Larger font
Smaller font
Foundations of the Seventh-day Adventist Message and Mission - Contents
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "".
  • Weighted Relevancy
  • Content Sequence
  • Relevancy
  • Earliest First
  • Latest First
    Larger font
    Smaller font

    B. The Millerites versus those reflecting historical-critical trends

    The hermeneutical principles of those tending toward a historical-critical approach to the apocalyptic-eschatology of Scripture while affirming the predictive nature of prophecy were seen by the Millerites as a very effective means in counteracting their historicist hermeneutic. This was the reason why this approach was extensively discussed and attacked. Among those who employed such a critical approach against Miller’s interpretations and who stirred the strongest Millerite reaction were John Dowling, A.M., 2John Dowling (1807-78) was an English immigrant of Church of England parentage. At the age of 17 he joined the Baptist Church. Four years later he taught Greek, Hebrew, Latin and French. Later he accepted a call to the ministry and became a well-known Baptist clergyman in New York City. a Baptist minister, Moses Stuart, 3Moses Stuart (1780-1852) was a minister and a scholar in Biblical studies. He studied theology under President Timothy Dwight at Yale College. He served for some time as a minister. From 1810 till 1848 he was professor of Sacred Literature at Andover. His life was one of incessant labor and devoted chiefly to Biblical literature and principles of exegesis. a Congregationalist professor at Andover Theological Seminary, Nathaniel Colver, 5Irah Chase (1793-1864) studied at Andover Theological Seminary and entered into the Baptist ministry. For a short time he studied at the Universities of Halle and Gottingen. From 1825 till 1845 he was professor at Newton Theological Institute. His main interest was in the scientific study of the Bible. He wrote many articles of a historical and theological character and published several books. a Baptist minister, and Irah Chase, D.D., Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Newton Theological Institute. Most of those employing this kind of hermeneutic also advocated a postmillennial future for Christianity. Litch designated these individuals as “Millennists.” According to him the major distinction between Millerite Adventists and Millennists was that “Adventists believe in a pre-millennial and personal advent of Christ from heaven, to glorify his saints and to take vengeance on his foes, while the Millennists believe in the universal spiritual reign of Christ a thousand years, before his second personal advent.” 1Litch, “RPA,” p. 47. See supra, pp. 30, 31. Miller said that “the millennium is a state of personal and glorious and immortal reign on the new earth, or this earth cleansed by fire, as it was once by water, and it will be a new dispensation; new heavens and new earth” (ESH, 1836, p. 27). It was also described as “the personal reign of Jesus with his people ... the glorious reign after the resurrection of the righteous and before the resurrection of the wicked” (ibid., p. 22). See also ibid., pp. 26-35; supra, p. 31, n. 156. Cf. Wellcome, Second Advent Message, pp. 170, 171. The major difference between this view of the millennium and that of the SDA was that during the millennium the saints were in heaven and not on the earth (Appendix II and III). The views of E. G. Harmon seemed to have contributed to this modification. See e.g., E. G. White [E. G. Harmon], “RSA,” pp. 15, 16.FSDA 63.1

    When in 1840 Dowling published his critique on the idea of Christ’s coming in 1843, Miller considered it one of the most subtle attacks ever launched against his views. 2Miller, “Mr. Miller’s Reply to Dowling,” No. 2, The Signs of the Times, August 15, 1840, p. 74 (Views, pp. 187, 188). Cf. Litch, Refutation, pp. iii, iv, 7, 8. Generally, Dowling employed the historicist hermeneutic to apocalyptic-eschatology, 3The time concepts in Daniel 7:25; 12:7; Revelation 11:2, 3; 12:6, 14; 13:5 Dowling applied, like the Millerites, to the Roman Catholic Church (Prophecies, pp. 114, 115). The 1260 days he dated from A.D. 755-2015, when the millennium was to begin (ibid., pp. 131, 132). Cf. Skinner, Miller, pp. 92-98. but he made an exception of Daniel 8. His rationale for making this exception was based on his conviction that the year-day principle could not be applied to the expression “two thousand and three hundred days” because the literal rendering was not “days” but “evening-mornings.” 4Dowling, Prophecies, p. 72. Cf. regarding the year-day principle, Skinner, Miller, pp. 66-72, 114, 115; Nathaniel S. Folsom, Critical and Historical Interpretation of the Prophecies of Daniel, 1842, pp. 84, 85. This, he said, indicated that Daniel 8:14 referred to a period of natural days, not years, and thus could not be related to the time concepts of Daniel 9. 1For a discontinuity between Daniel 8 and Daniel 9, see Dowling, Prophecies, pp. 87, 88, 91-95. Cf. Skinner, Miller, pp. 64, 65; Folsom, Daniel, 166, 167. The term “evening-mornings” he saw as a reference to the Jewish sacrificial system which led to an interpretation of the symbolism of Daniel 8 In the context of Jewish history. He associated the “2300 evenings and mornings” with “the number of daily burnt offerings,” which counting “both morning and evening sacrifices,” 2Dowling, Prophecies, p. 73. pointed to a period of 1150 days or three years and 55 days, during which the Jewish sanctuary would be polluted and the daily sacrifice taken away. 4Dowling, Prophecies, pp. 59, 63, 66, 67. Relying on historical information found in other commentators, Dowling interpreted the little horn as the person responsible for these actions, Antiochus IV Epiphanes. In support of this view he provided the following data on the desecration of the sanctuary: (1) On the 15th day of Casleu, a month he equated with December 168 B.C., the image of Jupiter Olympus was erected by Antiochus in the temple of Jerusalem (1 Macc. 1:54); (2) ten days later sacrifices were offered to this idol (1 Macc. 1:59); (3) three years later, on the 25th of Casleu, the temple was purified and dedicated anew to the worship of the God of Israel by Judas Maccabaeus (1 Macc. 4:52) exactly three years after the idolatrous sacrifices began. In an attempt to harmonize the difference between these three years and his interpretation of the 2300 days as three years and 55 days, Dowling pointed out that although “we are not informed by any historian exactly how many days elapsed between the time when Athenaeus stopped the daily sacrifices and the 25th of the month Casleu,” it could be conjectured that this time lapse was “exactly 55 days.” This meant that the Jewish daily sacrifices had been interrupted for a period of 1150 days. The sudden death of Antiochus he interpreted in the context of Daniel 8:25 as a divine judgment.FSDA 64.1

    The Millerites strongly criticized Dowling’s views. One of their arguments was that the application of the year-day principle to Daniel 8 harmonized both with the internal structure of the chapter, and with a consistent approach to apocalyptic Scriptures, and also provided an exact time period supportable by historical evidence. Both Miller and Litch pointed out that according to Daniel’s question, “How long shall be the vision ...?” (8:13), the reply in the next verse not only pertained to the attack of the little horn on the sanctuary but referred to the whole of Daniel’s vision, including events related to the Persian and Greek empires. 1Miller, “Mr. Miller’s Review of Dowling,” The Signs of the Times, August 1, 1840, p. 67 (Views, p. 184); Litch, Refutation, p. 34. Cf. Miller, Stuart’s Hints, pp. 17, 22; Bliss, “Stuart,” No. IV, The Signs of the Times, October 12, 1842, p. 25; [Hale], “Letter of Dr. Pond,” The Signs of the Times, November 9, 1842, p. 57; Austin, “William Miller,” pp. 206-10. To Litch the 2300 days included both the pagan and papal abominations, 2Litch, Refutation, p. 54. which is impossible if 8:14 signified a period of 1150 natural days. Miller criticized Dowling’s inconsistency in applying the year-day principle to 9:25-27; 12:11, 12 and not to 8:14, pointing out: (1) It destroyed the harmony between Daniel 8 and Daniel 9 which was based on the time references; (2) it destroyed the harmony between Daniel 8 and Daniel 12 which was founded on the idea that the daily sacrifice of Daniel 8:13 and that of 12:11 were identical. 4Litch, Refutation, p. 41. Litch added that the fact that the original rendering of Daniel 8:14 was not “days” was no valid reason for not applying the year-day principle, for there were other passages in which the term “day” was not used but to which this hermeneutical principle was applied, such as “time and times and the dividing of time” (Daniel 7:25), “time, times, and an half” (Daniel 12:7), and “forty and two months” (Revelation 11:2; 13:5). He remarked further that there was no historical evidence available for an exact period of 2300 literal days. Therefore, on the basis of historicist hermeneutic the Millerites felt it necessary to look for another interpretation which would fulfill the prophetic time in every detail. The only interpretation which, according to the Millerites, could satisfy this requirement was the one achieved by employment of the year-day principle.FSDA 66.1

    Still another argument used by Miller against Dowling was that the Antiochus view violated the concept of prophetic time-sequence parallelism in Daniel, according to which the fourth beast of Daniel 7, which was interpreted as Rome in its pagan and papal phases, had to be identified with the little horn of Daniel 8 and not with Antiochus Epiphanes. 6Miller, “Dowling, No. 2,” p. 74. Litch brought out that the Antiochus view was difficult to harmonize with the exegesis of Daniel 8:8, 9 because Antiochus was a king of Syria, one of the four kingdoms (horns) of the Greek empire, and was not another horn coming out of one of these kingdoms. In fact, neither the rise nor the fall of Antiochus affected the continuation of Syria as a kingdom. 1Litch, Refutation, pp. 33, 34. Bliss said that the little horn was to come out of one of the four horns “whereas Antiochus was one of the four horns, and therefore could not be the fifth horn” (“Stuart,” No. IV, p. 25). Cf. Bliss, Inconsistencies of Colver’s Literal Fulfilment of Daniel’s Prophecy, 1843, p. 32. Later, in the context of the four dynasties which succeeded Alexander and were represented by the four horns, “one for Egypt, one for Syria, one for Macedonia, and one for Thrace and Bithinia” (8:8), he observed that “Antiochus Epiphanes was but one of twenty-six individuals, who constituted the Syrian horn. Could he, at the same time, be another remarkable horn?” 2“Antiochus Epiphanes,” p. 1. Finally, the expression “for at the time of the end shall be the vision” (8:17) indicated to Litch that Daniel 8 had relevance for the time after 1798, 4Litch, Refutation, pp. 44, 45. Cf. “Antiochus Epiphanes,” p. 1. proving again that it could not apply to Antiochus.FSDA 66.2

    In 1842 Moses Stuart published Hints on the Interpretation of Prophecy which was directed against historicist hermeneutic. In contrast with Dowling, Stuart did not employ historicist hermeneutical principles to any apocalyptic passages, rendering himself less vulnerable to the charge of inconsistency. He concentrated his critique on three areas: (1) The dual nature of predictive prophecy; (2) the mystical sense of a prophecy, which could never be understood until the event intended had transpired, (3) the year-day principle. The first two areas dealt mainly with a discussion of principles of prophetic interpretation. His arguments against the dual application of prophecy ought to be placed against the background that at that time many commentators thought that the apocalyptic passages of Daniel had been fulfilled in one sense in the conflict between the Jews and Antiochus Epiphanus but in a larger sense in the history of the Christian church. 5Ward, “Prof. Stuart’s Hints on Prophecy,” No. II, The Signs of the Times, September 7, 1842, p. 183. Cf. Campbell, “Miller,” p. 100. The dual nature of prophecy was, according to Stuart, contrary to the laws of the interpretation of language. 6Stuart, Prophecy, pp. 13, 14. Cf. Chase, Daniel, 40-43. He did not accept the idea that “Antiochus Epiphanes was a type of Antichrist, and that what is predicted of him ... was fulfilled partly in him, and will be fulfilled, entirely in Antichrist(ibid., p. 40). Cf. Folsom, Daniel, 86, 87. He argued that although the Bible was a unique book, it should be subjected to the common laws of interpretation to which other books are subjected. 8Ibid., pp. 18, 19. He pointed out that one of the greatest difficulties with the dual sense of prophecy was that there was no standard by which to evaluate it; everyone, therefore, ought, he said, to follow the general laws of exegesis. 1Ibid., pp. 44, 84. In order to avoid confusion he stated that the interpreter of Scripture should only confine his work to discover the intention of the original author (ibid., p. 42). Consonant with this conviction, Stuart rejected the year-day principle on the basis that Numbers 14:34, Ezekiel 4:5, 6, and Daniel 9:24-27 were so non-apocalyptic in character that the analogy-of-Scripture principle could not be applied. 2Ibid., pp. 74-82. Cf. Skinner, Miller, pp. 114, 115; Cosmopolite, Miller Overthrown: or The False Prophet Confounded, 1840, pp. 26, 27; Shaw, Second Coming, p. 31; Folsom, Daniel, 85,. It was his conviction that the time designations in Daniel and Revelation could satisfactorily be solved on “the common ground of grammatico-historical exegesis,” making historicist hermeneutic unnecessary. 3Stuart, Prophecy, p. 82. Cf. ibid., p. 42.FSDA 67.1

    The application of this approach to Daniel 7 led Stuart to conclude that the fourth beast was “the divided Grecian dominion which succeeded the reign of Alexander the Great.” 4Ibid, p. 83. Cf. Folsom, Daniel 106; Chase, Daniel, 19-24. The little horn he identified with Antiochus Epiphanes. 5Stuart, Prophecy, pp. 83, 84. Cf. Chase, Daniel, 26. Stuart supported his argument through analogous reasoning from the characteristics of the little horn of Daniel 8 (Prophecy, 2nd ed., 1842, pp. 87, 88). On the assumption that the little horns were identical, Chase determined the nature of the little horn of Daniel 7 by the one of Daniel 8 (Daniel 39, 48). Later, however, he interpreted the time element of 8:14 by 7:25 (ibid., pp. 61, 62). The duration of the persecution under the little horn (7:25; 12:7) he interpreted as a period of three and a half years, signifying the general nature of the period of persecution 7Ibid., p. 85. Cf. Folsom, Daniel, 128-130. during which “Antiochus had complete possession and control of every thing in and around Jerusalem and the temple,” whereas the exact period of the persecution was 1290 days (12:11), thirty days longer than the general period. The 1290 days began from the time that “Apollonius captured Jerusalem in the latter part of May, B.C. 168” and ended when “Judas Maccabaeus expurgated the temple and restored the rites.” He assumed that the 1335 days (12:12) began with the 1290 days but terminated at the death of Antiochus, “some time in February of the year 164, B.C.” Thus Stuart interpreted the little horn much as Dowling did, with the difference that Dowling designated the persecution period (8:14) as 1150 days while Stuart preferred 2300 days, beginning with the magnification of the little horn against the “prince of the host” (8:11, interpreted as the murder of the high priest Onias III in 171 B.C.), and terminating with the restoration of the sanctuary (or temple). 1Ibid., p. 96. Cf. Shaw, Second Coming, pp. 29-32, Folsom, Daniel, 81-83. To Dr. Pond from the Theological Institute, Bangor, Maine, the 2300 days were “the precise time during which ‘the daily sacrifice was taken away’ by Antiochus, and the place of ‘the sanctuary was cast down’” (Second Advent Publications, p. 10). The possibility of 2300 weeks (44 years) was also considered, for it seemed to be 44 years after the angel’s conversation that “the decree is ... given to rebuild Jerusalem, to purify the sanctuary, and restore the true worship” (Cosmopolite, Miller, p. 30). The 2300 days of persecution Stuart considered to be a period of which the first part consisted of “frequent and long-continued interruptions of active oppression,” while the 1260, 1290, and 1335 days he saw as periods of persecution with “no interruptions of the tyrannical and overbearing power of Antiochus.” 2Stuart, Prophecy, p. 98. He added that at “the very close” of the 1335 days there was an interruption of persecution.FSDA 68.1

    There was probably no one whose views received as much attention and criticism among the Millerites as Moses Stuart. In general they agreed with him on the first two areas of his critique. Miller remarked that his views were “the most Christian, candid, and reasonable arguments that I have ever met with, from any source whatever.” 3Miller, Stuart’s Hints, pp. 5, 6. He agreed that “there is no double meaning to the words in the prophecies of the Old and New Testament.” 4Ibid., p. 7. He strongly cautioned, however, against the view that time elements in symbolic prophecy could not be symbolic, 6Ibid., pp. 37-40. explaining that God had some very good reasons for not always revealing the future in a plain literal sense, citing as samples Mt. 11:25; Luke 8:10; 10:21; Daniel 12:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:3, 4; and Psalm 78:2. Miller’s overall impression was that Stuart’s principles of interpretation were good. His major criticism concerned some of Stuart’s applications of his principles in which Miller could see “neither reason nor common sense.”FSDA 69.1

    Unlike Miller, Henry Ward criticized Stuart’s view of the dual nature of prophecy and the subjection of Scripture to similar methods of interpretation as other books in order to prevent a dual or mystical interpretation. Said Ward: “We do not say that a rule of interpretation should be adopted for the Bible which is not common to other books; but rather that the Bible, together with every other book, ought to be interpreted in harmony with itself, and on principles recognized by the author in the volume of his works.” 8Ward, “Prof. Stuart’s Hints on Prophecy,” No. 1, The Signs of the Times, August 31, 1842, p. 176. He added: “In reading Milton, it is fair to use a method of interpreting some obscure passages, which method Milton has himself used in another part of his works, to interpret a similar passage so a prophetical obscurity in one part of the Bible may well be explained on a principle used in another part of the Bible, to explain a similar prophetical obscurity. The New Testament does frequently put a new, a mystical, or a double sense on the language of a text of the Old Testament; and this leads the student of the Bible to the knowledge of a Bible rule of interpretation.” For example, he pointed out, the frequent practice of New Testament writers to give new interpretations to the language of the Old Testament through the topological principle justifies use of the same hermeneutical practice today. 1Ibid. In commenting on Stuart’s denial that many prophecies are mystical, and explicable only by the fulfillment of the predicted event itself, Ward pointed to prophecies regarding Christ’s first Advent which had been very imperfectly understood until the predicted event had taken place. 2Ibid.FSDA 69.2

    The application of Stuart’s hermeneutic to the interpretation of the little horn of Daniel 7 on the basis of his “grammatico-historical exegesis” was strongly criticized by the Millerites. Miller remarked that Stuart’s approach failed to deal with the specific manner in which the little horn arose (7:8, 19, 20). 3Miller, Stuart’s Hints, p. 34. If Antiochus was the little horn, he should have emerged from among ten kingdoms, three of which he would have subdued. In reality there was, according to Miller, not a great difference between the Syrian kingdom and the other kingdoms of the divided empire of Alexander: “All arose in the same manner, all made war on each other, and each in turn succeeded in its warlike enterprises. Neither one of them was able to subdue all the other three.” 4Ibid., pp. 9, 34 It was the opinion of Sylvester Bliss, the junior editor of the Signs of the Times, that this interpretation did not recognize the principle of time-sequence parallelism between Daniel 2 and Daniel 7. Arguing from this principle, the fourth beast of Daniel 7 could not signify the divided empire of Alexander but had to be interpreted, like the iron legs of Daniel 2, as Rome. 6Miller, Stuart’s Hints, p. 35. In reference to the death of Antiochus, Miller stated that this event differed sharply from the biblical account that “the beast was slain, and his body destroyed and given to the burning flame” (7:11).FSDA 70.1

    According to the Millerites, another problem for Stuart was the reconciliation of Antiochus with Daniel 7:21, 22. Charles Fitch called on Stuart to provide evidence that Antiochus “either did, or does, or will make war with the saints and prevail against them, until the Ancient of days comes, and judgment is given to the saints of the Most High, and the time come[s] that the saints possess the kingdom.” 7Fitch, “Letters to Moses Stuart,” The Signs of the Times, August 24, 1842, p. 164. Stuart’s answer was that Fitch had been mistaken in applying the judgment (7:10, 22) and the dominion given to the saints (7:22) to the last judgment and the millennial dominion of the church instead of the judgment and punishment of Antiochus. 8Stuart, Prophecy, 2nd ed., p. 87. According to Stuart, the Messianic kingdom, as described in 7:13, 14, 27, had no connection with 7:10, 22 and would find its fulfillment after a certain time interval. Although the context seemed to indicate that the Messianic dominion would immediately follow the destruction of the kingdom of Antiochus, he said that such a conclusion was not necessary because in this particular instance Daniel was not directly concerned with chronological sequence. 1Ibid., p. 88. Miller of course, convinced that Daniel was concerned with chronology, 2Miller, Stuart’s Hints, pp. 74, 75. rejected Stuart on this point, urging that the kingdom which the saints would possess (7:18, 22) was not the kingdom of Judas Maccabaeus but nothing less than the everlasting kingdom of 7:27. 4Ibid., pp. 70, 71. He insisted that contextual evidence clearly supported the view that 7:10, 22 referred to the last judgment.FSDA 70.2

    Stuart’s interpretation of Daniel 8 received a criticism similar to that launched against Dowling’s view of the chapter. In addition, Miller argued that the pollution of the sanctuary did not end with the death of Antiochus, as Stuart had suggested, pointing to the fact that it was “twenty years or more after the death of Antiochus, [that] Simon, the high priest, drove out the heathen who had polluted the sanctuary and the holy place; l Maccab. xiv. 36.” 5Ibid., p. 24. He added that even in the time of Christ the sanctuary was polluted (Mt. 21:13). Bliss stated that “the Prince of princes” (8:25) against whom the little horn acted was the Messiah, which implied that the little horn could not be Antiochus, for he died before Christ was born. 6Bliss, “Stuart,” No. IV, p. 25. Two additional arguments were brought out in an article in the Signs of the Times. The first said that it was contrary to the history of the progressive development of world powers to state that the Medo-Persian power was called “great” (8:4), the Greek empire designated as “very great” (8:8), and Antiochus characterized as “exceeding great” (8:9). Because Antiochus was obliged to pay tribute to the Romans, there was no question that Rome was the exceeding great power of 8:9. 8Ibid., p. 1. The second argument pointed out that the conquests of the Roman empire, not those of Antiochus, fulfilled the geographical progressions of 8:9.FSDA 71.1

    Regarding Stuart’s view of Daniel 12, Miller commented that contextual evidence (especially 12:1-3, 10) pointed to the resurrection of the dead, and hence could not refer to the death of Antiochus. 9Miller, Stuart’s Hints, pp. 13-16, 29, 30, 42, 43. Cf. Bliss, “Stuart,” No. III, pp. 17, 18.FSDA 71.2

    The absence in Stuart’s presentation of “exact” historical evidence for the fulfillment of the time prophecies was used by Millerites as a major argument against his whole method for interpreting apocalyptic-eschatology. 10Cf. ibid. In harmony with Miller’s hermeneutical rules, Bliss stated that each prediction had to be fulfilled “to the very letter, both in respect to manner and to time; or it will be necessary to look for a farther fulfillment.” 1Bliss, “Stuart,” No. II, The Signs of the Times, September 28, 1842, p. 9. Defending the historicist’s use of the year-day principle, he remarked that “we only claim that a day is used as a figure of a year, where it cannot be shown that the prediction was fulfilled in literal days; and also where it was impossible that they should have been so fulfilled.” 2Ibid. In support, the Millerites used against Stuart, Bush’s argument that chronological periods attached to symbolic prophecies must also be interpreted symbolically: The use of the year-day principle in Ezekiel and Numbers as a tool for interpreting Daniel and the Apocalypse Bush justified on the basis that the prophetic symbolism of these passages in Ezekiel and Numbers was a “miniature symbolization,” or model in miniature, revealing a prophetic nature quite similar to-and not different from-that of Daniel and Revelation. 3Bush, “Prophetic Designations of Time,” AH, March 6, 1844, p. 34. Here he said: “The grand principle into which the usage of employing a day for a year is to be resolved, is that of miniature symbolization. As the events are thus economically reduced, the periods are to be reduced in the same relative proportion. What that proportion is, we cannot positively determine without some antecedent information touching the rate or scale of reduction.” To him this information was given in Ezek. 4:5, 6 and Numbers 14:34. Regarding Ezek. 4 he said that “Ezekiel was commanded to ‘lie on his left side 390 days, that so he might bear the iniquity of the house of Israel.’ This was a typical action constituting a symbolical prophecy, and so far as its chronological support is concerned, Jehovah himself adds, ‘I have appointed each day for a year.’ Ezekiel is in this transaction a miniature hieroglyphic of Israel; a man, of a nation. Hence as the man represented the nation in miniature, so the 390 days represented the period of 390 years in miniature.” As to Numbers 14 he stated that “the twelve selected spies jointly constituted a miniature symbol of the entire nation. Accordingly, the predicted term of the national wanderings was analogously represented in miniature also.” Bush concluded that these examples “are to be considered as merely giving us a clue to a general principle of interpretation. Here are two or three striking examples of predictions constructed on the plan of miniature symbolic representation in which the involved periods of time are reduced to a scale proportioned to that of the events themselves. What then more natural or more legitimate, than that when we meet with other prophecies, constructed on precisely the same principle, we should interpret their chronological periods by the same rule?” (ibid.). The difference between the Millerite historicist hermeneutic and Stuart’s approach was, according to Bliss, that on the one handFSDA 71.3

    we have not only shown that the time was accurately fulfilled, but also that the history of those fulfilments accorded perfectly in all the particular minutia, with the respective predictions. On the other hand, it is claimed that those periods were fulfilled in literal days, while it cannot be shown that a single period was fulfilled in the given number of days; or that the particulars of the prophecy accorded with the fulfilment. 4Bliss, “Stuart,” No. VI, The Signs of the Times, October 26, 1842, p. 47. The timing of the flood, the Exodus, the sojourn of Israel in the wilderness, the Babylonian captivity and Daniel 9:24-27 were to him evidences that God worked with “statistical exactness” (ibid., pp. 46, 47).FSDA 72.1

    In 1843 Nathaniel Colver published three sermons criticizing the Millerite position. His interpretation of Daniel 8 and Daniel 12, basically similar to that of Stuart, varied somewhat in the historical data applied to the prophetic time periods. The 2300 days he related to the beginning of the apostasy among the Jews as described in 1 Macc. This apostasy, Colver said, took place “some time previous to the first invasion of Egypt by Antiochus, on his return from which he entered Jerusalem; which gives it a date of something more than six years preceding the cleansing of the sanctuary,” leading to the conclusion that this “gives us the ‘2300 days,’ covering the whole apostasy and subversion.” 1Colver, Daniel, 35. The commencement of the 1290 days he determined on the basis of 1 Macc., which to him provided the evidence that the taking away of the daily sacrifice, the pollution of the sanctuary, the setting up of altars, groves, chapels of idols, and the sacrifices of swine flesh and other unclean animals were performed “at least six months before the setting up of ‘the abomination of desolation’ upon the altar in the temple.” 2Ibid., p. 34. This period he added to the three years and ten days (1 Macc. 1:58; 4:52), giving him the 1290 days of persecution under Antiochus. 4Ibid., p. 36. He said that “the distance the news [Judas’ victory] had to travel to reach him [Antiochus] at Ecbatana, and the subsequent account of his death, leave us little reason to doubt the accuracy of the angel, in fixing the time at forty-five days” (ibid., p. 37) Although Colver stated that there was no exact historical information as to “the precise date of the death of Antiochus, or the precise time when the news of it took effect upon the affairs of the Jews,” he felt that sufficient evidence was available on which to assume that it was “more than probable” that the end of the 1335 days occurred at that event. Colver presented a more fully developed exposition of Daniel 12 than Stuart. The standing up of Michael (12:1) he paraphrased as “the cleansing of the sanctuary, by the victorious arms of the Michael-sustained host of Judas Maccabaeus.” The “time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation” (12:1) he described as the warfare between the Jews and Antiochus’ allies covering the period between the cleansing of the sanctuary (end of 1290 days) and the termination of this oppression caused by the news of Antiochus’ death (end of 1335 days).FSDA 72.2

    Unlike Stuart, Colver saw a sharp difference between the little horn of Daniel 7 and the one of Daniel 8. In his analysis of the difference between these horns as to their origin, rise, character, work, and final end, he indicated that the little horn of Daniel 7 was not Antiochus, but Nero. 7Ibid., pp. 40-50. The period of persecution (7:25) he defined as Nero’s persecution of the Christians during a period of “between three and four years.” 8Ibid., p. 48.FSDA 73.1

    The response to Colver’s position was provided by Bliss in one of the most elaborate Millerite polemics against the Antiochus interpretation. Objections to the Antiochus view which had not been mentioned before included: (1) A hermeneutical objection from Sir Isaac Newton that “a horn of a beast is never taken for a single person: it always signifies a new kingdom; and the kingdom of Antiochus was an old one”; 1Bliss, Colver’s Fulfilment, p. 32. (2) according to 8:23, the little horn was to rise “in the latter time” of the kingdoms of the four horns. Antiochus, however, was “the eighth in the Syrian line of kings, which numbered twenty-five, and he therefore could not be in the latter time of that kingdom”; 2Ibid. (3) the little horn was to cast down the place of the sanctuary (8:11), something which was not accomplished by Antiochus but by the Romans during the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. as had been pointed out in 9:26, “And the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.” 4Ibid., pp. 28-31. Bliss rejected also the interpretation of Nero. Like other Millerite reactions against Dowling and Stuart, one of his major criticisms was that although Colver claimed to have shown that the time periods in Daniel had been fulfilled in literal days, he provided no exact historical evidence but only conjectures suggested by assumed applications of the 2300, 1260, 1290 and 1335 days. Such an approach Bliss regarded as unacceptable, especially when, according to Millerites, the application of the year-day principle was verifiable by precise historical facts.FSDA 73.2

    In 1844 Irah Chase wrote a work which was primarily devoted to the fulfillment of the apocalyptic passages of Daniel by Antiochus Epiphanes. Compared with Dowling, Stuart, and Colver, Chase’s presentation brought out additional information regarding the development of the little horn of Daniel 7 but differed from the others as far as the time periods were concerned. Stating that the little horns of Daniel 7 and Daniel 8 are identical, he argued: “The little horn in Daniel 8:9, arises from one of the branches of the Greek empire, and indicates Antiochus Epiphanes, the little horn in the parallel passage, Daniel 7:8, must arise from the same source, and indicate the same individual; that is, it must arise from the Greek empire.” 6Chase, Daniel, 39. Cf. ibid., pp. 23, 48; Folsom, Daniel, 105, 106. He concluded that “the empire indicated by the fourth beast must be the Greek and not the Roman.” 7Chase, Daniel, 40, 41. The Greek empire he exclusively associated with the dynasty of Seleucus. 9In general historicists employed the hermeneutical principle that the ten horns and the little horn of Daniel 7, and the four horns and the little horn of Daniel 8, symbolized kingdoms. Those tending toward historical-criticism identified the ten horns of Daniel 7 and the little horns of Daniel 7 and Daniel 8 as kings but the four horns of Daniel 8 as kingdoms. Cf. ibid., pp. 36-38. The ten horns of this beast (7:7, 8, 24) he did not interpret as kingdoms but as “kings or aspirants to the crown of that dynasty before Antiochus Epiphanes ascended the throne.” The three horns he identified with “the usurper Heliodorus [royal treasurer], the aspirant Ptolemy [nephew of Seleucus Philopator], and Demetrius [son of Seleucus Philopator] the legitimate heir” who “all stood in the way of Antiochus Epiphanes.” 1Chase, Daniel, 25, 26. Cf. ibid., p. 36. Folsom suggested “three of Alexander’s immediate successors, who are explicably mentioned as kings, viz. Antigonus, Lysimachus, and Demetrius” who were subdued by Seleucus I (Daniel, 101, 102).FSDA 74.1

    In his time calculations Chase interpreted Daniel 8:14, like Dowling, as “two thousand and three hundred times of sacrifice, evening and morning,” signifying 1150 days. 2Chase, Daniel, 57, 59, 60. On the assumption that the little horns of Daniel 7 and Daniel 8 were identical, he interpreted “time and times and the dividing of time” (7:25) in the light of 8:14 as an equivalent of 1150 days. 3Ibid., pp. 61, 62. Cf. supra, p. 65. Although admitting that precise historical evidence about its beginning was lacking he dated this period, during which both the sanctuary and the Jewish people were to be trodden down, “from the taking away of the daily sacrifice to its restoration.” 5Ibid., pp. 80, 81. He stated: “The events recorded in the fifth chapter of the first book of Maccabees, as occurring between the restoration of the daily sacrifice and his death would seem to require a period of, at least, 140 days, or somewhat more than four months” (ibid., p. 81). He stated that the 1150, 1290, and 1335 days had the same starting point. The 1290 days, which he described as “a more definite statement” of 12:7-“a time, times, and a half”-terminated with the death of Antiochus, 140 days after the restoration. According to Chase, forty-five days later, at the termination of the 1335 days, the news of Antiochus’ death reached the Jews.FSDA 75.1

    Apollos Hale rejected Chase’s view that the rise of the little horn of Daniel 7 had been fulfilled in the person of Antiochus Epiphanes, who had seven kings as his predecessors and eliminated three pretenders to the throne. According to him, the account of the origin of the little horn clearly provided a different picture because “‘it [fourth beast] had ten horns,’ and ‘the little horn came up AMONG them,’ [7:8] implying their existence all at one time. Before this little horn ‘three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots.’” 7Hale, “Review,” p. 131. In Hale’s opinion the interpretation was equally plain: “The fourth beast is the fourth kingdom upon earth, and the ten horns are ten kings that shall arise, and another shall rise after them, and he shall subdue THREE KINGS” (7:24). 1Ibid. Furthermore, he saw in Chase’s argumentation various unanswered problems:FSDA 75.2

    If the kingdom, represented by the fourth beast, consisted of the four divisions of Alexander’s kingdom, why should the horns or kings be confined to one division of his kingdom [Seleucan dynasty]? If that one division is the fourth kingdom, did the little horn come up among the ten horns or kings, specified by Dr. Chase, (granting the “usurpers and aspirants,” by which only he can make out the number, were kings) any more than he come up among the twenty-three, or more kings of the same dynasty? 2Ibid., pp. 131, 132.FSDA 76.1

    Chase’s hermeneutic identifying the three throne pretenders with horns or kings was also questioned. Finally, Hale found it problematic that after the judgment was executed on Antiochus by the Ancient of Days, which according to Chase took place with the destruction of the beast (7:9-11), the Seleucan dynasty continued to exist for more than a hundred years. 3Ibid., p. 132.FSDA 76.2

    In 1844, due to a growing opposition and a polarization of positions between Millerites and other Christians, various Millerites associated the above described historical-critical trends with the term “Neology” as other evangelical Christians had done before. Regarding the views of Stuart and Chase, Millerites remarked that “one of the most alarming features of the present state of the churches, is, the railroad speed with which many of the most prominent divines are leaving the OLD LANDMARKS, and taking Neological ground.4Editorial, “The Neology of the Church,” AH, April 3, 1844, p. 68. Cf. Editorial, “A Specimen of Elder Shaw’s Neology,” AH, April 24, 1844, p. 93; [Himes], “New Publication,” AH, March 13, 1844, p. 48; Whiting, Neology, pp 33-39. Colver and Dowling were also accused of Neology. 5Ibid., p. 47. According to Nathan N. Whiting, D.D., 7Whiting, Neology, p. 3. He attributed the reason for its German origin to the face that “the German church was a national establishment.” Through this Church-State relationship the “magistracy,” who preferred “high literary qualifications” above “vital piety,“ had an influence on the church’s affairs which resulted in “the admission of unconverted men into religious offices” (ibid., pp. 4, 5). a Baptist scholar and Millerite lecturer and editor, the term “Neology” could be equated with “Rationalism” and had once been applied to “the actual creed of a large portion of the members of the German church, who profess a nominal adhesion to the Augsburgh Confession of Faith, while they reject its fundamental principles” and maintain positions in contradiction to it. Now the term was described as “New Theology-departing from the old established principles of Biblical interpretation, and leaving the faith once delivered to the saints, for new doctrine,” which had adopted “views on the prophecies in accordance with the philosophies of Germany and France.” 1Editorial, “Backing Out,” AH, February 21, 1844, p. 20. Cf. Whiting, Neology, pp. 1-33; Editorial, “The Methodists Also on the Road to German Neology,” AH, April 10, 1844, p. 76. It is evident that the Millerites had no sympathy with the hermeneutics employed by those who tended toward historical criticism.FSDA 76.3

    Larger font
    Smaller font