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could not but be conscious, that every intelligent Jew must equally feel the difficulty, which to him would doubtless bc a matter of triumph. The advocate for the divine mission of Jesus might perhaps perplex his Hebrew opponent by urging, that the desolation of Jerusalem is represented in the prophecy as succeeding the times of the Messiah, that Jerusalem has long been desolate, and therefore that the times of the Messiah must be past : but possibly he might himself be little less perplexed, if his antagonist demanded an unobjectionable explanation of the prophecy as applied to Jesus; and if he urged, that, were Jesus really the Messiah, such an explanation surely might be produced and certainly ought to be expected. The matter, worthy as it is of consideration in all ages, further appeared to me to require a peculiar degree of attention in times like the present. Whatever be the precise date of the 1260 years, we cannot be very far removed from their termination; and, whenever their termination shall arrive, we may expect to see the restoration of the Jews commence. Such being the case, it is surely a point of no small
importance, that one of the most remarkable prophecies relative to the Messiah should be clearly shewn to have been accomplished in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, or at least that all that part of it which relates to the Messiah should be shewn to have been thus accomplished. If this can be done, when the almost mathematical evidence of an accomplished numerical prophecy is considered, it may be hoped that at least one stumbling block in the way of the conversion of the Jews
1. In order that the subject may be thoroughly discussed, it will be necessary first to inquire into the proper mode of computing the seventy weeks. This must plainly be ascertained, before
any satisfactory attempt can be made at explanation.
2. The second point of inquiry will be the true dates of the different edicts of the kings of Persia in favour of the Jews ; because from some one or other of these the seventy weeks must, by the express declaration of the prophecy, be reckoned.
3. It will in the third place be expedient to examine the different interpretations which have hi
therto been brought forward. The person, who prosecutes this examination, would do well to place himself in the situation of an unconverted Jew, to raise every objection against them that he is able, and to subject every position to the most rigid scrutiny. Thus will the ground be cleared for a more consistent interprétation, if any such can be produced.
4. After these preliminary discussions, it will be highly necessary to examine the prophecy itself in the original language, in order that, in the fourth place, we may ascertain its true meaning: for it is obvious, that, until we obtain what may be esteemed a faithful translation, every attempt at exposition must be altogether fruitless.
5. When this matter is settled, it will still be adviseable to postpone all direct applicatory interpretation, until we have, in the fifth place, considered the mutual relation of the different clauses of the prophecy in the abstract. For this purpose, we must endeavour, as far as may be, to divest ourselves of all predilection for particular modes of exposition: we must endeavour to forget, that the 3
prophecy has ever been at all explained: we must study it, as we would do any portion of uninspired writing, merely that we may learn the connection of its different clauses with each other, and thus elicit the general meaning of the author : we must sift it, in short, by the ordinary rules of coniposition; and thus exhibit, in a severe scientific form, its general abstract meaning, without any regard to what may or may not be its particular application to events. By adopting such a plan, we shall effectually curb the flights of imagination; bind down any future exposition to certain established rules; and deaden at least, if not altogether annihilate, the overbearing influence of prepossession.
6. We shall now be prepared, in the sixth place, to enter upon the main object of our inquiries, an applicatory interpretation of the prophecy itself. For this the mass of preliminary matter will be found peculiarly serviceable, not to say absolutely necessary. Our interpretation will be hedged in on every side. We shall be compelled to adhere to the mode of calculation, which has been shewn to be the true one. We shall be compelled to adhere to the chronology of the dates, which has beeri duly established. We shall be compelled to avoid all those errors, which have been detected and censured in other expositions. We shall be compelled to square our interpretation by the proposed version of the prophecy, so far as that version has been proved to exhibit the genuine sense of the original. And we shall be compelled to reject all expositions of particular parts of the prophecy, which will not quadrate with its abstract mcaning as impartially ascertained according to the ordinary rules of composition. When we are thus confined on all sides, I will not indeed say, that the interpretation which we produce must be the true one; but I may certainly say, that there is at least a strong probability of its being so.
7. Yet, after every precaution, it is scarcely to be expected that our interpretation should be free from all objections : because objections doubtless may occur, which could not be guarded against in the preliminary matter however comprehensive. It will be proper therefore, in the seventh place, to consider all those objections, which may be urged