Receive the Truth into the Heart.
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Preface | Introduction | I | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII | VIII | IX | X | XI | XII | "Day" = year?
THE best of commentators have interpreted the prophecies of Daniel variously. It is only natural that people who read commentaries should think as variously, save that some may lose confidence in any of the proposed systems of interpretationnot to say, confidence that any reliable system can be found. Consequently a new commentary on Daniel, by whomsoever put forth, or however able, must fail to meet the previous views of all its possible readers.In the outset, therefore, let me say that in this book I dissent from some worthy critics, not through any lack of deference or respect for them, but through the force of my own convictions. I have labored upon these propheciesnot to harmonize the conflicting opinions of others; not to select the most worthy and follow them; not to meet some foregone and favorite scheme of fulfillment;but simply and only to apply what I deem just principles of interpretation, and thus arrive at the truth. I have sought to apply to these prophetic words and symbols those great principles of interpretation which legitimately determine the sense of all language. These principles, as they should apply to Daniel, I have briefly presented near the close of my General Introduction. I submit that this method of reaching the truth and this only is entitled to confidence.My earliest views of these prophecies were taken from Dr. Scott and Bishop Newtonaccepted without dissent, and indeed, without rigorous questioning. But being called (some twenty-eight years since) to the responsibility of conducting theological students through these prophecies, I was put upon a rigorous investigation of their meaning. It was in the study of the eleventh chapter that I first saw that their system palpably violated the laws of philology. It was impossible to break the bonds of connection which held the entire passage (chap. 11: 21-45) to one individual, and this one a kingthe well-known "king of the north," Antiochus Epiphanes. In chap. 8, the force of God's own interpretation compelled me to discard the Roman theory, and apply what is said of the "little horn" to Antiochus. In the same way, the interpretation given by God himself, coupled with the metes and bounds within which the fulfillment is located, constrained me to recast my former system of Dan. 7. Then the proofs of general parallelism throughout his four great prophecies attracted my attention, and being found invincible, could not be ignored. Thus through repeated investigations, renewed from time to time during twenty-five years, laboring to get the full and exact sense of all that Daniel had seen and saidlaboring also to make myself master of his stand-point of view, and to enter as fully as possible into his relations both of sympathy and of personal and public ministry for his people, the Jews; I have gradually matured the system herein presented. Each successive examination has contributed to clear up difficult points; to bring out new aspects of these visions; to suggest new views of their fitness and force; and to settle more firmly my conviction that in the main the interpretation here presented will stand the test of candid scrutiny, however searching, and approve itself as based upon sound principles of interpreting prophecy.Somewhat early in the course of these studies, a fresh impulse was given them by the appearance (1841-43) of the views of Mr. William Miller on the Second Advent. It is only on rare occasions that such a stimulus comes to quicken prophetic investigation. The student of prophecy can afford to express his obligation (on the score solely of stimulus and suggestion) to the very crude and wild sentiments but very quickening impulses of that extraordinary movement. Mr. Miller and his associates made a vigorous but not legitimate use of various errors which had been admitted into the interpretation of this book. See a brief Dissertation upon his system at the close of this volume.
These words, personal to myself, reluctantly admitted here, will show how I have reached my present views and why I hold and express them so strongly. I have made these allusions to the rise and growth of the scheme of interpreting Daniel herein presented, with no wish to influence any reader's mind, save by the force of argument, yet as a sort of apology for inviting all readers, of every shade of opinion, to give these pages a candid and careful examination.
OBERLIN O., Aug., 1867.
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