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The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4

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    CHAPTER ELEVEN: Ephecies Dominate Debates and Periodicals

    I. Campbell! te Foundei Declares for 1847 Terminus

    Before entering upon the discussion of the later periodicals which stress the prophecies, we shall note Alexander Campbell’s prophetic exposition in his books as well as in his editorials in The Millennial Harbinger.PFF4 249.1

    ALEXANDER CAMPBELL 1ALEXANDER CAMPBELL (1788-1866) was born in old Ireland. He received his education first in the academy of which his father was principal, and then at the University of Glasgow. Early impressed with the importance of religion he joined the church and prepared for the Independent Presbyterian ministry spending his day studying the Bible and classical languages. The family was influenced by the Haldence brothers, Scottish Independents, whoses accomplishments in Geneva have previously been noted, and who ware deeply interested in prophecy in relation to the second advent. (See Prophetic Faith Vol. III, pp. 439, 440.) dynamic founder of the Disciples of Christ, migrated to the United States in 1809, joining his father’s reform movement. He ultimately settled at Bethany, Virginia, where he was licensed to preach, his first sermon being delivered in a grove. By 1812 he was persuaded that immersion was necessary, and both he and his congregation were rebaptized by immersion. In 1827 he was “excluded” from fellowship with the Baptists, and organized a separate body in the South—the Disciples of Christ—declaring against all creeds and taking the Bible only as his rule of faith. 2Portrait appears on p. 250.PFF4 249.2

    In order to disseminate his opinions Campbell started the Christian Baptist in 1823, which in 1830 became The Millennial Harbinger. This he conducted under the latter title until 1863. In 1840 Campbell founded Bethany College in Virginia, and remained its president until his death. About 1830 he became an ardent believer in the imminent millennium. He began to travel more, and spread his principles northward, even penetrating Canada. Campbell published about sixty volumes, including a hymnal restricted to hymns with a Biblical basis. And he issued a translation of the New Testament in 1827, supporting the Baptist position on baptizo.PFF4 249.3

    (Left) Prophecies employed to overthrow agnostic positions of robert owen, scottish freethinker (1829), (Right) Prophecies prove papacy is antichrist, despite catholic bishop J. B. Purcell’s contentions (1839), Alexander campbell, founder of the disciples church, or christians
    Page 250
    PFF4 250

    Campbell engaged in numerous public debates—including one with William McCulla in 1823, on Christian baptism, and another in 1829 with Robert Owen, 3Owen had sought to establish a freethinking community in New Harmony, Indiana, in which all forms of religion would be barred. Scottish freethinker and deist, on the truths of Christianity. This was open to the public and attracted large audiences, and later was widely read in published form. Finally, in 1837, Campbell debated with the noted Roman Catholic archbishop J. B. Purcell on “The Infallibility of the Church of Rome.” These discussions added materially to Campbell’s growing reputation. For years this debate, in its printed form, was regarded as the best available expression of the opposing systems and a sound presentation of the Protestant viewpoint. Possessing the ardent temperament of a reformer, Campbell was characterized by personal energy and pugnacity. He was usually up at 3 A.M. pursuing his studies. Of good presence, he had a powerful and sonorous voice, and was energetic and forceful in speech. Large audiences gathered constantly to hear him.PFF4 250.1


    The debate between Campbell and Owen, on “The Evidences of Christianity,” took place in Cincinnati in April, 1829, the year following Joshua L. Wilson’s notable sermon on “The Sanctuary Cleansed,” preached in the same city. Presenting the prophecies as one of the supreme evidences of the inspiration of the Bible and the verity of the Christian faith, the morning session of April 18 ended with Campbell presenting the prophetic declaration of the place and time of Jesus the Messiah’s birth. Passing over the discussion as to where He was to be born, we find Campbell stressing the point that Christ was to come before the decay of the second temple and before the lawgiver had departed from Judah, while Rome was still in its glory. And most significant of all, He would come at the prophesied end of a definite number of years. 4Alexander Campbell, Debate on the Evidences of Christianity ... Between Robert Owen ... and Alexander Campbell, vol. 2. p. 71.PFF4 251.1


    The afternoon session opened with Campbell’s presentation of Daniel 2, extending from the “time of the Chaldean or Assyrian monarchy down to the end of time.” In this he held that the “four great pagan empires are most accurately defined.” He then adds:PFF4 251.2

    “The golden head of the image which the King saw, was avowed by Daniel to be the Chaldean dynasty—the silver shoulders was the Medo-Persian dynasty—the brazen body, the Macedonian empire—and the iron legs, the Roman empire. These were the only four empires of the Pagan world which attained to universal dominion—they all had it for a time—they were all pagan empires, and exactly delineated in this image.” 5Ibid., p. 72.PFF4 251.3

    Dating the several empires, Campbell ends Rome in A.D. 476, and shows how Christ was born in the days of the Caesars. Then he notes the subsequent efforts to build up great empires, such as the attempt by Napoleon, but which have all been aborted. 6Ibid., pp. 72, 73. See also J. J. Haley, Debates That Made History, pp. 95, 96.PFF4 252.1


    Coming to the date of Messiah’s birth, he adduces the 70 weeks as evidence, and quotes Daniel 9:24-27. Then follows this impressive statement:PFF4 252.2

    “When I have made another extract from Daniel we have all the data before us. Chap. 8:13. The question there proposed is, ‘How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?’ ‘And he said to me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.’” 7Ibid., p. 73.PFF4 252.3

    4. EXTENDS 70 WEEKS FROM 453 B.C. TO A.D. 37

    Proceeding immediately to the exposition, Campbell cites Ezekiel: “I have appointed one day for a year.” He then comments, “As we find in symbolic language one day stands for a year, we are at no loss in coming to the following conclusions” 8Ibid.—concerning the close of the 70 weeks:PFF4 252.4

    “Seven weeks make forty-nine years-sixty-two weeks make four hundred and thirty-four years-and in the middle of the week he [Christ] was to establish the New Institution; that is three and a half or four years more. From the going forth of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem to the baptism of Jesus was four hundred eighty-three years—his ministry was three and a half years, or the middle of one week; then he was cut off. And in half a week, that is, three and a half years more Christianity was sent to all nations. This completes the seventy weeks, or four hundred and ninety years of Daniel.” 9Ibid., pp. 73, 74.PFF4 252.5

    In their application to history Campbell says:PFF4 252.6

    “Now, from the birth of Jesus till the general proclamation of the gospel was about thirty-seven years—which, subtracted from four hundred and ninety, makes the nativity of Jesus four hundred and fifty-three years from the commencement of the rebuilding of Jerusalem, which occupied seven weeks, that is, forty-nine years. Daniel then fixes the time of the nativity; the commencement of the kingdom, or confirmation of the covenant.” 10Ibid., p. 74.PFF4 252.7


    However, Campbell does not end his sentence with the delimitation of the 70 weeks, but adds immediately, what is of far-reaching significance, in the light of the now somewhat similar positions by numerous other expositors on both sides of the Atlantic:PFF4 253.1

    “... and the ultimate cleansing of the sanctuary, or purgation of the Christian church from antichristian abominations. This last event was to be two thousand three hundred years from the aforesaid date. That is, from the birth of Jesus about eighteen hundred and forty-seven years.” 11Ibid.PFF4 253.2

    Having now made the connection with the 70 weeks as the first segment of the 2300 years, and with a brief definition of the predicted “cleansing of the sanctuary,” of the “purgation of the Christian church from antichristian abominations,” about A.D. 1847, Campbell returns to the 70 weeks thus:PFF4 253.3

    “But all that lies before us now is the fact that Daniel gives the whole time intervening from the rebuilding of Jerusalem, after its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar, till the birth of Jesus.” 12Ibid. It might well be noted that in Haley’s Debates That Made History, all reference to the section on the 70 weeks and the 2300 years was deliberately omitted, either as of insufficient interest or unworthy of discussion.PFF4 253.4


    Campbell then makes this unusual observation:PFF4 253.5

    “So general was the knowledge of it [the birth of Messiah], through the Septuagint version of the Jewish scripture, then read through the Roman empire, that the expectation became general, that at this time some wonderful personage was to be born, who would put the world under a new government. This singular fact shows that the prophecies concerning the time in which the Messiah should be born were so plain in the estimation of all who read them, as to preclude all doubt as to the time of the appearance of the Messiah.” 13Ibid. (On the Septuagint evidence, see Prophetic Faith, Vol. I, pp. 169-180.)PFF4 253.6

    Those who heard this famous debate declared that “Mr. Campbell’s defence of the Christian religion was overwhelming in its collusiveness.” 14W. T. Moore, Comprehensive History of the Disciples of Christ, p. 338.PFF4 253.7

    7. FOUR WORLD POWERS OF Daniel 7

    The classic Debate on the Roman Catholic Religion, January 13-21, 1837, between Alexander Campbell and Archbishop J. B. Purcell, likewise held at Cincinnati and taken down by reporters, had as its fourth proposition: “She [the Church of Rome] is the ‘Babylon’ of John, the ‘Man of Sin’ of Paul, and the Empire of the ‘Youngest Horn’ of Daniel’s Sea Monster.” 15Alexander Campbell and John B. Purcell, A Debate on the Roman Catholic Religion, pp. viii, 224. Here the prophetic exposition of Campbell rises to heights of logical clarity and convincing power seldom surpassed. The throbbing intensity and conviction can be felt even in the written report.PFF4 254.1

    In opening his remarks on this proposition, Campbell notes the effectiveness of symbols as types of ideas and how a single glance at an illustrated object will often be more effective than the perusal of an entire volume. He then plunges into the symbolism of Daniel 7. He pictures the first three savage beasts portrayed-the lion, bear, and leopard—as the tyrannical governments of Assyria, Medo-Persia, and Grecia, and the dreadful fourth monster, with ten horns, “portrays the Roman empire in those fortunes connected with the principal figure in the group.” 16Ibid., pp. 224, 225.PFF4 254.2


    Contending that the horns symbolize kingdoms, Campbell asserts that “the Roman empire was first partitioned between ten kings or states, after the irruption of the northern barbarians.” After suggesting that the three uprooted horns were the exarchate of Ravenna, the kingdom of the Lombards, and the state of one, Campbell comes to the Little Horn. Coupling (1) the prophesied uprooting of the three obstructing horns, to (2) the wearing out of the saints, and (3) the changing of times and laws, Campbell exclaims, “These three never met in any beings save in the popes of Rome.” 17Ibid., pp. 226, 227.PFF4 254.3


    As to the three and a half times, or “in all, forty-two months, or one thousand two hundred and three score days,—the product of forty-two thirties,” Campbell says:PFF4 254.4

    “Of all this, and of one day being given for a year, there is no controversy among Catholics or Protestants. The continuance of the empire of the LITTLE HORN is therefore predestined to twelve hundred and sixty years.” 18Ibid.PFF4 255.1


    Campbell then makes this clean-cut ten-point summation of the evidence, and offers this ringing challenge:PFF4 255.2

    “1. It is a beast, or empire, or power, that grew out oL the Roman beast.PFF4 255.3

    “2. It rose after the empire was divided into ten kingdoms.PFF4 255.4

    “3. It was a new and different power, sagacious and politic—with human eyes—an eloquent, persuasive, and denunciatory power.PFF4 255.5

    “4. It supplanted and displaced three of the original states of the Roman empire or of the ten kingdoms into which it was at first divided.PFF4 255.6

    “5. It assumed more than any other empire. It uttered great things and its look was more stout (daring) than its fellows.PFF4 255.7

    “6. It made war not against sinners, like other empires—it made war against saints.PFF4 255.8

    “7. It prevailed for a long time against them. It ‘wore out the saints.’PFF4 255.9

    “8. It presumed to change times and laws. How many fasts, and feasts, and saints, and new laws, and institutions has this power set up!PFF4 255.10

    “9. It had power to hold in subjection all saints, and to lord it over them for a long time.PFF4 255.11

    “10. It was to be consumed, gradually wasted as the Protestant Reformation has been wasting its power and substance for three centuries—and is yet finally, suddenly and completely to be destroyed. Can my learned opponent find all these characteristics and circumstances in any other power or empire in the history of all time!” 19Ibid., p. 227.PFF4 255.12


    Turning swiftly to the Apocalypse, Campbell marshals the evidence of pagan Rome (the dragon) giving his power, seat, throne, and authority to the Papacy, with the apostle John stressing the same number of horns and the same time period. Like various others, Campbell says the Papacy is also the beast from the earth. And the number of the beast’s name is 666—perhaps Lateinos, or He Laline Basileia (the Latin empire), citing Irenaeus. This power, Campbell avers, is the same as Daniel’s Little Horn—persecuting, bloody, borrowing its Pontifex Maximus from the pagan Rome, as well as its purgatory, priests and priestesses, and lustral water. The evidence, he insists, “requires me to identify this beast with the Roman church or with the Little Horn.” And he adds, “This definitely and clearly marks out the Roman Institution as that to which the 13th chapter of the Apocalypse and the 7th chapter of Daniel refer.” 20Ibid., pp. 228, 229.PFF4 255.13


    Then the great Harlot of Revelation 17 is discussed, with her golden cup and gaudy garments, “spiritually called Babylon, literally Papal Rome.” But this symbol, Campbell contends, is the same as Paul’s unfigurative Man of Sin, or Son of Ruin, of 2 Thessalonians 2—the literal interpretation of the symbols of Daniel and John. Its stealthy, secret growth, its concealment till the ten horn—kingdoms appeared, its exaltation of himself as a god to be worshiped, are noted—with the assumed titles of Universal Father, Holy Father, His Holiness, Sovereign Pontiff, Successor of Peter, Vicar of Christ, Lord of Lords, and Lord God the Pope. 21Ibid., pp. 229-231.PFF4 256.1

    It is seated in the church of Christ, holding to the great facts of the Christian faith but making them of none effect by its tradition. It is the Lawless One, to be consumed by the Spirit of the Lord’s mouth—the same fate as is in store for Daniel’s Little Horn. Then, summing up the Little Horn’s growth, Campbell makes this impressive portrayal—indicating his concept of A.D. 606 as the time of papal maturity:PFF4 256.2

    “He was an embryo in Paul’s time. (The mystery of iniquity doth already inwardly work.) He was an infant in the time of Victor I., 195. He was a bold and daring lad in the time of Constantine the Great. A sturdy stripling in the days of Leo I., when auricular confession came in. He was nineteen years old in the days of Justinian’s code; and a young man full twenty-one, when Boniface III. received from Phocas the title of Universal Patriarch or Pope, A.D. 606. He was twenty-five when Pepin and Charlemagne gave him political power and glory, A.D. 760: and at full prime, or at thirty-five, when Gregory the Great took the crown from the emperor Henry and gave it to Rudolphus. He had reached his grand climacteric in the days of Wickliff, and Luther gave him a mortal thrust, which introduced into his system that chronic consumption under which he has ever since lingered. But it remains for John the apostle, and last prophet of the church, to declare his last agony and final overthrow.” 22Ibid., pp. 231, 232.PFF4 256.3


    Rising to the heights of a great challenge and a matchless opportunity, he summarizes it all, including the perfect harmonization of the incriminations of Daniel, Paul, and John, and adds:PFF4 257.1

    “However gradual, for a time, the consumption and decay of her strength and glory, she will die a violent death; for all the witnesses attest that a sudden and overwhelming destruction awaits her.” 23Ibid., p. 233.PFF4 257.2

    Such, solemnly declares Campbell, is its “origin, its history, and its doom in the Old World, as sketched by the finger of God.” And he ends the proposition with this incisive challenge:PFF4 257.3

    “In the history of all time, no person will ever find any one subject in which so many—nay, all the grand characteristics of this prophetic tyranny, so clearly, literally, and harmoniously meet as in Papal Rome.” 24Ibid., p. 234. Again it should be noted that in Haley’s Debates That Made History there is likewise omission of the discussion of Proposition IV, on the prophetic aspect, as not a vital or valid part of the Protestant argument.PFF4 257.4

    The significance of this able presentation, and its representative character, deepen when it is remembered that this was more than the quiet personal meditation of an individual writer. It was a representative oral presentation before an intensely interested and mixed audience of Protestants and Catholics, in the hurly—burly of the forum platform, by the head of a growing Protestant body 25The 1936 membership of the Disciples of Christ was 1,196,315. (Religious Bodies: 1936, vol. 2, part 1.) in a classical debate with the most noted Roman Catholic archbishop of the West of the time. And that the Catholic representative’s reply was weak and evasive is equally significant. This exposition therefore assumes uncommon importance. 26That Campbell sustained his reputation is indicated by the fact that a resolution was passed at the close of a public meeting, recognizing it as one of the ablest defenses of Protestantism of the time. (Thomas W. Grafton, Alexander Campbell, Leader of the Great Reformation of the Nineteenth Century, p. 161; also W. T. Moore, op. cit., p. 339, where the action is recorded.)PFF4 257.5


    Not only in his debates, but also in his editorials through the years, we find Campbell discussing prophetic subjects, especially the millennium. He accepted articles setting forth varying views, even those of the Millerites, but he expressed his own position in no uncertain terms. (His writings on the millennium will be included in connection with the general survey of The Millennial Harbinger in the section following.)PFF4 258.1

    In these editorials he avoided setting dates, but a biographer says that “as he advanced in years he became possessed of a conviction that the year 1866 would, in some way usher in that period.” 27Thomas W. Grafton, op. cit., p. 144. But in 1862 he definitely dated the millennial reign on the basis of the 6,000-year theory (evidently 2,000 years after the birth of Christ). He reckoned it 134 years from the close of 1862 (i.e., 1996), with the new earth state introduced a thousand years later, at the resurrection, which he dates 1,133 years from 1863. 28Alexander Campbell, “The Pentateuch,” The Millennial Harbinger, July, 1862, pp.’, 320; “The First Day of the Week and the First Day of the Universe,” The Millennial Harbinser, April, 1863, p. 159.PFF4 258.2

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