The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4


From the Author to the Reader

I. The Climax of Centuries of Antecedent Preparation

The majestic cathedrals that adorn the Old World were not the work of a few short years, but were the result of generations of laborious effort. Centuries usually elapsed between the laying of the foundation stones and the completion of the towering superstructures, Such massive creations were inevitably a slow, painstaking task. The foundations were laid with great care and characterized by solidity. Deep excavations reached down to the solid bedrock on which they were built. And the extensive work of erection that followed was so painstaking and thorough that the results were most impressive and enduring. PFF4 9.1

Thus also with the second advent hope, based on Bible prophecy and eventuating in the great Second Advent Movement of the nineteenth century, popularly yet often contemptuously known as Millerism,* and now before us for study. Millerism was not a cause but a consequence. Its participants held that it was not a new, spontaneous development—not an isolated, independent, irrational, unrelated phenomenon, mushrooming to the surface at that time. They maintained, instead, that it was the inevitable outcome of two thousand years of solid preparatory backgrounds, perceptions, and cumulative fulfillments in the field of prophecy. PFF4 9.2

Its leaders profoundly felt that, logically and historically, it had to be; just as verily as the great Reformation of the sixteenth century had at that time to be—because the appointed hour had come, in the divine plan of the ages, for it to appear and give its destined witness. And of this the Reformers in their day were similarly conscious. They considered themselves to be men of destiny, men with a mission, acting under the guidance of an All-wise Providence, a product of prophecy. PFF4 9.3

In a similar way, the Millerite movement of the nineteenth century was considered, by its proponents, to be the climax and consummation of the progressive exposition of prophecy that had been steadily unfolding across the centuries. The great Second Advent Movement cannot be explained on any merely social, psychological, economic, or organizational grounds. It partook of the nature and spirit of a great Christian crusade, with its rootage deep in the long past. PFF4 10.1

It was considered to be a new Reformation; or more accurately, the resumption and consummation of the arrested Reformation of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries—It was timed for the closing scenes of the Christian dispensation. And an undeniable power and fervor attended it that was dynamic, often sweeping all irresistibly before it It constituted the climax of centuries of preparation in advent expectation and witness. It was regarded as the unrolling of the final segment in the great prophetic scroll of the ages. PFF4 10.2

To the nineteenth century, then, we now turn. In Volume III the extensive Old World Advent Awakening of the early decades of the century that penetrated and surcharged all religious groups has been surveyed. The similar New World Advent Awakening that developed into a full-fledged movement will now be considered. We shall first note, in Part I, the general awakening on prophecy, with its expositors scattered throughout the various religious bodies—an interdenominational development. Then in Part II, the spectacular Millerite movement will be unfolded, which drew into its orbit hundreds of stalwarts from these various denominations—individual heralds of the advent and prominent expounders of Bible prophecy. PFF4 10.3

And, finally, in Part III the aftermath of that development will be surveyed, tracing the persistence of the premillennial concept and the Historicist view of prophecy, that eventuated in the rise of one segment that has assumed significant proportions and expanded over the globe in ever-widening circles. The centrality of the second advent hope in the Christian faith, and its vital and inescapable relationship to the great first advent truth and fact, thus becomes the central truth of these latter times. An Epilogue will sketch the persistence of premillennialism in the decades following. PFF4 10.4