The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 2


CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE: Eighteenth Century Marked by Contrasting Developments

I. Advances Countered by Serious Retrogressions

The eighteenth century-which completes the scope of Volume II—was a climactic period, witnessing the recognized close of one of the greatest of the prophetic time periods. It was a century of extreme contrasts. The seeds of the Jesuit Preterist counterinterpretation sprang up and began to bear their evil fruit of acceptance among German rationalists, and thence to similar groups in England and America. Furthermore, no sooner had premillennialists repudiated the false Augustinian theory of a past millennium, than postmillennialism, introduced among Protestants by a Protestant, swept like a scourge over a large percentage of the churches. And coupled to this was the tragedy of bitter reaction against all Christianity, false and true, as the insidious principles of infidelity and atheism reached their climax in the French Revolution. PFF2 640.1

On the other hand, the ending of the 1260 year-day period took place—anticipated for a full century by a line of expositors who believed France might be the instrument to accomplish it. Prophetic students on three continents watched for and recognized the fulfillment, which they duly attested. Prophetic interpretation in the hands of able men in Britain, France, and Germany—and now in America—continued to advance. Errors were corrected, and new principles were discerned. The great Lisbon earthquake—sign of the approaching end was clearly recognized. And just before the close of the century men in two different lands independently arrived at the identical conclusion that the 70 weeks of years are the first part of the 2300 year-days. Such were the prophetic high lights of this new century which we now enter. PFF2 640.2


After the establishment of Protestantism by the English Revolution of 1688, came the expansion of Britain, the rise of America, the revival of religion, and the dawn of world-wide missions. Under the Peace of Ryswick (1697), between William of Orange and Emperor Leo I, there were various stipulations favorable to the standing of England. But in particular it marked the beginning of a new era of civil and religious liberty. More over, entry upon this new era had a profound effect upon prophetic interpretation. Fresh fulfillments of prophecy were recognized, and advanced study followed. Current progress in science, philosophy, and theology was reflected in prophetic exposition. PFF2 641.1


The tracing of prophetic interpretation from the eighteenth century onward becomes more complex. But by holding in mind the three basic schools of interpretation now operating, the analysis is still relatively simple: (1) The Historical School continues on strongly, strengthening and perfecting its interpretation; (2) the Jesuit Preterist School begins to be adopted seriously by an increasing group of Protestants; and (3) the Jesuit Futurist School, generally held among Catholics, becomes more aggressive, but is not adopted by any Protestant group until early in the nineteenth century. PFF2 641.2


If these three schemes are kept in mind, it will be easy to trace developments. Once an expositor is cataloged, it is a relatively simple matter to know what he believes on all major points, as those who hold to the respective schools run rather true to pattern. Thus the Historical School expositor will apply the year-day principle to all time periods, whereas this will be denied by the other two schools. Likewise, the Historical School holds the Papacy to be the prophesied Antichrist, and such is denied by the other two schools. The discussion will begin with England. PFF2 641.3