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The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4

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    II. Examples of Prophetic Application

    One of the first expositors to incorporate the meteoric showers (and the “dark days”) into a system of prophetic interpretation mentions a series of these events:PFF4 1217.2

    “Such a clay of darkness [as that of May 19, 1780, in New England] has never been known, so far as I can learn from history, (and I have searched for it most diligently,) since the crucifixion of our Saviour. There have been several such events since, in different countries....PFF4 1217.3

    “The sign in the stars is, that ‘the stars shall fall from heaven as a fig-tree casteth her untimely figs when shaken of a mighty wind.’ Revelation 6:13, and Matthew 24:29. Has such a phenomenon taken place? The remembrance of the shower of meteors, on the night of Nov. 13, 1833, is fresh in the minds of the present generation. The scene could not be more truly described than it is by the Revelator. Such a scene I find described as having occurred in 1779 [i. e. 1799], 47The reference is obviously to Humboldt’s account. The erroneous date 1779 may have been derived from the notice in the Essex Register of Salem, Massachusetts, Nov. 18, 1833, which printed the mistake. on the 12th of November, and as having been visible from South America to Germany and Greenland.... This was the earliest shower of meteors, of any considerable magnitude, I can find on record.... There are several instances of the kind on record since that. Indeed, the 12th and 13th of November seem to be their anniversary.” 48Josiah Litch, Prophetic Expositions, vol. 1, pp. 151, 152, 154, 155. Elsewhere, among quotations he includes these sentences from Olmsted: ‘A similar phenomenon was witnessed on the 12th of Nov. 1799, and at the same season of the year in 1830, 1831, and 1832. The meteoric shower was repeated on the morning of Nov. 13th or 14th, for several years, but on a scale constantly diminishing until 1838.’” (Ibid., vol. 2, p. 237.)PFF4 1217.4

    A later writer following the same sort of exposition deals with natural causes, repetition, timing, etc. He repeats a common quibble and then answers it:PFF4 1218.1

    “‘It [the “falling of the stars”] took place according to nature, and consequently there was nothing in it.... If the falling of the stars in 1833 was a fulfillment of Matthew 24, then it had been fulfilled a great many times since its prediction by the falling of meteors.’PFF4 1218.2

    “REMARKS.—The attempt is made to dispose of the darkening of the sun in 1780 in a similar manner. That can constitute no sign of the end, it is said, because many such events have taken place, in different ages of the world. But the fact that that darkening was connected with particular events, takes it completely out of the hands of our opponents. ‘Immediately after the tribulation of those days’ (the 1260 years of Papal persecution), or as another Evangelist has it, ‘In those days, after that tribulation,’ the sun shall be darkened, &c. The tribulation was shortened by the rise of the Reformation, the time arrived for the accomplishment of that prediction and it was fulfilled. Now it matters not if the sun has been darkened a thousand times in past ages of the world, that darkening which was to constitute a sign of the end was to take place at that time, and there it did take place.... So with the falling of the stars. The phenomenon of Nov., 1833 was the most remarkable of any of that kind on record. It was foretold in connection with the darkening of the sun and moon. And so we find it following right on in that great series of events by which nature herself seems, as it were, to have been appointed to herald forth to mankind the approaching restitution of all things.” 49Editorial in The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Jan. 29, 1861, p. 84. The writer is evidently Uriah Smith, the “Resident Editor.” The “Corresponding Editors” sign their initials, but this is signed “Ed.”PFF4 1218.3

    Another emphasizes the timing under the sixth seal:PFF4 1218.4

    “The events which follow the great earthquake under the sixth seal are the special signs, in the sun, moon, and stars....PFF4 1218.5

    “The prophetic description of the falling of the stars met a literal fulfillment in the meteoric shower of Nov. 13, 1833, which was unlike any other on record in appearance, extent, and magnitude.” 50James White, “Signs of the Times.—No. 2,” Review and Herald, Jan. 8, 1880, p. 19.PFF4 1218.6

    Still another expositor incorporates the return shower of 1866:PFF4 1218.7

    “When speaking of the darkening of the sun in 1780, and the falling stars of 1833, in America, we are often met with the inquiry, ‘If these were signs of Christ’s coming, why have they not been given in other parts of the world?’ Our Saviour said, ‘There shall be signs in the sun.’ ...PFF4 1218.8

    “Of the falling stars we learn ... there is in our solar system a vast nebulous substance 51The words nebulous and nebulae are not technically correct. The encyclopedia cited by this writer may have given Olmsted’s original hypothesis of a “nebulous body.” before the nature of the Leonid “ring” was understood. (See Olivier, Meteors, pp. 26, 27.) which throws off a stream of meteors. It has been ascertained that these nebulae have now a regular orbit around the sun, and that it requires about thirty-three and one-fourth years to traverse their orbit. Once in about thirty-three years, our earth passes near the nebulae, when there is visible what astronomers have called the ‘star-shower.’ It has been conjectured upon good grounds, that the meteoric storm [swarm?] was originally a vast mass of nebulous matter, drawn into the solar system by the distinct action of some of the larger planets, in the same manner as Lexell’s comet had been thrown into a new orbit....PFF4 1218.9

    “The approach of the nebulae to our system was first noted in 1766, and again in 1799; but the first brilliant and distinct display of the ‘star-shower’ was on Nov. 13, 1833....PFF4 1219.1

    “Our Saviour predicted such an exhibition of falling stars which should follow after the darkening of the sun. He did not say how this would be accomplished, but only stated the fact....PFF4 1219.2

    “The falling stars which were witnessed on so grand a scale in America Nov. 13, 1833, fell, to a less extent, in the Eastern Continent on Nov. 13, 1866....PFF4 1219.3

    “It will readily appear to our readers [from the newspaper extracts cited] that there is a great contrast between the display of falling stars of Nov. 13, 1833, and that of Nov. 13, 1866; both as to the extent of territory covered, and the number of falling stars visible at any one time....PFF4 1219.4

    “The recurrence of the ... star-shower in 1866 gave the inhabitants of the Eastern Continent an opportunity to see, on a limited scale, falling stars.” 52J. N. Loughborough, “Signs of the Sun and Stars,” Review and Herald, Dec. 4, 1883, pp. 756, 757.PFF4 1219.5

    A much later review of the subject refers to timing, repetition, and natural causes:PFF4 1219.6

    “The question is sometimes raised, Why were the signs in the sun, moon, and stars, as foretold by our Saviour, seen only by the dwellers in the United States?PFF4 1219.7

    “It is worthy of note that at the proper time to fulfil the specifications of prophecy these signs were seen in various parts of the world....PFF4 1219.8

    [The article cites the “dark day” of May 19, 1780, a lesser but much more extensive darkening of the sun for many weeks in 1783 over Europe and beyond, two dark days in Canada in 1785, one in France in 1788.]PFF4 1219.9

    “On these dark days the predictions of Scripture regarding the darkening of the sun came to the minds of many....PFF4 1219.10

    “So long as these dark days occurred at the time specified by the prophecy, need we contend that they were supernatural? ...PFF4 1219.11

    “We can only conclude that be the cause what it may, supernatural or natural, these dark days were, like the great darkness which enshrouded Egypt, a manifestation divinely foreseen and divinely foretold....PFF4 1219.12

    “The same conclusion may be reached regarding the falling of the stars, which was the next sign foretold by Christ after the darkening of the sun and moon. The first star shower of the magnitude that has been witnessed within these last days was on the night of Nov. 12, 1799....PFF4 1219.13

    “A splendid meteoric shower was witnessed in Europe on Nov. 12, 1832....PFF4 1219.14

    “‘But the most sublime phenomenon of shooting stars of which the world has furnished any record, was witnessed throughout the United States on the morning of Nov. 13, 1833....’PFF4 1219.15

    “As was the case during the dark days, many who witnessed these brilliant spectacles thought of the words of the Scripture referring to the event.” 53D. E. Robinson. “The Wide-Spread Occurrence of the Signs in the Heavens,” Review and Herald, July 24, 1913, p. 701. 702. For mention of a series of star showers, see also William A. Spicer, Our Day in the Light of Prophecy, pp. 94, 99-102.PFF4 1220.1

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