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The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4

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    VII. Robinson of Cincinnati-Likewise Awaits End in 1847

    Another western expositor who placed the terminus of the 2300 years and the beginning of the millennium around 1843, 1844, or 1847, was JOHN ROBINSON, D.D., 29JOHN ROBINSON (1814-1888) was born in Pennsylvania, graduating from Franklin college, Ohio, in 1837, and Westminster Theological Seminary in 1844. After ordination by the Steubenville Presbytery in 1841, he became pastor of the Monroville, Ohio, Presbyterian Church from 1841-1844, and of Ashland from 1844 onward. He wrote vigorously against slavery, and was one of the founders of the University of Wooster. He was an earnest preacher and an able writer on prophecy. pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Cincinnati, Ohio-the scene of Dr. Joshua Wilson’s somewhat similar exposition in 1829. Possibly there was some connection. In any event, Robinson’s treatise, The Millennium Just at Hand, Being a Paraphrase of the Vision of Daniel and Apocalypse of St. John the Divine, was published in 1843. His opening sentence declares that the church had long been “praying for the downfall of Antichrist” at the second advent, when “the pope, the man of sin will be destroyed by the brightness and day of His coming.” 30John Robinson, The Millennium Just at hand, p. 3. He next asserts that it is our duty to “notice the times,” or “prophetic evidences,” as to the time of Christ’s second coming. So he launches into a discussion of “the time of the fall of the Pope of Rome, and the commencement of the millennium.”PFF4 377.2


    Robinson takes it as axiomatic that, “according to prophetic computation, we are to count a day for a year,” and that the 1260 days, the 42 months, and the 3i/L times of the “reign of popery,” are one and the same period-1260 years. He then turns to Daniel 8:14 and the 2300 years, and the cleansing of the sanctuary, upon which remarkable prophecy he urges the “serious attention” of the “honest enquirer.” First, he reasons, the “2300 days are 2300 years,” leading to the beginning of the millennium, when the “true worship of God will be restored to the church.” This is the “first part of the clue.” The “other part of the clue” is that the “seventy weeks [or 490 years] are the first part of the 2300 years.” This lesser period was fulfilled exclusively on the Jews before the incoming of the Gentiles. These 70 weeks reach to the “atonement of the cross,” and the “introduction of the gospel dispensation founded on the atonement actually made.” 31Ibid., pp. 4, 5. The anointing of the Most Holy is the sprinkling with His own blood of the Most Holy in “heaven itself,” after His own sacrifice for sin and His subsequent ascension.PFF4 377.3


    After elaborating on the several divisions of the 70 weeks, he comes to the “last week of the seventy,” with the “crucifixion in the middle of it.” Christ’s causing of the sacrifice and the oblation to cease means, he explains, His “nullifying the rites, ceremonies, and typical worship of the Jews”—in the “middle of the week”—“introducing the gospel worship in its room,” which, he says, took place on the day of Pentecost. And this all happened “when Jesus was thirty years old,” at the time of His baptism, with the sacrifice of Himself in His 34th year, or three and one-half years after His baptism. 32Ibid., p. 7. The remaining half of the fateful “week” was confined to preaching to the Jews, who were the first converts to Christianity. So the 70 weeks, or 490 years, “over-run the Christian Era thirty-seven years.” And 37 from 490 equals 453, which checks with the birth of Christ. But, Robinson hastens to add, it is “generally thought that the vulgar aera is four years too late.” In such an event, “it will bring on the millennium four years sooner than I calculate.” 33Ibid., p. 10. That would be “1843.”PFF4 378.1

    3. 70 WEEKS BEGIN THE 2300 YEARS

    Coming to the time relationship between the 70 weeks of years and the 2300 years, Robinson makes three points: (1) The explanation concerning the 70 weeks is obviously given to explain the vision of the 300 years, until the purging away of popery. Daniel 8, with the Medo-Persian ram, the Grecian goat, and the four horns as the four divisions of Alexander’s empire, gives way to the exceeding great Roman Empire horn, which is “carried on through the kingdom of Popery until it is destroyed.” It is therefore evident, he observes, that the 2300-year vision extends from Medo-Persia to the downfall of popery. Then he asks pointedly, “Where can we place these 490 years but at the beginning of the vision?” (2) The 490 years, closing three and one-half years after Pentecost, begins with the reign of the Persians, comprehends the Grecian period, and part of the time of the Roman Empire. Then he adds: “But it is plain that 2300 years also, must begin at the same time, extend through all those empires, to the close of the empire of Popery.” 34Ibid., p. 12.PFF4 379.1


    And (3)the vision goes on “to the consummation, and that determined, shall be poured out upon the desolate.” So the whole vision is 2300 years, but is not dated. However, the 70 weeks are located exactly, from which the larger calculation can be made. Then comes this table:PFF4 379.2

    “Daniel’s seventy weeks............. 490
    Which overruns the vulgar aers...... 37
    Which take from 490 and there remain..453 The time of the vision............. 2300
    subtract from it................... 453
    And you have the end............... 1847” 35Ibid., p. 13.
    PFF4 379.3

    After again making allowance for inaccuracy in the dating of the Christian Era, Robinson says, “We must expect that long looked—for catastrophe, to take place at this very given time, according to the prophecy, tour or five years from this date.” 36Ibid.PFF4 380.1


    Robinson then turns to supporting evidence from Paul and John. When the Roman “letting” or hindering power (2 Thessalonians 2) was taken out of the way, then the papal Man of Sin appeared in the church rather than the state. That also fixes the time of the rise of Antichrist. And John, in Revelation 13, presents the same Roman power as a beast rising out of the sea of “commotions” of peoples and “revolutions of empires.” The seven heads are the seven forms of the Roman government, and the ten horns the ten divisions of Rome.PFF4 380.2

    The two-horned beast from the earth means the “secular power of popery,” the two horns signifying the double power of the pope-spiritual and temporal, secured under Pepin. So with temporal authority the pope sits on the seven hills of Rome. This is the same as the Little Horn of Daniel 7, plucking up the three horns of Italy, Ravenna, and Pentapolis, to provide the temporal power for the papacy. And this comes from the old Roman “dragon.” But the papal downfall is set as “1817, which is four years after the present date.” Robinson then soberly declares, “From this calculation, we are surprised to find that this all-important time, looked for, long prayed for, and long desired, has about overtaken us unawares.”; 37Ibid., p. 15.PFF4 380.3

    Next, he repeats his strong convictions in these words:PFF4 380.4

    “Such is my confidence in the truth of the word of God, and such is my conviction from Daniel’s account, that 1 hesitate not to say, that the downfall of Popery, and the dawn of the church’s glory will take place four years after the present date. The church will be surprised with the awful appearance of her Lord, with the display of his fiery indignation against his enemies, and the beatific smiles of his countenance upon his friends, and humble followers.” 38Ibid., p. 16.PFF4 380.5

    And Robinson, be it also noted, was not a Millerite.PFF4 381.1


    His closing paragraphs tell of the 1290 years, extending 30 years beyond the close of the 1260, and the 1335 years reaching 45 years beyond the 1290 (or 75 years beyond the close of the 1260 years)—to provide for the spread of the gospel over all the earth. After the “fatal stroke” is given, and the “whore of Babylon destroyed,” the progress of the gospel will be increasingly rapid. Satan will be chained for the thousand years, and the gospel will go forth “conquering and to conquer.” Papists, infidels, and Jews must all yield to its divine energy. Churches built upon error will tumble to ruin, and their errors be purged. Great “battles” will be fought “before the commencement of the millennium,” with inconceivable slaughter, and the “gospel extended over all the face of the earth.” 39Ibid., p. 17.PFF4 381.2

    Small wonder, then, that—with so many and such varied prominent religious leaders in all sections of America, Europe, and Asia, and scattered through all denominations, proclaiming the approach of epochal events coming, or at least beginning to come around 1843, 1844, or 1847—there should be wide concern and expectation on the part of the people. And little wonder that, coming from men of training and leadership, it should be echoed by many others, and should receive most serious and respectful attention. Such is the closing touch to this impressive and highly significant picture of the expectancy of the times.PFF4 381.3

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