Studies in the Scriptures
Zion's Watch Tower
DAYS OF WAITING FOR THE KINGDOM
The Kingdom Work Epitomized--The Waiting Period to be Marked by Great Increase of Knowledge and of Travel--Sir Isaac Newton's Foreview of Railroading--The 1260 Days--The Flood from the Mouth of the Dragon--The 1290 Days Mark the Spread of an Understanding of the Vision, Partially Correct--The Disappointment, Trial and Consequences --The 1335 Days--The Blessing Then upon the Faithful "Waiting" Ones--The Lord's Reference to These Waiting Days, in The Parable of The Ten Virgins.
THE "Time of the End" having been pointed out in chapter eleven, chapter twelve points to the Kingdom, and tells of waiting, etc., which would precede its establishment, during the "Time of the End." The first three verses express in few words the grand outcome of God's plan.
"And at [in] that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to lasting life, and some to shame and lasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament [the Sun--Matt. 13:43]; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars, for ever and ever."
If, in the eleventh chapter, the summary of 2,300 years of the world's history was brief and pointed, yet clear, this summary of Messiah's Millennial reign, in three verses, is still more so. And yet it is all there. Michael (which signifies "Who as God," or one representing God) is the name here applied to our great Redeemer, who is indeed the great Prince ordained of God to stand forth and deliver Daniel's people, God's people--all who love God in truth and sincerity-- Israelites indeed. (Rom. 9:6,25,26; Gal. 6:16) He will deliver them from sin, ignorance, pain and death, and from all the persecutions and besetments of Satan's blinded servants, which have in the past almost overwhelmed them. All found written in the Lamb's Book of life will be delivered forever, from all enemies: those written as worthy during the Jewish and Patriarchal ages as well as those written during the Gospel age, and those who will be written during the Millennial age. Though all God's people (all who, when brought to a knowledge of him, love and obey him) will be delivered, yet the degrees of honor to be granted to some--the overcomers--are carefully noted; also the fact that some of the great ones of the past--Alexander, Nero, Napoleon, the Caesars, the popes, etc.--whose talents, misused, crushed while they dazzled the world, will be seen in their true characters, and be ashamed and dishonored during that Millennial age. Nor does this brief synopsis of Christ's reign omit mention of the great time of trouble by which it will be inaugurated--a time of trouble in comparison with which no past revolution will compare, a trouble with which even the French Revolution will be small, a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation, no, nor ever shall be; for this great Prince, Michael, will not only conquer the whole world, but his dominion is to be an everlasting dominion. Justice is the foundation of
his throne, and when mankind has once tasted of its benefits the great majority will never consent to another, for his Kingdom will be "the desire of all nations."
Here the thread of this prophecy, having run its full length, stops, and the remaining verses of the chapter are for the purpose of furnishing (not to Daniel and his fellowservants in his day, but to God's children, Daniel's fellowservants living in the Time of the End) certain periods of 1260, 1290 and 1335 symbolic days, respectively, by which, in the due time, we may be convinced, concerning the time in which we are living that it is indeed the Harvest time or "End" of the Gospel age.
Daniel, who had heard the long account of the strifes between the kingdoms of this world, and now finally of the triumph of God's Kingdom in the hands of Michael, the great Prince, was anxious to know
it would deliver the Lord's people. But he is told (verse 4): "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the Time of the End: [then] many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increase."
Not only does the general increase of knowledge experienced confirm the teachings of Daniel xi, that the Time of the End began in 1799, but the predicted running to and fro --much and rapid traveling--also confirms it. These all belong to the Time of the End. The first steamboat was operated in 1807; the first steamcar in 1831; the first telegraph in 1844; yet today thousands of mammoth cars and steamships are carrying multitudes hither and thither, "to and fro."
Sir Isaac Newton, the celebrated astronomer of the seventeenth century, was greatly interested in this statement by the Prophet Daniel, and declared his belief that in fulfilment of it human knowledge would so increase that men would possibly travel at the rate of fifty miles an hour.
Voltaire, the noted French infidel, got hold of this statement and scornfully remarked:
"Now look at the mighty mind of Newton, the great philosopher who discovered the law of gravitation: when he became an old man and got into his dotage, he began to study the book called the Bible, and in order to credit its fabulous nonsense he would have us believe that the knowledge of mankind will yet be so increased that we shall by-and-by be able to travel fifty miles an hour! Poor dotard!"
Both of these men died long before the Time of the End had brought its wonderful increase of knowledge, which more than fulfils the prediction of the Christian philosopher, based upon the divine revelation.
Not for Daniel, but for God's children living during the Time of the End, was the conversation, etc., related in verses 5-7: "And I, Daniel, looked, and behold there were two others standing, one on this side of the bank of the
], and the other on that side of the bank of the flood. And one said to the man who was above the waters of the stream, 'How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?' Then heard I the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the flood; and he lifted up his right hand and his left unto the heavens and swore by the Everliving One that [the end should be] after a time, times and half a time."
The matter of special inquiry was the "abomination of desolation," of chapter 11:31-33, which Daniel rightly associated with the terrible character seen in his previous visions, recorded in chapters 7:8-11,21,24-26 and 8:10-12, 24-26.
The time, times and half a time, or three and a half times or years (360 x 3 1/2 = 1260 days, symbolic time--1260 literal years), here mentioned, are elsewhere shown to be the period of Papacy's power. Compare Dan. 7:25; 12:7 and Rev. 12:14
with Rev. 12:6; 13:5. The "flood" in or during which these 1260 years of Papal power terminated--as shown by the angel standing
the flood, declaring the limit of the times--symbolized a condition of things during the French revolution already referred to. This is the same "flood" mentioned in Rev. 12:15,16, where it is shown more fully, as coming out of the mouth of the serpent or dragon, and where its real object, from Satan's standpoint, is explained to be to overwhelm the "woman" (the protesting Church of God), as her three and a half times (1260 years) of wilderness-hiding were about closing, and she was coming forward into prominence "leaning on [the arm of] her beloved," The Word of God. Songs of Solomon 8:5
In symbol, water generally represents
, and the symbol preserves its meaning even though it be said to issue from the mouth of the dragon or serpent. The thought conveyed by this symbol is that
would issue forth through evil agencies, and with an evil intent. And just this we find: the strength of the French revolution lay in the fact that it was instigated by many stern
, regarding priest-craft and king-craft, and regarding the individual rights and liberties of all. "The Rights of Man" was indeed the watchword of that revolt against civil and ecclesiastical oppression. Truths regarding human rights were seen and expressed there which cause us surprise when we consider the ignorance, superstition and servility of that day, under which the masses had so long rested. Many of the
which then swept as a "flood" over France, deluging it with blood, are now very generally accepted among all civilized peoples; but they were too strong, and too suddenly put, for that time.
Indeed, the prophecy clearly shows that the serpent, Satan, did not intend what under God's providence has resulted, but the reverse. In this he overreached himself, as he
has done on other occasions. Satan will never send forth the waters of truth to bless and refresh and release from bondage: on the contrary his effort has all along been to blind and securely bind mankind under ignorance and superstition; and this sudden flood of waters (truth) was designed to act as an emetic, to lead to the casting out of the
of liberty already being received by the people from the Bible, as the result of the Reformation, and thus to force rulers and teachers to oppose the truth through fear of anarchy.
Satan's design in instigating the French revolution was to create an alarm throughout Europe, especially among the influential class, unfavorable to liberty and to illustrate in France the theory that, were the superstitions of Rome to be overthrown and liberty to be given full sway, all law and order would speedily end. This was a master-stroke of policy, worthy of its author, and designed, as the prophet shows, to overwhelm the "woman" (the reformed Church), and to drive all conservatives and peace-lovers--rulers and ruled--back to union and harmony with Papacy. The failure of the scheme was not due to lack of craftiness in its designer, but to the overruling power of God, whereby he is able to cause all things to work together for good.
In this case God's plan, for the protection of the "woman" (Church) from Satan's wiles and for causing the intended ill to work out good, may be clearly traced, in exact fulfilment of the prediction made seventeen hundred years before, viz: "And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth." The "earth," in symbol, as already explained, represents society--order-loving people; and it is a fact of history that the flood of truth which spread over France--arraigning Papacy and its priest-craft, and monarchy and its parasitic aristocracy, as the responsible causes of much of the ignorance, poverty and superstition of the people--was swallowed up, or absorbed
by the people of Europe generally (the Roman "earth"). To such an extent was this the case, that though Papacy and royal aristocracy were thoroughly alarmed, they were also thoroughly separated, by the fall of Papal influence as well as by Napoleon's armies. And when the "man of destiny" was finally crushed, and the rulers of Europe formed what was called "The Holy Alliance," for the suppression of the liberties of the people and the perpetuation of their own thrones, it was too late to fetter the people; for, having drunk up the flood of waters, they would not submit. It was also too late to think of re-establishing Papacy, which had been so terribly humiliated and whose anathemas against liberty and the French had so reacted against itself; so the pope was
not even invited
to join the "Holy Alliance," of which before he would have been the recognized head. Thus the "woman," the reformed and progressing Church of God, was helped, spared from being overwhelmed, and liberty and truth stepped out to prominence before men; and from that time forward the spirit of liberty and God's Word have led all who were willing to follow, into more and more light and truth.
Here, then, was the "flood" which marked both the end of Papal power and the beginning of the Lord's "Day of Preparation" or "Time of the End." It was on this flood that the Lord's messenger was prophetically seen to stand, to announce the close of the time, times and half a time. And this announcement was made in reply to the query, "How long to the end of these strange things?" The "strange things" or "wonders" referred to were not the things of chapter 12:1-3, relating to the Kingdom of God. Those were not strange, but expected. The "strange things" were the intervening troubles, persecutions and trials of God's holy people,
during, and as a result of, the supremacy of the peculiar power or "horn," Papacy; concerning which Daniel had before specially inquired. (Dan. 7:19-22)
The query was, How long will God permit these wonderful perversions of the truth, this wonderful deception of his children and the nations? The answer given measures the Papal power, giving definitely the time of its close, and adds, "When the crushing of the power of the holy people is [thus] ended, all these [strange] things shall be finished."
In verse 5, Daniel is shown a person on each side of the "flood," asking jointly when the strange things would end. This seems to indicate that even when Papal power had ended, people would be in doubt as before, as to whether or not its persecuting and crushing power was really at an end. And no wonder, when we remember that even after its power was broken, after its "
was taken away," and even while it was being consumed, this "horn," as recently as 1870, uttered great words concerning its infallibility. Daniel, representing the saints, says (Dan. 7:11), "I watched it then [after its dominion was gone and it was powerless longer to crush the truth, the power of the holy people],
of the voice of the great words which that horn spoke, and I saw that [it got no power over the holy saints and the truth, but it did have another effect] the beast was slain, the body thereof destroyed and given to the burning flame"--general anarchy. The destruction of the remnant of governments in the old Roman empire, caused by the misleading influence of Papacy's continued bombastic utterances, even after its dominion is gone, is thus shown.
Since the close of the times of Papal power are not only thus clearly fixed, as occurring during the French Revolution, but also by the events of chapter 11:40-44, which mark the very year 1799, we can readily measure backward 1260 years to note whether Papal power had its beginning there. If we find that it had, we have our evidence as clear and strong as faith could ask. Let us thus verify.
Measuring back 1260 years from 1799 would bring us to A.D. 539, where we shall show the Papal power began. But the Papal system has been such a mixture of state-craft and priest-craft, and had such a small and gradual beginning, as well as gradual ending, that a variety of opinions as to its commencement and close would be reasonable as well as possible, until we obtain God's fixed dates for its rise and fall, and see how very correct they are. Papacy claimed supremacy in church and state affairs, and mixed in politics, before it was recognized by opponents; even as it has also attempted to exercise civil authority, and has declared its head infallible, since the period at which prophecy shows its power was broken and its consumption began. But Papacy has not been recognized by the Italian people of the province of Romagna since the spell of ignorance and superstitious reverence was broken during the French Revolution. Though at times, between revolutions, the pope has sat as nominal ruler of the Papal states, it has been merely as a foreign invader, the representative of Austria or France, whose troops by turns protected him in office.
Now, knowing that the 1260 years began at A.D. 539, we are enabled to find what would not before have been recognized. Papists themselves are more inclined to date their beginning of power either at the conversion of Constantine and the nominal Christianizing of the Roman empire in A.D. 328, or from the presentation of the Papal states to the church by Charlemagne in A.D. 800. The fact stands, however, that Constantine in no wise recognized civil power as a right or possession of the church. On the contrary, though he favored Christianity, it was rather the church that made the emperor at least its
, so that the emperor called church councils and meddled in church affairs, though the church was not permitted to meddle in civil matters. The date A.D. 539, shown by the prophetic measuring rod of 1260 years, is nearly midway between this
union of church and empire in A.D. 328, and its full, complete recognition by Charlemagne, as the head of all authority --the dispenser of civil as well as religious authority--A.D. 800.
From the time of Constantine, the bishops of Rome had held a most prominent position before the world, and they began ere long to claim an authority over all others--in the church as well as in the world--demanding that some
person should be recognized as an authority or head in the church, and that the bishops of Rome should be that one. They claimed that Peter as well as Paul had lived in Rome, and that Rome was thus constituted the seat of apostolic authority, and also that, by reason of its long having been the seat of the Caesars and the seat of civil government, it held a place of authority in the minds of the people.
These pleas for supremacy were not readily conceded, however. The spirit of rivalry was abroad, and other bishops in other large cities claimed supremacy also, some upon one and some upon another ground. It was not until A.D. 533 that the bishop of Rome was thus recognized by the emperor, Justinian I. This was in connection with a warm religious discussion in which the emperor took sides with the bishop of Rome, recognizing the Virgin Mary's worthiness of adoration, and disputing with the Eutychians and Nestorians regarding distinctions and blendings of natures in our Lord Jesus. The emperor feared that the discussion might divide the church, and thus divide the empire which he was desirous of more firmly uniting; for even at that early day the nominal church and the empire were one and the same--"Christendom." And desiring to have some authority as a standard to settle the dispute, and to tell the people what to believe and what to disbelieve, and finding the bishop of Rome already the most popular of the claimants to primacy (popedom or headship), as well as the one most "orthodox"--the one most nearly in harmony
with the emperor's views on the questions--Justinian, by documents, not only condemned the doctrines of the Eutychians and Nestorians, but, addressing the bishop of Rome as the
of all the holy churches, and of all the holy priests of God, thus acknowledged him, and desired to assist the pope in putting down the heresy and in establishing the unity of the church.
In conjunction with this edict, the emperor thus addressed Pope John, patriarch of Rome*:
"The victorious Justinian, the devout, the fortunate, the renowned, the triumphant, the ever august, to John, the most holy archbishop of the fostering city of Rome, and patriarch. Rendering honor to the Apostolic See and to your Holiness (as always was and is our desire), and reverencing your Blessedness, as befits a father, we have hastened to bring to the notice of your Holiness everything which concerns the condition of the churches, since it has always been our great desire to guard the unity of your Apostolic See, and the standing of the holy churches of God, which still maintains itself and endures unshaken, with nothing to
*"Victor Justinianus, pius, felix, inclytus, triumphator, semper Augustus, Joanni sanctissimo Archiepiscopo almae Urbis Romae et Patriarchae.
"Reddentes honorem apostolicae sedi, et vestrae sanctitati (quod semper nobis in voto et fuit et est), et ut decet patrem honorantes vestram beatitudinem, omnia quae ad ecclesiarum statum pertinent festinavimus ad notitiam deferre vestrae sanctitatis; quoniam semper nobis fuit magnum studium, unitatem vestrae apostolicae sedis, et statum sanctarum Dei ecclesiarum custodire, qui hactenus obtinet, et in commote permanet, nulla intercedente contrarietate Ideoque omnes sacerdotes universi Orientalis tractus et subjicere et unire sedi vestrae sanctitatis properavimus. In praesenti ergo quae commota sunt (quamvis manifesta et indubitata sint et secundum apostolicae vestrae sedis doctrinam ab omnibus semper sacertotibus firme custodita et praedicata) necessarium duximus, ut ad notitiam vestrae sanctitatis perveniant. Nec enim patimur quicquam, quod ad ecclesiarum statum pertinet, quamvis manifestum et indubitatum sit, quod movetur, ut non etiam vestrae innotescat sanctitati quae caput est omnium sanctarum ecclesiarum. Per omnia enim (ut distum est) properamus honorem et auctoritatem crescere vestrae sedis."
prevail against it. And so we have hastened to make subject to the See of your Holiness, and to unite with it, all the priests of the whole Eastern district. At present, then, we have held it necessary that there come to the notice of your Holiness the matters which are in commotion, however plain and certain they are, and however firmly they have always been guarded and declared by all the priests according to the doctrine of your Apostolic See. For we do not permit that any question be raised as to anything which concerns the state of the churches, however plain and certain it be, that be not also made known to your Holiness, who is the Head of all the holy churches. For in all points (as has been said) we are eager to add to the honor and authority of your See."
The epistle next refers to certain views, styled heretical, which were causing the commotion, and gives the emperor's faith as in harmony with that of the Church of Rome. It concludes as follows*:
*"Suscipimus autem sancta quatuor concilia: id est, trecentorum decem et octo sanctorum patrum qui in Nicaena urbe congregati sunt: et centum quinquaginta sanctorum patrum qui in hac regia urbe convenerunt: et sanctorum patrum qui in Epheso primo congregati sunt: et sanctorum patrum qui in Chalcedone convenerunt: sicut vestra apostolica sedis docet atque praedicat. Omnes ergo sacerdotes sequentes doctrinam apostolicae sedis vestrae ita credunt et praedicant.
"Unde properavimus hoc ad notitiam deferre vestrae sanctitatis per Hypatium et Demetrium, beatissimos episcopos, ut nec vestram sanctitatem lateat, quae et a quibusdam paucis monachis male et Judaice secundum Nestorii perfidiam denegata sunt. Petimus ergo vestrum paternum afectum; ut vestris ad nos destinatis literis, et ad sanctissimum episcopum hujus almae urbis, et patriarcham vestrum fratrem (quoniam et ipse per eosdem scripsit ad vestram sanctitatem, festinans in omnibus sedem sequi apostolicam beatitudinis vestrae), manifestum nobis faciatis, quod omnes qui praedicta recte confitentur, suscipit vestra sanctitas, et eorum qui Judaice aussi sint rectam denegare fidem, condemnat perfidiam. Plus enim ita circa vos omnium amor, et vestrae sedis crescet auctoritas; et quae ad vos est unitas sanctarum ecclesiarum inturbata servabitur, quando per vos didicerint omnes beatissimi episcopi eorum, quae ad vos relata sunt, sinceram vestrae sanctitatis doctrinam. Petimus autem vestram beautitudinem orare pro nobis, et Dei nobis adquirere providentiam."
"Now we admit [the validity of] four sacred councils: that is, of the 318 holy fathers who gathered in the city of Nicae [Council of Nice], and of the 140 holy fathers who assembled in this royal city [Council of Constantinople], and of the holy fathers who first gathered in Ephesus [Council of Ephesus], and of the holy fathers who assembled in Chalcedon [Council of Chalcedon], as your Apostolic See teaches and affirms. All priests, therefore, who follow the doctrine of your Apostolic See, so believe, and confess, and affirm. Hence we have hastened to bring to the notice of your Holiness, through Hypatius and Demetrius, most blessed bishops, that it may not lie hidden from your Holiness what [doctrines] have been wickedly denied by some few monks, after the Jewish manner, according to the heresy of Nestorius. We therefore seek your paternal regard, [praying] that by a letter addressed to us and to the most holy bishops of this fair city, and to the patriarch, your brother (since he himself, too, has written by the same to your Holiness, hastening in all points to follow the Apostolic See of your Blessedness), you make manifest to us that your Holiness accepts all who duly confess what is ordained, and condemns the heresy of these who have dared, after the Jewish manner, to deny the true faith. For thus the love of all for you and the authority of your See will grow the greater; and the unity of the holy churches, which has been disturbed, will be preserved to you, since through you all the most blessed bishops will have learned the genuine doctrine of your Holiness, as to those points which have been
referred to you
. Now we entreat your Blessedness to pray for us, and to obtain for us the protection of heaven."
Pope John replied to the above, under date of March 24th, A.D. 534.*
*We quote as follows from his reply:
"Gloriosissimo et clementissimo filio Justiniano Augusto,
"Johannes Episcopus Urbis Romae.
"Inter claras saptentiae ac mansuetudinis vestrae laudes, Christianissime principum, puriore luce tanquam aliquod sydus irradiat, quod amore fidei, quod charitatis studio edocti ecclesiasticis disiplinis, Romanae sedis reverentiam conservatis, et ei cuncta subjicitis, et ad ejus deducitis unitatem, ad cujus auctorem, hoc est apostolorum primum, Domino loquente praeceptum est, Pasce oves meas
: Quam esse omnium
Upon the same occasion the emperor wrote to the patriarch of Constantinople. The first paragraph of his letter we quote, as follows*:
"Epiphanius, the most holy and most blessed Archbishop of this royal city, and Ecumenical Patriarch:-- Wishing your Holiness to know all matters which relate to the condition of the church, we have held it necessary to make use of these ecclesiastical compends, and through these to make manifest what movements are already started, although we are persuaded that you also know of these. And since we had ascertained that certain ones, aliens from the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, had followed the heresy of the impious Nestorius and Eutyches, we promulgated an ecclesiastical edict (as your Holiness also knows) in which we censured the madness of the heretics. In no manner whatever have we changed, or shall we change, or have we (as your Holiness also knows) passed beyond
vere ecclesiarum caput, et patrum regulae et principum statuta declarant, et pietatis vestrae reverendissimi testantur affatus.*** Proinde serenitatis vestrae apices, per Hypatium atque Demetrium, sanctissimos viros, fratres et coepiscopos meos, reverentia consueta sescepimus: quorum etiam relatione comperimus, quod fidelibus populis proposuistis edictum amore fidei pro submovenda haereticorum intentione, secundum apostolicam doctrinam, fratum et coepiscoporum nostrorum interveniente consensu. Quod, quia apostolicae doctrinae convenit, nostra auctoritate confirmamus." *"Epiphanio sanctissimo et beatissimo Archiepiscopo Regiae hujus Urbis et Ecumenico Patriarchae.
"Cognoscere volentes tuam sanctitatem ea omnia quae ad ecclesiasticum spectant statum: necessarium duximus, hisce ad eam uti divinis compendiis, ac per ea manifesta eidem facere, quae jam moveri coepta sunt, quamquam et illa eandem cognoscere sumus persuasi. Cum itaque comperissemus quosdam alienos a sancta, catholica, et apostolica ecclesia, impiorum Nestorii et Eutychetis sequutos deceptionem, divinum antehac promulgavimus edictum (quod et tua novit sanctitas) per quod haereticorum furores reprehendimus, ita ut nullo quovis omnino modo immutaverimus, immutemus aut praetergressi simus eum, qui nunc usque, coadjuvante Deo, servatus est, ecclesiasticum statum (quemadmodum et tua novit sanctitas) sed in omnibus servato statu unitatis sanctissimarum ecclesiarum cum ipso S. S. Papa veteris Romae, ad quem similia hisce perscripsimus. Nec enim patimur ut quicquam eorum, quae ad ecclesiasticum spectant statum, non etiam ac ejusdem referatur beatitudinem: quum ea sit caput omnium sanctissimorum Dei sacertotum; vel eo maxime quod, quoties in eis locis haeretici pullularunt, et sententia et recto judicio illius venerabilis sedis coerciti sunt."
that position of the church which, by the favor of God, has as yet been preserved; but in all respects
the unity of the most holy churches with his
SUPREME HOLINESS, THE POPE OF ANCIENT ROME (to whom we have written in like manner), has been maintained. For we do not suffer that any of those matters which relate to the state of the church be not also referred to HIS BLESSEDNESS,
since he is the head of all the most holy churches of God
; even especially for this reason, that as often as heretics have sprung up in those parts, they have been repressed [literally, pruned off, as the sprouts of a tree] by the wisdom and righteous decisions of that venerable See."
The letters from which we have given the foregoing extracts may be found complete, together with the Edict of Justinian* referred to, in the Volume of the Civil Law. Codicis lib. I tit.i
This, the first official recognition of Papacy's claims, was afterward confessed more and more pointedly by Phocus and succeeding emperors.
But even after being recognized as a ruler, a sacerdotal emperor, for the time it was of no special advantage to Papacy, beyond the empty name; for Justinian was far from
*An extract from this edict reads as follows:
"Imp. Justinian. A. Constantinopolitis.
"Cum Salvatorem et Dominum omnium Jesum Christum verum Deum nostrum colamus per omnia, studemus etiam (quatenus datum est humanae menti assequi) imitari ejus condescensionem seu demissionem. Etenim cum quosdam invenerimus morbo atque insania detentos impiorum Nestorii et Eutychetis. Dei et sanctae catholicae et apostolicae ecclesiae hostium, nempe qui detrectabant sanctam gloriosam semper virginem Mariam Theotocon sive Deiparam appellare proprie et secundum veritatem: illos festinavimus quae sit recta Christianorum fides edocere. Nam hi incurabiles cum sint, celantes errorem suum passim circumeunt (sicut didicimus) et simpliciorium animos exturbant et scandalizant, ea astruentes quae sunt sanctae catholicae ecclesiae contraria. Necessarium igitur esse putavimus, tam haereticorum vaniloquia et mendacia dissipare, quam omnibus insinuare, quomodo aut sentiat sancta Dei et catholica et apostolica ecclesia, aut praedicent sanctissimi ejus sacerdotes; quos et nos sequuti, manifesta constituimus ea quae fidei nostrae sunt; non quidem innovantes fidem (quod absit) sed coarguantes eorum insaniam qui eadem cum impiis haereticis sentiunt. Quod quidem et nos in nostri imperii primordiis pridem satagentes cunctis fecimus manifestum."
Rome, with his capital at Constantinople. Rome, and Italy in general, was under the sway of another kingdom--the Ostrogoths--who did not recognize the bishop of Rome as supreme pontiff; for they were mainly Arians in faith. Papacy, therefore, was exalted and advantaged in name only, by the emperor's recognition, until the fall of the Ostrogothic Monarchy, when its exaltation became an actual fact. Indeed, as if by a preconcerted arrangement, the emperor at once (A.D. 534) sent Belisarius and an army into Italy, and in six years after the pope's recognition by the emperor, the Ostrogothic power was vanquished, and their king Vitiges and the flower of his army were taken with other trophies to Justinian's feet. This was in A.D. 539, which is therefore the point of time from which we should reckon the "Desolating Abomination
." Papacy there had its small beginning. There the little, peculiar "horn" noted in Daniel's prophecy (Dan. 7:8,11,20-22,25), just began to push itself up, upon the Roman beast. It began to form or take root two centuries before, and in two centuries after its small appearance its "look was more stout than its fellows"--the other horns, authorities or powers, in the territory of the old empire--and its eyes, and its mouth speaking great swelling words, began to develop; and it lorded it over the other horns, claiming divine right to do so.
The Prophet had said that three horns would be plucked up, or rooted out, to make room or prepare the way for this peculiar power or "horn." And so we find it: Constantine built Constantinople, and removed his capital thither; this, though favorable to Papacy's development in the seat of the Caesars, was unfavorable to the empire; and soon it was found expedient to divide the empire, and Italy was thenceforth
known as the Western Empire, whose seat or capital was at Ravenna. This was one of the "horns": it fell, A.D. 476, at the hands of the Heruli, another of the horns, which established itself on its ruins. Next came the Ostrogothic kingdom, another "horn," overthrowing the Heruli and establishing itself as ruler of Italy, A.D. 489. And, as we have just seen, it was during the power of this "horn" (the third to be rooted out to make way for the papal horn) that Justinian acknowledged the papal supremacy; and it was by his orders, and by his general and his army, that it was plucked up. And, as we have seen, its plucking up was necessary to the advancement of Papacy to power, as a peculiar blending of political and religious power--a peculiar "horn," differing from its fellows. Indeed, it seems not improbable that the Papacy was secretly favorable to the fall of each of these "horns" or powers, hoping thus to open the way to its own exaltation, just as it finally resulted.
With the overthrow of the Ostrogoths, the Roman emperor was recognized for some time as the ruler of Italy, and was represented by Exarchs; but since these had their capital at Ravenna, and not at Rome, and since they had come to recognize the Papacy in the manner shown, it follows that from A.D. 539 Papacy was recognized as the chief authority in the city of Rome; and that from that date (when it was "set up") it began to grow and thrive as a "
among the other "horns" or powers, representing the formerly united power of Rome. The fact of the greatly disturbed condition of Italy, and especially of Rome, about this period, subject to the pillage of invaders from the North, as well as to heavy taxes by whichever master was nearest at the time, helped to break up political loyalty to the imperial power at Constantinople; so that the church-rulers, always with them, speaking the same language, and sharing their advantages and losses, were readily accepted
by the people as the advisers, protectors and rulers of the city of Rome and its environs.
No doubt, indeed, the object of Justinian in acknowledging the claims of the bishop of Rome to superiority over others was also in part to gain his cooperation in the war he was about to wage against the Ostrogoths, to regain Italy as a part of the Eastern Roman Empire; for the influence of the pope and the church was by no means inconsiderable even then; and to have them on his side in the war was half the conquest won, at the very outstart.
Though the Goths rebelled against the empire, and sacked the city of Rome, they did not re-establish their rule, and its only government was that of the church. And though the Lombard kingdom soon came in and established its rule over most of Italy, even overthrowing the rule of the Eastern empire established by Justinian in the hands of the Exarchs, yet be it carefully noted that the Lombards recognized the authority of the Papacy in Rome. It was not until near the end of that kingdom, in the eighth century, that any serious attempts were made against the Papal authority, the narrative of which only serves to establish the fact that the popes in turn were Rome's real rulers, the claimed "successors of the Caesars"--"the spiritual Caesars"-- though they claimed the
of the government at Constantinople as long as it advantaged them to do so. When the Lombards finally sought to take possession of Rome, the pope appealed to the French king to
the church (Papacy), and to maintain them in their long uninterrupted control of what they called "The Patrimony of St. Peter," which they claimed* had been bestowed upon the church by Constantine.
*That those claims were false, and based upon forgeries--"The Forged Decretals"--is now freely acknowledged, even by Roman Catholics. Constantine made no such gift: Papacy grew into its power and control of Rome, as we have here described.
The French kings, Pepin and Charlemagne, each in turn brought his army for the protection of Papacy's dominion, and vanquished the Lombards. It was the latter of these who in A.D. 800 formally presented to Papacy several states known as the "Papal States," already referred to--
to the city and suburbs of Rome, actually held by Papacy from A.D. 539. So, then, the Lombard Kingdom or "horn" did not hinder, nor occupy the place of, the papal horn, as some have surmised, even though it did sometimes crowd it.
Of this attack by the Lombards upon Rome, Gibbon says:
"A memorable example of repentance and piety was exhibited by Lutiprand, king of the Lombards. In arms, at the gate of the Vatican, the conqueror listened to the voice of Gregory I, withdrew his troops, resigned his conquest, respectfully visited the church of St. Peter, and, after performing his devotions, offered his sword and dagger, his cuirass and mantle, his silver cross and crown of gold, on the tomb of the apostle." But "His successor, Astolphus, declared himself the equal enemy of the emperor and the pope:...Rome was summoned to acknowledge the victorious Lombard as her lawful sovereign....The Romans hesitated; they entreated; they complained; and the threatening barbarians were checked by arms and negotiations
until the popes
had engaged the friendship of an ally and avenger beyond the Alps."
The pope (Stephen III) visited France, and succeeded in getting the needed assistance; and, says Gibbon, returned as a conqueror at the head of a French army which was led by the king [Pepin] in person. The Lombards, after a weak resistance, obtained an ignominious peace, and swore to
the possessions and to respect the sanctity of the Roman Church.
As an illustration of the claims of the popes and of the kind of power by which they claimed and held dominion, we quote again from Gibbon a letter of Pope Stephen III,
sent at this time to the king of France. The Lombards had again assaulted Rome, shortly after the French army had retired, and the pope desired fresh assistance. He wrote in the name of the Apostle Peter, saying:
"The Apostle assures his adopted sons, the king, the clergy and the nobles of France, that, dead in the flesh, he is still alive in the spirit; that they now hear, and
, the voice of the founder and guardian of the Roman church; that the Virgin, the angels, the saints, the martyrs, and all the host of heaven unanimously urge the request, and will confess the
; that riches, victory and paradise will crown their pious enterprise, and that
will be the penalty of their neglect, if they suffer his tomb, his temple and his people to fall into the hands of the perfidious Lombards." And Gibbon adds, "The second expedition of Pepin was not less rapid and fortunate than the first: St. Peter was satisfied; Rome was again saved."
As this beginning of Papacy's
was obscure, and yet important to be recognized clearly, it has seemed to us to require careful marking as above. And in concluding the proof, that A.D. 539 was the date prophetically pointed out, we quote
testimony from Roman Catholic writings, as follows:
"After the downfall of the Western Roman empire the political influence of the popes in Italy became of still more importance, from the fact that the popes had to take under their protection the unfortunate country, but particularly Rome and its environs, which were so often changing masters and continually exposed to the invasions of coarse and brutal conquerors. While the successors of St. Peter were so energetically interesting themselves in the welfare of the inhabitants of Italy, the latter were totally neglected by the Eastern Roman emperors who still
to rule the land. Even after Justinian I had reconquered a part of Italy [A.D. 539] and converted it into a Grecian province, the lot of the inhabitants was no better; for the Byzantine emperors could only exhaust by taxation the subjects of the Exarchate
of Ravenna, but in no way could they afford her the necessary protection.
"Under these circumstances it happened that the...emperors ...lost all
, and remained
only in name
masters of the government, while the popes, in virtue of the needs of the moment,
came practically in possession of that supremacy over the Roman domain
spontaneous result of generous exertion was in after times acknowledged as a
[by Pepin and Charlemagne]....Pepin, as contemporary writers express it, '
' the conquered territory to the Apostolic See. This donation
of Pepin was confirmed and enlarged by his son Charlemagne, who in A.D. 774 put an end to the Lombard rule in Italy.
In this legitimate way, the
TEMPORAL POWER AND SOVEREIGNTY OF THE POPES was, by divine providence,
The above quotations are from "The History of the Catholic Church," by H. Brueck, D.D., Vol. I, pp. 250,251. As this is a standard work among Roman Catholics, used in their colleges and seminaries, and approved by papal dignitaries, its testimony is of value, touching the
rise of the temporal power of Papacy, and the
when its beginning was favored by circumstances. It proves that the fall of the Ostrogothic kingdom in A.D. 539 was, as clearly indicated by the prophetic measure (1260 years), the exact point of time when this desolating and, in the sight of God, abominable system was "
In harmony with the same line of thought, and in the endeavor clearly to establish the fact that Papal authority began
the day of Charlemagne, another Catholic work,
The Chair of St. Peter
, in a chapter on "The growth of the temporal power" (C173), says: "Rome was ruled nominally only by a Patrician appointed by the emperor, but
, through the force of circumstances, the popes became the supreme lords of the city." In proof of this authority and rulership, the writer proceeds to cite historic proofs of the power of the popes, and of the powerlessness of the
nominal rulers. He refers to Pope Gregory the Great (A.D. 590-- only fifty years after Papacy was "set up") as an
illustration of power already possessed
by the popes, saying:
"We find him dispatching Leontius as governor to Nepi in Etruria, enjoining on the inhabitants that they should obey him as they would himself. Again he appoints Constantius to the important post of governor of Naples. Next he writes to the bishops about the
and provisioning of their respective cities; issues
orders to the military commanders
. ...In a word, he becomes the
and protector of Italy; so that he is fully justified in saying, 'Whoever fills my place as pastor is gravely occupied with external cares, so that it frequently becomes uncertain whether he discharges the functions of a pastor or of a temporal prince.'"
So great as this was the growth of temporal power in the short space of fifty years from its small beginning, A.D. 539. We may therefore feel assured that the 1260 years, or three and a half times, of papal dominion, are well and clearly marked at both ends.
Daniel, who had heard the limit placed upon the power of the abomination to desolate the Church and to crush the truth, the power of the Lord's people, saw that this would not still usher in the kingdom of Michael (Christ), and the exaltation of the saints to power, but that it would merely grant them release from their oppressor. This, therefore, was still not the understanding which he desired: "I heard, but I [still] understood not. Then said I, O my lord, what shall be later than [or after] these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel [it is useless for you to try to comprehend the matter], for the words are closed up and sealed till the Time of the End. From the time that the continual sacrifice shall be taken away and the desolating abomination
[A.D. 539] shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days [years. Then] many shall purify [separate] themselves, yea, make themselves white, yea, be tried as by fire; but the
wicked shall do wickedly, and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand [then]. Oh! the blessedness of him who is waiting earnestly when the thousand three hundred and five and thirty  days touch. And thou, go [thy way] till the end: and thou shalt rest, and rise again for thy lot [portion, reward] after the end of the days." Dan. 12:8-13
The careful student will note that these 1290 and 1335 prophetic days, literal years, have the same starting point as the 1260 years of papal power to crush, viz., from the time the desolating abomination was "set up"--A.D. 539. Where two events occurring at different times are mentioned, as in this case--the taking away of the "daily" (or, more correctly, the
sacrifice), and the
of the abomination --we must always reckon from the time that
were true. The taking away of the "continual sacrifice," we will show in the next chapter, occurred some years before the
of the abomination in 539; and it was the important item which caused it to be named "the abomination." We should and do, therefore, reckon the "setting up" of the abomination from the last of these two events.
And note, further, that both of these measures are given in answer to Daniel's question as to what would occur to God's holy ones after their power (the truth) would be released from Papal crushing, (that is, after 1799), and before the setting up of the kingdom of Messiah--Michael. The reply in substance is that Daniel need not hope to understand further, but that in
years after the beginning of the Time of the End (1260 + 30 = 1290), a purifying, cleansing, refining work would begin among the holy people, in connection with which an understanding of the prophecy would be granted to the wise among this tried, cleansed, separated class; yet the knowledge would be so communicated that the ungodly and unpurified would not receive or
believe it. It was shown, further, that the
of the vision would be far from complete or full; in fact it would be deficient in some of its chief elements until 45 years later (1290 + 45 = 1335), or 75 years after the beginning of the Time of the End, A.D. 1799 (1260 + 75 = 1335). This is clearly indicated by the Hebrew text, which represents the matter as though the watchers, who already have seen something, and are waiting patiently, would suddenly (when "1335 days" had passed) get a full, clear view, far beyond their expectations. "Oh! the blessedness of him!"
Reckoning from A.D. 539, the 1290 symbolic days ended in 1829, and the 1335 days in the close of 1874. Let the reader judge carefully how accurately these dates mark the understanding of the vision, and all the prophecies connected with the Time of the End, and the separating, cleansing, and refining as by fire, to bring God's children to the childlike, humble, trustful condition of mind and heart, needful that they might be ready to receive and appreciate God's work in God's way and time.
A religious movement culminated in 1844, the participants in which were then, and since, generally known as "Second Adventists" and "Millerites," because they expected the second advent of the Lord to occur at that date, and because a Mr. William Miller was the leader and prime mover. The movement, which began about 1829, had before 1844 (when they expected the Lord's return) attracted the attention of all classes of Christian people, especially in the Eastern and Middle States where it amounted to an excitement. A long while before this, Prof. Bengel, in Tubingen, Germany, began to call attention to the prophecies and the coming Kingdom of Messiah, while the celebrated missionary Wolff did the same in Asia. The center of the work, however, was America, where social, political and religious
conditions have favored, more than elsewhere, independence in Bible study as well as in other matters; just as the first advent movement was confined to Judea, though all the devout Israelites, everywhere, heard more or less of it. Acts 2:5
All know something of the failure of Brother Miller's expectations. The Lord did not come in 1844, and the world was not burned up with fire, as he had expected and taught others to expect; and this was a great disappointment to those "holy people" who had so confidently looked for Christ ("Michael") then to appear and to exalt them with him in power and glory. But, notwithstanding the disappointment, the movement had its designed effects--of awakening an interest in the subject of the Lord's coming, and of casting reproach upon the subject by reason of mistaken expectations. We say designed effects because without a doubt the hand of the Lord was in it. It not only did a work corresponding to that of the first advent movement, when our Lord was born, when the wise men came from the East and when "all men were in expectation of him" (Matt. 2:1,2; Luke 3:15), but it corresponded with it in time also, being just thirty years before the anointing of our Lord, at thirty years of age, at the beginning of his work as Messiah. That "Miller movement," as it is slightingly called, brought also an individual blessing to the "holy people" who participated in it: it led to a careful searching of the Scriptures, and to confidence in God's Word above the traditions of men; and it warmed and fed and united the hearts of God's children in unsectarian fellowship; for those interested were of all denominations, though principally Baptists. It is since that movement ended, that
of these have organized and bound themselves as new sects, thus blinding themselves to some of the blessings due in the "harvest."
While, as the reader will have observed, we disagree with Mr. Miller's interpretations and deductions, on almost every point--viewing the
, as well as the
, of our Lord's coming, in a very different light--yet we recognize that movement as being in God's order, and as doing a very important work in the separating, purifying, refining, and thus making ready, of a waiting people prepared for the Lord. And not only did it do a purifying and testing work in its own day, but, by casting reproach upon the study of prophecy and upon the doctrine of the Lord's second advent, it has ever since served to test and prove the consecrated, regardless of any association with Mr. Miller's views and expectations. The very mention of the subject of prophecy, the Lord's coming and the Millennial Kingdom, now excites the contempt of the worldly-wise, especially in the nominal church. This was undoubtedly of the Lord's providence, and for a purpose very similar to the sending of the infant Jesus for a time to Nazareth, "that he might be called a Nazarene," though really born in the honorable city of Bethlehem. That evidently was in order that the truth might separate the "Israelites indeed" from the chaff of God's chosen nation. The chaff was driven off by the statement that our Lord was a Nazarene; for they reasoned, "Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Just so some now contemptuously inquire, "Can any good thing come out of Adventism?" and dismiss unconsidered the testimony of the Lord and the apostles and prophets. But the humble, holy ones, wise in God's sight though foolish in the world's estimation, take no such attitude.
But the "Miller movement" was more than this: it was the beginning of the
understanding of Daniel's visions, and at the right time to fit the prophecy. Mr. Miller's application of the three and a half times (1260 years) was practically the same as that we have just given, but he made the
mistake of not starting the 1290 and 1335 periods at the same point. Had he done so he would have been right. On the contrary, he started them thirty years sooner--about 509 instead of 539, which ended the 1335 days in 1844, instead of 1874.* It was, nevertheless, the
of the right understanding of the prophecy; for, after all, the 1260 period, which he saw correctly, was the key; and the preaching of this truth (even though in combination with errors, and misapplications, and false inferences) had the effect of separating and purifying "many," and at the very time the Lord had foretold.
Not understanding the manner nor the object of the Lord's return, but expecting a sudden appearance, and the end of all things in one day, he supposed all the time prophecies must end there; and it was his aim and effort to force them all to this common terminus: hence his failure-- beyond which God did not then enlighten any, further enlightenment not being then due.
Mr. Miller was an earnest and esteemed member of the Baptist Church; and, being a careful student of the Scriptures, the prophecies began to open before him. After becoming thoroughly convinced himself, as to the correctness of his applications, he began to disseminate his views among ministers, chiefly Baptists at first, but afterward among all classes and all denominations. As the work spread, he, with many colaborers, traveled and preached extensively. The beginning of this work among the Baptist ministers was, as nearly as can be learned from his memoirs, in 1829, Elder Fuller of the Baptist Church at Poultney, Vt., being the first convert to preach his views in public. In a letter written about three years after, Mr. Miller says:
*We have been unable to secure Mr. Miller's writings to compare his interpretations. We have merely learned the dates at which he applied the prophetic numbers.
"The Lord is scattering the seed. I can now reckon eight ministers who preach this doctrine, more or less, besides myself. I know of more than one hundred private brethren who say that they have adopted my views. Be this as it may, 'The truth is mighty and will prevail.'"
Thus it will be seen that the separating work of the "Miller movement" had its beginning at the time foretold-- at the end of the 1290 days, 1829.
Now, how about the
until the 1335 days had been touched? Who have thus waited?
Some of God's children, the "holy people," the writer among the number, though not associated with the "Miller movement," nor with the denomination subsequently organized, which calls itself the "Second Advent Church," have been looking and "earnestly waiting" for Michael's Kingdom; and gladly we bear testimony to the "blessedness" of the wonderfully clear unfoldings of our Father's plan, at and since the fall of 1874--the end of the 1335 days.
Words fail us to express this blessedness! Only those who have been refreshed in spirit with this new wine of the Kingdom could appreciate it, if we could describe it. It is therefore something to be felt, rather than told. It was at and since the ending of those 1335 prophetic, symbolic days that the precious views of the Lord's
, and the fact that we are even now living in the time of the "harvest" of this Gospel age, and in the time of the setting up of Michael's (Christ's) Kingdom, came to be known.
Oh, the blessedness of this favored time! Oh, the harmony, the beauty, the grandeur of the divine plan as it began to unfold when the 1335 days were "touched!" It is to express, as far as lies within our power, this "blessedness" and fuller unfolding of the divine plan, now
to be understood by all the "holy people" now living, that this SCRIPTURES STUDIES series is being published. None but the
"holy people" will understand it. It is granted as a favor. "None of the wicked shall understand"; and those of the "holy people" who have fellowship with the worldly, who
stand in the assemblies of the wicked, and sit in the seat of the scorner, shall not understand, and shall not be able to experience this blessedness, now due only to those "holy" ones, truly "wise," who delight in the Law of the Lord and meditate [study] therein day and night. Psa. 1:1,2
This message concerning Michael's Kingdom, gradually opening from 1829 onward, is symbolically represented in the book of Revelation (chap. 10:2,8-10) as a "little book," which the "wise" of the "holy people," represented by John, are instructed to eat. And John's experience, as expressed in verse 10, is the experience of all who receive these truths. They bring wondrous sweetness: Oh, the blessedness! But the after effects are always more or less a blending of the bitterness of persecution with the sweetness. And the effect upon those who patiently endure to the end is to purge, purify and refine, and thus to make the bride of Christ ready for the marriage and exaltation, due toward the close of the Day of Preparation.
Concerning this disappointment, which we have shown was nevertheless a blessing and a beginning of the correct interpretation of the vision, the Prophet Habakkuk is caused to write a word of encouragement, saying (chap. 2:2), "Write the vision, make it plain upon tables [charts], that he [desiring] may read it readily...Though it tarry,
wait for it
["Oh, the blessedness of him that
unto the 1335 days!"], for it will surely come; it will not tarry." Its seeming tarrying or delay was not so, but a partial mistake on the part of Mr. Miller, foreknown and permitted by the Lord for the testing of his "holy people."
As an evidence of the consecration, Bible study and faith engendered by this movement, we quote from a letter written
by Mr. Miller, after the disappointment of 1844, to those who had been disappointed with him, as follows:
"We thank God always on your behalf, when we hear, as we already have, that your and our late disappointment has produced in you, and we hope in us also, a deep humiliation, and a careful inspection of our hearts. And though we are humbled, and in a measure pained, by the jeers of a wicked and perverse generation, we are not terrified nor cast down. You can, all of you, when inquired of for the reasons of your hope, open your Bibles, and with meekness and fear show the inquirer why you hope in the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ. You need not in a single instance refer the inquirer to your minister, for the reason of your faith. Your creed is the Scriptures;... your philosophy is the wisdom which cometh down from God; your bond of union is the love and fellowship of the saints; your teacher is the Holy Spirit; and your professor is the Lord Jesus Christ....We exhort you, by all the love and fellowship of the saints, to hold fast to this hope. It is warranted by every promise in the Word of God. It is secured to you by the two immutable things--the council and oath of God, in which it is impossible for him to lie. It is ratified and sealed by the death, blood, and resurrection, and life of Jesus Christ....Never fear, brethren; God has told you what to say. Do as he bids you, and he will take care of the consequences. God says, 'Say unto them,
The days are at hand, and the effect of every vision
.' [See Ezek. 12:22,23]...It is to me almost a demonstration that God's hand is in this thing. Many thousands have been made to study the Scriptures by the preaching of the time....God's wisdom has in a great measure marked out our path,
which he has devised for such good as he will accomplish in his own time and manner
One of our Lord's parables was given expressly to illustrate this period of
, from the disappointment of 1844 to the realizations at the end of the "1335 days." We refer to--
The Parable of the Ten Virgins
This parable begins with "then," thus indicating that it was not applicable at once, in the Lord's day, but sometime in the future. "
shall the Kingdom of heaven [in its embryo condition--represented by some or all of the holy people, probationers for heirship in that Kingdom] be likened unto ten virgins, who took their lamps and went forth to meet the Bridegroom. And five of them were wise and five were foolish."
The numbers are not significant; neither are the proportions. The parable teaches a movement among the heirs of the Kingdom, in expectation of meeting the Bridegroom--a movement in which two classes would be manifested, here styled "wise" and "foolish." The word "virgin" signifies pure; so these represented in the parable, both the wise and the foolish, represent "holy people." In fact, no lovers of the Bridegroom, longing to meet him, can be lovers of sin, even though many of them are "foolish."
The movement noted by our Lord in this parable corresponds exactly to one which began with the "Miller movement," and which is still in progress. That, though begun by a Baptist, was an undenominational movement, joined in by the most devout and faithful of all denominations. Accounts of those times, of their fervency of zeal, etc., fill our hearts with admiration for men and women who had the honesty to act out their convictions, even though we cannot coincide with those convictions. Money was poured out like water, in printing tracts and papers in various languages, and in sending the message the world over. It is said that in the churches of all denominations a revival spirit spread, and that in some congregations, where all were under the influence of this teaching, those who had money to
spare piled it upon a table in front of the pulpit, where it was free to all needing it; and the sincerity and zeal of believers at that time were such that, it is said, the money thus consecrated to the Lord needed no guarding, as those who did not need it would not touch it.
The virgins of the parable are shown as all having lamps trimmed and giving them light. These lamps represent the Scriptures ("Thy word is a lamp to my feet"); and such a
trimming of lamps--searching the Scriptures--by all classes of Christians probably never before took place. The oil represents the spirit of the truth. It was manifest, then, in the lamps of all; but all had not the spirit of the truth in themselves--the "vessels."
The disappointment of 1844 is briefly recorded in the parable, by the statement that "the Bridegroom tarried"-- i.e., he seemed to the expectant ones to tarry. And the confusion and darkness experienced by all, and the many false and visionary views entered into by some who were there disappointed, are shown in the parable by the statement: "While the Bridegroom tarried, they all
and slept." Yea, and in their darkness and slumber many of them dreamed strange, unreasonable things.
But the parable shows a second movement, similar, and yet different, among the same virgins. The same general class is referred to but not necessarily the same individuals. As the first movement was the result of light upon the prophecy, regarding the time for Messiah's second advent as the Bridegroom of the Church, so was the second movement. But there are several differences. In the first, the lamps of all the virgins burned alike, and the company expecting the Bridegroom was mixed; whereas in the second movement, while all will be aroused, only those will be led out who have the spirit of the truth in their hearts, as well as a knowledge of the Bible--a trimmed lamp. Disappointment
was predicted for the first movement, and waiting for the 1335 days was necessary; but the second was not a disappointment, and a waiting was no longer necessary; for fulfilment came exactly at the close of the 1335 prophetic days--in October 1874. It was just following the close of the 1335 years, the period of "waiting," that the fact of our Lord's presence, as taught by the foregoing prophecies, began to be recognized. It was very early in the morning of the new age, but it was the "midnight" hour, so far as the deep slumbering of the virgins was concerned, when the cry (which is still ringing) went forth, "Behold the Bridegroom!"--not Behold the Bridegroom
,* but Behold he
, and we are now living "in the [
] presence of the Son of man." And such has been the character of the present movement, since that date: a proclamation of the Lord's
and of the kingdom work now in progress. The writer, and colaborers, proclaimed the fact of the Lord's
, demonstrating it from prophecy, and on charts or tables, such as are used in this book, until the fall of 1878, when arrangements were made for starting our present publication, "ZION'S WATCH TOWER, and
Herald of Christ's Presence
." By the Lord's blessing, millions of copies of this publication have carried abroad the tidings that the time is fulfilled, and that the Kingdom of Christ is even now being
, while the kingdoms and systems of men are crumbling to their utter destruction.
The parable forewarns us that, though all the virgin class trim their lamps, all cannot
. Only those who have the oil in their vessels (in themselves--the fully consecrated) can get the light from their lamps, and appreciate the facts. The others (all the pure, the virgins) will get the oil and the light sometime, and be greatly blessed by it; but only those
*The oldest Greek manuscripts (Sinaitic and Vatican) omit
, and read, "Behold the Bridegroom!"
with the oil, the spirit of the truth, will have the light in season and get the great blessing. Only these go in with the Bridegroom to the marriage. The oil, or spirit of consecration, and its attendant light cannot be communicated from one virgin to another. Each for himself must be filled with the spirit; each must get his own supply of this oil (the Truth, and its spirit of consecration and holiness); and the cost is considerable in the way of self-denial and misrepresentation and fiery trial. Experience in the great time of trouble will be the market in which the foolish virgins will purchase their oil. But it will then be too late to go into the marriage, as members of the Bride, the Lamb's wife. The Scriptures point out, however, that, as vessels unto "less honor," these, repentant of their folly, will not be destroyed; but, being thus fitted for the Master's use, they shall yet
him in his temple.
Recurring to the angel's words to Daniel--verse 13 reads: "But go thou thy way till the end; for thou shalt rest, and arise again for thy lot [portion, reward] at [after] the end of the  days"--during the harvest then beginning.
In the expression, "Go thou thy way till the end," the "
" should be noticed as of very different significance from the "Time of the End." "The
of the age"; and the harvest, as already shown, is the period of 40 years from the fall of A.D. 1874, the termination of the "1335 days," to the fall of A.D. 1914. And Daniel is to receive his portion, reward or lot in the Kingdom of Michael (Christ), together with all the holy prophets, as well as the saints of the Gospel age, at the
of this "harvest" period; the saints being first in order, as well as in honor, in that Kingdom. (Heb. 11:40) See SCRIPTURE STUDIES, Vol. I, C288.