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Lecture Sixty-Third

We yesterday commenced an explanation of the prophecy, in which the angel begins to treat of the Roman Empire. I then shewed the impossibility of applying any other exposition to the passage, as it would have been absurd to pass by the point most necessary to be known. At the very beginning, we stated that God did not inform Daniel of other occurrences for the purpose of pandering to the foolish and vain curiosity of the many, but to fortify his servants, and to prevent their falling away in the midst of these most grievous contests. But after the death of Antiochus, we know by what various and grievous machinations Satan had endeavored to overthrow the faith of all the pious. For this reason their courage required propping up. If the whole of this period had been passed over in silence, God would have appeared to have neglected his servants. Therefore either our yesterday’s subject of comment would have been useless, or else this clause ought to be added, lest the prophecy should appear either defective or mutilated. And we previously observed, while the angel was predicting future changes, there was no omission of the Roman Empire, which is again introduced here. Let us remember, then, that the angel is not now speaking of Antiochus, nor does he make a leap forwards to Antichrist, as some think, but he means a perpetual series. Thus the faithful would be prepared for all assaults which might be made upon their faith, if this rampart had not been interposed. The remainder of the verse now remains to be explained, Even to the end of the wrath, because the decision has been made The angel had narrated the perverseness of this king in not sparing the living God, but in darting his calumnies against him. He now adds, He shall prosper even to the end of the wrath The angel doubtless here meets the next trial which might utterly overwhelm the faithful, unless they hoped for some termination to it. By wrath he does not mean the rage of those who were sent as proconsuls into Asia and the East, or even the bitterness and rigor of the Roman people and Senate, but the word refers to God. We must remember, then, what I have previously impressed, namely, the sons of God are called upon to examine their faults, to humble themselves before God, without either murmuring or complaining when chastised by his rods. We know how impatient human nature is in bearing adversity, and how grudgingly men submit to the cross, not only stubbornly refusing it, but openly rebelling against God. Hence those who are oppressed by his hand are always outrageous, unless he displays himself as their judge. The angel then here presents us with a reason why God did not rashly expose his Church to the lust of the impious; he only wished to exact the punishment due to their sins; and judgment ought always to begin at the house of God, as we learn from another prophet. (Isaiah 10:12; Jeremiah 25:29; 1 Peter 4:17.)

The conclusion, then, the angel, in the first place, exhorts the pious to repentance, and shews them how deservedly God laid his hand upon them, because it was absolutely necessary. He then mitigates what would otherwise have been too severe, by adding, till the end, or completion. The word signifies both consumption and end, but it here means end, or completion. The explanation next follows, since the determination, or decision, has been made, says he. This means, God will not pursue his children to extremities without moderation, but will bring their punishment to an end after they have been humbled. As we read in the 40th chapter of Isaiah, the time of their warfare was completed, when God pitied his Church, and freed it from the tyranny of its enemies. (Isaiah 40:2.) Isaiah there speaks in the person of God; the Church had received double, meaning, sufficient punishment had been exacted. It almost implies his being displeased with himself for having been too severe against his Church, as we are familiar with the indulgence with which he usually treated his children. He says, then, in this passage, Even to the end of the wrath; meaning, the punishment should be but temporary, as God had prescribed a certain termination which should put an end to all their troubles and anxieties. It follows: —

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