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The Conjuror’s Magazine

Vol 1 No 4 (November 1791) pp.110-111.

 

See foot of page for introductory notes

 

 

TO THE REV. RICHARD BEERE,

On some Passages in his Exposition of the Prophecies.

 

      SIR,

  THE true secret of expounding the Times of Scripture language is this; the expressions used signify every portion of time, according to their application to individuals, families, sects, churches, and the universe of nations.

To instance at once, and also, CARDINALLY—Daniel, speaking of the MESSIAH, says, “HE shall confirm the covenant with many, for one week; and, in the midst of the week, he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations, HE shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”

You justly observe, that “the Messiah [1], by HIMSELF AND HIS APOSTLES, for one week of years, confirmed the covenant, and, in the midst of the week; caused the sacrifice and oblation to cease, by the one great sacrifice and oblation of himself, in the fourth year of his ministry.” Then, what is become of the remaining half of this week ? I see immediately, by my canon, that as the former part of the week, calculated for Christ and his immediate personal household, was on the scale of a week of years; so the remainder, being calculated for the UNIVERSE OF NATIONS, must have the utmost possible extension: therefore, I take a week of CENTURIES; that is, three and a half times 490 years: this gives 1715 which added to 33 years, produces the æra of the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, terminating that war, in which ROME was vanquished in her last attempt to resubdue the kingdoms, who had emancipated themselves from her bondage.

  This canon will serve to reconcile you with a sensible writer, who published, in 1786, on the 1260, 1290, and 1335 days: you give these a shorter revolution; but he ends them, respectively, in 1715, 1745, and 1790, and so, actually concludes with you, in your deductions from other prophecies.

  Isaiah, who prophecies with a full view to the universe of nations, gives this ratio of calculation, which I have now brought forward: " The light of the Sun, in that day, shall be as the light of SEVEN days." Seven, being the complete number of creation, is the constant multiplier—As it was in the beginning, NOW, and EVER shall it be.

 

  Now, sir, having given you a minor canon for judgment, let me suggest to you the GREAT SOURCE of knowledge —that source to which Daniel attended and applied, and by which HE was answered—it being, previously, a constant auxiliary canon, that THE CHANNEL THROUGH WHICH A PROPHECY IS DELIVERED IS EVER IDENTICALLY THE SAME, THROUGH WHICH AN UNDERSTANDING OF IT IS TO BE DERIVED. First attend to the latter part of the 8th verse of ch. x. and 18th and 19th verses: then read the last verse of the same chapter, and the first of the xiith: now read the 5th, 6th, and 7th verses, leaving out the interpolated word one in the sixth verse, the reverse of that being exactly the canon I wish to inculcate. The verses are, “I, DANIEL, that is, I who judge by and with the Spirit of GOD, looked, and beheld, There stood OTHER TWO, the one on this side of the bank of the river, and the other on that side of the bank of the river, and said (As one, if you please) to the man in linen, who was on the waters of the river, (by its equilibrium and incessant flowing, representing Divine Truth and Wisdom), “ How long to the end of these wonders?” [E1]

This, I conceive, to be exactly your question and Mr. Levi’s.

And I HEARD the man clothed in linen, who was on the waters of the river, when HE held up his RIGHT HAND

AND HIS LEFT HAND TO HEAVEN and sware by HIM who liveth for ever, &c. Lastly, sir, if yet you do not fully understand, attend earnestly to the advice, cautions, and immediate hopes of the succeeding and concluding verses.

Your friend, B.

 

P. S. I may add something in the next Magazine, astrologically.

 

N. B. You justly single out England; but do you know the reason? As the Hebrews were the fountain of all nations, Gen. xx. 18. Jer. xlvi. 28; so the English are the reservoir. The language of the first is full of Homonyms; the last has many Synonyms—England has nothing indigenous of fruit—Canaan, every principal sort.

B.

 


[1] I add, under the description of Joseph, Gen xlix. 23; NOT under that of JUDAH, id. 8. Deut. xxxiii. 7, and last clause of the 36th, and also last clause of v.26 of Gen. xlix, already quoted.

 


Editorial Notes

General

Gilbert is responding to The Rev. Richard Beere, Rector of Sudbrooke’s, Dissertation on the 13th and 14th Verses of the 8th Chapter of Daniel; containing ... arguments, to prove that the commencement of the final restoration of the Jews, to the Holy Land, is to take place in the ensuing year, A.D. 1791 ... As also, a second epistle to the chief priests and elders of the Jews, on this subject; together with an elucidation of a former epistle to them; in answer to the objections of Mr. David Levi, relative to the accomplishment of the predictions concerning the first coming and crucifixion of the Messiah(London, 1790).  The length of this title is appropriate for a hundred page commentary on two verses of Daniel. Given that Gilbert was writing in November 1791, a chronological recalculation of Beere’s predicted date of 1791 may seem to be urgently needed, but Gilbert's alternative date is actually 1748.

 Gilbert discusses the different ways of interpreting scriptural expressions of time. His calculation methods are not always easy to follow. To make sense of one passage in the third paragraph, I have re-ordered 'three times 490 years and a half' to 'three and a half times 490 years' as the context clearly requires. Gilbert talks of a  “week of CENTURIES” but uses 490 years rather than the expected 700. The number 490 is actually derived from Daniel 9:24 – “Seventy weeks are determined... upon thy holy city”. On the 1 day = 1 year principle,  this is 70 X 7 = 490 days, and thus becomes 490 years.  490 X 3½ = 1715. This search for the key (or “canon” as Gilbert calls it)  is not unlike astrological calculations where the practitioner has to establish the subject's exact time of birth. This practice is one of the astrologer's skills - he works backwards from known events in the subject's life and knows he is on the right lines when these events line up with astrological configurations appropriate to a particular moment of birth.  This enables him to predict with confidence. The interpretation of biblical prophecies has a similarly retrospective side. If Gilbert's canon arrives at a significant year - 1748 the year "in which Rome was vanquished"- this is a sign that he has got the canon right. Isaac Newton’s wise view of the biblical prophetic books was that they were only understandable after the event, and their purpose was not to predict but to enable you to see in retrospect how God’s providence had been at work . The urgent expectation and discussion of millenarian fulfilment was widespread in the years immediately following the French Revolution, and a quick internet search will show that the chronology of Daniel continues to be recalculated, and the Last Days are always just about to happen.

 

Endnotes

[E1] Cf Daniel 12:5-6 “Then I, Daniel, [Gilbert: "that is, I who judge by and with the Spirit of GOD"] looked, and behold, There stood OTHER TWO, the one on this side of the bank of the river, and the other on that side of the bank of the river, and one said to the man clothed in linen, who was upon the waters of the river, [Gilbert: "by its equilibrium and incessant flowing, representing Divine Truth and Wisdom"],  How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?”