Comfort My People
Nineteenth-Century British Evangelicalism and the Restoration of Israel
Dr. Andrew D. Robinson
The signs of the present times point strongly towards the Holy Land and the once glorious city of Jerusalem; and the eyes of many (both Jews and Gentiles) are turned hither in anxious expectation of the approaching fulfillment of those promises of favour and restoration which are so strikingly set forth in Scripture, with reference to that land and her scattered and degraded people. The threatened judgments have been awfully and literally accomplished, and shall not the promises of God be found to be equally sure? It will be no hard matter for the same Almighty power which has turned her fruitful valleys into a desolate wilderness, to cause that ‘wilderness’ once more ‘to blossom as the rose;’ and the same hand that has scattered her inhabitants over the whole earth, and made them a mark for the scorn and reproach of the Gentile nations, can as easily gather them together and bring them again into their own Land….
The children of Israel are now a despised and humble race, but they are a perpetual memorial to the whole world of God’s unsparing justice, and a standing miraculous proof of the truth of His word. Soon may we look for their restoration, and then they will be a splendid monument of His mercy and His faithfulness to Abraham and to his seed forever. Let us then be zealous in our humble efforts to awaken this interesting people, and call on them unceasingly to “arise from the dead, that Christ may give them light.” Let us pray earnestly for their conversion and preparation to meet their expected Messiah; thus shall we be exercising the highest duties of Christian charity, and (if we may so express it) “preparing the way of the Lord.”1
These stirring words were written by Mrs. Annie Webb (1805-1880) in the preface to her first novel, Naomi or The Last Days of Jerusalem, which was published in 1841, at a time in British history when the majority of Evangelical Church of England ministers were of a pre-millennial persuasion. It is interesting to note that Annie Webb’s son, Hanmer William Webb-Peploe (1837-1923), was one of the founders of the Advent Testimony Movement (1917), known today as Prophetic Witness Movement International (PWMI), the world’s oldest surviving pre-trib prophecy movement. He gave the opening address at the inaugural meeting in the Queen’s Hall, London, on December 13th 1917, just days after General Allenby liberated Jerusalem from the Ottoman Turks. Webb-Peploe was vicar of St. Paul’s Church in Onslow Square, South Kensington, London, where five anniversary meetings for the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews (LSPCJ) were hosted.2 He was also Prebendary (honorary senior parish priest) of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and considered by some to be the leading Anglican clergyman in London.
The Evangelical clergy of the Established Church in nineteenth-century Britain were destined to make an extraordinary contribution to the advancement of belief in Israel’s restoration. The Church of England is the state Church, of which the monarch is the head; consequently, the subject of Israel’s restoration was not confined to the pulpit and the Christian press, but was discussed in public, in Parliament and in the highest ranks of society. Many of those involved in the drive to arouse British interest in the conversion and restoration of the Jews occupied positions of considerable power and influence, and their role in establishing pre-millennialism, albeit largely historicist in perspective, as the dominant Evangelical position in the national Church, is one of profoundest significance.
The interest of the Victorian Church in the restoration of the Jews did not, of course, emerge out of a vacuum, but owed much of its impetus to the great eighteenth-century Evangelical Awakening, with the preaching of John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, William Romaine and others, resulting in the conversion of thousands to Christ. Many have suggested that without God’s sovereign intervention, the nation may have fallen victim to revolution. The Awakening turned the heart of the Britain back to God, and this led to a significant increase in the number of missionary societies across the denominational Church, with the result that by the early nineteen hundreds, Britain could rightly claim to be the leading missionary and Bible producing nation of the world. Interestingly, many of the pre-millennialists associated with Jewish missions in this period can be found in the lists of other missionary organisations, and this led to tension – for example, in the case of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) – between a-millennialists and pre-millennialists over their respective interpretation of Scripture relating to the Great Commission, and the place of the Jews in God’s purposes.3
Britain has a long theological history, and therefore our study necessitates the mention of some of the pre-millennial forerunners who made an important contribution to belief in the doctrine of the restoration of the Jews, much of which was incorporated into the familiar Family Bibles that were produced in such large numbers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Family Bibles, with their expository notes, general summaries, tables, and illustrations were a powerful medium for communicating biblical truth, and a source of great Christian encouragement to countless families. Most Family Bibles were not pre-millennial in their eschatology, as with Matthew Henry’s timeless 5- volume devotional Exposition on The Old and New Testaments (1708-10), but, as we shall see, we do come across the odd pre-millennial Bible commentator, which is always a delight. Before moving on, therefore, I would like to pay tribute to a small band of pioneers whose contribution (among many others) to the study of Bible prophecy is especially noteworthy.
BRITAIN’S PRE-MILLENNIAL PIONEERS
Sir Henry Finch
One of the most important works to be published in the early seventeenth-century was The World’s Great Restauration or the Calling of the Jewes (1621). It was written by Sir Henry Finch (1558-1625), a member of Parliament and Lord Chief Justice, and published anonymously by William Gouge, who is described on the title page as “a preacher of the Gospel in Blackfriars, London.” Finch was “an accomplished Hebraist” and his work is cited in the Encyclopaedia Judaica as “one of the classics of Christian pro-Zionist literature.”4 In an earlier work, Explanation of the Song of Songs (1615),5 Finch had discussed the New Jerusalem, but in The World’s Great Restauration, he called upon the Jews to reassert their claim to their ancient homeland, an event which he linked to their conversion to Christ. Interestingly, the work opens with a dedication in Hebrew, with an English translation entitled, “To all the Seed of Jacob, Farre and wide Dispersed. Peace and Truth be multiplied unto you.” Of particular interest is Finch’s introductory prophecy Scripture guide, in which, under five headings, he charts the future “flourishing state” of the Jews after their conversion. Delineating the prophetic promises pertaining to their future under forty-six subheadings, Finch provides us with a comprehensive pre- millennial prophecy guide, which may be the first of its kind in British evangelical scholarship. Passing over the prophecies that “concerneth the Jewes refusal of Christ” and their general calling, we pick up Finch’s list at point twelve, where he begins to deal with the prophecies relating to their restoration and future state. I have omitted some of the less important points and modernized the Scripture references:
12. They shall repair to their own country (Isa 11:15-16; 51:10-11; Jer 3:18; Hos 1:11).
13. In that way, Euphrates shall be laid dry for them to passe, as once the Red Sea was (Rev 16:12; Isa 11:15; 51:10-11).
14. The tidings of this shall shake and affright the Turkish power (Dan 11:44).
15. A marvelous conflict shall they have with Gog and Magog, that is to say, the Turke (Ezek 38-39; Rev 20:8).
16. And shall be in sore distresse (Dan 12:1).
17. This conflict shall be in their owne country, the land of Judea (Rev 20:8,9; Isa 25:10; Joel 3:2; Ezek 39:2,4; Zech 14:2-5; Dan 11:44-45).
18. A noble victory they shall obtaine.
19. God from heaven miraculously fighting for them (Rev 20:16; 20:9; Joel 3:2; Ezek 39:16).
20. It seemeth the maine blow where the Grand Signior [Antichrist] himself must fall, shall be at, or neere Jerusalem (Rev 10:9, 16; Joel 3:2; Ezek 39:16).
21. The utter overthrow of the whole Armie, perhaps shall be beside the Sea of Gennezaret, otherwise called, the Lake of Tiberias (Ezek 39:11).
22. The conquest of Gog and Magog commeth 45 yeares after the first conversion, which is the 395 yeare and last period of the Ottoman Empire (Rev 9:15; Dan 12:12)….
23. They shall dwell in their owne countrey (Jer 3:18, 23:8; Ezek 37:21-22; Amos 9:14-15).
24. They shall inhabite all the parts of the Land, as before (Obad 15,19,20; Isa 27:12, 65:10; Jer 31: 38-40).
25. They shall live in safety (Isa 60:18; Hos 2:18).
26. They shall continue in it for ever (Ezek 37:25; Amos 9:15).
27. The land shall be more fertile than ever it was (Ezek 36:35; Hos 2:21-22; Joel 3:18; Amos 9:13; Zech 14:10).
28. The Countrey more populous than before (Isa 49:19-21; Ezek 34:31; 36:37-38).
29. There shall be no separation of the ten tribes from the other two; but all make one kingdome (Ezek 37:22, 24; Hos 1:11).
30. And a most flourishing Common-wealth (Dan 7:27).
31. Touching their Church, it shall be most glorious (Isa 4; 24:23; 60:1-2; Rev 21 & 22; Dan 12:3; Jer 3:16-17; Joel 3:19-20).
32. Which glory shall appeare in outward beauty (Isa 24:23; 30:26; 60:20; 62:1-4; Rev 21:5,23; Zech 14:6-7).
33. Sanctity (all prophane purged out) (Joel 3:17; Zech 14:20-21; Rev 22:3).
34. Purity of Doctrine (Ezek 37:23; Hos 2:16-17, 14:8; Zech 13:2-3).
35. Excellency of the new covenant (Isa 61:8; Ezek 37:26)…
44. …After their call, Ashur and Aegypt, all those large and vast Countries, the whole Tract of the East and of the South shall be converted unto Christ…The chief sway and sovereignty remaining still with the Jewes. So as,
45. All nations shall honour them (Rev 21:24; Isa 49:23; 60:3,5; &c. 61:9; 66:10-12; Zeph 3:19-20; Rev 16:12).
46. And the enemies of the Church by them subdued (Num 24:17-19; Isa 11:14; Joel 3:19; Obad 18; Zech 10:11…).
Having outlined Israel’s future, Finch prepares his readers for 234 pages of in-depth and well- reasoned Bible exposition with the following exhortation:
The time drawing neere, wherin these things fore-told so long before, come now to be accomplished, how sweet a thing it is, to looke into the prophecies that give assurance of it. May it therefore please the judicious and learned Reader, to weigh the Scriptures following: which proffesedly and of purpose, speak of these things. Some in plaine and evident termes, others more obscurely, but all layd together, cast such a light, as leave this doctrine without exception.6
Sir Henry Finch and his publisher William Gouge were thrown into prison by an outraged King James I, where they were to remain until they expressed contrition for their “unadvised” publication. In his classic work, A Pisgah-Sight of Palestine (1650), Church historian Thomas Fuller (1608-1661) explains why they were so badly treated: “His [Finch’s] expressions (indiscreetly uttered, or uncharitably construed) import that all Christian Princes should surrender their power as homagers to the temporall supreme Empire of the Jewish nation,”7 a notion that James deeply resented, and one which Fuller dismissed as “a conceit of the modern Jews.”8 Finch’s belief, of course, is one of the scriptural tenets of pre-millennial doctrine, which was regarded as heresy by the English Church and the Crown.
One of the unsung heroes of the pre-millennial cause who deserves special attention, is the little known Welsh puritan Vavasor (or Vavasour) Powell (1617-1670), an itinerant preacher, evangelist, church leader and prodigious writer who spent many years in prison for his non-conformist Anabaptist beliefs. Born in the tiny Welsh village of Knucklas, near Knighton, in the lush rolling hills of Radnorshire, this “honest injudicious Zealot of Wales,”9 as Puritan opponent Richard Baxter (1615- 1691) described him, is perhaps best-known for his New and Useful Concordance to the Holy Bible (1671), the second edition of which contains “a lengthy recommendation” to “the studious Christian” by millenarian Dr. John Owen (1616-1683) – a puritan divine of the greatest stature. In his book Vavasor Powell: The Baptist Evangelist of Wales in the Seventeenth Century (1896), biographer David Davies informs us that an “interesting” second-edition copy of Powell’s concordance (1673), bearing the inscription “John Bunyan his book,” is preserved in the museum of the Baptist College in Bristol. Davies is of the opinion that it is “practically certain” that Bunyan (1628-1688) used this well- thumbed copy in writing his “immortal allegory,” The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678).10 “What a combination!” Davies declares, “A Concordance prepared by Vavasor Powell in prison… bearing also the name of John Owen… a volume owned withal by John Bunyan and inscribed by his hand! What a legacy of sacred associations gathers round this one copy!”11 (See Appendix)
The most remarkable feature of Vavasor Powell’s scholarly concordance is that the title page lists in its table of contents, “Also a Collection of those SCRIPTURE-PROPHESIES which relate to the call of the JEWS, and the glory that shall be in the latter days.”12 There follows an “Advertisement to the READER” by two of Powell’s co-workers, fellow prisoner Edward Bagshaw, and brother-in-law Thomas Hardcastle, who urged readers to observe four simple explanatory rules in their use of the concordance, the last of which reads as follows:
4. Since the greatest part of Scripture-Prophesies is about the calling of the Jews, and the glory of Christ and of his Church in the latter days, there is therefore annexed a brief collection of all the principal Texts which relate unto that time, which remain yet to be fulfilled; and which, from what we have already seen literally and exactly accomplished, we are to pray and wait in hope, that these also will have their full accurate completion.13
I have in my possession a first edition of Vavasor Powell’s pocket-sized octavo concordance, complete with its precious “brief” Collection of Scripture-Prophesies printed on both sides of a single leaf measuring a mere 3½ inches by 5½ inches. Because of its enormous significance in the furtherance of pre-millennial truth, I have produced it in its entirety, including full Scriptural notations, which number 245 verses in total.14 As we will shortly see, the Church owes this Welshman an incalculable debt:
- The Jews shall be gathered from all parts of the earth where they are now scattered, and brought home to their own Land. For this see Isa. 11:11; 27:12,13; 43:5, 6; 49:11, 12; 60:4.
Compare Jer. 3:18; 16:14, 15; 23:3; 30:10; 31:7-8, 10; 32:37.
- They shall be carried by the Gentiles unto their place, who shall join themselves with the Jews, and become the Lord’s people. Isa. 49:22; 14:12; 60:9; 66:19-20; 2:2-4.
Compare Jer. 3:17; 16:19. Ezek. 47:22-23. Mic. 5:3. Zech. 2:11; 8:20-23.
- Great miracles shall be wrought when Israel is restored as formerly, when they were brought out of Egypt; viz.
i. Drying up the River Euphrates, Isa. 11:15-16. Zech. 10:11. Rev. 16:12. Hos. 2:15. Mic. 7:15.
ii. Causing Rivers to flow in desert places, Isa. 41:17-19; 48:20-21; 43:19-20.
iii. Giving them Prophets, Isa. 6:18-21. Hos. 12:9-10.
iv. The Lord Christ himself shall appear at the head of them, Isa. 35:8; 52:12; 58:8. Hos. 1:10-11. Mic. 2:12-13.
- The Jews being restored and converted to the Faith of Christ, shall be formed into a State, and have Judges and Counsellors over them as formerly: The Lord Christ himself being their King, who shall then also be acknowledged King over all the Earth, Isa. 1:26; 60:17. Compare Jer. 23:4; 30:8-9, 21. Hos. 3:5. Ezek. 34:23-24; 37:24-25; Isa. 54:5; Obad. ver. 21. Zech. 14:5, 9; Psa. 22:27-28.
- They shall have the victory over all their Enemies, and all Kings and Nations of the Earth shall submit unto them. For which see Isa.11:13-14; 14:1-2; 41:14-16; 49:23; 60:12; & 25:10, 11, 12. Joel 3:7, 8, 19, 20. Obad. v.17, 18. Mic. 4:6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13 & 5:5-7; 7:16-17. Zech. 2:13; 9:13-15; 10:5-6; 12:6. Num. 24:17. Isa. 49:23; 60:10-16; & 66:19-20.
- The Jews restored shall live peaceably, without being divided into two Nations,or contending with one another any more. Isa. 11:13-14; 14:1-2; Jer. 3:18; 50:4; Ezek. 37:21-22; Hos. 1:11.
i. They shall be very numerous, and multiply greatly. Isa. 27:6; 44:3-4; 49:18-21; 54:1- 3; 61:9; Jer. 23:3; 30:18-20; 31:27; Ezek. 34:11; 36:38-39.
ii. They shall have great peace, safety and outward temporal prosperity. Isa. 32:16-18; 33:24; 54:13-17; 60:18,21. Jer. 23:3-6; 30:10; 32:34-41; 33:6-9; 50:19-20; Joel 3:17- 18; Mic. 7:18-20; Zeph. 3:13; Zech. 3:9-10.
iii. They shall be very glorious, and a blessing in the whole Earth. Isa. 19:24-25; 61:9; Jer. 33:9; Ezek. 34:26; Zeph. 3:19-20; Zech. 8:13.
- The Land of Judea shall be made eminently fruitful, like a Paradise, or the Garden of God. Isa. 29:17; 35:1-2, 7, 9; 51:3, 16; 54:11-13; 55:12-13; 60:17; 65:17, 25; Ezek. 34:26-27, 36; 36:37; Joel 3:18; Amos 9:13-14.
- Jerusalem shall be rebuilt, and after the full Restauration of the Jews, shall never be destroyed nor infested with Enemies any more. Isa. 52:1; 26:1; 60:18; 33:6; Joel 3:17; Obad. ver.17; Zech. 14:10-11; Jer. 31:38-40; Ezek. 38:11.
- A little before the time of the Jews’ Call and Conversion, there shall be great Wars, confusion and desolation, throughout all the Earth. Isa. 34 throughout; Joel 3:1, 10; Zeph. 3:8-9; Ezek. 28:25-26; Hag. 2:21-23; Jer. 30:7-10; 2 Chron. 15:3-7. So that we may say, as Balaam did, prophesying at that very time: Alas, who shall live when God doth this? Num. 24:23.15
Brown’s Self-Interpreting Bible
Students of Bible prophecy may never have heard of Vavasor Powell, but many will be familiar with the above prophecy table, which was frequently inserted in John Brown’s renowned Self-Interpreting Bible (1778). Brown (1722-1787), a shepherd-boy turned pastor, was a Scottish divine who learned Hebrew and Greek in a rough shelter in the hills of his native Scotland. His Self-Interpreting Bible, which bears his name, was exceptionally popular, especially in the United States, “where it was reprinted dozens of times, usually in a form either large or very large, sometimes even elephantine..,” or, in the case of the 1822 New York printed folio edition, “so heavy as to be almost uncarryable.”16 It was still in print in America in the 1920s.
What is particularly significant is that, according to David Daniell in his authoritative work The Bible in English (2003), Brown’s Self-Interpreting Bible was the first complete Bible to be published in New York in 1792, by printers Hodge and Campbell.17 They produced it by subscription in forty affordable weekly parts, and at the head of the list of subscribers stands the illustrious name “George Washington, Esq. President of the United States of America.” I have in my possession a 46-part set which Blackie published in 1864 for the princely sum of one shilling or twenty-five U.S. cents per part. What is of considerable interest is that alongside Brown’s chronologies, summaries, paraphrases, and “Evangelical Reflections” stands Vavasor Powell’s “A Collection of the Prophecies which concern the Calling of the Jews, and the Glory which shall be in the Latter Days,”18 (see Appendix) although the table is included anonymously, leaving many to have incorrectly concluded that John Brown was the originator. Powell’s prophecy study-guide appears in most editions of the Self-Interpreting Bible, including those produced in instalments, although I have not been able to ascertain if it was appended to the 1792 New York edition. The table is also found in many editions of Thomas Scott’s Family Bible (1792), another hugely popular best-seller, similarly available in weekly parts in Britain and the United States. David Daniell informs us that between 1808 and 1819 in the United States alone, 25,250 copies were sold, and that the Scott volumes used by Thomas Jefferson are still in the Library of Congress.19 Incidentally, Thomas Scott (1747-1821) was the first secretary of the Church Missionary Society and succeeded the famous hymn writer, John Newton, to the curacy at Olney, in Buckinghamshire.20
As we consider these facts we are left wondering what impact Vavasor Powell’s nine pro-Israel tenets may have had on American Christian consciousness. There is no question that multiplied tens of thousands of homes possessed a copy of Brown’s or Scott’s Bible, and with it, Powell’s prophecy table. I remember how excited I was, shortly after being saved in 1987, to discover a Brown’s Self Interpreting Bible in a charity (thrift) shop in Colwyn Bay, North Wales, and to read of the restoration of the Jews.
In 1836, on the eve of the Victorian era, a collection of manuscript sermons on the Jews, which had been written by the English Non-conformist divine Matthew Mead (1629-1699), was published for the princely sum of six shillings (30p or 45 cents in today’s money). The sermons, which date from the latter half of the seventeenth century, had been preserved in the family of Sir Thomas William Blomefield (1791-1858), and were discovered among some old books and papers which had been “providentially committed”21 to his trust after the death of a relative. Following the advice of several friends, notably that of the esteemed pre-millennialist Edward Bickersteth (1786-1850), Sir Thomas presented Mead’s Original Sermons on the Jews “to the Church of Christ, trusting that the preacher ‘being dead, will yet speak’ by them to the present generation.”22 I have a copy of this scarce work, which was a gift from Blomefield to his mother; it includes a brief preface by Bickersteth, in which he notes that the profits raised from the sale of the book, after meeting publishing costs, were to be given to the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews. What is of particular interest is Blomefield’s insightful explanation as to why these seventeenth-century manuscript sermons had been hidden until the early nineteenth century:
It may be well to remark the peculiar providence which has postponed the publication of these sermons, till the subjects upon which they treat, the Restoration of the Jews, the future destinies of the Church of Christ as closely connected with that event, and the Second coming of our Lord, have acquired such deep and increasing interest in every thinking mind23 (my emphasis).
Matthew Mead “was as indefatigable in Christian work as he was amiable in spirit,”24 but because of his refusal to acquiesce to the terms of the 1662 Act of Uniformity concerning the Book of Common Prayer, he was among the two thousand Non-conformist ministers who were ejected from the Church of England. Removing to Holland, he found great favour with the Prince of Orange, and on his return to England “gathered about him one of the largest congregations in London,”25 meeting in a church in Stepney, which was supported on four wooden pillars that had been presented to him by the states of Holland.26 This shows something of Mead’s scale of influence, and as Bickersteth noted in 1836 in the preface to the Sermons: “It is very gratifying to see that the attention of Christians was with so much judgment, and piety, directed to the case of the Jews, above a century and a half since.”27 Mead’s five sermons on the Jews, which bear “the stamp of the vigorous, enlarged, and devout mind of the author,”28 are all based on Ezekiel 37, and furnish the reader with a highly skilled and detailed exegesis of the prophetic passages relating to Israel’s restoration. Mead presents his subject with true clarity, and with an evident love for the Jews, as the following brief extracts illustrate:
There is a time coming, and I believe, very near, when this poor people, this afflicted people of God, that belong to the covenant of God, shall again be restored and delivered, and become a people, and the greatest mercy and blessing to the world.29
Now if they shall be a nation again, then they must have a place, a land to dwell in as a nation, the greatest in the world for honour and glory. The poor Jews, who have been, and are to this day scattered in all nations, and scorned by all nations, shall shortly become the most glorious people in the world, and be had in the highest esteem in the world 30
Let them be the object of our pity and prayer; never any needed it more.... They have no Christ, for they have renounced him, they have no God for there can be no God without Christ.... Beg earnestly of God to hasten their conversion; follow the example of the great Apostle, “My heart’s desire, and prayer to God for Israel is, that they may be saved.” What God makes the matter of his promise we ought to make the matter of prayer.31
To gain some understanding of the level of public interest in Mead’s re-discovered sermons, I draw your attention to an 1837 copy of The Christian Lady’s Magazine, a bi-annual publication that was edited by the noted Victorian author, polemicist, and social reformer Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna (1790- 1846). In volume 7 (January-June), we read this stirring commendation of Mead’s Original Sermons on the Jews:
To all who love God’s smitten, scattered, but unforgotten Israel; to all who prize the candle which, in Protestant England, is yet brightly burning, with fire first caught from their extinguished lamp, and who long to see the flame rekindled in its ancient depository, we most heartily commend this rescued volume of valuable discourses, taken down as delivered from the lips of a zealous teacher.... Nothing of the kind can be more animated, more touching, more quickening than these sermons.... There is much in the prefatory memoir by Sir Thomas Blomefield, deserving the serious consideration of his readers. It is written with equal boldness, justice and faithfulness... [and we] desire a blessing on this book, as being calculated to apply the touchstone to every heart.32
A WORLD GOVERNED BY PROVIDENCE
In his History and Doctrine of the New Testament (1748), Bible scholar Christopher Brown makes an important point relating to the fulfilment of prophecy, asserting that “The Design of God” is such that “He gave… the prophecies of the Old Testament, not to gratify Men’s curiosities, by enabling them to Foreknow things, but that after they were fulfilled, they might be interpreted by the Event…. For the Event of Things predicted many Ages before, will then be a convincing Argument that the World is governed by Providence.” In short, “The Event will prove the Revelation.”33
The Victorian age marked the turning point in the history of British replacement theology, when, for the first time since the days of the early Church, pre-millennialism became the majority view. In their exhaustive Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature (1867-1887), John McClintock and James Strong, who were no friends of pre-millennialism, cite an anti-millenarian work, The End of All Things, or the Coming of Christ (c.1866), in which the author James Grant (1802- 1879), a newspaper editor and historian, rather conservatively estimated that “more than half of the evangelical clergy of the Church of England are at this moment millenarians.”34 In fact, in 1857, Thomas Rawson Birks (1810-1883), Edward Bickersteth’s son-in-law, who was Honorary Canon at Ely Cathedral and for twenty-one years the Honorary Secretary to the Evangelical Alliance, calculated that pre-millennialists made up the majority of the Evangelical clergy of England and Ireland.35 This is an astonishing statistic, and in spite of McClintock’s and Strong’s slight that those so inclined had been “contaminated”36 with the doctrine, there is little question to my mind that the pre-millennialist clergy of mid-nineteenth century Britain were among the finest ministers the British nation has ever produced; we have not witnessed their like since, nor do I think we are ever likely to. They stirred the conscience of the nation at every level, with their teaching on the Lord’s Return and the Restoration of the Jews. Men and women in every sphere of influence subscribed to their pre-millennial prophetical creed, and took an active interest in the spiritual and physical plight of the Jews who were beginning to resettle in their ancient homeland.
Putting Jerusalem on the Political and Theological Map
Among those God raised up at this time was Anthony Ashley Cooper, later the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury (1801-85), who, in 1838, urged Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston to establish a British vice- consulate, a decision which, according to Evangelical historian Kelvin Crombie, proved to be “the most profound political act affecting the development of the Holy City.”37 In putting “Jerusalem on the political map,”38 Britain assumed responsibility for the protection of the Jews, and the vice-consul was appropriately briefed by the Foreign Secretary. In 1840, Queen Victoria signed an agreement with King Frederick William of Prussia, establishing an episcopacy in Jerusalem which would supervise missionary activity and offer protection to the Jews. The two monarchs agreed that the presiding bishop would always be a member of the Church of England, and that appointments would be made alternately by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the King of Prussia, the costs being shared between the two nations.
These were tense times and many eyes were focussed on the Holy Land. Less than half a century earlier, following Napoleon Bonaparte’s “contemplated siege” of Jerusalem in 1799, Muhammad Ali (1769-1849), pasha and viceroy of Egypt, led a French-backed campaign (1832-1840) to occupy Palestine, in rebellion against the ruling Ottoman Empire, before Britain pushed the despot back into Egypt. The Jews suffered violent anti-Semitic persecution, and it is to Britain’s credit that she discharged her duty so seriously in protecting Jewish interests in Palestine. Events in the Middle East mirrored the huge shift in theological opinion that was taking place in the Church, and many began to recognise that the restoration of the Jews, biblically speaking, could not be divorced from the burgeoning political and commercial developments that were taking place in the Holy Land. The Rev. William Robert Fremantle (1807-1895), later Dean of Ripon, makes this point with some feeling in his preface to a series of twelve public prophecy lectures, delivered during Lent in 1841 at West Street Episcopal Church, Soho, London, where he was the incumbent. The lectures, which were published under the title, Israel Restored (1841), were delivered by the reverends Thomas Shuttleworth Grimshawe, T.R. Birks, Joshua W. Brooks, C.J. Goodhart, W.W. Pym, Francis Goode, William R. Fremantle, Edward Bickersteth, Alexander Dallas, Henry Girdlestone, W. Dalton, and W. Tilson Marsh. We will return to some of these men later.
In his preface, Fremantle called the attention of the British public to the importance of interpreting events in the Middle East in the light of Scripture. As he explains:
The following course of Lectures owes its origin mainly to the extraordinary interest that has been excited in the public mind respecting the Jewish nation by the late occurrences in Palestine. The prominency given to that people by the almost unparalleled cruelties inflicted upon them at Damascus and Rhodes, the revival of ancient prejudices by Roman Catholics, and the prospect of the emancipation of the Holy Land from the tyranny of Mahomedan rule [which was secured in 1917], has attracted the attention of all the nations of Europe to the Jews, and called forth every variety of conjecture as to their future destiny. Thus the press has abounded with conflicting opinions, and a state of feeling, approaching to enthusiasm, has been produced. At the moment, then, it seemed to be the privilege, as well as the duty of those whose office it is to give a sanctifying direction to such topics, to make a declaration of their views, and a course of Lectures, by clergymen of the Church of England, was arranged, as the best means of eliciting an unprejudiced statement of the scriptural bearing of the question.39
Restoration and Resettlement
One of the most important features of the prophetic Scriptures is that they do not remain prophetic forever. There comes a day when the prophecies start to be fulfilled, and this is why there was such urgency among the Anglican clergy to disseminate the message of Israel’s restoration. By the early eighteen hundreds the race was on for dominion of the Holy Land, particularly between France and Britain, although all the major powers had interests in the region, and this was reflected in the establishment of consulates in Palestine. Russia had opened an embassy in Jaffa in 1812 to take care of forty Russian-Jewish immigrant families, but the main purpose of the consulates was to protect their country’s religious, social, and cultural interests, especially the holy sites. While the governments of Europe (and the United States, which opened her embassy in 1844) were occupied with developing their interests in the land, the region was rapidly attracting the attention of the wealthy and intrepid. In 1838, the American scholar and geographer, Edward Robinson (1794-1863), with the help of his missionary colleague and pupil, Eli Smith (1801-1857), inaugurated a new era in the geographical study of Jerusalem. Robinson is rightly considered to be the pioneer and father of biblical geography, and his now relatively scarce four-volume, Biblical Researches in Palestine, Mount Sinai and Arabia Petraea40 (1841), is a source of considerable interest for students of the Bible. Writing in 1867, the Swiss geographer, Titus Tobler, Robinson’s chief rival, acknowledged that the works of Robinson and Smith alone “surpass the total of all previous contributions to Palestinian geography from the time of Eusebius and Jerome to the early nineteenth century.”41
In 1839, a Church of Scotland “Mission of Enquiry to the Jews” was dispatched to the Holy Land, and in the winter of the same year, a French photographer, Fredéric Goupil-Fesquet, was the first to take pictures of Jerusalem. By the early 1840s, steamship companies established transatlantic links with the Holy Land, calling at Jaffa, Beirut, and other ports, and carrying pilgrims, photographers, archaeologists, botanists, and sightseers to the biblical sites. At the same time, the first medical clinic was opened in order to free the Jews from their dependence on the medical services offered by Christian missionary organisations. In 1848, the first modern bank was opened in Jerusalem by the Valero family (Sephardic Jews), who became agents for foreign royalty visiting the land, and in the absence of a Turkish postal system, the Austrians opened the first post office. In 1860, at the height of Britain’s pre-millennial ‘awakening,’ Jerusalem underwent considerable development as new suburbs began to spring up. Vineyards and olive groves were established, the water supply was improved, the first modern bakery was opened, a carriage route to Jaffa was completed, and a school of agriculture was founded, which trained thousands of immigrant Jews. By the 1880s, Jerusalem was beginning to develop like a western city, with road links to Nablus to the north and Jericho to the east. In 1892, the railway between Jerusalem and Jaffa (a French enterprise) was completed with surplus stock from the bankrupt Panama Canal project, and in 1898, the first bicycle appeared on the Jaffa road.42
Influenced by the work of Edward Robinson, the British Palestine Exploration Fund (PEF) was founded in 1865 under the patronage of Queen Victoria, the Supreme Head of the Church of England, and with the financial support of Miss Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts (1814-1906), England’s richest heiress, who was regarded by King Edward VII as the most remarkable woman in the kingdom after his mother, the Queen. A close friend of Charles Dickens, who dedicated his novel Martin Chuzzlewit to her, Burdett-Coutts was a notable benefactor of the Church of England and the first woman to receive the freedom of the City of London. In 1864 she helped finance the Ordnance Survey of Jerusalem with a donation of £500, a significant amount of money. This level of connectedness within the higher echelons of English society serves to underline Britain’s immense interest in, and commitment to, the redevelopment of Palestine, in the Victorian period.
The aim of the Palestine Exploration Fund was to provide “for the accurate and systematic investigation of the archaeology, the topography, the geology and physical geography, natural history, the manners and customs of the Holy Land, for biblical illustration.”43 The archives of the PEF “are of outstanding importance” 44 and provide invaluable support in countering today’s Palestinian case for the Land, a subject which my associate, Dr. Paul Wilkinson, has been researching. In 1870, the American Palestine Exploration Fund was established, and in 1869 the Methodist, Thomas Cook, conducted the first ever tour of the Holy Land, reporting proudly that his fifty customers had been able to see for themselves that the Bible was true! In Cook’s 1924 travel guide, Jerusalem is described as “the world’s most sacred city.”45 Interest in the Holy Land mushroomed, and John Murray, in his Handbook for Travellers in Syria and Palestine (1858), stated that “the Bible is the best Handbook for Palestine,”46 while the Karl Baedeker publishing house, the doyen of guide books, declared, “Palestine is the best guide book to the Bible.”47 In a sermon preached in York, on September 23rd 1838, entitled The Effects of Zion’s Blessedness on the World, Edward Bickersteth joyfully proclaimed,
How remarkable... is the present state of things in Judea...! The present Governor of that land, though pursuing a hard and oppressive system of government, has favoured the return of the Jews, and has removed several of their burdens, and their synagogues are rebuilding.... Access from every quarter to those lands is facilitating, and steam navigation brings England and Judea within three weeks from each other.48
BIBLE PROPHECY LECTURES
As the Victorian era progressed, the attention of the world became more and more focussed on the Land that God had repeatedly promised in His Word would, one day, be re-established. For nearly eighteen centuries the country had lain desolate, and even the city of Jerusalem, “despite its centrality in biblical history, was little known... until the dawning of the nineteenth century.”49 It is to God’s infinite praise and glory that as the Jewish homeland slowly re-emerged into the light, under the watchful eye of the world powers, ministers in the Church of England began to marry events in the Holy Land to the biblical promises of restoration, bringing them to the public’s attention. As Edward Bickersteth expressed in the preface to his book of sermons, The Restoration of the Jews to their Own Land (1841), “the begun restoration of Israel may in a short time be a fact instead of a prophecy.”50
According to Mourant Brook (1802-1856), curate of Christ Church, Clifton, in Bristol, there were about seven hundred pre-millennialists in the Church of England in 1845.51 Many of these men were involved in public prophecy conferences and lecture series, and these became an important means of disseminating the truth of Israel’s restoration across the country. The pre-millennialists in the Church of England were largely historicist; those wishing to learn about the role of the futurist pre- millennialists are directed to Dr. Paul Wilkinson’s excellent work, Understanding Christian Zionism (2013).52 As we will see later, many of those at the forefront of Anglican pre-millennialism in the mid nineteenth century were involved in the public Bloomsbury Lent Lectures, which were held in London at St. George’s Church, Bloomsbury, from 1843-1858.
St Bride’s, Liverpool
A course of twelve lectures was delivered in 1841 at St. Bride’s Church, Liverpool, under the superintendence of the minister, Rev. James Haldane Stewart (1778-1854), and published under the title, The Destiny of the Jews.53 In his introductory lecture, Haldane Stewart spoke assertively of God “in his overruling providence... drawing the attention of the more enlightened class among the nations to the Jews....”54 Haldane Stewart, who was chaplain to the Marquis of Bute and the Marquis of Breadalbane, was well qualified to make such a statement, and this was most certainly the case throughout the nation. The year 1841 appears to have been pivotal in the development of Bible prophecy lectures, and those held at St. Bride’s, Liverpool, would certainly have given much impetus to the movement, especially as many of the clergymen listed below, who spoke on that occasion, including Haldane Stewart, also addressed other prophecy venues:
- Thomas Tattershall (1796-1846): Doctor of divinity and Minister at St. Augustine’s, Everton.
- Henry Raikes (1782-1854): Chancellor of the Diocese of Chester and son of the Governor of the Bank of England.
- Robert Pedder Buddicom (1770-1846): Minister of St. George’s, Everton; Fellow of Queen’s College, Cambridge; Principal of the Clerical College of St. Bees, and an active abolitionist.
- Fielding Ould (1811-1869): Vicar of Christ Church, Liverpool; Rector of Tatton Hall, Cheshire, and a campaigner against Unitarianism.
- John Ellison Bates (1809-1856): Curate of St Bride’s, Liverpool, and Vicar of Christ Church, Crosby.
- Thomas Shuttleworth Grimshawe (1778-1850): Rector of Biddenham in Bedfordshire, and author of the eight-volume Life and Works of William Cowper (1836).
- William Fremantle (previously cited).
- Alexander Robert Charles Dallas (1791-1869): Rector of Wonston, Hampshire; founder of the Irish Church Missions to Roman Catholics; present at the Battle of Waterloo as a Supplies Officer in the Duke of Wellington’s army; first cousin of George M. Dallas, the 11th Vice President of the United States, who gave his name to the city of Dallas, Texas; nephew of U.S. Treasury Secretary Alexander James Dallas who served under President James Madison.
- Hugh Boyd McNeile (1795-1879): Perpetual Curate at St. Jude’s and St. Paul’s, Princes Park, Liverpool; Honorary Canon of Chester Cathedral; later Dean of Ripon, and chairman of the Albury Park Prophecy Conferences which began in November 1826.55 He was immensely active in the life of the Church and this is reflected in his membership of the Protestant Association, the London Society for the Promotion of the Gospel Amongst the Jews, The Irish Society, the Church Missionary Society, and the Church Association. Eugene Stock, the historian of the Church Missionary Society, has described McNeile as “unquestionably the greatest Evangelical preacher and speaker in the Church of England” during the nineteenth century.56
Concluding the 1841 lecture series in Liverpool, which was then “the second town”57 in the British Empire in terms of population and commercial activity, Eton-educated James Haldane Stewart thanked God for the “harmonious testimony of several of the Lord’s servants,” which, he proclaimed, “may therefore be considered as a message from God to all its [Liverpool’s] inhabitants, if not to the whole nation.”58 He viewed Great Britain as “the chief of the nations” spoken of by the prophet Jeremiah, which God had destined to proclaim, “O Lord, save thy people, the remnant of Israel.”59 These were heady days indeed, when the attention of the nation at the highest level was turned towards Palestine, and those, like Haldane Stewart, with an understanding of God’s prophetic Word, recognised that Britain had a responsibility to declare in its isles that “He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock” (Jeremiah 31:10).60 Boldly asserting that the British nation had been called to lead the world “in shewing kindness to the Jews,”61 Haldane Stewart, of whom it was said “that having loved the cause of Israel, he loved it unto the end,”62 appealed to the Supreme Head of the Established Church to further the premillennial cause:
And here I cannot but offer up praises and thanksgiving to Almighty God, for having inclined the hearts of our rulers; to regard the remnant of Judah with so much favour. It is only since our Gracious Queen [Victoria] came to the throne, that for the first time a British consul has been appointed to the Holy Land, and appointed with this express commission, to be the protector of the Jews.... It may not be known to all who are present, that the kindness thus shewn by her Gracious Majesty... to the Lord’s ancient people, is an hereditary kindness; for her august father [Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn] was patron to the Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews, at a time when their conversion was looked upon with very different eyes. I perfectly recollect his Royal Highness being present at the first opening of the Jews’ Chapel in London, about 25 years since, when in allusion to his Royal Highness’ profession, the preacher took his text from the history of the good centurion, “He loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.” May this text be still more applicable to his royal daughter: may the remnant of Judah be able to say, “The queen of England loves our nation, and, like ‘a nursing mother’ (Isaiah 49:23), uses her extensive influence and regal authority to make known to us our true Messiah, and to carry us back in peace to our wished- for land.”63
A Period of Great Pre-Millennial Activity
As other cities hosted series of prophecy lectures, including Glasgow and London, William Fremantle expressed his hope that the precedents set, “might be followed by many other towns in England, especially in those where an interest in Israel has already been manifested.” He suggested that,
We might mention Bath, Bristol, Birmingham, Brighton, Cambridge, Oxford, Derby, Hereford, Hull, Ipswich, Manchester, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Plymouth, Sheffield, etc., etc. Lectures in these places, by clergymen who have studied the subject, would bring before the public a mass of scriptural truth, and valuable research, which would be eminently calculated to produce sobriety of judgment concerning those great events which are coming upon the earth, and prepare both Jew and Gentile for the advent of the Messiah.64
Prophecy lecture series were also convened by individual ministers, including Hugh Boyd McNeile, who had chaired the landmark Albury Park Conferences at Henry Drummond’s home in Surrey from 1826 to 1830. McNeile delivered twelve lectures in London in 1827 entitled “Popular lectures on the Prophecies relative to the Jewish Nation,” which were published under the title, Prospects of the Jews,65 in 1830. One little known prophecy organization, which played an important role in the development of a lecture series in Scotland, was The Edinburgh Association for Promoting the Study of Prophecy, which was founded in 1841 under the chairmanship of William Bonar of Warriston, Edinburgh.66 The inaugural meeting was addressed on May 1st 1841, by Rev. Joshua William Brooks (1790-1882), the vicar of Clareborough, Retford; the following year the lectures were delivered by Rev. Thomas Shuttleworth Grimshawe. Other prophecy organisations that were established at this time were The Prophetical Alliance (1859-64) under the leadership of William Pennefather, and the Prophecy Investigation Society (1842), not to be confused with The Society for the Investigation of Prophecy, which was founded in 1826 and which led to the inauguration of the Albury Park Prophecy Conferences later that year.
This was a period of great activity in the Victorian Church, with many books being published on the restoration of the Jews. A number of influential prophecy journals were also launched, of which The Quarterly Journal of Prophecy (1849-1873), edited by leading pre-millennialist Horatius Bonar (1808- 1889) of the Free Church of Scotland, was the most influential.67 Other publications which promoted historicist pre-millennialism during this period include Edward Irving’s Morning Watch (1829-33), Edward Hoare’s The Christian Herald (1830-35), The Investigator, or Monthly Expositor and Register on Prophecy (1831-36), The Churchman’s Monthly Review (1841-47), and the Christian Lady’s Magazine (1834-49), which was edited by Charlotte Tonna,68 a formidable pre-millennial champion.
There were those, of course, who opposed the pre-millennial message, among the more notable being the influential liberal Archbishop of Dublin, Richard Whately (1787-1863), a prolific writer who occasionally wrote under the quaint pseudonym, ‘a country pastor.’ In his widely circulated book, A View of the Scripture Revelations Concerning a Future State (1829), which comprises twelve lectures which he “laid before his parishioners,”69 Whately includes a discourse on the “Expected Restoration of the Jews; and the Millennium,” in which he embarks on a rather predictable refutation of Evangelical pre-millennialism. Dismissing the case for a literal interpretation of prophecy, which he asserts “appears to me founded on a misunderstanding of Scripture, and consequently to be erroneous throughout...,”70 Whately predictably concluded “that all the promises and predictions in Scripture relative to the future glories of the Jews and of Jerusalem, are to be understood of the Christian Church, of which the Jewish Church was a figure.”71 Arguably the “ablest book against the millenarian doctrine”72 to be produced at this time was David Brown’s widely read, Second Coming: Will it be Premillennial? (1846). It is interesting to note that Brown (1803-1897), who was professor and Principal of the Free Church College, Aberdeen, and the ‘Brown’ of the famous Jamieson- Faussett-Brown Bible commentary (1871), was one of the founders of The Evangelical Alliance along with Edward Bickersteth. It is also noteworthy that from 1830-1832, he was the assistant minister to the London-based pre-millennial Presbyterian minister Edward Irving (1792-1834), and became the subject of John Nelson Darby’s polemical pen.73
THE BLOOMSBURY LECTURES
The annual Bloomsbury Lent Lectures (1843-1858), many of which I am pleased to say have been republished, fill a huge gap in the study of pre-millennialism. Bloomsbury, which in many ways was the natural successor to the Albury Park Conferences, came into being through the initiative of Henry Montagu Villiers (1813-1861), minister of St. George’s Church, Bloomsbury, London. On May 24th 1842 he launched the Prophecy Investigation Society (PIS), which played a formative role in the establishment of the Advent Testimony Movement. The unpublished minutes of the committee meeting of the PIS, which was held on November 17th 1842, record that it had been decided that a course of annual public prophecy lectures would be held during Lent, beginning in 1843, at St. George’s Church.74 Among those who joined the ranks of the Prophecy Investigation Society were Edward Bickersteth, who addressed the first meeting in May, James Haldane Stewart, Alexander McCaul, Joshua W. Brooks, T.R. Birks, William “Millennial” Marsh, Hugh McNeile, J.C. Ryle, Sir Robert Anderson, E.W. Bullinger, Samuel Schor, David Baron, John Wilkinson, Henry Grattan Guiness, C.T. Studd, W.E. Vine, and a host of other pre-millennial luminaries.
Between 1843 and 1858, 192 public prophecy lectures were delivered at St George’s by some of the ablest nineteenth-century Evangelical scholars, and in total, well over 6,000 pages of print were published. The lecture series were entitled:
“The Second Coming, the Judgment, and the Kingdom of Christ” (1843) “The Second Coming of Christ Practically Considered” (1844)
“The Hope of the Apostolic; or the Duties and Privileges of Christians in Connexion with the Second Advent, as Unfolded in the First Epistle of St. Paul to the Thessalonians” (1845)
“Israel’s Sins and Israel’s Hopes” (1846) “Good Things to Come” (1847)
“Lift up Your Heads; Glimpses of Messiah’s Glory” (1848) “The Priest Upon His Throne” (1849)
“God’s Dealings with Israel” (1850)
“Popish Darkness and Millennial Light” (1851) “The Millennial Kingdom” (1852)
“The Parables Prophetically Explained” (1853) “Present Times and Future Prospects” (1854) “The Gifts of the Kingdom” (1855)
“The Light of Prophecy” (1856)
“The Titles of Christ Viewed Prophetically” (1857) “The Signs of the Times” (1858)
Space prevents an examination of the individual lectures, but it is fitting that those who laboured so tirelessly in the cause of pre-millennial truth should be honoured. Those mentioned below understood the times in which they lived, and proclaimed the truth of Israel’s restoration to their generation with a dynamism that stirs the heart.75
- The Honourable Henry Montagu Villiers (1813-1861): Raised by Royal Warrant to the rank of an earl’s son, he was the minister of St. George’s, Bloomsbury, and appointed Bishop of Carlisle by Lord Palmerston, later serving as Bishop of Durham and Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral.
- Alexander McCaul (1799-1863): An Irish Hebraist and Prebendary at St. Paul’s Cathedral, and a long serving missionary with the LSPCJ.
- William Wollaston Pym (1792-1852): Rector of Willian, Hertfordshire, who wrote Thoughts on Millenarianism (1829).
- Charles J. Goodhart (1804-1892): Honorary Secretary of the LSPCJ with which he was involved for 53 years.
- Joshua William Brooks (1790-1882): Prebendary of Lincoln Cathedral, and the compiler of A Dictionary of Writers on the Prophecies (1835).
- Thomas Hill: Vicar of Chesterfield and Prebendary of Lichfield Cathedral.
- William Marsh (1775-1864): Rector of St. Thomas, Birmingham, where he spoke so frequently on prophecy that he earned the nickname, “Millennial Marsh.”
- John Charles Ryle (1816-1900): Rector of Helmingham, Suffolk, and later Dean of Salisbury and Bishop of Liverpool. Educated at Eton, he wished to become a Member of Parliament but lacked the financial means.76
- Robert Bickersteth (1816-1884): Nephew of Edward Bickersteth senior and Bishop of Ripon.
Most of the clergy listed below, who also lectured at Bloomsbury and elsewhere, are virtually unknown to our generation, but if they were counted worthy to minister alongside their better-known contemporaries, they certainly deserve to be recorded here:
Francis Goode, Henry Girdlestone, W. Dalton, W. Tilson Marsh, Canon Edward Hoare, E. Auriol, M. Brock, B. Philpot, T. Woodroofe, W. Niven, E. Lillington, W.G. Barker, R.W. Dibdin, G. Fisk, W. Cadman, W. Wilson, Hon. L. Noel, B. Stewart, J.C. Reichardt, W. Harrison, A. Wigram, T. Nolan, T. Woodroofe, William Niven, J.W. Reeve, W. Tate, J. Baylee, J. Cohen, and Emilius Bayley.
It is important to note that the majority of these men were also involved in some capacity with the LSPCJ. Theirs was a ministry of considerable unity, a point strongly emphasized by Edward Bickersteth in the preface to the inaugural 1843 Bloomsbury lectures. He explained that despite certain differences of opinion, there was “a remarkable general agreement without previous knowledge of what had been said or would be said by each other,” namely that... all expect a Millennium yet to come; they all look for the personal coming of the Lord before that Millennium; they all believe the political restoration of Israel to their own land. They look for the first resurrection, and glory of the saints at the coming of our Lord before the Millennium.77
Edward Bickersteth (1786-1850) was arguably the most influential voice at Bloomsbury. Described as “a pious and excellent clergyman, and useful writer,”78 he became the leader of the Anglican Evangelicals following the death in 1836, of fellow restorationist Charles Simeon (1759-1836). He served as Secretary of the Church Missionary Society from 1824-1830 and was Rector of Watton, in Hertfordshire. A skilled opponent of Roman Catholicism, Bickersteth was one of the founders of the illustrious Parker Society,79 and was instrumental in the foundation of the Evangelical Alliance. He was also an exceptional hymn-writer, whose Christian Psalmody (1833) “long remained the most popular hymn book among Evangelicals.”80 A long-time friend of the pre-millennial philanthropist, Lord Shaftesbury, Bickersteth campaigned with him on behalf of children working in factories. Described as that “paradigm of Orthodox Evangelical pre-millennialism,”81 Bickersteth died in 1850 when the British pre-millennial movement was at its peak. The Churchman’s Monthly Penny Magazine (1849-1850) paid warm tribute to him, describing him as one “who toiled faithfully all day in his Master’s vineyard” and “whose name will long be dear to the Church of Christ.”82
It is fitting at this point to record the invaluable contribution made to prophetic studies by Bickersteth’s son, Edward Henry Bickersteth (1825-1906). The second in a long line of Bickersteths, Edward Henry, who became Bishop of Exeter, produced a scholarly pre-millennial Bible commentary entitled, A Practical and Explanatory Commentary on the New Testament (1864),83 in which he set forth the case for Jewish restoration in the most cogent and readable of terms. Edward Bickersteth senior can be rightly proud of his son, who was known affectionately as the ‘poet bishop.’84
Another little known restorationist of the period is Rev. Capel Molyneux (1804-1877), the minister of Lock Chapel in Paddington, London. During Lent in 1852, he delivered a series of twelve public lectures at the Chapel, which were published in 1853 under the title Israel’s Future. Molyneux, who Charles Spurgeon quotes in his outstanding devotional commentary on the Psalms, The Treasury of David,85 challenged those who denied the literal restoration of Israel in no uncertain terms:
Take heed how you deny this – take heed for the sake of your own salvation, as well as of the glory of God! You deny that Israel shall literally have the land, though God says it! The infidel denies that you shall literally inherit heaven, though God says it! Where, or what is the difference? Adhere to your own principle of interpretation, which just makes void the word of God; and on what ground, or by what imaginable process, do you destroy the validity of his [God’s], or escape its fatal application to, your own prospects?86
A similar clarion call was sounded by Rev. Jacob Samuel, senior missionary of the Indian Association for Promoting the Welfare of the Jews in India, Persia and Arabia. In his stirring work, An Appeal on Behalf of the Jews Scattered in India, Persia, and Arabia (1840), which was addressed “To Christians of all Denominations, but especially to His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury [William Howley], the Right Reverend and Reverend the Bishops and Ministers and to the Laity of the Church of England,” Samuel threw down the following challenge:
Thanks be to the Lord, since the glorious days of the Reformation shone upon these lands, persecution hath stayed her ruthless warfare; the dreary tale of woe has ceased, which chronicles the history of Judah in Britain in barbarous times: and no longer does the jurisprudence of England enact, as in the laws of the Confessor Edward – “The Jew and all he possesses belongs to the king.” But in ceasing to be a daughter of that great whore [the Roman Catholic Church], which sits upon the surface of many waters, the Church of England was called to a high and sacred place, and the realm of England became the great seat of the Christian Church. If to one more than another the poor and despised people of the Jews had a right to look for the vindication of the promises and national hopes which are theirs, and which have sustained them through their dismal captivity amidst the nations of near 2,000 years, it was the Christian Church of this land… the most evangelical and scriptural in the whole world, and the great beacon among the nations 87
In the introduction to his book, The Remnant Found or the Place of Israel’s Hiding Discovered, Being a Summary of Proofs (1841), Samuel spoke of the current widespread interest in the restoration of the Jews:
The subject of the return of the Jewish people to the favour of the God of their fathers is one of deep and surpassing interest and moment. The eye of faith, looking into the depth of the divine records, perceives this peculiar people, under the cloud of frowning Providence, prepared in the fullness of time to be led forward and planted in the Lord their Righteousness, for a name and praise in every land (Isaiah lxii.7). It beholds them, not as subjects of the divine hatred, but the objects of God’s compassionate love (Isaiah xlix.15,16). It distinctly perceives that a regard for, and scriptural interest in this people, are co-ordinate with the progress of evangelical truth; that neglect of them is an evidence of a sickly… Christianity.88
Crossing the denominational divide, we next encounter the remarkable John Wilkinson (1824-1907), a leading missionary to the Jews who laboured tirelessly for the British Society for the Propagation of the Gospel Among the Jews, before establishing the Mildmay Mission to the Jews in 1876. It is clear from reading Wilkinson’s diary entries that, when he commenced service with the British Society in 1854, the work consisted “almost exclusively of visiting Jews in their homes and shops, and in speaking to them in the streets,”89 but within a very short space of time, he was addressing meetings throughout the country “attempting to interest Christians of all denominations in the cause of Israel’s spiritual welfare.”90 Public meetings and lectures on the subject of the conversion and restoration of the Jews were held throughout England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and on the Isle of Man and the Isle of Wight. John Wilkinson travelled eight months out of twelve, covering an average of 10,000 miles each year, and speaking in public sixteen to twenty hours a week, and as much again in private.91 Given the time in which he lived and ministered, these are staggering statistics by anyone’s estimation. Among the almost innumerable list of towns and cities he visited were Newark, Sheffield, Leeds, Halifax, Derby, Nottingham, Mansfield, Diss, Grimsby, Manchester, Bristol, London, Ipswich, Maningtree, Long Melford, Clare, Haverhill, Colchester, Chelmsford, Bath, Islington, Stoke Newington, Brighton, Exeter, Leicester, Wolverhampton, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Dundee, Glasgow, Dublin, Belfast, Newcastle, Kensington, Cardiff, Cowbridge, Bridgend, Cardigan, Newport, Haverfordwest, Pembroke, Pembroke Dock, Milford, Narberth, Carmarthen, Swansea, Mumbles, Merthyr Tydfil, Pontypool, Westmorland, Cornwall, Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Hartlepool, and Edinburgh.92
Countless thousands were reached through John Wilkinson’s public addresses, including 1,500 to 2,000 who gathered in Charles Spurgeon’s Metropolitan Tabernacle in London on July 6th 1863 to hear him speak on “The case for the Jew: is it hopeless or hopeful?” Spurgeon chaired the meeting and said publically of Wilkinson, that “If any man was ever sent by God to the Jews, surely our friend has been so sent, and we wish him God speed.”93 In a printed circular issued on June 1st 1876, addressed to his “beloved Christian Friends of all Evangelical Denominations throughout the United Kingdom,” Wilkinson stressed that “recent events in Turkey seemed to indicate, apart from the study of unfulfilled prophecy, that the close of the ‘times of the Gentiles’ and the restoration of Israel are events near at hand.”94
Although he hailed from a Wesleyan Methodist background, John Wilkinson was never sectarian, and enjoyed personal friendships not only with Nonconformists but also with many clergymen of the Church of England. He was received kindly by a number of Evangelical denominations,95 as is evidenced by the personal letters and tributes which poured into the Wilkinson home after his death. Condolences were received from such notables as Lord Overtoun, Lord Kinnaird, Sir Andrew Wingate (uncle of Major General Orde Charles Wingate, an ardent supporter of the Jewish cause in Palestine), Sir Thomas Barlow, Baron Nicolay of St. Petersburg, Countess Elisabeth Von Groeben, Countess Lydia Von Groeben, Countess Von Hagen, and a number of ministers, including the familiar names of Rev Canon Fausset, Rev. Prebendary H.W. Webb-Peploe, and Rev. F.B. Meyer,96 the founder of the Advent Testimony Movement.
UNCHANGING GOD – THE JEWS IN THE HYMNODY OF THE CHURCH
Despite the calamitous state of the Church in the previous century, God had graciously preserved a remnant of ministers with integrity who, like the men of Issachar, discerned the times; they left an invaluable legacy from which future generations have benefitted. Those familiar with the work of Charles Wesley (1707-1788) will be aware that he composed three hymns on the theme of the Jews: “Messiah, Full of Grace;” “Father of Faithful Abraham;” and most notably, the stirring six-verse hymn, Almighty God of Love, which was published in 1762.97 There has been much discussion in pre- millennial circles as to whether “Almighty God of Love” speaks figuratively or literally of the restoration of the Jews to their land. Verse 4 seems to indicate a literal restoration, which is certainly the view of my former principal, Dr. Herbert McGonigle, a world authority on the Wesley brothers. In The Wesley Fellowship Quarterly (Spring 2008), McGonigle, Principal Emeritus of the Nazarene Theological College, Manchester, and Director Emeritus of the Manchester Wesley Research Centre, states that “Almighty God of Love,” “which can be said to reflect the views of both John and Charles Wesley, is well worth studying relative to how the Wesleys read scripture in terms of Israel’s future in God’s plans.” The hymn, which I have reproduced in full, can be sung to the tune of “Crown Him with Many Crowns.” It is based on Isaiah 66:19 and Romans 11:26, and as McGonigle points out, “its significance lies in the way Charles Wesley looks forward to the restoration of Israel, and how from His re-gathered people, the gospel will spread to all the nations.”98
1. Almighty God of Love, Set up the attracting sign,
And summon whom thou dost approve
For messengers divine:
From favour’d Abraham’s seed
The new apostles choose,
In isles and continents to spread
The dead-reviving news.
2. Them, snatch’d out of the flame,
Through every nation send,
The true Messiah to proclaim,
The Universal Friend;
That all the God unknown
May learn of Jews to adore,
And see thy glory in thy Son,
Till time shall be no more.
3. O that the chosen band
Might now their brethren bring,
And gather’d out of every land,
Present to Sion’s King!
Of all the ancient race,
Not one be left behind;
But each, impell’d by secret grace,
His way to Canaan find.
4. We know it must be done,
For God hath spoke the word;
All Israel shall the Saviour own,
To their first state restored.
Rebuilt by his command,
Jerusalem shall rise;
Her temple on Moriah stand
Again, and touch the skies.
5. Send then thy servants forth,
To call the Hebrews home;
From East, and West, and South, and North,
Let all the wanderers come:
Where’er in lands unknown
The fugitives remain,
Bid every creature help them on,
The Holy Mount to gain.
6. An offering to their Lord,
There let them all be seen,
Sprinkled with water and with blood:
In soul and body clean;
With Israel’s myriads seal’d,
Let all the nations meet,
And show the mystery fulfill’d,
The family complete.99
Despite the huge interest in the future of the Jews, few hymns relating to this subject were written in the nineteenth century. In the Baptist hymnbook, Psalms and Hymns (1864), for example, we discover four solitary hymns in the section entitled The Jews, one of which, “Children of Zion, Know your King, your own Messiah Hail” (1822),100 is especially worthy of note: it was composed by James Montgomery (1771-1854), “one of the greatest of English hymnologists” who, it has been said, “takes his place next to Watts and Wesley.”101 William Thomas Gidney (1853-1909), secretary of the LSPCJ, complained that the hymns at the disposal of the Jewish missionary cause were “meagre and doggerel indeed,”102 with the exception of Lyte’s “Oh that the Lord’s Salvation” (1834), Shrubsole’s “Arm of the Lord, Awake, Awake” (1795), Cotterill’s “Great God of Abraham, Hear our Prayer” (1819), and above all, “the most beautiful and inspiring missionary hymn ever written, ‘Unchanging God, Hear from Eternal Heav’n,’”103 which takes its place alongside William Bright’s Thou the Christ For Ever One in the slender two-hymn section entitled “Missions to the Jews” in the Anglican Hymns Ancient and Modern (1861).104 “Unchanging God,” which can be sung to the tune, “Abide with Me,” was composed by Rev. Samuel John Stone (1839-1900), Rector of All Hallows, London Wall, in London, a man who has been described as “a lover of the Jews:”105
1. Unchanging God, hear from eternal heav’n;
We plead Thy gifts of grace, for ever given,
Thy call, without repentance, calling still.
The sure election of Thy sovereign will.
2. Out of our faith in Thee, who canst not lie,
Out of our heart's desire, goes up our cry,
From hope's sweet vision of the thing to be,
From love to those who still are loved by Thee.
3. Bring Thy beloved back, Thine Israel,
Thine own elect who from Thy favour fell,
But not from Thine election! - O forgive,
Speak but the word, and lo! the dead shall live.
4. Father of mercies! these the long-astray,
These in soul-blindness now the far-away,
These are not aliens, but Thy sons of yore,
Oh, by Thy Fatherhood, restore, restore!
5. Breathe on Thy Church, that it may greet the day,
Stir up her will to toil, and teach, and pray,
Till Zionward again salvation come,
And all her outcast children are at home.
6. Triune JEHOVAH, Thine the grace and power,
Thine all the work, its past, its future hour,
O Thou, Who failest not, Thy gifts fulfil,
And crown the calling of Thy changeless will.106
THE JEWISH QUESTION
As we have already observed, belief in Israel’s restoration reached its historical zenith in the mid- nineteenth century when growing instability in the Balkans and the Middle East added considerable urgency to the pre-millennial message. In the 1870s, political unrest between Russia and Turkey unnerved Jewish communities, and threatened the existence of the three million Russian Jews who “groaned in bondage” in what had been to them “a new Egypt.”107 When Czar Alexander III succeeded his father in 1881, and reinforced restrictions on Russian Jewry, the Crusader cry “Death to the Jews” was sounded, and “in scores of towns and villages the Jewish quarters were given over to murder, outrage, and pillage” in what amounted to an attempt at extermination.108 These events signalled a major turning point in European Jewish history, which resulted in the emigration of two million Jews from Russia between 1881 and 1914.109 Although the majority of Russian Jews headed for the United States, a sizeable number found refuge in Britain, increasing the Jewish population from 65,000 in 1880 to 300,000 by the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.110
This mass migration to England had a major impact on the established Jewish community, which was largely composed of middle-class, anglicised Sephardi Jews, who regarded themselves as Englishmen. Those swelling the Jewish ranks, on the other hand, were largely poor, orthodox, Yiddish-speaking Jews, the majority of whom were tailors, shoe-makers, carpenters, cigar-makers, and peddlers. The English working classes reacted negatively to the huge influx of these ‘aliens,’ especially at a time of economic depression, when immigrant Jews were willing to work for lower wages. Slum conditions rapidly worsened, and fears arose that “the English or ‘Christian’ character of whole neighbourhoods would be altered, and immigrants would bring crime and disease.”111 Protests eventually led to the founding of a Royal Commission on Aliens in 1903, which investigated grievances brought against the Jews. Christian organisations were active in trying to ameliorate their suffering, and the plight of the Jews was the subject of Christian publications such as The Quiver and Sunday at Home. Indeed, as Jewish professor of English, Montagu Modder, notes, “in general, it may be said that the British press was in sympathy with the Jewish communities during the years of European anti-Semite propaganda and Jewish persecution.”112 The established Jewish community was naturally at the forefront of moves to alleviate Jewish suffering at home and abroad, and men of vision like Moses Montefiore, the “most famous Anglo-Jew of the 19th century,”113 became convinced that “the solution of the Jewish question in the East could be accompanied only by establishing Jewish agricultural colonies in Palestine.”114 He campaigned tirelessly to this end, and it is fitting that the first Zionist organization was known as The Montefiore Society.115 This was long before Theodore Herzl (1860-1904) published his landmark manifesto, The Jewish State (1896), which was “accepted by the Zionists as the basis for the Zionist Movement.”116 However, “the response of English Jewry to the call of the Zionists was not as enthusiastic and hearty as the leaders had reason to expect,” as Modder explains:
They did not feel attracted to Zion; they were satisfied with the prospect of remaining as citizens of a New Jerusalem on the banks of the Thames or the Hudson. However, the Zionist movement had this effect on Jewish communities everywhere; it proved a reaction against the process of assimilation, and, by the return of some fraction of the people to Palestine, served to make communities conscious of that “self-respect which every Jew loses in some degree when he strives to become what he is not.”117
Sunrise over Jerusalem
As we anticipate the enormous impact which World War I was destined to have upon the future of world Jewry, let us consider this scene. On Sunday 9th December 1917, as “the sun rose over Jerusalem from behind the Mount of Olives, a new era was about to begin.”118 Jerusalem was liberated, and two days later, on Tuesday 11th, which providentially fell on the Jewish Feast of Hanukkah, the English General Edmund Allenby (1861-1936) officially entered the city. As we savour the prophetic moment, let us consider these further amazing facts, presented by international journalist Jill, Duchess of Hamilton:
It is not known who realized that the man about to declare the independence of Jerusalem was a direct descendant of Oliver Cromwell, but here is a certain irony that just 261 years after Cromwell had allowed the Jews back into England, his descendant, Edmund Henry Hynman Allenby, on behalf of the British nation, was doing the same for them in Palestine.119
It is of further interest to note, that “the location chosen by Allenby for the historic announcement was close to the entrance of the Jaffa Gate, beside the Tower of David and opposite Christ Church, the place which represents the beginnings of British Protestant interests in Palestine - another connection which would have pleased the Evangelicals.”120
Thirty years later, the entire world watched intently as the nation of Israel took its first faltering steps onto the international stage. One man who witnessed the rebirth of the nation was noted Bible scholar Henry Leopold Ellison (1903-1983), for nineteen years a missionary with the Hebrew Christian Alliance. In his book, The Mystery of Israel, which was published in 1966, he described the impact that this momentous event had on the Church:
The setting up of the State of Israel on 14th May, 1948, came as an earthquake shock to traditional Christian theology. That which generations had declared to be impossible had come to pass. Only those who had prepared to be derided as fanatics and obscurantists had held to such a hope, but even for them the reality had come in a way never envisaged. Many, of course, tried to bolster up traditional views by suggesting that the State would be only short-lived, or that it was only one of those happenings without importance for either history or theology.121
A Miracle of Biblical Proportions
Mainstream Christianity, for the most part, failed to register Israel’s rebirth on the Richter scale of God’s seismic end-times purposes, viewing the events of 1948 and beyond as a Zionist ‘plot’ against the so-called indigenous ‘Palestinian’ people. The refusal by Christians to acknowledge the fulfilment of the prophetic Scriptures to the letter in no way alters the fact that Israel’s existence as a nation among the nations is a reality without precedent in the annals of history. The Church’s blindness to Israel’s biblical, historical, political and spiritual relevance can be traced directly back to the writings of the early Church fathers, who resolutely believed that the Jews, through their rejection and crucifixion of Jesus, had forfeited forever-and-a-day all territorial rights to their ancient homeland. In consequence, the Old Testament land promises had been Christianised, with terrestrial Jerusalem morphing into a poetic metaphor.
As we look back on over many centuries of entrenched a-millennial belief and practice, and consider the current state of the Church, we discover that the fires of Replacement Theology continue to burn as fiercely as ever, fuelled by a growing anti-Israel alliance of Roman Catholics, Evangelicals, and Liberal Protestants. In tracing the historical development of this allegorical system, and its infamous impact on Christian attitudes towards the Jews, a-millennialism as the adopted model for interpreting the Bible has a lot to answer for. Replacement Theology motivated the early Crusaders in their massacre of the Jews, fashioned Roman Catholic anti-Semitism, fuelled the pogroms of Eastern Europe, fanned the flames of the Holocaust, and today foments international outrage against the modern State of Israel. This perfidious theory of replacement has blood on its hands, as Walter Riggans, one-time Director of the Church’s Ministry Among the Jews (CMJ), succinctly explains:
…when the Church has forgotten… the irrevocable call of God on Israel, then the most awful treatment of Jewish people has followed. What began as a theological supercessionism, that is, when the Church began to maintain that it worshipped and adored the one who was Israel’s God, developed into theological and moral contempt for the Jewish people…. This in turn led all too often to the actual de-personalization of the Jewish person, sometimes to the demonization of the Jewish people, and to horrendous persecution, humiliation, and murder.122
In the past one hundred years, the world has witnessed a miracle of biblical proportions in the prophesied return of the Jews from the four corners of the earth, the rebirth of the Jewish nation, and the return of Jerusalem to Jewish hands. Not one of God’s sworn promises has failed, and yet the Church rises in protest at the ‘upstart Jew’ and his Christian friends, who dare to contradict her traditions and her doctrines. How we need men like those who preached at Bloomsbury, to stand up and declare the truth of God’s prophetic Word, men with a passion for the Lord and an unfeigned love for His ancient covenant people, men like William Robert Fremantle, who spoke so inspiringly at Bloomsbury, as this extract from his 1843 address, The Glory of Israel after the Advent, illustrates:
Though a woman forget her sucking child, yet the Lord will not forsake Jerusalem whom he has graven on the palms of his hands, and whose walls are continually before him. Not one jot or tittle shall pass from the law; not one term or condition shall be wanting to the covenant, not one syllable shall fall to the ground of all that has been spoken concerning Israel: all shall come to pass. If judgments and chastisements are threatened, they shall be fulfilled. If patience and long-suffering, they shall be revealed. If salvation and glory, they shall be enjoyed. Oh, what a door of hope and encouragement does Israel’s history open to the believer! Let me stand upon my watch-tower and survey the scene as it passes in panoramic vision before the eye. Here I see the cloud rising the size of a man’s hand! Here I see the little one become a thousand, and the nations wondering at its mysterious growth. Anon, the tempest gathers, and little by little the bright objects are obscured, and a long period of darkness follows: again I look, and behold the beacon upon the mountain top bursts into a blaze, the whole landscape is illuminated, a flood of glory gilds the scene, and I am lost in wonder and adoration. Such is Israel’s history, telling out among the Heathen that the Lord is true to his threatenings and his promises, to his curses and his blessings. Has this no practical influence with Christians? O let them read their chequered experience, and retrace their steps from Egypt to Sinai, from the desert to Canaan, from Canaan to the varied trials and afflictions of this life, and then let them look forward and rest in the faithfulness of a covenant-making and covenant-keeping God and Saviour! He who hath begun a good work in us, will perform it until the day of Christ. Faithful is He who promised, who also will do it. He who leads Israel leads you. He who glorifies Israel glorifies you. For whom he justifies he glorifies!123 Amen and Amen!
I conclude with Bishop John Charles Ryle, a zealous campaigner for pre-millennial truth, and a beloved pastor. In 1867 he published Coming Events and Present Duties Being Miscellaneous Sermons on Prophetical Subjects, in which he framed eleven statements relating to the end times; these he termed the “chief articles of my prophetical creed.” As Ryle explained: “The older I grow, the more do I feel convinced of their truth, and the more satisfied am I that no other principles can explain the state of the Church and the world.” The following article relates to the restoration of the Jews:
Article 7: “I believe that the Jews shall ultimately be gathered again as a separate nation, restored to their own land, and converted to the faith of Christ, after going through great tribulation (Jer 30:10,11; 31:10; Rom 11:25,26; Dan 12:1; Zech 13:8,9).”124
For those in the Church who remain unconvinced that we are living witnesses to the fulfillment of God’s prophetic Word, I close with this impassioned pastoral appeal from Ryle, a true friend of the Jewish people:
I know not what your opinions may be about the fulfilment of the prophetical parts of Scripture…. But I ask you in all affection to examine your own views about prophecy. I entreat you to consider calmly whether your opinions about Christ’s second advent and kingdom are as sound and Scriptural as those of His first disciples…. I beseech you not to dismiss the subject which I now press upon your attention, as a matter of curious speculation, and one of no practical importance. Believe me, it affects the whole question between yourself and the unconverted Jew. I warn you that, unless you interpret the prophetical portion of the Old Testament in the simple literal meaning of its words, you will find it no easy matter to carry on an argument with an unconverted Jew.
You would probably tell the Jew that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah promised in the Old Testament Scriptures. To those Scriptures you would refer him for proof…. You would tell him that in Jesus of Nazareth those Scriptures were literally fulfilled…. But suppose the Jew asks you if you take all the prophecies of the Old Testament in their simple literal meaning. Suppose he asks you if you believe in a literal personal advent of Messiah to reign over the earth in glory, – a literal restoration of Judah and Israel to Palestine, – a literal re-building and restoration of Zion and Jerusalem. Suppose the unconverted Jew puts these questions to you, what answers are you prepared to make?
Will you dare to tell him that Old Testament prophecies of this kind are not to be taken in their plain literal sense? Will you dare to tell him that the words Zion, Jerusalem, Jacob, Judah, Ephraim, Israel, do not mean what they seem to mean, but mean the Church of Christ? Will you dare to tell him that the glorious kingdom and future blessedness of Zion, so often dwelt upon in prophecy, mean nothing more than the gradual Christianizing of the world by missionaries and Gospel preaching? Will you dare to tell him that you think it “carnal” to take such Scriptures literally, – “carnal” to expect a literal rebuilding of Jerusalem, – “carnal” to expect a literal coming of Messiah to reign, – “carnal” to look for a literal gathering and restoration of Israel? Oh, reader, if you are a man of this mind, take care what you are doing! I say again, take care.
Do you not see that you are putting a weapon in the hand of the unconverted Jew, which he will probably use with irresistible power? – Do you not see that you are cutting the ground from under your own feet, and supplying the Jew with a strong argument for not believing your own interpretation of Scripture? – Do you not see that the Jew will reply, that it is “carnal,” to tell him that Messiah has come literally to suffer, if you tell him that it is “carnal” to expect Messiah will come literally to reign? – Do you not see that the Jew will tell you, that it is far more “carnal” in you to believe that Messiah could come into the world as a despised, crucified Man of sorrows, than it is in him to believe that He will come into the world as a glorious King? Beyond doubt he will do so, and you will find no answer to give.
Reader, I commend these things to your serious attention. I entreat you to throw aside prejudice, and to view the subject I am dwelling upon with calm and dispassionate thought. I beseech you to take up anew the prophetical Scriptures, and to pray that you may not err in interpreting their meaning. Read them in the light of those two great pole-stars, the first and second advents of Jesus Christ. Bind up with the first advent the rejection of the Jews, the calling of the Gentiles, the preaching of the Gospel as a witness to the world.... Bind up with the second advent the restoration of the Jews... and the establishment of Christ’s kingdom upon earth. Do this, and you will see a meaning and fullness in prophecy which perhaps you have never discovered.125
Andrew D. Robinson Senior Pastor
Hazel Grove Ful Gospel Church Hazel Grove
Stockport SK2 6EY
Tel: 0161 456 8393
1 Mrs J.B. Webb, Naomi or The Last Days of Jerusalem (Edinburgh: W.P. Nimmo, Hay, & Mitchell, 1898), pp.1,8-9.
2 W.T. Gidney, The History of the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews, from 1809 to 1908 (London: London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews, 1908), p.501.
3 Eugene Stock, The History of the Church Missionary Society, Vol. I (London, 1899-1916), pp.283ff.
4 “Finch, Sir Henry,” Encyclopaedia Judaica, Vol 6 (Jerusalem: Keter Publishing House Ltd., 1971), p.1285.
5 Henry Finch, Explanation of the Song of Songs (London, 1615).
6 Henry Finch, The Worlds Great Restauration or Calling of the Jewes, and (with them) of all the Nations and Kingdomes of the Earth, to the Faith of Christ (London, 1621), p.6.
7 Thomas Fuller, A Pisgah-Sight of Palestine and the Confines thereof, with the Historie of the Old and New Testament acted Thereon (London, 1650), p.194.
8 Fuller, p.194.
9 Richard Baxter, Reliquiæ Baxterianæ: Or, Mr. Richard Baxter’s Narrative of the Most Memorable Passages of his Life and Times - faithfully published from his own Original Manuscript by Matthew Sylvester, part 3 (London: 1696), p.72.
10 David Davies, Vavasor Powell: The Baptist Evangelist of Wales in the Seventeenth Century (London: Alexander and Shepheard, 1896), pp.155,157.
11 Davies, p.156.
12 Vavasor Powell, A New and Useful Concordance to the Holy Bible (London, 1671).
13 E. Bagshawe & J. Harcastle, “An Advertisement to the Reader,” in Powell, A New and Useful Concordance....
14 To make it easier to read, I have simplified Powell’s rather cumbersome reference system.
15 Vavasor Powell, “A Collection of the Prophesies which concern the Calling of the Jews, and the glory that shall be in the latter days,” A New and Useful Concordance....
16 David Daniell, The Bible in English (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003), pp.601-2.
17 Daniell, p.602.
18 “A Collection of the Prophecies which concern the Calling of the Jews, and the Glory which shall be in the Latter Days,” in part 43 of 46 weekly parts of John Brown’s, The Self-Interpreting Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments (Glasgow: Blackie & Son, 1864).
19 Daniell, p.632.
20 F.L. Cross & E.A. Livingstone, Dictionary of the Christian Church (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1997), p.1474.
21 Matthew Mead, Original Sermons on the Jews; and on Falling into the Hands of the Living God, edited from MSS. preserved in the family of Sir Thomas W. Blomefield (London: James Nisbet & Co, 1836), p.x. The manuscripts were deposited in the British Museum “for the convenience of public inspection.”
22 Mead, p.x.
23 Mead, p.xxxvii.
24 John McClintock & James Strong, Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, Volume VI (Grand Rapids, MI: 1981), p.1. First Published by Harper & Brothers, 1867-1887.
25 McClintock & Strong, Vol. VI, p.1.
26 Farewell Sermons of Some of the Most Eminent of the Nonconformist Ministers Delivered at the Period of their Ejectment by the Act of Uniformity in the Year 1662 (Ligonier, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1992), p.xiv.
27 Mead, p.vi.
28 Mead, p.vi.
29 Mead, Sermon IV, p.8.
30 Mead, Sermon IV, p.91.
31 Mead, Sermon V, pp.120-21.
32 “Original Sermons on the Jews,” The Christian Lady’s Magazine, edited by Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna, Vol. VII, January to June, 1837 (London: R.B. Seeley and W. Burnside, 1837), p.371.
33 Christopher Brown, Itinerarium Novi Testamenti: Or, The Sacred History and Doctrine of the New Testament In Question and Answer (Newcastle Upon Tyne: John Gooding, 1748), p.111.
34 McClintock & Strong, Volume VI, p.266.
35 Martin Spence, Heaven on Earth: Reimagining Time and Eternity in Nineteenth-Century British Evangelicalism (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2015), p.59.
36 McClintock & Strong, Volume VI, p.266.
37 Kelvin Crombie, A Jewish Bishop in Jerusalem (Jerusalem: Nicolayson’s Ltd, 2006), p.57.
38 Crombie, p.57.
39 W.R. Fremantle, preface, Israel Restored; or the Scriptural Claims of the Jews upon the Christian Church: Lectures Delivered During Lent, 1841, at the Episcopal Chapel, West Street, London, by Twelve Clergymen of the Church of England (London: James Nibet and Co, 1841), pp.1-2.
40 Edward Robinson, Biblical Researches in Palestine, Mount Sinai and Arabia Petraea (London, 1841).
41 Quoted in W.F. Albright The Archaeology of Palestine (Pelican Books, 1949), p.25.
42 Much of the information in this section is from: “Jerusalem,” Encyclopaedia Judaica, Volume 9; Photographic Heritage of the Holy Land 1839-1914, edited by Eyal Onne (Institute of Advanced Studies, Manchester Polytechnic, 1980); Jerusalem A History (London: Paul Hamlyn, 1967).
43 Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement, January 1890 (London, 1890).
44 Cross & Livingstone, p.1209.
45 Cook’s Traveller’s Handbook for Palestine and Syria, new edition revised by Harry Charles Luke, Assistant Governor of Jerusalem (London: Simkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co., Ltd, 1924).
46 John Murray, A Handbook for Travellers in Syria and Palestine (London, 1858), preface.
47 Karl Baedeker (ed.), Palestine and Syria Handbook for Travellers, 1876.
48 Edward Bickersteth, “The Effects of Zion’s Blessedness on the World,” The Restoration of the Jews to their Own Land in Connection with their Future Conversion and the Final Blessedness of our Earth (London: R.B. Seeley and W. Burnside, 1841), p.257.
49 David Noel Freeman (editor-in-chief), Anchor Bible Dictionary, Volume 3 (New York, NY: Doubleday, 1992), p.748.
50 Bickersteth, The Restoration of the Jews..., p.ii.
51 Spence, p.59.
52 Paul R. Wilkinson, Understanding Christian Zionism: Israel’s Place in the Purposes of God (Bend, OR: The Berean Call, 2013), first published by Paternoster Press in 2007 under the title For Zion’s Sake: Christian Zionism and the Role of John Nelson Darby.
53 John Haldane Stewart, preface, The Destiny of the Jews, and their Connexion with the Gentile Nations, Viewed Practically in a Course of Lectures Delivered at St. Bride’s Church, Liverpool (London: John Hatchard & Son, 1841), p.17.
54 John Haldane Stewart, “Introductory Lecture, Explanatory of the Design of the Course - of the Importance of an Accurate Knowledge of the Prophetic Scriptures...,” The Destiny of the Jews..., p.17.
55 See Paul Wilkinson, pp.163-167.
56 Stock, Vol. I, p.374.
57 James Haldane Stewart, “Lecture XII. Concluding Lecture; With a Practical Improvement of the Whole Course,” The Destiny of the Jews..., p.555.
58 Haldane Stewart, “Lecture XII...,” p.555.
59 Haldane Stewart, “Lecture XII...,” p.561.
60 Haldane Stewart, “Lecture XII...,” p.562.
61 Haldane Stewart, “Lecture XII...,” p.562.
62 Gidney, p.275.
63 Haldane Stewart, “Lecture XII...,” p.563.
64 Fremantle, Israel Restored, p.vii.
65 Hugh McNeile, Prospects of the Jews: Or, a Series of Popular Lectures on the Prophecies Relative to the Jewish Nation, 2nd edition (London, 1838).
66 See Spence, p.59.
67 McClintock & Strong, Vol. 6, p.266.
68 Spence, p.60.
69 Richard Whateley, published under the name of “A Country Pastor,” A View of the Scripture Revelations Concerning a Future State (London: John W. W. Walker & Son, 1853), title page.
70 Whateley, p.163.
71 Whateley, p.199.
72 McClintock & Strong, Vol 6, p.266.
73 Paul Wilkinson, p.100.
74 Unpublished minutes, archives of Prophetic Witness Movement International.
75 See Bickersteth, The Restoration of the Jews, pp.ii-v.
76 “Ryle, John Charles,” Cross & Livingstone, p.1430.
77 Edward Bickersteth, preface, The Second Coming, the Judgment, and the Kingdom of Christ (London: James Nisbet and Co, 1843), p.vi.
78 “Bickersteth, Edward,” James Darling, Cyclopedia Bibliographica: A Literary Manual of Theological and General Literature (London, 1854), column 307.
79 The Parker Society was established in 1840 under the leadership of Lord Shaftesbury (1801-1885) to “issue the works of the Fathers and early writers of the Reformed Church.”
80 Cross & Livingstone, p.206.
81 Spence, p.165.
82 “The Late Mr. Bickersteth,” The Churchman’s Monthly Penny Magazine and Guide to Christian Truth, Vol. IV, June 1849 - December 1850 (London: Wertheim and Macintosh), p.314.
83 Edward H. Bickersteth, commentary on Acts 1:6-8, A Practical and Explanatory Commentary on the New Testament (London: Virtue & Co, 1864), p.191.
84 Edward Bickersteth’s grandson, also named Edward Bickersteth (1850-97) was Bishop of South Tokyo; his great-great-grandson, John Monier Bickersteth (b.1921) was Bishop of Bath and Wells, and his nephew Robert Bickersteth (1816-84), was Bishop of Ripon.
85 C.H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Volume 2 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, no date), notes on Psalms 89:26, 28-29, 32; pp.47-51.
86 Capel Molyneux, Israel’s Future (London: Partridge & Oakey, 1853), pp.193-194.
87 Jacob Samuel, An Appeal on Behalf of the Jews scattered in India, Persia, and Arabia (London: J. Hatchard & Son, 1840), pp.5,6,13.
88 Jacob Samuel, The Remnant Found or Israel’s Place of Hiding Discovered (London: J. Hatchard and Son, 1841), pp.vii,viii.
89 Samuel Hinds Wilkinson, The Life of John Wilkinson the Jewish Missionary (London: Morgan & Scott Ltd., 1908), p.21.
90 Samuel Hinds Wilkinson, p.39.
91 Samuel Hinds Wilkinson, pp.74-75.
92 Samuel Hinds Wilkinson, pp.39,53.
93 Samuel Hinds Wilkinson, pp.78.
94 Samuel Hinds Wilkinson, pp.125-126.
95 Samuel Hinds Wilkinson, pp.33,75.
96 Samuel Hinds Wilkinson, pp.324-340.
97 This hymn has been wrongly attributed to John Wesley, because he included an edited version of it in his own hymnal, A Collection of Hymns for the use of the People called Methodists (1780).
98 Herbert McGonigle, “A Wesley Zionist Hymn?” The Wesley Fellowship Bulletin (Spring, 2008). See also the Wesley Fellowship Quarterly, Vol. 20, No.2 (July 2005), p.1.
99 Charles Wesley, Amazing Love of God, in John Wesley, A Collection of HYMNS, for the use of the People Called METHODISTS (London, 1836), hymn no. 452, p.422.
100 Psalms and Hymns with Supplement or Public, Social, And Private Worship; Prepared for the Use of the Baptist Denomination (London, 1889), hymn no. 767.
101 McClintock & Strong, Vol. 6, p.544.
102 Gidney, p.514.
103 Gidney, p.514.
104 Bright (1824-1901) was the Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History and Canon of Christ Church, and a man of considerable influence in Anglican circles; Cross & Livingstone, p.238.
105 Gidney, p.514.
106 Hymns Ancient and Modern For Use in the Services of the Church (London: William Clowes and Sons Limited, 1916), Standard Edition, hymn no. 590.
107 Lucien Wolf, “The Queen’s Jewry,” Essays in Jewish History (London: The Jewish Historical Society of England, 1934), p.355.
108 Wolf, p.356.
109 “Russia,” Encyclopaedia Judaica, Vol. 14, p.449.
110 “England,” Encyclopaedia Judaica,, Vol. 6, p.758.
111 “England,” Encyclopaedia Judaica,, Vol. 6, p.759.
112 Montagu F. Modder, The Jew in the Literature of England (Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1939), p.251.
113 “Montefiore, Sir Moses,” Encyclopaedia Judaica,, Vol. 12, p.270.
114 Modder, p.245.
115 Modder, p.245.
116 Modder, p.378.
117 Modder, pp.247-48.
118 Jill Duchess of Hamilton, God, Guns and Israel (Stroud, Glos: Sutton Publishing, 2004), p.151.
119 Hamilton, p.153.
120 Hamilton, p.153.
121 H.L. Ellison, The Mystery of Israel (Exeter: Paternoster Press, 1968), p.9.
122 Walter Riggans, “Towards an Evangelical Doctrine of the Church: The Church and Israel,” Churchman, Vol. 103, Issue 2, 1989, pp.132-133.
123 William Fremantle, “The Glory of Israel after the Advent,” The Second Coming, the Judgment, and the Kingdom of Christ, pp.313-314.
124 J. C. Ryle, Coming Events and Present Duties (London: William Hunt & Co., 1881), pp.x-xi.
125 Ryle, pp.46-48.