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The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4

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    I. “Evangelical Magazine” Medium for Prophetic Discussion

    As part of the new religious awaking, the Connecticut Missionary Society was organized in 1798, one of its aims being to evangelize the northwest frontier 1Ludlum, op. cit., pp. 41-43. 134 The Connecticut Evangelical Magazine, interdenominational but predominantly Calvinistic, followed in 1800, as its publicity medium. And this became one of the pioneer forums for the American discussion of prophecy. Two other early journals will be similarly noted—the Christian Observer (Anglican) of Boston, which started in 1802, and the Herald of Gospel Liberty (Christian), launched in 1808, which likewise constantly stressed Bible prophecy.PFF4 134.2


    A series of articles “On the Eleventh Chapter of the Revelation” appeared in the April, May, and July, 1803, issues of the Connecticut Evangelical Magazine-signed “Peregrinus,” so evidently not editorial. These present the standard exposition of Daniel 7, held by the early church, listing the first and fourth world powers of Daniel 2 and 7 as Babylonia and Rome, with Medo-Persia and Grecia obviously understood. The two phases of the Roman fourth empire, pagan and papal, correspond to the great red dragon of Revelation 12 and the beast of RevelationPFF4 135.1

    2. THE 2300 YEARS TO END BY A.D. 2000

    The August, 1803, issue contains an “Analysis of the Book of Daniel,” signed”. “It likewise presents Daniel 2 as outlining the “rise and fall of the four great monarchies which were to precede the coming of Christ, and the appearance and kingdom of the Son of God.” The depiction of chapter 7 covers the rise and fall of the same standard successive empires. The eighth chapter leads similarly through Persia, Alexander’s empire and its division, and the Seleucid despotism (the king of the north), which is a type of the New Testament Antichrist. This oppression of the Jews begins the profanation of the temple, or the church of God, for 2300 years, terminating near the year 2000, when the “Savior will take the kingdom, subdue his enemies, and reign forever and ever.”PFF4 135.2

    The 70 prophetic weeks, or 490 year-days of Daniel 9, reach to “the exact time of his [Christ’s first] coming,” while the remaining chapters of Daniel present conflicts that look forward to the “still more dreadful oppressions of the new testament antichrist,” and bring us to the standing up of Michael, or Christ, for the deliverance of His people. The discussion closes with a “conclusion,” in which it is stated that the millennium “will appear in its glory, at or before the year two thousand.” A revolution greater than any in the succession of the four world empires is the climax of the great conflict between light and darkness, which is believed to be at the door, if not already begun. The specifications of the sixth vial are held to describe events that mark the beginning of the nineteenth century, and yet the hopeful signs are the revivals and the missionary movements.PFF4 135.3


    A few pages farther on another article on Revelation 20:5, 6, signed “Hemera,” discusses the millennium and the first resurrection. The book of Revelation is divided into distinct periods, and the thousand years of Revelation 20 is one of them. The first resurrection is presented as merely figurative—“a universal revival of religion, consequent upon an antecedent spiritual death,” and again as the adding of “thousands and millions of new converts,” until “religion should be universally prevalent over the whole earth,” while Satan is bound. This writer does not point to the revivals and missionary spirit of his time as the harbinger of this, but many at that time were making such an application. The resurrection of “the rest of the dead “is the rise of Gog and Magog at the end of the millennium, and only the third resurrection, at the end of the world, is literal.PFF4 136.1


    “Peregrinus” writes again (November, 1803, and January, February, and August, 1804), giving “An Explanation of the Prophecy of Daniel.” There is further detailed discussion of the four prophetic symbols of Daniel 2 and 7, the Babylonian, Persian, Macedonian, and Roman powers, but especially of the Roman fourth, which is declared to be identical with the ten-horned beast of Revelation 13, with its ten divisions corresponding to the toes in Daniel 2. The Little Horn is declared to be the papal Antichrist, persecuting and blaspheming for its allotted period, and the judgment scene is the grand finale, followed by Christ’s peaceful and righteous reign on earth, and His glorious and everlasting kingdom in heaven.PFF4 136.2

    In the third installment, in January, 1804, “Peregrinus” presents arguments used for and against the Antiochus Epiphanes theory of Daniel 8, but argues for the application to Rome. Suggesting the 2300 days as years, from the fourfold division of Alexander’s empire to about the year 2000, he really expects the explanation to be made clear at the time of the fulfillment. Daniel 11 and 12, discussed in February, he considers a continuation of Daniel 8. Applying the closing up and sealing of the words, he declines to attempt an explanation of the 1290 and 1335 days. That is for the future.PFF4 137.1


    In August he reverts to the 70 weeks, which he places (without giving precise dates) between the seventh year of Artaxerxes and the cross, when the Jews ceased to be God’s special people. Continuing with a summary of the fulfilled prophecies of the book, he points to events of his own day as evidence that the judgment is already sitting to take away Antichrist’s kingdom and that the stone is even now smiting the image and filling the earth. He closes with an appeal for “holy exertions” as the appointed means of promoting the Lord’s cause in the world, in the assurance that in due time He will appear in glory and make Zion “a joy and praise in the earth.”PFF4 137.2

    6. ANGELS OF Revelation 14 Now GIVING MESSAGES In the July, 1809, issue application is made, by an anonymous writer, of the angelic messages of Revelation 14:6-8-the first angel flying in the midst of heaven with the everlasting gospel for all mankind of every land, saying, “Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come,” and the second declaring, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen.” The searching question

    is then asked, “When was this prophecy to be fulfilled? Hath been in time past, or is the fulfilment now commenced, and to continue through a series of years to come?” And the answer is given clearly: “That spiritual Babylon is now falling by the prevalence of infidelity, and the awful scenes of war which convulse Europe, no man can doubt, who is acquainted with the history of the world, and the church 2Connecticut Evangelical Magazine, July, 1809, p. 267.PFF4 137.3

    The logical deduction is made that, in time sequence, the first angel flies before the second, and therefore “the event must take place before the final fall of Babylon, which will directly precede the millennial glory of the church.” And the anonymous writer adds that “the present is distinguished by many signs from all former periods”—the wicked conduct of men who have become instruments of Satan, who is wrathful because he knows he has but a short time; and also the fact that “that part of the church, which hath maintained purity of doctrine and decency of manners,” is “animated with a new spirit for the propagation of Christian knowledge” among the heathen. Then follows the luminous sentence: “Very dark and trying events may intervene between these glimmerings of light, and the meridian shining of the sun of righteousness thro’ the world.”PFF4 138.1

    And finally, after asserting that “the formation of Missionary and Bible Societies, on the large scale now attempted, is new in the Christian world”—the one traversing the world to preach the name of Jesus, while the other is placing the pure Word into the hands of the populace out to the ends of the earth—this article remarks that it is strange that through many ages past men had done so little in this line. The conclusion is impressively drawn that “perhaps, this is the most sure omen of the time being near when the glory of Zion shall fill the earth,” and that Christians should cheerfully aid “pious institutions designed for this purpose!”PFF4 138.2


    A little later the November, 1813, issue reports another sermon before a Hartford County Missionary Society by NEHEMIAH PRUDDEN. He sees in the new spirit, inspiring the contemporary European and American Missionary and Bible societies, a fulfillment of the symbol of the flying angel of Revelation 14:6, 7, having the everlasting gospel to preach to all the world and heralding the coming of God’s judgment. It will fly, he says, until the world is won to Christ, including pagans and Jews, and is united under one Shepherd. The time of the angel’s flight Prudden locates as just preceding the fall of papal Rome, the historical “Beast” power of the Middle Ages. The Papacy has fallen into vassalage to France, but the Mystery of Iniquity still works, and the bearers of the mark of the secular beast now feel the wrath of God. The bondage of the saints will end with the 1260 years of the papal Beast (606-1866), but the angel is flying prior to the end of that period. So Prudden is still another in the growing chorus of voices believing the symbolic angel had begun its flight.PFF4 138.3


    One last example must suffice. The September, 1815, number has an unsigned editorial headed, “On the Application of Prophecy to Passing Events.” The value of the prophecies, as set forth, might be defined as threefold: They were designed (1) to confirm faith and be a support in affliction, (2) to deepen our attachment and fidelity to God’s service, and (3) to be a perpetual shield against the assaults of infidelity, by confirming the message of God. Scripture abounds with prophecy that removes “the veil from futurity” and declares things to come. Most prophecies have already been fulfilled. Others are yet to be accomplished. Their object is to fix the attention of men on God and His government. “Most of ancient history is occupied with” the four world powers of the Assyrian, Persian, Macedonian, and Roman empires, and Daniel portrays their rise and fall so clearly that none can honestly avoid the application. And the government of God is vitally concerned in it all.PFF4 139.1

    Every age has seen the fulfillment of some prophecy. John continues the narrative beyond where Daniel leaves it, at the millennium, and leads us on to the end of the world. Many of these “chronological prophecies” continue from the time of utterance to the end of the world. Prophecies are now fulfilling before our eyes, the writer declares, and history is indeed the “mirror of prophecy.” He stresses the idea that prophecies are understood as they are fulfilled, and cautions against attempting to apply specific prophecies to events of the future. Even contemporary events, he adds, tend to be overrated, and cannot be fully understood until afterward. He cautions against the popular millennial expectations of immediate conversion of the world, and the attempts to fit Napoleon into prophecy.PFF4 139.2

    Thus the golden thread of prophetic application runs through the various volumes of the Connecticut Evangelical Magazine, at the outset of the century. Prophecy had again become the common study of a large number of the clergy. And the minds of men in general were being definitely influenced by this increased study of prophecy.PFF4 140.1

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