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The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4

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    II. Mexican Magistrate’s Remarkable Time—prophecy Interpretation

    Dr. Jose Maria Gutierrez de Rozas (1769-1848), one of Mexico’s distinguished jurists, was trained at the Seminary College in Mexico, serving for a time in different teaching capacities. After a brilliant scholarship record at law school, he passed his lawyer’s examination in 1791, and in 1824 2In 1824 De Rozas is first listed in the College of Lawyers’ roster as an Honorary Minister and Interne; in 1837, as duly Accredited Minister of the Supreme Tribunal of War and Navy; and 1839 and 1840, as Magistrate of the Superior Tribunal of the Federal District of Mexico. (Lista de los Individuos Matriculados en el llustre y National Colegio de Abogados de Mexico, for the years named.) became a member of the Mexican Colegio de Abogados (Lawyer’s College or Guild). He practiced in both the civil and criminal divisions of the Territorial Court of Mexico, and was knighted by the King of Spain in 1803. He was also appointed consultant to the Infante Don Pedro.PFF4 301.2

    Significantly enough, in 1804 De Rozas was made defense attorney for the prisoners of the tribunal of the Inquisition, and in 1816 was appointed fiscal lawyer of the Inquisition’s finance department. In 1814 he was also made director of the important Monte Pio de Ainimas, a large national institution. And beginning in 1820 he was Regidor and Custodian of Minors, and in 1821 became a member of the Court of Mexico.PFF4 302.1

    After the fall of the Inquisition, De Rozas held an honored place in the court of Emperor Iturbide, and was decorated with the cross of the Imperial Order of Guadalupe. In 1837, just after Texas broke away from the Mexican domain, he became minister of the Supreme Tribunal of War and Navy, and in 1839 was made judge of the Supreme Court of the Federal District. He died in 1848, the very year of his defense of Lacunza. 3Biographical data based upon the collaborative research of Charles R. Taylor in the Archives of the Department of National Defense and Archivo General de la Nacidn, as well as the Supreme Court of the Federal District, the Cathedral and Metropolitan Church files, the National Museum, and the National Economics Library, all of Mexico City. Photostats in Advent Source Collection. So it was evidently as defense counsel for the so-called heretic prisoners of the Inquisition that he became familiar with dissentient literature, which evidently interested him in Scripture study. The twenty-volume De Vence Bible, with its extended “Dissertation on the Scriptures” in the first volume, may have started him on the study of prophecy, and prepared his interest for the study of Lacunza on the second advent.PFF4 302.2


    In 1834 De Rozas wrote with remarkable clarity and at considerable length on the imminent second advent of Christ and the approaching end of the age, as disclosed through prophecy. Although an avowed Roman Catholic, as late as 1848 he published a treatise entitled Disertaciones Critico-Teologicas Sobre las Doctrinas de Juan Josafat Ben-Ezra (Critical Theological Dissertations on the Doctrines of Juan Josafat Ben-Ezra), 4Original in the Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, California. that is, Manuel Lacunza. This he wrote under the pseudonym, “A Mexican Theologian.” In this sixty-eight-page work, De Rozas makes vigorous defense of Lacunza’s fundamental thesis on the imminence of the second advent of Christ in glory and majesty which called for much courage. In this De Rozas contended that Lacunza was a good Catholic, that he was simply misunderstood, and that his treatise should not have been put on the Roman Index Prohibitorum. 5De Rozas supported Lacunza’s proposition of following a literal interpretation of Scripture in every case where it is not obviously a symbol (pp. 18-20), and held that a literal interpretation is needed as the foundation for any allegorical exposition or spiritual interpretation (pp. 22, 23). He declared Lacunza did not violate the accepted teachings of the Fathers, since the Fathers were not all in agreement (p_. 38). He upheld Lacunza’s charge that there is an almost total forgetting of study of Scripture among the priests (pp. 47-49), and approved the former’s comparison of the Jewish priests’ mistaking Christ’s first advent, as Catholic priests were now mistaking His second advent (pp. 59-63). Lacunza also believed Antichrist to be, not an individual, but a moral body of men, quoting with approval printed at least twice in Mexico.PFF4 303.1

    This study of Lacunza’s work was probably the occasion for De Rozas’ interest in the advent. But his own extensive nineteenth-century venture into the time prophecies of Daniel finds no parallel in Spanish-speaking America, or in Catholic Europe for that matter. It is unique, and quite noteworthy. De Rozas’ main theological contribution, however, was written fourteen years prior, in 1833-1834, when active as a jurist, and was published in 1835 at Toluca, Mexico. It was a treatise of 235 pages, entitled Consulta a los Sabios, Sobre la Aprocsimacion de la Segunda Venida de Nuestro Senor Jesucristo (Consultation With the Wise Men About the Nearness of the Second Coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ). 6Originals in University of Monterrey Library, Mexico, and in New York Public Library. The title page simply states it to be “by a Mexican Magistrate.” But in an approving foreword (dated October 23, 1834), by a friar of the Carmelite Convent of Mexico City, assigned to report on it, the author is identified as “Magistrado Rozas.” And he is later also spoken of as a “theologue.” Unfortunately, only meager biographical data is thus far available. Hence we do not yet know the occasion for his interest and activity in the field of prophetic interpretation.PFF4 303.2


    Commending the study of prophecy, De Rozas avers at the outset that the Jews failed to recognize Christ as Messiah because they were “careless” in regard to the signs of the times and the prophecies and in “computing the weeks of Daniel,” for which neglect Christ reproached them. 7Translated from Jose de Rozas, Consult a a los Sabios, Sobre la Aprocsimacion de la Segunda Venida de Nuestro Senor Jesucristo, p. 5. De Rozas holds that the grand terminus of prophecy, yet to come, is found in Matthew 24:14 that when this gospel of the kingdom is preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, then the end will come. 8Ibid., p. 9. But Christ’s coming “as a thief” does not preclude the study of prophecy. De Rozas contends that St. Peter, St. John, and St. Paul all teach the coming of Antichrist, whose appearance seemed to be fulfilling in atheism which he held was even worse than Mohammedanism and in other isms. 9Ibid., pp. 11, 13. As to the two advents, which he stresses as does Lacunza, the first was for our redemption, but the second coming will overthrow Antichrist. 10Ibid., p. 17.PFF4 304.1


    De Rozas proceeds to enunciate a set of eight fundamental principles of interpretation. First, the punishment of the Jews, and the destruction of Jerusalem, was to be followed by the “times of the Gentiles,” or the 3i/L times of Antichrist. Next, he establishes the year-day principle for the “weeks of years,” of determined time, on the principle enunciated in Ezekiel 4:6, and specifically applies it to the 70 weeks of years, as well as to the 1260 years. 11Ibid,, pp. 31, 37. In support, Dr. de Vence’s Disertaciones de la Biblia, previously pointed in Mexico, is cited. The Spanish edition of the French work by Abbe de Vence, titled Biblica de Vence, with notes, was published in Mexico in 1820. In the Paris original, Saint e Bible en Latin et en Francois, avec des notes litter ales, critiques et historiques, des Prefaces et des Dissertations (Holy Bible in Latin and in French, with literary, critical, and historical notes, prefaces and dissertations), Paris, 1772, expounds the time period of the “antichristian Empire” of Daniel 7:25, De Vence uses the expression, “taking the days for years.” (Vol. 11, p. 220.) Similarly, under Daniel 9:25, on the 70 weeks and their component parts, which he dates from Artaxerxes Longimanus, the first “69 weeks” have the explanation, “that is to say 483 years.” (Ibid., p. 234.) Th is too was a Roman Catholic work. He expressly states that the weeks of DanielPFF4 304.2

    “did not denote, in that number, weeks of days, but weeks of years, as had been said before to Ezekiel, that he was given days for years. Thus it is here, that, as they cannot be forty-two common months of days, they are forty-two months of years, or as many years as there are days in forty-two months; as they were in Daniel as many years as seventy weeks contain of days.” 12De Rozas, Consulta, pp. 39, 40.PFF4 305.1


    De Rozas’ second principle is that the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14 are actually 2300 years, and that the days of Antiochus Epiphanes, frequently alluded to, were simply a type of the longer period of years. And this long period leads to the destruction of Antichrist. Here is his statement:PFF4 305.2

    “It should not be doubted that 2300 years will pass until the time and end of the Antichrist, according to the prophecy of Daniel; but the prophet does not tell us here when those years had to begin to be counted.” 13Ibid., pp. 60-66.PFF4 305.3

    5. Daniel 9 UNLOCKS MYSTERY OF Daniel 8

    But De Rozas immediately introduces the beginning of the period of the 70 weeks of Daniel 9 as the key to unlock the timing of the longer period.PFF4 305.4

    “Then the angel Gabriel comes the second time in chapter 9 to give him more knowledge of that vision which had held him in horror, and thus Daniel recognizes it in verse 21.... The angel Gabriel begins it [the explanation] by saying in verse 24, ‘Seventy weeks ...’ Thus there are to be 2300 years that pass; and now St. Gabriel is going to explain in detail, telling Daniel when those years must begin to be counted.” 14Ibid., pp. 64-66.PFF4 305.5

    6. CROSS IN A.D. 33; 2300 YEARS END ABOUT 1847

    The first 69i/L weeks of the 70 weeks of years, De Rozas holds, lead to the crucifixion of Christ in March, A.D. 33, in the “midst” of the 70th week. And as De Rozas was writing in March, 1833, only 13i/L years were then lacking, according to his contention, till the close of the 2300 years about 1847. Thus:PFF4 306.1

    “Four hundred eighty-six and one-half years of the 69i/L weeks until the death of our Redeemer, which was the month that is equivalent to our March of the year 33 of the Christian Era; and 1800 from then until March of 1833 in which I am writing, make 2286i/2 years; 13i/ are lacking for the 2300 of the prophecy.” 15Ibid., p. 69.PFF4 306.2


    The definiteness and accuracy of it all astonished him, and its coincidence with his previous year-day computations gave him confidence that he had made no error. 16Ibid. Moreover, De Rozas dated the 70 weeks from Artaxerxes’ command to rebuild Jerusalem, which he placed in 454 B.C. This too, we may well note in his own words, which include reference to the 1290 years.PFF4 306.3

    “From the birth of Joseph, which was 1744 years before the Christian Era, until the order of Artaxerxes which Nehemiah secured in 454 before the same era, in order that Jerusalem might be rebuilt, when the seventy weeks of Daniel began to be counted, 1290 years passed, well prefigurative of those which in the Christian Era are given for the treading down by the Gentiles of that city, which later will take another form.” 17Ibid., p. 125.PFF4 306.4

    De Rozas sought to tie the various lesser prophetic time periods to different events, often quite arbitrarily. He was groping after their time placement. But he was clear in concluding that the last of the time prophecies would end “about the middle of this nineteenth century of the Christian Era.” 18Ibid., p. 73. No one, unless the Lord reveals it to him, said De Rozas, can ever state a fixed time, because Christ promised to “shorten the days.”PFF4 306.5


    The third principle concerned the twice-mentioned “3 1/2 times,” the 1260 years, and the 1290 year-days as the time of persecution by Antichrist. 19Ibid., p. 73. And a second time, he lays down a measuring rod from A.D. 33 to about 1847, his favorite terminal date. 20Ibid., p. 96. His fourth principle was the 6,000-year theory of the history of the world, leading to the seventh thousand years of rest. 21Ibid., p. 100. But he adverts again to his dating of the 70 weeks from 454 B.C.PFF4 307.1

    Our Mexican jurist—theologian is not very clear on the outline prophecies, such as the four beasts of Daniel 7, though the notable horn on the symbolic goat of Daniel 8 he considers indicative of Alexander. But he believes that the four symbols cover the Christian Era, and embrace Antichrist, “the vision filling the time between the two advents of our Lord Jesus Christ, which were the object of the prophecies of Daniel.” 22Ibid., p. 147. Again and again he computes that the crisis of the Christian Era will come between 1843 and 1849. 23Ibid., pp. 150, 152, 154, 155, 160, 162. But his attempts to elucidate the Apocalypse are feeble and sketchy, and quite incomparable to his grasp of the time periods of Daniel. The length of the Christian Era is proved in many ways, he says.PFF4 307.2

    “I do not know if I have overloaded too much this picture of the prophetic figures; but I have wished to put down as many as I found, in order that although some may be removed by some uncertainty of history, or diversity of chronology that each one may follow, or an error of mine, which is too easy in my ignorance (and more, when I am writing between illnesses, anxieties of spirit which are inescapable in our days, and anguishes of time for my other serious occupations), many indisputable ones may still remain which solidly establish my intention: and it is not something impossible that God for that very reason may have put down many, knowing well that there would be a tendency of humanity to divide itself and stray in opinions on all points; for only in those [points] of the true religion, for the special distinction of this, Infinite Wisdom had determined to give us the light necessary for a total certainty. All that is written in the Old Testament is a prefiguration of that which God had determined and was to fulfill in the Law of Grace.” 24Ibid., p. 153.PFF4 307.3

    There are many irrelevancies throughout De Rozas’ treatise, in calculations of the number of years from this event to that, and the seeking of interrelationships between Old Testament and New, but always there is an attempt to find whether they accord with some prophetic time period, and especially with his favorite date of 1847, or thereabouts.PFF4 308.1


    The peak of De Rozas’ series of arguments is that the contemporary signs of the times earthquakes, wars, pestilences, famines all indicate the approaching end of the world. 25Ibid., pp. 156-159; also alluded to on p. 187. Most striking of all is his stress upon the great meteoric shower of November, 1833, seen all over Mexico, which was recorded in the press, and which he personally observed. This he declared to be an unmistakable harbinger of the end. Here is his argument.PFF4 308.2

    As a celestial sign heralded the first advent, so the second advent would doubtless likewise be announced by “miraculous celestial signs.” A luminous sign of a cross in the heavens was allegedly seen by Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, about 1842 years after the exodus of Israel from Egypt (p. 155); therefore, perhaps “at an equal date of the Christian Era [1842] the end would arrive,” similarly heralded by celestial signs. 26His timing is highly interesting, according approximately with the expectation of scores of Protestant expositors in the New World and the Old (as seen in Volume III, and further developed here in Volume IV). And the historian Josephus, an eyewitness, says that before Jerusalem was captured by Titus he saw over Jerusalem, throughout an entire year, a comet in the form of a sword; and that a bright light seemed to enshroud the Temple for a half hour about nine o’clock one night during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. De Rozas then and at that time he was a supreme court jurist adduces as latter-day evidence the spectacular meteors of November, 1833, with their “tails of light,” recorded in various parts of Mexico. Here is his statement:PFF4 308.3

    (Left) Title page of Jose de Rozas’ “Consultation” published at Toluca, Mexico, in 1835, Impressively Citing the prophecies to indicate approaching end of age. Spectacular November 13, 1833, star shower cited as seen all over Mexico
    Page 309
    PFF4 309

    “But I should not omit, since now I am writing, that which in this month of November of 1833 we have seen. On the 12th [morning of the 13th] in the early hours there was seen something like circles [balls] of fire that flashed through the air, leaving a trail of light wherever they went. Thus it is described by those who saw it in Toluca, and in its environs in all directions even for many leagues. It is public and notorious that the same meteorics were seen in Mexico [City] and even as far as Puebla. I have read letters of the same thing in San Luis Potosi and its surroundings; the same is affirmed of Guanajoato and Leon. I also know about it from some who were traveling near Queretaro; the same notice has come from other parts; many remain from whence it has been impossible [for news] to arrive; and in the papers there have been letters from Monterrey that say the same.” 27Ibid., p. 156. A footnote adds that similar news of the meteoric shower later came from almost every part of the Mexican Republic, and also from the United States.PFF4 309.1

    Then De Rozas repeats his definite convictions that only at the time of fulfillment of the “prophetic enigmas” is there understanding. In contrast to the first coming of our Lord at His earthly sojourn of about thirty years, some 1800 years ago, the second advent now draws near the “great day of the Lord,” long heralded by the prophets, when the heavens shall pass away, and the earth and its works be burned up.PFF4 310.1


    It is to be remembered that De Rozas was ever a Roman Catholic, believing in the doctrines of the Roman church and holding that Protestantism was schismatic represented by the woe-features of the trumpets, and particularly indicated by the locusts of the fifth trumpet. 28Ibid., pp. 198, 205. The great apostasy, foretold by the apostle Paul, depressed him. Nevertheless, he believed that Antichrist will be conquered as Christ comes the second time and subdues and punishes him; then prophetic time will be no longer, for the prophecies will be fulfilled, and we will marvel at their exactness and at the wisdom of God as well as His omnipotence. 29Ibid., pp. 225-232. The second advent is near, he insists. There are two advents in the holy faith. Then he states his understanding of the purpose of prophecy, and his own purpose in writing:PFF4 310.2

    “Under these solid principles, and being, as I am, well convinced that God does not give special understanding of the enigmatic prophecies (excepting rare cases and persons whom He wishes to instruct by revelation) except when the fulfillment arrives or is very near, in order that men may prepare themselves, may recognize first of all divine mercy, and then may admire divine wisdom; I shall not enter into formal discussions of how the earth is to remain in the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: I am only proving that this is drawing near. I believe that my proofs corroborate each other mutually, and are very coincident as to time.” 30Ibid., p. 234.PFF4 310.3

    Such is the truly remarkable exposition coming from a Roman Catholic jurist-theologian in Mexico in 1834 two years before William Miller’s first book and astonishingly like the numerous Protestant time-prophecy computations prior to Miller, based on the interlocking 70—week and 2300—year prophecies, with the cross in A.D. 33 in the midst of the 70th week, and the longer period ending about 1847. And he was always ringing the changes on the imminence of the advent. The concurring of these voices must have been more than coincidental, for they appeared in many lands. But none is more interesting or significant than that of De Rozas, the Catholic Mexican magistrate, on the approaching end of the 2300 years.PFF4 311.1

    Now let us go north to Canada to the Protestant Burwell.PFF4 311.2

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