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Prophetic Expositions, vol. 2

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    THE DAILY SACRIFICE—ABOMINATION THAT MAKETH DESOLATE

    Verse 31: “And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.”PREX2 78.1

    “Arms shall stand on his part.” “Arms” signify power, military power; stand up, signifies to reign. His power, although destroyed in the west, retained its independence in the east, whither the imperial power was all transferred on the conquest of Rome by Odoacer, in 476.PREX2 78.2

    They shall pollute the sanctuary of strength.” They, the barbarians, shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, Rome. Sanctuary of strength, is a term which nowhere else occurs in the Bible. In chapter 8:11, there is a use of the term sanctuary which seems to refer to the same event here spoken of. “Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by [from him, in the margin] him the daily was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.” That the city of Rome was the sanctuary of the empire, and that paganism had found a sanctuary there long after it was abolished by Constantine, and Christianity adopted, is certain. That this sanctuary of paganism was cast down and polluted by the barbarians, is also true. First by Alaric, the Gothic king, 410; then by Attila, the Hun, 451, and by the terrible Genseric, the Vandal king, in 455. And at length the imperial power of the west died by the conquest of Rome by Odoacer, in 476.PREX2 78.3

    The account given by Gibbon of the capture of Rome by Genseric, and the depredations made by his voracious army, will best illustrate the casting down of paganism’s sanctuary and its pollution.PREX2 79.1

    “On the third day after the tumult, Genseric boldly advanced from the port of Ostia to the gates of the defenceless city. Instead of a sally of the Roman youth, there issued from the gates an unarmed and venerable procession of the bishop at the head of his clergy. The fearless spirit of Leo, his authority and eloquence, again mitigated the fierceness of a barbarian conqueror: the king of the Vandals promised to spare the unresisting multitude, to protect the buildings from fire, and to exempt the captives from torture; and although such orders were neither seriously given, nor strictly obeyed, the mediation of Leo was glorious to himself, and in some degree beneficial to his country. But Rome, and its inhabitants, were delivered to the licentiousness of the Vandals and Moors, whose blind passions revenged the injuries of Carthage. The pillage lasted fourteen days and nights; and all that yet remained of public or private wealth, of sacred or profane treasure, was diligently transported to the vessels of Genseric. Among the spoils, the splendid relics of two temples, or rather of two religions, exhibited a memorable example of the vicissitude of human and divine things. Since the abolition of Paganism, the capitol had been violated and abandoned; yet the statues of the gods and heroes were still respected, and the curious roof of gilt bronze was reserved for the rapacious hands of Genseric. The holy instruments of the Jewish worship, the gold table, and the gold candlestick with seven branches, originally framed according to the particular instructions of God himself, and which were placed in the sanctuary of his temple, had been ostentatiously displayed to the Roman people in the triumph of Titus. They were afterwards deposited in the temple of peace, and at the end of four hundred years, the spoils of Jerusalem were transferred from Rome to Carthage, by a barbarian who derived his origin from the shores of the Baltic. These ancient monuments might attract the notice of curiosity, as well as of avarice. But the Christian churches, enriched and adorned by the prevailing superstition of the times, afforded more plentiful materials for sacrilege; and the pious liberality of pope Leo, who melted six silver vases, the gift of Constantine, each of an hundred pounds weight, is an evidence of the damage which he attempted to repair. In the forty-five years that had elapsed since the Gothic invasion, the pomp and luxury of Rome were in some measure restored; and it was difficult either to escape, or to satisfy, the avarice of a conqueror who possessed leisure to collect, and ships to transport the wealth of the capital. The imperial ornaments of the palace, the magnificent furniture and wardrobe, the sideboards of massy plate, were accumulated with disorderly rapine: the gold and silver amounted to several thousand talents; yet even the brass and copper were laboriously removed. Eudoxia herself, who advanced to meet her friend and deliverer, soon bewailed the imprudence of her own conduct. She was rudely stripped of her jewels; and the unfortunate empress, with her two daughters, the only surviving remains of the great Theodosius, was compelled, as a captive, to follow the haughty Vandal; who immediately hoisted sail and returned with a prosperous navigation to the port of Carthage.”—[Gibbon, vol. VI., pp. 123-5.]PREX2 79.2

    And shall take away the daily.” What the term daily signifies, is a matter on which a diversity of opinions exists; and as it is an important word, and much depends on the meaning of it, it will receive a careful examination.PREX2 81.1

    The first instance of the occurrence of the term is in the passage already quoted, Daniel 8:11: “And from him the daily shall be taken away.” From whom? From the little horn. The little horn, as has been shown in Vol. I., is Rome, either pagan and papal, or papal alone. If the former, which the word from would seem to require us to understand, then it was the overthrow of paganism in Rome by the irruption of the Vandals. If we understand popery to be the little horn, then I would render the particle for, rather than from; “and for him the daily was taken away.” This would well accord with Paul’s view of the subject, (2 Thessalonians 2.,) where he tells us “the mystery of iniquity [paganism] doth already work; only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way, and then shall that wicked be revealed.” From this it would seem that the apostle understood that there were to be two systems which should oppose themselves to God; the one paganism, “the mystery of iniquity,“ the other popery, “that wicked;” the one working and putting to death the saints of Paul’s day, under Nero, the other to come when the first was removed to make way for him. To take away the daily for him, would be to remove it as something that hindered popery, the transgression of desolation, from gaining its power in Rome.PREX2 81.2

    Again, Daniel 8:13: “How long the vision, the daily and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and host to be trodden under foot?” Here there are two systems of abomination which were successively to tread down the sanctuary and host. The one was to be taken away for the other, to make way for it. The little horn was the transgression of desolation, the power that cast down truth to the ground, and practised and prospered; that also destroyed the mighty and the holy people.PREX2 82.1

    They shall take away the daily, refers to the ships of Chittim, or the barbarous conquerors of Rome. The foregoing account of what Genseric did in Rome, will suffice on this point.PREX2 82.2

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