Evidence from Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ, by William Miller, , at sacred-texts.com
PREVIOUS to Daniel's asking the question contained in our text, he had been taught, as we have seen in our former lecture, not only the history of future events as they would succeed each other down to the end of the world, but he had the regular order of time specified in the duration of the little horn, "time, times, and a half," as in Daniel vii. 25, and xii. 7. But he had been informed of many events which should transpire after his "time, times, and a half" should be finished, and not having the length of the Pagan beast, or daily abomination, given to him at all, he could not tell or understand whereabouts in his grand number of 2300 days, the end of the civil power of the little horn, or Papal Rome, carried him: there was no rule given Daniel yet by which he could tell when or how long after the crucifixion of the Messiah before the daily sacrifice abomination would be taken out of the way, and the power of the little horn be established, and the abomination of desolation set up. Be sure, Daniel had heard the whole history down to the resurrection, and had the whole vision specified in his 2300 days. But as he saw there were evidently three divisions of the time after the crucifixion or cutting off of the Messiah at the fulfilment of his 490 years, or 70 weeks, down to the end of his 1810 years, which would be the remainder of his total number of 2300 years, after his 70 weeks should be fulfilled; and having only 1260 of those years accounted for by the reign of his little horn, leaving five hundred and fifty years to be applied on the Pagan beast, and for the events which we are to attend to after the Papal beast lost his civil power,--therefore the propriety of Daniel's saying in our text, "Then I heard, but I understood not." He understood not how this time was divided, and especially, how much time would be taken up in the last division of the angel's history, beginning with the 40th verse of the 11th chapter, where our last lecture ended, and finishing with the context of the 12th chapter, the verse previous to our text. That this is the plain and significant meaning, is evident from what follows our text, viz., the angel's answer to Daniel's question, "What shall be the end of these things?" And he said, Go thy way, Daniel; for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end;" that is, my mission is closed, the words are finished, and registered in the roll of God's word, they are sealed, that is, made sure, unalterable, will stand until every word has its fulfilment, which in the end shall be accomplished; not, as some suppose, that Daniel's prophecy is sealed, closed up, out of sight, and cannot be understood. This is not the way of God's dealings with us; for if this had been the angel's meaning, he would have said to Daniel as he did to John in similar circumstances, Rev. x. 4, "Seal up those things, and write them not." But it is the reverse; for he says in the next verse, 10, "Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly, and none of the wicked shall understand." None of the wicked shall understand what? Why, the things before spoken of--Daniel's vision and instruction. Very well, then the wicked do right for once. Certainly, if your exposition of the former text is correct, that it is hid, and cannot be known, they are obeying the command of the angel, close up and seal the words; and surely they will not be condemned for obedience. "But the wise shall understand," says the angel. What shall the wise understand? They shall understand the vision; or the words before spoken by the angel at least. But say you, "Daniel was commanded to seal up and close the words, so that they may never know them till the end, and the wise understand them. How can these things be?" I answer, These texts explain each other. There is a close connection in the word of God which must always be kept in view, and if our exposition of one contradicts another of the same connection or of like import, we may know there is a wrong in us. Now, one thing is certain,--"all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." And "secret things belong to God; but things revealed, to us and our children." And when I see pretended servants of God, men of great pretence to piety and knowledge, disputing long and sharp on some metaphysical point in theology which they nor their hearers can never understand, and when they are asked to explain the plain declarations of God, put it off, by saying, it is sealed up, and we ought not to try to understand it, it makes me think of Æsop's fable of the dog in the manger; of Christ's reproof to the scribes and Pharisees, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in;" and this passage in Daniel, "The wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand." You may depend upon one thing, when you hear such declarations as the above from the pulpit, that the speaker does not love his Bible as well as he loves his own popularity, and studies to support his faith, the popular writers and standard authors of the day, more than the divine revelation of God. But God is now trying his people; he is now giving them a great rule to know their love for his word. If the word of God is to them foolishness, and they take more delight in the popular writers of the day, they may depend upon it they are stumbling at that stumbling-stone. But the angel tells us that many shall be purified and made white. This was good news to Daniel, and ought to be so to us; for it is the declaration of God through the medium of Gabriel, his messenger. "And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days: but go thou thy way till the end be, for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days." Now Daniel had all he could ask for; now he could understand the time, and the length, and part of every division which the angel had given him in his instruction, so far as to fill up his vision of 2300 years, (as we shall call them, having proved in a former lecture that they ought to be so reckoned, and have been so fulfilled.) He has now learned that, to begin and reckon back from the resurrection, which he well knew would be 1810 years after Christ's crucifixion, he might find out when the daily sacrifice abomination would be taken away. Therefore take 1335 years from 1810 years, would leave 475 years; and he could reckon from the end of the 70 weeks, or 490 years, to the end of Pagan Rome, would be 475, from thence to the time he should stand in his lot, would be 1335 years. Then by adding
1335 would make the sum total of his whole vision
2300 years. And now, let us suppose he wished to know when the abomination of desolation would end, and when it would begin. He has only to take his number, one thousand two hundred and ninety, as given him by his angel, from his 1335, thus,--
and he finds that 45 years before the resurrection the little horn would lose his civil power. Now, let him take his time, times, and a half, and add, say 1260 years to 45 years, and he will find that the little horn began his reign 1305 years before the resurrection, and 30 years after the daily sacrifice abomination was taken away. And now he is prepared to give his vision and the instruction of the angel all their proper bearings, and prove it thus:--
1st. The seventy weeks or 490 years to the crucifixion of Christ,. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 490
From crucifixion to taking away daily abomination, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 475
From taking away Pagan rites to the setting up abomination of desolation, . . . . . . . 30
From setting up Papal power (time, times, and a half) to the end of his civil reign, . . 1260
From the taking away the Papal civil rule to the resurrection, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
Now add these together, and you will have the whole 2300 years of Daniel's vision. Do you not, kind hearer, see by this mode, and by these last numbers given him, Daniel could learn every part and division of the whole history down to the time when he should stand in his lot? But now, for his instruction, we will suppose Daniel understood our mode of reckoning time; he might have given it to us in this way:--"The 70 weeks, or 490 years, will be accomplished A.D. 33. The pagan abomination will be taken away 475 years afterwards, which will be A.D. 508. The papal abomination will be set up 30 years after, A.D. 538, and will continue 1260 years, A.D. 1798. After this 45 years, I shall stand in my lot, and all that come forth to this resurrection will be blessed, A.D. 1843." "Blessed is he that waiteth and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days." Rev. xx. 6. "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection."
We are now prepared to give you the remainder of the angel's instruction to Daniel, beginning where we left off in our last lecture; and you will likewise now take notice that it is the last division, and what we now shall read to you must all take place in 45 years, between the years 1798 and 1843. So that you may, almost all of you, judge for yourselves, upon your own observations, whether these things are so or not.
We therefore begin at the 40th verse of the 11th chapter of Daniel, "and at the time of the end" of the papal civil power. Now, another person has obtained this civil power: this was Bonaparte, the ruler of the French nation. This year of which we are now treating was the very year that the French destroyed the power of the pope, and Bonaparte began his extraordinary career in conquest and authority; and it was evident, by his success and fortune, that he was raised up by God himself for some great and special purpose; and through him, as an instrument, and by means of the French revolution, the shackles that had bound more than half of Europe in bigotry, superstition, and tyranny, were burst asunder, and the inquisition and Papacy lost their power and terror over the bodies and minds of men. At this time, then, our prophecy begins, and Bonaparte is the person designated by the pronouns he and him in the prophecy: "And, at the time of the end, shall the king of the south push at him; and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships." This is a description of an alliance entered into by the king of Sardinia, Italy, and Spain, in the south, and Great Britain, in the north, for six years. England engaged, in this treaty, to pay the king of Sardinia 200,000l. per annum to furnish an army of horse and a large fleet. The command of the fleet was given to Lord Nelson. Various was the success of the allies in the south. Spain had to recede, and finally joined the French. The king of Sardinia had to leave his territories on the continent, and shut himself up in the island of Sardinia. The king of Naples fled to the island of Sicily, after making a vigorous push at the French, in November, 1798, and getting possession of Rome, while Lord Nelson took and destroyed the French fleet, near the mouth of the Nile, the same year. But the French soon retook Italy; and this broke up this league, and the French remained masters of almost all that belonged to the Western Empire of Rome, except Great Britain. "And he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow, and pass over," was literally accomplished. "He shall enter also into the glorious land," (or land of delight, as it might have been translated.) This, I have no doubt, means Italy. Bonaparte fought some of his most brilliant battles in this delightsome country. The battle of Marengo was fought, if I mistake not, in June, 1800, after crossing the Alps, an impassable barrier between France and Italy, as it was supposed by his enemies "And many countries shall be overthrown." It is said that Bonaparte conquered three kingdoms at the battle of Marengo. "But these shall escape out of his hands, even Edom and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon." Bonaparte, when he went into Egypt, calculated to march into the East Indies: he advanced into Syria, where, after gaining some advantages, he received a decisive check before St. John d'Acre, when he was obliged to raise the siege, and retreat back to Egypt with the shattered remains of his army. So the country once inhabited by the Edomites, Moabites, and Ammonites, "escaped out of his hands." 42, "He shall stretch forth his hands also upon the countries; and the land of Egypt shall not escape." "Hands" signifies power; and what country on the globe did not more or less feel the effects of Bonaparte's power? Egypt, surely, did not escape; for all Lower Egypt was conquered by his arms. 43, "But he shall have power over the treasures of gold, and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt." Bonaparte, in his conquest of Egypt, levied contributions upon the inhabitants of the country sufficient to support and pay his troops, and brought away much with him. "And the Lybians and Ethiopians shall be at his steps." When he first went into Egypt, he landed his army on the coast of what was anciently called Lybia, and his last battle was fought in Upper Egypt--what the ancients called Ethiopia. So both of these places were at his steps, although neither of them was fairly conquered, as was Egypt. 44, "But tidings out of the east, and out of the north, shall trouble him." This was what was at that time called the Holy Alliance. This was composed of most of the kings on the north and east of France, which finally proved the overthrow of the power of Bonaparte, and the restoration of the Bourbons on the throne of France.
The news of this alliance caused him much trouble, and also his immediate return to France. "Therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy and utterly to make away many." This is a plain description of Bonaparte's campaign into Russia. He went forth with an army of 400,000 men, with fury, in order to break up the Holy Alliance. He did utterly destroy Moscow, and laid desolate the country through which he passed. He made away with more than 200,000 of his own army, besides the destruction of his enemies, say many thousands more. Such a destruction of life and property in one campaign was never known since the days of the Persians and the Greeks. 45, "And he shall plant the tabernacle of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain," (or mountain of delight.) This was literally fulfilled, in May 26, 1805, when Bonaparte was crowned king of Italy at Milan,--Italy lying between two seas. To "plant the tabernacle of his palace" would be to establish him as king. "Yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him." This closes the history of one of the most powerful monarchs--the most ambitious and fortunate of warriors, and a man of unbounded sway--that modern times had ever produced. He had destroyed, perhaps, more than 3,000,000 lives; he had dethroned more than one half of the kings of Europe; he had disposed of kingdoms at his will; all nations had been under the control of his decrees; he had commanded more than two millions of veteran soldiers; the treasures of the four quarters of the globe lay at his feet. "Yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him." How soon the tale of his end is told! A breath, and his end is come; a vapor, and he is gone. O God! the breath of kings is in thy hand; thy word goeth forth, and it is done; thy decree passeth, and it stands fast. "He shall come to his end, and none shall help him." Where are those kings that courted his alliance? Where are the twenty millions of French who idolized him as a god? Where are those two millions of veteran soldiers whose bodies had been used as ramparts to mount him to glory? Where are his five brethren who sat in the seat of kings by his power? Where is his mother, made a rich dowager by his munificence? Where, O where is the empress Maria Louisa, and the young king of Italy? "And none shall help him." Yes, Bonaparte was by the British, after he had resigned himself into their hands, carried a prisoner to the island of St. Helena, in the Atlantic Ocean, where he died in exile. "He shall come to his end, and none shall help him."
By this history the kings of the earth may learn, that God can, with perfect ease, when the set time shall come, break them and their kingdoms to pieces, so that the wind may carry them away like chaff, that no place shall be found for them.
I shall now examine the remainder of Gabriel's message, contained in Daniel xii. 1, "And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great Prince which standeth for the children of thy people." Michael, in this passage, must mean Christ; he is the great Prince, and Prince of princes.
The time here spoken of is when Bonaparte shall come to his end, and none to help him. This was in the latter part of the year A.D. 1815. There are two things for which Christ stands up for his people to accomplish; one is their faith, and the other their judgment. Jer. iii. 13. Now, it is evident he did not then stand up in judgment; therefore I shall choose the former, that he stood up to plead the cause of his people, to restrain backsliders, and to add to the church of God many who should be saved. And blessed be his holy name, he accomplished his purpose; for in the years 1816, 17, 18, more people were converted to the faith of Jesus than had been for thirty years before. Almost, and I know not but every town in these states was visited with a shower of mercy, and hundreds and thousands, yea, tens of thousands, were born into the invisible kingdom of the dear Redeemer, and their names recorded among the members of the church of the first born. This has lasted in a great measure for 20 years, and has spread over a large share of the Christian world; even the islands of the sea have lifted up their voices to God, and the wilderness has bloomed like the rose, and the heathen have seen of his salvation. The grace of God has distilled upon us like the morning dew, and like showers upon a thirsty soil. Surely this must be by the power of Michael, the great Prince of the covenant. "And there shall be a time of trouble, such as there never was since there was a nation, even to that same time." This time of trouble is yet in futurity; but is hanging, as it were, over our heads, ready to break upon us in tenfold vengeance, when the angel of the gospel, who is now flying through the midst of heaven, shall seal the last child of God in their foreheads. And when the four angels, who are now holding the four winds, that it blow not on the sea nor on the land, shall cease their holding; when the angel, standing on the sea and land, shall lift his hand to heaven and swear by him that liveth forever and ever, that time shall be no longer, or, as it might, and, perhaps, ought to have been translated, "that there should be no longer delay;" that is, God would wait no longer for repentance, no longer to be gracious; but his spirit would take its flight from the world, and the grace of God would cease to restrain men. He that is filthy will be filthy still. Mankind will, for a short season, give loose to all the corrupt passions of the human heart. No laws, human or divine, will be regarded; all authority will be trampled under foot; anarchy will be the order of governments, and confusion fill the world with horror and despair. Murder, treason, and crime, will be common law, and division and disunion the only bond of fellowship. Christians will be persecuted unto death, and dens and caves of the earth will be their retreat. All things which are not eternal will be shaken to pieces, that that which cannot be shaken may remain. And this, if I am right in my calculations, will begin on or before A.D. 1839. "And at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book." Now is come salvation indeed. The people of God are now to be delivered from outward foes and inbred lusts, from the corruptions of the grave and the vileness of the flesh. Every one, the poor and despised child of God, will then be delivered when he makes up his jewels. "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." This verse brings us down to the resurrection of the dead, when the dust will give up the bodies of the saints, and they shall awake to everlasting life, when death shall be finally conquered, and the grave resign up her captive saints to victory and glory. The angel also mentions the resurrection of the wicked, and speaks of their shame and everlasting contempt. He dwells not in detail on this second resurrection, as though it was too painful for thought, yet tells enough to let the wicked unbeliever know his awful doom, and is silent. "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever." This verse needs no comment; it is a beautiful figure of the righteous in glory, and the durability of that happiness in the invisible and immortal kingdom of God. " But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end." Some have taken occasion, from these words, to say, that this prophecy was to be shut up and sealed, that none might understand it until the end. If it was so, why give it to Daniel at all? Why note it in the Scripture of truth? Why give to us the same instruction which made Daniel understand what should befall the people of God in the latter day? But the plain and obvious meaning of the first part of this verse is, But thou, O Daniel, close up your prophecy, and set your seal to the truth of it, for at "the time of the end many shall run to and fro;" that is, at the time of the end the means of travel would be greatly extended, so that many would travel into all parts of the earth, and would increase in knowledge of places, men, and things. "And knowledge shall be increased." Can any prophecy be more literally fulfilled than this? The increase of travel, and the means of conveyance, and the improvement in the arts and sciences at the present day, have astonished the projectors themselves. But if it should mean holy things, then look at the great number of missionaries sent into all parts of our world. There are but few nations, civilized or barbarous, Christian or heathen, but what are visited by the professed ministers of Christ, and knowledge of the word of God has increased. And within thirty years, the Bible has been translated into one hundred and fifty languages, more than three times the number of all languages that had received a translation during 1800 years before. Millions of copies of the Bible have been circulated within the thirty years past, where thousands only had been circulated before. "Then I, Daniel, looked, and behold, there stood other two, the one on this side of the bank of the river, and the other on that side of the bank of the river, and said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?" Here Daniel saw the two holy ones inquiring of the man clothed in linen, which stood upon the waters of the river. This man is the same as Michael standing up for the children of thy people. The reason I assign is, he is clothed in linen, which shows he is the high priest for the people of God. It is the same angel that John describes, Rev. x. 1-6. This angel is represented as being the messenger of the covenant, by having a rainbow on his head. He was clothed with a cloud pure and white like linen. He, too, had a little book open, showing what he should do, agreeing with our explanation, spreading the gospel for the last time through the world, standing one foot on the sea, and the other on the earth, to keep down the power of anti-Christ, who sits on many waters Rev. xvii. 1, 15, and the power of the kings of the earth, until the whole elect should be sealed. See Rev. vii. 1-3. And that this Angel is the Mediator is evident. And now he closes up the mediatorial kingdom, when he says, Rev. x. 6, "That there should be time no longer," or, as some translate it, that there should be no longer delay, which must of course have one of two meanings--either God will no longer delay his judgment, or he will no longer wait to be gracious. See next verse, and 2 Peter iii. 9. Take either one or both positions, and it proves my object, that a part of the 45 years, the history of which we are now considering, is taken up in spreading the gospel, and bringing the last remnant into Christ's fold. "For this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world as a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come;" Matt. xxiv. 14. But the question, How long to the end of these wonders? means to the end of the reign of the beast, which the world wondered after. Rev. xiii. 3, 7th verse, "And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven." This language shows us plainly, that it is the same angel which John saw in Rev. x. i. 1-7. And the same time is indicated in Revelation as in Daniel. Here in Daniel it is in the last 45 years, and in Revelation immediately preceding the time when the mystery of God shall be finished, all that had been declared by his servants, the prophets, the whole prophecies would be accomplished. "And sware by him that liveth forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and a half." This is the same length of time given in Daniel vii. 25, which is there given as the reign of the little horn. It is also the same time which is given in Rev. xi. 2. Forty-two months, (three years and a half,) to give the holy city to be trodden under foot. Again, the same time is given, Rev. xi. 3, for the two witnesses to prophesy, clothed in sackcloth, 1260 days. Also, Rev. xii. 6, 14, for the church in the wilderness, and, again, in Rev. xiii. 5, where the anti-Christian beast had his delegated power to continue forty-two months. All these times ended in A.D. 1798, as we may hereafter show; when the 45 years began to accomplish the things which I have been attending to in this lecture. "And when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished."
This brings us down to our text, and gives us another important and conclusive sign by which we may know we live on the eve of finishing the prophecies, and on the threshold of the immortal and eternal state. Let us be wise, then, and secure an interest in the inheritance among the just, that when we fail on earth, we may be received into everlasting habitations prepared for those who love Christ.
But the last sign, "the scattering of the holy people;" a part of the perilous times. How are they to be scattered? I answer, By the errors of the anti-Christian abomination, and the lo heres and lo theres, by dividing the people of God into parties, divisions, and subdivisions. And methinks I hear you say, "Surely these things are already accomplished." Yes, you are right, in part, but not to its extent; the sects are all divided now, but not crumbled to pieces; some are subdivided, but not scattered. The time is soon coming when father will be against the son, and son against the father. Yea, the sects are all divided now. Presbyterians are divided into Old and New School, and then again into Perfectionists. Congregationalists are divided between Orthodox and Unitarian, old and new measures, Unionists, &c. Methodists are divided between Episcopal and Protestant. Baptists are divided between old and new measures, Antimasons, Campbellites, open and close communion, &c. &c. Quakers are divided between Orthodox and Hicksites; and thus might we go on and name the divisions and subdivisions of all sects who have taken Christ for their captain.
And now let me sum up in short what we have proved to you in this discourse. And first, I showed the length of time our history would take up, viz., 45 years. By the numbers given in Daniel xii. 11-13, his 1290 days, beginning when the ten kings, represented by the ten toes in Nebuchadnezzar's dream, and ten horns in Daniel's vision, should be converted to the Christian faith, and the daily sacrifice abomination taken out of the way, viz, A.D. 508, which would end us in 1798, when the Pope lost his power to reign over the kings and trample on the holy people, and the abomination of desolation ceased his civil reign, by being deprived of his civil power by Bonaparte. I then showed you that the number 1335 days, beginning at the same time as the 1290 days, viz. A.D. 508, would end in 1843, at the resurrection, for Daniel would stand in his lot at the end of these days. And you have undoubtedly noticed that this brought us to the same year that Daniel's whole number, 2300, brought us, which is forty-five years, the difference between the two numbers, 1290 and 1335. I then began at Daniel xi. 40, and gave you the history of Bonaparte, his wonderful career of conquest and power, and his final end. I then gave you the history of Michael standing up, and the reformation that followed in the years 1815, 16, 17, even down to the present time. Then the unfulfilled prophecy which must come soon upon us, the troublous times. Next we came to the time of the deliverance of the people of God, every one that sleep in the dust of the earth, and the resurrection. Then the angel gave us a few signs which would happen in the course of this time, such as the running to and fro, the increase of knowledge, the nations being restrained from preventing the gospel being preached, and scattering the power of the holy people, all which you have many of you witnessed, and can judge for yourselves whether these things are so.
I shall now leave you for the present; and may you reflect candidly and seriously on the subject; for many of you who are now on the earth may live to witness this fulfilment; and if unprepared then, with what regret will you look back on your present opportunity, and wish you had improved these precious moments for the salvation of your souls, and for the glory of God!
Be wise, O ye inhabitants of the earth, for the Lord will come and will not tarry, and the day of vengeance will overtake you as a thief in the night; "but the wise shall understand."