CHAPTER IINTRODUCTORY. THE DANIEL PARALLEL.
The conviction that we are living in days which have about them a character of finality deepens in the minds of thoughtful men. From the most unlikely quarters there come, ever and anon, expressions of this feeling. The grounds assigned for the sentiment or opinion differ; in some cases it is apparently without foundation; but it prevails.
It is in reality a well grounded conviction; the word of God leaves no room for doubt that we are living in the last days of this dispensation, and have well-nigh reached the close of the existing state of things. It leaves no room to doubt that a change-a change greater than any the world has ever seen-is impending. Bible readers have a clearer and deeper impression on the subject than others, though in too many cases even they would find it difficult to give any solid reason for their opinion. But students of the prophetic Scriptures have no such difficulty; to them the fact that these are in the most literal sense the last days is one capable of the fullest demonstration, a fact as clearly ascertained and as easily proved as any other fact of science.
The assertion may sound strange to some, but there is a science of chronologic prophecy-a science of recent origin, and one as yet too little studied, but one of unspeakable interest and importance.
Our desire in the following pages is to lead lovers of truth to the study of this sacred science. It is not a fashionable one in any circle. It is condemned and decried as speculative folly in some, and totally neglected in others; in others again it is pursued, but only in a desultory manner, by a few. As a rule, it is not publicly taught, even by those who understand it; and the result is that it is scarcely recognised as a science at all.
But if Science be a knowledge of facts arranged in order and explained by law, then is there beyond all question a science of chronologic prophecy; and none of the sciences so ardently studied in this nineteenth century yield results of greater practical importance. In bygone ages there was a cause why this science made little progress, a reason why it could not be understood. But this cause and this reason exist no longer; on the contrary, the time has come when the subject must and will be successfully studied and understood by many; for so it is distinctly predicted in Scripture.
When, twenty-five centuries ago, God granted to Daniel the revelations which form a large part of the material of this science, the prophet, who failed to understand especially the chronological statements embodied in the predictions given to him, asked further explanation. His request was refused, and he was informed that these predictions were not for the benefit of the then existing generations, but for that of distant future ones. He was directed in the meantime to "shut up the words, and seal the book," and informed that the meaning of the visions was "closed up and sealed" to "the time of the end"; that in that time "the wise" would understand them, though "the wicked" would never do so. "None of the wicked shall understand," it was said to him; "but the wise shall understand." #Dan 12:10.
Now it is clear that none can read a divinely sealed book until God Himself break the seal and throw open the pages. None can penetrate His sacred mysteries till He is pleased to remove the veil that covers them. Chronologic prophecy must, in the very nature of the case, be designed for the benefit of later and not of earlier generations. The prophets themselves did not always understand their own chronological predictions. When the time was near, the period short, and the language in which it was expressed simple and literal, they of course did so; but when the events were distant, the period long, and the prophecy expressed in symbolic language, we are told by the Apostle Peter that, so far from understanding, they "inquired and searched diligently . . . what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify," and that it was revealed to them "that not unto themselves, bat unto us they did minister. Hence it is evident that the treasures of chronologic prophecy were committed to earlier ages for the benefit of later ones, and especially of the latest. As the end draws near the mysterious predictions are gradually explained by their own progressive fulfilments, and the light grows stronger and clearer to the close.
The statement that not even "the wise shall understand" chronologic prophecy till "the time of the end," accounts for all the misunderstandings of earlier ages, and all the partial comprehension of later times, and is an encouragement to the study of it in these days; for that we live in "the time of the end" is plain with a moments reflection. What does the expression in Daniel "the time of the end" mean? Clearly the time of the end of the events revealed to Daniel. His prophecies foretold the events of twenty-five centuries, the existence of the Babylonian, Persian, Grecian, and Roman empires, and represent these as occupying the entire interval between the prophets own days and the day of the resurrection of the dead, and the establishment of the glorious and everlasting kingdom of God on earth. They predict that the last or Roman dominion would exist in two distinct and successive stages, contrasted in many respects, but alike in some, and especially in that they are both phases of the rule of ROME. The first, a stage in which that great city is the fountain of authority and government to an undivided empire; and the second, in which it is so, in a different way, to a tenfold commonwealth of kingdoms.
We know, that not only the three first of these great universal empires have risen, ruled, and passed away as predicted, but that the dominion of Rome pagan was in due time, as foretold, succeeded by that of Rome Papal over the ten Gothic kingdoms of modern Europe; and that this last is now in a state of decadence, its temporal rule having already come to an end sixteen years ago. [ ie 1870.] In other words, we are not only living at a distance of twenty-five centuries from the days of Daniel, but we can trace, during the course of these centuries, the fulfilment of all his predictions except the very last. The Babylonian empire occupied the time of the beginning; the rule of Persia, Greece, Rome pagan, and Rome Papal, occupied the long subsequent course of the period, and the fall of this last power must clearly mark the close of the predicted series of events. The promise that in the time of the end "the wise shall understand" must therefore, if it is ever to be fulfilled at all, be fulfilled in our days; and there is no room for an "if" as regards any of the promises of the Faithful and True Witness, the God who cannot lie. The time has come at last for the comprehension of the chronological predictions of Scripture, and all who desire to understand them may plead the promise that there shall be light on them in these days.
But let us note well to whom light on this great and glorious subject is to be granted in this "time of the end." The promise says to "the wise," and contrasts these, not with the unlearned and ignorant, but with the "wicked"; implying that the qualification required for understanding sacred prophecy is moral rather than mental. " The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom," says Job, and Solomon calls it "the beginning of wisdom." Godliness, a humble, reverential, teachable spirit, prayerful, holy meditation, and patient observation of Gods providential government of the world, would seem to be more essential qualifications for understanding prophetic revelations than mere learning or talent. "Whoso is wise, and will observe these things," says the psalmist, after enumerating many of the dealings of God with men, "even they shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord. And similarly we may say, whoso is wise, and will observe the hand of God in history, even they shall understand the meaning of sacred prophecy.
In Daniels predictions, the saints are continually contrasted with their enemies and persecutors; all through his prophecies, as well as in those of the Apostle John, these two classes are distinguished, and the context shows that they are the two classes alluded to by these expressions, "the wicked" and "the wise." The statement that none of the wicked shall understand would otherwise be superfluous, for the wicked in general neither desire nor endeavour to understand, and therefore cannot of course do so. They despise and neglect, not only the prophetic Scriptures, but the word of God as a whole: "The wicked" of these verses are preeminently the opponents and persecutors of the saints, so frequently alluded to in the earlier portions of the prophecy, and especially those of the Romish apostasy, which figures so largely in all predictions of this Gentile age. The doctors and teachers of this system do study and profess to understand Daniels predictions, and they even presume to expound them to others. This inspired statement consequently puts us on our guard against any system of prophetic interpretation which emanates from Rome. Such interpretations must needs be misunderstandings, and therefore false and misleading; for it is written, "none of the wicked shall understand."
Up to "the time of the end" the wicked and the wise alike would be in darkness on the subject; when that time arrived "the wise" would receive light, and would be led to a true comprehension of the meaning of chronologic prophecy, "the wicked" never. The moral and ecclesiastical position of these latter forbids the possibility of their understanding; the true light will arise, not among the persecutors, but among the persecuted. Hence on this subject we should lean to Protestant and not to Papal interpretations.
The numerous and wide differences of view among the students of prophecy are frequently alleged as a reason for not attempting its study. A moments thought will show that under the circumstances this difference was inevitable. The progress of all sciences is gradual, and often slow. The transition from total ignorance to perfect knowledge on any subject cannot, without a miracle, be made suddenly. This promise, that "the wise shall understand," does not contain the condition that they shall do so suddenly, or correctly and completely at once. As comprehension was not to take place till the time of the end, the dawn of true light must have been comparatively recent. What science is there that has never made a mistake or started a false theory in its early days? What science is there that has not been driven, as it grew. and developed, to modify some of its first conclusions, and to abandon some of its earlier positions? Recall the history of astronomy, the eldest of the sciences, or of biology, the youngest! Change and modification are involved in growth, nor can they be avoided until full maturity is reached. This objection is therefore simply an expression of impatience with the invariable law that there is no royal road to learning. Time must be allowed for careful and repeated observation, for study, meditation, and research; and patience must be exercised, for it may be many generations before a science is really understood and established on any solid basis.
Moreover, when human selfishness warps the judgment, and produces a strong prejudice, as it does for instance in the sciences of political and social economy, opposing theories must be expected. The science of chronologic prophecy bears strongly against three of the most numerous and influential religions communities in existence,-Romanists, Mohammedans, and Jews. How can it then be otherwise than controverted by those belonging to these communities?
If the Government publish the photographs of three notorious criminals, men guilty of high treason and murder, and, holding these in his hand, a detective address to a certain trio the accusation, "You are the men," are they likely to agree with his opinion? From the very nature of the case, differences of interpretation must exist to the end between "the wicked" and "the wise"; but the differences of the latter among themselves ought now to be daily diminishing.
As a matter of fact, much real progress has already been made by the godly and learned students of the last three centuries. Though not a few erroneous anticipations have been indulged and false maxims adopted, the main principles of the science are clearly ascertained, and it is now a question of exact application. This important study has been mainly brought into disrepute by the foolish speculations of some, who, instead of being students of prophecy, become themselves prophets, and presumptuously venture to foretell future events, instead of cautiously comparing history with the statements of Holy Writ. But a broad distinction exists between this foolish and reprehensible course, and that devout and humble study of chronologic prophecy for which we have the highest examples.
Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ began His ministry with a statement connected with chronological prophecy; a statement which showed how carefully He had pondered, and how clearly He comprehended Daniels prediction of the "seventy weeks." Mark records, as the first utterance of the ministry of Christ, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." What time was fulfilled ? The mysterious "seventy weeks" to Messiah the Prince. Peter says of this study, that we do well to take heed to it; and John says of it, "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear"- the words of the most mysterious of prophetic books,-"and keep those things that are written therein,"- the latter clause showing that prophetic study has practical bearings. Daniel, a scholar and a statesman, one of the wisest and holiest of men, gave himself earnestly, even in his old age, to the study of chronologic prophecy. He was himself a prince among prophets; and yet he disdained not, as he tells us, (#Dan 9.) to devote himself to the study of "books," and especially of the books of Jeremiah, that he might solve to his own satisfaction the chronological problem of the exact period of the termination of the Babylonish captivity. The effect of his studies was to prostrate him in prayer and supplication before God, and to secure for him an additional revelation, the most glorious that up to that time had ever been given-a revelation of the exact interval to the first advent and redeeming work of Christ.
Simeon and Anna were students of chronologic prophecy, and to their light on this subject it was owing that they were found in the temple, waiting for "the Consolation of Israel." The just and devout Simeon was rewarded with a special revelation, that "he should not die till he had seen the Lords Christ." Do these things look as if prophetic students of the God-fearing, holy living, Bible loving, soberminded sort are fools or wise? Nay, is it not an insult to the ALL-WISE to assume that it is folly for His people to study the predictions which He in His wisdom has given, and which He has sealed with this unconditional promise, that the wise shall in "the time of the end" understand them?
Twenty-five centuries of history are now casting back the light of their multiplied fulfilments on these sacred prophecies. Men require in these last days just such fresh demonstration of the inspiration of Scripture as only fulfilled prophecy can afford. Miracle is doubted or denied; the supernatural is spurned as incredible by this generation, which smiles at the idea of inspiration. But if it be so that the very things now going on in the world were distinctly predicted in Daniels day, and even the very dates of the occurrence of contemporary events indicated, who can doubt that "holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost"? Such evidence should be, and frequently is, valuable for convincing the most sceptical unbelievers; but if it only serve to root and ground the Christians in their most holy faith, and to render them proof against the attacks of infidelity, it answers no mean end. If it serve, moreover, to quicken hope and practical zeal, and to produce and preserve in the Church a body of disciples who shall be watching and waiting for Christ at His coming, it abundantly accomplishes its purpose.
What is our present chronological position, and our present duty in this matter? It may help us to understand both if we note the parallel between our own position and that of Daniel in the days of Darius the Mede.
The holy prophet had spent in Babylon the greater part of his life, as he had been there during the whole of Judahs captivity. He had risen to high estate in the land of his exile, was full of years, full of honours, and full of wisdom: but his heart remained true to the God and the land of his fathers, true to Jerusalem and the Jewish people; and his mind was consequently full of the-to him-profoundly interesting question, When would their long captivity in Babylon come to an end? He knew it must be nearly over; for though Judah still hanged her harp upon the willows and sat down and wept by the rivers of Babylon, she yet began to wipe away her tears and to lift up her head, for her redemption was drawing nigh; she had seen the great city fall, and the hand of the Persian conqueror was already resting on the pen that was to sign the blessed edict of liberation and return. The day was one of approaching crisis; a great turning point in the history of Israel was at hand, and Daniel knew it.
He had not been assured of it by an angel from heaven; he did not guess that it was so from political appearances, but he knew it as the result of study-a study of "books," as he expressly tells us. Those books included no doubt the chronicles of the kings of Israel and Judah, and it may be also the boastful records inscribed on many a Babylonian cylinder and slab. The book which he specially mentions however by name is that of the prophet Jeremiah, and the portions of that book which had principally enlightened his mind and influenced his heart, were the two chronological predictions recorded in chapters xxv. and xxix. From an earnest study and comparison of these various books the holy prophet gathered that the end of Judahs captivity was close at hand, that the dark week of bondage-a week of decades, seventy years -was well-nigh over, and that already it began to dawn towards the first day of a new "week" in the history of his people.
This glad conclusion was not however arrived at so easily as some may suppose. Daniel did not argue, "The captivity was to last seventy years; I have been now about seventy years in Babylon, so it must be nearly over." No study would have been required for such a rough, approximate conclusion as that, no meditation or prayer, no spirituality or communion with God. Daniels opinion of the crisis at which he lived was evidently the result of all these. His studies had a sanctifying and blessed effect on his mind, leading him to confession, supplication, and prayer, and securing for him an angelic visit, and a further glorious revelation.
He perceived, as he studied the predictions of Jeremiah, and the records of events which had happened when he was a child, that the captivity of his people had not been a sudden catastrophe, but a gradual process; that it had been accomplished by stages during a period of twenty years, stages as to the relative importance of which there might be some question. Taking no note of the conquests of the Assyrian monarchs, Pul, Shalmaneser, and Esarhaddon, nor of the various captivities inflicted by them on the ten tribes of Israel, nor even of the overthrow of Manasseh, king of Judah, under the last of these three monarchs, but confining his attention exclusively to the different successive campaigns of Nebuchadnezzar and his generals against Jerusalem, it was evident that a wide chronological margin-very wide as compared with the whole period of seventy years-existed, somewhere in which the initial date of the captivity must occur; but it was not exactly easy to select the precise year. The relative importance of historical events, and especially of contemporary events, is often difficult to discern. The edifice of Jewish monarchy had trembled and tottered for some time before it fell, and when it did fall, it fell in several successive crashes. Which was the critical one?
Was it the third year of Jehoiakim, B.C. 606, when Daniel had himself been brought to Babylon? or was it the following year, B.C. 605, when Judah had for the first time become thoroughly tributary to Nebuchadnezzar? or was it seven years later, B.C. 598, when in his eighth year that monarch a second time successfully attacked Judah and Jerusalem, carrying captive Jehoiachin with his treasures, and all the principal men of the kingdom? or was it yet again eleven years later still, B.C. 587, when Zedekiah, the uncle of Jehoiachin, who had been placed on the throne of Judah as a sort of Babylonian viceroy, having rebelled against his master, Nebuchadnezzar, in the nineteenth year of his reign, once more besieged and took Jerusalem? On this occasion the city was finally broken up, and Zedekiah, after seeing his sons slain before his face, and having his own eyes put out at Riblah, was carried away to languish and die in exile. Later in that same year Nebuzaradan burned the temple, razed Jerusalem to the ground, and carried off to Babylon the rest of the people. This was the last stage of the long process of the decay and fall of Jewish monarchy, and the record of it terminates with the fateful words, "so Judah was carried away out of their land."
Now here was a period of twenty years, more than a fourth part of the predicted seventy, during which the captivity had been slowly accomplished by stages! Daniel had consequently need to pray, and to study carefully, before he could discern whether the restoration of his people, and of that temple worship for which his soul yearned, were still twenty years distant, or even then close at hand. Moreover, as he pondered the expression, "seventy years, the question could hardly have failed to occur to him, What sort of years-sacred years or secular? The sacred year of the Jews was lunar, for the intervals between the feasts and tile fasts of the Levitical calendar were all strictly lunar; but they also used a longer tropical year, as did the Babylonians, while the Egyptians employed a retrograde solar one. The true length of the years intended must therefore have been a point on which Daniel reflected, and that perhaps without being able to arrive at any satisfactory conclusion, though he must have perceived that the actual duration of the captivity would vary to the extent of two years, according to the calendar employed.
As he studied, the thought, proved by the result to be a true one, could scarcely fail to be suggested to his mind, that the restoration might probably be as gradual and as much by stages as the captivity had been, and so occupy an era rather than a year. His people had not all come to Babylon at one time. Was it likely they would all leave at one time? Jerusalem and its temple had not fallen in a day, nor in a year, but by stages. The temple had been first despoiled of its treasures, and then consumed with fire eleven years later. Was its reconstruction and its rededication to be similarly interrupted? The national overthrow had been gradual; was it not likely that the national restoration would also be gradual? As he pondered, the question would arise in his mind, "If so, which will be the principal stage?" Already the first was past. Babylon the overthrower had been overthrown; the city still stood, but its power was gone. The Median monarch occupied the palace of Nebuchadnezzar, and the Persian empire had succeeded the Babylonian. This fact would greatly confirm the faith of Daniel as to the nearness of the restoration of his people, because Jeremiah had said, "This whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the Lord for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations." #Jer 25:11-12.
"Therefore all they that devour thee shall be devoured; and all thine adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity; and they that spoil thee shall be a spoil, and all that prey upon thee will I give for a prey." #Jer 30:16.
Daniels studies of chronological prophecy were at a time when one of the salient points of the Divine prediction had already been accomplished. Not only had the time run out, but one part of the thing predicted had happened. How confirmed must his faith have been, and how confident his hopes, though the restoration itself had not come! Yet there were difficulties through which he could not quite see. The promised deliverer was not yet on the throne; Cyrus was there, but he was not sole monarch, not yet in a position to make the predicted decree. Darius was the ruling monarch, and prophecy had, two hundred years before his birth, named Cyrus as the deliverer. Would Darius soon die then, and Cyrus succeed him? There was probably no immediate prospect of this, but Daniel doubted not that in some way God would make His promise good, fulfilling His own predictions, and that speedily. Cyrus would become supreme ruler, and would restore Israel, and rebuild Jerusalem. #Isa 44:26-28; #Isa 45:1-13. Knowing this, he bowed himself in confession and prayer, and in humble supplication that the promise of restoration might come to pass, even as the threats of judgment had done.
Spiritually minded and intelligent students of prophecy occupy at the close of this nineteenth century a very similar position. They too understand by books, and especially from the book of Daniel, that the end of the present state of things must be close at hand. They have studied with reverential care, not only the perfected scroll of prophecy, but also the records of Gods providential government of the world, from Daniels days to our own. They have compared history and prophecy, and the actual chronology of the one with the predicted chronology of the other. They have received immense help also through the study of a third book, one which throws a flood of light on this latter subject, as from its nature and its authorship it could not fail to do -the book of nature. Astronomy has taught them that the great chronometer provided by God for man marks off by its different revolutions years of three different lengths: one measured by the sun, one by the moon, and one by the conjoint movement of both orbs; the solar year, the lunar year. and the calendar year. They have found by research that God in His word employs in prophecy all these three years which He has caused the sun and moon to measure, and that the difference between them, small in a single year, becomes so considerable in longer periods, as to have veiled from earlier generations the accurate fulfilment of chronological prophecies.
They have observed that the great episodes of Jewish and Gentile history are measured, both actually and in prediction, by all these three different years; (First demonstrated in "The Approaching End of the Age," A work published eight years ago, and now in its tenth edition. London: Hodder and Houghton, 27, Paternoster ROW, E.C.) and this fact has thrown a flood of light on the whole subject of chronology in relation to prophecy and to history, just such light as it might have been expected that God would graciously grant in the end of the age. That light however is enjoyed as yet by few, because just as there was but one Daniel in the days of Darius the Mede, who endeavoured to understand by books "the number of the years" whereof the Lord had spoken, so there are in these analogous days few who either desire or try to comprehend the more complex chronologic prophecies, contained in Daniels own book, and in the complementary predictions of Revelation, which alone can illumine the mind on the chronology of the close of the present age.
What had directed Daniels mind to the study of prophecy at this special time? He was an old man, who might well have excused himself from any such research, on the ground that he had no time for it, and that it would make no difference to him personally whether Judah were restored or not, or when the event should take place; he, at any rate, would have to die as he had lived, in Babylon. What led him to the study? We cannot question that it was the events which were taking place around him. He had seen the Euphrates, on whose banks he had passed his days, dried up "that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared"; he had seen executed at Babylon the judgment foretold by Jeremiah; and he knew that these events were a sign that the desolations of Judah were accomplished.
Do we not occupy an analogous position? Have we not been watching the drying up of the antitypical Euphrates for many a long year? And have we not beheld the fall of the temporal power of the Papacy, if not as yet the final fall of "Babylon the Great," the apostate Church of Rome? Is it not time then for us to look into these things, and try, as Daniel did, to understand our own chronological position with regard to the approaching second and greater restoration of Israel, marking, as it will do, the end of this Gentile age?
Our desire in the following pages is to help our fellow Christians to perceive that the chronological prophecies of Scripture are not mysterious, incomprehensible, and comparatively useless portions of the word of God, but that they are, on the contrary, in these last days, clear and luminous, and of the utmost practical importance.
Our statements will be expository rather than controversial. It is high time now that prophetic students of the Protestant historic school should cease to argue about first principles, and, recognising them as established, go on to their cautious and careful application. The occurrences of the last century have thoroughly tested the firm and solid character of the foundations on which we build; there is no need any longer to question their stability. The multiplied and ever-multiplying proofs of this set the question practically at rest. Protestant students of the last three hundred years have been following the right tracks. Their mistakes have been only " way marks in the progress of the Church from that entire ignorance of the times, in which she was purposely left, in the apostolic age, to the full and certain knowledge that the Bridegroom is at hand, which shall prepare her, like the wise virgins, to enter in with her Lord to the marriage feast."
Here therefore we take for granted, what has been abundantly proved by many godly and learned writers, and what we have ourselves also in a former work demonstrated, and assume the following conclusions:
1. That in symbolic prophecy a "day" is the symbol of a year, and a "time" of 360 years.
2. That Daniels prophetic visions of the fourfold metallic image and of the four beasts have been fulfilled in the histories of the Babylonian, Persian, Grecian, and Roman empires.
3. That "Babylon the Great" in #Rev 17. is the Roman Catholic Church.
4. That the little horn of Daniel vii. represents the Papal dynasty, and the little horn of chapter viii. is, as to its final form, the Mohammedan power,-the one arising out of the Roman empire, and ruling in western Europe; the other arising out of one of the divisions of the Greek empire, and ruling in eastern Europe and in Asia.
To those who recognise these axiomatic truths the following pages will, we feel confident, prove both interesting and edifying. They present in a systematic, concise, and detached form many of the chronological facts first published in our former work, " The Approaching End of the Age," (Also the writings of Sir Isaac Newton, Bishop Newton, Elliott, Bickersteth, Birks, etc.; especially "Elements of Scripture Prophecy," by the last.) with the addition of many new and most important particulars; and they will, we trust, help the "wise" to understand better the nature of the times in which we live, so as to realize more clearly our present prospects, privileges, and duties.
Those who have not received the above foundation principles of prophetic science, may nevertheless be interested by the chronological facts here marshalled in order, according to a clue afforded by Scripture. But for a discussion of the principles underlying the historic interpretation, we would earnestly refer such to parts ii. and iii. of the work above alluded to, which treat of these questions, or to other works of a similar character.
Our hope is that, in this time of the end, large numbers of Christians, who have received without personal investigation futurist views, may be led to examine at any rate the opposite historic system, to prove all things, and hold fast that which is good.
To trace the hand of God in history, to note how all the ages of His providential government have moved according to a foreseen and foretold order, to watch the last stages of the Divine programme of universal history fulfilling themselves in our sight in these last days, to discern "the signs of the times," and to observe the budding of the fig tree, is to find hope merging in definite expectation, and in patient waiting for Christ-a waiting for Him as for one whose footfall may be already heard, one who even now standeth at the door; it is to lift up our heads, convinced that our redemption, our full redemption, the redemption of the body, and of the world itself, draweth nigh.