The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 2


CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR: King James I Turns Prophetic Expositor

I. Preview of the PostReformation Characteristics

During the Post-Reformation period of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries literally hundreds of Protestant commentaries, large and small, appeared in Britain, the European continent, and for the first time in the New World. Notwithstanding varying degrees of clarity and perception, there was, nevertheless, remarkable unity on the essentials. These expositors did vastly more than answer the specious countersystems of the Jesuits. They built an increasingly solid and symmetrical system, which was progressively developed and perfected by investigation and experience—a system sealed and demonstrated by an ever-growing correspondence with the continuing course of events. PFF2 533.1

With the exception of relatively few, like Grotius and Hammond, who adopted Catholic Preterism, all held the Historical School of interpretation, as to general outline. And several notable advances marked the century. There was now, for ex ample, almost complete agreement that the fifth and sixth trumpets represented the Saracens and Turks. Other advances will be noted as we progress. PFF2 533.2

From the fifth century onward the binding of Satan, as introducing the millennium, was regarded by the Catholics as a past event. Earlier Protestants retained a similar interpretation, with the outbreak of persecution at the close of the Middle Ages considered as the loosing of Satan for a little season, prior to the great judgment day. The church of the Middle Ages had believed herself living in the millennial period. But by the middle of the seventeenth century the period had so lengthened that this idea was hard to uphold. A basic change in the thinking of Protestantism took place, as the futurity of the thousand years of Satan’s binding, introduced by a literal resurrection of the saints at the advent, again became a fundamental of sound interpretation. And so the last of the determining factors of sound interpretation 1 was reinstated. PFF2 533.3

Before the world was aware, the backbone of the Lateran theory was broken. The millennial thousand years, again established as future, were bounded by the two literal resurrections. Thus the medieval Augustinian position was at last flanked and turned, and the pretended kingdom of Christ on earth was seen to be but the “Babylonian Empire of Antichrist.” Various creedal symbols and Confessions of Faith appeared based solely on the Bible. PFF2 534.1

There was also a gradual recognition of the vital place occupied by the 2300 year-days, and for the first time the 70 weeks were connected with the 2300 days. The coming destruction of the earth by fire was once more stressed. Unhappily, extremism and fanaticism likewise came in again to blight—in England among the Fifth Monarchy men. And the religious wars had a definite bearing on the state of interpretation. PFF2 534.2

Because of the number of expositors and commentators, only the leading writers who make a definite contribution can be presented in detail, minor contributions simply being noted. We begin with a survey of the British expositors, then follow with the German, French, Dutch, and Swiss, reserving the seventeenth-century American writers largely for Volume III, as the background of the great American advent and prophetic awakening of the nineteenth century. The English writers were, happily, rather insulated from the constant bickerings of the Lutheran and Reformed churches. PFF2 534.3