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"We believe that when he shall appear we also shall appear with him
in glory — we shall be like him — we shall see him as he is."

Every century since he left the earth has expected him. The many
allusions to this most glorious of all events found in the apostolic
writings, have kept this hope alive in every age; and from the figura-
tive and literal descriptions of it in time, place, and circumstance,
many misapprehensions and mistakes have been diffused through
society, occasionally to the mortification of the more enlightened of
the community of the faith, and sometimes to the general discredit
of the profession.

There is still a prevailing idea that the inculcation and persuasion
of his immediate return would greatly tend to the conversion of sin
ners and to the sanctiflcation of the faithful. To me, I confess, there
has never appeared much reason for this conclusion, nor much in the
history of humanity to warrant such an expectation. All admit that
the ultimate coming of the Lord in any given time can not be made
more certain than the death of any individual in a given time; nay,
that no reasonings on prophecy can make it so certain to any man
at the age of thirty that the Lord will appear in person within forty
years, as that he will go to the Lord in that period of time. In one
word, my death is always much more probable in any fixed period
than that the Lord will come during my life. Now whether I go to
the Lord or the Lord comes to me within forty-three or forty-seven,
is certainly equal, so far as my personal salvation is concerned; and
the former event being more probable or certain than the latter, will,
of course, be a better argument in favor of personal holiness or Chris
tian perfection, than any motives which could be deduced from the
second advent.

THE MILLE.\MAL UAlililSij 111: AHiniHiED. 85

I confess, then, that I have never felt the force of reason in any
argument drawn from the second advent as near at hand, come from
what source it might. Indeed I am much more certain that our
individual death is sometimes called the coming of the Lord, than I
am of the truth or reasonableness of any of the Millennarian theories
now being preached all over the land. I hear them all with candor,
as I have impartially submitted them to my readers. Still my candor
must not be construed into acquiescence with any of them.

"My Lord delays his coming," says an unfaithful servant in a
parable, and straightway assaults his fellows for the promotion of his
own interest or honor. This text and parable are now held out in
tirrorcm over the heads of those who dissent from the propagators of
some of those now current theories of the immediate return. They
write and talk as though that text was written for the special benefit
of the year 1842 — as though it had no practical utility in the age
when it was first promulged. It is regarded as a sign of an unfaith-
ful servant should anyone just now say that the Messiah in his second
advent need not be expected for some years.

True, indeed, there are some advantages to be derived from the
settlement of the question concerning the Messiah's return — advan-
tages to all parties — to the Millennarians and to the Millennists. Were
■we assured, or were it more probable than the contrary opinion, that
he would return immediately, we should neither build, nor plant, nor
make any provisions beyond the time anticipated. We would do aa
Noah did when warned of God of things not seen as yet. If we
would not build an ark, we would lay aside all business and every
pursuit prospective of a time beyond the period of the contemplated
return. If we would not, Thessalonian like, forbear working alto-
gether, we would extend our efforts only commensurate with the sup-
posed interval. On the other hand, should we conclude that genera-
tions are yet to intervene, and nations yet enveloped in the gloom o£
Paganism to be converted to Christ, before he appear to raise the
dead and wind up the drama of human doings on the old theatre, we
should institute an inquiry into the ways and means by which to
extend Truth's dominions and the Gospel's conquests over its innumer-
able rivals in the human heart. The practical tendencies of the true
systems of prophetic interpretation are as dissimilar as the views of
the respective parties now in the field. On this account, then, we
suppose it important, if practicable, to come to some certainty as to
the time when the pulse of Nature will make a full and perfect pause,
obedient to the sovereign mandate of her Almighty Lord.

But there is another practical aspect which this subject bears to the
work of conversion worthy of a remark or two. I never thought that
the certainty of death, or the uncertainty of life, ranked either in the


first or in the second class of arguments and motives inductive to
repentance or conversion. My chief argument in evidence is, that our
Lord and his Apostles did not give it prominence in their public
addresses. It rarely occurs in the Gospels, and still more rarely in
the Acts of the Apostles. It is of more use to Christians than to
sinners, and is therefore found most frequently in the Epistles.

Penitence superinduced by affliction, and repentance originating on
a death-bed, have long since been of doubtful reputation. The good-
ness of God is the specific argument that leads to true repentance.
Panic fears and impulses are not the eloquence of Christ's gospel. The
terrors of the Lord are no doubt a necessary portion of the arguments
that complete Heaven's grand appeal to the whole nature of man. Of
all the arguments addressed to the fears and hopes of man, none is so
soul-subduing and transforming as those deduced from his philan-
thropy as displayed in the gift of his dearly beloved and only begotten
Son. This is the Alpha and the Omega of the eloquence of Prophets
and Apostles.

I should fear that converts made to Christ from the preaching of
his immediate return, in case of a disappointment would generally
relapse again. They would rest more on probabilities and peradven-
tures than on the sure word of divine testimony. If they hear not
Moses and the Prophets, neither would they be persuaded though one
rose from the dead. Noah preached without salutary effect the imme-
diate coming of the Lord for one century, and yet made not one true
convert. How many may have been variously convicted, alarmed, and
half persuaded, we are not told. One thing is certain: none were
found worthy of a passage in the Ark from the Old World to the New.
I much doubt, then, the expediency of making use of any theory,
interpretation, or calculation, the burthen of a discourse on the gospel
as an incentive to acquiescence with the overtures of divine mercy.
We gain nothing from the Millennarians in persuading men to obey
the gospel. On the contrary, it appears we have more to fear than
to hope from any effort to induce men to come to the Lord, deduced
from prophetic calculations. The gospel is the same document of
divine wisdom and power now that it was when Christ had just left
the earth, and it will have no fresh power from the apprehension of
his immediate return.

The practical importance of the doctrine of the immediate return is
much greater in another direction than in those attitudes in which it
is so warmly represented. It affects more the action of the Christian
world in reference to the Pagan, than it does the Christian community
at home with a reference to itself. True, indeed, that portion of the
civilized Pagan world found in Christian lands is as much within the
circumference of its influence as that which lies wholly beyond its


precincts. But so far as it affects our action at home or abroad in
the great work of evangelizing — so far as it affects our prospective
endeavors in laying a foundation for future usefulness in any schem«
of benevolence reaching into the future, so far the discussion is not
without inijioi tant bearings on the whole subject of Christian energies.

The coming of the Lord is not the hope of Christians; but it is
a hope so intimately connected with the hope of eternal life at his
appearing and his kingdom, that the Apostle exhorts to a looking for
"that blessed hope, the glorious appearing of the great God and our
Saviour Jesus Christ," as one of the best means of holding fast our
begun confidence unshaken to the end. They always kept it before
the minds of the brotherhood as near at hand. It is in truth very
near to us all; so near that no interval of time will be perceived by
those who have gone out of time from the moment of their departure
from earth. No suns rise or set to the dead in Christ. There is no
distance nor time beyond our planet to human spirits severed from
their mortal tenements.

The premises on which Mr. Miller mainly rests his confident asser-
tions concerning the events of 1843, are his interpretations of Daniel's
2,300 days and his Bible chronology; at least so it appears to me.
With him this is the year of the world 5999. and consequently 1843
of the Christian era is the 6,000th year since the creation. Between
him, then, and the chronology of Rede, Usher, Newton, and all the
Protestant world, there is a discrepancy of one hundred and fifty-seven
years! These years he makes up in part by conjecture, and in part
by an induction of Old Testament events and dates, squaring them
off to the answer in his prophetic arithmetic to the question. When
conies the Lord? whose answer with him is. In 1843. To his Bible
chronology I have several objections mostly comprehended under two
heads. He m.akes the lives of more than sixty persons in succession to
have been just po many years, neither a day more nor a day less. In
all this there may be half as many years of error as there are persons
that lived. That sixty or seventy fathers and sons should have lived
exactly so many years, neither a day less nor more, no man of reflec-
tion can believe; and yet this hypothesis is essential to the coming of
the Lord in 1843, so far as the alleged age of the world is concerned.

In the second place, his Bible chronology is not the only Bible
chronology, because there is a Samaritan, a Greek, and a Hebrew
chronology, especially of the two latter, that differ from themselves
as they do from one another.

The world is now according to the Samaritan. G542 years old.

according to the Greek. 7714

according to our common Hebrew. .5857
and according to a mixed

Hebrew and Pagan, 5843


The result ol' my examination of the chronology of the world is the
full and fixed conviction that it is lost forever, unless revealed from
heaven. But when 1 say lost, I do not mean to say that it is lost by
thousands or by many hundreds of years. The chasm chiefly, indeed,
lies beyond the period of prophecy, before the flood, and before the
birth of Abraham. By the Hebrew text those epocha are quite ascer
tainable, but I do not think that we have full and satisfactory evidence
that the Hebrew is always right when it differs from the Greek from
Adam to Moses. Since the days of Moses, and especially since the
Jewish Prophets, the errors, if any, can not be very material. Stul
even here there are difficulties that will forever restrain a man possess-
ing a well balanced and well informed mind, from ever presuming to
fix the era of Christ's coming from anything found in the Old or New
Testament. The precise and the true age of the world is certainly
lost. Still so much difficulty concerning short periods of the prophetic
intervals remains, that no person, not enthusiastically confident, will
speak with assurance.

On Mr. Miller's date of the commencement of the 2,300 days 1 must
offer a remark or two. Although so early as my debate with infidei
Owen, I inclined to the seventh year of Artaxerxes Longimanus as
the date of the 2,300 days, and have not yet seen valid reason to repu-
diate it, still it is but probable evidence, and probable evidence not
of the superlative degree. That the 2,300 days denote so many years,
and that the sanctuary, (Jewish or Christian, not the earth,) was to
be cleansed at the expiration of those days, or was then to begin to be
cleansed, is full as far as I then found myself authorized to go. But
the greatest difficulty lies in the demonstration that the 2,300 days
are to be counted from the year before Christ 457, or from the seventh
year of Artaxerxes. Mr. Miller's confidence in this point does more
to discredit his judgment in other matters than any other frailty in
his whole performance, so far as I now remember. This is, however,
the vital point, as concerns the events of 1843.

We shall, then, for a moment, look into the dates of Daniel's
visions: — ■

His hrst vision, chap, vi., we are told occurred in the first year of
Belshazzar king of Babylon, before Christ 555. His second vision took
place in the third year of the same prince, before Christ 553. This
last vision was to be for 2,300 days, but no date is here fixed from
which to calculate it. Fifteen years after this time, in the first year
of Darius the Mede, Daniel had other explanations, if not a new vision,
specially concerning the work and times of the Messiah. Mr. Miller
says it is a part of the former vision explained, and not a new one:
and on the clear demonstration of that rests his hypothesis. The
demonstration given by him amounts, so far as I can see, to a clause


(ouiul in viMse 2od of the ninth chapter, touching an event then
occurring and fifteen years distant from the vision touching the 2,300

Mr. Miller says the word "'vision" here alludes to that related in
the eighth chapter, occurring fifteen years before; while some affirm
that it relates to the views given immediately after concerning the
events of the "seventy weeks," which are dated from the aforesaid
dccrea The demonstration, if such it may be called, is wholly incon-

To say no more at present on this theory, I must repudiate it as
wholly imaginative, if for no other reasons, for these four:

1. His chronology of the age of the world, on which he relies with
so much confidence, I have shown to be palpably erroneous and false.

2. His dating of the 2,300 days, the sub-basis of his whole specula^
tion, from the seventh of Artaxerxes, is without any sufficient author-
ity; and especially his manner of identifying the vision in the third
of Belshazzar, with the interpretations in the first year of Darius,
we have shown to be palpably erroneous and deceptious.

3. His making the last thousand years of the world a mere day of
judgment, is alike destructive of the meaning of the last day and of a
thousand years, reigning of the saints, and of his own theory of the
age of the world, as being of seven thousand literal years' duration.

4. And last, though not least, his radical misconception of the import
of the word sanctuary, and especially of the phrase "the cleansing of
the sanctuary," forbids any confidence in his biblical and philological
attainments as a mere commentator, much less an interpreter of
prophecy. In no respect is Mr. Miller elevated above his Baptist
brethren in talent or erudition, except it be that he has studied the
prophecies more than the most of them, and speaks with a dogmatical
assurance greater than any of them. For my part, I do not think
that any man who substitutes mourning benches and anxious seats
for the Lord's ordinances, and calls for sinners to come up to him as
a mediator to be prayed for, instead of beseeching them to be recon-
ciled to God, and to come to God's ordinances for comfort and deliv-
erance, can possibly speak by any inspiration of the Spirit, or be a
chosen vessel to harbinger the day of the Lord.

When men of ardent feelings and large ideality seize an idea of
this magnitude — or, rather, when it seizes them — they seldom or ever
any longer with patience endure any vigorous opposition, or calmly
weigh the force of opposing evidence. It becomes with them the
present truth and the all-absorbing, as well as the standing topic of
public teaching and of private conversation. In a little time their
souls become so inflamed with the splendors of their own imaginations,
that, to thcni, it appears as though the whole universe of truth never


had any other meaning or design than to prove that the world will
come to an end in a given year, and tliat from its ashes will arise a
new and better planet, the residence of eternal youth and unfading

In their case, however, there is this favorable circumstance: — High
excitement soon finds its own quietus in that consequent collapse of
feeling and fitfulness which nature has kindly interposed as a son
of safety valve to the social system. I remember well the answer
which Elias Smith, of New England fame, gave to me in Boston in
1836, when interrogated on his present views of the personal reign of
the Messiah in Jerusalem, with all his saints, as promulged in a
volume issued by him in 1808; and I remember also the impression
made upon my mind touching a peculiar class of minds with which
I have been frequently in converse, while the old gentleman with the
greatest candor said, "Sir, I was so greatly charmed and delighted
with the idea, that I preached it incessantly for eighteen months all
over the country before I recovered from the pleasing imagination.
But, sir," continued he, "it then expired within me."

There are two sources of argument on which these friends more
emphatically rely than upon any other. The one is the 2,300 days of
Daniel — the other, the present age of the world, or the new chronology
of Mr. Miller. Of the last of these I have spoken with some freedom
and suggested certain difficulties fatal to the whole theory of the new
chronology; to which no one, so far as I have seen, has yet attempted
to respond. I shall at present raise one objection to the main corner
stone of the whole theory, to which I very respectfully and earne.5tly
invite some attention, in the way of exposition and removal, from some
of those who have more leisure; and perhaps more taste than I for
such investigations.

I believe it will be conceded on the part of all the candid advocates
of 1843, as the year of the return, that this hope mainly rests upon the
answer to a certain question propounded by one saint to another
(Dan. viii. 14.) The one saint asked, ''How long the vision concerning
the daily sacrifice and the transgression of desolation to give both the
sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?" "And he said unto
me, 'Unto two thousand three hundred days, then shall the sanc-
tuary be cleansed.' " It is now assumed that these 2.300 days cover
the whole interim between the date of the vision, and the literal return
of the Lord to cleanse the sanctuary. Of course the accuracy ot the
interpretation essentially depends upon the accuracy of fixing the date
of the commencement of those prophetic days. So all the Miller school
seem to think and argue. The certainty of the year of termination
must always depend upon the certainty of the year of commencement.
The former can never be more evident than the latter. The certainty


of tho cDding in 1843 can not be greater than the certainty of the
oeginning in 457 before Christ; for these two sums only complete the
period assigned to the continuance of this desolating abomination.

By what logic, then, it must be asked, do they date the commence-
ment of these 2,300 days, in the year before Christ 457?

They assume, first, that the prophecy found in the ninth chapter of
Daniel concerning the seventy weeks, is only a development of a
certain period of the 2,300 days.

They assume, second, that those "seventy weeks" are to be taken
Or cut off the first part of the 2,300 days; and consequently that the date
of the commencement of the "seventy weeks,' and of the commence-
ment of the 2,300 days, is one and the same.

In the third place, they assume that the days are each symbolic of
a year; and that, therefore, the whole 2,300 days are equal to 2,300

Other assumptions besides these, and almost of equal importance,
are essential to the completion of the new theory; but at present we
can not attend to them. To some one more profoundly read in the
mysteries oi this imposing theory, we desire to submit the following
difficulties by way of objections, and will be thankful to any one who
can give us a satisfactory solution of them:

1st. The vision in which the 2,300 days are found as the terminus
ad quern, or the boundary to which it extends, occurred in the year
before Christ 553, as all admit; whereas the prophecy of the "seventy
weeks" occurred 538 years before Christ — that is, fifteen years later
than the former.

2d. There is not one intimation in the prophecy concerning the "sev-
enty weeks" made by Gabriel to Daniel, that these "seventy weeks"
had any reference to any portion of the vision which he had enjoyed
in Persia fifteen years before. And as Daniel was in the previous
prayer asking no light upon the subject of that vision, nor at all allud-
ing to it, it would seem a very unwarrantable assumption that the
frrophecy of the "seventy weeks" icas given with a special reference
to a vision then fifteen years old, and that merely because the word
"vision" is found twice in the eighth chapter, without any allusion to
any vision — whether to that of the first year, or to that of the third
year of Belshazzar — the former seventeen, the latter fifteen years old.

The assumption that the vision of the third of Belshazzar, fifteen
years anterior to the prophecy of the "seventy weeks," is now being
explained by Gabriel, is the more difficult of admission, inasmuch as
Gabriel was commanded then and there to make Daniel understand
the vision; which he did to such a degree as to cause Daniel to take
his bed for some time in utter astonishment and grief, because of the
calamities coming upon his people.


Again, if it had been the intention of the Spirit to have made
Daniel and his people understand the times involved in the 2,300 days,
would it not have been more apposite and edifying to have kept to the
figure of days, and instead of a prophecy concerning "seventy weeks,"
ought it not to have been in keeping with the types of the vision, to
have said 490 days are marked for thy people?

Again, if 490 days were marked off for Daniel's people, for whom
were the' remainder, 1,810 days, determined!? There is, then, no
account taken, nor interpretation given, of 1,810 days on the hypothesis
that Gabriel is now explaining the times to Daniel or giving the full
answer to the question, ''How long?" This would be an omission
unprecedented in any system of interpretation human or divine, claim-
ing the respect of the intelligent and virtuous.

But I must proceed to the one and only objection that I intend to
raise in the present essay against the speculations of my contempo-
raries, in reference to which I only allude to these minor difficulties.
Now that I may do this with all clearness and despatch, I must request
the reader to consider attentively the two prophecies between which
that of the fortunes of the sanctuary stands. For—

Whether in the form of visions or of verbal representations, to us
there are three distinct prophecies found in the seventh, eighth and
ninth chapters of Daniel; each of which has its own peculiar actors,
events, and dates. Each prophecy has also its own specific design, and
makes all its representations with a supreme reference to that design.

Now the period of 2,300 days belongs to the second vision and
prophecy, and neither to the first nor to the third. And here arises
the all-important question, From what event or incident shall it be
computed? We must either find in it some person or thing of promi
nence, or we must arbitrarily select some extrinsic fact or circum-
stance without it, from which to fix its commencement. We shall
therefore first read it: "Then I lifted up mine eyes and saw, and
behold, there stood before the river a ram, which had two horns, and
the two horns were high; but one was higher than the other, and
the higher came up last. I saw the ram pushing westward, and norlh-
ward, and southward; so that no beasts might stand before him,
neither was there any that could deliver out of his hand; but he did

Online LibraryAlexander CampbellThe Millennial Harbinger abridged (Volume 1) → online text (page 13 of 70)