoning 140 years. Whichever be the correct statement, there was clearly some succession of the Persian kings, and many additional years elapsed before Alexander the Macedonian obtained the monarchy of the whole East. This is quite clear. Now, from the death of Alexander the number of years is well known. Philip Melancthon cites a passage from Ptolemy which makes them 292; and many testimonies may be adduced, which confirm that period of time. If any object, the number of years might be reckoned by periods of five years, as the Romans usually did, or by Olympiads, with the Greeks, I confess that the reckoning by Olympiads removes all source of error. The Greeks used great diligence and minuteness, and were very desirous of glory. We cannot say the same of the Persian empire, for we are unable accurately to determine under what Olympiad each king lived, and the year in which he commenced his reign and in which he died. Whatever conclusion we adopt, my previous assertion is perfectly true, — if captious men are rebellious and darken the clear light of history, yet, they cannot wrest this passage from its real meaning, because we can gather from both the Greek and Latin historians, the whole sum of the times which will suit very clearly this prophecy of Daniel. Whoever will compare all historical testimony with the desire of learning, and, without any contention, will carefully number the years, he will find it impossible to express them better than by the expression of the angel — seventy weeks. For example, let any studious person, endued with acuteness, experience, and skill, discover whatever has been written in Greek and Latin, and distinguish the testimony of each writer under distinct heads, and afterwards compare the writers together, and determine the credibility of each, and how far each is a fit and classical authority, he will find the same result as that here given by the Prophet. This ought to be sufficient for us. But, meanwhile, we must remember how our ignorance springs chiefly from this Persian custom; whoever undertook a warlike expedition, appointed his son his viceroy. Thus, Cambyses reigned, according to some, twenty years, and according to others, only seven; because the crown was placed on his head during his father’s lifetime. Besides this, there was another reason. The people of the East are notoriously very restless, easily excited, and always desiring a change of rulers. Hence, contentions frequently arose among near relatives, of which we have ample narratives in the works of Herodotus. I mention him among others, as the fact is sufficiently known. When fathers saw the danger of their sons mutually destroying each other, they usually created one of them a king; and if they wished to prefer the younger brother to the elder, they called him “king” with the concurrence of their council. Hence, the years of their reigns became intermingled, without any fixed method of reckoning them. And, therefore, I said, even if Olympiads could never mislead us, this could not be asserted of the Persian empire. While we allow much diversity and contradiction united with great obscurity, still we must always return to the same point, — some conclusion may be found, which will agree with this prediction of the Prophet. Therefore I will not reckon these years one by one, but will only admonish each of you to weigh for himself, according to his capacity, what he reads in history. Thus all sound and moderate men will acquiesce, when they perceive how well this prophecy of Daniel agrees with the testimony of profane writers, in its general scope, according to my previous explanations.

I stated that we must begin with the monarchy of Cyrus; this is clearly to be gathered from the words of the angel, and especially from the division of the weeks. For he says, The seven weeks have reference to the repair of the city and temple. No cavils can in any way deprive the Prophet’s expression of its true force:from the going forth of the edict concerning the bringing back of the people and the building of the city, until Messiah the Leader, shall be seven weeks; and then, sixty-two weeks: afterward he adds, After the sixty-two weeks Christ shall be cut off. When, therefore, he puts seven weeks in the first place, and clearly expresses his reckoning the commencement of this period from the promulgation of the edict, to what can we refer these seven weeks, except to the times of the monarchy of Cyrus and that of Darius the son of Hystaspes? This is evident from the history of the Maccabees, as well as from the testimony of the evangelist John; and we may collect the same conclusion from the prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah, as the building of the Temple was interrupted during forty-six years. Cyrus permitted the people to build the Temple; the foundations were laid when Cyrus went out to the war in Scythia; the Jews were then compelled to cease their labors, and his successor Cambyses was hostile to this people. Hence the Jews say, (<430220>John 2:20,) Forty-six years was this Temple in building, and wilt thou build it in three days? They strive to deride Christ because he had:said, Destroy this Temple, and I will rebuild it in future days, as it was then a common expression, and had been handed down by their fathers, that the Temple had occupied this period in its construction. If you add the three years during which the foundations were laid, we shall then have forty-nine years, or seven weeks. As the event openly shews the completion of what the angel had predicted to Daniel, whoever wishes to wrest the meaning of the passage, only displays his own hardihood. And must we not reject every other interpretation, as obscuring so clear and obvious a meaning? We must next remember what I have previously stated. In yesterday’s Lecture we saw that seventy weeks were cut off for the people; the angel had also declared the going forth of the edict, for which Daniel had prayed. What necessity, then, is there for treating a certainty as doubtful? and why litigate the point when God pronounces the commencement of this period to be at the termination of the seventy years proclaimed by Jeremiah? It is quite certain, that these seventy years and seventy weeks ought to be joined together. Since, therefore, these periods are continuous, whoever refers this passage to the time of Darius Hystaspes, first of all breaks the links of a chain of events all connected together, and then perverts the whole spirit of the passage; for, as we yesterday stated, the angel’s object was to offer consolation in the midst of sorrow. For seventy years the people had been miserably afflicted in exile, and they seemed utterly abandoned, as if God would no longer acknowledge these children of Abraham for his people and inheritance. As this was the Almighty’s intention, it is quite clear that the commencement of the seventy weeks cannot be otherwise interpreted than by referring it to the monarchy of Cyrus. This is the first point.

We must now turn to the sixty-two weeks; and if I cannot satisfy every one, I shall still content myself with great simplicity, and I trust that all sound and humble disciples of Christ will easily acquiesce in this exposition. If we reckon the years from the reign of Darius to the baptism of Christ, sixty-two weeks or thereabouts will be found to have elapsed. As I previously remarked, I am not scrupulous to a few days or months, or even a single year; for how great is that perverseness which would lead us to reject what historians relate because they do not all agree to a single year? Whatever be the correct conclusion, we shall find about 480 years between the time of Darius and the death of Christ. Hence it becomes necessary to prolong these years to the baptism of Christ, because when the angel speaks of the last week, he plainly states, The covenant shall be confirmed at that time, and then the Messiah shall be cut off. As this was to be done in the last week, we must necessarily extend the time to the preaching of the Gospel. And for this reason Christ is called a “Leader,” because at his conception he was destined to be king of heaven and earth, although he did not commence his reign till he was publicly ordained the Master and Redeemer of his people. The word “Leader” is applied as a name before the office was assumed; as if the angel had said, the end of the seventy weeks will occur when Christ openly assumes the office of king over his people, by collecting them from that miserable and horrible dispersion under which they had been so long ground down. I shall put off the rest till to-morrow.

PRAYER.

Grant, Almighty God, since thy servants before the setting forth of thine only-begotten Son were sustained by those oracles which had not then been realized by the event, that we at; this day may learn to put our trust in our Lord, who has so clearly revealed himself to us by his Gospel. May we stand so firm and constant in the faith of that Gospel, that we may never be tossed about by the disturbances and tumults of this world. May we ever proceed in the course of thy holy calling, till at length we are released from all contests, and arrive at that blessed rest which is laid up for us in heaven, by the same our Lord Jesus Christ. — Amen.


Lecture Fifty-First.

In yesterday’s Lecture I explained my views of the seventy weeks. I now return to the words of the Prophet, on which I touched but briefly. He first says, Seventy weeks have been cut off upon thy people, and upon the holy city. By these words he implies first, the Israelites should be under the care and protection of God until the arrival of Christ; and next, Christ would come before the completion of the seventy years. The angel announces these two points, to assure the faithful of God’s perpetual remembrance of his covenant, and to sustain them in the midst of all their anxieties and distresses. A remarkable passage now follows concerning the office of Christ. The angel foretells what they were to expect from Christ. First of all, he announces remission of sins; for he points this out by the form of expression, to prohibit or close up wickedness, to seal up sinfulness, and to expiate iniquity. It does not surprise us to find the angel using many phrases in a matter of such importance. Such repetition in the language seems to us superfluous, but the knowledge of salvation is comprehended under this head. We are thus informed how God is reconciled to us by gratuitous pardon, and this is the reason why the angel insists on this subject by so many words. (<420177>Luke 1:77.) But we must remember what I said the day before yesterday-there is a tacit contrast between the remission now offered to us under the Gospel, and that formerly offered to the fathers under the Law. From the creation of the world no one could call upon God with a tranquil mind and with sure confidence, unless by relying upon the hope of pardon. For we know the door of mercy to be closed against us all through our being deservedly under God’s wrath. Hence, unless the doctrine of gratuitous remission of sins shone forth, we should enjoy no liberty of calling upon God, and all hope of salvation would be at the same time extinct. It follows, therefore, the fathers under the Law had this benefit in common with us, namely, a certain persuasion of God’s being’ propitious to them, and of his pardoning their transgressions. What, then, is the meaning of the phrase, Christ at his advent will seal up sins, and expiate iniquities? Here, as I have said, a difference is shewn between the condition of the old and the new Church. The fathers indeed had hopes of remission of their sins, but their condition was inferior to ours in two respects. Their teaching was not so plain as ours, nor were their promises so full and steadfast. We excel them also in another respect. God bears witness to us that he is our Father, and so we flee to him with the utmost freedom and fearlessness; and, in addition to this, Christ has already reconciled us to the Father by his blood. (<450815>Romans 8:15; <480406>Galatians 4:6.) Thus we are superior to them, not only in our instruction, but in effect and completeness, since at this day God not only promises us the pardon of our sins, but testifies and affirms their entire blotting out and becoming abolished through the sacrifice of Christ his Son. This difference is openly denoted by the angel when he says, Sins should be closed up and sealed, and iniquities also expiated when Christ came. Hence we stated previously how something better was promised than the fathers experienced before the manifestation of Christ.

We here perceive the sense in which Christ shut up sins, and sealed wickedness, and expiated iniquity; for he not only introduced the doctrine of gratuitous pardon, and promised that God would be entreated by the people, through his desire to pardon their iniquity, but he really accomplished whatever was needful to reconcile men to God. He poured forth his blood by which he blotted out our sins; he also offered himself as an expiatory victim, and satisfied God by the sacrifice of his death, so as entirely to absolve us from guilt. Moses often uses the word afj, cheta, when speaking of sacrifices; but the angel here teaches us indirectly how all the expiation’s under the law were only figurative, and nothing but shadows of the future; for, had sins been then really expiated, there would have been no need of the coming of Christ. As, therefore, expiation was suspended until the manifestation of Christ, there never was any true expiation under the law, but all its ceremonies were but shadowy representations. He afterwards adds, To bring in eternal righteousness. This righteousness depends on the expiation. For how could God reckon the faithful just, or impute righteousness to them, as Paul informs us, unless by covering and burying their sins, or purging them in, the blood of Christ? (<450411>Romans 4:11.) Is not God himself appeased by the sacrifice of his Son? These phrases, then, must be united, Iniquity shall be expiated, and eternal righteousness brought manifestly forward. No righteousness will ever be found in mortal man, unless he obtain it from Christ; and if we use great accuracy of expression, righteousness cannot exist in us otherwise than through that gratuitous pardon which we obtain through the sacrifice of Christ. Meanwhile, Scripture purposely unites together remission of sins and righteousness, as also Paul says, Christ died for our sins, and rose again for our justification. (<450425>Romans 4:25.) His death procured satisfaction for us, so that we should not always remain guilty, nor be subject to the condemnation of eternal death, and then by his resurrection he procured righteousness for us, and also acquired eternal life. The reason why the Prophet here treats justice as perpetual or “of the ages,” is this: the fathers under the Law were compelled to please God by daily sacrifices. There would have been no necessity for repeating sacrifices, as the Apostle admonishes us, if there had been any inherent virtue in a single sacrifice to appease the Almighty. (<581001>Hebrews 10:1.) But since all the rites of the law tended to the same purpose of foreshadowing Christ, as the one and perpetual victim for reconciling men to God, daily sacrifices must necessarily be offered. Whence, as we formerly said, these satisfactions were plainly insufficient for procuring righteousness. Therefore Christ alone brought in eternal righteousness, — his death alone sufficed for expiating all transgressions. For Christ suffered, not only to satisfy for our sins, but he sets before us his own death in which we should acquiesce. Hence this eternal justice depends upon the enduring effect of the death of Christ, since the blood of Christ flowed as it were before God, and while we are daily purged and cleansed from our pollution, God is also daily appeased for us. We observe, then, how righteousness was not completely revealed under the law, but is now set before us under the Gospel. It follows, To seal up the vision and the prophecy.

This clause may have two senses, because, as I said before, Christ sealed up all visions and prophecies, for they are all yea and amen in him, as Paul says. (<470120>2 Corinthians 1:20.) As, therefore, God’s promises were all satisfied and fulfilled in Christ for the salvation of the faithful, so with propriety the angel affirms of his advent, It shall seal up the vision and the prophecy. This is one sense. The other is, the vision shall be sealed in the sense of its ceasing, as if the angel had said, Christ shall put an end to prophecies, because our spiritual position differs from that of the fathers. For God formerly spoke in many ways, as the Church had to pass through a variety of conflicting states and circumstances. But when Christ was manifested, we arrive at the close of prophetic times. Hence his advent is called the fullness of times, (<480404>Galatians 4:4; <580101>Hebrews 1:1;) and elsewhere Paul says, we have arrived at the last days, (<461011>1 Corinthians 10:11,) since we are waiting for the second advent of Christ, and we have no need of fresh prophecies as formerly. Then all things were very obscure, and God governed his people under the dark shadow of a cloud. Our condition is in these days different. Hence we are not surprised at the angel pronouncing all the visions and prophecies sealed up; for the law and the prophets were until John, but from that time the kingdom of God began to be promulgated; that is, God appeared much more clearly than before. (<401113>Matthew 11:13; <421616>Luke 16:16.) The very name of vision implies something obscure and doubtful.:But now Christ, the Sun of righteousness, has shone upon us, and we are in meridian brightness; the Law appears only like a candle in the government of our life, because Christ points out to us in full splendor the way of salvation. Without doubt, the angel here wished us to distinguish between the obscure teaching of the Law, with its ancient figures, and the open light of the Gospel. Besides, the name “prophecy” is taken as well for the prophetic office as for the predictions delivered.

He afterwards adds, To anoint the Holy of Holies. The angel here alludes to the rite of consecration which was observed under the Law; for the tabernacle with its appendages was consecrated by anointing. It is here shewn how the perfect and truly spiritual anointing was put off until the advent of Christ. He is himself properly and deservedly called the Holy One of holy ones, or the Tabernacle of God, because his body was really the temple of deity, and holiness must be sought from him. (<510209>Colossians 2:9.) The Prophet here reminds us of the anointing of the sanctuary under the Law being only a figure; but in Christ we have the true exhibition of the reality, although he was not visibly anointed with oil, but spiritually, when the Spirit of God rested upon him with all his gifts. Wherefore he says, (<431719>John 17:19,) For their sakes I sanctify myself.

It now follows, Thou shalt know and understand, from the going forth of a word, (or decree,) for the bringing back of the people and the building of Jerusalem, until Christ the Leader, shall be seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks, and the people shall returns, (or be brought back,) and the street shall be built, and the wall, (or trench,) and that too, in the narrow interval of the times; for thus I resolve the copula. As we have already said, the time which had been fixed beforehand for the perfect state of the Church is divided. In the first place, he puts seven weeks by themselves; he then adds sixty-two weeks, and leaves one, of which we shall afterwards speak. He immediately explains why he separates the seven weeks from the rest, rendering every other interpreter unnecessary. Next, as to the going forth of the edict, we have stated how inadmissible is any interpretation but the first decree of Cyrus, which permitted the people freely to return to their country. For the seven weeks which make up forty-nine years clearly prove this assertion. From the beginning of the Persian monarchy to the reign of Darius the son of Hystaspes, the hostility of all the neighboring nations to the Jews is notorious, especially in interrupting the building of their temple and city. Although the people had free permission to return to their country, yet they were there harassed by hostilities, and were almost induced to repine at this mark of God’s favor. A great part of them preferred their former exile to a harassing and perplexing life spent among their most cruel foes. This is the reason why the angel informs them of the seven weeks to elapse after the people should be brought back, for they must not expect to spend their life in peace, and build their city and temple without any inconvenience; for he announces the occurrence of this event in the narrowness of the time. By the word qwx, tzok, he does not mean “shortness,” but rather signifies the anxious nature of the times, in consequence of the numerous troubles which all their neighbors should bring on the wretched people. It was worth while to support the pious by this previous admonition, lest they should cast away the desire of building the temple, or become utterly desponding through the weight of the afflictions which they must bear. We know what glowing predictions the prophets uttered concerning the happy state of the Church after its return; but the reality was far different from this, and the faithful might have been quite drowned in despair unless the angel had raised their spirits by this prophecy. We thus perceive the great utility of this admonition, and at the same time it may be applied as a practical example to ourselves. Although God’s loving-kindness to us was wonderful, when the pure Gospel emerged out of that dreadful darkness in which it had been buried for so many ages, yet we still experience the troubled aspect of affairs. The impious still ceaselessly and furiously oppose the miserable Church by both the sword and the virulence of their tongues. Domestic enemies’, use clandestine arts in their schemes to subvert our edifice; wicked men destroy all order, and interpose many obstacles to impede our progress. But God still wishes in these days to build his spiritual temple amidst the anxieties of the times; the faithful have still to hold the trowel in one hand and the sword in the other, as we find it in the book of Nehemiah, (<160417>Nehemiah 4:17,) because the building of the Church must still be united with many contests. It afterwards follows: —

<270926>Daniel 9:26

26. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolation’s are determined.

26. Et post hebdomadas sexaginta duas excidetur Christus, et nihil erit, et urbem et sanctuarium perdet populus ducis venientis, et finis ejus cum inundatione erit, vel, in diluvio, et ad finem belli definitio desolationum.

 

Here Daniel treats of the sixty-two weeks which elapsed between the sixth year of Darius and the baptism of Christ, when the Gospel began to be promulgated, but at the same time he does not neglect the seven weeks of which he had been speaking. For they comprehend the space of time which intervened between the Persian monarchy and the second edict which again granted liberty to the people after the death of Cambyses. After the sixty-two weeks which should succeed the seven former ones, Messiah shall be cut off, says he. Here the angel predicts the death of Christ. The Jews refer this to Agrippa, but this, as we have already observed, is utterly nugatory and foolish. Eusebius and others refer it to Aristobulus, but this is equally destitute of reason. Therefore the angel speaks of the only Mediator, as in the former verse he had said, until Christ the Leader. The extension of this to all the priesthood is both forced and absurd. The angel rather means this — Christ should then be manifest to undertake the government of his people; or, in other words, until Messiah shall appear and commence his reign. We have already remarked upon those who erroneously and childishly explain the name “Leader,” as if it were inferior in dignity to that of king. As the angel had used the name “Christ” in the sense of Mediator, so he repeats it in this passage in the same sense. And surely, as he had formerly treated of those singular marks of God’s favor, by which the new Church was to surpass the old, we cannot understand the passage otherwise than of Christ alone, of whom the priests and kings under the Law were equally a type. The angel, then, here asserts, Christ should die, and at the same time he specifies the kind of death by saying, nothing shall remain to him. This short clause may be taken in various senses, yet I do not hesitate to represent the angel’s meaning to be this — Christ should so die as to be entirely reduced to nothing. Some expound it thus, — -the city or the people shall be as nothing to him; meaning, he shall be divorced from the people, and their adoption shall cease, since we know the Jews to have so fallen away from true piety by their perfidy as to be entirely alienated from God, and to have lost the name of a Church. But that is forced. Others think it means, it shall be neither hostile nor favorable; and others, nothing shall remain to him in the sense of being destitute of all help; but all these comments appear to me too frigid. The genuine sense, I have no doubt, is as follows, — the death of Christ should be without any attractiveness or loveliness, as Isaiah says. (<235302>Isaiah 53:2.) In truth, the angel informs us of the ignominious character of Christ’s death, as if he should vanish from the sight of men through want of comeliness. Nothing, therefore, shall remain to him, says he; and the obvious reason is, because men would think him utterly abolished.

He now adds, The leader of the coming people shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Here the angel inserts what rather concerns the end of the chapter, as he will afterwards return to Christ. He here mentions what should happen at Christ’s death, and purposely interrupts the order of the narrative to shew that their impiety would not escape punishment, as they not only rejected the Christ of God, but slew him and endeavored to blot out his remembrance from the world. And although the angel had special reference to the faithful alone, still unbelievers required to be admonished with the view of rendering them without excuse. We are well aware of the supineness and brutality of this people, as displayed in their putting Christ to death; for this event occasioned a triumph for the priests and the whole people. Hence these points ought to be joined together. But; the angel consulted the interests of the faithful, as they would be greatly shocked at the death of Christ, which we have alluded to, and also at his ignominy and rejection. As this was a method of perishing so very horrible in the opinion of mankind, the minds of all the pious might utterly despond unless the angel had come to their relief. Hence he proposes a suitable remedy, The leader of the coming people shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; as if he had said, There is no encouragement for the unbelievers to please and flatter themselves, because Christ was reduced to nothing after a carnal sense; vengeance shall instantly overtake them; the leader of the coming people shall destroy both the city and the sanctuary. He names a coming leader, to prevent the unbelievers from resting secure through self-flattery, as if God would not instantly stretch forth his hand to avenge himself upon them. Although the Roman army which should destroy the city and sanctuary did not immediately appear, yet the Prophet assures them of the arrival of a leader with an army which should occasion the destruction of both the city and the sanctuary. Without the slightest doubt, he here signifies that God would inflict dreadful vengeance upon the Jews for their murder of his Christ. That trifler, Barbinel, when desirous of refuting the Christians, says — more than two hundred years elapsed between the destruction of the Temple and the death of Christ. How ignorant he was! Even if we were to withhold all confidence from the evangelists and apostles, yet profane writers would soon convict him of folly. But such is the barbarity of his nation, and so great their obstinacy, that they are ashamed of nothing. As far as we are concerned, we gather with sufficient clearness from the passage how the angel touched briefly upon the future slaughter of the city and the destruction of the Temple, lest the faithful should be overwhelmed with trials in consequence of Christ’s death, and lest the unbelievers should be hardened through this occurrence. The interpretation of some writers respecting the people of the coming leader, as if Titus wished to spare the most beautiful city and preserve it untouched, seems to me too refined. I take it simply as a leader about to come with his army to destroy the city, and utterly to overthrow the Temple.

He afterwards adds, Its end shall be in a deluge. Here the angel removes all hope from the Jews, whose obstinacy might lead them to expect some advantage in their favor, for we are already aware of their great stupidity when in a state of desperation. Lest the faithful should indulge in the same feelings with the apostates and rebellious, he says, The end of the leader, Titus, should be in a deluge; meaning, he should overthrow the city and national polity, and utterly put an end to the priesthood and the race, while all God’s favors would at the same time be withdrawn. In this sense his end should be in a deluge. Lastly, at the end of the war a most decisive desolation. The word txrjn, nech-retzeth, “a completion,” can scarcely be taken otherwise than as a noun substantive. A plural noun follows, twmm, shem-moth, “of desolation’s” or “devastation’s;” and taken verbally it means “definite or terminated laying waste.” The most skillful grammarians allow that the former of these words may be taken substantively for “termination,” as if the angel had said: Even if the Jews experience a variety of fortune in battle, and have hopes of being superior to their enemies, and of sallying out and prohibiting their foes from entering the city; nay, even if they repel them, still the end of the war shall result in utter devastation, and their destruction is clearly defined. Two points, then, are to be noticed here; first, all hope is to be taken from the Jews, as they must be taught the necessity for their perishing; and secondly, a reason is ascribed for this, namely, the determination of the Almighty and his inviolable decree. It afterwards follows: —

<270927>Daniel 9:27

27. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

27. Et roborabit, f508 foedus multis, hebdomade una: et dimidia hebdomade quiescere faciet f509 sacrificium, et oblationem: et super extensionem f510 abominationem obstupescet, f511 et ad finem, et ad determinationem stillabit super stupentem.

 

The angel now returns to Christ. We have explained why he made mention of the coming slaughter; first, to shew the faithful that they had no reason for remaining in the body of the nation in preference to being cut off from it; and next, to prevent the unbelievers from being satisfied with their obstinacy and their contempt of their inestimable blessings, by their rejecting the person of Christ. Thus this clause was interposed concerning the future devastation of the city and temple. The angel now continues his discourse concerning Christ by saying, he should confirm the treaty with many for one week. This clause answers to the former, in which Christ is called a Leader. Christ took upon him the character of a leader, or assumed the kingly office, when he promulgated the grace of God. This is the confirmation of the covenant of which the angel now speaks. As we have already stated, the legal expiation of other ritual ceremonies which God designed to confer on the fathers is contrasted with the blessings derived from Christ; and we now gather the same idea from the phrase, the confirmation of the covenant. We know how sure and stable was God’s covenant under the law; he was from the beginning always truthful, and faithful, and consistent with himself. But as far as man was concerned, the covenant of the law was weak, as we learn from Jeremiah. (<243131>Jeremiah 31:31, 32.) I will enter into a new covenant with you, says he; not such as I made with your fathers, for they made it vain. We here observe the difference between the covenant which Christ sanctioned by his death and that of the Jewish law. Thus God’s covenant is established with us, because we have been once reconciled by the death of Christ; and at the same time the effect of the Holy Spirit is added, because God inscribes the law upon our hearts; and thus his covenant is not engraven in stones, but in our hearts of flesh, according to the teaching of the Prophet Ezekiel. (<261119>Ezekiel 11:19.) Now, therefore, we understand why the angel says, Christ should confirm the covenant for one week, and why that week was placed last in order. In this week will he confirm the covenant with many. But I cannot finished this exposition just now.

PRAYER.

Grant, Almighty God, since all the treasures of thy goodness and indulgence were so liberally diffused, when thine only-begotten Son appeared, and are now daily offered to us through the Gospel: Grant, I say, that we may not deprive ourselves of such important blessings by our ingratitude. May we embrace thy Son with true faith; and enjoy the benefit of the redemption which he has procured for us. Being cleansed and purged by his blood, may we be acceptable in thy sight, and venture with full and certain confidence to call thee Father. May we fly to thy pity and assistance in all our miseries and troubles, until at length thou shalt gather us into that eternal rest, which has been obtained for us through the blood of thine only-begotten Son. — Amen.


Lecture Fifty-Second.

In the last Lecture we explained how Christ confirmed the covenant with many during the last week; for he gathered together the sons of God from their state of dispersion when the devastation of the Church was so horrible and wretched. Although the Gospel was not instantly promulgated among foreign nations, yet Christ is correctly said to have confirmed the covenant with many, as the nations were directly called to the hope of salvation. (<401005>Matthew 10:5.) Although he forbade the disciples to preach the Gospel then to either the Gentiles or Samaritans, yet he taught them that many sheep were dispersed abroad, and that the time at which God would make one sheep-fold was at hand. (<431016>John 10:16.) This was fulfilled after his resurrection. During his lifetime he began to anticipate slightly the calling of the Gentiles, and thus I interpret these words of the Prophet, he will confirm the covenant with many. For I take the word “many” here, ybr, rebim, comparatively, for the faithful Gentiles united with the Jews. It is very well known that God’s covenant was deposited by a kind of hereditary right with the Israelites until the same favor was extended to the Gentiles also. Therefore Christ is said not only to have renewed God’s covenant with a single nation, but generally with the world at large. I confess, indeed, the use of the word many for all, as in the fifth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, and in other places, (<450519>Romans 5:19,) but there seems to be a contrast between the ancient Church, included within very narrow boundaries, and the new Church, which is extended over the whole world. We know how many, formerly strangers, have been called from the distant regions of the earth by the gospel, and so joined in alliance to the Jews as to be all in the same communion and all reckoned equally sons of God.

The Prophet now subjoins, He will make to cease the sacrifice and offering for half a week. We ought to refer this to the time of the resurrection. For while Christ passed through the period of his life on earth, he did not put an end to the sacrifices; but after he had offered himself up as a victim, then all the rites of the law came to a close. By the words “sacrifice and offering” the Prophet implies all ceremonies, a part being put for the whole; as if he had said, after Christ had offered up one eternal sacrifice, all the customary ceremonies of the Law were abolished; for otherwise Christ’s death would have been superfluous, had he not put an end to all the old shadows of the Law. Although the sacrifices were continued for many years after Christ’s death, yet we can no longer call them “legitimate,” for no reason can be offered why the sacrifices of the Law should be pleasing to God, except their reference to that heavenly pattern which Moses saw on the mount. (<022540>Exodus 25:40.) Hence, after Christ had appeared and expiated all the sins of the world, it became necessary for all sacrifices to cease. (<580805>Hebrews 8:5.) This is the Prophet’s intention when he says, Christ should cause the sacrifices to cease for half a week. He embraces two points at the same time; first, Christ really and effectually put an end to the sacrifices of the Law; and secondly, he proved it to the world in the preaching of the Gospel by his Apostles. We observe, then, the sense in which God testified by his Prophet the cessation of sacrifices after Christ’s resurrection. The veil of the temple was then rent in twain; true liberty was proclaimed; the faithful might then feel themselves to be full grown men, and no longer subject to that government of childhood to which they had submitted under the Law.

The second clause of the verse now follows: we have read it before, but we now repeat it to refresh the memory. And over the extension, or expansion, of abominations he shall cause astonishment, or stupefaction; and even to consumption and determination he shall pour himself upon the desolator. Some translate, It shall be poured or shall distill: we shall treat the words afterwards. The passage is obscure, and may be rendered in a variety of ways, and consequently interpreters differ much from each other. Some take nk, knaph, “a wing,” for a “cherub;” then they change the numbers from singular to plural, and think the Prophet alludes to winged cherubim. This gives those who adopt this rendering a two-fold method of explaining it. Some say the abomination shall be above the wings, that is, the ark of the covenant, because the temple was profaned, and the abomination was so ruinous that it destroyed even the very cherubim. Others take it causally — the abominations shall be for the sake of the cherubim. But I leave these subtleties, as they do not seem to me to have any solidity. Others, again, follow the Greek version, as quoted by Christ in the 24th chapter of Matthew (<402401>Matthew 24) and elsewhere, although Christ seems rather to refer to the 12th chapter of our Prophet. But as these two passages refer to the same abomination, I will not insist on this point; I will only remark upon the translation of one word. Those who translate “the abominations of desolation” treat the words of Daniel too carelessly, for there is no grammatical dependence of one word on the other, or, technically speaking, no state of regimen. The preferable opinion is that which considers the word “wing” to mean extremity or extension. Others, again, treat “extremity” as if it meant a state of despair; as if the angel had said, on account of the extremity of the abominations, as evils should accumulate upon evils without end till matters came to the last pitch of despair. Others, again, explain “the wing of abominations” more simply for the expansion itself, as if the angel had stated, the temple shall be openly profaned, and the pollution shall be apparent far and wide.

Interpreters differ again about the words mm, rmesmem and m, sem-em usually translated “make desolate,” and “desolation.” Some take the former transitively, and others as neuter; the latter signifies to destroy and lay waste, and also to wonder and be astonished. I think these two words ought to be used in the same sense; as if the Prophet had said, all shall be astonished at the extent of the abominations; when they shall perceive the temple worship, swept away as by a deluge, then they shall be mightily astonished. He afterwards adds the calamity which commenced when God shewed the pollution of the temple shall distill or pour itself upon him who is astonished. We will treat the occurrence itself to enable us to understand the sense of the words better. I have no hesitation in stating God’s wish to cut off all hope of restoration from the Jews, whom we know to have been blinded by a foolish confidence, and to have supposed God’s presence confined to a visible temple. As they were thus firmly persuaded of the impossibility of God’s ever departing from them, they ought to be deprived of their false confidence, and , no longer deceive themselves by such flattering hopes. Thus the temporary pollution of the temple was shewn by Ezekiel. (<261018>Ezekiel 10:18.) For when the prophets constantly proclaimed the approach of their enemies to destroy both the city and temple, the greater part of the people derided them. In their opinion this would overthrow all their confidence in God, as if he had been false to his word, in promising them perpetual rest on Mount Zion. (<19D214>Psalm 132:14.) Here Ezekiel relates his vision of God sitting in the temple — he then vanished, and the temple was deprived of all its glory. This was but temporary.

But we are now treating of a profanation of the temple, which should prove, if I may use the phrase, eternal and irreparable. Without the slightest doubt, this prophecy was fulfilled when the city was captured and overthrown, and the temple utterly destroyed by Titus the son of Vespasian. This satisfactorily explains the events here predicted. Some consider the word “abominations” to be used metaphorically, and to signify the overthrow of the city; but this seems to me forced. Others explain it of the statue of Caligula erected in the temple; and others again, of the standard of Tiberius, who ordered the eagles to be placed on the pinnacle of the temple. But I interpret it simply of that profanation which occurred after the gospel began to be promulgated, and of the punishment inflicted upon the Jews when they perceived their temple subject to the grossest forms of desecration, because they were unwilling to admit the only-begotten Son of God as its true glory. Others, again, understand the impious doctrines and superstitions, as well as the perverse errors with which the priests were imbued. But I think the passage marks generally the change which took place directly after Christ’s resurrection, when the obstinate impiety of the people was fully detected. They were then summoned to repentance; although they had endeavored to extinguish all hope of salvation through Christ, yet God stretched forth his hand to them, and tried whether their wickedness was curable or not. After the grace of Christ had been obstinately rejected, then the extension of abominations followed; that is, God overwhelmed the temple in desecration, and caused its sanctity and glory to pass utterly away. Although this vengeance did not take place immediately after the close of the last week, yet God sufficiently avenged their impious contempt of his gospel, and besides this, he shews how he had no longer need of any visible temple, as he had now dedicated the whole world to himself from east to west.

I now return again to the explanation of the words separately. The angel says, Upon the extension of abominations, astonishment, or astonishing; for some think it an adjective, and others a substantive; but the meaning is, all should be stupefied, or astonished. I do not. altogether object to the meaning already referred to — namely, rendering the word “wing” as “extremity;” for the sense will then be — when the abominations come to their height or extremity; and the sense is the same, if we use the word “expansion.” God intends to shew us the extensive range of the pollutions,. — upwards, downwards, and all around, they should obscure and bury the temple’s glory. Hence on account of the extremity or expansion of abominations there shall be astonishment, for all shall be amazed. The angel seems to oppose this stupor to pride; for the Jews were thoroughly persuaded of God’s being strictly bound to themselves, and of the impossibility of his being torn away from his own temple where he had fixed his eternal dwelling-place. He predicts the approach of this amazement instead of their supine security.

He adds next, And unto consumption. ,hlk keleh, signifies “end” and “perfection,” as well as “destruction.” I take it here for consumption or destruction. It shall flow even unto astonishment. I have already remarked upon the words implying this astonishment; slaughter, or something like it, ought to be understood before the verb. There is no doubt at all about the Prophet’s meaning. He says this slaughter should be like a continual shower, consuming the whole people. He speaks of the people as astonished by their calamities, and deprived of all hope of escape from them; for the slaughter shall flow forth upon the astonished people. Meanwhile he shews how foolishly the Jews indulged in pride and how fallaciously they flattered themselves in supposing the Almighty permanently attached and bound to themselves and their visible temple. The slaughter shall flow forth even to consumption, meaning, until the whole people should perish. He adds also another noun, even to a determined end. We have already unfolded the meaning of this noun. Here the Prophet explains the cause of that eternal distinction which the Almighty had determined and decreed to be irrevocable.


Chapter 10

The tenth chapter now follows, which Daniel introduces as a preface to the eleventh and twelfth. He relates the manner in which he was affected, when the last vision was presented to him. This he briefly explains as referring to events about to occur until the advent of Christ; and then he extends it to the final day of the resurrection. God had previously predicted to his Prophet the future condition of the Church from its return from Babylon to the advent of Christ, but in the eleventh chapter he more distinctly and clearly points with the finger to every event, as we shall perceive in proceeding with our comments. In this chapter Daniel assures us that the prophecies which he is about to discuss are worthy of more than ordinary attention; when the angel appeared, he was immediately affected with sorrow and grief; then he was one moment astonished, and the next cast down by the secret instinct of the Spirit; he lay like a dead man, till he was restored again and again by the angel of God. We shall observe these points as we proceed. He first says —

<271001>Daniel 10:1

1. In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed, was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision.

1. Anno tertio Cyri regis Persarum sermo revelatus fuit Danieli, cujus nomen Beltsazar, et veritas sermo, f512 et tempus magnum, f513 et intellexit sermonem, et intelligentia ei fuit in visione.

 

We observe the Prophet by no means content with the usual method of address, for the purpose of stirring up the attention of the pious, and of assuring them how worthy of special notice are the prophecies which follow. He marks the time, the third year of King Cyrus, as the Jews were then forbidden by a new edict to build their temple, although liberty to do so had been previously granted to them. He says, “a word was made known to him, and he adds, the word was true, although the time was long. The time is treated more at length in the next verse. By saying, a word was manifested to him, he is thought to distinguish this prophecy from others, as it was not offered to him by either a dream or a vision. He uses the word harm, merah, a “vision,” at the end of this verse, but I do not see why the noun “word” should be taken in so restricted a sense. Interpreters, again, seek for a reason why he mentions his own name as Belteshazzar; some think it celebrates some honor to which he was raised; others treat it as commending the superiority of his abilities, as the name implies — descended from heaven; while others bring forward various conjectures. I have no hesitation in stating Daniel’s wish to erect some illustrious monument of his vocation among the Medes, Persians, and Chaldeans. There, most probably, he was usually called Belteshazzar, and the name Daniel was almost buried in oblivion, and so he wished to testify to his being no stranger to the people of God, although he suffered a foreign name to be imposed upon him; for we have already seen the impossibility of his avoiding it. I therefore think the Prophet had no other intention than to render this prophecy notorious throughout all those regions in which he was well known under the name of Belteshazzar. Besides this, he wished to testify to his fellow-countrymen that he was not entirely cut off from the Church through being called Belteshazzar by the Chaldees; for he was always the same, and while banished from his country, was endued with the Spirit of prophecy, as we have previously seen. As the name of Daniel was almost unknown in Chaldea, he wished to make known the existence of both his names.

It now follows, And there is truth in the word. Daniel here commends the certainty of the prophecy, as if he had said, I bring nothing before you but what is firm and stable, and whose actual performance the faithful ought confidently to expect. There is truth in the word, says he; meaning, there was no room for doubting his assertions, for he had been divinely instructed in events which should be fulfilled in their own time. I understand what follows to mean, although the time should be long. Some of the Rabbis take abx, tzeba, for the angelic hosts, which is quite absurd in this place. The word signifies “army” as well as an appointed time, but the exposition which they thrust upon the passage cannot stand its ground. The particle “and,” as I think, must here be taken adversatively, in the sense of “although.” Thus the Prophet proclaims our need of calmness of mind, and patient endurance, until God shall really complete and perform what he has verbally announced. This feeling ought to be extended to all prophecies. We know how ardent are the dispositions of men, and how hastily they are carried away by their own desires. We are compelled, therefore, to curb our impetuosity, if we wish to make progress in the school of God, and we must admit this general principle: If a promise should tarry, wait for it; for it will surely come, and will not delay. (<350203>Habakkuk 2:3) Here Daniel affirms in a special sense, the time will be long this would restrain the faithful from rushing headlong with too much haste; they would command their feelings, and remain tranquil till the full maturity of the period should arrive.

He afterwards adds, He understood the vision; by this assertion he confirms the prophecy which he is about to explain, and thus assures us of his not uttering anything either perplexed or obscure. He also induces all the pious to hope for the exercise of the same understanding as he had himself attained; as if he had said, I know what God wished; he has explained to me by his angel various events which I will now set forth in their own order; let every one peruse these prophecies attentively and reverently, and may God grant him the same gift of understanding, and lead him to certain knowledge. The information conveyed by the Prophet belongs to all the pious, to deter them from sluggishness and despair. At the first glance this teaching may appear very obscure, but they must seek from the Lord that light of manifestation which he deigned to bestow upon the Prophet himself. It now follows, —

<271002>Daniel 10:2-3

2. In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks.

2. Diebus illis ego Daniel dedi me luctui tribus hebdomadibus dierum.

3. I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.

3. Panem deliciarum f514 non comedi: et caro et vinum non intravit in os meum: et unguendo non fui unctus donec impletae sunt tres hebdomades dierum.

 

We gather from this passage why the angel appeared to the Prophet in the third year of Cyrus. He says, he was then in the greatest sorrow; and what was the cause of it? At that period we know an interruption of the work of rebuilding the temple and city to have taken place. Cyrus was gone to a distance; he had set out for Asia Minor, and was carrying on war with the Scythians. his son Cambyses was corrupted by his couriers, and forbade the Jews to proceed with the rebuilding of their city and temple. The freedom of the people might then seem in vain. For God had promised the Jews in glowing language a return to their country with their standards unfurled. Besides this, we know the splendid language of the prophets respecting the glory of the second temple. (<235212>Isaiah 52:12; <370209>Haggai 2:9, and elsewhere.) When thus deprived of all opportunity of rebuilding their temple, what could the Jews determine except that they had been deluded after returning to their country, and God had made a shew of disappointing expectations which had turned out a mere laughing-stock and deception? This was the cause of the grief and anxiety which oppressed the holy Prophet. We now understand why he mentions the third year of Cyrus, as the circumstances of that period, even at this day, point out the reason of his abstinence from all delicacies.

He says, He was in affliction for three weeks of days. The Hebrews often use the phrase weeks or times of days for complete periods. Very possibly, Daniel uses the word “days” here, to prevent a mistake which might easily occur through his so lately speaking of weeks of years. The distinction is thus more clearly marked between the seventy weeks of years previously explained, and these three weeks of days here mentioned. And the angel appears to have dwelt purposely on the completion of these three weeks, as this was the third year of King Cyrus’s reign. He says, He did not eat delicate bread, and he abstained from flesh and wine, implying his practice of uniting fasting with mourning. The holy Prophet is here represented as freely using flesh and other food, while the Church of God remained in a state of tranquillity; but when there was danger, lest the few who had returned home should be diminished, and many were still suffering at Babylon those grievous calamities to which they were subject during their exile from neighboring enemies, then the Prophet abstained from all delicacies. In the beginning of this book, he had stated the contentment of himself and his companions with bread, and pulse, and water for meat and drink. This statement is not contrary to the present passage. There is no necessity to fly to that refinement, which allows an old man to use wine, which he never touched in his youth and the flower of his age. This comment is far too frigid. We have shewn, how at the beginning of his exile the only reason for the Prophet’s abstaining from the delicacies of the palace, was the desire of preserving himself free from all corruption. For what was the object of the king’s designing shrewdness in commanding Daniel and his companions to be treated thus daintily and luxuriously? He wished them to forget their nation by degrees, and to adopt the habits of the Chaldeans, and to be withdrawn by such enticements from the observance of the law, from the worship of God, and from the exercises of piety. When Daniel perceived the artful manner in which he and his companions were treated, he requested to be fed upon pulse, he refused to taste the king’s wine, and despised all his dainties. His reason, therefore, concerned the exigencies of the times, as I then pointed out at full length. Meanwhile, we need not hesitate to suppose, that after giving this proof of his constancy, and escaping from these snares of the devil and of the Chaldean monarch, he lived rather freely than frugally, and made use of better bread, and fresh, and wine than before. This passage, then, though it asserts his abstinence from flesh and wine, need not imply actual fasting. Daniel’s method of living was clearly after the common practice of the Chaldeans, and by no means implies the rejection of wine, or flesh, or viands of any kind. When he says, he did not eat delicate bread, this was a symbol of sorrow and mourning, like abstinence from flesh and wine. Daniel’s object in rejecting delicate bread and wine during those three weeks, was not merely the promotion of temperance, but suppliantly to implore the Almighty not to permit a repetition of those sufferings to his Church under which it had previously labored. But I cannot here treat at any length the object and use of fasting. I have done so elsewhere; even if I wished to do so, I have no time now. To-morrow, perhaps, I may say a few words on the subject, and then proceed with the rest of my observations.

PRAYER.

Grant, Almighty God, since thou settest before us so remarkable an example in thy holy Prophet, whom thou didst adorn in so many ways that he wrestled to even extreme old age with various and almost innumerable trials, and yet was never mentally broken down: Grant us to be endowed with the same untiring fortitude. May we proceed in the course of our holy calling without the slightest despondency through whatever may happen. When we see thy Church upon the brink of ruin, and its enemies plotting desperately for its destruction, may we constantly look for that liberty which thou hast promised. May we strive with unbroken courage, until at length we shall be discharged from our warfare, and gathered into that blessed rest which we know to be laid up for us in heaven, through Christ our Lord. — Amen.


Lecture Fifty-Third

We yesterday stated the reason why Daniel abstained from flesh and wine for three weeks. It was the sorrowful and depressed condition of the Church while the Jews were prohibited from building their Temple. We have stated the fallacious views of those who think him to have been always so abstemious in the flower of his age. Though he lived on bread and pulse, it was only for the purpose of remaining pure without any leaning towards the habits of the Chaldees, as it was the king’s design to withdraw both himself and his companions from God’s people, as if they had originally sprung from Chaldea. That, therefore, was but a temporary reason. But he now states, He had not tasted delicate bread, that is, made of fine flour, and had not tasted either wine or flesh, during the time in which the building of the Temple had been impeded. We must diligently notice this; for many celebrate fasting as if it were a principal part of the worship of God. They think it an act of obedience peculiarly pleasing to God. But this is a gross error, since fasting by itself ought to be treated as a matter unimportant and indifferent. It deserves no praise unless with reference to its object. Now the objects of fasting are various; the principal one is this, to enable the faithful suppliantly to deprecate God’s wrath with the solemn testimony of their repentance, and to stimulate each other to more fervor in their prayers. Ordinary daily prayers do not require fasting; but when any great necessity presses upon us, that exercise is added by way of help, to increase the alertness and fervor of our minds in the pouring forth of prayer. For this reason the Scriptures often connect fasting with sorrow, and Daniel here follows the usual practice. We perceive then the reason of his rejecting all delicacies in meat and drink, through his desire to withdraw himself entirely from all hindrances, and to become more intent upon his prayers. I now touch but briefly upon fasting, because I cannot stop on casual passages like these. We should notice, however, how foolishly and absurdly fasting is observed in these days among the Papists, who think they have discharged that duty by eating but once in the day, and abstaining from flesh. The rule of fasting among the Papists is, to avoid flesh and not to partake of either supper or dinner. But real fasting requires something far different from this, namely, perfect abstinence from all delicacies. For Daniel extends this fasting even to bread. He says, He did not taste wine, meaning he abstained from all wine. Then, as to the word “flesh,” he does not mean only that of oxen, or calves, or lambs, or fowls, or birds in general, but all food except bread is included under the term flesh. For Daniel did not trifle childishly with God, as the Papists do at this day, who feed without any religious scruple on the best and most exquisite viands, so long as they avoid flesh. This appears more clearly from the statement he did not eat pleasant bread, that is, made of fine flour or the very best of the wheat. He was content with plain bread to satisfy his necessities. This abundantly proves the superstition of those who distinguish between flesh, and eggs, and fish. Now, fasting consists in this — the imposition of a bridle upon men’s lusts, eating only sparingly and lightly what is absolutely necessary, and being content with black bread and water. We now understand how fasting in this and similar passages is not taken for that temperance which God recommends to us throughout the whole course of our lives. The faithful ought to be habitually temperate, and by frugality, to observe a continual fast; they ought not to indulge in immoderate food and drink, and in luxurious habits, lest they should debilitate the mind and weaken the body by such indulgences. As a mark of mourning and an exercise of humility, the faithful may impose upon themselves the law of fasting beyond their ordinary habits of sobriety, when they feel any sign of God’s wrath, and desire to stimulate themselves to fervor in prayer, according to our former statements, and to confess themselves in the face of the whole world guilty before the tribunal of God. Such was Daniel’s intention in not permitting himself to taste pleasant bread, or to drink wine, or to eat flesh. It now follows, —

<271004>Daniel 10:4

4. And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which is Hiddekel.

4. Die vicessima quarta mensis primi, ego fui super ripam fluvii magni, nempe Hidekel. f515

 

Daniel now narrates the acceptance of his prayers, because all angel appeared and instructed him in the future condition of the Church. Without the slightest doubt, the fasting already described was a preparation for prayer, as we have stated before, and as we may gather from many passages of Scripture, especially from the assertion of Christ, where he says, the demon could not be cast out except by prayer and fasting. (<401721>Matthew 17:21.) Daniel, therefore, did not abstain from all food, and wine, and luxuries, with the view of rendering any obedience to God, but of testifying his own grief: then he was anxious to rouse himself to prayer, and by that mark of humility, to prepare far better for repentance. He says now — on the twenty-fourth day of the first monthmeaning March, the first month of the Jewish year — he stood on the bank of the great river, namely, the Tigris. The word dy, yid, is metaphorically used for the bank, and interpreters are agreed in identifying Hiddekel with the Tigris. Geographers state the name of this river to be in some places, and especially near its fountain, Digliton, which answers to the common Hebrew name Hidekel. Without doubt, this river is called Phison by Moses, since the Tigris has three names among profane nations. Its usual name is Tigris, and in one part of its course it becomes the Hidekel, and has also the names of Pasitigris and Phasis, which is equivalent to Phison. The Prophet relates, his standing on the bank of this great river. It is uncertain whether he was then in that part of the world, or whether God set before him the prospect of the river, as we have seen elsewhere. I rather incline to the opinion of his being rapt in the prophetic spirit, and obtaining vision of the river, and not to his being really there. Possibly, that province might have been placed under his government in the course of the great changes which took place in those times. While Belshazzar lived, he could not have been at Susan, and so we were compelled to explain his former language by the prophetic rapture. And as to the present passage, I shall not quarrel with the opinion of any one who supposes Daniel to have dwelt in that district, but, as I have stated before, I think it most probable, that this spectacle was offered to the holy Prophet when far distant from the river’s bank, and only able to behold it in commenced his abstinence from flesh, and food, and all pleasant viands, and then relaxed his fast for three weeks, as he here marks the date on the twenty-fourth day. But I leave this doubtful, through the impossibility of ascertaining the point with certainty. Let us now proceed, —

<271005>Daniel 10:5-6

5. Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz:

5. Et levavi oculos meos, et vidi, et ecce vir unus indutus lineis, vestibus scilicet, et lumbi ejus accincti auro Uphaz.

6. His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in color to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.

6. Et corpus ejus sieut tharsis, et facies ejus quasi lampades ignis: et brachia ejus, et pedes ejus quasi conspectus aeris politi, f516 et vox sermonum ejus quasi vox multitudinis. f517

 

As to the word Uphaz, some think it to be a pearl or precious stone, and they take the word tk, kethem, which precedes it, for pure gold. Others take uphaz adjectivally, for pure gold. I do not suppose it to be an epithet, but I rather subscribe to the view of those who understand it as the proper name of a place, because this view is in accordance with the phraseology of the tenth chapter of Jeremiah. There is another opinion which is unsuitable. Uphaz is said to be derived from the noun Phaz, and is called “pure,” the letter Aleph being redundant. The above mentioned passage of Jeremiah is sufficient to prove my assertion, that it signifies a certain region; and so some have translated it by ophir. The word rt, tharsis, is thought to mean chrysolite: some think it denotes the color of the sea, and then, by a figure of speech, take it generally for any sea. It is also said to mean sky-colored.

Daniel now begins to relate the manner in which the vision was offered to him. He says, when he stood on the bank of the river a man appeared to him, different from the common order of men. He calls him a man, but shews him to be endued, or adorned with attributes which inspire full confidence in his celestial glory. We have elsewhere stated, how angels are called men, whenever God wished them to put on this outward form. The name of men is therefore used metaphorically whenever they assumed that form by God’s command, and now Daniel speaks after the accustomed manner. Meanwhile, some absurdly imagine angels to have been really men, since they assumed this appearance, and were clothed in a human body. We ought not to believe them to be really men, because they appeared under a human form. Christ, indeed, was really man, in consequence of his springing from the seed of Abraham, David, and Adam. But as regards angels, God clothes them for a single day or a short period in bodies, for a distinct purpose and a special use. Wherefore, I assert the gross error of those who suppose angels to become men, as often as they are corporeally visible in a human form. Still they may be called men, because Scripture accommodates itself to our senses, as we know sufficiently well. Daniel therefore says, he saw a man, and afterwards distinguishes him from the human race, and shews fixed and conspicuous marks inscribed upon him, which discover him to be an angel sent down from heaven, and not a mere earthly mortal. Some philosophize with subtlety on the word raised, as if Daniel so raised his eyes upwards as to be unconscious of all earthly objects; but this does not appear to me sufficiently certain. The Prophet wishes to impress the certainty of the vision; not only was his mind composed and collected, but he applied all his senses to the one object before him — the attainment of some consolation from God. The Prophet, therefore, denotes the earnestness of his desire, for when he looked round he found himself subject to many cares and anxieties. Again, with reference to the marks by which Daniel might infer the object of his vision to be neither earthly nor mortal, he first says, he was clothed in linen. This kind of garment was common enough among the people of the East. Those regions are remarkably warm, and their inhabitants need not protect themselves against the cold, as we are necessarily compelled to do. They seldom wear woolen clothing. But on special occasions when they wish to use more splendid attire, they put on linen tunics, as we learn not only from many passages of Scripture, but also from profane writers. Hence I take this passage as if Daniel had said, the man appeared to him in splendid apparel. For ydb, bedim, is supposed not to mean common linen, but a more exquisite kind of fabric. This is one point.

He next says, He was girt with pure gold; that is, with a golden belt. The Orientals were formerly accustomed to gird themselves with belts or girdles, as their garments were long and reached almost down to the feet. Hence it became necessary for those who wished to move expeditiously to gird themselves with belts. When the angel appeared with raiment of this kind, the difference between himself and other men was displayed to the Prophet. Some refer the linen garment to the priesthood of Christ, and treat the girdle as an emblem of rigor. But these are mere refinements, and seem to me destitute of all reality. I therefore am content with the simple opinion on which I have touched, namely, this form of clothing distinguished the angel from ordinary mortals. But this will appear clearer from the following verse. For Daniel says, His body was sky-colored, or like the precious stone called beryl, of a golden hue Without doubt, the Prophet beheld something different from a human form, for the purpose of his clearly ascertaining the vision not to be a man, but an angel in the form of man. I leave the allegory here, although it proceeds throughout the whole verse. I am aware of the plausible nature of allegories, but when we reverently weigh the teachings of the Holy Spirit, those speculations which at first sight pleased us exceedingly, vanish from our view. I am not captivated by these enticements myself, and I wish all my hearers to be persuaded of this, — nothing can be better than a sober treatment of Scripture. We ought never to fetch from a distance subtle explanations, for the true sense ,will, as I have previously expressed it, flow naturally from a passage when it is weighed with maturer deliberation. He says, His face was like the appearance of lightning. This, again, assured the Prophet of his being an more than earthly mortal. His eyes would lead to the same conclusion; they were like lamps of fire; then his arms and feet were like polished or burnished brass; lastly, the voice of his words was the voice of a tumult, or noise, or multitude. The sum of the whole is this, — the angel, though clad in human form, possessed certain conspicuous marks by which God separated him from the common crowd of men. Thus Daniel clearly perceived the divine mission of the angel, and God wished to establish the confidence and certainty of those prophecies which will afterwards follow in the eleventh chapter. Let us proceed:

<271007>Daniel 10:7

7. And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves.

7. Et vidi ego Daniel solus visionem, et viri qui erant mecum, non viderunt visionem, imo f518 terror magnus irruit super eos, et fugerunt in latebras. f519

 

He pursues his own narrative in which he appears prolix, but not without design. This prophecy required all kinds of sanction for the purpose of inspiring unhesitating confidence in it, not only with those Jews of that generation, but with all posterity. Although the predictions of the eleventh chapter have been fulfilled, yet their utility is manifest to us as follows: first, we behold in them God’s perpetual care of his Church; secondly, we observe the pious never left destitute of any necessary consolation; and lastly, we perceive, as in a glass or in a living picture, the Spirit of God speaking in the prophets, as I have observed before, and shall have occasion to remark again. Daniel, therefore, has good reasons for impressing us with the certainty of the vision, and with whatever tends to prove its reality. He says, I alone saw the vision; but the men who were with me did not see it; just as the companions of Paul did not hear Christ’s voice, but only a confused sound: they did not understand his language, as Paul alone was permitted to comprehend it. (<440907>Acts 9:7) This is related to promote belief in the prophecy. Daniel’s power of hearing was not superior to his companions, but God intended to address him alone. Thus the voice, although like the voice of a multitude, did not penetrate the ears of those who were with him. He alone was the recipient of these prophecies, as he alone was endued with the power of predicting future events, and of consoling and exhorting the pious to live them a knowledge of futurity even to the last day. Should any one inquire how he carried his companions with him while he was probably lying on his bed at a distance from the bank of the river, the answer is easy. He had his domestics with him; the river’s bank only existed in the vision, and he was carried completely out of himself, and thus his family would be acquainted with the ecstasy without being aware of the cause. Daniel then continued at. his own home, and only visited the bank of the river during the vision; although many witnesses were present, God struck them all with astonishment, while Daniel only perceived what is afterwards narrated. God deemed him worthy of this singular honor to fit him to become a teacher and instructor to others. The men who were with me, says he, saw not the vision; but a great terror fell upon them. This distinction, as I have stated, shews Daniel to have been selected as the sole listener to the angel’s voice, and as receiving the information which he was afterwards to convey to others. Meanwhile, God intended many witnesses to notice Daniel’s entire freedom from any delusion through either a dream or a passing imagination. His companions, then, were fright-eyed. This terror proves the Prophet to have been divinely instructed and not to have labored under any delirium. They fled, therefore, into hiding-places. It afterwards follows: —

<271008>Daniel 10:8

8. Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned into corruption, and I retained no strength.

8. Et ego relictus fui solus, et vidi visionem magnam hanc, et non fuit residuum in me robur f520 atque etiam decor f521 meus eversus fuit super me, in me, ad corruptiones f522 et non retinui vigorem.

 

This language all tends to the same purpose — to assure us that Daniel did not write his own comments with rashness, but was truly and clearly taught by the angel on all the points which he committed to writing, and thus all hesitation is removed as to our embracing what we shall afterwards perceive, as he is a faithful interpreter of God. He first states he saw a vision. He had said so before, but he repeats it to produce a due impression; he calls the vision great, to arouse our attention to its importance. He adds, he was deprived of all vigor; as if he had been rendered lifeless by the blast of the Spirit. Thus we gather the object of the exhibition of all these outward signs; they not only bring before us God speaking by the mouth of his angel, but they prepared the Prophet himself, and trained him to reverence. God, however, does not terrify his sons, as if our disquiet was with him an object of delight, but solely because it is profitable for us; for unless our carnal feelings were utterly subdued, we should never be fit to receive improvement. Tiffs necessarily requires violence, on account of our inborn perverseness; and this is the reason why the Prophet was reduced to this state of lifelessness. Even my comeliness, or beauty, or appearance, was turned to corruption; meaning, my deformity was similar to that induced by death. He adds lastly, I did not retain my vigor. He uses a variety of phrases to shew himself depressed by the heavenly blast, for but a slight amount of vitality remained, and he was scarcely preserved from actual death. We ought to learn to transfer this instruction to ourselves, not by the vanishing of our rigor or the changing of our appearance whenever God addresses us, but by all our resistance giving way, and all our pride and loftiness becoming prostrate before God. Finally, our carnal disposition ought to be completely reduced to nothing, as true docility will never be found in us until all our senses are completely mortified; for we must always remember how hostile all our natural thoughts are to the will of God. It afterwards follows; — but I cannot proceed further to-day; I must delay my comment on the next verses till to-morrow.

PRAYER.

Grant, Almighty God, as thou didst formerly appear to Daniel thy holy servant, and to the other prophets, and by their doctrine didst render thy glory conspicuous to us at this day, that we may reverently approach and behold it. When we have become entirely devoted to thee, may those mysteries which it has pleased thee to offer by means of their hand and labors, receive from us their due estimation. May we be cast down in ourselves and be raised by hope and faith towards heaven; when prostrate before thy face, may we so conduct ourselves in the world, as in the interval to become free from all the depraved desires and passions of our flesh, and dwell mentally in heaven. Then at length may we be withdrawn from this earthly warfare, and arrive at that celestial rest which thou hast prepared for us, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. — Amen.


Lecture Fifty-Fourth.

<271009>Daniel 10:9-10

9. Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground.

9. Et audivi vocem sermonum ejus, et cum audirem vocem sermonum ejus, tunc ego fui sopitus super faciem meam, f523 et facies mea in terram, projecta fuit scilicet.

10. And, behold, an hand touched me which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands.

10. et ecce manus tetigit me, f524 et movere me fecit super genui mea, et palmas, aut volas, manum mearum.

 

In yesterday’s Lecture Daniel confessed himself astonished at the sight of the angel, and deprived of all inward strength. He afterwards adds, On hearing the sound of his words he threw himself on the ground; for this is the sense of the ninth verse, as we have just read it. he represents himself as being in a swoon and in the unconscious state which usually occurs when all our senses are paralyzed by excessive fear. While lying thus senselessly on the ground, Behold, he adds, hands touched me, and placed me upon my knees and the palms of my hands. He mentions his being partially raised by the angel, not only through the sound of his voice, but by the touch of his hand. He implies that he was not yet raised to either the standing or sitting posture; he was only placed upon his knees with his hands upon the ground, this posture being the sign of his dejection. Thus he was partially relieved, and fear no longer seized upon either his mind or his limbs. From this passage we should learn that when prostrated by the voice of God, we cannot be restored otherwise than by his strength. We know the hand to be the symbol of strength. Unless God himself stretches out his hand to us, we shall always remain apparently dead. This is one lesson. The Prophet next adds the address of the angel to him, —

<271011>Daniel 10:11

11. And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that, I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling.

11. Et loquutus est ad me, Daniel vir desideriorum intellige, attentus sis, ad verba quae loquor tecum et sta super stare tuum: quia nunc missus sum ad te. Et cum loqueretur mecum sermonem hunc, steti tremens, vel, trepidus.

 

He here relates how he was strengthened, by the angel’s exhortation. He now begins to raise himself from his former position, and the angel now orders him to raise his drooping spirits, and calls him a man greatly beloved. We have previously discussed this word, which some refer to Daniel’s zeal, and take it passively, because he was inspired with a most invincible ardor through anxiety for the common welfare of the Church. I rather incline to the opposite view, thinking him so called through the force of his desires, because he was dear and precious to God. By This epithet the angel wished to animate the holy Prophet, and to calm and quiet his mind for listening to what he so ardently expected. Understand, therefore, he says, or attend to, the words which I shall speak to thee, and stand upright. Some translate it, in thy station, but “station” does not refer to the position of the body. I have already shewn how the Prophet was not now quite prostrate; his face was towards the earth, while he was supported by his hands and knees; and we now perceive him raised another step. This doctrine is profitable to us, because many think themselves utterly neglected and deserted by God, unless they immediately regain their mental rigor. But God does not all at once restore to life those whom he has rendered all but lifeless, but he conveys new life by degrees, and inspires the dead with fresh animation. We perceive this to have been done in Daniel’s case. Therefore I am never surprised when God raises us gradually by distinct steps, and cures our infirmity by degrees; but if even a single drop of his virtue is supplied to us, we should be content with this consolation, until he should complete what he has begun within us. Lastly, this passage unfolds to us how God works in his servants, by not rendering them perfect all at once, but allowing some infirmity to remain until the completion of his own work.

Daniel afterwards adds, When he heard this address, he stood up. We here observe the effect. and fruit of the angel’s exhortation, as Daniel no longer needed to support himself on his hands and knees. He could stand upright, although he adds, he remained trembling. Although thus erect in body, he was not entirely free from feelings of dread; and, though he stood upon his feet, he was not yet relieved from all trepidation, even at the angel’s command. This confirms my previous remark — God leaves in his servants some signs of fear, to remind them of their infirmity; they venture to raise themselves by hope above the world, but they do not forget they are but dust and ashes, and so restrain themselves within the bounds of humility and modesty. It now follows: —

<271012>Daniel 10:12

12. Then said he unto me. Fear not, Daniel; for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.

12. Et dixit ad me, ne timeas Daniel, quia a die primo quo adjecisti cor tuum ad, intelligendum, et affigendum te, vel, humiliandum, coram facie Dei tui, exaudita sunt verba tua: et ego veni in verbis tuis, hoc est, propter verba tua.

 

By the angel’s commanding the Prophet to be of a serene and tranquil mind, we gather the continuance of his fright, and his being as yet unable to listen with composure. And yet this trembling improved his teachableness. Without the slightest doubt, God desired to prepare his servant in this way to render him more attentive to his disciples, and yet this very terror prevented Daniel from summoning all his senses to listen to the address of the angel. The remedy is exhibited in these words, O Daniel, fear not. The angel did not wish to remove all fear from the Prophet’s mind, but rather to calm it, lest his trembling should prevent him from giving due attention to the prophecies which we shall soon discuss. I have already said enough on the subject of this address. As God knows fear to be useful to us, he does not wish us to be entirely free from it, as too great self-confidence would immediately produce slothfulness and pride. God, therefore, wishes our fears to restrain us like a bridle, but meanwhile he moderates this dread in his servants, lest their minds become stricken and disturbed, and thus disabled from approaching him with calmness.

The angel adds, From the first day on which thou didst begin to apply thy mind to understanding, and to afflict thyself before God, thy prayers were heard. This reason sufficiently shews in what sense and with what intention the angel forbade the Prophet’s fears — because, says he, thy prayers have been heard. He was unwilling to banish all fear, but he offered some hope and consolation; and relying on this expectation, he might wait for the revelation which he so earnestly desired. He states his prayers to have been heard from the time of his applying his mind to understanding, and from his afflicting himself before God. These two points may be noticed: first, by the word “understanding” the angel informs us of God’s being propitious to the prayers of his servant, because they were sincere and legitimate. For what spectacle did Daniel behold? He saw the condition of the Church entirely confused, and he desired the communication of some mark of favor, which might assure him of God’s being still mindful of His covenant, and of his not despising those wretched Israelites whom he had adopted. As this was the object of the Prophet’s prayer, he so far obtained his request, and the angel bears witness to God’s being entreated by him. We are taught then by this passage, if we are anxious for our supplications to be both heard and approved by God, not to give way to those foolish lusts and appetites, which solicit and entice us. We ought to observe the rule here prescribed by the angel, and fashion our entreaties according to God’s will. We know, says John, that if we ask anything according to his will, he will hear us. (<620514>1 John 5:14.) This is the first point. The second is the addition of penitence to fervor in devotion, when the angel says, Daniel’s mind was afflicted or humbled. A second condition of true prayer is here set before us, when the faithful humble themselves before God, and being touched with true penitence, pour out their groans before him. The angel, therefore, shews how Daniel obtained his requests, by suppliantly afflicting himself before God. He did not utter prayers for the Church in a mere formal manner, but as we have previously seen, he united fasting with entreaty, and abstained from all delicacies. For this reason God did not reject his petitions. He says, before thy God; this expression of the angel’s implying that the Prophet’s supplication sprang from true faith. The prayers of the impious, on the other hand, always repel the Almighty, and they can never be sure of his being propitious to them. In consequence of the hesitation and vacillation of unbelievers, this testimony to true faith is set before Daniel — he prayed to his own God. Whoever approaches God, says the Apostle, (<581106>Hebrews 11:6,) ought to acknowledge his existence, and his being easily entreated by all those who seek and invoke him. We ought diligently to notice this, as this fault is most manifest in all ages, men often pray to God, but yet through their hesitation they pour forth their petitions into the air. They do not realize God as their Father. Another passage also reminds us how useless is the hope of obtaining anything by prayer, if we are agitated and tossed about in our emotions. (<590106>James 1:6, 7.) Unless faith shine forth, we must not feel surprise at those who call upon God losing all their labor through their profanation of his name. Lastly, by this expression, the angel shews us how Daniel’s prayer was founded on faith; he had not sought God with rashness, but was clearly persuaded of his being welcomed among the sons of God. He prayed, therefore, to his own God, and for this reason, his petitions were heard. Then the angel adds, he came at his words; as it is said in the Psalms. (<19E519>Psalm 145:19.) God inclines with desire towards those who fear him; and in this sense the angel waits upon Daniel. It now follows, —

<271013>Daniel 10:13

13. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.

13. Et Princeps regni Persarum stetit coram me, vel, e regione, viginti diebus et uno. Et ecce Michael unus principum primorum f525 venit ad opem ferendam mihi, f526 et ego residuus f527 fui apuds reges Persarum, vel, Persidis.

 

The angel now assigns a reason why he did not appear at once, and at the very first moment to the Prophet, who might complain as follows, — “What treatment is this, to suffer me to consume away through grief for so long a period?” for Daniel had remained through three weeks in succession in the severest affliction. God had heard him, indeed, from the very first day; how, then, could he still behold this wretched man thus prostrate in mourning? why did not God cause it to appear openly and really that he had not prayed in vain? The angel now meets this objection, and shews how he had been otherwise occupied in promoting the Prophet’s welfare. We ought carefully to notice this, because delay often disturbs us when God does not immediately extend his help, and for a long time hides from us the fruit of our prayers. Whenever our passions burst forth with a strong impetuosity, and we easily manifest tokens of impatience, we must notice this expression of the angel, for our prayers may be already heard while God’s favor and mercy is concealed from us. The experience of Daniel is daily fulfilled in every member of the Church, and without the slightest doubt the same discipline is exercised towards all the pious. This is our practical reflection. We must notice, secondly, God’s condescension in deigning to explain himself by the angel to his own Prophet. He offers a reason for the delay of the angel’s return, and the cause of this hindrance was, as I have already stated, his regard for the safety of his elect people. The wonderful clemency of the Almighty is here proved by his offering an excuse so graciously to his Prophet, because he did not shew himself easily entreated on the very day when prayer was offered to him. But we ought to derive another practical benefit from the passage, — God does not cease to regard us with favor even while he may not please to make us conscious of it, for he does not always place it before our eyes, but rather hides it from our view. We infer from this, God’s constant care for our safety, although not exhibited exactly in the way which our minds may conceive and comprehend. God surpasses all our comprehension in the way in which he provides for our safety, as the angel here relates his mission in quite another direction, and yet in the service of the Church. It now appears how Daniel obtained an answer to his prayers from the very first day of their offering, and yet remained unconscious of it, until God sent him some consolation in the midst of his troubles. A very different interpretation of this verse has been proposed, for some expounders think the angel sent into Persia to protect that kingdom. There is some probability in this explanation, because the Israelites were still under the Persian monarchy, and God may have furnished some assistance to the kings of Persia for the sake of his own people. But I think the angel stood in direct opposition and conflict against Cambyses, to prevent him from raging more fiercely against God’s people. He had promulgated a cruel edict, preventing the Jews from building their temple, and manifesting complete hostility to its restoration. He would not have been satisfied with this rigorous treatment, had not God restrained his cruelty by the aid and hand of the angel.

If we weigh these words judiciously, we shall readily conclude, that the angel fought rather against the king of the Persians than for him. The prince, says he, of the kingdom of the Persians, meaning Cambyses, with his father Cyrus, crossed over the sea and contended with the Scythians, as well as in Asia Minor. The prince of the kingdom of Persia was ranged against him, as if he had said, — He detained me from reaching you, but it was for the good of your race, for had not God used me in assisting you, his cruelty would have been aggravated, and your condition would have been utterly desperate. You perceive, then, how there has been no want of zeal on my part, for God was never deaf to your entreaties. The prince of the kingdom of the Persians stood against me for twenty-one days; meaning, from the period of your beginning to pour forth your prayers before God, I have never flinched from any attack or assault, by which I might defend thy people. The prince of the kingdom of the Persians stood against me; meaning, he was so hot against the Israelites, as to intend to pour forth the very dregs of his wrath, unless the help which I afforded you had been divinely interposed.

He adds next, Behold! Michael, one of the chief leaders or princes, came to strengthen me. Some think the word Michael represents Christ, and I do not object to this opinion. Clearly enough, if all angels keep watch over the faithful and elect, still Christ holds the first rank among them, because he is their head, and uses their ministry and assistance to defend all his people. But as this is not generally admitted, I leave it in doubt for the present, and shall say more on the subject in the twelfth chapter. From this passage we may clearly deduce the following conclusion, — angels contend for the Church of God both generally and for single members, just as their help may be needed. This we know to be a part of the occupation of angels, who protect the faithful according to Psalm 34 (<193408>Psalm 34:8.) They fix their camp in a circuit round them. God, therefore, plants his angels against all the endeavors of Satan, and all the fury of the impious who desire to destroy us, and are ever plotting for our complete ruin. If God were not to protect us in this way, we should be utterly undone. We are aware of Satan’s horrible hatred to us, and of the mighty fury with which he assails us; we know how skillfully and variously he contrives his artifices; we know him as the prince of this world, dragging and hurrying the greater part of mankind along with him, while they impiously pour forth their threats against us. What prevents Satan from daily absorbing a hundred times over the whole Church both collectively and individually? It clearly becomes necessary for God to oppose his fury, and this he does by angels. While they are contending for us and for our safety, we do not perceive this hidden malice, because they conceal it from us.

We may now treat this passage a little more in detail. The angel was stationed in Persia to repress the audacity and cruelty of Cambyses, who was not content with a single edict, but would have forcibly dragged the wretched Israelites back again to a fresh exile. And he must have succeeded, had not first one angel and then another confronted him. The angel now informs us how Michael, one of the chief leaders, came up with the requisite supplies. The defense of one angel might have been sufficient, for angels have no further power than what is conferred upon them. But God is not bound to any particular means, he is not limited to either one or a thousand, as when Jehoshaphat speaks of a small army, he states, It matters not before God, whether we be few or many. (<141411>2 Chronicles 14:11; <091406>1 Samuel 14:6.) For God can save his people by either a small force or a mighty one; and the same also is true of angels. But God is anxious to testify to the care which he bestows upon the welfare of his people, and to his singular loving-kindness towards the Israelites displayed by the mission of a second angel. He doubled his re-enforcement to bear witness to his love towards these wretched and innocent ones, who were oppressed by the calumnies of their enemies, and by the tyranny of that impious king. Finally, the angel says, he was left among the Persian kings, for the purpose of removing the numerous obstacles in the way of the chosen people; for, unless God had withstood that deluge of weapons with his own shield, the Jews would have been buried beneath it on the spot. Let us proceed —

<271014>Daniel 10:14

14. Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days.

14. Et veni ut tibi patefacerem f528 quod occurret populo tuo f529 in extremitate dierum, diebus postremis, quia adhuc visio ad dies.

 

The angel follows up the same sentiment. He states his arrival for the purpose of predicting to Daniel coming events, and those, too, for a long period of time. He further proves the prayers of Daniel to have been neither vain nor fruitless, as they produced this conflict with the kings of Persia, both father and son. He now brings forward another proof of this, because God wished his Prophet to be instructed in patiently waiting for the arrival of the events, after being made fully aware of the elect people being under God’s care and protection. This he would readily acknowledge from the prophecies of the next chapter. He next adds, at the end of the days. By this expression the angel commends God’s grace towards the Prophet, as he was its special minister. His mission was not only to announce to him the occurrences of three or four years, or of any brief period, but he had to extend his predictions over many years, even to the extremity of the days. I willingly refer this period to the renovation of the Church which happened at the advent of Christ. The Scriptures in using the phrase, the last days, or times, always point to the manifestation of Christ, by which the face of the world was renewed. It is exactly similar to the angel saying he would make Daniel fully acquainted with all future events, until the final redemption of the people, when Christ was exhibited for the salvation of his Church. Hence the angel embraces the 490 years of which he had spoken. For Christ’s advent determined the fullness of times, and the subjoined reason suits the passage exceedingly well. The vision is yet for days, says he; thus frigidly some expounders take these words. I feel persuaded that the angel intends to shew how God is now opening future events to his servant, and thus these prophecies become like a lamp ever shining in the Church. The faithful complain in the 74th Psalm (<197409>Psalm 74:9) of the absence of all signs, because no prophets are left. We see no signs, say they, no Prophet exists among us. This was an indication of God having rejected and deserted them. However faintly the light of his doctrine may shine upon us, the slightest glimmer ought to be sufficient to produce patience and repose. But when all the light of the Word is extinguished, we seem completely enveloped in tartarean darkness. As the Israelites suffered so many afflictions for nearly 500 years, this remedy ought completely to restore them; for when the angel testifies, the vision is yet for days, it means, although God permits his people to be miserably afflicted, yet by this new proof he shews that he had not entirely cast them off. Some vision remained; that is, by the light of prophecy he will always manifest his care for his chosen, and they may even anticipate a happy issue out of all their sorrows. We now understand the angel’s meaning when he says, the vision is yet for days. Prophecies, indeed, ceased soon afterwards, and God no longer sent other prophets to his people, yet their teaching always remained permanent like a finger-post, for in it was completed the whole series of times up to the advent of Christ. His children were never destitute of all necessary consolation; for although there were no prophets surviving who could instruct the people in God’s commands by the living voice, yet Daniel’s teaching flourished for nearly 500 years after his death. It also performed its part in supporting the courage of the pious, and shewing them the firmness of God’s covenant not withstanding all opposition. Although the Church was agitated in a variety of ways, yet God is consistent in all his promises, until the complete redemption of his Church by the advent of his only-begotten Son.

PRAYER.

Grant, Almighty God, as the weakness of our faith is such that it almost vanishes on the very least occasion: Grant, I say, that we may not hesitate to derive support from this remarkable and memorable example which thou wishest to propose to us in Daniel, although for a time thou hidest thy face from us, and we lie prostrate in darkness. Still do thou remain near us; and with undoubting hope may we be steadfast in our prayers and groaning, until at length the fruit of our prayers shall appear. Thus may we constantly make war with all kinds of trials, and persist unconquered until thou shalt stretch forth thine hand from heaven to us, and raise us to that blessed rest which is there laid up for us by Christ our Lord. — Amen.


Lecture fifty-fifth.

<271015>Daniel 10:15

15. And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb.

15. Et cum loqueretur mecum secundum verba haec, posui faciem meam in terram, et obmutui.

 

Daniel again signifies by these words that he was so inspired by reverence for the angel as to be unable to stand. This tends to recommend the prophecy to our notice, — to shew us how the holy Prophet was not only instructed by the angel, but to confirm what he will afterwards record in the 11th chapter, and free it from all doubt. Lastly, he enables us to confide in the angel’s words, which were not uttered in an ordinary way, but were so obviously divine as to cast Daniel headlong upon the earth. In my judgment those expounders of the phrase, he became dumb, are in error when they refer it to his repenting of his prophetic office, through supposing his prayers to have been disregarded. This is much too forced, because the Prophet expresses nothing more than his seizure by fear, causing both his feet and his tongue to refuse their usual duties. Thus he was apparently carried beyond himself. By becoming prostrate on the ground, he manifested his reverence, and by becoming dumb displayed his astonishment. I have already briefly explained the object of all these assertions — to prove to us how the angel was adorned with his own attributes, and what full authority should be assigned to his words. It follows: —

<271016>Daniel 10:16-18

16. And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spake, and said unto him that stood before me, O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength.

16. Et ecce secundum similitudinem filiorum hominis, f530 tetgit labia mea, et aperui os meum, et loquutus sum; et dixi ad eum qui stabat ad conspectum meum, f531 Domine, in visione conversi sunt dolores mei super me, et non continui robur.

17. For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me.

17. Et quomodo poterit servus Domini mei hujus loqui cum domino meo hoc? Et exinde non stetit in me f532 robur; et anima, halitus, non fuit residuus in me.

18. Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me.

18. Et addidit, hoc est, secundo, tetigit me secundum similitudinem f533 hominis, et roboravit me.

 

Daniel here narrates how the angel who inflicted the wound at the same time brought the remedy. Though he had been cast down by fear, yet the touch of the angel raised him up, not because there was any virtue in the mere touch, but the use of symbols we know to be keenly encouraged by God, as we have previously observed. Thus the angel raised the Prophet not only by his voice but by his touch. Whence we gather the oppressive nature of the terror from the difficulty with which he was roused from it. This ought to be referred to its own end, which was to stamp the prophecy with the impress of authority, and openly to proclaim Daniel’s mission from God. We are aware, too, how Satan transforms himself into an angel of light, (<471114>2 Corinthians 11:14;) and hence God distinguishes this prediction, by fixed marks, from all the fallacies of Satan. Lastly, by all these circumstances the Prophet shews God to be the author of the prophecy to be afterwards uttered, as the angel brought with him trustworthy credentials, by which he procured for himself favor, and openly proved his mission to Daniel. He says he appeared after the likeness of a man, or of the sons of man. He seems here to be speaking of another angel; but as we proceed we shall perceive the angel to be the same as at first. He had formerly imposed upon him the name of a man; now, to distinguish him from men, and to prove him to be only human in form and not in nature, he says he bore the similitude of the sons of a man. Some restrict this to Christ, but I fear this is too forced; and when all points shall have been more accurately discussed, I have already anticipated the result, as most probably the same angel is here designated of whom Daniel has hitherto spoken. We have already stated him not to be the Christ, because this interpretation is better suited to that Michael who has been already mentioned, and will be again at the end of this chapter. Whence it is more simple to receive it thus: the angel strengthened Daniel by touching his lips; and the angel, formerly called a man, was only one in appearance, wearing the human figure and image, yet not partaking of our nature. For allowing God to have sent his angels clad frequently in human bodies, he never created them men in the sense in which Christ was made man; for this is the special difference between angels and Christ. We have formerly stated how Christ was depicted for us under this figure. And there is nothing surprising in this, because Christ assumed some form of human nature before he was manifested in flesh, and angels themselves have put on the human appearance.

He says afterwards, he opened his mouth and spake. By these words he explains more fully what we previously stated, for he was quite stupefied by terror, and to all appearance was dead. Then he began to open his mouth, and was animated to confidence. No wonder, then, if men fall down and faint away, when God shews such signs of his glory; for when God puts forth his strength against us, what are we? At his appearance alone the mountains melt, at his voice alone the whole earth is shaken. (<19A432>Psalm 104:32.) How, then, can men stand upright who are only dust and ashes, when God appears in his glory? Daniel, then, was prostrate, but afterwards recovered his strength when God restored his courage. We ought to understand the certainty of our being compelled to vanish into nothing whenever God sets before us any sign of his power and majesty; and yet he restores us again, and shews himself to be our father, and bears witness of his favor towards us by both words and other signs. The language of this clause might seem superfluous he opened his mouth, and spake, and said; but by this repetition he wished, as I have stated, to express plainly his own recovery of the use of speech after being refreshed by the angel’s touch.

He says he spoke to him who stood opposite. This phrase enables us to conclude the angel here sent to be the same as the previous one; and this will appear more clearly from the end of the chapter, and as we proceed with our subject. Then he says, O my Lord, in the vision my distresses are turned upon me, and I have not retained my strength. He here calls the angel “Lord,” after the Hebrew custom. Paul’s assertion was true under the law — there is but one Lord, (<460806>1 Corinthians 8:6,) but the Hebrews use the word promiscuously when they address any one by a title of respect. It was no less customary with them than with us to use this phrase in special cases. I confess it to be a weakness; but as it was a common form of expression, the Prophet uses no ceremony in calling angels lords. The angel, then, is called lord, simply for the sake of respect, just as the title is applied to men who excel in dignity. In the vision itself, that is, before thou didst begin to speak, I was buried in grief and deprived of strength. How then, says he, am I able to speak now? Thou by thy very appearance hast depressed me; no wonder I was utterly dumb; and now if I open my mouth, I know not what to say, as the fright which thy presence occasioned me held all my senses completely spellbound. We perceive the Prophet to be but partially erect, being still subject to some degree of fear, and therefore unable to utter freely the thoughts of his mind. Therefore he adds, And how shall the servant of this my Lord be able to speak with that my Lord? The demonstrative hz, zeh, seems to be used by way of amplifying, according to the phrase common enough in our day, with such a one. Daniel does not simply point out the angel’s presence, but wishes to express his rare and singular excellence. Dispute would be both superfluous and out of place should any one assert the unlawfulness of ascribing such authority to the angel. For, according to my previous remark, the Prophet uses the common language of the times. He never intended to detract in any way from the monarchy of God. He knew the existence of only one God, and Christ to be the only prince of the Church; meanwhile, he freely permitted himself to follow the common and popular form of speech. And truly we are too apt either to avoid or neglect religious ceremony in the use of words. Although we maintain that the Prophet followed the customary forms of expression, he detracted noting from God by transferring it to the angel, as the Papists do when they manufacture innumerable patron saints, and despoil Christ of his just honor. Daniel would not sanction this, but treated the angel with honor, as he would any remarkable and illustrious mortal, according to my previous assertion. He knew him to be an angel, but in his discourse with him he did not give way to any empty scruples. As he saw him under the form of a man, he conversed with him as such; and with reference to the certainty of the prophecy, he was clearly persuaded of the angel’s mission as a heavenly instructor.

He next adds, Henceforth my strength did not remain within me, and my breath was no longer left in me. Some translate this in the future tense, — it will not stand; and certainly the verb dmgy ignemed, “shall stand,” is in the future tense; but then the past tense follows when he says, no breath was left in me. Without doubt, this is but a repetition of what we observed before; for Daniel was seized not only by fear, but also by stupor at the sight of the angel. Whence it appears how utterly destitute he was of both intellect and tongue, both to understand and express himself in reply to the angel. This is the full sense of the words. He adds, secondly, he was strengthened by the touch of him who wore the likeness of a man; for he touched me, says he. By these words Daniel more clearly explains how he failed to recover his entire strength at the first touch, but was roused by degrees, and could only utter three or four words at first. We perceive, then, how impossible it is for those who are prostrated by God to collect all their strength at the first moment, and how they partially and gradually recover the powers which they had lost. Hence the necessity for a second touch, to enable Daniel to hear the angel speaking to him with a mind perfectly composed. And here again he inspires us with faith in the prophecy, as he was by no means in an ecstasy while the angel was discoursing concerning future events. If he had always lain prostrate, his attention could never have been given to the angel’s message, and he could never have discharged towards us the duty of prophet and teacher. Thus God joined these two conditions — terror and a renewal of strength — to render it possible for Daniel to receive with calmness the angel’s teaching, and to deliver faithfully to us what he had received from God through the hand of the angel. It follows: —

<271019>Daniel 10:19

19. And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee; be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me.

19. Et dixit, ne timeas vir desideriorum, f534 Pax tibi, comfortare, et confortare. f535 Et cum loqueretur mecum, roboravi me: tunc dixi, Loquatur dominus meus, quia roborasti me.

 

He first explains how he recovered his spirits at the angel’s exhortation; for he refers to this encouragement as a command to be of good courage. Fear not, therefore, O man of desires. The angel here addresses Daniel soothingly, to calm his fears, for he needed some enticement when oppressed with fear at both the words and aspect of the angel. This is the reason why he calls him a man to be desired. He adds, peace to thee, a customary salutation with the Hebrews, who mean by the phrase the same as the Latin expression, May it be well with thee. Peace, as the Jews used it, means a state of prosperity, happiness, and quiet, and everything of this kind. Peace, therefore, to thee, meaning, May you prosper. By this word the angel declares his arrival in the Prophet’s favor to bear witness to God’s merciful feelings towards the Israelites, and to the reception of his own prayers. We ought diligently to notice this, because, as I have already remarked, whenever God puts forth any sign of his majesty, we necessarily become frightened. No other remedy is equal to the favor of God fully manifested towards us, and his testimony to his drawing near us as a father. The angel expresses this feeling by the phrase which he uses, shewing with what justice Daniel fell down lifeless through reverence for God’s presence, and the necessity for his being calm and collected when he knew himself sent forth to bear witness to God’s favor. Peace, therefore, to thee. He next adds, be strong, be strong. By this repetition, the angel teaches how strong an effort was required to arouse the Prophet; if he had been but slightly terrified, one word would have been enough to recover him. But as he was carried beyond himself, and all his senses had failed him, the angel inculcates twice the same exhortation to be strong. Be strong, then, be strong; that is, recover your spirits; and if this cannot be done in a moment, persevere in recovering that alacrity which may render you a fitting disciple; for, while you thus remain astonished, I should address you in vain. There are two reasons why we must notice the Prophet’s informing us again how dejected he was. First, it proves how free from ambiguity this revelation really was, and how clearly it was stamped with marks of genuineness. Secondly, we must learn how formidable God’s presence is to us, unless we are persuaded of the exercise of his paternal love Towards us. Lastly, we must observe how, when once we are struck down, we cannot immediately and completely recover our spirits, but we must be satisfied if God gradually and successively inspires us with renewed strength.

Daniel afterwards says, he was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak, for thou hast made me strong. By these words he indicates his peace of mind after the angel had roused him by touching him twice, and by giving him courage by means of his exhortation. It is very useful to us to take due notice of this mental tranquillity, because the Prophet ought first to become a diligent scholar to enable him afterwards to discharge for us the once of a faithful teacher. With the greatest propriety, he repeats his assertion about the recovery of his strength, which enabled him to address the angel with facility. It now follows: —

<271020>Daniel 10:20

20. Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? And now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come.

20. Et dixit, An cognoscia, scisne, quare venerim ad te, et nunc revertar ad pugnandum cum principe Persarum; et ego egrediens, hoc est ubi egressus fuero, tunc ecce princeps Javan, hoc est, Graecorum, veniet.

 

The angel appears here to lead the Prophet in vain through a winding course; for he might directly and simply have told him why he had come. It was necessary to recall the Prophet to his senses, as he was at one time scarcely master of his actions. He was not indeed permanently injured in his mind, but the disturbance of feeling through which he had passed had temporarily disarranged the calmness of his thoughts. This event both occurred and is narrated for our advantage. This is the reason why the angel again uses this preface, Dost thee know? as if he wished to gather together the Prophet’s senses which were formerly wandering and dispersed. He urges him to pay great attention. And now, says he, I will return; that is, after I shall have explained to thee what thou wilt afterwards hear, I will return again to contend with the prince of the Persians. Here the angel indicates the reason for the delay of his mission, not because God neglected the groans and prayers of his Prophet, but the fit time had not yet arrived. The angel had formerly stated how the Persian prince had stood before him; meaning, he detained me, and I was obliged to enter into conflict with him, for his cruelty to the people had become far more formidable and insolent. This is the account which he gives of his occupation. But he now adds, I will return to fight with the prince of the Persians; implying, God sent me purposely to unfold to thee future occurrences, but you now know how far I was from being at leisure or shall be hereafter. I now come to be God’s witness and herald of his good will towards thyself and thy people. In reality, I am the defender of thy safety, since I have constantly to fight for thee with the prince of the Persians. He means Cambyses. I follow my former interpretation of an engagement between the angel and the king of Persia, whom wicked men had stimulated to cruelty; for he had revoked the edict of his father. The angel resisted the king’s fury, who was naturally very turbulent, and profane writers have described his character in a similar way.

He now adds, I will go to fight against the prince of the Persians; for [, gnem, has the force of “against” here and in many other passages. He next adds, And when I shall depart, that is, when I am gone, the prince of Greece shall approach, says he; that is, God shall exercise him in another way. He does not mean this to refer to Cambyses, but to other Persian kings, as we shall state in the proper place. It is quite correct to suppose the king of Macedon to have arrived by God’s permission; but the angel simply means to state the existence of various methods by which God hinders the cruelty of kings whenever they attempt to injure his people. He shall send the prince of the Greeks, says he. God, therefore, thus restrained Cambyses by the angel’s assistance, and then he protected his people from the cruelty exercised by Alexander, king of Macedon. God is always providing for the safety of his people, and always has a variety of methods in operation. The angel desired to teach us this with all simplicity. At length he adds: —

<271021>Daniel 10:21

21. But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.

21. Verum indicabo tibi quod exeratum est in Scriptura veraci: et non unus qui se roboret, vel, qui viriliter agat, mecum in his, nisi Michael princeps vester.

 

I omit the interpretation of those who say that after the departure of the angel the prince of the Greeks came forward, because God ceased to afford assistance to the kingdom of the Persians. This is altogether different from the Prophet’s sense, and we must hold the explanation which I have adopted. The angel now adds the object of his mission — to make Daniel acquainted with what he will afterwards relate. He again attracts our confidence towards his message, not only for the sake of the Prophet privately, but to assure all the pious how free Daniel’s writings were from any human delusion or invention, and how fully they were inspired from above. I will announce, therefore, what has been engraven, or ensculptured, in the Scripture of truth. By this phrase, “the Scripture of truth,” he doubtless means the eternal and inviolable decree of God himself. God needs no books; paper and books are but helps to our memory, which would otherwise easily let things slip; but as he never suffers from forgetfulness, hence he needs no books. We are aware how often holy Scripture adopts forms of speech according to human customs. This clause implies the same as if the angel had said, he brought nothing but what God had already determined before, and thus the Prophet would expect a full and complete accomplishment

He next adds, There is no one who supports me in this duty except Michael, whom he calls prince of the elect people. It is surprising why the angel and Michael alone fought for the safety of the people. It is written, Angels pitch their camp in a circuit around those who fear God, (<193407>Psalm 34:7,) and then but one Church existed in the world. Why, then, did not God commit this charge to more angels than one? Why did he not send forth mighty forces? We acknowledge that God does not confine himself to any fixed rule; he can help us as well by many forces as by a single angel or by more. And he does not make use of angels as if he could not do without them. This is the reason of that variety which we observe: he is first content with one angel, and then joins more with him. He will give to one man a great army, as we read of Elisha, and as other passages in Scripture afford us examples. (<120617>2 Kings 6:17.) the servant of Elisha saw the air full of angels. Thus also Christ said, Can I not ask my Father, and he will send me, not one angel only, but a legion? (<402653>Matthew 26:53.) Again, the Spirit of God assigns many angels to each of the faithful. (<199111>Psalm 91:11.) Now, therefore, we understand why God sends more angels, not always with the same purpose or intention, to inform us that he is sufficient to afford us protection, even if no other help should be supplied. He provides for our infirmities by bringing us help by means of his angels, who act like hands to execute his commands. But I have previously remarked this is not an invariable practice, and we ought not to bind him by any fixed conditions to supply our wants always in the same manner. God seemed, at least for a time, to leave his people without help, and afterwards two angels were sent to contend for them; first, a single one was sent to Daniel, and then Michael, whom some think to be Christ. I do not object to this view, for he calls him a prince of the Church, and this title seems by no means to belong to any angels, but to be peculiar to Christ. On the whole, the angel signifies that God did not put forth his full strength in contending for his Church, but shews himself to be a servant to promote its safety till the time of deliverance should arise. He afterwards adds — for the next verse may be treated shortly, and ought to be connected with this in one context.


CHAPTER 11

<271101>Daniel 11:1

1. Also I, in the first year of Darius the Mede, even I, stood to confirm and to strengthen him.

1. Et ego anno primo Darii medi steti in roboratorem, et auxilium illi. f536

 

Interpreters explain this verse in various ways. Some think the angel fought for the Persian king, and follow up their opinion, because he did not for the first time begin now to defend that monarchy in favor of the chosen people, but had done so from the very beginning. Others refer this to Michael, as the angel declares that he introduced the assistance of Michael. But that is forced and cold. I do not hesitate to state the argument to be from the greater to the less, and we have an instance of this in a tragedy of Ovid’s. I have been able to preserve you; do you ask whether I can destroy you? Thus the angel says, I have erected the Persian monarchy; I have not the slightest doubt of my present power to restrain these kings, lest they should pour forth their fury upon the people. The full meaning is this, the king of the Persians is nothing, and can do nothing except through me. I was God’s servant in transferring the monarchy of the Medes and Chaldeans to the Persians, as well as that of the Babylonians to the Medes. God, says he, entrusted me with that office, and so I placed Darius upon the throne. You now see how completely I have him in my power, and how I can prevent him from injuring my people should he be so inclined. When the angel boasts of his standing forward to help Darius, he claims nothing to himself, but speaks as it were in the person of God. For angels have no power distinct from God’s when he uses their agency and assistance. There is no reason for any inquiry whether the angel ought to use this boastful language and claim anything for himself. For he does not claim anything as really his own, but he skews himself to have been an agent in the change of dynasty when Babylon was subdued by the Medes, and the empire transferred to Darius. For although, as we have previously shewn, Cyrus obtained the victory, yet he transferred the honors of government to his uncle Cyaxares. The Hebrews are accustomed to consider him as king for the first two years; Cyrus began to reign after this period; and now, when the angel appears to Daniel, the third year had arrived, as we saw at the beginning of the chapter.

PRAYER.

Grant, Almighty God, as thou daily and familiarly deignest to grant us the light of heavenly doctrine, that we may come to thy school with true humility and modesty. May our docility be really apparent; may we receive with reverence whatever proceeds from thy lips, and may thy majesty be conspicuous among us. May we taste of that goodness which thou dost manifest to us in thy word, and be enabled to rejoice in thee as our Father; may we never dread thy presence, but may we enjoy the sweet testimony of thy paternal grace and favor. May thy word be more precious to us than gold and worldly treasures, and, meanwhile, may we feed upon its sweetness, until we arrive all that full satiety which is laid up for us in heaven through Christ our Lord. — Amen.


Lecture Fify-Sixth

<271102>Daniel 11:2

2. And now will I shew thee the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet Three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all: and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia.

2. Et nunc veritatem annuntio tibi: ecce adhuc tres reges stabunt in Perside, et quartus ditabitur opibus mignis, f537 prae omnibus et secundum fortitudinem suam, in, inquam, opibus suis, f538 excitabit omnes contra regnum Graecorum.

 

We must now understand God’s intention in thus informing his servant Daniel of future events. He was clearly unwilling to gratify a vain curiosity, and he enlarged upon events necessary to be known, thus enabling the Prophet not only privately to rely on God’s grace, through this manifestation of his care for his Church, but also to exhort others to persevere in the faith. This chapter seems like a historical narrative under the form of an enigmatic description of events then future. The angel relates and places before his eyes occurrences yet to come to pass. We gather from this very clearly how God spoke through his prophets; and thus Daniel, in his prophetic character alone, is a clear proof to us of God’s peculiar favor towards the Israelites. Here the angel discusses, not the general state of the world, but first the Persian kingdom, then the monarchy of Alexander, and afterwards the two kingdoms of Syria and Egypt. From this we cleverly perceive how the whole discourse was directed to the faithful. God did not regard the welfare of other nations, but wished to benefit his Church, and principally to sustain the faithful under their approaching troubles. It was to assure them of God’s never becoming forgetful of his covenant, and of his so moderating the convulsions then taking place throughout the world, as to be ever protecting his people by his assistance. But we shall have to repeat this again, and even more than once, as we proceed.

First of all, the angel states, Three kings shall yet stand up in Persia. With respect to the clause, Behold! I announce to you the truth, I explained in yesterday’s Lecture how frequently he confirmed his prophecy whenever he treated events of the greatest importance, which seemed almost incredible. I shall tell you the real truth; three kings shall stand up. The Jews are not only very ignorant of everything, but very stupid also- then they have no sense of shame, and are endued with a perverse audacity; for they think there were only three kings of Persia, and they neglect all history, and mingle and confound things perfectly clear and completely distinct. There were eight kings of Persia of whom no mention is made here. Why, then, does the angel say, three kings should stand up? This was the first year of Darius, as we saw before. Hence, in their number of kings, Cyrus, the first monarch, is included, together with his son Cambyses. When these two kings have been decided on, a new question will arise again; for some add Smerdis to Cambyses, though he was only an impostor; for the Magi falsely thrust him in as the son of Darius, for the purpose of acquiring the sovereignty to themselves. Thus he was acknowledged as king for seven months; but when the cheat was discovered he was slain by seven of the nobles, among whom was Darius the son of Hystaspes, and he, according to the common narrative, was created king by the consent of the others on the neighing of his horse. The variations of interpreters might hinder us from reading them, and so we must gather the truth from the event. For Smerdis, as I have stated, cannot be reckoned among the kings of Persia, as he was but an impostor. I therefore exclude him, following the prudence of others who have considered the point with attention.

We must now observe why Daniel mentions four kings, the fourth of whom, he states, should be very rich. Cambyses succeeded Cyrus, who was reigning when the prophecy was uttered. He was always moving about to distant places; he scarcely allowed himself rest for a single year; he was exceedingly desirous of glory, insatiable in his ambition, and ever stirring up new wars. Cambyses, his son, who had slain his brother, died in Egypt, and yet added this country to the Persian empire. Darius, the son of Hystaspes, succeeded, and Xerxes followed him. They are deceived who think Darius, the son of Hystaspes, is the fourth king; without doubt the Prophet meant Xerxes, who crossed the sea with a mighty army. he led with him 900,000 men; and, however incredible this may appear, all historians constantly affirm it. He was so puffed up with pride that he said he came to put fetters upon the Hellespont, while his army covered all the neighboring country. This is one point; the four kings were Cyrus, Cambyses, Darius the son of Hystaspes, and Xerxes, omitting Smerdis. We may now inquire why the angel limits the number to four, as the successor of Xerxes was Artaxerxes, or Darius Longimanus, the long-handed, and some others after him. This difficulty is solved by the following probable method, — Xerxes destroyed the power of the Persian empire by his rashness; he escaped with the greatest disgrace, and was scarcely saved by the baseness of his flight. He brought away but few companions with him hastily in a small boat, and could not obtain a single transport, although the Hellespont had been previously covered with his ships. His whole army was almost cut to pieces, first at Thermopylee, then at Leuctra, and afterwards at other places. From that period the Persian empire declined, for when its warlike glory was annihilated, the people gave themselves up to sloth and idleness, according to the testimony of Xenophon. Some interpreters expound the phrase, three kings stood up, of the flourishing period of the Persian monarchy: they take the words “stood up” emphatically, since from that period the nation’s power began to wane. For Xerxes on his return was hated by the whole people, first for his folly, then for his putting his brother to death, for his disgraceful conduct towards his sister, and for his other crimes; and as he was so loaded with infamy before his own people, he was slain by Artabanus, who reigned seven months. As the power of Persia was then almost entirely destroyed, or at least was beginning to decline, some interpreters state these three kings to stand up, and then add Xerxes as the fourth and the most opulent. But suppose we take the word “stood up” relatively, with respect to the Church? For the angel states that the Persian prince, Cambyses, stood before him, in an attitude of hostility and conflict. The angel seems rather to hint at the standing up of four kings of Persia, for the purpose of reminding the Jews of the serious evils and the grievous troubles which they must suffer under their sway. In this sense I interpret the verb “to stand,” referring it to the contests by which God harassed the Church until the death of Xerxes. For at that period, when the power of the Persians declined, a longer period of rest and relaxation was afforded to the people of God. This is the reason why the angel omits and passes over in silence all the kings from Artabanus to Darius the son of Arsaces; for Arsaces was the last king but one, and although Ochus reigned before him, we know from profane historians how his posterity were reduced to the lowest rank under the last Darius, whom Alexander conquered, as we shall see by and bye. For this reason I think this to be the genuine sense of the passage, — from Cyrus to Xerxes kings of Persia should stand up against the Israelites, and during the whole of that period the contests should be renewed, and the Jews would almost perish through despair under that continued series of evils. Some say, four kings should stand forth until all the Jews were led out; and we know this never to have been completed, for a small portion only returned. As to my own opinion, I am unwilling to contend with others, yet I hesitate not to enforce the angel’s wish to exhort all the pious to endurance, for he announced the standing up of these four kings, who should bring upon them various tribulations. As to the fourth king, the statement of this passage suits Xerxes exactly. The fourth, he says, shall be enriched with wealth; for the noun is of similar meaning with the verb, as they both spring from the same root. Truly enough Darius the son of Hystaspes determined to carry on war with Greece; he made the attempt but without success, especially at the battle of Marathon. He was cut off by sudden death when his treasures were prepared and many forces were collected. He thus left the material of war for his son. Xerxes, in the flower of his age, saw every preparation for war made ready to his hands; he eagerly embraced the occasion, and gave no heed to sound advice. For, as we have already stated, he destroyed himself and the whole monarchy, not by a single slaughter only, but by four. And this power of raising an army of 900,000 men was no ordinary occurrence. If he had only carried with him across the sea 100,000 men, this would have been a large force. But his power of feeding such large forces while he passed through so many provinces, and then of passing them across the sea, exceeds the ordinary bounds of our belief. We are not surprised, then, at the angel’s predicting the extreme wealth of this king.

He adds, In his fortitude and in his riches he shall stir them all up against the realm of the Greeks. This was not accomplished by Darius the son of Hystaspes. According to my former statement, he attacked certain Grecian cities, but without producing confusion throughout the whole East, as Xerxes his successor did. As to the phrase, the kingdom of Javan, I willingly subscribe to their opinion who think the word equivalent to the Greek word Ionia. For Javan went forth in that direction, and dwelt there with his posterity in the Grecian territory, whence almost the whole of Greece obtained its present name. The whole Grecian nation is often called “Chittim,” and some see good reason for their being termed “Machetae,” from Chittim the son of Jayan, and thus by the addition of a letter we arrive at the Macedonians. For the conjecture is probable that this people were first called Maketae, and afterwards Macedonians. Without doubt, in this passage and in many others, Javan. is put for the whole of Greece, since Ionia was the portion of the country most celebrated in Judea and throughout the East generally. Xerxes then stirred up against the realm of Javan — meaning Greece — all the people of the East; for it is very well known how his empire spread far and wide in every direction. It follows: —

<271103>Daniel 11:3

3. And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.

3. Et stabit rex fortis, et dominabitur dominatione magna, et faciet secundum voluntatem suam. f539

 

This refers to Alexander of Macedon. I have already shortly stated the reason why the angel passed over all the Persian kings from Artabanus to the last Darius, they did not engage in any contests with the Jews up to Xerxes. But when Alexander invaded Asia, he struck the Jews with terror, as well as all other nations. He came like lightning, and it is by no means surprising that the Jews should be frightened at his arrival, because, as we formerly expressed it, he flew with amazing swiftness. Alexander then rose up, not only by the riches and might of his warlike preparations, but he necessarily inspired the Jews with trepidation when they perceived their inability to resist him, and thus he was deservedly hostile to them, because, from the very beginning, they had despised his empire. Josephus also informs us how he was moved at the sight of the high priest, and how he determined to mitigate his rage against the Jews. For when he was at home, before passing over into Asia, the vision of the high priest was offered to him, for God had sent his angel under that disguise. f540 Alexander supposed it to be some deity; but when the high priest met him in procession, the vision returned to his recollection, and he was struck as if he had seen God appearing to him from heaven. Whatever was the object of this occurrence, Alexander clearly came into Judea with the intention of utterly destroying the whole nation. This is the reason why the angel carefully predicts this change. A brave king, therefore, shall stand up, and rule with extensive dominion, and do according to his pleasure; that is, he shall succeed as if he had all the events of the war under his own hand and according to his own pleasure, as the event itself most fully proved. It follows: —

<271104>Daniel 11:4

4. And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and divided shall be divided toward the four in winds of heaven; and not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others besides those.

4. Et ubi constiterit, frangetur, vel, conteretur, regnum ejus, et dividetur in quatuor ventos coelorum, hoc est, in quatuor plagas mundi, et non posteritati ejus, et non secundum dominationem ejus, qua dominatus fuerit: quia extirpabitur, radicitus evelletur, regnum ejus, et aliis absque illis.

 

This language is concise, but there is no ambiguity in the sense. First of all the angel says, After that brave king had stood up, his empire should be broken in pieces: for when Alexander had arrived at his height, he suddenly fell sick, and shortly afterwards died at Babylon. Ambassadors had assembled round him from every quarter. He was quite intoxicated by prosperity, and very probably poisoned himself. Historians, however, have viewed him as a remarkable example of singular valor, and so they have pretended and have related, because at least they thought so, that he was deceitfully poisoned by Cassander. But we all know how intemperately and immoderately he indulged in drinking; he almost buried himself in wine, and was seized with disease amidst his cups, and sank under it, because no remedy was found for him. This, then, was Alexander’s poison. Whichever way we understand it, he fell suddenly, almost as soon as he began to stand. After conquering nearly the whole East, he came to Babylon, and was uncertain in his plans as to the employment of his forces, after he had procured peace for the whole East. He was then anxious to transfer his armies to either Europe or Africa. The angel says, After he had stood up, meaning, after he had acquired the monarchy of the whole East, his kingdom should be broken up. He uses this simile, because the whole power of Alexander was not so much extinguished as broken into separate parts. We know how the twelve chiefs who were his generals drew the spoils to themselves; every one took a portion of his kingdom, and divided it among themselves, as we have previously stated, just as if it were torn from their master’s body. All consented in raising his brother Aridaeus to the dignity of king, and they called him Philip, that, while his sons were young, the memory of his father might commend them to the world. But four kingdoms at length issued from Alexander’s monarchy. It is unnecessary here to refer to what we may read at our leisure in the writings of historians.

The Prophet only touches shortly on those points which relate to the instruction of the Church; he does not relate in order or in detail the events narrated in history; he only says, His empire shall be broken, and shall be divided, says he, towards the four winds of heaven. The angel omits that partition which assigned the treasure to one, and gave the office of counselor to Philip: Perdiccas was the guardian of his son, and he with others obtained a portion of his dominions. Seleucus obtained Syria, to whom his son Antiochus succeeded; Antigonus became prefect of Asia Minor; Cassander, the father of Antipater, seized the kingdom of Macedon for himself; Ptolemy, the son of Lagus, who had been a common soldier, possessed Egypt. These are the four kingdoms of which the angel now treats. For Egypt was situated to the south of Judea, and Syria to the north, as we shall afterwards have occasion to observe. Macedonia came afterwards, and then Asia Minor, both east and west. But the angel does not enter into any complicated details, but shortly enumerates whatever was necessary for the common instruction of the elect people. The common consent of all writers has handed down these facts, — four kingdoms were constituted at length out of many portions, after the chiefs had been so mutually slain by one another that four only survived, namely, Ptolemy, Seleucus, Antigonus, and Cassander. Afterwards the kingdom of Antiochus was extended when Antigonus was conquered; for Antiochus added Asia Minor to the kingdom of Syria. But Antiochus stood only for a time, and hence the angel truly and properly states this empire to have been divided into four parts.

He next adds, And not to his posterity. No one could have guessed what the angel predicted so many years before Alexander’s birth; for he was not born till a hundred years after this period. Those who know the boldness of his warlike schemes, the rapidity of his movements, and the success of his measures, would never be persuaded of this result, — the complete destruction of all his posterity, and the utter extinction of his race.

Had Alexander lived quietly at home, he might have married, and have become the father of children who would have been his undisputed successors. He died young, soon after reaching the age of thirty; still he might have married, and have had heirs to his throne. He had a brother, Aridaeus, and other relations, among whom was his uncle Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, and a royal offspring might thus have been preserved, and a successor prepared for him. After he had subdued both upper and lower Asia, he became master of Syria, Egypt, and Judea, and extended his power to the Persians, while his fame extended over Africa and Europe. Since no one dared to raise a finger against him, as he possessed a most magnificent army, and all his generals were bound to him by most important benefits, and so many of his prefects were enriched by his extreme liberality, who would have thought that all his posterity and relations would be thus blotted out? He left; two sons, but they were slain as well as his brother Aridaeus, while his wives and his mother, aged eighty years, shared the same fate. Nor did Cassander spare her, for she intrigued against him. At length, as if God would punish so many slaughters committed by Alexander, he wished his whole posterity to be extinguished. And yet, as I have stated, no foreign enemy was the agent in inflicting such heavy punishments. He had subjugated the whole East, and his bearing was such, as if the whole monarchy of that portion of the world had descended to him from his ancestors by hereditary right. As the world contained no enemy for him, his foes sprang from his own home; they slew his mother, his wives, his children, and all his relatives, and utterly rooted out all his race. We observe, then, with what clearness and certainty the angel predicts events entirely concealed from that age, and for hundred years afterwards, and such as would never be, credited by mankind. There seems a great contrast in the language; his kingdom shall be broken, it shall be divided towards the four winds of heaven, and not to his posterity; that is, although the four kingdoms should spring up in the four quarters of the world, yet, none of Alexander’s posterity should remain in a single place, or obtain even the least portion of his dominions. This was a remarkable proof of God’s wrath against the cruelty of Alexander; not that he was savage by nature, but ambition seized upon him, and made him bloodthirsty, and indisposed him to desire any end to his warfare. God, therefore, avenged that grasping disposition of Alexander’s, by allowing the whole of his race thus to perish with disgrace and horrible cruelty. On this account that. pride of his which wished to be thought a son of Jupiter, and which condemned to death all his friends and followers who would not prostrate themselves before him as a god; — that pride, I say, never could secure a single descendant to reign in his place, or even to hold a single satrapy. Not to his posterity, says the angel, and not according to his dominion.

He passes to the four kings of which he had spoken: It Shall not break forth, he says, namely, from the four kings. he had already stated their foreign extraction, not in any way derived from the family of that king; for none of the four should equal his power, because his kingdom should be expired. Here the angel seems to omit intervening events, and speaks of an ultimate destruction. We know how the past king Perseus was conquered by the Romans, and how the kingdom of Antiochus was partly destroyed by war, and partly oppressed by fraud. And the angel seems to mark this. We may interpret it more to the point, by considering the cessation of Alexander’s empire, with reference to his own race, as if the angel had stated that none of his successors should acquire equal power with himself. And why so? Not one of them could accomplish it. Alexander acquired so mighty a name that all people willingly submitted to his sway, and no single successor could sustain the burden of the whole. Hence his kingdom, as far as it related to himself and His posterity, was divided, and no one succeeded to his power and his opulence. And it shall be given to others. The angel here explains his meaning. The destruction of the kingdom ought not to be explained particularly of single parts, for each seized his own portion for himself, and his successors were all strangers. And to others besides those; meaning, his kingdom shall be seized upon by officers who are not of his posterity; that is, strangers shall rush into Alexander’s place, and no successor shall arise from his own kindred. It afterwards follows, —

<271105>Daniel 11:5

5. And the king of the south shall be strong, and one of his princes; and he shall be strong above him, and have dominion; his dominion shall be a great dominion.

5. Et roborabitur rex austri, et ex principibus ejus, et roborabitur adversus eum, et dominabitur: dominatio magna, dominatio ejus.

 

Here the angel begins to treat of the kings of Egypt and of Syria. He does not mention the king of Syria yet, but will do so in the next verse; but he begins with the king of Egypt, the neighboring monarchy to that of Israel. He says, the king of the south, meaning, the king of Egypt, would be brave. He next adds, and one of his princes. Many take this in one context; but I think the angel transfers his discourse to Antiochus the son of Seleucus. And one of his princes, he says, meaning, one of Alexander’s princes, shall strengthen himself against him. For the letter w, vau, is taken in the sense of opposing, and implies an opposition between Ptolemy the son of Lagus, and Antiochus king of Syria. Hence the king of the south shall grow strong — another of Alexander’s chiefs shall grow strong against him, and shall have dominion. We know how much larger and more wealthy the kingdom of Syria was than that of Egypt, especially when Asia Minor was added to it. Without doubt, the angel was acquainted with the future superiority of Antiochus to Ptolemy, when these two kings are mutually compared. But the rest to-morrow.

PRAYER.

Grant, Almighty God, since thou not only deignedst to unfold future events to thy servant Daniel, and to the pious who waited for the advent of thine only-begotten Son, that they might be prepared for all sufferings, and might perceive the Church to repose under thy care and protection, but also wishedst these prophecies to profit us at this day, and to confirm us in the same doctrine: Grant us to learn how to cast all our cares and anxieties on thy paternal providence. May we never doubt thy oversight of the cares of thy Church in these days, and thy protection against the fury of the ungodly who try all means of destroying it. May we repose in peace under that guardianship which thou hast promised us, and struggle on under the standard of the cross; and possess our souls in patience, until at length thou shalt appear as our Redeemer with outstretched hand, at the manifestation of thy Son, when he returns to judge the world. — Amen.


Lecture Fifty-Seventh

<271105>Daniel 11:5

6. And in the end of years they shall join themselves together; for the king’s daughter of the south shall come to the king of the north to make all agreement: but she shall not retain the power of the arm; neither shall he stand, nor his arm: but she shall be given up, and they that brought her, and he that beget her, and he that strengthened her in these times.

6. Et in fine annorum sociabuntur, convenient inter se, et filia regis austri veniet ad regem aquilonis ut faciat recta: et non retinebit vires brachii, et non stabit ipse, neque semen ejus, et dabitur ipsa, et qui adduxerit eam, et qui genuerit ipsam, et roborabit eam temporibus illis, vel, roboraverit.

 

As to the explanation of the words, the king of the south, we have stated to be the king of Egypt, and that of the north, of Syria. To do right things, means to make mutual peace; he shall not retain the strength of his arm, is, his arm shall not retain its strength; he shall not stand refers to his father Ptolemy, or Antiochus Theos, as we shall afterwards see. And then we must take the w, vau, negatively, and read, nor his seed, which some translate his arm. She shall be delivered up, implies being given up to death, while some understand her parent, to be her mother or her nurse. Here, then, the angel prophesies the state of the kingdoms of Egypt and Syria; and still he has respect to the Church of God, as we stated yesterday, which was placed in the midst of these two nations. We must always strive to ascertain the intention of the Holy Spirit. He wished to support the pious under those convulsions by which they would be agitated and afflicted. Their confidence might have been utterly subverted unless they had been persuaded that nothing happens at random, since all these events were proclaimed beforehand. Again, God had sent his angel to Daniel, which proved both his power and his determination to defend his Church, and he would accomplish this, because he wished the faithful admonished beforehand neither rashly nor yet without profit. But we must first relate the history — the angel says, At the end of the times two kings should enter into covenant and friendship. He had announced the superiority of the king of Syria; for when Antigonus was conquered, and his son was dead, Seleucus the first king of Syria far surpassed Ptolemy in his power and the magnitude of his dominion. But a mutual rivalry arose between them, and there were some slight skirmishes on both sides, till the condition of Ptolemy became weakened, and then Seleucus rushed tumultuously, with the ferocity of a robber rather than the magnanimity of a king. After they had continued the contest for some time, Berenice the daughter of the second Ptolemy, named Philadelphus, was given in marriage to Antiochus Theos. She is also called Beronice and Bernice. He was so blinded with pride, as to take the name of Theos, which means God; he was the third of that name, the former king being called Soter, meaning preserver For, as Seleueus had acquired so many and such mighty possessions, his sons did not consider their authority fully established, and so they assumed these magnificent titles for the sake of inspiring all nations with the terror of their frame. Hence the first Antiochus was called Sorer, and the second Theos. Now the second Ptolemy, named Philadelphus, gave his daughter in marriage to Antiochus Theos. By this bond peace and friendship were established between them, just as at Rome, Pompey married Julia the daughter of Caesar. And we daily observe similar occurrences, for when one king has in his power a daughter, or niece, or other relatives, another king finds himself possessed of male and female relations, by whose intermarriage they confirm a treaty of peace. It was so in this case, although historians attribute some degree of craft to Philadelphus in bestowing his daughter on Antiochus Theos. He supposed this to be a means by which he might ultimately acquire the dominion over all Syria, and over the other provinces under the sway of Antiochus. Whether this really was so or not, profane historians prove the fulfillment of the angel’s prediction. Without the slightest doubt, God, in his wonderful counsels, dictated to these historians what we read at the present time, and made them witnesses of his own truth. This thought, indeed, never entered their minds, but when God governs the minds and tongues of men, he wishes to establish clear and convincing testimony to this prophecy, for the purpose of shewing the real prediction of every occurrence. At the end of the years, says he, they shall become united.

He next states, And the daughter of the king of the south, meaning Bernice, whom we have mentioned, shall come to the king of the north, meaning the king of Syria, Antiochus Theos. This alliance was contracted in defiance of justice. For Antiochus repudiated his wife Laodice, who was the mother of two sons whom she had born to Antiochus; namely, Seleucus Callinicus, and Antiochus the younger, named Hierax, a hawk, on account of his rapacity. We perceive, then, how he contracted a second marriage, after an unjust and illegal divorce of his first wife. Hence it is not surprising if this alliance was cursed by the Almighty. It turned out unhappily for both the kings of Egypt and Syria. Ptolemy ought not to have thrust his daughter upon Antiochus, who was already married, nor yet to have allowed her to become a second wife, while the king’s real wife was divorced. We perceive, then, how God became the avenger of these crimes, while the plans of Antiochus and Philadelphus turned out in. Some think that Antiochus was fraudulently poisoned by his first wife, but as the point is doubtful, I pronounce no opinion. Whether it was so or not, Antiochus had a son by Bernice, and died immediately after being reconciled to his former wife. Some historians state, that after she had recovered her dignity and rank as queen, having once experienced her husband’s fickleness and perfidy, she took sure means of preventing another repudiation. When Antiochus was dead, this woman was enflamed with vengeance, and in the perverseness of her disposition, she impelled her son to murder her rival, especially stimulating Seleucus Callinicus who succeeded to his father’s throne. Hierax was then prefect of Asia Minor; hence she stimulated her son with fury to murder her rival. For, although Antiochus Theos had been reconciled to her, yet some degree of rank and honor still attached to Bernice the daughter of Ptolemy. And her son perpetrated this murder with the greatest willingness, and with the basest cruelty and perfidy; for he persuaded her to entrust herself to his care, and then he murdered both her and her son.

The angel now says, When the daughter of the king of the south shall come to the king of the north, his arm shall not retain his strength. The language is metaphorical, as that marriage was line a common arm to both sides; for the king of Egypt stretched forth his hand to the king of Syria for mutual protection. That arm, then, did not retain its strength; for Bernice was most wickedly slain by her stepson, Seleucus Callinicus, as we have stated. He says, also, she should come to make alliances. Here, by way of concession, the angel calls that conjugal bond ydym, misrim, rectitudines,” “conditions of agreement,” because at first all parties thought, it would tend to that result. But. Antiochus had already violated his marriage vow, and departed from his lawful alliance. Nothing, therefore, was right on his side. Without the slightest doubt he derived some advantage from the plan, as kings are always in the habit of doing. And with respect to Ptolemy, many historians, as we have already mentioned, suppose him to have longed for the kingdom of Syria. Whether or not this was so, their mutual transactions were not sincere, and so the word signifying “rectitude” is used, as we have said, only by concession. The angel does not speak in their praise, or excuse the, perfidy of either, but he rather enlarges upon their crime, and from this we gather how they abused the sanctity both of marriage and of treaties, which God wished to be held sacred by all mankind. Hence, though the word is honor-able in itself, yet it is used in a disgraceful sense, to shew us how the angel condemned King Ptolemy for this base prostitution of his daughter, and Antiochus for rejecting his wife, and marrying another who was not a real wife, but only a concubine. And, perhaps, God wished to use the lips of his angel to point out the tendency of all royal treaties. They always have the most specious appearances — national, quiet public peace, and similar objects which can be dexterously made prominent. For kings always court favor and praise for themselves from the foolish vulgar, whenever they make treaties of peace. Thus all these alliances have no other tendency than to produce social deception, and at length they degenerate into mutual perfidy, when one party plots insidiously and wickedly against another.

The angel adds next, He shall not stand; using the masculine gender, and most probably referring to Antiochus, as well as to Ptolemy his father-in-law. Neither he nor his seed shall stand, meaning his son by Bernice the daughter of Ptolemy. I dare not translate it “arm,” because in my opinion the letter w, vau, is needed in the word for “arm;” so I take it to denote “seed.” He afterwards adds, And she shall be delivered up — thus returning to Berenice — either by treachery or to death; and those who led her forthmeaning her companions. Whenever any incestuous marriage is contracted, some persons of disgraceful character are sure to be concerned in bringing his new wife to the king. And very probably there were factions in the palace of Antiochus; one party being more attached to Seleucus and his brother, and his mother Laodice; while others desired a change of government, according to the usual state of affairs. The advisers of the marriage between Antiochus and Bernice were sent as a guard of honor to attend them to Syria, and the angel states all these to have been delivered up together with the queen. He afterwards adds, And those who were her parents. From the absence of a grammatical point under the letter h, he, many think the noun to be of the feminine gender. And as it may mean mother, they treat it as if her nurse was intended, but I leave the question in doubt. He now adds, and those who strengthened her at those times. He, doubtless, intends to designate all those who wished to curry favor with the king, and thus took part in this marriage between him and the daughter of the king of Egypt. The whole of that faction perished, when Berenice was slain by Seleucus Callinicus. If, then, he did not spare his stepmother, much less would he spare the faction by which he was deprived of his hope of the kingdom, and through whom his mother Laodice had suffered the disgrace of a divorce. It now follows, —

<271107>Daniel 11:7

7. But out of a branch of her roots shall one stand up in his estate, which shall come with an army, and shall enter into the fortress of the king of the north, and shall deal against them, and shall prevail.

7. Et stabit ex germine, vel, surculo, radicum ejus, nempe Berenice, f541 in gradu suo, f542 et veniet cum exercitu, f543 et veniet in munitionem regis Aquilonis, et faciet in illis, f544 et praevalebit.

 

The angel treats here of Ptolemy Euergetes, the third king of Egypt, who succeeded his father Philadelphus. He collected large forces to revenge the insult offered to his sister, and thus carried on the war with Seleucus Callinicus, who had become king after his father’s death. The angel, therefore, now touches shortly on this war, by saying, There shall stand up a shoot from the root of that queen. Very possibly he was younger than his sister Berenice. He says, He shall stand in his own degree, meaning, in the royal rank. The interpretation of those who translate, He shall stand in his father’s rank, is forced. What is it then? He shall stand in his own rank; that is, he shall arrive at his own rank by hereditary right. Although, therefore, at first all thought the death of Berenice would be unrevenged through her father being dead, here the angel announces that her brother should be like a branch, and become the avenger of this great wickedness. He shall stand, then, in his rank, meaning, he shall arrive at the royal throne, from the branch or germ of her root, namely, Berenice. He shall come with an army against Callinicus. Profane writers bear witness to this. And he shall come even to the fortification of the king of the north. He entered Syria, and caused so great a terror that many fortified cities surrendered themselves to him. During this war he drew to himself many cities which seemed impregnable; whence it is not surprising to find the angel stating his arrival at the fortifications. Some translate it “dwelling-place,” but without reason, and thus injure the Prophet’s meaning. He shall come unto the very fortification, meaning, he shall arrive in Syria, and shall posses many fortified cities.

He next adds, And he shall work on them, meaning, he shall prosper; for this word when used without any addition, implies in Hebrew performing great exploits. He shall proceed and acquire power over the greater part of Syria, and shall prevail. By this last word he explains how superior he should be to Callinicus. For this king sent for his younger brother whose fidelity he suspected, and thought it the safest course to treat with his enemy. But young Hierax, the hawk, determined to use that expedition to his own advantage. He was not content with his own province of Asia Minor, but he anticipated being his father’s sole heir, especially as he had hired some troops from Gaul, who had invaded Asia Minor, Bithynia, and other provinces. He was greatly puffed up, and betrayed his own covetousness. Seleucus Callinicus preferred making peace with his enemy to fostering his brother’s resources. At length Hierax more and more developed the perversity of his mind. For he openly declared war against his brother, to whose assistance he pretended to have come, after having been sent for according to agreement. His brother Seleucus had promised him a portion of Asia as far as Mount Taurus; and when he saw himself the victim of his impious and disgraceful snares, he openly waged war with his brother. But he was conquered at length, and thus received the reward of his impiety. Thus Ptolemy Euergetes prevailed, while he departed from Syria after spoiling his enemy, according to what follows —

<271108>Daniel 11:8

8. And shall also carry captives into Egypt their gods, with their princes, and with their precious vessels of silver and of gold; and he shall continue more years than the king of the north.

8. Atque etiam deos ipsorum cum conflatibus ipsorum, et cum vasis pretiosis ipsorum, f545 auri et argenti in captivatem ducent in AEgyptum, f546 et ipse pluribus annis stabit quam rex aquilonis.

 

The angel explains more fully what he had already stated briefly, namely, Ptolemy should be the conqueror, and spoil the whole of Syria almost according to his pleasure. Profane writers also shew us the great number of images which were taken away, and how Egypt recovered its gods of silver and gold which it had lost a long time ago. Thus the event proved the truth of the angel’s prophecy. The particle g gem, is interposed for the sake of amplifying the subject, to inform us of the unequal condition of the peace, and how Ptolemy exercised the rights of a conqueror in spoiling the whole of Syria according to his lust. It is added, He shall stand for more years than the king of the north. Some restrict this to the duration of the life of each king, and others extend it farther. Probably the angel speaks of Ptolemy Euergetes, who reigned forty-six years. As God extended his life so long, we are not surprised at the angel’s saying it should last longer than the king of Syria’s. This explanation is applicable to the present case, for if he had died before, Callinicus might have recovered the effects of the war; but as Ptolemy survived, he dared not attempt any-thing, being assured of the utter fruitlessness of any effort against the king who had vanquished him. It follows: —

<271109>Daniel 11:9

9. So the king of the south shall come into His kingdom, and shall return into his own land.

9. Et veniet in rename rex austri, et redibit in terram suam.

 

This clause belongs to the former verse; as if he had said, Ptolemy shall return by a peaceful march after this hostile invasion of Syria. For he might have some fears lest his enemy should not be completely prostrated. But as he departed as conqueror, the angel announces his safe arrival in his own land. The words “come” and “return” are used emphatically, implying the absence of all harass, fear, and danger. f547 He returned to his kingdom and his own land, since he could not trust to the quietness of the enemies whom he had laid prostrate. It follows: —

<271110>Daniel 11:10-11

10. But his sons shall be stirred up, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces: and one shall certainly come, and overflow, and pass through; then shall he return, and be stirred up, even to his fortress.

10. Et filii ejus provocabuntur, et congregabunt multitudinem copiarum magnarum: et veniendo veniet, inundabit et transibit: revertetur et incitabitur usque ad munitionem ejus.

11. And the king of the south shall be moved with choler, and shall come forth and fight with him, even with the king of the north: and he shall set forth a great multitude; but the multitude shall be given into his hand.

11. Tum exacerbabitur rex austri, et egressus pugnabit adversus eum, adversus regem aquilonis, et stare faciet, statuet, multitudinem magnam, tradeturque multitudo illa in manum ejus.

 

Here the angel passes to the third war, namely, that which the son of Callinicus stirred up against Ptolemy Philopator. After the death of Euergetes, the two sons of Callinicus united their forces, and endeavored to recover Syria, and especially that part of it of which they had been deprived. When they were already on their expedition, and their forces were on their march, the elder Seleucus died, and his surviving brother was Antiochus, called the Great. Ptolemy, called Philopator, which means a lover of his father, was then alive. He was so called in consequence of the parricide of which he was guilty, having put to death both parents, together with his brother. The word is used by way of ridicule, and a sense the opposite to that expressed is implied by this epithet, which is honorable in itself, and expresses the virtue of filial piety. But he slew his father, mother, and brother, and on account of all these impious murders, the name of Philopator was applied to him as a mark of disgrace. As, therefore, he was so thoroughly hated by his own people, the sons of Callinicus, namely, Seleucus Ceraunus the elder, and Antiochus the Great, thought the time had arrived for the recovery of the lost cities of Syria. For he was detested and despised in consequence of his numerous crimes. They therefore anticipated little trouble in recovering their possessions, when their enemy was thus branded with infamy, and had many domestic foes. This is the reason why the angel says of the sons of Callinicus, They shall be provoked, and shall lead a multitude of great armies; it may mean “great forces,” as some historians relate the collection of two very strong armies. Unless I am mistaken, Antiochus the Great had 70,000 foot and 5000 horse. Ptolemy excelled in cavalry as he had 6000 horse but only 62,000 foot, as Polybius informs us in his fifth book. f548 They were nearly equal in forces, but the confidence of the two sons of Callinicus, of whom alone the angel now speaks, was increased when they beheld their wicked enemy so greatly detested in consequence of his parricide. He afterwards says, He shall come. He changes the number, since the elder brother, being the eldest son of Callinicus, namely, Seleucus Ceraunus, died while they were preparing for the war, and they say he was slain by his attendants in passing through Asia Minor. Whether this was so or not, all historians unite in stating that Antiochus the Great alone carried on the war with Philopator. He shall come so as to overflow and pass through. He recovered that part of Syria which he had lost, and when he approached Egypt, then Philopator met him. Profane historians state him to have been a coward, and never to have obtained power by open bravery, but by fear alone. He was too late in preparing his forces for resisting his enemy.

This is the reason why the angel says, The king of Syria, or of the north, should come, even to the citadels, or fortifications; for at length Philopator roused himself from slumber, for he never put on his arms to repel an enemy except when compelled by the direst necessity. Hence he adds, The king of the south shall be irritated, or exasperated. He uses the word “exasperated,” because, as I have just said, he would never have opposed himself to his enemy Antiochus except lie had perceived his own kingdom placed in great jeopardy. He might have taken patiently the loss of Syria, so long as Egypt had been safe; but when his life and all his possessions were in danger, he became sufficiently exasperated to attack his foe; and yet he prevailed, as we shall afterwards see. I cannot complete this subject to-day, and so I shall draw to a close. Philopator became victorious, and yet he was so sluggish that he distrusted his friends and foes alike, and was forced by this very fear to make peace with his enemy, although he was really the conqueror. Not only could he have driven back his enemy whom he had vanquished, but he might have taken possession of his territories; but he did not dare to do this. he was conscious of being a parricide, and knew to his cost how hateful his name was among all men. Hence, although superior in strength, and actually the conqueror of his enemy in battle, he dared not proceed further. But we will explain the remainder another time.

PRAYER.

Grant, Almighty God, as thou hast deigned to set before our eyes as in a glass that peculiar providence of thine by which thou defendest thy Church: Grant, that being confirmed by these examples, we may learn to repose entirely upon thee. Amidst the numerous disturbances by which the world is at this time agitated, may we remain quiet under thy protection. May we so commit our safety to thee as never to hesitate, whatever may happen, as to our future safety and security. Whatever we may suffer, may it all issue in our salvation, while we are protected by thy hand; thus will we call upon thy name with sincerity of mind, and thou wilt in return shew thyself as our Father in thine only-begotten Son. — Amen.


Lecture Fifty-Eighth

In our last Lecture we explained why the angel mentions the exasperation of King Ptolemy. Unless he had been dragged into the war, his disposition was so sluggish that he would have suffered many cities to be wrested from him, and he would never have been moved by either the disgrace or the loss. But at length he took up arms, on seeing with what a stern and bold enemy he had to deal. he afterwards adds, He shall go out to battle against the king of the North, meaning Antiochus king of Syria. And he shall set in array a large multitude. This may be referred to either of them, for Antiochus then brought into the field a large army; he had 5000 horse and 70,000 foot. Ptolemy was superior in his cavalry, which amounted to 6000 men. This clause will suit the case of Antiochus. He shall bring into the field a great multitude, and the multitude shall be given into his hand, meaning Ptolemy’s. The context seems thus to flow on more easily: yet if any one prefers considering it as applicable to Ptolemy himself, I will not contend the point. It is not of much consequence, because the angel simply pronounces the superiority of Ptolemy in this battle, in which he conquered Antiochus the Great. Besides, we must notice, that he was not the conqueror by his own industry, or valor, or counsel, or military skill; but because the Lord, who regulates the events of battles, wished at that time to subdue the pride of Antiochus the Great. It now follows, —

<271112>Daniel 11:12

12. And when he hath taken away the multitude, his heart shall be lifted up; and he shall cast down many ten thousands: but he shall not be strengthened by it.

12. Et tolletur multitudo illa, hoc est, sese attollet, et elevabitur cor ejus, et dejiciet myriades, hoc est, magnas copias, et non roborabitur.

 

The angel here marks the close of the war. Had Ptolemy’s valor seconded his good fortune, he might easily have seized upon the whole kingdom of Syria, as profane historians report. But he was so given up to his own lusts, that he willingly entered into treaty with his enemy. On his return to his kingdom he slew his wife Eurydice, and was guilty of other enormities; he suffered a wicked woman, the sister of Agathocles, a victim of his passions, to rule over his kingdom, and lastly, he became a very foul example of a very cruel and degraded man. Therefore, the angel says at the beginning, his army should raise him aloft; his heart should be elevated, in consequence of his prosperity. He not only caused terror to Antiochus, but through all the neighboring regions. Where he might have drawn to himself the whole power of the East, he then declined in his course. He subdued, indeed, a hostile army, and in this exploit he was in no slight degree assisted by his sister Arsinoe, as historians relate, but yet after great slaughters he did not retain his position. And what was the obstacle? His idleness and drunkenness, and his caring for nothing but banquets and debaucheries, and the most obscene pleasures. This caused his fall, after he had been raised even to the clouds by his victories. It afterwards follows, —

<271113>Daniel 11:13-14

13. For the king of the north shall return, and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former, shall certainly come after certain years with a great army, and with much riches.

13. Et redibit rex aquilonis, rex Syriae, et statuet multitudinem magnam praeut antea, f549 et circiter finem f550 temporum annorum, ad verbum, veniendo veniet cum exercitu magno, et cum opibus magnis. f551

14. And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south: also the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision; but they shall fall.

14. Et temporibus illis multi stabunt contra regem AEgypti, et filii dissipatores populi tui sese attollent, ad stabiliendam visionem, et corruent.

 

Here the angel prophesies of other wars. For he first describes the war which was carried on by Antiochus against the Egyptians, after the death of Philopater, who left as his heir, a little son named Ptolemy Epiphanes. When, therefore, he perceived the land deprived of its king, he drew up an army and invaded Egypt. As the Egyptians had no strength to resist him, an embassy was sent to Rome; and we know how eager the Romans were to become involved in all the business of the world. With the view of extending their empire still further and wider, they sent immediately to Antiochus the Great, and commanded him to desist from the war; but after many trials he failed of success, until he engaged in a very desperate battle with Scopas, and at length obtained a victory. In the meantime, the Egyptians were far from idle: although they hoped to be able to subdue the empire of Antiochus by the assistance of the Senate, yet they carefully fitted out an armament of their own under their General Scopas, who was successful in many of his plans, but was finally defeated in the borders of Judea. The angel now describes this war. The king of Syria shall return, he says; meaning, after the death of Ptolemy Philopator, he rested for a while, because he had been unsuccessful with his forces, and they were so entirely disorganized that he had no confidence in the success of any expedition. But he thought Egypt would give him no trouble, as it had lost its head and was like a lifeless corpse. Then he was elevated with fresh confidence, and returned to Egypt. And he shall arrange a greater multitude than at the first. He had a large and powerful army, as we have said, and a noble armament of cavalry: he had 70,000 foot, and was still collecting greater forces. The angel signifies the future arrival of the king of Syria, after the interval of a certain time. At the end of the times of the years he shall surely come, that is he shall break forth. The angel seems to use this expression for the sake of increasing its certainty; for he at first despised the Romans in consequence of their great distance from him, and he had no fear of what afterwards occurred. He never supposed they had such boldness in them as to cross the sea against him.

He afterwards adds, And in those times many shall stand against the king of the South, or Egypt. The angel hints, that Antiochus the Great would not be his only enemy; and historians inform us of his treaty and alliance with Philip king of Macedon, for carrying on this war. Without doubt, the two kings stirred up the whole of Asia Minor, and they were so unitedly powerful, that many were excited to take part with them. It seemed to be all over with the kingdom of Egypt, and thus the angel says, many should stand up against the king of the South. He adds, and his sons dissipation. The Hebrews call “robbers” yxyrp pheritzim. The root of this word is ≈rp, pheretz, which signifies to break or dissipate, and sometimes to destroy. Without doubt, the angel here uses the word to imply factious men, for the people had no other chance of standing, except by remaining quiet and united. The word then applies to those who violated that unity; for when any one attached himself to foreign monarchs, Judea became exposed as a prey to either the Syrians or Egyptians. Some interpreters apply this passage to the younger Onias, who seized on Heliopolis, and drew some exiles with him, and there built a temple, as we learn from Josephus and the Book of Maccabees. For he pretended to have the prophecy in Isaiah 19, on his side, where it is said, And there shall be an altar to God in the midst of Egypt, (<231919>Isaiah 19:19.) Without doubt, the Prophet here predicts the enlargement of God’s kingdom through the propagation of his religion throughout the whole world. As Egypt was to the last degree devoted to idolatry, Isaiah here shews how the pure and perfect worship of God should prevail in Egypt. As if he had said, Even the Egyptians who have, hitherto endeavored to abolish true and sincere piety, shall be added to God’s people, and shall worship him acceptably. We know the Prophet to be here treating figuratively of the spiritual reign of Christ, and to be always bringing forward the shadows of his own time. By the word “altar” he simply means the worship of God. That impostor, Onias, when he erected his profane temple and polluted the sacred altar, boasted in his fulfillment of this prophecy of Isaiah.

This then is the meaning of the passage. The sons — dissipaters of thy people — shall exalt themselves to establish the vision; that is, under a fallacious pretext of fulfilling Isaiah’s prediction, and yet they shall fall. It may also have all indefinite meaning, as if the angel declared that; these multitudes should not come forth unless by God’s secret counsel. We know how much this thought tends to lighten the sorrow of the pious, and how much consolation it brings, when we recognize all the tumults of the world as springing from the fixed counsel of God. Nothing then appears to happen at random, but mortals are agitated because God desires to inflict his punishments upon them, and the Church is often shaken because God wishes to prove and examine the patience of his people. We may, therefore, take this prophecy absolutely; as if the angel had said. These apostates and dissipaters never proposed to fulfill this prophecy of Isaiah’s, and yet there was nothing confused, or out of order in all these events, as God was fulfilling what he had testified by his own Prophets. Wherefore we may receive this prediction simply, just as we do other similar ones scattered throughout the prophets. We have already heard how the Prophet was forewarned of the many distresses of the Church, on purpose to lead the faithful to acquiesce in the providence of God, when they saw things so disturbed throughout the world. It afterwards follows, —

<271115>Daniel 11:15

15. So the king of the north shall come, and cast up a mount, and take the most fenced cities; and the arms of the south shall not withstand, neither his chosen people, neither shall there be any strength to withstand.

15. Et veniet rex aquilonis et fundet aggerem, F552 et capiet urbem munitionum; et brachia austri, hoc est, AEgypti, non stabunt, neque populus electorum ejus, neque virtus erit ad standum.

 

The angel follows up the same sentiment. He says, When Antiochus the Great shall burst forth, there shall be no valor in the Egyptians to resist him, for he shall take a fortified city. There is a change of number here, for he means fortified cities. For he should recover the cities which he had formerly lost, and should arrive at the city Raphia in Egypt. The explanation follows, The arms of Egypt shall not stand, nor the people of its levies. This relates to Scopas, who was sent forth with large forces: at first he prospered, but he was afterwards vanquished in the conflict, and had no courage to persevere in resistance. It afterwards follows, —

<271116>Daniel 11:16

16. But he that cometh against him shall do according to his own will, and none shall stand before him; and he shall stand in the glorious land, which by his hand shall be consumed.

16. Et faciet veniens ad eum pro beneplacito suo, hoc est, pro suo libidine, et nullus stabit coram facie ejus, et stabit in terra desiderabili, et consumetur, alii nomen esse volunt, consumptio, in manu ejus.

 

The angel proceeds with the same discourse. He says, Antiochus the Great should accomplish his wishes, and should spread the terror of his arms in every direction, and thus no one would dare to oppose him. He shall do therefore according to his will, he says, and none shall stand before his face; and he shall stand in the desirable land; meaning, he shall bring his victorious army into Judea, and there shall be a great consumption under his hand, or Judea shall be consumed and ruined under his hand. We originally stated, that the angel’s mission did not authorize him to great these events as military exploits are usually narrated by historians. Enough is revealed to lead the faithful to acknowledge God’s continual regard for their safety. Experience also assures us of every occurrence being divinely foreseen, and thus they would acknowledge how everything tended to promote their welfare. God’s predictions of future events were never in vain, and the angel now declares the future coming of Antiochus to the desirable land. We have previously given the reason for the use of this epithet as applied to Judea, — not through any natural excellence over other lands, but because God had chosen it for himself as his seat and dwelling-place. The excellence of this land depended entirely on the gratuitous beneficence of God. It might seem inconsistent to grant such license to an impious tyrant and robber, and to allow him to overrun Judea, which God had marked out with peculiar honor, in adopting it as his dwelling-place, and calling it his residence. (<19D214>Psalm 132:14.) But we know that the Church, while on its pilgrimage in this world, enjoys no freedom from many infliction’s; for it is profitable for the sons of God to be humbled under the cross, lest they should grow restive in the world, and give themselves up to luxuries, and sleep upon the desires of the flesh. The angel, indeed, omits the reason why God suffered Antiochus thus cruelly to oppress the sacred land; but the faithful had been taught by the Law and the Prophets how the Church was subject to various tribulations. It is sufficient, then, to relate the event with simplicity: and the pleasant land shall be consumed under his hand, or there shall be a consumption. It matters but little which way we read it as far as the sense is concerned. The angel here encourages Daniel and all others to the exercise of patience, lest they should faint under this divine scourge; for he permitted Antiochus to wander about like a robber, and to exercise severe tyranny and cruelty against the Jews. I need not discuss these events at greater length, as they are found in the Books of the Maccabees. I will only touch on one point briefly; Antiochus did not of his own accord harass the Jews by leading his army into their country, but he was stirred up by impious priests. So great was their perfidy and barbarity that they willingly betrayed God’s Temple, and exposed their nation to the most distressing calamities. That was a severe trial: hence God consulted the interests of his own worshippers by predicting events which might weaken their confidence and cause them to indulge in despair. It follows, —

<271117>Daniel 11:17

17. He shall also set his face to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom, and upright ones with him; thus shall he do: and he shall give him the daughter of women, corrupting her; but she shall not stand on his side, neither be for him.

17. Et ponet faciem suam f553 ad veniendum cum potentia totius regni, et rectitudines cum eo: f554 et faciet, et filiam mulierum dabit illi ad perdendum eam, sed non stabit ipsa, et non erit ipsa ei. f555

 

He here describes the second war of Antiochus against Epiphanes, who was then growing old; and so he gave, him his daughter Cleopatra in marriage, hoping in this way, by subtle contrivances, to subdue the kingdom of Egypt. For he thought his daughter would remain faithful to his interests; but she rather preserved her conjugal fidelity to her husband, and hesitated not to espouse her husband’s quarrel against her father. She faithfully adhered to her husband’s interests according to her duty, and never listened to the cunning designs of Antiochus. Thus he was deprived of his expectation, and his daughter never became the means of his acquiring authority over Egypt. Before this marriage of his daughter with Ptolemy, he had tried the effect of war, bug in this he failed; and when he perceived the interposition of the Romans, he desisted from future hostilities, and consoled himself with the thought which we have already expressed, of receiving immediate assistance against Egypt through his daughter. He turns, therefore, to come with the power of his whole kingdom; meaning, he collects all his forces to overwhelm Ptolemy Epiphanes, who was then but a young man, and had neither obtained any great authority, nor arrived at sound wisdom and discretion. When he perceived his want of success in the fortune of war, he gave him the daughter of women, referring to her beauty. This is the explanation of interpreters, who suppose the phrase to imply her remarkable beauty.

As to the next clause, those who translate it, and the upright with him, think the Jews are intended, for Antiochus had received them in surrender, and there were many who openly espoused his cause. They think the Jews so called as a mark of honor, and as upright with respect to the worship of God. But This appears to me too forced. I hesitate not to suppose the angel to signify the superior character of the agreement between Antiochus and Ptolemy, when the former found the impossibility of obtaining his adversary’s kingdom by open warfare. Although the Romans had not yet sent forth any armament, yet Antiochus began to fear them, and he preferred the use of cunning in providing for his own interests. Besides this, as we lately mentioned, he was longing for other booty, for he immediately transferred the war into Greece, as the angel will inform us. But he first announces, his giving away his daughter to destroy her. He here reproves the artifice of Antiochus the Great, in thus basely selling his (laughter, as if she were a harlot. As far as he possibly could, he induced her to slay her husband either by poison or by other devices. Hence, he gave up his daughter to destroy her, but she did not stand by him, and was not for him; meaning, she did not assent to her father’s impious desires, and was unwilling to favor such monstrous wickedness. We read in profane writers the fulfillment of these predictions of the angel, and thus it more clearly appears how God placed before the eyes of the pious, a mirror in which they might behold his providence in ruling and preserving his Church. It now follows, —

<271118>Daniel 11:18

18. After this shall he turn his face unto the isles, and shall take many: but a prince for his own behalf’ shall cause the reproach by him to cease; without his own reproach he shall cause it to turn.

18. Et vertet faciem suam ad insulas, et capiet multas, et quiescere faciet, hoc est, retorquebit, princeps opprobrium ejus apud ipsum. Ideo non torquebit opprobrium suum in ipsum.

 

There is some obscurity in these words, but the history will afterwards determine the angel’s meaning. First, as to the word “islands,” he doubtless means Asia Minor and the maritime coasts; also Greece, Cyprus, and all the islands of the Mediterranean Sea. It was a Jewish custom to call all places beyond the sea “islands,” as they were not very well skilled in navigation. Therefore he says, He will turn his face to the islands; that is, he shall turn to the opposite regions of the world. The Mediterranean Sea is known to be between Syria and Asia Minor; Cilicia, too, is between them, which was also under the dominion of Antiochus, although the seed of his power was Syria. Hence he calls Asia Minor, and Greece, and the Mediterranean islands, all “isles,” with respect to Syria and Judea. This occurred when the AEtolians renewed the war after the defeat of Philip. The Romans were the originators of this war in Greece, and they had the honorable pretext of liberating the whole of Greece after Philip of Macedon had seized upon many cities most skillfully fortified. But the Etolians were proud and puffed up with the desire of superiority, as the event ultimately proved. They boasted themselves to be the liberators of Greece; they used the help of the Romans, but professed to be the principal leaders in the war, and when they saw Chalcis and other cities held by the Romans, the spirit of envy took possession of them. Titus Flaminius withdrew his garrisons from their cities, but yet the AEtolians were not satisfied; for they wished for the sole pre-eminence and the entire departure of the Romans. With this view they sent their ambassadors to Nabis the tyrant of the Lacedaemonians, to king Philip, and also to Antiochus. Thoas was the principal author of this contention, for after stirring up the neighboring nations, he set out himself to Antiochus. When the AEtolians were puffed up by the large promises which he brought back, they expected to produce peace throughout Greece without the slightest trouble. Meanwhile Antiochus only advanced as far as Asia Minor with but a small force. He led Hannibal with him, whose fame alone inspired the Romans with dread; and had he taken his advice, he would certainly have had no difficulty in expelling the Romans. But the flatterers of His court did not allow Hannibal’s advice to prevail with this foolish king. Then Villius also cunningly rendered Antiochus suspicious of his advice: for he had been sent as ambassador into Asia Minor, had insinuated himself into his favor, and had acquired his friendship, and was so engaged in daily conference with him, that Antiochus suspected the fidelity of Hannibal to his interests. Hence he carried on that war entirely without method, or plan, or perseverance. When he arrived at Chalcis, he was smitten with the passion for a damsel there, and celebrated a foolish marriage with her, as if he had been completely at peace. Thus he had citizen of Chalcis for his father-in-law, while he was mighty monarch, unequaled by any throughout the world. Although he conducted himself thus he considerately, yet the celebrity of his fame rather than his personal exertions, enabled him at first to take many cities, not only in Asia Minor and on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, but also in Greece itself. He recovered Chalcis and other cities which had been seized upon by the Romans. The angel relates this as if the event had already occurred, and yet we are aware of them all being as yet future.

He will turn his face to the islands, and will take many, and a general shall cause him to cease, and shall turn his reproach against himself. Antiochus often fought against the Romans, and always without success, although he sometimes thought himself superior; but from the time when Attilius the prefect of the fleet intercepted his supplies, and thus stopped his progress, M. Acilius the consul began to gain the mastery by land, and his power became gradually more and more enfeebled. When conquered in a naval engagement by Livius the praetor, he suffered a severe loss, and then when too late he acknowledged his error in not obeying the counsels of Hannibal; but he had lost the opportunity of renewing the war. Hence the angel here says, A leader should make his reproach return upon himself. This signifies how Antiochus should be puffed up with foolish pride, and how his insane boastings should rebound upon his own head, as he had vomited them forth with open mouth against the Romans. When he speaks here of his disgrace, I interpret it actively, as making his reproach remain; for the word tprj cherepheth, means reproach, but there are two ways of interpreting it, actively and passively. But as I have already said, the angel more probably speaks of his foolish boasting, for he had despised the Romans with contempt and insult. We know how foolishly he insulted them by his ambassadors among all the assemblies of Greece. A leader, then, either Acilius or Lucius Scipio, who drove him beyond Mount Taurus, made his disgrace rest upon himself, and he shall not turn away his own disgrace; that is, Antiochus vomited forth his reproaches against the Romans with swollen cheeks, but with utter futility. All these disgraceful speeches came to nothing, and never injured the Romans in the least; but that leader, either Lucius Scipio or Acilius, according to my statement, returned these reproaches upon himself by which he hoped to lay the Romans prostrate, but they turned out nothing but wind. The angel therefore derides the pride of Antiochus by saying, A leader should come who should throw back these reproaches upon himself, and prevent them from returning upon either this leader or the Romans. He takes the head as representing. the whole body.

PRAYER.

Grant, Almighty God, since it pleases thee to exercise our confidence by not allowing us any fixed or stable rest upon earth, that we may learn to rest in thee while the world rolls over and over even a hundred times. May we never doubt either our protection under thy hand, or the perpetual issue of all things in our good. Although we are not beyond the reach of darts, yet may we know the impossibility of our suffering under any deadly wound, when thou puttest forth thy hand to shield us. May we have full confidence in thee, and never cease to march under thy standard with constant and invincible courage, until at length thou shalt gather us into that happy rest which is laid up for us in heaven, by Christ our Lord. — Amen.


Lecture fifty-ninth

<271119>Daniel 11:19

19. Then he shall turn his face toward the fort of his own land: but he shall stumble, and fall, and not be found.

19. Et vertet faciem suam ad munitiones terrae suae, et impinget, et cadet, neque invenietur.

 

Here either the base end of Antiochus is denoted, who was slain in a popular tumult while spoiling the temple of Belus, or else the event of the war between him and the Romans is described. This war was conducted under the auspices of Lucius Scipio, because Cneius Scipio, the conqueror of Africa, had offered himself as his brother’s lieutenant-general, and after his death that province was committed to him. But, as we have said, the resources of Antiochus had been cut off before this. He had lost, the cities of Asia, and if he had ceded them at first, he might have quietly retained the greater part of Asia Minor. But as he extended his wings over Greece, and hoped by this means to become completely master of the whole of Greece and Macedonia, he could not be induced to withdraw his garrisons from those cities, but at length was compelled to give up Asia Minor. In this way, then, the angel describes the progress of the war by saying, He will turn his face towards the fortifications of his own land; that is, when compelled to relinquish Greece, he will betake himself to fortified places. He was very safe there, and in a region sufficiently at peace; he had almost impregnable towns on all sides, and appeared to be free from warfare. Historians relate this to have been done by the skill of Cneius Scipio. For his son was then a captive under Antiochus, and he knew him to have greater authority than his brother, although he only possessed the title of lieutenant-general. They record his persuading Antiochus not to try his fortune by any decisive engagement. However it was, it is quite evident that he delayed fighting till he was compelled by a sense of shame, as all men accused him of cowardice in not daring to try the issue of an engagement, when he possessed so large an army. The Romans had scarcely ever taken the field against so strong a force, and yet, according to the narrative of Titus Livius, they never displayed less terror or concern. The extent of the forces of Antiochus is readily apparent from the slaughter which occurred; in one day 50,000 men perished; and this would be almost incredible, unless it were borne out by numerous and trustworthy testimonies. In this way the angel said, Antiochus should return, as he did not go forth to meet Lucius Scipio, but suffered him to pass on. Had he given the least sign of resistance, without doubt Philip had in iris hand and power the whole force of the Romans. Many indeed pronounced the conduct of L. Scipio to be rash, in daring to allow Philip such license, as he had been lately conquered, and was still exasperated in consequence of the loss and disgrace which he had suffered. For if Antiochus had been on the alert to restrain the enemy, it would have been all over with the Roman army in those narrow and rugged defiles; but, as we have stated, he kept his army in idleness and luxury among fortified towns. If another and a probable sense is preferred, the sentence applies to his base retreat to further Asia, where he fell, slain by the rustic population. He shall fall, and shall not be found. Antiochus in truth continued to reign from the period of the destruction of his army and of his acceptance of the conditions which the Romans imposed. He obtained peace, but not without the payment of a heavy fine while he retained the name of king. Although he united with the Romans in an honorable treaty, yet he was forced to retire beyond Mount Taurus, to pay a large sum of money on account of the expenses of the war, to give hostages, and to divide the ships equally with the Romans. In this latter case he was grossly and fraudulently deluded, for L. Scipio commanded all the ships to be cut to pieces, and delivered the materials to Antiochus, to whom they were utterly worthless. He knew the man to be deceptive and restless, and so he treated him with barbarity, according to his deserts. As far as the hostages are concerned, we find Antiochus and Demetrius his sons as hostages at Rome even after his death. He was left in peace indeed, but was deprived of the cities of Asia Minor, and was ordered to betake himself beyond Mount Taurus. Those ravines were the boundary of his empire; a part of Asia was assigned to Eumenes, and many cities became independent. Antiochus, by way of concealing his disgrace, made a joke of it, saying he had managed cleverly, for the government of Asia Minor was a great trouble to him. He had another ample and opulent kingdom with which he might well be content: I have hitherto been but a steward in Asia, he used to say, and the Romans have relieved me of that encumbrance.

When, therefore, the angel says, After his fall, he should be no longer king; this may be understood of his ignominious death which followed shortly afterwards. His avarice was insatiable, and when compelled to pay a large tribute to the Romans, he pretended to be reduced to extreme poverty; then he wished to spoil the temple of Jupiter Dodoneus, and was slain there during a tumult. This last word ought properly to be referred to this event, for King Antiochus was not found, because these rustics slew him in the tumult which arose. Thus far concerning Antiochus the Great; Seleucus now follows, who was his first successor. He had three sons, Seleucus whom many call Ceraunus, then Antiochus Epiphanes, and Demetrius. Concerning Seleucus the angel speaks as follows, —

<271120>Daniel 11:20

20. Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom: but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle.

20. Et stabit super locum ejus transire faciens exactorem in honore regni, f556 et diebus paucis conteretur, idque non ira, neque in praelio.

 

Seleucus, it is well known, did not long survive his father, for he was put to death either by poison, or by his domestics. Suspicion fell upon his brother Antiochus, who was sent back to his country after his father’s death was known. Demetrius alone was retained, who afterwards escaped by flight, for he left the city under the pretense of hunting, and followed the bank of the Tiber as far as Ostia, where he embarked on a small vessel, preferring to run all risks to remaining in perpetual banishment. Concerning Seleucus, the angel says, he shall stand in his place, meaning, he shall succeed by hereditary right to the office of Antiochus the Great. Thus he shall cause the exactor to pass over. Some translate, He shall take away the exactor; for the verb rb[ gneber, in Hiphil, signifies to take away. The Hebrews use the verb of this clause in the sense of excluding. Some interpreters think this language implies the praise of Seleucus for lessening the tributes imposed by his father, but historians shew this view to be false, and condemn his avarice and rapacity. In some points he was superior to his brother Antiochus; although both lustful and cruel to those around him. Through indulgence in great expenses, he could not be moderate and lenient towards his subjects; for luxury and prodigality always draw with them cruelty in the exaction of tribute. For he who is thus profuse, must necessarily extract the very blood from his people. As Seleucus was thus devoted to self-indulgence, this sense is more appropriate — he made the exactor to pass through, meaning, he laid new and fresh taxes on all his subjects. Nothing but this is said of him, since he was immediately put to death, as the second clause of the verse informs. us. If we prefer taking the words — the glory of the kingdom — by way of opposition, Seleucus will be praised as an honor and an ornament. But I think we must supply the letter l, l, and understand the passage thus, — He who shall cause the exactor to pass through shall stand in his place, and shall be destroyed in a few days. By the word “destroyed,” he signifies a bloody death. But not in anger, says he. I wonder why some translate it “in mutual conflict,” because the Hebrews imply “anger” by this word; meaning, he should not perish in open warfare, or in the course of a battle, but by the hands of his domestics. Historians differ as to the kind of death which he died, some saying he was poisoned, and others, slain by the sword. But this difference is of no consequence. Antiochus Epiphanes next succeeds him.

<271121>Daniel 11:21

21. And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honor of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.

21. Et stabit super locum ejus probrosus, et non dabunt ei f557 decorem regni, f558 et veniet cum pace, et apprehendet regnum per blanditias.

 

Historians agree in representing Antiochus Epiphanes to have been of a very crafty disposition, and some state his departure from Rome to have been by stealth. He was most probably dismissed by the Romans, on the news of his father’s death, as they were content with his brother Demetrius. They had other hostages besides, who were among the chief nobles of the land, as well as this third son of the king. However this was, all are agreed in relating his cunning. He was so cruel and fierce, that Polybius says he was called Epimanes by way of a nickname, and as he assumed the name of Illustrious, he was called the Madman, on account of his turbulent disposition. He was a monster puffed up with various vices; being of a slavish and flattering temperament, he endeavored to acquire the favor of Rome by artifice, as we shall afterwards discover. But when he was not actuated by fear, his cruelty and ferocity were beyond all bounds. For this reason he is called contemptible. He was held in some esteem at Rome, and was received by a portion of his people with great applause. But he was not endued with any heroic or even regal qualities, for he always flattered the Romans, and insinuated himself into the favor of the citizens in this way, until he came to his kingdom as a suppliant; and then the angel calls him a contemptible or despicable person. Another reason equally probable may be brought forward, namely, his seizing upon the throne by fraud and wickedness, after setting aside the legitimate heir. For Seleucus left a successor whom this perfidious plotter deprived of his rights, and thus fraudulently acquired the kingdom for himself. We know of what importance God makes every one’s calling, and how he restrains men from rashly arrogating anything to themselves, as they ought always to be satisfied with that station which is assigned them by God. As, therefore, Antiochus seized on the kingdom without any right to it, and drove out the lawful heir, he was contemptible before God, and would never have been king at all except; by violence and tyranny on his part, as well as by deceit. and cunning devices. I have no hesitation in stating that the angel here censures the perverse conduct of Antiochus, by calling him despised through the absence of all nobleness of feeling.

He next adds, They shall not confer upon him the honor of royalty. By these words he announces the injustice of his reign through not being chosen by the votes of the people. We have stated that the son of Seleucus ought to have reigned without any dispute, but the very person who should have been his nephew’s guardian, wickedly deprived his ward of his paternal inheritance. Hence the angel speaks of him rather as a robber than as a king, because he seized upon the kingdom, and was not elected by the popular choice. It follows, — he shall come in peace, and seize the kingdom by flatteries. This is the explanation of the last clause. It might be asked, how did he deprive his nephew of his kingdom? the reply is — he shall come peacefully, meaning, he shall lay aside everything which he was agitating in his mind, and should not openly boast of his being king, but should deceitfully act in the character of guardian until he had the power of ruining his ward. He shall come, then, peacefully, and shall seize the kingdom by flatteries. Thus we see the angel’s meaning in these words. Besides, although Daniel did not see all these things, nor even many of the chosen people, yet they tasted enough of these prophecies to satisfy them, and to banish anxiety from their minds. They were permitted to perceive God speaking through his angel, and experience taught them the truth of everything which is contained here, even if many events should be hidden from them. But it was God’s object to support the spirits of the pious, even to the advent of Christ, and to retain them in tranquillity amidst the greatest disturbances. Thus they would acknowledge the value of the promise of the Redeemer, after he had been set forth, as will be mentioned at the close of the chapter. I will now proceed to the next words.

<271122>Daniel 11:22

22. And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, the prince of the covenant.

22. Et brachia inundatione obruentur, ad verbum, inundabuntur, a conspectu ejus, et conterentur, atque etiam dux foederis.

 

We may naturally conjecture that the dominions of Antiochus were not immediately at peace, because a portion of his court favored the lawful heir. As it always happens in every change of government, there were many tumults in Syria before Antiochus could remove his adversaries out of his way. For although the kingdom of Egypt was then destitute of a head, as Ptolemy, called Philometor, was then only a boy, his counselors were in favor of the son of Seleucus, and so by secret supplies afforded their aid to the faction opposed to Antiochus. He had much trouble not only with his own people, but also with the neighboring nations. All pitied the lot of his ward, and his being quite undeserving of it moved many to render him every possible help. The boy was aided by the favor of Egypt, and of other nations. Thus Antiochus was subject to many severe commotion’s, but the angel announces his final conquest. The arms, he says, shall be inundated. This is a metaphorical expression; for whatever aid the son of Seleucus acquired, was not by his own efforts, for he could use none, but by that of his friends. The arms, then, meaning, all the auxiliaries which should assist in the restoration of the son of Seleucus, should be overwhelmed by an inundation. This is another metaphor, signifying, they shall be drowned as by a deluge; and by this figure the angel hints not only at the victory of Antiochus, but at its great facility. It was like a deluge, not by its own strength, but because God wished to use the hand of this tyrant in afflicting the Israelites, as we shall afterwards see, and also in harassing both Egypt and Syria. Antiochus was in truth God’s scourge, and is thus compared to a deluge. Hence he says, out of his sight. He shews the terror of Antiochus to be so great, that at his very appearance he should dispirit and prostrate his enemies, although he was without forces, and was neither a bold nor a persevering warrior.

And they shall be broken, says he, and also the leader of the covenant; meaning, Ptolemy shall take the part of His relative in vain. For the son of Seleueus was the cousin of Ptolemy Philometor, since, as we have said, Cleopatra had married Ptolemy Philopator, whence this Philometor was sprung, and Seleueus was the brother of Cleopatra. He, then, was the leader of the covenant. Ptolemy, indeed, who was but a boy, could neither undertake nor accomplish anything by his own counsel, but such was his dignity in the kingdom of Egypt, that he was deservedly called leader of the covenant, since all others followed the power of that king. The event fully proved with what ill success all who endeavored to eject Antiochus from his possessions, contended against him. It now follows, —

<271123>Daniel 11:23

23. And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people.

23. Et a conjunctione cum eo faciet dolum, et ascendet, et praevalebit cum exigua gente, vel, manu.

 

The angel points out some interruption of the wars, because Antiochus would be content for a time with Syria, and would not make an attempt of Egypt. It was a great point to repel the attempts of all those who wished to recover the rights of his nephew. There is no doubt that the whole country was impoverished and exhausted with the continual expense of these wars; for whenever fresh commotion’s arose, it was necessary to draw new levies from these provinces, and This occasioned very great expense. It is not surprising, then, if Antiochus, who was of a cunning disposition, negotiated a temporary peace with his nephew Ptolemy Philometor the king of Egypt. His sister Cleopatra still survived, and this was an honorable excuse. The angel, then, states first, the proposal of a truce leading to settled peace between the two sovereigns. He adds, however, the perfidious conduct of Antiochus in his friendships. During, or after these agreements, he shall deal treacherously with him. Although, therefore, he pretended to be the friend and ally of his nephew, yet he conducted himself deceitfully towards him. And he shall ascend, and shall prevail by a small band; meaning, he shall attack the boy suddenly. For when Ptolemy anticipated a lasting friendship with his uncle, Antiochus took the opportunity of fraudulently attacking some cities with a small force: He thus deceived his enemy, who thought all things would be tranquil with him; and so when Ptolemy had no fear of his uncle, he suddenly lost some of his cities. The angel means this; he shall rise by deceit, and shall prevail without large forces, because there shall be no suspicion of warfare. It is easy enough to oppress an enemy in a state of tranquillity, and in the absence of all fear. It is afterwards added, —

<271124>Daniel 11:24

24. He shall enter peaceably even upon the fattest places of the province; and he shall do that which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches: yea, and he shall forecast his devices against the strong holds, even for a time.

24. In pace, et in pinguedinibus regionis, aut provinciae, veniet, hoc est, in deliciis, et faciet quae non fecerunt patres ejus, et patres patrum ejus: spolia et praedam, et substantiam illis dispertiet, f559 et super munitiones cogitabit cogitationes suas, idque ad tempus.

 

The history is here continued: The angel shews how Antiochus in a short time and with a small band should acquire many cities, as he should come in peace upon the fatness of the province, implying his oppressing them while sleeping in security. He shews also how he should become conqueror, not by any hostile invasion of Egypt, but by cunning and stealth he should deprive King Ptolemy of his cities when he least expected it. There should be no appearance of war; hence he says, he shall come in peace upon the fatness of the land. The word “fatness” is used metaphorically for “richness.” When the Egyptians supposed all danger to be far removed, and were persuaded of the friendship of Antiochus towards them, and relied on him as an ally should any adversity arise, they indulged themselves in luxuries till Antiochus came suddenly and subdued them. He next adds, He shall despise the spoil, and prey, and goods, which belonged to them. Some take the words for spoil and prey in the sense of “soldiers,” and join it with the verb rwzby ibzor, “he shall disperse,” meaning, he shall distribute their possessions among his soldiers, to conciliate their good will, and to prepare them for new wars, as we know how easily soldiers are enticed when they receive the rewards of their service; for they are actuated solely by covetousness and avarice. Some writers expound it in this way — Antiochus shall divide the prey among his soldiers, but I prefer the other sense — he shall disperse the prey, and the spoil, and the goods, of the Egyptians. After suddenly oppressing the Egyptians, he shall proceed to spoil them like a robber.

He afterwards adds, And against the fortifications shall he devise machinations, meaning, he shall lay his plans for seizing the fortified cities. For at; first he penetrated as far as certain cities, and occupied first Coelo-Syria, and afterwards Phoenica, but could not quickly possess the fortified towns; hence he deferred the execution of his plans to a more suitable time. Therefore, the angel says, he shall arrange his plans against the fortified cities, but only for the time; meaning, he shall not immediately bring forward his intentions, hoping to oppress his nephew when off his guard. Thus under the disguise of peace an access to these cities would always be open to him, and he would reconcile to himself all whom he could corrupt by either gifts or other devices. We perceive, then, how a summary is here presented to us of the arts and schemes by which Antiochus should deprive his nephew of a portion of his territory and its towns, how suddenly he should invade some of the weakest in a state of unsuspecting tranquillity; and how by degrees he should invent machinations for seizing upon the stronger towns as well as he could. He also says, for the time. The cunning and malice of Antiochus was always apparent throughout these transactions. He did not engage in open warfare, but was always endeavoring to add to his possessions by indirect frauds, — a course which was not without its success.

When it is said, He shall do what neither his fathers nor his fathers’ fathers did, this must be restricted solely to Egypt. For Seleucus the first king of Syria enjoyed a wide extent of dominion, then he prospered in warfare, and his fame flourished even to a good old age, and though at last he was unsuccessful in battle, yet on the whole he was a superior and celebrated warrior. Besides this we know him to have been one of the chief generals of Alexander the Great. As to his son Antiochus, we have previously observed the wide extent of his dominion, and how highly he was esteemed for prudence and valor. The angel does not compare Antiochus Epiphanes generally with either his fat, her, or grandfather, or great-grandfather, but only with respect to Egypt. For his ancestors always longed after Egypt, but their designs against it were entirely frustrated; he, however, was more successful in his aggression where his ancestors had failed in their attempts. Hence it becomes manifest how God overrules the events of war, so that the conqueror and the triumphant hero is not the man who excels in counsel, or in prudence, or valor, but he who fights under the heavenly leader. It pleases God at one time to afflict nations, and at another to set over them kings who are really his servants. So he wished to punish Egypt by the hands of this robber. It afterwards follows, —

<271125>Daniel 11:25

25. And he shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the south with a great army; and the king of the south shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army; but he shall not stand: for they shall forecast devices against him.

25. Et excitabit robur suum, et cor suum adversus regem austri, cum exercitu magno: et rex austri irritabitur ad praelium cum exercitu magno, et robusto valde: et non stabit, quia cogitabunt contra eum cogitationes. f560

 

The angel here announces how Antiochus Epiphanes after prevailing by fraud, should become bolder in his daring. he should venture to levy a hostile army and invade Egypt openly, without any further dissimulation. He therefore says, at length he shall rouse his strength and his courage. He had previously crept along through hiding-places and fastnesses, and had. not roused either his strength or his courage when remaining quiet at home; meanwhile he obtained the possession of various towns by treachery and other artifices. This was only creeping on by burrowing underground. But he now openly declares war, and brings his forces into the field of battle, and thus stirs up his strength and his courage. As I have already said, his new method of warfare is here described as unusual with him, as his audacity, doubtless, gradually increased through that series of success which he had enjoyed, and by which he had become more powerful than his nephew, through the practice of deceit. He afterwards adds, with a great army. He had mentioned a small band, he now places opposite to it a large army; for it required a long space of time to collect extensive pecuniary resources for carrying on the war, and also for enlarging and extending his own boundaries. He was thus able to enroll fresh levies, while his prosperity induced many to become his auxiliaries. As he found himself in every way superior to his nephew, he collected a great army. The king of the south also shall be irritated; that is, he shall not dare to harass his own uncle Antiochus, but shall be forced to open warfare. He shall come, then, with a great army, very great, strong, and powerful, says he, but he shall not stand, because they shall devise devices against him; meaning, he shall be conquered by treachery. Here the angel signifies that Ptolemy should have sufficient courage to resist, had he not been betrayed by his adherents. We shall more clearly perceive this in the next verse to-morrow.

PRAYER.

Grant, Almighty God, that we may remain quiet under thy shelter and protection, hi the midst of those numerous disturbances which thou ever submittest to our eyes in this world. May we never lose our courage when an occasion is given to Satan and our enemies to oppress us, but may we remain secure trader thy protection, and every hour and every moment may we fly to thy guardianship. Relying on thine unconquered power, may we never hesitate so to pass through all commotion’s, as to repose with quiet minds upon thy grace, till at length we are gathered into that happy and eternal rest which thou hast prepared for us in heaven, by Jesus Christ our Lord. — Amen.


Lecture sixtieth

<271126>Daniel 11:26

26. Yea, they that feed of the portion of his meat shall destroy him, and his army shall overflow; and many shall fall down slain.

26. Et qui comedent portionem cibi ejus, conterent eum, et exercitus ejus obruetur, et cadent vulnerati multi.

 

The angel predicted, yesterday, that Ptolemy should not stand forth in battle, through the treachery of his own adherents. He now expresses the kind of treachery, for his chief courtiers or counselors should be the authors of this perfidy. He opposes the common soldiers to their leaders, for in the second clause, he shews how the soldiers should discharge their duty without sparing either their life or their blood. We now understand the Holy Spirit’s intention in this verse, for he says the authors of this perfidy should not be ordinary men, but the chief among the counselors. They are said to eat at the king’s table, as in the first chapter we saw how a portion was given to Daniel, and to his companions, from the royal food at the king’s table. Thus he shews how dishonorable this perfidy was, as they eat at his table, and were his intimate companions. They shall destroy him, says he, and his army shall be overwhelmed. He shews that many were prepared for this duty, who would boldly and freely expose their lives to danger for their king’s safety and their country’s defense, but many should fall wounded. He signifies that there should be a great slaughter in his army, and the issue of the battle would not be according to his wish, because his generals would not preserve their fidelity to their sovereign. By this example the angel describes to us the ordinary situation of kings. They choose their counselors not by their honesty, but by the mere appearance of congeniality in their affections and tastes. If a king is avaricious, or cunning, or cruel, or sensual, he desires to have friends and attendants who will not check either his avarice or his craftiness, his cruelty or his lust. Hence they deserve the conduct which they receive, and experience treachery from those whom they ought not to treat with so much honor, if they considered themselves in duty bound to God and to their people. It now follows,-

<271127>Daniel 11:27

27. And both these kings’ hearts shall be to do mischief, and in they shall speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper: for the end shall be at the time appointed.

27. Et duorum regum cor ipsorum, hoc est, et cor his duobus regibus, in malum: et in mensa eadam, una, mendacium loquentur, et non prospere eveniet, quia adhuc finis ad tempus statutum.

 

The angel here narrates that the close of this war should be by treaties and a hollow pretense of peace after the slaughter which Ptolemy had sustained. Although Antiochus might have followed up his own good fortune, yet he durst not venture to push his advantage to the extremity, but according to his disposition, he thought it more to his interest to make peace with his enemy. We have already alluded to his craftiness and his want of openness and integrity. The angel predicts the existence of bad faith in both these kings; the uncle and nephew will meet, says he, and sup together, and pretend the greatest friendship, but they shall speak lies, says he, at the same table; meaning, they shall plot against each other, and each shall act fraudulently for his own ends. This prophecy indeed seems to be of little consequence to the faithful; but it was needful to shew that in such a state of confusion they could not hold out without being furnished with all kinds of support. If the angel had only said generally, first there shall be war, and then a temporary peace, this would not have been sufficient to sustain the minds of the pious; but when the details are so clearly pointed out, a remarkable confirmation is afforded them. Thus the faithful have no reason for doubting that God has spoken, when the angel predicts the future so exactly, and so openly narrates it, as if a matter of history.

He next adds, Yet it shall not prosper, because the end is for the time, says he. The angel recalls the faithful to the providence of God, as our minds always naturally rest in the midst of earthly things. We apprehend with our minds only as far as we see with our eyes. We always ask the reasons “why this happens” and “why that course of proceeding has not turned out well,” entirely omitting the will of God. Hence the angel meets this fault and stupidity of men by saying, that whatever these kings were plotting should fail of success, since the end was for the time; meaning, God would hold many occurrences in suspense. While, therefore, we are considering only second causes, we perceive how the supreme power resides with God alone, and he governs by his will the mutual transactions of mankind. No slight advantage would result to the faithful from this instruction, because, while kings are devising many schemes, and using great cunning and all the perverse artifices of diplomacy, God still restrains their minds. He holds events by his secret bridle, and allows nothing to happen without his heavenly decree. Although we may gather this general instruction from this passage, yet the angel doubtless restricts what I have said to the historical events immediately before us. The end had not yet approached, yet the fitting time was fixed beforehand by God’s secret counsel, so that Antiochus conquers at one period and retreats at another, as we shall see. It follows: —

<271128>Daniel 11:28

28. Then shall he return into his land with great riches; and his heart shall be against the holy covenant; and he shall do exploits, and return to his own land.

28. Et revertetur in terram suam cum opibus magnis, et cor ejus ad foedus sanctitatis, et faciet, et revertetur in terram suam.

 

Here the angel predicts the calamitous nature of that peace for the people of God, because Antiochus should turn his arms against Jerusalem and the whole Jewish people. It is said, He shall return to his own land, because he shall not possess Egypt. This return implies the victory of Antiochus, and yet his betaking himself within the boundaries of his own realm. When he adds, with great pomp, or great riches, he shews the source whence that wealth should be derived, — his heart should be against the holy covenant. He partially destroyed Jerusalem and the temple of God. He was compelled to leave the temple and many treasures, through either shame, or reverence, or a miracle, as we read in the 2nd Book of Maccabees (Maccabees 5:2.) He would willingly have stripped the whole temple, but God then restrained him, while he had gathered for himself great wealth. Hence the angel joins the two events, he should return to Syria with great wealth, and his heart should be against the holy covenant. Some refer this to persons, as if the angel meant the people who were in covenant with God. But the simpler sense pleases me better, — he should carry on war against God, because he was not enriched with such ample spoils as he had expected. We have mentioned his making peace with his enemy: lest, therefore, this expedition should be fruitless, he spoiled the temple of God. Thus his heart was elated against God and against his holy covenant. The other exposition is too cold and too forced.

And he shall do it and shall return to his own land. This return at the end of the verse is taken in a different sense from that at the beginning, as now he should use his own will as a conqueror, and no one should oppose his arrival in his own territories. These two expressions are to be read together, — he shall do it and return to his own dominions. The meaning of the word for “do” we have already explained. The angel signifies the absence of every obstacle which could prevent the destruction of the city and temple by Antiochus. This was a severe trial, and would cause the minds of the faithful to be disturbed and tossed about because God gave up his temple to this cruel tyrant, and permitted the sacred vessels and the hidden treasures to be carried off with the greatest ignominy. It was necessary, then, to inform the faithful beforehand of this grievous slaughter, lest its novelty should astonish them and overthrow the constancy of their faith. Hence we gather this practical instruction — God often predicts many sorrowful events for us, and yet this instruction ought not to embitter our feelings; for he wishes to fortify us against the trial which the novelty of the event, must occasion. Thus the angel, while treating of occurrences by no means agreeable, was a useful herald of all the calamities which must happen, lest anything unusual or unexpected should fall upon the pious. Thus they would acknowledge the affliction to proceed from God’s hand; and while they were exposed to the lust of Antiochus, yet God by his certain and incomprehensible counsel allowed much license to this impious tyrant. It afterwards follows

<271129>Daniel 11:29-30

29. At the time appointed he shall return, and come toward the south but it shall not be as the former, or as the latter.

29. Ad tempus revertetur et veniet in AEgyptum: et non erit ut prius, it a posterius. f561

30. For the ships of Chittim shall come against him; therefore he shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant: so shall he do; he shall even return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant.

30. Et venient contra eum naves Cithim, et debilitabitur, f562 et revertetur, et indignabitur adversus foedus sanctitatis, et faciet, et revertetur, et intelliget, f563 ad desertores foederis sanctitatis.

 

First of all, the angel says, Antiochus should return a short time afterwards and take possession of Egypt. This was the fruit of that pretended peace and perfidious friendship which has already been mentioned. For the uncle and nephew banqueted together in mutual distrust, as the angel has already stated, and as we found in the 27th verse of this chapter. This deception was shortly afterwards dissolved, when Antiochus, without any reasonable impulse, returned to Egypt. In this way he shewed his want of nothing but an opportunity for breaking the truce, and he only delayed it for a time, because he had no wish to oppress his nephew in haste. This, then, is one point. We may take the word d[wm mogned, “time,” for a period divinely predetermined; but. as this explanation may seem too forced, I am contented with the common one. He shall return, then, for a time, and shall come, says he, to Egypt; but the latter exposition shall not be like the former; for the whole preparation for war which had struck such terror into Egypt should lose its effect. He had seized on a portion of the kingdom, and King Ptolemy Philometor was besieged when Publius Popilius arrived, of whom the angel will presently speak. For the cause of his return is added, — ships shall come from Chittim. We have explained this word elsewhere. By comparing all the passages of Scripture in which the word occurs, we shall find all the Gentiles denoted by it, from Macedon through the whole of Greece, as far as Illyricum and Italy. The ancients used another term for the Macedonians; they call them Maketoe, and some think the letter M a useless addition. But whether this be so or not, the circumstances shew the Macedonians, and Greeks, and other transmarine nations, to have been called Chittim. If any one still disputes about this word, let us desist from all contention; still, we cannot help observing what the perpetual tenor of Scripture enables us to discover, — that the Macedonians, Greeks, and Italians are included under this term. This passage is free from all doubt, because Antiochus was restrained not by the Greeks but by the Romans. Ambassadors were sent by them, not for this purpose alone, but to investigate the whole state of Greece and Asia Minor. The affairs of Greece were then very unsettled, and the Romans were turning their attention towards Achaia, for they thought the Achaean league would become too powerful. Among these ambassadors was P. Popilius, a stern man, as we may venture to conjecture, but austere and barbarous. When he met with Antiochus, who was then besieging Alexandria, and held the boy-king in captivity, he addressed him after his own manner. King Antiochus received him graciously, and mildly, and even blandly, and wished even to salute him, for, as we have already stated, his disposition was naturally servile. Popilius rejected all these advances, and ordered him to keep his familiarities for private intercourse; for Antiochus had been intimate with him when a hostage at Rome, during his father’s lifetime. He rejected all these acts of courtesy, and explained to him the commands of the Senate, and ordered him instantly to depart from Egypt. The king said he would consult with his friends. But he was unable to lay aside his accustomed sternness; he drew a circle with the wand which he held in his hand, and ordered the king to summon his counselors, and to deliberate on the spot, otherwise he must declare war at once. When the king perceived this barbarian acting so decisively, he dared no longer to hesitate or dissemble, but threw himself at once into the power of the Senate, and suddenly retired from the country. This history is now described by the angel. All these events were as yet unperformed, but God set before the eyes of the pious what was then entirely concealed and contrary to the expectation of mankind. The angel therefore states the reason wily that expedition of Antiochus should be quite unlike the last one. There shall come against him, says he, ships of Chittim, meaning Italy, and he shall grieve and return; that is, he shall obey, although he shall feel indignant at such imperious treatment, and be compelled to retreat with every mark of disgrace. It was unworthy of a king to demean himself so humbly at the mere word of his adversary.

This accounts for his indignation: But he shall return and be indignant against the covenant of holiness; meaning, he shall turn his rage against the temple and city of God. This second return involved the Jews in a far longer period of slaughter than the former one. Antiochus was then unwilling to return home, unless laden with spoil, after pretending to establish peace; but now he was compelled to retreat with great disgrace, and this only exasperated and enraged him. Hence he acted most outrageously towards both the people and the temple of God. Thus the angel says, He shall be indignant against the holy covenant, and shall do so and return. He repeats the same language twice as if he had said, Antiochus should return to Syria without effecting his object, through obeying the Roman Senate, or rather his old friend whom he had known at Rome. We have already stated the reason, which we shall afterwards more fully explain, why the angel predicted the fury of the king as turned against the holy covenant. It is this, — the confidence of the pious would naturally be injured by observing the divine permission granted to the tyrant for spoiling the temple.

He next adds, And he shall act with intelligence towards the forsakers of the holy covenant. The angel here points out the manner in which secret agreements should take place between Antiochus and those apostates who should desert God’s holy covenant. It is quite clear that he was summoned to Jerusalem, first, by Jason, and then by Menelaus. (2 Maccabees 4:19-23.) I shall touch but briefly events recorded in history. Profane authors inform us accurately of these occurrences, and besides this, a whole book of Maccabees gives us similar information, and places clearly before us what the angel here predicts. Every one who wishes to read these prophecies with profit, must make himself familiar with these books, and must try to remember the whole history. Onias the elder was a holy man; his son has been previously mentioned. (2 Maccabees 3:1.) For, with the view of escaping from snares, he set out for Egypt and built a temple, as Josephus informs us, and pretended to fulfill that passage in Isaiah which says, There shall be an altar to God in Egypt. But Onias the elder, who discharged faithfully and sacredly the office of high priest, was put to flight, and eventually put to death. Then Jason, whom he had sent to appease Antiochus, assumed the high priesthood, and betrayed the temple and the whole nation, as well as the worship of God. (2 Maccabees 4:35-37; also 7.) He afterwards met with the reward which he deserved, for he was slain, and then Menelaus succeeded him, and conciliated the favor of Antiochus. (2 Maccabees 5:9; 4:27.) The authority of the priesthood prevailed so far as to enable him to draw with him a great portion of the people. Here, then, the angel predicts how Antiochus, on approaching the city, should have deserters and apostates as His companions. The words are, He shall apply his mind to the forsakers of the holy covenant, and the sense is by no means obscure. Antiochus should not make open war against the Jews, but one faction should go forth to meet him and ingratiate themselves with him. I run through these events briefly, because when I afterwards arrive at a general summary, it will be far more convenient to elicit the general improvement. The angel says next:

<271131>Daniel 11:31-32

31. And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.

31. Et brachia ab ispso stabunt, et profanabunt sanctuarium roboris, aut virtutis, et abolebunt juge, sacrificium scilicet, et ponent abominationem quae obstupefaciet. f564

32. And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.

32. Et impie agentes contra foedus abducet in errorem blanditiis, f565 et populus intelligentes f566 Deum suum roborabuntur et facient.

 

Here the angel describes the intestine evils of the Church, and more fully explains what he touched on in the last verse. He says, The arms shall stand up for Antiochus. Some explain this of the garrison which that tyrant imposed on Jerusalem. But it is seems too far-fetched. I do not hesitate to suppose the angel to refer here to the apostates and forsakers of the Law. Arms, then, shall stand up from him, meaning, he shall not contend in his own strength, but shall rely upon the people’s assistance. Many should offer themselves in obedience to him, and thus Antiochus would find a party devoted to himself at Jerusalem, which should willingly prostitute itself to his will. He afterwards adds, They shall profane the sanctuary of strength. The angel here joins together Antiochus and these impious apostates. (2 Maccabees 5:2.) To favor him, the temple is said to be polluted, and this was fulfilled when the statue of Jupiter Olympius was erected there. The tyranny and violence of Antiochus continued long afterwards, as we shall see in its own place. He brought the statue of the Olympian Jove into the temple, for the purpose of overthrowing the worship of God, and then he introduced other corruption’s, which vitiated the purity of God’s service. He might in one moment have overthrown the whole Law, but he first tried to mingle many superstitions with God’s Law, and thus to estrange the Jews by degrees from true and sincere piety. The angel speaks of the sanctuary of power, to shew the faithful that Antiochus is not the conqueror of God, who was never deprived of his power, but continued the guardian and keeper of his temple even unto the end. He uses this epithet for the temple, to assure the pious that God had not given way to the violence of the tyrant. His authority stood untouched and untainted, although his temple was exposed to such foul pollution.

Lastly, he wished the faithful to retain by this teaching a sense of God’s unconquered power in choosing that temple for his dwelling-place, although for a time Antiochus was so insulting, and was permitted to profane it with his impious crew. This instruction urged the pious to look upon God’s power with the eye of faith, although it was then hidden from their view, and was trampled under foot by the impious in the pride of their audacity. Sorrowful indeed was the spectacle of this statue erected within the temple, for God, according to our previous statement, promised to be the defender of that sacred mountain. When the impious were raging thus insultingly, who would not have thought God to be altogether conquered and unable to defend his residence any longer? The angel then here encourages the faithful to cultivate far different thoughts from those suggested by the prospect before them. The temple, then, seemed weak and deprived of every protection, and yet with respect to God it was still a sanctuary of strength. He next adds, And they shall abolish the continual sacrifice, which really occurred; but I pass it over shortly now, as I shall have another opportunity of explaining it suitably and fully. And they shall place, or set up, that abomination which shall cause astonishment. For who would not have been astonished when he saw the temple deserted by the Almighty? For if God cared for the temple services, why did he not resist rage like this? Why did he suffer himself to be subjected to such disgraceful indignity? The angel meets such temptations as these by saying, even if the very best men are astonished at such disgrace, yet nothing happens by chance; for God had already foreseen and decreed all things. They would not have been predicted, unless God had wished to prove the people’s faith, and to exact the penalty for their ingratitude. But I cannot complete the subject to-day.

PRAYER.

Grant, Almighty God, that as we are instructed by thy Spirit and armed by thy sacred teaching, we may carry on the war bravely with open enemies and with all who boldly oppose true religion. May we also constantly despise all domestic foes and apostates, and resist them manfully. May we never be disturbed, even if various tumults should arise in thy Church. May we fix our eyes upon thee, and always expect a happier issue than appears possible at the time, until at length thou shalt fulfill thy promises. And may all events which now seem contrary to us, issue in our salvation, when thy Son our Redeemer shall appear. — Amen.


Lecture Sixty-First

We stated in the last Lecture, the seriousness of the test by which God proved the faithfulness of his people, in allowing Antiochus such unbounded liberty to pollute the Temple, and to abolish, for a time, all the sacrifices and services. He next set up in the midst of the Temple that abomination which cast down the spirits of the pious; for that prodigy could not be witnessed without the most profound astonishment. No one could suppose it possible, that God would expose his own sanctuary to such dishonor, as it was the only one which he had chosen in the whole world. It now follows, And he shall deceive the transgressors of the covenant with blandishment, but a people knowing their God will retain it firmly and practice it. Here Daniel more clearly expresses what he had previously said of the corruption and overthrow of God’s worship, as Antiochus should enticingly win over to himself a perfidious portion of those who were nominally, at, least, God’s people. He thus repeats what we observed before. These hypocrites were like the arms of Antiochus; for had he captured the city by the force of arms, still he would not have dared to offer these insults to God’s Temple, unless he had received assistance from those apostates who rejected all fear of the Almighty, and whom ambition and avarice alone had impelled to unite with that impious tyrant, who was the avowed and professed enemy of their religion. The angel, then, here confirms what he had previously said, shewing how the wicked and impious despisers of the covenant should be tools in the hand of this robber. For the first word of verse 32 is derived from [r reshegn, “to do wickedly,” and refers to that special act of sinfulness, their despising God’s covenant. This refers to those intestine enemies who had previously boasted themselves to be sons of Abraham, and who were masked by circumcision, the sign of that covenant. He does not here point out any of the mere dregs of the people, but the impious priests, Menelaus, Jason, and others like them, as the passage has already been explained. He says then, these should be deceived by the blandishments of Antiochus. He doubtless offered to the priests and to others what he thought they would value most; one he set over the Temple, another he deceived with vain and fallacious promises for a time, by distributing a variety of gifts among them. In this way he corrupted them all by his flatteries. To these the Prophet opposes the sincere worshippers of God, and the Hebrew copula ought to be understood here as implying this contrast. He had already spoken of many as deceived by vain promises, and had called them transgressors of the covenant: he now adds, But the people who know God shall strengthen themselves and shall do it. The angel means that the perfidy of those of whom he had spoken, should not prevail with the pious to lead them into the same alliance of wickedness, and to hurl them headlong into the same snares. Although such was the perfidy of these revolters, yet all who know God, says he, shall strengthen themselves.

This passage is specially worthy of notice, as experience teaches how very few stand their ground, when many fall away. The example of one often draws with it a hundred into the same rule; but the constancy of a hundred is scarcely sufficient to retain one in his position. In this case we behold the depth of our natural depravity. For we are not only moved, but shaken by the very slightest breezes, and even when God sets before us a firm resting-place, still we do not cease our vacillation. When an Apostle sets before us the examples of the saints, he says, a cloud of witnesses is ever gazing upon us, with the view of retaining us in the fear of God, and in the pure confession of our faith. (<591201>Hebrews 12:1.) But that cloud vanishes too soon from our view. Meanwhile, if any trifler whom we know to be a man of no weight, and whom we have ourselves condemned, — if such a one should decline even so little from the right way, we think such an example sufficient to excuse us. Wherefore, I had good reason for stating how this passage lays open to us our perverse and malignant disposition. We can scarcely be attracted towards God by a multiplicity of appliances, but we are easily dragged towards the devil to our own destruction. Hence we ought diligently to meditate upon this passage, and continually to reflect upon the Prophet’s language. Although apostates may be deceived by flatteries and reject God’s worship, betray the Church and throw off all semblance of piety, yet all the pious shall stand fast in the faith. Let no one therefore quote the example of the thoughtless to excuse his fault, if he trait are the perfidious, the double-minded, and the hypocritical. The angel here depicts to us a picture of the Church, by shewing how many should prove backsliders; but this levity, inconsistency, and perfidy ought never to be an obstacle to the foes of God to impede their progress in faith and piety.

We should also notice the epithet which designates the pious. They are called a people knowing their God. The people may be supposed to mean the vulgar, but this is forced. It may also be simply opposed to the profane Gentiles; but I think there is here an implied contrast between the true and genuine sons of Abraham, and the false Israelites, who boasted themselves to be members of the Church when they had nothing but the empty title. For in the prophets as in the writings of Moses, the name “people” is often used in a favorable sense for that elect nation which God had adopted as peculiarly his own. All the Israelites who were descendants of Abraham after the flesh, used to boast with much vanity in their being the elect people, and thus the word was ever on their lips. Wherefore the Prophet reproves the foolish boasting of those who were a. accustomed to shelter themselves under the name of God, and without having anything real in themselves. Hence the people, meaning God’s people, shall strengthen themselves; but, by way of correcting any erroneous view, he adds, who shall know God, as in the 73d Psalm, (<197301>Psalm 73:1) How good is the God of Israel to those who are upright in heart! Here the Prophet restricts the name of Israel to the elect sons of Abraham who cultivate piety seriously and heartily, as it had become a prevalent habit carelessly to misuse this name of God. So here, the people who shall know their God, means his true people — those whom he acknowledges as his elect. The angel here makes a distinction between the pious sons of Abraham and the pious worshippers of God. It is worthy of careful observation, that the angel assigns their knowledge of God as the cause and foundation of their constancy. How then, we may ask, does it come to pass, that some few are left, when the apostates thus prostitute themselves? Because their knowledge of God shall prevail, and enable them to overcome these attacks, and bravely to repel them, and to become superior to any temptations. We see, then, the source whence our own fortitude is derived — the knowledge of God. This acknowledgment is no vain and cold imagination, but springs from that faith which spreads its living root in our hearts. Hence it follows, we do not really acknowledge God, unless we boldly contend when we are put to the test, and remain firm and stable, although Satan endeavors, by various machinations, to weaken our faithfulness. And unless we persist in that firmness which is here described, it is quite clear, that God has never been truly and really acknowledged by us. The relation too is not without its weight in the phrase, the people who shall know their God. Here is a silent reproof, since God revealed himself to the Israelites as far as was sufficient to retain their allegiance. No one, therefore, could offer any excuse without being guilty of impiety, sacrilege, and perfidy, after being so fully instructed by the Law and the prophets. This instruction must now be applied to our own times.

We observe in these days how many fall off from the Church. Persecution sifts all those who profess to belong to Christ, and thus many are winnowed like chaff, and but a small portion remain steadfast. Their backsliding ought not to overthrow our faithfulness when they so carelessly forsake all piety, either through being enticed by the allurements of Satan, or deceived by the conduct of the ungodly. Let us bear in mind the assertion of the angel, and thus the true knowledge of God will reign supreme in our hearts, and we shall still proceed in the course we have pursued. And to shew how consistently the faithful progress in the teaching of the Law and the Gospel, he says, they shall strengthen themselves and shall do it. Here the word “to do” is taken in the sense of to “execute“exploiter,” as we say in France; meaning, they shall summon their courage to discharge their duty; for the word “to do,” or “to execute,” is referred to the vocation of the pious; they should not be sluggish or slothful in the discharge of their duty, says the Prophet, but should gather courage for these contests. And whence? from the acknowledgment of God. We observe, too, that faith is no idle feeling or cold imagination, lying suffocated in our minds, but an energizing principle. For we may say that from faith springs strength, and from strength execution, and thus we avoid all slothfulness hi our calling. It follows —

<271133>Daniel 11:33-34

33. And they that understand among the people shall instruct many; yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.

33. Et intelligentes populi docebunt multos, et cadent in gladio, et flamma, et exilio, vel, captivitate, et direptione, diebus multis.

34. Now, when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries.

34. Et in cadendo, f567 juvabuntur auxilio f568 modico: et adjungent se illis multi in blanditiis.

 

With reference to the words, they mean, those who shall be taught among the people shall make many understand. Some take the first word of the verse transitively, as “those who shall instruct,” but this is wrong; and they shew their ignorance by supposing the relative pronoun understood before the next verb, as if it were, “and those who shall teach.” The simple sense is, “Those who shall be wise among the people shall teach many.” Here the Prophet, under the angel’s guidance, predicts the multitude of apostates as well as the existence of some of an opposite character, who should retain the people within the pure worship and fear of God. Without doubt, he speaks specially of the priests. The greater part were defaulters, and they implicated the foolish vulgar in their wickedness. We observe similar effects at this day in the Papacy, as they corrupt the whole world by their sacrifices. At that time the priests laid snares for the people, and drew them almost all with them into the same impiety. The angel here allows the existence of some wise men among the people; I do not restrict this entirely to the priests, although I suppose the angel to begin with them. A small portion of them taught the truth, and God joined a party with them, but yet the angel predicts the existence of another remnant. Yet afterwards, in the second place, he embraces others who were truly proficient in God’s law, and although the obligations of the priesthood did not bind them, yet they labored to recall the wandering into the way of salvation. He says, then, Whosoever should be skillful should teach many. There is also here a tacit contrast between the honest servants of God and those fictitious teachers who pride themselves on their titles; as we observe an instance of this in these days in the Papacy. For bishops and cardinals, abbots and pretenders of this kind, strut about with insolence and stupefy the miserable vulgar. What? do not we represent the Church? Is not judgment with us, as well as the interpretation of the Law and of Scripture? As, therefore, in these times these impostors arrogate to themselves all knowledge and wish to be thought equal to the angels, so we know it came to pass among the ancient people. The Prophet, therefore, here chastises that foolish confidence by saying, Those who shall be understanding among the people; meaning, the truly wise. As if he had said, those masked hypocrites acquire reputation for themselves, but without the slightest reason. God considers those only intelligent who remain in the pure doctrine of his Law, and practice piety with simplicity and sincerity. Hence he calls these, the intelligent among the people. He repeats the word “people,” in the same sense as before, implying that all who use this name are not true Israelites before God, as true knowledge of him is required. What kind of knowledge or skill is meant, we easily ascertain from the next verse. For all knowledge which men think they possess without this acquaintance with God, is nothing but vanity. These, therefore, shall teach many. This prediction of the angel not only asserts the existence of some among the people who should remain constant amidst such grievous assaults, and should preserve the integrity of their faith, but says they should be the directors of others; as if he had said, God will grant to each of his elect, not only the power of a bold resistance and of preserving himself pure and uncontaminated amidst every corruption, but at the same time he will render these good men the supporters of others, either in preventing their decline, or if they have fallen off, in bringing them back into the right path.

Lastly, the angel signifies how small a seed God should preserve in his Church as the teachers and rulers of others, though but few in number; as Isaiah says, God shall consume his people, but that consumption should leave some remnant, and then it shall flow forth. (<231022>Isaiah 10:22.) The sentiment of this passage is the same; even if many should degenerate and depart from the faith, and this spirit should extend to the whole people, yet some few should stand firm perhaps ten in a thousand — and these should be God’s ministers in gathering together a new Church; and thus the land which was formerly sterile, should profit by this irrigation and produce new seed. Those, therefore, who shall be wise among the people shall teach many. While the angel is here predicting the future, we ought to take to ourselves this admonition: the more each of us becomes a proficient in the faith, the more he ought to exert his utmost endeavors to teach his rude and ignorant neighbors according to this exhortation of the angel. God does not stretch forth his hand to us to lead each of us to follow his own course, but to assist others and to advance their spiritual progress. We read therefore here, a condemnation of the slothfulness of those on whom God has bestowed much knowledge and faith, when they fail to use the trust committed to them for the edification of their brethren. This prediction of the angel ought to influence each of us, as a law and rule, to seek the profit of his brethren according to the measure of his intelligence. The angel adds, — these should not be teachers of shadows, who prescribe men’s duty at their ease, and dispute without inconvenience, danger, or personal trouble, about what is right in itself and pleasing to God, but they should be strenuous warriors for the truth. Here, therefore, the angel joins his instruction with fortitude, as by this measure it would overcome all dangers, anxieties, and terrors. The passage becomes, in this way, most useful to us in these days, if we only learn to reflect upon what God delivers to us by his angel and his prophet. In conclusion then, the angel demonstrates how God never approves of any teachers as true and legitimate, unless they deliver their message as if ready to defend it, and prepared to seal it with their blood whenever it shall be necessary. We must read the two clauses together, Those who teach many the worship of God shall fall by the sword and the flame; meaning, they would rather fall or perish a hundred times by the sword and the flame than desist from their office of teaching. Besides, the angel here mentions the various kinds of death, for the sake of exhortation; for, had he mentioned only the sword, he would not have fully expressed the usefulness of this instruction. Whatever teachers God sets over his Church, they are not fully proved in the discharge of their duty by overcoming a single form of temptation, but they must contend with foes on the right hand and on the left, and must not allow the variety of their perils to weaken either their constancy or their fortitude. If the sword threaten them on one side, and fire on the other, — if they must suffer the spoiling of their goods and banishment from home, nevertheless these teachers must persevere in their course. We observe, then, the multiplicity of conflicts here enumerated by the angel, to teach us the strength of the grace of the Spirit in supporting the teachers and rulers of the Church, and in preventing them from yielding to any temptations while contending even with the sword, and fire, and exile, and the spoiling of their goods.

He adds, And that too for many days. This circumstance possesses great weight, as we observe many endure for a time with a manly and intrepid courage, who afterwards languish, and then vanish away and become utterly unlike their former selves. The angel, however, here promises to those who should be sustained by the Spirit of God an invincible constancy. They should gather fresh courage for fresh conflicts, not only for a single day, or month, or year, but it should never fail them. He adds next, And when they shall fall, or shall have fallen, they shall be strengthened, or assisted, with a small help. Without the slightest doubt, the angel here speaks of the Maccabees, by whose assistance the faithful were gathered together and completely separated from those apostates who had betrayed God’s temple and worship. He calls the help small, and truly it was so. For what could the Maccabees do to resist Antiochus? The powerful influence of this king is well known; and what was Judea when compared with Syria? The Jews indeed had destroyed their own power; we have already seen how they violated treaties, and corrupted the majority of their own people. there was neither skill, nor plan, nor concert among them. The help, then, was small, which God sent them. But then the angel shews how God would afford succor to his people when in distress, and allow them some alleviation from the cruelty of the tyrant.

He adds next, Many shall join themselves to them by flatteries. Even from this small number the angel cuts off the greater part, and informs them of the miserable condition of the Church, because very few should dare to oppose the madness of the tyrant, and out of these few many should be hypocrites. The whole of this chapter must be interpreted of Antiochus, and yet doubtless God wishes to promote our improvement by these prophecies. They belong equally to us; for as God governs his Church in a variety of ways, so he always sustains it under its various crosses and trials.

Besides this, the old enemy the devil, who formerly opposed the Church, is equally troublesome to us. He assails us partly by enemies without and partly by enemies within. Such teaching as this was useful, not only to the ancients, but, to us also in the present day. First of all, the angel predicts the assistance to be received by the faithful as small. Let us learn, then, when God wishes to succor and to help us, — that he does not always exert the fullness of his power. He does not thunder from heaven and overthrow our enemies by the first stroke of his lightning; but he enables us to contend successfully with our cross, and thus we are far separated from the reprobate by our firmness in resistance. Again, from the second clause we must notice the absolute certainty of many hypocrites being found mingled with the souls of God, and when God purges his Church, but a small portion will remain sincere, just as in these days the very counterpart of this prophecy is exhibited before our eyes. The whole Papacy is called the Church of God; we are but few in number, and yet what a mixture exists even among us? How many in these days profess attachment to the Gospel, in whom there is nothing either solid or sincere! If God should search narrowly into small Churches, still among these few, some would be found deceivers. It never has been otherwise, or shall be different. until the end of the world. Here, then, we are admonished to desire, as far as lies in our power, the purity of the Church, and to avoid all impurity, because, in desiring auxiliaries too eagerly on the pressure of any urgent necessity, we shall be certain to become sprinkled with many stains which may ultimately cover us with confusion. The angel doubtless here reproves a fault in the conduct of the Maccabees. Although God stirred them up to afford some consolation to his Church, their proceedings are not to be approved; for it does not follow that all their actions were praiseworthy because their cause was pious and holy. But I must defer this subject till to-morrow.

PRAYER.

Grant, Almighty God, as at this day thou dost try the faith of thy people by many tests, that they may obtain strength from the unconquered fortitude of thy Holy Spirit. May we constantly march under thy standard, even to the end, and never succumb to any temptation. May we there join intelligence with zeal in building up thy Church: as each of us is endowed with superior gifts, so may he strive for the edification of his brethren with greater boldness, manliness, and fervor, while he endeavors to add numbers to the cause. And should the number of those who are professed members of thy Church diminish, yet may some seed always remain, until abundant produce shall flow forth from it, and such fruitfulness arise as shall cause thy name to be glorified throughout the whole world, in Jesus Christ our Lord. — Amen.


Lecture Sixty-Second

We began yesterday to explain what the angel said about the future persecution of the Church, and its subsequent consolation. He first shewed how all the intelligent among the people should be subject to the cruelty of their enemies, in consequence of their manly perseverance in teaching others. We have shewn how inefficient those teachers whom God has set over his Church would be, if they discharged their duties at ease and in the shade, and were unprepared to undergo all contests, and intrepidly to expose their lives to a variety of dangers. This, then, is a living and efficacious method of touching, when we do not cease to discharge our duties in the midst of sword and flame. But, on the other hand, we must notice how much this instruction is sought for when these fatal conflicts arise. Many in these days listen to our instruction concerning Christ; only they must continue without injury or annoyance. We observe many greedily drinking in the evangelical doctrines; but yet when anything disperses the crowd they flee immediately, and with as little consideration as when they first joined the assembly. That conduct which we daily observe was equally common in former times. Clearly enough this fault has been rampant throughout all ages, and it is innate in men not only to escape the cross and all things vexatious, but especially to disclose their own infirmities, because they are unwilling to undergo any danger for the worship of God and the free confession of the truth. This passage, then, must be noticed, since the Prophet not only exhorts the learned and the wise to instruct others, but he prescribes a rule for the infirm and unlearned, urging them to strengthen theme-selves against all temptations, when they see all things in confusion, and Satan plotting for the complete annihilation of piety. As this is the angel’s language, we must diligently notice the circumstances of the times, for he was not here instituting a peaceful school, and discoursing like philosophers at their ease concerning virtue without any practical contest; but he enforces the duty of both learning and teaching, even if a variety of deaths should be placed before our eyes. He speaks next, as I have lately stated, the language of consolation. God shews how he would afford help to his elect, although it might possibly seem of no consequence to them. For he dwells on the smallness of the assistancewhich literally happened. Without doubt the angel referred to Mattathias and his sons, usually called the Maccabees. (1 Maccabees 2:1.) A restriction is put upon that help by an allusion to the members who should prove hypocritical out of that small band. We are fully aware how the Church would be reduced in its extent, for all would not prove sound in the faith, but the greater part would be drawn aside by those fallacies which the angel here calls blandishments. This was a very grievous trial to the faithful when they perceived their own fewness and weakness in the face of their enemies. Besides, they dared not trust those allies who had pledged their faith to them and made wonderful promises, since many were deceived by these flatteries, and abandoned the cause through want of sincerity of mind.

We have already adverted to the usefulness of such instruction for our own times.; for we ought to apply it personally to ourselves, as our circumstances are similar to those of the ancients. Out of the great multitude of those who wish to be esteemed Christians, we observe how very few retain the pure and uncorrupted worship of God. The Papists treat their own community, which is defiled with filth of all kinds, as the only Church; there piety is utterly subverted or else contaminated with the multitude of superstitions. And even in that small company which has withdrawn itself from the Papal idolatries, the greater part is full of perfidy and deceit. They pretend to remarkable zeal, but if you thoroughly examine them, you will find them full of deception. For if God should probe his Church to the quick, as he did some years ago in Germany, and as he may do shortly in our own case, in all these serious conflicts, and amidst these persecutions, many will boast in the bravery of their championship, and yet their zeal will quickly ooze away. When the Lord, therefore, exercises us by methods similar to those by which he proved the ancient Church, this ins6ruetion ought always to occur to our remembrance, lest our minds should grow dull and languid.

This passage may lead us to inquire whether the angel approved of all the exploits of the Maccabees. We may reply to the question in two opposite ways. First of all, if any one persists in contending from the angel’s words for God’s approval of every action of the Maccabees, this view is by no means correct. God might use the Maccabees in succoring the wretched Israelites, and yet it does not follow that they conducted the good cause properly and lawfully. It very often occurs, when the faithful offer their services to God, and have one object set before them, that they fail either through inconsiderate zeal, or through partial ignorance. Whether we take this view or not, our object is often good when our manner of proceeding is objectionable. And thus it was with the Maccabees; God, doubtless, stirred up Mattathias to collect the dispersed remnant of the people, to restore his worship, and to purge his temple from the abominations which Antiochus had set up. Yet in the troublous times which occurred, his sons, doubtless, failed in many points of duty. The cause which they undertook was just, while particular actions of theirs cannot be approved by us. It now follows —

<271135>Daniel 11:35

35. And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.

35. Et ex intelligentibus cadent ad probandum f569 in ipsis, f570 et mundandos, f571 et dealbandos usque ad tempus finis, id est, finitum, quoniam adhuc usque ad praefixum tempus.

 

The angel pursues the same sentiment as before shewing us how the children of God, in their eagerness to defend the cause of piety, should be subject to many grievous persecutions. Some of the learned shall fall; meaning, that calamity shall not be for a single moment only; for those who earnestly desired to defend the true worship of God should perish by the sword, and by fire, and by other methods of destruction, and their successors, too, should suffer the same calamities. The phrase, the learned should fall, implies the perishing of the very flower of the Church. There will always be much refuse among a people, and the greater part of it flies off and revolts when their religion requires of them the sacrifice of their life. A few remain, here called intelligent, who, as we stated yesterday, are not wise after the flesh. Making provision for the flesh, implies taking care of themselves, and of their own interests, running no risks, and avoiding all troubles; while those are called intelligent, who, forgetful of their own lives, offer themselves in sacrifice to God. They do not hesitate to incur universal hatred, and are prepared to meet death with fortitude. The angel, therefore, predicts the perishing of the flower of the Church. For who could have expected the name of God to have existed upon earth when all His sincere worshippers were thus murdered with impunity? The severity of the despotism of Antiochus is notorious, no one dared to utter a word, all the sacred books were burnt, and he thought the worship of God entirely abolished. Women with their children were promiscuously seized for burning, and the satellites of this tyrant did not spare the mothers with infants hanging on their breasts. (1 Maccabees 1.) During the progress of such atrocious cruelty, who would not have thought the whole seed of God to have been extinct? But the angel here shews the true result to have been different, namely, that the sons of God should be purged, cleansed, and whitened. He signifies that all events should not prove so destructive, but should rather promote their salvation. This passage unfolds to us the nature of true prudence in the sight of God; for we ought to be prepared for death, rather than be turned aside from the free and ingenuous profession of the heavenly doctrine, and from the true worship of God. For this necessity is imposed on the sons of God — to fall either by the sword or by fire, and to suffer the spoiling of their goods, and banishment from their homes. The angel points out from the result how persecutions which seem to issue in the destruction of the Church, are yet profitable and salutary to the sons of God, as This is the method of their being purified, and cleansed, and whitened. But we must always remember how some defiling dregs, which require clearing out, remain in the elect, nay, even among the holy Martyrs. The angel does not here treat of hypocrites, or of ordinary believers, but of whatever is most conspicuous and most perfect in the Church, and yet asserts their need of purification. None, therefore, he concludes, possess such sanctity and purity as to prevent the remnant of some pollution which requires to be removed. Hence it becomes necessary for them to pass through the furnace, and to be purified like gold and silver. This is extended to all God’s martyrs.

This reminds us of the great folly of the Papists, in imagining the merits of saints to be transferred to us, as if they had more than they required for themselves. Indulgences, as they call them, depend upon this error, according to the following reasoning, — had Peter lived to the ordinary period of human life, he would have proved faithful to the end, and then would have merited the crown of the heavenly kingdom; but when he went beyond this, and poured out his blood in martyrdom, some merits were superabundant; these ought not to be lost, and hence the blood of Peter and Paul profit us at this day for the remission of sins. This is the Papal theology, and these miserable sophists are not ashamed of these gross blasphemies, while they vomit forth such foul sacrilege. But the angel’s teaching is far different; — the martyrs themselves are benefited by meeting death for their adherence to the truth, because God purges, and cleanses, and refines, and whitens them. The angel would not have said this except some admixture of dross still defiled the purity of the saints. But this doctrine ought to be more than enough to animate us to undergo all dangers, when we see ourselves stained and polluted with hidden dross; besides this, we ought certainly to determine that death would be profitable in this sense, as God will then purge us from those vices by which we are both infected and defiled. Whence the value of the repetition here; the angel does not simply say to purge them, but adds, to cleanse and whiten them. Whatever holiness may shine forth in the best of men, yet many stains and much defilement he concealed within them; and thus in consequence of their many failings, persecution was always useful to them.

The angel mitigates whatever might seem exceedingly bitter, by saying, until the time of an end, meaning, a fixed and definite time. These words imply the merciful character of God, in not urging his people beyond their strength, as Paul also states his faithfulness in granting them a happy issue out of their trials, and in not pressing’ us beyond the measure of that strength and fortitude which he has conferred upon us. (<461013>1 Corinthians 10:13.) The angel predicts an end to these evils, and confirms this opinion by saying, even to a determined time. In the last clause he signified the temporary nature of the persecutions of which he had spoken; for they should not cease directly, nor yet for two or three years. By the words, as yet even to a time determined, he urges the sons of God to prepare themselves for new contests, as they should not reach the goal for the space of a year. But if God wished to humble them for three, or ten, or a hundred years, they should not despond, but wait for the time divinely predetermined, without depending on their own will. This is the substance of the instruction conveyed. It now follows:

<271136>Daniel 11:36

36. And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done.

36. Et faciet secundum voluntatem suam, vel, libidinem, rex: et extollet se, et magnificabit se supra omnem Deum, et contra Deum deorum loquetur mirabilia, et prospere aget usque ad consummationem irae, quoniam decisio facta est, vel decisa est, nempe consumptio.

 

This passage is very obscure, and has consequently been explained in very opposite ways by interpreters. And whatever is obscure, is usually doubtful, and there would be little utility and no termination, if I were to narrate the opinions of them all. I shall therefore follow another method, and omitting all superfluous labor, I shall simply inquire the angel’s meaning. I must, however, refer briefly to opinions received by the consent of the majority, because they occupy the minds of many, and thus close the door to the correct interpretation. The Jews, for instance, are not agreed among themselves, and their difference of opinion only serves to produce and perpetuate darkness, rather than to diffuse the clearness of light. Some explain it of Antiochus, and others of the Romans, but in a manner different to that which I shall afterwards state. The Christian expositors present much variety, but the greater number incline towards Antichrist as fulfilling the prophecy. Others, again, use greater moderation by supposing Antichrist to be here obliquely hinted at, while they do not exclude Antiochus as the type and image of Antichrist. This last opinion has great probability, but. I do not approve of it, and can easily refute it. Antiochus did not long survive the pollution of the Temple, and then the following events by no means suit the occurrences of this time. Nor can his sons be fairly substituted in his place, and hence we must pass on to some other king, distinct from Antiochus and his heirs. As I have already stated, some of the Rabbis explain this of the Romans, but without judgment, for they first apply the passage to Vespasian, and Titus his son, and then extend it to the present times, which is utterly without reason, as they chatter foolishly, according to their usual custom. Those who explain it of Antichrist, have some color of reason for their view, but there is no soundness in their conclusion, and we shall perceive this better in the progress of our exposition. We must now discover what king the angel here designates. First of all, I apply it entirely to the Roman Empire, but I do not f572 consider it to begin at the reign of the Caesars, for this would be unsuitable and out of date, as we shall see. By the word “king” I do not think a single person indicated, but an empire, whatever be its government, whether by a senate, or by consuls, or by proconsuls. This need not appear either harsh or absurd, as the Prophet had previously discussed the four monarchies, and when treating of the Romans he calls their power a kingdom, as if they had but a single ruler over them. And when he spoke of the Persian monarchy, he did not refer to a single ruler, but included them all, from Cyrus to the last Darius, who was conquered by Alexander. This method of speech is already very familiar to us, as the word “king” often means “kingdom.” The angel, then, when saying, a king shall do anything, does not allude to Antiochus, for all history refutes this. Again, he does not mean any single individual, for where shall we find one who exalted himself against all gods? who oppressed God’s Church, and fixed his palace between two seas, and seized upon the whole East? The Romans alone did this. I intend to shew more clearly to-morrow how beautifully and appositely everything related by the angel applies to the Roman empire; and if anything should appear either obscure or doubtful, a continued interpretation will bring it to light and confirm it.

We lay this down at once; the angel did not prophesy of Antiochus, or any single monarch, but of a new empire, meaning, the Roman. We have the reason at hand why the angel passes directly from Antiochus to the Romans. God desired to support the spirits of the pious, lest they should be overwhelmed by the number and weight of the massacres which awaited them and the whole Church even to the advent of Christ. It was not sufficient to predict the occurrences under the tyranny of Antiochus; for after his time, the Jewish religion was more and more injured, not only by foreign enemies, but by their own priesthood. Nothing remained unpolluted, since their avarice and ambition had arrived at such a pitch, that they trod under foot the whole glory of God, and the law itself. The faithful required to be fortified against such numerous temptations, until Christ came, and then God renewed the condition of his Church. The time, therefore, which intervened between the Maccabees and the manifestation of Christ ought not to be omitted. The reason is now clear enough why the angel passes at once from Antiochus to the Romans.

We must next ascertain how the Romans became connected with the elect people of God. Had their dominion been limited to Europe alone, the allusion to them would have been useless and out of place. But from the period of the kings of Syria being oppressed by many and constant devastation’s in war, both at home and abroad, they were unable to injure the Jews as they had previously done; then new troubles sprang up through the Romans. We know, indeed, when many of the kings of Syria were indulging in arrogance, how the Romans interposed their authority, and that, too, with bad faith, for the purpose of subjecting the east to themselves. Then when Attalus made the Roman people his heir, the whole of Asia Minor became absorbed by them. They became masters of Syria by the will of this foolish king, who defrauded his legal heirs, thinking by this conduct to acquire some regard for his memory after his death. From that period, when the Romans first acquired a taste of the wealth of these regions, they never failed to find some cause for warfare. At length Pompey subdued Syria, and Lucullus, who had previously carried on war with Mithridates, restored the kingdom to Tigranes. Pompey, as I have already remarked, subjected Syria to the Romans. He left, indeed, the Temple untouched, but we may conjecture the cruelty which he exercised towards the Jews by the ordinary practice of this people. The clemency of the Romans towards the nations which they subdued is notorious enough. After Crassus, the most rapacious of all men, had heard much of the wealth of the Jews, he desired that province as his own. We know, too, how Pompey and Caesar, while they were friends, partitioned the whole world among themselves. Gaul and Italy were assigned entirely to Caesar; Pompey obtained Spain, and part of Africa and Sicily; while Crassus obtained Syria and the regions of the east, where he miserably perished, and his head, filled with gold, was Carried about in mockery from place to place. A second calamity occurred during that incursion of Crassus, and from this time the Jews were harassed by many and continual wars. Before this period, they had entered into an alliance with the Romans, as we are informed by the books of the Maccabees, as well as by profane writers. Therefore, when they granted liberty to the Jews, (1 Maccabees 8, and 14) it; was said f573 they were generous at the expense of others. This was their ordinary and usual practice; at first they received with friendship all who sought their alliance by treaty, and then they treated them with the utmost cruelty. The wretched Jews were treated in this way. The angel then alludes to them first, and afterwards speaks of Antiochus. All these points, thus briefly mentioned, we must bear in mind, to enable us to understand the context, and to shew the impossibility of interpreting the prophecy otherwise than of the Romans.

I now proceed to the words, The king shall do according to his will. I have stated that we need not restrict this expression to a single person, as the angel prophesies of the continued course of the Roman monarchy. He shall raise himself and magnify himself, says he, above every god. This will be explained by and bye, where the king is said to be a despiser of all deities. But with reference to the present passage, although impiety and contempt of God spread throughout the whole world, we know how peculiarly this may be said of the Romans, because their pride led them to pass an opinion upon the right of each deity to be worshipped. And, therefore, the angel will use an epithet for God, meaning fortitude’s and munitions, yz[m megnezim as in <271138>Daniel 11:38. That passage, I shall show you to-morrow, has been badly explained; for interpreters, as we shall discover, are utterly “at sea” as to its meaning. f574 But here the angel, by attributing contempt of the one God and of all deities to the Romans, implies their intense pride and haughtiness, in which they surpassed other profane nations. And, truly, they did not preserve even a superstitious fear of God; and while they vauntingly paraded the superior piety of both their ancestors and themselves, yet, an accurate perusal of their writings will disclose what they really thought. They made a laughingstock of all divinities, and ridiculed the very name and appearance of piety, and used it only for the purpose of retaining their subjects in obedience. The angel then says most truly of his empire, it shall magnify itself against all deities; and it shall speak wonderful things against the God of gods, by which the Jewish religion is intended. For before they had passed into Asia Minor, and penetrated beyond Mount Taurus, they were ignorant of the law of God, and had never heard of the name of Moses. They then began to take notice of the worship of some peculiar god by that nation, and of the form of their piety being distinct from that of all other people. From the period of the knowledge of the peculiarities of the Jewish religion being spread among the Romans, they began to vomit forth their blasphemies against the God of gods. We need not gather together the proof of this from their histories; but Cicero in his oration for Flaccus, (section. 28,) tears most contemptuously to pieces the name of the true God; and that impure slanderer — for he deserves the name — so blurts out his calumnies, as if the God who had revealed himself to His elect people by his law, was unworthy of being reckoned with Venus or Bacchus, or their other idols. Lastly, he treats the numerous massacres to which the Jews were exposed, as a proof of their religion being hated by all the deities; and this he thinks ought to be a sufficient sign of the detestable character of their religion. The angel then has every reason to declare the Romans puffed up with pride and haughtiness, as they did not hesitate to treat the name of the true God with such marked contempt.

He shall utter, says he, remarkable things against the God of gods. The angel seems to refer to a single individual, but we have stated his reference to be to this empire. He adds next, And he shall prosper until the consumption, or completion, or consummation of the indignation, since the determination has been made. Here also the angel treats of a long succession and series of victories, which prevent the application of the passage to Antiochus. For he died immediately after he had spoiled the Temple; all his offspring perished by each other’s hands; and the Romans, to their great disgrace, acquired possession of Syria and that portion of the East. We must necessarily explain this of the Romans, as they notoriously prospered in their wars, especially on the continent of Asia. And if they were sometimes in difficulties, as we shall see to-morrow when treating the words which the angel will then use, they soon recovered their usual success. The angel here says, This king shall prosper till the end of the indignation; meaning, until God should punish the hypocrites, and thus humble his Church. I refer this to God, as I shall explain more at length tomorrow.

PRAYER.

Grant, Almighty God, as in these days the affairs of the world are in a state of disturbance, and as wherever we turn our eyes we see nothing but horrible confusion: Grant, I pray, that we may be attentive to thy teaching. May we never wander after our own imaginations, never be drawn aside by any cares, and never turn aside from our stated course. May we remain fixed in thy word, always seeking thee and always relying on thy providence. May we never hesitate concerning our safety, as thou hast undertaken to be the guardian of our salvation, but ever call upon thee in the name of thine only-begotten Son. — Amen.


Lecture Sixty-Third

We yesterday commenced an explanation of the prophecy, in which the angel begins to treat of the Roman Empire. I then shewed the impossibility of applying any other exposition to the passage, as it would have been absurd to pass by the point most necessary to be known. At the very beginning, we stated that God did not inform Daniel of other occurrences for the purpose of pandering to the foolish and vain curiosity of the many, but to fortify his servants, and to prevent their falling away in the midst of these most grievous contests. But after the death of Antiochus, we know by what various and grievous machinations Satan had endeavored to overthrow the faith of all the pious. For this reason their courage required propping up. If the whole of this period had been passed over in silence, God would have appeared to have neglected his servants. Therefore either our yesterday’s subject of comment would have been useless, or else this clause ought to be added, lest the prophecy should appear either defective or mutilated. And we previously observed, while the angel was predicting future changes, there was no omission of the Roman Empire, which is again introduced here. Let us remember, then, that the angel is not now speaking of Antiochus, nor does he make a leap forwards to Antichrist, as some think, but he means a perpetual series. Thus the faithful would be prepared for all assaults which might be made upon their faith, if this rampart had not been interposed. The remainder of the verse now remains to be explained, Even to the end of the wrath, because the decision has been made. The angel had narrated the perverseness of this king in not sparing the living God, but in darting his calumnies against him. He now adds, He shall prosper even to the end of the wrath. The angel doubtless here meets the next trial which might utterly overwhelm the faithful, unless they hoped for some termination to it. By wrath he does not mean the rage of those who were sent as proconsuls into Asia and the East, or even the bitterness and rigor of the Roman people and Senate, but the word refers to God. We must remember, then, what I have previously impressed, namely, the sons of God are called upon to examine their faults, to humble themselves before God, without either murmuring or complaining when chastised by his rods. We know how impatient human nature is in bearing adversity, and how grudgingly men submit to the cross, not only stubbornly refusing it, but openly rebelling against God. Hence those who are oppressed by his hand are always outrageous, unless he displays himself as their judge. The angel then here presents us with a reason why God did not rashly expose his Church to the lust of the impious; he only wished to exact the punishment due to their sins; and judgment ought always to begin at the house of God, as we learn from another prophet. (<231012>Isaiah 10:12; <242529>Jeremiah 25:29; <600417>1 Peter 4:17.)

The conclusion, then, the angel, in the first place, exhorts the pious to repentance, and shews them how deservedly God laid his hand upon them, because it was absolutely necessary. He then mitigates what would otherwise have been too severe, by adding, till the end, or completion. The word signifies both consumption and end, but it here means end, or completion. The explanation next follows, since the determination, or decision, has been made, says he. This means, God will not pursue his children to extremities without moderation, but will bring their punishment to an end after they have been humbled. As we read in the 40th chapter of Isaiah, the time of their warfare was completed, when God pitied his Church, and freed it from the tyranny of its enemies. (<234002>Isaiah 40:2.) Isaiah there speaks in the person of God; the Church had received double, meaning, sufficient punishment had been exacted. It almost implies his being displeased with himself for having been too severe against his Church, as we are familiar with the indulgence with which he usually treated his children. He says, then, in this passage, Even to the end of the wrath; meaning, the punishment should be but temporary, as God had prescribed a certain termination which should put an end to all their troubles and anxieties. It follows: —

<271137>Daniel 11:37

37. Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.

37. Et ad deos patrum suorum non attendet, et ad desiderium, vel, amorem, mulierum, et ad ullum Deum non attendet, quia super omne, super omnia, sese magnificabit.

 

I do not wonder at those who explain this prophecy of Antiochus, experiencing some trouble with these words; for they cannot satisfy themselves, because this prediction of the angel’s was never accomplished by Antiochus, who did neither neglect all deities nor the god of his fathers. Then, with regard to the love of women, this will not suit this person. But it is easy to prove by other reasons already mentioned, the absence of all allusion here to Antiochus. Some refer this prophecy to the Pope and to Mohammed, and the phrase, the love of women, seems to give probability to this view. For Mohammed allowed to men the brutal liberty of chastising their wives, and thus he corrupted that conjugal love and fidelity which binds the husband to the wife. Unless every man is content with a single wife, there can be no love, because there can be no conjugal happiness whenever rivalry exists between the inferior wives. As, therefore, Mohammed allowed full scope to various lusts, by permitting a man to have a number of wives, this seems like an explanation of his being inattentive to the love of women. Those who think the Pope to be intended here remind us of their enforcing celibacy, by means of which the honor of marriage is trodden under foot. We know with what foulness the Roman Pontiffs bark when marriage is hinted to them, as we may see in the decrees of Pope Siricius, in the seventh chapter of the first volume of the Councils. f575 They quote the passage, Those who are in the flesh cannot please God; and thus compare marriage with fornication, thereby disgracefully and reproachfully throwing scorn upon an ordinance sanctioned by God. We observe, then, some slight correspondence, but the remaining points will not suit this idea. Some assert that as Mohammed invented a new form of religion, so did the Pope; true indeed, but neither of them are intended here, and the reason is, because God wished to sustain the spirits of his people until the first coming of Christ. Hence he predicts by his angel the sufferings to be endured by the Church until Christ was manifest in the flesh. We must now come to the Romans, of whom we began to explain the passage.

The angel says, The king shall pay no regard to the gods of his fathers. The application of this clause is at first sight obscure; but if we come to reflect upon the outrageous pride and barbarity of the Romans, we shall no longer doubt the meaning of the Prophets words. The angel states two circumstances; this king should be a despiser of all deities, and yet he should worship one god, while the singular and magnificent pomp displayed should exceed all common practices. These two points, so apparently opposite, were found united in the Romans. Our explanation will appear clearer by adding the following verses,

<271138>Daniel 11:38-39

38. But in his estate shall he honor the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honor with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant desirable things.

38. Et Deum fortitudinum, vel, munitionum, in loco suo honorabit: et Deum quem non cognoverunt patres ejus honorabit cum auro, et argento, et lapide pretioso, et desiderabilibus, f576 hoc est, rebus omnibus pretiosis.

39. Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain.

39. Et faciet adversus munitiones fortitudinum cum Deo alieno, quem agnoverit, multiplicabit gloriam, et dominari faciet eos in multis, et terram dividet pretio.

 

As I have already hinted, at the first glance these statements seem opposed to each other; the king of whom we are now treating shall despise all deities, and yet shall worship a certain god in no ordinary way. This agrees very well with the Romans, if we study their dispositions and manners. As they treated the worship of their deities simply as a matter of business, they were evidently destitute of any perception of the divinity, and were only pretenders to religion. Although other profane nations groped their way in darkness, yet they offered a superstitious worship to some divinities. The Romans, however, were not subject to either error or ignorance, but they manifested a gross contempt of God, while they maintained the appearance of piety. We gather this opinion from a review of their whole conduct. For although they fetched many deities from every quarter of the world, and worshipped in common with other nations Minerva, Apollo, Mercury, and others, yet we observe how they treated all other rites as worthless. They considered Jupiter as the supreme deity. But what was Jupiter to them in his own country? Did they value him a single farthing, or the Olympian deity? Nay, they derided both his worshippers and himself. What then really was their supreme god? why the glow of the Capitol; without the additional title of Lord of the Capitol, he was nobody at all. That title distinguished him as specially bound to themselves. For This reason the Prophet calls This Roman Jupiter a god of bulwarks, or of powers. The Romans could never be persuaded that any other Jupiter or Juno were worthy of worship; they relied upon their own inherent strength, considered themselves of more importance than the gods, and claimed Jupiter as theirs alone. Because his seat was in their capital, he was more to them than a hundred heavenly rulers, for their pride had centered the whole power of the deity in their own capital. They thought themselves beyond the reach of all changes of fortune, and such was their audacity, that every one fashioned new deities according to his pleasure. There was a temple dedicated to fortune on horseback; for this gratified the vanity of the general who had made good use of it is cavalry, and obtained a victory by their means; and in building a temple to equestrian fortune, he wished the multitude to esteem himself as a deity. Then Jupiter Stator was a god, and why? because this pleased somebody else; and thus Rome became full of temples. One erected an image of fortune, another of virtue, a third of prudence, and a fourth of any other divinity, and every one dared to set up his own idols according to his fancy, till Rome was completely filled with them. In this way Romulus was deified; and what claim had he to this honor? If any one object here — other nations did the same — we admit it, but we also know in what a foolish, brutal, and barbarous state of antiquity they continued. But; the Romans, as I have already intimated, were not instigated to this manufacture of idols by either error or superstition, but by an arrogant vanity which elevated themselves to the first rank among mankind, and claimed superiority over all deities. For instance, they allowed a temple to be erected to themselves in Asia, and sacrifices to be offered, and the name of deity to be applied to them. What pride is here! Is this a proof of belief in the existence of either one god or many? Rome is surely the only deity, — and she must be reverently worshipped before all others!

We observe then how the expression of this verse is very applicable to the Romans; they worshipped the god of bulwarks, meaning, they claimed a divine power as their own, and only granted to their gods what they thought useful for their own purposes. With the view of claiming certain virtues as their own, they invented all kinds of deities according to their taste. I omit the testimony of Plutarch as not quite applicable to the present subject. He says in his problems, it was unlawful to utter the name of any deity under whose protection and guardianship the Roman State was placed. He tells us how Valerius Soranus was carried off for foolishly uttering that deity’s name, whether male or female. These are his very words. And he adds as the reason, their practice of using magical incantations in worshipping their unknown divinity. Again, we know in what remarkable honor they esteemed “the good goddess.” The male sex were entirely ignorant of her nature, and none but females entered the house of the high priest, and there celebrated her orgies. And for what purpose? What was that “good goddess?” Surely there always existed this god of bulwarks, since the Romans acknowledged no deity but their own selves. They erected altars to themselves, and sacrificed all kinds of victims to their own success and good fortune; and in this way they reduced all deities within their own sway, while they offered them only the specious and deceptive picture of reverence. There is nothing forced in the expression of the angel, — he will pay no attention to the gods of his fathers; meaning, he will not follow the usual custom of all nations in retaining superstitious ceremonies with error and ignorance. For although the Greeks were very acute, yet they did not dare to make any movement, or propose any discussions on religious matters. One thing we know to be fixed among them, to worship the gods which had been handed down by their fathers. But the Romans dared to insult all religious with freedom and petulance, and to promote atheism as far as they possibly could. Therefore the angel says, he should pay attention to the god of his fathers. And why? They will have regard to themselves, and acknowledge no deity except their own confidence in their peculiar fortitude. I interpret the phrase, the desire of women, as denoting by that figure of speech which puts apart for the whole, the barbarity of their manners. The love of women is a scriptural phrase for very peculiar affection; and God has instilled this mutual affection into the sexes to cause them to remain united together as long as they retain any spark of humanity. Thus David is said to have loved Jonathan beyond or surpassing the love of women. (<100126>2 Samuel 1:26.):No fault is there found with this agreement, otherwise the love of David towards Jonathan would be marked with disgrace. We know how sacred his feelings were towards him, but “the love of women” is here used par excellence, implying the exceeding strength of this affection. As therefore God has appointed this very stringent bond of affection between the sexes as a natural bond of union throughout the human race, it is not surprising if all the duties of humanity are comprehended under this word by a figure of speech. It is just as if the angel had said; this king of whom he prophesies should be impious and sacrilegious, in thus daring to despise all deities; then he should be so evil, as to be utterly devoid of every feeling of charity. We observe then how completely the Romans were without natural affection, loving neither their wives nor the female sex. I need not refer to even a few examples by which this assertion may be proved. But throughout the whole nation such extreme barbarity existed, that it ought really to fill us with horror. None can obtain an adequate idea of this, without becoming thoroughly versed in their histories; but whoever will study their exploits, will behold as in a mirror the angel’s meaning. This king, then, should cultivate neither piety nor humanity.

And he shall not pay attention to other gods, because he shall magnify himself against them all. The cause is here assigned why this king should be a gross despiser of all deities, and fierce and barbarous against all mortals, because he should magnify himself above them all. That pride so blinded the Romans, as to cause them to forget both piety and humanity; and so this intolerable self-confidence of theirs was the reason why they paid no honor to any deity, and trampled all mortals under foot. Humility is certainly the beginning of all true piety; and this seed of religion is implanted in the heart of man, causing them whether they will or not to acknowledge some deity. But the Romans were so puffed up by self-consequence, as to exalt themselves above every object of adoration, and to treat all religions with contemptuous scorn; and in thus despising all celestial beings, they necessarily looked down on all mankind, which was literally and notoriously the fact. Now, the second clause is opposed to this, He shall worship or honor the god of fortitude’s. He had previously used this word of the Temple, but this explanation does not seem suitable here, because the angel had before expressed the unity of God, while he now enumerates many gods. But the angel uses the word “fortitude’s,” or “munitions,” for that perverse confidence by which the Romans were puffed up, and were induced to treat both God and men as nothing hi comparison to themselves. How then did these two points agree — the contempt of all deities among the Romans, and yet the existence of some worship? First, they despised all tradition respecting the gods, but afterwards they raised themselves above every celestial object, and becoming ashamed of their barbarous impiety, they pretended to honor their deities. But where did they seek those deities, as Jupiter for instance, to whom all the tribe of them were subject? why, in their own capitol. Their deities were the offspring of their own imaginations, and nothing was esteemed divine but what pleased themselves. Hence it is said, He shall honor him in his own place. Here the angel removes all doubt, by mentioning the place in which this god of fortitude’s should be honored. The Romans venerated other deities wherever they met with them, but this was mere outward pretense. Without doubt they limited Jupiter to his own capitol and city; and whatever they professed respecting other divinities, there was no true religion in them, because they adored themselves in preference to those fictitious beings. Hence he shall worship the god of ramparts in his place, and shall honor a strange god whom his fathers knew not. f577

Again, He shall honor him in gold, and silver, and precious stones, and all desirable things; meaning, he shall worship his own deity magnificently and with remarkable pomp. And we know how the riches of the whole world were heaped together to ornament their temples. For as soon as any one purposed to erect any temple, he was compelled to seize all things in every direction, and so to spoil all provinces to enrich their own temples. Rome, too, did not originate this splendor for the sake of superstition, but only to raise itself and to become the admiration of all nations; and thus we observe how well this prophecy is explained by the course of subsequent events. Some nations, in truth, were superstitious in the worship of their idols, but the Romans were superior to all the rest. When first they became masters of Sicily, we know what an amount of wealth they abstracted from a single city. For if ever any temples were adorned with great and copious splendor and much riches, surely they would confess the extreme excellence of those of Sicily. But Marcellus stripped almost all temples to enrich Rome and to ornament the shrines of their false deities. And why so? Was it because Jupiter, and Juno, and Apollo, and Mercury, were better at Rome than elsewhere? By no means; but because he wished to enrich the city, and to turn all sorts of deities into a laughingstock, and to lead them in triumph, to shew that there was no other deity or excellence except at Rome, the mistress of the world. He afterwards adds, He shall perform. Here, again, the angel seems to speak of prosperity. Without doubt he would here supply courage to the pious, who would otherwise vacillate and become backsliders when they observed such continued and incredible success, in a nation so impious and sacrilegious, and remarkable for such barbarous cruelty. Hence he states how the Romans should obtain their ends in whatever they attempted, if their fortitude should prevail, as if it were their deity. Although they should despise all deities, and only fabricate a god for themselves through a spirit of ambition; yet even this should bring them success. This is now called a foreign deity. Scripture uses this word to distinguish between fictitious idols and the one true God. The angel seems to say nothing which applies especially to the Romans. For the Athenians and Spartans, the Persians and the Asiatics, as well as all other nations, worshipped strange gods. What, then, is the meaning of the name? for clearly the angel did not speak after the ordinary manner. He calls him strange, as he was not handed down from one to another; for while they boasted vainly in their veneration of the idols received from their ancestors, together with all their sacred institutions and their inviolable rites, yet they inwardly derided them, and did not esteem them worth a straw, but only wished to retain some fallacious form of religion through a sense of shame. We remember the saying of Cato concerning the augurs, “I wonder when one meets another how he can refrain from laughing!” thus shewing how he ridiculed them. If any one had asked Cato either in the senate or privately, What think you of the augurs and all our religion? he would reply, “Ah! let the whole world perish before the augurs; for these constitute the very safety of the people and of the whole republic: we received them from our ancestors, therefore let us keep them for ever!” Thus that crafty fellow would have spoken, and thus also would all others. But while they prated thus to each other, they were not ashamed to deny the existence of a Deity, and so to ridicule whatever had been believed from the very beginning, as entirely to reduce to nothing the traditions received from their forefathers. It does not surprise us to find the angel speaking of a strange god which was worshipped at Rome, not, as I have said, through superstition or mistake, but only to prevent their barbarity from becoming abominable throughout the world. That God, says he, whom he had acknowledged: great weight is attached to this word. The angel means, that the whole divinity rested on the opinion and will of the sovereign people, because it was agreeable to its inclination, and promoted its private interest. As the plan of worshipping any gods would be approved, and they would pride themselves in their own pleasure, they should boast with great confidence, that there could be no piety but at Rome. But why so? Because they acknowledge strange gods, and determine and decree the form of worship which was to be preserved. The angel thus places the whole of the religion of Rome in lust, and shews them to be impure despisers of God.

He afterwards says, He shall multiply the glory. This may be referred to God, but I rather approve of a different interpretation. The Romans should acquire great wealth for themselves, and should increase wonderfully in opulence, in the magnitude of their empire, and in all other sources of strength. Therefore they shall multiply the glory, meaning, they shall acquire new territories, and increase their power, and accumulate a multitude of treasures. This explanation fits in very well with the close of the verse, where he adds, he shall make them rule far and wide. This is a portion of that glory which this king shall heap upon himself, for he should be superior to the kings over many lands, and should distribute the booty which he had acquired, and that, too, for a price. He says, therefore, he shall make them rule over many; for the relative is without a subject, which is a frequent practice of the Hebrews. Whom, then, should the Roman king, or the Roman empire, thus cause to have dominion? Whoever rendered them any assistance should receive his reward from a stranger, as we know Eumenes to have been enriched by the booty and spoil of Antiochus. The provinces also were distributed according to their will. The island was given up to the Rhodians, while a kingdom was wrested from another, and the AEtolians enlarged their dominions. As each party labored hard for their benefit, and incurred large expenses, so the Romans conferred riches upon them. After conquering Antiochus, they became the more liberal towards Attalus and Eumenes, and thus they became masters of the greater part of Asia. Again, when they had deprived Nabis, the tyrant of Sparta, of the greater part of his territories, those who had taken care to gratify the Romans, were favored with the spoils they had seized from him. We have another instance in the favor’s conferred upon Massinissa after the conquest of Carthage; for after being expelled from his own kingdom, his dominion extended far and wide throughout the continent of Africa: after being deprived of his paternal sovereignty, he had not a spot in the world on which to plant his foot until they bestowed upon him what they had seized from the Carthaginians. And how did they manage this? They shall divide the soil for a price, says the angel; thus obliquely reproving the cunning of the senate and Roman people, because they did not give away these ample dominions gratuitously; they would willingly have devoured whatever they had acquired, but they found it better policy to sell them than to retain them. They did not sell at any fixed price — for the word “price” here need not be restricted to a definite sum of money — but displayed their avarice, and sold and distributed for the sake of gain, just as much as if all these territories had been immediately reduced into provinces of their empire. They had need of great resources; it was objectionable to continue their garrison in perpetuity in the cities of Greece, and hence they proclaim perfect freedom through them all. But what sort of liberty was this? Each state might choose its senate according to the pleasure of the Romans, and thus as each acquired rank and honor in his own nation, he would become attached and enslaved to the Roman people. And then, in this condition of affairs, if any war should spring up, they sought aid from these friends and allies. For had they been only confederate, the Romans would never have dared to exact so much from each tributary state. Let us take the case of the Carthaginians. After being reduced by many exaction’s to the lowest pitch of poverty, yet when the Romans made war against Philip and Macedon, and against Antiochus, they demanded ships from these allies. They demanded besides, as a subsidy, an immense quantity of gold, silver, provisions, garments, and armor, till at length these wretched Carthaginians, whose very life-blood the Romans had drained, still sent for the war whatever gold they had remaining, and all they could scrape together. Thus Philip king of Macedon is compelled to destroy himself, by plunging his own sword into his body; for every state of Greece was forced to contribute its own portion of the expenses of the war.

We perceive, then, how the lands were divided for a price, each with regard to its own utility, not by fixing a certain defined money value, but according to the standard of political expediency. And what kind of bargaining did they afterwards mutually execute? We have an instance of it in the prevalence of proscription among the Romans, by which they turned their rapacity against their own vitals. They had previously confiscated the goods of their enemies. Philip, for instance, was forced to pay a large sum of money to repurchase the name of king and the portion of territory which remained his own. Antiochus and the Carthaginians were subject to the same hardship. The Romans, in short, never conquered any one without exhausting both the monarch and his dominions to satisfy their insatiable avarice and cupidity. We now perceive how they divided the lands for a price, holding all kings in subjection to themselves, and bestowing largesses upon one from the property of another.

We now perceive the angel’s meaning throughout this verse, The King should be so powerful as to bestow dominion on whomsoever he pleased in many and ample territories, but not gratuitously. We have had examples of some despoiled of their royal dignity and power, and of others restored to the authority of which they had been deprived. Lucullus, for instance, chose to eject one king from his dominions, while another general restored him to his possessions. A single Roman citizen could thus create a great monarch; and thus it often happened. Claudius proposed to the people to proscribe the king of Cyprus, although he was of the royal race; his father had been the friend and ally of the Roman people, he had committed no crime against the Roman empire, and there was no reason for declaring war against him. Meanwhile he remained in security at home, while none of those ceremonies by which war is usually declared took place. He was proscribed in the market-place by a few vagabonds, and Cato is immediately sent to ravage the whole island. He took possession of it for the Romans, and this wretched man is compelled to cast himself into the sea in a fit of despair. We observe, then, how his prediction of the angel was by no means in vain; the Roman proconsuls distributed kingdoms and provinces, but yet for a price, for they seized everything in the world, and drew all riches, all treasures, and every particle of value into the whirlpool of their unsatisfied covetousness. We shall put off the remainder.

PRAYER.

Grant, Almighty God, as in all ages the blindness of mankind has been so great as to lead them to worship thee erroneously and superstitiously, and since they manifest such duplicity and pride as to despise thy name, and also the very idols which they have fashioned for themselves: Grant, I pray thee, that true piety may be deeply rooted in our hearts. May the fear of thy name be so engraven within us, that we may be sincerely and unreservedly devoted to thee. May each of us heartily desire to glorify thy name, and may we endeavor to lead our brethren in the same course. Do thou purge us more and more from all dissimulation, until at length we arrive at that perfect purity which is laid up for us in heaven, through Jesus Christ our Lord. — Amen.


Lecture Sixty-Fourth

<271140>Daniel 11:40

40. And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.

40. Et im tempore finis configet cum eo rex austri, et tanquam turbo iruet rex aquilonis, cum curru et equitibus, et navibus multis: et veniet in terras, et exundabit, et transibit, pervadet

 

As to the time here mentioned, it is a certain or predetermined period’ the kings of the south and the north we have already shewn to refer to Egypt and Syria, such being their position with respect to Judea. The word jgn neech, confliget, is literally he shall “push with the horns,” while the word translated, “he shall rush as a whirlwind,” is deduced from r[ segner, “to be stormy.” The angel here predicts the numerous victories by means of which the Romans should extend their empire far and wide, although not without great difficulties and dangers. He states, The king of the south should carry on war with the Romans for a definite period. I dare not fix the precise time intended by the angel. So great was the power of Egypt, that had the kings of that country relied upon their native resources, they might have summoned courage to make war upon the Romans. Gabinius the proconsul led his army there for the sake of restoring Ptolemy. He expelled Archelaus without much trouble, and then like a mercenary he risked his life and his fame there, as well as his army. Caesar was in danger there, after vanquishing Pompey; then Antony next made war upon Augustus, assisted by the forces of Cleopatra; then Egypt put forth all her strength, and at his failure was reduced herself to a province of Rome. The angel did not propose to mark a continued series of times, but only briefly to admonish the faithful to stand firm amidst those most grievous concussions which were then at hand. Whatever be the precise meaning, the angel doubtless signified the difficult nature of the struggle between the Romans and the Egyptians. I have already stated the witness of history to the fact, that the Egyptians never made war against the Romans in their own name; sometimes events were so confused that the Egyptians coalesced with the Syrians, and then we must read the words conjointly — thus the king of the south, assisted by the king of the north, should carry on war with the Romans. The angel thus shews us how the king of Syria should furnish greater forces and supplies than the Egyptian monarch, and this really happened at the beginning of the triumvirate. He states next, The king of the south should come with chariots and horses and many ships. Nor is it necessary here to indicate the precise period, since the Romans carried on many wars in the east, during which they occupied Asia, while a part of Libya fell to them by the will of its king without arms or force of any kind.

With reference to these two kingdoms which have been so frequently mentioned, many chiefs ruled over Syria within a short period. First one of the natives was raised to the throne and then another, till the people grew tired of them, and transferred the sovereignty to strangers. Then Alexander rose gradually to power, and ultimately acquired very great fame: he was not of noble birth, for his father was of unknown origin. This man sprang from an obscure family, and at one period possessed neither authority nor resources. He was made king of Syria, because he pretended to be the son of Seleucus, and was slain immediately, while his immediate successor reigned for but a short period. Thus Syria passed over to the Romans on the death of this Seleucus. Tigranes the king of Armenia was then sent for, and he was made ruler over Syria till Lucullus conquered him, and Syria was reduced to a province. The vilest of men reigned over Egypt. Physcon, who was restrained by the Romans when attempting to wrest Syria from the power of its sovereign, was exceedingly depraved both in body and mind and hence he obtained this disgraceful appellation. For the word is a Greek one, equivalent to the French andouille; for physce means that thicker intestine into which the others are usually inserted. This deformity gave rise to his usual name, signifying “pot-bellied,” implying both bodily deformity and likeness to the brutes, while he was not endowed with either intellect or ingenuity. The last king who made the Romans his son’s guardians, received the name of Auletes, and Cicero uses this epithet of “flute-player,” because he was immoderately fond of this musical instrument In each kingdom then there was horrible deformity, since those who exercised the royal authority were more like dogs or swine than mankind. Tigranes, it is well known, gave the Romans much trouble. On the other side, Mithridates occupied their attention for a very long period, and with various and opposite success. The Romans throughout all Asia were at one period put to the sword, and when a close engagement was fought, Mithridates was often superior, and he afterwards united his forces with those of Tigranes, his father-in-law. When Tigranes held Armenia, he was a king of other kings, and afterwards added to his dominions a portion of Syria. At length when the last Antiochus was set over the kingdom of Syria by Lucullus, he was removed from his command by the orders of Pompey, and then, as we have stated, Syria became a province of Rome. Pompey crossed the sea, and subdued the whole of Judea as well as Syria’ he afterwards entered the Temple, and took away some part of its possessions, but spared the sacred treasures. Crassus succeeded him — an insatiable whirlpool, who longed for this province for no other reason than his unbounded eagerness for wealth. He despoiled the Temple at Jerusalem; and lastly, after Cleopatra was conquered, Egypt lost its royal race, and passed into a Roman province. If the Romans, had conquered a hundred other provinces, the angel would not have mentioned them here; for I have previously noticed his special regard to the chosen people. Therefore he dwells only on those slaughters which had more or less relation to the wretched Jews. First of all he predicts the great contest which should arise between the kings of Egypt and Syria, who should come on like a whirlwind, while the Romans should rush upon the lands like a deluge, and pass over them. He compares the king of Syria to a whirlwind, for at first he should rush on impetuously, filling both land and sea with his forces. Thus he should possess a well-manned fleet, and thus excite fresh terrors, and yet vanish away rapidly like a whirlwind. But the Romans are compared to a deluge. The new king of whom he had spoken should come, says he, and overflow, burying all the forces of both Egypt and Syria; implying the whole foundations of both realms should be swept away when the Romans passed over them. He shall pass over, he says; meaning, wherever they come, the way shall be open for them and nothing closed against them. He will repeat this idea in another form. He does not speak now of one region only, but says, they should come over the lands, implying a wide-spread desolation, while no one should dare to oppose them by resisting their fury.

<271141>Daniel 11:41-42

41. He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Aremort.

41. Et veniet in terram desiderii, et multae, regiones scilicet, cadent, et hae evadent e manu ejus, Edom, Moab, et principium filiorum Ammon.

42. He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries; and the land of Egypt shall not escape.

42. Et mittet, hoc est, extendet, manum suam in terras, et terra AEgypti non erit in evasionem. f578

 

The land of Judea is called the pleasant or desirable land, because God thought it worthy of his peculiar favor. He chose it for his dwelling-place, called it his resting-place, and caused his blessing to remain in it. In this verse also, regions are treated, and not merely cities, as the regions of Edom and of Moab. After the angel had briefly predicted the occurrence of the most grievous wars with the Romans, he now adds what he had briefly commenced in the last verse, — namely their becoming conquerors of all nations. They shall come, he says, into the desirable land. This is the reason why the angel prophesies of the Roman empire, for he was not sent to explain to Daniel the history of the whole world, but to retain the faithful in their allegiance, and to persuade them under the most harassing convulsions to remain under the protection and guardianship of God. For this reason he states, — they shall come into the desirable land. This would be a dreadful temptation, and might overthrow all feelings of piety, as the Jews would be harassed on all sides, first by the Syrians and then by the Egyptians. And we know with what cruelty Antiochus endeavored not only to oppress but utterly to blot out the whole nation. Neither the Syrians nor the Egyptians spared them. The Romans came almost from the other side of the globe; at first they made an alliance with these states, and then entered Judea as enemies. Who would have supposed that region under God’s protection, when it was so exposed to all attacks of robbery and oppression? Hence it was necessary to admonish the faithful not to fall away through this utter confusion.

They shall come, then, into the desirable land, and many regions shall fall; meaning, no hope should remain for the Jews after the arrival of the Romans, as victory was already prepared to their hand. The angel’s setting before the faithful this material for despair was not likely to induce confidence and comfort, but. as they were aware of these divine predictions, they knew also that the remedy was prepared by the same God who had admonished them by means of the angel. It was in his power to save his Church from a hundred deaths. This prophecy became an inestimable treasury, inspiring the faithful with the hope of the promised deliverance. The angel will afterwards add the promise intended to support and strengthen and revive their drooping spirits. But he here announces that God’s aid should not immediately appear, because he would give the Romans full permission to exercise a cruel sway, tyranny, and robbery, throughout the whole of Asia and the East. He says, The lands of Edom, Moab, and a portion of Ammon should escape from their slaughter. This trial would in no slight degree affect the minds of the pious: What does he mean? He suffers the land that he promised should be at rest, to be now seized and laid waste by its enemies! The land of Moab is at peace and enjoys the greatest tranquillity, and the condition of the sons of Ammon is prosperous! We should here bear in mind what the prophets say of these lands: Esau was banished into the rugged mountains, and God assigned to the Moabites a territory beyond the borders of the land of blessings. (<390103>Malachi 1:3.) The Jews alone had any peculiar right and privilege to claim that territory in which the Lord had promised them perfect repose. Now, when Judea is laid waste and their foes according to their pleasure not only seize upon everything valuable in the city and the country, but seem to have a special permission to ravage the land at their will, what could the Jews conjecture? The angel therefore meets this objection, and alleviates these feelings of anxiety to which the faithful could be subject from such slaughters. He states that the territories of Edom and Moab, and of the children of Ammon, should be tranquil and safe from those calamities. By the expression, to the beginning of the children of Ammon, he most probably refers to that, retreat whence the Ammonites originated. For doubtless the Romans would not have spared the Ammonites unless they had been concealed among the mountains, for every district in the neighborhood of Judea was subject to the same distress. Those who interpret this passage of Antichrist, suppose safety to be extended only to that portion of the faithful who shall escape from the world and take refuge in the deserts. But there is no reason in this opinion, and it is sufficient to retain the sense already proposed as the genuine one. He afterwards adds, The Romans should send their army into the land, and even in the land of Egypt, they should not escape. The angel without doubt here treats of the numerous victories which the Romans should obtain in a short time. They carried on war with Mithridates for a long period, and then Asia was almost lost; but they soon afterwards began to extend their power, first over all Asia Minor, and then over Syria; Armenia was next added to their sway, and Egypt after that: meanwhile this was but a moderate addition, till at length they ruled over the Persians, and thus their power became formidable. Wherefore this prophet was fulfilled by their extending their power over many regions, and by the land of Egypt becoming a portion of their booty. It follows:

<271143>Daniel 11:43

43. But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.

43. Et dominabitur thesauris auri, et argenti, et omnibus desiderabilibus f579 AEgypti, et Lybiae, et Aethiopiae ingressibus suis.

 

I have previously stated that though the language applies to a single king, yet a kingdom is to be understood, and our former observations are here confirmed. Although many nations should endeavor to resist the Romans, they should yet be completely victorious, and finally acquire immense booty. Their avarice and covetousness were perfectly astonishing; for he says, they should acquire dominion over the treasures of gold and silver, and should draw to themselves all the precious things of Egypt, Libya, and Ethiopia; and that, too, in their footsteps. In these words he more clearly explains our previous remarks upon the emblem of the deluge. All lands should be laid open to them; although the cities were fortified, and would thus resist them by their closed gates, yet the way should be open to them, and none should hinder them from bursting forth over the whole east, and subduing at the same time cities, towns, and villages. This we know to have been actually accomplished. Hence there is nothing forced in the whole of this context, and the prophecy is fairly interpreted by the history. He afterwards adds, —

<271144>Daniel 11:44

44. But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many.

44. Rumores vero, f580 terrebunt eum ab oriente, et ab aquilone: egredieturque cum ira magna, ut perdat et internecione deleat multos.

 

The angel’s narrative seems here to differ somewhat from the preceding one, as the Romans should not succeed so completely as to avoid being arrested in the midst of their victorious course. He says, they shall be frightened by rumors, and the events suit this case, for although the Romans subdued the whole east with scarcely any trouble, and in a few years, yet they were afterwards checked by adversity. For Crassus perished miserably after spoiling the temple, and destroyed himself and the flower of the Roman army; he was conquered at Carrse, near Babylon, in an important engagement, through betrayal by a spy in when he had placed too much confidence. Antony, again, after dividing the world into three parts between himself, and Octavius, and Lepidus, suffered miserably in the same neighborhood against the Parthians. We are not surprised at the angel’s saying, The Romans should be frightened from the east and the north, as this really came to pass. Then he adds, they should come in great wrath; meaning, although they should lose many troops, yet this severe massacre should not depress their spirits. When their circumstances were desperate, they were excited to fury like savage beasts of prey, until they rushed upon their own destruction. This came to pass more especially under the reign of Augustus; for a short period he contended successfully with the Parthians, and compelled them to surrender. He then imposed upon them conditions of peace; and as the Roman eagles had been carried into Persia, much to their disgrace, he compelled this people to return them. By this compulsion he blotted out the disgrace which they had suffered under Antony. We see, then, how exceedingly well this suits the context, — the Romans shall come with great wrath to destroy many; as the Parthians expected to enjoy tranquillity:for many ages, and to be perfectly free from any future attempt or attack from the Romans. It now follows, —

<271145>Daniel 11:45

45. And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palaces between the seas in the glorious holy mountain: yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.

45. Et figet tabernacula palatii sui inter maria ad montem desiderii sanctitatis, et veniet ad finem suum, et non auxiliator ei.

 

The angel at length concludes with the settled sway of the Romans in Asia Minor and the regions of the coast, as well as in Syria, Judea, and Persia. We have already shewn how everything here predicted is related by profane historians, and each event is well known to all who are moderately versed in the knowledge of those times. We must now notice the phrase, The Roman king should fix the tents of his palace. This expression signifies not only the carrying on of the war by the Romans in the east, but their being lords of the whole of that region. When he had said they should fix their tents according to the usual practice of warfare, he might have been content with the usual method of speech, but he contrasts the word “palace” with frequent migrations, and signifies their not measuring their camp according to the usage of warfare, but their occupying a fixed station for a permanence. Why then does he speak of tents? Because Asia was not the seat of their empire; for they were careful in not attributing more dignity to any place than was expedient for themselves. For this reason the proconsuls took with them numerous attendants, to avoid the necessity of any fixed palace they had their own tents, and often remained in such temporary dwellings as they found on their road. This language of the angel — they shall fix the tents of their palacewill suit the Romans exceedingly well, because they reigned there in tranquillity after the east was subdued; and yet they had no fixed habitation, because they did not wish any place to become strong enough to rebel against them. When he says, between the seas, some think the Dead Sea intended, and the Lake of Asphalt, as opposed to the Mediterranean Sea. I do not hesitate to think the Persian Sea is intended by the angel. He does not say the Romans should become masters of all the lands lying between the two seas, but he only says they should fix the tents of their palace between the seas; and we know this to have been done when they held the dominion between the Euxine and the Persian Gulf. The extent of the sway of Mithridates is well known, for historians record twenty-two nations as subject to his power. Afterwards, on one side stood Asia Minor, which consisted of many nations, according to our statement elsewhere, and Armenia became theirs after Tigranes was conquered, while Cilicia, though only a part of a province, was a very extensive and wealthy region. It had many deserts and many stony and uncultivated mountains, while there were in Cilicia many rich cities, though it did not form a single province, like Syria and Judea, so that it is not surprising when the angel says the Romans should fix their tents between the seas, for their habitation was beyond the Mediterranean Sea. They first passed over into Sicily and then into Spain; thirdly, they began to extend their power into Greece and Asia Minor against Antiochus, and then they seized upon the whole east. On the one shore was Asia Minor and many other nations; and on the other side was the Syrian Sea, including Judea as far as the Egyptian Sea. We observe, then, the tranquillity of the Roman empire between the seas, and yet it had no permanent seat there, because the proconsuls spent their time as foreigners in the midst of a strange country.

At length he adds, They should come to the mountain of the desire of holiness. I have already expressed the reason why this prophecy was uttered; it was to prevent the novelty of these events from disturbing the minds of the pious, when they saw so barbarous and distant a nation trampling upon them, and ruling with pride, insolence, and cruelty. When, therefore, so sorrowful a spectacle was set before the eyes of the pious, they required no ordinary supports lest they should yield to the pressure of despair. The angel therefore predicts future events, to produce the acknowledgment of nothing really happening by chance; and next, to shew how all these turbulent motions throughout the world are governed by a divine power. The consolation follows, they shall come at length to their end, and no one shall bring them help. This was not fulfilled immediately, for after Crassus had despoiled the temple, and had suffered in an adverse engagement against the Parthians, the Romans did not fail all at once, but their monarchy flourished even more and more under Augustus. The city was then razed to the ground by Titus, and the very name and existence of the Jewish nation all but; annihilated. Then, after this, the Romans suffered disgraceful defeats; they were east out of nearly the whole east, and compelled to treat with the Parthians, the Persians, and other nations, till their empire was entirely ruined. If we study the history of the next hundred years no nation will be found to have suffered such severe punishments as the Romans, and no monarchy was ever overthrown with greater disgrace. God then poured such fury upon that nation as to render them the gazing-stock of the world. Tim angel’s words are not in vain, their own end should soon come; after they had devastated and depopulated all lands, and penetrated and pervaded everywhere, and all the world had given themselves up to their power, then the Romans became utterly ruined and swept away. They should have gone to help them. Without doubt this prophecy may be here extended to rite promulgation of the gospel; for although Christ was born about one age before the preaching of the gospel, yet he truly shone forth to the world by means of that promulgation. The angel therefore brought up his prophecy to that point of time. He now subjoins, —


CHAPTER 12

<271201>Daniel 12:1

1. And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even, to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.

1. Et tempore illo stabit Michael princeps, magnus stans pro filiis populi tui, et erit tempus afflictionis, quale non fuit abesse gentem, hoc est, ex quo coeperunt esse gentes, ad tempus illud usque: et tempore illo servabitur populus tuus quicunque inventus fuerit scriptus in libro.

 

The angel no longer relates future occurrences specially, but proclaims God to be in general the guardian of his Church, so as to preserve it wonderfully amidst many difficulties and dreadful commotion’s, as well as in the profound darkness of disaster and death. This is the meaning of this sentence. This verse consists of two parts: the first relates to that most wretched period which should be full of various and almost numberless calamities; and the second assures us of God’s never-failing protection and preservation of his Church by his own innate power. In this second part the promise is restricted to the elect, and thus a third clause may be distinguished, but it is only an addition to the second just mentioned. At the close of the verse, the angel presents us with a definition of the Church, as many professed to be God’s people who were not really so. He says, Michael, the prince of the people, should stand up. Then he states the reason, The calamities of that period should be such as were never witnessed from the beginning of the world. As he addresses Daniel, he says, sons of thy people; for he was one of the sons of Abraham, and the nation from which Daniel sprang was in that sense “his.” From this it follows that the calamities of which he will by and bye treat, belong to the true Church, and not to the profane nations. The singular aid of Michael would not have been needed, unless the Church had been oppressed with the most disastrous distresses. We perceive, then, the angel’s meaning to be according to my explanation. The Church should be subject to most numerous and grievous calamities until the advent of Christ, but yet it should feel God’s propitious disposition, ensuring its own safety under his aid and protection. By Michael many agree in understanding Christ as the head of the Church. But if it seems better to understand Michael as the archangel, this sense will prove suitable, for under Christ as the head, angels are the guardians of the Church. Whichever be the true meaning, God was the preserver of his Church by the hand of his only-begotten Son, and because the angels are under the government of Christ, he might entrust this duty to Michael. That foul hypocrite, Servetus, has dared to appropriate this passage to himself; for he has inscribed it as a frontispiece on his horrible comments, because he was called Michael! We observe what diabolic fury has seized him, as he dared to claim as his own what is here said of the singular aid afforded by Christ; to his Church. He was a man of the most impure feelings, as we have already sufficiently made known. But this was a proof of his impudence and sacrilegious madness — to adorn himself with this epithet of Christ without, blushing, and. to elevate himself into Christ’s place, by boasting himself to be Michael, the guardian of the Church, and the mighty prince of the people! This fact is well known, for I have the book at hand should any one distrust my word.

PRAYER.

Grant, Almighty God, since we are placed in similar distresses to those of which thou dost wish to warn us by thy angel, as well as thine ancient people, that thy light may shine upon us by means of thy only-begotten Son. May we feel ourselves always in safety under his invincible power. May we dwell securely under his shadow, and contend earnestly and boldly unto the end, against Satan and all his impious crew. And when all our warfare is over, may we arrive at last at that blessed rest where the fruit of our victory awaits us, in the same Christ our Lord. — Amen.


Lecture Sixty-Five.

The twelfth chapter commenced, as we stated in yesterday’s Lecture, with the angel’s prediction as to the future state of the Church after the manifestation of Christ It was to be subject to many miseries, and hence this passage would soothe the sorrow of Daniel, and of all the pious, as he still promises safety to the Church through the help of God. Daniel therefore represented Michael as the guardian of the Church, and God had enjoined this duty upon Christ, as we learn from the 10th chapter of John, (<431028>John 10:28, 29.) As we stated yesterday, Michael may mean an angel; but I embrace the opinion of those who refer this to the person of Christ, because it suits the subject best to represent him as standing forward for the defense of his elect people. He is called the mighty prince, because he naturally opposed the unconquered fortitude of God to those dangers to which the angel represents the Church to be subject. We well know the very slight causes for which terror often seizes our minds, and when we begin to tremble, nothing can calm our tumult and agitation. The angel then in treating of very grievous contests, and of the imminent danger of the Church, calls Michael the mighty prince. As if he had said, Michael should be the guardian and protector of the elect people, he should exercise immense power, and he alone without the slightest doubt should be sufficient for their protection. Christ confirms the same assertion, as we just; now saw, in the 10th chapter of John. He says all his elect were given him by his father, and none of them should perish, because his father was greater than all; no one, says he, shall pluck my sheep out of my hand. My father, who gave them me, is greater than all; meaning, God possesses infinite power, and displays it for the safety of those whom he has chosen before the creation of the world, and he has committed it to me, or has deposited it in my hands. We now perceive the reason of this epithet, which designates Michael as the great prince. For in consequence of the magnitude of the contest, we ought to enjoy the offer of insuperable strength, to enable us to attain tranquillity in the midst of the greatest commotion’s. It was in no degree superfluous for the angel to predict such great calamities as impending over the Church, and in the present day the, same expressions are most useful to us. We perceive then how the Jews imagined a state of happiness under Christ, and the same error was adopted by the Apostles, who, when ,Christ discoursed on the destruction of the temple and the; city, thought the end of the world was at hand, and this they connected with their own glory and triumph. (<402403>Matthew 24:3.) The Prophet then is here instructed by the angel how God should direct the course of his Church when he should manifest to them his only-begotten Son. Still the severity of distress awaited all the pious; as if he had said, The time of your triumph is not yet arrived; you must still continue your warfare, which will prove both laborious and harassing. The condition of the new people is here compared with that of the ancient one, who suffered many perils and afflictions at God’s hands. The angel therefore says, even although the faithful suffered very severely under the law and the prophets, yet a more oppressive season was at hand, during which God would treat his Church far more strictly than before, and submit it to far more excruciating trials. This is the meaning of the passage, a season full of afflictions should arise, such as the nations had never seen since they began to exist. This may refer to the creation of the world, and if we refer it to the people themselves, the exposition will prove correct; for although the Church had in former periods been wretched, yet after the appearance of Christ, it should suffer far more calamities than before. We remember the language of the Psalmist: The impious have often opposed me from my youth; they have drawn the plough across my back. (<19C901>Psalm 129:1-3.) Through all ages then God subjected his Church to really evils and disasters. But a comparison is here instituted between two different states of the Church, and the angel shews how after Christ’s appearance it should be far from either quietness or happiness. As it should be oppressed with heavier afflictions, it is not surprising that the fathers should wish us to be conformed to the image of his only-begotten Son. (<450829>Romans 8:29.) Since the period of Christ’s resurrection, even if a more harassing warfare awaits us, we ought to bear it with great equanimity, because the glory of heaven is placed before our eyes far more clearly than it was before theirs.

At length he adds, At that time thy people shall be preserved. By this expression the angel points out to us the great importance of the protection of Michael: He promises certain salvation to his elect people, as if he had said, although the Church should be exposed to the greatest dangers, yet with respect to God himself, it should always be safe and victorious in all contests, because Michael should be superior to every enemy. The angel then, in thus exhorting the faithful to bear their cross, shews how free they should be from all doubt as to the event, and the absolute certainty of their victory. Although at first sight this prophecy might inspire us with fear and dismay, yet this comfort ought to be sufficient for us: “We shall be conquerors amidst fire and sword, and amidst many deaths we are sure of life.” As perfect safety is here set before us, we ought to feel secure, and to enter with alacrity into every engagement. We are in truth obliged to fight, but Christ has conquered for us, as he says himself, Trust in me, I have overcome the world. (<431633>John 16:33.) But the angel restricts what he had said generally by way of correction. Many professed to belong to the people of God, and every one naturally sprung from the stock of Israel boasted of being the, offspring of divine seed. As all wished promiscuously to belong to God’s people, the angel restricts his expression by a limiting phrase, all people, says he, who were found written in the book. This clause does not mean all Israel after “the flesh,” (<450906>Romans 9:6-8,) but such as God esteems to be real Israelites according to gratuitous election alone. He here distinguishes between the carnal and spiritual children of Abraham, between the outward Church and that inward and true community which the Almighty approves. Upon what then does the difference depend between those who boast of being Abraham’s children, while they are rejected by God, and those who are really and truly his sons? On the mere grace and favor of God. He declares his election when he regenerates his elect by his Holy Spirit, and thus inscribes them with a certain mark, while they prove the reality of this sonship by the whole course of their lives, and confirm their own adoption. Meanwhile we are compelled to go to the fountain at once; God alone by his gratuitous election distinguishes the outward Church, which has nothing but. the title, from the true Church, which can never either perish or fall away. Thus we observe in how many passages of Scripture hypocrites are rejected in the midst of their swelling pride, as they have nothing in common with the sons of God but the external symbols of profession.

We ought to notice this restriction, which assures us of the utter uselessness of outward pomp, and of the unprofitable nature of even a high station in the outward Church, unless we are truly among God’s people. This is expressed fully in Psalm 15 and 24, while Psalm 73 confirms the same sentiments. How good is God to Israel, especially to the upright in heart! In these passages of the Psalms the cause is not stated to be the secret election of God, but the outward testimony of the conduct; and this although inferior in degree, is not contrary to the first cause which produces it. This has its proper place, but God’s election is always superior. The word book refers to that eternal counsel of God, whereby he elected us and adopted us as his sons before the foundation of the world, as we read in the first chapter of Ephesians, (<490104>Ephesians 1:4.) In the same sense Ezekiel inveighs against the false prophets who deceived the people of Israel, (<260809>Ezekiel 8:9.) My hand, says God, shall be upon those prophets who deceive my people: they shall not therefore be in the secret assembly of my people, nor shall they be found in the roll of the house of Israel. The word signifying to write is used here, — they shall not be written in the enrollment of the house of Israel. The word book is here used in the same sense and yet we need not adopt the gross idea, that the Almighty has any need of a book. His book is that eternal counsel which predestinates us to himself, and elects us to the hope of eternal salvation. We now understand the full sense of this instruction, as the Church shall remain in safety amidst many deaths, and even in the last stage of despair it shall escape through the mercy and help of God. We must also remember this definition of a church, because many boast of being God’s sons, who are complete strangers to him. This leads us to consider the subject of election, as our salvation flows from that fountain. Our calling, which is his outward testimony to it, follows that gratuitous adoption which is hidden within himself; and thus God when regenerating us by his Spirit, inscribes upon us his marks and signs, whence he is able to acknowledge us as his real children. It follows, —

<271202>Daniel 12:2

2. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

2. Et multi ex dormientibus in terra pulvere, evigilabunt hi in vitam seculi, hoc est, perpetuo, hi vero in opprobium et in abominationem perpetuam.

 

As to the translation of the first words, it is literally , many who sleep in the earth of dust, or who are in earth and dust; for the genitive is used as an epithet, though it may be read as if in opposition with the former word sleep, meaning those who are reduced to earth and dust.

The angel seems here to mark a transition from the commencement of the preaching of the gospel, to the final day of the resurrection, without sufficient occasion for it. For why does he pass over the intermediate time during which many events might be the subject of prophecy? He unites these two subjects very fitly and properly, connecting the salvation of the Church with the final resurrection and with the second coming of Christ. Wheresoever we may look around us, we never meet with any source of salvation on earth. The angel announces the salvation of all the elect. They are most miserably oppressed on all sides, and wherever they turn their eyes, they perceive nothing but confusion. Hence the hope of the promised salvation could not be conceived by man before the elect raise their minds to the second coming of Christ. It is just as if the angel had said, God will be the constant preserver of his Church, even unto the end; but the manner in which he will preserve it must not be taken in a carnal sense, as the Church will be like a dead body until it shall rise again. We here perceive the angel teaching the same truth as Paul delivers in other words, namely, we are dead, and our life is hidden with Christ; it shall then be made manifest when he shall appear in the heavens. (<510303>Colossians 3:3.) We must hold this first of all, God is sufficiently powerful to defend us, and we need not hesitate in feeling ourselves safe under his hand and protection. Meanwhile it is necessary to add this second point; as long as we fix our eyes only on this present state of things, and dwell upon what the world offers us, we shall always be like the dead. And why so? Our life ought to be hid with Christ in God. Our salvation is secure, but we still hope for it, as Paul says in another passage. (<450823>Romans 8:23, 24.) What is hoped for is not seen, says he. This shews us how completely seasonable is the transition from this doctrine respecting God’s elect to the last advent of Christ. This then is enough with respect to the context. The word many seems here clearly put for all, and this is not to be considered as at all absurd, for the angel does not use the word in contrast with all or few, but only with one. Some of the Jews strain this expression to mean the restoration of the Church in this world under themselves, which is perfectly frivolous. In this case the following language would not be correct, — -Some shall rise to life, and others to disgrace and contempt. Hence if this concerned none but the Church of God, certainly none would rise to disgrace and condemnation. This shews the angel to be treating of the last resurrection, which is common to all, and allows of no exceptions. I have lately explained why he calls our attention to the advent of Christ. Since all flyings in the world will be constantly confused, our minds must necessarily be raised upwards, and gain the victory over what we observe with our eyes, and comprehend with our outward senses.

Those who sleep in the earth and the dust; meaning, wherever the earth and dust exist, nevertheless they shall rise, implying the hope of a resurrection not founded on natural causes, but depending upon the inestimable power of God, which surpasses all our senses. Hence, although the elect as well as the wicked shall be reduced to earth and dust, this shall by no means form an obstacle to God’s raising them up again. He uses earth and dust. In my judgment tmda, admeth, “of the earth,” is the genus, and rp[, gnepher, “dust,” is the species, meaning, although they are only putrid carcasses, yet they shall be reduced to dust, which is minute particles of earth. God, then, is endued with sufficient power to call forth the dead to newness of life. This passage is worthy of especial notice, because the prophets do not contain any clearer testimony than this to the last resurrection, particularly as the angel distinctly asserts the future rising again of both the righteous and the wicked. Eternity is here opposed to those temporal miseries to which we are now subjected. Here we may notice the admonition of Paul, that those momentary afflictions by which God tries us, cannot be compared with that eternal glory which never shall cease. (<450818>Romans 8:18.) This, therefore, is the reason why the angel so clearly expresses, that eternal life awaits the elect, and eternal disgrace and condemnation will be the lot of the ungodly. He afterwards subjoins, —

<271203>Daniel 12:3

3. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever.

3. Et prudentes fulgebunt quasi fulgor expansionis, f581 et qui justificant multos, f582 sicut stellae in seculum et seculum, id est, in perpetuum.

 

The word “prudent” means endued with intellect. Some take it transitively, and in this passage their opinion is probably correct, because the office of justifying will soon be assigned to these prudent ones. But the former sense suits chapter 11 better, and in verse 10 it will be put absolutely. Hence it means those who are endued with understanding. The angel here confirms what I have lately expressed concerning the final resurrection, and shews how we shall enjoy its fruits, because eternal glory is laid up for us in heaven. We ought not to complain of being treated unworthily, whenever we seem to suffer harshness at God’s hands, because we ought to be satisfied with the glory of heaven, and with the perpetual existence of that life which has been promised to us. He says then, the teachers, or those who excel in understanding, shall shine forth as the light of heaven. If the word “teachers” is thought preferable, there will be a figure of speech, a part being put for the whole, and, therefore, I follow the usual explanation. He applies the phrase, “endued with understanding,” to those who do not depart from the true and pure knowledge of God, as will be afterwards explained more fully. For the angel contrasts the profane who proudly and contemptuously rage against God, and the faithful whose whole wisdom is to submit themselves to God, and to worship him with the purest affection of their minds. We shall say more on this subject to-morrow. But he now says, those who retained sincere piety should be like the light of the firmament; meaning, they shall be heirs of the kingdom of heaven, where they shall enjoy that glory which surpasses all the splendor of the world. No doubt, the angel here uses figures to explain what is incomprehensible, implying, nothing can possibly be found in the world which answers to the glory of the elect people.

And those who shall justify many shall be like stars, says he. He repeats the same thing in other words, and now speaks of stars, having formerly used the phrase, the brightness of the firmament, in the same sense; and instead of “those who are endued with understanding,” he says, those who shall have justified. Without doubt, the angel here especially denotes the teachers of the truth, but in my opinion he embraces also all the pious worshippers of God. No one of God’s children ought to confine their attention privately to themselves, but as far as possible, every one ought to interest himself in the welfare of his brethren. God has deposited the teaching of his salvation with us, not for the purpose of our privately keeping it to ourselves, but of our pointing out the way of salvation to all mankind. This, therefore, is the common duty of the children of God, — to promote the salvation of their brethren. By this word “justifying,” the angel means, not that it is in the power of one man to justify another, but the property of God is here transferred to his ministers. Meanwhile, we are as clearly justified by any teaching which brings faith within our reach, as we are justified by the faith which springs from the teaching. Why is our justification ever ascribed to faith? Because our faith directs us to Christ in whom is the complete perfection of justification, and thus our justification may be ascribed equally to the faith taught and the doctrine which teaches it. And those who bring before us this teaching are the ministers of our justification. The assertion of the angel, in other words, is this, — The sons of God, who being devoted entirely to God and ruled by the spirit of prudence, point out the way of life to others, shall not only be saved themselves, but shall possess surpassing glory far beyond anything which exists in this world. This is the complete explanation. Hence, we gather the nature of true prudence to consist in submitting ourselves to God in simple teachableness, and in manifesting the additional quality of carefully promoting the salvation of our brethren. The effect of this our labor ought to increase our courage and alacrity. For how great is the honor conferred upon us by our Heavenly Father, when he wishes us to be the ministers of his righteousness? As James says, We preserve those about to perish if we bring them back into the right way. (<590519>James 5:19.) James calls us preservers, just as the angel calls us justifiers; neither the angel nor the apostle wish to detract from the glory of God, but by these forms of speech the Spirit represents us as ministers of justification and salvation, when we unite in the same bonds with ourselves all those who have need of our assistance and exertions. It follows next: —

<271204>Daniel 12:4

4. But thou, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.

4. Et tu Daniel, claude, vel, obsera verba, sermones, et obsigna librum ad tempus finis; discurrent multi, et augebitur scientia.

 

We have already explained “the time of the end” is a period previously fixed on by God, and settled by his own counsel. The following word refers to tracing out and:running to and fro, but not necessarily in a bad sense, while it also signifies to investigate. Interpreters explain the angel’s meaning, as if many should be unworthy to receive this prophecy from Daniel; and hence it was to be closed up and only enigmatically delivered to a few, because scarcely one in a hundred would attend to what he had delivered. I think the Holy Spirit has a different intention here. The angel’s advice is this, There is no reason why this prophecy should cause despondency or dismay, because few should receive it. Although it should be universally despised and ridiculed, nevertheless shut it up like a precious treasure. Isaiah has a passage nearly similar, (<230816>Isaiah 8:16,) Close up nay law, seal the testimony among my disciples. Isaiah’s spirit would be broken when he perceived himself an object of universal derision, and God’s sacred oracles trodden under foot; thus he might lose all courage and decline the office of a teacher. But God affords him comfort: Close up, says he, nay law among my disciples, and do not notice this profane crew; although they all despise thy teaching, do not suppose thy voice deserves their ridicule; close it up, close it up among my disciples, says he; how few soever may embrace thy teaching, yet let it remain sacred and laid up in the hearts of the pious. The Prophet afterwards says, Behold nay children with me. Here he boasts in his contentment with very few, and thus triumphs over the impious and insolent multitude. Thus at the present time in the Papacy and throughout the whole world, impiety prevails so extensively that there is scarcely a single corner in which the majority agree in true obedience to God. As God foresaw how very few would embrace this prophecy with becoming reverence, the angel desired to animate the Prophet, lest he should grow weary, and esteem this prophecy as of little value, in consequence of its failing to command the applause of the whole world.

Close up the book, then but what does the phrase imply? Not to hide it from all men, but to satisfy the Prophet when he saw but few reverently embracing the teaching so plainly laid before him by the angel. This is not properly a command; the angel simply tells Daniel to hide or seal up this book and these words, offering him at the same time much consolation. If all men despise thy doctrine, and reject what thou dost set before them, — if the majority pass it by contemptuously, shut it up and seal it, not treating it as valueless, but preserving it as a treasure. I deposit it with time, do thou lay it up among my disciples. Thou, Daniel; here the Prophet’s name is mentioned. If thou thinkest thyself to be alone, yet companions shall be afterwards added to thee who shall treat this prophecy with true piety. Shut up, then, and seal it, even, till the time of the end; for God will prove by the event that he has not spoken in vain, and experience will shew me to have been sent by him, as every occurrence has been previously predicted. It now follows, —

Many shall investigate, and knowledge shall increase. Some writers take this second clause in a contrary sense, as if many erratic spirits should run about with vague speculations, and wander from the truth. But this is too forced. I do not hesitate to suppose the angel to promise the arrival of a period when God should collect many disciples to himself, although at the beginning they should be very few and insignificant. Many, then, shall investigate; meaning, though they are most careless and slothful, while boasting themselves God’s people, yet God should gather to himself a great multitude from other quarters. Small indeed and insignificant is the apparent number of the faithful who care for the truth of God, and who shew any eagerness to learn it, but let not this scantiness move thee. The sons of God shall soon become increased. Many shall investigate, and knowledge shall increase. This prophecy shall not always be buried in obscurity; the Lord will at length cause many to embrace it to their own salvation. This event really came to pass. Before Christ’s coming, this doctrine was not esteemed according to its value. The extreme ignorance and grossness of the people is notorious, while their religion was nearly overthrown till God afterwards increased his Church. And at the present time any one who will carefully consider this prediction will experience its utility. This can scarcely be fully expressed in words; for, unless this prophecy had been preserved and laid up like an inestimable treasure, much of our faith would have passed away. This divine assistance affords us strength, and enables us to overcome all the attacks of the world and of the devil.

PRAYER.

Grant, Almighty God, as we have to engage in battle through the whole course of our lives, and our strength is liable to fail in various ways, that we may be supported by thy power and thus persevere unto the end. May we never grow weary, but learn to overcome the whole world, and to look forward to that happy eternity to which thou invitest us. May we never hesitate while Christ thy Son fights for us, in whose hand and power our victory is placed, and may he ever admit us into alliance with himself in that conquest which he has procured for us, until at length he shall gather us at the last day into the enjoyment of that triumph in which he has gone before us. — Amen.


Lecture Sixty-Sixth.

<271205>Daniel 12:5-7

5. Then I Daniel looked, and, behold, there stood other two, the one on this side of the bank of the river, and the other on that side of the bank of the river.

5. Et aspexi ego Daniel, et ecce duo alii stantes, unus hac ad ripam fluminis, et unus, id est, alter, illac ad ripam fluminis. f583

6. And one said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?

6. Et dixit ad virum qui indutus erat lineis, vestibus subaudiendum est, qui erat supra aquas fluminis, f584 Quousque finis mirabilium?

7. And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and swear by him that liveth forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.

7. Et audivi virum indutum lineis, qui erat supra aquas fluvii, et sustulit dextram suam, et sinistram suam versus coelos, et juravit per viventem in aeternum, quod ad tempus praefixum, tempora praefixa, et dimidium: et ut consumpserint, vel, compleverint, dispersionem, vel, contritionem, manus populi sancti, complebuntur omnia haec.

 

Daniel here relates his vision of other angels standing on each bank of the river. He alludes to the Tigris which he had previously mentioned, as the vision was offered to him there. He says, One asked the other, How long will it be to the end? He who was asked, swore, with hands upraised to heaven, by the living God, that no single prediction was in vain, since the truth would be evident in its own period, and men must wait for the time, times, and half a time. This is a summary of the passage. When he says he beheld, he commends to our notice the certainty of the vision. Unless he had been attentive, and had applied his mind seriously to these mysteries, his narrative would have failed to produce confidence. But as his mind was completely calm, and he was desirous of receiving the instruction conveyed by God through his angel, not the slightest doubt can be thrown upon what he so faithfully delivers to us. He speaks of angels as if they were men, for the reason previously assigned. He does not imply their being really men, but uses that expression in consequence of their outward appearance, for as they had a human face, they were called men. I do not assert their bodies to be merely imaginary, nor will I say Daniel saw only special forms and human shapes, for God might have clothed his angels in real bodies for the time, and yet they would not on that account become men. For Christ took upon Him our flesh and was truly man, while He was God manifest in flesh. (<540316>1 Timothy 3:16.) But this is not true of angels, who received only a temporary body while performing the duties of their office. There is no doubt of this assertion, — the name of “men” cannot properly belong to angels, but it suits yew well the human form or likeness which they sometimes wore.

It does not surprise us to find one angel questioning another. When Paul is extolling the mystery of the calling of the Gentiles, which had been hidden from the preceding ages, he adds, — it was an object of wonder to angels, as they had never hoped for it, and so it had not been revealed to them. (<490310>Ephesians 3:10.) So wonderfully does God work in his Church, that he causes admiration among the angels in heaven, by leaving many things unknown to them, as Christ testifies concerning the last day. (<402436>Matthew 24:36.) This is the reason why the angel uses the interrogation, How long is it to the end of these wonders? God doubtless here urged the angel to inquire into an event veiled in obscurity, for the purpose of waking up our attention. Absurd indeed would it be for us to pass by these things with inattention, when angels themselves display such anxiety by their questions, while they perceive traces of the secret power of God. Unless we are remarkably stupid, this doubt of the angel ought to stir us up to greater diligence and attention. This also is the force of the word twalp phlaoth, “wonderful things;” for the angel calls everything which he did not understand, wonderful. If the comparison be allowable, how great would be our ingratitude not to give our whole attention to the consideration of these mysteries which angels are compelled to confess to be beyond their grasp! The angel, as if he were astonished, calls those things “wonderful” which were hidden not only from the minds of men, but also from himself and his companions. But the other answers; whence some difference, although not a perpetual one, exists between the angels. The philosophy of Dionysius ought not to be admitted here, who speculates too cunningly, or rather too profanely, when treating the order of angels. But I only state the existence of some difference, because God assigns various duties to certain angels, and he dispenses to each a certain measure of grace and revelation, according to his pleasure. We know there is but one teacher of men and angels, — the Son of God, who is his eternal wisdom and truth. This passage may be referred to Christ, but as I cannot make any positive assertion, I am content with the simple statement already made. He states this angel’s clothing to have been linen garments, implying splendor. Linen garments were then of great value; hence an ornament and decoration is here applied to angels, as God separates them from the common herd of men. Thus Daniel would the more easily comprehend these persons not to be earth-born mortals, but angels clad by God for a short period in the human form.

He says, This angel raised up his hands to heaven. Those who consider this action as a symbol of power are mistaken, for without doubt the Prophet intended to manifest the usual method of swearing. They usually raised the right hand, according to the testimony of numerous passages of Scripture. I have raised my hand towards God. (<011422>Genesis 14:22.) Here the angel raises both his hands, wishing by this action to express the importance of the subject. Thus to raise both hands, as if doubling the oath, is stronger than raising the right hand after the ordinary manner. We must consider then the use of both hands as intended to confirm the oath, as the subject was one of great importance. It follows, for a time, times, and half a time. I have stated my objection to the opinion of those who think one year, and two, and a half, to be here intended. I confess the passage ought to be understood of that pollution of the Temple which the Prophet has already treated. History clearly assures us that the Temple was not cleansed till the close of the third year, and seven or eight months afterwards. That explanation may suit its own passage, but with reference to the doctrine here delivered, its meaning is very simple, time means a long period, times, a longer period, and a half means the end or closing period. The sum of the whole is this’ many years must elapse before God fulfills what his Prophet had declared. Time therefore signifies a long period; times, double this period; as if he had said, While the sons of God are kept in suspense so long without obtaining an answer to their petitions, the time will be prolonged, nay, even doubled. We see then that a time does not mean precisely one year, nor do times signify two years, but an indefinite period. With respect to the half of a time, this is added for the comfort of the pious, to prevent their sinking under the delay, because God does not accomplish their desire. Thus they rest patiently until this “time” as well as “the times” pass away. Besides, the issue is set before them by the words half a time, to prevent them from despairing through excessive weariness. I admit the allusion to years, but the words are not to be understood literally but metaphorically, signifying, as I have already stated, an indefinite period.

He afterwards adds, And in the complement or consumption of the dispersion or contrition of the hand of God’s people, all these things shall be fulfilled: first, the time must pass away, next, the times must be added, then the half time must follow; all these things must arrive at their accomplishment, and when they are thoroughly completed, says he, then will come the contrition of the hand of the holy people. The angel again proclaims how the Church of God should be oppressed by many calamities; and thus the whole of this verse contains an exhortation to endurance, to prevent the faithful from becoming utterly hopeless, and completely losing their spirits, in consequence of their suffering severe and multiplied cares, not for a few months merely, but for a lengthened duration. He uses this phrase, the wearing down of the hand of the holy peopleif you please to read it so — metaphorically, meaning, the holy people should be deprived of strength, just as if their hands were completely worn down. Whatever agility men possess is usually shewn in the hands, and they were given to men by God for the special purpose of being extended to all parts of the body, and for executing the ordinary operations of mankind. This metaphor is now very suitable, as the people were so mutilated, as to be deprived of all strength and rigor. This is a slight sketch of the meaning of the clause.

If we read “dispersion” according to the common signification, it will suit very well, since the hand of the holy people should be dispersed; meaning, the Church should be a stranger in the world, and be dispersed throughout it. This was continually fulfilled from that day to the present. How sad is the dispersion of the Church in these days! God indeed defends it by His power, but this is beyond human expectation For how does the body of the Church now appear to us? how has it appeared throughout all ages? surely it has ever been torn in pieces and dispersed. Hence the angel’s prediction is not in vain, if we adopt the interpretation — the hand of the holy people should be dispersed — but yet the end should be prosperous, as he had previously announced, when treating of its resurrection and final salvation. It now follows:

<271208>Daniel 12:8

8. And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?

8. Et ego audivi, et non intellexi: et dixi, Domine mi, quod postremum horum? f585

 

Now Daniel begins to ask questions in accordance with the angel’s example. He had first heard one angel inquiring of the other; he next summons up courage, and becomes desirous of information, and asks what should be the end or issue? He says, he heard without understanding. By the word “hearing,” he bears witness to the absence of ignorance, slothfulness, or contempt. Many depart without any perception of a subject, although it may be very well explained, because they were not attentive to it. But here the Prophet asserts that he heard; implying, it would be no fault of his diligence if he did not understand, because he was desirous of learning, and had exerted all his powers, as we formerly intimated, and yet he confesses he did not understand. Daniel does not mean to profess utter stupidity, but restricts his ignorance to the subject of this interrogation. Of what then was Daniel ignorant? Of the final issue. He could not attain unto the meaning of these predictions, which were so extremely obscure, and this was needful to their full and thorough comprehension. It is quite clear that God never utters his word without expecting fruit; as it is said in Isaiah, I have not spoken unintelligibly, nor have I said to the seed of Jacob, seek ye me in vain. (<234519>Isaiah 45:19.) God was unwilling to leave his Prophet in this perplexity of hearing without understanding, but we are aware of distinct degrees of proficiency in the school of God. Again, sufficient revelation was notoriously conferred upon the prophets for the discharge of their office, and yet none of them ever perfectly understood the predictions they delivered. We know, too, what Peter says, They ministered more for our times than for their own. (<600112>1 Peter 1:12.) They were by no means useless to their own age, but when our age is compared with theirs, certainly the instruction and discipline of the prophets is more useful to us, and produces richer and riper fruit in our age than in theirs. We are not surprised, then, at Daniel confessing he did not understand, so long as we restrict the words to this single instance. It now follows: —

<271209>Daniel 12:9

9. And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.

9. Et dixit, Vade Daniel, quia clausi sunt, et obsignati sermones ad tempus finis. f586

 

Although Daniel was not induced by any foolish curiosity to inquire of the angel the issue of these wonderful events, yet he did not obtain his request. God wished some of his predictions to be partially understood, and the rest to remain concealed until the full period of the complete revelation should arrive. This is the reason why the angel did not reply to Daniel. The wish in truth was pious, and, as we have previously stated, it did not contain anything unlawful; but God, knowing what was good for him, did not grant his request. He is dismissed by the angel, because the words were shut up and sealed. The angel uses this expression in a sense different from the former one. For he ordered Daniel to close and seal the words like precious treasures, as they would be set at naught by many disbelievers, and by almost the whole people. Here then, he says, the words were closed up and sealed, as there was no fitting occasion for revealing them. As if he had said, nothing has been predicted either vainly or rashly, but the full blaze of light has not yet been thrown upon the prediction: hence we must wait until the truth itself is proved by the event, and thus the divine utterance of the angel is made manifest. This is the summary. He then says, until the time of the end. Some one might possibly object; then for what purpose was this prediction delivered? For Daniel himself, who was instructed by the angel, could not thoroughly comprehend his own message, and the rest of the faithful, although versed in these prophetic studies, felt themselves in a labyrinth here. The answer is at hand, until the time of the end; and we must also remember that neither Daniel nor the rest of the faithful were deprived of all the advantage of this prophecy, for God explained to them whatever was sufficient for the necessities of their own times. I must pass over some points slightly, with the view of finishing to-day. It follows —

<271210>Daniel 12:10

10. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.

10. Mundabuntur, et dealbabuntur, et fundentur multi, f587 et impie se gerent impii: et non intelligent omnes impii, et prudentes intelligent.

 

Again, the angel mentions the persecutions which were at hand for the purpose of arming the faithful for the approaching conflicts. We know from other sources how tender and weak our minds naturally are, for as soon as any cause for fear arises, before it comes to blows, we fall down lifeless through terror. As, therefore, our natural imbecility is so great, we necessarily require many stimulants to patience, and to urge us to contend with earnestness, and never to yield to any temptations. This is the reason why the angel announces the necessity for such multiplied purification’s, to cleanse them, as wheat from chaff; to whiten them, as cloth by the fuller; and to melt them, as metal to be separated from dross. First of all, as I have previously explained, he admonishes Daniel and all the pious of the future state of the Church, to lead them to prepare and gird themselves for battle, and to gather up their unconquered fortitude, since the condition of life set before them is that of forcing their way through the midst of troubles. This is one point. Again, the angel shews the practical utility of this kind of life, which might otherwise seem too bitter. We naturally refuse the cross because we feel it contrary to our disposition, while God shews the pious that nothing can be more profitable to them than a variety of afflictions. This is a second point. But afflictions by themselves might possibly consume us, and hence we are cast into a furnace. Now, then, could we expect these sufferings to promote our salvation, except God changed their nature in some wonderful way, as their natural tendency is to effect our destruction? But while we are melted down, and whitened, and cleansed, we perceive how God consults for our welfare by pressing us with his cross and causing us to submit to adversity. Now, thirdly, the angel shews the insufficiency of one single act of cleansing, and our need of many more. This is the object of this numerous heaping together of words, they shall be cleansed, and whitened, and melted down, or poured forth. He might have embraced the whole idea in a single word; but, as through our whole lives God never ceases to test us in various ways, the angel heaps together these three words to shew the faithful their need of continual cleansing as long as they are clothed in flesh; just as garments which are in daily use have need of continual washing. However snowy a mantle may be, it becomes soiled immediately when used for even a single day; requiring constant ablution to restore it to its original purity. Thus we are brought in contact with the defilement’s of sin; and as long as we are pilgrims in this world, we necessarily become subject to constant pollution. And as the faithful also are infected with the contagion of numerous iniquities, they require daily purification’s hi different ways. We ought, then, diligently to notice these three distinct processes.

The angel afterwards adds, The impious will act impiously, and will never understand anything; but the prudent will be ever endued with intelligence. Here he wishes to fortify the pious against a stumbling block in their way, when they see the profane despisers of God exulting in every direction, and defying God to his face. When the faithful see the world so full of the impious, they seem to be indulging so freely in lust as if there were no God in heaven’ time they are naturally subject to grievous sorrow and distress. To prevent this trial from agitating their minds, the angel announces how the impious should conduct themselves impiously; implying, — there is no reason why thou, O Daniel, or the rest of the righteous, should depend upon the example of others; Satan will cunningly set before you whatever obstacles may draw you into the contempt of God, and the abyss of impiety, unless you are remarkably cautious; but let not the conduct of the impious cause either you or the rest of the pious to stumble. Howsoever they conduct themselves, do you stand invincible. He afterwards assigns a reason for their behavior — they understand nothing, they are perfectly blinded. But what is the source of this blindness? Their being given over to a reprobate sense. If any one should see a blind man fall, and should cast himself down after this blind man, would he be excusable? Surely his blindness was the cause of his perishing so miserably, but why does the other person destroy himself willingly? Whenever we see the impious rushing furiously on to their destruction, while God is admonishing them that their blindness proceeds from Satan, and that they are given over to a reprobate mind, are we not doubly mad if we willingly follow them? The cause then of this impious behavior on the part of the wicked, is added with good reason; namely, they understand nothing. Meanwhile, the faithful are recalled to the true remedy, and the angel subjoins, But the prudent shall understand, meaning they shall not permit themselves to be implicated in the errors of those whom they see entirely devoted to their own destruction. Lastly, the angel points out to us the true remedy which will prevent Satan from drawing us off towards impiety, and the impious from infecting us with their evil examples, if we earnestly apply ourselves to the pursuit of heavenly doctrine. If, therefore, we heartily desire to be taught by God and to become his true disciples, the instruction which we derive from him will snatch us from destruction. This is the true sense of the passage. It afterwards follows, —

<271211>Daniel 12:11-12

11. And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.

11. Et a tempore quo ablatum fuerit juge, nempe sacrificium, et posita fuerit abominatio obstupefaciens, f588 erunt dies mille ducenti et nonaginta.

12. Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.

12. Beatus qui expectaverit, et attigerit usque ad dies mille trecentos et triginta quinque.

 

Inconsequence of the obscurity of this passage it has been twisted in a variety of ways. At the end of the ninth chapter I have shewn the impossibility of its referring to the profanation of the Temple which occurred under the tyranny of Antiochus; on this occasion the angel bears witness to such a complete destruction of the Temple, as to leave no room for the hope of its repair and restoration. Then the circumstances of the time convinces us of this. For he then said, Christ shall confirm the covenant with many for one week, and shall cause the sacrifices and oblation to cease. Afterwards, the abomination that stupifieth shall be added, and desolation or stupor, and then death will distill, says he, upon the astonished or stupefied one. The angel, therefore, there treats of the perpetual devastation of the Temple. So in this passage, without doubt;, he treats of the period after the destruction of the Temple; there could be no hope of restoration, as the law with all its ceremonies would then arrive at its termination. With This view Christ quotes this passage in Matthew 24, while he admonishes his hearers diligently to attend to it. Let him who reads, understand, says he. We have stated this prophecy to be obscure, and hence it requires no ordinary degree of the closest attention. First of all, we must hold this point; the time now treated by the angel begins at the last destruction of the Temple. That devastation happened as soon as the gospel began to be promulgated. God then deserted his Temple, because it was only founded for a time, and was but a shadow, until the Jews so completely violated the whole covenant that no sanctity remained in either the Temple, the nation, or the land itself. Some restrict this to those standards which Tiberius erected on the very highest pinnacle of the Temple, and others to the statue of Caligula, but I have already stated my view of these opinions as too forced. I have no hesitation in referring this language of the angel to that profanation of the Temple which happened after the manifestation of Christ, when sacrifices ceased, and the shadows of the law were abolished. From the time, therefore, at which the sacrifice really ceased to be offered; this refers to the period at which Christ by his advent should abolish the shadows of the law, thus making all offering of sacrifices to God totally valueless. From that time, therefore. Next, from the time at which the stupefying abomination shall have been set up. God’s wrath followed the profanation of the Temple. The Jews never anticipated the final cessation of their ceremonies, and always boasted in their peculiar external worship, and unless God had openly demonstrated it before their eyes, they would never have renounced their sacrifices and rites as mere shadowy representations. Hence Jerusalem and their Temple were exposed to the vengeance of the Gentiles. This, therefore, was the setting up of this stupefying abomination; it was a clear testimony to the wrath of God, exhorting the Jews in their confusion to boast no longer in their Temple and its holiness.

Therefore, from that period there shall be 1290 days. These days make up three years and a half. I have no hesitation in supposing the angel to speak metaphorically. As he previously put one year, or two years, and half a year, for long duration of time, and a happy issue, so he now puts 1290 days. And for what reason? To shew us what must happen when anxieties and troubles oppress us. If a man should fall sick, he will not say, Here I have already been one month, but I have a year before me — he will not say, Here I have been three days, but now I languish wretchedly for thirty or sixty. The angel, then, purposely puts days for years, implying — although that time may seem immeasurably prolonged, and may frighten us by its duration, and completely prostrate the spirits of the pious, yet it must be endured. The number of days then is 1290, yet there is no reason why the sons of God should despair in consequence of this number, because they ought always to return to this principle — if those afflictions await us for a time and times, the half time will follow afterwards.

Then he adds, Happy is he who shall have waited and endured until the 1335 days. In numerical calculations I am no conjurer, and those who expound this passage with too great subtlety, only trifle in their own speculations, and detract from the authority of the prophecy. Some think the days should be understood as years, and thus make the number of years 2600. The time which elapsed from this prophecy to the advent of Christ was about 600 years. From this advent 2000 years remain, and they think this is the assigned period until the end of the world, as the law also flourished about 2000 years from the date of its promulgation to its fulfillment at Christ’s advent. Hence they fix upon this sense. But they are quite wrong in separating the 1290 days from the 1335, for they clearly refer to the same period, with a slight exception. It is as if the angel had said, although half the time should be prorogued, yet the faithful ought constantly to persist in the hope of deliverance. For he adds, about two months, or a month and a half, or thereabouts. By half a time, we said, the issue was pointed out, as Christ informs us in <402422>Matthew 24:22. Unless those days had been shortened, no flesh would have been safe. Reference is clearly made here to that abbreviation of the time for the Church’s sake. But the angel now adds forty-five days, which make a month and a half, implying — God will put off the deliverance of his Church beyond six months, and yet we must be strong and of good courage, and persevere in your watchfulness. God at length will not disappoint you — he will succor you in all your woes, and gather you to his blessed rest. Hence, the next clause of the prophecy is this, —

<271213>Daniel 12:13

13. But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.

13. Et tu vade ad finem, et quiesces, et stabis in sorte tua ad finem dierum.

 

Here the angel repeats what he had said before, the, full time of perfect light had not yet arrived, because God wished to hold the minds of his people in suspense until the manifestation of Christ. The angel, therefore, dismisses the Prophet, and in commanding him to depart, says — Be content with thy lot, for God wishes to put off the complete manifestation of this prophecy to another time, which he himself knows to be the fitting one. He afterwards adds, And then shalt rest and shalt stand. Others translate it, rest and stand; but the angel does not seem to me to command or order what he wishes to be done, but to announce future events, as if he had said, — Thou shalt rest, meaning, thou shalt die, and then thou shalt stand; meaning, thy death shall not be complete destruction. For God shall cause thee to stand in thy lot with the rest of the elect; and that, too, at the end of the days, in thy lot; that is, after God has sufficiently proved the patience of his people, and by long and numerous, nay, infinite contests, has humbled his Church, and purged it, until the end shall arrive. At that final period thou shalt stand in thine own lot, although a time of repose must necessarily intervene.

PRAYER.

Grant, Almighty God, since thou proposest to us no other end than that of constant warfare during our whole life, and subjectest us to many cares until we arrive at the goal of this temporary race-course: Grant, I pray thee, that we may never grow fatigued. May we ever be armed and equipped for battle, and whatever the trials by which thou dost prove us, may we never be found deficient. May we always aspire towards heaven with upright souls, and strive with all our endeavors to attain that blessed rest which is laid up for us in heaven, in Jesus Christ our Lord. — Amen.

Praise be to God.


DISSERTATIONS

Dissertation 1

THE THIRD YEAR OF KING JEHOIAKIM.

DANIEL 1:1

A Correct idea of the scope and interpretation of these prophecies cannot be obtained without a due attention to the chronology of the events recorded. Hence, throughout these Dissertations it will be necessary to discuss some apparently unimportant points, and to combat some seemingly harmless opinions. We are thus compelled to enter into details which some may pronounce devoid of interest, but which will prove worth the labor bestowed upon them.

The necessity for comment on this first verse arises from the difficulty of reconciling its statement with the twenty-fifth chapter of Jeremiah. The relation of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar must be harmonized with those of the three last kings of Judah, to enable us to reconcile Daniel and Jeremiah. We must first ascertain the historical events which concern Jehoiakim, and fix their dates by comparing the Books of Kings and Chronicles, and the various allusions to him in Ezekiel and other prophets. Next, we must accurately define the events of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign; and afterwards so compare them as to draw a correct inference from the whole, notwithstanding much apparent discrepancy. This has been done by some commentators, the results of whose labors will here, be placed before the reader. Willet’s remark on Calvin is worthy of notice: “Calvin thinketh to dissolve this knot by the distinction of Nebuchadnezzar the father, and Nebuchadnezzar the son; that in one place the one is spoken of, and the other in the other, but the question is not concerning the year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, but the year of Jehoiakim’s reign wherein Jerusalem should be besieged; so that the doubt remaineth still.” f323 He also answers Calvin’s solution, by referring Nebuchadnezzar’s second year not to the period of his reign, but “rather to the time of Daniel’s ministry and employment with the king, that in the second year of his service he expounded the king’s dream.” Many learned Jews are of opinion that the last year of Jehoiakim’s reign is intended, meaning the last of his independent sovereignty, since they treat him in former years as simply a tributary king to either the Egyptians or Babylonians. Josephus in his Antiq., (Book 10:6,) is supposed to favor this theory; for he places Nebuchadnezzar’s attack in the eighth year of Jehoiakim’s reign, and does not allude to any previous one. Wintle, however, does not consider that the words of Josephus justify this inference, f324 and suggests that the difference in the methods used by the Jews and Babylonians in computing their years, may tend to obviate the inconsistency. Wintle suggests some reasons for dating the commencement of the seventy years’ captivity from the completion of the siege in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, when Daniel and his associates were among the first captives. Prideaux supposes this event to have occurred six hundred and six years A.C., or the one hundred and forty-second year of Nabonassar’s era; Vignoles and Blair fix the year following. Wintle agrees with the latter date, supposing the captivity not to continue during seventy solar years, and fixing their termination about 536 A.C.

Another commentator, who has paid great attention to chronology, deserves special notice, since he advocates a new theory respecting Cyrus and Nebuchadnezzar, which is worthy of remark, though it has been severely criticized. The Duke Of Manchester has an elaborate chapter on this date, from which we shall extract the conclusions at which he has arrived. He understands “Daniel to speak of Jehoiakim’s independent reign, reckoning from the time that he rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar.” f325 Jehoiakim was taken captive in the seventh of Nebuchadnezzar.

The oldest expositors felt the difficulty of the passage. Rabbi Solomon Jarchi asks, “How can this be said?” and then replies as follows: — This was the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar and the third of Jehoiakim’s rebellion against him.

Hengstenberg has not been forgetful to defend our Prophet from the charge of historical inaccuracy, to which this verse has given rise. He treats the assumption, that Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem before his accession to the throne, as inadmissible. “The assertion of his being associated by his father in the co-regency at that time is not adequately sustained.” f326 Ch. B. Michaelis and Bertholdt have made various attempts to reconcile the discrepancy. “The assumption,” says Hengstenberg, “that Nebuchadnezzar undertook his first expedition in the eighth year of Jehoiakim, is an hypothesis grounded merely on one passage.” Still, this passage, far from containing an error, affords a striking proof of the writer’s historical knowledge. Berosus, as quoted by Josephus, (Arch. 10:11, 1,)narrates the victory of Nebuchadnezzar at Carchemish, which occurred about the close of Jehoiakim’s third year. Carchemish was a city on the banks of the Euphrates, taken by Pharaoh-Necho about three years previously. Immediately after this victory, the conqueror marched against Jerusalem and took it. The process by which Hengstenberg arrives at this result, the various authors whom he quotes, and the complete refutation which he supplies of all the conjectures of his Neologian opponents, will be found amply detailed in the valuable work already quoted. Rosenmuller also discusses the point, but leans too much to those writers whom Hengstenberg refutes.


Dissertation 2

NEBUCHADNEZZAR — ONE KING OR TWO?

Chapter 1:1

The difficulty of reconciling the various statements of Scripture with themselves and with profane history, has raised the question whether there were two Nebuchadnezzar’s or only one. The Duke Of Manchester is a strenuous advocate for the former hypothesis, and his view of the case is worthy of perusal. The first king he supposes to have overthrown Nechos army in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, as we have already stated. He came from the north into Judea, and took the people captive after the overthrow of Assyria. His eleventh year corresponds with the fourth of Zedekiah, while he reigned on the whole about twenty-nine years. He is to be identified with Cyrus, the father of Cambyses, well known in Persian history, so that the second Nebuchadnezzar was Cambyses himself. Although the astronomical Canon of Ptolemy is a formidable adversary, this writer shews much ingenuity in bending it to his purpose. The first king of this name began his reign A.C. 511, while Paulus Orosius determines the taking of Babylon “by Cyrus” about the time of the expulsion of the kings from Rome (A.C. 510.) Thus sixty-nine years elapsed between the overthrow of Necho and the conquest of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar the second; and in the eighteenth year of the reign of this latter king the golden image was set up.

Having identified the second king with Cambyses, this writer brings forward many testimonies in favor of his being a Persian, and shews that the Chaldeans were not Babylonians but Persians. He treats him as identical with the Persian Jemsheed, the contemporary of Pythagoras and Thales, and the founder of Pasargad and Persepolis, and justifies his positions by the authorities of Diocles, Hecataeus, Cedrenus, the Maccabees, Abydenus, and Alexander Polyhistor. “The evidence is deduced from direct testimony, from geographical position, from similarity in language and religion, in manners and customs, in personal character and alliances; from Babylonian bricks and cylinders; as also from historical synchronism’s and identity of actions.” f327 The statements of Herodotus are fully discussed and compared with the Egyptian sculptures, with the view of shewing that the second Nebuchadnezzar was the Cambyses of Herodotus, the son-in-law of Astyages and the conqueror of Egypt. The story of his madness, after profaning the temple of Apis, is said to apply accurately to this second monarch.

It could not be expected that a theory of this kind could be introduced into the world without severe and searching examination. Accordingly, Birks, in his preface to “The two later Visions of Daniel,” writes as follows: “I have examined closely the two difficulties which alone give a seeming strength to his Grace’s theory, — the succession of names in the Persian history, and the two covenants under Zerubbabel and Nehemiah, — and feel confident I can meet them both with a full and complete answer. It seems to me surprising that a paradox of two Scripture Nebuchadnezzar’s, and a Scripture Cyrus, totally unknown to profane history, in the reign of Longimanus, contemporary with Cimon and Pericles, can ever be received by any mind accustomed to pay the least regard to the laws of evidence. Every fresh inquiry has only increased my confidence in the usual chronology derived from the Canon of Ptolemy, and its truth, I believe, may be almost entirely established even by Scripture evidence alone.” Vaux, the learned author of “Nineveh and Persepolis,” furnishes a clear sketch of Nebuchadnezzar’s career, by combining the accounts of Herodotus and the Scriptures. In the thirty-first year of Josiah’s reign, Necho fought the battle of Megiddo, in which Josiah was mortally wounded. He then took Cadytis, “the holy city” of the Jews, and at length returned to Egypt with abundance of spoil. After a lapse of three years he invaded the territory of the king of Babylon. The reigning monarch — Nabopolassar — was aged and infirm; he gave the command of his army to his son Nebuchadnezzar, who defeated the Egyptians at Carcesium or Carchemish, and drove them out of Asia. He marched to Jerusalem, and reinstated Jehoiakim as its king, in subjection to himself; he spoiled the temple of the chief ornaments and vessels of value, and among the prisoners transmitted to Babylon were Daniel and his three friends. He next carried on war against the Egyptians, till the news of his father’s death caused his return. The revolt of Jehoiakim caused a second attack upon the city, and the carrying off of many prisoners, among whom was Ezekiel, to the banks of the distant Chebar. Zedekiah, the brother of Jehoiakim, having been placed on the throne, and having made an alliance with Pharaoh Hophra, the Apries of Herodotus, he is deposed by the King of Babylon, and carried captive in blindness and chains. Thus for the third and last time this conqueror invaded Judea and profaned the temple. After a lapse of four years he besieged Tyre; for thirteen years it resisted his arms, but was at length razed to the ground. He next succeeded in an expedition against Egypt, dethroned Apries, and leaving Amasis as his viceroy, returned to his imperial city. In the language of Jeremiah, “he arrayed himself with the land of Egypt, as a shepherd putteth on his garment.” He next occupies himself in beautifying the city, and erecting a palace of extraordinary magnificence, and in constructing those hanging gardens mentioned by Diodoras, Megasthenes, and Arrian. The remainder of his history is easily gathered from the Prophet’s narrative. “A careful consideration of the authorities seems to shew that Clinton is right in his supposition that the reign of this prince was about forty-four years in duration, and that he was succeeded after a short interval by Belshazzar.” f328 Willet arrives at the same conclusion as to the length of his reign by a different process of reasoning. The following dates are extracted from Prideaux, whose caution and accuracy are most commendable: —

A.C.

586. Tyre besieged.

570. The death of Apries, coincident with the dream of the tree, (Daniel 4,) after his last return from Egypt.

569. <270430>Daniel 4:30. Driven out into the fields.

563. Restored after seven years.

562. Death, after about forty-four years’ reign.

Another series of dates has been displayed by the author of “The Times of Daniel,” founded on a different chronological basis; we can only extract a few of them from pages 282, et seq.: —

B.C.

510. Babylon taken by Cyrus, and kings expelled from Rome.

507. Commencement of Jehoiakim’s independent reign. <270101>Daniel 1:1.

500. Nebuchadnezzar II. appointed; his dream. Daniel 2.

494. Golden Image set up. Daniel 3.

483. Nebuchadnezzar 1. died.

441. Nebuchadnezzar 2. died.

Dr. Wells has the following chronological arrangement of the chief events of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign: —

A.C.

607. He is this year taken by his father “as partner” in the kingdom, falling in with the latter part of the third year of Jehoiakim, (Daniel 1:l.)

606. Jehoiakim carried to Babylon with Daniel and others.

The first of the seventy years’ captivity.

605. His father died. Nabopolassar in Ptolemy’s Canon, the son’s name being Nabocolassor. The Canon allows him forty-three years from this period.

603. Daniel interprets his dream. Daniel 2

588. He re-takes Jerusalem and Zedekiah.

569. Returned to Babylon, is afflicted with insanity. Daniel 4.

562. He dies “a few days” after being restored to reason.


Dissertation 3.

THE ANCESTORS AND SUCCESSORS OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR.

<270101>Daniel 1:1

To understand aright the history of these times, we must take a cursory glance at the period both preceding and following that of the great Chaldean chieftain. His ancestors were largely concerned in the overthrow of the Assyrian empire. The origin of this monarchy is involved in great obscurity, and we are at this moment in a transition state with respect to our knowledge of its history. The deciphering of those inscriptions which have lately been brought home is rapidly proceeding, and will lead to a more complete knowledge of the events of this obscure epoch. Early in the Book of Genesis we read of Nimrod, the grandson of Ham, as the founder of an extensive monarchy in the land of Shinar. Out of this land he went forth into Ashur, or perhaps it is Ashur who went forth and built Nineveh and other cities. The records of succeeding ages are too few to enable us to follow the stream of history: we have nothing to guide us but myths, and legends, and traditionary sovereigns, whose names are but the fictions of imagination. It must never be forgotten that many centuries elapsed between Noah and Solomon, and that the most ancient profane history is comparatively modern. The late discoveries in Egypt, and the high state of civilization attained by these “swarthy barbarians,” have led the learned to the conclusion that we have hitherto lost many centuries between the flood and Abraham; and since the long list of Egyptian dynasties, as given by Manetho, has been proved accurate, it may fairly be supposed that the Assyrian sculptures will rather add to the credit of Ctesias than detract from it. At all events, Nineveh was “no mean city” when Athens was a marsh, and Sardis a rock. Whether Ninus is a fabulous creation or not, monarchs as mighty as the eagle-headed worshipper of Nisroch his god, swayed the scepter for ages over a flourishing and highly civilized people. Herodotus gives us a hint of the antiquity and pre-eminence of Assyria when he says, “The Medes were the first who began to revolt from the Assyrians, who had possessed the supreme command over Upper Asia for five hundred and twenty years.” Whether we adopt the view of Bishop Lowth or not, that Ninus lived in the time of the Judges, f329 we may correctly assume that some successful conqueror enlarged and beautified Babylon, five hundred years before the Chaldean era of Nabonassar, 747 A.C. Whatever the source of this wealth, whether derived from the spoils of conquered nations, according to Montesquieu, or from intercourse with India through Egypt, according to Bruce, f330 the lately discovered remains imply a very high style of art at a very remote period in the history of Assyria. The “Pul” of <121519>2 Kings 15:19, was by no means the founder of the monarchy, as Sir Isaac Newton and others have supposed; he was but one amidst those “servants of Bar,” whose names are now legible on the Nimroud obelisk in the British Museum. The next king mentioned in Scriptures is Tiglath-Pileser, whose name we have lately connected with Pul and Ashur; and after him follow Shalmaneser, Sennacherib, and Esarhaddon, the three kings who are thought to have built the palace at Khorsabad, founded Mespila, and constructed the lions in the south-west palace of Nimroud. As the Medes revolted first, so the Chaldeans rebelled afterwards, according to the usual law of separation from the parent stock, when the tribe or race grows strong enough to establish its independence. The first prince who is known to have lived after this revolt is Nabonassar, the founder of the era called by his name. In process of time, other kings arose and passed away, till in the thirty-first year of Manasseh, Esarhaddon died, after reigning thirteen years over Assyria and Babylon united. He was succeeded by his son Laosduchius, the Nabuchodonosor of the Book of Judith, whose successor commenced his reign in the fifty-first year of Manasseh, being the hundred and first of the above mentioned era. From this effeminate king his Chaldean general Nabopolassar wrested Babylon, and reigned over his native country twenty-one years. This revolt is said to have taken place in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, when the powers of Media uniting with the power of Babylonia, took and destroyed the great city of Nineveh, and reduced the people under the sway of the rising monarchy. His son Nebuchadnezzar is said to have married the daughter of Astyages, the king of the Medes, and thus brings down the history to the times of our Prophet.

Among the ancient cities of the world, Nineveh is conspicuous for its grandeur. The phrase of Jonah, “that great city,” is amply confirmed by the historian, Diodorus Siculus, (lib. 2 section. 23.) who uses precisely the same expression, recording its circumference as four hundred and eighty stadia, with high and broad walls. The inference from the statement of the Book of Jonah is, that it was populous, civilized, and extensive. The language of both Jonah and Nahum imply exactly what the buried sculptures have exhibited to us, a state of society highly organized, with various ranks, from the sovereign to the soldier and the workman, yet effeminated by luxury and self-indulgence. The expressions of Scripture give us exalted ideas of its size and splendor, while they assign its wickedness as a reason for the complete destruction by which it was annihilated. Prophet after prophet recognizes its surpassing opulence, its commercial greatness, and its deep criminality. The voice of Zephaniah is soon followed by the sword of Arbaces, and Sennacherib and Sardanapalus are eclipsed by the rising greatness of Nabopolassar and Cyaxares. Its temples and its palaces had become so encrusted in the soil during eight centuries of men, that Strabo knows it only as a waste, and Tacitus treats it as a Castellum; and in the thirteenth century of our era, Abulfaragius confirms the prophecy of Nahum and the narrative of Tacitus, by recording nothing but the existence of a small fortification on the eastern bank of the Tigris. f331

The dates assigned to these events vary considerably; the following may be trusted as the result of careful comparison. In the year A.C. 650, Nebuchodonosor is found on the throne of Assyria, “a date,” says Vaux, “which is determined by the coincidence with the forty-eighth year of Manasseh, and by the fact that his seventeenth year was the last of Phraortes, king of Media, A.C. 634. The Book of Judith informs us of an important engagement at Ragau between this Assyrian king and Arphaxad the king of the Medes. This victory at Ragau, or Rhages, occurred A.C. 634, just “fifty-seven years after the loss of Sennacherib’s army.” f332 After returning from Ecbatana, the capital of Media, the conqueror celebrated a banquet at Nineveh which lasted one hundred and twenty days. Cyaxares, the son of Phraortes, at length avenged his father’s death at Rhages, and by the aid of Nabopolassar, threw off the yoke of Assyria, attacked and took Nineveh about 606 A.C., and thus, by fixing the seat of empire at Babylon, blotted out the name of Nineveh from the page of the world’s history.

This renowned general is usually held to be the father of Nebuchadnezzar, on the authority of Berosus, as quoted by Josephus, and of the Astronomical Canon of Ptolemy. But the author of “The Times of Daniel” endeavors to identify him with either Sardanapalus or Esarhaddon; the arguments by which this supposition is supported will be found in detail in the work itself, while the original passages in Josephus and Eusebius are found at length in the notes to Grotius on “The truth of the Christian religion. f333 He died A.C. 695.

His Successors. — According to the Canon of Ptolemy, Evil-Merodach succeeded Nebuchadnezzar, reigned two years, and was slain by his brother-in-law Neri-Glissar, who reigned four years; his son, Laborosoarchod, reigned nine months, though quite a child, and was slain by Nabonadius, supposed to be Belshazzar, a grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, who reigned seventeen years. Evil-Merodach is mentioned in <122527>2 Kings 25:27, and <245231>Jeremiah 52:31, but not by Daniel, and this gives some countenance to the supposition, that Belshazzar was the son and not the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar. It is not easy to assign with certainty the correct dates to each of these kings, the reckoning of Josephus is here followed, which he derives from Berosus. The testimony of profane antiquity to the truth and historical accuracy of Daniel may be found in a convenient form in Kittos Bibli. Cyclop., Art. Nebuchadnezzar, page 406. The authorities are quoted at length, and the whole subject is ably elucidated. The limited space necessarily allowed for illustrating these Lectures, must be our apology for merely indicating where valuable information is to be obtained.

In the New Monthly Magazine for August and September 1845, there are two articles very full of illustration of our subject, by W. F. Ainsworth, entitled, The Rivers and Cities of Babylonia.


Dissertation 4

THE CHALDEANS.

Chapter 1:5

To determine the question which was raised in our last Dissertation, we must investigate the origin of the Chaldeans, as it was the tribe whence Nebuchadnezzar sprung. “The question,” says Heeren, “what the Chaldeans really were, and whether they ever properly existed as a nation, is one of the most difficult which history presents.” f334 They are first mentioned in Genesis (<011128>Genesis 11:28,) as Casdim, (Lecture 5;) they were situated north of Judea, and are identical with the people who should, according to Jeremiah, destroy the temple from the north. (<240113>Jeremiah 1:13, 14, etc.) They are not mentioned by name again in the books of Scripture till many centuries afterwards they had become a mighty nation. The word Chasdim in the Hebrew and Chasdaim in the Chaldee dialects, is clearly the same as the Greek Caldai~oi; and Gesenius supposing the root to have been originally card, refers them to the race inhabiting the mountains called by Xenophon Carduchi. Forster, indeed, has argued at considerable length in favor of their Arabian origin, and supposes them the well known Beni Khaled, a horde of Bedouin Arabs. f335 From this opinion we entirely dissent. The view of Gesenius in his Lectures at Halle in 1839, quoted in “The Times of Daniel,” appears preferable, — “The Chaldeans had their original seat on the east of the Tigris, south of Armenia, which we now call Koordistan; and, like the Koords in our day, they were warlike mountaineers, without agriculture, shepherds and robbers, and also mercenaries in the Assyrian army; so Xenophon found them.” f336 Vaux quotes Dicaearchus, a Greek historian of the time of Alexander the Great, as alluding to a certain Chaldean, a king of Assyria, who is supposed to have built Babylon; and in later times, Chaldea implied the whole of Mesopotamia around Babylon, which had also the name of Shiner. f337

Their religion and their language are also of importance. The former consisted in the worship of the heavenly bodies. They are supposed to have brought with them to Babylon a knowledge of astronomy superior to any then known, since they reduced their observations on the sun, moon, five planets, signs of the zodiac, and the rising and setting of the sun, to a regular system; and the Greeks are said by Herodotus to have derived from them the division of the day into twelve equal parts. f338 The lunar year was in common use, but the solar year, with its division of months similar to the Egyptian, was employed for astronomical purposes. The learned class gradually acquired the reputation and position of “priests,” and thus became astrologers and soothsayers, and “wise men” in their day and generation. Michaelis and Sehlozer consider their origin to be Sclavonic, and, consequently, distinct from the Babylonians, who were descendants of Shem.

Their Language. — The original language of this people is a point of great interest to the biblical critic. If the people were of old northern mountaineers, they spoke a language connected with the Indo-Persic and Indo-Germanic stem rather than the Semitic. In treating this question, we should always allow for the length of time which elapsed between the original outbreak of those hordes from their native hills; and their conquest of Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar. Gesenius, in his Lectures on Biblical Archaeology, reminds us of their being first tributary to the Assyrians, of their subsequent occupation of the plains of Mesopotamia for some centuries previously to their becoming the conquerors of Asia under successful leaders. f339

From the fourth verse of chapter 2 (<270204>Daniel 2:4) we learn that they spoke the Aramaic dialect, which the Alexandrine Version, as well as Theodotion’s, denominates the Syriac. From the Cyropaedia (Book 7:24) we ascertain that the Syriac was the ordinary language of Babylon. Strabo also informs us that the same language was used throughout all the regions on the banks of the Euphrates. f340 Diodorus Siculus calls the Chaldeans the most ancient inhabitants of Babylonia, and assigns to their astrologers a similar position to that of the Egyptian priests. Their devotion to philosophy and their practice of astronomy gained them great credit with the powerful, which they turned to account by professing to predict the future and to interpret the visions of the imaginative and the distressed. f341 The testimony of Cicero is precisely similar. f342 Hengstenberg has tested the historical truthfulness of the author of this book, by comparing his account of the Chaldean priest-caste with those of profane history. According to chapter. 2:48, the president of this caste was also a prince of the province of Babylon. Thus, according to Diodorus Siculus, Belesys was the chief president of the priests, “whom the Babylonians call Chaldeans,” f343 and governor of Babylon. In Jeremiah, (<243903>Jeremiah 39:3-13,) the president of the priests belonged to the highest class in the kingdom, and is called gmbr, rab-mag, a word of Persian origin, and clearly applicable to the office as described by Daniel. The views of Hengstenberg are usually so correct, that the student may generally adopt them at once as his own.


Dissertation 5

I. ASHPENAZ, A CHIEF OF THE EUNUCHS.

<270107>Daniel 1:7

This proper name is interpreted by Saadias to mean “the man of a sorrowful countenance;” but Rosenmuller assigns the meaning of the Syriac and Arabic corresponding words as more probable, viz., “helping” and “alert.” The Alexandrine Greek substitutes Abiezer for Aspenaz, being a Hebrew patronymic, signifying “father of help.” “The chief of the eunuchs” seems the correct definition of his office. syrs, saris, is equivalent to the Greek eunouchos, and the office is similar to that at present exercised at the courts of Turkey and Persia as the kislar agha, “high-chamberlain of the palace.” So much confidence was necessarily reposed in these domestic officers, that many affairs of the utmost importance and delicacy were intrusted to their care. Thus the children of the royal and noble families of Judea were committed to the care of Aspenaz. The word rps, sepher, “book,” in which he was to instruct them, must be extended to all the literature of the Chaldees. Oecolampadius treats it as including rhetoric, eloquence, and all those elevating pursuits which cultivate the mind and refine the manners. He then proceeds to treat the narrative as an allegory; the “prince of Babel, or, of the world,” represents Satan; Daniel and his companions, the elect members of Christ. The family of David is supposed to imply this spiritual household of God, and the word ymtrp, pharth-mim, nobles, is pressed into this service by a preference for the rendering of Saadias, “perfect fruit.” The eunuch is said to typify those spiritual flatterers who entice the children of God by flatteries and allurements to sin, and by substituting worldly sophistry for true wisdom, draw souls from Christ. Although such reflections are very profitable, yet Calvin has shewn his matured judgment by excluding all fanciful allegory from his comments. Oecolampadius supposes the king to be liberal and benevolent in ordering the captives to be fed from his table, and prudent in proposing this indulgence as a reward for their diligence in study. Here also the king’s character is allegorized; he becomes a model of Satan enticing God’s elect, and offering them to partake of his own dainties, that he may win them more blandly to himself.

In commenting, too, on the change of names, Oecolampadius gives the usual meaning to the Hebrew words, but observes, how the name of God was omitted from them all, and the worthiness attributed to the creature. This, he thinks, to have been the eunuch’s intention, while he points to the change as an instance of the contrast between human and divine wisdom. The conduct of Daniel may be illustrated by the practice of the early Christians, against whom it was objected by Caecilius, that they abhorred meats offered to idols when commanded to partake of them. f344 Willet has discussed the questions — “Whether Daniel and the rest learned the curious arts of the Chaldeans?” and, “Whether it be lawful to use the arts and inventions of the heathen?” by collecting various opinions and summing them up with practical wisdom. f345

II.THE NAMES OF THE THREE CHILDREN.

IT is the well-known custom of the East to change the names of persons on their admission to public office or to families of distinction. The change here recorded most probably arose from a desire to draw these young Jews away from all the associations of home, and to naturalize them as much as possible among their new associates. Hananiah is supposed to come from ˆnj, chanan, to be gracious, and hy, yah, Jehovah, meaning “favored of God.” Mishael from y, ish, he is, and la, el, God, meaning “the powerful one of God.” Azariah from rz[, gnezer, help, and hy, yah, Jehovah: “the help of Jehovah.” A variety of conjectures have been hazarded concerning the Chaldee equivalents. Shadrach is probably from ad, sheda, to inspire, and ˚r, rak, king, being a Babylonian name for the sun; others connect it with an evil deity. Meshach retains a portion of its Hebrew form, and substitutes ˚, shak, for la, el, that is, the female deity Schaca, which answers to the Venus of the Greeks. WgnAdb[, gnebed-nego, is the Chaldaic phrase for “servant of Nebo,” one of their deities, or perhaps, servant of burning fire. The deity Nebo furnished names to many chiefs and sovereigns among the Assyrians and Chaldees, and modern researches and discoveries have enabled us to trace similar derivations with great accuracy. Compounds of Pul were used in a similar way: thus Tiglath-Pileser is Tiglath Pul-Asser; and Nabo-Pul-Asser is interpreted as Nabo, son of Pul, lord of Assyria.

The name of Daniel was also changed. The word is derived from ˆwd, dun, to judge, and la, el, God, meaning “a divine judge;” while his new name relates to the idol Bel, meaning “keeper of the treasures of Bel.”

III. THE PULSE.

<270112>Daniel 1:12

Calvin’s view of this verse is rather peculiar, and especially his comment on <050803>Deuteronomy 8:3; on <270114>Daniel 1:14. The word “pulse,” y[rzh, hazerognim, signifies the same as the Latin legumen, and may perhaps be extended to the cerealia as well. Vegetable diet generally is intended. The food provided from the royal table was probably too stimulating, and the habitual temperance of Daniel and his companions is here pointed out as conducing remarkably to their bodily health and appearance. Thus, while conscience refused to be “polluted,” obedience to the laws of our physical nature produces a corresponding physical benefit. Wintle very appositely quotes Virgil, Georg. 1:73, 74, to illustrate the kind of food intended.


Dissertation 6

CORESH — WAS HE CYRUS THE GREAT?

<270121>Daniel 1:21

The last verse of this chapter is connected with an interesting inquiry, viz., Was the Coresh here mentioned Cyrus The Great, or any other Cyrus? The noble author of “The Times of Daniel” has thrown much “life” into the subject by his elaborate defense of a theory which we now proceed to state and discuss. Cyrus the Great he thinks identical with Nebuchadnezzar the First, and Cambyses with his son Nebuchadnezzar the Second; the exploits of the hero of Herodotus and Xenophon are attributed to the former, while Coresh becomes but a minor character, contemporary with Darius the Mede, after whom he is said to reign, and before Darius the son of Ahasuerus. This view also brings the story of Esther within the period of the captivity of Babylon. It has always been a subject of great difficulty with commentators on Daniel, to reconcile the scriptural narrative with those of both Herodotus and Xenophon. The majority finding this impossible, have decided in favor of one or the other of these historians; and the best modern writers usually prefer Herodotus. Lowth, in his Notes on Isaiah, says, “the Cyrus of Herodotus was a very different character from that of the Cyrus of the Scriptures and Xenophon;” and Archbishop Secker has taken great pains to compare all the profane historians with Scripture, and shews that the weight of the argument lies against the truth of the Cyropaedia. Whether Cyrus was the grandson of Astyages or not, many believe with Ctesias that he overcame him in battle, and founded the Persian empire upon the ruins of the Median dynasty. It is scarcely possible that it should be left for this nineteenth century to discover the identity between a first Nebuchadnezzar and this conqueror of the East; and while the clearing up of every historical discrepancy is impossible, yet it is desirable to reconcile the occurrences which are related by both Herodotus and Xenophon. The son of Cambyses the Persian, and of Mandane the daughter of Astyages king of the Medes, is said to have conquered Craesus king of Lydia, enlarged the Persian empire, subdued Babylon and the remnant of the Assyrian power, and placed his uncle Cyaxares over the united territories of Media and Babylon. After the death of this relative, he reigned over Asia, from India to Ethiopia, a territory consisting of 127 provinces. The manner of his death is uncertain, all the historians differ in their accounts, but the place of his burial is allowed to be Pasargadae, as Pliny has recorded in his Natural History. This tomb was visited by Alexander the Great, and has lately been noticed and described by European travelers. The plains of Murghab are watered by a river which bears the name of Kur, and is thought to be identical with the Greek Cyrus. A structure in a ruinous state has been found there, apparently of the same date as the remains at Persepolis, bearing cuneiform inscriptions which are now legible. The legend upon one of the pilasters has been interpreted, “I am Cyrus the Achaemenian;” and no doubt is entertained by the learned that this monument once contained the remains of the founder of the Persian monarchy. A single block of marble was discovered by Sir R. K. Porter, on which he discovered a beautiful sculpture in bas-relief, consisting of the figure of a man, from whose shoulders issue four large wings, rising above the head and extending to the feet. f346 The whole value of such an inscription to the reader of Daniel is the legend above the figure, in the arrow-headed character, determining the spot as the tomb of Cyrus the Great. It shews, at the least, that he cannot be identified with Nebuchadnezzar.

The manner in which the author of “The Times of Daniel” has commented on the prophecies relating to the overthrow of Babylon, is worthy of notice here. <234514>Isaiah 45:14, is referred by Dr. Keith to Cyrus, and objection is made to the supposed fulfillment in the person of Cyrus, Keith is said to apply to Cyrus the primary historical fulfillment of all the prophecies relating to the overthrow of Babylon, and the justness of this inference is doubted. <231301>Isaiah 13-14:27, is one of the passages where the asserted allusion to Cyrus is questioned, since it relates to a period in which the power of Assyria was in existence. The Assyrian is supposed to be Sennacherib, to whose predecessor both Babylon and Media were subject. “The Chaldeans, mentioned in <231319>Isaiah 13:19, I have already explained to have been a colony of astronomers, planted in Babylon by the Assyrian kings to carry on their astronomical observations, in which science they excelled.” Again, <232102>Isaiah 21:2, “Go up, O Elam; besiege, O Media,” is applied by Dr. Keith to Cyrus, to which the noble author objects, as well as to the supposition “that the overthrow of Belshazzar during his drunken revelry was predicted in Scripture, and that the minute fulfillment by Cyrus is recorded by Xenophon.” “The feast of Belshazzar,” it is added, “does not appear to correspond with the festival described by Xenophon, which was apparently periodical, and which, not a portion of the nobles, but all the Babylonians, observed by drunkenness and revelry during the whole night.” “It also agrees with the mode in which Zopyrus got possession of Babylon.” Calvin seems to give it this turn, “A treacherous one shall find treachery,” etc. Further comments are then made upon <234401>Isaiah 44 and 45, and on <245001>Jeremiah 50 and 51, evading the force of their application to Cyrus, and combating with some degree of success the assertions of Keith; for the noble author, who is earnest in pulling down, is ingenious in building up. “From this short examination, it appears that the prophecy of Jeremiah (<245001>Jeremiah 50 and 51) corresponds with the capture of Babylon by Darius the Mede of Scripture, and by Darius Hystaspes, according to Herodotus.” Some writers have supposed Cyrus to be identical with this Darius the Mede; and Archbishop Secker acknowledges some ground for such a conjecture. “The first year of Darius the Mede is by the LXX. translated the first year of Cyrus,” f347 and the Canon of Ptolemy favors the identity. “Now all agree, as far as I have seen,” says Wintle, “that the year of the expiration of the captivity, or the year that Cyrus issued his decree in favor of the Jews, was the year 212 of the era of Nabonassar, or 536 A.C.; and there is no doubt but Darius the Mede, whoever he was, reigned, according to Daniel, from the capture of Babylon, till this same first year of Cyrus, or till the commencement of the reign alloted by Scripture to Cyrus the Persian.” “The Canon certainly allots nine years’ reign to Cyrus over Babylon, of which space the two former years are usually allowed to coincide with the reign of Cyaxares or Darius the Mede, by the advocates of Xenophon.” (Prelim. Dissertation.) Herodotus, Xenophon, and Ctesias all agree in the original superiority of the Medes, till the victories of Cyrus turned the scale, and gave rise to the Persian dynasty. At the fall of Babylon, and during the life of Darius, the Medes are mentioned by Daniel as superior, but at the accession of Cyrus this order is reversed, and Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, all assign the foremost place to the Persians.

The life of Daniel, Rosenmuller reminds us, was prolonged beyond the first year of king wrk, Coresh, for the tenth chapter informs us of his vision in the third year of that monarch’s reign. He explains the apparent contradiction, by saying that it was enough for Daniel to live, or to the liberation of the Jews in the first year of the reign of Coresh; that was the crowning event of his prolonged existence. The conjectures of Bertholdt and Aben-Ezra are mentioned, only to be disposed of by a few words of censure. An ingenious conjecture of a French critic is found in the Encycl. Theol., Liv. 27. The objection of Bleek, Ewald, Winer, and De Wette, are ably treated at length by Hengstenberg, and really meet with more serious attention than they deserve. It is a useless waste of precious time to enter minutely into every “phantasy” of the restless neology of Germany, while the chronology of Daniel’s life will form the subject of a subsequent Dissertation. As some Neologians dwell much on the historian Ctesias, and lest the unlearned reader should be misled by their confident assertions, we may here state that we have only an epitome of his work preserved by the patriarch Photius. Bahr states that he lived about 400 B.C., in the reign of Darius Nothus, being a Greek physician who remained seventeen years at the Persian court. Diodorus informs us that he obtained his information from the royal archives, but there are so many anachronisms and errors of various kinds, that his statements cannot be safely followed as if historically correct. Ctesias, for instance, denies all relationship between Cyrus and Astyages. According to him, he defeated Astyages, invested his daughter Amytis with the honors of a queen, and afterwards married her. F. W. Newman, indeed, prefers this narrative to that of both Herodotus and Xenophon, and thereby renders their testimony to the scriptural record uncertain and valueless. He also treats “the few facts” in regard to the Persian wars, “which the epitomator has extracted as differing from Herodotus,” as carrying with them “high probability.” The closing scene of his career, as depicted in the narrative of Ctesias, is pronounced “beyond comparison more credible” than that of Herodotus. This great conqueror died the third day after his wound in a battle with “the Derbices,” and was buried in that monument at Pasargadae, which the Macedonians broke open two centuries afterwards, (Strabo, lib. 15 3; Arrian, lib. vi. 29,) and which has lately been explored and described by Morier and Sir R. K. Porter. f348

Notwithstanding the hypothesis which has lately found favor with the modern writers whose worlds we have quoted, we feel that the views of the older critics are preferable; and, on the whole, Calvin’s exposition can only be improved upon in minor details. The authorities enumerated by Archbishop Secker, as given by Wintle in his preface, page 18 and following, are worthy of attentive perusal; and we must refer again to Hengstenbergs able replies to a variety of objections which we are unable to notice. See <270106>Daniel 1:6 and following, Edit. Ed.


Dissertation 7.

THE KING’S DREAM.

<270201>Daniel 2:1

Its Date. — The assertion of the first verse has created some difficulty, in consequence of its not allowing time enough for the Jewish youth to become a man. Jerome attempts to solve it by supposing the point of departure to be not his reign over Judea, but of his dominion over other nations, as the Assyrians and Egyptians. He seems justified in this view by the words of Josephus, (Antiq., lib. 10 chapter 10. 3,) who distinctly refers the dream to the second year “after the laying waste of Egypt.” Rosenmuller objects to this explanation, and to that of C. B. Michaelis, and adopts that of Saadias, who supposes the dream to have happened in the second year, but not to be interpreted till the conclusion of the third.

Its Origin. — Nothing is more difficult to reduce to philosophic laws than the theory of dreams and their interpretation. The researches of physical science have thrown more light on the subject than all the guesses of ancient or modern divines. Jerome, for instance, thought that in this case, “the shadow of the dream remained,” a sort of breath (aura) and trace remaining in the mind of the king. It is of no use whatever to seek for much light on these subjects in the works of the ancients, whether Fathers or Reformers; they are constantly displaying their ignorance whenever they treat of subjects within the domain of psychological science. The physician has now become a far safer guide than the divine. Although Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was supernatural in its origin, yet it seems like ordinary ones in its departing from the sleeper while he is completely unconscious of its subject.

Physical researches have proved the truth of Calvin’s assertion on verse third, that “Scientia est generalis et perpetua.” Explanations have happily passed away from the theologian and the metaphysician to the physician and the chemist. The brain is now admitted to be the organ through which the mind acts during both the activity and the repose of the body, and dreams are now known to depend upon physical causes acting through the nerves upon the brain. The late researches of the celebrated chemist Baron Reichenbach seem to have led us one step nearer to the true explanation of these singular phenomena; the discovery of odyle, a new imponderable agent, like caloric and electricity, has enabled the modern philosopher to trace some of the laws of natural and artificial sleep. The existence of odyle in magnets, crystals, and the animal frame, and its intimate connection with lucidity, and impressions conveyed to the sensorium during magnetic sleep, seems now to be received by the best psychologists; their experiments will, doubtless, lead to our ascertaining the laws which regulate dreaming; and if the results said to be obtained by Mr. Lewis, Major Buckley, and Dr. William Gregory of Edinburgh, are ultimately admitted as facts by the scientific world, a new method of explaining the operations of the mind in sleep will be completely established. — See the “Letters” published by the Professor of Chemistry in the University of Edinburgh, 1 volume 12mo. 1851.

This contrast between the ancient and modern methods of explanation is strikingly exemplified by Calvin’s reference to the Daimones on page 119, which requires some elucidation to render it intelligible to the general reader.

The philosophers of Greece held various theories concerning them, among which that recorded by Plato in the Phaedrus is the most singular. He commences by asserting the immortality of the soul, and its essential existence from all eternity. The explanation of this idea, as it really is, he treats as divine, but its similitude as human and readily comprehended. The simile is remarkable. The deities have all a chariot and horses, which are perfect, but ours have two horses, each of contrary dispositions. A whole armament of these winged spirits are led on under the concave of heaven, Jupiter himself leading the armament of gods and daimones. In attempting to ascend, the perfect horses of the deities succeed in reaching the convex surface, which no poet ever has described or will describe worthily; but some charioteers fail in their efforts, because one of their horses is depraved, and ever tends downwards towards the earth. In consequence of this depravity, the utmost confusion occurs — the daimones loose their wings and fall to earth, and become human souls. But the various ranks which arise from them deserve especial notice. Those who have beheld most of the glories beyond the heavenly concave become philosophers, and the next to them kings and warriors. Seven other classes of men spring up in the following order: — politicians, physicians, prophets, poets, farmers, sophists, and tyrants. After ten thousand years, the soul may recover its wings, and be judged — some in heaven and others in courts of justice under the earth, while some pass into beasts and then return again to bodies of men. This notion of the origin of the soul from the daimones is a very singular one, and helps us to understand the double sense of the word, like that of angels among us, both good and bad. Though it is not difficult to perceive its connection with dreaming, as the medium of intercourse between the souls of men and the disembodied spirits, yet such conjectures throw no light whatever upon the king’s dream before us.

The passages alluded to by Calvin from Cicero are found in the First and Second Books De Divinatione. They consist of extracts from Ennius, and relate the fabled dreams of Priam, Tarquinius Superbus, and the mother of Phalaris, as well as that remarkable one which the magi are said to have interpreted for Cyrus. In the Second Book, Cicero argues wisely and strenuously against the divine origin of dreams. To pay the slightest attention to them he deems the mark of a weak, superstitious, and driveling mind. He inveighs strongly against the pretense to interpret them, which had become a complete traffic, and displayed the imposture which always flourishes wherever there are dupes to feed it. He combats the views of Aristotle, which Calvin quotes, and supplies much material for discussion though but little illustration of our subject. The passages above referred to will be found quoted and explained in Colquhouns History of Magic, volume 1, while some useful observations on sleep and dreams occur in page 60 and following.


Dissertation 8.

THE IMAGE AND ITS INTERPRETATION.

<270238>Daniel 2:38

Thou art this head of gold.” A question has arisen whether this expression relates to Nebuchadnezzar personally, or to his empire and dynasty continued to his grandson. The principle is an important one, although history has already removed all difficulty as to the facts. C. B. Michaelis, Willet, Wells, and others, consider the monarch as the representative of his empire, not only during his life but until its overthrow. In the quaint language of Willet, “In this short sentence, thou art the head of gold, there are as many figures as words.” Thou, that is, thy kingdom; art, meaning signifiest or representest; head, means “the antiquity and priority of that kingdom, and the knowledge and wisdom of that nation;” gold, “betokeneth their riches, prosperity, and flourishing estate.” Compare also <231404>Isaiah 14:4, and <245107>Jeremiah 51:7, where the epithet golden alludes to the majesty and wealth of the city. Wintle interprets the golden head as representing the duration of the empire of Babylon from Ninus to Belshazzar, a period of 700 years; but this is objectionable, since the father of Nebuchadnezzar was of a different race from the early sovereigns of Babylon, and the vision becomes far more emphatic, by being limited to Nebuchadnezzar and his immediate successors. Oecolampadius limits the period to his own times, and gives an ingenious reason for the head being of gold. He quotes the authorities for the extensive dominion of this king, viz.,

Berosus known to us through Josephus, and Megasthenes through Eusebius, as well as Orosius, who extend his sway over Syria, Armenia, Phoenicia, Arabia, Lybia, and even Spain; but this commentator is not satisfied with this allusion. He explains it of the justness of his administration. His earlier years were more righteous than his later, and though many faults may be detected in him, yet he was less open to the charge of injustice than the Persians and Greeks who succeeded him.

<270239>Daniel 2:39. The Second Kingdom is the Medo-Persian, denoted according to Josephus by the two arms. Wintle very appositely quotes Claudian —

Medus ademit
Assyrio, Medoque tulit moderamina Perses. f349

The Vulgate here introduces the adjective “silver,” adopting it from <270232>Daniel 2:32, not as a translation, but, according to Rosenmuller, as a modus interpretamenti.

The Third Kingdom is that of the Greeks, but the Fourth is variously interpreted. It relates to either the successors of Alexander or to the Romans. The majority of the older commentators agreed with Calvin in thinking it to mean the Roman empire, viz., Oecolampadius, Bullinger, Melancthon and Osiander, while Grotius and Rosenmuller, and Cosmas, the Indian traveler whom we have previously referred to as known to us through Montfaucon, advocate its reference to the Seleucidae and Lagidae. Pooles Synopsis will furnish the reader with long lists of varying opinions, each fortified by its own reasons, and Willet has carefully collected and arranged the arguments on both sides. The divines of Germany have added their conjectures to those which have preceded them. Kuinoel in his theological commentaries has preserved the view of Velthusen f350 and others; while the absurdities which some of them propose may be understood from the opinion of Harenberg, who thinks the stone which destroyed the image to be the sons and grandsons of Nebuchadnezzar, and Doederlein in his notes to Grotius, and Scharfenberg in his “Observations on Daniel,” approve the foolish conjecture.

A third view, very different from those which preceded it, has been ably stated and laboriously defended. Dr. Todd of Dublin, in his valuable “Lectures on Antichrist,” considers the fourth empire as yet to come. The kingdoms of Nebuchadnezzar, Darius, and Cyrus, are said to be signified by the golden head, that of Alexander by the silver breast and arms, the Roman by the brass, while the iron prefigures the cruel and resistless sway of Antichrist, which shall not be overthrown till the second advent of Messiah. We shall have future opportunities for discussing this theory more at length; it has necessarily enlisted him in the ranks of the Futurists, whom Birks has confuted at length in his “First Elements of Sacred Prophecy. We refer the student to these two worlds, each excellent of its kind, while we defer the discussion of this most interesting question till we treat the chapters contained in our second volume.

In descending to details, the arms of the image have been treated as symbols of the Medo-Persian empire; Theodoret considering the right arm to represent one, and the left the other. Various reasons have been given for the implied inferiority. Willet adopts one the direct contrary of Calvins. While one author treats the inferiority as moral, in consequence of a general corruption of manners, Willet thinks the “government more tolerable and equal toward the people of God.” Some have thought the silver to refer to remarkable wealth, and others to superior wisdom and eloquence. The belly and thighs being of brass, are thought to prefigure the intemperance, and yet the firmness of the Grecian powers. Alexander’s personal debauchery and extravagance is said to be hinted at. The brass is said to imply his warlike disposition and his invincible spirit. The iron is thought to be peculiarly characteristic of the conquests of Rome; the mingling with clay signifies “the division and dissension of the kingdom,” says Willet; while others refer it to the marriages between the Roman generals and the barbarians, or generally to the intermingling of the conquerors of the world with the tribes whom they subdued. The two legs are said to be the two great divisions of the Roman empire after the time of Constantine, though those who treat them as belonging to the successors of Alexander, think they mean Egypt and Syria. The mingling with the seed of men (<270243>Daniel 2:43) is interpreted of the admission of the subject allies to the freedom of the state (donati civitate), and also of the fusion between the barbarians and the Romans, in the late periods of the declining empire. Whether the toes represent individual kings or distinct kingdoms, has been discussed by Birks in his “Elements of Prophecy.


Dissertation 9.

THE STONE CUT WITHOUT HANDS.

<270245>Daniel 2:45

The Stone “Cut Out Of The Mountain” is generally interpreted of the kingdom of Messiah, some writers applying it to his first Advent, and others to his second. If the fourth kingdom be the Roman, then the stone was cut “without hands,” either at the birth of Christ, or, as Calvin when answering Abarbanel prefers, at the first spread of the Gospel. The reason why a “stone” here symbolizes “the kingdom of the heavens,” is because Christ is spoken of in Scripture as a chief corner-stone. The passages in the Psalms, Isaiah, and Matthew, and others, are too familiar to the reader to require quotation. The mountain is supposed to be, either the Virgin Mary, or the Jewish people; without hands, may allude to our Savior’s marvelous birth, or to his spiritual independence of all human agency. The ancient fathers, as well as the modern reformers, agree in this allusion to Christ. See Justin Martyr Dial. cum Tryph., section 32; Irenaeus adv. Haer., verse 21; Tertullian, De Resur., page 61; Apolog., page 869; Cyprian adv. Jud., lib. 2. section 17; Augustine in Psalm 98.

The question of the greatest interest is, whether this prophecy has been fulfilled at the first Advent, or is yet to be accomplished at the second. Willet has taken Calvin to task for his “insufficient” answers to the “Rabbine Barbanel,” but as they vary only on minor points, it is not necessary to quote the corrections of his thoughtful monitor.

The theory of Joseph Mede, the great advocate of the year-day system, may be noticed here. He supposes the stone cut out at the first Advent, but not to smite the image till the second. This involves the existence of the Roman empire, throughout the whole Christian dispensation — an admission that Calvin would not make, and should not be hastily allowed. Dr. Todd correctly remarks, “it assumes the Roman empire to be still in existence,” and it further assumes that the prophecies revealed to Daniel advance beyond the first Advent of Messiah. Calvin and the older commentators treat them as terminating with the establishment of the Gospel dispensation. Tertullian, indeed, applies this passage to the second Advent, but Maldonatus considers that expositor as “insanus,” who thinks the Roman empire to be still existing. Yet both Bellarmine, and Birks argue for its present continuance, and each founds upon it his own views of Scripture prophecy.

As we shall have other opportunities for discussing these questions in our second volume, we simply state that Calvin and our chief Reformers considered all Daniel’s prophecies summed up and satisfied by the first Advent of Christ. As they did not adopt the year-day system, they treated these predictions as pointing the Jews to the coming of their Messiah, and as depicting the various kingdoms and sovereigns which should arise, and affect by their progress and dissensions the Holy Land. It never once occurred to them that the Book of Daniel relates in any way to the details of the history of modern Europe, and of either the Court or the Church of Rome.

Another view hinted at, but disapproved by Bishop Newton, is that the third empire relates solely to Alexander, the fourth to his successors in Syria and Egypt, and the stone cut without hands to the Roman dominion. But with this popular writer as well as with Joseph Mede — the received view of the iron portion of the image is “little less than an article of faith.” f351 The stone he reminds us was quite different from the image, so the kingdom of Christ was utterly distinct from the principalities of this world. He asserts that its smiting power was displayed at the first Advent, and is continued throughout the subsequent history of the world. But as Bishop Newton is an advocate of the historical system of interpreting days for years, which Calvin did not uphold, it is unnecessary to quote him further. The reader will, however, derive benefit from consulting the authorities which he has brought forward in rich abundance. f352 As he is a valuable and a popular expounder of prophecy, it is necessary to make this passing allusion to so valuable an author; while the reader of these Lectures must be cautioned against adopting any views of prophecy which are inconsistent with the great principle upon which the Almighty deals with us, in our new covenant through Christ our Lord.

Oecolampadius in his comment upon <270244>Daniel 2:44, treats the kingdom of Christ as spiritual and eternal; like other earnest writers, he considers the troubles of his own days as peculiarly the marks of Antichrist. The blasphemy of the Mahometans, and the arrogance of the “Cata-baptists,” seem to him intolerable. He is especially vehement against those who urge the necessity of a second baptism, and deny the value of outward ordinances, as the ministry and the sacraments; and argues for the permanence of external ceremonies till the second Advent of Christ.

He considers verse forty-five to relate to the second coming of Christ and the resurrection of mankind to judgment, but does not condemn the opinion of Jerome and other “fathers,” who refer it to the incarnation of our Lord. The mountain, says he, is Zion, and the people the Jews, and by his crucifixion, Christ is said to grow into a mountain and fill the earth. He quotes Hippolytus as sanctioning its reference to the second Advent; and objects to the views of Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Lactantius, who as Chiliasts turned this passage to their purpose. The gross ideas of some Jews and Christians, respecting a thousand years of carnal enjoyment upon earth, are wisely reprobated, and some very profitable remarks are made upon the spiritual reign of Christ in the hearts and souls of his people. Oecolampadius is on this occasion remarkably practical and searching in his comment; he is not so critical and literal as Calvin, but he develops more of the deep feelings of the mature Christian than any other Reformer does on the Old Testament.


Dissertation 10.

THE COLOSSUS AT DURA.

<270301>Daniel 3:1

Many points of interest are connected with the narrative of this chapter.

1. The time of its erection. This is unknown; various conjectures have been offered, but not the slightest historical foundation proved for any of them. Theodoret and Chrysostom fix upon the eighteenth year of the king’s reign.

2. The object of its erection. It was probably intended to entrap the Jews and all conscientious worshippers of Jehovah. Calvin’s view is adopted by the best writers.

3. In whose honor was it erected? Willet agrees with Calvin in thinking it was consecrated to some deity, as Bel, the chief object of his worship.

4. The place of its erection was the plain called by Ptolemy, Deira, between Chaltopis and Cissia, in the region of Susan. f353 The editor of the Chisian Codex derives it from the Persian word dooran, meaning an enclosure, thus strengthening the view of Jerome, that it was erected in an enclosure within the city.

A singular feature in the earliest commentators is the mystical application of such subjects. Chrysostom, for instance, takes it to denote covetousness; f354 and Jerome, (in loc.,) false doctrine and heresy; and Irenaeus, the pomp and pride of the world, under the mastery of Satan. f355

The disproportion of its form has occasioned some difference among expositors. Bertholdt, as usual, is full of faultfinding. “How was it possible for it to stand of itself?” But there is no proof that the statue had throughout a human form. Columns with a human head on the top were often erected by the Asiatics in honor of their deities. Mnter in his Religion of the Babylonians, treats it as similar to the Amyclaean Apollo, a simple column, to which a head and feet were added. Gesenius, too, has observed that the ruins of the tower of Belus are imposing only from their colossal size, and not from their proportions; the Babylonians preferred everything huge, irregular, and grotesque. Idol-pillars were commonly erected by the Assyrians in honor of their deities. If, however, we strictly limit the word lx, tzelem, to a human figure complete in all its parts, we may still vindicate the truth of Daniel by allowing for a pedestal which would be necessary. The proportion of six to one is correct: for a human figure; hence with a pedestal, ten to one by no means violates the principles of art. Of the difficulty of raising it we are no judges. The able remarks of Heeren are exactly suited to the occasion, — “The circle of our experience is too limited for us to assign at once the scale of what is possible in other lands, in a different clime, and under other circumstances. Do not the Egyptian pyramids, the Chinese wall, and the rock temple at Elephanta, stand, as it were, in mockery of our criticism, which presumes to define the limits of the united power of whole nations?” f356

The material of the Colossus is worthy of notice. It is scarcely possible that it could be all of gold. Some, have thought it to have been hollow like the Colossus of Rhodes, which exceeded it in height by ten cubits. (Pliny His. Nat., 34 18.) Chrysostom thought it made of wood, and only covered with gold plating, and certainly we have authority for such a view from <023938>Exodus 39:38, where an altar made of acacia wood, and covered with gold, is termed golden; and that in <023939>Exodus 39:39, merely covered with brass, is termed brazen. The immense treasures heaped together at Babylon favor the possibility of sufficient gold being at hand to cover so large a statue; while the weight of the golden statue of Bel, with its steps and seat, as recorded both by Herodotus and Diodorus, is far from sufficient to allow of their being massive gold throughout. Thus profane history becomes exceedingly valuable in enabling us to interpret correctly the language of the Old Testament. Many minds are inclined at once to discredit the erection of any such colossus all of gold; the mechanical and artistic difficulties are far too great; but when we find such historians giving us accounts of similar erections made of plated wood, or consisting of a mere hollow case, plated over, the whole of the difficulties vanish, everything is reduced at once within the bounds of credibility, the historical accuracy of Daniel is vindicated, the captious insinuations of disbelievers are repelled, and the mind of the earnest inquirer is at rest on the firm rock which patient investigation has provided for it.

Hengstenbergs attention is occupied throughout this chapter with noticing the objections of his Neologian predecessors. De Wette, Bertholdt, and Bleek, have each attempted to discredit the historical veracity of Daniel. The period of the erection of the image — if ever erected at all — was that of Antiochus Epiphanes, say they, and his character is the supposed original of the fabulous Nebuchadnezzar, and the writer “merely invented these tales in order to inspire the Jews with fortitude under the religious persecutions of Antiochus.” f357 Bertholdt also considers the address of the three Jews to the king as an instance of “revolting insolence and levity;” while Theodoret is quoted as “being amazed at the courage of these youths, their wisdom, their piety,” in language exactly in the spirit of Calvin himself. f358 The preparation of the furnace has created some difficulty, especially when Chardin relates that a whole month has been taken up with feeding two ovens with fire, for the purpose of destroying criminals; but this objection is removed by the natural supposition that the king anticipated refusal, and had prepared beforehand to execute summary vengeance on all who disobeyed. “What result is gained by the miracle?” ask the disbelievers. “How disproportionate was the colossus,” he exclaims, “no such statue ever existed, no such miracle was ever performed.” But history puts to flight a whole host of conjectures, for Herodotus mentions a statue in the temple of Belus, and Diodorus Siculus confirms his account. f359 Hengstenberg has collected a long list of authorities in proof of the erection of such statues by the ancient monarchs of the East, and we refer to his valuable labors for a reply to objections, which are happily unknown to the majority of our readers.


Dissertation 11.

THE NAMES OF THE MAGISTRATES.

<270302>Daniel 3:2

Calvin has very judiciously declined to enter into the signification of each of these officers, as there is great difficulty in ascertaining the exact duties to be assigned to each. The best method of determining this point is to follow up the meaning of the corresponding words in the cognate languages of the East, and to bear in mind the officers of state at present in use. We will here state a few results of our researches, referring the reader for fuller information to Castells valuable Lexicon, and Rosenmullers and Wintles comments, and punctuating the words after the best foreign scholars.

aynprdja, achas-dar-penaja, is derived from the Persian by both Castell and Rosenmuller; its meaning is majestatis janitores. Wintle translates correctly satraps.

ayngs signaja, is also Persian; Rosenmuller renders it supremus prfectus, and Wintle, “senators,” implying a viceroy of the first rank.

atwjp, pach-vatha, is clearly equivalent to the Oriental “pasha.”

aydzgrda, adar-gaz-raja, the Septuagint translates by “consuls,” and Theodotion and Jerome by “leaders,” and Wintle by “judges.”

ayrbdg, gedab-raja, is commonly rendered “treasurers.”

ayrbtd, dethab-raja, signifies the superior officers of the law.

aytpt, tiph-taya, is clearly connected with the Turkish word mufti, who is the chief religious officer of the Mohamedan faith.

ynfl, sil-tonei, a general expression for “governors” Joseph Jacchiades has explained it fully in his Chaldee paraphrase.

Pooles Synopsis may also be consulted with advantage. Oecolampadius departs here from his usual custom, by entering into the criticism of these words, and quoting Rabbi Saadias, the Septuagint, and the Chaldee paraphrasts.


Dissertation 12.

THE MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS.

<270305>Daniel 3:5

It is not possible to define, as Calvin reminds us, what these instruments were. Researches have been made into the etymology of the Chaldee words, and a comparison instituted between the properties implied and those of modern use and construction. Travelers in the East have compared the music of the present day with that recorded in this verse. A similarity, too, has been pointed out between the instruments of the Syrians and Greeks. As no practical advantage can arise from quoting the conjectures of various writers, we simply refer to Wintle and Rosenmuller in loc., where some interesting information is given in extenso. Pooles Synopsis also supplies much verbal criticism. Oecolampadius passes by altogether any explanation of these instruments, but makes some very appropriate practical comments. True religious worship, he justly observes, does not need this variety of external incentive; a pure conscience with trust in God and obedience to his laws is the best music in his eyes, while he applauds Plato’s description of the best music which a soul can offer to its Creator. Antichrist, he asserts, delights in such outward and sensual gratification’s, while the advanced Christian worships in spirit, calmly, quietly, and inwardly. True religion is thus the antagonist of all outward and idolatrous service; it is not prompted by fear nor promoted by a tyrant’s command, but requiring no visible parade of instrumental minstrelsy, it worships with a cheerful heart and a free and buoyant spirit, inspired by the hope of everlasting life through the promises of God in Christ. This sentiment, although 300 years old, is worthy of the Reformer who uttered and maintained it.


Dissertation 13.

THE SON OF GOD.

<270325>Daniel 3:25

This translation of the Chaldee words ˆyhla rbl, leber-alehin, in our version is liable to mistake. Wintle has more correctly rendered them “a son of a god.” It was far more likely that the heathen king would express his astonishment in this way than allude to what he could not comprehend, the appearance of the Logos in human form. Calvin correctly states it to be “one of the angels.” Angels are called in Scripture, says Wells, sons of God, as in <180106>Job 1:6, and <183807>Job 38:7. “Some angelic appearance” is the correct comment of Wintle. Jerome takes it as a type of Christ descending into Hades, and Munter asserts it to be our Lord himself. Wells neither affirms nor denies this view, which has been held by a number of commentators who consider that the Logos appeared in human form on several occasions during patriarchal and Ante-Messianic times. Justin Martyr makes the same assertion when describing the pre-existence of the Logos to his philosophic persecutors. Willet leans to this view, after summing up a variety of opinions from able writers. Some of his reflections on the general narrative are edifying; but his discussion on the nature of angels is fancifully unprofitable, and his ignorance of natural science is singularly displayed in his treatment of the ordinary and extraordinary action of fire. Rosenmuller translates, “like a son of the gods,” that is an angel, and the writers quoted by Poole come to the same conclusion; but Oecolampadius, thinks the appearance to be that of Immanuel himself, and refers to other instances of his being visible to Abraham, Jacob, and Moses. He fortifies his view by quotations from Chrysostom, Apollinarius, and other ecclesiastical authorities.


Dissertation 14.

A WATCHER.

<270413>Daniel 4:13

This is the correct rendering of the word ry[, gnir, but it has been conjectured that its meaning is the same as ryx, tzir, being the Chaldee word for “a messenger.” Jerome ingeniously conjectures it to be the same as the Greek word Iris, the messenger of heaven. In <183630>Job 36:30, the Hebrew is rya, air, where Origen reads Irin according to Archbishop Seeker. Willet replies to the question “why the angels are called watchmen,” and quotes Calvins reason with approbation. Rosenmuller approves of Jeromes conjecture, and adduces Hom. Odys., lib. 18:5, in confirmation of it. He takes “the watcher and holy one” as a hendia-dys, reminding us that in <181515>Job 15:15, angels are called “holy ones” by the figure autonomasia. The Scholia of the Alexandrine Codex interpret the word eir, as equivalent to angel, and Isidorus Pelusiota, according to Rosenmuller, (Ep. 177, lib. 2,) considers the word to refer to the chief of angels. The Syrians in their hymns join watchers with angels as rejoicing over converted sinners, according to the learned editors of the Chisian Codex, page 127, edit. Rom. See also Critica Sacra, volume 7, edit. Frcof. The view of Oecolampadius is similar to those already expressed, but he takes the word “watcher” in the sense of an exciter or herald of divine punishment. R. Saadias supposes a terrible destroyer to be intended.


Dissertation 15.

THE MADNESS OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR.

<270425>Daniel 4:25

THE narrative of this chapter has met with much disbelief among the skeptical school of theology. The want of corresponding profane history is a subject of complaint. Origen found himself deserted by all ancient historians, and Jerome searched them in vain for any confirmation of the sacred text. We must remember, however, that the historians whom we reckon ancient, are very modern with reference to these early times. Megasthenes, for instance, wrote rather earlier than Berosus, about 280 A.C., at the court of Seleucus Nicator, king of Babylon, and we have only portions of their writings second hand. Diocles, the author of a Persian history, and Abydenus, of an Assyrian and Median, obtained their materials from Chaldee traditions, many ages after the events recorded. The Chaldee chroniclers, Hengstenberg assures us, were, notorious for their national vanity and boasting, f360 and were not likely to record anything derogatory to their earliest hero. But even Bertholdt is compelled to confess that Abydenus has preserved a legend similar to the narrative of this chapter. “On ascending the roof of his palace, he became inspired by some god, and delivered himself as follows: — Babylonians! I Nebuchadnezzar foretell you a calamity that is to happen, which neither my ancestor Bel nor queen Beltis can persuade the Fates to avert. There shall come a Persian mule, (one having parents of different countries,) having your own gods in alliance with him, and shall impose servitude upon you, with the head of a Mede, the boast of the Assyrians.” f361 Now madness and inspiration were usually connected by the ancients; the time and place too, correspond with Daniel’s narrative; the extasis occurred after the completion of his conquests, and the phrase, “by some god,” refers to a foreign deity, whom we know to be the Jehovah of the Hebrews. The narrative of the frenzy which rendered him unfit for government, is allowed to be credible by the chief skeptics of the continent. Michaelis allows “that this calamity more frequently attacks great and extraordinary minds than ordinary men.” Our physicians can now explain the reason through their improved knowledge of the brain and its functions. Pathological and psychological science is here more useful than all the conjectures of disbelieving theologians. In the early days of the Church, the greatest difficulty was found in taking this narrative literally: hence expositors treated it as an allegory. The king was held to represent Satan falling from heaven, and the whole account of his dwelling with the beasts of the field was taken figuratively, and rejected historically. Jerome, however, while he records this view at great length, adheres to the literal account. f362

The disbelief of the narrative above referred to may have arisen from an erroneous interpretation of the sacred text. For some writers have affirmed a complete metamorphosis of the man into the beast; a conclusion by no means warranted by the language of the passage. Tertullian has correctly explained the clause, “his hair became like eagle’s feathers,” by capilli incuria horrorem aquilinum prferente, since it was a natural consequence of his wild mode of life, and a usual mark of the sensualizing effect of prolonged insanity. And with reference to the time of this affliction, Hengstenberg quotes Calvin with approbation, for agreeing with the idea of an indefinite period implied by the word “seven.” Calvin, however, inclines too much towards the theory of the indefinite use of definite numbers. There seems no good reason why the number “seven” should not be taken strictly and literally, nor why the word “times” ˆwnd[, gni-danin, should not mean years. Even Hengstenberg gives way too much to the plausible conceits of his wily antagonists. Rosenmuller correctly limits the expression to seven years, a period by no means unnatural for the continuance of a highly excited state of the brain, producing mania, accompanied by all the symptoms mentioned in this chapter. Oecolampadius views it as a case of mental disease, and quotes many similar narratives from Aben-Ezra, Pausanias, and Augustine, bringing forward the fables of the heathen poets, as illustrating the passage. For the opinion of Tertullian, and various Jewish and continental writers, Kittos Bibl. Cyclop. may be consulted, especially as the view there set forth by Dr. Wright is sound, judicious, and practical.


Dissertation 16.

THE EDICT OF PRAISE.

<270437>Daniel 4:37

This monarch probably lived but a single year after his recovery; and some writers have thought that his restoration produced a conversion to the worship of the one true God. But Hengstenberg agrees with our author: “Compare Calvin on the passages,” says he, “who strikingly proves from them the incorrectness of the opinion of very many expositors as to the radical and entire conversion of Nebuchadnezzar.” Calvin is clearly right, for it was customary with the Persians to blend the doctrines of Zoroaster with the Babylonian astrology. f363 The scriptural language of the king has been treated as an argument against the authenticity of the decree. Eichhorn and Bertholdt object to his speaking like an orthodox Jew in the phraseology of the Old Testament. But the affinity of certain phrases with other passages of Scripture, is no argument against its authenticity. The monarch had held much intercourse with Daniel; he had doubtless heard his method of expressing reverence and respect for the one true God, and he would repeat such expressions the more exactly in proportion to his want of personal experience of their meaning. In the case of the edict of Cyrus, brief as it is, several references are found to the prophecies of Isaiah. f364 As to the change of person from the third to the first, Hengstenberg approves of Calvins suggestion. Oecolampadius considers the king really converted, and through knowing the angel to be the Christ, he supposes him not only a convert, but an apostle. This is far too favorable a view of his character; but it is instructive to ascertain the decisions of various eminent Reformers, and to observe which of them stands the scrutinizing test of an appeal to posterity.


Dissertation 17.

BELSHAZZAR AND THE FEAST.

<270101>Daniel 1:1, 2.

This monarch is here said to be the son of Nebuchadnezzar. The Duke of Manchester takes this literally, while the usual opinion is that he was his grandson. “No king,” says he, “in Berosus, Megasthenes, or Polyhistor, corresponds with him. The Scripture says that Nebuchadnezzar was his father, which most people say means grandfather, and it is not to be denied, that by son, grandson may be intended; but in this case it is contrary to all the evidence we have on the subject. The author of the Scholastical History reports that Belshazzar was son of the daughter of Darius. Nebuchadnezzar the Second did, as I conceive, marry the daughter of Darius, which would make Belshazzar his son. But admitting that Belshazzar was paternal grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, none of the successors of Nebuchadnezzar could have been in that relation to him.” The Persian writer Merkhond is the next quoted, by whose help the duke identifies Ka’oos with Nebuchadnezzar the First, Afrasiab with Astyages, and Siyawesh, the son of Ka’oos, with Belshazzar. It is then conjectured that this king never reigned except during his father’s lifetime: if he was “the king” during his father’s madness, the omission of his name by profane historians is thus accounted for. An Oxford MS. is quoted to shew “that Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar were reigning at Babylon when Darius and Coresch were reigning over Persia. f365

This hypothesis interferes so much with the ordinary deductions from ancient historians, that we must not pass it over without special notice.

The received hypothesis has been so clearly stated by Wells, that reference to it is all that is needed. f366 Jeremiah (<242706>Jeremiah 27:6) had predicted that Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom was to be prolonged through the life of his son and his son’s son. Ptolemy’s Astronomical Canon is the best known authority for the history of Nebuchadnezzar’s successors, as we have detailed them in a former Dissertation, and they are also found in a readable form in Stackhouses History of the Bible. f367 The last of these kings is Nabonadius, and he is supposed to be the same as the Nabonnedus of Berosus, the Labynetus of Herodotus, and the Belshazzar of Daniel. f368 During his reign, says Berosus, the walls of the city near the river were strengthened by brick-work and bitumen; and in its seventeenth year Cyrus advanced against Babylon, the king met him with a large army, but was defeated, and then enclosed himself within Borsippa. Cyrus then took Babylon, and having determined to pull down its outer fortifications, he returned to Borsippa and besieged it. Nabonnedus then gave himself up, and Cyrus permitted him to close his life peaceably in Carmania, where he remained till his death. The narrative of Herodotus is slightly at variance with this. Cyrus made war against Labynetus, the son of Nitocris, a very spirited and powerful queen, and succeeded to the kingdom of Assyria “from his fathers.” f369 Having turned the stream of the river Euphrates, he entered the city through its bed, and when the center was captured, those who dwelt at the extremities were ignorant of their disaster, for they “were celebrating a festival that day with dancing and all manner of rejoicing, till they received certain information of the general fate. And thus Babylon was the first time taken.” Herodotus also records its second capture through the treachery of Zopyrus, in the reign of Darius Hystaspes, (lib. 3 section. 159;) and with this second capture the noble duke supposes the scriptural narrative to be co-incident.

The Cyropaedia of Xenophon affords its testimony to a similar event, and as its historic value has been altogether denied, we cannot certainly pronounce the event the same. Vitringa has vindicated its historical truth, and Gesenius and Bertholdt have admitted it. Hengstenberg quotes lib. 7 section. 5, combines it with Herod., lib. 1 section. 191, and remarks, “This testimony of Xenophon, too, is so much the more in our favor, as it confirms the particular circumstance that the nobles were at the feast assembled at the table of the king.” f370 He adds, “The precise agreement of Daniel with Herodotus and Xenophon is acknowledged by Munter, 50 100 page 67, to be astonishing, and even Gesenius, Z. Jes. 1, page 655, cannot help calling it very astonishing.” For a fuller discussion of all details, we refer at length to his conclusive work, merely giving our vote in his favor, and against the ingenious hypothesis which it has become necessary to state and explain.

The Great Feast. — The original word for feast is “bread,” and this being united with “wine,” becomes the usual mode of describing an eastern feast, where the people are all great eaters of bread. “To eat bread,” and to “set on bread,” is the scriptural method of indicating a feast. The number of the guests may not have amounted to a thousand, as this is an eastern expression for a large and surprising number, yet it is not incredible, since Harmer has informed us that “a quadrangular court, within the first or outer gate of the palace, was made use of for this purpose.” f371 Willet reminds us of this eastern way of multiplying numbers by alluding to the 10,000 guests said to be present at Alexander’s feast, and each of whom received a golden cup. Ptolemy, the father of Cleopatra, made a similar banquet for Pompey. It is supposed to have been an annual solemnity in honor of some deity, and the art of “tasting of the wine” (verse 2) alludes to the custom of tasting the libation previous to the sacrifice. Wintle very appositely quotes Virgil, AEn. lib. i. 741, —

“Primaque libato summo tenus attigit ore.”

This view is rendered highly probable by the Chaldean custom recorded by Athenaeus, f372 of sacrificing to small images, of various metals, in human shape, an idolatry described in Baruch, Daniel 6: 3. Willet quotes Junius as stating that this feast occurred on the 16th day of the month Loon, when it approached in character the Saturnalia and Bacchanalia of the Greeks. “Tasting the wine” is rendered by the Vulgate and the Alexandrine version as if its sense were “drunken,” and thus the general idea of licentious revelry is carried out.


Dissertation 18.

THE QUEEN.

<270510>Daniel 5:10

Calvin doubts whether this was the wife or grandmother of Belshazzar. But there is another possible solution. Prideaux supposes she was the mother of the king, following the narrative of Herodotus, though Grotius and Josephus represent her as the widow of Nebuchadnezzar. The author of “The Times of Daniel” differs from the received view of the times of Nitocris; she reigned, he concludes, “in the generation before Nebuchadnezzar’s father.” Her name is not found in the Astronomical Canon, and consequently either Herodotus or the Canon must be mistaken. Nitocris, says Herodotus, lived five generations after Semiramis, but then, according to Bryant, eight different periods have been assigned for his reign, between A.C. 2177 and 713. Notwithstanding the celebrity which Herodotus has conferred upon his name, it is impossible now to ascertain whether she was the queen-mother alluded to in the text, but it is equally injudicious to pronounce positively that she was not. Hengstenberg has discussed this question with his usual sagacity. Heeren makes her the contemporary of Nebuchadnezzar, and probably his wife; but Hengstenberg inclines to the view of her being the queen-mother. “We may then justly compare what Herodotus says of Nitocris with that which occurs here of the queen, and it only need be quoted to shew a perfect agreement.” f373 Rosenmuller agrees with Jerome in thinking her the widow of Nebuchadnezzar, and Oecolampadius adopts the same view, when commenting with great spirit and animation on this point.


Dissertation 19.

THE HAND-WRITING ON THE WALL.

<270525>Daniel 5:25

We are constantly reminded of the necessity of a knowledge of words, if we would interpret aright the Word of God. That record which is emphatically “The Word,” is composed in detail of many words, and it is literally impossible so to understand Holy Scripture as to expound it fully, without a knowledge and use of single expressions. This remark is peculiarly applicable in the present instance. Calvin takes each word separately in the perfect tense, while in the Arabic, the past participle is used, viz., mensuratum, appensum, divisum.

anm, mene, is the participle pihel of the verb anm, mana, numeravit, meaning to set bounds to the continuance of anything.

lqt, tekel, is the Chaldee word for the Hebrew lq, shekel, to weigh — the shekel being a standard weight of silver money. The reference is to the Almighty weighing in the balances of Justice the conduct of the king.

≈ysrpw, upharsin et dividentes; Calvin thus literally, and Rosenmuller explains that the active participle plural is taken impersonally, and is thus equal to the part. pass. sing. The ending ˆ, n, it must be recollected, is the Chaldee equivalent for the Hebrew .

The allusion to the balance in relation to a kingdom is common among ancient classical writers. Homer, Iliad, lib. 22 and Virgil, AEn., lib. 12, contain instances; as well as the Paradise Lost, Book 6.


Dissertation 20.

THE MEDES AND PERSIANS.

<270528>Daniel 5:28

IT is highly interesting to the student of prophecy to trace the origin and progress of these empires which have gained repute in the history of our race. This interest is increased when we discover that the narratives of profane writers illustrate the sacred text. And as great efforts have been made to impugn the authenticity of this Book, we must again refer to some of the arguments which induce the best divines to rely on its historical accuracy.

The history of Media and its people frequently impinges upon the eccentric orbit of the Jewish tribes. It has been supposed that the name of the country was derived from ydk, chadi, the third son of Japhet, but this conjecture is rendered futile, when we remember that the first establishment of the kingdom dates only 150 years before Cyrus. It must never be forgotten, when treating of these early times, how very modern all writers are who lived after the times of Solomon. To us they appear ancient, and their authority for the truth of an event conclusive; but those historians of Asia, upon whom we are compelled to rely, lived many ages after the occurrences which they record. It seems now to be admitted, that we have lost many centuries between the flood and Abraham; hence the attempt to assign the origin of any empire to the immediate descendants of Noah is highly deceptive. We can only take the best testimony which we have, but with it we must correct the uncertainty of even the most positive assertions. The Medes, if we may trust Herodotus, were an offset from the Assyrians. They broke off from their sway, after the Assyrians had held the empire of Upper Asia for five hundred and twenty years. The interesting story of Deioces, and the foundation of Ecbatana is recorded, the account of that city corresponding precisely with that handed down to us in the Book of Judith. f374 In process of time the neighboring tribes were subdued and united, till Phraortes, having reduced the Persians under his dominion, led the united nations against the Assyrians. Cyaxares his son succeeded him, and both extended and consolidated the Median sway. Astyages, the grandfather of Cyrus, was his son and successor; and during the whole period of these monarchs’ reigns province after province was added to the growing empire. The constant testimony of history from Herodotus to Ctesias asserts the acquisition of Media by Cyrus to have been a forcible seizure. Here our chief object is to impress upon the reader the scantiness of our early materials, and the distance of time at which some of the historians who record them lived after the events. Ctesias, for instance, was a young physician at the Court of Artaxerxes, the brother of Cyrus the younger. Although he wrote twenty-three books of Persian history, we have but a few fragments collected by the diligence of Photion. Our attention is therefore turned with the greatest earnestness towards the deciphering of the monuments which abound on the banks of the rivers of Babylonia, and throughout the whole land of Shinar. These have become the best evidence in favor of the trustworthiness of Daniel, and against the ingenious and inconsistent guesses of neology.

M. M. J. Baillie Fraser and W. Francis Ainsworth have treated the geological and geographical portion of the subject with great success; the former in his work on “Mesopotamia and Assyria,” and the latter in “Geological Researches.” See also the two papers on “The rivers and cities of Babylonia” by the latter writer, in the New Monthly Magazine, August and September, 1845. The Duke of Manchester has collected much information from ancient historians, but has not availed himself of the antiquarian researches, which describe and identify the mounds and ruins at present in existence. Vauxs “Nineveh and Persepolis” also affords much material illustrative of this portion of Daniel.


Dissertation 21.

DARIUS THE MEDE.

<270531>Daniel 5:31

THE received views respecting this celebrated monarch have lately been impugned by the noble author of “The Times of Daniel.” He gives five reasons for believing him to be Darius Hystaspes instead of the Cyaxares of Xenophon, the uncle and father-in-law of Cyrus. This assertion will therefore require some notice in detail, and compel us to repeat some statements with which the student of ancient history is familiar.

The views of the author already alluded to are, thus expressed, — “Three kings,” it is said, “of the name of Darius occur in Scripture; must we not presume that the first Darius there corresponds with Darius the first in profane history? that the second in each equally agree; and that the third Darius, with whom the list terminates in Scripture, is the third Darius with whom the line of Persian kings closes?” There are strong marks in corroboration of the Median of this verse being Hystaspes; some of these are as follows: — First, each is said to have taken Babylon. Both levied taxes, so that the second verse of chapter. 6 is said to be parallel to Herodotus, Book 3, and Strabo, f375 Book 15. This levying taxes leads to a similar assertion respecting Ahasuerus in Esther, <170901>Esther 10:1, who reigned “from India even to Ethiopia.” (<170101>Esther 1:1.) “Now, Ahash-verosh, (meaning Ahasuerus,) who succeeded Darius the Median, reigned over India,” and, according to Herodotus, Darius Hystaspes conquered India; hence this Mede was Darius Hystaspes. Pliny’s testimony is brought forward to shew that Susa was built by this Darius; f376 Ahasuerus resided at Shushan, which is identical with Susa, hence the conclusion is the same. Other reasons are given, and other collateral assertions made. Authorities are quoted by which it is laid down that Ahasuerus was Xerxes, the history of Esther occurred during the captivity, the son of Ahasuerus was Darius Nothus, the third Darius was Codomanus. “To complete the evidence, I will contrast the identification which I propose with that which is now most generally approved of.” f377

CANON OF PTOLEMY

SCRIPTURE AS I PROPOSE

Darius the First

Darius the Median.

Xerxes

Ahashverosh.

Artaxerxes the First.

Artaxerxes the First, (Coresch.)

Darius the Second.

Darius the Second.

Artaxerxes the Second.

Son of Ahashverosh.

Ochus

Artaxerxes the Second.

Arostes.

 

Darius the Third.

Darius the Third, (fourth from Coresch, Daniel 11.)

 

It is also suggested that Jeremiah 50 and Jeremiah 51 of Jeremiah apply to this Darius and not to Cyrus, as Dr. Keith asserts. <245111>Jeremiah 51:11 and 28, are said to apply to Zopyrus, and the language of the chapter is on the whole more suitable to the capture of Babylon by this Darius, according to Herodotus, Book 3, than to that by Cyrus.

The commonly received view is stated shortly by Rosenmuller, — that this Mede was the Cyaxares II. of Xenophon, f378 the son of Astyages, the uncle and father-in-law of Cyrus. AEschylus, in his tragedy of the Persae, f379 introduces Darius the son of Hystaspes, recounting his origin from Darius the Mede. Josephus, in the tenth Book of his Antiquities, says he was the son of Astyages; and Theodoret, in his Commentary, identifies him with Cyaxares. Jerome states that, in conjunction with his uncle Cyrus, he subverted the Chaldean empire.

“If Xenophon’s account of Cyrus be in general admitted,” f380 says Wintle, “we cannot be at a loss to determine who was Darius the Mede; and if even the defeat of Astyages be received according to Herodotus, and it be placed in the tenth year of Cyrus’s reign over Persia Proper, yet there seems no necessity to conclude but that the kingdom of Media might still, with the consent of Cyrus, be continued to Cyaxares, his mother’s brother, who might retain it till his death, after the conquest of Babylon, which Herodotus attributes to Cyrus, after he had reduced the neighboring powers.” He next proceeds to obviate one or two chronological difficulties often considered as weighty objections to Xenophon’s account. “The name of Darius is omitted in the Canon, although he is allowed to have reigned more than one year, if he reigned at all. How shall we then reconcile his history with the Canon? and where or in what part must this reign be placed? The same answer will serve for both inquiries. The Canon certainly allots nine years to Cyrus over Babylon, of which space the two former years are usually allowed to coincide with the reign of Cyaxares or Darius the Mede by the advocates of Xenophon.” A MS. of Archbishop Secker is then quoted, in which he gives reasons why Berosus might have overlooked this reign as short-lived and nominal. Prideaux and Usher, and the Ancient Universal History, are referred to for additional information. f381 With reference to the period before us, it is concluded, from the close of this Daniel 5, “that Darius the Mede did not begin his reign till after the capture of Babylon; and this event I am inclined to place in the next year after the 17th of Nabonadius, in the 210th year of the Chaldean era, or 538 years before Christ, which was the first of Cyrus’s nine years. Whether the defeat of Nabonadius and the taking of the city happened near the same time, I need not determine; but it seems clear from Daniel, (<270531>Daniel 5:31,) as well as from Xenophon, that the king was slain on the same night that the city was taken; and this, I apprehend, must have happened about the real year of the captivity 67, supposing the fourth of Jehoiakim to agree with the year 605 before Christ, according to Blair.”

Here again the researches of Hengstenberg afford us valuable aid in discussing and reconciling the various statements of historians. The silence of Herodotus and Ctesias concerning a Median king of Babylon is noticed, and even concealment on the part of the Persians is shewn to be highly probable.


Dissertation 22.

CAPTURE OF BABYLON.

<270531>Daniel 5:31

IF the period of the city’s capture could be accurately determined, many difficulties would be cleared up. Calvin supposes it to have occurred in the last and eighth year of Belshazzar’s reign, but the majority of commentators place it in the seventeenth or eighteenth year. Willet makes his third year his last, as also Bullinger and Oecolampadius, and this is done by following the short Hebrew Chronicle, which places it at the fifty-second year of the desolation of Jerusalem, and the seventieth of the kingdom of Babylon. The Oriental Chronicle, according to the author of “The Times of Daniel,” assigns twenty years, and the Alexandrian Chronicle only four to this monarch; and such being the conflicting testimony of the most ancient and authentic documents, it naturally happens that modern writers select their own dates and their own systems according, first, to their own acquaintance with the subject; and next, to their own judgment of the best selection of authorities which can be made. The only class of divines who appear disingenuous in such selections are those Germans who attempt to impugn the historical accuracy of this Prophet, by tacitly assuming that there is no real, and positive, and consistent knowledge to be obtained from profane writers, and then by asserting that a pseudo-Daniel has displayed either ignorance, carelessness, or deception. They appeal to the historians of Greece, as if they were contemporary with the events which they record, and prefer throwing doubt upon the sacred narrative, to sifting the evidence upon which they believe the profane.


Dissertation 23.

THE THREE PRESIDENTS.

<270602>Daniel 6:2

This division of the kingdom into 120 provinces is exactly in accordance with the assertion of Xenophon, who says that Cyrus appointed satraps over the conquered nations. Usher, in his Annals, thinks that Darius followed the suggestion of Cyrus, who instituted this method of government. This verse is reconciled with the first of Esther, by remembering that after the conquest of Egypt by Cambyses, and of Thrace and India by Darius Hystaspes, seven provinces were added to the number. Junius, according to Willet, states, that after spending a year in settling the affairs of Babylon, he resigned all power to Darius. He approves of Calvin’s phrase, “regnare in commune,” implying the joint reign of both kings. Josephus is in error in multiplying the number by three. The reason for the appointment of these presidents may be understood variously. The Latin interpreter, says Willet, translates qzn, nezek, by molestiam, meaning “trouble,” Darius is represented as sixty-two years of age, and naturally fatigued by the wear and tear of an active life. Daniel is elevated to an office equivalent to that of the Turkish grand Vizier, and the crime imputed to him seems similar to that of Rome — “crimen laesae majestatis,” a kind of high treason. The word hl[, gnillah, (<270604>Daniel 6:4,) is translated by Wintle very appropriately “action” in the forensic sense, equivalent to the Greek aijtiva. These presidents and princes came in concourse and tumultuously before the king. The Vulgate “surripuerunt,” came by stealth, is disapproved by Wintle.

<270607>Daniel 6:7. The Decree by which Daniel was entrapped has occasioned the special cavil of Bertholdt and his adherents. They have treated it as an erroneous fiction, but have been appositely refuted by Hengstenberg. Oriental kings, he reminds us, were often treated as objects of exclusive worship. Heeren has stated “that the kings of the Medes and Persians were regarded and worshipped as representations and incarnations of Ormuzd.” f382 In the sacred books of the Zend religion, “Iran, the Medo-Bactrian kingdom under Gustasp, is to him the image of the kingdom of Ormuzd; the king himself the image of Ormuzd; Turan, the northern nomad land, where Afrasiat rules, is the image of the kingdom of darkness, under the rule of Ahriman.” The king was the visible manifestation of Ormuzd, like him, commanding, with unlimited power, the seven princes of the empire; next in rank to him were the representatives of the seven Amshaspands, who stood round the throne of Ormuzd. Similar testimony respecting the worship paid to the monarchs of the East, is given by Plutarch, Xenophon, Socrates, and Arrian. Curtius distinctly asserts, that the Persians worshipped their kings among their gods, so that the credibility of Daniel is fully vindicated by the records of profane antiquity. On the royal tombs at Persepolis, there are various sculptures representing the Persian kings as gods, and in De Sacy’s Persian inscriptions, they are termed the offspring of gods.

<270610>Daniel 6:10. Daniel’s Conduct And Prayer, as here recorded, have been questioned by some German critics, on the ground of practices and usages as yet unknown in Upper Asia. The custom of praying towards Jerusalem, it is said, did not arise among the Jews living abroad, till after the rebuilding of the temple. But it must not be forgotten that it prevailed among the Jews from early times. David prayed towards the sanctuary, and raised his hands towards it. The Dedication prayer of Solomon contains a distinct injunction to the same effect. The very place, says Stolberg, where the temple had stood and was again to stand, was holy to Daniel. f383 The hours, at which the Prophet offered up his prayer are said to belong to the fine-spun religiousness of the later Jews. But this assertion is made in forgetfulness of the ancient custom of all nations to have fixed and invariable periods for the worship of their deities. Willet approves of Calvins comments on this passage, and Oecolampadius considers it a thanksgiving for the encouraging beginning, happy success, and prosperous end of our undertakings. Willet also discusses the propriety of Daniel’s exposing himself thus openly to the malice of his enemies, after he knew of the king’s decree. He agrees on the whole with the practical comment of Calvin, and adduces it as an example of perseverance in the line of duty, in full confidence of the protecting power of God, and in defiance of all the malice of the most inveterate foes.

<270610>Daniel 6:10. The Open Windows Towards Jerusalem. — Various writers have supposed this action of the Prophet’s to be the result of ostentation. Calvin has treated this point ably, and Wetstein, in his Notes on <440113>Acts 1:13, has explained the nature of “the upper chamber” in the Jewish houses, and their use either as oratories or for other solemn or festive purposes. Shaw, in his Travels, alludes to their structure and use. The light was usually admitted into these upper rooms through large windows, and the Jews naturally turned towards Jerusalem in prayer, with earnest longing for speedy deliverance. The “three times a-day” has been used by Bellarmine f384 as an argument for the canonical hours of the Romish Church, and Pintus goes further to insist on seven, according to Psalm 119. But all these arguments which enforce Christian duties by Jewish practices are erroneous. Calvins principle is judiciously stated, but it is founded on enlightened and Christian common sense, and not in a blind adherence to Jewish traditions. Similar principles should guide us as to praying towards the east. Oecolampadius refers to the supposed Apostolic tradition of worshipping towards the east, but he reprobates it as superstitious. Nos patriam nostram in clis habemus, et a Deo originem. Irenaeus f385 ascribes this superstition as a heresy to the Ebionites. Daniel’s open profession of his faith in God has been censured as too bold and in judged for our imitation, but it has also been ably vindicated as an example of perseverance in religious duty when our conscience justifies us in maintaining God’s truth before men. Willet approves of Calvins distinction “of Confession, that it is of two sorts, cum palam testamur, quod est in animo, et ne aliquod perversoe simulationis signum demus.

While this sheet is passing through the press, a very illustrative work, confirming the historical accuracy of Daniel, has been published, entitled “Nineveh And Its Palaces: the Discoveries of Botta and Layard applied to the elucidation of Holy Writ; by Joseph Bonomi, F.R.S.L.” It contains the latest and best interpretations of the cuneiform inscriptions, and is worthy of attentive perusal.


Dissertation 24

THE KING’S DECEASE.

<270628>Daniel 6:28

Could we ascertain accurately when death closed “the reign of Darius,” most of the controversies concerning the history of these times and personages would be set at rest. We have first to determine who Darius was? and secondly, to discover whether a portion of his reign is contemporaneous with that of Cyrus? With respect to the first point, it ought to be fully understood that there is no actual correspondence between this monarch and any well-attested ruler mentioned in profane history. The balance of probabilities is in favor of his being Cyaxares, but we have already stated how Xenophon, Ctesias, and Herodotus differ on the point; and we are careful to repeat this, because the futility of the Neologian arguments might otherwise entrap the unwary. For instance, Dr. Wells has the following Note: — “It is to be observed that in Ptolemy’s Canon the two years of Darius the Mede’s reign are reckoned to Cyrus, who accordingly has therein nine years assigned for his reign; whereas Xenophon assigns but seven years to it, reckoning the first year the same as Ezra doth, viz., from the death of Darius and Cambyses.” Wintle again states, “there is no doubt but Darius the Mede, whoever he was, reigned, according to Daniel, from the capture of Babylon till this same first year of Cyrus, or till the commencement of the reign allotted by Scripture to Cyrus the Persian.” (Preface, where reference is made to a Memoir by M. Freret, containing many just and accurate dates assigned to the life and transactions of Cyrus.) The reader cannot fail to perceive that this sentence leaves the two important questions in as much doubt as ever. Dr. Eadie, of the American Presbyterian Church, states, too, positively, “The kingdom of Babylon was given by Cyrus to Darius the Mede, or Cyaxares II., as a reward for his services; and after his death, at the end of two years, this kingdom returned to Cyrus, and hence Cyrus is spoken of as if he were the successor of Darius at Babylon. <270628>Daniel 6:28.” — (Art., Daniel, in his Bibl. Cycl.) Willet informs us that Tertullian and Cyril of Jerusalem took Darius for Darius Hystaspes, and the noble Duke, to whom we have already referred, agrees in this opinion, and argues very elaborately in its favor.

The German Neologians have not been slow to construct a charge of inaccuracy against Daniel, in consequence of these historic difficulties. Bertholdt, Bleek, and De Wette, treat it as an error to call Cyaxares II. by the name of Darius, and suppose it a confusion with the son of Hystaspes. But before the commentator on Scripture ventures to use the phrase, “historic inaccuracy,” he must first clearly ascertain what historic accuracy really is. An unlearned reader might suppose from their reasonings that all the profane historians agreed in their accounts, and that the only element of confusion was that introduced by the narrative of Scripture. But the truth is far otherwise. No two authors agree in their statements throughout. Ancient history is, in fact, simply an ideal deduction from a variety of conflicting traditions. Of Cyaxares II., for instance, neither Herodotus nor Justin say anything. Neither of them mention any son of Astyages. Diodorus Siculus, Strabo, and Polyaenus, agree with them in asserting that the Median empire closed with Astyages, and the Persian began at once with Cyrus; and yet there is evidence to shew that Darius the Mede was a real person. “Still farther,” says Hengstenberg, “the author agrees in another special fact with profane history. Xenophon relates f386 that soon after the taking of Babylon, the conquered lands were divided into provinces, and governors set over them. All this is stated in our book, too.” Are we, indeed, to infer, from a mere difference of names, that the author is chargeable with confounding them? The Cambyses of profane writers is called in the book of Ezra, Achaschverosh (Ahasuerus). Pseudo-smerdis bears in profane writers two different names — in Ctesias, Spendates; in Justin, Oropastes; and in Ezra he appears under a third name, Artachshasta (Artaxerxes). “Now, why is this appearance in all other cases unanimously explained on the ground that the names of kings were not nomina propria, but surnames, whilst, on the contrary, in this single instance, this explanation is not once proposed as possible? And yet in this very case this explanation is quite natural, since it is generally allowed that the name Darius in particular is an appellation. That it was a mere title appears from this, that several different kings bear it.” Herbelot says the name Dara is Persian, and appellative, signifying “sovereign.” f387

When we descend to the historians of the Christian era, we find in the Armenian Chronicle of Eusebius a confirmation of the narrative under review. In a short appendix to a fragment of Abydenus, found also in the Praeparatio Evangelica, Darius is distinctly mentioned as king; so that if it be impossible to be certain as to the identity of this king with Cyaxares, yet it must be remembered that profane history, independently of Scripture, is at variance with itself, and that no new clement of discord is introduced by our Prophet. Let the objector first settle what the events connected with the overthrow of Babylon from uninspired authorities really were, and we shall then be prepared to shew that the writer of this book was free from inaccuracies, and that all the obscurity hovering over the subject arises from our very imperfect knowledge of the occurrences of this period. And the more fully the assertions of the Neologists are investigated, the more baseless will their charges against this Prophet of Jehovah appear.

THE PROLONGATION OF DANIEL’S LIFE.

<270628>Daniel 6:28

THE prolongation of our Prophet’s life till the era specified in this verse, is worthy of our notice, that we may, if possible, accurately ascertain his age at leading periods of his history. We cannot ascertain precisely the year of his entrance into public life. He was born shortly before King Josiah’s death, probably about 620 B.C.; and thus he had many opportunities of cultivating that early piety for which he was conspicuous. He was about fourteen years old when taken captive to Babylon. Three years afterwards, the king of Israel threw off the Babylonian yoke, and thus he and his companions became hostages and forerunners of the capture of the whole nation. From Jahns Biblical Antiquities, we learn how skilled he was in various sciences after three years’ training, (pages 99, 100;) and the high opinion which was entertained of his integrity, wisdom, and piety, is confirmed by this remarkable honor paid to him by the Prophet Ezekiel. He is connected, while alive, with Noah and Job. (See <261414>Ezekiel 14:14, and Calvin’s comment on the passage in our Edition, volume 2.)

The dream and its interpretation in Daniel 2 occurred during Daniel’s youth, and resulted in his promotion with his three friends to the highest offices of the kingdom. We now lose sight of him for thirty years, and it is impossible to determine whether he sat at the king’s gate during the whole of this period. The erection of the image on the plains of Dura, and the subsequent punishment of his three companions, seem inconsistent with his residence at that time at Babylon as an adviser of his sovereign. The three “children,” as they are termed in <270117>Daniel 1:17, were now about fifty years of age; and it has become necessary to remark this, because some have spoken of them as still children when thus miraculously delivered from destruction. We too often take for granted impressions of this kind, which we have imperceptibly imbibed in our earliest days; and besides this, the works of the great masters in painting have fostered the error. These splendid productions of European art are often glaringly untrue, yet while based upon fabulous anachronisms, they too often adhere to the imagination, and influence our thoughts in days of more mature advancement. At the period of the dream in Daniel 4 Daniel was about fifty years of age; and thus we have another gap of about fifteen years. Belshazzar had now ascended his grandfather’s throne. The mystic characters on the wall soon reveal a fearful reality. Darius the Mede still esteems the upright counselor, and he had become a venerable “ancient of days” before he is thrust into the lion’s den. During the first year of King Darius, he learned, from the Book of Jeremiah, the approaching period of Judah’s deliverance. During the third year of Cyrus, he is favored with a vision on the banks of the Tigris. (<241001>Jeremiah 10:1-4.) We cannot ascertain how long he lived after this period, but he was at least eighty years of age when he died. Various assertions and traditions exist among the Jews respecting both the time and place of his decease, and these have passed current, through the unsuspecting simplicity of some of our older expounders, who record as certain the hazardous statements of the authorities on which they rely. Dr. Wells, after comparing various dates, concludes, “that Daniel was about eighty-nine or ninety years old in the third year of Cyrus;” he pays no regard to the conjectures of some, who make him to have lived one hundred and thirty-eight, or one hundred and fifty years, and adds the possibility of his reaching one hundred years.

Our object in view in impressing this chronology is to disabuse the public mind of the Romish ideas connected with what they term, “The song of the three children.” Their usual method of treating these three martyrs for truth and holiness is utterly erroneous, and like every other error of theirs, injurious and pernicious in proportion as it deviates from the Written And Infallible Word Of The Living God.


Dissertation 25.

THE VISION OF THE FOUR BEASTS

<270701>Daniel 7:1-3

Our preceding volume having closed the historical portion of Daniel’s Prophecies, our second volume is occupied with Calvin’s comments upon those Prophetic Visions, which have ever excited the deepest interest in the minds of thoughtful Christians. The interval of time from the first verse of this chapter to the beginning of Daniel 10 is about twenty-two years. The vision of This chapter is the only one written in Chaldee, and its similarity to that of 2 may account for the same language being used in both.

The most appropriate method of illustrating these Lectures, is that of quoting the views of various eminent Reformers and later divines who have ably discussed the Prophet’s language, and then comparing them with the solutions proposed by our Lecturer.

<270704>Daniel 7:4. — The lion with eagle’s wings is supposed to bear some likeness to the vulture-headed Nisroch, with which the late Assyrian discoveries have rendered us familiar. Vaux, in his “Nineveh and Persepolis,” page 32, quotes the inquiry of Beyer in his notes to Selden’s work De Diis Syriis, as to a connection between this far-famed Assyrian deity and the representation recorded in this verse. Rosenmuller explains the plucking of the wings as a deprivation of any ornament, or faculty, or innate vigor, and quotes Cicero, Ep. ad Att., lib. 4, ep. 2, in reference to this deplumatio. The last clause, “a man’s head was given to it,” is well explained by Jerome of Nebuchadnezzar’s return to his kingdom after his banishment, and his receiving the heart which he had lost. The frontispiece on the title-page of Bonomis “Nineveh and its Palaces,” is a most accurate representation of this verse. The work contains many excellent engravings, explanatory of the symbolic language of this Prophet.

<270705>Daniel 7:5. — The raising of the bear on one side is interpreted by Theodoret and Jerome of the invasion of the Chaldean empire by the Persian. The protrusions from its mouth are thought by Wintle to be “tusks,” but Rosenmuller objects to this supposition. Wintles notes are on the whole so very judicious, that we do not hesitate again to recommend the reader to peruse them, as in most instances they confirm the interpretations adopted in these Lectures. Hippolytus, as quoted by Oecolampadius in loc., explains the three “ribs” of the three people, Assyrians, Medes, and Babylonians. The opinion of our Reformer, volume 2, page 16, is sound and satisfactory.

<270706>Daniel 7:6. — “Four wings on its back.” This symbolical representation occurs in the Nineveh sculptures. See Bonomi, page 257, and elsewhere.

<270707>Daniel 7:7. — The Fourth Beast of this verse has so usually been treated as the Roman Empire, that it simply becomes necessary to cite the exceptions to this opinion. Rosenmuller records an attempt to refute this interpretation by J. C. Becman, in a dissertation on the Fourth Monarchy, published in 1671, at Frankfort-on-the-Oder, and gives a slight sketch of his argument. Dr. Todd, in his able “Lectures on Antichrist,” has made use of every possible argument against applying this to the Roman Empire, and his theory has been fairly stated and ably opposed by Birks in his “First Elements of Sacred Prophecy.” London, 1843. With reference to this fourth beast, Dr. Todd believes it to be still future; and hence his expositions are classed with those of the Futurists. Our readers will remember, that as an expositor of prophecy, Calvin is a Praeterist, and that his general system of interpretation is as remote from the year-day theory of Birks, Faber, and others, as from the futurist speculations of Maitland, Tyso, and Todd. Notwithstanding the disagreement between these Lectures and the writings of Birks, we strongly recommend their perusal by every student who would become thoroughly proficient in the prophecies of Daniel. The first step towards progress, is to surrender all our preconceived notions, and to prepare for the possibility of their vanishing away before the force of sanctified reason and all-pervading truth.

The Jewish commentators are specially careful to deny the application of this fourth empire to the Romans. Rabbis Aben Ezra and Saadiah interpret it of the Turkish sway, and extend it to times stilt present and yet future. The Son of man they hold to be Messiah, who in their opinion has not yet arrived. A different interpretation has been suggested by Lacunza in La Venda del Messias en Gloria, y Magestad, translated by the Revelation E. Irving. 2 vols. 8vo. London, 1827. Parte 2 Fenemeno 1. The opinion that the fourth empire is Alexander and his successors, is contained in Venemas Dissert. ad Vaticin. Daniel emblem. 4to. Leovard, 1745.

Rabbi Sal. Jarchi understands the three ribs of <270705>Daniel 7:5, to be those things of Persia, Cyrus, Ahasuerus, and Darius who destroyed the Temple. The ten kings he thinks to be the emperors of Rome from Julius Caesar to Vespasian. The mouth speaking proud things of <270708>Daniel 7:8, he refers to Titus, thus adopting the supposition that the fourth empire is heathen Rome.

Maldonatus expounds the passage of heathen Rome, and feels his wrath stirred up against those “Heretics and Lutherans” who bring it down to Papal times, and rejoices in the opportunity of quoting Calvin, “their master,” against “the absurdity” of his disciples. See Comment. in Dan., page 673. But the learned Jesuit ought to have known that the celebrated Abbot Joachim, the founder of the Florentine order at the close of the 12th century, interpreted this empire of the mystic Babylon and the Papal Antichrist. He did not hesitate to apply the dates of this prophecy to the definite period of three years and a half, from a.d. 1256 to 1260. He was a bold forerunner of those modern expounders, who take exactly the same view of the Papacy as himself. See British Mag., volume 16, pages 370 and following; also pages 494 and following; and Liber de Flore Telesforus Cusentinus. Fol. 29, a. apud Todd, page 460.


Dissertation 26.

THE TEN HORNS

<270707>Daniel 7:7

The controversy which has arisen between commentator’s respecting these ten horns, refers first to the question, were they “kings” or “kingdoms?” And next, if “kings,” who are they? and if kingdoms, what are they? They are usually supposed to be the kingdoms into which the Roman Empire was divided. Vitringa in his Commentary on the Apocalypse, page 788, enumerates them after his own method, and the variety in the reckoning of these kingdoms is so great, that it has been used by many writers as an objection to their being kingdoms at all. Augustine (De. civit. Del., lib. 20, c. 23) considers the number “ten” to be indefinite, and to include all the kings of the Roman Empire. Willet, in loc., has collected a variety of interpretations from different writers; while Tyso gives a table of twenty-nine distinct lists, shewing that sixty-five different kingdoms and persons have been suggested. Elucidation of the Prophecies. 8vo, London, 1838, pages 100-114.

Rosenmuller treats them as kings. With him the fourth empire is not Rome, but that of the Seleucidae and Lagidae. By this assumption ten kings are easily found among those who reigned over both Egypt and Syria between Alexander and Antiochus Epiphanes, who on this plan is the Little Horn. He simply states his opinion without supporting it by any arguments. It by no means requires any, as the statement itself becomes its best refutation. This view was adopted by Bertholdt, and has been overthrown by Hengstenberg, with his usual learning and ability. See pages 164 and following, of the work cited in volume 1. The determination of some German writers to make Antiochus Epiphanes the Little Horn, has induced them to divide the four empires thus: — the Chaldean, Median, Persian, and Macedonian, the last including the various kingdoms which sprung from it. See Eichorn Einl., 4to, Ausg., B. 4, page 48; also the works of Jahn, Dereser, De Wette, and Bleek, ap. Hew. pages 161-169.

Some light is thrown on this subject by Fry in his Second Advent, volume 2, page 16, edit. 1822, London. He translates this and other visions and prophecies of Daniel with great clearness, and the hundred pages which he devotes to their explanation are well worthy of perusal. They contain many judicious quotations from Sir Isaac Newton, Mede, Faber, and the most celebrated English expounders of prophecy. As he considers the fourth beast the Roman Empire, and extends its duration throughout the modern history of Europe, he adopts the views of Bishop Chandler and Faber, as to the ten horns being ten kingdoms into which that empire was divided after the irruption of the barbarians. The northern nations parceled out the Roman Empire among themselves. These nations invaded the empire and settled within it. Now, it appears from history, that there were ten principal kingdoms into which the Roman Empire was divided. These ten primary kingdoms are then enumerated according to Machiavel; but it is beyond our province to pursue this view of the subject further; it is enough to refer to Frys translations of difficult passages of this Prophet, as clear, sound, and judicious. The Editor deems it his duty to point out the best opinions and explanations wherever he may find them; and to direct the reader’s attention especially to those which illustrate our Reformer’s Commentary.


Dissertation 27.

THE LITTLE HORN

<270708>Daniel 7:8

The Expositor who sympathizes most with our Lecturer among writers of our own day, is the late Professor Lee, of Cambridge. In his translations of the Hebrew Scriptures he is unrivaled; no scholar of our age can approach him in the extent of his learning or the soundness of his erudition. His expository system of the prophecies of Daniel and St. John will meet in these days with the most vehement condemnation, and it happily does not fall within the province of the Editor of these Lectures to express any other opinion, than that they throw light upon the views of our Reformer. It will be sufficient at present to refer the reader to his valuable work, entitled “An Inquiry into the Nature, Progress, and End of Prophecy,” Cambridge, 1849. He discusses the subject of our second volume from page 152, to page 230, and translates the Hebrew and Chaldee text of Daniel, adding valuable explanatory notes. Before the student is competent to pass an opinion on the Professor’s hermeneutical conclusions, he should be intimately familiar with his elaborate verbal criticisms.

The fourth kingdom he holds to be the Roman, and specifies, especially, “the Lower Roman Empire;” the ten horns are “a series of kings, each serves constituting a universal empire for the time being” The Little Horn is said to be “the latter rule of the Roman power,” (p. 165.) All reference to Antiochus Epiphanes is denied; and the argument is concluded by the following sentence, — “By every consideration, therefore, it is evident that the Little Horn of Daniel’s seventh and eighth chapters is identically the same, and that this symbolized that system of Roman rule which ruined Jerusalem, and then made war upon the sainted servants and followers of the Son of man; and in this he prospered and practiced, until he in his turn fell, as did his predecessors, to rise no more at all,” (p. 168.)

This vision has been ably and fully illustrated by Professor Bush of New York, in “the Hierophant,” 1844; and as the American Professor’s “exposition” is exceedingly clear, and full, and instructive, a few quotations from it are inserted here. “We propose, if possible, to ascertain the true character of the judgment here depicted, and by a careful collation of other Scriptures to determine its relations to the series of events connected with the second coming of Christ and its grand cognate futurities.” “This Little Horn,” he asserts, “is unquestionably the ecclesiastical power of the Papacy,” and “the judgment commences a considerable time prior to the transition of the beast from his pagan to his Christian state.”... “This horn did not arise till after the empire received its deadly wound by the hands of the Goths.” This divergence from the sentiments of our Reformer compels us to avoid quoting at greater length Professor Bush’s scheme of interpretation. It is ably planned and carefully executed. He supposes the Little Horn to prevail against the saints for 1260 years; adding, “nothing is more notorious than that the Roman Empire, after subsisting not far from the space of 1260 years from its foundation, did succumb to the sword of its Gothic invader, and about a.d. 476 became imperially extinct, under its then existing head.” This forms another period for the supposed termination of the 1260 years, very different from that usually maintained by British authors. It is said to be renewed again in the time of Charlemagne, and the testimony of Sigonius, Hist. de Reg. Ital., Book 4, page 1.58, is quoted in proof of this. See Hierophant, page 156.


Dissertation 28.

THE ANCIENT OF DAYS — THE SON OF MAN

<270709>Daniel 7:9 and <270713>Daniel 7:13

This expression is treated actively by Wintle,— “He that maketh the days old,” and, consequently, ready to expire or cease. The Deity he supposes to be meant by this term, and refers us for an explanation of the human attributes assigned to the Divine Being, to Dr. Sam. Clarke’s Sermons, volume 1, Discertation 5:Grotius very appositely reminds us that the ancient thrones and since circles had wheels; and Rosenmuller treats them as indicating the velocity with which God beholds and judges all things. Some Jewish writers read thrones were taken away; implying’ the overthrow of the dominions of this world, and the setting up of flint of Messiah. Both Rabbis Levi and Saadias apply this passage to the future prosperity of Israel alone.

OecoIampadius supposes Christ to be here signified as the lamb slain from the beginning of the world, and therefore “Ancient.” After quoting Chrysostom and Basil on the phrase, “The books were opened,” he pointedly inquires, “But what need of books? every man’s conscience will be its own open volume.” The Christian tone of this commentator’s sentiments renders his writings far more valuable than most of those of his own and of succeeding ages. It treats this chapter with his usual skill and spirituality, differing however in some points from the general tenor of these Lectures. It enumerates the four visions of these last six chapters: the first and last of them, he states, relate to the persecutions to arise under Antichrist the second, in Daniel 8, to the profanation of the Temple under Antiochus; and the third, in the ninth chapter, to its devastation under Titus. He does not take the word “kings” for the monarch simply, but includes under the term their counselors, warriors, and ministers of state. “A king” with hint, refers to a monarch’s successors as well as himself. He quotes at length from Eusebius, Evan. Dem., book 15, the well-known passage in which this vision is recorded at full length. His illustrations of the first three beasts is judicious, and we have previously stated (volume 1, page 427) his view of the fourth empire as coinciding with Calvin’s. He refutes the comments of Polychronius and Aben Ezra, who apply the fourth kingdom to Alexander’s successors; and objects to Jerome, and Lactantius, and Ireneus, who treat the ten kings as ten monarchies springing from heathen Rome. The number ten is not taken literally, but mystically, for a perfect number, that is, one made up by adding one and two, and three and four. The ten horns, he thinks, follow the fourth beast, existing during his; own age and leading on directly to Antichrist. He approves of Apollinarius, who interprets the 8th verse of Antichrist, and then explains, very copiously, his sentiments as to where he is to be found. “Very possibly,” he remarks, “the Gregories, the Alexanders, and the Julii, did not displease God so strikingly while occupying the Papal chair: God only is their judge. But during this reign such innumerable enormities are committed as are worthy of the true Antichrist, and thus rebound upon their heads.” He then runs the parallel between Mohamed and the Papacy, and with great accuracy and spirit treats the false prophet as the Antichrist of the east, and the Roman Pontiff as corresponding to him throughout the west. The “eyes of a man” of <270708>Daniel 7:8, are explained of the bland and benignant appearance of this insinuating personage, while the blasphemies of his mouth are interpreted of the impious boastings of Mohamed and the Pope. The manner in which both Mohamed and the Papacy have “changed the times,” is amply discussed, and the language of both Daniel and St. John made applicable to the modern history of the religions of the Crescent and the Cross throughout both Asia and Europe.

In commenting on <270709>Daniel 7:9, he refers it to the future destination of Antichrist, and comparing’ this passage with St. John, states his view of the three and a half years, or forty-two months, or half-week. Seven is a perfect number representing perpetuity, and God who is perpetually angry stops half way in his course of punishment. Oecolampadius is severe upon the Chiliasts, similar to the Futurists of our day, who expect one personal Antichrist yet to be revealed. Although he calls them “semi-Jews,” yet their solution of this great problem of prophecy may after all turn out to be the right one, and Christendom hereafter may yet vindicate their far-seeing sagacity. The remainder of the chapter is connected with the second coming of Christ to judgment, and the final victory of the saints when the harvest of the world shall be gathered in, and “the righteous shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” The introduction of the Antichrist and the Papacy with the Mohammedan imposture, existing as they have done for many years since the first advent, and as it is assumed they will do till the second advent, gives the tone to the comments of Oecolampadius very different from that of Calvin. It becomes highly instructive to compare and contrast them, as in this way we may derive profit from both, and correct our own presumption, if we are tempted to esteem either as necessarily and exclusively perfect.

<270709>Daniel 7:9. — “The thrones were cast down” — Authorized Version. Professor Bush agrees with Calvin, volume 2, page 32, in preferring were set, placed, or arranged, bringing forward as his supporters, Jerome, Arias Montanus, the Syriac, Arabic, and Genevan versions, besides Luther’s and Diodati’s. “The saints who are subsequently said to have possessed the kingdom formed the celestial conclave, and sat upon the encircling thrones.” He prefers the meaning, “Permanent of days,” or, “Enduring of days,” to the common rendering “Ancient of days.” Cocccius favors this expression, and also Michaelis, who assigns the primary sense of enduring and abiding to the Hebrew word. See also <183107>Job 31:7, and <233318>Isaiah 33:18. The designation, enduring of days, undoubtedly carries with it a latent contrast to the many vicissitudes, and the transient nature of the thrones and kingdoms here shadowed forth as the antagonist dominions to that of God everlasting. He then quotes Calvin’s remarks on this verse as “singularly appropriate and striking.” His garment (literally) was as the white snow. The resplendent white of his spotless garments indicated the exquisite equity, justice, and impartiality of his judgments, while the locks of his hair, purer than the washed wool of the fairest fleeces, indicate nothing of the imbecility of extreme old age, but the considerate gravity, the ripened reflection, the mature wisdom, the enlightened experience, the venerable authority, and the calm decision, which are naturally associated with the “hoary head.” Referring to the fairy throne and the burning wheels, he adds, “As the entire gorgeous apparatus described by the Prophet, has reference primarily to a period anterior to new Testament times, when the kingdom of God had not yet obtained that fixedness which is attributed to it in subsequent visions, therefore his throne is represented with the accompaniment of wheels. The scene, he states, “Is a judgment which transpires on the earth in the providence of God, and not a judgment at the end of the world, as often understood by the readers of revelation.”… “The scenery is to be regarded as ideal and not real. It is the celestial shadow of a terrestrial reality. The whole scene, which is impartially described as transpiring in heaven, does really take place in the providence of God on earth, so these judges and co-assessors are really men, who are made agents in executing the divine purposes relative to the overthrow of the anti-Christian dominion represented by the Beast and the Little Horn.” The professor, though differing from Calvin on some points, strongly corroborates his opinions on others. The statements on pages 26 and 28 of this volume are expanded and enforced in various passages in the Hierophant. For instance, on page 109, “That the vision and scene does not refer to what is usually termed ‘the last judgment’ to take place at some future period, and simultaneously with the final resurrection and consummation of all things, is obvious from the whole tenor of the vision. The judgment is a local judgment, and the object of it, not the whole race of men, but a particular despotic, persecuting, idolatrous, and blasphemous power, which the counsels of heaven have doomed to destruction.” This is entirely in accordance with Faber. See Calvin of Proph., volume 2, page 108.

<270713>Daniel 7:13.The Son of Man. He is usually admitted to be the Messiah. Hengstenberg remarks upon our Lord’s reasons for using this designation of himself. He aptly compares various passages in St. Matthew’s Gospel with those of this chapter, and shews how they bear upon the genuineness of Daniel’s prophecies.)

Oecolampadius refutes the notions of the Jews who treat the phrase “the Son of man,” as their own nation. He argues against Rabbi Saadias and the Chiliasts, and after fully upholding the union of the divine with the human natures in Christ, he approves of the instructive comments of Chrysostom and Cyril. His coming to the Ancient of Clays is explained by St. Paul’s assert. ion, He shall deliver up the kingdom to his Father; and thus the victory of the saints becomes that final triumph of righteousness, which shall be visibly displayed at the second advent of the Redeemer.

The possession of the kingdom by the saints of the most high, (<270722>Daniel 7:22,) was interpreted by the early Fathers, of the general spread of Christianity after the first advent. Professor Lee, in replying to Dr. Todd, has collected their testimony to the reign of Christ and his saints, as spread far and wide in the very earliest period of the Gospel history. His list of authorities will support the system of interpretation adopted by Calvin.

See Tertullian adv. Jud., page 105. Ed. 1580.

Irenoeus. Edit. Grabe, pages 45, 46, 221, etc.

Justin Martyr. Edit. Thirlby, pages 369, 328, 400.

Cyprian. adv. Jud, Book 2:passim, and De Unit. Eccl., page 108. Edit. Dodwell. Euseb. Hist. Eccl., Book 8, and elsewhere. De, Vit. Const., Book 1, chapters 7, 8, and his other writings.

Fabricii Lux. Sanct. Evan. contains similar extracts from the earliest Fathers to the same purpose.

For the Professor’s own view, see his Treatise on the Covenants, page 112 and following. He is ably supported by Professor Bush, who correctly limits this vision to the first establishment of the reign of Messiah, and the early preaching of the Gospel. The American Professor throws great light on the passage, by a clear and comprehensive criticism on the Hebrew words. His remarks on the Son of man coming with the clouds of heaven, are ingenious. He does not understand the word “clouds” in its ordinary sense, but as denoting “a multitude of heavenly attendants.” He quotes <520401>1 Thessalonians 4:19, from which he concludes that the meaning is not that we shall be caught up into the clouds, but in multitudes. The Son of man being brought to the Ancient of days is said to set forth the investiture of the Son of man with that vice-regal lordship, which he, in the divine economy, held over the nations of the earth and through the perpetuity of time. “The paramount question to be resolved, is that of the true epoch of this ordained assumption by the Messiah of the majesty of the kingdom. He then determines the question exactly as Calvin does, by saying, “This we think is plainly to be placed at the Savior’s ascension.”... “It is in this passage of Daniel that we find the germ of nearly all the announcements of the New Testament, relative to the founding of that spiritual monarchy.”... “Conceiving the clouds then, in the Prophet’s vision, as being really clouds of angels, we shall be better prepared to understand the drift of the New Testament narrative, <440109>Acts 1:9. It was by this cloud of celestial attendants that he was brought, in the language of Daniel, to the Ancient of days, for him to receive the seals, as it were, of that high office which he was to fill as head of the universal spiritual empire now to be set up.” There is, therefore, we conceive, no greater mistake in regard to the whole rationale of this prophecy, than to understand the judgment and the coming of the Son of man here mentioned, as the final judgment and final coming of Christ synchronical with an anticipated physical catastrophe of the globe.

Professor Bush quotes Calvin on <270712>Daniel 7:12 with approbation, and adds the Rabbinical paraphrase of Jaachiades, in support of their joint conclusions. Vitringa, in his Dissertations on the Emblems of this Prophet, page 504, elicits a different sense. He makes the “life” and the “dominion” identical. Sir J. Newton maintains that the three beasts were, in the eye of prophecy, still living in his day, and were to be sought for where their geographical seat existed at the time of their ascendancy. — Observ. on Daniel, page 31. Although Bishop Newton and others agree with him, there is no foundation for this ingenious conjecture. Medes view is different still, and Bush points out “a serious and probably an insuperable objection to it;” while he glides off himself to the “leading despotisms of the East, including perhaps those of Russia and Turkey,” contrary to the sentiments expressed in page 26 of this volume See pages 162, 163.

An important question has arisen among Commentators, as to the import of the word “kings” in <270717>Daniel 7:17. Does it refer to persons or to dynasties? Professor Bush argues for a symbolical sense, and quotes Theodotion, who renders it “kingdoms.” It is next asserted, that the term kingdom is not to be applied to “a purely regal form of government,” but to “any form of national existence in which we can recognize in established ruling power.” Havernick remarks, that “kings” here stands in the concrete for dynasties or kingdoms, the representation of kingdoms for the kingdoms themselves. The word “kingship” expresses this idea of Havernick’s better than kingdom. Bush treats it as a denomination potiore, which he aptly translates “a titling from the chief.

<270718>Daniel 7:18. — The Saints of the Most High. This phrase is said by Bush to indicate the Jews, “as forming a part at least of the saints who are to be the possessors of the kingdom here spoken of.” There are strong grounds for believing that the holy people which were to be destroyed and scattered, (<270824>Daniel 8:24, and <271207>Daniel 12:7,) were the Jews. Daniel’s grief was occasioned, in great measure, by a foresight of the cruel oppressions to which his own people were to be subjected during the dominion of the Beast and Little Horn.” The plural form of the word, which Calvin accurately preserves and notices, is said to recall, “that holy and devoted people who are born from above.” Bush translates sancti altissimorum, the saints of the most High Ones.


Dissertation 29.

THE PROPHETIC MEANING OF “A TIME.”

<270725>Daniel 7:25

It is important to determine accurately the meaning of this and similar phrases. The word “time” is, as Calvin remarks, naturally indefinite, while its use in this Prophet leads to the conclusion that it means “years.” The passage in <270416>Daniel 4:16, “Seven times,” is usually understood to mean seven years, although nothing can fairly rest upon this interpretation. The phrase of this verse is usually taken to mean half of seven times, and is used again in <271207>Daniel 12:7. The other passages which refer to periods of time are expressed more definitely, for instance, 2300 “evenings and mornings,” <270814>Daniel 8:14-26; the seventy weeks or seven, <270924>Daniel 9:24; the 1290 “days,” <271211>Daniel 12:11, and the 1335 days, <271212>Daniel 12:12. “The terms in the first four instances,” says Bickersteth, in his Practical Guide to the Prophecies, edit. sixth, 1839, page 184, “are in themselves quite ambiguous and general. There is nothing to determine, respecting the number 2300, and the seventy weeks, whether years or days be intended; but analogy would lead us to suppose that all were to be interpreted on a common principle.” He goes on to say, “It appears from <271207>Daniel 12:7, that the close of the three times and a half is closely connected with the gathering of the Jews; and from <380118>Zechariah 1:18-21, that the power of the four Gentile monarchies is then broken; and this confirms the extended meaning of both. God looks at the whole course of this world’s history as but a few days. Daniel, when he heard the period of the times and a half announced by the angel, understood not, and on inquiry received the answer, The words are sealed to the time of the end; and an intimation is given, that even when unsealed, only the wise would understand. We thus learn that the meaning couched under this expression was purposely concealed for a time, but was afterwards to be unfolded to the wise. The promise is not of a fresh revelation, but of an explanation of a period already given. And there seems to have been a wise end in this veiling of the time, as it would have been staggering to the faith, and deadening to the hopes of the Israelites, if the whole of the interval had been openly and explicitly declared,” page 186. This excellent man was an advocate of the symbolizing sense of chronological expressions; thus on the “seven times,” he says; “this seems plainly to denote the season during which the Gentile dominion of the four monarchies should be corrupt and worldly, as afterwards exhibited in the four beasts coming up from the sea.” Again, “the seven times” would then answer to “the times of the Gentiles” mentioned by our Lord. He also makes the following statements — “The time, times, and half a time, the forty-two months and 1260 days, are the same interval; the time, times, and half, of Daniel and the Revelation are the same period; a prophetic day is a natural year; the three and a half times are the half of seven times, the whole season of Gentile power, and the same with the latter times of St. Paul. A time denotes 360 years, and chronos is equivalent to kairos,” (p. 365.) As these assertions are not to be found anywhere in Holy Scripture, Calvin has manifested his wisdom, by expounding the text as he finds it, and avoiding all conjectural statements. As a specimen, however, of a scheme on the opposite principles to those maintained in these Lectures, we will quote one final passage on this subject, headed Particular Times, (p. 366.) “The time, times, and half, and 1260 days of Revelation are the same period. The forty-two months have a date rather later, like the two dates of the seventy years’ captivity;” (yet observe the previous extract. — Ed) “The 1290 and 1335 days of Daniel both commence with the 1260 days of Revelation, or time, times, and a half, of both prophecies; the seven times of the Gentiles begin with the subjection of Israel under Shamanezer; the three and a half times begin with Justinian’s eternal code, a.d. 532-3; the forty-two months close nearly with the 1335 days; the forty-two months begin a.d. 604, or a.d. 607-8, with the re-union of the ten kingdoms, or the public establishment of idolatry; the 1335 days end in a.d. 1867-8.” The arguments in favor of this theory, directed chiefly against the Futurists, are found in the “First Elements of Sacred Prophecy,” from chapter. 12, page 308, to the end of the volume. Similar discussions are contained in “The Morning Watch,” passim, especially one on “The Sacred numbers,” volume 5, pages 273-285, London, 1832. The reader who is curious in such numerical calculations will find much to his taste in the volumes of this periodical.

Brooks, in his useful compendium, “Elements of Prophetical Interpretation,” has devoted Daniel 10 to “Time mystically expressed.” He examines at full length the argument of Maitland, who contends for the literal meaning of days, in “An Inquiry into the grounds on which the prophetic period of Daniel and St. John has been supposed to consist of 1260 years.” Brooks brings forward the usual reasonings by which the literal meaning of the word “day” is supposed to be overthrown, and combats Maitland with much spirit. He settles it rather positively, that “the literal meaning of a time is a year, and then considers the expression of this verse 25, “may signify, mystically, if calculated by lunar time, a period of 1260 years.” Some, it is added, “have considered that a time means mystically a century of years.” Vitringa states this to be the view of the Waldenses, who hoped for a speedy termination to their persecutions, and were persuaded that the anti-christian power which opposed them could only last 350 years. Bengelius at one time adopts, and at another rejects the year-day explanation, and modifies it according to his pleasure in his “Introduction to the Interpretation of the Apocalypse,” translated by Robertson, pages 147, 212, 258. “Another important principle to be kept in view is, the high probability that there may be a mystical fulfillment of some of the dates and facts connected with the chronological prophecies, and a literal fulfillment likewise.” Speculations of this kind are by no means in the spirit of Calvin’s comments; he carefully avoids all such expressions as “mystical days,” yet the reader will find in this little volume many extracts from writers of repute, illustrating the prominent features of Daniel’s prophecies.

Professor Bush, in the Hierophant, page 180, comments with great critical ability upon the Hebrew word signifying “time” in this verse. He compares it with the word ˆmz, zemen, correctly rendered “season” in the authorized version. The leading sense of this word, he states, “is that of a fixed, prescribed, determinate season,” and in this respect it differs from the more general word time, as the Greek kairos, “season,” differs from chronos, time. As to the other word ˆd[ gneden is used for the most part in a wider sense, and answers more accurately to the Hebrew t[ Gneth, “time.” “We find mention made in the last chapter of Daniel of two other periods, one of 1290, the other of 1335 years.” The additional numbers expressing 30 and 45 similar periods, are called supplementary terms. At page 241 there is an able letter to Professor Stuart of Andover, U.S., on prophet, in designations of time. This learned writer is like Calvin, praeterits, and consequently his writings on this subject; are an able elucidation of the principles of these lectures. He approves of Davidsons statement in his “Sacred I-Hermeneutics,” that days are days, and years years. So the writer maintains with no small skill and power of argumentation. Professor Bush, on the other hand, replies, “the grand principle into which the usage of employing a day for , year is to be resolved, is that of miniature symbolization.” The argument between the two American divines is then carried on at some length; it is only necessary here to refer to it, on the general principle which we have adopted in illustrating these lectures, namely, to shew that Calvin’s decision meets with many able supporters and expounders among British, Continental, and American writers, as well as numerous, earnest, and voluminous opponents.


Dissertation 30.

THE PLACE OF THE VISION.

<270802>Daniel 8:2

Differences have arisen as to the reality of Daniel’s transfer to Shushan and the banks of the Ulai or Choaspes. Dr. Blayney thinks Elam was a province of Babylon over which Daniel actually presided; but in its more extended sense it comprised the whole country on either side of the Eulaeus, one side being Elymais, and the other Susiana. See Pliny, Nat. Hist., Book 6. “Susiana,” says Birks, “close to the Tigris, was distinct from Persia Proper, and might still be under the power of Belshazzar.”

In this eighth chapter the Hebrew language is resumed, and used in all the following visions. This has been considered emblematical of the subject-matter which relates mainly to the future state of Israel, and of the kingdoms in political relation to it. The visions of this chapter clearly refer to the Persian and Grecian empires. These are intimately connected with those persecutions under which the Jews groaned so heavily, through the profanation of their Temple, and the removal of their daily sacrifice. These distresses continue for 2300 days till the sanctuary is cleansed. The reader will find these points clearly and historically illustrated in “the two later visions of Daniel” previously referred to, — Daniel 1 and 2. The exposition of the Duke of Manchester is worthy of notice. He compares and connects the visions and prophecies of Daniel 8 and 9, and differs from the usual schemes hitherto submitted to our notice. See pages 392-397. “The vision embraces a period of time commencing from after the conquest of India by Darius, until the last end of the indignation, for the ram was pushing westward, northward, and southward, but not eastward.”


Dissertation 31.

THE RAM AND THE HE-GOAT.

Chapter 8:3

The clearest modern exposition with which the Editor is acquainted is that of Birks, and it will be sufficient for our purpose to make a few extracts from his work. “The ram is expounded by the angel to be the kings of Media and Persia.” It is clear, then, that the word kings is not used in a personal sense. It is plain they are the two ruling dynasties or powers, confederate in conquest, and of which Media was superior at first, and Persia after the sole reign of Cyrus. The ram itself, and not the two horns, denotes the compound Median and Persian power. The ram was seen “pushing westward, and northward, and southward.” These words are a very clear prediction of the conquests of Cyrus, though, perhaps, they may include the later conquests of Egypt by his son Cambyses. “The vision was in the sixth or seventh year of Cyrus, when his career of victory had already begun,” (p. 10.) Two objections to this explanation are then answered; one is, that the chronology seems to require a later commencement, and the other, that the place of the ram before the river, has been thought to imply the previous establishment of the Persian empire. The most natural sense of the words “before the river,” is, “with its face to the river.” The accomplishment of this prophecy is then traced through Herodotus, and Xenophon. The narratives of Herod. Book 1:71-95, respecting the overthrow of Croesus, and 152-216, respecting his victories in Upper Asia, clearly support this view of the fulfillment.

The he-goat is so clearly fulfilled in Alexander, that, no further remark seems required. Birks has translated at length the passages in Diodorus, and given a correct summary of the chronology of this period. See also Alexander in Plutarch, chapter 24, Diod. Sic., lib. 17, section 46, and Quint. Curtius, lib. 4, section. 4, 19.

ALEXANDER AND HIS SUCCESSORS

The classical passages from which correct information is obtained respecting the kingdom of Macedon, Syria, and Egypt, as far as they illustrate Daniel’s prophecies, are as follow: —

Quintus Curtius, fol. Col. Agripp., 1628, page 670 and following. This is the edition of Raderus under the title of Q. Curtii Rufi de Alexandro M. historiam Mathaei Raderi S. J. Commentarii.

Diodori Siculi, lib. 18, page 587. Wesseling, Amst., 1746, volume 2, page 258.

Polybius, 126, cap. 10, volume 4, page 353 and following. Schweigheuser’s edition.

Atheneous, Deipnosophist, lib. 5, cap. 5, and lib. 10, cap. 10.

Photius, cod. 82, and cod. 92 in epit., lib. 9.

Justin, lib. 13.

Crosius, Hist., lib. 3, chapter 23.

Dexippus and Artrian in fragments preserved by Photius.

Biblioth., cod. 82, and cod. 92.

Andrew Schott, in his edition of flee Bibliotheca of Photius, has given a tabular view of the various divisions of Alexander’s kingdom, classifying them according to the authority of each of the above-mentioned authors. See fol. Gen., 1612, page 230.

Venema, in his dissertations on the emblematical prophecies of Daniel, gives a full statement of every event, with a separate classical authority for each. His object was to shew that Alexander’s kingdom was divided into ten after his death, and that the portion of this prophecy interpreted by Calvin of the Roman empire was really fulfilled by the Greeks. Dr. Todd has quoted the original Latin, (p. 504 and following,) from Dissertation. 5, section. 3 to 12, pages 347 to 364. 4to. Leovard, 1745.


Dissertation 32.

THE WONDERFUL NUMBERER — ONE HOLY ONE
SPEAKING TO ANOTHER.

Chapter 8:13

A very peculiar Hebrew word is used to designate the second Holy One. Lowth intimates its connection with the Logos. It may properly be translated, “To the excellent one.” The original word ynwmlp, palmoni, is supposed to be formed of two nouns ynwlp, peloni, and ynwmla, almoni, which are found in <080401>Ruth 4:1, and <120608>2 Kings 6:8. Glass. gram., 4, 3, 864, as quoted in Poole’s Syn., calls them fictitious nouns, being used when the real name is purposely concealed, like the oJ dei~na of the Greeks. Hence it does not signify any angel, but some remarkable one. Calvins opinion that it refers to Messiah is held by many other interpreters, as given by Poole in loc. Wintle adopts another view, — “the numberer of secrets,” or, “the wonderful numberer,” from the two words alp, phla, “wonderful,” used by Isaiah of Messiah in the well-known passage in chapter. 9, and hnm, “to number,” which has already come before us. He refers to Glass. Philippians page 644, 4to, and translates, “And another saint said unto that excellent one that was speaking.” Holy One is preferable to saint in this passage. Gesenius adopts the statement of Glasse; the quadriliteral arising from the combination of two words in common use. See also “The Times of Daniel,” page 399, and “The Morning Watch,” volume 5, page 276, where palmoni is translated “the numberer of secrets.”

<270813>Daniel 8:13. — The Vision of the Daily Sacrifice. The translation of this passage is of great importance, Professor Lee translates as follows: —

11 By him the daily sacrifice was to be taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was to be cast down.

12 And an army was to be given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, (i.e., because the transgressors had now come to the full: see note, page 165,) and it cast the truth to the ground, and it practiced and prospered.

13 How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?

14 The answer is, unto 2300 days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.

The wording of the Hebrew is peculiar here and highly deserving of remark. It stands literally thus, — “Until (the) evening (and) morning, or it may be until the evening of the morning, two thousand and three hundred, and the sanctuary (lit. holiness) shall be sanctified.” Evening and morning, I take here to be a mere periphrasis for a day; and so our translators have taken it, <010105>Genesis 1:5. The day here had in view, continues Professor Lee, “must mark the period of Daniel’s seventieth week — the numbers given above must be understood indefinitely, and as intended to designate a considerable length of time.” Referring again to <270811>Daniel 8:11, he states, this consummation could not be effected by Antiochus Epiphanes: he only suspended the service of the Temple for about three years and a half. By every consideration, therefore, it is evident that the Little Horn of Daniel’s seventh and eighth chapters, is identically the same, and that this symbolized that system of Roman rule which ruined Jerusalem, and then made war upon the sainted servants and followers of the Son of man; and in this he prospered and practiced, until he in his turn fell, as did his predecessors, to rise no more at all. (P. 168.) Wintle, with his usual judgment, translates, “until the evening (and) morning 2300.” “I insert the word and, because the vau is repeated at <270826>Daniel 8:26. I am inclined to think this vesperamane should induce us to understand these days in the first instance literally, rather than of months and years.” The great difficulty, he states, is to reconcile this period with the tyranny of Antiochus; while he does not forget the reference to Antichrist, of whom Antiochus was the type. See, also Sir Isaac Newton, Obs., chapter. 9:Rosenmuller has collected various explanations, especially C. B. Bertram; Kirms, in his historical and critical commentary, page 39; Melancthon, page 131; and Eichhorn in Apoc., t. 2, page 60. “The Times of Daniel” also contains a translation of this passage which is worth notice, page 400, although it is not so scholar-like as that quoted above.

The opinion that this period refers to the rise and duration of the Mohammedan power in the East, is ably advocated by Fry, “Second Advent,” volume 2, page 43 and following; where various explanations of the dates are given at length.


Disseretation 33.

THE SEVENTY WEEKS

<270924>Daniel 9:24

A great variety of opinions have been published upon this interesting period; it would be impossible to enumerate them all, and it will be sufficient to allude to those which illustrate Calvin’s assertions. The titled author of “The Times of Daniel” writes as follows, — “I endeavored to shew in the chronology that there were two periods of seventy years, — one, the service of Babylon, the other the desolation of Jerusalem, and that the desolation’s terminated with the first year of Darius Nothus. I hope to establish presently that the termination of each of these periods is a fresh epoch,” page 400. “The decree dates from the time of Daniel’s prayer. The command came forth, therefore, in the first year of Darius son of Ahasuerus,” page 402. He then strongly approves of the rendering of the passage by Hengstenberg. “Seventy weeks are cut off over thy people and over thy holy city.” Exactly Calvin’s use of the preposition super. And he adds, most Commentators observe that “cut off” is used figuratively for determined. Mede is also quoted to the same effect, works, fol. page 497. I am still able to follow Dr. Hengstenberg in the following clause, “to restrain transgression and to seal sin.” All senses of the verb, says he, unite in that of restraining. To seal sin, holds forth God’s judicial hardening of persons in sin. This passage, the Duke thinks, was fulfilled “before the passover, in the year a.d. 67.” The terminus a quo is said to be the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, whose date is given in Ptolemy’s Canon An. Nabonassar 325, which, according to the method of verifying the date here used, is b.c. 424, “which, added to the year when apostasy was no longer restrained, a.d. 66, makes 70 weeks or 490 years.” Original views of the “sealing” and the sixty-two weeks are also proposed, to which we can only refer: see pages 410-422. The closing calculation, that “we may look for the cleansing of the sanctuary a.d. 1877,” is so adverse to the interpretation of these Lectures, that we must be content with this passing allusion to it.

The opinions of certaii1 celebrated writers upon this point are here collected. Clement of Alexandria, according to the late Bishop of Lincoln, page 383, explains it thus: “The Temple was rebuilt in seven weeks: then, after an interval of sixty-two weeks, the Messiah came. then, after an interval of half a week, Nero placed an abomination in the Temple of Jerusalem: and, after another half-week, the Temple was destroyed by Vespasian.” Theodoret closes the period three years and a half after the suffering of Christ: “and so they begin the last week at the baptism of Christ,” says Willet. He quotes Zonaras, tom. 1, Annal., who commences the period at the 20th year of Artaxerxes Longimanus, and ends the 62 weeks at the death of Hyrcanus. From this point to Christ’s baptism they reckon seven weeks more, and then in the midst of the last week, Messiah was slain; so there remained afterwards three years and a half for the preaching of the Gospel. Eusebius begins the 69 weeks in the sixth year of Darius Itystaspes, and ends them in the first year of Herod, about the death of Hyrcanus. He begins the 70th week at Christ’s baptism, and ends the period three years and a half afterwards. Tertullian, by beginning in the first year of Darius, counts 490 years, to the destruction of Jerusalem.

OEcolampadius confesses this passage to be one of the most difficult in Scripture, and can scarcely satisfy himself with any solution. He rather unwisely introduces chronological tables of the events of Scripture, from Adam to the time of the Herods. “With Christ,” he says, “is the fullness of the times and the completion of the seventy weeks.” He quotes the expressions of Jewish authorities, and refers to the cruelty of Herod, and the anointing of Jesus as Messiah. “They are not weeks of days, or of jubilees, or of ages,” he asserts, but of years. They most probably begin at either the first year of Cyrus, or the second of Darius. He calculates it both ways: the first period closing at the death of Antiochus the brother of Alexander, and the other at the reign of Herod. He afterwards adopts the division of this period into three parts, and explains his method of reckoning the seven weeks. The question is discussed with great judgment, and its perusal will amply repay the attentive student of this remarkable prophecy.

J. D. Michaelis has elucidated this subject, in a letter to Sir John Pringle, which the English reader will find noticed in the Monthly Review, O. S., volume 49, page 263 and following. Dr. Blayney, in a Dissertation, Oxford, 1775, 4to, contradicts the Professor’s opinions: see Monthly Review, O. S., volume 52, page 487 and following. John Uri also published at Oxford, 1788, an “Interpretation, paraphrase, and computation of this passage.” Fabers well-known Dissertation, London, 1811, only needs to be mentioned to be valued; while that of Dr. Stonard, London, 1826, is exceedingly elaborate, being a masterly scholastic work. Dr. Wells has prefixed to his “Help to the Understanding of Daniel,” some observations on the chronology of this prophecy. From him we learn the different methods of Scaliger, Mede, and Bishop Lloyd, while his own paraphrase and his solution of some of the difficulties in the schemes of preceding writers, are worthy of attentive perusal. Willet presents us with “The several interpretations of Daniel’s seventy weeks dispersedly handled before, summed together,” in his 55th question on this chapter, and continues the subject through the ten succeeding questions. From his comments, we ascertain the views of J. .Lucidus, lib. 7, De emendatione teenporis, Osiander, Junius, Montanus in apparat., lib. Dan., and others. His remarks on Calvin are worthy of notice here. “M. Calvin beginneth these years in the first year of Cyrus, and endeth them in the sixth of Darius the son of Hystaspes, the third king of Persia; but this cannot be; for they that give the most years unto Cyrus and Cambyses, allow but the one 30 and the other seven; excepting only Luther, who following Eusebius De Demon. Evan., giveth to each of them 20 years. Then add the six years of Darius, they will make but 43. How, then, can the seven weeks be here fulfilled? Beside, that Darius, in whose sixth (year), the Temple was re-edified, called Darius of Persia, was not Darius Hystaspes the third king of Persia; but before this Darius, three other kings are named Cyrus, Assuerus, Artashasht, <150406>Ezra 4:6, 7.” This reference to Calvin occurs in his 58th question, — “When the term of seven weeks, that is 49 years began and when it ended,” page 323, Edit., 1610. One remark of Wintles is most important, as its correctness vindicates Calvin from every charge of inconsistency in his interpretation of these prophecies. “The original word rendered weeks throughout the prophecy, strictly signifies sevens, which word is adopted in Purver’s translation, and may be referred either to days or years.” Professor Jahn also adopts the same correct and simple translation, and his satisfactory criticism is found in his Appendix to Enchir. Hermen., Fasc. 1, page 124 and following. Vienna, 1813. The subject is also discussed by the present Editor, in his Norristan Prize Essay for 1834, page 81.Dathe also, in his Prophetic Majores, Edit. 3d., Halae, 1831, translates as follows, “The seventy, yea the seventy, are drawing to a close.” The only difference in the original is in the pointing of the Masorets; and thus the chronology which they introduced, requires all the ingenious apparatus of the profound astronomy of Sir Isaac Newton to reconcile it with the historical facts. See his Observations on the Prophecies of Daniel, part 1, chapter. 10. Archbishop Seeker has dwelt much on this point, and every commentator on the Prophet has treated it with more or less wisdom and discretion. Wintle is on the whole very judicious. Professor Lees translation of the passage, and explanation of the Hebrew words, is exceedingly valuable. His exegetical comments admit of some variety of opinion as to their value. The seventy weeks, says he, were not “to be considered chronological in any sense, but only to name an indefinite period, the events of which, as in most similar cases, should make all sufficiently clear,” Bk. 2, chapter 1, page 160. This chronological period, and the dependent minor divisions, are ably treated by Rosenmuller, who has devoted more than usual space to their illustration. He quotes some of the best opinions of the most celebrated German writers, and throws great light upon the historical points connected with the inquiry. See his comments on this chapter. 9, pages 313-324.

Broughton has quoted largely from Jewish Rabbis; he treats Daniel’s prayer as a compendium of theology, and applies Gabriel’s answer to the baptism, miracles, and life of our Lord.

Professor Stuart, whom we have already quoted, has treated this subject with great precision by commenting critically on the Hebrew words. He adopts the rendering seventy sevens, or “seventy heptades are determined upon thy people. Heptades of what? of days or of years? No one can doubt what the answer is. Daniel had been making diligent search respecting the seventy years; and in such a connection, nothing but seventy heptades of years could be reasonably supposed to be meant by the angel.” An argument is also drawn from the double gender of the plural of this word, which is noticed by Ewald, Gram. Heb., section. 373. London, 1836. Many other arguments in favor of its general sense of “sevens” are added, implying that the connection only determines whether years or days be intended. Professor Bush brings forward the opposite views to those of Stuart, and discusses the subject with the utmost exactness of Hebrew criticism. Mede should also be consulted, works, Bk. 3, chapter. 9, page 599. Hengstenberg treats the form of the word as rarticipial and indicating a septenized period, like hebdomas in Greek, septimana in Latin, settimana in Italian, and semaine in French. Views in accordance with these are found in “The Morning Watch,” volume 5, page 327. London, 1832. This article is the more worthy of perusal, as it presents us, in an intelligible English form, the criticism of Professor Jahn, extracted from his Appendix ad Enchiridion Hermeneutica, Fasc. 1, page 124 and following. Edit., Vienna, 1813. The English translation of the passage, in accordance with Jahn’s critical exposition, is worthy of notice, particularly by those readers who wish to keep before their minds the most valuable explanations which have ever been published by British, Continental, and American Divines.


Dissertation 34.

HIPPOLYTUS, NICOLAUS LYRANUS, etc.

<270925>Daniel 9:25

Hippolytus,” says Mosheim, “whose history is much involved in darkness, is also esteemed among the most celebrated authors and martyrs of this age.” (Volume 1, page 270, edit. 1823.) Although the learned Benedictines have assisted in dispelling this darkness in their History of the Literature of France, volume 1, page 361, yet the greatest light has been thrown upon the life and opinions of this writer by the Chevalier Bunsen in his work, “Hippolytus and his Age,” 4 vols., 1852. Dr. Christopher Wordsworth has also discussed the same subject, giving an English version of the newly discovered philosophumena, with an introductory inquiry into the authorship of the treatise, and on the life and works of the writer. It is out of our province to enter on the important questions raised by these well-known writers; we must confine ourselves strictly to whatever illustrates Daniel. He wrote commentaries on various parts of the Old and New Testaments, and among these Bunsen enumerates one “On the Prophets, in particular on Ezekiel and Daniel,” volume 1, page 282. A fragment of his comment on Daniel is preserved in the edition of Fabricius, in which the Greek text is printed from a Vatican MS., tom. 1, page 271, “named by Theodoret and by Photius, c. 203. Jerome says Hippolytus’ historical explanation of the seventy weeks did not tally with history and chronology. Fabricins, 1, page 272. We have a genuine fragment of this explanation in Fabricins, 1, page 278, on Daniel’s life and times.” The Syrian MSS. discovered in the Lybian Desert, and explored by Cureton, contain, says Bunsen, quotations from the Commentary on Daniel by Hippolytus. Calvin, most probably, knew no more of his view of the seventy weeks than he found in Jerome. The existence of his treatise on Antichrist was known to the Reformers chiefly from ancient writers who had given a list of his works, but especially from Jerome. From Fabricius, Appendix ad. I. 1, page 2, we learn that a forgery was published in 1556., and that the genuine work was first edited in 1661 from two French MSS, A Latin translation was added in 1672. “His calculations,” says Bunsen, “based upon Daniel and the Apocalypse, are quite as absurd as those which we have been doomed to see printed, and praised, and believed in our days. He makes out that. Antichrist will come 500 years after Christ, from the tribe of Dan, and rebuild the Jewish temple at Jerusalem.” This remark has caused the censure of a writer in “The Record,” who accuses Bunsen of making’ this bishop and martyr “the mouthpiece of his own unbelief in the prophecies of Daniel.” “Some writers have conceived,” says Bunsen, “that Hippolytus alludes, in his interpretation of the ten horns of the fourth beast in Daniel, to some great convulsions of the empire in his time; but this opinion seems to me entirely unfounded. All I can find in these passages indicative of the time in which they were written, (section. 28, 29,) is the existence of a very strong, iron, military government; and this seen as to point to the time when the power of Septimius Severus was firmly established, after fierce contests and sanguinary battles. The rest relates to things to come, to the last age of the world, which he thought about three centuries distant.” (Volume 1, page 274.) On page 290 we have three lists of the works of this “father,” as noticed by Eusebius, Jerome, and Lycellus. Eusebius does not mention his work on Daniel; both Jerome and Lycellus do; and Nicephorus adds it among others to the Eusebian list; and on page 242 many of his works are recorded as existing among the Escurial manuscripts. See the Catalogue des Manuscrits Grecs de la Bibliothbque de l’Escurial, par E. Miller, 8vo, Paris, 1848. Cardinal Main, in his “Scriptorum Veterum nova Collectio,” volume 1, part 2, gives such figments of Hippolytus’ Daniel as were formerly inedited, (pp. 161-222.) On page 205, ver. 13, he illustrates Daniel’s phrase, “the old of the days,” referring it to God the Father, the Master of all, even of Christ himself.

The interest excited by the recent publications of Bunsen and Wordsworth, makes it desirable to state that fresh light has been thrown upon his life and times. Cave, in his elaborate work, is unsuccessful respecting Hippolytus. He takes up the opinion of Le Moyne, a French ecclesiastical writer of the seventeenth century, who conjectured that he was bishop of Portus Romanus, Aden in Arabia. The additional supposition that he was an Arabian by birth is also a mistake. He was bishop of the “portus,” a harbor of the city of Rome, during the time of the Emperor Alexander Severus, at the beginning of the third century. He suffered martyrdom during the persecution of Maximus the Thracian, about a.d. 236. The Chevalier’s narrative of the manner in which a lost book of his has been recovered is worthy of notice. “A French scholar and statesman of high merit, M. Villemain, sent a Greek to Mount Athos to look out for new treasures in the domain of Greek literature. The fruits of this mission were deposited, in 1842, in the great national library, already possessed of so many treasures. Among them was a MS. of no great antiquity, written in the fourteenth century, not on parchment, but on cotton paper, and it was registered as a book ‘on all heresies,’ without any indication of its author or age ... . It fell to the lot of a distinguished Greek scholar and writer on literature, a functionary of that great institution, M. Emmanuel Miller, to bring forward the hidden treasure. In 1850 he offered it to the University Press at Oxford, as a work of undoubted authenticity, and as a lost treatise of Origen, ‘Against all Heresies.’” It was published in 1851, and Bunsen, on reading it, pronounced it not to be the work of Origen, but of Hippolytus; and in letters to Archdeacon Hare, he has thrown great light upon the subject, and enabled us to per, use some fragments of his comments on Daniel and the Antichrist, which Calvin could only have known through Eusebius and Jerome.

It is worthy of notice that Sir Isaac Newton, in his “Observations on the Prophecies of Daniel,” etc., quotes Hippolytus thus, — “If divers of the ancients, as Irenaeus, Julius Africanus, Hippolytus the martyr, and Apollinaris bishop of Laodicea, applied the half week to the times of Antichrist, why may not we, by the same liberty of interpretation, apply the seven weeks to the time when Antichrist shall be destroyed by the brightness of Christ’s coming.”

Nicolaus de Lyra received his name from the place of his birth, Lire, a small town in Normandy. He flourished at the beginning of the fourteenth century: he was one of the Society of the Friars Minors at Verneuil, although he is supposed to have been born a Jew. his oostills were repeatedly printed at the close of the fifteenth and the early part of the sixteenth centuries, and were familiar to the biblical students of Calvin’s day. He was a good Hebrew scholar, and has enriched his comments with the best specimens of Rabbinical learning. He is a good interpreter of the literal sense; but his views were attacked by Paulus Burgensis, Paul bishop of Burgos, who was a converted Jew, and defended by Mattathias Doring. His works, with those of his opponent and champion, were published at Duaci, a.d. 1617; also at Antwerp, a.d. 1634, in 6 vols. folio. See also Hart. Horne, volume 2, part 2, chapter 5. In the Morning Watch, volume 1, page 147, he is considered as a forerunner of the Reformation. Luther is there said to have written of him thus: “Ego Lyram ideo arno, et inter optimos pono, quod ubique diligenter refiner et persequitur historian.”

Burgensis.” A notice of Paul of Burgos is found in Allports edition of Bishop Davenant on Justification, volume 2, page 86, note.

The Africanus here mentioned was Julius Africanus of Nicopolis, (Emmaus,) a friend of Origen’s, and rather his senior in years. He is a very early writer on chronology, about a.d. 232; and his epistle concerning the history of Susannah, together with Origen’s reply, is in Wetsteins edition, annexed to the dialogue against the Marcionites. Mosheim calls him “a man of the most profound erudition, but the greatest part of whose learned labors are unhappily lost.” Cent. 3, part 2; see also Gieseler’s Eccl. Hist., volume 1, page 145, American translation. The treatise to which Calvin probably refers is the fragment on the genealogy of Christ preserved by Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., lib. 1, chapter. 7, especially as Eusebius himself had just quoted this chapter of Daniel (<270924>Daniel 9:24) at the close of his sixth chapter. Other writings of his are quoted by Eusebius, lib. 6, chapter. 31, entitled “Concerning Africanus.”

Apollinaris, bishop of Hierapolis, flourished in the second century. He is included by Gieseler among the writers against the Montanists, and is united with Melito of Sardis by Eusebius, as writers of great repute. See Euseb. Eccl. Hist., lib. 4, chapter. 26, 27. In the latter chapter he gives a list of his works. See also lib, 5, chapter. 16, 19. Another of the fourth century is mentioned by Mosheim as Bishop of Laodicea. An account of this writer is found in the English edition of Bailey’s Dictionary.


Dissertation 35.

ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION

<270927>Daniel 9:27

Various questions have arisen respecting the correct interpretation of this phrase. The prophecy has been supposed to be accomplished first under Antiochus Epiphanes, and again by the Roman armies under Titus. Hengstenbergs remarks were chiefly in reply to Bertholdt, Com. 2, page 584, and in explanation of our Savior’s comments, as recorded by St. Matthew. He thinks “it was then regarded by the Jews as relating to a still future occurrence — the yet impending conquest and destruction of Jerusalem.”

“A sufficient proof of this is afforded by the passage, Josephus Arch. 10:1 l, 7, ‘Daniel predicted also the Roman supremacy, and that our country should be desolated by them.’” The passage De Bell. Jud. 4:6, 3, is also quoted with this conclusion, “How general the reference of the prophecy then was to a future destruction of the city, appears from the express observation of Josephus, that even the zealots had no doubt of the correctness of this interpretation. The same interpretation is found also in the Babylonian and Jerusalem Gemarah.” (P. 215.) This reference to “thee zealots” is explained in a note to Bishop Kidders Demonstration of the Messias, pt. 2, page 11. They were slain standing on the battlements of the temple, and their carcasses and blood were scattered and sprinkled about the sanctuary before its final destruction. This is supposed to be a fulfillment of the prediction. Professor Lee states, “It is to be understood rather of the Roman armies, with their heathen ensigns, stationed over against the Temple, than of anything else.” (Book 2, chapter. 2, page 202.) He translates thus, “For the overspreading of abominations he shall make it (i.e., Jerusalem) desolate; even until the consummation (i.e., the complete end) and (until) that determined shall be poured upon the desolate, rather desolator;” meaning, “the people of the prince who should come as a desolator and destroy the city and the sanctuary.” (Book 2, chapter. 1, page 142.) “Let it be remembered,” says he, “all is here indefinite. No mathematical measure of time or portion of time is therefore to be thought of. The occurrence of their several events will supply the only measures of time now to be had recourse to.”

The early Reformers, Oecolampadius, Bullinger, and Osiander, treated the word “overspreading” in its literal sense of “wing,” and applied it to the wings or pinnacles of the Temple; the first of these three takes it for “the very altar and holy place where the winged cherubim were.” Augustine in his Epis. 80, ad Hesychium, interprets it of the legions and wings of the Roman armies which compassed and defiled the Temple. Irenoeus, lib. 5, ad. haer., explains it of Antichrist., whom he imagined should sit in the Temple at Jerusalem, and be worshipped as Messiah. Rosenmuller illustrates the use of the word wing from <230808>Isaiah 8:8, and 18:1, and also from Cicero, Offic. lib. 2, chapter 13. C. B. Michaelis objects to the usual sense of the “abomination of desolation’s,” while Gesenius and Winer refer the wing to the pinnacle of the Temple. Rosenmuller prefers the active sense of “the desolater,” according to the marginal reading of our authorized version, and applies the passage to Antiochus Epiphanes, quoting 1 Maccabees 1:11, 63, as fulfilling the prediction. Dr. Wells approves of this translation, but he interprets the desolater to mean “the Gentile people inhabiting the (once) countries of the Roman Empire.” (Paraphrase, page 101.)


Dissertation 36.

THE VISION ON THE BANKS OF THE HIDDEKEL

<271001>Daniel 10:1

This vision is referred to by Bertholdt and Griesinger in an attempt to shew its contradiction to <270121>Daniel 1:21, but their cavils have been ably answered by Hengstenberg, pages 54, 55. The error in the Alexandrine translation of this verse is discussed on page 239. With regard to the fasting of <271002>Daniel 10:2, Staudlin assumes that Daniel abstracted himself as far as possible from sensible objects, in order to obtain very high revelations, and that the reason why only Daniel saw the appearance lies in the fact, that only he had been fasting a long season and doing penance, and had thereby sharpened and sanctified his vision; see N. Beitr., page 279, ap. Heng., page 120. The celestial appearance of <271005>Daniel 10:5 and 6 is said to be “identical with the angel of the Lord, and thus also with Michael. Daniel finds himself on the banks of the Tigris, and sees hovering over its waters a human form clothed in linen, with a golden girdle about his loins.” Hengstenberg objects to the opinion that this is a representation of Gabriel. He is so terrified by the voice of the apparition that he fails into a deep swoon, and for a long time cannot recover, whereas with Gabriel, on his former single appearance, Daniel 11, he converses quite fiercely and without restraint. The angel of the Lord is present in calm silent majesty, and works with an unseen power. The man clothed in linen cannot be, as Staudlin assumes, absolutely identified with the Most High God, but is as distinct from him as the angel of the Lord from the Lord himself. For he swears not; by himself, but, with his right hand lifted up to heaven, by the eternal God. The supposition of a distinction between the man clothed in linen and Gabriel has the analogy of <270816>Daniel 8:16 in its favor. The names Gabriel and Michael are peculiar to Daniel, and occur only in such visions as from their dramatic character demand the most exact description possible of the persons concerned and the bringing of them out into stronger relief. This opinion is discussed more at length on pages 136-188.

Rosenmuller objects to consider this vision as either an ecstasy or dream. He quotes Theodoret and Jerome on the phrase, “desirable food,” and explains the period of the Prophet’s fasting according to the view of C. B. Michaelis. The attire of <271005>Daniel 10:5 is that of the high priest, although it is by no means certain that this representation portrayed “the prince of the army of Jehovah.” The likeness to chrysolite is said to be not with respect to color, but clearness and brilliancy. Bochart and Calmer suppose Uphaz and Ophir to be the same place; see Wintle’s note, which is full of information. In illustration of the “voice,” <271006>Daniel 10:6, Rosenmuller quotes Iliad 11:1. 148 and following, and enters fully into the Jewish theory of various orders of angels, in the first of which were Michael and Raphael. On this very interesting subject he has selected with great judgment. the opinions of various ancient interpreters, especially Theodoret and Jerome, as well as those of Luther, Geier, Gesenius, and Winer. “The hand that touched him,” observes Wintle, “was probably one of the attendant angels. The form of the superior spirit was scarcely visible by Daniel, and therefore it seems likely to have been one of an inferior order, whose hand he could discover as reached out unto him. (<271018>Daniel 10:18.) The Son of God is seldom introduced to human notice without a retinue of angels.”

<271013>Daniel 10:13. The prince of the kingdom of Persia is supposed by some writers to be either Cyrus or Cambyses opposing the building of the Temple; and by others to refer to those guardian angels which the Orientals believed to protect different countries. Wintle adopts Theodotion’s translation of the last clause of this verse, as the sense then becomes very clear; but Rosennmuller prefers the Syriac version, “I was delayed there,” in preference to “I left him there.”


Dissertation 37.

MICHAEL THE PRINCE

<271013>Daniel 10:13

The appearance of angels, as recorded in these prophecies, has always given rise to much inquiry and conjecture. Henstenberg contends for the identity of Michael and the angel of the Lord, as recognized by the elder Jews, perhaps on the testimony of tradition. He contends against the assertion of Bertholdt, that the Jews derived their distinction between superior and inferior angels from the Persians, after the end of the Babylonish captivity, (2, 528.) Gesenius recognizes angel-princes, “as the earthly monarch is surrounded by his nobles, so here is Jehovah by princes of heaven.” Traces of a gradation of rank among the angels are also found in <183323>Job 33:23, according to the explanation suggested by Winer. “We go further,” adds Hengstenberg, “we can shew that those angels of higher rank who play a particular part in our book, are the very same that meet us in just the same character in the oldest books. We have already pointed out in the Christoloqie, that the doctrine of the angel or revealer of God, runs through the whole of the Old Testament, who in a twofold respect, first as the highest of all angels, then as connected with the hidden God by a oneness of essence, appears as his revealer. He then argues for the identity of Michael with the angel of Jehovah, the leader of the Israelites, the prince of the army of Jehovah, according to <023234>Exodus 32:34, and <060513>Joshua 5:13, and <380105>Zechariah 1:5. In some passages in the Talmud, Michael as the angel of Jehovah is associated with the Shekinah. See on this interesting point Baumgarten-Crusius Bibl. Theol., pages 282, 287. Jerome on Zechariah 1; and Danz in Meuschen, Illustrations of the New Testament from the Talmud, pages 718, 733.


Dissertation 38.

HISTORICAL PROOFS. THREE KINGs OF PERSIA.

<271102>Daniel 11:2

The speaker in this last vision is the Son of God himself. There are two things which in my judgment may be clearly proved; that the princes of Persia and Javan, as also Michael and Gabriel, are created angels; and that the speaker in this last vision is the angel of the covenant, the Son of God… The phrase, ‘to strengthen him,’ is also very significant. The word is mahoz, the same which occurs in the plural mahuzzim, at the close of the prophecy. Here it plainly denotes a tutelary or guardian power, exercised on behalf of Darius by the Son of God. At the close of the vision it must bear a similar meaning. The Mahuzzim are those tutelary powers, whether saints, angels, or demons, who are objects of great horror to the willful king.” — Birks, page 33. Herodotus is still a safe guide in the interpretation of this prediction. His narrative of Cambyses and Darius Hystaspes, amply illustrates and confirms it. The canon of Ptolemy agrees in the same account, only Smerdis is omitted, as usual, because his reign was less than a year. In the reign of Darius, the third successor of Cyrus, the rebuilding of the temple was renewed, under the exhortations of Haggai and Zechariah. “The fourth king,” who is far richer than all, and stirs up all against the realm of Greece, plainly answers to Xerxes, the son and successor of Darius. Those three reigns reach forward through fifty years of the world’s history, a.d. 534-485.

<271102>Daniel 11:2. The fourth king was Xerxes. The four last books of Herodotus, and the eleventh of Diodorus, are entirely occupied with his invasion of Greece. The Greek play of AEschylus, called the Persae, written within eight years to celebrate the triumph of the Greeks, is useful in conveying a vivid impression of this predicted invasion. Willet may be consulted, as he enters very fully into all the historical details, and gives his authorities in abundance; but his arrangement is very cumbrous; and his want of critical skill often renders his judgment valueless. He has raw materials in abundance, but seldom produces it “ready made to hand.” See Quest. 6, for various opinions on the identity of this fourth king, page 398, Edit. 1610.

<271103>Daniel 11:3-5. “The mighty king who shall stand up,” clearly refers to Alexander. The exposition of Calvin is substantially correct throughout this chapter; it will be sufficient to add a few dates and references.

Diodorus, lib. 18, chapter. 43, narrates the career of Ptolemy the son of Lagus, who received Egypt as his share, and successfully repelled the attacks of Perdiccas. Lib. 19, chapter. 79, continues the exploits of Ptolemy. Justin, lib. 13, chapter. 6, and 16, chapter. 2, confirms the statement of Diodorus.

<271105>Daniel 11:5. “One of his princes shall be great.” This refers to Seleucus Nicator, the founder of the kingdom of Syria. His strength is related by Appian, de Bel. Syr. sect. 164, who says he could stop a bull in his career by laying hold of him by the horn. The Arabs called the era of the Seleucidae Dilcarnain, two-horned. — See Prideaux, Connex., part 1, b. 8; Justin 19, chapter. 12, and 55, 56, 58, 62, 90, 91, 100; Gibbon’s Decline and Fall, chapter. 8; Grey on Hist. of the Seleucidae, 8:35

<271106>Daniel 11:6-9. We have here the marriage of Berenice, the daughter of Ptolemy Philadelphus, with Antiochus Theus, the grandson of the great Seleucus. Birks has drawn up an elaborate list of each king of Syria and Egypt, from a.d. 323 to 164; and states the following monarchs as referred to in the corresponding verses of this chapter; viz.,

5. Ptolemy Soter, and Seleucus Nicator.

7, 8. Ptolemy Philadelphus, and Antiochus Theus.

9. Ptolemy Euergetes, and Scleucus Callinicus.

10. Seleucus Corarams, and Antiochus Magnus.

11, 12. Ptolemy Philopator.

14, 17. Ptolemy Epiphanes.

20. Seleucus Philopator.

21. Antiochus Epiphanes.

25. Ptolemy Philomotor.

He has also treated the details of the history so plainly, that we may satisfy ourselves by simply referring to chapters 6 to 11, pages 73-171. Wintles notes are also very explanatory; both these authors supply all the Historical Proofs which the reader of Calvin’s Daniel can require.

The annexed authorities will explain some of the historical allusions of the text.

Villius, page 298, was Publius Villius, the Roman ambassador to the court of Antiochus, who there held a conference with Hannibal.

P. Popilius Leanas, page 317. The narrative is founded on Valerius Maximus, 6, chapter. 5; Livy, 45, chapter. 12; Paterculus, 1, chapter. 10. Calvin probably adopted this anecdote from Jerome. See Fry, volume 2, page 55.

Valerius Soranus, page 349 — a Latin poet of the period of Julius Caesar.

Alexander, king of Syria, page 358. The events of his career are detailed by Josephus, Ant., 13, chapter. 9.

Physcon, page 359. See Josephus as before, and Athenaeus, 2, chapter. 23.

Carrae, page 364. For the death of Crassus there, see Lucan 1. verse. 10.5, and Pliny, lib. 5. c. 14.


Dissertation 39.

THE WILFUL KING

<271136>Daniel 11:36

The subject here commenced is of the deepest interest, and needs peculiar caution in its treatment. The words in which it is conveyed are obscure in themselves, and, consequently, all the early translations of them are imperfect. Calvin has thrown great light upon the original phraseology, but still reference may be profitably made to some modern translators. The sixteenth chapter of the “Two Later Visions of Daniel,” is occupied with this discussion; various views are clearly and fairly stated; some conjectures are refuted, and some conclusions enforced which differ very materially from Calvin’s. The translation of obscure passages adopted in this work are excellent, as well as those given by Elliott in his notes to pages 1327 and following, of volume 3 of his Horae Apocalypticae. Professor Lees translations are exceedingly full and explanatory, while his hermeneutical views agree more with Calvin’s than either Elliott’s or Birks’. See his Inquiry into the Nature, Progress, and end of Prophecy, Book. 2, chapter 2, page 189 and following. Wintles notes are much to the point. And Bishop Newton traces the analogy between this king and Antichrist in his Dissertation., volume 3, chapter. 26. The annexed comments from Birks, page 271 and following, will explain some grammatical difficulties.

<271137>Daniel 11:37. — “He shall not regard the elohim of his fathers.” The clause is ambiguous, as the word “elohim” may receive two opposite constructions. Bishop Newton and others think it to mean, the one true God; but Mede, with many able writers, render it correct]y, the gods of his fathers, implying the false deities of the heathens. Arguments are then given in support of this view, and objections forcibly answered. “Neither shall he regard the desire of women.” The meaning of this phrase is shortly discussed. The received view, that it refers to the Messiah, is set aside, and it is taken the enlarged sense of despising and trampling upon these humanizing affections of which women are the object. Elliott, after a good Hebrew criticism, applies it to the Messiah, fortifying his opinion by Faber on the Prophecies, pages 380-385, volume 1, edit. 5; so Lee in his preface, page 126, to Euseb. Theophania — “This occurring as it does in a context speaking of deities, was probably intended to designate the Messiah.”

<271138>Daniel 11:38. — “But in his estate with Eloah he will honor Mahuzzim.” We now enter upon the second part of this description, which exhibits the new worship set up by the Willful King. Here several questions of some difficulty will arise. I will first offer what appears to me the most natural translation, and consider afterwards the chief points in dispute one by one.

“But in his estate with Eloah, he will honor Mahuzzim; even with an eloah whom his fathers knew not, he will honor them with gold, and with silver, and with precious stones, and with pleasant things. And he will offer to the strongholds of Mahuzzim, with a foreign eloah whom he will acknowledge; he will increase their glory, and will cause them to rule over many, and will divide the land for gain.” The meaning of the word Mahuzzim, fortresses or strongholds, is next described, and in conclusion, it is decided, that Mahuzzim “must here denote guardian deities or tutelary persons, who receive worship as protectors and guardians, defenses and fortresses, from their votaries.” Professor Lees translation is as follows,— “But in his estate he shall honor the god of forces; and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honor with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and with pleasant things.” “Nero was the first of this series.” “Domitian was the first emperor who generally persecuted, and who, during his lifetime, assumed the title of the Lord God, and insisted upon being worshipped as a deity.” This is the Professor’s interpretation, page 192. The translations of Mede, Bishop Newton, and Dr. Gill, vary slightly from each other, but none of them are so correct as that given above. The original word, translated “offer,” has very wide and various meanings. In <021025>Exodus 10:25, it is rendered “sacrifice” to the Lord our God, and is very frequently used in this sense. The words, “a foreign god whom he will acknowledge,” are probably an explanation of the previous phrase, “a god whom his fathers knew not;” implying that the worship of this divinity was borrowed by the Willful King from some other nation, and was unknown to his fathers.

“Such, in conclusion,” says Birks, “are the results which flow from a careful inquiry into the natural meaning of this passage. The Willful King here described is one which might be expected to rise after the renewed persecution of the faithful, when imperial help had been given them, and to continue perhaps for ages, until the restoration of Israel. His title as the king, and the time appointed him in the words of the angel, prove him to be the same with the Little Horn, speaking great words against the most High. He will reject every form of heathen worship, commended to him by the long practice of his fathers, utter proud speeches of surprising arrogance, and of real blasphemy against the God of heaven, trample under his feet the strongest instincts of domestic love, and thus magnify himself against God and man. He will, however, adopt a foreign eloah derived from the Jews for his own; but will turn the very worship he pays to the Son of God into the key-stone to a wide and spreading system of idolatry, in which he will pay reverence to a multitude of guardian powers, and cause them to receive homage and worship from his people.” The comments of this able writer on <271136>Daniel 11:36-39 are so contrary to the views of Calvin, that it is only necessary here to state their variance with those of our Reformer. Some explanations are worthy of notice, as, for instance, the following— “These words apply accurately to the local persecutions of believers under the Arian emperors, and the fierce and savage cruelties of the Vandals against the confessors of the faith. When, however, the time of the end, or the predicted three times and a half should begin, these persecutions would gradually become more systematic and severe. So that the prophecy at once proceeds to describe the king, who would prosper in the time of the end, and by whom the fires would be kindled afresh with more than Pagan cruelty, against the followers of God.”

Elliott in his Horae Apocalypticae, volume 3, page 1294, has devoted a section to the elucidation of this chapter. His comments upon the Hebrew words of the original text are valuable, displaying great judgment, and throwing much light upon the Prophet’s meaning. His chronological list of the kings of Syria and Egypt is correct, and very clearly explains the history of this prophetic period. This prophecy, he states, naturally divides itself into two parts: first, that from <271101>Daniel 11:1-31, sketching the times of the Persians and Greeks; secondly, that from <271132>Daniel 11:32 to the end of Daniel 12, sketching the sequel. His comments upon the whole of Daniel 11 to verse 35, are illustrative of Calvin’s views in these Lectures; but this writer interprets verse 36 and following, in accordance with the expositions of Mede and the two Newtons. These are so fundamentally at variance with Calvin’s writings, that it would be out of place to dwell upon them here. Elliotts notes on the Hebrew words throughout the latter portion of this chapter are most excellent, and may be trusted as scholarlike, sound, and judicious.

Chapter 6 of the “First Elements of Sacred Prophecy” is occupied by a refutation of Dr. Todd’s theory. The details of the fulfillment of each verse are plainly and accurately stated, and the objections of the Fourth Donnellan Lecture are shewn to be futile. This work is chiefly devoted to the refutation of the Futurist theories, which are directly opposite to that of Calvin. See particularly pages 135-149.

Fry in his Second Advent, chapter. 5, sect. 21, has collected the views of various English Commentators, but they all vary exceedingly from those of Calvin.


Dissertation 40.

THE POLLUTION OF THE SANCTUARY

<271136>Daniel 11:36, etc.

The various occasions on which the sanctuary was polluted by heathen foes are as follows: —

1. By Antiochus Epiphanes, when he set up the image of Jupiter Olympius on the divine altar. The daily sacrifice was then taken away, and Acra fortified so as to overlook the Temple.

2. The Romans polluted it under Pompey the Great, as recorded by Josephus, Antiq., 14, 4, 2, 6. It was transitory and quickly repaired, although this was the first step towards the complete loss of liberty.

3. The next profanation occurred under Crassus, who carried off the gold and the treasures which Pompey had left. Eleazer the priest, who had the custody of the vail of the Temple, gave him a beam of solid gold as a ransom for the whole, and yet he afterwards carried away all the wealth of the sacred edifice. (Antiq., 14, 7, 1.)

4. When Herod obtained the kingdom, a.c. 38, the Romans under Sosius took the city by storm; the Jews took refuge within the Temple, but were unmercifully massacred by their cruel foes. (Antiq., 14, 16, 3.) So again a slaughter took place in the Temple by Archelaus on the first passover after Herod’s death, while the cruelties of Sabinus form a similar instance. (Wars, 2:3, 2.)

5. When Titus pitched his camp on the Mount of Olives, and the Romans brought their ensigns within the Temple, and offered sacrifices to them. (Wars, 6:6, 1.)

6. During the reign of Hadrian, after the revolt of Barchochebas, a temple was built and consecrated to Jupiter Capitolinus on the very site of the sanctuary.


Dissertation 31.

THE CONQUEST OF THE GLORIOUS LAND

<271141>Daniel 11:41

The sober views of our Reformer form a striking contrast to the speculations of some modern writers. Birks, for instance, considers the spread of the Turkish power as accomplishing this verse. He quotes Rycaults History of the Ottoman Kings, and considers the conquest of Thessalonica and the subjugation of Greece by Amurath II., a.d. 1432, as the intended fulfillment. In 1514, Selim the third Turkish Emperor overthrew the Sultan of Egypt, and obtained possession of Aleppo. After other victories, he turned aside to visit Jerusalem.

The next verse is also supposed to predict his conquests; and the facts detailed by Rycault, volume 1, pages 246-248, respecting the conquest of Judea, Arabia, and Egypt, at the commencement of the sixteenth century of the Christian era., are asserted to fulfill <271141>Daniel 11:41 to 43. The last verse of this chapter is also supposed to be accomplished by the historical events recorded by Rycault, volume 1, pages 249-251. A similar opinion is given by the author of “The Revelation of St. John Considered,” Append. 1, page 467. Elltotts sentiments are similar to these, but less precise, and not very clearly expressed. Mede and Bishop Newton think the closing verses of this chapter remain yet unfulfilled. Professor Lee treats this as accomplished by Constantine and Licinius; see pages 19.5-197, and gives as his authority Hist. Univers., volume 15, pages 582-584.

Before the reader has arrived at this “point of observation,” he will probably have decided whether the Praeterist or the Futurist interpretations of these verses is the more acceptable to his own mind, and will value these references according to the conclusions to which he has already arrived.


Dissertation 42.

THE SEALING OF THE BOOK

<271204>Daniel 12:4

It will not be necessary here to add more than a quotation from Hengstenberg, who answers objections with his usual success, — “The command to the Prophets to shut up and seal the prophecies relates only to a symbolical action, to be understood of something internal; and after the removal of the mere drapery, the imperatives are to be resolved into futures, thus — these prophecies will be closed and sealed till the time of the end, in nearly the same manner as Zechariah (<381115>Zechariah 11:15) is commanded in a vision to take the instruments of a foolish shepherd, to intimate that some day ungodly rulers will ruin the people ... . But the external acceptation of the words is still more strongly opposed by chapter. 12:9. There the angel answers Daniel’s request for more precise disclosures respecting the prophecy, by saying that he cannot furnish him with them because it is closed and sealed up till the last time.” The objections here answered are those of Bertholdt, Comm., page 795; De Wette; Bleek, pages 186, 207; and Sack, Apol., page 285. Alexander, W. L., (Edinburgh,) in his Congregational Lectures, seventh series, 1841, has a short but explanatory criticism on the meaning of “to seal” and “to shut up;” see Lecture 7, page 372.


Dissertation 43.

THE EXPRESSIONS RELATIVE TO TIME

<271211>Daniel 12:11

The variety of opinion as to the expressions of Time in this chapter renders it difficult to illustrate our author with sufficient brevity. The wisdom of the early reformers is conspicuous. OEcolampadius agrees with Calvin in treating these periods of days, as implying long and indefinite times — “multiplicatione dierum longum tempus antichristianae impietatis agnoseas” — by the multiplication of the days you will perceive the lengthened period of the anti-christian impiety. Junius and Polanus, as quoted by Willet, consider the days to be literal ones, and the accomplishment to have taken place during Maccabean times. He also gives the views of Hippolytus and Nicolaus de Lyra, to whom Calvin has previously referred. Melancthon adds together the 1290 and the 1335 days, making seven years and three months, beginning b.c. 145, and ending b.c. 151, when Nicanor was overcome. Bullinger understands them of the times of Antiochus, and Osiander of the duration of Antichrist, but thinks this prophecy does not properly, “but by way of analogue, concern the latter times.” The opinions of those modern interpreters who adopt the principles of Mede will be found in the works already quoted. He reckons the years from the time of Antiochus, b.c. 167, which brings us down to the 12th century, when the Waldenses and Albigenses protested against the tyranny of the Papacy; and between the forty-five years, 1123 and 1168 a.d. a great secession occurred from the dominion of the Pope, by which he thinks the prophecy to have been fulfilled. Bishop Newton, Dissertation. 26, page 387, writes as follows, — “It is, I conceive, to these great events, the fall of Antichrist, the re-establishment of the Jews, and the beginning of the glorious millennium, that the three different dates in Daniel of the 1260 years, 1290 years, and 1335 years, are to be referred.” Here the word “years” is used as if it occurred in the scriptural text.

Professor Lee considers that the events which occurred at the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus fulfilled the prediction of verse. 1. “The children of thy people,” found written in the book, are said not to be the Jews at large, but the holy remnant who embraced Jesus as Messiah, and escaped to carry the tidings of salvation to the ends of the earth. The many who slept in the dust of the earth were to awake “in a first resurrection with Christ,” <450603>Romans 6:3-6, and “some to shame and everlasting contempt, i.e., awakened to hear through the preaching of the gospel, the judgments denounced against unbelief, and to feel this in a general overthrow.” The resurrection is here interpreted of our regeneration and union with the Savior through the Spirit, and the precise period of its accomplishment is confined to the early spread of the gospel among mankind.

The “time, times, and a half” of <271207>Daniel 12:7, “must, of necessity, signify the time that should elapse from the fall of Jerusalem, to the end of Daniel’s seventieth week; for, according to the prediction enouncing this, the Temple and the City were to fall in the midst of this week,” page 199. In direct contrast to this extract, Elliotts reference of this chapter to times yet future occurs in volume 2, page 1343. Assuming the 1260, 1290, and 1335 days to be years, the former period is said to close at the French Revolution in 1790 a.d., the second at the Greek Revolution in 1820 a.d.; and as they are “unhesitatingly” pronounced to be all three “measured from one and the same commencing epoch,” the last date must terminate a.d. 1865. Frere terminates the 1290 days in a.d. 1822, and the 1335 in a.d. 1847. See his Letter dated September 9, 1848, to the Editor of the Quarterly Journal of Prophecy, October 1848. Wintle refers this verse to the struggle with anti-christian powers, when Michael should stand up “to defend the cause of the Jews, and to destroy the enemies of true religion.” Note in loc.

The Duke of Manchester has devoted an Appendix to the discussion of these expressions. He justly observes; if they “are to be taken literally, then the important events of the latter part of this prophecy will be within the compass of a man’s life, and will relate to the actions of an individual. If, on the other hand, the 1290 and 1335 are years, they will extend far beyond the life of any individual, and must therefore be applied, not to a person, but to a system. Thus the whole character of the prophecy will be different.” “The prophecy of Daniel 10-12 is not symbolical, nor even figurative, but is literal. The expression translated days in Daniel 8 is different from the term rendered days in Daniel 12. The character of the prophecy, Daniel 10-12, is rather what we may call biographical, for it details the actions of individuals. I see no more warrant for saying the willful king denotes a system, than for saying the vile person, or , the raiser of taxes, or a dozen other kings, mentioned in the prophecy, denote systems. The genius of the prophecy, therefore, seems to require that the measure of time connected with the actions of the willful king, should be suitable to the reign of an individual king, and not elongated into times suitable to the continuance of a system from generation to generation. ‘Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the 1335 days,’ seems to imply that some individuals would endure for the whole 1335 days.” Thus far the noble author’s remarks are completely in the spirit of Calvin, but a few sentences afterwards, he supposes the “abomination of desolation” to belong to the last days of the world, thus giving countenance to the Futurist expositions. The curious reader may consult a Review in “The Morning Watch,” volume 5, page 161, of Fabers Second Calendar of Prophecy, in which many ingenious speculations are brought forward illustrative of Daniel’s expressions relative to Time. The various numbers of this work contain a multiplicity of laborious investigations of this subject, chiefly based upon the year-day theory.


Dissertation 44.

MODERN DISCOVERY THROWING ITS LIGHT
ON DANIEL’S PROPHECIES.

<271213>Daniel 12:13

We now conclude these our Dissertations by a further allusion to the subject which occupied our attention in the Preface. — the marble commentary on the inspired text presented by the Nineveh monuments. Three thousand years have passed over the Assyrian mounds, and at length, while we are closing our volume, the grave is giving up its dead at the call of the intellect of modern Europe. The crusted earth, beneath which Nineveh has been so long inhumed, has now revealed the monumental history of its grandeur, the imperishable witness of its incomparable renown. We must leave the interesting narrative of the discovery of these unrivaled treasures, and the description of these singular sculptures; our attention must be directed solely to the inscriptions, by the reading of which alone these monuments become available for our purpose. Had we been unable to read them, “all the excavations must have been to no purpose, and the sculptured monuments would have been worthless as the dust from which they have been torn.” Well may we ask, in the language of an able review of Layard’s second series of monuments of Nineveh, May 16, 1853, “By what splendid accidents, then, has it happened that illumination has been thrown into the heaps, and that art, inferred for 3000 years, becomes, when brought to light, in an instant as familiar to us all as though it were but the dainty work of yesterday? How comes it that these arrow-headed, or, as they are, more generally styled, cuneiform characters, which bear no analogy whatever to modern writing of any kind, and which have been lost to the world since the Macedonian conquest, are read by our countrymen with a facility that commands astonishment, and a correctness that admits of no dispute? The history is very plain, but certainly as remarkable as it is simple. Fifty years ago the key that has finally opened the treasure-house was picked up, unawares, by Professor Grotefend of Gottingen. In the year 1802 this scholar took it into his head to decipher some inscriptions which were, and still are to be found on the walls of Persepolis, in Persia. These inscriptions, written in three different languages, are all in the cuneiform (or wedge-like) character, and were addressed, as it now appears, to the three distinct races acknowledging, in the time of Darius, the Persian sway — viz., to the Persians proper, to the Scythians, and to the Assyrians. It is worthy of remark that although the cuneiform character is extinct, the practice of addressing these races in the language peculiar to each still prevails on the spot. The modern governor of Bagdad, when he issues his edicts, must, like the great Persian king, note down his behest’s in three distinct forms of language, or the Persian, the Turk, and the Arab who submit to his rule will find it difficult to possess themselves of his wishes. When Grotefend first saw the three kinds of inscription, he concluded the first to be Persian, and proceeded to his task with this conviction. He had not studied the writing long before he discerned that all the words of all the inscriptions were separated from each other by a wedge, placed diagonally at the beginning or end of each word. With this slight knowledge for his guide, he went on a little further. He next observed that in the Persian inscription one word occurred three or four times over, with a slight terminal difference. This word he concluded to be a title. Further investigation and comparison of words induced him to guess that the inscription recorded a genealogy. The assumption was a happy one. But to whom did the titles belong? With no clue whatever to help him, how should he decide? By an examination of all the authorities, ancient and modern, he satisfied himself at least of the dynasty that had founded Persepolis, and then he tried all the names of the dynasty in succession, in the hope that some would fit. He was not disappointed. The names were Hystaspes, Darius, and Xerxes. Although the actual pronunciation of these names had to be discovered, yet by the aid of the Zend (the language of the ancient Persians) and of the Greek, the true method of spelling was so nearly arrived at that no doubt of the accuracy of the guess could reasonably be entertained. The achievement had been worth the pains, for twelve characters of the Persian cuneiform inscription were now well secured. Twenty-eight characters remained to be deciphered before the inscriptions could be mastered. Grotefend here rested.

“The next step was taken by M. Bournouf, a scholar intimately acquainted with the Zend language. In 1836 he added considerably to the Persian cuneiform alphabet by reading twenty-four names on one of the inscriptions at Persepolis; but a more rapid stride was made subsequently by Professor Lassen of Bonn, who, between the years 1836 and 1844, to use the words of Mr. Fergusson, the learned and ingenious restorer of the palaces of Nineveh and Persepolis, ‘all but completed the task of alphabetical discovery.’

“While progress was thus making in Europe, Colonel Rawlinson, stationed at Kermanshah, in Persia, and ignorant of what had already been done in the west, was arriving at similar results by a process of his own. He, too, had begun to read the Persian cuneiform character on two inscriptions at Hamarian, the ancient Ecbatana. This was in 1835. In 1837 he had been able to decipher the most extensive Persian cuneiform inscription in the world. On the high road from Babylonia to the east stands the celebrated rock of Behistun. It is almost perpendicular, and rises abruptly to the height of 1700 feet. A portion of the rock, about 300 feet from the plain, and still very perfect, is sculptured, and contains inscriptions in the three languages already spoken of. The sculpture represents King Darius and the vanquished chiefs before him — the inscriptions detail the victories obtained over the latter by the Persian monarch. This monument, at least 2350 years old, deciphered for the first time by Colonel Rawlinson, gave to that distinguished Orientalist more than eighty proper names to deal with. It enabled him to form an alphabet. Between the Colonel and Professor Lassen no communication whatever had taken place, yet when their alphabets were compared they were found to differ only in one single character. The proof of the value of their discoveries was perfect.

“Thus far the Persian cuneiform character! To decipher it was to take the first essential step towards reading the cuneiform inscriptions on the walls at Nineveh. But for the Persepolis walls, the Behistun rock, and Colonel Rawlinson, it would have been a physical impossibility to decipher one line of the AssyriaI1 remains. In the Persian text only forty distinct characters had to be arrived at; and when once they were ascertained, the light afforded by the Zend, the Greek, and other aids, rendered translation not only possible, but certain to the patient and laborious student. The Assyrian alphabet, on the other hand, has no fewer than 150 letters; many of the characters are ideographs or hieroglyphics, representing a thing by a non-phonetic sign, and no collateral aids whatever exist to help the student to their interpretation. The reader will at once apprehend, however, that the moment the Persian cuneiform character on the Behistun rock was overcome, it must have been a comparatively easy task for the conqueror to break the mystery of the Assyrian cuneiform inscription, which, following the Persian writing on the rock, only repeated the same short history. Darius, who carved the monument in order to impress his victories upon his Assyrian subjects, was compelled to place before their eye the cuneiform character which they alone could comprehend. The Assyrian characters on the rock are the same as those on the bas-reliefs in the Assyrian palaces. Rawlinson, who first read the Persian inscriptions at Behistun, and then by their aid made out the adjacent Assyrian inscriptions, has handed over to Layard the first-fruits of his fortunate and splendid discovery, and enabled him for himself to ascertain and fix the value of the treasures he has so unexpectedly rescued from annihilation. As yet, as may readily be imagined, the knowledge of the Assyrian writing is not perfect; but the discovery has already survived its infancy. All other year or two of scholastic investigation, another practical visit to the ancient mounds, and the decipherment will be complete! Fortunate Englishmen! Enviable day-laborers in the noblest vocation that can engage the immortal faculties of man! What glory shall surpass that of the enterprising, painstaking, and heroic men who shall have restored to us, after the lapse of thousands of years, the history and actual stony presence of the world-renowned Nineveh, and enabled us to read with our own eyes, as if it were our mother tongue, the language suspended on the lips of men for ages, though written to record events in which the prophets of Almighty God took a living interest!”

The following narrative of discoveries which have been made since our Preface was written, will most appropriately close our attempt to illustrate in every possible way these valuable Lectures: — “When Mr. Layard returned to the scene of operations in 1848, he lost no time in proceeding with his excavations. During his absence a small number of men had been employed at Kouyunjik by Mr. Rassam, the English vice-consul, who, as the agent of the British Museum, had carried on the works suspended by Mr. Layard, though rather with the view of preventing interference on the part of others than of prosecuting excavations to any great extent. Mr. Rassam’s labors, limited as they were, had not been fruitless. He had dug his way to new chambers, and had exposed additional sculptures. The latter were of great interest, and portrayed more completely than any yet discovered the history of an Assyrian conquest, from the going out of the monarch to battle to his triumphal return after a complete victory. The opinion formerly entertained by Mr. Layard with respect to this palace was now confirmed. He was convinced that the ruins at Kouyunjik constituted one great building, built by one and the same king. He was still further satisfied that Kouyunjik and Khorsabad were contemporary structures, and that the north-west palace at Nimroud had a much higher antiquity than either.”

That portion of the subject which applies most to our purpose is the result obtained from the inscriptions with which the sculptures are accompanied. In the language of the review already quoted — “The king of Assyria himself is represented superintending the building of the mounds upon which the palace with its bulls is to be built. This king, as the cuneiform inscription shews, is Sennacherib; and the sculptures, as Rawlinson and the initiated are permitted to read, celebrate the building at Nineveh of the great palace and its adjacent temples — the work of this great king. The inscriptions on the bulls at Kouyunjik record most minutely the manner in which the edifice was built, its general plan, and the various materials employed in decorating the halls, chambers, and roofs. Some of the inscriptions have a thrilling interest. They indicate that the Jews, taken in captivity by the Assyrian king, were compelled to assist in the erection of the palaces of their conquerors, and that wood for the building was brought from Mount Lebanon, precisely as Solomon had conveyed its cedars for the choice woodwork of the temple of the Lord. There is an awful strangeness in thus being brought face to face, as it were, with the solemn mysteries of the Bible and with our own earliest sacred recollections.

“During the month of December (1848) the treasure-seekers were rewarded with a rare harvest. A facade of the south-east side of the palace at Kouyunjik, forming apparently the chief entrance to the building, was discovered. It was 180 feet long, and presented no fewer than ten colossal bulls, with six human figures of gigantic proportions. The bulls were more or less injured; some of them were even shattered to pieces, but fortunately the lower parts of all remained untouched, and consequently the inscriptions were preserved. Two of these inscriptions contained the annals of six years of the reign of Sennacherib, ‘besides numerous particulars connected with the religion of the Assyrians, their gods, their temples, and the erection of their palaces.’ There can be no reasonable doubt of the accuracy of the translation made of these writings, and now given in Mr. Layard’s volume. f589 The very differences and variations that occur when the cuneiform character is submitted to more than one translator attest to the correctness of the general interpretation. Colonel Rawlinson has translated into English the particular inscriptions of which we speak; and Dr. Hincks, an equally competent scholar, has done the same — both independently of each other; and there is no material discrepancy in their views. The inscription informs us that in the first year of his reign Sennacherib defeated Berodach-Baladan, king of Car-Duniyas, a city and country frequently mentioned in the Assyrian inscriptions. It is not for the first time that the reader hears of this king, for he will remember how, When Hezekiah was sick, ‘at that time Berodach-Baladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present unto Hezekiah,’ who boastfully shewed to the messengers all the treasures of his house. The Assyrian monument and holy writ thus begin to reflect light upon each other. But this is only a gleam of the illumination that follows. In the third year of his reign, according to the inscriptions, Sennacherib overran with his armies the whole of Syria. ‘Hezekiah,’ so runs the cuneiform writing, ‘king of Judah, who had not submitted to my authority, forty-six of his principal cities, and fortresses and villages depending upon them of which I took no account, I captured, and carried away their spoil. I shut up himself within Jerusalem, his capital city.’ The next passage, says Mr. Layard, is somewhat defaced, but enough remains to shew that he took from Hezekiah the treasure he had collected in Jerusalem — thirty talents of gold and eight hundred talents of silver, besides his sons, his daughters, and his slaves. The reader has not waited for us to remind him that in the 2nd Book of Kings it is written how ‘in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah did Sennacherib, king of Assyria, come up against all the fenced cities of Judah and took them ... And the king of Assyria appointed unto Hezekiah, king of Judah, three hundred talents of silver and Thirty Talents of Gold. And Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasures of the kings house.’ It is something to have won from the earth such testimony on behalf of inspired Scripture. It is also something to have obtained from holy writ such evidence in favor of the monumental records of long-buried Nineveh.

1Discoveries in the Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon. Being the result of a Second Expedition, undertaken for the Trustees of the British Museum. By Austin H. Layard, M.P. London: Murray, 1853.Layards Monuments of, Nineveh. Second Series. London: Murray, 1853.

“At a later period a chamber was discovered in which the sculptures were in better preservation than any before found at Kouyunjik. The slabs were almost entire, and the inscription was complete. The bas-reliefs represented the siege and capture, by the Assyrians, of a city of great extent and importance. ‘In no other sculptures were so many armed warriors seen drawn up in array before a besieged city.’ The sculptures occupied thirteen slabs, and told the whole narrative of the attack, the conquest, and the destruction of the enemy. The captives, as they appear in the bas-reliefs, have been stripped of their ornaments and fine raiment, are barefooted and half-clothed. But it is impossible to mistake the race to which they belong. They are Jews; for the stamp is on the countenance as it is impressed upon the features of their descendants at this very hour. The Assyrian sculptor has noted the characteristic lines and drawn them with surprising truth. To what city they belong we likewise know, for, above the figure of the king, who commands in person, it is declared, that ‘Sennacherib, the mighty king, king of the country of Assyria, sitting on the throne of judgment before the city of Lachish, gives permission for its slaughter.’ That it was slaughtered we have good reason to believe, for is it not written in the Bible that Sennacherib had quitted Lachish, having vanquished it, before his generals returned with the tribute extorted from Hezekiah?

“If evidence were still wanting to prove the identity of the king who built Kouyunjik with the Sennacherib of the Old Testament, it would be sufficient to call attention to one other most remarkable discovery that has been made in these mysterious mounds. In a passage in the south-west corner of the Kouyunjik palace, Mr. Layard stumbled upon a large number of pieces of fine clay, bearing the impressions of seals, which there can be no doubt had been affixed, like modern official seals of wax, to documents written on leather or parchment. The writings themselves have, of course, decayed, but, curiously enough, the holes for the string by which the seal was fastened are still visible; and in some instances the ashes of the string itself may be seen, together with the unmistakable marks of the finger and thumb. Four of these seals are purely Egyptian. Two of them are impressions of a royal signet. ‘It is,’ says Mr. Layard, ‘one well known to Egyptian scholars, as that of the second Sabaco, the AEthiopian of the twenty-fifth dynasty. On the same piece of clay is impressed an Assyrian seal, with a, device representing a priest ministering before the king, probably a royal signet.’ We entreat the reader’s attention to what follows. Sabaco reigned in Egypt at the end of the seventh century before Christ, the very time at which Sennacherib ascended the throne. ‘He is probably the So mentioned in the <121704>2 Kings 17:4 as having received ambassadors from Hoshea, king of Israel, who, by entering into a league with the Egyptians, called down the vengeance of Shalmaneser, whose tributary he was, which led to the first great captivity of the people of Samaria. Shalmaneser we know to have been an immediate predecessor of Sennacherib, and Tirhakah, the Egyptian king, who was defeated by the Assyrians near Lachish, was the immediate successor of Sabaco II. It would seem, that a peace having been concluded between the Egyptians and one of the Assyrian monarchs, probably Sennacherib, the royal signets of the two kings, thus found together, were attached to the treaty, which was deposited among the archives of the kingdom.’ The document itself has perished, but the proof of the alliance between the two kings remains, and is actually reproduced from the archive-chamber of the old Assyrian king. The illustration of Scripture-history is complete, and the testimony in favor of the correct interpretation of the cuneiform character perfect.”

Long as this extract is, it gives but a slight specimen of the surprising amount of scriptural illustration derived from this new and unexpected source. We add a last and final one: — “Ten years have scarcely elapsed since the first discovery of ruins on the site of Nineveh was made, and already there lies before us an amount of information, having regard to the history of the old Assyrian people, of which we had previously not the most distant conception. When Mr. Layard published, in 1849, the account of his first Assyrian researches, the monuments recovered were comparatively scanty, and the inscriptions impressed upon them could not be deciphered. Now, a completed history can be traced in the sculptured remains, and the inscriptions may be followed with the same facility as the Greek or any other character. That they may be read with immense profit and instruction is evident from the startling facts which they have hitherto revealed. Some of these facts we venture briefly to place before the reader. We have previously hinted that the earliest king of whose reign we have any detailed account is the builder of the north-west palace at Nimrod, the most ancient edifice yet beheld in Assyria. His records, however, furnish the names of five, if not seven, of his predecessors, some of whom it is believed founded palaces, afterwards erected by their successors. The son of this king, it is certain, built the center palace of Nimroud, and raised the obelisk, now in the British Museum, upon which the principal events of his reign are inscribed. Upon that obelisk are names corresponding to names that are found in the Old Testament. The fortunate coincidence furnishes at once the means of fixing specific dates, and enables Mr. Layard to place the accession of the Assyrian monarch who built the oldest Nimroud palace at the latter part of the tenth century before Christ. The builder of the palace of Khorsabad is proved to have been the Sargon mentioned by Isaiah. The ruins of his palace supply the most complete details of his reign; and from the reign of Sargon a complete list has been obtained of all the kings down to the fall of the empire. The son of Sargon was Sennacherib, who ascended the throne in the year 703 b.c. We know from the Bible that Sennacherib was succeeded by his son Esarhaddon, and we now ascertain from the monuments that one of the palaces at Nimroud was the work of his reign. The son of Esarhaddon built; the south-east palace on the mound of Nimroud; and, although no part of his history has been as yet recovered, there is good reason for concluding him to have been the Sardanapalus who, conquered (b.c. 606) by the Medes and Babylonians under Cyaxares, made one funeral pile of his palace, his wealth, and his wives.

“While it is certain that there is no mention of Nineveh before the 12th century b.c. Mr. Layard is still of opinion that the city and empire existed long before that period. Egyptian remains found at Karnak refer to a country called Assyria, and the enterprising explorer is not without hope that further investigation will supply him with still more ancient records than any he now possesses. The monuments of Nineveh, as far as they go, corroborate all extant history in describing the monarch as a thorough Eastern despot, ‘unchecked by popular opinion, and having complete power over the lives and property of his subjects; rather adored as a god than feared as a man, and yet himself claiming that authority and general obedience in virtue of his reverence for the national deities and the national religion.’ The dominion of the king, according to the inscriptions, extended to the central provinces of Asia Minor and Armenia northward; to the western provinces of Persia eastward; to the west as far as Lydia and Syria; and to the south to Babylonia and the northern part of Arabia. ‘The empire appears to have been at all times a kind of confederation formed by many tributary States, whose kings were so far independent that they were only bound to furnish troops to the supreme lord in time of war, and to pay them yearly a certain tribute.’ The Jewish tribes, it is now proved, held their dependent position upon the Assyrian king from a very early period; and it is curious to observe that, wherever an expedition against the kings of Israel is mentioned in the Assyrian inscriptions, it is invariably stated to have been undertaken on the ground that they had not paid their customary tribute.

“At every step sacred history is illustrated, illuminated, and explained by the speaking stones of Nineveh; and in this regard alone the Assyrian discoveries have a significance beyond any revelation that has been made in modern times. Even the architecture of the sacred people may be rendered visible to the eye by comparing it with that of the Assyrian structures; and certainly not the least instructive result of all Mr. Layard’s labors is the ingenious analogy drawn by Mr. Fergusson in his ‘Palaces of Nineveh and Persepolis Restored,’ between the temple of Solomon and the palace of the Assyrian king.”


Concluding Remarks.

Having brought our Dissertations on the Historical portion of this sacred book to a close, we have still another duty to discharge in editing these Commentaries. We have already defended our Reformer from the charges of the German Neologist, and from the censures of the fanciful expounders of prophecy; We have now merely to offer a few comments on the Practical Inferences which Calvin so ably draws from the inspired narrative. While perusing this volume, the reader must often have felt the difference between the state of the world in the days of Nebuchadnezzar and his own. Those were emphatically days of visions, and marvels, and visibly divine interpositions. We, on the contrary, pass on along the even tenor of the walk of life, without expecting to behold a hand-writing on the wall, or to experience the all-devouring heat of a “burning fiery furnace.” We see no vision in the night season foretelling the wonders of an unknown future, and expect neither magician nor prophet to expound with the authority of heaven the images of our sleeping hours. Yet, with our Reformer, we see the world agitated in all quarters with unexpected revolutions. Oppression, and intrigue, and tyranny, prevail among the rulers of Europe and of Christendom, and there seems no human means adequate to the task of stemming the tide of recklessness and infidelity as it overflows the nations. If these comments on scriptural prophecy are to be useful in our day and generation, they need some connecting links of interpretation which may apply the general principles enunciated to the practical problem to be worked out. Otherwise, we either make no intelligent use of such a history as this volume contains, or else we apply it wrong. The latter error is a very common one; and as many are liable to its commission, we trust these Concluding Remarks will be found suitable and instructive. It may appear to many readers that Calvin in his Practical Exhortations overlooks this difference between a miraculous dispensation and the ordinary condition of God’s people under the New Covenant. If he be somewhat open to this charge, itis readily accounted for by the times in which he lived. Calvin, like Daniel, was an exile from his fatherland. The house of Valois and their tyrant kings were to him the exact counterparts of the Babylonian monarchs. They were absolute sovereigns, and most ferocious persecutors of the people of the Lord. The Medici, the Guises, and the Lorraines of his day were to him the very antitypes of the nobles who fawned upon Nebuchadnezzar, and of the presidents who inveigled Darius. In his Dedicatory Epistle prefixed to this volume, the pious in France are represented as in a position exactly similar to that of the Jews during their captivity. The parallel being in each case so striking and so different to what we see and experience in these days, we need not be surprised at Calvin’s expectation of special interpositions, and at our own backwardness to appreciate the full suitability of his comments. Now there is clearly a sense in which such “special deliverance’s” are real, and a sense in which they are not. And as this is a point of some importance involving the idea of the Almighty which our Reformer has presented to us in the preceding pages, we shall comment at some length on a few passages of importance.

For instance, on <270221>Daniel 2:21, and following, we have a full reply to unbelieving objections to God’s providential government of the world. The profane are said to consider all things acted upon by a “blind impulse,” and “others affirm the human race to be a kind of sport to God, since men are tossed about like balls.” The chief cavils of the Reformation Period were those which proceeded from complete skepticism. Philosophers having thrown off the superstitions of Popery naturally doubted and disputed all things. The reasoners of Calvin’s days were something like those intelligent Hindoos who are now worshippers of neither Brahma nor Christ. They are in a transition state, and having unlearned so much, they scarcely know where to lay the foundation-stone of trustworthy belief. Throughout these Lectures, our author is constantly answering the arguments of those contemporaries who felt the hollowness of Rome, and had not yet tried the firmness of Geneva. Still to us his replies may not be convincing. This remark applies to the following passage. “If the sun always rose and set at the same period, or at least certain symmetrical changes took place yearly, without any casual change; if the days of winter were not short, and those of summer not long, we might then discover the same order of nature, and in this way God would be rejected from his dominion.” Here we must remember that in Calvin’s days most men were ignorant of those general laws and all-pervading principles by which the Author of nature governs and sustains the universe. In his day, there was scarcely any choice between the system which represented the Almighty removed in a kind of Epicurean repose far away from the works of his hand, and a system which supposed him to interfere arbitrarily and suddenly in favor of one party, and to rim discomfiture of another. Since this period, the researches of modern science have discovered for us the numerous, the simple, and seemingly self-acting principles, according to which the days of winter are short, and those of summer long. We can contemplate humbly “the same order of nature” from year to year with undeviating regularity, and yet never be tempted “to reject God from his dominion.” Yea, the marvel is this, the more we are trained to view the comprehensive theories of physical astronomy, and chemistry, and magnetism, the more are we led to adore and to magnify the Great and the All-powerful Original. Such studies do not lead us to “erect nature into a deity,” and to reject the Creator from his own dominion. They rather lead us to detect the fallacy in the expression “nature does this or that;” they prove to us that there is no such existence as “nature,” but that the word is but an expression for a complex and comprehensive idea of external objects, in the minds of men. The Almighty is