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The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4

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    I. Nine Point Platform of Sabbatarian Adventists


    They sought to restore and re-establish the various historical principles and applications that had once held sway’ during the aggressive years of the Protestant Reformation, but which a later divided and compromising Christendom had largely let slip, as it began to accept-perhaps unwittingly-either the Futurist or the Preterist counterinterpretations, and later to adopt the fascinating Whitbyan postmillennial theory of gradual world betterment, increasingly popular and prevalent among Protestants, with Porphyry’s Antiochus Epiphanes theory concerning the Little Horn of Daniel 7 as another favorite diverting device. All these later departures the Sabbatarian pioneers steadfastly repudiated.PFF4 1049.2

    (Left to right) James White, Vigorous administrator and pioneer editor; Joseph Bates, Forthright pioneering preacher; and John Nevins Andrews, Scholarly writer and first foreign missionary. These three led the way. (See also page 1093)
    Page 1051
    PFF4 1051


    They sought to retain and apply all the sound and demonstrated principles of the Historical School of interpretation still held by various individual scholars in the Christian world of the mid-nineteenth century. This included many men outside the Millerite movement, as well as within, and embraced Old World expositors as well as New. Such positions, for example, included as basic the standard view of the four world powers of Daniel 2 and 7, with Rome as the fourth, Rome’s division into ten lesser kingdoms, the emerging Papacy as the Antichrist, the year-day principle for the 1260 year-days, and related prophetic time periods. These, and the paralleling outlines and time periods in the Apocalypse, were regarded as axiomatic, and foundational to all exegesis. These formed the groundwork and setting for all subsequent applications.PFF4 1051.1


    They sought to carry through to their logical conclusion and application those final phases, or segments, of the great outline prophecies that had been gradually unfolded. The progressive fulfillments had been recognized contemporarily during the course of the centuries—not only Rome, when pre-eminent, followed by Rome’s division, and the period of papal Rome’s special spiritual dominance, forcibly interrupted at the close of the French Revolution, but also the 2300 days. Many noted scholars in many countries during the early decades of the nineteenth century taught the ending of the 2300 year-days about 1843 or 1844, with some epochal event believed destined to come to pass, or at least to begin, about that time. In the early part of the Christian Era these last-day events had all been regarded as future, with advancing developments progressively perceived through the centuries. However, the Adventists felt that they had now entered upon the final segments of the great prophetic outlines, which called for contemporary recognition and emphasis of these final phases.PFF4 1051.2


    They progressively revised, clarified, and corrected details of prophetic interpretation concerning events of the latter days which had been prematurely or hastily adopted in the past, but which were now perceived as out of harmony with the basic principles and outlines-and which time alone and greater perspective could rectify. This included such features as the time placement of the seven last vials, as all still future, the identity and location of the two-horned beast of Revelation 13, the meaning of the “mark” of the Beast, the identification of Laodicea, and similar items.PFF4 1052.1


    They then sought to harmonize and synthesize all the component prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation, so part would fit logically and properly with part, and each individual prophecy parallel or integrate with the other prophecies, thus forming a systematic whole-much like a comprehensive harmony of the four Gospels or the interrelationship of various doctrines in a well integrated systematic theology. Thus all features or details were to be brought into a harmonized whole. No single outline prophecy, or time period, was considered independent or unrelated to the rest. And none, therefore, were to be timed or placed without due regard to the rest. This was one of the most difficult aspects of their entire expositional endeavor. (See illustrative diagram on pp. 1128, 1129.)PFF4 1052.2

    Such a perfecting and harmonizing task, designed to preserve balance and symmetry, was a delicate matter, requiring avid knowledge of historical backgrounds and a broad grasp of the over-all picture and the historical development of interpretation. Uriah Smith was particularly adept at this, as we shall soon note, drawing the soundest expositions from the ablest sources of the years and bringing together in one coordinated whole the product of scores of the strongest interpreters of the past whose works were justly revered and available. The resultant harmony of the prophecies appeared in his Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation. It was not a patchwork, but a skilled piece of expositional architecture, which, after nearly a century, is still regarded as a conspicuously able and balanced exposition, calling for remarkably little revision, either in rugged outline or even of essential detail, considering the lapse of time and the progressive understanding and fulfillment of prophecy in the decades that have elapsed.PFF4 1052.3


    The Sabbatarian Adventists sought to differentiate between basic primaries, or essentials in prophecy, upon which there was clear evidence and general agreement, and those minor details, or secondaries, upon which there were bound to be, and actually were, divergent views. And they sought to keep the primaries ever in the forefront as common ground, while holding the nonessentials in abeyance in the background for time and more complete fulfillment to clarify. Such items included the precise identity of the seven heads, and the eighth head, in Revelation 13 and 17, and the exact list of the ten horns, and others not yet fully agreed upon.PFF4 1053.1


    They sought increasingly to find and present Christ as the central figure and dynamic force of all prophecy. They looked upon the national and international, or secular, aspects of the great outline prophecies as merely the framework and setting, the staging in and through which the great redemptive acts of God in the divine drama of the ages are clearly portrayed. They considered prophecy as the revelation of the foreknowledge and control ling hand of God in the affairs of men, revealing the only true philosophy of history and constituting the only sound portrayal of the destiny of man and the universe. The first and second advents were clearly focal points of time and eternity, and Christ was central in it all.PFF4 1053.2


    They looked upon prophecy as the inspired portrayal of the age-old conflict between good and evil; and, back of that, of the personalized war between Christ and Satan for the winning of the human race. Prophecy was to them the inerrant depiction of the great controversy between truth and error throughout the centuries and of the paralleling struggle between the true church and the great apostasy in the church, leading to the ostracism and persecution of the former and the exaltation and dominance of the latter-these following inexorably on to the final conflict, which is to end in the eternal triumph of righteousness and truth at Christ’s impending second advent.PFF4 1054.1


    They believed that the consummation of the conflict in the last days involved, first of all, the recovery and reinstatement of all lost, forgotten, and forsaken truth. Many of these truths had been partially covered over or obscured by the accumulated debris of error. They firmly believed that the recovered gems of prophetic truth were to be reset, and would again assume their rightful place in the frame work of the everlasting gospel, from which they had been dislodged. And thus restored, they would give the everlasting gospel a strength and a winsomeness of appeal destined to attract the minds of honest truth seekers who perhaps would not respond to any other approach. And thus they would definitely help to prepare a people for the coming King and kingdom of God.PFF4 1054.2

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