The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 3


Part II - Nineteenth Century Old World Advent Awakening

CHAPTER FIFTEEN: Nineteenth Century Revival of Prophetic Study

I. New Advent Awakening Becomes Impelling Force

As we turn back again to the Old World, and enter the portals of the nineteenth century in our quest for its witnesses on prophecy, a swelling chorus of voices becomes discernible. As the years pass, it is increasingly apparent that prophetic interpretation has entered upon a new and unfolding era. Interpreters gather up the neglected and rather generally forsaken positions of the Reformation writers, and draw upon the testimony of the early centuries, as they stride toward the climax of systematic prophetic exposition. PFF3 263.1

In each past epoch of obviously fulfilling major prophecy a host of witnesses have always appeared in different lands and languages to give their testimony. So in this new epoch we find them again, this time writing in English, Spanish, French, German, and Swedish, in the various countries of both the Old World and the New. A definite conviction develops that man kind has entered a new epoch-the era of the last things, the time of the end. Here, then, we have hope of finding the goal of our quest of the centuries. PFF3 263.2

The French Revolution was like the explosion of the long-pent-up forces of a volcano. The papal church and state were suddenly torn from their foundation and overwhelmed in the common ruin. The sudden and violent shock sent the Protestant church back to the prophecies. The exploits of Napoleon, with his attack on the Papacy and his temporary suppression of the Roman government, led many to wonder whether he were not the willful king of Daniel 11:36. The Napoleonic struggle, which for years absorbed the energies of Europe, came to a halt. It was the birth time of invention and of sharp advances in science. A secret dissatisfaction was spreading over society. A spirit of inquiry was abroad in the very air. PFF3 263.3


Following upon the dominant place occupied by prophetic interpretation in the great Protestant Reformation century, had come the gradual breakdown and abandonment of the generally held Historical School positions on prophecy. These convictions had centered in the thesis that the Papacy of history was the Antichrist of prophecy. This growing repudiation was the aftermath of the Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation, with its clever counter-interpretation, adroitly set forth to parry the incriminating force of Protestant exposition. PFF3 264.1

The gradual acceptance by one group of Protestants of the Preterist Catholic scheme of interpretation-which had crowded all fulfillment back into the early centuries of the Christian Era -was matched by the boring inroads of Protestant rationalism, and its strangely revolutionary attitude toward the integrity and authority of Scripture, and its prophetic portions. So it came to pass that this second breakdown in interest and confidence in prophecy, now among Protestants, spread over Europe. PFF3 264.2

Meantime, inquiry into prophecy and its further development and understanding was confined to a narrow line of ardent students whose writings have fortunately been left for us, as disclosed in Volume 2. This period of general apathy was like the enveloping darkness that oppresses shortly before the break of day. There was now a deepening conviction that those expositors who, for more than a hundred years, had pointed to France as the scene of momentous events to occur about the end of the eighteenth century, and which would have disastrous effects upon Catholicism, had evidently had substantial prophetic ground for their expectations. PFF3 264.3


Prophecy offered a key that might unlock the complex situation of the times. The study of prophecy-which had been the strength of the martyrs, the inspiration of the Reformers, and the support of the true witnesses of the centuries-was again revived. PFF3 265.1

In the early years of the nineteenth century, prophetic exposition was of a more general and vague character, such as G. S. Faber’s Dissertations (1806). 1 But about 1812 the re-study of prophecy began to take on more definite shape. Lacunza’s book had just been published in Spanish. In 1813 William Cuninghame’s Dissertations on the Seals and Trumpets was issued, dating the 1260 years from the Code of Justinian to the French Revolution and the Code of Napoleon, which superseded the previous code. In 1815 J. H. Frere sent forth his Combined View, which came to have a leading place in one wing of the Historical School of prophecy group. In 1816 Lewis Way’s Letters and Bayford’s Messiah’s Kingdom appeared-Bayford later, however, becoming a prominent member of the Catholic Apostolic Church. 2 PFF3 265.2

It is not without significance that in England, the very land which in the eighteenth century gave birth to the ruinous Whitbyan postmillennial theory, the counteracting antidote of pre-millennialism was revived in strength in the early nineteenth century. Postmillennialism had swept like a desolating flood over the Protestant churches, causing men to postpone the day of the Lord. To this had recently been added the pestilence of infidelity which reached its climax in the French Revolution. Now a vigorous counteraction had begun to set in. PFF3 265.3

With the renewed interest in prophecy, a far-reaching religious awakening rapidly took form and force in Great Britain, both within and outside of the Established Church. It spread to the European Continent and touched Asia Minor, Northern Africa, and Asia. Baptist, Wesleyan, and Anglican missionary societies sprang up. The British and Foreign Bible Society was 1916 1817 1818 18B 1820 1621 1822 1623 1824 1825 1826 1827 1828 I 182“:‘CLIMAX of PROPHEHC INTE:IN 19(tm) CENTURY SECOND ADVENT(RESTORATION AND COMPLET ON OF ARRESTED POSITIONS OF 2300 YEARS THE FOCAL POWILLIAM MILLER^^^^^^ MILLERS HECLARATIOT TWO-YEAR PERIOD STAHTLINC CONCLUSIONS OF F MTH ~ *OF STUDV REACHED4Z^^“2Srj,” DAV^’’”””””’ ACIVENT AWAKENING IN ERITAIh V° OL 3 “WOF LD CONTINE------1 ...1..-^gri^g!.,, ____ IflbsLSL JESS- S”H*!JE ““WORTH,.ML il’/lir””1”lit 1M7 IBM 1819 1820 1021 16ZZ 1823 1824 1825 1826 1827 1628 US Only the First Halt of Chart No. 2 Is Here Shown, Which in Its Entirety Covers Not Only the Nineteenth-Century Old World Advent Awakening but the New World Advent Movement a Well, With the 2300 Years as the New Focal Point of Study in Each. This Portion Indicates the Chronological Relationship of the British and European Awakening on Prophecy (Lower), to the Paralleling Beginning of Miller’s Public Labors in America (Upper). In the European Section the Leading Organizations, Conferences, and Periodicals Between 1816 and 1844, Which Are organized in 1804, with parallel movements on the Continent and in North America-those of the Old World slightly pre ceding the stirrings of the New. In it all the rebirth of the advent hope, coupled with an intensive restudy of the prophecies, supplied the new incentive to the recently launched missionary endeavor. A new epoch was under way. PFF3 265.4

Only the First Half of Chart No. 2 Is Here Shown, Which in Its Entirety Covers Not Only the Nineteenth-Century Old World Advent Awakening but the New World Advent Movement as Well, With the 2300 Years as the New Focal Point of Study in Each. This Portion Indicates the Chronological Relationship of the British and European Awakening on Prophecy (Lower), to the Paralleling Beginning of Miller’s Public Labors in America (Upper). In the European Section the Leading Organizations, Conferences, and Periodicals Between 1816 and 1844, Which Are Only Indicated Here, Appear in Detail on a Later Chart. The Remaining Half of the Chart Depicts the Full Development of the American Advent Movement. That, However, Is Reserved Reserved for and Covered by the Next and Concluding Volume in the Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers Series. The Slight Repetition of Those Portions of the Chart Nearest the Separating Space Between the Pages Is to Facilitate the Reading of Each Page. The Purpose Is to Afford An Over-All Picture. The Great Reduction Renders the Smallest Lettering Illegible.
page 266


By voice and pen and study group the tidings of the near advent spread in ever-widening circles. More than a hundred important books on the premillennial advent and the prophecies appeared in the first four decades of the new century. Powerful preachers proclaimed the good news from prominent pulpits. Many local sermons, which have been preserved in printed form, warn that “the day of the Lord is near-the Judge eternal is coming! Prepare to meet thy God.” 3 PFF3 266.1

One significant characteristic of this advent literature was the custom of placing a quoted Scripture text on the title page of the book, pamphlet, or tract. These were often as significant as the treatises themselves. Among the oft-repeated favorites were, “Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come,” “Behold, He cometh with clouds,” “Behold, the Lord corneth with ten thousands of His saints”-and many other related sentiments. PFF3 267.1

Old World men like Brown, Cuninghame, Frere, Mason, Way, Begg, Pym, Noel, Bayford, Habershon, Nolan, Vaughan. Hooper, Brooks, Tudor, Wolff, Keyworth, White, Addis, Irving, Park, Croly, Bickersteth, Birks, Elliott, and a host of others with whom we will shortly become acquainted, told it forth in published form. Its amazing extent is visualized and can be grasped from the chart of Old World Interpreters of Prophecy in the nineteenth century on pages 270 and 71. Several organizations and at least ten periodicals were launched in its support. Prophetic study groups and conferences were held in England, Scotland, Ireland, and France. The great advent awakening drew forth this comment from the contemporary essayist and historian, Thomas B. Macaulay (1800-1859) 4 Educated for the bar, Macaulay turned to writing. Then he entered Parliament, becoming secretary of the Board of Control, and later legal adviser to the Supreme Council of India. Again returning to Parliament, he became Secretary for War, meantime writing his History of England. After a period as Paymaster General, he finally served again: PFF3 267.2

“Many Christians believe that the Messiah will shortly establish a kingdom on the earth, and reign visibly over all its inhabitants. Whether this doctrine be orthodox or not we shall not here inquire. The number of people who hold it is very much greater than the number of Jews residing in England. Many of those who hold it are distinguished by rank, wealth, and ability. It is preached from pulpits, both of the Scottish and of the English church. Noblemen and members of parliament have written in defence of it.” 5 fully through Catholicism to call attention to the predictions of Daniel and John, after having been silenced so long by force. PFF3 268.1


Even more remarkable than the Protestant revival of emphasis upon the approaching advent was the rising of pre-millennial voices in the very bosom of the Catholic Church itself. Pere Lambert, learned Dominican scholar in southern France at the turn of the century, renounced the papal theory of the millennium while yet in the church, and published an eloquent defense of the coming reign of Christ. And Manuel Lacunza, noted Spanish Jesuit of Chile and Italy, better known under the assumed name of Juan Josafat Ben-Ezra, abandoning the teachings of Bellarmine and Bossuet, gave to the world the celebrated Venida del Mesias en Gloria y Magestad (Coming of the Messiah in Glory and Majesty). This so fired the soul of Edward Irving that he translated it into English for the benefit of the rising advent cause in Britain. PFF3 268.2

Lacunza had concluded that the “false prophet” was the corrupted Catholic priesthood, and the apocalyptic Harlot the apostate Rome, while Lambert likewise believed that apocalyptic Babylon symbolized papal Rome and its priesthood. Thus in Catholic countries like France, Spain, Italy, Mexico, and throughout South America, fulfilling prophecy moved forcefully through Catholicism to call attention to the predictions of Daniel and John, after having been silenced so long by force. PFF3 268.3


The advent awakening in the Old World slightly ante dated the rise of the distinctive advent movement in America, which did not really begin to gather momentum until about 1838. But the Old World awakening never became an integrated movement. It was strongly individualistic. There was little unification of position by the leaders. While there were warnings and entreaties, there was no general break or withdrawal from the churches. It was primarily an awakening. The development went so far and then stopped, and began to wane. It was like the glorious dawn that precedes the full glow of the morning sun, but it faded out before the high noon of the distinctive movement of these latter days filled the heavens of the New World. PFF3 269.1