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105

CHAP. XV.

ON THE INDIVIDUALITY AND DESCRIPTION OF

THE KING WHO SHALL DO ACCORDING TO HIS WILL."

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The inquiry, proposed in the close of the preceding chapter, may be commenced by remarking that from the view which has been given of the design and object of the prophecy under consideration, it is obvious that all the circumstantial particulars predicted in the eleventh chapter, respecting the kings of the north and of the south, must be understood as subservient to the introduction of the King, whose beginning, operations, and end, were to be so distinctly marked. But in the detail of these introductory particulars, one circumstance of considerable moment is to be noticed. The language in which this prophecy is delivered is not, like the usual language of prophecy, symbolical and figurative, but for the most part literal and divested of figure. “And: now (continues the Angel, ch. xi. 2.) will I show 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.” Here we see that kings are not represented, as in the preceding visions, under the symbols of beasts and horns, but are literally spoken of as kings. Neither in this prophecy does the term king necessarily signify, as is sometimes the case, a kingdom, or succession of kings reigning through a long series of years. The kings here specified were individual kings, as history clearly shows: for after the death of Cyrus, three kings did actually reign, Cambyses, Smerdis the magian, and Darius Hystaspes : to whom succeeded Xerxes, the fourth king here mentioned; who, having acquired immense riches, and collected innumerable forces, undertook the memorable expedition against Greece; and thereby laid the foundation of that inveterate hatred betwixt the two nations, which proved in the end the overthrow of the Persian monarchy. Thus, in like manner, the instrument, by whom this overthrow was to be accomplished, is here also literally represented as an individual king: for the angel proceeds, “ And a mighty king shall stand up that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.” And that Alexander the Great was the king here predicted is plain from the circumstance mentioned in the following verse, which so exactly accords with history. “ And when he

· shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided towards the four winds of hea. ven; 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.” And it is to be further remarked in illustration of the point under discussion, that in a preceding prophecy the same individual, and the same division of his dominions, had been figuratively represented under the symbol of horns. (Ch. viii. 8.) But in this prophecy the symbolical language is dropped, and the literal language adopted.

If we pursue the prophecy farther, we shall find the same language still employed. The kings of the north and of the south are literally kings, and the proceedings predicted are those of individual kings, which, down to the end of the twenty-ninth verse, have been minutely and circumstantially fulfilled (as Bishop Newton and other interpreters have satisfactorily shown) in the subsequent histories of the successive kings of Syria and of Egypt.

What, then, is the inference which may be fairly deduced from this peculiarity in the language throughout one part of the prophecy, but that the same peculiarity exists throughout the remaining part of it? Since the kings, mentioned by the angel at the commencement, and

through the succeeding portion of the vision are: literal and individual kings, it seems not unreasonable to conclude that “ The King," who subsequently makes so prominent a figure in the prediction, and to whose introduction the mention of the others appears to be mainly subservient, is also a literal and individual king. If, indeed, it be said, that the unity and consistency of the prophetical language do not absolutely require such a conclusion; yet surely they may be considered as justifying it. At least, it must be admitted, that they furnish sufficient grounds for maintaining that “ The King” in question. may be an individual king. And might it not be with the design of more strongly indicating the necessity of such an admission, that the Angel, in speaking of the kings of Persia, and of the king of Grecia, and especially of the kings of the north and of the south, detailed several particulars respecting them in a far more minute and circumstantial manner than but for this reason his object seemed to demand ?

But having finished this detail, he hastens, with great rapidity, through a long intervening space, briefly, but distinctly, noticing the most prominent and characteristic events which would occur, till he arrives, in the course of his prophetic narrative, at that important period when: the appearance of the person in question re

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quired a more enlarged and circumstantial description. Thus, the 30th verse having introduced the Ro

man Empire into the prophecy. The 31st predicts the destruction of Jerusalem

by Titus. The 32d and 33d foretell the Pagan persecu

tions of the primitive Christians. The 34th alludes to the conversion of the Em

pire under Constantine. The 35th introduces the Papal persecution of

the Saints and Witnesses, continued during the period of the 1260 years; when “some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the Time of the End : because it is yet for a time appointed."

In the next verse “the King," who, with the circumstances connected with him, is the principal subject of the present inquiry, appears upon the scene of action; "the King, who shall do according to his will,” and whose extraordinary character and proceedings are thus detailed by the Angel. 36. And the * King shall do. according to his

* The translators of our Bible have here used the Hebrew article in a definite sense: whereas it is equally capable of admitting an indefinite meaning, "and a King shall do according to his will." It is obvious, that to an

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