Chapter 10


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Section Titles
Lisbon Earthquake
Dark Day
Falling Stars
Advent Preaching
Manuel de Lacunza*
Edward Irving
Joseph Wolff
Louis Gaussen
Signs in Nature
Early Advent Preaching

The focal point of prophecy beyond the apostolic age is the second advent of Christ. While the experience of the church and the world during the intervening centuries receives attention, from the viewpoint of prophecy it seems to be largely for the purpose of centering the mind of the believers on the climactic conclusion. Predictions of intermediate events serve the dual end of revealing the progress of the plan of salvation, and confirming confidence in the fulfillment of the whole plan.

In the vision of the seven seals (Revelation 6 and 8) we find a summation of the major lines of prophecy pointing to the second advent. We get a preview of how paganism would enter the early church and destroy its purity, how Satan would attempt to blot out God's faithful ones by persecution when they stood for their faith. The vision also foretells how the testimony of God's word would speak out continually against corrupt conditions, and how the second advent would be dramatically foretold by major signs that would be fulfilled just before Christ came.

Portions of the description, with emphasis on a variety of particulars, may be found in the prophecies of Daniel 2; 7; 11; 12; Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; 2 Thessalonians 1; 2; 2 Peter 3; Revelation 2; 3; 6-14. No prophecy gives a complete picture, and all of them must be fitted together in the same way that the four Gospels must be combined to obtain a full understanding of the events of the first advent. But no matter which phase of the coming events is stressed, everything moves resistlessly toward the time when “the kingdoms of this world are become


the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ.” Revelation 11:15. Once again we see the singleness of purpose characteristic of the Bible writers.

As we study of the predictions of the prominence of the gift of prophecy during the period preceding Christ's second coming, our attention turns to the signs of the advent that are found in the context of some of the predictions. These signs not only emphasize the imminence of the second advent, but they also show the relation of the gift of prophecy to the remnant church. The prophecies indicate that the gift was to be revealed in the setting of these signs.

Joel said, “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.” Joel 2:31. Christ added to the details of the prophecy: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.” Matthew 24:29. John the revelator, in describing the sixth seal, adds still another item: “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.” Revelation 6:12, 13.

The blending of the three passages produces a list of three prominent signs calculated to indicate the approach of the end: (1) a great earthquake, (2) a darkening of the sun, (3) a falling of the stars. It is not necessary to repeat here the evidences that these signs have been fulfilled. Seventh-day Adventist literature has stated the facts many times. We will simply note the event fulfilling the prediction: (1) the Lisbon earthquake, November 1, 1755; (2) the dark day, May 19, 1780; (3) the meteoric shower, November 13, 1833. Another key event of the preadvent days was to be the emergence of the remnant church, the seed of the woman, spoken of in Revelation 12:17. This


group is identified as keeping the commandments of God and possessing the testimony of Jesus Christ. To grasp the significance of the signs to those who saw them and to those who came after, we must glance at the world in which they took place. Since the first signs appeared in the natural world, events have shaped toward fulfillment of predicted conditions in the political and religious world.

Lisbon Earthquake

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For Europe and the American colonies 1755, the year of the Lisbon earthquake, was a momentous one. Boundary disputes led to hostilities between French and English forces in North America before any formal declaration of war. Later Austria, Prussia, Spain, Portugal, Russia, and other nations became involved. Known in its European phase as the Seven Years' War, and in its American phase as the French and Indian War, the conflict involved fighting on land in America and Europe, and on the sea in many parts of the world, until its conclusion with the treaties of Hubertusburg and Paris in 1763. During the years 1755-1763, war dominated the political scene. As the world moved on in its course, God launched His program of preparation for the return of Christ.

The middle of the eighteenth century witnessed a widespread religious awakening. Its roots went back to the 1730's, when a revival began with the preaching of Jonathan Edwards in America, the Wesleyan revival among the masses of London, and the ministry of George Whitefield, who within a year after his graduation from Oxford was acclaimed the greatest preacher of his day. In America all of the colonies, New England, middle, and southern, were affected by the revival that became known as the “Great Awakening.” The actual revival was not long-lived, but its effects were widespread. William W. Sweet comments: “The series of great religious awakenings which swept over the American colonies in the middle of the eighteenth


century were in many respects the most far-reaching social movements of the whole colonial period.”—The Story of Religion in America, page 201.

Viewing the situation from the standpoint of Bible prophecy, we can see the hand of God in this stirring of minds concerning religious matters. Looking back, it is easy for us to recognize the significance of the Lisbon earthquake. Now we can see it in its relation to other predicted events, and its place is unmistakable. But, as has always been the case when prophecies were fulfilled, there were those at the time of the occurrence who recognized it as an indication of the nearness of the end. In The Gentleman's Magazine (London), of February, 1756, appeared an article signed by “A. B.” declaring that the Lisbon earthquake could not fail to “awaken the world to serious and devout contemplations,” and to “compare it with the prophecies relating to, and now fulfilling in this its last days.” He called it “one of the infallible omens,” a “signal from the King of heaven.” He continued:

“For my own part, I do really suppose, from the present condition of Europe compared with Luke xxi.25, 26, that this is surely nothing less than the outstretched arm of God prepared to break the earth in pieces with a rod of iron, and to cleanse and purify it from all pollutions and filthiness both of flesh and spirit, to make way for the glorious kingdom of the millennium; like the voice of the first angel (chap. xiv. vs. 6, 7.) to call all nations everywhere to repent while it is day, and make all pious men now look up, for their redemption draweth nigh; when he shall appear again with healing in his wings.”—Quoted in L. E. Froom, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 2, p. 675.

In England some time later a day of fasting was appointed to call attention especially to the recent earthquake. Henry Stebbing, D.D., chaplain in ordinary to His Majesty, prepared a sermon entitled, “A Discourse Preparatory to the Religious Observance of the Day of Publick Fasting and Humiliation,


Appointed by Authority, to Be Kept on Friday the Sixth of February 1756, on the Occasion of the Late Earthquakes Abroad, and Particularly at Lisbon.”—lbid., p. 676. A packet of twenty-one sermons and pamphlets preserved in the British Museum indicates that numerous sermons were preached on the occasion. Thomas Alcock, at Plymouth, preached “A Sermon on the Late Earthquakes, More Particularly That at Lisbon,” in which he stated:

“The affrighted Inhabitants of Lisbon, and of many other Places, thought the Lord was come to smite the Earth with a Curse—thought the great and terrible Day of Judgment was at Hand, in the which the Heavens shall pass away with a great Noise, and the Elements shall melt with fervent Heat: The Earth also and all the Works that are therein shall be burnt up.”—Ibid., p. 676.

Note the reasons Alcock gives for agreeing that the fears of the inhabitants of Lisbon were not without foundation.

“Nor was it without Reason, that they entertained these Apprehensions: As there were Signs almost sufficient to make them expect that Catastrophe. For our Saviour has foretold; that there shall be Wars and Rumors of Wars, Nation shall rise against Nation, and great Earthquakes shall be in divers Places, and Famines, and Pestilences, and fearful Sights, the Sea and the Waves roaring; Mens Hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those Things which are coming on the Earth: For the Powers of Heaven shall be shaken: That these shall be the Beginnings of Sorrows, and some of the previous Signs of his Coming. And though the Lord still delayeth his Coming, yet seeing all these Things most certainly shall be dissolved, we know not how soon, what Manner of Persons ought we to be in all holy Conversation and Godliness! Looking for, and hasting unto the coming of the day of God!”—Ibid., p. 676.

The words of George Lavington, Bishop of Exeter, are recorded in “A Sermon Preached in the Cathedral-Church of Exeter, on the General Fast-Day, February 6, 1756.” In part, he said:


“I do not think that we have Light enough in these Matters to pin down this Prophecy to these Events; nor to determine how near or how far off Christ's second Coming may be. There seem to be other Prophecies not yet accomplished, which must be accomplished before this comes to pass. But, as the Resemblance between what we now see, and what shall be seen, when the last Catastrophe comes, naturally connects them together in our Thoughts; so it will always be our Wisdom, when we see such Signs as these, so far to be apprehensive that the End of all Things is at Hand, as to be sober and watch unto Prayer.”—Ibid., p. 677.

The Bible prophecies were sufficiently clear, and the events that fulfilled them striking enough, that men who knew the Bible and those who observed the events could easily discern the connection between the two. This has become increasingly true as the years have passed. The more signs we see fulfilled, the easier it is to detect additional ones.

Dark Day

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Twenty-five years were to elapse before the coming of the next impressive sign of the second advent—the dark day of May 19, 1780. In the intervening years tension increased between England and the American colonies, until the war for independence began, April 19, 1775, at Concord and Lexington. For the next eight years America was busy prosecuting the war. Only a week before the dark day the American forces suffered a major loss when Charleston, South Carolina, fell into the hands of British troops.

While the unifying influence of the Great Awakening and the leadership of a large majority of the clergy did much to draw the colonies together, the period preceding and during the Revolution was not one of spiritual prosperity. “At the time that the Thirteen Colonies achieved their political independence, and in spite of the efforts of the churches for more than a


century and of some marked religious awakenings, only a minority of the population had membership in any religious body.”—Kenneth Scott Latourette, A History of the Expansion of Christianity, vol. 3, P. 190.

But even in such a time the dark day made a profound impression on many men and women. Timothy Dwight, president of Yale College for twenty-one years, later commented: “A very general opinion prevailed that the day of judgment was at hand.”—Quoted by John W. Barber in Connecticut Historical Collections, p. 403.

References to the occasion are multiplied, but statements of those who saw the dark day as a fulfillment of Bible prophecy are limited. However, the prophetic significance of the day was not passed by unnoticed. In 1781 Samuel Gatchel, deacon of the Second Congregational Church, at Marblehead, Massachusetts, wrote a tract bearing the title, “The Signs of the Times: or Some Expositions and Remarks on Sundry Texts of Scripture, relative to the remarkable Phenomenon, or Dark-Day, which appeared in New-England on the Nineteenth of May, 1780.” Gatchel maintained that the dark day was a fulfillment of Joel 3:15, which predicted a darkening of the sun and moon. Joshua Spalding, pastor of the Tabernacle Church at Salem, Massachusetts, in his book, Sentiments, Concerning the Coming and Kingdom of Christ, Collected From the Bible, and From the Writings of Many Antient, and Some Modern, Believers (1796), commented: “‘We have seen wonderful and alarming phenomena of darkness of the sun and moon.’”—Quoted in L. E. Froom, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 3, P. 233. These signs, he believed, indicated that the glorious advent might soon take place.

Falling Stars

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More than fifty years passed before the third of the remarkable signs mentioned in connection with the sixth seal took


place. Revelation 6:12, 13. Of the three omens, it appears to have been the one to receive the most comment. The background of events emphasized this sign as the climax of an unusual series. Going back as far as 1821, we find Champollion making modern Egyptology possible by the first deciphering of hieroglyphics. Leopold von Ranke laid the foundation for modern historical criticism in his historical writing in 1824. Sir Charles Lyell established the basis of modern geology in 1830-33 by presenting the results of his research in The Principles of Geology. Michael Faraday, in 1831, demonstrated the fact of electromagnetic induction, and prepared the way for numerous branches of electrical science, 1838, Matthias Jakob Schleiden, German botanist, formulated the cell theory in physiology. In 1832, Samuel F. B. Morse developed the first practical electrical telegraph, and two years later Cyrus McCormick patented the harvester.

In 1833, a bill emancipating the slaves in British colonies was passed, crowning the long and tireless efforts of the abolitionists led by William Wilberforce. That same year England made progress toward the regulation of child labor, with the Factory Act. The previous year, in Italy, Giuseppe Mazzini failed in his attempt to bring about a general uprising to free his country from her rulers and to create a republic. In the Near East, a crisis arose when the Turkish army was defeated by Egyptian troops, and England and France were alarmed when Russian troops arrived on the scene.

The same year, 1833, saw Andrew Jackson, representative of frontier democracy, complete his first term as President of the United States. William Lloyd Garrison was pressing his effort to liberate the slaves. Two years before, he had established The Liberator to advocate emancipation. In 1833, Oberlin College opened its doors—the first American college to adopt coeducation and admit students regardless of race. The Mormon Church had been organized by Joseph Smith. Everywhere men and nations were astir.


Into the center of these stirrings, God dropped another token of the nearness of the end. “The most sublime phenomenon of shooting stars, of which the world has furnished any record, was witnessed throughout the United States on the morning of the 13th of November, 1833.”—Elijah H. Burritt, The Geography of the Heavens, page 163. As was the case with the two previously mentioned signs, this one also was regarded by many who were acquainted with Bible prophecy as a fulfillment of Jesus' prediction in Matthew 24:29 and John's prophecy in Revelation 6:13. The many accounts of the shower of meteorites refer to the manner of their falling. Many observers remarked that they all seemed to come from a central area in the heavens and spread out in all directions. Some saw this as a fulfillment of John's prediction, “even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.” Henry Dana Ward, prominent New York Episcopalian minister, wrote a letter to the New York Journal of Commerce, which appeared November 14. He said in part: “Here is the exactness of the prophet. The falling stars did not come, as if from several trees shaken, but from one: those which appeared in the east fell toward the East; those which appeared in the north fell toward the North; those which appeared in the west fell toward the West, and those which appeared in the south (for I went out of my residence into the Park,) fell toward the South; and they fell, not as the ripe fruit falls. Far from it. But they flew, they WERE CAST, like the unripe fruit, which at first refuses to leave the branch; and, when it does break its hold, flies swiftly, strait off, descending; and in the multitude falling some cross the track of others, as they are thrown with more or less force.” (As Ward's letter appeared in the Journal, it was unsigned, but later statements make identification clear. See Signs of the Times, Oct. 11, 1843.) Two weeks later, the Journal of Commerce of November 27, published six columns in small type quoting excerpts from letters and other newspapers, telling of observations and reactions to the falling of the stars. Elijah H. Burritt, in describing the


event, says that to some it suggested “the awful grandeur of the image employed in the Apocalypse, upon the opening of the sixth seal, when ‘the stars’ of heaven fall.”—The Geography of the Heavens, page 163.

Advent Preaching

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The signs in the heavens and the great earthquake had given their testimony that the time of preparation for the second advent had come. But an even clearer sign of the approaching advent was the rise of a host of preachers and Bible expositors in all parts of the earth, who, as the result of individual study, began to teach the nearness of the advent.

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Matthew 24:14. The real prelude to the second advent is the preaching of the everlasting gospel “to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” Revelation 14:6. The signs themselves could not prepare the way for Christ's coming. At best, they could do no more than impress men with the coming of some momentous event, and awaken inquiry as to what that might be. They could assure the student of the word of God that the long-awaited event was at hand. But during the time of the revelation of the various signs, when many minds would be most susceptible to their spiritual meaning, unusual emphasis was given to advent preaching. Interest in the prophecies was nothing new. L. E. Froom, in his four volumes, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, shows the perpetual fascination the prophecies have had for earnest students of the Scriptures. But when we enter our present period of study, we find something out of the ordinary—an increasing number of writers and preachers were emphasizing prophecy, and a desire for a deeper understanding of some predictions was rising in many hearts. We can show only a sampling of what took place on a large scale.


Manuel de Lacunza*

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Manuel de Lacunza, (1731-1481) born in Santiago, Chile, received a good education and was admitted on probation to the Jesuit order in 1747, at the age of sixteen. In 1766 he took the four vows of the Jesuits; but in the autumn of 1767, with all other members of the Jesuit order, he was expelled from Chile, by decree of Charles III of Spain in an action involving all Spanish dominions. Lacunza went first to Spain, and then to central Italy, where he remained until the time of his death. In 1772 he retired from the world and devoted himself to a profound scientific study of the Scriptures.

As a result of his research he concluded that the key to the Bible was a correct understanding of the two comings of Christ. He separated the intermingled parts of the prophecies, and stressed that the first coming of Christ was at His incarnation, and the second would be at the beginning of the millennium. He set down his discoveries in a manuscript which he called The Coming of the Messiah in Glory and Majesty. Because of his fear that the book might be prohibited by the Sacred Congregation of the Index, Lacunza did not have it published, but brought it out in manuscript form, in Spanish, using the pseudonym Juan Josafat Ben-Ezra; he styled himself a Christian Hebrew. His fears were well founded, for after his death the book was published, and in due time an entry condemning it appeared in the Index Librorum Prohibitorum.

In manuscript form the book reached Spain and South America. The response was immediate, and additional handwritten copies were made to increase its circulation. It was said to have been circulated “from Havana to Cape Horn.” It was translated into Italian and Latin, and discussion of its contents stirred many in Europe and South America. In 1812 the first

* Summaries of the work of Lacunza, Wolff, Irving, and Gaussen are based largely on the research of L. E. Froom in The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vols. 3 and 4.


edition was printed in Spain. Later editions were issued in England, France, Germany, Ireland, and Mexico. The book was printed in Latin, Spanish, Italian, English, French, and German. Though Lacunza dealt with a number of the outline prophecies, and he pointed out that antichrist was not an individual to appear sometime in the future, but a body which “dissolves” the faith of the church, his “main argument concerns the establishment of his fundamental thesis—Christ's premillennial advent and subsequent glorious reign on earth.”

It is impossible to estimate the influence of such a work as Lacunza's. Thousands of copies were circulated, and discussion and controversy were created. Inside the Roman Catholic Church, and among Protestants, the book became an important factor in calling attention to the Bible prophecies of the second advent and how they were rapidly reaching their fulfillment. It showed that men could have a clear concept of the fulfilling predictions now that the time had actually arrived.

Edward Irving

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One of those most influenced by Lacunza's book was Edward Irving (1792-1834). In 1825, Irving, in the city of London, preached his first sermon on the second advent. During the following year he read the 1812 Spanish edition of The Coming of the Messiah in Glory and Majesty, and he was much affected by it. He went so far as to make a two-volume English translation.

Edward Irving was born in Scotland. He was endowed with a brilliant mind, and he received a good education. He was religiously inclined, and while young he became a wellknown preacher. Soon after his arrival in London in 1822, the little Hatton Garden Chapel, of which he was pastor, was filled to overflowing with some of the leading members of London society. Even with admission by ticket only, the seats were occupied for hours in advance of the preaching service. By


1827 a new church had been built in Regent Square, and every Sunday it was filled with eager listeners who drank in Irving's lengthy expositions of prophecy.

In a tour of Scotland, Irving preached the nearness of the advent, and he drew such crowds that the largest churches would not accommodate them. Outdoor audiences are reported to have reached from 10,000 to 15,000 persons. Later accusations of heresy marred the close of Irving's ministry, but these were not directly related to his advent preaching. “He was one of the pre-eminent Christians of his time, with a spirit of humility, consecration, and spiritual perception which most of his contemporaries neither possessed nor were capable of assessing.” His preaching brought the prophecies of the imminence of the advent to the attention of tens of thousands of persons, and contributed largely to the widespread advent awakening.

Joseph Wolff

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About the time that Edward Irving went to London, Joseph Wolff (1795-1862), a Jewish Christian, later to be known as “missionary to the world,” was launching his eventful career. Wolff was born in Bavaria, but soon he was taken to Prussia. His father, a rabbi, began a strict program of Hebrew training for his son when the boy was four. He was taught that Christians were idolatrous worshipers of wooden crosses, and that Jews generally were anticipating the soon coming of the Messiah (His first advent, of course, since the Jews did not accept Jesus). The youth began to wonder about Christ. When he was eight, he was favorably impressed with Christianity through contacts with Speiss, the village barber-surgeon, who also supplied the Wolff family with milk. Joseph was sent to watch the milking and check that nothing forbidden was added to the milk. He discussed with Speiss the subject of the Messiah. Through the reading of Isaiah 53, Wolff was fully persuaded that Jesus was the promised Messiah. In his early years the lad


received a thorough education, with particular emphasis on the study of languages. At the age of seventeen he was baptized a Roman Catholic. His studies continued, with further emphasis on language study; and by the time he was twenty he was lecturing on Hebrew at the University of Landshut. Later conflicts with Catholic leaders over theology drove him from Catholicism, and at the age of twenty-three he began special training under the sponsorship of the London Society for the Promotion of Christianity Amongst the Jews. In 1821 he went to Palestine to begin missionary work.

Between 1821 and 1826, Wolff worked in Palestine, Egypt, the Sinaitic Peninsula, Mesopotamia, Persia, Crimea, Georgia, and the Ottoman Empire. From 1826 to 1830, he traveled through England, Scotland, Ireland, Holland, Germany, the Mediterranean, Malta, the Greek Islands, Egypt, Jerusalem, and Cyprus. Between 1831 and 1834 his itinerary covered Turkey, Persia, Turkestan, Bokhara, Balkh, Afghanistan, Cashmere, Hindustan, and the Red Sea area. The years 1835-1838 were spent in Gibraltar, Malta, Egypt, Mount Sinai, Jiddah, Masowah, Kamazien, Tigre, Abyssinia, India, Saint Helena, and finally the United States and England. In the United States he preached in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington. In December, 1837, Wolff preached before a joint session of the Congress of the United States, and he also addressed the legislatures of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Joseph Wolff's preaching was constantly centered on the second advent. Here are a few sentences from one of his sermons:

“Let this be our sincere prayer. ‘Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.’ … What a beautiful song we shall hear, from a whole ransomed creation, when He shall come! … THE BRIDEGROOM COMETH. He cometh! He cometh! ‘He cometh to judge the earth; with righteousness shall He judge the world, and the people with equity.’”

As a result of his study of the prophecies, Wolff came to the


conclusion that Jesus Christ would return in 1847, and that His coming would mark the beginning of the millennium. He believed that Christ would reign at Jerusalem. As one of the most widely traveled individuals of his time, Wolff preached the advent message to tens of thousands of listeners, and at the same time he distributed tracts and Bibles in the language of the people to whom he spoke. At times he fittingly signed his name, “Joseph Wolff, missionary to all the nations.” Attesting to the quality of Wolff's preaching, John Quincy Adams, former President of the United States, proposed a motion to the effect that Wolff be permitted the use of the hall of the House of Representatives for a lecture, and said that he had never heard “a more profound, closely reasoned, and convincing argument upon the proofs of Christianity,” than in one of Wolff's lectures to which he had listened.

Despite the widespread influence of his ministry, the voice of Joseph Wolff was only one of the chorus proclaiming the soon advent of the Saviour.

Louis Gaussen

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The last of this sample group is a French-Swiss evangelical professor—François Samuel Robert Louis Gaussen. Louis Gaussen's parents were Protestant refugees at Geneva when he was born in 1790. In 1814 Gaussen graduated from the University of Geneva, and the next year he was licensed to preach. The year following he was ordained to the ministry. For twelve years he served as pastor of the church at Satigny, near Geneva. Because of a clash with a group representing the majority of the Geneva clergy, Gaussen was suspended. As a result, he, with Merle d'Aubigné, the Swiss church historian, and others, formed the Evangelical Society to distribute Bibles and tracts and to foster missionary work. The group founded the Geneva Evangelical Society's School of Theology, in which Gaussen accepted the professorship of theology in 1834.


The doctrine of the second advent played an important part in Gaussen's teaching. He gave special study to the book of Daniel, and the prophecies became the center of his teaching. Over a period of twenty-five years he held a position as a leading representative of orthodox Protestantism, and he exercised a wide influence through his preaching, teaching, and writing. He became one of the most prominent of the heralds of the return of Christ. Opposition led him to adopt the device of preparing lessons on the book of Daniel and teaching them to children. His actual purpose was to reach the parents. The plan succeeded and older persons filled the lecture hall to capacity. Gaussen constantly emphasized that Daniel 2 constitutes the “key to the world's history,” and from that prophecy he branched out into others of Daniel and the Revelation.

Louis Gaussen's influence was widespread. The length of his career, his excellent scholarship, his clear-cut interpretations of prophecy, and his unique methods, attracted much attention, and turned the thinking of many persons to the second advent.

Into a period of less than eighty years were compressed a most important group of events predicted in the Bible to be signs that the second advent was near. The brief biographical sketches of four men reveal how fitting were the times for the coming of the signs and the preaching of the advent. Yet how difficult it was, because of circumstances, to keep men's minds long fixed on even such impressive tokens!


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1. Beyond the first advent of Christ, the focus of all prophecy is upon the second advent.

2. A composite prophetic picture is essential to gaining a full view of events preceding the advent.

3. At the appointed time, three major signs in the natural world—the Lisbon earthquake, the dark day, and the falling of the stars—gave impetus to the advent preaching.


4. The three great signs were recognized by many for what they actually were—tokens of the approaching end.

5. A combination of unusual occurrences in the natural world and the preaching of the soon-coming advent produced a religious awakening that stirred hundreds of thousands of men and women in many countries.

6. All these things took place in a brief period of time so that their relationship was noted and their impressiveness thus enhanced.


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1. Read the following Bible chapters and note the event toward which each one points. Select a verse out of each chapter or group of chapters which indicates the point of focus in the chapter. Make a list of these verses and the thought of each. Daniel 2; Daniel 7; Daniel 11; 12; Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; 2 Thessalonians 1; 2; 2 Peter 3; Revelation 2; 3; Revelation 6; Revelation 8; 9; 11:15-19; Revelation 12; 13; 14.

2. Describe in detail the actual occurrences in connection with the Lisbon earthquake, the dark day, and the falling of the stars.

3. Name and briefly describe the work of several preachers and expositors, in addition to those considered in this chapter, who had a part in the advent awakening in various parts of the world.

4. How did so many men, as the result of independent study, begin to make discoveries concerning the second advent at about the same time? Can this be attributed largely to the signs in nature attracting their attention, or are there other factors to be considered?

5. Could such an awakening as that of the early nineteenth century be sufficient to fulfill the promise, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come”?



Signs in Nature

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Froom, L. E., The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 3 (1946), PP. 187-205; vol. 4 (1954), PP. 289-300. Washington, D.C., Review and Herald Publishing Assn.

Loughborough, J. N., The Great Second Advent Movement, pp. 93-97. Washington, D.C. Review and Herald Publishing Assn., 1909.

Smith, Uriah, The Prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation, pp. 439-448.

White, Ellen G., The Great Controversy, pp. 304-308, 333, 334.

Early Advent Preaching

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Article, “Irving, Edward,” Encyclopedia Britannica.

Froom, L. E., The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 3, PP. 303-324, 461-532, 687-700; vol. 4, PP. 301-329.

Loughborough, J. N., The Great Second Advent Movement, pp. 98-107.

Latourette, Kenneth Scott, A History of the Expansion of Christianity, vol. vi, pp. 26, 39, 43, 57, 60, 61 (Joseph Wolff's travels). New York, Harper and Brothers, 1944.

White, Ellen G., The Great Controversy, pp. 355-374.

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