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and the violent consequences, which, unless checked by such a manifest interposition, as might have seemed to look too favourably to the heathen domination, would have ensued on that acknowledgment. The Jewish history may suggest to the reader other arguments to the same purpose. But enough has been said to shew, that the state of opinions and of feeling prevalent among that nation at our Lord's appearance was such, as to render it highly advisable, and even necessary, to prevent a too close and decisive application of the prophecy to events, while they were either nearly pending or actually passing

The mode, in which it has pleased the divine wisdom generally to prevent the certain computation of prophetical fixed terms previously to their expiration, is by throwing a degree of uncertainty about their commencement. recollect only one exception to this remark, which is to be found in the prediction of the one hundred and twenty years given to Noah, for that, provided we be correct in reckoning those years from the period of its delivery, seems to be as clear and decisive in its beginning as it doubtless was in its termination. But perhaps the knowledge of it was confined to Noah and his family, or if it were published, it was published to

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a faithless and perverse generation, who would take no account of it: besides, the event was to be brought about, not by human instruments or through moral causes, but by such only as were placed above the reach of mortal interference. Another period prophetically fixed in scripture is that of the four hundred years, during which the patriarch Abraham and his seed were to be strangers, sojourners, and servants in a land of foreigners. Here, if the annunciation of the term be compared with the declaration of its conclusion, it will be found, that the commencement of it is involved in a great degree of doubt and difficulty; such as must have disabled any uninspired mortal from computing with exactness the date of its termination, until it actually arrived. In like manner the term of the seventy years captivity of Judah might have been uncertainly reckoned from more dates than one, until their return in the first year of Cyrus shewed, that it was to be computed from the first siege and capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. A similar obscurity rests upon the long terms, which are predicted both by Daniel and by St. John, and which are yet in progress over us. We are unable, as to me at least it

notwithstanding all the efforts of commentators, to fix with satisfactory accuracy the beginnings of those terms; and therefore we cannot argue with certainty to the time of their expiration.


Since then the attempt to fix the beginning of a prophetic term is by the direct act of the Divine Spirit himself made a matter of such serious difficulty, as almost to look like a prohibition, while the term itself is in transitu, it would be rash to affirm, that every degree of doubt ought at once and necessarily to vanish so soon as it has reached its conclusion. The event intended to mark its commencement cannot in itself do that office more perfectly than before, so that whatever degree of additional light and certainty may now be cast upon it, must be borrowed by a retrograde reckoning from its ascertained end. If indeed that point be clearly made out, and the reckoning lead back to a fact answerable to that, from which the term is dated, there can be no farther question upon the subject : the whole term stands fully disclosed before us; and nothing is left, but to examine, whether the events, by which it is filled up, correspond to those, which are predicted to take place in its passage. But if there happen to be more than one event, that can advance plausible pretensions to be the intended mark of the end, then it is evident, that the point of commencement also must remain undecided, until more accurate and more successful

inquiries shall have determined the right of the several claimants. This has been in some measure the case with Daniel's prophecy of the seventy weeks: not however because there is really any indistinctness in the intended mark of the end, but because interpreters have lost sight of it in pursuing it by indirect paths. Finding several edicts of the Persian monarchs in favour of he Jews, they hastily concluded, that the term must take its beginning from one of them; and they expected that the retrograde calculation would enable them to determine which. But the term when reckoned backward from its natural end was found to fall short of even the latest of those edicts. This should have been taken as decisive, that, unless the prophecy had failed of its accomplishment, the beginning of the term could not be fixed by any one of those edicts; and they ought to have sought the point of commencement in some other event. But instead of that, they generally deserted the natural and proper post, fixed by the plain expressions of the prophecy for the end of the term ; and endeavoured to invent plausible arguments in behalf of another event, which the prophet himself has placed in the course of its progress. Hence, in order to support their opinions, they have been driven to those “numerous hermeneutic arts and that


great distortion,” with which they are upbraided by Michaelis, or to the more pernicious contrivances of groundless conjecture and unwarrantable alterations.

In spite however of all the difficulty attending this prophecy, and all the variety of interpretations thereby occasioned, it has in all ages of the church maintained its credit. For however various and discordant the sentiments of christian interpreters may be among themselves, there is one triumph, which they have all achieved, and which they will ever continue to achieve; that I mean, which is gained over the incredulity and perverseness of the Jews. For no creditable or even plausible explication has ever been or ever can be given of the various terms of weeks and of the events appointed to take place during their course, which does not contradict or entirely preclude every hope of such a temporal and imperial Messiah,, as they have been for ages expecting in vain. Their national commentators have indeed laboured by manifold hypotheses, each one more fanciful, inconsistent, and wild than the other, to make the prophet declare in their favour. But “ seeing they see not;" and every expositor, who takes the trouble of examining their opinions, exposes to the world the fatality of their blindness. For as Frischmuth,

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