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The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4

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    IV. Facts of Major Significance Revealed by Master Char

    The tabular chart on pages 404, 405 discloses the amazing picture of some seventy-five expositors, scattered over a dozen nations, spread over four continents, who, prior to William Miller’s first book on prophecy (Troy, New York: 1836), anticipated his major findings and were in essential agreement concerning the time he emphasized. These were published statements, apart from unnumbered sermons without specific record. Thirty-eight of these writers ended the 2300 years inPFF4 403.3

    Tabular Analysis of Application, With Similarities and Diversities, Up to 1844 1843 or 1844, and thirty in 1847. However, the same date (1843-1844) was really intended by this latter group, which simply passed over the 4 B.C. factor in reckoning the birth of Christ. At the same time the end dates given by these same expositors for the 1260-, 1290-, and 1335-year prophecies are listed for related study and comparison, together with the 391-year prophecy of the sixth trumpet of Revelation 9:15. These were regarded by nearly all as having a material bearing on the over-all picture.


    This tabular listing casts a determinative light on the accepted respectability of the study of prophecy and the propriety and sanity of Miller’s emphasis upon, and dating of, the prophecies of Daniel. He was in conspicuous company, and his contemporary expositors were considered exemplary and orthodox churchmen. No stigma was attached to their attempts to fix upon the dating of these time prophecies. Miller’s was therefore in no sense a localized or isolated speculation, for these distinguished expositors were scattered over Europe, the British Isles, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Northern Africa, and even India-not to mention Dr. Joseph Wolff who traveled all over Asia and Asia Minor and parts of Africa, as well as Europe and the United States, proclaiming the same and agreeing in the time. The interest was far flung, and these men were among the leading clergymen, theologians, educators, editors, college presidents, physicians, statesmen, barristers, and military me of the time, and were of every religious persuasion-Anglican, Presbyterian, Congregational, Baptist, Lutheran, Reformed, Methodist, Christian, Disciple, and even including a Roman Catholic. All these were engaged in carefully studying and deliberately determining the close of the 2300 year-days of Daniel 8:14 as the divinely appointed time for some transcendent event—the second advent, the beginning of the millennium, the return of the Jews, or at least something of great importance to the race.PFF4 406.1


    Of equal importance with the propriety of seeking the true time placement of the 2300 years of Daniel (of whose prophetic writings Jesus had declared, “Whoso readeth let him understand”), was the discovery of the “key” to its evident dating. Between Germany’s Johann Petri (d. 1792)—who was the first to enunciate the principle that the 70 weeks of years comprise the first part of the 2300 year-days, and that they begin synchronously—and America’s John Robinson (1843), some seventy expositors employed this principle and applied this procedure. Indeed, it came to be regarded as axiomatic, and was considered as perhaps the final factor essential to the unsealing of this portion of Daniel relating to the last things, which had not been clearly understood until the close of the eighteenth century. Then, at this point of time, many expositors, standing at the dawn of the nineteenth century, expressed the conviction that mankind had now entered the “time of the end,” elsewhere denominated the “latter days,” or “last days.”PFF4 407.1


    Some, like Miller, made 1843-1844, or 1847 the climactic end date for this present age. A heavy majority, however, looked upon that date rather as only the beginning, or starting point, for a series of continuing fulfillments extending beyond 1843 to 1847, in cumulative sequence, forecast through the 1260-, 1290-, and particularly the 1335-year periods. Their closing dates were consequently projected ahead to a climax yet to come, and which, they envisioned, would witness the destruction of the Papacy, the overthrow of Mohammedanism, and the ushering in of the millennial blessedness, which, they were persuaded, was not far away.PFF4 407.2


    FACTOR.—Many, like Miller and his earlier associates, placed the commonly accepted A.D. 33 cross at the end of the seventieth week. Others insisted that this same 33 crucifixion date must, according to the prophetic stipulation, be in the “midst” of the seventieth week. They consequently extended, or ended, the seventieth week in A.D. 37, and placed the interrelated 2300—year terminus in 1847. However, the scholarly associates who soon joined Miller adopted the A.D. 31 crucifixion date advocated by Chronologist William Hales, and reckoned this A.D. 31 date as the “midst” of the seventieth week, thus ending the seventieth “week” in the autumn of A.D. 34, and in consequence ending the connected 2300 years, from which it was “cut off,” in the autumn of 1844.PFF4 407.3


    A few(eight)mistakenly believed that the number in Daniel 8:14 should dread 2400. But even they similarly ended the expanded number in 1847, simply beginning the period a century earlier, with the giving of the vision. Eleven also ended the 391-year prophecy of the Ottoman Turks (Revelation 9:15) in 1844. And eleven terminated the so-called “seven times” (2520 years), or “times of the Gentiles,” between 1843 and 1847. But these were considered to be only corollary factors.PFF4 408.1


    It is to be particularly observed that seventy or more of these expositors began the 2300 years synchronously with the 70 weeks of years—beginning them together in the time of Artaxerxes of Persia and ending the longer period in 1843, 1844, or 1847, most of them ending the seventy weeks at or near the time of the cross. The separation of the seventieth week from the preceding 69 weeks was part of a late development-Futurism-stemming either out of the pro-Catholic positions espoused by James H. Todd (d. 1869) and William Burgh (d. 1866), or from Edward Irving’s or J. N. Darby’s view set forth at the Powers court Conference, later championed by the Futurist Plymouth Brethren. It is presently held by most Fundamentalists.PFF4 408.2

    This comparatively recent isolation of the seventieth week, thrusting it forward into the future, has therefore neither warrant of Protestant Reformation exposition nor of post-Reformation interpretation, until one comes to Todd, who followed the historical critic Samuel R. Maitland, who in 1826 sought to counter or undermine the premillennial Advent Awakening witness in Britain. And this in time affected the American Dispensationalist and Fundamentalist groups. It is somewhat like the late postmillennial innovation that profoundly affected the rationalist wing.PFF4 408.3


    There were some in this list who placed the return of our Lord between 1843 and 1847, but who believed that He would set up His throne in Jerusalem at that time, and re-establish Jewish rule. Such believed that His personal rule, or perhaps dominion through His saints, would extend throughout the thousand years of the millennial period (or perchance 365,000 years). With such, probation for the world would not close with the return of Christ, but extend on for the salvation of mankind, and end only at the close of the millennium. This was in contrast to, and in direct conflict with, the Millerite position, and formed part of the clash of concepts between these two groups of premillennialists, for the Millerites did not believe in the restoration of the Jews, and held to the close of probation at, or shortly before, the second advent.PFF4 409.1

    And there was considerable variation between the non-Millerite groups as to the exact nature of the millennial kingdom and the relationship between the resurrected saints, literal Israel, and the remaining inhabitants of earth. This conflict of view involved such expositors as Begg of Scotland, Cuninghame, Brooks, and Irving of England, and Winthrop, Labagh, and Campbell of America.PFF4 409.2

    Such was another area of divergence.PFF4 409.3


    This working sheet, based upon the facts recorded in the text, affords opportunity for much careful, scientific study (from the full data and all factors) and the drawing of many significant conclusions. For instance, it does away for all time with the fallacious notion that William Miller was the first, or even one of the first, to fix upon 1843, 1844, or 1847 as the end year of the 2300 years of the prophecy. More than threescore students of prophecy antedated him. Further, it disposes forever of the notion that this was simply or principally an American Millerite or New World concept, or merely a local interest or provincial emphasis. It began, instead, on the Continent of Europe and in the British Isles, but almost immediately appeared on both sides of the Atlantic. It was distinctly international, and was virtually a simultaneous world phenomenon.PFF4 409.4

    Then, it disposes beyond peradventure of the contention that this thesis was born of ignorance or presumption or sprang from erratic thinking, for it was instead the spontaneous conviction of many of the finest minds of the time, as noted in the text-reverent and competent scholars, including learned teachers, preachers, historians, scientists, editors, statesmen, jurists, physicians, even Anglican and Reformed bishops, Presbyterian moderators, D.D.’s, S.T.D.’s, Ph.D.’s, LL.D.’s, and the like.PFF4 410.1

    And finally, it lays low the suggestion that this was the hobby of a single unstable religious group, with a weakness along the line of prophetic foible and speculation. It was, instead, spread with amazingly balanced distribution among all leading religious groups or denominations, including even a Roman Catholic jurist. These and many other significant conclusions are deducible from the evidence here tabulated. Its study will well repay the time expended.PFF4 410.2

    In summation, it therefore follows that any valid criticism of such study of prophecy as here visualized, and any honest attempt to find the proper dating of this particular 2300-year time period, must apply with equal force and condemnation to all such investigators. And any attempt to imply that the rational study of prophecy is an evidence of weakness, irresponsibility, presumption, ignorance, or senility must extend to include all so engaged in this distinguished list of expositors—which, in the light of the facts, few would have the temerity to suggest.PFF4 410.3

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