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to contend that the will of man is as free and unfixed as the waters of the ocean, and though the sea that cannot rest be too faithful an emblem of the history of man, yet God hath set his word as the bound of all the tempestuous commotions of earthly kingdoms; and there is, too, a perpetual decree that they cannot pass. His word fulfils the purpose for which he sent it, as the sand is the bound of the sea. Till the event realize its truth, it cannot be traced so closely, or be defined so well, as the past fulfilment of prophecy, which already shows the termination of many a political convulsion as clearly as ever the line of a retiring wave, after the subsiding of the tempestuous ocean, was marked by the mire it left: yet the word of God, if once it can be rightly ascertained on what point of prophetic history we stand, may enable us from thence to look beyond the present appearances of things, or the events that are beginning to rise up to mortal view, and to see, by a light from the sanctuary, their ultimate issue, even as one who stands upon the shore, however the waves may toss themselves and roar, may fix the utmost limits of the highest billow, and show the spot which, when once its power shall be broken on the sand, it-cannot pass over.
Warrantable and wise as we deem it to be to hear what the Lord hath spoken by the mouth of his prophets, yet the misinterpretations of prophecy, though it was given for a light, lead to delusion, even as the other Scriptures, which were all given for promoting the work of salvation, may be wrested by men to their destruction. If the sand of the seashore lie not compactly in its natural position, but be transformed into any other shape by the hand of man, it becomes the sport of the wind instead of the bound of the ocean, till it resume the form in which God had placed it. It is not for mortals either to add to, or to take from, the words of prophecy, or
the book of the revelation of Jesus Christ. The blessing promised to those who read and understand, ought not carelessly to be forfeited. But too high a solicitude cannot be excrcised against seeking to be wise above what is written, or of placing any vain imagination in the stead of a prophetic declaration, or of thinking that we see a sign where God has shown none. And when the event only is revealed, it is not for men to dogmatizé about the mode or the means of its accomplishment; for God's ways are not as our ways, nor his thoughts as our thoughts, and his purposes may be wrought out in a manner that we wot not.
In submitting these pages to the Christian public, it is not the intention of the writer, for it would tend to frustrate his object, to enter into an elaborate discussion on any unfulfilled predictions, or to attempt either to support or to controvert any of the various theories which have recently given rise to much discussion among the students of prophecy. The most simple exhibition of the truth, if such could be obtained, might be the best correction of any error, with whomsoever it might lie. Of some of the. interpretations contained in the following pages, he would only be the more suspicious, because they are new. They came unsought for, while tracing, point after point, the parallel between prophecy and history. And if they stood in need of any ingenuity to support them, for that very reason he would have accounted them untenable, and have rejected them as unsound. He would rather draw analogies, or shew the exact coincidences throughout the whole, between predictions and facts, than trust, in any part, to general reasonings,--the distrusting of which, on such a subject, was almost his only-preparation for the task. And believing, whenever the time of fully unsealing the vision shall be come—if the time be not already come, as he is inclined to
believe, in which the judgments of God are manifest, -that the prophecies which are hid under symbols for a season, shall, after their kind, be as clear illustrations of the predicted events, as the literal prophecies expressly describe them, he can only solicit the reader, as a Christian duty, to put no faith in the interpretation, but freely to discredit and discard it in any instance, especially when new, if it be destitute of the simplicity and consistency of truth, and if, on comparing things spiritual with spiritual, and the things that were to be with the things that have been, it be not founded explicitly and exclusively on the authority of Scripture, and a full, regular, and entire accordance with historical facts. And he would crave the patient indulgence and perseverance of the reader, in traversing step by step the path of history, by the light of prophecy, from the sixth century before Christ, to the nineteenth of the Christian era.
The fate of the world is too serious a matter now to be looked on any longer as an amusing speculation. And it is not to pander to an idle curiosity, to foster a prurient fancy, or to raise any high imaginations higher than they are, that this little volume is written. If it be opened for such a purpose, the reader cannot lay it too soon aside to lessen the disappointment. The Lord Jesus reproved those who sought after a sign from heaven; as well as charged them with hypocrisy and folly, for not discerning the signs that were to be seen. And if such indeed they be, the signs of the times, as seen by fulfilled predictions traced down to the present hour, are here set forth, that a timely warning may be taken, and that sight may never be lost of the great end for which all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, viz. that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all
good works. To be furnished unto all good works is to be prepared for all events; whether the earth be convulsed with changes, or whether it be removed out of its place. And were the signs of the times looked at in this spirit of a holy faith, the labour of pointing to them would not be lost, if,-ere they pass away, and the tempest, which, though it be stayed for a season, together with all earthly appearances they indicate, burst fully and fearfully upon the world,—there be a single head, whether youthful or hoary, the less unprepared to meet it, by being found the more in the way of righteousness for having looked unto the judgments which have come upon the earth. Though all things at last shall be shaken, the things that cannot be shaken shall remain. He that doth the will of God abideth for
THE prophecies of Daniel contain a long and marked outline of the history of the world. No subject is more familiar to every one who is the least versant in ancient history, than the successive dominion that was exercised over great part of the earth by Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. Cyrus, Alexander the Great, and the Cæsars, are historical names universally known to boyhood. And no less familiar to every student of prophecy, so soon, as they are even initiated in the subject, is the symbolical description of these very empires, as they are detailed in the Book of Daniel,
Under the double representation of a great image, consisting of different parts, and of a succession of wild beasts (the common scriptural emblem of kingdoms), varying in nature and form, the great successive empires were symbolized, and these symbols were also explained, in such a manner as to leave no room for any variety of opinion among commentators, and to render superfluous any reiterated explanation. The prophet gives an interpretation of both; so that the general significancy of the symbols, as denoting the kingdoms that in after ages were to arise in the earth, is happily neither left to conjecture nor exposed to any cavil.
The golden head of the image was expressly declared to be the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar, or that of Babylon. When the vision was revealed it existed in its prime. The God of heaven had given him a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. And wheresoever the children of men dwelt, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, God had given into his hand, and had made him ruler over them all. He was the head of Gold. After him another kingdom was to arise, inferior to his, namely the united kingdom of Persia and Media, represented by the breast and arms of silver. This kingdom was, in its order, to be succeeded by another third kingdom of brass, "the brass-clothed Greeks," which was to bear rule over all the earth, denoted, in the image, by the belly and the thighs of brass. Alexander, the subverter of the Persian empire, was an universal monarch, who ruled over the whole earth, till he mourned that he had no more kingdoms to subdue. The iron legs of the image represent the iron kingdom of Rome, which extended at once over the west and the east, and which was the fourth kingdom, strong as iron, forasmuch as iron breaketh in picces and subdueth_all things; and as iron, that breaketh all these, shall