An Inquiry into the Prophetic Numbers which are Contained in the 1335 Days, Mentioned at the End of Daniel’s Prophecy.
”The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”—Mark i. 15.
In some Scripture predictions, God has condescended to reveal both the events that shall come to pass, and the time at which they shall be accomplished. This he has done with respect to the wandering and suffering condition of Abraham and his posterity, from the time of the Patriarch’s departure from Haran, till the time of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, Gen. xv. 13, Exod. xii. 40, 41. This method is taken, with respect to the Jews captivity in Babylon, Jer. xxv. 11, 12. It pleased the Lord, concerning that most important of all events, the death of Christ, to do the same thing. “And after three-score and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself,” Dan. ix. 26. In those predictions which relate to the rise and fall of Antichrist, and to the church’s sufferings under that power, and to her deliverance from it, the character and conduct of the former, and the condition and actings of the latter are described, and the duration of both the one and the other is also distinctly marked. If we had a certain knowledge of the time, at which these events began, it would be very easy to fix the season at which they shall terminate. But, in the dispensations of his wise and holy providence, God, whose way is in the sea, and his path in the mighty waters, and his footsteps are not known, has so ordered events, at the beginning of that time, as casts a veil of darkness over it; in consequence of which considerable uncertainty about it rests on the minds of men, and different opinions have been held by those who have investigated it. Since the prophetic numbers are revealed, and the principal occurrences are on record, it is the church’s duty to search after the knowledge of the time, when her greatest earthly enemy shall fall, and when she shall enjoy her promised felicity. With the deepest humility, with the most profound reverence, and with the strongest dependence on Divine direction, should imperfect and erring man engage in searching into the mysteries of the word and providence of the Most High God. Desiring these dispositions, though not possessing them in any high degree, let us now proceed to consider the
IV. Branch of this subject.—To make some remarks concerning Daniel and John’s prophetic numbers, which are contained in the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days, mentioned at the end of Daniel’s prophecy.
1. The 1335 days are Daniel’s gross number, which has a respect to the church’s low condition, and to the reign and tyranny of the Antichristian horn. It is mentioned Dan. xii. 12, “Blessed is he that waiteth and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.” In this number there are three other numbers included, and they are brought before us in this chapter. The first of them is mentioned in verse 7; “That it shall be for a time, times, and an half.” This number, as will afterwards be proved, contains three years and half a year, or 1260 days. The second of these numbers is stated in verse 11. “There shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.” In this number there is an addition of 30 days made to 1260 days. Those 30 days constitute Daniel’s second number. The third number is discovered by what is said in the 12 verse. “ Blessed is he that waiteth and conieth to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days. From this it is evident, that 45 days are added to the 1290 days which raise that number to 1335 days. The period of 45 days forms Daniel’s third number. This is Daniel’s statement of the times which represent Antichrist’s rise and ruin, and the church’s sufferings and deliverance. First 1260 days, then 30 days, and afterwards 45 days, making in all 1335 days. This gross, or general number contains the period, which Daniel’s predictions contemplate, and they will not be completely fulfilled till the 1335 days expire. Daniel’s three particular numbers, being the component parts of his gross number, are entirely successive, and each of them shall begin at the day when the number before it did end. The only number mentioned by John, in the book of his Revelations, relating to the continuance of Antichrist’s power, and to the sufferings of the church is the 1260 days, which corresponds exactly, in duration with Daniel’s first number. These are the numbers which we are now to consider.
2. The 1260 days are twice mentioned by Daniel, and he states this number in the same form of words. In chap, vii. 25, it is, “ A time, and times, and the dividing of time.” In chap. xii. 7, it is, “ A time, times, and an half.” This number is once mentioned by John, in the same way, In Rev. xii. 14, it is, “ A time, and times, and half a time.” John also states this number in two other forms, and twice in each of them. We have the following account of it. Rev. xi. 2, “ And the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.” And again, chap. xiii. 5, “ And power was given to him to continue forty and two months.” The third form in which John represents this number, is found, chap. xi. 3. “ And they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three-score days, clothed in sackcloth.” He also represents it in the same way, chap. xii. 6. “That they should feed her there, a thousand two hundred and three-score days.” Those different representations describe a number of the same duration. The time, and times and an half, signify one year, two years, and half a year; or three years and a half. This number contains exactly forty and two months; and, allowing thirty days to each month, according to the Jewish manner of calculating time, both the three years and an half, and the forty two months contain exactly one thousand two hundred and sixty days. The beautiful harmony of those descriptions of this number establishes the truth of this explanation of them, and shows that they describe a period of the same duration. This will also appear from the events which are predicted to happen under all those descriptions of this time. That the time, and times, and half a time, of John, are the same with his one thousand two hundred and three-score days, is confirmed by Rev. xii. 6, 14. In verse 6, it is said, “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there, a thousand two hundred and three-score days,” In verse 14, it is said, “And to the woman were given the wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.” Since the church’s low condition, in her wilderness state, and God’s care of her there, are represented both by the 1260 days, and the time, and times, and half a time; we must therefore conclude that those two representations must describe the same portion of time. The time, and times, and an half, mentioned by Daniel, signify in general, the same time that is mentioned by John’s forty and two months; because, the former describes the season in which the church is given up to the little horn of the Roman beast, and the latter signifies the period during which the Gentiles shall tread under foot the holy city, and when the beast, which is the head of those Gentiles, shall have power to continue in his blasphemy, persecution and war. As the sufferings of the church under the little horn, are the same with the witnesses prophesying in sackcloth, and the woman’s remaining in the wilderness, both of which is for 1260 days, this period must in general coincide with Daniel’s three years, and a half. From this agreement in their signification, the similarity of the meaning of these representations of this number is satisfactorily demonstrated.
3. Each of the days, which is contained in the number of 1260, and in the additional numbers of 30 and 45, is the prophetic symbol for one year. According to this view of the first number the time of the beast’s war with the church, and of her depressed state must continue for the long season of 1260 years. Besides, there are two other numbers, which must be added to Daniel’s 1260 years, one of 30, and another of 45 days, which must expire before the church’s happy condition will begin. The 30 days must also signify 30 years, and the 45 days must represent 45 years; and these, being added together, form Daniel’s gross number, of one thousand three hundred and five and thirty years. From the nature of the predicted events, this method of reckoning the prophetic numbers, is necessary. Since the predictions will not apply to the providences, unless this method is observed; it plainly proves, that this was the design of the Spirit of prophecy, in making those revelations to men.—Besides, this application of a day for a year, is of Divine institution. To the Prophet Ezekiel the Lord said, “ I have appointed thee, each day for a year,” Chap. iv. 6. The same thing is intimated by the Lord’s word to Israel, Num. xiv. 34. “ After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, and ye shall know my breach of promise.” As the writers on prophecy, are agreed in this view of the numbers, and as Christians, who exercise themselves on those subjects, are understood to be of the same opinion, further discussion on it is unnecessary.
4. Distinct and important events, which will be most conspicuous accomplishments of Scripture predictions, will commence at the expiration of each of Daniel’s three numbers, which are contained in his 1335 years. The sitting of the judgment will begin at the expiration of his time, and times, and half a time, or his 1260 years. In Dan. vii. 25 we are assured, that, “the saints shall be given into the hand of the Antichristian horn, until a time, and times, and the dividing of time.” Again, in ver. 21, 22, it is said, “I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High.” From these texts, it is ascertained, beyond the possibility of a doubt, that Anti-christ’s domineering power over the church will continue till the end of Daniel’s 1260 years; and that his war with the saints, and his prevalence over them are terminated, at the coming of the Ancient of days, and when the judgment shall begin to sit. These two events must happen together, at the end of Daniel’s time, and times, and the dividing of time. His successful war with the church must cease, and the judgment to take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it to the end, must begin, when Daniel’s 1260 days, or years, expire. The prophetic symbol by which the Prophet is directed to represent Antichrist’s destruction, is that of a judge sitting on the judicial trial of a great state criminal. As among men, a capital criminal is rendered incapable of reacting his crime, is suffered to live, and is permitted to defend himself, while the judgment is sitting on him; so the Antichristian beast while the judgment sits on him, shall be restrained, shall be permitted to exist, and shall be allowed to act in his own defence, till the judgment is finished, and the sentence is executed on him. The sounding of the seventh trumpet, and the coming of the third wo, in John’s predictions, are the same with the sitting of the judgment, in those of Daniel. These are mentioned, Rev. xi. 14, 15, “The second wo is past, and behold the third wo cometh quickly. And the seventh angel sounded.” The seventh trumpet introduces the seven vials, and the third wo comprehends all the seven last plagues which are contained in the seven golden vials, full of the wrath of God. It follows then that the sitting of judgment, to destroy the dominion of Antichrist, will commence; and the effusion of the seven vials on the Roman earth will begin, at the expiration of Daniel’s 1260 years. The effects produced by the sitting of the judgment, in Daniel’s prophecy, are the destruction of the Roman beast, and his little horn; and the saints possessing the kingdom. The effects produced by the effusion of the vials are the division of the Antichristian city into three parts; the fall of the cities of the nations, and great Babylon’s drinking the cup of the wine of the fierceness of the wrath of God; and the introduction and establishment on the earth of the millennial song, the marriage of the Lamb, and his marriage supper. From this it appears, that the sitting of the judgment in Daniel’s prophecy, and the effusion of the vials in the visions of John, relate to the same transactions, shall be fulfilled at the same time, and will produce the same glorious results.
That public and solemn transaction which will commence at the expiration of the 30 years, or, counting from the beginning of the time, as Daniel does, the 1290 years, must now be considered. It is the opinion of some writers on prophecy, that those 30 years are the time in which the vials of Divine wrath shall be poured on the earth. As those years belong to the season when the judgment shall sit, they must be a part of that time, which is appointed for the effusion of the vials; but that those judgments of God on his enemies shall terminate, when these years expire, is more than we are warranted to assert. Let us attend to the Prophet’s words, in which this number is mentioned. “And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days;” these words very plainly describe what shall be done, at the commencement of the 1290 years, and characterise the time, from which they are to be dated. When the Christian religion, in the purity of its doctrine, worship, and administrations, shall be suspended; and when the Antichristian abomination, which spreads dessolation over the church, shall be established; at that fatal time these 1290 years begin. In the text, however, nothing is said concerning the event which shall happen at their termination. As nothing is said of this number in any other part of Scripture, we must either remain ignorant of the event which will be brought to pass at its conclusion, or fix it by mere conjecture, or endeavour to come at the knowledge of it from the preceding context. While we, in considering prophecy, should avoid all conjectures, and be willing to remain ignorant, when God is pleased to withhold information; yet we are warranted to employ the light, which the prophecy in general spreads around us, for explaining any of its parts. If we look into the foregoing part of this chapter, Daniel xii. we will find that the deliverance of the Jews is mentioned once and again, as a special object, concerning which Daniel received information. We may, on that account, consider it as the event which will commence, at the expiration of the 1290 years In this view of the matter, the eleventh verse may be supplied from the first and seventh verses, in the following way. And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, till the time that thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book, and the time when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days, or years. We cannot conclude on this with absolute certainty, but from this connexion of things, we have some reason to hope, that at the expiration of Daniel’s 1290 years, 30 years after the judgment begins to sit, and the vials begin to be poured out, the conversion, and the restoration of the Jews to their own land, will have a conspicuous commencement.
We have no reason to doubt of that glorious transaction, which shall be accomplished among men, at the expiration of Daniel’s number of 45 years, or counting from the beginning of this time, his 1335 years. The words of Daniel, where this number is mentioned, sufficiently explain it. “ Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days,” or years, ver. 12. The period of great blessedness shall then be introduced. It is not the blessedness of believers in general, which Daniel records in this verse. All those who wait in faith, though they should not come to the 1335 years, are blessed; yea, and they shall be blessed. But it is the peculiar blessedness of those who wait and come to the 1335 days, that Daniel’s vision describes. The blessedness of the millennial season, the glory of the millennial church, and the felicity of the millennial saints are here declared. By this part of the vision, Daniel’s question, what shall be the end of these things? is fully answered. This is the same with that which is mentioned in Rev. xix. 9. “And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb : And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.” Then shall the church completely emerge from the wilderness, put off her sackcloth, and finish her witnessing prophecy. Then shall she celebrate her millennial song, partake of the marriage supper, and begin her reign with Christ a thousand years. Then shall the church be entirely delivered from the great words, the war, and the dominion of the Roman beast, and his little horn. “And then shall the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven be given to the people of the saints of the Most High.”
5. From this view of Daniel’s numbers, and the transactions that will begin at the expiration of each of them, we may be positively assured, that the judgment will begin to sit, or in the Prophet’s words, the judgment shall be set, and the books opened, at the expiration of his first number, 1260 years. This shall also be the time when that great voice shall be uttered from heaven; “saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.” That at the expiration of his second number of 30 years, which being added to 1260, makes up his 1290 years, we have some reason to hope, that Israel’s deliverance will begin. And at the expiration of his third number, of 45 years, which, being added to the other numbers, makes 1335 years, we are assured the glorious season of the church’s purity and rest, shall take its auspicious commencement. The Prophet’s words warrant us to believe, that the hist year of the 45 years, or, which is the same, the last year of the 1335 years, will be the first year of the blessed millennium. It cannot begin sooner; for the church is not blessed till she wait and come to that year: It cannot be delayed till a following year; for when that year shall arrive, her blessedness shall begin. If we add Daniel’s two last numbers together, 30 and 45, we will have 75 years. As the last of those years belongs to the millennium it must be taken from that number which will leave the number of 74 years. This is the time during which the judgment shall sit on the little horn, and the vials shall be poured out on the Roman earth. These, we are certain, will commence, when Daniel’s 1260 years shall expire, on the first year of the thirty years, or which is the same thing, on the first year of the 74 years. As there is no interval between the complete destruction of the little horn with the Roman beast, and the saints possessing the kingdom; as there is no interval between the final ruin of Antichrist with the lamentations of the kings, of the merchants, and the sailors over it, and the church’s millennial song, but the latter is represented, both by Daniel and John, as immediately succeeding; the former; the final sitting of the judgment, the last drop of the vials, the decisive stroke of the armageddon war, or the consummating effect of all the three, shall take place in the 74th year, or, calculating from the beginning of the times, which is the very same thing, in the 1334th year. This work of judgment being finished, the glorious millennium shall begin in the 75th year, or in the 1335th year, according to the infallible declaration of the Spirit of prophecy, speaking in Daniel, “Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.” These conclusions are deduced with confidence, and reasonable contradiction seems to be impossible.
6. Different dates have been assigned for the commencement, and the termination of the 1260 years. On this important matter, writers on prophecy have not agreed. There were different times of the Jews captivity to Babylon, and as many corresponding periods of their return. As Babylon was a type of Antichrist, and the sufferings of the Jews in Chaldea, prefigured the church’s low state under popery; it is not unreasonable to suppose, that something of the same kind may be found in the church’s liberation from Babylon the great. As there was one principal captivity to Babylon, and one most general and public return, in which Jeremiah’s predictions were visibly fulfilled; so there must be one period for Antichrist’s rise, and a corresponding one for his fall, at the former of which the church is brought into bondage, and at the latter she obtains deliverance, in which the predictions of Daniel and John shall have their principal and most conspicuous accomplishment. There was about the space of 1260 years, between the time of Constantine, who, by his extravagant favours bestowed on the Christian clergy, early in the fourth century, laid the foundation for antichristian domination, and the establishment of the Protestant reformation, a little after the middle of the sixteenth century. Though there is no reason to consider the former of those events as the rise, or the latter as the fall of Antichrist; yet the one was such a preparation for his coming, and the other such a presage of his destruction, as render both those occurrences in Divine providence worthy of our serious consideration. Some valuable writers have fixed the date of Antichrist’s rise at the middle of the eight century, when Pepin, King of France, in the year 756, raised him to the dignity of a temporal prince. This period will carry us forward, for the ending of the 1260 years, to the twenty-first century, and it would terminate in the year 2016. As the Pope’s possession of civil power is not essential to his Scriptural characters, as the Man of Sin, the Antichrist, and the false Prophet, and as the grant of Pepin rather raised him to his height, than gave him birth, there does not seem to be any valid reason for considering that period to be the rise of the Papacy. Something, however, may take place in the millennial church, at the time which corresponds with this period of the Pope’s aggrandisement, near the beginning of the twenty-first century, which may be very remarkable. About that time, perhaps, the unexplored parts of the earth, where the foot of civilized man has never trodden, may submit to the sceptre of Jesus; such as the interior of Africa, of the American Continents, of New Holland, and some parts of Asia, or the undiscovered islands of the sea. There are other two dates of the rise of popery, and, of course, also of its fall, about which modern writers on prophecy are divided in opinion. One of these dates is in the year 533, when the Emperor Justinian constituted the Bishop of Rome, the Head over all the churches. The other date is in the year 606, when the Emperor Phocas declared the Bishop of Rome to be the Plead of the church. Of the decree of Phocas, it is affirmed, there is no record; it is only mentioned in history. Of the decree of Justinian there is a solemn record, and all the accompanying documents are yet extant. It has also been said, that the decree of Phocas was only a ratification of Justinian’s decree, and rather confirmed to the Bishop of Rome the supremacy over the church, than conferred on him that Anti-christian dignity. According to this view of Antichrist’s rise in 533, Daniel’s 1260 years have expired, the seventh trumpet has sounded, the third wo has come, the vials have begun to be poured out, and the judgment began to sit in the year 1792, when that most uncommon, general, destructive, and judgment-like war, that Europe ever saw, had its dismal commencement. From 533 till 1792 inclusive of these years, we have Daniel’s number of 1260 years. The 30 additional years, and the number of 1290 years, will terminate in 1822, when the public conversion and restoration of Israel will probably begin. The second additional number of 75 years, and the gross number of 1335 will come to their end in 1867, exactly 50 years from the present time; when Satan’s kingdom, in its heathenish, mahometan, and popish forms, shall have fallen as lightning from heaven; when the conversion of Jacob’s seed, and their return to their own land will be perfected; when the protestant churches will be revived and purified; when the pagan, mahometan and antichristian nations will be enlightened and turned to the Lord; and when the church, in her millennial glory, purity and rest, will be established on the earth.
7. It is humbly submitted, if the two dates last mentioned, about which modern writers differ, may not be perfectly reconciled, by the following view of the predictions of Daniel and John. Let us suppose, that the 1260 years, mentioned by Daniel, began at 533, the first of those dates; and that John’s 1260 years commenced at 606, the second date. In this scheme John’s number will end in 1866, and Daniel’s three numbers, reserving the last year in them for the first of the Millennium, will end in the very same year, in 1866. This singular coincidence in the dates, and their answering so exactly to the numbers of the Prophet, and to the number of the Apostle, so as to cause both of them terminate in the same year, certainly deserves our attention. The reasons for suggesting this idea of the times are the following:
The additional numbers of 30 and 45 are necessary, in the prophecies of Daniel, to express the time that must elapse, from the rise of Antichrist till the beginning of the millennium. No notice is taken of those numbers—no reference is made to them in the visions of John. From this we conclude, that these additional numbers are not to be employed in explaining John’s number. Since John does not mention Daniel’s gross number of 1335, nor his additional numbers of 30 and 45 ; they were not contemplated by him, as belonging to his scheme, nor must they be introduced by us, in order to explain it. John’s prophecies, being the last, are the most full and particular; they illuminate the predictions of Daniel. They are, however, two different schemes of prophecy, in which, though they most harmoniously agree, different numbers and symbols are employed. John mentions his number five several times, and in three different forms, and mentions no other number; the symbolical representation of his scheme of prophecy is larger and more systematic than that of Daniel; and by detached visions different parts of his scheme are sometimes exhibited in miniature, and are sometimes amplified; can we therefore suppose, if the superadded numbers of the Prophet had been necessary to explain the predictions of the Apostle, that they would not be mentioned in his visions? There is a necessity that John’s number of 1260, and Daniel’s number of 1335 should terminate at the same time; but there does not appear to be the same necessity for their commencing together. They must terminate at the same time, because John’s 1260 years must continue till the beginning of the millennium, as he does not mention any other number which intervenes betwixt the end of the former, and the commencement of the latter. In John’s 1260 years, the time of the vials, or the season of judgment, must be included, because his prophecy mentions no other number of years, in which these transactions are to be accomplished. Daniel’s number of 1335 years exceeds John’s 1260 years, by 75 years. As the last of those years belongs to the millennial period, it must be separated from the number, and we have 74 years. Since the only wise God, as the Author of prophecy, has given us two schemes of time, the one of which exceeds the other by 74 years; and since He, as the God of providence, has given us two conspicuous dates, whose claim to be the rise of Antichrist is so nearly equal, and whose distance from one another, inclusive of the first year, is exactly 74 years, there appears to be good reason, from this remarkable coincidence of time, to adopt this method of reconciling them.
Besides, if Daniel’s numbers do not begin at 533, that most conspicuous and best attested date of Antichrist’s rise is altogether overlooked in prophecy; which is a conclusion that those who have a due regard to Him, who is the giver of prophecy, and the God of providence, will not be easily persuaded to believe. If it is maintained that Daniel’s 1260 years do not commence till 606, the judgment will not sit, the Ancient of days will not come, the seventh angel will not sound his trumpet, and none of the vials included in the third wo will be poured out till 1866; for Daniel undoubtedly fixes the sitting of the judgment, at the expiration of his time, and times, and the dividing of time, or at the end of the 1260 years, as they are mentioned by him. This is a conclusion entirely at variance with the opinion of those, who plead for Antichrist’s rise in 606. If there is not a scheme of prophecy which contemplates the rise of Antichrist at 606, then that providential dispensation, which took place in that year, is also disregarded in Divine predictions, which reflects no honour on Him whose works are the fulfilment of his word. Since God, in his holy providence, has furnished us with two conspicuous dates, for the entering of the man of sin into the Lord’s temple; and since he, in his holy word, has revealed a double scheme of numbers relating to the rise and fall of Antichrist, and to the subjugation and emancipation of his church, one of which dates exactly agrees to the numbers of Daniel, and the other to the number of John, and both harmoniously terminate in the same year, it must be exceedingly probable, if not absolutely certain, that it was God’s design to mark out to the church that most important era, by this twofold account of it.
No valid objection can be made against the accuracy of those calculations, arising from our beginning Daniel’s numbers with the 533d year of the Christian era, and not at the termination of that year; or from our beginning John’s number, at the end of 606, and not with that year. The former was the eastern mode of calculating time, when Daniel’s predictions were delivered, and when the seat of empire was established in the east. The usage of the time, and place of Daniel’s visions must necessarily be employed, in explaining his prophetic numbers. The latter was the western mode of computing time, when John saw his visions, and when the seat of empire was transferred to the western part of the earth. The custom of that time and place must also be observed, in explaining the commencement and termination of John’s number. Since this method of explaining and reconciling those numbers, so far as I know, has not been formerly used; since it may have a tendency to unite the opinions of authors, on this interesting enquiry, concerning the beginning and the ending of those numbers; since it seems to lay a solid foundation for our hope, concerning the time when all those things shall be fulfilled; and since it appears to display the wisdom and harmony of the word and works of God, it is most respectfully submitted to the consideration of Christian professors.
With a few reflections which the foregoing remarks seem to suggest, this discourse shall be concluded.
1. We must carefully distinguish between a Divine prediction and an human explanation of it; betwixt scriptural numbers mentioned in prophecy, and men’s calculations concerning their beginning and ending The one is perfect and certain, the other may be very imperfect and false. Though human interpretations of prophecy should prove fallacious, the error attaches, not to the prediction, but to the explanation of it; not to the Author of prophecy, but to the fallible interpreter. Though human calculations should prove erroneous, the prophetic numbers themselves are with- out error. Our disappointment, by a false explanation of a prediction, ought not to engender in our minds any prejudice or objection at the prophecy itself very unreasonable it will be to undervalue the prediction, because of the error of its explanation; and to charge God foolishly, on account of the mistakes of men. Though Divine providence should sweep away, to their very foundations, the explanations and calculations of men; the Divine prediction will still stand sure like an immovable rock, and will be accomplished in its season, and in all its parts. Divine predictions and human explanations must be distinguished also as to our esteem of them. All our esteem of that which is human, should centre on that which is divine. Any regard we may have for the labours of men, on those subjects, should increase our love and admiration of the Author of prophecy, who only could reveal it, and who alone can make it come to pass. There is also a difference between these two objects, in the manner in which we should examine them. In our examination of scripture prophecy, reverence for the glorious Author of it, a certain belief of its truth, and an humble desire to know the mind of God, by the light of his own Spirit, should fill our hearts. In coming to an examination of an explanation of prophecy, the Christian’s mind, not being freed from the fear of error in the object of his consideration, ought to exercise guarded suspicion, and ought rather to delay, than rashly to form his opinion.
2. In scripture prophecy, there will be found such a mystery, majesty, and beauty, as should raise our admiration of its Author, and attract our attention to itself. Of all Divine predictions, this is the infallible description; “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” Holy persons who were sanctified of God, uninfluenced by their own will, and guided and taught by the Divine Spirit, delivered those messages of God to men, messages which are full of mystery, majesty, and beauty. Of all scripture predictions, there are none which possess those qualities more eminently than the prophecies of Daniel and John, respecting the grand Antichrist, and the church of the living God. The symbols that are used to represent those very different objects, are most appropriate and significant. Their diversity in the two schemes hurts not their unity, darkens not their meaning, but rather illustrates and confirms their application to the objects which they represent. The different numbers that are mentioned cordially harmonise, and tend to confirm our minds in the truth of their application. Systematic forms of representing a long series of events, by a long war, and the solemn session of a court of judgment, by the opening of seven seals, the sounding of seven trumpets, and the pouring out of seven vials; and by collateral visions, some of which give a more summary, and others a more detailed description of the same things, plainly mark the whole structure of the predictions, to be the offspring of Divine wisdom, and the fulfilment of it, to be the effect of Divine power. As the millennial church shall praise him for its accomplishment; let us thank him for its revelation, and wait its issue.
3. Divine predictions shall be assuredly fulfilled. The giver of prophecy is the God of providence. He does what he will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth. Prophecy contains promises and threatenings; promises when it respects the church, and threatenings when his enemies are the objects of it. His faithfulness and power are engaged to fulfil his promises to his people; prophecy, so far as it contains a revelation of good things to the church, shall, therefore, be fulfilled. The Divine veracity and power are also interested in executing the threatenings against his enemies; prophecy, therefore, in so far as it exhibits them, shall assuredly come to pass. “To me belongeth vengeance and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time, for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste. For the Lord shall judge his people, and repent himself concerning his servants, where he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up or left.” Very considerable parts of those predictions have been already accomplished, and shall we suspect the fulfilment of the rest? The most dismal parts of them, concerning the rise and reign of the enemy, have come to pass; we should not, therefore, hesitate about the accomplishment of those parts of the prediction, which are more glorious and joyful. As the time of Antichrist’s elevation has come, so the season of his destruction shall arrive. Since the predictions concerning the church’s sufferings have been fulfilled, those which relate to her blessedness and glory shall likewise be accomplished. “ God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” Num. xxiii. 19.
4. The present appearances in the religious world encourage the hope, that some great and happy change among men is fast approaching. The extraordinary endeavours that are now made, to send the word and gospel of Christ into all the earth, seem to be the harbinger of this change, and the means by which it will be effected. These endeavours are of such a nature, of such variety, of such extent, and have produced already such wonderful effects, as render it very probable that the grand millennial season may arrive at the time, to which our view of the prophetic numbers has conducted us. The Bible Societies, for instance, have existed only thirteen years. There are precisely four times that number of years from the present time till the year 1867. If those Societies have accomplished such great things in these thirteen years, in part of which period the scheme has been in its infancy; what may we suppose it will accomplish, if it is continued, with the Divine blessing, for fifty years longer? It is not at all unreasonable to suppose, that by the time that the Sixty-second annual Report of the British and Foreign Bible Society shall be published, all the parts of the earth will have been, for a considerable time, in possession of the holy Scriptures. If they shall be in possession of the Divine word, may we not hope, that they shall also be turned from dumb idols, to the service of the living God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Respecting the evangelic missions, the schools, the circulation of religious tracts, and the endeavours to graft Israel into their own olive-tree, the same method of reasoning might be adopted. If these different attempts to set up the Redeemer’s kingdom among men, have, in the short time that is past, done great and wonderful things; may we not confidently expect, if their labours are continued half a century longer, the blessing of God, and the working of the Spirit accompanying them, that all the ends of the earth may then see the salvation of our God. From these things it appears, even by the light of human probability, that we have reason to expect, that the great and glorious day of the Lord may come at the time that was mentioned. If the view that we have taken of the prophetic numbers be correct, as we hope it is, then it may be said; “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn and the day star arise in your hearts.”
5. The knowledge of the particular stage, in the church’s journey, at which she has now arrived, and in which she is now moving forward to the promised land of her millennial rest, is a very desirable, and important attainment. Though it would be most unbecoming, to speak with presumptuous confidence, or in the language of absolute certainty, concerning the precise time; yet a fair application of the predicted events, and the prophetic numbers, to the past and present operations of providence, and to the seasons in which the Lord has brought them to pass, will enable us, with strong probability, to answer those weighty interrogations, “Watchman, what of the night?” How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? Our opinion is this—That Daniel’s 1260 years, began with the 533d year of the Christian era, and ended at 1792; that his additional number of 30 years, which makes his first number 1290, beginning where the former ended, will expire in 1822; and his third number of 45 years, which completes his gross number of 1335 years, will end in 1867, the last year of which will be the first of the blessed millennium. With this calculation, John’s number perfectly agrees, when dated from 606, the second date of the rise of popery; because from 606 to 1866 there are 1260 years. The judgment against the little horn, and for the church’s deliverance and exaltation, has been sitting, and the vials have been pouring out since 1792.—These will be continued till 1866, and will be completely finished on that year. The blessed state of the church will commence in 1867, the year, to which those who wait and come are blessed. This happy period of the church shall be continued 1000 years, or, for a long time. After which the millennial day will have a short evening, called “a little season”, which will be followed by the general judgment. These are the conclusions to which we are led, by this investigation of the prophetic numbers. That they are perfectly correct and infallibly true, we dare not assert: but that they are probable, and worthy of our consideration, there is some reason to believe. According to this view, we have now passed through one third part of the time of the sitting of the judgment, and the effusion of the vials; and two thirds of that time, or 49 years, from the expiration of this year, 1817, remain yet to be fulfilled. The 25 years of this season, which have now passed over us, have been most eventful, both for the Divine judgments which have been on the earth, and for the means that have been employed for illuminating and converting the nations to the faith of Jesus. The 49 years of this season that are yet to come, will also be full of most important events. During that time, the Lord will, on the one hand, perform the remaining part of his strange work of judgments, of one kind or another, on his Antichristian enemies, till they are removed from the earth ; and, on the other hand, he will give increasing activity and success to the means of grace that are and shall be used, for filling the earth with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, till all nations are prepared for entering into the millennial glory, when “there shall be one fold and one shepherd, one Lord and his name one.”
6. An humble examination of the predictions of God’s word, and a religious observation of the dispensations of his providence, constitute a necessary part of that duty which is incumbent on Christians especially at such a time as this. The command to search the Scriptures comprehends the former, and the injunction to regard the operations of his hands includes the latter. The neglect of either of them must be a great evil. Let us, therefore, turn our attention frequently to the word and to the works of God, To his word which foretells the events of those times, and to his works which fulfil his word. Indifference and inattention to those things are sinful and profane. The want of zeal for the Divine glory, and a concern for the kingdom of Christ and the salvation of men, are the causes of this criminal negligence. Religious exercise about the words of his mouth, and the doings of his hand, even though we may be disappointed in some of our expectations, is unspeakably better than a careless neutrality in the cause of God and religion. The difficulties which attend this investigation, should not deter us from: assaying it. In your meditation on those things, cry to the Lord, by prayer, for his counsel and direction. Take the help of your Christian brethren’s knowledge and experience in those matters, by familiar conversation about them with one another. Compare different parts of Scripture together, and separate dispensations of providence with each other; that the light you obtain from all, may help you to understand that which seems most difficult and dark. Be not discouraged by the want of success in any one attempt; but renew your endeavours, in the hope of succeeding better, through grace, on another occasion. Let not your searchings into God’s words and works, lead you to vain speculation; but make such an use of them as will influence your inward exercise, and direct your outward conduct. Happy will you be, if those endeavours you exert in searching his word, and in observing his operations, impress more deeply on your souls, those words of Jesus; “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel.”