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SECOND ADVENT, &c.
PART THE SECOND.
CHAPTER THE FIFTH.
The Dream of Nebuchadnezzar, in the Second Chapter of Daniel.
AMONG the prophets of the era of the captivity, Daniel will of course claim our particular attention. In searching the divine oracles for intimations of the second advent of the Redeemer, and of the establishment of his glorious kingdom, the writings of this prophet will afford us much information, especially in enabling us to connect the history of that kingdom with the general history of the world. Daniel was cotemporary with Jeremiah and Ezekiel; and seems to have been made an instrument of the divine Spirit before the latter prophet entered on his office, though his last prophecies fall some years later than the last visions of Ezekiel.
The first occasion of Daniel's exercising his prophetical office, was his being brought forward to interpret
the well-known dream of Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian monarch. Respecting this dream, Daniel is commissioned to say expressly, that "the God of heaven, that revealeth secrets," "had made known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what should be in the latter days:" we shall expect, therefore, the same subject, which has from the beginning been the great theme of prophecy, to be again brought before us; for we know already, that the coming of the Redeemer, and the establishment of his glorious kingdom, on the destruction of the adversaries of his people, are the great events of the latter days.
The dream which, though forgotten, had made such an impression upon the king, Daniel reminds him, was this:
"Thou, O king, sawest; and, behold, a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass his legs of iron, his feet part of iron, and part of clay. Thou sawest till a stone was cut out without hands," [or, which was not in hands, †] which smote the image upon its feet, that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth."
"This," says the prophet, "is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.”
"Thou, O King, art a King of kings; for the God of heaven
Supposed to have been about the year 603 before Christ; according to Dr. Hales, 569.
hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory: and wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field, and the fowls of the heaven, hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all; thou art this head of gold."
Nebuchadnezzar's empire was intended to be symbolized by this head of gold; and an idea of its great riches, of its splendour, its power, and its universal extension, is conveyed by the language of the prophet. The antiquity of this empire is so great, indeed, that its particular events are almost beyond the reach of authentic history independent of the Scriptures. But what remains of the account of Babylon, and her great king, in profane history, certainly speaks for a magnificence, and majesty of regal authority, perhaps, not to be compared with any thing the world has since beheld, Great, however, as was the empire of Babylon, it was of short duration. Daniel saw its fall, which took place about the year before Christ 538,* sixty-five years after the date of Nebuchadnezzar's dream.
Daniel's interpretation proceeds: "And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee." This explained the symbol of the image's "breast and arms of silver." The event proved that this was the Persian dominion, whose greatness began to be established by Cyrus. It continued for about two hundred years, reaching down a little more than a hundred and twenty years beyond the close of the Old Testament. 1
"And another third kingdom of brass, that shall bear rule over all the earth." This the event has shown to be
1 "It lasted 205 years, from B. C. 536, to the battle of Arbela, the capture of Babylon by Cyrus, B. C. 331.". DR. HALES.