THE FUTURE DATES OF THIS SERIES.
Up to this point of our investigation we have been dealing exclusively with past events and past dates; that is, with fulfilled prophecy. This should be distinctly observed. We have been studying facts, not theories. In our investigation of the dates of the "seven times" and of the sanctuary cycle, we reserved for consideration in a separate group all those which are still future. Here therefore we must cross the line that divides the fulfilled from the unfulfilled; and here, losing the clear light of history, we have to complete our survey of this series of prophetic dates, guided for the most part by the comparatively dim and doubtful light of analogy. We do not, be it observed, plunge into the total obscurity which leaves no room for anything but baseless speculation; there are still facts for our consideration, facts as to the dates of the expiration of the prophetic times, and facts as to the predictions of the word of God concerning the closing events of this dispensation. We shall seek to confine ourselves chiefly to a statement of these facts, and avoid as far as possible all unwarrantable speculation as to their significance.
The dates we have now to consider are the few last of the long series, numbering many score, and extending back over eighteen centuries, which we have studied in the foregoing pages. All the previous dates in this series have brought about stages in certain definite historical movements, and the events which prophecy attaches to these future dates are mainly final stages of the same movements. The analogy of the past, from which we may judge of the future, is therefore a broad and strong one, as regards the nearer dates; and the word of prophecy throws a flood of light upon the closing events of this dispensation, which would seem to be indicated by the more remote ones. The detailed and exact order of those events is to some extent doubtful, but their nature is indisputable. When the "times of the Gentiles" close, the millennial age begins, and at the junction of these two great ages lies the glad fruition of our "blessed hope," the second coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Daniels grand prophetic outline of the future places this beyond dispute; the second advent of Christ in glory is there connected again and again with the termination of the fourth, or Roman empire, in its divided, ten-horned, Papal form. The stone cut out without hands falls upon the feet of the image, breaking them and the whole image to pieces, before it becomes a mountain and fills the whole earth. The Son of man comes with the clouds of heaven, and receives dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve Him. At the advent of the Ancient of Days, the dominion of the persecuting horn is taken away, and "the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him."
Numerous prophecies, both in the Old and the New Testaments, treat of this solemn and glorious crisis, and of that which succeeds it. The 2,520 years of the "times of the Gentiles" extend from the fall of Judahs independence up to this crisis, from which dates a new chronological period- the thousand years of the millennial age. Now, not only lie by far the greater number of the events foretold by Daniel and the prophets, and by our Lord and His apostles, as destined to intervene before His return, already taken place, but by very far the longer portion of the "times of the Gentiles" has, as we have seen, already elapsed. Measured on the lunar scale, and from the earliest date, the period expired 187 years ago, at the beginning of this era of the "time of the end"; and measured on the full solar scale, from the latest date in the captivity era, we are now within half a century of its final close. There is not therefore chronological room for any large number of future events of a critical character, nor are there many such on the scroll of prophecy. The complete fall of "Babylon the Great," the entire removal of the Mohammedan power from Syria, and the restoration to a larger extent, and in a more corporate and national sense, of the Jews to their own land,-these seem to be the principal remaining events predicted in prophecy as destined to occur before the end of the "times of the Gentiles," "the end of the indignation" against Israel, and the advent of the manifest kingdom of God on earth.
Hence the future, prior to the second advent, is a question, not of new and different historic events, but simply of fresh stages in existing and progressing movements. How many more stages are there likely to be in the fall of Babylon? How many more in the fall of Islam? How many more in the restoration of Israel? This it is not for us to say; but we may point out that only a few more dates are indicated by the chronological prophecies we are considering; so that if the system we have sought to unfold be true and scriptural, the remaining crises cannot be numerous.
Five of the dates which remain are the full solar termini of the respective prophetic periods as measured from their latest starting-points in the captivity, restoration, and bisection eras. They extend to the end of the "time of the end" -to the full close of this closing era, to the last events of this Gentile age. Grouping them according to their astronomic and historic nature and connexion, they are as follows
I. Two of the calendar termini from the two last Nebuchadnezzar starting- points of the captivity era-the years 1887 and 1898, which being only calendar are not likely to be of great importance.
II. The three full solar termini from all the three Nebuchadnezzar starting- points (that is, from the falls of Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah), the years 1917, 1923, and 1934, one of which is likely to be supremely important.
III. The two solar termini from the two latest starting-points of the sanctuary cycle, the years 1893 and 1906, likely to bring Eastern crises.
IV. The lunar closes of the supplementary periods of Daniel xii., the added thirty and forty-five years-which, measured on the lunar scale from the Omar capture of Jerusalem, run out respectively in the years 1889 and 1933.
Arranged in chronological order, the dates we have named lie, two in this decade, two in the next, and the remaining five in the early part of next century. 1887, 1889, 1893, and 1898 in this century; 1906, 1915, 1917, 1923, and 1933-4 in the next century.
We are not about to attempt any prediction of the specific events which may be expected to occur in these years of crisis in the near future, but we may point out that analogy seems to warrant the assumption that the dates which remain will bring events harmonious in character with those which have been brought by previous dates of the same series. The series, for instance, which starts with the Zedekiah destruction of Jerusalem and the burning of the temple, and which has already led us in the bisection era to the Saracenic capture of the city and conquest of the land, and in this "time of the end" to the "Universal Israelite Alliance" and the European protectorate of Northern Syria in 1860, runs out in its extended form of 1,290 lunar years in the year 1889. That year is consequently likely to witness, not a Papal crisis in western, but a Mohammedan crisis in eastern Europe, or some further and marked stage of Jewish elevation and restoration, or possibly both. It is likely to carry forward another step the cleansing of the sanctuary. This is also the case with the dates 1893 and 1906, both of which are termini of the sanctuary cycle, and have to do with Palestine, not Rome.
On the other hand, the four still future years of the series which, starting from the Babylonian overthrow of Judah, have already led us to so many stages, first in the rise and subsequently in the fall of Rome Papal, seem likely to bring fresh crises of a similar character, or further stages in that fall of Babylon the Great, whose final judgment is to be the immediate precursor of the marriage of the Lamb. Especially the three full solar termini from the three latest Nebuchadnezzar starting-points of the captivity era, are likely to prove years of solemn and terrible crisis to "Babylon the Great," and of blessed liberation and uplifting to the people of Israel, and to the true Church of God. The solar termini from earlier stages of the captivity era have already brought most momentous events, though only of the nature of preliminary stages. The solar terminus of the period of "seven times" from Shalmaneser brought the Papal overthrow connected with the French Revolution. The solar terminus of the same period from Sennacherib brought Napoleons awful wars, including the retreat from Moscow, in which an army of half a million of men perished almost as tragically as did the hosts of the Assyrian monarch of old when the angel of death passed over them.
The solar terminus of "seven times" from the captivity of Manasseh brought the final fall of the temporal power of the Papacy; but from no one of the Nebuchadnezzar starting-points has the period yet run out on the full solar scale. The years in which it will do so are the four closing ones of the series given above-1915, 1917, 1923, and 1934.
The question as to what events are likely to be brought by these future dates is a deeply interesting one, which no reader who has intelligently followed us thus far can avoid pondering, as we have pondered it, but which no one who realizes as strongly as we do the utter folly of speculation will venture to answer dogmatically. When we glance back over the many stages of fulfilment which we have indicated in the past, we feel little difficulty in anticipating the nature of the crises which may be brought by the nearer intervening dates, though they afford but slender help when we attempt to conceive the close. What is likely to be the nature of the events of these earlier dates, the four in this century, and the first in next century? In answering this question we need to remember that the symbolic language of some prophecies, and the poetical imagery of others, are too often permitted to create expectations for which, in reality, they give no ground. The final fall of the anti-Christian Roman apostasy is predicted, as we before stated, to occur in two contrasted ways: the first, a gradual consuming; the second, a sudden destruction. The latter is to take place at Christs coming, the former prior to that coming. The instrument of the latter is to be the brightness of His epiphany, the power and glory of His advent. The instruments of the previous consumption are twofold: first, a spiritual movement; and, secondly, a political one. The spirit of Gods mouth, or truth of Scripture, has been the one agency, and the hatred of the "ten horns" the other.
We have seen both these agencies at work. In the Reformation movement, and in all subsequent Protestant evangelistic movements, in the circulation of the Scripture and religious literature, we have seen the first, the spirit of Gods mouth, undermining and destroying the vitality and power of the Papacy; and in the atheistic revolution born of the revulsion from degrading superstition and of hatred to the lying pretensions of the Papacy, we have seen the second-the kingdoms of modern Europe hating and destroying the Romish Church and Papal power, and liberating themselves through vehement revolutions and bloody wars from its yoke.
These opposite agencies are probably destined to continue, each in its own way, the predicted consumption of the anti-Christian apostasy, until the last stage of the great prophetic drama arrives, the supreme crisis for which apostles and prophets and martyrs have waited, and for which the Church has watched through many a century,- until the cry is heard, "Behold, the Bridegroom cometh: go ye out to meet Him." We ought to expect, then, at the earlier of these future dates only such events as have fallen out at the previous closes of the prophetic periods; nothing supernatural, nothing unprecedented, nothing that cannot be perfectly well accounted for by second causes, nothing that will irresistibly fix the attention of the world, or even of the Church-events of a certain definite character, that cannot be overlooked or misinterpreted by those who understand the counsels of God, but which will no more disturb the wicked or arouse men from their fatal dreams of peace and safety, than did the fall of the temporal power of the Papacy in 1870. We may expect, for instance, that ultramontanism may bring down on itself, during the next few decades, even more marked and disgraceful defeats than it has hitherto sustained; that the decadence of the Papal nations will, as time advances, become more and more conspicuous, and more sharply contrasted with the advance and prosperity of Protestant ones; that priestly encroachments on the civil power will be less and less tolerated; that disestablishment and disendowment will be everywhere the order of the day; that ecclesiastical influence will wane, though true religion will increase on the one hand, and infidelity, on the other. We may expect a further dismemberment and final extinction of the Turkish power in Europe, and especially in Syria, and that probably very soon. We may expect Russia, "the king of the North," who is to figure so largely in the closing scenes, to become mightier and mightier, and to aim at possession of the Holy Land We may expect the Rabinowitch movement to grow, and similar movements to arise elsewhere, issuing in the reception of Christ by a considerable number of Jews, and in a preparation of heart in a still larger number to receive Him when He shall be revealed in glory. We may expect the fuden-hatze, which has been already so painfully conspicuous in central and southern Europe, to grow and increase, and perhaps to extend to other lands, until it lead to the voluntary exile of Jewish citizens from many countries; and we may expect that the exiles will gather in increasing numbers to Palestine.
That further and notable crises in these movements, already so far advanced, are likely to occur at the still future dates of this series, there seems little room to doubt. The light of analogy is here full and perfect; whoso is wise, and will observe the providential acts of God in the past, will understand the moral character of the events which may be anticipated between these days and the close. Their precise political nature is a matter of very secondary importance. If, for instance, in the past the idolatry and corruption of Catholic Christendom were at a certain point of time to be judged and punished by a fearful democratic revolution; if a modern Sennacherib was to be raised up to afflict the Papal nations of Europe with the scourge of war, it was comparatively unimportant that the revolution began in France, and the conquerors name was Napoleon; the number and dates of his battles, and the details of his career are little, the episode as a whole is much. So, if now we know that worldly ecclesiastical systems, the baptized heathenism of modern Europe, the idolatrous and corrupt Papal system and all Church systems which in their essential features resemble it,-if we know that all these are destined to decay and decrease in power, we do not need to discern beforehand the precise geographical or national features of the process, though it will be profoundly interesting to watch the playing out of the last acts of the great Papal drama, and to see again, as we have already seen so often in the past, the predictions of prophecy transforming themselves into the facts of history. If we know that Mohammedanism is to decay with increasing rapidity until the Ottoman empire falls to pieces, and its place in Europe and in Syria knows it no more, it little matters by what exact means the change is to be brought about. The wise will note each stage of the process and its date with exceeding interest, and will greet each one as it arrives as one greets an expected guest. But whether the next stage will come about by a Greek rising, or by some Armenian outbreak, or by some Russian aggression, it little matters. Prophetic students can possess their souls in patience, and calmly watch the unfoldings of Divine providence; they know beforehand what the end will be, and they know that God has never lacked means to accomplish His own purposes. Without pretending to predict a single stage in the process or a single incident in the drama, they foresee the character of the events to be expected, and can accurately anticipate the close, which must come in its due season.
This is true as regards the intermediate dates, while as regards the closing ones the case is somewhat different. We have watched the various acts of a long drama; the same figures have reappeared continually on the stage, their mutual relations have changed from time to time, and we expect still to see them in a few more final configurations: but then the curtain must fall on them for ever, and when next it rises we behold a glorious transformation scene. The Gentile ages have rolled away, and the Lion of the tribe of Judah reigns over a ransomed earth. The kingdoms of the image are gone, the kingdom of the mountain is come; the wild- beast empires are no more, but the Son of man and the saints have taken the kingdom. Babylon has fallen, Rome has vanished, Jerusalem shines resplendent. The sanctuary is cleansed, and Israels age-long exile is over. The martyrs are enthroned beside the great Martyr, who resisted unto blood, striving against sin; the millennial Sabbath has dawned, and Christ is King indeed, -no longer in the hearts and lives of a little flock alone, but in all the earth, and for evermore.
We cannot love Christs appearing, or long for the promised times of the restitution of all things, the glorious millennial Sabbath, without inquiring, "When shall these things be?" Nor can we, after the careful study of chronological prophecy in the light of history and astronomy, avoid the question, Which of the closing dates of this series is likely to bring the promised consummation? The inquiry is one of so interesting and important a character, that even if we were- from motives of cautious reverence, and from the desire to avoid all appearance of presumptuous speculation-to leave it aside, and close this investigation without any consideration of this supremely important point, our readers would none the less consider it each for himself. While therefore we almost shrink from dwelling on anything but the facts of past history and the statements of Bible prophecy, and while we are as unable as we are unwilling to attempt any indication of that day and that hour which no man knoweth, yet we dare not refuse, to those who have accompanied us so far in our study, any slight guidance and help which we can afford towards the formation of judicious opinion as regards the brief remainder of the "times of the Gentiles" which lie still in the future. We have no more trodden those closing stages than have our readers; we have no other means of forming correct and scriptural anticipations than have they: but in our long and careful study of the subject, we have noted some points which may have escaped their observation, unless here indicated, and we are especially anxious to guard others from a rash assumption that the last date indicated by prophecy must needs, according to this exposition of the subject, be that of the second advent. This is far from being the case. The last of the Nebuchadnezzar dates in the captivity era was by no means the most important stage in the fall of Judah; the previous one was far more so. The last Nehemiah date in the restoration era was of very inferior importance; the previous crises of that era, the two central ones, having been the most momentous. Similarly the two central dates in the Messianic era, and not the closing one, marked the times of its supreme event; so that it may well remain an open question which of the four Nebuchadnezzar dates of the series we are considering is most likely to indicate the time of the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, to establish the manifested kingdom of God on earth.
In considering this subject we must bear in mind the connexion in which these dates are given. They do not occur in the gospel of St. John, nor in the epistles of St. Paul, but in the prophecies of Daniel. Their object is to measure the duration of Gentile sovereignty in the earth up to the time of the restoration of Judahs throne-up to the time of the accession of the Son and Lord of David to the empire of the earth as Gods King on His holy hill of Zion-up to the time when the heathen shall be given Him for His inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession; when He shall reign in righteousness, and rule in judgment, and have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth; when all kings shall fall down before Him, and all nations serve Him; when men shall be truly blessed in Him, and all generations call Him blessed. Up to this great public crisis of world-wide importance the "times of the Gentiles" extend. They have not primarily to do with the hope of the Church-with the coming of the Bridegroom to take to Himself His long-loved and blood-bought bride; but the second advent has to do with both, and in whatever connexion we view it, that advent is one and the same event. We are not of the number of those who make a chronological distinction between Christs coming for His people and His coming with them, who teach that there will be a secret rapture of the Church first, and a public epiphany afterwards; we see no Scripture warrant for any such chronological distinction, though the moral distinction between the two aspects of the second advent is exceeding broad. Prophecy announces two advents only, not three. All along it has announced a first advent to suffer and to die, and a second to rule and reign; but of a third it makes no mention. Our Lord himself says that as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be; and He could hardly have used a stronger figure to imply suddenness and universality of recognition. The passage which describes the rapture of the Church speaks of a shout, and the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God; while another passage distinctly states that the event will take place in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. While, therefore, we see no authority for making chronological distinctions between separate stages of the one advent, we see, on the other hand, abundant reason in Scripture to believe that the millennial reign of Christ will not be fully established in a day or in a year. It must be remembered that He comes, not peacefully to ascend a vacant and waiting throne, welcomed by a willing people, but to dispossess a mighty usurper and to overthrow a great, rebellion, to right the accumulated wrongs of ages, and to introduce moral order and righteous government into the moral chaos created by the long domination of the prince of darkness, the god of this world, the deceiver and destroyer of men. The second coming of Christ is associated with the work, the strange, sad work, of judgment-of the judgment of apostate Christendom, as well as with the rapture of His Church and the restoration of His ancient people Israel. Like the cloud of old, bright to the Jews and dark to the Egyptians, His advent in glory has a different aspect to the Church and to the world.
"Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe . . . in that day."
There can he no stages or differing dates for an instantaneous advent, but there may be, and probably must be, many stages in the work of bringing into moral order a rebel world. Just as an interval elapses between the accession and coronation of an earthly monarch, so it may prove to be in this case; and the last of the dates in the series we are considering may mark, not the accession of the King, but rather the glad coronation after all enemies are subdued and all rebellion put down. For some years after he crossed Jordan, Joshua was engaged in conquering Canaan, before be divided to the tribes their inheritance. David was king some time before he reigned over all Israel in Jerusalem. Solomon was on the throne some years before he dedicated his glorious temple. Human thought is of course all unable to fashion to itself any conception of the progress of events after the second advent, though reason as well as revelation compel us to believe that crises of stupendous importance to Israel and to the Gentile world must succeed it. The restoration of Israel appears to be incomplete before the advent, for some of its principal stages, as it is clearly stated in Scripture, will follow and not precede that event. To what point in their restoration these final dates lead, it is not for us even to suggest; we are only careful to guard against the assumption that the last of them must needs indicate the time of the advent. On the other hand, it does seem as if one of the principal closes of the "times of the Gentiles" was to bring that supreme event, and some gleams of light there are on this sacred subject which we may do well to note.
[The mere suggestion of a date for this great event will startle some readers as presumptuous and wrong in view of our Lords own assertion, "of that day and that hour knoweth no man," and of other similar statements of Scripture. We will answer the very natural objection which is based on such passages in a later chapter, as we could not do it here without interrupting the continuity of our argument in this place; meantime we hope that our remarks here will be read without prejudice on this score, and that any weight they may appear to have may be fairly recognised, according to the precept, "Prove all things, hold fast that which is good.".]
The first nineteen or twenty years of Nebuchadnezzar, which witnessed all the stages of the fall of Judah before Babylon, were the main and terminal years of the captivity era. All that had gone before was only preparatory. The fall of the ten tribes before the Assyrian conquerors, and even the brief captivity of Manasseh, did not permanently shake the throne of Judah, or compromise the independent sovereignty of the house of David. The penumbra of the eclipse had indeed fallen on the moon, but not as yet the dark shadow. All through these years Babylon was steadily rising, and with the accession of Nebuchadnezzar, and his first campaign against Judah, reached its climax. In the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar the throne of David fell, and the independent national existence of Judah ceased until the "times of the Gentiles" should be fulfilled. Hence those nineteen years especially form the important critical era; the rubicon of history was crossed at one or other of the crises in its course. It extended from B.C. 605 to B.C. 587, and the principal crisis in it was the fall of Jehoiachin in the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar, B.C.
The corresponding terminal years after the lapse of "seven times" in full solar measure, extend from A.D. 1915 to AD. 1934. During these years then we may expect to see the full and final fall of the anti-typical "Babylon the Great"; and if that event is to answer chronologically to the culminating point of the typical Babylon, it seems probable that it will occur at one of the central dates A.D. 1917 or 1923. This Gentile age closes, as we have seen, with an era, and not with a date. Most of the critical years in that era are already passed; the first four or five of the still future dates seem to be connected with eastern and not western chronology, and are consequently scarcely likely to indicate anything connected with "Babylon the Great." For its fall we should consequently look to one of the four final dates, and for the reasons above stated apparently not to the last. Which of the remaining three stands pre-eminent above its fellows? It is impossible to say. One of them, AD. 1923, has a distinct historical pre-eminence as corresponding chronologically to the Jehoiachin overthrow of B.C. 598. Of the four campaigns of Nebuchadnezzar against Judah this was by far the most fatal; indeed, we may say it was not an overthrow, but the overthrow of the kingdom of Judah; it was emphatically the breaking up of the nation and the fall of the independent sovereignty. It was moreover the date of the captivity of the prophet Ezekiel, the date from which he uniformly reckons the visions of the remarkable series that were granted to him in Babylon and by the river of Chebar, visions of the departing and returning glory; and the question naturally occurs whether its answering year in this "time of the end" is not destined to witness the return of the glory and the re-establishment of the throne of Judah.
On the other hand, the astronomical features of this measurement of the "seven times" are not as remarkable as are those of two other measurements; that from the first of Nebuchadnezzar, and that from his final overthrow of Zedekiah. It was in the year B.C. 606 that Nebuchadnezzar first came against Judah, and carried Daniel and the Hebrew children among others captive. At this time he was acting on behalf of his father, and it was not until nearly two years later, B.C. 604, that he himself acceded to the throne. That year is consequently, properly speaking, the first of Nebuchadnezzar; and it was probably also the year in which he saw the vision of the great image, in connexion with which it was said to him, "Thou art this head of gold." This year has therefore some special claims to he considered as a very principal starting-point of the "times of the Gentiles." Measured from it the period runs out in A.D. 1917, and it is a very notable fact that a second most remarkable period also expires then. The 1,335 years of #Dan 12:12, the ne plus ultra of prophetic chronology, which is evidently eastern in character, and consequently lunar in scale, measured back from this year 1917, lead up to the great Hegira era, the starting-point of the Mohammedan calendar, the birthday of the power which has for more than twelve centuries desolated Palestine and trodden down Jerusalem. The two periods lie thus:
B.C. 604 2,520 solar years AD. 1917 A.D. 622 +1335 AD. 1917
The year 1917 is consequently doubly indicated as a final crisis date, in which the "seven times" run out, as measured from two opening events, both of which are clearly most critical in connexion with Israel, and whose dates are both absolutely certain and unquestionable. The 1,335 years measure is, as we before pointed out, the half week, or 1,260 years, plus the additional seventy-five, which in the prophecy is added in two sections of thirty and forty-five years. The passage in which these periods are announced gives no distinct indication of the events to which they lead, nor does it state whether lunar or solar years are intended. Prophecy indeed never does this; but the astronomic features of this period seem to indicate distinctly that lunar years are intended, for seventy-five years is exactly the difference between seven times lunar and seven times solar, and hence the addition of seventy-five years to the lunar measurement of the period makes it equal to the solar measurement. We have before stated that both Jewish and Mohammedan chronology are strictly lunar, and that chronological periods connected with eastern events seem to be always calculated on this scale, while those connected with western or Papal events are measured by the solar year.
The coincidence of the close of these two periods seems to answer a question which will occur to every reflective mind,- the question, Are the supplementary seventy-five years of the last verses of Daniel to be added to the latest solar terminus of the seven times? The answer is, They may be; it is possible: but it seems extremely unlikely, because of the astronomic fact just indicated. The year in which these two periods-the one of over twenty-five centuries, and the other of over thirteen centuries -run out together is astronomically a notable one. We have before met, in the course of our investigation, years such as 1848, in which several prophetic periods meet; but they were only those from more incipient starting-points, and minus the seventy-five terminal years. Here, on the contrary, we have a main starting-point, the first of Nebuchadnezzar, as our terminus a quo for the one period, and the acknowledged commencing date of the great eastern apostasy, Mohammedanism, as that of the other; and we see that the latter in its extended form meets the former, and expires with it in the future year A.D. 1917.
Thoughtful readers will weigh the facts and draw their own conclusions, asking themselves, in the light of all the chronological facts mentioned in this work, if the year B.C. 604 witnessed the rise of the typical Babylon, and its supremacy over the typical Israel, what event is the corresponding year in this time of the end likely to witness ? The fall of the antitypical Babylon-the extinction of Gentile supremacy on earth, and the restoration of Judahs throne in the person of Christ? The secret things belong to God. It is not for us to say. But there can be no question that those who live to see this year 1917 will have reached one of the most important, perhaps the most momentous, of these terminal years of crisis.
Yet we must also call attention to a further interesting fact connected with the last possible measure of this comprehensive and wonderful "seven times," that starting from the capture of Zedekiah and the burning of the temple in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar, and terminating in AD. 1934. The termination of the "times of the Gentiles" meets at this point the 1,335 lunar years, dated from the Omar capture of Jerusalem-an event more momentous in its effects on Palestine and Jerusalem than the Hegira. era of the commencement of Mohammedanism. No chronologic prophecy of Scripture indicates any date whatever beyond this year, as astronomic considerations forbid the thought that the supplementary seventy-five is to be added to these solar measures.
Here then we reach the close of this long chronological section,-of our endeavour like Daniel, to understand by books the number of the years whereof the Lord hath spoken; and here, like that holy prophet, when he was convinced that the end was close at hand, may we set our faces to the Lord our God, to seek by prayer and supplication with confession that He will fulfil His own word, and cause His face to shine once more upon His sanctuary, which has so long lain desolate, and on His people, who have so long been a reproach; that He will do as He has said, and speedily send Jesus Christ, whom the heaven must receive until the times of the restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of His holy prophets since the world began-that the times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord!
What is the result of our investigation ? Is it not a strong confirmation of our blessed hope? Is it not a conviction that we may well lift up our heads, because our redemption draweth nigh? Slowly and cautiously we have descended the long stream of time, with its turnings and windings, and confluences with many tributaries. It has flowed through broad Assyrian and Babylonian channels, through Persian plains, amid Grecian islands and Roman provinces; it has rushed in revolutionary rapids, and broadened in lacustrine empires; it has divided itself into a tenfold delta, and is moving on to mingle its waters with those of the ocean of eternal ages. We have carefully noted each chronological waymark as we passed it by, and compared its position with that assigned to it in the chart of sacred prophecy. Already we have verified nine- tenths of such waymarks; the few remaining ones lie close together on the chart, and close ahead: can we question that they will do so in the facts of history? Can we doubt that the "times of the Gentiles" are all but over? We have not been in this investigation following cunningly devised fables, nor elaborating fantastic and baseless theories; we have been studying the mutual relations of three sets of unquestionable facts: the occurrences of history and their dates, the astronomic measures of periods of time, and the sacred prophecies of the word of God. We have been studying facts written large in the book of providence, the book of nature, and the book of revelation. No sciences lend themselves less readily to the service of mere imagination or of foolish speculation than chronology, astronomy, and arithmetic; yet these are just the three that have led to these profoundly interesting and important results. History is of course less rigid, and there is room for some diversity of opinion as to the character and importance of the events it records. But will any one question the critical character of the conquests of the Assyrian and Babylonian monarchs, or of the Persian restoration decrees, in the history of the Jews? Will any one question that the fall of the western empire of old Rome, or the Hegira of Mohammedanism are great dividing lines on the page of history? Will any one question that the English or French revolutions had a momentous bearing on the fall of the Papal power in Europe, or that Carlowitz and Kainardje and the treaties of Paris and Berlin mark stages in the decay of the Ottoman empire? Is it a mere matter of opinion that the condition of the Jews has undergone a startling and marvellous change within the last century, or that the evangelization of the world has received within the same period an unprecedented impulse? Is there any uncertainty about the dates of these events, or any difficulty in calculating their chronological distance from the events of the captivity era? None of these things are obscure or doubtful; they are evident and acknowledged facts; their relation to the predictions of Scripture has long been seen and acknowledged by the most cautious and reverent students of the prophetic word; never demonstrated before, they are sufficient of themselves to prove the true scale of prophetic chronology, for the chances are of course a million to one that so many accurate correspondences as we have here indicated are not fortuitous. Not a few of these facts have been noted and explained by other observers, and placed on record even centuries ago; but as far as we know they have never before been grouped together as we have here grouped them, and their united testimony, which is strictly cumulative, seems to us to raise probable proof to the rank of demonstration and moral certainty.
In a later chapter we will endeavour to answer objections and remove the difficulties before alluded to, as sure to suggest themselves to the minds of thoughtful students.