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M. A.;* those of Augustus Friedmann Rühle von Lilienstern, (in his “ Discovery of the very near Appearance of the Personal Antichrist,"— Frankf. 1820,) and several similar writings of others, all quite differing from Bengel in their` mode of computation, accord with him in expecting that between A. D. 1830 and 1840, Antichrist will practise his misrule.
* “ The Nearness of the General Temptation," Tübingen, 1821. “ The Beast that was, and is not.” Lewisb., 1825.
In this little volume Bengel attempted to show that there was a real coherence in his progressive scale of apocalyptical periods. As 1 period (chronus) in this scale, amounts to 11115 years, and as he had adopted the conclusion of astronomers in his time, that the mean tropical year consisted of 365 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes, and 12 seconds, he inferred that after 252 apocalyptical periods, that is, 252 times 11115 years, or 280,000 years, a cycle of the solar system would be completed; in other words, all the planets would then have returned to the same relative positions to one another and to the fixed stars, from which they set out at the creation. And he conceived, that hereby the calculations of astronomy were verified in a manner which had never before been noticed.* But as more recent astronomers have found the mean tropical year to be 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 44 seconds, † Bengel's cycle can no longer be maintained. He himself, however, was far from insisting upon it as proof, and earnestly invited others to give him their opinion of it; though none ventured to do so. The work is now only of use to show his unwearied diligence upon any subject which he deemed serviceable to the cause of truth: it is also an instance of his great acuteness. Could it have been confirmed by the latest astronomical calculations, it would have very strongly supported his system of apocalyptical chronology; though the two things are not so necessarily connected, as to stand or fall together.
* See also the work of John Gotthold Böhmer, chief assistant minister of St. Peter's, Budissin. It is entitled, “ Dr John Albert Bengel's Cyclus; or particular Reflections on the great Year of the Universe.” Leipsic; by Ulr. Christ. Saalbach, 1773. Also Privy Councillor “ Fein's Introduction" (already mentioned,) chronological part, pp. 135–152, &c. Likewise Stilling's Appendix to “ The Triumphs of Christianity," pp. 51–58.
+ Bonnycastle, (in his “ Astronomy,” 7th edit. 1816), states the tropical year at 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, 451 seconds. Sir John Herschel, in his recent and celebrated work on Astronomy, states it to be 365 days, 5 hours, 49-7 seconds. Here then is still a variation worthy of notice; and deviating less widely from Bengel's datum.-TR.
HIS CONTROVERSIAL WRITINGS UPON APOCALYPTICAL
I. His “ Age of the World,” was not (he says,) to be considered as a translation of his “ Ordo Temporum.” Though some things are repeated from it rather copiously, and others briefly, yet much is entirely new. Neither was his “ Age of the World” intended to be a complete refutation of every objection raised by learned persons against his “ Ordo Temporum." But it takes occasion, from their objections, to set controverted points in a clearer light. It is in seven chapters. The first discusses the importance of that historical and prophetical line of chronology which pervades the Old and New Testament. Among a variety of matters which we have already adverted to, the work has the following additional thoughts ::
“ The particular dates mentioned in Scripture, if we look at them merely apart, may seem at first like something we could dispense with; but if we trace them by the clew which Scripture itself furnishes, we find a connected series of proportionate periods conducting us towards their ultimate object, the day of Christ. It is only when we keep close to this method of tracing them, that
we perceive why many an important event has no date affixed to it, while others of less importance are accurately dated. All this was evidently from design; and that design was to continue the line of chronology. In like manner, the pervading appearance of this line is one noble proof of the internal, intimate, and indivisible connexion of the Old and New Testament,-à proof which may especially be adduced in refutation of Jewish infidelity.
The second chapter treats of the periods of the world, from the creation to the kings of Persia ; and contains a train of argument to prove, that Dean Kohlreiff's computation gives 567 years too many.
The third relates to the middle periods; and notices the
objections which James Koch * had made to Bengel's system, especially to the second part of his Old Testament chronology, which discusses the seventy weeks of Daniel.
The fourth treats of “ the last periods of the world;" distinguishes true millenarianism from false; and considers the authority and importance belonging to terms and forms of expression in Scripture. Kohlreiff's loud complaint of abatement in the zeal of orthodox Lutherans against millenarianism is here first animadverted on; together with what the Dean had considered as valid objections to the millenarianism of Bengel, who is glad to find an abatement of the zeal above mentioned ; and states, that pure millenarian doctrine, which is of no worldly and earthly character, but spiritual and heavenly, is perfectly agreeable to Holy Scripture. He then remarks, that all lovers of the revelation of Jesus Christ, and of its true exposition, must surely rejoice with himself, that so prompt and diligent an opponent had not been able to bring forward a single objection of any weight. That this spoke in favour of his own chronology. That, from christian regard and respect, he wished the undue warmth with which this writer in his advanced years had defended his own sentiments, might subside into meekness of wisdom; that, by the same word and truth of the Lord, which he appeared so much to value, he might be sanctified entirely; and that the impressive testimony which he had borne on various occasions by his writings, &c., against the offences of this present world, might thus have its more effectual triumph. To this chapter were added, remarks upon the terms and manner of expression used in Scripture; showing that, as by the way they strikingly harmonize with the character of inspiration belonging to the whole sacred volume, so they ought to be made our own standard of expression in prayers, praises, sermons, and common life. He had introduced these remarks, because the word chiliasm was used in the Lutheran church as but another name for heresy. Whereas the doctrine of a future thousand years of peculiar blessing to the church of Christ is, by Rev. xx., a scriptural doctrine. It is only men's false descriptions of this blessed millennium that are unscriptural and heretical.
The fifth chapter is entitled, “ The observable extent of the Scripture Line of Chronology.” It notices two reviews (in main points very favourable ones) of the “ Ordo Temporum;" and adds a few corrective observations. See his “ Elements of a Safe and Correct Chronology,"
The sixth chapter replies to several groundless objections of a reviewer (in the “ Authentic Details,” part 33,) against Bengel's chronological system in general, and against that of the Apocalypse in particular.
The seventh concludes the work, by commending the preceding investigations to the attentive consideration of sincere Christians.
II. Of his " Confirmed Testimony to the Truth," the first part was a rejoinder to Dean Kohlreiff's reply.* The most important objection which Kohlreiff had made against Bengel was, where he says, in sect. 7, that Bengel's views of the millennium must necessarily tend to a dreadful dissettlement of all true religion ; for, that in his express mention of the spiritual privileges which are to be retained in his millennial kingdom, he never says one word of the continued use of the Scriptures, the symbolical books, the sacrament of baptism, the confessional, the ministerial office, or the Lutheran religion, hereby proving himself guilty of very ominous omissions. Bengel replied: “ This is a heavy charge indeed, and may well serve to set every body against me. In expressing anticipations, however, of the millennial kingdom, I have mentioned things which could not possibly be thought of apart from the continued use of the Scriptures and the sacred ministry; neither is that the only occasion whereon I have intimated that I could not attempt to mention and settle every thing. But with those three inseparables, the Bible, baptism, and the ministry, Kohlreiff has arbitrarily rivetted three other matters which, especially in their modern form, are comparatively recent, and of less importance; and the continuation of which, to the end of the world, he cannot evince from Holy Scripture. Is it then a dangerous unsettling of religion, if I do not maintain their continuance into the millennium? Was there no religion till the symbolical books, the confessional, and Luther had appeared ?”
We need not go on with the remaining particulars of this controversy; for Kohlreiff, with all his occasional vehemence, adopted here, for the most part, very weak and obtuse objections; not to mention that we have already noticed a much more important opponent; and shall meet with several others in Bengel's literary correspondence.
* Kohlreiff had replied to the strictures in Bengel's “ Age of the World," by “A collateral Treatise on the World's long duration ; inferring and maintaining the same from the true Chronology of Scripture, against that of Mr. Bengel, which involves a double Millennium,"