John Rogerson

The defeat of Napoleon in 1815 marked the end, from a British point of view, of a significant episode in world history that had apparently been foretold in the Bible. According to Daniel 7:23-7, a fourth kingdom would arise which would war against the saints of the Most High for 'a time, two times, and half a time', after which it would be destroyed and be replaced by the everlasting kingdom of the saints of the Most High. British Protestant interpretation of Daniel 7 identified the fourth kingdom with the papacy, and its war against the saints of the Most High with the persecution of movements such as the Waldensians and the Hussites. On the view that 'time'meant a year of360 days, the period of domination of the fourth kingdom would be 1,260 years, and depending on when it was believed that papal power began to be exercised in an anti-Christian way, the ending of the period of 1,260 years could be seen as 1798, when the French republican army took possession of the city of Rome.1 The events of the French Revolution and the defeat of Napoleon gave rise in Britain to intense speculation that biblical prophecies had been fulfilled and that the second advent of Jesus was imminent. Such speculation had several consequences. First, there was renewed interest in missionary work among Jews and in assisting the return of Jews to Palestine. Second, conferences were convened by Henry Drummond in 1826-9 at his home at Albury Park in Surrey, whose purpose was to identify biblical prophecies that were yet to be fulfilled. Third, adventist speculations and in some cases charismatic phenomena marked the formation of new churches such as the Catholic Apostolic Church and the so-called Plymouth or Christian Brethren.2 These developments had the effect of creating an atmosphere that was hostile

1 A. Clarke, The Holy Bible with a commentary and critical notes, vol. v (London, 1825) on Daniel 7:25. A similar calculation could be made on the basis of Daniel 12:6-7. At Daniel 12:11, a period of 1,290 days (i.e. years) is mentioned from the time that the 'abomination that makes desolate' is set up. Clarke considered the possibility that the beginning of Islam in ad 612 was meant.

2 See Clements, 'George Stanley Faber'; Flegg, 'Gathered under apostles', pp. 33-68.

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