« PreviousContinue »
II. THE VISION OF THE FOUR BEASTS.
Daniel, chap. viii.
The four Beasts in this vision have been very commonly supposed to correspond with the four parts of the IMAGE which was seen by Nebuchadnezzar. On this point however, I have some doubt, but I suggest it only as a doubt. It is indeed declared that the fourth Beast is the fourth kingdom upon earth, (v. 23.) and therefore the same that was prefigured by the feet and toes of the Image; but I do not know that it necessarily follows, that the first, second, and third Beasts, must respectively represent the gold, the sil. ver, and the brazen parts of the Image. There seems to be nothing in the language of the prophecy which absolutely requires us to understand that the four empires should succeed each other, though the prophet could only describe the symbols in succession.
The symbols appear to have arisen simultaneously; and though this is no proof that the kingdoms also should arise simultaneously, yet it obviously allows the idea ; and that idea is not in this case (as in that of the Image) contradicted by the interpretation of the vision. Perhaps, too, there is a difference between the fate of the three kingdoms symbolized by the upper parts of the Image, and that of those which are prefigured by the first three beasts; the former seem to be involved in one common overthrow, amounting to absolute extinction with the fourth empire—“then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors, and the wind carried them away that no place was found for them,” ch. ii. 35.—the latter, appear to survive the fourth empire, and when the fourth beast is slain, it is added " as concerning the rest of the beasts they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time" (ch. vii. 12.). I do not know that these circumstances warrant our considering the
three first beasts as symbolizing powers different from those which have been before symbolized by the parts of the Image; but I mention them, because all the attempts which I have seen, to explain the description of these three beasts, are so unsatisfactory, as to lead to a suspicion that the symbols are not yet rightly understood; and it does not seem to me impossible, that they may refer to three kingdoms, contemporary with the fourth, which is evidently the great subject of the vision. Here (as in the vision of the Image) a more full description is given of the fourth kingdom, than of either of the others; of this one only, Daniel enquired particularly (v. 19), and of this one only, he received a detailed account; and this fourth kingdom is evidently the same as the fourth kingdom of the vision of the Image.
The new particulars respecting it given by this vision are as follows(1.) That it should be in some remarkable way
verse”' from the others. v. 7, 19, 23. (2.) Whereas, it was before stated, that the fourth
empire should be divided, and as it would seem among kings, it is here expressly stated, that it shall be di. vided among ten king's (v. 24); whom we may sup
pose to have been prefigured by the toes of the Image. (3.) That among these ten kings, an eleventh shall
arise, diverse from the rest, and subdue three of them.
V. 24. (4.) That this eleventh king shall blaspheme God, and
so bring on the ruin of the empire. v. 25. (5.) That the saints shall be delivered into his hands,
and worn out by him, during a time, times, and the
dividing of a time. (6.) That his dominion shall be taken away by the
Ancient of Days coming to judgment. v. 9, 10, 11,
21, 22, 26. (7.) That on the destruction of the empire, symbolized
by the fourth beast, the greatness of the kingdom, under the whole heaven, shall be given to the
saints of the Most High. v. 26. (8.) That the head of this new empire shall be the Son
of Man. v. 13, 14. (9.) That while this fourth beast is slain, the other
three shall be prolonged in existence, without domi. nion, for a season and a time.
III. THE VISION OF THE RAM AND HE-GOAT.
Daniel, chap. viii.
In this vision only, two beasts were seen; and it is distinctly stated, that they symbolized the kings of Media and Persia, and the king of Grecia. From amidst the four horns of the goat, there arose a little horn, whom I believe to have prefigured the same person as that symbolized by the little horn in the vision of the four beasts :
(1.) Because the period of the little horn seems to be
the same as that of the former. It is particularly stated, that the events predicted in this vision shall be at the “ time of the end" (v. 17); or, as it is expressed (v. 23), “when the transgressors are come to the full;" or, as (v. 19) at the “last end of the indignation.” Such expressions can hardly relate, I think, to any period prior to the transgressions of the little horn of the preceding vision, or the “indig.
nation” which destroys him. (2.) The same blasphemous conduct, and persecution
of the saints, is ascribed to him, as to the little huru of the fourth beast.
(3.) Whereas, it was predicted, that the dominion of
the fourth empire should be taken away, by the coming of the Ancient of Days to judgment, it is here predicted, that this little horn shall “ stand up against the Prince of Princes, and be broken without hand." v. 25.
On these grounds, I suppose that the little horn of this vision, is the same person as had been prefigured by the little horn of the fourth beast; or, in other words, I sup. pose this vision to be a farther developement of Antichrist, and to contain the following particulars, which were not before revealed :
(1.) That this person, or power, shall arise out of one
of the four kingdoms, into which the empire of Alexander should be divided. v. 9—the transition to
the time of the end (v. 19) being made at v. 23. (2.) He is more particularly described "a king of
fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences ;” and, as one whose “power shall be mighty, but not by his own power," and who shall cause craft to prosper in his hand, through his policy," and “destroy many by peace." v. 22, 23.
(3.) It is declared, that he shall take away the daily
sacrifice. (4.) That the duration of the period prefigured by the
vision, as measured from the taking away of the daily sacrifice to the cleansing of the sanctuary, shall be two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings.
IV. THE VISION CONCERNING THE
Daniel, chap. x. xi. xii.
This vision of an Angel, who came to shew to Daniel that which was noted in the Scripture of truth, was not attended with symbolical representation. It is prophetic history; and, if I mistake not, it consists principally of the history of the same person who was symbolized by the little horn in the preceding visions. This will, perhaps, appear most clearly, if we compare some of the accounts which are given of them, respectively, in the vii. viii. and xi. chapters.