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ened when he was put under coercion; and it would impel him to watch for opportunities of escaping from his place of restraint. We suppose, then, that he eluded his keepers; that he concealed himself for some time in the thickets of the extensive royal gardens or parks; that he fed upon such vegetables as he could get, for the Chaldee and its correspondent Hebrew word translated grass, signifies any kind of fodder for cattle; that he might actually imagine himself transformed into an ox; and that a week or more might elapse before he was discovered and brought back to the care of his keepers. During that time his hair and beard would become matted ; and his finger and toe-nails, not having been cut from the beginning of his malady, would be long, sharp, and curved. That he might secure himself from becoming the prey
animals for some weeks, is by no means incredible, if we consider the agility, strength, and cunning which are often characteristic of mental disorder : besides, in the neighbourhood of populous places such animals are not commonly found, and Nebuchadnezzar might have concealed himself in a part of the grounds belonging to his palace, where no dangerous animal could find access. The case of the boy Peter, who was found in the forests of Hanover; and that of a female, who was discovered a few years ago in the fastnesses of the Pyrenees; are demonstrations of the possibility of such preservation. It is even not incredible that some of the plants which the deranged king ate, might physically contribute to his
(3) The officers of state would do their utmost to preserve the government to their afflicted sovereign, hoping for his recovery. Even a regard to their own safety would prescribe this line of conduct; for a successor, under all the circumstances, would be likely to deprive them of their offices or even of their lives. Pressed by such motives, they might very successfully carry on the government, for seven or even fourteen months.
Obj. 9. Why did not the king tell his dream, in the first instance, to Daniel ; instead of sending for the inferior Magians (ver. 6, 7); since he had previous experience (ch. ii.) of the incapacity of the latter, and of the ability to interpret with which the former was endowed by the True God?
Ans. State-etiquette might prescribe this course; or Daniel might not be, at the moment, within reach; or the king's mind might have been poisoned against him by his ever active calumniators. Other reasonable motives might exist; so that the objection is very frivolous.
Obj. 10. No other historical monuments mention a king of the name of Belshazzar.
Ans. We have but few and imperfect fragments of Chaldaic history for that period. The oriental kings had generally several names.-Belshazzar is a genuine Chaldee name, and all the others which ancient historians give to the last Chaldæan king of Babylon, are evidently corruptions; namely, Labynetus, Nabannidochus, Nabonnadus, Nahoandel.
A forger, in the age of Antiochus Epiphanes, would certainly have been inore likely to use one of these forms of the name, current in his time.
Obj. 10. The predictions in ch. ii. and vii. to xii. are so circumstantial and express, in their describing the affairs of the Græco-Syrian and Græco-Egyptian dynasties, that they are more like historical details than prophecies; and must therefore have been written after the events.
Ans. (1.) This old objection of Porphyry's is fully available only on the supposition of the infidel principle, the denial of supernatural revelation : but this, and the fact of real and divine prophecy, we believe to be established by amply sufficient evidence.
(2.) If it be urged by a believer in revelation, in this form, that it is not the manner of the genuine prophets to express predictions in terms so remarkably definite and circumstantial ; we reply, that this minute circumstantiality is exaggerated. It is not so great as would violate the fundamental rule, that Prophecy is not to be understood till it is explained by the event.- Many other prophecies, in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Micah, Zechariah, and others, are nearly, if not quite, as circumstantial.
(3.) In whatever degree the composition and manner of the book is supposed to differ from the ordinary character of the acknowledged prophets, in that degree is the evidence of its genuineness enhanced. For, if it had been first brought into notice after the death of Antiochus Epiphanes, the novel character of the representation would have aroused suspicion, and put the Jews of that day the more on their guard against any interpolation.
(4.) That there should be reasons in the divine wisdom for the fact that some predictions should be more specific and circumstantial, and others less so, is in itself highly credible. I beg to refer to some observations on this distinction in the preceding Discourse, pp. 45–47, 53, 54.
(5.) The most important of all the predictions, namely, those which respect the Messiah, the time of his coming, his death, his doctrine, and his kingdom; however clear they really are, yet are, by no means, so clear as to be out of the range of difficulty in the application. Witness the numerous controversies respecting the Seventy Weeks, the Cuttingoff of the Messiah, and several other subjects; in which not only Jews, but many Christians, have adopted widely different and repugnant modes of explication.
Obj. 11. The introduction of super-human spirits as messengers of the Deity, watchers and counsellors of heaven, and protectors of distinct kingdoms, is inconsistent with the doctrine of revelation concerning the divine government; and it was derived from the Magian philosophy.
Ans. Several of these representations are merely symbolical imagery ; and, that they are in the style of the Magian representations, is a circumstance strongly attesting the genuineness and authenticity of the book, for it leads us up to the age, the place, and the personal circumstances of
Daniel, and cannot be rationally assigned to any other. The general purport of these symbols is to represent the universal agency of Divine Wisdom, Providence, and Power. We do not concede that the doctrine of angels, good and depraved, is an invention of any oriental philosophy ;- we believe that whatever vestiges of it were found among the ancient Persians, had, in their elements, descended to them from the revealed knowledge of the patriarchal ages ; — and we find mention of those superior intelligences, and some intimations of their employments in the system of the divine government, in many parts of the Hebrew Scriptures written long before the captivity.
I now request the reader to weigh both sides of these arguments : and I confidently ask, whether there is not a vast preponderance in favour of the genuineness, authenticity, and divine inspiration of the Book of Daniel ?
Note D, p. 15.
That the last six chapters contained under the name of Zechariah, are an independent book of divinely-inspired prophecy, written long before the Babylonish captivity, has been maintained by Joseph Mede, Bishop Kidder, Archbishop Newcome, and other judicious writers; and it appears to be satisfactorily proved from the following considerations. It may be premised, that Zechariah was a common name among the ancient Israelites; and of the various persons bearing it in the Old Testament, three at least appear to have been prophets, besides the contemporary of Joshua and Zerubbabel who wrote the former eight chapters.
1. The sentiments which form the ground-work and structure of this portion are extremely different from those of the foregoing eight chapters. In particular, there is no allusion to the Babylonish captivity, or the return from it, or the circumstances of the Jews as growing out of those facts : topics which are so predominant in the preceding part and in Haggai. The entire contents of the work imply a quite different state of things.
2. The style is manifestly more pure, concise, powerful, and poetical.
3. It contains intimations that the kingdom of the Ten Tribes was in existence, and the apprehensions which are expressed of danger refer only to Assyria and Egypt, ch. ix. 10, 13, x. 6, 7, 10, 11, xi. 14. No mention occurs of the Chaldæan power. The kingdom of the Ten Tribes was extinguished by the Assyrians 186 years before the return of the Jews from Babylon.
4. At the time when the book was written, the principal rivals of the Jewish nation appear to have been the Philistines, the Syrians, and the Tyrians (ch ix. 1-6): a state of things which will apply to the period hinted at in ch. xiv. 5, the reign of Uzziah; but not many years later.
Note E, p. 22. Isaiah xxxvii. 36. That superior intelligences are employed by the Most High, in the manifold execution of his purposes, both of judgment and of mercy, is often declared and exemplified in scripture. This does not hinder but that the immediate instrument may be any natural cause; which, under this especial direction, and taken in all the circumstances of time, correlated occurrences, and end, is yet properly a miraculous action. That, in this instance, the instrument was the malignant putrid fever of hot climates, the plague, usually called in scripture “the pestilence," appears highly probable from the similar instance recorded in 2 Sam. xxiv. 15–17, and 1 Chron. xxi. 14–16. Dean Prideaux and some other good writers have supposed that the instrument which Providence employed in this infliction, was the Simoom or Samiel, the hot suffocating wind of the Arabian deserts : but this supposition is set aside by the fact that the destructive wind never blows by night.
It seems necessary here to notice the attempt of some eminent scholars, but who are deeply tinctured with the Neologism of the last forty years, to destroy the received belief of Jews and Christians in the genuineness of a large portion of the book of Isaiah, and that which contains matter the most important to the Christian religion. The principal of the parts thus rejected are chapters xiii., xiv. 1-23, xxiv. to xxvii., and xl. to lxvi. The theory of those persons is, that either one unknown writer or several composed these portions at different periods in the time of the captivity, and afterwards, when the events described had actually taken place; and circulated them among the Jews, for their reformation and consolation; and that these anonymous productions came to be annexed to the writings of Isaiah, on account of the affinity of subjects, the sublimity of the composition, and the deep interest taken in the hopes and prospects which they hold forth.
The chief objection to the genuineness of the disputed portions is drawn from the fact, that numerous passages, especially such as refer to the Chaldæan invasion, the devastation of Judæa, the ruin and desolation of Jerusalem, (see particularly ch. lxiii. 15 to lxiv. 12,) the restoration from the captivity, and the retributive judgments which should fall upon Babylon, (as in ch. xiii. to xiv. 23, xl. to xlix.,) are in the style of present description; so that they intimate the actual existence of the persons and events referred to, and are, therefore, not prophecy but poetical delineations of facts which were before the eyes of the Jewish people when these compositions were published among them.
This objection goes upon the principle either of denying totally a divine inspiration, or of assuming that inspiration itself is not at liberty to announce future events by graphically depicting them as if now existing. The former principle is rationally disposed of by the direct evidences of Revelation. With regard to the latter, it appears remarkable that the * learned persons who take this ground, do not perceive that such a style
naturally, I might say necessarily, arises from the very character of poetic diction, which delights in painting scenes, past or future, in the vivid colours of immediate reality. But still more does reason require it to be allowed, that the All-knowing Spirit, to whom all times and beings are intuitively and eternally present, should, if it be his sovereign pleasure, infuse the gift of his own INSPIRATION into the most vigorous creations of the poet's mind; and so cast the visions of futurity into the forms of a scenery, as it were, all fresh and breathing to the reader's imagination. And why must it be deemed any other than proper and natural, that the impressive scenes of futurity should be drawn by the pencil of heavenly prophecy in the dramatic form, and should introduce the actors or witnesses of the predicted events as if they were really present, uttering their own emotions and describing the facts which call forth their feelings? There are many passages in the writings of the other prophets expressed in this bold and beautiful style, and of which it cannot, with any colour of reason, be pretended that they were written after the events which they describe as if actually present. Indeed, the manner of any prophet partakes of this animating spirit, in proportion as he stands high in the scale of poetical sublimity. Joel, Micah, Nahum, and Habakkuk, are examples.
Besides, the grounds of the objection are exaggerated. We may appeal to every attentive reader whether the tenor of composition, in the most vivid and glowing of the parts alluded to, when viewed as a whole and read with a comprehensive eye, may not be fairly taken as a representation of the future.
Another great objection is drawn from an alleged difference in the style between the disputed portions and those which are allowed to be the genuine writings of Isaiah.
To this we reply, that this prophet continued in the discharge of his office, delivering and writing the dictates of the Eternal Spirit, during a period of nearly fifty years. Within so long a space of time, the style of most authors undergoes considerable alterations. The great diversity of the subjects, also, required a corresponding variety in the style and manner of delivery. Shall we suppose the greatest and sublimest of the prophets not to have had an oratorical and poetical power equal to that which other men of surpassing genius have possessed, of varying his character of expression according to the nature of the subjects? -The majesty of many of the topics, in chapters xl. to lxvi., is such as, apart from miraculous inspiration, (which was perfectly consistent with the characteristic differences of the sacred writers,) would naturally assume a greater lofti. ness of representation and copiousness of imagery.—The difference is not greater than may be observed in the writings of other prophets, and of very powerful and sublime authors generally. Dr. Jahn observes that this difference is found, to as great an extent, in Hosea, Micah, and Amos, and in the Psalms written by David under widely different circumstances, and at long distant periods of his life.