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The paper examines how people from the early 18th century viewed an apocalypse and includes a detailed discussion of the development of the apocalypse from the 17th to the 18th centuries. The essay also discusses how their perceptions at the conclusion evolved over time, including when they started to change. There have been countless ideas and prophecies put forth throughout time to explain the total and utter destruction of the world. The book of revelation in the new testament of the bible has been extensively used by doomsday prophets who have attempted to present evidence of an impending catastrophe. In the early years, several philosophers and individuals and self-proclaimed people have severally predicted various instances that the world was to come to an end but unfortunately time has proven most of the predictions wrong. In the second century, there was a Montanism, which was a schismatic Christian movement that predicted possible occurrence of the apocalypse. The movement had its roots in the Phrygia, the modern Turkey, and according to their Montanus, who was influenced by the power of the spirit, the end of the world was near. As a result, many Christian communities were abandoned, and thousands of believers left their homes and migrated to the plains of the villages of Pepuza and Tymion. In the villages, the self-proclaimed prophet believed that the heavenly Jerusalem would descend from heaven to that particular place. In the year 1524, Johannes, who was a respected German astrologer and mathematician, predicted a great flood which was to destroy the whole word. According to him, all the planets of the earth were to be aligned under Pisces, which was to act as a water sign.
The astrologer distributed hundreds of papers that predicted the date of the great flood, and fear spread among the people back in the days. Notably, there was a German nobleman who went ahead and builds a three-story ark which was to host him, friends, and his family so as to escape the mighty flood. Nevertheless, there were light rains during that day, but significantly no floods were detected. In the book of Revelation in the Holy Bible, the number 666, is referred to as the number of the beast. Therefore, in the year 1666, in the 17th century, many Christians feared the occurrence of the end of the world. Remarkably, in the same year, there was a great fire in the city of London that lasted for three days and significantly destroyed much of the city property. More than eighty-seven parishes and thirteen thousand houses were burnt to ashes, and many interpreted that as a fulfillment of the end of the world prophesy (Weber, Eugen 56). However, considering the death toll as a result of the fire which was less than ten people, the end of the world was yet to happen.
In the year 1806, there was a particular hen that was believed to lay special eggs that contained the message of the end of the world. However, it was discovered later that it was the owner of the hen how used to mark the eggs laid by the hen and the reinserted them back in the body of the poor bird. Before the revelation, many people despaired the coming to an end of the whole world. When she was forty-two years old, Joana in the year 1800, reported to hearing voices that used to predict the possibility of future events. Backed by the great famines that happened during that year, she published during that year, she published books, and she had thousands of believers. In the year, 1813, she prophesied that she would give birth to a second Messiah, who would be a sign of the end of the world. Notably, she died before she could give birth to the Messiah. In the year, 1831, William Miller, who was a religious leader preached the occurrence of the end of the world after the second coming of Jesus. He attracted thousands of followers who believed that they would be carried to heaven when the date arrived. However, the prediction failed to materialize, and he postponed his prophecy to a later date. Halley’s Comet used to pass by the earth after every seventy-six years by but in the year 1910; it was believed that it would cause the end of the world. In the yea, 1988, a Taiwanese religious predicted the appearance of God in the televisions and prepared his followers to buy spaceships so as to survive the imminent end of the world (Swift, Jonathan 12). Also, in the year, 2011, Harold Camping, a prolific predictor of the end time, predicted the occurrence of the apocalypse but nothing happened. Also, in the year 2012, there was a prediction of the end of the world after a predetermined collision of the earth with an imaginary planet and many people bought the survival kits but it never came to pass.Therefore, from the past to the present, there has been many theories, prophecies, and predictions that have been brought forward and are increasingly being made to predict the destruction of the world and possible coming of the Messiah.
In the early years of the 17th and the 18th centuries, there were significant revolutions and scientific advancements that occurred throughout the period. In the 18th century, the Enlightenment culminated in the American and the French revolutions. Notably, many philosophers dreamt of a brighter age to come to the world, and science and philosophy became of significance to the people. The idea of more glorious better days to come became a reality through the French revolution. However, the revolution was compromised by the reign of terror under the leadership of Maximilien Robespierre. The fear of power loss made the French revolutions formed coalitions so as to counteract the effect of the resistance movement. Therefore, the empire of the Ottoman experienced an extended period of peace and economic expansion. The empire did not concentrate more on strengthening its military and consequence; it suffered a significant loss against Russia in the second half of the century. The 18th century also marked the rise and fall of the Polish- Lithuanian Commonwealth, which was an independent state. Therefore, after conquering Moscow and the mighty army of the Ottoman, they collapsed due to consistent invasions. Due to the rise in the European colonization of other parts of the world and America, there were significance migrations that happened. Notably, the Great Britain increased a super power in the whole world, and there was a considerable defeat of France in North America, and after the loss of Britain in the American Revolution, the United States of America was formed.
Remarkably, the industrial revolution started in Britain which led to the production of improved steam engines which radically changed the environment and the society in general. Remarkably, in the 17th century, there were substantial variations in the fields of philosophy and science, and the newly invented machines changed the lives of people. Also, during this period, there was a notable transition from astrology to astronomy, and by the end of the 17th century, the scientific mutiny had taken root and became a determining force in shaping the lives of many people. Notable scientists of the time were Galileo Galilei, Blaise Pascal, and sir. Isaac Newton.
People from the early 18th century perceived an apocalypse as an event that was to happen, and through the many philosophers and ministers that used the holy book to predict the doomsday, terror was propagated throughout the world. The perception of the apocalypse changed with time, especially when previous predictions failed to materialize. People's faith in the predictions minimized with time. Remarkably, in the late 18th century, messages of a possible apocalypse were not received with a lot of weight. The driving force behind the changes was due to the scientific discoveries that were being made during the time prompting people to either focus on the apocalypse or avoid being lured into believing them.
The 17th Century’s Perception of The Apocalypse
The events of life in the early 17th century led to an assumption of a possible Apocalypse due to the growing destructiveness of war, and the desperation that was brought forth by famine and death. Notably, some diseases came up back in the days that made people believe that the end of the world was near. Basing major arguments with the Bible, the book of Revelation references more on the nature of the end days of the world. The book in its various chapters depicts the end days as times of increased warfare, famine, and other increased social evils. During the 17th century, such social evils such as wars were being experienced all over the world. Kingdoms were fighting against other countries and people killed each other quickly. The atrocities that had befallen the world in back in the days were a significant sign of a possible apocalypse. There were the violent end of the world fears and its ultimate destruction and the visions that were given at the time; they made sense to the people since they were backed up by the by the actual happenings of the time.
The fundamental principle of an apocalyptic experience is that of chaos and a strange phenomenon. In the 17th century, there were significance changes in population growth in the world that led to modifications in the environment through climatic changes.
Notably, the 17th century witnessed a shift in the lives of people from the ages of faith of the ages of reason. Literature of the days exhibit occurrences of turbulent times in the society, monarchies, and religion of the times. The religious controversies and civil wars shook the world that issues of disturbance in almost each and every aspect of life led to a shift and reformulation of the individuals in the society, social structures and perspectives of faith. Notably, the authors of the period offer their work as a proof of the many disturbances that were witnessed in the world. There were notable events in the 17th century that happened in England which was the central place of major events and occurrences in the world. There was a reformation in England that began as a religion and was faced by many upheavals. There was a hostility that arose from combining the state, and the church and people were jailed for practicing a faith that was not approved by the governments. Notably, in the days, the Protestant Church of England was perceived to hold the same practices as the Catholic Church, and there was a famous creation of sects such as the Puritans, Presbyterians, Separationists, which created an apparent rift between the people and the government.
Additionally, despite the tie between religion and politics, there were increased shifts in the monarchy and combined religious tensions. Also, with the death of Queen Elizabeth, King James the first, commissioned the translation of the Bible and from there several changes in monarchy leadership. All over the world, there was no stability in power, and it was during the 17th century that the world experienced notable changes on leadership. The civil war was a significant occurrence on the century which involved the parliamentarians and the royalists. Remarkably, the royalists used to support the monarchy, and they believed that the system of government was the ultimate rule by right of divinity. The notable historical event back in the days was beheading of King Charles after he was found guilty of treason. Also, advances in science were prominent occurrences in the 17th century. Despite the turbulence that was caused by the civil war, monarchy and religious differences, expansion, and exploration of science were at its toll. Great scientist in the likes of Isaack Newton and Galileo existed in the days. The birth of the famous Milton happened in the century and through his poems and stories such as the “Paradise Lost” which bought the theme of faith and the role of individuals in society.
In the 17th century, the end of the world was near according to some Puritans, and thus they sought to purify the Protestant Church of England from the international practices it was deemed to exercise. The group maintained that the Church of England was only partially reformed. Notably, the Puritans were not formally recognized as a religious sect, but some of their ideas were incorporated in the Church of England. However, many Protestant sects arose in the day. Also, many philosophers came up with the calculations of the doomsday, for example, John Napier’s doomsday forecast. In the century, people were more concerned with the destruction of the world due to the high degree of animosity that was witnessed among people. The monarchy people made several predictions of the second coming of the messiah but in vain.
The 18th Century’s Perception of The Apocalypse
In the 18th century, people started to gain some enlightenment in the way they lived their lives. Religious persecution was in the decrease from the previous time. Many Christians, Protestants, and puritans that rubbed shoulders with the government religious policies went into exile in fear for their lives. However, there were notable changes 9in Christianity where rationalism ruled the religious life. Also, in the century, the monarchy was profoundly challenged ad there was increased clamor for human rights and equality. People were more progressive in their thinking, and any form of government that would propagate policies that were against basic human rights met strong opposition from the citizens. However, the Monarchs remained in many parts of Europe while democratic governments were formed in many regions of the world. Also, many people became more knowledgeable to the word of God through the Bible, and thus had an idea of how the world will come to an end. The increased awareness of human rights led to historical movements such as the French revolution that led to political progress and infrastructural development in many parts of the world. Notably, in the world, there was a general classical liberalism where individual human rights were observed. The main elements of personal human rights engulfed freedom of religion, speech, and the press. Also, fair and treatment of the law were also encouraged, and the element of equality of all citizens of a particular country was supported .there was widespread equality of opportunity, even though it never meant that individuals should be equal regarding their wealth. Notably, through the notable progress on science, and rationality, liberal principles were employed that led to the better governments and the society as a whole. The representation in the government was not democratic since only those individuals that owned property and had a stake in the society could become representatives in the government.
Notably, in the 18th century, there were significant historical events that transformed the world. The passions of religious conflict and war were over and there a general decline in the demand of religious uniformity. However, there was a general increase in hardship due to increased taxation, and a war broke between the French and the English. Nations amalgamated, for example, Scotland and England became the United Kingdom of the Great Britain. Also, more scientists were becoming learned, and they became a voice of reason, leading to the building of more science academies. Remarkably, in the 18th century, Apocalypse was perceived to be something that could not be determined by the human mind, and many Christians did not concentrate more on the occurrence of the event. Many were enlightened by reading the word of God, and thus they were more aware of the signs of the end times.
Changes in the Perception of the Apocalypse Throughout 17th to 18th Century
There were notable differences in the perception of the Apocalypse throughout the 17th to 18th century. Events in both times compared and contrasted in a big way. In the 17th century, the monarchical was accompanied by reopening of the English theaters. On the other hand, in the 18th century, monarchies existed in limited parts of the world. Also, in the 17th century, the church and the government formed collaborations but in the 18th century, the two separated and they began opposing each other. There was increased demand for democracy, and those who refused to comply with the oppressive laws flew to exile. The 17th-century regimes did not have tolerance to people who opposed the government, and they were eliminated considerably. Also, in the 17th century, there existed widespread interreligious wars between Catholics, Anglicans, and Puritans, but in the 18th century, their world experience more religious tolerance. The 17th century was branded more of the clear voice of science since many significant discoveries were made during the time. In the 18th centuries, few discoveries were made, and the only notable changes in the field of science was an improvement of the theories and discoveries that were made in the 17th century.
Between the two periods, the perception of the end changed significantly, since people stopped thinking so much about the happening of the apocalypse, and concentrated more on building capacities in their lives. It was noted that during the 17th century, there was endless war and struggle for religion superiority but in the 18th century, people did not mind much about their religious differences by concentrated more on forming alliances that would help them better their lives economically.
The Driving Force behind the Changes of the Apocalypse
The greatest driving force for the changes that were experienced in the way people viewed apocalypse was bettering life. Each and every person wanted to concentrate on improving their life standard, and out of the many failed prophesies and determinations of the destruction of the world, people’s interest in the whole reduced. The increased revelation of the word of God to his nation was also a contributing factor, and people noted that, in the case of a rupture, there is life after that and it will be determined by how one will live the present life (Bacon, Francis 45). Therefore, Christians concentrated more on saving theirs on souls in the case of the destruction of the world. Religious freedom that was witnessed in the late 18th century was also a contributing factor in the changes in the way Christians viewed the destruction of the world. People were at liberty to interpret the Bible especially the book of Revelation which gives the various signs of the nearness to the end of the word.
People’s perception of how the world will come to an end was different depending on their win interpretation of the word. In the books of the Old Testament, it depicts the life of the Savior of the world, Jesus, who is quoted that, no one knows the hour or the time that the son of man will come in His glory. Such bible verses are not clear as to when the rapture will be, but the Faithfull’s continues believing that one day the end of the world will come. Other Christians claimed that the end of the world happens one a person’s life comes to a close, and thus, many concentrated on living a righteous life. The knowledge of life after death among Christians gave hope to the fact that even after the whole world is destroyed, there is life after that which will be made possible to those who trust in a God.
To sum it all, the idea of the apocalypse has undergone various changes especially during the 18th and the 17th century. Many theories have been brought forward to forecast the day the whole world will be destroyed, and many people have committed suicide for fearing the occurrence of the catastrophe. A scientist has tried to come up with various theories to predict the day in vain. Christians have used the Bible to rationalize the emergence of the day, and over the centuries fear has ever been propagated in the whole world as many constant dread the occurrence of the event. The significance of the changes in the apocalyptic perception is that people have turned their focus on the appearance of the day and are more concerned with preparedness for the unknown occurrence of the end of the world. Therefore, in conclusion, apocalyptic day remains a mystery that has never been revealed to anyone and according to the Bible only God know when, how and why the occurrence will happen.
Bacon, Francis. New Atlantis. Seaside, Oregon, Watchmaker Publishing, 2012,.
Swift, Jonathan. A Tale Of A Tub. Lanham, Start Classics, 2013,.
Weber, Eugen. Apocalypses: Prophecies, Cults, And Millennial Beliefs Through The Ages. Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press., 2000,.
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