« PoprzedniaDalej »
'Pluribus persuasio inerat, antiquis sacerdotum literis contineri, eo ipso tempore fore, ut vale'sceret oriens, profectique Judea rerum potirentur. 'A persuasion was in most men of its being con'tained in the ancient writings of the priests, that ' at that very time it would be, that the east would 'become strong, and that persons coming out of 'Judea, would obtain the dominion.' (Tacitus.) It seems, that Vespasian, the Roman general in the east, who exercised authority in Judea, availed himself of this opinion, in his successful attempt to mount the imperial throne. The expected Messiah, at that very time, was to the Jews O' Epxóuevos, "He who cometh;" and the false Ο Ερχόμενος, Christs, or Messiahs, who began to arise about the same time, one after another, furnish a clear proof that, according to the computation of the ancient Jews, the predicted time for the appearing of the Messiah was arrived. The flatterers of Herod the Tetrarch are said to have considered him as the Messiah, and, as some suppose, they were on that account called Herodians.-Virgil has his Pollio, taken from the Sybilline books, which were manifestly derived from the prophecies of scripture concerning the Messiah; and all was either silent expectation,' or turbulent expectation, from a short time before the days of Jesus to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. Yet after so many revolving centuries no Messiah appears, unless Jesus was He! Various have been the devices of the Jews, to account for this delay; which only shews the perplexity to which it reduces them. Mr. C. says, that the end of any thing may be shortened.' (P. 67. 1. 12.)
Some have thought that it might also be lengthened, and that 1800 years of delay, have been appointed as the punishment of their sins. But where do we find in scripture, that God either lengthens or shortens the term expressly marked out in any prediction? The deluge came, to a day, at the time previously appointed: Israel was rescued from Egypt on the very day before revealed to Abraham: and, the predicted seventy years of the Babylonish captivity being finished, the Jews were liberated and restored by the decree of Cyrus. All such evasions, therefore, are wholly inadmissible.
Mr. C. has repeatedly said, that Daniel's prophecy of seventy weeks is that which we rely on;' and that we have nothing else upon which we can rely.' But, in fact, I think it has been fully proved from the Old Testament, that the time fixed in prophecy for the coming of the Messiah has long since elapsed; and that the point is incontrovertible, apart from the existence of that prophecy. I must not, however, close this part of our subject, without calling the reader's attention to it: though the nature of this publication excludes that adequate consideration of it, which is requisite, in order to give the demonstration contained in it the full prominency to which it is entitled.
The solemn introduction to this extraordinary prediction, consisting of Daniel's fasting, and most fervent prayer for his people; and the Lord's sending to him the angel Gabriel, to assure him that his prayer was heard; and that he was "greatly beloved;" with the design on which
Gabriel came, to cause him to "understand the "matter and consider the vision: all these things combine to shew that events of no ordinary importance were about to be revealed.
The general term of seventy weeks is dated in Daniel, not from the destruction of the first temple, as Mr. C. repeatedly states; (p. 88. 1. 21-23. p. 88. 1. 21, 22;) but " from the going "forth of the commandment to restore and to "build Jerusalem." This should be particularly noticed and it hence becomes needful to inquire, What decree, or commandment, noticed in scripture, is that referred to in the prophecy? for they were all future when Gabriel spoke to Daniel. The decree of Cyrus related merely to the rebuilding of the temple. That of Darius only confirmed and explained that decree. 2 The commission given by Artaxerxes to Ezra did not indeed directly contain any thing about restoring and building Jerusalem. 3 But the commission granted to Nehemiah, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, was expressly a commandment to "restore and to build Jerusalem." So he understood it; and accordingly he rebuilded the walls, and provided for the fortification and replenishing of the city, and defending it against invaders, with the greatest earnestness; not at all intimidated by the reports which were spread concerning his designs. 4 These considerations have induced some learned men to date the seventy weeks, from Artaxerxes's commission to Nehemiah; but
'Ezra i. 1-4.
' Ezra vii.
2 Ezra vi.
4 Neh. ii. iv. vi.
the chronology does not easily admit of it. The commission indeed to Ezra was not explicit about the rebuilding of the city and its walls: yet the expressions used in Daniel may be understood figuratively, and include the resettling of the whole estate of the Jews, civil and ecclesiastical, which was begun by Ezra, and carried on and completed by Nehemiah. It is therefore, at present, the general opinion of learned men, that the decree spoken of to Daniel by Gabriel is that granted by Artaxerxes to Ezra, in the seventh year of his reign. This commission to Ezra, whence the seventy weeks should be dated, was granted about four hundred and fifty-seven years before the Christian era. The "seventy weeks" are divided into three parts; "seven weeks," "sixty"two weeks," and "one week." The first seven weeks, or forty-nine years, are generally allotted for the execution of the decree "to restore and to "build Jerusalem:" and in about that time, the walls and fortifications of Jerusalem were completed; her streets and houses rebuilded; and the city replenished with inhabitants, as in ancient times. This leads us to four hundred and eight years before the Christian era; but this era commences, as it is generally agreed, four years after the birth of Jesus. "Sixty-two weeks," from this time, brings the calculation to A. D. 26, or the thirtieth year of our Lord's age. It is immaterial in this argument, whether the words, "The street "shall be built again, and the wall, even in "troublous times," be connected with the "seven "weeks," during which that work was performed; or with the " sixty-two weeks," during which
Jerusalem, amidst turbulent times, and various revolutions, continued a fortified city, previously to the entrance of our Lord on his public ministry; which seems to have taken place, exactly at the end of the sixty-two weeks, when he was thirty years of age. Minute exactness is not requisite in such computations, and learned men, who agree in the grand outline, vary a little in subordinate matters; but this was at least nearly the case. The continuance of our Lord's ministry, till his crucifixion, is likewise differently computed but, on every computation, he was crucified during the continuance of the "last week," and after the end of the "sixty and two "weeks.”—The longer the part of the time is which we allot to his ministry, the less remains for those events which took place soon after his resurrection. Some compute that he expired on the cross in the last year of the seventy weeks; and some, that it was in the middle of the seventieth week; induced by the clause " in the midst "of the week, he shall cause the sacrifice and " oblation to cease:" but whether this, " He shall "confirm the covenant with many for one week," be understood of the term of John the Baptist's ministry, and afterwards of our Lord's till his death; or whether it take in the first successes of the gospel, after his resurrection, we come nearly to the same point: and as near, as the purposed obscurity of prediction; previously to its completion, allows us to expect.
Mr. C. indeed thinks it, and probably the Jews
1 Luke iii. 23.