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The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4

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    IV. James White’s Early Convictions on Prophecy

    Having been through the Millerite movement, White was one of the earliest investigators and interpreters of prophecy following the Disappointment, with articles appearing first in the Day-Star of 1845-1846. And in A Word to the “Little Flock/’ which he wrote and compiled (1847), his expositions demonstrate how in this transition hour many revisions on details were already being made.PFF4 1060.3


    White was about the first of the group who, in sharp contrast with prevailing views in the Millerite movement and general concept, in both Europe and America, placed the plagues in the future, not the past. On “The Seven Last Plagues” he says:PFF4 1060.4

    “For more than one year, it has been my settled faith, that the seven last plagues were all in the future, and that they were all to be poured out before the first resurrection.” 5James White, A Word to the “Little Flock,” p. 1.PFF4 1061.1


    Under “The Time of Trouble” he discusses the Papacy in the latter part of Daniel 11.PFF4 1061.2

    “That Jesus rose up, and shut the door, and came to the Ancient of days, to receive his kingdom, at the 7th month, 1844, I fully believe. See Luke 13:25; Matthew 25:10; Daniel 7:13, 14. But the standing up of Michael, Daniel 12:1, appears to be another event, for another purpose. His rising up in 1844, was to shut the door, and come to his Father, to receive his kingdom, and power to reign; but Michael’s standing up, is to manifest his kingly power, which he already has, in the destruction of the wicked, and the deliverance of his people. Michael is to stand up at the time that the last power in chap. 11, comes to his end, and none to help him. This power is the last that treads down the true church of God: and as the true church is still trod[d]en down, and cast out by all Christendom, it follows that the last oppressive power has not ‘come to his end;’ and Michael has not stood up. This last power that treads down the saints is brought to view in Revelation 13:11-18. His number is 666. Much of his power, deception, wonders, miracles, and oppression, will doubtless by [be] manifested during his last struggle under the ‘seven last plagues,’ about the time of his coming to his end. This is clearly shadowed forth by the magicians of Egypt, deceiving Pharoah [sic] and his host, in performing most of the miracles, that Moses performed by the power of God. That was just before the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage; and may we not expect to see as great a manifestation of the power of the Devil, just before the glorious deliverance of the saints? If Michael stood up in 1844, what power came ‘to his end, and none to help him,’ ‘AT THAT TIME’?” 6Ibid., pp. 8. 9. White consistently held the Papacy to be the power indicated in Daniel 11:45, the same as William Miller. From this position he never changed. See his “Where Are We?” Review and Herald, Oct. 3, 1878, p. 116; and “The Time of the End,” Signs of the Times, July 22, 1880, p. 330. But he, like various writers, for a time connected the number 666 with the second beast (see also Otis Nichols’ chart), though later with the first beast.PFF4 1061.3

    So in 1847 the distinction between the two beasts of Revelation 13 had not yet been worked out.PFF4 1061.4

    3. Revelation 13 TO 14:1-5 Is CONSECUTIVE

    White’s “Thoughts on Revelation 14” discusses the sequence and continuity of events in Revelation 13 and 14.PFF4 1061.5

    “The 13th chapter of Revelation, and the first five verses of the 14th, is one connected chain of past, present, and future events, down to complete redemption of the 144,000.” 7Ibid., p. 10.PFF4 1062.1


    The message of the three angels he considered of primary importance.PFF4 1062.2

    “The 6th verse [of Revelation 14] commences a series of events, relative to the successive messages of holy advent truth. All classes of second advent believers agree, that the angel brought to view in the 6th and 7th verses of this chapter, represents the advent message, to the church and world.... The work of the second angel, was to show to the advent host that Babylon had fallen. And as a large portion of them did not learn this fact, until the power of the MIDNIGHT CRY waked them up, just in time for them to make their escape from the churches, before the 10th day came on; it follows, that the second angel brought us to the 7th month, 1844. The third angel’s message was, and still is, a WARNING to the saints to ‘hold fast,’ and not go back, and ‘receive’ the marks which the virgin band got rid of, during the second angel’s cry. And has not the true message for God’s people, since the 7th month 1844, been just such a warning? It certainly has.” 8Ibid., no. 10, 11.PFF4 1062.3

    However the “mark,” or “marks,” of the beast are not yet sharply defined.PFF4 1062.4

    “Some tell us that Babylon here, is the Roman Catholic church; but God’s people were not in that church. The first message was to the churches, from about 1840 to 1843; and the second angel ‘followed,’ therefore the message—‘Babylon is fallen’—‘Come out of her my people’ was in 1844.—We heard it with our ears, our voices proclaimed it, and our whole being felt its power and with our eyes we saw its effect, as the oppressed people of God burst the bands that bound them to the various sects, and made their escape from Babylon.” 9“The Third Angel’s Message,” The Present Truth, April, 1850, p. 66.PFF4 1062.5

    5. BEAST AND 1260 YEARS: FROM 538 TO 1798

    There was no variation of view as to the first Beast and his special allotted period. It was ever and always the Papacy:PFF4 1062.6

    “The Papal beast that was to ‘make war,’ and ‘wear out the saints of the most High,’ 1260 years, from 538 to 1798 is the one mentioned by the third angel. The image beast has come up since that time, and both will be on the stage at the pouring out of the vials of God’s wrath in the great day of the Lord.” 10Ibid. The “image beast” was still a matter of study. A specific interpretation of its identity was just dawning upon them.PFF4 1062.7


    All the Sabbatarians stood adamant on the dating of the 2300 years:PFF4 1063.1

    “A school boy, that can add and subtract, can see that if the seventy weeks commenced B.C. 457 as shown by the ‘Herald,’ the 2300 days certainly terminated in 1844. It was oft repeated in 1843, ‘FIGURES WON’T LIE.’ This is as true in 1850, as it was in 1843.PFF4 1063.2

    “Jesus caused the ‘sacrifice and oblation to cease’ in the ‘midst’ [middle] of the seventieth week by ‘nailing it to the cross’ in the spring of A.D. 31. To this add three years and a half, the last half of the seventieth week, and it brings us to the autumn of A.D. 34 for the termination of the seventy weeks, [490 years]. Then add 1810 years, the last part of the 2300, which reach to the cleansing of the sanctuary, and it brings us to the autumn of 1844.” 11Present Truth, May, 1850, p. 78 (brackets in the original). The “Herald” refers to a preceding extract from the Advent Herald, March 2, 1850; the same extract is also quoted in the Review and Herald, December 1850, p. 14.PFF4 1063.3


    White stood solidly with Crosier on the heavenly sanctuary as the one trodden underfoot (Daniel 8:11-14) when the “daily” was taken away. And from this he never veered. Because of this, his position is therefore recorded with some fullness:PFF4 1063.4

    “Those that teach that ‘the promised land’ is the Sanctuary must, therefore, admit that the words ‘trodden under foot,’ and ‘trodden down,’ are figurative expressions, and mean that the promised land has been overrun with ‘the wicked agents of its desolation.’ Then they should not object to our using the expressions figuratively, in applying the words ‘trodden down’ [Isaiah 63, 18] to the typical Sanctuary, and the words ‘trodden under foot’ [Daniel 8:13] to ‘the true Tabernacle’ or ‘Sanctuary’ in heaven.PFF4 1063.5

    “It may be said that the heavenly Sanctuary is not ‘capable of being trodden under foot.’ But we ask, is it not as capable of being, trodden under foot as ‘the Son of God,’ who is the ‘MINISTER’ of the same Sanctuary? Says Paul:PFF4 1063.6

    “‘Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath TRODDEN UNDER FOOT THE SON OF GOD, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of Grace.’-Hebrews 10:29.PFF4 1063.7

    “We say, then, that the Sanctuary in heaven has been trodden under foot in the same sense that the Son of God has been trodden under foot. In a similar manner has the ‘host,’ the true church, also, been trodden down. Those who have rejected the Son of God have trodden him under foot, and of course have trodden under foot his Sanctuary.PFF4 1063.8

    “The Catholic Church have trodden under foot, not only the ‘Holy City,’ but the Sanctuary, and its Minister, or Priest, ‘the Son of God.’ Rome has been called ‘the Holy City,’ and the ‘Eternal City,’ which can only be said of the City of the living God, the New Jerusalem.PFF4 1063.9

    “The Pope has professed to have ‘power on earth to forgive sins,’ which power belongs alone to Christ. The people have been taught to look to ‘the man of sin,’ seated in his temple, or as Paul says—’so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God,’ &c.—instead of looking to Jesus, seated at the right hand of the Father, in the heavenly Sanctuary. In thus turning away from Jesus, who alone could forgive sins, and give eternal life, and in bestowing on the Pope such titles as MOST HOLY LORD, they have ‘trodden under foot the Son of God.’ And in calling Rome the ‘Eternal City,’ and the ‘Holy City,’ they have trodden down the City of the living God, and the heavenly Sanctuary. The ‘host,’ the true church that have looked to Jesus in the true Sanctuary for pardon of sins, and eternal life, has, as well as their Divine Lord and his Sanctuary, been trodden under foot. Yes, the true worshipers have been rejected and persecuted, and some of the brightest ‘stars,’ or gospel ministers, in the church have been ‘stamped upon’ by the little horn.” 12James White, Editorial, “Our Present Position,” Review and Herald, January, 1851, pp. 28, 29. (Brackets in the original.)PFF4 1064.1

    So in 1851 James White held the unvarying position that the treading down of the sanctuary and the taking away of the “daily” typified the daring career of the Little Horn of Daniel 8. He also remarks that those Protestants who rejected the idea of the heavenly sanctuary and applied it to the holy land must, in order to be consistent, allow a typical sanctuary, since they believe in a figurative treading underfoot.PFF4 1064.2


    By 1851 White was convinced” that the second, or two horned, beast of Revelation 13 was a symbol of the United States, with its Protestant and Republican characteristics.PFF4 1064.3

    “We confess that we know not where to look for this beast with its two lamb-like horns, but in our own country. The rise of our own nation, with its two leading principles, Protestantism and Republicanism, answers the prophetic description of the beast ‘coming up out of the earth’ having ‘two horns like a lamb.’” 13James White, Editorial, “The Angels of Revelation 14,” No. 1, Review and Herald, Aug. 19, 1851, p. 12.PFF4 1064.4

    “The two LAMB-LIKE horns. The mildness and youth of this power seem to be indicated by its lamb-like horns. These, we understand, represent the civil and religious powers of this nation—its Republican civil power, and its Protestant ecclesiastical power.” 14Ibid., No. 4, Dec. 23, 1851, p. 69.PFF4 1064.5


    The Image and its tyrannical acts were also clear:PFF4 1065.1

    “As the two-horned beast causes the image to be made, and gives it life, we conclude that it can be no other than the Protestant churches clothed with authority ‘to speak,’ as the Papal church has done and to carry its decrees into execution by laws and severe penalties.” 15Ibid., p. 70.PFF4 1065.2

    10. Revelation 18:14 MESSAGE YET FUTURE

    To White the Revelation 18 repetition of the “Babylon” message of Revelation 14:7 was still future, but represents a time of further rejection of truth.PFF4 1065.3

    “In our last we gave some reasons for believing that the nominal churches of the present day are the Babylon of Revelation 14:8; 18:2, and that her fall is a moral change, and not her final destruction. We now design to point out that fall, and show that Revelation 14:8 and 18:1-4, do not represent one and the same message, but that Chap. 14:8 applies in the past, and that the message of Chap. 18:1-4 is yet to be given.” 16James White, Editorial, “Babylon,” Review and Herald, June 24, 1852, p. 82 [i.e., 28].PFF4 1065.4


    Great running “to and fro” before the end was a searching back and forth in prophecy, and the increase of knowledge was of prophecy, and the sending forth of the message of the approaching advent:PFF4 1065.5

    “‘Many shall run to and fro.’ This was to be fulfilled in the time of the end, when the prophecy of Daniel should be unsealed, and knowledge should be increased relative to the end of the wonders.—With this knowledge, which is the truth relative to the coming and kingdom of Christ, many of the servants of God have, for the last twelve years, run to and fro in the land to proclaim the glad tidings that Christ was coming. In 1843 and 1844, there were several hundred ministers from the different churches, devoting their whole time to this subject; besides as many more who had never before preached, who left their farms, shops and stores to proclaim the coming of the Lord. And as they went out on their heavenly mission from city to city, and from town to town, they crossed each other’s track, as they ‘ran to and fro’ to sound the alarm.” 17James White, “Signs of the Times,” Review and Herald, Aug. 11, 1853, p. 55. See Appendix A.PFF4 1065.6


    The three messages of Revelation 14, he says, were perceived as the time of their application or promulgation became due:PFF4 1065.7

    “When the first message of Revelation 14, was being given, what did we know of the second and third? We had no just views of them. When they became present truth, all was made plain. Now to engage in a full exposition of the fourth and fifth messages of Revelation 14, we should probably commit as many errors as those who attempted an exposition of the third message twelve years since. Then let us concentrate our efforts on the present message, and do the work God requires of us as a people at this time.” 18James White, “Unfulfilled Prophecy,” Review and Herald, April 3, 1855, p. 204.PFF4 1066.1


    The sequence of the last events before the advent was a matter of earnest study and increasing conviction. The new earth was dear to his heart:PFF4 1066.2

    “The Throne of the Fifth Universal Kingdom will be in the New Jerusalem, the metropolis of that Kingdom, hence when Christ is united to that Throne, he receives the City as the Capital of the Kingdom, therefore in the marriage of the Lamb, the Holy City is represented as the Bride.PFF4 1066.3

    “Christ receives the title and office of King, and receives the Throne, and the Capital of the Fifth Kingdom, which is called the marriage of the Lamb, before his second coming to destroy his enemies, and raise from the dead, and change to immortality, the subjects of the Kingdom. To this agrees the word of the Lord, as we shall now show.” 19James White, “The Marriage of the Lamb,” Review and Herald, Feb. 21, 1856, p. 165.PFF4 1066.4


    White gave wholesome counsel against attempting to prophesy or prognosticate on unfulfilled prophecy before it comes to pass. This was particularly true of the Eastern question. He later wrote:PFF4 1066.5

    “But in exposition of unfulfilled prophecy, where the history is not written, the student should put forth his propositions with not too much positiveness, lest he find himself straying in the field of fancy.PFF4 1066.6

    “There are those who think more of future truth than of present truth. They see but little light in the path in which they walk, but think they see great light ahead of them.PFF4 1066.7

    “Positions taken upon the Eastern question are based upon prophecies which have not yet their fulfillment. Here we should tread lightly, and take positions carefully, lest we be found removing the landmarks fully established in the advent movement. It may be said that there is a general agreement upon this subject, and that all eyes are turned toward the war now in progress [in 1877] between Turkey and Russia as the fulfillment of that portion of prophecy which will give great confirmation of faith in the soon loud cry and close of our message. But what will be the result of this positiveness in unfulfilled prophecies should things not come out as very confidently expected, is an anxious question.” 20James White, Editorial, “Unfulfilled Prophecy,” Review and Herald, Nov. 29, 1877, p. 172.PFF4 1066.8

    15. PAPACY THE LAST POWER OF Daniel 11

    The year following White repeats his position at the General Conference of 1878 and, following his impressive succession of “if’s,” comes to certain emphatic conclusions. Differing from Smith’s later views on the latter part of Daniel 11, he found a distinct parallel between this chapter and Daniel 2, 7, and 8. White’s position in 1877 and his line of reasoning are as follows:PFF4 1067.1

    “Let us take a brief view of the line of prophecy four times spanned in the book of Daniel. It will be admitted that the same ground is passed over in chapters two, seven, eight, and eleven, with this exception that Babylon is left out of chapters eight and eleven. We first pass down the great image of chapter two, where Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome are represented by the gold, the silver, the brass, and the iron. All agree that these feet are not Turkish but Roman. And as we pass down, the lion, the bear, the leopard, and the beast with ten horns, representing the same as the great image, again all will agree that it is not Turkey that is cast into the burning flame, but the Roman beast. So of chapter eight, all agree that the little horn that stood up against the Prince of princes is not Turkey but Rome. In all these three lines thus far Rome is the last form of government mentioned.PFF4 1067.2

    “Now comes the point in the argument upon which very much depends. Does the eleventh chapter of the prophecy of Daniel cover the ground measured by chapters two, seven, and eight? If so, then the last power mentioned in that chapter is Rome.” 21Ibid.PFF4 1067.3

    And again, in a General Conference session sermon almost a year later, he said:PFF4 1067.4

    “There is a line of historic prophecy in chapter eleven, where the symbols are thrown off, beginning with the kings of Persia, and reaching down past Grecia and Rome, to the time when that power ‘shall come to his end, and none shall help him.’ If the feet and ten toes of the metallic image are Roman, if the beast with ten horns that was given to the burning flames of the great day be the Roman beast, if the little horn which stood up against the Prince of princes be Rome, and if the same field and distance are covered by these four prophetic chains, then the last power of the eleventh chapter, which is to ‘come to his end and none shall help him,’ is Rome. But if this be Turkey, as some teach, then the toes of the image of the second chapter are Turkish, the beast with ten horns of the seventh chapter represents Turkey, and it was Turkey that stood up against the Prince of princes of the eighth chapter of Daniel. True, Turkey is bad enough off; but its waning power and its end is the subject of the prophecy of John and not of Daniel.” 22James White, “Where Are We?” Review and Herald, Oct. 3, 1878, p. 116. (From sermon on Sabbath preceding General Conference session.)PFF4 1067.5

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