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Accordingly, as the prophet interpreted the matter, the image which was seen furnished a representation of the world. The golden head is the empire of the Chaldæans; for we have understood that it was the first and wealthiest. The breast and the arms of silver represent the second kingdom; for Cyrus, after the Chaldæans and the Medes were conquered, conferred the empire on the Persians. In the brazen belly it is said that the third sovereignty was indicated; and we see that this was fulfilled, for Alexander took the empire from the Persians, and won the sovereignty for the Macedonians. The iron legs point to a fourth power, and that is understood of the Roman empire, which is more powerful331331 Such is clearly the meaning, but it is strangely expressed by the words “omnibus ante regnis validissimum.” than all the kingdoms which were before it. But the fact that the feet were partly of iron and partly clay, indicates that the Roman empire is to be divided, so as never to be united. This, too, has been fulfilled, for the Roman state is ruled not by one emperor but by several, and these are always quarreling among themselves, either in actual warfare or by factions. Finally, by the clay and the iron being mixed together, yet never in their substance thoroughly uniting, are shadowed forth those future mixtures of the human race which disagree among themselves, though apparently combined. For it is obvious that the Roman territory is occupied by foreign nations, or rebels, or that it has been given over to those who have surrendered themselves under an appearance332332 The text is here very uncertain and obscure. of peace. And it is also evident that barbarous nations, and especially Jews, have been commingled with our armies, cities, and provinces; and we thus behold them living among us, yet by no means agreeing to adopt our customs. And the prophets declare that these are the last times. But in the stone cut out without hands, which broke to pieces the gold, silver, brass, iron, and clay, there is a figure of Christ. For he, not born under human conditions (since he was born not of the will of man, but of the will of God), will reduce to nothing that world in which exist earthly kingdoms, and will establish another kingdom, incorruptible and everlasting, that is, the future world, which is prepared for the saints. The faith of some still hesitates about this point only, while they do not believe about things yet to come, though they are convinced of the things that are past. Daniel, then, was presented with many gifts by the king, was set over Babylon and the whole empire, and was held in the highest honor. By his influence, Annanias, Azarias, and Misael were also advanced to the highest dignity and power. About the same time, the remarkable prophecies of Ezekiel came out, the mystery of future things and of the resurrection333333 “resurrectionis,” referring probably not to the rising again of the dead, but to the restoration of the Jews. See Ezek. chap. 37. having been revealed to him. His book is one of great weight, and deserves to be read with care.
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