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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

Daniel 7

Introduction

APPENDIX

IN relation to the prediction in Daniel 7:11, regarding the destruction by fire of the body of the Beast or fourth universal empire, that immediately preceding the kingdom of the Son of Man, and of the saints—his body being “given to the burning flame”—science has recently indicated another way in which this judgment might be inflicted on apostate Christendom and the Antichristian kingdoms. The following extract from the Spectator, in relation to a recent conclusion of astronomy, only met the writer’s eye while the preceding work was in the press:—“We sometimes doubt whether the world’s belief in science is quite as genuine as it seems. Here is Mr. Proctor, whose astronomical authority and ability nobody doubts, has told the world for some time back, we believe, that there is really a very considerable chance of a catastrophe only fifteen years hence, which may put an end to us and our earthly hopes and fears altogether; and, so far as we can see, the world has blandly treated Mr. Proctor’s warning as it would have treated an interesting speculation on the future of electricity—that is, has regarded it with a certain mild, literary satisfaction, but has not made any change in its arrangements in consequence.… Yet, supposing Mr. Proctor’s facts to be correctly stated—on which we should like to have the judgment of other astronomers—there does seem a remarkably good chance that in 1897 the sun will suddenly break out into the same kind of intensity of heat and light which caused the conflagration in the star of the Northern Crown in 1866, when for a day or two the heat and light emitted by it became suddenly many hundreds of times greater than they were before, after which the star relapsed into its former relative insignificance. Those few days of violence, however, must have been enough to destroy completely all vegetable and animal life in the planets circulating round that sun, if such planets were in existence; and Mr. Proctor shows no little reason to believe that the same catastrophe may very probably happen to us, doubtless from a precisely similar cause, if the astronomers who believe that the comet of 1880 was identical with the comet of 1843 and the comet of 1668 should be right,—which would imply that the same comet, with a rapidly diminishing period, is likely to return and fall into the sun, with all its meteoric appendages, in or about the year 1897. Mr. Proctor tells us that Professor Winnecke believes that the identity of the comets of 1843 and 1880 hardly admits of a doubt; while Mr. Marth thinks that both may be identical with the comet of 1668, its velocity having been reduced by its passing through the corona of the sun; so that on its next return, in a considerably reduced time, it may be altogether unable to pass out of the sphere of the sun’s influence, and may precipitate itself, with all its meteoric train, into the mass of the sun. If this event occurs—as at some return or other Mr. Proctor believes to be nearly certain—(the next but one, we suppose, if not the next), there will certainly be an abrupt arrest of an enormous momentum as the long train of meteors enters the sun, which arrest would show itself in the shape of enormously increased heat,—the probable result whereof would be the burning up of all vegetable and animal life existing on the planets of the solar system. It is true that Mr. Proctor is not quite sure how the absorption of this comet and its train into the sun would really affect us. He is by no means certain that our sun would burst into flame, as the star in the Northern Crown did in 1866, but he evidently thinks it much more likely than not. And he does not seriously doubt that in the behaviour of the star in the Northern Crown, which so suddenly broke into flame in 1866, we have the example of a real sidereal catastrophe which from time to time either actually destroys, or would destroy, if they existed, such worlds as ours, if they happen to be the planets of a sun thus suddenly fed with a great accession of cosmic heat.”

In connection with the same subject the writer has recently met with the following passage in Mr. Garrat’s “Midnight Cry,” written about twenty years ago:—“The fiery flood. So it is described in Peter’s second epistle. The destruction of the ungodly will be by fire; and out of that fire will issue the new heavens and the new earth. The question is often asked, whether that event will happen at the commencement or the close of the millennium. Perhaps, in different degrees, at both. Isaiah says, speaking of a period prior to the thousand years, ‘By fire and by sword will the Lord plead with all flesh, and the slain of the Lord shall be many.’ And he seems also to place the creation of new heavens and a new earth at the same period; while it is after the millennium, John says in Revelation, ‘I saw a new heaven and a new earth.’ This and many other apparent difficulties of the same nature are easily explained. ‘One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.’ The whole millennium is, in God’s eye, but a day—the great day of the Lord God Almighty. It is the ‘regeneration,’—the period of earth’s new birth; and the events at its commencement and its close are sometimes looked upon as one. God will destroy His enemies with fire at the beginning of these thousand years. The conflagration at their close will be still more terrible. Both are looked upon as one event. And it is to both, regarded as one, that the words of Peter apply: ‘The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.’ It will come as a thief in the night on the world. They will be alone, because the Church will have been translated. With what bitter remorse will men look on the fiery deluge as it comes sweeping along! They might have escaped, and they would not; and now escape is impossible.”

Verses 1-7

HOMILETICS

SECT. XXII.—THE VISION OF THE FOUR BEASTS (Chap. Daniel 7:1-7)

We now come to the second and principal part of the Book of Daniel, the prophetical portion, the narratives it contains being merely introductory to the visions. The present, as well as the succeeding chapter, chronologically anterior to the preceding one, this vision having been given in the first year of the reign of Belshazzar, probably twenty-three before the events narrated in the preceding chapter; the editor or arranger of the book, whether Ezra or Daniel himself, having for convenience placed the narrative before the present and following chapters, in order to preserve uninterrupted the continuity of the prophecies.

The present chapter, in its matter as well as its position, the central portion of the book. It is in both respects to the Book of Daniel what the eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans is to that epistle. Next to the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, and perhaps the ninth chapter of this same book, we have here the most precious and prominent portion of the sure word of Messianic prophecy. The chapter worthy of the most careful prayer and study. Referred to directly or indirectly by Christ and His apostles perhaps more than other portions of the Old Testament of similar extent. Appears to have been regarded by the Old Testament Church, in the centuries preceding the Messiah’s first advent, as pre-eminently the “word of prophecy.” The same apparently in the New Testament Church till the Revelation of John was vouchsafed for its guidance. The Saviour’s chosen title of “the Son of Man,” as well as the declaration of His future coming “in the clouds of heaven,” obviously taken from this chapter. So Paul’s description of the “Man of Sin” in his second Epistle to the Thessalonians (chap. 2) Frequent and obvious parallels between its images and predictions and those of the Book of Revelation, more especially those connected with the ten-horned beast (Revelation 13:1-7), the Lord’s second Advent, the reign of Christ and His saints, and the final judgment.

The vision not understood by Daniel, till at his own request it was explained to him by one of the angels present in it; an indication at once of our duty and privilege in relation to the study of the word of prophecy. The vision and its interpretation given for our sakes especially, “on whom the ends of the world have come.” One part of the Holy Spirit’s office to show us things to come, which have been already “noted in the Scripture of truth;” while it is our part to imitate the prophet in “searching what or what manner of time the Spirit that was in them did signify, when he showed beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow” (1 Peter 1:11).

This, as well as the prophecies that follow, delivered in Daniel’s own name, the reason being because the visions were communicated to him personally. Daniel not now a narrator of events, but a witness of what had been delivered to himself. Difference of the person used, no evidence of a difference of authorship. Authors known to employ both the first and third person in their narratives. The unity of the two parts of the book indicated by the sameness of the spirit, the style, and the interdependence of the parts upon each other. The contents of both portions, however, probably written at different times.
The language employed in this chapter still the Chaldaic [150], which, however, ceases with the close of it, the remaining portion of the book being in Hebrew. The reason apparently found in the nature and object of the two parts thus differently written. The Chaldaic probably by this time as much or more the language of the Jews in Babylon than their own Hebrew, as it continued to be that of those in Palestine afterwards. This also the language of the Targums, translations or rather paraphrases of the Old Testament when the Hebrew ceased to be the spoken language of the Jews.

[150] “This chapter,” says Brightman, “is written in the common tongue of the heathenish kingdom, that the common prophecy might come abroad unto all. The vision in the next chapter is in the proper tongue of the holy people; the prophet thus intimating that this in the seventh chapter is more general, that in the eighth more particular, as also those which follow to the end of the chapter.”

The vision of the Four Beasts corresponds to that of the Great Image in chap. 2. This given in a dream to Daniel, as that had been to Nebuchadnezzar. The interpretation given by an angel at the same time. The whole vision committed to writing probably soon after its communication to the prophet, being intended to form a part of Sacred Scripture, as it has done since the canon of the Old Testament was completed in the days of Ezra and Malachi; thus securing accuracy, and giving permanency to the inspiration for the benefit of succeeding ages. Hence the prophets often commanded to commit their revelations to writing. See Isaiah 8:1; Isaiah 30:8; Jeremiah 30:2; Habakkuk 2:2; Revelation 1:11; Revelation 21:5. Daniel not only “wrote the dream,” but “told the sum of the matters” to his friends and countrymen about him (Daniel 7:1). The prophets in general preachers as well as writers. Their hearers called their “children” and “disciples” (Isaiah 8:16-18). Figuratively, their “threshing” and the “corn of their floor” (Isaiah 21:10). The Sabbath and the new moon the ordinary days for their public ministration (2 Kings 4:23). Daniel, however, rather a prophet by gift than by office, and his communications to others, therefore, probably more private.

The effect of the vision on the prophet himself powerful and disturbing. “My cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me” (Daniel 7:28). So the corresponding vision afforded to Nebuchadnezzar “troubled his spirit” (chap. Daniel 2:1). Still stronger language used by Habakkuk, in describing the effect produced upon himself by the disclosure of the future communicated to him (Habakkuk 3:16).

The present vision, in some of its leading features, a repetition of that afforded fifty years before to Nebuchadnezzar, accompanied, however, with important additions; a circumstance tending to give special weight to the vision, and to draw particular attention to it; while confirmation was thus given to both visions, and the interpretation of each rendered both more easy and more memorable [151]. The vision given to Daniel and the Church for the sake of the additions), especially that relating to the “little horn.” The former part of the vision already clearly accomplished; the latter part manifestly approaching its fulfilment. The vision affords a compendious history of the world from the time of Daniel to that of Christ’s millennial kingdom, in so far as that history stands more immediately related to the Church both of the Old and New Testament. The Saviour’s exhortation in reference to another portion of Daniel’s prophecies, eminently applicable to this: “Let him that readeth understand.” David’s, or perhaps Daniel’s own prayer, here particularly suitable and necessary: “Open Thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law” (Psalms 119:18).

[151] According to Calvin, the repetition is given for greater clearness, and in token of the certainty of the prophecy. This repetition, Archdeacon Harrison remarks, is “according to the method of divine prediction, presenting at first a general sketch and outline, and afterwards a more complete and finished picture of events.” Sir Isaac Newton observes “that the prophecies of Daniel are all of them related to one another, as if they were but several parts of one general prophecy, given at several times;” and that “every following prophecy adds something new to the former.”

The subject of the vision is the four great or universal monarchies, here represented under the figure of so many wild beasts, as they were in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream under that of a great and splendid image, with its four parts composed of different materials; together with another and everlasting kingdom which should succeed them all. The four beasts are said in the interpretation to be “four kings,” or, as in the Greek version, “four kingdoms, that should arise out of the earth” (Daniel 7:17). The same object—the kingdoms of this world—thus presented under very different aspects to the carnal, worldly-minded monarch, and to the godly, spiritually-minded prophet. To the carnal, unrenewed man, the world appears as a dazzling show; to the spiritual and renewed, a hateful reality of ambition, selfishness, rapacity, cruelty, and oppression, resembling so many wild beasts contending for the mastery [152]. These four beasts or kingdoms, however, are only introduced to show what was God’s purpose in reference to the establishment of His own kingdom or that of the Messiah, which, like the stone in chap. 2, should remove and succeed them all, and which should last for ever.

[152] “Four great beasts.” “The image appeared with a glorious lustre in the imagination of Nebuchadnezzar, whose mind was wholly taken up with admiration of worldly pomp and splendour; whereas the same monarchies were represented to Daniel under the shape of fierce wild beasts, as being the great supporters of idolatry and tyranny in the world.”—Grotius. Auberlen points out more fully and profoundly the distinction between the two visions. “The outward political history had been shown in general features to the worldly ruler; for by his position he was peculiarly and almost exclusively fitted to receive a revelation of this kind. But the prophet obtains more minute disclosures, especially on the spiritual and religious character of the powers of the world, and such as were best adapted to his position and his receptivity. This difference of character easily explains the difference of images. While in the second chapter they are taken from the sphere of the inanimate, which has only an external side, they are chosen in the seventh chapter from the sphere of the animate. Further, as Nebuchadnezzar saw things only from without, the world-power appeared to him in its glory as a splendid human figure, and the kingdom, from its humility, as a stone: at first he beheld the world-power more glorious than the kingdom of God. Daniel, on the other hand, to whom it was given to penetrate farther into the inner essence of things, saw that the kingdoms of the world, notwithstanding their defiant power, are of a nature animal and lower than human; that their minds are estranged from and even opposed to God; that only in the kingdom of God is the true dignity of humanity revealed; and accordingly, the kingdom of God appears to him from the outset, and in the very selection of images, superior to the kingdoms of the world.… The colossal figure that Nebuchadnezzar beheld represents mankind in its own strength and greatness; but however splendid, it presents only the outward appearance of a man. But Daniel, regarding mankind in its spiritual condition, saw humanity, through its alienation from God, degraded to the level of reasonless animals, enslaved by the dark powers of nature.”

It is noticeable that the three beasts here mentioned by name are those which the Lord threatened by Hosea to send against Israel for their apostasy and sins, the lion, the leopard, and the bear, while a fourth was added as simply “a wild beast,” corresponding with the fourth in the vision without a name (Hosea 13:7-8); clearly indicating the relation which these world-kingdoms bear to Israel and the Church, as, in the hand and according to the pleasure of God, instruments of chastisement for unfaithfulness. Similar figures to indicate the powers of the world not unfrequently employed by the prophets. So Jeremiah 4:7; Jeremiah 5:6; Psalms 68:30. Men in their natural condition, as fallen and without the renewing grace of God, often similarly represented under the figure of savage beasts. (See Psalms 10:9-10; Psalms 57:4; Psalms 58:4; Psalms 58:6; Psalms 59:6.) In more senses than one men rendered by sin “like the beasts that perish.”

The four beasts in the vision are represented as coming up out of the great sea when thrown by opposing winds into tempestuous commotion (Daniel 7:23). Such a sea a picture of the great world of mankind in its alienation from God and consequent dispeace (Isaiah 48:22; Isaiah 57:21). The origin of the great monarchies of the world the conflicting passions and commotions among men. Nimrod “began (was the first) to be a mighty one in the earth: he was a mighty hunter before the Lord” (Genesis 10:8-9). The Mediterranean, on which Daniel had often looked when in his native country, often called “the Great Sea,” as distinguished from the smaller bodies of water in Palestine. It was on the borders or in the vicinity of that sea that the four great contending monarchies lay. The “four winds of the heaven,” by which the great sea was tossed into a tumult, probably intended to represent the external means and circumstances by which God in His holy providence operates on the nations and rulers of the world, thereby arousing them into action, while He wisely overrules and controls their own carnal passions.

It is also worthy to be observed that the number of monarchies represented both in the vision of the king and the prophet is the same, namely, four; an evidence itself of the divine origin of the book, when taken in connection with the remarkable fact that there have never been more than four great universal monarchies in the world, though some, as Charlemagne and Napoleon Buonaparte, have laboured hard to establish a fifth. The four, as already seen in connection with Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, are those of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome [153]. From this general view of the vision we may note—

[153] “This opinion,” observes Keil, “which has been recently maintained by Hävernick, Hengstenberg, Hofmann Auberlen, Zündel, Kliefoth, C. P. Caspari, and H. L. Reichel, alone accords, without any force or arbitrariness, with the representation of these kingdoms in both visions, with each separately, as well as with both together.” Compare Comm, on chap. Daniel 2:36-45, section ix. page 41.

1. The importance of the word of prophecy. The repetition of the prophecy regarding the four great monarchies and the divine kingdom that was to succeed them, itself significant. Given first in a dream to Nebuchadnezzar and then in a vision vouchsafed to Daniel himself, the repeated revelation of the same things, under different forms, seems a clear intimation how important for the Church this communication appeared to the Spirit of God, whose it is to “show us things to come.” What God has thus so carefully given it can neither be safe nor right for His people to neglect. Especially is this the case with a prophecy which we know to apply to the times in which we live, and which has been given for our comfort and guidance in these last days. The words forming the preface to the Book of Revelation applicable here also. “Blessed are they that read, and they that hear the prophecy of this book, and that keep the things that are written therein; for the time is at hand” (Revelation 1:2).

2. All history within the foreknowledge and under the control of God. This vision exhibits the great leading events of the world’s history from the time of Daniel, projected in the word of prophecy as on a map. Hence not only foreknown, but so overruled as infallibly to come to pass. This without the slightest prejudice to or interference with the freedom of man’s will, and so without any diminution of his responsibility. God’s foreknowledge and man’s freedom—God’s purposes and man’s responsibility—solemnly and mysteriously compatible with each other. Both alike realities, however unable we may be in our present state to reconcile them. Now we know only in part. The Jews, not knowing their own Scriptures, fulfilled the same by crucifying their King and Saviour, to their deep and dire condemnation, under which, alas! they still lie. “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:23). The hands still wicked hands though fulfilling the secret counsel and foreknowledge of God. The same thing true in regard to the events of general history and individual life. The providence that appoints the establishment or overthrow of an empire presides over the fall of a sparrow, fixes the bounds of our habitation, and numbers the hairs of our head.

3. The true character of the kingdoms of this world. To Daniel these appear not as dazzling image, but as savage and irrational beasts, the symbols of selfishness, cruelty, rapacity, and strife, obeying the impulses of appetite and passion instead of the dictates of reason and conscience. History makes good the picture. The universal admission that sin has reduced men to the level of beasts. Paul’s description of fallen men apart from divine grace, as given in the first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, verified by the testimony of the heathen themselves. “Full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity” (Romans 1:29). The divine verdict—“The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked”—realised by universal observation and experience. Time given fully to develop man’s need of a Saviour from sin before that Saviour came. Four thousand years only proved the divine testimony given at the time of the Flood to be true: “The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8:21; Genesis 6:5). Man was shown to be sick unto death—desperately, and, to all human effort, incurably wicked; and the Healer came. “He shall be called Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

HOMILETICS

SECT. XXIII.—THE FOUR GREAT EMPIRES (Chap. Daniel 7:3-7; Daniel 7:17-24)

“These great beasts, which are four,” said the interpreting angel, “are four kings which shall arise out of the earth” (Daniel 7:17). By the four kings we are to understand not four separate individuals, but, as the Greek version has it, four kingdoms or empires, succeeding each other, as in the vision of the Great Image (chap. 2) These, as already remarked, are almost universally understood to be the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Greek or Macedonian, and the Roman. We now notice these empires separately as here described, leaving the description of the Little Horn for another section.

I. The first or Babylonian Empire. The first of the four beasts which Daniel beheld rising up out of the earth was a lion with eagle’s wings (Daniel 7:4). This figure common among the sculptures of Nineveh and the ruins of Persepolis [154]. A winged lion a fit symbol of the first or Babylonian Empire [155]; a lion being expressive of its superiority, and its wings of the rapidity of its conquests. Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar, as its representative in its best days, described by the prophets as the instrument of God’s chastisement of His people under the figure of a lion. See Jeremiah 4:7; Jeremiah 5:6; Jeremiah 49:19; Jeremiah 50:17. In the Great Image the same monarchy is represented by the head of gold, gold being among metals what the lion is among beasts. The figure of an eagle, the king of birds, also employed by the prophets to represent Nebuchadnezzar and his conquests. See Jeremiah 48:40; Jeremiah 49:22; Ezekiel 27:2; Habakkuk 1:6. The rapidity of those conquests seen in the fact that while, at the period of his father’s death, the empire comprehended Chaldea, Assyria, Arabia, Syria, and Palestine, Nebuchadnezzar greatly augmented it after his accession to the throne, adding to his tributary dominions both Egypt and Tyre. Ancient historians agree in considering him by far the greatest monarch of the East. The prophet, however, as he gazed upon the symbol, observed a change to pass upon it. “I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth (marg., by which it was lifted up, &c.), and made to stand upon its feet as a man; and a man’s heart was given to it” (Daniel 7:4). An arrest was to be laid upon those conquests, and a state of humiliation and timidity to succeed them. Babylon’s monarchs were to be no longer lions, but as private men, deprived of power and strength. Possibly also an allusion is made to the humiliation connected with Nebuchadnezzar’s madness, and his ultimate deliverance from it. Succeeding reigns only brought disaster to the Babylonian Empire; and Belshazzar, its last king, was so far from being “lion-hearted,” that he was afraid to engage in open battle with the Persians, or to accept the challenge of Cyrus to single combat. He trembled and his knees smote each other at the sight of the writing on the wall. According to Jeremiah’s prophecy, he and his nobles “became as women” (Jeremiah 51:30). The lion of Babylon was to be “put in fear” that he might “know himself to be but a man” (Psalms 9:20) [156].

[154] “Like a lion, and had eagle’s wings” (Daniel 7:4). Herder, Münther, &c., have pointed out the peculiarly Babylonian character which the animal symbolism in Daniel bears; and the recent excavations among the ruins of Babylon and Nineveh contain so many confirmations of the book being written after the captivity, as they show shapes of animals by which we are involuntarily reminded of those occurring here, and which suggest the thought that an acquaintance with sculptures of this kind may have proved a psychological preparation for the visions in the seventh and eighth chapters.—Hengstenberg. At the entrance to a temple at Birs Nimroud, says Keil, there has been found (Layard, (Babylon and Nineveh) such a symbolical figure, viz., a winged eagle with the head of a man. But the representation of nations and kingdoms by the images of beasts is much more widely spread, and affords the prophetic symbolism the necessary analogues and substrata for the vision. The Assyrian King Assur-bani-pal, the Sardanapalus of the Greeks, says in the inscription of one of his cylinders, in reference to Elam or Persia: “I broke the winged lions and bulls watching over the temple, all there were. I removed the winged bulls attending to the gates of the temples of Elam.”

[155] “The first” (Daniel 7:4). Dr. Rule observes that as the fourth or Roman beast was to be the fourth upon earth, so the first or Babylonian must not only be the first of the kingdoms in this prophetical series, but also the first upon earth: which is historically true. About two thousand years before Daniel, the young population of the post-diluvian world, being then “of one language and of one speech,” journeyed from the east, found a plain in the laud of Shinar, dwelt there, began to build a city and a tower, and on their speech being confounded, were scattered abroad on the face of the earth. But the city remained with a sufficient population settled in it, the first built after the Deluge, and retaining the name Babel to mark the confusion of language which there took place. That city was the first central seat of power; and though the royal residence was for some time in Nineveh, and Babylonia was included within the empire of Assyria, Babylon recovered its primeval majesty, and was again the seat of empire from Nabopolassar to Belshazzar, and so rightly counted the first kingdom upon earth. Callisthenes, a friend of Alexander the Great, and his companion at Babylon, b.c. 331, sent thence to Aristotle a series of observations on eclipses made in that city, which reached back 1903 years, i.e., from 2234 b.c. The face of the sky had thus been read and recorded on that spot for near two thousand years.

[156] “A man’s heart was given to it” (Daniel 7:4). Keil thinks that this, as well as the preceding expression, “lifted up,” when lying prostrate on the ground, to the right attitude of a human being, denotes that the beast nature was transformed to that of a man; and that in this description of the change that occurred to the lion there is, without doubt, a reference to what is said of Nebuchadnezzar in chap. 4. Although the words may not, however, as Hofmann and others think, refer directly to Nebuchadnezzar’s insanity, as here it is not the king but the kingdom that is the subject, yet Nebuchadnezzar’s madness was for his kingdom the plucking off of its wings. The completeness of the decay of Babylon under the second empire appears in the fact related by Strabo, that when Alexander completed the conquest of that empire about 331 b.c., he found the great temple of Belus in so ruined a condition, that it would have required the labour of ten thousand men for two months to clear away the rubbish with which it was encumbered.

II. The second or Medo-Persian Empire. This is represented by a bear raising itself upon one side, with three ribs in its month (Daniel 7:5). The great universal monarchy that succeeded the Babylonian, already, in chap. 2, seen to be the Persian or Medo-Persian. Its symbol, portrayed upon its standard, from the known character of its princes and people [157], one of the most bloodthirsty of animals. Compare Isaiah 13:18. The bear at the same time a less courageous as well as a less noble and magnanimous animal than the lion, though exceedingly strong and voracious [158]. Hence, “Arise and devour,” &c. Corresponds to the breast and arms of the image, which were of silver, as being inferior to the Babylonian Empire, the head of gold. The bear raising itself upon one side [159], apparently expressive of the fact, that while this second empire was at first under the confederate kings of Media and Persia, the former had first the pre-eminence in the person of Darius, but after his death the Persians under Cyrus rose to the sole dominion. The two powers of Media and Persia or Elam, as united in the overthrow of Babylon, pointed to nearly two centuries before by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 13:17; Isaiah 21:2). These separate powers represented in the Great Image by the two arms, and their coalescence under Cyrus by the breast. The three ribs in the bear’s mouth, and the command to “arise and devour much flesh,” indicative of the rapacity and conquests of the Medo-Persian Empire. The three ribs have been supposed by Sir Isaac Newton and others to indicate Lydia with its capital Sardis—the country of Crœsus, Babylon, and Egypt, which Cyrus added to his conquests, without their properly belonging, however, to the body of his empire [160]; while others, as Calvin, have considered them to be Media, Assyria, and Babylonia. The inferiority of the second empire to the first, indicated as well in the symbol of the image as that of the beasts, apparent under the successors of Cyrus, who are known to have sadly degenerated, giving attention to pomp and show rather than to real strength and valour [161]. It lasted also a shorter time, having only continued 206, or at most 230 years from Darius, its first monarch, who ascended the throne B.C. 538, till its overthrow by Alexander the Great in 332.

[157] “A second like to a bear” (Daniel 7:5). Bishop Newton says: Cambyses, Ochus, and others of their princes, were indeed more like bears than men. Instances of their cruelty abound in almost all the historians who have written of their affairs, from Herodotus down to Ammianus Marcellinus, who describes them as proud, cruel, exercising the power of life and death over slaves and obscure plebeians. “They pull off the skin (says he) from men alive, in pieces or altogether.” The cruelty of their modes of punishment indicative of the cruelty of their character. Rollin relates that one of the royal judges, condemned to death for receiving a bribe, was to have his skin taken off and fastened on the seat where he used to sit and give judgment, to be a warning to his son, who was to occupy it after him. Witness also the lions’ den.

[158] “Arise, devour much flesh” (Daniel 7:5). Next to the lion, the bear is the strongest among animals; and, on account of its voracity, it was called by Aristotle ζῶον παμφάγον, “an all-devouring animal.”—Keil.

[159] “Raised up itself on one side.” The margin reads: “raised up one kingdom,” after R. Nathan, who has, “and it established a dominion,” with which Kranichfeld agrees. Keil objects to this as irreconcilable with the line of thought, and also because חַד (khadh) is not the indefinite article, but the numeral; and the thought that the beast established one dominion, or a united dominion, is in the highest degree strange; for the character of a united or compact dominion belongs to the second world-kingdom no more than to the first, while it cannot belong to a beast or kingdom to establish a kingdom at all. שְׁטַר (shetar), or rather, as in Syriac and the Targums, &#שְׂטַר סְטַר (setar), is rendered by the Sept. and other old translators, as well as by Saadias, “a side.” According to Calvin, who translates, “stood on one side,” the expression refers to the Persians having previously been without fame or reputation, as well as without wealth. Gesenius thinks it an image of the kingdom of the Medes being ordered by God, after having long lain, as it were, in ambush, to rise and attack Babylon. Keil, with Hofmann, Delitzsch, and Kliefoth, regards the figure as indicating, according to chaps. 2 and 8, the double-sidedness of this empire—the one side, the Median, being at rest after the efforts made for the erection of the world-kingdom; while the other, the Persian side, raises itself up, and then becomes higher than the first and prepared for new rapine.

[160] “Three ribs.” According to Xenophon, Cyrus, after the conquest of Babylon and Lydia, undertook an expedition in which he subdued all those nations which lie from the entrance into Syria as far as the Red Sea; while his next expedition was to Egypt, which he also subdued. Keil, with Hofmann, Ebrard, Zündel, and Kliefoth, understanding the bear as the Medo-Persian, and not merely the Median kingdom, considers the three ribs to denote the three kingdoms of Babylon, Lydia, and Egypt, conquered by the Medo-Persians.

[161] Xenophon relates that immediately upon the death of Cyrus his sons fell into dissension; cities and nations revolted, and everything tended to ruin. He adds the reflection, that the Persians and their allies have evidently less piety towards the gods, less dutiful regard to their relatives, less justice and equity in their dealings with others, and at the same time are more effeminate and less fitted for war than they were at their commencement as a nation.

III. The third or Grecian Empire. This represented by a leopard with four heads and four wings, and corresponding to the belly and thighs of brass in the Great Image. The Persian empire having gradually decayed under the successors of Cyrus, it at length entirely succumbed to the power of Greece under Alexander the Great. The eager and fiery nature of this renowned conqueror symbolised by the leopard, an animal remarkable for its swiftness and the eagerness with which it springs upon its prey. Rollin observes that after the siege of Tyre, the character of Alexander degenerated into debauchery and cruelty. When Gaza, after a protracted resistance, was at length taken, Alexander manifested the cruelty of his character by ordering a thousand of its inhabitants to be put to death, and its governor to be dragged round the walls by ropes passed through his heels till he died. The spots of the leopard supposed to indicate the variety of the nations that constituted the Grecian empire, as the four wings plainly pointed to the rapidity of the Grecian conquests [162]. The four heads the prophetic symbol of the well-known division of the Grecian Empire into four parts soon after Alexander’s death. After a series of intrigues and murders, with a view to the succession, in which his mother, his wife Roxana, his brother, and his son, all perished by a violent death, the empire fell into the hands of the four principal generals, who divided it between them—Cassander holding Macedon and Greece; Lysimachus, Thrace and Asia Minor; Ptolemy, Egypt, Palestine, and Arabia Petræa; and Seleucus, Syria and the remainder, including Upper Asia or the Eastern Empire. The two last, especially in relation to the Jewish people, the most prominent and important. The fourfold division of the Greek Empire distinctly exhibited in the vision of the Ram and He-goat in chap. Daniel 8:21-22.

[162] “Four wings of a fowl” (Daniel 7:6). The victories and triumphs of the Greeks in the Persian war are well known to the reader of history: how in the time of Darius Hystaspes, b.c. 490, an army of 300,000 Persians was defeated by 11,000 Greeks at Marathon; and how Xerxes, his successor, lost nearly the whole of his fleet at Salamis only ten years after, while the remainder of his troops, left to prosecute the war in Greece, were nearly all cut in pieces in the following year at the battle of Platæa, his fleet being defeated on the same day at Mycale. The decisive blow to the power of Persia, however, was not given till about a hundred and fifty years after by Alexander the Great, who, born at Pella, in Macedonia, b.c. 356, succeeded his father, Philip, as king of Macedon, when only twenty years of age. Appointed generalissimo of the Greeks, he undertook an expedition against the Persians, while Darius Codomannus, the last king of Persia, was on the throne; defeated with 35,000 men an army of 100,000 Persians on the banks of the Granicus, and gained a similar victory in the following year at Issus in Cilicia. The fall of all Asia Minor followed; and soon after that of insular or new Tyre, which Alexander took, according to the word of prophecy, by connecting the island with the mainland by means of a causeway formed out of the materials of old Tyre. The final blow was given to Persia at the battle of Arbela, in Assyria, b.c. 331, when the Persians were twenty times the number of the Greeks. “When you next address me,” said Alexander, in reply to an offer of capitulation by Darius, “call me not only king, but your king.” The conquests of the winged leopard did not, however, stop till, having subdued the Medes, Parthians, Hyrcanians, Bactrians, and Sogdians, he crossed the Indus with the intention of penetrating into India, and was only obliged to turn back by the unwillingness of his army to proceed any farther. As further illustrative of the truth of the image, it is said that his movements were so rapid that his enemies were usually taken by surprise, and that he was able to pursue them on horseback for days and nights together, like a panther after his prey. “Can Alexander, who can do all things, fly also? And has nature on a sudden given him wings?” asked the confident defender of a rocky height of the messenger sent by Alexander. The height, however, was taken. “You see,” said the conquerors, “Alexander’s soldiers have wings.”

IV. The fourth or Roman Empire. The fourth empire is represented by a beast without a name, as if no existing animal could be found sufficient for the symbol [163]. It is described “as diverse from all the rest; dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly, having great iron teeth; devouring, breaking in pieces, and stamping the residue with its feet” (Daniel 7:7). The corresponding part of the Great Image is the legs and feet, which were of iron, with a mixture of clay in the feet and toes; like the fourth beast, bruising and breaking to pieces. The identity of the empire symbolised in both cases obvious from the fact that the fourth beast is particularly represented as having ten horns, plainly corresponding with the ten toes of the image. According to the all but unanimous belief of both Jews and Christians, the empire indicated is that of Rome, which, as is well known, succeeded that of Greece. The iron in both the symbols indicative of the sternness of the people, and of the strength, duration, and destructiveness of the empire. The ten horns which characterised the fourth beast, like the ten toes of the image, symbolical of ten kingdoms which should be formed out of the empire in its state of weakness and decay [164]. Compare what is said in reference to the toes of the Great Image. It may only farther be noticed here in regard to the ten horns, that this circumstance connected with the fourth beast appears plainly to identify that beast with another mentioned in Revelation 12:1; Revelation 18:3; Revelation 18:12, whose ten horns are also said to be “ten kings,” but which had “received no kingdom as yet” (Revelation 17:12), that is, at the time the vision was given to the apostle; which makes it further manifest that the fourth beast or empire could be no other than the Roman. A new feature, and one of the most remarkable, being that for which more especially this second vision of the four great empires was given, is the rise of another or eleventh horn, called the “little horn,” but which in its character, pretensions, and actual doings was the most formidable of all, and with which more than all the rest the Church of God was to have to do. As this will be considered in a section by itself, we may only notice the following thoughts as suggested by the prophecy of the four beasts.

[163] “A fourth beast, diverse from all the others” (Daniel 7:7; Daniel 7:19). Thought by some of the Jews to be the wild boar, according to Psalms 80:13. Not named, says Theodoret, from the changeable form of its government, kings, generals, tribunes, &c. According to Jerome, from its supereminent cruelty. Its diverseness from the others, Calvin ascribes to the composite character of the Roman people, the senatorial, equestrian, and plebeian ranks. That the Roman empire is intended the all but universal opinion. Some Jews, as Aben Ezra and R. Saadias, wish to make it the Turkish empire, including the Roman in the third, in order to avoid the conclusion that the Messiah has already appeared. Pfaff thinks that both the tyranny of the Turks and of the Popes is included under this fourth beast. Calvin thinks only of the Roman empire up to the first Advent of Christ. Willet, after Polychronius, Junius, Polanus, and others, interprets it of the kingdom of Syria, in which ten kings succeeded each other, the last of whom they suppose was Antiochus Epiphanes, the little horn; though typically of the Roman empire foreshadowed under it, John’s vision of the beast (Revelation 13:1), or the Roman empire, having reference to this of Daniel.

[164] “And in had ten horns.” Some have understood the number ten as indefinite, indicating, as Augustine thinks, the whole of the kings in the Roman empire up to the coming of Antichrist; or, as Calvin, the several provinces or kingdoms of that empire; or as others, the kingdoms into which the Roman empire was divided and dissolved on its first partition into the Eastern and Western empires. Most, however, consider it to be a certain number. Some think of the kings who in the end should divide the empire between them. Thus Jerome says, “Let us say, what all ecclesiastical writers have handed down, that in the consummation of the world, when the kingdom of the Romans is about to be destroyed, there will be ten kings who shall divide the Roman world among them.” Irenæus had said in the second century, “Daniel, looking to the end of the last kingdom, that is, the ten kings among whom shall be divided the empire of those upon whom the Son of Perdition shall come, saith that ten horns did grow upon the beast. And more manifestly still hath John, the disciple of our Lord, signified concerning the last time and the ten kings which are in it, among whom shall be divided the kingdom which now reigns, explaining in the Apocalypse what were the ten horns which were seen by Daniel;” thus showing, as Archdeacon Harrison remarks, “how the earliest Christian expositors identified with the imagery before us that which reappears in the visions of the Apocalypse.” Most understand the ten kingdoms into which the Roman empire was divided in consequence of the invasion of the Northern nations. J. D. Michaelis remarks that “the number of the kingdoms in the great community of Europe moves, so to speak, fluctuatingly about this round number (ten), being sometimes more and sometimes less.” Hengstenberg thinks, however, that probably, at the time of the final fulfilment, the number ten will be a definite one. Auberlen observes that the reference in the Revelation to this fourth beast of Daniel “overthrows the whole modern view of the fourth beast (being the Greek kingdom), and of the four beasts in general; it overthrows hereby, secondly, the theory that the prophecies of Daniel are limited to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes; and it consequently overthrows, thirdly, the chief argument brought forward against the genuineness of our book.” “Rationalism,” observes Dr. Pusey, “has come round to the same view.” “I agree,” says Bleek, “with Auberlen, that the ten horns of the fourth beast cannot be meant of ten successive Syrian kings (as Bertholdt, V. Lengerke, Maurer, Hitzig, and Delitzsch think); nor of ten kings, some Syrian and some Egyptian (as Rosenmüller, &c., and Porphyry of old); but rather of the single portions into which the kingdom was divided.”

In like manner Rosenmüller and some other Germans endeavoured to make this beast to be the Greek empire in Asia after Alexander’s death. But Bleek, who is one of them, admits, “We are induced by Daniel 7:8, where it is said of the little horn that it would rise up between the ten horns, to think of ten contemporaneous kings, or rather kingdoms, existing along with each other, which rise out of the fourth kingdom.” Therefore he will “not deny that the reference to the successors of Alexander is rendered obscure by the fact that chap. 8. speaks of four monarchies which arise out of that of Alexander after his death.” In opposition to the view that the parts of Alexander’s kingdom which became independent kingdoms might be numbered in different ways, and the number ten be made out from the number of the generals who retained the chief provinces, Zündel justly observes: “These kingdoms could only have significance if this number, instead of being a selection from the whole, had been itself the whole. But this is not the case. For at that time the kingdom, according to Justin, was divided into more than thirty parts.” According to Dr. Todd and the Futurists, the power indicated is one yet to be developed, as the precursor of the final Antichrist. Sir Isaac Newton observes that the Romans conquered the kingdom of Macedon, Illyricum, and Epirus in the eighth year of Antiochus Epiphanes, b.c. 167; that of Pergamos thirty-five years afterwards; Syria sixty-four years later, and Egypt after other thirty-nine years; and that by these and other conquests the fourth beast became greater and more terrible than any of the three preceding ones. Dionysius Halicarnassus, after enumerating the earlier empires of the world, the Assyrian or Babylonian, the Persian, and the Grecian, says, “The empire of the Romans pervades all regions of the earth which are not inaccessible, but are inhabited by mankind; it reigns also over the whole sea, and is the first and only one that has made the east and west its boundaries; and that there is no people that does not recognise Rome as the universal mistress, or that refuses to submit to its dominion.” Professor Bush says, “As the fourth beast of Daniel lives and acts through the space of 1260 years (the ‘time, times, and dividing, or half of a time,’ Daniel 7:25), and as the seven-headed and ten-horned beast of John prevails through the same period, I am driven to the conclusion that they adumbrate precisely the same thing—that they are merely different aspects of the same reality; and this I have no question is the Roman empire.” Keil observes, after an elaborate proof of his premises: “Since, then, neither the division of the Medo-Persian kingdom into the Median and the Persian is allowable, nor the identification of the fourth kingdom (chaps. 2. and 7.) with the Javanic (the Greek or Macedonian) world-kingdom in chap. 8., we may regard as correct the traditional Church view that the four world-kingdoms are the Chaldean (or Babylonian), the Medo-Persian, the Grecian, and the Roman.”

1. The fulfilment of this prophecy an unquestionable fact, and as such, an evidence of the reality of prophecy in the sense of prediction, and of the divinity of at least this part of the Old Testament Scripture The fulfilment of prophecy employed by God Himself as an evidence of His deity (Isaiah 41:22-23; Isaiah 41:26; Isaiah 45:21; Isaiah 46:9-10). Declared to be the criterion of a divine messenger, except when the object is to lead away from God’s worship and revealed truth (Deuteronomy 18:21-22; Deuteronomy 13:1; Deuteronomy 13:3; Isaiah 8:20). The fulfilment of the prophecy before us undeniable, notwithstanding all attempts to set it aside. This and other predictions of Daniel acknowledged even by enemies to be true up to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, one of the Syrian kings in the third or Grecian empire, but denied to have been written before that period, and therefore maintained to be mere history and not prophecy. But the prophecy as truly fulfilled after that period as before it, and receiving its fulfilment at the present time. The fourth empire and the predicted facts connected with it more remarkable than any of its three predecessors, and to human foresight impossible to have been calculated upon. Yet that empire and those facts a reality which is before our eyes at the present day. An empire of iron crushing strength succeeding a third, acknowledged to be that of Greece, and in its latter period becoming weak by foreign admixture, and divided into ten kingdoms, with one rising up among them or after them of a description totally different from all the rest. These are simple facts, and found in a prediction delivered twenty-four centuries ago. With the convinced magicians of Egypt we may well exclaim, “This is the finger of God.” “I have told you before it come to pass, that when it is come to pass ye might know that I am He” (John 13:29).

2. The certainty of predicted events that have not yet taken place. Past fulfilment only makes the word of prophecy “more sure” or confirmed, that we may “take heed” to it, as to a “light shining in a dark place” (2 Peter 1:19). While much of the present chapter, as well as of other prophecy, has been fulfilled, much of it still awaits its fulfilment. The destruction of the fourth beast with its “little horn” has not yet taken place, nor has its body yet been “given to the burning flame;” the Son of Man has not yet come “with the clouds of heaven;” nor has the kingdom been “given to the saints of the Most High.” Yet, as certainly as one part of the vision has been fulfilled, so certainly shall the other. Eighteen centuries ago, Jesus, after He had ascended with the clouds into heaven, said, “Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me, to give to every man as his work shall be.” As surely as the fourth predicted beast with its iron teeth came into existence and devoured and brake in pieces, so surely shall it be destroyed and its body given to the burning flame, and Jesus Christ come again with the clouds of heaven and take the kingdom, and the kingdom be given to the saints of the Most High, who shall reign with Christ for ever and ever (Daniel 7:11; Daniel 7:13-14; Daniel 7:18; Revelation 5:10; Revelation 11:15).

3. Matter for thanksgiving and rejoicing that the kingdoms of this world are to be succeeded by one of a very different character. The kingdoms of the world are those of the four beasts, wherever they may have their place. These kingdoms naturally characterised by sin and suffering. Such the experience of the world up to the present time. The history of these kingdoms written in tears and blood; but they are not to be for ever. Three of the four have, as predicted long ago, come to their end. The fourth, which in its divided form is now going on, is not to be everlasting. The everlasting one is yet to come. Its foundations have already long ago been laid, but as yet it is far from being the mountain that is to fill the whole earth. But the time of this consummation hastens apace. The kingdom that is “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost” will ere long constitute the monarchy of the Man Christ Jesus, the King of the Jews, which shall fill the earth and last for ever. Men shall yet everywhere be blessed in Christ, and all nations call Him blessed. The sure word of prophecy gladdens the Church with the hope of good times coming—glory to God in the highest, with peace on earth, under the reign of Him who is the Prince of Peace.

Verse 8

HOMILETICS

SECT. XXIV.—THE LITTLE HORN (Chap. Daniel 7:8; Daniel 7:19-25)

We now come to that part of Daniel’s vision which especially distinguishes it from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. The king only saw the feet of the image divided into ten toes: Daniel not only sees ten horns proceeding from the head of the fourth beast, corresponding with these ten toes, but another horn additional to these, which, though appearing as a “little horn,” engaged the special attention of the prophet, and constitutes the leading object in the vision. The character of the kingdoms of the world was to be concentrated in that horn or the power represented by it, and it was from it that the Church of God was mainly to suffer [165]. As a “horn,” it was to be a power like the rest; that term, expressive of the powerful weapon of many animals, being figuratively employed in the Scripture to denote power or strength, and so a kingdom or a sovereignty. See Deuteronomy 33:17; Psalms 18:2; Luke 1:69. In relation to the “little horn” we have to notice—

[165] “It is in the fearful shape of the last beast that the world-power will fully manifest that its whole nature is opposed to God. But as the interest which attaches to the four monarchies is led rapidly over the first three to centre in the last, so, for the same reason, in considering the last we are led to the final shape.… The description introduces these horns merely to show how an eleventh has sprung up in their midst, a king in whom the full haughty hatred and rebellion against God, His people, and His service, finds its representative.… The essential nature of the kingdoms of the world appears concentrated in the fourth kingdom; the nature of the fourth kingdom, in like manner, in its last worldly ruler. Thus it is only at the end that the peculiar character of the world-power, “the mystery of iniquity,” is unveiled, and we recognise in the eleventh horn no other than he whom Paul calls “the Man of Sin” and “the Son of Perdition” (2 Thessalonians 2:0.) Here, for the first time in the development of revelation, the idea of Antichrist is clearly unfolded; because here, for the first time, the entire course of the development of the godless and God-opposing world is clearly surveyed down to the very end.”—Auberlen. So Dr. Pusey, who also sees in the Little Horn mainly an Antichrist yet to come.” “Why should there not be under the fourth empire an antagonism to the true God, concentrated in and directed by one individual, as it was in and by Antiochus in the third? Human nature repeats itself. What man has done, man will do. We Christians look for an Antichrist yet to come. Our Lord forewarned of him and his deceivableness. St. Paul describes such an one as Daniel speaks of.” We must not, however, overlook the Antichrist of the past and the present, while even as Protestants we may also acknowledge an Antichrist yet to come.

I. Its rise. It is said to rise among the other ten horns, and so to be contemporaneous with them; and also after or behind them, and so in the time of its appearance posterior to the rest, as well as gradual in its growth and for a time unobserved. Before it, three of the ten were “plucked up by the roots and fell,” or, as it is interpreted by the angel, it subdued three out of the ten kings or kingdoms, and so made room for itself by occupying their place (Daniel 7:8; Daniel 7:10; Daniel 7:24). The other horns obtained their place as kingdoms out of the body of the fourth beast or Roman empire; this one was to obtain its place out of that beast only indirectly, by gaining it out of the others.

II. Its character and description.

(1.) A “little” horn; small in comparison with the rest, especially in its commencement, and humble, perhaps, in its profession.

(2.) “Diverse from the rest;” its diversity consisting in this, that it had “eyes” in it, like the eyes of a “man,” and a “mouth speaking great things,”—the eyes and the mouth sufficiently indicating a human being as represented by it [166], and a power of a peculiar character; the eyes of a man, not of a god; lamb-like, though speaking as a dragon (Revelation 13:11.)

(3.) The mouth uttered “great words against the Most High;” hence proud, arrogant, and blasphemous; while from the eyes was a “look more stout than his fellows,” also indicative of pride and haughtiness above that of the other powers, and an overbearing demeanour in respect to them.

(4.) He was to “make war with the saints of the Most High, to wear them out, and prevail against them;” a persecuting power, and one whose persecutions should be persevering and successful, against such as adhered to a holy life and the worship of God according to His Word.
(5.) He was to “think to change times and laws;” lofty in his pretensions, as superior to laws both human and divine, and affecting a power which is the prerogative of God (chap. Daniel 2:21).

5. The saints were to be “given into his hand” for a definite period, prophetically and enigmatically described as a “a time, times, and the dividing of a time;” his power over the saints or true worshippers of God to be absolute for a time, but that time a limited one. “To form a well-grounded judgment regarding the appearance of this last enemy,” observes Keil, “we must compare the description given of him here with the apocalyptic description of the same enemy under the image of the beast out of the sea or out of the abyss” (Revelation 13:1-8; Revelation 17:7-13); and we may add, with the description of the “Man of Sin” given by the apostle (2 Thessalonians 2:4, &c.), with an obvious allusion to the passage before us.

[166] “Eyes like the eyes of man.” “Eyes and seeing with eyes are the symbols of insight, circumspection, and prudence. The eyes of a man, not merely to indicate that the horn signified a man, which was already distinctly enough shown by the fact of eyes, &c., being attributed to it, nor yet to distinguish it from a beast; but in opposition to a higher celestial being, for whom it might, from the terribleness of its rule and government, be mistaken.”—Keil. Others have viewed the expression as indicative of the assumed blandness that accompanied papal arrogance, and the sharp look-out kept by the popes on their own and their families’ interests, as well as those of the Church.

III. Its identification. This power intended to be identified as truly as the four beasts themselves. The minute and varied description obviously given with this view. This description, including both its rise and character, ought apparently to leave no room for doubt as to what is intended by it, and no difficulty in identifying it when the power indicated should appear. The question is, has such a power already appeared, or are we still to look for it? The latter unlikely, as the fourth beast, from which it springs, has confessedly appeared two thousand years ago, and the ten kingdoms, among and behind which it was to rise, have probably been in existence about fourteen centuries. Has, then, any power appeared during that period to which the description is at all applicable, and to which it has been applied? There is a well-known power to which the description has appeared so applicable, that for more than three hundred years the description has been actually and unhesitatingly applied to it by almost all who have studied this passage, with the exception, of course, of those who are in any way connected with the power itself; although it is probable that the horn may not even yet have fully developed itself [167]. That power is the Papacy, with the Bishop of Rome as its head and representative [168]; for nearly thirteen centuries a temporal power, like the other horns, though now no longer such [169]; but so diverse from them as to be at the same time a spiritual power, while the rest were only secular ones. The identity has appeared—

[167] Jerome and the fathers, as well as De Lyra, Hugo, and Roman Catholic writers generally, interpret the little horn of the Antichrist, who should come in the end of the world, after the Roman empire is destroyed. Some of the Reformers, as Melanchthon and Osiander, understood it of the Turkish empire. Calvin thinks that historically this prophecy of the Little Horn was fulfilled before the coming of the Messiah into the world, in the person of Julius Cæsar, Augustus, and the other emperors; but that it may, by analogy, be applied, as it was by some, to the Pope or to the Turks; “and these applications,” he says, “by way of analogy I mislike not.” Œcolampadius understood it of the Pope in the West, and the Turkish empire in the East. Bullinger, and the Reformers in general, applied the prophecy entirely to the Papacy. Junius, Polanus, and Willet understood it historically of Antiochus Epiphanes, but typically of Antichrist. Dr. Lee, of Cambridge, applies it to heathen Rome and the persecuting emperors from Nero to Constantine. The Futurists, with Roman Catholic writers, understand it of an Antichrist yet to come.
[168] Dr. Rule observes that the description given of the Little Horn exactly answers to the Papacy, and regards the assumption of absolute sovereignty over the city and territory of Rome by Pope Innocent III. as the uprising of it, a sovereign pontiff over a temporal dominion, armed also with military powers. “Here,” says Muratori, in relating this event, “expired the last breath of the Augusti in Rome; and henceforth the prefects of Rome, the Senate, and the other magistrates, swore fealty to the Roman Pontiff only.” Professor Bush says, “This Little Horn is unquestionably the ecclesiastical power of the Papacy. This horn did not come till after the empire received its deadly wound by the hands of the Goths.”

[169] That the Bishop of Rome became a temporal ruler, receiving his place and rank as such among and soon after the other rulers of the kingdoms formed out of the dismembered Roman empire, every one knows. One of the most remarkable events of recent years was the entire cessation of this temporal sovereignty of the Pope, when in 1870, after the French Emperor had withdrawn his troops from Rome, Victor Emmanuel, as king of Italy, at the voice of the people, assumed the entire government of the country, leaving Pius IX. only the Vatican and its precincts for his residence; the Pope exclaiming against the act as one of wicked sacrilege and spoliation, and endeavouring to rouse all Catholic Europe to aid him in recovering the lost “patrimony of St. Peter.” The Times of the period said, “In the same year the Papacy has assumed the highest spiritual exaltation to which it could aspire, and lost the temporal sovereignty which it had held for a thousand years.”

1. In the rise of the Papacy. The Little Horn rose among, and at the same time after or behind, the other ten; while three of these were plucked up and fell before it, so that their place was occupied by it, or, as interpreted by the angel, three kingdoms, states, or powers were subdued by it [170]. It is known that it was while the Northern nations were establishing for themselves kingdoms out of the decaying Roman empire that the Bishops of Rome also became temporal rulers, and that they did so after occasioning the fall of some of those rulers, probably those of Lombardy, Ravenna, and Rome, whose territories then became their own under the name of the States of the Church [171]. A writer on prophecy remarks: “The Little Horn came up among the ten horns, of which three fell before it. This determines the appearance of the Little Horn to be not before the appearance of the ten, of which not one came into being till after the year 487 of the Christian era, until which time the Roman empire continued under its emperors, undivided into any of those ten kingdoms which arose afterwards. At that time Augustulus, the last Emperor of the West, was forced to resign; and for three hundred years the empire remained without even a nominal head.” It is in remarkable agreement with this fact that Paul speaks of the “Man of Sin” as being hindered at that time from revealing himself by something which he does not name, but which would one day be taken out of the way; that hindrance being doubtless the Roman imperial power, which for obvious reasons Paul did not think it expedient to name. The circumstance of the three horns or states being rooted up to make way for the temporal power of the Papacy seems openly declared in the “triple crown” which the Pope still continues to wear.

[170] “Before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots.” “He shall subdue three kings” (Daniel 7:8; Daniel 7:24). יְהַשְׁפִּיל (yehashpil), “shall overthrow, deprive of sovereignty.”—Keil. Some have understood the number three as indefinite. So Calvin and Œcolampadius, but understanding it as denoting much or many. Most have viewed it as a definite number. Jerome and others after him understood the three horns to be Egypt, Africa, and Ethiopia, which were to be subdued by Antichrist. Melanchthon thought of Egypt, Syria, and Cilicia, to be taken by the Turks; while Osiander and Pfaff understood them to be Asia, Greece, and Egypt. Bullinger, applying the prophecy to the Papacy, regarded the three horns as the Emperor Leo, or the Exarchate of Ravenna, taken by Gregory II.; Childeric, king of France, deposed by Pope Zachary; and the Lombards with the government they obtained from Leo III. Dr. Rule considers them to be the Roman Senate and people, with the so-called patrimony of St. Peter, gained a.d. 498; Apulia, otherwise called Naples, and Sicily, obtained in 1266. He observes that, simultaneously with these acquisitions, the work of persecution, foretold in the next verses, rapidly advanced. According to Mr. Birks, the three horns were the kingdom of the Heruli under Odoacer, that of the Ostrogoths under Theodoric, who at the instigation of the Pope overthrew the former, and took possession of that part of Italy forming the Exarchate of Ravenna, which again, at the Pope’s instance, was overthrown by Belisarius and Narses, lieutenants of the Emperor Justinian; the third power overthrown being that of the Lombards under Alboin and Aistulph. To obtain freedom from the threatened yoke of the Lombards, and to secure still farther the possession of a temporal dominion, the Pope made his appeal to Pepin, son of Charles Martel, as well as to Charles (Charlemagne) and Carloman, the three kings of the Franks. “Pepin and Charlemagne willingly undertook the task of uprooting the Lombard kingdom, the last enemy that stood in the way of the ambitious See.” After the surrender of Pavia, “the last obstacle was now removed, and the popes rose at length to temporal dominion, and obtained a firm and settled place among the powers and kingdoms of the Western Empire. ‘The Church’s ancient patrimony of farms and houses,’ says Gibbon, ‘was transformed by the bounty of the Carlovingians into the temporal dominion of cities and provinces; and the donation of the Exarchate was the first-fruits of the victories of Pepin.’ The ample province of the Exarchate, granted to the Papacy by the usurper Pepin, might comprise all the provinces of Italy which had obeyed the Emperor and his vicegerent; but its strict and proper limits were included in the territory of Ravenna, Bologna, and Ferrara, and its inseparable dependency was the Pentapolis.”

[171] The following are extracts from Clement’s letter, written towards the end of the first century, to allay some disturbances in the Church at Corinth in regard to the pastorate. “These things, beloved, we write not only to admonish you of your duty, but to admonish ourselves, for we are in the same race and conflict. Wherefore, let us abandon vain and empty cares, and advance to the glorious and venerable rule of our calling. Let us look to what is beautiful, and pleasing, and acceptable in the eyes of our Creator. Let us fix our eyes on the blood of Christ, and consider how precious to God is that blood, which, having been shed for our salvation, has offered the grace of repentance to all the world.… Christ belongs to those who conduct themselves humbly, not those who exalt themselves over His flock with pride and arrogance.… Let us attach ourselves to those to whom grace has been given by God. Let us put on concord with moderation of mind, endued with the gift of self-control. Temerity, arrogance, and audacity belong to those who are accursed of God; moderation, humility, and meekness to those who are blessed of Him.… The apostles, preaching the Word through regions and cities, proving their first-fruits in the Spirit, appointed bishops and deacons of those who believed. The apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that contentions would arise about the name of the episcopate, and on that account, being endowed with perfect foreknowledge, they appointed persons previously indicated, and left successions of ministers and officers afterwards described, that other approved men might succeed to their place and discharge their offices. Look diligently into the Scriptures. Take into your hands the epistles of the blessed Apostle Paul. Consider what he wrote to you near the very beginning of his preaching the gospel. Being certainly divinely inspired, he reminded you in an epistle concerning himself, Cephas, and Apollos, that even then there were seditions and party feelings among you.… Whosoever is zealous, pitiful, and full of love among you, let him say, ‘If any sedition, contention, or division, has arisen through me, I will depart; I will go away whithersoever you wish; I will do whatever is commanded by the people; that only the flock of Christ may live in peace with the elders (or presbyters) that have been appointed over them.’ ”

“The tempter,” says Gavazzi, “came over the Alps in the Gallic Pepin; he showed from a pinnacle of earthly power and aggrandisement the kingdoms of this world, and pledged himself to secure their homage, if, falling prostrate before God’s adversary, ‘Christ’s Vicar’ should adore him. The sacrilegious bargain was struck; the ark of the Lord was placed in the temple of Dagon; the bishops of Rome, who over and over again suffered death rather than offer incense to Pagan idols, fell into the palpable snare of Satan; and the hand that bore on its finger the brightest of sacerdotal gems in the ‘ring of the fisherman’ was outstretched, with scandalous avidity, to burn a fatal frankincense on the altar of secular ambition. A visible change fell on the Papacy. The gory crown of martyrdom was exchanged for the glittering tiara.”

Mr. Mede supposed the three “uprooted” or “depressed” horns to be, first, the Greeks, that is, the entire kingdom of Italy, which in 554 was ended by the Exarchate or dependent government of the Greek emperor, which continued for fifteen years; second, the Lombards, who possessed the country for about 200 years; and, third, the Franks, who stretched their authority into the immediate vicinity of Rome.

2. In the character of the Papacy.

(1.) The horn was a “little” one. The territory of the Papacy has always been small in comparison with that of the other powers, never exceeding the extent of an Italian province. The Pope properly and originally a humble minister of Jesus Christ, on a level with the other bishops or presiding ministers of the Churches, and possessing no territory or temporal jurisdiction whatever; so “little” that the apostle does not even salute or mention him in his Epistle to the Church at Rome. The Epistle of Clement, one of the first Bishops of Rome, if not the very first, written to the Church of Corinth, breathes the very spirit of humility [172], a humility which is affected by his successors, while each calls himself the “servant of servants” and a successor of “the fisherman.”

[172] The following are extracts from Clement’s letter, written towards the end of the first century, to allay some disturbances in the Church at Corinth in regard to the pastorate. “These things, beloved, we write not only to admonish you of your duty, but to admonish ourselves, for we are in the same race and conflict. Wherefore, let us abandon vain and empty cares, and advance to the glorious and venerable rule of our calling. Let us look to what is beautiful, and pleasing, and acceptable in the eyes of our Creator. Let us fix our eyes on the blood of Christ, and consider how precious to God is that blood, which, having been shed for our salvation, has offered the grace of repentance to all the world.… Christ belongs to those who conduct themselves humbly, not those who exalt themselves over His flock with pride and arrogance.… Let us attach ourselves to those to whom grace has been given by God. Let us put on concord with moderation of mind, endued with the gift of self-control. Temerity, arrogance, and audacity belong to those who are accursed of God; moderation, humility, and meekness to those who are blessed of Him.… The apostles, preaching the Word through regions and cities, proving their first-fruits in the Spirit, appointed bishops and deacons of those who believed. The apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that contentions would arise about the name of the episcopate, and on that account, being endowed with perfect foreknowledge, they appointed persons previously indicated, and left successions of ministers and officers afterwards described, that other approved men might succeed to their place and discharge their offices. Look diligently into the Scriptures. Take into your hands the epistles of the blessed Apostle Paul. Consider what he wrote to you near the very beginning of his preaching the gospel. Being certainly divinely inspired, he reminded you in an epistle concerning himself, Cephas, and Apollos, that even then there were seditions and party feelings among you.… Whosoever is zealous, pitiful, and full of love among you, let him say, ‘If any sedition, contention, or division, has arisen through me, I will depart; I will go away whithersoever you wish; I will do whatever is commanded by the people; that only the flock of Christ may live in peace with the elders (or presbyters) that have been appointed over them.’ ”

(2.) It was “diverse from the first” (Daniel 7:24), having the eyes and mouth of a man. The difference of the Papacy from the other powers, as already noticed, conspicuous in this, that it was at the same time both a temporal and a spiritual power, the Pope being both a secular prince and a spiritual teacher, or, as Gibbon expresses it, “a Christian bishop invested with the prerogatives of a temporal prince.” The Pope claimed both swords, the civil and the ecclesiastical; a combination perhaps indicated in the Revelation by the two separate beasts, the one rising out of the sea and the other out of the earth (Revelation 13:1-11), or in the fact that the latter had two horns like a lamb, while it spake like a dragon (Daniel 7:11).

(3 ) “His look was more stout than his fellows” (Daniel 7:20). It is well known what anathemas were fulminated by the Popes against all who refused to acknowledge their supremacy or submit to their authority; how kings were deposed and their kingdoms placed under interdicts which deprived them of religious ordinances, their subjects released from their allegiance, and their crown given to another. This “stout look,” and the claim of making and unmaking kings at pleasure, conspicuous in the person of Gregory VII. (A.D. 1073). “I have received,” said he, “from God the power of binding and of loosing in heaven and in earth; and by this power I forbid Henry (the Fourth, Emperor of Germany) the government of the whole realm of Germany and Italy. I also loose all Christians from the oaths they have taken to him; and I decree that no man shall obey him as king” [173]. Among the “stout words” of the Papacy are the following, spoken by the same Gregory: “The Roman Pontiff alone can be called universal. He alone has a right to use imperial ornaments. Princes are bound to kiss his feet, and his feet only. He has a right to depose emperors. No book can be called canonical without his authority. His sentence can be annulled by none, but he may annul the decrees of all.” It is also to be remembered that the popes claim infallibility.

[173] These were not empty words. Henry, driven to despair, in a winter of unusual severity, crossed the Alps with the determination of seeking the Pope’s forgiveness and reconciliation. Gregory was at Canossa, a fortress near Reggio. The Emperor was admitted without hit guards into an outer courtof the castle, where he was kept standing for three successive days, from morning to evening, in a woollen shirt, and with bare feet, while Gregory, shut up with the Countess, refused to admit him into his presence. On the fourth day he obtained absolution, but only on condition that he appeared on a certain day to receive the Pope’s decision as to whether or not he should be restored to his kingdom, till which time he was not to assume the insignia of royalty. It was this same Pope who endeavoured to compel William the Conqueror to do homage for the crown of England, and who menaced Philip I. of France with deposition. The language and bearing of Adrian IV., in 1155, to the Emperor Frederick was of a similar character. The Pope insisted on the Emperor becoming his equerry and holding his stirrup while he mounted. “To place your name before ours,” said he to the Emperor, “is arrogance, is insolence; and to cause bishops to render homage to you, those whom the Scripture calls gods, sons of the Most High, is to want that faith which you have sworn to St. Peter and to us. Hasten then to amend, lest that, in taking to yourself what does not belong to you, you lose the crown with which we have gratified you.”

(4.) “It had eyes like the eyes of man” (Daniel 7:8). The very title of bishop, which is simply “overseer,” as in Acts 20:28 and 1 Peter 5:3, is in perfect agreement with this mark of the horn. The popes, as bishops or overseers, being spiritual teachers, are supposed to be endowed with wisdom and knowledge to qualify them for their office, of which the eyes of a man are a well-known symbol [174].

[174] See note (2).

(5.) The horn had also “a mouth speaking great things,” even “great words against the Most High.” The first of these expressions indicates pride and arrogance, the latter blasphemy. The Papal bulls leave little room for doubt as to the applicability of the former to the Papacy. “The tribunals of kings,” say they, “are subject to the sacerdotal power.” “Since the Holy Roman Church, over which Christ has willed that we preside, is set for a mirror and example, whatever it has decreed, whatever it now ordains, must be perpetually and irrefragably observed by all men.” The words spoken against or (as the word is also rendered) as the Most High [175] are such as tend to set God aside. These have not been wanting in the lips of the Papacy. “The Roman Pontiff,” says Pope Stephen, “is to judge all men, and to be judged by no man.” “The Pope is styled God,” says Pope Nicholas, “by the pious prince; and it is manifest that God cannot be judged by man.” This mark may be truly regarded as made good, as Bishop Newton observes, by the popes “setting up themselves against all laws human and divine, arrogating to themselves godlike attributes and titles, and exacting obedience to their ordinances and decrees.” A bull of Pope Boniface declares that “all the faithful of Christ are, by necessity of salvation, subject to the Roman Pontiff, who has both swords, and judges all men, but is judged by none” [176]. Again we have to remember the claim to infallibility by the Pope, that infallibility having been recently made an article of faith in the Romish Church.

[175] “Against the Most High.” לְצַד (le-tsadh), “at the side of.” Keil observes that this term properly means against or at the side of, and is more expressive than עַל (‘al); denoting that he would use language by which he would set God aside, and would regard and give himself out as God. Compare 2 Thessalonians 2:4.

[176] It is this Pope of whom Gavazzi, in the oration already quoted from, says, “Swelling with the pride and pomp of Satanic inflation, Boniface VIII., having fouliy dethroned his still living predecessor, Celestine V., burst on the world with his blasphemous bull, Unam Sanctam, and laid his monstrous mandate on mankind, involving the human race in sacerdotal serfdom. By one fell swoop he abrogated the authority of kings within their dominions, of magistrates within the circle of their attributions, of fathers within the sacred precincts of their households. Popes became arbiters of universal sovereignty, bishops bearded monarchs, and priests lorded it over the domestic hearth.… Every human right, claim, property, franchise, or feeling at variance with the predominance of the Popedom was, ipso facto, inimical to Heaven and the God of eternal justice.”

(6.) “He shall think to change times and laws” (Daniel 7:25) [177]. The presence of this mark in the Papacy already apparent. Everything was to be entirely in accordance with Papal decree. The observance of saints’ days established; the marriage vow, in the case of the clergy, cancelled and marriage itself forbidden [178]; subjects, as, for example, the English in relation to Henry VIII. and Elizabeth, released from their allegiance to their sovereigns; the cup in the Lord’s Supper forbidden to the laity [179]; and the making and worshipping of images sanctioned [180]. Bishop Newton mentions also as instances of this mark of the Little Horn, the Pope’s “appointing fasts and feasts; canonising saints; granting pardons and indulgences for sins; instituting new modes of worship; imposing new articles of faith [as recently the Immaculate Conception]; enjoining new rules of practice; and reversing at pleasure the laws both of God and man.” The traditions of the Fathers and decrees of Councils are made to supersede and set aside the Word of God. “The holy and inspired fathers and teachers,” says Gregory III., “and the six Councils in Christ, these are our scriptures and our light to salvation.”

[177] “To change times and laws.” Keil observes that to “change times” belongs to the all-perfect power of God (cf. Daniel 2:21), the creator and ordainer of times (Genesis 1:14); and that there is no ground for supposing that זמניז (zimnin), “times,” is to be specially understood of “festivals or sacred times,” since the word, like the corresponding Hebrew one, מועֲדִים (mo’adhim), does not throughout signify merely festival times (cf. Genesis 1:14; Genesis 17:21; Genesis 18:14, &c.) The sin is that he does not in his ordinances regard the fundamental conditions given by God, but so changes the laws of human life that he puts his own pleasure in the place of the divine arrangements, דַּת (dath), a law, rite, custom, or constitution. Calvin, applying the passage to the Roman emperors, says they perverted all laws, human and divine. Dr. Pusey, on the other hand, translates “essaying to change worship and law;” and has in a footnote,זִמְנִין (zimnin) “set times,” that is, probably, the times of the set feasts (as we speak of sacred “seasons”), and so the worship of those times. He observes that in Onkelos זִמְנִין (zimnin) stands for מוֹעֲדִים (mo’adh im), Genesis 1:14; and Jonathan puts זמני מועד (zimne mo’ed) for מועד (mo’ed), Zephaniah 3:18. Pseudo-Jonathan uses the word זמן (zeman) in paraphrasing מוֹעֲדיֵיְהֹוָה (mo’adhe Jehovah), “the feasts of the Lord.” Elsewhere זמן is used of the place of the sacred assembly (Numbers 1:1; Isaiah 33:20), but מועד of the festival (Lamentations 1:4; Hosea 9:5).

[178] A decretal of Callixtus II. says, “We entirely interdict priests, deacons, sub-deacons, and monks from contracting marriages; we decide also that, according to the sacred canons, the marriages contracted by persons of this kind be dissolved, and the persons brought to penance.” This Pope, as well as Pope Agatho, writes that the decretal epistles of the Roman Pontiff are to be received among the Scriptures, though they are not embodied in the code of canons, just as the Old and New Testaments are so received, “because a judgment of holy Pope Innocent seems to be published” for doing so.
[179] In regard to the use of the cup, Pope Gregory VII. thus wrote to Wratislaus, king of Bohemia, “What your people ignorantly require can in no wise be conceded to them; and we now forbid it by the power of God and His holy Apostle Peter.”
[180] Gregory III. convened an assembly of 93 bishops in 732, and with their assent published a general excommunication against all who were opposed to the worship of images. The same Pope wrote to the Emperor Leo, “Do you cease to persecute images and all will be quiet.”

(7.) He was to “make war with the saints and prevail against them,” and “wear them out” (Daniel 7:21; Daniel 7:25). It is well known that one of the most prominent features of the Papacy in past centuries was the persecution of the saints under the name of heretics, that is, of those who refused, in matters of doctrine and practice, to submit to the authority of the Pope instead of the Word of God, and who said, with Peter and the other apostles, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29; Acts 4:19) [181]. “If any one,” said Pope Nicolas in a Council at Rome, “shall presume to dispute the dogmas, commands, interdicts, sanctions, or decrees wholesomely published by the head of the Apostolic See, let him be accursed.” “It is permitted neither to think nor to speak differently from the Roman Church.” Such were to be handed over to the secular power, to be punished with the loss of goods, imprisonment, and even death. The burning of heretics, according to the bull De Comburendo, is too well known in England. The term “Crusades” was given to those military enterprises undertaken to extirpate the Waldenses and Albigenses; and the same Papal indulgences were promised to those who fell in such undertakings as were bestowed on those who died in the wars against the infidels [182]. The “wearing out of the saints” may be seen in the decree of Pope Pelagius, that those guilty of schism or separation from the Roman See were to be “crushed by the secular power, and restrained not only by exile, but by proscription of their goods, and by severe imprisonment.” How far the Papacy “prevailed” against the saints, or so-called heretics, appears from the fact that in a Council of the Lateran, held in May 1514, about three years and a half before the breaking out of the Reformation under Luther, the Hussites were summoned to appear; and when no appearance was made, the doctor of the Council uttered the remarkable words, “There is an end to resistance to the Papal rule and religion; there is none to oppose; the whole body of Christendom is now subject to its head.”

[181] “Make war with the saints” (Daniel 7:21). In our own country, in the short reign of Queen Mary, three hundred persons are said to have been cruelly put to death for no other reason than because they refused to acknowledge the supremacy of the Pope. This is written within little more than a stone’s throw of the monument that commemorates the martyrdom of Ridley, Latimer, and Cranmer, and the cross in front of Balliol College, Oxford, that marks the spot on which they suffered death. It is computed that in the South of France, between the twelfth and eighteenth centuries inclusive, about a million of those called Waldenses and Albigenses suffered death as heretics, especially by armies sent against them for that purpose, after receiving the papal blessing. Nearly a million suffered on the same account after the institution of the order of the Jesuits. In the Netherlands, it was the boast of the Duke of Alva that 36,000 heretics had been put to death by the common executioner within a few years. In Ireland, 150,000 are said to have been massacred in one province in virtue of a papal edict dated May 25, 1643, in which the Pope granted a full and plenary indulgence and absolute remission of all their sins “to all the Christians in the kingdom of Ireland, so long as they should war against the heretics and other enemies of the Catholic faith.” In the Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day, 1572, thirty thousand at least, in Paris and throughout France, are said to have been horribly butchered within thirty days, for which the Pope ordered public thanks to be given, and a medal to be struck in commemoration of the event. This feature of the Little Horn is acknowledged and justified in the Rhemish New Testament, where it is said in a note at Revelation 17:6, that the blood of the heretics is not to be considered as the blood of the saints, but is “no more than the blood of thieves, mankillers, and other malefactors, for the shedding of which, by order of justice, no commonwealth shall answer.” So Pope Urban II., encouraging the shedding of such blood, states, “We do not count them murderers who, burning with zeal for their Catholic mother against the excommunicate, may happen to have slain some of them.” Sismondi, himself a Roman Catholic, intimates what was the crime of those whose blood was thus to be shed: “Many sects,” he says, “existed in Provence, and this was the necessary consequence of the freedom of inquiry which was the essence of their doctrine. With one accord they considered that the Romish Church had changed the nature of Christianity, and that she was the object described in the Apocalypse as the woman of Babylon.” He adds: “To maintain unity of faith, the Church had recourse to the expedient of burning all those who separated themselves from her.”

[182] “Let the Catholics,” said Innocent III. in the Lateral) Council, “who, after taking the sign of the cross, devote themselves to the extermination of heretics, enjoy the same indulgence, and be protected with the same privilege, which is granted to those who go to the succour of the Holy Land.”

(8.) The saints were to be “given into the hand” of the Little Horn for a limited period, here calleda time, times, and the dividing of a time.” This enigmatical period, found also in chap. 12, as well as in the Book of Revelation, is generally understood to be equivalent to three years and a half, or, as it is expressed in the Apocalypse, 1260 days, 360 being reckoned to a year, and also forty and two months (Revelation 12:14; Revelation 12:16; Revelation 11:2-3; Revelation 13:5 [183], the half of the “seven times” already mentioned in connection with Nebuchadnezzar’s insanity. The period in the text for the dominion of the Little Horn over the saints is also that of the “scattering or crushing of the power of the holy people” (chap. Daniel 12:7); of the woman’s abode in the wilderness (Revelation 12:6; Revelation 12:14); of the treading of the holy city under foot by the Gentiles (Revelation 12:2); of the prophesying of the two witnesses in sackcloth (Revelation 12:3); and of the effective continuance of the beast out of the sea (Revelation 13:5). Probably the same period, and the same experience of humiliation and suffering on the part of the saints under the same power, intended under these various symbolical representations. The three years and a half, however, might be understood either literally or figuratively; either as ordinary years, or, as they are called, prophetical ones, each day being reckoned a year. The latter is generally understood, though there may be also a fulfilment of the prophecy on the smaller as well as on the larger scale. It is remarkable that from the time that the Bishop of Rome became a temporal prince, namely, in the early part of the seventh century (A.D. 606), till the cessation of his temporal power in 1870, is just 1264 years, the period in the text on the larger or year-day scale, with perhaps four years more [184]. It is also remarkable that from the time in which all Christendom was declared to be subject to the Roman Pontiff, May 1514, to the breaking out of the Reformation under Luther, that effected the deliverance of so large a portion from his spiritual sway, was just three years and a half on the shorter or literal day scale. Twelve centuries ago, more or less, the saints, or those who chose to obey the Word of God rather than the edicts and decrees of man, seemed to be given into the hand of the Roman Pontiff. There seems little reason to doubt that happily that period of subjection has come to an end. The Papacy can no longer persecute the so-called heretics as before. The Scriptures are openly sold and the Gospel is freely preached even in Rome itself. The Inquisition is at an end. Dr. Achilli and the two Madiai were among its last prisoners, the latter having been given up at the demand of Protestant Europe. The French Revolution in 1792–3, exactly 1260 years after the edict of Justinian seemed formally to give the Church into the hands of the Roman bishop, was doubtless the commencement of his fall [185]; one of the most marked results of that event being the freedom of religious worship among the nations of Europe, which during the last ten years may be said to have been all but complete. This circumstance might seem to leave no doubt as to the identification of the Little Horn with the Papacy, and to establish the opinion that has largely prevailed for centuries [186].

[183] “A time and times and the dividing of a time” (Daniel 7:26). Some have understood by this only an indefinite though lengthened period. So Calvin, who applied the prophecy to the persecutions under Nero and other Roman emperors. By the “dividing” or half of a time he understood the shortening of the period for the elect’s sakes. Bullinger viewed it as a definite time fixed by God, but known only to Himself. Œcolampadius understood half a week or three days and a half, God thus shortening the time. Osiander regarded it as three and a half prophetic years or 1278 solar years, during which the rule of Mahometanism, commencing in the year 613, should continue. Jerome, and Roman Catholic writers after him, understand it of three and a half literal years, the period for the tyranny of Antichrist before the end of the world. Similarly other Futurists. Junius and a few others applied it historically to the time during which Antiochus Epiphanes persecuted the Jews. Joseph Mede was “the well-known reviver of the year-day theory. Before his time it was a vague assertion; he first gave it shape and form, and plausible consistency. Since his day it has been adopted by many intelligent critics, among whom are Sir Isaac Newton, Bishop Newton, Faber, Frere, Keith, and Birks.”—Translator’s Preface to Calvin on Daniel. Professor Lee refers the expression to “the latter half (mystically speaking) of the seventieth week of our prophet” (ch. 9); that week of seven days being equivalent here to Ezekiel’s period of seven years. Professor Bush says, “The grand principle into which the usage of a day for a year is to be resolved is that of miniature symbolisation.” Mr. Brooks (Elements of Prophetic Interpretation) says, “The literal meaning of a ‘time’ is a year; and the expression in Daniel 7:23 may signify, mystically, if calculated by lunar time, a period of 1260 years.” Mr. Bickersteth (Practical Guide to the Prophecies) says, “The time, times, and half a time, the forty and two months and 1260 days, are the same interval; the time, times, and half a time of Daniel and the Revelation are the same period; a prophetic day is a natural year, as three and a half times are the half of seven times, the whole season of Gentile power, and the same with the ‘latter times’ of St. Paul” He thinks the three and a half times began with Justinian’s Code in 532–533. “By this edict (of Justinian),” says Mr. Irving, “ecclesiastical power over the faith of the West and against the saints who dwelt there was given to the Bishop of Rome, which imperial edicts being seconded by the imperial arms, brought to nothing the heretical powers who might have opposed his entering into possession. In twenty years from that date he ordered heretics to be burned by the temporal powers—the first indication of that mixture and combination of powers, civil and ecclesiastical, which is the proper character of the whole period. Then, also, mass was introduced. In sixty years he had made such great strides towards absolute supremacy, that in the reign of Gregory the Great, who resisted the Bishop of Constantinople’s supremacy, were introduced purgatory, invocation of saints, expiations by masses, lustrations of the Blessed Virgin, and the celibacy of the clergy was attempted. In seventy years he obtained from the emperor the sole title of Universal Bishop. In little more than a century the service was performed in Latin, and the ignorance of the people sealed. In two centuries the Pope had obtained the pride and power to excommunicate the Emperor of the East for prohibiting image-worship.” Dr. Cox thinks that “the computation must be made from the period when the Little Horn or ecclesiastical power of the Church of Rome should arise;” and that “that application of the prophecy is most probable which fixes on the time when, by the decree of Phocas, the Roman Pontiff was constituted Universal Bishop and supreme head of the Church.” This was in the year of our Lord 606. Some students of prophecy see in the term “times,” &c, the half of the period of Nebuchadnezzar’s humiliation and insanity, symbolical of the time (2520 years) during which the covenant people should be under the dominion of the Gentile monarchies as the chastisement of their unfaithfulness, this period having different crises as stages of commencement. Of these, Mr. Guinness (Approaching End of the Age) mentions four, from the invasion of Pul, king of Assyria, in 770 b.c., to the final fall of the throne of David and full captivity of Judah under Nebuchadnezzar in 602. These stages of commencement have corresponding terminations, the first being in 1750, the period of Voltaire, and the last in 1918, yet to come. It was during the latter half of these mystical “seven times” that the Little Horn was to have power over the saints, the case of Israel being bound up with that of the Christian Church, which was to be under captivity by the same power that was to tyrannise over Israel, namely, the last of the four beasts. See farther the note under chap. Daniel 12:7.

[184] The spiritual power of the Papacy may, of course, have a different period for its termination, and outlive the temporal, which constituted it the Little Horn. Mr. Bosanquet remarks: “We see no room left for doubt that these 1260 years mark the duration of the Papal power. The temporal power of the Papacy seems to be vanishing before our eyes, if indeed it has not already ceased to exist [it has apparently done so, namely, in 1870], but how long the spiritual power shall be allowed to linger on in the ancient seat of its dominion, is a question to be solved by time. Wherever we may be disposed to fix the date of its commencement, it is clear that the time of expiration cannot be very far remote.” Some, however, date from the eighth century. “From the time,” says Bishop Newton, “of Pepin’s grant of Aistulph’s dominions in 755, the popes, having now become temporal princes, did no longer date their epistles and bulls by the year of the Emperor’s reign, but by the year of their own advancement to the Papal chair. Charles the Great, son and successor of Pepin, confirmed the grant, adding other territories, and giving the Pope to hold under himself the duchy of Rome, over which he gradually obtained the absolute authority, being about the same time declared superior to all human jurisdiction, while Charles in return was chosen Emperor of the West. Lewis the Pious, son and successor to Charles the Great, confirmed the donations of his father and grandfather, including Rome and its duchy, the popes to hold them in their own right, principality, and dominion to the end of the world.” “It should seem,” adds the Bishop, “that the ‘time, times,’ &c., are to be computed from this full establishment of the power of the Pope in the eighth century.” Gibbon speaks of Gregory I., who wrote so defiantly against the Emperor Leo about images in the eighth century, as the founder of the Papal monarchy; and Milner says, “From this time I look on the Pope of Rome as Antichrist.”
[185] One of the effects of the Revolution in 1792–3 was the destruction of the established religion in France, the chief support of the Papacy. As the edict of Justinian in 533 might be said to be the beginning of the Little Horn as a temporal power, and the giving of the saints into his hand, though its full growth was not for some time after, so the commencement of his fall as such, and the deliverance of the saints from his hand, might be dated from the French Revolution, though not to be completed till several years afterwards. The Convention, which met on the 20th September 1792, first decreed the eternal abolition of monarchy, and on the seventh day of its sitting, it was proposed by M. Manuel that, as royalty was abolished, the order of priests and all religious establishments should be abolished with it. This, however, was only done on the 31st of May in the following year, when the success of the Jacobin conspirators completed the destruction of the civil establishment of religion in France. On the 17th of June the report of Camille Jourdan on the freedom of religious worship was ordered to be printed by the unanimous vote of the Council of Five Hundred.

[186] It was the belief of the Early Church that the little horn of Daniel and the “Man of Sin” spoken of by Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:0.) was the same Antichrist, who was even expected shortly to appear. Justin Martyr says, “He being at hand who was to speak blasphemous words against the Most High, whom the prophet Daniel foretold was to continue for a time, times, &c.” Tertullian, referring to 2 Thessalonians 2:0., says, “Who can this be but the Roman State, the division of which into ten kingdoms will bring on Antichrist, and then the Wicked One shall be revealed?” Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, about the year 360, referring to the same passage, says, “Thus the predicted Antichrist will come when the times of the Roman empire shall be fulfilled, and the consummation of the world shall approach. Ten kings of the Romans shall rise together, in different places indeed, but they shall reign at the same time. Among them the eleventh is Antichrist, who by magical and wicked artifices shall seize the Roman power.” Cyril believed that the apostasy or falling away which was to precede the appearance of the Man of Sin, or Antichrist, had already taken place in his day. “Formerly,” he says, “the heretics were manifest, but now the Church is filled with heretics in disguise. For men have fallen away from the truth, and have itching ears. Is it a plausible theory? All listen to it gladly. Is it a word of correction? All turn away from it. Most have departed from right words, and rather choose the evil than desire the good. This therefore is the falling away, and the Enemy (Antichrist) is soon to be looked for.”

As yet probably they had no idea that the Bishop of Rome was to be he; for his coming was to be a “mystery of iniquity,” and “mystery” was to be the name of the system of which he was the head, as the word is said to be actually found on the Papal mitre. But a few centuries awoke the suspicion. In the Middle Ages it was believed by many that the Antichrist had already appeared in the person of the Popes. In the tenth century Arnulph, Bishop of Orleans, addressing a Council at Rheims, said: “O deplorable Rome, who in the days of our forefathers produced so many burning and shining lights! thou hast brought forth in our times only dismal darkness worthy of the detestation of posterity.… What think you, reverend fathers, of this man, the Pope, placed on a lofty throne, shining with purple and gold? Whom do you account him? If destitute of love and puffed up with pride of knowledge only, he is Antichrist sitting in the temple of God.” It is said in a work published in 1120, “The great Antichrist is already come; in vain is he yet expected; already by the permission of God is he advanced in years.” Roman Catholic writers, of course, refuse to believe that the Papacy is “the Little Horn or Antichrist;” and some few Protestants agree with them in thinking that that power is still future; while others, as the German Rationalists, would see in it only Antiochus Epiphanes. In reference to this last opinion, it is enough to say, with Auberlen, that the Little Horn is found among the ten kingdoms of the fourth beast or Roman Empire, while Antiochus Epiphanes belonged to the third or Grecian, which, according to chap. 8, is well known to have been divided, not into ten, but into four kingdoms. That the Roman Empire was broken up into about ten different kingdoms many centuries ago, and that the Papacy, as a temporal power, sprung up among them, are facts not to be disputed.

From the prophecy regarding the Little Horn we may notice—

1. The providence of God as ruling both in the world and in the Church. “He putteth down one and setteth up another.” Even the Little Horn, which was to prove such a scourge to the Church and to the world, was entirely under His control, and employed as His instrument in accomplishing the purposes of His infinite wisdom. The saints were to be “given” into His hand, as Judah and its king were given into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar (chap. Daniel 1:2). The same Providence limited the continuance of the subjection in both cases. What is done wickedly by man is permitted and controlled wisely and holily by God.

2. The comfort of God’s people to know that their sufferings are meted out, both in intensity and duration, by a Father’s hand. It was a fiery trial that was to try the saints when they were to be given into the hand of the Little Horn, who was to make war upon them, and prevail against them, and wear them out. But it was to continue only for a time, a long time indeed, as indicated in the expression “a time, times, and the dividing of a time;” but still it was to come to an end. “Thou shalt have tribulation ten days,”—not more. “In measure when it shooteth forth, Thou wilt debate with it: He stayeth His rough wind in the day of His east wind” (Isaiah 27:8). The “time to favour Zion, even the set time,” comes.

3. The preciousness and power of divine grace in sustaining the people of God under protracted persecutions and afflictions. No small affliction to the saints who held fast the Word of God to have war made upon them by a mighty and prevailing power, and to be worn out by exile, imprisonment, and loss of goods, year after year, the same thing being continued century after century. No small amount of grace needed to sustain them in the conflict, so as to be faithful unto death. But the promise is sure. “My grace is sufficient for thee; my strength is made perfect in weakness.” “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” Though appointed as sheep to the slaughter, we are made more than conquerors through Him that loved us. “They overcame through the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.”

4. The divine, and therefore indestructible, nature of the Church and religion of Jesus Christ, which has held out under centuries of cruel persecution. To exhibit this, probably one reason why such a state of things is permitted to take place. The bush burns, but is not consumed, because the Lord Himself is in it. The gates and power of hell unable to prevail against the Church of Christ, because founded on the Rock of Ages. The Church outlives the furnace, because One like the Son of God—the Son of God Himself—is with it there. “If this counsel or work be of men, it will come to nought; but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it.” “Although,” says Sismondi, himself a Roman Catholic, “for two hundred years the fires were never quenched, still every day saw Catholics abjuring the faith of their fathers, and embracing the religion which often guided them to the stake. In vain Gregory IX., in 1231, put to death every heretic whom he found concealed in Rome.”

5. Cause for joy and thanksgiving that the wearing out of the saints by the Little Horn is at or near its close. There may yet be possibly a period of intense suffering from that same Little Horn under a changed aspect; but if so, it will be but of short continuance; perhaps the “time, times, and dividing of a time,” on the shorter literal day scale. But we may well rejoice and give thanks that the long-protracted period of “wearing out” is at an end. The fires of Smithfield and the tortures of the Inquisition, we may believe, are over. Even in Rome men may read the Bible and worship God according to it without being afraid. Let us thank God for liberty of conscience in Europe.

6. The prediction regarding the Little Horn, with its manifest fulfilment, another remarkable evidence of divine inspiration. That horn, as rising out of the fourth beast, and among the other ten, acknowledged not to be Antiochus Epiphanes, and must therefore be found long after the time when the prophecy was written. The prediction minute and detailed; and its fulfilment, in a power that for twelve centuries has been the most prominent and conspicuous one in Europe, singularly exact. The fulfilment of such prediction, though perfectly natural, yet partaking of the nature of a miracle, as being beyond any mere human power to foresee it, and as such an evidence of the divine origin of the prediction.

Verses 9-12

HOMILETICS

SECT. XXV.—THE JUDGMENT OF THE BEAST AND THE LITTLE HORN (Chap. Daniel 7:9-12; Daniel 7:26)

Hitherto we have not met with much difficulty in the way of interpretation. Little room has been left either for doubt or hesitation. The case is somewhat different now. We approach the region of unfulfilled prophecy, naturally more difficult of interpretation, and leaving more room for mistake and difference of opinion. The field is interesting and inviting, but demands caution in its investigation. The word of prophecy is given for our guidance and comfort, as a light shining in a dark place. But we need the Spirit to interpret His own Word. “Open Thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law.” “In Thy light we shall see light.” “The Spirit searcheth all things, even the deep things of God,” and revealeth them unto us. “He knoweth what is in darkness, and the light dwelleth with Him.” It is His to reveal the “deep and secret things,” and to show us, as He has done in His Word, “things to come.” We have before us a passage of overwhelming grandeur and sublimity; the description of a scene of awful solemnity. The passage exhibits the judgment-seat of God, with myriads of attendant angels, and the infliction of pronounced doom on a large portion of the human race. The judgment is not indeed, like that in Revelation 20:0, the general judgment, terminating the reign of Christ and His saints on earth, and resembling in some of its features the present one. It is rather the judgment on the fourth beast, or Roman Empire, with its ten horns or kingdoms, and more especially the “Little Horn,” whose pride, persecution, and blasphemy are the special occasion of it.

I. The occasion of the judgment. This is distinctly said to be “the voice of the great words which the horn spake” (Daniel 7:11). So in the interpretation by the angel it is said, “He shall speak great words against the Most High,” &c. “But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his kingdom” (Daniel 7:25-26). He was to wear out the saints of the Most High, who were to be “given into his hand for a time, times, and the dividing of a time.” That allotted period was to terminate, and then the long-delayed judgment was to commence. That monstrous reign of blasphemy against God and cruelty to His saints was to be allowed no longer. “These things thou hast done, and I kept silence: thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself. But I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.” “Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down, for the press is full, the fats overflow; for the wickedness is great” (Psalms 50:21; Joel 3:13). The occasion of the judgment is the sayings and doings of the Little Horn, [187] whose kingdom is therefore to be taken away; and the beast, to whom it belonged, of whose wickedness it was the concentration, and who had given to it its power, aided and abetted its doings, and so had identified itself with it, is, with its ten horns, to be slain, and its body “destroyed and given to the burning flame.”

[187] “Because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake.” The connection between the depriving the Papacy of its temporal dominions in 1870 and its “great words “or blasphemous pretensions was remarkable. “In the same year,” said the Times of the period, “the Papacy has assumed the highest spiritual exaltation to which it could aspire, and lost the temporal sovereignty which it had held for a thousand years.” The exaltation referred to was the decree of a General Council in Rome that the Popes were infallible in matters of doctrine. The circumstances attending the act were also remarkable. Arrangements had been made in the chamber where the Council sat, that, by means of mirrors suitably disposed, a glory expressive of divinity should appear to encircle the Pope’s head when the decree was passed. Strange to say, however, as if to rebuke the blasphemy and proclaim that the hour of doom had struck, the sun did not shine out that day: a violent storm burst over Rome; the sky was darkened by tempest, and the voices of the Council were lost in the roll of thunder. Within a day or two after, the Franco-German war was declared, which led to the immediate withdrawal of the French troops from Rome, and the consequent fall of the Pope’s temporal power, which for several years they had served alone to support. Jerome, and Roman Catholic writers after him, understanding the Little Horn to be the Antichrist that should appear immediately before the end of the world, view the judgment in the text as taking place at that time in his destruction. So Bullinger, Œcolampadius, and Osiander, who regard the fourth beast as either the Roman or Turkish Empire; while Willet, understanding the fourth beast of the Greek kingdom of the Seleucidæ, applies the passage to the first coming of Christ, but typically also to the final judgment, the judgment beginning with the first and ending with the second coming of Christ Calvin also refers it to the latter period.

II. The circumstances of the judgment. “The thrones were cast (rather, set or planted) down,” &c. [188] (Daniel 7:9). We have—

[188] “The thrones were east down,” רְמִיוּ (remioo), “were set up.” Wintle: “were pitched.” So the Septuagint, Vulgate, and all the ancient versions, as well as Morus, Castalio, Piscator, and Calvin. The rendering also of Gesenius. The word used by the Targums in Jeremiah 1:15 for “they set.” Keil has “they were thrown,” i.e., they were placed in order quickly or with a noise. This idea of haste or noise, however, does not seem necessarily included. Dr. Rule prefers the rendering of the English version, “were cut down,” but understands not the thrones of assessors, but of the ten kings formerly mentioned, which is unlikely. Keil, with most interpreters, understands them as seats for the assembly sitting in judgment with God; that assembly, in his view, consisting neither of the elders of Israel, as the Rabbins think, nor of glorified men, as Hengstenberg (on Revelation 4:4) supposes; but of angels, according to Psalms 89:8, “who are to be distinguished from the thousands and tens of thousands mentioned in Daniel 7:10; for these do not sit upon thrones, but stand before God as servants to fulfil His commands and execute His judgments.” Hengstenberg’s view, however, will probably appear to most the more correct one. Lightfoot quotes from De Lyra: “He saith ‘thrones,’ because not only Christ shall judge, but the apostles and perfect men shall assist.” He adds, “So the saints shall at the day of judgment sit with Christ, and approve or applaud His judgment.”

1. The judge. “The Ancient (or permanent) of days did sit.” The expression indicative of the Godhead, the I am, the everlasting and unchanging Jehovah, who was, and is, and is to come. In Daniel 7:13, the Father, or first person in the Godhead, appears to be meant; here probably the Son, or second person, who in virtue of His becoming the Son of Man has all judgment committed to Him [189]. “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son, and hath given Him power to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.” “God shall judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained.” “God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ.” “He (Jesus Christ) shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom.” Judgment, however, is the attribute and prerogative of Godhead. “God is Judge Himself” (Psalms 50:3-6). No other is capable of being so. Jesus occupies the judgment-seat as Supreme Judge because He is God, the Ancient of days. This character claimed by Jesus Himself. “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8). Hence His appearance at the same time identical with that here given: “His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes were as a flame of fire.” Stupendous contrast with His appearance before Pilate’s bar. Now the judge and the prisoner change places.

[189] “The Ancient of Days,” יוֹמִין עַתִּיק (’attiq yomin). Professor Bush, after Cocceius and Michaelis, translates, “permanent or enduring of days.” Keil has, “one advanced in days, very old,” and says this “is not the Eternal, for although God is meant, yet Daniel does not see the everlasting God, but an old man or a man of grey hairs, in whose majestic form God makes Himself visible (cf. Ezekiel 1:26). Mr. Irving understood God the Father, coming in His unstained holiness to judge the arch-enemy of His Son and destroyer of His people, and to prepare the way for the coming of the Son of Man in the clouds of heaven.” So Dr. Rule. Œcolampadius understood it of Christ, the Lamb “slain from the foundation of the world.” So Dr. Cumming. Wintle understands the term עַתִּיק (’attiq) actively—“he that maketh the days old,” and applies it to Deity.

2. The throne. This was a “fiery flame,” and its “wheels,” on which it appeared to rest, or rather to move, [190] as “burning fire;” emblematic of searching investigation, fiery indignation, swift judgment. An object of supreme terribleness like the representation in Ezekiel 1:26-28. The throne corresponding with the character of the judge. “Our God is a consuming fire.” “His eyes were as a flame of fire.” “Who among us can dwell with the devouring fire?” Expressive also of the object of the judgment, the infliction of punishment or burning wrath. It is “the great day of His wrath,” the “wrath of the Lamb.” “The nations were angry, and Thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead that they should be judged” (Revelation 6:16-17; Revelation 11:18). “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God,” &c. (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8). “A fire goeth before Him and burneth up His enemies round about.” It is the time of “judgment and fiery indignation, that shall devour the adversaries” (Psalms 97:3; Hebrews 10:27).

[190] “His wheels as burning fire.” Grotius remarks that the ancient thrones and curule chairs had wheels. Those in the text, being like “burning fire,” Dr. Cox observes, “prognosticate at once the majesty of the Judge, piercing, penetrating, awful, and the rapid progress of those providential visitations which would bespeak the indignation of a sin-avenging Deity.” The fire-scattering wheels, says Keil, “show the omnipresence of the divine throne of judgment,—the going of the judgment of God over the whole earth.” He further observes: “Fire and the shining of fire are the constant phenomena of the manifestation of God in the world. The fire which engirds his throne with flame pours itself forth as a stream from God into the world, consuming all that is sinful and hostile to Him, and rendering His people and kingdom glorious.”

3. The attendants. “Thrones.” Not one throne, but many thrones. The scene in accordance with earthly tribunals, where the judge has his assessors [191]. Apostles, saints, and martyrs elsewhere represented as sitting on thrones, with judgment given to them (Revelation 20:4). The saints shall judge the world as assessors with Christ (1 Corinthians 6:2). “When the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:28). Innumerable angels also about the throne as the ministers of His justice. “Thousand thousands ministered to Him.” Angels employed as the executioners of His justice. “He will say to His angels, Gather the tares into bundles to burn them.” He will come “with His mighty angels, taking vengeance.” “The Son of Man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him” (Matthew 25:31). His angels to be employed in gathering “out of His kingdom all things that offend (all the stumbling-blocks), and them which do iniquity” (Matthew 13:41). His ministers in inflicting judgments on the Little Horn and the apostate nations of Christendom (Revelation 16:1). Hence their appearance here about the throne.

[191] “Thrones.” From this representation of the judgment Rationalists have raised an objection to the genuineness of the book, as if it were borrowed from the circumstances and customs of the Persian court, while the prophecy purports to be given in the age of the last Chaldean king. To this objection Hengstenberg replies, that every feature of the picture can be pointed out in earlier writings of Scripture, as in Job 1:2; 1 Kings 22:19-22. So in Isaiah 6:0 the principal angels are represented as standing round the throne of God. Dr. Cox thinks that the sitting of the judgment, as thus prepared, has a clear reference to the solemnities and general construction of the Jewish Sanhedrim or Great Council. This, however, probably an institution of later times.

4. The accompaniments. “A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him” (Daniel 7:10). A further indication of the character and object of the judgment—fiery indignation. “It shall be very tempestuous round about Him” (Psalms 50:3). This probably indicative of and connected with the judgment to be inflicted on the Beast,—“his body given to the burning flame;” the earth, or as much of it as shall be involved in the judgment, to be “burned up;” the elements to “melt with fervent heat;” the earth “reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:7; 2 Peter 3:10).

III. The judgment itself. “The books were opened” (Daniel 7:10). The significance and object of this indicated in the description given in the Apocalypse of the general judgment, “The dead were judged out of the things that were written in the books” (Revelation 20:12). Reference to earthly courts and their judicial proceedings, the names of the acccused, with the crimes laid to their charge, being registered for examination [192]. Indicates the strict and impartial character of the judgment. A constant observation exercised in regard to the doings of the enemies of God and His people, and a full and accurate account preserved of them. All the sayings and doings of the Little Horn recorded in the book; all the great and blasphemous words spoken against the Most High; all the cruelties exercised by him and the nations that submitted to his authority or were inspired by his spirit; every blasphemous bull and persecuting edict that ever issued from the Vatican; every secret murder committed in the cells of the Inquisition; every deed of darkness and of blood perpetrated under the cloak and in the name of Christ’s religion, all registered in those awful but truth-telling books. Words as well as deeds preserved there for judgment. “By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” So Enoch testified before the Flood. “Behold the Lord cometh to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him” (Jude 1:14-15). Contrast with these records of ungodly words and deeds another book,—the book of life. “A book of remembrance was written before Him of them that feared the Lord and that thought upon His name;” of those who chose, with Moses, “rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season,” and rather to go to the stake or lay down their heads on the block than prove unfaithful to God and His truth.

[192] “The books were opened.” Hengstenberg derives the figure from the papers of the judge, in which the names of the criminals and their deeds are registered. Keil considers the books those in which the actions of men are recorded. Jerome, Willet, and others understand them of every one’s conscience; opened by God to each, says Œcolampadius, to see and confess His justice. Bede strangely regarded them as the Scriptures; and Calvin in like manner understands by them the manifestation of the knowledge of God to the world at the coming of Christ by the preaching of the Gospel.

IV. The consequences of the judgment. “The beast was slain, and his body destroyed and given to the burning flame.” “They shall take away his (the Little Horn’s) dominion, to consume and destroy it unto the end” (Daniel 7:11; Daniel 7:26). In the vision itself it is the beast or fourth empire on which the judgment is represented as taking effect; in the interpretation of the vision it is the Little Horn [193]. That horn thus identified with the beast, of which it was properly only a part. The judgment falls on the beast for the words of the Little Horn, so entirely were they one. The horn was only the concentration of the beast. The kingdoms of the beast, or Roman Empire, are represented in the Book of Revelation as giving their power to the beast (Revelation 17:16-17), and we know, as a matter of fact, that that power was long exercised in obedience to the will of the Little Horn and in carrying out his persecuting edicts. When the Papacy delivered the heretic over to the civil power, that power was obedient, and put him to death. Thus also armies were raised for their extirpation. Justinian, in his celebrated edict, distinctly permitted the Roman pontiff to “use the powers of the empire against whomsoever he deemed heretical.” The spirit of the Little Horn is the spirit of the kingdoms of the beast, in so far as their subjects are not renewed by the Spirit of God. It is the spirit of pride, vainglory, worldliness, and enmity against God, and so of enmity against His saints. The judgment on the beast expressed either literally or figuratively, or both [194]. A literal destruction by fire not unlikely. Rome, the metropolis of the fourth beast, and seat of the Papacy or Little Horn, repeatedly represented in the Book of Revelation as awaiting this judgment (Revelation 17:16-17; Revelation 18:8). That a wide-spread conflagration will form at least one part of the judgment to be inflicted on the Papal kingdoms and those animated by the same spirit of unbelief and rebellion against God, seems indicated in such places as 2 Thessalonians 1:8 and 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12. According to Peter, the day of the Lord, in which this judgment shall be executed, is accompanied with a fire by which “the earth and the works therein shall be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). This may possibly commence with Rome and Italy, and extend to the other nations. It is well known that already beneath the sulphurous soil of Italy are subterranean fires ready to break out at the bidding of their Creator, who keeps them in store for His own purpose, like the fountains of the great deep, stored and then broken up for the destruction of the old world, when its wickedness made it ripe for judgment [195]. Possibly the destruction may be indicated in Daniel 7:12 as extending to those countries that constituted the three preceding empires, Babylon, Persia, and Greece, whose dominion was taken away, though “their lives were prolonged for a season and a time” [196]. Of the Little Horn it is simply said that its dominion is “taken away, to consume and destroy it unto the end.” The Papacy was to cease to be a temporal power apparently by slow degrees. So also the Apostle seems to speak of the destruction of the Man of sin (2 Thessalonians 2:8). This destruction doubtless includes alike the temporal and spiritual power of the Papacy, whatever form it may assume. The total loss of the temporal power in 1870 may, perhaps, be viewed as the completion of what began in 1793 in the French Convention, and was further advanced in 1798, when, in the Campo Vaccino, the ancient Roman Forum, the Pontifical Government was pronounced, in the midst of a large concourse of people, to be at an end; while on the following day fourteen cardinals, in the Pope’s absence, met in the Vatican, and signed the absolute renunciation of the temporal power [197]. This taking away of the temporal dominion of the Little Horn seemed to be completed on the 20th of September 1870, when Rome was declared the capital of Italy, and made the seat of government by Victor Emmanuel as its chosen king [198]. As a spiritual power, however, the Papacy has still many millions in Europe and elsewhere subject to its sway. This, though it may continue for some time longer to exercise its baleful influence in the souls of men, must also ultimately perish.

[193] Jerome and expositors in general, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, think the destruction of Antichrist and his members here meant. Calvin understood the passage of the Roman Empire when it began to decay after Trajan; but says that the slaying of the fourth beast and the giving of the kingdom and authority to the people of the saints does not seem to have been accomplished yet, and that all Christian interpreters agree in treating the prophecy as relating to the final day of Christ’s Advent. Bullinger applies the destruction of the fourth beast to the ruin of the Papal kingdoms; while Osiander and Œcolampadius understand the decay of the Turkish and Roman empires together. Junius thinks only of Antiochus Epiphanes, and Willet of the whole kingdom of the Seleucidæ. Irving thinks that not only the Little Horn or the Papacy is intended in the destruction, but all its supporters, “Yea, the whole beast of seven heads and ten horns, which had listened to the great words which it spake.” Dr. Rule observes that the prophet’s beholding “until the beast was slain,” &c., appears to intimate that the slaughter and the destruction will be gradual, perhaps very slow.

[194] “Given to the burning flame.” “The supposition that the burning is only the figure of destruction, as, for example, in Isaiah 9:4, is decidedly opposed by the parallel passages, Isaiah 66:14, which Daniel had in view, and Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10, where this prophecy is again taken up, and the judgment is expressed by a being cast into a lake of fire with everlasting torments.”—Keil.

[195] “The burning flame.” “Thus much being allowed from Scripture, let us now return to nature again, to seek out that part of the Christian world that from its own constitution is most subject to burning, by the sulphureousness of its soil and its fiery mountains and caverns. This we easily find to be the Roman territory or the country of Italy, which, by all accounts, ancient and modern, is a storehouse of fire; as if it was condemned to that fate by God and nature, and to be an incendiary, as it were, to the rest of the world. And seeing mystical Babylon, the seat of Antichrist, is the same Rome and its territory, as it is understood by most interpreters of former and later ages, you see both our lines meet in this point, and that there is fairness on both hands to conclude that at the glorious appearance of our Saviour the conflagration will begin at the city of Rome and the Roman territory. Nature hath saved us the pains of kindling fire in those parts of the earth; for since the memory of man there have always been subterraneous files.”—Burnet’s “Sacred Theory of the Earth.” Dr. M‘Cosh remarks in an article in the British and Foreign Evangelical Review for January 1881, that an old fisherman, more than 1800 years ago, anticipated the doctrine of modern science that the earth shall be burned up. The following communication from Vienna, dated April 12, 1881, appeared in the newspapers: “A rather severe shock of earthquake took place at the naval port of Pola and the surrounding district this morning at a quarter to ten o’clock. The earthquakes at Agram and the more terrible calamities at Cassamicciola (Ischia) and Chio, together with the increasing reports of shocks in Switzerland, Italy, and Central and South-Western Europe generally, are facts which are attracting much attention from Continental geologists.”

[196] “The rest of the beasts.” Bishop Newton observes regarding these: “They are all still alive, though the dominion of the first three is taken away. The nations of Chaldea and Assyria are still the first beast; those of Media and Persia are still the second beast; those of Macedonia, Greece, Thrace, Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt are still the third beast; and those of Europe on this side of Greece are still the fourth.” Mr. Miles (Lectures on Daniel) remarks: “They must all perish together; the three await the execution of marked vengeance upon the fourth. When the power of Rome shall be extinguished by the glorious manifestation of the Redeemer, every secular kingdom shall disappear.” Dr. Cox thinks the meaning to be that although these three monarchs were dispossessed of empire, “yet their influence and impious principles still continued to operate, notwithstanding their temporal demolition.” Keil observes that “the death or disappearance of the first three beasts is not expressly remarked, but is here first indicated. These had their dominion taken away one after another, each at its appointed time, and their end is connected with that of the last, as denoting that in that hour, not merely the fourth kingdom, but also the first three, the whole world-power, is brought to an end by the last judgment; the unfolding of the world-power in its diverse phases is exhausted, and the kingdom of God is raised to everlasting supremacy.” Dr. Rule, however, says: “The sentence—‘And concerning the rest of the beasts, &c.’—seems most naturally to relate to them after the destruction of the fourth empire; for it continues the description. It does not appear to be simply an account of what God had done aforetime to those former empires, viz., that when He took away their world-rule, He left them in being as nations; but of something which shall be after the destruction of the fourth. This, however, will be made clear when the time comes.”

[197] The history is thus related by M. De la Bédollière (Le Domaine de Saint Pierre): “The possessions that remained to the Pope (in 1792) had for their limits in the north, Venice and the Gulf of Venice; in the east, the kingdom of Naples; in the south, the Tuscan Sea; in the west, the duchies of Tuscany, Modena, Mirandola, and Mentone. They were divided into twelve Legations or provinces: the Compagna of Rome, the Sabine country, the patrimony of St. Peter properly so called, the duchy of Castro, the province of Orvieto, the province of Perouse, the duchy of Spoleto, the duchy of Urbino, the march of Ancona, Romagna, Bologna, and Ferrara. The duchy of Benvenuto and the principality of Ponte Corvo were fiefs of the Church. Of the populations of these countries, some inclined to the principles of the Revolution in 1789, others were animated with a fanatical hatred against France and its doctrines.” When, in the month of March 1796, General Buonaparte took the command of the army of Italy, his prompt conquests in the north “were easy, for the majority of the population was favourable to the French. The reigning Pope, Pius VI., frightened at the progress of the French army, solicited an armistice. This was granted him on hard conditions, which, however, he ratified on the 23d of June 1796. He gave up to France the Legations of Bologna and Ferrara, the citadel of Ancona, which he was to deliver up, and all the coasts of the Adriatic Gulf from the mouths of the Po to that citadel, &c. The Pope having broken the armistice, the French troops immediately invaded the domain of St. Peter, and took Faenza, Forli, and Ravenna; after which the Pope, in consternation, wrote to Buonaparte begging a treaty, which was concluded at Tollentino on the 19th of February, the Pope yielding in perpetuity to the French Republic all his rights over the Legations of Bologna, Ferrara, and Romagna, on condition that it should be without any damage to the Catholic religion, and handing over to the treasurer of the French army ten millions of livres in specie, and five millions in diamonds and other valuables. In consequence of an emeute in Rome on the 28th December 1797, in which the French General Duphot was killed, Alexander Berthier, general-in-chief of the French army in Italy, received orders to take possession of Rome, which was done without striking a blow. On the 6th of February 1798, the chiefs of the revolutionary movement pronounced, in the name of a large concourse of people assembled in the Campo Vaccino (the ancient Forum), the fall of the Pontifical Government, and proclaimed the Republic. The Pope during these events kept himself concealed; but the cardinals, having met in the Vatican, had signed their absolute renunciation of the temporal power; and on the 7th of February fourteen among them attended at a solemn Te Deum, sung in the Church of St. Peter, with all the pomp of Catholicism, to celebrate the revolution which took away the throne from the head of the Catholic Church.”

[198] The French Catholic paper L’Univers, commenting on the debate on Rome in the French Assembly (July 1871), says: “All our hopes have been disappointed; in the only nation on which the Papacy could count the last support fails it. Humanly speaking, all is over.” The Roman correspondent of the Daily News says about the same time: “The Pope is twitting the more Ultramontane of the venerable members of the Sacred College, those who have been urging him to pursue reactionary courses, after the following fashion:—‘You see what it has all come to—just as I told you, just as I never ceased to predict. You insisted on my abjuring my early liberal policy, and now you see the result. It is by you that such calamities have been brought on the Church and on the world.’ ” On June 26 the Pope held a consistory, in which he said, “We are, my very dear brothers, in the hands of Divine Providence; we have nothing to expect from human aid, for man has abandoned us. Why should we dissemble? It is better I should tell you, that kings and governments, forgetting their promises, leave us to our fate.… We can hope for no help from any quarter. We have done all that was in our power, but our efforts have failed. All is over. Only a miracle can save us.” The republican Government of France, the country that formerly was the great support of the Papacy, in the latter end of 1880 passed and executed a decree which not only banished the Jesuits from the country, but closed the convents of most of the religious orders in France, in all twenty-nine, with about three thousand six hundred members, in addition to the two thousand four hundred and sixty Jesuits who were expelled.

V. The time of the judgment. As already observed, this is not the general judgment at the termination of Christ’s reign on earth, or, as the phrase is commonly understood, the end of the world. It appears rather to be an invisible judgment carried on within the veil and revealed by its effects and the execution of its sentence [199]. As occasioned by the “great words” of the Little Horn, and followed by the taking away of his dominion, it might seem to have already sat. As, however, the sentence is not yet by any means fully executed, it may be sitting now. The deeds of the Little Horn may not yet be finished, though the temporal power of the Papacy has apparently ceased. A new and more terrible form may possibly yet be assumed before its final and complete destruction shall take place by the brightness of the Lord’s appearing (2 Thessalonians 2:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:8) [200]. The words of warning addressed by the Saviour have their application at the present time: “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness and the cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares: for as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye, therefore, and pray always, that ye may be counted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” “Behold I come as a thief; blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame” (Luke 21:34-36; Revelation 16:15).

[199] “These passages (Revelation 4:2; Revelation 4:4; Revelation 5:11; Revelation 11:15-17), and others like them,” says Archdeacon Harrison, “show how, in the visions of prophecy, the throne of judgment of the everlasting King is in some sense ever at hand, ready to be revealed, and its unseen processes of judgment ever going on; though at certain times—and more awfully, we may believe, as the ‘mystery of iniquity ‘in its varied forms unfolds itself and the end of the world draws near—the spirit of prophecy, or the hand of Providence, draws back the veil, and exhibits the awful scene which Daniel saw in vision.”

[200] Materials seldom long wanting for such a development. It was believed by many that the first Napoleon was to perform the rôle of the final or infidel Antichrist. The same thing was anticipated by some regarding his nephew, the late Emperor, who professed to possess the spirit of his uncle, and to have a peculiar destiny to fulfil. The anticipations have not been fulfilled in either case. Such a development, however, can soon be made to appear if the word of prophecy and the purpose of God require it. The following lately appeared in the Weekly Review: “Whether you talk to Parisians or to Frenchmen in the provinces about the political prospects, nine times out of ten there will be the shrug of the shoulders and the remark that history repeats itself; and the last decades of the nineteenth century, like the last decades of the eighteenth, will be a period of anarchy and revolution.… The Republic itself shows signs of weakness, and moderate men of all parties are anxious. It is said that the execution of the decrees against the religious orders has done some harm to the Republic.… After the way in which M. Victor Hugo has lauded Voltaire, it would, perhaps, have been discreet to have tolerated even the Jesuits for a time, rather than to have given the Anti-Republicans the pretext for asserting that the Republic is antagonistic to religion. But the changes of ministry is the most menacing feature.… It is incontestable that M. Gambetta has made and unmade Ministries. He has power without official responsibility, and that is always perilous.… Unfortunately moderate men are becoming distrustful, and M. Gambetta may be compelled to rely upon the extreme section, the Reds, if he is to be the chief of a Republic. If M. Gambetta wins by the sole or main support of the Reds, his tenure of the highest position is not likely to be long or beneficial to France.”

As suggested by the passage, we may notice—

1. It is our comfort to know that there is a God that judgeth in the earth. Men not worn out by tyranny, oppression, and persecution, without an eye being kept upon their wrongs and the perpetrators of them. Flesh and sense ready at times to say, “My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over by my God.” A sore trial for faith when the oppressor and persecutor prosper, and the cause of truth and righteousness seems well-nigh crushed. But God only appears to take no notice. Christ is in the ship, and though apparently asleep in the storm, He will awake at the right time, at the cry of His people, rebuke the oppressor’s wrath, and change the storm into a calm. Patience is to have her perfect work, that when we have done and suffered the will of God, we may inherit the promises. “He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” The hour of deliverance shall arrive. The judgment will sit—is now indeed sitting. He who is “higher than the highest” takes not His eye from the haughty oppressor and persecutor of His people, and will, when the proper time arrives, “awake to the judgment which He has commanded.”

2. The infinite majesty of God and the awful consequences of His displeasure. The Lord is a God of judgment. His eyes, which are as a flame of fire, behold, and His eyelids try, the children of men. A fiery stream issues and goes forth from before Him. Who can stand when once He is angry? Our God is a consuming fire. How terrible to meet Him as an adversary! Yet sin makes Him our adversary. Prepare, then, to meet thy God. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whilst thou art in the way with Him. There is one, and only one, way of doing so. The Jews, to be reconciled to their offended king, made Blastus, his chamberlain, their friend. God has given His own Son as a sacrifice and Mediator, that we may make Him our friend, accept of Him, and put our trust in Him, and so be reconciled to God. This is God’s own way for meeting Him. Blessed are all they that put their trust in that provided Mediator. Such can see the fiery stream that issues from before Him, ready to devour the adversaries, without alarm. They can go forward to meet it singing, with the Apostle, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.” Or, with Count Zinzendorf in the well-known hymn—

“Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress.
Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.
Bold shall I stand in that great day;
For who aught to my charge shall lay?
Fully absolved through these I am,
From sin and guilt, from fear and shame.”

3. The wisdom of preparing for a judgment to come. Whatever may be the case in regard to the judgment we have been considering, and whatever share we may or may not have in it, it is certain that we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, to receive according to the things done in the body, whether good or bad. “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after that the judgment.” Each must then give account of himself to God. For all these things God will bring thee into judgment. Are our works those of the flesh or of the Spirit? Are they wrought in God or out of Him? Am I renewed or still unrenewed? Am I pardoned and accepted now in the Surety, the Lord our Righteousness? A place in the New Jerusalem or the Gehenna of fire depends on the question. “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to enter in through the gates into the city;” or, as the Revised Version reads, “Blessed are they that wash their robes.” This is the beginning of doing His commandments. “Come now, let us reason together: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made as wool; though they be red as crimson, they shall be white as snow.” Reader, the fountain for sin and uncleanness is still open; if not already washed, wash now, and prepare for the judgment. “The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin.” Trust in that blood and be clean.

Verse 11

APPENDIX

IN relation to the prediction in Daniel 7:11, regarding the destruction by fire of the body of the Beast or fourth universal empire, that immediately preceding the kingdom of the Son of Man, and of the saints—his body being “given to the burning flame”—science has recently indicated another way in which this judgment might be inflicted on apostate Christendom and the Antichristian kingdoms. The following extract from the Spectator, in relation to a recent conclusion of astronomy, only met the writer’s eye while the preceding work was in the press:—“We sometimes doubt whether the world’s belief in science is quite as genuine as it seems. Here is Mr. Proctor, whose astronomical authority and ability nobody doubts, has told the world for some time back, we believe, that there is really a very considerable chance of a catastrophe only fifteen years hence, which may put an end to us and our earthly hopes and fears altogether; and, so far as we can see, the world has blandly treated Mr. Proctor’s warning as it would have treated an interesting speculation on the future of electricity—that is, has regarded it with a certain mild, literary satisfaction, but has not made any change in its arrangements in consequence.… Yet, supposing Mr. Proctor’s facts to be correctly stated—on which we should like to have the judgment of other astronomers—there does seem a remarkably good chance that in 1897 the sun will suddenly break out into the same kind of intensity of heat and light which caused the conflagration in the star of the Northern Crown in 1866, when for a day or two the heat and light emitted by it became suddenly many hundreds of times greater than they were before, after which the star relapsed into its former relative insignificance. Those few days of violence, however, must have been enough to destroy completely all vegetable and animal life in the planets circulating round that sun, if such planets were in existence; and Mr. Proctor shows no little reason to believe that the same catastrophe may very probably happen to us, doubtless from a precisely similar cause, if the astronomers who believe that the comet of 1880 was identical with the comet of 1843 and the comet of 1668 should be right,—which would imply that the same comet, with a rapidly diminishing period, is likely to return and fall into the sun, with all its meteoric appendages, in or about the year 1897. Mr. Proctor tells us that Professor Winnecke believes that the identity of the comets of 1843 and 1880 hardly admits of a doubt; while Mr. Marth thinks that both may be identical with the comet of 1668, its velocity having been reduced by its passing through the corona of the sun; so that on its next return, in a considerably reduced time, it may be altogether unable to pass out of the sphere of the sun’s influence, and may precipitate itself, with all its meteoric train, into the mass of the sun. If this event occurs—as at some return or other Mr. Proctor believes to be nearly certain—(the next but one, we suppose, if not the next), there will certainly be an abrupt arrest of an enormous momentum as the long train of meteors enters the sun, which arrest would show itself in the shape of enormously increased heat,—the probable result whereof would be the burning up of all vegetable and animal life existing on the planets of the solar system. It is true that Mr. Proctor is not quite sure how the absorption of this comet and its train into the sun would really affect us. He is by no means certain that our sun would burst into flame, as the star in the Northern Crown did in 1866, but he evidently thinks it much more likely than not. And he does not seriously doubt that in the behaviour of the star in the Northern Crown, which so suddenly broke into flame in 1866, we have the example of a real sidereal catastrophe which from time to time either actually destroys, or would destroy, if they existed, such worlds as ours, if they happen to be the planets of a sun thus suddenly fed with a great accession of cosmic heat.”

In connection with the same subject the writer has recently met with the following passage in Mr. Garrat’s “Midnight Cry,” written about twenty years ago:—“The fiery flood. So it is described in Peter’s second epistle. The destruction of the ungodly will be by fire; and out of that fire will issue the new heavens and the new earth. The question is often asked, whether that event will happen at the commencement or the close of the millennium. Perhaps, in different degrees, at both. Isaiah says, speaking of a period prior to the thousand years, ‘By fire and by sword will the Lord plead with all flesh, and the slain of the Lord shall be many.’ And he seems also to place the creation of new heavens and a new earth at the same period; while it is after the millennium, John says in Revelation, ‘I saw a new heaven and a new earth.’ This and many other apparent difficulties of the same nature are easily explained. ‘One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.’ The whole millennium is, in God’s eye, but a day—the great day of the Lord God Almighty. It is the ‘regeneration,’—the period of earth’s new birth; and the events at its commencement and its close are sometimes looked upon as one. God will destroy His enemies with fire at the beginning of these thousand years. The conflagration at their close will be still more terrible. Both are looked upon as one event. And it is to both, regarded as one, that the words of Peter apply: ‘The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.’ It will come as a thief in the night on the world. They will be alone, because the Church will have been translated. With what bitter remorse will men look on the fiery deluge as it comes sweeping along! They might have escaped, and they would not; and now escape is impossible.”

Verses 13-14

HOMILETICS

SECT. XXVI.—THE KINGDOM OF THE SON OF MAN (Chap. Daniel 7:13-14)

We come now to what is perhaps the most glorious part of the visions of Daniel, or even of the prophetic Word in general. We have here the plain and full announcement of that which constitutes the burden of the prophets from the beginning—the kingdom of God upon earth, the establishing of which in the place of the kingdom which God’s adversary had introduced into the world was the great object of the incarnation of the Son of God. In another part of his prophecies Daniel speaks of “the sufferings of Christ” (chap. 9); here it is “the glory that should follow” (1 Peter 1:11). It is “the mystery of God according to the good tidings which He declared to His servants the prophets,” which the trumpet of the seventh angel was to introduce (Revelation 10:7, R.V.) It is “the times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord,” and of “the restoration of all things, whereof God spake by the month of His holy prophets, which have been since the world began” (Acts 3:19; Acts 3:21, R.V.) It is the consummation which John heard rapturously celebrated by the great voices in heaven when the seventh angel sounded, “The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15, R.V.) We have in these and the following verses the detailed account of the kingdom of the Son of Man, in its character, extent, and duration, as succeeding to and taking the place of the kingdoms of this world, including the dominion exercised by the Little Horn or Papal power. “The coming of Christ in His kingdom and glory,” says Archdeacon Harrison, “is in truth that great and final consummation for which the whole course of God’s moral government hath been ordered from the very beginning of the world’s history; and every successive stage in the fall of earthly power is, in its degree, a fuller manifestation of the glory with which the Almighty would invest His incarnate Son, exalted in His human nature as the Son of Man to supreme dominion.” In the sublime and magnificent passage before us we have—

I. The establishment of the kingdom and the installation of the Son of Man as its King (Daniel 7:13). “One like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him before Him: and there was given Him dominion and glory and a kingdom.” The kingdom is the donation of the Ancient of Days, here doubtless indicating the Father. “I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me” (Luke 22:29). Christ’s words to His Father at the close of His earthly ministry were, “Thou hast given Him power over all flesh; “and to His disciples before His ascension into heaven He said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and on earth” (John 17:2; Matthew 28:18). God “hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,” &c. (Philippians 2:10). This donation of the kingdom is represented in Scripture as made to the Son of Man, or to the Son of God as the Son of Man, in virtue of His having become such in obedience to the will of God the Father, for the redemption of a lost world, and as the reward for the completion of that redeeming work given Him by the Father to do (John 17:4-5; John 5:27; John 6:38; John 10:17-18; Philippians 2:7-10; Psalms 40:6-8; Isaiah 53:10-12). The text exhibits the solemn installation of the Son of Man or the Messiah into His kingdom, in the presence of assembled angels who attend Him as He comes forward to receive the kingdom at the hands of His Father. The passage has its parallel in Psalms 68:17-18, “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels,” &c. The Son of Man is represented as coming to the Ancient of Days “with the clouds of heaven” [201]. This passage recalls the ascension of Jesus; angels attended Him as He went up to heaven, while a cloud received Him out of His disciples’ sight (Acts 1:9-10). To that event also the psalm just quoted appears to refer, “Thou hast ascended up on high.” The text might indeed be regarded as descriptive of the time when the Lord Jesus, having finished the work given Him to do, went up to receive His reward at the hands of His well-pleased Father, and has by some been referred to that event. Doubtless such a public, solemn donation and installation in the presence of the angels of God then took place, “Angels and authorities and powers being then made subject to Him” (1 Peter 3:22). The exaltation and the gift of the supreme name with universal dominion is also represented by the Apostle as past (Philippians 2:10). The nobleman in the parable (Christ Himself) was to go into the far country to receive for Himself a kingdom and then to return (Luke 19:12). The text, however, has been applied by Christ Himself not to His going up to heaven, but to His coming down from heaven, visibly and in glory: “Hereafter ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:64). [202] The reference to the words of Daniel is obvious; and no less so the reference to His own second and glorious Advent. The text evidently so understood by the apostles. Hence the words of the Apocalypse, “Behold He cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see Him, and they also that pierced Him” (Revelation 1:7). The prophecy might indeed include both. Both were connected by the two angel-messengers on the Mount of Olives: “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye here gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who is taken from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go up into heaven” (Acts 1:11). He went up with clouds; He will come again with clouds. He went to receive the promised kingdom; He will come again to set up that kingdom in its glorious manifestation; for the time when He shall come to “judge the quick and the dead” is “at His appearing and His kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:1). It is true that in the text He is said to come not from heaven to earth, but to the Ancient of Days; but as the passage was obviously understood by the Saviour and His apostles to point to His glorious return, we have only to suppose that He comes to His Father previous and preparatory to His descent to earth. It is also to be observed that the event in the text is posterior to and in consequence of the great words of the Little Horn, and in connection with the judgment occasioned by them, and the destruction of the fourth beast which follows it. Here, as in the vision of the Great Image, the destruction of the world-kingdoms and the setting up of the kingdom of Messiah are brought together. It was when the stone smote the image, so that it was broken in pieces, and became as the chaff of the summer threshing-floor, that it became a mountain and filled the whole earth; the kingdom of Messiah taking the place of the kingdoms of this world, according to Revelation 11:15. The vision might indeed seem to intimate that the destruction of the fourth beast and its little horn was effected by the Son of Man Himself, who, for the execution of this part of His work, is conducted to His Father to receive the kingdom, in order to set it up in its glorious manifestation [203]. Thus the 2d Psalm represents the Messiah, God’s anointed King over Zion, as receiving this commission and promise from the Father, “Ask of me, and I will give Thee the heathen (the nations of the world) for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Psalms 2:8-9). The 110th Psalm represents Him as first exalted to His Father’s right hand, and then “smiting through kings in the day of His wrath,” and wounding “the heads over many countries.” Isaiah sees Him coming from Bozrah with garments dyed in the blood of His enemies (Isaiah 63:1). In the Apocalypse it is after “the battle of the great day of God Almighty,” and the destruction of His combined adversaries in Armageddon, that the thousand years’ reign of righteousness and peace under Himself and His saints is seen to commence (Revelation 19:11-21; Revelation 20:4).

[201] “With the clouds of heaven.” Keil observes: “Literally, ‘with’ the clouds, i.e., in connection with them, in or on them, as the case may be; surrounded by clouds.” He refers to Revelation 1:7; Mark 13:26; Matthew 24:30; Matthew 26:64; and adds: “If He who appears as a Son of Man with the clouds of heaven, comes before the Ancient of Days, executing the judgment on the earth, it is manifest that He could only come from heaven to earth.… The clouds are the veil or the ‘chariot’ on which God comes from heaven to execute judgment against His enemies. Cf. Psalms 18:10; Psalms 97:2-4; Psalms 104:3; Isaiah 19:1; Nahum 1:3. This passage forms the foundation for the declaration of Christ regarding His future coming, which is described, after Daniel 7:13, as a coming of the Son of Man with, in, or on the clouds of heaven, Matthew 24:30; Revelation 1:7; Revelation 14:14.” Dr. Pusey observes: “Even before our Lord came, the description was recognised as relating to the Messiah. The passage was cited in the Book of Enoch when affirming the pre-existence of the Messiah before the creation of the world. ‘Anani,’ He of the clouds, continued to be a name of the Messiah; and the Jews, unable to distinguish beforehand His first and second coming, reconciled the accounts of His humiliation and His glory by the well-known solution: ‘It is written of King Messiah, And see, with the clouds of heaven one like a Son of Man came; And it is written, Meek and sitting upon an ass.’ ” “Most Christian writers,” says Willet, “understand it of the second coming of Christ to judgment.” Willet himself applied it to the first coming of Christ, yet so that His kingdom should be finished at His second Advent.

[202] “Passages,” says Auberlen, “like Matthew 24:27-31; Acts 1:11; Revelation 1:7, leave scarcely a doubt that this appearance of the Lord will be visible. Moreover, the great and visible changes, of which there can be no doubt, which are thereby produced in the whole form of the world, render it probable; while the fundamental importance of this coming of the Lord consists, according to the declaration of St. Paul (Colossians 3:3-4), in this, that Christ and His Church shall become manifest and visible, even as before they are invisible in God. The Advent of Christ has a twofold object—to judge the world-power, and to bring to the Church redemption, transfiguration, and power over the world.” Junius understood the passage of Christ’s ascension to the Father, and His coming into the world in His deity to finish the work of redemption; His “coming in the clouds” being the figure of His divine majesty. Dr. Cox says: “His ‘coming in the clouds’ implies the dignity and splendour of the manifestation, but can no more be deemed literal than the garment and the hair and the wheels of the Ancient of Days.” Professor Bush, who refers the passage to the ascension, understands by clouds “a multitude of heavenly attendants.” But why depart from the natural and literal meaning without any necessity, when it yields a sufficiently good sense? New-come remarks that any signal interposition on behalf of His Church or in the destruction of His enemies may be metaphorically called a “coming” or a parousia of Christ; which may be quite true, without setting aside the literal meaning of the texts, which speak of His second appearing. Dr. Pusey remarks that among the “later ideas” alleged by opponents as an argument against the Book of Daniel, is the doctrine of the Messiah, which, it is said, appears already much more developed than in Ezekiel; Messiah here appearing as a superhuman being, while no traces of His divine nature occur elsewhere in the prophets. This is simply untrue. See Psalms 110:1, applied by our Lord to show His divinity. So also Hebrews 1:8. Nothing strange had it been otherwise. Daniel, living nearly to the close of the former revelation, might receive doctrine, especially as to the Messiah, not revealed before.

[203] “There was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom” (Daniel 7:14). “The kingdom of God,” says Auberlen, “has different periods; it is come in Christ (Matthew 12:28); it spreads in the world by internal, spiritual, hidden processes (Matthew 13:33); but, as a kingdom, in the strict sense of the word, in royal glory, it shall only come with the parousia (coming or presence) of Christ (Luke 9:11-12; Luke 9:15); even as we are, according to Christ’s command, to pray even now day after day, Thy kingdom come.” Keil regards the commencement of the kingdom as at the first coming of Christ, and its continuance in the form of the Christian Church, terminating with His second visible appearing in the clouds of heaven to final judgment.

II. The reality of the kingdom. It is something given to Him by the Father. That something is called “dominion, and glory, and a kingdom.” As the result of it, “peoples and nations and languages” were to “serve Him.” The gift was as truly a kingdom as any of those that preceded it; as that, for example, which God “gave” to Nebuchadnezzar. It is represented as properly a fifth universal monarchy, abolishing and taking the place of the fourth, as that did in regard to its predecessor. As a kingdom or monarchy, it has, like the rest, its Ruler, its subjects, its laws, its administration. It is a kingdom or monarchy rather than a republic; for it has one Head or Ruler, the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords; and yet it is also true that the kingdom is given to “the people of the saints of the Most High,” who shall reign along with Him (Daniel 7:18; Daniel 7:22; Daniel 7:27). The difference between this kingdom and those that preceded it is in its origin, its character, its blessings, its objects, its extent, and its duration.

III. The Head of the kingdom. This distinctly said to be the Son of Man. No question as to who this is. The title constantly appropriated by the Lord Jesus, though not given to Him by His disciples. The title given also to the Messiah in Psalms 80:17. His title in virtue of His incarnation, marking Him truly man while He is as truly God. The Son of Man and Son of God in one person. The Son of Man par excellence. Pre-eminently the Man. The new Head and representative of humanity. The second Adam, taking the place of the first root and father of the race, by whom it fell. The sovereignty over creation given to man lost in the first Adam and regained in the second (Psalms 8:0; Hebrews 2:8-9). Sin and death our inheritance through the first man, righteousness and life through the second, called the Son of Man (Romans 5:12; Romans 5:17; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22). As Jesus declared Himself before the high priest to be the Son of Man of whom Daniel spoke in the text, so before Pilate He declared Himself to be a King, and the King of the Jews, though His kingdom was not then of this world (John 18:36-37). The world’s blessedness is in this, that at length it shall be under the rule of the Son of Man as its King, the King of righteousness and Prince of peace, the Son of Man and yet the Mighty God, the Ruler for whom it has sighed for nearly six thousand years.

IV. The time of the kingdom. This appears to be plainly indicated as immediately succeeding the destruction of the fourth beast or Roman Empire with its ten kingdoms and little horn. The kingdom of the Son of Man, although set up in its commencement in the days of the fourth or last empire (chap. Daniel 2:44), yet is obviously intended to be the successor, and to take the place of, the four great monarchies. That Christ began to exercise His regal office immediately after His ascension, and has been doing so ever since, there can be no doubt. The foundation of His visible kingdom in the world seems to have been laid on the day of Pentecost, when, after the descent of the Spirit, the apostles declared, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:33). The kingdom, however, was perhaps then, and still is, rather in its preparation than in its manifestation and glory. The nobleman is receiving the kingdom in the far country. Thus Paul connects the kingdom that is in its full development and glory with His appearing when He shall judge both quick and dead (2 Timothy 4:1). It is “in the regeneration,” or renewed state of the world, that “the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of His glory,” and the apostles shall “sit also on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:28, R.V.) During this time of preparation, the dispensation of the Gospel, those were to be gathered out who, after overcoming in the fight of faith, shall sit with Christ on His throne, and receive from Him authority over the nations to rule them, as He also has received of His Father (Revelation 2:26-27; Revelation 3:21). The times of the Gentiles are to be fulfilled, and Israel is to be brought to receive in penitence their rejected king, before the times of refreshing can come from the presence of the Lord, and God can send again Jesus, whom till then the heavens were to receive (Acts 3:19-21, R.V.) Then, according to the prophet, shall the Lord of hosts “reign in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients gloriously” (Isaiah 24:21-23). In this sense believers still have to pray, “Thy kingdom come,” or, in the words that have for centuries been uttered at the open grave, that the Lord would “shortly accomplish the number of His elect and hasten His kingdom.”

V. The place of the kingdom. This is obviously the earth, the place of the preceding monarchies. The kingdom is said to be not in heaven, but “under the whole heaven” (Daniel 7:27). It is peoples, nations, languages, and dominions (marg., rulers) that are to serve and obey Him (Daniel 7:14; Daniel 7:27). But these only have their place and existence as such on earth. The expectation of the saints now in glory is that they shall reign with Christ on the earth (Revelation 5:10; Revelation 20:4). It is the kingdoms of the world that are to become “the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ” (Revelation 11:15). The stone, when become a great mountain, was to fill the whole earth. The earth, made to be inhabited by man, but seized and held by the great usurper, to be rescued and restored by the second Adam as the special seat and sphere of His kingdom. The earth not to be annihilated at His coming, but purified and delivered “from the bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:21). “We, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13). God’s sending back Jesus connected with “times of refreshing” to the earth (Acts 3:19, R.V.)

VI. The administration of the kingdom. While the Son of Man is the sole Head of the kingdom, it is said at the same time, more than once; to be “given to the people of the saints of the Most High” (Daniel 7:14; Daniel 7:22; Daniel 7:27). These intended to be associated with Christ, and to administer the kingdom under Him Christ’s renewed people, as made one with Him, are, as kings and priests, to reign with Him in His manifested kingdom and glory. “If we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him” (1 Timothy 2:12). “He that overcometh, to him will I give authority over the nations, and he shall rule them, even as I received of my Father.” “To him will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne” (Revelation 2:26-27; Revelation 3:21). The saints shall judge the world and even angels (1 Corinthians 6:2-3). Of the execution of future judgment the Psalmist says, “This honour have all the saints” (Psalms 49:9). The words addressed to the faithful servant in the parable in accordance with the general teaching of the Scripture, “Have thou authority over ten cities” (Luke 19:17) [204].

[204] For further consideration of the administration of the kingdom by the saints, see next section. “Of the saints’ participation in the glory and reign of Christ,” says Auberlen, “the New Testament throughout speaks often and fully. See Romans 8:17; 2 Timothy 2:12; 1 Corinthians 4:8; Romans 5:17; Luke 12:32; Luke 22:29.… After having gathered His Church, and after having taken His Bride to Himself, Christ returns with her to heaven. Earth is not as yet transfigured, and can consequently not be the locality meet for the transfigured Church. But from heaven the saints now rule the earth; whence we may conclude that one of the glories of the millennium shall consist in the much freer and more vivid communion of the heavenly and earthly Churches in particular, and the lower and higher world in general. There now commences a manifestation of God through the perfected Church; a manifestation of God to humanity then on earth, through the instrumentality of the perfected Church. By which manifestation the social life of humanity is influenced into obedience to the divine power, which is shown and realised in the perfect Church, by which the God-opposed element is prevented from exerting its power in the way of forming communions or combinations.” Hofmann, quoted by Auberlen, says: “Thus not only does the evil spiritual influence which the prince of this world exerted in humanity cease, but in place of it the transfigured (glorified) Church of God obtains a most blessed dominion over the world; and they know no higher joy than to lead their brethren to the same salvation and glory in which they themselves partake.”

VII. The character of the kingdom. This gathered, first, from the fact that Christ is its King and Head, and that the saints of the Most High are associated with Him in the administration of it; and, secondly, from the fact that all peoples and nations, with their rulers, shall serve and obey Him (Daniel 7:14; Daniel 7:27). The King is at once King of righteousness and King of peace, holy, harmless, and undefiled, meek and lowly in heart. Those who reign or administer with and under Him are saints—saints of the Most High; holy, as He is holy; persons who were once sinners, but by almighty grace have been transformed into the image of the King. Such a kingdom must render earth a paradise restored, a kingdom in which love reigns instead of selfishness and hate, righteousness instead of injustice and wrong, truth instead of falsehood and deceit, humility instead of pride and vainglory, purity instead of licentiousness and lust. “Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of His times, and the strength of salvation” (Isaiah 33:6). The Canaanite no more in the house of the Lord. God’s house no more made a place of merchandise or a den of thieves. The profession of religion no more, or with rare exceptions, dissociated from its possession. “Holiness to the Lord” inscribed on the horse-bridles. Every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah holiness to the Lord of hosts. Superstition and formality gone, the incense of loving praise and the pure offering of renewed hearts everywhere presented. Social life entirely changed and purified. Christian governments such in reality, instead of being only so in name. Kings the nursing fathers and their queens the nursing mothers of the Church, instead of being, as frequently before, its persecutors and oppressors. Nations will live in peace and loving brotherhood with each other. Weapons of war will be turned into implements of husbandry, and the art of it forgotten [205]. Converted Israel will not be grudged his place as the head of the nations, [206] while Jesus still retains His title, “The King of the Jews.” Adequate means for the accomplishment of so great and glorious a change in the world provided in the Spirit that, according to the promise, shall be poured out, not only on Israel, but upon all flesh (Zechariah 12:10; Joel 2:28, &c.), of which the blessed effusion at Pentecost, with its mighty results, was but the first-fruits (Acts 2:0; Romans 8:23; James 1:18). All things that offend or cause to stumble gathered out of the kingdom, and Satan, the deceiver of the nations, bound for a thousand years (Matthew 13:41; Revelation 20:2). The work of conversion apparently to be aided by the judgments that shall have preceded it (Psalms 46:8-10) [207].

[205] Dr. Rule remarks that the Zendavesta, written, as is believed, by Zoroaster in the reign of Darius Hystaspes, the same reign in which the Temple was rebuilt, contains a prediction that in the last days a Man would appear and adorn the world with religion and justice; that He would revive justice among the inhabitants of the world, suppress wrongs, and restore ancient customs which had fallen into decay. He foretold, or pretended to foretell, that kings would follow and serve Him; that he would establish true religion, and that in his time peace and tranquillity would prevail, dissensions be forgotten, and trouble pass away. An expectation of the advent of such a deliverer might well have been raised by the prophecies of Daniel, and have brought the Persian Magi from the East to worship the new-born King of the Jews.
[206] “The Jews were to be distinguished by their covenant as the first in the kingdom and the organs for divine communications to mankind. From the earlier to the later parables of our Lord we see the ideality of the kingdom undergo a remarkable change. At first the kingdom of heaven was to embrace all men; was to last from that time forth; was to be successful. Afterwards men refused to receive it; it was shut up; to be delayed till the Bridegroom came, or the Nobleman returned from the distant country, or the Son of Man appeared in glory.… These considerations leave us no room to doubt that the original idea in Christ’s preaching was that the kingdom was a theocratic one; the Jews were still to be the covenant people, receptacles of the successive communications of Deity; and through their means the other idea of the kingdom, namely, its spiritual one, was to come forth.… We are now living in the frustrated state of Christianity. We do not see the bright visions of the prophets because of the infidelity of the Jews. Nor will these visions ever be fulfilled until they turn to the Lord, and become again a theocratic community.… The last words of our Lord in public were a lamentation over Jerusalem for having refused to receive Him, and a warning that in consequence their house should be left to them desolate, accompanied by a prediction that He would not come again till they (the Jews) should say, ‘Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord;’ that is, He announces two events: first, the destruction of Jerusalem, because the Jews had rejected Him; and, secondly, His coming again when they should be ready to acknowledge Him.”—Johnstone’s Israel after the flesh. “The Israelitish priest-kings are upon earth in the millennium what the transfigured (glorified) priest-kings are in heaven. Then there shall be a blessed chain of giving and receiving,—God, Christ, the transfigured Bride or the Church, Israel, the world of nations.… Israel, brought back to his own land, will now be the people of God in a much higher and more internal sense than he was before; for now the power of sin is checked, the knowledge of the Lord fills the whole land, and the Lord dwells again among His people at Jerusalem. Then a new time of revelation will begin; the Spirit of God will be poured out abundantly, and a fulness of the gifts of grace (charismata) be bestowed, even as the Apostolic Church possessed it typically.… And with this sacred and glorious character of divine service shall be combined a corresponding government of the world,—a fulness of blessings and undisturbed festal joy. When Israel glorifies God and is again glorified by his God, a deep and powerful impression cannot fail to be made upon the Gentiles. Now it is no longer necessary to go after and seek the Gentiles laboriously; on the contrary, they come willingly of themselves, attracted by the rich gifts of God’s mercy and the fulness of divine manifestation which they behold. It is their delight now to serve their God and to offer to Him their noblest and best offerings. Now, in the millennium, Jews and Gentiles are united, and all humanity, united under the First-born Brother, walks in the light of God; and then the true and just life of humanity is at last realised (Romans 11:30-32).”—Auberlen.

[207] Dr. Rule remarks that the establishment of the eternal kingdom lies in remote futurity, and that it is not promised until the Antichristian apostasy should be annihilated, and Antichristian kingdoms too. This, however, may not require so remote a futurity. “A short work will the Lord make upon the earth.” Dr. Rule thinks that “between that extinction of the Papacy and the universal prevalence of Christianity there is an interval marked, yet not measured; and then there will probably be some signal methods ordained for bringing round the glorious consummation.”

VIII. The extent of the kingdom. Repeatedly declared to be universal. More truly so than any of its predecessors. The earth to be filled with the knowledge of the Lord. Men everywhere to be blessed in Christ, and all nations to call Him blessed. Each individual not necessarily regenerated. Religion universally professed, and generally, though not universally, experienced. As the kingdom advances and spreads, the unregenerate man made an exception. “The sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed” (Isaiah 45:20). Service everywhere rendered to Christ externally, though not in all cases sincerely. A forced subjection rendered where there is not a willing one. The former, however, the exception (Psalms 18:44-45). Cases of disobedience marked and suitably visited (Zechariah 14:16-19). Converted Israel apparently the principal human instrumentality employed in extending the kingdom of Christ among the nations (Isaiah 66:19) [208]. The sphere of their activity apparently those nations who had been left unevangelised or living at a distance from Palestine: “The isles that are afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory;” probably much of Asia, Africa, and America. Israel to be the third with Egypt and with Assyria: “Even a blessing in the midst of the earth” (Isaiah 19:23-25).

[208] “The majority of humanity then living and remaining after the Parousia (or coming of Christ) belong neither to the one class nor to the other (neither to apostate Christendom nor to the faithful congregation caught up with Christ to heaven). They consist of Jews and heathens.… Besides the Harlot and the Beast, their exist on earth Judaism and heathenism in their old shape, without reference to Christianity; and in this form they are comparatively innocent, because they have not yet come into close contact with the Gospel of mercy, and are therefore not guilty of rejecting and stamping it under foot.… Hence Judaism and heathenism, in the strict sense, that is, Israel and the heathen, living at the time of the Parousia, are the comparatively healthy elements which form the new soil of a new development. And this is part of the humiliation of the modern civilised nations, that nations which they despise most, Jews and uncivilised barbarians (perhaps chiefly the negroes of Africa, the Hamites, who, on account of the curse of Noah, have been so backward and neglected, Cush, Seba, &c.—Psalms 68:31; Psalms 72:10), shall succeed them, and surpass them as centres of the world’s history.… At the beginning of the millennial kingdom humanity will be in a condition similar to that in which it was at the commencement of the Church-historical time, after the ascension of the Saviour. Again, Israel and the heathen shall be the representatives of history; and distinguished from them, we see the Christian congregation wishing to christianise them. But everything now is on a higher degree of development. Not only has the preaching of the Gospel of the kingdom among Jews and heathens before the second Advent of the Lord prepared the dawn of light (Matthew 24:14), so that the nations can understand something of the wonderful events attending the coming of the Lord; but the events themselves, the coming of Christ in glory, the destruction of the Autichristian power, the transfiguration of the Church of believers, the binding of Satan, and the ceasing of Satanic influences, must necessarily produce an unspeakably deep impression on the nations. Now the veil of Moses is taken from Israel, and the face of the covering, which was cast upon all people, is broken (2 Corinthians 3:14-16; Isaiah 25:7).”—Auberlen.

IX. The duration of it. This repeatedly said to be perpetual, “for ever and ever.” This kingdom never, like its predecessors, to pass away and be succeeded by another. Sin not again to turn the earth into a wilderness. The final outbreak under Satan, released for a little at the expiry of a thousand years, [209] speedily terminated by fire from heaven (Revelation 20:7-9). The subsequent state of things not clearly revealed [210]. Apparently the general judgment, with the resurrection of those who had not previously been raised. Perhaps the kingdom then delivered up to the Father, “that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28). Uncertain whether the last two chapters of the Revelations describe the state of things before or after the general judgment—in the millennial kingdom or after it, though generally understood to be the latter. Certain that no kingdom shall ever succeed that of Jesus Christ on this earth. The kingdom will only cease on earth if earth itself is to do so.

[209] Some think no definite period is intended by the thousand years. Strange to say, some, as Willet, make it to begin after the ten heathen persecutions and with the time of Constantine, and to end with that of Wickliffe and John Huss; the resurrection being the re newing of the soul and its rising from dead works by the preaching of the Gospel. Some again, as the translators of the Geneva Bible, make it to commence with the nativity of Christ and terminate with the time of Pope Sylvester; while others, as Junius, place its commencement thirty-six years after Christ, and its termination in the time of Hildebrand or Gregory VII. One may wonder how at such a time Satan could be said to be bound so as not to deceive the nations any more.

[210] “After the millennial kingdom,” says Auberlen, “after the universal judgment, when heaven and earth are renewed, and the New Jerusalem descends from heaven, then all limitation shall disappear and cease.… Not even the millennial kingdom is the final end of the development of God’s kingdom. For even during the millennium there is a separation between heaven and earth,—between humanity transfigured and humanity still living in the flesh. Hence it is possible that the apostasy should take place at the end of the millennium. The kingdom is more glorious than the Church, but it is not yet the new world. It is a time of refreshing after the times of warfare, but not yet the time of perfection in the strict sense of the word.… As the life of the God-man, so likewise the first period of the existence of divine life is one of inward, spiritual, hidden humility during the Church-historic time, in which nature and history pursue essentially their wonted unspiritual course. After this period the life of Christ becomes manifest and visible (Colossians 3:3-4); it penetrates powerfully the whole world of history in all its fundamental elements—state, art, civilisation, &c.; this is the millennial kingdom. And, finally, this life becomes also the power which transfigures the world universally,—in the time of the new heavens and the new earth.”

X. The certainty of the kingdom. This is as great as the word of the living God can make it. Its establishment and blessings the constant subject of the teaching both of Jesus Christ and His apostles. The keynote of the Apocalypse. The predictions regarding the previous four monarchies exactly fulfilled; those pertaining to the fifth will not be less so. Uncertainty may exist in regard to some things connected with the kingdom, none in regard to the kingdom itself. How Christ may come to set it up in its glorious manifestation and power, and at what time He may do so, and what shall be the concomitants of its establishment; how He will exercise His kingly rule, and how long it shall continue, whether a thousand years literally or otherwise, and what state of things shall follow; these and many other things connected with the kingdom may be uncertain, but the kingdom itself, in its more glorious manifestation and universal extension, is among the certainties of the word of Him who cannot lie. It has been already and still is in the world, and has for more than eighteen centuries blessed men with its precious fruits wherever it has been made known, and unbelief has not rejected it. It has indeed been but as the grain of mustard-seed, and the enemy has sadly mixed the tares with the wheat. But the mustard-seed shall become a tree, and the tares shall be rooted up, and the mystery of iniquity, that has so disfigured and changed the appearance of the kingdom, shall be destroyed; and the kingdom, which had been only a hidden one, and without observation, with perhaps only now and then a prelusive flash bursting forth from behind the cloud, shall be manifested in glory, and embrace all nations. The Gospel, or glad tidings of this kingdom, must first be preached for a witness to all nations, and then shall the long-desired end come. Even so come, Lord Jesus!

1. It is for believers to rejoice in the prospect revealed in the text. In the anticipation of a universal and endless reign of righteousness and peace to bless this poor, sin-stricken, and curse-laden earth, we may well rejoice. The prospect of a kingdom that shall bring glory to God in the highest, on earth peace and goodwill among men, instead of the wretchedness, and crime, and tears, and blood with which sin has stained and burdened it for six thousand years, may well make glad the heart of every lover of God and of his kind. In the midst of the groans and miseries of a world that yet lies under the power of the Evil One, who is a murderer from the beginning, infallible truth calls us to rejoice in the assurance that the day is hastening on when He who has been constituted Lord of all, because He has redeemed them by His precious blood, shall “make all things new,” and establish a state of things far exceeding the anticipations of the most sanguine philanthropists. In the prospect of what it promises in connection with the kingdom of the Son of Man, inspiration calls upon us greatly to rejoice in sympathy with a renovated and rejoicing world: “Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar and the fulness thereof. Let the fields be joyful, and all that is therein; then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord. For He cometh, for He Cometh to judge [to deliver and govern] the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with His truth” (Psalms 96:11-13; see also Psalms 97:1; Psalms 98:4-9). In the midst of prevailing darkness and confusion, and scepticism and sin, it belongs to believers to rejoice that, not merely for themselves, but for the world, it is “better on before.”

2. It is for us to make sure our place in that kingdom now. It is our privilege to be among the subjects of the Son of Man now, by accepting Him cordially as our King and our Saviour from sin. He has His kingdom now, into which He brings every penitent believing soul, or rather which He brings into such a soul. He has His kingdom of grace now, preparatory to the kingdom of glory hereafter. To be His loyal and loving subject now, secures that we shall be among His glorified subjects in the day of His appearing. It is ours to make this sure, through His Spirit’s grace, by accepting Him as our King and Saviour, and giving ourselves up entirely to Him to save and rule us. “To as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name” (John 1:12).

3. It is our privilege and duty to speed that kingdom by our prayers, and to prepare others as well as ourselves for a place in it. It is the King Himself who has taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come!” Offered with the heart, and not merely, as too often, with the lips, it will not be in vain. In answer to the prayer of His elect, who cry day and night to Him continually, He will hasten His kingdom. He will appear in His glory and build again Zion, “because He shall regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer” (Psalms 102:13-16). A prayer to the same effect left us in the last words of the Bible, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” The Spirit exhorts us by Peter, not merely to “hasten unto,” but to “hasten” the coming of the day of God (2 Peter 3:12, margin). But it is ours also to seek to gather others into the kingdom, that so the number of His elect may be accomplished, and the kingdom in its glory be hastened. Peter urged the Jews to repent and be converted in order that the times of refreshing might come, and God might send again Jesus (Acts 3:19, R.V.) The Bride, whom He is to receive and bring with Him, is to be gathered out and prepared for His coming. For this the Gospel is to be preached to all nations, and the Bride, already gathered out, is to say to all others, “Come.” This loving and loved work of Jesus when on earth He has left for His saved people to do in His name and stead: “Ye shall be witnesses unto me unto the uttermost ends of the earth” (Acts 1:6-8). The kingdom of grace, or rather Jesus Himself, like Noah’s Ark, stands open as the only place of safety for sinners, and His people are with loving persuasion to “compel them to come in.”

Verse 18

HOMILETICS

SECT. XXVII.—THE KINGDOM OF THE SAINTS OF THE MOST HIGH (Chap. Daniel 7:18; Daniel 7:22; Daniel 7:27)

‘The saints shall take the kingdom.” A striking feature in the kingdom predicted in this vision of Daniel is that, while it is distinctly said to be given to the Son of Man, it is just as distinctly said, and that twice over, to be given to the saints, or to the people of the saints of the Most High, and that the saints take the kingdom. Although this circumstance has been slightly referred to under the preceding section, in connection with the administration of the kingdom of the Son of Man, yet from the prominence given to it and its threefold repetition in the vision it demands a separate consideration. We notice—the saints to whom the kingdom is given; the kingdom itself; the sense in which it is given to the saints; the suitableness of the appointment; and the beneficial results.

I. The saints [211]. Saints denote holy or sanctified persons. The term is applicable both to angels and men. Here it is the latter. “Holy” means separated from sin, and separated to God and His service. The former may be called the moral, the latter the official meaning of the term. Whatever is set apart to God and His service or use may be called holy in the official sense. Men thus set apart are or ought to be holy also in the moral sense, holy in heart and life, or separate from sin. This is the sense in the text; hence they are called “saints of the Most High,” such as are both separated to His service, belonging to Him as His own, made saints by Himself, and approved by Him as such. This far removed from the profane caricature of Papal canonisation. Men are made saints by the mighty power of divine grace, renewing them in the spirit of their mind, making them spiritually alive from being dead in trespasses and sins, and rendering them “new creatures,” or a new creation in Christ Jesus. This is especially the work assigned to the Holy Ghost, and such are said to be “born of the Spirit.” Baptism with water is the sign, but not the instrument of it. Cornelius, and thousands more, were born again of the Spirit before they were baptized; while Simon the sorcerer, like millions more, though baptized with water, was never born again at all. The instrument in the new birth, in the case of any beyond infancy, is the Word of truth. “Being born again,” says Peter, “not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, that liveth and abideth for ever.” “Of His own will,” says James, “begat He us by the Word of truth.” It is by the same instrument that the work of holiness or sanctification is carried on in the saints afterwards. “Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy Word is truth.” “Now ye are clean through the Word that I have spoken unto you.” “That He might sanctify and cleanse it (the Church) with the washing of water by the Word” (John 17:17; John 15:3; Ephesians 5:26). This renewing and sanctifying of the soul by the Holy Ghost is effected in union with Christ, as members of His body and branches in Him as the true Vine,—“sanctified in Christ Jesus.” The work is carried on here in the body of flesh, but is only perfected when the body is either put off at death or changed at the Lord’s coming. Hence “the spirits of just men made perfect.” Men may be truly saints here, but only perfected saints hereafter. This saintship or sanctified condition is peculiar to no nation or class. There is, however, also a federal or covenant holiness which may belong to a nation or class, and which, like official holiness, may exist without holiness in heart and life. Thus the Jews were a holy, because a covenant people, chosen by the Lord as a people for Himself. Thus baptized Christians and the children of such are federally holy, as taken outwardly into the Christian covenant, and professedly given up to God in baptism, though, alas! too often, like the Jews, far away from moral and personal holiness. The saints of the Most High are not merely federally and officially, but morally and personally holy; holy as God is holy, and pure as God is pure, partakers of the divine character, and possessing the same holiness in kind though not in degree. In the Old Testament such were chiefly found among the Jews, to whom pertained the adoption and the giving of the law, as well as the covenants and the promises. In the New Testament they are found both among Jews and Gentiles of every nation, people, and tongue. It is of such that the kingdom of the Son of Man, identical with the kingdom given to the saints, consists. Hence the commission: “Go ye and teach (disciple) all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” While He is King of the Jews, He is also “Lord of all.” There appears, therefore, no reason for limiting the term in the text, especially as the vision has obviously its fulfilment, not in Old, but in New Testament times. A more difficult question perhaps might be, Are they the glorified saints, or saints still in the body, or both? [212] If the giving of the kingdom to the saints is to be understood in the sense of reward, as in that sense it is given to the Son of Man, then it would seem that the saints here indicated are those who, like Paul, have fought the good fight, have finished their course, and have kept the faith, and so have now received the crown of righteousness from the hand of the righteous Judge at His appearing. On this supposition they are those who have overcome, and so have received power from Christ “over the nations to rule them,” and have been made to sit down with Him on His throne. It would be the fulfilment of the promise, “Ye are they that have continued with me in my temptations, and I appoint unto you a kingdom, even as my Father hath appointed unto me” (Luke 22:28-29). Other parallel passages would be Revelation 5:9-10; Revelation 17:18; Revelation 20:4. In this case, the saints would be those who should be raised from the dead at the Lord’s appearing, according to 1 Corinthians 15:23, and 1 Thessalonians 4:16, together with those who should be alive at His coming (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:17). However, even in respect to the saints then still in the body, and constituting the renewed subjects of the millennial kingdom in general, with converted Israel in particular, it would still be true that the saints take the kingdom, all civil government being then exercised by the holy persons in subordination to Christ and His glorified Bride.

[211] “Saints.” According to Keil, these are neither the Jews, who are accustomed to call themselves “saints,” in contrast with the heathen (as V. Lengerke, Maurer, Hitzig, &c., think), nor the converted Israel of the millennium (as Hofmann and others believe); but, as we argue from Exodus 19:6; Deuteronomy 7:6, the true members of the covenant nation, the New Testament Israel of God, i.e., the congregation of the new covenant, consisting of Israel and the faithful of all nations. Auberlen, like Hofmann, understands the Jews still on earth to be the saints meant in this vision of Daniel. “By ‘the people of the saints of the Most High,’ to whom dominion is given, Daniel evidently could only understand the people of Israel, as distinguished from the heathen nations and kingdoms, which were to rule till then. In this point Roos, Preiswerk, Hofmann, agree with Hitzig, Bertholdt, and others. The prophet’s words refer to the re-establishment of the kingdom of Israel, concerning which the disciples asked immediately before the ascension.” Œcolampadius and others understood the faithful reigning with Christ in the celestial kingdom. Willet, however, justly observes that the kingdom is not said to be in heaven, but under heaven, and therefore on earth. Some, as Pellican and Bullinger, thought the Church of Christ is indicated, commencing while the other monarchies were still standing, and propagated over all the world in the time of the fourth beast or Roman Empire. Willet thinks the kingdom is the spiritual dominion of the Church, commencing when the other monarchies are extinguished; beginning in this world, but perfected at the Lord’s second Advent, the saints reigning in grace here and in glory hereafter.

[212] “Among the saints who are called to reign with Christ,” says Auberlen on Revelation 20:4, “the martyrs of ancient and modern times are mentioned first; they become most like to the Lord Jesus in their suffering and death, and are therefore nearest Him in His life and reign.… And the Saviour teaches expressly that at His second coming as King of the kingdom, He shall place one servant over ten cities and another over five, according to the measure of faithfulness they showed during His absence (Luke 19:11). Next to the martyrs are mentioned all who had not worshipped the beast, be it in more remote times or in the last days, which are referred to by the image and the mark upon their forehead, as will appear from a comparison with Revelation 13:14-17. Worshippers of the beast are all they that take the powers of this world as a reality and serve it, instead of looking to things invisible and future (2 Corinthians 4:17).… Hence our passage refers to the whole congregation of believers who are born of God, to God’s Church gathered out of Israel and the Gentiles (Romans 8:17).… Immediately connected with the resurrection of the dead is the transfiguration of those who will be then living on the earth; and the living thus changed, freed from the weight of the earthly and corruptible, and transported into the essential liberty of spirit, can now, even as the transfigured Saviour ascended up on high, be caught up into the clouds to meet the returning Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17). The New Testament tells us that instead of the devil, the transfigured Church of Christ shall rule the world; while the Old Testament informs us that instead of the heathen beast, the holy people of Israel shall do so. Both agree in what is of central importance, that it is Christ, the Son of Man, who now rules humanity by His transfigured Church in heaven and by His people Israel on earth.” Calvin observes that in consequence of the intimate union between Christ and His Church, what belongs to the Head is transferred to the body; that the supreme power is constantly promised by the prophets to the Church, especially by Jesus Christ, who often predicts its complete supremacy; and that while the Church reigns by itself, Christ, its only supreme Head, obtains dominion therein.

II. The kingdom itself. This appears to be the same as that of which the interpreting angel had already spoken as the kingdom given by the Ancient of Days to the Son of Man—the kingdom of which Christ is the Head and King, and which was to take the place of the kingdoms of this world, or of the four monarchies, which shall have disappeared as the chaff of the summer threshing-floor (chap. 2) The same dominion, rule, and kingdom that is given to Christ is given to the saints as Christ’s members, who are to reign and be glorified with Him, and to sit with Him on His throne; to whom He Himself was to give authority over the nations, to rule them along with Him, and whom He was to appoint a kingdom as His Father had appointed to Himself. The kingdom is given by the Ancient of Days to Christ, and by Christ is given to His Church or Bride, to possess it along with Him, and be associated with Him in its government. The kingdom is heavenly in its origin and character, but has its place not in heaven but on earth, over and among the nations and peoples inhabiting it. While having its earthly visible and material side, like its predecessors, it will be spiritual and holy in its character, consisting not in meats and drinks, but in righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost; the kingdom that has been so long prayed for, when God’s will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven. From heaven, wherever that may be, the saints will rule the earth with Christ, while the saints on earth shall rule subordinately with them. The “kingdom of the world” shall become “the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ,” or His anointed members (Revelation 11:15, R.V.)

III. The sense in which the saints shall take the kingdom. This appears to be the same as that in which Christ Himself takes it. The angel indicates no difference; only that Christ receives it directly from the Ancient of Days, which the saints are not said to do, they receiving it mediately from or virtually in Christ, whose members and whose Bride they are, forming with Him one body and one Christ (Revelation 11:15; 1 Corinthians 12:12). Christ the Head receives the kingdom from the Father as His reward for the accomplishment of His mediatorial work given Him by the Father to do as His Righteous Servant (Philippians 2:6-10). His members receive it also as a reward from Christ, whose servants they were, and to whom they were enabled to be faithful even unto death. “If any man will serve me, let him follow me; and where I am there shall also my servant be. If any man serve me, him will my Father honour.” “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” “He that overcometh, and keepeth my words unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations.” “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations; and I appoint unto you a kingdom, even as my Father hath appointed me” (John 12:26; Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:21; Luke 22:28-29). The saints take the kingdom as heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. One with Christ, they share with Him in His glory and reign, as they shared with Him before in His humiliation and suffering. They possess the kingdom, and exercise kingly rule and authority with and under Him, as the priest-kings whom He made such by His grace after redeeming them by His blood (Revelation 1:5-6; Revelation 5:9-10). With the members as with the Head, it is first humiliation and then glory: “Out of prison he cometh to reign” (Ecclesiastes 4:13). They take the kingdom, not as the kings of the world, as a matter of earthly ambition, or through carnal relationship, or by skilful management, intrigue, and violence, or as conquerors with garments rolled in blood. They take it as a gift of grace from their loving Husband and King, whom it was given them by the same grace lovingly to follow and obey even unto death. They take and possess the kingdom, not for the gratification of personal ambition, or selfish desires, or carnal pleasures, from which, as saints, they are for ever separated; but for the glory of Him who created all things for Himself, and of His Son who redeemed them by His blood, as well as for the happiness of a regenerated world and wide-extended universe. For the same high and holy ends will the saints then still in the flesh, and Israel more especially, exercise in a subordinate capacity the rule which the King Himself in His wisdom shall assign to them. [213]

[213] “Take the kingdom.” Calvin refers the taking of the kingdom by the saints to the time when, after the promulgation of the Gospel, the kingdom of God and of the saints obtained some fame and celebrity in the world. In another place, however, he remarks that the slaying of the fourth beast and the giving the kingdom and authority to the people of the saints does not seem to have taken place yet; whence all Christian interpreters agree in treating this prophecy as relating to the final day of Christ’s Advent He himself thinks the saints began to reign under the whole heaven when Christ ushered in His kingdom by the promulgation of it; and that though Daniel does not here predict occurrences connected with the Advent of Christ as Judge of the World, but with the first preaching of the Gospel, yet he notwithstanding draws a magnificent picture of Christ’s reign, embracing its final completion. The taking of the kingdom was in like manner interpreted by the early Fathers as referring to the general spread of Christianity after the first Advent of Christ. So Dr. Lee and Professor Bush.

IV. The suitableness of the appointment. There is something suitable in the thrice-repeated declaration that the saints of the Most High, or truly holy persons, shall take the kingdom. In the preceding empires, and ever since Nimrod, the “mighty hunter before the Lord,” began to be “a mighty one on the earth,” the “vilest of men” have often been “exalted” to kingly power, and, as a consequence, the “wicked have walked on every side” (Psalms 12:8). For wise and holy reasons, God, in His mysterious providence, often sets over kingdoms the “basest of men,” when, as a natural result, the land is filled with misery and crime (Daniel 4:17). Selfish and godless rulers have constituted a part of the present state of earthly things. Natural, so long as “the whole world lieth in the evil one” (1 John 5:19, R.V.) Evil rulers a part of the evil entailed by the Fall, and often the chastisement of the sins of the people. What the world wants and longs for, but seldom obtains, is wise, upright, disinterested rulers, ruling in the fear of God and for the best interests of their subjects. Such is the state of things predicted in the text. Something suitable and becoming when holy men, separated from sin and selfishness, bearing the image and character of the God whose name and nature is love, and who is “righteous in all His ways and holy in all His works,” shall take, and, by divine gift, possess the kingdom. Such have learned to rule by being first taught how to obey, and have been trained to reign with Christ hereafter by suffering with Him here. Such fitted to rule by imbibing the spirit and walking in the steps of Him who was meek and lowly in heart, and who pleased not Himself, but went about doing good. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:3; Matthew 5:5).

V. Its beneficial results. The happiness of subjects greatly bound up with the character and government of their rulers. “The king by judgment establisheth the land.” “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked bear rule, the people mourn” (Proverbs 29:2; Proverbs 29:4). Seen in a measure in the rule of David, as compared with that of many who succeeded him. Limited examples also in our own Alfred, and in her who now sits upon his throne. The best of rulers, however, in the present state of things, able only to produce partial results, both from their own imperfect spiritual condition and that of their ministers and coadjutors in the government, their short continuance in power, the evil state of things already existing, and the hostile influences, visible and invisible, which oppose them. From these impediments the reign of the saints of the Most High in the millennial kingdom of the Son of Man will be greatly exempt, so that their rule will be naturally one of the highest beneficence, and attended with the happiest results to humanity [214]. The state of things in the world, under a government in which a King (Messiah) shall reign in righteousness, and princes (the saints associated with Him) shall rule in judgment, represented by the prophets under such imagery as the following: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.” “He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass; as showers that water the earth. There shall be a handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon; and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth” (Isaiah 11:6-9; Isaiah 65:25; Psalms 72:6; Psalms 72:16). Without any figure, “Then shall the earth yield her increase, and God, even our own God, shall bless us. God shall bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him” (Psalms 67:6-7). The subject suggests—

[214] “Not only,” says Auberlen, “does the evil spiritual influence which the prince of this world exerted on humanity in the preceding ages cease, but, in place of it, the transfigured Church of God obtain a most blessed dominion over the world. Christianity will pervade the world and all relations of life in spirit and in truth.… It is upon this present earth that it must be shown and proved that the devil, who pretended to be its rightful lord, was only a usurper; man, who was created to ‘have dominion over the earth,’ is to rejoice over his world with full, unmixed, holy joy. Every legitimate and true ideal will then become a reality.”

1. Cause of rejoicing in the prospect presented by the text. It was as a ground of comfort and a matter of rejoicing that it was three times announced to Daniel that the saints should take and possess the kingdom. It was intimated as good tidings not only for the saints themselves, who, instead of being given into the hands of oppressors and persecutors, despised and down-trodden, and often counted as sheep for the slaughter, should have the rule and government of the nations committed to them, but for the world who should reap the benefit of such a state of things. Whether it be the saints that have finished their course of suffering and service on earth, and now are glorified according to the promise, or whether it be the saints still living in the flesh, be it Jews or Gentiles, or both, it is for every lover of his kind to rejoice that a day is coming when truly holy persons, and only such, shall hold the reins of government, and administer a righteous and beneficent rule over the nations, in loyal and loving subordination and obedience to the Prince of Peace. That saints, renewed and sanctified in Christ, transformed into His image, and breathing His spirit of meekness, humility, and love, and at the same time guided by a wisdom that is from above, pure, peaceable, and gentle, full of mercy and of good fruits, instead of the wisdom that is earthly, sensual, and devilish—that such shall be the only rulers that the earth shall know, and that their rule shall be at the same time the rule of the Son of Man, with all power in heaven and earth, is surely a consummation devoutly to be wished, and a prospect greatly to be rejoiced in.

2. The blessed consequence of a faithful adherence to the Saviour. The saints shall take the kingdom. Believers are made kings and priests already. They are princes even now, but in disguise. They travel to their inheritance incognito. It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we do know that a crown of glory awaits every faithful follower of Jesus, however poor his condition may be now. If we suffer with Christ, we shall also reign with Him. Suffering with Him now, we shall be also glorified with Him hereafter. When He who is our life shall be manifested, we shall also “with Him be manifested in glory” (Colossians 3:4, R.V.) The humblest follower of Jesus, faithful unto death, shall receive a crown of life, and shall sit down with Christ in His throne, sharing with Him in His kingly glory, and in the government of a renewed world. They shall reign with Christ. “The saints shall judge the world. Know ye not that we shall judge angels?” (1 Corinthians 6:2-3). It matters not how the saints shall reign or exercise the kingly authority that shall be committed to them. What we know not now we shall know hereafter. Enough that the thing is true. If we suffer with Him, we shall reign with Him. Let this be our comfort under the burden and heat of the day, and let it animate us to use unfaltering perseverance in a cause of faithful self-denying service, till the Master shall please to call us from the field.

3. The character of the future blessedness of the saints. They shall possess the kingdom. They shall thus have noble work to do, honourable and dignified service to employ them. His servants shall still serve Him, and they shall serve Him in the highest form of service. They shall find abundant scope for the sanctified faculties which they shall possess, and have ample field for the exercise of the Christ-like disposition which shall animate them. Renewed in the image of the universal Ruler, they shall have the employment restored to them which was originally bestowed upon man at his creation, but was lost through the Fall. Their blessedness will not be mere rest, but rest from trouble, sin, and bondage, with a holy and happy employment which shall become their position as sons of God and brethren of the King of kings, and in which they shall with Him still contribute to the glory of the Creator and the happiness of His creatures. They will thus not only be made to resemble their Lord and Husband, but be kept in closest sympathy and fellowship with Him, as sharing in the government that shall be upon His shoulders. What was their chief happiness on earth will thus be perfected in glory. Their kingly and princely office they will also be enabled to discharge without fatigue, and without the grief of being continually opposed and thwarted in their benevolent endeavours by the wily and watchful enmity of him who was the great adversary of God and man, but who shall then be under a divine restraint, so as no more to deceive the nations (Revelation 20:4).

4. The privilege of believers to be employed now in a way that shall be both an anticipation of their future blessedness and their preparation for it. This is that of seeking, according to our gifts and opportunities, to promote the objects aimed at by Christ Himself and the saints that shall reign with Him over the earth—the glory of the Creator and the happiness of men, as experienced in His favour and service. To promote this twofold object is the work given to believers to do now, more especially by communicating the knowledge of the Saviour, and persuading men to be reconciled through Him to God. The Saviour’s parting commission to His Church, “Ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem, and in Judea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth.” “Preach the Gospel to every creature.” “Shine as lights in the world, holding forth the Word of life.” “Others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire.” For this blessed though now often trying and self-denying service He has promised and bestowed abundant qualification in the gift of His Holy Spirit: “Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you” (Acts 1:7-8). Such employment here, in whatever way and in whatever circumstances, a blessed anticipation of and preparation for our future employment when the saints shall take the kingdom. It was the faithful servant to whom it was said, “Have thou authority over ten cities.” Nor will the painful trials and deep sorrow which we may be called to experience in connection with a faithful endeavour to serve Christ and our fellow-men in the present state, be the least part of our preparation for the higher service that awaits us when all tears shall be wiped away.

5. Our interest to make sure our place now among the saints who shall possess the kingdom. Regard to one’s own interest makes this the first object we should be concerned to secure. The day is hastening when to have neglected this will appear the height of madness. To throw a fortune, a dukedom, a kingdom away, will one day soon appear to be reason and sense compared with the throwing away the opportunity of obtaining a place among those who shall in a few short years possess a kingdom that shall never pass away. That place is to be secured simply by a sincere and cordial acceptance of the Saviour whom God in His love has provided for a lost and guilty world, that Son of Man who came to seek and to save that which is lost. “To as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” That Son of Man who shall come one day in His glory and all His saints with Him, comes now in His Gospel to each man and woman who hears it, and offers him freely Himself, and along with Himself a place among His saints who shall hereafter with Himself possess the kingdom. Reader, have you cordially accepted Him? Is He yours? Are you among His redeemed people? If not, accept Him now, and take no rest till by His grace you are enabled joyfully to say, “My Lord and my God!”

Verses 19-25

HOMILETICS

SECT. XXIV.—THE LITTLE HORN (Chap. Daniel 7:8; Daniel 7:19-25)

We now come to that part of Daniel’s vision which especially distinguishes it from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. The king only saw the feet of the image divided into ten toes: Daniel not only sees ten horns proceeding from the head of the fourth beast, corresponding with these ten toes, but another horn additional to these, which, though appearing as a “little horn,” engaged the special attention of the prophet, and constitutes the leading object in the vision. The character of the kingdoms of the world was to be concentrated in that horn or the power represented by it, and it was from it that the Church of God was mainly to suffer [165]. As a “horn,” it was to be a power like the rest; that term, expressive of the powerful weapon of many animals, being figuratively employed in the Scripture to denote power or strength, and so a kingdom or a sovereignty. See Deuteronomy 33:17; Psalms 18:2; Luke 1:69. In relation to the “little horn” we have to notice—

[165] “It is in the fearful shape of the last beast that the world-power will fully manifest that its whole nature is opposed to God. But as the interest which attaches to the four monarchies is led rapidly over the first three to centre in the last, so, for the same reason, in considering the last we are led to the final shape.… The description introduces these horns merely to show how an eleventh has sprung up in their midst, a king in whom the full haughty hatred and rebellion against God, His people, and His service, finds its representative.… The essential nature of the kingdoms of the world appears concentrated in the fourth kingdom; the nature of the fourth kingdom, in like manner, in its last worldly ruler. Thus it is only at the end that the peculiar character of the world-power, “the mystery of iniquity,” is unveiled, and we recognise in the eleventh horn no other than he whom Paul calls “the Man of Sin” and “the Son of Perdition” (2 Thessalonians 2:0.) Here, for the first time in the development of revelation, the idea of Antichrist is clearly unfolded; because here, for the first time, the entire course of the development of the godless and God-opposing world is clearly surveyed down to the very end.”—Auberlen. So Dr. Pusey, who also sees in the Little Horn mainly an Antichrist yet to come.” “Why should there not be under the fourth empire an antagonism to the true God, concentrated in and directed by one individual, as it was in and by Antiochus in the third? Human nature repeats itself. What man has done, man will do. We Christians look for an Antichrist yet to come. Our Lord forewarned of him and his deceivableness. St. Paul describes such an one as Daniel speaks of.” We must not, however, overlook the Antichrist of the past and the present, while even as Protestants we may also acknowledge an Antichrist yet to come.

I. Its rise. It is said to rise among the other ten horns, and so to be contemporaneous with them; and also after or behind them, and so in the time of its appearance posterior to the rest, as well as gradual in its growth and for a time unobserved. Before it, three of the ten were “plucked up by the roots and fell,” or, as it is interpreted by the angel, it subdued three out of the ten kings or kingdoms, and so made room for itself by occupying their place (Daniel 7:8; Daniel 7:10; Daniel 7:24). The other horns obtained their place as kingdoms out of the body of the fourth beast or Roman empire; this one was to obtain its place out of that beast only indirectly, by gaining it out of the others.

II. Its character and description.

(1.) A “little” horn; small in comparison with the rest, especially in its commencement, and humble, perhaps, in its profession.

(2.) “Diverse from the rest;” its diversity consisting in this, that it had “eyes” in it, like the eyes of a “man,” and a “mouth speaking great things,”—the eyes and the mouth sufficiently indicating a human being as represented by it [166], and a power of a peculiar character; the eyes of a man, not of a god; lamb-like, though speaking as a dragon (Revelation 13:11.)

(3.) The mouth uttered “great words against the Most High;” hence proud, arrogant, and blasphemous; while from the eyes was a “look more stout than his fellows,” also indicative of pride and haughtiness above that of the other powers, and an overbearing demeanour in respect to them.

(4.) He was to “make war with the saints of the Most High, to wear them out, and prevail against them;” a persecuting power, and one whose persecutions should be persevering and successful, against such as adhered to a holy life and the worship of God according to His Word.
(5.) He was to “think to change times and laws;” lofty in his pretensions, as superior to laws both human and divine, and affecting a power which is the prerogative of God (chap. Daniel 2:21).

5. The saints were to be “given into his hand” for a definite period, prophetically and enigmatically described as a “a time, times, and the dividing of a time;” his power over the saints or true worshippers of God to be absolute for a time, but that time a limited one. “To form a well-grounded judgment regarding the appearance of this last enemy,” observes Keil, “we must compare the description given of him here with the apocalyptic description of the same enemy under the image of the beast out of the sea or out of the abyss” (Revelation 13:1-8; Revelation 17:7-13); and we may add, with the description of the “Man of Sin” given by the apostle (2 Thessalonians 2:4, &c.), with an obvious allusion to the passage before us.

[166] “Eyes like the eyes of man.” “Eyes and seeing with eyes are the symbols of insight, circumspection, and prudence. The eyes of a man, not merely to indicate that the horn signified a man, which was already distinctly enough shown by the fact of eyes, &c., being attributed to it, nor yet to distinguish it from a beast; but in opposition to a higher celestial being, for whom it might, from the terribleness of its rule and government, be mistaken.”—Keil. Others have viewed the expression as indicative of the assumed blandness that accompanied papal arrogance, and the sharp look-out kept by the popes on their own and their families’ interests, as well as those of the Church.

III. Its identification. This power intended to be identified as truly as the four beasts themselves. The minute and varied description obviously given with this view. This description, including both its rise and character, ought apparently to leave no room for doubt as to what is intended by it, and no difficulty in identifying it when the power indicated should appear. The question is, has such a power already appeared, or are we still to look for it? The latter unlikely, as the fourth beast, from which it springs, has confessedly appeared two thousand years ago, and the ten kingdoms, among and behind which it was to rise, have probably been in existence about fourteen centuries. Has, then, any power appeared during that period to which the description is at all applicable, and to which it has been applied? There is a well-known power to which the description has appeared so applicable, that for more than three hundred years the description has been actually and unhesitatingly applied to it by almost all who have studied this passage, with the exception, of course, of those who are in any way connected with the power itself; although it is probable that the horn may not even yet have fully developed itself [167]. That power is the Papacy, with the Bishop of Rome as its head and representative [168]; for nearly thirteen centuries a temporal power, like the other horns, though now no longer such [169]; but so diverse from them as to be at the same time a spiritual power, while the rest were only secular ones. The identity has appeared—

[167] Jerome and the fathers, as well as De Lyra, Hugo, and Roman Catholic writers generally, interpret the little horn of the Antichrist, who should come in the end of the world, after the Roman empire is destroyed. Some of the Reformers, as Melanchthon and Osiander, understood it of the Turkish empire. Calvin thinks that historically this prophecy of the Little Horn was fulfilled before the coming of the Messiah into the world, in the person of Julius Cæsar, Augustus, and the other emperors; but that it may, by analogy, be applied, as it was by some, to the Pope or to the Turks; “and these applications,” he says, “by way of analogy I mislike not.” Œcolampadius understood it of the Pope in the West, and the Turkish empire in the East. Bullinger, and the Reformers in general, applied the prophecy entirely to the Papacy. Junius, Polanus, and Willet understood it historically of Antiochus Epiphanes, but typically of Antichrist. Dr. Lee, of Cambridge, applies it to heathen Rome and the persecuting emperors from Nero to Constantine. The Futurists, with Roman Catholic writers, understand it of an Antichrist yet to come.
[168] Dr. Rule observes that the description given of the Little Horn exactly answers to the Papacy, and regards the assumption of absolute sovereignty over the city and territory of Rome by Pope Innocent III. as the uprising of it, a sovereign pontiff over a temporal dominion, armed also with military powers. “Here,” says Muratori, in relating this event, “expired the last breath of the Augusti in Rome; and henceforth the prefects of Rome, the Senate, and the other magistrates, swore fealty to the Roman Pontiff only.” Professor Bush says, “This Little Horn is unquestionably the ecclesiastical power of the Papacy. This horn did not come till after the empire received its deadly wound by the hands of the Goths.”

[169] That the Bishop of Rome became a temporal ruler, receiving his place and rank as such among and soon after the other rulers of the kingdoms formed out of the dismembered Roman empire, every one knows. One of the most remarkable events of recent years was the entire cessation of this temporal sovereignty of the Pope, when in 1870, after the French Emperor had withdrawn his troops from Rome, Victor Emmanuel, as king of Italy, at the voice of the people, assumed the entire government of the country, leaving Pius IX. only the Vatican and its precincts for his residence; the Pope exclaiming against the act as one of wicked sacrilege and spoliation, and endeavouring to rouse all Catholic Europe to aid him in recovering the lost “patrimony of St. Peter.” The Times of the period said, “In the same year the Papacy has assumed the highest spiritual exaltation to which it could aspire, and lost the temporal sovereignty which it had held for a thousand years.”

1. In the rise of the Papacy. The Little Horn rose among, and at the same time after or behind, the other ten; while three of these were plucked up and fell before it, so that their place was occupied by it, or, as interpreted by the angel, three kingdoms, states, or powers were subdued by it [170]. It is known that it was while the Northern nations were establishing for themselves kingdoms out of the decaying Roman empire that the Bishops of Rome also became temporal rulers, and that they did so after occasioning the fall of some of those rulers, probably those of Lombardy, Ravenna, and Rome, whose territories then became their own under the name of the States of the Church [171]. A writer on prophecy remarks: “The Little Horn came up among the ten horns, of which three fell before it. This determines the appearance of the Little Horn to be not before the appearance of the ten, of which not one came into being till after the year 487 of the Christian era, until which time the Roman empire continued under its emperors, undivided into any of those ten kingdoms which arose afterwards. At that time Augustulus, the last Emperor of the West, was forced to resign; and for three hundred years the empire remained without even a nominal head.” It is in remarkable agreement with this fact that Paul speaks of the “Man of Sin” as being hindered at that time from revealing himself by something which he does not name, but which would one day be taken out of the way; that hindrance being doubtless the Roman imperial power, which for obvious reasons Paul did not think it expedient to name. The circumstance of the three horns or states being rooted up to make way for the temporal power of the Papacy seems openly declared in the “triple crown” which the Pope still continues to wear.

[170] “Before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots.” “He shall subdue three kings” (Daniel 7:8; Daniel 7:24). יְהַשְׁפִּיל (yehashpil), “shall overthrow, deprive of sovereignty.”—Keil. Some have understood the number three as indefinite. So Calvin and Œcolampadius, but understanding it as denoting much or many. Most have viewed it as a definite number. Jerome and others after him understood the three horns to be Egypt, Africa, and Ethiopia, which were to be subdued by Antichrist. Melanchthon thought of Egypt, Syria, and Cilicia, to be taken by the Turks; while Osiander and Pfaff understood them to be Asia, Greece, and Egypt. Bullinger, applying the prophecy to the Papacy, regarded the three horns as the Emperor Leo, or the Exarchate of Ravenna, taken by Gregory II.; Childeric, king of France, deposed by Pope Zachary; and the Lombards with the government they obtained from Leo III. Dr. Rule considers them to be the Roman Senate and people, with the so-called patrimony of St. Peter, gained a.d. 498; Apulia, otherwise called Naples, and Sicily, obtained in 1266. He observes that, simultaneously with these acquisitions, the work of persecution, foretold in the next verses, rapidly advanced. According to Mr. Birks, the three horns were the kingdom of the Heruli under Odoacer, that of the Ostrogoths under Theodoric, who at the instigation of the Pope overthrew the former, and took possession of that part of Italy forming the Exarchate of Ravenna, which again, at the Pope’s instance, was overthrown by Belisarius and Narses, lieutenants of the Emperor Justinian; the third power overthrown being that of the Lombards under Alboin and Aistulph. To obtain freedom from the threatened yoke of the Lombards, and to secure still farther the possession of a temporal dominion, the Pope made his appeal to Pepin, son of Charles Martel, as well as to Charles (Charlemagne) and Carloman, the three kings of the Franks. “Pepin and Charlemagne willingly undertook the task of uprooting the Lombard kingdom, the last enemy that stood in the way of the ambitious See.” After the surrender of Pavia, “the last obstacle was now removed, and the popes rose at length to temporal dominion, and obtained a firm and settled place among the powers and kingdoms of the Western Empire. ‘The Church’s ancient patrimony of farms and houses,’ says Gibbon, ‘was transformed by the bounty of the Carlovingians into the temporal dominion of cities and provinces; and the donation of the Exarchate was the first-fruits of the victories of Pepin.’ The ample province of the Exarchate, granted to the Papacy by the usurper Pepin, might comprise all the provinces of Italy which had obeyed the Emperor and his vicegerent; but its strict and proper limits were included in the territory of Ravenna, Bologna, and Ferrara, and its inseparable dependency was the Pentapolis.”

[171] The following are extracts from Clement’s letter, written towards the end of the first century, to allay some disturbances in the Church at Corinth in regard to the pastorate. “These things, beloved, we write not only to admonish you of your duty, but to admonish ourselves, for we are in the same race and conflict. Wherefore, let us abandon vain and empty cares, and advance to the glorious and venerable rule of our calling. Let us look to what is beautiful, and pleasing, and acceptable in the eyes of our Creator. Let us fix our eyes on the blood of Christ, and consider how precious to God is that blood, which, having been shed for our salvation, has offered the grace of repentance to all the world.… Christ belongs to those who conduct themselves humbly, not those who exalt themselves over His flock with pride and arrogance.… Let us attach ourselves to those to whom grace has been given by God. Let us put on concord with moderation of mind, endued with the gift of self-control. Temerity, arrogance, and audacity belong to those who are accursed of God; moderation, humility, and meekness to those who are blessed of Him.… The apostles, preaching the Word through regions and cities, proving their first-fruits in the Spirit, appointed bishops and deacons of those who believed. The apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that contentions would arise about the name of the episcopate, and on that account, being endowed with perfect foreknowledge, they appointed persons previously indicated, and left successions of ministers and officers afterwards described, that other approved men might succeed to their place and discharge their offices. Look diligently into the Scriptures. Take into your hands the epistles of the blessed Apostle Paul. Consider what he wrote to you near the very beginning of his preaching the gospel. Being certainly divinely inspired, he reminded you in an epistle concerning himself, Cephas, and Apollos, that even then there were seditions and party feelings among you.… Whosoever is zealous, pitiful, and full of love among you, let him say, ‘If any sedition, contention, or division, has arisen through me, I will depart; I will go away whithersoever you wish; I will do whatever is commanded by the people; that only the flock of Christ may live in peace with the elders (or presbyters) that have been appointed over them.’ ”

“The tempter,” says Gavazzi, “came over the Alps in the Gallic Pepin; he showed from a pinnacle of earthly power and aggrandisement the kingdoms of this world, and pledged himself to secure their homage, if, falling prostrate before God’s adversary, ‘Christ’s Vicar’ should adore him. The sacrilegious bargain was struck; the ark of the Lord was placed in the temple of Dagon; the bishops of Rome, who over and over again suffered death rather than offer incense to Pagan idols, fell into the palpable snare of Satan; and the hand that bore on its finger the brightest of sacerdotal gems in the ‘ring of the fisherman’ was outstretched, with scandalous avidity, to burn a fatal frankincense on the altar of secular ambition. A visible change fell on the Papacy. The gory crown of martyrdom was exchanged for the glittering tiara.”

Mr. Mede supposed the three “uprooted” or “depressed” horns to be, first, the Greeks, that is, the entire kingdom of Italy, which in 554 was ended by the Exarchate or dependent government of the Greek emperor, which continued for fifteen years; second, the Lombards, who possessed the country for about 200 years; and, third, the Franks, who stretched their authority into the immediate vicinity of Rome.

2. In the character of the Papacy.

(1.) The horn was a “little” one. The territory of the Papacy has always been small in comparison with that of the other powers, never exceeding the extent of an Italian province. The Pope properly and originally a humble minister of Jesus Christ, on a level with the other bishops or presiding ministers of the Churches, and possessing no territory or temporal jurisdiction whatever; so “little” that the apostle does not even salute or mention him in his Epistle to the Church at Rome. The Epistle of Clement, one of the first Bishops of Rome, if not the very first, written to the Church of Corinth, breathes the very spirit of humility [172], a humility which is affected by his successors, while each calls himself the “servant of servants” and a successor of “the fisherman.”

[172] The following are extracts from Clement’s letter, written towards the end of the first century, to allay some disturbances in the Church at Corinth in regard to the pastorate. “These things, beloved, we write not only to admonish you of your duty, but to admonish ourselves, for we are in the same race and conflict. Wherefore, let us abandon vain and empty cares, and advance to the glorious and venerable rule of our calling. Let us look to what is beautiful, and pleasing, and acceptable in the eyes of our Creator. Let us fix our eyes on the blood of Christ, and consider how precious to God is that blood, which, having been shed for our salvation, has offered the grace of repentance to all the world.… Christ belongs to those who conduct themselves humbly, not those who exalt themselves over His flock with pride and arrogance.… Let us attach ourselves to those to whom grace has been given by God. Let us put on concord with moderation of mind, endued with the gift of self-control. Temerity, arrogance, and audacity belong to those who are accursed of God; moderation, humility, and meekness to those who are blessed of Him.… The apostles, preaching the Word through regions and cities, proving their first-fruits in the Spirit, appointed bishops and deacons of those who believed. The apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that contentions would arise about the name of the episcopate, and on that account, being endowed with perfect foreknowledge, they appointed persons previously indicated, and left successions of ministers and officers afterwards described, that other approved men might succeed to their place and discharge their offices. Look diligently into the Scriptures. Take into your hands the epistles of the blessed Apostle Paul. Consider what he wrote to you near the very beginning of his preaching the gospel. Being certainly divinely inspired, he reminded you in an epistle concerning himself, Cephas, and Apollos, that even then there were seditions and party feelings among you.… Whosoever is zealous, pitiful, and full of love among you, let him say, ‘If any sedition, contention, or division, has arisen through me, I will depart; I will go away whithersoever you wish; I will do whatever is commanded by the people; that only the flock of Christ may live in peace with the elders (or presbyters) that have been appointed over them.’ ”

(2.) It was “diverse from the first” (Daniel 7:24), having the eyes and mouth of a man. The difference of the Papacy from the other powers, as already noticed, conspicuous in this, that it was at the same time both a temporal and a spiritual power, the Pope being both a secular prince and a spiritual teacher, or, as Gibbon expresses it, “a Christian bishop invested with the prerogatives of a temporal prince.” The Pope claimed both swords, the civil and the ecclesiastical; a combination perhaps indicated in the Revelation by the two separate beasts, the one rising out of the sea and the other out of the earth (Revelation 13:1-11), or in the fact that the latter had two horns like a lamb, while it spake like a dragon (Daniel 7:11).

(3 ) “His look was more stout than his fellows” (Daniel 7:20). It is well known what anathemas were fulminated by the Popes against all who refused to acknowledge their supremacy or submit to their authority; how kings were deposed and their kingdoms placed under interdicts which deprived them of religious ordinances, their subjects released from their allegiance, and their crown given to another. This “stout look,” and the claim of making and unmaking kings at pleasure, conspicuous in the person of Gregory VII. (A.D. 1073). “I have received,” said he, “from God the power of binding and of loosing in heaven and in earth; and by this power I forbid Henry (the Fourth, Emperor of Germany) the government of the whole realm of Germany and Italy. I also loose all Christians from the oaths they have taken to him; and I decree that no man shall obey him as king” [173]. Among the “stout words” of the Papacy are the following, spoken by the same Gregory: “The Roman Pontiff alone can be called universal. He alone has a right to use imperial ornaments. Princes are bound to kiss his feet, and his feet only. He has a right to depose emperors. No book can be called canonical without his authority. His sentence can be annulled by none, but he may annul the decrees of all.” It is also to be remembered that the popes claim infallibility.

[173] These were not empty words. Henry, driven to despair, in a winter of unusual severity, crossed the Alps with the determination of seeking the Pope’s forgiveness and reconciliation. Gregory was at Canossa, a fortress near Reggio. The Emperor was admitted without hit guards into an outer courtof the castle, where he was kept standing for three successive days, from morning to evening, in a woollen shirt, and with bare feet, while Gregory, shut up with the Countess, refused to admit him into his presence. On the fourth day he obtained absolution, but only on condition that he appeared on a certain day to receive the Pope’s decision as to whether or not he should be restored to his kingdom, till which time he was not to assume the insignia of royalty. It was this same Pope who endeavoured to compel William the Conqueror to do homage for the crown of England, and who menaced Philip I. of France with deposition. The language and bearing of Adrian IV., in 1155, to the Emperor Frederick was of a similar character. The Pope insisted on the Emperor becoming his equerry and holding his stirrup while he mounted. “To place your name before ours,” said he to the Emperor, “is arrogance, is insolence; and to cause bishops to render homage to you, those whom the Scripture calls gods, sons of the Most High, is to want that faith which you have sworn to St. Peter and to us. Hasten then to amend, lest that, in taking to yourself what does not belong to you, you lose the crown with which we have gratified you.”

(4.) “It had eyes like the eyes of man” (Daniel 7:8). The very title of bishop, which is simply “overseer,” as in Acts 20:28 and 1 Peter 5:3, is in perfect agreement with this mark of the horn. The popes, as bishops or overseers, being spiritual teachers, are supposed to be endowed with wisdom and knowledge to qualify them for their office, of which the eyes of a man are a well-known symbol [174].

[174] See note (2).

(5.) The horn had also “a mouth speaking great things,” even “great words against the Most High.” The first of these expressions indicates pride and arrogance, the latter blasphemy. The Papal bulls leave little room for doubt as to the applicability of the former to the Papacy. “The tribunals of kings,” say they, “are subject to the sacerdotal power.” “Since the Holy Roman Church, over which Christ has willed that we preside, is set for a mirror and example, whatever it has decreed, whatever it now ordains, must be perpetually and irrefragably observed by all men.” The words spoken against or (as the word is also rendered) as the Most High [175] are such as tend to set God aside. These have not been wanting in the lips of the Papacy. “The Roman Pontiff,” says Pope Stephen, “is to judge all men, and to be judged by no man.” “The Pope is styled God,” says Pope Nicholas, “by the pious prince; and it is manifest that God cannot be judged by man.” This mark may be truly regarded as made good, as Bishop Newton observes, by the popes “setting up themselves against all laws human and divine, arrogating to themselves godlike attributes and titles, and exacting obedience to their ordinances and decrees.” A bull of Pope Boniface declares that “all the faithful of Christ are, by necessity of salvation, subject to the Roman Pontiff, who has both swords, and judges all men, but is judged by none” [176]. Again we have to remember the claim to infallibility by the Pope, that infallibility having been recently made an article of faith in the Romish Church.

[175] “Against the Most High.” לְצַד (le-tsadh), “at the side of.” Keil observes that this term properly means against or at the side of, and is more expressive than עַל (‘al); denoting that he would use language by which he would set God aside, and would regard and give himself out as God. Compare 2 Thessalonians 2:4.

[176] It is this Pope of whom Gavazzi, in the oration already quoted from, says, “Swelling with the pride and pomp of Satanic inflation, Boniface VIII., having fouliy dethroned his still living predecessor, Celestine V., burst on the world with his blasphemous bull, Unam Sanctam, and laid his monstrous mandate on mankind, involving the human race in sacerdotal serfdom. By one fell swoop he abrogated the authority of kings within their dominions, of magistrates within the circle of their attributions, of fathers within the sacred precincts of their households. Popes became arbiters of universal sovereignty, bishops bearded monarchs, and priests lorded it over the domestic hearth.… Every human right, claim, property, franchise, or feeling at variance with the predominance of the Popedom was, ipso facto, inimical to Heaven and the God of eternal justice.”

(6.) “He shall think to change times and laws” (Daniel 7:25) [177]. The presence of this mark in the Papacy already apparent. Everything was to be entirely in accordance with Papal decree. The observance of saints’ days established; the marriage vow, in the case of the clergy, cancelled and marriage itself forbidden [178]; subjects, as, for example, the English in relation to Henry VIII. and Elizabeth, released from their allegiance to their sovereigns; the cup in the Lord’s Supper forbidden to the laity [179]; and the making and worshipping of images sanctioned [180]. Bishop Newton mentions also as instances of this mark of the Little Horn, the Pope’s “appointing fasts and feasts; canonising saints; granting pardons and indulgences for sins; instituting new modes of worship; imposing new articles of faith [as recently the Immaculate Conception]; enjoining new rules of practice; and reversing at pleasure the laws both of God and man.” The traditions of the Fathers and decrees of Councils are made to supersede and set aside the Word of God. “The holy and inspired fathers and teachers,” says Gregory III., “and the six Councils in Christ, these are our scriptures and our light to salvation.”

[177] “To change times and laws.” Keil observes that to “change times” belongs to the all-perfect power of God (cf. Daniel 2:21), the creator and ordainer of times (Genesis 1:14); and that there is no ground for supposing that זמניז (zimnin), “times,” is to be specially understood of “festivals or sacred times,” since the word, like the corresponding Hebrew one, מועֲדִים (mo’adhim), does not throughout signify merely festival times (cf. Genesis 1:14; Genesis 17:21; Genesis 18:14, &c.) The sin is that he does not in his ordinances regard the fundamental conditions given by God, but so changes the laws of human life that he puts his own pleasure in the place of the divine arrangements, דַּת (dath), a law, rite, custom, or constitution. Calvin, applying the passage to the Roman emperors, says they perverted all laws, human and divine. Dr. Pusey, on the other hand, translates “essaying to change worship and law;” and has in a footnote,זִמְנִין (zimnin) “set times,” that is, probably, the times of the set feasts (as we speak of sacred “seasons”), and so the worship of those times. He observes that in Onkelos זִמְנִין (zimnin) stands for מוֹעֲדִים (mo’adh im), Genesis 1:14; and Jonathan puts זמני מועד (zimne mo’ed) for מועד (mo’ed), Zephaniah 3:18. Pseudo-Jonathan uses the word זמן (zeman) in paraphrasing מוֹעֲדיֵיְהֹוָה (mo’adhe Jehovah), “the feasts of the Lord.” Elsewhere זמן is used of the place of the sacred assembly (Numbers 1:1; Isaiah 33:20), but מועד of the festival (Lamentations 1:4; Hosea 9:5).

[178] A decretal of Callixtus II. says, “We entirely interdict priests, deacons, sub-deacons, and monks from contracting marriages; we decide also that, according to the sacred canons, the marriages contracted by persons of this kind be dissolved, and the persons brought to penance.” This Pope, as well as Pope Agatho, writes that the decretal epistles of the Roman Pontiff are to be received among the Scriptures, though they are not embodied in the code of canons, just as the Old and New Testaments are so received, “because a judgment of holy Pope Innocent seems to be published” for doing so.
[179] In regard to the use of the cup, Pope Gregory VII. thus wrote to Wratislaus, king of Bohemia, “What your people ignorantly require can in no wise be conceded to them; and we now forbid it by the power of God and His holy Apostle Peter.”
[180] Gregory III. convened an assembly of 93 bishops in 732, and with their assent published a general excommunication against all who were opposed to the worship of images. The same Pope wrote to the Emperor Leo, “Do you cease to persecute images and all will be quiet.”

(7.) He was to “make war with the saints and prevail against them,” and “wear them out” (Daniel 7:21; Daniel 7:25). It is well known that one of the most prominent features of the Papacy in past centuries was the persecution of the saints under the name of heretics, that is, of those who refused, in matters of doctrine and practice, to submit to the authority of the Pope instead of the Word of God, and who said, with Peter and the other apostles, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29; Acts 4:19) [181]. “If any one,” said Pope Nicolas in a Council at Rome, “shall presume to dispute the dogmas, commands, interdicts, sanctions, or decrees wholesomely published by the head of the Apostolic See, let him be accursed.” “It is permitted neither to think nor to speak differently from the Roman Church.” Such were to be handed over to the secular power, to be punished with the loss of goods, imprisonment, and even death. The burning of heretics, according to the bull De Comburendo, is too well known in England. The term “Crusades” was given to those military enterprises undertaken to extirpate the Waldenses and Albigenses; and the same Papal indulgences were promised to those who fell in such undertakings as were bestowed on those who died in the wars against the infidels [182]. The “wearing out of the saints” may be seen in the decree of Pope Pelagius, that those guilty of schism or separation from the Roman See were to be “crushed by the secular power, and restrained not only by exile, but by proscription of their goods, and by severe imprisonment.” How far the Papacy “prevailed” against the saints, or so-called heretics, appears from the fact that in a Council of the Lateran, held in May 1514, about three years and a half before the breaking out of the Reformation under Luther, the Hussites were summoned to appear; and when no appearance was made, the doctor of the Council uttered the remarkable words, “There is an end to resistance to the Papal rule and religion; there is none to oppose; the whole body of Christendom is now subject to its head.”

[181] “Make war with the saints” (Daniel 7:21). In our own country, in the short reign of Queen Mary, three hundred persons are said to have been cruelly put to death for no other reason than because they refused to acknowledge the supremacy of the Pope. This is written within little more than a stone’s throw of the monument that commemorates the martyrdom of Ridley, Latimer, and Cranmer, and the cross in front of Balliol College, Oxford, that marks the spot on which they suffered death. It is computed that in the South of France, between the twelfth and eighteenth centuries inclusive, about a million of those called Waldenses and Albigenses suffered death as heretics, especially by armies sent against them for that purpose, after receiving the papal blessing. Nearly a million suffered on the same account after the institution of the order of the Jesuits. In the Netherlands, it was the boast of the Duke of Alva that 36,000 heretics had been put to death by the common executioner within a few years. In Ireland, 150,000 are said to have been massacred in one province in virtue of a papal edict dated May 25, 1643, in which the Pope granted a full and plenary indulgence and absolute remission of all their sins “to all the Christians in the kingdom of Ireland, so long as they should war against the heretics and other enemies of the Catholic faith.” In the Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day, 1572, thirty thousand at least, in Paris and throughout France, are said to have been horribly butchered within thirty days, for which the Pope ordered public thanks to be given, and a medal to be struck in commemoration of the event. This feature of the Little Horn is acknowledged and justified in the Rhemish New Testament, where it is said in a note at Revelation 17:6, that the blood of the heretics is not to be considered as the blood of the saints, but is “no more than the blood of thieves, mankillers, and other malefactors, for the shedding of which, by order of justice, no commonwealth shall answer.” So Pope Urban II., encouraging the shedding of such blood, states, “We do not count them murderers who, burning with zeal for their Catholic mother against the excommunicate, may happen to have slain some of them.” Sismondi, himself a Roman Catholic, intimates what was the crime of those whose blood was thus to be shed: “Many sects,” he says, “existed in Provence, and this was the necessary consequence of the freedom of inquiry which was the essence of their doctrine. With one accord they considered that the Romish Church had changed the nature of Christianity, and that she was the object described in the Apocalypse as the woman of Babylon.” He adds: “To maintain unity of faith, the Church had recourse to the expedient of burning all those who separated themselves from her.”

[182] “Let the Catholics,” said Innocent III. in the Lateral) Council, “who, after taking the sign of the cross, devote themselves to the extermination of heretics, enjoy the same indulgence, and be protected with the same privilege, which is granted to those who go to the succour of the Holy Land.”

(8.) The saints were to be “given into the hand” of the Little Horn for a limited period, here calleda time, times, and the dividing of a time.” This enigmatical period, found also in chap. 12, as well as in the Book of Revelation, is generally understood to be equivalent to three years and a half, or, as it is expressed in the Apocalypse, 1260 days, 360 being reckoned to a year, and also forty and two months (Revelation 12:14; Revelation 12:16; Revelation 11:2-3; Revelation 13:5 [183], the half of the “seven times” already mentioned in connection with Nebuchadnezzar’s insanity. The period in the text for the dominion of the Little Horn over the saints is also that of the “scattering or crushing of the power of the holy people” (chap. Daniel 12:7); of the woman’s abode in the wilderness (Revelation 12:6; Revelation 12:14); of the treading of the holy city under foot by the Gentiles (Revelation 12:2); of the prophesying of the two witnesses in sackcloth (Revelation 12:3); and of the effective continuance of the beast out of the sea (Revelation 13:5). Probably the same period, and the same experience of humiliation and suffering on the part of the saints under the same power, intended under these various symbolical representations. The three years and a half, however, might be understood either literally or figuratively; either as ordinary years, or, as they are called, prophetical ones, each day being reckoned a year. The latter is generally understood, though there may be also a fulfilment of the prophecy on the smaller as well as on the larger scale. It is remarkable that from the time that the Bishop of Rome became a temporal prince, namely, in the early part of the seventh century (A.D. 606), till the cessation of his temporal power in 1870, is just 1264 years, the period in the text on the larger or year-day scale, with perhaps four years more [184]. It is also remarkable that from the time in which all Christendom was declared to be subject to the Roman Pontiff, May 1514, to the breaking out of the Reformation under Luther, that effected the deliverance of so large a portion from his spiritual sway, was just three years and a half on the shorter or literal day scale. Twelve centuries ago, more or less, the saints, or those who chose to obey the Word of God rather than the edicts and decrees of man, seemed to be given into the hand of the Roman Pontiff. There seems little reason to doubt that happily that period of subjection has come to an end. The Papacy can no longer persecute the so-called heretics as before. The Scriptures are openly sold and the Gospel is freely preached even in Rome itself. The Inquisition is at an end. Dr. Achilli and the two Madiai were among its last prisoners, the latter having been given up at the demand of Protestant Europe. The French Revolution in 1792–3, exactly 1260 years after the edict of Justinian seemed formally to give the Church into the hands of the Roman bishop, was doubtless the commencement of his fall [185]; one of the most marked results of that event being the freedom of religious worship among the nations of Europe, which during the last ten years may be said to have been all but complete. This circumstance might seem to leave no doubt as to the identification of the Little Horn with the Papacy, and to establish the opinion that has largely prevailed for centuries [186].

[183] “A time and times and the dividing of a time” (Daniel 7:26). Some have understood by this only an indefinite though lengthened period. So Calvin, who applied the prophecy to the persecutions under Nero and other Roman emperors. By the “dividing” or half of a time he understood the shortening of the period for the elect’s sakes. Bullinger viewed it as a definite time fixed by God, but known only to Himself. Œcolampadius understood half a week or three days and a half, God thus shortening the time. Osiander regarded it as three and a half prophetic years or 1278 solar years, during which the rule of Mahometanism, commencing in the year 613, should continue. Jerome, and Roman Catholic writers after him, understand it of three and a half literal years, the period for the tyranny of Antichrist before the end of the world. Similarly other Futurists. Junius and a few others applied it historically to the time during which Antiochus Epiphanes persecuted the Jews. Joseph Mede was “the well-known reviver of the year-day theory. Before his time it was a vague assertion; he first gave it shape and form, and plausible consistency. Since his day it has been adopted by many intelligent critics, among whom are Sir Isaac Newton, Bishop Newton, Faber, Frere, Keith, and Birks.”—Translator’s Preface to Calvin on Daniel. Professor Lee refers the expression to “the latter half (mystically speaking) of the seventieth week of our prophet” (ch. 9); that week of seven days being equivalent here to Ezekiel’s period of seven years. Professor Bush says, “The grand principle into which the usage of a day for a year is to be resolved is that of miniature symbolisation.” Mr. Brooks (Elements of Prophetic Interpretation) says, “The literal meaning of a ‘time’ is a year; and the expression in Daniel 7:23 may signify, mystically, if calculated by lunar time, a period of 1260 years.” Mr. Bickersteth (Practical Guide to the Prophecies) says, “The time, times, and half a time, the forty and two months and 1260 days, are the same interval; the time, times, and half a time of Daniel and the Revelation are the same period; a prophetic day is a natural year, as three and a half times are the half of seven times, the whole season of Gentile power, and the same with the ‘latter times’ of St. Paul” He thinks the three and a half times began with Justinian’s Code in 532–533. “By this edict (of Justinian),” says Mr. Irving, “ecclesiastical power over the faith of the West and against the saints who dwelt there was given to the Bishop of Rome, which imperial edicts being seconded by the imperial arms, brought to nothing the heretical powers who might have opposed his entering into possession. In twenty years from that date he ordered heretics to be burned by the temporal powers—the first indication of that mixture and combination of powers, civil and ecclesiastical, which is the proper character of the whole period. Then, also, mass was introduced. In sixty years he had made such great strides towards absolute supremacy, that in the reign of Gregory the Great, who resisted the Bishop of Constantinople’s supremacy, were introduced purgatory, invocation of saints, expiations by masses, lustrations of the Blessed Virgin, and the celibacy of the clergy was attempted. In seventy years he obtained from the emperor the sole title of Universal Bishop. In little more than a century the service was performed in Latin, and the ignorance of the people sealed. In two centuries the Pope had obtained the pride and power to excommunicate the Emperor of the East for prohibiting image-worship.” Dr. Cox thinks that “the computation must be made from the period when the Little Horn or ecclesiastical power of the Church of Rome should arise;” and that “that application of the prophecy is most probable which fixes on the time when, by the decree of Phocas, the Roman Pontiff was constituted Universal Bishop and supreme head of the Church.” This was in the year of our Lord 606. Some students of prophecy see in the term “times,” &c, the half of the period of Nebuchadnezzar’s humiliation and insanity, symbolical of the time (2520 years) during which the covenant people should be under the dominion of the Gentile monarchies as the chastisement of their unfaithfulness, this period having different crises as stages of commencement. Of these, Mr. Guinness (Approaching End of the Age) mentions four, from the invasion of Pul, king of Assyria, in 770 b.c., to the final fall of the throne of David and full captivity of Judah under Nebuchadnezzar in 602. These stages of commencement have corresponding terminations, the first being in 1750, the period of Voltaire, and the last in 1918, yet to come. It was during the latter half of these mystical “seven times” that the Little Horn was to have power over the saints, the case of Israel being bound up with that of the Christian Church, which was to be under captivity by the same power that was to tyrannise over Israel, namely, the last of the four beasts. See farther the note under chap. Daniel 12:7.

[184] The spiritual power of the Papacy may, of course, have a different period for its termination, and outlive the temporal, which constituted it the Little Horn. Mr. Bosanquet remarks: “We see no room left for doubt that these 1260 years mark the duration of the Papal power. The temporal power of the Papacy seems to be vanishing before our eyes, if indeed it has not already ceased to exist [it has apparently done so, namely, in 1870], but how long the spiritual power shall be allowed to linger on in the ancient seat of its dominion, is a question to be solved by time. Wherever we may be disposed to fix the date of its commencement, it is clear that the time of expiration cannot be very far remote.” Some, however, date from the eighth century. “From the time,” says Bishop Newton, “of Pepin’s grant of Aistulph’s dominions in 755, the popes, having now become temporal princes, did no longer date their epistles and bulls by the year of the Emperor’s reign, but by the year of their own advancement to the Papal chair. Charles the Great, son and successor of Pepin, confirmed the grant, adding other territories, and giving the Pope to hold under himself the duchy of Rome, over which he gradually obtained the absolute authority, being about the same time declared superior to all human jurisdiction, while Charles in return was chosen Emperor of the West. Lewis the Pious, son and successor to Charles the Great, confirmed the donations of his father and grandfather, including Rome and its duchy, the popes to hold them in their own right, principality, and dominion to the end of the world.” “It should seem,” adds the Bishop, “that the ‘time, times,’ &c., are to be computed from this full establishment of the power of the Pope in the eighth century.” Gibbon speaks of Gregory I., who wrote so defiantly against the Emperor Leo about images in the eighth century, as the founder of the Papal monarchy; and Milner says, “From this time I look on the Pope of Rome as Antichrist.”
[185] One of the effects of the Revolution in 1792–3 was the destruction of the established religion in France, the chief support of the Papacy. As the edict of Justinian in 533 might be said to be the beginning of the Little Horn as a temporal power, and the giving of the saints into his hand, though its full growth was not for some time after, so the commencement of his fall as such, and the deliverance of the saints from his hand, might be dated from the French Revolution, though not to be completed till several years afterwards. The Convention, which met on the 20th September 1792, first decreed the eternal abolition of monarchy, and on the seventh day of its sitting, it was proposed by M. Manuel that, as royalty was abolished, the order of priests and all religious establishments should be abolished with it. This, however, was only done on the 31st of May in the following year, when the success of the Jacobin conspirators completed the destruction of the civil establishment of religion in France. On the 17th of June the report of Camille Jourdan on the freedom of religious worship was ordered to be printed by the unanimous vote of the Council of Five Hundred.

[186] It was the belief of the Early Church that the little horn of Daniel and the “Man of Sin” spoken of by Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:0.) was the same Antichrist, who was even expected shortly to appear. Justin Martyr says, “He being at hand who was to speak blasphemous words against the Most High, whom the prophet Daniel foretold was to continue for a time, times, &c.” Tertullian, referring to 2 Thessalonians 2:0., says, “Who can this be but the Roman State, the division of which into ten kingdoms will bring on Antichrist, and then the Wicked One shall be revealed?” Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, about the year 360, referring to the same passage, says, “Thus the predicted Antichrist will come when the times of the Roman empire shall be fulfilled, and the consummation of the world shall approach. Ten kings of the Romans shall rise together, in different places indeed, but they shall reign at the same time. Among them the eleventh is Antichrist, who by magical and wicked artifices shall seize the Roman power.” Cyril believed that the apostasy or falling away which was to precede the appearance of the Man of Sin, or Antichrist, had already taken place in his day. “Formerly,” he says, “the heretics were manifest, but now the Church is filled with heretics in disguise. For men have fallen away from the truth, and have itching ears. Is it a plausible theory? All listen to it gladly. Is it a word of correction? All turn away from it. Most have departed from right words, and rather choose the evil than desire the good. This therefore is the falling away, and the Enemy (Antichrist) is soon to be looked for.”

As yet probably they had no idea that the Bishop of Rome was to be he; for his coming was to be a “mystery of iniquity,” and “mystery” was to be the name of the system of which he was the head, as the word is said to be actually found on the Papal mitre. But a few centuries awoke the suspicion. In the Middle Ages it was believed by many that the Antichrist had already appeared in the person of the Popes. In the tenth century Arnulph, Bishop of Orleans, addressing a Council at Rheims, said: “O deplorable Rome, who in the days of our forefathers produced so many burning and shining lights! thou hast brought forth in our times only dismal darkness worthy of the detestation of posterity.… What think you, reverend fathers, of this man, the Pope, placed on a lofty throne, shining with purple and gold? Whom do you account him? If destitute of love and puffed up with pride of knowledge only, he is Antichrist sitting in the temple of God.” It is said in a work published in 1120, “The great Antichrist is already come; in vain is he yet expected; already by the permission of God is he advanced in years.” Roman Catholic writers, of course, refuse to believe that the Papacy is “the Little Horn or Antichrist;” and some few Protestants agree with them in thinking that that power is still future; while others, as the German Rationalists, would see in it only Antiochus Epiphanes. In reference to this last opinion, it is enough to say, with Auberlen, that the Little Horn is found among the ten kingdoms of the fourth beast or Roman Empire, while Antiochus Epiphanes belonged to the third or Grecian, which, according to chap. 8, is well known to have been divided, not into ten, but into four kingdoms. That the Roman Empire was broken up into about ten different kingdoms many centuries ago, and that the Papacy, as a temporal power, sprung up among them, are facts not to be disputed.

From the prophecy regarding the Little Horn we may notice—

1. The providence of God as ruling both in the world and in the Church. “He putteth down one and setteth up another.” Even the Little Horn, which was to prove such a scourge to the Church and to the world, was entirely under His control, and employed as His instrument in accomplishing the purposes of His infinite wisdom. The saints were to be “given” into His hand, as Judah and its king were given into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar (chap. Daniel 1:2). The same Providence limited the continuance of the subjection in both cases. What is done wickedly by man is permitted and controlled wisely and holily by God.

2. The comfort of God’s people to know that their sufferings are meted out, both in intensity and duration, by a Father’s hand. It was a fiery trial that was to try the saints when they were to be given into the hand of the Little Horn, who was to make war upon them, and prevail against them, and wear them out. But it was to continue only for a time, a long time indeed, as indicated in the expression “a time, times, and the dividing of a time;” but still it was to come to an end. “Thou shalt have tribulation ten days,”—not more. “In measure when it shooteth forth, Thou wilt debate with it: He stayeth His rough wind in the day of His east wind” (Isaiah 27:8). The “time to favour Zion, even the set time,” comes.

3. The preciousness and power of divine grace in sustaining the people of God under protracted persecutions and afflictions. No small affliction to the saints who held fast the Word of God to have war made upon them by a mighty and prevailing power, and to be worn out by exile, imprisonment, and loss of goods, year after year, the same thing being continued century after century. No small amount of grace needed to sustain them in the conflict, so as to be faithful unto death. But the promise is sure. “My grace is sufficient for thee; my strength is made perfect in weakness.” “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” Though appointed as sheep to the slaughter, we are made more than conquerors through Him that loved us. “They overcame through the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.”

4. The divine, and therefore indestructible, nature of the Church and religion of Jesus Christ, which has held out under centuries of cruel persecution. To exhibit this, probably one reason why such a state of things is permitted to take place. The bush burns, but is not consumed, because the Lord Himself is in it. The gates and power of hell unable to prevail against the Church of Christ, because founded on the Rock of Ages. The Church outlives the furnace, because One like the Son of God—the Son of God Himself—is with it there. “If this counsel or work be of men, it will come to nought; but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it.” “Although,” says Sismondi, himself a Roman Catholic, “for two hundred years the fires were never quenched, still every day saw Catholics abjuring the faith of their fathers, and embracing the religion which often guided them to the stake. In vain Gregory IX., in 1231, put to death every heretic whom he found concealed in Rome.”

5. Cause for joy and thanksgiving that the wearing out of the saints by the Little Horn is at or near its close. There may yet be possibly a period of intense suffering from that same Little Horn under a changed aspect; but if so, it will be but of short continuance; perhaps the “time, times, and dividing of a time,” on the shorter literal day scale. But we may well rejoice and give thanks that the long-protracted period of “wearing out” is at an end. The fires of Smithfield and the tortures of the Inquisition, we may believe, are over. Even in Rome men may read the Bible and worship God according to it without being afraid. Let us thank God for liberty of conscience in Europe.

6. The prediction regarding the Little Horn, with its manifest fulfilment, another remarkable evidence of divine inspiration. That horn, as rising out of the fourth beast, and among the other ten, acknowledged not to be Antiochus Epiphanes, and must therefore be found long after the time when the prophecy was written. The prediction minute and detailed; and its fulfilment, in a power that for twelve centuries has been the most prominent and conspicuous one in Europe, singularly exact. The fulfilment of such prediction, though perfectly natural, yet partaking of the nature of a miracle, as being beyond any mere human power to foresee it, and as such an evidence of the divine origin of the prediction.

Verse 22

HOMILETICS

SECT. XXVII.—THE KINGDOM OF THE SAINTS OF THE MOST HIGH (Chap. Daniel 7:18; Daniel 7:22; Daniel 7:27)

‘The saints shall take the kingdom.” A striking feature in the kingdom predicted in this vision of Daniel is that, while it is distinctly said to be given to the Son of Man, it is just as distinctly said, and that twice over, to be given to the saints, or to the people of the saints of the Most High, and that the saints take the kingdom. Although this circumstance has been slightly referred to under the preceding section, in connection with the administration of the kingdom of the Son of Man, yet from the prominence given to it and its threefold repetition in the vision it demands a separate consideration. We notice—the saints to whom the kingdom is given; the kingdom itself; the sense in which it is given to the saints; the suitableness of the appointment; and the beneficial results.

I. The saints [211]. Saints denote holy or sanctified persons. The term is applicable both to angels and men. Here it is the latter. “Holy” means separated from sin, and separated to God and His service. The former may be called the moral, the latter the official meaning of the term. Whatever is set apart to God and His service or use may be called holy in the official sense. Men thus set apart are or ought to be holy also in the moral sense, holy in heart and life, or separate from sin. This is the sense in the text; hence they are called “saints of the Most High,” such as are both separated to His service, belonging to Him as His own, made saints by Himself, and approved by Him as such. This far removed from the profane caricature of Papal canonisation. Men are made saints by the mighty power of divine grace, renewing them in the spirit of their mind, making them spiritually alive from being dead in trespasses and sins, and rendering them “new creatures,” or a new creation in Christ Jesus. This is especially the work assigned to the Holy Ghost, and such are said to be “born of the Spirit.” Baptism with water is the sign, but not the instrument of it. Cornelius, and thousands more, were born again of the Spirit before they were baptized; while Simon the sorcerer, like millions more, though baptized with water, was never born again at all. The instrument in the new birth, in the case of any beyond infancy, is the Word of truth. “Being born again,” says Peter, “not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, that liveth and abideth for ever.” “Of His own will,” says James, “begat He us by the Word of truth.” It is by the same instrument that the work of holiness or sanctification is carried on in the saints afterwards. “Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy Word is truth.” “Now ye are clean through the Word that I have spoken unto you.” “That He might sanctify and cleanse it (the Church) with the washing of water by the Word” (John 17:17; John 15:3; Ephesians 5:26). This renewing and sanctifying of the soul by the Holy Ghost is effected in union with Christ, as members of His body and branches in Him as the true Vine,—“sanctified in Christ Jesus.” The work is carried on here in the body of flesh, but is only perfected when the body is either put off at death or changed at the Lord’s coming. Hence “the spirits of just men made perfect.” Men may be truly saints here, but only perfected saints hereafter. This saintship or sanctified condition is peculiar to no nation or class. There is, however, also a federal or covenant holiness which may belong to a nation or class, and which, like official holiness, may exist without holiness in heart and life. Thus the Jews were a holy, because a covenant people, chosen by the Lord as a people for Himself. Thus baptized Christians and the children of such are federally holy, as taken outwardly into the Christian covenant, and professedly given up to God in baptism, though, alas! too often, like the Jews, far away from moral and personal holiness. The saints of the Most High are not merely federally and officially, but morally and personally holy; holy as God is holy, and pure as God is pure, partakers of the divine character, and possessing the same holiness in kind though not in degree. In the Old Testament such were chiefly found among the Jews, to whom pertained the adoption and the giving of the law, as well as the covenants and the promises. In the New Testament they are found both among Jews and Gentiles of every nation, people, and tongue. It is of such that the kingdom of the Son of Man, identical with the kingdom given to the saints, consists. Hence the commission: “Go ye and teach (disciple) all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” While He is King of the Jews, He is also “Lord of all.” There appears, therefore, no reason for limiting the term in the text, especially as the vision has obviously its fulfilment, not in Old, but in New Testament times. A more difficult question perhaps might be, Are they the glorified saints, or saints still in the body, or both? [212] If the giving of the kingdom to the saints is to be understood in the sense of reward, as in that sense it is given to the Son of Man, then it would seem that the saints here indicated are those who, like Paul, have fought the good fight, have finished their course, and have kept the faith, and so have now received the crown of righteousness from the hand of the righteous Judge at His appearing. On this supposition they are those who have overcome, and so have received power from Christ “over the nations to rule them,” and have been made to sit down with Him on His throne. It would be the fulfilment of the promise, “Ye are they that have continued with me in my temptations, and I appoint unto you a kingdom, even as my Father hath appointed unto me” (Luke 22:28-29). Other parallel passages would be Revelation 5:9-10; Revelation 17:18; Revelation 20:4. In this case, the saints would be those who should be raised from the dead at the Lord’s appearing, according to 1 Corinthians 15:23, and 1 Thessalonians 4:16, together with those who should be alive at His coming (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:17). However, even in respect to the saints then still in the body, and constituting the renewed subjects of the millennial kingdom in general, with converted Israel in particular, it would still be true that the saints take the kingdom, all civil government being then exercised by the holy persons in subordination to Christ and His glorified Bride.

[211] “Saints.” According to Keil, these are neither the Jews, who are accustomed to call themselves “saints,” in contrast with the heathen (as V. Lengerke, Maurer, Hitzig, &c., think), nor the converted Israel of the millennium (as Hofmann and others believe); but, as we argue from Exodus 19:6; Deuteronomy 7:6, the true members of the covenant nation, the New Testament Israel of God, i.e., the congregation of the new covenant, consisting of Israel and the faithful of all nations. Auberlen, like Hofmann, understands the Jews still on earth to be the saints meant in this vision of Daniel. “By ‘the people of the saints of the Most High,’ to whom dominion is given, Daniel evidently could only understand the people of Israel, as distinguished from the heathen nations and kingdoms, which were to rule till then. In this point Roos, Preiswerk, Hofmann, agree with Hitzig, Bertholdt, and others. The prophet’s words refer to the re-establishment of the kingdom of Israel, concerning which the disciples asked immediately before the ascension.” Œcolampadius and others understood the faithful reigning with Christ in the celestial kingdom. Willet, however, justly observes that the kingdom is not said to be in heaven, but under heaven, and therefore on earth. Some, as Pellican and Bullinger, thought the Church of Christ is indicated, commencing while the other monarchies were still standing, and propagated over all the world in the time of the fourth beast or Roman Empire. Willet thinks the kingdom is the spiritual dominion of the Church, commencing when the other monarchies are extinguished; beginning in this world, but perfected at the Lord’s second Advent, the saints reigning in grace here and in glory hereafter.

[212] “Among the saints who are called to reign with Christ,” says Auberlen on Revelation 20:4, “the martyrs of ancient and modern times are mentioned first; they become most like to the Lord Jesus in their suffering and death, and are therefore nearest Him in His life and reign.… And the Saviour teaches expressly that at His second coming as King of the kingdom, He shall place one servant over ten cities and another over five, according to the measure of faithfulness they showed during His absence (Luke 19:11). Next to the martyrs are mentioned all who had not worshipped the beast, be it in more remote times or in the last days, which are referred to by the image and the mark upon their forehead, as will appear from a comparison with Revelation 13:14-17. Worshippers of the beast are all they that take the powers of this world as a reality and serve it, instead of looking to things invisible and future (2 Corinthians 4:17).… Hence our passage refers to the whole congregation of believers who are born of God, to God’s Church gathered out of Israel and the Gentiles (Romans 8:17).… Immediately connected with the resurrection of the dead is the transfiguration of those who will be then living on the earth; and the living thus changed, freed from the weight of the earthly and corruptible, and transported into the essential liberty of spirit, can now, even as the transfigured Saviour ascended up on high, be caught up into the clouds to meet the returning Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17). The New Testament tells us that instead of the devil, the transfigured Church of Christ shall rule the world; while the Old Testament informs us that instead of the heathen beast, the holy people of Israel shall do so. Both agree in what is of central importance, that it is Christ, the Son of Man, who now rules humanity by His transfigured Church in heaven and by His people Israel on earth.” Calvin observes that in consequence of the intimate union between Christ and His Church, what belongs to the Head is transferred to the body; that the supreme power is constantly promised by the prophets to the Church, especially by Jesus Christ, who often predicts its complete supremacy; and that while the Church reigns by itself, Christ, its only supreme Head, obtains dominion therein.

II. The kingdom itself. This appears to be the same as that of which the interpreting angel had already spoken as the kingdom given by the Ancient of Days to the Son of Man—the kingdom of which Christ is the Head and King, and which was to take the place of the kingdoms of this world, or of the four monarchies, which shall have disappeared as the chaff of the summer threshing-floor (chap. 2) The same dominion, rule, and kingdom that is given to Christ is given to the saints as Christ’s members, who are to reign and be glorified with Him, and to sit with Him on His throne; to whom He Himself was to give authority over the nations, to rule them along with Him, and whom He was to appoint a kingdom as His Father had appointed to Himself. The kingdom is given by the Ancient of Days to Christ, and by Christ is given to His Church or Bride, to possess it along with Him, and be associated with Him in its government. The kingdom is heavenly in its origin and character, but has its place not in heaven but on earth, over and among the nations and peoples inhabiting it. While having its earthly visible and material side, like its predecessors, it will be spiritual and holy in its character, consisting not in meats and drinks, but in righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost; the kingdom that has been so long prayed for, when God’s will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven. From heaven, wherever that may be, the saints will rule the earth with Christ, while the saints on earth shall rule subordinately with them. The “kingdom of the world” shall become “the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ,” or His anointed members (Revelation 11:15, R.V.)

III. The sense in which the saints shall take the kingdom. This appears to be the same as that in which Christ Himself takes it. The angel indicates no difference; only that Christ receives it directly from the Ancient of Days, which the saints are not said to do, they receiving it mediately from or virtually in Christ, whose members and whose Bride they are, forming with Him one body and one Christ (Revelation 11:15; 1 Corinthians 12:12). Christ the Head receives the kingdom from the Father as His reward for the accomplishment of His mediatorial work given Him by the Father to do as His Righteous Servant (Philippians 2:6-10). His members receive it also as a reward from Christ, whose servants they were, and to whom they were enabled to be faithful even unto death. “If any man will serve me, let him follow me; and where I am there shall also my servant be. If any man serve me, him will my Father honour.” “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” “He that overcometh, and keepeth my words unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations.” “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations; and I appoint unto you a kingdom, even as my Father hath appointed me” (John 12:26; Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:21; Luke 22:28-29). The saints take the kingdom as heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. One with Christ, they share with Him in His glory and reign, as they shared with Him before in His humiliation and suffering. They possess the kingdom, and exercise kingly rule and authority with and under Him, as the priest-kings whom He made such by His grace after redeeming them by His blood (Revelation 1:5-6; Revelation 5:9-10). With the members as with the Head, it is first humiliation and then glory: “Out of prison he cometh to reign” (Ecclesiastes 4:13). They take the kingdom, not as the kings of the world, as a matter of earthly ambition, or through carnal relationship, or by skilful management, intrigue, and violence, or as conquerors with garments rolled in blood. They take it as a gift of grace from their loving Husband and King, whom it was given them by the same grace lovingly to follow and obey even unto death. They take and possess the kingdom, not for the gratification of personal ambition, or selfish desires, or carnal pleasures, from which, as saints, they are for ever separated; but for the glory of Him who created all things for Himself, and of His Son who redeemed them by His blood, as well as for the happiness of a regenerated world and wide-extended universe. For the same high and holy ends will the saints then still in the flesh, and Israel more especially, exercise in a subordinate capacity the rule which the King Himself in His wisdom shall assign to them. [213]

[213] “Take the kingdom.” Calvin refers the taking of the kingdom by the saints to the time when, after the promulgation of the Gospel, the kingdom of God and of the saints obtained some fame and celebrity in the world. In another place, however, he remarks that the slaying of the fourth beast and the giving the kingdom and authority to the people of the saints does not seem to have taken place yet; whence all Christian interpreters agree in treating this prophecy as relating to the final day of Christ’s Advent He himself thinks the saints began to reign under the whole heaven when Christ ushered in His kingdom by the promulgation of it; and that though Daniel does not here predict occurrences connected with the Advent of Christ as Judge of the World, but with the first preaching of the Gospel, yet he notwithstanding draws a magnificent picture of Christ’s reign, embracing its final completion. The taking of the kingdom was in like manner interpreted by the early Fathers as referring to the general spread of Christianity after the first Advent of Christ. So Dr. Lee and Professor Bush.

IV. The suitableness of the appointment. There is something suitable in the thrice-repeated declaration that the saints of the Most High, or truly holy persons, shall take the kingdom. In the preceding empires, and ever since Nimrod, the “mighty hunter before the Lord,” began to be “a mighty one on the earth,” the “vilest of men” have often been “exalted” to kingly power, and, as a consequence, the “wicked have walked on every side” (Psalms 12:8). For wise and holy reasons, God, in His mysterious providence, often sets over kingdoms the “basest of men,” when, as a natural result, the land is filled with misery and crime (Daniel 4:17). Selfish and godless rulers have constituted a part of the present state of earthly things. Natural, so long as “the whole world lieth in the evil one” (1 John 5:19, R.V.) Evil rulers a part of the evil entailed by the Fall, and often the chastisement of the sins of the people. What the world wants and longs for, but seldom obtains, is wise, upright, disinterested rulers, ruling in the fear of God and for the best interests of their subjects. Such is the state of things predicted in the text. Something suitable and becoming when holy men, separated from sin and selfishness, bearing the image and character of the God whose name and nature is love, and who is “righteous in all His ways and holy in all His works,” shall take, and, by divine gift, possess the kingdom. Such have learned to rule by being first taught how to obey, and have been trained to reign with Christ hereafter by suffering with Him here. Such fitted to rule by imbibing the spirit and walking in the steps of Him who was meek and lowly in heart, and who pleased not Himself, but went about doing good. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:3; Matthew 5:5).

V. Its beneficial results. The happiness of subjects greatly bound up with the character and government of their rulers. “The king by judgment establisheth the land.” “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked bear rule, the people mourn” (Proverbs 29:2; Proverbs 29:4). Seen in a measure in the rule of David, as compared with that of many who succeeded him. Limited examples also in our own Alfred, and in her who now sits upon his throne. The best of rulers, however, in the present state of things, able only to produce partial results, both from their own imperfect spiritual condition and that of their ministers and coadjutors in the government, their short continuance in power, the evil state of things already existing, and the hostile influences, visible and invisible, which oppose them. From these impediments the reign of the saints of the Most High in the millennial kingdom of the Son of Man will be greatly exempt, so that their rule will be naturally one of the highest beneficence, and attended with the happiest results to humanity [214]. The state of things in the world, under a government in which a King (Messiah) shall reign in righteousness, and princes (the saints associated with Him) shall rule in judgment, represented by the prophets under such imagery as the following: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.” “He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass; as showers that water the earth. There shall be a handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon; and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth” (Isaiah 11:6-9; Isaiah 65:25; Psalms 72:6; Psalms 72:16). Without any figure, “Then shall the earth yield her increase, and God, even our own God, shall bless us. God shall bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him” (Psalms 67:6-7). The subject suggests—

[214] “Not only,” says Auberlen, “does the evil spiritual influence which the prince of this world exerted on humanity in the preceding ages cease, but, in place of it, the transfigured Church of God obtain a most blessed dominion over the world. Christianity will pervade the world and all relations of life in spirit and in truth.… It is upon this present earth that it must be shown and proved that the devil, who pretended to be its rightful lord, was only a usurper; man, who was created to ‘have dominion over the earth,’ is to rejoice over his world with full, unmixed, holy joy. Every legitimate and true ideal will then become a reality.”

1. Cause of rejoicing in the prospect presented by the text. It was as a ground of comfort and a matter of rejoicing that it was three times announced to Daniel that the saints should take and possess the kingdom. It was intimated as good tidings not only for the saints themselves, who, instead of being given into the hands of oppressors and persecutors, despised and down-trodden, and often counted as sheep for the slaughter, should have the rule and government of the nations committed to them, but for the world who should reap the benefit of such a state of things. Whether it be the saints that have finished their course of suffering and service on earth, and now are glorified according to the promise, or whether it be the saints still living in the flesh, be it Jews or Gentiles, or both, it is for every lover of his kind to rejoice that a day is coming when truly holy persons, and only such, shall hold the reins of government, and administer a righteous and beneficent rule over the nations, in loyal and loving subordination and obedience to the Prince of Peace. That saints, renewed and sanctified in Christ, transformed into His image, and breathing His spirit of meekness, humility, and love, and at the same time guided by a wisdom that is from above, pure, peaceable, and gentle, full of mercy and of good fruits, instead of the wisdom that is earthly, sensual, and devilish—that such shall be the only rulers that the earth shall know, and that their rule shall be at the same time the rule of the Son of Man, with all power in heaven and earth, is surely a consummation devoutly to be wished, and a prospect greatly to be rejoiced in.

2. The blessed consequence of a faithful adherence to the Saviour. The saints shall take the kingdom. Believers are made kings and priests already. They are princes even now, but in disguise. They travel to their inheritance incognito. It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we do know that a crown of glory awaits every faithful follower of Jesus, however poor his condition may be now. If we suffer with Christ, we shall also reign with Him. Suffering with Him now, we shall be also glorified with Him hereafter. When He who is our life shall be manifested, we shall also “with Him be manifested in glory” (Colossians 3:4, R.V.) The humblest follower of Jesus, faithful unto death, shall receive a crown of life, and shall sit down with Christ in His throne, sharing with Him in His kingly glory, and in the government of a renewed world. They shall reign with Christ. “The saints shall judge the world. Know ye not that we shall judge angels?” (1 Corinthians 6:2-3). It matters not how the saints shall reign or exercise the kingly authority that shall be committed to them. What we know not now we shall know hereafter. Enough that the thing is true. If we suffer with Him, we shall reign with Him. Let this be our comfort under the burden and heat of the day, and let it animate us to use unfaltering perseverance in a cause of faithful self-denying service, till the Master shall please to call us from the field.

3. The character of the future blessedness of the saints. They shall possess the kingdom. They shall thus have noble work to do, honourable and dignified service to employ them. His servants shall still serve Him, and they shall serve Him in the highest form of service. They shall find abundant scope for the sanctified faculties which they shall possess, and have ample field for the exercise of the Christ-like disposition which shall animate them. Renewed in the image of the universal Ruler, they shall have the employment restored to them which was originally bestowed upon man at his creation, but was lost through the Fall. Their blessedness will not be mere rest, but rest from trouble, sin, and bondage, with a holy and happy employment which shall become their position as sons of God and brethren of the King of kings, and in which they shall with Him still contribute to the glory of the Creator and the happiness of His creatures. They will thus not only be made to resemble their Lord and Husband, but be kept in closest sympathy and fellowship with Him, as sharing in the government that shall be upon His shoulders. What was their chief happiness on earth will thus be perfected in glory. Their kingly and princely office they will also be enabled to discharge without fatigue, and without the grief of being continually opposed and thwarted in their benevolent endeavours by the wily and watchful enmity of him who was the great adversary of God and man, but who shall then be under a divine restraint, so as no more to deceive the nations (Revelation 20:4).

4. The privilege of believers to be employed now in a way that shall be both an anticipation of their future blessedness and their preparation for it. This is that of seeking, according to our gifts and opportunities, to promote the objects aimed at by Christ Himself and the saints that shall reign with Him over the earth—the glory of the Creator and the happiness of men, as experienced in His favour and service. To promote this twofold object is the work given to believers to do now, more especially by communicating the knowledge of the Saviour, and persuading men to be reconciled through Him to God. The Saviour’s parting commission to His Church, “Ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem, and in Judea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth.” “Preach the Gospel to every creature.” “Shine as lights in the world, holding forth the Word of life.” “Others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire.” For this blessed though now often trying and self-denying service He has promised and bestowed abundant qualification in the gift of His Holy Spirit: “Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you” (Acts 1:7-8). Such employment here, in whatever way and in whatever circumstances, a blessed anticipation of and preparation for our future employment when the saints shall take the kingdom. It was the faithful servant to whom it was said, “Have thou authority over ten cities.” Nor will the painful trials and deep sorrow which we may be called to experience in connection with a faithful endeavour to serve Christ and our fellow-men in the present state, be the least part of our preparation for the higher service that awaits us when all tears shall be wiped away.

5. Our interest to make sure our place now among the saints who shall possess the kingdom. Regard to one’s own interest makes this the first object we should be concerned to secure. The day is hastening when to have neglected this will appear the height of madness. To throw a fortune, a dukedom, a kingdom away, will one day soon appear to be reason and sense compared with the throwing away the opportunity of obtaining a place among those who shall in a few short years possess a kingdom that shall never pass away. That place is to be secured simply by a sincere and cordial acceptance of the Saviour whom God in His love has provided for a lost and guilty world, that Son of Man who came to seek and to save that which is lost. “To as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” That Son of Man who shall come one day in His glory and all His saints with Him, comes now in His Gospel to each man and woman who hears it, and offers him freely Himself, and along with Himself a place among His saints who shall hereafter with Himself possess the kingdom. Reader, have you cordially accepted Him? Is He yours? Are you among His redeemed people? If not, accept Him now, and take no rest till by His grace you are enabled joyfully to say, “My Lord and my God!”

Verse 26

HOMILETICS

SECT. XXV.—THE JUDGMENT OF THE BEAST AND THE LITTLE HORN (Chap. Daniel 7:9-12; Daniel 7:26)

Hitherto we have not met with much difficulty in the way of interpretation. Little room has been left either for doubt or hesitation. The case is somewhat different now. We approach the region of unfulfilled prophecy, naturally more difficult of interpretation, and leaving more room for mistake and difference of opinion. The field is interesting and inviting, but demands caution in its investigation. The word of prophecy is given for our guidance and comfort, as a light shining in a dark place. But we need the Spirit to interpret His own Word. “Open Thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law.” “In Thy light we shall see light.” “The Spirit searcheth all things, even the deep things of God,” and revealeth them unto us. “He knoweth what is in darkness, and the light dwelleth with Him.” It is His to reveal the “deep and secret things,” and to show us, as He has done in His Word, “things to come.” We have before us a passage of overwhelming grandeur and sublimity; the description of a scene of awful solemnity. The passage exhibits the judgment-seat of God, with myriads of attendant angels, and the infliction of pronounced doom on a large portion of the human race. The judgment is not indeed, like that in Revelation 20:0, the general judgment, terminating the reign of Christ and His saints on earth, and resembling in some of its features the present one. It is rather the judgment on the fourth beast, or Roman Empire, with its ten horns or kingdoms, and more especially the “Little Horn,” whose pride, persecution, and blasphemy are the special occasion of it.

I. The occasion of the judgment. This is distinctly said to be “the voice of the great words which the horn spake” (Daniel 7:11). So in the interpretation by the angel it is said, “He shall speak great words against the Most High,” &c. “But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his kingdom” (Daniel 7:25-26). He was to wear out the saints of the Most High, who were to be “given into his hand for a time, times, and the dividing of a time.” That allotted period was to terminate, and then the long-delayed judgment was to commence. That monstrous reign of blasphemy against God and cruelty to His saints was to be allowed no longer. “These things thou hast done, and I kept silence: thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself. But I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.” “Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down, for the press is full, the fats overflow; for the wickedness is great” (Psalms 50:21; Joel 3:13). The occasion of the judgment is the sayings and doings of the Little Horn, [187] whose kingdom is therefore to be taken away; and the beast, to whom it belonged, of whose wickedness it was the concentration, and who had given to it its power, aided and abetted its doings, and so had identified itself with it, is, with its ten horns, to be slain, and its body “destroyed and given to the burning flame.”

[187] “Because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake.” The connection between the depriving the Papacy of its temporal dominions in 1870 and its “great words “or blasphemous pretensions was remarkable. “In the same year,” said the Times of the period, “the Papacy has assumed the highest spiritual exaltation to which it could aspire, and lost the temporal sovereignty which it had held for a thousand years.” The exaltation referred to was the decree of a General Council in Rome that the Popes were infallible in matters of doctrine. The circumstances attending the act were also remarkable. Arrangements had been made in the chamber where the Council sat, that, by means of mirrors suitably disposed, a glory expressive of divinity should appear to encircle the Pope’s head when the decree was passed. Strange to say, however, as if to rebuke the blasphemy and proclaim that the hour of doom had struck, the sun did not shine out that day: a violent storm burst over Rome; the sky was darkened by tempest, and the voices of the Council were lost in the roll of thunder. Within a day or two after, the Franco-German war was declared, which led to the immediate withdrawal of the French troops from Rome, and the consequent fall of the Pope’s temporal power, which for several years they had served alone to support. Jerome, and Roman Catholic writers after him, understanding the Little Horn to be the Antichrist that should appear immediately before the end of the world, view the judgment in the text as taking place at that time in his destruction. So Bullinger, Œcolampadius, and Osiander, who regard the fourth beast as either the Roman or Turkish Empire; while Willet, understanding the fourth beast of the Greek kingdom of the Seleucidæ, applies the passage to the first coming of Christ, but typically also to the final judgment, the judgment beginning with the first and ending with the second coming of Christ Calvin also refers it to the latter period.

II. The circumstances of the judgment. “The thrones were cast (rather, set or planted) down,” &c. [188] (Daniel 7:9). We have—

[188] “The thrones were east down,” רְמִיוּ (remioo), “were set up.” Wintle: “were pitched.” So the Septuagint, Vulgate, and all the ancient versions, as well as Morus, Castalio, Piscator, and Calvin. The rendering also of Gesenius. The word used by the Targums in Jeremiah 1:15 for “they set.” Keil has “they were thrown,” i.e., they were placed in order quickly or with a noise. This idea of haste or noise, however, does not seem necessarily included. Dr. Rule prefers the rendering of the English version, “were cut down,” but understands not the thrones of assessors, but of the ten kings formerly mentioned, which is unlikely. Keil, with most interpreters, understands them as seats for the assembly sitting in judgment with God; that assembly, in his view, consisting neither of the elders of Israel, as the Rabbins think, nor of glorified men, as Hengstenberg (on Revelation 4:4) supposes; but of angels, according to Psalms 89:8, “who are to be distinguished from the thousands and tens of thousands mentioned in Daniel 7:10; for these do not sit upon thrones, but stand before God as servants to fulfil His commands and execute His judgments.” Hengstenberg’s view, however, will probably appear to most the more correct one. Lightfoot quotes from De Lyra: “He saith ‘thrones,’ because not only Christ shall judge, but the apostles and perfect men shall assist.” He adds, “So the saints shall at the day of judgment sit with Christ, and approve or applaud His judgment.”

1. The judge. “The Ancient (or permanent) of days did sit.” The expression indicative of the Godhead, the I am, the everlasting and unchanging Jehovah, who was, and is, and is to come. In Daniel 7:13, the Father, or first person in the Godhead, appears to be meant; here probably the Son, or second person, who in virtue of His becoming the Son of Man has all judgment committed to Him [189]. “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son, and hath given Him power to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.” “God shall judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained.” “God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ.” “He (Jesus Christ) shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom.” Judgment, however, is the attribute and prerogative of Godhead. “God is Judge Himself” (Psalms 50:3-6). No other is capable of being so. Jesus occupies the judgment-seat as Supreme Judge because He is God, the Ancient of days. This character claimed by Jesus Himself. “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8). Hence His appearance at the same time identical with that here given: “His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes were as a flame of fire.” Stupendous contrast with His appearance before Pilate’s bar. Now the judge and the prisoner change places.

[189] “The Ancient of Days,” יוֹמִין עַתִּיק (’attiq yomin). Professor Bush, after Cocceius and Michaelis, translates, “permanent or enduring of days.” Keil has, “one advanced in days, very old,” and says this “is not the Eternal, for although God is meant, yet Daniel does not see the everlasting God, but an old man or a man of grey hairs, in whose majestic form God makes Himself visible (cf. Ezekiel 1:26). Mr. Irving understood God the Father, coming in His unstained holiness to judge the arch-enemy of His Son and destroyer of His people, and to prepare the way for the coming of the Son of Man in the clouds of heaven.” So Dr. Rule. Œcolampadius understood it of Christ, the Lamb “slain from the foundation of the world.” So Dr. Cumming. Wintle understands the term עַתִּיק (’attiq) actively—“he that maketh the days old,” and applies it to Deity.

2. The throne. This was a “fiery flame,” and its “wheels,” on which it appeared to rest, or rather to move, [190] as “burning fire;” emblematic of searching investigation, fiery indignation, swift judgment. An object of supreme terribleness like the representation in Ezekiel 1:26-28. The throne corresponding with the character of the judge. “Our God is a consuming fire.” “His eyes were as a flame of fire.” “Who among us can dwell with the devouring fire?” Expressive also of the object of the judgment, the infliction of punishment or burning wrath. It is “the great day of His wrath,” the “wrath of the Lamb.” “The nations were angry, and Thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead that they should be judged” (Revelation 6:16-17; Revelation 11:18). “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God,” &c. (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8). “A fire goeth before Him and burneth up His enemies round about.” It is the time of “judgment and fiery indignation, that shall devour the adversaries” (Psalms 97:3; Hebrews 10:27).

[190] “His wheels as burning fire.” Grotius remarks that the ancient thrones and curule chairs had wheels. Those in the text, being like “burning fire,” Dr. Cox observes, “prognosticate at once the majesty of the Judge, piercing, penetrating, awful, and the rapid progress of those providential visitations which would bespeak the indignation of a sin-avenging Deity.” The fire-scattering wheels, says Keil, “show the omnipresence of the divine throne of judgment,—the going of the judgment of God over the whole earth.” He further observes: “Fire and the shining of fire are the constant phenomena of the manifestation of God in the world. The fire which engirds his throne with flame pours itself forth as a stream from God into the world, consuming all that is sinful and hostile to Him, and rendering His people and kingdom glorious.”

3. The attendants. “Thrones.” Not one throne, but many thrones. The scene in accordance with earthly tribunals, where the judge has his assessors [191]. Apostles, saints, and martyrs elsewhere represented as sitting on thrones, with judgment given to them (Revelation 20:4). The saints shall judge the world as assessors with Christ (1 Corinthians 6:2). “When the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matthew 19:28). Innumerable angels also about the throne as the ministers of His justice. “Thousand thousands ministered to Him.” Angels employed as the executioners of His justice. “He will say to His angels, Gather the tares into bundles to burn them.” He will come “with His mighty angels, taking vengeance.” “The Son of Man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him” (Matthew 25:31). His angels to be employed in gathering “out of His kingdom all things that offend (all the stumbling-blocks), and them which do iniquity” (Matthew 13:41). His ministers in inflicting judgments on the Little Horn and the apostate nations of Christendom (Revelation 16:1). Hence their appearance here about the throne.

[191] “Thrones.” From this representation of the judgment Rationalists have raised an objection to the genuineness of the book, as if it were borrowed from the circumstances and customs of the Persian court, while the prophecy purports to be given in the age of the last Chaldean king. To this objection Hengstenberg replies, that every feature of the picture can be pointed out in earlier writings of Scripture, as in Job 1:2; 1 Kings 22:19-22. So in Isaiah 6:0 the principal angels are represented as standing round the throne of God. Dr. Cox thinks that the sitting of the judgment, as thus prepared, has a clear reference to the solemnities and general construction of the Jewish Sanhedrim or Great Council. This, however, probably an institution of later times.

4. The accompaniments. “A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him” (Daniel 7:10). A further indication of the character and object of the judgment—fiery indignation. “It shall be very tempestuous round about Him” (Psalms 50:3). This probably indicative of and connected with the judgment to be inflicted on the Beast,—“his body given to the burning flame;” the earth, or as much of it as shall be involved in the judgment, to be “burned up;” the elements to “melt with fervent heat;” the earth “reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:7; 2 Peter 3:10).

III. The judgment itself. “The books were opened” (Daniel 7:10). The significance and object of this indicated in the description given in the Apocalypse of the general judgment, “The dead were judged out of the things that were written in the books” (Revelation 20:12). Reference to earthly courts and their judicial proceedings, the names of the acccused, with the crimes laid to their charge, being registered for examination [192]. Indicates the strict and impartial character of the judgment. A constant observation exercised in regard to the doings of the enemies of God and His people, and a full and accurate account preserved of them. All the sayings and doings of the Little Horn recorded in the book; all the great and blasphemous words spoken against the Most High; all the cruelties exercised by him and the nations that submitted to his authority or were inspired by his spirit; every blasphemous bull and persecuting edict that ever issued from the Vatican; every secret murder committed in the cells of the Inquisition; every deed of darkness and of blood perpetrated under the cloak and in the name of Christ’s religion, all registered in those awful but truth-telling books. Words as well as deeds preserved there for judgment. “By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” So Enoch testified before the Flood. “Behold the Lord cometh to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him” (Jude 1:14-15). Contrast with these records of ungodly words and deeds another book,—the book of life. “A book of remembrance was written before Him of them that feared the Lord and that thought upon His name;” of those who chose, with Moses, “rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season,” and rather to go to the stake or lay down their heads on the block than prove unfaithful to God and His truth.

[192] “The books were opened.” Hengstenberg derives the figure from the papers of the judge, in which the names of the criminals and their deeds are registered. Keil considers the books those in which the actions of men are recorded. Jerome, Willet, and others understand them of every one’s conscience; opened by God to each, says Œcolampadius, to see and confess His justice. Bede strangely regarded them as the Scriptures; and Calvin in like manner understands by them the manifestation of the knowledge of God to the world at the coming of Christ by the preaching of the Gospel.

IV. The consequences of the judgment. “The beast was slain, and his body destroyed and given to the burning flame.” “They shall take away his (the Little Horn’s) dominion, to consume and destroy it unto the end” (Daniel 7:11; Daniel 7:26). In the vision itself it is the beast or fourth empire on which the judgment is represented as taking effect; in the interpretation of the vision it is the Little Horn [193]. That horn thus identified with the beast, of which it was properly only a part. The judgment falls on the beast for the words of the Little Horn, so entirely were they one. The horn was only the concentration of the beast. The kingdoms of the beast, or Roman Empire, are represented in the Book of Revelation as giving their power to the beast (Revelation 17:16-17), and we know, as a matter of fact, that that power was long exercised in obedience to the will of the Little Horn and in carrying out his persecuting edicts. When the Papacy delivered the heretic over to the civil power, that power was obedient, and put him to death. Thus also armies were raised for their extirpation. Justinian, in his celebrated edict, distinctly permitted the Roman pontiff to “use the powers of the empire against whomsoever he deemed heretical.” The spirit of the Little Horn is the spirit of the kingdoms of the beast, in so far as their subjects are not renewed by the Spirit of God. It is the spirit of pride, vainglory, worldliness, and enmity against God, and so of enmity against His saints. The judgment on the beast expressed either literally or figuratively, or both [194]. A literal destruction by fire not unlikely. Rome, the metropolis of the fourth beast, and seat of the Papacy or Little Horn, repeatedly represented in the Book of Revelation as awaiting this judgment (Revelation 17:16-17; Revelation 18:8). That a wide-spread conflagration will form at least one part of the judgment to be inflicted on the Papal kingdoms and those animated by the same spirit of unbelief and rebellion against God, seems indicated in such places as 2 Thessalonians 1:8 and 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12. According to Peter, the day of the Lord, in which this judgment shall be executed, is accompanied with a fire by which “the earth and the works therein shall be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). This may possibly commence with Rome and Italy, and extend to the other nations. It is well known that already beneath the sulphurous soil of Italy are subterranean fires ready to break out at the bidding of their Creator, who keeps them in store for His own purpose, like the fountains of the great deep, stored and then broken up for the destruction of the old world, when its wickedness made it ripe for judgment [195]. Possibly the destruction may be indicated in Daniel 7:12 as extending to those countries that constituted the three preceding empires, Babylon, Persia, and Greece, whose dominion was taken away, though “their lives were prolonged for a season and a time” [196]. Of the Little Horn it is simply said that its dominion is “taken away, to consume and destroy it unto the end.” The Papacy was to cease to be a temporal power apparently by slow degrees. So also the Apostle seems to speak of the destruction of the Man of sin (2 Thessalonians 2:8). This destruction doubtless includes alike the temporal and spiritual power of the Papacy, whatever form it may assume. The total loss of the temporal power in 1870 may, perhaps, be viewed as the completion of what began in 1793 in the French Convention, and was further advanced in 1798, when, in the Campo Vaccino, the ancient Roman Forum, the Pontifical Government was pronounced, in the midst of a large concourse of people, to be at an end; while on the following day fourteen cardinals, in the Pope’s absence, met in the Vatican, and signed the absolute renunciation of the temporal power [197]. This taking away of the temporal dominion of the Little Horn seemed to be completed on the 20th of September 1870, when Rome was declared the capital of Italy, and made the seat of government by Victor Emmanuel as its chosen king [198]. As a spiritual power, however, the Papacy has still many millions in Europe and elsewhere subject to its sway. This, though it may continue for some time longer to exercise its baleful influence in the souls of men, must also ultimately perish.

[193] Jerome and expositors in general, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, think the destruction of Antichrist and his members here meant. Calvin understood the passage of the Roman Empire when it began to decay after Trajan; but says that the slaying of the fourth beast and the giving of the kingdom and authority to the people of the saints does not seem to have been accomplished yet, and that all Christian interpreters agree in treating the prophecy as relating to the final day of Christ’s Advent. Bullinger applies the destruction of the fourth beast to the ruin of the Papal kingdoms; while Osiander and Œcolampadius understand the decay of the Turkish and Roman empires together. Junius thinks only of Antiochus Epiphanes, and Willet of the whole kingdom of the Seleucidæ. Irving thinks that not only the Little Horn or the Papacy is intended in the destruction, but all its supporters, “Yea, the whole beast of seven heads and ten horns, which had listened to the great words which it spake.” Dr. Rule observes that the prophet’s beholding “until the beast was slain,” &c., appears to intimate that the slaughter and the destruction will be gradual, perhaps very slow.

[194] “Given to the burning flame.” “The supposition that the burning is only the figure of destruction, as, for example, in Isaiah 9:4, is decidedly opposed by the parallel passages, Isaiah 66:14, which Daniel had in view, and Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10, where this prophecy is again taken up, and the judgment is expressed by a being cast into a lake of fire with everlasting torments.”—Keil.

[195] “The burning flame.” “Thus much being allowed from Scripture, let us now return to nature again, to seek out that part of the Christian world that from its own constitution is most subject to burning, by the sulphureousness of its soil and its fiery mountains and caverns. This we easily find to be the Roman territory or the country of Italy, which, by all accounts, ancient and modern, is a storehouse of fire; as if it was condemned to that fate by God and nature, and to be an incendiary, as it were, to the rest of the world. And seeing mystical Babylon, the seat of Antichrist, is the same Rome and its territory, as it is understood by most interpreters of former and later ages, you see both our lines meet in this point, and that there is fairness on both hands to conclude that at the glorious appearance of our Saviour the conflagration will begin at the city of Rome and the Roman territory. Nature hath saved us the pains of kindling fire in those parts of the earth; for since the memory of man there have always been subterraneous files.”—Burnet’s “Sacred Theory of the Earth.” Dr. M‘Cosh remarks in an article in the British and Foreign Evangelical Review for January 1881, that an old fisherman, more than 1800 years ago, anticipated the doctrine of modern science that the earth shall be burned up. The following communication from Vienna, dated April 12, 1881, appeared in the newspapers: “A rather severe shock of earthquake took place at the naval port of Pola and the surrounding district this morning at a quarter to ten o’clock. The earthquakes at Agram and the more terrible calamities at Cassamicciola (Ischia) and Chio, together with the increasing reports of shocks in Switzerland, Italy, and Central and South-Western Europe generally, are facts which are attracting much attention from Continental geologists.”

[196] “The rest of the beasts.” Bishop Newton observes regarding these: “They are all still alive, though the dominion of the first three is taken away. The nations of Chaldea and Assyria are still the first beast; those of Media and Persia are still the second beast; those of Macedonia, Greece, Thrace, Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt are still the third beast; and those of Europe on this side of Greece are still the fourth.” Mr. Miles (Lectures on Daniel) remarks: “They must all perish together; the three await the execution of marked vengeance upon the fourth. When the power of Rome shall be extinguished by the glorious manifestation of the Redeemer, every secular kingdom shall disappear.” Dr. Cox thinks the meaning to be that although these three monarchs were dispossessed of empire, “yet their influence and impious principles still continued to operate, notwithstanding their temporal demolition.” Keil observes that “the death or disappearance of the first three beasts is not expressly remarked, but is here first indicated. These had their dominion taken away one after another, each at its appointed time, and their end is connected with that of the last, as denoting that in that hour, not merely the fourth kingdom, but also the first three, the whole world-power, is brought to an end by the last judgment; the unfolding of the world-power in its diverse phases is exhausted, and the kingdom of God is raised to everlasting supremacy.” Dr. Rule, however, says: “The sentence—‘And concerning the rest of the beasts, &c.’—seems most naturally to relate to them after the destruction of the fourth empire; for it continues the description. It does not appear to be simply an account of what God had done aforetime to those former empires, viz., that when He took away their world-rule, He left them in being as nations; but of something which shall be after the destruction of the fourth. This, however, will be made clear when the time comes.”

[197] The history is thus related by M. De la Bédollière (Le Domaine de Saint Pierre): “The possessions that remained to the Pope (in 1792) had for their limits in the north, Venice and the Gulf of Venice; in the east, the kingdom of Naples; in the south, the Tuscan Sea; in the west, the duchies of Tuscany, Modena, Mirandola, and Mentone. They were divided into twelve Legations or provinces: the Compagna of Rome, the Sabine country, the patrimony of St. Peter properly so called, the duchy of Castro, the province of Orvieto, the province of Perouse, the duchy of Spoleto, the duchy of Urbino, the march of Ancona, Romagna, Bologna, and Ferrara. The duchy of Benvenuto and the principality of Ponte Corvo were fiefs of the Church. Of the populations of these countries, some inclined to the principles of the Revolution in 1789, others were animated with a fanatical hatred against France and its doctrines.” When, in the month of March 1796, General Buonaparte took the command of the army of Italy, his prompt conquests in the north “were easy, for the majority of the population was favourable to the French. The reigning Pope, Pius VI., frightened at the progress of the French army, solicited an armistice. This was granted him on hard conditions, which, however, he ratified on the 23d of June 1796. He gave up to France the Legations of Bologna and Ferrara, the citadel of Ancona, which he was to deliver up, and all the coasts of the Adriatic Gulf from the mouths of the Po to that citadel, &c. The Pope having broken the armistice, the French troops immediately invaded the domain of St. Peter, and took Faenza, Forli, and Ravenna; after which the Pope, in consternation, wrote to Buonaparte begging a treaty, which was concluded at Tollentino on the 19th of February, the Pope yielding in perpetuity to the French Republic all his rights over the Legations of Bologna, Ferrara, and Romagna, on condition that it should be without any damage to the Catholic religion, and handing over to the treasurer of the French army ten millions of livres in specie, and five millions in diamonds and other valuables. In consequence of an emeute in Rome on the 28th December 1797, in which the French General Duphot was killed, Alexander Berthier, general-in-chief of the French army in Italy, received orders to take possession of Rome, which was done without striking a blow. On the 6th of February 1798, the chiefs of the revolutionary movement pronounced, in the name of a large concourse of people assembled in the Campo Vaccino (the ancient Forum), the fall of the Pontifical Government, and proclaimed the Republic. The Pope during these events kept himself concealed; but the cardinals, having met in the Vatican, had signed their absolute renunciation of the temporal power; and on the 7th of February fourteen among them attended at a solemn Te Deum, sung in the Church of St. Peter, with all the pomp of Catholicism, to celebrate the revolution which took away the throne from the head of the Catholic Church.”

[198] The French Catholic paper L’Univers, commenting on the debate on Rome in the French Assembly (July 1871), says: “All our hopes have been disappointed; in the only nation on which the Papacy could count the last support fails it. Humanly speaking, all is over.” The Roman correspondent of the Daily News says about the same time: “The Pope is twitting the more Ultramontane of the venerable members of the Sacred College, those who have been urging him to pursue reactionary courses, after the following fashion:—‘You see what it has all come to—just as I told you, just as I never ceased to predict. You insisted on my abjuring my early liberal policy, and now you see the result. It is by you that such calamities have been brought on the Church and on the world.’ ” On June 26 the Pope held a consistory, in which he said, “We are, my very dear brothers, in the hands of Divine Providence; we have nothing to expect from human aid, for man has abandoned us. Why should we dissemble? It is better I should tell you, that kings and governments, forgetting their promises, leave us to our fate.… We can hope for no help from any quarter. We have done all that was in our power, but our efforts have failed. All is over. Only a miracle can save us.” The republican Government of France, the country that formerly was the great support of the Papacy, in the latter end of 1880 passed and executed a decree which not only banished the Jesuits from the country, but closed the convents of most of the religious orders in France, in all twenty-nine, with about three thousand six hundred members, in addition to the two thousand four hundred and sixty Jesuits who were expelled.

V. The time of the judgment. As already observed, this is not the general judgment at the termination of Christ’s reign on earth, or, as the phrase is commonly understood, the end of the world. It appears rather to be an invisible judgment carried on within the veil and revealed by its effects and the execution of its sentence [199]. As occasioned by the “great words” of the Little Horn, and followed by the taking away of his dominion, it might seem to have already sat. As, however, the sentence is not yet by any means fully executed, it may be sitting now. The deeds of the Little Horn may not yet be finished, though the temporal power of the Papacy has apparently ceased. A new and more terrible form may possibly yet be assumed before its final and complete destruction shall take place by the brightness of the Lord’s appearing (2 Thessalonians 2:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:8) [200]. The words of warning addressed by the Saviour have their application at the present time: “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness and the cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares: for as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye, therefore, and pray always, that ye may be counted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” “Behold I come as a thief; blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame” (Luke 21:34-36; Revelation 16:15).

[199] “These passages (Revelation 4:2; Revelation 4:4; Revelation 5:11; Revelation 11:15-17), and others like them,” says Archdeacon Harrison, “show how, in the visions of prophecy, the throne of judgment of the everlasting King is in some sense ever at hand, ready to be revealed, and its unseen processes of judgment ever going on; though at certain times—and more awfully, we may believe, as the ‘mystery of iniquity ‘in its varied forms unfolds itself and the end of the world draws near—the spirit of prophecy, or the hand of Providence, draws back the veil, and exhibits the awful scene which Daniel saw in vision.”

[200] Materials seldom long wanting for such a development. It was believed by many that the first Napoleon was to perform the rôle of the final or infidel Antichrist. The same thing was anticipated by some regarding his nephew, the late Emperor, who professed to possess the spirit of his uncle, and to have a peculiar destiny to fulfil. The anticipations have not been fulfilled in either case. Such a development, however, can soon be made to appear if the word of prophecy and the purpose of God require it. The following lately appeared in the Weekly Review: “Whether you talk to Parisians or to Frenchmen in the provinces about the political prospects, nine times out of ten there will be the shrug of the shoulders and the remark that history repeats itself; and the last decades of the nineteenth century, like the last decades of the eighteenth, will be a period of anarchy and revolution.… The Republic itself shows signs of weakness, and moderate men of all parties are anxious. It is said that the execution of the decrees against the religious orders has done some harm to the Republic.… After the way in which M. Victor Hugo has lauded Voltaire, it would, perhaps, have been discreet to have tolerated even the Jesuits for a time, rather than to have given the Anti-Republicans the pretext for asserting that the Republic is antagonistic to religion. But the changes of ministry is the most menacing feature.… It is incontestable that M. Gambetta has made and unmade Ministries. He has power without official responsibility, and that is always perilous.… Unfortunately moderate men are becoming distrustful, and M. Gambetta may be compelled to rely upon the extreme section, the Reds, if he is to be the chief of a Republic. If M. Gambetta wins by the sole or main support of the Reds, his tenure of the highest position is not likely to be long or beneficial to France.”

As suggested by the passage, we may notice—

1. It is our comfort to know that there is a God that judgeth in the earth. Men not worn out by tyranny, oppression, and persecution, without an eye being kept upon their wrongs and the perpetrators of them. Flesh and sense ready at times to say, “My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over by my God.” A sore trial for faith when the oppressor and persecutor prosper, and the cause of truth and righteousness seems well-nigh crushed. But God only appears to take no notice. Christ is in the ship, and though apparently asleep in the storm, He will awake at the right time, at the cry of His people, rebuke the oppressor’s wrath, and change the storm into a calm. Patience is to have her perfect work, that when we have done and suffered the will of God, we may inherit the promises. “He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” The hour of deliverance shall arrive. The judgment will sit—is now indeed sitting. He who is “higher than the highest” takes not His eye from the haughty oppressor and persecutor of His people, and will, when the proper time arrives, “awake to the judgment which He has commanded.”

2. The infinite majesty of God and the awful consequences of His displeasure. The Lord is a God of judgment. His eyes, which are as a flame of fire, behold, and His eyelids try, the children of men. A fiery stream issues and goes forth from before Him. Who can stand when once He is angry? Our God is a consuming fire. How terrible to meet Him as an adversary! Yet sin makes Him our adversary. Prepare, then, to meet thy God. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whilst thou art in the way with Him. There is one, and only one, way of doing so. The Jews, to be reconciled to their offended king, made Blastus, his chamberlain, their friend. God has given His own Son as a sacrifice and Mediator, that we may make Him our friend, accept of Him, and put our trust in Him, and so be reconciled to God. This is God’s own way for meeting Him. Blessed are all they that put their trust in that provided Mediator. Such can see the fiery stream that issues from before Him, ready to devour the adversaries, without alarm. They can go forward to meet it singing, with the Apostle, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.” Or, with Count Zinzendorf in the well-known hymn—

“Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress.
Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.
Bold shall I stand in that great day;
For who aught to my charge shall lay?
Fully absolved through these I am,
From sin and guilt, from fear and shame.”

3. The wisdom of preparing for a judgment to come. Whatever may be the case in regard to the judgment we have been considering, and whatever share we may or may not have in it, it is certain that we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, to receive according to the things done in the body, whether good or bad. “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after that the judgment.” Each must then give account of himself to God. For all these things God will bring thee into judgment. Are our works those of the flesh or of the Spirit? Are they wrought in God or out of Him? Am I renewed or still unrenewed? Am I pardoned and accepted now in the Surety, the Lord our Righteousness? A place in the New Jerusalem or the Gehenna of fire depends on the question. “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to enter in through the gates into the city;” or, as the Revised Version reads, “Blessed are they that wash their robes.” This is the beginning of doing His commandments. “Come now, let us reason together: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made as wool; though they be red as crimson, they shall be white as snow.” Reader, the fountain for sin and uncleanness is still open; if not already washed, wash now, and prepare for the judgment. “The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin.” Trust in that blood and be clean.

Verse 27

HOMILETICS

SECT. XXVII.—THE KINGDOM OF THE SAINTS OF THE MOST HIGH (Chap. Daniel 7:18; Daniel 7:22; Daniel 7:27)

‘The saints shall take the kingdom.” A striking feature in the kingdom predicted in this vision of Daniel is that, while it is distinctly said to be given to the Son of Man, it is just as distinctly said, and that twice over, to be given to the saints, or to the people of the saints of the Most High, and that the saints take the kingdom. Although this circumstance has been slightly referred to under the preceding section, in connection with the administration of the kingdom of the Son of Man, yet from the prominence given to it and its threefold repetition in the vision it demands a separate consideration. We notice—the saints to whom the kingdom is given; the kingdom itself; the sense in which it is given to the saints; the suitableness of the appointment; and the beneficial results.

I. The saints [211]. Saints denote holy or sanctified persons. The term is applicable both to angels and men. Here it is the latter. “Holy” means separated from sin, and separated to God and His service. The former may be called the moral, the latter the official meaning of the term. Whatever is set apart to God and His service or use may be called holy in the official sense. Men thus set apart are or ought to be holy also in the moral sense, holy in heart and life, or separate from sin. This is the sense in the text; hence they are called “saints of the Most High,” such as are both separated to His service, belonging to Him as His own, made saints by Himself, and approved by Him as such. This far removed from the profane caricature of Papal canonisation. Men are made saints by the mighty power of divine grace, renewing them in the spirit of their mind, making them spiritually alive from being dead in trespasses and sins, and rendering them “new creatures,” or a new creation in Christ Jesus. This is especially the work assigned to the Holy Ghost, and such are said to be “born of the Spirit.” Baptism with water is the sign, but not the instrument of it. Cornelius, and thousands more, were born again of the Spirit before they were baptized; while Simon the sorcerer, like millions more, though baptized with water, was never born again at all. The instrument in the new birth, in the case of any beyond infancy, is the Word of truth. “Being born again,” says Peter, “not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, that liveth and abideth for ever.” “Of His own will,” says James, “begat He us by the Word of truth.” It is by the same instrument that the work of holiness or sanctification is carried on in the saints afterwards. “Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy Word is truth.” “Now ye are clean through the Word that I have spoken unto you.” “That He might sanctify and cleanse it (the Church) with the washing of water by the Word” (John 17:17; John 15:3; Ephesians 5:26). This renewing and sanctifying of the soul by the Holy Ghost is effected in union with Christ, as members of His body and branches in Him as the true Vine,—“sanctified in Christ Jesus.” The work is carried on here in the body of flesh, but is only perfected when the body is either put off at death or changed at the Lord’s coming. Hence “the spirits of just men made perfect.” Men may be truly saints here, but only perfected saints hereafter. This saintship or sanctified condition is peculiar to no nation or class. There is, however, also a federal or covenant holiness which may belong to a nation or class, and which, like official holiness, may exist without holiness in heart and life. Thus the Jews were a holy, because a covenant people, chosen by the Lord as a people for Himself. Thus baptized Christians and the children of such are federally holy, as taken outwardly into the Christian covenant, and professedly given up to God in baptism, though, alas! too often, like the Jews, far away from moral and personal holiness. The saints of the Most High are not merely federally and officially, but morally and personally holy; holy as God is holy, and pure as God is pure, partakers of the divine character, and possessing the same holiness in kind though not in degree. In the Old Testament such were chiefly found among the Jews, to whom pertained the adoption and the giving of the law, as well as the covenants and the promises. In the New Testament they are found both among Jews and Gentiles of every nation, people, and tongue. It is of such that the kingdom of the Son of Man, identical with the kingdom given to the saints, consists. Hence the commission: “Go ye and teach (disciple) all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” While He is King of the Jews, He is also “Lord of all.” There appears, therefore, no reason for limiting the term in the text, especially as the vision has obviously its fulfilment, not in Old, but in New Testament times. A more difficult question perhaps might be, Are they the glorified saints, or saints still in the body, or both? [212] If the giving of the kingdom to the saints is to be understood in the sense of reward, as in that sense it is given to the Son of Man, then it would seem that the saints here indicated are those who, like Paul, have fought the good fight, have finished their course, and have kept the faith, and so have now received the crown of righteousness from the hand of the righteous Judge at His appearing. On this supposition they are those who have overcome, and so have received power from Christ “over the nations to rule them,” and have been made to sit down with Him on His throne. It would be the fulfilment of the promise, “Ye are they that have continued with me in my temptations, and I appoint unto you a kingdom, even as my Father hath appointed unto me” (Luke 22:28-29). Other parallel passages would be Revelation 5:9-10; Revelation 17:18; Revelation 20:4. In this case, the saints would be those who should be raised from the dead at the Lord’s appearing, according to 1 Corinthians 15:23, and 1 Thessalonians 4:16, together with those who should be alive at His coming (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:17). However, even in respect to the saints then still in the body, and constituting the renewed subjects of the millennial kingdom in general, with converted Israel in particular, it would still be true that the saints take the kingdom, all civil government being then exercised by the holy persons in subordination to Christ and His glorified Bride.

[211] “Saints.” According to Keil, these are neither the Jews, who are accustomed to call themselves “saints,” in contrast with the heathen (as V. Lengerke, Maurer, Hitzig, &c., think), nor the converted Israel of the millennium (as Hofmann and others believe); but, as we argue from Exodus 19:6; Deuteronomy 7:6, the true members of the covenant nation, the New Testament Israel of God, i.e., the congregation of the new covenant, consisting of Israel and the faithful of all nations. Auberlen, like Hofmann, understands the Jews still on earth to be the saints meant in this vision of Daniel. “By ‘the people of the saints of the Most High,’ to whom dominion is given, Daniel evidently could only understand the people of Israel, as distinguished from the heathen nations and kingdoms, which were to rule till then. In this point Roos, Preiswerk, Hofmann, agree with Hitzig, Bertholdt, and others. The prophet’s words refer to the re-establishment of the kingdom of Israel, concerning which the disciples asked immediately before the ascension.” Œcolampadius and others understood the faithful reigning with Christ in the celestial kingdom. Willet, however, justly observes that the kingdom is not said to be in heaven, but under heaven, and therefore on earth. Some, as Pellican and Bullinger, thought the Church of Christ is indicated, commencing while the other monarchies were still standing, and propagated over all the world in the time of the fourth beast or Roman Empire. Willet thinks the kingdom is the spiritual dominion of the Church, commencing when the other monarchies are extinguished; beginning in this world, but perfected at the Lord’s second Advent, the saints reigning in grace here and in glory hereafter.

[212] “Among the saints who are called to reign with Christ,” says Auberlen on Revelation 20:4, “the martyrs of ancient and modern times are mentioned first; they become most like to the Lord Jesus in their suffering and death, and are therefore nearest Him in His life and reign.… And the Saviour teaches expressly that at His second coming as King of the kingdom, He shall place one servant over ten cities and another over five, according to the measure of faithfulness they showed during His absence (Luke 19:11). Next to the martyrs are mentioned all who had not worshipped the beast, be it in more remote times or in the last days, which are referred to by the image and the mark upon their forehead, as will appear from a comparison with Revelation 13:14-17. Worshippers of the beast are all they that take the powers of this world as a reality and serve it, instead of looking to things invisible and future (2 Corinthians 4:17).… Hence our passage refers to the whole congregation of believers who are born of God, to God’s Church gathered out of Israel and the Gentiles (Romans 8:17).… Immediately connected with the resurrection of the dead is the transfiguration of those who will be then living on the earth; and the living thus changed, freed from the weight of the earthly and corruptible, and transported into the essential liberty of spirit, can now, even as the transfigured Saviour ascended up on high, be caught up into the clouds to meet the returning Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17). The New Testament tells us that instead of the devil, the transfigured Church of Christ shall rule the world; while the Old Testament informs us that instead of the heathen beast, the holy people of Israel shall do so. Both agree in what is of central importance, that it is Christ, the Son of Man, who now rules humanity by His transfigured Church in heaven and by His people Israel on earth.” Calvin observes that in consequence of the intimate union between Christ and His Church, what belongs to the Head is transferred to the body; that the supreme power is constantly promised by the prophets to the Church, especially by Jesus Christ, who often predicts its complete supremacy; and that while the Church reigns by itself, Christ, its only supreme Head, obtains dominion therein.

II. The kingdom itself. This appears to be the same as that of which the interpreting angel had already spoken as the kingdom given by the Ancient of Days to the Son of Man—the kingdom of which Christ is the Head and King, and which was to take the place of the kingdoms of this world, or of the four monarchies, which shall have disappeared as the chaff of the summer threshing-floor (chap. 2) The same dominion, rule, and kingdom that is given to Christ is given to the saints as Christ’s members, who are to reign and be glorified with Him, and to sit with Him on His throne; to whom He Himself was to give authority over the nations, to rule them along with Him, and whom He was to appoint a kingdom as His Father had appointed to Himself. The kingdom is given by the Ancient of Days to Christ, and by Christ is given to His Church or Bride, to possess it along with Him, and be associated with Him in its government. The kingdom is heavenly in its origin and character, but has its place not in heaven but on earth, over and among the nations and peoples inhabiting it. While having its earthly visible and material side, like its predecessors, it will be spiritual and holy in its character, consisting not in meats and drinks, but in righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost; the kingdom that has been so long prayed for, when God’s will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven. From heaven, wherever that may be, the saints will rule the earth with Christ, while the saints on earth shall rule subordinately with them. The “kingdom of the world” shall become “the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ,” or His anointed members (Revelation 11:15, R.V.)

III. The sense in which the saints shall take the kingdom. This appears to be the same as that in which Christ Himself takes it. The angel indicates no difference; only that Christ receives it directly from the Ancient of Days, which the saints are not said to do, they receiving it mediately from or virtually in Christ, whose members and whose Bride they are, forming with Him one body and one Christ (Revelation 11:15; 1 Corinthians 12:12). Christ the Head receives the kingdom from the Father as His reward for the accomplishment of His mediatorial work given Him by the Father to do as His Righteous Servant (Philippians 2:6-10). His members receive it also as a reward from Christ, whose servants they were, and to whom they were enabled to be faithful even unto death. “If any man will serve me, let him follow me; and where I am there shall also my servant be. If any man serve me, him will my Father honour.” “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” “He that overcometh, and keepeth my words unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations.” “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations; and I appoint unto you a kingdom, even as my Father hath appointed me” (John 12:26; Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:21; Luke 22:28-29). The saints take the kingdom as heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. One with Christ, they share with Him in His glory and reign, as they shared with Him before in His humiliation and suffering. They possess the kingdom, and exercise kingly rule and authority with and under Him, as the priest-kings whom He made such by His grace after redeeming them by His blood (Revelation 1:5-6; Revelation 5:9-10). With the members as with the Head, it is first humiliation and then glory: “Out of prison he cometh to reign” (Ecclesiastes 4:13). They take the kingdom, not as the kings of the world, as a matter of earthly ambition, or through carnal relationship, or by skilful management, intrigue, and violence, or as conquerors with garments rolled in blood. They take it as a gift of grace from their loving Husband and King, whom it was given them by the same grace lovingly to follow and obey even unto death. They take and possess the kingdom, not for the gratification of personal ambition, or selfish desires, or carnal pleasures, from which, as saints, they are for ever separated; but for the glory of Him who created all things for Himself, and of His Son who redeemed them by His blood, as well as for the happiness of a regenerated world and wide-extended universe. For the same high and holy ends will the saints then still in the flesh, and Israel more especially, exercise in a subordinate capacity the rule which the King Himself in His wisdom shall assign to them. [213]

[213] “Take the kingdom.” Calvin refers the taking of the kingdom by the saints to the time when, after the promulgation of the Gospel, the kingdom of God and of the saints obtained some fame and celebrity in the world. In another place, however, he remarks that the slaying of the fourth beast and the giving the kingdom and authority to the people of the saints does not seem to have taken place yet; whence all Christian interpreters agree in treating this prophecy as relating to the final day of Christ’s Advent He himself thinks the saints began to reign under the whole heaven when Christ ushered in His kingdom by the promulgation of it; and that though Daniel does not here predict occurrences connected with the Advent of Christ as Judge of the World, but with the first preaching of the Gospel, yet he notwithstanding draws a magnificent picture of Christ’s reign, embracing its final completion. The taking of the kingdom was in like manner interpreted by the early Fathers as referring to the general spread of Christianity after the first Advent of Christ. So Dr. Lee and Professor Bush.

IV. The suitableness of the appointment. There is something suitable in the thrice-repeated declaration that the saints of the Most High, or truly holy persons, shall take the kingdom. In the preceding empires, and ever since Nimrod, the “mighty hunter before the Lord,” began to be “a mighty one on the earth,” the “vilest of men” have often been “exalted” to kingly power, and, as a consequence, the “wicked have walked on every side” (Psalms 12:8). For wise and holy reasons, God, in His mysterious providence, often sets over kingdoms the “basest of men,” when, as a natural result, the land is filled with misery and crime (Daniel 4:17). Selfish and godless rulers have constituted a part of the present state of earthly things. Natural, so long as “the whole world lieth in the evil one” (1 John 5:19, R.V.) Evil rulers a part of the evil entailed by the Fall, and often the chastisement of the sins of the people. What the world wants and longs for, but seldom obtains, is wise, upright, disinterested rulers, ruling in the fear of God and for the best interests of their subjects. Such is the state of things predicted in the text. Something suitable and becoming when holy men, separated from sin and selfishness, bearing the image and character of the God whose name and nature is love, and who is “righteous in all His ways and holy in all His works,” shall take, and, by divine gift, possess the kingdom. Such have learned to rule by being first taught how to obey, and have been trained to reign with Christ hereafter by suffering with Him here. Such fitted to rule by imbibing the spirit and walking in the steps of Him who was meek and lowly in heart, and who pleased not Himself, but went about doing good. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:3; Matthew 5:5).

V. Its beneficial results. The happiness of subjects greatly bound up with the character and government of their rulers. “The king by judgment establisheth the land.” “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked bear rule, the people mourn” (Proverbs 29:2; Proverbs 29:4). Seen in a measure in the rule of David, as compared with that of many who succeeded him. Limited examples also in our own Alfred, and in her who now sits upon his throne. The best of rulers, however, in the present state of things, able only to produce partial results, both from their own imperfect spiritual condition and that of their ministers and coadjutors in the government, their short continuance in power, the evil state of things already existing, and the hostile influences, visible and invisible, which oppose them. From these impediments the reign of the saints of the Most High in the millennial kingdom of the Son of Man will be greatly exempt, so that their rule will be naturally one of the highest beneficence, and attended with the happiest results to humanity [214]. The state of things in the world, under a government in which a King (Messiah) shall reign in righteousness, and princes (the saints associated with Him) shall rule in judgment, represented by the prophets under such imagery as the following: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.” “He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass; as showers that water the earth. There shall be a handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon; and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth” (Isaiah 11:6-9; Isaiah 65:25; Psalms 72:6; Psalms 72:16). Without any figure, “Then shall the earth yield her increase, and God, even our own God, shall bless us. God shall bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him” (Psalms 67:6-7). The subject suggests—

[214] “Not only,” says Auberlen, “does the evil spiritual influence which the prince of this world exerted on humanity in the preceding ages cease, but, in place of it, the transfigured Church of God obtain a most blessed dominion over the world. Christianity will pervade the world and all relations of life in spirit and in truth.… It is upon this present earth that it must be shown and proved that the devil, who pretended to be its rightful lord, was only a usurper; man, who was created to ‘have dominion over the earth,’ is to rejoice over his world with full, unmixed, holy joy. Every legitimate and true ideal will then become a reality.”

1. Cause of rejoicing in the prospect presented by the text. It was as a ground of comfort and a matter of rejoicing that it was three times announced to Daniel that the saints should take and possess the kingdom. It was intimated as good tidings not only for the saints themselves, who, instead of being given into the hands of oppressors and persecutors, despised and down-trodden, and often counted as sheep for the slaughter, should have the rule and government of the nations committed to them, but for the world who should reap the benefit of such a state of things. Whether it be the saints that have finished their course of suffering and service on earth, and now are glorified according to the promise, or whether it be the saints still living in the flesh, be it Jews or Gentiles, or both, it is for every lover of his kind to rejoice that a day is coming when truly holy persons, and only such, shall hold the reins of government, and administer a righteous and beneficent rule over the nations, in loyal and loving subordination and obedience to the Prince of Peace. That saints, renewed and sanctified in Christ, transformed into His image, and breathing His spirit of meekness, humility, and love, and at the same time guided by a wisdom that is from above, pure, peaceable, and gentle, full of mercy and of good fruits, instead of the wisdom that is earthly, sensual, and devilish—that such shall be the only rulers that the earth shall know, and that their rule shall be at the same time the rule of the Son of Man, with all power in heaven and earth, is surely a consummation devoutly to be wished, and a prospect greatly to be rejoiced in.

2. The blessed consequence of a faithful adherence to the Saviour. The saints shall take the kingdom. Believers are made kings and priests already. They are princes even now, but in disguise. They travel to their inheritance incognito. It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we do know that a crown of glory awaits every faithful follower of Jesus, however poor his condition may be now. If we suffer with Christ, we shall also reign with Him. Suffering with Him now, we shall be also glorified with Him hereafter. When He who is our life shall be manifested, we shall also “with Him be manifested in glory” (Colossians 3:4, R.V.) The humblest follower of Jesus, faithful unto death, shall receive a crown of life, and shall sit down with Christ in His throne, sharing with Him in His kingly glory, and in the government of a renewed world. They shall reign with Christ. “The saints shall judge the world. Know ye not that we shall judge angels?” (1 Corinthians 6:2-3). It matters not how the saints shall reign or exercise the kingly authority that shall be committed to them. What we know not now we shall know hereafter. Enough that the thing is true. If we suffer with Him, we shall reign with Him. Let this be our comfort under the burden and heat of the day, and let it animate us to use unfaltering perseverance in a cause of faithful self-denying service, till the Master shall please to call us from the field.

3. The character of the future blessedness of the saints. They shall possess the kingdom. They shall thus have noble work to do, honourable and dignified service to employ them. His servants shall still serve Him, and they shall serve Him in the highest form of service. They shall find abundant scope for the sanctified faculties which they shall possess, and have ample field for the exercise of the Christ-like disposition which shall animate them. Renewed in the image of the universal Ruler, they shall have the employment restored to them which was originally bestowed upon man at his creation, but was lost through the Fall. Their blessedness will not be mere rest, but rest from trouble, sin, and bondage, with a holy and happy employment which shall become their position as sons of God and brethren of the King of kings, and in which they shall with Him still contribute to the glory of the Creator and the happiness of His creatures. They will thus not only be made to resemble their Lord and Husband, but be kept in closest sympathy and fellowship with Him, as sharing in the government that shall be upon His shoulders. What was their chief happiness on earth will thus be perfected in glory. Their kingly and princely office they will also be enabled to discharge without fatigue, and without the grief of being continually opposed and thwarted in their benevolent endeavours by the wily and watchful enmity of him who was the great adversary of God and man, but who shall then be under a divine restraint, so as no more to deceive the nations (Revelation 20:4).

4. The privilege of believers to be employed now in a way that shall be both an anticipation of their future blessedness and their preparation for it. This is that of seeking, according to our gifts and opportunities, to promote the objects aimed at by Christ Himself and the saints that shall reign with Him over the earth—the glory of the Creator and the happiness of men, as experienced in His favour and service. To promote this twofold object is the work given to believers to do now, more especially by communicating the knowledge of the Saviour, and persuading men to be reconciled through Him to God. The Saviour’s parting commission to His Church, “Ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem, and in Judea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth.” “Preach the Gospel to every creature.” “Shine as lights in the world, holding forth the Word of life.” “Others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire.” For this blessed though now often trying and self-denying service He has promised and bestowed abundant qualification in the gift of His Holy Spirit: “Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you” (Acts 1:7-8). Such employment here, in whatever way and in whatever circumstances, a blessed anticipation of and preparation for our future employment when the saints shall take the kingdom. It was the faithful servant to whom it was said, “Have thou authority over ten cities.” Nor will the painful trials and deep sorrow which we may be called to experience in connection with a faithful endeavour to serve Christ and our fellow-men in the present state, be the least part of our preparation for the higher service that awaits us when all tears shall be wiped away.

5. Our interest to make sure our place now among the saints who shall possess the kingdom. Regard to one’s own interest makes this the first object we should be concerned to secure. The day is hastening when to have neglected this will appear the height of madness. To throw a fortune, a dukedom, a kingdom away, will one day soon appear to be reason and sense compared with the throwing away the opportunity of obtaining a place among those who shall in a few short years possess a kingdom that shall never pass away. That place is to be secured simply by a sincere and cordial acceptance of the Saviour whom God in His love has provided for a lost and guilty world, that Son of Man who came to seek and to save that which is lost. “To as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” That Son of Man who shall come one day in His glory and all His saints with Him, comes now in His Gospel to each man and woman who hears it, and offers him freely Himself, and along with Himself a place among His saints who shall hereafter with Himself possess the kingdom. Reader, have you cordially accepted Him? Is He yours? Are you among His redeemed people? If not, accept Him now, and take no rest till by His grace you are enabled joyfully to say, “My Lord and my God!”

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Daniel 7". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/phc/daniel-7.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.