ERRONEOUS CHRONOLOGY AND FALSE CONCLUSIONS.
MANY are the false chronologies and erroneous and very misleading applications of prophecy in our day, but the majority of them being little known it is not necessary that their errors should be specially pointed out. But during the past five years numerous tracts and pamphlets have been published and widely circulated by a Mr. Dimbleby of England, and by a Mr. Totten of the United States, which present a so-called "Bible chronology," and various prophetic interpretations based thereon, which are quite misleading to many,--inclining them to false expectations and thus diverting their attention away from correct expectations, and consequently away from the real duties of the present "harvest" work and time.
Their chronology, and methods of applying such prophecies as they attempt to expound, are practically the same, with a few exceptions which we will show later on. Mr. Dimbleby is conceded to be the originator of the Chronology, which is far from clear, and very disconnectedly stated. It is built only in part upon the testimony of the Bible; and, while claiming exactness to the fraction of a day, it is one hundred and twenty-nine years astray, according to the Bible record. This is shown in the article following, on "The True Bible Chronology";--to which, for straightforward, unvarnished simplicity, no other chronology we have ever seen will compare. We do not claim it as "our" chronology: on the contrary, we claim it is God's chronology, supplied in the Bible to all that are his, and for our common use and behoof. We fear human speculations and manufactures along these lines, by ourselves or others.
But it may be asked, Why should any be confused by this Dimbleby-Totten chronology, which they do not understand, and which is not simple? We reply, it is chiefly because of five things:--
(1) Because these gentlemen claim to back up their chronology by astronomical calculations, eclipses, etc.
(2) Because Mr. Dimbleby is or has been connected with the British Chronological and Astronomical Association; and Mr. Totten is a man of some erudition, who for some time held the position of Instructor of Military Tactics in Yale College, and therefore is known as Professor Totten.
(3) Because the majority of people know little about mathematics, chronology and astronomy--especially the latter--and are apt to overestimate possibilities along those lines.
(4) Because both of these gentlemen, following a very common failure, employ their talents rather to impress their readers with reverence for their learning, and thus for their views, than to elucidate and prove their subject. They use technical terms, and assert astronomical proofs of their chronology which the average readers do not comprehend, the latter are convinced of their own ignorance, and proportionally convinced of the wisdom of these gentlemen; and forthwith they accept what they do not at all comprehend. And as for those who have some knowledge of astronomy, they usually have little knowledge of the Bible, and no knowledge of Bible chronology. They are therefore as unprepared to see, as they would be indifferent to expose, the errors of statement on this subject made by Mr. Totten and Mr. Dimbleby.
(5) Because these gentlemen state themselves boldly, as though they believe all that they are teaching.
Respecting the last proposition: We must remind our readers that it is nothing uncommon for people to deceive themselves, as well as others. Saul of Tarsus, one of the most zealous, God-fearing men in Israel, was deceived to the extent that he persecuted the Church while verily [R1974 : page 104] thinking that he did God service. Hence, while charging these gentlemen with serious errors, we do not believe that they were originally actuated by any desire to deceive themselves or others. They desired to find a chronology, and concluded they ought to be able to find and prove one. They set about it; and have bent and warped their own judgments so that they no doubt at first believed what they were teaching, which, as we proceed to show, is very far astray chronologically, and without a particle of astronomical support. But we do find fault with them in that afterward, when they became involved in difficulties from which they could not extricate their theories, either logically or Scripturally, they taught and still teach them instead of refuting them.
Their "Bible Chronology" is defective; because in certain places where the historic account of the Bible is broken, they have neglected to take the divinely given "bridging" for those "chasms," specially provided by the Lord in the New Testament; hence the difference between it and the simple, easily comprehended, Bible chronology presented in MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. II., Chapter II. (See p.42), and stated in Anno Mundi order on another page of this issue. The largest portion of this error (100 years) is made in reckoning the period of the Judges. The error next in magnitude is made in connecting Bible chronology with secular chronology,--the "seventy years desolation of the land" being taken to mean seventy years of captivity, whereas the captivity began eighteen years before. Thus one hundred and eighteen (100+18) years are lost from their reckoning. In these two errors these gentlemen have followed Bishop Usher, whose chronology appears in the margin of our common version English Bibles. Indeed, it may be said that they use Usher's chronology with but slight deviation, until, finding it too short, they adopt a peculiar, "original" and erroneous method of lengthening it, the fallacy of which we will expose.
But, says some one, if their chronology is wrong to the extent of one hundred and eighteen years, or even one year, or even one day, how could they prove it by astronomy?
They do not prove it, we answer; they merely assert that they prove it: and we will show you why it is impossible, absolutely impossible, for them or for any one else to prove their chronology, or any other Bible chronology, by astronomy. [R1975 : page 104]
Now do not allow yourself to conclude that because you know nothing about astronomy you can therefore only choose between their claim to prove their chronology by astronomy and our claim that such a procedure is as impossible as the most impossible thing you ever heard of; for the matter is not nearly so abstruse as some learned people pretend and some unlearned people suppose. When we have explained, in simple language, the principle of applying astronomy to chronology, you can understand it, and will understand it; and you will see and fully endorse our declaration that astronomy cannot in any sense or degree be applied to Bible chronology.
First.--Astronomy has taken note of the fact that the heavenly bodies move with such regularity that it is possible to calculate their movements into the future and say, Unless some remarkable and now unforeseen change occur, the sun will rise and set at such hours on a certain day five hundred years hence, and that during that year there will be such eclipses at such and such hours on such and such days. By similar calculations or by reference to tabulated reckonings (just as in reckoning interest one person would figure it out while another would refer to an "Interest Table"), it is a very simple matter to know that such and so many eclipses occurred one thousand years ago or ten thousand years ago, unless some unknown changes occurred in the meantime.
But now suppose that you had reckoned the matter out, and found that just five thousand years ago to-day the sun rose at 5 A.M. and set at 7 P.M. in the vicinity of Palestine; and that during that year the moon was eclipsed four times, and the sun twice; suppose that you were very precise and had reckoned the very day, hour and minute at which each of those six eclipses occurred; suppose that you noted, also, a transit of Venus and a transit of Mercury, to the very day, hour and minute, that same year. Of what value would all that reckoning be to you, or to any one, so far as giving a knowledge of human history, or of enabling anyone to connect your astronomic reckoning with mankind and the chronology of human affairs?
All can see that! Any grammar school pupil can see that it would be absurd to claim that because you had found that certain eclipses and transits occurred in a certain year, therefore, that must be the year in which Adam died; or in which Noah was born; or in which Moses and Israel came out of Egypt.
But, says some one, while that seems logical enough, will you not explain how astronomy is sometimes used in ascertaining, or at least in corroborating, dates of history?
In ancient times a connected chronology was not valued and preserved as now. The solidarity of the race was not appreciated then as now, and no common era was recognized. The first effort to bring time-order into the world's general history was in the second century of the Christian era (A.D.), by that celebrated astronomer, mathematician and geographer, Ptolemy, of Alexandria, in a book entitled "A Table of Reigns." In it he gives a chronological table of the Assyrian, Persian, Greek and Roman sovereigns from his own day back to Nabopolassar, the father of Nebuchadnezzar, of Bible note. The records of those kings and dynasties had been written independently; and Ptolemy attempted to reconcile and harmonize them into one. And, although generally quite accurate, no doubt the mistake of reckoning the "seventy years desolation" as seventy years of captivity, in his endeavor to unite Bible [R1975 : page 105] history with secular history, was originally his. It has been followed, very generally, since.
Astronomy was one of the early "sciences"; but in early times it was so mixed with vague imaginations and astrology as to be of little value, and astronomers (rather astrologers) then not only claimed to foretell something respecting the future state of the weather, but after the style of the modern "fortune-teller" pretended to predict future events;--teaching that there was some connection, or relation, between the eclipses and transits of heavenly bodies and the events of earth,--such as births, battles, deaths, revolutions, plagues, etc.;--and they frequently made note of eclipses in connection with their records of events which they supposed answered as fulfilments of these superstitious notions, just as superstitious people now often connect things together in their imaginations which have not the remotest philosophical relationship--as, for instance, the breaking of a looking glass to be a sign of a death, etc., etc. Thus it happened that Ptolemy, who was a historian as well as an astronomer, found in those superstitious records of the world connections between history and astronomic data which he was able to use; and his knowledge of astronomy and of dates and times when eclipses had occurred helped him in bringing order and harmony out of the histories of the four principal heathen nations of his day--Assyria, Persia, Greece and Rome.
To illustrate the incompetency of astronomy in fixing dates, we note the fact that scholars are still in doubt and dispute respecting the date of our Lord's birth. Some hold that it occurred one year and three months before the beginning of the year A.D. 1, while others contend that it occurred four years (and some six years) previous to A.D. 1. Both parties appeal to astronomy to assist them in proving their dates. There is nothing in the Scriptural account to assist (except the reference of Luke 3:1to the reign of Tiberius; see MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. II. p.54), for in the Bible nothing is recorded respecting eclipses or transits; but in secular history something was found that might bear upon the subject, at least indirectly,--the date of Herod's death, supposed to have been the year in which our Lord was born, or the year after. The only astronomical date was Josephus' record that the same year that Herod died a sedition occurred and several of the rebels were burnt alive by Herod's orders; and "that very night there was an eclipse of the moon." This is more data for an astronomer to work on than is furnished by any incident mentioned in the Scriptures: but was it sufficient to fix the year of Herod's death? No; because there are from one to four eclipses of the moon every year.
How absurd it is, therefore, to talk about establishing Bible chronology by astronomy! The absurd claim of the Mormons that God gave them a new Bible engraved upon copper plates is no more incredible. The one proposition is as worthy of belief as the other.
The following from the American Cyclopedia bears upon the point we are considering. It says:-- "Greek and Roman dates are generally well authenticated [back] to the first Olympiad (about 776 B.C.).... The Assyrian, Babylonian and Egyptian inscriptions are in extinct languages and in characters long obsolete.... Ctesia, a Greek, about 415 B.C., wrote a history of Babylonia, but it is not regarded as authentic. Herodotus is valuable only as to his own time, about 459 B.C., and those of a century or two earlier.--Attempts have been made to bring astronomy to the aid of chronology. Eclipses being anciently regarded as portents, occasional mention is made of them in connection with historical events."
Thus it is seen that secular history of very early dates is admittedly not generally reliable; and that only in a few instances has astronomy been able to assist in fixing dates to a reasonable degree of exactness. Two dates are fixed with considerable certainty,--the beginning of Nabonassar's reign on Feb. 26 of 747 B.C. and the beginning of the reign of Cyrus in 536 B.C. The former date is valueless to us in the study of Bible chronology; because Nabonassar is not mentioned in the Scriptures. The latter, however, is a very important aid; for the Bible chronology ends with the "70 years desolation of the land," and it tells us that God stirred up the heart of Cyrus to restore Israel from captivity at the close of that period, and that this was in the first year of Cyrus;--hence 536 B.C.
The Bible, and the Bible alone, supplies such a chronology as the people of God can rely upon; and our conviction that God did intend to give us a Bible record of all past time is strengthened by the fact that the only broken periods in the Old Testament record are "bridged" by New Testament records.
If, then, we rely upon the Bible as an inspired declaration on the subject, why should we not use it as far as it goes;--to the "seventy years desolation of the land," and thus to Cyrus. Why not believe that God intended thus to provide a chronology as long as it was needed-- down to the point where secular history could be depended upon as accurate--so as to give us a complete chronology A.M.? We do so believe; and we find most satisfying corroborative evidence of it in the fact that the whole Bible record fits it with accuracy and precision, as shown in MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. II.
But did not Messrs. Totten, Dimbleby and Usher pursue this same safe plan, and make use of the inspired chronology of the Bible as far as it will go,--down to the first year of Cyrus?
No, they did not. They admit that the first year of Cyrus was the end of the "seventy years desolation of the land"; and that that date is well established as A.D. 536; but instead of following the Bible line of chronology back of that, and making the uncertain dates of secular history conform to the positive statements of the Bible, they reverse the matter, and attempt to make the Bible record agree with the secular dates, admitted to be quite obscure and uncertain. For instance, they adopt the uncertain secular date for the beginning of Nebuchadnezzar's reign; [R1975 : page 106] and then referring to Dan. 1:1, they thus fix the date of [R1976 : page 106] Jehoiakim's reign and alter other matters to suit.* Then again, they apply the "seventy years" as years of captivity and begin them in the third year of Jehoiakim; whereas the Scriptures unequivocally declare, repeatedly, that those were years of "desolation of the land," "without an inhabitant." (Jer. 25:11,12; 29:10; 2 Chron. 36:21; Dan. 9:2.) In this manner the remainder of the reign of Jehoiakim and all of the reign of Zedekiah (18 years) are reckoned in as part of the "seventy," whereas Scripturally they were previous and, therefore, additional years.+
+Thus they lost eighteen years more.--See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. II., pp. 50,51.
It is not surprising that unbelievers put as much confidence in the uncertain dates of secular history as they do in those furnished by the Bible; but it is strange that Christians should do so: and that they should give them the preference and adopt them when professedly giving a "Bible Chronology" is a matter of regret. The consequence is that while Usher's chronology is 124 years too short, the chronology of Dimbleby, endorsed and used by Totten, is 129 years too short. This leads the gentlemen into other errors (one error almost always leads to another); for they see that there are strong evidences that we are living somewhere near the end of the Gospel age, and near the time for the Millennium to be ushered in by "a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation."
They believe, with us, that the 6,000 years of permitted sin are to be followed by the 1,000 years of Christ's reign of righteousness. But whereas the true Bible chronology shows that the 6,000 years from Adam ended in 1873 (the very year in which the world-wide depression began), their erroneous chronology would show the beginning of the seventh millennium to be over one hundred years in the future.
To make their short chronology come out to fit present times, two fallacies are introduced; and their readers, who are unskilled in chronology, are confused and misled into false calculations and into false expectations based thereon. As their applications of prophecy differ a little, we shall consider their efforts separately,--Mr. Totten's first.
With these three thoughts in mind: (1) that the transition should be expected somewhere about the end of six thousand years; (2) that present evidences indicate that the Lord's Kingdom is near at hand; (3) that his adopted chronology shows the end of six thousand years to be more than a century future, Mr. Totten seems to conclude that he must look up some means of shrinking his chronology, of shortening the 6,000 years so as to end them somewhere near the present time; or rather near 1899-1\4--which date he reckons, by his calculations, will witness the end of the Times of the Gentiles.
Mr. Totten is ingenious. He reflects that while according to his accepted chronology the 6,000 years will end in A.D. 2002, yet by reckoning twelve lunations as a year, each year would be shortened eleven (11) days and the 6,000 years end very shortly now. These he terms "short" or "lunar" years; while the regular solar year he styles the "true" year. To count the entire 6,000 years as "lunar" years, of 354 days each, would make the 6,000 years from creation end in A.D. 1829, rather too early for present use; so looking along the aisles of history, and figuring, he finds that the date of Joshua's great battle, at which he commanded the sun and moon to stand still, would be a convenient approximate date, as well as a marked event upon which to speculate. He reckons the date of that event to have been the year A.M. 2555-1/4, and declares that the remaining 3444-3/4 years necessary to complete 6,000 years would (if reckoned 354 days to each year), according to his chronology, end A.D. 1899-1/4. We quote his words from his own publication of Sept. 22. '90, as follows:--
"Since that [Joshua's] day the millennaries have been shortened to lunar years, so that there will extend from thence 3444-3/4 lunar years to March 1899 A.D. The sum of the 2555-1/4 "long" or solar years up to that day and the 3444-3/4 "shortened" or lunar years, from thence to the specified equinox, is exactly 6000. Thus some particular day near the vernal equinox [March] of the year 1899 A. D. will accurately terminate the sixth millennary since creation."
We can find no reason whatever for using such a year as 354 days would make; and know of no reckoning, ancient or modern, upon that basis. The solar year (i.e., the year reckoned by the sun, and marked every spring and every autumn by equinoxes--the equal length of the day and night) has always been used in reckoning years The ancient Jewish custom was to reckon intermediate time by "new moons," but this was rectified in a simple manner, and brought to solar time, by beginning each new year with the first new moon at the Spring equinox, nature adding an extra month every few years. Thus the years of the Bible were true or solar years, and may be reckoned in with our present chronology without difficulty. Although arrived at in a simple manner, it was no less accurate and scientific than our present method of intercalation.
But we shortly after discovered another reason why Mr. Totten chose this date for the ending of 6000 mixed years (part solar and part lunar);--he wanted it to agree with his "Times of the Gentiles," reckoned by his chronology.
[R1976 : page 107]
Accordingly, we concluded to examine his "Times of the Gentiles," which he brings to a close at the same minute, and proves by similarly careful (?) mathematical (?) and astronomical (?) calculations. What do we find?
We find that in this, as in his chronology, Mr. Totten goes outside the Bible account and takes secular history from the first year of Cyrus back to and through the Babylonian period. Thus doing, he is obliged to deny the Bible statement that the land of Judea lay "desolate" "without an inhabitant" for seventy years. (Dan. 9:2; 2 Chron. 36:21; Jer. 25:11,12.) To get the Bible chronology linked to secular chronology he shortens the desolation period, which followed Zedekiah's captivity, from seventy to fifty-two years.
But, worse yet; in order to get the "Gentile Times" to end as early as 1899-1/4 he begins them, not at the time when the crown was removed from Zedekiah, the last representative of David who sat upon the typical Kingdom of God; nor even at the date when Nebuchadnezzar had his vision and was told that he was the head or beginning of the Gentile governments represented in the image shown him in his dream. Mr. Totten goes back twenty-two years before the dream given to Nebuchadnezzar, and forty years before the crown was taken from God's representative on the typical throne of David, and begins it with the first year of Nabopolassar.
God, both by a vision and by his Prophet Daniel, had said to Nebuchadnezzar, "Thou art this head of gold, and wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of heaven, hath he given into thy hand, and made thee ruler over them all." (Dan. 2:38.) And, in view of this clear, plain statement, no sufficient excuse can be found for such misapplication of Scripture as the above, by any candid expositor. We can only suppose, as above suggested, that Mr. Totten, realizing from the signs of the times that the great crisis of the age is close at hand, let his zeal run away with his judgment and his conscience, to a greater extent than even he has fully realized.
(1) He errs in asserting that his chronology is that of the Bible, and that it is supported by astronomy--eclipses, etc., --when in reality everybody familiar with the Bible knows, who knows anything about the adaptation of astronomy to history and chronology, that there is not one solitary event so recorded in the Bible as to make this a possibility.
(2) In shrinking his (erroneous) chronology 103 years, he supposes a year such as no people, not even savages, have ever used.
(3) To get his "Times of the Gentiles" near the same date, by his erroneous chronology, he violates the Bible record and begins them twenty-two years before God gave any intimation of Gentile Times, and while God's typical throne still stood.
By reason of the assertive style of Mr. Totten's teachings some astronomers even, who were not so well posted in the Bible as in astronomy, have been thrown off their guard, supposing that he had found something new in the Bible on which to calculate the dates astronomically; and vice versa, some Bible students were so unfamiliar with astronomy that they were ready to believe that it could prove anything. And so some very good and some educated men are misled by Mr. Totten's supposed wisdom, the main evidence of which to them is his strong statements that he has "solved the riddle of history," found "the hidden key" to prophecy and chronology, etc. Many of the unsophisticated of God's children are thus in danger of being misled so as to ignore and neglect the true light now shining upon God's Word and plan. Unless helped in time, they are likely by and by to be greatly shaken by the failure of Mr. Totten's predictions; and then to become easy captives to the snare of Infidelity.
But, while Mr. Totten is very positive about all past time, he is cautious as he reaches out into the future. He states himself, but rather vaguely; intimating that the [R1977 : page 107] "watchers" will understand: and they do. We see exactly what he expects from his writings and diagrams, but have difficulty in finding brief, succinct, positive statements for quotation.
His theory, as presented in his publication of Sept. 22, 1890, chart, is, that from March 1892 to March 1899, seven years, the world will be crazy; as represented in the seven years of Nebuchadnezzar's madness.
By March 1891 A.D. the "Jewish Irredentalism" would be accomplished; i.e., the Jews would organize as a people, but under the domination of other governments.
By the autumn of 1891 A.D. he announces "Palestine" Redivivus"; i.e., Palestine would come into existence again, be revived. By this we presume he meant nationally, for Palestine has been in process of revival otherwise, for nearly twenty years. That he meant nationally is implied also by his expectation that "Jewish Irredentalism" would precede it six months.
By March 1892 A.D. (the beginning of the seven years of world-madness), a man, a prince (Antichrist), representing himself as Messiah, would appear and deceive many Jews, and make "a compact with many"; and the following September would see the "altar finished" and Antichrist's "edict issued," and then would follow the general deception and conversion of the whole world to Antichrist,--the "virgins" being the only exceptions. This would be quickly done, and fully completed before Sept. 1895 A.D., the "midst of the week."
By Sept. 1895 a wonderful event was to take place;-- the setting up of a great Image of Antichrist, which every human being on earth was to be compelled to worship, or else be killed. Onward to 1899 the "plagues" and "vials" of divine wrath, mentioned in Revelation, will be let loose upon Antichrist and all whom he had deceived--the whole world; and Antichrist will perish, while Christ and the [R1977 : page 108] saints (to be translated about March 1892) will appear in glory, at that time, March 1899.
That it may be seen that we are not misstating Mr. Totten's views we quote his words, from his pamphlet of Sept. 22d, 1890, as follows (the brackets are ours):--
"This table gives upon an enlarged scale the years surrounding the final seven upon the 'Times of the Gentiles.' [March 1892 A.D. to March 1899 A.D.] They antitypify those of Nebuchadnezzar's insanity, and cover Antichrist's REIGN OF HORROR. The latter half of the seven, which will probably be bi-sected [divided, Sept. 1895] by the setting up of his IMAGE [Rev. 13:18] in the temple, is the time of 'Jacob's trouble.'
"The times are now short and their signs are all completed save a single one--the manifestation of 'Ho-Anomos' 'That Lawless One' (2 Thes. 2:8), whose synonym in the same language gives us the familiar neologism, 'Ho Anarchos' --(THE ANARCHIST)--and those short days (a year and a half) [Sept. 22d 1890 to March 1892] are the SOLE DAYS OF GRACE THAT YET REMAIN TO US. For when that One shall have begun his reign [March, 1892] the Holy Spirit which hitherto has withstood it (2 Thes. 2:6,7) will have withdrawn! From that dread moment [March 1892] we must date the 'Great Tribulation,' which is the time of 'the harvest'....Progressive interpretation of the Word now suggests the awful certainty that the Holy Spirit, grieved beyond endurance, will withdraw [March 1892] before the Second Advent! With it 'the elect' will probably be 'caught up' to join the returning Savior in the air. But 'woe to the inhabiters of the earth' (Rev. 12:12) when the 'wise virgins' disappear! The 'foolish' will then be truly surrounded by a pack of wolves, for when the Holy Spirit 'withdraws itself' man must literally face the INCARNATE DEVIL."
We take exception to every item of Mr. Totten's program, except that the Gospel age ends with the second presence of our Lord in the clouds of a great time of anarchistic trouble, already overshadowing the world. We are not now presenting our views, however, but criticizing his.
In the beginning of Mr. Totten's presentations of his views, we thought that few probably would be misled by his errors; and that those few would quickly be undeceived by the utter failure of the predictions for 1891 and 1892. But no; we had given his followers credit for more discernment than they possessed; for it seems that they and Mr. Totten become more and more infatuated with their errors as the predictions one after another fail, until now they think of no date except 1899-1/4. There they expect something, nay, everything, to occur; whereas, according to Mr. Totten's claims, if reliable at all, everything should be over by that time.
Mr. Totten himself, instead of coming out frankly and admitting that thus far his calculations and predictions are certainly erroneous, still infatuated with them, writes in the same positive manner as at first. In his publication of Dec. 21st, 1892, after the time predicted for "Jewish Irrendentalism" and "Palestine redivivus" had passed and, as every one knows, brought no such events; and after the year 1892 had passed, and no Antichrist such as he predicted had appeared, or made an "edict," or made a covenant or "compact with many" Jews, so far from admitting his errors Mr. Totten writes thus:--
"I doubt if many hamlets in Saxon lands have failed to hear some echo of the message, which during the past year I have been constrained to send forth with no will to hesitate, nor have I aught of it to curtail or withdraw."
"Whether the date, March 29th 1892, upon which I have fixed as merely the beginning of Judgments, be a type only, or the long delayed antitype itself, it is the one or the other, and in either sense is FINAL."
All this is the language of desperation, the language of a man who has staked his all, and as it disappears will not believe the evidence of his senses, but continues to mutter to himself, It is so! It must be so, even if it isn't so! Hear him again:--
"The time has at last arrived when Biblical Chronologists may be absolutely sure of certain things; and have no fear that they will ever have to be moved again."
But Mr. Totten thinks best to take some notice of the dates which had so evidently proved false, so far as his predictions were concerned. He concludes to mention the matter guardedly, lest a few should have seen the slip, and need just a word of assurance from him, that his only reliable and authentic, only Biblical, and only astronomically proved and double riveted chronology is as faultless as ever. Yet the statement must be so guardedly made that the masses of his readers, uncritical, would not know that any slip had occurred. His utterances, therefore, must be as much as possible like the utterances of the ancient Oracle of Delphi,--capable of being understood variously, according to the hearer and according to the facts of the future. Thus on page 319, Dec. '92 issue, he refers to the "Jewish Times" which he had previously shown most conclusively would end exactly one and a half years before March 1892, as proved beyond shadow of doubt by his wonderful astronomical calculations. Without a word of retraction of the error (so far as we have noticed), he takes a new place for beginning those times; viz., 3406 A. M. (his and Dimbleby's chronology) instead of, as before, 3444-3/4 A.M., a difference of only 38 years--a mere nothing however, in Mr. Totten's exact (?) chronology which proves (?) itself to a fraction of a minute.
But more; he not only begins at a different point, but also changes the kind of time: he now measures it by the "true" or solar year of 365-1/4 days, instead of by his short and untrue year of 354 days; then, because the reckoning reaches nowhere, he adds 75 years (for no conceivable reason except to force a date); and then gives the astonishing (?) result, 6001 A.M. Here are his own words:--
"Hence, adding to 3406 A.M. these seven times (7x360=2520 years), we reach the 5926 A.M., and by the further addition of thirty and forty-five or seventy-five years, we reach the year 6001 A.M., which is the first of the Sabbath thousand, reckoned on the longest possible or Solar scale!...Moreover, as we are at this moment (Sept. 20-21 1892 A.D.) only at the end of Solar year 5890 A.M., it would appear that the first year of the Millennium [R1977 : page 109] was still about 111 years off! And so it is upon the long or Solar scale."
This is so stated that Mr. Totten can refer to it by and by and say,--I showed that the Millennium might not come before 2003 A.D. This would mean that the poor Jews would be "trodden down of the Gentiles" for a hundred years more;--a hundred years after the end of Gentile Times, after all Gentile nations and Antichrist have been destroyed by the establishment of Christ's Kingdom. Where now is Antichrist's deception of the Jews, getting them to build him a temple and altar and to worship him--if he flourishes from March 1892 and is destroyed in March 1899; and, poor Jews! must they be trodden down by their dead enemies for another century?
But Mr. Totten well knew that few, very few, of his readers would see or appreciate this little statement sandwiched in with other matter; and so he proceeds on the very next page to reiterate his older erroneous position, in these words:--
"Our 1899-1/4 A.D.--Now I have elsewhere shown upon a dozen or so lines of independent calculation that the 'Times of the Gentiles' must terminate with this latter date; and it is for this reason that I unhesitatingly place the termination of a hidden scale of 6000 years at this [R1978 : page 109] very point."
It will be noticed that March 1899 is no longer stated as the end of 6000 years, but now the end of "a hidden [deceptive] scale" of years;--part "true" or solar years and part false or short years. All this we can characterize as nothing short of a jugglery of language.
Although Mr. Totten had previously acknowledged Mr. Dimbleby as his "preceptor" "in the critical study of Biblical chronology," and claimed that they "use the very same line of A.M. years with the same respective calendars, all as discovered by Professor Dimbleby"; and although he had vouched for the whole, and assured his readers that he (Totten) had verified it by astronomy, etc., etc., proving it to a second and beyond a shadow of doubt, as it were double riveting it all around by his wonderful discovery, or inspiration, etc., connected with Joshua's long day and the dial of Ahaz, etc., etc., yet after critics had taken some notice of its historical and astronomical inaccuracies, Mr. Totten shoves the blame of them upon Mr. Dimbleby, saying in his serial of Dec. 25, '94.--
"He [Dimbleby] formerly held the maximum Eclipse Cycle to be 651 years to the very day. The true Eclipse Cycle seems to be nearer to exactly 649 years, as he now agrees. Yet for all practical purposes 651 years is an accurate Eclipse Cycle. We now believe that it is really the earth's mean anomalistic period, and that it always closes with an eclipse to within 4-5 days, sometimes accurately."
Is this a sufficient retraction for men to make who have deceived a confiding public into the belief that they had found some new means of verifying their chronology to the fraction of a minute, and, by a system of stretching and shrinking periods, had led people to expect a fulfilment of their predictions from 1892 to 1899, which, if not witnessed would impliedly prove God a liar and the Bible a fraud;--because their eclipse-proved chronology could not err. Now the fraction-of-a-minute exactness means, "within 4-5 days, sometimes accurately," on a short cycle of 649 years!
We have searched carefully for any retraction or acknowledgement of the error of the statements of what he had previously stated must occur in the several years 1892 to 1899; but we find none. On the contrary, the Dec. 25 '94 issue speaks of the leading of the Holy Spirit still, although it was to have been withdrawn in 1892 to make way for Antichrist. Referring to past teachings in the aggregate, he affirms their truth, saying that it must yet "be mastered by the scoffers."
Finally, in Nov. 15, '95 issue, he admits just a possibility of some trifling error; but by his triumphant tone would have his readers believe these so trifling as to be unworthy of mention. He says:--"Now and then a stray shot may hit away a 'week-day' designation, and here and there a careless disposition may entail the sweeping of a whole section of our work into the dust." But not one syllable as to the gross misapplications of Scripture and history already pointed out in this paper; which misstatements will surely do damage to the faith of some well-meaning but too credulous people, unless they are helped by God's providence.--Psa. 91:11,12.
In the same publication, in view of the proved gross inaccuracies of Mr. Dimbleby in relation to astronomy, etc., Mr. Totten says: "Any close astronomical student of Biblical Chronology will detect the specific errors of Professor Dimbleby." But Mr. Totten himself not only endorsed those astronomical inaccuracies, but has also used them to delude many trusting souls. Mr. Totten adds: "Even were every feature of Prof. Dimbleby's work amenable to the specific criticism of inaccuracy, and we will not say it is not, it has none the less SUPPLIED THE FOUNDATION upon which some of the grandest truths of Biblical chronology have been discovered."
What an admission of the weakness and unworthiness of the foundation upon which Mr. Totten has labored for years. And how astounding that any man not bereft of reason should claim that he had built a substantial faith-structure upon an unreliable, crumbling proposition which "any close astronomical student" would at once reject as senseless, if not fraudulent. Yet Mr. Totten declares, in the same editorial,--"We not only believe, but are satisfied by PROOF and DEMONSTRATION that the time of the end of the times of the Gentiles is almost over, that the world ought to have the message sent to it at once, and as no message was sent ever before. If we had the means we should send it at any cost." But as Mr. Totten has not the means, those who believe his unscriptural, unscientific, unastronomical and mathematically incorrect presentations can procure them at the wholesale rate of $8.50 per [R1978 : page 110] set in paper covers, and scatter them as truth, and delude fellow pilgrims. Alas! that even those who seem to be struggling to open the eyes of their understanding should be beset by such bewildering false lights.
In a chart issued by Mr. Totten, Oct. 1895, he reiterates his so-called Bible chronology which we have shown is very unscriptural, and repeats the same false measurements of Gentile Times, but he says nothing about the withdrawal of the holy spirit in 1892, nor about the seven years' reign of Antichrist from 1892 to 1899, predicted in a previous chart. Instead, he runs the record of years down to 1899, and then says, "How long, O Lord!" and following this he shows another century--until A.D. 2000, for Israel to tussle with a literal, human Antichrist and get firmly established. Some may consider this all the retraction of previous errors necessary; but we do not. Many will not see through it, and hence the necessity for helping the candid ones, as we now attempt to do.
If we have shown that Mr. Totten's chronology is not Biblical nor reliable,--and that it is absurd to talk of proving his (Usher-Dimbleby) chronology, or any other Bible chronology, by astronomy,--eclipses, etc.--because the Bible contains no record of eclipses and absolutely no data of any kind upon which astronomy could take hold,--and that his "Times of the Gentiles" were commenced at a wrong period, for which there is no authority in reason or Scripture,--and that all of his other prophetic "discoveries" are based upon these false premises and hence are equally erroneous and misleading, we have accomplished our purpose.