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THE VISION OF THE IMAGE.
Daniel, chap. ii. 31-45.
It is expressly stated that this Vision was given to King Nebuchadnezzar, to make known unto him what should be “in the latter days.” v. 28.
It is explained that the King himself was symbolized by the head of gold (v. 38), and that the other parts of the Image prefigured three other Kingdoms, not then in existence, but to arise successively in future time.
There is therefore, I believe, no dispute that the first of the four Empires was the BABYLONIAN; but whether the other three were, as is commonly supposed, the MEDO-PERSIAN, the GRECIAN, and the ROMAN may be questioned. For myself, I do not know how to answer the arguments of Lacunza on this point. They may perhaps be briefly stated thus;
(1.) The Babylonian Empire was not destroyed, or essentially altered, by the fact that Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian, shook off the yoke of Belshazzar, and obtained possession of the capital. Daniel says “In that night was Belshazzar the King of the Chaldæans slain, and Darius the Mede took the Kingdom. Lacunza suggests that when Charles II. King of Spain of the House of Austria died, Philip V. of France of the House of Bourbon, succeeded him in the kingdom; and he asks, in what Kingdom ? none other than that same Kingdom of Spain. And as Philip V.
ARGUMENT OF LACUNZA ON
coming to the throne of Spain, founded no new Kingdom, but only ruled that of his predecessor, so Darius, coming to the throne of the Kingdom of Babylon, ruled that empire which had been ruled by Belshazzar'. The same may be said of the Kingdom of France under Corsican sway, and even more strongly of our own country. William the Conqueror did not sit on the throne of a Norman Kingdom, nor James of a Scotch one, nor William of a Dutch one; but all and each sat on the throne, and ruled the continuous Kingdom, of England. In like manner Darius, taking the Kingdom, became King of the Chaldæans as Belshazzar had been; and so Daniel actually calls him—“ Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made King over the realm of the Chaldæans.” (ch. ix. 1.)
Babylon was not destroyed or degraded: on the contrary, Darius, Cyrus, and their successors, continued it as the seat of government. Even an hundred years after the death of Cyrus, Nehemiah was cup-bearer to one of his successors whom he simply designates “the King of Babylon ?." The Babylonian empire therefore still existed ; and even the subsequent removal of the seat of government to Persia, which was one of its provinces, did not destroy its existence, or its identity.
(2.) If we make the second empire that of Persia beginning with Cyrus, it did not in fact answer the terms of the prediction, which announced that the second Kingdom should be inferior to the first. This
1 Vol. I. P. ii. p. 15. Eng. Tr, i. 137.
2 Nehem. xiii. 6.
Persian empire never was less, but was always equal to, or greater than, the Kingdom of the Chaldæans founded by Nebuchadnezzar.
(3.) If, on the strength of these considerations, we view what have been distinguished as the BABYLONIAN and MEDO-PERSIAN as forming only successive portions of one empire, the GRECIAN empire founded by Alexander will come to be the second. And so situated it seems more in its place.; for it does answer that characteristic, which (as has been remarked) the MedoPersian empire did not—namely, of inferiority to its predecessor -- while it does not answer
does not answer that very peculiar mark of the third — in whose place it has hitherto stood—namely, of universal dominion-it shall “ bear rule over all the earth.” (ch. ii. 29.)
(4.) This characteristic of universal sovereignty which does not suit the Grecian, is more suitable to the Roman Empire, than to any other.
This is I believe a fair though brief sketch of the arguments by which Lacunza endeavours to shew that the three first Kingdoms are the Babylonian, Grecian, and Roman. I must, however, add another argument 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 (whatever it may be) 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.) I suppose it will be admitted that the Ancient of Days has not yet come; and that
the time has gone by when the Roman Empire can be said to exist even in the interpretations of prophecy. History tells us that it has long since passed through its decline and fall to absolute extinction.
I fully agree therefore with Lacunza in the opinion that the Roman Empire is not the fourth empire of Daniel; and (as I have already said) I do not know how to answer his arguments respecting the three prior ones; though I am not undertaking to defend all that is contained in them, or deducible from his statements on the subject.
And if the Roman Empire is not, what is the fourth? Lacunza answers, that it began to be formed in the fifth century by the irruption of the barbarians, and is in short) Europe in the divided state in which it has been from that period and still continues to be. It seems to be a sufficient answer to say, that Europe in its present state cannot be the fourth Kingdom, simply because it is no Kingdom at all. Nothing but the exigency of system could make any interpreter propose such a thing
What then? are we bound to suppose that the fourth Kingdom has as yet come into existence? I think not. On the contrary, it seems to me to be clearly predicted that Antichrist shall set up a Kingdom, answering more exactly to the predictions of the fourth Empire, than either the Roman, or the fanciful one of divided Europe, can be made to do. This will, I hope, appear in the sequel. In the mean time let us observe 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 three subsequent Visions.
(1.) It is declared that there should be three other King
doms after that of Nebuchadnezzar. ii. 39, 40. (2.) The specific object being to give the King information
respecting what should “ be in the latter days” (ii. 28, 29. 45), the second and third, or intermediate, Kingdoms are passed over with the very brief, though important statements that the former should be inferior to that which preceded it, and the latter should bear
rule over all the earth. ii. 39. (3.) The fourth Kingdom, being that which has to do with
the period to which the vision refers, is more particularly described.
We seem to learn that at first it shall be strong, undivided, despotic, and destructive; but that at a later period it shall be “divided” (ii. 40, 41); and though the nature of this division is not explained, it seems to be implied in the declaration of what should happen“ in the days of those Kings" (v. 44), when no
Kings had been expressly mentioned. (4.) It is stated that “they”-and it appears as if these
Kings must be meant—“shall mingle themselves with the seed of men, but they shall not cleave one to
another." v. 43. (5.) That in the days of those Kings, the God of Heaven
will set up a Kingdom which shall break in pieces and consume all others and stand for ever.