Rt. Rev. Titcomb: From the 19th-Century. Chapter 2

This is a third entry in a series on Bishop Titcomb’s probable evidence for British Israelism. Chapter 2 of his book, Message From the 19th-Century, posits unfulfilled promises given to  Abraham, Isaac, and Israel as confirmed in both the Old and New Testament. These promises, according to Titcomb, belong to the latter Messianic dispensation. 

Titcomb’s first point to is clarify the Abrahamic covenant as distinct from the Mosaic. The mosaic belonged to a conditional dispensation, e.g., “do this an thou shalt live”. But, due to the nature of man, the Mosaic covenant was insufficient to accomplish what was declared unto Abraham. Indeed, after numerous subjugations, deportations, and captivities, all that remained of Israel’s blessings was the faith of Abraham. Yet. Micah 7.20 says,

“Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from days of old.”

This same phrase is significantly repeated in Heb. 6.12-18, suggesting the promises given to Israel’s forefathers also belong to the church age or new dispensation. So, Titcomb presses the point even including our ‘latter days’.

“While all this helplessness was being exhibited under the law, the Abrahamic covenant was still surviving through the storm in the original fulness of it unconditional and imperishable grace. The Lord could not forget the oath which he had sworn unto Abraham and to Jacob; therefore, at last, came the Messianic Era, when Christ appeared to make good His ancient promises, and to vindicate His Eternal faithfulness. Then came those ‘latter days’, and those new lines of Providence which Micah called ‘the performing of  truth to Jacob and of mercy to Abraham’. In other words, it is only under our present Messianic dispensation (which is expressly called the ‘fulness of God’s time’) that the Abrahamic covenant of unconditional and sovereign grace toward Jacob can be really receiving its accomplishment”

The notion that God’s promises to Israel included latter-day fulfillment was a belief common to Titcomb’s native evangelical milieu (both premil or postmil adherents), easily going back to the 18th-century with men like Thomas Scott and Daniel Whitby, as well as Puritan moment in the middle-1600’s. Hence, Titcomb is not making an unusual point. A bit further down in the same chapter Titcomb repeats in basic point about Micah 7.20.

“That destiny, therefore, ‘sworn by God unto the fathers,’ could alone be developed on the pages of history after the Redeemer had appeared. And let us be well assured that as everything going before the birth of Christ had simply been initial and preparatory, so, whatever has since that period been left unfulfilled, must either be now accomplishing, or else be waiting for accomplishment, for we may be sure that no promise once ‘sworn unto the fathers’ can ever drift of lapse.’

So, Titcomb has laid forth his methodology: (1) He will make a case for British Israel on probable evidence (a typical approach for the 18th century, popularized by Butler); and (2) using similar common evangelical premises of his day, assumes portions of the Abrahamic Covenant remain unaccomplished even in the latter days. For Titcomb the latter days would include be the expanse of the British Empire, reaching the ends of Gentilism– a position typical of Postmillennial thinkers who tend to be confident about Christendom or Christianized institutions. With the hermenuetic described, Titcomb finally pledges to paint in the details of both:

It will be my function, in the following pages, to trace the nature of the unfulfilled promises by a careful and reverent study of the Old Testament, and to do so with no less an attention to the Spirit and teaching of the New Testament, taking care that the one is never made to contradict the other”



Rt. Rev. Titcomb: From the 19th-Century. Chapter 2

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