« AnteriorContinuar »
cannot hope therefore to do justice to the whole subject in one Number. We consequently purpose to confine ourselves in this to the most fundamental objection of Mr. Maitland, against the protestant mode of interpreting the 1260 days, and to postpone the remainder until after we have noticed one or two other works, which demand immediate attention. The necessity of being as brief as possible will also compel us to condense the arguments on both sides, and not to indulge in copious quotations: but as Mr. M. has complained, both that his objections and their relative importance have been mis-stated by his opponents, we shall first select a summary of the whole in his own words, and afterwards his own statement likewise of his main argu
"1. The unprecedented nature of the required interpretation.2. Its having been totally unknown to the Church of God, who were most deeply interested in it, from the Days of Daniel to those of Wickliffe.-3. The total inability of expositors, even when they assumed the period, to make any thing of it in which they can agree among themselves.-4. The actual want of real conviction and faith in these fulfilments of prophecy, which is found in the Christian Church.-5. The absence of appeal to them in controversy with infidels. -6. The difficulties which must be got over with respect to historical facts."*
In his last pamphlet Mr. Maitland observes :- If my argument can be said to be based on any one point, it is that day means day every where else; and that before
interpreters make it mean any thing else in the passage relating to the 1260 days, they ought to assign some better reason than they have hitherto given for so doing." (No. 15, p. 16.)
Of course these arguments branch themselves out so as to include various subordinate particulars, which we shall notice as the occasion requires. And in directing to them our attention, we feel that we are bound at the same time to view them with the most jealous scrutiny, and by no means to subscribe to them without the clearest demonstration. It is no light matter for a solitary individual to arraign before him the cloud of pious and learned witnesses who have testified to the truth of that which he impugns; and who, by a necessary inference, asserts, that since the days of Wickliffe, prophecy has been to the Church darkness and not light;
that the path of the righteous (contrary to Proverbs iv, 18) has been like a gloomy evening, obscuring more and more to deepest night. We say not that the thing is impossible; more especially if Mr. Maitland could show, that the era of the Reformation was that at which piety also began to decline: but if otherwise, we consider, from the analogy of Scripture and the experience of the Church, that she will have been gradually emerging from darkness; and we must therefore question most rigidly any assertion to the contrary. Mr. Digby principally stands upon this ground, and eloquently enlarges upon the inconveniences that would result from the adoption of Mr. Maitland's system. These are forcibly pointed out: but though we consider they justify us
* No. 9, p. 136. For brevity's sake we refer to the several works now under review by the numbers affixed to the enumeration of them at the beginning of this article.
in being reluctant and tenacious before we yield; yet are we prepared to submit to these and even greater inconveniences, if the truth shall nevertheless appear to be with Mr. Maitland. The Morning Watch chiefly takes up that one point which Mr. Maitland conceives to be the most fundamental of his objections; and meets it with the ability which might be expected from that Journal. Mr. Cuninghame touches, with his well known controversial clearness, upon every point of moment: and had we not pledged ourselves to this subject before we saw his Strictures, (which coincide remarkably with some of the observations we had previously written,) we should have contented ourselves with merely giving copious extracts from them.
I. In entering upon Mr. Maitland's first objection, viz. the unprecedented nature of the required interpretation, we must first observe, that we do not consider those who advocate the mystical sense at all bound to show, that day DOES NOT mean day every where else.”* If there be internal evidence in the prophecies themselves in which the dates occur, that they are used enigmatically; if the ordinary rules of analogy seem to require it; the humble and intelligent inquirer will, we apprehend, be satisfied. The interpretation however in this instance is also supported by other evidence, which we shall presently
Secondly, Mr. Maitland appears to us mistaken throughout in regard to the criterion by which we must judge when words are used symbolically or enigmatically, and when
Undoubtedly (he writes in one place) the beasts which Daniel saw were emblematical; but nothing can 'be more literal than the language in which he has described them: let it only be admitted (and I cannot conceive why it should not) that by the word day he means day, as much as by the word goat he
means goat; and all farther argu'ments on my part would be needless."a Now we can fully admit what Mr. Maitland requires ; but we cannot therefore approximate at all nearer to his conclusion. We believe that in every instance of symbolical language the words used are first intended to convey their primary and literal signification, and that no man would be justified in saying of the lion with eagles' wings, that the words "eagles' wings" mean any thing but what they import literally, though the wings which they describe were symbolical.b Mr. Maitland admits, that the beasts were emblematical, though described in literal language; what difficulty is there in supposing that the days may be emblematical, though similarly described ? When Ezekiel was ordered to lie upon his left side three hundred and ninety days for the iniquity of Israel, and forty days upon his right side for the iniquity of Judah, each day for a year, he must have understood those days to be emblematical of years; yet did he not confound the literal terms in
a No. 9, p. 3. b Ibid. p. 56. c Ezek. iv, 4—6.
*The Reader will bear in mind that these periods are expressed by the terms 1260 days, 42 months, and “time, times, and the dividing of time.” Of course Mr. Maitland's objection extends to the same period however expressed. It is seven times mentioned in the Scriptures.-See Dan. vii, 25; xii, 7 and Rev. xi, 2, 3; xii, 6, 14; xiii, 7.
which days were expressed, but doubtless continued upon his side so many literal days. Yet Mr. Maitland exhausts many pages of his various pamphlets in observations upon the terms mystical, figurative, emblematical, symbolical, and upon style and interpretation; (which the Morning Watch we think has successfully shown he does not clearly comprehend himself;d) and which after all only amount to this, his own admission-" If by style we mean what may perhaps be called the construction of these revelations, or the mode by which certain things were revealed to the prophet or the apostle, or the plan which God was pleased to adopt for the purpose of ' revelation; that I grant was both mysterious and figurative; because 'it consisted, for the most part, of symbols addressed to the SENSES, ' having a mystical meaning which was not apparent to him who SAW ' them and was only partially explained to him.”e
We have taken some pains to endeavour to understand Mr. Maitland's real meaning throughout this part of the discussion; and it is very possibly our own dulness which prevents us from apprehending the force and weight of his observations. It seems to us however (from the two words, which we have marked in small capitals in the quotation just given,) that when things are communicated to the sense of sight by symbols, they must be allowed to have an emblematical meaning: but though Mr. M. uses the word senses, in the plural, he seems throughout his argument on this point to limit it to the one sense of sight only; and because the words day and time address the sense of hearing, and not of sight, therefore they cannot be em
blematical. This is further apparent when he contends, that there are visible symbols for periods of time used in the Scriptures, and refers to Gen. xl, 12, 26 and xli, 26—“ The three branches are three days.' "The three baskets are three days.” "The seven good kine are seven years, and the seven good ears are seven years."f Now we will not say, that definite periods of time cannot be represented by visible symbols; but we must contend that in the above Scriptures, branches, baskets, kine and ears, are not primarily emblems of time. The two first are intended to set forth the occupations of the butler and baker; the two latter to denote plenty, as the ill favoured kine and ears denote scarcity. It is number after all which denotes revolutions of time, whether of days or years; but why a certain number of branches and baskets should mean days, whilst a number of kine should signify years, we apprehend no man could determine. It would seem to require a special interpretation in every instance; and then the inconvenience of representing a period of 2300 days or years by so great a multitude of symbols of like character, is a sufficient reason for adopting a different mode of veiling the signification, when long periods are to be designated. Thus in the Apocalypse, the periods of time, though occurring in visions, are declared. The Apostle "hears the number" of the sealed ones,g of the horsemen, &c;h and in other instances, how long the objects seen are to continue is expressed by its being said, that power was given to them for this end, or by some similar mode. So also in Daniel viii, after the action of the vision has been exhibited to the prophet, one saint
d No. 10, p. 506; No. 13, p. 452, &c.
No. 9, p. 50. f No. 9, p. 2; No. 12, i Rev. xi, 2, 3; xii, 6; xiii,15, &c.
speaks to another saint for the purpose of eliciting the time of the vision and he hears the reply"unto 2300 days."k
Mr. Maitland indeed contends, “that it is in one of the explanatory parts of Daniel that the contested passage occurs." But though this would at first glance appear to be correct in regard to Daniel vii ; yet, first it is to be observed of this vision, that the time is not mentioned in the vision itself, either by symbol or otherwise; and therefore the addition of the time, occuring at the end of the explanatory part, cannot be called an explanation of a symbol which had not previously been given or declared. Secondly, it must be noticed, in regard to the vision in chap ix, that the 2300 days therein mentioned are immediately annexed to the vision, (as we have but just now observed ;) and the explanation follows after. Thirdly, the very same period mentioned in Daniel vii, occurs again in chap. xii; together with other numbers; and there both vision and numbers are to be shut up, closed, and sealed, until the time of the end. We clearly apprehend from this, that they are not to be understood by the generations intervening before the time of the end; and even Daniel says "he heard but understood not." Mr. Cuninghame therefore asks, How is a given for the use of a distant generation, excepting in the way we interpreters of prophecy suppose it to have been given; viz. by couching the number of years under the veil of another division or revolution of
mystic chronology to be
ON THE PROPHETICAL TIMES.
time than that of years? I can ' conceive no other mode."l
We have reviewed this part of the argument independently of the question, whether days ever mean
verses 13, 14. 1 No. 16, p. 14.
years. The simple question is, May periods of time be understood as enigmatically expressing different periods? If so, the chief objection,that in every other part of Scripture, but those insisted on as symbolical, the same periods must always be literally understood,--appears to us to be illogical in the outset.
II. We next proceed to inquire, if there be any decided instances in the Scriptures of periods of time being used enigmatically. Mr. Maitland says of the period in question that it
stands in Hebrew and in Greek under the different denomination of days, months, and years; and I beg 'the reader to consider, whether we
have a right to depart from the
literal sense of these words, unless we can produce some clear, un'equivocal precedent; some pas
sages in which these terms (or at ' least some or one of them) has been
clearly used to express a period
different from that which is designated by it, in its literal sense.”m This statement is incorrect in one particular: the period does not any where stand under the denomination of " years," but of " times." To us this appears important, because in the first place in which it is introduced to our notice, it is given under the denomination of a time, times and the dividing of times -a form of expression which Mr. M. is aware some have considered figurative of itself.”n
Mr. Maitland is not satisfied with two passages cited by Mr. Faber and others. The first is Numbers xiv, 33, 34, in which it is said the children of Israel shall wander in the wilderness forty years, << 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 even forty
m No. 9, p. 25. n No. 10, p. 58.
' years." The second is in Ezekiel iv, 4-6, already touched upon, wherein the Prophet is ordered to lie on his left side 390 days, to denote the years of the iniquity of the house of Israel; and forty days on his right side, to denote the years of the house of Judah;—“ I have appointed thee each day for a year. Mr. Maitland "is quite at a loss to understand, how these passages, where the expression in each case is a day for a year'-where, in fact, it is declared and explained, that a certain number of natural days were appointed to represent, or prefigure the like number of ' natural years—should be called,
express warrant' for the mode of reckoning which translates the word day by the English word "year." He would not be satisfied with the latter instance unless," in obedience to this divine command, the Prophet lay forty years on his side, and did so prefigure a period of forty times,' each consisting of 360 years!" Again we observe that Mr. Maitland seems to misapprehend the ground of the argument. The example of Ezekiel appears to us quite in point to prove, that in Scripture a day is put to denote a year; and we are satisfied with Mr. Maitland's own admission, that here "a certain number of natual days were appointed to REPREsent or PREFIGURE the like number of natural years." But he insists that this is not a warrant for " TRANSLATING" the Hebrew word day by the English word year: by which he still seems to make out, that Mr. Cuninghame, Faber, and others, do take the 1260 days to signify literally years; so that were they to exercise the office of translators of the prophets, instead of interpreters, they would render the word "
day by the English word year." We beg Mr. Maitland's pardon if this be not his meaning; but we really cannot understand him else. It is our sincere desire to do him justice; nor are we trammeled by having any system to support depending upon dates; but we certainly jealous for that which has been the principle of interpretation among the generality of protestant writers. And if Mr. Maitland will not allow, that the representing a certain number of years by days, is a warrant for so interpreting other passages in the prophets, where the context may seem to demand it,
unless in each such case it is declared and explained “that a day is put for a year," then we are bold to say, that he would find no press warrant" in Scripture for the explanation of one half the types, symbols and figures it contains: and no man would be justified in giving any interpretation to them, whether fulfilled or unfulfilled.
We must now turn to Dan. ix, 24 27, in which is declared, that "seventy weeks" are determined for the accomplishment of the things de. clared therein. Mr. Maitland fully admits, that this has been proved by the event to be "weeks of years:” but he alleges that the original, being
seventy sevens," (`y) means, according to the general usage of Hebrew writers, seventy sevens of years and not of days. He says it was not the custom of the writers of the Scriptures to calculate time by weeks; and submits, that we should not naturally expect a Hebrew writer to express a period of '490 days by seventy weeks and should consider it as somewhat singular, if we found that he had done so." He further declares that it was not the custom of the
o No. 8, p. 19.