Matthew Chapter 24
VERSE 29 continued, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”
We quote as follows from Judge R. M. Devins, in "Our First Century":
"Almost, if not altogether alone, as the most mysterious and as yet unexplained phenomena of its kind in nature's diversified range of events during the last century, stands the dark day of May 19, 1780; a most unaccountable darkening of the whole visible heavens and atmosphere in New England, which brought intense alarm and distress to multitudes of minds, as well as dismay to the brute creation-- the fowls fleeing, bewildered, to their roosts, and the cattle to their stalls. Indeed, thousands of the good people of that day became fully convinced that the end of all things terrestrial had come, many gave up, for the time, their secular pursuits, and betook themselves to religious devotions. It was a wonderful dark day."
“For much of the god-fearing population of New England, the sudden blackout seemed positively biblical. “A very general opinion prevailed that the Day of Judgment was at hand,” wrote clergyman Timothy Dwight. People rushed to the nearest church to confess their sins and say a prayer. Some even hunted down their local parson and demanded an impromptu sermon. When asked for a spiritual explanation for what was happening, one sardonic reverend supposedly quipped that he “was in the dark about the matter just as you are.” (Remembering New England’s “Dark Day”)
Judge Samuel Tenney, LL.D., wrote of this "dark day" to the Historical Society in 1785, saying:
"Several gentlemen of literary ability have endeavored to solve the phenomenon, yet I believe you will agree with me, that no satisfactory solution has yet appeared."
Noah Webster, LL.D., wrote in 1843, in the New Haven Herald, concerning this dark day, and said, "I stood and viewed the phenomenon. No satisfactory cause has yet been assigned."
Rev. Edward Bass, D.D., First Episcopal Bishop of Vermont, in his diary for May 19, 1780, wrote: "This day is the most remarkable in the memory of man for darkness."
The darkening of the moon at its full the night following seems to have been little less remarkable than this darkening of the sun; a witness, Judge Tenney, of Exeter, N. H., is quoted as follows:
"The darkness of the following evening was probably as gross as has ever been observed since the Almighty first gave birth to light. I could not help conceiving at the time, that if every luminous body in the universe had been shrouded in impenetrable darkness, or struck out of existence, the darkness could not have been more complete. A sheet of white paper held within a few inches of the eye was equally invisible with the blackest velvet."
This unaccountable day, except as a sign from the Lord, is reckoned to have extended over 320,000 square miles—an area about twenty-five times the size of Palestine, to which the signs of the first advent were limited. Indeed, the fact that these signs were chiefly confined to the New England and Middle States need not surprise us, when we remember that the first movement amongst the "Virgins" (Matt. 25:1-5) was chiefly in the same locality. And that God should use the "land of liberty" for sending the message of these signs to the world, is no more wonderful than that he has been pleased to send from the same quarter many of the modern blessings and inventions and lessons, recognized by the whole world, and aptly emblemized by the gift of the great French artist, Bartholdi, to New York harbor—the statue of "Liberty Enlightening the World." (D586-588)
“Witnesses in some locales had noted that the Dark Day was accompanied by “thick, dark and sooty” rain and the smell of burnt leaves. Could the shadow have been a cloud of ash and smoke from distant wildfires?” More recent investigation points to this being the most reasonable cause.
Some may question why it was not positively proven at the time, but we must remember that at the time the range of European expansion into the new world only extended about 200 miles into the new continent. Later investigation would reveal that there was indeed a large forest fire in southern Canada about the time of this event, as proven by the ring cycles on trees in the area.
In our next post we will take a look at the next literal event which took place not soon after the tribulation of those days, the stars falling from heaven.
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