« PreviousContinue »
the second ; and not, as hitherto, the third; and, in fact, while it answers the characteristic of the second already mentioned, (namely, inferiority to the preceding) it does not answer the characteristic of the third, of which, and of which only, it is declared that it shall “bear rule over all the earth.” (ch. ii. 29.)
(4.) The characteristic of universal sovereignty, which does not apply to the Grecian empire, does apply, if not exclusively, at least with peculiar propriety, to the Roman empire.
These arguments of Lacunza, as I have already said, I know not how to answer; but I must add another which is to my own mind more convincing than any of them. It is simply this—it seems to be clearly stated that the fourth empire shall exist until “the Ancient of days shall come, and judgment shall be given unto the saints of the Most High ; and the time shall come that they shall possess the kingdom”. (ch. vii. 22.--see also ver. 26, 27). That time has not yet arrived, and the Roman empire has long ceased to exist. Those who are hard-pressed by the exigency of system, may attempt to make a shew of a nominal empire, and, by long habit, the writers and readers of commentaries on the prophecies, have come to give, and receive, very marvellous interpretations, with great gravity; but surely the Roman empire--the empire founded by Romulus, and ruled by Augustus and Constantine, has passed through a regular decline and fall to absolute extinction,
I cannot however agree with Lucunza in supposing that Europe, in its present divided state, is the fourth kingdom. It seems a sufficent answer to say, tbat Europe thus divided, cannot form the fourth kingdom, because it is contrary to common sense to call it “ a kingdom" at all. I suspect, however, that the fourth empire is not yet come into existence, not only because it appears to me that the predictions respecting the fourth empire have not yet been fulfilled; but, because the prophecies respecting Antichrist seem clearly to declare that he shall attain an universal sovereignty, which (as I think will appear) answers to the predictions respecting the fourth empire.
I proceed however to notice what seems to be distinctly stated in this vision of the Image, which I conceive to be a general outline of the matters contained in the subsequent visions already mentioned.
(1.) It is declared that there should be three other
kingdoms after Nebuchadnezzar. (2.) The object being to inform the king as to what
should take place in the latter days, the second and third kingdoms are slightly passed over ;-it is merely stated that the second shall be inferior to the first, and
that the third shall bear rule over all the earth. (3.) The fourth kingdom being that which has to do
with the period of the vision, is more particularly described. It is stated that it shall be, at its beginning, strong as iron, but afterwards“ divided”—I presume we are to understand “ divided” among kings, for it is said (ver. 44,)“ In the days of these kings"; but no kings had been previously mentioned, unless it be
thus by implication. (4.) It is added that “they" (I presume these kings)
6 shall mingle themselves with the seed of men, but
they shall not cleave one to another. (5.) That in the days of these kings, the God of Hea
ven will set up a kingdom, which shall break in pieces and consume all the others, and stand for ever.
II. THE VISION OF THE FOUR BEASTS.
Daniel, chap. viii.
The four Beasts in this vision have been
commonly supposed to correspond with the four parts of the Image which was seen by Nebuchadnezzar. On this point however, I have some doubt, but I suggest it only as a doubt. It is indeed declared that the fourth Beast is the fourth kingdom upon earth, (v. 23.) and therefore the same that was prefigured by the feet and toes of the Image; but I do not know that it necessarily follows, that the first, second, and third Beasts, must respectively represent the gold, the silver, and the brazen parts of the Image. There seems to be nothing in the language of the prophecy which absolutely requires us to understand that the four empires should succeed each other, though the prophet could only describe the symbols in succession.
The symbols appear to have arisen simultaneously; and though this is no proof that the kingdoms also should arise simultaneously, yet it obviously allows the idea ;
and that idea is not in this case (as in that of the Image) contradicted by the interpretation of the vision. Perhaps, too, there is a difference between the fate of the three kingdoms symbolized by the upper parts of the Image, and that of those which are prefigured by the first three beasts; the former seem to be involved in one common overthrow, amounting to absolute extinction with the fourth empire—“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," ch, ii. 35.—the latter, appear to survive the fourth empire, and when the fourth beast is slain, it is added "as concerning the rest of the beasts they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time” (ch. vii. 12.). I do not know that these circumstances warrant our considering the three first beasts as symbolizing powers different from those which have been before symbolized by the parts of the Image; but I mention them, because all the attempts which I have seen, to explain the description of these three beasts, are so unsatisfactory, as to lead to a suspicion that the symbols are not yet rightly understood ; and it does not seem to me impossible, that they may refer to three kingdoms, contemporary with the fourth, which is evidently the great subject of the vision. Here (as in the vision of the Image) a more full description is given of the fourth kingdom, than of either of the others; of this one only, Daniel enquired particularly (v. 19), and of this one only, he received a detailed account; and this fourth kingdom is evidently the same as the fourth kingdom of the vision of the Image.
The new particulars respecting it given by this vision are as follows(1.) That it should be in some remarkable way
verse”' from the others. v. 7, 19, 23. (2.) Whereas, it was before stated, that the fourth
empire should be divided, and as it would seem among kings, it is here expressly stated, that it shall be di. vided among ten kings (v. 24); whom we may sup
pose to have been prefigured by the toes of the Image. (3.) That among these ten kings, an eleventh shall
arise, diverse from the rest, and subdue three of them.
v. 24. (4.) That this eleventh king shall blaspheme God, and
so bring on the ruin of the empire. v. 25. (5.) That the saints shall be delivered into his hands,
and worn out by him, during a time, times, and the
dividing of a time. (6.) That his dominion shall be taken away by the
Ancient of Days coming to judgment. v. 9, 10, 11,
21, 22, 26. (7.) That on the destruction of the empire, symbolized
by the fourth beast, the greatness of the kingdom, ander the whole heaven, shall be given to the
saints of the Most High. v. 26. (8.) That the head of this new empire shall be the Son
of Man. v. 13, 14. (9.) That while this fourth beast is slain, the other
three shall be prolonged in existence, without domi. nion, for a season and a time.
III. THE VISION OF THE RAM AND HE-GOAT.
Daniel, chap. viii.
In this vision only, two beasts were seen; and it is distinctly stated, that they symbolized the kings of Media and Persia, and the king of Grecia. From amidst the four horns of the goat, there arose a little horn, whom I believe to have prefigured the same person as that symbolized by the little horn in the vision of the four beasts :
(1.) Because the period of the little horn seems to be
the same as that of the former. It is particularly stated, that the events predicted in this vision shall be at the time of the end.' (v. 17); or, as it is expressed (v. 23), “ when the transgressors are come to the full;" or, as (v. 19) at the “last end of the indignation.” Such expressions can hardly relate, I think, to any period prior to the transgressions of the little hom of the preceding vision, or the “indig
nation" which destroys him. (2.) The same blasphemous conduct, and persecution
of the saints, is ascribed to him, as to the little burn of the fourth beast.