Russell's Pyramidology Originated In Edinburgh Scotland

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  • vienne

    From the book Nelson Barbour: The Millennium's Forgotten Prophet

    Barbour returned from Australia, setting sail in 1859 and taking the route around Africa to the United Kingdom. For Barbour the return voyage was life changing. He fell into a Bible discussion with a clergyman. “To wile away the monotony of a long sea voyage, the English chaplain proposed a systematic reading of the prophecies,” Barbour remembered.[1]

    In Barbour’s assent to the chaplain’s suggestion, we see something of the “peculiar combination of the lion and the lamb” in his personality attributed to him by an associate.[2] He “readily assented,” no doubt because he remained interested, but primarily because “having been a Millerite in former years, he knew right well there were arguments it would puzzle the chaplain to answer, even though the time has past.”[3] There is a certain perverse deviousness in his motive, but there may also have been an acute desire to discover wherein Miller had erred.

    He took the Millerite failure as a personal failure because he had invested his faith and life in the movement and because he could find no underlying error. He found a sense of personal validity as a Millerite and mourned the loss of significance and belonging it gave him. He suggested that accepting his interpretations re-validated Miller and his movement.[4]

    When Barbour and the clergyman read and discussed Daniel 12:7, Barbour felt a sense of revelation. He “saw what he had never seen before, though he had read it a hundred times.”[5] Daniel chapter twelve, verse eleven, says: “From the time the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.” Millerite expositors almost without exception extended the 1290 days from 508 C.E. to 1798 C.E. (A.D.). Most Millerite expositors were convinced that they must end in 1798, so they must begin in 508. They found in “the eminence which Clovis had attained in the year 508, and the significance of his victories to the future of Europe and the church”[6] the beginning of the 1290 days. The virtual imprisonment of Pope Pius VI in 1798 by the French general Louis Alexandre Berthier was supposed to have ended the power of the popes, at least as political rulers and, in the Millerite view, fulfilled the prophecy.

    Millerite predictions were based primarily on three prophetic periods of 1260, 1290 and 1335 days mentioned in the Bible. Miller counted the prophetic 1260 days mentioned in Revelation 11:3 and elsewhere from a starting point thirty years later than the starting point for the 1290 days. Barbour felt all the prophetic time counts should start at the same time. Doing so ended the 1290 days in 1828 at the start of the Millerite movement,[7] and the 1335 days in 1873, a date he knew some were looking toward.

    Barbour believed he had discovered a more logical approach to Daniel’s prophecy. “In our explanation of this in 1843, why did we begin the thousand years[8] thirty years before the abomination was set up? Here is our mistake,” he wrote,” ... The days end in ‘73, not ‘43. All this came in a moment. From that hour ... the whole truth of our position was made clear.”[9]

    Barbour believed this new explanation was irrefutable. He had stumbled onto the first of a series of “stubborn facts which none can question,”[10] and he had little patience with those who saw things differently. Barbour doesn’t tell us if the argument, sudden revelation in his view, that convinced him also convinced the ship’s chaplain. Probably if it had, Barbour would have said so.

    When he reached London in 1860, he obtained access to the British Library which may have required a recommendation from someone of at least moderate importance. He sought confirmation of his new understanding among the “many ... extensive works on the prophecies.”[11] How many and which of these he read he neglects to say. Except for E. B. Elliott’s Horae Apocalypticae,[12] they are all unnamed.

    It would be surprising indeed if Barbour were unfamiliar with Elliott’s Horae. He calls it a “standard work,” which it was; it was very influential among American expositors until at least 1900. He found in Elliott a satisfying Bible chronology which relied exclusively on the Bible’s internal evidence and ignored secular history and opinion and from which he could support his 1873 date. “I was looking to 1873,” he wrote, “and when I saw this chronology supported the argument of the 1260 and 1335 days of Dan. 12, naturally examined it with interest and ... have never seen a scriptural reason to abandon it.”[13]

    The chronology was developed by Christopher Bowen, the Anglican Vicar of Southwark.[14] Bowen was a prophetic student in his own right and published a pamphlet entitled Things to Come Practically Enquired Into in 1847.[15] He contributed a chronological table to Elliot’s Horae that was a restatement and revision of Henry F. Clinton’s chronology, incorporating revisions to it made by Elliot. Bowen’s table is distinctive enough to call it a new chronology and contemporaries differentiated between the two. Daniel T. Taylor prints the two chronologies along with others in a table. Clinton and Bowen differ by ten years.[16] Because Bowen crafted the table, he is credited with the chronology. In truth, credit belongs at least equally and maybe primarily to Elliott.[17]

    The evidence is plain that Barbour read John Aquila Brown’s[18] The Even-Tide; or Last Triumph of the Blessed and Only Potentate, a two-volume work published in 1823, either then or earlier. Brown was of interest to Millerites because he ended the prophetic 2300 days in 1844, and his book was well enough known in America that the anonymous author and publisher of Watchman of the Night and Millennial Morning[19] and Peters in his Theocratic Kingdom[20] could refer to it without further explanation. Matthew Habershon, an author recommended by J. A. Seiss, referred to him.[21] Isaac Wellcome mentions Even-Tide and connects Barbour to it, though he says, “Barbour... terminated his time argument at the same point, but by a different mode of reckoning, in some respects.”[22] One would conclude that Barbour read Brown’s Even-Tide, even without Isaac Wellcome’s statement.

    Key elements of Barbour’s prophetic scheme are found in Even-Tide, which seems to be their ultimate source. Brown would have interested Barbour because he ended the 1290 days in 1873. Barbour wouldn’t have read far into Brown to discover this. It is on the frontis chart in volume one and on the title page. Though Barbour doesn’t mention Brown or Even-Tide, he admits that others had pointed to 1873. He quotes Miller as saying after the 1843 disappointment that he could see “no light this side of 1873.”[23] He saw Miller’s words as a seal to his own conclusions; yet, he wrote “others have said as much or more” about 1873.

    John Fry in Observations on the Unfulfilled Prophecies pointed to 1873.[24] Fry ended the 1260 days in 1872/73, writing that “the arrival of the years 1844, 1872, and 1889 must be expected with feelings of the deepest interest by all who are looking for ‘this great day of the Lord.’” W. Snell Chauncy also pointed to 1873 in his 1839 publication Dissertations on Unaccomplished Prophecy.[25] In 1835 Thomas Brown suggested that the 1335 prophetic days might end in 1873, and he felt the way was opening up for “the full triumph of the Gospel kingdom and the final restoration and conversion of Israel.”[26] Matthew Habershon counted the 1290 days from 583 to 1873-74 C.E. (A.D.).[27] At least one advocate of 1873 was mentioned in The Literalist, printed by Orrin Rogers in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1842.[28] Closer to Barbour’s time, the anonymous British writer “S. A.” suggested in his Apocalyptic History that at least one prophetic period might end in 1873.[29] Though the basis for fixing on 1873 varied, there were a number who believed it a prophetically significant date.[30]

    No great doctrinal shifts occurred in Barbour’s thinking. He merely shifted the long familiar Millerite 1843/4 calculations thirty years forward. In other areas Barbour continued to hold to beliefs that were at least familiar to Adventists of all stripe, even if not believed by all. Second Adventism was a fragmented movement. It was divided into competing sects, and it was divided on issues such as the Trinity, conditional immortality, and the resurrection of the wicked. The newly formed Advent Christian body and Sabbatarian Adventists were both divided internally over the Trinity doctrine. Barbour ignored all these issues, concentrating on his new date system.

    [1] Barbour, N. H.: Evidence for the Coming of the Lord, page 32.

    [2] Paton, John H.: Two More at Rest, The World's Hope, November 1, 1905, page 336.

    [3] Barbour, N. H.: Evidence for the Coming of the Lord, page 32.

    [4] “Do you not see,” he would write referring to the parable of the foolish and wise virgins, “that we must accept of that movement, as the going forth of the virgins, or abandon our whole position as Adventists ... ?” (Evidence, page 25.) Note also this statement: “Convince me that the 1843 movement was based in falsehood, and that the past has been only confusion and error, and I will admit, with the world, that the chances are a hundred to one that this 1873 movement will be of a like nature, and end in disappointment.” - Barbour, N. H.: The Seventy Weeks, The World’s Crisis and Second Advent Messenger, April 3, 1872.

    [5] Barbour, N. H.: Evidence for the Coming of the Lord, page 32.

    [6] Smith, Uriah: The Prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation, Review and Herald, page 328 in the undated edition I consulted.

    [7] “Not only does Bro. Miller state in his lectures, published in 1840, that he began the study of these periods twelve years previous, viz., in 1828, but I have a book before me now, published in London in 1831, in which the author states that he began to look for this glorious hope in 1828. And in different parts of the world there were many who began about that time to look and wait ‘for his Son from heaven.’”- Barbour, N. H.: The 1290 and 1335 Days, The World’s Crisis and Second Advent Messenger, December 20, 1871.

    [8] He doesn’t mean the 1000 years of Revelation chapter twenty. Barbour divides the 1290 days into two periods and finds a complementary application for each.- Barbour, N. H.: The 1290 and 1335 Days, The World’s Crisis and Second Advent Messenger, December 20, 1871.

    [9] Barbour, N. H.: Evidence for the Coming of the Lord, pages 32-33.

    [10] Barbour, N. H.: Evidence for the Coming of the Lord, page 4.

    [11] Barbour, N. H.: Evidence for the Coming of the Lord, page 33.

    [12] Elliott, Edward B.: Horae Apocalypticae, or Commentary on the Apocalypse, Critical and Historical: Including also an Examination of the Chief Prophecies of Daniel, Second Edition, London, 1846.

    [13] Barbour, N. H.: Chronology, The Herald of the Morning, August 1875, page 38.

    [14] Burke’s A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Ireland (London, 1899, page 3) contains the following brief biographical note: “Rev. Christopher Bowen, M.A., of Hollymount, and Heatherwood, Isle of Wright, formerly rector of St. Thomas, Winchester, b. 16 Oct. 1801; m. 17 Jan. 1834, Katherine Emily, dau. of Sir Richard Steele, 3rd Bart, of Hampstead, d. 1890.” Dictionary of National Biography, Supplement, Volume I, New York, 1901, page 238, says that Bowen “was successively curate of Woolaston, near Chepatow, and of Bath Abbey church, rector of Southwark, and rector of St. Thomas’s, Winchester.”

    A brief profile of Christopher Bowen is found in his son Edward’s biography: “The Rev. Christopher Bowen was the eldest representative of an Irish family holding property in county Mayo, and was distinguished by many of the best characteristics of the Evangelical school of those days — devotion, spirituality, a hearty dislike of ecclesiasticism, profound earnestness, unquestionable sincerity. He was also very gentle and affectionate, full of sympathy with the trials of others, full of compassion for their failures or mistakes. Sir Henry Cunningham, in his memoir of Lord Bowen, has referred to him as ‘an excellent reader, whose children enjoyed no greater treat than to lie on the hearthrug and listen to his rendering of one of Shakespeare’s plays.’ He was, too, one whose able mind remained fresh and active with advancing years. ... It may be added, in view of the striking poetical gifts of his two elder sons, that he was a somewhat copious writer of verses, both humorous and sentimental.... He died on the Riviera in 1890.” - Bowen, W. E.: Edward Bowen: A Memoir, Longmans, Green, and Company, London, 1902, page 8.

    [15] Bowen, Christopher: Things to Come Practically Enquired Into, Binns & Goodwin, Bath, and J. Nisbet & Co., London, [1847] 1849 edition. Other works by Bowen exist. This is his only work on prophetic subjects of which I am aware. Bowen’s chronology doesn’t appear in the booklet. The chronology seems to have been drawn up specifically for Elliott.

    [16] Taylor, Daniel T.: The Reign of Christ on Earth: Or The Voice of the Church in All Ages Concerning the Coming and Kingdom of the Redeemer, H. L. Hastings, Boston, 1883 revised edition, pages 538-540.

    [17] Elliott, Edward B.: Horae Apocalypticae, Second Edition, London, 1846, page 254-259.

    [18] John Aquila Brown was a silversmith and a Factor or agent for one of the Sheffield silverplaters. He appeared as a witness at the Old Bailey on April 6, 1826, in the case of Elizabeth Wood Lloyd. He declared, “I live in Bouverie Street, and I am a silversmith.” (Sessions Paper: The Right Honourable William Venables, Mayor. Fourth Session, Held at Justice Hall, in the Old Bailey, On Thursday, the 6th of April, 1826, and Following Days, London, 1826, pages 316-217.) He died in March 1849. His birth date is unknown. His wife’s name was Ann E., maiden name unknown. They had two sons, Daniel born March 1, 1814, and David born January 1, 1816. Both sons were enrolled in The Merchant Taylors’ School.

    Brown is occasionally described as a Church of England clergyman. This is incorrect. Brown belonged to the Philo-Judaean Society. He sponsored or seconded a resolution at one of their meetings and is included in a list of “movers and seconders.” All listed are given the title “Rev.” except Brown who is listed as “Mr. John Aquila Brown.” — The Missionary Register For M DCCC XXVIII Containing the Principal Transactions of Institutions for Propagating the Gospel, London, 1828, page 229.

    In 1808 Brown was one of the principals at an organizational meeting for The Church Missionary Society for Africa and the East. He lived in Pall Mall then. - The Early History of the Church Missionary Society for Africa and the East to the end ofA.D. 1814, London, 1896, page 193.

    [19] Volume 1, page 26-32; 107, 118-119 cited by Froom, Prophetic Faith, Volume 4, page 266-267. Though Brown’s Even-Tide was printed in the UK, there are many more copies in American libraries than in British libraries. One gets the impression that Brown’s primary audience was in the United States.

    [20] Peters, G. N. H.: The Theocratic Kingdom of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Funk and Wagnalls, New York, 1884, Volume 3, page 99.

    [21] Habershon, Matthew: A Dissertation on the Prophetic Scriptures Chiefly Those of a Chronological Character: Shewing Their Aspect on the Present Times, and on the Destinies of the Jewish Nation, James Nisbet and Co, 1834, page 197.

    [22] Wellcome, Isaac: History of the Second Advent Message and Mission, Doctrine and People, Yarmouth, Maine, 1874, page 477.

    [23] Barbour, N. H.: Evidence for the Coming of the Lord, page 34. Despite extensive research, I cannot find the source for this quotation. It seems an uncharacteristic statement for Miller to have made. Isaac Wellcome, questioned the quotation. — History of the Second Advent Message, page 370.

    [24] Fry, John: Observations on the Unfulfilled Prophecies of Scripture: Which are yet to Have Their Accomplishment Before the Coming of the Lord in Glory or at the Establishment of His Everlasting Kingdom, Printed for James Duncan and T. Combe, London, 1835, page 380. This book is in the British Library.

    [25] Published by James Nisbet & Co.; J. Johnstone, 1838, page 387. This book is in the British Library.

    [26] Brown, Thomas: A Key to the Prophetical Books of the Old Testament, Published by the Author, London, 1858, page 103.

    [27] Habershon, Matthew: A Dissertation on the Prophetic Scriptures Chiefly Those of a Chronological Character: Shewing Their Aspect on the Present Times, and on the Destinies of the Jewish Nation, James Nisbet and Co, 1834, page 452.

    [28] The Literalist: Elements of Prophetical Interpretation, etc., Orin Rogers, 1840, page 333.

    [29] S. A.: Apocalyptic History, S. W. Partridge and Company, Second Edition, London, 1871, page 21.

    [30] Peters mentions a Balfour who looked to 1873. This seems to be a misprint for Barbour. — Peters, G. N. H.: The Theocratic Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, Funk and Wagnalls, New York, Volume 3, 1884, page 99.

  • cofty


  • Londo111

    Russell and his Bible Students were plainly part of the fragmented Adventist movement, just as Barbour was, from which he received his chronology.

    I'm not sure why this is denied by some. Without Miller, there would be no Barbour as a religious leader, without Barbour, there would be no Russell.

  • vienne

    Russell came from a non-adventist tradition, but was attracted by Barbour's claim that Christ had returned invisibly. In point of fact Barbour had left the Adventists and moved on to Mark Allen's church of the blessed hope, a Literalist/Age-to-come body. Literalist belief is a much older prophetic system. Froom explains the differences [as do we in Separate Identity]. None of Russell's doctrines were uniquely Adventist, but they were Age to Come doctrines as derived from his association with the One Faith movement represented primarily by the paper The Restitution.

    In Separate Identity we dissect Russelite doctrine and trace each facet to its origin. Even the Barbourite chronology was not Adventist but Anglican in origin. Elliot and Bowen were both Anglican clergy. Anglican writers in this era often speculated on prophetic fulfillment and many of them are the underlying sources for Russell's doctrine.

    Age to Come belief extends back at least to the 15th Century, but became more prominent in the 17th Century. It differs significantly from Millerite Adventism. The path Russell chose was Age to Come, not Adventism. The two are commonly confused because they were both expecting the speedy return of Christ. Newspapers of the day often confused the two groups, but they were antagonistic trading insults over doctrine and behavior.

  • vienne

    Note this from Russell's pen:

    The answer showed that my surmise had been correct, viz.: that the time arguments,
    chronology, etc., were the same as used by Second Adventists in 1873, and explained
    how Mr. Barbour and Mr. J. H. Paton of Michigan, a co-worker with him, had been
    regular Second Adventists up to that time, and that when the date 1874 had passed
    without the world being burned, and without their seeing Christ in the flesh, they were
    for a time dumbfounded. They had examined the time-prophecies that had seemingly
    passed unfulfilled, and had been unable to find any flaw, and had begun to wonder
    whether the time was right and their expectations wrong, – whether the views of
    restitution and blessing to the world, which others were teaching, might not be the right
    thing to look for.2

  • vienne
  • cofty

    Having shared all that quality research for free I think you deserve to promote your book.

  • Londo111

    In searching for information about the "Age to Come", it seems often paired with Adventism, or the movement called Age to Come Adventist. For instance, Joseph Marsh seemed an influential figure in Age to Come, but ultimately seems categorized Adventist. While there may have been a distinction and an independent origin, it really does seem there is allot of overlap to the point where the lines are blurred. It almost seems like one subsumed the other.

  • Londo111

    To me it’s kind of splitting hairs to say Russell wasn’t buried under the Pyramid, but near it. The most prominent feature of his burial plot is the Pyramid. Although some of his followers are buried there, he was their leader and thus the most important person buried there. Everyone else is forgotten. Without Russell, there would be no Pyramid on the gravesite.

    So even though technically he is buried close by, for all intents and purposes, Russell is buried under a Pyramid.

    He was for his followers at the time of his death, “the Faithful and Discreet Slave”, the Laodicean Messenger (the seventh and last messenger to the Church). In the 1917 Finished Mystery, it was claimed that William Miller had a prophetic dream about him. He reportedly asked to be dressed in a Roman toga as he died on a train in Pampla, Texas. He was engaged in various shady business ventures and he lied under oath in court to protect his interests.

  • vienne

    There is confusion among current writers over the difference between Age to Come /Literalist belief and Adventism because both groups are millennialist in outlook. Their doctrines are totally different. Age to Come believers are not world-burners where Adventists are. Age to Come saw the earth as man's proper home. Adventists wanted it turned to a cinder. There are other differences as well. Significant differences. And Literalist belief predates Adventism by centuries.

    From Separate Identity:

    Defining the Difference
    As disappointed adherents returned to their previous belief systems, Millerites saw the need to
    define the difference between Literalist (Soon to be called “Age-to-Come” belief in America) and
    Millerite belief. Writing in the May 1844 issue of Advent Shield, J. V. Himes defined the differences
    this way:
    MILLENNARIANS believe in the pre-millennial advent of Christ, and his personal reign
    for a thousand years before the consummation or end of the present world, and creation
    of the new heavens and earth, and the descent of the New Jerusalem. While the
    ADVENTISTS believe the end of the world or age, the destruction of the wicked, the
    dissolution of the earth, the renovation of nature, the descent of NEW JERUSALEM, will
    be beginning of the thousand years. The Millennarians believe in the return of the Jews,
    as such, either before, at, or after the advent of Christ, to Palestine, to possess that land
    a thousand years, while the Adventists believe that all the return of the Jews to that
    country, will be the return of all the pious Jews who have ever lived, to the inheritance
    of the new earth, in their resurrection state. When Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with all
    their natural seed who have been of the faith of Abraham, together with all pious
    Gentiles, will stand up together, to enjoy an eternal inheritance, instead of possessing
    Canaan for a thousand years.
    THE MILLENNARIANS believe a part of the heathen world will be left on the earth, to
    multiply and increase, during the one thousand years, and to be converted and governed
    by the glorified saints during that period; while the Adventist believe that when the Son
    of Man shall come in his glory, then he shall be seated on the throne of his glory, and
    before him shall be gathered all nations, and he shall separate them one from the other,
    13 G. Storrs: The Return of the Jews, The Midnight Cry! February 17, 1843, page 1. (Pages are not
    numbered in this issue.)
    as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats. He shall set the sheep on his right hand,
    and the goats on his left. That one part will go away into everlasting (eternal)
    punishment, but the righteous into life eternal. They cannot see any probation for any
    nation, either Jew or Gentile, after the Son of Man comes in his glory, and takes out his
    own saints from among all nations. They also believe “God will render indignation and
    wrath, tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil, to the Jew first
    and also to the Gentile, in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men.”
    The Millennarians believe that the saints must have mortal men in a state of probation,
    for a thousand years, as their subject, in order for them to reign as kings; for, say they,
    how can they reign without subjects? To which the Adventists reply, If it is necessary
    for them to have such subjects for a thousand years to reign, by the same rule they must
    have them eternally; for “they shall reign forever and ever.” – Rev. xxii:5.14
    The Age-to-Come movement was not monolithic but composed of many independently-minded
    believers and congregations, each with their own doctrinal system. Historians of these movements tend
    to point to the founders of each church system as the originator of the doctrines. In fact, most of the
    beliefs seen as unique and developed by or rediscovered by the “founders” were previously believed by
    others including their contemporaries. Age-to-Come belief was the norm prior to the Millerite
    movement. Though L. E. Froom (Prophetic Faith of our Fathers) was anxious to hide the fact, most of
    the prophetic expositors he describes as forerunners to the Millerite movement believed Literalist, Ageto-
    Come doctrine. The most we can ascribe to Joseph Marsh, the Wilsons, John Thomas and others like
    them is a return to or an adaptation of views held by others for centuries before the Millerite movement.
    Russell had some interaction with most Age-to-Come groups. He was drawn to and associated
    with individuals and congregations who centered on The Restitution, a newspaper most clearly
    identified with Joseph Marsh’s work and with Benjamin Wilson and his tribe of relatives. He would
    write to, visit, preach with, and identify with many of the most prominent of those who wrote for or
    preached in association with The Restitution. Many of these congregations adopted names such as One
    Faith, Church of God, Church of Christ, or compromise names such as The Second Advent Church of
    God. The Restitution was brought to birth by Thomas Wilson in 1871, and by 1872 he was calling it the
    “organ of Servants of Jesus Christ.”15 In 1873 Wilson described the paper as “the recognized organ of a
    religious society known as Marturions.”16 There were many independent congregations who disagreed
    on minor and sometimes major points of doctrine. Because names were variable and changeable we will
    describe them most generally as One Faith.

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