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The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4

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    V. Ward’s Expositions Match Those of Miller

    Before he had made any contacts with William Miller, and before the first three of Miller’s ministerial recruits had joined his cause in 1838, in the public preaching of the prophecies and the advent, 23HENRY DANA WARD, D.D. (1797-1884), grandson of soldier-statesman Artemas Ward, first commander of the Revolutionary forces, was born in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. He was graduated from Harvard with a B.A. in 1816 and an M.A. in 1819. He had recognized classical attainments and was a successful teacher. After ordination in Charleston, West Virginia, he was made rector of St. Jude’s Church, New York City. He wrote much for the Signs of the Times, and as an eyewitness of the meteoric shower of November 13, 1833, wrote of it as a sign of the last times and a fulfillment of Matthew 24:29. The earliest located writing by Ward is an exposure of Free Masonry (1828). His other books included Glad Tidings (1838), Telescope of Faith, Promises to Abraham, Kingdom of God, Restitution of the Earth, and Israel and the Holy Land. His History and Doctrine of the Millennium (1840), was a really scholarly work. Ward’s later writings include The. Gospel of the Kingdom ... Not of this World; The Bible, Its Testimony and Promises,, The History of the Cross, The Faith of Abraham, The Everlasting Covenants of Promise, and Israel ana the Holy Law. Ward’s early exposure of Free Masonry (1829:399 pp.) evinces the same characteristic thoroughness of research in its forty documented chapters and its extensive bibliography. He was a careful student, going to the bottom of whatever he was investigating. Episcopalian clergyman of New York City, of brilliant talent and outstanding ability, had made a deep personal study of prophecy and had independently reached conclusions remarkably similar to those of Miller and his immediate associates. These Ward published in 1838, under the title Glad Tidings. He was one of that growing group of earnest students who, led as he believed by the same Spirit into similar lines of study with others, yet independently, had come to strikingly similar conclusions. Tall and handsome, vigorous of mind and serious, Ward was every inch a Christian gentleman. He was possessed of brilliant talents and wide experience and was deeply pious. He began his Christian life as a Congregational layman, but soon entered the Episcopal ministry in New York City.PFF4 569.4

    Picture 3: DR. HENRY DANA WARD
    Episcopalian Rector of New York city, Chairman of the first “General Conference” on prophecy and author of history of premillennialism. His researches into the antiquity of premillennialism and the modernity of postmillennialism formed the classic of their day
    Page 570
    PFF4 570

    Small wonder, then, that when the widening line of cleavage appeared between the popular clerics, and what he firmly believed to be their un-Biblical postmillennial scheme of gradual world betterment-in contrast to Miller’s emphasis on the catastrophic end of the age impending—that Ward took his stand with Miller on the unpopular side. And little wonder that, at the convocation of the first General Conference in Boston, late in 1840, this well-trained and well-informed pre-millenialist should be chosen chairman of the conference, and asked to give the leading address, and that he should present the most thorough and really exhaustive study on the millennial issue to be presented in the entire movement. He had been studying and preparing for years. Now he came to the forefront. This was his great opportunity and his special contribution. To understand his virtual identity of view with that of Miller that reaches back to 1838, let us scan his really remarkable treatise Glad Tidings “For the Kingdom of Heaven Is at Hand.”PFF4 570.1


    Ward’s Introduction plunges at once to the heart of his thesis, which is that the restitution of all things impends, with the resurrection of the dead, of which the gospel is fundamentally the “glad tidings” to man. Challenging the doctrine that the present church is the promised kingdom, Ward declares that material concept to be a concoction of the Man of Sin, unknown before the “general apostasy of the church.” This subtle confusion of the kingdom with the gospel dispensation has brought “inextricable confusion,” and as a result has multiplied “divisions and dissensions.” 24Henry Dana Ward, Glad Tidings “For the Kingdom of Heaven Is at Hand,“ Dilating on the seriousness of changing the message of God, Ward twice stresses the appropriateness of the message from God now due—“Fear God, and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come,” appearing in Revelation 14:7. Contending the kingdom to be verily at hand, Ward sets forth its time sequence following the four monarchies of Daniel, namely, Babylonia, Persia, Grecia, and Rome. 25Ibid., pp. 18, 19, 37, 38. The kingdom of God, he maintains, is the “world to come.” 26Ibid., pp. 49-61.PFF4 571.1

    Resting the Biblical argument briefly, Ward examines the papal claim of the present world and church as God’s kingdom, with the pope on his throne as its vicegerent. “By challenging the existence of the kingdom of heaven in this world, the Roman is dethroned at once,” Ward says. The church is not the kingdom, but is instead “the preacher of the glad tidings of eternal life.” Origen perverted all this in the third century by his “figurative interpretation,” and turned it into the “church militant.” 27Ibid., pp. 62-67. On Origen see Prophetic Faith, Vol. I, pp. 310-324.PFF4 571.2


    Dealing next with the various parables of the kingdom, Ward comes directly to “the Prophet Daniel.” These prophetic outlines, he declares, “plainly show” through the metallic image and the four beasts, that—PFF4 572.1

    “the kingdom of heaven conies from heaven with its king, in a moment, with overwhelming destruction of this world’s kingdoms, and thrones: and it rules over all the earth for ever and ever; and is yet to come.” 28Ward, Glad Tidings, p. 96.PFF4 572.2


    Ward then launches into a discussion of the prophetic “days” of the time periods, and declares they are to be “understood” as years, justas “king” means kingdom. Taking this principle as demonstrated and commonly acknowledged, he continues:PFF4 572.3

    “Daniel’s term of twenty-three hundred is near its close. For the seventy weeks, (or seventy times seven days, equal to four hundred ninety,) to the death of Messiah, added to eighteen hundred ten, since that memorable event, make twenty-three hundred exactly. And, according to Bible chronology, Jesus was born four years before the common date, and so was crucified in the year 29, but at the age of thirty-three: and eighteen hundred thirty-nine will be precisely eighteen hundred ten years, since his crucifixion.PFF4 572.4

    “I shall not attempt to fix the beginning of the era of Daniel’s twenty-three hundred days. If the four hundred ninetieth year of it, were the year of our Lord’s crucifixion, the next will be the last year of it. And the wise will at least strive to understand.” 29Ibid., pp. 97, 98.PFF4 572.5

    He then concludes soberly: “It would seem, therefore, that the period of 2300 years, in Daniel, is very near its end.” His reasoning is therefore essentially the same as Miller’s, but independent thereof. The dating simply differs four years because of a slightly different calculation.PFF4 572.6


    On the placement of the 1260 years, however, Ward seems less clear, but recognizes it to be the period of the “Babylonian harlot.” He appeals to men to heed the prophet Daniel. He condemns Christendom at large because it looks for a millennium in this world, “without the living presence of the Lord Jesus, as the Jews did, after they had procured his crucifixion.” 30Ibid., pp. 98-100.PFF4 573.1


    The heathen poets of antiquity sang of a golden age, followed by silver and bronze ages, and these in turn by the iron age-from which there was to be a return to golden times. Discoursing more fully on the metallic image of Daniel 2, Ward asserts that “no difference of opinion scarcely exists” on the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Grecian, and Roman kingdoms. Those are the “last of the series of this world.” In the days of the divided kingdoms, therefore, the God of heaven sets up His kingdom. “Nothing can be plainer,” he adds. And irrespective of the precise names of the ten kingdoms, Rome was “dismembered.” The modern nations are therefore “the Roman empire in its divided state.” And that modern nations mingle but do not adhere to each other is incontestable. The smiting stone is plainly Messiah’s kingdom. The feet are not yet broken, but they will be broken in pieces and blown where they can no more be found. This is no “gentle abrasion.” The crushing “blow” has not yet been struck, but it is imminent. 31Ibid., pp. 101-114.PFF4 573.2


    The same four world powers are portrayed in Daniel 7 beyond “any shadow of doubt.” Ward then depicts the Babylonian lion as existent for two centuries, the Medo-Persian bear as likewise for two hundred years, the Macedonian leopard for some three centuries, with the “indescribable dominion of Rome” as the fourth. The “ten horns accord with the ten toes.” The “admixture of the miry clay with the iron” occurred at the time of Constantine, in the union of the Christian church and the state. The ten horns are the “last form of the fourth and existing empire,” 32Ibid., pp. 115-118. and the eleventh horn pushes up among the ten.PFF4 573.3

    “The four empires have successively followed each other, and the fourth is to be followed by the day of judgment, and the endless reign of Messiah. This is the order of events; and only the last and endless kingdom remains to come, to complete the series.” 33Ibid., p. 118.PFF4 574.1


    Now follows the observation that the “admixture of the clay and iron in the feet of the image, symbolizes the union of church and state.” And the Little Horn symbolizes the power that “wears a triple tiara.” This power continues till the judgment, and the time that the saints possess the kingdom. So Ward concludes:PFF4 574.2

    “No room is here for the millennium, until after the Ancient of days comes to judgment; until after the little horn ceases to make war with the saints, and to prevail; until the stone from on high smites the image in the feet and toes of it, and destroys it altogether, so that no more place is found for any particle of it. This dispensation under which we live, is that of the tribulation of the saints, in which the enemy overcomes them, and slays them with all manner of persecution. This is not the kingdom of heaven: this is the kingdom of the fourth beast and of his last horn; which is ‘the man of sin, and on of perdition,’—‘that wicked, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and destroy with the brightness of his coming.’ 34Ibid., pp. 123, 124.PFF4 574.3


    The concerted testimony of the prophecy, Ward insists* is focused on the destruction of “Babylon,” or the Man of Sin, which makes war with the saints. And the destruction of the Papacy at the advent is connected by Ward with the message of the angel “pleading with the nations at this moment,” and followed by another angel saying, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen.” He who set the bounds for the seas, and who gave the planets and moons their times and seasons, determines their motions to the second for years to come. For long centuries men were in confusion regarding the motions. But when they came to understand that the sun is the center of this planetary system, and its changes and seasons, then beautiful order and harmony was seen to prevail. Thus the “kingdom of heaven at hand” is the center of the scheme of prophecy that brings order and harmony to everything. 35Ibid., pp. 124, 125.PFF4 574.4

    In a later section Ward gives the testimony of early church writers on Antichrist to come. These include such men as Hilary, Jerome, and Lactantius. Ward knew his history. He gives similar testimony in regard to mystical Babylon, which was the outgrowth of the falling away. Then comes the simile of the bride looking for the Bridegroom, and the tragedy of how the church no longer longs for and expects Him. But at midnight the cry heralding His coming will be made. 36Ibid., pp. 139-144.PFF4 575.1


    Exposing the fallacy of the spiritual reign of Christ as a substitute for the millennial reign to come, Ward cries out:PFF4 575.2

    “Amen! so let HIM come, who will bind the strong man, and spoil his goods. Then we shall have, not a spiritual coming merely, but the coming again of the Lord Jesus, in the clouds of heaven; and, also, the resurrection of the dead, and the kingdom of Jesus and of heaven, never to be shaken.” 37Ibid., p. 147.PFF4 575.3

    Ward distinguishes between Christ as a prophet, in the day of His humility—prophesying of the kingdom of heaven—and that of His subsequent roles. He did not then in any manner discharge the office of priest, and wholly declined the exercise of regal power. These offices are not concurrent. The office of priesthood, which He is now discharging in heaven, is distinct from His earthly office of prophet. And His coming kingship and throne will be eternal. 38Ibid., pp. 158, 159.PFF4 575.4


    This living faith was the lively hope of the primitive church. But after the open apostasy of the fourth century, the power of the Holy Spirit in the early church was corrupted and usurped by the pope, who was a hard taskmaster over the nations. This faith of the primitive church is attested by the historian Gibbon.” 39Field Tidings, pp. 166, 177. And now we live in the day of the preparatory work of Elias. Just as with John before the first advent, Elias is even now in the deserts and lonely places, preparing the way of the Lord for the coming glory. Such, declared Ward, is the message of the Lord. 40Ibid., pp. 185-188. It also discloses the caliber of Ward the student and preacher.PFF4 575.5

    Small wonder, then, that with such a prophetic belief, Dr. Ward should soon find himself in essential accord with much that Miller and his associates were teaching. Thus he came to make common cause with them against the perversions of a postmillennialism that denies the unanimous testimony of the prophecies. That is why he was fitted almost immediately to assume a prominence and a leadership in the message of the great advent hope as chairman of the first General Conference, comprised of ministers of various persuasions who met in Himes’s Boston church in October, 1840. In common with many others, Ward had been led independently, by his personal study of the prophecies, to essentially identical conclusions and expectations. Obviously, the way had been prepared for a widespread and united move, soon destined to be felt mightily throughout the land.PFF4 576.1

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