Oneida Hyper Preterist Heresy:

 The members of the community, according to Noyes, were sinless after conversion, so no confession would be needed.  




“Let us suppose that our mortal bodies are compounded of two substances, one of them visible, and the other invisible. The visible is but the shell or garment of the invisible.. We must not confound the inner substance with the soul, but consider it a real body corresponding in shape and function to the visible body, and in fact visible itself to spiritual”

The cover of “Puck” portrays its critics proclaiming the Oneida Community members to be living in peace and harmony, without clergy scandals, and that therefore “They must be stopped!”

The Utopia of Sharing in Oneida “THEY wanted to create a heaven on earth. For 33 years they believed they’d succeeded, at a utopian commune infamous for “free love..”Believing that the Kingdom of God on Earth had arrived with the second coming of Jesus during the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D., they embraced the communalism of the early Christian Church in their effort to create a more equal, just and rational society in their new Eden.”


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Ambrose, Pseudo
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King Jesus
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(Minor Fulfillment of Matt. 24/25 or Revelation in Past)

Joseph Addison
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Thomas Aquinas
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G.K. Beale
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David Brown
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Cornelius Lapide
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James MacDonald
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William W. Patton
Arthur Pink

Thomas Pyle
Maurus Rabanus
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Anne Rice
Kim Riddlebarger
J.C. Robertson
Edward Robinson
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Philip Schaff
Thomas Scott
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Rudolph E. Stier
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Noah Webster
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John Wycliffe
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(Major Fulfillment of Matt. 24/25 or Revelation in Past)

Firmin Abauzit
Jay Adams
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Henry Cowles
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Friedrich Hartwig
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J. Marcellus Kik
Samuel Lee
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John Lightfoot
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Ovid Need, Jr
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N.A. Nisbett
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Andrew Perriman
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Ernst Renan
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Fr. Spadafora
R.C. Sproul
Moses Stuart
Milton S. Terry
Herbert Thorndike
C. Vanderwaal
Foy Wallace
Israel P. Warren
Chas Wellbeloved
J.J. Wetstein
Richard Weymouth
Daniel Whitby
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E.P. Woodward

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Henry Alford
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Quakers : George Fox | Margaret Fell (Fox) | Isaac Penington



John Humphrey Noyes

 “Complex Marriage” and the Oneida Community | Author of “The Greatest Secret in the World”, and of “The Berean”

“the second coming was an event in the spiritual, and not in the natural world.”

Religious Experience Of John Humphrey Noyes | Faust 1 | New York History: Oneida | The Putney Community | JHN and Millennialism | The Oneida Collection | Salvation from sin: The end of the Christian Faith | Life of JHN | Taught Garfield’s Assassin | Mathison on Noyes


Keith Mathison bases JH Noyes’ view of the second coming in AD70 as grounds for Noyes’ classification as a full preterist (Keith using the term “hyper preterist”).   If AD70 were Noyes’ only coming of Christ this would certainly be a hyper preterist doctrine; however, he teaches a coming of Christ at the final judgment (though he doesn’t call it the “second coming”).   Therefore, on that point, Noyes isn’t a full preterist.    However, he was certainly hyper preteristic in certain critical areas of doctrine.

I classify Noyes as a Hyper Preterist because of his views of perfection post AD70, which was a fundamental tenet of his Oneidan “free love” utopian society.  By teaching a “resurrection past” view as a major part of his justification, Noyes is a hyper preterist:

“We come now to ascertain more definitely the precise position of Christ and Paul with respect to all social relations, that of marriage included. It is plain that the constitutional principle on which they stood, toward which they were leading the church, and which they expected would expand and occupy the whole field of the future, was declared in the saying of Christ, “In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage.” Now, whatever may be the exact meaning of the state designated by the term “resurrection,” it was undeniably the condition towards which Paul was urging his course, the condition towards which he ever pointed the church as the goal immediately before them.” 

“…if the final Kingdom of Heaven has been established by Christ’s second coming, all progress among men, must consist in an approximation to its standard of manners and social life. The highest civilization must rule, and a final coalescence of the institutions of visible and invisible society must take place, on the platform of resurrection refinement and unity. Those who accept the promises here given, are compelled by a clear line of argument to adopt a new social standard.”   (Social Platform 57)

In spite of this clearly hyper preterist doctrine, Noyes still doesn’t qualify as a “full preterist” (which is “Systematic Hyper Preterism”).   There are a number of areas where he strays from “total prophetic fulfillment in the past” such as his view of the final judgment being yet future.      If his doctrines surrounding post AD70 marriage were not so destructive and anti-Christian, I probably wouldn’t even classify him as a hyper preterist.   In any event, he certainly wasn’t a fully hyper preterist, as has been pointed out by some full preterists.   To reach that “ultra hyper” threshold, one must consistently hold to the AD70 terminus in all areas of doctrine.


Based upon some quotes of his, it would seem that AD70 was his only coming of Christ:

“[If] an angel from heaven, bearing the seal of ten thousand miracles, should establish a religion, which should fail to recognize the truth which blazes on the whole front of the New Testament, that Jesus Christ came the second time at the destruction of Jerusalem, I would call him an imposter.”

There are, however, other quotes which make it appear that he does not, based upon the idea of the coming(s) of Christ at a date after AD70, such as during the “final judgment” :

“many have believed and taught that the judgment (meaning the whole, or final judgment) is past. These views, whether held by Universalists or Perfectionists, we disclaim”

“With this explanation, we shall be understood when we say, that in speaking of the second coming of Christ we refer to the first and not to the final judgment. It is not our object in this article to discuss the subject of the second or final judgment.”

“we agree with most other sects, in believing that the final judgment of mankind is yet future – that it will take place at the end of the ‘times of the Gentiles,’ as the judgment of the second coming took place at the end of the times of the Jews.” (The Berean)

Perhaps it comes down to whether or not he sees that “final judgment” as being associated with some sort of coming of the Lord.  If so, he is simply a modern preterist along the lines of Lightfoot, Hammond or Farrar — who likewise reckoned AD70 as the second coming.. while also advocating that there would be a third or “final coming at the end of the world” (this, despite Mathison’s mistaken claim that NO partial preterist sees AD70 as the second coming).

Other men under consideration in this regard are Randall Otto, Charles Guiteau and Ephraim Currier, who likewise would not qualify as full preterists, yet due to other “AD70 Terminus” considerations, may very well be ultimately classified hyper preterists.

Dividing Line Between Destruction of Jerusalem and General Judgment – Matthew 25:31

(Second Coming of Christ)
“We may sum up and concentrate the testimony we have examined in this section, thus: Christ designated the time of his second coming in six different ways. 1. He placed it immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem. 2. He instructed his disciples to expect it when they should see the fearful signs that should precede and accompany the destruction of Jerusalem, as they would look for summer after the budding of the fig-tree. 3. He most solemnly declared it would take place before the generation contemporary with himself would pass away. 4. He assured his disciples that it would happen before their ministry to the Jews would be finished. 5. He said there were some standing with him who should live till the event. 6. He plainly intimated that John should tarry till his coming.” (Hand-Book of the Oneida Community, 37.)

“Such language as this is perfectly natural on the supposition that they understood Christ’s predictions as setting the period of the second coming nigh at hand; and perfectly unnatural on any other supposition, as is proved by the fact that such language at the present day, when the churches generally believe the second coming to be afar off, is altogether obsolete; except among those whose theory, like that of Miller, places the second advent very near the present time. Men do not wait and look for a far distant event. Such language implies that the event expected is supposed to be impending.” (Ibid., 37–38. )

“We will not further multiply citations showing the expectations of primitive believers, but refer the reader, if he needs further evidence on the subject, to an examination of the whole New Testament. The position which we think the evidence already presented abundantly sustains, is, that as Christ predicted, so the primitive church expected, his second coming within the lifetime of their own generation.” (Ibid., 39.)

“It is not generally supposed that those tokens-especially the appearance of antichrist, and the universal publication of the gospel-did actually come to pass in that age; so that it is the more necessary that we should present our proof in relation to them. We find proof in the New Testament, that antichrist was revealed, and that the gospel was published to all nations, before the destruction of Jerusalem.” (Ibid., 41.)

“It would not therefore be a strange thing, if it should be found that the second coming was an event very different from the conceptions of it, whether popular or learned, which men have gained by private interpretations of prophecy. — Christ may have come at the time appointed, though the scribes “knew him not.” Taking the caution of past examples, we will not assume that he did not come, because popular anticipations were not fulfilled; but rather that those anticipations were false, and wholly unworthy to be placed in the balance against the credit of those plain predictions which, as we have seen, appointed the time. At the outset of our inquiry concerning the nature of the second coming, we are bound to take for granted that it was an event which, though it may not have been recognized by external historians, was not inconsistent with the true history of the external events which followed the destruction of Jerusalem. This assumption leads us at once to the general conclusion, that the second coming was an event in the spiritual, and not in the natural world.” (Ibid., 44. )

(On John 21:22)
“I first advanced into actual heresy in the early part of the summer of 1833 while still a student at New Haven Seminary. In the course of my Bible studies my attention was arrested by Christ’s expression in John 21:22: “If I will that he [John] tarry till I come, what is that to thee.” This seemed to imply that Jesus expected his disciple John to live until his second coming, and the disciples so construed it. The church on the contrary taught that Christ’s second coming was still far in the future. I had long been in the belief that the Bible was not a book of inexplicable riddles, and I determined to solve this mystery. Accordingly, I read the New Testament ten times with an eye on the question as to the time of Christ’s second coming, and my heart struggling in prayer for full access to the truth.” (George Wallingford Noyes, ed. The Religious Experience of John Humphrey Noyes (New York, The Macmillan Company, 1923), 69. )

(On Rev. 1:7 | Acts 1:11)
“the meaning of the apostle must be, ‘every spiritual eye shall see him.’” (Hand-Book of the Oneida Community, 45)

(On Christ’s Victory – Fulfilled Redemption)
“Now if we believe that the second coming of Christ is yet future, in our minds the last enemy is not destroyed – death is yet an unconquered antagonist of the Son of God. But if we believe the second coming is past, we see Jesus a perfect conqueror, with death under his feet; and our faith and hope, according to the grace given us, lay hold on his perfect victory. This last example may be taken as a specimen of a general revolution of mind, producing great enlargement of hope, which will take place in any one who intelligently exchanges the common views of the second coming, for those which we have presented. The progress of God’s general war with Satan, is not to be measured by the progress of that war in individuals. Victories may have been won, which we as individuals have not entered into. A spiritual and vigorous believer will look for encouragement and strength more to the general victories that are already won in Christ, than to any particular victories that are won in himself. Hence, when he finds that the second coming of Christ, with all its train of promised triumphs, instead of being yet far in the future, is eighteen hundred years in the past, he will lift up his head with joyful hope, and gird himself for the battle that is yet before him as an individual, with the exulting faith of one who is fighting on the distant wing of an army which has already routed the enemy at the center.” (Hand-Book of the Oneida Community, 48–49)

 “Paul’s gospel was that which Christ preached before him, and one main item of its tidings was, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand; this generation shall see the second coming of the Son of man, in the power and glory of eternal judgment.” (33 Ibid.)

ROBINSON ON MATT. 24: 29—31.
The Coming of Christ; as announced in Matt. 24: 29-31.

THE above is the title of a learned article in the third number of the Bibliotheca Sacra, (Dec. 1843,) by the editor, Edward Robinson, D. D. We will review it, for the sake of exhibiting to our readers the position of the learned world in relation to the predictions of the second coming. Dr. Robinson first gives his views of the meaning of the disciples’ question in the 3d verse of Matthew 24, notices the predictions in the former part of the chapter, introduces the whole of the 29th, 30th and 31st verses, with the parallel passages in Mark and Luke, closing with a sketch of the parable of the fig-tree, and the emphatic designation of time in the 34th verse, and then says :

It is conceded by all, I believe, that the representation as far as to the end of the 28th verse of Matthew, and in the parallel verses of the other evangelists, applies solely to the overthrow of Jerusalem. Or, if there be still those who would refer any portion of these preceding verses to the judgment day, it seems to me that they must first show that the ‘abomination of desolation’ spoken of by Matthew and Luke has nothing to do with the ‘ compassing of Jerusalem with armies,’ mentioned in the same connexion by Luke : and then, further, that all these things could have no connexion with the ‘ treading down’ of Jerusalem by the Gentiles, which Luke goes on to speak of as the result of all these antecedent circumstances. This, however, cannot well be shown, without disregarding every rule of interpretation, and without violating the very first principles of language. “The subject is now before the reader ; and the question to be considered is : Whether the language of Matthew in the passage above quoted, is to be referred to the judgment of the last great day ; or, rather to the then impending destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish nation? It is a question on which good men have ever differed ; and on which, perhaps, entire unity of feeling is not lo be expected, until the night of darkness and ignorance in which we are here enveloped, shall be chased away by the morn of pure light and perfect knowledge.

But with the 29th verse a new specification of time is introduced : ‘ Immediately after the affliction of those days’ shall appear the harbingers of our Lord’s coming : and these are depicted in language which elsewhere, it is said, is employed only to describe his coming to the final judgment.

But on the other hand, it is replied, that the phrase ‘immediately after’ indicates a very close connexion of this ‘coming’ of our Lord with the preceding events ; and the Savior himself goes on to declare, that ‘ this generation shall not pass away, till all these things be fulfilled.’ We must then assume, it is said, that the prediction had its fulfilment within a period not long subsequent to our Lord’s ministry ; or, it it is to be referred to the day of judgment, then we must admit that our Lord was in error, inasmuch as he here foretold that it would take place immediately after the downfall of Jerusalem. For these reasons many commentators have understood the language as applicable only to the destruction of the Holy City : forgetting, apparently, that the very expression which they urge against a remote future application, is equally stringent against an exclusive reference to the latter catastrophe;” [i.e., the expression ‘immediately after,’ while it preeludes reference to events far distant from the destruction of Jerusalem, at the same time necessarily goes beyond that event.] p. 538. then to be subsequent to the downfall of Jerusalem ; end can therefore only mean the coming of the Messiah in his kingdom at the judgment day. This opinion is perhaps, at the present time, the most prevalent one among commentators, and even with those whose views in other respects have little in common ; as in the case of Olshausen and De Wette, [eminent German commentators.]

In his examination of the language of the passage, preliminary to a presentation of his own views, Dr. Robinson says : ”

The word culhcos means literally straightway, and implies a succession more or less direct and immediate ; so that there can be no doubt, as De Wette justly remarks, that the coming of the Messiah, as here described by Matthew, was straightway to follow the destruction of Jerusalem. Indeed no meaning can possibly be assigned to eutheos, which will admit of any great delay ; much less of an interval so enormous as that between the destruction of the Holy City and the end of the world, as understood by us. From this it is manifest, that ‘ the coming’ of Christ here spoken of, as occurring after the downfall of Jerusalem, could not be meant to refer solely to that event.

Our Lord himself limits the interval within which Jerusalem shall be destroyed and his ‘ coming’ take place, to that same generation : Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. The language is here plain, definite, and express ; it cannot be misunderstood, nor perverted. It follows, in all the evangelists, the annunciation of our Lord’s ‘ coming,’ and applies to it in them all, just as much as it applies to the antecedent declarations respecting Jerusalem ; and more directly, indeed, inasmuch as it stands here in a closer connexion.” p. 540.

The writer then descants upon the word generation, and expresses the opinion that it is to be taken ‘ in the largest sense, and in accordance with popular Hebrew usage, as implying a hundred years,’ or thereabouts. He then proceeds : ”

The question now arises, Whether, under these limitations of time, a reference of our Lord’s language to the Jay of judgment and the end of the world, in our sense of these terms, is possible? Those who maintain this view attempt to dispose of the difficulties arising from these limitations in different ways. Some assign to eulheos the meaning suddenly, as it is employed by the Seventy in Job 6: 3, for the Hebrew pithom. But even in this passage, the purpose of the writer is simply to mark an immediate sequence—to intimate that another and consequent event happened forthwith. Nor would any thing be gained, even could the word culheos be thus disposed of, so long as the subsequent limitation to ‘ this generation’ remained. And in this, again, others have tried to references to the race of the Jews or to the disciples of Christ; not only without the slightest ground, but contrary to all usage and all analogy. All these attempts to apply force to the meaning of the language, are in vain ; and are now abandoned by roost commentators of note. Two or three general views, however, are current on the subject, which demand some further remark.

One is that of De Wette and others, who do not hesitate to regard our Lord as here announcing, that the coming of the Messiah to the judgment of the last day would take place immediately after the fall of Jerusalem. This idea, according to De Wette, is clearly expressed by our Lord, both here and elsewhere ; and was likewise held by Paul. But as the day of judgment has not yet come, it follows, either that our Lord, if correctly reported, was himself mistaken, and spoke here of things which he knew not; or else, that the sacred writers have not truly related his discourse. The latter horn of this dilemma is preferred by De Wette. According to him the disciples entertained the idea of their Lord’s return with such vividness of faith and hope, that they overlooked the relations of time, which Jesus himself had left indefinite; and they thus connected his final coming immediately with his coming to destroy Jerusalem. They give here, therefore, their own conception of our Lord’s language, rather than the language itself as it fell from his lips. They mistook his meaning; they acted upon this mistake in their own belief and preaching ; and in their writings have perpetuated it to the world throughout all time.

This view is, of course, incompatible with any and every idea of inspiration on the part of the sacred writers; the very essence of which is, that they were commissioned and aided by the Spirit to impart truth to the world, and not error. To a believer in this fundamental doctrine, no argument can here be necessary, nor in place, to counteract the view above presented. To state it in its naked contrast with the divine authority of God’s word, is enough.” p. 541. In his next paragraph, Dr. Robinson criticises the preceding views of the German commentators, very much in the way Prof. Stuart criticises Tholuck and others in his commentary on Rom. 13: 11. (See p. 301.) The Doctor proceeds: ”

Another form of the same general view is that presented by Olshausen. He too refers the verses of Matthew under consideration directly to the final coming of Christ; but seeks to avoid the difficulty above stated, by an explanation derived from the alleged nature of prophecy. He adopts the theory broached by Hengstenberg, that inasmuch as the vision of future things was presented solely to the mental or spiritual eye of the prophet, he thus saw them all at one glance as present realities, with equal vividness and without any distinction of order or time,—like the figures of a great painting without perspective or other marks of distance or relative position. ‘ The facts and realities are distinctly perceived ; but not their distance from the period, nor the intervals by which they are separated from each other.’ Hence our Lord, in submitting himself to the laws of prophetic vision, was led to speak of his last coming in immediate connexion with his coming for the destruction of Jerusalem : because in vision the two were presented together to his spiritual eye, without note of any interval of time.— Not to dwell here upon the fact, that this whole theory of prophecy is fanciful hypothesis, and appears to have been since abandoned by its author ; it is enough to remark, that this explanation admits, after all, the same fundamental error, viz. that our Lord did mistakenly announce his final coming as immediately to follow the overthrow of the Holy City. Indeed, the difficulty is even greater here, if possible, than before ; because, according to the former view, the error may be charged upon the report of the evangelists; while here it can only be referred to our Lord himself.” p. 544.

The writer next proceeds to show by examples from the Old Testament, (such as Isa. 13: 9, 34: 4, &c.,) that the language of Matt. 24: 29—31, may be only a figurative description of ‘ civil and political commotions and revolutions.’ his conclusion from these examples is thus stated : ” We come then to the general result, that the language of the three verses under consideration docs not necessarily in itself apply to the general judgment ; while the nature of the context shows that such an application is inadmissible. On the other hand, there is nothing in the language itself to binder our referring it to the downfall of Judaism and the Jewish people ; but rather both the context and the attendant circumstances require it to be understood of these events.”— p. 549.

Finally, the writer actually applies the tremendous announcement of the coming of the Son of man in Matt. 24: 29—31, to a second Jewish war—the final catastrophe of the nation, which took place some time after the destruction of Jerusalem in A. D. 70. The following paragraph presents the concluding epitome of his theory : ”

After these illustrations, I may sum up here in a few words the views suggested to my own mind in respect to the discourse of our Lord under consideration. In reply to the question of the four disciples: ‘When shall these things be?’ Jesus first points out what was to happen after his departure—the trials and dangers to which his followers would be exposed. Then comes the ‘ abomination of desolation :’ Jerusalem is ‘compassed by armies,’ and is ‘trodden down by the Gentiles :’—all this referring to its desolation by Titus in A. D. 70. Immediately afterward the Lord would come and establish more fully his spiritual kingdom, by crushing in terrible destruction the last remnants of the power and name of Judaism ; and this within the general limit of a generation of a hundred years from the time when he was speaking. There might, therefore, literally have been some then ‘ standing there, who did not taste of death till they saw the Son of man [thus] coming in his kingdom.’ Then it was, when this first great foe of the gospel dispensation should have been thus trampled down, that Christians -were to look up. ‘ Then look up, and lift up your heads ; for your redemption draweth nigh!’ The chains of religious despotism and the terrors of Jewish persecution would then be at an end forever ; and the disciples of Christ, thus far disenthralled and triumphant, might rejoice in the prevalence of the gospel of peace and love,—the coming of Christ’s spiritual kingdom upon earth!”— p. 652.

One of the laws of interpretation which Prof. Stuart and the Germans most earnestly insist upon, is, that a ‘frigid and inept meaning can be no true meaning.’ It seems to us that this law alone decisively condemns Dr. Robinson’s interpretation. What can be more ‘ frigid and inept’ than to refer a description of the coming of Christ to blast his enemies and gather his elect, to an obscure Jewish war, and the consequent prevalence of the gospel ! This is the old theory of the Universalists in a new form. They refer the whole of Matt. 24: 15—31 to the well known destruction of Jerusalem, and the resulting enlargement of Christianity ; while Dr. Robinson refers the first part of the passage (as far as verse 28) to that catastrophe, and the remainder to a subsequent and certainly less distinguished series of transactions. He has the advantage of them in that he gives a plausible meaning to the -words ‘ immediately after.’ But we think they have the advantage of him, in that they apply the most sublime part of the passage to the most sublime transaction, which he does not. Both parties rob the passage of all reference to the invisible world and eternal judgment.

Again, how will he dispose of Rev. 6: 12—17, and the chapter that follows? This is a repetition, almost verbatim, of Matt. 24: 29—31. No candid man can doubt that the two refer to the same coming of Christ. But in Rev. 6: 15—17, we have as strong a description of the judgment—’the great day of the wrath of the Lamb’—as can be found in the Bible. If no eternal judgment, but only civil commotions and temporal disasters are to be recognized here, we might safely engage to expurgate, by plausible exegesis, the whole Bible of all allusions to a day of judgment, or even to an invisible world. In the 7th chapter, immediately following this description of Christ’s coming, we have an extended account of the sealing and gathering of the hosts of the redeemed. This obviously corresponds to Matt. 24: 31,—’ He shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, (see Rev. 7: 1,) from one end of heaven to the other.’ Now of these ‘ elect’ thus gathered, it is said (verse 14—17)— ‘ Tliese are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple : and he that sitteth on the throne slnill dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more ; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne, shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters : and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.’ Can this be conjured into a description of any deliverances of the saints that have ever taken place in this world ? Nay, verily ; here is language that ‘ entereth into that within the veil ;’ and as surely as it does, so surely it demonstrates that the coming of Christ described in Matt. 24: 30, came to pass within the veil, and was to ‘ many’ the harbinger of eternal judgment. But waiving this general objection, we would ask Dr. Robinson, how according to his theory are we to understand verse 27—’As the lightning com- eth out of the east and shineth even unto the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be’ ? Does not this describe an instantaneous and omnipresent manifestation of Christ ? What plausible fulfilment of these words can be found in the history of the second Jewish war, or of the first, or in the history of the external world ? The Doctor says nothing about this passage.

Our author concludes his article with some remarks on the remainder of Christ’s discourse in the 24th and 25th of Matthew. He thinks the latter part of the 25th chapter certainly refers to the final judgment ; and finds the point of transition from that part of the discourse which relates to tin- catastrophe of Judaism, to that which relates to the judgment, at the 43d verse of the 24th chapter. Now let the reader take his Testament and examine this transition point. The 42d verse, which the Doctor admits belongs to the former division of the discourse, enjoins upon the disciples to wateh, because they knew not what hour their Lord would come. The 43d verse illustrates the necessity of watehing, by the example of the good man of the house and the thief. Here certainly is no change of discourse. Watching is the key note still. The 44th verse is almost a literal repetition of the 42d. ‘Be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.’

What conceivable reason is there for supposing that the coming of the Son of man here alluded to, is not the same as that mentioned in the 42d verse —as also in the 39th, 37th, 30th, and 27th verses ? If there is a change of meaning here, the discourse is an egregious imposition ; for there is no change of language, and no hint of any change of meaning. From the 45th verse the remainder of the chapter stands in undeniable connection with what goes before, i. e., as we have seen, with the coming of Christ at the destruction of Jerusalem. The 25th chapter commences with—’ THEN shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins.’ This points directly back to the great event of the preceding chapter. The whole parable of the ten virgins therefore belongs to the discourse on the advent connected with the destruction of Jerusalem. This brings us to the 12th verse. The 13th verse is another repetition, almost word for word, of the 44th and 42d verses of the preceding chapter. There is not a shadow of authority for referring it to any event but that announced in Matt. 24: 27, 30, &c. The parable of the talents that follows, from the 14th to the 30th verses, is confessedly a sequel to the parable of the ten virgins, and belongs to the same train of thought. We are sure, then, that all that goes before the 31st verse of the 25th chapter, is part of the discourse relating to the coming of Christ at the destruction of Jerusalem. But it is manifest that the 31st verse introduces a new train of thought. ‘ When the Son of man shall come in his glory, &c., [this is the same coming as that which is the subject of the whole preceding discourse,] then shall he SIT upon the throne of his glory.’ Here is a new action.

COMING was the previous theme. Now SITTING on the throne—a continuous administration of government, is the subject of discourse. ‘ And before him shall be gathered all nations.’ It is not stated how long a period this gathering will occupy. It may, for aught that appears in the text, have been the work of the past eighteen hundred years. In order that he may thus gather all nations, he must first ‘ put down all rule and all authority and power ;’ and this is represented by Paul as the business of his whole mediatorial reign. (See 1 Cor. 15: 24.) The separation and the award of destinies described in the remainder of the 25th chapter, is the proper judgment ; and this, in our view, is yet future. We recognize in the predictions of the 24th and 25th of Matthew, two judgments—one at the beginning, and the other at the end of Christ’s mediatorial reign. With this theory, we find plain sailing through those chapters, as well as through many other regions of scripture which have long been famous for perils and shipwrecks.

We confess we cannot but be astonished at the pertinacity with which the churches and their great men keep themselves away from the marrow of the truth in relation to the second coming ofChrist. The simple idea that he actually came according to his promise, and commenced the judgment in Hie world of souls, immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem, seems to be avoided, as though it were forbidden fruit. The commentators of Germany and this country go around and around it, and seem to be ever drawing nearer to it. How they keep from hitting it, we cannot tell. But somehow they never touch it. The old ways of managing the 24th of Matthew are all abandoned. The double-sense scheme is scouted at Anderer. Twisting the word generation is given up. Still the learned come to no conclusion that is satisfactory to themselves or to one another. In Germany, where skepticism is licensed, one wise man thinks the evangelists misreported Christ. Another thinks Christ mistook the purport of his own visions, and misreported the Holy Ghost. In this country, Robinson finds a dubious history of Jewish wars subsequent to the destruction of Jerusalem, and forthwith applies to them the splendid prophecy of the second coming. And Bush thinks that ‘ the grand nodus of this remarkable prophecy remains yet unsolved.’ When will all this end ? Is not the long delusion of Christendom on this subject, ‘ a veil on the heart,’ which mere learning and critical sagacity cannot rend ?” (The Berean, 811-816)


Randall Balmer
“Throughout American history, evangelicals have vacillated between pre- and postmillennialism. While the Puritans were decidedly premillennial in their views—that is, they knew that Christ’s return could take place at any moment—the revivals of the Great Awakening of the 1730s and 1740s promoted a sense that God was even now working on earth to establish the millennial kingdom. No less a figure than Jonathan Edwards, regarded by many as America’s premier thinker, believed that the millennium would begin in America.  For Edwards’s apocalyptic views, see The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol 5: Apocalyptic Writings, edited by Stephen J. Stein (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977), esp. pp. 27–29.   The Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, better known as the Shakers, held that Christ had returned in the person of Mother Ann Lee and that they were busy establishing the millennial kingdom. “The gospel of Christ’s Second Appearing,” according to the Shakers’ Millennial Laws, “strictly forbids all private union between the two sexes, in any case, place, or under any circumstances, in doors or out.” John Humphrey Noyes, founder of the Oneida Community in western New York, also believed that Christ had returned (in A.D. 70), but for him the millennium provided sexual license in the form of “complex marriage.” Quoted in Robert S. Fogarty, ed., American Utopianism (Itasca, Ill.: F. E. Peacock Publishers, 1972), p. 18. For an explication of complex marriage and its millennial justification, see Constance Noyes Robertson, Oneida Community: An Autobiography, 1851–1876 (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1970), chap. 9.” (Thy Kingdom Come)

Joey Faust (2003)
I have already revealed to you one of your main advocates in history (i.e. Noyes, the devil inspired, sex pervert).” (Faust 2)

“JOHN HUMPHREY NOYES (1811-1886) was the leader of an abnormal religious sect called the PERFECTIONISTS OF ONEIDA. He was affluent and educated at the best schools. Noyes believed that he was a recipient of Divine inspiration. He and his followers believed that he had reached ABSOLUTE PERFECTION in 1834. He held other heretical views similar to Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), such as the dual sex of the Almighty. Hannah Whitall Smith (1832-1911) spent years investigating strange cults such as these Perfectionists of Oneida. From a book published by her grandson after her death, we have the following information concerning Noyes: 

“During the course of his studies he [Noyes] made a discovery which ALTERED HIS WHOLE OUTLOOK ON LIFE….This discovery was that THE SECOND ADVENT HAD ALREADY TAKEN PLACE, AT THE TIME OF THE FALL OF JERUSALEM IN THE YEAR A.D. 70….” (1) 

It was in 1833 that Noyes had this preterist “illumination,” which altered his whole outlook on life: 

“In the summer of 1833, while reading the last words of the Fourth Gospel, Noyes received a sudden illumination concerning Christ’s words, ‘If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?’ ‘I knew,’ wrote Noyes, ‘that the time appointed for the Second Advent was within one generation from the time of Christ’s personal ministry’ – in A.D. 70, to be precise….Noyes himself [then] had the courage to proclaim that he did not sin…”(2) 

This new revelation of Noyes would bring forth even more rotten fruit. Since Noyes believed that Jesus had already returned, he believed he and his followers were already in the so-called “heavenly” state! Noyes therefore called attention to Matthew 22:30: 

Matthew 22:30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. 

Our theological views have consequences. Indeed, they often alter our “whole outlook on life”: 

“The IMPLICATIONS of a Second Advent that has ALREADY taken place are bound to be far-reaching….Noyes, who did not want celibacy, used [Matthew 22:30]…to support a form of regulated promiscuity. In 1837 ‘The Battle Axe’ published a letter from Noyes explaining his conception of the sexual relations that ought to exist between men and women. In his letter, he stated ‘…The marriage supper of the Lamb is a feast at which EVERY DISH IS FREE TO EVERY GUEST….In a holy community, there is no more reason why SEXUAL INTERCOURSE should be restrained by law, than why eating and drinking should be….[It] was at Putney… that Noyes first formulated his ideas of Male Continence and Complex Marriage, which were adopted by the community in 1846. ‘These latter practices were more than the inquisitive neighbors were prepared to tolerate. In the following year the persecution of the community culminated in the indictment of Noyes on the grounds of adultery. Noyes… purchased… land in another state…. at Oneida…. In 1847… it was unanimously adopted by the forty or fifty members at Putney ‘that THE KINGDOM OF GOD HAD COME’….’We are opposed’, he [Noyes] wrote in ‘Bible Communism,’ ‘to random procreation, which is unavoidable in the marriage system. But we are in favour of intelligent, well-ordered procreation…’…Complex marriage meant, in theory, that any man and woman might freely cohabit within the limits of the community….The exclusive attachment of two persons was regarded as selfish and ‘idolatrous’ and was strongly discouraged.”(3) 

Talk about rotten apples! In conclusion, I am more than willing to continue to compare the historicity of the dispensational hermeneutic I advocate with the historicity of Forgy’s preterism. But I trust that Forgy will wish to move on to other things, and therefore so will I; that is, unless this rabbit raises its head again.” (Faust 1 – Consistent Preterism vs. “Aggressive Futurist” Dispensationalism)

Robert S. Fogarty
“There are some who think he was just a lecher, pure and simple. There are others who believe that he was a great forward-thinking individual who was a great religious figure. I think it’s 50-50, to be honest.”

Ernest Hampden-Cook
The belief that the second coming of the Son of man is still future cannot be reconciled with any reasonable interpretation of the New Testament as a divinely-inspired message and record. The error is none the less in error because for centuries it has remained undetected. The truth which must sooner or later supersede it formed part of the most ancient, faith of the Christian church. The most ancient faith of the Christian church associated together the destruction of Jerusalem, the winding up of the Jewish dispensation, and a personal return of Christ to the earth, as events which were certain to happen at one and the same time. Jesus and His apostles believed and taught that the Second Advent would take place in the lifetime of some who had been His earthly contemporaries. Confident that the founders of Christianity were neither deceived nor mistaken we joyfully accept on their authority the fact that the Christ has already come the second time.

     Throughout the following pages the author is under the deepest obligations to Dr. Stuart Russell’s “The Parousia.” He also owes much, to the “The Berean” by John Humphrey Noyes, and to the works of Henry Dunn, the author of “The Destiny of the Human Race.” February 1891. E. H.C. (Preface “The Christ Has Come”)




 It is related that soon after his conversion, while discussing a question of theology with his father, Noyes advanced a view that was at variance with the accepted doctrine. “Take care,” said his father. “That is heresy. If you get out of the traces, the ministers will whip you in.” “Never!” said Noyes. “Never will I be compelled by ministers or any one else to accept any doctrine that does not commend itself to my mind and conscience.”

It is indeed unthinkable, that Noyes with his fiery zeal and independence of mind should for long continue within the rock-bound limits of the traditional creeds. We saw in the last chapter how nearly he came to a serious collision with a “set of domineering ministers” at North Salem. We have now to trace the course by which, starting in full sympathy with the church, a Pharisee of the Pharisees, he gradually passed beyond the boundaries of orthodox belief, and finally found himself completely without the pale.

In his Confession of Religious Experience Noyes says:

“I first advanced into actual heresy in the early part of the summer of 1833, while still a student in the New Haven Seminary. In the course of my Bible studies my attention was arrested by Christ’s expression in John 21 :22: ‘If I will that he [John] tarry till I come, what is that to thee?’ This seemed to imply that Jesus expected his disciple John to live until his second coming, and the disciples so construed it. The church on the contrary taught that Christ’s second coming was still far in the future. I had long been growing in the belief that the Bible was not a hook of inexplicable riddles, and I determined to solve this mystery. Accordingly I read the New Testament through ten times with my eye on the question as to the time of Christ’s second coming, and my heart struggling in prayer for full access to the truth. I soon perceived that every allusion to the second coming in which there was a clue as to its time pointed in the same direction; and when my investigation was ended, my mind was clear: I no longer conjectured, I knew that the time appointed for the second coming of Christ was within one generation from the time of his personal ministry.”

Noyes’s theory of the second coming was the key to his theology and consequently a most powerful factor in shaping his career. Since his exposition of the subject is contained not in a single book but in a large number of articles and talks scattered through forty years of his life, it is impossible to bring together direct quotations which will give a concise, connected account of the subject in its various aspects. The editor has therefore attempted in the following statement partly in his own words and partly in Noyes’s to present the theory as nearly as possible in the form it finally took in Noyes’s mind:

To prevent misunderstanding it should here be shown exactly what is meant by the second coming of Christ. A miniature of the transaction comprised in the first and second comings may be seen in the parable of the nobleman’s return: “A certain nobleman went into a far country, to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds. and said unto them, Occupy till I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received thc kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him [and he reckoned with them, rewarding them according to their several merits, and then said :] But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them. bring hither and slay them before me.” Luke 19:12-27.

We learn from this parable that Christ came, departed, and returned. We learn also that at his first coming he was comparatively powerless: that in the interval between his departure and his return he had received from his Father great power and authority: and that his second Coming was attended by the judgment, reward, and punishment of those who had witnessed his humble ministry and cruel death while on earth.

A more particular account of the second coming is contained in the twenty-fourth chapter of St. Matthew. In answer to his disciples’ question, What shall he the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world, Jesus described the unparalleled tribulations soon to be visited on the Jewish race culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem. Then he said: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

Because of the form of the disciples’ question in the English translation some have assumed, that the second coming was to be identified with the end of the physical world. But the Greek words translated “end of the world” mean only end of the age; and that Christ used them in this sense is evident from his reference in this same discourse to events that were to take place on earth long after his second Coming.

Again, because of the fact that the second Coming was manifestly associated in these passages with a day of judgment, many have supposed that the second coming would not take place until the final and general judgment of mankind. But an attentive study of the Bible leads to the conclusion, that the judgment of mankind instead of being a single transaction, as popularly supposed, is divided into two acts occupying two distinct periods of time. When Christ says that Jerusalem after its destruction “shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled,” he implies that the judgment of the Gentiles will be distinct from and long after the judgment of the Jews. The same fact is brought out clearly by John in the vision of the seals and trumpets. In this vision, when the sixth seal is opened, Christ appears on the throne of judgment amid signs in heaven and earth, and men hide themselves from his face, saying, The great day of his wrath is come. This is evidently the first judgment. Afterward the seventh seal is opened, introducing a long series of events attending the successive sounding of seven trumpets. At length, when the seventh trumpet sounds, Christ is proclaimed sovereign of the earth, and the stage is set for a second and final judgment.

The propriety of two judgments becomes apparent, when we consider the general plan of redemption as laid down in the Bible. As God divides mankind into two great families-the Jews and the Gentiles-so he has appointed a separate judgment for each. The harvest of the Jews came first, because they were ripened first. God separated them from the rest of the nations, and for two thousand years poured upon them the sunshine and rain of religious discipline. When Christ came, he said that the fields were “white to the harvest.” By the preaching of Christ and his apostles the preparation for judgment was completed, and at the destruction of Jerusalem the Jews as a nation were judged. Then the process of special religious discipline passed from the Jews to the Gentiles. For nearly two thousand years the Gentile crop has been maturing, and we may reasonably look for the Gentile harvest as near.

Thus it will be seen, that by the second coming of Christ is meant his coming with authority and power to reckon with, reward and punish those to whom he delivered the gospel at his first coming; the day of judgement for the apostolic church and the Jewish nation, not the final and general judgment; the end of the age or cycle which commenced with Moses, not the end of the physical world.

Christ in his various discourses explicitly limited the time of his second coming by five different but equivalent statements:

1. He placed it “immediately after” the unparalleled tribulations of the Jewish people leading up to and culminating in the destruction of their holy city and the extinction of their national existence.

2. He said that his disciples would not have gone over the cities of Israel in their mission of preaching the gospel before the Son of man would come.

3. He expressly stated that his return would take place within the lifetime of the generation then living on the earth.

4. He declared that some of those to whom he spoke would live to see the event.

5. He plainly intimated in the passage quoted above that John would be one of those who would survive until he came.

The apostles in their writings give abundant evidence that they understood these sayings of Christ in their literal and obvious sense. They exhort the churches to look and wait for the coming of Christ in language which would sound strange in the mouths of ministers today. They constantly speak of the event as near at hand. Paul plainly assumes, that he and some of those to whom lie writes will be alive on earth when Christ returns. Both church and secular historians are fully aware of this belief on the part of the apostles, and have noted the fact that the amazing growth of the church (luring the forty years following the crucifixion was partly due to the universal expectation among the primitive believers that the return of Christ for judgment, vengeance and reward was soon to take place.

In addition to the five explicit time-limitations quoted above Christ predicted three events within the church, which were to serve as signs of the near approach of his coming, namely, the preaching of the gospel throughout the world, the appearance of false Christs, and a great falling away among his followers. The fulfillment of these predictions is recorded in the New Testament itself, as will be seen by placing predictions and fulfillments in parallel columns thus:




Many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. Matt. 24: I I.


Many false prophets are gone out into the world. I John 4: 1. 



There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets. Matt. 2424. 



Little children, it is the last time; and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; where-by we know that it is the last time. I John 2: 18. 



Because iniquity shall
abound, the love of many shall wax cold. Matt. 24: 12. 

That day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed. II Thess. 2: 3. 



Thou hast left thy first love. Rev. 2: 4. 

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot. Rev. 3: 15.


This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. Matt. 24: 14. 



They went forth, and preached everywhere. Mark 16: 20. 

But I say, Have they not heard? Yes, verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the end of the world. Rom. 10: 18. 

The gospel . . . which was preached to every creature which is under heaven Col. I :23. 


Christ also predicted that the interval immediately preceding his return would be characterized in the world at large by an unexampled succession of wars, pestilences, earthquakes, eclipses and famines. Of these predictions no one denies the substantial fulfillment. Renan has shown that the period from 60 to 80 A. D. was characterized to an extent unprecedented in Mediterranean history by earthquakes, eclipses, volcanic eruptions, and crop failures resulting in famine.* And the most notable sign of all, the siege and destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans under Titus in the year 70 A. D., is as well authenticated as any fact in history. This event with its attendant circumstances was to the Jews a calamity horrible, stupendous, inconceivable. In all of its physical aspects, at any rate, it was a veritable national judgment. Jews by the hundred thousand, the flower of the race, who had come to Jerusalem from all over the world to attend the Passover feast, were caught in the Roman net and destroyed. Eleven hundred thousand, including all the aged and infirm, perished by sword and famine during the siege. Ninety-seven thousand able-bodied men were carried to Rome or sent as presents to the provinces, to be killed by gladiators and wild beasts in the games of the circus. All the children under seventeen were despatched as slaves to the Egyptian mines. The city and temple were utterly demolished. The daily sacrifice, which symbolized the Jewish religion and which, they believed, had been almost uninterruptedly maintained since the time of Moses, was forcibly and hopelessly broken up. The national and territorial rights of the Jews, which even their Babylonian and Persian conquerors had to some extent recognized, were completely and finally taken away.

But despite the fulfillment of the predicted signs it might still be objected, that history bears no direct

* These inorganic phenomena are not necessarily to be regarded as miracles. They may be, as F. W. Frankland has said, an inexorable prius to which the providential government of the universe can only be adjusted-not vice versa. -G.W.N.

testimony to the occurrence of the second coming itself. This leads to the inquiry, what according to Christ’s description was to be the nature of the event. The answer is, it was to be secret “like a thief in the night” ; omnipresent like the lightning; not with outward show, since the kingdom of heaven was within. In a word the second coming was to be, like the first coming, of a nature to confound and disappoint the expectations of worldly wisdom. There was to be an outward and visible index of portentous events, but the principal manifestation was to be in the invisible world, whither a large majority of the subjects of the Jewish dispensation had already departed.

Although history bears no direct testimony to the occurrence of Christ’s second coming at the end of the Jewish dispensation, there are nevertheless a number of circumstances which might be regarded as indirect confirmations of the foregoing theory. Among these the following are deserving of mention:

I. The destruction of Jerusalem marks the beginning of a strange hiatus in the records of the Christian church — a “historical chasm of sixty or eighty years” Heudekoper calls it. Where before we walk in the glare of authentic letters and narratives in abundance, immediately after we grope and stumble in a historic night. Luke for some unaccountable reason closes his narrative of the The Acts, leaving us in doubt as to the fate of Paul. Paul himself, inde-

* See also the preface to the 1887 edition of The Parousia (London) by J. Stuart Russel1, who advocates with great fullness of detail the preterist view of the second coming.-G. W. N.

fatigable publicist as he always was, writes no more letters, and sends no more messengers to the churches under his care. Mark throws aside his pen in the middle of an unfinished sentence, abandoning his gospel to be finished by an unknown hand. We have no certain information regarding the death of any of the apostles save the few who perished years before the critical period. Just as the darkness closes in, what Renan calls “the lightning-flash of the Apocalypse” for a moment illumines the scene. It is a warning message to the church that the coming of Christ is at the door. Then the curtain falls, and for seventy years almost the only authentic evidence of the existence of the church is the letter of Pliny to the emperor Trajan, which, as F. W. Frankland says, bears “oblique but eloquent witness in its account of the strength of Bithynian Christianity to the impression produced by great events in the recent Past.”

2. When at length the church again emerges into view, its character is totally changed. In place of the substantial unity of the apostolic church we find a main body represented by the so-called apostolic fathers, opposed on the one side by the Ebionites and on the other by the Gnostics. The early simplicity is already giving way to the ritual and organization of the Church of Rome. On examining the writings of these various sects we find what Reuss cal1s an “immense retrogression” from the views of the apostles. Puerility is the outstanding characteristic of all.

To the apostolic fathers salvation has become a mere matter of wages and mechanical arrangement. Prayer, fasting, alms-giving are efficacious to cancel an equivalent amount of sins. No difference is felt as to moral value between the law and the gospel. Heresy-limiting has become the chief intellectual concern. Extravagant claims of miraculous power are equaled only by the credulity with which they are received. The seeds of monasticism and saint-worship are plainly to be seen.

The Ebionites were a Judaizing sect. Because Paul broke loose from Judaism and adapted Christianity to world-wide needs, they rejected him as an impostor. They adhered to the entire Mosaic law, including circumcision, and observed both the Christian and the Jewish Sabbath. They circulated fantastic tales about a revelation given in the year 100 A. D. to a certain Elchasai by Jesus Christ in the person of an angel ninety-six miles high, accompanied by the Holy Ghost in the person of a female angel of the same stature.

The Gnostics were a sect of mystery-mongers. They relied for salvation on the observance of mystic rites, and the knowledge of mystic names, numbers, and formulas. They believed that the soul in its flight to heaven was opposed by a legion of demons, and in order to make a safe passage must know the name of each diabolical assailant and be provided with the requisite sacred formula to render him harmless.

No one of these sub-apostolic writers had any sure information regarding the last days of the apostles. Expectation of an imminent second coming of Christ, which was so rife in the Primitive Church, had wholly passed away.

3. The closing events of the apostolic age and the world movements of history which followed were singularly suggestive of the authority and power which prophecy had assigned to Christ at his second coming. The Jewish people, who had rejected and crucified him, driven from their native land and scattered among all nations in accordance with his prediction, remain to this day a monument of miscarried national hopes. Jerusalem, the scene of his humiliation and death, after being destroyed by the Romans was rebuilt only to be ground under the heel of Gentile oppressors for two thousand years. The Roman Empire, whose provincial governor delivered him to his accusers and whose soldiers executed their brutal sentence, was at length dashed in pieces. It was the last of the world-empires described by Daniel in his interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, and was succeeded in accordance with Daniel’s prophecy by a group of balanced and divided political powers. The Gentiles, previously from the Jewish point of view without the pale, were admitted to an equal share in the salvation brought by Christ, and in the new cycle, which commenced with the destruction of Jerusalem, became the chief subjects of religious discipline. The Christian religion swept with incredible swiftness to its complete triumph over Judaism and Paganism in the Greco-Roman world. The tiny record of Christ’s life and teachings, written not by Christ but by his disciples, preserved through centuries of pagan hostility and barbarian vandalism, was at last printed, translated into every tongue, and circulated more widely than any other book. The Christian nations with resistless tread advanced to sovereignty over all the earth. If Christ had then begun literally to “rule the nations with a rod of iron,” events could hardly have turned more in accordance with the prophecies of the Bible and the interests of his own kingdom.

In the foregoing review we have followed the stream of historically recognized events as it approached and passed through the predicted “end of the age” and finally merged with the events of the succeeding age. So far as these visible events are concerned the prescience of Christ in his eschatological utterances is minutely established. In regard to the invisible events, which were equally the subjects of his predictions, we can only say that the fulfillment of his predictions in the things that were seen creates a presumption, that his predictions were fulfilled in the things that were not seen; and those who have learned on other grounds to take Christ fully at his word may reasonably believe in a second stream of events parallel to the first, but beyond the verge of visibility. They will see in imagination a Judgment Assize set up in the invisible world immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem; punishments and rewards meted out to all the subjects of the Jewish dispensation; immortality of a vivid and dominant type attained by the faithful followers of Christ; and the emergence of the spiritual organization of which Christ was head as thenceforth the paramount factor in human affairs.

Noyes was one of those who took Christ fully at his word, and the second coming of Christ in its visible and invisible aspects was to him a potent reality. He measured the greatness of the event thus: “As the body is to the soul, so was the awful overthrow of Jerusalem to the second coming of Christ. The slaughter of eleven hundred thousand Jews was the visible and inferior index of that spiritual judgment, in which ‘the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man hid themselves in the dens and rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb for the great day of his wrath is come.’

The most important consequences of this theory may be stated thus

I. It reestablishes the credit of Christianity by reestablishing the credit of Christ and his apostles on a crucial point of their teaching. The idea that Christ and his apostles were mistaken in regard to the time of the second coming has been felt in all ages as a serious difficulty for the Christian religion and now that the “mistake” has been magnified to nearly two thousand years the difficulty has become well-nigh insuperable. How vulnerable Christianity is on this point, and how alive to their advantage hostile critics are, may be judged from the following extract from an article by Alexander Brown in the London Contemporary Review for March 1911:

  “At present the storm-center is the seemingly insignificant matter of the apocalyptic teaching of the Master. The accusation is made in the bluntest terms, that He uttered predictions concerning Himself, which time has shown to be false, proving that He misconceived His own importance and misread the future of His cause. This is meant to carry the implication, that one so visibly deceived cannot be trusted in anything else that He taught. This accusation of failure and falsity has been persistently made, and buttressed with much learning during the last ten years.”

The common view of the second coming, it must be confessed, leaves Christianity helpless against such attacks. The above theory, if true, is a complete defense.

2. This view removes the foundations of a great variety of false and harmful speculations in regard to the second coming, such as the following:

(a) The belief of William Miller, of the Adventists, and of numberless others throughout the Christian centuries, that the second coming was, or is about to take place.

(b) The belief of many, like Swedenborg and Ann Lee, that the second coming has recently taken place in their own persons.

(c) The belief of the Universalists that, since the judgment most frequently alluded to in the Bible was to take place within the lifetime of the apostles and evidently referred to the judgment of the Jews in connection with the destruction of Jerusalem, no further judgment of mankind need now be expected.

3. This view reduces the authority of the early Christian fathers to an amount commensurate with their actual merits. According to the accepted view the early Christian fathers, since they lived so much nearer than we to the time of Christ, must have been correspondingly more Christ-like than we; hence in the orthodox churches Clement, Ignatius, Papias, Barnabas were regarded as nearly if not quite equal in authority to Peter, James, John, Paul. And yet nothing is more manifest to a student of history than the fact, that the Christian church in passing from the first to the second century underwent a sudden and vast declension of quality. With this undoubted fact the foregoing theory of the second Coming exactly agrees. According to that theory the apostolic church, which attained the highest standard of character the world has ever seen, passed at the second coming into the invisible world; and the church immediately succeeding, being composed chiefly of newly-converted pagans and barbarians and lacking the genuinely spiritual nucleus which at the second coming was withdrawn from the visible world, instead of being more advanced than the church of the present day must of necessity have been far less advanced. To one who accepts that theory, therefore, the early Christian fathers with their crude ideas of morality and religion are examples not of an exalted spiritual state which we ought to strive for, but rather of a childish state which we have outgrown.

4. This view of the second coming invalidates all claims to ecclesiastical authority that are based on the assumption of historic continuity with the apostles. The thread of historic continuity, instead of connecting with the apostles, connects either with the unfaithful few* who at the second coming were rejected, or with the mass of immature believers who could not in any sense be looked upon as vested with apostolic authority. The only credential that can substantiate a claim of


* Noyes did not deny that there have been many true representatives of Christ in the world since the second coming. But he believed that, like the “two witnesses” described in Revelation, they have been “clothed in sackcloth,” not in priestly robes. He looked for the “remnant of the seed” of the apostolic church not among those who claimed authority inherited from the apostles, but among the heretics whom they persecuted.-G. W. N.

apostolic authority is present communication with Christ.

5. This view of the second coming gives a reason-able answer to the many attacks on Christianity which are based on the failure of the visible Christian church fully to embody Christian principles. First, the apostolic church, which alone exhibits the mature fruit of Christianity, fully embodied the principles of Christ during its career on earth, and has fully embodied those principles since its transfer to the spiritual world. Secondly, Christianity as we see it today is not an uninterrupted development of the Christianity that existed at the end of the apostolic age. On account of the withdrawal of the spiritual part of the apostolic church at the second coming and the assimilation of uncounted multitudes of pagans and barbarians during the two centuries immediately following, the Christianity of the third century A. D. represented a stage of civilization in many respects as low as that of the Jews in the time of Moses. It is to this low beginning that the development since must be added in reckoning the present position of the visible Christian church. And if the proportion of altruistic individuals among the Christian nations today is approximately as great as it was in the Jewish world in 70 A. D., which probably few will deny, Christianity must be pronounced an unequivocal success.

6. This view of the second coming brings into harmony the biblical and the evolutionary conceptions of religious history. The orthodox churches believed that religious privileges and experience had remained on the same general level since the time of Moses. Christians confessed sin the same as non-Christians; and Christians of the nineteenth century the same as Christians of the third century, or Jews of the twelfth century B.C. All, however, were devoutly hoping for a religious consummation to be suddenly manifested at some distant future date. This is the static conception of religious history. The foregoing theory, on the other hand, marks off religious history into cycles of definite aim and accomplishment. The second coming marked the end of a cycle which commenced with Moses. Its aim was the religious discipline of the Jews, and its consummation was the apostolic church, which, as will be shown in the next chapter, for the first time in human history attained the experience of complete freedom from sin Then a new cycle commenced, the aim of which was the religious discipline of the Gentiles. For nineteen hundred years the Gentiles have been toiling upward toward a consummation which Noyes believed to be close at hand. This is the dynamic or evolutionary conception of religious history. According to this view the religious experience of mankind, instead of being a static condition with a sudden cataclysmic dénouement, is a progressive evolution in harmony with the principle which governs all other known processes of life.

7. Finally, this view of the second coming rivets the attention of Christians to the apostolic church as the perfect pattern both in teaching and experience. As that church was the consummation of the Jewish era, the discerning Christian will see in it the consummation toward which the present era is progressing. And the Christian churches that have occupied the visible field since the second coming he will see in their true perspective, starting from a low beginning and advancing through the centuries to a point not yet as high as that of the apostolic church in 70 A. D. For instruction and example therefore he will look over the heads of Revivalist, Calvinist, Reformer, Pope, Apologist, and Christian Father, and fix his eye on Christ and the apostles; and so far as his faith is able to apprehend the apostolic church as a still existent spiritual organization, as the united triumphant church which Christ prayed for and predicted and which has always been the ideal of Christendom, so far will be able to draw on the stores of sympathetic help which flow from a sense of personal companionship and leadership in the battle of life.

Whatever may have been the objective truth or falsity of this theory of the second coming, its subjective effect was tremendous. It is difficult for us of the twentieth century to put ourselves back into the state of mind and feeling of the New England church of 1833. To Noyes, just completing his theological course at New Haven and thus far in full sympathy with the church, how revolutionary these conclusions seemed! What boundless possibilities of doctrinal reform opened before him! With what a consciousness of power did he attack the problems of the Bible! No wonder that he instinctively felt, and wrote to his friends, that he had entered upon a course of discovery which would probably end in his expulsion from the church.



(1) COMPLEX MARRIAGE – This is where every man and every woman is married to each other. They could engage in sexual intercourse, but could not be attached to each other as stated earlier.

(2) MALE CONTINENCE – This was a form of birth control where during and after sexual intercourse the man could not ejaculate.

(3) ASCENDING FELLOWSHIP – This is where the young virgins in the community were brought into the practice of Complex Marriage. The older godly members who were in a special group and were called Central Members would pick a virgin to be spiritually responsible for. This took place when the young people were about fourteen years old.

(4) MUTUAL CRITICISM – In Mutual Criticism, each member of the community that was being reprimanded was taken in front of either a committee or sometimes the whole community to be criticized for their action.

(5) CONFESSION – The members of the community, according to Noyes, were sinless after conversion, so no confession would be needed.

(6) REGENERATION – That Christ’s death was not for the sins of man, but was the first blow to Satan. But that by believing in the death of Christ, one was released from sin, because Christ destroyed the central cause of sin. By believing then, one is regenerated (Whitworth 101-102).

(7) SEPARATION – The members did separate into a community, but their main separation was to be a sexual one.

(8) REVELATION – Noyes never said that he received special revelation, though he did have some twisted interpretations. Noyes once wrote an article in “The Berean” and emphasized the credibility of scripture and denounced those who denied the validity and relevance of scripture.

(9) EQUALITY OF THE SEXES – The Oneida Community believed in equality of the sexes as stated earlier.

(10) MILLENNIAL KINGDOM – That the Millennial Kingdom had been introduced in A.D. 70 at which time Noyes thought Christ had made His Second Coming (Hudson 186).  – New York History: Oneida

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09 Mar 2004


Would please comment on how to approach (the ‘hermeneutics?) passages we often say are from a “cultural context’ (e.g., foot washing, head covering, etc)?

29 Sep 2004


I am looking for refernce to Henry Dunn


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