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LECTURE 1386. That we must resolve to honour the God of our fathers. The prophetic narrative in this chapter has hitherto run on without any considerable break, except in passing over about an hundred and fifty years, between the wealthy king of Persia and the mighty king of Grecia. See ver. 2, 3. In what follows, the angel who is speaking, after mentioning the repulse of Antiochus Epiphanes by " the ships of Chittim” or the Roman power, takes up the history of that power, passing on at once to the chief points in which it has stood connected with the history of the church of God. Whilst yet heathen it polluted “the sanctuary of strength,” when it became the means of destroying the temple at Jerusalem. Much more did it do so after it adopted the profession of Christianity; by corrupting the purity of the Christian faith. Both in its heathen state, and when professing Christianity, it has been notorious for persecuting those who cleave stedfastly to the Gospel of God. Both as a secular power, and as an ecclesiastical power, it has used flattery and force to the uttermost, for the upholding of falsehood in opposition to the truth.
From the division of the Roman empire into two distinct portions, the western and the eastern, there arose a corresponding distinction between the churches of the west and of the east. And it is remarkable, that in each of these great portions of Christendom, there has been a signal encroachment upon the sovereignty of Christ in his kingdom; each based upon the corruption of truth, and the ungodliness of life, which secular influence had fomented in the church ; the one still bearing on its front the cross of Christ, but dishonouring it by all manner of idolatry, the other altogether superseding Christ and the Gospel, by the impostor Mahomet and his Koran. We consider that these two great desolations of the church have been pointed out in the previous visions of the prophet. See chap. 7, 8. Possibly one or other of these two, or both, may be meant by the wilful king, whose character, and actions, and end, are here foretold. But it is more probable, that this awful description points to a power professedly infidel
, a king who may perhaps marshal in his ranks unbelievers gathered both from the west and from the east, the dregs of both the Romish and Mahometan superstitions. The events of our own times bave shewn us how ripe the world is for such a power to arise ; if it have not already arisen. Time will shew how soon it is to attain the eminent success, and helpless end, here set forth. It is enough for us to know, that however exalted in power, wealth, or glory, such a godless king may be, his end is foretold by God, no less clearly than his rise. It'is enough for us to resolve, that even if our own beloved nation were, for its sins, given up to the sword of such rulers, or to the ascendancy of such principles, we would still at all risks honour that God of our fathers, whose kingdom never ends, and on whose help we may ever confidently rely, for it will never fail,
The resurrection of the dead. The end of these wonders. 1 And at that time shall Michael waters of the river, when he held stand up, the great prince which up his right hand and his left standeth for the children of thy hand unto heaven, and sware by people: and there shall be a him that liveth for ever that it time of trouble, such as never shall be for a time, times, and was since there was a nation an half; and when he shall even to that same time: and at have accomplished to scatter the that time thy people shall be power of the holy people, all delivered, every one that shall these things shall be finished. be found written in the book. 8 And I heard, but I under
2 And many of them that sleep stood not: then said I, O my in the dust of the earth shall Lord, what shall be the end of awake, some to everlasting life, these things ? and some to shame and ever- 9 And he said, Go thy way, lasting contempt.
Daniel: for the words are closed 3 And they that be wise shall up and sealed till the time of shine as the brightness of the the end. firmament; and they that turn 10 Many shall be purified, and many to righteousness as the made white, and tried; but the stars for ever and ever.
wicked shall do wickedly: and 4 But thou, O Daniel, shut up none of the wicked shall underthe words, and seal the book, stand; but the wise shall undereven to the time of the end : stand. many shall run to and fro, and 11 And from the time that the knowledge shall be increased. daily sacrifice shall be taken
5 Then I Daniel looked, and, away, and the abomination that behold, there stood other two, maketh desolate set up, there the one on this side of the bank shall be a thousand two hundred of the river, and the other on that and ninety days. side of the bank of the river. 12 Blessed is he that waiteth,
6 And one said to the man and cometh to the thousand clothed in linen, which was upon three hundred and five and thirty the waters of the river, How days. long shall it be to the end of 13 But go thou thy way till the these wonders ?
end be: for thou shalt rest, and 7 And I heard the man clothed stand in thy lot at the end of the in linen, which was upon the days.
LECTURE 1387. Of waiting patiently for the fulfilment of God's sure word. The vision, which has occupied the two preceding chapters, is here continued, and concluded. We must therefore bear in mind, that it is an angelic being who is here speaking, on purpose that Daniel may understand the things concerning his people, revealed in the “scripture of truth ;" that is to say, in the visions which he had formerly written down. See ch. 10. 14, 21. Let us lift up our hearts in prayer to God, that we also may be helped hereby, in understanding, if it be his gracious will, the wonderful things here recorded. The words are indeed said to be closed up and sealed till the time of the end.” But being written in God's book, they are doubtless written for our learning. Some profit we at any time may derive from the study of them. And who shall say, that we are not now so nigh unto the time of the end, as that the words may be beginning to open, and the seal may be about to be broken ? And to whom will the vision be first made manifest, for their comfort and joy in the Lord, if not to those, who study it with attention the most diligent, and at the same time with humility and reverence the most deep ?
It is evident that the events mentioned in this chapter are as yet future. We can therefore only state it as a probable conjecture, that the children of Israel will yet experience some signal deliverance, as many of them as are İsraelites indeed, as many as shall then become Christians. In like manner we here see reason to expect, that at the same time there will be a season of such tribulation as was never before experienced on the earth. After this we find a reference to the resurrection of the dead, implying the resurrection of the body, as well as the immortality of the soul, and clearly distinguishing between the end of the ungodly, and the blessedness of them that are wise unto salvation, and especially of such as glorify God by turning others unto righteousness. And we have also here set down two marks or characters of the time of the end, the time until the arrival whereof these words are to be closed, this book sealed, namely, that “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." Surely there is much in our own times, at least in our own land and in some others, corresponding with this description. Surely when we consider the nature of both these characters, we shall expect, that they will spread rapidly from land to land, even unto the ends of the earth. And surely also we have seen enough of the fruits which come of knowledge without religion, and of activity uninfluenced by piety, to be aware that a time of unparalleled trouble is likely to be nigh at hand.
But if with Daniel we inquire, “what shall be the end of these things?” though we are certainly much nearer than he was to the time, we shall find ourselves as yet unable to attain any certainty in the matter. Before indeed he asked the question, it had been very solemnly announced, that the end of all is unalterably fixt; and the period had been expressed in the language used in one of the previous visions, and there supposed to signify twelve hundred and sixty years. See ch. 7. 25. Two other longer periods are also here mentioned, all three probably dating from the same commencement. But which is the true commencement of these periods seems at present to be a thing hidden from our eyes. For when the time, times, and an half” are spoken of, nothing at all is said of their commencement. And though the “ thousand two hundred and ninety days," or years, are to run “from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up," these expressions appear to be of a general nature, applicable to several events of a like kind, and we have no means of deciding which of them is here meant. Only there seems most reason to suppose, that they refer to the great falling away which took place nearly at the same time both in the eastern and the western churches; Mahomet having overrun the east, just as the popedom was assuming its distinctive character as an idolatrous and persecuting power in the west.
But leaving that which we can only dimly conjecture, let us in conclusion fix our thoughts on that which is infallibly sure. Whenever the times here spoken of arrive, “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried.” God be praised for this promised fruit of that terrible tribulation which is coming on the earth! “ But the wicked shall do wickedly.”. Let us not then be disheartened to find iniquity abounding. It is no more than God has foreseen, and forewarned us of. “And none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” No wonder then that the worldly minded give no heed to the words of prophecy, and deride the study of these mystic pages. No wonder that the heavenly minded persist in the endeavour to discover what it is that God would have them hence to learn. “ Blessed is he that waiteth;" yes, though he should not live up to the period here mentioned, blessed is he who not only studies prophecy diligently, but also waits for its fulfilment patiently, * But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.” Such were the concluding words addressed to the prophet. Such is the consolatory assurance which through faith we may take unto ourselves. When we have done our best to understand that which here is written, and to learn from it the lessons of improvement here designed, we may go our way, and rest in peace; assured, that whensoever the end shall come, and through whatsoever events it may be brought to pass, nothing but our own wilful falling away can prevent our enjoyment of the glory that shall be then revealed. God's promise will not fail. His word will surely be accomplished. Christ's kingdom will surely be established, in manifest supremacy over all. And they who now serve Him stedfastly to the end, will then reign with Him joyfully for ever.
Hosea declareth the time of his prophesying. 1 The word of the LORD that Ahaz,and Hezekiah, kings of Jucame unto Hosea the son of Beeri, dah, and in the days of Jeroboam in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, the son of Joash, king of Israel.
LECTURE 1388. The wicked, if prosperous, have the more to lose in the end. The twelve minor prophets, as we commonly call them because their books lie in a small compass, used to be counted as one book of Scripture, which is referred to by St. Stephen as “the book of the prophets.” Acts 7. 42. And so we find them all spoken of together in the apocryphal book of Ecclesiasticus ; where, after distinct mention of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, the writer proceeds thus : “ And of the twelve prophets let the memorial be blessed.” Ecclus. 49. 10. We must remember however that these books were written by different persons, who lived at different periods of time. The earliest of all undoubtedly was Jonah. Of the rest it is not easy to adjust the order, which would vary according as we reckon from the time when they began to prophesy, or from the time when they ceased. Generally speaking we may consider, that excepting Jonah, they lived in the order in which their writings stand in our Bibles.
The time of Hosea extends through a long period. He here mentions four successive kings of Judah, during whose days, or at least a part of them, he was charged with these revelations from the Lord. When we consider in how small a compass all bis writings are comprised, we shall not wonder that they are frequently obscure, owing to the brief and concise style in which they are expressed. For the better understanding his prophecies it will be needful to bear in mind the history of the times in which he lived. It was to the kingdom of Israel that he chiefly addressed himself, long after that kingdom had been severed from the kingdom of Judah. It was “in the days of Jeroboam," the second king of Israel so named; a king whose reign was marked, as the prophet Jonah had foretold, by a season of considerable prosperity, after many years of disaster and distress. See 2 Kings 14. 24—27. But though God was pleased to make this king the means of deliverance to the Israelites, the king bimself nevertheless did evil in the sight of the Lord. And so doubtless did many of his people with him. The sin of the former Jeroboam was still practised. The sinful worship of the calves at Bethel and at Dan was still upheld. And therefore in the midst of their prosperity the voice of Hosea is heard to warn them that the day of their rejection is at hand. May we listen to his warnings with attention ! And especially in the hour of prosperity, if our hearts are inclined to be lifted up, may we bear in mind, that unless we cleave unto the Lord, all we enjoy at present will only add to the pain and shame of the fall awaiting us hereafter !