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A Missionary to Britain


Hitherto the interest of this narrative, since Dr. Thomas landed in New York in 1832, has been confined to the United States of America. It was, no doubt, something more than a coincidence that the crisis he had passed through, leading to the issue of his Abjuration and Declaration, should have led to a great extension of the sphere of his activities. The prophetic element in his new understanding of the gospel of the Kingdom was necessarily connected with the Old World; America was unknown to the prophets of Israel, whose knowledge only comprehended the West as far as the Straits of Gibraltar. Their messages, therefore, were particularly appropriate for the peoples of Europe; and the Doctor being of English birth, particularly for Britons.


      The year 1848 is known as the year of revolutions. Although thirty years had passed since the final overthrow of Napoleon at Waterloo, the peoples of Europe had never settled down to the situation that had been imposed upon them, and things seemed to be reaching a crisis. Prophets of various kinds were abroad. England had experienced Chartist riots; the larger German states had been the scene of revolts and risings. In the Austro-Hungarian Empire the Hungarians were in a state of agitation, while the Balkan provinces were simmering with dissatisfaction and unrest against their Ottoman overlord.


      In the United States there was an idea that the tide of democracy would sweep away absolutism and set up a kind of universal republic on the American model. Dr. Thomas had no such idea: the thrones of Europe might appear to be unstable, but by Christ and his saints at his coming.


      There was no doubt about the message he desired to deliver; the question was, How would he find audiences in Britain where he was practically unknown? True, some of the Campbellites in the country had heard of him, but the things that had been said of him in their journals were not likely to attract people to any meetings he might address; they were more likely to cause them to stay away. These considerations did not cause him to alter his plans. The facilities for the proclamation of his message might be problematical, but as he felt his message was given to him by God, he persevered. The results have caused many to be thankful to God for the decision to visit Britain.


      In May, 1848, leaving his wife behind in the charge of a brother, the Doctor, accompanied by his daughter Eusebia, then a girl of about 12 years of age, left Richmond for New York, en route for Europe. In New York two Campbellite congregations permitted him to speak four times in their places of meeting. He also obtained the following letter of recommendation, which procured him access to the Campbellite fraternity of England.


“172, Spring Street, New York, May 30th, 1848.

“Beloved Brother Tickle, —I have the exceeding pleasure of introducing to your Christian acquaintance and courtesies our beloved brother John Thomas, of Richmond, Virginia, United States. He is an able proclaimer of the ancient gospel—such exactly as Christ, John, and Paul preached in their days, and is on a tour to your country to proclaim it to its people. Obtain for him a suitable house, and without fee or reward, other than the consciousness of being clear of their blood, and the free will offerings of such who may be able and willing to make them, he will make known to you the gospel of the kingdom in a manner, which, I presume, you have never witnessed. He is not what may be called a popular Christian orator. His style partakes of that easy natural kind of method, which has only to be listened to with desire to learn to be effective to the conviction of the understanding and the awakening of the affections. For your own sake, and that of the truth, get the people to hear. Entertain him, and you will prove him to be a Christian and a gentleman. Your brother,

In the hope of incorruptibility when the King comes,

Mr. G. Y. Tickle, Liverpool.                                                                                 James Beadman.”


Prior to starting, Dr. Thomas addressed a letter to the New York Morning Star, which resulted in the following notice appearing under the heading “A Missionary for Europe.”


“John Thomas, M.D., president of the Scientific and Eclectic Medical Institute of Virginia, sails in the De Witt Clinton, for Liverpool, on a tour through England and Scotland, to invite public attention to European affairs, ‘as evidential of the near approach of the kingdom of God.’ We understand that Dr. Thomas bears his own expenses.”


“From the cabin of the De Witt,” said the Macclesfield Chronicle, in reproducing the American notice, “Dr. Thomas addresses a letter through the editor of the Morning Star, to the people of America, in which he details the signs from which he testifies of future events. He declares that a war is at hand which shall devastate all Europe, and it is to end with the storming, sack, and destruction of Rome. He warns all the Jews to flee from Rome immediately, and to join those who are to combine for her destruction, which will be a prelude to the entire annihilation of the Roman Catholic religion. The letter is too long for insertion entire, but we give a few passages”: --


“ ‘From Rome, Vienna, and Constantinople, it was 1,700 years ago decreed that Warlike influences should go forth to all the potentates of Europe, to bring them together to a last and final struggle, where the power of God shall be visibly displayed, to the utter destruction of the oppressors of the world. Mark, then, I testify, by the light of the prophetic Word, that no power or diplomatic combination can maintain the world’s peace; the most terrible war that ever desolated the nations is at the door, and the king of the whole world will be engaged in it.’ ”


“ ‘I testify, or bear witness in behalf of the truth, that the events which have astounded the nations, and which began to shake the world on February 23rd, 1848, events which have rolled on in an overflowing revolution, from the banks of the Seine to the Danube, and which is destined to sweep over and submerge the Sultan’s throne—that this mighty convulsion is that “great earthquake,” which will be in its full manifestation, “such as has not been seen since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake and so great.”


“ ‘The true age of the world is 5,933 full years, ending last February moon, and the Anno Domini is 1843 full years at the same epoch, instead of 1847-8, so that the current year is that of 1844. The date of this article is the anniversary of the capture of Constantinople by the Turks. The people have possessed it 391 years on this day. Their possession of power to slay the third part of the Roman world with political death, is decreed for “an hour, a day, a month, and a year.”


An hour                                         0  30 days

A day                                             1  00

A month                                        30  00                                                                                     

A year                                            360  00   

Years,                                             391  30 days.


“ ‘In thirty days more this appointed time will expire, namely, on June 29th of the current year. After that date, then, we ought to receive information of important events in relation to the Turkish Empire, probably of a movement on the part of Russia against the Sultan, with that ominous fleet that has lately weighed anchor for Sebastopol. Russia is destined to overturn many countries, and especially to lay hold of the Turk with the hug of Bruin. Whether you have faith in this or not, place this document on record in your paper, and see if it do not turn out as I have said’.”


The Greek Empire extinguished by the

capture of Constantinople by the Turks

May 29th, 1453

The Greek Empire to continue extinct

Days       391

*Years,  391

The Greek Empire to revive under

Russia after

June 29th, 1844

True time, A.D. 1844, answering to

The vulgar era


“The writer goes on to say, that though Republicanism will not find a permanent establishment in any part of the whole world, yet every form of government now existing will disappear. He foretells great mischief to all nations which ‘worship the image of the beast,’ and particularly to Ireland, against whom his denunciations are full and severe. Finally, it appears that all kingdoms, empires, and republics are shortly to be done away with, and the world is to be re-organised. Such are the doctrines of the prophet who has just arrived in England to enlighten modern Europe.”

* Dr. Thomas afterwards saw in this 391 years (Rev. 9:15), the measure of the work of Mohammedan power in subduing the Roman Empire. See Eureka 2, page 512.

On the first of June, the Doctor sailed for Europe in the De Witt Clinton, a sailing vessel of 1,200 tons burden, which made the passage in 21 days. On arriving in England the Doctor first went to Manchester, where he stayed for a few days, and then went on to London, where he visited his brother, with whom he stayed during his visit when he was not travelling about the country.


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