On The 1260 Days

(From the Christian Herald, Feb., 1831, pp. 47, 48.)

We have received a letter from the Rev. S. R. Maitland, animadverting upon the letter and remarks of the Rev. J. N. Darby, which appeared in our No. for December, 1830. Although we do not wish to introduce controversy into our pages, we think it but justice towards Mr. Maitland to publish his letter, of which the following is a copy:

To the Editor of the Christian Herald.

Bishop’s Hall, near Taunton,

December 3oth, 1830.

Sir,—In your number of this month, which has only come to my hand to-day, a correspondent, who subscribes himself J. N. Darby, begins his letter with saying, “The following remarks on1 the statements of Mr. Maitland in the Morning Watch, and of R.D. in the Christian Examiner, were written in short intervals of constant occupation.”

Without wishing to trespass on your pages, with a defence of statements which I have made, or of the statements of R.D., which I have not seen, will you allow me to say that I never made any statement in the Morning Watch, having never written anything in that work? I should be sorry to suspect your correspondent unjustly, but I cannot help thinking that he knows my statements principally, if not entirely, from the Review in the Morning Watch; and with regard to the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks, only from a garbled and falsified extract contained in that Review. I am driven to this suspicion, not only by his mode of referring to my statement, which I have already noticed, but from his saying— ‘On the other hand, Mr. M. is without ground of inquiry; for if the Hebrew word shibim have no technical or conventional meaning, it would not be sevens according to the Hebrew idiom at all, but seventy; so that we must admit the conventional meaning and inquire what it is.’ If your correspondent had read my first Inquiry, he would have seen that I did admit a conventional meaning, and shewed by several references that the Misnic writers used sheba to signify the space of time between one sabbatical year and another: a fact which the Reviewer in the Morning Watch did not think proper to notice.

I do not wish, however, to intrude on your pages what is already before the public; but I should be glad to prevent or correct a mistake into which I think your readers might naturally fall; and also to beg that my statements may not be judged of either by what has been extracted in the Morning Watch, or brought forward by your correspondent.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

S. R. Maitland.

On receiving the above letter from Mr. Maitland, we sent a copy of it to Mr. Darby, that his answer might appear together with it. The following is a copy of Mr. Darby’s reply:

The principal occasion of Mr. Maitland’s letter is a mistake occasioned by an unnoticed defect of a stop (I dare say in my manuscript), which should have been supplied thus: “of Mr. Maitland; in the Morning Watch; and of R.D.”, instead of “Mr. Maitland in the Morning Watch, and of R.D.”, etc. Indeed, no one, I should have thought, could have made the mistake; for the article in the Morning Watch is written against Mr. M., and treats him with considerable slight. I had read both of Mr. M.’s pamphlets or Inquiries. It is very possible my paper (in the Christian Herald) does not take adequate notice of them; and I have not them with me now to refer to; but the principal argument and the evidence from the passage in Leviticus remain untouched. If you are disposed, I shall be glad to revert to it, as with a mind entirely open on the subject. I feel it one of great interest, and shall be very glad to receive all the light I can from Mr. M., or anyone else, there or elsewhere. R.D. was the immediate object of my paper, which occasioned the less reference to Mr. M., for whom I have really every respect, and from whom I should be very glad to learn. I should, however, confine my inquiry certainly to the scriptural sense of the word as evidence, even though I examined other things brought forward.

I am surprised Mr. M. did not see what the first passage he quotes meant; as the article in the Morning Watch (or rather articles) is not only written against him, but is accompanied by a note accounting for their refusal (as I recollect) to insert Mr. M.’s reply to themselves, so that even if I had not read Mr. M.’s books, or the Morning Watch either, I (or anyone else) must have been of a strange constitution of mind to think that article was Mr. Maitland’s.

Believe me, truly and affectionately yours,

John Nelson Darby.

Plymouth, Jan. 13, 1831.