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the holy city must have begun to be trodden under foot in that same year. But the literal Jerusalem did not then begin to be trodden under foot by the literal Gentiles.* Therefore the literal Jerusalem cannot be meant by the holy city ; nor the Christians of Jerusalem surrounded with the abominations of Mohammedism by the two witnesses. Mr. Whitaker seems to allow that this prophecy may be understood in a figurative sense, as it is by Bp. Newton, no less than in a literal one : 1, on the other hand, will venture explicitly to assert, that it is incapable of any other than a figurative sense.
In short, in the self-same year that the saints were first delivered into the hand of the little horn, the mystic holy city began to be trodden under foot by a new race of idolaters, the mystic witnesses began to prophesy in sackcloth, the mystic woman fled into the wilderness, and the ancient pagan Roman beast revived. So again : in the self-same year, at the termination of the 1260 days, that series of events will commence, by which the kingdom shall be given unto the saints, the power of the little horn shall be destroyed, the sanctuary shall be cleansed, and the beast shall be slain. These synchronisms must ever be kept in view : and, unless they be absolutely perfect, they are in effect no synchronisms. A failure of four years or of eight years, as in the two cases which have been last discussed, destroys a synchronism no less completely than a failure of as many centuries.
2. Dr. Zouch's Work on Prophecy is liable to many of the same objections as the two works of Mr. Whitaker : but it deserves the same commendation and at. tention from the protestant reader, on account of its severe though just censures of Popery. Differing as I do very essentially from Dr. Zouch in many points, I with pleasure acknowledge my obligation to him for the interpretation of the apocalyptic image of the beast, which I have adopted in the present work : an interpretation so simple, so natural, so perfectly according both with the text and with the event, so little liable to any reasonable objection, that I cannot but wonder how it came to be overlooked both by Mr. Mede, Sir Isaac Newton, and Bp. Newton.
* In strictness of speech the literal Jerusalem began to be trodden under foot long before, even in the year 70; so that Mr. Whitaker's scheme is untenable either way. See Luke xxi. 24. which can have no relation to Rev. xi. 2,
Mr. Kett's History the Interpreter of Prophecy, and Mr. Galloway's Commentary on the Revelation, I have read with much attention : but I have risen from the perusal of them unconvinced. Both of these respectable authors appear to me to have fallen into several considerable errors ; although the general idea, that many recent events are foretold by the inspired writers, is, I think, well founded.
3. Mr. Kett has involved the beautifully simple, and chronologically accurate, prophecies of Daniel in much needless confusion, by his scheme of ascribing to the same prediction a primary and a secondary, and sometimes even a three-fold and a four-fold, accomplishment. Had he more fully considered the nature of chronological prophecy, he would not have fallen into this mistake. Whatever may be the case with insulated predictions, it is physically impossible that a chronological one can admit of more than a single completion. The only difference between a connected series of chronological prophecies, and a regular history, is this : a series of strictly chrorological prophecies is a prospective detail of successive future events ; a history is a retrospective detail of successive past events. As well therefore might we suppose, that, when a history relates one circumstance, it ultimately means another ; as expect to find, in a
as expect to find, in a chronological prophecy, what Mr. Kett terms double links of accomplishment. The thing in both cases is equally impossible. The very circumstance of a prophecy being a chronological one excludes every idea of a two-fold completion. And, when it is further recollected, that Daniel more than once connects his predictions with certain specific numbers of years, it will appear yet more evidently, that Mr. Kett's system is perfectly untenable.
4. The preceding error cannot be charged upon Mr. Galloway : but, although he escapes this fault, he is repeatedly guilty of another ; I mean the want of a strict adherence to unity of symbolical interpretation. symbol may signify one thing in one part of a prophecy,
and another thing in another part, there never can be even any approximation to certainty in explaining an hieroglyphical prediction. The whole must be mere vague conjecture : for a prophecy, delivered in symbols which admit of no specific definition, may safely bid defiance to the most elaborate efforts of the most acute commentator. This injudicious method of exposition has, I am persuaded, excited a greater degree of prejudice against every attempt to explain the writings of Daniel and St. John, than any other cause whatsoever. It has given a handle to the ignorant and the irreligious to represent these portions of Scripture as altogether unintelligible : whereas figurative language is undoubtedly as plain as any mere literal language, provided only the symbols of which it is composed be accurately and definitely understood; and for the right understanding of them Scripture itself furnishes a key.
Besides the preceding general objections to the respective schemes of Mr. Kett and Mr. Galloway, I have many particular ones to their application of certain prophecies both of Daniel and St. John to the tremendous infidel power of France ; a power, which nevertheless I cannot refrain from esteeming the long expected Antichrist. But I will not anticipate the observations which will appear with more propriety in the body of my work. For the present, suffice it to say, that I am not conscious of ever having been guilty of the worse than childish vanity of introducing a new exposition merely because it is a new one. The Scriptures contain subjects much too solemn to be trifled with : and a commentator upon the prophecies ought never to displace any interpretation of his predecessors, without first assigning very weighty reasons for it.
With regard to the 1260 prophetic days, I have followed the most usual interpretation, which supposes them to be 1260 natural or solar years. Mr. Fleming indeed is of opinion, that, although these prophetic days be doubtless 1260 years, yet they are 1260 yeurs, each consisting of no more than 360 natural days ; " because euch great prophetic year contains, not 363 years,
but only 360 years. Hence he
Hence he argues, that the 1260 years,
being years consisting of only 360 natural days each, are in reality no more than 1242 solar years, and that they must be estimated as such in all computations that are made respecting them.* Independent however of the confusion introduced by such a mode of reckoning (for, would we be perfectly exact in it, we ought to attend both to the surplus of days above the 1242 years, † and to the hours and minutes by which the true solar year exceeds 365 days,) the Apocalypse itself, I think, affords us a sufficient proof of its erroneousness. Many other numbers are mentioned in that mysterious book besides the 1260 years; we must unavoidably therefore conclude, that the same mode of reckoning, which is used in one case, must be used likewise in another. Now Mr. Fleming himself allows, compelled thereto by the exact accomplishment of the prediction, that the five prophetic months of the Suracenic locusts are 150 natural years, not 150 years of no more than 360 days each ; # and Bp. Newton has admirably shewn from the event, that the prophetic hour, and day, and month, and year,
allotted to the victories of the Euphratèan horsemen, are equivalent to 391 solar years and 15 days, being the period comprehended between A. D. 1281 and A. D. 1672. Such then being the case, since both these sets of numbers are evidently to be computed by solar years, the number 1260 must, if we would preserve consistency, be computed by solar years likewise. Consequently the 1260 prophetic days of Daniel and St. John are 1260 complete solar years, not, as Mr. Fleming supposes, only 1242 solar years.
* Fleming's Apoc. Key, p. 20, 21, 22. † 1260 years of 360 days each are equivalent to 1242 years and 270 days.
270. 1260 X 360=453600.
# Apoc. Key, p. 37, 38. § Mr. Fleming attempts to reconcile this period with his own scheme by computing it from the rise of the Turkish empire to the taking of Constantinople : but he forgets that the prophet directs us to compute it from the time when the four Sultanies were prepared to be let loose against the Greek empire ;' an expression, which implies that they were already in existence, though as yet bound fast by the dispensations of Providence, previous to the commencement of the period in question. See Apoc. Key, p. 39, 40.
To conclude : whatever may be the faults of the present work, they are exclusively my own. Had this, and my two former publications, been perused by the eminent characters to whom they are respectively inscribed, previous to their being sent to the press, they doubtless would have been much more perfect than they are : as it is, I alone am responsible for the errors which they
Jan. 20, 1805.