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The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4

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    II. Early Expositions in Smith’s Formative Period

    Uriah Smith, doubtless the greatest writer and editor of the Adventists in their formative years-and he grew up with the movement-made his first contribution in the interpretative field in 1853. This, as mentioned, took the form of an imposing poem portraying successive instances of prophetic fulfillment. His early expositions will be briefly noted here. Then a digest of his mature, full-rounded expositions will follow, as appeared in his comprehensive verse-by-verse commentary.PFF4 1112.1


    In an early issue of the Youth’s Instructor, Smith contributed a series of nine Sabbath school lessons. He describes the tabernacle and its appurtenances, which included the Ten Commandments within the ark, covered by the mercy seat. Next the sanctuary service is surveyed, and its two great divisions studied. These embrace its daily sacrificial ministrations throughout the year and the climactic yearly service on the Day of Atonement, involving the cleansing of the sanctuary-and finally the banishing of the scapegoat. This entire solemn ritual is explained by Smith as the type or symbol of the heavenly sanctuary, where Christ is now our ministering Mediator, after having become our all-sufficient Sacrifice on Calvary. Then He began the first phase of His heavenly priesthood, which lasts until the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary, typified by the Day of Atonement service at the end of the 2300 years, reckoned from the joint starting point of the 70 weeks in the autumn of 457 B.C., that is, the autumn of A.D. 1844.PFF4 1112.2

    The treading down of the sanctuary he explains as the pope “turning away the worship of men from the temple of God in heaven to his own sanctuary at Rome.” Since Christ has been ministering before the ark of God’s law, the third angel, says Smith, has been flying with the last message of mercy, call ing men to obey God’s law and avail themselves of Christ’s atonement for them. Then after the atonement, typified by the cleansing of the sanctuary, is finished, the sins that have already been atoned for will be placed on the head of their author, Satan, who will be bound and imprisoned in the bottomless pit for the thousand years. Soon Christ’s mediation will be ended, and the vials will be poured out. The third angel, with the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, points out the way of escape.” 6Sabbath School Lessons, Youth’s Instructor, August, 1853, pp. 87-93. (Author named on p. 96.)PFF4 1113.1


    A series of expositions of Daniel 2, 7, and 8, appeared as articles beginning October 31. They were put into pamphlet form in 1855. These followed the Historical School pattern, now standard throughout the Adventist ranks. Originality is frankly disclaimed with these words:PFF4 1113.2

    “In hastily preparing the articles on Daniel 2 and 7, we have followed the excellent arrangement of Geo. Storrs, in his work published in 1843, and in regard to the four kingdoms, we have more or less copied his language.” 7Review and Herald, Nov. 14, 1854, p. 108.PFF4 1113.3

    While Smith was a creative writer, he was a discriminating reader and collator of the widely accepted expositors of the past, and of contemporaries such as Storrs, Litch, Croly, and Keith, who are cited liberally in his own expositions. These were obviously his guiding sources and his first authorities, as their lists of the ten horns, the three that were plucked up, the outline of Daniel 11, et cetera, reappear in part in Smith’s own “Thoughts on the Book of Revelation” and “Thoughts on the Book of Daniel,” when first printed in abbreviated serial form in the Review, and later issued in book form. 8Commenting on the title, when Smith’s “Thoughts” on the Revelation appeared, James White said, “These thoughts are not the fruit of one brain. In the time of the end the Revelation was to be unsealed and opened. And from the open book, light has been shining. Mr. Miller saw much. Others have since seen more. And this book contains more.” And White adds, “This is a book of thoughts, clothed in the author’s happy style, plain, yet critical and practical,” and he calls it the “standard work.” (James White, “Report From Bro. White,” Review and Herald, July 16, 1867, p. 72.) So he built sturdily upon prior strong foundations.PFF4 1113.4


    From the very first the Huns were included as one of the ten kingdoms, and Smith never changed his list:PFF4 1114.1

    “The Western empire of Rome, between the years A.D. 356 and 483, was divided into ten divisions, or kingdoms. 1. The Huns, in Hungary, A.D. 356. 2. The Ostrogoths, in Mysia, 377. 3. The Visigoths, in Pannonia, 378. 4. The Franks, in France, 407. 5. The Vandals, in Africa, 407. 6. The Sueves and Alans, in Gascoigne and Spain, 407. 7. The Burgundians, in Burgundy, 407. 8. The Heruli and Rugii, in Italy, 476. 9. The Saxons and Angles, in Britain, 476. 10. The Lombards, in Germany, 483. Thus the kingdom was divided as designated by the ten toes.” 9James White, “Exposition of Daniel 2:31-44,” Review and Herald, Oct. 31, 1854, p. 93 (also reprinted April 9, 1857, p. 177; March 9, 1869, pp. 84, 85).PFF4 1114.2


    The Papacy was seen as intermingled with the clay of civil power during the medieval and modern centuries. This was a significant point, for the Papacy was thus included in Daniel 2:PFF4 1114.3

    “The Roman or iron power, through the influence and authority of Papacy, or Papal Rome, stretched itself among the clay so as to be mixed with it, and thereby kept up the strength of iron.” 10Ibid., Oct. 31, 1854, p. 93.PFF4 1114.4


    Here is a segment of Storrs’s discussion in the next article on the three horns uprooted:PFF4 1114.5

    “In the year of our Lord 493, the Heruli in Rome and Italy were conquered by the Ostrogoths. In 534, the Vandals, who were under Arian influence, were conquered by the Greeks, for the purpose of establishing the supremacy of the Catholics. The Ostrogoths, who held possession of Rome, were under an Arian Monarch, who was an enemy to the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome; hence, before the decree of Justinian, (a Greek emperor at Constantinople,) could be carried into effect, by which he had constituted the Bishop of Rome head of all the churches, the Ostrogoths must be plucked up. This conquest was effected by Justinian’s army in the month of March, 538; at which time, the Ostrogoths, who had retired without the city, and beseiged it in their turn, raised the siege and retired, leaving the Greeks in possession of the city; thus the third horn was plucked before Papacy, and for the express purpose too of establishing that power.” 11James White, “Exposition of Daniel VII,” Review and Herald, Nov. 14, 1854, p. 109.PFF4 1114.6

    6. 1260 YEARS-FROM A.D. 538 TO 1798

    The Little Horn was first reckoned to be from Justinian’s imperial letter of A.D. 533, establishing the primacy of the bishop of Rome. On this the imperial rescript is quoted from Croly. Then Rome’s deliverance from the Goths in 538 opened the way for the pope to exercise the power bestowed. So the placement of the 1260 years was given as from 538 to 1798. 12Ibid.PFF4 1115.1


    The continuation on Daniel 8 and 9 follows the well worn path of now standard interpretation. The Persian ram and Grecian he-goat are followed by the conspicuous horn, Rome, not Antiochus Epiphanes. And on the interrelationship and dating of the 2300 years and 70 weeks of years, the established interpretation of the Millerite seventh-month movement-like European writers before them—is meticulously followed. 13James White, “Daniel Chapters VIII and IX,” Review and Herald, Nov. 21, 1854, p. 116. The “daily” is not brought under particular discussion. 14In this series of notes on Daniel there is no identification of the “daily” of chapter 8 (Ibid., p. 117). Daniel 8:11 is not even quoted. In 1858 the “Synopsis of Present Truth, No. 12” in presenting “The 1290 and 1355 Days” (Jan. 28, p. 92), virtually duplicates J. N. Andrews position (Jan. 6, 1853, p. 129), citing the same extracts and adopting the positions of Josiah Litch, William Miller, and Apollos Hale, with their” two desolations,” “two hosts,” and “two sanctuaries,” of Daniel 8:9-13. In the first verse-by-verse exposition in his review series—“Thoughts on the Book of Daniel”—in 1870, Smith declares, “‘By him,’ the papal form, the daily, the pagan form, was taken away. Pagan Rome gave place to papal Rome. And the place of his sanctuary, or worship, the city of Rome, was cast down. The seat of government was removed to Constantinople.” (Uriah Smith, “Thoughts on the Book of Daniel,” Review and Herald, June 28, 1870, p. 12.)The fact that James White personally regarded the sanctuary that was trodden underfoot as the heavenly sanctuary of Christ’s ministry (see p. 1063), shows the tolerant and liberal attitude on what they considered details of lesser importance that were not vital issues. On fundamentals they were united and emphatic, but there was no particular stress of the “daily” in these early decades, and no disturbance over varying views among Adventist leaders.PFF4 1115.2


    Holding, as late as 1862, to the view of the Papacy as the power of the latter part of Daniel 11, Smith quotes a news dispatch concerning the Holy Land, which ends: “It is said that such a scheme as this intelligence shows to be in course of development, points to the realizing of Pio Nono’s Favorite plan of removing the seat of the Papacy to Jerusalem).” Smith then remarks in an editorial, “Will the Pope Remove the Papal Seat to Jerusalem?“: “Is not the above then significant, taken in connection with Daniel 11:45?” 15Uriah Smith, Review and Herald, May 13, 1862, p. 192. For the first sixteen years of his editorial connection with the Review, Smith held this power to be the Papacy. (See •‘Waning of the Pope’s Power,” April 18, 1865, p. 157; “Italy and the Papacy,” Jan. 9, 1866, p. 45; “The Papacy,” Sept. 11, 1866, p. 116.)’ But in 1871. in his “Thoughts” on Daniel” articles, he changed his view to that of Turkey. (Ibid., March 28, 1871, p. 117.)PFF4 1115.3

    Such were some of Smith’s earlier thoughts and expositions. On the three angels’ messages the standard Sabbatarian exposition of the time is given, 16Uriah Smith, “The Cleansing of the Sanctuary,” Review and Herald, Oct. 2, 1855, pp. 53, 54. the first announcing the beginning of the judgment in the holy of holies. Smith retained his own personal belief concerning the Godhead, maintaining that God the Father alone is without beginning, 17Uriah Smith, Thoughts ... on the Book of Revelation (1875 ed.), pp. 15, 16; see also his Looking Unto Jesus, p. 10. and the complementary belief that the Holy Spirit is an influence rather than a person.” 18Uriah Smith, Looking Unto Jesus, p. 10. On these points he differed from many of his brethren at the time, and from the general teaching of the denomination as it. came to be dearly declared. Seventh-day Adventists believe in the Holy Spirit as the “Third Person of the Godhead,” and in the “Eternal Son of God, as equal with God, infinite and omnipotent ... the eternal self-existent Son.” 19See Evangelism, 613-617; Church Manual (1951), p. 50; 1954 Yearbook of the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination, p. 4.PFF4 1116.1

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