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CRITICAL REMARKS ON THE SEVERAL APPLICATIONS OF
THE PROPHECY, DAN. VIII. 9–25.
The prediction in the book of Daniel, concerning the little horn of the he-goat, or Macedonian empire, has been successively applied to Antiochus Epiphanes, to the Romans, and to Mahomet or Mahometanism.* Theancients generally, and some eminent names among modern commentators, have understood this prophecy of Antiochus. His individual claims, however, to be the power here symbolized, seem satisfactorily disproved by those interpreters, who contend, with far stronger grounds of reason, for its application to the Romans. More recent writers on Prophecy conceive the little horn to be properly applicable to Mahometanism, and to Mahometanism alone.
In the second section of the present work, the author submitted his reasons for concurring in the last of these opinions. But, to avoid breaking the thread of the general argument, he there confined himself to an examination of the proofs, which seem to identify the Mahometan apostasy with the Macedonian, or Eastern, little-horn.
In adopting the interpretation first advanced by Mr. Whitaker, it is due, however, to the high authorities from which he is obliged to dissent, and it may, perhaps, contribute further confirmation to his own side of the question, briefly to discuss the relative merits of the views taken of this prophecy: an inquiry which shall form the subject of the following remarks.
* The patriarch Sophronius saw, in the capture of Jerusalem by the Saracens, the fulfilment of the prediction of Daniel, referred to by our Lord, St. Matt. xxiv. 15. See Ockley, v. i. p. 216. with his confirmative remarks, p. 225.
Of the three hypotheses above mentioned, each is attended by its difficulties. But the objections to the first, which makes Antiochus Epiphanes the little horn of the he-goat, appear to be insurmountable. And the arguments brought against this theory by Sir Isaac, and by Bishop, Newton, may be fairly pronounced conclusive; for the pretensions of Antiochus seem now generally given up.
By these eminent expositors, this part of Daniel's vision is transferred, from the Syrian tyrant, to his conquerors, the Romans. And, understood in its literal sense, it certainly presents a large and close affinity of character to pagan Rome. At the same time, this interpretation has difficulties on the face of it not to be concealed; and these
serious ones. 1. Bishop Newton and Sir Isaac agree in recognizing the little horn as the symbol of an anti-christian power.* But neither Antiochus, nor the Romans, were, properly, anti-christian
powers; nor can they be termed types of Antichrist, in any other than a loose and figurative sense. However, therefore, they may have shadowed forth that power, they could not, either of them, be the power symbolized by the little horn. 2. Pagan Rome was not a portion of the Macedonian empire; and cannot be directly identified with a power, which the prophecy describes as coming forth out of that empire.t 3. Neither does it, in any just sense, answer the type of a little horn. On the contrary, at the period
* Saint Jerome has recorded this, as the judgment also of the ancients : “ Hunc locum plerique nostrorum ad Antichristum referunt: et quod sub Antiocho in typo factum est, sub illo (Antichristo) in veritate dicunt esse complendum.” Hieron. in locum. Col. 1106. Edit. Benedict. ap. Bp. Newton, Diss. xv. But modern Christian writers unite to designate Mahomet — ipsum antichristum orientalem.
+ Especially as the Romans never made Macedon a seat of empire, but merely subdued, and incorporated it in the province of Greece. They never, consequently, appeared there in the character of a horn, or kingdom, of the subdivided Greek empire.
of its first irruption, through Macedon, into the East, the Roman power was a great and notable horn * ; and the attempts to prove it a little one, undertaken in
of favourite hypothesis, are altogether gratuitous and puerile.t But, that the parallel should thus fail at the outset, that there should be a want of correspondence with the symbol which is the groundwork of the prophecy,—is a first objection to the interpretation, little short of fatal.
The principal objections to understanding this prophecy of Mahometanism are, 1. that this apostasy had its rise without the confines of the empire of Alexander ; and, 2. that, unlike the Roman power which was contemporary with them, it did nüe špring up until nearly seven hundred years
after the four notable horns of the vision, or the four kingdoms of the Macedonian empire, had ceased to exist as kingdoms.
To the former of these objections, it has been answered I, that the district of Arabia which gave birth to Mahomet has been reckoned, both by ancient and modern geographers, to form a part of the Greek empire, and of the Ptolemean kingdom of Egypt: while, even were this not so, Mahometanism would still stand on an equal footing with Rome; both powers having become alike engrafted on the empire of the he-goat, the one by the conquest of Macedon, and the other by the capture of Syria * ;- two of the four kingdoms of the dismembered he-goat. And, as there is no third claimant, the objection fairly falls to the ground.
* “ Post Carthaginem, vinci neminem puduit.” Florus, 1. ii. c. 7. Such is the true picture of the conquering majesty of Rome, at her first appearance on the theatre of the Macedonian empire. The spirit of hypothesis alone could identify a power like this, with the type of a little horn. In many respects, the resemblances to the prophecy are very strong; but it seems vain to seek one here, there is here no likeness.
+ The learned Dr. Zouch, for example, contends that Rome answers the symbol, from the weakness of her power on her first appearance in the East. If there be any thing in the argument, the Roman power, as the little horn of the he-goat, must have been weak, in comparison with that of each of the four notable horns. And how was this relative weakness first manifested ? Immediately after the conquest of Macedonia, one of the four horns, a message from the Roman senate decided the fate of two of the remaining notable horns. Rome saved Egypt, and scared Syria, by a word! It seems unaccountable how any interpreters could shut their eyes to the incongruity, between the power said to be symbolized, and the symbol. The fact would appear to be, that, misled by the other circumstantial agreements with the prophecy, the commentators would not, or could not, keep in mind the insurmountable nature of this first difficulty.
Sect. ü. vol. i. pp. 176, 177.
To the second objection it has been replied t, that, however commentators have been misled into the supposition, the book of Daniel supplies no ground for inferring, that the existence of the four prophetic horns was to cease with the passing away of their kingdoms. Indeed, the sacred text suggests a directly opposite inference: for we are not told, on the one hand, that the four notable horns were broken; and we are told, on the other hand, that three of the beasts in the preceding chapter, including the Macedonian leopard, with his four heads, being the same with the four horns, “ had their dominion taken away, yet their LIVES were prolonged for a season and a time.” I
The bodies of the beasts, then, may be conceived to represent the bodies, or geographical boundaries, of the primitive empires symbolized; and the horns, to typify the various powers successively ruling over, or within, these bodies. Thus contemplated, the Macedonian empire, after its dominion has been taken away, still lives on, in the eye of prophecy, as the body of the he-goat. And the same prolongation of existence may, on similar ground, be extended from the body, to the four notable horns, or kingdoms, of the he-goat; out of one of which, the little horn of the vision was to spring up. For the four horns, as exercising dominion over the four quarters of the body, may rightly be understood to represent the whole body of the goat, or the permanently surviving carcase of the Macedonian empire. Now, not only has Daniel omitted to mention that these horns were broken, but, by his silence, he leads us to infer that they were not broken; since of the two other horns noticed in this prophecy, he has positively stated, that the first great horn was broken, and that the little horn shall be broken.* The distinction thus indicated, is accurately preserved in the context. In the eighth verse we read : “ The great horn was broken; and for (i.e. in place of ) it, came up four notable horns.” No mention is made of these horns being broken ; and, accordingly, in the ninth verse, we are told : “ And out of one of them (i. e. not, instead of, but branching up from, one of them) came forth a little horn.”
* The Saracens effected in Syria, what the Romans did not effect in Macedon: they restored a kingdom there; making Damascus the seat of their empire. In this capital, the dynasty of the Ommiades flourished during eleven successive reigns : Cufa, their second imperial seat, was also situated in Syria : and Bagdad, the capital of the Abbasside dynasty, built at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates, also stood within the kingdom of the Seleucidæ.
of Sect. ii. vol. i. pp. 174, 175.
| From comparison of Dan. vii. 11. and vii. 12. it would seem clear, that the lives of the other beasts were preserved after the slaying and burning of the fourth beast. The three were in fact geographically one: the Assyrian, the Persian, and the Macedonian monarchies in the East, being nearly conterminous.
But the symbols themselves permanently existing, it was evidently matter of no moment, at what period the power symbolized by the little horn should arise. Mahometanism, in the seventh century of the Christian era, as aptly complies with the chronology of the prediction, as Antiochus Epiphanes himself, or as Rome in his days.
The apparent difficulties objected to this application of it once removed, in
of the little horn of the he-goat will be found to agree with the Mahometan apostasy, uniformly. well, and often far more appro
* " But he shall be broken without hand.” Dan, viji. 25. sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image. And the stone, that smote the image, became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.” Dan. ii. 34, 35. The same consummation is predicted in both prophecies. May we not infer, that the little horn, or king of fierce countenance, which shall be broken without hand, is to be broken by the stone cut out without hands? This similarity of expression apparently marks the unity of the predictions.