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The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4

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    VI. Hawley-Cites Supporting Witnesses of the Centuries

    SILAS HAWLEY, 19SILAS HAWLEY (1815-1888) was born in Massachusetts of English ancestry. One of his forebears was president of Cambridge University. Another, according to Bancroft, is credited with originating the idea of an American Republic, with elections and two legislative houses. (History of the United States, vol. 3, p. 136.) From the academy at Whitesboro, New York, Silas went on to the Oneida Collegiate Institute, which then gave a full collegiate course. Then, as was the custom of the day, he studied theology privately with the distinguished Presbyterian divine, Stephen W. Burritt, as tutor. Hawley was licensed to preach in 1835 and ordained in 1836. He held pastorates in New York State, then in Massachusetts, and subsequently in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Ohio. Well trained, with much native ability, and positive convictions, he was a pointed, forceful speaker and accurate writer, and a conspicuous expounder of the Word, as well as a successful revivalist. Hawley was one of the original abolitionists, having takes stand before Garrison’s Liberator appeared, and was active in the formation of the Anti-Slavery Society of Utica, New York, when its members were mobbed. He was similarly active in other reforms. In his later years he was a spiritual father, and led a Bible class. He was also president of the Dodge County Bible Society. another Presbyterian-Congregationalist minister, of Groton, Massachusetts, likewise became an able Millerite preacher in 1840. 20On one occasion he reported two hundred converts from an evangelistic endeavor, some of them hardened and apparently hopeless cases. (Midnight Cry, Aug. 24, 1843, pp. 6, 7.) He delivered the important dedicatory address at the large Boston Tabernacle on May 4, 1843, with nearly four thousand persons present, including a large number of the local clergy. 21Signs of the Times, May 10, 1843, p. 76. Hawley here successfully contended that Miller’s primary views on prophecy had been held by eminent theologians through the centuries, 22Ibid., June 7, 1843, pp. 110, 111. and were thus supported by the ablest scholarship of both Europe and America. He then presented the “seven points” upon which the only serious challenge has been made, but for which positions he cites many renowned authorities, including noted Catholic and Jewish as well as Protestant expositors. This very acquaintance of able Millerite leaders with the whole range of prophetic interpreters gave confidence both to themselves and to their hearers. 23Personal examination of the available books of Hawley’s library discloses the type Permanent Temperance Documents (vol. 1, 1835). On baptism there was Fowler and Atwood; on the Sabbath, Phelps’s An Argument for the Perpetuity of the Sabbath. On the Papacy, Chillingsworth and Morse (1837), and Green on Christian Education, Oneida Institute and Ancient Classics (1841). Finney’s Lectures to Professing Christians (1837), Johnson’s Household Consecration (1836). In die field of prophecy were Prey’s Messiahship of Jesus, Duffield’s Dissertation on the Prophecies (1842), Davies on the “Signs of the Times” (Luke 21, in Sermons, vol. 3, 1841), Bush’s Harmony and Exposition of Matthew 24, also Bush on the Millennium, Kirkwood’s Lectures on the Millennium, and Cummings’ Voices of the Day, and Voices of the Night’s Handbook, with its marriage and funeral services, Rules of Order for Assemblies, with his own specially phrased services, together with a handwritten book of his own expositions of various texts, and l. They knew they were standing on solid ground, backed by the soundest, reverent scholarship of the ages.PFF4 671.2

    Hawley stressed the promises and the prophecies of God as the basis of their faith-the coming personal reign of Christ, the premillennial advent, the preparatory events, and the evidence that it is soon to begin. Let us again listen in, as the Scriptural basis is effectively given. Stalwart strokes against postmillennialism arc struck. The clerical scoffers are named and their weaknesses pointed out, as Hawley says:PFF4 672.1

    “Dowling has written speciously yet unfairly, and therefore without great effect; Smith had written sneeringly; Campbell feebly; Bush paradoxically; the Universalists bitterly; all ineffectually.” 24Silas Hawley, The Second Advent Doctrine Vindicated, pp. 60. 61. Then the convincing evidences of the prophecy of Daniel are marshaled with the touch of a master hand-the four world empires, the Roman fourth, the ten horn-divisions, the papal Little Horn, the horn of the eighth chapter, and the length of the prophetic time periods. These, he asserts, are thePFF4 673.1

    “only points of doubt or dissent involved in the system we advocate. If we are sustained in these by the best and highest authorities of the religious world, all must see that the system does not rest on slight or insufficient grounds.” 25Ibid., pp. 71, 72. Hawley then proceeds to show, with inexorable logic, that every major position advocated is held by revered and noted expositors, past and present, the Little Horn, the Papacy, the 1260 days as years, and likewise the 2300 days as years. Here are the seven fundamental points covered:PFF4 673.2


    This has had the general consent of the Jewish and Christian churches for more than eighteen centuries. Among the Jews are listed the writers of the Targum, Josephus, Abravanel, Kimchi, et cetera, and in the early Christian church, Hippolytus, Trenaeus, Chrysostom, Cyril of Jerusalem, Lactantius, Jerome. Of later Reformation and post-Reformation scholars are noted Luther, Mede, Sir Isaac Newton, Thomas Newton, Hales, Scott, Clarke, Watson, Lloyd, Daubuz, Brightman, Faber, Noel, and in fact practically every Protestant commentator. 26Ibid., pp. 74, 75. On all these expositors, under the seven points, see previous volumes of Prophetic Faith.PFF4 673.3


    That this “horn” is the Papacy is the view of virtually the “whole Protestant world.” Again Mede, the Newtons, Scott, Daubuz, Hurd, Jurieu, Fleming, Lowman, Clarke, Croly, Home, Watson, Noel, and Cuninghame are cited in corroboration.PFF4 673.4


    That this is likewise Rome is supported by Luther, Sir Isaac Newton, Prideaux, Home, Clarke, Hopkins, Cuninghame, and others.PFF4 674.1


    That the symbolic day stands for the literal year is attested by Mede, the Newtons, Faber, Prideaux, Clarke, Scott, Wesley, and practically all noted expositors. Even the unfriendly Moses Stuart, critic of Andover, is quoted as admitting-PFF4 674.2

    “IT IS A SINGULAR FACT THAT THE GREAT MASS OF INTERPRETERS in the English and American world, have, for many years, been wont to understand the days designated in Daniel and the Apocalypse, as the representations or symbols of years. I have found it difficult to trace the origin of this general, I might say, ALMOST UNIVERSAL CUSTOM.” 27Ibid., p. 77.PFF4 674.3


    This decree of the seventh year of Artaxerxes Longimanus (“according tozra seventh, B.C. 457”) has “long been considered by commentators to be a settled point; and it probably would not now be disputed, were it not for a desire to avoid the conclusion to which it brings us, on the supposition that it is the beginning of the 2300 days.” 28Ibid., pp. 77, 78. The date “according to Ezra seventh” evidently means the marginal date; the authors cited agree on the seventh year of Artaxerxes, not all on 457 B.C. On “so settled a point” the testimony of Home, Prideaux, Clarke, Watson, Howel, Scott, and Cuninghame are adduced.PFF4 674.4


    On this point opponents who agree on the preceding five points do most of their questioning. Yet this also is similarly sustained by noted scholars, as well as by the literal meaning of the Hebrew-to cut off, or cut out. The vision of the 70 weeks was given to enable Daniel to understand the matter and consider “the vision,” previously given, as Messiah was to be “cut off” for His people. The 70 weeks must therefore be cut off from the 2300 days, as their first part. Gill, Hengstenberg, and Gesenius so render it, and various Hebrew scholars are cited. Bush, as well as Joseph Wolff, declares they are the first part of the 2300. So also Dr. Joshua Wilson, contemporary Presbyterian authority of Cincinnati, and many others, he adds.PFF4 674.5


    Here Hawley asserts that the Papacy, “symbolized by the little horn, rose by virtue of the decree of Justinian, and not that of Phocas, or any other ruler, or power.” This decree, “though issued in A.D. 533, did not, as we conceive, go into full effect until 538, when the enemies of the Catholics in Rome were subjugated.” For this he summons as competent witnesses Croly, Noel, Cuninghame, King, and the then-current Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (Fessenden’s), article, “Antichrist.” Hawley then avers that their positions are sustained by the “highest authorities of the religious world.” Therefore, he asserts, we are not “novel, fanatical, and heretical,” but are supported by “the most distinguished talent and extensive learning, the highest ornaments of the church, and the best standard expositors.” 29Ibid., pp. 82, 83. The impression was profound.PFF4 675.1

    The conclusion cannot be resisted, he declares, that the “end is at hand.” Having established the extent of the prophetic field, the length of the prophetic times, and the dates from which to reckon them, “all must concede that the present period is that which is to witness the grand termination of all earthly things.” As the Jews have not yet been able to dispose of the 70 weeks in relation to Christ’s first advent, neither, he insists, are Christian opponents today able to dispose of the 2300 years.PFF4 675.2

    “Though he tarry beyond a given time, let us daily watch. We may be fully assured that the great principles on which our faith and hope are based, are true, AND WILL ABIDE FOREVER.” 30Ibid., p. 92.PFF4 675.3

    Here again this comprehensive coverage of past exposition, as well as of contemporary writers on prophecy, is seen in Hawley’s marshaling of the evidence. It is another evidence of the wide reading and thorough investigation on the part of such scholarly men concerning the foundations of their prophetic faith. Theirs was obviously not a shallow search. They did not draw haphazard or hasty conclusions, but were familiar with the past 31The collection of books assembled by the Millerites at their Boston headquarters contained a remarkably large assemblage of Reformation, post-Reformation, and early nineteenth-century expositors of prophecy. Those acquainted with the ground covered in Volumes II and III of Prophetic Faith will be impressed with the familiarity and conscious oneness of the Millerite leaders with these put prophetic interpreter. In the British post-Reformation period they had copies of Mede, Tillinghast, Beverley, Goodwin, More, Fleming, Burnet, the two Newtons, Swan, “R.O.” (Richard Overton). Nathaniel Homes., Willett, and Blair, Ferguson, and Hales (the chronologists), as well as Jurieu, Faber, Bicheno, Towers, Heylyn, Ussher, Henry, and Scott. In the earlier American period, there were Lathrop, Kinne, Spaulding, Marsh, Imri, Austin, Boudinot, Bray, Mr. Farland; and in nineteenth-century times, Cuninghame, Frere, Noel, Hooper, Bickersteth, Pym, Cox, Brooks, Irving, Duffield, Shimeall, Thomas, Orrin Rogers, and others. (h ese have been personally examined.-L. E. F.) They were consciously and confidently the perpetuators of the sound interpretation of the early church, then of the Reformation church, and now under their own study they felt they were but continuing and carrying to consummation the enduring principles of the centuries, that they were simply in the line of succession.PFF4 676.1

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