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The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4

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    I. Smith, of “Christian Connection,” Expounds Prophecy

    ELIAS SMITH 1ELIAS SMITH (1769-1846) was born in Connecticut. He taught school for a time, began preaching in 1790, and was ordained to the Baptist ministry in 1792. After joining the Christians, whose cause he advanced through his pioneer periodical (see p. 144), he later became a Universalist; but finally, in old age, returned to the Christian Connection. having withdrawn from the Calvinistic Baptists, became the second Christian preacher, and was an earnest, though of times eccentric, writer and editor. 2On the Christian Connection, see pages 31, 32. The beginning of the Vermont group was on this wise: Abner Jones, a country physician, was converted at a revival in 1800, was ordained by the Arminian Baptists in 1802. He and his group of followers at Lyndon, Vermont, discarded all sectarian names, calling themselves simply “Christians,” holding to freedom from creeds and tradition, with private judgment and individual interpretation as an inalienable right. (J. R. Freese, A History and Advocacy of the Christian Church, pp. 25-28; John Hayward, The Religious Creeds ... of Every Christian Denomination, pp. 15-19: see also Abner Dumont Jones, Memoir of Elder Abner Jones, p. 64.) Smith’s early interest in prophecy is evidenced by a discourse, in 1802, on Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream.PFF4 179.2

    1. STANDARD VIEW OF Daniel 2 and 7

    He held to the standard four world powers of Daniel 2 and 7, culminating with the kingdom of God. He identified the “church of Rome under the popes,” with the Little Horn of Daniel 7, also with the two-horned beast of Revelation 13, and the woman of Revelation 17 riding the beast empire; he held that all churches having government support are of the same nature as the Church of Rome, their mother. Smith’s descriptions are vivid, often phrased in incisive language, and frequently sustained by clear reasoning.PFF4 180.1


    In 1803 after his “History of Anti-Christ” ran serially in the New Hampshire Gazette, it was reprinted with additional material as No. 2 of four pamphlets called The Clergyman’s Looking-Glass. Inquasi-Biblical style Smith pictures Antichrist as embodied in the hostile power that attempted to slay the Babe of Bethlehem, and carries it on through the Jewish leaders, then the heretics who denied that Christ was God, the aspiring bishop who succeeded to the rule of Rome, and finally the persecuting state church in England, and the similar establishment in New England. The officers of Antichrist he lists as cardinals, “Archbishops, Lords Spiritual, Right Reverend Fathers in God, Metropolitans, Rectors, Reverend Clergy, Parsons, Curates, Archdeacons, Doctors of Divinity, Professors of Divinity,” etcetera. 3Elias Smith, The Clergyman’s Looking-Glass [No. II]; Being a History of ... Anti Christ, bk. 1, p. 14.PFF4 180.2

    CHAPTER 2 of book 2 starts with the rivalry between the Bishops of Rome and of Constantinople over the claim of universal bishopric. Finally this is established for the Roman Pontiff by the help of the King of France, from thenceforth “called the eldest son of the church.” Antichrist’s claim of being Christ’s vicegerent on earth was followed by persecution, with the threat of death for heretics if they did not obey-falling back for justification on the law of Moses.PFF4 180.3


    Then in chapter 11 of book 2 the great reversal of papal fortunes is portrayed, and the violence visited upon the Catholic bishops and priests of France, and which had all been predicted in the book of Revelation under the symbol of the “great Earthquake,” when the “tenth part of the city fell.” Verse 10 reads:PFF4 181.1

    “Now by the Earthquake was meant the overthrow of the kingdom of France, and the breaking that part of the kingdom of Anti-Christ; for France was considered as the tenth part of the city of Rome, that great city which ruleth over the kings of the earth.”PFF4 181.2

    And so great was the quake, says this unique popularized account, that it “shook the Bishop of Rome out of his great chair” (verse 12).PFF4 181.3

    “14. Moreover this Earthquake shook his money out of his coffers into the hands of the French General, and it even shook the Pope out of his dominion, and caused him to tremble away to Malta.PFF4 181.4

    “15. This great Earthquake also shook off the hand of the King and Queen; it also shook many of the Bishop’s heads off, and others it shook out of the government.”PFF4 181.5

    It also shook “the Altars, the Images, the wax Candles, the Court of Inquisition, and even Purgatory itself” (verse 16)! Then follows the application (verses 17 ff.) that closed the original newspaper articles: “Though Rome and France felt the most of this great Earthquake,” it was felt also by “all the countries where kings and clergymen reigned,” including the ministers of Antichrist in America—a direct thrust at the state—supported clergy in New England—who tried to make the people believe that the election of “Thomas” (Jefferson) would endanger not only Christianity but the heads of the ministers, who were really worried about their livelihood if the state support of the church should end. Thus the symbols of prophecy were used as a vehicle for political satire.PFF4 181.6


    In an 1805 discourse, The Whole World Governed by a Jew; or, The Government of the Second Adam, as King and Priest, Smith compares the prophecies of Daniel, Revelation, and Thessalonians. He sees the standard four kingdoms of Daniel, followed by the coming of Christ as the second Adam in the time of the Romans; but he looks for the fulfillment of the predicted “kingly government of Christ” in the government of the United States. 4Elias Smith, The Whole World Governed by a Jew, pp. 9, 35-41. Then he adds:PFF4 181.7

    “These three prophecies in Daniel, Revelation and Thessalonians, all refer to one thing. When we have found the accomplishment of one, we have found the accomplishment of all. By comparing these three prophecies together we may see their agreement.” 5Ibid., P. 39.PFF4 182.1

    This exposition is devoted chiefly to Rome—the fourth beast (equated with the leopard beast of Revelation 13), and with the papal Little Horn emerging from the divisions of Rome and exercising power 1260 years. When, he continues, judgment was given to the saints in the Reformation, the Protestant countries kept and exercised the dominion that they took away from the beast (defined as “a form of government, where religion is part of the constitution”). He also identifies the Little Horn with the Man of Sin, and the “Mystery of Iniquity,” or the “mystery Babylon,” called “that wicked.” Governmental enforcement of religion was introduced in America, but was discarded. Thus the tail of the beast has begun to burn here, but the body, in Europe, will burn gradually, together with “the woman or church which this beast holds up” 6Ibid., pp. 43-49, 50-56. (The prophecy in Revelation 17 “that the ten horns shall ‘hate the whore,’” he believes, was accomplished, at least in part, in the French Revolution. (Ibid., p. 71.)PFF4 182.2

    In this country the saints possess the kingdom, he adds, and the people of the saints (and those who, like Jefferson, are not saints, yet “are friendly to that government which the saints love”) shall have the greatness of the kingdom. This kingly government of Christ, or republicanism, with its principles oL “liberty, equality, unity, and peace,” he fondly hopes, will eventually spread over the Beast’s kingdom (Europe), and the whole world. The present “general shaking among almost all nations” and the political and religious earthquakes in this country, as well as the “remarkable outpouring oL God’s spirit,” are signs that “the government is now on Christ’s shoulder,” and this partial accomplishment will soon be realized in full. 7Ibid., pp. 57, 58, 70-78.PFF4 182.3

    In 1805 he also published The Day of Judgment. Among the developments outlined as predicted to precede the judgment, he names the dispersion of the Jews, the efforts of men and devils to destroy the kingdom of Christ by persecution, the falling away in the church—the reversion to heathen practices and the rise of the Man of Sin—and the signs in the heavens, these all having taken place. Other things, such as the return and conversion of the Jews, he expects in the future. 8Elias Smith, The Day of Judgment, pp. 10-13.PFF4 183.1


    Smith says the predicted falling away (2 Thessalonians 2) is from the doctrine of Christ, going back to old heathen practices. And he defines the Man of Sin as—PFF4 183.2

    “an order of men who succeeded each other in the church, each one practising wickedness under the name of religion. This means the Popes in the church of Rome. This man of sin was to shew himself that he is God.” 9Ibid., p. 11.PFF4 183.3

    Smith also calls attention here, as in his periodical The Herald of Gospel Liberty, to the signs in the heavens pointing to the nearness of the second advent. He explicitly states:PFF4 183.4

    “These things have been seen, some of them even in our day. In the year 1780, there was something remarkable seen in the sun by day, and in the moon by night. All who believed the Bible, thought this a sign of the coming of the son of man.” 10Ibid., p. 12. He also mentions the northern lights as a sign (citing Joel 2:30), being seen in New England. On The Herald of Gospel Liberty, see pp. 144-151.PFF4 183.5


    Smith uses various forms of writing. His editorial ventures are discussed in chapter 8. In 1812 he issued A New Testament Dictionary. He there defines Antichrist as not only the bishops of Rome, but as also including any spirit—in any church—that opposes Christ’s “true character, spirit, doctrine, or law,” or any system that denies the right of private judgment. In Babylon he sees the confused religion introduced after the apostolic period and the Antichristian hierarchy headed by the pope, the mother of all Antichristian principles. Its overthrow has begun, for “the pope is deprived of his territory and is in the hands of Bonaparte.” In the discussion of the prophetic Beasts, Smith lists the standard four world powers. The first beast of Revelation 13 is the “cruel government” of old Rome and its present ten kingdoms; the second beast is the “hierarchy, or ecclesiastical government” of popes and all who enforce creeds by law.PFF4 183.6

    In Hymns, Original and Selected, For the Use of Christians, compiled by Smith and his colleague Abner Jones, the emphasis is significant. One is entitled “The Last Judgment,” beginning: “He comes! He comes! to judge the world.” Another was called “The Harvest, or End of the World,” with a vivid description of the second advent. 11Elias Smith and Abner Jones, Hymns, Original and Selected, For the Use of Christian (8th ed., 1817), nos. 121, 33. And several were on the millennium, one being titled “The Thousand Years of Christ’s Reign; or the New Jubilee,” containing the rhyming lines:PFF4 184.1

    “A thousand years our souls shall dwell,
    And sing while Satan’s bound in hell.” 12Ibid., no. 338; see also no. 49. Several were on baptism by immersion, and one bore the unusual title “Your Bodies
    Are Temples of the Holy Ghost.” 13Ibid., no. 45.
    PFF4 184.2


    In his book of Sermons, Containing an Illustration of the Prophecies to Be Accomplished From the Present Time, Until the New Heavens and Earth Are Created, When All the Prophecies Will Be Fulfilled (1808), Smith asserts that prophecy provides light for this dark world. Throughout its chapters he emphasizes the increasing signs of Christ’s coming, such as scoffers, wars, distress of nations, catastrophes, famines, and pestilences. He expects at the second advent the first resurrection, that of the righteous, the destruction of the army of Gog gathered against Jerusalem, the conversion of the Jews, the destruction of the Beast—the papal Roman Government—and the kings of the earth and their armies, including the fall of Babylon. This brings the binding of Satan and the beginning of Christ’s reign of a thousand years on earth with the glorified saints. 14Elias Smith, Sermons, sermons 7, 8.PFF4 184.3

    During the millennial reign there will be peace, Smith believes, even among the beasts, and unprecedented fruitfulness of the earth. Unusual health will be general among “those who are not of the raised or changed saints.” And the knowledge of the Lord will fill the earth, and the angel of Revelation 14:6, 7 will fly. The Holy City will be built at Jerusalem, with the twelve tribes settled in Canaan, where streams of life—giving water will flow. And the nations will meet in Jerusalem each year. 15Ibid., sermons 9-12. Its pages are saturated with the return-of-the-Jews concept. At the end of the thousand years Satan will lead the nations in revolt against the Holy City, but they will be destroyed by fire. After this comes the general resurrection and the last judgment, then the destruction of the wicked in the lake of fire—the burning earth. But the new heavens and new earth will be re-created out of the ashes, as it were, of the old, the new Jerusalem will come down from heaven, and the eternal kingdom will begin. 16Ibid., sermons 13, 14, 19-22. That was the grand outline leading up to the climax and consummation of the plan of redemption, according to Smith.PFF4 185.1

    Smith emphatically rejects the hell of everlasting torment, held by most churches, contending from many Scriptural passages that the wicked will be destroyed, that they will perish, be devoured, burned up like the chaff. The soul and body of the unrepentant wicked will die, to live no more. This second death, he avers, is in opposition to eternal life. 17Ibid., sermons 15-18.PFF4 185.2

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