The testimony of the Old and New Testaments which
indicated that at the end of the 1260 years their abasement should end was nullified when
the Napoleonic government of France after having broken the power of the Papacy began in
November, CE 1799, to moderate its attitude toward it, "by putting an end to
religious persecution and thus indicating a forthcoming concordat with the Pope [July 15,
1801]" (Encyclopedia Britannica, Napoleon I, Vol. 16, p. 88, 1945 edition).
By thus fraternizing with the church system, it seemed that the
prophecies of the Old and New Testaments had failed, because the system which had
suppressed the Scriptures was not being set aside at the time appointed, but was receiving
recognition again. However, after three and one-half years, the Spirit of God caused these
"two witnesses" to be exalted, despite the fact that Bible suppressing papacy
was again receiving recognition.
Hence in May, CE 1803, Mr. Hughes "presented an impression of
an Essay, prepared in compliance with the wishes expressed at the primary Meeting, under
the title of The excellence of the Holy Scriptures an Argument for their more
General Dispersion." This placed in motion subsequently the formation of the
first Bible Society. (The History of the Origin and First Ten Years of the British and
Foreign Bible Society, Vol. 1, by Rev. John Owen, 1816).
At this same time we read: "In the course of the discussion
initiated by Mr. Charles, Mr. Hughes uttered the momentous suggestion: Surely a [Bible]
society might be formed for the purpose; and if for Wales, why not for the Kingdom; why
not for the whole world? It was hailed with enthusiasm; week by week the project was
debated; friends were approached; appeal was made to the public—through an admirable essay
by Mr. Hughes, The Excellency of the Holy Scriptures: an Argument for their more General
Dispersion, to assist in founding the first institution that ever emanated from one
nation for the good of all; a constitution was drafted by Mr. Samuel Mills, who
lived to serve for forty-three years on the Committee of the Society which he did so much
to organize, and at the general meeting of the Religious Tract Society in May 1803, the
urgent need for the association was pressed with fervid eloquence." (History of the
British and Foreign Bible Society, by W. Canton; 1904, p. 10)
While The British and Foreign Bible Society was actually formed in
1804 it resulted from the earlier meeting in May, 1803. It is just as Elijah prayed and
when he saw a cloud the size of a "mans hand," he ran to forecast to Ahab
and the nation that rain was coming. The cloud the size of a "mans hand"
did not bring the rain in 1803. However, it guaranteed to the Elijah class that rain was
on the way. This May 1803 meeting was in essence the cloud the size of a "mans
hand" (1 Kings 18:44).
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Copyright 2001 John Class