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The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4

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    III. Premillennialist McCorkle of Tennessee-Ends 2300 Years in 1847

    But such an exposition was not limited to one religious group or geographical section. The Southern accent is again heard in the earnest voice of SAMUEL M. McCORKLE, 30Biographical data lacking. or M’Corkle, of Tennessee, premillennialist layman of the Disciples group, whose brother was a minister of that faith. Although not a trained clergyman, he was very well read, and a clear thinker and writer. And he gave forceful utterance to deep, Bible-based convictions, because he “dare not keep silent.” In his Thoughts on the Millennium (1830) he stoutly maintained the “almost entirely novel” idea that the Bible teaches a cataclysmic end of the age, immediately preceding the millennium—not the fondly expected gradual world betterment achieved by human endeavor, but “prodigious events and mighty revolutions.” The prophet Daniel, pointing with the finger of inspiration to events leading almost to the end of time, tells of “four distinct beasts, or kingdoms [from Babylonia onward], which should rise.” And out of the fourth an Antichristian dominion should arise whose downfall, with the millennium, 28 In the closing footnote, in the printed form, Wilson appeals to any to point out mistakes discoverable in his presentation. (Ibid., p. 309.) 30 Biographical data lacking. will bring events for which comparatively few are looking. 31Samuel M. M’Corkle, Thoughts on the Millennium, pp. iii, 5, 6. So to this he now calls attention.PFF4 237.1


    At the outset M’Corkle frankly states that the opinions he advances are not original with him, but that he is “preserving, in the main, the opinions of an ingenious and learned friend evidently William C. Davis] 32He obviously follows Davis on the dating of the 2300 years, but not on his post-millennialism, for M’Corkle is a strong premillenmalist. from going down to oblivion.” He expresses the conviction that the 2300 years, when the sanctuary will be cleansed, will expire within 17 or 18 years from the date of writing. (From 1830 that would be 1847 or 1848-Davis’ dating.) This is therefore “a subject of the greatest importance to the present generation.” 33Ibid., p. 7. (He mentions the standard four kingdoms of prophecy on p. 12.) We should all be confessing our sins, he admonishes, and searching the Bible concerning this question.PFF4 238.1

    2. 70 WEEKS END IN A.D. 33; 2300 YEARS IN 1847

    Daniel 9:24, 25 explains the vision of the 2300 year-days. The 70 weeks of years are the first 490, “cut off” from the 2300 years for the Jewish nation, alluding to Messiah’s death in the midst of the 70th week, leaving 3i/L years to A.D. 37. So 453 years of the vision were fulfilled before Christ’s birth, leaving 1847 years of the 2300 after Christ’s birth. Then, reasons M’Corkle, since Antichrist is to be destroyed at that time—after his 1260-year reign—subtract 1260 from 1847 and you have A.D. 587, about the time when John, Bishop of Constantinople, and Pelagius (II), Bishop of Rome, assumed the title of “universal Bishop,” with resultant strife between the two. 34Ibid., pp. 8, 9. In this passage he follows Davis closely, 35On Davis see pp. 212-223. and quotes him directly on the next page.PFF4 238.2

    This date (587 or 588) M’Corkle connects with the rise, amid the ten horn-kingdoms, of the Little Horn of ecclesiastical Rome, which is the same as the Man of Sin, Antichrist, the healed continuation of the political Roman Beast of Revelation 13, and the “mother of harlots.” At this time the “woman,” or visible church, flees into the wilderness for the 1260 years, and the Two Witnesses are clothed in sackcloth. If, he reasons, Antichrist’s reign began in 587, it will end in 1847, at or before which time mankind may expect “the sorest judgments.” The unfolding of this whole story, he holds, establishes our faith in inspired prophecy. 36Ibid., pp. 8-15. On the Little Horn M’Corkle quotes “Scott’s F.[amily] Bible,” one of his favorite reference works.PFF4 238.3


    A cluster of events are associated by M’Corkle: The second advent, the fall of Antichrist, the vials or plagues, the sitting of the judgment, and the beginning of the millennial kingdom. Then the blood of the saints will be avenged on Babylon. M’Corkle sharply challenges the popular idea of “being wafted into the Millennium by a gentle gale, or by the gradual and imperceptible flow of time.” No, he contends, the present dispensation will close with the “mighty crush of thrones.” And as the Jews rejected the first advent, so will the Gentiles reject the second. “The Jews fell on the stone and were broken; the stone is to fall on the Gentiles and grind them to powder.” M’Corkle twice flatly declares that the little stone has not yet smitten the image on the feet. He was a decided premillennialist. 37Ibid., pp. 15, 19, 20, 23. It is also interesting to note that he speaks of the future “midnight cry” announcing the premillennial second advent. (Ibid., p. 17.)PFF4 239.1


    M’Corkle says that Protestantism “is governed by laws in the very image” of mystical Babylon, “exercising all the power of the first beast, or government,” in connection with which he mentions the various human tests, creeds, and standards of Antichristian fabrication. The Jewish priesthood expected Christ to establish a temporal kingdom. Likewise, many modern ministerial watch men are fast asleep, and “nothing short of the midnight cry” will awaken their flocks. Protestantism has drunk from the cup of the wine of Babylon, and has been befuddled by sectarianism. And Babylon, he contends, the Mother Church, has daughter churches. His implications are quite plain. 38Ibid., pp. 21-29; cf. p. 64. As to the millennium, he sees a time of trouble before the new order of priesthood ministering in the cleansed sanctuary—the church in a new form—will evangelize the world, yet—PFF4 239.2

    “the Christian world looking forward with pleasing anticipation of a joyful millennium at hand-sailing with the gentle flow of time into a haven of sweet repose, ... [ignoring an] intervening vortex which will ingulph a large portion of the present professors of Christianity.” 39Ibid., pp. 23, 30.PFF4 240.1


    The book of Revelation is a history of the church to the end of time, M’Corkle maintains, beginning with the seven seals, which take us from the (1) introduction of Christianity, down through (2) early pagan persecutions, (3) the civil establishment of the church, (4) consequent corruptions, (5) ecclesiastical persecutions (the reign of popery), (6) the church rolled together as a scroll and removed, and finally (7) the descent of the New Jerusalem, or the millennium, which he thought is to last 360,000 or 365,000 years 40Ibid., pp. 35-41. M’Corkle makes the trumpets parallel the seals, with quite unusual applications, such as Origen as the star Wormwood, and the pope as having the key to the bottomless pit. 41Ibid., pp. 41-46, 52, 53. But he is clear that the dragon is pagan Rome, and the woman in white, clothed with the sun, is the true church—with the earth helping the woman in the Reformation. M’Corkle’s most startling statement is perhaps this: “In the 13th chapter we have the Catholic and Protestant Churches brought to view and contrasted, under a figure of two beasts.” 42Ibid.. D. 54.PFF4 240.2

    The first symbolic “beast,” or government, arises out of the sea (the Roman Church). Its seven heads are seven forms of government, and the ten horns are the ten kingdoms into which Rome was divided (this is avowedly derived from Scott); to it the pagan Roman dragon gave his “power, his seat, and great authority.” In contrast, the second beast, from the earth of Protestantism, is not blasphemous, not armed with persecution, not charged with the blood of the saints Yet it speaks as a dragon. It makes an image—through creeds, standards, and discipline, and enforces the marks of sects and parties. 43Ibid., pp. 54-57. (See his definitions of beast, sea, earth, etc., on p, 36.) As for the sectarian marks, even the name “Christian” he finds connected with the sectarian spirit. (Ibid., p. 66.) Thus M’Corkle, the Christian layman, departs sharply from the popular view. He presents a more recent interpretation, destined to develop later, that seems to flourish among American, Bible-only, antisectarian groups. This feature will be noted as it develops.PFF4 240.3


    M’Corkle sees all vials, or plagues, as in the future. This too is an innovation. The first is on the non-Catholic “earth”; the next two on the Roman church. The fifth will involve the “seat of the Beast,” or literal Rome; and the sixth the Euphrates, possibly Turkey. Revelation 17 and 18 pertain to the Catholic Church (and her daughters). For the beast, its heads and horns, he cites Scott for the standard views. Chapter 20 includes the binding of Satan, and the thrones of judgment, the literal resurrection of the martyrs, on to the final general resurrection and judgment at the end of the millennium. To him the New Jerusalem is the new, recommissioned church under the resurrected martyrs, during the millennium. This is not the heavenly state.” 44Ibid., pp. 61-72.PFF4 241.1


    A series of articles entitled “Signs of the Times,” written by M’Corkle, appeared in Alexander Campbell’s The Millennial Harbinger in 1833 and 1834. These were assembled into a ninety-page pamphlet, likewise called Signs of the Times, with a foreword by Campbell. At the very outset M’Corkle affirms: “I do firmly believe (from prophecy and ‘the signs of the times’) the world to be approaching the most eventful period, the most important crisis, ever known since time began.” 45S. M. M’Corkle, Signs of the Times, p. 2. His objective in writing is clearly stated:PFF4 241.2

    “We purpose showing from the signs of the times, from prophecy, from reason and analogy, that the present moral administration,—the dispensation committed to the Gentile church,—is drawing to a close—has become corrupt—is never to be renovated—is to go into dissolution—is to be swept with the ‘besom of destruction’—is to be rolled together like a useless scroll, with all its appendages, and laid aside, before the introduction of the Millennium, or Christ’s universal reign” 46Ibid., p. 5.PFF4 242.1

    Grievous disappointment, he adds, awaits the world. Its fate is vastly different from the glowing Utopia popularly anticipated. From this he dissents in no uncertain terms. Thus we read:PFF4 242.2

    “The syren song of peace and safety will soon be exchanged for the mighty crush of thrones, the rolling of the heavens together as a scroll, and the vials of the wrath of Almighty God, without mixture, poured out on corrupted Christianity.” 47Ibid. p, 16.PFF4 242.3

    To M’Corkle the seals portray the history of perversion in the church down to the climactic last days, when the days of Noah are repeated. The fifth, ending about 1847, is the reign of Antichrist, or the Papacy, for the 1260 years. The Papacy is likewise called the Little Horn, the Babylon of the Apocalypse, the woman in scarlet, who has made all nations drink of her intoxicating wine and whose daughter churches are all contaminated. With this is contrasted the pure woman, in white, who fled into the wilderness. But the church is not to come out again; she stands in direct antithesis to the heavenly Jerusalem which is to come down from God. Thus he attacks the prevalent postmillennialist view that the present church is to become glorified and bring in the millennium by human endeavor The kingdom of God on earth is to be introduced by the literal first resurrection of the martyrs, who will reign on earth. Nothing less than an overpowering miracle, he says, will convert the Jews. 48Ibid.PFF4 242.4


    Daniel’s out line of empires and sweeping Little Horn apostasy in the church ends with a judgment scene. This comes, he says, when the 1260 years end. Then, in Daniel 8, comes the cleansing of the sanctuary at the close of the 2300 years. Here M’Corkle repeats, insubstance, his previous outline of 1829—the 70 weeks of years, reaching to the cutting off of the Messiah in the midst of the 70th week, with the end of that last “week,” falling in A.D. 37. Then, by subtracting 37 from 490, he locates the starting point 453 years before Christ’s birth, with the remaining 1847 years of the 2300 reaching their climax in 1847. Then, by subtracting the 1260 years from their common ending in 1847, one is taken back to 587, about which time the church elected a Universal Bishop, with the Bishop of Rome reigning ever since at Rome, the acknowledged seat of Antichrist. So, he concludes, the long and bloody reign of Antichrist will end about 1847. 49Ibid., p. 66.PFF4 243.1


    Christ will come, and dominion be given Him over all peoples, nations, and languages at least a thousand years before the end of time, at the fall of Antichrist. Nothing less than a literal, visible coming will convert the Jews. This M’Corkle expands at length. Two classes will await the second advent. Those who have heard and obey the gospel will receive their reward, and those who have heard and disobeyed will be judged according to their works. But he distinguishes this from the final judgment before the “great white throne.” 50Ibid., pp. 67, 76. That, in rapid brush strokes, is M’Corkle’s outline portrayal of the prophecies. He is another in the lengthening list of expositors of the 2300 days as years, who now end them around 1843, 1844, or 1847. And his is the voice of a layman from Tennessee, a militant champion of premillennialism.PFF4 243.2

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