Morgan Edwards (1722-1795)
The Pre-Tribulation Rapture was taught by prominent Baptist leader Morgan Edwards. His Two Academical Exercises on the Subjects Bearing the Following Titles; Millennium and Last-Novelties was published in 1744 in Philadelphia.
Morgan Edwards was one of the most prominent Baptist leaders of his day. He was the pastor of the Baptist church in Philadelphia and the founder of Brown University, the first Baptist college in America. A summary of life was featured in the Baptist Encyclopaedia. He was one of the first Baptist historians of repute, his Materials Toward A History of the Baptists (1770) providing a foundation for all subsequent works.
Following is what Edwards believed about Bible prophecy:
“The distance between the first and second resurrection will be somewhat more than a thousand years. I say, somewhat more; because the dead saints will be raised, and the living changed at Christ’s ‘appearing in the air’ (1 Thessalonians 4:17); and this will be about three years and a half before the millennium, as we shall see hereafter: but will he and they abide in the air all that time? No: they will ascend to paradise, or to some one of those many ‘mansions in the father’s house’ (John 14:2), and disappear during the foresaid period of time. The design of this retreat and disappearing will be to judge the risen and changed saints; for ‘now the time is come that judgment must begin,’ and that will be ‘at the house of God’ (1 Peter 4:17)” (Edwards, Two Academical Exercises on the Subjects Bearing the Following Titles; Millennium and Last-Novelties, 1744).
We should note that Edwards believed that the tribulation would only be 3.5 years, so he was not promoting a “pre-wrath” or mid-tribulation position.
Edwards first wrote the previous statement in an senior essay while at Bristol Baptist College in Bristol, England, before coming to America. At the beginning of the essay, in a comment addressed to his teacher, Edwards said,
“And is it come to my lot to treat of the Millennium, or Christ thousand years reign on earth? Thousand pities, sir, that you had not allotted the task to one of these older and abler students! But since it is your pleasure, I will do my possible: and In The Attempt Will Work By A Rule You Have Often Recommended, Viz. ‘To Take The Scriptures In A Literal Sense, Except When That Leads To Contradiction Or Absurdity.’”
This rule of literal interpretation of prophecy is exactly the rule from which Pre-Tribulationists work today. It is the rule that I teach in my courses on Bible interpretation.
Edwards bluntly rejected the allegorical approach. Of the millennial kingdom prophecies, he said, “Miserable work do the Antimillenarians make of these texts.”
Edwards was writing 175 years before the destruction of the Ottoman Empire’s hold on the land of Israel (1917) and 200 years before the establishment of the modern state of Israel (1948), yet he knew that these things would happen. Consider the following fascinating prediction that he made based on a literal interpretation of Bible prophecy:
“The Turkish or Ottoman Empire will be demolished; for otherwise the right owners cannot possess their inheritance … The twelve tribes (as observed before) will return to their ancient inheritance, else how can the twelve apostles be their judges? … In this united capacity they will rebuild Jerusalem in its place, and the temple in its place on mount Zion; for in this temple will antichrist sit as god, and be the abomination mentioned by Daniel, and referred to by Christ” (Edwards, Two Academical Exercises on the Subjects Bearing the Following Titles; Millennium and Last-Novelties, 1744).
From the case of Morgan Edwards, it is obvious that there were Baptists in the 18th century in England and America who held the literal principle of interpretation of Bible prophecy as opposed to the allegorical.
We must remember that most preachers do not leave a permanent record of their teaching. From Paul’s day to ours, the vast majority of sound preachers have been common men as opposed to scholars.
Typically, they are not writers and do not publish books. In the record church history, we only have a tiny glimpse into what was happening, and that glimpse is based on the pittance that has survived of the little that was ever recorded.
The above writing is from a Pre-Tribulation stance ministry and writer David Cloud, Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org and this is his position and belief on this matter.
Please note the absence of any mention of when the “man of perdition” (The Antichrist) would be revealed which is one of the key events that defines when Jesus will come back. This is missing from the above text. This relates directly to 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 and the events described are in a particular order.