Page images


of which the three last chapters of his prophecies contain an account. And by what is written in the conclusion of the last of them, he seems to have died soon after, and his great age makes it not likely that he could have survived much longer. For the third of Cyrus being the seventy third year of his captivity, if he were eighteen years old at his carrying to Babylon, (as I have shewn before, is the least that can be supposed ) he must have been in the ninety first year of his age at this time, which was a length of years given to few in those days."h

“The book of Daniel contains a very interesting mixture of history and prophecies; the former being introduced, as far as was necessary, to describe the conduct of the Prophet, and to shew the design and occasion of his predictions. The first six chapters are chiefly historical; though, indeed, the second Chapter contains the prophetic interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream concerning the kingdoms which were successively to illustrate the power of that God, who removeth and setteth up Kings, as seemeth good to him. The four historical chapters which succeed, relate the miraculous deliverance of Daniel's compañions from the furnace; the remarkable punishment of Nebuchadnezzar's arrogance; the impiety, and portended fate of Belshazzar; and the divine interposition for the protection of Daniel in the lions' den. All these accounts are written with a Spirit and animation highly interesting; we seem to be present at the scenes described ; and the whole work is enriched with the most exalted sentiments of

Prid. an. 534.

piety; and with the finest attestations to the praise and glory of God.

The last six chapters of this book are composed of prophecies delivered at different times; all of which are, however, connected as parts of one great scheme, They extend through many ages; and furnish the most striking description of the fall of successive king, doms, which were to be introductory to the establishment of the Messiah's reign. They characterize in descriptive terms the four great monarchies of the world, to be succeeded by “that kingdom which should not be destroyed.” They foreshew the power and destruction of Antichrist, in predictions repeated and extended by St. John; and conclude, with a distinct assurance of a general resurrection to a life of everlasting shame, or everlasting glory."i . . “Part of the book of Daniel, that is from the fourth verse of the second chapter, to the end of the seventh chapter, is originally written in the Chaldee language. For there the Holy Prophet, treating of Babylonish affairs, wrote of them in the Chaldee, or Babylonish language. All the rest is in Hebrew. The Greek translation of this Book used by the Greek Churches through all the Eastern countries was that, which was translated by Thcodotion. In the vulgar Latin Edition of the Bible, there is added in the third chapter, after the twenty third verse, between that and the twenty fourth verse, the song of the three children; and, at the end of the Book, the history of Susanna, and of Bell and the Dragon: And the former is made the thirteenth, and the other the fourteenth chapter

i Gray p. 409–11.

[ocr errors]

of the Book in that Edition. But these additions were never received into the Canon of Holy Writ by the Jewish Church, neither are they extant either in the Hebrew, or the Chaldèe language; nor is there any evidence that they ever were so." k

The book of Daniel gives a grand and sublime outline of the history of the world, as referring in particular to the Church of God: And it is evident, even to a superficial reader, that the Revelation of St. John, is an amplification and enlargement of the Book of Daniel. In interpreting this Book, my object has been, to distract, as little as I could, the mind of the reader by variety of interpretation : 1 have endeavoured to set before him what appeared to me the most easy and most consistent exposition of the various prophecies which Daniel delivers ; and, as far as possible, to save him the labour and toil which I had to employ. But why do I call it a labour and toil? I have found it a pleasure and a delight: I have found the study of this Book a source of constant improvement in all the changes of life; it has afforded me a constant object to which I could turn my attention, during my very few leisure hours; it has eased my mind in many a day of affliction and trial; it has afforded me amusement, and what is more valuable, instruction and edification; it has tended to strengthen my trust in God, and to feel confident that his Church and people will ever be protected by him; and, whilst it has suppressed a vain and idle curiosity into futurity, it has fully confirmed my faith in that Providence which watches over all things, and in that Gospel

k Prid. an. 534.

to which is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” Should the Reader enjoy but half the pleasure, in perusing these dissertations, which I have had in their composition, I shall feel rewarded for my labour, and bless God for the result.


CHAPTER I. Vs. 1-7.

W HOEVER wishes to have a competent know

ledge of the Scriptures, must be careful to compare one part with another. For though the different books of the Bible were many of them written by different people, and at very distant times, yet there is a remarkable correspondence between them; a correspondence which will appear the more particular and minute, the more it is investigated.

Of this correspondence we see a full proof in Paley's Horæ Paulinæ; in which he points out a great many, and to an ordinary reader, imperceptible parts of agreement between the Acts of the Apostles and St. Paul's Epistleș. Equally striking is the agreement between the Prophetical and the Historical parts of the Old Testament; for the latter often point out the accomplishment of those things which by the former had been many years before predicted. And although many of the prophecies relate to events beyond the time to which sacred history extends, and must therefore be explained by prophane, yet many others, and especially those respecting the captivity of Israel and Judah, are clearly explained by sacred history.

« PreviousContinue »