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    FIXING THE DAY

    It may be expected, perhaps, that something will be said in this manual upon the days which have been named by some for the coming of the Lord. The opinion of the writer on that point is the same as it has always been, since he embraced the doctrine. He has never seen the propriety of directing attention to any particular day or month with the least degree of positiveness. The only ground for so doing, which has ever been claimed, is the fact that some of the intermediate periods,—the 70 weeks and the 1290 years, in particular,—which have already been fulfilled, are known to have run out, one on the 3rd of April, in the year of our Lord 33, the other Feb. 15, 1798; therefore it has been supposed that the grand periods would run out on the anniversary of the fulfilment of the intermediate ones. But, surely, no plausible argument could be drawn from this fact, because we know nothing, within the year, of the commencement of the grand periods; and if we did, it would be difficult to tell the day on which the anniversary of their commencement would now occur.TSAM 95.1

    The case has appeared to be like this. Some person, we will suppose, gave his note in 1823, without inserting month or day, for 500 dollars, 100 of which should be paid in ten years, 1833, and the balance in twenty years, 1843, and he saw fit to call and make the first payment on the 3rd of April, 1833. Now there might, from that circumstance, be some plausibility in expecting the payment of the balance on the 3rd of April, 1843; but still there is nothing in the terms of the note to warrant such an expectation. It may be redeemed any time in 1843. The promise, in its different forms, runs thus:—“At the time appointed the end shall be.” “When he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.” “Thou shalt stand in thy lot at the end of the days.”TSAM 96.1

    But nothing can be determined from the periods with which these promises stand connected, within the year, for these reasons: 1. We know nothing of the commencement of the seven times, or 2520 years, nor of the 1335 days, or years, only of the year in which the events took place from which they are dated; and in the case of the 2300 years, it would be presumptuous to attempt to fix even upon the month in which the decree, from which the period should be commenced, was issued, though the 1st, 5th, and other months are spoken of in the history of proceeding under the provisions of that decree. But we have no positive guide to its date nearer than “the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king;” and this, in all probability, means the 7th year from the commencement of his reign, which might not have been either at the vernal equinox, the beginning of the Jewish sacred and Persian year, nor at the autumnal equinox, the beginning of the Jewish civil year. I do not know that any historian gives any intimation of the time of the year when his reign began.TSAM 96.2

    But, by the different modes of reckoning time we are brought to a different termination; for the termination must correspond, as to the time of the year, with the reckoning; adopted in the commencement. We will try to present the idea by a diagram;—TSAM 97.1

    The lines A A and B B represent the whole period of 2300 complete years. 2300 complete years must include 457 full years before Christ, and 1843 full years after Christ; the whole period must therefore extend from the beginning of 457, B. C., to the end of 1843, A. D.,—the whole time. between the last moment of 458, B. C, and the first moment of 184421, A. D.; so that we cannot have 2300 full years during 1843, without supposing the seventh of Artaxerxes to have begun before, or with, 457, and that the decree was issued early in that year; the later the period began in 457, the farther the end of it is pushed into 1844.TSAM 97.2

    457 full years from the common date of the birth of Christ, would take us back to Tebeth, the 10th month of the Jewish sacred year, and the 4th month of the Jewish civil year, answering to a part of our December and January. 1843 full years, from the same point, would carry us down to December of 1843.TSAM 97.3

    The seventh of Artaxerxes Longimanus might run parallel with, and cover the whole of, the year 457 B. C.; it might begin before that year and run half through it, or some time during that year and run into the following year. Of that we know nothing, and of course we cannot tell in what part of the year 457 the decree was issued.TSAM 98.1

    So, also, the months of the book of Ezra being Jewish months, we can get no clue to the date of the decree from them, because we know not whether the year referred to is reckoned from the coronation of the king, from the vernal equinox, according to the Jewish sacred and Persian year, or according to the Jewish civil year; unless it be obtained by comparing the book of Esther with that of Ezra.TSAM 98.2

    In the account of the marriage of Esther, we are told that, in connection with the feast on the occasion, the king “made a release unto the provinces, and gave gifts according to the state of the king.” Esther 2:18. 31The reason for supposing Artaxerxes Longimanus to have been the husband of Esther, may be found at length in Prideaux’ Connexions. See also Dr. Clarke’s Commentary, Pref. to Esther. Her marriage was in the 10th month, in the seventh year of the king, (2:16,) answering to our Dec. and Jan. See Horne, vol. iii. p. 166. We will suppose the seventh of his reign began with or soon after the year 457 began; that he was married on the anniversary of his coronation; that the decree was issued at the time of his marriage, through the influence of the queen, as on another occasion, Nehemiah 2:6; that, two months after the marriage of Esther, Ezra started to go up from Babylon, (Ezra 7:9; 8:21, 31, 32;) and that he arrived at Jerusalem four months after he set out, (7:9,) and all in the seventh year of the king.TSAM 98.3

    C C, therefore, may represent the 2300 complete years, beginning with the seventh of Artaxerxes, early in 457 B C.TSAM 98.4

    D D represents the same period, commencing with the Jewish sacred and Persian year, in the March following.TSAM 98.5

    E E, the same period, commencing in the Jewish civil year, in September.TSAM 99.1

    Now, all the uncertainty which surrounds the commencement of the period, surrounds the termination; one must correspond with the other.TSAM 99.2

    2. We are not only unable to fix upon the commencement of the grand periods, nearer than the year, but we do not know that God will confine himself to the exact day of their termination; anywhere within the year of the exact point at which the period began, would certainly be in harmony with the fulfilment of periods in analogous cases, and may safely and properly be considered as all that we have reason to expect. The three days predicted to be the time that the Savior should be in the earth, were not fulfilled in three full days; but he arose on the third day—that is, he was crucified on Friday, and arose on Sabbath morning. It may also be considered very clear, that the “week,” or seven years, during which he was to “confirm the covenant with many,” was not fulfilled in seven full years. He commenced his ministry when he “began to be about thirty years of age,” and was “cut off”, “as is generally supposed, before the seven years had fully expired—“in the midst,” or last half,” of the week.” So in the 1260 years of Papal triumph: it commenced in March, 538, by the success of the Papal armies, according to the uniform testimony of the most careful historians, and terminated in February, 1798. The fulfilment was surprisingly exact, but not to a day. All our speculations, therefore, which attempt to determine the time of events, within the year, may be considered of questionable propriety, and doubtful utility.TSAM 99.3

    There are texts which suggest the supposition that there may be an early fulfilment of those prophecies which bring the great day to view; there are others, which intimate that it may seem to tarry. I need not refer to those texts.TSAM 99.4

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