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consisting of different parts, and of a succession of wild beasts (the common scriptural emblem of kingdoms,) varying in nature and form, the great successive empires were symbolized, and these symbols were also explained, in such a manner as to leave no room for any variety of opinion among commentators, and to render superfluous any reiterated explanation. The prophet gives an interpretation of both; so that the general significancy of the symbols, as denoting the kingdoms that in after ages were to arise in the earth, is happily neither left to conjecture nor exposed to any cavil.
The golden head of the image was expressly declared to be the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar, or that of Babylon. When the vision was revealed it existed in its prime. The God of heaven had given him a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. And wheresoever the children of men dwelt, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, God had given into his hand, and had made him ruler over them all. He was the head of gold. After him another kingdom was to arise, inferior to his, namely, the united kingdom of Persia and Media, represented by the breast and arms of silver. This kingdom was, in its order, to be succeeded by another third kingdom of brass, 6 the brass-clothed Greeks,” which was to bear rule over all the earth, denoted, in the image, by the belly and the thighs of brass, Alexander, the subverter of the Persian empire, was an universal monarch, who ruled over the whole earth, till he mourned that he had no more kingdoms to subdue. The iron legs of the image represent the iron kingdom of Rome, which extended at once over the west and the east, and which was the fourth kingdom, strong as iron, forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things; and as iron, that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces andbruise.And his feet and
THE FOUR GREAT SUCCESSIVE KINGDOMS.
toes, part of iron and part of clay, represent the kingdoms into which, subsequently still, the fourth kingdom was itself to be divided, which were part of iron and part of clay, partly strong and partly broken, and remained unmixed or separated, not cleaving together, even as iron is not mixed with clay. Dan. ii. 31–43.
The great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before Nebuchadnezzar ; and the form thereof was terrible. It represents only the order, extent, and glory, in a human view, of the kingdoms that were respectively and successively to arise upon the earth. The greatness of their power was designated ; but no intimation was given of their duration. They were to arise and prosper and fall, according to the prefigured description and order. But all their glory was finally to vanish, and all their power to cease. And bright and excellent and terrible as the image was, itrepresented only earthly kingdoms that would perish and decay. Not only was one to fall as another arose, but the image itself was smitten upon the feet that were of iron and clay, and broken in pieces by a stone that was cut without hands. Then was the iron, theclay, the brass, the silver and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer thrashing-floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them ; and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth, Dan. ii. 35.- In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all the kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever, Ibid. 44.-Such, in respect to power and permanency, shall be the kingdom of God, neither originating in, nor maintained by human influence or authority, in comparison with all worldly empires, which, when opposed to it, and finally smitten by it, shall be broken
DANIEL'S VISION OF THE FOUR KINGDOMS. 13
in pieces, and dissipated like dust, and pass away like a vision.
The whole image, from the head of gold, representing Babylon in its glory, to the feet and toes, designating the several kingdoms which form the dismembered portions of the Roman empire, is historically before us. The kingdom of God has already been set up in the days of these kingdoms; the stone, finally destined to smite the feet of the image, and that shall become a great mountain and fill the whole earth, has been cut without hands; the children of that kingdom have not, in a carnal sense, to fight; the conflict will not be between man and man for the subversion of an earthly kingdom by another ; but the kingdom shall be that of the God of heaven, and, by means best known to him, He shall set it up. The question is not now what empire shall next be established by man, but when and how the feet and toes, the last portion of the image of all earthly empires, shall be smitten. That is not resolved by the present vision, but of the fact, in whatever manner interpreted, there cannot, according to the word of God, be a doubt. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold ; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter : and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure. Dan. ii. 45.
The great outline being thus given, the next vision—the vision of a prophet, and not the dream of a king—is more full and definite, and not only introduces a new power, of another order, but specifies its origin and its character, and defines the period of its reign.
Daniel saw the future rise and fall of earthly kingdoms after another form than that of the great image, which
DANIEL'S VISION OF THE FOUR KINGDOMS.
shadowed them forth to the view of Nebuchadnezzar. The former looked to their ravages ; the latter to their glory. The prophet discerned the spirit by which they would be guided, the king saw only their outward splendour. But the consistency and aptitude of the illustration are alike adhered to in both visions.
This is the sum of the matters, as seen, and written, and told by Daniel. The four winds of heaven strove upon the great sea, and four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. Dan. vii. 2, 3. These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, or kingdoms, which shall arise out of the earth. Dan. vii. 17. The four successive kingdoms are represented to the prophet in a new and another view. They arose from the great sea, on which the four winds of heaven strove from the midst of political commotions and convulsions, when the earth is agitated by the conflicting passions of men, like the sea by the four winds of heaven. The first was the Babylonian, like a lion with eagle's wings, at that time the greatest among the nations, as these are the noblest among the beasts and birds ; but the wings were to be clipped, its tributary kingdoms were to be cut off from its body; it was to be taken from the earth, to cease from being a kingdom, or from maintaining its wonted sovereignty over the world, and no more to possess the heart of a lion, but 6 to be humbled, and subdued, and made to know its human state."* Dan. vii. 4.
The second kingdom, as in the former vision, was the Persian, which possessed the ferocity of the bear, by which it was characterised. The Babylonians conquered for the sake of aggrandizing Babylon, and, instead of slaying their vanquished enemies, led them captive, in order to people it. The Persians fought
* Sir Isaac Newton's Observations on Daniel, &c. p. 29.
for conquest; and, after its origin as a great empire, till it afterwards became enfeebled by luxury, they spared not the lives of vanquished enemies, and enslaved the people, and ravaged the countries they subdued. The beast raised itself upon one side. On the conquest of Babylon, Persia, formerly inferior to Media, attained the ascendency; and these two countries, united into one, formed the Persian empire. Its conquests extended towards the west. The beast had also three ribs in the mouth of it, between the teeth of it, and it devoured much flesh, ver. 5. Lydia, Babylon, and Egypt were gnawed by Persia ; they were subjected by it, as if held in its mouth; and they were despoiled, as if ground beneath its teeth.
The Persian empire gave place to the Grecian, or Macedonian, under Alexander the Great, who, with astonishing rapidity, subjected many diversified na tions to his sway, and whose kingdom, after his death, formed four great monarchies. It was thus like unto a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl-the identical emblem which was actually engraved on the shield of Alexander ; the beast had also four heads ; and dominion was given to it. The expedition with which Alexander the Great subdued kingdoms, as if flying over them—the subsequent subdivision of his empire, under his successors,--and the dominion which thus continued to be exercised, are too prominently and appropriately designated to require illustration. Ver. 6.
The Grecian empire was, like every other, subverted by the Roman; and an universal empire arose, such as the world had not witnessed before. The fourth beast, unto which no animal on earth is compared, was dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth : it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were