Evidence from Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ, by William Miller, , at sacred-texts.com
THE hearer will, at the first view of our text, perceive that there is something very important communicated in the question and answer given; or why are saints commissioned (as we may reasonably suppose) from the courts of heaven, to ask and answer the question contained in the text, in presence of the prophet? And that it concerned Daniel, and us for whom the prophet wrote his prophecy, to understand, is evident from the answer being given to Daniel--"and he said unto me"--instead of being given to the "saint," who made the inquiry. Then we are not treading on forbidden ground, my dear hearer, to search to understand the meaning and truth of our subject.
I shall then treat our subject in the following manner:
I. Explain some of the figures and expressions used in the text.
II. Show what the "daily sacrifice vision" is, and,
III. The time or length of the vision "unto two thousand three hundred days: then shall the sanctuary be cleansed."
I. I am to explain some of the figures used in the text; and,
1st, the "daily sacrifice." This may be understood, by some, to mean the Jewish rites and ceremonies; and by others, the Pagan rites and sacrifices. As both Jews and Pagans had their rites and sacrifices both morning and evening, and their altars were kept smoking with their victims of beasts, and their holy fire was preserved in their national altars and temples devoted to their several deities or gods, we might be at a loss to know which of these to apply this figurative expression to, did not our text and context explain the meaning. It is very evident, when we carefully examine our text, that it is to be understood as referring to Pagan and Papal rites, for it stands coupled with "the abomination of desolation," and performs the same acts, such as are ascribed to the Papal abomination, "to give both the sanctuary and host to be trodden under foot." See, also, Rev. xi. 2, "But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles; and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months." This last text only has reference to the Papal beast, which was the image of the Pagan; but the text in consideration has reference to both Pagan and Papal. That is, How long shall the Pagan transgression and the Papal transgression tread under foot the sanctuary and host? This must be the true and literal meaning of our text; it could not mean the anti-Christian abomination alone, for they never desolated the Jewish church; neither could it mean Antiochus, the Syrian king; for he and his kingdom were made desolate and destroyed before Christ; and it is evident that Christ had an allusion to this very power, when he told his disciples, Matt. xxiv. 15, "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place." I believe all commentators agree that Christ meant the Roman power--if so, then Daniel has the same meaning; for this is the very passage to which Christ alluded. Then the "daily sacrifice" means Pagan rites and sacrifices, and the transgression of desolation, the Papal; and both together shall tread under foot the "sanctuary and host," which brings me to show what may be understood by "sanctuary and host." By sanctuary, we must understand the temple at Jerusalem, and those who worship therein, which was trodden under foot by the Pagan kingdoms of the world, since the days of Daniel, the writer of our text; then by the Chaldeans; afterwards by the Medes and Persians; next by the Grecians; and lastly by the Romans, who destroyed the city and sanctuary, levelled the temple with the ground, and caused the plough to pass over the place. The people of the Jews, too, were led into captivity and persecuted by all these kingdoms successively, and finally by the Romans were taken away and destroyed as a nation. And as the prophet Isaiah, lxiii. 18, says, "The people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while: our adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary." Jeremiah, also, in Lam. i. 10, "The adversary hath spread out his hand upon all her pleasant things; for she hath seen that the heathen entered into her sanctuary, whom thou didst command that they should not enter into thy congregation." The word host is applied to the people who worship in the outer court, and fitly represents the Christian church, who are said to be strangers and pilgrims on the earth, having no continuing places, but looking for a city whose builder and maker is God. Jeremiah, speaking of the gospel church, says, iii. 19, "But I said, How shall I put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the host of nations?" evidently meaning the church from the Gentiles. "Then shall the sanctuary be cleansed or justified," means the true sanctuary which God has built of lively stones to his own acceptance, through Christ, of which the temple at Jerusalem was but a type, the shadows having long since fled away, and that temple and people now destroyed, and all included in unbelief. So whosoever looks for the worldly sanctuary to be built again, will find themselves as much mistaken as the unbelieving Jews were, when they looked for a temporal prince in the Messiah. For there is not a word in the prophets or apostles, after Zerubbabel built the second temple, that a third one would ever be built; except the one which cometh down from heaven, which is a spiritual one, and which is the mother of us all, (Jew and Gentile,) and which is free, and when that New Jerusalem is perfected, then shall we be cleansed and justified; for Paul says to the Phillippians, iii. 20, 21, "For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself;" that is, "they that are his at his coming." We see by these texts--and many more might be quoted--that the spiritual sanctuary will not be cleansed until Christ's second coming; and then all Israel shall be raised, judged, and justified in his sight.
II. We shall now try to understand what is meant by the "vision," in the text.
The vision, spoken of in the text, alludes to three separate times in which God revealed unto Daniel all that may be considered a prophecy in the book of Daniel, which vision was explained to Daniel by a heavenly messenger, called Gabriel, at three separate times, the last of which closes the book of Daniel; which last instruction will be the subject of a future lecture.
Daniel's first vision was the dream which Nebuchadnezzar had, and which troubled him; but when he awoke, the dream was gone from him. He then called for the magicians, astrologers, sorcerers, and wise men of Chaldea, to show him his dream, and the interpretation thereof; but they could not. The king, being angry, commanded that all the wise men of Babylon should be destroyed. Then Arioch, the captain of the king's guard, went forth to execute the king's decree; and among the rest he sought for Daniel and his three friends, young captive Jews, to execute the purpose of king Nebuchadnezzar upon them also. Daniel then, for the first time, being made acquainted with the decree, went in unto the king, and desired time, and promised that he would make known the dream, and the interpretation thereof. Time being granted, he and his three Hebrew friends held a prayer-meeting, (not a cold and formal one, as we may reasonably suppose,) for their lives and the lives of their fellow-creatures were in danger. They cried for mercies from the God of heaven. God heard and answered their prayers, and revealed to Daniel the dream and interpretation. After rendering suitable thanksgiving, Daniel went in unto the king and told the dream and visions of the king. "As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter; and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what should come to pass; but as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for the intent that the interpretation may be made known to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart. Thou, O king, sawest, and behold, a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee, and the form thereof was terrible. This image's head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, his legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. 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; and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth," Daniel ii. 29-35.
This was the dream, and the interpretation was clear as given by Daniel; and the history of the world proves it to be true, a large share having already been fulfilled. All that remains to be accomplished is for the stone to smite the image upon his feet, and to become a great mountain, and fill the whole earth. "The head of gold" represented the Chaldean kingdom; "the breast and arms of silver" represented the Medes and Persians; "the belly and thighs of brass, which were to bear rule over all the earth," the Grecian. Alexander, a Grecian king, conquered the world; the legs of iron, and the feet part of iron and part of clay," fitly represent the Roman kingdom, which still exists, although in a broken state, like iron and clay. This kingdom has been divided between pagan Rome, the head wounded to death, and Papal Rome, the deadly wound healed, both "mixing themselves with the seed of men," that is, uniting church and state, ecclesiastical and civil, in the government. The stone denotes Christ, the God of heaven; and the mountain the kingdom of God. His breaking the image to pieces, shows that all the kingdoms of this world are to be utterly destroyed and carried away, so that no place can be found for them. And the kingdom of God filling the whole earth teaches us that the beloved city, the New Jerusalem, will fill the world, and God will dwell with his people on the earth. Read Dan. ii. 37-45. This dream was in the second year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, 603 B.C. Forty-eight years afterwards, in the first year of Belshazzar's reign and 555 B.C., Daniel had another dream, yet the same in substance. "Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven strove upon the great sea, and four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The first was like a lion, and had eagles' wings; I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made to stand upon the feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it. And behold, another beast, a second, like unto a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it; and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. After this I beheld, and lo, another like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads, and dominion was given to it. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful, and terrible, and strong exceedingly, and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it; and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots; and behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things. I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool; his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him; thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. I beheld, then, because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake. I beheld, even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed and given to the burning flame. As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time. I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed," Daniel vii. 1-14. This ends Daniel's night vision, except the instruction he received from some one standing by. "So he told me, and made me know 'the truth of all this,' or the interpretation of the things. These great beasts, which are four, are four kings which shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the most high shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever." We see in this instruction that this vision and Nebuchadnezzar's dream agree in the most prominent parts; the four beasts representing the four kingdoms, and the saints possessing the kingdom, the same as the stone becoming a great mountain and filling the whole earth; "forever and ever" shows us that it is an immortal state in everlasting life; "the saints" evidently includes all saints, "for they shall live and reign with him on the earth," Revelation v. 10, 20. iv. 6. "Then," Daniel says, vii. 19, 20, "I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass, which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet; and of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell, even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows."
In these verses we learn that the fourth beast would be diverse from the others. This was true with Rome; that kingdom first rose from a small colony of adventurers settled in Italy. Rome, also, had seven different forms of government, while the others had but one. We learn that this kingdom would devour, break in pieces, harass and perplex the people of God, whether Jew of Gentile; that it would be divided into ten kingdoms, and afterwards there would arise another power which would swallow up three of the ten kingdoms. This was all true with the Roman government. In A.D. 476, the Western Empire fell, and was divided into ten kingdoms by the Goths, Huns, and Vandals,--"France, Britain, Spain, Portugal, Naples, Tuscany, Austria, Lombardy, Rome, and Ravenna. The three last were absorbed in the territory of Rome," (E. Irwin,) and became the States of the Church, governed by the Papal chair, the little horn that had eyes and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows. This description cannot apply to any other power but the church of Rome. "Had eyes," showing that they made pretence at least to be the household of faith; "eyes" meaning faith, and "mouth that spake very great things," showing that the church would claim infallibility; "whose look would be more stout than his fellows," showing that he would claim authority over all other churches, or even the kings, the other horns. See Rev. xvii. 18: "And the woman which thou sawest is that great city which reigneth over the kings of the earth." That the little horn is a part of the fourth kingdom is evident, for it was to come up among the ten horns which were upon the head of the beast; and there cannot be a shadow of a doubt, even in Scripture itself, but that Rome is meant by this fourth beast; for what power but the Roman will answer the description here and elsewhere given in Daniel? "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; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom." Daniel vii. 21, 22. In these verses we are taught clearly that anti-Christ will prevail over the church of Christ until the first resurrection and the first judgment, when the saints are raised and judged, which utterly destroys the modern idea of a temporal millennium, a thousand years before the dead are raised and judged. This also agrees with the whole tenor of Scripture; as, "judgment must first begin at the house of God," and "whom he shall destroy with the brightness of his coming;" when the Ancient of days shall come in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, "to give reward to his servants, the prophets, and them that fear his name, small and great, and destroy them who destroy the earth," described next verse, 23. "Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise; and another shall arise after them, and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws; and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times, and the dividing of time. But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion to consume and to destroy it unto the end," 24-26. In these verses we have the history of the fourth beast, or Roman power, during 1260 years of the close of this kingdom, which I shall, in some future lecture, show is the meaning of time, times, and a half. We have also another clear description of the Papal power: "He shall speak great words," &c.--the blasphemies against God, in the pretensions of the Roman clergy to divine power, working of miracles, canonizing departed votaries, changing ordinances and laws of God's house, worshipping saints and images, and performing rites and ceremonies too foolish and ridiculous to be for a moment indulged in, and which any unprejudiced mind cannot for a moment believe to be warranted by divine rule, or example of Christ or his apostles. And we are again brought down to the time when the judgment shall sit: "And the kingdom, and the dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, (not temporal, as some say, or a thousand years, but an immortal and eternal,) and all dominions shall serve and obey him." It is very evident that this verse brings us down to the time when the kingdom of Christ will be complete "in the greatness of the kingdom." Every word in Scripture has a meaning, and its own proper meaning, unless used figuratively, and then explained by Scripture itself. "Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me; but I kept the matter in my heart."
This ends Daniel's night vision. Two years afterwards, in the year 553 before Christ, Daniel vii., he had another vision in the day-time, at the palace of Shushan, like the one which we have just described, and Nebuchadnezzar's dream.
"Then I lifted up mine eyes and saw, and behold, there stood before the river a ram which had two horns, and the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and the higher came up last. I saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward, so that no beast might stand before him, neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did according to his will, and became great." In the 20th verse, the angel Gabriel explains to Daniel what kingdom was represented by the "ram with two horns," and says, "The ram which thou sawest, having two horns, are the kings of Media and Persia." We see by this that the Chaldean kingdom is left out, for the reason that that kingdom was then crumbling to ruin, and the glory of the Babylonish kingdom had faded; therefore he now begins his vision with the Mede and Persian kingdom, and that, too, when at the height of their power and conquests. The higher horn denoted the Persian line of kings, under and following the reign of Cyrus, the Persian, son-in-law to Darius the Mede. "And as I was considering, behold, a he-goat came from the west, on the face of the whole earth, and touched not the ground; and the goat had a notable horn between his eyes." In the 21st verse the angel says, "And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king." This king was Alexander, that conquered the Persians. He was not the first king of Macedonia, but the first that had all Grecia under his control, and that conquered the world. "And he came to the ram that had two horns, which I had seen standing before the river, and ran unto him in the fury of his power. And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake his two horns; and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him, and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand. Therefore the he-goat waxed very great; and when he was strong, the great horn was broken, and for it came up four notable ones, towards the four winds of heaven." We have in these verses a plain description of Alexander's life, conquests, death, and division of his kingdom into four parts, towards the four points of heaven--Persia in the east, Syria in the north, Macedon and Europe in the west, Egypt and Africa in the south. And the angel, when he gives Daniel instruction, says, 22d verse, "Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power." Then the vision seems to slide down to the little horn. "And out of one of them (that is, out of Europe) came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land. And it waxed great even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down, and a host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground, and it practised and prospered." Two or three things in the above description clearly show that, by the little horn, in this passage, we are to understand the Roman power, viz., Its conquering to the south, and east, and pleasant lands, stamping on the host, magnifying himself against Christ, and destroying Jerusalem, the place of his sanctuary, and his practising and prospering. All this description agrees with the history of Rome, and cannot apply to Antiochus, as some writers have supposed. But let us see what Gabriel says, 23: "And in the latter time of their kingdom, (that is, the four kingdoms,) when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up, and his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy, also, he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many; he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand. And the vision of the evening (in the first year of Belshazzar, Daniel vii.) and the morning (in the third year of Belshazzar, Daniel viii.) which was told, is true; wherefore shut thou up the vision, for it shall be for many days." How many days? Our text answers, "Unto two thousand three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. And it came to pass, when I, even I, Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai, which called and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision. So he came near where I stood, and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face; but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man, for at the time of the end shall be the vision. Now, as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground; but he touched me, and set me upright. And he said, behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation; for at the time appointed the end shall be."
Then comes the instruction of Gabriel, which we have before given.
III. The time or length of the vision--the 2,300 days.
What must we understand by days? In the prophecy of Daniel it is invariably to be reckoned years; for God hath so ordered the prophets to reckon days. Numb. xiv. 34, "After the number of days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall you bear your iniquities, even forty years." Ezek. iv. 5, 6, "For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days; so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days; I have appointed thee each day for a year." In these passages we prove the command of God. We will also show that it was so called in the days of Jacob, when he served for Rachel, Gen. xxix. 27: "Fulfil her week (seven days) and we will give thee this also, for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet other seven years."
Nothing now remains to make it certain that our vision is to be so understood, but to prove that Daniel has followed this rule. This we will do, if your patience will hold out, and God permit.
Now turn your attention to the ninth chapter of Daniel, and you will there learn that fifteen years after Daniel had his last vision, and sixty-five years after Daniel explained Nebuchadnezzar's dream, and 538 years B.C., Daniel set his face unto the Lord God by supplication and prayer; and by confession of his own sins, and the sins of the people of Israel, he sought God for mercy, for himself and all Israel. And while he was speaking and praying, as he tells us, Daniel ix. 21, "Yea, while I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, Daniel viii. 16,17, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. And he informed me and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplication the commandment came forth, and I am come to show thee; for thou art greatly beloved; therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision. Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy. Know, therefore, and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem unto the Messiah, the Prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself; and the people of the Prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week; and in the midst of the week, (or last half, as it might have been rendered,) he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abomination, he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate."
What do we learn from the above passage? We learn our duty in prayer, and God's goodness in answering. We learn that the angel Gabriel was sent to instruct Daniel, and make him understand the vision. You may inquire what vision? I answer, The one Daniel had in the beginning, for he has had no other. We also learn that seventy weeks, which is 490 days, (or years, as we shall show,) from the going forth of a certain decree to build the streets and walls of Jerusalem in troublous times, to the crucifixion of the Messiah should be accomplished. We also learn that this seventy weeks is divided into three parts; seven weeks being employed in building the streets and walls in troublous times, which is forty-nine years, sixty-two weeks, or four hundred and thirty-four years to the preaching of John in the wilderness, which two, put together, make sixty-nine weeks, or four hundred and eighty-three years, and one week the gospel was preached; John three and a half years, and Christ three and a half years, which makes the seventy weeks, or four hundred and ninety years; which, when accomplished, would seal up the vision, and make the prophecy true. We also learn that, after the crucifixion of Christ, the Romans would come and destroy the city and sanctuary, and that wars will not cease until the consummation or end of the world. "All that may be true," says the objector; "but where have you proved that the seventy weeks were four hundred and ninety years?" I agree I have not yet proved it, but will now do it.
We shall again turn your attention to the Bible. Look at Ezra vii. 11-13: "Now this is the copy of the letter that the king, Artaxerxes, gave unto Ezra, the priest, the scribe, a scribe of the law of God: perfect peace, and at such a time. I make a decree that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites in my realm, which are minded of their own free will to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee." This is the decree given when the walls of Jerusalem were built in troublous times. See, also, Neh. iv. 17-23. Ezra and Nehemiah being contemporary, see Neh. viii. 1. The decree to Ezra was given in the seventh year of Artaxerxes' reign, Ezra vii. 7, and that to Nehemiah in the twentieth year, Neh. ii. 1. Let any one examine the chronology, as given by Rollin or Josephus, from the seventh year of Artaxerxes to the twenty-second year of Tiberius Cæsar, which was the year our Lord was crucified, and he will find it was four hundred and ninety years. The Bible chronology says that Ezra started to go up to Jerusalem on the 12th day of the first month, (see Ezra viii. 31,) 457 years before the birth of Christ; he being 33 when he died, added to 457, will make 490 years. Three of the evangelists tell us he was betrayed two days before the feast of the passover, and of course was the same day crucified. The passover was always kept on the 14th day of the first month forever, and Christ being crucified two days before, would make it on the 12th day, 490 years from the time Ezra left the river Ahava to go unto Jerusalem.
If this calculation is correct,--and I think no one can doubt it,--then the seventy weeks was fulfilled to a day when our Savior suffered on the cross. Is not the seventy weeks fairly proved to have been fulfilled by years? And does not this prove that our vision and the 2300 days ought to be so reckoned? Yes, if these seventy weeks are a part of the vision. Does not the angel say plainly, I have come to show thee; therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision? Yes. Well, what can a man ask for more than plain positive testimony, and a cloud of circumstances agreeing with it?
But one thing still remains to be proved. When did the 2300 years begin? Did it begin with Nebuchadnezzar's dream? No. For if it had, it must have been fulfilled in the year A.D. 1697. Well, then, did it begin when the angel Gabriel came to instruct Daniel into the 70 weeks? No, for if then, it would have been finished in the year A.D. 1762. Let us begin it where the angel told us, from the going forth of the decree to build the walls of Jerusalem in troublous times, 457 years before Christ; take 457 from 2300, and it will leave A.D. 1843; or take 70 weeks of years, being 490 years, from 2300 years, and it will leave 1810 after Christ's death. Add his life, (because we begin to reckon our time at his birth,) which is 33 years, and we come to the same A.D. 1843.
Now let us examine our subject, and see what we have learned by it thus far. And,
I. We learn that there are two abominations spoken of by Daniel. The first is the Pagan mode of worship, which was performed by the sacrificing of beasts upon altars, similar to the Jewish rites, and by which means the nations around Jerusalem drew away many of the Jews into idolatry, and brought down the heavy judgments of God upon idolatrous Israel; and God permitted his people to be led into captivity, and persecuted by the very nations that they, the Jews, had been so fond of copying after in their mode of worship. Therefore were the sanctuary and place of worship at Jerusalem trodden down by pagan worshippers; and the altars, erected by the command of God, and according to the pattern and form which God had proscribed, were broken down and more fashionable altars of the heathen erected in their room. Thus were the commands of God disobeyed, his laws perverted, his people enslaved, the sanctuary trodden down, and the temple polluted, until at last God took away the Jewish rites and ceremonies, instituted new forms, new laws, and set up the gospel kingdom in the world.
This, for a season, was kept pure from the worldly sanctuaries and policy of Satan. But Satan, an arch enemy, found his Pagan abominations could have but little or no effect to draw the followers of Christ into idolatry, for they believed the bloody rites and sacrifices had their fulfilment in Christ. Therefore, in order to carry the war into the Christian camp, he suffers the daily sacrifice abomination to be taken out of the way, and sets up Papacy, which is more congenial to the Christian mode of worship in its outside forms and ceremonies, but retaining all the hateful qualities of the former. He persuades them to erect images to some or all of the dear apostles; and even to Christ, and Mary, the "Mother of God." He then flatters them that the church is infallible. (Here was a strong cord by which he could punish all disputers.) He likewise gives them the keys of heaven, (or Peter, as they call it.) This will secure all authority. He then clothes them with power to make laws, and to dispense with those which God had made. This capped the climax. In this he would fasten many thousands who might protest against some of his more vile abominations; yet habit and custom might secure them to a willing obedience to his laws, and to a total neglect of the laws of God. This was Satan's masterpiece; and, as Daniel says, "he would think to change times and laws, and they should be given into his hand for a time, times, and a half; but they shall take away his dominion to consume and destroy it unto the end." Therefore, when this last abomination of desolation shall be taken away, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.
II. We learn that the vision which Daniel saw was revealed at three separate times--1st. In Nebuchadnezzar's dream, which carried us down through four great kingdoms, until they should all be swept away like the chaff of the summer threshing-floor before the wind, and no place found for them, and the glorious and everlasting kingdom of Christ fill the whole earth. The next vision Daniel saw was similar to this; he saw four great beasts, representing four great kingdoms, as before, and he saw the fourth beast to be diverse from all the others, dreadful and terrible, and exceedingly strong; he had great iron teeth, and nails of brass, which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the people of God and the whole earth under foot. This beast contained the two abominations which we have before spoken of; the last, under the figure of a little horn, he saw until all these thrones were cast down, till the little horn was destroyed, and his body given to the burning flame. Daniel saw until the Ancient of days did sit. The Son of Man came in the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days. He saw thousand thousands ministering unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the judgment was set, and the books were opened. He saw the dominion, and glory, and kingdom given to the Son of Man, and to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. In the third vision, which Daniel has coupled with the former, by saying that it was after (or like) the one which appeared unto him at the first, he saw the three last kingdoms; gave a particular description of the two first, even naming them--the Medes and Persians, and the Grecian. He then gives a short account of the little horn, (having given a more general view of the fourth kingdom in the other vision,) how he would cast down the host of heaven, and the stars, and stamp upon them; also that he would magnify himself against the Prince of the host, Jesus Christ, and cast down the place of his sanctuary, and practise and prosper, but shall be broken without hands, showing that the stone cut out without hand should break him to pieces. Daniel, then, in the 26th verse, couples the two visions, the one in the evening, 7th chapter, and the one in the morning, 8th chapter, and says, "The vision of the evening and morning, which was told, is true."
III. We learn that this vision is two thousand three hundred days long; that days are to be reckoned years--1st, By the command of God; 2d, By the example of Jacob; and 3d, By the fulfilment of the seventy weeks of this vision, at the crucifixion of the Messiah. We learn by the instruction of Gabriel that the seventy weeks were a part of the vision, and that Daniel was commanded to begin the seventy weeks at the going forth of the decree, to build the streets and walls of Jerusalem in troublous times; that this decree, given to Ezra, was exactly 490 years, to a day, before the crucifixion of Christ; and that there is no account, by Bible or any historian, that there was ever any other decree to build the streets or walls of Jerusalem. We think the proof is strong, that the vision of Daniel begins 457 years before Christ; take which from 2300, leaves 1843, after Christ, when the vision must be finished. But the objector may say, "Perhaps your vision does not begin with the seventy weeks." Let me ask two or three questions. Does not the angel say to Daniel, ix. 23, "Therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision"? "Yes." Does not the angel then go on and give his instruction concerning the seventy weeks? "Yes." Do you believe the Bible is true? "We do." Then if the Bible is true, Daniel's 70 weeks are a part of the vision, and 490 years were accomplished when the Mesiah was cut off, and not for himself. Then 1810 years afterwards the vision is completed; and we now live about 1803 years after; of course it must have begun within seven years of that date. But it is very reasonable to suppose it began with the seventy weeks; for the angel said it would establish the vision, that is, make it sure; for if the 70 weeks were exactly fulfilled at the death of Christ, then would the remainder be in 1810 years after, which would be fulfilled A.D. 1843, as we have before shown.
And now, my dear hearer, are you prepared for this great and important event? Are you ready for the judgment to set, and the books to be opened? Let this subject sink deep into your hearts; let if follow you to your bed-chambers, to your fields, or your shops. Not one jot or tittle of the word of God shall fail. If he has spoken, it will come, however inconsistent it may look to us. Be admonished, then, and see to it that you are prepared. Compare the vision with the history of the kingdom, and where can you find a failure? Not one. Then, surely, here is evidence strong that the remainder will be accomplished in its time, and that time but seven years. Think, sinner, how good God is to give you notice, and prove it a thousand fold. Remember the old world; they thought Noah was a maniac; but the flood came, and they were reserved in chains of darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Remember the cities of the plain. Lot was unto them like one that mocked; but the same day God rained fire and brimstone upon them, and they are suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Be warned, then; fly to the ark, Christ Jesus, before the door is shut; escape to the mountain of the house of the Lord before the Lord shall rise up to the prey, and you be driven away in your wickedness. Amen.