« PreviousContinue »
priately prefigure that happy period when the children of Israel, so long scattered and peeled, shall return every man to his possession, that land which God gave unto their fathers as an everlasting inheritance ? when once more they shall be settled in that land, which for so many centuries the rivers have spoiled ? when their city shall no longer be trodden down of the Gentiles; but the Lord shall inherit Judah, his portion, in the Holy Land, and shall choose Jerusalem again?
Therefore we may fairly suppose that the return of the Jews, preparatory to the kingdom being restored to Israel, will occur in a year of Jubilee : and there is no Jubilee in which we might more reasonably infer that such an event would take place, than the seventieth ; seven being the number of perfection, and seventy having been already applied in two other instances to circumstances connected with the history of Israel —ė. g. the seventy years in which they were kept captive in Babylon, and the seventy weeks determined upon their city and the holy people (Dan. ix. 24).
Now, according to Hales's system of chronology, which by many judges is now esteemed the most accurate, the first Jubilee was held in the year A. c. 1589: to which if we add the seventy Jubilees, returning after each other at an interval of forty-nine years, the seventieth, or great sabbatical Jubilee, will fall in the year A. D. 1841, about which time we may expect that the Jews, as a nation, will have returned to that land which God gave unto their fathers.
2. In the xxvith chapter of the book of Leviticus, the Lord, in denouncing judgments on his chosen people if they should rebel against him, frequently declares that he will chasten them seven times (vers. 18, 21, 24, 28); and the outcast condition of Israel is most accurately pourtrayed, in the iv th chapter of Daniel, under the appropriate emblem of a tree stripped of its branches and its leaves, and bound down to the earth as a dry stump until seven times pass over it.
This tree, in its primary signification, certainly exhibits the punishment of the Babylonian monarch; but it contains a more deep and comprehensive meaning also, and in every particular agrees most exactly with the history of the house of Israel, as described in other parts of Scripture. This wide-spreading and fruitful tree, under which the beasts of the field had shadow, and in whose boughs the fowls of the heaven dwelt, is in other places applied by the Holy Spirit directly and expressly unto Israel ; especially in the lxxxth Psalm : "Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt; thou hast cast out the heathen and planted it: the hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars; she sent out her boughs unto the sea, and her branches unto the rivers". (compare
Jer. ii. 21. ; Isa. v; and Ezek. xix. 10): where the description of Israel strikingly agrees with that given in Nebuchadnezzar's dream : “ Like a vine she was fruitful, and full of branches : her stature was exalted among the thick branches; and she appeared in her height with the multitude of her branches.” And what emblem can more beautifully represent the fallen and outcast condition of Israel, than this same tree after the Watcher and the Holy One has sent forth his mandate; “ Hew down the tree and cut off his branches; shake off his leaves and scatter his fruit : let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from under bis branches : nevertheless, leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass.” The tree, though denuded of its leaves, stripped of its branches, and deprived of its fruit—to all appearance a dry and withered stump-was yet to retain within itself a principle of vitality, by which, at the appointed season, it was again to shoot forth with renev vigour. So the house of Israel, though scattered and peeled ; an astonishment, a proverb, and a bye-word; without king, without priest, without sacrifice ; ground down to the earth with the iron bands of oppression; still continues in existence, though exposed to the storms of many centuries : and this withered stump shall yet again shoot forth with new strength: and beauty; and Israel shall yet again blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.
Though there be a tenth part remaining in it,
stock remaining ;
(Isa. vi. 13 : Bp. Lowth). The period during which the tree remains in its melancholy and forlorn state is expressly limited for seven times ; and this is therefore the period during which Israel remains in its outcast condition. This is the period during which the Gentiles have the dominion; and which is alluded to by our Lord in Luke xxi. 24 : “ Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”
If, therefore, we can trace out the time when Israel was cast off, we may form a fair epoch from which to calculate these seven times, the period of Israel's degradation; and no time appears to be more strongly marked than that mentioned in the viith chapter of Isaiah, where the Prophet declares to Abaz that “ within three score and five years Ephraim shall be broken, that it be not a people ;" which prediction was accomplished in the year A. c. 677, when Esarhaddon carried away the remnant of the ten tribes, and entirely put an end to the people of Israel, as a people separate from all others. From this period, then, we
should date the seven times. _And, as we learn, from comparing the book of Daniel with the Revelation, that a prophetic time is 360 days, the seven times are equal to 2520 days: and as we reckon a day for a year, according to the system adopted in the ordinary interpretation of prophecy, these seven times, or 2520 years, will terminate in A. D. 1843, when the tree, so long withered and stripped, shall once more revive and flourish.
3. There is yet another chronological prophecy, which to many may appear more simple and convincing than those already mentioned, but which brings us to the same conclusion; I mean the period spoken of in Daniel viii. 14, when, in reply to the question, “ 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 food ?” the time is thus specified; “ Unto two thousand three hundred days*: then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.”
There is some difference of opinion as to the year from which this period is to be calculated ; but as in the vision no notice is taken of the fall of the Babylonish empire, but the action of the vision commences from the pushing of the ram, it is evident that we must date this prophetic period concerning the sanctuary, not from the time when it was disclosed to Daniel, but from some part of the reign of the kingdom of Persia.
During the continuance of the Medo-Persian empire, no event occurred of such importance to the Jews, as a nation, as the restoration of their civil and ecclesiastical polity under Ezra, by permission of King Artaxerxes; which is taken notice of in the next chapter, ver. 25, as the going forth of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem ; an event of such importance, that from it the most judicious commentators calculate the " seventy weeks determined upon the people and the holy city."
This restoration under Ezra was the shadow of the far more glorious restoration which is yet to come, and the new pledge of the fulfilment of God's promises to his ancient people: we may therefore reasonably infer, that from this time the vision concerning the sanctuary is to be calculated, and that these 2300 days exactly mark the interval which was to elapse between the two restorations.
The decree of Artaxerxes for restoring the Jewish polity is given at length in the viith chapter of Ezra, and it was issued in the seventh year of that monarch's reign, which was the year A. c. 457. From which if we reckon the 2300 days, according to prophetic analogy, a day for a year, we shall find that this
* I am aware that many respectable interpreters of prophecy prefer reading 2400 days; but as this reading is not supported by a single MS. and is not found in any version, nor in any edition of the Septuagint but one, it must be rejected by every sound Biblical critic.
period also terminates in A. D. 1843, when, without presumption, we may hope that the sanctuary will be cleansed and the kingdom be restored to Israel.
And the present aspect of the world confirms the idea, drawn from these chronological predictions, that the glorious things which are spoken concerning the ancient people and the city of God are about to receive their accomplishment.
There is now upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear, and looking for those things which are coming on the earth (Luke xxi. 26). But the most striking sign is “the drying up of the great river Euphrates, to prepare the way for the kings of the East;" which symbol has been considered, by every judicious interpreter of prophecy since the days of Joseph Mede, to signify the downfall of the Ottoman Empire, as preparatory to the return of the Jews: and at this moment we may behold this remarkable prediction wonderfully receiving its accomplishment. For what is the present condition of that empire, which once filled all Europe with dismay? We see its fleets destroyed, its armies defeated, its treasures exhausted, its population thinned by sword and by pestilence; distracted with internal commotions, dismembered of its richest provinces, and unable to resist the progress of its own rebellious subjects. As to the accuracy of this statement, we need not question the mere student of prophecy; but ask any worldly politician what is his opinion as to the condition of that once formidable empire: he will reply, That it is sinking rapidly to decay, that it is even now on the verge of dissolution.
And whilst the Ottoman Empire is thus wasting away to ruin, and nothing withstands the victorious career of the Pacha of Egypt; amongst his proceedings there is none more remarkable than the firman he published on obtaining possession of the city of Jerusalem, wherein he declares that henceforth the Jews and Christians, both in their journeyings through Judea and their abode in the holy city, shall be free from all tributes and burdens.
Moreover, the Jews are filled with ardent expectation that a glorious change is at length awaiting their nation * ; and, in consequence of this belief, many families have, within the last few years, returned to Judea.
It well becomes the student of prophecy to keep his attention closely fixed upon the children of Israel; they are God's witnesses: and as we have so many reasons for supposing that the Lord is about to restore again the kingdom to Israel, we must
* See No. III. of “The Morning Watch," published December 1829; wherein is given a most interesting Cabalistic calculation, fixing the restoration of Israel and the reign of David to A.D. 1840.
see that the mystery of God is about to be finished; that the great day of the Lord is near, is very near; it hasteth greatly.
Daily is the Lord now sending warnings to the church, whether they will hear or whether they will forbear. In every manner, from every quarter, the cry is made,“ Behold, the Bridegroom cometh! go ye forth to meet him.”
Happy are they who take heed to the more sure word of prophecy, and are thereby induced to stand prepared, having their loins girded and their lights burning; and, as they witness the signs of their Lord's approach, are enabled with humble confidence to look up and lift up their heads, knowing that their redemption draweth nigh.
In the mean time, we should take the deepest interest in the fortunes of the Jewish nation; and, in obedience to the word of the Lord,“ keep not silence, and give him no rest, till he establish, till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.”
THE POWERS OF THE CHURCH.
" Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
- Matt. xviii, 18. 6. Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever
sins ye retain, they are retained.”—John xx. 23. At a time like the present, when the supernatural powers of the church are not only forgotten, but altogether denied, and the plain language of Scripture mystified, and wrested from its original meaning, to suit the Neologian scepticism of the day, the following observations, though they may appear novel and startling to some modern students in theology, yet to the unprejudiced inquirers after truth may not be wholly undeserving of attention, as conducing to throw light upon several long-neglected and misunderstood texts.
When we contemplate the state of the church as existing under the superintendence of the Apostles, we find it possessed of certain miraculous powers, which are enumerated by St. Paul under the designation of gifts : among which, though not expressly named, probably was comprised that power, granted by our Lord, of binding and loosing on earth, with a corresponding act and sanction in heaven. And this operation was not confined to a mere figurative or spiritual influence of principles or doctrine, as some contend, but included also an actual and corporeal manifestation of power, exercised over the substance of visible matter, and displayed not only in the healing of diseases, but also in their infliction as an exemplary punishment. So